Belmont Girls Hoops Fall To Top-Ranked Newton South, 44-35, For First Loss

Photo: Belmont High School Girls Basketball.

A slow start coupled with free throw shooting as cold as all outdoors resulted in the Belmont High Girls Basketball falling from the undefeated as the Marauders lost to Newton South, the top-ranked team in eastern Massachusetts, 44-35, in the title game of the Garden City Basketball Holiday Invitational held at Newton North High School Thursday, Dec. 28.

“The team struggled offensively in the first half so you’re forced to battle back against a very good team for the rest of the game,” said Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart. 

In what was essentially a home game for the Warriors at Newton North , Belmont failed to find the rhythm in the offensive side of the ball until midway through the third quarter when the Marauders cut a 15 point deficit to five, 38-33, with just under three minutes to play.

With Belmont knocking on the door, the Lions turned to its leader senior guard Veronica Burton who put the game on ice with a bucket, two free-throws off a steal and a pass that led to a free-throw on consecutive times up the court. 

“[Burton’s] quite a player, scoring half of their points but also involved one way or another in most of them,” Hart said about the Northwestern-bound all-star who tallied 21 points to go along with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals against the Marauders. 

Not that the game didn’t start on the upswing with Belmont scoring baskets on its first drives of the game to lead 4-1. It was then Newton South – a Division 1 South powerhouse coming off a 16-4 record last year – took off on a 14-1 run to end the first quarter, 15-5.

“While [Newton South wasn’t] shooting the lights out, they got off an awful lot of shots, more than I would have liked to see,” said Hart. “I thought early in the second quarter, ‘they’re going to score 80 on us’.”

While the Marauders defense began to stem the bleeding in the second quarter, the offense continued finding it hard to take advantage of Belmont’s frontline height difference.

“Their guard defense just made it difficult for us to get the ball into the middle,” Hart said.

Hart placed junior guard Meghan Tan – who along with backcourt partner senior captain Carly Christfori played the entire 32 minutes of the game – to play man-on-man on Burton, but did not attempt to send other defenders to assist Tan on the Newton South star.  

“We couldn’t do everything we wanted to against Burton because the other kids on Newton South were really good,” said Hart, pointing to the four 3s Burton’s teammates hit including a pair from fellow senior Paige Ollivierre. “If we would have sent more players to [Burton], we would have been killed from the outside.” 

At the half, Newton South doubled up Belmont 26-13, who were hurt by what has been an almost historic bugaboo for the Marauders; not taking advantage of chances from the charity stripe. Belmont went 2 for 6 in the first half and a woeful 4 for 11 in the second half. 

But Belmont kept the game close enough so when Tan hit a 3 pointer at the buzzer, Belmont was only down by 9, 34-25, having outscored the Lions, 12-8, in a strong third quarter on both ends of the court. During the team’s last-minute push, Christofori scored 7 of her team-high 11 points in the first five minutes of the quarter as freshman Maiya Bergdorf (5 points including a three) hit a deuce and junior sixth man Jane Mahon (5 points) went 1-2 from the line.

While the Marauders did hold Newton South to just a pair of baskets in the final quarter, it was Burton who almost singlehandedly finished off Belmont, including going 5 for 8 from the free throw line in the final stanza.

“We didn’t play a perfect game. We have further to go than they do and to me that the good news,” said Hart. “I see us getting better throughout the season. It’s an early-season loss to a good team.”

Belmont Festival Orchestra In Concert Saturday, Dec. 30 at the Beech Street Center

Photo: Nathaniel Meyer

Welcome in the New Year with music as the Belmont Festival Orchestra returns to the Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St., on Saturday Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. to perform its annual holiday concert featuring Verdi’s Overture to the opera “La Forza del Destino” (“The Force of Destiny”) and Brahms Symphony No. 4.

The free program will be repeated at First Church in Cambridge, 11 Garden St. on Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 8 p.m.

