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Sue Bush
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Bosley: “We Should Just Be People”

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, September 09, 2005

Northern Berkshire Community Coalition Executive Director Alan Bashevkin and state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley Jr. D-North Adams at the NBCC Sept. 9 meeting.
North Adams – State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley D-North Adams called for unity and collaboration among all people during a Sept. 9 Northern Berkshire Community Coalition meeting focused on Hurricane Katrina and the storm’s far-reaching consequences.

“We need to act collectively,” Bosley said to a crowd of about 70 people assembled at the First Baptist Church. “There shouldn’t be red and blue states. We should just be people.”

Constructive Outlets for Outrage

Bosley offered powerful comments about the hurricane and its’ aftermath in response to an emotional query from a meeting participant. Bosley was asked to identify a constructive use for any outrage being experienced as a result of a painfully slow government response to the disaster.

A voice from the crowd called out “impeachment!,” which ignited applause from the meeting assembly.

Several voices were then raised in unison to charge that no one person is to blame for the failures.

“Right now, I would be ok with blaming one person,” Bosley said.

Bosley said that he was in Canada visiting a friend during the days just before and just after the hurricane struck the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He said that he watched events leading up to the storm as well as the chaos that ensued soon after the storm departed, and added that he cannot understand the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials claims that they were unaware of situations including the deplorable conditions at the Superdome.

FEMA should have had an inkling of what could occur because storm warnings were publicized well in advance of Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, he said.

Planned emergency responses failed to launch for a variety of reasons, Bosley noted, and added that while he believes President George Bush “cannot say this,” the number of troops stationed in Iraq reduced available forces on the homefront.

“It is possible to support the troops without supporting the war,” Bosley said.

Legislative Hearing Set for Sept. 19

Bosley stated his concerns about the price of gasoline and heating fuel. A Sept. 19 State House hearing about the issue has been scheduled, he said.

Bosley called for the immediate release of federal low-income heating assistance funds so that fuel can be purchased before anticipated price hikes take hold. It’s also time “to stop horsing around in Iraq,” Bosley said.

“I went to Boston and paid $3.09 a gallon [for gasoline] and I was happy about it,” Bosley said, and added that he’s seen higher prices elsewhere in the state. “What disturbed me was the sign that said diesel was $3.09, too.”

Diesel is very similar to home heating fuel, Bosley said.

He noted the interruption in fuel production caused by the hurricane, and the tumultuous fuel market that existed prior to the storm’s strike.

“This impacts us, but how it impacts us and for how long is anybody’s guess,” Bosley said.

U.S. Congressman John W. Olver D-Amherst was represented at the meeting by Rhonda Serre. Olver is being treated for a serious infection and is expected to make a full recovery, Serre said. Olver's constituents are reporting feelings reminiscent of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, she said.

“What we’re starting to see is people are reliving the stress of 9/11,” Serre said. “It’s bringing our stress and anxiety back.”

Serre offered hurricane donation and volunteer information packets to those at the meeting.

Impacts Already felt in Northern Berkshires

Local storm and fuel price impacts were shared during the meeting.

The city-based Berkshire Share food initiative is in need of donations because high fuel prices are depleting the program budget. Food used in the program’s food bundles is transported from Hadley, Mass.; the price spike is draining the funds.

City resident Beverly Goodell said that a service and assistance dog training facility in Mississippi sustained severe kennel damage when tornados tore through the area. Goodell is among those who were anticipating acquiring an assistance dog.

Several displaced hurricane families are set to move to the Spruces mobile home park in Williamstown. The park’s recreation center will be open daily beginning Sept. 10 from 7 a.m. until midnight to accept donations of goods such as clothing, house wares, and other items needed by the new park residents. For further information, contact Susan Fabregas at 413-458-5327.

Assistance Efforts Mount

A relief effort sponsored by the “Feed the Children” organization is being led by Holly Hardman of Williamstown. Donations of non-perishable food items, baby food, diapers, bottled water, cleaning supplies, flashlights, batteries, personal hygiene supplies, non-prescription medicines and medical supplies and equipment, and school supplies are being accepted during daylight hours seven days a week at Hardman’s 246 Stratton Road home and at 107 Main St., North Adams, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mon.-Sat.. The Main Street space is being donated by Wendy Carver of Scarafoni Associates.

A truck is expected to pick up the supplies at Hardman’s home on Sept. 23.
Additional information is available by calling Hardman at 413-458-9458.

Corinne Case is the chairwoman for a First United Methodist Church [Williamstown] “bucket brigade” endeavor that is collecting cleaning supplies destined for hurricane-ravaged regions. Donations of cleansers such as bleach may be dropped at the 777 Main St. church during regular business hours Mon.-Fri., and also on Sunday mornings. Supplies will be assembled into kits on Sept. 20 and will then be taken to the Trinity United Methodist Church in Springfield as a first stop on the journey to the Gulf Coast.

Case is also a member of a “Mother’s Prayer for Peace” group and invited anyone interested in community prayer to attend weekly 10 a.m. Tuesday morning meetings.

Case may be reached by calling 413-743-7455.

During the meeting, Case said she was upset by the lack of response to “the invisible people” who waited day after day for help.

“I just feel so upset that these people have been victimized by our lack of vision,” she said.

Remember Local Need

Mistinguette Y. Smith, director of programs for the Hatfield-based Food Bank, a Second Harvest food bank, asked that people remember to donate food to be used locally. She encouraged individuals to contact FEMA and make their feelings about the agency’s hurricane response known.

“We own FEMA,” she said. “I would like to encourage all of us to communicate what we’re thinking to FEMA.”

Author Joe Manning asked that people try to keep track of the money being donated and how it is used.

“We have to be careful,” he said. “A lot of people will get rich off the [Gulf Coast] reconstruction just like in Iraq.”

He referred to media coverage of the situation as an example of “the flavor of the month,” and urged those at the meeting against an out of sight, out of mind mentality.

“When this goes off the television, it hasn’t stopped,” he said of the devastation and need for assistance.

Bosley said that he met with officials of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative on Sept. 8 and discussed renewable energy resources.

City Council candidate Eric Buddington told those at the meeting that a small biodiesel production firm is manufacturing the fuel in Greenfield, Mass..

Area efforts on behalf of the hurricane victims are admirable and generous, Bosley said. He emphasized that the storm’s ripple effect will take a trip to the Northern Berkshires.

“There are people here who are going to be impacted,” Bosley said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if the compassionate people who’ve gotten so much going in the past week could keep it going.”

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at or at 802-823-9367.

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