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Two Vying for Clarksburg School Committee

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — There are two candidates vying for School Committee in the only race on this year's election ballot. The incumbents of two vacant seats on the ballot are accepting write-ins.

The election is Tuesday, May 21, from noon to 7 p.m. at the Senior Center. Absentee ballots can be requested in writing until available until noon on Monday, May 20.

Patricia A. Prenguber of Cross Road and Kimberly Goodell of Southernview Drive are each seeking the 3-year seat on the committee.

Prenguber, 61, was appointed to the committee last fall after the resignation of David Woods. This is her first run for office. She has worked in the North Adams Public Schools for 35 years, retiring as dean of students, but has continued working in a part-time capacity as a math coach. A resident for 26 years, she has seen her two children graduate from the school and now has grandchildren attending.

She is supportive of rebuilding or renovating the school, and working toward a prekindergarten program.

"I'd like to think my experience as a parent and a taxpayer and a teacher, gives me a well-rounded look at any issue," she said, noting she also has experience as an administrator. She believes she can work with teachers and townspeople in the "interest of the kids, that's what it comes down to."

"It's a great school," she said. "As long as people would like to have me I'd like to be part of that."

Goodell, 36, is a Clarksburg native who built her house next door to the one she grew up in. She has a daughter in kindergarten and is accounts manager at Excelsior Printing Co. in North Adams.

This is her first run for office. "I didn't really have an agenda per se," she said on Monday. "My goal is to make a difference any way I can."

Having attended Clarksburg School, she said she can see its time for some changes and supports the idea building a new school or renovating. Preparing children for today's economy is also important, she said.

"A couple of things that come to mind are after-school programs so it's a little easier on parents who work," said Goodell, who added that the preschool program has been "a big plus." "I'd like to bring some new life and new ideas from a different generation."

There are two offices with no candidates — moderator and a five-year seat on the Planning Board. Incumbent Town Moderator Bryan Tanner is accepting write-ins for his office; Planner David Sherman, who currently holds the five-year seat, will also accept write-ins for re-election. Neither Sherman nor Tanner took out papers to be placed on the ballot.

Running unopposed for re-election are Ernest F. Dix, 150 Carson Ave., for one-year tree warden; Carl W. McKinney, 500 River Road, for three-year selectman; Carol A. Jammalo, 40 Ice Pond Road, for three-year town clerk; Gregory J. Vigna, 304 Wells Ave., for three-year Board of Health seat; Ricard J. Bernardi, 215 Horrigan Road, for three-year seat on the McCann School Committee; and Rose M. Peters, 52 Hayden Hill, for three-year library trustee. Newcomer Edward J. Denault, 760 Middle Road, is running for three-year War Memorial trustee.

Absentee ballot applications are available on the wall in the rear entrance to Town Hall.

Contact Town Clerk Carol Jammalo with any questions or if you would like to vote in the clerk's office. She can be reached by phone at 413-663-8255 (leave a message) or at ClarksburgTClerk@gmail.com.

Update, 10:10 a.m., May 15, 2013; Write-thru removing reference to moderator candidate. Former Finance Committee Chairwoman Mary Beverly had indicated her intention to run a write-in campaign but has withdrawn after learning Town Moderator Bryan Tanner was accepting write-ins as well for re-election.

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Bio-Tech Industry Leader Running For Governor

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Joe Avellone of Wellesly is running for governor.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Gubernatorial candidate Joe Avellone says he has exactly the right skills needed to lead the state into a "new economy."

"I am really running on the basis of my private sector background, which I think is really timely for the problems going forward — namely the new economy and health-care cost control," Avallone said on Wednesday when he spoke in Pittsfield as a guest of the Berkshire Brigades.
 
"Now, the time is right. My skills are what the state needs."

Avellone is the senior vice president of Parexel, an international biotech company that develops drugs in 52 countries.

 
He is building his campaign for the state's highest office on education and health-care cost containment, two tasks he feels will help the state compete for jobs.
 
