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Board members spoke with attorney Brian Shea, whom they are considering hiring.

Adams Board May Hire Lawyer for Complicated Housing Cases

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Health is considering hiring an attorney for its housing cases. It also approved a blood pressure-screening program by Gentiva Home Health.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health is considering hiring an attorney to deal with its housing court cases.

The board met last week with attorney Brian Shea, who specializes in housing cases.

"I spoke with a few of the people in housing court…and attorney Shea comes highly recommended," Code Enforcement Officer Scott F. Koczela said on Wednesday. "… I have watched him in court; he is very professional and very thorough, and I felt that he would be a great fit for us."

With an influx of more complex cases, Koczela said he does not have the knowledge to handle all of them. He said he can do small legal cases, but the Board of Health needs an attorney.

"It seems as though lately our defendants are getting more and more combative and cases are getting a little more complicated so that’s why we have turned to a knowledgeable attorney," he said.

Shea's office is located in Agawam, but he is often in the area for housing court in Pittsfield. He said anytime he may not be available, he has an associate who can cover for him.

"I try to take a very hands on approach," Shea said. "When I get a client or have a case I try to make all the appearances and handle the case start to finish, but in the rare occasion things happen … he will be able to step right in."

Housing cases have become a cornerstone of Shea's practice since he began picking them up 13 years ago. He said he does not see himself moving away from them.

Shea said he represents housing authorities, but none in Berkshire County at the moment. He added he does represent landlords in Berkshire County, but none live in Adams so there should be no conflict.

The board was concerned that Shea may be biased because he normally represents landlords but he assured them it was not an issue.

"For me the issues are black and white," he said. "Whether it's the tenet or a land lord, the violation is the violation, and…my obligation would be to the town to enforce what you are looking to enforce."

Shea said he would explore any payment method the town would like to offer. He said he can work for a monthly flat rate or case by case at charge of $190 an hour.

"The last thing that I would want in any client relationship is for them to be bitter over money," Shea said. "I understand that no one wants to pay an attorney … and I want it to be fair."

Chairman Allen Mendel said there are many pending cases and a lawyer is needed soon. The board will make a decision in the near future.

The board also approved free blood pressure clinics for the elderly from Gentiva Home Health

The Medicare-based national program has been around for 40 years and provides clinics and educational seminars in communities.

Donna Gorson of Gentiva said the program wants to educate seniors and keep them out of the hospital.

"We do this as a community service … it's just a service for your seniors to monitor their blood pressures and make sure they are safe," Gorson said. "If we do see a trend in high blood pressure we can contact their physician so they can get the care they need and stay in their home instead of in the hospital."

This service was originally provided by the VNA & Hospice of Northern Berkshire but Adams no longer has a contract with that group.

"It sounds good," Mendel said. "... How could you not refuse a free service, and … this is a good way to get these services back online."

Tags: board of health,   housing,   housing court,   

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