Lanesborough, Cheshire, Dalton to join Northern Berkshire regional district of vets services
NORTH ADAMS — The City Council has signed off on three towns joining in a regional district of veterans services.
Lanesborough, Cheshire and Dalton each approached the city of North Adams in recent months to seek the services of the city's Veterans Services Officer Stephen Roy, who currently also covers the towns of Williamstown, Clarksburg, Florida and Adams.
Roy spends the majority of his time in North Adams assisting Northern Berkshire veterans, and eligible family members, helping them apply for and receive the benefits to which they are entitled.
The district began in 2010 when Williamstown and Adams agreed to share the services of the city's veterans services officer. Since then, Florida and Clarksburg have come on board, bringing the coverage area to five towns.
The proposal consists of separate shared services agreements with each of the three towns — Lanesborough, Cheshire and Dalton.
The new agreement would require that Roy spend five fewer hours per week in North Adams, instead spending that time in Dalton.
Dalton would pay a proportional amount, 13.33 percent, of the veterans services officer and his assistant's salaries and benefits. In the first year, that would total $10,878.16 but the agreement assumes annual revisions.
Cheshire and Lanesborough would not have a veterans services officer hold office hours in their towns, but he would be available for calls upon request.
The towns would each agree to pay the district $1,500 annually.
The council unanimously OK'd the agreements with each of the towns, but not before asking Roy for assurances that he could absorb the additional work.
The office hours in Dalton would add one hour of commute time per week, Roy noted. The city is purchasing him a cellphone to be more accessible, and Roy's assistant is in North Adams full time.
"The case load in Dalton is currently very, very light," Roy said.
Councilor Jason LaForest called the agreements an "appropriate and commendable move to provide services across the board in small communities with limited resources."
Resident Michael Chalifoux decried the agreement, and said he's had to wait 11 days to schedule an appointment with the city's veterans services officer.
"This is foolishness; this is screwing veterans," Chalifoux said.
Lanesborough, Cheshire, Dalton and Williamstown have signed off on the agreement, but Adams has yet to take it up, according to Roy.
Adam Shanks can be reached at email@example.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.
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