The Town Reminder

South Hadley's number one source for local community news.

Gwendolyn the Pig pliés into public library

by Town Reminder

Mass. Academy of Ballet to bring children’s book to life

By Matthew Couto
Turley Publications Correspondent

SOUTH HADLEY – Families are invited to visit the South Hadley Public Library on Wednesday, April 18 for a free program where local author David Rottenberg will read his children’s book, “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig,” while dancers from the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet in Holyoke make the tale come alive.
“This is a one-time program,” said Meg Clancy, the host of the event and youth services librarian at the library. “Mr. Rottenberg has never worked with the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet although he has worked with several other ballet studios.”
“Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” tells the story of two best friends, Gwendolyn and Omar, who both have big aspirations to do what they love. Gwendolyn dreams of being a ballet dancer while Omar wants to join a football team and show off his skills. However, being pigs, they are unsure of what they are capable of doing.
The story has inspired many children who have experienced the tale of Gwendolyn at their local library or at special events such as birthday parties. Both girls and boys will be thrilled to learn about the tale of how two best friends followed their dreams to do what they love. Children will become inspired as they hear the uplifting journey of the two pigs, while ballet dancers interpret the story into movement, miming different parts of the tale.
Books will be available at the library for a price of $10 after the book reading and ballet performance is over. After the program, Rottenberg will be available to sign the inspirational, beautifully illustrated book.
“We have never had this type of performance at our library,” said Clancy. “We are looking forward to it – it should be a fabulous program that families will enjoy.”
Rottenberg, a graduate of Columbia University and Natick resident, has published a novel, a book of poetry and has co-authored three business books. In addition to these achievements, Rottenberg has also written for publications such as Boston Magazine and the Boston Globe, along with many other poetry magazines throughout the United States.
“Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” is Rottenberg’s first attempt at a children’s book, and it has received great praise from book reviewers and parents alike. The forty-page, hardcover children’s book was illustrated by the talented Lesley Anderson who grew up in Rockport where art galleries and inspiration can be found all over. A sequel to “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” came out in October of 2011 and is titled, “Gwendolyn Goes Hollywood.”
Families are encouraged to come early in order to snag good seats, as there is no pre-registration necessary. The program is free. It will begin at 11:30 a.m.

WHO: Author David Rottenberg, Mass. Academy of Balley
WHAT: Reading of “Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig” with ballet performance.
WHEN: Wednesday, April 18 at 11:30 a.m.
WHERE: South Hadley Public Library, 27 Bardwell St., South Hadley.


Rachel Maddow discusses ‘Drift’ at MHC

by Town Reminder

Rachel Maddow discusses ‘Drift’ at MHC
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – Rachel Maddow wants a large, nation-wide discussion about what consequences come with continuous American wartime coupled with increasing presidential power. And on Saturday, she kick-started that conversation with a visit to Mount Holyoke College, where she read excerpts from her new book, ‘Drift,” and took questions from an eager and awestruck audience.
Maddow, host of MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” is no stranger to the area. The part-time Western Mass. resident got her start in broadcasting at WRNX in Holyoke and at WRSI in Northampton. In 2004, she began working as a host at Air America Radio. Then, in 2008, Maddow became a political analyst for MSNBC.
A Rhodes Scholar, Maddow earned a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford University and received her doctorate in political science from Oxford University.
Upon appearing on stage in Chapin Auditorium last Saturday, Mount Holyoke students promptly sang “Happy Birthday” to Maddow, who turned 39 on April 1.
Her first-ever book, “Drift: The Unmooring of the American Military,” spans political party lines and delves into the politics – and cost – of going to war and staying there. Emphasized by Maddow that it’s not about Democrats or Republicans, or about the good or bad guys, she probes the prospect of perpetual war, something which she says Americans have most recently found themselves involved in for quite some time. She argues that in the past, peacetime was a default and war was an aberration. But now, “that’s been flipped,” she said. Blame is not placed on one particular president, but each has continued to dig the figurative hole that much deeper, beginning in the era of Lyndon B. Johnson and the Vietnam War.
Maddow maintains recent presidents and their administrations have privatized wars in which Americans have fought, creating a disconnect between citizens and military members with their secrecy and self-benefiting policy changes to get them around “the annoying constraints of war.” Such actions, said Maddow, have numbed the American population to the idea of going to war so frequently – and for so long. “We barely noticed when the Iraq war ended,” she told audience members. Being in a constant state of war and governed by those so quick to jump into them is the new norm – and it shouldn’t be, said Maddow. “I’d love to have a big, national fight about this.”
Solutions exist to Maddow for restoring America to its roots from which we’ve drifted. “To me, it’s fixable,” she said. The power to decide to engage in war must be returned to Congress, where it was originally placed to keep presidential power in check. It’s unsettling, said Maddow, “when a president can decide alone on what we’re waging war.”
Maddow took a slew of questions from audience members young and old, student and retiree alike, offering substantial answers to their hefty, intelligent questions. When confronted about certain sections in the book or on reasons why she left out particular parts, Maddow answered straightforwardly and with much explanation.
“I’m just impressed by how smart she is,” said Granby resident Peggy Anderson, adding her accomplishments at such a young age “makes one feel hopeful.”
Amy Maclin, of Nashville, Tenn. visiting a friend in Williamsburg, agreed with Anderson’s sentiments. “I thought it was inspiring,” she said. “You don’t often get to sit in a forum like this and have a debate.”
The speaking event was a collaboration among the Odyssey Bookshop, the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center and the Gender Studies Department at Mount Holyoke College. Maddow’s “Drift” can be purchased locally at The Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley.

