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The Day of Service in North County ends with the presentation of the Peacemaker Award to James Bush of Adams.
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More than 200 people participated in the day, including community service at area organizations.
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North Berkshire MLK Committee Recognizes Adams Selectman

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The day offered activities at the gym including making care bags for the homeless, making scarves and mittens, creating cards for nursing home residents and a workshop on civil conversation. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. —  Instead of a day off, more than 200 Northern Berkshire residents heeded the call Monday and took part in different community service projects throughout the region that culminated in the presentation of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award. 
 
This year's awardee is Adams Selectman James "Jim" Bush, whose name will join his 26 predecessors on the plaque. 
 
"It has been my personal mission to put my efforts into bettering the community and I am honored to receive this award," Bush said during the ceremony at Massachusetts College of Arts' Venable Gym. "I look forward to serving our community to the best of my ability with others who put their hearts and souls into helping others throughout our community."
 
After retiring from Specialty Minerals, Bush decided to commit his time to his community and after successfully running for selectman in 2018 has become involved in a long list of community initiatives and organizations.
 
"I realize at my age there are two kinds of people in the world: There are doers and those who don't and Jim is a doer," said Mike Cutler, a friend of Bush. "He is all over the place and involved with everything. He has done wonderful things for the town of Adams ... people like to follow positive people and Jim is one."
 
Wendy Penner, NBCC director of prevention and recovery said Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, said the group has been trying to build a stronger connection in Adams and has held monthly lunches in the Mother Town to strengthen relationships. This is where she met Bush.
 
"Whenever I run into him and ask what is going on, he always tells me some great thing that he is doing," Penner said. "Fighting the day-to-day injustices is one way to embody the work of Martin Luther King but the other way is to be a force of good in your community."
 
The day started early and participants had the choice of staying onsite in the gym to make scarves, mittens, blankets for those in need among other activities.
 
Others were dispatched throughout the city and to help winterize homes, collect donations, and help with tasks for organizations such as the Goodwill, Northern Berkshire Family YMCA, the Youth Center at Cheshire School, Habitat for Humanity, and First Congregational Church.   
 
"It is always a pleasure to see you guys out there doing the things that Dr. King would tell you to do," Martin Luther King Jr. Day Committee Chairman Alex Daugherty said. "I look at you today and can say you stepped it up."
 
Participants returned to the Venable Gym around noon for lunch and to hear from other speakers. The day was especially cold and MCLA President James Birge said the group's commitment even on a frigid day is what holds the community together.
 
"The fabric that keeps community together ... is this sense of belonging and this sense of commitment to one another as we express it through service," Birge said. "So today ... you made North Adams and the region a little better and I want to thank you especially when it would have been easier to stay inside and warm."
 
Mayor Thomas Bernard said there is still work to be done to carry on King's message. 
 
"Today we join with people across the country in the legacy and memory of Dr. King and everybody he has inspired though his work," he said. "The call to action that we are challenged to answer everyday and as we all know ... there is still work that remains and we continue to struggle with the same injustice and the same bigotry and hatred."
 
State Sen. Adam Hinds echoed this sentiment.
 
"It is what we all do and what we all commit to everyday ... stand up when we see something wrong and to make sure we are fighting for equality," Hinds said. "We need to make sure we are standing up against injustice."
 
State Rep. John Barrett III charged the young people in the room to continue King's work. 
 
He thought back to 2017 when he got the opportunity to meet Congressman John Lewis who delivered the MCLA commencement speech that year.
 
"He is one of the most amazing men I have met in my entire life and ... he talked about the sacrifices that were made in his generation," he said. "When you stop and think about it he is the last living person who spoke in 1963 ... he had an important message at the commencement he said when you see injustice and you see things that should not be happening get in the way." 
 
Evan Goodermote performed slam poetry and the Drury Jazz Trio played a selection.

Tags: MLK Day,   peacemaker,   

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Letter: Standouts to Support Public Higher Education

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

During this time in which many of our day to day activities have been affected by Covid-19, one thing has not changed: the value of our public higher education institutions. Here in Berkshire County, MCLA and Berkshire Community College continue to serve our students, many of them local residents and the majority residents of this Commonwealth. While the modalities we are using to teach, counsel, advise, and provide all types services have widened to include more online and hybrid as well as in person delivery when it can be safely done, BCC and MCLA are open to our students. We remain the most affordable and accessible institutions in the county. Together with our colleagues at the University of Massachusetts campuses, we continue to educate our citizens.

It is for these reasons that we wish to express our opinion that public higher education campuses deserve level funding at the very least. Our students deserve and should have access to the range of programs, courses, and support services of all kinds; during this pandemic, students have more needs to be met, not fewer. Public higher education has suffered through many years of underfunding. Although the work done at public institutions of higher education is often praised, such lip service doesn’t pay the salaries and other fixed costs on our campuses. Praise has never funded a scholarship or kept tuition and fees from the increases necessary when state aid is insufficient. If ever there was a time to turn praise into line items of the budget, this is that time.

Our public colleges and universities provide the workers that are needed in our communities. From nurses to teachers, from scientists to computer specialists, from professors to hospitality workers, from writers to public servants of all kinds, how many of us were educated at least in part at our public colleges? Workforce development and adult basic education also takes place on our campuses. We provide those who cannot or choose not to leave the area with quality education that is relatively affordable. Those employed by the colleges are able to invest in the community as well, buying homes, raising families, and supporting local businesses.

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