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North Adams city council organizes government for 2022-2023 term at first meeting of year

North Adams, Massachusetts city hall.
Josh Landes
North Adams, Massachusetts city hall.

The North Adams, Massachusetts city council held its first meeting of the new term this week.

November’s municipal election resulted in the most diverse council in city history, with Ashley Shade and Michael Obasohan representing the first transgender person and Black person on the body.

Council president Lisa Hall Blackmer assigned leadership roles for all nine members across its subcommittees at the inaugural meeting of 2022 on Tuesday.

“Community Development Committee, Councilor [Michael] Obasohan will chair, Councilors [Keith] Bona and [Ashley] Shade will serve," said Blackmer. "Finance Committee, Council Bona will chair, Councilors Blackmer and [Brian] Sapienza will serve. General Government, Councilor [Wayne] Wilkinson will chair, Councilors [Peter] Oleskiewicz and Shade will serve. Public safety, Councilor Sapienza will chair, Councilors [Marie] Harpin and Obasohan will serve. Public Services, Councilor Harpin will chair, Councilors [Jennifer] Barbeau and Oleskiewicz will serve.”

Blackmer also distributed liaison roles for the new term.

“Airport commission, Councilor Barbeau. BART charter public school, Councilor Shade," said the council president. "Hoosic Water Quality District, Councilor Oleskiewicz. MASS MoCA commission, Councilor Sapienza. McCann Regional Technical High School, Councilor Bona. North Adams Contributory Retirement Board, Councilor Wilkinson. North Adams Housing Authority, Councilor Barbeau. North Adams Planning Board, Councilor Blackmer. North Adams School Committee, Councilor Obasohan. Traffic commission, Councilor Harpin. And the president appointment to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access commission will be Councilor Shade.”

Mayor Jennifer Macksey updated the council on what she’s been up to in her first two weeks.

“Mr. Fleury in the office of community development will be leaving us this week, we will be posting his position, as well as an IT position has already been posted," said the mayor. "We had a vacancy in that department. I'm currently interviewing for the executive assistant in my office, and we are accepting applications for the assessor and the assistant building inspector slash code enforcement.”

Macksey said she has issued invitations to city council members for one-on-one meetings to acquaint themselves with her as the term begins. She also promoted a COVID-19 vaccine event this weekend.

“On January 15th, we are having a booster clinic at St. Elizabeth's from 9 to 2," said the mayor. "They will only have Pfizer and Moderna. And thank you for everyone who organized that event.”

She told the council that while the school committee will continue meeting on the first Tuesday of the month as the year begins, it will be in a hybrid format due to spacing concerns and high COVID-19 transmission rates.

“In the next meeting, I'm going to be returning the council paper that set the new rates for highway and police," said Macksey. "We had an error with the dates that were presented in December, as well as some calculation errors. I spoke to the city solicitor and if it was just a date issue, you could amend it. But because it affects the pay rates, we may need to republish and start that process all over. So there's more to follow on that. But I just want to alert all of you that that may be coming back to you at the next meeting. And unfortunately, the Martin Luther King celebration and day of service that was scheduled for Monday has been cancelled.”

The council also approved a measure to extend snow and ice removal deadlines for city sidewalks from 12 hours to 24 hours. It added the city’s public works director – alongside the police chief – as an enforcement officer for the ordinance.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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