Town “Positivity”: Government departments share accomplishments and thanks

by beth on December 28, 2018

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At the last Board of Selectmen meeting, Chair Lisa Braccio sought to end the year on an upbeat note. Trying to focus on positivity, she asked Town departments to share their accomplishments from the year. It looks like many were happy to comply.

Town officials, committees, and departments tend to take a beating on the blog, thanks to active commenters. I’d like to end the year on a better note. So, I’m sharing their news and asking readers to only share “happy thoughts” or thanks here.*

If you want to comment to let them know that you appreciate what they do, feel free. Or if you are a Town employee or volunteer who wants to share more good news, that’s OK, too. (If you’re looking to post a gripe, please look for someplace else more appropriate to share those thoughts! I won’t be posting them here.) 

For my part – I’d like to thank the employees and volunteers who work hard for our community throughout the year. 

Now here are highlights taken from the Town’s highlights. (I’ve listed departments alphabetically. Much of the text below is in my wording unless in blockquotes.):

Facilities Department:

  • Green Communities projects at Trottier, Neary, and Finn schools and the Library. (Click here for the dedicated post with details.)
  • Installed Automated External Difibrillator devices at Town Hall, Library, Cordaville Hall (aka Senior Center), DPW and South Union buildings. Employees were offered training on the devices.
  • Hired an engineering firm to study the Library’s water infiltration issue.
  • Installed underground electrical conduit at Town Hall for future installation of emergency generator.
  • Remodeled various offices at Town Hall, Cordaville Hall, and South Union building.

Library:

The flood that closed off the downstairs since late August has put a strain on the staff. Children’s Librarian Kim Ivers reported an upside:

The children’s room staff is now working alongside the upstairs adult section staff while the renovations are taking place downstairs. I cannot say enough about how accommodating the staff members have been, from making space for children’s items, to helping us with our own space needs. There are a lot of us currently working in a small space, and thanks to the flexibility of the upstairs desk staff, this has been a wonderful teamwork experience.

Despite flood issues, the Library was able to continue its regular story times, baby/toddler times, and most of its regular programming for kids. Parties were a bigger challenge and therefore bigger success:

Fay School was very generous in providing space for the Halloween party, and we were able to combine our craft/game/Halloween story time with Fay’s Halloween parade (though due to weather their outdoor events had to be canceled). We had over 220 children and families and the event went so well that we have discussed partnering again next year! We also held our annual Christmas tree decorating party on the same day as Santa arriving by helicopter as we always do. I was not sure of how attendance would be due to the fact that the children’s collection is currently so limited, but with almost 200 children and their parents here to decorate the tree, it was one of our best attended Christmas decorating parties ever. We very much appreciate the support of the Friends of the Southborough Library by providing refreshments for this event, as well as purchasing a new Christmas tree for the library to replace the previous one that was falling apart.

In programming for tweens – adults, the Library was proud of these new events in 2018:

  • Strawberry Social 2.0 – Over 200 people showed up for the free strawberry shortcakes and treats, some making donations to Friends of the Library. (Thanks to support from new Trustee Kim Regan who helped oversee volunteers and from Friends member Diana Tremblay and her daughter Michelle for providing the strawberries. The event was co-sponsored by Trustees, Southborough Rotary, and the Friends.)
  • Competitive Gingerbread House event for tweens
  • Ballroom Dancing – The pilot instruction session was a success. (Click here to view a video clip)

But the biggest accomplishment Library Director Ryan Donovan wanted to share was their new hire, Assistant Director Aileen Sanchez-Himes:

She has infused passion and professional enthusiasm for me and the rest of the library’s staff. She is going to bring our teen services to where they need to be in the next few years. It’s amazing to note that she hasn’t even been here 6 months yet. It feels like longer in the best way possible.

Planning Department/Board:

Open Space Inspections & Monitoring Pilot Program

Planning worked with MA Audubon on a Pilot Program to establish a monitoring process of the Town’s open space areas for compliance with Planning approvals. The Deed Research Database was utilized for open space information and a short Open Space Monitoring Report form was created. The Form is both self-explanatory and easy to use; can be prepared in the office and completed with a field inspection. The report is divided into six section: Property Identification, Open Space Requirements, Site Conditions, Photos, Maps and Notes. of open space areas in the Town. A sample of 5 locations from a variety of developments with designated open space areas were selected, specific location monitoring forms were populated with information followed by field inspections performed by MA Audubon. After presenting the information to the Planning Board and receiving feedback from the Open Space Preservation Commission, MA Audubon prepared a summary report on this initial phase of the Program and incorporated suggestions for a Final Monitoring Form. Pending available funding, the next phase will be to determine an on-going schedule for the process, tasking of operations, continue to establish base Monitoring Reports, and establish a mitigation approach for non-compliance with open space restrictions.

