Monday, August 31, 2020

Primary Election Day Is Tomorrow

From 7 AM to 8 PM all registered voters, who have not yet voted, may cast a ballot tomorrow. This election takes place in all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth and determines the nominated office seekers who will be on the general election ballot in November. 

If you are registered to a particular party, you will receive that party's ballot at the poll. If you are an 'independent', someone not enrolled in a party, you can choose which party primary you wish to vote in. Printed sample ballots with the names of all candidates will be on display and available for your review before you are asked to check-in. Those candidates who 'top the ticket' will advance to the November election ballot. 

You are a vital link in our democracy and your participation in your government is always welcome. To find your official polling place check


Returning to School Safely, Together

With the re-opening of schools in two weeks, many parents and students have questions about the new school year. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has prepared a Website to help address these questions. I would like you to have easy access which you can find at


Friday, August 28, 2020

“Call to Colors” A Celebration of The American Flag at the Cape Ann Museum Green

This morning I had the privilege of joining a ceremony to honor our past and present veterans. Cape Ann Museum Director Oliver Barker invited me and others to attend this event next to the Babson-Alling House in an open field at CAM Green. 

The museum is building a new campus on Washington and Poplar Streets in Gloucester - they have three historic buildings and one incredible new building that will provide storage for its collection as well as exhibit and performance space. The Museum board decided to erect a flag pole at one of the focal points of the property, in a location also highly visible from the Grant Circle Rotary, on Rt 128 as you enter the city.

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.


Sales Tax Holiday

For many years, I authored and filed bills to make an annual sales tax holiday a permanent and reliable component of our calendar. Last legislative session those efforts came to fruition when the House and Senate adopted legislation to do just that.

You can access this sales-tax-free holiday this weekend - August 29th and 30th. The sales tax holiday allows shoppers to forgo paying the tax on most items, excluding food and drinks at restaurants, on purchases that cost less than $2,500. It is s a limited but effective way to give families some modest relief while also supporting local employers and businesses.


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Happy to announce today that the Seaport Economic Council awarded the Fishing Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to improvements in the health, safety and economic security of commercial fishermen and their families, a substantial state grant for their continued work.
You don't have to live in a coastal community to know that commercial fishermen are continuing to work hard to harvest and deliver nutritious food throughout this time of pandemic. They are truly essential workers.

Founded in 1997, the Fishing Partnership works to provide critical support services and programs to more than 20,000 New England fishing families. The Seaport Economic Council is state-created capital grant program that supports working waterfronts, local tourism, coastal resiliency, and maritime innovation in all 78 coastal communities.


Dr. Carl Soderland of Lahey Health Retirement

Recently, I had the pleasrre to present an official Massachusetts Senate Citation to Dr. Carl Soderland of Lahey Health Ipswich in recognition of his more than four decades of practicing medicine. Governor Charles Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito asked me to convey a formal recognition from them to Dr. Soderland as well. After caring for generations of families he is entering retirement.

Present in the pictures are Dr. Soderland, Julie Aubrey, Anne Kako, and Valerie Waldrop,


Massachusetts Approved For Lost Wages Assistance Grant

Commonwealth Receiving 3 Weeks of Federal FEMA Funds To Pay Additional $300 Unemployment Benefits

Massachusetts’ application to receive grant funding to pay an additional weekly unemployment benefit to claimants under the federal Lost Wages Supplemental Payment Assistance (LWA) program has been approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The application was submitted late last week by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in coordination with the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).

Per FEMA’s authorization, the grant will fund an additional $300 weekly payment to those who are eligible for the three weeks ending 8/1/20, 8/8/20, and 8/15/20. The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance has already begun work on the technology requirements necessary for this program and anticipates being able to quickly deliver retroactive funds to eligible claimants for those weeks by Sept. 15. Eligible claimants currently receiving benefits do not need to take any action because the Commonwealth will automatically add LWA to their weekly benefit payment retroactive to the dates they are eligible.

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will visit WheelWorks in Belmont to make an announcement relative to helping small businesses recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. A live stream of the Governor's briefing will be available at my Facebook page around noon   


Friday, August 21, 2020

MassDOT Advisory: North Andover, August 24

Overnight Paving Operations on Chickering Road (Route 125/133)

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that it will be conducting overnight paving operations on Chickering Road between Baystate Road and Farrwood Avenue in North Andover. The work is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m., on Monday, August 24, and will continue through to 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 25.

