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Fire Destroys Adams Apartment Building
Staff Reports On: 07:02PM / Saturday December 21, 2013
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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North Adams Police Urge Caution When Driving
On: 04:31PM / Tuesday December 10, 2013
A motorist collided with the back of a flatbed on Church Street, one of a half-dozen accidents on Tuesday afternoon.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The light snow that fell over the city on Tuesday afternoon resulted in a half-dozen motor vehicle accidents in less than an hour, according to police.

Within minutes, officers and firefighters responded to a car in ditch off West Shaft Road near the Zavattaro Athletic Complex in which an occupant in the car needed help in getting out, a single-car accident by Brown Street, a car into a flatbed truck on Church Street near the Berkshire Tower dormitories and a two-vehicle collision near Walmart.  

Police used their Facebook page to remind motorists to drive carefully.

"As the winter progresses, allow yourselves a little bit of extra time to get where you are going. Take a look at your tires and if they are getting low on tread depth, don't risk driving in the snow. It's just not worth it. The amount of money spent on damage to your vehicle, or injuries sustained as a result of an accident, will far surpass what it would cost to get new tires. Have a good day everyone!"

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Superior Court Briefs: November 26 - December 5
Staff Reports On: 10:19AM / Friday December 06, 2013

Cases heard on Tuesday, November 26.

Daniel Lowenstein, 23, of Amherst was sentenced to three years at the Berkshire County House of Correction after being found guilty of numerous charges on Nov. 21.

Lowenstein was found guilty by a jury on three counts of distribution of marijuana and single counts of possession of a sawed-off shotgun, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

He was give two years on the possession of a sawed-off shotgun and given an additional sentenced on a single count of distribution of marijuana. He was placed on two years probation on the possession of a firearm with defaced serial number and concurrent time of the other charges.

Lowenstein sold marijuana to an undercover police officer in Great Barrington on February 23, 2013, March 2, 2013 and March 9, 2013 and in possession of the drug with intent to sell it on March 9, 2013. The other charges occurred in Great Barrington on March 9, 2013.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, December 3.

Christopher Maschino, 22, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony and three counts of larceny in a building.

The charges stem from a series of house breaks in Lanesborough between February 22, 2013 and March 12, 2013. He was released on personal recognizance but is currently being held on bail on other charges.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, December 5.

Barton Jones, 32, of Troy, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed robbery, assault by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and battery.

The charges are in connection with an incident involving a 28-year-old man in North Adams on January 10, 2013.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $75,000 cash or $750,000 surety bail.

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North Adams Man Arrested in Scooter Theft, Multiple Warrants
Staff Reports On: 05:30PM / Thursday December 05, 2013
Patrick Gaffey, 45, and Debra Gaffey, 41, of North Adams were arrested in Hartford, Conn., on Wednesday.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A North Adams man wanted in the robbery of a local woman's scooter two months ago, among numerous other charges, was arrested Wednesday in Hartford, Conn.

Patrick Gaffey, 45, and his wife, Debra Gaffey, 41, both were taken into custody at the behest of the North Adams Police Department after receiving information that they may do harm to themselves or their autistic son.

Patrick Gaffey was arrested by the Hartford Police Department as a fugitive from justice based on an active warrant in Massachusetts. Both were also charged with possession of narcotics after police said they found more than 100 bags of heroin in their minivan and possession of narcotics within 1,500 feet of a school. They are also facing third-degree larceny for allegedly stealing the minivan they were driving.

Their son was transported to Hartford Hospital for evaluation and then released to the care of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families.

Hartford Police apprehended the pair at about 2 p.m. on Wednesday. North Adams and state police detectives and state police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section relayed the general area where they were believed to be and Hartford Police picked them up minutes later.

Patrick Gaffey has multiple arrest warrants in Massachusetts for which he will be brought to back to face once waiving extradition; if not, a governor's warrant will be requested.

Gaffey is wanted by North Adams, Holyoke and Clarksburg police departments and state police for nine arrest warrants.

