Officer Gregory Onorato was honored on Tuesday night for his conduct during an incident in the city in June.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday gave Officer Gregory Onorato a standing ovation for his "courage and professionalism" in relation to a stabbing incident in June.
"We are very, very fortunate in the city to have the types of officers we have here," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, in delivering the commendation to Onorato. While officers are faced with serious incidents, this one, he said, "was really kind of special."
Onorato had been on patrol the night that a fight broke out outside the Artery Lounge in the early hours of June 15.
He drove up to a crowd of 50 or more in the street and, "upon getting out of the cruiser, he was overwhelmed with unknown people coming to him explaining that a person had been stabbed and another had a bottle broken across their face and that they needed help."
Onorato had the presence of mind to assess the situation, guard the victims, call for aid and provide a "detailed description of a fleeing vehicle purporting to contain the suspects."
All within minutes and while staying there, alone, for 10 to 15 minutes while "the situation was very dangerous and chaotic."
Onorato said he wasn't really alone that night or any night because he knew he could count on the officers he called his "brothers" and the dispatchers who had helped, a number of whom were in attendance to see him being honored.
"There are a lot of great guys that are here right now. They're my brothers," he said. "I know they all would have done the same thing if they had been in the same situation.
"It isn't special. It's what we do"
Police Director Michael Cozzaglio, however, credited Onorato's level-headedness with the survival of the victims and the arrest of six suspects. It was an element of the officers' professionalism and training, he said, that results in their ability to maintain their composure in critical and dangerous situations.
"It reflects on our department and our city as a whole," said Cozzaglio. "We are here for all of you and we thank you for your support."
In other business at the brief meeting, a discussion of the transfer station devolved at points to trash talk.
The discussion, requested by Councilor John Barrett III, had been postponed from the council's lengthy meeting.
Barrett said his concern was over the account transfers in July that had included $100,000 for the city's engineers, Tighe & Bond, for a study of the former landfill without first notifying the council at a time when the "city is broke." A report had already been done by the engineers in 2009 with at a cost of $10,000 to $15,000, he said.
He also took issue with statements that the transfer station had been operating without a permit for years, and said the use of the Maxymillian building to contain the recyclables was a violation of the 1992 permit because it "was outside the footprint."
Councilor John Barrett III objected to statements about the transfer station and the money used toward a study of the property.
"We should be determining which way to go before doing a study," said Barrett, arguing the city should determine which direction it will take in regard to commercial and residential waste first. "You appoint a committee to look at it."
Engaging the study may have been "putting the cart before the horse," said the mayor, "but I'm not going to apologize for trying to be compliant with the DEP. ... We need a different situation. ...
"If we're off the footprint we're off the footprint, then bring me to the DEP."
The Department of Environmental Protection was aware of the use of the Maxymillian building, he said, and while "pacified" for the moment, it has insisted that something permanent be done.
The mayor said levels of service are being explored; Tighe & Bond estimated $2 million to keep the operation going as it is, with the access for commercial haulers. The problem is how to pay for that: "We can't put it back on the tax rate," he said.
He said Administrative Officer Michael Canales and Public Services Superintendent Timothy Lescarbeau could come to another meeting and answer any questions; Barrett said he should be able to respond to council or resident queries and accused Alcombright of rushing to get the issue to the Public Services Committee before Tuesday's council meeting.
Public Services Chairwoman Nancy Bullett responded that she had asked for an update on capital projects, particularly the transfer station, adding that anyone was welcome to attend the meetings. Barrett retorted that she should have asked about the $100,000.
Alcombright accused Barrett of dwelling on conspiracies, Councilor Jennifer Breen said they were both acting immature and Barrett said she was trying to blame him for everything.
The transfer station has been brought up at various times over the past few years. The plans drawn up by Tighe & Bond were presented to the Finance Committee in June.