A Look Back: Sept. 20

Published: 09-20-2023 6:00 AM

50 Years Ago

■Testing of Northampton’s first graders last May revealed that 81% of the students performed at their ability level or above in reading and 87% performed at their ability or above in math, school Superintendent John Buteau told the School Committee last night.

■Robert Bouley, regional civil defense director, said today that Northampton, the only city in the county, has “tremendous capability” in terms of disaster radio communications, as a result of the effort and support of Mayor Sean M. Dunphy and Northampton Civil Defense director David Cramer. Hampshire County is one of five CD sectors in western Massachusetts.

25 Years Ago

■Mega-wattage Aussie actor Mel Gibson drew a crowd of fans Friday, while lunching outside in downtown Northampton. Gibson was seen having a late lunch with a young woman at the outdoor Coolidge Park Café on King Street, part of the Hotel Northampton.

■Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Wilbur will do a memorial reading at Northampton High School on Thursday in honor of John G. Colgan Jr., a popular and well-respected English teacher and coach who died in August. Assistant Principal Frank Tudryn said Wilbur’s reading was organized as a way to remember Colgan, who loved poetry and, as a teacher, attended several of Wilbur’s poetry classes when the poet was writer-in-residence at Smith College.

10 Years Ago

■A proposed system to charge property owners a stormwater fee drew criticism and alternative suggestions from residents during a public hearing on Wednesday. With the exception of city officials who sometimes spoke in support of the proposal, all the comments during the two-hour hearing questioned the affordability or fairness of the single flat fee that owners of residential property would pay.

■Recent bottlenecks at one busy downtown intersection near the Academy of Music are the result of programming glitches in a new traffic signal system that allows transit buses to extend the length of time lights stay green on Route 9. The technical problems have led to repeated backups at the intersection where Main, New South, West, Elm and States streets converge.