Monday, November 23, 2020

BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION AWARDS OVER $3.2 MILLION IN ROAD SAFETY GRANT FUNDING

Governor Baker, Lieutenant Governor Polito and Executive Office of Public Safety & Security Secretary Thomas Turco announced the awarding of more than $3.2 million in federal grant funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

These critical funds will be distributed to 161 local police departments across the Commonwealth to reduce vehicle crashes, injuries, losses of life, and the resulting economic costs. Awards to 161 Municipal Police Departments Municipal Road Safety Program includes traffic enforcement campaigns such as Drive Sober, Click it or Ticket, Distracted Driving, Speed; equipment; non-enforcement traffic safety activities. 

These district communities were awarded grants: 

Georgetown $11,995 

Gloucester $24,930 

Groveland $11,946 

Hamilton $5,619 

Ipswich $20,000 

Manchester By The Sea $12,000 

Wenham $10,359 

Wilmington $25,000


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North Reading Senior Thanksgiving Drive-Thru Event

Each year State Representative Brad Jones and I host the North Reading Council On Aging Thanksgiving Dinner. This year, we did it again but we made some necessary adjustments to create an amazing drive-through at Teresa’s / Hillview Country Club. 

Mary Anne Nay, Selectman, Town of Boxford my Deputy Director of Special Projects & Intergovernmental Relations and Dick Curran​ my Deputy Director of Constituent Services & Community Outreach helped us greet so many wonderful people. Special thanks to Mary Prenney the Director of the North Reading Senior Center, her staff, and volunteers for making this event so special.
















 


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SENATOR TARR AMENDS SENATE BUDGET TO COMBAT COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Secures Bipartisan Senate Budget Amendments To Support Impacted Sectors 

Responding to the concerns of local and school officials and the ongoing threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R - Gloucester) has added provisions to the Fiscal Year 2021 state budget approved by the Senate this week to advance efforts in protecting public health during the state of emergency. Specifically, those amendments will:

* Give local school districts needed risk assessment tools to inform decisions about protecting the health of students, educators, and staff

* Ensure that those on the front lines of health care have adequate personal protective equipment

* Provide communities with funds to meet the extra costs of addressing the pandemic.

In addition to an amendment that provides a minimum of $250,000 for the communities in the district that Tarr represents in the Senate for 2019 novel coronavirus public safety response, the Senator also won the approval of a plan to direct the state’s Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for inventory tracking, materials management, and using robust procurement systems for the purposes of obtaining the amounts of personal protective equipment needed.

“One of the most important elements of combating COVID-19 is to develop a system for PPE management such as tracking availability, identifying problems, and ensuring that we have a systematized approach for procurement so we don’t have a shortage again,” said Senator Tarr. “The adequacy of personal protective equipment availability, particular for those who provide us with our health care on the front line, is critically important and I appreciate the support of my colleagues in the Senate.”

This PPE supply management plan will identify disruptions in supply chains, incidents of price gouging and projected need while putting in place cost-saving mechanisms for bulk or coordinated purchases of the gear. Another important feature of the system will include a mechanism for a health care provider to alert the office to any impending shortages.

Students, school staff, and families connected to school districts both public and private across the state will benefit from a Tarr proposal to create a School Virus Risk Assessment initiative. The Tarr plan grew out of conversations with local school administrators and was further enhanced by Rockport Superintendent of Schools Rob Liebow.

"Senator Tarr is always keeping the best interests of our young people as one of his top priorities regardless of all the other competing forces he has to deal with on Beacon Hill. He listens carefully to those in the educational field and always responds to the needs of those who can't necessarily advocate directly for themselves,” said Superintendent Liebow. “Our young people are so lucky to have Senator Tarr keeping an eye out for what is best for the children who are certainly our most precious resource and our greatest hope for a brighter future."

The amendment requires collaboration by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with the Department of Public Health to procure or otherwise develop, statistically valid risk assessment tools for the 2019 novel coronavirus among student populations. The state agencies must make those tools available to all schools in the state, both public and non-public, within 3 months of the budget bill becoming law.

“This budget represents one of many ways in which we can identify areas of need for our residents during this world-wide pandemic,” said Tarr. “From food security, ensuring the wellbeing of vulnerable people, and giving support for those who keep our economy functioning we are in this together.”

The Senate budget takes several other important steps to preserves access to essential services for our most vulnerable residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The budget funds MassHealth at a total of $18.2 billion to maintain critical access to affordable health care coverage for over 1.9 million people, The budget bill also includes targeted investments to maintain and expand access to mental health care, while strengthening public health infrastructure at the local, state and regional level to combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Conference Committee will now convene to reconcile the differences between the Senate budget and the version passed by the House of Representatives.


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Governor Baker's Coronavirus Briefing

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders to announce a new statewide COVID-19 public awareness campaign that will run on TV and digital platforms. A live stream will be available here at approximately 11 AM.

