Blog - Williamstown, MA
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Updates, Thursday July 9th, 2020

This week, Massachusetts became the latest state to allow all residents to vote by mail in any 2020 election, with no excuse needed. According to Secretary Galvin’s  office, a vote by mail  application will be mailed to every person who was registered to vote by July 1 and who had not already requested an absentee ballot for the State Primary or for all elections this year.A second mailing will be sent out in September to all voters who have not already applied for a Vote by Mail ballot for the November election. The applications are pre-addressed to your local election official and no postage is necessary.Vote by Mail applications must be delivered to your local election office no later than 4 business days before the election.

For a State Primary ballot, your application must reach your local election office no later than August 26.

For a State Election ballot, your application must reach your local election office no later than October 28.

Those interested in voting by mail are strongly encouraged to return an application as early as possible, to make sure that you will receive your ballot in time to return it and have it be counted.Vote by Mail applications are available for download and may also be requested by contacting the Elections Division.You can find more information on voting by mail on the Secretary of State’s Voting by Mail FAQs page

Now, we talked yesterday about opening spring street for pedestrian access to the shops and restaurants but there is more happening than just this Saturday on Spring.. Many other area opportunities and restaurants are coming back on line this week including the Barn at the Williams Inn, the Clark and MOCA. Sue has summed this all up nicely in an informational blurb on the Chamber website so i think I’ll just refer you to that spot and you can see the news yourselves. Here’s the link: https://mailchi.mp/c70a8264ac72/this-week-in-williamstown 

By the way, in case you were looking for them at Field Park, Youlin’s Tai Chi class has moved back here to the grounds behind the Harper Center, it’s shady, much quieter and flat. I didn’t count heads but it looked like a full complement of people. You know that we have Covid restrictions on participants so if you’re already part of the class, contact youlin to be added to one of the sessions. If you’re a newly interested possible participant, call us at Harper, 413.458.8250 and we’ll make intros…

Tomorrow is Friday and I’ll be in zoom meeting heaven (or maybe the other place) most of the day so I’ll wish you all a great weekend in advance!

Brian O’Grady.

Updates, Wednesday July 8th, 2020

We all know that our friends from the Theatre Festival COMMUNITY WORKS have been presenting workshops on Facebook Live for the past few months. They are planning to do this again  on Friday, July 17. This workshop will focus on movement on stage, and will  have COMMUNITY WORKS alum, Becky and Jamal Ahamad as guest artists! Perhaps you know them?

If you’re interested in being considered to participate on Zoom, fill out this form by 5pm on Thursday, July 9. Space is very limited so filling out this form does not guarantee you a spot in the Zoom call. WTF will review submissions and confirm IF we are able to offer you a spot by the end of day on Friday, July 10.That’s this week folks!

Participants will attend a rehearsal on Zoom on Wednesday, July 15 from 12:30-1p to troubleshoot any technical issues. Availability for this date and time is required in order to participate! The workshop, of course, will still be broadcast on Facebook, so anyone will be able to participate that way, no matter what! Contact Haley at community@wtfestival.org or call her, 413-458-3200 x9676

Just a reminder about ticks, mosquitos and other bugs…It was three years ago today that I moved a large compost heap in my yard from one spot to another. I was creating a patio space. In that process, I was bitten by a tick but really didn’t notice it until three weeks later when I became ill. I had Anaplasmosis and it was a misery. I had a fever of 105, spent the evening before my daughters wedding in the ER and the next three weeks recovering. They told me that my red blood count had been reduced by over 50%. Dangerous territory. So my message here is that tick bites are not good at all and you should take all sorts of precautions. Bug spray is my favorite and then a shower if I have been playing in the yard.Yes, I know, you’re supposed to tuck your pants into your socks and wear long sleeves, also a precaution but one which doesn’t work for me.  Weeding the garden is an activity which brings us close to the ground where they lurk…I live at the edge of the woods and they are everywhere. So are mosquitoes and bug spray works on them as well. Just be vigilant , do tick checks  at the minimum and don’t join me in the tick bite horror story club.

