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Around Easthampton: city gets new Republican committee, firefighters in pink, and a step closer to a cultural district

  • CAROL Lollis<br/>Burns Maxey Easthampton city arts cordinator in the gallery in Easthampton Tursday afternoon.

    CAROL Lollis
    Burns Maxey Easthampton city arts cordinator in the gallery in Easthampton Tursday afternoon. Purchase photo reprints »

  • KEVIN GUTTING<br/>Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor speaks to press following the department's response to a fire at 17 Rabideau Dr. Thursday afternoon.

    KEVIN GUTTING
    Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor speaks to press following the department's response to a fire at 17 Rabideau Dr. Thursday afternoon. Purchase photo reprints »

  • CAROL Lollis<br/>Burns Maxey Easthampton city arts cordinator in the gallery in Easthampton Tursday afternoon.
  • KEVIN GUTTING<br/>Easthampton Fire Chief David Mottor speaks to press following the department's response to a fire at 17 Rabideau Dr. Thursday afternoon.

Many of the city’s firefighters, including Fire Chief David Mottor, have replaced their usual uniforms with eye-catching bright pink T-shirts in an effort to raise awareness and funds to fight breast cancer this month.

In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, members of the department are sporting the $15 shirts, decorated with the words “Easthampton Firefighters for a Cure” and a pink ribbon design made out of a firehose.

“At first people say, ‘wow,’ because the shirts are so bright,” said Sandi Krauss, the firefighter who spearheaded the fundraiser. “But then they say they’re really glad to see we’re doing this.”

She said she came up with the idea after hearing about other fire departments around the country doing similar things to fight the disease.

“I think all of us have been touched by this somehow, whether it’s a family member or a friend,” she said.

After covering the cost of the shirts, printed for a discounted price by Mantis Graphics, the proceeds of the sales will go to Springfield’s “Rays of Hope” fundraiser to support breast cancer education, treatment and research.

The public can also purchase the T-shirts at the Public Safety Complex at 32 Payson Ave. for $15.

•••

Cultural district

An effort to seek a state designation naming parts of the downtown as a cultural district took a step forward last week when the City Council endorsed it.

The district would be a contiguous walking route covering sections of Main, Union, Railroad and Holyoke streets, Payson Avenue, and all of Cottage Street. The 115 “cultural assets” in the area include art studios, businesses, municipal offices and the Manhan Rail Trail.

Burns Maxey, coordinator of Easthampton City Arts Plus, told councilors at their Oct. 3 meeting that the district could attract tourists and help the city secure funding for future projects in the district, while only costing the city $200 to purchase signs marking the area.

“When I moved here in 1979, I was told Easthampton was a bedroom community,” City Council Daniel D. Rist said before the council voted 8-0 to support the application. “Thirty-three years later, I think Easthampton is wide awake with this kind of culture and I am enthusiastic that we can now be called a destination community.”

At-Large City Councilor Donald L. Cykowski questioned what Easthampton had to draw tourists and abstained from the vote, stating, “I’m not convinced.”

Next, the group will seek out individuals, businesses and organizations to join a “cultural district partnership” that will create a five-year plan for the area, including how to market it to visitors. The committee plans to hold an informational meeting on the topic soon.

“This is really just the beginning,” she said.

•••

New GOP committee

Drivers passing by the rotary on Saturday mornings may have noticed that a new committee has joined the local political scene. The Easthampton Republican City Committee has been staging “stand-outs” there with signs supporting Republican candidates.

The city has an active Democratic committee, but Easthampton Republican City Committee Chairman Raymond Pontbriant said this is the first Republican committee in Easthampton in approximately 20 years. A few concerned residents decided that with the November election approaching, it was time to restart it, he said.

“We’re small and looking to grow,” Pontbriant said. “I think a lot of us feel like the country is going in the wrong direction.”

A mailer sent out by the Western Massachusetts Republicans, with help from At-Large City Councilor Chester A. Ogulewicz, brought together six people for a first meeting in April, he said. Since then, the group has grown to between 15 and 20 people, he estimated.

In addition to the weekly stand-outs on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon, the group has monthly meetings at the Public Safety Complex where they hear from guest speakers, discuss politics and plan ways to support their candidates and encourage people to vote.

For more information, including meeting times, contact Pontbriant at (413) 527-2338 or raypont@verizon.net.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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