Around Amherst: Input sought on town manager evaluation

  • The Amherst Town Council is beginning an annual review process for Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman. gazette file photo

Staff Writer
Published: 9/23/2022 1:41:54 PM
Modified: 9/23/2022 1:41:16 PM

AMHERST — Community feedback is being sought by the Town Council as it begins the annual evaluation of Town Manager Paul Bockelman.

Comments about the town manager’s performance, which can be submitted in writing via the town’s website, email or postal mail, are due by midnight on Sept. 30.

The public can respond to performance goals set for the town manager related to both municipal policy, such as climate action and economic vitality; and town management, including long-term vision and community engagement.

Council President Lynn Griesemer told the councilors this week that the evaluation work is well underway.

“We’re on track,” Griesemer said. “We have sent out the staff questionnaires, we have sent the committees, boards and commissions email, and we have also placed things on Engage Amherst.”

All public submissions will be read by councilors and Bockeman, but as personnel documents they are exempt from public disclosure.

Submissions should be made through Engage Amherst at, by email at or by conventional mail to the Amherst Town Council, 4 Boltwood Ave., Amherst, MA 01002.

Mural nears completion

A mural behind the former A.J. Hastings store in downtown Amherst is being completed by a 1987 Amherst Regional High School graduate.

Mark Pfohl, who returned to Amherst in May, is finishing the mural he began painting a decade ago.

While Pfohl began the lower half over the past few months, he recently raised $1,000 online to rent a scissor lift to get to the second and third floors of the brick wall.

Pfohl’s experience in street art comes after living in Brazil for 20 years.

His GoFundMe campaign is at

Public health matters

Amherst’s public health director is advising residents to get the updated COVID-19 vaccines that offer protection against the omicron variant as soon as possible.

“Get the shot sooner than later,” Jennifer Brown said during a recent in-person Cuppa Joe community meeting with the town manager at the Bangs Community Center.

While some residents may strategize to get the latest vaccine closer to Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas, before having family get-togethers, Brown said she hopes to see more people access the vaccine, as well as the flu shot, in early fall. She noted both can be administered at the same time.

Brown said her office monitors 63 infectious diseases in town on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, Olivia Lara-Cahoon, the public health nurse, said Tapestry Health is again doing regular outreach on the streets of Amherst.

Tapestry sends a van once a week to collect needles and sharps and to do drug testing and provide information, especially homeless people, Lara-Cahoon said. The organization tries to be discreet, parking the unmarked vehicle close to the University Lodge, where some guests of Craig’s Doors, the agency that assists homeless individuals, are staying.

“People will know where to go because they (Tapestry) will be out on the street,” Lara-Cahoon said.

League conversation

Members of the League of Women Voters of Amherst will be discussing the organization, its future and how its work promotes free speech during a virtual meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The event is part of the Judy Brooks Conversation Series the League is doing in partnership with Amherst Media.

Brooks, a longtime League member, died in 2018 at 74, after years of serving the community, including as a Select Board member in Amherst, a schoolteacher in Pelham and leader of local Black History Month celebrations.

For the Zoom link, go to

Cisco’s cafe

Francisco Perez, who has run the Amherst House of Pizza at Riverside Park Shopping Plaza, will open Cisco’s Cafe in the Trolley Barn on Cowls Road this fall.

“Our menu will feature Latin favorites like papusas, fried plantains and lots of avocado,” Perez said in a statement.

Most food served will be Latin and American breakfast and lunch items.

Perez, a native of El Salvador who lives in Sunderland, will oversee the new restaurant with his wife, Reyna Palacios.


TUESDAY: Library trustees, 4:30 p.m.

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