Thanks! For hanging in for 15 years ‘In the Arena’

 

Greenfield Recorder 12/19/2014, Page A04

This may seem hard to believe, but this week marks the 15th year I’ve been writing this column.

During that time, a lot of political water has gone under the bridge, some dirtier than I’d care to admit. And I’ve been pretty blunt, at times, in my efforts, as the columnist’s creed goes, “to give comfort to the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable.”

However, one thing I have managed to never do in the last 15 years is say thank you. So in lieu of my traditional holiday gift list, allow me to say a note of thanks to the many colleagues, newsmakers and public officials it has been my pleasure to cover all these years.

To former Greenfield Town Manager Norman Thidemann, who helped teach me a rookie reporter about local government, even when it wasn’t always in his best interests to do so.

To former Greenfield Police Chief David McCarthy,for his friendship and for helping create the After Hours Club, which meant more to this former teen than he will ever know.

To retired GHS English teacher Dick Russo and the late Dan Verdery for teaching me how to write, Recorder Managing Editor

George Forcier for making me into a journalist, and Recorder Editor

Tim Blagg and Editorial Page Editor Justin Abelsonfor unleashing me upon you all each week.

To Senator Stan Rosenberg and RepresentativeSteve Kulik for being the best two public servants it has ever been my pleasure to cover. Period.

To Representative Paul Mark and Senator Ben Downing, for renewing my faith in the next generation’s ability to remember that politics is about helping people, not feathering one’s own nest.

To Dr. Ruth Potee, for being part of the medical team which saved my life, and for her efforts to save others as our region battles the scourge of opiate addiction.

To Franklin Register of Probate John Merrigan, for taking on that same fight, and for his, and his family’s generations of public service to the people of this sometimes forgotten corner of the commonwealth.

To the other two members of Franklin County’s “Big Three,” Franklin County Sheriff Chris Donelan and Northwestern DA Dave Sullivan, for continuing to put service above politics — even though they are, arguably the two best politicians in this region.

To Franklin Regional Council of Governments Director Linda Dunlavy, for proving that policy wonks also have personalities. You are the total package, my friend.

To former Greenfield Town Councilor Mark Maloney,for a deep and abiding friendship which transcendspolitics. To former councilors Tim Farrell and Dan Guin, see above entry.

To former WHAI owner Ann Banash, not only for giving me my start in radio and taking such good care of my former adoptive town of Gill for all those years, but for allowing me to spend the time I needed with my Mom when she was sick all those years ago. That’s something I will never forget.

To Precinct 5 Town Councilor Penny Ricketts, who, in many ways, has become the center of this community. Keep doing what you are doing.

To former Greenfield Town Council President David Singer, for reminding me that the art of compromise is still possible, even in small town politics.

To former Selectmen Peter Ruggeri, the late Bernie McGarrah, Bob Bellows, John Mackin and the many others who served Greenfield tirelessly for so many years. We may not have always agreed on everything, but I always respected your efforts to make my hometown a better place.

To the staff and crew at Greenfield Community Television,

who continue to raise the bar and redefine what community media is all about. I’m proud to be on your board.

To my lifelong friend Bobby C, for walking into Chris Ulrich’s 1986 prom party and telling me that WHAI was looking for a weekend disc jockey. And to Jay Fidanza, for hiring me when he knew damn well that the only radio experience I had up until that point was listening to it.

To the late Marty McGuane and Bill Wiles for blazing the trail and being so generous with their wisdom, experience, humor and friendship.

To all those who prayed for my recovery, and even those who silently hoped for a different outcome. I know you didn’t really mean it.

To Ralph and Patsy, who continue to teach me life lessons even when though they aren’t here to do it in person.

And to the people who continue to read this column on a weekly basis. It has been my sincere honor to be able to inform and entertain you each week, 800 words at a time.

Feliz Navidad.

Chris Collins is news director/managing editor of WHAI FM and Bear Country 95.3. He is a former staff reporter for The Recorder and a Greenfield native.