The Winchendon Courier - Regional News
The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of July 27 to August 3, 2023

Coming Up at Nova Arts

Join us at Nova Arts in Keene in August for these three exciting shows!

On Wednesday, August 9, we welcome back The Huntress and Holder of Hands, the most recent musical project from Morganeve Swain, formerly of Brown Bird. The ensembles use of strings and dark and doomy take on folksong makes for an emotional and powerful performance, without sacrificing the sweetness of performing the music with friends.

Footings, featuring Nova impresario Eric Gagne, will be on a whirlwind New England tour with Huntress, so this is a great opportunity to experience another eclectic ensemble featuring some excellent players from the greater area (members of Rick Rude, All Feels, Bonnie Prince Billy, and more). Last time they were here in fact, was with Bonnie himself, as his backing band and opener.

Kicking off this show will be Emi Night aka Strawberry Runners, a truly magical songwriter who crafts melodies that are hymn-like and entrancing.

Doors are at 7:00 p.m. and music for this one will start at 7:30 sharp!

On Sunday, August 20, we've got indie rock powerhouse Slothrust! On their latest album, bandleader Leah Wellbaum pushed herself to try and understand her own spirituality on a deeper level, putting a lens on the core wound of the human experience, the idea that we're alone. With Parallel Timeline, Wellbaum explores the feeling of being trapped inside her own consciousness while simultaneously searching for a meaningful connection to the universe, and all the mysteries it contains.

Pronoun is the alias of Brooklyn based producer, performer, and songwriter Alyse Vellturo; they'll be opening this show.! The project was created in 2016 and debuting her EP There's no one new around you. The lead single "a million other things" received press from NPR, All Things Go, and peaked at #16 on the Spotify viral charts. Vellturo followed up with her debut album i'll show you stronger in 2019 receiving press from The New York Times, Pitchfork, Paper Magazine, UPROXX, and countless others.

Friday, August 25, William Tyler and the Impossible Truth will be here, with Garcia Peoples opening. This night will be a deep dive into contemporary underground jam bands, as both of these groups are famously incredible at delivering that heavy Dead inspired realm to folks usually outside of the jam circuit.

For all shows, tickets are available at or at Brewbakers / Terra Nova Coffee.

Nova Arts is supported by and under the fiscal sponsorship of Arts Alive, and is supported by the Putnam Foundation and the Osier Fund. Events take place at 48 Emerald St, within Brewbakers Cafe & Terra Nova Coffee.

Senate Passes Supplemental Budget Including a Proposed $20 million for Farms

(Boston, MA - July 27, 2023) - The Massachusetts State Senate on Wednesday passed a $513 million supplemental budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). Among other key priorities, the legislation funds flexible assistance for farms throughout the Commonwealth impacted by recent severe weather events.

"Investing in our people is vital to keeping the Commonwealth competitive, and that is precisely what this supplemental budget does," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "This budget invests in the services that people around the Commonwealth use every day – the hospitals where people receive critical care, the special education programs in our schools, and programs that improve quality of life for individuals and families who are low-income, among other state priorities. It also gives critical relief to farmers around the state who have been devastated by this year's extreme weather. I would like to thank the dedicated team at Senate Ways and Means, especially Chair Rodrigues, for their hard work and contributions to this supplemental budget, and my Senate colleagues for approving this supplemental budget."

"As we fully emerge from the pandemic, the Legislature has addressed several sectors of state government with crucial funding to continue to keep the economy of the Commonwealth on a firm footing. The passage of this supplemental budget today utilizes robust tax revenues to its fullest effect, making substantial investments in health care, special education, unemployment assistance, and disaster relief funding. Those investments will keep Massachusetts as a leader in the key economic sectors for decades to come," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Thanks to the strong leadership of Senate President Spilka, and the commitment of my colleagues in the Senate, we sent a clear message to the people that we will always look to protect our marginalized communities, support our education and health care workforce, and invest in local infrastructure as the Commonwealth continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic."

"I am tremendously grateful that the Senate is standing with farmers in the wake of a disaster with $20 million in funding for affected farmers and growers," said Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), Assistant Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "These public funds will go out as direct grants. That's money in the pockets of farmers who have experienced a massive hardship in the wake of the extreme flooding earlier this month and the frosts and freezes this past spring. I am thankful to Senate President Spilka and Chair Rodrigues for their continued support of our farmers and their commitment to investing in farms, both in the short and long term."

