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Rep. McGovern touches base with constituents during visit

  • U.S. Rep. James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Greenfields Market Saturday afternoon. McGovern made several stops in the county to talk with constituents.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    U.S. Rep. James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Greenfields Market Saturday afternoon. McGovern made several stops in the county to talk with constituents.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • US Representative James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Greenfields Market Saturday afternoon.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    US Representative James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Greenfields Market Saturday afternoon.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • US Representative James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Northfield Coffee and Books Saturday afternoon.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    US Representative James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Northfield Coffee and Books Saturday afternoon.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • U.S. Rep. James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Greenfields Market Saturday afternoon. McGovern made several stops in the county to talk with constituents.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • US Representative James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Greenfields Market Saturday afternoon.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • US Representative James "Jim" McGovern discusses Franklin County's issues and opportunities with constituents at Northfield Coffee and Books Saturday afternoon.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

GREENFIELD — U.S. Rep. James “Jim” McGovern wants to take what Franklin County’s got and give it to the rest of the country.

“What I love about the new part of my district is that, out here, people demonstrate how to do things right,” McGovern told a crowd of constituents gathered at Green Fields Market Saturday. His district, largely in Worcester County, grew to include Greenfield and 13 central and eastern Franklin County towns during last year’s federal redistricting.

His words referred to the county’s commitment to sustainable living, support of local agriculture and enthusiasm for renewable energies.

“We need to take what you have and make it contagious, spread it,” he continued. “A lot of what you’re doing here is what the rest of the country should do.”

McGovern also said he wants to help the area capitalize on things that are already in place in many parts of the country.

“We need to develop a master plan for what (public transportation) means here,” he said. “Where should we invest? In rail travel? Bike paths? Small vans or bigger buses?”

The congressman said he would work closely in Washington, D.C., and with state representatives, as well as the state’s administration once a new governor takes office next year, to improve public transportation in the more rural part of his district.

McGovern also wants to preserve the open spaces and natural resources of the area. He spoke out against the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline expansion, which would cut across several Franklin County towns on its way from the New York border to Dracut.

“We all have to figure out what we can do to screw up the works (for the pipeline),” he told a crowd at Northfield Coffee and Books earlier in the day.

McGovern said it can’t be left up to the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to decide whether the pipeline is safe for people or the environment, or whether it’s in the public’s best interest.

“My experience with FERC is that (its decisions) are a slam-dunk for the industry,” he said. “Whatever the industry wants, it gets. I don’t trust FERC at all.”

Rather than paving the way for a private company’s pipeline to run through state forests, conservation land and waterways, he said, the government should help the area capitalize on its rural beauty.

“Part of what we need to do is sell this part of the state better,” he told those gathered in Northfield. “Before I represented you, I didn’t know some of these beautiful places existed.”

If Massachusetts residents and people elsewhere knew about the outdoor recreational opportunities the area had to offer, he said, more tourists would take advantage of them, and that would benefit local businesses.

It could be as simple as setting up kiosks with brochures and guides at the region’s airports. When he visits South Dakota, McGovern said, the first things he sees when he arrives in the small Sioux Falls airport are posters and racks of brochures advertising the state’s attractions and activities.

“When you fly into Boston, there’s nothing there about the state,” he said.

McGovern vowed to reach out to Massport, which runs Logan International Airport, to help promote tourism in the Pioneer Valley and the rest of the state.

McGovern also responded to constituents’ concerns about other flying travelers — the honeybees.

A member of the House Agricultural Committee, McGovern said he, too, is concerned about the insects’ dwindling numbers and the effect that could have on farming. He said he’s heard from beekeepers in all areas of his district and plans to attend a fall “bee summit” with representatives of the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture to explore ways to help bring back the bee population.

The congressman also addressed constituents’ frustrations with the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

“If I were president, I would remove all U.S. military bases in the Middle East,” he said. “They don’t create security; they create resentment.”

That resentment, he said, can be used by extremists to foster terrorism.

“What if we were known, instead, as the county that’s fighting world hunger and poverty?” McGovern asked. “If that’s our image, and this is an extreme idea, maybe people won’t want to blow us up.”

McGovern left promising the crowd he would continue to fight for the causes they believe in, and said he would return to the area soon.

You can reach David Rainville at: drainville@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

On Twitter follow: @RecorderRain

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