Rally to Support the Bedford Police ~ September 11, 3 to 6 pm

A rally to express support for the Bedford Police Department has been scheduled for the Town Common on Friday, Sept 11, from 3 to 6 p.m. The event was announced on Facebook by longtime resident Geoff Chase, with some 250 invitees, and organizers encouraged them to spread the word.

“The main reason we chose 9-11 was we want people to remember who the heroes are,” said Chase, referring to the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, DC on Sept. 11, 2001. “Police and firefighters were the people who made the sacrifices.”

Chase explained that the event will end at 6 p.m. so as not to overlap with the weekly demonstration in support of Black lives, which has been taking place on the Common beginning at that time for the past several weeks.

Indeed, organizers of both events have spoken with each other at length, and plan to continue to talk to ensure that there is no overlap or tension.

Chase said there is no formal program planned. “There will be signs supporting our officers. We just want the town to realize that we have some fantastic law enforcement officers in the community. They really care about keeping this town safe and making it welcoming.” The three-hour duration will accommodate participants who can’t arrive as early as 3, he explained.

A 1993 Bedford High School graduate, Chase said he got to know several current members of the police force as a teenager. “These guys have been here since I was in high school. We would see them at different events and they got to know everybody.”

“Police in general are being portrayed very negatively, and that takes a toll on them here,” he observed, “They see the anger and hostility across the country. Some of the guys might be down, and we really need to show them support.”

The police support group notified the town manager’s office of the plans last week. It has not been the town’s practice to require “freedom of speech” events like this to obtain a permit or comply with state limits on the size of gatherings.

The ownership of the Common is shared between the town and the First Parish Church, and the Rev. John Gibbons, aware of the possible confluence of the two events, mediated a discussion between organizers of both.

Chase remarked that he can see no reason why people can’t support each cause. “There’s no issue of overlap. This is a really tight community and people should remember how important the police are.”

Mark Bailey, one of the organizers of the weekly demonstrations, said he appreciates the coordination between the organizers. “Although some folks have aggressively confronted us at times, the outpouring of support has greatly outweighed these disappointing incidents. I am hopeful that we can have a peaceful transition from one event to the other. We will continue to meet on the common every Friday to remind our community that Black lives do matter.”

TUESDAY is PRIMARY DAY ~ Bedford’s Polls Open at 7 am and Close at 8 pm

If you’ve been waiting to cast your Massachusetts Primary ballot at the polls on Election Day, tomorrow is fast approaching.  All four of Bedford’s precinct vote in the gymnasium at the John Glenn Middle School, 99 McMahon Road, and the polls are open from 7 am ’til 8 pm on Tuesday, September 1.

And, if you’ve been waiting until the last minute to make up your mind, here are the links you’ll need to make up your mind:

Kids Club Registration Opens at 9 am on Tuesday, September 1

With the plans for the Bedford Public Schools’ student cohorts now finalized and the plans for remote learning at Davis and Lane now official, Bedford Recreation Kids’ Club is pleased to announce the opening of the school year 2020-21 registration at 9 am on Tuesday, September 1 for all current members.

All Bedford children in grades K-5 are eligible for membership at Kids’ Club. To become a member, please click on this link or visit https://www.bedfordma.gov/kids- club/pages/member-application-and-forms and click on the Membership link.

Clarified Statement about Learning Pods

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Hello Bedford Public School Community,

I wanted to clarify my statement about the learning pods that I discussed in my Friday letter. We had been told that some home learning pods were soliciting Bedford Public School teachers to teach in their pods rather than the children enrolled in our schools.

Being upset about that, it may have seemed that I was generalizing about parents whose honest efforts to meet the needs of their own children were inappropriate. I apologize for using the term, “privilege pod,” which, while that term is being used in public conversations about this phenomenon it clearly conveys a judgmentalness that is divisive and was not my intention.

As the superintendent I care about the education of all of our children, including those whose parents find alternative means of supplementing their education and those who do not have the means to do so. But our purview is what we can provide in the district, not what some parents choose to do at home. We will strive to do our best to provide the most robust and effective hybrid and remote education possible.

Regretfully,

Philip Conrad
Superintendent

Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ August 28, 2020 ~ With the Superintendent’s 8/30 Clarification

Thank you for your continued patience as we work to reopen school.

I wanted to let you know that our Cooperative Teams have completed their work on our reopening plan and that plan will be made public today. The Cooperative Teams did an incredible job working out the myriad of interconnected details with the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff always front and center in their minds.

We believe that the plans provide for the academic engagement of students while supporting students’ social and emotional well- being, maintaining equity as a core belief, creating welcoming learning environments, and enabling students and teachers to build strong relationships.

The plan which is linked on the Bedford Public Schools School Reopening web page at Reopening Plans Information will be presented to the school committee at their next meeting on Monday, August 31, 2020.

