Springfield Cultural Council Funds 62 local projects for 2017/18


SPRINGFIELD, MA   The Springfield Cultural Council, part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts network of Local Cultural Councils, has selected its 2017 grant awardees.  Sixty awardees selected are comprised of local Springfield applicants who submitted proposals for funding in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences.  Over $114,000 will be dispersed to local grantees to assist with improving the quality of life for Springfield communities.

A Citation Awards Reception will be held on Thursday, June 23, 2017 at 5:30pm to 8:00pm at the International Biergarden, Worthington and Main Streets, Springfield, MA.  The reception will be held to acknowledge grantee and highlight several 2017 Projects.  Exhibits and project presentations by:  Ed Cohen Photography, The Ballroom Dance Project, La Esperanza, Dream Studios, Betty Laws Fight Back, Inc., Art for the Soul Gallery, Springfield Puerto Rican Parade, and more!

The Local Cultural Council (LCC) Program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation supporting thousands of community-based projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences annually.  The program promotes the availability of rich cultural experiences for every Massachusetts citizen.  Springfield is the second highest funded Cultural Council and this year will be awarding funds to 57 local projects taking place in schools, community centers, libraries, elder care facilities, town halls, park, campuses, museums, fairs and faith based organizations.  Springfield Cultural Council is one of the most diverse councils in the state providing an array of organizations representing the diversity of our communities. 

The LCC network consists of 329 councils serving all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.  The program is administered by 2,400 municipally appointed volunteers serving statewide.

The 2017 grant cycle begins August 1, 2017.  Information will be forthcoming regarding the application process.  All grants must be submitted by October 15th, 2017.  

To learn more, please visit: www.massculturalcouncil.org




New Program Deletes Late Fees to Give Teens Fresh Start at Library


SPRINGFIELD, MASS. –The Springfield City Library and Springfield Public Schools are pleased to announce a summer initiative for teens that is aimed at getting former patrons back into the library. The Teen Fine Forgiveness Program, which will run from June 12th through August 26th, grants a clean slate to library card holders with accumulated fines.

Currently, there are more than 5,000 Springfield teens whose ability to borrow books has been blocked due to overdue fines. Library Director Molly Fogarty said in many cases, it’s a matter of small fines adding up. “We decided it’s time to remove that barrier,” she said. “It’s so important for teens to have access to library resources.”

The program will run in tandem with the Springfield City Library’s Annual Summer Reading Club. To participate, teens can stop by any of the City’s nine Library locations and join the Summer Reading Club. When they join, they will be granted a Golden Ticket to begin borrowing books from the library once again. 

The Golden Ticket can be used at any Circulation or Welcome Desk in the Springfield City Library system. The ticket not only erases all Springfield City Library late fees from the teen’s library account, but also becomes a raffle ticket for gift card prizes. As an extra benefit, teens can return long overdue items with their Golden Ticket to skip late fee charges, and teens do not have to pay a replacement fee if they need a new library card.

The Library Commission voted in favor of the initiative during a meeting on April 5th. “It’s 100 percent the right thing to do for Springfield teens and their families,” said Stephen Cary, who serves as chairman of the board.

Springfield Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Lydia Martinez said library resources are an important component of student success. “We’re grateful the Library Commission has provided this opportunity for the District to join with Springfield City Library and really excited to give our teenage students a second chance to get back into the City Library,” said Martinez.  “We want our teens to have as much support as possible as they progress academically.”

Young adults between the ages of 12 and 19 are eligible to participate in the Teen Fine Forgiveness initiative, which is a pilot program. Traditionally, the Library has not charged late fines for children under the age of 12.  The Springfield City Library also offers a Read Off Your Fines program for teens all year long. While the summer Teen Fine Forgiveness initiative erases late fees, it does not erase fees associated with books that are lost or missing. 

For more information, interested persons can call or visit their library branch.


—-By Frederick A. Hurst—-

(This is the 5th reprinting of this article since it first appeared as a Father’s Day Tribute to my grandfather in our June 1, 2004 issue. Although my eldest son believes everyone has read it at least one time by now, that does not negate its timelessness. I believe the lessons imparted here are universal and worthy of repeated reflection.)

