Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Even in Amherst

So yeah, I thought tonight’s School Committee meeting went pretty well.

First off Clint Eastwood wanna-be Alton Sprague, Acting Co-Superintendent did not show up (he’s the one who signed the Trespass order against me) at least during the 45 minutes I was there; and he knew full-well the issue about Wildwood's bathrooms lacking hot water was going to come up and when.

His Acting Co-Superintendent partner Helen Vivian did the honors. That alone is worthy of an hmmm….

School Committee Chair Andy Churchill starts the ball rolling by distributing a short memo from Epi Bodhi, Director of Public Health dated 1/12/09:

On Friday, January 9’th, I received a complaint that the water at Wildwood School was not hot. Health Inspector, Gary Courtemanche investigated the situation and these are his findings:

On Friday 01/01/09 I went to the Wildwood School based on a complaint regarding water temperatures. The temperature for hot water in the boys bathroom was 86.7. Temperature in this case if governed by 248 CMR 10.14 Uniformed State Plumbing Code. The code states that the temperature cannot exceed 110 degrees., no minimum.

The temperature in the food service area were all within regulations based on CMR 59.0 food Code.

No follow up is necessary.
But when Acting Co-Superintendent Sprague responded to my email (only CC to his wife) requesting permission to attend tonight ‘s meeting he included a memo from Ron Bohonowicz also dated 1/12/09 on Amherst-Pelham Regional School District stationary that also referenced Gary Courtemanche’s brief report (all one paragraph):

Sorry folks this is going to start to resemble a Kurosawa’s Roshomon but pay attention:

Based on a compliant regarding water temps at the Wildwood School I conducted an inspection on Friday afternoon 01/09/09. The water temperature in the boys bathroom was 86.7 degrees, under the domestic water requirements the temperature cannot exceed 105 (no minimum). The temperature in the kitchen which falls under the food code requirements was at 110 degrees at the hand wash sink, the acceptable range is 110-130 degrees. The dish machine temperatures were 154 for wash and 182 for rinse both food under the food code.

So if you were paying attention the only difference is Ms. Bodhi edits out the fact finding of 110 degrees at the hand wash sink and condenses the dish machine data. Because my theory, as previously posted on this blog, is that if higher temperatures were not more effective at killing germs than why have the temperature at the hand wash sink higher than the bathrooms?

Acting Co-Superintendent Helen Vivian did not distribute the Bohonowicz memo until after I referenced it. Hmmm…

And when I mentioned that according to Bohonowicz or the Health Inspector the schools could shut off the hot water entirely to the restrooms--since there is “no minimum"-- I think at this point SC member Kathleen Anderson kind of shrugged and said there’s no hot water in the High School either. (As though 2 wrongs make a right).

SC Chair Andy Churchill (obviously no relation to Winston) quickly shushed her up.


Ed Cutting said...

My personal favorate part of the meeting was when the principal of Mark's Meadow school invited everyone to "spend a day, or maybe even a few hours" wandering around his school.

So, like, umm, you get trespassed for going into Fort River while you are encouraged to go into Marks' Meadow. Makes sense to me...

O'Reilly said...

the principal of Mark's Meadow school invited everyone to "spend a day, or maybe even a few hours" wandering around his school.

Definitely take him up on his offer. Make sure you see him first to say hi. Ask if you can check the hot water temps. If he says yes, do it.

Make a meeting with the HS principal. Get Sprague's permissions to enter for you meeting with HS principal. Ask the HS principal if you can take the hot water temp.

Anonymous said...

Water does not need to be hot to provide the proper tool for handwashing (see below). I usually agree with you, but in this case, seems like you might be barking up the wrong tree...

Water Temperature
Hot water that is comfortable for washing hands is not hot enough to kill bacteria. However, warm, soapy water is more effective than cold, soapy water at removing the natural oils on your hands which hold soils and bacteria.[4]

LarryK4 said...

Depends on how you define warm I guess.

