Editor’s note: Town Manager Paul Bockelman submits a comprehensive report to the Town Council at each of its regular meetings. The reports, usually 9 to 12 pages in length, provide up-to-date information on what is happening within and across Town departments. The Manager’s Report is usually one of the last items on the agenda and is often taken up late at night, leaving little time for the Manager to do more than mention a few highlights and this is usually all that gets entered into the Council minutes. What follows is a complete, unedited version of the Town Manager’s Report.
All Town Manager Reports are available on the Town’s website at Town Manager Reports.
Town Manager Update:
- The Governor announced that the Commonwealth is on track to meet the goal of vaccinating 4.1 million residents by the first week of June and all remaining COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted effective May 29.
- Governor Baker will end the State of Emergency June 15, and said the Administration will work with legislative and municipal partners during this period in order to manage an orderly transition from emergency measures adopted by executive order and special legislation during the period of the State of Emergency. See the attached list of orders rescinded by the Governor.
- The Health Director canceled the Board of Health’s local mask requirement for the downtown area effective at 12:00 noon on May 17th.
- The Town continues to operate vaccination clinics. We are now offering walk-in times with your choice of single dose
(Johnson & Johnson) or two dose options. Mondays 12p- 4p, Wednesdays 10a-1p & Thursdays 9a-1p at Bangs Center.
- We will wind-down our clinics, offering second doses, and likely will halt clinics during July and August.
Vaccine will still be available at the mass vaccination site in Springfield and at local pharmacies.
- The Health Department worked with the School Department to offer special dedicated vaccine clinics for high school students at the high school and middle school students at the middle school. There was significant interest in these two offerings with a wide range of students being vaccinated. School staff were very supportive in ensuring the clinics were run successfully.
- The Health Department is assisting neighboring communities in vaccinating their students, as well.
- Town Hall:
- The Police Station reopened to the public for individual transactions on May 10th. Rest rooms are available 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
- Town Hall and other offices will reopen to the public for individual transactions on June 1st. We will maintain basic safety protocols as we transition to being fully reopened.
- While individual meetings may be scheduled in the building, we did not expect board and committee meetings to be accommodated until August 1st or so. With the Governor’s State of Emergency being lifted as of June 15th, Town boards and committees will be meeting in person beginning June 15th.
- The town will return to the pre-existing Remote Participation Policy that requires the presence of the chair and a quorum to meet. I am hoping the Legislature will act quickly to extend the Chair and quorum physical presence pieces beyond the life of the State of Emergency. Members of the Town Council have been proactive on this issue.
- Cuppa Joe with Paul:
- My last Cuppa was Friday, May 14th and featured the Finance Director and Comptroller.
- Community Chats: We are taking a break from the Community Chats due to scheduling issues.
- Office hours: I continue to offer virtual office hours to those who are interested in talking one-on-one with me.
- Engage Amherst: We have added two new areas – the North Common and the Town Budget – to the Engage Amherst web site. These will join Pomeroy Village, North Amherst Library, and the Four Capital Projects which can be found here: https://engageamherst.org.
- Cuppa Joe with Paul:
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst:
- The University held its Commencement activities on and around May 14th.
- The Reopening Committee is scheduled to meet one last time on May 27th. We will review the status of testing, vaccination, and commencement and look forward to the University’s plans for the summer and fall.
- Amherst College – May 30th:
- Commencement: The College has extensive protocols in place for graduating seniors and their guests including proof of vaccination, testing prior to entering campus, registration, etc. These protocols for commencement and Senior Assembly have been reviewed and approved by the Health Director.
- Hampshire College: The College held a virtual commencement on May 15th with various programs and events for graduating students immediately prior to the commencement program.
- University of Massachusetts at Amherst:
- Racial Equity:
- Community Safety Working Group:
- The Working Group submitted Part A of its final report to the Town Manager and will make a presentation to the Town Council at Monday’s meeting.
- Core Equity Team: The Core Equity Team has been assembling small groups of employees to participate in trainings. One participating in a training wrote the following note to Ms. Moyston: “I wanted to thank you for the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training. Your teaching style and personality helped make these topics approachable, encouraged conversation within the group, and showed the relevance of this training to our work with the Town. Thanks!”
- Reparations: I met with representatives from Reparations 4 Amherst group and discussed ways the Town could utilize funds to support the work that they are doing following proper procurement and contracting rules.
- Community Safety Working Group:
- Budget: The Town’s operating budget and capital improvement program were presented to the Town Council on May 3rd. All material is available online.
- Borrowing: The Town recently received some of the lowest borrowing costs in its history, with Bond total interest cost rate of 1.07% for $5.1million in borrowing and (Bond Anticipation Notes) BAN interest rate of 0.34% on $2million in BANs.
- Bond Rating:
- These very low interest rates reflect the renewal of our AA+ bond rating.
- Town staff, including the Finance Director, Treasurer, Collector, Comptroller, Assessing consultant, and Financial Advisor made a major presentation to S & P Global Ratings.
- We presented extensive information on the Town’s finances, economy, management team, and liabilities.
- We were rewarded with a strong rating of AA+/Stable.
- I will send the rating to you under separate cover and it will be posted on the Town’s website.
- S & P summarized its rating as follows:
- Credit overview
The rating reflects the town’s stable financial profile, with a second consecutive surplus in fiscal 2020. The stable outlook reflects the town’s continued growth in reserves due to strong performance with limited need to use reserves during our outlook period. These strengths are partially offset by the lower economic metrics due to the town’s college-based population, as well as a continued rise in pension and other postemployment benefits (OPEB) costs. However, while economic metrics are low for the rating, the town benefits from its presence in the Knowledge Corridor as home to the University of Massachusetts–Amherst,
Amherst College, and Hampshire College providing a stabilizing presence. We believe that Amherst’s continued strong management will allow the town to maintain strong budgetary flexibility commensurate with its formal policies and practices throughout the economic cycle. As a result, we do not expect to change the rating within the two-year outlook time frame. We base the rating on our assessment of the following factors for the town:
- Adequate economy, with access to a broad and diverse metropolitan statistical area (MSA) and a local stabilizing institutional influence;
- Very strong management, with strong financial policies and practices under our Financial Management Assessment (FMA) methodology;
- Strong budgetary performance, with operating surpluses in the general fund and at the total governmental fund level in fiscal 2020;
- Very strong budgetary flexibility, with an available fund balance in fiscal 2020 of 25% of operating expenditures;
- Very strong liquidity, with total government available cash at 29.3% of total governmental fund expenditures and 22.4x governmental debt service, and access to external liquidity we consider strong;
- Very strong debt and contingent liability profile, with debt service carrying charges at 1.3% of expenditures and net direct debt that is 13.3% of total governmental fund revenue, as well as low overall net debt at less than 3% of market value and rapid amortization, with 70.5% of debt scheduled to be retired in 10 years, but a large pension and OPEB obligation and, in our opinion, the lack of a sufficient plan that addresses the obligation; and
- Strong institutional framework.
- I am especially proud of the assessment of the financial management we have maintained during some very challenging times. In its report, S&P stated:
- Very strong management.
- We view the town’s management as very strong, with strong financial policies and practices under our FMA methodology, indicating financial practices are strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable.
- Since our last review, the town’s policies and procedures remain robust in nature.
- The town is thorough in its budget preparation and forecasting processes, and conservative in nature, with assumptions borne out by variance analyses.
- Along with the budget, management creates a five-year capital improvement plan that identifies funding sources and is linked to the town’s multiyear forecast.
- Amherst’s debt management policies limit the general fund debt service to 10% of general fund revenues and establish minimum debt amortization targets. State statutes guide the town’s investment policy, and Amherst’s reserve and liquidity policies call for the undesignated- unreserved fund balance and stabilization fund to be maintained at 5% to 15% of general fund revenues.
- Very strong management.
- Finance Director: Finance Director Sean Mangano has been elected as the 2nd Vice President of the Massachusetts Government Finance Officers Association at its most recent Annual Meeting. Congratulations, Sean!
- Public Works:
- The Water Department has completed its first quarterly sampling of the Town’s public drinking water sources for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). I am pleased to report that no PFAS compounds were detected above laboratory reporting limits in Amherst’s drinking water. The Town will be sampling for PFAS again in July 2021. This sampling is mandatory under the state’s new PFAS regulations.
- PFAS compounds are a group of human-made chemicals that have been widely used in such products as water-resistant clothing, stain-resistant furniture and carpets, adhesives, non-stick cookware, paints and varnishes, and firefighting foam, beginning in the 1950s. PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because many of them resist breaking down in the environment, and bioaccumulate in organisms, including humans.
- Exposure to PFAS compounds has been linked to a number of health issues including specific types of cancer.
- Additional information on PFAS health risks, and the work being done in Massachusetts to identify PFAS contamination is available at the following MADEP PFAS website: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl- substances-pfas
- If PFAS is detected in Amherst’s drinking water above the state’s maximum contaminant level, the public will be notified within thirty (30) days. All PFAS sampling results, whether above or below the maximum contaminant level, will be reported to Amherst residents in the Town’s Annual Water Quality Report (Consumer Confidence Report).
- For those on private wells, the Town’s DPW recommends a review of the information on MADEP’s PFAS and private wells FAQ website at: https://www.mass.gov/info- details/per-and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas-in-private-well-drinking-water- supplies-faq
- Waterline Extension to Leverett: Work to extend the water line from North Amherst into the Town of Leverett is expected to begin in the near future.
- Mill River Recreation Area: DPW crews have been working on the basketball courts and are preparing to install two full-length and two half- court basketball courts. They will be repaved when other paving work is being done in Town.
- Groff Park Spray Park: We are awaiting the delivery of material needed to activate the spray park. All mechanical work is completed. As soon as they arrive, we will open it to the public. We are expecting a May 28th operation launch.
- Road construction projects: The major road construction project is slotted to begin in the near future. This includes paving Henry Street, Bridge Street, and part of Pine Street. The DPW was successful in negotiating some difficult permitting issues with the railroad.
- Town Clerk:
- Voter Veto Petition: The Town Clerk’s office has been devoting large amounts of time responding to requests for information from proponents of the petition. The Board of Registrars met on Friday but made no decisions. They meet again on Monday.
- We have received two proposals to provide municipal aggregation consulting services for the Town of Amherst, City of Northampton, and Town of Pelham. I am reviewing the two proposals and expect to award the contract shortly.
- Public Safety:
- Officer Rita Curley (nee Contardo) has been awarded the Law Enforcement Exemplary Performance Award from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH). The Department honors a law enforcement officer and a police co- response clinician for their exceptional dedication, commitment and service to those who are in crisis, and in turn, helping their communities. There was no award last year due to COVID-19, so this is a two-year award. Nominations for the awards come from the community and DMH chooses the recipient. I have attached the narrative of Officer Curley’s actions that earner her the award and, quite
literally, saved a person’s life.
- Fire: The Town recognized the tremendous commitment and hard work of the Police, Fire, Dispatch and all first responders with small tokens of our appreciation.
- Human Resources/Human Rights:
- Credit to our talented H.R. Department for being the catalyst for providing gift baskets to our first responders (see photo at right).
- Human Resources are recruiting for Recreation Director and numerous other positions.
- Human Resources is recruiting, hiring, and onboarding numerous positions, mostly seasonal or associated with our COVID response.
- The Human Rights Commissions has initiated the Human Rights Youth Heroism Awards, an annual celebration of Amherst area youth. 2021 represents the fourteenth year of these awards! It is the Commission’s intent to identify and celebrate youth who have shown a special gift from the heart or an ability to love and care for one another. The awards are presented to young people who
have demonstrated acts of kindness, usefulness, social courage and/or community service within their families, their schools, or the community.
- The Human Rights Commission will celebrate this year’s Heroes at its annual community picnic Saturday June 5th – the time, location and format to be determined.
- Community Services:
- Recreation: Assistant Town Manager David Ziomek is also serving as the acting Recreation Director. Applicants for the Recreation Director have been received and interviewing will begin next week.
- Health: In accordance with the Town Council’s order, the Town submitted its application for the Town to opt-out of all spraying. The Town submitted the certified vote from May 17th Town Council meeting and alternative mosquito control management plan. The Town of Amherst is joining the Pioneer Valley Mosquito Control District which has its next meeting to approve Amherst’s membership May 24th. The State has acknowledged receipt of the opt-out notification.
