- Staff are preparing letters for Joint Rule Ten Day on February 7, 2024. Joint Rule Ten Day is the last day in the current legislative session for bills to be released from Committees for further consideration.
- Staff have drafted testimony in support of the Affordable Homes Act (the Housing Bond Bill) and will be part of two legislative panels at the Hearing on 1/18/24.
- Working with state and federal legislators and with Regional Planning Commissions and Councils of Governments to the north and south (VT, NH and CT), staff have prepared a series of project ideas that would better predict the impacts of, better prepare municipalities for and coordinate implementation of resiliency efforts to better withstand major storm events. One grant application to FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities program has already been submitted by the FRCOG and larger scale, multi-state efforts are in development.
Regional Age and Dementia Friendly Community Action Plan
An age- and dementia-friendly community makes it easier for older adults to stay connected to people that are important to them, and helps residents stay healthy and active even at the oldest ages, and provides appropriate support to those who can no longer look after themselves. LifePath and the FRCOG are leading an initiative toward helping the North Quabbin and Franklin County become more age- and dementia-friendly. The Age- and Dementia-Friendly Franklin County and North Quabbin Regional Action Plan, released in November, is the culmination of three years and hundreds of hours of work by residents and staff to create a roadmap of how our community can be the best place possible to age.
More Information: FRCOG website Age and Dementia Friendly Communities page; Meg Ryan at [email protected], or ext. 158.
Community Health Improvement Plan Report
In December 2023 the FRCOG completed the region’s second Community Health Improvement Plan, or CHIP. That 3-year plan focused on addressing high priority health needs identified in Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment: reducing youth substance use, increasing mental wellness and resilience, and removing barriers to active living and healthy eating.
The 2021-2023 CHIP report documents the work of four subcommittees, a steering committee, and a related housing-focused project, as well as the collective impact of health improvement activities implemented by municipalities and organizations in Franklin County and the North Quabbin region. During this second cycle, our CHIP Network more than tripled in size from about 100 to 300 members, clarified its purpose and values, and capitalized on unanticipated opportunities to improve local community health.
Each of these plans will be completed in spring 2024. We held community-wide meetings in Greenfield and Montague in December; upcoming community-wide meetings will be held in Charlemont, Northfield, Orange and Whately later this winter. Recently, FRCOG was selected by Shutesbury and Leverett to help them develop a joint digital equity plan starting this spring.
More Information: FRCOG website Municipal Digital Equity Planning Services page; Ted Harvey at [email protected] or ext. 123.
Regional Emergency Preparedness Committee Funding
Late in this quarter, EPP received a Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness Grant from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. This grant will allow the county to hold a functional exercise focusing on first response to a significant incident involving hazardous materials. The exercise, currently in the planning phase, is scheduled for spring 2024.
More Information: FRCOG website Regional Emergency Planning Committee page; Dan Nietsche at [email protected] or ext. 110.
These 40 newly trained local instructors will play a crucial role in disseminating the AAIR program throughout western Massachusetts. By doing so, they will equip responders across the region with vital skills necessary for effective ASHER, thereby contributing to the overall preparedness and resilience of the community.
More Information: FRCOG website Western Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council page; Raine Brown at [email protected] or ext. 138.
FY24 Collective Purchasing
The Collective Purchasing Program provides bidding, contracting, and troubleshooting services to municipalities, districts, and non-profit agencies. The Purchasing Program can save participants money by volume discount buying. We also save time and avoid potential legal risks by assuring that legally-required bidding processes are properly followed.
- FRCOG took the lead on a county-wide School Bus Transportation bid for a five-year contract for nine school districts. A satisfactory bid was received and contracts are currently being written. This saved busy school business managers a lot of time and effort and had a good result.
FRCOG staff conducted fieldwork in the fall to evaluate existing conditions and identify potential areas for projects. Examples of top priority projects include a sidewalk connection from the Stoughton Place apartments to The Mill gas/convenience store as well as pedestrian improvements in the village center by Town Hall. The FRCOG also gathered input about specific areas where improvements are needed through an online survey.
Regional Bike Plan Update
FRCOG Transportation Planning staff is commencing work to update the Franklin County Regional Bike Plan. The previous plan was completed in 2009. The update will build on earlier bicycle network planning. The work will also incorporate complete streets and best practices for creating better bicycle infrastructure connections locally and regionally. The staff will be posting an online survey and interactive map to receive input in late January 2024.