AROUND THE VALLEY
Comprehensive PFAS Legislation Will Help Protect Public Water Sources
This week, U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan voted to pass the PFAS Action Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation to clean up PFAS contaminations, help families who have been exposed to the dangerous “forever chemicals,” and prevent future exposures.
PFAS chemicals are manmade and have been used in common products such as firefighting foam, non-stick cookware, water resistant clothing, cleaning products, paints and sealants, personal care products, and cosmetics since the 1940s. Despite being linked to harmful health effects, these forever chemicals have been discovered in the drinking water of more than 2,000 communities nationwide, including in 50 public water sources reported in Massachusetts this year alone.
To protect communities from PFAS chemicals, the PFAS Action Act will require:
- Cleanup of sites contaminated with perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) – two of the most hazardous PFAS chemicals – as well as setting air emission limits, prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS, and limiting the introduction of new PFAS chemicals into commerce;
- Comprehensive health testing for all PFAS, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water;
- Development of a risk-communication strategy and establish a website with information on testing of household well water;
- A drinking water standard for PFAS that protects public health and holds polluters accountable;
The act will also provide grants to impacted water systems, create a voluntary label for cookware that is PFAS free, provide guidance for first responders to limit their exposures, and require effluent limitations and pretreatment standards for PFAS introduction or discharge.
Arhaus Opens New Location at Tuscan Village
Arhaus, an artisan-crafted furniture and home décor store, opened a new 15,000 square-foot location at Tuscan Village in Salem, N.H., marking its first retail venture in the state. The new showroom will provide customers with heirloom-quality furniture and décor as well as design services.
Founded in 1986 with a mission to build unique, high quality home furnishings while sustaining the Earth’s natural resources and giving back whenever possible, Arhaus is committed to using sustainably sourced, recycled, and reclaimed materials and works directly with artisans and workshops. The new Salem location at Tuscan Village also offers complimentary design services to help customers with their home projects of any size.
In celebration of their grand opening at Tuscan Village, Arhaus is partnering with American Forests to plant 10,000 trees across the United States.
Baker-Polito Administration Awards $7.5 Million to Early Education Programs
The Baker-Polito Administration and the Children’s Investment Fund (CIF), with its affiliate the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC), awarded $7.5 million in Early Education and Out of School Time Capital Fund (EEOST) capital improvement grants to thirty-six organizations to renovate childcare facilities that serve primarily low-income families.
The grants to child care centers and out-of-school time programs range from $100,000-$250,000, and this year the emphasis shifted to provide capital funding needed to address health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. The capital grants support major renovation and construction projects at early education and out-of-school time facilities to improve the quality of learning environments for children in Massachusetts.
The Merrimack Valley organizations who received grants were the Haverhill YMCA, Community Day Care Center of Lawrence (The Community Group) and the YWCA of Northeastern Massachusetts in Lawrence.
New Partnership Between NECC and Fortune 500 Employers will Lead to “Job-Ready” Skills
This fall, Northern Essex Community College (NECC) will offer two new micro-credentials, in sales and customer service and business analytics, geared for those looking to begin, change, or enhance their careers. NECC is collaborating with Wayfair, Dell, and HubSpot, which was recently voted #4 on Glassdoor’s annual list of Best Places to Work.
While other colleges may offer micro-credentials, what is unique to NECC’s program is the level of involvement of the employers, according to Alex Rodriguez, the NECC’s director of corporate & community education. These firms helped shape the curriculum and will continue to be part of the program, speaking to classes, providing case studies, and participating in networking events. In turn, they will have more immediate access to program talent and are eager to hire participants.
The Sales and Service course will cover “real world” sales, customer service, and management/supervisory skills and will prepare students for sales careers in any industry. The Business Analytics course will prepare students for careers analyzing data that will allow them to draw conclusions to develop business strategies to improve performance.
Rep. Trahan, Energy Secretary Granholm Announce $3.8 Million for MA-03 Small Business Research and Development Grants
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan and Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm, along with Senator Edward J. Markey announced awards totaling $3,841,107 to small businesses in the third district working on advanced scientific tools and clean, secure energy for the American people. The funding announcements were part of 110 grants across 26 states for projects pursuing technological solutions that support the Biden-Harris Administration’s clean energy goals – in areas varying from cybersecurity, renewable energy, carbon management, grid reliability, and fusion energy.
Small businesses represent 99.9% of all U.S. businesses, employ nearly half of American workers, and create two out of every three new jobs in the private sector.
Selected projects include:
- Aspen Products Group, Inc., Marlborough, Mass.: Low-Cost Energy Recovery Ventilator Incorporating a High Flux Moisture-Permeable Membrane.
- Physical Sciences Inc., Andover, Mass.: Efficient process for the production of high conductivity, carbon-rich materials from coal.
- Solid Material Solutions, Chelmsford, Mass.: Advanced silver sheathed 2212/Ag wire for high field magnets.
- Triton Systems, Inc., Chelmsford, Mass.: Wave Energy Harvesting to Power Ocean Buoys
JDCU Awards $1,500 to L’Arche Boston North
Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union (JDCU) presented L’Arche Boston North with a $1,500 donation, through their second-quarter Give-A-Click campaign.
The Give-A-Click program runs quarterly, with community members visiting the site, learning about the worthy non-profit contestants, and casting their vote for the one they would like to support.
L’Arche Boston North (LBN) homes is a local non-profit offering a welcoming place for people with intellectual disabilities. LBN is a community where people with disabilities, and those who assist them, live together and create a compassionate environment. In this community, the members can live independently or in a household with others. They provide daily programs, arts and crafts, and part-time jobs to the residences. These members learn valuable lessons about patience, faith, and love.
Help MassDOT Collect Information About Bicycling Habits in the Commonwealth
MassDOT is conducting a survey to learn more about why Massachusetts residents ride a bike, how the pandemic affected how often they ride bikes, and what they expect their bike habits to look like in the future. This brief survey will help inform bicycle planning in the state. Click here to take the survey.
MOVERS & SHAKERS
Elder Services CEO Receives National Excellence in Leadership Award
Joan Hatem-Roy, CEO of the Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley and North Shore, has been awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging. The award is given to Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and Title VI directors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership capabilities at the local, state, or national level in advancing the mission of the Older Americans Act and preparing communities for our nation’s rapidly aging population. A Methuen native, Hatem-Roy has worked at Elder Services for more than 38 years, beginning as one of the first elder protective service workers in Massachusetts. As CEO, Hatem-Roy leads the largest AAA in New England, serving more than 40,000 individuals annually. During the past three years, she has navigated the agency through a natural gas explosion that devastated three communities we serve; a merger with a neighboring agency, North Shore Elder Services; and the COVID-19 pandemic.