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North Adams Happenings: March 17

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For the next few weeks we'll be changing our focus from promoting events  in our area to offering updates and resources related to the Coronavirus pandemic. 

This is uncharted territory for all of us and we will continue to work together to keep everyone safe, informed, and supported. We are in this together and if there's one thing we do really well it's helping each other through rough times. We got this!

Below is the most current information available.  We hope this helps you  best understand what the current situation is, what is being required of our community, ways you can be proactive in reducing the spread of COVID-19, ways you can continue to support your community, what you should do if you are sick, and available resources to help those in need.


413-662-3614 |

The Northern Berkshire COVID-19 Operations Center serves as a centralized hub for the communities of North Adams, Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Savoy, New Ashford, Florida, and Williamstown; Stamford, Vermont; as well as for MCLA and Williams College. The center will focus on streamlining all communication and requests to our local, state and federal partners. In order to meet the needs of our communities, the operations center has established a COVID-19 Hotline and email address for our partner communities. The focus of the hotline is to answer all questions that individuals and agencies may have specific to COVID-19 and what services they may need or may have to offer.
Friends, In some ways it is hard to believe we issued the first community update about the COVID-19 Coronavirus just one week ago. In that time, we have all been through a period of extraordinary change. We all have added new phrases to our vocabulary, like “abundance of caution,” “flatten the curve,” and “social distancing.”
So as we end this extraordinary week and begin a new one, many of us are wondering “What’s next?” In some ways the answer is “more of the same.” We will continue to take action on the facts as we understand them in order to protect public health and safety.
As I have noted before, we are all sharing the experience of doing our best to respond to a situation that is changing quickly. The means we may learn that the plans we made this week with the best information available to us will need to change next week. As things change I will continue to provide regular updates with the most complete and accurate information available, including the frequently asked questions that follow this message.
Thank you. Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.
Mayor Tom Bernard                                                                                                              

The resources below are intended to answer FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS. This information will be updated weekly.

The following sites continue to provide timely and accurate information, recommendations, and updates:
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH)

Mass 211
Calling 211 connects callers to information about critical health and human services available in their community.

The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Berkshire Health Systems
855-BMC-LINK, or 855-262-5465. The information line is available 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


  • Wash your hands frequently (20 seconds minimum)
  • Cover sneezes and coughs
  • Avoid close contact with people if you or they are ill
  • Don't touch your eyes, face or mouth
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Avoid crowded public spaces
  • Maintain your distance from others (6 feet or 2 meters away).
  • Limit use of public transportation
  • Monitor your symptoms
  • Call your doctor
  • Stay home except to get medical care (Call first)
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Wear a face mask
  • Call 911 if it is a medical emergency
  • Wear a face mask
The following are currently CLOSED to the public (through 4/6/20). Updates on when these places will be reopened will be posted as soon as they become available:
  • North Adams City Hall - We strongly encourage community members to do business with the city by phone (413-662-3000) or online whenever possible. However if you have pressing in-person business we will work with you to accommodate your needs. We’ll also be sharing information about how to access library services while the building is closed to the public.
  • The North Adams Public Schools
  • The North Adams Public Library
  • The Mary Spitzer Senior Center
  • The Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink
  • All restaurants, bars and other establishments that offers food or drink will be closed for dine-in service
  • Gatherings of over 25 people will be prohibited, including all community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based events, sporting events with spectators, concerts, conventions and any similar event or activity that brings together 25 or more people in a single room or a single space at the same time. This includes gyms, theaters, venues, churches, civic centers.
The following are currently OPEN, some with restrictions. Updates  will be posted as soon as they become available:
  • Post offices
  • Grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Gas stations
  • TAKE OUT / Drive-thru meals from restaurants
  • Retail stores
  • Long-term care facilities and nursing homes will be prohibited from allowing any visitors
  • Hospitals will be required to screen visitors and restrict visitation, as well as, postpone elective surgeries to ensure medical workers and hospital space is available.
  • The Registry of Motor Vehicles will extend the renewal timeline for certain credentials to reduce the need for customers to physically visit an RMV service center for in-person transactions.
nbCC Northern Berkshire Resource Guide: This is a comprehensive guide for contacting our local resources covering Elderly services to Youth services and everything in between.
Recovery Loan Fund and can email applications to with the subject line, “2020 Small Business Recovery Liam Fund.”
Common Capital Fast Track Loan Program
Small Business Administration (SBA)

