COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, FRCOG offices are closed from March 24 – April 7.

Staff are working remotely.

Building, plumbing and wiring inspectors are responding to emergencies only.

All meetings, workshops and forums are cancelled or have been changed to a call-in or video format.  Please look for emails from FRCOG staff about specific meetings or on our calendar https://frcog.org/events/category/meetings-and-events/.

Email is likely the most efficient way to reach staff.  You can find our email addresses and other contact information here: https://frcog.org/about/staff/

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Resources for municipal officials

Wipes Clog Pipes: Water Protection During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Cooperative Public Health Service Health District of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments reminds people to consider what is going into their household drains.  People served by public sewer systems or private septic systems should be aware of what happens with items that are not biological and therefore not intended for the wastewater system.

While the Coronavirus requires an increase in the need to sanitize, even within our own homes, we need to limit the amount of sanitizers that go into our sanitary sewer systems.  These sanitizers kills viruses and bacteria, both harmful and the useful bacteria that breaks down your family’s waste. The district’s recommendations:

DON’T FLUSH WIPES, paper towels, cotton swabs, sanitary products, toilet cleaning pop-off wands…

If your home has its own septic system: Even flushable wipes can clog your plumbing and create problems for your septic system. Wipes don’t break down quickly and entirely like toilet paper.  Flushing wipes and items other than toilet paper can plug the building sewer line and build up at the inlet of the septic tank causing sewage to back up into your house. Wipes in your septic tank will reduce its ability to remove solids from the water, contributing to system failure.  Flushing wipes can also clog up much-needed pumps within your septic system.

If your home is on public sewer, leading to a wastewater treatment plant: Flushing wipes and items other than toilet paper can plug the building sewer line, causing sewage to back up into your house. They can also clog up the pumps in your local wastewater treatment plant.

USE BLEACH SPARINGLY

Combating the Coronavirus requires an increase in the need to sanitize, even within our own homes. However, bleach, and other disinfectants kill the beneficial bacteria and may lead to premature system failure.  Choose non-bleach cleaning alternatives whenever possible or use sparingly and well diluted.  Hot water and soap are effective against Coronavirus.

WHERE TO LEARN MORE

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/protect-home.html

Wipes Clog Pipes Flyer

COVID-19 Activity at FRCOG and Municipal Resources

Here at the FRCOG we are working on the global Coronavirus outbreak and resulting cases of COVID-19 illness, and how to prepare for potential cases in our communities in a number of ways. We have created a municipal resource page at:  https://frcog.org/covid-19-resources/ This page is a list of links to important and frequently-updated resources for different municipal roles, including boards of health, first responders, and select boards.

The FRCOG’s Emergency Preparedness Program has two initiatives underway:

The Mohawk Area Public Health Coalition has activated a Joint Information Committee to align messaging from local boards of health to their municipal partners and residents. The committee co-chairs are Carolyn Shores Ness, Deerfield Board of Health, and Norene Pease, Shutesbury Board of Health. The Committee’s goal is to provide credible information sources, and to provide actions citizens can take to protect themselves. The Committee also requests that local officials share any public messaging your community is creating or sharing so that they may better align the regional messaging. You can see this week’s message at the COG’s COVID-19 page.

Staff have developed and shared a resource page for Long Term Care, EMS, Hospitals and Public Health at the Western MA Health & Medical Coordinating Coalition’s website at region1hmcc.org The HMCC Duty Officer is actively responding to concerns and resource requests from partners in healthcare and public health.

The FRCOG ‘s health district, the Cooperative Public Health Service, serves 14 towns. CPHS Public Health Nurse Lisa White is in contact with senior centers, schools, and others as part of preparing for the local response to any person who is screened as having or being exposed to COVID-19, which will be managed through the MAVEN database we already use for infectious disease surveillance. Our response in coordination with DPH and providers may include developing systems for daily monitoring of temperatures of quarantined residents, investigating contacts, and conducting clinical investigation and reporting for individuals who have tested positive for COVID19. Additional staff capacity to manage future cases has been identified, and CPHS is working with its boards of health to help them prepare for town-level activities.

