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Walking The Beat

Spring not quite sprung

A perfect spring day, Tuesday, March 11. In New England, we know well enough to jump on it. We’ll have some kind of precip tomorrow, rain, sleet, snow, sneet, then a cold day or two; back to warmer on the weekend. Spring tease. Besides birdsong, top-down convertibles and runners in tank tops and shorts, other signs: Industrious young people scrape the chunky slush off the skate park concrete. Demand has been pent up for a long time. Waves flow down the sidewalks, and snowmelt finds 0

Down with cabin fever, up with art

The theme was wintry, but love was also in the air Friday. Earlier in the day, rose petals sprinkled the sidewalk and a large pink heart lay in a snowbank. (Two small children investigated and verified it was indeed ice.) Nearby, ice sculptor Robert Markey worked from sketches to create a chilly mermaid. The air was warm — warm enough that chunks of snow were falling off buildings — but the ephemeral sculptures kept their shape into evening, as festive throngs took to the sidewalks. 0

Radical renovation

It was a shock to pass the Smith College conference center Tuesday and see that the entire middle of the building had been removed. Considerable digging had been going on in front of the building, but this was radical.  According to the college’s website, Smith is renovating the entrance and lobby of the Conference Center, which is on College Lane overlooking Paradise Pond and the falls. Weather permitting, construction (except for plantings) is scheduled for completion by mid-April, the website reports. Work started in mid-December. Two-way 0

Walking the Beat: On Village Hill

Noticing considerable activity inside the unoccupied front of Village Hill’s Gatehouse building, I called Opal Real Estate Group to see who’s moving in. Liberty Mutual insurance company is the new tenant, according to Opal’s Demetrios Panteleakis. Part of the space will be a retail office and drive-up claim center, he said. When asked about the previously mentioned possibility of a café in the building, Panteleakis said there was still room for a coffee shop, and that Opal is entertaining three “interested parties.” As to the 0

Walking the Beat: Hot Chocolate Run

I had a lot of company on my walk today — runners of all sorts and descriptions warming up for the 10th annual Hot Chocolate Run to support Safe Passage. It was a perfect cold December day, gray skies but no “weather.” The high-energy pre-event had everything: gaiety, laughter, an all-female drum corps, an oompah tuba, recorded James Brown belting out “I Feel Good”; children all over the place, some of them appearing to be pretty serious runners. The 5-kilometer run/2-mile walk event supports Northampton’s 0

Walking the Beat: Skatepark accident

A beautiful fall Saturday, and the kids turned out to skate at the Veterans Field skateboarding facility. Suddenly, three fire trucks, an ambulance and a police car were at the scene. Every parent’s nightmare: an ambulance has been called for your kid. The fire trucks provided manpower, ladders and ropes: a boy lay hurt at the bottom of the bowl. Kids stood around, or floated about on skateboards and scooters, seeming dazed and upset by the accident that had befallen one of their own. Over 0

Walking the Beat: Not resting on Laurel

The first hint was orange-flagged stakes. Mass Development’s four-home project on Laurel Street is about to get underway. Pat Goggins, whose agency is handling the mini-development, says the first house will be built on the lot closest to Grove Street. That will be a model home. The adjacent lot is already under deposit. The houses will be under 2,000 square feet and cost from $359,000. Work is expected to begin within a couple of weeks, with completion next summer. Builder Carter Scott of Transformations Inc. 0

Walking the Beat: Weather report

This morning was gray and cold, but late afternoon brought brilliant sunshine with the crisp air. Scarlet winterberries glowed alongside the connector from Earle Street to the Manhan bike trail, and as the sun set, striated clouds and small, puffy ones vied to glow as bright.  OK. Pretty. But the sun sets so early! And gee, it was cold. An underdressed cyclist rolled by and expressed that very sentiment. I was in Michelin mode, layers of wool and puffy down; hat, gloves and scarf. What 0

Walking the Beat: Sphere of influence (with video) 

Wondering about that globe on the lawn at Forbes Library? When you get close, if it’s the right time of day, you’ll see the panels inside revolving under solar power. The accompanying sign says it’s part of the Northampton Arts Council biennial juried exhibition “Be Here Now,” currently up in Forbes’ Hosmer Gallery.  The title was inspired by one of Northampton photographer Ellen Augarten’s works — a photo of the stenciled “Be Here Now” on the College Lane sidewalk overlooking Paradise Pond. The words under my 0

Walking the Beat: Signs of fall

Among the still mostly green trees are splashes of purest red and orange. We may be turning toward a darker season, but the trees won’t let us go without a glorious last stand.  The black-and-brown woolly bear caterpillars I’ve been seeing this fall have long, reddish brown central bands, and short black ones at head and tail, which folk wisdom claims is a sign of a mild winter. The woolly bear emerges from the egg as a caterpillar in the fall and literally freezes solid 0