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The VFW donated $10,000 toward the purchase of an ice cream truck.

VFW Post 448 Donates 10K To 'Operation Copsicle'

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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VFW Post 448 Commander Arnie Perras presented the check to Officer Darren Derby.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Police Department's efforts to purchase an ice cream truck took a significant step forward on Tuesday with a $10,000 donation from Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 448.
"This Copsicle operation the Police Department has established and trying to get funding for this truck is a very worthwhile cause. That's why the membership voted to contribute $10,000 toward this operation," VFW Commander Arnie Perras said.
"They're planning on going around to areas of the city where the youth may be at risk and build friendships."
Officer Darren Derby has headed an effort in the last few years to borrow an ice cream truck and deliver treats to area youth. Now he has set his sights on owning a truck for the Police Department to roll out on a regular basis.
"Sometimes just that two-second interaction, the handoff of an ice cream, really starts a conversation. It is not going to solve anything right away or by itself, but it takes many different efforts and this is only one of many we are going to implement," Derby said.
The effort, dubbed Operation Copsicle, is aimed to build positive relationships between the city's officers and its youth, particularly in areas with high numbers of at-risk youngsters. 
Derby said it will cost about $50,000 to purchase a vehicle and retrofit it to become an ice cream truck. He is working with Haddad Motors on the acquisition and with B&G Restaurant Supply on the retrofit. The VFW's donation brings him up to $27,000.
"I have a couple more nonprofit donations in the next couple weeks that will substantially boost us," Derby said. "This is our largest donation. We'll hopefully be receiving another one at or below this amount soon."
Derby said he's added another item to the project: popcorn and a movie. He said the plans now include not only ice cream but a projector to screen movies on the side of the vehicle.
"We have lots of good things to do. The goal, and I haven't let that goal go yet, is July 1 when it would be up and running. Hopefully, in talks with the chief, we can maybe get it in the Fourth of July Parade as a special vehicle," Derby said.
The effort has now crossed the halfway point. The city opened a special account at MyCom Credit to accept donations, which can be dropped off there or at the Police Station. With July approaching, Perras hopes the VFW's donation will be followed by others.
"We're hoping this will initiate other contributions so they will reach their goal very quickly," Perras said.

Tags: copsicle,   donations,   ice cream,   Pittsfield Police,   VFW,   

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Pittsfield at-Large City Councilor Candidates Answer Questions

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Candidate for the four a-large City Council seats participated in a forum Monday at Berkshire Community College as they made a push for votes before election day.
Seven candidates fielded questions at a forum hosted by BCC, in partnership with the Pittsfield Gazette and Pittsfield Community Television, which recorded the forum. The moderator was Shawn Serre, executive director of PCTV.
After some opening statements, the candidates were asked to pick a number that prompted a question. After three candidates answered the question the next candidate in line chose a new number. At the end of the session, candidates were given two minutes to answer questions they did not get or to expand on the answers they gave.
One of the first questions brought forward was about Mayor Linda Tyer's proposed home improvement plan that would have allowed qualified residents to apply for money from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund to make small improvements to their homes.
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