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President of Enviro-Labs Faces Additional Charges

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — William Enser Jr., the president of Berkshire Enviro-Labs, was back in Superior Court on Tuesday facing new charges.

Enser previously pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of knowingly falsifying reports submitted to the state Department of Environmental Protection and 15 counts of willfully making false reports to MassDEP. He allegedly backdated drinking-water sample analysis to cover up misconduct and feign compliance with environmental laws.

He now faces an additional 14 counts of willfully making false reports to the MassDEP and another 14 counts of knowingly falsifying submitted reports, all of which he pleaded not guilty to in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday. The additional charges brings the total counts up to 58.

According to Attorney General Martha Coakley, Enser, 63, of Lee, continued to work at the lab through February 2013 and failed to submit required sampling that showed bacterial contamination in drinking water samples.

Enser allegedly hid samples that revealed contamination and instead took multiple samples and sent only passing results to the state. Authorities say that in one instance in October 2012, Enser directed an employee to report a drinking water sample which had come from the tap in the Enviro-Labs’ office instead of the public water source.

The lab's certification for testing samples has been revoked by the state.

"These additional charges allege that this defendant failed to submit water sample analysis that showed bacterial contamination to the MassDEP," Coakley said in a press release issued on Tuesday. "He is now prohibited from being involved in the operation of the company and is no longer able to tamper with water testing reports and potentially put people at risk."

After the first arraignment, Enser was prohibited by the court to act as the drinking water system operator, take drinking water samples, conducting water testing or reporting water data. But, he remained active with the company and Judge Daniel Ford ordered receivership of Enviro-Labs. Enser is prohibited from being involved in the company in any way.

"The Environmental Strike Force's continued investigation into the activities of Mr. Enser, who has already been indicted for falsifying drinking water reports, has now revealed evidence of additional fraud," said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of MassDEP. "MassDEP is committed to upholding the integrity and the safety of drinking water programs across the Commonwealth."

The investigation began in September 2012. Enser is due back in court in June.

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Train Derails in Lee

Staff Reports
We were sent this pictures on Sunday of a train derailment occurred at Columbia Mill in Lee, where Columbia Street runs into East Center Street. Cranes can be seen lifting cars back into position. No further information was available.

 

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Lee Man Charged in Shooting

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Lee man is pleading not guilty in connection with a shooting Thursday evening in Lee.  

Phap Nguyen, 51, is being charged with shooting a 30-year-old man, whom police said is his stepson, at Nguyen's 175 Bear Mountain Road home.

According to the district attorney's office, Lee Police were called to the scene of the alleged shooting at 5:45 p.m. on Thursday. Officers from Lee, Lenox, Stockbridge and state police from the Lee barracks along with members of the Berkshire County Special Response Team responded.  

The victim, Jeremy Lee Deane, was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he underwent emergency surgery for gunshot wounds to his legs and abdomen. According to a BMC spokesperson, the victim is in stable condition.

It is alleged that Nguyen also shot and killed a dog belonging to Deane.

Nguyen appeared Friday afternoon in Central Berkshire District Court before Judge Michael Ripps.

He had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed assault with intent to murder and cruelty to animals. Ripps ordered that he be held without the right to bail and sent him to Bridgewater State Hospital for a competency evaluation.  

Nguyen is scheduled to be back in Southern Berkshire District Court in Great Barrington for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 3, 2013.

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Berkshire County Firefighters Battle Brush Fire In Lee

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Staff

The staging area on Reservoir Road is just one of three where firefighters are attacking the fire.
LEE, Mass. — Firefighters from 19 fire departments and the state Department of Conservation  battled a massive brush fire near October Mountain State Forest on Thursday afternoon.

Fire Chief Alan B. Sparks said the fire had burned through more than 30 acres since being reported shortly after 1 p.m.

"I'm not going to say it's contained," said Sparks at one of the staging areas earlier in the afternoon. "I'm going to say some of it's contained."

The fire was reportedly contained around 7 p.m. with some departments ready to pack up and head home.

The fire began in the back yard of a Sharyn Drive property where someone was burning brush. The chief said the man had a permit to burn but lost control of the fire.

Staging areas had been set up at Sharyn Drive and Lander and Reservoir roads in an attempt to surround the fire. Sparks said it keeps jumping everytime the wind picks up.

Firefighters were using ATVs and hauling water in tankers to reach the flames. Adams Forest Wardens were among the North County departments at the scene. They had arrived one staging area and were awaiting instruction. Pittsfield, Tyringham and Richmond were also there.

There had been talk of using a Massachusetts National Guard helicopter to scoop water out of Laurel Lake to help douse the flames but it was not clear when and if that was going to occur.

Sparks said he didn't know how long firefighters would be on the scene.


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Massive Fire Devours Lee Lumber Yard

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Krause
Firefighters from all over the county helped to extinguish the fire.
LEE, Mass. — A massive structure fire on Railroad Street gutted a building at the century-old Dresser-Hull lumber yard on Tuesday night as nearly 70 firefighters battled the blaze in icy conditions.

The blaze began sometime before 8 p.m., consuming one of the main storage buildings in a huge ball of fire and sending smoke pluming over the town. It took nearly two hours to bring it under control.

Fire Chief Alan Sparks said it was not yet known how the fire began. He confirmed there were six or seven trucks inside the building and several explosions as the vehicles caught fire.

"There was a lot plywood, Sheetrock, different building materials," he said. "I'd say right now they were destroyed."

Firefighters from Lenox, Monterey, Dalton, Lanesborough, Great Barrington and Stockbridge were among those at the scene.

Battling the blaze was complicated by frigid conditions and icy surfaces. Firefighters were still putting out hotspots at 10 p.m. and expected to be on the scene all night.

"It's a windy night and a very cold night," Sparks said, adding the wind hampered the containment by fueling the blaze.

Main Street, Route 20, in Lee was closed for hours and traffic detoured. The Department of Public Works sent out sanders as streets around the blaze iced up because of the water from the hoses.

Dresser-Hull has been owned by the Shields family for more than a half-century at 60 Railroad St. It offers a variety of lumber and home improvement supplies and kitchen design center. It's website lists three boom trucks, three box trucks and a number of forklifts and flatbeds for delivery use.

Here are more photos from the scene.




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