Around Amherst: Rotary Club grants $25K to Amherst Media

Staff Writer
Thursday, August 10, 2017

AMHERST — Amherst Media’s vision to build a new headquarters on Main Street is a step closer thanks to a gift from the Rotary Club of Amherst.

The Rotary at its Aug. 3 meeting presented a $25,000 check, raised from the Annual Rotary Auction in 2016, that will serve as a matching grant to help the nonprofit pay the mortgage on the Main Street land.

Ed Severance, chairman of Rotary’s auction committee, said in an email that Amherst Media, where the auction is held and broadcast, has been a partner in raising money for the past 10 years to support community projects such as a new playground at Crocker Farms School and a new kitchen for the Amherst Survival Center.

“They have always been there to support our efforts and we felt we needed to return the favor now that they are trying to secure a new home,” Severance said.

Severance said Rotary is encouraging others to lend their support to Amherst Media’s efforts to secure a new facility which will carry its community building services into the future.

Amherst Media Executive Director Jim Lescault was at the meeting to receive the matching grant.

Both the Rotary check and Amherst Media matching funds were made payable to Florence Savings Bank to bring the amount owed for the property down from the $340,000 borrowed in 2014 to $148,000. Amherst Media intents to use the collateral on the land to obtain a building loan to contract for a new building.

Plastic bags

Seven months into the ban on single-use plastic bags, town officials are not expecting to bring any tweaks to the current bylaw to fall Town Meeting.

Though there was some talk about adjusting the bylaw when it went into effect Jan. 2, and two businesses were issued deferments from the rule, Health Director Julie Federman said the are no plans to ask Town Meeting to change the rules.

Economic Development Director Geoff Kravitz said business owners had a lot of questions, but putting on forums for merchants and providing more details information have reduced issues of noncompliance.

“Businesses have adjusted if they needed to and understand our goals of reducing plastic bag waste,” Kravitz said.

Old Chapel recognized

The historic Old Chapel at the University of Massachusetts has earned an award for its recent renovation.

The Victorian Society in America, based in Philadelphia, recognized the university’s “comprehensive exterior restoration and adaptive use of the interior” following a two-year, $21 million renovation of the 1885 Richardsonian Romanesque building.

Added to the National Register of Historic Places two years ago, the work included improved structural integrity, an accessible entrance and elevator, and a new basement kitchen.

The award will be presented in New York City on Oct. 7.

Firefighters head to Canada

A Pelham resident is among 16 state wildland firefighters who will be assisting the British Columbia Canadian forces with a series of wildland fire outbreaks.

Benjamin Mazzei is being mobilized by the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Bureau of Forestry and Fire Control and Department of Fish and Game. The 16 firefighters from Massachusetts, including Conway and Orange residents, will join four from New Hampshire.

Across British Columbia there are 110 active wildland fires burning over one million acres of land and forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes.

Because of the rural terrain and the location of the fires, crews will sleep in tents or in remote fire camps.

Community breakfast

The annual community breakfast that brings together the UMass campus, local business community and town and state officials will be held at the Student Union Ballroom on the UMass campus Aug. 29 at 7:30 a.m.

The 51st annual event marks the beginning of the new school year and is used as a way to outlines goals for continued partnerships between the entities. 


MONDAY: Finance Committee, 10 a.m., and Conservation Commission, 7 p.m., both at First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Dog Park Task Force, 7 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

WEDNESDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Room 101, Bangs Community Center; Planning Board, 7 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.