Founded in 2010 and led by Belmont High Class of 2009 alumni Nathaniel Meyer, the Belmont Festival Orchestra, is an ensemble of emerging young professional musicians in the Boston area, performing every year during the holiday season, and in the summer as a holiday gift from the musicians to the community.


Move Over Victor: Perkins Breaks School’s 600M Indoor Record

Photo: Calvin Perkins after his record-breaking run. (William Brotchie, photo)

According to Belmont High School Head Cross Country and Track Coach William Brotchie, there was actually a 13th Labor of Hercules that was specific to Belmont: to break one of Victor Gras Belmont High School track records. Gras’ name dominates the record books in the middle distance races both indoors and outdoors for the past dozen years with only fleeting attempts to challenge his times.

But Gras’ name will be replaced in the 600 meters when last Friday, Dec 22, Belmont senior Calvin Perkins completed that Herculean feat at the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury during the team’s dual meet against Lexington as Perkins took a half a second from the old record crossing the finish line in 1 minute, 21.42 seconds.

The Marauder captain continues his impressive run of form, coming off a junior season that saw him take second in the Massachusetts All-State 800 meters and an 8th in the 600 meters in March’s Indoor state meet.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Town Delays Cardboard Recycling One Week

Photo: Cardboard event postponed.

The cardboard recycling event scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 30 has been cancelled due to expected “extreme weather conditions,” according to the Belmont Department of Public Works.

Forecast for Saturday calls for temperatures in the high teens. 

The collection day has been rescheduled to Saturday, Jan. 6 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town Yard off C Street. 

New Federal Tax Law Has Belmont Property Owners At Treasurer’s Office, Check in Hand

Photo: A look at your real estate taxes could lead to prepaying next year’s tax bill.

David Levin arrived at the Belmont Treasurer’s Office Friday, Dec. 22 eager to pay the real estate taxes on his ranch-style home on Richmond Road. And not just the next quarterly assessment, but the entire calendar 2018 bill.

Levin’s motivation to pay upfront a substantial amount wasn’t due to a punctilious personality but rather the passage by Congress of what is the most sweeping overhaul of the US tax system in more than 30 years, which includes changes aimed at Levin and a large segment of his fellow Belmont homeowners.

While President Trump proclaimed the bill that passed two-days earlier on Dec. 20 “a middle-class Christmas gift” – pointing to lower rates and a near doubling of the standard deduction for individuals – Belmont property owners will see deductions on combined state and local taxes capped at $10,000 in 2018. For those taxpayers who itemize deductions, the hit to their wallets could be a big one.

“The Republican tax plan has compelled me to make a number of changes to my personal finances before Jan. 1 and one of those is prepaying my 2018 taxes so I can deduct them on my 2017 federal income tax,” said Levin, who will see about $3,000 in “savings” by paying forward next year’s bill.

“I won’t be able to take that deduction, maybe ever again,” he said.

Levin isn’t alone seeking to get in front of the new tax regs taking effect Jan. 1, 2018. With the annual tax bill on the average Belmont residential property – calculated at $1,003,750 – is approximately $12,200, it’s little wonder the Treasurer’s Office on the first floor of the Homer Building has become the hot spot in the “Town of Homes.”

“We’ve had a ton of interest in the past few days,” said a Treasurer staffer as a steady stream of residents came up to the department’s payment window with checkbooks in hand.

For the town’s tax collector, the sudden influx of residents seeking answers is not unexpected considering all the news about the tax bill.

“We’ve had a significant uptick in phone calls and payments and my fundamental attitude is if you want to prepay your taxes, we are more than willing to accept your check,” said Town Treasurer Floyd Carman on Friday.

For Carman and his small staff, the data they are providing and how the town will process the additional payments “isn’t rocket science.”

“If someone comes to that window tell those what the estimated tax bill will be, we can calculate the bill for the calendar year 2018 tax bill. We give the real estate taxpayer the information. What they do with it is up to them and their financial advisers,” said Carman. 

