Editorial: Monday Shorts: Rep. Neal makes an appearance

  • U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, right, talks with Jon and Jim Schaefer, owners of Berkshire East Mountain Resort, at the base lodge on Thursday in Charlemont. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 1/31/2021 4:49:36 PM

Here are some brief thoughts on recent happenings in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region.

Neal sees green at Berkshire East

U.S. District 1 Rep. Richard Neal made a rare but worthwhile appearance in West County when he visited Berkshire East Mountain Resort in Charlemont.

Neal has said, “Climate change poses a profound threat to our way of life” and last year held the first hearing on climate change in over a decade. Here, Neal found proof that renewable energy works. Resort owners, brothers Jon and Jim Schaefer, emphasized that Berkshire East is the only ski mountain in the world that runs exclusively on renewable energy consisting of solar and wind.

With President Biden in the White House, climate change is looking like a winning issue. As chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, Neal is in a position to promote new tax credits that can encourage renewable energy. “What we’re trying to do,” Neal said Thursday, “Is to point out that the tax system can bring people economically to renewable energy. I think it is the key.”

It’s good to see that Franklin County is on Neal’s radar.

Teens get their own librarian

Over the years, Assistant Head of Borrowing Services Francesca Passiglia has created all types of programs for teens, including a pizza and movie night, art club, half-day ounce, graphic novel discussion club, book-to-movie program and more. Now, as the first teen librarian at Greenfield Public Library, Passiglia can focus all her energies on teen programming.

With a new building in the offing, that’s a great move. The new library will feature a 1,500-square-foot “Teen Zone” plus a 450-square-foot makerspace that teens will certainly gravitate to. A designated librarian will ensure the best use of those spaces.

But Passiglia isn’t waiting for the new library to be built. She’s already working with an advisory committee of about 30 middle- and high school youths who have shared ideas for their room at the new library. Passiglia also envisions open mic sessions at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center, movies at the Garden. Cinemas and events at the Franklin County YMCA.

“We want to make this a big draw for youths in Greenfield and across the county,” said Passiglia.

In the meantime, she plans to start a Teen Advisor Board that would meet monthly via Zoom to discuss books and suggest additions to the library’s teen collection.

Already, the new library is energizing the city.

EPA to clean up industrial site

“Rudy Vine here at Railroad Salvage!” went the cheery opening to the owner’s TV commercials. That would have been pre-1994, before the discount retail store closed.

But readers with long memories of buying back-to-school clothes cheap in the vintage factory store in Turners Falls’ industrial Canal District were probably heartened to read last week that the property’s long downward spiral may take an eventual upturn with news that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has committed to cleaning the site.

A clean bill of health could lead to the town taking ownership and pursuing some kind of commercial redevelopment. It’s such a long road, but kudos to the town of Montague for its persistence.


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