Selectman Candidates’ Question of the Week: ‘Why Are You Running?’

Photo: Andy Rojas.

Beginning today and on every Wednesday leading up the Town Election on Tuesday, April 7, the Belmontonian will be asking a “Question of the Week” to the candidates running for a seat on the Board of Selectmen: incumbent Andy Rojas and Glenn Road resident Jim Williams.

This weekly feature will allow the candidates seeking a three-year term on the board to answer topical questions concerning Belmont and help demonstrate their ability to lead the town.

This week’s question: Why are you running for selectman?

The position of the answers will alternate each week with Rojas having the top spot this week.

Andy Rojas

I am running for re-election as Belmont Selectman to build on my first term achievements — significant results based on an in-depth understanding of the job, experienced leadership and excellent community-Selectman communications.

Belmont is truly a wonderful town but, in common with other towns, it faces many challenges ranging from the effects of increased use of town and school services, to the need for thoughtful residential and commercial development that preserves our green space. These challenges require experienced leadership, in-depth knowledge and skills in many areas — not merely a focus on one or two issues. I bring the right qualifications to the table.

My wife, Allison Miele Rojas and I have lived in Belmont for over 20 years. This is where we raised our two children both of whom are graduates of Belmont High School. Our son, Samuel, is a senior at St. Michael’s College. Our daughter, Lucy, is a sophomore at the University of Hartford. Smudge, our pug, rounds out the family.

Allison and I own Rojas Design, Inc., an architectural firm. I am a professional landscape architect with significant, sustainable building and site design experience. Allison is an experienced interior architect who is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional.

I have a Master of Landscape Architecture from Harvard University, studied Real Estate Development & Management at the Harvard Business School, received a Bachelor of Media Arts (Honorary) from the Massachusetts Communication College, and have a Bachelor of Science from the City College of New York School of Architecture.

My extensive knowledge of the issues that Belmont faces comes not just from living here for many years but from actual service to the town. This service includes, but is not limited to:

• Board of Selectmen — 2012 – present, Chair, April, 2014 – present;

• Warrant Committee — 2014 – present;

• Community Preservation Committee — 2012 – present;

• Planning Board — 2006 -2012, Vice Chair — 2010 – 2012;

• Capital Projects Overview Committee — 2007 – 2009;

• Capital Endowment Committee — 2012 – present;

• Benton Branch Library Re-Use Committee — 2007 – 2010;

• Police Station Feasibility Committee — 2007 – 2008;

• Harvard Lawn Fire Station Re-Use Committee — Chair – 2006 – 2007;

• Shade Tree Committee — 2005 – 2012;

• Town Meeting Member — 2007 – present; and,

• Coach for Belmont Youth Basketball and Baseball teams.

Allison and I have made it a practice to use our professional expertise to help the town. We’ve donated professional design services to the Butler School Playground, the Belmont High School Language Lab as well as the Winn Brook School Basketball Courts. I introduced the Grove Street Playground Master Plan concept and advocated for the study that is currently underway.

I have the experience, proven leadership, demonstrated commitment and knowledge of Belmont needed to meet the challenges we face. I respectfully ask for your vote for Selectman on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. Thank you.

Jim Williams

Dear fellow Belmontonians, did you know that Belmont’s Management states in the current Annual Report that our town does not have the reserves necessary to “meet its ongoing short and long term obligations to its citizens or its creditors”? 

Did you know that we will need to come up with  nearly an additional  $400 million over the next 13 years to meet these obligations unless we change our financial strategies?

Did you know that the current $4.5 million override proposal is inadequate to meet the current scheduled unfunded pension assessments beyond 2019 and that another even larger override will be needed to cover the remaining payments thru 2028?

Did you know that the Town projects costs of a new high school, a new police station, and a new DPW Facility to be an additional $200 million which makes “planned” expenditures  total $600 million under current strategies? 

If you don’t,  you are in the majority and it’s not surprising since Town Management has not engaged us in a frank discussion of these looming obligations as they developed or  provided sensible  and timely strategies to address them.   

