Top 10 Newsmakers: Day 1

  • Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito walks through Greenfield with Mayor William Martin while touring the coworking spaces Another Castle and Greenspace in October. STAFF File PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Roxann Wedegartner waits for results at Hope & Olive in Greenfield on election night, Nov. 5. STAFF File PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Lewis Starkey III listens in court to victim impact statements from Amanda Glover’s family members. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Yankee Candle Co. founder Michael J. Kittredge II speaks to Greenfield High School students on March 21, 1996. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Wendell State Forest Alliance members and supporters protest about logging in the Wendell State Forest before appearing in Franklin County Superior Court to outline their case against the Department of Conservation and Recreation in August. STAFF File PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/29/2019 10:00:28 PM

Editor’s note: As part of the Greenfield Recorder’s end-of-the-year features, we are publishing our choices for the top newsmakers of 2019 today and Tuesday. They are listed in no particular order.

William Martin

Outgoing Mayor William Martin has been in the executive office since 2009 and is the second mayor of Greenfield, following Mayor Christine Forgey.

Martin has several highlights from 2019, including getting Nash’s Mill Bridge completed ahead of schedule and getting funding for the new public library.

However, for Martin, the end of the year is the end of a 10-year, three-term era.

Taking out his door hanger from 2009, when he announced his campaign as a write-in candidate, Martin made a bullet-pointed list of goals.

“Improve our schools, stabilize property taxes, revitalize downtown savings from green energy, and retain and recruit employers,” he said in a recent interview. “All of the achievements over the years wouldn’t have been possible without the work of the department heads bringing it into reality. The credit is to the teams who took on the challenge to make it happen.”

Some of the projects he’s proud of include playgrounds, the dog park, contributions to the school buildings, the John Zon Community Center and “investing in the town’s assets.”

He’s also proud that Greenfield was one of the first communities to receive the Green Communities grant, which financed projects such as installing a solar array at the old Greenfield landfill and converting streetlights to LEDs.

“There are some people who say, ‘It’s nothing like it used to be,’ there are no more J.C. Penneys or Sears,” he said. “But we have newer businesses and strive to satisfy the needs and wants of the residents.”

Martin said Greenfield is “fortunate enough to have artists, musicians and entrepreneurs in the city to add commercial and entertainment to the regional center of the county.”

Throughout his tenure, the list of improvements, grants and recognition for the city includes rehabilitating school properties with new roofs, increasing the equalized value of the city from $200 million to $1.52 billion, and staying within the debt limit of eight to 10 percent, Martin said.

He equated the position to “being in front of a conveyor belt that never stops,” and come Jan. 2, he will step away.

“It’s been an honor to serve the city of Greenfield for 10 years,” he said. “Thank you.”

Roxann Wedegartner

Jan. 2 will be Roxann Wedegartner’s first day as mayor. It will be the first change in the position in 10 years.

November’s mayoral election was especially competitive. The outgoing Mayor William Martin did not run for re-election.

Wedegartner was the first to announce her candidacy, in February. By summer, there were competing campaigns by Sheila Gilmour and Brickett Allis, both city councilors. A preliminary election was held in September to select two candidates for the ballot.

Of those three, Wedegartner was arguably the most experienced, having worked in local government for 22 years: six years on the Greenfield School Committee, 14 years on the Planning Board.

She pointed to education and economic development as vital parts of how the city functions, and said Greenfield could have the potential to attract software businesses. She also said upgrades to sewer and water infrastructure need to be a priority.

In the September preliminary election, Wedegartner was the most popular, with 1,236 votes. Gilmour got 1,011, Allis got 957. Wedegartner and Gilmour were on the November ballot.

Three days later, Allis announced a write-in campaign, explaining that the race had been close enough to indicate that he was probably still a viable candidate.

The November election went similarly. Wedegartner got 2,068 votes, Gilmour 1,882, and Allis 1,539.

Lewis H. Starkey III

Lewis H. Starkey III is spending the rest of his life in prison, having been convicted of killing his girlfriend and shooting at two others.

In April, Starkey, 55, was found guilty of fatally shooting Amanda Glover, 47, and attempting to shoot her adult son, Devin Glover, following an argument at their 179 West St., Wendell, home in 2017.

Starkey testified in Franklin County Superior Court, before Judge John Agostini, that it was Devin Glover who retrieved the shotgun from the basement, pointed it at him, and that the gun went off accidentally while the two men struggled, killing Amanda Glover.

However, the jury of 11 men and five women did not buy his story, and Starkey was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at Massachusetts Correctional Institute-Cedar Junction in Walpole.

The evidence presented in the case was extensive, including testimony from an emotional Devin Glover, the murder weapon itself and notes a suicidal Starkey had written after the murder saying “Why did I do it?” and describing the desire to go “out with a bang” at the Greenfield Police Station.

