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 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“the repercussions” from last week’s decision, Pierce announced that the Board of Health a few hours earlier Monday had rescinded its vote.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.
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.
The town of Bedford Finance Director has been named finance director/town accountant for the town of Dracut.
Victor Garofalo, who also is treasurer and collector, informed Town Manager Sarah Stanton last week of his resignation, effective Jan. 8. Garofalo has been on the Finance Department staff since 2003; he succeeded Peter Naum as director in 2011.
“I’m thankful for his service to the community,” Stanton said. “I am sad to see him leave and wish him the very best in his new opportunity.”
Catherine Cordes confirmed this week that she plans to serve as moderator for the 2021 annual town meeting.
Cordes, whose three-year term expires in 2022, had been planning to resign and move with her husband Ronald to Pennsylvania to be closer to their grandchildren. Those plans are still on the horizon, but now the horizon has moved back beyond the town meeting, scheduled for May 15.
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.
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.
The proposed $7.6 million bond for purchasing the land and building at the corner of The Great Road and Webber Avenue as the site for a new fire station will not appear on the 2021 town meeting warrant.
Town Manager Sarah Stanton told the Select Board Monday that the article, which was indefinitely postponed in the stripped-down Town Meeting warrant in July 2020, will remain “indefinitely postponed.”
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.
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.
BySate Senator Mike Barrett and State Representative Ken Gordon |
The Mass. Senate and House have given final approval to the state’s budget for the current fiscal year.
With help from local State Representative Ken Gordon, Bedford’s State Senator Mike Barrett secured funding to mitigate the costs the town incurs for educating children of families living on nearby military bases. More than one-hundred Hanscom Air Force Base students attend high school at local expense.
The town has opened its doors to these children for more than fifty years through an agreement with the Department of Defense. This funding will be split between Bedford–for the students who live at Hanscom Air Force Base–and Bourne–for the students who live at Joint Base Cape Cod. The federal government, through its Impact Aid program, supports the education of these children; but while the federal program was originally intended to pay half, it now only pays about 10%.
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.”
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.
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.”
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!)
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.
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.
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 Bedford Public Schools, in collaboration with the Bedford Board of Health, are offering Bedford school students the opportunity to receive a flu vaccine at designated drive-thru flu vaccine offerings on Friday, November 20 from 11 am until noon, and on Monday, November 23, from 1 until 2 pm.
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.”
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.
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.