‘Disney’s Little Mermaid’ (The Junior Version)On Stage At Chenery Middle School, May 19-21

Photo: The poster to the show this weekend.

The Chenery Middle School Theater will present its production of “Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR.

Journey “under the sea” with Ariel and her aquatic friends in this production adapted from Disney’s Broadway production and the motion picture featuring the enormously popular Academy Award-winning music and delightfully charming book and lyrics. Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories, Disney’s The Little Mermaid JR. is an enchanting look at the sacrifices we all make for love and acceptance.

In a magical underwater kingdom, the beautiful young mermaid, Ariel, longs to leave her ocean home — and her fins — behind and live in the world above. But first, she’ll have to defy her father, King Triton, make a deal with the evil sea witch, Ursula, and convince the handsome Prince Eric that she’s the girl whose enchanting voice he’s been seeking.

Shows are:

  • Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, May 20 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, May 21 at 2 p.m.

The shows will take place at the Chenery Middle School auditorium.

TICKET INFO: ADULTS: $10, STUDENTS/CHILDREN: $5

TICKETS AND INFORMATION AT bhs-pac.org/cms

‘Final’ Fuel Tank Virtual Meeting Set For May 19

Photo: The current location of the fuel tanks at the Belmont DPW Yard.

It wasn’t suppose to be this difficult: replacing a pair of ancient underground tanks at the Public Works yard which funding had already been allocated to build. But two years after Town Meeting first breached the subject, Belmont officials will bring the future of the pair of 35-year-old 6,000 fuel tanks back to the public one final time before the issue returns to Town Meeting in a few weeks.

The meeting will be held over ZOOM and by phone on Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. Connecting to the meeting via ZOOM or by phone can be found here.

After a $533,000 request from the Capital Budget Committee was approved in 2020, a $500,000 supplemental appropriation championed by the Capital Budget Committee and the Select Board was narrowly defeated by the 2021 Town Meeting after three residents – which received the support of a fledging austerity organization – brought a citizen petition article to the legislative body.

Since then, the town has been conducting a detailed analysis to answer questions about the project which included a three-month trial study over the winter on the effectiveness of off-site fueling of town-owned vehicles at neighborhood service stations.

The results of the analysis will likely be incorporated in Article 19 – which is currently a placeholder – which will come before Town Meeting in the first week of June.

Rash Of Residential Break-ins Has Belmont Police Advising Homeowners To ID Suspicious Behavior

Photo: Screen shot of the person Belmont Police believe is responsible for three housebreaks in town.

With the warmer weather has come what local law enforcement has described as an “uptick” in the number of incidences of home burglaries in town.

In a May 16 press release from Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac, Belmont has witnessed a rash of residential break-ins with three occurring near the Burbank Elementary School during the early morning hours of Monday, May 16. Homes on Adams and Madison streets and Watson Road, were entered by a suspect who appears to be traversing through backyards to move from house to house.

The suspect cuts window and door screens to gain access through open windows or an entrance way door that was unlocked. Once inside, the suspect appears to be targeting electronics – four laptops were stolen – and other valuable items. “If possible, place these items in a safe deposit box or a hidden area other than a dresser or closet,” said MacIsaac.

The Belmont Police have responded by increasing directed patrol activity in the areas where breaks have occurred while its detective division is working full time on these cases.

“We are urging residents to please call 9-1-1 immediately if they observe any activity which might be suspicious at your house or a neighbor’s house,” said MacIsaac.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?height=315&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbelmontpolice%2Fvideos%2F682201429739081%2F&show_text=false&width=560&t=0

What to look for:

  • Someone parking in front of your house and then walking down the street or around the corner.
  • A stranger walking around your or your neighbor’s house or in and through their back yard.
  • For investigative information only, please contact the BPD Detectives at: 617-993- 2550
    for all other concerns, please call 617-993-2501.

League Of Women Voters Holding Brown Bag Lunch To Hear Latest On Proposed Library

Photo: A rendering of the proposed Belmont Public Library.

The Belmont League of Women Voters will be holding a virtual Brown Bag Lunch Talk titled:

Belmont Library: Where are we? How do we get a new one? with Kathy Keohane, chair of the Library Board of Trustees, and Peter Struzziero, Belmont Library Director.

The lunch will take place on Friday, May 20 from Noon to 1:30 p.m.

The meeting will be on Zoom: Meeting ID: 880 3835 5536, Passcode: LWV or you can follow along by going to this link.

