Friday, September 18, 2020
“Massachusetts’ coastal communities are making climate adaptation a local priority and reality,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Through these grants, cities, towns, and nonprofits gain financial and technical assistance to explore options to manage flooding and erosion, enhance the natural environment, and support other public benefits like recreation along the coast.”
Including the grants announced, the Baker-Polito Administration has now invested $18.9 million in 107 coastal resilience improvement projects through the Coastal Resilience Grant Program since 2015.
“With these funds, our Administration is proud to support the continued leadership and commitment at the local level to making progress year after year toward a more climate resilient future,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These projects provide many benefits to the residents and businesses in coastal communities, and demonstrate the value of investing in resilient solutions for a changing climate.”
CZM’s Coastal Resilience Grant Program provides financial and staff support for local efforts to analyze vulnerabilities to climate impacts, increase community awareness and understanding of these issues, plan for changing conditions, redesign vulnerable community facilities and infrastructure, and restore shorelines. Grants may fund feasibility assessments, public outreach, design, permitting, construction, and monitoring of projects that enhance or create natural buffers to erosion and flooding.
“Effective resilience means planning, investing and acting now,” said State Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “These grants join together local vision and state resources to get projects done that will respond to significant vulnerabilities in a meaningful way.”
“We need to take substantive steps now to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the North Shore, the Commonwealth, and our nation,” said State Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “I appreciate these badly needed grants that will buttress the beautiful coastlines of Beverly and Salem that help to drive the economies and quality of lives that people in both cities enjoy.”
“I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for understanding and addressing the unique challenges our coastal communities face,” said State Representative Brad Hill (R-Ipswich). “I’m proud to see Ipswich taking the lead by protecting our vulnerable coastline and riverine areas.”
Feasibility Assessment and Conceptual Designs for Green Infrastructure and Resilience Improvements at Obear Park - $58,340
The City of Beverly will assess feasibility and develop conceptual designs for nature-based improvements at Obear Park, a coastal park along the Danvers River, to withstand impacts from flooding, erosion, and sea level rise. The study will investigate potential living shoreline techniques, culvert alterations, and relocation and retrofits to existing park facilities.
Vulnerability Assessment and Feasibility Study for the Beverly Pump Station on Water Street - $135,445
The City of Beverly will conduct a vulnerability and feasibility assessment of the Beverly Pump Station on Water Street, a sanitary sewerage facility serving Beverly, Danvers and other entities. The analysis will evaluate alternatives to address both short- and long-term risks of flooding and sea level rise.
Elevation of Apple Street Roadbed for Alternate Transportation Route - $27,282
The Town of Essex will develop design plans for elevating a low-lying section of Apple Street, which is vulnerable to flooding during coastal storm events. Apple Street provides an alternate north-south transportation link in Essex when the primary route, the Essex Causeway (Route 133), is flooded during storms.
Essex County Greenbelt Association-
Essex County Coastal Resiliency Outreach and Planning Project - $41,312
Essex County Greenbelt Association will assess infrastructure improvements and management options and produce a Climate Adaptation Management Plan for their headquarters at the Cox Reservation, which is vulnerable to coastal storm flooding and sea level rise. Greenbelt will also host a free film and lecture series for the public on coastal resiliency and climate change.
Ipswich River Coastal Resiliency and Bank Stabilization Project: Phase 3 - $39,860
The Town of Ipswich and its partner, Ipswich River Watershed Association, will finalize design plans for stabilizing an eroded section of coastal bank along the Ipswich River, located near the County Street Bridge and along a well-traveled trail adjacent to the river, in downtown Ipswich. The project team will also develop plans for stormwater management improvements, acquire necessary permits, and prepare bid-ready plans and specifications for future construction.
Building Climate Resilience through Adaptation at the Crane Estate, Argilla Road Adaptation Phase 3 - $85,000
The Town of Ipswich, in partnership with The Trustees of Reservations, will continue to advance design plans and permitting for elevating a vulnerable portion of Argilla Road that crosses a salt marsh and stabilizing the side slopes of the roadway using nature-based techniques.
Coastal Resilience at Collins Cove, Monitoring and Maintenance of the Restored Salt Marsh - $62,825
This year’s Climate Week marks four years since Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569 which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. More recently, the Administration has committed to investing $1 billion in climate resiliency by 2022 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. Additionally, the Administration is working with municipalities throughout the Commonwealth to prepare for the impacts of climate change through the nation-leading Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which has now enrolled 89 percent of cities and towns.
