Blog - Williamstown, MA
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Updates, Thursday May 14th, 2020

Hey!  Another Williamstown business is turning its lights back on!  Ramuntos at the Log on Spring Street is reopening for Takeout and Delivery starting today! They”ll  open every Thursday-Sunday 12-8pm.  You can order by calling (413) 884-6073. Here’s their Facebook and website information; https://www.facebook.com/TheLogbyRamuntos/ or https://ramuntos.com/williamstown-ma/ You’ll find their menus here. And in case you missed it the last time, the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce has a full list of open businesses here in Billsville and you can locate these on their site at: www.williamstownchamber.com 

 The North Adams  Mobile Food Pantry sponsored by the FoodBank of Western Mass will distribute tomorrow at the American Legion on American Legion Drive in NA, 10AM to 11AM. Additionally. The monthly Brown Bag program, another program of the FoodBank of Western Mass is next Friday, May 22. Those of you who applied to the food bank for access to the Brown Bag program need to let us know if you’re enrolled by next Thursday, May 21, so we can add you to the recipient list. More to follow next week. Thanks!

The Williamstown Historical museum is in week three of their marker scavenger hunt. There is a new marker to find and read about, I think this is the third installment in the series. It will send me off looking for Ike’s gravestone sometime soon…you’ll have to read the materials at www.williamstownhistoricalmuseum.org  to see what I’m talking about. Pretty cool grave marker I think, by the way…I like old stone art!

Calling all Yogis! Our Harper Yoga instructor, Mary Edgerton, has been recording classes for us and posting them on Willinet-you’ve also accessed them here on this page. Well, how about a live Yoga class? On Wednesday mornings, 9:30-10:30 live on Zoom!  Alright, it’s not like being here but it’s live.For those who haven’t used Zoom before, It’s really not that hard to use. You’ll get an invite with directions on what to click,  hit that button a little ahead of time-you don’t want to be late for class ( you know how we are about latecomers) and presto! You’re in! Interested folks should contact Mary directly at; maryedgerton1@gmail.com and she’ll invite you to class! Classes start Wednesday May20th.

Now just because lots of official activities are temporarily asleep, the necessary business of government grinds on. There is an election coming next month,or, should I say at the beginning of summer…on June 23rd. You can vote early by mail if you want, f however first you need to request a ballot, either by filling out the actual Early Ballot Application form, copies of which can be found at the front door to town hall, here at the Harper Center or downloaded from the official Williamstown municipal website; www.williamstownma.gov . If you’re unable to access any of these options, you can send a written, signed, note with your actual signature, gotta be signed folks, that’s part of the exercise,  note to the Town Clerk, Nicole Pedercini at 31 North Street in town. Fairly simple right?

Then you can vote for the people you want to represent the community in various offices.

 Now, moving on  from this into my next bit of info-the Williamstown League of Women’s Voters  have annual candidates forums where people competing for various offices answer questions regarding their positions on issues facing the town as we go forward. Right now a 5 year posting to the Williamstown Planning Board is up for grabs and the candidates for this spot have spoken with the League-it’s recorded and available for viewing on Willinet- www.willinet.org  and given the importance of planning, and the length of the term, I strongly recommend that everyone watch the presentation here and see what the candidates are saying. Informed voting right?

Finally, we have heard that alcohol is flying off the shelves all over the place these days. Given the enormity of the pandemic and the daily drumming of not so good news, a beverage or two occasionally can take the edge off. Unfortunately, some folks may be  just taking it a bit too far too often. It happens. For folks who need to talk about substances, Al-Anon is still out there doing meetings-but by phone. Phone-In Meetings are Thursdays & Sundays at 7:00pm. The call-in information is 1-401-379-0339 PIN# 159328. Share the information with people who need it.

Now get out there and sit in the sun! Vitamin D you know!

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Wednesday May 13th, 2020

Just a reminder to folks who think that they may have come in contact with the Coronavirus and need to see a physician for testing, please don’t call us.Our van is not equipped to handle the virus, our drivers should not be exposed. If you need transportation because you’re not feeling well and think you’re infected, call 911 and tell the responder. They will dispatch medical personnel with the training and protective equipment to manage the situation.. Thank you for your consideration.

Now, you may remember that if you need to be screened and are transportation challenged, you can call the Berkshire Medical Center  screening line at 855.262.5465. This hotline is operational from 7AM to 7PM daily.They can schedule your test with members of the COVID Response Intervention Team (CRITT) and will actually come to you.

Hopefully there will be wider availability soon.

Here’s an update on a past update…The Williamstown Affordable Housing Trust has partnered with Berkshire Housing to distribute emergency rental assistance funds to Williamstown residents who have incurred  financial difficulties due to COVID-19. These grants, typically up to $500 but can go to $1000in cases of extreme need will be distributed to qualified applicants until the funds are expended. Qualified applicants are renters who are Williamstown residents and are or below 100% of area median income-and this is a calculation based upon government figures and household size. Online applications are available from the Berkshire Housing website at www.berkshirehousing.com or by calling 413.499.4887 to leave a message. Paper applications are also available at the Williamstown Food Pantry at St.Patrick/St.Raphael and at the Post Office on Spring Street.

Here’s a stress busting article I picked off from a Williams events postingwww.greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_our_brains_can__peace_in_a _crisis 

I know. Isolation can be tough. There are resources to help alleviate the sensation that the walls are closing in. You’ll find some of them posted in prior updates on the town website or facebook pages. Better yet you can call us at 458.8250. What’s better than another voice on the other end of the line, right?

There was an article in the New York Times on Monday talking about how effective masks or face coverings are in containing the spread of this virus. Personally, I think that they’ve been a key part in keeping all of us free from this scourge. This morning we delivered  some to a neighboring housing facility (and there are more headed your way), a couple to other community members and we have a few on hand with more coming. If you don’t have a mask, call us here at Harper. We’ll make sure that you get one. Don’t be one of those silly people who won’t wear one. 

This is my granddaughter Vivian. She’s 2. If she can wear one, so can you!

Oh. And don’t forget to wash your hands often, especially if you’ve been out somewhere!

Brian O’Grady

Updates, Monday May 11th, 2020

Just a reminder that you’re required to be wearing a mask when you go out in public if you cannot social distance. I went to get groceries on Saturday and most people were wearing them. Some were, unfortunately, non compliant. I didn’t want to be the first to get my lights knocked out for asking so hopefully stores will police this…

OK, here’s some food news for this week;

The FoodBank of Western MAssachusetts Mobile Food Pantry will be in Adams tomorrow, Tuesday May 12th from 10-11AM. They’re in the parking lot at the Visitor Center/Adams COA building. Stay in your car and they’ll wait on you.

The North Adams version is Friday May 15, from 10-11AM at the American Legion on American Legion Drive in North Adams 

Salvation Army Food Pantry, River Street in North Adams -Tuesday-12:00-3:00-Please use front door

The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry at the temporary location in the Parish Center on Holden Street,(it’s across from the Big Y) Wednesday, 10:00-2:00 and 3:30-5:30. They are also looking for volunteers to help out-you can reach them  at northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com or through their website www.friendshipfoodpantry.org if you’re interested in helping

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, 9:30-12:00 Wednesday. Southworth St. Use Mission Park Drive to circle around  the church, stay in your car, someone will help. Walkers to the front of the line, they’ll try to help you first.

Berkshire Food Project: 11:30-1:00, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Grab and Go only meals available, there will be two meals prepared on Monday and Wednesday to have one for Tuesday and Thursday as well. Please don’t enter the building! The meals will be available under the tent at the Kitchen entrance on Summer Street. They’re across from the Post Office in North Adams.

The Williamstown Farmers Market is returning, albeit electronically!  At 10AM this morning, Williamstown Farmers Market – Essentials! went live at this address; www.WFMEssentials.org  You can shop by food category or by  vendor: They’ll  have fresh baked goods, pork, veggies, maple syrup, cheese, eggs, etc..all that good market stuff!

You can order until 7PM , Wednesday May 13th, but as this is the first effort of the year get there quickly before everything is gone… pick up will be 11am – 1pm Saturday, May 16th, at the Williamstown Elementary School to pick up your pre-bagged, pre-sorted order.. The market is PRE-ORDER ONLY so there will be no ordering or shopping on the day of the market.

They’re requesting that only one person pick up orders, observe social distancing and wear masks. There will be directions on where to go, pick up, etc, it’s all one way of course. They’re also able to offer limited delivery for folks unable due to illness, timing of the pick up, lack of transport  in a 7 mile radius of the WES, all of Williamstown and most of North Adams. This means that it’s not a delivery convenience service. And-as the website is new, expect bugs. It will smooth out as time goes on. 

