Lt. Paul Zwingelstein has his son Brayden pin the new badge onto his uniform.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Last Saturday was a day of firsts that Mitch Kellar won't soon forget.
It was his first shift as a deputy fire chief, his first day serving as a captain, and the first time he'd had to deal with four fires all at the same time.
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said Kellar handled it well though, with a cool and calm demeanor and a high level of professionalism.
Kellar isn't the only officer within the department with new roles.
Tom Sammons has been promoted to deputy chief; Ron Clement, Michael D'Avella, Matt Packard, and Kellar were all promoted to captain; and Jim Heath, Matt Risley, Tim Conroy, and Paul Zwingelstein were all promoted to lieutenant.
"I'm confident you will do a fantastic job," retired Deputy Chief Mark Cancilla told the group of nine on Wednesday night when the department held a pinning ceremony to honor the occasion at Reid Middle School.
"It is a long hard battle to get here," Czerwinski said. "We all set goals in life and that's where we end up being, trying to get to these positions and trying to be the best people we can be."
The chief provided one major piece of advice for the promoted officers: be professional.
"Being a true professional comes from within the individual person. It is not the job of the training officer to teach you how to be professional. What they will do is give you the most basic knowledge to become a professional," Czerwinski said.
He called on the officers to treat others the way they would like to be treated, to conduct themselves in a calm and intelligent manner, to display a calm demeanor during an emergency and to perform to the highest standards.
"You have to remain passionate about your firefighting career," Czerwinski said.
He said there will be a time when others try to shake that passion, but he urged the officers not to give in. He told them to remain dedicated to the job and to be consistent with it.
Czerwinski remembered when he was first hired by the department and how happy he was to have the job. He said he was ready and able to take on every challenge and was proud of the work being done. He wants his officers to keep that pride just like he has throughout his career and feel it every day.
"It is important that you develop and maintain pride in yourself, your company, your department, and the manner in which you carry yourself. You and you alone set the tone for your future," Czerwinski said.
Mayor Linda Tyer is confident in the officer's ability and said that was clearly shown on Saturday, when a suspected arsonist set at least three fires in the city within minutes of each other. She said she was "extremely proud" of the work the city's public safety departments did on that troubling night.
The officers were joined by family during the ceremony Thursday.
"This weekend certainly was a moment for all of us in the city of Pittsfield when there was some fear and some anxiety. When I received a call from Chief Czerwinski and I spoke to [Police] Chief [Michael] Wynn about what was happening I had a couple reactions. First my heart was filled with confidence. I believe in our public safety community for the firefighters who are there to protect life, home, and possessions, for the Police Department conducting the investigation, I was filled with confidence," Tyer said.
"I was also filled with fear and worry that our firefighters and police officers were in harm's way. Every time we have an event like this in our community there is a mixed reaction, mixed emotion. I breathed a sigh of relief when everything has calmed down, I know everyone is safe, and that our firefighters and police officers have delivered to the people of our city the most excellent protection."
Department Chaplain Peter Gregory said, "scripture reminds us often that we must always build on rock, never on sand." He feels confident that those being promoted are coming from a solid foundation within the department and prayed for their futures within the city.
"Their courage, their commitment, and their vision to assume the responsibilities of their rank was enhanced by this foundation of stone," Gregory said.
Gregory had recently retired from St. Charles' Church but he had agreed to stay on with the department. Czerwinski recognized Gregory as an honorary firefighter at Wednesday's ceremony, presenting him with a fire helmet.
The promoted officers were then pinned new badged by loved ones.
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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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City Council President Peter Marchetti feels he's brought "professional leadership" to the city and he wants to continue doing so.
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