"In running Parexel, we have a global work force and I see how this work force is educated all around the world. They are very well trained, speak English, ambitious and great employees. I see that Massachusetts needs to compete at that level moving forward for companies to come here," Avellone said. "I now see what the global economy is like because I am in it every day and this is what Massachusetts has to prepare for in order to be competitive."
 
Avellone came to Massachusetts in 1972 and attended Harvard Medical School. He stayed for his surgical residency at Brigham and Women's Hospital and later earned a master's degree in public administration from Harvard. After working as a surgeon, he started working with health maintenance organizations (HMO) and was hired to head Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
 
"When I was with Blue Cross in the '90s, that was an effort to form the Blue Cross HMO, which is Blue Cross Blue, to try to move toward some more organized care," Avellone said. "It is almost back to the future because some of these ideas were around back then."
 
He spent six years there and then started his company, Veritas Medicine, which used the Internet to identify patients for clinical trials. He was recruited seven years ago to head Parexel.

Avellone said he would be the first candidate in decades to run on higher education but says it is imperative because the state needs more of the "middle skills" workers. There are high-tech manufacturers and life science companies out there but those industries require skilled labor, he said.

 
"I'd like to be the education governor if you will, because that is what we need to build a new economy," Avellone said.
 
Avellone said the state can't "chase" after the old type of manufacturing. Instead, it needs to focus on workforce development so companies that need a higher skill set will come here.
 
He wants to focus resources on increasing science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] education in the community and state college environment. The colleges should align themselves closer with emerging industries and produce the right skills, he said.
 
"There is a lot of new manufacturing and I think manufacturing needs to be part of our future," Avallone said.
 
As for health care, Avellone has worked with all of the major players and boasts that he understands the complexities of that system. In the last decade, health-care costs have had double-digit increases and Avellone wants to curb that trend.
 
He supports moving away from "fee for service" and instead focus on preventive and early detection. Listing a multitude of models in other states, Avellone says it "is doable."
 
"We know how to do it. We have models. But this requires big change and that is going to require a lot of political leadership," he said.
 
While those two are his key issues, Avellone said he is also very concerned about the environment and the state's infrastructure, which he said has been unattended for 15 years because of the Big Dig. He hopes to create dedicated revenue streams such as a percentage of the gas tax to infrastructure work.
 
However, Avellone knows his plans would require additional revenue but says a tax increase isn't currently feasible. The economy is still lagging from the recession and Avallone said further recovery will build some space into these investments and curbing the health care costs would allow for more spending. 
 
"This was not the time to have a large tax increase," he said of Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed revenue plan. 
 
But he didn't completely rule out a tax hike. If the economy continues to improve, Avallone said he would call for a tax increase to help generate the additional revenue.
 
"We're not recovered. We're recovering but we still need help," Avellone said, pointing to the unemployment rate in Pittsfield and North Adams.
 
As for social issues, he said his "tends to be very progressive." He was a selectman in Wellesley and has particpated in multiple local, state and national campaigns but not as a candidate.
 
Avellone is one of three Democratic candidates so far contemplating a run in 2014. Donald Berwick and Steve Grossman have both expressed interest in running. Berkwick was a guest of the Brigades in April and Grossman earlier this year. 
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Adams Candidates Speak To Maple Grove Civic Club

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The Maple Grove Civic Club hosted its annual candidate forum on Sunday. The four candidates for two seats on the Board of Selectmen attended.

ADAMS, Mass. — Candidates for several town positions introduced themselves to the Maple Grove Civic Club on Sunday.

The annual forum gives club members a chance to chat with the candidates for every office up for election. This year, four candidates are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen.

First of the Selectmen candidates to speak, Donald Sommer, took aim at the Memorial Middle School, which is now vacant after the students were moved to the renovated high school.

The town has set is sights on short-term leases with the Youth Center and a local marinara company, Ooma Tessoro's, to reuse part of the school.

Meanwhile, the Selectmen are asking voters to set aside $50,000 for engineering for the massive amount of capital repairs required and create a reuse plan.

