Office move will improve communication

Sunday, February 26, 2017

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

The central office for southern Franklin County public schools has moved into about 4,500 square feet of excess classroom space in Frontier Regional School, creating a healthier work space, likely saving Union 38 taxpayers some money in the long run, and keeping the superintendent and her staff in closer daily contact with students and teachers.

The offices moved from a former Christian Lane elementary school in Whately following reports of poor air quality that required moving or renovating.

Before the move to Deerfield, the superintendent and her staff couldn’t interact with students because they were miles apart. Now that’s changed, which has to be a good thing.

Dexter Park

Plans for a new Dexter Park School in Orange have advanced, which is good news for the town and a credit to the school officials working on the project.

The state School Building Authority has put Orange in the pipeline for reimbursement for a new elementary school.

Eighty-seven schools were brought up for consideration, and the board only approved 17 projects, including Dexter Park.

Orange has until May 1 to complete certain administrative requirements. If the town passes that hurdle, it can commission a feasibility study that explores the town’s needs and what type of building might meet those needs.

Vt. Yankee slow walk

Entergy Nuclear and NorthStar Group Services Inc., have told federal regulators they needed a prompt decision on their plan to transfer ownership of the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant by the end of 2017.

The sale is the first step in Entergy’s unique plan to dismantle the Vernon, Vt., reactor.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday said it could not commit to making the decision that quickly. Such license transfers usually take longer than 10 months.

“This is a first-of-its-kind proposal and the NRC staff will likely have many questions as it performs its review,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan on Tuesday.

The NorthStar project is unique in the history of nuclear power plants in that a demolition company would purchase a shut-down nuclear plant, demolish it, clean it up and also handle the plant’s radioactive spent nuclear fuel.

Since Entergy is trailblazing this unusual approach to decommissioning, we were glad to see the NRC won’t rush its oversight role.

More for western Mass.

Western Massachusetts towns have a new advocate at the state level.

Conway Selectboard Chairman John P. O’Rourke has been appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to his Local Government Advisory Commission, a panel composed of eight selectboard members from across the state.

After his swearing-in, O’Rourke noted “we have a very dedicated and hard-working legislative delegation, but they are substantially outweighed by the legislative delegations in the eastern part of the Commonwealth that exercise most of the legislative power.”

As a commissioner, O’Rourke will review and analyze new legislation and regulation changes, advocating on behalf of the interests of local government entities. The commission meets monthly and as needed with Baker and other state officials.

Having another advocate for rural towns of Franklin County with regular access to the executive branch should help us all.