Regional health district wins state grant

Money will expand services, add towns

A Franklin County regional health district will be able to roll out an electronic permitting system and add two new towns, thanks to a $68,317 state grant it received Tuesday.

“Its new grant will allow the Cooperative Public Health Service — a regional health district based in the Franklin Regional Council of Governments that provides housing and summer camp inspections, food safety inspections, septic maintenance and public health nursing — to expand in both size and scope, said Phoebe Walker, directory of community services.

The health district will now encompass 10 towns: Buckland, Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Hawley, Heath, Monroe and newcomers Leyden and Shelburne. Towns had chipped in some money but will gradually increase their contributions over time, said Walker.

Towns in the district will be able to benefit from a new electronic permitting system that will be rolled out this year, she said.

Homebuyers could contact their local Board of Health and find out, with a click of the button, exactly when the property’s septic system was installed, said Walker.

In addition, Board of Health employees could use the software to automatically send out emails to all restaurants that are due for a permit renewal. The businesses could then pay their annual fees online.

It would be modeled off the process the COG uses for its building inspection program, said Walker.

The grant was one of 27 “community innovation challenge” grants, totaling $2.25 million, awarded to communities across Massachusetts. Nearly half of the state’s towns will be impacted by the grants, which were awarded to programs that regionalized services to save money.

The Northwestern District’s Attorney office received two grants for anti-crime projects: a $81,288 grant to start a special task force to assist local departments during strings of crimes, and a $63,750 grant to expand a youth fire-starter intervention program.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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