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Berkshire Mountain Rescue's Michael Comeau takes the wheel on Wednesday of the volunteer rescue group's new UTV with members of Lenco Armored Vehicle. Lenco donated the vehicle and a trailer to the rescue group.
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The back of the vehicle is set up to receive a stretcher with room for a medic to sit next to the patient.

Lenco Donates Rescue Vehicle to Berkshire Rescue Team

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Lenco Vice President Lenny Light, left, BMSAR President Michael Comeau and Lenco design engineer Brian Sears, a BMSAR volunteer. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Lenco Armored Vehicles has donated a $20,000 utility terrain rescue vehicle to the volunteer Berkshire Mountain Search and Rescue team after reading of their fundraising efforts on

Team President Michael Comeau said the Polaris UTV will be a huge game-changer for BMSAR, as it will drastically increase the efficiency and the response time to extricate a person from wooded or mountainous terrain and get them to safety.

"All of the team is saying the same thing: 'This is going to so much increase our capabilities for getting to someone, getting equipment to scenes, getting a patient out of the woods or wherever they're in danger," he said.

"And so the membership was really excited to have this."

The four-wheel-drive vehicle features two rows of seats to fit the team members and has an insert in the back that secures a stretcher with a seat for a medic next to it. It also has a light bar for increased visibility and a hook in the front of the vehicle for towing in cases of heavy terrain.

Lenco's Vice President Lenny Light said the donation was just meant to be.  

Comeau spoke to iBerkshires in June about the organization's venture to raise $14,000 for a utility terrain rescue vehicle that is vital to their operations.  

Within the day of the story being posted, multiple employees within Lenco had pitched the idea to make the donation to BMSAR.

"[Justin Burdick] who's our marketing manager saw this article, sent it to me and said, 'hey we should consider supporting these guys, they're search and rescue, we do search and rescue equipment,' I said 'all right, maybe I said let's stay focused on what we're working on and we'll give it some thought internally,'" Light said.

"And then like 30 minutes later, I get a text message from my mom, who is one of our owners, and our CFO and she said, 'Hey, Tammy,' who's my sister who also works here, 'Tammy sent me this article and said that we should buy this thing, what do you guys think?' And so it was all of us family members that work here and everyone was like 'Yes, we should do this.'"

Light added that it worked out perfectly because the team supports the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office, as Lenco does, and one of the company's design engineers, Brian Sears, is a BMSAR volunteer.

He said the company saw it as a no-brainer.

Light called Comeau and said they would be happy to bring the fundraising efforts to a "speedy conclusion" and provide the team with what it needed. Lenco included a trailer and some other details on the vehicle that amounted to $20,000.

Comeau could not have been more thankful. He said he almost fell over when he got the news.

Because the team didn't previously have a UTV of its own, members relied on the sheriff's office's equipment.

The team is made up of volunteers, including firefighters, emergency medical technicians, outdoorsmen and women, and active and retired law enforcement. It is one of only two volunteer search and rescue teams in the state attached to the state police's Special Response Team. 

Having been involved with fundraising before, Light said he knows how long it usually takes to raise $20,000 and was happy that his company was able to assist BMSAR.

"This is going to be a real difference-maker for them," he added.

Light said Lenco values being charitable and it was a plus to support a local group that uses the types of products they offer and depends on the equipment for their work.

Tags: donations,   search & rescue,   

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Pittsfield Picks Veteran Employees as ARPA Fund Managers

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two familiar faces will be serving as the city's special projects managers for the $41 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer and former Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong will share the one full-time position as co-managers.

Mayor Linda Tyer on Monday informed the City Council by email that Ruffer would be resigning from her current post in early to mid-February to take on this new role.

Rather than a resignation, Ruffer sees this as a transition. Armstrong resigned from her position in September, citing a need for more balance in her life and to spend more time with her family.

In the fall, the special projects manager position was created to oversee the city's allocation of ARPA funding. It will likely only be in place over the next five years, until the spending deadline in 2026, and will be paid in full through the ARPA funds.

"I am very excited to transition from the city's Community Development Director Position to co-special project manager for the City's American Rescue Plan program. This opportunity coincides with a personal desire to adjust my work-life balance to allow me to spend more time with family and pursuing personal interests," Ruffer wrote to iBerkshires in an email.

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