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Ty Allan Jackson and Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, together with Jackson’s 2019 Black Excellence on the Hill Award. Photo courtesy Office of Sen. Adam Hinds

News Briefs: Black Excellence on the Hill Award for Jackson, Edgerton; North Adams man pleads guilty to drug possession

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By Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019 News

Ty Allan Jackson, Shirley Edgerton receive 2019 Black Excellence on the Hill Award

Boston — Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, have jointly announced that two Pittsfield residents were honored during a State House ceremony Monday. Author, literacy advocate, publisher and motivational speaker Ty Allan Jackson and Shirley Edgerton, founder and director of the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program, director of Youth Alive Inc. and cultural proficiency coach for Pittsfield Public Schools were honored by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus with a 2019 Black Excellence on the Hill award. Jackson was nominated for this recognition by Hinds and Edgerton was nominated by Farley-Bouvier.

Shirley Edgerton and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, celebrate her 2019 Black Excellence on the Hill Award in the historic Chamber of the House of Representatives. Photo courtesy Office of Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier

The annually MBLLC celebrates Black History Month and the leaders who make Massachusetts’ communities thrive. The Black Excellence on the Hill Award is presented to local leaders, nominated by their state legislators, for their work in civic engagement, education, business and other notable fields. It is a celebration of Black culture, excellence and achievement in the Commonwealth.

Jackson is the founder of Big Head Books LLC, a literacy organization in Pittsfield that seeks to introduce children to the joys of reading. A two-time TEDx presenter, Jackson believes that literacy is the foundation for a successful life and promotes it with humor and enthusiasm. In 2016 he received Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Content of Character Award from former Gov. Deval Patrick. His books have been featured on CNN, “NBC Nightly News,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” PBS and many other media outlets. Jackson’s first self-published book, “Danny Dollar Millionaire Extraordinaire: The Lemonade Escapade,” was adapted into a play and was also lauded by the largest African-American-operated bank in the United States as a useful tool to teach inner city youth about finances. In response, Jackson co-founded the financial literacy program Danny Dollar Academy, which includes a four-week long financial curriculum for third- through fifth-graders. Jackson also co-founded the Read Or Else movement, a program created to show how illiteracy impacts the country.

Since 1995, Edgerton has served as the director of Youth Alive Inc. She also serves as the cultural proficiency coach for the Pittsfield Public Schools, where she coordinates, projects and facilitates cultural competency trainings for educators and students, and assists with recruitment. Edgerton is the founder and director of the Rites of Passage and Empowerment Program, which emphasizes and encourages holistic self-discovery for young women. For 21 years, she served as director of residential programs for the state Department of Developmental Services in Berkshire County, which included coordinating summer youth employment for six residential programs in western Massachusetts. The founder of the Women of Color Giving Circle and co-founder of Lift Ev’ry Voice: Celebrating African American Culture and Heritage, Edgerton’s volunteer service to the region also includes serving on Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ board of trustees from 2010 to 2014 as well as on the steering committee for the Berkshire Priorities Literacy Project in 2011. In addition, she was a member of the board of directors for the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts from 2005 to 2009.

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North Adams man pleads guilty to drug possession

Pittsfield — A North Adams man who pleaded guilty to drug possession with intent to distribute was sentenced to two and a half years in the Berkshire House of Correction.

Christopher Letalien, 34, pleaded guilty Monday in Superior Court to possession of a Class B drug with the intent to distribute, a second offense. Judge John Agostini sentenced Letalien to two and a half years in the Berkshire House of Correction, with the last six months suspended for a probation period of two years.

A North Adams police officer arrested Letalien Dec. 11, 2018, after the defendant accidently texted a member of the police department and later sold them methylphenidate pills, or Ritalin.

Defense counsel was Joshua Hochberg. Assistant district attorney was Jedd L. Hall.

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