Select Board Prepares for Town Meeting

The Select Board hosted a joint meeting with the Governance Committee on Monday, November 23, 2020.  Select Board Chair John Cronin and Governance Committee Chair Sam Tyler called their respective meetings to order with remote participation.

The Governance Committee (GC) updated the Board on its status.  The details of their report and their entire meeting was covered by Yvette, whose report will be posted Wednesday.

The Select Board thanked the GC for its diligent work to date and wished the members a Happy Thanksgiving.

The Select Board had a different look this week.  Mrs. Hein participated remotely as she is quarantining in Canada so she can visit her college students there.

Coronavirus Community Update:  Chief Cassidy updated the Board as follows:

  • Holliston passed 200 total cases this weekend
  • That is double the total case count from early October
  • Currently, there are 209 total cases, 34 Active
  • The weekly positivity rate is 2.38% (down slightly from last week – likely due to increased testing
  • Still in the Yellow category
  • Several social media “splashes” are planned for this critical week
  • Go to MA “Stop the Spread” website to find free COVID testing sites
  • The schools are doing a great job balancing in-person, hybrid, and remote learning
  • Very low transmission found in schools – students are complying with regulations

CARES Act Programmatic update

There were no CARES Act fund request submitted through Chief Cassidy this week.

Warrants: The Board approved the weekly warrant of $1,797,182.28.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Sparrell-
    • Reminder that curbside leaf pickup will take place next week
    • Asked that we make good decisions in the coming week to stay safe
  • Mrs. Hein-
    • Introduced Rabbi Mimi Micner (below) who now serves the Temple Beth Torah congregation.

Rabbi Micner shared how she has been “embraced by the community” since her arrival.

  • Mr. Cronin-
    • Reminded citizens that all the documents pertaining to the upcoming Town Meeting are posted on the Town’s website.  Printed copies will be available around town.
  • Public – None

Continued: Discussion/Vote on Town Meeting Quorum 12/5/20

The Board members, with input from Chief Cassidy, voted to set the quorum for the Special Town Meeting scheduled for Saturday, December 5, 2020 at 50 citizens.  Chief Cassidy reminded everyone that a quorum is the MINIMUM number needed to conduct business.  The High School Auditorium where the meeting will be held can accommodate approximately 150 as a maximum.  Cassidy also reminded everyone that there will be a large TV monitor in the auditorium lobby for some citizens to watch and only enter the room when they want to speak.

Special Town Meeting Warrant Discussion:

At its meeting last Tuesday, the Finance Committee voted to recommend moving funds around in the Town Meeting Warrant Articles 1 and 3.  The net result to taxpayers would be no change in the bottom line.  The FinCom’s recommended changes are highlighted below.

There was a spirited discussion around this recommendation. Members of the Board, School Committee, School Administration, a Finance Committee member, and the public.

Dan Alfred, representing the Finance Committee, indicated that the change voted by the FinCom last Tuesday (following the approval of the Warrant articles by the Select Board last Monday) was to ‘bulletproof’ the budget in the event of several worst-case scenarios.  Basically, putting more money in reserve to be used to cover possible contingencies.

Keith Buday (left) and School Committee Chair Stacey Raffi (right) provided input to the Board.

While the School Committee and Administrators gave some estimates of what the second half of the school year COVID-related expenses could be, no formal proposed need has been approved or requested by the Schools yet.

Dan Alfred (left) and Anne-Louise Hanstad (right) contributed several points during the discussion.

Mary Greendale (above) asked the question of the evening, “Why did the Finance Committee take the vote to change the Warrant article after the Warrant had been approved by the Select Board?”  This action by the FinCom does not follow the Town Meeting Warrant preparation / approval process that the Town normally follows.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, the Select Board asked Mr. Ahern to confer with Town Counsel regarding the Finance Committee’s action last Tuesday.

Comments from Town Administrator:  Mr. Ahern shared the following:

  • Effective Monday, November 23, 2020, all Town Hall offices are open by appointment only.  Residents are encouraged to do as much business using the online resources.  If an in-person visit is needed, please call ahead for an appointment.
  • The Town offices will close early this Wednesday and remain closed for Thursday and Friday in observance of Thanksgiving.

EDA Status Application

The Board authorized the Town Administrator to apply for an Economically Distressed Area (EDA) status for Holliston.  This is NOT a bad thing for the Town or its taxpayers.  Such a designation allows public and private entities to apply for State funds/grants for development projects in the EDA.

Police life Saving Awards and Meritorious Service Awards (excerpts from Chief Stone’s citations are included)

Officer Scott Downey:

“It is with great honor that I extend this Department’s appreciation and admiration and award you with this our Meritorious Service Award for your actions on November 2, 2020. During the afternoon hours of Monday, November 2, 2020 your actions resulted in the life-saving efforts of a suicidal male party and should be deservingly recognized. At approximately 10:30AM on that date you arrived at a residence on Mechanic Street in Holliston and were faced with a very stressful situation of a 19-year-old male party who was armed with a knife and threatening to harm himself. Using your communications and de-escalation techniques, you engaged this individual in convincing conversation while keeping him calm and focused. Your compassionate approach led to a progressive discussion which eventually assisted this male party into making a life-saving decision and move toward a safe ending for all.