Starkey was on the run for five days following the July 5, 2017 killing, and drove over an hour to Chicopee, where he fired at a co-worker at Specialized Carriers, injuring the man, before driving back to the Franklin County area and hiding in the woods.

He was eventually caught driving in Orange by then-Sgt. James Sullivan — now chief of police — who said he drove by Starkey, recognized him and pulled him over. Starkey was arrested without incident and said, “You got the prize,” Sullivan testified.

Prosecutors said Starkey’s motive to kill Amanda Glover stemmed from her wanting to leave him, and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Suhl called it a “classic” case of domestic violence.

Starkey later pleaded guilty to the Chicopee shooting, a case held in Hampden County Superior Court in Springfield, and was sentenced to five to seven years, to be served concurrent with his life sentence.

Amanda Glover’s children have since moved away from the area. She was remembered in court as a talented quilter, intelligent and a loving mother, sister, aunt, daughter and friend. She would have turned 50 in May.

Michael J. Kittredge II

Michael J. Kittredge II, who grew a candle made on his mother’s stove into the industry phenomenon known as the Yankee Candle Co., died suddenly in July. He was 67.

Kittredge, founder of the Yankee Candle Co., died July 24 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston surrounded by family and friends following a brief illness, according to Tim O’Brien, a representative for the family.

Kittredge’s son, Michael J. “Mick” Kittredge III, said the cause of death was liver failure. He said he hopes his father will be remembered as the “epitome of the American Dream of rags to riches.”

“(He) wanted to give everybody else everything he didn’t have as a kid growing up. He didn’t get anything but socks for Christmas. He had a tough childhood and really made something out of it,” Kittredge said. “He was great. He was the best father a kid could ask for. It’s hard to capture the essence of him in a few comments.”

The elder Kittredge was “too broke to buy his mother a present” for Christmas when he melted some childhood crayons on a stove in his family’s South Hadley home in 1969, when he was 16, according to Yankee Candle’s website. A neighbor saw the candle and persuaded the teenager to sell it to her. Kittredge took the money and purchased enough wax to make two candles — one for his mother and one to sell.

He soon opened a small retail shop with help from his father, moving into an old Holyoke paper mill in 1973 and opening the famous flagship store in South Deerfield 10 years later. In 1998, Kittredge sold 90 percent of the scented candle business’ shares to a private New York equity company for $500 million.

O’Brien said Kittredge was a two-time cancer survivor and became a staunch supporter of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, serving on its board of directors for years. Kittredge also helped create Cooley Dickinson Hospital’s Kittredge Surgery Center, Holyoke Community College’s Kittredge Center and the Kittredge Building at The Bement School in Deerfield.

Kittredge got back into the candle game in 2010 to help his son start the Kringle Candle Co. and its associated Farm Table restaurant in Bernardston. The stove Kittredge (and, later, his son) used to make their first candles can be seen at Kringle.

Wendell State Forest Alliance

Though they failed to save 80 acres of trees in the Wendell State Forest, their mission has evolved and continues.

The Wendell State Forest Alliance is a collection of Franklin County residents who, for the past year, held signs along Route 2; staged rallies, protests and even a mock-funeral for the trees; chained themselves in place and created human barriers to block loggers and equipment; risked arrest and were, on many occasions, arrested; and even brought the state to court.

All of it was to stop the state Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR’s) logging project to remove about 16 acres of an 80-acre stand of century-old oak trees in Wendell State Forest.

The Wendell State Forest Alliance’s main concern is climate change. Its members argue that leaving forests untouched is one of the best strategies for combating climate change and global warming, because large, old trees sequester more carbon from the atmosphere than smaller, younger trees; carbon sequestration is a phenomenon accepted by the U.N. and the state of Massachusetts as important in fighting climate change.

The logging project was completed in September, with the DCR wholeheartedly disagreeing that the project is harmful to the environment. The agency said logging removed diseased trees, and will foster a healthy and diverse forest that will sequester more carbon over the long term.

The Wendell State Forest Alliance is suing the state over the project, with 29 co-plaintiffs in the suit, arguing the project violated the Global Warming Solutions Act, did not include the proper public input and irreparably damaged the forest’s recreational value — all claims DCR denies.

“They know we’re in a climate crisis. There is no time to waste,” said co-plaintiff Glen Ayers. “We don’t have 100 years.”

And they aren’t stopping there. The group has branched out to different forms of climate activism, with one man being arrested recently for standing in front of a freight train carrying coal to protest coal usage. The group also backs several pieces of proposed legislation, one of which would set stricter guidelines on how state forests may be managed and used.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Greenfield Recorder, keeping Franklin County informed since 1792.

Greenfield Recorder

14 Hope Street
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261


Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy