Monday, April 21, 2014

Mayor Morse Announces the Availability of Up to $1.5 million HOME funds

Mayor Alex B. Morse is pleased to announce the availability of up to $1.5 million in HOME funds for the development or rehabilitation of owner occupied or rental housing or for direct home buyer assistance in the City of Holyoke.
The City of Holyoke Office for Community Development is seeking proposals from qualified developers and community housing development organizations to expand the supply of decent and affordable housing for low and moderate income residents. The HOME Investment Partnership Program is funded by HUD and contains stringent requirements regarding the use of funds, developer capacity and experience, financial commitments, housing quality standards, and timelines.

Mayor Morse stated, "HOME funds enable the City to offer quality housing, to increase the residential tax base, and to allow more households to make the City of Holyoke their home."

Potential applicants are advised to contact the Office for Community Development at 413-322-5610 to request an electronic application. Applications are due by June 2, 2014. Additional information can be viewed at the Office for Community Development page at

Sunday, April 20, 2014

“The People’s College” Needs Your Support!

When Holyoke Public Library’s original building was dedicated in 1902, then President, William Whiting called it “The people’s college.” Today, that term still applies, but it needs help. It needs fair and equitable financial support from the State of Massachusetts. It needs you.

On March 31, at the Commonwealth’s annual Library Legislative Day attendees heard some very interesting reports, none more eye-opening than the information regarding Funding for Libraries.

The approved budget for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners for FY (Fiscal year), 2001 was $34,622,515. The total proposed budget for FY 2015 is
$22,735,499, a reduction of $11,877,016 in critically needed funding. It represents a loss of $7,206,576 in State Aid to Regional Libraries, a reduction in nearly $3 million in aid to local Public Libraries, including our own Holyoke Public Library. It also represents comparable reductions in funding for Library Technology and Resource Funding.

When you compare the value of the “real” dollars as appropriated in 2001, with the purchase power of a 2014-15 dollar, the losses are staggering. Is this progress? Hardly! Has any other Department in the State had to accept comparable losses in essential funding? Are the needs of other departments greater than those of the libraries all over the State?
That would be difficult to imagine, particularly when the use of public libraries is at an all time high, and growing! Public use of libraries throughout the state is increasing at all levels, for all services and for all age groups from toddlers to senior citizens.

What can you do about this inequitable treatment of all Massachusetts libraries? There is real logic in the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Well, it’s time to squeak, time to speak up. Let’s address this very real and serious situation. It is time for our legislators to hear our concerns. They are your voice in Boston, but they need to know your feelings, your genuine concerns about the effect these budget reductions are having in every community. Libraries all over the State have been reducing hours, they are understaffed, they are not even meeting minimum Municipal Appropriation Requirements of the Board of Library Commissioners, at the local level for the acquisition of new materials.

Let your voice be heard. Trustees, Friends of Libraries, patrons throughout the Commonwealth need to speak up. Please, contact your State Senator and State Representative. Ask them to support every critical piece of legislation concerning Library Funding. There are several bills currently under discussion or in committee at the present time. Your support through your representatives can aid in their passage. But, they need to hear from you. Your support can assure the passage of this legislation which will restore funding for library services and operations.

Many years ago renowned American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead made this statement. “Never underestimate the power of a small group of people to change the world. In fact, it is the only way it ever has.” Now it is your turn, write those letters, send those emails, make that phone call. You can do it!

When you contact your Senator and Representative be sure to include your name and address, Remind them that you are doing this for your children and grandchildren – and theirs. Together we can make this happen!

Representative Aaron Vega 

State House  Room 134
Boston, MA 02133

Senator Donald F. Humason
State House
Room 213A
Boston, MA 02133

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Discover Holyoke 2014 Planning Meeting

PassportHolyoke invites the public to a fourth planning meeting for a citywide fall celebration. The meeting will take place on Monday, April 28, 2014 at 5 pm at the Holyoke Senior Center.

The fall 2014 event will bring together diverse community and arts groups for a 3-day weekend of programming. The event will feature visual arts displays and performances, food, music, recreational activities, and history programs – all of which will highlight the many unique attributes of the City of Holyoke. To make the event as successful as possible PassportHolyoke is asking for community input.

PassportHolyoke hopes to engage artists, performers, restaurants, businesses, schools and youth, along with community members in creating new events for Holyoke 2014. PassportHolyoke seeks to build on prior brainstorming sessions and is looking for individuals with enthusiasm and creative vision to join the conversation. Committees have recently formed in the areas of: visual arts, performing arts, recreation/nature, history, food, and branding and are actively seeking volunteers.

This is a collaborative effort that benefits from community involvement in all stages of planning. Join PassportHolyoke in making Holyoke’s fall 2014 event a success. Pizza will be served at the meeting.

