Monday Shorts: Taking up a collection

Published: 2/11/2019 9:37:10 AM

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events in the near future taking place around the North Quabbin area:

We cover lots of fires in this business, but we don’t often see a local funeral home encouraging the community to help victims of fires, as was the case last month when Witty’s Funeral Home in Orange began a collection for the people whose North Main Street home was destroyed by fire.

Witty’s owner Jeff Cole said “We just want to be able to help our friends and help our neighbors.” Cole told reporters the victims were “overwhelmed” that residents would reach out to support them after a devastating loss. They may have been overwhelmed, but we weren’t surprised. Area residents always seem generous in a neighbor’s time of need.

Off to the races

Our annual democratic ritual is about to begin in Athol, as a race for Selectboard has already developed for the April 1 annual town election.

It’s nice to see democracy alive and well on the local level.

Selectboard Chairman Stephen R. Raymond has signed the re-election paperwork. He is being challenged by newcomers William B. Chiasson and Kevin Heath.

Chiasson retired in 2013 from the Athol-Royalston Regional School District after 33 years, during which he taught math for 24 years, served as assistant principal at AHS for eight years, and as principal of the Athol-Royalston Middle School his final year before retiring.

Heath, who served on the Athol Police force for 39 years, retired April 27, 2018.

Having so much experience in the community to choose from is always good for the town, even if sometimes it makes for a difficult decision in the voting booth.

Hope for the best

Orange has come up with a meaningful list of ways to spend federal community development money it’s seeking: mediation, home-delivered meals, high school equivalency exam prep, access to local food and help for recovering addicts are the five areas the town is targeting this year.

The Selectboard’s annual application for a Community Development Block Grant totals $546,057 for local social services, as well as for continuing a housing redevelopment program and for an emergency generator for the town’s third drinking water well.

If awarded the grant, the five social services programs will receive up to $20,000 each. The organizations selected are Quabbin Mediation, LifePath, the Literacy Project, Seeds of Solidarity and CHD.

This hoped-for infusion of a half million dollars would benefit the town greatly, and we are hoping for the best.

Lack of competition in Orange

Speaking of town elections, competition in Orange for Town Hall positions is less than robust this year. There are two seats being contested March 4 — out of 19 open seats.

The three-year position of water commissioner and a three-year seat as cemetery commissioner are being contested.

At least the other seats do have candidates, mostly incumbents, so they won’t go unfilled. But it’s always better for democracy to have competition, although these days towns are lucky to have one candidates willing to put in the time to serve their town.

‘Shocked, surprised, but honored’

Adam Lyon, a music teacher at Dexter Park School, and a member of the Army National Guard, and his boss, Principal Christopher Dodge, both deserve credit.

Lyon nominated Dodge for a U.S. Department of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Award.

“I’m shocked, surprised, but honored,” Dodge told the paper of the award. “I respect Adam for his service. I try to be understanding of him having another job, another life, outside of here.”

Dodge said he wants to honor and respect the commitment of those who serve.

Reading matter

In our business, we understand the power of the written word and literacy. So, we have to urge people to respond to Athol Public Library’s appeal for volunteers to help with Community Reading Day at the Athol Community Elementary School and the Royalston Community School March 1.

Reading will take place from 9 to 10 a.m. in classrooms, except for afternoon preschool readings, which will take place later in the day. If you believe in encouraging young people to read and write, call Angela Dumas at the library at 978-249-9515.


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225 Exchange Street
Athol, MA 01331
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