On The Ground | Spring Newsletter

This spring we are launching our new quarterly newsletter to share some of the many things we are working on here at the Hilltown CDC. Take a peak inside to read more about planning the new Worthington Senior/Community Center, Climate Resilience planning, the new Rural Policy Advocacy Commission, and the upcoming Hilltown Open Studio Tour!

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Worthington Senior Center Focus Groups

The Town of Chesterfield recently received a Community Development Block Grant on behalf of the Town of Worthington to explore the feasibility of creating a new town Senior/Community Center. In February, the Hilltown CDC collaborated to distribute a survey to all town residents about their views and visions for a new Town Senior/Community Center. We received 250 responses and many thoughtful comments expressing residents’ ideas, questions, and concerns about the project.

Now we are seeking additional input through a series of focus groups. Each focus group will go into more depth on the many considerations of this project, from site selection and funding sources to amenities and programming.  We welcome your input on all aspects of this project.

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All focus group sessions will take place at the Worthington Town Hall.  Light refreshments will be served.  Please register for one of the following focus groups using this link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/focusgroupworthington
Tuesday, April 23, 6:30-8pm
Tuesday, April 30, 6:30-8pm
Tuesday, May 7, 6:30-8pm

We will cap each session at 15 participants so please register early to get your first choice.  If you are not able to attend any of these sessions, we invite you to submit a letter with any additional thoughts for the project committee to review.  Please email Kathy Ford, Project Manager at kfordarchitect@gmail.com or mail your letter to the Hilltown CDC, PO Box 17, Chesterfield, MA 01012.

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Notice of Public Hearing - April 16th, 5:30PM

The Chesterfield Selectboard will hold a Public Hearing regarding the Mass. Community Development Block Grant FY18 for two Program Amendments.  The hearing will take place on Tues. April 16, 2019 at 5:30 PM in the Selectboard meeting room in the Town Office Building, 422 Main Road. The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Any persons needing special accommodations should contact Hilltown CDC (296-4536, ext. 115) at least one week prior to the meeting.  All persons or organizations wishing to be heard will be afforded the opportunity.

Public comment is invited on the following meeting topics: 

  • A Program Amendment is being requested to add a Planning Activity to support ADA activities within the town.

  • A Program Amendment is being requested to add a Personal Medical Device component to the HEN program. 

 

The general public and representatives of participating towns and organizations with ideas or comments regarding these programs should attend to present their views. The Town of Chesterfield, through its Selectboard, is the recipient of funds for this program.  Hilltown CDC is the grant administrator responsible for oversight and implementation.  For additional information or if you cannot attend the hearing, but have comments you would like to make, write Hilltown CDC, P.O. Box 17, Chesterfield, MA 01012, or email beavh@hilltowncdc.org

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Rep. Blais Hilltown Office Hours

Every Thursday in April the Office of State Representative Natalie Blais will be hosting public office hours in Chesterfield at the Hilltown CDC from 1-6PM.

Rep. Blais and/or her legislative aide will be available to meet with constituents to discuss issues they may be having and/or their legislative priorities.

This location allows for confidential meetings and walk-ins are always welcome. To ensure the Representative’s attendance please email natalie.blais@mahouse.gov to book an appointment.

If you would like to contact Representative Blais the district address is P.0. Box 450 Sunderland, MA 01375. You can also call her district office at 413-362-9453 to schedule a meeting or voice your opinion on legislative matters. Rep. Blais looks forward to meeting you and hearing your thoughts, questions, and opinions.

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It's here! The 2019 Hilltown Business Directory

It’s here! Watch your mailbox for the 2019 edition of the Hilltown Business Directory. It’s your go-to resource for finding what you need locally, full of at-your-fingertips information on local businesses and services throughout the Hilltowns. No wi-fi necessary, and it even works in a power outage! Produced each year since 1986, the Hilltown Business Directory now covers 23 towns and is mailed to over 15,000 households each spring. It contains a comprehensive listing of everything from contractors and snow plowing, to attorneys, surveyors, doggie day-care providers and yoga classes. Please remember to tell them you found them in the Hilltown Business Directory! Working together we can support and grow our local Hilltown economy!