It should be clear that something’s going to have to give as  this plan  and its expenses are just simply too large for the Town to pay, incur or otherwise undertake with its $100 million in annual revenues. Also, it should be clear that it  can no longer be  resolved with  just overrides and/or service cuts (i.e. “cans kicked down the road.”)
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Jim Williams

I am running for Selectman because I think I have real solutions for the Town. What we need to do is to issue a 20-year bond in 2015 to pay off the pension liability which will return the scheduled pension  payments to the operating and capital budgets thru 2028; fund the healthcare retirement obligation with $2.5 million annually beginning in 2015 and control expense increases  going forward to less than three percent per year.
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By taking these three actions, we can resolve this crisis. Since the current Board has put a $4.5 million override on the ballot, our choice is to approve it or to face further service cuts. I recommend that you consider approving the proposed override to avoid the threatened services cuts.  By doing this, we can repurpose those funds provided  as we implement a more serious plan to resolve our very real financial difficulties and return the Town to fiscal stability.
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I don’t think of my candidacy as running against Andy, Mark, or Sami. Instead, I want to make sure Belmont remains a great town with level one schools for our children, roads that do not require slalom driving, great recreational opportunities and a green policy that makes us part of the solution to the climate change. This election is critical to the Town’s financial stability.  If you are as concerned as I am, please vote for the override, support my campaign and vote for Jim Williams on April 7th.

Schools Budget Deficit Fix: Teacher Layoffs, Increased Class Sizes, Lost Ground

Photo: The Wellington Elementary School will lose a third-grade teacher with the acceptance of the available revenue budget in fiscal year 2016.

When asked her reaction to the presentation by Belmont School Superintendent John Phelan on the details of cuts facing the district, Jamie Shea at first just shook her head.

For Shea and others who attended the Belmont School Committee meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 24, the impact on education in bridging the anticipated $1.7 million facing the district in the coming fiscal year was akin to listening to an eulogy for the reputation of a proud district.

“It’s extremely sobering to hear the potential cuts we all are facing,” said Shea, who is the current president of the Foundation for Belmont Education, the group that supports excellence and enrichment in Belmont’s six schools.

“It would be transformative to the district. It will impact every single student in the district. Every single one,” she said.

Phelan said the district – which he has been in charge since July – will not be the same to the one which many families moved to Belmont to attend.

“The Belmont Public Schools will struggle deeply to meet the expectations of their students and families that they so rightly deserve. If there were a headline from this presentation, it would be ‘Available Budget Impact Students Experiences Negatively,” Phelan told the Belmontonian after the meeting.

The cuts are necessary due to a historic surge in enrollment, higher expenditures for special education and unfunded state mandates.

During Tuesday meeting, Phelan walked the committee and residents through the components in each school group – elementary, middle school and high school – where savings will be made.

The cuts, which were compiled by the Leadership Council – made up of school principals, senior staff and curriculum directors – are significant and deep by most measures.

(The presentation can be found on the school district’s website.)

Most of the retrenchment, $1.3 million, will come in personnel with the elimination of 22 full-time equivalent professional positions, with the remaining amount coming in less support for instructional material, personal development and facilities and increase fees for student actives and full-day kindergarten.
The cuts include:

  • In the elementary schools, the elimination of more than seven aides, the Butler, Burbank and Wellington will lose guidance counselors, a reduction in music education and physical education and the firing of a third grade teacher at the Wellington.
  • At the Chenery, there will be wholesale cuts to the long-standing team teaching model in English, math, science social studies and world language in sixth through eighth grades, the eliminate of all eighth grade music and art electives, cutting sections of small group reading and a large reduction in library services.
  • Belmont High School will see the elimination of English, math, social studies and fine and performing arts teacher while all the World Language teachers will be reduced to part-timers.

District wide, the science director will be let go as will a preschool teacher. A reduction of instructional material and supplies, facilities, and professional development while student and rental fees are increased.

In total, Belmont will lose more than 14 teaching positions and nearly ten aides.

For classroom teachers, the cuts will fundamentally change the relationship with their students, said John Sullivan, the president of the Belmont Education Association, which represents Belmont teachers and aides in salary negotiations.

“You can’t get to know [your students] personally, to know when they are upset about something and then reach out to support them. It changes the entire student experience,” said the Belmont resident who teaches at Belmont High School.

While the cuts in teaching staff and other savings will drain the system of its red ink, the impact on students will be significant, said Phelan. For example:

  • Three of every four elementary students, about 1,300, will be in taught in classes exceeding the school committee’s guidelines for effective education.
  • Junior and seniors in high school – more than 600 pupils currently enrolled – will be limited to five courses in a seven-course schedule.
  • The average class size for math and English at the high school will be more than 27, effecting 1,250 students.
  • More than 300 seniors will be unable to take courses that will impact their chances being accepted at high-performing colleges and universities.
  • More than 300 students in the middle school will be heading to study halls due to the cuts in fine and performing arts.

