Around Amherst: No issues in health insurance switchover, Bockelman says

Staff Writer
Thursday, July 05, 2018

AMHERST — Health insurance for town employees and retirees successfully transitioned from the longtime self-insured trust when the new fiscal year began July 1.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday that new insurance cards were issued and there didn’t seem to be any issues in the switchover.

The changes affect those who are employed by Amherst, Pelham and the Amherst-Pelham Regional School District, and their spouses and dependents The adjustments are designed to control the cost of health insurance and bring the town more in line with communities that are part of the Group Insurance Commission, as well as the insurance plans offered by private employers.

“A lot of credit to the people who really managed through the process on the town and school side for making that happen,” Bockelman told the Select Board at a recent meeting. “It’s really an important changeover.”

As of July 1, the town transitioned from a self-insured product to a fully insured product, Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association; consolidated the entire risk pool to Blue Cross Blue Shield; and made plan design changes, including introducing deductibles, which will be $300 for individuals and $900 for families.

Evaluation for town manager

Residents are being given an opportunity to offer comments on Bockelman’s performance.

The Select Board, which is handling the annual evaluation, is seeking input from the public through July 13 at 4 p.m. Town Meeting members and members of boards and committees are also welcome to provide reviews.

All submissions will be read by the Select Board members and Bockelman, but as personnel documents will not be released publicly.

Submissions may be e-mailed to selectboard@amherstma.gov, dropped off at Town Hall or sent to Amherst Select Board, 4 Boltwood Ave., Amherst, 01002.

New bus shelter

A float in Sunderland’s 300th anniversary parade last month is now serving as a shelter for a bus stop on Cowls Road.

W.D. Cowls President Cinda Jones said the float, made by Peter Jessop, founder of Integrity Development & Construcion, now sits on the front lawn of a rental home behind the PVTA stop.

“As long as folks are respectful of it we will welcome public use as a shelter from weather while folks wait for the bus,” Jones said.

The float reflects the heritage of Walter Dickinson Cowls, who started the Amherst-Sunderland street railway in the late 1800s and housed the trolleys in an onion barn for a decade.

Cuppa Joe

Bockelman will be at Kelly’s Restaurant, 314 College St., July 13 from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. for his periodic Cuppa Joe with Paul events.

He will be joined by Assessor David Burgess. Anyone can drop in to ask questions about town matters and offer both praise and complaints.

Pelham Players perform

Children ranging in age from 7 to 16 will be performing “The Pirates of Penzance” Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Pelham Elementary School.

Known as the Pelham Players, the 16 members of the cast have been rehearsing under the guidance of State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose.

No admission is charged for the event.

Holocaust Studies head named at UMass

Alon Confino is the new Pen Tishkach chairman of Holocaust Studies at the University of Massachusetts following a June 20 vote by the Board of Trustees.

Confino, appointed professor of history and Jewish studies and, joined the UMass faculty last year. He is the author of “A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide,” which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award in 2014.

A native of Jerusalem, Confino is an expert on modern German and European history, Holocaust and genocide, Zionism, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and previously held concurrent appointments as a professor of history at Ben Gurion University in Israel and the University of Virginia.


MONDAY: Gardens Advisory Committee, 12:30 p.m., Goodwin Room, Jones Library; Town Meeting Advisory Committee, 12:30 p.m., Glass Room, Bangs Community Center; Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

TUESDAY: Bylaw Review Committee, 9:30 a.m., First Floor Meeting Room, Town Hall; Public Shade Tree Committee, 5:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.