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Mass Cultural Council to Administer Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Program in Partnership with Baker-Polito Administration's Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development

The Mass Cultural Council, in partnership with the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, has launched the Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program, which offers grant assistance to Massachusetts nonprofit cultural organizations negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This new $10 million initiative is part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s Economic Recovery Plan. Of the $10 million, $2 million will be dedicated to supporting small cultural nonprofits, in alignment with the FY20 COVID supplemental budget. 

“The Commonwealth’s cultural institutions are a vital component of our identify and this grant program arrives at a crucial time for those organizations that have suffered significantly as a result of the pandemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “I’m pleased we can target these resources toward these necessary institutions as we continue working to ensure they survive and thrive long into the future.”

Cultural organizations have suffered staggering economic loss in recent months because of the COVID-19 public health crisis with a reported $484 million in lost revenue and more than 30,000 cultural jobs impacted. The Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program will efficiently distribute funds to organizations that urgently need them. The deadline to apply for funding is Friday, December 11, 2020; grant awards will be distributed early in calendar year 2021.

“We are so pleased with this collaboration with the Baker-Polito Administration,” said David T. Slatery, Acting Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “Our cultural sector has been financially devastated by the pandemic. This vital new program will provide urgently needed relief to cultural organizations across the Commonwealth. We know that the cultural sector must be completely restored for the Commonwealth’s economy to fully recover.”

“The cultural sector has a strong history of enriching the lives of Massachusetts residents through an approach that promotes education, inclusion, and diversity,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Recognizing the importance of this sector’s mission, this grant program will allow us to focus our support for these organizations and institutions so they can continue to play a significant role in our daily lives.”

Since March, 898 cultural organizations have responded to Mass Cultural Council’s four COVID economic impact surveys. These organizations collectively identify more than $116.8 million in COVID-related capital improvements and non-capital recovery strategies necessary to reopen and safely reengage with the public. Sixty-two percent of these organizations have made the difficult decision to layoff or furlough employees or reduce their wages and/or hours – choices that have impacted 30,616 cultural employees statewide.

“I’m grateful to the Mass Cultural Council for their collaborative efforts to support this vital sector,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “Not only are these institutions vital to our culture and history, they also generate commerce in key areas across the Commonwealth, they attract visitors from out of state, and the industry employs a large workforce with skillsets that are unique and specialized.”

The Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program will grant cultural organizations up to $100,000, or three months of supported operating expenses. On an extremely limited basis, Mass Cultural Council and EOHED reserve the right to award a small number grants worth up to $500,000 for organizations experiencing extraordinary losses. An organization must demonstrate extraordinary need and show that they face remarkable challenges that threaten its viability for this higher award amount to be considered.

Program guidelines, eligibility requirements, and the grant application for the Cultural Organization Economic Recovery Grant Program are available online.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Senate Budget Debate Day 2

Day 2 of the Senate budget debate begins this morning. You can watch the debate as a live-stream right on my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SenatorBruceTarr. We expect to be in the Senate Chamber in the 10 o'clock hour. If you would like to read the proposed Senate Ways and Means Committee or the amendments that remain you can find that info at: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2021/SenateDebate/Amendments

 


 


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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Governor Baker Nominates Judge Serge Georges Jr. to the Supreme Judicial Court

Governor Charlie Baker today nominated Associate Justice for the Boston Municipal Court, Serge Georges, to serve as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Judicial Court. The nominee and his family joined Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito for a formal announcement today at the State House.

“Judge Georges has served on the Boston Municipal Court with great distinction and treats all those that come before him with dignity and respect,” said Governor Baker. “His unique voice and real world experiences will improve the quality of discussion and debate on the Commonwealth’s highest court and I am pleased to nominate him.”

“Judge Georges’ rich background in and out of the courtroom, from his time in private practice to his experience on the drug court, will well serve the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and all those that come before it,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “I have the utmost confidence that, if confirmed, Judge Georges will be an excellent addition to the SJC and I look forward to the advice and consent of my colleagues on the Governor’s Council.”

The Supreme Judicial Court is the Commonwealth's highest appellate court, consisting of the Chief Justice and six Associate Justices. The seven Justices hear appeals on a broad range of criminal and civil cases from September through May and issue written opinions that are posted online.

About Judge Serge Georges, Jr.:

Judge Serge Georges serves as an Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court. He had a successful and diverse career as an experienced litigator prior to his appointment to the bench in 2013 by Governor Deval Patrick. Directly prior to his appointment, he managed his own successful solo practice concentrating in commercial and business litigation, criminal defense, and matters involving professional licensure and liability. He represented businesses and individuals in a wide range of civil disputes including breach of contract, fiduciary duty suits, employment matters, housing litigation and personal injury cases. In private practice, he also defended criminal cases, including motor vehicle offenses and violent and drug related charges. Prior to establishing his solo practice, Georges was a partner at Barron & Stadfeld, P.C., the Managing Director for Major, Lindsey & Africa, LLC, and an associate at both Todd & Weld and Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster. He served on multiple boards during his legal career, including the Board of Governors of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers, and he was the President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association in 2013.

In his role as Associate Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, over the last seven years, he has had jurisdiction over both criminal and civil matters, including housing matters, mental health hearings, restraining orders and small claims and civil litigation cases. Judge Georges sits in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court, one of the most active and busiest urban courts in the Commonwealth. From 2014 to 2018, Judge Georges presided over the Dorchester Drug Court. The Dorchester Drug Court is a multidivisional team working with community providers, representatives from Suffolk Lawyers for Justice and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to offer treatment options to those whose addictions have led them into the criminal justice system.

Judge Georges graduated from Boston College in 1992, and from Suffolk University Law School in 1996, where he has served as an adjunct professor for the past twenty years. At Suffolk Law he teaches courses in Professional Responsibility, Evidence and Trial Advocacy. He also teaches Trial Advocacy at UMass Law School. He attended Boston College High School and currently serves as vice-chair of the Board of Trustees for BC High, and remains involved with the school. In January of this year, BC High awarded Judge Georges The James E Cotter ’55 Courage Award. This award is presented to a member of the BC High Community in recognition of courage in the face of adversity, tenacious spirit and force of will. He grew up in Kane Square, in Dorchester, and currently resides in Randolph with his wife Michelle and his two daughters, Olivia and Samantha.

For more information about the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, visit: http://www.mass.gov/courts/court-info/sjc/.


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Senate Budget Debate Begins Today

The State Senate will begin budget deliberations today on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget to fund operations of all state agencies, departments, and functions. I will have the session streamed live right here. The session is scheduled to begin this hour. There will likely be multiple pauses in the session given that we are functioning with special rules adopted to maximize safety during the COVID-10 state of emergency. You can read the budget and the amendments offered to it here: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2021/SenateDebate

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Senate Ways and Means Releases FY 2021 State Budget Recommendations

The House of Representatives this week debated their version of the state's annual operating budget. On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means produced a $45.985 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2021. The Committee’s budget recommends allocations to protect access to core essential services, address urgent needs, and support efforts to build an equitable recovery for the Commonwealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last night, members of the Senate met a 10 PM deadline to offer proposed amendments to the committee's proposal. There are 473 amendments to the bill - these will be debated next week. You can read the text of the underlying budget bill and the filed amendments here: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/SenateDebate The Committee’s budget recommends a total of $45.985 billion in spending, a 5.5% increase over the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) General Appropriations Act. 

This spending recommendation is based on a revised tax revenue estimate of $27.592 billion, which is $3.558 billion less than the original consensus revenue estimate of $31.151 billion, as originally agreed upon in January. To close this anticipated revenue shortfall, the FY21 budget includes $1.5 billion from the Stabilization Fund, ensuring a majority of the Stabilization Fund balance remains for future years, $1.38 billion in available federal supports, and more than $400 million in new revenue initiatives.


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Friday, November 13, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Re-establishment of a Field Hospital at the DCU Center in Worcester

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that the first field hospital will be stood up at the DCU Center in Worcester as the Commonwealth prepares additional capacity for COVID-19 patients. This site will be built by the National Guard and is the first field hospital to re-open in the state since June. 

“The Commonwealth continues to see an alarming rise in cases and hospitalizations for COVID-19 and we are acting now to expand hospital capacity,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “All residents are urged to follow guidance to wear masks, stay home at night and stop gathering. We are preparing our hospital system to add more beds and stand up our first field hospital to care for COVID-19 patients if these trends continue. We will keep working with our health care system to monitor capacity and will be prepared to open more locations if needed.”

The plan to re-establish the field hospital in Worcester was activated this week. The site is expected to be available for patients in the first week of December if needed and additional locations will be added in other regions if necessary. No further changes or restrictions to regular hospital services in Massachusetts are being implemented at this time.

“Since Day One of our response to this crisis, we have worked to ensure that our hospitals and health care providers have the resources they need to meet the acute care health needs of our residents,” said EOHHS Secretary Marylou Sudders, the COVID-19 Command Center Director. “We are in a much better position to respond to what will be a difficult next few months, and the early re-opening of this field hospital is based on the data we see is the right action to take at this time."

State officials have closely monitored several metrics and note that hospitalizations since Labor Day have increased from 178 to 661. While the hospital system manages the current demand for COVID and non-COVID care, the DCU site will provide approximately 240 additional beds to care for lower-acuity COVID-19 patients, helping preserve hospital system capacity for higher-risk patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or other serious health conditions.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will coordinate the logistics of the DCU Center field hospital, in close collaboration with the Command Center, City of Worcester, and UMass Memorial Health Care, which will again lead all clinical, day-to-day, operations.