Adams Community Bank

Berkshire Bank

Greylock Federal Credit Union

Here are some suggestions on ways you can continue supporting your community, family, friends, and even yourself.
  • Make time for selfcare. It's hard to take care of others if you don't take care of yourself! Read, exercise, meditate, get creative...
  • Take the census! or 1-844-330-2020
  • Check in on your neighbors. Even if it's just a phone call, check in and ask how your friends are neighbors are doing. 
  • Order take-out to  continue to support your local restaurants 
  • Buy gift certificates to your favorite local shops 
  • Become a member of your favorite museum or theater
  • If you have tickets to a cancelled event, consider donating the money to that institution instead of asking for a refund
  • Take the census! or 1-844-330-2020
  • Buy from your local farmer. Grocery stores may be out of some items that are available at your local farms.  Support your local food producers.
  • Stuck at home? Build your skill set. Consider taking an online course to build your professional toolbox.
  • Take the census! or 1-844-330-2020
NORTH ADAMS PUBLIC SCHOOL is participating in the Emergency Feeding Summer Food Service Program. Grab and Go style meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.
Meals will be provided, at a first come, first serve basis, at the sites and times as follows.
Children must be present to receive one breakfast and one lunch per day:
Brayton Elementary School, 3/16/20-4/3/20, Breakfast and Lunch 11:00-12:00
Colegrove Park Elementary School, 3/16/20-4/3/20, Breakfast and Lunch 11:00-12:00
Mohawk Forest Apartments, 3/17/20-4/3/20, Breakfast and Lunch, 11:00-12:00 
Greylock Valley Apartments, 3/17/20-4/3/20, Breakfast and Lunch 11:00-12:00 
ADAMS CHESHIRE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL will operate breakfast and lunch program starting Monday, March 16th at Hoosac Valley Elementary School. While they are closed, students can pick up a Grab and Go breakfast and lunch package between 9:00-11:00am Monday through Friday in the cafeteria. Please go to the back door of the cafeteria near the playground to pick it up. This will be available for free for all children 18 and under.
Al Nelson Friendship Center in North Adams and the Williamstown Food Pantry have opted to modify their routines to continue to remain open. Click here to read more
Pope John Paul Charity Center food pantry in Adams announced it will be closed until further notice.
Berkshire Food Project: The Berkshire Food Project will remain open this week - but ONLY ON MONDAY, WEDNESDAY and FRIDAY (During its typical lunch hour, 12-1). We will have two meals prepared each of these days - so you will still be able to access a meal for Tuesday and Thursday, just the day BEFORE. Meals will be picked up for to go only - from the Breezeway. There will be no entering the building. Unsure of the status and acquiring food in the next few weeks, the Berkshire Food Project would greatly appreciate donations of gift cards to food establishments or markets, to potentially distribute in the near future. A great way to support the local economy and community.
Community Bible Church of Williamstown-Open this Wednesday, March 18th, 12:00-2:00. If there are emergency food needs call the church office at 458-5556 or Phyllis Babcock at 413-663-6094.
This is a great time to support Feed It Forward at A-Ok and the Free Taco Board at Tres Ninos!
The FoodBank of Western MA Mobile Food Pantries are STILL RUNNING. Same days, time and locations in North Berkshire at this point. If any changes occur I will be sure to send an email.
Free Saturday Lunches at First Baptist Church, North Adams WILL RESUME as take out only on SAT. MARCH 28 , 11:00am-12:30pm.
Meals on Wheels is still running.
Salvation Army Food Pantry, Tuesdays, 12:30-3pm. Please meet at front door to receive food.
Harper Center will continue to provide life support transportation options with the van-medical trips and food shopping fall into this category.

The Baker-Polito Administration continues to take steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. A comprehensive list of emergency orders and guidance is available here.
School Closures:
The SEOC is aware, via reports from local officials and the media, of approximately 178 school districts with at least one school closure as of today (3/16). Governor Baker has ordered a 3-week suspension of school operations for educational purposes at all public and private elementary and secondary (K-12) schools in the Commonwealth (not including residential and day schools for special needs students), beginning Tuesday, March 17 and continuing until Monday, April 6. The suspension of educational programming would not necessarily affect the availability of school buildings for the provision of food or other essential non-educational services. Full text of the order.
Gatherings and Restaurants:
Governor Baker has issued an emergency order limiting gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibiting on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants, beginning Tuesday, March 17 and effective until Monday, April 6. Full text of the order.
State Office Closures:
Governor Baker directed that all non-emergency Executive Branch employees should not report to their workplace today or Tuesday, March 17th. During this period, the administration will work to expand alternative work arrangements for the executive branch workforce and further develop plans to continue to provide essential state government services.
Trial Court Closures:
Court leaders have closed the Trial Courts to for today and tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17th. Additional information is available here.

