Friday, July 30, 2021

Farewell Gathering for Kathy Collins from the Essex Department of Veterans’ Services

After several years of dedicated service to our country in the US Army and in service to veterans we had a gathering to wish Kathy well in her next endeavors. She has accepted a new position with the Marblehead Housing Authority. 



New COVID-19 Guidance for Schools Districts for Fall 2021 from Jeffrey C. Riley, Commissioner, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Margret R. Cooke, Acting Commissioner, Department of Public Health


• This fall, DESE and DPH strongly recommend that all students in kindergarten through grade 6 wear masks when indoors, except students who cannot do so due to medical conditions or behavioral needs. Masks are not necessary outdoors and may be removed while eating indoors.

• DESE and DPH also strongly recommend that unvaccinated staff in all grades, unvaccinated students in grades 7 and above, and unvaccinated visitors wear masks indoors, in alignment with the statewide advisory on masking.

• DESE and DPH recommend that schools allow vaccinated students to remain unmasked.

• Any individual at higher risk for severe disease from COVID or with a household member who is at high risk is encouraged to mask regardless of vaccination status consistent with the updated DPH Advisory on Face Coverings and Masks.

• Any child or family who prefers to mask at school should be supported in this choice.

• By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear masks on school buses at this time.

• All staff and students must wear masks while in school health offices. Additional guidance for school health professionals is forthcoming from DPH.

Please note: DESE and DPH will continue to consult with medical advisors and may update the masking requirements above as we learn more about COVID-19’s effects on hospitalizations in Massachusetts and on children.

COVID-19 testing:

Districts and schools are highly encouraged to maintain or establish a robust plan for COVID-19 testing in schools, including both diagnostic testing and screening (pooled) testing for students and staff. DESE and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services will continue to offer these services at no cost to districts. These no cost services will include optional support for districts who would like additional staff to conduct testing on-site and/or help with testing logistics and communication.

Diagnostic testing, such as the BinaxNOW rapid antigen test, is an important tool for use in testing asymptomatic close contacts as part of updated quarantine guidance (see below). Diagnostic testing is especially important this year, as we head into cold and flu season. Districts are strongly encouraged to sign up for the statewide COVID-19 testing program as soon as it becomes available later in August to minimize the number of students required to quarantine outside of school.

Contact tracing and quarantine protocols:

DESE and DPH will soon release a new version of the “Protocols for Responding to COVID-19 Scenarios” document. As part of this guidance, districts in the statewide testing program or using other approved diagnostic tests will be able to implement a new “test and stay” protocol in lieu of requiring asymptomatic close contacts to quarantine. Under test and stay, asymptomatic close contacts will have the option to remain in school and be tested daily with BinaxNOW for at least 5 days. Vaccinated staff and students are exempt from quarantine.



Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $17 Million in Funding for Dams and Coastal Infrastructure

28 cities and towns receive critical funding 

The Baker-Polito Administration today announced over $17.3 million in grants to address failing dams, coastal infrastructure, and levees across the Commonwealth. The announcement was made by Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides and state and local officials at Haskell Pond Dam in the City of Gloucester. The Administration also highlighted its $2.9 billion proposal to immediately invest a portion of Massachusetts’ federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act in urgent priorities, including $300 million for climate-resilient infrastructure.

The grants, which were awarded by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ (EEA) Dam and Seawall Program, will support permitting and construction projects in Acton, Ashfield, Braintree, Brockton, Chicopee, Dracut, Dudley, Essex, Gardner, Gloucester, Hull, Ipswich, Leominster, Marshfield, New Bedford, Northborough, Oxford, Peabody, Quincy, Salem, Saugus, Somerset, Stow, Springfield, Wareham, Weymouth, the Wildlands Trust (Kingston), and Worcester.

“The Commonwealth’s cities and towns are seeing the impacts of climate change every day, and our Administration is committed to providing needed funding to support critical resilience projects to address these issues,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants will help municipalities make substantial progress to maintain and repair aging dams and seawalls across Massachusetts.” “Ensuring dams, seawalls, and levees remain in good condition can be costly on municipal budgets, and we are pleased to provide these Dam and Seawall Program grants to help support municipalities as they make these investments,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “It is critical that we continue to foster strong partnerships with local communities and organizations to create a more resilient Massachusetts.”

