Editorial: Continued success of cancer walk possible through devoted, caring community

Monday, October 30, 2017

The first Mahar Cancer Walk was organized in 2006 to generate cash so three Ralph C. Mahar Regional School employees could participate in the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. After a few years, members of the Mahar Cancer Walk Committee decided to keep it local to purchase $100 gas or gift cards for local patients and families. And so it has been since. The Mahar Cancer Walk has raised more than $35,000 since its inception, and $5,500 last year.

The walk is never canceled, which shows the determination of the Orange organizers. The fundraiser is a true community event.

Kudos to students from the girls’ volleyball team, Mahar Middle School, the Middle School Student Council, the Mahar High School Student Council, the Mahar Key Club, the Mahar National Honor Society, and other athletes and student groups, who all helped this year.

Senior health

This past week the YMCA in Greenfield and Baystate Franklin Medical Center hosted a senior week, highlighted by a Senior Health Fair and Functional Fitness Assessment on Wednesday.

People 55 and older had free access during the five days to the YMCA for swimming, group exercise classes, strength and cardio machines and the Jacuzzi, underscoring the message we keep hearing from health professionals: It’s never to late to begin an exercise regimen to promote good health.

“As our local population ages, and more and more people, especially (baby) boomers and beyond, realize that feeling ‘old’ is more a result of lack of exercise rather than actual birthdays, they are joining the Y to maintain or improve their strength and endurance so they can live independently for as long as possible,” said the YMCA’s Executive Director Bob Sunderland.

The YMCA has been doing senior fitness assessments for many years, but has added the hospital as a partner as well as 18 vendors who offer health and fitness help.

Pot jobs for Athol

The prospect of as many as 500 new jobs has enticed Athol’s Selectboard to sign a letter of “non-opposition” for a proposed medical marijuana facility in the long vacant Union Twist Drill Co. factory at 134 Chestnut Hill Ave.

Becca Rutenberg of Herbology Inc., and Bobby Liedy of Sea Hunter Therapeutics hope to operate a cultivation, manufacturing and extraction facility, they told the selectmen recently. Herbology is a nonprofit that has a provisional certificate from the state for producing medical marijuana. Sea Hunter Therapeutics is a for-profit company that provides capital to Herbology, the license holder.

Liedy and Rutenberg said Herbology operates a 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art cultivation facility in Taunton, with other locations in Cambridge and Brockton.

Liedy said Herbology will offer a little more than 200 jobs, starting at $15 to $17 per hour, upon moving in. The facility could host 500 to 600 jobs if other license holders are brought in to the venture, the selectmen were told.

Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski will now work with the developers to negotiate a host community impact agreement that protects and benefits the town. While the selectmen were a little leary about hosting such a large pot factory, it’s hard to ignore the potential benefits of so many jobs.

Help for seniors on menu

Helping local seniors was at the forefront during Franklin County TRIAD’s annual spaghetti supper fundraiser. This dinner each year is a real community event.

About 135 people showed their support and enjoyed a hot dinner cooked by volunteers from the TRIAD and local police department, served by Frontier Regional School Red Hawks. The Polish American Citizens Club was packed.

All proceeds, raised through a $10 door charge and raffle, support regional TRIAD programs for seniors, overseen by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Last year, the homemade supper raised about $3,000.

The TRIAD helps senior citizens by providing wellness checks, dropping off medications or shoveling driveways during storms, and purchasing food, oil or wood for those who can’t afford it — all intended to keep them in their homes as long as possible.

Selectboard Chairwoman Carolyn Shores Ness joined organizer Sharon Paciorek and fellow Selectboard member Trevor McDaniel, Deerfield Police Chief John Paciorek Jr., District Attorney David Sullivan and representatives from South County Senior Center, Franklin County TRIAD, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and surrounding police departments.

Many local businesses also contributed, providing food and giving monetary donations.