Around Amherst: League of Women Voters drumming up diversity

Staff Writer
Monday, April 05, 2021

AMHERST — An aim to have robust elections with candidates that reflect the community’s racial and ethnic diversity is spurring the League of Women Voters of Amherst to put together two webinars in April.

Titled “Running for Elective Office in Amherst — 2021,” the webinars are scheduled for April 8 and 15, well in advance of the November election that will feature 13 seats on the Town Council, five seats on the Amherst School Committee and six positions for Jones Library trustees.

“We want to reach people and have diversity in our town government,” said Joan Rabin, a League member coordinating the events.

Rabin said because the League doesn’t yet know what the slate of candidates will look like or how much interest there will be in running, especially with the town charter only 3 years old, members invited candidates, both successful and unsuccessful, to discuss their campaigns. The League then developed a guidebook that will be on its website and which provides information about running for office.

The first webinar, “Nomination Procedures and Campaign Issues” will feature Town Clerk Susan Audette alongside panelists Sarah Barr, a former campaign manager, and former candidates Eric Nakajima and Jim Pistrang.

The second webinar, “Campaign Finance Regulations and Reporting,” will have Jason Tait, spokesman for the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, with former treasurers MaryAnn Grim and Bonnie MacCracken.

Rabin said the League heard from people who needed help to find a treasurer and understand what the job is and who can handle it. “We hope this will drum up some interest to serve in that role,” Rabin said.

Go to https://tinyurl.com/RFOPart1 and https://tinyurl.com/RFOPart2 to register.

Outdoor dining in Amherst

Outdoor dining patios set up on the streets of downtown Amherst last summer are returning.

The Department of Public Works, working with the Amherst Business Improvement District, this week began installing the Jersey barriers in front of restaurants and shops and also completed “line grinding” so the street markings, including for bicyclists, are in place.

The barriers will be the same ones painted by local artists last summer. Heaters will again be provided by the Amherst BID.

Plaques moved

Long stored at the Ruxton gravel pit in North Amherst, large marble Civil War plaques were recently moved to the Bangs Community Center’s Pole Room.

The tablets commemorate those from Amherst who fought in the Civil War, including African-American soldiers from the famed 54th Regiment.

Each measures 56 by 75 inches and weighs between 600 and 800 pounds.

Though town buildings are closed, the plaques are expected to be part of the town’s Juneteenth celebrations on June 19.

Child Abuse Awareness

Amherst and Belchertown will be joining other area communities in raising a flag to recognize Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month.

In Amherst, the ceremony is April 6 at 9 a.m. at Town Hall, while Belchertown’s will be the following day at 11:30 a.m., also at Town Hall.

The ATown Council recently issued a related proclamation in support of the cause.

The flag raisings come after the Children’s Advocacy Center of Hampshire County and Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan were scheduled to host a luminaria event “This Little Light of Mine” at Childs Park in Northampton, as well as the old Hampshire County Courthouse and various homes and businesses.

Luminaria in Hadley

On Easter Eve, Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hadley, the First Congregational Church at 102 Middle St. holds a “Night of Light” event open to the public.

The 30-minute luminaria begins with a prayer from the church’s new pastor, Bill Wright, and a short piece of special music.

During the event, the luminaries made by church members will be lit with battery-powered tea lights.


MONDAY: Local Historic District Commission, 4 p.m., Design Review Board, 5 p.m., Town Council, 6:30 p.m., and Finance Committee hearing on Amherst-Pelham Regional School budget, 6:45 p.m., all via Zoom.

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 6:30 p.m., via Zoom.

THURSDAY: Board of Health, 5 p.m., public hearing on “Prohibiting Smoking in Workplace and Public Places,” via Zoom.