Editorial: CiderDays remains a fitting tribute to fall

Monday, November 13, 2017

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

CiderDays has come and gone now, capping our season of autumn fun, festivals and fairs. The events, which spread across the county at a range of orchards and other venues, has come to attract visitors from across western Mass. and the Northeast.

Lisa Davol, marketing and membership manager at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce, said she was “getting reports all day of standing room only” at the events. Complementing the Franklin County Chamber’s mission to support agritourism and to attract people to the region, Davol said CiderDays leads to pack restaurants as well bed and breakfasts and hotels.

“It seems like it’s just getting bigger and bigger every year,” noted Dave Lewis, a brewer with West County Cider. It certainly provides a sparkling and refreshing farewell toast to the season.

Answer to their prayers

Great news for the Leyden United Methodist Church, which earlier this year was wondering whether it would still be operating at year’s end. Recent fundraisers have helped free the church from its financial crisis.

Between raising about $9,000 through its popular food booth at the Franklin County Fair, and receiving another $2,500 between two Columbus Day weekend benefits, church Treasurer Gilda Galvis reports the church is “in pretty good shape.”

The church had struggled to pay its minister’s salary, the pianist’s services, and heat and electricity bills. A grant from New England Conference of the United Methodist Church is helping, and more fundraisers are planned for later this year. We hope the people of Leyden will get to keep their local church for years to come.

Easing the road to recovery

With a $100,000 grant, the Franklin Regional Transit Authority is offering a free shuttle service for those seeking treatment and recovery services in Greenfield.

Through this one-year grant, residents in the FRTA’s service area who acknowledge they are getting treatment or are in recovery, can go to one of four locations — three in Greenfield and one in Athol — to fill out an application to get the pass to ride the shuttle. They can go to the Greenfield-based locations of Clean Slate, The RECOVER Project or the Upper Pioneer Valley Veterans Services District. They can also go to the North Quabbin Community Coalition in Athol.

The “Freedom Shuttle,” as it will be called, will be available Monday to Friday and will help service hill towns. It will start at 7:15 a.m. at Buckland Library, then head to Ashfield and Conway, and then onto Greenfield.

We agree with Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan, a leader of the regional opioid task force, who explained that ready access to transportation is crucial to an individual’s success as they recover from a substance use disorder.

“It allows them the freedom to get their lives back on track,” he said.

Big-hearted winners and losers

It was heartening to see the images captured by Recorder photographer Dan Little after the Greenfield town election on Tuesday: Images of political opponents hugging each other. The paper’s lead photo Wednesday showed Penny Ricketts, the top vote-getter in the at-large Town Council race, embraced by the person who just missed winning, Andrew Killeen. And our photos captured Dan Oros congratulating his victorious opponent, Precinct 7 Town Council candidate Otis Wheeler.

That’s the generous spirit we love to see in local politics and like to think of as characteristic of Franklin County.

Big news for small projects in Orange

We were also happy to hear the good news for LaunchSpace, a 10,000-square-foot workshop space on the third floor of the Orange Innovation Center for people to engage in hands-on crafting of personal and collaborative projects and art.

LaunchSpace is receiving a $250,000 grant from the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency. The money will be used to repurpose the empty industrial space and upgrade its insulation, HVAC system, windows and electric system, making it more useful for small entrepreneurs.