Board of Health Takes Significant Action in Three Areas

At its meeting on December 21 the Board of Health took three steps directly related to what took place at its previous meeting on December 14:

* Reversed its course on a motion unanimously approved at its meeting on December 14 calling for its inclusion in the meetings and communications of the town’s Covid-19 Task Force.
* Reopened investigation into the question of conflict of interest on the part of Board member Dr. Ann Kiessling
* Discussed and passed a new communication policy to be effective immediately

Select Board Discusses Board of Health Vote on Town’s COVID-19 Response

Select Board Chair Ed Pierce, in a written statement at Monday’s board meeting, labeled last week’s vote by the Board of Health to be a participant in the day-to-day affairs of the town Covid-19 Task Force affairs as an “overreach of the authority….to involve itself in the staff management of the town and its schools.”

But after describing “the repercussions” from last week’s decision, Pierce announced that the Board of Health a few hours earlier Monday had rescinded its vote.

Pierce invited his Select Board colleagues to comment on the matter, engendering some observations about those repercussions, and communication in general.

Candidate Announcement, 2021: Margot Fleischman to Run for Reelection to Bedford’s Select Board

I am pleased to announce my candidacy for reelection to the Bedford Select Board. It has been my privilege to serve in this position since 2012, and I would be honored to be given another three-year term to continue to work on behalf of the people of Bedford.

I got involved with town government almost as soon as I moved to Bedford in 2003 with my husband Bill and our two (then little, now grown) children, Giuliana and Theo. My first volunteer job in town government was as a member of the Sidewalk Committee, which I joined in 2005 because I wanted to help make all our neighborhoods more walkable. For over 15 years, through my service on elected boards and volunteer committees, from the Planning Board to the Violence Prevention Coalition to the Community Preservation Committee, I have worked on policies and projects that have moved Bedford forward. 

I first ran for the Select Board because I wanted to make a real difference in the lives of Bedford residents. Now as then, we care about housing affordability, providing a great education for our kids, taking care of our seniors, supporting our local businesses, strengthening our cultural institutions, protecting our environment, having a fiscally healthy town, and, of course, dealing with traffic. I’m proud of the projects I have advocated for through the years, from preserving the affordability of over 90 apartments at Bedford Village so that our lower-income neighbors would not lose their homes, to constructing the Davis Road Boardwalk so that the residents of West Bedford could safely walk or let their kids bike to the center of town. 

But nothing I have done in the past nine years compares to what we are facing as a community at this moment. Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March, our major challenge has been to protect public health while we continue to work on these important issues and tackle new ones, like growing food insecurity, housing insecurity, mental health needs and social isolation. Town staff has worked ceaselessly to keep the doors of Town Hall open and the wheels of local government turning. It is a testament to this hard work that the Town of Bedford successfully held the first municipal election in the Commonwealth just four days after Governor Baker’s declaration of a public health state of emergency last March, stood up a weekly Emergency Food Bank, and launched a website to support Bedford restaurants and businesses all within a few short weeks.

This ongoing crisis has had so many facets and has touched our lives on every level. From how we work, how our kids do school, whether our favorite local restaurant will stay open, and when we might be able to hug our parents again, the pandemic has taken a toll on all of us, and I know it has been hard on everyone. And while some of us have had to adjust to dramatically reconfigured lives, others have lost livelihoods and, tragically, fifty members of our community have died.

Town of Bedford Announces Free Covid Testing from 8 am to 1 pm on Saturday, December 19

On Saturday, December 19, 2020, the Town of Bedford will be offering free COVID-19 PCR testing for residents. The testing clinic will take place at the rear of 12 Mudge Way, Town Center building (big yellow building), from 8 AM to 1 PM.  

This testing program, run by the Bedford Fire Department, Pro EMS, and the Broad Institute, will be free for all Bedford residents ages 4 and older. The testing program will run via a drive-through model. Residents are asked to remain in their vehicles when attending the testing clinic.

Bedford VA Resident Receives One of Nation’s First Covid-19 Vaccinations

For a small town in New England, Bedford has racked up a lot of firsts.

Like the first annual ceremony to celebrate the first shots of the American Revolution – and the first battle flag in that fight. Or the first municipality to sign on for the state Community Preservation Act. Many people say the Marshalls in the Bedford Marketplace was the first store in the chain.

Here’s another one: On Monday at 12:07 pm, the first patient in a US Veterans Affairs facility received the new Covid-19 vaccine.

Dan Brosgol ~ Candidate for Re-election to the Bedford School Committee

I am pleased to announce my intention to run for re-election this March to the Bedford School Committee for another three-year term.

I have had the privilege of serving on the School Committee since 2015, during which time we have tackled meaningful issues including building additions, enrollment growth, the ongoing development of in-house special education programs, the rollout of second-generation MCAS, and more. While that was interesting and challenging, since the arrival of Covid-19, the intensity and complexity of our work has increased significantly. Since March we have concluded a search for a new superintendent, made cuts to our budget when the Town’s financial position required them, pivoted to hybrid learning in August, and continuously reviewed our model since we opened school in September. We have tackled these challenges head-on and in partnership with our exceptional district leadership to ensure that we continue to do our best in the face of a raging pandemic.

Board of Health Continues to Respond to Pandemic

The Board of Health met on November 30 to review a proposed policy statement on Covid-19 testing that had been postponed from the previous meeting. They also discussed board policies,  deep cleaning, and warming centers in the case of a winter power outage.