In order to allow crews and contractors to safely and effectively conduct operations, traffic impacts including lane closures and alternating one-way traffic will be necessary at times.

For more information on traffic conditions travelers are encouraged to: Dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions
Visit, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
Follow MassDOT on Twitter @MassDOT to receive regular updates on road and traffic conditions
Download MassDOT’s GoTime mobile app and view real-time traffic conditions before setting out on the road.


Thursday, August 20, 2020

"The State of the Coast"

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

Legislature Enacts $1.8 Billion Bond Bill to Strengthen the Commonwealth’s

Information Technology & Physical Infrastructure

Invests in food security, education, public safety accountability

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Karen E. Spilka joined their colleagues in House and Senate to pass legislation authorizing up to $1.8 billion in spending for the improvement of information technology equipment and other capital projects in Massachusetts.

The legislation also authorizes funding for food security, law enforcement body cameras, and investments in educational technologies in Massachusetts schools.

“Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever, everyone realizes the importance of our information technology infrastructure,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments will strengthen the resilience of our state and help provide more equitable access to key services for our residents. I thank Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, and my colleagues in the Legislature for their work on this important bill.”

“As we adjust to a world transformed by a global pandemic we stand committed and ready to supporting existing programs and finding new ways to invest in underserved and underrepresented populations,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).“I am thrilled to see this bill authorizes additional much-needed supports for childcare providers. I am equally proud to see this borrowing bill directs resources to a program aimed at supporting communities of color. I would like to thank all my colleagues, including House Speaker DeLeo and Senator Michael Rodrigues, for their work priorities.”

“House and Senate members made certain that the components of this legislation would have positive wide-ranging impacts for our residents over many key areas. We modernize the state's economic, justice and education systems, harden our cybersecurity capabilities and combat food insecurity with farm and fisheries grants to make food supply channels more robust and connect those in need with food resources,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester).

“This bond bill provides over $1.5 billion in critical funding for library construction, public safety initiatives, food security programs, and technology upgrades throughout state and local government,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “These are important investments that will allow Massachusetts to continue to address its infrastructure needs while also responding to the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The capital plan, which includes $794 million for state and local general technology and physical infrastructure, features the following targeted investments.

· $110 million in public safety infrastructure and equipment

· $134 million in statewide economic development grants and reinvestment in disproportionately impacted communities

· $80 million in educational IT and infrastructure grants, including $50 million to assist public schools in facilitating remote learning environments

· $10 million to fund technology investments at community health centers

· $37 million in food security grants

· $25 million in capital improvements for licensed early education and care providers and after school programs to ensure safe reopening during COVID-19

· $30 million in public safety accountability technologies including body cameras and a race and ethnicity data sharing system

The legislation has now been signed into law by Governor Baker.


State public health officials announce season’s third human case of EEE in the Commonwealth

Risk levels raised in three communities

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that laboratory testing confirmed the third human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) virus infection. The individual is a male in his 90s who was exposed to EEE in Plymouth County. As a result, the EEE risk level in Halifax has been raised to critical, and the EEE risk level in East Bridgewater and Hanson has been raised to high. All three municipalities are in Plymouth County.

Across the Commonwealth, there are now four municipalities at critical risk, nine at high risk, and 18 at moderate risk for EEE. DPH continues to work with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities. All residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high and critical risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.

EEE is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. There have already been two other human cases identified this year. In 2019, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with 6 deaths. EEE virus has been found in 64 mosquito samples this year, over 70 percent of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people. Information about current mosquito activity will continue to be updated regularly and can be found here.

People have an important role to play in protecting themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes. DPH recommends the preventive measures below.

Avoid Mosquito Bites
Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with an EPA-registered ingredient (DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus (pmenthane 3, 8-diol (PMD) or IR3535) according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning in areas of high risk.

Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change the water in birdbaths frequently.

Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.

Protect Your Animals
Animal owners should reduce potential mosquito breeding sites on their property by eliminating standing water from containers such as buckets, tires, and wading pools – especially after heavy rains. Water troughs should be flushed out at least once a week during the summer months to reduce mosquitoes near paddock areas. Horse owners should keep horses in indoor stalls at night to reduce their risk of exposure to mosquitoes. Owners should speak with their veterinarian about mosquito repellents approved for use in animals and vaccinations to prevent WNV and EEE. If an animal is suspected of having WNV or EEE, owners are required to report to DAR,

Division of Animal Health by calling 617-626-1795 and to DPH by calling 617-983-6800.

