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Mayor Richard Alcombright chats with chamber co-Presidents Mary Morrow and Bonnie Clark, Executive Director Judy Giamborino and Tom Loughman, a member of the board of the directors.

Alcombright Calls for Regional Collaboration

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Mayor Richard Alcombright spoke at the Williamstown Chamber breakfast at Mass MoCA.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Richard Alcombright is looking to strengthen bonds on a regional level by reaching out to leaders in the surrounding communities.

"I'm convinced that none of our communities — none of our communities — can truly grow without acknowledging the assets and the liabilities of the communities of North Berkshire as a whole," he told members and guests of the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning. "We need to re-engage at all levels. The first step will be to build strong relationships with our North Berkshire neighbors and welcome collaborative development efforts."

He listed the Hoosic River Revival, the Berkshire Bike Path and regional transportation efforts as among issues that would benefit from cross-border collaboration.

Alcombright said he was meeting with the town managers and administrators of Williamstown, Florida, Clarksburg and Adams on Thursday to brainstorm ways to "better utilize each other." It's the first of what he hopes will be regular sessions.

"We're much more visible as Northern Berkshire," he said, than as separate entities.

More than 50 people braved the wintry weather to attend the chamber's monthly breakfast that was held at Lickety Split at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Among them were Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin, Adams Town Administrator Jonathan Butler and Councilor Lisa Blackmer.

The city's new mayor touched on some of the challenges ahead - understaffed departments, aged infrastructure, blighted housing and poverty. Property taxes have been kept low by attrition, he said. "The problem now is that we're out of options; as a community, we need to agree on what levels of public service are adequate and then deal with and accept the costs."

Alcombright's reaching out to North County.
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A growing dependence on state aid has created a double-edged sword, said Alcombright, and as the state grapples with a $3 billion deficit, communities will have to find new revenue sources.


"There are two ways out - economic growth or raising fees and taxes," he said. He's charged the City Council with finding new efficiencies and revenue streams and ways to market the area for cultural and commercial growth.

But North Adams can't do it alone, said Alcombright. Building a sense of cooperation within the city, through the engagement of councilors, boards, civic groups and the use of NorthAdamsIdeas.com, is important but it also has to happen on the regional level, as well, he said.

He's already met with U.S. Rep. John W. Olver and various regional panels, and plans to meet with U.S. Sen. John Kerry soon.

"I've also had several conversations with the governor to let him know very specifically what our hopes are for North Adams and North Berkshire," Alcombright told the audience.

The new administration is hoping to thaw the often frosty relations the city has had with its neighbors over the years. The city's tussled with Williamstown over its shared waste-water plant and the runway extension at the Harriman & West Airport, and with Adams over developments on the city's southern border.

The communities should be working together as much as possible, said Alcombright, adding that jobs created in one town will inevitably help the others.

"We have a common destiny, we have common concerns ... transportation, education, public safety and, above all, the creation of jobs and more jobs," he said. "Those are the common threads that bind us together as North County."
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Letter: Vote Bond for Mayor

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am proud to support Lynette Bond for mayor of the City of North Adams. Lynette has the knowledge and ability to succeed, the spirit and open-mindedness to collaborate and build consensus, the integrity and strength of character to make tough choices with clarity and compassion, and a love for North Adams that will make her a powerful and effective advocate and champion for our city and everyone who lives, learns, and works here.

When I taught in the North Adams Public Schools I assigned "To Kill a Mockingbird" to many of my 8th grade English classes. I've read the book dozens of times and a line that always has stuck with me is "You never really understand a person until you consider things from [their] point of view." It's a lesson in understanding and inclusion I emphasized with my students, and my children. This quality of empathy and consideration — this style of leadership — is something I have seen Lynette l demonstrate, personally and in her campaign. Lynette builds relationships, listens to people's concerns, and truly cares about every person in North Adams, our history, and our potential. She also is pragmatic and won't make promises she can't keep.

Lynette knows that education is a priority. As a former North Adams Public School teacher, I admire the leadership and tenacity that Lynette demonstrated as a champion for the Colegrove Park Elementary School project. I know she will bring the same energy and commitment to serving all North Adams students and educators as mayor and School Committee chair.

Lynette Bond is the right choice for the future of North Adams. She will be a caring, effective, successful mayor for everyone in our city. I encourage you to get to know Lynette, and to support her with your vote in the preliminary election on Sept. 21 and the general election on Nov. 2. Then, when Lynette is sworn in as the first woman mayor of North Adams, you will know we have a leader of whom we all can be proud.

Jane Bernard
North Adams, Mass.

 

 

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