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From left to right: Great Barrington firefighter Robert Gaughran, Lt. Darrell Marks, firefighter Justin Bona, Chief Charles Burger and graduating firefighters Michael Bissaillon and Iovan DeRis. Photo courtesy Great Barrington Fire Department

News Briefs: Firefighters graduate from call/volunteer academy; building permits spike; MassDOT bikeability guide

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By Thursday, Nov 8, 2018 News

Firefighters graduate from call/volunteer academy

Great Barrington — Great Barrington Fire Department Chief Charles Burger has announced that two firefighters graduated from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy‘s call/volunteer program.

At the Oct. 29 ceremony, call firefighters Mike Bissaillon and Iovan DeRis graduated alongside call and volunteer firefighters from throughout Massachusetts.

The call/volunteer academy program is a rigorous 240-hour course that is held twice per week as well as most weekends over a four-month period at the academy’s Springfield campus. Time is spent in the classroom and on the drill yard, where students acquire the basic knowledge and skills for firefighting. All of the training concludes with live firefighting in the burn building. Participants graduated with their Firefighter I and II and Hazmat – Operations Level Responder certifications.

Bissaillon is a husband and father of four, as well as a personal trainer and owner of CrossFit Great Barrington. DeRis is a husband and father of three, and is a contractor who owns the Great Barrington Building Company.

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Building inspections spike in 2018, along with permit revenues

Great Barrington — A spike in building permits during the 2018 fiscal year brought the town $262,082, nearly $100,000 more than FY 2017. Since 2008, building permit receipts have risen by nearly $200,000 in permit revenue.

Building inspector Ed May attributes the increased revenue and inspection work to a wave of commercial investment and construction in Great Barrington, along with some high-end homes in the area.

With increasing demand for building permits comes increasing demand on the inspection staff. May now has an assistant building inspector in the office and together in 2018, they handled 684 building permits, up from 576 in 2017. In 2008, 373 permits were issued.

Most of the new construction in town that began with 2018 building permits has not yet made its way to the town’s tax rolls. The Powerhouse Square condominiums and the new Berkshire Food Co-op, for instance, are still under construction downtown, as is South Main Street apartment complex Bostwick Gardens.

A building permit is required not just for construction work but for a range of property improvements such roof work, swimming pools, chimney liners, insulation, window installation, solar panels installation, sheds, tends, fire alarms, fences, new siding and signs.

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MassDOT posts online bike-related guide

Boston — The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has posted the draft Municipal Resource Guide for Bikeability so the public may comment on the Commonwealth’s effort to provide cities and towns with the tools and information needed to provide safe, comfortable and convenient bike networks that appeal to the broadest base of people.

The guide is a companion document to the Statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan currently in development that will recommend policies, programs and projects for MassDOT to guide decision-making and capital investments with the goals of creating high-comfort connected bike networks for people of all ages and abilities, as well as increasing the convenience and attractiveness of biking.

The guide was developed based on feedback received from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, regional planning agencies, representatives from state and local government, bicycle organizations, and the public. The guide complements the Municipal Resource Guide for Walkability.

The guide provides the following information:

  • Why bikeability is important and the potential for bicycling in Massachusetts;
  • Best practices for planning and maintaining connected bicycle networks;
  • Case studies on municipalities that have created transportation infrastructure that promotes bikeability such as bike lanes, bikeshare and bike parking; and
  • Collecting and evaluating bicycle-related data.

MassDOT is soliciting public comment on the draft document until Saturday, Dec. 1. Comments can be sent to Pete Sutton, MassDOT bicycle and pedestrian program coordinator, at peter.sutton@state.ma.us.

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