WE ARE HOMETOWN NEWS.

HUNTINGTON — Council on Aging Director Kathleen Peterson said while it’s been a challenge this winter between the weather and the construction of the new ramp leading to Town Hall and Stanton Hall, which is largely completed and waiting for railings; they are looking forward to fresh green landscapes and fresh ideas and activities over the next few months.

Peterson encouraged everyone to sign up as soon as possible for the annual St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage luncheon at Stanton Hall, with live music by Wild Thyme, on Saturday, March 16, at noon. The dinner, which will be limited to the first 70 that sign up by March 1, has a suggested donation of $7. Signups are being taken at 413-512-5205.

“We hope to see you there for good food and rousing music,” she said.

Peterson thanked the Huntington Evangelical Church for the use of its chapel next door to Town Hall, which has allowed the Council on Aging to continue to offer handicap accessible programming during the ramp work. She said activities that have had to be canceled due to weather will be rescheduled for the spring and summer.

“We are grateful for the refunding of our outreach worker, caregiver support and Memory Café from the Highland Valley Elder Services. Please utilize these services or we lose these services,” she said.

She said the Council on Aging also received funding from the Community Cultural Council for art and musical programming, and the Southern Hilltowns Adult Education Center is seeking a new grant to provide technical support and services for the community. Current exercise programs in Stanton Hall include chair yoga for $5 every Wednesday from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Line dancing has become a big hit on Thursday from 10 to 11 a.m., at no charge.

“We watch a line dancing instruction video and dance, dance, dance,” Peterson said.

Other new programs in the works include working with the Huntington Public Library to start a weekly book pickup and dropoff for homebound seniors. Anyone who would like to help with this new program or to have access to home delivery of books should call the Council on Aging to register.

The Council on Aging is also continuing with its Age and Dementia Friendly Planning group. The group completed three listening sessions with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and heard residents’ concerns and suggestions regarding public transportation, sidewalks and crosswalks in need of repair, housing and other services needed in our community. People who were not able to attend in person may email their thoughts to COA@huntingtonma.org.

Peterson said the Council on Aging would also like to hear how expanding the FRTA bus services to include not just seniors but people with disabilities and young adults over 18 would positively impact families and residents. Medical appointments and seniors would still be the priority. The expanded program comes with an app that ensures pick up and return services and tracks usage automatically.

The listening sessions were attended by the state Highway Department, which conducted a preliminary survey of the sidewalks on Route 112. Peterson said the Council on Aging will stay in contact with MassDOT for follow up information and their plan to improve conditions to comply with federal disability standards.

Peterson said the town will soon submit its plans to become an age-friendly community to AARP, which will yield access to more grants.

“We will be applying to AARP for a community grant to purchase and install benches along the downtown walking routes and at North Hall,” she said.

The next Age and Dementia Task Force meeting will be on March 5 at 10 a.m. at Stanton Hall. Peterson said all are welcome to attend to help create an action plan to improve the quality of life in Huntington.

amyporter@thewestfieldnews.com | + posts