Spotlight on Bedford’s Conservation Commission

Do you want to have a say in how Bedford oversees the protection of wetlands, waterbodies, waterways, floodplains, and riverfront areas, and the acquisition and maintenance of open space land? Did you know that Bedford’s Conservation Commission (ConCom) currently has ONE opening for members? In this and future spotlights, the Volunteer Coordinating Committee will let Bedford residents know a little more about some town committees that could use your help.

Partial Solar Eclipse TOMORROW at 5:08 AM

The sun is going to act weird early TOMORROW MORNING June 10. For the entire Northeast, the sun will rise not as a round ball but as an eerie, misshapen, dazzling crescent partly blocked by the moon. For Bedford, the sun will rise at 5:08 a.m. and will remain partially eclipsed for more than an hour after that.

Sgt. Jeff Wardwell, a 32-Year Advocate for Bedford Students, plans to Retire on June 18

There are times when a casual comment changes thousands of lives.

Bedford Police Sgt. Jeffrey Wardwell, who will retire on June 18 after more than 32 years with the department, tells the story. He was working construction a few years out of high school, “laying a sewer pipe in a Cambridge trench.”

A police sergeant on the detail struck up a conversation. “What are you going to do with your life?” Wardwell said he probably would go out when the weekend arrived. The cop explained that he meant longer term, and eventually suggested that a good path for the future could be the civil service examination.

The rest is Bedford history.

Wardwell worked with and advocated for young people throughout most of his decades with the Bedford Police Department. He has been the primary police contact for thousands of students as well as parents, teachers, and administrators.

Early in his career, he succeeded Bob McGrath as juvenile officer, managing the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program at Lt. Job Lane School. Wardwell said DARE “kind of fizzled out,” but a new door opened: school resource officer.

“I was fortunate to be the high school principal when we introduced the (resource officer) program, and I cannot imagine a better partner than we had in Officer Wardwell,” said Jon Sills, former superintendent of schools. “Compassionate, committed and communicative, Jeff built relationships with students that enriched their lives and created an indispensable layer of safety for our school community.”

A 1981 graduate of Lexington High School, “I was kind of anti-police when I

Fire Department Recognized for Service to the Bedford VA Medical Center During the Pandemic

A Certificate of Appreciation signed by Richard A. Stone, MD, the Executive in Charge of the Veterans Health Administration was presented to Bedford Fire Chief David Grunes by Bedford Medical Center Director Joan Clifford, DNP, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC in late May.

The certificate, one of four conferred in Massachusetts, recognized the Bedford Fire Department for its contributions to the Veterans Health Administration during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lt. Jim Graham will Retire on June 4, after more than 30 Years of Service in the Bedford Police Department

Bedford police Lt. Jim Graham looks at recent Massachusetts police reform legislation and wonders, “What took you so long?”

“We’ve been doing this in Bedford for 20 years,” he declared in an interview this week. “Welcome to our world.”

Graham, 62, who retires from the force on Friday after more than 30 years, says his philosophy, and that of the department, is simple: “Help people make things better.” He added that the department and the citizens it serves engage in mutual respect. “I’ve really enjoyed my career here.”

Chief Robert Bongiorno said Graham will be difficult to replace. “He has been instrumental in all we have been able to accomplish here. He has been a friend, a leader, and a true professional,” the chief said.

Graham has been “primarily responsible for policies and procedures that enabled us to attain our accreditation” with the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, and the certification that preceded accreditation, Bongiorno continued.

“We would not have attained accreditation without him. He is known as an expert in policies and procedures throughout the state. When departments are seeking accreditation, they always seek out the guidance and expertise of Lt. Graham.”

The lieutenant offered an example of how state law is catching up with Bedford’s policy in the use of force. Reform legislation signed by the governor late last year identifies the general circumstances under which police officers can use physical force. In Bedford, Graham said, “We review the use of force policy annually. And almost every time, officers use de-escalation and, if needed, a level of force that’s always less than allowed.”

‘First Course’ ~ A Debut Novel by Bedford Author Jenn Bouchard

“First Course,” Jenn Bouchard’s debut novel, is about food – and a lot more.

Bouchard, a Bedford resident for almost eight years, teaches social studies at Needham High School.

She is looking forward to the book’s release on June 21 with a virtual launch through a Belmont Books webinar. The novel will be available in paper and electronic format from the store’s website and other online and over-the-counter sources.

Hiring a Sustainability Director is a Win for Bedford

Bedford Mothers Out Front and Bedford’s Energy and Sustainability Committee will be hosting a public forum on Wednesday, June 9, from 7:00 – 8:30 pm on Zoom so that the community can learn about hiring a Sustainability Director.

Guest panelists who serve their towns in that role who will be speaking include Ken Pruitt from Arlington, Kate Hanley from Concord, and Jillian Wilson-Martin from Natick.

Want to learn more?

A Memorial Day Like No Other: Bedford Honors Veterans both In-Person and on TV

There is no such thing as dueling Memorial Day observances.

For the first time Monday, Bedford marked the holiday with two observances, which complemented each other. The official program was recorded and presented three times during the day on Bedford TV.

After state pandemic restrictions were lifted several days ago, commanders of the local veterans organizations organized an “unofficial” observance that replicated much of what normally takes place. A few people on the televised ceremony also participated in or attended the actual.

At Veterans Memorial Park, live ceremonies culminated with the raising of the U.S. flag to full staff at noon by Scouts of Troop 194. About 35 people gathered, among them members of the town Patriotic Holiday Committee, Scouts, and several veterans and family members who attend annually.

