MEMA Eyes Western Mass for Abandoned Migrants

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Some of the migrants abandoned on Martha's Vineyard in September could find homes in Western Massachusetts. 
On Sept. 14, approximately 50 South American asylum-seekers were sent to the island of Martha's Vineyard from San Antonio, Texas, under the direction of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. No one was informed of their imminent arrival, leaving the small island community to scramble to find shelter and services for them.
Central Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee Chair Michael Britton informed the committee on Wednesday morning that the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has been preparing for Western Mass as the next location to relocate some of these people.
The asylum-seekers had been transported to Joint Base Cape Cod to provide them more services, including legal services. Many of them had court dates in Texas that they would have missed being in the Northeast.
MEMA was concerned because it took a mass effort to get the immigrants situated and fed, said Britton, and the agency was developing locations and policies for them. 
MEMA is in charge of finding housing for these people which is why they are coming up with procedures. This is the same role it played during COVID-19, said Lt. Col. Thomas Grady of the sheriff's office.
"We had all of the locations at hotels throughout the commonwealth, for people that were unhoused that needed to quarantine. So there's some models in place for how they can move people," he said.
Places like Pittsfield are likely to be notified if people will be moved to the Berkshires, and it is unlikely that places like Hinsdale or Becket will be chosen.
The September incident is now the subject of a class action lawsuit that alleges fraud in that the migrants were promised jobs and housing if they got on the plane. 
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BCC, Sonoco Partner in Mechatronics Apprenticeship Program

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College (BCC) and Sonoco Plastics have entered into a partnership to encourage those interested in a career in mechatronics to apply for an apprenticeship at Sonoco. 
Apprentices will receive full tuition at BCC for its associate degree in mechatronics program, provided they complete the apprenticeship. 
Mechatronics is a growing field that combines technologies of mechanics and electronics. An interdisciplinary field of study, it encompasses sought-after skills in electro-mechanical systems, machine operation, computing, automation, robotics and advanced manufacturing. Mechatronics bridges traditional machine operation and 21st-century smart devices, positioning graduates for rewarding careers in fields such as automation and manufacturing. 
 "We are excited to launch this earn-while-you-learn opportunity. Students are paid employees, tuition is covered, college and hands-on industry training complement each other, and employment after graduation is secured," said Frank Schickor, BCC Dean of STEM and Allied Health. "We are grateful to Sonoco for joining this educational partnership." 
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