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.
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Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, visits the site of culvert project in Pittsfield being funded through the state's climate readiness program.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides was in Pittsfield on Friday to review a state-funded culvert site and meet with local officials to discuss the state's climate readiness program.
She joined Mayor Linda Tyer at the Churchill Street culvert, a site which recently received grant funding through the state's Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. The city was awarded an $814,524 state grant in June for the Churchill Brook and West Street Culvert Replacement Project.
Through the MVP program, which begun in 2017, municipalities identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. The initiative which initially started as a $500,000 capital grant program has now increased to $12 million. Pittsfield is among the 71 percent of communities across the commonwealth now enrolled in the MVP program.
"The governor and the lieutenant governor have made resilient infrastructure a priority all across the state and I think it's really important to know that we have a really vested interest in Western Massachusetts communities as well as all across the state, not forgetting the Berkshires or Pioneer Valley," said Theoharides in a statement. "Our MVP program is really focused on these types of partnership investments and looking to design infrastructure for the challenges we're seeing today and moving forward as climate change increases."
Four names will be on the preliminary ballot but only three candidates showed for the debate held by the Pittsfield Gazette and hosted at Berkshire Community College. The moderator was radio host Larry Kratka and Pittsfield Community Television aired the event.
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