But residents shouldn’t expect any advice on how to manage their assets.

“We are not your tax attorney. Talk to them,” said Carman.

Carman said unlike other towns which have placed a two quarter prepay limit on property taxes, Belmont can arrange a payment plan.

“We will process the first two quarters and the remaining funds will be placed in a prepaid account. When we do the estimated bills in June for the remaining two quarters, then we’ll apply the money to them,” said Carman.

“Will it result in more work for us? Sure. But we’ll manage it,” he said.

While his office can come darn near close to the exact amount owed over one year, those who propose paying off two or three years in advance could be problematic as the property could see its assessed value shot up in the second year to a point where a resident will need to pay additional monies to meet their tax obligation. 

Carman said there are a number of issues that property owners will need to be aware of including if the firm holding the mortgage is contracted to pay outstanding taxes or what are the tax implications if the house is sold in the coming year.

“You need to deal with that. If someone calls me about your taxes, I can only tell them what I have in front of me,” he said.

Carman is also advising resident thinking of taking advantage of the existing exemptions to make sure the check approved at the Treasurer’s office or in the “drop box” in front of the Homer Building by Friday, Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. A mailed payment postmarked before but not processed by the deadline will not qualify for the exemption. 

“I’d advise anyone to make time to drop your payment off,” said Carman.

Sports: Girls’ Hoops Open Season 3-0; Prepare For Tough Holiday Competition [VIDEO]

Photo: Senior Capt. Carly Christofori preparing to hit the three against Stoneham.

It’s been an easy start of the season for Belmont High School’s Girls’ Basketball teams as the team has started the 2017-18 season at 3-0.

Maybe the kickoff has been too easy as the Marauders will need to ramp up its intensity as it faces some stiff competition heading into a holiday tournament in Newton next week.

Everyone knew the Belmont High Girls’ Hoopsters were going to be a handful for both league and tourney opponents – the Boston Herald rated the Marauders as the top team in Division 1 North despite competing with the big schools for the first time.

Belmont Head Coach Melissa Hart returns not just her starting five – guards Carly Christofori and Megan Tan, center Jess Giorgio, and Greta Propp and Jenny Call – from last year’s team that ended the season at 16-4 and the number-one seed in Division 2 North sectionals which reached the semi-finals, but also has talented reserves coming off the bench such as sixth-man Jane Mahon, point guard Kylie Rhone, reserve center Ella Gagnon and standout freshman Maiya Bergdorf who Hart can use anywhere on the court, as a shooting guard, power forward or center. 

In its first three games, the squad has returned with a suffocating defense and an offense that is looking to run the break in transition. And the team has also included another weapon in its arsenal, hitting the long ball as the team has drained 18 3s with Call adding a total of seven treys to her school career record.

Each game demonstrated Belmont’s versatility with junior center Giorgio dominated inside both offensively (14 points in the paint) and on the defensive boards while 9th grader Bergdorf drained a trio of threes towards a game-high 16 points to complement Propp’s 11 and Call’s 10 points as Belmont ran away in the second half to beat visiting Burlington, 62-37, in the home opener.

Against Wilmington on the road, junior guard Tan scored a game-leading 15 points mostly on the break as she led Belmont to a 16 point second quarter to give the Marauders a 28-20 lead at the half. The second half was all defense as the Marauders shut down the Wildcats, allowing only three points in the third and a total of nine for the 51-29 win.

Thursday’s game against an undermanned Stoneham team was quickly decided as the Marauders took off to a 27-10 first quarter lead (led by Christofori who scored 14 of her game-high 15 points in the opening stanza) then clamped down on Stoneham, limiting the Spartans to four points in the second quarter while they jumped on junior Mahon’s back as she scored 12 of her 14 points (on 7 for 7 shooting) in a 23 point quarter to up the margin at the half to 36 points, 50-14. 