The cut of the science director will seriously delay the district’s plan to move forward with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math)-related courses which national leaders are calling crucial for all citizens to know.

And the loss of aides and guidance councilors in the four elementary schools will reduce the effectiveness of the district’s Response to Intervention services that identifies educational challenges for young students as well as addressing the social and emotional needs of students.

The magnitude of the cuts was unsettling for those who oversee education in Belmont.

“I think it has the potential to really decimate the system,” said Laurie Slap, School Committee Chair.

“What struck me was that one of our colleagues said that it was so sad to see educational opportunities just shrink for our students from K to 12 especially in the high school. Five courses? That isn’t what anyone expects from this district.”

Phelan said the district, and especially Belmont High School, has been worn down over time by trimming courses and reducing staff. With this major hit

“The reductions we are proposing and the elimination of positions are rooted in the methodology in what we need to do first and what we would like to do second. Our ‘likes to do’ are now are stables and cores – the everyday things – in districts that surround us. We will lose even more ground with the proposed budget,” said Phelan.

For Phelan, the School Committee and many attending the meeting, the only way to preserve the district’s reputation is for the passage of a $4.5 million Proposition 2 1/2 override recommended by the Financial Task Force in January.

“I support the Task Force’s recommendation for the fiscal health of the entire town. If that fiscal health is brought back to a certain level through an injection of funds that goes to sidewalks streets police, fire, and schools, the whole town is a better place,” said Phelan.

At the end of the meeting, Slap said that everyone in town needs to know what the choices they face and everyone needs to get informed to understand what the cuts means to the district.

“It’s important that people get informed and understand what the reductions will bring if we do not pass the … override and get to the polls,” Shea told the Belmontonian.

“Hopefully we can get a coalition of different coalition of different constituent groups that can work cooperatively to make sure our students get the best education they can,” said Sullivan.

A Hoop ‘Sleeper’ Set to Put Opponents to Bed in Sectionals

Photo: Melissa Hart, Belmont High Girls head coach, at practice on Monday, Feb. 24.

In his preview of the MIAA state tournament, the Boston Herald’s High School Insider blogger Danny Ventura rates both the Belmont High School Boys’ and Girls’ teams as the “sleeper” teams of the MIAA Div. 2 North sectional playoffs that began Monday.

After being told her team is being described by that term, Melissa Hart, head coach of the Belmont High Girls squad, gave a quizzical look.

“I’m going to have to look up the definition of ‘sleeper team’,” said Hart as her team enters the tournament as the fifth seed and will play Danvers in the first round on Tuesday, Feb. 24.

For ESPN commentator Dick Vitale, a classic sleeper team in the NCAA tourney “is a team seeded fifth or lower in the bracket” that “are dangerous … capable of making deep runs in the big dance.” Ready for the upset, he said.

But Hart wonders if her team, which  should be considered as not as strong as the teams they are meeting in the playoffs. The Girls lost four of six games to undefeated or one loss teams and the other two times to teams in the Div. 1 playoffs.

“I mean, no one necessarily expects us to win but could?” said Hart. “No respect. That’s fine,” she added.

Hart’s team is coming off a great campaign that is sparked by a unrelenting defense and, especially in the final six games which it went 5-1, where the team’s outside shooting began falling. In fact, the possible second round game for Belmont could be a rematch against Bedford, which the Marauders beat by 12 points in a post-season tournament last week.

Despite having the same record and defeating the Buccaneers head-to-head, Belmont was made the lower seed after a coin-flip by the MIAA, preventing Belmont from hosting a second playoff game.

At practice Monday, the mood was upbeat as the girls were going through drills on specific points that Hart felt needed to “correct.”

“I think we’re a threat,” said Hart, pointing out how well balanced the team is – Hart regularly uses nine players in a game –   and a good make up of strong inside players – led by senior center Linda Herlihy and scoring leader Elena Bragg – and tough-noise guards with senior Sophia Eschenbach-Smith and freshman Carly Christofori.

“We have a good make up and that allows us to get away with having one player not having a great night. It doesn’t hurt you that much,” said Hart.

As practice ends, Hart believes being a sleeper could be an advantage in the playoffs.

“So we can be pretty dangerous when everything is working for us and it has in the past two weeks,” she said.

Snow Totals Bust Town’s Snow Removal Budget and Its Snowblower

Photo: A cry of desperation on a snow bank at Belmont Center. 

Just how bad has the recent spate of snowstorms and blizzards been in Belmont?

