Friday, February 25, 2022

Gloucester Nets $100,000

The City of Gloucester's rich maritime history received further support this week when the state's Seaport Economic Council voted to award #Gloucester $100,000 for the pedestrian pathway through wharves, piers, docks, and buildings known as the HarborWalk. 

The HarborWalk takes visitors, residents, and local employees through the heart of the working harbor to historic and cultural sites. Congratulations to Mayor Greg Verga who took the oath to serve as a member of the Council 

The Council serves 78 of the state’s coastal communities. and awards grant funding in support of projects that promote job creation and economic growth, transformative public-private partnerships, educational opportunities, economic development planning, infrastructure improvements, and the planning and permitting of saltwater dredging. 



Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The 3G Network Shutdown Will Impact Phones And More

What is happening? Mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks to make room for 5G. Many older cell phones will be unable to make or receive calls or use data services because of this. 3G mobile phones and certain older 4G mobile phones that don't support HD Voice will be affected. 

When is it happening? Plans to phase out 3G services will vary by company. The most up-to-date information can be found on your mobile provider's website. AT&T will shut down its 3G network by February 2022. The 3G network will be shut down by December 31, 2022. T-Mobile will shut down its 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022, and its 4GLTE network by June 30, 2022. It has not yet said when it will shut down its 2G network. Some devices only need a software update to enable advanced services. If you purchased your phone independent of a mobile provider, you should be able to check whether your device is 4GLTE (with VoLTE or HD Voice) enabled by checking your phone's settings or user manual, or by searching your phone's model number on the internet. 

Other devices, such as certain medical devices, tablets, smart watches, vehicle SOS services, home security systems, and other connected products may be using 3G network services.


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

MBTA Responds Following Fatal January Commuter Rail Accident

Tonight, I released the following statement with Representative David Robertson, and Representative Kenneth Gordon regarding the MBTA fatal accident In Wilmington after the MBTA issued a press release detailing their steps to make certain safety improvements. 

Boston- Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), Representative David Robertson (D- Tewksbury), and Representative Kenneth Gordon (D - Bedford) released the following statement regarding the MBTA’s press release outlining measures to prevent railway/roadway signal crossing accidents following the fatal accident that occurred at the North Wilmington MBTA Commuter Rail grade crossing with Route 62 on January 21, 2022: 

"In the immediate aftermath of the tragic accident in January we pledged to assist Wilmington town officials and the MBTA in any efforts to fully understand the failings that resulted in the loss of life of Wilmington resident Roberta Sausville Devine. In addition, we called upon the MBTA and Keolis Commuter Services to act expeditiously and take necessary measures to ensure the safety of all following investigations. These failures must not be repeated. 

Tonight, the MBTA has responded publicly by outlining the several steps that have been undertaken. In the wake of the tragic loss of life that occurred, we welcome the implementation of these important steps to prevent any similar accidents from occurring in the future. Our efforts to support public safety and the proper functioning of commuter rail operations will continue and we encourage the MBTA and Keolis to continue to explore and act on every possible avenue to make the system more immune to human error. We intend to continue that discussion with transit leaders and town officials. We need to do everything in our power to prevent such a tragedy from occurring again" 

MBTA & Keolis Take Steps to Further Enhance Safety at Wilmington Railroad Crossing 

WILMINGTON – Demonstrating its strong commitment to public safety, the MBTA and its Commuter Rail operator Keolis will exceed standard operating procedures and take additional steps to enhance the protocols for testing the train crossing's protection system on Middlesex Avenue in Wilmington. With multiple tests confirming that all elements of the crossing's infrastructure have continued to perform as designed, the MBTA and Keolis are focused on the human element of federally mandated railroad crossing testing. “I’d like to assure the community that the protection system at the Middlesex Avenue railroad crossing is safe and fully operational,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “On top of our regular maintenance, inspection, and testing procedures, additional rules and instructions for Commuter Rail personnel have been introduced to provide another layer of safety-related enhancements.” 

