Editorial: Honoring Joanna Fisher in a special way

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Friends of the late Joanna Fisher have come up with an unusual and heartfelt tribute to the Orange woman who was murdered with her husband last October during a home invasion.

Fisher had many interests, including children, the outdoors, cooking and the Quabbin Reservoir, so a group of women have assembled a display of books based on those interests starting April 22 at Wheeler Memorial Library. The books will then become part of the permanent collection of the Orange libraries.

According to the Rev. Candi Ashenden, a close friend of Fisher’s for 20 years, a library-themed tribute was fitting, given “all her work with children and families and literacy.” Fisher was a founder and director of Valuing Our Children, co-founded “Starry Starry Night” — Orange’s New Year’s Eve celebration, and was involved in other charitable activities and groups.

Her life may have ended abruptly and tragically, but it seems she lived her life fully and in the service of others — a great example for the rest of us.

Welcome help

Two women who worked behind the scenes to help area firefighters who were responding to a tragic fatal fire in Warwick earlier this month have received a deserved pat on the back from those same firefighters.

The two women were Shelburne Control dispatchers Amanda Flechsig and Colleen Walker. Flechsig and Walker worked through the night, constantly communicating by phone and radio with at least 16 departments providing aid during the fire that claimed the lives of five town residents.

“We just really wanted to express our appreciation to not just Amanda and Colleen, but really to everybody up here,” Warwick Police Chief David Shoemaker said while presenting the women their awards last week at the dispatch office in Shelburne. “Without these guys, we really couldn’t function.”

Shelburne Control communicates with 82 agencies, primarily police, fire and emergency medical services, to send help during emergencies.

“Whatever comes in, we try to be on top of it,” Walker said.

“We were just doing our jobs,” Flechsig said. “That’s what we’re here for.”

And it seems the rescuers who rely on their work behind the scenes are glad for that.

Remembering Jane Sanders

Jane Sanders, who led the region’s anti-poverty agency from 1996 to 2011, assisted tens of thousands in need over the years through her efforts and earned the respect of her fellow social service workers, scores of whom turned out for a memorial to her last week.

Sanders, who died Jan. 25 at the age of 62, led Community Action as her day job but also helped establish the Community Health Center of Franklin County and served on several boards, including the Franklin Hampshire Regional Employment Board and the Massachusetts Association for Community Action.

The Rev. Andrea Ayvazian described Sanders as a “radiant being” who acted as “an ally in struggles for justice and peace.”

That compassion is part of what brought community members together in Sanders’ honor, ensuring her tradition of building relationships that would live on.

Raising money for the arts

Frontier Regional School in Deerfield held its eighth annual live music telethon fundraiser last week, raising money for the school’s arts department.

The event is an opportunity to celebrate the diverse music community at Frontier while earning money for band expenses and trips.

The event features the school’s cabaret band, jazz ensemble, string orchestra, and middle school concert band. For the first time, the local elementary school’s chorus also performed.

There were at least 100 students from both the middle and high school playing, working backstage or assisting in televising the event. The students may have thought they were performing for their audiences, but in fact, they were doing themselves a service as they learned that hard work pays off, figuratively and literally.

Green River Park

Once an overlooked and underused facility, Green River Park off Petty Plain Road underwent extensive renovations last summer, transforming it to such an extent that the state has selected it for an award: the 2017 Massachusetts Recreation and Park Association’s Design of Facility Agency Award, which recognizes departments that create and renovate facilities that enhance their community.

Involved in the makeover were the town Planning Department; Central Maintenance; the Department of Public Works; the Recreation Department; Paws Park supporters and the Recreation Commission.

The park has become a wonderful asset for the community, plus dogs and their owners, because of the dog park that was incorporated into the design.

The 22-acre park on the southern edge of Greenfield is adjacent to where the Green River converges with the Deerfield River. The land was originally acquired by the town in 1911. Softball fields were preserved in the renovation, while the rest of the park underwent major rehabilitation and now includes a new playground, pavilion, picnic tables, benches, bike racks, a basketball court, pickleball court, paved parking area and the dog park.

Nice work.