NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Alma Benedetti was honored on Friday morning for her many years of making the city beautiful with the planting of a lilac tree at the entrance of Windsor Lake.
The longtime tree commissioner and retired art teacher was joined by family, friends and city officials (and a very busy woodpecker) as the Tree Commission celebrated Arbor Day in the city. Drury High School freshmen Catherine Record, Allison Meehan and Morgan Michaels provided musical selections under the guidance of music teacher Christopher Caproni.
The former chairman of the commission has helped to honor others on Arbor Day, but commission member Erica Uchman described her as "the most deserving honoree."
Fellow Commissioner Christine Petri spoke of Benedetti's other activities, including teaching art to so many residents who had been educated in the North Adams school system.
"For 35 years, she was not only on the Tree Commission but also the Garden Club and is currently on the board of the Friends of the Library," said Petri.
Alma Benedetti, right, poses with her brother-in-law Louis Zocchi and nieces Mary and Louise Zocchi.
Uchman said she and Benedetti had worked on many projects over the years and while she had been surprised to learn Benedetti's age, she joked she wouldn't reveal it now. (Benedetti graduated from then North Adams State Teachers College in 1937.)
Reading from a large card she'd made for her friend, Uchman said, "serving with you quite a few years gave me the opportunity to find out what a special lady you are ... I admire so much how you devoted yourself to be the ideal chairperson; how you pursued all responsibilities as diverse as they could be ...
"In my book, you will always be the lovely, contributing, so-devoted chairperson of the North Adams Tree Commission."
Benedetti, after posing for some "shovel photos" by the already- planted tree, said she'd worked with some very dedicated people over the years. "We've planted over 200 trees," she said and, as a member of the Garden Club, helped install the garden on Union Street at the entrance to the city.
Her walks take her up by Fish Pond so she'll see the now-budded lilac coming into bloom.
"I wanted something flowering," said Benedetti. "So this was a good choice."
Mayor Richard Alcombright read a proclamation declaring May 13 as Arbor Day in the city and that called for residents to "support the effort to protect our trees and woodlands."
"Thank you so much for your service and dedication over the years," he said to Benedetti. "You set a true example of volunteerism and what is really meaningful in our community. It's really what makes a community like ours succeed."
The city gets a jump-start on the county's holiday season by lighting Main Street's two Christmas trees on Thanksgiving Eve.
Mayor Richard Alcombright will take his first turn at flipping the switch to light up the downtown on Wedneday, Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m. at Monument Square.
The celebration includes, of course, the Drury High School band directed by Chris Caproni, the arrival of Santa Claus on the historic North Adams Trolley bearing gifts of coloring books, crayons, candy canes and scavenger hunt maps of downtown businesses. Goodie bags will be handed out to the first 500 children.
Afterward, the band will go caroling along the downtown, kicking off the monthlong "North Adams Hometown Holidays" event, an initiative of the North Adams downtown merchants and Develop North Adams to showcase the shopping and services available in the city — and to encourage residents to buy local.
The evening will include a treasure hunt within participating businesses for the kids, drawings and music, plus a marshmallow roast, hot cocoa and treats and an appearance by "Jolly the Reindeer."
Window displays are already going up throughout the downtown (the best will get an award later in the month) and plans are to stay open on the traditional Thursday nights (Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23) when downtown patrons can search for the "mystery shopper" to win a prize. Look for clues to the shopper's identity on iBerkshires (we'll let you know when they post).
On Dec. 2, city galleries will open their doors for "DownStreet Art on Ice," featuring the 99-cent-and-up art sale at MCLA Gallery 51 (get there early because the bargains go fast) and other related activities.
Specials and sponsorships for Hometown Holiday events are offered by Shima, the Party Place, Desperados, Bark 'N' Cat, Creations, Elf Parlor, Persnickety Toys, Christo's Famous Pizza, Jack's Hot Dogs, K-M Motors, Mia's Consignment, Martha Flood Design, Gallery 51, Empire Antiques, Papyri Books, Edward Jones and Dilego's Jewelry Store. Tranquil Moments Day Spa, Petrino's Cafe, Holiday Inn and Richmond Grille, Physical Therapy of North Adams, I Got Goodies, Dion Money Management and Supreme Pizza and Wings also offer specials and/or sponsorship.
Other sponsors include Develop North Adams, the city of North Adams, the North Adams Transcript, and Donovan and O'Connor, Attorneys at Law. The North Adams Office of Tourism is grateful to Landmark Credit Union, Cascade School Supplies, Big Y Supermarket and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts for their help in staging the tree lighting.
For more information about the tree lighting or any city event, contact the North Adams Office of Tourism at 413-664-6180.
Downtown is getting spruced up. Or should we said "mapled up"? After most of the trees were hacked away on Main Street, the city is back to replanting.
The center median on Main Street will now feature pear trees and Eagle Street is getting some new maples.
Massive tree removal and replacement are part of a $3.2 million streetscape project to renovate downtown. Many of the removed trees were endangering the sidewalks and others were likely to be damaged because of construction.
The streetscape project won't be completed until summer 2011. It includes the laying of new conduit, sidewalks, lighting and traffic signals along River, Main, Eagle, Holden and Marshall streets, Route 2 and American Legion Drive.
New decorative streetlights have been installed on the lower end of Union Street near and traffic signaling will be installed on the massive columns placed at strategic intersections within the downtown.
City workers installed the main Christmas tree for the holiday season at Monument Square on Wednesday. The tree was donated by Joe and Martha Curro of Minor Road in Lanesborough.
It took about an hour to place the fir tree, which had to be trimmed down to 32 feet so the city's bucket truck could reach the top to trim it with lights.
A second, smaller tree came from Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Vachereau of Clarksburg for the island at the intersection of Marshall and Main streets. The annual tree lighting will be held on early evening on Wednesday, Nov. 24, the day before Thanksgiving.
Clockwise from top: The tree arrives at Monument Square; trimming the trunk to fit the hole; a handful of people were watching; guiding the tree in with one hand.
Have a the perfect Christmas tree on your property — that you'd like to get off it?
The city needs two big fir trees to bookend Main Street for the holiday season. The trees must be between 25 and 35 feet in height; they will be placed at the traffic island on near City Hall and at Monument Square.
The annual lighting is usually held the first week in December with caroling, cocoa, and music from the Drury High School band. Mr. and Mrs. Claus are also known to make an appearance.
Trees will be sought from the Northern Berkshire area through the first week of November. To donate a tree, call Fire Director Steve Meranti at 413-662-3103 or 413-662-3155. The latter number is available 24 hours a day. Leave a message and someone will return the call as soon as possible.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.