Eric and Aaron in the Grafton News, May 7, 2014.
The Grafton News, a fixture in the Grafton community for the last 53 years, recently transitioned to new ownership.
Founder Charles N. Bolack has sold his interest in the weekly newspaper and its website to editor and publisher Donald E. Clark, graphic designer Wendy L. Watkins and website developer Cynthia M. Bissell, all residents of Grafton.
Bolack will continue to write “Up and Down the Highways,” the weekly column he has penned since 1958 when the newspaper was founded. He will also continue to be listed as “publisher emeritus” in the newspaper’s masthead.
Clark was named editor of the Grafton News in 2003 and publisher in January 2011. He started with the newspaper in 2002. He has been involved in journalism, newspapers, publishing, and graphic design for many years. Clark holds an associate’s degree from Worcester Junior College and a bachelor of arts in English from Worcester State College (now University).
Watkins has been the newspaper’s graphic designer for the past four years. Born in Montreal, she has a degree in commercial art from Dawson College. She was formerly an art director for Phillips-Magnavox in Canada
Bissell started www.thegraftonnews.com, the online version of the Grafton News, in 2009. A registered nurse, she began creating web sites professionally in 1998 and has received several awards and citations for her work on the development of specialized medical and disability-related Internet resources.
“Charlie started the Grafton News as a way to help foster the civic, cultural and economic life of the area, just as it says on our masthead,” said Clark. “Although we may explore new ways to do it, there’s no reason we should change that philosophy.”
Through the cooperation and generous donations of ThermoSpas, Priority Electric and the Starlight Children’s Foundation of New England, Eric — an 8 year-old second grader from Grafton, MA who suffers from cerebral palsy (CP) — had his wish granted just in time for summer.
The Starlight Children’s Foundation of New England is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for seriously ill children and their families. The Foundation grants wishes to children with chronic health problems and wanted to offer Eric, who has suffered from CP since he was born prematurely, the chance to make his dream come true.
When Starlight approached Eric and his family about granting his once-in-a- lifetime wish, Eric had a big decision to make. A huge Disney fan, Eric first mentioned that he would love the chance to hang out watching movies at the Disney Store for hours. Another wish idea he tossed around was to ride in an elevator in a tall building for a day. Yet, much to his parent’s relief, Eric — who is confined to a wheelchair – decided he really wanted the freedom and relaxation he got from a hotel hot tub, but in his own backyard.
After being contacted by the Starlight Children’s Foundation of New England about this bright, fun kid, ThermoSpas quickly decided to donate and install an Avalon Spa, which is big enough to fit the whole family, yet still fit in their backyard. It comes with 22 jets for therapy and an ice bucket and shelf for drinks. Priority Electric stepped in and donated the electrical hookup.
Eric calls his hot tub, appropriately enough, a “Cinderella Pool.” The name comes from his great fondness for the “stepsister-turned-princess.” Yet, the selection also& shows the uncanny similarity between Eric and the fairy tale character who, through& the kind granting of a wish, is able to see her dreams come true and her life change for the better.
Not only does a hot tub provide Eric with a chance to move and play freely on his own, but it also offers proven therapy. Eric’s doctor, Christopher Stille, MD of UMASS Memorial Health Care, says the benefits of hydrotherapy (water therapy) include Muscle relaxation, which can reduce muscle spasms in children with spastic CP, Decreased gravity, which increases breath control, Improved trunk control, balance and coordination, Increased mobility and range of motion for children who are wheelchair-bound, Increased strength and endurance.
Eric lives with his parents, Cynthia and Richard, his twin brother Aaron, and his adopted brother Anthony. Aaron, like Eric, was born prematurely and has had some severe health problems including a now-removed tracheostomy. Eric’s brother Anthony also has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair.