Library Director Mindy Hackner says the library will develop programming and materials on astronomy with Cariddi's gift.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — No one's quite sure why state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi's left a "mysterious and magical gift" to the library in support of astronomy.
But the city is "very, very grateful for this gift," Mayor Richard Alcombright told the City Council as it voted to accept the amount of $7,465.47.
The check came to the library from the late representative's account at the North Adams Municipal Employees Credit Union and is designated specifically for "Learning Materials on Astronomy Only."
"What is there to say about this mysterious and magical gift from Gail?" Library Director Mindy Hackner said. "Perhaps those who knew her well in this room can answer that question. Why astronomy?"
Why astronomy? No one really knows. The mayor smiled that it's because "Gail always shot for the stars."
Hackner said she and Cariddi had crossed paths on occasion but her apparent love of astronomy had never come up. It was puzzling for a library in the "storytelling business" not to have a story to tell. Maybe, Hackner said, she believed that all of us are stardust, or like some Native Americans that we will meeting again on the path of the Milky Way.
"Or maybe she wanted us to look up from our gadgets and devices and gaze at the night sky in awe and wonder," she said.
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau said the longtime former councilor was interested in genealogy, and particularly what time —- not what day — people were born.
"She always used to tell me it had something to do with the moon," she said. "So I believe that's where her interest came ... Nobody knew that except for my office."
Hackner said the donation (likely the close of Cariddi's account) would be used for materials and programming once a plan is decided.
"We want something lasting, and we're thinking it needs to be the whole library," she said.
The public library also was listed for memorial donations in Cariddi's obituary and gifts are continuing to come in, Hackner said. She planned to meet with Cariddi's sister, Antoinette, before deciding how those monies will be used.
Whatever the reason for the astronomical gift, Hackner said,"she will be remembered as a North Star, constant and true, orienting us toward kindness, humility and service."
In other business on Tuesday, the council approved transfers of $387,499.17 from the Public Service and unclassified accounts to close out debit accounts. The mayor said all the transfers are internal and do not touch reserves.
"This is a very normal use of using credits against debits. ... This is basically saying that our budget is technically in the black," he said, adding the city was anticipating "a pretty healthy number" for free cash this year.
• The council also approved George Sansoucy of George E. Sanscoucy Engineers & Appraisers of Portsmouth, N.H., as a special municipal employee for the purpose of doing consulting work with the assessor's office, particularly regarding the state's central valuation statute. The designation limits him to no more than 800 working hours in a preceding 365 days.
• Local resident David Willette, with the assistance of Peter Breen, gave a presentation on the benefits and ease of establishing dog parks in the city, pointing to the one created last year of Houghton and River streets as an example. He said there are several areas in the city that host a dog park, such as Kemp Park and the area behind the former Incarnation Church.
The council thanked him and referred him to the Parks and Recreation Commission for further discussion.
• An ordinance amendment to have meeting minutes of city boards and commissions published for public access within two weeks of a meeting was referred to the city solicitor. The amendment had been brought forward by the General Government Committee. Councilor Lisa Blackmer endorsed the idea but was concerned about what would happen if board secretaries were unable to comply within the two-week limit.
In relation to that discussion, the mayor asked if the city clerk could give a workshop for boards and committee on agendas and minute taking in an effort to standardize how such documents are presented and ensure they are complying with state law. Blackmer agreed, saying some were still using "old business/new business" without spelling out what that business was to comply with Open Meeting Law.
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