Select Board Completes Work on the Town Meeting Warrant

The Select Board began their evening with a presentation of the 2020 Holliston Humanitarian Awards to three deserving individuals (more on the event in a separate article).  Following the event in Upper Town Hall, the Board convened their business meeting at 6:31pm.  As always, since March, the first topic was the weekly COVID update.

Coronavirus Community Update

Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Michael Cassidy (who was celebrating another anniversary of his 29th birthday) provided the following update:

  • Holliston has 176 total cases with 34 still active
  • We remain in the Yellow category for infection rate
  • Holliston’s weekly positivity rate is currently 2.42 %
  • Chief Cassidy quoted an expert in the field of public health who said, “it will be about 12 months until the U.S. has ‘herd immunity’ (when enough individuals have immunity to naturally deter the spread)”
  • Cassidy shared his proposed COVID communication plan with the Board.  The Board commended his work on the plan and asked him to return next week with some costs for additional signage around town.
  • He asked the we make sacrifices to stop the spread to keep schools functioning “have empty seats at the table, so all the school seats that should be filled are.”
  • 3 W’s – Wear a Mask, Wash hands frequently, Watch your distance from others.

CARES Act Programmatic update:

  • The Chief presented one request from the Facilities Department for $605 additional funding to complete the Town Hall window repair project currently underway.  The Board approved the request.

Warrants: The Board approved a total of $1,270,012.26 for the weekly warrant.

Public Comment:

  • Public:
    • Ed Daniels, a long-time member of the Friends of the Holliston Trails committee, asked the Board to find a solution for the unsightly trash at Blair Square.  Not the Pet Waste containers that Jimmy Read voluntarily picks up – but the human trash that comes from so many people using the trail.  Mr. Daniels offered that the Friends would be willing to fund the installation of receptacles if that would expedite a solution.  Mr. Ahern has been researching a solution and will present ideas to the Board soon.

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • Construction / detour on Route 16 near the Sherborn line began Monday.  The work MAY continue until Wednesday of this week – plan accordingly.
  • An Economic Development Fund bill is currently working its way through the State Legislature.
  • The Holliston Economic Development Committee has endorsed the idea that the Town pursue EDA (Economically Disadvantaged Area) status to open up access to funding for public and private projects around town e.g. 9 Green St.; Axton-Cross, and others.
  • Mr. Ahern referenced a grant from the MetroWest Health Foundation to the Holliston Senior Center for technology to enable seniors to stay connected via the internet with the center and others.  Senior Center Director Linda Marshall added more info on the grant and was excited to announce that over 150 seniors will participate in next Monday’s Drive in Thanksgiving – the largest party ever!

Discussion and vote to reduce Town Meeting Quorum 12/5/20

The Board opened a discussion on setting the quorum (minimum number of citizens needed to conduct the Town’s business) for the upcoming Town Meeting.  While the High School Auditorium, the site of the meeting, can hold 142 socially-distant participants, what is a realistic minimum number to set – Chief Cassidy and Town Moderator Bill Mayer recommended 50.

Stacey Raffi (left) asked, on behalf of others, if the meeting could be held outside.  Chief Cassidy and Board pointed to the chancy weather in New England in early December along with the extra costs for seating and sound.  Anne-Louise Hanstad (right) asked if the High School Field House was suitable.  It had been discussed previously by the Board and the Chief and it was ruled out for several practical reasons.

Mrs. Hein wanted the public to see the final Warrant (which will be published later this week) before the Board votes on what quorum will be.  A final discussion and vote will be on the Board’s agenda next week.

Special Town Meeting Warrant Discussion

The Board did a detailed review of the Articles to be included in the December Town Meeting Warrant. As you will note from the list below, the Board voted to re-open the Warrant to remove Articles 17 – 20 for the reasons noted and then to reclose the Warrant.

Article 5 – Capital Budget was discussed with the School Committee and School Business Manager Keith Buday presented background on items 14 and 15 below.  The total Capital Budget comes in at $1,225,316.

Item 15 involves procuring and installing panels in the Field House to reduce future maintenance costs and provide an insulating value of R-13 at the same time.  A sample of the panels is shown below.

Mr. Keith Buday answers the Board’s questions on the insulating panels.

The Board voted to approve the the completed Warrant for publication.

Board Business:

  • On call fire department appointment:  James Cassidy joined HFD as an on-call firefighter
  • Electric Rate Options:

Facilities Manager James Keast (below) presented the Board with options to save the Town money on its electric bills by changing its energy source. 

Working with Sustainability Coordinator, Matt Zettek,  the list of vendors below was compiled and presented by Keast and discussed by the Board.

The Board voted to enter into a 12-month contract with Patriot Energy using 100% renewable sources for an estimated savings of $74,445 (corrected thanks to John Cronin’s update) during the term of the contract.  Eversource would still deliver the power produced by Patriot Energy to Holliston’s Town facilities.

  • Select Board Q1 Update – Ben Sparrell – ready to be published (look for this in the Holliston Reporter soon)
  • Lion’s Club Holiday Light Display – the downtown lights; Installed 11/21; Lighted 11/28; Remove in early January – Approved by the Board
  • Select Board Meeting Minutes November 2, 2020 – Approved

Other Business:

  • Mr. Sparrel – None
  • Mrs. Hein alerted the Board that the Traffic Advisory Committee will be discussing measures to reduce speed in downtown at their next meeting.
  • Mr. Cronin – None

Before adjourning, the Board once again wished Chief Cassidy a Happy Birthday.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:53 pm.  There will not be a need for the Board to continue its meeting on this Wednesday as posted in the weekly calendar.

Chris Cain

2 Comments

  1. John Cronin on November 17, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    Chris/Yvette – yet another incredible job covering our meeting – so thorough and well done!

    One item I’d like to update is the Town’s savings on the Eversource electricity supplier. The new number/annual savings is $74,445. James and Travis shared that updated information verbally during the meeting. Our Board is extremely pleased with the work Mr Keast and Mr. Zettek put into this initiative.

    Great work!

  2. David Dysert on November 17, 2020 at 6:03 pm

    [Oops, I initially put my comment under the wrong article. I am copying it here. Sorry for wasting space 😉 ]

    I did not tune in to the Select Board meeting, nor have I watched the HCAT video, but I like to follow the minutes in the Reporter. I also thank Chris and Yvette for keeping us well informed.

    Regarding the Reporter’s item: “it will be about 12 months until the U.S. has ‘herd immunity’ (when enough individuals have immunity to naturally deter the spread)”

    I assume that this does not mean that we expect at least 70% of our population to get covid-19 ‘naturally’ via person-to-person contact, but rather based on the release and distribution of effective covid-19 vaccines in the coming year.

    Epidemiologists say that herd immunity requires around 65% – 80% of the population to become infected. In Middlesex county (pop. 1.6 million) that would mean another 1 million+ cases (current county totals are 38,643 cases and 2,356 deaths).

    So (speaking roughly as a non-statistician non-epidemiologist) current rates of deaths resulting from new infections seem to be around 2% (MassDPH shows overall (state-wide) run rates of about 2,000 new cases with 20+ deaths. At that rate Middlesex County could experience 20,000 more lonely deaths before we ‘naturally’ reach 70% immunity. (And really overload our health care systems in the process.)

    Fortunately, with vaccines, the ‘herd’ achieves wide immunity via a couple ‘shots’. So, of course, let’s keep taking the best precautions to control the current problem, until the vaccines are widely available.

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