What Does a Town Assessor Do?

The elected Board of Assessors is composed of three townspeople, each elected for a three-year term. Elected Assessors must pass a training course provided by the state Department of Revenue which teaches, among other things, the state-approved methods for assessing the value of all real and personal property in the Town. From this, you may correctly infer that Assessors are not allowed to use whatever methods they want in assessing property. They are required, both under the order of the State Supreme Judicial Court and Massachusetts General Law, to follow the procedures approved by the Department of Revenue.
 
Assessors perform two separate and distinct functions.

Letter to the Editor: Supporting Maureen Richichi for Board of Health

I was very pleased to read that my friend, Maureen Richichi, announced her candidacy to be a member of the Bedford Board of Health recently in the Bedford Citizen.

Over the last 30 years or so, our families have shared many dinners, holidays, camping trips, bike outings, and one special book club.  But the first time I met Maureen was when she (and Ronnie Gould) spearheaded the community building of a new playground, initially the Tot Lot and now the Center Playground. Many families were involved in all stages of construction. So many have fond memories of how it truly does take a village to build something we can all be proud of.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases: 2 at BHS ~ January 26, 2021

January 26, 2021

* Two (2) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School  (BHS Case #40 & Case #41) close contacts have been identified with one of the cases.
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS community.
* These cases do not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

Become a Candidate for Regional School Committee and Assure a Full Range of Opportunities for Bedford Students

When we moved to Bedford in 1975, I did not understand what Regional School Committee was.  As my children advanced through the Bedford schools, I learned that it was Bedford’s version of the “voke ed” that I grew up with.  But at that time, it meant automotive shop, for boys only.  However, things have changed dramatically.

I have always had an interest in vocational education with the belief that every student should find a school community that fits his/her needs and interests and also that some students are not on track for college. Neither of my children expressed any desire to leave Bedford’s schools and my exposure ended then.  However, when a position became vacant on the Regional School Committee, I made inquiries and learned a lot fast.

Introducing The Citizen’s Editorial Intern Jared Graf

The Bedford Citizen’s new editorial intern traces his interest in news writing to a high school English teacher.

Jared Graf is a senior at Framingham State University, where his major is English with a concentration in journalism. He will be handling a broad range of assignments for The Citizen until mid-June.

Health Department Says Vaccine Clinics Coming Soon

Covid-19 vaccinations will soon be available to residents eligible under the second phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, according to the Bedford Health and Human Services Department.

This means eligible residents could receive vaccinations as early as February, with the highest priority going to high-risk individuals and those at least age 75.

According to the department’s announcement, town-sponsored vaccination clinics are in their final stages of planning and are expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

“We are prepared to offer clinics two days a week and have the minimum capacity for distribution of 600 doses per week,” said Heidi Porter, Director of Health and Human Services. She said the number of vaccinations available is “100 percent dependent on vaccine availability from the state” and that the town has no direct connection to vaccine manufacturers.

Become a Candidate for Planning Board and Help to Define Bedford’s Built Environment

If you have ideas or concerns about key issues such as multi-unit housing, accessory dwelling units, commercial, industrial, and residential development, zoning bylaws, even changes to scenic roads-to mention only a few-please consider standing for election to the Planning Board, one of Bedford’s most influential elected bodies.

Current Planning Board member Jeff Cohen is not running again and there are, at this moment, no candidates who have come forward to request nomination papers. Whether you are a long-time resident or a relative newcomer to town, this may be the moment to step up and help shape the future look of Bedford. This is a three-year term. You will join elected members Jacinda Barbehenn, Steven Hagan, Shawn Hanegan, and Amy Lloyd. Professional staff includes Tony Fields, Director, Catherine Perry, Assistant Director, and Admin Cathy Silvestrone who provide support and guidance.

Tree Cutting, Accessory Dwelling Units Top Planning Board Hearings

The Planning Board will host three virtual public hearings Tuesday evening, two of them on proposed zoning bylaw amendments and the other a continuation of an earlier session on a request for the removal of trees.

Access to all of the hearings is through this link: https://zoom.us/j/94574493219?pwd=T0lIbnhPbmVUWVZhVTRWT2RRa0F3UT09. The password is 714579.

Both zoning amendments are expected to be included on the May 15 annual town meeting warrant. And for one of them, the context will be dramatically changed.

