Hilltown Voices: Domestic violence task force seeks participants

For the Gazette
Published: 9/3/2016 3:12:16 AM

As the Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force prepares for the coming year, it invites residents in the nine towns it serves to join in their mission of addressing and ending domestic abuse.

The task force covers the rural towns of Blandford, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Middlefield, Montgomery, Russell, Tolland and Worthington in Hampshire and Hampden counties.

Its goal is to end domestic violence in these communities through prevention, outreach, education, training, and by establishing and supporting local services.

In 1998 local residents, the staff from the Gateway Food Pantry, and the Massachusetts State Police created the task force because the communities had no local services for victims/survivors and no public transportation.

State Police  in Russell who were already thinly stretched, had difficulty responding to domestic violence calls from a 365-square-mile region on roads sometimes blocked by snow and ice.

Today, the task force meets monthly to work on making sure there are local services and transportation for survivors of domestic violence.

Its work with police and other local agencies ensures that support services are available and coordinated, and that everyone knows who to call when domestic violence occurs.

It collaborates with schools in the Gateway Regional School District to prevent dating abuse, and trains local professionals including police, health workers, and faith groups about domestic violence.

The task force also provides workshops for community residents on how to be effective bystanders to abuse.

The task force always is looking for new members and encourages anyone who is interested to attend a meeting.

Membership is open to community members and agencies in the nine participating towns.

People who have directly experienced domestic violence are especially encouraged to join.

Meetings are held  on the second Thursday of each month in Russell from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Those who want to participate  but are unable to attend meetings can still do so by becoming an “ally” and helping with out outreach, education, fundraising and a variety of other projects.

For more information, email the Task Force  at: southernhillsdvtaskforce@gmail.com or visit it  on Facebook.

Cummington road repair

A much-needed road repair project on Cole and Main streets is scheduled for Tuesday  through Sept. 16th.

Construction will take place between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. as the streets are resurfaced. At times, certain sections of the streets may be closed to traffic.

“We are urging the motoring public to leave a little earlier than usual and to drive carefully in that area,” Fire Chief Bernie Forgea said. “We are also telling people to enjoy the smooth ride once they are done but to be careful because the streets may be slick when wet.”

Forgea said that while the project may create some minor inconvenience, the end result will be well worth it.

“Those streets really need this work and that is need with a capital N. I know people are going to be very happy to get this done,” Forgea said.

Goshen event postponed

The Steam Power presentation by Larry Packard, originally scheduled for Sept. 11th, has been postponed due to the construction on the Town Hall.

The presentation will be rescheduled for sometime in 2017.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazette@gmail.com.

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