 The North Adams Farmers market is also open, here’s the address with order informationl-www.Facebook.com/NorthAdamsFarmersMarket/ 

Now, if you’re in the mood for a ride,Lakeview Orchard will be opening May 14th.I love going here in the fall to pick apples but of course, they’re open seasonally as well.The website doesn’t reflect the opening yet-well, as of this morning anyway, but here’s the link for future reference; http://lakevieworchard.com/

The usual open schedule has been Covid-ized and subsequently changed for May & June.

May and June Schedule:

OPEN – Thursday – Monday  9 A.M. TO 5 P.M

They’ll follow up for July when July approaches.

Jane Jezouit has  new exercise videos out on Willinet Vimeo to follow along and exercise at home. Number 5 and 6 are available on line, here’s the link;

https://vimeo.com/willinet

See you later,

Brian O’Grady

Update, Friday May 8th, 2020

 May is Older American Month. It’s a time when we celebrate longevity as a significant achievement, as well as all of the accomplishments the preceding generations have left for us to build upon. We have a strong foundation thanks to our parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, all the people who came first.

May is also National Nurses Month. Given what’s out there, what can I say? One thing that never changes is our nurses – they are always there for us, caring, brave… They work hard every single day and night, across long hours  to make the world a better, safer place. Nurses bring comfort and hope to the people they care for while they’re  at the lowest, most perilous stages of life. To say that they have  enormous responsibility today would be an understatement. If you see a nurse this month, thank them for everything they do.

So everyone is masked up right? Joining the masked march? The bandit parade? Good. We’ve been told to wear them and hopefully, everyone is.If you can’t maintain social distancing, at least six feet between people  I went to the store yesterday and everyone had one.Good for us. Keep the virus away…Anyway, if you don’t have a mask, let us know here at Harper and we’ll get one to you. 413.458.8250 is the number, if we’re not answering, leave a message. We’ll get you one. 

Next I’d like to call your attention to the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce website where you’ll find that Director Sue Briggs has listed all the local restaurants who are open and serving delicious food in a takeout or delivery format. Just click on the logo and each business website will open with all the pertinent details you’ll need. There are also local businesses listed as well. Here’s the website address;  www.williamstownchamber.com  Click on the “shop local’ bar and you’re there.

Might be a thought for Mother’s Day eh? Can’t go out, so take out!

Now some great outdoor sports news! Golf courses are opening all over the place! A great excuse to go out for a walk in the countryside and take some of that pent up, housebound vibe out on little white orbs!. I saw someone at the landfill this morning who was heading out to play today. But…golf courses are considered non-essential. There will be differences and limitations.There are restrictions on staffing and the club houses, locker rooms, etc are closed to the public.

 Additionally:

No caddies,  or golf carts, push or pull carts only! Social distancing applies, no more than four players to a group,There must be a 15 minute tee off space between groups and golfers must stay in their car until 15 minutes before their tee time and must return to their car immediately following play. Online and remote payment options must be utilized  All golfers must use their own golf clubs, no sharing or rentals allowed

Flag sticks must remain in the hole. Hole liners must be raised so picking a ball out of the hole doesn’t occur. ( I guess this means that scores will go down right)  Bunker rakes and ball washers must be removed or covered. Stay out of the bunker. No problem. (he lies) Practice putting green, driving range, and chipping areas are off limits..

Maintenance staff will be allowed to work on the course-masked of course.

More good news for outside sports. Here’s a note from Williams ; “Effective May 8th, the college is opening the recreational tennis courts along Southworth Street and the track at Weston Field for individuals to use at their own risk. We hope this will give members of the campus and local community opportunities for recreation and exercise. In addition to the usual rules governing the use of these facilities, everyone will be expected to practice social distancing and other public health protocols. Please use particular care to maintain a safe distance on the track” 

I know there’s a gang of tennis players and walkers among the Harper citizenry. Another excuse to get outside! Maybe a Mother’s Day match?