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You can also find local businesses using our searchable online database at www.hilltowncdc.com!

 


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FREE Volunteer Income Tax Assistance still available!

The Hilltown CDC has partnered with the Berkshire United Way and Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity to bring VITA Volunteer Tax Assistance Program to the Hilltowns. IRS-trained volunteers are available for day, evening, and weekend appointments in Chester, Chesterfield, and Williamsburg. If your household income is $54,000 less and does not include self-employment or rental income, call to make your appointment today: 413-296-4536 x 100. Leave a message with your contact information and your choice of location. Our VITA coordinator will return your call to confirm your appointment and provide a list of needed documents for your appointment.

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Homelessness services transition to Community Action Pioneer Valley
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Hilltown CDC has acted as the Collaborative Applicant for the Three County Continuum of Care HUD funded program for the past 6 years.  This program provides regional funding across Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties to agencies who are providing services to the homeless.  After six years Hilltown CDC determined this program was not aligned enough with the mission of the agency and began the process to find another agency interested in administering this important federal program.   Through a public bidding process, Community Action of Pioneer Valley was selected to administer the program going forward. Hilltown CDC has begun the transfer of the program and the process should be complete by June 30, 2019.   Community Action of Pioneer Valley is well suited to operate this program.  They have a presence in all three counties and a number of programs and services that address poverty and it’s symptoms.  The program provides close to $2 million in funds for the region and provide rental assistance and case management services to reduce homelessness.

 

In a statement about the transition, Hilltown CDC Director Dave Christopolis writes, “We believe that housing is a right not a privilege.  We know that many of our friends in western MA struggle with homelessness and have difficulty finding affordable housing.  We know wages have not kept up with costs of living and that there is a desperate need for new jobs and housing production.   We know the cost of homelessness is putting a burden on the tax payer and on our social fabric.  We know that homeless people are often treated like criminals.  We know that this can be generational and that children who grow up in homeless shelters are at a disadvantage later in life.   We know that people’s lives are robbed because they don’t have the economic opportunity to maintain stable housing where they can find work, raise a family and contribute to society.   We know that the millions of homeless in the United States on any given day is a reflection of the current state of our spiritual bankruptcy. 

“We support Community Action of Pioneer Valley in its willingness to administer this program regionally and ensure that these resources are preserved for our friends and neighbors who need some help.”

 
A study released by the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness revealed that in January 2018, 2,899 people were documented as homeless in Western Mass.

A study released by the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness revealed that in January 2018, 2,899 people were documented as homeless in Western Mass.

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FREE Small Business Classes this Spring!
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The Village Enterprise Center (VEC) in collaboration with the Hilltown CDCSouthern Hilltown Adult Education Center and Jacob's Ladder Business Association is offering an ongoing series of classes and workshops aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow their businesses in the Hilltowns!

Some of the classes being offered this spring at the VEC in Chester and the CDC in Chesterfield:

  • Graphic Design Fundamentals and Branding Identity: Your brand reflects what and how other people think about you, your company, your product, or your service. Learn how to make it shine!

  • Selling on eBay: With more than 100 million buyers, eBay is one of the world's largest online marketplaces. This class will help you start selling!

  • Grantwriting: Learn the basics on how to research and identify potential foundations and government funders that might be able to fund your project or program, as well as how to prepare and submit a grant to foundations.

  • Starting an AirBnB: Learn how to turn an extra room, apartment or cottage into additional income through short-term and vacation rentals on AirBnB.com.

  • Marketing Your Business: Learn the fundamentals of marketing and what it means to create a marketing plan. Leave with a basic marketing plan, as well as a few marketing pieces designed and ready to print or post!

For more classes and information check out the latest Hilltown Small Business Assistance Newsletter. To reserve your spot call the VEC at 413-354-1055 or email Michele !


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A New Senior/Community Center for Worthington? Take the Survey!

