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In The Arena

In the Arena: A simple succession

I can’t think of a better way to kick off the New Year than by being among the first to congratulate Greenfield Town Clerk Maureen Winseck on her decision to leave Town Hall and venture out into the dreaded private sector.

And while we’re at it, I’d like to offer a note of congrats to assistant clerk Deborah Tuttle, who is likely to succeed Winseck in that job.

Of course, the second part hasn’t happened yet — and if it doesn’t, there is something seriously wrong in this town.

Let’s start with Winseck, whose departure will sever what is the last remaining tie between the Merrigan family and Greenfield town government. Maureen is going back to the real estate business, selling for Fitzgerald Real Estate.

“I’m looking forward to the change,” Winseck said. “I started out doing this before I got into town government and I’ve always thought I’d get back to it eventually.”

Winseck last day is Jan. 24, roughly three weeks after she celebrates 25 years as Greenfield’s clerk. For 16 of those, Tuttle has been her right hand, and, it would seem, a shoo-in for the job. But this is Greenfield, where anything can, and does, happen these days and not always for the better.

What makes this whole situation even more intriguing is that this is not a mayoral appointment. This one belongs to the Town Council, or more specifically, the council president, who makes the appointment that is ratified by a vote of the full council.

That means, if nothing else, this particular appointment isn’t likely to get bogged down in the recent personnel-related muck and mire that has existed recently between the mayor and council. But that still doesn’t mean Tuttle is a lock. As we’ve seen recently, a solid resume, requisite experience and knowledge of the position doesn’t always pass as qualifications with “not-your-grandfather’s council.”

President Mark Wisnewski appears to have a couple of options here. One is to appoint an interim clerk and conduct a wider search, if he feels that’s necessary. I know there are a few members of that council who will support a Tuttle hiring, but there are also others who have expressed a desire to see new faces brought into town government.

Which of those voices carries the most weight with Wisnewski may be the X factor when it comes time to make what, in the final analysis, shouldn’t really be that hard of a decision.

Memories made on ice

I received an unexpected boost of family pride during this holiday season, thanks to a group of budding young skaters from the Franklin County Hockey Association.

The FCHA South Deerfield Polish Club’s Mites were among 12 teams from across the commonwealth to compete in a “youth hockey jamboree” this past Monday at “Frozen Fenway” at Fenway Park. The event was sponsored by USA Hockey, Massachusetts Hockey and the Fenway Sports Group, and, according to a recap from the event organizers, the locals did pretty well.

“The Mites took the first game 6-3 and the 2nd game 8-6, but Winthrop rallied and took the final game 9-4,” the update read. “Matt Lavoine was solid in net and supported all afternoon by defensemen Talin Wissman and Ben Carlin. FCHA received multi-goal efforts from Trevor Kuchieski, Jayson Smith, Shane Prusak and Devin Niles and single goals from Brady Booska, Ethan Bryant and Braeden Killeen.”

A lot of familiar last names in that group, including Kuchieski, who is the son of Greenfield High School Athletic Director Mike Kuchieski — who was also there that day and said there were a few Bruins in the park, including his son’s hero, Jerome Iginla.

“We saw him and Trevor said ‘I wear number 12 because of you,’” Kuchieski said. “And he took a picture with us.”

Those are the kinds of memories that stay with a player for a lifetime. But one of the better parts of the story for me was the revelation that the hockey association is back on its feet after some lean years caused by the Great Recession.

“We had a pretty significant drop off in 2008, but we have come back strong,” FCHA President C.J. Spofford said. “And a big reason is because of the great volunteers we have. They are the backbone of this organization.”

You don’t have to tell me. I grew up in it, bringing me to the aforementioned family connection. My late father helped found the FCHA, but he was also from Brookline and, in his younger years, worked as a vendor at Fenway. I just have to believe that, wherever he is, Ralph was tickled pink to see a team from an organization he established skating in one of his favorite venues to the cheers of parents, loved ones and friends.

Talk about a “Field of Dreams” moment, albeit a frozen one.

Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder, and is a Greenfield native.

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