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Neighbors: Look at jury duty as a way to get to know your neighbors

Hello neighbor.

I was called to jury duty on Monday and I have to admit, I wasn’t thrilled when I first thought about it. I had so many other things that needed to get done at work and at home.

But, I got up extra early so I’d have time to fix myself a hearty breakfast, hoping it would get me through the morning, because I wasn’t sure how long I’d be there. The last time I served, many years ago, I was there for about six hours before they sent us home and they didn’t serve us lunch.

It turned out I was only there two hours, because the person who was going to trial pled guilty before the case got into the courtroom.

I had arrived at the Franklin County Courthouse in Greenfield at 8 a.m. and stood in a line waiting to be checked in and became prospective juror Number 53.

Then I was sent with more than 50 others to the grand jury room where we waited close to an hour for the court officer to come in and let us know what to expect and show us a short film about jury duty.

The room, filled with a sick mix of cologne and cigarettes, was almost overflowing with neighbors from all over the county and walks of life. We were gathered for the same reason. We would soon find out if we’d be chosen to decide the fate of another neighbor.

The youngest potential juror appeared to be in his 20s and the oldest was probably in her late 60s. Our attire ranged from dressy casual to jeans and cowboy boots.

Some people brought books to read while waiting and others just sat and stared, possibly trying to decide what they were going to make for dinner. Others did crossword puzzles or read The Recorder.

Some knew each other well, it seemed, and did some catching up, while strangers and acquaintances had brief conversations about the weather and travel.

However you feel about jury duty, some people dread it and others seem to live for it, a couple of things are certain: it makes you feel good about serving your community, and your country, and it is definitely a good way to meet your neighbors.

So for those of you who aren’t thrilled the next time you go to your mailbox and find the call to jury duty, try to think of it not as wasted time, but as a way to serve, as well as an opportunity to make a new friend or two.

I hope the rest of your week is good.

FRANKLIN COUNTY’S FIRST BABY of 2013 was born at 12:15 a.m. on Jan. 2, according to Baystate Franklin Medical Center.

Caroline Moran was born to Kera Brown and Josh Moran of Greenfield.

Unfortunately, I was not able to reach the couple to see how things are going, but congratulations to you, Kera and Josh, and welcome, Caroline.

THE CHILDREN’S BOOK DRIVE for victims of Hurricane Sandy, which I’ve been telling you about for several weeks now, is over and has collected 1,000 books filling 13 boxes.

Now organizers are looking for a driver who would be willing to deliver them to New York City.

Molly Chambers said she, Debbie Richards and Pam Kelly are grateful to the drop-off sites, including Franklin County Home Care Corp., Raven Used Books, Federal Street Books, World Eye Bookshop, Greenfield Public Library, and All Souls Church for allowing people to drop off donations. She said WMUA’s Darryl Clark, WMCB’s Daria Fisk, and The Recorder were also very helpful.

Glad we could be!

“Some of the libraries in New York were flooded during the storm and children’s books are always on lower shelves, so they were lost,” said Molly. “We are really excited about this. We have some really wonderful, beautiful books to deliver.”

Molly said some of the books will go to a couple of libraries in New York City and others will go straight into the hands of some of the youngest victims of the storm.

If you are interested in delivering the books, call Molly at 413-772-0003 or Debbie at 339-224-0922.

DIANE HERZIG OF COLRAIN wants to invite people to a fundraiser that will benefit her 39-year-old son, Holland, who recently had a brain tumor removed and is still struggling to pay medical costs.

Holland, who grew up in Colrain and still lives there, was a plumbing teacher at Franklin County Technical School before he was laid off because of budget cuts.

He had surgery last September and spent until early November in the intensive care unit. Then he had to go to rehabilitation, Diane told me.

A dinner-raffle will be held Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the Shelburne-Buckland Community Center. The chicken medallion dinner will be accompanied by rice pilaf, salad and brownie-a-la-mode.

For more information about the dinner or to make a reservation, contact Nancy Finn at 413-625-8148 or Father Tony at 625-6405.

FLORAL AFFAIRS IS HOSTING its fifth annual Bridal Show at the Pushkin Gallery in Greenfield on Jan. 26 from noon to 5 p.m.

Details will follow in a week or two, so be watching for them in Neighbors.

FOR THOSE OF YOU INTERESTED in local eagles, after more than 30 years of conducting a mid-winter eagle survey in January, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) will be shifting its efforts to a survey of breeding eagles in the spring.

Tom French, assistant director of Natural Heritage and Endangered Species, said it is a good time to shift the focus to the state’s growing population of resident, nesting birds.

Tom said that switching the time of the survey will help locate active nests for all known pairs and might reveal nests of additional breeding eagles.

For more information, visit: www.mass.gov/masswildlife.

JUST A REMINDER: I don’t want to belabor the point, but I’d really like to hear from you about you or your neighbors and what you are doing. I’ve heard from a few, but I’d like to hear from all of you.

Please contact me with information about something you or someone you know is doing or maybe about your travels through Franklin County.

Your neighbors want to get to know you, too.

To contact Anita Fritz, a staff reporter at The Recorder, send an email to: anita.alice.fritz@gmail.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 280 or her cell at 413-388-6950. You can also reach Anita on Facebook at Anita’s Neighbors. Information to be included in Neighbors may also be sent to: neighbors@recorder.com up to noon on the day before you want it to run.

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