We’re still in a bit of a drought so remember to heed the restrictions that went into effect at the end of June-non essential watering is verboten between 9:00 and 5:00 daily so don’t be out watering until evening, or early morning, whichever you prefer. There’s a ton of rain in the forecast for later this week so perhaps relief is in sight. If you want to know how low the water is, take a look off the Cole Ave bridges at the Hoosac. You can see it for yourself.

Now another good news report,  the Town says that Spring Street will be open to Pedestrians only, this means no cars and  no on street parking for three consecutive Saturdays (July 11, 18, and 25) 4:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. I was away the last Saturday this happened but I’m told that it rained after everything was set up.. Bummer! Anyway, to avoid this scenario again, they’ll decide each Saturday at noon whether to proceed with this plan.You can find out whether it’s happening by checking the Chamber Facebook page,  Williamstown Chamber of Commerce – Home or Town’s Facebook page Town of Williamstown Government – Home for updates.

So- street will close at 4:00 p.m to vehicles. to allow businesses to set up. Masks when applicable and  social distancing rules are in place. The evening outside ends between 9 and 10 as the street needs to be cleared -Spring Street reopened to traffic at 10:00 

 You’ll be able to experience Spring Street differently from  5-10 Saturday evening, support business and maybe eat outside under the stars. Check it out! 

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Monday July 6th, 2020

So, the reopening continues and Phase 3 begins today! We’ve done a fabulous job keeping the Coronavirus out of here so far and now we can go to museums, movies and-well check it out for yourselves, here’s the official link!

http://mass.gov/reopening

The one thing that we all really have to do is stay vigilant, wear your mask and wash your hands! And it’s OK to remind other people to follow the mask rules if they’re not. It’s not rude to advise someone that they need to mask up, it’s rude NOT to do it…

Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity (NBHfH) is now accepting applications for a 3-bedroom, 1.5 bath home, located in Williamstown at the corner of Cole Avenue and Maple Street. Construction is expected to be completed this fall. No idea why the original family isn’t available and it doesn’t really matter now does it? You can find additional information about this home and the process for consideration on their website https://www.northberkshirehabitat.org/

For your long term planning, there is a NBSWMD Hazardous waste collection in August, actually on August 22nd, which you New Englanders will recognize as Carl Yastremzski’s 81st birthday, from 9:00AM to 1:00 PM at the Adams DPW garage on North Summer Street. They are requiring pre-registration later in the summer and I’m putting this in really early as I know first hand what happens as we work our way through the shed, garage, cellar during the summer. Might be time to start a pre-collection box. Anyway, you can register starting August 3rd by calling 413.743. 8208 or email  our friend Linda at lcernik@nbswmd.com 

Green River Cleanup Walk

Saturday July 11 at 1 PM

If you’re looking for a nice river walk this weekend and aren’t afraid to pick up some trash while you’re doing it, the South Williamstown Community Association is doing  a cleanup walk along the Green River. This is a regularly occurring annual project done in collaboration with the Hoosic River Watershed Association, HOORWA, to collect junk washing out of a closed former Town landfill located behind the Hart farm on New Ashford Road (Rte 7).If you’re interested you can park at the Hart Garage right on 7, it’s about a mile beyond Waubeeka Golf Course on the right heading toward New Ashford. Cross the road and walk down the 340 New Ashford Road. You’ll need rubber boots, gloves, insect repellent and sunscreen. Oh, you’ll also need to wear a mask and social distancing is in order too.If you are planning on participating but are lacking a mask, call us here at Harper and we’ll help you out; 413.458.8250. The Town is  providing trash  bags and arranging for disposal.

For information, contact:  Bette Craig (413) 652-9098

Jane’s class #15 is “live” on Willinet, www.willinet.org

Seems like a good thing to do early in the morning to start your day!

OK, here’s the food news for the week.