Gaffey and Jesse Sprague, 31, of Cliff Street, were also arrested in a purse snatching in October at Ingleside Mall in Holyoke.

In September, police began an investigation into the theft of more than $50,000 worth of collectable toy trains, toys and other collectables from a storage unit in North Adams. Detectives were able to locate that some of the items were being sold on eBay by a man located in Ludlow. With the assistance of Ludlow Police detectives, a North Adams detective working undercover purchased multiple toy train accessories from the man in Ludlow.

Oct. 12, 2013, North Adams and Ludlow detectives with the assistance of the Adams, Lenox, Great Barrington and Wilbraham police departments executed a search warrant for the stolen collectables and recovered approximately $35,000 worth.

Gaffey is also charged with the following offenses:

North Adams
Larceny more than $250, scrap metal in March 2013; six counts of larceny by check less than $250 and three counts of uttering a false check in May 2013; possession of heroin from a motor vehicle stop in August 2013; and four counts of uttering a false check and three counts of forgery for allegedly stealing a checkbook in November 2013.

He and another as-yet unnamed man are also charged with larceny more than $250 related to the scooter theft in September. Police were investigating the theft of Suzanne Williams' scooter. Williams, always accompanied by her doll, Suzy, is well known around the city and community members have been raising funds to replace her scooter.

Regarding the collectibles theft: Larceny more than $250, breaking and entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony and malicious destruction of property more than $250. Warrants issued by Northern Berkshire District Court.

Larceny more than $250 in the theft of a motorcycle in August 2013

Unarmed robbery of a person 65 years old or older in relation to the purse snatching from a 73-year-old woman in October (with Jesse Sprague).
Possession of burglarious tools, from an investigation in October 2013.

The North Adams Police Department continues to investigate other similar related crimes for which Gaffey is a person of interest. With the assistance of the Williamstown Police Department, detectives are attempting to locate the owner of 1960s-era scooter that has been stolen from the Northwest Hill area of Williamstown or possibly in Pownal, Vt., in September or October 2013.  If anyone has information concerning the scooter they are asked to call the North Adams or Williamstown police departments.

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Man Charged in Fatal Williamstown Accident
On: 02:16PM / Monday December 02, 2013

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A Rhode Island man has been charged with vehicular homicide and drunken driving in the fatal crash that killed 64-year-old Lawrence George on Nov. 24.

William D. Lowe, 34, of Columbus Ave., Pawtucket, R.I., was arraigned Friday in Northern Berkshire District Court on charges of homicide by motor vehicle by negligent operation and under the influence of alcohol, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle and speeding.

Lowe was heading northbound on Route 7 (Cold Spring Road) in a Ford Explorer on Sunday, Nov. 24, when his vehicle crossed the center line just past Mount Greylock Regional High School, said police, colliding head-on into George's Hyundai Electra. The crash occurred at about 10:40 a.m.

George, a Dalton native who was working for Williams College, was pronounced dead at the scene. The road was closed for several hours as police conducted an investigation of the crash.

Williamstown Sgt. Scott McGowan executed two search warrants on Wednesday, Nov. 26, as a result of the investigation, focusing on Lowe, who was then at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, and on his sport utility vehicle. The next day, Pittsfield Police arrested Lowe at BMC and brought him before a judge at Central Berkshire District Court; he was held without bail until he could be arraigned in North Adams.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible. Williamstown and state police are coordinating the investigation.

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News Headlines
SABIC to Leave Pittsfield; 300 Area Jobs to Be Lost
Cheshire Fire Department Treasurer Accused of Larceny
Pittsfield Housing Authority: Worcester's Program Not A Fit Here
Lanesborough FinCom Continues Discussion On School Funding
North Adams Fire Department Opens Doors To Public
Clarksburg Voters to Decide School Feasibility Funding
Pittsfield Approves Renaming Pitt Park For Reverand Durant
Heating Leak Causes Thursday Closure at Williamstown Elementary
North Adams Happenings: Oct. 7-13
Girl's Walk to Cure Diabetes Team Holding Painting Party Fundraiser

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