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Town takes cool step with downtown tent during heavy heat



Staff Writer
Friday, July 24, 2020

AMHERST — With municipal buildings like the Bangs Community Center and Jones Library continuing to be closed to the public, Amherst has established a new place for people, mostly homeless individuals, to stay cool during the recent heat and humidity.

As the town’s Department of Public Works put up a large tent in a portion of the Pray Street parking lot, Craig’s Doors, the agency that runs the overnight homeless shelter Craig’s Place, was contacted by town officials and agreed to staff the site.

Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the tent this week provided shade and also featured Adirondack chairs and misting fans, providing by firefighters, and portable bathrooms.

Craig’s Doors Executive Director Kevin Noonan said he was happy to work with the town and to let people know about the site through the Amherst Survival Center.

“We appreciate the town recognizing the need for it,” Noonan said.

Noonan said food, some of which is served at the weekly breakfast at the Unitarian Meetinghouse, has been available, along with leftover meals provided by the Amherst Survival Center through a grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. There has also been plenty of cold water.

The temporary cooling center will be set up at times when a state of emergency is declared by Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson.

Bart’s closes

Bart’s Ice Cream, a staple of the Amherst dining scene for most of the past 40 years, is closing its 103 North Pleasant St. location.

“We want to thank all of our lovely customers for your years of support and hope that you’ll share some memories you have of the shop with us to lighten spirits,” reads a message posted this week on Bart’s Facebook page.

The announcement also came with a message about Bart’s will be opening a new, unspecified retail location in Greenfield in the near future.

Meantime, while many downtown restaurants and others with large parking areas have been relying on outdoor dining, Kelly’s Restaurant on College Street recently reopened after being closed for three months, with space for people choosing to dine in or take out, though only a breakfast menu is currently available. To sustain some of the business during the spring, Kelly’s sold T-shirts with its name and phrase “where friends come to meet and eat.”

Cuppa Joe

Town Manager Paul Bockelman will have a virtual Cuppa Joe Friday at 8 a.m. with a focus on the business community.

Both Claudia Pazmany, executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, and Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, will participate.

Council on Aging changes

Amherst’s Council on Aging has a new chairperson following a reorganization vote earlier this month.

Pat Rector will be the new chairperson, succeeding Rosemary Kofler, who decided to step down, but remains part of the committee.

“I have no doubts that Pat will be an excellent leader and I look forward to continuing our work together in advocating for older adults,” Kofler said in an email.

Timothy Neale is the vice chairman, while Sue Dierks is the secretary.

New news program

Amherst Media is launching a 15-minute program called the Amherst Weekly Report that will feature local and regional news.

The program, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday on Channel 12, is being put together by interns and volunteers. Both local college students and community members will be gathering the news.

Amherst Media Director of Programming Faith Gregory said in a statement that the program will feature “citizen journalism.”

“This is an exciting opportunity to get the community more involved in news that affects them directly, and to share that news in an accessible format,” Gregory said.

The Amherst Weekly Report will be rebroadcast Mondays at 6 p.m. and be available on YouTube.