Carrie Saldo | Senate president coming to town

Tag team with the Senate president

Have your voice heard by one of the three major leaders in state government.

State Sen. Adam Hinds, D- Pittsfield, is hosting Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D- Amherst. Together they will hold a series of meetings and events in downtown Pittsfield on June 2.

"We face unique challenges, alongside tremendous assets, here in the Berkshires," Hinds said in a written statement. "Bringing the Senate president here means he can see our priorities firsthand, which is part of our effort to ensure the rest of the state understands our needs."

A community forum, open to the public, is at the Berkshire Athenaeum from 3:30 to 5 p.m.

Questions, concerns, ideas and priorities will be welcomed.

"I look forward to learning more from residents about the creative economy, municipal issues, and how the Massachusetts Senate can implement policies that will help the region," Rosenberg said.

Earlier in the day, current barriers to the innovation economy will be discussed during a roundtable conversation at 1Berkshire boardroom.

Patrick Larkin, a Pittsfield resident and director of the Innovation Institute at MassTech, will lead the session.

Speaking to business leaders as well as economic development, labor and workforce development officials, He will discuss recent efforts to draw new companies to the Berkshires and to strengthen existing workforce development opportunities.

Opioid 2.0 would need changes

State Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, said he hopes if Gov. Charlie Baker comes back to the table on opioids he heeds information from health care providers.

Speaking with The Eagle earlier this week, Baker said he may revisit pieces of the 14-month-old opioid law that were rejected by lawmakers. He specifically cited a provision for a three-day involuntary commitment if a doctor believes a patient's opioid addiction is a danger to themselves or others.

Currently, under the Section 35 civil commitment statute, a judge must approve an involuntary commitment. Because courts are not always in session, Baker asserted that the current law limits access for families and patients in need. But lawmakers rejected that and opted for an emergency room evaluation instead.

Mark said he has heard from doctors that the provision, as it was originally proposed, would have meant "significant negative consequences in a hospital environment," including not having detox-specific hospital beds or medical personnel trained to handle a person going through detox.

Mark said rural areas, such as the Berkshires, would be especially hard hit because there are usually waiting lists for detox beds.

"If the governor does file this specific provision again, I will be most interested in seeing what resources he is willing to pledge to make such an idea feasible and workable for all regions of the state," Mark said. "If we are serious about helping those in need, ideas need to be backed up with adequate funding and proper supports. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of talk."

Shelter from the storms

Durant Park is home to a lot of summer programming, but without a permanent shelter, it can be foiled by rain or unnecessarily warm without access to shade.

But a forthcoming shelter is meant to change that.

"It will be a great addition to the park," said Jim McGrath, parks manager. "It can be used for performances and family picnics and programming."

The 2.1 acre park on John Street is home to a playground, basketball court, softball field, and picnic and sitting areas. In years past temporary tents have been used, but those can cause damage to park grounds, or were subject to vandalism.

McGrath said he is working on an installation plan for the shelter, paid for by a $25,000 gift from Greylock Federal Credit Union. The shelter is set to be delivered the second week of June but there are no additional city funds set aside for the project.

The four-post pavilion will be similar to the shelter at near the pond at Springside Park.

Warming up Wahconah

The first annual Food Truck Rodeo is set as an informal opening of the Pittsfield Suns season at the historic baseball park on May 27.

Lebanese, Japanese and Mexican foods are among the food truck offerings.

"You can go to 12 or 13 different trucks and not get the same food twice," said Brian Flagg, Pittsfield Suns food and beverage director.

The stands will be open, as will the beer garden.

In addition to food, the event will include crafts, vendors, pony rides, a pitching contest and local music.

The event, organized by the Suns in partnership with The Eagle, is set for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Carrie Saldo's reporting includes Pittsfield government, education and politics. Reach her at 413-496-6221 or @carriesaldo


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