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Alcombright Campaigns on Economy Development, Community Involvement

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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City Councilor Richard Alcombright and his wife, Michelle, at their North Adams home after Alcombright announced his run for mayor.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Richard Alcombright kicked off his campaign for mayor this morning with a call for the community to come together to chart the city's future.

"We're going to get the community involved, we're going to find ways to reinvigorate and re-energize our boards and give them more to do," said Alcombright, after a brief statement to media from his Williams Street living room. "My vision [for North Adams] is a shared vision."

The three-term city councilor said his decision to challenge Mayor John Barrett III was made over past half year or so, and after talking with family and supporters. A small group of family members and several supporters — City Councilor Robert Moulton Jr., local businessman Keith Bona and Mary Katherine Eade, the city's former administrative officer who's now working in the attorney general's Springfield office.

"I've felt there's been a need for change for awhile," said Bona, a former city councilor. "Not only who can win but who can make a good mayor. Dick has always come up at the top of the list."

Alcombright said his campaign will focus on economic development, and on education and housing. Transparency also will be a very big word, he said.

"It's a tough time but I think we're ready for it," he said. "I want to bring about a whole platform of shared vision, transparency and community success. I think it's my time, and I think it's our time to do something different."

Barrett has not officially launched his campaign but has confirmed he will try for a 14th term. "I'm running again for the office of mayor," he said on Tuesday. "I'm not running against someone."

The state's longest-serving mayor said he will run on his record of fiscal responsibility, his stewardship of the city's rebirth through the creative economy and his long experience and connections at the state and federal level. "I've had to make those tough decisions and ruffle a few feathers along the way," said Barrett.

And with the city reeling from the affects of the global fiscal crisis, Barrett said, "I just feel I have a responsibility to not walk away from it."

Alcombright said the impact of the crisis can't be minimized but believes there's a way to grow out of it by plugging into regional partnerships and preparing for advances in green technology and other high-tech areas. "The economy will rebound and we have to be on the top of that wave," he said.

"We have to focus on how we raise revenues — that's through business growth and job development," he continued, saying the city can no longer sustain cuts that have decimated its work force. "That's reconnecting ourselves with the North Berkshire community, that's reconnecting the North Berkshires and ourselves with economic development efforts locally, regionally and with the state."

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has been a driver of the creative economy, but what do we do next? asked Alcombright. "I think it's wide open."

A senior vice president at Hoosac and Williamstown Savings banks, Alcombright is also a 16-year representative on the McCann School Committee, with nine years on its Finance Committee, and has served two years as chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee. He is a coporator of Northern Berkshire Healthcare and seats on the boards of the Northern Berkshire YMCA, Holy Family Terrace and Berkshire Community Action Council's Individual Development Account Committee.

He is chairman of the Northern Berkshire United Way Campaign, North Adams Catholic Community Tri-Parish Finance Council and Transportation Association of Northern Berkshire.

He and his wife, Michelle, have four children, Casey, Paul, Matthew and Ashley.

"My motto is 'Together We Will Succeed,'" said Alcombright. "It's really about getting people to think through processes ... we need to start thinking as a community."

Alcombright had let media know yesterday of his intention to run. The statement that he released this morning can be found at
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Mohawk Trail Woodlands, Forest Service Team Up on Conservation

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

BRPC's Tom Matuszko asks advisory board members to raise their hands as FRCOG's Executive Director Linda Dunlavy waits to speak.
CHARLEMONT, Mass. — A shared stewardship agreement signed Thursday will bring U.S. Forest Service expertise to the state while keeping hundreds of thousands of acres of forestland in state and private hands. 
The Mohawk Trail Woodland Partnership encompasses 361,941 acres of state and private land across 21 communities in the northwestern corner of the state. About 28 percent of that land is permanently protected. The partnership will enhance conservation and forest research and provide technical support for businesses that depend on the region's natural resources such as tourism and forestry products.
"I am from this region, it is a part of the state that is near and dear to my heart," said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides at the signing held at Berkshire East Mountain Resort. "Something that is a priority to the governor is making sure that this region can continue to have economic security and opportunity for people, but also that connectedness to the landscape and that rootedness in the special places that make up Western Massachusetts."
Theoharides said the state is losing about 65 acres of forestland a day to development — housing, parking lots, and commercial establishments — and it's not coming back.  
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