“Safety for our people, our passengers and the communities that depend on commuter rail service is our first priority at Keolis,” said Abdellah Chajai, Keolis Boston CEO and General Manager. “We will continue to work with the MBTA and our crews to ensure safe operations at this location and across the network.” First and foremost, Keolis has already retrained all of its signal maintainers on the procedures that must be followed before, during, and after the process of performing regular testing of the railroad crossing's protection system. 

In addition, the MBTA and Keolis have initiated the following measures: 
• After the testing is completed, the Commuter Rail dispatchers must request, and receive, affirmation from the signal maintainer that the protection system is enabled. 
• Following the step mentioned previously, the signal maintainer must remain on-site until the next train passes to ensure the crossing’s protection system is fully operational and, if necessary, be prepared to manually control the protection system if the system does not perform as expected. 
• New signage will be installed on the inside of each signal bungalow door to serve as a visual reminder to Keolis personnel to ensure that the crossing equipment has been fully and properly returned to service.


Booking Bluefin Blowout

Pre-planning gathering results in your prompt to save the dates for the 2022 Bluefin Blowout to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association -July 28th – July 30th at Cape Ann Marina Gloucester. This premier event not only attracts great fishing competitors, it also creates fun and entertaining events while raising substantial funds to help support the Alzheimer's Association in advancing care, support and research. The Bluefin Blowout giant bluefin tuna tournament is presented by the Lyon-Waugh Auto Group, in historic #Gloucester, MA. This year, there were lots of great ideas shared at the planning meeting and one big goal - -to try and raise $500,000!


Friday, February 18, 2022

Food Security And The Open Door

Today, I visited The Open Door in Gloucester to see the progress that's been accomplished on their food distribution operation, pantries, meal programs and wrap-around nutrition services, and the new SmartChoice digital food inventory program. The Open Door is a non-profit serving Greater Cape Ann residents to help alleviate the impact of hunger. 

I was happy to be invited to join with State Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante and City of Gloucester Mayor Greg Verga and others. The staff and volunteers do a world of good. To learn more about how to give or get help please visit their website



Thursday, February 17, 2022

"Pint For A Pint" Blood Drive At True North

True North Ale Company in #Ipswich is hosting a blood collecting event with Dana-Farber and Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the Robert Kraft Family Blood Donor Center with the The Scrawney-Morgan Foundation this Saturday. 
Saturday, February 19, 2022 • 8:30am-3:00pm 116 County Road Ipswich, MA 01938 Learn more about this and other drives or sign up at:


Thursday, February 10, 2022

$173,900 Headed to Rockport Music From State Award

When the Legislature approved gaming we wanted to provide support for cultural organizations and artists by allocating a portion of casino revenues to local arts councils and the arts. Today, Rockport Music will receive $173,900 to help in its efforts to enrich lives through music, performance, and education. 

Rockport Music, located in Rockport, has provided free access to thousands of students, families, and others for more than 3 decades. Their performance space is often cited as one of the best in New England and the talented artists who take the stage there are exceptional. I encourage you to become more familiar with this outstanding non-profit organization - 

The Mass Cultural Council administers this and many other excellent programs. #PowerOfCulture. 



Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Statewide School Mask Requirement Will Be Lifted February 28

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley announced today the statewide mask requirement for K-12 schools will be lifted on February 28. At that time, DESE and the Department of Public Health recommend students and faculty wear masks in certain scenarios consistent with DESE’s COVID protocols. 

The decision was made in consultation with infectious disease physicians, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and other medical experts. Vaccinations are the best protection against COVID-19, and Massachusetts has among the highest vaccination rates of young people and is a national leader in overall vaccination. In Massachusetts, 52 percent of all individuals who are fully vaccinated have received a booster dose, compared to 42 percent of the national population.

Massachusetts also has nation-leading school testing programs, including a newly launched at-home testing program for students and educators. These testing options will remain in place.

“With Massachusetts a national leader in vaccinating kids, combined with our robust testing programs, it is time to lift the mask mandate in schools and give students and staff a sense of normalcy after dealing with enormous challenges over the past two years,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We have all the tools to keep schools safe as we move into dealing with the next phase of managing COVID.”