“The Commonwealth’s forward planning and ability to stand up this Alternate Care Site with our partners is a direct result of lessons learned and our experience during the first wave of the pandemic,” said MEMA Director Samantha Phillips. "We hope that we won't need all of these overflow beds, but if we do, they’ll be ready.”

The DCU Center was the first of five field hospitals constructed by the Commonwealth during the response to the springtime surge of COVID-19 cases. From early April until late May, when it was de-mobilized, the DCU site served 161 patients. In total, the DCU and the Boston Hope field hospitals cared for more than 570 hospital patients during the first pandemic surge.

“This is the right thing to do and at the right time. The field hospital was an enormous asset for Central Massachusetts hospitals during the spring surge. I believe it can serve an even greater purpose today because we have learned so much more about the virus and caring for COVID-19 patients since then. Our team is ready to deploy and to assist the state’s hospitals,” said Eric W. Dickson, MD, President and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care.

Alternate Care Sites are designed as clinical spaces for lower acuity patients. These sites provide a relief valve for hospitals, allowing them to manage or reconfigure their facilities to care for more seriously ill patients. Each site is built to safely accommodate the beds, equipment, and medical supplies needed to appropriately care for COVID-19 patients.

The establishment of field hospitals has been a critical strategy in Massachusetts' response to COVID-19. Additionally, the Command Center has added 30 specialty beds at two long term care facilities to increase capacity for individuals being discharged from acute care hospitals to nursing home level of care and are on ventilators or had tracheotomies. The Commonwealth’s continued preparedness has also included the stockpiling of millions of pieces of PPE, including gloves, masks, gowns, and other essential equipment as hundreds of additional ventilators. The state’s emergency stockpile will buttress strong preparedness that hospitals and other health care facilities have undertaken in the last several months, including building their own inventories to respond to the next stage of the pandemic.


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Governor Baker's Briefing

Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito will join Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders and MEMA Director Samantha Phillips to provide an update on Coronavirus and the Administration’s plan to stand up field hospitals. A live stream will be available here at 12:30.

 


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Street Dedication For Sgt. George Veloza Decorated Wilmington World War Two Veteran

At the start of this week of honoring veterans I participated in a remarkable ceremony to dedicate the Sgt. George Veloza Way in Wilmington in Honor of Sgt. Veloza a WWII Veteran and Silver Star and Purple Heart recipient who fought in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. 

This wonderful event was attended by members of the Veloza family, representatives of the Wilmington, MA. Veterans Services Wilmington, Massachusetts public safety departments including Wilmington, MA Police Department and Wilmington, MA Fire Department, Selectboard, town officials, State Representative Dave Robertson for State Rep, the American Legion Riders 221 - Bedford, MA, and others in honor of Sgt. Veloza. 

Sgt. Veloza Way is located off of McDonald Road. I hope all who live on or travel along Veloza Way over the coming decades will keep his name and story in their hearts.









 


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Thursday, November 12, 2020

MBTA Forging Ahead Virtual General Public Meeting: North Shore November 24th at 6 PM - 8 PM Virtual

*** Important and time-sensitive *** 

You have an opportunity to share your thoughts on proposed changes to the MBTA system From the MBTA- Challenged by unprecedentedly low ridership due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the MBTA is facing a historic moment. In October 2020, riders took around 330,000 daily trips—or 26% of daily ridership compared to 2019.

The MBTA has continued to run service at 2019 levels, even though it does not match current demand. In order to protect essential service for those who depend upon it, we need to reduce service where there are fewer riders.

Event Description -

Forging Ahead: Protecting public transit for people who need it now.

Challenged by unprecedentedly low ridership and lost fare revenue, the MBTA is facing a historic moment.

The T is proposing ideas to realign service to accommodate the transit needs of people using the system today.

Join a virtual community meeting to learn more and share your feedback.

Learn more about Forging Ahead: https://www.mbta.com/forgingahead

Join the Virtual Meeting:

The meeting will be held over Zoom. You can join by computer, smartphone app, or telephone. https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMsceGvqDojEtMdn1ENV6hiOlsaxC9tyL57

If you have questions, please email publicengagement@mbta.com.

Agenda:

The meeting will focus on bus and Commuter Rail (Newburyport/Rockport Line) service for the following communities:

Amesbury

Beverly

Danvers

Essex

Gloucester

Hamilton

Ipswich

Lynn

Manchester

Marblehead

Nahant

Newbury

Newburyport

Peabody

Rockport

Rowley

Salem

Salisbury

Saugus

Swampscott

Topsfield

Wenham


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Wilmington Veterans Day Ceremony

I joined with Wilmington Department of Veterans Services' Veteran Service Officer Lou Cimaglia, Representative Dave Robertson, Wilmington town officials, and many others in Wilmington on the Town Common to honor the veterans who have served our nation. 

