Monday shorts: Recognizing awards and brilliant ideas

  • A book drive collection box will be available in the foyer of Greenfield High School and multiple other locations, through March 24, to collect new and gently used books for the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Published: 2/23/2020 5:24:03 PM

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

Deserving of recognition

First, let us congratulate Greenfield Community College (GCC) professor Kelly Popoff, who was among the 2020 recipients of the Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship awards.

The field of submissions was vast, with the Massachusetts Cultural Council receiving a total of 632 applications: 363 in drawing and printmaking, 243 in poetry and 26 in traditional arts. From those 632 applicants, only 19 received fellowships of $15,000 and an additional 16 received finalist awards of $1,500. That’s no easy feat.

GCC Art Department Chair Paul Lindale knows that, too, if his congratulatory remarks to Popoff are any indication.

“Kelly works tirelessly as a full-time exhibiting artist and educator,” he said. “She plays a critical role in the continuing success of the art program at GCC and of our students, and in promoting the arts in Western Massachusetts. She also happens to be an amazing artist. Kelly is truly deserving of this honor.”

It’s exemplary professors like Popoff, for whom art isn’t just the source of a college teaching job, but a full-time passion, that make GCC’s arts program thrive. We haven’t a doubt that the same can be said of professors in GCC’s other fields of study, or, for that matter, of our elementary, middle and high school teachers across the county. Without their passion, our students cannot reach their full potential. There’s seldom a calling more meaningful than that.

A stylish ride

One of our most widely shared stories of last week seems to be from Wednesday’s front page. It was called “Taking that final ride in style: Funeral director restores ‘62 Cadillac hearse.”

We’re glad to see that our readers saw as much value in this story as we did. In a nutshell, Smith-Kelleher Funeral Homes Director Tim Kelleher purchased a 1962 Cadillac hearse in Florida and transported it back to Massachusetts to use in his business. That is, after the hearse underwent restoration with Bill’s Auto Repair Shop and Dave’s Auto.

“I wanted to have something with style and character more than newer hearses,” Kelleher said of his purchase. “No one in Western Mass. has anything like this. It’s unique and I like that specialty part of it.”

Having gotten the hearse back from the shop in July, Kelleher said it’s already been a great investment — though, naturally, as a classic car, it’s only available for funeral services in the spring through the fall. In the meantime, Kelleher also has a 2006 Cadillac hearse available, too.

What a great idea Kelleher had, and props to him for investing to bring this 1962 beauty back to its prime. We suspect the families of Franklin County, who are seeking to somehow honor a recently passed loved one with a special service, will appreciate having Kelleher’s stylish hearse as an option.

Believing in the power of books

Just about everyone can get behind a book drive. Now, there’s one that will be ongoing for the next month, with the books being sent to inmates at the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction.

The book drive was the idea of Greenfield High School student Ella McDaniel, who was asked to develop a community service project as a Confirmation candidate. Other students from Our Lady of Peace Church, including Greenfield sophomore Gracelyn Tatta and Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School junior Reyna Ortiz, as well as the Greenfield High Key Club, National Honor Society and Student Council, have also gotten involved with the project.

“I heard about a project in eastern Massachusetts that provides books to inmates and I thought, ‘Why can’t we do that here?’” McDaniel said. “Not only does it give (inmates) access to books, but the community at large. I’m a big believer in advocacy.”

McDaniel said her idea was fueled by research that reading can have a positive impact on a person’s well-being, and that among released inmates, “recidivism rates drop significantly after completing their education.”

If a simple book drive has the potential to do all that, we’re certainly on board. Thank you to these students for taking the reins on something that could prove to be so meaningful.




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