Hybrid/Remote Final Decision

In order to finalize our student and teacher schedules we are asking that any parent who wants to change their child’s current model to please contact your school’s registrar by the end of the day on Monday, August 31, 2020. If your child will remain in their current model, there is no action required of you at this time.

Mail-in and Early Voting Underway

Almost 20 percent of the town’s 10,416 registered voters already have cast their ballots for Tuesday’s state primary election.
 
Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue said Wednesday morning that her office mailed about 3,500 ballots, as requested, and so far roughly half have been returned. In-person early voting has begun at Town Hall, and after a weekend turnout of 64, more than 100 voters showed up Monday and Tuesday.
 
“And this is just a warmup for November,” Rodrigue exclaimed.
 
If you’re looking for a partial score, forget it: Vote-counting can’t legally begin until election day, Tuesday, September 1, when they will be run through the tabulator at John Glenn Middle School, the polling location for all four Bedford precincts.

FEMA Grant will Benefit the Bedford Fire Department’s Safety Programs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced direct assistance grants to fire departments nationwide through the agency’s FY2020 Assistance to Firefighters Grant COVID-19 Supplemental program (AFG-S).

The AFG-S program includes a $21,348 grant to the Bedford Fire Department, one of the 37 departments named.

According to Fire Chief David Grunes, the AFG-S funding will provide advanced personal protective equipment (PPE) for Bedford’s firefighter-paramedics and EMTs who provide direct care to Covid-19 positive and potentially positive patients. 

A Look Back ~ Jean McCaffrey, Founder of St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School

While cleaning out my office I found a box marked “History photos” with information about Jean McCaffrey, the founder of St. Paul’s Weekday Nursery School, and her introduction to the Nursery School Cookbook, published in 1999.

Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ August 21, 2020

Thank you for your continued patience as we work to reopen school. I wanted to let you know that our Cooperative Teams are working on detailed plans for each school to reopen safely under the hybrid model we proposed and was accepted at the August 5, 2020, Bedford School Committee meeting. The Cooperative Teams are doing an incredible job working out all of the details with the health and safety of all students, faculty, and staff in mind, provides academic engagement for all, supports students’ social and emotional well-being, maintains equity as a core belief, creates welcoming learning environments, and enables students and teachers to build strong relationships.

Introducing Bedford Town Clerk Bridget Rodrigue

Global pandemic. Historic elections. Urgent new responsibilities. For Bedford’s new town clerk, its bring-it-on time.

Bridget Rodrigue, who grew up in Bedford, began serving as town clerk on July 21. Town Hall is open by appointment only, but that doesn’t deter the steady stream of town clerk clients.

“People come in all the time,” Rodrigue reported. “There has been an increase in marriage intentions. People request birth and death certificates, and business licenses. We just started this year’s dog licensing. The clerk’s office is really constantly busy.”

The Massachusetts primary election on September 1 and the presidential election on November 3, with early voting for each, are high priorities. Rodrigue is meeting the challenge head-on.

Breaking News: No Football or Competitive Cheer at BHS This Fall

There will be no football or competitive cheering at Bedford High School this fall.

But if the threat of the coronavirus mitigates, they could take place during a new “floating season” from February 22 to April 25, part of a realignment designed to safeguard participants and accommodate all activities as much as possible.

Bond Refinancing will Save Taxpayers More Than $1M over 10 Years

The Select Board this week approved a refinancing of outstanding bonded indebtedness that will save taxpayers more than $1 million over the next 10 years.

Proceeds will re-fund a portion of the town’s July 15, 2010 bond issue and generate total savings of $1,280,220 over the remaining life of the bonds.

Mike Rosenberg Joins The Bedford Citizen As Community Reporter

Mike Rosenberg, longtime Bedford resident and former local public servant, has joined the staff of The Bedford Citizen as its first Community Reporter.  “We are thrilled to bring Mike’s expertise as a journalist and his perspective as a person who has loved and supported Bedford for many years to The Citizen. He will be a great asset in helping us realize our mission to inform our readers and encourage citizen participation.  Mike has lived that mission in his many contributions to our town,” said Teri Morrow, President and Publisher of The Bedford Citizen.

Julie Turner, Managing Editor, added: “Mike’s perspective as a journalist is an important key to The Bedford Citizen’s growth.  His story instincts are superb and his ability to quickly develop articles for publication is crucial to delivering a quality product to our readers.”

Rosenberg’s career in journalism began in high school when he started covering sports for the local paper The Rutland Herald in his Vermont hometown.  He continued working for the paper through college on a part-time basis, covering a variety of “beats” from sports to the state legislature to gubernatorial races.  “It was a great opportunity for me.  I thought I wanted to be a sportswriter and while I did cover sports, my editor and mentor at The Herald convinced me that the way forward for a budding journalist was news, not sports.”

