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Around Amherst: Council adopts resolutions on abortion access, gun safety, plant medicines



Staff Writer
Monday, August 01, 2022

AMHERST — The Town Council is going on the record supporting access to safe and legal abortion, opposing gun legislation that threatens public safety, and endorsing decriminalizing plant medicines.

At its July 18 meeting, 11 councilors unanimously adopted the abortion- and gun-related resolutions, while the resolution focused on plant medicine passed with just one vote against.

The resolution related to abortion advocates for legally protecting both patients and doctors who might travel to Massachusetts, stating “abortion is an essential reproductive health service and its availability is an important part of ensuring every individual’s right to safe and accessible health care.”

Before the vote, Ian Rhodewalt of Pine Street told councilors that the Dobbs v. Jackson U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning 1973’s Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide is appalling because it puts pregnant people at risk, and represents a judicial coup.

“Black maternal mortality rates are expected to rise by 39% because of this ruling,” Rhodewalt said.

The resolution on guns has language supporting the Amherst and Amherst Regional school committees’ decisions to indefinitely reject police resource officers in school buildings, and encourages police and Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service to work together “to reduce gun presence when responding to nonviolent related calls.”

Finally, councilors are supporting establishing a task force for studying entheogenic plants made up of experts in science, drug policy, and economic and racial justice, and recommending legislation to legalize entheogenic plants, expunge criminal records stemming from drug use, and create equity initiatives for victims of the war on drugs.

District 3 Councilor Dorothy Pam was the lone vote against the plant-based medicine resolution, saying it is confusing that using such medicine would be legalized but those who distribute such drugs could still be prosecuted.

Book sale begins

A gymnasium filled with books, DVDs, compact discs and vinyl records will greet the public as the League of Women Voters begins holding its annual giant book sale at Fort River School, 70 South East St., on Friday.

The sale runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.

The following week the sale will run from from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 5 and Aug. 6.

Poolside movies

The Amherst Senior Center is partnering with the Amherst Recreation Department to show two feature films next to the swimming pool at Mill River Recreation Area, 95 Montague Road.

“Jaws” will be shown at 8 p.m. Friday, while “Cocoon” will be screened at the same time on Aug. 5.

Senior Center Director Hayley Bolton said the idea is to bring the community together in a fun way, with people having a choice to sit on the lawn, swim in the pool or just dip their toes into the water.

Admission is free, but reservations are required for the pool. People can call 259-3060 for reservations.

Absentee ballots

Absentee ballots for the Sept. 6 state primary are available in the town clerk’s office at Town Hall weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Applications must be made in writing and must include the voter’s name, voting address, voting precinct, the address to which the ballot should be mailed, contact information, including phone number or email address, and the voter’s signature.

Family members who reside in the same household may apply for an absentee ballot on the voter’s behalf. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Sept. 2 at 5 p.m.

Offshore wind grant

A team led by University of Massachusetts Extension professor Dwayne Breger recently was selected by the Baker-Polito administration and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to receive a $220,000 grant for the UMass Clean Energy Extension’s Offshore Wind Professional Certificate Program.

The money will help the university continue its three-course graduate certificate program offerings to meet an increasing demand for a highly skilled workforce to work in the state’s offshore wind industry. Since 2020, when it was established, the program has helped more than 80 students rapidly get skills working on offshore wind power.

“This critical support comes at a time when the demand for our professional training is accelerating and our program needs to expand and reach a financially sustainable path,” Breger said in a statement.

Meeting

WEDNESDAY: Planning Board, 6:30 p.m., hearing on 68-unit building at 47 Olympia Drive.