The mayor says processes are being put in place to protect employees and citizens while still providing services.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — North County towns are declaring states of emergency or taking other actions to better deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mayor Thomas Bernard, speaking at City Hall with Adams Town Administrator Jay Green and Williamstown Town Manager Jason Hoch, said he was making the declaration "in line with our overall planning and preparedness and it ensures that we are able to protect the public health and safety, as well as to expedite the procurement of goods and services that we will need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic."
Clarksburg declared a state of emergency on Friday morning and the city of Pittsfield on Thursday.
In North Adams, a plan is being finalized to adjust operations at City Hall to protect employees and the public from the novel coronavirus.
The Peter W. Foote Veterans Memorial Skating Rink has been ordered closed along with other state-owned rinks after Gov. Charlie Baker limited events to no more than 250 people. The city is also limiting access to other public buildings including the library and the Spitzer Center.
"Both facilities have plans in place to serve the community while access to the building is restricted," said the mayor. Those plans are still being finalized, he added, but the library will open for business as "new usual" on Tuesday after a deep cleaning.
City Hall will be closed beginning Monday, March 16, and dropboxes will be installed at the entrances for any paperwork or documents that can't be faxed or emailed.
"I want to just make one thing clear that is despite the changes in standard standard operating procedures that we're talking about the regular business of the city goes on," Bernard said. "Here's a really good example of that: The IT team in it continues to pay close attention to cybersecurity and preparedness against online threats. ...
"This is especially important during times of increased stress scammers prey on people's vulnerability and they only succeed when people respond with emotion, usually fear or out of a sense of urgency rather than with thoughtfulness and healthy skepticism."
The mayor said he's seen an uptake in phishing attempts in his own email so citizens and staff should be cautious.
The administration is also reviewing the governor's emergency declaration allowing remote participation for governmental meetings and will be providing guidance for chairs of boards and committees.
Green said the municipalities are collaborating with both North Adams, Pittsfield and state and federal agencies. The town closed its Visitors Center and Council on Aging for three days this week for sanitizing and reopened for use but suspended the senior lunch program. The town's declaration can be found here.
"The town of Adams has not taken as many steps as the city yet, we're slightly smaller, but we'll be assessing that as we go along," he said. "I'd like to thank the support from Northern Berkshire EMA and the city with with assistance for our services."
Hoch echoed Green and said Williamstown is mirroring some of the city's actions.
"The Williams town library is closed and we're investigating alternate means of service delivery, Council on Aging programs have been discontinued," he said. "We will also be closing our Town Hall, similarly to the public, on Monday. And just as the city is doing, we really appreciate the relief from the state for some of the most challenging parts of the Open Meeting Law and we're working now to figure out actually how to implement that to keep engaging the public."
The Police and Fire departments in North Adams have not yet been affected by the virus but Police Chief Jason Wood said officers will move to summonsing in appropriate cases to reduce the amount of person-to-person contact. Policies to that effect and in dealing with COVID-19 were sent out Friday, he said.
Town Administrator Jay Green says the municipalities are collaborating with each other and state and federal agencies.
"I think it's inevitable — I'm sure it will touch us at some point," he said. "But we've been fortunate that we're still offering it 100 percent."
Northern Berkshire EMS General Manager John Meaney Jr. said the ambulance service has been toughing it out over the past week with seven emergency medical technicians out on quarantine. So far none have been symptomatic and the personnel shortage should ease a bit this week with some coming back on shift.
Bernard had been homebound most of the week until City Councilor Jason LaForest tested negative for the virus. The two had attended the Western Mass tournament together to cheer Drury and LaForest had some symptoms a couple days later but tested negative.
There's been a lot of talk about social distancing as a way to reduce to spread of the coronavirus, the mayor noted.
"But I'm also seeing people suggesting that we reconsider these ideas and instead of thinking about caution to reflect on the fact that we have a duty of care and concern to our families, friends, neighbors colleagues and fellow residents," he said. "I've said a lot that I'm encouraged and inspired by the strength of our community. I know this strength will continue to sustain us over the coming days and weeks."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
State Declares 'Green Friday' in Support of Local Xmas Tree Farms
UXBRIDGE, Mass. — The Baker-Polito administration has declared Friday, Nov. 27, as "Green Friday" to encourage people across the commonwealth to visit their local farms and nurseries for Christmas trees, holiday plants, and holiday decorating needs.
To celebrate, state Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux participated in a Christmas tree-cutting ceremony at Arrowhead Acres in Uxbridge. In an effort to support the commonwealth's Christmas tree industry, the declaration of Green Friday encourages people throughout the state to visit their local Christmas tree farms to purchase their trees, holiday plants, ornamental swags, and wreaths to fulfill their holiday decorating needs.
"Our administration believes in the importance of supporting our farms by shopping locally and purchasing holiday decorations from one of the commonwealth's many family-operated Christmas tree farms," said Gov. Charlie Baker. "Now more than ever, it is a great time to spend quality time with your family while partaking in this outdoor activity which allows for proper social distancing."
Christmas tree season in Massachusetts provides hundreds of seasonal jobs at approximately 264 Christmas tree farms on approximately 2,801 acres of land from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. The sale of more than 82,524 state-grown Christmas trees contributes approximately $3.5 million to the commonwealth's economy each year. Christmas tree farms, which are often sited on soils that cannot support other crops, stabilize soil, which helps prevent erosion and protect water supplies. When chipped, the trees can be used as a renewable source of energy to be burned as fuel, used as mulch, or composted.
The mayor's remarks were largely to remind residents of the virtual tree-lighting ceremony being broadcast on Northern Berkshire Community Television starting at 6 p.m., that City Hall offices will be closed Thursday and Friday and as will the transfer station.
click for more
The hashtag "GetBackMass" is part of the latest public awareness campaign launched by the commonwealth. The focus of television and digital advertising will be to promote the idea that "normal" activities can only resume after the threat of the novel coronavirus has subsided.
click for more