Grand Opening of New England Fish and Chips

After over 80 years under the ownership of one Holyoke family, New England Fish and Chips opens up under new ownership while still remembering the Callahan family and their place in Holyoke’s history. Continuing with the tradition of fish and chips on 530 High Street, owner Frank Cardona will be adding new items to the menu with his unique and tasty twist on classic recipes.

Mr. Cardona’s opening will create five new jobs within the City of Holyoke and he is excited to see this longstanding business grow. There have been major renovations done to the space which they are excited to show off to their customers.

“After 20 years of doing business in Holyoke successfully, I am confident this new venture will build upon our belief in the City of Holyoke and will continue to maintain the reputation of New England Fish and Chips,” said owner, Frankie Cardona. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Healthy Kids Day at Heritage State Park Includes CPR Class

Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three children in our community is considered overweight or obese. When the school year ends soon, the physical health and educational progress of many kids will worsen. Summer learning loss—a challenge for all children—is more pronounced among students from low-income neighborhoods. Eighty-seven percent of Holyoke 3rd grade students are reading below proficiency and one in four students are dropping out of school before graduating, according to the Massachusetts Department of Education.

To kick-start physical activity and learning now and throughout the summer—a critical out-of-school time for kids—on Saturday, April 26, the Greater Holyoke YMCA is hosting Healthy Kids Day®, a free community event for kids and families at Holyoke's Heritage State Park from Noon-3:00 PM.

Healthy Kids Day is a fun event with lots of activities and ideas to motivate kids to stay active throughout the summer. Healthy Kids Day will feature informational vendors, healthy cooking demonstrations, arts and crafts, and field games and inspire families to develop a healthy routine at home.

“At YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, we are focusing on health and education to ensure fewer children are at an increased risk for childhood obesity and more children succeed in school,” said Kathy Viens, CEO, Greater Holyoke YMCA. “We know that during summer, research shows that kids are more likely to gain weight and fall behind academically than during the school year. Healthy Kids Day is not just a single day of fun, active play and learning – it's a kick off to helping parents get a jump on creating a healthier summer.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

YMCA Members Support Annual Campaign at Inaugural Cycle Event

The Greater Holyoke YMCA, which has served the greater Holyoke community for 128 years, is spinning its wheels-for a good cause. Y Members and community members are raising money for the Y by participating in a “Cycle-A-Thon” event. 

Teams of riders are raising $300 to 'purchase' entry to the event, which will take place from 9:00 AM-Noon on Saturday, May 3. A Live DJ will provide music as YMCA indoor cycling instructors lead teams on a 3-hour ride. All proceeds go directly to the 2014 Annual Campaign. All proceeds will support the Y's work around water safety, children's health, and access to Y programs.

“Countless people know the Greater Holyoke YMCA. But there’s much more to us than one might think," Joe Premont, the Greater Holyoke YMCA's Board President and Captain of a Cycle Team made up of board members said. "Kids pour in after school to play and do homework. Seniors connect with one another through exercise classes. Families learn how to eat healthy and grow together. Teens spend time with their friends and get involved in leadership programs. The Y doesn't just strengthen bodies, the Y strengthens communities. This cycling event is another way to have fun supporting a great cause."

The Greater Holyoke YMCA, located at 171 Pine St., provides many services and programs for children, families, adults and seniors. Included among those are swimming & water safety, before- and after-school childcare programs in Holyoke & South Hadley, the Holyoke Urban Bike Shop, a Teaching Kitchen, and group exercise classes. 

Said Board Vice-President and another Cycle Team Captain Barbara Baran, “I'm thankful for our cyclists. They understand the impact they make when they contribute to this Y. Whether providing a young child with an opportunity to be safe and confident around water, or educating teens about healthy lifestyle choices, their financial support allows us to make a real difference.”

The 2013 Annual Campaign made it possible for the Y provide more than $140,000 in direct support to youth, families, adults and seniors. No one is turned away from a YMCA program activity because of an inability to pay. 

To help support the 2014 Annual Campaign or participate in the "Cycle For A Cause" event, visit or call 413-534-5631.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Collaborative Space Training Series

The Collaborative Workspace Training Series Are you interested in developing a collaborative workspace in your community?

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is pleased to offer trainings for prospective collaborative work space developers, operators, potential funders, and public officials to learn more about the development of collaborative workspaces.

Training Seminars Learn directly from an experienced developer, Jen Faigel, who will frame
key challenges and opportunities involved in creating and managing collaborative workspace environments during regional training sessions.

Western Mass Training
May 15, 9am-12pm
Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center
100 Bigelow St Holyoke, MA 01040