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Adams' COVID-19 Numbers Remain Low

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health had no new news Wednesday in regard to the COVID-19 pandemic. Which may be good news. 
"It seems like this info is getting redundant and we all know what is going on," Chairman Peter Hoyt said at the end of the board's virtual meeting. 
He said there are just more than 30 cases in Adams and board member David Rhoads said he thought active cases were in the single digits. 
"I think the big thing is that the numbers are going down which is good," Rhoads said. 
Hoyt said the COVID-19 Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC) set up by the state as a containment strategy has not had to enter Adams because the cases are manageable.
"Unless there is a big uptick, I think it will be the status quo," Hoyt said. 
Rhoads said he was a little concerned that the town had yet to receive CARES Act funding. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was passed to provide some $2 trillion in financial support to individuals, communities and businesses. 
"I just want to make sure we capture our amount and there are public health dollars in the act so we can maintain," he said. "I will let you know whenever I hear."
Hoyt said Code Enforcement Officer Mark Blaisdell wanted to hold an emergency meeting to appoint the Police Department to assist in the enforcement of the new face mask regulations but thought it might be too soon for that.
"I don't think that at this point it is warranted to have a meeting to discuss that until we have more information," he said.
Gov. Charlie Baker signed an order requiring people to wear a face covering when they can't keep more than 6 feet away from others, particularly inside stores, with some exceptions for medical issues and children.
The board members spent much of the meeting in a public hearing and after sorting out one case with a Richmond Lane property owner and rescheduling another hearing with a Murray Avenue property owner they moved on to their new draft tobacco regulations.
"I just wanted to see if we could go through with your suggestions to see if we could come to a consensus," Hoyt said.
Over the last year the board have been crafting a new regulation that would cap the number of establishments in town that can sell tobacco products.
Hoyt said the town counsel had approved the draft's language so many of the board's amendments were small language tweaks for clarity.
One point of discussion was which organization to appoint to provide tobacco awareness accreditation. Rhoads said he preferred to only allow Tri-Town Health's Tobacco Awareness Program (TAP) to certify store clerks.
"I really feel strongly we should specify one certification program and ... keeping things within our own box," he said. "I think it works for us."
The rest of the board felt more comfortable allowing any credible state-approved organization to administer the test instead of only one specific group. Hoyt said he thought only allowing TAP would be too limiting. 
"Who knows five years from now there may be a different certification from a different entity," he said. "If it is not listed here it would not count." 
Rhoads said he did not think it would be a big deal to have all stores, even chains with their own internal certification process, have employees take a specific course. He said it would only take a few hours every two years and would be uniform throughout the town.
Town Administrator Jay Green chimed in and said although Tri-Town does great work, if it were to dissolve or become defunded, that would leave the town in an odd position.
"From a procedural perspective, you may want to keep your options open," he said.
Rhoads didn't accept this reasoning and felt the town would have plenty of time to react if Tri-Town were on its way out. 
He was willing to compromise and allow for other organizations but only if they meet the "robust" standards of Tr-town and filed with them.
Hoyt said although Tri-Town is great, the town should not limit itself to organizations that may serve the same purpose even if they aren't as prestigious as TAP.
"That program does a great job and is high quality. It is the Harvard of tobacco," Hoyt said. "But I think it's fine if it meets certification standards. I think we can deal with someone that is not from Harvard."
The board agreed to craft some variations on the language and take up the issue at its next meeting.
The other point that caused the board pause was the fine structure for illegal sales. The board felt that the apparent state fines were too intense.
Rhoads read that "whoever infarcts" will first be fined $1,000. The second fine would be $2,000 and the third $5,000.
"It doesn't matter if you are a 17-year-old kid behind the counter," he said. "I think we should look at this. I don't know if there is any wiggle room because I don't think we can impose less."
He said this may be a question for town counsel.

Tags: BOH,   COVID-19,   tobacco regulations,   

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Veterans Make Memorial Day Trek to War Memorial

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff

Retired Navy Petty Officer Cindy Lacoste speaks at Sunday's Memorial Day observance.
ADAMS, Mass. — North County American Legion members made their way to the summit of Mount Greylock early on Sunday morning for their 89th pilgrimage to the state's War Memorial.
Speaker Cindy Lacoste, a retired petty officer with 22 years serving in the Navy and current member of the Department of Massachusetts Executive Committee of Women of the American Legion, spoke and recalled memories of fallen veterans.
"Memorial Day brings up so many memories to me, and I'm sure it does to you," she said. "But in 2003, I was deployed to the Middle East not knowing if I was going to make it back home. So the fact that I did, obviously, I'm forever grateful, and I want to make sure that I never forget the stories of those that didn't come back."
She recalled the story of a young soldier, Cindy Bowden, who was a freshman attending the University of Connecticut during the Gulf War.
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