Covid-19 Testing Tuesdays at First Parish on Bedford Common

The small testing tent can be seen along Elm Street, on First Parish’s part of Bedford Common. Tuesday’s testing will take place in the historic meeting house’s narthex.

For the foreseeable future, there will be COVID-19 testing at First Parish on the Bedford Town Common, 75 The Great Road, every Tuesday (with the exception of October 13). ALL are welcome regardless of town of residence, affiliation, symptomology, or ability to pay.

Register on-line at https://www.bedfordresearch.org/product/first-parish and you’ll be given a time-slot and number.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I was informed by the Bedford Board of Health that they received a laboratory testing report indicating that a school community member (i.e., student or staff) at John Glenn Middle School has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The Bedford Board of Health immediately began case investigations. The first step in a school case investigation is to determine whether or not the positive case attended school during the infectious period. According to the MA Department of Public Health (MDPH) guidelines, the infectious period for COVID-19 is two days prior to becoming symptomatic or, if asymptomatic, two days prior to testing. The Board of Health determined that the positive school community member at JGMS was not present at school during their infectious period, therefore, no close contacts were identified among the school community in this situation.

Our first responsibility is to keep our school community safe. We have been planning for this scenario during our reopening planning process and have a comprehensive plan in place to sanitize the school each school day, inform families whose students were at risk of exposure or in close contact, and support the affected family as they navigate this stressful experience.

Our school community has been closely adhering to safety protocols including mask-wearing, hand washing, and physical distancing. We are grateful to our families for their continued efforts to keep students home at the first sign of symptoms. These measures, taken in combination, greatly reduce the risk of additional transmission. Though we cannot provide specific information about our school community member who tested positive, your child was not a close contact (defined as being within 6 feet of the person for at least 15 minutes) of the affected school member. Please continue to monitor your child for symptoms, and keep your child home if he/she/they show any symptoms or is not feeling well.

We will continue to be vigilant in adhering to all of the protocols that have been put in place in an effort to continue in-person learning via our current hybrid model. We are also providing remote learning for all students required to quarantine at home to continue to provide instruction, structure, and an emotional connection to the classroom during a time that we know will be challenging for those children and families involved.

Parents should be aware of the signs and symptoms of Covid-19.

DPW Announces Compost Center’s Autumn Schedule

Editor’s Note: A robocall to the town on Tuesday, September 29, noted that the Compost Center will be closed on Wednesday, September 30, due to heavy rains in the weather forecast.

The Department of Public Works has announced the fall schedule for the Compost Center.

Click to view the full-size image

Starting October 7, the Compost Center, located at 108 Carlisle Road, will be open every Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., except for Veteran’s Day (November 11) and the day before Thanksgiving (November 25).

The Compost Center will also be open on Saturday, October 10, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and then starting on Saturday, October 24, the center will be open every Saturday through December 5. Normal hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but during November the hours will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m

The schedule is available at www.bedfordma.gov/recycling under the Calendar tab.

Pursuant to the Town’s EPA Stormwater Permit, the DPW urges residents to properly dispose of leaves and yard waste and to not dump leaves in wetlands or waterways. Also, residents are asked to keep storm drains clear of leaf litter and pine needles. Fallen leaves are loaded with natural fertilizer and are a source of stormwater pollution.

Per state regulations, yard waste is prohibited from regular trash. Residents may either compost yard waste on their own property or bring the yard waste to the Compost Center where it will be turned into loam products for Public Works projects.

Acceptable yard waste consists of leaves, pine needles, grass clippings, garden trimmings, weeds, and tree material up to one inch (1”) in diameter. Tree limbs more than one inch (1”) in diameter can be placed in the brush pile. Only paper biodegradable bags, available at a variety of stores, are allowed to be dropped off. Residents should empty plastic trash bags or containers of yard waste and bring them home for reuse.

Compost bins are available for $45 from the DPW at 314 Great Road. Contact Ed McGrath, Bedford’s Recycling Coordinator, at emcgrath@bedfordma.gov.

Shared Streets Grant to Promote Public Health, Safe Mobility, and Renewed Commerce

Over the summer, the Town of Bedford was awarded $62,666 in Shared Streets grant funding from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) to support projects that promote public health, safe mobility, and renewed commerce.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted some existing needs and has created new ones, and these projects are intended to maximize opportunities for residents and visitors alike to take advantage of our Town resources including enhanced outdoor dining and other commercial, recreational, biking, and pedestrian facilities while supporting the recovery efforts of local businesses.

This update describes the changes that have been made possible by this grant, in collaboration with several Town Departments, committees, and business partners.

An Obituary: James S. Rouvalis

James S. Rouvalis passed away on September 19, 2020.  A long-serving teacher and Science Coordinator for the Bedford Schools, Mr. Rouvalis was renowned for his entertaining lab experiments. He also coached several sports teams and taught driver’s education. Upon retiring to Topsfield, he was “a selfless and dedicated volunteer for the Council on Aging, and Meals on Wheels.