I purchased a building that has now become our newspaper’s offices. Contractors were rehabbing it and some debris had accumulated in the street at the side of the building. I took out my broom, shovel and rake and commenced to remove the debris to my pickup truck when an old friend drove up. “Rick,” he barked with a note of disbelief. “You’re working like a common laborer!” I laughed and told him, “IT IS NOBLE TO WORK AND ALL WORK IS NOBLE,” which is what my grandfather used to say to me as he taught me how to dig a ditch.

On another day, the same person visited me in my new offices where I was working at my desk in my shirt and tie. He told me how he wanted a successful business of his own and asked me how he could accomplish it. I smiled and told him that I didn’t know, but that I attribute my own success to the rules that my grandfather taught me about how to dig a ditch. I satisfied his instant curiosity by relating what follows:

When my grandfather left his father’s farm in Georgia in 1927 to come north in search of work, he arrived with a fourth grade education and expertise working with his hands. He came to Springfield by way of Detroit, worked on the railroad for a time and eventually landed a job digging ditches for the City of Springfield—which was involved in a long-term effort to lay sewer pipes and break the reliance of homeowners on cesspools. The homeowners hired licensed plumbers to connect them to the new sewers. It saved the plumbers’ time and, therefore, money to subcontract the job of digging and refilling the ditches to my grandfather, whom they considered one of the best ditch diggers around.

My grandfather taught me that the more time spent in preparation for work, the less time and effort needed to complete it. The bulk of the money earned on a given sewer job went to the plumbers. The way for the ditch digger to make good money was to dig many ditches for many different plumbers. Efficiency was key. The day before starting each job, my grandfather drove to each excavation site and made measurements and observations. He measured the distance between the house and the street, determined the type of soil and whether or not the home had a salvageable lawn, whether or not there were any obvious obstacles between the home and the street and whether or not he needed additional help. When we returned to do the work, my grandfather was always prepared with all the necessary manpower, tools and a plan of attack.

Start early; work hard; work late. My grandfather understood that time was money and always had us on the road to the work site at six in the morning. Except for a short lunch break, we worked hard until sundown, if necessary, to complete a job. The quicker we completed one job, the sooner we could start the next one. I know a business owner who works eight hours a day and no more. He complained to me about not being able to make ends meet, and I very candidly told him that if he was committed to work only eight hours a day, he should work for someone other than himself.

My grandfather was a proud man who started every ditch-digging job with a standard of excellence in mind that required, not only that the job be completed, but also that it be completed to the customer’s satisfaction. So it should come as no surprise that the first tool he used for every job was a special spade for cutting the grass into neat sections. We would carefully remove each section with a flathead shovel and set it aside in its original order and keep it carefully nourished throughout the duration of the job for later careful replacement after the ditch was refilled. He applied the same standard to every aspect of the job with the test of success being that, upon completion, the landscape should be as it was or, in some cases, better than it was before we started.

Homeowners marveled as they watched my grandfather and me dig hour after hour. They often wondered out loud about how we found the endurance. They believed that our endurance came from brute strength. My grandfather, however, was a technical genius whose techniques made digging a ditch much easier than it appeared to be. When I learned his techniques, I became his valuable assistant.

My grandfather understood the concept of “economic loss.” Nothing offended him more than when I came up with a half a shovel of dirt. If you go through the motions of digging only to come up with half a shovel full of dirt, you lose as much in the way of actual accomplishment as you gain. You’re leaving a half a load behind that you could have brought up in the same motion.

My grandfather also understood motion studies. He taught me to limit my motions to what was necessary to do the work. He was especially critical of my habit of standing up straight with each and every shovel full of dirt. It was inefficient and burned unnecessary energy. By holding the shovel properly, I learned that I could swing a shovel full of dirt without standing all the way up.

As far as my grandfather was concerned, anything coming out of a hole should be moved twice— once coming out of the hole and the second time going back in. This very important rule came to mind recently as I watched my wife clean every room in the house, in preparation for a reception we were having for our newly wedded daughter. As she cleaned a room, she would shift objects that did not belong out of that room into the next room. She moved most of those same objects again when she started cleaning the next room. This went on and on until all of the rooms were cleaned, but many objects were moved many times more than was necessary. My grandfather was always careful to toss dirt from a hole as far back from the ditch as necessary and no further than necessary, which avoided the dirt falling back into the ditch while making refilling the ditch easiest. Of course I didn’t tell my wife this rule, since she likes to clean house her way and any suggestions from me would be considered harassment.

