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In The Arena

In the Arena: Putting out a call to help

It appears the concept of positive karma has been somewhat turned on its ear this week.

A couple of former Turners Falls High School athletes head out for a snowmobile ride on a cold Saturday night and end up hitting a concrete barrier at the edge of the Montague Plains. Both are popular, good kids, with bright futures, who suffer serious injuries. In an effort to help, Turners Falls parent and sports booster and, I’m proud to say, lifelong friend, Alan Charboneau launches an online fundraiser to help defray medical expenses and ease the burden on the families of victims Wyatt Bourbeau and Dominic Emery.

“We’ve got a great bunch of kids here in Turners Falls, and the families are great, too,” Charboneau said. “You’d like to think and hope that if it was you in that situation, there would be people supporting you.”

This is where it gets a little weird. Less than an hour after Charboneau spoke those words, emergency crews were called to the East Deerfield Railroad Yard to assist an injured worker. It turned out to be Alan’s younger brother Rob, another lifelong friend of mine, who ended up losing part of his right leg in an accident.

If that’s someone’s idea of a cosmic practical joke, the punchline is lost on this reporter.

The silver lining in this cloud will have to come from the generosity of this community that has the chance to step up through a pair of fundraising sites on the gofundme.com website through Facebook — the one Alan has set up for Wyatt and Dom, and another that has been established for Rob, and his wife Amy and son Preston, that was put in place by Rob Charboneau’s fellow Pan Am Railway’s employee Anthony Ruiz.

Please give what you can. And to whomever is pulling to strings up there, please stop.

District 5 candidates

Back to local politics, specifically the 2014 Greenfield town election that, at this point, does not look like it is going to include pro-growth activist Penny Ricketts.

It had been rumored that Ricketts had been considering making a run for the Precinct 5 Town Council seat being vacated by former Council President David Singer. So far, the only one to pull papers for that seat is retired Greenfield firefighter John Lyford, but Ricketts has not ruled out the possibility of making a last-minute entrance depending on what she hears on the stump.

“I’ll be listening and paying attention,” Ricketts said. “If I hear something that sets me off, I might consider taking out papers or launching a write-in.”

It might be a tall order for Ricketts, given that precinct’s demographics — but Ricketts once again proved that she is absolutely without political fear when she attempted to solicit the endorsement of perhaps the most unlikely source imaginable.

“I emailed Al Norman and asked him to back me,” Ricketts said. “He said he had another candidate he was planning to support, but didn’t say who.”

It’s not at all surprising that Penny was the sprawlbuster’s second choice — with the first being pretty much anyone else.

Police rank restructuring

New Greenfield Police Chief Robbie Haigh’s “baptism by fire” continues.

In his first months, Haigh has had to deal with a series of armed robberies, now largely solved, and recent the heroin epidemic that has seen his department deal with eight times as many drug-related calls this month as it did in January 2013.

And now, Haigh has presented Greenfield Mayor Bill Martin with a proposed command realignment for the department, that includes the establishment of the town’s first deputy police chief’s position.

“I think it would just set up better for a stronger structure within the department that we have,” Haigh said.

Haigh’s proposal for the new position, which has to be approved by Civil Service, also eliminates the captain’s position and moves the two acting-lieutenants back to sergeants, which Haigh he says will help strengthen the department’s street force.

“It just sets things up better,” Haigh said. “Greenfield is a city, and having a deputy chief is a better way to go to the situation as it exists now.”

If nothing else, it’s nice to hear someone in a position of power look at this community for what it is, rather than desperately clinging to what some wish it to be.

Chris Collins is the Franklin County News Bureau Chief for WHAI, WPVQ and WHMP Radio. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder, and is a Greenfield native.

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