For other updates about EEE in Massachusetts, visit the DPH webpage Information including all West Nile virus and EEE positive results can be found on the Arbovirus Surveillance Information web page or by calling the DPH Epidemiology Program at 617-983-6800.

For the most up-to-date information on pesticide spraying locations, visit the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Aerial Spraying Map


Joint Guidance on Modified School Sports Seasons For Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association

From The Massachusetts Department of Elementary And Secondary Education 

As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts begins the process of opening schools, we must also look at the possibility of providing athletic experiences for our students. Sports can be an important part of a well-rounded educational experience, even during the current public health crisis. Notwithstanding the risks associated with COVID-19, organized physical activity should be encouraged, within clear health and safety parameters. Most sports can be played in ways that minimize those risks. In many cases, that will mean that inter-scholastic competitions may not look the same and may need to be played under fairly stringent restrictions with modified rules.

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

Boxford Firefighter Turnout Gear

For a firefighter turnout gear, the personal safety equipment used by an individual, is of vital importance. Boxford’s state legislative delegation successfully championed amendments to both the House and Senate budgets last year, and as a result, $50,000 was made available for the purchase of units of protective gear necessary for Boxford Fire Department's full-time and on call firefighters to respond to emergencies. 

This particular initiative is intended to protect #Boxford firefighters. Turnout gear is one of the most important things that can protect them from serious harm.

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.


Governor Charlie Baker's Coronavirus Briefing at Noon

Today, about noon, Governor Charlie Baker will join Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides to provide an update on Coronavirus from the State House. A live stream will be available at


Thursday, August 13, 2020

Significant Drought Conditions Declared Across Massachusetts

Above Normal Temperatures, Below Normal Rainfall Lead to Level 2 Drought   

Due to above normal temperatures throughout July and early August and more than three months of below normal rainfall, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides today declared a Level 2 – Significant Drought in all seven regions of the Commonwealth – the Western, Connecticut River Valley, Central, Northeast, Southeast, Cape Cod, and Islands regions. At a Level 2 – Significant Drought, as outlined in the Massachusetts Drought Management Plan, conditions are becoming significantly dry and warrant detailed monitoring of drought conditions, close coordination among state and federal agencies, emphasis on water conservation, more stringent watering restrictions, and technical outreach and assistance for the affected municipalities.

“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.


Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles Announces 2020 Low Plate Lottery

Applications accepted online-only through September 6th

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is announcing that applications for the 2020 Low Number Plate Lottery are now being accepted online at Mass.Gov/RMV using the Online Service Center. Applicants must apply by September 6th and, if selected for a low number plate, will be notified after the drawing takes place later in September.

This year, there are 100 plates available through the low plate lottery. Some of this year’s low plate characters are 751, 7660, 6P, 12K, K5, B35 and V35.

Applicants should note that there is no fee to apply. However, should the applicant be selected as a winner, there is a fee that will be required, as the fee is required of all new license plates, as well as a standard registration fee.

Customers are encouraged to visit the RMV’s website or follow @MassRMV on Twitter for upcoming details on the drawing, including the date, time, and location of the event. In addition, applicants will be sent a notification via email. The lottery results will be posted on the RMV website.

Lottery Rules and Eligibility Requirements

Only one entry per applicant will be accepted, regardless of the number of active registrations the applicant has.

An applicant must be a Massachusetts resident with a currently active, registered, and insured passenger vehicle.
Companies/corporations may not apply.

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.

Online entries must be completed by September 6, 2020.
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.


Excessive Heat

The high temperatures we are all experiencing create risks and I encourage you to take extra precautions.  If you must work or spend time outside try to schedule activities to early mornings or evenings. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion:
  • a drop in blood pressure when exerting yourself, such as moving from a sitting to a standing position, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • feeling faint or having the sense that you are going to black out
  • sweating profusely from many areas of the body
  • moist, cool, or cold skin, coupled with goose bumps, even in extreme heat
  • a pulse rate that becomes weak and rapid
  • headache
  • muscle cramping
Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. 

Please stay hydrated and cool and regularly check on the elderly, young children, and those with chronic illnesses in your life as they are at a higher risk.  NEVER leave children or pets unattended in vehicles. This hot weather will make car interiors reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes. 


Massachusetts RMV Extends Promotional Opportunity for Future Free REAL ID Upgrades

Customers who renew for standard license or ID online at Mass.Gov/RMV will have $25 REAL ID upgrade fee waived upon future return visit to a Service Center Over 70,500 driver’s licenses and IDs renewed online since the promotion began;

limited in-person license renewal appointments now available Adjustment of 6 Hour Junior Operator Supervised Driving Observation Requirement and 7-Day Vehicle Registration Transfers also Extended

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is extending the timeframe for which eligible customers can renew their 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 now 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.