Speakers were the two local commanders of veterans’ organizations. The Rev. Al Chisholm, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1628, cited the example of “the unity among those comrades who came together from every walk of life for a common purpose.”

Jon O’Connor, American Legion Post 221, addressed the apparent contradiction of the expression “Happy Memorial Day.” How would deceased veterans have felt about celebrating the day with barbecues and other activities, he wondered.

The commander said he thought they would approve, and “therein lies the happy part” of the greeting. He added, “The challenge is: can we earn that happiness?”

O’Connor also made special mention of Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Alan J. Rooney, a 2011 Bedford High School graduate who died in November. Rooney, a former member of Troop 194, also was active in St. Michael’s Church CCD, O’Connor said. He joined the Marine Corps out of high school.

Honoring Four American Heroes who Graduated from Bedford High School

I should like to honor John Daniel Hart, Travis Desiato, Terry Michael Reed, and Robson Ward Wills with my American Primitive portraits because they were sensitive, unselfish, and courageous warriors who fought and died for democracy in the town where I live, Bedford, Massachusetts.

They add another dimension of pride and dignity to the Bedford Flag, the oldest flag in the nation.

Bedford’s Virtual Memorial Day Observance

Thanks to Paul Purchia, chair of Bedford’s Patriotic Holiday Committee; John Cooper who presented an invocation on behalf of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars; Margot Fleischman, Chair of the Bedford Select Board; State Representative Ken Gordon; State Senator Mike Barrett; Joe Piantedosi who read the names of Veterans who have died in the past year; and Bedford TV for preparing and airing this year’s tribute to America’s fallen heroes.

The 56th Annual CSF of Bedford Dollars for Scholars Awards

Dozens of Bedford High School seniors were recognized last week with financial awards for further education, presented by CSF of Bedford Dollars for Scholars.

The 56th annual scholarship awards presentation — a virtual event for the second consecutive year — culminated months of dedicated efforts by volunteers. They not only raised thousands of dollars but also selected the recipients from the pool of applicants. All BHS seniors, or seniors who reside in Bedford and attend another school, including home school, are eligible for consideration.

Almost every aspect of community life is represented in the array of sponsored awards, from the business and professional communities to individual families, service and religious organizations, and the Massachusetts Port Authority. Many of the awards are permanently endowed as honor or memorials.

CSF of Bedford has awarded close to $3 million to more than 3,300 students since its establishment in 1965.

HFAC Short Takes for May, 2021

The Hanscom Field Advisory Commission (HFAC) met on May 18 to hear and discuss updates from Massport on air traffic, air noise, airfield projects, as well as concerns brought to it by the public.  Massport representatives were questioned about the Taxiway November “rehabilitation” construction project due to begin in late summer or early fall, and likely to use Bedford streets for the truck haul route.

Chair Christopher Eliot of Lincoln announced that the FAA has agreed to begin attending HFAC meetings several times a year to continue dialog with the commission and members of the public about Hanscom Field air noise and other aviation issues. FAA officials also offered to arrange a special public outreach meeting for surrounding communities to share information about aviation matters. (Click this link for coverage of the meeting)

Bedford’s Chip-in Farm ~ A Priceless Community Asset

The year was 1944. Scores of Bedford boys were fighting in Europe and the Pacific. The sleepy town, with fewer than 5,000 residents, two police officers, and no sewers welcomed troops stationed at a brand new airfield built on farmland at its southern extremity. And down the street, a family chipped in to purchase a few acres of its own.

What began as a family-run egg farm in 1944 has slowly grown to new heights over the course of almost eight decades and three generations of ownership.

Chip-in Farm is situated on about six acres of land on Hartwell Road purchased by the grandparents of the current owners, Neil and Paul Couvee. “It started out as an egg delivery farm,” said Sandy Couvee, Neil’s wife and a farmer at Chip-in. “So, it’s always been a poultry farm.”

Soon after, the farm began selling eggs on-site, using the honor system.

“It’s very much a community farm,” Couvee said. “I always consider the community an extension of my family.”

Stand Up for Black Lives Bedford Marks the One-Year Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death

On Tuesday a half dozen members of the group Stand Up for Black Lives Bedford gathered along The Great Road in front of Bedford Common to commemorate the one year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, to say his name, renew our dedication, and to stand as we’re able in defiance of the denial that Ibram X. Kendi says is “the heartbeat of America.”

Time to Celebrate: Bedford Day set for Saturday, September 18!

Planning is underway for the celebration of the 292nd anniversary of the town’s founding.

Bedford Day is officially scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 18.

Town Manager Sarah Stanton announced the resumption of the event, as part of her report on the relaxation and evaporation of Covid-19 protocols and policies.

“I’m thrilled,” Recreation Director Amy Hamilton, whose department organizes and manages the parade and street fair, said Tuesday. “I am going to post applications on our website and email the forms to 2019 participants. I already opened the activities online so that people may enroll as soon as they receive the forms.”

Convoy of Champions Ambulance Parade Arrives in Bedford

The Massachusetts Ambulance Association (MAA) celebrated the exceptional dedication of the Commonwealth’s emergency medical services (EMS) professionals during the 46th Annual National EMS Week. On May 18, the MAA hosted the second annual Convoy of Champions ambulance parade as well as the first-ever Massachusetts Stars of Life awards ceremony to recognize specific field providers for their personal contributions to their communities.

Recovering Slowly from Covid

Jennifer Puhle doesn’t have Covid-19 anymore. That’s the good news.

The bad news? “I am not myself — and I can’t stand it.”