Five College Area News

Hamp eyes plastics ban

NORTHAMPTON — The city is considering joining a growing list of communities nationwide to ban plastic bags in supermarkets and other retail stores, and Styrofoam disposable food and beverage containers used in restaurants. Responding to multiple requests from constituents asking the city to move toward such a ban, and after several months of research, City Council Vice President Jesse M. Adams this week presented an ordinance for the council’s consideration. Adams said the city has been recognized as a leader in sustainability measures, and added 0

Study faults Amherst cops, UMass in melee

AMHERST — A much-anticipated report on the March 8 “Blarney Blowout” melee faults University of Massachusetts officials for failing to recognize the risk of a swelling group of young people on campus and Amherst police for reacting with too much force once the hard-drinking hordes surged into town. While the report by former Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis assigns blame to both town and gown, it reserved its sharpest criticism for town police, calling the force and its leaders “overwhelmed and unprepared.” “During this event, 0

UMass brings discovery to all

AMHERST — Robert MacWright brings an enthusiasm for the nexus between gee whiz technology, legal logic, and the history of American entrepreneurship to his job as director of commercial ventures and intellectual property at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Sure, the office brings in money for the campus through the patents and licenses derived from the work of its researchers, he said. “But one of our most important goals is to improve the odds that science gets out of the lab to benefit the public.” 0

UMass Amherst gets $1M to help veterans enter nursing workforce

AMHERST — The University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Nursing has received a three-year, $1 million federal grant to implement “Heroes into Health Care: Veterans Entering the Nursing Workforce,” a program designed to increase the number and percentage of ethnic minority and disadvantaged veterans who successfully complete a university-based nursing education and become employed as nurses. Funding for the new program comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration. Jean E. Swinney, professor of nursing, principal investigator and 0

Two new playgrounds take shape in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — Fast-moving plans to design and build two new community playgrounds on opposite sides of the city by the end of the year were unveiled at a public meeting Thursday night. One playground is planned for a portion of Lampron Park next to Bridge Street School near downtown, while the other will be built at the new recreation fields complex in Florence. Aside from a few suggestions and minor tweaks to designs presented by Carlos Nieto, a landscape architect from Berkshire Design Group, most 0

Geryk gets $11,000 raise

AMHERST — Amherst School Superintendent Maria Geryk has been given an $11,000 salary increase by the school boards that serve the Amherst-Pelham Regional School district, boosting her annual salary to $158,000. The raise was announced in a press release Thursday by Darius Modestow of Pelham, chairman of Union # 26 which governs the Amherst and Pelham elementary schools. “We are delighted that Ms. Geryk continues her service as Superintendent of Schools for the Amherst-Pelham, Amherst, and Pelham School districts,” he wrote. Reached by telephone Thursday, 0

UMass students will volunteer on ‘impact day’

AMHERST — A white picket fence surrounding the North Cemetery on East Pleasant Street in Amherst will be getting a fresh coat of paint Saturday. Also that day, senior citizens will be provided companionship at the Northampton Senior Center and The Overlook at Northampton retirement community in Leeds. And in Springfield, several garden plots will be created through the Gardening the Community initiative. These are among the 29 project sites in communities throughout the Pioneer Valley where more than 400 University of Massachusetts students will 0

Group tackling racism goes public in Amherst

AMHERST — With a sharp new website, a banner across South Pleasant Street and slate of speakers and films, an effort to draw diverse people together to tackle racism in town is going public. The project called “Coming Together: Understanding Racism, Working for Justice, Building Connections,” launched by retired Amherst elementary school principal Russ Vernon-Jones over a year ago, became visible this week with a blue and white banner announcing its name, purpose and web address — It’s not to be confused with “Amherst 0

Rolling Green sale complete

AMHERST — Rolling Green Apartments has a new owner who has pledged to keep at least 41 units for low-income families and make capital investments at the property. Boston developer Beacon Communities on Wednesday completed the purchase of the 422 Belchertown Road site for $30.25 million from EQR Equity Residential of Chicago. In the spring, Town Meeting agreed to spend $1.25 million from the Community Preservation Act account to support the transaction and ensure that 41 of the 204 units are reserved for low-income families. 0

Amherst woman’s cause of death unconfirmed; DA’s office says ‘public should not be concerned’

AMHERST — Authorities have not confirmed the cause of death for a woman found dead near the UMass campus Tuesday, but say there is no reason for the community to worry. “The public should not be concerned,” said Mary Carey, a spokeswoman for the Northwestern District Attorney’s office. “There’s nothing to indicate the public should be concerned.” The body, found near the intersection of Amity Street and University Drive, is believed to be that of Marissa Jackson, a 26-year-old Amherst woman missing since Friday, Carey 0