Joe and Kathy Arabia speak about Children's Cancer Month. Mass MoCA has lit the upside-down trees with gold lights to recognize the month, said the Arabias.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Three new officers were sworn in as permanent members of the police force and a firefighter was promoted at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Mayor Richard Alcombright has made it a practice to bring the city's public safety personnel into council chambers to be sworn in so that the community can see them on the local access channel, Northern Berkshire Community Television.
On Tuesday, family, friends and colleagues packed into the chambers to see Officers Stephanie Mirante, Kevin Fitzpatrick and Nicholas Felix swear to protect the community and defend the Constitution. They were sworn in by City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau and congratulated by Lt. Jason Wood.
"They have all distinguished themselves through their training, service and commitment," the mayor said.
Firefighter Brent Lefebvre, who passed the state examinations several months ago after 10 years with the city's Fire Department, was promoted to lieutenant and pinned by Fire Director Stephen Meranti.
"He has certainly proven himself beyond reproach with respect to his profession," the mayor said.
Alcombright said he had great respect for the city's officers and firefighters. He talked about Mirante taking a recent on-duty spin around the new UNITY Skate Park (not covered under workman's comp, he said to laughter) as an example of the force's outreach to the community.
"One of the things we've been working on is community policing, making certain that our police are seen in the community not only as those who enforce the law but those who can wrap their arms around and embrace the community positively," he said. "You know I can't tell you the respect I have for our police officers ... the calls they do on any given day, the things they are faced with now [they didn't see] even as many five or six years ago."
He recalled going to a fire scene and seeing a firefighter come running out a burning house and pulling off his equipment because embers were burning his back.
"Those are the kinds of things we don't see as typical residents in the community," the mayor said. "We don't see the cops when they knock on the door and what they might encounter at a call. I just want the community to understand and realize the danger these folks put themselves in each and every day for us, to protect us and the community."
The council also heard from Joseph and Kathy Arabia after the mayor read a proclamation recognizing September as Childhood Cancer Month. Their daughter, Anna Yan Ji Arabia, died of a rare cancer, gliomatosis cerebri. The Arabias established the AJY Fund to support children with cancer and research into gliomatosis cerebri.
The Arabias thanked the community for its support of their efforts.
"The awareness of the facts about childhood cancer is so important because from the awareness comes the funding and from the funding comes effective treatments and safe treatments for our children with cancer," Kathy Arabia said. "Children are different than adults are when diagnosed with cancer."
Childhood cancer is a leading cause of disease-related children's deaths: 43 children a day are diagnosed with cancer in the United States, five die every day and more than 40,000 undergo treatment each year. By the time they are in their 30s and 40s, 95 percent of cancer survivors will have chronic health problems and most will have severe or life-threatening conditions.
Children's cancer is different on a molecular level, Arabia said, and the radiation and chemotherapy children receive does a lot of damage to their little bodies. Many suffer from side effects of treatment.
"Really, what's making a difference for us is when the awareness and advocacy of people helps with legislators, with Congress, to really help to increase funding," she said. "It needs to be dramatically increased and it's such a challenge."
The AYJ Fund holds a number of events to raise funds and awareness each year and has supported two of the first conferences on gliomatosis cerebri. A Cornhole Tournament is set for Saturday, Sept. 30, at noon at Noel Field; last year's event raised more than $12,000. A Once Upon a Dream concert is set for Oct. 28 at MCLA and Anna's Army walks in the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk on Sept. 24.
More information on the fund and upcoming events can be found at www.AYJFund.org.
In other business, the council gave final approval of the removal of two parking meters on American Legion Drive to make way for a bike lane and set a public hearing on Verizon moving a Protection Avenue utility pole 7 feet farther south for Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
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