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North County Cares Coalition member Richard Dassatti asks the board to endorse the resolution.

Adams Selectmen Endorse Resolution Calling for Detox Center

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The Board of Selectmen are happy that the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is set at the top of Mount Greylock in the recent J.K. Rowling story.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Selectmen unanimously endorsed a resolution written by the North County Cares Coalition asking state officials and Berkshire Health Systems to open a facility for detoxification and substance abuse recovery in North Adams.

Selectman Joseph Nowak invited North County Cares Coalition members Richard Dassatti and James Lipa to Wednesday’s meeting after he saw the same resolution pass in at the North Adams City Council last Tuesday.

Dassatti said the resolution calls 11 to 12 beds, numbers taken from Stroudwater Report commissioned by the Department of Public Health after the closing of the North Adams Regional Hospital, for detoxification and clinical stabilization to help combat the opioid crisis in the Northern Berkshires.

“We are thanking the state officials and Berkshire Health Systems for restoring outpatient services at the campus, but now we are calling out to them to start putting inpatient beds,” Dassatti said.

Lipa said the town of Adams has been affected by the opioid crisis and said in 2014 there were 207 Adams admissions at the hospital for detoxification treatment, 39.6 percent of these cases were caused by heroin

“That is striking and we are seeing the same kind of numbers in North Adams,” he said. “The number of people actually seeking opioid addiction treatment has increased 376 percent since 2005. It is a very serious problem.”

Dassatti noted that the county really could use more beds than stated in the resolution and said more beds are implemented in areas with higher death rates. He said along with the Massachusetts Nurses Association they calculated a new number that instead of using deaths per capita, used those seeking help.

“We wanted to look at the people seeking treatment and we started studying things and it seems that North Berkshire has one of the biggest increases in people seeking treatment,” Dassatti said. “I guess it is a testimony to our ambulance service and other services that people are not dying and they need the service.”

He noted that Berkshire Medical Center was recently approved for a 30-bed Clinical Stabilization Services center in Pittsfield and said because the North Adams campus does not have a board of trustees to advocate for beds, NBCC has taken it upon themselves.

Nowak said substance abuse is a real issue in the area and people deserve a second chance.

“The opioid epidemic does not distinguish between rich or poor or any form of ethnicity. It is something that happens to professionals who get hooked on pain medication and they need that high to continue on,” Nowak said. “I personally have faith in the lord and I think people deserve a second chance.”

In other business, after sorting all of the selectmen into their respective house at the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry on top of Mount Greylock, Town Administrator Tony Mazzucco discussed how Adams may be able to benefit from the fictional school.

Last month J.K. Rowling, author of the popular "Harry Potter" series, released a short story on her website Pottermore providing some background on the fictional American school she chose to place in Adams in the “Harry Potter” franchise.

Mazzucco said the town has been in contact Rowling’s marketing operation at about opportunities for co-marketing.

“Being a fan myself I am happy to hear the news but this could bring some great tourist potential to not only Adams but all of North County,” Mazzucco said. “It is very exciting."

He said he plans to put together a team of people from ProAdams, the Arts Advisory Board and the Economic Development Commission to start brainstorming some big picture ideas.

Also, Mazzucco said he wants to hold a large public meeting to get the community’s input.

“We want to get all the ideas out there so we can welcome new tourists, new visitors and those who want to see the mountain,” he said. “Even though it is the home of a fictional school the franchise itself is worth billions.”

For the record Nowak and Mazzucco were sorted into Horned Serpent, a house noted for containing scholars. Selectmen John Duval, Richard Blanchard and Jeffrey Snoonian were sorted into Thunderbird, a house favoring adventurers. Selectman Arthur “Skip” Harrington was sorted into Pukwudgie, a house noted for favoring healers. 

Others can be sorted online.

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Three Berkshires Women Named 'Unsung Heroines'

Liz Mitchell and state Rep. John Barrett III at Tuesday's 2019 Unsung Heroine ceremony at the State House. 

BOSTON — Three Berkshires women were named Unsung Heroines for 2019 during a State House ceremony on Tuesday.

State Sen. Adam G. Hinds nominated Donna Cesan for this recognition because of her dedication to community, having served as Community Development Director and interim Town Administrator for the town of Adams for 19 years.

Elizabeth "Liz" Mitchell, a North Adams resident and advocate for domestic violance victims with the Elizabeth Freeman Center, was nominated by state Rep. John Barrett III and Marie Richardson of Pittsfield, a caseworker in the Pittsfield Public Schools, was nominated by state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier.

"Donna has selflessly given countless hours of her time to ensure Adams is moving in the right direction," said Hinds. "She is well-respected in her hometown of Lanesborough, and the town of Adams is well-served by her. She is absolutely an Unsung Heroine for her dedication to our region and her professionalism, which is effortlessly showcased in all of her projects."

Massachusetts Commission of the Status of Women annually celebrates "unsung heroines" who don't always make the news, but who make a difference. They are the women who use their time, talent and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns. They are mentors, volunteers and innovators who do what needs to be done without expectations of recognition or gratitude. These women are the glue that keeps a community together and every community is better because of their contribution.   

Hinds said Cesan has dedicated her career to public service. As the director of community development, she has spearheaded economic development projects with big impact, like the construction of a platform for the Adams terminus of the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum's Hoosac Valley Service, the renovation of the Adams Visitor Center parking lot and implementing the community's vision for the Greylock Glen. Since 2014, she has been asked twice by the Board of Selectmen to also serve as interim town administrator, managing every aspect of municipal government for months, while also promoting community development initiatives in town.
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