County Fare: Berkshire historian to be honored for preservation efforts, advocacy
Berkshire historian Carole Owens of Stockbridge is set to receive an award from Preservation Massachusetts in honor of her preservation efforts and advocacy over the past 40 years.
Owens will pick up the newly renamed Paul & Niki Tsongas Award at the organization's annual Preservation Awards Dinner in Boston on May 4.
The awards recognize "the very best in historic preservation effort and achievement in our commonwealth." Formerly the Paul Tsongas Awards in honor of the U.S. senator from Massachusetts who died in 1997, the citations were renamed this year to honor U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas' contributions to preservation efforts.
"This year, our awards will celebrate the exceptional vision, leadership and accomplishments of Women in Preservation," according to an announcement from the statewide nonprofit organization established in 1989 to help preserve the historic and cultural heritage of Massachusetts.
In a letter to Preservation Massachusetts supporting Owens' nomination for the award, state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, cited her as a "pioneer of preservation" and "one of the first to acknowledge the beauty and history of the aged mansions of Berkshire County" in her 1984 book, "Berkshire Cottages."
Owens, the first director of Ventfort Hall in Lenox and the William Allen Russell House in Pittsfield, has written or contributed to nine other books. She is a regular columnist for The Eagle's opinion pages.
Her newest volume, "Remarkable Women of New England," was published in January by Globe Pequot Press.
Since moving to the Berkshires in 1976, Owens has established a foundation, donated $100,000 to several house museums including The Mount, and has been a consultant and resident scholar at various local nonprofits.
Preserving the ice
As the winter sports season is winding down, a fundraising campaign for a new Zamboni machine for the Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires is just revving up. Last month, the club launched an online crowdfunding campaign at gofundme.com/BGCzamboni.
"We are in dire need of a new Zamboni. Ours is 40 years old and is becoming more and more unreliable," said Boys and Girls Club of the Berkshires Executive Director Chris Jacoby. "The idea is to now raise funds for a new machine."
Jacoby said a staff member started the GoFundMe webpage, as one way of generating interest through social media.
Right now, the online fundraising campaign has raised $950 of a $25,000 goal by 13 people in the past month. Jacoby said that a new machine is estimated to cost as much as $100,000.
He said other staff members are researching and working to apply for grant and foundation funding as other sources for capital, as well as direct individual donations.
A Zamboni is a motorized vehicle used to resurface the ice. The Zamboni Co.'s website said all machines are made to order, and cost varies based on size and features.
One responder to the GoFundMe site questioned why the club doesn't tap into its endowment to buy the vehicle. Jacoby said the query is valid but said the club's trustees don't see such a purchase as the best way to spend endowment funds.
"Yes we have an endowment, but the idea behind the endowment is to preserve principal as much as we can so it's there for the future financial stability of the club. Hopefully we can raise the money [for the Zamboni] in another way," Jacoby said.
He said he hopes current ice rink users and program alumni will consider helping the cause.
The club's ice rink is uniquely located on the club's third floor, and is used for a number of different sports and recreation activities: public skating, figure skating clubs and shows, speed skating training and competition, adult and youth hockey leagues, middle school skate nights and more.
Several area coaches and skaters say that the aging Zamboni doesn't smooth the ice like it used to, making it a trickier surface to skate on. A few times, the machine has stalled on the ice during events.
"We're very busy and using it a lot during the winter months," said Jacoby, who said he hopes to have a new machine in house by next October, the start of the rink's ice laying season. "The lead time in ordering a machine is also pretty long, so we need to kick this campaign off now anyway."
Of the current Zamboni he said, "We might bet another year out of it, but it won't come without the inevitable breakdowns we'll have to keep fixing."
County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.
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