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Francis Tremblay and Larry Caprari are honored Saturday for their years of service to VVA Chapter 65 during the annual National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremony.
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Vietnam Veterans, Outgoing VVA Members Honored in Pittsfield

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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The ceremony has been held by the monument in Park Square for nearly a half-century. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The slushy snow left in Park Square from last week's storm did not stop Berkshire County veterans from honoring the 27 local people who were killed in action in Vietnam.

"We are gathered here today to remember the men and women from Berkshire County who gave their lives while serving in Vietnam for their country," veteran Ron Rousseau said on Saturday before reading the names of the fallen service members.

The annual ceremony recognizes National Vietnam War Veterans Day, which is on March 29. A coalition of local veterans has been holding it for about 50 years, placing wreaths on the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial in Park Square to honor those lost.

This year, two outgoing members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 65 were honored for years of service to the organization: Francis "Fran" Tremblay and Larry Caprari.

Master of Ceremonies Woody Vaspra coined them the "most outstanding in Pittsfield and Berkshire County" and asked that attendees shake their hands at the end of the ceremony.

The two were said to have been instrumental in the founding management and achievements of the chapter for more than 40 years and have announced that they will be stepping down. Tremblay has been the president since 2008 and Caprari is the finance officer.

"His work in keeping this chapter very active such as today is living proof of his leadership and dedication to the veterans of Berkshire County. He was instrumental in creating the Berkshire County Veterans Coalition to support veterans throughout the county," Vaspra said about Tremblay.

"Fran has recently decided to step down and spend more time with his family."

Caprari was also recognized for his foundational leadership while he served in key positions of the chapter, most recently as the finance director.

"He was the former veteran's service officer for the city of Pittsfield and still keeps himself very busy helping fellow veterans in that capacity. When a veteran needs to find much-needed information they just ask Larry," Vaspra explained.

"Larry has also decided to step down and spend more time with his family."

Veteran Skip Hoskeer read a letter about the spirit of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., that honors more than 58,000 servicemen and women who lost their lives during the war.

Last year, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall, also referred to as "The Healing Wall," visited Dalton.  The names of 58,311 casualties are listed on the 6-foot-tall wall that spans 300 feet.
For many, traveling to the memorial in Washington is not possible. The traveling wall is three-quarters the scale of the monument and provides people a chance to see these names.

Also last year, Pittsfield unveiled the "Lest We Forget" mural in its new location surrounded by nearly 100 officials and community members.  

The artwork honors and remembers Berkshire County's military personnel who were killed in action in Vietnam and veterans of the war who are living today.  

Participants in the Vietnam Veterans Day ceremony included the VVA Chapter 65, Marine Corps League Detachment 137, Italian War Veterans Post 75, Dalton American Legion Post 155, Dalton American Legion Riders Post 155, VFW Post 448, DAV Chapter 15, American Legion Post 68, and American Legion District 1.

The officer of the day was Tyrone Belanger, the national anthem was sung by Lynn Arseneau, and the volley was done by the Dalton American Legion Post 155 Honor Guard.

The 27 Berkshire County residents who were killed in action during the Vietnam War:

* James Henneberry
* George Shufelt
* Francis Bissaillon
* David Borey
* Edward Jarvis
* John Pratt
* Kevin Aldam
* Russell Roulier
* Paul Cronk Jr.
* Paul Conner
* Chester Witanek
* Howard Luscier
* Peter Cook
* Patrick Muraca
* Gary Benjamin
* John Malloy
* Michael Casey
* Charles Jaquins
* James Termini
* Michael Whalen
* Charles Cummings
* William Coakley
* Peter Foote
* Richard Davis
* John Hartlage
* Paul Krzynowek
* Tristan Hayes

Tags: veterans memorial,   Vietnam,   

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Dalton Planning Board Works to Update Special Permit Fees

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
DALTON, Mass. — The Planning Board is navigating how to update its special permit fees to bring them up to date with the current costs of services. 
During the board meeting last week, Town Planner Janko Tomasic said the cost of completing the services is higher than what it costs to take action on the application.
The current application fee charged by the Board of Appeals and the Planning Board is $375. 
This fee is intended to cover the cost of labor, time, materials, postage for the certified abutters list for abutter notification, postage for the certified mail for the notice of the decision, and two Berkshire Eagle legal advertisements for the public hearing.
"According to the data, the base cost for a permit application is barely enough to cover the cost of the application process," according to Tomasic's special-permit costs breakdown. 
Based on the last six permits, the least expensive permit is $414 to complete because of the increase in cost for the steps in the permit process.   
The flat certified mail fee for eight letters is $69.52, which covers the cost of certified mail to abutting towns, the applicant, and notice of the decision to the applicant
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