Sunday, December 21, 2014

Senseless Slaughter



That thin blue line that stands between civility and chaos -- us and them -- just got a little thinner, and we all are diminished by this tragic loss. 

Even the most ardent critic of police involvement in the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown should be taken aback by the cold hearted assassination of two patrolmen, partners, sitting in their cruiser Saturday afternoon.  Assuming of course you're a rational human being.

Neither officer involved in the Garner or Brown deaths got up that morning thinking they were going to kill a black man.  Unlike Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who clearly decided he was going to kill that day, with the only prerequisite being the victims dressed in blue.

Unfortunately for them and the families they leave behind, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were in his line of sight.

 Amherst Police Station 12/7/14 #Ferguson protesters shut down Main Street

Have highly publicized demonstrations over the past few months -- some of them here in Amherst -- contributed to this outrage?  How could they not -- especially with chants like "Fuck The Police".

Self serving denials ring cold and hollow, like a freshly dug grave.

When a large group of college aged youth demonstrated in front of Amherst police station two weeks ago, they chanted in choreographed unison, "Who do you protect, who do you serve?"

Now the men and women in blue will be giving much more thought to protecting their own.





Saturday, December 20, 2014

High Times In Pelham

Zachary Amadon, age 20, arraigned before Judge Shea on Friday


If you are on your way to a court mandated alcohol education class you probably should not be smoking pot ... or driving with a suspended license due to a previous DUI. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

DUI Dishonor Roll

The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21 to 25 year olds (23.4 percent) - See more at: http://www.madd.org/statistics/#sthash.FMPelWkJ.dpuf
 The rate of drunk driving is highest among 21-25 year olds (23.4%) MADD statistic

Christmas time is certainly a time for good cheer, but unfortunately for all too many folks, that takes the form of too much alcohol.

In this case Amherst police arrested 21-year-old Laquan Wood after he crashed into a telephone pole on Snell Street, a busy cut through connecting Rt 9 and Rt 116, the two busiest roads in town at a somewhat busy time of night.

Click to enlarge/read
Laquan Wood is arraigned before Judge Michael Mulcahy in Easter Hampshire District Court yesterday

Festival of Light

Amherst Town Common 12/18/14

As per tradition the public menorah has joined the Merry Maple on the Amherst town common, as this year Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish celebration, started on Tuesday, December 16 and concludes on Christmas eve, December 24.

For those concerned about separation of church and state or playing favoritism with a religion, the town does not ban religious symbols in the public square, so if someone wished to put up a Christmas tree or erect a manger (but probably not with live animals) Town Hall would not deny such a permit.

After all, anti-war protesters demonstrate in town center every Sunday for the past five decades , so why not a symbol commemorating a battle for religious freedom?

Dedication monument a few feet from the menorah

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Caving In To Terror

NASA Space Station photo taken 1/30/14

Normally,  I would not be in favor of our government spending tax dollars on Public Relations, prefering to let actions speak louder than advertising.

But in the case of a rogue nation invoking 9/11 in a cowardly anonymous threat to trample the First Amendment rights of a major private business, I'll make an exception.

The United States government should buy out the rights to "The Interview" from Sony Pictures Entertainment and release the movie for free on Christmas Day via Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and any other Internet or TV provider.

That way all Americans can, in the safety and privacy of their own home, send Kim Jong-un a collective "Fuck You."

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"We are not going to tolerate … attacks from outlaw states by the strangest collection of misfits, loony tunes, and squalid criminals since the advent of the Third Reich."  President Ronald Reagan, 1985

Atkins North Delivers

134 Montague Road

The shopping experience at Atkins North, a proposed bookend satellite operation of an iconic South Amherst mainstay business, will be a tad more pleasurable -- not to mention safer -- thanks to the Amherst Planning Board, who voted unanimously last night to allow commercial use of the driveway at 134 Montague Road for deliveries.

 Amherst Planning Board 12/17/14

The Site Plan Review, Special Permit permission applies only to Atkins North and limits deliveries to smaller type vehicles (no 18 wheeler semi-trailer trucks), so it's not a carte blanche approval for all future businesses opening in The Mill District.

Those businesses will still have to come before either the Planning Board or Zoning Board of Appeals to get the same permission to use the more convenient access via Montague Road for commercial deliveries, something W.D. Cowls, the current owners, have done for centuries.

 Atkins estimates only 10 deliveries daily 

According to Planning Board Chair David Webber:  
This is a great example of two highly successful Amherst businesses, Cowls and Atkins, creating economic growth by providing much-needed services in North Amherst. Hopefully Atkins North will serve as an “anchor” tenant for further redevelopment of the Mill District. 
The Planning Board also voted (mostly) 6-1 to allow around a half-dozen Mill District commercial signs (some of them illuminated)  for the convenience of the general public being able to more easily find their destination. 

Cinda Jones President W.D. Cowls, Inc largest private landowner in Massachusetts

Mr.  Webber also pointed out the business signs may slow traffic as drivers will realized they are coming into a commercial zone and may watch more carefully for pedestrians and other vehicles entering or exiting the 12 acre emerging development.

Montague Road current traffic is 5,712 cars per day

As this is only the first step in the commercial revitalization of North Amherst, the former "dirty hands district."

video
 A not overly happy Louis Greenbaum

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Applauding Historic Preservation

Festive, patriotic Lord Jeffery Inn

The Amherst Historical Commission -- not to be confused with the Amherst Historical Society -- awarded three local landowners with a certificate of merit demonstrating the town's appreciation for how they maintain the historical look and feel of their property and as such, adding to the beauty of Amherst.

Three categories were covered:  Retail, residential and institutional.  The winners were all invited to the 12/15/14 Amherst Select Board meeting for a public presentation.

Amherst College, the town's largest landowner, won in the institutional category for the picturesque Lord Jeffery Inn "on the Amherst town common."

Even though they are tax exempt on all their academic buildings and property Amherst College is still the town's largest annual taxpayer due to all the houses they own and rent to faculty, plus the commercial Amherst Golf Course (that puts our municipal one to shame) and Lord Jeff.

Historical Commission Chair Michael Hanke highlighted how Amherst College recently did many millions of dollars in renovations, yet the exterior of the Lord Jeff looks the same as it has for the past 60 or 70 years.

He also mentioned that same exterior attribute when presenting the award for retail to the Cushman Market in North Amherst.



And in the residential category the Historical Commission awarded Henry Hills House, LLC (Jerry Guidera and Russ Wilson) the award for saving historic old houses previously owned by Amherst College, (and another one owned by the town) that were moved to their current location on Gray Street adjacent to the historic old Henry Hills House.



38 Gray Street, Henry Hills House built 1863

14 Gray Street, historic Tuttle homestead

32 Gray Street, historic Chapin-Ward house