My grandfather loved tunnels. If the distance between a house and the sewer in the street was 30 feet, he would more than likely dig three six foot long ditches and two six foot long tunnels connecting them. Unnecessary work was a no-no.

Nothing causes more extra work in ditch digging than when you don’t complete the work in front of you. I’ve watched so many people digging a ditch straight down without cleaning the sides of the ditch until they’ve narrowed themselves into an almost unworkable space. They end up having to widen the ditch by scraping dirt from the sides down into the lower part of the ditch. Not only is it dirt in the way of your work, but it is also dirt that could have been removed with less effort and energy at the beginning. The object of the work is to move the dirt and carve the ditch as you go.

My grandfather was a physical fitness expert. He understood that if you maintained a steady pace that suited your strength and ability—your optimum pace—and you were in reasonably good condition, you could dig all day with a short lunch break without tiring out. My younger brother occasionally helped us dig ditches. My grandfather and I used to laugh watching him tire himself out. In spite of my grandfather’s instructions to the contrary, my brother would start out rushing his work and invariably give out after the first couple of hours.

Anyone who has dug in the earth on a regular basis knows you’re liable to find anything hidden underneath. You don’t know frustration until you have dug all day and begun tunneling only to run into a boulder that can only be removed by opening the tunnel into a ditch or of preparing for those last few shovels full to complete the ditch only to have excrement gush out of a cracked septic tank or to encounter sand so fine that none of the technical rules of ditch digging apply or of having ground water fill your hole. Like no other line of work, digging ditches is the one in which unexpected obstacles are the rule. In spite of my youthful angst, my grandfather taught me that in the end all obstacles had to be and could be overcome.

When the ditch was dug and the sewer pipe laid, we filled the ditch. But, at certain intervals, my grandfather would stop tossing dirt and run water into the ditch. The water served to pack the sand in so that by the end, all the dirt that came out of the hole fit back in. He knew that if we didn’t properly pack it in, the dirt would sink over time leaving an unsightly depression. I don’t recall ever having the unprofitable task of hauling away excess dirt. Then he would gently replace the grass that he had so carefully stored to the side and fill in the unavoidable cracks between the pieces with rich loam, sprinkle a little fresh seed and rake the area so clean that it almost appeared as though no hole had ever been dug. It was done in such a manner that within a few weeks nature would do its part and you would not be able to see a difference in the lawn as it appeared before and after.

That’s how I learned to work. That old man was my surrogate father, mentor and dearest friend. I have applied his rules to every line of work that I have done, both nonprofessional and professional, and they have served me well. I have passed on his wise rules to my three children and they have served them well. You might try them and see if they help to make your dreams come true.

Attorney Hurst:

Thanks for printing the Tribute to your Grandfather and his rules for succeeding at work. I read the piece to my sons, ages 9 and 14, and added it to my collection of motivation materials. The valuable lessons you wrote about are well worth re-reading, every now and again.

Attorney John L. Roberts


—-By Frederick A. Hurst—-
Dr. John B. Cook is the youngest Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) president since the college was founded in 1967 with Edmond Garvey as its first president. Garvey was followed by Robert C. Geitz (1974-1981), Leonard J. Collamore (1981-1983), Andrew M. Scibelli (1983-2004) and Dr. Ira H. Rubenzahl, who served for twelve years from 2004 to 2016 before retiring and opening up the vacancy for Dr. Cook.
The combined services of these distinguished men leaves a substantial legacy for Dr. Cook to maintain and grow but from the early looks of things, Dr. Cook is up to the challenge. From the enthusiasm of staff and faculty, he appears to have moved seamlessly into his new presidency and has quickly merged into the socio-economic fabric of Springfield and its greater metropolitan area.

