Saturday, July 22, 2017

Properties in Holyoke Revived by Efforts of Problem Property Group

City officials credit the Problem Property Group in Holyoke for improving coordination of city-wide blight remediation efforts including filing cases in Housing Court seeking the appointment of a receiver for vacant and blighted properties.

For 235 Oak Street, the necessity of a Receiver became certain after a Problem Property Group meeting during which several city officials shared data and reports detailing the long history of code violations, public complaints, and worsening conditions at the property.  On May 20, 2016, upon finding the property owner unable to correct the outstanding code violations, the Housing Court appointed AAD LLC as Receiver responsible for rehabilitation of the property.

“The Problem Property Group has vastly improved our capacity to identify problem properties, determine the appropriate course of action - whether receivership, administrative code enforcement, monetary fines, or tax title foreclosure- and collaboratively implement the process necessary to bring the property back into productive, code-compliant use.” says Assistant City Solicitor Paul Payer.

While rehabilitation at 235 Oak Street is ongoing, the neighborhood-wide impact of the Receivership program is most evident at recently completed projects. Beginning in late 2015, the property of 73-75 Belvidere Avenue was in total disarray. The property was full of trash, the roof was unstable, walls were unfinished, and the building overall was uninhabitable. JJS Capital Investment LLC was appointed receiver of 73-75 Belvidere Avenue and completed work on its comprehensive rehabilitation plan in January 2017. The Receiver foreclosed on its receiver expenses lien, listed the property for sale and completed sale to a private party in early March.  

The appointment of a receiver is a “last resort” remedy authorized under M.G.L. c. 111, section 127I, after an owner has failed to comply with administrative and court orders to correct violations of the State Sanitary Code.  The process to appoint a receiver is as follows:

  • Inspection of property to document violations of State Sanitary Code, State Building Code and city ordinances
  • Administrative order to correct the cited violations is issued to the property owner(s) and any bank with a mortgage interest.
  • City inspector conducts a re-inspection and issues ticket fines for outstanding code violations
  • City inspector may condemn the property as unfit for human habitat
  • The City Law Department files a Petition in Housing Court seeking enforcement of the State Sanitary Code
  • The Housing Court holds a hearing and may order the property owner to correct code violations
  • The City Law Department files a Motion to Appoint a Receiver if the property owner has failed to comply with the Court’s order to correct code violations
  • The Housing Court holds a hearing to determine whether appointment of a Receiver is necessary to bring the property into code compliance  
  • If appointed, the Receiver is responsible for cleaning and securing the property and must file a comprehensive rehabilitation plan within three weeks.
  • Every eight weeks, the Housing Court conducts a review hearing of the receivership.  Prior to each hearing, the Receiver submits a report of rehabilitation progress and expenses and the City performs a re-inspection to verify the Receiver's report.
  • The cost of the Receiver’s repairs constitute a lien on the property.  The Receiver’s lien has priority over all other liens, including mortgages, with the exception of tax liens for unpaid municipal real estate taxes and certain other state and federal tax liens.
  • If the Receiver’s lien is not paid by the Property Owner or Bank, the Receiver may ask the Court to authorize the Receiver to foreclose on the lien and seek recovery of Receiver expenses through a foreclosure auction sale or listing the property for sale.  

“The work that the Problem Property Group has done so far is exactly what we need to move the city in the right direction,” says Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. “All families deserve to live in great neighborhoods. As these city officials tackle these issues head on, I believe we will see vast improvements within the coming years. We will be able to attract new business and development in the city when our buildings and houses are ready for use.”

As of July 2017, the City of Holyoke has 12 active receiverships.  

Learn How Crops And Livestock Came To Puerto Rico At The Holyoke Public Library

Friday, July 21, 2017

Holyoke Medical Center Receives $100,000 From Hazen Paper Co. & The Hazen Family

The Hazen Paper Company and the Hazen Family contributed $100,000 towards the Holyoke Medical Center capital campaign, titled Care. Community. Commitment., for the new Emergency Department and Medical Office Building. The contribution will fund the Emergency Department Gardens.  
"Hazen Paper employs more than 200 people in Holyoke and we view Holyoke Medical Center as a vital resource for the health and safety of our employees. My father, my siblings and I were all born at Holyoke Hospital. The Hazen Family has deep ties in the community," said John H. Hazen, President of Hazen Paper Company. "Hazen Paper believes in supporting our community, which we also do by offering the 'World is Our Classroom' program, inviting every 5th grade student in Holyoke to spend the day in our factory learning how to make paper."
"We are very appreciative to the Hazen Family and the Hazen Paper Company for the continued, multi-generational support provided to the hospital," said Spiros Hatiras, President and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems. "Generous contributions from families and area companies allow us to make these types of investments in state-of-the-art facilities and new technologies."
The new emergency department, which opened on July 6, 2017, is a 21,460 square foot facility featuring a Center for Behavioral Health Emergency Services, 40 treatment areas, multi-patient trauma rooms, advance lifesaving equipment and a patient navigation service. The expanded facility is allowing the hospital to treat patients in a more efficient and private way.
In support of the emergency department our community deserves, the Holyoke Medical Center capital campaign has reached $2.25 million, of the $3 million goal. Anyone interested in helping with the Care. Community. Commitment. campaign is invited to call the hospital's Development Department at 413-534-2579.

Genuine Culture, LLC and Wistariahurst to Present Vibez For The Tribe

Shannon Community Safety Initiative Makes Strides in Holyoke

As one of eleven Charles E. Shannon Grant recipients, the Greater Holyoke Area stakeholders have been partnering since 2012 to address gang and youth violence in both Chicopee and Holyoke.