On a side note, FRCOG is working to advocate for attention to the needs of our communities in responding to this outbreak: Lisa White was at the State House last week testifying before the Public Health Committee on rural COVID-19 preparedness status and needs.

And finally, we are examining the FRCOG’s own Continuity of Operations Plan and  having a discussion with the COG’s governing committees to discuss work-from-home protocols in the case of either personal or community quarantines. We are happy to share any protocols we develop with towns.

Please check the COVID-19 page regularly for updates and staff contacts.

Build your community’s immunity: take time for a flu shot!

Flu season is here and local boards of health and public health nurses are hard at work making plans to build community immunity!

Check out the calendar of vaccination clinics here: https://frcog.org/flu-clinic/

According to the CDC, flu signs and symptoms usually come on suddenly. People who are sick with flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

*It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.

FRCOG is hiring!

Would you or someone you know like to join our team?

Please check out the positions available here by visiting our Employment Page!

 

Short Term Rental Law Materials for Towns

On March 7, FRCOG hosted a session by Atty Kelli Gunagan of the Municipal Law Division of the Office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. Participants included boards of health, select boards, planning boards, building inspectors, and town administrators. Many municipal boards and departments have things to consider in response to the changes in the new law, from local taxation to zoning, registration, health inspection and more. Below are materials from the workshop for those who were unable to attend, or want digital copies:

Overviews:

Information on local option taxes and community impact fees:

Information on local bylaws and zoning changes:

Other Materials provided at the 3/7 workshop:

 

 

 

CPHS Health District Celebrates 6th Birthday

Members of the Boards of Health and Select Boards in the Cooperative Public Health Service health district’s eleven member towns gathered on November 29th to celebrate their sixth year of collaborating to provide high quality public health protections to residents. We were also joined by state Department of Public Health Office of Rural Health and Office of Local and Regional Health staff and a member of the Mohawk Trail Regional school staff!  After dinner, speakers addressed a health topic of great concern to our region: adolescent health, especially as regards vaping and marijuana, and what local actions towns can take to protect youth.  You can review the presentations here:

Staff also reviewed highlights of the past year. and our Public Health Nurse, Lisa White, received an award from the organizers of National Rural Health Day for being a Rural Health Community Star!

CPHS Public Health Nurse Lisa White receives her National Rural Health Day Community Star award from a member of the state nominating committee, Kirby Lecy.

 

Birthday cake featuring frosting septic system, food inspection equipment, ticks, and Lisa’s award! From Baked in Shelburne.

Group photo with our district birthday cake, an annual tradition!

 

Rural Policy Advisory Commission Listening Sessions

Listening Sessions

A series of listening sessions has recently been scheduled to gather input from community leaders regarding the suggested focus areas to be included in the development of the Massachusetts Rural Policy Plan.  Listening sessions will be held in several regions across the Commonwealth.

A survey is available to provide input at the RPAC SURVEY –https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RPAC2018

The Western Massachusetts listening sessions are:

  • 12/6   6 PM  at Berkshire Regional Planning Commission register at info@berkshireplanning.org
  • 12/11  5PM at Pioneer Valley Planning Commission register at lgallagher@pvpc.org
  • 12/13 5PM at GCC Downtown  — register at registrations@frcog.org

Click here for Rural Policy Advisory Commission website. 

Municipal Financial Management Workshop Materials

This workshop on 11/8 featured FRCOG Municipal Financial Management Specialist Joe Markarian, who joined us after a long career of supporting towns in improving their financial management practices at the Technical Assistance Bureau of the Massachusetts Division of Local Services.

Materials from the training:
Municipal Calendar from the DOR Division of Local Services
Slides from the workshop
Finance Seminar Spreadsheets
Some cyber-security tips from Mass.Gov