signAround Amherst: Schools getting nearly $200K toward another electric bus

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 01-04-2023 8:43 PM

AMHERST — A sizable portion of the costs associated with buying an electric school bus and a charger for the Amherst public schools are being covered as part of $1.8 million being provided to cities and towns through a state program.

The schools are getting $196,920 from Diesel Emission Reduction Act grants. Amherst’s was one of eight grants awarded by the state Department of Environmental Protection’s DERA Electric Solicitation program.

Superintendent Michael Morris said the money will go toward the roughly $450,000 total cost, with the remainder coming from town capital spending. If that comes together, the bus could be used on a daily route for elementary and secondary students, Morris said.

The grant follows one from 2016, when the schools received $400,000 from a pilot grant from the Department of Energy Resources’ Vehicle to Grid Electric School Bus program. That time, the schools acquired one bus and installed a charging station at Amherst Regional Middle School. That bus hit the road in 2017 and became the lone electric bus among the 10 district-owned buses in the fleet.

In 2019, the Town Council purchased a diesel- or gas-powered bus due to its cheaper cost, at the time less than one-third the cost of an electric bus.

For the Diesel Emission Reduction Act grants, MassDEP prioritized projects serving environmental justice populations, that drive technological and policy progress, and promote equitable geographic distribution across the state.

“Our administration understands that electrifying the transportation sector is vital as we continue down our path towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement. “This investment will improve air quality and expand the market for innovative transportation technologies.”

Listening session

The African Heritage Reparation Assembly is hosting a virtual community listening session with guest U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

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The session is open to all community members and will begin with remarks from McGovern and a brief educational program.

A previous listening session was held last fall at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.

For more information, go to www.engageamherst.org/AHRA.

Song and Story Swap

Dennis Picard, who recently retired after 27 years at Storrowton Village Museum in West Springfield, will be part of the Song and Story Swap Saturday.

The event, both virtual and in person, runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 165 Main St, with free parking at the rear of the building.

Picard has been a museum professional in the living history field for over 40 years, beginning his career in 1978 at Old Sturbridge Village. He has also been engaged as a historic trade craftsman and site interpreter at Hancock Shaker Village.

To register for the Zoom link, go to https://pvfs.us/register-for-swap.

Survival Center manager departs

Lisa Queenin, development manager for the Amherst Survival Center for the past 8½ years, is leaving her position with the organization.

“We are so sad to see Lisa go, so grateful for her incredible work at the center, and excited for her as she takes this next step with Girls on the Run!” the center posted on its Facebook page.

Historical Commission hearings

The Historical Commission will hold hearings beginning at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday on two demolition requests under the town’s demolition delay bylaw.

The first involves 117 Amity St., where Donald Fisher and Susan Haas are asking to take down an attached one-car garage and replace it with a new, larger garage.

The second is for 214 Pomeroy Lane, where Amherst Poor Farm LLC would like to raze a large timberframe barn and replace it with a new barn.

Meetings

MONDAY: Board of Registrars, 10 a.m., and Town Council, 6:30 p.m.

TUESDAY: CDBG Advisory Committee, 7 p.m.

THURSDAY: Board of Assessors, 9:30 a.m.

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