Trivia in the Time of Pandemic: Dollars for Scholars Trivia Night Could Break a Record on Feb. 6

Who would have thought that this year of pandemic could be a record-breaker for Bedford Dollars for Scholars Trivia Night?

There are 50 tickets remaining for the first virtual event, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 6, at 7:30 p.m. The organization already has sold 150, and 200 participants would be a record for the seven-year-old fundraiser. Ticket sales end when they are sold out or on Feb. 2

Assisted Living Overlay District Proposed

The Planning Board on Jan. 12 reviewed and revised the proposed zoning bylaw amendment for assisted living facilities, in response to a proposal by LCB Senior Living on South Road near Evergreen Avenue.

The suggestions from this meeting will be used to create a new draft that will be presented and discussed in a public hearing at the board’s next meeting on Jan. 26.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Friday, January 22, 2021

The January 22 message from Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad includes an appreciation for Bedford Embraces Diversity’s MLK Day breakfast, notice of the schools’ FY22 budget hearing on Feb. 2; an update on flu shots and DESE guidance, a link to the Town’s Covid dashboard; and other information.

Planning Board ~ Scenic Roads Public Hearing, Part I

Jan. 12, 2021—The Planning Board began a public hearing on the proposed removal by Eversource of 31 trees along or near Page Road.

The public hearing was continued to Jan. 26 to allow the public to do more research into the matter. Jacqueline Edwards, long-time chair of the town Arbor Resources Committee (BARC), said at the hearing that she didn’t think that was enough time.

Select Board Votes to Place Indigenous People’s Day on the 2021 Town Meeting Warrant

Jan.  19, 2021—The Select Board Tuesday placed an article to locally change the holiday on the second Monday in October from “Columbus Day” to “Indigenous People’s Day” on the 2021 town meeting warrant.

The unanimous decision followed a presentation by residents Claudia Fox Tree and Heather Leavell. Fox Tree is a member of the Arawak Nation, while Leavell is a co-founder of Italian Americans for Indigenous Peoples Day.

Schools to Survey Families Regarding Full, In-Person Classes for the Current Academic Year

Bedford school principals soon will survey families to determine how many would send their children back to full in-person classes this academic year if there was that opportunity.

Superintendent of Schools Philip Conrad told the School Committee on Jan. 12 that the results will help determine if “we can fill the capacity we have.” He emphasized that safety will not be compromised, and “we really want to partner with the parents and the teachers.”

Have You Checked Your Mailbox?

By today—Jan. 22—an important legal document should have landed in your mailbox and you have 10 days to complete it and return it to the Town Clerk.

Bedford’s Annual Street Listing/Census 2021 is a brief, four-question form but it carries a lot of weight. It is a state requirement that you complete the form; compliance provides proof of residence, protection of voting rights, veteran’s bonus, housing for the elderly, and related benefits.

And dog-owners, don’t forget that if you have acquired a Hunter or a Peaches or a Dodge in the past year, the Town also needs to know that bit of information.

School Nursing in the Time of Pandemic ~ Tracy Fernald, Nurse Leader for the Bedford Schools

Tracy Fernald misses the kids. And that’s saying something—she is the nurse at John Glenn  Middle School, where hybrid learning has continued since September, tiptoeing around the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It couldn’t be more different than it was prior,” Fernald explained. “We don’t have the typical revolving door of students coming in and out of the nurse’s office. Now there are a lot of phone calls, emails, case management meetings. They are such a big part of our day.”

Rising COVID-19 Case Counts in Bedford

Jan. 22, 2021—As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the nation as a whole are in the midst of a surge in COVID- 19 cases, the Bedford Health Department reminds Bedford residents that the surge is happening here in town too.

Travel over Thanksgiving and the December holidays, socializing at gatherings, and mixing of households during celebrations are all situations believed to have contributed to the increase in positive cases. Additionally, based on contact tracing data, we know many of our cases are attributable to household contact – the virus is spread within the home when one infected (likely asymptomatic) family member has close contact with uninfected household members during their infectious period.

Because the virus is predominantly spread via droplet and aerosol transmission, mask-wearing is an important protective measure in preventing virus transmission. We bring this to your attention not to shame anyone or point fingers, but human nature is indeed a contributing factor to the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

With vaccine distribution underway in the pursuit of herd immunity, now is not the time to let down our guard. All safety protocols necessary to slow the spread have to continue to be followed: wear a mask, maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet, wash your hands frequently, sanitize common touch surfaces regularly, increase ventilation in indoor spaces, take advantage of testing opportunities, limit gatherings and encounters with people outside your immediate household and get vaccinated as soon as you can!

