Adams Picks Sarah Fontaine as New Council on Aging Director

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the appointment of the new Council on Aging Director Sarah Fontaine at its meeting on Wednesday.

Fontaine graduated from Westfield State College with a bachelor of arts in social work and is a Massachusetts-licensed social worker. Fontaine previously worked for the Dalton Council on Aging, serving as administrative assistant and acting director.

"I am confident that Sarah will add tremendous value to our Council on Aging team and become an invaluable resource for members of our community," said Chairman John Duval in a letter to the board endorsing Fontaine. Duval was not present for the board's Wednesday meeting. "And is prepared to manage the departments execute the vision the town has for our Council on Aging in senior centers and tackle any challenges that may lie ahead."

In an interview following her appointment by the board, Fontaine said she is looking forward to getting to work with the council as its new leader.

"Adams is kind of the gold standard for councils on aging around here," she said. "Barb [Proper] is an excellent outreach worker, and I really wanted to work with a good team that is going to really address the needs of the senior population here in Adams."

Town Administrator Jay Green said Fontaine excels in knowledge of elder services, communication and management, which is why they felt she was the best choice for the job. He said there were eight applications, five of which led to interviews, but Fontaine stood out from the rest of the candidates.

"It was a tough decision. But I think myself, Bruce Shepley and Crystal [Wojcik] all agree that Sarah excelled in the interview," he said. "And she was able to easily masters the three areas that we were looking for."

Shortly before applying for the director position, Fontaine attended a grant writing course as part of Berkshire Community College's Workforce Development program. She said she took the course as a form of professional development and thinks the experience will help her in her new role.

"Programs need money to run," she said. "Municipalities don't always have the money to support the programs."

Fontaine said she is excited about the council's upcoming move to the former Memorial School building.

"I'm really looking forward to helping design a dedicated space for the Council on Aging," she said. "It is a staff of three full-time workers, the director, the outreach worker, the administrative assistant, part-time van drivers. And then, we rely heavily on volunteers. So it's kind of all hands on deck when you have a small department like that."

Also discussed at the meeting, the board voted on the annual license renewals discussed by the Local Licensing Authority Subcommittee on Monday.

With the exception of Mount Royal Inn and Victory Lounge, the board approved all licenses for renewal, some with inspection or payment stipulations. Mount Royal Inn has not submitted any renewal paperwork and Victory Lounge has been closed for a year and a half, pending building improvements.

The board unanimously approved to endorse the Mass in Motion Grant Partnership agreement with Northern Berkshire Community Coalition. The Mass in Motion Grant Partnership aims to help fund environmental and policy changes that positively impact healthy eating and active living.

"The town would not be directly receiving any funds," Green said. "However, the town would participate with the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition to achieve the overarching goals of Mass in Motion grants."

The board unanimously approved the installation of a Discover Books collection bin. David Rhoads, chairman of the Board of Health, requested the installation of the box at the Transfer Station and Recycling Center at the board's Nov. 15 workshop meeting.

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Adams Dissolves Memorial Building Subcommittee; Renovations Near Completion

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — As renovations to the former Memorial School Building wrap up, the Board of Selectmen has decided to dissolve the subcommittee that worked toward reuse of the former middle school. 


"So over the many years after the board appointed this subcommittee, I believe it is time to put an end to this subcommittee," said Selectmen Chairman John Duval. 


The board voted to dissolve the subcommittee on Wednesday as the building moves toward a tentative re-opening for public use in the spring. Eight years after its formation, Duval said the subcommittee has finally completed the goal it set out to achieve. 


Once renovations are complete, the facility will become the center of operations for the Adams Council on Aging and several spaces will be opened for public use. Additionally, the Selectmen chose developer Wayland North late last year to develop parts of the facility into commercial and residential space.  


The Public Works and Facilities Subcommittee has taken the responsibility of determining the usage and policy surrounding public use of the building, which was  discussed at its meeting on Jan. 13. At that meeting, Town Administrator Jay Green said May is the target for re-opening but the exact time will depend on several factors, including moving and completing other aspects of the facility like bathrooms. 


"If we can get more work done first before anybody goes in there, I think, logistically, that's the better solution," he said. "But we're very early in those stages."


The fee structure and other usage guidelines for the building are still to be determined. Green said the gymnasium is nearly ready for use, barring the installation of covers for thermostats and wall fixtures. 


"Right now, that is the one primary thing that is keeping us from being able to really allow use of that gymnasium," he said. "They're on order. They're being paid attention to as soon as we can get those in and get those secured. The risk of damage to those and against substantial cost in money, I think is too much." 


Green said even when cover installs are complete, he thinks it would be best to not open the facility for public use until the weather is better. He said facilities staff needs time to adjust to maintaining the building, which would be hard when they have other town buildings to manage. 


"They haven't been going over to memorial at all during inclement weather because the building is not open to the public," he said. "So if we were to open that building, let's say those cages come in tomorrow and we put those up, I would still not necessarily recommend that we do that." 


Additionally, Green said the town has to complete the work necessary to secure parts of the building from public access. He said this is necessary to prevent those using the building from entering the private development spaces. 


"We have a developer who is negotiating with the town to develop it," he said. "And we want to make sure that we have the ability to keep anyone who is using the building out of those spaces. So that's ongoing, almost complete." 


The auditorium, Green said, is one area of the building that is not currently ready for public use. He said the use of the auditorium is pending an update on its heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. 


"The auditorium does not have HVAC," he said. "It is not air-conditioned, it is not heated because the original heating plant for the building has been decommissioned. So that is a future capital project for the town to come up with a plan to provide the same air conditioning heat that the lobby, gymnasium and Council on Aging function spaces have." 


Green said coming up with use guidelines and a schedule for the building will be a significant priority once it is opened for public use again. He said the town needs to work with the COA and others using the building to keep the facility organized and ready for whoever needs to use it. 


"If they know the building is going to be used that evening for basketball practice or something, they're going to have to clean their stuff up," he said. "So it'll just require some day-to-day management."

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