Gene Chague: Youth Outreach fishing derby is a success

Sunday June 9, 2013


Last Saturday, the Berkshire County League of Sportsmen, with the help from members of the Cheshire Rod and Gun Club and Adams Outdoor for Youth, held its Youth Outreach Fishing Derby at Reynolds Pond in Cheshire. This year, the league invited the United Cerebral Palsy Fun Club.

The kids got to enjoy the fishing experience, with local sportsmen helping them bait their hooks, cast lines, catch fish and clean them if they wanted to bring them home to eat. They had lunch, and they all went home with new fishing outfits and great memories.

Some of us were a little apprehensive and embarrassed, not knowing what CP was and what to expect when the kids arrived. Our concerns were quickly alleviated when they arrived, full of energy, excitement and smiles, just like any other kids. They couldn't wait to grab a pole and catch some fish. Yes, a few bobbers got caught up in the trees, just like the kids did in previous years.

They were accompanied by Maureen Strype, a UCP board member who works with BFAIR (Berkshire Families and Individual Resources), and the founder of Fun Club; and Emily Shoestock, assistant director of UCP Individual and Family Support Program. Emily is the head of the North County Fun Club. There is also one in Pittsfield.

According to Strype, the club was started seven years ago to provide a way for kids with disabilities to get together to do things during school vacation. A lot of times, these kids spend their summer vacations at home because they frequently are not asked by their peers to join in activities.

Parents like the program and can go to work without having to worry about who is with their kids. There are two Fun Club categories, one for kids 3 to 7 years of age and another for those 7 to 18.

So what is Cerebral Palsy? According to Shoestock, it occurs when children are born with a lack of oxygen to their brains for a short time, and the result is a physical or cognitive disability. They may have developmental disabilities, autism or are just a little slower. It is simply an overall term that is used.

UCP Association of Berkshire County is an affiliate of UCP National and offers support and advocacy for any individual, regardless of disability, to pursue a fulfilling, self-determined, high-quality community life. Its mission is to advance the independence, productivity and full citizenship of all people with disabilities, not just people with CP. Autism and other physical or developmental disabilities can happen without CP.

So how did the kids do? The accompanying picture tells the story. All of the kids caught fish. Some kept them to take home and eat, while others let them go. This was a great day, not only for them but for everyone involved in this event.

If readers wish to contribute to this or any UCP programs, they can send a check to UCP, 208 West Street, Pittsfield.


What if the Hoosic River flowing through North Adams could be a more attractive, accessible community resource that still provides effective flood control? Hoosic River Revival President Judith Grinnell believes that it is possible, and asks us to join them for a community conversation to learn about ten potential options put forth by river restoration engineers and city planners.

Next Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., the HRR hosts a public community conversation at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in North Adams. It wants your feedback on new conceptual drawings for revitalizing the Hoosic and the adjacent area. Their consultants will present information on the river and describe each of the river revitalization drawings.

The HRR is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, incorporated as The Hoosic River Revival. Its mission deals with the 21 2 miles of the river which flows through North Adams -- not just water quality and recreation issues, but also economic development.


Last week I received news that Leon Ogrodnick recently passed away in Harpswell, Maine. Local sportsmen may remember him as a very active volunteer in the Mass. Acid Rain Monitoring (ARM) Program, acting as the principal organizational architect of its network.

He was a member of the Hoosuc Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and it was mainly because of his efforts that the Taconic Chapter of TU became involved in the water sampling program in 1985, which continues to this day. For his efforts, he was awarded the 1985 Silvio O. Conte Berkshire County Sportsman of the Year Award.

After moving to Maine, he remained very active in river and watershed issues.

To reach Gene Chague:,
or (413) 637-1818.


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