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North Adams Recognizes Work of Disability Awareness Advocates
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:29PM / Wednesday, December 13, 2023
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Special Olympian Jenna Thomas and former Commission on Disabilities Chair Randall Kemp pose with Mayor Jennifer Macksey on Tuesday.

Mayor Jennifer Macksey reads a proclamation recognizing December as Disability Awareness Month. 
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A commission that has been working hard to make the city more accessible was recognized at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Members of the Commission on Disabilities, friends and family were in Council Chambers to hear Mayor Jennifer Macksey read a proclamation declaring December as Disability Awareness Month.
Macksey also singled out two citizens — Jenna Thomas and Randall Kemp — for their work on awareness and advocacy.
"Our current commission has been very busy working hard on awareness rights and access. They've advocated strongly for some of the changes here at City Hall, which include new door openers, a new rail, as well as the appointment of an ADA coordinator, which is Cara Farrell, our HR director," the mayor said.
The commission hosted its first college career fair at Drury High School with nine agencies and professionals to offer high school students knowledge about  degree and non-degree paths that could lead to careers in working with or on behalf of persons of disabilities. A similar faire is being planned at McCann Technical School. 
One member of commission left last year after serving for at least 30 years including as chair. Kemp was highlighted with appreciation and gratitude for his civic service under four administrations.
"Randy is a true testament of living and loving life with no boundaries," said Macksey. "He has been the voice of the commission during times when the words of disabled citizens were not even heard. ...
"He has paved the way with his keen aptitude, sense of humor, and most importantly his direct desire to make North Adams a better place for our citizens with disability."
Thomas has been outstanding as an athlete, winning numerous medals during her 22 years involved with the Special Olympics.
She was chosen as a member of Team USA in 2009 in Idaho, coming in fifth in the 500-meter cross-country ski race and medaling gold in the 1K as the only American skier. She also competed in track and field and began bowling in 2019. Three years later she represented the state in bowling at the 2022 games in the state of Florida, again winning gold — a first for Massachusetts. Then she won two more in teams and doubles. 
"Jenna is a true testament of believing in yourself and focusing on your goals. She has proven that she is bigger and better than any defined disability and that it is OK to be different," said the mayor. "Jenna, I'd like to thank you for being a role model to others and having the courage and strength to follow your dreams and representing athletes."
Both Kemp and Thomas were presented with framed certificates of the proclamation and a round of applause. 
We must strive, Macksey read, to promote acceptance so that all of us are valued equally. 
"The goals of the city should properly include providing individuals with disabilities the opportunities and support to make informed choices and decisions, to live in homes and communities where such individuals can exercise their full rights and responsibilities as citizens," she said.  
In other business:
The council confirmed the reappointment of Kathleen Wall the Retirement Board for a term to expire on Dec. 17, 2026 and the appointment of Desiree Taylor to the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Commission to complete the unexpired term of Shannon Santelli ending Feb. 8, 2024.
• The city's noise ordinance was referred to the General Government Committee at the request of Council President Lisa Blackmer. A complaint had been made to Inspection Services about conflicting measures: Chapter 14 has an ordinance updated from 1999 that states no noise shall exceed 65 decibels at the property line while a zoning ordinance from 2016 sets the maximum at 80 decibels.  
The matter is scheduled to come back for the first meeting in February. 
• Mitchell Keil was confirmed  effective Dec. 26 as the new veterans services officer for the city of North Adams and district director for the additional communities of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Florida, Lanesborough, Savoy and Williamstown. He replaces Stephen Roy, who leaves Dec. 22.
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