Hart threw everyone but the manager onto the court as 12 of 13 Marauders got into the scorer’s book. Senior Rhone hit for 7 points while running the show with fellow senior Ally Shapazian while juniors Breah Healey (1 point), Audrey Christo (4 points), and Alex Keefe (with a downtown bomb for “THREE”) scored as Belmont won 71-25. 

And the team’s X-mas “present” for its solid start will be a pair of potentially tough encounters with strong squads just after Christmas. First up will be Stoughton High on Wednesday, Dec. 27 at 5 p.m. at Newton North High School. The tourney final will be on Thursday, Dec. 28 against the winner of the Newton North/Newton South game. If Newton South is Belmont’s opponent, it will likely meet senior Veronica Burton, the 5’9″ guard and Northwestern commit who is averaging 20 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks per game this season. 



Letter to the Editor: Help Keep Teens Safe This Holiday Season

Photo: Wayside Youth & Family Support Network logo.

You might know me as the “Slices of Life” columnist, or as Minutes Recorder for various Belmont committees, but I’m also a Public Health Educator, now working with Wayside Youth & Family Support Network to oversee Belmont’s implementation of grants focused on drug/alcohol use and mental health disorders. In that capacity, and as a fellow Belmont parent, I thought I’d share some of Wayside’s tips for helping to keep our teens safe this holiday season.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered several years ago in Belmont, revealed that approximately one-third of our teenage students admitted they are drinking. Most are getting their alcohol from older siblings, older friends, or home.  In many instances, their parents do not know how much they drink – or even that they drink at all.

This is not only illegal, it’s dangerous. Teen alcohol use can lead to unsafe behaviors that puts our kids’ health and safety at risk. Due to their developing brains, teens tend to drink too much when they drink. And those who drink endanger more than themselves: teens who drink put themselves at risk for alcohol poisoning, car crashes, injuries, violence, or unprotected and/or unwanted sex.

As a parent of three teens, I thought I would share the following tips to reduce teen drinking:

  • Keep alcohol in a secure location, preferably in locked cabinets. Even if you trust your teen, their friends may be tempted by what’s available in your home.
  • If you are hosting a party, do not leave unsupervised alcohol around where it is accessible to underage guests. And tell other relatives not to serve alcohol to your child under the age of 21.
  • Let your child know what you expect. Tell your teen that adults may be drinking during the holidays, but under no circumstances is he/she allowed to drink alcohol.
  • If your child is attending a party, check on the details. Find out if there will be parental supervision, and be sure no alcohol will be available at the parties that your teen will be attending.  Wait up to greet your child when he/she arrives home at curfew time.
  • Make sure not to leave your teenagers home alone if you go out of town. Word gets out quickly and a drinking party can develop, sometimes without your child’s consent.
  • Do not relax your family rules with your own teens during the holidays; it can be difficult to return to previous expectations.

Did you know that for every year a teen does not use alcohol, the odds of lifelong dependence decrease by 15 percent? That’s worth keeping in mind. Avoidance now is an investment in the lifelong health of our teens.

Please do what you can to reduce youth access to alcohol; it really does take a village!

If I can be of support to you or your teens, please contact me at

Lisa Gibalerio

Wayside Youth & Family Support Network

In Or Out: Selectmen to Decide Jan. 8 If Pot Stores Are Coming To Town of Homes

Photo: Selectmen Mark Paolillo, Chair Jim Williams and Adam Dash with “brownies” before their discussion on pot regulations.

The representatives of the Belmont Board of Health and the town’s Health Department were bearing gifts as they came to speak before the Belmont Board of Selectmen on the future of marijuana retail sales in town.


Uh oh! Was the Board of Health tipping its hand on what position it would take on the future of pot stores in the “Town of Homes?” Or were the members being “set up” like a scene out of a Cheech and Chong film with Belmont Police Chief McLaughlin and the drug squad ready to pounce on the unsuspected consumers of “edibles.”

“Watch out. It could be ‘Mary’ ‘Wona’!” warned Selectmen Chair Jim Williams. 