“CZM is excited to continue working collaboratively with our local community and nonprofit partners to identify climate vulnerabilities, raise public awareness, and advance shoreline management efforts,” said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “We look forward to another successful round of projects that contribute to a more resilient coast.”
The Massachusetts Office Coastal Zone Management is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency’s work includes helping coastal communities address the challenges of storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change; working with state, regional and federal partners to balance current and new uses of ocean waters while protecting ocean habitats and promoting sustainable economic development; and partnering with communities and other organizations to protect and restore coastal water quality and habitats.
The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) continues to encourage all eligible customers to renew their Standard Massachusetts driver’s license or Massachusetts ID card online at Mass.Gov/RMV in order to qualify for a free upgrade to a REAL ID credential in 2021. This promotional opportunity, authorized and extended by Executive Order, will remain in effect until Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted to provide customers more time and flexibility to conduct transactions and to support the RMV’s ongoing efforts to implement social distancing protocols while limiting in-person service center visits to keep customers and staff safe.
Customers are eligible to renew online and take advantage of this offer up to one year in advance of the expiration date printed on their license or ID, or up to two years after the expiration date. Customers will not be able to seek their free REAL ID upgrade until at least six (6) months after the State of Emergency is lifted. The RMV continues to see a dramatic increase of online renewals by customers during the pandemic and this promotional opportunity period. More than 163,000 online renewals were completed since promotion began June 12th, compared to just 49,600 over the same time period in 2019.In August 2020, there were over 62,000 online credential renewals, compared to just 15,739in August 2019. The RMV has bolstered back office support efforts to accommodate this continuing increased demand.
Beginning in mid-August, limited in-person license renewal appointments became available in Service Centers for customers. The RMV suspended those in-person transactions due to the pandemic and applied multiple extensions to expiring licenses and IDs as outlined below. The RMV asks that those who can renew online please do so and preserve these limited appointments for those individuals with credentials expiring in September 2020 who cannot, especially if their license or ID currently benefits from an extension.
Qualifying customers who complete their renewal online and wish to upgrade to a REAL ID for free will have to wait until at least six (6) months after Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted to visit an RMV Service Center. Customers currently do not need a federally compliant REAL ID for the purposes of boarding domestic flights prior to October 1, 2021, as the federal government delayed the compliance effective date by one year. The fee for renewing a non-commercial standard or REAL ID license is $50, while the fee for upgrading to a standard or REAL ID card is $25. The typical $25 upgrade / amendment fee will be waived under these qualifying circumstances.
Obtaining an initial federally compliant REAL ID requires customers to visit a Service Center in-person to present verifying documents. The RMV introduced this initiative and fee waiver pursuant to Executive Order 39 which was issued by Governor Baker on June 12, 2020, and was subsequently extended through Executive Order 47 on August 11, 2020, in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency to encourage social distancing and limit unnecessary travel by reducing the need for many customers to visit a Service Center. This also allows for the prioritization of essential in-person transactions, which remain by appointment only. Customers should take the following steps to determine their online renewal eligibility and qualify for this offer:
● Visit Mass.Gov/RMV, login to their “myRMV” account, and find out if they are permitted to renew online.
● Renew online – their new standard license or ID card will be sent via U.S. mail.
● The cost for renewing a driver’s license is $50. The cost for renewing an ID card is $25. These costs are the same for both a standard or REAL ID license or ID card. The cost for upgrading or amending a license or ID card outside of their renewal cycle is $25, which will be waived for participating, eligible RMV customers.
● Customers who renew online will have to wait until at least six (6) months after Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted to make an appointment for a REAL ID and have their $25 upgrade / amendment fee waived. Anyone who holds a valid U.S. passport
or other federally-compliant form of identification may never need an RMV-issued REAL ID.
● As a service to its members, AAA continues to issue REAL ID credentials for their members only and members should make an appointment before visiting a AAA location.
● Limited in-person license renewal reservation appointments are available in RMV Service Centers for customers. The RMV asks that those who can renew online please do so, especially if their license or ID currently benefits from an extension, thus preserving these appointments for those individuals with credentials expiring in September 2020 who cannot renew online.
While the RMV has previously announced the below automatic extensions to certain expiring licenses and ID cards, all eligible customers are encouraged to take advantage of this offer by renewing online up to one year prior to their expiration date:
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that expired or were set to expire in March, April, and May 2020 have been extended until September 2020.
