Law & Order around Great Barrington

There is a certain amount of chaos going on in and around the usually safe town of Great Barrington. There have been a few fights breaking out and officers who usually just chase middle-class speeders are now risking life and limb to subdue suspects. In fact, officers never know what they are about to face when they tell someone to step out of a car. That’s got to add considerably to the stress in a police officer’s life. I often wonder about all that tinted glass you see in some cars. The driver can see out, but the officers can’t see in.

In one recent Great Barrington case, an alleged attempted murderer was stopped in front of my bank after a fender bender. According to reports, illegal drugs were found in the car. A chase ensued when the suspect took off.

“Law & Order’s” Lenny Briscoe would be proud. We seem to regularly read these kinds of stories about Pittsfield and North Adams, but we don’t get much of the action here in the southern Berkshires. Now that “Law & Order” has announced cancellation of the original series and scheduled a new, presumably teeny bopper-friendly version from the Los Angeles pap mills, it might be prudent to consider a new version of the show entitled “Law & Order: Great Barrington.”

The first half of the show would involve our police chief and his group solving the crimes with the help of the State Police. The plots could involve the various police agencies getting on each other’s nerves and maybe in each other’s way. Unlike Sam Waterston (Jack McCoy) fighting with the feds, we could have a more localized version. In fact, maybe one of the local professional theater groups could write some scripts and we could have them on community access television or radio versions on low power community radio. Sounds like a sure winner to me.

On another matter, Deval Patrick is now opening up a widening lead in the race for governor. I think the man is extraordinary and has a great and unusual demeanor for politics.

We have always known about Deval here in the Berkshires. Over in the less worthy eastern end of Massachusetts, some members of the rabid press corps have tried to make something out of nothing to embarrass him. Nevertheless, the man has kept his head down and worked hard. He has always been a gentle man and has accomplished a great deal.

Massachusetts’ more right-wing and wildly ambitious state treasurer, Tim Cahill, decided that now is the time to take Patrick on. It turns out that his blind ambition actually helped the governor by drawing votes away from the Republican candidate. In fact, it hurt the Republicans so badly that they released a million-dollar ad campaign against Cahill.

Now Cahill is sinking like a rock in the polls, Patrick is rising like a Roman candle, and a whole bunch of Massachusetts people who unwisely voted for a pretty face in the special election for U.S. Senator are once again doing what is expected of them.

Also from the department of good news comes word that our own Sandy Newman of Community Access to the Arts has been honored as the “Person of the Year” by the Great Barrington Rotary Club.

If anyone can find a more worthy recipient of that high honor, I would like to hear about it. Newman has made the arts accessible to people who might otherwise never have had a chance to shine. Some of the work of people with disabilities is extraordinary. I know — the Chartocks have shelled out some cash to proudly hang examples on our walls. If anyone is looking for a place to put their money or volunteer efforts, there couldn’t be a better choice than CATA.

Speaking of CATA, another CATA figure, dancer and choreographer Dawn Lane and her CATA troupe have been invited to Washington D.C., to perform in the International Arts Festival begun by Jean Kennedy Smith. The CATA dance group, “The Moving Company,” is the only such group from New England to have been invited. It gets even better: The Massachusetts Cultural Council has just announced that Dawn is a recipient of one of the 39 “Exceptional Artists” Awards.

Not only does she get the high honor of being named, she is awarded $7,500 in cash. We have watched Dawn’s incredible work for years now and she is just amazing. It’s good to know that she’s getting the recognition she has always deserved. Sometimes, good things do happen to good people.

Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 5/29/10

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