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Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A fter the blood and sweat, now the tears: The Norwottuck Shoppes mall in Hadley was totally destroyed by a fire on October 26. The simple wooden structure was home to mom-and-pop businesses, some owned by immigrants, that kept going on more hard work than capital. A concentration of food shops with attractive specialties had made the mall a destination; Mi Tierra, the popular Mexican restaurant, the Banh Mi Saigon sandwich shop, Wing Wong Restaurant, International Food Market, Casablanca Halal Market and Greggory’s Pastry Shop were among the 11 businesses lost in the fire, as was College Pro Computers, whose owner, Steve Marcil of Chicopee, had been in business at the mall for 22 years. Two apartments were also destroyed.

Mirth prevails as artist Angela Zammarelli and Riverside Industries participant David Coderre display puppets they made as part of the Riverside Arts program. Riverside Industries is looking for artists to volunteer to share creative moments with developmentally disabled Riverside clients, who are employed in colleges and businesses all over the Valley thanks to support from Riverside Industries. Riverside just completed a successful campaign to raise $1 million to replace 912 100-year-old windows in the historic former textile mill it owns at One Cottage Street in Easthampton, where it shares space with 80 artists and craftspeople.

 

By the Numbers:

 

Number of pounds of genetically engineered food eaten by the average American each year, according to Environmental Working Group

 

A petition bearing 125,000 signatures has been sent to major food and chemical companies with demands that they stop spending money through the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association to fight laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered food. The petition went to 65 firms, including PepsiCo, Coca Cola, General Mills, Campbell’s Soup, Smucker, Land O’ Lakes, Cargill, DelMonte, Hershey and Ocean Spray. The petition drive was organized by Just Label It and Environmental Working Group.

Laws requiring labeling of GMO foods have passed in two states, Connecticut and Maine, but they cannot go into effect until other states pass similar laws. The Connecticut law requires that four other states, one adjacent to Connecticut, pass a GMO labeling law; the Maine law requires that five other states, or any number of states with a combined population of 20 million, pass such a law.

Why? According to Rebecca Spector of the Center for Food Safety, “They want other states in their region to pass it, so if there is a legal challenge, they can pool resources to support each other.”

In Massachusetts, a GMO labeling law filed by Rep. Ellen Story (D-Amherst) has had a hearing by the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Public Health, but the committee has not yet issued a report, and it has not given the bill’s sponsors, who include Rep. John Scibak (D-South Hadley) and Peter Kocot (D-Northampton) as well as Story, any information about its stance with regard to the bill. The committee has until March either to act on the bill or to request more time.

 

“Sometimes we run in place, but in this case we seem to be running backwards.”

 

—Massachusetts Sen. Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) on why 93 homeless families, including some from the Boston area, are living in two of Greenfield’s three motels, though a state homelessness prevention program received a boost in funding for the current fiscal year

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