Around Amherst: 2 ARHS sophomores to be part of latest Encampment

  • Amherst-Pelham Regional High School

Staff Writer
Friday, May 10, 2019

AMHERST — In 1946, Isaac Ben Ezra became an alumnus of the first Encampment for Citizenship, setting him on the path to a life of activism, which continued when he arrived in Amherst in 1996 and advocated for better health care, the environment and senior citizens rights.

This summer, two Amherst Regional High School sophomores will be heading to California State University Channel Islands to be part of the latest Encampment, with a four-week curriculum focused on immigration, labor and the environment.

They will be among young people ages 15 t0 18, of different ethnic, cultural, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds, developing leadership skills, experiencing democratic living and becoming better critical thinkers.

To support their participation, local Encampment board members and the family of Ben Ezra, who died in 2017, are holding the first Isaac Ben Ezra Encampment for Citizenship sponsorship fundraiser, which they are calling S’Mores & More, to be held May 19 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the home of Ben Ezra’s daughter, Amy Ben-Ezra, at 1164 South East St.

The event comes as an anonymous donor has pledged to match up to $3,500.

Ben-Ezra said in a statement that her father’s life of activism is a tribute to his time at the Encampment.

“It was EFC that provided the encouragement, the experiences, and the leadership development that set Isaac on that path,” she said. “Right now, we sure do need more youth to be similarly inspired and trained.”

The goal is to raise $14,000 covering the program fees of four Encampers. People can also donate online.

Garden centerbuilding demolished

The building that housed the former Annie’s Garden & Gift Store on Route 116 near the Sunderland town line was demolished during the first week of May.

Property owner Sidney Chang of South Deerfield last fall began the municipal permitting process of razing the wooden building and an attached greenhouse at 515 Sunderland Road, describing it in the application as an “outdated use.”

JR Construction Co. of Monson handled the work.

Annie’s, which was opened by Annie Cheatham and Ann Gibson in 1990 at the Sugarloaf Shoppes in Whately, began leasing the building and land from Sidney Chang’s father, Tso-Cheng Chang, in 1991.

In 2001, the business was sold to Michael and Michele Elston, who in turn sold the business in 2007 to Russell Granquist and Leslie Phaneuf. The building has been mostly vacant in recent years.

The business may have been best known for the marquee sign along the highway that changed daily and had witty sayings, as well as announcements of sales and workshops.

Cuppa Joe

Town Manager Paul Bockelman and Sonia Aldrich, the interim finance director, will be at Kelly’s Restaurant, 314 College St., from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Friday.

The regular Cuppa Joe events gives residents the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments to town officials.

Second SaturdayTree Planting

The Public Shade Tree Committee will be at Colonial Village, 81 Belchertown Road, for a Second Saturday Tree Planting at 9 a.m. Saturday.

People are welcome to assist with putting the trees in the ground and should look for the yellow Department of Public Works truck.

Energy and Climate Action Committee appointments

The Town Council this week approved appointments of nine residents to serve on the new Energy and Climate Action Committee, which will allow work to begin on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Amherst and making the town more resilient.

The members will include Laura Draucker of Rosemary Lane, Andra Rose of Amity Place and Jesse Selman of Potwine Lane, for three-year terms, Dwayne Breger of Thistle Lane, Nicki Robb of Hulst Road and councilor Darcy Dumont, for two-year terms, and Steve Roof of South East Street, Ashwin Ravikumar of East Pleasant Street and councilor Evan Ross, for one-year terms.

Bockelman recommended the appointments following interviews, and in a memo to the council outlined the expertise each brings, such as Draucker being the sustainability director at Amherst College, Selman being an architect and partner with Coldham and Hartman Architects in Amherst with experience in net-zero energy building design, Robb being the director of the Land Stewardship Program at the Hartsbrook School in Hadley and Roof being a paleo-climatologist and a professor at Hampshire College where he focuses on local solutions and adaptations to global climate change.


MONDAY: Outreach, Communications and Appointment Committee, 9:30 a.m., Town Room, Town Hall; Local Historic District Commission, 4 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Town Council Rules of Procedure Committee, 9:30 a.m., Town Room, Town Hall; Finance Committee, 2 p.m., both at Town Room, Town Hall; Public Shade Tree Committee, 5:30 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Finance Committee, 2 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.