HINSDALE, Mass. — Community leaders, friends, and family members honored the late James Sullivan on Friday with a sign unveiling.
Sullivan died Dec. 31, 2021, from complications from COVID-19 but not without leaving a big impact on the town and his family.
Residents Angela and Bruce Stetson purchased the prominent memorial sign as a gift for the family and had it erected at the intersection of Route 8 and Middlefield Road.
The sign notes his commitment to the town and the Middlefield Road project and symbolizes him through the color and patterns used. Red was his favorite color, which is depicted with the red diamond at the top and his love of music has been memorialized with the pattern at the bottom, which is based on his guitar strap.
His daughter Britany Sullivan said she can not convey how much the sign means to her and her family. It is a place where she can bring her son Cooper and share the "stories and joy that comes with this town and his Grampy for years to come."
His wife, Kristine, said she is super proud of her late husband, adding that if he was "here right now" he would have the biggest smile. She described him as a smart and "all around good person" who was always doing good for someone.
Sullivan's impact was further made evident by stories that his friends, family, and peers shared through laughter and tears at the unveiling and lunch. They described Sullivan as passionate, caring, and determined.
"My dad had an abundance of passions in his life. He loved his family, he loved his friends, he loved music, he loved food and cooking. He loved his business. And at the top of that list was the love he had for this little town," Britany Sullivan said.
"I'm not sure there was a Hinsdale resident he didn't know by name. It wasn't until later in his life that he really dug deep into his passion for politics and boy did he dive deep."
Despite running for the Select Board multiple times and failing, Sullivan persevered until he succeeded.
"Each time he lost, we said to ourselves, 'man, this is gonna crush him,' and each time he lost, he proved us wrong. He'd come home after the votes were in and say, 'it's OK, this town just isn't ready for me yet. There's always next time.' and he always did try the next time until the next time finally turned into his time," Britany said.
"When I think about everything he did in a short amount of time here, there's only one word that comes to mind and that's proud, proud that he never gave up, proud that he never let the naysayers deter him, proud that he put his all into this town and making it better for the people who live here, and most of all proud to call him my dad."
Sullivan has been and continues to be missed, Town Administrator Bob Graves said.
"He had a big reputation …He actively volunteered his time and energy for the town of Hinsdale. He served in many capacities...I don't think half the town even knew how much of a loss it was, they would have learned," Graves said.
"... He cared about the welfare of the people of Hinsdale. He had a quick wit. He had a great laugh, as I said. He was always three steps ahead of me, thinking about what's coming next ... he had a vision."
During the brief time that Graves knew Sullivan, they bonded over discussions about their families. Graves recollected how Sullivan came into his office one Friday morning and started to tell stories of his family.
The stories they shared were full of laughter and mischief and demonstrated the pride Sullivan had for his children and gratefulness for his wife, Graves said.
The ceremony was held at the Middlefield Road intersection to honor the work he had done to set the project in motion.
Sullivan spearheaded the road reconstruction project that repaved and repaired the road that was a headache to many residents, Select Board member Earl Peck said.
According to the town website, the nearly $7 million project repaired the road, also known as the Skyline Trail, which had been a single lane since 2018.
Sections of the road are in a "low-lying area, traveling through a "wetland" and was not built up higher than ground level.
The land is in a Wildlife Management Area and prior to the reconstruction, beaver activity increased the water level at the road.
The nearly two-year project improved two miles of the road's drainage, added inlet structures where needed, regraded and protected with dense graded crushed stone the unpaved shoulders, among other repairs.
Sullivan lived just long enough to see the project start in fall 2021. It was completed this past summer.
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Berkshires Receive National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — To help address the crisis, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of more than $1 million in funding for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to address the impact of the opioid crisis on the local workforce in Berkshire County.
Administered by the department's Employment and Training Administration, the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant will support Massachusetts in its efforts to employ people in positions as recovery coaches, harm reduction specialists, peer navigators and community health workers. The funding will also provide employment and training services to eligible individuals affected by the opioid crisis.
The project will serve the following communities: Adams, Alford, Becket, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Egremont, Florida, Great Barrington, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Marlborough, North Adams, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Richmond, Sandisfield, Savoy, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Washington, West Stockbridge, Williamstown and Windsor.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in October 2017, enabling Massachusetts to request this funding.
Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.
Growing up in upper Manhattan in New York City, he attended and graduated from what was then All Hallows Institute, a private boy's prep school. He did his basic training at Fort Riley, Kan.
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