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The Board of Health had hoped the state Department of Health would participate in a hearing about EMF health concerns.

Pittsfield Health Board Sets Cell Tower Forum Without DPH Aid

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Local health officials are "disappointed" with the state Department of Health for backing out of an investigation of health concerns related to a Verizon cell tower at 877 South St.

On Wednesday, the Board of Health approved an alternative action plan to procure a firm that specializes in the measurement of radio frequency radiation to determine if the tower is in compliance with 47 CFR 1.1310 — or federal radio frequency radiation exposure limits — and will be advocating for the affected neighborhood to Gov. Charlie Baker and the Legislature.  
 
The Environmental Toxicology Program at Mass DPH offered its assistance in listening to residents' concerns after the Board of Health said it doesn't have the expertise to investigate on its own. Mass DPH has since broken the agreement, according to board members.
 
"We were incredibly disappointed with the lack of options that the Massachusetts Department of Health could provide for the neighborhood and for the Health Department and the Board of Health in this situation," Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong said.
 
"We want to assure the community that although Mass DPH is not going to be one of the presenters, that we will pursue that information session because we do feel that it is very important to learn more about the research that has been done nationally, and as well as other areas as referenced by some of our experts here tonight."
 
The board will hold the information session at its meeting on June 2. It will either be the only item on the agenda or one of two items, as the members feel it is important to assign a good amount of time to the neighborhood's concerns.
 
In February, the City Council voted to have the Health Department investigate health concerns related to the tower. This petition was brought forward by Ward 4 Councilor Chris Connell and Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey, whose wards are in proximity to the tower.
 
The council had been hearing of these symptoms primarily from Alma Street resident Courtney Gilardi every two weeks during public comment since the tower was turned on in August. Gilardi said she and her family will move if the tower is not turned off.
 
Gilardi also has had her 12-year-old daughter Amelia call into the meetings to speak about the symptoms she is experiencing such as nausea and sleep disturbances.
 
Armstrong said the information the BOH has gathered from residents and the health impact they believe is related to the cell tower emissions can be included in the letter of support that the board plans to send to state legislators, the governor's office, and Mass DPH.
 
This letter supports Senate Bill 2418 and requests the formation of a special commission to research the impact of EMF and radio frequency radiation on consumer protection, public health, and technology in the commonwealth.
 
Board member Brad Gordon said he doesn't want to give folks "false hope" that the board or city has the authority to get the tower shut off, as it can only be referred to the Federal Communications Commission for action if the emissions are above federal guidelines.
 
"I think I just think it will be difficult for us as a local municipality, or even a state necessary to address that," he said. "That doesn't mean that we shouldn't bring it to everyone's attention and that we shouldn't learn that we shouldn't work together to see what changes we can make through advocacy."
 
Board member Kimberly Loring identified two connected issues within this situation: the fact that the tower is federally regulated and the possibility of this happening again.
 
"How do we prevent this from happening again, adjust zoning or permitting or so that there's an appropriate setback or education for the community and things like that?" she queried.
 
"I feel like there's the future thing, and then there's the thing that's happening right now."
 
In other business, the board unanimously voted to request that the City Council reconsider its opposition to the city's mosquito spraying program and offer a presentation from Berkshire County Mosquito Control Project Superintendant Chris Horton for the purposes of education.

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Big Y Hiring Spree

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — On Tuesday June 29, Big Y will hold their first ever company wide "monstrous hiring" event at over 75 locations across Massachusetts and Connecticut. 
 
According to a press release, Big Y are simplifying their application process. Every store plus the distribution center will hold interviews and hiring managers will be able to make on-the-spot job offers on June 28 from 3-8 PM
 
"A future at Big Y means more than stocking shelves. It is an opportunity for personal leadership and growth, an opportunity to belong and contribute to your own vibrant future and an opportunity to connect with others and be part of a community that cares," said Michael J. Galat, vice president of employee services. "We stand committed to making a real difference where employees are celebrated for who they are and have a chance to share their ideas and be respected, valued and heard."
 
Currently, there are openings at all Big Y supermarkets, Big Y Gas and Convenience Stores, Table & Vine Fine Wines and Spirits, and Big Y's Fresh and Local Distribution Center.
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