“Customers have shown a great deal of interest in this REAL ID initiative, and we are pleased to further extend the promotional timeframe which will allow even more individuals additional time to renew their license or ID online now and upgrade later to REAL ID at no cost if they need one,” said RMV Registrar Jamey Tesler. “While limited in-person license renewal appointments are now available, we ask that all our customers please continue to take advantage of the expiration extensions and online renewals so that appointments can be preserved for those without any other alternative. The RMV is continuing to provide customers with resources and tools that can be used to stay safe and save time without having to visit a service center during
the pandemic.”

The RMV has seen a dramatic increase of close to 300% in online renewals by customers during the pandemic and this promotional opportunity period. More than 70,500 online renewals were completed between the promotion’s June 12th start date and July 31st, compared to just 25,000 over the same time period in 2019. In July 2020 alone, there were almost 48,000 online credential renewals, compared to just 16,100 in July 2019. The RMV has bolstered back office support efforts to accommodate this 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 noncommercial 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 has introduced this initiative and fee waiver pursuant to the recently extended Executive Order 39 issued by Governor Baker on June 12, 2020, and 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
• 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 now 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.

The following provisions of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 39 relative to RMV operations have also been extended until Massachusetts’ State of Emergency is lifted:
• Extends the ‘grace period’ requirement for vehicle registration transfers after a vehicle purchase from 7 days to 21 days.
• Extends the ability for junior operators with a learner’s permit to complete an additional 6 hours of supervised driving hours with a parent, guardian or other adult over 21 with a valid license for over a year, for a total of 46 hours of supervised driving, in lieu of the 6-hour requirement for observing another student driver. This minimizes the need to spend additional time in a vehicle with individuals from different households, which is discouraged under current public health and reopening guidelines for driving schools.

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 or


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Update: Upcoming Route 1 Lane Closure/Shifts and Ramp Closures

Full Closure of Route 1 Southbound

From 9PM to 5AM on the nights of August 13th and 14th Route 1 southbound (towards Boston) will be completely closed where it passes through the Chelsea Viaduct portion of the combined Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project.  Southbound traffic will exit Route 1 at the Carter Street off-ramp, turn right onto Carter Street, turn left on Everett Avenue and proceed to the Everett Avenue on-ramp to rejoin Route 1 southbound.  During this operation, the northbound lanes of Route 1 will not be impacted.  This operation is a necessary preparatory step to an overnight operation on Friday, August 14th to shift the lanes on Route 1 southbound and set up the project’s next work zone.

Lane Shifts

From 9PM on Friday, August 14th to 5AM on Saturday, August 15th roadway configuration changes and southbound lane shifts will take place in the Chelsea Viaduct portion of the combined Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation project.  Work will begin after 9PM and finish before 5AM the following day.  This operation is weather dependent.  If weather conditions are not right on the 14th, the operation will take place overnight on August 17th

Once the shift is complete, southbound traffic will be split into two lanes with the work zone between them from approximately the top of the Carter Street off-ramp, adjacent to Chelsea High School, to 4th Street, adjacent to the 4th Street northbound off-ramp and the Congregation Agudas Shalom synagogue. 

This traffic shift will allow for a continuous work zone throughout the project area and facilitate necessary bridge deck repairs and safety improvements.  Following the shift, two southbound lanes will be available on Route 1 during all peak periods.  The northbound lanes will be shifted similarly during the week of August 31st and additional information regarding this operation will be provided once it becomes available. 

Ramp Closures

CARTER STREET OFF-RAMP: During the day on Thursday, August 13 between 9AM and 4PM the Carter Street off-ramp from Route 1 southbound will be closed.  This will allow for demolition at this location to be completed. This will be followed by three, overnight closures lasting from 9PM to 5AM on the nights of Wednesday, August 19, Thursday, August 20, and Friday, August 21.  The three-night closures will allow for the setting of prefabricated bridge units.

Drivers should take care to pay attention to all signage and move carefully through the work zones. Police details, lane markings, temporary barriers, traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used to control traffic and create safe work zones.

MassDOT will provide additional notices as needed for high-impact work, temporary ramp and street closures, and changes to traffic configurations.

For more information on the Tobin Bridge / Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project, contact or visit the project website.