Town-Wide Covid Vaccination Clinic At Beth El Temple On Wednesday, May 25

PhotoVaccine/booster shots will be provided to public school students and staff on April 12. (Credit: Wikimedia)

The Belmont Health Department is offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible residents, including first, second and booster shots on WednesdayMay 25 from 10 a.m. to Noon at Beth El Temple Center, 2 Concord Ave.

Register for a vaccine appointment here.

Please present insurance cards, photo ID, and vaccination cards at appointment.

The CDC recommended in late March that all individuals over the age of 50 and certain immunocompromised individuals get an additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines. The decision follows authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a second booster dose for these groups four months after receiving a first booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Those eligible include:

  • Individuals 50 years of age and older at least 4 months after getting a first booster.
  • Individuals 18 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Moderna booster at least 4 months after first booster.
  • Individuals 12 and older with certain medical conditions may get a second Pfizer booster at least 4 months after the first booster.
  • In addition, per the CDC, individuals 18 and older who received a primary vaccine andbooster dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine at least 4 months ago may now receive a second booster dose using an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Residents may access booster doses from more than 1,000 locations, with appointments readily available for booking across the Commonwealth. Visit mass.gov/COVIDVaccine to make an appointment.

This clinic will be operated through a partnership between VaxinateRX and the Belmont Health Department. The Pfizer vaccine will be available.

Having difficulty registering? Call 617-993-2720 or Email: Lsharp@belmont-ma.gov for assistance

NH Man Arrested For Belmont High School Bomb Threat

Photo: Belmont High School

A 39-year-old New Hampshire man was taken into custody on Thursday, May 12, for making a bomb threat that forced the closure of Belmont High School the day before, according to a press release from Belmont Police Chief James MacIsaac.

Acting on information provided by Belmont Police detectives, members of the U.S. Marshall Fugitive and the Massachusetts State Police Fugitive task forces arrested without incident the unnamed resident of Ossipee, NH at a Holiday Inn in Peabody. He will face charges for making a false bomb threat and could face additional federal charges as well. The suspect’s connection to Belmont, if any, is unclear.

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Performing Arts Company’s One Act Festival Returns With Pirates, Baggage, And A Dead Butler

Photo: Lincoln Crockett directing the world premier of “The Butler is Dead” at the One Act Festival at Belmont High School.

The sad tales of unclaimed luggage, a murder mystery in which the butler didn’t do it and a verbally gifted pirate in search of a special someone.

These are just a few of the productions presented this week with the return of the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company’s Student Directed One Act Play Festival taking place this Thursday, Friday and Saturday, May 12-14 at 7 p.m. in the Belmont High School Black Box Theater.

Tickets can be purchased online here. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students.

The annual production is back on stage after a two-year Covid hiatus with a mix of comedy, drama and everything in between.

”One Act is a form of theater that tries to condense a message that could be conveyed in a two hour straight play or musical into 10 minutes,” said senior Lincoln Crockett who is directing the world premier of “The Butler is Dead,” by Eli Barnes, a Belmont High graduate (2019) who wrote the work to be performed in 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

See the accompanying video as Crockett goes prepares his cast for the production.

For two BHS PAC veterans who have taken up the mantel of senior director, the return to One Acts now brings new outlook to the theatrical process.

Leeza Pesok is co-directing with Giulia VecchiI “Emotional Baggage,” a one act about suitcases stuck at an airport’s unclaimed baggage counter and all the trauma and problems they go through while complaining about their lives.

“Yeah, it’s a comedy,” Pesok said.

Pesok’s fellow senior, Katie Shea, is directing “Jolly Jack Junior: The Buccaneer’s Bairn” with Talia Fiore, the tale about a pirate named Willie who has been on the hunt for someone special.

Q: What’s it like to be involved with the return of one acts after two years away?

Pesok: “My freshman year in 2019, I was in a One Act as an actor. Three years go by and, out of the blue, I’m now directing one. Seeing the production from the inside-out has given me a truly unique perspective on building a show from the bottom up as a director.

Shea: I was also in one acts my freshman year and being able to direct them now has been such a rewarding experience to see a side of production of theater that I’m not normally on.”

Leeza Pesok and Katie Shea

Q: Why did you select the plays you’re directing?