The biggest news is that the three Williamstown churches who had been participating in the Take and Eat program until it was Covidized last March are back on line to restart the Sunday meals program this coming weekend, July 11th. They’ll contact all the former participants, a letter has gone out to everybody with the delivery details including delivery protocols under the new abnormal, masks, distancing, etc. They have access to masks so anyone involved with the program is welcome to ask for one if needed. The biggest change is that they will no longer leave a meal if there’s no answer to the knock. They’ll leave a note…”sorry we missed you…”

Williamstown Farmers Market – Essentials!, the virtual market is accepting orders at www.WFMEssentials.org  weekly from 10:00  Monday  until 7PM on Wednesday . Pick up is from 11am until 1pm  on Saturday. Orders are pre-bagged, pre-sorted, you’ll find them in the parking lot behind the Williamstown Elementary School.

Berkshire Grown  has a link to  all sorts of different farms and food sources. Here’s that link: https://berkshiregrown.org/shop-local-now/

The North Adams Farmers market is open, here’s the link  with order information:-www.Facebook.com/NorthAdamsFarmersMarket/ 

The Salvation Army Food Pantry on  River Street in North Adams is in operation Tuesday-12:00-3:00. Please use the front door

The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry at the St. Elizabeth Parish Center on Holden Street is open  Wednesday, 10:00-2:00 and 3:30-5:30. Their phone message says that they’ll deliver if you don’t have access to transportation, call them between 9:30 and 1:30 on Wednesdays for delivery. Here’s the contact information; 413.664.0123 or via email at;

northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com  

 The Community Bible Church Food Pantry, 160 Bridges Road, Williamstown, has food and are happy to share. Call Phyllis Babcock (413) 663-6094 and she will meet you at church at your convenience.

The Williamstown Food Pantry at St Patrick/St Raphael Church, 9:00-12:00 Wednesday. Southworth St. Same procedure, circle the church,, stay in your car, someone will help. Walkers to the front of the line, you go first. 

Berkshire Food Project-take-out only on M-W-and F. Enter through the breezeway and exit from the dining room out to Summer Street. Wear a mask to participate and this includes while waiting in line and practice Social Distancing. BFP will provide a mask if you don’t have one. The number of folks allowed inside is currently limited, there will be a count. BFP staff will open the doors for you, you’ll only be touching your food. There are also no restroom facilities available for use at this time.. https://www.berkshirefoodproject.org/

Beautiful day out there!

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Wednesday July 1st, 2020

Rabbit Rabbit!

There are all sorts of bear sightings all over Town these days. Bears are not cuddly overgrown dogs. They’re potentially dangerous wild animals. Ain’t no Yogi Bear here, but they will swipe your picnic basket if you leave it out. Don’t feed the bears! Don’t leave food around! They’ll sniff it out and mark the site for future reference. Lock your garages, there are stories of bears visiting to eat garbage. They’re really not interested in you, only what they can eat off your largess.Stay away from them.Take pictures from a distance. Any questions?

Another light comes on as the Milne Library are indicating that they’ll begin sidewalk service on Monday July 6th. Apparently you’ll order, they’ll have your materials ready for pickup, you go and get them. Sort of grab and go for books…Pat will surely let us know the mechanism soon.

 In the meanwhile, you can return all the library materials you borrowed last winter…think about that for a moment.. by dropping all your returns into the bin marked  “Library Returns”.  There will be a 3 day quarantine on everything returned so now worries about  contagion by association here. And there are no fines! 

After 3 days, everything will be matched to your accounts and then you’re off the hook for borrowed materials..

You can follow everything happening at the library through this link www.milnelibrary.org 

Today marks the three month mark after Census Day 2020. Soon, you’ll be getting a card in the mail reminding you to respond if you already haven’t. This will give you an opportunity to reply before a field agent knocks on your door, and they will be out there starting in the beginning of August, that’s next month folks. Before the knock, you’ll have a final mailing to remind you to get to it.  

 All the funds received from the federal or state government for all sorts of  programming, the number of representatives we have in Congress, schools, roads, human services, all of it and more comes from the census count. The numbers from this count will govern our fair share for the next decade. How old are you now? Add ten to your age and that’s how old you will be when the next opportunity to count will happen. Think about it, it’s important! Look at what’s happening nationally with the pandemic, the economy in shambles, high unemployment and the bill yet to be paid. Want to be on the short end of it because you didn’t reply?