And if warmer water is not more effective, then why does the state mandate 110-130 at hand washing sinks
anywhere near food?

Anonymous said...

Maybe because the state's mandates are perhaps outdated/not based on science (would you have a hard time believing that?).


(29 deg C = 84 deg F)

LarryK4 said...

So then let's save some money and shut off the hot water to ALL the bathrooms in ALL the schools (lot cheaper to get a smaller boiler to only handle the dishwashers).

And while we're at it, why not have all the folks at homes and apartments in town turn down their hot water heaters down to that (if they will even go that low)

Anonymous said...

i see this as a non-issue...until (probably never) it is proven someone got sick because of the lower temp. water. i rarely wash my hands at the conventional handwashing times, and when on the jobsite the lunch is fed to my mouth with typically filthy hands. yet i RARELY get ill!

there is a strong school of thought that supports the idea that a little exposure to pathogens is beneficial for the human body. case in point: my friend the family practitioner, who regularly saw sick patients daily, claims he never contracted any sickness while seeing patients. when he took a more administrative role at the CDC a few years back, he says his immune system was weakened and he began catching colds and whatnot on a more typical basis.

therefore, i would argue that the lower water temps. may actually be benefiting the children by keeping their immune system on point.

my doctor friend concurs.

larry, as i read some of your highly defensive comments, it reminds me of myself when i was posting about how the 250th screwed me. now i see i was acting like an ass.

i think all of the energy you clearly put into this blog could be better served with some positive activities. so what if you are 5th generation...that doesn't give you any more rights than a newcomer to town, and it exemplifies the fact that generational families in amherst have failed at helping manage the town reasonably.

Anonymous said...

lk....maybe some time away from amherst would aid in a fresh perspective on your town (notice i didn't say 'our town'), and help you understand what is petty, and what really matters. most of the things you write about.....

don't really matter that much, and pontificating on them only seems to cast a dark shadow over your personality.

just some friendly advice from an ex-amherst nitwit.

LarryK4 said...

Well Bach, I did get two weeks in China last summer, where I was appalled by the conditions of my first daughter's orphanage (but hey, they at least had hot water in the bathrooms.)

And I"ll be going to Korea next month for ten days.

Ed said...

> there is a strong school of
> thought that supports the idea
> that a little exposure to
> pathogens is beneficial for
> the human body.

I am not so sure on this one. Back when I was spending lots of time in the moldy low-income apartments in Amherst, amongst sick children and whatnot, I really didn't get "sick" any more than I do now -- but I never really was completely healthy all winter, either.

But remember that there are two major vectors fo pathogens - a fancy way of saying that bad stuff essentially gets spread two ways - airborne and human contact, usually hand to mouth or hand to food thus to mouth.

As I understand it, the advantage of soaps is not only physically removing bacteria but that they break down the cell walls thus killing them. Water temperature does have an impact on the effectiveness of soap although modern chemistry has developed detergents effective in cold water.

We are talking chemical reactions here, dried dirt & germs dissolving into the water, etc. And temperature does have an impact on the speed at which chemical reactions take place, as many will find tommorow morning when they try to start their cars.

The bureaucrat in me suspects that there is a regulation, somewhere, of exactly what "hot" hot water is. And if there isn't, then the School Board ought to make its own. Specify, as policy, exactly what the parents (and children) are going to expect and then hold the school maintenance dept to it.

Anonymous said...

Ask the HS principal if you can take the hot water temp.

Or don't -- walk into the bathroom during the next School Committee meeting...

Anonymous said...

The water cant ever be hot enough to kill the germs without harming the skin. The point is, with young children, to have it comfortable enough to wash LONG enough. If its cold they will only make it faster. Just ask any parent or young child care provider.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, this is like fiddling while Rome burns. I think 'Bach has it right.

Anonymous said...

" most of the things you write about..... don't really matter that much, and pontificating on them only seems to cast a dark shadow over your personality."

Not a particularly caring individual this. Nice not to know you.

"just some friendly advice from an ex-amherst nitwit."

Friendly? Not.

Anonymous said...


Following up on 'bach's thoughful
and helpful suggestion:

Please go to npr.org and look for the
program (aired in the past day or two)
where a blogger who has an interest in
adventure and the great outdoors is sought
to explore and blog about an island off the
northeast Australian coast.

The pay is substantial ($100,000 US plus travel
and benefits - better than many highly paid professors) and the water is guaranteed to be warm.

Perhaps you could think of that as a well-earned

All your friends, enemies and frenemies would like to see you turn your considerable talents to
more productive enterprises.

A sabbatical might be good for you,


LarryK4 said...

Could be. My wife is just now going on sabbatical, but will still work like a maniac.

Yeah but that would still be nice (especially the $100-K). Although with the Net I would still stay informed by reading the crusty Gazette and Springfield Republican and fellow blogs.

And of course as the scorpion pointed out to the frog would still, because of "my nature," make comment.

ex-Townie said...

Okay, this is as good a time as any to jump into the fray...

Speaking from the perspective of yet another ex-Amherst resident(and an ex-Townie to boot, using LK's definition), Mr. Bach has it right. There's a whole other world circling out there just beyond Amherst's borders and that world would laugh until its sides ache at some of the back & forth that goes on in this blog. Spending countless hours playing Hardy Boys w/ the hot water "issue"... wasting even more time discussing a phantom play (VM) that never actually took place...trespass orders...threats...name-calling...it all makes me feel extremely grateful that I am now living in the REAL World, where civility & respect are a given and folks aren't running around LOOKING for the next mole hill to build into a mountain.

The level of cynicism and self-importance contained in this blog is both astounding and sad. One would think that with the SS America (as well as PT Amherst) taking on as much water as it is right now - economy tanking, unemployment rising, two wars raging on, etc. - there would be better things to talk about than a faulty hot water tank and that there would be WAYS to talk that would be infinitely more productive...don't ya think? But I guess that you, as a Blogger-In-Chief, have dealines to meet and a hungry public to feed so, like other sensationalistic magazines (Star, US, and all the others that you see by the store checkstands), when you don't have enough real "news" to fill the pages, you resort to making something out of nothing and, as a last resort, just plain making things up. Keeps the readership happy.

By the way...the very same PC-ness that you are always complaining about in this blog is the very same PC-ness that allows you to even exist as a blogger/amateur sleuth in Amherst. In 99% of the towns across America you would be nothing more than the "Town Crank" whose only audience would be himself. But because of the Amherst Attitude you get the fanatics at BOTH ends of the spectrum who feel as if it's their God-given right to spew forth whatever is on their minds and have it be listened to by the folks in charge as well as the public-at-large. And these "Folks on the Fringe", such as yourself, are allowed to go on feeling self-important because nobody thinks that it's within their rights to say "ENOUGH!" It's a self-perpetuating circle of support that ends up poisoning the well of public discourse and is part of what keeps Amherst entrenched in its current situation, unable to see the forest for the trees. As you are so fond of saying, Only In Amherst...

LarryK4 said...

Wow. Glad you're an ex-townie.

Not Anne Awad or Robie Hubley I'm sure, because neither of them were overly articulate.

But thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

So, if someone agrees with you, it's fine; if they don't, you attack them. (Or, through displacement, attack an old nemesis like Hubley or Awad.)

I used to visit this blog to give me food for thought and a fresh perspective. Now it just makes me sad.

Larry, can you perhaps listen to what people are saying, and give it some consideration? I miss the watchdog you used to be, who now appears to have turned into a dog that just barks all day long, at any perceived (non)threat.

LarryK4 said...

Well if you signed your name I would know who you are (or maybe not).

Just for fun I did some investigative work on my own blog. According to my sitemeter (which is open for your perusal) of the last 100 visitors only 20 were from Amherst.

So, there's got to be gold somewhere in that there hill.

Anonymous said...

Nope, you wouldn't know me. But I live and vote in Amherst (during the day I work elsewhere, so your sitemeter might not be as informative as you believe).

LarryK4 said...

Nothing is perfect. And I have noticed a couple of folks subscribe to some ninja web service so it cloaks them entirely.

Damn! Are they ashamed of visiting little old me?

Or...maybe that same device protects them when visiting porn sites and the wife may later use the same computer.

ex-Townie said...

You are confusing number of readers with number of supporters, as in: most folks visit your blog for the very same reason they may buy that National Enquirer magazine or watch the Springer show. Unfortunately, you have morphed into an "editor" who cares more about circulation #'s than content and that is indeed sad because I agree with the Anon who said that you used to be a pretty darn good watchdog for the town and now you seem to be someone who is controlled by the beast that you created (your blog) instead of you controlling IT. You seem to feel the need to post something new/fresh every single day which does indeed keep the readers coming back (like me, though I have to categorize it under "guilty pleasure"), but at what cost? It seems like the cost in this case is that any worthy nuggets that you may come up with down the road get buried under an avalanche of worthless, self-serving drivel that has no useful purpose other than to keep you and your handful of supporters nattering back and forth. That's a shame.

One of the problems with the written word is that it's easy to "read between the lines" and see things that aren't there. I am honestly trying to be helpful with what I'm saying here because I honestly feel that there is a place for an LK blog that truly has the best interests of Amherst at its core. Right now it has the feel of something that's more about ego than anything else. I think you've lost your way with this blog and it may be time to take a step backwards and re-assess what you're trying to accomplish with it so you can return to being both relevant and effective. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

"Right now it has the feel of something that's more about ego than anything else. I think you've lost your way with this blog and it may be time to take a step backwards and re-assess what you're trying to accomplish with it so you can return to being both relevant and effective. Just a thought..."

I don't agree at all. I think Larry has been very effective.

You on the other-hand, are not as effective as you think YOU are(yeah, your agenda is pretty obvious)...

Anonymous said...

DA awaits report on fatal September school bus accident
Wednesday, January 14, 2009

AMHERST - The Northwestern District Attorney's Office is still waiting for an accident reconstruction report from the state police to make determination about a Sept. 30 school bus accident that claimed a toddler's life.

Larry are you going to cover this?

ex-Townie said...

Well, that may very well be, and I'm certainly willing to admit my irrelevance/ineffectiveness if that is indeed the case. Why don't we put it to a vote & see where sentiments lie w/ this blog's readership? All of those who feel like Larry has lost his way by tilting at his own imaginary windmills say "Quixote." All those who think Larry is dead-on correct with his various methods/pursuits/etc. and doing a great service to the town can say "Woodward" (or "Bernstein" if you prefer).

My sense is that the Woodwards will number in the single digits while the Quixote votes will be off the charts. We'll see...(remember, just one vote per customer!)

LarryK4 said...

Yeah Anon 4:13 PM, if my sources tell me there is something wrong with the official report.

And no, I do not look forward to covering this type of story.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Larry. Thanks for all that you do.

O'Reilly said...

After we poll our judgment of Larry Kelley,

1. Quixote
2. Woodward and Bernstein
3. Your own assessment

We can pass judgment on the readers and commenters of this blog, ...if they would only provide their names.

Anonymous said...

If people find Larry's reports dull or inconsequential, the logical step would be to de-bookmark his 'blog and stop reading it.

The fact that they seem intent on making him stop investigating, and preventing him from exposing things the town government would rather keep quiet, suggests that boredom is not their primary problem.

Anonymous said...

"The fact that they seem intent on making him stop investigating, and preventing him from exposing things the town government would rather keep quiet, suggests that boredom is not their primary problem."

I agree and I hope he knows that.

Anonymous said...


Ed Cutting said...

One word: "Muckraker"

The last time I taught a HS US History Course, the students truly couldn't believe that Teddy Roosevelt despised the investigative journalists of that era -- the students couldn't believe it, possibly because I had started with a few choice quotes out of Upton Sinclair's _Jungle_ to paint the picture of what was going on at the time.

When we printed the UMass Salary list in the Minuteman, I did have a question about our doing it but was later told by many that was the most valuable piece of journalism we ever did.

Society needs people who kick over logs and bring things to public attention. Back when I was inspecting apartments, I knew that absolutely everyone was happiest to see me walking away but there were issues that needed to be made issue about.

When Southpoint Bld 42 smelled of natural gas, I made an issue of it. The odds of it blowing up were likely nil (or I would have done more) but buildings shouldn't smell of gas and the troublemaker was going to keep saying something about it.

I think the same issue applies here with Larry and the hot water. If there is no policy on the state level, the board should set a policy as to what the hot water temperature in bathrooms shall be and if the public doesn't like it, there is a democratic response (run for board, town meeting article, etc).

As to the larger issue of if hot water is necessary, my gut feeling is that it should be at least 98 degrees (body heat) for two reasons -- first, making small children wash their hands under warm water is a way to abate/prevent frostbite concerns if they were outdoors with wet mittens. And second, tighten up your hand and then relax it -- which exposes more surface area? You want their hands relaxed in order to expose more surface area to the water/soap so as to clear more of it.

But then, I really am surprised that there isn't some standard somewhere....

Anonymous said...

'bach and ex-townie, and various anons who have been critical of the blogger-
You all have it right. Unfortunately, the blogger feeds off of these comments. No, there will be no soul-searching in response to some very articulate suggestions to the bloger.
The blogger wonders why people don't sign their names (as they do in many other less threatening blogs). He has threatened people more than once (e.g., "I will find you." I think were the words used). The blogger wonders why people use anonymizing services? For the same reason. The blogger is proud of the number of non-Amherst IP addresses? Want to watch me look like I'm commenting from China? It's fourth grade internet! There's a self-righteous attitude of people who sign a name and a disrespect by the blogger for people who do not. So there's an O'Reilly. Who is that, and who cares? Sign me Frank. Does that make it any more obvious than if somebody else signs anonymous?

Nothing will stop the blogger's attempt to grab attention (e.g., the multiple dead horses he's been kicking around town for many years), as long as he gets attention for it. And if he doesn't, he can send out a "press release."

Me... I can't wait until the kids are old enough to read all of this.
"Oh Daddy, you were the only one who cared enough to tilt at all those nasty windmills!"
Only one action will decrease the power that comes from seeing another ip address on his sitemeter.
So long, farewell.

LarryK4 said...

Don't let the cyberdoor pinch your ass on the way out there "Frank."

Anonymous said...

I see there was a lot more important stuff talked about at the SC meeting than hot water; closing Marks Meadow to try to save money:
Larry why not investigate the pros and cons of that? Isn't that a lot more important than hot water?

Anonymous said...

This issue is so overblown. I feel bad for the hard working Amherst Town Officials that have to put up with this harassment. It would be one thing if this issue, or any issue you bring up, was done so in a respectful manner, but you refuse to do so.

Its funny that you complain about cleanliness, etc when your own health club is by far the dirtiest health club I have ever been to.

LarryK4 said...

Actually the issue is hot water.

And I have a very efficient gas heating system that provides lots of it.

I'm a private business and I rely on folks being satisfied with my services. If they are not--for whatever reason--they go elsewhere. Nitwits like you I don’t miss in the least.

Taxpayers in town, on the other hand, have no choice, as town government is a monopoly. Well, except now with Charter schools and education. And the hot water at my daughter’s Chinese Charter School is sufficient.

Anonymous said...

Unbookmarking. Yes, yes, I know... get out and stay out, right?

Anonymous 9:06/9:20/11:31/1:15/1:25