North County Communities Close to Hiring Shared HR Director

By Brian RhodesPrint Story | Email Story

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 of Selectmen 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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Suspect in High-Speed Adams Chase Arrested

ADAMS, Mass. — A suspect test-driving a pickup truck who led police on a wild high-speed chase on Tuesday was arrested in Adams early Wednesday morning. 

The incident began at about 11:41 a.m. on Tuesday when an officer conducted a motor vehicle stop on Howland Avenue. During the stop, the operator was positively identified and was determined to have a suspended license. When ordered out of the vehicle, he fled, said police, leading law enforcement on a multijurisdictional pursuit toward the town of Florida.
A number of people posted about seeing the black pickup truck enter the Walmart parking lot; a video shows the driver surrounded by cruisers as they try to exit the parking lot at the light. Witnesses say the pickup backed into cruiser to get around the block. 
The driver headed up West Shaft Road and toward Florida with Adams and North Adams Police in pursuit. The pursuit was called off at the city line. 
The suspect was able to elude police but his vehicle was found abandoned in a remote location in the Savoy State Forest. It was later learned this vehicle was being test driven from a local auto dealer. With the assistance of the State Police Airwing, K9 Unit and drone unit, officers canvased the wilderness for the suspect but were unsuccessful.  
Officers received information at about 3:14 a.m. on Wednesday that the suspect was in the area of Glen Street. Police say he fled on foot as officers secured a perimeter.  
K9 Adam and his handler Sgt. Curtis Crane began an area search. K9 Adam was able to locate the suspect hiding in a back yard, but the suspect again ran — straight into officers on the perimeter who took him into custody. 
The suspect faces a litany of charges pending from the previous day's encounter as well as the early morning contact with officers. Additional charges are pending as well from North Adams Police Department and their involvement in the apprehension.
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