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Keeping Pan Am Southern trains on the tracks


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Here are brief thoughts on some of the events taking place around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Wendell’s road commissioner Phil Delorey worries about a possible train derailment at Pan Am Southern’s railway crossing on Wendell Depot Road where rails are cracked and mishapened.

And maybe he’s got good reason to worry. A Pan Am Railways freight train did derail Aug. 4 in the early morning hours, although not at Wendell Depot Road, but off Farley Road.

Four cars derailed. There were no evacuations or anyone harmed or threatened, but it underscores how easily train cars filled with dangerous cargo can become a threat.

A local Hall of Famer

Shelburne native and 1969 graduate of Mohawk Trail Regional School Russell Richardson has been inducted into the West Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Hall of Fame.

He was being lauded for his 28 years of advocacy in West Virginia on forest health issues. He is the son of the late Don Richardson and the brother of Donna Fitzpatrick.

Induction in this Hall of Fame is reserved for people, businesses, and organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the advancement and improvement of the agriculture, forestry and family life of West Virginia and the nation.

Richardson plans to retire soon and return to Shelburne Falls. He’ll fit right back in.

Belly up to the Bus

Community Action’s 14th annual Belly Bus food drive went well again this summer, showing again the generous nature of Franklin County.

The Belly Bus collects food for area food pantries and programs that work to make sure children don’t go hungry, particularly at this time of the year when federal summer meals programs.

Organizers saw an increase this year in the amount of community support they had received from recent years.

West Nile in area

Mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been found in Greenfield and Bernardston, although no human or animal infections in the state have been reported.

If ticks and the diseases they can carry aren’t enough cause for concern, the potential for mosquito-borne ailments should remind us to take precautions when outdoors in summer.

The virus has been spreading across the state recently, with confirmed reports of West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes in 57 communities since June 20.

Currently, there is no recommendation to curb activities, but residents should take steps to reduce being bitten by mosquitoes — things like using effective repellents like DEET outdoors and wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks for protection, as well.

Dog has his day

Montague Police Department is losing one of its officers: K-9 Sunny has retired after nine years on the force and headed into his golden years as a full-time family pet.

The German shepherd and his handler Officer John Dempsey received an appropriate, appreciative sendoff from the Selectboard this past week.

Dempsey said the K-9 had numerous narcotics finds and tracked suspects associated with a stolen motor vehicle for more than a mile in Northfield, among other accomplishments.

There will still be another K-9 team at the department: Artie and Officer Jim Ruddock.

Money for Mahar

Hats off to the folks in New Salem who have organized an elaborate Labor Day running event to raise money for cash-straped Mahar Regional School.

A group of North Quabbin runners will usher in the new school year with a 24-hour fundraiser.

The Village Ultra, a series of races and circuits starting in New Salem, will be held over Labor Day weekend to raise money and awareness for Mahar, which has cut late buses, a private lawn-keeping service, an administrative assistant and two teachers, along with $34,496 from the technology budget and $173,973 from the health insurance budget.

Mahar serves more than 600 students from New Salem, Orange, Petersham and Wendell.

“Sometimes it takes a village to do good,” event organizer Carla Halpern said of the event. “This race reminds us that we can help real people on a local level: bettering our community, providing support to our neighbors and encouraging each other to do our best.”

We concur.