ADAMS, Mass. — George Haddad, Selectman Jim Bush and American Legion Post 160 hope to honor Adams veterans with a recently announced project they hope to have up and running by Memorial Day.
"Banners for Fallen Heroes" would honor any service member from the town who died while serving their country as far back as World War I. The banners would be hung from utility poles downtown and perhaps stretching to the Route 8 corridor toward Cheshire. They would include a picture of the individual plus their years of service and the conflict in which they served.
The details are not completely finalized but in a meeting at Adams Town Hall last week, members of the organizing committee outlined their plans and hit on some of the obstacles.
"I was driving in New York a while ago and kept noticing all these pictures of veterans and it kind of perked my interest so I went to Jim to see if this was something the town could do here. I loved the idea, I thought it was something the townspeople would have great support for," said Haddad.
The New York communities of Watervliet and Troy began installing sponsored honor banners several years ago and, more recently, Grafton has as well along Route 2.
Bush loved the idea and got the ball rolling by getting the American Legion involved. Post 160 was celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2019 and had recently installed a photo retrospective in the main lobby of Town Hall. Part of this exhibit was a booklet of baseball card-like photos of hundreds of local service members dating from World War I.
"I thought it was a great idea so I told him 'Let's pursue this' and I got a hold of John (Moyer from Post 160) and we got the ball rolling," he said. "We started with phone calls to companies to see if they could make the banners and how feasible it was. We settled on a company and we have a list that the Legion supplied of all the fallen veterans they know of. It's moving fast."
"The biggest snag is that we need someone from the families to sign a release form. We can't just put someone's picture up downtown without permission. When you start going back to the World Wars, this can become difficult," he added.
Both Haddad and Bush said Post 160's help has been vital and cited Post historian John Bordeau in particular. Moyer was at Thursday's meeting and explained what the Post's role is and will be going forward.
"What we have to figure out is, because we have all the pictures already and a lot of info, we have to find the families the best we can to see if they are interested. A lot of the stuff we have already so we are close, but it's the getting permission part, which we think most people wouldn't have a problem with obviously, but it's tracking them down in many cases," Moyer explained.
"We got through the easy part, counting the poles, getting the names, figuring out the potential cost, the hard part is right now. Some families are still local and some aren't unfortunately," Haddad added.
Although nothing specific to cost was discussed, Haddad said he hopes a project like this would gain almost unanimous support from residents. He doesn't see it being a big-ticket item but there will be a small cost involved with procuring the banners and hardware along with labor by the Department of Public Works to hang them.
The Troy program charges $200, Grafton $130 and Watervliet $150, with a $100 replacement charge since the banners have a lifespan of three to four years. All three programs also accept donations to defray costs.
"We're hoping we can get money through grants but if we can't, we hope the town would support it. We certainly aren't going out soliciting funds but if someone wanted to donate we would certainly accept it," Haddad said. "I would hope it would be important enough that people would feel good spending a little money to maintain this every year."
The Legion estimates around 70 Adams residents have been killed in action since WWI. The committee knows it won't be able to track down all the families of the fallen heroes but hopes a call to the public for help will widen the net and get the word out.
"If anyone is interested, or knows someone who is interested, they can call Adams Town Hall and talk to Deb Dunlap and she will have a copy of the permission form and will pass that information on to us. We will then get in touch with them," Bush said. "There is no cost to participate for the families."
The committee wants to have the banners installed by Memorial Day. The plan is to put them up every Memorial Day and take them down just after Veterans Day.
Although the communities just over the border in New York have already been honoring their fallen veterans with this program, Adams would be the first to do it locally in Massachusetts.
"I hope if we can get this going maybe the other towns would follow suit. It would be great to have the whole Route 8 corridor involved," Bush said.
Anyone interested in participating can call Adams Town Hall at 413-743-8300, Ext.100, or the American Legion at 413-743-1469.
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Adams Aiming for Summer Reopening of Public Buildings
By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The town is hoping to fully reopen by July, depending on public health data.
Town Administrator Jay Green told the Select Board on Wednesday that although he does not foresee completely opening until the summer, he thought it was time to start planning.
Green said currently the town is in the yellow level of the state's COVID-19 categories and that he would not be comfortable opening until the town is consistently in the green or, even better, gray. The levels run from red for high transmission and positive cases to gray at the lowest level.
"As long as we are in the red or yellow, that indicates the presence of COVID-19 at a level that could promote community spread," Green said. "As you can see there are a lot of communities opening up, but we are a little behind. Is it conservative? Yes but I think we are almost there."
Fire Chief John Pansecchi said with recruitment numbers dipping into the 20s and less availability among current members, the Alert Hose Company is trying to open its doors to a younger generation.
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The town had filed a continuance notice of intent requesting information on whether the demolition and removal of the damaged culvert pipe near the intersection of Davis Street and Lime Street is subject to the Wetlands Protection Act.
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