Around Amherst: Woman’s Club Flower Show heralds spring

—Submitted Photo

—Submitted Photo

—Submitted Photo

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 03-24-2024 2:15 PM

AMHERST — Spring’s arrival is being celebrated by the Amherst Woman’s Club, which is holding its annual Flower Show and Sale on Saturday at the Hills Memorial Club House, 35 Triangle St.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature classic flower arrangements, tulips, potted plants and garden gifts, with donations to the fundraiser by area suppliers, including Atkins Farms Country Market in Amherst, as well as Gardener’s Supply Co., Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Big Y Supermarket and Stop & Shop.

At 1 p.m., there will be a “landscaping your yard” presentation.

Admission is $5 at the door or online at amherstwomansclub.org/events. Treats, tea sandwiches and tea will also be available.

The money raised at the event is used to provide college scholarships and grants to service agencies. Last year scholarships were awarded to two high school students attending Northeastern University and Suffolk University, with other money going to the Welcome Home Refugee Resettlement program and Family Outreach of Amherst.

Groundbreaking for school

A ceremonial groundbreaking for the new $98.2 million elementary school to be built at the Fort River School site on South East Street takes place Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

District 1 Councilor Cathy Schoen, who chairs the Elementary School Building Committee, told the Town Council this week that there is excitement around the new building that will open in September 2026 and replace both Fort River and Wildwood schools.

“We have an amazing school that we’re building, thanks to all the residents,” Schoen said. “It’s an innovative school with creative places for indoor and outdoor learning and play.”

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Actual construction will begin when a contractor is hired over the summer. The three-story school will have a capacity of 575 students, with five classrooms per grade, and will be net-zero in its energy use, with ground-source heat pumps and photovoltaic panels.

DPW projects, purchases

Completing the design of the North Amherst intersection for $450,000 is among capital needs being reviewed by the Joint Capital Planning Committee.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Guilford Mooring told the committee the money will be enough to finish the design of a revised Pine, North Pleasant and Meadow streets intersection and do wetlands flagging, permitting and a final survey.

“We want to try wrap that up and get something going with a project soon to fix that intersection," Mooring said.

Mooring said a new traffic control system has improved bottlenecks at the location. “Since we've put it in in North Amherst, we haven't had as many complaints — it seems to be working much better with this sytem,” Mooring said.

Committee members questioned spending $250,000 to buy a new sidewalk plow, likely a Holder model.

Mooring said the plow will be one of two doing sidewalks downtown and along West Street from East Hadley Road to Hampshire College. “What we find is if we don't have two machines out there we don't get it done as quickly as people want and as people expect for school to start,” Mooring said.

Appointments

Several residents will be joining town committees as recommended by Town Manager Paul Bockelman and approved by the Town Council this week.

Karen Blum of Tanglewood Road is joining the Design Review Board, with Bockelman writing that she “understands the role of design in building a sense of community and appreciates the town’s rich history, community spirit, and the elevated level of public engagement.” Blum is taking the position of Catharine Porter, who has served on the board since 2015.

Alex Lefebvre of North Prospect Street is rejoining the Jones Library Building Committee, after being a library trustee representative. “She is committed to addressing the shortfalls and gaps in the town’s library spaces and resources and providing access to services, so we are not leaving behind our fellow community members who are in the most need,” Bockelman wrote.

Rachel Loffler of Bay Road, a registered landscape architect and principal at Berksire Design Group in Northampton, will be on the Conservation Commission, bringing expertise from presenting to commissions throughout the region.

And Bruce Coldham of Pine Street, an architect and member of the Planning Board, is a new member of the Elementary School Building Committee. 

RISE program

A free nine-week leadership program, in partnership with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality Amherst Recreation, begins Saturday for Amherst middle schoolers. 

The town’s Department of Equity and Inclusion, the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service and Amherst Police are partnering with the national nonprofit that focuses on using sports to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations.

Leadership sessions will be led by Maria Vega, a RISE facilitator and Morning Movement and Mentoring leader.

“Using sports as a vehicle for change is the mission of RISE and I wholeheartedly believe in it,” Vega said in a statement. “We are all different, but sports are a shared language that can be used to understand each other.”

“This program will provide us with the ability to forge meaningful relationships with our youth, where we ordinarily wouldn’t have this opportunity,” said interim Police Chief Gabriel Ting.

RISE programming will take place at the Amherst Regional Middle School gym on weekends through May 18. For more information, contact Amherst Recreation outreach coordinator Becky Demling at 413-259-3151 or demlingb@amherstma.gov. To register, go to amherstmarec.org.

Meetings

WEDNESDAY: Residents Advisory Committee, 10 a.m., Town Room, Town Hall.

THURSDAY: Zoning Board of Appeals, 6 p.m.