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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Berkshire Profile: Paul Vallone

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Sunday, July 23, 2006

Paul Vallone of Clarkburg is a volunteer firefighter and a MASS-CALL Region Five vice-president.
Clarksburg - Paul Vallone, 41, may not be a "jack of all trades" but he certainly could be described as having tackled many jobs.

Working Man

The 1984 Mount Greylock Regional High School graduate has worked as a farmhand at a produce farm and a working dairy farm and also worked as a construction worker for the Allegrone Construction Co..

Vallone was once a custodian at the Lanesboro Elementary School and drove a wheelchair accessible vehicle for the County Ambulance Service. He also worked at the Aladco laundry service. He was an employee at Boyd Coventry, until budget issues generated a lay-off of 12 employees that included Vallone, he said.

For the past five years, he has been an employee of the Curran Highway Wal-mart store.

"People can say what they want about Wal-mart," Vallone said during a July 22 interview at his Middle Road home. "They've given me a steady job."

A "Connection" At First Sight

Vallone is a Pittsfield native who attended the Westside Community School during his elementary school years. He attended South Junior High School and enrolled at MGRHS after the family moved to Lanesboro.

He married town native Brenda Hewitt in 1997.

"I met Brenda through a friend of her brother Kevin," Vallone said. "We had a connection right away. She was from this area [Northern Berkshires] and I started spending more time up here right then."

The couple have two children, eight-year-old Amanda and four-year-old Brandon. Brenda Vallone is employed as a dental assistant and office manager for Dr. Leonard Rosenthal, an area dentist.

MASS-CALL Region Five Vice-President

Vallone's passion is community service as a member of the town volunteer fire department. He is a Region Five vice-president for the Massachusetts Call/Volunteer Firefighters Association.

The MASS-CALL association was founded in 1990 after about 40 on-call and volunteer firefighters who represented 14 southeastern Massachusetts volunteer fire companies met to discuss issues. Those issues included a state-generated 1987 exclusion of volunteer firefighters from state death and disability benefits. The present day organization now has about 6300 members from about 202 state-based fire departments. The group serves as an advocate for on-call and volunteer firefghters.

Vallone is proud to be a MASS-CALL vice-president, he said. He has held the post since 2001 and said he believes he is the longest-serving Region Five vice-president.

He served the Lanesboro Volunteer Fire Department for 12 years before joining the town department in 1996, Vallone said.

Fire department service was important to his family; his father had served as a Lanesboro fire department captain, his mother was an emergency medical technician and his sisters are also involved with the Lanesboro fire department, he said.

He became interested in the MASS-CALL post when the Region Five vice-presidency became available, he said.

"[Firefighter] Tom Therrien and I used to go to regional MASS-CALL meetings," Vallone said. "One of the vice-presidents stepped down and they wanted someone to fill the spot."

Pacing Himself

The responsibilities are time-consuming, Vallone said.

"The key thing is to pace yourself," he said. "In the beginning, you want to do everything at once and you learn that you can't."

Vallone writes columns from time to time that are posted on a MASS-CALL Internet web site titled "Smoke Shown.'" Vallone also posts photographs on the web site.

Vallone launched the New England Fire Photo Service, accessible on the Internet, in 2005, he said. The site came as the result of another project, he said.

"I was trying to get a scrapbook started for the [CVFD] company," he said, and added that he believed firefighters from the New England region might enjoy reviewing photographs from a number of fire departments.

He is presently trying to generate a web site for firefighters who are serving in Iraq, Vallone said. The site allows the firefighters to post their name, address, and other pertinent information so that care packages or letters can be sent, Vallone said.

The site may be accessed at a http://health.groups.yahoo.com address. Enter the words "firefighter" and "Iraq" into the "search" box that appears on the page.

Brenda Vallone said that her husband is often very busy with firefighting pursuits and acknowledged that his efforts do mean less time spent with family.

But his efforts, as well as those of all volunteer firefighters, are invaluable to the community at large, she said.

"It is great for the community and it sets a great example for the kids," she said.

Recently, the family visited local sites such as Cascade Falls and Tannery Falls for the first time. The excursions reminded the family of the region's beauty and scenic treasures, Paul and Brenda Vallone said.

It's All Good

One of the advantages of Northern Berkshires life is the ability to live within seven minutes of downtown North Adams and about 10 minutes from true wilderness areas. Add to that the excellence of the town elementary school, said Brenda Vallone.

"The lifestyle is good and the school is good," she said.

"We are going to be in the area for a long time," said Paul Vallone. "You don't always know what you have right here in your backyard until you look for it."

His love of community service was instilled in him by his father, who was a firm believer in serving those in need, Vallone said.

"I am glad to help whenever and however I can," Vallone said. "When my father was alive, he bent over backward for people, helping out whenever he could. You learn that if you go through life treating people that way, that's the way life will treat you."

Information about the MASS-CALL association is available at a www.mcfva.org/ Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.

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