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that expired or were set to expire in June have been extended until October 2020.
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that expired or were set to expire in July have been extended until November 2020.
● Driver’s licenses and ID cards that will expire in August have been extended until December 2020.
All RMV customers are encouraged to visit the RMV Online Service Center or www.Mass.Gov/RMV to renew their license or ID card, and complete one of over 40 other transactions available online, by mail, or by phone.
For details on these and other credential expiration date extensions and additional information on RMV service offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit www.mass.gov/rmv or https://www.mass.gov/info-details/rmv-covid-19-information.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
This includes the extension of the deferral of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes for small businesses due from March 2020 through April 2021, so that they will instead be due in May 2021. Businesses that collected less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the twelve month period ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and businesses that collected less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the twelve month period ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes. For these small businesses, no penalties or interest will accrue during this extension period.
“Our Administration is committed to supporting local businesses and Main Street economies recovering from the impact of COVID-19, and we’re glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this additional measure to provide administrative tax relief,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Extending the tax relief measures we put into place earlier this year will help support companies across Massachusetts including small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries.”
“Providing this tax relief is an important step to support local businesses throughout Massachusetts and we are glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this important issue,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This extension allows certain local companies to defer remitting regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes, an important tax relief measure for businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
For businesses with meals tax and room occupancy tax obligations that do not otherwise qualify for this relief, late-file and late-pay penalties will be waived during this period.
“The Senate is committed to further assisting our restaurant and hospitality industries hit hard by COVID-19,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka. “As we continue to safely reopen and recover, we will work with our partners in the Administration and the House to mitigate the economic distress felt by local businesses brought on by the unprecedented public health crisis.”
“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect our economy, the House is proud of its ongoing efforts to reinforce restaurants, such as its passage of a restaurant recovery package thanks to the work of Chair Michlewitz and the membership,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo. “We support the deferral of tax collections as it will provide a clear business pathway, especially to our restaurant and hospitality industries.”
The Department of Revenue will issue emergency regulations and a Technical Information Release to implement these administrative relief measures.
Monday, September 14, 2020
Baker‐Polito Administration Awards Funds to Municipalities for Improvements to Road-Stream Crossings
“As climate change brings fiercer storms and increased rainfall to the Commonwealth, the safety issues surrounding undersized culverts become more urgent and apparent,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Replacing this aging infrastructure is critical to ensure the resilience of our communities and natural resources, and the availability of resources like this report and these grant awards is vital for driving this important work forward.”
“These granted projects represent the culmination of hard and thoughtful work and collaboration between local and state officials to transform ecologically vulnerable spaces into well-engineered infrastructure that supports people and the environment,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Through a culvert replacement, Ipswich will maintain a critical roadway for public safety and emergency access and safe passage for important species of wildlife.”
The town of Ipswich received $48,500 to conduct final design and engineering as well as permitting for a culvert replacement. Upgrading the culvert will improve the reliability of the road, which serves as an emergency access to Route 1, western sections of the town, and nearby hospitals. The upgrade will also allow brook trout access to coldwater streams, which is particularly important as the climate warms and stream temperature increases.
DER’s Culvert Replacement Municipal Assistance Grant Program helps municipalities replace undersized and deteriorating culverts with crossings that meet improved design standards for fish and wildlife passage, river health, and storm resiliency. The grants also help municipalities deal with the ever-pressing cost of aging road infrastructure.
“Failing and undersized culverts can negatively impact communities in many ways, from causing flooding or road failures during storms, to preventing wildlife from accessing necessary habitat,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “This culvert replacement report and these newly-funded projects address these issues, allowing waterways to return to a more natural state and increasing resilience to climate change.”
“Culverts play a vital role in protecting roadways, safeguarding wildlife and river habitats and redirecting waterways that could impact homes and businesses,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Secretary Stephanie Pollack. “The report’s recommendations will serve as a valuable path forward for local and state planners and the grant money gives cities and towns the ability to undertake field data collection, design and engineering work, and other steps in an effort to strengthen municipal preparedness.”
