County Fare: Buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks ...

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A local service organization stepped up to the plate to make snacking more palatable at Lee Bank Field.

Just before the new youth baseball season in May, the Lee Lions Club had a new concession shack installed with a platform on two sides at the home of several teams in the Berkshire Cal Ripken League.

Woodworking and carpentry teacher Corey Heath at Lee Middle and High School helped coordinate the $10,000 project that included his students building the deck. The wooden structure was custom-made by Sheds-N-Stuff of Cheshire.

"We began planning for this project in 2017 as part of Lions Club International's centennial celebration," said Lee Lions secretary Thom Swift.

Concession stand manager Ryan Siok tells County Fare the old structure was falling apart and an unpleasant place for volunteer parents to sell the candy, chips, soda, hamburgers and hot dogs.

"We were so excited about the Lions' help. The floor was rotting and we were having trouble keeping the rodents out," she said. "We are getting a lot of compliments of how good [the shed] looks."

Lee Lions directly funded half the project, raising the rest of the money from generous businesses in the Lee area.

The concession stand upgrade is the latest improvement to make the baseball diamond shine. Volunteers raised $5,000 toward the new scoreboard installed in 2018 behind the left field fence. There's also talk of raising money to light the field for night games.

"We're trying to make the field the best in Berkshire County," said league President Brian Siok, Ryan's husband.

The Lee Lions Club continues to make "The Gateway to the Berkshires" inviting to visitors coming off the Massachusetts Turnpike. The club's second centennial project involved planting a perennial flower bed at the entrance to town from the turnpike. The landscaping work was funded through the Southern Berkshire Lions Foundation.

Since 1917, Lions clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to community service and serving youth throughout the world.

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Safety program honored

A city program designed to help students get to school safely has been recognized by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

The Healthy Pittsfield Partnership's walking school bus program, recently implemented for the Morningside Community School, has earned the the Community Collaboration Award for measurably improving the community's health and overall well-being.

The partnership received the award at the fourth annual Safe Routes to School award ceremony in Boston. A total of 140 schools across the state were honored at the event.

The DOT describes the ideal recipient of this award as an "organization that has strongly demonstrated the importance of collaborating among schools and community stakeholders and furthered the mission of SRTS." Since 2005, the program works to increase safe biking and walking among elementary and middle school students by using a collaborative, community focused approach that bridges the gap between health and transportation.

The Healthy Pittsfield Community Partnership, under the guidance of the Pittsfield Health Department, is comprised of various city, school, business, and health representatives whose mission is to develop and implement community-based initiatives with the goal of improving residents' health and quality of life.

The walking to school program replaces the school bus with a walking route for students to take together. The different routes are led by members of the community, who work closely with the school to ensure the children's safety.

"It promotes a healthy lifestyle for the students, it affects our environment in a positive way by reducing traffic and emissions, and it strengthens the bond within the community," said Gina Armstrong, the director of Pittsfield's Health Department.

And by getting regular exercise and involving more members of the community in the health and well-being of their children, Armstrong said, this program to be one of the greatest successes of the partnership.

The SRTS program, sponsored by the DOT and with funds from the Federal Highway Administration, promotes safer routes for students to get to school by fostering partnerships between advocacy groups, law enforcement, education leaders and public health departments, according to a prepared release. The program currently serves 888 schools in 225 communities across the commonwealth.

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


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