The Town is working to implement some communications improvements around Covid-19. That includes a reverse 911 call that the public should expect to receive. (Don’t panic when you get it, it will likely just be a reminder about the importance of physical distancing to slow the spread of the virus.)

The emergency alert was one of the items that Town Administrator Mark Purple told selectmen he would follow up on. It was part of last night’s update on the virus during the Board of Selectmen meeting.

During the meeting, Selectwoman Lisa Braccio passed on feedback that a reverse 911 call might be in order. She said that some people are still gathering and it might be important to remind them about the importance of physical distance. The board agreed.

Braccio also asked about the announced decision to move to weekly updates on the number of infected patients in Town. She hope that was being reconsidered.

Purple said that they were working to launch a new page on the website that would better inform the public. He pointed out that the current page, which just lists documents and links, makes it difficult for residents to find important information. IT and the TA team are working on a new version modeled after work done by other Towns.

The hope is that it will be easier to update and to navigate, allowing more real time sharing of data. Based on his conversation with Public Health Nurse Leslie Chamberlin, he also hopes to be able to add age groups of infected residents. 

Selectman Sam Stivers asked if information could also include the number of people tested in town and those who have recovered. Purple said that currently that information has been difficult to access. He said that he would look into the possibility. But he noted that Chamberlin only works part-time and is spending most of her time following up on patients and contacts.

Once the revised page launches, Purple expects it will be a work in progress. He foresaw accepting critiques and making multiple adjustments.

As of this afternoon, the new page/site is yet to be launched. I’ll let readers know when I see it go live. (Although, if that news is combined with the reverse 911, some of you will hear about it before I do.)

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Post image for April fun for families with young ones <em>(brought to you by Kindergroup)</em>

Above: Southborough’s playgroup for tots is inviting the community to join some free, safe, fun. (image from contributed calendar)

It doesn’t feel much like a day to fool around. But we all need some fun in our lives. Southborough Kindergroup is trying to help organize that for families keeping their young ones at home.

Obviously, the cooperative playgroup isn’t able to gather these days. So, they came up with some other activities for fun and their sharing it with the community.

Activities include a socially distant egg hunt in town, some special virtual storytimes, cupcake decorating, “bear hunting”, and ideas for adding a little variety to your daily routines. 

(click to enlarge)

An April calendar (right) starts off with an easy one for today, April 1st, “Tell your favorite joke”.

Here’s the announcement with more highlights:

Southborough Kindergroup invites you to participate in social distancing community activities for the month of April.  We have put together a list of activities for your family to do and feel a sense of community.  Other communities have organized some of these and have had great success.  We have created a new Facebook group:  Southborough Community Outreach sponsored by Kindergroup.  Feel free to join if you want to post pictures of your family doing the activities, to share fun ideas with others, and to keep up with updated event details.

A few events that should be highlighted are (you do not need to be on the Facebook page to participate):

  1.  April 4th -12th – Hang egg(s) outside of your house and go on a scavenger hunt around town to see how many you can find.  Also, see if you can find the Bunny on someone’s porch in town! 
  2. April 10th – Southborough’s Police Chief, Kenneth Paulhus, will be reading The Day the Crayons Quit (this will be available on the Southborough Community Outreach Facebook page).
  3. April 17th – Southborough’s Fire Chief, Steven Achilles, will read We are Going on a Bear Hunt (will be available online).  Then put those teddy bears outside and go for a bear hunt yourself (in the car!).  The more bears that are out, the more fun!
  4. April 18th – Cupcake decorating contest brought to you by Yummy Mummy!  If you are interested in participating, please email kindergroup.president@gmail.com by 10AM on 4/15 to place your order.  $20 for 3 vanilla & 3 chocolate cupcakes plus frosting and sprinkles.
  5. April 25th – Southborough children’s author, Sue Wambolt, will be reading Pete the Hungry Pig.

Here are some fun ideas for the whole month:

  1. We are very fortunate to have a lot of trails and open space in Southborough.  Thank you to the trails committee and town residents who keep up with the maintenance of them!  Throughout the month of April, be on the lookout for painted rocks as you are walking the trails.  And please feel free to paint your own and leave them for others to find!  Please do not touch them but we would love to see your pictures of them.  Here is a link to the trails in town:  https://www.southboroughtown.com/sites/southboroughma/files/pages/southborough_all_trails_map_v4_12.02.18_0.pdf
  2. Have a birthday coming up?  Feel free to email kindergroup.president@gmail.com if you would like a family to stand on your lawn and sing Happy Birthday!
  3. Hang something red outside your house (bow, ribbons, hearts) to show support for health care workers.
  4. If you have not already, participate in the Southborough Front Steps Photo Project.  Chelsea Bradway is doing a fantastic job in making it happen!

