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Lt. Anthony Beverly, left, Chief Jason Wood, Officer Nicholas Kaiser, Mayor Thomas Bernard and JamieEllen Moncecchi of Greylock Federal.
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At left, Greylock Senior Vice President Peter Mirante, James Holmes and Heidi Cooper of The Spoke.
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Greylock Federal Donates Bikes for North Adams Community Policing

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Lt. Anthony Beverly with one of the new Felt bicycles.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Police Department has had a bicycle patrol program for nearly 20 years — and that's about how old its bicycles were. 
 
Thanks to Greylock Federal Credit Union, the force now has two brand-new Felt bikes worth about $1,190.60.
 
"The old bikes, the newest one we had I had as a kid," laughed Officer Nicholas Kaiser. "So, they needed upgrading and this is definitely a very large upgrade."
 
The department's bike patrols have been spotty over the years, their availability dependent on staffing and scheduling. The biking patrols were tried again last year but staffing, again, had been an issue. 
 
Police Chief Jason Wood said the force is a little low at the moment, largely from retirements, but by the time next summer comes around, there should be nine new officers who will have completed the academy by February.
 
"Our staffing will look much better than it does now and, hopefully, I will be working on a program to get the bikes integrated in," the chief said. "Right now it's going to be as needed and when people are available."
 
Still, there are seven officers trained on bicycle policing and Lt. Anthony Beverly has been involved in efforts to sustain the program for years. At one point, they put racks on the backs of the cruisers so they could drive to different neighborhoods, take the bikes off and patrol. Officers have also been active in teaching youngsters about safe bicycling through programs in the schools. 
 
"I love the bike program, I really do," Beverly said. "This right here is a vital part of our mission to get out there and interact with the community, to get out there and be approachable and visible within the neighborhoods. ... It's effective, it's very effective."
 
The officers are highly visible in their neon yellow shirts and being on bikes offers a friendlier opportunity to relate to children and residents. Plus, Beverly said, being on a bicycle lets officers see and hear things they wouldn't normally see and hear in a cruiser. 
 
"It's good for the community, people are more relaxed around the bikes, they're very approachable, instead of a cruiser driving by," Wood said. "It's good for crime deterrent, too. You'd be surprised what you can find when you're riding a bicycle."
 
Wood recalled there was a bike unit back in 2001-2002, about the time he joined the force part time. 
 
"The things that they would come up on were unbelievable," he said. "And I can only imagine what they'd find now."
 
The chief said Beverly and Kaiser had really pushed to keep the bike program going so this donation was a good shot in the arm. 
 
"We're able to get out and get the exercise and for interacting with the community, people are a lot more likely to come up to us on a bike than a patrol car," agreed Kaiser.
 
The Felt bikes are dark charcoal and lightweight. They have small lights on the front that can blink and strobe and are outfitted with bike bags and water bottle holders. Beverly said the narrow tires make them more efficient and they have hydraulic brakes. 
 
The bicycles were sourced and outfitted by The Spoke in Williamstown. 
 
"This is our house brand. We trust Felt more than any other company that we have," said store manager Heidi Cooper. "For quality, efficiency, and they're light. They have never let us down."
 
JamieEllen Moncecchi, vice president for administration at Greylock Federal, said the need for the bicycles was brought to her attention by a resident. 
 
"They were a little bit on the older side, 20-plus years," she said. "They were seeking some new bikes. I had a great conversation with the chief ... I just think it's a win-win situation.
 
The resident was James Holmes, a bicycling enthusiast who also partnered with officers to create "Running With the Law," Saturday morning runs with middle school students and officers through the streets of North Adams. 
 
Beverly said he still has youngsters coming up to him to say they remember running with him. 
 
"That pays dividends," he said, and hopes to really "hammer" the bike program "to get into the neighborhoods and immerse ourselves."
 
The bikes were debuted Thursday evening at the weekly "Downtown Bike Around," an open group that invites bicyclists to ride around the city and learn safe practices. Nearly a dozen participants, including Mayor Thomas Bernard, were preparing to take off from St. Anthony's Municipal Parking Lot. 
 
Bernard thanked Greylock officials and The Spoke for outfitting the officers to make them safe and able to serve the community. 
 
"We talked a lot, when we were looking at the future of the department, about community policing and what it means to be out in the community, to be out in the public making these kinds of connections," the mayor said. "And you know, a bike might not seem like a big thing but it has a big impact on quality of life and as this program continues to roll out, it's just more visibility for our officers and another great extension of that commitment to community."

Tags: bicycling,   community policing,   NAPD,   

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Sticking to Budget Can Boost Your Emergency Fund

Submitted by Edward Jones

During the coronavirus pandemic, our health concerns – for ourselves and our loved ones – have been at the top of our minds. But financial worries have been there, too, both for people whose employment has been affected and for investors anxious about the volatile financial markets. 

And one aspect of every individual's total financial picture has become quite clear – the importance of an emergency fund.

In normal times, it's a good idea for you to keep three to six months' worth of living expenses in a liquid, low-risk account. Having an emergency fund available can help you cope with those large, unexpected costs, such as a major car repair or a costly medical bill.

Furthermore, if you have an adequate emergency fund, you won't have to dip into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs. These investment vehicles, such as your IRA and 401(k), are designed for your retirement, so the more you can leave them intact, the more assets you are likely to have when you retire. And because they are intended for your retirement, they typically come with disincentives, including taxes and penalties, if you do tap into them early. (However, as part of the economic stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act, individuals can now take up to $100,000 from their 401(k) plans and IRAs without paying the 10 percent penalty that typically applies to investors younger than 59 1/2. If you take this type of withdrawal, you have up to three years to pay the taxes and, if you want, replace the funds, beyond the usual caps on annual contributions.)

Of course, life is expensive, so it's not always easy to put away money in a fund that you aren't going to use for your normal cash flow. That’s why it's so important to establish a budget and stick to it. When developing such a budget, you may find ways to cut down on your spending, freeing up money that could be used to build your emergency fund.

There are different ways to establish a budget, but they all typically involve identifying your income and expenses and separating your needs and wants. You can find various online budgeting tools to help you get started, but, ultimately, it's up to you to make your budget work. Nonetheless, you may be pleasantly surprised at how painless it is to follow a budget. For example, if you have budgeted a certain amount for food each month, you will need to avoid going to the grocery store several times a week, just to pick up "a few things" – because it doesn't really take that many visits for those few things to add up to hundreds of dollars. You will be much better off limiting your trips to the grocery, making a list of the items you need and adhering to these lists. After doing this for a few months, see how much you have saved – it may be much more than you would expect. Besides using these savings to strengthen your emergency fund, you could also deploy them toward longer-term investments designed to help you reach other objectives, such as retirement.

Saving money is always a good idea, and when you use your savings to build an emergency fund, you can help yourself prepare for the unexpected and make progress toward your long-term goals.

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