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Neighbors: Several recognized for work

The Boston Globe travel section included the Great Falls Discovery Center and Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge in a story about “outstanding wildlife refuges to visit this season” on Sunday.
(Recorder file photo)

The Boston Globe travel section included the Great Falls Discovery Center and Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge in a story about “outstanding wildlife refuges to visit this season” on Sunday. (Recorder file photo)

Hello neighbor.

Lots of exciting news coming out of Turners Falls today. First, the town’s very own Sonya Lamonakis has been named one of What’s The 411 TV’s “25 Most Interesting People of 2013.”

Sonya, 39, who was born on a small Greek island and adopted by Stephen and Sharon Lamonakis of Turners Falls when she was just 4 months old, grew up in Turners Falls, attended Gill-Montague schools and graduated from Turners Falls High School in 1992. She also spent a post-graduate year at Stoneleigh-Burnham School in Greenfield and went on to college in Connecticut. She eventually earned a master’s degree in teaching.

Sonya now teaches in New York City, but why she has been named one of the “most interesting” people is because she is a professional boxer who is ranked the top female heavyweight in the United States and is tied for third place in the world. I understand she is working toward a world title.

You may know Sonya’s grandparents; they owned The Athens Restaurant on “the hill” in Turners Falls for many years. Her parents owned Scotty’s convenience store for years.

Sonya played softball for TFHS coach Gary Mullins when she was in high school.

It seems she discovered her love for boxing after she left high school. She began training at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn sometime around 2005 and turned professional in 2010. She was the first female boxer to be signed by boxing promoter and television-film producer Lou Dibella.

Congratulations to you Sonya! We are all very proud of you.

ALSO RECOGNIZED THIS PAST WEEK was Great Falls Discovery Center and Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge, both in Turners Falls.

The Boston Globe travel section included the refuge in a story about “outstanding wildlife refuges to visit this season” this past Sunday under the title, “Five Wild and Wonderful Refuges in New England” by Diane Bair and Pamela Wright.

The story talks about the refuge as a large preserve that protects the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed. It goes on to talk about one of the refuge’s education centers, the Great Falls Discovery Center, which is housed in a historic mill building on Avenue A in Turners Falls.

We all know by now that we’ll find all sorts of exhibits on the habitat and wildlife of the watershed. And remember, there’s a short trail that leads into the downtown and to four acres of gardens and lawns along the river.

MORE THAN A DOZEN STUDENTS FROM FRANKLIN COUNTY joined Gov. Deval Patrick for a day of service this past Saturday as part of Project 351, a community service initiative started by the governor a few years ago. I’m told the students were selected to participate by educators in their school districts because of their exceptional commitment to service.

The students come from 17 or our 26 towns and attend several of our schools: Alexandra Boyden, Benjamin Litskoski, Samanatha Kolodziej, Lilliana Wells, Emily Raymond, Ashley Walker, Noah Cunningham, Kristin Slowinski, Vega Johnson Bouchard, Mouhamdou Sidibe, Rebecca Rodgers, Haley Jean, Hannah Ray, Teya Nolan, Dana McRae, Aaron Hendry and Kelsey Jarvis.

Congratulations to all!

DO YOU LOVE MOVIE THEATERS and history? If you do, don’t miss Wednesday’s Recorder for its special supplement, “In Business Since,” which will come to you as an insert in the newspaper.

The annual publication always has a historical theme. In previous years, it has been trains, trolleys and last year, the Northfield Inn and Chateau.

This year, the special supplement features movie theaters in Franklin County. The newspaper goes fast when this supplement is included, so if you want extra copies, get them early on Wednesday.

FRANKLIN COUNTY SCHOOL COMMITTEE CAUCUS will meet tonight at 6:30 in The Greenfield Grille on Federal Street in Greenfield. The caucus was founded a few years ago by school committee members throughout Franklin County to aid the rural, scattered committee to discuss its own unique issues. It has been inactive, but some are trying to revive it.

Glenn Koocher, executive director of Massachusetts Association of School Committees, will be attending the meeting and refreshments will be served.

GREENING GREENFIELD AND ST. JAMES EPISCOPAL CHURCH will present the film “Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives” on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the church’s parish hall at the corner of Federal and Church streets.

The film talks about health problems found in lab animals, livestock and pets that have been fed genetically modified foods, and according to the local “green” committee, the documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially children, and offers a recipe for protecting people’s health.

There will be a discussion led by Ed Stockman, a biologist and co-founder of Mass Right To Know GMOs, after the film.

The event is free, though donations will be accepted. Refreshments will be served. Any questions, call 413-773-7004.

FRIENDS OF THE CHARLEMONT FAIRGROUNDS will hold its all-you-can-eat 18th annual Chili Cook-off on Sunday at the Mohawk Park Family Restaurant and Pub in Charlemont from 4 to 7 p.m. The price is $7 and Zydeco will be there to provide music. Proceeds will benefit Yankee Doodle Days 2014 (July 25-27).

For more information or to enter your chili in the cook-off, contact Tammy at: hicksff@verizon.net.

A FREE ART WORKSHOP will be held at the 1739 Bernardston Unitarian Church Meetinghouse on the corner of Church and Depot streets on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. “Pastel Paint Like The Masters: The Sunflowers,” will be offered by Greg Maichach. There’s limited space, so reserve yours at: teaganet@comcast.net.

THE NORTH QUABBIN GARLIC AND ARTS FESTIVAL is seeking recipes that feature garlic, as well as photos, stories, poems or drawings relating to the annual garlic festival.

If you have any questions or a submission, send them to Lynne Rudie at: thebookofgarlic@gmail.com.

I promise to send something in and I hope you do, too.

THE UNITY PARK ACCESSIBLE SWING PROJECT is wrapping up its Cruise Raffle ticket sales — proceeds will benefit the installation of the accessible swing.

The seven-night (May 9 through 16) Bermuda cruise for two on Norwegian Dawn will sail from Boston and all meals and entertainment will be included. The cruise is valued at $1,600.

Tickets, which are $10 each, may be purchased at Scotty’s and Kharma Salon, both in Turners Falls. They will be sold until Feb. 1 and the drawing will be held Valentine’s Day at 5 p.m. in Jake’s Tavern on Avenue A in Turners Falls.

BAYSTATE FRANKLIN MEDICAL CENTER AUXILIARY is holding a raffle for a Lovers Log Cabin quilt, designed and donated by Marjorie Reid of Greenfield. Tickets are $5 each, three for $10 and 10 for $20. They may be purchased in the Baystate Franklin Medical Center Gift Shop. The drawing will be Valentine’s Day at 3 p.m. Proceeds will benefit BFMC Rehabilitation Services.

I TOLD YOU LAST WEEK about our neighbor Joanne McGee offering Mah Jong lessons in Greenfield Public Library. Well, thanks to Friends of the Greenfield Public Library, the program will now be free for all who attend.

Lessons will be held on Wednesdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. beginning Jan. 29 and will run through March 12.

To contact Anita Fritz, a staff reporter at The Recorder, send an email to: franklincountyneighbors@gmail.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 280. 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 two days before you want it to run.

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