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Cariddi's Gifts to North Adams Increase; Library Receives Brooks Trust

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Paul Hopkins is sworn in for a second term as council president.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The beneficence of the late state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi continues to flow to her hometown.
Mayor Thomas Bernard on Tuesday informed the City Council that the final settlement of Cariddi's will had meant another $91,651 gift to the public library for a total of $266,651.56.
Cariddi, who died at age 63 in 2017, named the library as a beneficiary under an insurance policy and left cash benefits in her will. The first amount was $175,000, in addition to several smaller amounts including a $7,500 gift toward establishing an astronomy program there.
A second gift was for the upkeep and maintenance of the future bike path. The original amount was a $210,000 distribution and now a additional $109,276.86 has been added for a total of $319,276.86
"This is another remarkable act of generosity and an act of love and support for this community from Representative Cariddi so again I want to extend my thanks to her, her family, her friends and her loved ones for this generosity of the city," the mayor said. 
Cariddi was a longtime city councilor before being elected to the state House of Representatives in 2010. 
This information came after the council voted to accept another gift of $40,000 for the library from the estate of John "Jack" and Joyce Brooks. The couple, who died last February, also left a $40,000 trust to their alma mater, Drury High School. 
The library gift, which may include additional distributions once the estate is settled, come with no restrictions for the library's use. The Drury gift is to be put toward science educational needs. 
"I think many of us in the community knew Jack and Joyce Brooks and knew what special people they were and how much they loved the community of North Adams and how much they gave really generously to the city of their time and their talent," said the mayor.  "It didn't surprise me but it was, it was something really truly touching and something that speaks to the people that they were."
City Councilor Jason LaForest said the couple were loving and caring people. 
"So these gifts to the library and to the high school certainly reflect the as the mayor said their, their care and compassion and concern for the city of North Adams," he said. 
The council also reorganized, with Paul Hopkins and LaForest being re-elected as president and vice president, respectively. The council also adopted the rules of order as established last year without change. 
Normally the council members would draw for seats but since meetings have been conducted virtually because of the pandemic, it will be done once the council can meet in chambers again. 
Both Hopkins and LaForest attended in person to be sworn in by City Clerk Deborah Pedercini, who initially presided over the meeting. 
"I'd just like to take a moment to reflect on the past year and the many challenges that we've endured as a community," Pedercini said. "We've all made sacrifices and the opportunity to socialize presented challenges that we've overcome, tightened relationships between people and gave an opportunity to rise to the occasion. ...
"This new year is an opportunity to reflect on our lives, to understand what and who are important. And what we really value. I'm confident with our communities leadership, 2021, we'll see a much brighter future."
In other business, the council:
The council approved the annual bonding of the treasurer/tax collector at $250,000; the assistant city treasurer for $62,500; and the city clerk for $15,000.
Affirmed the appointment of Kate Merrigan, former city councilor, to the North Adams Housing Authority. 
Was informed by the mayor of the swearing in of full-time firefighter Charllee Sanchez-Rio and part-time Police Officer. Khalil Paul, as well as the promotion of Police Officer Christopher Gelinas to sergeant.
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State Education Board Approves Push for In-School Learning

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley explains the reasoning for getting students back in classrooms and off remote learning. 
BOSTON — Schools across the state are being ordered to resume in-classroom instruction as soon as possible, beginning with elementary grades on April 5. 
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-3 on Friday afternoon to accord DESE Commissioner Jeffrey Riley authority to change requirements for learning time that would not include remote learning.
Families would still have the ability to remain remote for the rest of this school year and some schools may be able to get waivers, but the state would have the ability to hold back Chapter 70 education funds for schools out of compliance. 
The vote followed hours of testimony from medical professionals, educators and parents that veered from strongly encouraging the return to school as an important to students' health, well-being and educational needs to cautions that many schools did not have the ability to provide adequate spacing or COVID-19 precautions and calls for school employees to be vaccinated prior to any return. 
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