Post image for Saturday/Sunday Storm: Changing snow forecasts; Expect freezing rain and icing

An update from Southborough Emergency Management confirms that while we may have a bad storm in Southborough tomorrow night, the details keep changing.

So be prepared for heavy snow up to 8″, followed by freezing rain/ice, and potential power outages Saturday night and Sunday. But don’t blame SEMA if the warning ends up seeming overblown.

Click on thumbnails below to enlarge the latest maps from the National Weather Service this afternoon:

NWS snowfall forecast for weekend 20190118 NWS ice forecast for weekend 20190118

This afternoon, SEMA’s Neal Aspesi shared:

The storm track is still teetering, making the exact snow, ice, rain line difficult to pin down.

We have gone between the 8-12 and 6-8 inches of snow mark in multiple forecasts over the last 24-hours…

The most current forecast has the track sneaking north just a bit bring the area of most concern for freezing rain and icing (0.25-0.50 inches) very close to our area. That said we are still in the 0.10-0.25 inch zone, of which I would predict us to be on higher end of the range.

The combination of heavy wet snow and ice will give us a pretty high potential of moderate+ damage and power outages. One the plus side, the snow should create a blanket before the freezing rain starts, reducing the chances of direct ice accretion on wires and trees. The snow blanket (and thus ice crust) should fall fairly quick from the high winds that will follow the storm. [click to keep reading…]

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Post image for Public Safety Building December Update: 35% complete (?) and clearing up flag confusion

Above: Progress is continuing on the Public Safety Complex. The only issue reported in December was the public’s confusion over a “faded” flag. (images L-R cropped from newsletter and contributed pic)

The latest monthly report is out on progress on the big Public Safety Building project. This time around, the only “issue” to report was misconceptions about the flag hung on the building.

The update by the Owners’ Project Manager explains:

it has been brought to Vertex’s attention that some community members are wondering why the flag that has been hung on the building is “faded”. The flag that was selected and hung is a 9/11 memorial flag. It differs from the typical American flag because the red, instead of being solid, is actually the names of the fallen from that day. This flag will be taken down and displayed in the building.

example of 911 flag at Public Safety BuildingI don’t have an original photo, but the committee Chair shared an example with me. (You can click on the thumbnail right for a better view.) The “Flag of Heroes” lists the names of emergency personnel who lost their lives that day trying to save others.

At a glance, the report shows that the project status was at 35% as of the end of last month. Later in in the document “(under review)” appears next to that figure. The “Schedule” section explains:

CTA Construction Managers provided an updated schedule to the team for review on December 17, 2018. The schedule is still under review as both Vertex and Context have questions and comments regarding the new schedule. Comments will be issued, and discussed at the upcoming project meeting.*

You may recall that earlier this fall, the general contractor asked for more time. The Town pushed back and eventually settled on allowing an extra unpaid 10 days.

PSB Dec report 2nd floor framing

(click to enlarge)

The newsletter again shares a load of details on construction activity, average daily work hours, change orders and more. It also features photos on various aspects of the project – like the framing of the second floor interior.

You can see all of that by clicking here.

Those of you more concerned about the land surrounding the building can read my post from earlier this week on the Golf Course status.

Speaking of the Golf Course, it seems some commenters have been including part of that project’s cost when referring to the building in comments. Part of the original Article was for the land deal to acquire and preserve St. Mark’s Golf Course.

The building project was approved for $22.6M. That included a contingency and the committee appears to be on track for shaving millions from that.

*Again, the newsletter is status as of the end of December. So, those issues may have been resolved since.

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Post image for Town Meeting and budget update: Article sponsors urged to educate voters (Updated)

Above: In a sparsely attended hall towards the end of last spring’s ATM, two votes were the difference between a pass and fail on a debated Warrant Article. To avoid a drawn out meeting with turnout issues this year, Article sponsors are urged to pre-educate voters to help shorten presentations and debate on the floor. (image cropped from SAM video)

This week, the Board of Selectmen continued to prepare for Annual Town Meeting. They are far from done, but here’s an update on what they discussed.

Selectmen made some budget compromises and again tabled a tough decision. Chair Lisa Braccio told members that new information came up impacting the Southborough Youth and Family Services budget. She asked to wait for their next meeting to address that, so they would have the “complete packet”.

Expect that to be revisited on January 29th. And expect that agenda to be packed.

Selectmen agreed to add the meeting to their schedule as part of Annual Town Meeting preparations. They are asking that anyone with Articles for  the ATM who wants to present to the board before they take their positions do it that night. That would allow for any follow up needed to take place at their February 5th meeting. 

