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Paper City begins new era in 2010

Date: 12/28/2010

Dec. 29, 2010

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE — 2010 was a year of great change and great promise for the Paper City.

The beginning of the year, the city welcomed a new mayor and at the end of the year, it started a search for a new police chief.

Holyoke's historical status as a city of industrial innovation entered a new era with the announcements of the high speed computing center and a partnership with Cisco Systems to create new communications initiatives in the city.

Elaine Pluta succeeds Mike Sullivan

Monday [Jan. 4] marked a new era in Holyoke city government with the inauguration of former City Councilor Elaine Pluta as mayor — the first woman in the city's history to hold that position.

Her taking of the oath broke with recent traditions by having the ceremony in the auditorium of City Hall rather than Holyoke High School.

Before a standing room only audience, Pluta said she wanted the ceremony to take place under the 135 year-old stained glass windows representing the city's industry and resources that defined the city's past and are shaping its future.

City plans a new senior center

City officials gathered at the present Council on Aging (COA) senior center in the lower level of the War Memorial last week [Jan. 25] to announce the location of the new senior center.

Kathy Bowler, executive director of the COA, said the former McHugh Early Childhood Center at 165 Sargeant St.would be the site of the new center.

Bowler explained to Reminder Publications the building hasn't been used by the School Department for over a year. It was chosen because it is a central location, on a bus route, has plenty of parking and is already owned by the city, she said.

Construction has begun on the new senior center.

Cisco selects Holyoke

Imagine a communication system in a home that combines a computer with an interactive television. That is what might be happening in Holyoke, potentially the first advantage of being the host city of the new high-speed computing center.

On Wednesday [Feb. 10], speaking via teleconference from Bangalore, India, Cisco Service's Chief Globalisation Officer and Executive Vice President Wim Elfrink announced the international computing company has selected Holyoke as the first American city to have a pilot program in its "Smart+Connected Communities" initiative.

Elfrink said the company's involvement in developing the high-speed computing center was one of the reasons Holyoke was selected for this pilot.

Later in the year, several of the projects in this initiative were demonstrated at the new multi-modal transportation center.

Victory receives funding

The banner on the old building may be considered a bit early, but the supporters who gathered in front of the Victory Theatre on Friday [April 16] believed it.

The banner reads "Victory is ours!" and, thanks to $600,000 in state rehabilitation tax credit funds, that message is one step closer to becoming true.

Wistariahurst recognized

The historic preservation of the Wistariahurst Carriage House was nothing short of extraordinary, solidifying its place as one of the crown jewels of the Commonwealth, according to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC).

The million-dollar restoration, completed last winter, has garnered the MHC's Historic Preservation Award of 2010. Wistariahurst was one of 10 sites awarded this year within the categories of adaptive reuse, and rehabilitation and restoration.

Investment on Main Street

Mayor Elaine Pluta thought for a moment and said she couldn't recall the last time there was as a significant commercial investment as the new Racing Mart combination gas station, convenience store and laundromat on Main Street.

The new retail complex, representing a $2 million investment, opened officially last week [July 21].

Computing Center a reality

The wait is over. Gov. Deval Patrick made the much-anticipated announcement Monday morning [Aug. 2] that the Holyoke High Performance Computing Center (HPCC) would be built on the site off Appleton Street once occupied by Mastex Industries.

Patrick said that ground will be broken this fall and University of Massachusetts (UMass) President Jack Wilson added the center should be open in two years.

Making remarks outside of Holyoke Heritage State Park visitor center, Patrick, flanked by a group of children from the Holyoke Boys & Girls Club, described the center while looking at the children as "a brand new vibrant economic engine for you."

The selection of the Paper City reflected the "confidence in the future of Holyoke," Patrick added.

New transportation center opens

A week before its opening ceremony on Sept. 27, construction workers were busy with the final stages of what is being described as a one-of-a-kind center in the country, the Holyoke Multimodal Transportation Facility.

The facility is scheduled to open Sept, 27 at a 10 a.m. event featuring Congressman John Olver. Mayor Elaine Pluta said Gov. Deval Patrick might also be attending.

Pluta said to Reminder Publications the center would be a model for other cities.

"It's a great addition to downtown," she said.

The facility is in the former fire headquarters on Maple Street and will be a hub for the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA), as well as serving as the Holyoke bus station for Peter Pan Bus Lines.

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