Belmont High Students Make A Statement With A Shirt

Photo: Maya Vernick designing her statement.

Back in 2004 when she was a sophomore at Belmont High School, Jesse Mattleman came up with an event she hoped her fellow students could use to promote their hopes and wishes.

On Thursday, Mattleman returned to BHS to see the success that gathering had become.

“Make a Statement Day,” held on March 16 this year, is when students and teachers decorate basic white T-shirts with art, designs, opinions, beliefs, or a favorite quote which they wear the next day during the school day.

Some of the designs and statements are fun and inspiring, and others serious with a definite declaration of critical issues to the participants.

“It’s a chance to show everyone in the school who you really are,” said Devan O’Toole, senior class president, and this year’s event co-leader.

Sophomore Maya Vernick selected a quote from the Dr. Suess book “The Lorax.” 

“It’s about protecting the environment which I want to be associated with,” said Vernick.

On the other end of the cafeteria, junior Barbara Joseph was writing a slogan on her shirt, “Hella Black, Hella Proud.” 

“The connotation of being black is usually a negative one. My shirt is telling all my friends that are black that they shouldn’t be ashamed of the skin tone they are. That it’s a badge of honor,” she said. 

Others were of a whimsical bent such as Aidan Carey’s which appeared to be a math equation.

“I don’t think I can explain the meaning of the shirt,” said Carey, since when deciphered, it revealed a   profane command to leave. 

“I like the stupidity of what it really means, but how it looks so complicated,” he said, noting his shirt last year was also a pun-filled math equation. 

It is just those examples of self-expression that Mattleman was seeking to encourage when she first proposed the concept a decade and a half ago.

“It was started not just to express yourself, but to promote social issues and what students were passionate about and bring it into a conversation,” said Mattleman who today is Foundation & Corporate Relations Manager for YW Boston.

“It is a time for sparking those meaningful conversations and thinking about social justice that school sometimes doesn’t allow for,” she said.

Mattleman remembered a classmate student used the event to revealed his sexuality on his T-shirt.  

“It brought the whole purpose into such focus for me,” she said.

“It was such a straightforward message, but it must have been hard to do it to their peers or in person. So it was very powerful to see it written and have that [student’s] identity out in the world. It has been liberating and scary, but it was also courageous,” said Mattleman.

IMG_9058 IMG_9061 IMG_9062 IMG_9063 IMG_9067 IMG_9069 IMG_9073 IMG_9078 IMG_9090 IMG_9094 IMG_9097

Sports: Four Belmont B-Ballers Named League All-Stars; A Banner Day For Girls’ Hoops

Photo: Banner day for Girls’ Basketball. (Photo courtesy Paula Christofori)

Four Belmont High basketball players were named 2016-17 all-stars by the coaches of the Middlesex League.

Junior point guard Carly Christofori (named to her second all-star team), junior forward Jenny Call and sophomore off guard Megan Tan were named to the girls’ team while senior forward Paul Ramsey was placed on the boys’ all-star squad.

The girls’ team also earned the honor of hanging a league title banner in the Wenner Field House as co-champions of the Middlesex Liberty division finishing the season with a 17-5 record.

All That Jazz: BHS PAC Presents the Musical ‘Chicago’ March 23,24,25

Photo: The poster of the show.

The Belmont High School Performing Arts Company is about to give the audience the old razzle dazzle as they present a sordid tale of fame, fortune, murder and all that jazz as it presents the 2017 Spring musical, “Chicago.”

Now on Broadway for its 20th revival year, Chicago tells the tale of Roxie Hart who murdered her lover only to be saved from the gallows by the slick defense attorney Billy Flynn. Don’t miss the PAC’s production of one of America’s most iconic musicals. Outstanding music by Kanter and Ebb, sensational dance and a thrilling story make this a show you won’t want to miss.

Performances are at the Belmont High School auditorium:

  • Thursday, March 23 at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 25 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Adults: $15 in advance, $18 at the door 
Students: $10 ($5 for students on Thursday!)

Letter to the Editor: Carbone No Stranger to Smart Governance

Photo: Guy Carbone

To the editor:

I urge you to vote for Guy Carbone for Selectman on April 4.     

Guy is a former Watertown resident who served two terms as Selectman and three terms as School Committee member. Because of this, he is no stranger to what it takes to have smart and efficient town governance. 

Belmont faces many capital project needs, including a new high school, police station, and library. Guy has the engineering and legal experience, knowledge, and resources to help Belmont tackle these projects pragmatically without overburdening the town any more than necessary. 

