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Christine Clarke: Agricultural success in Valley starts with healthy soil

Monday, April 20, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — Eighty years ago, on April 14, 1935, an ominous wall of blowing sand and dust swept across the Great Plains on a day that came to be known as Black Sunday. During the 1930s, the Dust Bowl days saw huge dust storms ravage the Midwest because of years of overplanting, poorly managed crops and severe drought. During that massive storm in 1935, people were forced to crawl on …

Sara Weinberger: Why not activate your investments?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — When bothered by insomnia, I meet with my financial advisor. Discussions of indexes, hedge funds and equities lull me to sleep quicker than Ambien. The fancy graphs and charts he presents my husband and I with at each visit make no sense to me. I don’t know the difference between bonds and stocks, between the DOW and the S&P 500. Honestly, …

Jim Foudy: They call it ‘smart growth’ for a reason — and Amherst should take note

Friday, April 17, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — In Northampton and Amherst this year the topics of smart growth and community gateways — and how they intersect — have generated debate. Smart growth principles encourage development in already urbanized areas. The idea is to concentrate housing, commerce, jobs and transportation while leaving land open for agriculture, recreation or scenic enjoyment. Both Amherst and Northampton have adopted those concepts. For …

Sophie Glading-DiLorenzo, Emme Hutchins, Reilly Griffin, Mark Grabiec Jr. & Cassie Bills: Northampton High School sign earns its keep

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary was submitted by five seniors at Northampton High School: Sophie Glading-DiLorenzo, Emme Hutchins, Reilly Griffin, Mark Grabiec Jr. and Cassie Bills. NORTHAMPTON — As Northampton High School students, we were concerned and upset by an article, “As LED sign technology grows, Northampton eyes new …

Jay Fleitman: Let citizens decide health care spending

Monday, April 6, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — Last Feb. 1, Medicare began to pay for lung cancer screening. This involves an initial low energy CAT scan and then subsequent CAT scans on a yearly basis. This is very much like screening for breast cancer in women using mammography, both procedures looking to identify …

Greg Thielmannis: Imperfect Iran nuclear deal better than nothing

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Iran and its six negotiating partners have, at long last, agreed on the key parameters of a final deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. On the basis of the understanding announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday, the parties will have three months to fill in the technical details. This …

Joseph Tarantino: Republicans (and I’m one) should have avoided ‘religious freedom restoration’ quagmire

Friday, April 3, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — I have a question for my fellow conservatives. How does Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Law help cut taxes? If this embarrassing and unnecessary controversy is not part of the solution then it’s part of the problem. As Republicans, we’re supposed to be the ones adept …

Andrew Morehouse: Faulty SNAP system hangs needy out to dry

Thursday, April 2, 2015

HATFIELD — Since last October, the state has seen an exceptionally sharp decline in the number of recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. This sudden drop in what was formerly known as food stamps is due primarily to a “business process redesign” implemented by the …

Robert Meeropol: The twining stories of Billie Holiday and Ethel Rosenberg, my mother

Thursday, April 2, 2015

EASTHAMPTON — If Billie Holiday and Ethel Rosenberg were alive, they’d both celebrate their 100th birthdays this year. At first glance they may seem an unlikely couple, but a closer look reveals surprising parallels. They were both born …

Matt Curtis: Taking sides on charter school question not in students’ best interests

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

FLORENCE — I would like to respond to misleading generalizations pertaining to charter schools recently presented by letter writers in the Gazette — and offer additional perspective. I suppose that one may argue that charter schools are “less public” than traditional public schools, but public charter schools are …

Alison H. Bowen: Is a new gas pipeline really the answer to high electricity costs?

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

GOSHEN — National Grid customers read on the front page of the Gazette March 25 that electric rates will drop 26 percent as of May 1, pending DPU approval. This is good news, given the long, cold and expensive winter. Spokeswoman Danielle Williamson explained: “It’s not a shortage …

David Marks & Russ Nieman: Don’t orphan early education programs in Massachusetts

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — Preparing children for a lifetime of learning requires access to high-quality early education and care programs, as well as a consistent and qualified workforce. Great educators are key to improving outcomes for children, but the existing career path for our early educator workforce is unsustainable. With …

Kristin DeBoer: Safeguarding Valley lands that sustain us all

Monday, March 30, 2015

EDITOR’S NOTE: This monthly column is produced by the Pioneer Valley Relocalization Project (http://pvrp.weebly.com/). Today, Kristin DeBoer of the Kestrel Land Trust writes about conservation. AMHERST — Food, water and shelter are essential to life. We know this instinctively. Yet, too often, forests, farms and waterways that provide …