May 24, 2017

Inbox [May 24]: News and notes from WPI, Antiquarian Society, Hanover Theatre, EcoTarium, MassDevelopment, UMass Memorial, city of Worcester, Park Spirit

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Worcester Sun

Hanover Theatre's new conservatory will be elevating its game thanks to a new grant.

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WPI lands grant to boosts integration of Humanities and STEM

The National Endowment for the Humanities selected Worcester Polytechnic Institute, along with 17 other U.S. schools, for a Humanities Connections Grant.

WPI will receive a $100,000 grant to establish an Urban Humanities Teaching Cluster, allowing WPI to offer an integrated set of courses that push students to think about urban challenges as more than simply technical problems. With half the world’s population now living in cities and with the population of 21 cities now exceeding 10 million, the study of cities is more important than ever.

“The engineering challenges wrought by rapid urbanization and aging urban infrastructures are obvious to our students,” said Joseph Cullon, an assistant teaching professor of history and the grant’s principal investigator, “but solving them forces us to ask questions about history, aesthetics, equity, access and cultural meaning that are less transparent but equally crucial.”

The NEH award also advances faculty efforts to encourage and assist other schools in their efforts to develop similar integrative approaches that highlight the value of humanities coursework in professional education.

Read the entire story on the WPI website

Mass. Cultural Facilities Fund awards nearly $950K to Central Mass. institutions

The Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund awarded nearly $950,000 in grants to Central Mass. cultural entities.

The American Antiquarian Society was given $225,000 for an expansion of the historic Antiquarian Hall to create a new conservation lab, public engagement space and universal access upgrades.

Flickr / sapienssolutions

American Antiquarian Society

Apple Tree Arts in Grafton was awarded $219,000 for the purchase of major audio equipment and integrated sound and light systems, stage curtains, mechanical shade and curtain treatments for the Grafton Town House’s performance hall.

The fund awarded The Hanover Theatre Conservatory & Events Center $125,000 for an elevator installation and new lighting and signage in the theater’s new pedestrian plaza.

The fund awarded Old Sturbridge Village $125,000 for exhibit space renovations in the Visitor Center and upgrades to the Collection Storage Facility.

The Ecotarium was given $122,000 for the replacement of two sections of the main museum building roof, insertion of an associated air intake, and initial construction work to renovate and repurpose the vacant polar bear habitat for the Wild Cat Station exhibit.

The fund awarded Bolton Conservation Trust $96,000 for the construction of an Outdoor Performance Pavilion within the new Bolton Town Common.

The Fitchburg Art Museum received $30,000 to support strategic and design planning for an on-site storage facility which will house the museum’s permanent art collection, and Pakachoag Music School in Auburn received $5,200 for a feasibility study to determine plans to purchase a new facility.

Read the entire story on the Mass. Cultural Council website

MassDevelopment finances UMass Memorial renovations

In separate transactions, MassDevelopment provided $178,555,000 in financing for UMass Memorial Health Care Inc.

Wikimedia Commons/Photo by og-emmet

UMass Medical School

The financing includes a $53,555,000 tax-exempt bond that UMass Memorial will use to make renovations to the UMass Memorial Medical Center’s Memorial and University campuses. The renovations include:

  • Relocating and upgrading offices, patient and waiting rooms, and staff workspaces and break rooms
  • Developing pathways, public corridors, and atriums
  • Replacing HVAC, sanitary, and water piping distribution systems
  • Buying and installing an emergency power and combined heat and power system

The bond will also refinance past debt. The financing also includes a $75 million tax-exempt lease and $50 million tax-exempt bond. Proceeds from the lease and bond will partially fund the purchase and installation of an electronic medical record and information management system, including computer equipment and software licenses, at UMass Memorial facilities.

“These renovations allow us to care for our patients in the most comfortable and convenient settings available while giving our caregivers the most modern tools and resources to ensure their success,” said UMass Memorial Health Care President and CEO Eric Dickson, M.D.

“In addition to providing expert health services for thousands of residents in Worcester County each year, UMass Memorial is an important economic driver for the region,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said.

Read the entire story on the MassDevelopment website

Drought in Worcester is over

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. announced that the drought in Worcester is effectively over.

Courtesy NAMI Mass

Edward M. Augustus Jr.

As a result of the steady rain experienced in recent weeks, the city’s water supply status is being upgraded out of the current Stage 1 Drought Alert to a non-drought status, effective Monday, May 22.

Worcester’s reservoir capacity has shown continued improvement in recent weeks as a result of steady precipitation. Worcester’s reservoir system reached an overall capacity of 96.3 percent on May 1, slightly below the normal May 1 average of 100 percent.

“I want to thank our residents and water users for stepping up and practicing wise water usage throughout the past year,” Augustus said. “Let’s continue to conserve as we move through the coming months.”

Worcester issued a Stage 3 drought declaration in September, when reservoir levels dipped close to 50 percent capacity. Reservoirs began to recover over the winter, and Worcester moved to Stage 2 drought level in January, followed by Stage 1 in March.

Park Spirit membership drive includes ticket drawing

As part of its membership drive, Park Spirit, a nonprofit advocacy group for Worcester’s parks, is holding a drawing for a lucky member to win two tickets to the Jerry Seinfeld show at 7 p.m. June 3 at The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Active members on June 1 are eligible to win the tickets. A Park Spirit membership is $10 per year.

More information is available on the Park Spirit website

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