With these 32 new grants, the Dam and Seawall Program has now provided over $95 million in grants and loans to address deficient dams, seawalls, and levees since the program began in 2013. “Since coming into office in 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has delivered over $82.5 million in funding through the Dam and Seawall Program to improve critical infrastructure that protects our communities and businesses and makes our Commonwealth more resilient to the ongoing impacts of climate change,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “As we prepare for stronger storms, rising seas, and more intense precipitation, maintenance and enhancement of our aging water control structures, as well as strategies to increase natural infrastructure will help build more resilient cities and towns throughout the state.”

“Dams and seawalls are challenging and costly pieces of infrastructure that must be maintained for public safety, environmental protection, and the health of drinking water,” said Senate Minority Leader State Senator Bruce Tarr. “Yet for communities the cost of maintaining them is a heavy burden that strains municipal budgets. Thanks to this grant program and the significant resources it brings, communities don't have to go it alone in building and maintaining these critical structures. Thanks to the Baker-Polito administration for making these investments, and congratulations to Gloucester, Ipswich, Essex, and the other recipients who have designed and submitted projects worthy of the support they are receiving today.”

"Although Cape Ann is one of the Commonwealth's most beautiful resources, the natural landscape creates many infrastructure challenges," said Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante. "I am pleased that the Commonwealth is investing and sharing the burden with the City of Gloucester of maintaining and managing Haskell Pond, one of our reservoirs, for use by current and future generations." “As a coastal community, we have seen firsthand how devastating winter storms, inland flooding and sea level rise can be for everyone,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “Thankfully, we have continued to work with state leadership on climate resiliency programs, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program (MVP) which helped us understand our needs and earn these terrific grant awards supporting the Haskell Pond Dam Repair and Gloucester High School Flood Barrier. On behalf of the City of Gloucester, we thank the Baker-Polito Administration again for their ongoing climate resiliency support and grant programs which continues to return results desperately needed for us all.” Local Dam and Seawall Program grant recipients and awarded projects:

Town of Essex:

Conomo Point Seawall - $1,739,915

City of Gloucester:

Haskell Pond Dam / Haskell Pond Dam Design Storm and Seismic Improvements - $63,300

Haskell Pond Dam / Haskell Pond Dam Design Storm and Seismic Improvements - $1,000,000

Gloucester High School Flood Mitigation Barrier Construction - $2,379,000

Town of Ipswich:

Ipswich Mills Dam Removal Pre-Permitting Assessment & Design Project - $75,000

City of Peabody:

Sidney Pond Dam Improvement Project - $84,187

Town of Saugus:

Spring Pond Dam Rehabilitation - $261,959

City of Salem:

Columbus Avenue Seawall Reconstruction Project - $952,605

In June 2021, the Baker-Polito Administration re-filed its plan to immediately put to use part of the Commonwealth’s direct federal aid from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to support key priorities including housing and homeownership, economic development and local downtowns, job training and workforce development, health care, and infrastructure. As part of the Administration’s proposal to jump-start the Commonwealth’s economic recovery and support residents hardest-hit by COVID-19, such as lower-wage workers and communities of color, Governor Baker would direct $900 million to key energy and environmental initiatives, including $300 million to support climate resilient infrastructure. The funding would be distributed through programs like EEA’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program and would fund priority climate adaptation projects and investments aligned with the priorities identified in the state hazard mitigation and climate adaptation plan. Investments that would be supported through the funding include the acquisition of land specifically targeted at reducing flooding and the Urban Heat Island Effect.



Boxford Groundbreaking And Cookout For The Senior - Community Center

Putting shovels in the dirt to break ground for new project is the easy part, lots of people have worked hard to get us to this point in the development of Boxford's Senior/Community Center. Congratulations for all of the hard work and dedication of town officials and residents to bring us to this great gathering and day. 

The House and Senate budget, recently signed by Governor Charlie Baker, included two line-item earmarks totaling $115,000 to support the project. The construction includes historic rehabilitation of existing Cummings House; demolishing and removing existing structures to east of Cummings House (the ell, the stairs, the former library structure, the barn) and replacing with new single story addition for new community/senior center. 

