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Newly promoted Lt. Kevin Alicea is pinned by Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre on Tuesday with help from Alicea's son, Max.
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City Clerk Joshua Vallieres swears in Kevin Alicea, who stands with Fire Chief Brent Lefebvre, right, and Deputy Chief Robert Patenaude.

North Adams Receives $629K State Grant for Violence Prevention

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Top, Councilors Marie T. Harpin and Jennifer Barbeau pull the new seating assignments for the year. Below left, Lisa Blackmer is sworn in as council president again and, right, Bryan Sapienza takes the oath as the new vice president. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is the recipient of a $629,000 violence prevention grant through the state's Strong Communities Initiative.
Mayor Jennifer Macksey announced the grant from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services during her update at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
"This provides a great opportunity for us to provide collaborations in things that are very, very important to us," the mayor said. "And also to work on what we have but to build new programs to support intervention and strengthen our protective factors for our community."
She described the initiative as supporting community-based prevention and intervention programs that will help reduce the likelihood of the use of violence. The grant will be disbursed over five years. 
"Our next step is to convene representatives from the School Department, the Police Department and work in collaboration with some local organizations to develop what we call an action plan as to how we're going to spend the money," she said.
The mayor said the funding creates an opportunity for cross-sector collaborations to amplify the work of existing programs and introduce new programming to support intervention efforts that strengthen community safety. The working group will be charged with developing the plan for the first two years of the grant.
"I would be remiss if I didn't think Carrie Burnett (grants, special projects & procurement officer), Stacy Parsons (of the North Adams Public Schools) and Stacy Abuisi (of the public safety department). They worked diligently on this grant. And we thought it was a reach for us. But we made the reach and we got it. So thank you to all those involved."
The brief meeting also saw the promotion of firefighter Kevin Alicea to lieutenant, replacing John Paciorek who recently retired after more than 20 years with the department. 
Alicea joined the department in 2009 as a permanent reserve firefighter and graduated from the Fire Academy the following year. He became a full-time permanent firefighter in 2011, is licensed as a basic emergency medical technician and is currently a member of the department's hazardous materials team. 
Macksey reminded him that his duty is to preserve life, health and property in the city of North Adams. 
"I also expect that you will lead your shift with the best of your ability with fairness and professionalism at all times," she said, with Alicea's son, Max, beside her. "I know that you will have the strength to bear whatever burdens might be placed upon you and your role, and that you have the strength, the mind and the body to deliver safety to all the residents of the city."
In addition to Paciorek, Gregory Lancto and Juan Bolte also retired from the Fire Department with 29 and 28 years of service, respectively.
She also updated the council on new faces at City Hall including Cara Farrell, the new human resource director being shared with Adams and Williamstown. Farrell was a community planner with the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission and will be in City Hall on Thursdays and Fridays. 
"This is a grant-funded position over the next few years. So we're going see how this pilot program runs with this grant and working with the other communities," the mayor said.
The city has also hired Lindsay Randall for 20 to 25 hours a week to oversee community events and work with outside groups wishing to do events in the city. 
Tuesday's meeting was the first of the new year for the council, which held its annual reorganization. 
Lisa Blackmer was re-elected as president for the next year on a vote of 7-2, with Councilors Jennifer Barbeau and Marie T. Harpin voting against. She was nominated by Councilor Ashley Shade. 
Councilor Bryan Sapienza was nominated as vice president by Barbeau and voted unanimously. This is Sapienza's first election as an officer. 
Shade motioned that the council rules be referred to General Government for review; this was approved. Shade has been trying to institute some rules of conduct and thought the council rules, rather than an ordinance, maybe the best way to achieve this. 
The councilors also received their new seats for this year with Harpin calling the names and Barbeau the seating numbers. The seating arrangement, from 1 to 8, is Barbeau, Peter Oleskiewicz, Keith Bona, Sapienza, Michael Obasohan, Wayne Wilkinson, Shade and Harpin
The councilors will take their new seats at the next meeting. 
In other business, the council:
Set annual bonding for the city tax collector/treasurer at $250,000; the assistant city treasurer at $62,500, and the city clerk at $15,000.
 Confirmed the appointments of Heather Williams to the Conservation Commission for a term to expire Aug. 1, 2024, and Andrew Fitch to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term to expire Jan. 1, 2028.
 Set a public hearing for Jan. 24 on the potential suspension or revocation of OTT Taxi's license at the request of Police Chief Jason Wood. 
 Approved a license application of Linda Jarvis of North Adams to drive a taxi for RJ's Taxi.
 Granted a perpetual easement for Alexandra Manno of 44 Green Ave. A portion of her driveway is on a city-owned paper street. Macksey said this was discovered during the title search and that the sale of the house is being "held hostage" until the ownership is clarified. 

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MCLA Considering Temporary Homeless Housing on Campus

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is considering turning the vacant Berkshire Towers dorm into a temporary homeless shelter.
President James Birge said on Friday that the college is considering a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development that would supply needed housing for 50 homeless families.
"I look at the mission of the institution, and we talk about educating students to be responsible citizens," Birge said. "I think this models that mission."
Birge said residents would be mostly younger families. He assumed 50 families would generate 25 school-aged children in the Berkshire Towers.
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