Need help with this? Let us know, 413.458.8250 and we’ll see what we can do.

By the way, as of the end of June, Williamstown has responded at a 65.3% rate, a drop from 2012 and leaving us 7th overall in the county. Really? We have nearby neighboring communities who are beating us here so c’mon Williamstown, get it done and lets be #1! 

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, you may know them as MEMA, have issued new guidelines for travellers heading out of state for vacations this summer. Here is the exact wording; “Effective Wednesday, July 1, all travelers arriving in Massachusetts, including residents returning home, are instructed to self-quarantine for 14-days. This guidance does not apply to travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York or New Jersey. Additionally, workers designated by the federal government as essential critical infrastructure workers are also exempt from this directive.

Travelers who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 are instructed to not travel to Massachusetts. 

All visitors and residents of Massachusetts are also reminded that the use of masks or face coverings in public places where individuals cannot socially distance from others remains required.

These new guidelines replace previously announced Massachusetts travel guidance. 

You all knew that this would happen right?

Last Monday we talked a bit about Goodwill efforts in the community coming back from Covidization and here’s another good piece of news from them. The Goodwill Truck is back in action and will be in the parking lot at the Milne Library on the first 3 Sundays each month from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. I have some clothing accumulated to give them…how about you?

 Call Maryam Kamangar at 431.442.0061, ext. 22 with questions or for information.

Now, if you were wondering, it’s dump sticker time and yes, you need one. You can order one online at, get this address, trashtags@williamstownma.gov, or click the Online Payments button at the town website www.williamstownma.gov, or mail a request to the collectors office at 31 North Street or drop a note with payment in the slot at Town Hall. It’s $120 for a primary tag and $20 for an  additional tag. The dump is open on Friday when the rest of the Town offices, including us, are closed, but they’ll be closed on Saturday July 4th. Also-no meals delivery from the school Friday this week either.

Happy 4th of July in advance y’all! Talk next week!

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Monday June 29th, 2020

It simply cannot be the end of June already can it…?

Don’t forget, there’s a Blood Drive at the Williamstown Historical Museum, tomorrow, Tuesday, June 30 from 9am – 2:30pm. They’re looking for healthy donors without Covid symptoms. They’d like participant donors to schedule in advance to avoid lines and congestion.  To schedule an appointment today call (413) 447-2597 x 2 or email camuso@bhs1.org

Speaking of the Museum, they’re in week 9 of 9 in the spring scavenger hunt and this time they’re talking about block houses, specifically the one which stood once upon a time in Williamstown. Do you know where this might be? Go find it!

Goodwill Industries tell us that despite the pandemic and all the associated mess they’re still dedicated to helping just a little differently. They’re hosting “Virtual Employability Workshops”  offered July 28-30, August 25-28 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. If you’re interested, email them here ; missionservices@goodwill-berkshires.org You could also make a phone call to  Kathy Anker at 413-442-0061 x19

The Goodwill Suit Your Self Program is now offering curbside service. If you, or someone you know has a job interview coming up, you can dress for success! Interested folks should contact their supporting agencies to be connected with the program or you can fill out an online application, here’s a link to the website; www.missionservices@goodwill-berkshires.org  

Speaking of job hunting, the North Adams Career Center is available for assistance with resumes, job search, and interview preparation. Email them at the mission services address above for information or call them at  413-442-0061 x14 to make an appointment to meet with someone.

Much to everyone’s dismay, or maybe I should say continued dismay,  the Covidization of the world has cancelled lots of opportunities all over including our hometown 4th of July fireworks. OK, as my mother would have said;”whatever”. Fear not, the holiday will not pass without some events and recognition. Check out the Chamber of Commerce website, Sue has posted all sorts of information on virtual and outside events happening this weekend in Williamstown. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t rain…

OK, here’s your food news for the week;

The  mobile food pantry from the FoodBank of Western Massachusetts, usually held in North Adams on the first and third Fridays each month is cancelled for this week. There is no plan to reschedule. Holiday you know?

