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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 AlcombrightForMayor.com.
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North Adams Fire Chief Meranti to Retire

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Fire Chief Stephen Meranti, center, with the late Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco on receiving the MEMA award in 2015. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Stephen Meranti had a particular goal in mind when he updated his resume in the mid-1990s: to become director of the city's fire services.
 
Early next year, he'll retire after 17 years leading the North Adams Fire Department and as the first "fire chief" to retire in nearly 40 years. 
 
"I've had a pretty good run I think, 33 years with the city and 17 as chief," said Meranti on Wednesday morning, as he sat in the mayor's office. "It's been a good run, we have great people working with the city, I've had made great relationships here. It's like the mayor said, bittersweet for me also. I love the job I but I had planned on my career retiring at 55 and here I am." 
 
Meranti and Mayor Thomas Bernard announced the chief's retirement after more than three decades working with the city. His last day will be Jan. 26, 2021.
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