Cell tower proposed for Newton Street

by Town Reminder

Cell tower proposed for Newton Street
By Matthew Couto
Turley Publications Correspondent

SOUTH HADLEY – MetroPCS, along with Global Tower Assets, are proposing the construction of a cell tower to be located at 300 Newton Avenue behind Carey’s Flowers in order to improve wireless service in the area.
The groups are seeking a Special Permit from the Planning Board to allow the construction of a 130-foot high wireless communications facility. Currently, there are no other buildings in that area that come close to that height.
To go along with the Special Permit, the applicant is looking to receive a waiver that would allow the tower to be closer to residential property than the Zoning Bylaw allows.
“They are requesting a waiver because the Zoning Bylaw requires cell towers to be set back 300 feet from residentially developed property,” said Town Planner Richard Harris. “Their proposal is only about 66 feet from the residential properties on Pershing Avenue.”
Proposal documents submitted by the applicants note the facility is intended to be located on a commercial parcel of land which previously hosted a greenhouse. The idea is the cell tower will enhance the ability for both residents and professional business owners in the area to communicate. According to the submitted documents, “an estimated 70 percent of 911 calls are placed from wireless phones” with that percentage on the rise. Applicants cite the ability to call 911 at anytime as one of the main reasons most Americans carry a cell phone with them at all times.
“The fact that they submitted an application suggests that they feel it will enhance the MetroPCS ability to serve their customers,” said Harris. “The applicant has not proposed constructing a building, but to plant some vegetation for screening, install a fenced equipment compound, and erect a 130-foot tall tower,” said Harris.
Once the construction is completed, there will be no one manning the facility. Once or twice a month, according to the Master Plan Statement submitted by the applicants, there will be a check-up from a MetroPCS technician. Other than that, “any job creation would be temporary during construction,” said Harris.
The Master Plan Statement conclusion describes there is a significant service gap in the area of South Hadley. By placing this tower at the proposed location, residents, businesses and travelers would all benefit from the improved wireless service.
Despite the wireless service improving for users, many residents from the Pershing Avenue neighborhood have already voiced their concerns to the town about the proposed cell tower.
A public hearing will be held Monday, April 9 at 6:45 p.m. in room 204 of Town Hall. The public is welcome to attend, ask questions and voice their concerns.

WHO: MetroPCS, Global Tower Assets, Planning Board
WHAT: Public hearing regarding proposed cell tower
WHEN: Monday, April 9 at 6:45 p.m.
WHERE: Town Hall, room 204.

