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Editorial: Communities realizing future of energy lies in solar power


Sunday, August 27, 2017

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

The state is investing in solar power, big and small in Franklin County, continuing to do our part to power the world with renewable energy.

On the small side, Hawley will be using part of a $136,920 Green Communities grant to buy and install a 10-kilowatt solar panel system on the town’s Highway Garage, which should save the town money in the long run.

On the large side, the state is investing $545,000 in Greenfield to install a 436-kilowatt solar canopy over the Franklin County Jail and House of Corrections parking area. Same deal. Once operating, the panels should save the Elm Street jail operating expenses that we hope will be redirected to programs for inmates.

Pool time may be coming after all

Buckland has one wonderful benefactor — who has donated $500,000 anonymously for the construction of a new swimming pool for the Buckland Recreation Area.

The old popular, but leaky, concrete pool was removed this past year with no firm plans to raise the million dollars or so needed to incorporate a new one into envisioned renovations to the town’s recreation area off Route 112.

Besides the costs of building a municipal-size pool, the town must install a new septic system that’s out of the flood plain. The town needs a new pool house, new pumps and a new parking area. Also, some landscaping will be necessary.

But the donation is “certainly two-thirds of what we need,” said town Administrator Andrea Llamas. “It certainly has made the pool a doable project much, much sooner than we could have ever imagined. This pushes the pool to a 99 percent chance of coming back.”

Recalling legacy of Lunt Silversmiths

The Greenfield Historical Society, which over the years has moved in and out of the public eye, re-emerged this month with an exciting program on the 107-year history of Lunt Silversmiths, long a mainstay in the community employing hundreds of residents from Greenfield and the surrounding area. The sterling flatware, silverware and gifts manufacturer filed for bankruptcy in 2009, ceasing manufacturing and selling its brand the following year.

This weekend, the society hosted a reflection on the company’s storied past with photos, artwork and much of the beautiful silver works themselves from local collections.

It’s part of the society’s goal to reinvigorate itself.

“We were sort of stalled for about five years,” admitted Society member Karin Benson, who added that now “There’s starting to be a nice little buzz about us, that there’s something different happening.”

Program benefits local farms, families

The state is making healthy, fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables more available to SNAP recipients through a new state program launched in June.

People struggling economically are able to use their food subsidy credits, formerly known as food stamps, to buy produce from local farms, helping their families and the farms.

The program, which matches every SNAP dollar spent on local produce, is paid for by $1.35 million in state funds for the Healthy Incentives Program,  and a federal program provides SNAP credit card processing machines for farmers markets, spreading their use further still.