Editorial: Home upgrades a good use of funds

Sunday, September 10, 2017

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

Orange residents of the Pine Crest and King James housing complexes can look forward to new curbing, walkways and lighting as well as some apartment renovations as part of refurbishments being paid with state and private money.

Richard Henken, president of The Schochet Companies, a Braintree real estate management company that oversees the complexes, said Pine Crest and King James will benefit from roughly $18 million that will go toward rehabilitation of the 234-home development.

Henken also said Schochet will replace “a large number of kitchens and bathrooms” and will conduct in-house modifications. There will also be new roofs, doors, locks and windows throughout the complexes and modifications to the handicap-accessible homes. It’s nice to see the state encourage private upgrades for the homes of so many people in the North Quabbin area.

Bucking the trend

While so many local schools struggle with declining enrollment, a Christian prep school on South Mountain Road proves to be one of the exceptions.

Redemption Christian Academy, which teaches students from around the world, is seeing an uptick in enrollment this year from around 55 students to about 80.

It’s encouraging to see the latest addition to the county’s educational landscape is flourishing. The private school, for students from pre-K to high school post-graduate, has kept fairly stable numbers in recent years. But its Program Director Marquita Wilchcombe believes the word is spreading about Redemption Christian, which has replaced the failed Linden Hill School as part of the county’s educational mix.

“I think students are really enjoying their experience here and word is spreading,” she said. Students, she believes, return home to countries like the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Venezuela, and share stories about their academic and athletic programs.

Part of the school’s allure may stem from its willingness to accept different types of learners who are not necessarily “ready-made students,” such as students with ADHD or dyslexia.

Fixing what ails society

How many people have a wobbly wooden chair somewhere at home, a shirt with a torn cuff or a missing button, or a lamp that needs a new cord? What do you do if you never learned how to fix that problem? The answer may be the upcoming “Repair Colrain: A Free Fixit Day” on Sept. 16, where people can get things fixed or just watch and learn.

Modeled after the Repair Cafe concept that began in The Netherlands, Colrain’s Fixit Day will have “fixers” who can show you how to mend clothes, repair bikes, glue broken ceramics, fix weed-whackers and sharpen knives.

“It’s our tradition. New Englanders have always mended, fixed and repaired … We can pass on these valuable skills before they are forgotten,” the library trustees have said in explaining their motivation.

They see this as a way to fight planned obsolescence and a throw-away consumer culture. And we think that goal, one facet of a sustainable society, is worth encouraging.

Getting ahead of the game

Leaders of Gill and Montague are discussing how to create a long-term plan for the viability of their regional public school system.

At a meeting in the Montague Senior Center Wednesday night, they settled on several steps, the first of which is a meeting on Sept. 19 where all involved parties will learn more about state funding formulas, Chapter 70 aid and how the district is funded. It sounds dry and granular but you can’t solve funding problems without getting some fiscal dirt under your fingernails, and the school and municipal leaders of the two towns deserve credit for trying to head off problems with some hard work.

Wednesday’s conversation was the second on this topic. Those in attendance hope that by discussing the funding formulas and establishing clear goals, they will get ahead of budget season. Other goals included starting talks with other districts for possible collaboration, and contacting state legislators to make sure they understand the challenges of the district and to see if they think the state is giving the district enough money.