February 5th will also be used for the official run through with the Moderator and Town Counsel. At that pre-Town Meeting, officials will go through the process Article by Article. (That typically includes the motions, the number of votes required to pass, order of presentations, etc.)

With up to 46 Articles on the Warrant, and about 25 of those not proposed by selectmen, both of those meetings could be long nights. But the meeting selectmen are concerned about going long is actual Annual Town Meeting. 

Selectman Dan Kolenda said the point of moving the meeting to Saturday was to increase participation. If the meeting turns into a 3 day event – it would “blow that out of the water”. Moderator Paul Cimino told the board that he hopes to avoid that by keeping presentations short. He stressed that no one should be using the night to educate voters on their Articles for the first time.

Selectman Brian Shea said the Southborough Library has been generous in offering a venue for past Article proponents to hold forums. And Cimino pointed out that there will be a literature table Article sponsors can use to share information at the ATM.

[Editor’s Note: Anyone who is sponsoring an Article is also invited to submit either information for me to share in a post or write a Letter to the Editor on this blog. See details below.*]

One of the Articles that Selectmen plan to present is a change to the newly adopted schedule for the Annual Town Meeting. This budget season was difficult for boards and departments with the budget process moved up to prepare for closing the Warrant in mid-February for the March 23rd meeting. This week, Braccio proposed changing the wording to open it on the last Saturday in April. 

Town Administrator Mark Purple was concerned by wording. He said the current bylaw calls for a “Town Meeting Week” in March. That meant they were unable to open it on Saturday, March 30th since it would have run into April. He said he would seek Town Counsel advice on the language. If passed, the change would give officials more time than they had in past years, when the meeting opened in early April. It would avoid conflicts with religious holidays and school break. 

Shea was concerned that it may be too close to the Town Election in May. He wondered if it would mean that items that needed to be ratified on Town ballots wouldn’t meet the deadlines. Purple will look into that.

Selectmen also discussed moving to a spring and fall model for Town Meeting. The idea would be to shorten warrants by focusing on budgets in the spring and zoning in the fall. Residents would be encouraged to target fall for citizen petitions – though the board couldn’t control when those are filed. There was lack of consensus on whether that would help or hurt turnout. The board decided not to tackle the concept this spring.

Earlier in the evening, the board tackled a few more FY20 budget issues they were split on last week.  [click to keep reading…]

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Post image for Drop-in Art Workshops for Children – Mini clay figures on Jan 26 (Updated)

Above: Lanting Huang-Truong showed children how to sculpt clay at a past Drop in Art class. A week from tomorrow, she’ll inspire them to use sculpey to make fun mini sculptures. (L-R photo by Beth Melo, image cropped from flyer)

The Southborough Library is continuing it’s free Saturday Art Workshops series for kids. Workshops are run by town art instructor Lanting Huang-Truong of Bigelow Center for the Arts.

The drop-in craft program is taking place monthly through May. It is geared for 5-9 year olds, but siblings are welcome.

mini clay figures Saturday Drop in Art flyerThe Saturday events are open for drop-in between 10:30 am and noon. The next session is a week from tomorrow.

Below is the schedule with posted themes:

  • January 26 – miniature clay sculpting
  • February 16 – Create beautiful works of textile art using oil pastels and watercolors
  • March 23 – make a bird vessel using clay
  • April 6 – make a flamingo puppet
  • May 4 – Giraffe drawing and painting

The series is sponsored by The Friends of the Southborough Library. No registration is required.

Update (1/20/19 8:33 am): An eagle-eyed reader noticed that I had the wrong date listed for April. I double-checked, and the other dates are correct.

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More Free Skate and Sticks & Pucks

by beth on January 18, 2019

Post image for More Free Skate and Sticks & Pucks

Yesterday, I posted the Fire Department’s warning to stay off the ice forming on reservoirs and ponds. Fortunately, there’s another option for skaters over the long weekend.

St. Mark’s School is reopening its doors to the public for more free skating on the MLK Jr. Day holiday. Sessions offered on Monday, January 21st are for Sticks and Pucks (2:00 – 2:50 pm) and Free Skate (3:00 – 3:50 pm).

One more round of free skate sessions in the school’s rink this season will be offered during the week of February 18th. 

St Mark’s Gardener rink is inside the Michel Faculty Athletic Center. It can be accessed off School Street (map).

Admission is free, but there are no rentals. So you’ll need to bring your own skates. Some rules do apply. For details, open the flyer – click here.

