Alex Morse was born and raised in Holyoke and is a proud product of the city's public schools. He is an alumnus of Brown University with a degree in urban studies, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. On January 3, 2012, Alex B. Morse was sworn in as the youngest Mayor in the history of the city of Holyoke at the age 22.
Since taking office, economic development has been his number one priority. In his first year alone, Mayor Morse launched several new initiatives and incentives that have already catalyzed new growth – helping both retain existing businesses and attract new development. In education, the Mayor has made early literacy a major priority. With help from the United Way, he created a Community Literacy office in City Hall and launched a campaign to increase 3rd grade reading scores. Mayor Morse has also made public safety a top priority. He has been a proponent of community policing strategies that have decreased crime statistics to a record low. By putting officers back on foot and bike patrol, launching a mobile community policing unit and new K-9 unit, 2012 was the first year in over 25 years that Holyoke was without a recorded homicide.
Mayor Morse’s success has provided national attention to Holyoke, helping to attract innovative minds that want to be a part of what’s happening in the Paper City. Mayor Morse recently was sworn in to a second term, and will continue to market Holyoke as a great place to live, work, and have fun.
The Holyoke Local Cultural Council (HLCC) is seeking funding proposals for community-oriented arts, humanities, and science programs – and has set a postmark deadline of October 15th, 2013 for organizations, schools and...
Mayor Alex B. Morse is proud of the initiatives he has launched and sponsored during his first term as mayor. From the skateboard park to the Buy Holyoke Now program, these initiatives focus on making the city a better place to work, live and participate in the community. By forming strategic partnerships, issuing proclamations and directing policy, the mayor hopes to build off the successes of previous mayors and to help improve the city for all of its residents.
The initiatives listed here provide a snapshot into the everyday efforts of Holyoke City Hall. Some were launched by Mayor Morse, while others were started by Mayor Pluta and Mayor Sullivan. Leading the city is a cooperative effort, and Mayor Morse is proud to continue the efforts of his predecessors.
|Buy Holyoke Now||Civic Pride|
|Holyoke at Work||Pride Events/Month|
|Senior Visits||Skateboard Park|
Mayor Alex B. Morse is proud of the Buy Holyoke Now initiative, a coalition of realtors, attorneys, lenders and other housing professionals along with local nonprofits focused on the promotion of Holyoke as a place to live and work. With municipal support, the group offers incentives to prospective buyers and coordinates advertising campaigns for city properties.
“The goal of Buy Holyoke Now is to not only encourage home ownership in the city of Holyoke, but also to help stimulate local business in the process,” said Mayor Morse. New homeowners receive special deals and coupons at over forty local business, restaurants and museums as well as improved rates at local lending and banking institutions.
The program began over a year ago on June 7th after a kickoff event at the Heritage State Park. It is chaired by Erin Brunelle, a local realtor, and Mayor Morse. Through the program, many new Holyoke residents have found homes with more affordable financing plans, more enticing deals, and more support from community organizations, making Holyoke a more welcoming place to live, work and raise a family.
To find out more about the program, visit buyholyokenow.com or like them on Facebook!
Mayor Alex B. Morse restarted the monthly Civic Pride Award this August, recognizing those who have made unique and remarkable contributions to the Holyoke community. Award-winners must have meaningfully impacted Holyoke, improving the lives of residents, raising the public image of the city or showing extraordinary commitment to the community and the environment.
The Mayor selects a winner at the end of every month and presents the award in the first week of the next month. He recommends that people take an active role in nominating and advocating for winners, as he will take the hopes of his constituents seriously.
The Civic Pride Award began in Mayor Sullivan’s administration, and Mayor Morse is proud to continue the tradition. The winner will be announced on Facebook and Holyoke.org. He or she will receive a letter of commendation from the Mayor and an engraved plaque. Winners do not need to live in Holyoke, only to change the city for the better in some clear and exceptional way.
