Velis: Work continues on Soldiers’ Home reforms



It was great to see so many of you at the Big E this week. I’m sure plenty of you, just like me, very much missed the exposition last year. While my heart was happy to be back, my stomach might have had a little too much between the waffle burgers and the maple bacon mac and cheese (both of which I still highly recommend if you go this weekend). I was honored to be invited to both the Agawam Day and Westfield Day, and am already looking forward to next year’s fair.

This week was jam-packed with committee work and hearings, as well. Monday, I chaired a hearing with the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Recovery, where we heard testimony related to harm reduction and racial justice legislation. Tuesday was a hearing with the Joint Committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight. Wednesday morning brought with it a hearing for the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, which I am the vice chair of. Later on Wednesday, I also chaired a hearing with the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs, where we discussed potential reforms for the governance and organizational structure of the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. Now that the funding for a new physical building has been secured, our focus in the Legislature is on other reforms that must be implemented for the Soldiers’ Home. Much of this work will go through the Veterans and Federal Affairs committee. Fall is typically a very busy time for committee work and we are in full swing over here at the State House.

Westfield also welcomed two new businesses this week! I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cuttings for Heka Inc., a new cannabis dispensary, and First Choice Storage, a new storage business. I wish the best to both of these enterprises and I’m proud to see that new businesses are opening in our city as we move out of the pandemic.

Now that Halloween is just around the corner, the Old Burying Ground has started one of Westfield’s spookier New England traditions, its haunted cemetery tours. Another event that was sadly canceled last year due to COVID-19 is finally back and I am happy to actually play a part this year. I will be playing the role of Ezra Clapp, a man who built a home that was used as a tavern and meeting place for Westfield patriots during the Revolutionary War. It is said that the famous Gen. Henry Knox stayed in this tavern while hauling the captured English cannons from Fort Ticonderoga, N.Y., all the way to George Washington in Cambridge in 1776. If you’re looking for something spooky and educational to do with the family, the tours are this weekend only and tickets can be purchased for $10.

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, where you can also sign up for my newsletter.


John Velis, D-Westfield, represents Westfield, Southwick and all or part of nine other cities and towns in the state Senate.

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