STCC’s 6th President, Dr. John B. Cook, speaks at his inauguration on Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dr. Cook stopped by the Point of View office earlier in the year and we talked about his planned approach to his new job. He made it clear to me that his approach would not deviate from the collegial pattern he has always followed and which has made him successful over the years. His goal, he said, is to be available and to do a lot of listening by holding office hours and town hall and community meetings and working with businesses like CRRC and MGM to determine how STCC students can best be prepared to meet their needs.
As should be expected of a college president, students are at the center of his concerns and he is particularly concerned about the “equity piece,” i.e., are minorities successful and are their accomplishments equal. “Socio-Economic diversity” is important to him and is something he can relate to from personal experience.
Dr. Cook was born in Lowville, a small town of about 3,500 in northern New York and raised not too far away in Oneonta with a population of about 14,000. Both parents were first time college graduates with four children, two girls and two boys. Dr. Cook was the second oldest. All four have professional degrees at the Masters level or above. Overall, life for Dr. Cook and his siblings was pretty stable but he recalls when things were not so good and he qualified for the school free lunch program in which his mother was too proud to allow him to participate.
Dr. Cook recalls when his father, who had the misfortune of being lowest in seniority, lost his college health education job after eight years through “retrenchment.” He recovered and became an elementary school principal but the interim period was a bit tough. His mother now works as a nurse practitioner after first obtaining a master’s and doctorate and teaching in a nursing program. His parents’ parents were immigrants, one Irish and the others a mix of Italian, German and English.
Dr. Cook attended Oneonta high school where he participated in various sports following in the footsteps of his father who was a football player. He played soccer and was a winter ski racer and, notably, he claims – as do all of us former avid golfers – to have once been a pretty good golfer with a 12 handicap. He earned his B.S. at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York in psychology and anthropology and went on to earn his M.A. in Community and Social Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Fifteen years later he earned his PhD at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire in education with a specialty in curriculum and instruction. It seems fair to say that Dr. Cook was well credentialed for a college president’s job and his experience measures up to his credentials.

STCC 50th Anniversary Gala at the Springfield Marriott, Friday, April 28 Left to right: STCC Works Scholarship recipients Nicholas Martinez, Emily Velez, President John B. Cook, STCC Works Scholarship recipient Mohamed Gabriel, Executive Director of Institutional Advancement & Foundation Rima Dael