Appropriates $513M of fiscal year 2023 direct appropriations, including:

$180M for relief to fiscally strained hospitals
$100M for a supplemental transfer to the Pension Liability Fund
$75M to support school districts with extraordinary special education costs
$60.3M for staffing needs at the Department of Transitional Assistance
$40M for a reserve to support costs related to Tatum vs. Commonwealth of Massachusetts
$26.2M for collective bargaining agreement costs
$20M for natural disaster relief for farms and affected areas
$10.7M for public health hospitals
$506k for interstate flood compact costs
$200k for EEC contingency contract costs

Comerford Shares Six Bills for Disability Pride Month

(Boston, MA) - During Disability Pride Month, Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) shares six bills she has filed in partnership with House members to support people with disabilities across the Commonwealth.

"I am proud that my team and I have filed six strong bills this session, propelled by constituents and in partnership with tireless allies," noted Comerford.

The six pieces of legislation are listed below:

An Act expanding access to trails for people of all abilities
Filed by Senator Comerford and Representative Michelle Ciccolo
Outdoor trails help connect people with nature, inspire healthy activities, and protect natural places – while also fostering livable and welcoming communities. Too often, people with disabilities are not able to access public trails and the many benefits that come with this access. This bill establishes a state policy to maximize equitable access to trails, outdoor spaces, and outdoor recreational activities for people of all abilities. The bill establishes a working group consisting of state agencies, representatives of groups focused on disability access, conservation organizations, and others to review current access status and make recommendations on how to best implement effective access policies and procedures. The working group will hold public hearings and issue annual reports.

An Act supporting equal access to community care for elders and the disabled
Filed by Senator Comerford and Representative Natalie Higgins
Providing care to people in their homes and communities reduces strain on our nursing homes and allows people to receive care where they are most comfortable. But current law makes seniors and people with disabilities ineligible for home care if their income goes just a penny above the income limit, a policy often called the "cliff effect." This bill allows eligible people to receive MassHealth home and community-based care even if their income is over the program income limit, if they pay a premium equal to their income above the limit. Read more here.

An Act allowing spouses to serve as caregivers
Filed by Senator Comerford and Representatives Adam Scanlon and Norman Orall
Current state policy penalizes seniors and people with disabilities who wish to employ their spouse as their caregiver. This bill reverses that policy and directs MassHealth to recognize and compensate spouses as caregivers if requested by the patient – just as other relatives are already permitted to serve as paid caregivers.

An Act protecting the homes of seniors and disabled people on MassHealth
Filed by Senator Comerford and Representative Christine Barber
MassHealth, the state's Medicaid program, demands repayment after death from the estates or families of low-income people who received Medicaid health care services after age 55. Over 90 percent of these repayments to MassHealth come from the sale of the family home. This bill limits the estate recovery program so that repayment is only sought where it is required by the federal government. This bill also strengthens advance notice requirements and expands hardship waiver criteria. Read more here.

An Act facilitating better interactions between police officers and persons with autism spectrum disorder
Filed by Senator Comerford and Representative Kay Khan
For drivers with Autism Spectrum Disorder, being stopped by a police officer can be particularly challenging. Law enforcement officers or other first responders may also have had little or no training in best practices for communicating with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This bill creates a voluntary program to make available special "blue envelopes" that hold the driver's license, registration, and insurance cards, as well as specific instructions for the officer on the driver's diagnosis, intentions, impairments, triggers, and contact information. In Connecticut, a similar voluntary program has been shown to reduce stress, facilitate better communication, and improve safety. Read more here.

An Act establishing a special education funding reform commission (S.241/H.442)
Filed by Senator Comerford and Representative Dan Carey
The state's formula for funding school districts assumes that every school district has the same percentage of students who access special education services, rather than accounting for the actual number of students in each district who access special education services. This means that students with disabilities can suffer from inadequate resources due to a funding formula that shortchanges many school districts. This bill sets up a Commission to review the Commonwealth's system for funding special education and make recommendations for a more equitable system that will provide adequate funding to local school districts to meet the costs of providing high quality education to students with disabilities.

For more information on these bills, please visit the link here: