The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on September 17, 2001 · 21
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 21

Boston, Massachusetts
Issue Date:
Monday, September 17, 2001
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Ways of coping with the pain. LivingArts. B7 CityRegion News Bl-5, 12 Lottery B2 New England News Briefs B2 The Boston Globe Monday, September 1 7, 2 00 1 II I 1 Vs. V f W if A f It 1 n Student Newsline B6 VU liy (Sis LAivsgJ LIvhU LI Adrian Walker Pilot's land of opportunity To his colleagues at American Airlines, John Ogonowski was a veteran pilot. To his Dracut neighbors, he was a lifelong farmer and ardent conservationist. And to several dozen Cambodian immigrants, he was both landlord and mentor, his property a critical link to the agrarian lifestyle they had left behind in Southeast Asia. For all those people, the pilot of doomed AA Flight 1 1 will be memorialized in a service today in Dracut as a big-hearted man devoted to helping displaced people settle in America. "He was around almost every day and the farmers and I became very close to John," said Sophyroth Sun, who acted as a liaison between the Cambodian farmers and their US sponsors. "We loved John because he was so kind, so generous to the farmers. He's kind and generous to everyone, farmers in particular." Ogonowski and other local farmers were approached three years ago by federal and state officials seeking to address a vexing problem. While farming is plentiful in the Merrimack Valley, the produce wasn't meeting the needs of a fast-growing Cambodian community. Local food pantries were having trouble. The problem was simple to identify, though not so simple to fix: The food that was being grown and distributed around Lowell wasn't what the new Asian residents were used to. They needed to find a way to grow Asian food. The solution was the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, a program funded by the federal government along with private donors. Cambodians would farm in Massachusetts. "Most of them have full-time jobs in the factories, but farming is their passion and their heritage. That's why they decided to farm again in the United States," Sun said. Ogonowski agreed to lease part of his farm in Dracut to Cambodian farmers, but his involvement only began there. The pilot was anything but an absentee landlord. He plowed, harrowed, and fertilized the land. He and some friends put up a greenhouse. He dug a pond and set up an irrigation system. He shared his knowledge and, with his wife, Peggy, hosted meetings of the project's steering committee in his home. Technically a landlord, he seldom collected rent. "He was a critical person when we really didn't have anyone else on-site to answer questons for the growers," said Hugh Joseph, a Tufts University administrator who was one of the program's coordinators. Ogonowski "was struggling because he didn't speak the language and most of them didn't speak English," Joseph recalled. "For the first few years there was trouble communicating." Yet they did manage to find ways to work together, and the results were impressive. The list of crops was far from what usually grows here. The fields sprouted pigweed and chili peppers, Hmong herbs and Asian okra, lemon-grass and mustard greens. Over three harvests, the project grew into its own. In addition to his work with immigrant farmers, Ogonowski was heavily involved with the Dracut Land Trust, a group that tries to protect the town's farmland from development. After the trust agreed to purchase 50 acres earlier this year, he made that land available to about a dozen Cambodian farmers. "He was a very powerful but very subtle, strong-minded person," Joseph said. "He was very gentle. I never saw him raise his voice. His willingness to farm and his fight to save land in Dracut he was very tenacious about that." Sun, the community liaison, grew up in Wisconsin after his mother fled the Khmer Rouge in 1978. He moved to Lowell to reunite with family members and to enroll in the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. For him and the farmers, the tragedy of last Tuesday's attack is as personal as it is for any other American. "It's very sad for all of us and devastating what happened to our country and John in particular," he said. "He was like part of your family." Adrian Walker can be reached by e-mail at Illl I ( 1 1 1 ( 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ( 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 i t 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 HI IIIIIIIIIIIMIIIIIIIIIIIIII Mill Mil I 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ) GLOBE PHOTOAMY NEWMAN Ashwin Patel, 30, owner of Olde Village Convenience in Somerset, says his store was firebombed Wednesday after a group of men stopped by to ask what country he was from. He is a US citizen. Tensions high Communities struggle to control terror backlash By Ellen Barry GLOBE STAFF OMERSET There is an angry rumor going around Somerset that a foreign-born gas station owner in Fall River denied service to a motorist flying an American flag. Plymouth pizza shop owner blames ethnic rage for fire. B3. Across the bridge in Fall River, Pakistani gas station workers are hearing that an Indian man was set upon and beaten by a gang of Somerset youths. Neither rumor is true, but clarity about facts was lost along with ordinary social balance on Tuesday morning, when hijackers slammed jets into the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Far from the wreckage of lower Manhattan, these working-class communities