Pesok: “I just spend a couple of weeks reading different plays. And then this one just sort of jumped off the page. I could really visualize it. And I still can’t forget the moment in auditions when I heard people reading the lines for the first time after reading it for so long by myself. And it was then I just knew I made the right choice. Seeing it in rehearsals and working through it, I’m just so excited for audiences to see it.”

Shea: “When [Fiore and I] found Jolly Junior, we read the script to each other in these ridiculous British accents and we couldn’t stop laughing. We knew that this play would be so fun to produce.”

Q: Unlike a standard play or musical, one acts are known for having fairly sparse staging. How do you compensate for these limitation?

Pesok: “We don’t actually have talking suitcases on stage. The script provides a little brief description for each character – a threadbare Valise from the South or a drug smuggler’s duffel bag – and then we sort of take that and incorporate some character choices and that gives the actors a chance to make the stage come alive.”

Shea: “We were lucky enough to have plenty of pirate costumes left over from “Spongebob” [BHS PACs spring musical produced last month] so that actually worked out pretty well for us. And while we did create a minimalist pirate ship, you’ll definitely get the feel that it is one.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from your one act?

Pesok: “When you when you go through an airport, you never really think about the experiences that their bags are going through and how it must feel being carried around through your whole life. It’s cool to see all the actors connecting with different aspects of each bags life; how one was meant to go to a Realtor’s convention in Florida but got left behind and she’s so upset about it. It’s a really fun perspective to have when you just are a person and not a suitcase.”

Shea: “We’re just looking for people to have a good time and sit there and laugh for a little bit. The plot of our show is ridiculous: there’s so many made-up words in the dialogue that are supposed to be ‘pirate’ language. The actors have done an amazing job of really bringing it to life on stage. So we just hope people have fun.”

The plays include:

SURPRISE By Mark Harvey Levine
Directed by Grace Sattler
Peter’s psychic abilities are driving his date, Whitney, slowly insane.

JOLLY JACK JUNIOR: THE BUCCANEER’S BAIRN By Jeff Goode
Directed by Katie Shea and Talia Fiore
Looking for revenge, pirate Willy boards a pirate ship and demands an audience with the captain… but instead finds a secret to his past.

ALIEN MONSTER BOWLING LEAGUE By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Emily Kaiser
The arrival of Aliens is threatening Hubbard’s long reign as Bowling League Champion.

HE’S REALLY A GREAT GUY By Rory Leahy
Directed by Chris Jorgenson
Matt wants his friend Dan to get out more and meet someone special, so he sets up a double date with Heather and Annie, but Dan’s secret inner life could be a deal breaker.

1-900-DESPERATE By Christopher Durang
Directed by Claire Svetkey
Gretchen, alone on a Saturday night, impulsively calls 1-900-DESPERATE, a hotline for desperate single people. But you never know who you’ll meet on an open phone line.

EMOTIONAL BAGGAGE By Nina Shengold
Directed by Leeza Pesok and Giulia Vecchi
It’s hard to be a suitcase at the Unclaimed Baggage counter.

THE FIRST NIGHT OF CHANUKAH By Sheri Wilner
Directed by Naomi Stephenson
David Schwartz is the only jew stranded in the Devil’s Lake, North Dakota airport on the first night of Chanukah – until he encounters another traveler with a link to the (historically real) turn of the century Jewish homesteaders in North Dakota.

THE BUTLER IS DEAD By Eli Barnes (World Premier)
Directed by Lincoln Crockett
Several important guests show up to a business meeting at a fancy manor, only to find that murder occurs. *gasp* The butler must have done it…. But…. The butler is dead!

Breaking: Belmont High School Closed After Bomb Threat [Updated 1 PM]

Photo: Belmont High School on the first day of the 2021-22 school year.

Due to a phoned in bomb threat, classes at Belmont High School have been cancelled for today, Wednesday, May 11, according to an email from Principal Isaac Taylor. Four Belmont Police vehicles and a Belmont Fire engine are at the school on Concord Avenue investigating the threat.

“Out of an abundance of caution the school department has elected to close the school for the day,” noted the Belmont Police twitter account.

Taylor said in his email that he was working on “how we will reschedule AP exams that were supposed to be taking place today.”

Chenery Middle School and Belmont’s four elementary schools remain open.

“At no time were there any threats or concerns for our elementary and middle school buildings,” said Belmont Superintendent John Phelan.

Update: 1 p.m.