- Senior Center: The Director of Senior Services is eager to begin the process of reopening the Senior Center to the public. There will be pre-registered events through the month of June at which time which time we will reopen the Bangs Community Center. (We continue to host vaccine clinics in the Bangs Center through June and want to avoid conflicts.)
- Unhoused Population:
- The Building Commissioner, at the request of Craigs Doors, has extended the use of the Unitarian Universalist facility on North Pleasant Street through July 31, 2021.
- The Director of Senior Services will serve as facilitator for the new Homelessness and Rehousing Task Force that is being organized. The group’s first meeting is the week of May 24th.
- We have allocated $20,000 in CARES Act funds to Craig’s Doors to make modifications to the existing trailer to accommodate a handicapped accessible shower. This is the quickest, most efficient way to provide a shower facility without delays in permitting.
- Economic Development:
- The Amherst Center Cultural District is up for renewal this year. (There are 49 districts in the State.) There is a process that will lead to a vote by the Town Council on the renewal in the summer. A cultural district designation is effective for five years. Designations may be renewed for an additional five years. The vote by the Town Council will be to recommit to the cultural district in line with the resolution passed in support of the proposed cultural district five years ago.
- Conservation and Development:
- A zoning change that would impose a moratorium on new buildings in certain zones has been submitted. Amendments to the Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw were also reviewed. A joint public hearing of the Planning Board and the Council’s CRC Committee was held on May 19th.
- At its meeting, the Planning Board voted 6-0 and 1 absent to support the Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw. In addition, the Planning Board voted 6-0 and 1 absent to not support the proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw.
- Here is the Planning Website on the zoning amendments currently being considered: https://www.amherstma.gov/3603/2021-Zoning-Amendments
- Key dates:
- On May 3, 2021, the Town Council Meeting voted to refer the Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw revisions to CRC and the Planning Board for a hearing.
- May 19, 2021, the Planning Board and Community Resources Committee held a Joint Public Hearing regarding the Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw revisions and the Proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw. The Planning Board voted 6-0 and 1 absent to support the Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw. The Planning Board voted 6-0 and 1 absent to not support the proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw.
- Next Steps:
- May 25, 2021, 2:00 PM – Community Resources Committee Meeting. CRC will discuss and potentially vote on its recommendation regarding the Proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw and Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw revisions.
- June 2, 2021, 10:30 AM – Governance, Organization, and Legislation Committee Meeting. If the Community Resources Committee has voted a recommendation on either of these proposals, GOL will consider and vote on the clarity, consistency, and actionability of proposal.
- June 7, 2021, 6:30 PM – Town Council Meeting to include First Reading of the Proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw and/or Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw, if they have received a vote in GOL.
- June 21, 221, 6:30 PM — Town Council Meeting to include VOTE on the Proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw and Proposed Inclusionary Zoning Bylaw, if the first reading is completed on June 7.
- The decision regarding the Proposed Temporary Moratorium Bylaw must occur no later than August 17th or the Planning Board and CRC must hold another hearing.
- It is anticipated that the next proposed bylaws to come before the Town Council for referral to CRC and the Planning Board are the Proposed Mixed-Use Building Standards Bylaw and revisions to the Accessory Dwelling Unit Bylaw. This will be followed by the Proposed B-L Overlay Bylaw, revisions to the definition of Apartments in the Zoning Bylaw, as well as revisions to the Demolition Delay bylaw and recodification of the entire Zoning Bylaw. Revisions to Footnote M continue to be “off the table” for now.
- Information Technology (I.T.):
- The I.T. Department has reviewed options for conducting in-person, fully remote, and hybrid meetings. Hybrid (Zoom and in-person) can only be held in the Town Room due to the required equipment. Additional staff will be needed to support the operation of these meetings.
Delegated Authority (April 2021):
- Short-Term Event Uses of Town Commons:
- Use of East Street Common for the Mobile Market. This request will come to the Town Council when their timing exceeds the number of days permitted to be approved by the Town Manager.
- Short-Term Parking Requests: None
- Short-Term Road or Sidewalk Closures:
- Use of the public way on East Hadley Road for the Mobile Market. This request will come to the Town Council when their timing exceeds the number of days permitted to be approved by the Town Manager.
Major Capital Projects:
- DPW Building/Fire Building: The Request for Proposals for a site for a new Department of Public Works building has been advertised. Proposals are due on June 4th.
