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  • Joan Slocombe of Amherst swims 30 minutes of laps at the town’s War Memorial Pool despite a light drizzle on Saturday, the first day of the delayed season. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mie Piner, left, 12, and Elyse Hawkins, 10, play cards on the Shutesbury Town Common while much of the town was attending the annual Town Meeting across the street behind town hall on Saturday morning. The two were taking a break from holding campaign signs on the common for friend and Select Board candidate Rita Farrell. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING 

  • Michael Vinskey, right, addresses a comment to Shutesbury Town Meeting moderator Paul Lyons, left, during the rescheduled meeting held outside of town hall on Saturday. The annual meeting is usually held the first Saturday in May in the elementary school gym. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Kim Carlino of Northampton paints a concrete barrier last Thursday for the Northampton Public Arts Festival. Carlino, one of seven artists who painted the barriers, said she wants her piece, titled “Lush,” to bring more greenery downtown. She describes her work as “eco-geometric abstraction.” The barriers have been placed to protect outdoor diners from traffic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tenzin Soepa, from left, Phurbu Dolma and John Page set up a tent in front of MoMo Tibetan Restaurant last Friday to prepare for outdoor dining on North Pleasant Street in Amherst. Page is the membership and marketing manager for the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Noah Brink of the Northampton Arcanums catches during practice at Arcanum Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Matt Hockman catches during a drill that was part of an Amherst Sandy Koufax league practice at Ziomek Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Robert Mora, right, who is the building commissioner for Amherst, directs the placement of tables as Gabrielle Gould, center, the executive director of Amherst BID, and Tenzin Soepa, of MoMo Tibetan Restaurant, hold a measuring tape as they prepare for outdoor dining, last Friday on North Pleasant Street. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ramiro Davaro-Comas paints a concrete barrier placed to protect outdoor diners on Strong Avenue, last Friday for the Northampton Public Arts Festival. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Lena McCarthy, of Boston, paints a concrete barrier, Friday, June 26, 2020 for the Northampton Public Arts Festival. Seven artists will paint 56 barriers that are set up to protect outdoor diners from traffic. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jack Sherman, of Amherst, bats into a net during a Sandy Koufax league practice, Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at Ziomek Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Johann Bishop, of Amherst, catches during a drill that was part of a Sandy Koufax league practice, Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at Ziomek Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Elijah Rubinstein, of Amherst, catches during a Sandy Koufax league practice, Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at Ziomek Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dominic Aloisi, of Amherst, bats during a Sandy Koufax league practice, Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at Ziomek Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dominic Aloisi, of Amherst, bats during a Sandy Koufax league practice, Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at Ziomek Field. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Silvia Lopez Chavez, of Boston, paints a concrete barrier, Monday, June 29, 2020 for the Northampton Public Arts Festival. Seven artists painted 56 barriers that are set up to protect outdoor diners from traffic.  STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS—

Staff Photographer
Published: 7/2/2020 11:52:11 AM

With the worst of the pandemic here in the Valley hopefully behind us, more freedoms were authorized this week. In Amherst, swimmers took the plunge at War Memorial Pool and in the pool at Mill River Recreation Area, which both opened on Saturday. The new splash pad at Groff Park is expected to open in July, and the spray park at Look Park in Northampton opened on June 22. The Easthampton pool and spray park in Nonotuck Park are closed for the season.

Following in the footsteps of Northampton’s outdoor dining plan, Amherst positioned 30 concrete barriers last week on both North and South Pleasant streets to protect diners from traffic. Last Friday, a crew arranged tents and tables as Robert Mora, the building commissioner, directed their placement. A Solomon Foundation grant for $10,000 will be used for umbrellas and trees, according to Amherst BID Executive Director Gabrielle Gould, who was helping with the setup.

“It’s going to take some time for people to realize the restaurants are open,” she said. Although the rain impacted the first weekend of outdoor dining, she said the restaurants are “definitely seeing the shift” as people return to normalcy. Fourteen restaurants are open, with three more slated to open this week. But she also thinks older diners and others at risk might be concerned if they see unmasked people on the sidewalks where distancing isn’t possible. “The masks are going to be imperative,” she said.

In Northampton, seven artists painted outdoor dining barriers along Main Street and Strong Avenue during the Northampton Public Arts Festival, which ran June 23-July 1. Ramiro Davaro-Comas was painting on Strong. “We need new things to continue to inspire people,” he said. “Public art is one of those things that brightens the day and brings people together.” Now living in the Albany area, he lived in Northampton, graduated from UMass Amherst and painted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mural on the side of the former Northampton National Bank building on Main Street last year. Steve Sanderson, the arts events producer for the city, said that at one point last weekend, he saw an endless line of people in their cars yelling “thank you” and “it’s beautiful” to artists working. “Art makes people feel better,” he said.

Amherst is in the process of lining up 30 artists to paint their barriers on July 7, according to Gould.

Summer baseball is set to begin with the first game scheduled for next week with players assembled from western Massachusetts American Legion teams. American Legion canceled its season for the first time since 1927 due to the pandemic and has been replaced by a league called Western Mass, with 19-and-under and 16-and-under divisions. Mickey Mantle and Sandy Koufax leagues will also begin their seasons next week. Though the season is starting later than usual, all will play about 15 games.

Noah Brink, a 2019 graduate of Northampton High School who is playing catcher for the Northampton Arcanums in the Western Mass 19-and-under league, was practicing with the team at Arcanum Field on Tuesday.

“It’s probably going to be my last baseball season,” he said. “When it (American Legion baseball) was canceled, I was disappointed. It’s a different atmosphere. It’s more relaxed, but just as intense,” he said of the summer season compared to high school games. “We made a good run into the post-season last year, and we’re looking to finish the job.”




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