Guy is already hard at work exploring creative ways the town can move forward with its capital project needs. His suggestion that the Board of Selectmen explore the use of public-private partnerships to help the town build a new skating rink and library is an example of the creative yet fiscally responsible solutions he can bring to Belmont as your Selectmen. His years of engineering experience applied to actual developments will be a real asset as Belmont deal with projects like Cushing Village.  

Guy has an incredible work ethic. I know he will dedicate every waking moment to serving Belmont.

Of the many reasons I support Guy, it is his heartfelt desire to ease the burdens many singles and families in Belmont bear as a result of high taxes and rents that resonate with me. So many young families and seniors are leaving Belmont because they just can’t afford it anymore. This is truly saddening and not what I imagine most of us want to see happen in our town. 

Guy Carbone is the right person at the right time. Please make sure to vote on April 4 and when you do, vote for Guy Carbone for Selectman.

Silvia Cruz

Winslow Road

Stand Up to Bullying: Bystander Intervention Workshop This Saturday

Photo: Poster

Witnessing a person – particularly a stranger – being harassed can be an uncomfortable or confusing experience for many people. Without having a strategy to safely de-escalate a situation or to support the person being attacked, many people choose to not intervene.

To provide people with the appropriate tools in this scenario, The Stand Up Campaign and the Belmont Council on Aging will co-sponsor an interactive workshop, Bystander Invention WorkshopWhat You Can Do When Witnessing Harassment on Saturday, March 18 from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.

The Stand Up Campaign, a program partner of Belmont Against Racism, promotes kindness, respect, and civil communication.

The workshop content will be led by experienced actors from an Arlington-based theater group, True Story Theater, who will improvise realistic situations and lead participants in role play scenarios.

The workshop is non-political and non-partisan and is appropriate for ages 16 years and older. The event is free, but registration is required here.

For questions, contact Donna Ruvolo at or 617-489-5446.

Town Meeting ’17: Four Citizens’ Petitions Include Welcoming Town, Pay-to-Throw, 5 Selectmen

Photo: Pay as you throw on the Town Meeting agenda.

Making Belmont a “Welcoming Town,” increase by two the number of Selectmen, placing the town’s cash into a particular account and making residents pay for trash removal. Those are the four citizens’ petitions that have been certified by the board of registers and will be before the 2017 Town Meeting in May.

“Welcoming” Town Designation (Anne Mahon, Alma Avenue)

After the election of President Donald Trump in November, Anne Mahon said she feared that the New York real estate developer and television personality would implement a series of campaign promises targeting immigrants for deportation and ban refugees and immigrants from majority Muslim nations from the country. In late January, Mahon’s trepidation came to fact as Trump signed a hastily created ban on people from seven Middle Eastern nations from entering the country. (That effort was successfully challenged in the courts).

Mahon, the president of the town’s Democrat Committee, felt that as a community Belmont could follow the lead of several municipalities to become a “sanctuary community” under which the town and its education and public safety departments would not cooperate with federal agencies involved with immigration.

Nearly 500 cities and towns are considered “sanctuary” communities, according to the Ohio Jobs & Justice Political Action Committee, which have tallied the number more than a decade.

After researching the issue and talking to others in the progressive community, Mahon decided to take a slightly different and less confrontation tack. The “Welcoming Town Designation” would reiterate Belmont’s history of “welcom[ing] immigrants from many regions around the world” who “enrich the fabric of this community.”

The petition reads that “[n]ational policies that discriminate against immigrants because of religion or country of origin run counter to our values” and so it should not assist those plans including from the federal agency Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE.

In many communities, local police will inform ICE they are holding a person with questionable immigration status and will accept and ICE  detainer warrant which is used to ensure transfer of a local inmate who has pending charges in the federal jurisdiction.

Under the petition, “Belmont Police Department will continue its long-held policy of not asking any individual about immigration status” when asking for help or are involved in a minor infraction while providing assistance and protection to all people despite that same status. 

The petition will seek Town Meeting’s solidarity with displaced persons and migrants from around the world and affirm its support for the police department’s current policy of not honoring ICE detainer warrants without a court order or a probable-cause warrant signed by a judge nor detain a person solely on the belief that the individual has committed a civil immigration violation.

Mahon said while she agrees that the police department and school district “are wonderful in how they treat all people in the community,” she continues to worry about “what’s coming down from [Washington] because it’s really frightening.”

My only goal here is to get this to pass, so it gives all people a sense of comfort,” said Mahon.

Increase the Board of Selectmen to five members (James Williams, Glenn Road)

Increasing the number of selectmen on the governing board which is responsible for the oversight town government is not a new proposal. Town Meeting rejected a pair of warrant articles to expand the board to five members in 2000 and 2002 while a few years later the League of Women Voters studied the issue but then did not to endorse the idea.

