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Pizza House owner Christina Bell-Randall, left, Community Events Director Suzy Helme, artist Amy Coon and Arthur De Bow, cultural district coordinator pose in front of Coon's 'Hello from North Adams' on the side of the Pizza House.
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North Adams Celebrates New Downtown Murals

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Valerie Carrigan gets ready to cut the ribbon as Mayor Thomas Bernard introduces her work, 'Emerging,' on Friday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city officially unveiled its newest murals — "Emerging" on Holden Street and "Welcome to North Adams" on Center Street — on Friday with ribbon cuttings. 
The two new "selfie" murals were funded through a Cultural District Initiative Grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. 
Artists Valerie Carrigan and Amy Coon were selected from more than a dozen submissions for the project. 
Sponsored by the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, the projects are intended to draw increased attention to downtown by adding to the city's mural collection. They're part of a marketing vision and designed to be interactive by creating expressive backgrounds for people to take selfies and pictures to share.
North Adams has a number of large-scale murals made possible through arts and civic organizations, including the "poppy" girls on the Mohawk Theater and the more recent mural featuring horticulturist Lue Gim Gong on the Ashland Street high rise.
Valerie Carrigan's monarch butterfly was completed a couple months ago on Holden Street next to an existing mural, "Gneiss." 
"The fall colors in the Berkshires in the fall and the colors of Valerie's mural really pick up together nicely," said Mayor Thomas Bernard at Friday's event. 
The mayor thanked the city's team including Suzy Helme, director of tourism and community events, and Arthur De Bow, the city's cultural district coordinator and co-chair of the North Berkshire council, the state council and the property owners who agreed to host the murals, Scarafoni & Associates and Pizza House owner Christina Bell-Randall.
He pointed out that Michael J. Bobbitt, executive director of the state Cultural Council, had been in Hancock earlier in the week to hear about what arts and cultural organizations were doing in the Berkshires.
"We know what happens in the Berkshires, is what happens in other parts of the state," the mayor said, but added that it happens with fewer resources and without the population of, say, Boston. "But what we have is heart and dedication and talent for days and this shows it here."
De Bow noted the ArtWeek in the Berkshires this past September had exhibited a range of artistic works and experiences. The statewide ArtWeek has been on "intermission" since the beginning of the pandemic, but the local cultural councils moved forward with a weeklong exploration last year and this.
"We have five cultural districts here in the Berkshires and we all talk with each other. And, you know, we though it's such a shame that that has going away," he said. "They came up with the idea, let's bring it back ourselves."
Thirty events were able to be held last year despite the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. 
"This year, and we were hoping we get to 50, we had over 100," he said. "Many other towns in the Berkshires who don't have a cultural council also tagged in that event so we were very pleased. So many of the artists who used to Open Studios and workshops that we've talked to since it happened had tremendous success."
De Bow said the Mass Cultural Council was very interested in the effort and officials came out to Pittsfield to discuss it. "I think they're thinking that's something that could maybe be replicated going forward," he said.
The Northern Berkshire Cultural Council is one of only two regional councils in the state. It covers Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, North Adams, Savoy, Windsor and Williamstown, along with the Franklin County town of Monroe. 
Over on Center Street, a second ribbon-cutting was held for Amy Coon's "Hello from North Adams," based on an old-style postcard featuring highlights such as the library, "Big Bling," Mount Greylock and the steeples, with the "North" part of the name inspired by the Sol Le Witt exhibit at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. 
"I like this one the best," Bell-Randall said, adding that when it wears down in a few years maybe it could be redone or replaced by something new. 

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Williamstown Interviewing Town Manager Finalists

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The administrator of a similarly sized Midwestern town and a principal in a management consulting firm are the finalists to be the new town manager.
The Select Board on Monday decided on an interview schedule to consider the two finalists recommended by the Town Manager Search Advisory Committee it created this summer.
Richard Downey, the village administrator in Kronenwetter, Wis., and Debra Jarvis of Vision Values LLC in Overland Park, Kan., will meet with Town Hall staff and other stakeholders on Thursday and be interviewed by the Select Board from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday morning.
There will be a meet-and-greet for residents at the Williams Inn on Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m.
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