During the course of this incident, you treated this suicidal person with dignity and respect while having empathy for his current well-being. Without your calm approach, creative dialogue, and professional conduct during this stressful event, this man would certainly not be alive today.”

“I am pleased to present you with our Department’s Life Saving Award for your extraordinary efforts on a medical emergency call on the afternoon of October 21, 2020. You, along with Officer John Scanlon were dispatched to the area of 738 Norfolk Street in Holliston for the report of a 64-year-old male party who was in need of assistance at the rear of his residence. Upon arriving, you observed the male party to go into cardiac arrest and begin to “code.” It was around this time that Officer Scanlon arrived on scene, as well. You then checked the male for a response and pulse. After finding neither, you and Officer Scanlon began two-person cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It was around this time that the Holliston Fire Department ambulance and the Medway Fire Department arrived on scene. At the time the male party was transported to the hospital, he had recovered both a pulse and blood pressure.

Officer John Scanlon

” I am pleased to present you with our Department’s Life Saving Award for your extraordinary efforts on a medical emergency call on the afternoon of October 21, 2020. You, along with Officer Scott Downey were dispatched to the area of 738 Norfolk Street in Holliston for the report of a 64-year-old male party who was in need of assistance at the rear of his residence. Upon arriving, Officer Downey observed the male party to go into cardiac arrest and begin to “code.” It was around this time that you arrived on scene, as well. You then checked the male for a response and pulse. After finding neither, you and Officer Downey began two-person cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). It was around this time that the Holliston Fire Department ambulance and the Medway Fire Department arrived on scene. At the time the male party was transported to the hospital, he had recovered both a pulse and blood pressure.”

Officer Ryan Parent

“I am pleased to present you with our Department’s Life Saving Award for your extraordinary efforts on a medical emergency call on the evening of November 8, 2020. At approximately 5:55PM you responded to a medical emergency call for a male party who was unconscious and not breathing in the rear stairwell at 49 Windsor Drive in Holliston, MA. Upon arrival at the scene, you located an adult male who was completely unresponsive, producing agonal gasps of breath, had a weak pulse and whose skin was clammy to the touch. Based on your observations, you administered one (1) 4mg dose of Naloxone to the male party. You then removed the male’s t-shirt and began to prepare your oxygen and bag-valve mask in preparation for rescue breathing. It was at this time that the male party began to gain consciousness. Shortly thereafter, Holliston EMS arrived on-scene and began to prepare the male subject for transport to a local hospital for further treatment.”

Board Business:

  • Accepted the following on behalf of the Town:
    • Senior Center Donation from Prior Family in memory of Jeri Chartrand $100.00
    • Senior Center Grant from Metrowest Health Foundation $16,650.00 (technology hardware, software, and internet connectivity)
    • Police Gift from Holliston Reporter $250.00
  • Approved Select Board meeting minutes November 9, 2020
  • Appointed Matt Putvinski to the Youth Advisory Committee the Term to expire June 2023

Other Business:

  • Mr. Sparrell – Happy Thanksgiving
  • Mrs. Hein – Introduced a topic for future discussion – reduce or remove Holliston’s annual liquor licenses to help local businesses during this difficult time. Mr. Ahern will bring the potential impact to the Town’s revenue.
  • Mr. Cronin – Happy Thanksgiving

The meeting adjourned at 9:12 pm.

Chris Cain

1 Comment

  1. Ken Szajda on November 24, 2020 at 9:54 am

    I think it’s important to understand that the “question of the evening” (as you put it) is incorrect. The Finance Committee did not change anything in the warrant and has no power to do so. Mary, as a former member of the Select Board, should know that. The process we followed is the same process that has always been used and that has served the residents well for my entire tenure on the Finance Committee.

    At all times the Finance Committee uses all the information available to us to make recommendations we feel are in the best interests of the town. In this case, we had voted several recommendations the prior week (at our November 10 meeting), but were presented with new information at our meeting on November 17. This new information resulted in changes to our recommendations for two articles. These updated recommendations were included in our Report for the December 5, 2020 Special Town Meeting that was released last Friday. Included in the report is language explaining why the recommendations differ slightly from the spending listed in the warrant. I would encourage all residents to review the report as they prepare for Town Meeting.

    The Finance Committee is recommending that Town Meeting further strengthen our short-term reserve fund since the federal government has not passed additional stimulus and all current stimulus money runs out at the end of next month. We were already recommending adding a small amount to the reserve fund, but increased the amount when the information we received indicated that our original recommendation might not cover COVID-related costs if no further stimulus is passed. We weren’t recommending expenditure of any additional money at this time, and any additional money that Town Meeting elects to put into our short term reserves that ends up not being needed would come back to the town at the end of FY21.

    Although I did not see the Select Board meeting last night, it is clear from this article that there was much ado about nothing, including another implication that the Finance Committee had done something that requires legal review. We did nothing of the sort. As I have stated endlessly, Town Meeting is the appropriating authority for the town. We simply did our job by making recommendations to Town Meeting that we believe are best for the residents of Holliston.

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