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New North Adams Council Approves Appointments, Donation
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
03:12AM / Wednesday, January 10, 2018
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The new City Council holds its first meeting of the term on Tuesday.

Mayor Thomas Bernard presents his first orders to the council.

It wasn't apparent at the drawing of seats and names on Jan. 1, but all the returning councilors are on side of the room and the new councilors on the other.

New Councilors Marie T. Harpin, left, Paul Hopkins, Rebbecca Cohen and Jason LaForest attend their first meeting.

Meeting regular Robert Cardimino congratulates the new officials and says he has ideas for saving money.

Council President Keith Bona displays the gavel once owned by Mayor Rosasco that he will use during his term.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's new government met for the first time on Tuesday as Council President Keith Bona wielded the gavel once used by Mayor Ernest H. Rosasco.

"It says on it, 'Our Mayor Ernie,'" said Bona at the meeting's end. "This is from the Sons of Italy and my guess he was given this in the 1950s."

Rosasco was City Council president, and he is in one of the older pictures hanging in council chambers, and was mayor from 1952 to 1953. He later was a District Court judge, presiding in council chambers back when it was a courtroom. He died in 1985.

Bona said the well-used gavel was given to him by his cousin, Mary Fachini Rosasco, Rosasco's widow, shortly before her death at age 99 in 2015.

The meeting was brief with Bona, an eight-term councilor, presiding over his first session and Mayor Thomas Bernard presenting his first orders — reappointments, a donation and a communique on the formation of an ad hoc working group on retail marijuana.

There was little to no discussion of the agenda items. Bernard said there was one change in the composition of the ad hoc committee and that a representative from the License Commission would join those from the Office of Community Development, Police Department, Health Department, Public Schools, City Council, Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals and Board of Health, and two residents.

The working group will meet Wednesday, Jan. 17, at 6:30 at City Hall to begin review of a draft policy created by the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission based on guidelines established by the state's Cannabis Control Commission. Bernard hopes to have a draft zoning ordinance in hand for the City Council to review in March.

The state commission is expected to begin accepting licensing applications for production, processing, laboratories and retail establishments in April. Councilor Wayne Wilkinson commended the mayor for moving at a fast pace but wanted to make sure that the city was looking at more than just retail establishments. Bernard assured him the ordinance would look at all aspects of cultivation and sales.

Bona referred the Rules of Order that will guide this term of the council to the General Government Committee. Councilor Eric Buddington, chairman of that committee, felt he could have ameeting scheduled in time for the rules to be taken up at the next council meeting in two weeks.

In other business, the council:

Set the annual bonding levels for the treasurer/tax collector at $250,000; the assistant treasurer at $62,500; and for the city clerk at $15,000.

Confirmed the reappointments of Justyna Carlson and Wendy Champney to the Historical Commission for terms to expire Jan. 1, 2021.

Confirmed the reappointment of Lynette Bond to the Planning Board for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2023, and the appointment of Lisa Blackmer to fill the unexpired term of Paul Hopkins for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2019. Councilor Wayne Wilkinson flet he should abstain from the vote because Bond is his neighbor.

Authorized the mayor to accept a gift of $5,000 from the Berkshire Bank Foundation to the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire to support school enrichment courses at Drury High School and Berkshire Arts & Technology Public Charter School. The grant will be paid in two installments of $2,500 and help fund a two-day visit to BArT by theoretical physicist Sylvester James Gates and Drury's fall stage production and after-school programs.

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