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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Public Comment Period for Draft Amendment to the 2020 TIP Highway Project List

The Franklin County Transportation Planning Organization will open a 21-day public review and comment period on Draft Amendment #1 to the 2020-2024 Transportation Improvement Program. Comments on the Draft will be accepted from Monday, March 30, until Monday, April 20, 2020. The Draft document is available for review at the links below or by calling (413) 774-3167 x 139 to request copies.  Comments should be submitted in writing to lscarbrough@frcog.org or to Franklin regional Council of Governments, 12 Olive Street, Suite 2, Greenfield MA 01301.

The Draft Amendment and a summary are available for review at the following links:

2020 Franklin TIP Highway Project List Amendment 1 DRAFT
2020 Franklin TIP Amendment 1 Summary

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

Resources for businesses impacted by COVID-19

For information about resources and guidance to support businesses and non-profit organizations impacted by COVID-19, click here for more information.

Also, a survey of Pioneer Valley businesses and organizations is underway. The data collected will be used to demonstrate the local economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis when advocating for state and federal resources now and in the coming weeks and months. If you have a business or non-profit organization, please complete this brief survey by March 31, 2020. Individual responses will be kept confidential.  Link to survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PVBIZCOVID

 

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.

FY21 Assessments

FY21 Assessments for each Franklin County Town, as well as all members of the Franklin County Emergency Communications System (FCECS), are available. These assessments support the budgets for the General Fund and Fee for Service Program budgets voted by the Council on January 30, 2020.

Although this information has been mailed to each Town, we hope posting it here will be useful to Administrators, Town Coordinators, Finance Committees and other Departments as they plan FY21 budgets and Town Meetings. Call Claire McGinnis x111 or Bob Dean x108 with questions.

Franklin County town assessments

FCECS assessments

Registration is now open for MHP’s Western MA Housing Conference

Registration is now open for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Western MA Housing Conference, Thursday, April 16, 2020 at the Hadley Farms Meeting House, 41 Russell Street, Hadley, MA 01035.

Geared towards officials, volunteers and employees, this one-day conference will address housing challenges facing small towns and rural communities in Central and Western Massachusetts.

Topics & agenda:

  • Findings from the Rural Policy Plan
  • Using data to support your housing needs
  • Housing rehabilitation
  • Affordable home-ownership opportunities
  • Distressed and abandoned properties
  • Senior housing
  • Community outreach and coalition building

A full agenda will be made available by the end of February.

Registration details:

Breakfast and lunch will be provided. Cost to attend is $30 for municipal planners/volunteers/non-profit organizations and $50 for for-profit organizations.

All training materials will be provided electronically before the event.

Click Here to Register

Contact Katie Bosse at kbosse@mhp.net or 857-317-8517 for more information about this or any other MHP-sponsored events.

Buckland Green Streets Project Information

Buckland Green Streets is a project initiated by the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) with funding from a MassDEP 604b grant to assess the potential for Green Infrastructure (GI) stormwater management in Shelburne Falls on the Buckland side.  The goals of the project are to improve water quality in the Deerfield River, to help the village and surrounding watershed become more resilient to increasingly frequent and intense precipitation, and to mitigate the flood hazards resulting from heavy rain events. FRCOG staff worked with the Town Highway and Wastewater Superintendents to develop a stormwater management concept for Crittenden Hill Road where GI can be implemented in conjunction with planned municipal road work currently needed to repair the road and address erosion hazards that threaten residential properties and steep slopes flanking the road.  The concept proposes to retrofit and utilize an abandoned water tank and implement a new bioretention basin to capture and clean large volumes of stormwater before it enters the storm sewer and outlets to the Deerfield River. This concept design will be developed to 25% with cost estimates by a Professional Engineer.  FRCOG will also develop a guide for the Town to continue to integrate GI in its future transportation projects, including an assessment method and links to design and funding sources that will serve as a resource for other towns.

For more information please check out the presentation below, or contact Helena Farrell, Land Use and Natural Resources Planner, at HFarrell@frcog.org or 413-774-3167 ext. 134.

Buckland Green Streets Presentation

2020 Census Preparations and QACs

The 2020 U.S. Census. It’s safe, easy, and important. And we need your help!

Please help spread the message that the 2020 Census is safe, easy, and important.  Talk to your friends and families. Post a message or video clip on social media. Hang a poster at your office or where people gather in your community. Check out our list of resources (including links to video clips, posters, FAQs, and more) at: https://frcog.org/publication/view/census-2020-preparation/.

From March 12 to March 20, every household will receive an invitation to complete the 2020 US Census. Responses can be submitted online, by telephone, by mail, or in-person by an official Census-taker. It is important that everyone is counted. This data is used to determine our political representation and how much federal and state funding comes to our region. It is estimated that if 3 out of every 100 people in Franklin County are not counted, we could lose up to $50 million in funding over a ten-year period. For more information, check out MIRA Coalition’s 2020 Census: Frequently Asked Questions or visit 2020census.gov.

HELP RESPONDING TO THE 2020 CENSUS

Given the current situation with COVID-19, most Questionnaire Assistance Centers (QACs) are not available currently or in the near term. Please contact the QAC directly to confirm their status and hours of operation.  Click here for the list of QACs in Franklin County as of March 12, 2020 at 3:30 pm (PDF, 497 kb)

However, there are other resources to helpfully guide people when responding to the 2020 Census questionnaire:

Video guide on how to respond online, available in 63 language options – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLewV-zKXDZkiAT8Tp96NysEoq3dDEMi7L

Online guide on how to respond by phone, available in 17 language options – https://2020census.gov/en/ways-to-respond/responding-by-phone.html