ADAMS, Mass. — The town's code enforcement officer will leave Adams and take up a new position with the state.
Scott Koczela told the Board of Health on Wednesday that he will be working for the state Department of Public Health in Northampton starting Jan. 25.
Koczela thanked the board members and said he will miss working for the town.
"This is my home town where I grew up and lived in for most of my life," he said. "I care a lot about it and I just wanted it to succeed, see it get better, and protect it from people that were here to exploit it ... I enjoyed working here for most of my 10 years."
Board member Roy Thompson, who was on the board prior to Koczela's arrival, said he really improved the town.
"I think you have really done a great credit for this town, and you have done one hell of a job," Thompson said. "I came in before you an it was OK, but you made it really effective and you set us on the right course."
Board member Bruce Shepley said he will miss working with Koczela directly, but looks forward to working with him in his new position.
Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco said the town will hire a new full-time code enforcement officer, although he plans to make some changes to the job description and realign duties. There will not be a pay grade change.
"I do not expect it to change substantially," he said. "We're working on a draft job description update that the board may look at next week."
The code enforcement officer was briefly eliminated last year to supply more funds to the school district. After public outcry, the position was brought back, but with new responsibilities combining more duties from the Community Development Office.
The board of health also heard from James Wilusz, executive director of Tri-Town Health Department, who outlined the Tobacco Awareness Program.
For the past few months the board has shown interest in possibly raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21.
Wilusz said he could help the board begin the process, write the new regulations, and also be present for public hearings.
He added if the town opted into the program and became a funded member, it could benefit from many other aspects of the program such as enforcement and compliance.
Adams could also take advantage of grant funds through the Tri-Town Health Department that will pay for retailer education and training, outreach, technical assistance, and pricing checks
"If you want to do some kind of tobacco control but don't have the time to do it, it's as simple as allowing us to come in and work with you," Wilusz said. "It's hard when you have a part-time Board of Health or elected board members that have full-time jobs or families ... you have all of this responsibility and it is overwhelming."
Wilusz said smoking is an issue in Berkshire County and that the program represents 12 Berkshire communities including North Adams, Dalton, Lee, Pittsfield and Great Barrington. He added some municipalities have no need to join because they do not have any stores.
Wilusz said the town will have a chance to joint the program in a few months.
The Board of Health plans to have a workshop meeting toward the end of the month before they hold their public hearing.
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This is a loss for Adams and a gain for Northampton. Hopefully also a gain for Mr. Koczela .
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