Deadline extended until Feb 22! The Town of Worthington has received a federal grant to identify potential buildings or properties in town that could support a public facility for use by seniors and the community. The Worthington Select Board has appointed a committee to work with Hilltown CDC to conduct a study of the current real estate in town to determine the feasibility of renovating or building a new facility for this purpose. The committee has designed a town-wide survey to gather public input and is currently visiting area senior centers to get ideas for the types of facilities and amenities Worthington Seniors may enjoy. If you are a resident of Worthington (all ages) please let us know what you think about this project and share your views on the needs of the town by filling out the paper survey that was mailed to you, or by taking the online version using the link below. Please submit your responses by Feb 22st! Thank you for participating!

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Invitation To Public Hearing for Community Development Grant

Hilltown CDC, on behalf of the Town of Chesterfield, invites you to a public hearing to collect your input regarding potential projects to be included in the FY2019 Community Development Block Grant application.  Typical programs included are: Housing Rehabilitation, planning projects, Hilltown Elder Network, Health Outreach Program for Elders, Hilltown Food Pantry and Childcare Subsidy.  If there are new programs/activities you would like to have considered, please let us know as well!  Your participation and input on these programs is greatly appreciated.

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Goshen Adopts Complete Streets Policy

The Hilltown CDC is pleased to share that MassDOT has accepted the Complete Streets Plan put together by the town of Goshen Select Board, Highway Superintendent, and the town’s Complete Streets committee, making Goshen one of the smallest communities in the state to adopt such a policy! The plan was developed in partnership with the Hilltown CDC and Healthy Hampshire, with assistance from WalkBoston, who conducted a walk audit with community stakeholders in the Spring of 2017 (pictured). The plan emphasizes safe walking, signage, streetscape design and walking trails that connect the town center to the DAR State Park and other recreational areas. With recent renovations to the Town Hall and the new senior housing development project completed in June 2018, accessibility - particularly for older adults - including crosswalks, ramps, and other amenities became a high priority for the town. Creating a sense of place that is both accessible and attractive will also encourage pedestrian activity, calm traffic and contribute to a sense of community. Now, Goshen is turning their sights to a town-center planning process funded through the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs. Congratulations Goshen!

 

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Take our Survey! What do YOU want for the Hilltowns?
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Hilltown CDC is seeking community input regarding potential projects to be included in the FY2019 Community Development Block Grant application. Current programs funded by this grant are: Housing Rehabilitation, Hilltown Elder Network (HEN), Health Outreach Program for Elders (HOPE), Hilltown Food Pantry and Childcare Subsidy. If you have participated in, or know someone who has participated in any of these programs and would like to share support, success stories, or ways to improve the programs, please let us know by taking our survey below or sending us your comments! Or, if there are new programs/activities you would like to have considered for funding next year, we want to know. Your participation and input on these programs is greatly appreciated!

To share your comments you may also call us at 413-296-4536 x115 or email Bea by January 2, 2019

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Seeking New Collaborative Applicant: HUD Continuum Of Care (CoC)
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Hilltown Community Development Corporation has acted as the Collaborative Applicant for the Three County CoC serving Berkshire, Franklin and Hampshire Counties for the last 6 years. Due to a number of factors, Hilltown will discontinue its role as the CoC’s Collaborative Applicant as of June 30, 2019. This Request for Information (RFI) seeks to gather information and qualifications of any party or entity interested in taking over the role of the Three County CoC, with planning and coordination for the transition beginning in mid-January 2019.   We ask for responses to the RFI to be submitted by the end of November.  In addition, the CoC Annual Meeting on Dec 5th at 10am at the Hilltown CDC offices will serve as a forum for provider and community input on the transition process and all are invited.

 Read the RFI Soliciting a New Collaborative Agent

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2018 Annual Meeting Honors Retiring Rep. Steve Kulik

October 16 was a special evening for Hilltown Community Development as we gathered to thank State Representative Stephen Kulik for his 25 years of service to the Hilltowns. Constituents, community leaders and former staffers took the opportunity to thank Steve and reminisce fondly of the years of leadership and hard work he has given to his district. The gathering took place at the Worthington Golf Club, and music was provided by Executive Director Dave Christopolis on Upright Bass accompanied by friends Charlie Tokarz on Saxophones and Dave Bartley on Piano. The gathering also doubled as Hilltown Community Development’s Annual Meeting with voting for Board positions. For years, the organization has held a spring Annual Meeting – yes, we had one in spring 2018 – but needed to move the Annual Meeting to fall to better align with the close of our fiscal year. By having two Annual Meetings this year, we have officially made the change and will have our next one in the fall of 2019. Finally, the evening was a first introduction to the community of our new logo and tagline, a refresh of our look and a more polished image to take us into the future.