- The MSBA found the documents provided in conjunction with other materials provided by the District to be sufficient for the MSBA to vote on the Town’s choice of Owner’s Project Manager (OPM).
- The MSBA’s OPM Review Panel meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 7th.
- Town Council approved the borrowing and CPA funds on April 5th.
- A Voter Veto petition was initiated but failed to produce enough signatures.
- The petitioners brought a complaint to the Superior Court requesting (i) additional time to submit signatures, (ii) a reduction in the number of signatures needed, and (iii) permission to submit signatures electronically. The hearing on this case was held on Wednesday, April 28th.
- The Judge in the case denied the request by the plaintiffs.
- I submitted all signed documents to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners prior to the required April 30th deadline to receive funds this year.
- The plaintiffs submitted a document to the Court stating that, “Pursuant to Mass. R. Civ.
P. a1(a)(1)(i), the Plaintiffs hereby dismiss the above-captioned action without prejudice” thus dismissing the case against the Town.
- We will be creating a Building Committee to oversee the project.
- Kendrick Park Playground: We were ahead of schedule but delays in the shipment of materials has delayed completion. We now have until June 30th to complete the project. There is still no time frame for delivery of the granite needed, but the DPW has developed some work-arounds to maintain progress on the project.
- Dog Park: Our contractor is wrapping up another project in the area and then will be moving crews to this project. The first order of business is to complete screening of 6000cy of fill and transport it to the site. The project is very straightforward with grading, water lines, fencing, walkways and parking. Once the contractor is on site, things will move quickly.
- Performing Arts Shell on the Town Common: No developments.
- Parking Structure on Town Land at North Pleasant Street Parking Lot: We are proposing to rezone parcel 14A-33 on North Prospect St., currently used as a municipal parking lot, from RG to BG. This will open the opportunity for the development of a new parking structure on that lot. This rezoning does not mean that lot will become a parking structure, but creates the opportunity for such use should the Town decide to pursue that option.
- North Common Restoration/Main Street Parking Lot:
- The Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed parking changes on May 24th.
- Work will begin on the schematic drawings.
- Congressman McGovern has listed additional work on the roadways surrounding the Town Common for funding as stated above.
- Town staff continue to seek out additional sources of funds to substitute or supplement the Town’s current funding plan.
- Hickory Ridge: A Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement is being negotiated with the property owner for the solar that is proposed for the site. The solar project and its final approval by the State is the major issue still in play for this project.
- North Amherst Library:
- The architect is working on the construction documents, which we will need for bidding. We have had to discuss the project with the State due to its location on a state road. All Town permits have been secured.
- The project page is now up and available for public comment. It can be found here: https://engageamherst.org/north-amherst-library-project
- Pomeroy Village MassWorks Grant:
- Public forums were held March 25th at 6:00 p.m. (1-hour) and March 27th at 2:00 p.m. (2- hours). These forums were convened by the Town Services and Outreach Committee, begin with a brief presentation by Town staff, provided prompts to the public for structured feedback, and included the opportunity for questions and answers.
- Solar on the Landfill: In the coming months, crews will be working on the Northern Landfill to mow, set the access road, and set preliminary sediment control. The “real” construction work is scheduled for August, along with the fence around the Southern Landfill.
- Belchertown Road/East Street School: Town staff are preparing an RFP that will be issued by the end of June. We anticipate a fair amount of interest from non-profits in this opportunity to create additional affordable housing in Town.
- Downtown Improvements:
- Bangs Center Ramp: Bids have been received within the budget for this project which will install an ADA accessible ramp on the south side of the Bangs Center toward Clark House and the Musante Health Center entrance. This is a grant-funded project by our talented grant-writing team. We hope to have the project completed during the summer.
- Crosswalks and Pleasant Walk: Work to rebuild three existing crosswalks on North Pleasant Street and the walkway that connects the Bangs Parking Lot to North Pleasant Street will begin in the very near future. These projects are funded by a grant obtained by our grant-writers combined with some capital funds allocated for sidewalk improvements.