In 2009, a proposal by a Government Reform Committee would have overhauled the entire structure of town governance including giving more day-to-day power to the town administrator’s office with the selectmen adding two members and become a policy-making committee. But the plan did not reach Town Meeting that year.

In May, Town Meeting will see the return of the five-member body as Selectman Jim Williams

Under Williams’ petition, the board will increase to five members on Town Election 2018, with the election of two Selectmen for three-year terms and a member for two years.

Williams said the change would be in line with the past efforts to revamp the town administrator’s job – vacant due to the departure of David Kale – which will include removing day-to-day tasks from the board. 

While this proposal lacks the detailed governing overhaul blueprint from the 2009 Government Reform Committee, Williams told the Belmontonian that he has bandied “ideas [around] that may authorize increased responsibilities for directly-assigned functions” while eliminating the “matrix [of] duties where simply adding another layer of management to the organizational chart is not particularly useful and can be dysfunctional.” He has yet to present his proposal to the full board for its collective opinion.

Consider waste metering to save money and reduce trash (Kim Slack, Taylor Road)

Slack, who is a member of Sustainable Belmont, is calling on the Board of Selectmen as its role as financial managers to open its mind to “all options for waste management” including what is known as “pay-as-you-throw” systems. 

Familiar in with more rural and outer suburban communities – 145 municipalities out of 352 in Massachusetts that have adopted this approach, or about 40 percent – the concept is rather simple: residents pay a per-unit fee for disposal of the solid waste that they generate which incentifies recycling and reducing trash generation. 

This sustainable approach to waste removal is not a new one in Belmont; the most recent attempt to impose a PAYT system in town was 2010 when a committee suggested to the Board of Selectmen a plan where households would have free trash pickup of 39 gallons worth of garbage while being charged a $2 fee for additional bags.

But as with past attempts to include this “green” technique, you have to remember back to 1990 for context why a PATY system would be a hard sale to households

In that year, town voters approved a $2.1 million Proposition 2 1/2 operating override to pay for unlimited weekly curbside trash pick up. As the $2.1 million has grown by 2 1/2 percent annually, the override currently brings in $3.7 million this past year, nearly twice as much as the contracted cost for garbage and trash collection by F.W. Russell which is $1.8 million for fiscal 2017.

Simply put, why, asked residents, pay for a service that you pay for in your quarterly tax bill? 

But Slack says that the “needs and goals have changed since the 1990 override” and the selectmen “will be better equipped to align the town’s policies for waste with the current financial and environmental goals” which includes 2009’s Climate Action Plan. 

Transfer unappropriated available funds … a sum of money to the General Stabilization Fund” (Robert Sarno, Waverley Terrace)

This is pretty straightforward: Take a portion of the town’s certified “free” cash balance and put it into the town’s General Stabilization Fund.

The GSF was created after the town approved the $4.5 million 2015 Proposition 2 1/2 override and has managed to provide a financial safety valve for the town’s schools which have been under fiscal pressure by an unprecedented wave of enrollment.  

But the fund is quickly being drained. At the same time, the town’s “free” cash (also known as its Rainy Day Fund) account – typically includes actual receipts more than revenue estimates and unspent amounts in departmental budget line items for the year just ended – has been quite healthy coming in at:

  • $7 million in fiscal 2014
  • $6.2 million in fiscal 2015
  • $4.1 million in fiscal 2016

The free cash amount is one element in Belmont’s impressive AAA credit rating; in fact, the town’s rainy day fund could be lower without impacting the town’s gold star rating

And that free cash has come in handy over the past few years, paying for the renovation of Belmont Center ($2.8 million) and installing modular classrooms at the Chenery Middle School ($1.45 million.) 

For Sarno, the best place for some percentage of free cash is to “stretch as far into the future as possible” the money in the GSF, “thus delaying and limiting the need for a future operating override. And by placing the money there, it will be Town Meeting rather than town officials who will have the “opportunity to evaluate and vote on any proposed appropriation.” 


Parking Ban Ends 6AM Wednesday, Schools’ Start Delayed By 1 Hour

Photo: Shovel.

Tuesday’s Nor’easter wasn’t as powerful as first anticipated but it did leave a mess around town (including a number of power outages in Waverley Square and Harvard Lawn) and its effect will be felt on parking and schools this Wednesday.

  • The Snow Emergency Parking Ban, which began at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 14, will expire at 6 a.m. on Wednesday, March 15. Until that time, vehicles parked on all roadways and in municipal and school parking lots will be towed.
  • The start of Belmont public schools will be delayed by one hour Wednesday
  • Town buildings and offices will be holding regular hours on Wednesday. The Belmont Public Library will open at 9 a.m.
  • Tuesday’s trash and recycling will be picked up on Wednesday and the remainder of the week will be picked up one day later than usual.

