COVID-19 Actions Taken By Select Board

The Select Board met Monday in the Town Hall conference room which was set up for ‘social distancing.’ More space between Board members and fewer seats / more space in the audience. (This reporter distanced himself thanks to HCAT.)

The Board met with Bernie Lynch (far right) and Sharon Flaherty (far left) from Community Paradigm Associates

Community Paradigm Associates helps municipalities search for senior public employees – in our case a Town Administrator. They were recommended by the Town’s personnel attorney. The Board questioned Mr. Lynch, the Owner/Principal of the firm and Ms. Flaherty, a Senior Associate regarding the firm’s services and cost. Following the discussion, the Board approved the hiring of Community Paradigm Associates to conduct a 16-week search and provide the Town with support throughout the hiring process – for a fee of $9,800.

Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy briefs the Board on COVID-19

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy, wearing his Emergency Management Director hat, briefed the Board on COVID-19.

  • There are NO known presumptive or confirmed cases of the virus in Holliston.
  • In several MA counties there has been ‘community spread.’ Community spread means that there is no clear connection between a new case and a known source.
  • Governor Baker has implemented many state-wide actions to reduce the spread of the virus in the Commonwealth.

Based on these recent changes, Chief Cassidy recommended that the Board take two actions: 1) declare a town-wide State of Emergency, and 2) close all town facilities to public access.

Declaring a State of Emergency allows for a coordinated town-wide effort to get ‘ahead of the curve.’ Avoiding confusion and enhancing collaboration among town departments. In this situation, the Emergency Management Director becomes ‘the voice of the Board’s decisions.’

The Board read and approved a Declaration of a State of Emergency for the Town of Holliston effective at 7:20 pm March 16, 2020.

The Board next discussed the closing of town facilities to the public. The purpose is to allow the Town employees to continue to work and reduce their chances of infection.

The Board approved Chief Cassidy’s recommendation to immediately close all town facilities to public access.

Included in the ban are Town Hall, the Library, the Senior Center, 1750 Washington Street, Schools, and parks. NOT included in the ban are the Rail Trail (using social distancing) and Pinecrest Golf Course (using social distancing). Building permits and inspections will not be effected by the ban. The event sponsors of previously approved activities to use Town facilities will be notified of this change.

Chief Cassidy and Technology Director, Chris Meo have tested the Town’s telephone system to ensure that Town officials can continue to work even IF offices were to close at some time in the future.

Related to the limit of public access, the Board also approved the use of remote meeting technology for all the appointed committees that fall under its purview. The technology must allow for citizens to join such meetings. A reminder to committees that unless statutorily required, meetings may be deferred during this time.

The Board thanked the Chief for his exceptional efforts related to Holliston’s preparations related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The weekly warrants totaled $551,007.59 were approved by the Board.

During Public Comment:

  • Mrs. Hein reminded everyone that the Holliston Community Action Fund is available to residents. Grants of $200 – $500 will be made available. Contact Jackie Winer, Y&FS Director, 508-429-0620 to find out more. Donations to the HCAF can be made at https://hollistoncommunityaction.org/
  • Mr. Cronin has been very busy following proposed legislation related to COVID-19. He gave a heads up to the FinCom regarding the potential for reduced revenues going forward. He encouraged us all to pull together.

The Town Administrator shared:

  • James Keast started work as the Town’s Facilities Manager
  • The Finance Committee meets Tuesday evening.
  • Next week he will have drafts of a Governance Committee Charter and the make up of a Town Administrator Screening Committee.

Board Business:

  • Approved meeting minutes for Feb 3 and Mar 2 meetings.
  • Approved meeting minutes for Feb 6 and Feb 26 Exec Sessions
  • Deferred action on the event permit request for a trail run on May 31, 2020 – pending a better understanding of what the future of COVID-19 holds.
  • Approved the Advisory Letter to be sent to the Zoning Board of Appeals
  • Received an update from Mr. Ritter regarding the Town Meeting Warrant articles
  • Approved the waiving of the $450 Liquor License fee for last week’s Bingo fundraiser

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein mentioned that there are currently 8 event permits pending with Chief Stone.

Mr. Cronin shared that these are difficult times that require our patience and cooperation – and Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

The meeting adjourned at 8:16 pm.

Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Scott Sayers on March 20, 2020 at 8:02 pm

    Why is it necessary to close the Marshall St. Recycling Center? That requires almost no direct interaction and it is not difficult to maintain adequate separation. One thing that we can all enjoy at this difficult time is some gardening and yard work. Now even that has been made unnecessarily difficult.

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