Monday, May 4, 2015

DUI Dishonor Roll

In Eastern Hampshire District Court this morning a dozen individuals arrested in Amherst over the weekend (half of them by Amherst Police and the other half UMPD) were arraigned before Judge Matthew Shea.  Only one of them, Andrew Robichaud, age 24, was for drunk driving.

 Andrew Robichaud had his case continued until June 2

But as any good sniper will confirm, it only takes one.

 Click to enlarge/read

Since District Attorney Dave Sullivan has lifted his temporary moratorium on using breathalzyer results in Court, Robichaud would be wise to accept a standard 24D disposition.

I'll Huff, And I'll Puff

Little Red Schoolhouse facing west (Stone dorm in immediate background)

Two years after a major controversy arose over the eviction of a preschool business that used a (somewhat) historic building on their campus, Amherst College has decided the cute little brick building needs to come down ... along with the four nearby dorms -- Pond, Crossett, Stone, and Coolidge.

The extensive demolitions are the result of the proposed new science center construction project.

Since the building is over 50 years old the Amherst Historical Commission at their May 19th meeting will hold a public hearing on the matter.  At most the Commission can impose a one-year demolition delay.

Amherst College is the #1 landowner in town as well as the #1 taxpayer (around $500,000 this year) due to houses owned and rented to college employees; and the Lord Jeffery Inn and Amherst Golf Course which are taxed like any other commercial property in town.

In addition the college donates $90,000 for Payment In Lieu Of Taxes to cover Amherst Fire Department services.

 Little Red Schoolhouse facing east

In other words they are a good customer/partner to the town.

And since the Little Red Schoolhouse is somewhat centrally located on their property and it's looking pretty sad these days, the Historical Commission should let it die a quick noble death.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Notch Command

AFD Rescue 1, Engine 2, two ambulances, APD cruiser, Chief Nelson's vehicle on scene

Amherst Fire Department handled its first fair weather rescue of the year when a mid-20 year old male competitor in the 7 Sisters Trail Race became incapacitated by the warm weather and grueling nature of the terrain up and across Bare Mountain.

In fact rescuers had to carry him back up to the top of the mountain to meet up with a Kubota utility vehicle, so he could be transported on a stretcher down the mountain to waiting units that staged on a side access road in Granby.

 Trail entrance for emergency responders

He was then transported to Cooley Dickinson Hospital. After the first victim was safely transported another competitor also ran into trouble and was assisted by units on the scene, but did not require transport to CDH.


Chief Nelson, who took command at the scene, said he was surprised that it took this long for the first case such as this since the last couple weekends have been warm and inviting for hikes and other outdoor endeavors.


A DCR Park Ranger first called in the mishap at 12:45 PM as a hiker, in and out of consciousness,  suffering from heat exhaustion.  The entire rescue took about two hours. 

DCR Park Ranger on scene with ATV

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sunny Saturday

24th annual Amherst Ultimate Frisbee Tournament ARHS playing field

Today is a beautiful day to get out an enjoy some of the cooler things our little college town offers, like the 24th annual Amherst Ultimate Frisbee Tournament taking place today and tomorrow at the Amherst Regional High School and Ziomek Field.

Click to enlarge/read


 Amherst League of Women Voters book sale under the bigtop

And that BIG white tent on the Town Common that 's impossible to miss indicates the other long standing Amherst tradition is in full swing: The annual League of Women Voters book sale.

Yes in Amherst all things paper -- especially books -- are still beloved.

Earlier this week on the floor of Town Meeting DPW Chief Guilford Mooring said the tonnage of paper in the Amherst recycling stream has been holding steady (except for, ahem, newsprint) over the past ten years.

 Cushman Village Center, North Amherst hosting May Day Celebration today

Although ...

Large line of college aged youth forming at Old Towne Tavern at high noon

Friday, May 1, 2015


Metacomet Cafe, 27 South Pleasant Street

After nearly three years of teasing downtown traffic with a wicked cool retro neon sign, the Metacomet Cafe is finally set to open this coming Memorial Day weekend. 

The cozy food cafe is owned and operated by brothers Trevor and Spencer Hopton,  and will be specializing in "the world's greatest hamburgers" (as well as sandwiches and salads).

Public Safety Force Multiplier

225 police officers help keep the peace in Amherst on the day of Blarney Blowout (3/7/15)

On March 7th -- to ensure peace and tranquility in neighborhoods adjacent to UMass -- Amherst police benefited greatly by use of the Western Mass Mutual Aid agreement, a pact signed back in September between Amherst and 26 other local departments.

The main reason Blarney Blowout became riotous over the previous couple years was a lack of boots on the ground dressed in blue.

 North Pleasant Street 3/8/14

In 2014, the worst-of-the-worst year with 58 arrests, vastly outnumbered police had to rely on pepper balls and less gently methods of physical interaction with the alcohol fueled rowdy mobs.  But this past year was different as night-and-day, or drunk-and-sober as the case may be.

Like traditional fire department mutual aid, which has been around forever, when a sudden emergency prompts a nearby city/town to call for police assistance, Amherst will simply respond with no expectation of reimbursement.

 AFD Engine 2 and an ambulance responded to Northampton Hotel fire on Tuesday

That of course works both ways, as someday that same department may respond to Amherst when the need arises.

Since Blarney Blowout was a "long standing incident or pre-planned event" APD (the "receiving party") was responsible for reimbursing responding departments, a $30,910 cost picked up by UMass. 

The 60 State Police officers used that day did not require reimbursement, and APD Chief Livingstone does not anticipate mutual aid will be required (other than normal paid traffic details) for UMass graduation next week.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Centennial After The Horror

About 50 people gathered in front of Amherst Town Hall to hear Select Board member Jim Wald read a proclamation issued by the town to remember the "mass extermination" of the Armenian population 100 years ago.

Ellen Story addresses the crowd.  Adrienne Terrizzi and Gregory Bascomb on her left, Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy and Jim Wald on her right

Even today Turkey, in an attempt to whitewash history, bans the word "genocide".

But as long as there are good people who pause to remember the horror and pass it down through talks and the written word, it's a sad chapter in human history that can be avoided in the future.

  Marian Mesrobian MacCurdy, author of the book, 'Sacred Justice: The Voices and Legacy of the Armenian Operation Nemesis', addresses the crowd