Mayor Alex Morse announced the renewal of the City of Holyoke’s ten year license with cable television provider Comcast Communications. The agreement includes several new provisions, including senior discounts, a substantial increase in percentage of Gross Annual Revenue received to fund the annual operations of public, educational and government (“PEG”) Access programming, a new community public access station, and an increase in the amount of funding allocated for PEG access purposes.
The previous ten year license term expired on October 27, 2013 and in anticipation of this deadline Mayor Morse hosted several federally-required public hearings to allow residents to provide testimony on future cable-related needs. Using the community input gathered, the City forwarded the results to Comcast in the form of a Request for Proposal, or RFP. The RFP informed Comcast of the kinds of services and facilities that the City expected to be provided during the renewal term. The City hired Epstein & August LLP, a firm specializing in cable TV contracts, to negotiate on behalf of Holyoke. In addition, the process established the Cable Advisory Committee, to which Mayor Morse appointed Al Williams, Jennifer Myszkowski, Mark Wotton, Michael Hines, Rob Deza, Denis Luzuriaga, and James Bickford. Under the renewed license, this Committee will serve as the Board of Directors to oversee the new community PEG Access Station.
“I’m extremely pleased with the results of these negotiations and what it means for the City of Holyoke,” Mayor Alex Morse said. “The community was clear about wanting the same kinds of benefits that other communities have received, and I have negotiated a license that will benefit Holyoke cable subscribers for years to come. Under these conditions, Holyoke will finally have a true PEG Access station that will allow residents to create their own shows and programming which will, in turn, increase civic engagement.”
Under the renewed license, Comcast has agreed to provide the following:
1. Senior discounts:
- All seniors currently receiving a discount will continue to be grandfathered for the existing discount;
- Newly qualified seniors will be eligible for a $2.00 discount off the Digital Starter Tier based on the following criteria:
* Age 65 or older;
* Eligible for Medicaid and/or SSI
2. Quarterly payments to the City for PEG Access/Cable-Related funding as follows:
- 4% of its Gross Annual Revenues (“GAR”) (plus fees) for Years 1 & 2; (approximately $400,000)
- 4.5% of its GAR for Years, 3, 4 & 5; (approximately $450,000)
- 5% of its GAR for Years 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 (approximately $500,000)
- Under the 2003 Renewal license, the City received 1.5% of its GAR which totaled to approximately $126,000 per year. In contrast, annual funding in the new license will increase the City’s revenue to approximately $400,000 in the first year alone.
- This funding will enable the Holyoke PEG Access non-profit entity to produce more local programming for Holyoke cable subscribers, train more citizens to use the PEG Access equipment, work with the Holyoke schools and students to produce educational programming, etc.
3. Comcast will provide a total of $603,000.00 for PEG Access capital purposes, an increase from the 2003 license, which provided $25,000 for capital purposes
4. A third downstream PEG Access Channel that will be available for community use
- Comcast will provide an upstream digital connection from the new PEG access studio to a Comcast hub or headend site
- Holyoke residents will have increased opportunities to create their own programming that will be cablecast on the new public access station
- Create five new job opportunities
With the help of the Portland, Maine based Art at Work program, the City of Holyoke introduced an initiative focusing on fostering community engagement through the arts called “Holyoke at Work.”
Started in 2007 in Portland, Maine, Art At Work is a national initiative bringing the power of creative engagement to city governments and the communities they serve and demonstrating art as a powerful and cost-effective method of bringing about change.
This initiative was quickly adopted by the mayor as a part of his to improve communications among elected officials, city employees and others in the community by means of direct engagement.
Holyoke citizens and leaders meet in workshops to create art and and to have discussions on important topics facing Holyoke. This process is shown to dramatically increase participants’ ability to actively engage, function as a team, envision a positive outcome, remember connections and take inspired risks that lead to innovative solutions.
“Holyoke at Work is a great collaboration between city officials, residents and community activists,” said Mayor Alex B. Morse. “In these workshops, there are no titles, and we get beyond the typical barriers that too often divide us as people.”
Mayor Alex B. Morse issued a proclamation declaring June to be LGBT Pride Month in early June of 2012. The initiative was in support of President Barack Obama’s June 1st proclamation that supported creating a national Pride Month. As part of the celebration of LGBT culture and history, the city raised a rainbow flag outside of City Hall, a tradition that is now in its second year.