But it turned out that Board of Health member Dr. David Alper was only sweetening the night with actual brownies (and latkas from resident Bonnie Friedman) as he came to advise the selectmen on Monday, Dec. 18 and the Planning Board the next night, Tuesday, Dec. 19 that “they need to get going” to decide whether the town would join the majority of communities allowing the establishment of  stores for the “adult” sale of marijuana which will begin statewide on June 1 . 

The selectmen declared Monday it would decide whether to opt in or out of the state law allowing the retail sale of pot and associated marijuana-infused food and candies at its scheduled Monday, Jan. 8 meeting at Town Hall. 

The state is moving quickly on creating licensing regulations with the Cannabis Control Commission this week presenting to the Secretary of State its outline for the issuance of licenses. The state will hold a public meeting on Feb. 5 before the law goes into effect on April 1 with the first applications going to the 18 medical marijuana dispensaries currently operating. All new weed retailers can open their doors on June 1. 

If the board decides to follow the lead of Winchester and a few towns in the Cape that have opted out, Belmont will need to call a town-wide election to support the board’s decision. The special election is required because the town’s voters passed what was called Question 4 in November 2016, 52.5 percent to 46.5 percent (7,585 to 6,868 votes), a slightly lower margin than the state overall, which was 53.6 percent yes vs. 46.3 percent no.

If the voters approve the board’s opt-out declaration, the selectmen would subsequently need to call a special town meeting before April 1 to enact a bylaw codifying the decision. 

While the selectmen could simply wait until the town’s scheduled election on April 4 and then the first night of the annual  Town Meeting on April 30 rather than call a special election and town meeting with its additional cost of approximately $15,000, Alper noted that marijuana entrepreneurs are expected to target “well-to-do communities” for their retail operations – which early estimates will generate $1 to $3 million in revenue annually – as they seek “upscale cannabis consumers.”

“I am less optimistic that we will be ignored,” said Alper. “Those four days allows someone to come in and ask the CCC for a license which will be granted because we didn’t have a bylaw or vote stopping it.”

By opting out, the town would also forego revenue from a three percent tax through a user agreement with retailers which is on top of the state’s three percent cut. Alper said the money – which modestly could be north of $30,000 annually – must be earmarked towards anti-drug education and prevention, which could include providing grant money to the district schools to conduct annual health surveys, establishing pilot programs to fight opioid addition and funding of additional shifts for police officers in drug prevention operations.

If the board decides to allow stores to open, the selectmen can also decide whether to establish a “cap” on the total number of establishments in Belmont. The minimum number of stores is determined by taking 20 percent of the number of full-liquor retail operations in town, which will allow Belmont to have only one store. While the town must allow one to open although it does control the “time, place and manner” of the store through the Planning Board. 

But Alper advised the Planning Board that it should not attempt to “hide” the store(s) in some out-of-the-way location such as behind the new electrical substation off of Brighton Street. 

“We want this to be a success,” he said, noting it will be easier to monitor and control. 

Selectman Adam Dash said a dispensary near his law practice in Somerville is “very professional looking. They don’t have Bob Marley posters in the window. We can regulate it so it looks like a professional place.” 

Alper said this will not be like any other commercial operation in another way: it is a cash-only business. While the state has approved the sale of pot, the federal government continues to see weed as illegal and President Trump’s US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to step up federal enforcement against pot.

The result is banks and other institutions will not accept checks, electronic payments or credit card transactions from these retail operations. Subsequently, the buying and selling of pot is via cash, which also includes how they pay store employees and suppliers. (Although one solution is to use Bitcoin or another non-traditional cryptocurrency.)

“They will pay their taxes and light bill in cash,” said Alper.

And the business ain’t low-end: high-grade pot sold in these establishments will cost between $250 to $400 an ounce, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in cash exchanging hands each day.

“And they’ll need an IRS agent in each store because it’s all cash,” said Alper.

