County Fare: Treating the 'mini-est' towns in America


In a time where everyone focuses on the big things -- the largest, the tallest, the loudest -- small town America can often become lost in the shuffle, according to the folks behind Oreo cookies.

This week, in promotion of the Oreo Mini snacks, Nabisco has begun treating 50 of the "mini-est" towns in America -- one town in each state -- with a pocket-sized delivery featuring bite-sized versions of the original cookie. In Massachusetts, the Berkshires' own New Ashford will receive this sweet nod.

Each household will receive a pint-sized parcel straight from Mel's Mini Mini Mart that will include a delicious treat and a custom note acknowledging a little thing that makes that town so "Wonderfilled."

According to the promotion, "As many of these small towns are often overlooked, most people probably don't know about the little things that make them so unique. For instance, did you know that nearly a century ago, a New Ashford, Massachusetts resident became the first woman in the United States to vote in a national election? The town still uses the same wooden ballot box for voting to this day."

In addition to the towns project, Oreo fans can send their own personalized Oreo Mini delivery for free at, and learn more on Twitter @Oreo.


Helpful headgear: Speaking of giving, children in Adams can once again avail themselves of free bicycle helmets thanks, in part, to a local woman they probably never met.

In the name of his late aunt, Police Chief Richard "Rick" Tarsa has personally donated 50 helmets to the police department so officers can hand them out to youngsters they see riding a bike without the protective headgear.

The town's top cop tells County Fare that Helen Tarsa, who was 99 when she died in 2012, was worthy of recognition as she was a favorite relative within the Tarsa family.

"When my kids were small she would comment how smart it was they and others were wearing helmets," Tarsa said. "This is just a small way of giving back to the community."

Several years ago, Adams police secured a grant to buy dozens of children's bike helmets after seeing a great need for them in town. Tarsa said the helmet supply ran out a year ago, and with grant funding dried up, he decided to put the new ones on his own tab.

The chief noted the helmets are once again a hot item in Adams. "The very first day the order came in, we issued two right out of the box," he said.

Parents of Adams children in need of a bike helmet can contact the police department at (413) 743-1212.


Avenging artists: Pittsfield resident and attorney Lawrence Klein is not only a fan of comics (he founded New York's Museum of Comic & Cartoon Art), but an avenger for the artists behind them too.

He represents Michael Mantlo and his brother, Bill Mantlo. The latter man co-created in 1976 with Keith Giffen, the gritty gun-toting anthropomorphic character Rocket Raccoon, now seen in the summer's Marvel blockbuster film "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Bill Mantlo, now 62, has been living in an assistive care facility since 1992 after a car accident where the driver left the scene left him injured with brain damage. Michael is his legal guardian.

The film has reportedly garnered more than $300 million in worldwide box office receipts since its Aug. 1 release.

"My attorney is very good," Michael said in an Aug. 6 article published by The New York Times, referring to Klein. "I'm not going to say Marvel came to me and opened up their hearts and their purse strings."

That article and others also reported that Marvel did arrange for a private bedside screening of "Guardians of the Galaxy" for Bill.

But Michael told The Times he did not know a movie was planned until comics fans contacted him on Facebook a few years ago, which prompted him to contact Marvel.

"The negotiation started at that point and we managed to secure a very nice contract for Bill," he told the Times, crediting an additional grassroots efforts from Bill's fans and fellow artists to ensure credit and compensation was given where it was due.

Michael wrote on Facebook of his brother's reaction when Bill saw his name near the end of the credits: "When the credits rolled, his face was locked into the HUGEST SMILE I HAVE EVER SEEN HIM WEAR (along with one or two tears of joy)."

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


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