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COVID-19 community updates

  • The Atlas Farm Store in South Deerfield is offering curbside pickup. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 4/7/2020 7:05:49 PM
Business updates

The Atlas Farm Store in South Deerfield has transitioned to a 100% curbside pickup model. Atlas Farm remains dedicated to growing and distributing local food, while making business decisions that prioritize the health and well-being of customers, farmworkers, and retail staff.

Current hours for curbside pickup are Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. General Manager Kelly Hickey says they believe it is the best way to continue to serve our community while keeping staff and customers safe.

Farmworkers and workers supporting groceries, including farm stands, are defined as providing “COVID-19 essential services” under Gov. Charlie Baker’s March 23 emergency order.

Atlas Farm is a 95-acre certified organic diversified vegetable farm in Deerfield. The Atlas Farm Store has been in operation since 2013, providing regional farm products as well as Atlas Farm’s own certified organic produce. More information can be found at www.atlasfarm.com.

AT&T is offering curbside pickup options to keep customers and employees safe. The company is offering three fast, free, no-contact delivery options for online orders, including;

■curbside pick-up for online orders at an open AT&T store;

■doorstep delivery with virtual setup (in select markets); and

■free express shipping, activation and upgrade.

Through May 13, wireless customers will be provided more mobile hotspot data, an additional 15GB a month for each line on an unlimited plan that currently includes a monthly tethering allotment.

The Paycheck Protection Program, a key program of the CARES Act, meant to help businesses keep their employees on payroll for at least the next eight weeks by providing forgivable loan funds that can be used for payroll, group health benefits/insurance premiums, rent/mortgage payments, utilities, and interest on certain debt obligations, is available to area businesses.

The Small Business Administration is accepting applications as of April 3.

Practically all small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, both for-profit and nonprofit, are eligible for this program, including self-employed and independent contractors. Applications must be facilitated through a financial institution (bank, lender, credit union) and will be reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Local updates

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles announces that all of the passenger plate registrations that have expired in March or will be expiring in April have been extended for 60 days.

Registrations that expired in March have been extended until May 31, and registrations that expire in April have been extended until June 30. Registration renewals can continue to be performed online at Mass.Gov/RMV during this time. Customers seeking to do so in-person will not be able to make an appointment and should delay their visit to a service center at this time.

In addition, the RMV recently has implemented key changes to service delivery and organizational protocols as follows:

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the RMV has implemented a strict no walk-in policy at a limited number of service centers that remain open to the general public. Service for necessary in-person transactions is available by appointment only. Customers should visit Mass.Gov/RMV to make a reservation at an open service center or find information on over 40 transactions that can be conducted online, by phone, or by mail.

All driver’s licenses, ID cards, and learner’s permits, including commercial licenses and permits, that have expired or are expiring between March 1 and April 30, have had a 60-day extension applied to the current expiration date and do not need to be renewed at this time.

This does not apply to customers whose end of stay in the United States is the same as the expiration date on their driver’s license, ID card, or learner’s permit.

CDL medical certificates that expire on or after March 1 until April 30 will be extended until June 30 to prevent license downgrades and elective medical visits, as well as alleviate demand on medical providers.

The annual motor vehicle safety and emissions inspection stickers that expire on March 31 and April 30 have been extended 60 days and all motorcycle inspection stickers originally set to expire on May 31 must be inspected by June 30. The RMV is also extending the time during which newly registered vehicles must be inspected based on the purchase date.

In addition, the RMV has suspended all road tests through April 12. Class D and M learner’s permits knowledge exams have been suspended indefinitely. Commercial learner’s permit tests are available to be taken at the Milford and Wilmington RMV Service Centers during normal business hours and commercial road tests continue to occur.

For details on all of these extensions and additional information on RMV services and the RMV’s response to COVID-19, visit mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information.

Amherst taxes

Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman announced the extension of due dates for real estate and personal property tax bills, motor vehicle excise bills, water, and sewer utility bills, and exemption and deferral applications. Bockelman took that action under newly granted authority by the state Legislature and announced the action at a recent Town Council meeting.

Fourth-quarter real estate and personal property tax bills that were due May 1 are now due June 1.

Motor vehicle excise taxes issued with a due date of March 10 or later are now due on June 1, regardless of the due date printed on the bill.

Water and sewer utility bills issued with a due date of March 10 or later are now due on June 1, regardless of the due date printed on the bill.

Property tax peesonal Exemption and tax deferral applications with an original due date of April 1 are now due June 1.

Bockelman is also waiving the payment of interest and other penalties in the event of late payment of any real estate, personal property, motor vehicle excise, water, or sewer utility bills for an additional month, giving Amherst taxpayers until June 30 to make payment without incurring interest or late fees. Payments made after June 30 will be subject to interest and penalties back to June 1.

Taxpayers may make payments by mailing checks to Town Collector, Town of Amherst, 4 Boltwood Ave., Amherst, MA 01002; drop payment in the town collector drop box on the Main Street entrance of Town Hall at 4 Boltwood Ave.; or pay online at: amherstma.gov/119/View-and-Pay-Bills.

For more information, contact the Town Collector’s office at Collector@amherstma.gov or call 413-259-3020.

The Valley Press Club Annual Roast, scheduled to be held May 8 at the John Boyle O’Reilly Club in Springfield, has been postponed and will be recheduled to the fall.

UMassFive College Federal Credit Union provided support to community members and health care workers heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with food deliveries, by sending the Log Cabin Rolling catering van to food banks and hospitals in central and western Massachusetts.

UMassFive sponsored 150 portions of chicken pot pie, made fresh and delivered by Log Cabin Rolling, to be served at the Amherst Survival Center daily community meal. During the pandemic, the survival center is providing meals to go, serving participants outside in the parking lot.

UMassFive also sponsored the delivery of 200 meals to Emergency Room staff at Springfield’s Mercy Medical Center, and Worcester’s UMass Memorial Medical Center.

In addition, UMassFive has pledged $1,000 to the Food Bank of Western Mass and donated another $1,000 to the local farming nonprofit, Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture. CISA will use the funds as part of their Emergency Farm Fund, which provides zero-interest loans to local farms.

UMassFive members who wish to lend their own helping hand to their communities can participate via the credit union’s Buzz Points program, through which UMassFive has facilitated charitable donation options benefiting the Food Bank of Western Mass and the Amherst Survival Center.




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