The former selectmen, however, says the town should instead use that money to hire a part-time marketer and reach outside of the county in hopes to reel in a larger business. He said the town should give the building to an interested company and have them make the needed repairs.

"I don't think it is a good utilization of that [building]," Sommer said of Ooma Tessoro's, which he said will bring few jobs to the town.

He pointed to Nuclea Technologies, which recently moved into a 1,700 square foot office in the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield, as a company the town should have made a strong effort to attract. Further, Sommer also disagrees with the recent move to tear down the former Albert's Hardware, saying the town's revitalization focus should be entirely on Park Street.

"Adams has never been able to support two business districts," Sommer said, adding the businesses on Summer Street are for the neighborhood while Park should attract people from outside.

Sommer also said he wants the town to join the Solarize Massachusetts program, bring in a farmers market and promised, citing his history in town politics, that he would "put my heart and soul" into the position.

Michael Young, the youngest of the candidates, followed Sommer by saying Adams has nothing to draw young families to town or to get people to stop. The town needs to have attractions to bring people from out of town to spend their money, he said.

"There are too many empty buildings. There are too many for-sale signs on houses. Young people, young families do not want to come to Adams," Young said.

His friends say they want out so Young wants to provide a financial incentive for young families to stay. More people will support the small businesses that are here, he said.

"I want to make taxes as low as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, he wants to sweeten the pot for young families by "doing something with the [Greylock Glen]" and "the empty buildings."

Richard Blanchard focused his four minutes on the type of representative he would be for voters. He said he would listen to the people and be an independent voice. He cited more than three years of attending almost every meeting, showing he knows the issues in town.

"I can listen to reason and change my mind if the argument is good enough," Blanchard said.

Further, he said he would ask a lot of questions and ask them in public forums so everyone else has a better understanding of the decisions the board makes. Blanchard says he doesn't like when officials tell him to meet privately in the office because others who may have the same concerns won't hear the answers.

He, too, said there needs to be a larger tax base with both new businesses and people. He also thinks the town isn't making the right decision with the middle school.

Blanchard says the Council on Aging should instead be moved to the middle school and utilize the kitchen area and that the town should put the Adams Visitors Center on the market.

"I think the visitors' center is also going to be a money pit," he said.

Joseph Nowak was the last candidate to speak, saying the town needs an "identity" that it currently doesn't have.

"The first thing people see is a high tax rate and a school budget getting cut," Nowak said.

Nowak says he has a lot of ideas ranging from simply putting in signs celebrating the town's claim to fame of Susan B. Anthony's birthplace, joining the Solarize Massachusetts program and supporting the Greylock Glen.

"I like the idea of having a nature center there but we need bigger ideas," he said. "We need to have an anchor business in this town.

However, he does have worries about an amphitheater at the Glen because of the disruption that would cause — such as traffic on sides streets and light pollution.

As for the middle school, Nowak says he'd like to see an entire wing of it torn down and be turned into a fenced in park area for the children at the Youth Center.

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Ex-Medicare Chief Mulling Run for Governor

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Former Medicare chief Dr. Donald Berwick was in Pittsfield on Tuesday to introduce himself and listen to Berkshire Brigade members as he 'strongly considers' a run for governor.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Dr. Donald Berwick grew up in a small rural town where if someone's car was stalled on the side of the road, you didn't drive by.

You stopped to help.

It was a general idea that he grew up with, that "we're all together and we help each other." And it is that general idea that has now led him to "strongly considering" a run for governor.

His father was doctor, making house house calls miles away helping everyone he could and Berwick followed those footsteps.

He went off to Harvard Medical School and then went on to become a pediatrician. Meanwhile, public policy was an interest of his and he received his master of public policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

While working in private practice, there were inefficiencies that hindered his ability to provide the best care — for example labs tests not being returned quickly.

"I got interested in quality. How do we do better?" Berwick said on Tuesday when he introduced himself to members of the Berkshire Brigades, the county's leading Democratic organization. "I became a student not just of health care but of improvement. I began studying on anything gets better."

