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Adams Taps Three Finalists for Long-Vacant DPW Position

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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ADAMS, Mass. — Town officials are narrowing in on a new Department of Public Works director after going two years with an interim. 
Three candidates have been selected to be interviewed next Tuesday at a public meeting of the board.
Town Administrator Jay Green sees the hiring of the long vacant position as a huge opportunity. When Selectman Joseph Nowak asked him Wednesday about some long anticipated resurfacing work for the residents of Crotteau Street, Green took a big picture approach.
"A lot of the road construction work, or even the maintenance work, that normally would be run by the DPW got shifted to Community Development. They are doing a hell of a job trying to get these things through but we've been slowed down in our abilities by not having a DPW director," he said. "I'm hopeful that we get a reasonable hire and get the person up to speed. Day-to-day operations are being covered. I've had no concerns about day-to-day operations. It's the larger project management and getting things done like that (Crotteau Street project) that constituents have been very patient about that is my top goal."
Donna Cesan and her team in Community Development, along with the town administrator's office, have been handling the larger public works issues since Dave Nuvaille retired nearly two years ago. Operations Supervisor Tim Kota has been running the day-to-day operations. 
In other DPW and road related news, Green gave an update on the condition of Howland Avenue. Constant tractor-trailer traffic and heavy commuter usage in general have consistently taken its toll on the road and made it notoriously cratered and treacherous in recent winters. 
"We've had a couple reports from residents of a few potholes on Howland Ave. However, our constituents watching at home should know that that road is very difficult to maintain. It is heavily traveled by heavy vehicles and it is high speed. It's dangerous for our DPW employees to address those problems," Green said. "Nonetheless we do our best to do it. At the same time we are having a conversation with MassHighway in terms of their maintenance obligations and any opportunities that we have to be able to resurface that road. I think it's important for the public to know that we hear you.
"It is not an easy or inexpensive potential fix but we are having conversations with our State Representative as well as MassHighway."
The state Department of Transportation this past year resurfaced Curran Highway, the portion of Route 8 that runs through North Adams, but that has southbound motorists skimming along the freshly paved highway and immediately on to Howland Avenue's two lanes of potholes and patches. 
Another possible hire is imminent as the position of animal control officer/parking attendant position was posted and interviews are currently taking place. The hiring of a parking attendant in town has been a long discussed topic among several different administrations. Some felt the town wouldn't collect enough revenue for citations to offset the cost of the position. Other officials have felt that by enforcing time limits and violations it would keep spots turning over, collect more fees, and make more spots available to customers looking to do business downtown.
Green thinks the timing fits perfectly with the new Visitors Center lot kiosks soon coming on line.
"We will also at some point have to discuss our parking policy in terms of the Visitors Center parking lot. We have new kiosks out there. I think the timing will be good with a full-time parking control officer as well as a comprehensive plan [for the new lot]," he said. "I've had time to get a good sense of who uses that parking lot. Speaking with some of our residents. Speaking with some of our department heads."
A date was not set as to when the new kiosks will go live but it will most likely be after the hiring of the parking attendant.
In a last bit of hiring news, the board unanimously approved a job description for an operations supervisor at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. This doesn't add a position or any money to the 2020 budget.
Green hopes the position, which will be advertised early in the new year, will help Superintendent Bob Rumbolt run what is an increasingly sophisticated operation.
"This position provides us the opportunity to have another high level supervisor at the plant. It's a very detailed operation and it takes a while to earn the certifications," he said. "It does not expand the number of staffers at the plant. The position has already been built into the fiscal 2020 budget."
Nowak asked about potential costly upgrades at the plant that always seem to loom every year.
"We're going to end up having a pretty in depth conversation about that while we're building the fiscal '21 budget. Most of the upgrades that are needed are simply due to the age and wear on the equipment. Not necessarily the DEP regulations," Green replied. "I think we are probably going to hire an engineering firm to look at it comprehensively. From a fiscal standpoint we're going to have to look at it in phases. Year one year two year three."
In other business: 
The Selectmen held a public hearing regarding the transfer of the wine and malt package store license to the new owners of 7-Eleven on Columbia Street. The store had been owned by JP Rose but has been sold to 7-Eleven of Massachusetts although local management will remain unchanged. The transfer was approved unanimously and now must be blessed by the state. That process usually takes one to two months but 7-Eleven will still be able to sell wine and beer under the current license this holiday season.
Town Hall will be closing for the Thanksgiving weekend at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27. This is a change from last year as the Town Hall was closed all day the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Free holiday parking throughout town starts Wednesday, Nov. 27, and ends Thursday, Jan. 2.
The board will be meeting Tuesday, Nov. 26, but only to interview the three candidates for the DPW director position; there will be no Wednesday meeting. The interviews will start at 4 p.m. and Chairwoman Christine Hoyt thinks each will take roughly an hour. The public is encouraged to attend.

Tags: candidate interviews,   DPW,   

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Adams Votes for North Berkshire EMS

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen on Thursday voted at the end of a 2 1/2-hour meeting to designate Northern Berkshire EMS as its primary provider of emergency services as of Jan. 1. 
The vote was 4-0 and comes two days after the Cheshire Select Board unanimously voted the same. 
Members and supporters of the Adams Ambulance Service asked the board to hold off on its decision but officials were not confident that it would be able to rectify its financial woes within a four-week timeframe. Or if the state Department of Public Health would allow it to continue operation since it had notified the DPH that it would close Dec. 31 if not earlier. 
The service is also under a corrective order by the state for failing to develop a state-approved plan to prevent coverage from being disrupted. It has a deadline of Dec. 20 to comply.
"The Department of Public Health says we cannot move forward assuming that Adams Ambulance Service will be allowed to continue to provide coverage to the town," said Town Administrator Jay Green. "That is the context of the hearing."
Green stressed that Adams Ambulance is a private non-profit that is not operated or funded by the town and that the change in service provider does not mean it will cease to function. Rather, Northern Berkshire will be the first dispatched for 911 calls; Adams will still be part of mutual aid, will be able to take transports and continue to cover Savoy and Hawley.
Selectman Howard Rosenberg said the lack of information coming from the ambulance service over the past 18 months played into their decisions. 
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