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Williamstown Police Looking into Cemetery Vandalism

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

Sticks that once held American flags adorning graves at East Lawn Cemetery are disposed of in a trash can at the cemetery.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Police Department is investigating a vandalism incident at East Lawn Cemetery, Lt. Michael Ziemba said on Monday evening.
 
Visitors to the cemetery on Saturday discovered that a couple of dozen American flags on the graves of veterans and at least one member of the town's fire district were removed and the wooden flag sticks left behind.
 
"We are fairly confident based on the number of flags and the short time frame (Friday night) that this is not an animal," Zimeba wrote in response to questions about the incident.
 
"We have no motive, and there have not been any similar incidents in other cemeteries."
 
Ziemba said the WPD routinely checks on the town's cemeteries at night.
 
The department would like to hear from anyone "who may have seen something suspicious or who has any information about this incident," Ziemba said.
 
According to Massachusetts General Law, removal of "a tomb, monument, gravestone, American flag, veteran's grave marker, metal plaque, veteran's commemorative flag holder, commemorative flag holder representing service in a police or fire department, veteran's flag holder," is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
     

No One Injured in Williamstown Barn Fire

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

Fire companies from six towns responded to the fire in South Williamstown.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — No injuries were reported Thursday in a fire that destroyed a barn at 150 Torrey Woods Road.
 
The Williamstown Fire Department received a call from the residents of the home at 9:34 a.m. and had the blaze under control with the assistance of neighboring fire companies by 10:30, Assistant Chief Robert Briggs said.
 
"All the animals were out," Briggs said as work continued to extinguish hot spots in the smoldering remains of the structure. "The horses were out. The dog got out. The homeowner was in the barn when it happened.
 
"It was an accidental fire, so we're good with how it started and all that. We're just trying to clean it up."
 
The biggest issue in late morning was two 100-gallon propane tanks that were stored in the barn.
 
"What happens with a propane tank, when it's exposed to extreme heat is the vapor inside of it expands," Briggs said. "There are safety release valves built into propane tanks that will let the vapor go at a controlled rate compared to an explosion. An explosion, we'd have a big problem with a lot of propane at the same time."
 
Briggs said the propane company that services the tanks was en route to help firefighters safely remove them from the site. In the meantime, the firefighters continued to hose down the tanks to keep them cool.
 
After arriving on the second truck at the scene, Briggs said he was less than 1,000 feet from the blaze setting up a water draw from a nearby brook when the venting from the propane tanks began.
 
"That happened, and I knew what it was right away because I've heard it at other fires," he said.
 
The home's proximity to Hemlock Brook was a blessing.
 
"We're fortunate in that we were less than 1,000 feet from a really good water source that we trained on," Briggs said. "We had water on this fire as quick as we got here, and we had continuous water.
 
"When the fire is 90 percent involved when you get here, there's no stopping it. There's no turning it around. You just make sure that people got out safely and none of our people get hurt. We're doing a very good job with Northern Berkshire EMS here of rehab, making sure our people don't overdo it."
 
Fire companies from New Ashford, Lanesborough, Hancock, Clarksburg and Pownal, Vt., responded to the blaze.
 
"We really appreciate the support from our neighboring communities," Briggs said. "Every community sent good crews. We're happy for that. And that's what we have to do now because we're all so short-handed.
     

Motorcycle Strikes Pedestrians on Luce Road in Williamstown

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Two pedestrians were transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield after a collision with a motorcycle on Wednesday afternoon, police said.
 
Police Chief Kyle Johnson said Friday that speed appeared to be a factor in the incident, which occurred at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at a sharp curve on Luce Road near the top (south) end of the road.
 
"It appears he couldn't make the corner," Johnson said. "He laid the bike down, and the bike at some point collided with the pedestrians — the bike and or [rider]. He wasn't upright riding when they collided.
 
"It appears speed was a factor, and that in and of itself would have caused him to go down."
 
Both pedestrians were transported by Northern Berkshire EMS to Berkshire Medical Center, Johnson said.
 
The motorcycle operator was cited for negligent operation of a motor vehicle.
 
The accident is a reminder to all of the need for caution on the roads during the COVID-19 pandemic, when residents confined to their homes frequently are getting their exercise and fresh air by walks in neighborhoods that don't normally see as many pedestrians.
 
While not referring directly to the pedestrians in Wednesday's accident, Johnson agreed that caution is always required on the road.
 
"Everyone needs to be more aware at all times — pedestrians and motorists," he said. "We see all kinds of things out there. We see pedestrians in dark clothing at night in the rain, the joggers on Green River Road [Route 43].
 
"I certainly would agree there are far more pedestrians out now than usual. But I'm not faulting these pedestrians by any stretch.
 
"If people were more aware of their surroundings more often, it would be easier to keep themselves safe. But it was just an unfortunate situation for these pedestrians."
     

Trick-or-Treater Struck by Vehicle in Williamstown

Staff Reports
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Cole Avenue during trick-or-treating hours showed no signs of visible injury, police reported Friday morning.
 
Chief Kyle Johnson said the person struck was transported by Northern Berkshire EMS to the satellite emergency facility at Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams campus as a precaution.
 
The driver involved was cited by police for a lights violation. The driver was operating with just the vehicle's daytime running lights illuminated after sunset, Johnson said. 
 
The chief said it is his understanding that the pedestrian involved was a trick-or-treater. He could not provide the age of the individual.
 
According to the police log referenced by Johnson on Friday morning, the pedestrian attempted to cross between parked cars.
 
"There's no reference to a crosswalk in the paperwork I've seen," he said.
 
Witnesses told iBerkshires.com that it was not raining at the time of the accident, and Johnson confirmed Friday morning that it did not appear weather was a factor in the incident.
 
A number of communities, including North Adams and Pittsfield, postponed trick-or-treating hours to Saturday because of the expectation of heavy rain and high winds, neither of which arrived until after midnight. There was, however, light and misty rains throughout the evening. 
     

Williamstown Man Injured in Motorcycle Accident in Vermont

Staff Reports
READSBORO, Vt. — A Williamstown, Mass., man was seriously injured early Friday afternoon when the motorcycle he was driving struck a guard rail on Route 100. 
 
According to state police, Fran A. Rosasco, 74, was taken by medical helicopter to Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center as a precaution because of the severity of the injuries to his chest, knee and shoulder. 
 
The 2003 Harley-Davidson that Rosasco was riding is considered totaled. 
 
A report by Trooper Colin Shepley of the Shaftsbury barracks states that Rosasco was traveling with another motorcyclist north on Route 100 when he failed to make a lefthand turn in the road. His motorcycle stayed to the right, hitting the guard rail, and he was thrown off the bike. 
 
The accident occurred just after noontime and about a mile south of Branch Hill Road. Conditions were clear and dry and temperatures around 70 degrees. 
 
Northern Berkshire EMS of North Adams, Mass., was called to the scene and state police learned the helicopter had been requested prior to Shepley's arrival. 
 
State police were also assisted on scene by Stamford and Readsboro Fire Departments, the Bennington County Sheriff's Department and Heartwellville Towing.
 
A traffic violation complaint is pending. 
     
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