Select Board OKs Belmont Patrol Officers Contracts; All Town Employee Agreements Completed

Photo: Final contract has been signed off

The Belmont Select Board approved two Memorandum of agreement with the 50-plus member Belmont Police Patrolman’s Association on a wintery Monday night, Jan. 23, completing contracts with each of the unions representing Belmont public employees.

“All our contracts are apparently settled,” said Patrice Garvin, Belmont’s town administrator who led the negotiations for the town.

“It’s great to be finally done,” said Mark Paolillo, chair of the Select Board. “I would characterize all of our contracts as fair … to the employees and also to the town of Belmont.”

The agreements are very similar to the pair of agreements OK’d two weeks ago with the firefighters union, said Garvin. The two contracts are:

  • A two-year term from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022 with a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) of 2 percent in each year. The memorandum of agreement also includes an increase in the first responders stipend by 4.5 percent effective July 1, 2021.
  • The second agreement runs from July, 1, 2022 to June 31, 2025 with the COLA compensation at 2 percent for each of the 3 years. There is an increase for first responders stipend starting July 1, 2022. “This payment will be equal to 6 percent of the weekly base pay as well as an educational incentive for a bachelor’s degree,” said Garvin. The stipend will incrementally increase in the subsequent years, to 7 percent on July 1, 2023 and 8 percent in July, 1, 2024. Patrol officers will receive an extra dollar in their detail rate from $3.50 to $4.50, Juneteenth is added as a paid holiday, officers will receive a $2,000 Covid-19 stipend just like their firefighting brethren, and employees will receive five weeks of vacation after serving 20 years; currently to take five weeks requires 25 years of service.

Shea It’s So: Three New Belmont Patrol Officers Join The Family Profession

Photo: From left, Connor, Michael and Ryan Shea after they were sworn in by Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman on Wednesday. (Courtesy Belmont Police Department)

The Belmont Police Department has secured a third generation of the Shea family in its ranks as brothers Connor and Michael and their cousin, Ryan, joined the family profession after being sworn in as Belmont patrol officers by Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman on Wednesday, Jan. 18.

The new officers will be joining their fathers as public safety officers: Connor and Michael are the sons of Belmont Police Detective Sgt. Kevin Shea while Ryan is the son of Lasell University Police Chief Robert Shea. And the three are the grandsons of former Belmont Police Chief Robert Shea.

“I’m happy to welcome these three young men from a family that has supported law enforcement and served the Town of Belmont for three generations now,” said Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac. “These three men and their entire family have shown a commitment to our community that will continue for years to come.”

After an extensive 21-week academy program, the Sheas graduated with the 1st Recruit Officer Class of the Lynnfield Regional Police Academy and will now begin the BPD’s Field Training program, according to MacIsaac.

With County At ‘High’ Level, Belmont Taking A Cautious Approach To Latest Covid-19 Spike

Photo: Belmont has not sought to bring back a mask mandate with the latest spike in Covid-19.

With the new year of 2023 bringing a jump in Covid-19 related hospitalizations and in overall cases in Middlesex county, the town of Belmont and the school district are taking a deliberate approach in its answer to the surge.

“At the moment, we are cautiously optimistic because we are not seeing a post-holiday spike in COVID-19 related absences in the schools like we had in recent years,” Wesley Chin, director of the Belmont Health Department, told the Belmontonian on Monday.

The Massachusetts reported on Jan. 5 that Middlesex County had reached a ‘High’ community level which is a combination of reported Covid cases and hospitalization due to the coronavirus. The recent spike in cases and those in the hospital was not unexpected as people are spending more time indoors where viruses can easily spread. Nationwide, nearly 20 percent of US counties are at the high level of Covid risk.

When areas reach the high level, the US CDC recommends citizens return to wearing a high-quality mask – N95, KF94 and KN95 – when indoors in public. The CDC also recommends those at high risk of getting very sick – the elderly and those with compromised immunity – to consider avoiding non-essential indoor activities in public where you could be exposed.

“If you have household or social contact with someone at high risk for getting very sick, consider testing before contact and wearing a high-quality mask when indoors with them,” advised the CDC in a press release.

So far, the Health Department is taking a watch and advise approach to the recent surge.

On the day the high level was reported, the town’s Health Department shared a shared a ‘COVID-19 Safety’ infographic with the community to remind residents about the readily accessible tools at hand that can help protect individuals from severe infections from COVID-19. (See the Infograph at the bottom of the page)

“The Health Department continues to monitor local and regional COVID-19 metrics. We are also in regular contact with the Head of Nursing and Superintendent for the Belmont Public Schools to monitor student and staff attendance throughout the district,” said Chin.

Initial data has been promising, said Chin.