Nearly half of Massachusetts’ estimated 25,000 small bridges and culverts act as barriers to fish and wildlife because they are undersized or poorly positioned. Undersized culverts can also present a serious risk to public safety. As high intensity rainfall becomes more frequent and severe due to climate change, culvert bottlenecks can cause flood waters to overtop roads, resulting in washouts and road closures. Installing culverts that meet the Massachusetts Stream Crossing Standards allows rivers to flow unrestricted and with a lower risk of flood damage.
The Administration also announced the release of a report titled, “Recommendations for Improving the Efficiency of Culvert and Small Bridge Replacement Projects,” prepared by the Massachusetts Culverts and Small Bridges Working Group. This report highlights the safety and environmental challenges presented by over 25,000 road stream crossings across the state and the need for funding and technical assistance for municipalities and partners to address these issues. It also provides recommendations to address the barriers faced by municipalities to implement this work.
The Massachusetts Culverts and Small Bridges Working Group was charged with providing a report to the Massachusetts Legislature with recommendations to replace culverts and small bridges more quickly and cost efficiently with climate resilient structures that withstand storms, improve public safety, and protect and restore natural resources.
Key recommendations of the report include expanding and improving existing state technical assistance and training programs, developing an interagency program to help municipalities navigate the process of culvert and bridge replacement, and providing additional grant funds to municipalities for culvert and bridge replacement projects. The report also recommends revisions to engineering standards, including helpful resources such as standard culvert and small bridge design templates to reduce design and construction costs and streamline permitting and structural review.
Friday, September 11, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Schedules 2020 Low Plate Lottery Drawing for Monday, September 14, at 9:30 a.m.
This year, nearly 12,000 low number plate lottery applications were received for 100 available, eligible plates, including 6P, 751, V35, K5, 2042 and T31. Lottery results, including the names of winners, will be posted on Mass.Gov/RMV by the close of business on Tuesday, September 15, and customers selected for a low number plate will be directly notified via mail after the drawing takes place with instructions on how to register their new plate.
Entries for the 2020 lottery were required to be submitted online by September 6, 2020, to be eligible for the drawing. While there was no cost to apply to the lottery, if an applicant is selected as a winner, there is a fee to receive the license plate and there is a standard registration fee. Low number plates must be renewed every two years.
MassDOT (Registry of Motor Vehicles, Highway, Mass Transit, and Aeronautics) employees, including contract employees, and their immediate family members are not eligible. (“Immediate family member” refers to one’s parents, spouse, children, and brothers & sisters.)
Requests for specific plate numbers will not be honored. Eligible applicants will be considered for all plates listed. Plates will be awarded in the order in which they are listed on Mass.Gov/RMV. An applicant’s registration and license cannot be in a non-renewal, suspended, or revoked status at the time of entry, the time of the drawing, or the time of the plate swap. As such, an applicant must not have any outstanding excise taxes, parking tickets, child support, warrants, or unpaid E-ZPass/ Fast Lane violations. By law, lottery winners must be announced by September 15, 2020. Lottery results will be available on the RMV website: Mass.Gov/RMV
All winners will be notified by the RMV in writing with instructions on how to transfer their current registration to their new lottery plate. Winners will have until December 31, 2020 to swap their plates. Unclaimed plates will be forfeited after December 31st. Plates will be registered to the winning applicant only.
All plates remain the property of the RMV even after registration. All information received, including names of all applicants and the list of winners, is subject to release in accordance with the Massachusetts Public Records law.
Massachusetts Disburses Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) Benefits to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Claimants and Standard Unemployment Insurance Claimants-Additional 2 Weeks of LWA Benefits Approved by FEMA
Friday, September 4, 2020
“The Community Compact IT Grant Program continues to help meet communities’ technology needs and bolster technological capabilities,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “As the Chair of the Community Compact Cabinet, I am proud of the work we have done so far and look forward to another year of important projects.”
COVID-19 has greatly impacted how Commonwealth residents interact with municipalities and utilize technology services. These Community Compact IT grants will be allocated to Commonwealth cities, towns, and school districts to aid in one-time capital improvements such as technology infrastructure, upgrades, or equipment purchases. This includes records management and e-permitting systems, implementing new cybersecurity measures, and improvements to public safety systems.
“Community Compact IT grants provide important opportunities for local governments to engage in projects that may otherwise be cost-prohibitive,” said Secretary of Administration and Finance Michael J. Heffernan. “We appreciate the support of the Legislature and municipal partners across the Commonwealth as we continue to improve the delivery of essential technology services for Massachusetts residents.”
