In The Arena

In the Arena: Giving out this year’s gifts

The Christmas season is upon us, and that means it is time to once again take a peek under the tree and see what Santa has left our merry band of newsmakers in the “In The Arena holiday gift bag” for 2013.

FOR THE DOG OWNERS of Greenfield, a large tract of land for a brand new dog park, and preferably one that doesn’t require being up on pontoons for two months out of the year.

FOR GREENFIELD’S TAXPAYERS, a long-awaited reduction in their tax bills, which is technically a re-gift because they are already getting it because property values dropped by 1 percent this year. Don’t spend it all in one place guys.

FOR GREENFIELD PLANNING BOARD Chairwoman Roxann Wedegartner, a full complement of voting members so she can conduct basic business in what will likely be her last year on that particular board.

FOR FORMER TOWN COUNCILOR Tim Farrell, his name on the 2014 Greenfield Precinct 2 Town Council ballot — and a new place to sleep should he decide to actually make a run for that seat.

FOR THE FORMER PRECINCT 2 representative, Keith Zaltzberg, a quick return to the arena, because I believe he and At-Large Councilor Mark Maloni have the potential to lead the “new” Greenfield into the next political era.

FOR GREENFIELD MAYOR Bill Martin, another “underride” for 2014, and at least some tacit credit for his “zero-based” budgeting philosophy — which has this town on the kind of budgetary “terra firma” that other communities dream about.

FOR THE GREENFIELD SCHOOL Committee which Martin chairs, a zero-based budget of its own and a superintendent who has the ability to implement it, preferably before Superintendent Susan Hollins shuffles off to retirement.

FOR THE FOOD BANK of Western Massachusetts Director Andrew Morehouse, 3 million pounds of newly donated food to help fill the massive gap being created by real and potential cuts to the federal SNAP program.

AND WHILE we are on the subject of hunger awareness, two new pairs of Nikes for WRSI morning man Monte Belmonte and Congressman Jim McGovern, for next year’s “Monte’s March” to raise money and awareness for the Food Bank.

TURNING OUR ATTENTION to Boston, a new overnight bag for Gov. Deval Patrick and a picture of his Statehouse office so he doesn’t forget what it looks like when he’s off on the numerous “trade missions” that will likely be the main priority of his last year in office.

FOR FORMER U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, 58 percent of the vote in the Granite State next November.

FOR SENATE PRESIDENT-IN-WAITING Stan Rosenberg, a shiny new gavel, and a chance to use it long before January 2015.

FOR HIS COHORT in the House, Steve Kulik, a chance to remove the word “vice” from his current title on the Ways and Means Committee.

FOR SHELBURNE Selectman Joe Judd, continued good health and some movement on his efforts to create a new tourist attraction at the Glacial Potholes, which continues to be one of the county’s unpolished jewels, in my opinion.

FOR NORTHFIELD, two more selectmen and maybe a representative town meeting or council to go along with its new town administrator.

FOR MONTAGUE, a wrecking ball for the Railroad Salvage and someone who will actually redevelop the former Strathmore property rather than just talk about it.

FOR THE UNION NURSES at Baystate Franklin Medical Center, a contract that doesn’t require a strike and, barring that, recognition that they have become pawns in a much larger political chess match between Baystate management and the Mass. Nurses Association.

FOR GREENFIELD BUSINESS Association Director Caitlin Von Schmidt, a greater public awareness of the “Rejuvenators,” and their mission to make downtown a better place for everyone.

FOR NEW GREENFIELD Police Chief Robbie Haigh, an end to the robberies and the administrative logjam that has held up the hiring of the new cops he desperately needs.

FOR THE CLAY OVEN, Seymour, the Brass Buckle, and all of the other new places in Greenfield, an endless stream of hipsters with deep pockets to keep that economic train rolling.

AND FOR THE REST of us, a season full of peace and joy, and just enough snow to keep things festive and the plow and ski lift operators gainfully employed.

Ho, ho, ho ...

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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