“At the moment, we are cautiously optimistic because we are not seeing a post-holiday spike in COVID-19 related absences in the schools like we had in recent years. Additionally, COVID-19 waste water data provided by MWRA suggests that current COVID-19 infections may be on the decline in the north region,” said Chin.

While the town has not reinstated an indoor mask mandate for public and private locations with common spaces, “Belmont will always be a mask friendly community,” said Chin. “But, the best way to prevent adverse outcomes is to continue to stay up to date with bivalent booster shots,” he said. Belmont ended its indoor mask mandate in March 2022, approximately two years after it was declared.

In that regard, Belmont is ahead of the game with a high rate of vaccination among residents, with most age groups having reached a 95 percent-plus fully vaccinated rate.

While vaccinations do not prevent contracting the virus, it does lessen the severity of the illness and in nearly all cases of those fully vaccinated will prevent an hospital stay.

“We believe the high rate of vaccination in Belmont is likely playing a protective role in allowing us to weather the current surge of cases in the Northeast with less disruption to everyday life this year,” said Chin.

https://www.appointmentquest.com/scheduler/2180061935?schedule=belmontvaccineclinic

Belmont, Firefighters Agree To Five Year Contract

Photo: Select Board OKs five year contract with Belmont Firefighters.

The Select Board voted Monday, Jan. 9 to approve two contracts that will cover approximately 50 firefighters, paramedics and EMTs until June 30, 2026.

“This is a reasonable agreement for the town and for the union as well,” said Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo.

The first of two Memorandum of Understanding with the members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1637 runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2022 includes a two percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) as well as annual stipends of 1.5 percent for paramedics and EMTs.

The second agreement between town and employees is a series of four annual contracts begin on July 1, ’22, ’23, ’24 and ’26 with a two percent COLA each year with a paramedics and EMT stipend of 1.5 percent in the first three contracts than falling to one percent in each of the remaining agreements.

Firefighters will also receive a $2,000 one-time payment funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The town was able to negotiate biweekly pay schedule which will add efficiencies with the payment department and adding the Juneteenth holiday to the package.

The Police Officers union is the final labor contract of town employees currently being negotiated. According to Belmont Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, who had helmed the contract negotiations for the town, a final contract for the police public safety should be presented before the Select Board “in the next couple of weeks.”

Breaking: Belmont Police Report ‘Possible’ Shooting On Olmsted Drive, Two At Area Hospitals

Photo: Belmont Police investigating shooting on Olmsted Drive

Two people were likely shot Monday afternoon in an Olmsted Drive parking lot and are being treated at area hospitals, according to a Belmont Police press release.

The preliminary investigation indicates this was not a random act of violence, according to police.

The police as of 8 p.m. continue to investigate what they are calling a “possible shooting” after finding evidence at the scene and learning that two possible gunshot victims were being treated at local hospitals, said Belmont Police Chief James MacIssac.

The press release said Belmont officers responded to a pair of 911 calls reporting shots were fired in a parking lot off Olmsted Drive around 5:20 p.m. Police found spent shell casings and a magazine but no victims or suspects. Olmsted Drive is the location of Waverley Woods apartments.

After an investigation, police learned two possible victims with gunshot wounds were being treated at local hospitals.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call Belmont Police at 617-484-1212.

More to come.

Police Chief, Department Honored For Supporting Officers Serving In National Guard

Photo: Earl Bonett, Massachusetts Chair of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, presents Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac with an award recognizing the department’s support of members who serve in the armed forces. (Courtesy Photo: Belmont Police Department)

Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac and the Belmont Police Department were recently honored for their cooperation in support of the National Guard and Reserve.

MacIsaac was presented a certificate from the Massachusetts chapter of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in recognition of the department’s longstanding commitment to supporting its members who serve in the National Guard or in the reserve corps of the nation’s military branches.

ESGR is a Department of Defense office founded in 1972 to carry out the mission of fostering a culture in which American employers support their employees who serve in the guard or reserve forces. Belmont Police have two active officers who are currently serving as members of the Massachusetts National Guard.

“This award is a reflection of our entire department’s collective pride in our members whose commitment to public service extends even beyond Belmont’s borders,” said MacIsaac. “We’re grateful for all who serve in the National Guard and Reserves, including Lt. Paul Cowing and Sgt. Ben Mailhot.”

The Belmont Police Department enables its members who wish to serve in the Guard or Reserves the opportunity to do so with the peace of mind in knowing that they will have their civilian positions waiting for them upon return from any activation.

With High Wind Warning in Effect, Widespread Outages In the Mix

Photo: Blustery, it is

Power up your computers and phones because “the weather outside is frightful” and you may loss your power due to a storm that’s bringing strong, damaging winds through Christmas eve.

At 3:30 a.m. Friday, Dec. 23, the National Weather Service issued a High Wind Warning for Belmont and all of eastern Massachusetts that will remain in effect until 7 a.m., Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24.

