Adams Fire District Signs $600K Lawsuit Settlement

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff
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ADAMS, Mass. — The Fire District's Prudential Committee has officially signed a $600,000 settlement agreement for a class-action lawsuit over its fire protection and street lighting fees. 


The committee discussed the agreement after a final briefing from district Counsel Stephen Pagnotta. Pagnotta said this is one of the final requirements before the district can move on from the lawsuit. 


"This settlement agreement outlines the process of the settlement, who is going to get what funds and outlines a timeframe for doing that," he said at Thursday's Prudential Committee meeting. 


Pagnotta said, per the agreement, residents of the district who paid fire protection and street lighting charges between September 2019 and June 2022 will receive a proportional share of the $600,000 settlement. The district approved the appropriation of surplus revenue for the settlement at its annual meeting in May


Pagnotta explained that the agreement can be filed with the court once both sides officially sign it. 


"We will also be engaging a settlement administrator to assist in the distribution of the funds to the recipients," he said. "... There will be court hearings that the court will schedule, and it will be required to approve this because it is a class settlement action. We anticipate the court will do so. This is one of the last steps in putting this matter behind us." 


The lawsuit resulted in a change to the district's collection of fire protection and street lighting. A Superior Court judge found that the district did not have the authority to charge for anything other than water, according to an 1873 act by the Legislature.

Tags: fire district,   lawsuit,   

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Multiple Fundraisers Started for Richmond Street Fire Victims

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — A week after a Thanksgiving morning fire destroyed an apartment building on Richmond Street, multiple community fundraisers have, combined, raised more than $50,000 for the victims of the fire. 

While none of the occupants were injured, the fire caused significant damage to the attic, second floor and front facade of the building. Fire Chief John Pansecchi said the cause of the fire was undetermined after an investigation by the State Fire Marshal's office.

"Nobody was hurt. Great job by everybody that was there," Pansecchi said. 

Two separate GoFundMe fundraisers, one for resident Jacob Anderson-Hall and another for residents Marie Ellis and Jake Hall, have raised a total of $13,350 as of Nov. 30. A spaghetti dinner benefit, hosted by the Bounti Fare on Dec. 18 from noon to 4, is being held on support Hall, Ellis and the other victims. 

"We are thankful for each and every person in their kindness through donations, prayers, kind words, and sharing the gofundmes that are set up," Ellis said in an update on the fundraising page. 

Another fundraiser, organized by Susan Bloom for her in-laws Paul and Vanessa Mazzantini, has raised more than $40,000. 

"Yesterday, we spent the day sorting through donations and cleaning them. We appreciate everyone who has donated, it means so much after this loss," Bloom said in an update on the fundraising page. 

The century-old building at 16-18 Richmond caught fire in the early morning, with Firefighters from Adams, North Adams, Cheshire, Dalton and Savoy responding to the scene at about 9:30 a.m. By about 11:30 a.m., the fire was contained but hotspots were still sending smoke into the air. 

A lower-level apartment was being rented out as an AirB&B and the occupant, Kelsey-Lynn Corradetti of Canada, was able to flee and later get her documents out. 
iBerkshires received an email from the guest's mother, Tosca Reno, who said there was a hero to this story and her name is Sabrina Fortier. 
It was Fortier, another Richmond Street resident, who saw the smoke while walking her dog and ran to the house and started banging on doors. The Mazzantinis and their 3-month-old daughter were having breakfast, unaware of the fire. Paul Mazzantini broke down the door to the AirBnB unit to get Corradetti out, Reno wrote. It was just in time as the windows began to explode. There are numerous photos on Facebook showing the ferocity of the blaze and how fast it spread.  
"I have so much gratitude on this day, for Sabrina's alertness and for Paul's quick action.  My daughter is alive and well, albeit in a state of shock and for this, on this Thanksgiving day, I am beyond grateful," Reno wrote us. "I can't even begin to contemplate what would have happened otherwise."

The nearly 7,000-square-foot structure is listed as a three-apartment building that the Mazzantinis bought in January 2021 and renovated.

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