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James McAndrews' nieces and nephews with Housing Secretary Edward Augustus and Executive Director William Schrade at Wednesday's rededication.
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The community room has been completely revamped from the walls to windows to the floor.
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Kitchen has lost its 1970s look.
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Schrade holds up the old sign.
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Adams Housing Authority Rededicates McAndrews Community Center

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The new dedication sign includes the names of the first director and board chair of the Housing Authority. 
ADAMS, Mass. — It started with changing out the old box lights in the community room at Columbia Valley.
It ended with fully refurbished room along with a refreshed kitchen and ladies room. 
Residents of the senior living facility gathered in the new community room on Wednesday to rededicate it to James McAndrew and welcome Housing Secretary Edward Augustus.
"This room hadn't been touched since the 1980s," said Adams Housing Authority Executive Director William Schrade, describing it as a place to gather that "wasn't friendly, wasn't smiling." 
So first came the box lights, and then in consultation with maintenance chief Matthew Puricelli. Then it was replacing the old leaky windows, and why not take off the old wallpaper and paint, and if you're doing that, might as well pull up the old carpet and put down a new one. 
"We thought we were done. I said kitchen really needed to be done because they has a 1970s look," said Schrade. "[Puricelli] took charge of that, too, and got creative and with the tools that were given to him.
"He knocked it out and then made the worst mistake and said, 'I've done all this I might as well finish and do the women's bathroom.' I said I think that's a great idea. [Secretary Augustus] is coming in three weeks, so you're gonna have to jump on this."
Along with the refurbished room was a new dedication sign to replace the small hand-lettered one for McAndrew, who had been instrumental in creating Columbia Valley. 
"The board of commissioners in 1971 voted to name the community room after him so that his tireless work on this project would not be forgotten," said Schrade. "So fast forward to 2024 after renovation was completed, the Adams Housing Authority Board thought it appropriate to hold a rededication to again thank Mr. McAndrews for his passion and work for what he did for the past, present and future residents of Columbia Valley."
The plaque reads: "In honor and recognition fo his outstanding commitment and leadership in providing elderly housing for the residents of Adams. ... Dedicated January 22, 1972."
Schrade said they wanted to keep it simple to ensure they didn't leave out any accomplishments. 
McAndrews worked behind the scenes, offering advice and counsel, talking with state officials and agencies, and convincing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield to donate the land at the corner of Valley and Columbia streets. The Housing Authority board unanimously endorsed naming the community center after him, stating he "served totally and without fanfare, with the desires of the people in mind and always in the best interests of Adams," according to a Transcript article. 
He also established McAndrews Insurance Agency, been a member of the Chamber of Commerce and was executive director of the Adams Redevelopment Authority at the time of his death.
The former state representative and state senator didn't live to see the product of his efforts. He died at age 67 in 1970, almost two years before the $1 million project opened.
On Wednesday, three cousins attended the rededication; McAndrews' only child, the Rev. J.F. Gerald "Gerry" McAndrews of Philadelphia, is 98 and was unable to attend. His cousin Patricia Catelotti of Adams said he was emotional and honored and sent his thanks. "He said his father loved Adams and loved doing everything for everybody in Adams," she said. 
Also recognized was the authority's first director, Jeanne Main, a registered nurse who was hired in 1971 out of 11 applicants. Her name was added to the new dedication plaque and members of her family attended. 
The town's two legislators at the time were unable to join the dedication back in 1971. This time round, there was a cabinet secretary. 
Schrade had fired off an email invitation to the state's first housing secretary in 30 years without much expecting a response. Within days, he was notified that the secretary would love to come and visit. 
The director said it often felt like the small Housing Authority hadn't been heard in the past and had never had a visit from a high-level state official, "So this is huge to have you here today."
"I was tickled to get the invitation to come here. First of all, I want to congratulate the family of Senator and Representative McAndrews for this rededication of this room. It sounds like he was a person who really cared passionately about this community and really made a difference," said Augustus. "He left a legacy that is still benefiting lots of folks."

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Cheshire Goes for Prop 2 1/2 Override to Fund School District

By Daniel MatziBerkshires correspondent

Recently retired Town Clerk Christine Emerson was recognized for her 30 years of service.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The town will have to vote on a Proposition 2 1/2 override to raise taxes in order to fund its portion of the budget for the Hoosac Valley Regional School District.
That outcome was reached at town meeting on Monday only after nearly an hour of discussion among more than 100 voters, the Selectmen, Finance Committee and school officials. 
The first eight of 30 articles the annual town meeting warrant passed relatively quickly and unanimously at the start of the three-hour meeting. But with Article 9, the assessment to the regional school district, the meeting became more of an information session and sounding board for many in the town.
The town's assessment for the $23 million regional budget is $3,098,996, an additional $150,534 over this year's $2,948,462. Adams town meeting approved its assessment of $6,345,380 last week. 
The motion for an override was put forth by Selectmen Chair Shawn McGrath as an alternative to using free cash and stabilization funds to pay for the budget.
If the Proposition 2 1/2 override is rejected, the school district's budget would have to be amended and approved by the town.
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