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Interim Police Chief Troy Bacon, standing, introduces retired Sgt. Scott McWhirt, center, for appointment as a special police officer.

Adams Officials Seeking Safe Way to Celebrate Halloween

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Town Administrator Jay Green and interim Police Chief Troy Bacon talk about their ideas for holding Halloween. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Officials are considering ways the town's children will be able safely celebrate Halloween.
The state is expected to provide some guidance on trick or treating this week but going door to door is probably unlikely because of the novel coronavirus.
"We're not sure yet what's going to happen. Some other communities across the commonwealth have proscribed essentially door-to-door Halloween trick or treating," said Town Administrator Jay Green at Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting. "Both the chief and I were discussing it and we feel as though we need to do something for the community. We don't want them not to do anything because of the health pandemic."
Interim Police Chief Troy Bacon said an initial idea that came up in discussions with his staff was to invite the children to dress up and stand outside their homes and then go by precincts to deliver candy.
"We were collaborating together and trying to figure out how we can continue the tradition of trick or treating," he said. "Have .... something happy and positive go on in our community."
Green said he had been in contact with the town's health inspector, who expected the state Department of Public Health would be discussing the holiday during a weekly update.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellations of a number of holiday events, including Memorial Day observances, the Pittsfield Fourth of July Parade and the Fall Foliage Parade. Last week, Pittsfield also canceled its annual Halloween parade. 
There is the idea of taking donations from residents and businesses to provide the candy or bags of goodies, Green said, since households would normally purchase those anyways, and then bag them and then have town employees give them out locally.
"We've already had quite a few town employees that [said] 'count me in,' already willing to come up and assist," he said, adding the town has already has some donations lined up.
Chairwoman Christine Hoyt said there did seem to be support in the business community for this initiative but wondered how the Board of Selectmen felt about it.
"This is probably our last meeting in the month of September, I just thought it was timely to at least start having a conversation about if this is a path to go down, you know, giving the chief our blessing so to speak, to move forward to present a more detailed plan, because this is definitely different," she said. "And I appreciate his willingness to take this on board."
Green said any plan they came up with would be run by the Board of Health "to make sure it's done correctly, safely. We want to make a positive experience that night."
Selectman John Duval said it was refreshing to see some innovation happening rather than simply saying nothing can be done. Selectman Joseph Nowak thought this was an example of how the community has come together in the past to help its children. 
Bacon and Green were asked to continue discussions with code enforcement to further develop a plan and bring it back to the Selectmen. 
Bacon also brought forward a not-so-new special officer appointment in Sgt. Scott McWhirt, who retired in May after 34 years on the force and 22 as sergeant. He also spent 25 years as program director of the Police Athletic League and also helped implement the force's bicycle unit and Field Training Officer Program.
The police chief, who started in July, said McWhirt had indicated his interest in becoming a special officer a couple weeks ago. In that post, he would do desk, security and traffic details as needed by the department. He was appointed by the board as special police officer, grade five, at step one at $16.97 cents per hour.
"Strange times prevented us from gathering and celebrating your service to the department and your retirement," said Hoyt. "We thank you for all that you have done and that you have stepped forward to continue to help the Police Department."
The board also took some time to address their missing colleague, James Bush, who died Sept. 9. 
"Although he was attending by Zoom, so I kind of was waiting for him to call in tonight," Hoyt said. "But I'm also sitting here with a hole in my heart
mourning the loss of Jim. He was a fantastic colleague, dedicated to service, dedicated to our community, and dedicated to his family."
She said Bush had taught her a lot about service and community and how she had heard from so many people he had touched. His last words with her were to ask her to communicate to people his strength and that he was doing OK. "It's hard to sit at this table not having him here with his big heart, his sense of humor," she continued. 
Duval said he got to know Bush during their run for selectmen in 2018. "He says, we're going to work together, put his arm around me and he seemed like he was the the elder statesman," he said.  "I'm going to miss those conversations. ...
"I've been doing politics for a long time here and he inspired me with his community service with the projects he took on. To citizens' concerns, every phone call he received there was action, whether the response was what you wanted to hear or not, he got you an answer."
Nowak, too, reiterated Bush's dedication to family and community but also found inspiration in his strong faith. 
"The most important thing to me is that Jim was dedicated to the Lord with his religion, and he now is in the hands of the Lord. I believe he advocated for, and because of the type of person that he was, that the gates will be open and will be in Heaven," he said.
Green, who is also involved in the Berkshire Scenic Railway, remembered Bush for his volunteerism with the railway and how he always showed up looking sharp in his uniform. What others sometimes found a burden — playing Santa Claus every weekend from Thanksgiving through Christmas — Bush was eager to take on.
"Jim would sign up very early on and portrayed Santa every Sunday for that operation," Green said. "And some of my fondest memories are of Jim Sunday morning portraying Santa at another venue here in town and immediately going from that venue to the Berkshire Scenic Railway without hesitation."
In other business, the board heard from Town Clerk Haley Meczywor about mail-in voting for the November election and appointed Adele Hale as tenant board member of the Adams Housing Authority on the recommendation of Executive Director Patricia Volpi.
The board, acting as the Licensing Commission, also held a public hearing on the transfer of an all-alcohol license for O'Geary's Package Store at 60 Commercial St. to new owners Aneeliquor Inc., with principals Sureshkumar Patel and Priyankaben Patel. The Patels also own the Spirit Shop in Williamstown and the assistant manager of that store will shift to Adams, said their attorney Matthew Porter. They also own Ed's Package Store in North Adams.
There were no comments during the public hearing and the board (Richard Blanchard was absent) voted to approve the transfer of the license and the pledge of license as collateral for Bank of Hope, which is financing the transaction. Town Counsel Edmund St. John III said this was not unusual. 

Tags: license board,   alcohol license,   Halloween,   

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Adams Board of Health Accepts Town Halloween Plan

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Health officially endorsed the town's Halloween plans but urged residents to remain vigilant over the holiday weekend.
"I was thrilled to hear that a very robust plan because as you know having kids trick or treat is high-risk behavior," Chairman David Rhoads said last week before the unanimous vote. "...This is a super alternative."
The town will utilize Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Public Works and Forest Warden vehicles to deliver candy to kids instead of the traditional door-to-door trick-or-treat that is considered a high-risk activity in regard to the possible transmission of COVID-19.
Gloved and masked town employees will hand out candy as they drive through each precinct. 
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