Northampton City Council says goodbye to three members, revamps committees

Last modified: Tuesday, December 31, 2013
NORTHAMPTON — Always one with a quip, City Council President William H. Dwight opted for seriousness when he formally bid adieu to three councilors departing the city’s highest board in the coming days.

That goes against a tradition of past council presidents recognizing the work of departing councilors with a poem, a la Patrick Goggins; a mini-roast such as delivered by Michael Bardsley or some witty banter offered up by Clare Higgins.

In saying goodbye at the Dec. 19 council meeting to Owen Freeman-Daniels from Ward 3, Pamela C. Schwartz from Ward 4 and Eugene A. Tacy from Ward 7, Dwight talked about the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be a councilor.

“I did actually have some pithy remarks reserved for each councilor ... but I’ll spare you all that,” Dwight said. “I am sincerely grateful and really appreciate my work with you guys. And I will miss you.”

The outgoing councilors each received a plaque for their service to the community. They will be replaced by Ryan O’Donnell in Ward 3, Gina-Louise Sciarra in Ward 4 and Alisa F. Klein in Ward 7.

“We have three councilors going on to a better place, if you will,” Dwight said.


Council committee shakeup

Residents who follow such things may notice several changes to the City Council’s various subcommittees starting in January.

That’s because the council, for the first time in a decade, recently approved a series of changes to its committee structure, written by Vice President and At-large Councilor Jesse M. Adams, including the creation of a new board and the merging of two longtime boards into existing committees. The changes essentially move the committees under the council rules rather than in the city’s ordinances, as instructed by the charter.

Here’s a look at the council’s five subcommittees after the changes:

∎ Committee on Hearings, Investigations and Practices. This new committee would serve on an as-needed basis to prepare hearings, forums and community dialogs on any matter. It can also conduct investigations into city agencies or multiple-member bodies when asked by the council. Members would be appointed by the council president.

∎ Committee on Social Services, Veterans, Culture and Recreation. This committee combines the Committee on Cultural and Recreation Services and the Committee on Social Services and Veterans Affairs. While the committee will continue to evaluate Community Development Block Grant proposals geared toward the social services, it would no longer review proposals that deal with housing, infrastructure and related grants.

∎ Committee on Economic & Community Development, Housing and Land Use. This committee essentially remains unchanged, though its members will have the added responsibility of evaluating Community Development Block Grant proposals that deal with housing, infrastructure and related grants. That’s why “Community” has been added to its name.

∎ Committee on Rules, Orders, Appointments, and Ordinances. This committee folds the former Committee on Appointments and Evaluations into the Ordinance Committee.

∎ Committee on Public Safety and Finance Committee remain unchanged.


Help for veterans

Veterans and their spouses who need some help navigating through the benefits they may be entitled to have one more place to turn for help — the Senior Center.

Volunteer Paul Neville, who recently retired after 21 years as a benefits counselor for the Department of Veterans Affairs, is offering to provide free assistance and information for veterans on various topics such as service-connected disability compensation and non-service-connected or death pension benefits.

Neville will meet with veterans or their spouses by appointment on the first and last Wednesday of every month at the Senior Center, 67 Conz St. To schedule an appointment, contact the center at 587-1228.