WCTV: Wilmington Community Television has posted a video of the entire service for those who were unable to attend.












 


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Wednesday, November 11, 2020

United We Stand To Pay Our Respects To Our Nation's Veterans

Please join me in remembering our military veterans. 

The unyielding and unchanging core principals of our nation expressed in our founding documents would be unobtainable without the actions of our veterans. We are blessed to have had men and women wear the uniforms of our military organizations take actions to defend, preserve, and promote those values and principles here and around the world. The family members of our veterans, and of those who wear the uniform as active members today, deserve our deep appreciation.


 


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Tuesday, November 10, 2020

House To Deliberate on State Budget

The Massachusetts House of Representatives will begin their deliberations on the Fiscal 2021 state budget today. The House Ways and Means plan does not rely on any new taxes or major cuts. It does utilize a draw on our 'rainy day fund' while seeking to attract an increase in federal funds. Due to the COVID-19 state of emergency conditions, the budget arrives five months into the fiscal year. You can read the proposed budget and find the text of the 777 budget amendments here - https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H5150/Amendments/

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Monday, November 9, 2020

EPA to conduct aerial survey of Olin Superfund Site in Wilmington, Mass. week of November 9th or 16th

Within the next two weeks, Olin Corporation (Olin) plans to conduct an aerial survey over the Maple Meadow Brook wetlands in Wilmington. The aerial survey was scheduled to take place the week of November 9, 2020, but may be postponed to the week of November 16, 2020, due to a delay in clearing the survey equipment through the United States/Canadian customs. The purpose of this aerial survey is to gather data to characterize the bedrock beneath the wetlands as part of the ongoing site investigations related to the Olin Chemical Superfund Site. >

These investigations, called an Aerial Electromagnetic (AEM) survey, are being conducted in order to better understand the distribution of contamination in the bedrock, both on and around the site. The AEM survey is being coordinated by Olin with EPA’s oversight. The survey will involve flying a helicopter, with a large dipole instrument attached, over the Maple Meadow Brook wetland area (see the graphic and photo attached below). This technology was selected since it is considered the best and safest tool to analyze the wetland area, which is otherwise difficult to access due to high water elevations. >

The survey is expected to take approximately two hours of flight time. Olin anticipates the AEM will be completed in one day; however, depending on the quality of results, additional scans may be required. Because of this, Olin has reserved a two to three-day period for backup flights to ensure quality data is collected. The helicopter will travel above the wetland and containment area at an elevation of 150 – 180 feet with the AEM equipment suspended at 100 feet above the ground surface to collect data. The AEM survey is expected to cover an area of 250 acres and consists of flying the instrument in straight lines spaced 100 feet apart. The use of this technology has been approved by EPA. Residents who live nearby may notice an increase in noise while the survey is being conducted, as the helicopter will be flying low in order to collect data. A map of the survey area is provided below. >

Olin presented information regarding the AEM survey during the October 26, 2020, Wilmington Board of Selectmen meeting and a recording of the meeting is available on the WCTV: Wilmington Community Television video on demand webpage (http://wctv.org/). Olin will also be placing an informational flyer describing the AEM survey in mailboxes of residents and businesses within the anticipated fly zones.



 


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MBTA Releases Proposed Service Changes to Match New Ridership Patterns

No fare changes are included in proposals and service adjustments are not permanent. 

Public outreach underway through December 4. FMCB will vote on proposals December 7 

 

The MBTA today released a series of proposed changes to its transit service that are intended to match service to new ridership patterns resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed changes are part of the T’s Forging Ahead effort to define and protect its core essential transit services.

A letter from MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak to riders regarding the Forging Ahead process and the proposed service changes can be found online on the MBTA website. The public is also encouraged to view these proposals and participate in the public engagement process, which is now underway and run through December 4.

This comprehensive public engagement process includes a series of virtual public meetings, a public hearing, a team of Community Liaisons who are already gathering feedback directly from riders, and an online comment form for customers to voice and share their thoughts with the T. Specific details of these proposals and the public engagement processes are available at mbta.com/ForgingAhead.

As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA is now only transporting 330,000 trips on an average weekday – but is continuing to run the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic, an unsustainable level of service delivery.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on ridership and the MBTA is releasing these proposed changes to adjust to the realities created by COVID-19, while protecting service for those who depend on it most,” said General Manager Steve Poftak. “I want to reassure our riders that these service changes are not permanent, do not include any fare changes, and will not take effect immediately. We are carrying out a comprehensive outreach process and encourage all members of the public to provide comments and feedback, as we want to hear from riders to help us identify and protect the services that support transit-critical populations and communities.”

