Applauding embrace of green power, a healthy debate on fluoride

Published: 2/12/2017 3:09:20 PM

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

The Postal Service has received the Buckland selectmen’s request to reduce the number of ZIP codes serving this town of 1,900 people from four to two.

The problems caused by ZIP code confusion in Buckland have affected voter registration, sent excise taxes to the wrong town, delayed mail receipts and caused errors on birth and death certificates. Also, state agencies have apparently used ZIP code-based data to miscalculate the town’s educational funding.

But Christine Dugas, a regional Postal Service spokeswoman, spent a fair amount of time explaining the process is a “complicated, in-depth” one.

ZIP codes were established solely for the efficient movement of the mail, she said. “They were never established to signify geographical regions, school district boundaries, or insurance rates,” which of course, is what actually evolved.

Buckland should be happy its request is being reviewed. We hope it survives the process which extends to Washington, D.C.

Sheffield honors

Congratulations, Sheffield Elementary School. The Montague school won a pediatric cancer fundraising competition, and New England Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski will visit the school later this spring as its prize.

The school, as well as Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School, raised nearly $17,000 for One Mission — a charity in Framingham that helps families in Massachusetts whose children have cancer.

Sheffield held a “Buzz Off” where about 50 students, staff and friends of the school shaved their heads. Sheffield entered the competition because a student at the school fighting leukemia recently went into remission.

We hear the pupils erupted into screams when they found out they won the competition. Well deserved outburst, we’d say.

Greenfield recognized for green power

Greenfield has been honored by American City & County magazine as a 2016 Crown Community for pioneering the purchase of locally generated renewable energy for the Greenfield Light and Power Program — the town-owned electricity provider.

American City & County has an audience of city, county and state officials. Each year, the magazine presents its Crown Communities awards to six to nine local governments nationwide that have executed the most innovative and effective projects.

Keeping energy dollars local is a prominent goal in Greenfield’s Sustainable Master Plan, and the town is buying much of its electricity from local or regional private solar electricity producers like homes that installed panels as part of the Greenfield Solar Challenge. Additionally, the program acquired renewable energy from four Massachusetts farms.

Thinking globally, acting locally, getting national attention. Not bad.

No fluoride

After hearing overwhelming opposition from residents, the Greenfield Board of Health has decided not to support community water fluoridation.

In October, the Community Health Center of Franklin County suggested the town consider adding fluoride to its public water after a dental hygienist found a significant amount of tooth decay and oral health problems in young children while visiting local schools. After hearings, though, the Board of Health decided there was significant opposition to “medication without consent” and “underwhelming” statistical evidence about the benefits. And then there was the cost, estimated at about $750,000. Not a potent mix of reasons to go forward with what is always a controversial idea.

The board relied heavily on information from the federal Centers for Disease Control, which found no severe harm from water fluoridation and that communities with water fluoridation had a 15 percent decrease in dental cavities.

And then the board discovered that at least two town businesses, Real Pickles and Artisan Beverage Cooperative, didn’t know how fluoride in the town’s water might impact their organic, all-natural food process.

We were glad the discussion didn’t devolve into a 1960s-era argument about communist plots. The health board listened to public comment and also drilled down into the data to see what the countervailing public good might be, and reached a reasoned conclusion based on the facts.




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