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Sign posted at Clarksburg Town Hall on Sunday. The town's four public buildings are closed and will be disinfected after a resident tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus.

Clarksburg Closes Public Buildings in Wake of COVID-19 Diagnosis

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials are closing down its public buildings — including the school — after a resident was found presumptive positive for the novel coronavirus. 
 
The decision was made Sunday during an emergency meeting of the Board of Health, Select Board and School Committee members, said Select Board Chairman Ronald Boucher. 
 
"We're really doing this out of an abundance of caution," said Boucher. "We have a large senior citizen population and we want to be aware of that."
 
Gem Environmental has contracted to come in and disinfect Town Hall, the library, the senior center, and the school. 
 
The Clarksburg resident is the first presumptive positive for COVID-19 in Berkshire County. He was admitted to Berkshire Medical Center a week ago but was not tested until state and federal requirements were loosened on Friday. Prior to that, testing was only being done on individuals who had traveled to affected areas or were in close contact to those infected with the virus. The patient did not fall into those categories.
 
"We are taking proactive, precautionary measures with this public health issue and we will reassess the situation on Friday, March 13th," Town Administrator Rebecca Stone wrote in an email along with the notice of closure. 
 
Superintendent of Schools John Franzoni said the individual, described as in his 60s, was not a school employee but noted that Clarksburg is a small town so there can be a lot of interaction between community members.
 
"This is just a precaution," he said. "It's a small town, there are a lot of connections."
 
In an email notice on Sunday afternoon, North Adams Mayor Thomas Bernard said city officials were aware of the actions being taken in Clarksburg and that all the city's schools including McCann Technical School were "thoroughly disinfected over the weekend" and would open at their regular times on Monday. 
 
"We are continuing to monitor this situation as it unfolds, and will make decisions and announce any changes based on the most current information available," he wrote. "We will continue to track and trend illnesses in all of the schools. Anyone who is ill should remain at home and we ask that you please consult with your primary-care physician if you have any questions or concerns about sending your child to school."
 
How a weeklong closure of the school will affect the school year has not yet been determined. Franzoni said he participated in a conference call with other superintendents and state education officials on Friday to begin addressing how schools will respond as more cases arise. He expected that a best practice will be forthcoming from the state on how the 180-day rule will apply. 
 
"The [state Department of Public Health] was not recommending closure but we wanted to be safe," he said. Parents and staff were being notified on Sunday.
 
Several first-responders had also been asked to self-quarantine after contact with the patient. Boucher said there were were firefighters among them but was not positive if it had been two as reported. A police officer at the scene was not considered at risk because the officer had not been in close contact.
 
"We're just being extra cautious," Boucher said, adding that officials are expected to meet at the end of the week determine next steps. 
 
A joint statement through the Northern Berkshire School Union reads: "The Clarksburg Board of Health has been notified of one confirmed case of the Coronavirus in the Town of Clarksburg. As a precautionary measure, town and school officials are closing the Clarksburg School, Clarksburg Public Library, Clarksburg Senior Center, and Clarksburg Town Hall effective immediately through Friday, March 13 in order to disinfect and thoroughly clean all facilities. Town officials will reassess the situation on Friday, March 13 and will issue an update at that time."
 
Health officials are investigating where the Clarksburg patient may have come into contact with the disease. The virus is believed to be spread through direct contact or spread through sneezing and coughing. It can cause respiratory distress, fever and coughing. Those over age 60 or with underlying medical conditions are considered most susceptible.
 
On Sunday, presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 more than doubled in Massachusetts, from 12 to 27. The confirmed cases remains at one.
 
An adult patient was also tested as presumptive positive at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. The patient came to the emergency room on Thursday with fever, cough, and shortness of breath and was immediately placed in isolation. Conclusive results are expected from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on Monday. 
 
People are encouraged to wash their hands, sanitize frequently handled surfaces, and to avoid or take precautions in crowded areas and around sick individuals. Recommended quarantines are 14 days. More information can be found on the DPH website.
 
Berkshire Medical Center's toll free hotline for questions or concerns about COVID-19 is 855-BMC-LINK, or 855-262-5465. The line is available seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
 

 


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Debate Over Solar Carports Heats Up in Clarksburg

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Planners Erin Scott, Gregory Vigna, Vincent King and Karin Robert look over the plans for the solar carports. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Planning Board says the structures at the former country club are ground-mounted solar arrays; the developer says they are carports with solar-panel roofs. 
 
The debate over the definition of the structures — and whether there was a permit issued for their construction — lead to heated exchanges between town officials and the owner at last week's Planning Board meeting. 
 
"They're solar arrays masquerading as carports," said Planning Board member Karin Robert.
 
The three structures were installed by BVD Solar, a solar development company owned by Todd Driscoll, who also owns the golf course. Driscoll pointed out several times during the evening that he does not own structures but builds them for solar companies. 
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