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Easthampton Chamber seeks to offset Manhan River bridge closure impacts

KEVIN GUTTING
The Northampton St. (Rt. 10) bridge over the Manhan River in Easthampton.

KEVIN GUTTING The Northampton St. (Rt. 10) bridge over the Manhan River in Easthampton. Purchase photo reprints »

The Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce is hoping to help the community deal with the unavoidable inconveniences related to the reconstruction of the Route 10 bridge over the Manhan River by keeping people informed through text messages and email newsletters.

Chamber President Patrick Brough said anyone can sign up for the monthly newsletters, which will include updates on the construction and any planned closures, and the text messages that will keep them abreast of even last minute traffic jams or closures.

Brough said that while businesses located on Route 10 will undoubtedly be affected when traffic is detoured away, the Chamber is trying to help them to be prepared.

“We’ve seen the impacts of bridge closures and other projects in other communities and we’ve learned that the more information people have about what’s going on is helpful for members to plan for a slow-down in drive-by traffic or whatever else,” he said.

The 61-year-old bridge, located on Northampton Street just North of the downtown rotary, is scheduled to be closed for six months starting in the spring during the $3.75 million reconstruction project. Northern Construction Service has already started to install traffic signals and signs for when traffic will be detoured on O’Neill, Lovefield and Pleasant streets, as well as West Street, during the closure.

The first newsletter, sent out Thursday, included information about the traffic light installations, links to Massachusetts Department of Transportation documents about the project and links to the websites of member businesses that will be affected by the detours.

“MassDOT has been very good about keeping us updated, they’ve let us sit in on construction meetings,” Brough said.

He said the chamber invested in the text messaging service because it provides the most immediate way to contact members. “During construction and utility work, especially in the winter, scheduling closures could be affected by weather and might change,” he said.

Businesses or residents can sign up for either service on the chamber’s website at www.easthamptonchamber.org or get on the text message list by texting “manhan” to 96362.

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Donations needed

The Easthampton Toy Program is seeking donations to fund the purchase of toys to be distributed as holiday gifts for approximately 300 needy children in the city. The program, run in memory of former Town Administrator John Chmura, provides two toys per child 10 years or younger so that struggling families can have presents under the Christmas tree.

Families are already picking up their gifts, and will be through Thursday, but the program is still almost $8,000 short of its $15,000 goal to cover the costs of purchasing about 600 toys. So far, the program has received just over $7,000 in donations.

Last year, when the fund helped 168 families, it raised $15,502, said Karen Cadieux, the mayor’s administrative assistant, who runs the program with Personnel Director Raisa Riggott.

Cadieux also gives credit to establishments and groups in the city who are contributing by holding fundraising events, including Whiskerz Pub, the Pulaski Club and the Brass Cat. The city’s Helping Hand Society also donates a book for each child and $25 gift certificates for each family, and the Community Center knitting group knits 300 sets of hats and mittens and over 90 blankets, Cadieux added.

Checks made payable to the Easthampton Toy Program can be mailed to the Municipal Building at 50 Payson Ave., Easthampton, MA 01027, and cash or checks can be dropped off at the mayor’s office.

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Hunting, fishing licenses

Hunting and fishing licenses for 2013 are now on sale in the city clerk’s office in the Municipal Building.

City Clerk Barbara LaBombard said she is one of few clerks still selling the licenses in person since the state Department of Fish and Game changed the licensing process last year to encourage applicants to get licenses and permits online. Because the online purchases require a credit card and a printer, some prefer to purchase them at the clerk’s office, where they can pay cash, she said.

For information on permit or license costs, visit the state’s website at www.mass.gov/massfishhunt.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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