Five College Area News

Amherst school schedule changes draw ire

AMHERST — Parents and other community members expressed discontent this week with proposed schedule changes at the Amherst-Pelham Regional Middle School that would increase time for English, math, science and social studies while decreasing time for many electives. Leverett and Shutesbury elementary school students go on to the Amherst middle school. The proposal will be brought to Superintendent Maria Geryk to make a decision by Feb. 1, according to school officials. About 75 people attended a meeting at the middle school library, and most directed 0

UMass prof ‘critical’ after Statehouse collapse

BOSTON — Ralph Whitehead Jr., a journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is in critical condition at a Boston hospital Thursday after he collapsed in the Statehouse following the Wednesday election of his friend, Amherst Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg, as Senate president. A Massachusetts General Hospital spokesman Thursday said Whitehead, 71, is in critical condition, though would give no further details. The UMass journalism department Thursday released this statement: “We are aware of Professor Whitehead’s condition, and we are deeply concerned. A longtime 0

Amherst fire captain to be Leverett chief

LEVERETT — An Amherst native and captain in the Amherst Fire Department will become the next fire chief in Leverett this month. John Ingram was unanimously hired for the part-time position by the Selectboard Tuesday, said member Peter d’Errico. “By the end of the month, he’ll be in the position,” d’Errico said. John Moruzzi, who has been fire chief since February 1988 and a member of the town’s force since 1974, is retiring after reaching the state mandatory retirement age of 65, but will stay 0

Recommended new hire would explore housing options for Amherst and UMass

AMHERST — The special committee formed by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the town to address common housing and economic development opportunities has recommended hiring an economic development director, who would be charged with exploring mixed-use development sites, pursuing public-private development and creating a university “anchor strategy” for segments of the local economy. The 24-member Town Gown Steering Committee cited the analysis provided by consultants U3 Advisors this fall as a “valuable starting point” and recommended creating a University-Town of Amherst Collaborative to coordinate continuing 0

Amherst sees drop in police calls, violations

AMHERST — As the fall academic semester closed, town officials say a decline in noise complaints and calls for medical help, as well as a steep drop in tickets issued for quality-of-life violations, are all indicators of improved behavior by college-age people. Town Manager John Musante said the semester saw positive steps as indicated by the reduced number of police calls for service and slightly fewer ambulance runs for intoxicated people on the college campuses. Musante said he believes students, especially those at the University 0

Military marriages

AMHERST — While numerous studies have shown that the marriage rate among military service members is much higher than civilians of the same age, new research from a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts has found specific reasons that lead these young men and women to make this important decision. And the researcher says there could be implications for the civilian population. “The biggest policy implication of our research relates to all families, not just military families,” the study’s report concludes. “... on the basis 0

Academic programs see hope for simplified Cuban exchanges

AMHERST — During his most recent visit to Havana just last week, Jerry Guidera noticed hints of a looming change in the long-strained relations between Cuba and the United States. “There was a sense of excitement building that I hadn’t seen before,” said Guidera, an Amherst resident who spent part of his week-long trip at the U.S. Interests Section, where American diplomats aid the processing of visas and help with educational exchange programs such as the Spanish Studies Abroad program he oversees. Now back on 0

Rosenberg rising

NORTHAMPTON — When state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg was named chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee in 1996, he said time would tell whether the job would be the pinnacle of his career or just a step on the ladder. If, as is widely expected, he is elected next month to be president of the Senate, it will be clear that heading up the powerful Ways and Means panel, which decides who gets money and how much, was a step toward an even more 0

Next stop: Commuter rail

NORTHAMPTON — Now that the decades-long dream of a high-speed train zooming along the Connecticut River valley is a lock, the region’s leaders expect to turn their attention to the next significant game-changer — a commuter rail system shuttling passengers up and down the region many times a day. From the region’s northern reaches in Greenfield to its southern end in Springfield, regional planners, municipal officials, economic development experts and others are lobbying intensely for a system through which as many as five locomotives would 0

UMass Sunwheel and sky-watching events mark Solstice Dec. 21

AMHERST — The public is invited to witness sunrise and sunset associated with the winter solstice among the standing stones of the UMass Sunwheel on Sunday at 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Heavy rain, snow or dangerous winter conditions will cancel the gatherings. Sunwheel events mark the astronomical changes of the seasons. The winter solstice marks the date when nights are longest and days are shortest in the Northern Hemisphere and the sun rises and sets at its most southerly location along the horizon, over 0