‘Twas the week before Christmas

By Stephanie O’Keeffe

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through our town

Kids lug home their laundry, the semester winds down.

Decorations are up, the Merry Maple is sparkling,

Shoppers enjoy some weekend free parking.

It’s been another year defined by the virus,

Though we’re vaxed and we’re boosted, it’s still not behind us.

Some sense of “normal” is slowly returning

Businesses are open; there’s in-person learning.

But much remains closed, hybrid or Zooming,

And Omicron has a big winter surge looming.

Still, we’ve found ways of adapting and getting stuff done,

So let’s pause to reflect on Amherst in 2021.

Perhaps the event that was most consequential

Was November’s election, though not Presidential.

Dueling news sites, dueling PACs! An endorsement rejected!

Even a recount to determine who got elected.

And the referendum petition, signature challenge and lawsuit?

Kind of seemed like a GOP swing state dispute.

But it was our library project, which had a huge Yes vote win.

And when all ballots were tallied, six new Town Councilors got in.

Time and COVID have changed things, of that, there’s no doubt

Some favorite restaurants have closed and moved out.

No more Judie’s popovers, or Keno at Rafter’s

No more Lone Wolf, The Pub, or Henion’s hereafter.

But we still have plenty of great spots for all kinds of dining,

Many mainstays remain, thriving and shining.

They’re joined by fancy Savannas and Garcia’s mariachi

And great tacos on Kellogg where there used to be coffee.

A Jamaican kitchen is coming, and a new oyster bar.

There’s a sign touting “PROTOCOL” – whatever they are.

It’s not just politics and food – so much has transpired.

Let’s note some more of the odd and admired.

There were concerts on the common – now with craft beer!

Nice Writer’s Walk signs make our culture more clear.

The Musante Health Center got a ramp for access.

A new public safety plan launches with CRESS.

An old house moved to Baker Street one July night.

Lucio Perez left First Church sanctuary, ending his long plight.

That block of back-in angled parking is crazy and evil.

And a proposed new garage site has caused some upheaval.

The Civil War tablets are finally on view!

The Kendrick Park playground is awesome and new.

Lots of cool things are happening at Mill District’s North Square.

There’s dispute over what’s greener – trees or solar hardware?

A sexy undies shop opened a downtown location.

Juneteenth was marked with a big celebration.

Those weird “Poem Windows” were replaced with something else weird.

UMass football is woeful; their new (old) coach is revered.

Emily Dickinson’s museum will get her TV show’s dresses.

The Chamber and BID Directors have done much that impresses.

The Drake will return as a place for performance.

While bandshell design plans have met with a little discordance.

Our famed local diver went to the Olympics again.

And has Ms. Brewer’s epic town service really come to an end?

Can’t add anymore, this is not comprehensive.

It’s just a little rhyme trying to capture the sense of

A community that’s passionate, active and engaged

And seeks positive outcomes with each battle waged.

So cheers to this past year, and the new one forthcoming!

With gratitude for all who keep this special place humming.

Originally posted on Facebook and reprinted here with permission.

The Amherst Current will return in January.

Hello, Amherst!

The Amherst Current will focus on our town’s pressing issues: local elections, infrastructure projects, our changing demographics, new construction, taxes, and much more. We are working with contributors who have deep experience with Amherst issues, and we hope to post twice per week, generally alternating between “explainers” and opinion pieces.

With the decline of traditional media, many people are confused about the many complex challenges Amherst faces. We hope to increase understanding of these issues and provide perspective on them. And we feel that Amherst could benefit from another discussion forum.

Few people have the time to attend or watch the many meetings of Town Council and our boards and committees (thank you, dedicated volunteers, elected officials, and town staff!). So we will try to help you by focusing on what is most critical as you decide what petitions to sign or not sign and for whom to cast your votes.

We want to be clear: we favor building the four proposed capital projects (Jones Library expansion, Public Works headquarters, South Amherst fire station, and a new Wildwood/Fort River elementary school) in a fiscally prudent manner. We support increasing the density of downtown and village centers, as recommended by the master plan, and support business growth and a broadening of the tax base. We will favor candidates who support these goals.

We want to promote civic engagement, civility, and open discussion of the issues that Amherst confronts. We will encourage residents to vote in the November election.

Let us know what you think, and what you want to read about! Subscribe and be alerted to new posts. Email us at theamherstcurrent@gmail.com. And feel free to comment, as long as you can abide by our comment policy and will give your name and email address (we won’t ever display the latter). And, lastly, please forgive technical glitches as we learn how to do this!

— Sarah Marshall and Nick Grabbe