Superintendent’s Update ~ Sunday, September 27, 2020

was informed by the Bedford Board of Health that they received a laboratory testing report indicating that a school community member (i.e., student or staff) at Lane Elementary school has been diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The Bedford Board of Health immediately began case investigations. The first step in a school case investigation is to determine whether or not the positive case attended school during the infectious period. According to the MA Department of Public Health (MDPH) guidelines, the infectious period for COVID-19 is two days prior to becoming symptomatic or, if asymptomatic, two days prior to testing. The Board of Health determined that the positive school community member at Lane School was not present at school during their infectious period, therefore, no close contacts were identified among the school community in this situation.

Saturday’s Walk-in Flu Clinic

According to Health Director Heidi Porter, 335 Bedford residents received flu vaccine during Saturday’s Walk-In Clinic.

With plenty of parking and pre-set appointments, there never seemed to be a crowd but rather a steady flow of senior citizens, adults, and young people arriving between 9 am and noon.

Porter thanked Bedford’s CERT team and the cadre of volunteer nurses who rounded out Saturday’s staff.

Businesses will Remain Open and Acessible During Shawsheen Bridge Repairs ~ October 2 to 5

In order to repair the Shawsheen River bridge along The Great Road, through traffic will be detoured from 8 pm on Friday, October 2, until 5 am on Monday, October 5.

“Businesses will remain open and accessible at either end of the detour,” confirmed DPW Director David Manugian. “Whether you’re headed to Jiffy Lube or Stop and Shop, you’ll be able to get there.”

Easter Eggs, Flamingos, and Turkeys ~ Oh My!

Some days it truly is the simplest of things that give us pleasure, amusement, or a smile.  Decorating an Easter Egg tree gives me all of those things and has been a tradition of mine for more than three decades – and some of my colorful eggs are clearly now a bit faded, fragile, and vintage.

This year, the eggs went on the tree earlier than usual, in mid-March, as a little something to brighten my Covid mood. With so many neighbors out walking to pass the time, l noticed more and more people stopping to snap a photo and say, “Thank you for this spot of color in what seems like a dark time.”

Easter has long passed and the eggs have remained on the tree for the cadre of neighborhood children (and their parents and others) who stop by daily to count the eggs and identify them by color.

One of our favorite daily visitors is an adorable two-year young lady who lives close by and spends as much time as her family will allow with the egg tree. Bird feeders and a birdbath were added and attract a colorful array of wings and birdsong.

ZBA Approves Special Permit for Redevelopment of 19 Anthony Road

In a marathon session lasting four hours and at times fraught with tension, members of the Zoning Board of Appeals granted developer Amy Coffey the special permit she has sought for months to demolish an existing house at #19 Anthony road and to construct a larger home on a non-conforming lot.  ZBA members Carol Amick, Angelo Colasante, Jeff Dearing, and Chair Todd Crowley voted in favor of approval, with member Robert Kalantari opposed.

State Delegation Joins Town to Remind Residents About Bridge Repair

The bridge on The Great Road spanning the Shawsheen River near Stop and Shop Plaza will be closed for repairs from the evening of Friday, October 2, to the morning of Monday, October 5.

State Representative Ken Gordon (D – Bedford), Senator Mike Barrett (D – Lexington), and Bedford Town Manager Sarah Stanton remind residents to seek alternate routes, if possible. The work will be contained within one weekend.

The rehabilitation plan was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) after a recent Bridge Rating Report found that several of the bridge’s beams have an extremely low carrying capacity. The weekend of important repairs will restore the safety and structural stability of the bridge while minimizing inconvenience to residents and businesses. The bridge will re-open before the Monday morning commute and school bus schedule.

“Given the current structure of the bridge, there is no getting around the necessity of these repairs. However, I am happy that MassDOT will be able to make them so quickly and with such little inconvenience to the town,” said Rep. Gordon when the construction was first announced. “Drivers will be detoured for the weekend, but it is a small price for a safe and stable bridge for years to come.”

Bedford’s Neighbor Brigade says “Thanks for Your Gifts of Back-to-School Masks”

Thank you to everyone who donated masks to the Bedford MA Neighbor Brigade Back to School mask drive!

We were able to collect or purchase, wash, iron, individually bag, sort by size, label, and deliver 455 masks in time for school to start. We brought 230 masks for distribution at the Bedford Food Bank, and 225 masks to the BPS Guidance Department in every color and pattern from tiny preschool to high school appropriate sizes.

Another Casualty of the Pandemic: No Special Town Meeting this Autumn

In a conversation with Select Board chair Ed Pierce on September 22, he confirmed that there is no current plan to hold a Special Town Meeting this fall.  He reiterated that a Special Town Meeting will not be scheduled unless there is an urgent need such as additional funding for the schools. 

Typically, Bedford holds its Annual Town Meeting in late March and a Special Town Meeting in October or November.

Municipal Affordable Housing Trust

Bedford renters who have been financially affected by Covid-19, including loss of employment, may now apply for emergency rental assistance grants, to maintain housing stability over the next four months.

The program was approved by the Municipal Affordable Housing Trust at a recent meeting, after consultation with the Select Board. The trust has its own resources, separate from the municipal budget. The first round of payments was capped at a total of $40,000.