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Around Amherst: Emily Dickinson’s servant namesake for essay competition



Staff Writer
Sunday, September 10, 2017

AMHERST — The Amherst Irish Association, a group that celebrates Irish heritage, is holding an essay competition, named in honor of a long-time servant for Emily Dickinson’s family, for undergraduate students at area colleges.

As the association begins a series of programs for the public this fall, it is sponsoring the award recognizing Margaret Maher, an Irish immigrant who worked as a maid for the Dickinsons for 30 years.

Essayists should write about Ireland and “what interests me and why.”

The prize for the winning essay is a free trip to Ireland. The top three essayists will discuss their ideas at an event scheduled for Oct. 22. Finnoula Quinlan, Ireland’s consul general in Boston, will then present the award.

Submissions are due by Sept. 30. More information is available at www.amherstirish.org

The Amherst Irish Association aims to promote the understanding and appreciation of Irish culture, history, language and politics in the Pioneer Valley.

It formed in 2014 in the wake of the Blarney Blowout, an event timed to St. Patrick’s Day that caused considerable mayhem by college-age people for several years in Amherst.

The association’s fall programming begins Sept. 17 with Céilí, a group dance event with a caller. Like other activities, that will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse, 121 North Pleasant St.

Church anniversary

The First Hispanic Church of Amherst recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a service and celebration at the First Congregational Church, 165 Main St.

Rev. Jose M. Pagan, the founder of the church that is also known as Primera Iglesia Hispana, said numerous other local churches were invited to participate in the event.

Pagan’s wife, Maria M. Pagan, is the current pastor of the church, which holds its services in Spanish.

Texting dangers

The consequences of texting and driving is being seen first hand by students at Amherst-Pelham Regional High School this week.

Encharter Insurance LLC is sponsoring the Arbella Insurance Foundation’s distractology tour, which educates new drivers on the dangers of distracted driving

John Donohue, chairman, president and CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group, said in a statement that using a cellphone while driving triples the risk of a crash.

“It’s our hope that by working together with new drivers, educators and parents, we can once and for all break the addiction so many drivers have to their mobile phones and create a new generation of safe drivers who believe distracted driving is unacceptable,” Donohue said.

Distractology features a mobile classroom featuring two driving simulators that show how texting, posting to social media sites and changing the radio poses dangers. A new scenario this year asks students to take a selfie while driving.

The curriculum and simulator are based on research funded by Arbella and conducted by the University of Massachusetts.

Cuppa Joe with Paul

Town Manager Paul Bockelman will hold his next Cuppa Joe with Paul event at Share Coffee, 17 Kellogg Ave., Friday from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Bockelman will be joined by Superintendent Michael Morris and Doreen Cunningham, the assistant superintendent for Diversity, Equity and Human Resources.

Residents are welcome to offer compliments and criticisms and ask questions about town and school affairs.

Office hours

State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose’s constituents will have several opportunities to speak with him when he holds office hours in the district this month.

Goldstein Rose will be at the Pelham Library Sept. 11 from 6 to 7 p.m., at The Works cafe in Amherst Sept. 18 from 8 to 9 a.m., and at Applewood retirement community that same day from 2 to 3 p.m., and at The Earlee Mug in Granby Sept 25 from 8 to 9 a.m.

Meetings

MONDAY: Amherst School Committee listening session, 6 p.m., high school library; Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Public Shade Tree Committee, 4:30 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 7 p.m., community room, police station; Historical Commission, 7 p.m., Planning Department library.

THURSDAY: Board of Assessors, 11 a.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Planning Board, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.