If you have any questions please call the snow emergency hotline at 617-993-2698.

Belmont’s DPW Drivers Get A Simulating Lesson on Snow Plowing [VIDEO]

Photo: Vincent Nestor in the simulator

Joe Foti is holding steady at 55 mph in the cab of a snow plow as it glides down a stretch of road during a blizzard.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a car comes out of his blind spot on the left side of the truck.

As the Belmont Water Division employee puts on the breaks, over his right shoulder a voice booms out: “You gotta go, Joe. Keep it at 55, Joe. Let’s go, Joe.”

From over his left shoulder, another voice tells Foti to “answer your cell phone. Where is it? It’s next to you.” As Foti reaches for the phone, a truck in the oncoming lane swerves towards him. As he turns the steering wheel, the voice to this right yells, “You’re thirsty, Joe. Grabbed that water bottle.”

With a cell phone in one hand, Foti reaches for the center console when out of the steady falling snow he suddenly spots a parked SUV in front of this speeding truck.

“Look out, Joe” he hears, as his seat is being pushed back and forth as he hits the passenger vehicle.

For Foti and more than a dozen driver who push snow and spread sand and salt on town roadways, the combination of nightmarish senarios did not take place on town streets but in the driving simulator that was located in the Belmont Department of Public Works Yard last month. 

The employees drove through a number of driving challenges with the help of two instructors – the voices behind Foti’s shoulders – who spoke of best practices and tips on driving a big truck safely in bad New England winter weather.

The simulator came from L-3 Technologies, an international firm that provides real-world driving environments that can be configured for multiple vehicle types, including snowplow trucks, tractors, dump trucks, heavy-duty trucks and tractor trailers.

The training was part of a $10,000 grant from the DPW’s insurance company, said Michael Santoro, the town’s Highway Department manager who first the simulator in action four years ago at a public works conference.

For DPW employee Vincent Nestor, the training “is pretty lifelike and I will take this training to the job.” 


Town Meeting ’17: 25 MPH Speed Limit To Be Voted in May

Photo: The proposed new top speed in Belmont.

Belmont Board of Selectman Jim Williams asked a question to Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin when the chief brought to the board a proposal establishing a 25 mph limit on nearly all of Belmont’s byways.

“Have you driven 25 mph on Concord Avenue?” with the inference that the speed would be a tad slow for many motorists.

The answer to that question will be left to Town Meeting members as the proposal was voted into the 2017 Town Meeting Warrant establishing the reduced speed limit throughout Belmont.

“The main thrust [for the change] is safety for pedestrians and bicyclists,” said McLaughlin – who last week celebrated his 10th anniversary as police chief – saying Belmont would be following area city and towns such as Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, Lexington and Somerville which have switched to the lower speed limit.

Cities and towns around the state have moved to drop the speed limit since the implementation of the Municipal Modernization Act signed in August 2016, which grants local authorities the right to decrease local speed limits to 25 mph in “thickly settled” areas.

McLaughlin said three stretches of roadway that would be exempt from the new limit:

  • Concord Avenue from Robinwood Road to the Lexington town line.
  • Winter Street from Belmont Country Club to Route 2
  • Mill Street from Trapelo Road to Concord Avenue.

McLaughlin said the cost of implementing the new law would be putting up new signs at roads on the various town lines – such as Trapelo Road (Waltham), Concord Avenue (Cambridge) and Common Street (Watertown) – informing visitors of the limit. It will also require taking down signs such as along Pleasant Street with differing speed limits. 

Snow Shut Down: Town, School Closed Tuesday; Parking Ban Begins 5PM Tuesday

Photo: It’ll be snowy in Belmont Tuesday.

Like you didn’t see this coming.

With the season’s biggest Nor’easter on the doorstep, Belmont – along with most of the state – is battening down in preparation for more than a foot and a half of snow on Tuesday, March 14.

  • Belmont’s public schools, town buildings and the Belmont Public Library will be closed as will the Belmont Public Library.
  • The Benton Library will be closed; Pre-School Story Time will not meet. 
  • The storm is expected to be so severe that the Department of Public Works has canceled trash and recycling pick up.
  • The Belmont Police has already issued a snow emergency parking ban beginning at 5 p.m., Tuesday and lasting until further notice. The town will tow vehicles parked on roadways and in municipal and school parking lots after the ban is in effect.
  • In addition to the town closing shop, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is urging residents to avoid driving Tuesday and take public transportation if possible.
  • The MBTA is expecting to run a regular weekday schedule, but travelers should check with the authority’s severe weather web page throughout the day.

If you have any questions, call the Belmont snow emergency hotline at 617-993-2698.