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Berkshires Beat: Great Barrington Police Department Earns State Accreditation
03:30PM / Monday, May 08, 2017
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From left, Sgt. Paul Storti, Chief William Walsh Jr., Executive Administrative Assistant Cara Becker and Sgt. Adam Carlotto.

Extra credit: The Great Barrington Police Department has achieved full state accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. The department received its award at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 3, at the Connors Center in Dover.

Accreditation is a long and vigorous self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain the highest standards of law enforcement practice. It is considered the best measure of a police department against the established best practices around the country and region, and involves both an internal self-review and an external assessment by the commission’s team of experts.

Under the leadership of Chief William Walsh Jr., the Great Barrington Police Department was evaluated by a team of commission-appointed assessors. The Assessment Team found the department to be in compliance with all applicable standards for accreditation.

In order to earn accreditation, the Great Barrington Police Department had to successfully complete an on-site review of 246 mandatory standards and 83 optional standards by the commission. The MPAC program requires that departments meet all the mandatory standards and percentage of the optional requirements. These carefully selected measures include: Jurisdiction and Mutual Aid, Collection and Preservation of Evidence, Communications, Working Conditions, Crime Analysis, Community Involvement, Financial Management, Internal Affairs, Juvenile Operations, Patrol Administration, Public Information, Records, Traffic, Training, Drug Enforcement and Victim/Witness Assistance.

The commission offers two program awards: certification and accreditation, with accreditation the higher of the two. Accreditation is granted for a period of three years. Participation in the program is strictly voluntary.


Margaret Cahill, left, and Andrea Lassor co-chair the Dalton Committee, which spearheaded the work to obtain this designation.

A walk in the woods: Dalton has been formally approved as an Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and management of the Appalachian Trail. The ATC, the Appalachian Mountain Club Berkshire Chapter and community leaders will join the Dalton committee in officially celebrating the designation at an event tentatively scheduled for Saturday, August 19, the day of Dalton’s new art and music festival. An initial planning meeting will be held at the Dalton CRA conference room at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 11.

Now in its seventh year with 39 communities participating, including Great Barrington and North Adams, the Appalachian Trail Community designation program is a program of the nonprofit managers of the Appalachian Trail. Launched in 2010, this program recognizes communities for their part in promoting awareness of the A.T. as an important national asset.

Designation as an Appalachian Trail Community and participation in the program is aimed to engage community citizens, trail visitors and stewards; thank communities for their decades of service to hikers; act as a catalyst for enhancing sustainable economic development; aid local municipalities and regional areas with conservation planning; and help local community members see the Trail as a resource and asset.

Oh, baby: The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network has selected Berkshire Baby Box as a finalist for the 2017 Nonprofit Excellence Awards for its success as a small nonprofit. The Excellence Awards will be presented at MNN's annual
celebration of Nonprofit Awareness Day, a statewide holiday that highlights the work of the nonprofit sector and raises awareness of causes throughout Massachusetts presented by MNN and Citizens Bank, at the State House on June 5.

Berkshire Baby Box’s mission is to provide all new families in Berkshire County with a free Baby Box that serves as a safe sleeping space for newborns. The box includes a firm mattress and fitted sheet, essential items to help ease the transition to new parenthood, and a connection to education, guidance, support, and local resources. It has partnered with organizations that work with expectant mothers, and have developed an Infant Care Baby Box workshop providing participants with information on safe sleep and the resources and services available to them.

In June 2016, Berkshire Baby Box gave out their first Baby Boxes in North Adams, and by the end of 2016, they had become an all-county program. It is on track to provide 1,000 free Baby Boxes in 2017.


Cycling through: The North Adams Partnership is announcing the launch of our Cycling Tourism website, This website encompasses what you need to know about cycling in the North Berkshires region. It includes maps of long rides in all directions from North Adams, which can be printed with turn-by-turn directions or downloaded onto a smart device. The rides are illustrated by photos of the beautiful vistas in our area.

Short, visitor-oriented rides are featured in another section for those who might want to start their morning at Mass MoCA, then ride over to the Clark and WCMA for the afternoon before returning for a nice evening meal in the city. Other sections on finding a local bike shop and promoting safe road cycling are included. links to many local websites, including,, and, encouraging visitors to explore our area more fully.


The write stuff: North County Casual Writers Group, housed at UNO Community Center in North Adams, recently hosted "A Night With Joe Manning." Manning, an author, poet, historian, songwriter and photographer, shared stories of how he came to love and write about North Adams.

Manning and his wife originally came to North Adams to view a David Byrne (lead singer of the popular band Talking Heads) art exhibit, which actually turned out to be on exhibit the following week. He and his wife decided to "stay for the
day because it was beautiful," and he fell in love with the city. That inspired him to write a book "to give a voice to the people of North Adams."

The evening focused on strong community, finding beauty in the obscure and finding your own inspiration to write about what you know. North County Casual Writers Group meets the first and third Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at UNO Center. The group is at no cost and is open to all ages; it is also open to all genre and writing skill levels. The group focuses on relaxed creative atmosphere, work shopping, helpful critique and inspirational guest speakers.


New habitat: Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity's Executive Director Carolyn Valli, Financial Empowerment Director Beth Frederick, Community Outreach and Development Manager Dawn S. Giftos, Resident and President of the Westside Neighborhood Initiative Linda Kelley along with 2,500 people attended the four-day Habitat for Humanity 2017 Global Conference held in Atlanta from March 27-30.

People came from all over the globe from over 500 U.S. affiliates and more than 50 countries to attend this landmark conference. CEO for Habitat for Humanity International, Jonathan T.M. Reckford, welcomed members of the worldwide habitat family with a note of inspiration, community building and learning. The conference theme, “Every Hand Makes a Difference” was fitting because of the commitment of each dedicated staff member, volunteer, donor and supporter. In fiscal year 2016, Habitat has experienced remarkable growth and improved housing conditions in partnership with 3 million people worldwide.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former first lady Rosalynn Carter arrived on stage to share a bit about their inspirational, lifelong legacy and relationship with Habitat for Humanity and spoke of the critical need for affordable homeownership and volunteerism. Since 1984, they have traveled across the U.S. and around the world with Habitat for Humanity, donating their time and voices annually to build and improve homes alongside Habitat homeowners. Habitat's Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project helps raise awareness of the critical need for decent and affordable housing. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have worked alongside more than 100,000 volunteers in 14 countries to build, renovate and repair nearly 4,000 homes.

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