"We believe that making smart investments to modernize and secure technology assets at both the state and local level is a key component in creating a resilient and responsive government for the Commonwealth's residents and businesses," said Secretary of Technology Services and Security Curtis M. Wood. "The Community Compact IT Grant Program has funded many critical municipal IT projects to date, and we look forward to the continued dialogue with our partners in municipal government."
Formed in January 2015, the Community Compact Cabinet is chaired by Lt. Governor Polito and is composed of the secretaries of Housing & Economic Development, Education, Transportation, Energy & Environmental Affairs, and Technology Services and Security, and the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Local Services and the Assistant Secretary of Operational Services. The Community Compact Cabinet elevates the Administration’s partnerships with cities and towns and allows the Governor’s Office to work more closely with leaders from all municipalities.
The Cabinet champions municipal interests across all executive secretariats and agencies, and develops, in consultation with cities and towns, mutual standards and best practices for both the state and municipalities.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
You must have a signature on file with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. If you currently have a Massachusetts driver's license or state ID card, you may use the online voter registration application to register, update your address, or change your party affiliation.
Registering by Mail:
You may download the voter registration form by using the link provided at the end of this post.
You may register at any local election office, the Registry of Motor Vehicles and at certain public assistance agencies.
Automatic Voter Registration:
If you are a U.S. citizen applying for or renewing a driver's license or state ID at the RMV, or applying for health insurance through MassHealth or the Commonwealth Health Connector, you will be automatically registered.
Monday, August 31, 2020
Friday, August 28, 2020
Adam Curcuru, Director of Cape Ann Veterans Services, a former Marine Lance Corporal and Purple Heart recipient who served in Afghanistan, shared his thoughts on the meaning of the American Flag. Adam was accompanied by his assistant and Veterans Benefits Coordinator, Violette Chipperini, a former Sergeant in the US Army and a Purple Heart recipient, wounded in Iraq.
Charlie and Coco Esdaile, Theo and Cecilia Barker, and Ryan Johnston, grandson of Nina and Stephen Goodick, assisted by Adam, and their parents/grandparents, raised the Flag.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Friday, August 21, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
This morning I will be at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate with The Trustees, Katie Theoharides, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Representative Brad Hill, Ipswich town officials and others to announce a comprehensive new report "The State of the Coast" which examines 13 North of Boston coastal communities and efforts to protect them. I will provide a link to this important report following the event.
The Trustees' report is a comprehensive and thoughtful assessment of a number of the risks to our natural and built environments backed by real-world data and scientific analysis. This document buttresses the ongoing work of many organizations, including the North East Coastal Coalition and the Merrimack River Beach Alliance, and points to the need for future such collaborative efforts to further momentum toward knowledge and policy development so that we act proactively as good stewards of our coast for future generations.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Joint Guidance on Modified School Sports Seasons For Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association
Unfortunately, in some cases, competitive play may need to be cancelled or postponed. While difficult for all involved, it is essential that we keep health and safety paramount, both for everyone directly involved and the wider community.
Working in close consultation with a variety of stakeholders and our medical advisors and based on the Youth and Adult Amateur Sports Guidance recently provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) have collaborated to provide the following modified sports schedule for school year 2020-21 and guidance for sports participation for students who are learning remotely. Please note that this guidance is pending ratification by the MIAA board and is subject to change throughout the school year.
The MIAA, in consultation with their medical advisers and EEA, will develop sport-specific modifications to meet the guidance from EEA for issuance prior to the start of each season. At this time, based on current statewide health data, sports that the EEA guidance lists as lower and moderate risk may be held during their normal seasons, provided that MIAA’s recommended modifications specific to those sports meet the standards outlined in the EEA guidance. For the fall season, higher risk sports, including football, cheer, and unified basketball, will be practice only, using the cohort method described in the EEA guidance. Schools/districts choosing to engage in practice for these sports must complete the Sport Attestation Compliance form and keep it on file.
Higher risk sports in later seasons will continue to be evaluated in light of health metrics and the EEA guidance, and MIAA will make final decisions in consultation with their medical advisers closer to the start of each season. The sports that MIAA ultimately does not approve to be played in their normal season will be moved or considered for later in the year during the floating season.
The health and safety of our school communities must remain the top priority, and we recognize that any plans for athletic opportunities must adapt to evolving public health metrics.
