Editorial: Northfield dinner allows residents to get news and some spaghetti, too

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news
around Franklin County and the North Quabbin this week:

Northfield has found yet another way to bring together residents who have a taste for home rule and home-made spaghetti.

Residents hungry for the scoop on what’s going on in Northfield were invited to the Northfield Elementary School Saturday for the inaugural State of Our Town spaghetti dinner. The dinner, organized by the Northfield Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization, was planned as a way for the various entities in town to share what they do, what they’re working on and any items they might be bringing to the annual town meeting this spring.

Good idea.

Silver anniversary

Husband and wife Jerry and Patricia Dagrosa’s popular South Deerfield restaurant, Jerry’s Place, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

“It’s the town meeting place. If you’re going to meet somewhere, you meet at Jerry’s Place,” resident Bette Schmitt told The Recorder. “My grandkids love it here when they’re in town. The pancakes are great!”

At the register, another customer, Ann Benoni, commented “this is the place to go to.”

Over the years, Jerry’s Place has served everyone from state Department of Transportation workers on the recent Interstate 91 bridge project, to crews from the “Edge of Darkness,” a 2010 Mel Gibson movie shot on nearby Mount Sugarloaf.

From behind the counter, between pancake flips, Jerry Dagrosa said his favorite experience has been “watching kids grow up” over the years.

Divers’ contribution

The Northfield Dive Team was hard at work — as usual — at the annual Athol-to-Orange River Rat Race this weekend. They were on hand in case over-eager paddlers landed in the drink. The volunteer nonprofit helps emergency departments around the county with water rescues. Bill Ryan, who runs the group, told The Recorder that each year members rescue several people from the region’s rivers, streams and ponds, which can be close to freezing this time of year.

The group has about 30 members, many with day jobs on area police and fire departments. For the members, who have to own and pay for their own gear, diving is often a passion, and joining the dive team is a way to use their scuba skills to give back to the community.

The team has been around for decades. We all owe them a debt of gratitude for being there in the wings, whether or not we’ve needed them, yet.

Schell Park

With construction of a Schell bicycle and pedestrian bridge set to begin in three or four years in Northfield, the town is hoping a community park can be built on the east bank of the Connecticut River.

In particular, a stretch of land located between the long-closed Schell Memorial Bridge and Main Street, which is owned by the National Christian Foundation, would provide a great location, according to Schell Bridge Advisory Committee member Jerry Wagener.

Wagener said he wrote to the National Christian Foundation last June, and is discussing the possibility of a park.

Emmitt Mitchell, a member of the National Christian Foundation Heartland’s board of directors, has also been involved in deciding a new owner for the former Northfield Mount Hermon School campus and in planning The Moody Center in Northfield. He agreed that a community park on the property is an idea worth pursuing.

Having a pedestrian span over the river connecting two sides of Northfield, as the Schell carried motorized traffic decades ago, will be culmination of years of work by town volunteers with a vision they refused to give up.

A park, too? Frosting on the cake.

Making of a mascot

So far, it has been suggested that any new Turners Falls High School mascot be non-discriminatory, relevant to the community, inclusive, gender neutral, marketable and reflect the school’s core values.

The Gill-Montague Regional School Committee has been brainstorming those criteria and others as they begin the process of selecting a new mascot for the high school after ditching the traditional Indian mascot earlier this year.

While elimination of the Indian mascot has engendered a strong opposition that hasn’t entirely died off yet, we are glad to see the committee continues to be transparent and to seek community involvement in this process.