5 Things You Need To Know Today In Worcester - January 14

 by Tom MarinoJanuary 14, 2022

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 - Friday, January 14 - warming centers set to open in Worcester ahead of extreme cold over the weekend, the Worcester Fire Department awarded a state grant for safety equipment, Worcester Public Schools schedule public input sessions on the search for a new superintendent, the EcoTarium announces its new president and CEO and RIZE Massachusetts announces $75,000 in grants to fight against opioid addiction.

Worcester Opens Warming Center, Advises on Cold Weather

The City of Worcester announced two warming centers for all individuals will open in response to extreme cold forecast over the weekend.

  • Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Square: Friday, 9 AM to 5:30 PM; Saturday, 9 AM to 5:30 PM
  • YWCA, 1 Salem Square: Saturday, 9 AM to 5 PM; Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM

The City provides the following cold-weather safety tips:

  • Dress in layers and stay dry
  • Avoid outdoor exposure for extended periods and cover exposed skin
  • Watch for frostbite which can develop in under a minute in extreme cold
  • Keep pets indoors and check paws for signs of injury/damage
  • Stay hydrated, fuel your body and take breaks during outdoor activities, such as shoveling
  • Protect pipes and shovel around vents to prevent carbon monoxide build-up. For tips to prevent frozen pipes contact the DPW&P Customer Service Center at 508-929-1300 or visit worcesterma.gov/water-sewer
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heating your house with a space heater. Keep 3 feet of space around the space heater, and use a dedicated outlet
  • Dry your clothes at a lower temperature when drying heavy loads to guard against accidental fires
  • Check on neighbors and elders often
  • Keep an emergency supply kit in your car

The City of Worcester’s Homeless Outreach Team and Quality of Life Team will connect members of the homeless community with shelter, treatment or hospital services, depending on need, as part of a focus on harm reduction. The team will also distribute hats, gloves, scarves, shoes and clothing to those exposed to the elements.

Homeless individuals seeking shelter from the cold may access the SMOC shelter at 25 Queen St. Hotel Grace, an emergency shelter with 60 beds located at, 44 Vernon St., is open through May 2022, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

More winter weather safety/preparation tips are available at: ready.gov/winter-weather. Residents are also encouraged to sign-up for ALERTWorcester and Smart911 to stay informed and be prepared in case of an emergency.

Worcester Fire Department Awarded $49,050 Safety Equipment Grant

Massachusetts Senator Michael Moore announced on Thursday, Jan. 13, that $49,050 from the state Firefighter Safety Grant Program has been granted to the Worcester Fire Department.

The goal of this grant program is to provide fire departments with the necessary protective and safety equipment to meet the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards. $5 million was made available in this round of funding.

Worcester Public Schools Hold Input Sessions for Superintendent Search

A series of community input sessions on the Worcester Public Schools search for its next superintendent start Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The sessions seek input from community members on the qualities of an ideal candidate, like experience, communication skills and leadership skills.

The sessions run through Jan. 26. To download the schedule of sessions, click here (pdf).

New President and CEO at the Ecotarium

January 14, 2022 Ecotarium
Noreen Johnson Smith, President and CEO, Ecotarium

The EcoTarium Museum of Science and Nature announced on Thursday, Jan, 13, that Noreen Johnson Smith is the new President and CEO of the organization. She assumes the position on Monday, Jan. 17.

Johnson Smith’s career includes 35 years of leadership roles with Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc., The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and as a teacher at Assumption College. She serves on the board of the Public Health Museum, the Worcester Community Action Council, and as Town Moderator for the Town of Charlton.

She take over the role from Michael Halperson, the Interim President and CEO of the organization. Michael’s role was to help lead the EcoTarium during the transition period and help search for its next permanent leader.

The EcoTarium, at 222 Harrington Way in Worcester, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 4 pm. For more information visit ecotarium.org.

$75,000 in Grants to Fight the Opioid Epidemic

RIZE Massachusetts, an independent nonprofit foundation working to end the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts, announced on Wednesday, January 12, that it has awarded “frontline” grants to 17 organizations to support harm reduction efforts for people living with substance use disorder across Massachusetts.

Grants totaling just over $75,000 will cover the costs of harm reduction supplies including approximately 650 hygiene kits, 80,000 clean syringes, 1,000 safer smoking kits and 5,000 fentanyl test strips.  These tools will help lower the risk of overdose deaths and prevent the spread of disease.  This new funding will also address frontline worker wellness, including staff training.  The grants range from $2,000 to $5,000 and are based on the size and requests of the provider.

Of the 17 awardees in the round of funding, those in Worcester county include:

  • AIDS Project Worcester
  • Montachusett Recovery Club in Leominster
  • Restoration Recovery Center in Fitchburg
  • Road to Care at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.
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