It defeated the town’s brand new snowblower.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen could only shake their heads as Town Administrator David Kale revealed the machine recently purchased for the Department of Public Works for approximately $87,500 to clear town-owned and school sidewalks and other locations finally met its match after the third of four snow storms piled nearly 90 inches of snow on the town.

Lucky, the machine has “returned to service,” Kale told the Selectmen at its meeting on Monday night, Feb. 23.

Unfortunately, there is no fixing the busted budget for snow removal the town is facing. According to Kale, with payments for three of the four storms already in, the town’s expenses for plowing streets and removing snow has topped $1.1 million, nearly double the $600,000 allocated for the job in the fiscal 2015 budget.

The amount also exceeds the entire $400,000 general reserve account held by the Warrant Committee to resolve shortages for all of the town’s departments and the schools.

This comes at a time when the school budget is running a $500,000 shortfall in its current budget due to a spike in special education costs and higher enrollment.

The town has applied for Federal Emergency Management Authority monies to pay for the first storm that hit the region in January, yet any funds from Washington would likely come after the close of the fiscal year, said Kale.

The most likely course of action will for the town to going before Town Meeting in June to request a one-time transfer to cover the deficit using “free cash,” what Kale has called the town’s “savings account.”

“Free cash” is unspent money remaining at the end of the fiscal year including from budget line-items and any greater than expected tax or fee receipts.

In the past five years, the town’s free cash account has grown from around $2 million to $6.2 million in fiscal ’15.

Because the town hopes to keep the snow removal deficit in the $525,000 range, Kale said requests by business groups to remove the large snow mounts abutting sidewalks and making commerce difficult can not occur.

Obituary: Anne Allen, a Belmont ‘Matriarch’, Dies at 86.

Anne Allen, known as one of Belmont’s “matriarchs” who donated her family’s land to the town to preserve open space, died on Feb. 20, 2015.

She was 86.

A memorial service will take place on Feb. 27, which would have been Allen’s 87th birthday. The Belmont Board of Selectmen held a moment of silence in her memory at its Monday meeting, Feb. 23.

“Anne, or as we called her, Annie, was a gentle kind person who was always willing to help on any board that she served,” said Maryann Scali, a long-time friend and fellow Town Meeting member. 

“She was a friendly neighbor who welcomed people to stop by and say ‘hello’,” Scali said. “Her home was always filled with family and friends and was the proverbial meeting place for many organizations.”

Born in Cambridge, Anne was the youngest of four children of William and Helen (Atkins) Claflin, and the granddaughter of Edwin Atkins, the sugar tycoon who owned a great number of plantations in Cuba. 

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Anne Allen, (sitting on the lawn) as a child in the late-1930s with her family.

She and her siblings were raised at 531 Concord Ave., the prominent Elisha Atkins house built in 1840, and in the summers in Marion on Buzzards Bay. She was educated in private schools and attended college in California.

Allen married Eugene F. Allen who died several years ago. They did not have children together. She lived for many years at 580 Concord Ave., just down the road from her family’s homestead. She also lived for many years in Winchester.

Allen holds the distinction of being one of the first licensed occupational therapist in Massachusetts, issued license number 4.

Taking after her mother – who died in 1991 – Allen was interested in both the town and its governance. She “proudly served” 14 years as a Town Meeting member (see was re-elected in 2014) and was a member of the Belmont Women’s Club, Belmont Historical Society, Belmont Garden Club, the Belmont League of Women Voters, Friends of the McLean Hospital and Habitat for Humanities.

“She was very effective as a member of many ‘nominating committees’; when she asked you, you could not say ‘no’,” said Scali, who said one of her last requests was to be sure someone would continue observing the Belmont Housing Committee for the League of Women Voters in her place.

Her most prominent and permanent contribution to Belmont came in 2004 when she worked in collaboration with the Belmont Land Trust to preserve the “Maple Allee,” five acres of undeveloped land between Concord Avenue and Somerset Street. In 2012, land donated by Allen’s sister, Katherine Weeks, was combined and is now linked to both the 88-acre in the Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary as well as the 120 acres of town-owned land known as Rock Meadow and Lone Tree Hill.

“Open Space was a passion and she worked to preserved  open space wherever she could,” said Scali. 

Twice Allen was honored with the Historical Society’s David R. Johnson Preservation Award for the preservation of the Atkins-Claflin family greenhouse (used by the Garden Club for many years) and of the land surrounding her home at 580 Concord Ave.