Site-work includes new septic system, new storm-water management system, paved driveways, parking areas and walkways, exterior emergency generator, electrical transformer, exterior pole lighting and fencing. 

With State Rep. Lenny Mirra, MA State Rep. Tram T. Nguyen and Town of Boxford



Grant Awards Announced At Gloucester's Haskell Dam Pond

Today at about 2:30, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Polito will join Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides, #Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Giambanco Romeo Theken, local officials and I at Haskell Dam Pond. The Governor will announce grant awards for the Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program and environmental infrastructure investments included in the Administration’s $2.9 billion proposal to support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. 

A livestream of the event will be available at my Facebook page



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Appreciation For Alan Benson For His Decades of Service to Boxford

Alan has served as Boxford's top town administrator for more than twenty years following his earlier service as a member of the Finance Committee and Selectboard, and then as its Town Treasurer. He has skillfully navigated many challenges over the years and he has earned the respect of his colleagues and partners in government. At every stage of his career, in and out of government, he has been considerate, engaged, and a pleasure to work with. With every best wish for a great retirement. With Representative Brad Hill, State Rep. Lenny Mirra, MA State Rep. Tram T. Nguyen.




Monday, July 26, 2021

MassDOT Advisory: Gloucester, Blynman Drawbridge Route 127 (Western Avenue) over the Annisquam River - Deck Joint Repairs on Blynman Drawbridge

Travel impacts overnight hours, starting 9 PM on July 28th and 29th 

Overnight closure of Route 127, Western Avenue, over the bridge Large boats will be unable to pass as bridge will be in the closed position 

GLOUCESTER – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is announcing that it will be conducting deck joint repairs on the Blynman Drawbridge over the Annisquam River in Gloucester. The repairs will require the draw span to remain in the closed position from Wednesday, July 28 through Friday, July 30, during overnight hours from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. the following morning. 

Vehicular and marine traffic will be impacted at night. If required, the closures will continue on Sunday, August 1. Vehicular traffic traveling Route 127, Western Avenue, over the bridge will be detoured each night from 9:00 p.m. to 5 a.m. as follows: 

Route 127 northbound traffic 

  • Left onto Route 133 westbound Left onto the ramp for Route 128 northbound Route 128 northbound to Grant’s Circle Right onto Washington Street Right onto Centennial Avenue 
  • Left onto Route 127 northbound. 
Route 127 southbound traffic 
  • Right onto Centennial Avenue Left onto Washington Street Around Grant’s Circle to Route 128 southbound 
  • Right onto the ramp for Route 133 eastbound 
  • Left onto Route 133 eastbound 
  • Right onto Route 127 southbound
The Coast Guard has granted a temporary deviation from the operating schedule that will allow the bridge to remain in the closed-to-navigation position to perform bridge repairs. Any boats that can pass under the bridge at the height based on the tides may do so. Boats which cannot pass under the bridge may use the northern entrance of the Annisquam River as an alternate route for vessels coming to/from Ipswich Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. 
Those traveling through the area should expect delays, reduce speed, and use caution. Appropriate signage is in place to guide users around the area. Appropriate signage, law enforcement details, and messaging will be in place to guide drivers through the work area.



VaxMillions Prizes and Awards - First Drawing Today

The Commonwealth launched the Massachusetts VaxMillions giveaway as one of many strategies to raise awareness of the availability and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines and to encourage residents to get vaccinated. The fist winner will be announced Thursday. 

If you are a resident of Massachusetts and are 12 years of age and older and you received all required doses in Massachusetts you may be eligible. Residents can enter the VaxMillions Giveaway online at until Thursday, August 19, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.



Rockport Art Association & Museum 100th Anniversary Ceremony

The Rockport Art Association & Museum created a lively and welcoming celebration this weekend to recognize 100 years since its founding. I was honored to be asked to share remarks, present the RAA&M with an official Resolution of the State Senate, and place items sealed into a time capsule before burying it. The capsule, with items such as drawings, photographs, and other items representing present-day Rockport, will be opened for the 200th anniversary by a generation not yet born. 

The officers, members, supporters, artists, and art admirers who have helped sustain art and culture do us all a great service. I encourage you to visit. 

Photos by: Peter H. Van Demark



Saturday, July 24, 2021

Boxford Boy Scout Troop 57 Court of Honor

The achievement of the rank of Eagle Scout is the highest and most rare and so it was an honor to participate in the Court of Honor for five new Eagles - Brady Lawlor, Luke Chadwick, Joseph Dox, Kevin Fahrner, and Liam Quinlan. Each has earned the respect of their troop and their community and I congratulate them and their families on the years of hard work and dedication to reach this level. With Boxford Selectperson Mary Anne Nay




Thursday, July 22, 2021


A wonderful morning to celebrate Harbor Village, a multifamily affordable house located in downtown Gloucester two blocks from City Hall and the waterfront. This $10 million mixed-use development has dozens of one, two, and three-bedroom affordable rental units, 2,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, and 30 off-street parking spaces. 

With Mickey Northcutt, CEO North Shore Community Development Coalition, Peggy Hegarty-Steck, CEO Action Inc., City of Gloucester Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken, and Representative Ann Margaret Ferrante. 



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

$6.5 Million Awarded to Select Municipalities in Shared Streets and Spaces Program

First launched during the summer of 2020 from funding adopted by the House and Senate, the Shared Streets and Spaces Program was established last June and was immediately popular with Massachusetts cities and towns. 

Groveland and Ipswich were included for funding in this round. 

#Groveland received $59,452 to construct new and safer sidewalks and crosswalks in Elm Square and surrounding neighborhoods. 

#Ipswich received $18,000 to install a pedestrian safety beacon and crosswalk for the segment of Topsfield Road located between Bradley Palmer State Park and Willowdale State Forest. 

The Shared Streets and Spaces Program awards funds in these four categories: 

Main Streets - Invest in local downtowns and villages by repurposing streets, plazas, sidewalks, curbs, and parking areas to facilitate outdoor activities and summer programming, including but not limited to facilities for eating, shopping, play, and community events and spaces for all ages; 

Safe Streets and Paths - Make our streets safe for people to walk, bike, and ride public transit; 

Better Buses - Establish new facilities for public buses and bus stop shelters; 

Shared Mobility - Support the capital costs of equipment for new bikeshare and micromobility share programs.



Essex Council On Aging Ice Cream Social

There is something extra special about ice cream on a summer day and when shared with friends it's even better. I had a wonderful time at the Essex Council on Aging for an ice cream social and open house sponsored by the Friends of the Senior Center. 



Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Massachusetts Registry of Motor VehiclesAnnounces2021 Low Plate Lottery Applications accepted online, now through August 27th 1H, F1, and X25 among available plates

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) announced that applications for the 2021 Low Number Plate Lottery are now being accepted online at Mass.Gov/RMV using the Online Service Center. Applicants must apply by August 27, 2021, and, if selected for a low number plate, will be notified after the virtual drawing takes place on September 8, 2021. 

This year, there are 200 plates available through the low plate lottery. Some of this year’s low plate characters are 210, 2762, 1H, 24L, F1, J25 and X25.

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 virtual low plate drawing. The drawing will be live-streamed and a link to the event will be made available soon. In addition, applicants will be sent a notification via email. The lottery results will be posted on the RMV’s website.

Lottery Rules and Eligibility Requirements -
●The 2021 Low Number Plate Lottery is online submission only.
●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 and 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 the end of day on August 27, 2021.
●By law, lottery winners must be announced bySeptember15, 2021. 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 31,2021,to swap their plates. Unclaimed plates will be forfeited after December 31stand the25 selected alternate winners will then be notified as to what lottery plate they won. 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. 

Low Number Plate Lottery rules and eligibility can also be found here -


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Annual Military Service Day at the Patton Homestead

The mission of this amazing public event is to highlight and honor military service and veterans. With the Patton Homestead as the hub for historians, reenactors, veterans, and those who came to better understand the service of those in the military this annual event is an American treasure The event was a day-long exhibition of vintage military vehicles, equipment, military reenactors, speakers – both veterans and academics – and other veteran-related attractions, held on the grounds of the home of one of America’s most famous and celebrated military families. The day also recognizes and honors the 100th anniversary of the A.P. Gardner American Legion Post in its efforts to support veterans and their families in Hamilton MA. 

Sponsored by Hamilton A.P. Gardner American Legion Post