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Mayor Thomas Bernard reads a proclamation designating the week of May 6-12 as Children's Mental Health Awareness Week with Carrie Crews, the Brien Center's family support and training program director.

Bernard Suggests North Adams May Hold Spectrum Meeting

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The City Council approved the use of new voting machines, a hanging sign and several licenses. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Mayor Thomas Bernard is suggesting that a community meeting, similar to that held in Pittsfield, be scheduled with Charter Spectrum. 
"I think we can still agree there's still enough upset that it's worth having a community meeting and inviting Charter Spectrum to hear the perspective of the community," Bernard told the City Council on Tuesday night. 
Complaints have been rife as frustrated cable customers have dealt with poor customer service, slow or interrupted internet connections, pricey new digital boxes and dropped channels since Charter's takeover of Time-Warner — the area's only cable service.
The cable provider has also kicked Northern Berkshire Community Television's channels into the higher numbers (1301, 1302 and 1303) making them more difficult to find.
"There's some ongoing compliance issues related to contract issues with NBCTV specifically," he told the council "I've spoken to [NBCTV Executive Director] Mr. [David] Fabiano, we've talked to the attorney who handled the negotiation  and so we're trying to understand what relief might be available through legal means to bring Charter Spectrum into compliance."
The mayor said he has also been in contact with the state's Department of Telecommunications and Cable, which has offered some assistance. He said his office working with DTC officials to set a date for an initial regional hearing of issuing authorities that he's offered to host. 
The city is in the early years of a 10-year contract with Spectrum. Pittsfield's Mayor Linda Tyer facilitated a community meeting last month to give residents a chance to express their frustrations. She's also requiring that Spectrum provide a report to the Pittsfield City Council.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the City Council approved the use of five new optical scanner voting machines.
The transfer of $32,000 in funds for the purchase was passed two weeks ago. The city will be upgrading from the Accuvote machines to the new Imagecast Precinct machines, both of which are offered through LHS Associates of Salem, N.H. 
The new machines are needed because the current machines could freeze up because the clock chips that run them are no longer available. The only chip manufacturer is located in China and LHS Associates will not contract with it. The machines it sells are manufactured in the United States and used worldwide. 
Gomeau, in her communication to the council, said the Imagecast voting machines have a lifespan of 20 years and are being used in more than 100 Massachusetts communities. Since North Adams and a number of surrounding communities are buying the machines together, the company is giving a discount.
"The biggest advantage is the clerks will all be working together, helping each other," she wrote. 
In other business, Bernard read a proclamation designating the week of May 6-12 as Children's Mental Health Awareness Week in solidarity with the Northern Berkshire Systems of Care Committee. Carrie Crews, the Brien Center's family support and training program director, stood with the mayor during the reading. As in years past, a standout is being planned to advocate for children's mental health issues.
The council approved secondhand-license renewals for Minerva Arts Center (MAC Treasures) located at 305 State Road and for James Montepare at 432 State Road and 63 Main St. Council President Keith Bona abstained from all three because he is partners with Montepare in the secondhand business. 
• The potential plastic-bag ban being deliberated by the General Government Committee was postponed to the second meeting in July. The committee is doing research on the issue. Council Vice President Benjamin Lamb took over for Bona during this motion because Bona, as a local business owner, felt it was a conflict. 
• The council approved an overhanging sign for Melanie St. Pierre's art studio, Artsy Avenue, at 151 Eagle St. The sign has already been approved by the Planning Board but required proof of liability. 
• Councilor Wayne Wilkinson castigated the community and councilors for failing to provide any input into the $44 million fiscal 2019 budget. Wilkinson, chairman of the Finance Committee, pointed to the paltry showing at the three meetings held so far as an indication there is no interest in how taxpayer money is being spent.
"We're getting no input," he said. "But this budget will come back to this council at some point, I really hope these councilors that haven't bothered coming to these meetings don't ask any questions because that's not the time."
The next meeting is Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers and will cover Public Safety and the McCann Technical School budgets.

Tags: cable television,   mental health,   spectrum,   voting,   

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PopCares Cancer Charity Has Helped Nearly 900 People

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Kate Zarnay tells the crowd about her son's cancer and how PopCares has helped her family.  
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — PopCares has proved a powerful force in helping local residents dealing with cancer, largely thanks to the outpouring of support from a community that's raised more than a half million dollars over the past eight years.
On Saturday, that generosity was on full display as some 600 or so attended the annual chicken dinner fundraiser held for the third year at Greylock Works and catered by David Nicholas of Bounti-Fare.
The charity was founded by the family of William "Pop" St. Pierre, who died of cancer in 2012, both to memorialize his kindness and to help other families suffering from the disease.
"Cancer does not just come for us physically, it comes for us emotionally, mentally, and financially as well. When cancer comes for you, it comes for your whole family and all who love you," said Kate Zarnay, whose son Jacob has been battling cancer on several fronts since infancy. "The reality is adequate treatment options do not exist for Jacob, and many people fighting cancer locally, especially children."
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