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Pittsfield Receives CARES Act Funding

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council last week accepted $900,000.00 from the state through the CARES Act to be used for COVID-19 pandemic related expenses.
This is the first installment of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security ACT funding and the council voted Tuesday to officially accept it.
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood told the council that it will be placed in a special revenues account with the Federal Emergency Management Agency funding and will be used for COVID-19 related purchases as the city reopens.
"As we go forward and reopen we will have to purchase window shields, more [personal protective equipment], and other kinds of supplies," he said. "We will use CARES Act money for those purchases."
He said with the current state guidance, purchases under the CARES Act is pretty broad and they will be distinguished from FEMA purchases.
The city is eligible for $3.7 million total but at the moment is only able to apply for funds in fiscal 2020. Guidance on to apply for funds in fiscal 2021 has not been provided yet.
Depending on how the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions, or HEROES, Act rolls out, there may be the possibility to use emergency funding in the budget. The $3 trillion emergency act was passed by the U.S. House in May but has not been taken up by the Senate.
"There is the possibility that it can be used for revenue replacement but we are not in that position yet. We don’t have permission," Kerwood said. "But we may be able to backfill a loss in state aid. We have to wait and see what happens." 
The City Council also accepted a $69,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration through the CARES Act. This grant will be used for airport operations and activities as a result of the novel coronavirus.
In other business, the council:
Accepted a list of donations that will be used to reopen the Tyler Street Lab. The Tyler Street Lab, which is currently housed at 730 Tyer St., will reopen in 741 Tyler in the fall after renovations.
At this time, The Chill Zone and The Gaming Lounge have committed to being a part of the center. They will work in conjunction with the city to jointly manage the lab for the next two years. 
Accepted a grant of $15,000 from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Department of Conservation and Recreation, a grant of $20,000.00 from Berkshire Bank, and a $9,978.79 grant from Goodwill of the Berkshires and Southern Vermont for the Tyler Street Lab.
Accepted a $48,189 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service for RSVP.
•  Accepted the transfer of $30,000.00 from the Unclassified budget to Worker's Compensation in order to fund the remaining fiscal year 2020 payments.
• Ratified the hiring of Nick Manns, Christopher Deinlein, and Joshua Kelly as firefighters.
"Thank you gentlemen and welcome aboard," City Council President Peter Marchetti said.
• Appointed Kathleen Amuso to the Licensing Board.

Tags: COVID-19,   

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Pittsfield to Test Sewage For COVID-19

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city will test sewage for COVID-19 at the wastewater treatment plant.
Mayor Linda Tyer announced in her weekly update Friday that the city will utilize a new method to monitor for the novel coronavirus: sewage testing. 
"Research indicates that sewage testing analyzes epidemiological trends. We will have an early warning by detecting the resurgence of the coronavirus in the city’s sewage," she said. "We will be able to anticipate and respond rapidly and effectively to any possible new outbreaks even before positive test cases are identified." 
She said the city is utilizing a Boston-based company called Biobot Analytics and have already conducted one of the two baseline tests.
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