Cong. Seth Moulton Speaks Out on June, 2020 Death at Bedford VAMC

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton Friday issued a blistering criticism of the police force at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Bedford, following the release of the Middlesex County district attorney’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding the June death of a resident found in a stairwell on the hospital grounds.

“The Bedford VA Police Department failed to locate a missing veteran in the care of Caritas on the VA’s campus, steps from his bed, for five weeks,” the Salem Democrat, whose district includes Bedford, said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable and emblematic of the lack of accountability at the Bedford VA Police Department, which lost my trust long ago.”

Earlier in the day, DA Marian Ryan said Timothy White’s death was “a tragic situation made even more difficult by the circumstances surrounding the location of his body and the lack of information that was provided to his family.”

Massachusetts Population-Based Covid Metrics ~ December 3, 2020

Mass.Gov updates the Commonwealth’s community-level coronavirus data every Thursday and displays it in a 90+-page PDF report. Click https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-december-3-2020/download for the December 1 report, published on December 3.

On the report for December 3, 2020, Bedford appears as a “YELLOW” community.

January Town Caucus May be Eliminated ~ Annual Town Meeting Date Set for May 15

Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed legislation that would allow Bedford to skip this year’s town caucus because of the pandemic.

The bill, which was filed Wednesday, authorizes the Select Board to make the determination.

The caucus is the annual nominating meeting for offices to be filled at the March town election. Traditionally it has been held on the second Tuesday of January. According to the town bylaws, it must take place “at least seven days before the date that nomination papers must be submitted for signature certification.”

Reminder: Bedford’s Current Covid-19 Statistics Posted at 8 pm, Monday through Friday

There’s a new dashboard in town: Thanks to the efforts of Health and Human Services Director Heidi Porter, Fire Chief David Grunes, and Town Manager Sarah Stanton, a comprehensive look at Bedford’s coronavirus statistics is available on the Town website (and through a link at www.thebedfordcitizen.org as well!)

FinCom Approves Across the Board FY22 Spending Guideline of 3.5% ~ Reserve Funds to Offset Increases

The Finance Committee, culminating a summit meeting of municipal and school leaders, Thursday approved not only a spending guideline for fiscal year 2022 but also plans for allocations from reserves that will offset the increased expenditures.

The 3.5 percent guideline for the period beginning July 1, 2021, was endorsed by a vote of 7-0-1. It translates to about $2.1 million in additional expenses. The committee agreed to use the stabilization fund and free cash to cover that.

Finance Director Victor Garofalo pointed out that there will still be a modest tax increase, because line items under the umbrella of fixed costs – such as debt principal and interest, insurance, water – are projected to grow by 3.2 percent.

Although unfolding with a backdrop of the continuing pandemic and resulting rampant uncertainty, Thursday’s meeting was at times almost celebratory in its affirmation of the consensus on the future financial path. There was frequent praise for the dedication and performance of town employees during the crisis.

Bedford’s Certified Election Results

Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue certified the results of Bedford’s November 3 election on November 18, 2020, and forwarded them to the Elections Division under William F. Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Click this link to view, print, or download a full-sized, scalable PDF of the certified 2020 vote totals.

Massachusetts Population-Based Covid Metrics ~ November 18, 2020 ~ Week 3

Mass.Gov updates the Commonwealth’s community-level coronavirus data every Thursday and displays it in a 97-page PDF report. Click https://www.mass.gov/doc/weekly-covid-19-public-health-report-november-19-2020/download for the November 19 report.

On the report’s November 18 map, Bedford appears as a “GREEN” community.

Total Case Count: 330

Two Week case Count: 15
Average Daily Incidence Rate Per 100,000: 7.1
Relative Change In Case Count: Higher

Total Tests: 15,668
Total Tests Last 14 Days: 11384
Positive Tests Last 14 Days: 16
Percent Positivity: 1.16%
Change In Percent Positivity: Higher

The Commonwealth now reports state-wide Covid statistics in a daily dashboard found at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting#covid-19-daily-dashboard-.

The Elector Among Us: Bedford’s Tom Larkin to Cast an Official Vote for the President of the United States

Bedford’s Tom Larkin is among the 538 electors who will officially elect the next President of the United States.

Larkin was chosen by the Massachusetts Democratic Party to represent the Commonwealth at the Electoral College on December 14. Massachusetts is a “winner take all state” where all electors are chosen by the prevailing party. When he confirmed his selection, Larkin said, “I am honored to have been selected by my colleagues on the Democratic State Committee to the Electoral College.”

Planning Board Moves Toward Approving South Road Assisted Living Facility

The Planning Board this week moved a little closer to approving a proposed 92-unit assisted living facility on South Road at the corner of Evergreen Avenue.

Board Chair Jeffrey Cohen advised LCB Senior Living and its attorney, Pamela Brown, to continue drafting a proposed section of the zoning bylaw that would include assisted living definitions. He noted that more than half of the board is in support of that approach.

Select Board Grants Depot Lease to For the Boyz Barber Shop

A town museum? A relocation of Bedford TV? A new home to a barbershop? The Select Board spent most of its November 9 meeting to discuss the lease terms and renewals at the historic depot building, 80 Loomis St.

The board unanimously approved a two-year lease for a new tenant, For-The-Boyz Barber Shop, and a two-year renewal for Bedford Babe Ruth Baseball-Softball, Inc., both expiring on Dec. 31, 2022.