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Editorial: Uncle Sam comes tough for small towns sometimes

  • Nine communities in our area — Buckland, Greenfield, Leverett, Deerfield, Sunderland, Conway, Montague and Shelburne in Franklin County, and Athol in Worcester County — were among the 39 Community Development Block Grants awarded across the state by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker. AP FILE PHOTO


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

In some parts of the county, it’s easy to demonize the federal government as just a big vacuum when it comes to taxpayer money. Yet if we are really paying attention, we see there are programs where Uncle Sam is able to give the states and local communities a true boost. One such effort is spurring growth — the Community Development Block Grant Program, which got its start in 1974 when President Gerald Ford signed the Housing and Community Development Act.

The idea behind this legislation was to create a tool that states and local leaders could use in building better communities while offering job growth. More than 40 years later, the grants from this program continue to show their worth.

Last Thursday, nine communities in our area — Buckland, Greenfield, Leverett, Deerfield, Sunderland, Conway, Montague and Shelburne in Franklin County, and Athol in Worcester County — were among the 39 Community Development Block Grants awarded across the state by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker. In total, $30.5 million was given to 58 communities across Massachusetts.

The money will go toward street and housing improvements to money for food pantries in a couple of the communities. The money will help projects that are far from frivolous — rather, “Assistance is provided to qualifying cities and towns for housing, community, and economic development projects that assist low- and moderate-income residents, or by revitalizing areas of slum or blight.” And that kind of help serves us all.

Big shoes to fill

We often hear about people who have left a job that “they’ll be hard to replace.” In the case of two longtime Greenfield firefighters who recently retired, that seems especially true. Capt. Clark Seaman and Lt. Keith Gamage turned in their badges with more than 60 years of firefighter service between them.

“The experience that both men had will be missed, and leaves a hole in the department. The department and city owes these two men a great deal of gratitude for their service,” a Fire Department press release stated.

Experience can be defined in a number of ways and in this case, we think of institutional knowledge of understanding the department and the quirks and joys of Greenfield. Consider that Seaman was an original member of the Massachusetts Hazardous Materials Team, and, as it turns out, the department’s historian. Gamage, known for his bravery and dedication, also designed the department’s patch.

We join in thanking them for their service and wish them well in where life now takes them.

Public art

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” has been a saying and concept that has been around for centuries and is certainly applicable to art, including public art. As described on the Greenfield Recreation Department’s Facebook post, “The Cyclist,” Greenfield’s newest public sculpture, is “a 6-foot-long solid bronze sculpture of a cyclist moving forward through space.” And as the artist, Ernesto Montenegro, states, “The Cyclist celebrates the freedom and joy of the rider. It exemplifies Greenfield’s goal to invite alternative transportation and healthy living.”

In our eyes, it is a stunning piece of work that deserves a place where more people can appreciate it. Unfortunately, that’s not what we see at its location at the edge of one of Fiske Avenue’s parking lots. Unless you have a reason to turn off Main Street (heading to the Energy Park, perhaps?), chances are you might never see it. This sculpture deserves a more prominent place whether that location is downtown or somewhere else.

Happy trails to Mike

And we would be remiss if we did not give a shout out to our longtime co-worker, Mike Currie of Conway, who is retiring after 36 years selling advertising for us here at The Greenfield Recorder. This week is his final one representing us out in the county. If you see Mike, join us in wishing him a long and active retirement. We will miss you, Mike!