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Tighe & Bond Publishes 2017 Water and Sewer Rate Survey Results

WESTFIELD — Tighe & Bond published the results of its most recent Massachusetts Water and Sewer Rate Survey. Since 1997, Tighe & Bond has gathered and published Massachusetts water and sewer user rate data that municipal government and private water suppliers can use as a benchmarking tool for comparing their rates against other suppliers in the state. The survey, conducted across the state during 2017, includes typical annual homeowner water and sewer costs for most systems throughout Massachusetts. It also provides information regarding rate structures and billing cycles. This can be particularly useful information when suppliers are considering adjustments to their current rates or rate structures. Tighe & Bond is now teaming with the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina School of Government to present the results of the firm’s rate study using a free, online rates dashboard developed, hosted and maintained by the center. This gives users more flexibility in examining the survey data. Users can adjust the assumed annual usage the comparison is based on, review conservation and affordability metrics, as well as compare annual bills. They can also compare rates by utility size, river basin, geographic area, and median household income. The 2017 water survey indicates that annual water costs in in Massachusetts range from a low of $123 to a high of $2,025. The 2017 average is $595, and the median is $568. Sixty-five percent of survey respondents have increased their rates since the 2014 survey. The 2017 sewer survey indicates that annual sewer costs in in Massachusetts range from a low of $229 to a high of $2,316. The 2017 average is $862, and the median is $838. Three-quarters of survey respondents have increased their rates since the 2014 survey. Anyone can access the online rates dashboard, or request a copy of these survey results, by visiting www.tighebond.com/category/rate-surveys.

Opioid-related Overdose Deaths Fell by More Than 8% in 2017

BOSTON — Opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts declined in 2017 by an estimated 8.3% compared to 2016. This is the first time in several years there has been a year-over-year decline, according to the quarterly report released by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This is the third consecutive quarterly report where the number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths declined. The total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017 was 1,977, which is 178 fewer deaths than the 2,155 estimated and confirmed deaths in 2016, or an 8.3% decrease. In previous years, the year-over-year comparisons showed increases in opioid-related overdose deaths; the estimated opioid-related overdose death rate in 2016 increased by 22% from 2015, there was a 30% increase in 2015 from the prior year, and in 2014, there was a 39% increase from 2013.

Bradley Airport to Introduce Non-stop Service to St. Louis

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — The Connecticut Airport Authority (CAA) announced the debut of new daily, non-stop service between Bradley International Airport and St. Louis Lambert International Airport on Southwest Airlines. The service will commence on Aug. 7, utilizing a Boeing 737, with an average of 143 seats. The daily departure from Bradley International Airport is scheduled for 11:10 a.m. (Eastern Time), with an arrival at St. Louis Lambert International Airport at 12:45 p.m. (Central Time). The inbound flight is scheduled to leave St. Louis at 4:25 p.m. (Central) and arrive at Bradley at 7:50 p.m. (Eastern). This route will be Southwest’s 10th non-stop destination out of Bradley International Airport. The airline currently offers non-stop service from Bradley to Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, Orlando, Tampa, and West Palm Beach. The airline first started flying out of Bradley in 1999.

State Announces Grants to Restore Rivers, Boost Climate Readiness

BOSTON — The state recently announced $97,397 in state grant funds for priority projects in the city of Northampton and the towns of Duxbury, Middleton, and West Boylston to remove dams, aid in the restoration of rivers to their natural state, and increase climate readiness. Benefits of river restoration include increased habitat for fish and wildlife, flood management, landscape development, and an increase in recreational opportunities and access. The grant funds are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). Locally, work will include the Upper Roberts Meadow Brook restoration and the Upper Roberts Meadow Brook dam removal in Northampton, to be funded with a $25,000 state grant. The brook is a cold-water stream with a resident trout population. Removal of the 30-foot-high dam will provide numerous environmental benefits, including conversion of the dam impoundment back to a free-flowing reach, reconnection of approximately nine miles of upstream habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, and repair of ecological processes that support a healthy stream system, including the movement of sediment and organic matter. This grant will support the city in completing the permitting phase, conducting the bid phase, and beginning the project implementation phase. Priority projects are evaluated by DER on their ecological benefit, cost, size, practicality, feasibility, contribution to climate readiness, opportunity for public education and recreation, available program resources, and partner support.

New Energy-efficiency Program Offers Opportunities and Rebates

BOSTON — A new pilot program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) is making incentives for energy-efficiency upgrades in residential buildings with one to four units available to Massachusetts residents, including those serviced by municipal lighting companies. DOER, established to develop and implement policies and programs to further the energy-related goals of the Commonwealth, has created the Home Energy Market Value Performance (MVP) pilot program to test innovations to residential energy-efficiency program delivery. This program is designed to be custom-built around a home’s individual needs instead of a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all process, relying on the participating contractors’ expertise in building science and advanced modeling software used during the energy audit. The incentives and rebates available for energy-efficiency upgrades are based on the reduction of annual energy consumption of the home. The initial audit will model the current annual energy usage, and the energy specialists will create a plan to reduce that usage. Together with the energy specialists, homeowners can make decisions about what measures to install or upgrade based on their homes’ particular needs and the projected incentive paid by the program. A site visit will be conducted after the upgrades have been completed to confirm their installation and approve the customer’s rebate package. The MVP pilot will run until November 2019 or until all funding is spent, which is estimated to cover 600 projects statewide. Massachusetts residences up to a four-unit building that meet health and safety standards are eligible for participation, including condominiums and rentals with written agreement from the landlord. Currently, homes that heat with Berkshire Gas or that are on a reduced rate code or heating assistance are not eligible for the program. The pilot consists of just eight participating contractors across the state. Locally, the Energy Store, an Easthampton-based Building Performance Institute Goldstar Contractor, was chosen as a participating contractor. Inquiries about the DOER MVP pilot can be directed to the Energy Store at [email protected]

Advertising Club Accepting Scholarship Applications

SPRINGFIELD — The Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts scholarship committee announced that scholarship applications are now available online at adclubwm.org. Applications will also be available through guidance departments at high schools in Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties, or by contacting the Ad Club at (413) 736-2582. In 2018, one $1,000 scholarship will be awarded. Western Mass. seniors who plan to attend an accredited college or technical school to study advertising, communications, marketing, or graphics arts and will be attending in September 2018 are encouraged to apply. The scholarship must be applied against tuition and fees at the school. Candidates will be judged on academic performance; extracurricular activities; community service and/or work experience; a demonstrated interest in advertising, communications, marketing, or graphic design; personal recommendations; and a letter of introduction outlining future plans. Completed scholarship applications and all support materials must be submitted to the Ad Club and postmarked by Friday, March 30. Scholarship decisions are made by the scholarship committee of the Advertising Club of Western Massachusetts, and are considered final. The scholarship will be awarded at the Ad Club’s Creative Awards show in May.

HCC Foundation Offers More Than $200,000 in College Scholarships

HOLYOKE — More than $200,000 in scholarships is available for new, current, and transferring Holyoke Community College (HCC) students for the 2018-19 academic year. Students must be currently enrolled at HCC or have been accepted for the upcoming academic year to be eligible for scholarships, which are awarded through the HCC Foundation. Last year, for the 2017-18 academic year, the HCC Foundation awarded scholarships to more than 200 students. For more information or to fill out the online application, visit www.hcc.edu/scholarships. The application deadline is Wednesday, March 21. For more information, call the HCC Foundation scholarship office at (413) 552-2182 or visit the Institutional Advancement office in Donahue 170 on the HCC campus, 303 Homestead Ave., Holyoke.

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