She leaves sisters Katharine (Kitty) Weeks of Belmont and Helen C. Spring of Concord (she is predeceased by her brother, William H. Claflin, III) and 23 nieces and nephews and numerous grandnieces and grandnephews.

Allen’s Memorial Service will be held at First Church, Belmont, Unitarian, 404 Concord Ave. on Friday Feb. 27 at  11:30  a.m. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Anne’s memory to Seasons Hospice Foundation, 275 Grove St. Ste. 3-102, Newton, Mass 02466 or to the Belmont Historical Society, 336 Concord Ave. Belmont, Mass 02478, would be sincerely appreciated.  Arrangements by Short, Williamson & Diamond Funeral Home, Belmont.

Belmont’s New ‘Smart 911’ Now Ready for Residents

A new free service is now in place to provide detailed information from residents to dispatchers as soon as a 911 call is placed.

As reported in the Belmontonian back in January, Smart911 is a national service that allows citizens to create a free Safety Profile for their household that includes data they want 911 and first responders to have in the event of an emergency. 

Beginning this week, residents can visit to sign up and create a free Safety Profile for their household, providing information such as the names and photos of family members, health conditions, medications, pets in the home, vehicle details and emergency contacts.

All information in each profile is voluntary, and each household can determine what details are important to include, as each household is different and therefore the potential rescue needs will also vary.

The information is also available to public safety departments across the country which uses the Smart911 system, allowing first responders to know about allergies and pre-existing conditions for those with a profile.


Look Who’s Running: Town-Wide, Town Meeting Candidates on the Ballot

The “almost” final list of candidates on the 2015 Belmont Town Election has been released by Town Clerk Ellen Cushman on Monday, Feb. 23, with the hopeful trend of increased participation for those seeking to become Town Meeting members.

The list is not yet a final because residents have until Thursday, March 5 to withdraw their candidacy by writing to Cushman.

The list of all candidates, both town-wide and for Town Meeting, can be found here at the Town Clerk’s web site.

In town-wide races, only the seat on the Belmont Board of Selectmen is being contested with incumbent Andy Rojas being challenged by Town Meeting Member Jim Williams.

Cushman said she is encouraged by the number of candidates for Town Meeting, with six of the town’s eight precinct with the requisite 12 candidates on the ballot. And of the two that failed to reach the dozen candidates, both precincts 3 and 7 – notorious for seeing seats go up for grabs – will only see a single three-year seat go down to write-in votes.

And if anyone in precincts 5, 6 or 7 is looking for a quick way onto Town Meeting, there are no candidates for the partial term seats last two to one year. Each of those seven seats will be filled either by write-ins or at precinct meetings before May’s Town Meeting.

Precinct 1: 15 candidates (10 seeking re-election, 3 newcomers) for three-year terms.

Precinct 2: 12 candidates (9 re-election, 3 newcomers) for three-year terms.

Precinct 3: 11 candidates (7 re-election, 4 newcomers) for three-year terms.

Precinct 4: 14 candidates (10 re-election, 4 newcomers) for three-year terms.

Precinct 5: 13 candidates (11 re-election, 2 newcomers) for three-year terms. No candidates for a one-year term.

Precinct 6: 13 candidates (10 re-election, 3 newcomers) for three-year terms. No candidates for a one-year term or a two-year term.

Precinct 7: 11 candidates (7 re-election, 4 newcomers) for three-year terms. No candidates for four, two-year terms.

Precinct 8: 12 candidates (9 re-election, 3 newcomers) for three-year terms. One candidate for one, one-year term.

This Week: Lots to Do Throughout the Next Five Days in Belmont

On the government side of This Week:

  • The Belmont Board of Selectmen is meeting Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall to speak to State Rep. Dave Rogers and to hear a request for a beer and wine license at Jimmy’s Food Mart (the former Shore Drug site) near the corner of School and Belmont streets.
  • The Zoning Board of Appeals is in session on Monday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Gallery of Art, third floor of the Homer Building, Town Hall complex, where it will take up a special permit for a family day-care center on Ridge Road and permission to allow construction parking on the Belmont Uplands.
  • The Belmont School Committee is meeting Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School where they will discuss the specific classes and positions where 22 full-time staff and teachers will be cut to meet a possible $1.7 million deficit under the current fiscal ’16 available revenue budget.
  • The Planning Board is holding a public meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall on several potential zoning by-law changes including a moratorium on “McMansions” in the Shaw Estates neighborhood near the Grove Street Playground and to allow single-family homes on lots of less than 5,000 sq.-ft. lots in general residence (GR) districts. If the Board can not finish the meeting on Wednesday, it will continue on Thursday, Feb. 26.
  • The Capital Budget Committee will discuss its fiscal 2016 list of goodies on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. in Town Hall.