Williamstown Farmers Market – Essentials!, the virtual market is accepting orders at www.WFMEssentials.org  weekly from 10:00  Monday  until 7PM on Wednesday . Pick up is from 11am until 1pm  on Saturday. Orders are pre-bagged, pre-sorted, you’ll find them in the parking lot behind the Williamstown Elementary School.

Berkshire Grown  has a link to  all sorts of different farms and food sources. Here’s that link: https://berkshiregrown.org/shop-local-now/

The North Adams Farmers market is open, here’s the link  with order information:-www.Facebook.com/NorthAdamsFarmersMarket/ 

The Salvation Army Food Pantry on  River Street in North Adams is in operation Tuesday-12:00-3:00. Please use the front door

The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry at the St. Elizabeth Parish Center on Holden Street is open  Wednesday, 10:00-2:00 and 3:30-5:30. Plenty of parking. Their phone message says that they’ll deliver if you don’t have access to transportation, call them between 9:30 and 1:30 on Wednesdays for delivery. Here’s the contact information; 413.664.0123 or via email at;

northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com  

 The Community Bible Church Food Pantry, 160 Bridges Road, Williamstown, has food and are happy to share. Call Phyllis Babcock (413) 663-6094 and she will meet you at church at your convenience.

The Williamstown Food Pantry at St Patrick/St Raphael Church, 9:00-12:00 Wednesday. Southworth St. Same procedure, circle the church,, stay in your car, someone will help. Walkers to the front of the line, you go first. 

Berkshire Food Project-take-out only on M-W-and F. Enter through the breezeway and exit from the dining room out to Summer Street. Wear a mask to participate and this includes while waiting in line and practice Social Distancing. BFP will provide a mask if you don’t have one. The number of folks allowed inside is currently limited, there will be a count. BFP staff will open the doors for you, you’ll only be touching your food. There are also no restroom facilities available for use at this time.. https://www.berkshirefoodproject.org/

Check out Jane’s Exercise Class # 12 now on Willinet. www.willinet.org 

Just a note to thank everyone for being courteous to their neighbors, wearing your masks and social distancing. The Covid numbers are on the rise in other places but fortunately not here. Keep up the good work!

Brian O’Grady

Wednesday, June 24th, 2020

Thank you mask makers and shoppers!

The Lancet, an English medical journal was quoted recently by CNN  (in my iphone Apple news feed) as indicating that if people practice social distancing  without a facemask your chances of contracting Coronavirus is about 17.4% however…the study further indicates that transmission chances are reduced to 3.1% when a face mask is worn. The CDC now says that it’s pretty convinced that 40% of transmissions occur before people feel sick. 

So…are masks important? You betcha!

When this COVID-19  crisis started we had exactly 12 masks here in Harper. We purchased them a few years-yes, years-ago for use during random clinics along the way but never used them. Most of our friends and neighbors were in the same category. Who knew? While we set about looking to find masks, a serious number of community residents contacted us and asked if we could use their help in creating cloth face covers for the community. We were quite happy to accept their assistance. The people listed here represent the individuals who have taken the time and in some cases, used their own resources and in all cases, their personal skills to create face coverings which may have actually saved lives. When you see them, thank them for their efforts. 

Madeline Burdick

Alison Case

Bonnie Clark

Melissa Cragg

Jennifer Howlett

Mary Johnson

Mary King

Jeanne Marklin

Fern Murtaugh

Mercedes Nawrocki

Polly Macpherson

Nancy Sacco

Margo Sanger

Mary Strout

Anne Singleton

Sharron William

Then there are  the members of the Williams Mask Initiative who organized sewers within the Williams community to create face coverings, helped arrange collection, distribution and delivery of masks to where they were needed across the whole of Northern Berkshire;

Rachel Cross

Chole Henderson 

Julia Pham

And…

Thank you shoppers!

