Municipal Briefs: North Adams Launches Food Drive

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The city of North Adams has started its annual holiday food drive and Mayor Thomas Bernard has set a goal to double last year's take.

"Last year, we had our best year ever with that, raised over 1,000 pounds of food.  I want to double it. I want to raise a ton of food this year to benefit the Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry.

"I'm throwing the gauntlet down."

The annual drive collects nonperishable foods from the North Adams Public Schools, City Hall, Police Department, Fire Department, Spitzer Center and the library. Organized through the public schools, the food drive started with the opening of the Friendship Center Pantry on Eagle Street in 2011. Schoolchildren decorated the boxes set out for public donations.

The pantry serves upwards of 150 families every Wednesday and gets much of its fare from donations and the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, along with purchasing supplemental supplies with cash contributions. It offers a variety of healthy foods and can always use canned goods like tuna, low-sodium vegetables and soup, and whole grain cereals and oatmeal, no sugar added canned fruits, and beans. Personal care items are also welcome.

Bernard said he's like to set a "strong aspirational goal" for the drive this year.

"Kidding aside, there is there is a need in the community to meet this," the mayor said at October's School Committee meeting. "Certainly there is need among the students in the community and those of us who are able to support that."

The drive started Tuesday, Nov. 12, and ends on Friday, Nov. 22. Food will be delivered to the pantry on Monday, Nov. 25.


Pittsfield's Department of Public Services has placed sand piles at three locations around the city: Barker Road Fire Station, Peck's Road Fire Station, and 37 Elm St. (at the intersection of Deming and Elm). Sand will be available for pickup by Pittsfield residents for their own personal use throughout the winter season. Residents are requested to limit their pickups to 50 pounds (one 5-gallon pail) per visit. Users of these piles are requested to report suspected abuse (loading of pickup trucks, etc.) to the DPS Highway Division office at 413-499-9314.


The planned power outage on Second Street is Pittsfield for Nov. 12 has been rescheduled for Monday, Nov. 18.

Because of the extreme cold temperatures forecast for Tuesday, Nov. 12, Eversource will be rescheduling its upgrade work in the Second Street vicinity. The work would have resulted in an electricity shut-off from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. but temperatures are expected to dip in the low teens or even single digits. The project will now be undertaken Monday beginning at 10 p.m. through 6 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 19.


🎄North Adams will be putting up its seasonal Christmas trees on Thursday. The main tree will be taken from the Pownal (Vt.) Fire Station on Route 346 and installed at Monument Square in the morning. The annual tree lighting will be Wednesday, Nov. 27, at 6 p.m. 🎄


❄️Most communities have initiated annual winter parking bans, including North Adams and Pittsfield.❄️

Lenox's ban took effect on Nov. 1 and any vehicles parked on the streets between 1 and 6 a.m. will be ticketed; during snowfall, they will be towed at the owners' expense.

Great Barrington's parking ban is in effect until March 31; any vehicles parked on the streets between 1 and 6 a.m. will be ticketed; during snowfall, they will be towed at the owners' expense.

Lanesborough's parking ban is also in effect until March 31, but begins at 10 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. Illegally parked vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense. Additional information.


The Pittsfield Fire Department responded to 160-162 First St. on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 10:13 p.m. for a reported structure fire. Upon arrival firefighters found moderate smoke conditions on the first floor and a small fire located in the basement of 162. Firefighters from Engine 3 stretched a 1-3/4-inch hose line and extinguished the fire. Tower 1 ventilated the building and assisted the E-3 crew with accessing the basement. E-5 crew provided water supply to E-3 and assisted in primary search and evacuation of the building's eight occupants. E-2 responded to assist with search and evacuation of occupants.

There are four apartment units housing eight people to the building. Damage was negligible and after the building was
ventilated post-fire, the inhabitants were allowed to return to their apartments without being displaced. The cause of the fire was improper and careless disposal of smoking materials.


DESE Review

The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's Office of Public School Monitoring will conduct a Tiered Focused Monitoring Review of the North Adams Public Schools on Dec. 10 and 11. The office routinely visits each district and charter school every three years to monitor compliance with federal and state special education and civil rights regulations. Areas of review related to special education include student assessments, determination of eligibility, the Individualized Education Program Team process, and IEP development and implementation. Areas of review related to civil rights include bullying, student discipline, physical restraint, and equal access to school programs for all students.
In addition to the onsite visit, parent outreach is an important part of the review process.

The review Chairwoman Sandra Hanig will send all parents of students with disabilities an online survey that focuses on key areas of their child's special education program. Survey results will contribute to the development of a report. The district encourages eligible parents to participate in this survey. 

Parents and others may call  Hanig at 413-314-6707 to request a telephone interview. A report will be issued approximately 60 business days after the onsite visit detailing areas in which the district meets or exceeds regulatory requirements and areas in which the district requires assistance to correct or improve practices. The public will be able to access the report at

Human Services Funding

The City of Pittsfield has applications available for funding to provide human services to benefit Pittsfield residents at the Department of Community Development at City Hall or by email request to Funding is for the program year July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021, and will be recommended by the 11-member Human Services Advisory Council.
Last year's recommendations resulted in 22 human service programs receiving a total of $206,250 from the city's general fund and from the federal Community Development Block Grant Program. Initiatives include but are not limited to: services for families with children, homeless services, programs for the disabled and senior citizens, nutrition and arts programs, and programs that benefit children in the Westside and Morningside neighborhoods.
The Department of Community Development will be holding three bidders' conferences in City Hall in Room 203 to assist applicants at 1 p.m., Wednesday Nov. 13; 10 a.m., Monday, Nov. 18; and 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21. Applicants are strongly encouraged to attend one of these three conferences. The application due date is Jan. 3, 2020. For further information, contact Community Development at 499-9358.

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Retired North Adams Librarian Pens Book About Renovation

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The story of the modernization and expansion of the historic North Adams Public Library has been written by the library director who the led the project. 
"Preserving a Legacy: Building for the Future" was recently self-published by Marcia Gross, who was head of the library for the first decade of the century. 
"She was so heavily involved in the planning for the library and donated a substantial part of her professional life to the renovation and expansion," Richard Markham, former library trustee, said. "I think she wanted to tell that story."
Markham helped Gross with the book and is doing the marketing and press for her.
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