Around Amherst: Family helps council raise Ukrainian flag at Town Hall

Staff Writer
Monday, April 04, 2022

AMHERST — A Ukrainian flag flying from Amherst Town Hall is showing the support the country is receiving from residents and officials as the Russian invasion continues.

The blue-and-yellow flag was recently raised by members of the Town Council, joined by residents Pete and Kyna Mackey and their children, who helped draft the resolution the council adopted. It states, in part, “we join with all those demanding that Russia end its war on Ukraine, withdraw its forces, and unilaterally commit to respecting Ukraine’s territorial integrity and allow Ukraine to continue its chosen path as a sovereign and independent democracy.”

Pete Mackey explained that he and Kyna started a Facebook page titled “Women and Children United for Ukraine” to lend goodwill and express how upset they are by Russia’s hostility.

A councilor approached the Mackeys about helping to draft the resolution, which they did, and participated in its review by the Governance, Organization and Legislation committee.

“While we do not have family connections to Ukraine or Russia, we’re trying to do what we can and greatly appreciate the Town Council’s decision to support the resolution unanimously and raise the Ukrainian flag at Town Hall,” Pete Mackey wrote in an email. “We are hopeful other towns who want to show their support for Ukraine will consider taking a similar step.”

To ensure the language accurately represented the facts of Ukraine and Russia’s history as presented in the resolution, such as the 1991 vote in support of independence by 90% of its citizens, and the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, when Ukraine surrendered its arsenal of 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads to Russia in December 1994, the Mackeys had a Russian scholar from the University of Massachusetts review its contents.

Town Hall gardening enthusiast retires

For those who visit Town Hall in the spring and summer, beds of flowers have long welcomed people to the downtown municipal building, and the small areas of greenspace have been well tended.

The expert landscaping has been largely due to Mary Decker, the building’s custodian, who retired in mid-March after 33 years as a town employee. Decker also did similar work at the Bangs Community Center and the Munson Memorial Library.

Decker, an artist by training, was recently saluted at a Town Council meeting with a standing ovation and the gift of a hanging basket.

Council President Lynn Griesemer described Decker as a “very special” person, observing that she is the one who works late into the night to clean the building and turn out the lights.

“She’s really remarkable,” said Town Manager Paul Bockelman.

Bockelman said Decker worked continuously through the COVID-19 pandemic as a front-line worker.

“Everyone in Town Hall is sad to see her go,” Bockelman said. “We have a ton of appreciation for Mary and the work she’s brought to the town.”

“You’re invited to come back and help us with our gardens at any time,” Griesemer said.

Reparations conference

The third annual Reparations Conference, a collaboration between First Repair, African American Redress Network and the International Center for Transitional Justice, is being held in Washington, D.C. beginning Friday.

With the Town Council approving reparations for its residents of African descent, Amherst will be represented by District 1 Councilor Michele Miller, who helped coordinate the town’s initiative.

The conference begins with convening at Howard University’s Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center, before going from that school of law to the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a tour and then a celebratory dinner.

Raising awareness about child abuse

A Child Abuse Awareness flag will begin flying in front of Town Hall following a ceremony at 2:30 p.m. Friday.

The flag will fly for the month of April and follows a proclamation that states “communities must make every effort to promote programs that benefit children and their families.”

Margarita Madness

Margarita Madness, in its 10th year, will be held April 7 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at Interskate 91 at Hampshire Mall in Hadley.

The Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce event includes music, food, games and margaritas made by local restaurants. Admission is $35 in advance and $45 at the door, with a portion of proceeds to benefit Dakin Humane Society.


MONDAY: Town Council, 6:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 6:30 p.m.

THURSDAY: Local Historic District Commission, 3 p.m.