Bee Friendly Williamstown is hosting a ZOOM talk on gardening for pollinators, with Peggy MacLeod. She’s the co-founder of the Western Mass Pollinator Network. Her talk is called; “Reinventing Our Yards as Pollinator Sanctuaries” and it features slides and conversation on how to “evolve our landscape practices to create natural spaces that support pollinators and other wildlife-and why” Here’s the link;

Tuesday, May 12, at 2:00 PM EST  

ZOOM MEETING LINK: https://zoom.us/j/98989485151?pwd=ODl5N0cxNjJEYXVOZ2tqWFcrRUloQT09

Meeting ID: 989 8948 5151

Password: 611642 

For more information, email: beefriendlywilliamstown@gmail.com or call 413-441-1979 

Here’s the link to Western Mass pollinators; https://www.wmassbees.org/

Have a great weekend. Happy Mother’s Day!

Brian O’Grady

 Update, Tuesday  May 5th, 2020

 Happy Cinco de Mayo!  And it’s not the Mexican version of Independence Day, like our Fourth of July…On May 5, 1862, the Mexican army defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla. This single military battle signified defeat of a major European colonial power, and a victory for the Mexican people. This huge victory is the root of Cinco de Mayo. The celebration of Mexican Independence  is celebrated on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo has come to signify Hispanic and Mexican pride and a time to celebrate the rich culture.

Today, this holiday is celebrated by Mexicans, and especially the Hispanic community in the U.S. It is a time of song, dance, partying, and in general a time to be proud to be of Hispanic descent.

And the sun is shining!

The Williamstown Historical Museum, always a source of interesting local information, is offering an opportunity  to learn  about a different war and how it impacted folks locally. Fifty years ago, the largest Vietnam War protest  in Williamstown took place –  a student strike at Williams. Local historian, Dusty Griffin, has written an essay titled “Williamstown and Vietnam: The War at Home,” which detailing opposition to the War in Williamstown.  Dusty’s essay provides context to the local antiwar movement and presents  an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the events that took place on the Williams College Campus and in Williamstown in the 1960s as opposition to the war grew.  I actually went to a war protest by accident with my cousins. There was a newspaper article about the 101st Airborne paratroopers doing an exercise and parachuting down to earth so we went to see them. The protesters showed up in force, the full panoply of 1960’s anti war protesters, hair, flowers, hippies on the march!  At one point I looked up and saw boots dropping at me, it seemed so anyway, and being much smaller and more nimble than now, I scampered away unscathed, not that I was in any real danger. I think that’s as close as I got to a protest or the war…

The WTF Community Works workshop a couple weeks ago was so  successful that they’ll be doing another, but different style, workshop next week.  The next workshop will be broadcast to Facebook Live, in addition to having a few participants on camera via zoom. HERE is the link to info for Facebook Live  This workshop will take place on Monday, May 11 from 5-5:45pm. If you’re interested in being considered to participate on Zoom, fill out this form by 12 noon tomorrow (Wednesday, May 6). 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 they are able to offer you a spot by the end of day on Wednesday, May 6.

 The workshop, of course, will still be broadcast on Facebook, so anyone will be able to participate that way, no matter what! 

Participants will attend a trial session on Zoom this Friday, May 8th, to troubleshoot any technical issues ! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out. They’re also doing a phone workshop on  May 13 at 5pm via phone. For the phone workshop, anyone interested should email Hayley at community@wtfestival.org or call Laura at 212.395.9090×101.

While many of the people reading these updates are retired, semi-retired or volunteering some folks are looking for work and may have been knocked out of the workforce by COVID-19. If you’re over 50 and are looking, Massachusetts COA is pleased to announce that the 50+ Job Seekers Program is going statewide! That means Berkshire residents who are, afterall, living in Massachusetts and not a neighboring state…Now that the program has been completely moved to a virtual platform, any Massachusetts resident 50+ years old can register and participate.  We’re  directing  those who are unemployed and want to participate in programs such as this to this website. Each session is guided by a professional employment coach.

 www.50plusjobseekers.org

While we’re at it, the same group, 50 + Job Seekers announces the first of four Town Hall style workshops. May is Older American’s month and supporting older workers is key. These are turbulent economic times due to COVID-19 and Dr. William Sharp-he’s on the faculty at Northeastern- has volunteered his time to speak about stress management. This program is open to MA residents 50 and older and FREE of charge, here’s a flyer advertising a pretty cool workshop about dealing with stress at this time of season…here’s  the flyer  link..