Rosenberg moved here in 1973 and began working as editor of The Tufts Criterion and also working as a stringer for The Bedford Minuteman.  At the time, Carol Amick, also a Bedford resident, was the editor but had decided to run for office as a state senator.  Amick won and Rosenberg succeeded her as editor – and was The Minuteman’s only employee for the next three years.  In 1978 he became editor of the news group’s flagship paper, The Lexington Minuteman, and was named Executive Editor of the entire group in 1979.  Three years later he moved to The Lowell Sun as Metro Editor where he worked for the next five years.

Environmental Preparedness in Bedford’s Schools

Now that Bedford students are expected to return to the town’s four schoolhouses next month, members of the Facilities Department are working to ensure that the environment is safe.

“There was some frustration is not knowing what to do, but everything is part of the job. You respond to emergencies,” said Facilities Director Taissir Alani. “The schools and the town have been totally supportive.” He pointed out that his specialists and custodians have been working all summer – the department maintains all municipal buildings.

In preparing the schools, he said, “We developed our own plan.” There were no specific guidelines, only general principles like, “Provide proper ventilation.”

Over the past two weeks, even before the decision to adopt the hybrid reopening model, “We have been organizing the classrooms to accommodate from 12 to 14 kids at a time,” Alani said. The rooms maintain at least six feet of distancing, consistent with the anticipated educational cohorts.

“The models we had were two classrooms in every building, so we could see what it looked like,” Alani continued. “We have removed extra furniture into storage trailers, and we are now in compliance with building and fire codes.” Some furniture was moved out of cafeterias as well.

Bedford Schools and Shawsheen Tech Post Academic Plans

The Bedford Public Schools are on target to begin a “hybrid” academic year, with a remote component, on Sept. 16.

However, the regional Shawsheen Valley Technical High School, which includes Bedford, has switched to full remote classroom learning to start the school year, responding to feedback from teachers.

Both districts reported developments in letters to school households on Friday.

6th District Democrats to Debate on Thursday, August 13

The Democratic candidates in Massachusetts’ Sixth Congressional District primary election on September 1 are incumbent Seth Moulton, and challengers Jamie Zahlaway Belsito and Angus McQuilken. They will debate twice before the election, once tomorrow evening and again on August 18.

Travel Writing in the Time of Pandemic

It’s that time of an election year when the weeds are pulling ahead, exceeding all expectations, and the plants are literally falling by the wayside. We don’t need pollsters to predict this will happen. Things have been heated on many fronts lately, but eerily quiet in town.

In a “normal” year we might actually leave the ‘hood sometime in the summer months and by the time we get home and catch up with our friends, the thrill of the window boxes is gone and we graciously let them do as they will, yanking out the petunias and geraniums and eventually replacing them with teensy pumpkins.

Being home for the summer without the ability to even drive much of anywhere means we get a ringside seat of the yearly competition between the plants we actually put in the ground and whatever Mother Nature offers.

Superintendent’s Update on Reopening the Bedford Schools ~ August 7, 2020

Thank you to everyone who attended and participated in the School Committee meeting on Wednesday night.  It was wonderful to hear from so many of you on the important decision of how to reopen our schools for the 2020-2021 school year.  I am happy to report that the committee voted to open the school year in the hybrid model.

The committee also voted to approve the amended 2020 – 2021 district calendar for the school year.  The calendar, based on the recommendation of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, that reduces the number of student days from 180 to 170. The first day for students would be no sooner than Wednesday, September 16, 2020.

Who Masked All Those Men (and Women, and Children)?

Whenever there is a crisis in our country, there seems to be a strong desire to offer to help.  Think back to Clara Barton in the Civil War, Buying Bonds in World War I, look to Rosie the Riveter in World War II, and all those Victory Gardens,  No matter the emergency, the American instinct is to find a way to pitch in, people just want to help. 

Eleazer Davis Farm for Sale ~ “It’s time for a life change”

The equestrian facilities and meadows at 253 Davis Road are for sale.

“It’s time for a life change,” said the owner, Lisa Samolyenko. “But I am doing everything I can to get someone interested to keep it a horse farm. I just can’t hold out forever.” She said she hopes “something unfolds by the end of the fall.”

The property, which Samolyenko operates as Eleazer Davis Farm, is on the town’s land acquisition list. However, the acquisition fund is short of the $2.9 million asking price for the land, with town meeting the most direct source of an allocation. The Select Board was scheduled to discuss land acquisition in general during an executive session late Monday afternoon.

BREAKING NEWS – School Committee Meeting Ended Early Wednesday morning

Tonight’s Bedford School Committee maxed out with 300 attendees.

If you don’t intend to speak, please go to Bedford TV to watch the live stream.

Tonight’s Bedford School Committee maxed out and was changed to a webinar

If you don’t intend to speak, please go to Bedford TV to watch the live stream.

Please open this article and click the link below to join the webinar: https://zoom.us/j/99308731908?pwd=Y1Flalp1WVRvaWMrK3Z4bFRvSEVnQT09 Passcode: 315052