Adams Approves Animal Control Shared Services With Cheshire

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen has approved a shared services agreement with Cheshire for the town's animal control officer. 
 
Police Chief K. Scott Kelley said he had been approached by both Cheshire and Savoy about a shared animal control officer. He said Animal Control Officer Kimberly Witek is more than qualified to handle the work. 
 
"There's certain training certifications that are involved in this. That's why they reached out to us because our animal control officer is well trained and well certified in anything," he said. "whether it be barn inspections, what used to be called farm Inspections, or whether it's basic animal control techniques, tactics, investigations." 
 
Kelley said calls from Cheshire for animal control are expected to be minimal.
 
"Over the last couple of years, their average calls for service that cannot be handled by a police officer is seven. Savoy is smaller than that," he said. "... I wanted to be fair to both parties in that this is obviously something that can grow if we continue to utilize it." 
 
Town Administrator Jay Green said other communities often approach Adams for shared services. He said this program should act as a pilot, similar to the Council on Aging's shared services agreement with Savoy. 
 
"I think we can see if it works and help serve our neighboring community. There's many other opportunities that may or may not work in the future with this, but this is one of those where it really doesn't matter if you're in Cheshire or Adams or North Adams or Pittsfield, animal control services are generally animal control services," he said. 
 
Kelley also provided the board with a general update, highlighting some of the community events the department has or will take part in, including the Hoosac Valley Middle School Cookout, the Elizabeth Freeman Walk and Fall Foliage. One program he said the department is in the early stages of working on is an internship program with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students who have a criminal justice minor. 
 
"They reached out to us, and that is something we already do with volunteers and job shadowing. So we are working on details and look forward to working with MCLA," he said. 
 
In other business last week, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Adams Fire District for the water system at the Greylock Glen. 
 
"The Greylock Glen project requires water service in a high elevation area, which requires somewhat of a little bit more complicated water system than I think that we would like. It is also outside of the Adams Fire District, which complicates matters further," Green said. 
 
Under the agreement, the fire district will supply water to the system at the glen, which the town with maintain and operate. The board had significant discussion about the specifics of how the water system will function. 
 
Town Counsel Edmund St. John III said he reviewed the agreement and that it looks like a lot of work went into it. 
 
"There's a tremendous amount of detail which goes beyond my understanding of water systems. The only comment I have is if there is a dispute between the parties, there's a resolution process that is covered, which is basically an administrative process rather than one of the parties running to court and suing each other," he said. 
  • The board approved the appointment of Megan Bantle to the Agricultural Commission. 
  • The board approved a one-day liquor license for Adams Turners Inc. for this past weekend's picnic. 

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North County Communities Close to Hiring Shared HR Director

By Brian Rhodes

ADAMS, Mass. — The town is close to picking a candidate for a grant-funded human resources director, which will split time between Adams, North Adams and Williamstown. 

 

The Board of Selectmen's Personnel Sub-committee met on Monday to discuss the position and several other personnel matters. In March, the three communities received a $100,000 grant from the state's Community Compact Cabinet Efficiency and Regionalization program to fund the position

 

Town Administrator Jay Green said two candidates were interviewed for the job, with expectations to make a formal offer to one of them soon, pending final approval from officials in North Adams. 

 

"It's going to be a large undertaking for whoever is in the job. But I think, at the end of the day, we will provide the communities with somebody paying attention to this stuff," Green said. "... I think a lot of the retention and recruitment issues; all three communities have those issues. So all three communities are looking forward to having the person to be able to work on that." 

 

Green said each of the three communities has specific needs that a human resources director will provide. For Adams, he explained that keeping the town's human resources policies up to date is a significant need. 

 

"This person will work for us directly, and they will be a resource for us," Green said. The three communities, he explained, have to keep the position funded until at least Fiscal Year 2024. 

 

In other business, the group discussed preliminary job descriptions for an assistant Treasurer/Collector and assistant Town Accountant. These positions would replace the current financial assistant titles and would be a title and job description change rather than a personnel change. 

 

"We have too many high-level people doing too low-level work because we're not staffed enough in that level," Green said, noting the town expects the title changes to be ready to begin the next fiscal year. "A lot of those positions have been eliminated over the years. The work doesn't go away, but the work just gets kicked up." 

 

Town Accountant Crystal Wojcik said the new titles would allow the people in those positions to have more training opportunities and take on more responsibilities for the town. One example she gave is a conference from the state's Municipal Accountants and Auditors Association, which Financial Assistant Ashley Satko cannot currently attend. 

 

"I can go to that, but Ashley can't because her title is not Assistant Town Accountant," she said. "You either have to be a Town Accountant or an Assistant Town Accountant. I believe the same rules go for the treasurer's association." 

 

Another new position the group discussed was assistant director of Community Development. Rebecca Furgeson, the current program manager for the department, would take on the new role. 

 

"[Rebecca] has a very unique skill set with project management that I can't replicate. And she has capacity to take on additional work," said Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin. "We've had incredibly good luck with grants over the past year. I think we've gotten basically everything we've apply for it, and so there's a need to have a good set of eyes and sound judgment in terms of managing those projects." 

 

The committee also discussed the part-time administrative assistant for Inspectional Services. Green said he is hopeful the position could eventually become full-time, but budget considerations do not currently allow it.  

 

  • The committee discussed a potential code of conduct for town employees and others involved in town business. Board Vice-chair Christine Hoyt said she researched conduct policies for other communities and wants to do more work to update those policies in Adams. 

 

"I'd like to explore this more and come forward with a code of conduct that is all-encompassing," she said. "... We hold our employees to a standard, but we haven't necessarily put a standard of conduct in place for elected officials for the public." 

 

Green said the current provisions for the town only apply to town employees, not elected or other officials.

 

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