Open burning bears caution

by Town Reminder

Fire chiefs remind of guidelines

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – With unusually warm temperatures luring residents outdoors early, it’s important to heed advice offered by local fire chiefs in regard to open burning in backyards when getting a leg-up on spring cleaning.
First and foremost, all residents must obtain permits, at a cost of $10, from their respective fire district department in order to begin burning. The permits are good for the season. Previously, town hall issued such permits, but as of 2011 that task has been taken over by the fire departments. “When you come in, we give people a little lecture about safety, when to start, how to be careful,” said Fire District No. 2 Chief David Keefe. “And we get an opportunity to see them face to face.”
Open burning is allowed from January to May 1. Daily, a resident has between the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. to conduct a burn.
But before a resident can begin to burn, he or she must notify and check with their fire department. The fire departments will verify with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection that the weather and air conditions are safe for burning. If a red flag is raised by the department, burning cannot happen anywhere. If the flag is orange, yellow, green or blue, local fire departments will use their discretion when allowing open burning. Additionally, if wind speeds increase or weather conditions worsen, fire departments can put out any fires burning at that time.
Restrictions are placed on the size and contents of a burn pile. Small piles, which do not produce much heat, are requested, so as to better control the fire. They’re also easier to extinguish.
Embers from larger piles can be quickly swept into the air and carried by air currents to other locations. Keefe said those embers could certainly ignite any dry shrubs or brush, such as the Mount Holyoke Range. Dually, the embers could spark a fire in a neighboring yard.
Twigs, sticks and yard waste are the only items allowed in a burn pile. Much to the surprise of many, leaves are not allowed in the piles, because of the high volume of smoke they create. Also not allowed are stumps, large tree limbs, old bills or paper, construction material, old furniture or tree logs. Cumbersome tree pieces should be properly disposed of at the dump. If found to be burning such materials, a resident can be fined up to $500 by the Forest Warden’s office, said Fire District No. 1 Chief Robert Authier.
He and Keefe advised residents to keep the burn pile 75 feet away from structures or as far away as possible.
Each emphasized to never leave a fire unattended. Residents must stay with the burn pile at all times.
If the wind picks up, extinguish the fire.
They suggested residents keep a garden hose with a spray tip on and near the burning site. If a hose isn’t available, keep a large bucket of water at the ready. When extinguishing the fire, spread the debris apart to make sure the flame is completely out.
“Use common sense,” said Authier.
Remember to be aware of clothing and refrain from consuming alcohol while burning.
And as always, if a fire gets out of hand, too big for one’s liking or a resident feels nervous about their fire, call the fire department.
“If you don’t follow these rules, there’s a good change your little brush fire in your backyard is going to get out of hand,” said Keefe.
He said residents who have been given the OK to burn brush should not be surprised if a member of the fire department shows up multiple times a day to monitor their fire. “We have the responsibility to police it,” he said.
Should a resident conduct an open burning session without first having obtained a permit, he or she will be subsequently fined. So too could a resident not following open burning rules. Their permit can also be revoked for the season.
For the most part, Keefe said South Hadley residents are very aware of the regulations and are good about following them. “People are very sensitive to what’s going on,” he said.
This season, just one resident in District No. 1 has had to call the fire department when a backyard brush fire had gotten out of hand. The department promptly responded and assisted the resident. In District No. 2, there have been a small number of non-permitted burns or piles that were too big. To date, there have not been any large brush fires in either of the districts.

Open burning in brief

What to burn:
– Small sticks
– Twigs
– Yard waste

What NOT to burn:
– Leaves
– Old bills, paper
– Tree stumps, logs
– Old furniture
– Construction materials

When to burn:
– First obtain a permit from fire district for $10
– Verify with the department if the day’s conditions are OK
– Burn between 10 a.m and 4 p.m.

Where to burn:
– 75 feet away from structures or as far away as able

Open burning tips:
– Stay with fire at all times
– Keep a garden hose with spray nozzle on nearby
– Be mindful of clothing
– Keep burn pile small
– Spread pile apart when dousing with water

In an emergency/for questions:
– Call 9-1-1
– Call Fire District No. 1: (413) 532-5343
– Call Fire District No. 2: (413) 534-5803