Around Amherst: Youth to be honored Saturday

Staff Writer
Thursday, June 15, 2017

AMHERST — Several Amherst-area youth are being honored for their compassion toward others with Human Rights Heroes awards at a ceremony on Saturday.

For the 13th consecutive year, the Amherst Human Rights Commission is recognizing those nominated for demonstrating an ability to love and care for their families, schools and community through acts of kindness, unselfishness, social courage or community service.

The luncheon runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Mill River Recreation Area, with attendees bringing a potluck dish to share.

Those being celebrated include 11 individuals and two groups, as well as a special recognition for an adults group.

“The recipients this year represent the various ways we support each other in our community, from recognition of our common rights to the celebration of our differences,” Commission Chairman Matthew Charity said in a statement.

Charity added that the recipients have shown deep commitment to making society more equitable, more sustainable and more loving

The honoress are Crocker Farm third grader Rubianny Fernandez Valerio, Wildwood fifth grader Anika Alschuler, Fort River sixth grader Kevin Fontanez, Amherst Regional Middle School seventh graders Anja Eriksen, Naomi Zeidenberg, and Sylvie Hope, middle school eighth grader Elias Smith, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts 10th grader Viseth Loeung Rinehart and Nicholas Rivera, Lauren Phillips Jackson, Isaiah Meade and Regina Alkiewicz, all recent Amherst Regional High School graduates.

Among their accomplishments were using art and activism to promote social and racial justice, volunteering for a U.N. Refugee Agency fundraiser, teaching fellow students about transgender, gender-fluid and non-binary people and translating 911 emergency calls for Spanish-speaking relatives.

The group awards are going to the Amherst Regional Middle School LGBT and Friends Café and the Amherst Regional High School Refugees in Distress Club.

The special recognition award honors Amnesty International Group 128, based in Amherst, the Jones Library, middle school faculty and administration and University of Massachusetts teaching interns who have worked with classes to create an annual exhibit for Human Rights Day.

New captain for Fire Department

An Amherst native who has worked for the Amherst Fire Department for 16 years has been promoted to captain.

Christopher Bascomb was recently sworn into the post in front of family, friends, on- and off-duty personnel and retirees.

Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson said Bascomb, with the department since 2001, will supervise a company of personnel in all aspects of fire, rescue and EMS response. Bascomb will also be the department’s EMS quality assurance coordinator, EMS supply officer and EMS training officer.

Bascomb fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Captain Larry Tebo.

Teacher honored

Elliott Kelly, a seventh grade math and science teacher, is receiving the Amherst Regional Middle School Educator Award for 2016-17.

Given by the Amherst Regional Middle School Parent Guardian Organization, the award is based on student support, collaboration with colleagues, and contributions to the middle school community.

Kelly was cited for his cheerfulness with students and his willingness to provide extra help, working with other science teachers to create the “Sound Bytes Cafe” to bring in guest speakers to talk about relevant topics in science during lunch.

In addition, he works well with his colleagues and took on additional teaching in a year administration was seeking who could handle two subjects.

Downtown improvements

Flowers and plantings are again sprucing up downtown Amherst as a contribution from the Amherst Business Improvement District.

Executive Director Sarah la Cour said baskets and pots have been put out, including at the entrance to the Amity Street parking lot near the monument that pays tribute to the Amherst Academy, where Emily Dickinson went to school.

This year, the BID is focusing on adding color to the alleyway to the Boltwood parking garage between Starbucks and Douglass Funeral Home. La Cour said this is an area that is heavily used but often suffers from neglect.

The BID intends to add flowers to the parking garage, as well, after a handful of trees and numerous vines were removed by the Department of Public Works. Tree Warden Alan Snow said some of the trees were planted when the garage opened in the early 2000s and have been in poor shape in recent years.


MONDAY: Amherst Local Historic District Commission, 3 p.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Transportation Advisory Committee Subcommittee, 4:15 p.m., conference room, Department of Public Works.

TUESDAY: Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

WEDNESDAY: Public Art Commission, noon, First First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Planning Board, 7:05 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Council on Aging, 10 a.m., Room 101, Bangs Community Center.