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Pittsfield Council to Meet Remotely Through July

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council does not plan to meet in person until August.
 
At the end of Tuesday night's virtual meeting, City Council President Peter Marchetti said he plans to hold all meetings remotely until August.
 
"We are trying to keep up with the executive order of the governor and make everything work," he said. "Meeting remotely and giving people access ... I think is the only legal way we can do things."
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell asked why wait until August when City Hall is slated to open back up to the public on July 20.
 
"Why are we waiting?" he said. "We are going to be past Phase 3 and Phase 4 by then so I would have thought a July meeting would have been held in the council chambers."
 
The state is following a four-phase plan for reopening from the novel coronavirus pandemic and is currently in step two of Phase 2 with limited retail and personal service openings. 
 
The way the calendar shakes out, the council is only scheduled to meet on July 14, Marchetti said. This would be before the scheduled reopening of City Hall.
 
Connell asked more specific questions about why city councilors were not allowed in City Hall even with masks but Marchetti said he would speak with him after the meeting because the item was not on the agenda.
 
The rest of the meeting went by at a steady clip and the council's first order of business was to appoint Daniel Shearer as the new airport manager.
 
"Congratulations Mr. Shearer and welcome," Marchetti said.
 
The position has been filled by the assistant airport manager since Gloria Bouillon left the position in 2018.
 
Shearer is a Plainfield resident with a bachelor's degree in air transportation and aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a master's in safety, security and emergency management from Eastern Kentucky University. 
 
He holds a number of qualifications and certificates and had most recently been director of emergency response at Hyannis Air Service. He has also worked for air transport companies in Alaska and Florida in safety and security, flight coordination, and information technology administration. 
 
The City Council also appointed Thomas Hardy to the Airport Commission and reappointed Marilyn Gerhard, Joseph Collins, and Mary Beth Eldridge to the Pittsfield Cultural Council. 
 
In other business, the council:
 
Accepted a $10,000 grant from the Lake Onota Preservation Association. This gift will support invasive aquatic plant control at Onota Lake.
 
• Accepted a $95,515 grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for the city to serve as host community for the Municipal Assistance Coordinator (MAC). This coordinator will provide technical assistance to the Western Massachusetts region.
 
This grant represents an extension of a three-year commitment for this MAC position.
 
• Accepted a donation of $60,000 from the Housatonic Valley Association for the Churchill Brook Culvert Replacement Project over Churchill Street.
 
Ten thousand dollars of this is to be used for the acquisition of all necessary easements and up to $50,000 of the amount is to be used as contingency funding for the project.
 
• Accepted two more orders from the mayor related to the Churchill Street Culvert Replacement Project: The acceptance of a permanent easement at 0 Churchhill St. in exchange for $370 to the property owner and a temporary easement in the same area in exchange for $20.
 
• Accepted a $92,531 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs for the FY20 Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program Grant for the Police Department.
 
Referred a citizen's petition to the commissioner on public services and utilities requesting the city to double or triple funding for tree cutting and trimming. The council also referred a sewer and drains ordinance amendment back to the commissioner for further work.
 
The Ordinance and Rules subcommittee agreed earlier this month to not strike a provision in the ordinance that would eliminate City Council approval of fee changes and regular reporting to the council.
 
Ricardo Morales, commissioner on public services and utilities said he would like to continue working on the ordinance and will bring a revised draft before the council at a future meeting.
 
• Accepted the committee reports from recent budget hearings.
 
The council's last action of the night was to refer a petition to the commissioner, the Public Works subcommittee, and the Police Department to explore and implement safety and traffic calming measures to improve the intersection of Lakeway Drive and Valentine Road.
 

Tags: pittsfield airport,   

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DA's Office, Pittsfield Schools Collaborate on Early Intervention Grant

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Brooke Bridges, founder of Building Bridges SEL, explains how the program works. 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A collaboration of the Berkshire District attorney's office and the Pittsfield Public Schools is using $25,000 in seed money in hopes of growing a sustainable program for social emotional learning in the schools. 
 
The program, Tuned Transitions, is being funded through a grant from the state Department of Probation and will be implemented in the Conte and Morningside community schools for Grades 2 through 5. The curriculum was developed by Brooke Bridges, founder of Building Bridges SEL, a mental health advocacy and coaching organization.
 
"I have to say, as a parent, I understand how much the closing of schools and the switch to virtual learning has impacted children," said District Attorney Andrea Harrington at a press conference at Conte School on Wednesday. "And the disparity between children who are able to live in a safe home, children who are able to have access to education, and those who do not during the pandemic is going to be the social justice issues of our time."
 
Bridges will be the facilitator for the program, which will use personal storytelling as the focus to aid children in working through their experiences and challenges. Her business was inspired by her overcoming her own mental and social challenges as a child actor in Los Angeles. The program is evidence-based and is based off the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning, or CASEL, program used in schools. 
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