Photos by HCDC Board Member Susan Slattery

 
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Childcare Subsidies Available Now

Need help paying for childcare? Childcare subsidies are available for working families with children ages 0-5 residing in the towns of Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Peru, Plainfield, and Worthington

 If your gross household annual income is below the limits listed, you may be eligible for assistance in paying for your childcare costs:

Household of 2          $51,650

Household of 3          $58,100

Household of 4          $64,550

Household of 5          $69,750

Household of 6          $80,050

Parents must be working, or in a vocational or educational program during childcare hours to qualify.  Payments are made directly to the licensed daycare provider of your choice. Depending on income and attendance, the program may be able to cover all or most of monthly costs. 

 Please contact Steve Herzberg for an application by calling 413.588.6693 or via email steven_herzberg@msn.com

This Program is offered through the Hilltown Community Development and is funded by a Community Development Block Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Housing & Community Development and the Town of Chesterfield. This is an Equal Opportunity Program

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Applying For Fuel Assistance

Community Action is now booking appointments in Greenfield, Northampton and Ware for new applicants to the Winter Fuel Assistance Program. The program helps eligible families by paying a portion of their heating bills from Nov 1 to April 30. If you are a Massachusetts resident in Franklin or Hampshire County living on a low or fixed income you are encouraged to apply.

Eligibility is based on the number of people in your household and the combined gross income of all person in the household.

If you are a first time applicant you must apply in person. If you have participated in past years you will receive your application by mail and do not need to apply in person.

To apply call 413-774-2310 (Franklin County) or 800-370-0940 (Hampshire Country) or go online at www.communityaction.us

Annual Income Limits:

Household of 1 - $35,510

Household of 2 - $46,437

Household of 3 - $57,363

Household of 4 - $68, 289

Household of 5 - $79,215

Household of 6 - $90,141

Household of 7 - $92,190

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New Residents move in to Goshen Senior Housing Village

This fall the Hilltown CDC celebrated the completion of the Goshen Senior Housing project.  Highland Village Circle consists of ten one-bedroom apartments for tenants who are at least 62 years old and who meet income qualifications. The apartments are located in the town center, across Route 9 from Town Hall and within walking distance to the Municipal Office Building, the Council on Aging, the Congregational Church, the post office, and the general store. Goshen’s Select Board appointed the Goshen Elder Housing Committee in the year 2010 to explore the possibility of building housing for senior citizens. The five-member committee met for eight years and worked with the Hilltown CDC to make this idea into a reality. At the September 28th Open House a proclamation by the Massachusetts State Senate honored the five members of the Goshen Elder Housing Committee, all of whom served for the entire eight-year period from the time of their appointment until the completion of the project. Job well done!

 
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FREE Small Business Classes this Fall
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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

FREE Small Business Classes!

The Village Enterprise Center in collaboration with the Hilltown CDCSouthern Hilltown Adult Education Center and Jacob's Ladder Business Association is offering an ongoing series of classes and workshops aimed at assisting entrepreneurs and small business owners to start and grow their businesses in the Hilltowns!

Here is a sampling of classes offered this fall in both Chester and Chesterfield:

  • Social Media for Business: learn the basics of social media for business and how to market your products and services on Facebook and Instagram.

  • Beginner and Intermediate Quickbooks: hone your bookkeeping skills.

  • Photography for Online Sales: learn how to photograph your products for sale.

  • Paypal for Buisness: learn how to accept payments on your website or in person and email invoices to your customers.

  • You Tube for Business: create your own channel and start posting videos.

For more information check out the latest Hilltown Small Business Assistance Newsletter . To reserve your spot call the VEC at 413-354-1055 or email Michele !

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