Thanks to community fundraising efforts, C.T. Plunkett Elementary School in Adams has purchased a "Mega Park" playground for the new school year. The only problem is that it's arrived in pieces, and the school's parent-teacher group needs volunteers to help put it together.

There will be a side-by-side playground build this Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout the day. Adults who can help build are welcome to donate a few hours or the three full days of time toward the effort.

If you can participate, please contact the school's main office at (413) 743-0876, or email Julie Little at littlej@acrsd.net, with your name and phone number. Members of the playground committee will then get in touch with participants about the details and needs to make the project complete. The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 2.

Magic Books

The innovators behind the popular "Magic Tree House" series of children's books have been working to support youth literacy in Pittsfield.

Series author Mary Pope Osborne, and her sister Natalie Pope Boyce, who writes non-fiction companion books for the series, visited summer programs through the Pittsfield Promise citywide literacy campaign.

Back in May, the sisters, who have Berkshire County ties, participated in a program called "Building Adventure and Imagination through Reading," held at the South Congregational Church in Pittsfield. Children received a "Soar with Reading Passport" to help keep track of the books they've read throughout the summer.


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The authors also donated more than 1,500 of their books to low-income children attending summer programs throughout Pittsfield.

"I've been writing the series for 22 years and I've visited with thousands of children," Pope Osborne said in an interview with WAMC, an Eagle media partner.

"What makes this a little different is that these are kids almost in my backyard. My sister and I, who work on the books, are from this area, Stockbridge and Great Barrington," she said.

Read and listen to the full story here: http://wamc.org/post/magic-tree-house-author-influencing-generations.

Mission Accomplished

Last year when attending the Berkshire leg of a listening tour of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Culture, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli shared his story about how as a 9-year old boy, he was chosen to model as a boy astronaut for artist Norman Rockwell. That was the beginning of a story that led him to being part of a recent appraisal commissioned by the son of the painting's original owner in Chicago.

Lauri Klefos, president of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, was on that tour and said Pignatelli's narrative "spoke so clearly to what we all love about the Berkshires ... our sense of responsibility to this place, its history and our appreciation of the arts."

Berkshire Visitors Bureau ultimately commissioned a writer and share this story, which appears in the July/August edition of the national State Legislatures Magazine.

"The National Conference of State Legislators was quick to see the value in linking the idea of public service to the iconic Norman Rockwell and picked up the story," Klefos said.

Norman Rockwell Museum Executive Director Laurie Norton Moffatt said, "The museum is located in Stockbridge, where Norman Rockwell lived and worked during his last 25 years. Rockwell loved to invite his friends and neighbors to pose for his pictures, and we are fortunate that many of these original models still live in the area and continue to share their memories with us (many now accessible through our digital collections on our website). Smitty's story is especially moving as he has devoted his life to serving the public and his family has a long history of doing the same."

The magazine is currently in print, and the online version of the article, "Mission Accomplished" is available at: http://ncsl.org/research/about-state-legislatures/mission-accomplished.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.