Bike-Ped Victories

In mid-July, a new pedestrian and bicycle path will open in Keene, Kurt Blomquist told the Valley Post on June 23. He runs the city's Public Works department. A local group of volunteers successfully lobbied for the trail. Chuck Redfern is a member of the group. “The trail will reach Stonewall Farm from downtown Keene,” Redfern told the Valley Post last year. The group's web site is www.PathwaysForKeene.org. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the path. The project will cost $132,000.

Towns Vote to Fight Pipeline

Four New Hampshire towns near Keene are opposing plans to build a fracked gas pipeline through their towns. The towns border Massachusetts. At annual town meeting day votes on March 10 and March 11, residents of Fitzwilliam, Rindge, Troy and Winchester voted to direct their towns' select boards to lobby state and federal regulators to fight the proposal by Texas-based Kinder Morgan Corporation. The pipeline would carry gas that is mined using a process called “fracking,” which poisons drinking water.

50 Mile March

On January 21, dozens of people from Keene completed a 50 mile march to the New Hampshire statehouse to call for campaign finance reform. Hundreds of people marched from other towns around the state and met at the statehouse for a rally. The marchers left Keene on January 17. The march was organized by www.NHrebellion.org.

1,700 Workers Strike

Telephone and internet workers are on strike. They are asking the public to join their picket lines in Brattleboro and Keene. More than 1,700 workers at Fairpoint Corporation are on strike in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The company is the monopoly provider of landline telephone and DSL internet in those states.

Fairpoint is based in North Carolina. It wants to cut wages for workers it hires in the future by 40 percent.

Workers Strike

On August 4, striking workers held a rally outside the Market Basket grocery store about two miles from Keene in Swanzey, New Hampshire. About 10,000 people attended a rally for the striking Market Basket workers near Boston on August 5. Market Basket has about 25,000 workers at its grocery stores in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Woman Hit by Car While Walking

A woman was taken to the hospital in an ambulance after she was hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk on Main Street in Keene on July 1. Ashley Raymond is 19 years old. Police have the name of the driver who hit her.

Also on July 1, the Brattleboro selectboard voted to spend about $70,000 to improve the safety of the intersection of Western Avenue and Union Street, where a pedestrian was killed by a car on December 6, 2013. The money will be used to slow down cars by making both streets narrower. Both streets have sidewalks.

Environmental Victories

People in Northampton, Brattleboro, and Keene have recently reduced pollution and saved money by investing in better insulation and air sealing for buildings, and in other energy efficiency measures. “We're saving around $400,000 a year,” Chris Mason told the Valley Post. He works for the city of Northampton, which undertook a major energy efficiency project in 2010 in schools, the public library, and other city-owned buildings. “We reduced greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

Environmental Progress

Springfield's first bicycle lane opened October 26. A day earlier in Keene, a $15 million, energy efficient, affordable housing project opened. It was built by www.kha.org. Riding a bicycle rather than driving, reduces global warming, acid rain, and smog. Living in multi-family housing, rather than a one-family house, saves farmland and forestland, and makes using public transit a viable alternative to owning a car.

Transportation Victories

In a victory for poor people and the environment, activists got a group of local governments in the Valley to reverse its plan to raise the local bus fare. The Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA) wanted to hike the fare from $1.25 to $1.50. About 370 people attended public hearings about the scheme. The vast majority spoke out against the fare boost. At the most recent hearing, on June 27 in Springfield, city resident Aunush Dawidjan led the audience in a chant: “Tax Mercedes,” she said. “Not old ladies,” the people replied. Mercedes Corporation makes cars for rich people.

War Vehicle Will Cost Keene Taxpayers

The federal Homeland Security department effectively gave the Keene police department an armored vehicle when the city council voted last year to accept a grant for the “Bearcat” vehicle. But the Bearcat will cost city taxpayers money.

A photo of the tank-like vehicle is at:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7009/6466601767_2a976fff9a.jpg

The Keene City Council voted on December 15, 2011 to accept a $285,933 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for a Bearcat G3, an armored security vehicle designed and manufactured by LENCO industries.