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Bernardston Elementary beneficiary of makeover

Recorder/Franz
Adam Harrington holds up his son, Jayden, who is a kindergarten student at the Bernardston Elementary School, to make a basket on the new basketball/tennis court at the school, one of many improvements made to the school.

Recorder/Franz Adam Harrington holds up his son, Jayden, who is a kindergarten student at the Bernardston Elementary School, to make a basket on the new basketball/tennis court at the school, one of many improvements made to the school. Purchase photo reprints »

BERNARDSTON — There’s a lot to be thankful for at Bernardston Elementary School lately, and a lot of people to thank.

The school has received upgrades and repairs inside and out, thanks to local residents, companies, a charity, town meeting votes and a long- sought-after grant.

Most recently, the school received new basketball and tennis courts and a memorial garden, thanks to one local charity and a boatload of volunteers.

Principal Bob Clancy thanked everyone involved in a standing-room-only dedication in the school’s gym Thursday, and gave the floor to those who organized the latest project.

“I’m overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity of the community, and the giving of their time,” said Adam Harrington.

Two years ago, Harrington, 32, started the Jill E. Harrington-Hanzalik Memorial Fund in memory of his sister, who died along with her infant son, Chase, in 2010. Harrington-Hanzalik was a lover of sports, who often went the extra mile to help someone else. Her brother wanted to keep her spirit alive by giving back through grants and projects, many of which are geared toward kids’ sports.

Growing up in Bernardston, Adam, Jill, and their younger brother Kevin Harrington spent much of their free time on the school’s basketball courts.

Seeing the school’s outdoor basketball and tennis courts in disrepair, asphalt cracked and heaving, chain-link fence torn and creating a hazard, he hatched a plan.

Once it was ready, the community rallied, and did whatever it could to help. People donated time, money and materials, and set to work on the courts. It was the fund’s first shovel-in-the-ground project.

Ryan Deane of Bernardston donated design and layout work. Lane Construction Co. demolished the old courts and paved the new ones, providing materials and labor free of charge. Snow and Sons’ Landscaping installed pavers, put in trees, flowers, and other landscaping. The paving stones were donated by Pavers by Ideal. Shanahan Construction Supply and Ted Wheeler donated paver materials and a memorial stone for the garden. The Bernardston Recreation Department came up with money for the basketball hoops and tennis equipment.

Jon Pike, Phil Harrington, Karen Collins, Bobby Dean, Eric Boliski, Perry Messer, Tim Kachelmeyer, Brett Hastings, Jimmy Mac and Erv Sanders gave their help in the form of hard work.

“Things like this remind me of why I moved here,” said Virginia “Ginger” Budness, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen.

“When you need something here, all you have to do is ask, and the community will come together to make it happen,” she continued.

The students at BES got more than new courts and school repairs out of the deal ... those involved said the project also included a lesson.

“This shows the students what can be accomplished when the community comes together around a goal,” said Dayle Doiron, superintendant of the Pioneer Valley Regional School District.

The Memorial Fund raised money through its annual footrace, the Kringle Candle Chase 5K, sponsored by Kringle Candle Co., and started last year. Combined with the Recreation Department’s donation, they were able to give $25,000 for the project. The fund also donated $1,000 toward the ongoing maintenance of the courts and garden, as well as two dozen new basketballs, and a stockpile of tennis balls.

The big kids have a new place to shoot hoops and play tennis. (Clancy says he’s even seen a few adults sinking baskets at night). But the wee ones weren’t left out.

BES also got a new preschool playground, made possible by $5,000 from the Bernardston Kiwanis fund, matched by $5,000 approved by this year’s town meeting, and $10,000 from private donors.

The town was also finally able to get School Road repaired after years of failed grant attempts. The one-tenth-mile road leading up to the school was long-plagued by poor drainage and “potholes that could swallow a small car,” Clancy said. This year, the road was widened and paved, largely at the cost of the state through its MASSWorks program. The repair was dovetailed with a South Street project for which Kringle gave more than $200,000 in matching funds, securing the grant’s spot on the state’s list of projects.

The school also got a new roof. Though only 14 years old, parts of the old roof were in sad shape. Town meeting voters approved $400,000 for the project, and it was completed before school began. Voters also approved money to fix the school’s struggling heating system, which will go through its final tests today before being put into use.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413 772-0261, ext. 279

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