The Rainbow Flag Raising celebrates diversity, acceptance and inclusiveness in the City of Holyoke and takes place in mid-June. It occurred on June 18th the first year and June 11th the second year. The annual ceremony includes speeches from community leaders, music, poetry and prayer, as well as the raising of the rainbow flag.
The goal of the event was “to send a message to residents that people who live in their community are in safe places for all people, the lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender communities,” said Mayor Morse. “No matter who you are, what you look like, the language you speak or the neighborhood you live in, that you feel respected and appreciated by your community.”
Mayor Alex Morse allocated $250,000 to the development of a skateboard facility in Pulaski Park in the Spring of 2012 to ensure that Holyoke youth had a dedicated place to safely ride their skateboards.
Funded with money from a Federal Community Development Block Grant (FCDBG), the park is being designed with input from skaters who hope for a place to practice “legally and not get arrested,” said the park architect. “It’s gonna be an open barrier, free, inclusive park, so it’s not really designated just skate board only.” At a January meeting, about forty skateboarders gave feedback on the design.
Without a skate park, says Mayor Morse, “Young people are forced to skateboard in public parking facilities and other locations that aren’t designed for skateboarders, which puts both the young people and the city at risk.”
This initiative is a part of Mayor Morse’s goal to provide Holyoke youth with options for legal recreation to lower crime rates and to empower teens in leadership roles. “It’s important to support our city’s young people,” says the Mayor. “This has been a project on the Youth Vision Map for over a decade.”
In this manner, the skateboard park would serve as a safe space for students to spend time together in a constructive environment. In addition to the quarter million dollars allocated to this project, the FCDBG funded $200,000 in sidewalk repairs, $213,000 for Office of Community Development salaries, $200,000 in housing repairs, and several smaller projects.
Mayor Alex Morse began the senior residence touring initiative to ensure that the voices of Holyoke seniors were clearly heard and taken into consideration. The Mayor, along with Police Chief Neiswanger, began these tours on April 20th, 2012 hoping to receive feedback from seniors who might not normally be able to drive to City Hall to voice their concerns.
“During my campaign for Mayor, many of the residents living in these facilities voiced their desire to remain connected to the Mayor’s Office and other important city officials,” said Mayor Morse. “Residents deserve to know about the various public safety efforts of the Holyoke Police Department and the progress that my administration has made throughout Holyoke thus far. This is a campaign promise that I intend to fulfill during my time in office, and I appreciate Chief Neiswanger making time in his busy schedule to accompany me on these visits.”
Major topics in the tour were public safety and crime prevention. Concerns from seniors allowed the Mayor and Chief Neiswanger to plan for a safer Holyoke based on the feedback given. “Coming out here is really part of community policing,” Neiswanger said. “Because the police department cannot solve everything, we need to work with the community and I need to hear what the community’s concerns are.”
The Mayor visited Prospect Heights first, along with Elmwood Towers, Pulaski Heights, Loomis House and Loomis Village, among other locations. The Mayor valued the input the senior citizens provided and looks forward to future meetings with them.
Request Process – Please read prior to submitting request.
Requests are to be submitted to the Mayor’s Office at least two weeks prior to the event but Individuals/Organizations are encouraged to submit their requests as early as possible.
We ask that you submit a draft of 5-8 “Whereas” statements. This draft will assist the staff and allows the selected wording to be directed towards the event.
Please keep in mind:
1. Proclamations must be picked up from the Mayor’s Office and will not be mailed.
2. Proclamation may be picked up only after you have been notified it is ready at City Hall.
3. The Mayor’s Office reserves the right to deny any request.
A Mayoral Proclamation is an official announcement and/or public declaration issued from the Mayor’s Office. Proclamations are ceremonial and do not carry any legislative or legal value. The issuance of any proclamation or letter from the Mayor’s Office is the complete discretion of the Mayor’s Office.
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Posted on November 29, 2012 by cityadmin