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Ricky Ostellino calls on Pittsfield Mayor Linda Tyer for a selfie after he received a Citizenship Award at Friday's annual meeting of Berkshire County Arc.
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Tori Ackley entertains the annual meeting with her song 'Victorious.'
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Recently retired Berkshire County Arc President Ken Singer applauds Tori Ackley.
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Maria Cardino celebrates receiving a Self Advocate Award at Friday morning's meeting.
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State Rep. William 'Smitty' Pignatelli and Casey Pease, an aide to state Sen. Paul Mark, addresse the meeting. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, a longtime advocate for Berkshire County Arc, was unable to attend due to a family commitment.

New Leadership at Berkshire County Arc Ready for New Challenges

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Maryann Hyatt presides over her first Berkshire County Arc annual meeting since she was named president and CEO in March.
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Coming off a year in which her agency cared for more than 1,000 individuals and their families, Berkshire Arc President Maryann Hyatt reminded supporters Friday that there are always more obstacles to overcome.
 
"This work is not easy, and every year it gets more complex," Hyatt told attendees at BC Arc's annual meeting. "New regulations, new treatments, new technology, new medications … new challenges we can't even see coming, like COVID. That is why today is so important, to balance those challenges with successes and highlights from the past year.
 
"I would like to recognize today every individual and staff member and all our family members and caregivers. They all deserve recognition."
 
Hundreds of members of the BC Arc family packed the ballroom at Berkshire Hills Country Club for the organization's 68th annual meet.
 
In some respects, it was just like past years: shared fellowship of caregivers, individuals who utilize Arc's services, and the non-profit's staff; awards for outstanding achievements and dedicated service; a moving musical performance by Tori Ackley; and speeches from local politicians.
 
One big difference this year was Hyatt, who took the reins of the organization in March after the retirement of longtime President Ken Singer.
 
Not that Hyatt was a new face to many in the room.
 
Prior to her appointment as Singer's successor, she spent more than 30 years working for Berkshire County Arc, which provides services to individuals with developmental disabilities, brain injuries and autism in Berkshire and Hampden Counties.
 
Hyatt used Friday's meeting as an opportunity to recognize all that Singer did for BC Arc and for her throughout her career with the agency. 
 
"As a woman, I really take a lot of pride in everything I had to do and did over the years to have this wonderful board of directors look at me and say, ‘She's the right one for the job,' " Hyatt said. "However, I realize that I would not be here today if it was not for this individual.
 
"He hired me, many, many years ago — when I had purple hair. And I worked nights at one of our residential programs. I had absolutely no experience. Over the years, I looked at him a lot, what he did, how he led. And it inspired me. … He's my mentor. I'm his protege."
 
Singer returned the praise.
 
"Maryann and I worked side by side for over 35 years, and I have never been more comfortable with any decision that was made by our board than when it selected Maryann," Singer said. "There are a lot of people who have a lot of qualifications and can do good things. This lady has it right here — she's got heart."
 
In her remarks to the meeting, Hyatt talked about her efforts to increase staff engagement.
 
"I heard first hand the hard work our staff are doing to advance the goals for our individuals," she said. "I also assured our staff of our continued statewide advocacy to address direct care workforce salary needs."
 
State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, indicated that message is being heard.
 
"I think we're going to have a good [state] budget coming out, hopefully in the next couple of weeks," Pignatelli said. "But I think the challenge we have going forward are around workforce, salaries, opportunities to help you folks lead a better a life and, hopefully, allow your staff have a quality of life and an affordable life.
 
"I think we need to focus on salaries for direct care workers."
 
Among the those recognized with awards at Friday's meeting were:
  • Employer of the Year: the food service team at Drury High School.
  • Business Partnership: Orion Magazine in Great Barrington.
  • Citizen Advocate: Victory Gritman.
  • Individual Achievement: Patricia Butler, Robert Day and Dan Connors.
  • Achievement in Personal Growth: Gloria Hunt and Eric Karlin.
  • Work Achievement: Justin Abbott.
  • Self-Advocacy: Maria Cardeno and Victoria Provencher.
  • Citizenship: Ricky Ostellino and Alan Zurlino.

Tags: annual meeting,   BC Arc,   

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Safety Solutions Proposed for Berkshire Mall Intersection

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — A speed bump and traffic mirror have been proposed at the reportedly problematic intersection of Old State Road and the Berkshire Mall entrance.
 
Last week, abutters approached the Select Board with concerns about drivers ignoring stop signs and speeding through the area. Target owns its building and is the lone business left on the property.   
 
"When you turn into Old State Road, our driveways are right there," Judy Bennett said. "Nobody stops, nobody slows down to come around that corner. They go faster and that's where someone is going to get hurt."
 
Carl Bennett added, "We are taking our lives into our own hands when we pull out during the day."
 
The Old State Road bridge connects the mall and Old State Road to Route 8. Abutter Pauline Hunt would like to see it closed entirely, making the Connector Road the access point from Route 8.
 
"That entrance isn't necessary," she said.
 
"It's chaos. There's an entrance over by the bike path that would serve everybody, there would be no problem, and there are lights at the end of it, it's a dream to get into there. I don't see the reason that chaos is there."
 
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