Upcoming Meetings and Events:
- May 31st – Memorial Day holiday
- June 7th – Town Council meeting
- June 18th – Juneteenth holiday celebrated
- June 19th – Juneteenth Events
- June 21st – Town Council meeting
- July 5th – Independence Day
Emergency Orders and Guidance Tied to the State of Emergency
- COVID-19 Emergency Orders Currently in Effect (copies available at https://www.mass.gov/info–details/covid-19-state-of-emergency)
Emergency Orders not listed below have either expired on their own terms or have been rescinded. All Orders will be rescinded on May 29 unless noted otherwise below.
- Reopening Orders
- EO 33: Order Implementing a Phased Reopening of Workplaces and Imposing Workplace Safety Measures to Address COVID-19
- EO 34: Order Expanding Access to and Use of State Beaches and Addressing Other Outdoor Recreational Activities
- EO 35: Order Clarifying the Progression of the Commonwealth’s Phased Workplace Re- Opening Plan and Authorizing Certain Re-Opening Preparations at Phase II Workplaces
- EO 37: Order Authorizing the Re-Opening of Phase II Enterprises
- EO 40: Order Further Advancing the Re-Opening of Phase II Enterprises
- EO 43: Order Authorizing the Re-Opening of Phase III Enterprises
- EO 48: Order Amending the Administration of Penalties Issued Pursuant to Certain COVID-19 Orders
- EO 50: Order Making Certain Phase III Adjustments (rescind section 1 on June 15)
- Note: pursuant to this Order, municipalities were permitted to approve requests for the expansion of outdoor table service through 60 days past the end of the state of emergency
- EO 53: Order Requiring Early Closing for Certain Businesses and Activities, Limiting Hours for Alcohol and Adult Use Cannabis Sales, and Modifying Chapter 138 License Renewal Requirements
- Note: only Section 3 of EO 53 remains in effect (Renewal of
Chapter 138 Licenses Establishments Remaining Closed During the State of Emergency)
- EO 58: Order Returning All Municipalities to Phase III, Step 1 COVID-19 Safety Rules
- EO 65: Order Advancing All Communities to Phase III, Step 2 of the Commonwealth’s Reopening Plan
- EO 66: Order Advancing All Communities to Phase IV, Step 1 of the Commonwealth’s Re-Opening Plan and Transitioning to a Travel Advisory Policy
- EO 68: Order Reopening Certain Phase IV, Step 2 Enterprises
- Gatherings Order
- EO 63: Further Revised Order Regulating Gatherings in the Commonwealth (as amended by the March 22 Appendix) 2
- Face Coverings Order
- EO 67: Further Revised Order Regarding Face Coverings
- Remote Meeting Authorization
- EO 1: Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, § 20 (rescind June 15)
- EO 29: Revised Order Allowing for Remote Participation for the Governor’s Council
- RMV Orders
- EO 11: Order Authorizing Actions to Reduce In-Person Transactions Associated with the Licensing, Registration, and Inspection of Motor Vehicles
- EO 47: Extension of Second Order Authorizing Actions to Limit In Person Transactions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles
- EO 64: Amendment to the Second Order Authorizing Actions to Limit In-Person Transactions at the Registry of Motor Vehicles
- EEC Orders (rescind June 15)
- EO 26: Order Authorizing the Creation and Operation of Emergency Residential Programs and Emergency Placement Agencies for Children
- EO 36: Order Authorizing Re-Opening Preparations for Child Care Programs
- EO 49: Order Authorizing Certain Program Adjustments to Support Families with Students Engaged in Remote Learning
- Other Orders (rescind June 15)
- EO 24: Order Authorizing Nursing Practice by Graduates and Senior Students of Nursing Education Programs
- EO 42: Order Resuming State Permitting Deadlines and Continuing to Extend the Validity of Certain State Permits
- EO 61: Revised Order Expanding Access to Inpatient Services
- Public Health Orders
- The Department of Public Health has issued orders pursuant to the public health emergency addressing issues such as health care workforce shortages, vaccinations, and congregate care and health care facility COVID protocols. DPH is in the process of evaluating which of those policies are necessary to continue past June 15.
