March 1, 2021 Select Board Meeting

Select Board Chair John Cronin called the March 1, 2021 meeting to order at 7:00pm.  As has been the custom for nearly one year, the first agenda item was the Coronavirus update.

Coronavirus Community update

Emergency Management Director, Fire Chief Michael Cassidy presented his weekly update to the Board and community: (slides providing details follow this summary)

  • 18 new cases during the past week
  • The weekly positivity rate dropped to 1.82%
  • Holliston remains in the Yellow category.
  • The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been FDA / CDC approved for use and will be available in Massachusetts later this week.
  • Booking vaccine appointments via the on-line registration systems remain a challenge – be persistent, you never know when an appointment will open up throughout the week.
  • Gov Baker has moved the State back to Phase 3, Step 2 of the re-opening plan.
  • Being vaccinated does NOT reduce the need to Wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands.
  • Linda Marshall reported that the Senior Center has helped over 100 residents get appointments / transportation; 12 seniors are still waiting for an appointment to open up.
  • Marshall pointed out that the Senior Center scheduling volunteers use the same system that is available to all residents – the volunteers play the same waiting game when hunting for appointments.
  • Chair Cronin encouraged any residents needing food assistance to contact Youth & Family Services 508.429.0620 and / or the Senior Center 508.429.0622

CARES Act Programmatic update:

The weekly update of CARES Act funds committed / expended appears below.  The current total of $681,263 is just about 50% of the funds allocated to Holliston for use by the end of December 2021.

The Board approved the Council on Aging request for meal delivery.  The Board also rescinded the allocation of $15,000 that was approved in early February because the Sr. Ctr. has received transportation funding from other sources (see Board Business below)

The Board approved the Schools request to fund the pool testing pilot from March 29, 2021 through the end of the current school year.

Warrants: TheBoard approved the weekly warrant of $1,796,435.71.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Sparrell:  Commended resident Josh Solberg for his initiative in proposing a repurposing of the old Patoma Park tennis courts.  Sparrell encouraged others to join Solberg and / or bring forward other similar community projects.
  • Mrs. Hein: None
  • Mr. Cronin: Commented on the Oldest Veteran ceremony that was held recently.  Charles Nickerson was presented with proclamations and his name has been added to the Town Hall plaque.  (Bobby Blair will have more on the ceremony in the Holliston Reporter soon.)
  • Public: None

Comments from the Town Administrator: Mr. Ahern updated the Board on the following:

  • The search / selection process continues to appoint a new Sr. Ctr. Director to replace the retiring Linda Marshall.
  • The Town Hall is getting new front doors and the floors refinished in Upper Town Hall this week.
  • Rep. Dykema and Sen. Spilka will be updating the Select Board at next Monday’s meeting.
  • On the March 15th SB agenda will be the discussion on the fate of the Front Street one-way traffic pilot.
  • A reminder that draft Town Meeting Warrant Articles are due in to the Town Administrator by March 29, 2021 at 4:00pm.

FY22 Budget & Revenue Review

  • Youth & Family Services – The Board approved the Y&FS proposed FY 22 budget of $158,634; an increase of 6.57% due largely to temporary help needed to cover for a staff member who will be on leave.

The Board asked Y&FS Director, Jackie Winer (above) to share how Y&FS has responded to the increase need for support due to the pandemic. She highlighted the $50,000 of CARES Act funds that have gone to help 27 families meet their rent / mortgage payments.  She expects that an additional $25,000 from CARES Act funds will be needed soon.  She also pointed residents to two State programs that can provide up to $10,000 in housing support.  They are the

Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) and Residential Assistancefor Familiesin Transition (RAFT).  Information about both programs is available at this website ->Mass RAFT Program  The Board commended Winer and her staff, calling Y&FS a “hidden gem” in our community.

  • Police Department – The Board approved the proposed FY 22 budget for the HPD = $3,185,700, up 5.4% from FY 21.
L-R Lt. Chad Thompson, Lt. George Leurini, Chief Matthew Stone

Members of the Board complimented Chief Stone and all the HPD personnel for their professionalism and planning. Continuous training is a focus for all members of the Department.  HPD responded to 18,590 calls for service during 2021as the pandemic was sweeping across the country.

  • Auxiliary Police – The Board approved the proposed FY 22 budget = $13,902.06; no change from FY 21.

Lt. George Leurini (above) who leads the HPD Auxiliary, presented his report while battling laryngitis. Despite the physical challenge he was able to share that Auxiliary officers provided 1,057 hours of service to the Town – much of it patrolling the Rail Trail and Parks with bikes or cruisers.  Those hours are at no cost to the Town.  Two Auxiliary officers recently retired, and one new Auxiliary officer has been hired.

  • Animal Control Officer – The Board approved the proposed FY 22 budget = $38,000. This represents Holliston’s contribution for a shared ACO with Ashland.
  • Employee Benefits – The Board approved the proposed FY 22 budget = $11,008,470.

Board Business:

  • Accepted an unrestricted $1,300 grant for the Holliston Police Department
  • Accepted a donation of $250.00 Senior Center from George and Margaret Sims
  • Approved Minutes of February 8, 2021 and February 16, 2021 meetings
  • Accepted a $34,470 grant to support transportation for Holliston Seniors and Veterans
  • Accepted a $4,000 grant Senior Center transportation from Bay Path Elder Services

Other Business:

Mrs. Hein thanked the two HPD Auxiliary officers who recently retired for their years of service to our community.

Mr. Cronin asked Mr. Ahern and Chief Cassidy to produce an ‘annual report’ chronicling the Town’s experience / response to the pandemic in the past year.

The meeting adjourned at 9:10pm.

Chris Cain

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