County Fare: Hoop dreams come true for Pittsfield neighborhood

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The kids of Pittsfield's Orchard Street neighborhood have long been playing basketball on their street, without a proper hoop and net.

Several folks in the community took notice, and on April 29, a special delivery was finally made in partnership with the Basketball Cop Foundation, and Chris Gian, owner of Berkshire Wine & Liquor, who donated the hoop to the neighborhood.

"While Officer [Darren] Derby was on his way back to the station at the end of his shift, he noticed a group of kids playing on Orchard Street," the Pittsfield Police Department wrote in a recent Facebook post. "What caught his eye was they were bouncing a basketball but didn't see a hoop. A quick investigation found there was no hoop. You know what happened next. Officer Derby and Lt. [Michael] Maddalena delivered the hoop a short time later."

The department also wrote, "Chris has watched our recent posts about our efforts to help the youth of our community through the #HoopsNotCrime initiative and wanted to assist."

Neighborhood resident Shawn Michael Allen Ortiz also shared a photo of the hoop delivery with County Fare, and wrote: "Nice job Pittsfield Police, and thank you for your kindness for the kids over here on Orchard Street. Kyle Jafar Allen Ortiz has been asking the city for something for the kids here and they show up today ... with this basket and net for the kids ... nice to see."

Banner day for vets

Dave Simmons wrote County Fare last week to highlight the completion of a flag replacement project in Lee.

"A few weeks ago Lee VFW Post 893 began replacing the older 4-by-6-foot sidewalk mounted flags on Main Street in preparation for the upcoming Memorial Day. Thirty-seven new light post-mounted holders were custom fabricated. Each holder displays a 2-by-3-foot American flag, which faces the street, and a POW/MIA (Prisoner of War / Missing in Action) flag facing the sidewalk."

We salute Lee VFW Post 893, and their efforts to spruce up the town and honor others for their military service.

Honors for local star

The Smith College annual commencement exercises will begin at 10 a.m. this Sunday, and will feature Pittsfield native and NASA astronaut and engineer Stephanie D. Wilson.

Wilson will be an honorary degree recipient, along with: Cartoonist and memoirist Alison Bechdel; Roslyn Brock, chairman of the NAACP board of directors; Ruchira Gupta, a leader in the international fight against sex trafficking; and American soccer icon and Olympic and World Cup champion Abby Wambach.

Megan Smith, the United States Chief Technology Officer in the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, and the first woman to hold that post, will deliver the commencement address.

Wilson is a veteran of three spaceflights and has logged more than 42 days in space. Born in Boston, she attended high school in Pittsfield, and earned her bachelor of science degree in engineering science from Harvard University in 1988. After working at Martin Marietta for two years, she earned her master's degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

Eligibility for an honorary degree at Smith College is defined follows: "The college will consider women who are exemplars of excellence in a wide range of fields, both academic and non-academic. The college will also consider women and men who have had special impact on Smith College, on the education of women, or on women's lives."

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


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