We hope you enjoy these activities and that they provide you a sense of community with Southborough, your neighbors, and friends.  If you have any additional ideas, please reach out.  Finally, thank you to all of the first responders, nurses, doctors, hospital employees, delivery drivers, grocery workers, and restaurants who are doing everything they can to keep us safe and are providing us with the essentials.

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Post image for Looking back 100 years at pandemic in Southborough

The current pandemic has prompted many comparisons and remembrances of the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. It prompted one resident to reach out and share photos of Southborough during the outbreak.

Some residents and local historians will recall that Fayville Hall’s historical background includes its use during the outbreak as a health center with hospital tents. Southborough’s Charles Bagley captured that sight on film.

Photos include one of a soldier wearing a face mask while helping patients.  (Click thumbnails to enlarge.)

      

   

Bagley’s Grandson Paul Redmond grew up on East Main Street. He shared the photos (with help from his son Patrick) and some background. 

The American Legion Post at the Community House was named after Charles’ brother Leo Bagley.* Leo was the only Southborough resident to die in service in WWI. He died at Camp Rariton, NJ in 1918. According to Redmond, Bagley was a victim of the flu.

Redmond notes that the brothers were from a “very large group of Bagleys in Southborough”. 

some on White Bagley road along the area on both sides of the railroad bridge concentrated where Bob Seeley’s farm was, many in houses moved up from the land when the reservoir was dug. Another small group was on Walker St behind St Anne’s Church. Charles was of the family which had the farm on both sides of the east end of East Main St bounded by what we called the “lower rd.” to the east.

Charles & Ida Bagley (with Jerry) The photo he shared of Charles and Ida on their front stoop in 1918 (also taken by Charles) reminds me a lot of the current Front Steps project.

While the two may look grim, it’s worth noting that smiling in photos didn’t start becoming popular until sometime in the 1920s.

*Later the post was renamed Bagley – Fay in recognition of Harold E Fay, killed in action during WWII.

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Post image for US Census 2020: Did you complete yours yet?

You should have received a letter in the mail by now asking you to respond to the US Census. Given the prevalence of scams, it’s understandable that some residents were wary.

For those worried about potentially being scammed, I’m sharing more details on what the legitimate mailers instruct/ask.

In mid-March, the federal government mailed instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census online.  

Apparently, the Town Clerk has been getting questions. Some were confused about the difference between it and the Town’s census that they already completed. He asked me to help clarify for readers that the federal government’s questionnaire is separate and important.

Each year, the Town sends out an Annual Street Listing form referred to as the Town Census. It’s required under state law and helps the town when grants and state aid to cities and towns are considered.

The US Census is required by the US Constitution to be done once per decade. It’s also considered important for our Town. Town Clerk Jim Hegarty writes:

It is important for Southborough residents to complete this census because the data from the census is used to determine how billions of dollars in federal funds are returned to states and towns for public projects including schools, roads and other public projects.

Of course, I didn’t open your letter. So, I can’t verify that you only received legitimate mailers. But I can tell you what you should have and shouldn’t have received. 

The U.S. Census Bureau’s letter directed residents that they could respond online at my202census.gov and included a Census ID for your address. You may also have received a reminder notice. That notice included that if they did not receive your response online soon, they would be mailing a paper questionnaire.  [click to keep reading…]

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NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0 details released

by beth on April 1, 2020

Post image for NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0 details released

Above: Northborough and Southborough Schools are directing parents to a dedicated website for how the relaunched remote learning program will work.

Our public schools are gearing up to launch mandatory remote learning on Monday, April 6th. This morning, the administration released details on how that will work.

The shift will allow teachers to introduce new concepts. But it won’t fully replicate what would have taken place in classrooms. High school students are expected to spend 2.5 to 3 hours on school work per day, including teacher interactions. The youngest students should spend an hour or less.

Not all of that time will be screen time. The overview explains that the Northborough-Southborough District:

is conscious of the effects of increased screen time and seeks balance between learning through technology and remote learning that happens offline to support students’ curiosity and understanding.

The details also include news that the district will observe originally scheduled holidays and April break. That means no schooling on Good Friday, April 10th and the week of April 20th.

On Monday night, Superintendent Gregory Martineau explained to the Combined school Committees some key differences between the current remote learning model and the planned reboot.

NSBORO-CONNECT 1.0 (running through tomorrow):

  • optional learning
  • geared to building and maintaining skills
  • teachers gave some feedback but no grades

NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0 (starting Monday):

  • required work
  • introducing new content
  • will be assessed for grades

At that time, Martineau said that grading was still being worked out, especially for the more complex for middle and high school courses.

The newly posted overview sets out a “Master Schedule” for when teachers and kids will make “real-time connections”. Those formats could include:

video conference, shared Google document, chat, telephone conference call, pre-recorded video, or discussion board. Educators will use their professional judgment to determine the format that works best for a session’s purpose.

