I hope you all are doing well and staying safe. We had quite a bit of snow this week, and I want to thank all the first responders and public works employees who were on call in our district.
I was lucky enough to begin this past week listening to my good friend Senator Mike Rush sing “The Army Goes Rolling Along” over Zoom. Some of you might remember that me and the Senator, who is also a Lt. Commander in the US Navy Reserves, had a friendly bet on the Army/Navy football game last weekend. Luckily, the outcome was in my favor. In addition to the fun singing, the Senator made a donation to the Holyoke Soldiers Home and I made a donation to the Fisher House of Boston in his district, both great organizations serving our Vets. You can see the recording of the Senator’s performance on my social media, @SenJohnVelis.
On Monday I met with Representative-Elect Pat Duffy via video-chat, who will be the new State Representative for Holyoke starting in January. I also had the honor of speaking with Ambassador Alexandra Papadopoulou, the Greek Ambassador to the United States. We discussed my recent re-election and other Greek legislators throughout the country.
This past Tuesday, I remotely recorded an interview with Comcast Newsmakers. I went over the recent FY21 budget that the legislature passed and answered questions on my amendments securing funding for the Holyoke Soldiers Home. The interview will be released in the New Year and will be available on YouTube and Comcast on-demand.
Later in the day, I had a phenomenal virtual meeting with the Holyoke Rotary Club where we discussed how COVID-19 has affected state finances and in turn how that has impacted municipalities. During these difficult times it has been incredible to see the ways our community has stepped up to help those struggling, especially those facing food insecurity issues.
On Wednesday night, I joined Holyoke community members for the 5th annual Holyoke Community Dinner Celebration, where we handed out meals and chatted with residents driving through.
Friday afternoon I joined the Russell Police Department for their food drive and handed out Christmas Dinner boxes to community members. I’m so grateful for the organizations, sponsors, and volunteers who organized these events!
This week I am also happy to report that Westfield and Chicopee were both selected by MassDOT as grant winners for the Shared Streets and Spaces Program, which provides funds to municipalities to improve public spaces and increase safe mobility. Westfield will be receiving a little more than $225,000 to upgrade and expand existing sidewalks in the City and to improve facilities at adjacent PVTA bus stops. Chicopee will be receiving just above $75,000 to develop a network of mixed-use lanes for pedestrians and cyclists in Chicopee Center.
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: [email protected] or by phone: (413) 572-3920 and you can find me online at senatorjohnvelis.com.
John C. Velis