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City Solicitor John B. DeRosa is retiring from his city position to spend more time on his private clients and community work.

DeRosa Stepping Down After 35 Years as North Adams Solicitor

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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John DeRosa receiving an honorary degree at MCLA in 2011.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — City Solicitor John B. DeRosa is stepping down as the city's main legal counsel after 35 years of service. 
DeRosa made the announcement on Friday, saying he will retire effective March 31 from the city but will continue to work for his private clients and in efforts to support the community. It had been a privilege and honor to as the chief legal officer for the city, he said.
"I think it's a good time to do it. We have a new mayor," he said. "It's been a wonderful experience ... I've really enjoyed working with the mayor and the city boards and the city of North Adams." 
DeRosa said this is an opportunity to spend more time with his private clients at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig LLP. Being solicitor, he said, did preclude the firm from doing other things.  
"I also plan to continue my service to the greater community. This will include work with Mayor [Thomas] Bernard and community leaders on economic development initiatives that build on the successes of Mass MoCA and MCLA, and make North Adams a better place to live, work, and visit," he said in his statement. 
Bernard said on Friday that he had been aware of DeRosa's plans and will be updating the City Council at its meeting Tuesday. DeRosa will also be in attendance for any questions the council has regarding the eminent domain actions to clear the title of the old City Yard.
The appointment of city solicitor is an administrative responsibility and Bernard said he is working to make sure the city has a solid plan going forward to ensure continuity of "high-quality legal services."
"We will be looking for someone who's knowledgeable, who's responsive and who has a deep understanding of the laws and issues facing municipalities," the mayor said. He did not anticipate any problems in filling the post by March 31.
"I appreciate Solicitor DeRosa's 35 years of service in that role," Bernard said, adding, "I appreciate he's made the decision that this is the moment to make the change.
"I've enjoyed working with him, and know that he will continue to serve his clients and the community well."
DeRosa has a long track record of community and civic involvement, including the Northern Berkshire United Way and the local Chambers of Commerce. He was president of the North Adams SteepleCats baseball team in North Adams from 2004 to 2010, and presently is president of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. In addition, DeRosa is a director of the North Adams Partnership Inc., a nonprofit economic development organization he founded with Mary Grant, then president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and Joseph Thompson, executive director of Mass MoCA.
He is senior counsel at Donovan O'Connor & Dodig LLP, where he works in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, commercial transactions, and nonprofit organizations.
"This will give me more free time in that sense," DeRosa said. "I am going to be as active as ever ... I think our community is a wonderful place and there's a lot of places to make a contribution."
His tenure as city solicitor began with his appointment in 1982 by then-interim Mayor  John R. Taft Jr. He saw it as a way of serving the community, he said. 
He and his previous law firm served under Mayor John Barrett III for 26 years and then under Mayor Richard Alcombright for another eight years. DeRosa was also town counsel to several other Berkshire municipalities during that time. 
"As city solicitor, John brought to my administration a very keen combination of historical reference, knowledge of municipal law and an unequaled ability to deal with government process," said Alcombright, who has known DeRosa both personally and professionally for 40 years, in a statement. "John served the city as solicitor with a very high degree of legal acumen, always doing what was in the best interest of the city of North Adams and the administration of its affairs."
DeRosa is a strong booster of the city, noting how much it has changed since his appointment more than three decades ago. It's weathered the loss of manufacturing better than many other communities and seeds -- some planted as far back as the 1980s, when he helped work on the development of Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art -- are starting to grow and flourish.
"I just see it every day and its starting to pay dividends," he said. "If you look around and see that kind of progress, that wouldn't have happened 10 years ago. ...
"We've made a lot of progress. I'm proud of the city and our contributions." 
North Adams has gone through a lot, DeRosa said, and each period of time brought its own challenges. The legal counsel just tried to say focused, he said. "If you look back over those years, North Adams had minimal litigation."
DeRosa is a two-time recipient of the Francis H. Hayden Award, given to those who have made significant contributions to the Northern Berkshire community, and also was grand marshal of the Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade in 2000. A recipient of the Massachusetts Bar Association Community Service Award, he is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, the Berkshire Bar Association, and a lifetime fellow of the Massachusetts Bar Foundation.
He received his law degree from Boston College School of Law in Newton, and his bachelor's degree from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. In addition, he received an honorary doctor of laws degree from MCLA in 2011. Previously, DeRosa was the managing partner DeRosa Dohoney, LLP, from 2011-14, and the founding partner of Freedman, DeRosa and Rondeau from 1976-2011.
"As much as I respect and admire John for his commitment as solicitor, what makes him so unique is very simply his love for the city and our greater region," Alcombright stated. "His commitment to his clients in his private practice and his decades-long effort to grow the city in so many ways has rarely been recognized."

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North Adams Council Puts Brakes on Sale of Sullivan School

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Councilor Rebbecca Cohen takes the gavel when both the president and vice president had to recuse themselves from the Sullivan sale discussion. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council hit the brakes on the sale of Sullivan School on Tuesday night, saying the proposal to transform the vacant elementary school into an advanced manufacturing training center needed further discussion. Two other bids were accepted with little debate.
A locally organized group of businesses and entrepreneurs operating as Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, bid $1 for the 50-year-old building but their proposal says they will be investing $11 million into the building and another $3 million in equipment. The Kemp Avenue property is assessed at $2.1 million.
"There's an expression of raising a lot of money but I don't see anyone writing a lot of checks," said Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, recommending the proposal go to committee for review, adding, "there's a lot more information needs to be known before we move forward with this."
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