LIHEAP (Fuel Assistance): This deadline has been extended to May 31, 2020 for new applications. As of the date of this brief, there has been no announcement of increased benefit for current participants. Contact Berkshire Community Action Council at 413.663.3014 is the North Adams number, or you can call the main line at 413.445.4503, the website address is

www.bcacinc.org 

Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District will be at Whitney’s Farm , 1775 South State St, Cheshire, MA.Saturday, May 30th , 2020  10:00am to Noon. Remember when Linda came to the Harper Center and talked about these bins, 80 gallon Earth Machines,  and raffled one off? Now they’re for sale, just in time for garden season. The District is providing  home composting bins that cost $25.00 to member Town’s residents while supplies last. That means Williamstown residents.   

 Questions lcernik@nbswmd.com or call 413-743-8208  Linda Cernik,  to place your order.

Finally, one of our neighbors received a call from the 857 area code but the message said “Boston MA” and not COVID-19. I called it for her, just in case, you know…and the person answering said “Thank you for calling the fundraising center” I guess the message is, if it doesn’t say COVID-19, it ain’t them. 

Oh…I did report them to Mass DPH…

Enjoy the sun!

Brian O’Grady

Update, Monday May 4th, 2020

Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order 31 requiring everyone to wear a mask in public if you are unable to maintain the 6 feet between yourself and others as social distancing indicates starting Wednesday, May 6, 2020. That doesn’t mean that you have to wear a mask if you go for a walk, a run, or out with the dog, only if you’re in close proximity to other people. Grocery stores, Walmart, pharmacy, anywhere you’re likely to encounter people and will be unable to distance-like when you’re cashing out, right?

Here’s the link the Governor’s order;

May 1, 2020, Masks and Face Coverings Order

There are a lot of “whereas” this and that but the words you want are on page 2 in the middle. 

By the way, the BRTA says that all customers using the BRTA bus and/or paratransit must wear a mask or face covering over their mouth and nose, as recommended by the CDC, while onboard any BRTA vehicle. They’re also stressing that riders should practice social distancing while riding on the bus; maintain space when seating. Additionally, they asked us to remind everyone that all riders must be traveling to a critical, essential destination. Critical trips are defined as work related, vital appointments, or necessary shopping trips. All riders are required to exit the bus at the end of the route, or your stated destination, and may not re-board the same vehicle for a return trip. Multiple or consecutive round trips are not permitted and riders who appear to be loitering will be asked to hit the road! It’s good to see that they’re still operating on a regular schedule despite all…

Now here’s the food news for the week.

Salvation Army Food Pantry, River Street in North Adams -Tuesday-12:00-3:00-Please use front door

The Al Nelson Friendship Center Food Pantry at the temporary location in the Parish Center on Holden Street,(it’s across from the Big Y) Wednesday, 10:00-2:00 and 3:30-5:30. They are also looking for volunteers to help out-you can reach them  at northernberkshireinterfaith@gmail.com or through their website www.friendshipfoodpantry.org if you’re interested in helping

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, 9:30-12:00 Wednesday. Southworth St. Use Mission Park Drive to circle around  the church, stay in your car, someone will help. Walkers to the front of the line, they’ll try to help you first.

Berkshire Food Project: 11:30-1:00, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Grab and Go only meals available, there will be two meals prepared on Monday and Wednesday to have one for Tuesday and Thursday as well. Please don’t enter the building! The meals will be available under the tent at the Kitchen entrance on Summer Street. They’re across from the Post Office in North Adams. 

So, we’ve all heard about the plan for the community tracing program being enacted in Massachusetts. The idea is to reach out to individuals who may have come into contact with COVID-19 in one way or another, through exposure to an infected person or having tested positive for the virus. They will be calling daily between 8AM and 8PM. The phone prefix they will use is either 833 or 857 and your phone will say that the message is from the MA COVID Team. If you receive a call from either of those special prefixes, answer it please! It’s not a scam. And don’t worry about your information getting out there. It’s totally confidential, it’s a medical record and your information won’t be shared with anyone at all.Nor will they release the names of anyone you’ve been in contact with.

Here’s a link to the Massachusetts website talking about Community Tracing. Check it out and pass it on. You never know who may need this: 

Learn about the Community Tracing Collaborative

Finally, the Williamstown Historical Museum has posted the second historical Town marker in their weekly scavenger hunt series, You can find it here;   www.facebook.com/williamstownhistoricalmuseum

www.williamstownhistoricalmuseum.org

Talk again soon,

Brian O’Grady