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Around Amherst: Anxious seniors have to wait a bit longer for vaccine



Staff Writer
Monday, January 25, 2021

AMHERST — Many senior citizens may be eager to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but access to vaccines for those who live on their own, rather than in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, will likely not come until the state enters the next phase of vaccine administration.

As the town held a vaccine clinic for first responders throughout the region at the Bangs Community Center last week, more people began reaching out to town officials about when their opportunity would come.

Brianna Sunryd, communications manager for the town, said Amherst is aligned with the state’s Department of Public Health vaccine rollout plan, meaning those 65 and older will have to wait a bit longer.

“Seniors will be eligible in Phase Two,” Sunryd said.

Sunryd said the town is exploring various ways to get the message out to people when it’s their turn to get the vaccine.

One means is by regularly updating the town’s website, where information about COVID-19 is available at amherstcovid19.org/.

Another is through an online conversation this week with Health Director Emma Dragon and Senior Center Director Mary Beth Ogulewicz.

Until elders are vaccinated, they are reminded to take all safety precautions including wearing masks or face coverings when in public, washing hands frequently and continuing to remain 6 feet apart from others, and taking advantage of the ongoing free asymptomatic testing at the Mullins Center.

Virtual office hours

Town Manager Paul Bockelman will soon be offering once monthly office hours.

Bockelman said the office hours, beginning Jan. 29, will be a chance for residents and others who want to schedule one-on-one conversations, rather than participate in the community chats held most Thursdays and the periodic Cuppa Joe with Paul events.

Appointments can be made by sending email to townmanager@amherstma.gov.

Fire captain retires

Capt. David Miner, who spent nearly 38 years as a member of the Amherst Fire Department, recently celebrated his retirement.

“He could have retired seven years ago but he really loved the job,” said Fire Chief Tim Nelson.

Miner’s decades of experience will be a challenge to replace, Nelson added.

A captain since 2002, Miner was honored in 2003 as Elks Hampshire County Firefighter of the Year for discovering a fire at a duplex home in Amherst on his way into work, getting a sleeping resident out from the dwelling and calling for emergency assistance.

Housing Authority member

Kevin Collins, a resident at Ann Whalen Apartments, was recently elected as the tenant representative to the board of commissioners overseeing the Amherst Housing Authority.

The panel also features three members elected townwide.

Collins said he first got interested in serving when his mother, Pat Tompkins, moved to to the same building after suffering a heart attack. While living there, and becoming president of its tenants association, she wrote a grant for a wellness program.

In addition to continuing that program, Collins said he hopes his service will include bringing back onsite health services and “healthy heart” cooking classes.

Meetings

MONDAY: Public Art Commission, noon, and Town Council, 6:30 p.m., both virtual meetings via Zoom.

WEDNESDAY: Amherst Cultural Council, 4:30 p.m., and Historical Commission, 6:30 p.m., both virtual meetings via Zoom.