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North Adams Has Openings on City Boards, Commissions

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Anyone interested in serving on a governmental committee or board can find out about vacancies and make out an application to serve through the city's website.
City Councilor Marie T. Harpin has been advocating for some time to encourage new board members. 
"I believe it was almost two years ago I had asked the mayor if there was a way that we could communicate to the public to let them know what was available on our boards and our commissions," she said Tuesday's meeting. "So people that are interested know exactly what boards are available and when they're available."
The conversation came up with the confirmation of reappointments to boards and commissions: Dean Bullett to the Airport Commission, for a term to expire March 1, 2024; Rebecca Choquette to the Human Services Commission, for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2024; Jason Moran to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art Cultural Development Commission, for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2024; and Kyle Hanlon and Brian Miksic to the Planning Board, with terms to expire Feb. 1, 2026.
"There's some appointments in here that are fairly new people that haven't been on boards for quite some time, but there are a few on here that have had people on for decades and it's a concern that I have voiced," Harpin said, adding she's faced criticism for speaking on the issue. 
She said she was pleased to see the update on the city's new website for boards and commissions.
Mayor Thomas Bernard said it took time to get the page done and that it was a method that he took seriously and knew the councilors did as well. 
Resident Bryan Sapienza, speaking during open forum, noted that anyone could send a communication to the mayor's office expressing interest in serving. 
 "That's how I got onto the public Arts Commission," he said. "I just let the people involved know that I was interested in willing to serve and I think anybody in the city that's willing to serve could do the same thing."
The listing of boards and openings shows that there are vacancies on the Conservation Commission, Council on Aging, Human Services Commission, Mass MoCA Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Board, Public Arts Commission, Redevelopment Authority, Traffic Commission, the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals. 
Both the Tree Commission and the Youth Commission have no members.
The mayor said residents could call or email his office or make out the application on the website.
"We want you to put your name forward, we want you to look at the boards and commissions that are available," he said. "And blend the experience of people who have done this work for a long while with new voices, new perspectives that reflect our community and give people a chance to participate."
In other business during the brief meeting, the council approved an order to install a "slow, children at play" signs at the intersections of Autumn Drive and Route 2 and Autumn and Birchwood Terrace and a 25 mph speed limit sign at Autumn and Birchwood.
Council President Paul Hopkins also presented the committee assignments for the year. 

Tags: board vacancies,   

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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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