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Ice Safety and Texting 911

by beth on January 17, 2019

Post image for Ice Safety and Texting 911

Above: The SFD posted news on ice safety and a new way of contacting 911 in the Commonwealth (images L-R posted to Facebook by SFD and flickr by r. nial bradshaw)

The Southborough Fire Department asked me to share some warnings and helpful tips about Ice Safety. (It includes a video that teaches about self rescuing.) While I’m at it, I’m also sharing updated news the department previously posted about 911.

Update on Texting 911

Last year, I shared information on how someone in danger could signal for Police and Fire help without talking. At that time, texting 911 wasn’t available in our state.

text to 9-1-1

(click to enlarge)

That changed. Texting 911 for help in an emergency is now an option. (Though, they encourage you to call instead when possible.) 

The SFD posted the news Christmas week, but I missed it. (It was overshadowed 2 days later by news that 911 wasn’t working at all in the state!)

Of course, 911 issues have been resolved and it seems that texting is working, since the state issued a press release to promote the service yesterday. Click on the thumbnail above right for details. 

For a reminder on how to make a silent call if you don’t have a phone that texts, click here.

Danger on the Ice

SFD’s Lieutenant Neal Aspesi tells me that the ice building up out there is looking awfully tempting – but poses real danger. He asked me to get the word out before the long weekend.

Aspesi tells me the SFD already assisted Westborough on Monday when a 19 year old fell through the ice at Mill Pond and required emergency rescue.

The department posted a three part message to Facebook. Since some of you have issues seeing those on the blog, I’m consolidating them below:

*IS THE ICE SAFE?

minimum ice thickness

(click to enlarge)

NO, ice on our ponds & reservoirs is NEVER considered 100% safe, no matter how cold the weather. Ice thickness is not consistent, one spot might be 5” but yet only 1” a few feet away. Truly, the only safe ice is that on an ice rink.

We discourage anyone from going out on the ice and ask that parents relay this message to your children during the winter months.

ATTENTION: These ice guidelines [see thumbnail right] are for “CLEAR ICE” only – Dark Ice is never ever safe.

*WHAT DO I DO IF I FALL THROUGH THE ICE? (First, prevent it by NEVER going on the ice). Watch the video below on how to self-rescue yourself. If you cannot get out, stretch out both arms and lay them both flat on the ice around the hole – do not let go – and yell for help.  [click to keep reading…]

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Federal workers can get help from the Southborough Food Pantry

January 17, 2019 03:12:57 PM
Thumbnail image for Federal workers can get help from the Southborough Food Pantry

The Southborough Food Pantry asked me to share an announcement. Any Federal workers in our comunity who aren’t receiving checks due to the government shut down should make use of their services.

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Planning working on bylaw to make Southborough a “Tree City”

January 17, 2019 01:00:57 PM
Thumbnail image for Planning working on bylaw to make Southborough a “Tree City”

Southborough Wicked Local covered Planning’s efforts towards getting the Town designated “a Tree City USA”.

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Obituary: Bradford D. Nickerson, 82

January 17, 2019 11:33:00 AM

Bradford D. Nickerson, 82, of Southborough, died peacefully on Saturday, January 12, 2019, at Oaknoll Healthcare Center in Framingham.

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On the market this week in Southborough

January 17, 2019 10:22:47 AM
Thumbnail image for On the market this week in Southborough

What went on and off the market this week.

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Crafternoon Clipboard Makeovers – January 30

January 16, 2019 04:55:36 PM
Thumbnail image for Crafternoon Clipboard Makeovers – January 30

The Southborough Library is hosting another free “Crafternoon” with popular crafter Mandy Roberge .

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Golf Course on schedule to reopen March 15th (if weather allows)

January 16, 2019 11:36:25 AM
Thumbnail image for Golf Course on schedule to reopen March 15th <em>(if weather allows)</em>

Last night, the Town Administrator updated the public on the status of projects at the Southborough Golf Club.

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Brush burning permits available through May 1 – New procedures for 2019

January 16, 2019 09:09:39 AM
Thumbnail image for Brush burning permits available through May 1 – New procedures for 2019

This year, the process for getting and using Open Air Burning permits has changed again.

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“What You Need to Know about Adolescent Brain Development” and risky behaviors – January 31

January 15, 2019 04:10:00 PM
Thumbnail image for “What You Need to Know about Adolescent Brain Development” and risky behaviors – January 31

An expert will address Northborough and Southborough parents this month about teen’s risk taking behaviors.

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