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The City Council applauds the city's new fire chief, Thomas Sammons.
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Mayor Linda Tyer congratulates her new fire chief.

Pittsfield City Council Welcomes Sammons as Fire Chief

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Thomas Sammons is sworn in for the  second time by City Clerk Michele Benjamin.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday formally ratified the appointment of Thomas Sammons as the new fire chief and director of emergency management.
 
"It is exciting a great group of guys got promoted tonight, everybody worked hard and I could not be happier," he said after being sworn in in front of a full City Council Chamber. "I have a great support staff and a lot of support here tonight it makes me feel really good." 
 
Mayor Linda Tyer named Sammons chief last week and he was sworn in to take immediate command of the Fire Department. Tuesday's broadcast event was largely to celebrate his promotion and introduce him to the council and the city.
 
Sammons, who has spent over 20 years as a firefighter, replaced former Chief Robert Czerwinski who retired this summer.  
 
He was one of three candidates selected through the assessment center process that Pittsfield adopted several years ago as a modification to Civil Service. 
 
With the shift in leadership, the City Council also ratified additional appointments Tuesday night with the promotions of Neil Myers and Ronald Clement as deputy chiefs. 
 
Robert Stevens, Kenneth Cowan and Daniel Atiken have been promoted to fire captains and Robert Leary, Kevin Brady, and Jacob Brown to lieutenant.
 
There were more appointments Tuesday night of Ann-Marie Harris to the Historical Commission and Kathleen Amuso to the Licencing Board.
 
In other business, the City Council also accepted $75,000 in earmarked funding from the state for a broadband feasibility study
 
Chief Information Officer Mike Steben said is more than just a feasibility study and named it the Shire City Fiber Project.
 
"The City of Pittsfield believes that broadband internet access is an essential utility," he said. "Fast reliable and affordable internet is important to all aspects of life in our city ... we want our city to have world-class internet access."
 
He said although Pittsfield has not been underserved by corporate internet providers it could be better served. Instead of relying on these providers to invest in infrastructure, the city can look at providing the service itself.
 
The study should take around four to five months and Pittsfield must look at current infrastructure and undergo a full cost-benefit analysis to see if becoming an Internet Service Provider is possible. 
 
Steben said Pittsfield could potentially offer faster internet at better prices to businesses and residents. 
 
The council accepted $353,562 from the Department of Transportation in Complete Streets funding. 
 
These funds will go toward 10 different projects that include sidewalk repairs and replacement, improved handicapped accessibility, crosswalk safety improvements, pedestrian signal addition, and new bike lanes.
 
• The council accepted $25,000 from the Stanton Foundation to fund the design of a dog park at Burbank Park. Parks and Open Spaces Manager James McGrath said a design and cost estimate should be wrapped up by the end of winter.
 
Once this is complete, McGrath said the city will be ready for the $225,000 Stanton Foundation construction grant. The city would be responsible for 10 percent of the construction cost.
 
The council did question if this construction grant was a sure thing. McGrath said because the Stanton Foundation is funding the design it is very unlikely it would not follow through with construction funds.
 
"I would be very surprised if that was not the case," he said. "We are confident." 
 
Construction could be completed in fall 2020.

Tags: fire chief,   swearing in,   

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Pittsfield Superintendent Seeking New Opportunities

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Superintendent of Schools Jason "Jake" McCandless is actively seeking new opportunities and may leave the Pittsfield Public Schools. 
 
After McCandless' evaluation by the School Committee on Wednesday, he confirmed that he is a finalist for the superintendent's position of the Silver Lake Regional School District in Kingston, just north of Plymouth.
 
"It simply feels in my gut like it is a good time to make a change," McCandless said.
 
McCandless came to Pittsfield in 2013 after being in Lee for 11 years, eight of those as superintendent and three as principal. He came to Lee after three years as an assistant principal in Virginia. 
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