COVID Tops the Select Board Agenda

Holliston Select Board Chair John Cronin called the December 28, 2020 meeting to order at 6:30 pm.  Following the practice of the past several months, Mr. Cronin called on Fire Chief Michael Cassidy to update the Board on the state of coronavirus infection in our Town.

Coronavirus Community Update

Emergency Management Director Cassidy utilized an upgraded version of last week’s visual update to make this week’s report.

Cassidy pointed out that the numbers in parentheses is the change from last week’s numbers.  In this format the weekly change shows more homes impacted with more people in those dwellings infected.  For the first time Holliston has over 100 active cases (up 21 on Monday alone).

Holliston’s positivity rate has risen to over 5%.  The positivity rate and number of cases has moved the Town into the Red category.  The Chief pointed out that the number of people being tested dropped during the last reporting period – adding in part to the increase in the positivity rate.  His current social media messaging (below) seeks to have more people tested AND follow public health guidelines.

Of note in the update was that the age 0-9 years and 40 – 49 years groups increased nearly 20%. 

The Governor’s rollback of reopening guidelines caps office capacity to 25%.  Some Town offices may stagger the work schedules of staff to keep below the limit.

Chief Cassidy and the Board members asked Hollistonian’s to make good decisions that keep our community spread down in the New Year.

CARES Act Programmatic update:

The following requests were approved as CARES Act expenses:

The Board approved the continuation, through the end of March 2021, of these on-going costs enacted in the first half of FY 21:

Also, the School Crossing Guard on Woodland near the school campus.

To date the Town has allocated approximately $1.26 Million of the $1.317 Million awarded by the State through the CARES Act.  The period for using those funds runs through December 2021. The Board is watching closely to see if additional monies will come from the Federal Government for community funding in a future aid package (the recent COVID relief package does not have aid to State and Municipal governments).

Warrants:  The Board approved a weekly warrant of $335,208.40.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Sparrell – Happy New Year! Let’s beat COVID!
  • Mrs. Hein – Complimented HPD and DPW for the communication campaign for Drive 25 that begins in Holliston on January 1, 2021.
  • Mr. Cronin – As a follow up to passage of an appropriation at the recent Town Meeting, the RFQ (request for quotes) is going out for traffic volume and traffic sound studies.  The bid process should happen quickly in the next month or so.
  • Public:

Karen Langton (below) reported to the Board that, once again on Monday, an 18-wheeler turned left onto Norland Street instead of Lowland and ended up ripping the cable service from a home on Regal Street.  Mrs. Langton reported that this is just the latest in several similar incidents since March 2020.  She pointed out that, with isolation rules in effect and many working from home, losing cable service is an extreme hardship.

The Board directed Town Administrator Ahern to work with HPD Chief Stone to follow up on this incident and others in the past.  Mr. Ahern will report back to the Board with Chief Stone’s findings / actions.

Comments from Town Administrator:

  • The stipend committee has asked Mr. Ahern for his assistance in distributing a stipend survey to Holliston boards / committees and to Town Administrators / Managers of Towns similar to Holliston.  The committee will need an extension of its initial due date (1/4/2021). No date was specified.
  • The new 25 mph speed limit signs will be installed in 12 key locations next Wednesday (1/6).  HPD will continue its educational efforts – using warnings when appropriate.
  • Mr. Ahern reported back to the Board on his findings following the December 16-17 storm that left 14.5 inches of snow on the Town.  A contributing factor to the poor snow removal efforts was the staff level available at the time.  Four positions were vacant at the time of the storm.  Some staff are on medical leave. Private contractors who supplement the Town crews, did not turn out as planned.  Two new drivers with CDL licenses have been hired as of next Monday.  Ahern is confident that the response to future storms will be met with crews and equipment that meet citizens’ expectations for snow removal service.  A more complete review of the snow removal operations manual used by the DPW will take place following this winter.

Board Business: The Board approved the following:

  • Select Board Meeting Minutes of December 7, 2020
  • Select Board Meeting Minutes of December 8, 2020
  • An agreement with Pare Corp. for 9 Green Street – A Building Demo and Site Reuse Plan

Other Business:

  • Mr. Ahern – HFD received a $250 gift from the Century Ty-Wood Corporation, the Board accepted the gift on behalf of the HFD gift account

The Board wished everyone a Happy New Year and asked that we all be safe.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:13pm

Chris Cain

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