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Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito poses in front of the Anthony monument with the elected women officials in the town of Adams on Thursday.

Adams, Polito Celebrate Susan B. Anthony Monument

By Gregory FournieriBerkshires Staff
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Susan B. Anthony is unveiled at the Town Common by members of the committee who raised more than $300,000 for the statue and event. Another party will be held on Aug. 21. See the entire ceremony here. 
ADAMS, Mass. — Susan B. Anthony was arrested when she tried to vote in the 1872 presidential election. But in 2020, more than half the 158,000,000 votes in the presidential election were cast by women. 
 
"We've come so far, but we have many miles to go," said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito at the unveiling of the Susan B. Anthony monument on Thursday morning. 
 
The bronze statue has been waiting patiently since last fall to be presented to the public. The piece by artist Brian Hanlon consists of three parts: Anthony as a girl reading a book; the suffragette as an adult orating; and a three-tiered step. Referring to this latter part, Polito said that "this is a solid step that this girl took and made it possible for all women in this country to be able to vote and have their voices heard."
 
Adams' native daughter would not live to see the passage of the 19th Amendment assuring women the right to vote, but her efforts and those of others were critical to what would be called the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. 
 
The lieutenant governor offered a personal perspective of how she had returned to her own hometown after graduating from college and law school and became involved in its civic life by attending town meetings, serving on appointed boards and then being elected to the board of selectmen 26 years ago. 
 
"That's all I ever wanted to do was serve my hometown, and make it a little bit better for the next generation, and 26 years later, I stand here as the fourth woman elected as a lieutenant governor in the commonwealth of Massachusetts," she said. 
 
The safety and support of her community had helped spur her career, the same type of support that Adams has given its children over the years by investing in their education and community needs, the lieutenant governor said, pointing to the statue of Anthony as a child.
 
"When you see this young girl ... those seven years were so important for Susan B. Anthony, those seven years in this community gave her the foundation to rise up and be the strong woman that we know and will always remember to be. The seven years she had were critical to her future and to our future," Polito said. 
 
"I want for my daughter, what Susan B. Anthony had when she was 7 years old, and when she became adult. I want her to have the opportunity to achieve her dream, whatever that dream may be, wherever that dream may take her."
 
Both she and Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Christine Hoyt reflected on that experience in the voting booth, Polito saying she remembers entering with her daughter on her hip for a "very personal and very emotional experience."
 
"I'm never going to stop thinking about the work of Susan B. Anthony or thanking her every time I step into the voter's booth to cast my vote, letting my voice be heard," said Hoyt. "When I am in the voting booth I think of Susan's work and the many women who came after and who paved the way for myself and for other women who serve in an elected position.
 
She introduced the distinguished guests but left some for last to direct attention to the elected women in the crowd: Adams Town Clerk Haley Meczywor, Town Treasurer Kelly Rice, Town Assessor Paula Wheeler, Town Moderator Myra Wilk, Northern Berkshire Register of Deeds Maria T. Ziemba, North Adams City Councilor Lisa Blackmer, town meeting members and, of course, Polito. 
 
Originally scheduled for August of 2020 — to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Anthony's birth and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment's passage — the event instead took place on Thursday after COVID-19 waylaid the plans for the celebration last year.
 
Also attending were state Sen. Adam Hinds, state Reps. John Barrett III, William "Smitty" Pignatelli and Paul Mark, and representatives for Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer and Berkshire County District Attorney Andrea Harrington. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier sent regrets. 
 
Town Administrator Jay Green was master of ceremonies and the statue was unveiled by members of the Adams Suffrage Centennial Celebration Committee and an Anthony relative. 
 

Sculptor Brian Hanlon presents the lieutenant governor with a replica of the statue. See more photos here.
Selectmen Chairman John Duval noted the work of the committee created in 2016 to prepare a celebration of Anthony on the anniversary of her birth.
 
Duval said more than $300,000 was raised in order to commission a statue and to plan a celebration. This money, according to Green, came from more than 7,500 donors. The "gold-level" donors were Adams Community Bank, the Armand and Donald Feigenbaum Foundation, the Jane and Jack Fitzpatrick Trust, and others.
 
Green said it was "still somewhat surreal to be able to stand here" and address the crowd in the wake of the pandemic shutdowns. He also noted that this was the first event to take place at the renovated Town Common, which came together as part of a partnership with the state. The project cost $475,000, of which $297,500 came in the form of a state grant.
 
Hinds applauded Adams, particularly the town government, for this project. Hinds noted that this comes in the wake of the state's committing $6.5 million to fund the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center.
 
A former baseball player, Hinds said, "you never really want to step up into the batter's box after somebody hit a grand slam. And it feels like Team Adams just hit a grand slam" with the Greylock Glen project. "And yet," Hinds continued, "Team Adams steps into the batter's box and hits another home run with this statue."
 
Hinds reflected on Anthony's statue in the wake of some states passing voting laws that restrict access to the ballot box, at least compared with the 2020 election. Looking at Anthony's statue, he asked, "have we achieved her dream?"
 
Barrett struck a similar note. "Today," Barrett said, "we could use Susan B. Anthony in a lot of states throughout this country, who are now trying to take away voting rights of so many of our citizens." Barrett also noted that the fact that Anthony was born in Adams reflected the "grit" of the people of the Northern Berkshires, who "never gave up" during the pandemic and other hardships.
 
Hanlon said he was "so overwhelmed with different emotions" at the unveiling. His studio, which is based in New Jersey, is committed to crafting statues of women leaders throughout the country. "I must pursue these historical markers," Hanlon said. "I'm just getting started."

Tags: monument,   Susan B. Anthony,   

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Adams Fire District Sets Virtual Review of Organizational Study

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass.— The Fire Department will hold a virtual meeting to go over some findings from the recent Organizational Assessment and Strategic Plan that could inform some changes within the Fire District.
 
The Fire District has scheduled a virtual meeting on Tuesday, July 27, at 6:30 p.m. over the Zoom platform to take a deeper look into the completed plan and potential timelines.
 
"I really want to see the public join in on this Zoom meeting," Fire Chief John Pansecchi said. "It is important that they hear about this report and see that these problems are consistent across the country."
 
Municipal Resources Inc. of New Hampshire was hired to review the fire and rescue services provided to the town. The group developed a target hazard analysis, reviewed response metrics, evaluated the current facility, apparatus, budget, and conducted a number of interviews with various stakeholders.
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