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Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito poses on the Grand Staircase with local and state officials after making her last announcement of Community Compact awards.

Polito Celebrates Eight Years of Community Compact Program

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Lt. Gov. Polito says she hopes the program has 'institutionalized a relationship' between state and local government.
BOSTON — Local officials joined Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito on Tuesday in celebrating the Community Compact program she had spearheaded the last eight years.
The program to provide technical assistance to the state's 351 municipalities on a range of governmental procedures was instituted by Gov. Charlie Baker and Polito upon taking office in 2015. 
"When we came into office, we wanted to signal as to former local officials, that municipalities and communities matter. And we wanted to empower you. And we did that with our very first executive actions," said Polito at the event held at the Grand Staircase at State House.
"We have moved the ball forward and have helped you take your plans that might have been on a shelf and made those plans into projects and real things in your community."
Both Baker and Polito have served on select boards, Baker in Swampscott and Polito in Shrewsbury, and have encouraged local governments to think broadly and creatively. 
The Community Compact program has provided aid for economic development, capital planning, financial policies, cyber security, recycling programs, website portals and remote participation.
Some 1,400 grants totaling $65 million has been awarded over the past eight years to aid municipalities in technology, planning and best practices across state agencies. 
Tuesday's last hurrah for the outgoing administration's Community Compact awards was the announcement of 78 new awards for 150 communities through two compact programs. 
The Berkshires received the following funding: 
  • $200,000 for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission to modernize a regional e-permitting system for 23 towns.
  • $75,000 for Sandisfield to implement a centralized and web-based security system for a number of municipal buildings.
  • $23,791 for New Marlborough to purchase and implement management software.
  • $125,000 for regional school consolidation of Berkshire Hills Regional School District and Southern Berkshire Regional School District.
Every single city and town has participated in the program, even the non-town of Devens, said Sean Cronin, deputy commissioner of the Division of Local Services. 
"The best practice program, which was the first program offered back in August of 2015, it's really the flagship, I think, of the Community Compact programs," he said. "We now have 237 communities that are on at least their second Community Compact and we have 97 more on that third or fourth time back."
Polito, who also attended her last Local Government Advisory Commission meeting immediately before, lauded the local and state officials who had made the program a success.
"We just finished the Local Government Advisory Commission meeting, and it was my last one with this incredible group of local officials here at the State House. And we wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to grant these awards a person with all of you and a chance to say things," she said.
Also speaking were state Sen. Bruce Tarr, minority leader, and several local officials including Northfield Town Administrator Andrea Llamas, Danvers Town Manager Steve Bartha and Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, currently president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
"This is really about a partnership," said MMA Executive Director Geoffrey Beckwith said. "It's a partnership that is in state government, it is a partnership between levels of government." 
Polito, who will be leaving office next month as the new administration takes over, said people judge how their lives are going by where they live -- not by how things work in the State House even though that can have a great impact on them. 
"As I come through to this moment, I feel that we have institutionalized a relationship and a system of how state and local government can work and should work that will serve as a model ... for the next administration and others coming forward ... in terms of how state and local government should work can work and have an impact."

Tags: community compact,   lieutenant governor,   

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State Fire Marshal: Keep Warm, Keep Safe During Cold Snap

STOW, Mass. — With bitter cold temperatures heading our way this weekend, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is reminding residents to "Keep Warm, Keep Safe" and avoid fire and carbon monoxide (CO) hazards while heating their homes.
"Home heating equipment is the second-leading cause of residential fires and the main source of carbon monoxide at home," Ostroskey said. "Working smoke and CO alarms are your first line of defense against these hazards. With furnaces, fireplaces, and space heaters working overtime this weekend, be sure they're installed on every floor of your home and test them to be sure you and your family are protected.
Space Heaters
"It's important to keep space heaters at least three feet from curtains, bedding, and anything else that can burn," Ostroskey said. "Plug them directly into a wall socket, not an extension cord or a power strip, and remember that they're intended for temporary use. Always turn a space heater off when you leave the room or go to sleep."
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