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Briefings: New officer, residents help Sandy victims


The newest member of the Easthampton Police Department began patrolling last week after he was sworn in during a ceremony Nov. 29 at the Public Safety Complex on Payson Avenue.

A native of Santa Cruz, Calif., Kyle Gribi, 28, left his full-time job at the Agawam Police Department to come to Easthampton.

“I knew a couple of guys in the Police Academy that were good guys and they came here, and I trusted their opinion when they said it was nice here,” Gribi said after the ceremony. “And I feel very welcome here.”

“I got the feeling in the interview with the chief that this was the kind of place where you look forward to going to work,” he said.

He lives in Feeding Hills with his wife, Desiree Gribi, and their 7-week-old son, Gunnar. Both attended his swearing in, along with members of the Police and Fire departments, Mayor Michael A. Tautznik and other community members.

Police Chief Bruce McMahon said that before joining the Agawam Police Department in summer 2011, Gribi served in the U.S. Navy for five years. He completed two tours of active duty in Iraq as a medical corpsman, and was awarded the bronze star for valor and a purple heart for wounds sustained in combat.

McMahon said that when checking Gribi’s references, his work ethic and reliability stood out. “As one person put it, ‘Kyle is one of those guys that you would want with you when things were bad,’” he said.

“There were a lot of quality candidates and he really stood out, everyone had very positive things to say about him and he was really good in the interview,” McMahon said.

His hiring is part of McMahon’s effort to get his department closer to fully staffed, after two officers and one detective were injured in the line of duty and were unable to return to work. Since officers get full pay while they are out on disability, the department cannot afford to replace them until they are officially retired, McMahon said.

Gribi will be replacing Richard Facteau, who retired in October after he had been out of work since he tore ligaments in his knee while on duty on Sept. 9, 2010.

Wake of the storm

Southampton residents have been doing their part of help victims of Superstorm Sandy in New York and New Jersey recover.

Cub Scout Pack 210 sold pasta dinners to raise money for the American Red Cross to aid Sandy’s victims, and Robert Floyd, town moderator and owner of the Robert Floyd Photo Gallery, collected and delivered two van-loads of clothes, personal hygiene items and other supplies for those affected by the storm in the Far Rockaway area of Queens, N.Y.

Floyd, who lived on Long Island many years ago when he first began working as a photographer, said the area was unrecognizable in the wake of the storm. “It was worse than I could have imagined. I saw someone shoveling sand 2 feet deep from a yard,” he said. “They can’t get into their homes and they can’t even walk to the store to buy toothpaste because the stores are closed.”

Floyd said his apprentice at the gallery, Patti Castagne of Northampton, came up with the idea of collecting supplies for the victims and he received a “tremendous response” when he requested donations from the community. He plans to make two more trips to deliver supplies. Those wishing to help can drop off donations at the gallery at 2 East St.

The Cub Scouts of Pack 210 also worked to help the victims of Sandy, and provided Southampton residents with a spaghetti dinner at the same time.

The club held a fundraiser at the Town Hall on Election Day, offering the take-home dinners for $5. They sold 180 meals in 2½ hours, raising $1,317, said pack leader Heather Galpin.

“We just last-minute threw it together as a fundraiser for the pack, but then the storm hit, and we thought, ‘We can’t just do this for us,’ ” Galpin said.

“They’re very excited and proud of themselves,” she said of the Cub Scouts.

Opa Opa Steakhouse and Brewery on College Highway prepared the 60 pounds of pasta and about 10 boys at a time dished and distributed the meals at the Town Hall.

“The reaction we got from the community was great — some people just donated money when they saw the cause,” Galpin said.

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

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