Things You Might Have Missed in Pittsfield This Week

Charter Review Debate; Dark Times for Pittsfield Schools; 2nd PPD accident in 6 weeks; Call Me Melville Kicks Off; EPA’s Re-Revised PCB Plan; Slim Hopes for Historic Plunkett School

The City Council has put its final stamp on the way it hopes to see a Charter Review Commission take shape, and its in the Mayor’s court now whether to work within their recommendations or proceed from a stance carved out by his City Solicitor Tuesday that it seems to (ironically) violate our existing charter. Click the link above for the full story, or try the Berkshire Eagle’s coverage here if you want the wrong names of which councilors opposed the plan.  See Tuesday’s Council Meeting and last week’s special meeting online via Pittsfield Community TV for more perspective on how these recommendations were arrived at.

Ellen Kennedy will helm Berkshire Community College– following a national search that saw 38 applicants, 7 interviewees, and 3 finalists, BCC’s board of trustees selected its current interim president and former vice president of administration and finance as top administrator to replace Paul Raverta, who retired in January.

In other education news, Pittsfield’s Public School Committee is coming down to the wire and running late into the evenings as it scrambles to replace its two top administrators before they move on to greener pastures.  Three Deputy Superintendent candidates were narrowed to two in interviews this week; school committee pushed a final hiring date up to this coming Wednesday while they conduct background checks on the 2 deputy finalists.  Interviews with 2 candidates for an interim version of the top job will occur June 13.  – The selection of either Basan Nembirkov or Gordon Noseworthy for a temporary 1 year super comes after the only finalist from a (some say rushed and amateurish) search process was not approved of by the committee.  But wait- it turns out, said finalist, Reza Namin, didn’t approve of the committee, either: the super candidate says he called to withdraw his name immediately following the interview, before a vote on him was even taken.  If that seems abrupt, consider for a moment that current super Jake Eberwein gave his notice after just one evening with the newly reorganized 2012 committee, as did student rep Christian Kennedy. Meanwhile, Mr. Eberwein and the school committee prepare for budget cuts and layoffs as next year’s budget is decided over the next couple of weeks.

On a more positive note, PHS may have set a record for the largest human whale ever created (pending official measurements of Rush Limbaugh) as part of the diverse kickoff for Call Me Melville, a 155 day celebration of the local author from now until Columbus Day weekend. [See video]

A city police cruiser caused a messy accident on 2nd St. Tuesday, which PPD says was caused by an officer’s undisclosed ‘medical incident.’  This is the 2nd time in 6 weeks that a police car has been involved in a MVA On April 13, a police cruiser struck a parked car on Pomeroy Ave and left the scene, having apparently failed to notice the damage done to it.  According to eye witnesses, the officer returned promptly after neighbors called the station to report this collision, albeit in a freshly washed cruiser. More on this later, perhaps- but for record keeping purposes, that’s 4 civilian vehicles repaired on the city’s tab for April and May, in addition to 1 telephone pole and a totally wrecked cruiser.

The EPA along with state officials presented a significantly revised plan for a GE cleanup of the Housatonic River south of Pittsfield, which has absorbed several of the suggestions residents made at the last Housatonic public hearing in Lenox in October… though it’s fair to say no one emerged from Thursday’s hearing crying “Victory!” – and, as I discuss in yesterday’s blog editorial, the solutions being presented still mostly ignore the still-glaring source of the contamination problem here in Pittsfield. 

Former Synagogue To Be Demolished

Returning to earlier in the week, the Historical Commission did a good job at its Monday meeting of demonstrating that its assessments and recommendations of what  buildings do and don’t merit further effort at historic preservation are not arbitrary knee-jerk responses, but informed decisions based on healthy, realistic discussion of a variety of factors.  In my opinion, the Commission chose wisely in approving demolition requests for two derelict properties in the city Monday, while working on strategies to stop the wrecking ball that portends to disappear the viable and versatile 100+ year old former Plunkett School building at the corner of 1st and Fenn to make way for an intended Dunkin Donuts location.  [For a photo tour of the Plunkett School click here, for a 20 minute video tour w/ comments from members of the Hist. Commission and Community Development board, click here.]

In other news, popular radio host Bill Sturgeon moves to the Brave FM, Olver crashed en route to Pittsfield, Gov. Patrick visited school kids in Lenox,  Rep. Neal opened a shared Pittsfield campaign HQ with Downing and Warren, drawing criticism from his opponents… and don’t forget to check the Pittsfield Gazette which has the listing for the upcoming meetings that will form next week’s headlines (print Gazette subscriptions are cheap and very worth it, by the way).

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