When interviewed about his experience, Dr. Cook low keys it. At least he low-keyed it with me and I had no reason to believe it was an act. Rather, it seemed to be a reflection of genuine humility of the type often found in people who are comfortable with themselves. But when I reviewed his resume I understood a key reason he was hired as STCC’s president. It affirmed that he is superbly qualified with levels of experience that a man of his young age would not normally have accumulated.
But I must admit, I had one concern and I pressed him hard on it. In essence, I wanted to know how a fair-haired, middle class White guy, born in a little White northern town of 3,500 and raised in a not much larger one of 14,000, whose work history was in universities in the rolling, green hills of New Hampshire where Black and Hispanics were almost as rare as the Massachusetts mountain lion, could succeed in a majority-minority city in a community college that was also majority-minority and located smack in the inner city.
Admittedly, my probe was partially in jest. I was more interested in how Dr. Cook would respond than I was in the question. Obviously, a person doesn’t have to be from the inner city to contribute to the inner city and at a certain level, color and ethnicity become irrelevant on all sides. I sensed that he was at that level which is why I asked. Dr. Cook’s response and my subsequent inquiries, including discussions with other people with whom he has interacted, suggest that I was right.
As it turns out, Dr. Cook is not unfamiliar with urban life or multicultural life. He not only attended UMass Lowell but it is where he returned many years later to do the case study for his doctoral dissertation. Lowell is a city of about 110,000. It is located in Middlesex County and is the fourth largest city in Massachusetts, and the second-largest in the Boston Metropolitan Statistical Area. During the Cambodian Genocide, the city took in an influx of refugees and is now the home of America’s second-largest Cambodian-American population. Its population includes 49.3% White, 20.2% Asian-American, 17.3% Hispanic, 6.8% African-American and the rest are from “other” races including 6,000 people of African heritage. UMass Lowell is located in downtown Lowell and is home to about18,000 students, 73% of whom live within the city. Its student body is composed of 9% Asian-American, 5.5% African-American, 8.9% Hispanic and 54% White, and you might say it is where Dr. Cook earned his racial and ethnic bonafides.
But he was pretty well grounded even before he finished his dissertation. Before entering UMass Lowell for his Master’s, and while a student at Lawrence University where he earned his Bachelor of Science, Dr. Cook interned in Africa where he observed the problem of poaching and strategized with local officials on how to protect the animals. After completing his Master’s, he worked from 2000 to 2008 as a Research and Evaluation Coordinator for Granite State College where he had oversight for a statewide partnership between the college and the New Hampshire Division for Children, Youth and Families. It was an award-winning program called the Education and Training Partnership involving training for foster and adoptive parents and individuals working in the field of public child welfare and juvenile justice.
From 2008 to 2012, as part of the adjunct faculty at Granite State College in Concord, New Hampshire, Dr. Cook taught research and psychology classes and mentored individual students. During most of the same period, he worked as Faculty Coordinator (Department Chair) responsible for two campuses after which he became Assistant Dean of Faculty, a role in which he served for a year before being hired as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Manchester Community College in Manchester, New Hampshire where he served with distinction until he was hired, in 2016, to serve as president of Springfield Technical Community College.
Good things are happening at STCC, some started by his predecessor that Dr. Cook opted to continue and others initiated by Dr. Cook, who has made some faculty and staff adjustments that have pleased folks I knew before his arrival who haven’t hesitated to express their pleasure. He has also overseen the process by which STCC recently gained accreditation for its Health, Information and Technology degree program, the awarding of a five-year $3.4 million grant to boost Hispanic low-income STEM graduates and the building renovations for the Ira H. Rubenzahl Student Learning Center which, when completed, “will, (by 2018), become the center of campus life” combining student administrative services, library and social spaces all under one roof.
Additionally, STCC has been awarded $499,785 from the state to expand its laser electro-optics technology and mechanical engineering technology programs and some of its graduates are being hired by CRRC and are among the group being sent to China to train. Also, STCC has combined with Holyoke Community College, under the TWO (Training and Workforce Options) program, to prepare students for jobs at MGM when it opens in 2018.
Dr. Cook is involved in many more collaborations in Springfield and he has made himself available to the community. But what stands out the most about him is that he seems to have always been around. He certainly didn’t make a Trump-like splash or even a Clinton-like one for that matter. He seems to have just eased seamlessly into the fabric of Greater Springfield and become a functional part of its promising future.
Dr. Cook, whose new home is in Springfield’s Forest Park neighborhood, started at STCC in August of 2016 and was formally inaugurated as its sixth president on April 27, 2017 and presided over STCC’s 50th Anniversary reception the next night at the Springfield Marriott. It’s comforting to know that he will be around for awhile―as one anniversary guest speaker remarked: “long enough to look like a college president and not be mistaken for a student!” ■



Award-winning Pastelist Gregory John Maichack to Instruct

SPRINGFIELD, MASS.- March 31st, 2017 – The Springfield City Central Library on 220 State Street in Springfield will host award-winning pastel artist Gregory John Maichack to present an adult hands-on workshop, “Pastel Paint the 45-Million- Dollar Flower,on Saturday, April 15th, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. This pastel painting workshop is designed for beginners up to experienced artists. Seats may fill quickly so please call (413) 263-6828 ext. 221 to pre-register. Participants will freely experiment with hundreds of the artist’s professional grade pastels, pastel pencils, and pastel paper, in this fun pastel painting workshop.

In this new, highly researched workshop, participants have fun producing their own pastel painting of Georgia O’Keeffe’s elegant Jimson flower that sold for $45.4 million. Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 has been described as a vehicle for pure expression. Mr. Maichack will demonstrate how beginners to accomplished artists can pastel paint easily using techniques of masters such as O’Keeffe. As always, participants will keep their pastel paintings.

Mr. Maichack has been a faculty member of the Museum Studio School in the Fine Arts Museum Quadrangle in Springfield, MA; and taught at Holyoke and Greenfield Community Colleges, Westfield State University, East Works, the MFA, Boston, and The Guild, Northampton. Winner of the Award of Merit from the Bennington Center for the Arts: Impressions of New England Show 2003, he also was awarded the Savoir-faire Pastel Award from the Great Lakes Pastel Society. Maichack has been commissioned to paint portraits of past Westfield State University president Doctor Frederick Woodward, as well as dictionary great Charles Merriam for Merriam-Webster Co.

This project is supported in part by a grant from the Springfield Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Founded in 1857, the Springfield City Library provides nearly 5000 educational and recreational programs per year. To learn more, visit www.springfieldlibrary.org.