The MBTA is proposing a series of service changes in addition to preserving its base-level service, or its minimum level of service as determined by the Fiscal and Management Control Board. The MBTA will continue to provide sufficient service for the current, reduced ridership on all modes except the ferry system, which is being proposed to be temporarily closed. The proposed base service levels are designed to ensure adequate capacity for all essential services as well as a reduced level of non-essential service that is still viable for most of those who are currently using the T. The T’s base service includes approximately eighty essential bus routes, The Ride, the whole of the rapid transit system including subway, and the Fairmont Commuter Rail line.

“The vast majority of MBTA service will continue, and these service adjustments are being proposed to preserve and protect service for those who depend most critically on the MBTA by reducing primarily non-essential services,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Using limited resources to operate nearly empty trains, ferries, and buses is not a responsible use of the funding provided to the MBTA by riders, communities, and taxpayers, and does not help us meet the transportation needs of our region. We look forward to working closely with the public to ensure we continue providing essential service and help the MBTA afford the growing service we will need to support our customers and communities in the future.”

The proposed service changes announced today will not go into effect immediately. While some service changes on the Commuter Rail could take place as early as January 2021, the changes to Commuter Rail would be made in March, rapid transit changes would be made in spring 2021, and buses changes would happen later in the summer. This will allow the MBTA to adjust the proposed basic service if warranted by changes in ridership and if additional, durable revenue becomes available.

Service levels will be continually reassessed based on the status of the state of emergency, commuting patterns, and ridership and fare revenue recovery in 2021 and beyond. The MBTA is also proposing service packages that will include options to increase service once ridership returns and the T’s revenue improves.

The MBTA is hosting a series of public engagement efforts that will run through December 4 to receive public feedback on the service changes that includes a series of virtual public meetings, and a public hearing to gather feedback directly from riders, and an online comment form for customers to engage with the T.

The T wants to hear from transit riders about the services people are using now, how often they are using them, and what their transit priorities are in order to shape the T’s decisions about protecting transit-critical services.

The FMCB is scheduled to vote on the changes on December 7, so that planning can begin for making the changes in 2021.

Proposed service changes beyond the base-level service include:

Rapid Transit:

The Red, Orange, Blue, and underground Green Line stations are experiencing approximately ~120,000 gated entries on weekdays, which is about 24 percent of its pre-COVID numbers. Proposed service level changes for the Red, Orange, Blue and Green lines and Mattapan trolley include: Weekday and Saturday service will operate from 5 a.m. to midnight (currently until 1 a.m.) and Sunday service will operate from 6 a.m. to midnight (currently until 1 a.m.).

Reduce peak frequency by 20 percent and reduce off-peak frequency by an additional 20 percent on all lines. The Green Line E Branch will terminate at Brigham Circle with customers able to transfer to Bus Route 39, which mimics E Branch service from Brigham Circle to Heath Street.

Bus:

Buses are experiencing about 171,000 weekday boarding, which is approximately 41 percent of its pre-COVID ridership. Proposed service level changes include: All bus service will stop at midnight, though early service will continue on essential bus routes.

Eighty essential bus routes will see an average change in service of just 5 percent and routes with high ridership will not be changed.

Sixty non-essential bus routes will operate 20-30 percent less frequently. Approximately ten routes will be consolidated or restructured.

Approximately twenty-five routes that served less than 0.5 percent of pre-COVID riders (about 1,700) will be eliminated.

Commuter Rail:

The Commuter Rail is experiencing approximately 13 percent of its pre-COVID ridership with about 8.5 percent of its normal ridership during morning peak periods. As a result, the following changes are proposed (with the exception of the Fairmount Line): No evening service after 9 p.m.

No weekend service (except for the Fairmount Line, which will be bused).

Decreased weekday peak service and some midday service, reducing from 505 trains (fall 2019) to 430 trains.

Close six (out of 141) stations based on low ridership, operational impacts, and availability of alternatives.

Specific service levels by line will take into account ridership patterns from adjusted Fall 2020 schedules with more balanced service throughout day.

Ferry:

Ferry ridership is approximately 12 percent of pre-COVID ridership, averaging 7 passengers per boat, and passengers have either bus or commuter rail service as an alternative. As a result, all Ferry service (F1, F2H, F4) is proposed to be stopped. Charlestown/Boston service (F4) has experienced very low COVID ridership and highly redundant bus service is available on Route 93 (an essential bus route which currently has minimal crowding and can support diverted ferry riders. Hull and Hingham service has also experienced very low ridership due to COVID-19 and passengers can use the Commuter Rail Greenbush line.

The RIDE:

With changes being proposed to the area and hours of operation of fixed route services, some RIDE trips may become “premium trips,” though RIDE service boundaries would not change.

Some trips will be able to be booked forty minutes from request time instead of the current thirty minutes.

