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Senate plan aids shelter, Hadley dam

AMHERST — Amherst’s seasonal homeless shelter is in line to get state money that will cover some of its operational costs and could assist in a future relocation to a larger space where it might offer increased services and longer hours to more guests.

The budget adopted by the Senate for the fiscal year beginning July 1 also guarantees $125,000 for the Lake Warner Dam project in Hadley.

State Sen. Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, announced Thursday that the budget includes up to $200,000 for Craig’s Doors: A Home Association, Inc., the nonprofit organization that oversees the Craig’s Place homeless shelter at the First Baptist Church, 434 North Pleasant St.

“This is great news and we appreciate the efforts of Sen. Rosenberg and Rep. (Ellen) Story,” said Kevin Noonan, the executive director of Craig’s Doors. But Noonan said because the state budget process is not yet complete it is premature to talk about what might happen with the shelter.

There is already $100,000 for the shelter in the budget adopted by the House. Thomas Mitchell, an aide to Rosenberg, said Friday that the shelter is assured at least $100,000, but not the entire $200,000. “It will be somewhere in between,” Mitchell said.

The differences between the House and Senate budgets will be reconciled by a legislative conference committee.

The shelter has operated in the church between November through April since fall 2009. It has been run for the past three seasons by Craig’s Doors, which followed the Center for Human Development of Springfield and Milestone Ministries of Indian Orchard.

Hadley dam

Meanwhile, Rosenberg, the Senate majority leader, said the money for the dam at the North Hadley Pond is assured because the House budget also includes the spending which means it will not be reduced by the conference committee.

Rosenberg praised state Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, for securing the funding in the House budget.

Hadley Town Meeting approved using $100,000 in Community Preservation Act money, and there will be continuing efforts to raise public and private money for the estimated $350,000 needed to repair the 82-foot-long concrete structure near River Drive and Mount Warner Road.

Rosenberg added that the Senate budget prioritizes local aid, including $4.4 billion for Chapter 70 school funding, and provides $40 million that serves as the second half of the so-called “50/50” funding for the University of Massachusetts.

Besides the additional money for the homeless shelter, other items Rosenberg placed by amendment in the Senate budget that are not in the House spending plan include:

∎ $200,000 for the Creative Challenge Index that measures the extent to which schools provide opportunities for students to engage in creative work;

∎ $200,000 for Civil War preservation projects;

∎ mandating that the Massachusetts Offender Recidivism Reduction Program expand to include a court in a rural county experiencing high case loads;

∎ creating a study commission to review elevator safety, maintenance, and inspections.

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