March 8, 2014 a date which will live in ... memory
If you asked the average citizen in Amherst (or nationwide for that matter) how this past spring party season compared to previous years in our little "college town," safe bet most people would respond that this one was the worst.
Of course that attitude would be indelibly due to the March 8 Blarney Blowout, where thousands of students went on a rampage resulting in 58 arrests, thousand of tax dollars spent on first responder overtime and vandalism repairs, and a $160,000 study commissioned by UMass Amherst.
My gut feeling -- as someone with his boots firmly on the ground these past few years -- is this past spring was, overall, a lot quieter than last year. Turns out I was correct.
According to APD Captain Jennifer Gundersen noise related calls for service decreased almost 30% this year versus last year, and arrests and/or $300 tickets issued for noise were down a whopping 40%.
Yes "nuisance house" arrests and/or tickets were about the same -- but that only reinforces the notion that it's a hard core tiny minority of students who cause the major problems and give all students a bad name.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Hampshire District Court on Wednesday the Blarney Blowout arrests continue to meander their way through the system:
Richard Leahy, age 20
Edward Estey and Richard Leahy both took plea deals offered by the prosecution. Six months probation, $200 "restitution fee" to the Amherst Police Department (although the money will go into the town's General Fund) and a letter of apology to APD of no less than 150 words.
The public defender tried to talk Judge Mary Hurley out of the six months probation for Richard Leahy because he lives in New Jersey.
The Judge shook her head side-to-side saying rather sternly, "I saw video of the Blarney Blowout. These kids puts their lives, the lives of police officers and others in jeopardy disrupting the community. I think six months probation is more than a fair disposition."
The lawyer quickly agreed.
Edward Estey, age 23