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Fire Destroys Adams Apartment Building

Staff Reports
A massive blaze destroyed a building on Temple Street in Adams early Saturday.

Update: 2:45 p.m., Dec. 22:

One side of the building was occupied by the Palumbo family: Bruce and Brenda Palumbo lived in the downstairs apartment and their daughter Haley and her boyfriend, Mike, lived above them. Friends say Haley got everyone out of the house but her parents lost everything and she lost almost all of her things.

The family is also dealing with medical issues after Brenda Palumbo was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield later on Saturday after reportedly suffering a heart attack.

Haley Palumbo's best friend Kyla Cabana has started a fund drive for the Palumbos.

"They are amazing nice people and would do anything for anyone," Cabana wrote in an email message.

Cabana has set a goal of $5,000; by Sunday afternoon, more than $1,700 had been raised. AP Home Decor & More in North Adams is also accepting small cash donations for the Palumbos.


ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from four communities fought a massive early morning blaze that destroyed an apartment building on Temple Street early Saturday morning.

"The fire had a good hold on arrival and it was a team effort by all departments in order to get this under control," said Fire Chief Paul Goyette. "But the bottom line is no firefighters got hurt."

One of the tenants was taken to the hospital for a rapid heartbeat.

Cheshire, Clarksburg and Lanesborough fire companies joined Adams firefighters in attacking the blaze that tore through all four of the apartments in the building before burning into the attic.

"Once it went right through the roof, I pulled all of firefighters out of the building," Goyette said, for safety reasons.

The chief said the structure at 18 Temple St. was built in the 1800s and, like many buildings of that era, has a balloon construction frame that helped the fire spread.

The middle of the building was gutted and roof caved in between the attic dormers.

"I called it under control at 6:28 a.m. and we maintained a fire watch until 2 p.m. this afternoon," Goyette said.

The fire started in an external storage area near the rear basement level. The state fire marshal responded to the scene; it is under investigation and the cause has not been determined, said Goyette.

It will be up to building inspection and the compliance officer to determine if the structure will have to come down. The building is owned by James and Claire Adams, according to documents on file with Registry of Deeds.

Adams Ambulance and North Adams Ambulance services both responded to the scene. North Adams Fire Department covered the Adams station.

Goyette said only one call reporting a structure fire came in and it was not known if it was a tenant who alerted emergency services. He believed there were five people living in three of the four apartments, all of whom were outside the building when the Fire Department arrived. They were being taken in by relatives and friends and some of their personal items were recovered.

"It's a terrible thing to happen just before the holidays," he said.

A fundraiser has been started for some of the residents who were forced out their homes and lost so much just days before Christmas. Donations for the Palumbo family can be made here.

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Adams Police Seeking Information in Bar Robbery

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — Police are asking the public for help in finding a thief who made off with a safe from Chick's Lunch last month.

The burglary occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 23, after the Columbia Street bar had closed. Owner Dennis Knapp discovered the break-in at about 10 a.m. when he went to open up.

Video from security cameras show the thief coming from the back of the building, around into the kitchen area and behind the horseshoe bar. He is wearing a two-tone jacket, lighter on top, and a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, and is carrying some type of strapped bag. He looks away and down from the cameras — located at three spots around the bar — the entire time.

He enters the screen at about 1:13 a.m. and leaves about a minute later, hauling the small safe with the belts. He also appears to open some of the cooler doors as he moves around the bar.

Police didn't want to give out too much information during the investigation but confirmed there was cash in the safe. They released the video to see if anyone could aid in identifying the suspect.

"We're hoping someone might recognize the jacket or the way he walks," said Officer Keith Erdeski.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Erdeski at 413-743-1212.  
 

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Adams Alerts Respond to Early Morning Fire

ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning blaze damaged a home on Old Columbia Street on Sunday morning.

According to a release from the Fire Department, Richard R. Speed was awakened by smoke in his 399 Old Columbia St. home and called 911 at 3:28 a.m. to report a possible chimney fire.

Responding crews from the Adams Alert Hose Company found smoke showing from the gable vents of the attic and an active fire in the wall and ceiling adjacent to a woodstove chimney.

Firefighters were able to knock down the fire and damage was contained to the first-floor wall and ceiling. All units were clear of the scene by 6:09 a.m. Assistant Chief Edward Capeless stated that there were no injuries at the scene and the home is habitable.

The Cheshire Volunteer Fire Department responded via mutual aid to cover the Adams station for the duration of the call.

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Local Animal Advocate Offers Reward in Adams Cat Case

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Allen Harris, president of Berkshire Money Management, is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the recent cruel and sadistic treatment of a cat in the vicinity of Howland Avenue in Adams.

The young cat, named Cleo, was found left to die in a makeshift setup to hang the animal. Luckily, a passerby heard the choking cat, called 911, and saved its life.

"This is a heinous crime. I recognize that without some additional incentive the perpetrator or perpetrators may not be brought to justice," said Harris in a statement. "I implore anyone who knows something, anything, that may be helpful to law enforcement to do the right thing and report it."

Those with any information about the crime should call Adams Police at 413-743-1212.

Harris said he was shocked and appalled reading the details of the despicable acts. Such cruel behavior should not be tolerated, whether the victim is a cat, dog or any other living creature.

Harris and his wife, Stacey Carver, have been longtime supporters of vulnerable animals in the community. They have dedicated time and resources to several causes including Berkshire Animal DREAMS, New England Basset Hound Rescue, Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and others. Carver is a board member for Animal DREAMS and New England Basset Hound Rescue Inc. and Harris is a member of the city of Pittsfield Animal Control Board.

Cleo has recovered from her trauma but is still uneasy around humans. She is seeking a kind and loving home. Find out more about her here.  A benefit to offset the costs of Cleo's care is being held by Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue on Feb. 24.

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Adams-Cheshire Administrator Faces Drug Charge

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A police investigation led to the arrest on Thursday morning of an employee of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

Supervisor of Special Services Kurt M. Garivaltis, 45, is being charged with possession of a Class B substance, Percocet. He is to be arraigned on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Northern Berkshire District Court.

Superintendent Kristen Gordon confirmed on Friday that an employee was arrested after an ongoing investigation led authorities to do a car search in the school's parking lot and a search of the employee's office at about 7:45 a.m. on Thursday.

"At about 9 a.m., the authorities informed me they were going to make an arrest at that time and we put the school in a soft lockdown," said Gordon, who estimated the lockdown lasted about 11 minutes and was done to shield the children from seeing someone they knew in handcuffs.

She said at no time was anyone in any danger and the investigation had nothing to do with firearms or anything related to that.

"The authorities were extremely respectful of the fact this was an elementary school," she said, adding that the individual "is not working at the moment."

The arrest was made by the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit after executing a search warrant. According to a report filed in court by Trooper Daren W. Snyder, detectives discovered Percocet during the search "for which [Garivaltis] did not have a prescription."

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