Health Care:
MDPH has issued the following guidance:
All commercial insurers, self-insured plans, and the Group Insurance Commission are required to cover medically necessary telehealth services related to COVID-19 testing and treatment. Insurers must do this without requiring cost-sharing of any kind – such as co-pays and coinsurance – for testing and treatment. Full text of the order.
All assisted living residences are to restrict visitors to protect the health of residents and staff. Full text of the order.
All hospitals are to restrict visitors. Full text of the order.
Hospitals must cancel non-essential elective procedures. Full text of the order.
Licensed pharmacies may compound and sell hand sanitizer over the counter. Full text of the order.
The Board of Registration in Nursing has updated its policies to expedite the processing of reciprocal license applications for nurses licensed in another jurisdiction to allow those applications to be processed in one business day. Full text of the policy.
Utility Shutoff Moratorium:
The Department of Public Utilities has implemented a moratorium on gas/electric utility shutoffs until further notice. More information is available here.
Registry of Motor Vehicles:
The Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) will extend the renewal timeline of certain credentials to reduce the need for customers to physically visit an RMV service center for in-person transactions. Full text of the order.
Unemployment Assistance:
The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) and the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), in coordination with the US Department of Labor (USDOL), are taking a series of actions to assist workers and employers.
For current unemployment claims:
All requirements regarding attending seminars at the MassHire career centers have been suspended.
Missing deadlines due to effects of COVID-19 will be excused under DUA’s good cause provision.
All appeal hearings will be held by telephone only.
The DOL issued guidance to the states instructing state agencies to apply existing law flexibly. Under the DOL guidance, DUA may now pay unemployment benefits if a worker is quarantined due to an order by a civil authority or medical professional or leaves employment due to reasonable risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member and does not intend to or is not allowed to return to work. The worker need not provide medical documentation and need only be available for work when and as able.
To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the administration is filing emergency legislation that will allow new claims to be paid more quickly by waiving the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
EOLWD and DUA are also filing emergency regulations that will allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. The following conditions apply:
Workers must remain in contact with their employer during the shutdown.
Workers must be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do.
An employer may request to extend the period of the covered shut-down to eight weeks, and workers will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods for workers and employers.
Employers who are impacted by COVID-19 may request up to a 60-day grace period to file quarterly reports and pay contributions.
Pending federal legislation proposes further relief including additional money for unemployment benefits, and relief to employers for charges related to unemployment benefits paid due to COVID-19.
Municipal Governance:
Governor Baker proposed a package of legislation to help address challenges to municipal governance resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, including potential delays in holding Town Meetings and adopting Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) municipal budgets. Provisions include:
Amend existing statute authorizing Moderators to postpone Town Meetings by thirty days. State statute currently permits postponement for “public safety emergency,” and the legislation would add “public health emergency” as a second reason for postponement.
Permit local Select Boards to postpone Town Meetings beyond the statutory June 30 deadline when the Governor has declared a state of emergency and conditions prevent the completion of a Town Meeting.
Permit local Select Boards to temporarily adopt lower quorum rules. This would be an opt-in provision to allow a town-by-town determination, and it would enable Select Boards to designate the quorum level. Numerous towns have existing low quorum provisions in their by-laws.
Permit continued month-to-month spending into FY21 by towns based on the prior fiscal year budget with approval of the Division of Local Services during states of emergency. The month-to-month authorization would continue so long as a state of emergency prevents the adoption of a budget. Cities have similar authority under existing state law.
Permit towns to access their free cash balance for FY21 spending with approval of the Division of Local Services. This would be based on the July 2019 certified balance and could continue until an FY21 budget is adopted.
Permit municipal spending from revolving funds at the level set by their Fiscal Year 2020 appropriation until an FY21 budget is adopted.
Authorize a three-year amortization period for deficit spending incurred as a result of COVID-19 crisis. The default rule would require an FY21 tax rate to provide for one-year amortization and this change would follow the 2015 precedent for snow removal costs.
“No Sail” Order for Cruise Ship Operations:
The CDC has issued a 30 day 'No Sail' order for any cruise ship which has not voluntarily suspended operations. The Coast Guard will assist the CDC in preventing cruise ships from embarking passengers in US ports. The Port of Boston does not currently have any cruise ship arrivals scheduled until April 17th, though will identify any cruise ships or vessels carrying 250 or more persons (passengers and crew) with an overnight itinerary, planning to embark passengers.
MBTA Reduced Schedule:
Starting Tuesday, March 17, trains and buses will run with reduced service to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition, the MBTA has increased cleaning and sanitation at stations and on vehicles. Additional information is available at


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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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