on the Taunton River have sprouted so many flags on every antenna and oveipass and window sill that citizens say their spirits are rising. People pass each other honking their belief in America. But it has also brought unnerving incidents in the dark of night: On Wednesday, a Molotov cocktail flamed on the roof of a Somerset convenience store owned by a family from India; one of the teenaged suspects SOMERSET, Page B3 loston left with vacant feeling Tourism grounded during peak season By Stephanie Ebbert GLOBE STAFF Six large conventions planned for this week and last have been canceled and hundreds of hotel reservations scrapped, fanning fears that the terrorist attacks and disruption in air travel will dig into the area's crucial tourism industry. Although three conventions featuring about 11,000 attendees hope to reschedule, tourism officials fear the impact of the tragedies will linger as the region begins its important foliage season. In Boston, the star of a tourism industry that generates $13.5 billion annually, activity ground to a halt last week. Hotel rooms were empty, meetings were canceled, and leaf peepers stayed home. Yesterday, some bookings for the coming week were uncertain. "Business fell off immediately because people weren't able to get here with the airport being closed," said Jon Crellin, manager of the Fairmont Copley. "We lost several hundred room nights last week and this week, primarily groups, and a couple hundred transient or independent business travelers as well." For years, Boston tourism has been buffeted by the cheery face it wore on television from Sam Malone to Ally McBeal. Last week, it was intertwined with terror as two flights from Logan Airport were hijacked and police stormed the Westin Copley hotel for evidence and accomplices. Dont think the world didnt notice. "There's no question in my mind that the fact that two of the airlines originated in Boston is a black mark we have to address," said Jim Howell, former chief economist at Bank of Boston and an economic consultant on tourism. That is likely to affect people's faith in "traveling here and traveling away from Boston for that matter, because of presumed security breaches at Logan." The fact Boston was not hit by terrorists may not matter to skittish minds. "We got a call from my mother-in-law last night worrying about whether the assisted living home in Holland, Mich., was going to be a target of attack," Howell said. "That's absurd, but I think that shows the level of uncertainty that exists right now." Howell expects the impact on travel to be severe, comparing it with the fallout of the Gulf War and the 1990-91 recession. " TOURISM, Page B5 1 1 1 1 ti 1 1 1 1 itii mi i linn nun 1 1 it 1 1 ii 1 1 1 1 1 in I n ii i ii nnti iiidhi n 1 1 1 1 1 1 mill inn 1 1 in in mil h 1 1 1 1 1 mi 1 11 11 m 1 1 n 1 1 1 ii i 1 1 m n inn imti in i n iimi i n 1 1 11 1 1 1 h 1 1 n 1 1 1 1 11 1 1 1 1 1 mhi hi in Kennedy elects not to keep home Last spring, Matthew Maxwell Kennedy said he bought a home on West Roxbury's Stratford Street because he liked its family feeling, with "tons of strollers and Big Wheels." Even when he abandoned his bid for the area's congressional seat in June, he declared he would still move there. But Kennedy confirmed Friday what many neighbors had suspected: he will sell the house and stay in Cambridge. Kennedy, who spent the summer in Hyannis Port, told the Globe, "I bought it because I was considering running for Congress and I thought I should live in the district that I was going to represent And since I decided not to run there . . ." Kennedy's purchase of the $552,000 five-bedroom Colonial enhanced the street's reputation as an avenue of political ambitions. City Councilor Peggy Davis-Mullen, who is challenging Mayor Thomas M. Menino, lives on the street, as does John Taylor, an unsuccessful candidate for the 9th Congressional District, and City Council candidate Mike Rush. Kennedy, 36, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, has lived in Cambridge with his wife and three children for several years. During the past decade, he has also lived in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The house on Stratford Street will probably be easy to sell. The street is one of the area's most desirable, and the property includes attractive interior detail and an in-ground pool. YVONNE ABRAHAM I. J 5 I .' ! .1 r" ... " p , I .. . . J GLOBE STAFF PHOTODAVID KAMERMAN Matthew Maxwell Kennedy's $552,000 house on Stratford Street in West Roxbury. 'I bought it because I was considering runningfor Congress and I thought I should live in the district that I was going to represent. And since I decided not to run there Maxwell Kennedy State budget not expected until October By Rick Klein GLOBE STAFF The state budget, already more than 11 weeks late, will not be completed until at least next month, House and Senate leaders say. Because state tax receipts fell in both July and August, some top lawmakers want to see the September revenue collections to better gauge the state's economic condition. "The numbers are troubling from July and August, and September is a big month," said state Senator Mark C. Montigny, the Senate's chief budget-writer. "If s hard to make a trend out of a month or two." Tax receipts declined $38 million from last year in July, and $35 million in August, only the second such two-month drop in Massachusetts since 1992. If September's receipts fall too, legislators may slash spending in the budget, which is for fiscal year 2002 BUDGET, Page B12

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