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The students made thank you cards to hand out to the veterans.
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Lanesborough Elementary to Veterans: Breakfast Is On Us

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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This student saluted during the National Anthem. 
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The kindergarten class led the way, the preschoolers followed with flags held high — and teachers reminding them not to let them hit the ground.
They stood in the cafeteria and looked over a crowd of some 75 armed service veterans and began singing patriotic songs. When they finished, they had handmade cards of thanks to give to each and every one who attended.
Meanwhile, the third-graders were going from table to table asking, "would you like more coffee, sir?" The first-graders were waiting outside the door, ready to perform their own songs. 
The scene was the annual Veterans Breakfast at Lanesborough Elementary School. The annual event is a schoolwide initiative to thank the town's veterans and has been a longstanding tradition in the school.
"Kids love it. It is a great thing for them to understand that Veterans Day is not about a day off. It means much more. This is a big tradition here," said third-grade teacher Anna Mello, who headed the effort.
Cafeteria workers put together a special meal with eggs, pancakes, and the rest of a traditional breakfast. The students lined up and served the guests. At the tables, there were placemats drawn and colored by the second-graders. The fifth-graders made cards. The younger ages made flags. The wall was decorated with student artwork honoring the country and the veterans and a wall of honor was built recognizing the town's veterans by name. The chorus led the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, under the direction of the music teacher.
"We had as young as pre-K in here today, singing a song. The kindergarten teachers are teaching respect to the flag and holding flags up high and not touching the ground. It gives them a sense of community and sense of belonging. It is really important across the grades," Mello said. 
Every grade level had some role in the event that has been growing each year. The 75 veterans in the audience were double that of about a decade ago and the celebration has been held for at least 15 years.  
"It is a big deal here. To us, nothing is more important than our veterans," Mello said.
Principal Martin McEvoy called it a "little token of our great appreciation" but says the effort provides lessons to the students as well. While the focus is on veterans, it is also opened up to police, fire, and emergency medical technicians who also put themselves in harm's way to help the community.
"It teaches the kids that it is really important to not always look for the easy way out and to persevere in the face of hardship. The veterans are our heroes because they exemplify personal sacrifice for a larger goal, larger than themselves. They really embody what it means to be unselfish and putting others before yourself. That's a great characteristic for our kids to have," McEvoy said. 
"The veterans will keep at it until the goal is done. They are great role models."

The students didn't just entertain, but also worked as servers.
Concurrently, the school is collecting donations for the veterans food pantry in Berkshire Village. The pantry feeds not only veterans but people in need all over Berkshire County. But keeping up with the demand is hard so the school is collecting donations to help them out as well.
"They are always in desperate need for food. They never turn anyone away whether it is a veteran or not. They have their challenges so we're doing that," Mello said.
The students individually thanked each veteran, escorted them to tables, and held the doors on the way in and out, wishing everyone a happy Veterans Day. The two-hour breakfast was greatly appreciated by those in attendance.
 "I think it is appropriate that somebody from our group say thank you for all of these smiling faces, the wonderful help — more coffee, sir? more juice, sir? — and compliments to the girls in the kitchen, wonderful breakfast," said Marvin Michalak, who took to the microphone to thank the collective school body for their effort, calling it a "job well done."
The veterans had all been personally invited, and pupils had given invitations to their veteran relatives.
"It is just a beautiful day when we can just give back a little token of our great appreciation," McEvoy said.

Tags: holiday story,   LES,   veterans,   

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Lanesborough Select Board Approves Transfer for Town Hall Repairs

By Brian RhodesiBerkshires Staff

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Select Board has approved a fund transfer to pay for repairs to the foundation of town hall. 


Town Administrator Joshua Lang shared with the board a quote from Diversified Construction Services of $6,300 for the needed repairs at the rear of the building's foundation. 


"I have looked for grants, I reached out to FEMA. I haven't found any grants where this would qualify yet," he said. 


The town already approved funding for several town hall upgrades at a special town meeting last January. The board made the transfer from this account, with the intention of replenishing it from free cash at an upcoming special town meeting. 


DPW Director Charlie Durfee said the work would likely be less expensive if done before the winter. Board Chair John Goerlach agreed. 


"It would certainly be nice to get it done prior to waiting all winter," he said.


In other business: 


  • Police Station Committee Chair Kristen Tool updated the board on the committee's progress with the combined police and ambulance building project. She said Architect Brian Humes has been working on preliminary drawings for a facility for several weeks, which she hopes to show at a planned public informational meeting.


"Once that's finalized, it will be made public and we can start planning our public meetings," she said. "With the election cycle ending now, it's more clear which politicians we need to be reaching out to about funding, so that's helpful. 


The committee has been in contact with state Senator-elect Paul Mark, who Tool said has been helpful and responsive. 


"He's aware of our situation here; he's aware of the size of our town, the needs of our town," she said. "So it's been helpful to have him in our corner." 


Tool said it is important for the board to be more involved in discussions with public officials about grant funding for the project. Board Member Timothy Sorrell suggested the town reach out to someone from Governor-elect Maura Healey's staff.  


"She's out here in the Berkshires saying she wants to help Western Mass," he said. "I think we're pretty close to the top of the list." 


  • The board endorsed a town Beach Volunteer Committee, which a group of interested volunteers proposed at a previous meeting. Lang said the town can endorse the group, given it stays under town control, for little-to-no insurance costs to the town.  


"If they are looking for the town's full [insurance] limits, then it's a $500 annual charge. It would also be recommended to have the volunteers sign a waiver," he said. "In simple form, my recommendation would be you can add the endorsement, have members interested submit a citizen interest form, and then this board could name them. And they would have to complete similar things as other committees do." 


The citizen interest form, Lang said, will be posted to the town website. 


  • Resident Deborah Maynard wrote a letter to the board about supporting the proposed cannabis facility at the Berkshire Mall. She read the letter in public comment, saying she did a lot of research before writing it. 


Maynard attended the community outreach meeting for the proposal last month. She cited the effect community impact fees, as part of a host community agreement with the town, would have on the town's revenue, providing a chart of the mall's owed tax revenue over the last few decades.  


"When this building is restored and opened, the assessment will go back up, and this will make an impact on our town real estate taxes," she said. "In its current condition, the mall property is becoming a hazard to the surrounding community." 


She said she believes there is plenty of water available to support the facility based on her work experience. 


  • The board approved an updated application for community events. The application requires more advanced notice of the event, which Lang said should allow enough time for proper planning with the town. 


"This will hopefully allow us to walk through the steps and make sure that we have a good understanding of the event, mitigate the town's risk, and make sure that the host of the event has a successful event," Lang said. 


Board Member Michael Murphy suggested a stipulation if an event needs approval on shorter notice. Lang said he would update the application to add such language, making it the board's discretion. 


  • The board voted to send a letter to the state about the possibility of putting guard rails near the mall connector Road intersection. Goerlach said he has discussed the issue before. 


  • The board approved the appointment of Maggie Jennings to the Conservation Commission, as recommended by the commission. 


  • Tool Agricultural Commission Alternate Member, as Recommended by the Committee


  • The board voted to wait to approve updated fees for the Board of Health, pending being able to discuss with them for more information. 


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