5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester - Feb. 3, 2021

 by Tom MarinoFebruary 3, 2021

In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.

These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.

In today’s edition – February 3, 2021 - ThisWeekinWorcester.com has a new look, MassDOT awards $3.2 million in grants to 21 municipalities, a grant issued to QCC will enable 40 unemployed people to be trained to re-enter the workforce in healthcare, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey has tips to reduce the risk of electrical fires and the Better Business Bureau is encouraging people to protect private information on your vaccine card.


ThisWeekinWorcester.com Has a New Look

Over the past month, the team at ThisWeekinWorcester.com has worked to develop a faster, easier to use website for our audience.

On Wednesday, February 3, we launched our new, simplified look to the site. The new site promises to have faster load times and less-intrusive advertisements.

Additionally, we've added a search bar at the top of our homepage and a space to subscribe to our daily newsletter.

Over the next few days, we will undoubtedly be making more minor tweaks to the site to further improve your experience with us. Thank you for your continued support and patience as we make these improvements.

As always, our site will remain free to read and will provide what you want to know and what you need to know about what's happening in Worcester.


MassDOT Issues $3.2 Million in Grants to 21 Municipalities

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation [MassDOT] announced grant awards from the Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program to 21 municipalities across Massachusetts on Tuesday, February 2.

This is the third round of grants issued since the program launched on November 10. With over $3.2 million released in this round, the program has distributed $10 million.

According to MassDOT, of the 21 projects in 21 municipalities funded in this third funding round, 62% of recipients have never received a grant from the program before.

The grant awardees in Worcester County are:

  • Grafton received $300,000 to construct a new sidewalk on Milford Road, in order to provide pedestrians a safe walking route away from a heavily traveled street.
  • Leicester received $134,101 to expand the ADA-compliant sidewalk network connecting Towtaid Park to its surrounding neighborhoods, and install new benches and bicycle racks.
  • Paxton received $22,835.76 to install solar-powered pedestrian-oriented safety signs.
  • Southborough received $290,000 to support the implementation of a new, “Southborough History Walk,” to include the construction of new sidewalks on Marlboro Road (Route 85) and St. Marks Street, a new plaza/gathering area adjacent to the Public Library, and paths around the Old Burial Ground.
  •  Southbridge received $230,950 to install new pedestrian-oriented safety signage and flashing beacons at existing crosswalks and convert a new pedestrian plaza into a permanent community space for programming and an outdoor market.

The Shared Winter Streets and Spaces program, launched on November 10, provides technical and funding assistance to help Massachusetts cities and towns conceive, design, and implement tactical changes to curbs, streets, and parking areas to support public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce, focusing specially on the particular challenges of winter.

The program provides grants as small as $5,000 and as large as $500,000 for municipalities to quickly launch changes for safer walking, biking, public transit, recreation, commerce, and civic activities. These improvements can be intentionally temporary or can be pilots of potentially permanent changes.

MassDOT is particularly focused on projects that respond to the current public health crisis and provide safe mobility for children, for senior citizens, to public transportation, and to open space and parks.


QCC Awarded Grant to Train 40 to Return to Workforce

A 2020/2021 Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grant for Expanded Training Capacity & Employment Program Performance grant will enable Quinsigamond Community College to train and place unemployed people in the healthcare industry.

The $197,183 grant will provide funding for 40 unemployed residents to be part of the College’s Administrative Medical Professional Program.

QCC’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education (CWDCE) will provide training and placement services for 40 eligible, unemployed residents in the Central MA region.

Donnelly Workforce Success Grants serve people across Massachusetts whose life experiences and circumstances make it difficult for them to succeed in employment without targeted support.

The program train students to enter the workforce as a Medical Administrative Assistant in a variety of healthcare settings

Students who complete the program and remain employed for 60 days at 30-hours-a-week are eligible to receive a $500 stipend.

Students in the program will learn the roles and responsibilities of a healthcare team, interpersonal communication, medical records management, compliance with HIPAA, and diagnostic and procedural coding. Students will also learn how prepare for and appropriately respond to various life-threatening emergencies in the medical office setting.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that from 2019 to 2029, Medical Administrative Assistants will more than quadruple the job growth rate of all other occupations.


Reduce the Risk of Electrical Fire in the Home for National Fire Prevention Week

State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is promoting the theme of this 2021 National Burn Awareness week, "Electrical Safety from Amps to Zap (A to Z)!"

National Burn Awareness week is February 7 to February 13, 2021. Electrical fires are the second leading cause of fire deaths in Massachusetts.

There are many household risks that can be risks. Using major appliances safely, charging phones and laptops on hard surfaces, switching to LED lightbulbs, installing outlet covers, and storing batteries safely are all easy steps we can take to prevent electrical fires and burns.

Ostroskey advises the following steps to reduce the possibility of electrical fires in the home:

  • Plug major appliances like space heaters and air conditioners directly into wall outlets. Don’t use extension cords or power strips with them.
  • Charge laptops and cellphone on hard surfaces. Don’t charge them on soft surfaces like beds or upholstered furniture.
  • Unplug any device powered by lithium-ion batteries (like a hoverboard) once they are charged-up. Don’t overcharge or leave them charging unattended or overnight.
  • Turn heating pads, electric blankets and space heaters off before sleeping.
  • Learn how to react to a fire in the microwave oven: keep the door shut and unplug it if safe to do so.
  • As a general rule, don’t put metal in the microwave (check your owner’s manual for specific packaging that might be allowed, but don’t gamble if you are not sure.)
  • Keep battery terminals (positive and negative ends) from coming in contact with each other or with other metals. Tape the ends if you are storing them loosely in a drawer.


BBB Warns on Showing Vaccination Cards Online

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine of the dangers of showing your vaccination card online.

As some more individuals are receiving the vaccine each day, some people have taken pictures of their vaccination card to encourage others.

The vaccination card has the individual’s full name and birthday on it, which is highly valuable to a criminal when match with other data.

Here are some steps individuals can take to better protect:

  • Share your vaccine sticker or use a profile frame instead. If you want to post about your vaccine, there are safer ways to do it. You can share a photo of your vaccine sticker or set a frame around your profile picture.
  • Review your security settings. Check your security settings on all social media platforms to see what you are sharing and with whom. If you only want friends and family to see your posts, be sure that’s how your privacy settings are configured.
  • Be wary of answering popular social media prompts. Sharing your vaccine photo is just the latest social trend. Think twice before participating in other viral personal posts, such as listing all the cars you’ve owned (including makes/model years), favorite songs, and top 10 TV shows. Some of these “favorite things” are commonly used passwords or security questions.
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