Around Amherst: Empty Bowl fundraiser set for Monday

Staff Writer
Thursday, March 16, 2017

AMHERST — Empty Bowls, a community dinner and fundraiser for the Amherst Survival Center that features hand-made ceramic bowls and celebrity waitstaff, will be held for the ninth time Monday.

“This annual event provides critical support for our work to serve individuals and families who are struggling and in need of food, clothing, health care and community,” said Mindy Domb, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center in an email.

The event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. at The Pub, 15 East Pleasant St.

“This year I feel it's especially important that we demonstrate and embrace the generosity of our community and our programs to caring for one another, and where everyone knows that everyone is welcome at the center,” Domb added.

More than 50 ceramic artists, from high school students to professional artists, made the bowls.  The 16 soups to be served come from 12 area restaurants, including The Black Sheep, Fratelli’s, Osteria Vespa and The Works.

Tickets are $40 and available online at www.amherstsurvival.org/2017emptybowls or in person at A.J. Hastings, 45 South Pleasant St. and at The Pub. The event also includes a raffle for a chance to win a bowl made by glass artist Josh Simpson.

Waitstaff will include State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, Amherst Regional High School Principal Mark Jackson and Town Manager Paul Bockelman.

School project campaigns

Supporters of the nearly $67 million project to build two co-located elementary schools at the Wildwood School site and those who oppose the project as a way to protect neighborhood schools are continuing their advocacy as the March 28 townwide referendum on the project nears.

In advance of the referendum, which coincides with the town election, both sides are disseminating information and putting out lawn signs. Save Amherst’s Schools’ signs feature a red stop sign and read “Bigger, Not Better” and “Vote No: Save Amherst’s K-6 Schools,” while Vote Yes for Amherst’s navy blue signs depict sun rays coming from an image of a co-located school, and read “Vote Yes for Amherst March 28.”

A Proposition 2 ½ debt-exclusion was approved by voters in November, but the borrowing authorization has been defeated twice by Town Meeting. 

Those in favor of the project recently staged an event to showcase the need to replace Wildwood and Fort River schools, and how turning Crocker Farm School into an early childhood education center will add preschool slots. They also unveiled a “Why Amherst Votes Yes” public display at the former Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce site at 28 Amity St., with photos of supporters and their reasons for backing the project.

Save Amherst’s Schools are distributing a flier opposing the project, calling it "too much money for a plan with too many problems and that too many people don't want." The flier elaborates on the flaws in the education plan, how it will be harder for families with children in multiple schools to pick up their children and how any project needs broader support.

Election help

Town Clerk Sandra Burgess is seeking around 35 registered voters interested in being workers during the March 28 town election.

Because there will be separate ballots for the annual election and the school referendum, Burgess said she needs at least six workers to check voters in and out, alongside a clerk and warden, in each of the 10 precincts.

Anyone interested in working, and being paid $11 per hour, must be registered to vote in Massachusetts. Most slots that need to be filled are early, including from 6 to 11 a.m., and late, such like the 4 p.m. to after the 8 p.m. poll closing.

Townwide candidates for office are ineligible to work.

Burgess said 90-minute training sessions are being held this week and again Tuesday at 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Burgess at 259-3035 or burgess@amherstma.gov

GIS administrator departs

An Amherst municipal employee who built the Geographic Information System, creating what Town Manager Paul Bockelman calls one of the best such databases in the state, recently left for a new job after more than a decade.

Michael Olkin, who also handled applications and analysis for the town, is now employed by the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission.

“It’s going to be a big loss for us,” Bockelman said.


MONDAY: Select Board, 6:30 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m., Town Room, Town Hall.