PITTSFIELD — April is creeping up, ushering in the official start of the local election season and with it discussions about how to spend a “historic” injection of Covid-era funds into city coffers.
The field of candidates for City Council has already started to take shape, but will come further into focus Friday when election papers become available. Three longtime councilors, Chris Connell, Kevin Morandi and Nicholas Caccamo, announced their plans to step back, and a few council hopefuls already declared their intention to run.
Voters face no shortage of decisions this year: Outside of council, six spots on the Pittsfield School Committee are on the ballot, as well as the race for City Clerk.
In the backdrop, public health experts are warning of rising coronavirus cases in the state, while Tyer last week warned that the city’s progress against the virus had “gone backward” in a matter of weeks. She spoke a few hours after an administration official confirmed that a highly contagious variant of the coronavirus that first emerged in the United Kingdom had been detected in wastewater treatment plant on Holmes Road.
Racing to vaccinate as many people as possible with a limited supply of doses from the state, members of the Berkshire Vaccine Collaborative welcomed Sen. Elizabeth Warren to the Berkshire Community College clinic Saturday. Warren criticized Gov. Charlie Baker’s vaccination rollout, which local leaders argue favors mass vaccination sites concentrated in the eastern part of the state — to the detriment of regional collaboratives.
The throng of newly vaccinated on the day of Warren’s visit included educators and school staff. Many educators are preparing to teach in classrooms for full days, five days a week, for the first time in over a year. Pittsfield youth get back to elementary school classrooms full-time on state’s deadline, April 5. The School Committee’s decision earlier this year get more students back to classrooms was met by an uproar from educators concerned about safety in schools.
Tyer told the City Council last week that there “has been no in-school transmission.” (An earlier version of this story online misstated how long the district has not seen in-school transmission.)
Also on the schools front, the School Committee will be conducting virtual “site visits” with four superintendent hopefuls. In a change from previous superintendent searches, the visits with colleagues, students and bosses of the candidates won’t be happening in person, but over Zoom.
In a matter of weeks, the city will receive about $16 million of its $34 million total allotment from the American Rescue Plan, which was lauded by lawmakers at a press conference at City Hall last Friday. Tyer said her office assembled a “small work group” that will meet this week to identify what sort of expenditures the legislation allows.
While she hasn’t divulged any details, Tyer indicated housing for vulnerable residents is top of her mind. She ruled out using the funds for recurring operating expenses, such as new positions. The federal stimulus, so large she thought she misread the figure at first, is a “remarkable, historic moment” for the city.
With more detailed spending guidance expected later this week, we’re sure to hear more about Tyer’s plans for the funding soon.
The city put out a call for five to seven volunteers to serve on the Friends of Pittsfield Dog Park at Burbank Park. Located near the Valentine Road, the park is expected to open this summer. To learn more, call 413-499-9371 or email email@example.com.
The Christian Center at 193 Robbins Ave. will be serving takeout Easter dinner from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday. It will be giving away Easter baskets for children 12 and under who come with their parents on Friday from 10-11 a.m.