ADAMS, Mass. — The American Legion Riders will again be hosting the Fall Run this Saturday, Sept. 17, in Bowe Field to raise funds for military veterans in need throughout Massachusetts.
Last year, a group of local volunteers revived this long-standing tradition that ceased to roar through Western Massachusetts in 2017.
Originally a small group of friends, the ride quickly morphed into a 2,000-plus rider event that raised more than a half-million dollars for local charities, especially Shriners Hospital.
What the American Legion Riders soon came to learn last year is it is impossible to repeat what the original group did after a four-year absence so they made the event their own.
The Riders collaborated with a variety of veterans associations to resurrect the popular motorcycle ride.
"One of the goals that I wanted to make sure that if I got involved with is that the American Legion Riders would be involved with it because that is who I am," said ride Chairman Mike Steuer.
Rather than having the proceeds go to local charities, they decided to switch the beneficiaries to local veterans and veteran organizations.
Its revival last year was met with open arms by thousands of people who lined the streets as 335 motorcyclists returned to Bowe Field from their 50-mile ride around the Berkshires and raised $15,000 for their cause.
"There aren't that many channels directly to the Legions and the vets. I mean, there are these big large organizations, but we're really a mom-and-pop shop, to be honest with you," Steuer said.
"You know, we are grassroots, we gave 100 percent of what we earned back to our channels and helping vets last year."
Anyone can ride with the Legion and can register their bike for $20. Riders can also choose from three packages that range from $500 to $2,000 in donations.
Steuer said they hope that the event grows and that they are able to raise more funds because of the greater need due to the economy and inflation.
"It's going to be harder for these vets to pay their bills, and we're proud to be able to give them something, with hardships making it difficult for them and their families," he said.
"It's really so important to us as part of our mission. And that's what we do, American Legion Riders ... mission is to fundraise on behalf of the veterans organizations."
This year the Legion will be having the event on Saturday instead of Sunday and has become a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization so donations are tax deductible.
In addition to the ride there will also be games, food, vendors, raffles, and live music at Bowe Field. The gates open at 10 and the band Miss Guided Too will be performing until 2 p.m.
The opening ceremony will commence at 12:30; the motorcycles will take off at 1 and are expected to return around around 2:30-3 p.m.
Hot Shot Hillbillies will be performing from 2 to 5 followed by the Shyne until 6:30 p.m.
This year the four posts participating in the Fall Run are the Spencer American Legion Riders Post 138, Dalton American Legion Riders Post 155, Adams American Legion Post 160, and North Adams American Legion Post 125.
Steuer said they hope to morph this event into a regional American Legion Riders ride to support everyone on the "ship."
"We're all on the same ship, we are trying to keep the ship afloat because veterans and veterans organizations are going down left and right throughout the county and throughout the state," said Dan Speth, Dalton American Legion's post service officer and past president.
More information on the Fall Run can be found here.
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Town Administrator Jay Green said two candidates were interviewed for the job, with expectations to make a formal offer to one of them soon, pending final approval from officials in North Adams.
"It's going to be a large undertaking for whoever is in the job. But I think, at the end of the day, we will provide the communities with somebody paying attention to this stuff," Green said. "... I think a lot of the retention and recruitment issues; all three communities have those issues. So all three communities are looking forward to having the person to be able to work on that."
Green said each of the three communities has specific needs that a human resources director will provide. For Adams, he explained that keeping the town's human resources policies up to date is a significant need.
"This person will work for us directly, and they will be a resource for us," Green said. The three communities, he explained, have to keep the position funded until at least Fiscal Year 2024.
In other business, the group discussed preliminary job descriptions for an assistant Treasurer/Collector and assistant Town Accountant. These positions would replace the current financial assistant titles and would be a title and job description change rather than a personnel change.
"We have too many high-level people doing too low-level work because we're not staffed enough in that level," Green said, noting the town expects the title changes to be ready to begin the next fiscal year. "A lot of those positions have been eliminated over the years. The work doesn't go away, but the work just gets kicked up."
Town Accountant Crystal Wojcik said the new titles would allow the people in those positions to have more training opportunities and take on more responsibilities for the town. One example she gave is a conference from the state's Municipal Accountants and Auditors Association, which Financial Assistant Ashley Satko cannot currently attend.
"I can go to that, but Ashley can't because her title is not Assistant Town Accountant," she said. "You either have to be a Town Accountant or an Assistant Town Accountant. I believe the same rules go for the treasurer's association."
Another new position the group discussed was assistant director of Community Development. Rebecca Furgeson, the current program manager for the department, would take on the new role.
"[Rebecca] has a very unique skill set with project management that I can't replicate. And she has capacity to take on additional work," said Community Development Director Eammon Coughlin. "We've had incredibly good luck with grants over the past year. I think we've gotten basically everything we've apply for it, and so there's a need to have a good set of eyes and sound judgment in terms of managing those projects."
The committee also discussed the part-time administrative assistant for Inspectional Services. Green said he is hopeful the position could eventually become full-time, but budget considerations do not currently allow it.
The committee discussed a potential code of conduct for town employees and others involved in town business. Board Vice-chair Christine Hoyt said she researched conduct policies for other communities and wants to do more work to update those policies in Adams.
"I'd like to explore this more and come forward with a code of conduct that is all-encompassing," she said. "... We hold our employees to a standard, but we haven't necessarily put a standard of conduct in place for elected officials for the public."
Green said the current provisions for the town only apply to town employees, not elected or other officials.