The strategies the Shannon Initiative implements include education and employment opportunities, case management and street outreach or intervention, positive youth development and recreation, and coordinating a law enforcement response through suppression.
In total, the Shannon Initiative has served 1,939 youth across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and has allocated approximately $480,000 towards the strategies previously mentioned.

Due to these programs, the Greater Holyoke Area has seen a decrease in simple assaults and robbery in youth. The past four years has seen a drop in simple assault arrests by 11.5% and a drop in robbery arrests by 42.0%.

The following are partners working together to address these issues: the Holyoke Police Department, both the Greater Holyoke & Chicopee Boys and Girls Clubs, CareerPoint, the NEARI/Jumpstart Program, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, the Holyoke Safe Neighborhood Initiative Basketball League, Holyoke High School, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“The Shannon partners offer a range of services that serve young people in a productive manner – helping to get them on a positive path to making better decisions for themselves and for their community.  The Program is about improving youth engagement and decreasing risk for violence and gang involvement, by providing youth with meaningful positive experiences, increased educational opportunities and connections to job prospects.” states Eileen Cavanaugh, the President of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke.

In their next steps towards improving the Holyoke/Chicopee community’s public safety and decreasing youth violence, the Shannon Initiative will be distributing a Community Assessment Survey to engage the citizens of the surrounding neighborhoods and focus energy towards providing resources to combat the problems residents see holding back their youth.

“There’s no question that the work the Shannon partners have done in Holyoke has made an impact,” says Mayor Morse. “By involving parents and youth in the community as well as a variety of different stakeholders, the initiative has been able to make great strides in workforce opportunities, public safety, and education. I’d like to thank all of the local partners for their contributions to this initiative. Even though we know that these things take time, I believe the decrease in violence and arrests we have seen thus far is a clear indication that we are on our way to building a much safer and successful community.”

To learn more about the Shannon Initiative, please visit:

Friday, July 14, 2017

37th Annual Catfish Derby Begins Tonight

Tonight beginning at 5:00 pm, the 37th Annual Catfish Derby will take place at 50 St. Kolbe Drive in Holyoke at the American Legion Post #351. This is the biggest catfish tournament in the entire Northeast.

Fishing will be open to the Connecticut river and all of its tributaries beginning at 7:00 pm and the tournament will go from tonight until 2:00 pm on Sunday, July 16th. First place is a prize of $300, with $1425 in total prize money from 1st - 20th place. There is also a Junior Division with 3 trophies and is open to 14 years old and younger.

Derby Headquarters and state pin Weigh-in station will be at 50 St. Kolbe Dr. Holyoke, MA.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hands-on Pastel Painting Workshop for Adults

The Holyoke Public Library , located at 250 Chestnut Street, in Holyoke, MA will host award-winning pastel artist Gregory John Maichack to present an adult hands-on workshop, “Pastel Paint the 45-Million- Dollar Flower,” on July 25, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. This pastel painting workshop is designed for sheer beginners to experienced artists. Seats may fill quickly so please call (413) 420-8101 to pre-register. Participants will freely experiment with hundreds of the artist’s professional grade pastels, pastel pencils, and pastel paper, in this fun pastel painting workshop.

In this new, highly researched two-hour workshop, participants have fun producing their own pastel painting of Georgia O’Keeffe’s elegant Jimson flower that sold for $45.4 million. Gregory Maichack is a seasoned pro at teaching pastel techniques, as recognized by the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) Boston; Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), and over 800 libraries and local cultural councils.

Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1 has been described as a vehicle for pure expression. Maichack will demonstrate again how beginners to accomplished artists can pastel paint easily using techniques of masters such as O’Keeffe. As always, all will keep their pastel paintings.

Mr. Maichack’s workshops have been so well-liked, many libraries and senior centers have booked and rebooked him, often twice a year. “What I heard through students’ comments reflects a teaching style that is rare: encouraging, positive and constructive, with information given in a style that students find approachable, accessible, and clear,” wrote Melinda Georgeson, Director of Education, Norman Rockwell Museum.

Artist Gregory John Maichack lives in western Holyoke. He is a portraitist and painter working primarily in pastels. Winner of the Award of Merit from the Bennington Center for the Arts: Impressions of New England Show 2003, he also was awarded the Savoir-faire Pastel Award from the Great Lakes Pastel Society. Maichack was commissioned by Westfield State College to paint the pastel portrait of the past president of Westfield State University, Doctor Frederick Woodward, which was unveiled at the dedication of the Woodward Center; and pastel painted dictionary great Charles Merriam, unveiled by Merriam-Webster Co. at Merriam-Gilbert Library. He has been in many national juried shows and was awarded numerous Massachusetts Cultural Council grants. In addition to portraiture, his still lifes and landscapes are represented by galleries from Kennebunkport, Maine to San Francisco, California. Maichack is accepting requests to do portraits, and various commissions to do pastel paintings. Please call (413) 532-3667 or e-mail Mr. Maichack at Visit his new web site at

Maichack has been a faculty member of the Museum Studio School in the Fine Arts Museum Quadrangle in Springfield, MA; and taught at Holyoke and Greenfield Community Colleges, Westfield State University, East Works, the MFA, Boston, and The Guild, Northampton. Maichack’s pastel paintings have been selected twice for the Annual National Exhibition of the Academic Artists Association and as a result Maichack was invited to be a member of this prestigious organization.

“This project is supported in part by a grant from the Holyoke Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.”

The event is free and open to the public. For further questions on this entertaining event, please contact or 413-420-8101.

Parking available along the street in front of the new entrance to the library and in generous lots adjacent to and immediately across the street from the library.