2020-21 Modified Sports Seasons
All sports must adhere to the minimum modifications outlined in the EEA guidance to achieve Level 3 play (inter-team competition). If those modifications cannot be met, the sport may consider moving to a later season or adopting a “practice only” model using the EEA cohort method and in alignment with other EEA guidelines. Guidance from EEA will be re-issued prior to the start of each season, based on public health data, testing availability, and any new information, and MIAA will make final decisions for each season following that updated guidance.
At this time, the sports listed above have been conditionally approved for the fall season, provided they are able to meet the minimum modifications outlined in the EEA guidance. For the fall season football, cheer, and unified basketball will be practice only, using the cohort method described in the EEA guidance. Schools/districts choosing to engage in practice for these sports must complete the Sport Attestation Compliance form and keep it on file.
Higher risk sports in later seasons (including hockey, basketball, wrestling, boys lacrosse, and rugby) will continue to be evaluated in light of health metrics and the EEA guidance and final decisions will be made closer to the start of each season. Those that are ultimately not approved by MIAA to be played in a season will be moved or considered for later in the year during the floating season, as reflected above. All sports, regardless of risk level, must follow the EEA guidelines, and moderate and higher risk sports must adopt the required minimum modifications for achieving different levels of play. To be able to engage in competitive play, modifications should include eliminating deliberate contact, modifying or eliminating intermittent contact, and increasing distancing. If these modifications are not possible, the sport may achieve a modified Level 2 play (competitive practice) using the cohort method outlined in the EEA guidance. Again, schools/districts choosing to engage in practice for these sports must complete the Sport Attestation Compliance form and keep it on file. The EEA guidance also outlines best practices for all sports, including the use of protective equipment and masks. The sport specific modifications and plan for implementation will be developed by MIAA in consultation with their medical advisors.
Based on the schedule above, school districts should work with MIAA to develop their schedules for the year and be ready to modify those schedules as needed. More detailed information on the guidelines for practices and the start of competitions will be outlined in the guidance that MIAA will release.
Sports participation for remote learners
Districts designated as “red” based on the Department of Public Health (DPH)’s metric of average daily cases per 100,000 residents and which therefore have their high school students learning remotely at the start of a season, must postpone their entire season, including practices, until the floating season later in the year.
Districts designated as yellow, green, or unshaded based on the DPH metric that nonetheless have their high school students learning remotely at the start of a season may similarly delay their season to the floating season. If a yellow, green, or unshaded district that is only offering remote learning to its high school students wishes to participate in the regularly scheduled sports season, this must be approved by the local school committee.
The MIAA will develop a timeline for looking at data prior to the start of each season to determine which color-coded designation a district should fall into for the purposes of engaging in sports. For example, the MIAA could determine a school’s color-coded designation/eligibility on September 1 to determine initial eligibility and check again on October 1 to determine if the school remains eligible to participate in the fall season.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
The protective gear is made of fire resistant materials, typically a blend of artificial fibers such as Kevlar. These articles are designed to prevent serious harm when firefighters come into contact with chemicals, electricity, fire or other dangers.
A growing body of research indicates that turnout gear must be cleaned after each use in a fire scene, in order to address properly the exposure to toxins and contaminants that can pose serious health risks to the wearer. In order to achieve this, and maintain necessary readiness status, departments most often must purchase and maintain two sets of gear for each firefighter. That, in turn, translates into a major expense for municipalities.
With Selectman Peter Perkins, Fire Chief Greiger, Firefighter Colangelo State Rep. Lenny Mirra, Firefighter Blake, Firefighter Ashley, Selectwoman Mary Anne Nay, Firefighter Brown,and State Rep Tram Nguyen.
Thursday, August 13, 2020
“The combination of three months of limited rainfall and well above normal temperatures through July and early August have led to very dry conditions in every region of Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “All levels of government are coordinating to address these critical drought conditions, and it is essential that residents and businesses across the Commonwealth take extra care to conserve water both indoors and outdoors and be mindful of the increased risk of wildlife when using any fire or smoking materials.”
“Because the Commonwealth continues to experience drought conditions across the state, the public is urged to continue conserving water in order to reduce the demand on water supplies,” said Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) Director Samantha Phillips. “Dry conditions increase the threat of brush and wildland fires, so we urge residents to exercise caution when using charcoal grills, matches, and other open flames during outdoor activities and to call 911 immediately if there is a fire to prevent the fire from spreading.” The declaration was informed by recommendations and discussions from a recent meeting of the Drought Management Task Force (DMTF), composed of state and federal officials and other entities, and will remain in effect until water levels return to normal in the affected regions.
