Pittsfield Council Recognizes ALS, Appoints CIO

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council began its regular meeting on Tuesday with a proclamation for ALS awareness and the appointment of a new chief information officer.

“This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ice Bucket Challenge through renewed commitment to increase public awareness and support funding, leading to the significant improvements in ALS research,” Mayor Peter Marchetti explained.

The challenge took social media by storm, with participants recording themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Resident Jacqueline Surbaugh was presented with the proclamation.  Marchetti dedicated this month to ALS awareness and called upon residents to join him in supporting ALS research, advocating for increased funding, and standing in solidarity with those affected by this disease.

The neurodegenerative disease causes the brain to lose connection with muscles, resulting in the loss of the ability to walk, talk, and eventually breathe.  The mayor pointed out that the average prognosis for those diagnosed is two to five years with a diagnosis made every 90 minutes and that the ALS Association has committed over $154 million to support more than 550 research projects globally in a push for new treatments.

The council unanimously voted to appoint Sigfredo Irizarry as the chief information officer responsible for planning, directing, managing, and overseeing the City’s Information Technology department.

According to his resume, Irizarry has over 30 years in the field and previously worked as the CIO for three companies.

The council also approved a conservation restriction the Berkshire Natural Resources Council,
Inc. for the property located off Barker Road, Velma Avenue, and Gamwell Avenue, also known as the Saw Mill Property.


This ensures that the property will be maintained in perpetuity in its natural, scenic, or open condition and available for passive outdoor recreational use, limited non-commercial forestry use, and to prevent any use or change that would materially impair the conservation values.

The city had been working toward purchasing the property since 2007 when it received funding but could not come to an agreement with the ownership group, Saw Mill School Nominee Realty Trust.
 
The 50 acres of conservation land along the southwest branch of the Housatonic River was purchased in 2022 for $400,000 using grants and city funding. The city was awarded a $280,000 Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity grant from the state's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the remaining amount was covered using $20,000 of the city's capital funds, $50,000 from the Conservation Commission, and $50,000, from Pittsfield's Community Preservation Act.
 
A CR is required when CPA funding is used for the acquisition of municipal conservation land and needs to be held by a third party.

In other news, there was a split vote on a $600 gift from Miss Hall’s School due to recent media coverage detailing sexual abuse allegations on a longtime teacher and alleged improper handling of them internally.

The funds were gifted to advance the city’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  

“With the ongoing investigation that’s happening at Miss Hall’s, I fully support diversity, equity, and inclusion I just feel uncomfortable taking a donation from them the week after the press reported the allegations about the ongoing behavior there so I won’t be supporting this tonight,” Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey said.


 

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Dalton Planning Board Works to Update Special Permit Fees

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The Planning Board is navigating how to update its special permit fees to bring them up to date with the current costs of services. 
 
During the board meeting last week, Town Planner Janko Tomasic said the cost of completing the services is higher than what it costs to take action on the application.
 
The current application fee charged by the Board of Appeals and the Planning Board is $375. 
 
This fee is intended to cover the cost of labor, time, materials, postage for the certified abutters list for abutter notification, postage for the certified mail for the notice of the decision, and two Berkshire Eagle legal advertisements for the public hearing.
 
"According to the data, the base cost for a permit application is barely enough to cover the cost of the application process," according to Tomasic's special-permit costs breakdown. 
 
Based on the last six permits, the least expensive permit is $414 to complete because of the increase in cost for the steps in the permit process.   
 
The flat certified mail fee for eight letters is $69.52, which covers the cost of certified mail to abutting towns, the applicant, and notice of the decision to the applicant
 
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