County Fair: Pittsfield Community Connection graduates celebrated; Owens delves into history

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Pittsfield Community Connection, a citywide youth and family outreach initiative, honored its high school graduates with a special celebration in Durant Park on June 20.

The event was sponsored by Mary Jane Dunlop, the groups's director of mentorship and owner of Berkshire Access Realty.

The graduates honored included Victor Hernandez and Derek Boateng from Pittsfield High School; Haleigh Chenail, Will Reese, and Joe Bell from Taconic High School, and Dante Eller who graduated from the HiSET Program.

"We are very proud of these young adults and wish them the brightest of futures!" a group Facebook post read.

Illuminating women in history

History has sometimes recognized women who throw their arms around trees to save them from being cut down. It's an idea Carole Owens of Stockbridge has applied to endangered houses — preferably very old houses.

She has written about the famous Berkshire Cottages of the Gilded Age, she was influential and the first director of the venerable and threatened Ventfort Hall in Lenox, and she virtually threw her arms around the William Russell Allen House in Pittsfield to save it from the wrecking ball.

More recently she has embraced the New England women of the 18th century, feeling they are some of the neglected people in the history books, despite their achievements. Her newest book is titled "Remarkable Women of New England, Daughters, Wives, Sisters and Mothers: The War Years 1754 to 1787" (Globe Pequot).

Earlier this year, her various works earned her the prestigious Paul and Niki Tsongas Award from Preservation Massachusetts, which recognizes "significant contributions to preserving the Commonwealth's historic resources."

Owens hasn't given up on restoring the Allen House and says that at the very least, it's been secured and stabilized, waiting for a renewed crusade for restoration funds. In the meantime, she's spreading the word about her "remarkable women," the latest being a talk at the Richmond Free Public Library at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Using letters and journals, Owens has written about women who ran businesses, worked as spies, even went to war. Included in her book are the Widow Bingham, one of the earliest owners of the Red Lion Inn, and Mary Bidwell, who married into the family from the Bidwell House in Monterey.

The talk and book signing is part of the Lively World Series presented in memory of Milton Bass, onetime Eagle editor and columnist. The library tries to serve appropriate refreshments with its speakers, so nibbles will include corn muffins, apple tartlets and cranberry juice. The event is free and open to the public.

Seat at Elks table

Exalted Ruler Doug Merrick, of the North Adams Elks Lodge No. 487 attended the National Convention of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, held July 3 through 6, in Houston.

Merrick was responsible for voting on decisions affecting the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and its policies. He also attended seminars and workshops enabling him to inform the lodges' officers and members how to best serve the community.

Elks USA has nearly 800,000 members, with more than 1,900 lodges. Last year the Order gave more than $282 million in charitable donations to veterans programs, scholarship awards and community services. Learn more at Elks.org.

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


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