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WSU, HCC agreement a game-changer for local higher education

Date: 1/29/2015

When I was a mere boy and beardless youth the concept that you could work your way through college was still a very obtainable goal. Of course, that’s when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

Today, the concept of being a traditional full-time student pursuing a four-year degree and earning your own way is a much more difficult proposition today because of the cost of college.

That’s why the news of an arrangement between Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University (WSU) to cap the cost of a four-year degree for a wide range of programs at $30,000 is tremendous.

Granted there are popular degree programs such as nursing that are not included and that $30,000 cap doesn’t include books. Living at WSU would also be extra.

What this does is help restore some sanity to the costs of college that have been spiraling out of control for years.

Young people live in a horrible cycle: you need a degree to get a better job in many cases; the cost of the degree requires the use of loans; you enter the workforce with essentially the cost of a house hanging over your head.

We have seen a level of indebtedness that have crippled many people as they start their lives and have hindered them from buying a home, among other things.

I hope we see this approach extend to other schools. It is a great part of an economic development plan to strengthen our workforce and give young people the opportunity to advance into being an adult without crushing debt.

Of course, if we could seek a way to make one of President Obama’s proposals of free community college a reality we would be giving the nation’s young people an even greater chance for success.

No answer yet

Okay folks, sometimes I feel like I’m reading tea leaves doing this job.  We’re down to the home stretch of the will-we-or-won’t-we-rebuild Cathedral issue. Bishop Mitchell Rozanski has stated he will be undertaking the final stage of the decision making process now the work of the various stakeholder groups is complete.

At a press conference on Jan. 26, the bishop said he could not reveal anything about the final decision except to say the “the tone and outlook were optimistic” at the meetings with the stakeholders. He later added the adjective “realistic.”  

What does that mean? I know what people hope it to mean, but with sustainability as the linchpin issue I think the tea leaves are still a bit muddled. 

Expect some more definitive in mid-February.

Ah, winter!

Observations made before the snowstorm hits:

We bought our home in 1990. At that time the neighborhood were filled with all sorts of teens who trooped down the street with snow shovels in hands looking for work. I gladly paid for good work clearing my driveway and sidewalk.

Now, I never see anyone. Today there is apparently a deficit of the kids looking to make some coin by shoveling snow.

How come one of my neighbors, who is the first to call code enforcement on folks, believes how you clear a sidewalk is to throw the snow into the newly plowed street? Seriously?

And why does another neighbor leaves his car on the street regardless of parking ban, especially when he has an open driveway? And do cars really get towed because of the ban? I’ve yet to see one.

Down our street is an empty home that is now being “managed” by a company in Texas. At least that is what the sign in the window says. I’ll make a prediction that the people from Texas will not be flying up here in order to clear its sidewalk.

Playing Kreskin, I will make another prediction that in the middle of the Springfield neighborhood I call my home, some idiot will be racing through the streets on a snowmobile.

It is all part of the price of living in New England.

Agree? Disagree? Drop me a line at or at 280 N. Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028. As always, this column represents the opinion of its author and not the publishers or advertisers of this newspaper.