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School improvements in Bernardston

Residents recently recognized that one of the town’s centers of activity was in many ways teetering on the edge. The school’s outdoor basketball court and tennis court had seen better days while its roof, though just 14 years old, was well on the way to presenting real problems. Meanwhile the building’s heating system, including its boiler, was causing its own concern.

Even the road leading up to the school was in rough shape, as poor drainage had taken its toll on the narrow road that’s only a tenth of mile long.

Much of the disrepair here comes from age and the wear and tear. It’s a situation the public sees not just in Bernardston but in just about every community.

To be honest, it’s usually exacerbated by fiscal realities that produce a reactive approach to maintenance of schools, other public buildings and roads. This results, too often, in putting off maintenance until some kind of real crisis.

In Bernardston’s case, thankfully, it didn’t reach that point. But it took different segments of the community to see what was happening and recognizing that waiting to act should not be an option.

What they wound up with was a true community effort.

From donations of time, money and work to reconstruct the basketball and tennis courts and the creation of the memorial garden to the pursuit of the grants for the road work to the town meeting vote to pay for the roof and heating repairs, individuals, groups, companies and the town acted to bring about the improvements.

“Things like this remind me of why I moved here,” Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Virginia Budness said. “When you need something here, all you have to do is ask, and the community will come together to make it happen.”

Of course, Bernardston isn’t the only community that faces these kinds of issues. Towns and cities throughout the commonwealth have schools that need a roof or a town hall where the heating or cooling system needs a serious overhaul. Or there’s park that it showing its age.

In many of these cases, they’re the victim of shortsightedness coupled with lack of funds when it comes to maintenance.

No one wants to spend money. But in maintenance an ounce of prevention is worth of a pound of cure.

We urge communities to take a look around and see what needs to be done.

Then to take a page out of Bernardston’s playbook as individuals decide to act collectively.

When that happens, anything is possible.

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