Let’s get past the faith issue in the coming primary

Published: 8/26/2018 6:00:07 AM

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

Congressional candidate Tahirah Amatul-Wadud said recently she’s ready to move beyond what she called “issues of great distraction” regarding her Muslim faith.

“During this campaign, I have been confronted by religious intolerance, slander and hate,” said the Springfield attorney, adding that people have been “raising questions about my religion, religious affiliation, and my values as a progressive candidate.”

Amatul-Wadud is challenging longtime Springfield incumbent Congressman Richard Neal, who has also attacked bigotry that the race has brought out.

“I vigorously condemned the Islamophobic mailers and I just as clearly and unequivocally condemn any Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, racist and homophobic hate speech,” Neal said in a statement. “There is no room in our state or our country for intolerance, ignorance and bigotry.”

We agree and hope that both Sept. 4 Democratic primary candidates will be able speak past the Islamophobia to the real issues.

Warwick stalwarts

Warwick Community School is looking for volunteers to help fill in for positions that were reduced or removed during the Pioneer Valley Regional School District’s budget cutting.

The Warwick School Preservation Committee is partnering with the Parent Teacher Organization to keep the school operating normally despite budget cuts brought on or threatened by the district’s million dollar deficit.

The Preservation Committee began meeting in July to investigate all options for preserving Warwick’s school, should the Pioneer Valley Regional School Committee pursue the closing of schools.

Volunteer jobs will likely include office work like answering phones and doing paperwork to coordinate field trips, and possibly working with the fourth-grade band.

We are impressed with the level of volunteerism and community support for the elementary school, but are sorry that it has come to this.

Fair days

It’s fair season in Franklin County. Last week we saw the wonderfully small-scale country fair in Heath, and this past weekend it was the Shelburne Grange Fair, with its end-of-summer celebration of the fruits of labor from the region’s local farmers, craftsman, artisans and local performers.

And we are also seeing the “old home days” like those in Warwick and Wendell, which give everyone in town and those formerly of the town to gather for fun and socializing with their neighbors.

Of course, they are a prelude to the county’s own Franklin County Fair early next month, and a spate of town fairs and festivals like those in Conway and Ashfield in deep autumn.

Got to love New England.

Hop to it

When speaking of New England tradition, we don’t first think of hops and brewing, but times have changed with the explosion of craft brewing in America. That’s why we found about 100 beermakers from around New England touring Four Star Farms in Northfield recently.

“We have to get personal with the brewers,” said Gene L’Etoile, one of the owners of the farm that grows hops, an essential beer ingredient for microbreweries.

Four Star Farms started growing hops in 2008 to supplement its main crops, turfgrass and grain. Since then, the business has grown to about 17 acres of hops.

American hops were originally brought by the Pilgrims and grown in New England, L’Etoile said. But hop farms moved westward as diseases made it increasingly difficult to grow in New England.

Dickinson lauded

Let’s hear it for The Dickinson Memorial Library staff, trustees and friends in Northfield. They won this year’s Community Service Award from the Northfield Area Tourism and Business Association.

In a letter explaining the award, association organizers Joan and Steve Stoia and John MacDougall called the library “a model of what a cooperative, innovative and dedicated organization should be,” and praised it for supporting the local business community and providing programming of interest for tourists and locals alike.

“I think the award is referring to everything we do,” library Director Deb Kern said, citing the librarians’ customer service, the selection of books and movies and the public meeting space that is available seven days a week.

We suspect if similar awards were given in other towns, their libraries would receive similar accolades.

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