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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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'The Irishman': At 3 Hours & 29 Minutes, it all Depends

By Michael S. GoldbergeriBerkshires Film Critic
"Fuhgeddaboudit" was the advice from those who decided against climbing the movie mountain that is Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman," all 3 hours and 29 minutes of it. Dilemmas presented themselves. How many times will I have to go to the bathroom? Should we skip breakfast, have dinner now, pack a picnic lunch, or maybe even book a room close to the theater?
 
The destinies of whole lives were changed for those strict constructionists who wouldn't succumb to the tyranny of their bladders by availing themselves of the small screen, Netflix offering.
 
Me? Nope. I came this far in my moviegoing ... lived through the days of when films broke in midstream, before stadium seating coddled your frame and prior to the advent of whispering waitresses asking if you wanted cheese-drenched nachos. I will see it on the big silver screen and damn the consequences. Thus began my journey, knowing full well that, unlike "The Ten Commandments" (1956) and several other movies of storied length, there'd be no intermission and probably no reward of a bumper sticker noting my feat, nothing I might attach next to the one informing, "This Car Climbed Mount Washington."
 
Thirsty, intentionally dehydrated, I was ready. Gosh knows that any hasty return from the facilities would surely bring those dreaded words from my movie partner: "YOU MISSED THE MOST IMPORTANT PART." And of course, said unseen portion, to forever be known as the "lost footage," will stunt your cinema knowledge in the same way that being out sick with a cold when they taught the 8-Times Table in grammar school kept you from becoming president. And you know what tragedy that unleashed.
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