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Editorial: Good to see GCC get some well-deserved funding


Monday, November 20, 2017

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

A bit of good news from Beacon Hill. Following funding cuts by the governor in July, the state Senate has voted to restore $130,000 to Greenfield Community College for two of its initiatives — the college’s farm and food systems pilot program and its partnership programs in Northampton and Amherst.

It probably helps that our local legislative delegation carries lots of clout in the Senate and on financial matters, because GCC is the smallest public college in the state and can use all the support it gets.

With this money, the farm and food systems pilot program will be able to get a farther off the ground.

Broadband money

A pending state bond bill could add about $17 million more in funding for broadband to unserved communities, like many small Franklin County towns that have been waiting for years to get high-speed internet with the state’s help.

Sen. Stan Rosenberg’s office confirmed that both the state House and Senate have recently reauthorized $32 million for “technical assistance, planning and studies, designs, specifications, construction” and other municipal needs related to broadband.

“While we have made recent progress, many towns need additional funds for a range of reasons. This bond authorization is critical for finalizing access to this basic utility,” said state Sen. Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield.

Champs

The Greenfield field hockey team looked like it was headed for the state finals, until it didn’t. But the team’s players are still champs in our book, and, in fact, are the western Massachusetts champs, which is no small feat. They seemed to have an off day on the wrong day last Tuesday, when they lost the MIAA Div. II state semifinal at Grafton High School.

Talk it out

We agree with Linda Driscoll of Conway who told her selectmen last week, “I am not coming to you tonight to debate the merits of the (proposed Safe Community) bylaw. That should have happened at our town meeting.”

Debate over whether to declare Conway a refuge for illegal immigrants was cut off at the Nov. 30 town meeting by a quick motion to table following opening remarks by proponents and by the Selectboard chairman and the police chief, who were opposed.

The hot-button issue was tabled by a 59-56 vote, which tells you how close a vote on the merits may have been. While some people felt it better not to open a schism over the issue, we think everyone should have had a chance to say their piece before a final vote.

Had it passed, the bylaw would have prevented Conway police from honoring noncriminal civil immigration detainer requests, and all town employees from acting as immigration officers.

Selectman Robert Baker says tabling the motion wasn’t planned in advance. “There’s no conspiracy. We never discussed it,” he said last week.

Fortunately, for those who want democracy to play out on this issue, the proposal will in all likelihood return at the spring annual Town Meeting, one way or another.