The wind will be coming in from the South at 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 60 mph, according to the NWS advisory. Isolated gusts up to 65 mph will occur this morning along the coastline.

Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines, toss trash and recycling bins to parts unknown and will defeat any and every umbrella. “Widespread power outages are expected,” the NWS noted. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles such as 18 wheel and box trucks as well as SUVs.

If your power does go out, you can call the Belmont Light outage number at (617) 993-2800. You can see real time outage locations at the Belmont Light Service map.

Belmont Under High Risk Level Of Contacting West Nile Virus; Know Ways To Protect Yourself

Photo: The West Nile virus is back once again. (Image by mika mamy from Pixabay

Belmont residents are under a high risk level of contacting West Nile virus as a human case of the disease was reported in Middlesex County, according to a press release dated Oct. 11 from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes that are common throughout the state and are found in urban as well as more rural areas. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over 50 are at higher risk for severe infection.

The Belmont Health Department continues to work with the MDPH and the Eastern Middlesex Mosquito Control Project (EMMCP) to monitor local mosquito populations for mosquito-borne diseases such as WNV and EEE. EMMCP oversees the mosquito control program in Belmont and in many surrounding communities to provide services such as the annual application of biological larvicide in the catch basins in our town and also the aerial treatment of wetland areas in neighboring towns.

Although mosquito populations and risk for mosquito-borne disease remain low, it is still important to be vigilant when engaging in outdoor activities, particularly between dusk and dawn, and avoid mosquito bites.

By taking a few, common sense precautions, people can help to protect themselves and their loved ones:

Avoid Mosquito Bites

  • Apply Insect Repellent when you go outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m- toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus [p- methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] according to the instructions on the product label.
  • Clothing Can Help reduce mosquito bites. Although it may be difficult to do when it’s hot, wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.
  • Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours: The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. When risk is increased, consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning. If you are outdoors at any time and notice mosquitoes around you, take steps to avoid being bitten by moving indoors, covering up and/or wearing repellant.

• Risk of mosquito borne diseases will continue until there is a hard frost that eliminates the mosquito population.

Mosquito-Proof Your Home

  • Drain Standing Water – Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or getting rid of items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools and change water in birdbaths frequently.
  • Install or Repair Screens – Some mosquitoes like to come indoors. Keep them outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all your windows and doors.

Information about WNV and reports of current and historical WNV virus activity in Massachusetts can be found on the MDPH website at: www.mass.gov/dph/mosquito.

Belmont Fire Holding Open House On Saturday, Oct. 1

Photo: The open house is this Saturday

The Belmont Fire Department will be holding an Open House at its headquarters located at 299 Trapelo Rd. on Saturday, Oct. 1 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Join members of the Fire Department for demonstrations and hands on activities. Visitors of all ages will enjoy checking out various firefighter equipment, a friendly dose of fire safety education, and much more. Pizza and soda will be available. Come and join the department’s firefighters and fire department staff for this community event.

A Pair Of Speed Tables Set For Winter Street To Slow Down Cut-Through Commuters

Photo: A map of hte location of the two speed tables for Winter Street

The longstanding complaints from homeowners along lower Winter Street that vehicles are treating their street more like a drag strip than a neighborhood street has been answered.

On Tuesday, Sept. 21, the Select Board approved placing a pair of raised traffic tables on Winter between Marsh Street and Concord Avenue to slow down the increasing traffic load that includes a return of the commuter cut-through drivers.

Residents came before TAC on July 8 for “what was identified as a speeding problem,” said the Director of the Office of Community Development, Glenn Clancy, with cars and trucks racing to Route 2 and towards the dicey intersection with Concord Avenue that leads to Belmont Center.

A subsequent week-long speed data study by the Belmont Police Department confirmed the residents’ observations: nearly three of every five motorists were caught traveling above 30 mph, five mph faster than the posted speed limit in thickly settled neighborhoods.

Based on the findings, TAC held a meeting in early September where all but one of the households supported Clancy’s and the TAC’s recommendation of installing three-inch tall tables at either end of that stretch of Winter Street.

“[A raised table] is a technique that we’ve used in Belmont for the last several years, which has been effective,” said Clancy, pointing to its use on School Street adjacent to the Burbank School.

“They are designed to slow traffic down. They are not designed to jolt or jar traffic” but be a visual clue for drivers to reduce their speed, said Clancy.

When Board Chair Mark Paolillo worried that more residents would petition for tables so that the town would be swamped with them over time, Clancy said a recent data study of Belmont Street from Trapelo to Common found the average speed was 21 mph.

“It is surprising when you do the studies how often the data actually shows that the average speed is below 25 mph,” said Clancy.

The project’s total cost will be $4,600 and will be funded from the annual pavement management account. The installation will occur in the following months.