WILLIAMSTOWN - U.S. Rep. John Olver is the latest person to receive a local award given annually to someone whose work has contributed to improving the quality of life in the region.
Olver, who will retire in January 2013 after serving the 1st Congressional District for over 20 years, was presented the Northern Berkshire Hero Award by John DeRosa during the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition's 26th annual meeting on Friday at The Williams Inn.
DeRosa said that he couldn't think of another person who had served in public office and been so open, caring and concerned about the region and its people.
"Your service has been stellar all these years," he said. "I find no one more appropriate to give this honor to."
State Sen. Benjamin Downing, who gave the keynote address at the meeting, said that as he was running a twomile loop in Pittsfield Thursday morning, he couldn't help but recognize the places in the city Olver helped support, including Berkshire Medical Center. In addition, Olver's contributions to the Barrington Stage Company and Colonial Theater are reflective of his support of the arts on the county, state and national levels, he said.
"When public service is at its best, it's about teamwork," he said. "It's about being a work horse, not a show horse. It's caring about fixing the problem, and not worrying about coming out on top in the next media cycle. It's caring about the lives of the people whom you were elected to serve, and not about
Olver exemplifies public service at its best, and he treats everyone with respect, Downing said.
North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright recalled the night he came home after being elected mayor in November 2008, and the first message on his answering machine was from Olver. In the message, Olver congratulated him and said that he would try to reach him later in the week, Alcombright said. When he and Olver did connect, they spoke for about a half hour about Olver's work in Washington, D.C. and the city, he said.
"He wanted to know when he and I could get together to talk about the city and the future of Northern Berkshire," he said. While celebrating Olver was the main focus of the meeting, local officials also took time to reflect upon the role the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition has played over the past 26 years.
"You have made a tremendous different in Northern Berkshire, and you can be proud of that," Olver said.
Downing said the coalition is about teamwork, which is incredibly important in succeeding.
"If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, then you go together," he said.