The schedule splits the timeframes for those connections by Elementary Schools (8:00 – 9:55 am), Middle School (10:00 – 11:55 am), and Algonquin (12:00 – 1:55 pm):  [click to keep reading…]

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Post image for BOS invites public comment at end of tonight’s meeting

Above: Tonight’s Board of Selectmen meetings invites public participation (within limits).

The Town is launching the ability of residents to comment during virtual public meetings. The “public comment” function will premier during tonight’s Board of Selectmen meeting. It is the first time since the pandemic forced the Town to eliminate in-person board/committee meetings that the public will be able to participate.

An announcement was released today by BOS Chair Brian Shea. It appears that despite public comment being listed as the second item on the agenda, it will actually be last.

The announcement explains how the function will work. (You can view that document here.) It explains:

To participate in Public Comment, there is a “Raise Hand” icon once you are in Zoom. Due to time commitments of Board members, I plan to go to Public Comment at the end of our meeting. If there are those in Town that would like to offer a Public Comment, this would be an opportunity to do so. Similar to requirements that we have at a “normal meeting”, participants will be required to state their name and address, and follow public comments guidelines that we have in place. 

The document points readers to access the Virtual Meeting information via a button on the home page under the Citizen Action Center. That leads to the page southboroughtown.com/remotemeetings. The page currently lists three meetings, only two of which show the ability to use the public comment feature. As of now, the second chance for public comment is during a Public Safety Building Committee meeting scheduled for April 2nd at 7:00 pm.

The announcement explains that in addition to allowing comments to selectmen tonight, the meeting serves to test the Town’s ability to proceed with future agenda items that call for more public input:

Our Board (and others) will be limited to holding meetings through Zoom for the foreseeable future. To date, we have limited agenda items to Covid-19 related topics, and not take on items that would otherwise invite and warrant public participation and discussion. With an indefinite timeframe that we will be meeting in this manner, at some point Boards will need to add such items to their agendas, and we need to be prepared for how to best allow for participation from the public in a Zoom meeting environment.

To assist us in preparing for meetings that will have public participation, we have added Public Comment to our agenda tonight, in part as a way for us to test out the ability for members of the public to join and participate in this meeting.

Part of the success of efforts will depend on how responsibly the option is used by the public:

While we are well aware of potential adverse consequences, which will be immediately shut down should the need arise, we trust that all in Town understand that we are in this together, and that we will all act responsibly so that this forum can be relied upon moving forward.

That statement may be prompted by recent news stories on zoombombing of video conference calls by internet trolls.

The meeting starts at 6:30 pm and includes updates on the Covid-19 situation, discussion of the Acceler8 project to replace MassPike bridges, and a vote to enter a MSBA Project Funding Agreement for an Accelerated Repair Program for Finn Elementary School.

Here are the links for tonight’s revised agenda and materials packet

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No Sunrise Easter Service this year

March 31, 2020 11:25:37 AM
Thumbnail image for No Sunrise Easter Service this year

The United Parishes of Southborough asked me to announce that this year’s sunrise gathering won’t take place.

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Library holding virtual storytime at 11:00 am

March 31, 2020 09:18:41 AM
Thumbnail image for Library holding virtual storytime at 11:00 am

If you have kids that miss the Southborough Library storytimes, you’re in luck.

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Southborough Teachers and Central Office Staff pitch in meals for Our Father’s Table

March 31, 2020 08:16:16 AM
Thumbnail image for Southborough Teachers and Central Office Staff pitch in meals for Our Father’s Table

Southborough & Central Office staff distributed a hot meal tonight to 31 people and will be providing several more in the upcoming weeks.

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Virus Update: 11 residents infected

March 30, 2020 04:58:50 PM

This afternoon’s update from the Town raises the number of residents infected with Covid-19 to eleven.

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TTOR rejects Conservation’s request to reopen parking for Chestnut Hill Farm trails

March 30, 2020 04:54:19 PM

Last Thursday night, the Conservation Commission decided that unless the Board of Health disagreed, they should ask TTOR to consider reopening the public parking lot near the Chestnut Hill Farm trails entrance. Today’s word is that parking will remain closed.

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Town issues guidance for trail use: Encouraging social distance and making the most of it

March 30, 2020 02:32:32 PM
Thumbnail image for Town issues guidance for trail use: Encouraging social distance and making the most of it

A flyer from the Town points residents to Southborough’s trails and offers guidance on keeping safe while using them.

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Southborough’s Front Steps spreading joy while raising thousands for charity

March 30, 2020 01:01:13 PM
Thumbnail image for Southborough’s Front Steps spreading joy while raising thousands for charity

Since I last posted on the project, Bradway has taken a lot more pics, collected a lot more donations, secured a “matching” donor, and gotten some local media coverage.

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School launch of mandatory remote learning to begin next Monday

March 30, 2020 08:56:29 AM
Thumbnail image for School launch of mandatory remote learning to begin next Monday

Sunday night’s message specified that “NSBORO-CONNECT 2.0” will begin next Monday, April 6th.

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