The public is strongly encouraged to submit feedback online and/or participate in any of the eleven virtual public meetings, including an Official Public Hearing, where input may be provided and questions can be asked of MBTA officials. At every Forging Ahead public meeting, either Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, General Manager Steve Poftak, or one or more members of the Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) will be present to listen to public comments. All public comments on Forging Ahead received during public meetings, provided to MBTA Community Liaisons during engagement sessions, or through the online comment form will be shared with members of the FMCB and senior executives, including the Secretary of Transportation and General Manager. MBTA Community Liaisons are also available by emailing publicengagement@mbta.com to schedule in-person, phone, or online meetings with individuals, local municipalities, or neighborhood organizations to provide information and seek community feedback. All details continue to be available at mbta.com/ForgingAhead.


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Home Heating Assistance

This stunning November weather may convince you that it isn't home heating season - it is. Here is some important heating assistance and energy services information that could be very valuable to you and your family.  






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Saturday, November 7, 2020

Baker-Polito Administration, COVID-19 Command Center & Department of Elementary & Secondary Education Release Updated Metrics, Guidance on Schools

The Baker-Polito Administration and COVID-19 Command Center released updated metrics for schools and municipalities. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also released updated school guidance. 

This update builds on the state’s ongoing efforts to refine data that is reported publicly to track the impact of the virus in the Commonwealth. The updated metrics for communities will give school districts more data to make informed decisions regarding in-person learning. Local officials have also used these metrics to make decisions for schools and businesses in their communities.

Understanding of the virus continues to evolve. Studies have shown that there is low transmission in schools, even in communities where there are high rates of COVID.

UPDATED METRICS FOR SCHOOLS & MUNICIPALITIES

The updated metrics adjust for the reporting of cases by a municipality’s population size. These metrics incorporate cases per 100,000 residents and the test positivity rate when determining a municipality color designation.

Using one metric to determine school reopenings community by community does not reflect the state’s current understanding of the virus in the Commonwealth that there is more transmission across the Commonwealth due to increased cases of COVID-19.

The Command Center has also been reviewing metrics used by other states as well as what is available in the academic and national data sets. This updated metric also will better account for communities that conduct a significant amount of testing.

This metric will continue to be used to determine whether a community is in Step 1 of Phase 3 or Step 2. Communities currently in Step 1 of Phase 3 will need to have 3 weeks of data where the community is designated yellow, green or grey in order to move to Step 2 of Phase 3.

Under the new methodology, the color coded designations are: 16 red communities, 91 yellow communities, 79 green communities, and 165 grey communities based on this week’s data.

Details on the metrics: 


 

DESE’s UPDATED SCHOOL GUIDANCE:

In coordination with this data metric update, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has issued updated guidance to prioritize in-person learning statewide and support municipalities.

Scientific evidence and COVID-19 transmission data supports that with strong health and safety protocols in place, schools are able to operate safely and successfully with in-person learning. This updated guidance was developed in conjunction with medical professionals and public health experts.

Under this guidance, districts and schools in communities designated gray, green or yellow are expected to have students learning fully in-person when possible.

The guidance states that schools in red communities should implement hybrid models while maximizing in-person learning for high-needs students.

In communities with the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases, DESE and DPH will work with local school officials to develop and implement risk reduction strategies.

Fully remote instructional models should be implemented only as a last resort, and classrooms should reopen after appropriate mitigation strategies have been implemented.

This update replaces previous guidance, Interpreting DPH COVID-19 Health Metrics, issued on August 11, and structured learning time requirements for students and related regulatory and statutory standards remain in effect for all districts.


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Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Please Vote!

    Voting has been a cornerstone of our democracy throughout the history of our nation, and the ability to make choices about those who will represent us is not only a fundamental element of our legacy as Americans, it's also critical to our future . While this year has presented some challenges, we must not let our election system be disrupted. That's why the legislature and the Baker administration have worked to enact special measures to maximize the opportunity for everyone to vote, and why municipal clerks, officials and poll workers are working across the state to ensure that we have a fair, open and effective process to cast our votes and that we can depend on the integrity of that process. 

    I encourage you to vote today, if you have not already done so, in the following ways :

      1.If you have requested and received a mail-in ballot and not yet returned it, please do so today. Mailed ballots must be POSTMARKED by today to be counted or can be delivered to your local polling location until 8 pm. 

      2. You can also vote in person at your designated polling place, which will remain open until 8 pm. Special measures are in place at polling locations to protect public health, and it's important that you wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

     You can find your designated polling location, and other voting information, at https://www.sec.state.ma.us/wheredoivotema/bal/MyElectionInfo.aspx, and you can reach the office of the Elections Division of the Secretary of State at 1-800-462-VOTE or elections@sec.state.ma.us.

      Please be sure to vote if you haven't already done so, and thank you for giving our democracy the strength that comes from your participation!