Site Plan Process Study

Planning worked with Barrett Planning Group LLC to complete a study of the Site Plan process of eight other towns comparable to Southborough. The study provided findings and details, similarities and differences, in how towns manage site plan review as well as differences in the site plan bylaws and Planning Board regulations. Site Plan Process Data Sheets were competed for the designated towns and decisions from a three year time period were reviewed which culminated in a spreadsheet of information including number of site plan decisions, timelines, staffing/decision process, granting authorities, appeal process, permit lapse times, procedures for filing and modifications, basically the site plan process from start to finish. The goal was to provide the Planning Board with insight into other local procedures, effectiveness and using this information to enhance Southborough’s process.

Police Department:

Chief Paulhus took a chronological approach with his highlights:

January – Business Resource Officers conducted another round of in person meetings and survey letters.

February 7th-We were given our Certification Award from MPAC. The second step in the Accreditation Process.

February 15th – Special Olympics Polar Plunge participation by Officers Nichols and Woodford at Trottier Middle School.

February 18th – Blue Mass at St. Matthew’s conducted by our Police Chaplain, Father James Flynn.

April 3rd – School Safety Forum Meeting at Algonquin Regional High School.

May 8th – Info. Session on Laws and Bylaws conducted at the Senior Center for the holders of Town Alcohol Licenses.

May 22nd – Special Olympics Events and Award Ceremonies attended by multiple Department members in Marlborough.

June 23rd – Officer Landry conducted a 90 minute workshop on personal safety techniques on “Armed Active Intruder” for citizens at Trottier Middle School.

July – Took part in the BORO’S Youth Police Academy.

Sept. 23rd – Participated in the Jimmy Fund Walk.

October – Pink Patch Project raised almost 4,000.00 dollars for Breast Cancer Awareness Month through the work of Patrolman John Officer and the Police Union.

October 3rd – Participated in Coffee With a Cop Day.

October 5th-Officer Richardson graduates from D.A.R.E. Certification School. He will start the fifth grade program in January. Officer Landry will take over newly expanded seventh grade program

October 24th – Awarded Full Accreditation Status by MPAC.

October 27th – Announced participation through a grant in the BORO’S Jail Diversion Program focusing on increased training, and work with a dedicated clinician for the mentally ill.

December 18th – Conducted Toy Drive for ill children at Tuft’s Floating Hospital for Children.

Technology Department:

  • Issued email accounts to 55 board/committee members for conducting official business. (The first phase in a multi-year plan to provide all members with a Town account.)
  • Intalled first segments of a private fiber network, improving connection between buildings and reducing operating expenses by over $500 per month. Originally intended to replace a leased connection between Cordaville Hall and the Town House, it was expanded to include the Library (and will include the future Public Safety building). 
  • Launched new online permitting system for the Building Department in October, with planned launch for the Fire Department in Dec/early January. (Additional departments will be incorporated in coming months/years.)
  • Migrated external websites (including Trails Committee, Advisory, and the Police Dept.) to the Town’s official site, southboroughtown.com

Senior Center

Thank you to the Southborough Community Fund for providing funding for the Senior Center’s Caregiver Meals Support Program for those full time caregivers who work so hard to support their spouse or parent. This is the third year of the program and this year they increased the funding to cover additional households

*I reached out to Braccio for her notes she used at the meeting, which she happily shared. I also followed up directly with some of the department heads who emailed her to get original text to copy and paste.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Concerned Voter December 29, 2018 at 4:14 PM

Many thanks to the BOS chair for her efforts. She gives everything she has to this town. Thanks also to all of those who serve this Town tirelessly, with decency and honesty. As for those who pay attention and take the time out of their out busy lives to blog and give this website meaningful food for thought, those citizens must be thanked as well for their thoughtful comments. Also, lastly many thanks and deep appreciation to Beth, for all the hard work running this blog throughout the year, allowing a spin-free zone for expression of thought without censoring comments and allowing all opinions to flourish.

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