He found the best organizations didn't "disrespect" the people working for it. But, like his younger days in Connecticut, worked together with motivated leaders in various disciplines using their own imagination and plans to work toward the common goal.

That management belief coupled with his drive to "make everything better" led him to start the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement, bringing health-care professionals from across the world together to optimize health-care delivery.

"I then started to grow a national and international organization to try to improve health and health-care worldwide. And that grew. It is now the largest and most significant of such an organization in the world," he said.

Meanwhile, he still saw patients but wanted to do more. While he could treat a virus and make the health systems better, he couldn't solve the root cause.

"What makes a kid sick is not just the germ ... it is poverty, something in the air that shouldn't be there, injustice, fear or just social circumstances," Berwick said, adding that health care extends far beyond medicine.

Berwick told a story of a child growing up in poverty who had to fight to get a bone marrow transplant. He finally received it to cure his leukemia only years later to be murdered because of his social circumstances.

He then got the taste of the public sector. In 2008, President Barack Obama selected him as a recess appointee as administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He was called on to change the system after the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

He oversaw seven of the 10 provisions put in place by the act while leading the $820 billion health insurance agency. He led that organization by forming close relationships with other agencies.

"The first rule is that we have to run CMS in the way you want health care to be," Berwick said.

But on the legislative side, the environment was often "toxic" and elected officials weren't making decisions based on what "they feel in the heart" but rather "what they saw on TV," he said, and both parties in Congress were not working together and it was hurting the government's ability to work for the greater good of the people.

"That was entry into high level government," Berwick said, adding that he was excited with the direction the administration was going in universal health care.

His term ended after 17 months when he resigned because it was clear a Republicans would oppose a Senate confirmation for full appointment. He returned full time to his home with his wife, Ann, who is the chairman of the state Department of Public Utilities.

Berwick addressing the Berkshire Brigades.

Now, a year after his term ended in Washington, he is ready to dive back into the public sector with a run for governor.

"I want to stay in the public sector. What governments can do is phenomenally important if it is done right. By right I mean, well run and responsive to the public and in good partnership," he said. "I want to make the best possible community."

If he formally enters the race, he is planning to run on a platform aimed at improving the state's health care system, particularly lowering the costs by focusing on keeping patients healthy rather than "filling beds"; educating children; ending poverty, and solving economic problems the state faces by improving the energy policy.

"I would like to be governor to bring that kind of thinking about proper management, commitment to the poor, total commitment to children and continue swinging the bat at health care. I think I can do that and I'd like a chance to try," he said.

Berwick and Treasurer Stephen Grossman are the only two candidates so far who have indicated they may enter the 2014 race. Berwick hasn't yet announced but is going on a "listening tour" across the state to hear from the people.

Once news leaked out that he was considering a run, the Brigades invited him to speak. Grossman recently spoke at the Brigades' annual dinner.

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Brigades Hosting Gubernatorial Candidate Berwick

Dr. Donald Berwick

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Brigades are hosting a reception for Dr. Donald M. Berwick, Democratic candidate for governor, at the new office on the second floor of 55 North St.

Berwick, 66, is a pediatrician with a long career in health-care administration. President Obama made him administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in a recess appointment in 2010 but he left less than a year later in face of Republican opposition.

He is a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a former president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement. A New York City native, he attended high school Connecticut and received his master of public policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He completed his residency at Children's Hospital, where he remains on the adjunct staff. He is a professor at both Harvard's Medical School and School of Public Health and has written extensively on health care policy, technology and quality.

The gubernatorial election is in 2014; Gov. Deval Patrick is not running for re-election and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray has indicated he will not run for the post either. Treasurer Stephen Grossman, who appeared at the Brigades' annual dinner last month, is expected to announce his interest in the race later this year.

The Berkshire Brigades is the Democratic organizing group in Berkshire County.

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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.


Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Treasurer
Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Auditor
Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

Municipal Elections

The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

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