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Monday, November 2, 2020

New Executive Order and Guidance related to COVID-19

 







Baker-Polito Administration Announces Targeted Measures To Curb Rising COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations

Early Business Closures, Revised Gatherings, Mask Orders Announced to Disrupt Growth of COVID-19 Cases

 

BOSTON – Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Governor Charlie Baker announced these changes at a time where public health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day. These measures are meant to disrupt rising trends now, so the Commonwealth can keep the economy and schools open for residents and to prevent the need to roll back to Phase I or Phase II of the reopening plan.

 

All orders and advisories will be effective Friday, November 6th at 12:01 AM.

 

New Orders & Advisories:

 

Stay At Home Advisory: The Administration issued a revised Stay At Home Advisory to ensure residents avoid unnecessary activities that can lead to increased COVID-19 transmission. The revised Stay At Home Advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 PM and 5 AM. The Advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs, and taking a walk.

 

Click here to read the revised Stay At Home Advisory: www.mass.gov/stayhome.

 

Early Closure of Businesses and Activities: Governor Baker issued a new executive order that requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 PM. The 9:30 PM closure requirement is aligned with the Stay At Home Advisory and together the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID-19 transmission.

 

Effective November 6, the following businesses and activities must close to the public each day between the hours of 9:30 PM and 5:00 AM.

 

  • Restaurants (in-person dining must cease at 9:30 PM, although takeout and delivery may continue for food and non-alcoholic beverages, but not alcohol)

 

  • Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must cease alcohol sales at 9:30 PM (but may continue to sell other products)

 

  • Adult-use marijuana sales must cease at 9:30 PM (not including medical marijuana)

 

  • Indoor & outdoor events

 

  • Theaters/movie theaters (including drive-in movie theaters), and performance venues (indoor and outdoor)

 

  • Youth and adult amateur sports activities

 

  • Golf facilities

 

  • Recreational boating and boating businesses

 

  • Outdoor recreational experiences

 

  • Casinos and horse tracks/simulcast facilities

 

  • Driving and flight schools

 

  • Zoos, botanical gardens, wildlife reserves, nature centers

 

  • Close contact personal services (such as hair and nail salons)

 

  • Gyms, Fitness Centers and Health Clubs

 

  • Indoor and outdoor pools

 

  • Museums/cultural & historical facilities/guided tours

 

Click here to read the new executive order (including full list of businesses required to close at 9:30 PM).

 

Face Covering Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order related to face-coverings. The revised order requires all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. The revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, but it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.

 

Click here to read the revised face-coverings order.

 

Gatherings Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order restricting gatherings. The new gatherings order reduces the gathering size limit for gatherings at private residences: indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 PM.

 

The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.

 

Click here to read the revised gatherings order.

 

  

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Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Updates from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Construction Look-Ahead: November 1 – November 14, 2020

This is a brief overview of construction operations and traffic impacts for the Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project. MassDOT will provide additional notices as needed for high-impact work, temporary ramp and street closures, and changes to traffic configurations beyond those described below. 

ROUTE 1 TRAFFIC IMPACTS ROUTE 1 NORTHBOUND: Approaching the Tobin Bridge from Boston, the work zone begins in the right lane. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m.–10 p.m.) After the 4th Street off ramp, the Northbound lanes are split with a work zone in the middle. Traffic can travel in either side of the work zone. ROUTE 1 SOUTHBOUND: Approaching the Chelsea Curves from the North Shore, the work zone begins in the right lane at the Carter Street off-ramp and continues through to the Tobin. 2 of 3 travel lanes will be open during daytime hours (5 a.m.–10 p.m.) On Friday 10/30 through Sunday 11/1, Route 1 Southbound will be reduced to a single lane starting on Friday at 3 p.m. through Sunday at 8 p.m.

GRANT BENNETT PARKING LOT CLOSURE On Saturday, 11/7 through Sunday, 11/8, the Grant Bennett Memorial Parking Lot will be closed to allow work on the Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves rehabilitation to continue. Those looking for parking can use the La Escuela Williams (John A. Browne Middle School) parking lot during the days and time listed above.

LOCAL STREET CLOSURES There will be no local street closures on Tuesday (11/3) Election Day

FIFTH STREET will experience a temporary overnight closure on Monday 11/2 (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.). Fifth Street will also experience day closures on Wednesday, 11/4 (7 p.m. = 7 a.m.), and then on Thursday, 11/5 and Friday 11/6 (7 a.m. – 3 p.m.).

ARLINGTON STREET will be temporarily closed on Saturday, 10/31, Sunday, 11/1, Monday 11/2, Wednesday 11/4, and Friday 11/6 during the day (7 a.m. – 7 p.m.). Arlington Street will also experience a temporary day closure on Thursday 11/5 (7 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.). There will also be an overnight closure for Arlington Street on Thursday 11/05 (9 p.m. – 5 a.m.)


 


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