- General and Sector Specific Guidance that will sunset on May 29 (available here and here, unless otherwise noted)
- Mandatory Safety Standards for Workplaces
- Arcades and other indoor and outdoor game recreation
- Close Contact personal services 3
- Commencement and Graduation Ceremonies (available here)
- DESE is evaluating whether these rules with remain in place for graduations
- Driving and Flight Schools
- Fitness Centers and Health Clubs
- Indoor and Outdoor Events
- Institutes of Higher Ed – Occupancy (available here)
- Large Capacity Venues
- Museums and Cultural and Historical Facilities and Guided Tours
- Office Spaces
- Places of Worship
- Theaters and Performance Venues
- Sectors Not Otherwise Addresses
- Phase 4 Safety Plans (available here)
- DESE and EEC Health and Safety Requirements
- DESE COVID-19 Guidance is available here
- Note: While DESE is evaluating the requirements, it plans to keep most of the guidance in the place through the end of the school year
- EEC COVID-19 Child Care Playbook and Massachusetts Child and Youth Serving Programs Reopen Approach (available here and here)
- Note: EEC is in the process of evaluating what guidelines will remain in place
- Regulations Tied to the State of Emergency
- 830 CMR 62.5A.3: Massachusetts Source Income of Non-Residents Telecommuting due to the COVID-19 Pandemic (sunsets 90 days after the end of the State of Emergency)
Officer Rita Curley (nee Contardo) Wins Award – Narrative of Action
Awarded the Law Enforcement Exemplary Performance Award from the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Officer Rita Contardo is a veteran police officer assigned to the patrol division. She is a multi- dimensional officer who is involved in several critical functions within our agency. Officer Contardo is an exemplary police officer who is well respected in our community and inside law enforcement circles. She is committed and caring, and it is reflected in her work and relationships.
Most notable to this nomination is that Officer Contardo is a member of our Crisis Intervention Team. When CIT was adopted by the Amherst Police Department, Officer Contardo was one of the first officers to commit. She has embraced the CIT concept and has worked ·with her team to aid community members who are experiencing trauma or crisis. She very actively participates with fellow first responders in follow-up activities working for and with individuals who are experiencing behavioral health difficulties. She has helped shape the culture of our agency to advocate for those who need us the most.
On February 7, 2020, Officer Contardo and Officer Mathew Frydryck responded to a report of a suicidal woman armed with a knife at a local parking facility. Officer Contardo arrived and found the woman locked inside of her vehicle. Early attempts to connect with this woman were not fruitful and it was apparent to Officer Contardo that she was in crisis. It was learned that the woman had recently been hospitalized in connection with behavioral and mental health issues.
As the situation unfolded, the woman was unwilling to surrender her knife. She began hacking at her own throat and tried to plunge the knife into her midsection. Officer Contardo called for additional help and EMS. De-escalation tactics and Officer Contardo’s interpersonal skills were not working. Suddenly the woman produced a razor blade and began cutting her own wrist.
Recognizing the immediate danger of this incident escalating into a fatal situation, the officers broke one of the car’s windows to gain access into the passenger compartment. Faced with an inconsolable and combative woman armed with two weapons they tried to gain control. The woman struck out at Officer Contardo stabbing her in the chest. The force of the blow penetrated her uniform. Amazingly, she struck Officer Contardo directly in the center of her chest where the hardened trauma plate in her ballistic vest.
Absorbed the blow. The strike was so violent it broke the knife. Fortunately, Officer Contardo was uninjured.
The two officers were able to subdue the woman physically and remove the weapons from her possession. EMS personnel were called to the scene once the danger had passed and ultimately assisted in transporting the patient to the ED as Section 12 protocol was followed. The patient was not physically injured.
Following the struggle, Officer Contardo continued to work with the patient to make contact with a family friend that she has relied on in the past lo help diffuse crisis situations. Officer Contardo accompanied the patient to the ED until she had been admitted.
The patient told Officer Contardo that she had stabbed her in the hope that she would draw her firearm and kill her. The incident was captured on a cruiser video.
This was a tense and dangerous incident. The patient was deeply into crisis and was a clear danger to herself, the public and the responding officers. Officer Contardo’s response was professional, respectful, and courageous. Without hesitation or concern for her own personal safety her quick actions prevented further injury to the patient. She demonstrated amazing restraint and was able to get this patient to where she belonged – a medical facility – by using a minimal amount of force.
Officer Contardo’s actions on February 7, 2020 demonstrate the expectation of law enforcement and the standards of the Amherst Police Department, and in my humble opinion, the essence of crisis intervention.