Temperatures remain well above normal, as the Commonwealth recorded the second hottest July on record last month. Rainfall was scattered across the state with only a few areas receiving above normal precipitation; most areas were in a deficit by 1 to 3 inches. Meanwhile, temperatures throughout the first two weeks of August are 2 to 4 degrees above normal throughout Massachusetts, with warmer than normal temperatures predicted in the coming weeks and months. While most regions of the Commonwealth are experiencing a classic long-term drought, the Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands regions are experiencing conditions akin to a ‘flash drought’ which is a rapid onset drought with decreased precipitation, above normal temperatures, and incoming radiation resulting in abnormally high evapotranspiration all combining to increase fire danger and decrease crop moisture levels.
Additionally, wildland fire risk continues across the state. Extended drought conditions have rendered grasses, shrubs and forest fuels very dry across most of the state, and extremely dry in areas of the Southeast, resulting in increased wildfire risk and added challenges for firefighting agencies. Long term precipitation deficits have also led to extremely dry soil conditions, which results in fires burning deep into the ground, and taking multiple days to extinguish. These conditions exhaust local resources and increase risk to firefighter safety. Fire officials remind the public to be very aware of this situation, and to be careful with all open burning and disposal of combustible materials.
The state continues to intensely monitor and assess the drought situation, and any associated environmental and agricultural impacts. Task Force officials also noted that the state’s streamflow saw overall improvement in July because of scattered rainfall. However, within the first two weeks of August, conditions seem to have worsened, with well below normal streamflow observed in most regions. The state asks residents in every region across the Commonwealth to be very mindful of the amount of water they are using, to be proactive in reducing or eliminating outdoor water use, to reduce indoor water use, and to address plumbing leaks as soon as possible. Limiting nonessential outdoor watering is one of the most effective ways to minimize the impacts of drought on water supply and the environment, and ensure there is enough water for fire protection. All these steps will help reduce water use to ensure essential needs such as drinking water and fire protection are being met, and habitats have enough water to recover.
For Regions in Level 2 – Significant Drought
Residents and Businesses:
• Minimize overall water use;
• Limit outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m. one day a week.
Immediate Steps for Communities:
• Adopt and implement the state’s nonessential outdoor water use restrictions for drought; Level 2 restriction calls for limiting outdoor watering to hand-held hoses or watering cans, to be used only after 5 p.m. or before 9 a.m.
• Limit or prohibit installation of new sod, seeding, and/or landscaping; watering during or within 48 hours after measurable rainfall; washing of hard surfaces (sidewalks, patios, driveways, siding); personal vehicle or boat washing; operation of non-recirculating fountains; filling of swimming pools, hot tubs, and backyard informal rinks.
• Implement drought surcharge or seasonal water rates.
• Establish water-use reduction targets for all water users and identify top water users and conduct targeted outreach to help curb their use.
Short- and Medium-Term Steps for Communities:
• Establish a year-round water conservation program that includes public education and communication;
• Provide timely information to local residents and businesses;
• Check emergency inter-connections for water supply; and
• Develop a local drought management plan using guidance outlined in the state Drought Management Plan.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) continues to provide technical assistance to communities on managing systems, including assistance on use of emergency connections and water supplies, as well as assisting towns on how to request a declaration of drought emergency.
“Water suppliers should continue to work with their customers and educate them on strategies to manage demand during this time period,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “It is essential that regions across Massachusetts embrace conservation practices to avoid added stress on drinking water resources and other water-dependent habitats.”
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water supply system is not currently experiencing drought conditions, as defined within its individual plan.
The declaration of a Level 2 – Significant Drought requires the Drought Management Task Force to meet on a regular basis to more closely assess conditions across the state, coordinate dissemination of information to the public, and help state, federal and local agencies prepare any responses that may be needed in the future. The Task Force will meet on a monthly basis or more frequently as conditions warrant; the next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 3, 2020 at 1:00 pm and will be held virtually via Zoom.
Last year, EEA completed a two-year process and updated the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan to better assess drought conditions across the state and maximize the state’s ability to prepare for and respond to a drought. The Plan also provides guidance to communities on drought preparedness and outlines response actions that can be taken at the local level.
For further information on water conservation and what residents and communities can do, visit the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ drought page.