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North Adams Keeping Eye on Coronavirus Spread

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases but not enough to implement drastic actions being initiated by Pittsfield. 
"We're looking at the uptick here, which is modest comparatively, but we want to just really keep the keep our eyes open on all of this," said Mayor Thomas Bernard on Thursday. "We're going to stay with the operations as they stand. Our numbers are low enough."
Pittsfield, the county's largest community, has moved all schools to remote and suspended table service at restaurants. The Health Department has issued orders that all venues return to Step 1 of the state's Phase 3 reopening, which means reduced capacity for indoor and outdoor gatherings. 
North Adams has remained in the lowest category with eight new cases in the past two weeks and six in the to weeks prior to that for a total of 75 to date. In contrast, the county logged 159 new cases in the past two weeks, the bulk of those in Pittsfield. 
"The businesses are doing, by and large, a very good job with with compliance," Bernard said, adding officials have been "hypervigilant" for six months and were now the next level, whatever that would be called. "I think part of the problem with what happened in Pittsfield was these parties that happened."
Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer has said a large part of the outbreaks have been traced back to recent parties, including two at local restaurants. A staff member at Reid Middle School as well as a student at Pittsfield High School tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 
North Adams had a confirmed case of COVID-19 at Drury High School this week and moved all Grade 7 and 8 students to remote learing until Thursday, Nov. 19. Hoosac Valley Regional School District also reported a case but it did not affect the school. Adams and Cheshire have both had fewer than five cases in the last two weeks. 
Bernard said the North County COVID-19 operations center, made up of local officials and public health personnel, had a confrence call on Thursday morning. He said one of the things they are nervous about is that if people can't dine in in Pittsfield they may head north. 
"I don't want to be unwelcoming or inhospitable, I don't want to put even more burden on our restaurants than already exists for so many of them," he said. "But at the same time, I really hope that the support they see is primarily from people right here in our community."
The mayor had expressed his concern at Tuesday's City Council meeting over rising cases in the county and gatherings at the city's outdoor venues. 
"One area of particular concern for me and I know it's a concern for for several members of the council and members of the community, especially this past weekend with the unseasonably nice weather with the skate park. We saw large crowds and limited compliance," he said. "I saw it for myself, the Police Department made several visits. But with our young people, the focus really is especially on encouragement rather than draconian enforcement."
He made a "pitch for personal responsibility" and asked everyone to continue wearing masks and social distancing to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

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North Adams Tree Commission Taking Over Free Tree Initiative

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Tree Commission is being revitalized to continue the work of the tree initiative that saw more than 400 new plantings throughout the city.
The commission's been dormant for some years but Mayor Thomas Bernard recently appointed Kevin Boisjolie, Danelle Galietti, Mitchell Keil, Dianne Olsen and Francesca Olsen. Three more members required to fill out the eight-person board that met for the first time last Tuesday.
"The intended purpose of the Tree Commission will include continued public tree planting and maintenance in North Adams, in order to keep our city green," explained Sue White, the current tree coordinator with Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. "The commission will be responsible for the supervision care maintenance, preservation, and removal of ornamental and shade trees, shrubs, and plants within the city."
White, who will be leaving NBCC in August, stepped into the role of coordinator upon the departure of Bret Beattie. He had been instrumental in the volunteer tree-planting project, an initiative of the Franklin Land Trust and funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service.
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