Editorial: New broadband manager seems like a better fit for Greenfield

Sunday, March 04, 2018

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

It would appear that Greenfield has hired someone to run its pioneering municipal broadband organization who is a much better fit than the last manager.

John Lunt, the mayor’s assistant for special projects, is the new general manager of the Greenfield Community, Energy and Technology agency — replacing a former manager who was fired after accusations of mismanagement and bullying. The quasi-municipal internet service is currently in the process of building a broadband network to serve the city.

There were many grievances about Lunt’s predecessor. One was his pay. He wanted at least $150,000 — a bone of contention with some city councilors. Lunt’s salary will be $77,000.

Sweet news

Winter may not have ended yet, according to the calendar, and as this past weekend’s experience can attest, weather is still a wildcard in March. But in our book, it’s no longer winter — it’s sugar season.

Boyden Brothers of Conway is already making maple syrup, having started Feb. 20.

“That’s the earliest we’ve ever boiled,” Howard Boyden told the Recorder. What climate change?

“My son says February is the new March, and it seems that way. I think we’re just a little rushed,” Boyden said. “But it’s nice to get a first batch of early syrup already made.”

Looking forward to tasting that syrup.

Nurses, hospital do right thing

We were happy to see that the Baystate Franklin Medical Center nurses and their hospital were able to avert a planned strike and lockout, in favor of continuing their contract talks into March.

We hope that means both sides have placed first the good of their patients, whose care would be disrupted by a work stoppage.

Last we heard, the two sides are slated to meet March 14. Despite the nurses union having authorized a one-day strike, it is instead on track to continue bargaining in an attempt to resolve its 16-month contract dispute.

Cabin fever

One of the quirky things to love in Franklin County is the annual Cabin Fever Seed Swap, held at the tail end of February — packed with people from all walks of life, according to our Food and Farm columnist Wes Blixt. He noted “rockers, poets, posers, litigators and line cooks” among those who showed up to get their hands on some seeds ahead of the coming growing season.

And where else would you find the scheduled speaker (Dan Botkin of Gill) billed as a “guerilla gardener?”

Strong support

Franklin County Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director, Natalie Blais, surprised many people recently when she announced she’s running for the 1st Franklin District seat in the state House of Representatives, now that incumbent Rep. Stephen Kulik announced his intention to retire.

While some might step down from their current job to run full time, Blais plans to stay in her day job and promises that running for office won’t interfere.

According to chamber Board of Directors Chairwoman Linda Dunlavy, Blais has the support of the board in this.

“I think Natalie would be an unbelievably great representative for our region,” Dunlavy said.

If Blais were to get elected, Dunlavy said, it would be hard and sad for the chamber, but the organization would support Blais no matter where she went in public service.

Strong support from her boss, another strong county leader. Not a bad start.

Sweet deal

And if you want to encourage a sense of springtime, consider attending the Piti Theatre Co.’s ninth annual “SYRUP: One Sweet Performing Arts Festival” on March 11 in the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center.

The nationally known West County theater group will be joined by award-winning Sandglass Theater of Putney, Vt. The daylong event begins with a pancake party served by Piti Youth Troupe performers, with magic tricks and skits on the side.

Can summer be far behind?