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The Rev. David Anderson says an opening prayer.
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Streadroy Bradshaw sings the national anthem.
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Packed parking lot at the new Walmart.
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New North Adams Walmart Opens on Wednesday

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The new Walmart SuperCenter opens Wednesday morning in North Adams. A preview party was held Tuesday night.

Update: Opening day remarks and store hours added to the story.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly 100 excited shoppers, employees and local leaders gathered around a stage set-up at the south entrance of the gigantic Walmart Supercenter for its grand opening Wednesday morning.

"I'd like to welcome everyone here to my beautiful new store, thank you so much for joining us today," said Store Manager Alexis Bartos in her opening remarks.

The store's opening comes less than a year since its groundbreaking.

"This is a very special day for the city of North Adams and the greater Berkshire region as we open this store," said Mayor Richard Alcombright. "More importantly... I want to say this again, welcome to Walmart!"

The Rev. David Anderson also led a prayer, a Walmart tradition for store openings.

"We gather as a city this morning as a community ready to celebrate and embrace this special event and what it will mean for our city," Rev. Anderson said during his brief prayer. "We give thanks for all the work that has gone into the planning, preparation, building and the stocking of the shelves of this store for the months leading up to this day."

Brandon Boucher, a nine-month employee, led the crowd in an enthusiastic cheer similar to what he had done Tuesday night.

After Streadroy Bradshaw, who works at the Northampton store, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," seven 20-year veterans of the North Adams store participated in the ribbon cutting, with Adams resident Carol Filiault making the cut.

On the Tuesday night, employees, their friends and families, and invited guests got a sneak peek of the 160,000 square foot store at the Hodges Cross Road intersection.

"There's been a great response, how beautiful the store is, a lot of really proud associates able to show their families all the hard work they've done," said Bartos, who moved to the area from Ohio nine months ago to take over operations, on Tuesday. "I keep hearing, 'it's big, it's big."

The store is large, containing a full grocery that includes a deli, meat department and produce, home and garden section, styling salon, vision center, pharmacy and Dunkin' Donuts.

The preview included check presentations from Walmart to Hancock Elementary School, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Berkshire Family and Individual Resources, Berkshire Arts and Technology Public Charter School, Berkshire Food Project, Berkshire Community Action Council and the North Adams Police Department. Bartos said about $9,000 in all was donated.

The older store, opened in September 1993 at the former Coury's Drive-in, was closed Tuesday afternoon for the final transfer. The old store is not expected to be vacant too long.


Bartos said associates from the new and old store had meshed well working back and forth to run the older store while getting the new one up and running. "It was difficult but it was well worth it," she said.

The SuperCenter has about 286 employees, split between full and part time; nearly 100 of those are new jobs.

One of the new workers was Cheryl Plouffe, who started on April 25 and was touring the store with family members. She wasn't sure what to expect on opening day, but she was sure of one thing on Tuesday: "I'm very happy."

Her relatives were even more excited that the new SuperCenter contained a fabrics section — something that the older store eliminated more than six years ago.  

"I'm excited about this material and the notions for sewing because there's been nothing up here," said Carole Gordnier. "We've had to go to Pittsfield. ... Hallelujah."

(Another woman walked down the aisle with her hands in the air saying "I'm in heaven ... they have fabric!")

City Councilor Marie Harpin thought the store was beautiful. "It's a fabulous addition to North Adams. ... I think it's going to boost the economy."

A boost is what local officials were hoping for when the store broke ground after several years of waiting. The Walmart is hoped to be the anchor for development along the city's southern entrance.

"First, this was an awful big investment in Berkshire County," said Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Michael Supranowicz. "A store this big will also be a retail draw. I would say we will get more people through North Adams because I think this store will draw from farther out. You won't just get your typical Northern Berkshire folks. I think you'll get folks from Southern Vermont, possibly southern New Hampshire."

More traffic coming through North Adams is an opportunity for local retailers, Supranowicz said.  

Alcombright echoed the importance of a "significant investment by a significant corporation," on Wednesday morning noting that without investment communities don't grow.

Bartos said there will be local vendors and agencies in the store Wednesday with more activities planned for the weekend.

"We really just want to open the doors to all our customers," she said.

The Walmart SuperCenter's hours are 7 a.m. to midnight every day.


Tags: ribbon cutting,   store opening,   Walmart,   

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Ethics Commission Alleges Conflict Violations by West Stockbridge Chief

WEST STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — The Enforcement Division of the State Ethics Commission on Wednesday filed an order to show cause alleging that West Stockbridge Fire Chief Peter Skorput, a former Select Board member, committed multiple conflict-of-interest law violations, including setting stipends for himself, his daughter and his nephew; voting as a Select Board member to reappoint himself fire chief; and terminating a firefighter who had filed a complaint against him.
 
According to the order, shortly after Skorput was elected to the Select Board in 2013, a West Stockbridge official contacted the town's counsel about conflict-of-interest law exemptions available to Skorput regarding his serving both as a Select Board member and fire chief. 
 
Allegedly, town counsel advised the official that Skorput follow the requirements for a particular conflict-of-interest law exemption that would allow him to accept pay for both positions, and this was communicated to Skorput. From the time he was elected until January 2017, however, Skorput did not meet the exemption requirements and violated the conflict of law by continuing to hold his compensated fire chief position after his election to the Select Board, according to the order.
 
The order further alleges Skorput violated the conflict-of-interest law by participating officially in matters involving his own and his daughter's financial interests. In 2013, Skorput allegedly voted as a Select Board member to reappoint himself as fire chief. Also, as fire chief, he allegedly decided the amount of firefighter stipends for himself each December in 2013-2015 and for his daughter in 2013 and 2014, and as a Select Board member signed the pay warrants for his daughter's stipends. Additionally, at several Select Board meetings in 2015 and 2016, Skorput allegedly participated as a Select Board member in the board's review of complaints about his performance as fire chief.
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