Velis: Listening to business, helping veterans, planting trees this week



Happy autumn, everyone!

With the passing of the equinox this last week, and summer being officially over, things are starting to pick back up in the State House. To start this week, the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee visited Hanscom Air Force Base in Middlesex County, where we received a briefing from the Massachusetts National Guard about their initiatives as well as cyber capabilities. As Senate chair of this committee, it’s imperative that I know what the Guard needs, as well as how they’re functioning. I can also say that as a major in the Army reserves, it’s good to see how the other branches of our military are working.

The Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee also held a hearing on Friday at the State House where we heard testimony on legislation related to services for veterans and family members throughout the commonwealth. A number of Gold Star Family members testified on legislation that directly impacts them, and their testimony was powerful and moving. Now that hearing has been held, I will be working with committee members on this critical legislation in the coming weeks.

I also got my hands dirty this week with Gov. Baker and DCR Director Jim Montgomery at a tree planting in General Shepard Park in downtown Westfield. This was the 30,000th tree celebration for the “Greening Gateway Cities” tree planting program, which aims to regreen midsize cities across the commonwealth. Trees mitigate stormwater runoff, reduce heating and cooling energy use, clean our air, and just plain make our city look good. I look forward to more of these plantings in our Gateway Cities as the program continues.

I’m always proud to attend new business openings and I’m excited to announce the grand opening of Giftology on Route 20 in Westfield. This store specializes in gifts made by local artists for every occasion. Mayor Humason and I were lucky enough to be invited to the ribbon cutting and I’m already looking forward to all the anniversaries I’ll be attending as they become a staple in our community.

This week was also the Greater Westfield Chamber of Commerce Breakfast. It’s been almost two years since the onset of the pandemic, and our small businesses have borne the brunt of the resulting economic decline. Thankfully, we’re starting to show signs of recovery, but we’re not out of the woods yet, or anywhere near where we were before the pandemic. The Chamber allows our local business to work together to grow, and their annual breakfast provides a forum for their concerns and struggles. As a legislator, it’s important for myself and my colleagues to work alongside the business community so that we can create policy that benefits the entire community. This year’s breakfast was a huge success and I thank the Chamber for putting it on.

The Big E is finally back! After two years away, one of Western Massachusetts’ largest economic drivers is finally open again. I’ll be seeing many of you this week at the Westfield Day parade on Thursday. Feel free to say hello if you see me, and be sure to enjoy the rest of the Eastern States Exposition safely and responsibly.

As always, if there is anything I can do to assist you, please never hesitate to reach out to my office.  I can be reached at my email at [email protected] or by phone at 413-572-3920, and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.

John Velis, D-Westfield, represents Agawam, Easthampton, Granville, Holyoke, Montgomery, Russell, Southampton, Southwick, Russell, Tolland, Westfield and part of Chicopee in the state Senate.

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