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93-year-old Amherst woman continues to await arrival of bus stop bench

Thanksgiving came and went and it is likely Christmas will pass, too, without 93-year-old Eleanor Hassell getting her long-sought bench at the bus stop near her Chestnut Court home.

Chances are, however, the new year could start out right for Hassell.

State Rep. Ellen Story, who has been advocating on Hassell’s behalf, said Tuesday her best guess is that the bench could be there within the next 10 days, a belated but welcome Christmas gift.

“It will be a fabulous present for her,” Story said. “In fact, it’s the only present she wants.”

Hassell’s frustration over fruitless requests for a bench was aired at a Council on Aging meeting last month where Story caught wind of it. Hassell said she had talked to “dozens of people” about her need for a seat. She said it is hard for her to stand to wait for the bus, a key source of transportation for her.

Town Manager John Musante, who serves as chairman of the PVTA Advisory Committee, said then, and again this week, that plans are under way to get the bench and a shelter in place at the corner of East Pleasant and Chestnut streets. The first step is the installation of a concrete pad, which DPW Superintendent Guilford Mooring will have his employees pour as soon as they can, he said.

“Guilford is working out the day-to-day logistics to make that happen,” Musante said.

Story said progress has been complicated by Verizon, which has wanted to locate a utility pole nearby, raising concern that the concrete pad and bench might have to be moved soon after they go in.

“I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a hopeless cause,” Hassell said Tuesday. “All I’m asking for is a simple bench. They don’t even have to put a canopy over it.”

Hassell said she believes some people consider her plight a joke. A few days ago, someone placed a chair at the bus stop, she said. “It’s just an old plastic chair covered in ice.”

She said she relies on the bus and her knees hurt when she stands for prolonged periods of time.

“I can’t get out. I would like to go to the Senior Center and the bank and to CVS. I’m stuck here because I’m limited in my walking,” Hassell said.

Story said she is confident that the bench will arrive, which will be a good way for Hassell to ring in the new year.

“Let’s hope she can start 2013 with a new bench and shelter over her head,” Story said.

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