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Albert Cummings is a contractor and musician and a fourth-generation Williamstown resident.

Cummings Opposes Those 'Trying to Tear Apart' Williamstown

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Albert Cummings is running for Select Board because he wants to bring Williamstown together.
 
And, in large part, that means preserving what is good about his hometown.
 
"To understand the people in this town you have to have a long history here," Cummings said this week. "Changes can be a good thing when they take into consideration the old and the new. I am this person. 
 
"I'm sure that this new small group who is trying to tear apart the fabric of our community with the insults and hatred has probably been thinking they're making easy progress. I can assure you that people in this town have not accepted this behavior. They don't tolerate hatred in any format. The loudest voice doesn't mean a thing here. You get respect by giving it. Calling the locals Nazis, hillbillies and racist is not a great way to make friends."
 
Cummings is running against Wade Hasty to finish out the last year on a three-year term being vacated by Select Board member Jeffrey Thomas. Two other residents whose election papers have been certified, Nicholls White and Barbara Rosenthal, have announced they are ending their campaigns for the May 11 annual town election.
 
Cummings is the principal at Cummings General Contractor Inc. and a blues guitar artist who has released nine albums and toured internationally. He declined a request for an interview, but he did agree to answer questions by email for this article.
 
As befitting a fourth-generation builder, Cummings says he wants to "become the bridge for people to come together."
 
"I can get along with anyone," he said. "I've befriended literally thousands of people as I've traveled the world with my music.
 
"I will not tolerate hatred from anyone. This includes the people who have hatred towards the people of this town and perhaps the people of this town who have hatred towards the activists trying to tear it down."
 
Like a candidate in the other Select Board race on May's ballot, Tony Boskovich, Cummings says there are residents in town who are afraid to speak up against people who are calling fellow townspeople "Nazis, hillbillies and racist." And he wants to be their voice.
 
"I am running for the people of Williamstown who stand up to this disgusting behavior but don't feel like they can voice their opinions publicly," Cummings said.
 
Last June, as the current Select Board discussed forming a body that ultimately became the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee, Cummings told the board that he has "never seen racism in this town."
 
This week, he did not back off that statement but put it into context.
 
"One of my best friends is an African American gentleman," Cummings said. "He and I have been all over the world together. We are virtually inseparable when we are on the road. I've been in situations with him where racism was involved. I've squared off on individuals that have had a problem and prepared for a physical confrontation. I've looked that disgusting beast called racism directly in its heartless pathetic eyes.
 
"My lifelong idol is Mr. B.B. King, who was a personal friend of mine. I've had him tell me stories about segregation and the disgusting things he went through in his life. It makes me sick."
 
Through the prism of Cummings' own life experience and what he learned from King, Cummings does not perceive racism in Williamstown to the same extent that it exists elsewhere.
 
"No, I have not seen racism in Williamstown to this extent," he said. "I have however seen some things happen that I am not proud of as a resident of this town. I am also running to make sure we get rid of any type of racism.
 
"I want everyone to feel good about this town and I wish to listen to anyone who has any type of issue no matter how small or large. I will work to rid this town of any type of behavior that is unacceptable."
 
Put another way, "We should not apply a national narrative to a local issue rather than judge the issue on the facts," Cummings said.
 
The most prominent local issues in Williamstown over the last eight months have concerned the Williamstown Police Department.
 
Cummings argues that what the department needs is not more oversight from elected officials but more support from the community and more appreciation for the work the police officers do.
 
"It makes me sick when I hear people say they don't do a good job in this town," Cummings said. "The very reason this town feels so safe is because of the police department and the presence it has in our community. The amount of drugs and thugs that pass through this town would blow the average mind. These guys put their lives on the line every day and this town owes them a debt of gratitude. The select board should not be micromanaging the department as it isn't their job. This is the town manager's job.
 
"I would ask the town government since the beginning of the town never mind the last few town managers and dozens of select board members that have served in the recent decades: Where has the town sent its officers to receive higher education and training especially in today's environment?"
 
Cummings said he decided to run for the Select Board just before the deadline to file papers and had 81 signatures (more than twice the minimum required) on his nomination papers within two hours.
 
He proudly points to his long roots in the community. His family has been in town for 150 years, and he and his wife have raised the next generation of Williamstown Cummings, two sons who graduated from Mount Greylock Regional School.
 
"From what I see, there is only a small group of people who want to change this town," Cummings said. "I don't know anyone who wants to change a community that is one of the most beautiful communities in the world, has an incredible history of our entire nation, has the best education and sports for our youth, has incredible cultural diversity, has an incredible town police department, fire department, department of public works, a town government that wants to help its citizens improve their lives, to mention just a few things, never mind it is home to the second oldest college in the country, which has created more successful people than could be counted. I could go on and on.
 
"You don't just go changing everything in the town because a few things happened. You work on the problems together as a community. You don't insult and tear it down to gain attention."

Tags: election 2021,   town elections,   


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Williams College Celebrates Staff Members on Annual Appreciation Day

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — On May 4, Williams College celebrated its annual Appreciation Day which honors staff members who have reached milestones in their service to the college. 
 
The day is an opportunity for community members to offer thanks to the staff whose contributions uphold the college's functionality and excellence.
 
This year's retirees are Michael Briggs, Jane Canova, Barb Casey, Thoeun Ching, Marilyn Cole Dostie, Robin Coody, Maggie Driscoll, Donald Girard, John Gravel, Frederick Jolin, Walter Komorowski, Nancy Luczynski, James Menard, JoAnne Moran, Robert Neville, Robert Noel, Michael Noyes, Roger Parks, Alesia Parks, Michael Reopell, Barbara Robertson, Ellen Rougeau, Donna Santiago, Tony Sinico, Theodore Stefanik, Roberta Sweet, Stacy Sylvester, and
Margaret Weyers.
 
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