By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle
PITTSFIELD — From the street, only a fresh sign and a dolled-up entry hint at the multimillion-dollar transformation inside.
But make no mistake. It’s flower power time at 501 Dalton Ave. in Pittsfield.
Over the past year, construction crews have turned the nondescript former home of the Salvation Army Family Store, beside Ken’s Bowl, into what’s poised to become Berkshire County’s most lucrative farming address.
In February, the first clusters of cannabis flowers were snipped from laden stems in one of Berkshire Roots’ three massive indoor grow rooms — a third of an acre, in all, of heavily regulated photosynthesis.
And one morning this week, the company’s cultivation manager, Dennis Gibbons, had the next harvest in mind as he stood at the controls of a complex irrigation system and pumps sipped from barrels of nutrients near a 5,500-gallon emergency water supply.
Just months ago, store workers under this roof were sorting through castoff clothing.
Today, after a roughly $5 million investment, securing local and state approvals and working through a mini-Greylock of paperwork, cannabis flowers and products are reaching customers who hold state-issued medical marijuana cards.
This week, the new dispensary’s retail staff has been seeing customers by appointment, testing their computer systems and complying with the state Department of Public Health’s “virtual gateway” ahead of a full opening in the days ahead.
In a surprise move Friday, the company’s board changed staffing at the top, ousting its chief executive officer, John E. Mullen IV.
A spokeswoman, Jane Rohman, said interim management is in place. That staff includes Dennis Depaolo, its chief operating officer and former director of cultivation for Maine Organic Therapy Inc. She declined to say why Mullen no longer is with the company and said Berkshire Roots continues its countdown to opening at 11 a.m. April 7.
Mullen said that before