As of the writing of this article, the MA Department of Public Health (DPH) has reported one hundred sixty-six (166) Confirmed and Probable COVID-19 cases in Bedford since January 1st, which is about double the number of new cases from the previous 20 day time period. Thirty-five (35) cases have been reported within the Bedford Public School (BPS) Community since January 1s, a number almost equal to all the positive cases realized from the beginning of school through December 31, 2020. Only one of the BPS cases to date was suspected to result from in-school transmission.

With our current Incidence Rate of over 10/100,000 but a positivity rate under 5%, Bedford remains in the yellow “lower risk” category. If Bedford’s positivity rate reaches 5%, that will elevate us to the red or “higher risk” category. We were assigned that category for one week several months ago before the risk metrics were changed by the MA DPH. The red category releases additional outreach resources to the town from the state as well as triggers an elevated surveillance alert to the Bedford Public Schools (BPS), in that it would be one of many factors reviewed in the event schools had to close due to high case counts or evidence of widespread in-school transmission

FAQ COVID-19 Vaccine for Residents

With the release of vaccine for COVID-19 facing workers over the past few weeks, many are wondering when they may be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Bedford Health Department has prepared the following FAQ’s to address some of our residents’ questions.

Will the Town of Bedford have COVID-19 vaccination clinics?

Yes. Vaccination clinic planning is currently in its final stages, and clinics are expected to begin in the coming weeks. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MA DPH) will be releasing the vaccine to the Health Department for distribution to the community. The Health Department currently does not have vaccine.

Who can get the vaccine?

The state of Massachusetts through the MA DPH has coordinated a timeline for vaccine eligibility. Right now, the vaccine is only available to those listed in Phase One of the vaccine distribution plan from the Department of Public Health. To view currently eligible groups for vaccination, please navigate to: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/when-can-i-get-the-covid-19-vaccine

When can I get my vaccine?

The Health Department is required to follow Massachusetts state guidance for vaccine distribution and will offer the vaccine at our town sponsored clinics when eligible to begin Phase Two. Currently, Phase Two is expected to begin in February for the first priority group of high-risk individuals with 2+ comorbidities (high risk for COVID-19 complications), individuals 75+, etc. Please see the vaccine distribution timeline plan displayed by clicking the link above.

Be Ready for Winter ~ Tips from Bedford’s Community Emergency Response Team

The Bedford CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) has coordinated with Town Public Safety officials in preparing some tips for you to ensure that you ARE ready. The Town of Bedford has many resources to help residents deal with emergencies of various types. In most cases, however, YOU, the resident, are the first line of defense against “unplanned events”. One of the best things you can do is EXPECT the UNEXPECTED and prepare for situations that may arise. Planning ahead and having some essential supplies on hand can help you to “weather the storm”, whatever form it may take.

School Committee Mulls “Recovery” Budget for In-Classroom Learning

School Committee members explored in detail at their meeting on Jan. 12 the educational implications of returning to school in the fall with smaller class sizes, particularly at Davis and Lane Schools.

One of the fiscal 2022 budget options the committee is considering incorporates additional personnel to allow for expanding the number of classrooms.

The so-called “recovery” budget option assumes that almost all students will be back in school, and the primary reason for the additional classrooms is to sustain physical distancing. The assumption is that the pandemic, while perhaps receding, will still be a consideration.

Superintendent’s Update ~ New Positive Covid Cases: 1 at BHS and 1 at Davis School ~ January 21, 2021

January 21, 2021

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Bedford High School (BHS case #39), no close contacts.
* There are currently three (3) active COVID-19 positive cases in the BHS community.
* This case does not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

Last night I was informed that there has been one (1) new case of COVID-19 reported within the Bedford High School (BHS) Community.   This case is in isolation at home.  BHS case #39 was not present in school during their infectious period and investigations revealed that no close contacts were identified within the school community.

January 21, 2021,  later in the day

* One (1) new COVID-19 positive case at Davis School (DS case #16), no close contacts. 
* There are currently two (2) active COVID-19 positive cases in the DS community.
* This case does not appear to be connected or related to previous cases identified in school.

Today I was informed that there has been one (1) new case of COVID-19 reported within the Davis School (DS) Community. This case is in isolation at home. DS case #16 was present in school during their infectious period and investigations revealed that no close contacts were identified within the school community.