County Fare: Unexpected Mount Greylock proposal lights up Monday's eclipse

Heath Trudell knew he wanted his proposal to longtime girlfriend Caroline Pierce to be unforgettable.

When he learned the partial solar eclipse would be visible from the summit of Mount Greylock on Monday, he knew that was the moment.

He proposed to Pierce on Mount Greylock at the peak of the eclipse in the area — 2:43 p.m. Monday.

"When everyone else was looking at the sky, he was only looking at me," said Caroline Pierce.

Pierce and Trudell were late leaving their home in Enfield, Connecticut, since they had to put in paperwork related to an offer on their first house in Agawam.

The offer was accepted that morning, on their way to the mountain.

Trudell remembered what Pierce said in response to the news.

"Caroline said something like, 'Oh my God, if you propose today, I'm going to implode!'" Trudell said. "Inside I was like, 'yes, this is going to be great.'"

The two made it to the mountain on time, but had to park below the summit. The top area was full of cars.

But that didn't sour the experience.

"We felt like were on top of the mountain, and the view was so beautiful," said Pierce, who is an art teacher in Connecticut. "He told me after he always wanted to [propose] on Mount Greylock, so he just made it work."

In author J.K. Rowling's fictional universe, Mount Greylock is the setting of Ilvermorny, the North American magical school.

Pierce describes herself as a "die-hard" Harry Potter fan.

"He wanted to make it special in that way," she said. "He got it in his head that [Mount Greylock] was the perfect place to do it, and it was."

Trudell's dedication to making the proposal special extended to Pierce's ring — a single sapphire stone with a band forming leaves.

Sapphires are Pierce's favorite stone.

"I was never really a diamond kind of person," she said. "The band is so intricate and beautiful."

Trudell's choice of ring was inspired by Pierce's passion for nature and her love of Harry Potter.

Pierce has a tattoo on her wrist of a magic wand with a leaf pattern, Trudell said.

Pierce remembered when Trudell first asked her about the ring she wanted — a year ago. The two have been together since 2011, soon after they met as roommates attending Westfield State University.

Trudell said he'd been planning to propose since the beginning of the year.

"We've both kind of known that marriage wasn't [even] a question," Pierce said.

Rep. Paul Mark awarded spot in Henry Toll Fellowship

State Rep. Paul Mark is going to summer camp this month — an intellectual boot camp for state legislators.

The lawmaker from the 2nd Berkshire District, a Democrat, has been selected for the 2017 Council of State Governments' Henry Toll Fellowship program.

"It's a leadership boot camp is what they call it," Mark said.

The program is intended to help state government officials develop skills and become better advocates.

Mark will attend the fellowship's six-day, five-night program in Lexington, Kentucky, for all 48 of its 2017 inductees later this week.

Mark is unsure what the program entails — the agenda for the trip is bare-bones. But he's been directed to bring outdoor clothing and hiking boots, as well as be ready to get wet.

"When you ask someone that went through it, they're like, 'well, we're not allowed to tell you,'" he said.

The fellowship's web page says participants are expected to come "open-minded and prepared for anything."

Mark is not the first legislator from Berkshire County to receive the fellowship — former state Sen. Ben Downing and former state Rep. Dan Bosley are alums.

Mark said programs like this promote an exchange of ideas, especially about how other states govern.

Campaign finance rules, he said, are the biggest point of difference.

Many states have looser restrictions on campaign finance. Some allow legislators to take personal items offered by lobbyists. Some permit candidates to take donations from corporations, he said.

"In Massachusetts, we can take nothing from a lobbyist," he said. "A lobbyist can't buy me coffee."


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