News Briefs: Berkshire School Road bridge reopening; “Fourth Wave of the Opioid Epidemic” panel discussion

Local law enforcement agencies have indicated that they are seeing increases in drug overdoses believed to be a result of the stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Berkshire School Road bridge to reopen Tuesday evening

Sheffield — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has announced the reopening of the Berkshire School Road Bridge on Tuesday evening, Aug. 25. The bridge over Schenob Brook was closed in May due to structural issues.

MassDOT crews have conducted steel pile foundation, beam, deck, railing and approach work since May, and the bridge is reopening in time for the start of school at nearby Mount Everett Regional School.

The $3.27 million project is being done by E.T.& L. Corporation of Stowe. Additional contract work will be completed in the fall months utilizing standard safety and traffic management logistics allowing the bridge to continue to be utilized for travel.

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Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Collaborative to present “Fourth Wave of the Opioid Epidemic” panel discussion

Pittsfield — On Wednesday, Aug. 26, at 6 p.m., the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office and the Berkshire Opioid Addiction Prevention Collaborative will host “Fourth Wave of the Opioid Epidemic: A Public Health Solution,” a virtual presentation from Dr. Daniel Ciccarone of the University of California, San Francisco detailing his street-based research and evidence-based interventions to problem drug use.

District Attorney Andrea Harrington will moderate the discussion, which will feature professor and physician Ciccarone; drug and alcohol counselor Christopher Maschino; Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity neighborhood revitalization director Dubois Thomas; North Adams Tapestry syringe access program manager Samantha Kendall; Healthy Steps harm reduction supervisor Sarah DeJesus; BOAPC coordinator Jennifer Kimball; and Cheshire police officer and Northern Berkshire EMS paramedic Amalio Jusino.

Federal law enforcement and medical experts have warned local municipalities to prepare for the “the fourth wave” of the opioid epidemic. “The fourth wave” signals the rise of stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine alongside ever-present opioids. Federal law enforcement agencies have warned that the flow of illegal drugs into communities will continue to rise and are encouraging municipalities to prepare for “the fourth wave” by addressing the demand for illegal drugs.

Before COVID-19, researchers estimated that 6 percent of Berkshire County residents were addicted to opioids. Local law enforcement agencies have indicated that they are seeing increases in drug overdoses believed to be a result of the stressors associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We continue to be concerned that increased stress, a tanking economy and the unraveling of the social service safety net resulting from the pandemic will worsen our drug problem,” Harrington said. “The punitive War on Drugs model damaged vulnerable families, furthered social inequity and has failed to make our community safer. This is a must-see presentation and discussion for everyone in our community who has been impacted by and/or wants real solutions to problem drug use.”

The presentation will take place via Zoom and be livestreamed on the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office Facebook page and YouTube channel. Those who register and join through Zoom may pose questions during the event. Residents may also submit questions ahead of time by emailing Contact.BerkshireDA@Mass.gov.