• The Belmont Farmers Market planning meeting will be taking place in the Flett Room of the Belmont Public Library from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 23

• The Beech Street Center presents Richard J. Castino will present a video and speak on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. about how a home can be modified to allow elders and those with physical challenges to remain independent and safe. Castino is a licensed construction supervisor in Watertown, who is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist, a designation from the National Association of Homebuilders.

• The Belmont Art Association will be holding its monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 24 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Belmont Public Library’s Flett Room.

• The fifth-seed Belmont High School Girls’ Basketball team (14-6) will host Danvers in the first-round of the MIAA Div. 2 North sectional championships on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in the Wenner Field House.

• The Belmont Historical Society presents McLean Hospital archivist Terry Alan Bragg for a talk on “The History of McLean Hospital” in the Assembly Room of the Belmont Public Library on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. 

• The Belmont High School Boys’ Hoopsters will take on Winchester (for the third time this season) at the Wenner Field House on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. in the first round of the first-round of the MIAA Div. 2 North sectional championships

• The Belmont Stormwater Working Group is meeting on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Public Library’s Flett Room. 

Belmont Police Lt. Kristin Daley will shares information about protecting yourself from financial predators at the Beech Street Center on Friday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. 

• The Belmont Public Library is holding its monthly OTAKUrabu program. Watch anime, do a craft/activity, plan for future events and nibble on some Japanese snacks (while they last – they’ll go fast) on Friday, Feb. 27 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Assembly Room. Provided to you for free, thanks to the Friends of the Belmont Public Library. Just drop in, no registration required.

The 4th-ranked Watertown/Belmont high schools combined Girls’ Ice Hockey team (18-3-1) will host the winner of the Andover/Billerica preliminary round match on Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Ryan Rink in Watertown. What time? They aren’t saying just yet.

Belmont Teen Arrested by Boston Police on Gun Charges

Photo: The weapon recovered by Boston Police allegedly in the possession of a Belmont teen who is currently under arrest.

An 18-year-old Belmont resident was arrested by Boston Police early Saturday morning, Feb. 21, on gun charges after allegedly threatening a group of young people on the street with a high-caliber handgun.

Kenneth Madden, 18, was attested by Boston Police officers assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force on Dudley Street at around 2:27 a.m. after he allegedly threatened a group of young people with a gun. After witnessing a group of about 20 young people running from what appeared to be an altercation, officers were told a young man had pointed a weapon at them.

Officers saw Madden, who matched the description given by witnesses, allegedly place “something” inside a car while in the company of several individuals who “appeared to have been involved in an altercation given the fact that several appeared to be bruised and bleeding,” according the police incident report.

A search of the vehicle enabled officers to locate and seize a loaded firearm – identified later as a Sig Sauer SP2022 Semi-automatic – under the front driver’s seat.

Madden is charged with Unlawful Possession of Firearm, Unlawful Possession of Ammunition, Possession of Firearm with Altered Serial Number, Possession of a Loaded Firearm and Possession of a High Capacity Feeding Device.

As of Sunday, the Suffolk County District Attorney has not said when Madden will appear in District Court.

Belmont Boys’, Girls’ Hoops Begin Sectional Playoffs With Home Games

Both the Belmont Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball teams will begin the 2015 Div. 2 North sectional playoffs with home games as the Marauders squads have secured top seeds.

The fifth-ranked Girls (14-6) will take on Danvers (10-10), the 12th and final seed in the tournament in a first-round game at Wenner Field House on Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. 

If the Marauders advance, they will take on 4th-seed Bedford (14-6) in the quarterfinals on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. at Bedford in a rematch of their game last week in the Spartan Tournament in Lynn where Belmont used a 26-point second quarter to defeat the Buccaneers, 61-48.

The Marauders are in the same half of the tournament as undefeated Watertown (18-0) which they would meet in the semi-finals.

The sixth-ranked Boys (15-7) will start the playoffs meeting meeting 11th-seed Winchester (12-8) for the third time – having won the two previous games – this season at the Wenner on Wednesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. By winning, the Marauders will take on the winner of the third-seed Tewksbury and either Melrose or Gloucester who meet in a preliminary game.