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2012 was year of political change in Holyoke

Date: 1/2/2013

By G. Michael Dobbs

HOLYOKE — Although the casino story dominated Holyoke news for a few weeks last year, many other developments took place in 2012.

Morse elected

Jan. 11, 2012: In what clearly seemed to be a celebration, Alex Morse took the oath of office on Jan. 2 as the new mayor of the city of Holyoke.

The auditorium at Holyoke High School — the City Hall auditorium was not available as it is being used as the location for the city library — was at almost standing room only.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray served as the master of ceremonies and the event was attended by State Auditor Suzanne Bump, State Sen. Michael Knapik and State Rep. Michael Kane.

Morse's election received national media attention.

Library renovations begin

Jan. 17, 2012: Holyoke Public Library Director Maria Pagan said if the temporary system installed to heat the City Hall auditorium — the home of the library for the next two years — works well, she expects library operations will resume on Jan. 23.

The heating system has successfully passed one test, she said.

Work on the new library is on schedule.

Suher buys golf course

Feb. 15, 2012: Although Eric Suher, owner of the Iron Horse Entertainment Group (IHEG), has purchased the Holyoke Country Club, his spokesman said there will be few, if any, changes to the operation or mission of the 106-year-old golf course and club.

Jim Neill, marketing director for IHEG, told Reminder Publications that as far as he knew Suher was going to continue the club's operations as they stand now.

Suher was also involved in the possible development of a casino at his Mountain Park property.

City readies for Amtrak

April 18, 2012: Mayor Alex Morse wants the city to be ready when Amtrak begins running a north-south passenger route through the city and announced last week the release of a Request for Qualifications for the design of the rail platform.

Morse explained to Reminder Publications that the city will not have, at least at this time, an actual station, but rather a platform on which the trains can take on and discharge passengers.

Resident recognized by magazine

May 23, 2012: Steve Porter never anticipated that Fast Company Magazine would name him as one of "The 100 Most Creative People in Business in 2012."

"It was a total surprise," Porter told Reminder Publications in an interview conducted several days after the magazine made the announcement. He added he regularly picked up the magazine in the airport while traveling.

The magazine described the list as "business innovators who dare to think differently."

Kane leaves office

June 13, 2012: State Rep. Michael Kane may be moving on to a life in the private sector but he assured that constituents would still receive essential services.

Kane, who announced his resignation from the House on June 8 to take a position as director of Government Affairs with Columbia Gas on June 11, told Reminder Publications his support staff would remain at his offices throughout the remainder of his term and State Sen. Michael Knapik would represent Holyoke's needs in the Legislature.

City Councilor Aaron Vega succeeded Kane as state representative.

HCC to educate casino workers

Oct. 9, 2012: Members of the State Gaming Commission were told last week that casino employees would need higher education to serve high rollers.

Meeting at Holyoke Community College President William Messner presented Commissioners Bruce Stebbins and James McHugh with a draft of a plan that would name community colleges as the educational entities that would train and certify every job created at each of the expanded gaming facilities in the state.

Computer center opens

Nov. 21, 2012: Although the computers are just starting to be installed at the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, education and elected officials praised the center for its potential at its official opening on Nov. 16, 2012.