When this all started back in early March the majority of people who lived here in Williamstown managed shopping on their own. I mean, really, don’t you just want to go and look at everything yourself? Of course you do!

Then the Coronavirus came to Massachusetts and everything changed. While many elder Townies decided that they were not  staying home and continued to shop, some during designated hours, others whenever the need arose. Others opted for delivery or curbside. Have to eat right? 

Then there were other people who, generally due to limitations brought on by an organic something which weakened their immune system, couldn’t safely negotiate food shopping regardless of when. We asked for volunteers and into the mess isolation created stepped some very brave people who were willing to go “into the storm” as they say to shop for their homebound neighbors. So, when you see these people, thank them too!

Carolyn Brooks

Liz Costley

Trish Gorman

Kathleen Hakes

Valerie Hall

Carmel Kushi

Susan Mahler

Jim Mahon

Nicole Methot

Karyn O’Toole

Jennifer Swoap

We couldn’t do  it without you. Thank you very much!

Brain O’Grady

Updates, Monday June 22nd, 2020

Happy Summer!

The worst thing about summer is that the days get shorter going forward. Right?  Otherwise, it’s all good!

Here’s the food news for the week.

The Mobile Food Pantry sponsored by the FoodBank of Western Ma will be in Adams in the Visitor Center parking lot on Tuesday, tomorrow, June 23rd from 10-11:00. Stay in your car, they’ll come to you.

Williamstown Farmers Market – Essentials!, the virtual market is accepting orders at www.WFMEssentials.org  weekly from 10:00  Monday  until 7PM on Wednesday . Pick up is from 11am until 1pm  on Saturday. Orders are pre-bagged, pre-sorted, you’ll find them in the parking lot behind the Williamstown Elementary School, in front of the Youth Center entry. The market is pre-order and pickup, no on site shopping yet but they’re able to provide home delivery within a 7-mile radius of market orders – please, don’t use the delivery option unless you are unable to get to the market!  

Berkshire Grown  has a link to  all sorts of different farms and food sources. Here’s that link: https://berkshiregrown.org/shop-local-now/

The North Adams Farmers market is open, here’s the link  with order information:-www.Facebook.com/NorthAdamsFarmersMarket/ 

The Salvation Army Food Pantry on  River Street in North Adams is in operation Tuesday-12:00-3:00. Please use the front door

The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry is still in the St. Elizabeth Parish Center on Holden Street and open  Wednesday, 10:00-2:00 and 3:30-5:30. Plenty of parking. Their phone message says that they’ll deliver if you don’t have access to transportation, call them between 9:30 and 1:30 on Wednesdays for delivery. Here’s the contact information; 413.664.0123 or via email at;

northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com  

 The Community Bible Church Food Pantry, 160 Bridges Road, Williamstown, has food and are happy to share. Call Phyllis Babcock (413) 663-6094 and she will meet you at church at your convenience.

The Williamstown Food Pantry at St Patrick/St Raphael Church, 9:00-12:00 Wednesday. Southworth St. Same procedure, circle the church,, stay in your car, someone will help. Walkers to the front of the line, you go first. 

Berkshire Food Project  meals are still take-out only on M-W-and F. Enter through the breezeway and exit from the dining room out to Summer Street. Must wear a mask to participate and this includes while waiting in line. Practice Social Distancing while waiting. BFP will provide a mask if you don’t have one. The number of folks allowed inside is currently limited, there will be a count. BFP staff will open the doors for you, you’ll only be touching your food. There are also no restroom facilities available for use at this time.. https://www.berkshirefoodproject.org/

The Brown Bag monthly delivery will be this week, Friday, June 26th. They’ll be arriving at Harper sometime after one and then we’ll be distributing them to you so watch for us! If you’re not yet a Brown Bag participant and are interested call us here at Harper, 458.8250, for information. There is a brief application process and there are eligibility questions.

Check out Jane’s Exercise Class # 11 now on Willinet. Hope you’ve all been following along, eventually there will be a quiz!

By the way, since it’s actually summer, please wear your sunscreen and tick spray!

Brian O’Grady