Select Board – November 29, 2021 Meeting

The Holliston Select Board convened its weekly meeting on November 29, 2021 at 7:00pm after two other important events at Town Hall.  Chair Tina Hein lit the menorah in front of Town Hall on the second night of Hanukkah.  Members of the Select Board then proceeded to Upper Town Hall to award the 2021 Holliston Humanitarian awards to three worthy recipients.

Appointment & Swearing-In – Officer Alexander Keefe

HPD Chief Stone (right) introduces Candidate Keefe (center) to the Board.

Holliston Police Chief Matthew Stone presented candidate Alex Keefe to the Select Board.  Officer Keefe, currently a member of the Ashland Police Department, was the number one candidate from a selection process that started in October with applications, then a physical ability test, a panel interview with HPD officers, and a final interview with Chief Stone.

Chief Stone stated that he was “honored to present such a strong candidate” to the Board.  Officer Keefe was drawn to the Holliston force because of HPD’s reputation for being community oriented.  The Board unanimously approved the appointment of Officer Keefe with a start date to be determined by Chief Stone.

Keefe was sworn in as a Holliston Police Officer by Town Clerk, Elizabeth Greendale. (below)

Officer Keefe without badge (left) is hugged by his father Sean Keefe after dad pinned on the officer’s badge.  Congratulations and welcome.

HCA Request – 72 Jeffrey Ave

The Board heard a request to enter into a Host Community Agreement (HCA) with a new marijuana cultivator / manufacturer named Zen Growing.

Steven Valchuis (below), Zen Growing Principal, represented by Attorney Blake Mensing (below right) presented Zen’s proposed business model and answered questions from the Board.

Mr. Mensing characterized this small-scale facility as a boutique operation where “passion for product is greater than the quest for profit.”

The Board asked Mr. Valchuis several questions about relevant business and educational experience that he brings to this project. His credentials are noted above.

Below, is the location of the existing building in the Lowland Industrial Park.  Members of the Board expressed concern about the nuisance factor that such a facility could present – especially when located in proximity to other businesses that draw young people.

Town Counsel, Kate Foedoroff, answered questions from the Board and shared other options for how an agreement might be achieved.  In the end, the Board asked the requestor to add more details to the business plan and to identify key members of the organization and return to the Board at a not-too-distant time.

COVID-19 Community Update / ARPA Programmatic Update / CARES Act close out

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy provided his weekly COVID update to the Board:

  • 20 active cases
  • Yellow on the State’s infection scale
  • Holliston’s positivity rate is below the State’s rate
  • 62% of 5–11-year-olds have received first vaccine dose
  • PCR testing is still available at the Ashland T Station (Jay Robinson suggests completing the forms (available online) before going.)
  • Cassidy reminded all: if eligible, get vaccinated; if vaccinated and eligible, get boosted.

The ARPA Steering Group will meet this Wednesday at Noon via Zoom (open to the public). The ARPA Steering Group is looking for a small-business champion to shepherd and vet ARPA requests to the Steering Group.

The final accounting of CARES Act funds is due to the State this Friday.  A final report of how the Town optimized the use of its $1.3M CARES Act grant will be sent to the Board by Cassidy in the near future.

Warrants – The Board approved the weekly warrant totaling – $1,481,126.56.

Public Comment:

  • Mr. Cronin: Congratulated the Humanitarian Award Recipients, Kris Westland, Barbara Fritts Worby, and Lina Arena-Derosa (See link to article above)
  • Mr. Sparrell: Thanked the Lions for the Lighting up Downtown and especially the trees at Blair Square.
  • Mrs. Hein: Wished a Happy Hanukkah on this second night of light (she used a blowtorch to light the menorah in front of Town Hall!)
  • Public: None – Mr. Ahern noted that two questions were missed during the HCA discussion and can be addressed when the requestor returns at a later date.

Comments from Town Administrator:  Mr. Ahern provided the following updates:

  • Holliston’s Tax Rate has been set with the State. This is quite an accomplishment at this early date. Thanks to Kathryn Peirce, Mary Bousquet, and Sharon Emerick.
  • The FY 23 Budget preparation packet will be going out soon.
  • Department Head annual performance reviews have begun.
  • Stantec engineering will be presenting two final reports at NEXT Monday’s Board meeting.
  • Hopefully, Rep Dykema and Sen Spilka will be at the Board’s December 13th meeting.
  • The Town Hall storm window project had a setback last Wednesday with a broken window in the Collector’s office – everyone is o.k. and the window is repaired.
  • The Town Hall septic project has begun – a big digger is on the Town Green.

Board Business:

  • Approved the minutes from the November 1, 2021 meeting.
  • Accepted a $500 donation from the Meadowbrook residents for the Fire Department for help during recent flooding.

Other Business:  Don’t forget – curbside leaf pickup this week on regular trash pickup day.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:15pm.

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Chris Cain

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