Alper said while the town can limit the number of retail operations, due to the “liberal drafting of the regulations” by the CCC, the Board of Health will have the right to issue permits to a business for the therapeutic or “casual use” of marijuana, pointing to yoga instructors, massage and physical therapists who could seek a waiver. 

“We could also see one-day licenses like we have for alcohol use,” said Alper.

Alper said the Board of Health is ready to create these regulations – it does not require Town Meeting or selectmen authorization, just an open public meeting before issuing the new rules – “so we are waiting what direction you want to take.” 

“It all leads back to you people,” said Alper.

Welcome The Winter Solstice With A Little (Belmont) Light On Thursday, Dec. 21


The town’s electrical utility, Belmont Light, will be Celebrating the Winter Solstice with its customers at the 40 Prince St. office on Thursday, Dec. 21 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.   

The event is open to all Belmont Light customers, and everyone who attends is encouraged to bring a new or very gently used blanket, bedspread, comforter, or quilt with them to the event to help share the warmth with others in need.

Customers will have an opportunity to enjoy a mug of hot cider or hot chocolate and say “hello” to special guest Frosty the Snowman.

Belmont Light customers will be able to pick up a free LED light bulb and an LED nightlight.

“We’re excited that Celebrating the Winter Solstice has become such a great tradition in the community,” Belmont Light Acting General Manager Craig Spinale said. “It’s always a fun event and we encourage our customers to stop by our 40 Prince Street office to celebrate the beginning of the winter season. We also encourage everyone to help others in need by donating bedding to share the warmth.” 

For more information about Celebrating the Winter Solstice, please visit the website or call 617-993-2800.

Sports: Girls’ Hockey Rockets To 3-0 Start With Home Opener Win Vs. Lincoln-Sudbury

Photo: Belmont heading to the goal.

Everyone knew coming into the season that Belmont High Boys’ Ice Hockey would be a team to be reckoned with in the Middlesex League. But if you’re looking for the squad playing at the “Skip” with the undefeated season, look no further than the Belmont High Girls’ team who has rocketed its way to a 3-0 start which included an all-around solid 3-0 home ice opener against Lincoln-Sudbury on Monday, Dec. 18.

Led by junior goalie Amanda Hanley who pitched her first shutout of the season, the Marauders scored with some unlikely sources demonstrating that the team’s potent scoring punch – 14 goals in the first three games – comes from more than just a single offensive line.

Second line defender senior Meghan Noone scored Belmont’s second goal on a rising wrister from just to the right of the left circle on the power play at 11:34 in the second period with the assist from defensive partner junior Jordan Lettiere. The no-frills defender who contributes each shift for Head Coach Ken Murphy showed her versatility and senior leadership by immediately taking a 2-minute roughing penalty after a Lincoln-Sudbury player took one-too-many liberties at Hanley’s expense. The violation was deemed by one observer as “a good roughing penalty to take” in defense of the team’s netminder. 

After a first period stalemate against a good Warriors team – L-S came into the game 1-0 after defeating Concord-Carlisle 1-0 in its season opener – Belmont struck early in the second as freshman phenom Emma O’Donovan (coming off a hat-trick against Burlington) scored in tight with assists from fellow frosh Del Bonin and senior center Annabel Banks.

Hanley kept the advantage turning back two point-blank shots at the doorstep with five minutes to go in the period before Belmont took advantage of a call against L-S a minute later.

Belmont put the game out-of-reach early in the third as O’Donovan netted her second from a pass by Noone who came as close as one can in high school hockey to a “Gordie Howe hat trick”.

Belmont opened the season squeaking by Wakefield by one, 5-4, then coming away with a 6-2 victory over Burlington as O’Donovan and linemate Emma Brodigan scored five goals with sophomore center Katie Guden hitting the back of the net.

The Marauders will be busy this week with away match on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at Wilmington, away again on Friday, Dec. 22 at Medford before coming home to the fridged confines of the “Skip” on Saturday, Dec. 23 vs. Stoneham.