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Around Amherst: Child care reimbursement offered for Town Meeting members

Town Meeting members who need child or elder care while attending sessions are being offered some reimbursement of the costs.

With fall Town Meeting in progress, the Town Meeting Coordinating Committee is reminding members and those interested in seeking seats next spring, that the costs of dependent care, for children, elderly and disabled family members, can be absorbed by the town.

All members are eligible to apply for up to $30 per session by providing receipts from their care providers to the town manager’s office.

TMCC member Margaret “Peggy” Roberts said this financial assistance began with an effort five years ago to have an area at the middle school set aside for children, while their parents were in the auditorium. But this proved impractical because most sessions end after 10 p.m., well after the bedtimes for many children.

Instead, an alternative was created in which the annual municipal budget included money for TMCC activities. This year the $300 in the account covers expenses for pre-Town Meeting bus tours, other TMCC events and the childcare reimbursements.

Town Manager John Musante said he has agreed to overspend this account, up to $1,000, if necessary.

Musante said he will use information this fall to determine whether to adjust the amount appropriated for TMCC when he releases his budget proposal for fiscal year 2014 on Jan. 16.

ARHS 2002 generosity

A decade after graduating from Amherst Regional High School, members of a class that will be celebrating its reunion Thanksgiving weekend are stepping up to assist a long-running educational program.

The 2002 class plans to make a donation to the Amherst A Better Chance program, which since 1968 has brought disadvantaged teens from poor school districts to live and study in Amherst.

Last month, United Way of Hampshire County announced that the ABC House would no longer be a partner agency, meaning that it would no longer provide a $13,000 grant to the program. However, United Way is continuing to accept direct “donor-designated” funds on behalf of the program.

Lauren Burke, an attorney and member of the reunion organizing committee for the class of 2002, said helping the program is important to her because she is committed to working for social justice in her career.

“I suggested the idea to our reunion committee and I could not be more thrilled that the class of 2002 has decided to honor our community in this way,” Burke said.

On its Facebook page, the Amherst ABC program issued a statement from its president, John Sieracki:

“I’m always amazed to hear about how the ABC scholars have inspired someone else in the community,” Sieracki said. “Yet as I’ve gotten to know them, it doesn’t surprise me at all.”

Free meals

With the Amherst Survival Center scheduled to move into its new building on Sunderland Road the first week of December, no meals will be served at its current site in North Amherst the last three days in November.

Instead, Not Bread Alone, the soup kitchen based at the First Congregational Church on Main Street, will be open both Nov. 29 and 30, days it would typically not, as a way to fill the gap.

Laura Reichsman, who oversees the meal site on behalf of the Center for Human Development, said the meals will take place at 4 p.m. both days.

Not Bread Alone returns to its regular Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday meal schedule on Dec. 1.

Parking ban

The town’s winter parking ban, which prohibits people from leaving vehicles on streets from 2 to 6 a.m., goes into effect Dec. 1.

First-time offenders are given warning tickets, while the second time leads to a $25 parking ticket. Third and subsequent offenses include both a ticket and a tow.

If there is a snowstorm, vehicles can be towed immediately.

For those who need to keep their vehicles downtown overnight, Police Capt. Christopher Pronovost suggests parking in the Boltwood parking garage, the Pray Street parking lot or the municipal lot behind the CVS Pharmacy on North Pleasant Street.

Meetings

Monday: Select Board, 6:15 p.m., band room, middle school; Town Meeting, 7 p.m., auditorium, middle school.

Tuesday: Public Tranpsortation and Bicycle Committee, 4 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Budget Subcommittee of the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee, 5:30 p.m., superintendent’s conference room, middle school.

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