“Schools are safe environments, most children now have had access to vaccinations that greatly reduce the risk for severe disease for several months, and thousands of families across the Commonwealth have taken this opportunity to protect their children,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This is the right time to lift the mask mandate, and we will continue to encourage vaccination and host clinics at any school that wants to hold one to further protect their students from COVID.”

The Department of Early Education and Care will also lift the mask requirements currently in place for all licensed child care providers effective February 28, and allow programs to develop policies specific to the children they serve. The Department of Early Education and Care will release additional guidance for programs next week.

With the lifting of the statewide mask requirement, school districts no longer need to request a waiver from DESE to remove masks in school buildings where 80 percent of staff and students are vaccinated. Masking will be a community choice in schools across the Commonwealth, regardless of vaccination rates within a school; however, a school district could establish a local requirement. Many schools across the Commonwealth have already reached the vaccination benchmark and requested permission to remove masks. To date, DESE has received 68 requests from schools that submitted attestations that 80 percent of their students and staff are vaccinated. The Department has approved 42 requests and is in the process of reviewing another 21 requests before the statewide requirement ends.

“In a state with one of the highest vaccine acceptance rates in the country, and the state with the second highest vaccination rates among 5- to 11-year-olds, we must navigate the careful transition into opening up our society while simultaneously employing public health mitigation strategies. We are moving from mask requirement to mask optional, and we want school districts to move along with the state by making it optional, while still creating supportive environments for students and staff who choose to wear a mask,” said Education Secretary James Peyser.

Several other states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, have rescinded their school mask requirements in recent days.

The state’s nation-leading, robust school testing programs will remain in place. Last month, DESE and DPH launched updated school COVID-19 testing options, including providing participating teachers and staff with at-home rapid tests weekly, to optimize in-person learning. The two departments also released updated data on the pooled testing and Test and Stay programs, showing very few positive cases and low transmission rates.

With more than 2,000 public and private schools in the Commonwealth participating in COVID-19 testing, DESE and DPH have gathered robust data about the prevalence of COVID-19 in schools that clearly illustrates schools are safe environments for teaching and learning. Schools are one of the few types of settings in the state where individuals are tested on a regular basis.

Data collected over the past few months from the Test and Stay program is compelling around what it reveals about school safety. Students and staff individually identified as asymptomatic close contacts and repeatedly tested in school through Test and Stay test negative more than 90 percent of the time. As of January 9, 503,312 Test and Stay tests had been conducted; 496,440 of them were negative (almost 99 percent).

“During the past two years, the impact of COVID-19 on children has caused a strain on their mental health, emotional well-being and academic success. We are relieved to now be in a place where we can provide young people additional relief from COVID-19 restrictions so they can continue to return to normalcy in the classroom,” said Commissioner Riley.

Masking continues to be required on all school buses, per federal order.

In August, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave the commissioner the authority to require masks for public school staff and students (ages 5 and above) in all grades through at least October 1, 2021. The commissioner used his authority to extend the requirement three times.


UP NEXT: Governor Charlie Baker's COVID-10 Press Event

Governor Charlie Baker, Secretary of Education James Peyser, and Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffery Riley will make a COVID-19 announcement. I will have a live-stream of this State House event on my Facebook page at about 10:30.




Friday, February 4, 2022

Fight For Heart Health #WearRedDay

I went red today to help raise awareness of the need to promote women's heart health & cut the risk of disease & stroke. Heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death among women. 

 American Heart Association -- Massachusetts 



Wintry Weater A Threat For Drivers And Others

This wintry mix continues to pose a hazard, even in a lull of no snow or sleet coming down, because temperatures at the ground can change quickly. The US National Weather Service in Boston cautions all drivers to go slowly and expect slick and iced-over roads that can flash freeze.


Retirement Ceremony for Melissa Gasper Director of Middleton's Flint Public Library

This week I presented Melissa Gaspar with an official State Senate citation to recognize her retirement from many years of public service. In her time as Director of the Flint Public Library in #Middleton, she has achieved much – an expansion of library functions and programs, an increase in public utilization of resources, an increase in circulation, and a growing sense of the value of public libraries. I also appreciate her partnership for many years of supporting me in the annual Toy Drive. I know that you will join me in wishing her well in her much-deserved retirement.
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