Veterans council gauging interest for D.C. trip

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NORTHAMPTON — The Veterans Council of Northampton is gauging interest among the city’s veteran community for an overnight, all-expenses paid bus trip to Washington, D.C., this November to visit memorials and other sites in the capitol region.

The council, in partnership with Central Hampshire Veteran Services, is asking interested Vietnam veterans to contact them so that planners can determine the level of interest and how much the trip would cost.

Veterans could bring a spouse or a caregiver. The trip would include a visit to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the 40th anniversary of its dedication on Nov. 13, 1982.

“This trip will honor their service and will also be a trip of a lifetime for many Veterans from our city who perhaps have never visited the nation’s capitol or seen the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,” Steven Connor, director of Central Hampshire Veterans, said in a statement. “Even for those who have already seen the memorial, this will be a wonderful opportunity for them to revisit Washington and to join with fellow Veterans to reflect on their service and to remember those who they served with, particularly those whose names appear on the Wall.”

Eligible veterans are those “who served boots on the ground in Vietnam during the Vietnam era” and have Northampton as their home of record on their DD214 form, and those “who are considered ‘Blue Water Navy Veterans’ who served during the Vietnam conflict,” according to a statement from the Veterans Council.

Federal regulations define the Vietnam era as the period from Feb. 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975. Blue Water Navy Veterans are those who served on open sea ships off the shore of Vietnam during the war.

Eligible veterans, their spouse or a caregiver should contact the Veterans Council to express interest, and be prepared to show a copy of the veteran’s DD214 form, the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, as well as the veteran’s current Northampton address.

Documents can be emailed to vetadmin@northamptonma.gov. Central Hampshire Veteran Services can be reached at (413) 587-1299.

Local businesspersonof the year

Judy Herrell, owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream at 8 Old South St., was voted Northampton’s 2022 Local Businessperson of the Year in a poll by the business referral website Alignable.com.

The website describes itself as the largest online referral network for small businesses, with more than 7 million members throughout North America.

Alignable.com announced the award last week after a month-long contest that aimed to elevate small business owners who have helped other businesses and the community during the economic turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In our tight-knit community, you almost always get back what you give,” Herrell said in a statement. “And the challenges we’ve all encountered have compelled many of us to offer counsel and other support to peers struggling to keep their businesses afloat.”

Herrell’s has been in business for 42 years. The company donates to a wide variety of local charities and nonprofit organizations, including Cooley Dickinson Hospital, Northampton Public Schools, Girl Scouts of America and Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).

“While I’m thrilled to receive this award, it’s really a testament to our entire community,” Herrell said. “And it reinforces my resolve to push toward a full recovery for everyone here in Northampton by the end of 2022, if not earlier.”

Herrell won the Local Businessperson of the Year award in 2021, as well, and earned the Small Businessperson of the Year award in 2018.

Senior Center slowly reopening

The Senior Services Department has announced that the Senior Center will reopen to the public with limited offerings on Monday, Feb. 28, and more services are scheduled to be restored over the coming months.

Proof of full vaccination against COVID-19, including a booster shot if eligible, is required to enter the building at 67 Conz St. The center has been closed for all but essential services since last month because of a regional surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.

“Activities that cannot be done six feet apart will likely be able to start in April if all continues to look good with transmission rates,” the department said in a statement. “The Bistro and Coffee Shop will not reopen just yet. Once the mask mandate is lifted we will announce a date when food and drink will again be served on-site (it looks like this may happen soon, definitely sometime this spring).”

All returning members and those seeking membership are required to have a 15-minute orientation appointment with staff before using the center and attending programs. Appointments are available daily and can be arranged by calling (413) 587-1228 or emailing seniorservices@northamptonma.gov.

The building will be open to small groups only between Feb. 28 and March 4. The fitness center and game room will be open with restrictions, and movies will be shown and some classes will be held with social distancing requirements in place. Food distribution programs and lunch pick-up will remain curbside.

Reiki resumes on March 14 and foot clinics will return on March 15. Most classes and services require pre-registration or an appointment, and some classes may remain virtual for now.

Brian Steele can be reached at bsteele@gazettenet.com.



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