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Around South Hadley: ‘SoHa’ emerges with Town Hall art exhibits

Town Administrator Michael Sullivan is looking to tap into the arts culture of South Hadley.

Visitors to Town Hall can now view the artwork of town residents on the walls of the Select Board Meeting Room as part of a two-year show that opened Aug. 20. Each exhibit will last six months. Sullivan said there might also be a sideshow in another part of Town Hall.

The first artist being featured is Anne Mueller, a South Hadley native who has done several oil paintings of farms in town.

In the vein of nicknames like “Noho” for Northampton and “SoHo” for the artistic neighborhood South of Houston Street in New York City, Sullivan lightheartedly refers to South Hadley as “SoHa.” He said he’d like to make the arts community aware that the town is an affordable place to live within the influence of the arts-loving community of Northampton.

“Northampton is iconic in this area. South Hadley is well-situated to adapt to it,” Sullivan said. “It’s a place where people respect people’s work.”

After Mueller, other South Hadley artists who are scheduled to show their work are Walter Hamilton, Mary Ann Wordsworth, Kristin Will and Jack Barry.

Sullivan said he received an overwhelming response when he initially made a call for artists. “We’re really excited about it,” he said. “We think this signifies to us that there’s a really strong arts community in South Hadley that we need to harness.”

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Friendly performers

Singer-songwriter Michael Orlen is looking forward to getting together with some old friends Saturday.

For this month’s installment of the performance series “All Folked Up,” hosted at the Thirsty Mind Coffee & Wine Bar in the Village Commons, Orlen will be joined by two fellow local folk singers, his longtime friends A.J. Rubino of Springfield and Jaimie Brockett of Perkinsville, Vt.

“I just love to hear these two guys. They both do music that I grew up with, and they’re both musicians that I grew up with,” said Orlen, who lives in Greenfield. “It’s a real pleasure just to get the three of us together in one room. It doesn’t happen that often.”

They will perform from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the event is open to all ages.

“All Folked Up” is a folk performance series run by Orlen that brings together local singer-songwriters each month. It began two years ago at the Black Moon Music Lounge in Belchertown before its closing in December 2012. Since then, the show has moved to the Thirsty Mind.

Starting in September, the performances will be held every Friday night instead of Saturday.

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New credentials

South Hadley Fire District 1 Chief Bob Authier is now an accredited fire chief in Massachusetts.

The state Fire Service Commission determined on Aug. 14 that Authier, a 22-year veteran, has met the state’s standards.

Authier, 45, has taken classes throughout his career through the Massachusetts Fire Academy, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security and the National Fire Academy.

“As you go up through the ranks, you still want to make yourself better,” Authier said.

Authier, who lives in South Hadley, earned an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Holyoke Community College in 1989. He was sworn in as a firefighter for the Holyoke Fire Department on Oct. 15, 1991 — a date he said he’ll “never forget” — and moved up in rank until he became deputy fire chief in 2005. He has been fire chief for South Hadley Fire District 1 since Jan. 3, 2011.

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