2

The wounds of war: a Memorial Day saga

This story was first published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette on May 24, 2019. Private Thayer Greene had just turned 19 when he entered the city of Nordhausen as his regiment’s lead scout. It was April 11, 1945. He had already experienced the terror of enemy soldiers shooting at him, and on this day he would witness the horror of mass murder. He expected to get machine-gunned at any moment. As he carefully entered the city, he saw a man coming toward him in a uniform he didn’t recognize. He raised his rifle, but lowered it after seeing no weapon. …

DPW, Jones Library also need attention

The problems of Amherst’s elementary school buildings are widely known, and town officials have been trying to locate a fire station in South Amherst for at least 35 years. But the physical problems of two other public buildings have been less publicized. In this blog post, Nick Grabbe addresses the problems at the Department of Public Works building, and Kent Faerber looks at the Jones Library’s issues. There is a public building that is twice as old as the elementary schools, and its employees – whose work touches every Amherst resident, every day – are also affected by poor conditions. …

2

Why are there so many potholes?

A resident wrote to the Department of Public Works that he’s lived in a Third World country that has better roads than Amherst. Everyone notices the number of bone-jarring potholes on our roads. Many of us swerve to avoid them, and some of us damage our cars by driving too fast over them. Why are the roads so bad in a town with such high taxes? Many towns have a bumper crop of potholes this year. The rainy weather in 2018 raised the water table, and the freezing-and-thawing over the winter has caused the problem. The short-term solution is to …

4

When the Amherst Bulletin police log got national attention as ‘found poetry’

The Amherst Bulletin’s police log received national publicity in 2002. With its mini-tales of a frozen turkey plunked in the middle of North Pleasant Street and a man licking the pavement on Main Street, it was the subject of a national magazine article. And yet the police log, whose quirkier items are still read aloud in Amherst living rooms and posted on Facebook, was conceived with the most modest of journalistic ambitions: to fill space. Harper’s magazine ran a feature on the Bulletin’s police log in the February 2002 issue. It was called “Gone When Police Got There,” and spanned …

4

Brown girls on the ramp

I’ve had a foot in two worlds most of my life. I am Bangladeshi-American, although I was born in Pakistan and grew up in India. As Toni Morrison put it, “In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” When people ask me where I’m from — which immigrant hasn’t heard that? — my usual response is: “I’m Bangladeshi but I grew up in India.” I’ve been in the U.S. for over two decades now, having lived in New York most of that time. Even if this is “home” to me, I have never quite felt I belong. …

1

Bruce Watson on the Jones Library at 100

This guest post was written by Bruce Watson, the former newspaper columnist and author of the new book, “Hearth and Soul: A History of the Jones Library at 100.” His writing, which includes many articles in Smithsonian magazine and several books, will be recognized at the library’s Samuel Minot Jones Awards tonight. Through hundreds of columns for the Amherst Bulletin and Daily Hampshire Gazette, I’ve told many stories. About my kids (both doing well, thank you). About politics (not so well, sorry to say). About our colorful culture. But recently I took on a story unlike any I’d covered. If …

1

A year later, how is new charter working?

A year ago, Amherst residents voted to approve a new charter, with a Town Council replacing Town Meeting and the Select Board. So how are we doing with our new form of government? As a member of the Charter Commission, I was one of nine people who met for 18 months to hammer out the structure and details of the new system. So I have been watching closely to see whether it has promoted democracy and citizen participation in the ways that we intended. I have concluded that in many ways, the new system is working very well, although I …

1

Newspapers seek Amherst ideas

Michael Greenebaum thinks the Amherst Bulletin should review local musical productions and not reprint so many Daily Hampshire Gazette stories. Town Councilor Andy Steinberg wants the newspapers to provide information about important decisions before they are made. Meg Gage believes the newspapers should not “fuel controversy” and should try to help the town move forward. About 30 people gathered at Amherst Coffee last Wednesday, at the invitation of three leaders of the Gazette and Bulletin, to give their thoughts about how the newspapers could serve the town better. Gazette Editor Brooke Hauser said she will be overseeing the Bulletin, and …

2

Jaago, Amherst!

“Jaago” means “wake up” in Bengali, Hindi, and Urdu. It’s a call to the masses to fight for their rights, to make a difference. JAAGO is also a nonprofit in Bangladesh that educates street children. In 2009, Korvi Rakshand launched his one-room, mud-floor free school in one of the biggest slums in Dhaka with 17 kids. His goal: to eliminate poverty through education. The children — from families of farmers, sweepers, beggars, domestics, brick breakers, and sex workers — learn everything from speaking English to basic hygiene, like brushing teeth. Ten years later, JAAGO educates 3,000 children in 12 schools …

2

Councilors hear pleas on school buildings

The Town Council faced a barrage of pleas Monday from 19 teachers, principals and parents who want it to send a strong message to state funding officials that Amherst needs a new elementary school. Councilors heard about leaky roofs, mold growth, cold classrooms, teacher illnesses, caved-in ceilings and rodents at Fort River and Wildwood Schools. The Council will vote April 1 on a proposal to seek state money for a new school building. Many of the complaints had been heard before, but rarely so vividly or in such impassioned detail. This blog post will summarize many of them. Superintendent Mike …