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North Adams Library Looks Into Cariddi Beacon

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The library trustees will consider placing a light in the belvedere in memory of state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi.
 
Trustee Chairwoman Robin Martin told the rest of the board last week that she has solicited input from the public and those close to Cariddi and there was a consensus that something visual should be done to memorialize the late state representative at the library.
 
"Just something that is there all of the time as a memorial to Gail while we are doing everything else," she said at Wednesday's meeting. "Something that people can see, like a beacon ... I think it would be a nice thing to do."
 
The state representative and former city councilor passed away in 2017 and left a considerable amount of money to the city. Cariddi left the library $175,000 from her estate plus a $7,500 gift to go toward establishing an astronomy program.
 
Just last month, the city approached the library and requested to use the bulk of the funds to ready the building for a substantial repair project to address lingering structural and maintenance needs in the 150-year-old mansion.   
 
The trustees thought it was OK to use some of the money to address building repairs but felt the bequest should also address programming and operational needs.
 
They have yet to really pinpoint where they want these funds to go. Martin noted that some of these needs may not be as apparent but a light in the tower would be something to look at that would connect people to Cariddi.
 
The trustees thought some sort of solar light that was not too obtrusive would do the trick.
 
Martin said when the trustees figure out where they want to put the majority of the money toward, a plaque would be in order.
 
"We want it to be done in a way so that in 20 years people are going to know what Gail's money did," Martin said. "Whatever big thing we decide to do we can put a plaque on the wall. Something to show what she has done."
 
Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo was happy to report that if they go ahead with a light in the belvedere it will be weather-tight and that the city plans to fix its broken window that for years has been open to the elements and wildlife.  
 
In the short term, Trustee Tara Jacobs suggested placing the money in an account where it could pick up some interest. 
 
"It would be great for the money to make money," she said. "It would have more longevity and have an output."
 
The trustees thought it was worth investigating but not confident it would gain any significant interest.  
 
In Sanfilippo's report, she said the Library Land Project visited and reviewed the library on its Berkshire County tour.
 
"They go around and visit libraries and rate them," Sanfilippo said. "They kind of rate you as a co-working place, which not all libraries fair well at ...They were pleasant and gave us a decent review."
 
Adam Zand and Greg Peverill-Conti, a public relations agency principals of SharpOrange, mostly work out of public libraries instead of a traditional office. As a side project the visit libraries throughout the country and review them.
 
Since 2017 they have visited over 200 libraries in Massachusetts. Their goal is to visit every library in the state. 
 
Their criteria looks at elements such as friendliness, accessibility, comfort, condition, wifi, and transportation. Their goal is to encourage people to love their libraries. Their Berkshire County Library review can be read here.
 
The trustees would like to clean out the basement and sell off hundreds of old library Christmas ornaments and puzzles. 
 
"That was way back in the '90s, I think the trustees had 5,000 of each done," Martin said of the puzzles. "They thought they would sell like hotcakes and they did for a while ... they are pretty but I don't think they ever earned their money back."
 
She said each time they ordered more of the ornaments and puzzles they would order thousands and the overstock has just sat in the basement for 20-plus years.
 
The trustees voted to sell the memorabilia at discounted prices.
 
Also, she said the new energy-efficient lighting has been completely installed. 
 
"It was not every light ... but it makes a huge difference," she said. "You can actually read now in the rooms where the lights have gone out."
 
The lights were purchased through the city's Green Communities grant.

Tags: Cariddi,   NAPL,   

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North Adams Council Puts Brakes on Sale of Sullivan School

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff

Councilor Rebbecca Cohen takes the gavel when both the president and vice president had to recuse themselves from the Sullivan sale discussion. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council hit the brakes on the sale of Sullivan School on Tuesday night, saying the proposal to transform the vacant elementary school into an advanced manufacturing training center needed further discussion. Two other bids were accepted with little debate.
 
 
A locally organized group of businesses and entrepreneurs operating as Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing Training and Education Center, or BAMTEC, bid $1 for the 50-year-old building but their proposal says they will be investing $11 million into the building and another $3 million in equipment. The Kemp Avenue property is assessed at $2.1 million.
 
"There's an expression of raising a lot of money but I don't see anyone writing a lot of checks," said Councilor Wayne Wilkinson, recommending the proposal go to committee for review, adding, "there's a lot more information needs to be known before we move forward with this."
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