The Belmont School District has provided a detailed timeline of the events of Wednesday, May 11:

  • 6:34 am: Belmont Police dispatch received a call from Massachusetts 911 stating that they received a bomb threat specific to Belmont High School.
  • 6:44 am: Belmont High School administration was notified via cell phone  of the threat as they were enroute to the school building.
  • 6:45 am: Belmont Police, in collaboration with school officials, proactively pulled the fire alarm to empty the school of any staff and students who arrived early in the building.
  • 6:56 am: Belmont Police requested permission to bring the Explosive Ordinance Dogs (EOD) from surrounding municipalities to sweep the building.
  • 7:14 am: BHS administration was provided access to the internet to communicate to Belmont High School students, staff, and families of the situation and the school closure decision for today.
  • 7:23 am: District administration sent out the first communication to BHS families, students, and staff.
  • 7:36 am: EOD teams arrived at BHS to sweep school.
  • 7:53 am: District administration sent out an automated call to our Belmont High School staff and families.
  • 8:24 am: District administration sent out an email communication to our PreK-12 community.
  • 8:40 am: BHS administration sent out a second communication to families, students and staff with an update.
  • 9:42 am: School administration was informed that the sweep of the building was complete and school was safe for activities this afternoon and safe to open for a regular school day tomorrow, Thursday, May 12.

Belmont Superintendent Phelan wrote in email to the school community just before noon:

“I want to thank the Belmont Police Department and Belmont High School administration for their vigilance, support, leadership and commitment to the safety of our school community. In addition, my appreciation goes out to our neighboring police departments for their support in sweeping the building.”

“The High School administration will provide an update on the schedules for today’s afterschool activities and the rescheduling of Advanced Placement exams impacted by today’s school closure.”

“My deepest gratitude to all of our staff who supported our students in all schools today as we worked through this morning’s incident. Staff will be made available to talk with students for the remainder of the week, should there be any questions or continued concerns.”

Inaugural Lacrosse Night In Belmont Set For Saturday, May 14

Photo:

Belmont High School’s Girls and Boys teams will be hosting the first-ever Lacrosse Night in Belmont on Saturday, May 14 as the Marauders play host to the SpyPonders from Arlington High School. 

The boys’ varsity game will be begin at 4 p.m. and the girls will be facing off at 6 p.m. The night will include “some light pomp and circumstance,” according to Josh Streit, Head Coach of the Belmont Boys’ Varsity, which will involve youngsters from Belmont Youth Lacrosse.

2022 Belmont Town Meeting, Second/Third Nights Of Segment A: A New Capital Budget Committee Approved

Photo: Belmont Town Meeting approved the work of a special commission to change the Massachusetts state flag and seal (above) (credit: Commonwealth of Massachusetts)

The final two nights of Segment A of Belmont’s 2022 annual Town Meeting saw the creation of a new committee to oversee town and school capital projects, allow a group of dispatchers to retire under the plan they started with, and gave a thumbs up to updating the state flag.

The new Comprehensive Capital Budget Committee

Here was the opportunity for Town Meeting to merge the two existing committees overseeing the town’s capital process – the well established Capital Budget Committee and the two-year-old Long Term Capital Planning Committee – into an all encompassing oversight group of capital projects to be dubbed the Comprehensive Capital Budget Committee.

According to the article’s sponsor Chris Doyle, chair of the Long Term Capital Planning Committee, the new group will revise and expand the town’s capital budgeting and planning process. It will continue the work of the Capital Budget Committee which comes to Town Meeting with an annual appropriations list of projects or items requested by town departments – from fire trucks to roof repairs and everything in-between – with a new requirement to present to Town Meeting detailed one, five and 30 year plans that will evaluate major projects and financing options. The one year plan would be the annual appropriations which is voted on by Town Meeting while the five and 30 year plans will be recommendations by the CCPC provided to the annual meeting.

While there was no real opposition to the creation of the new committee – it has been under discussion and presented to the public for the past several months without much criticism – the article still came before Town Meeting with three amendments which Town Moderator Mike Widmer said was the most he’s seen at any one article in all his time as moderator. Two amendments were clearly ”housekeeping” alterations which were happily accepted by Doyle.

The third amendment from Bob McGaw, Precinct 1, sought to include language on how the three plans would be structured, by “endeavor[ing] to utilize generally accepted financial analysis tools and models in its evaluation and comparison of capital projects.” While the amendment’s suggestion on using “generally accepted” analysis models appeared to be innocuous enough, it could also be open to interpretation that troubled many as demonstrated by every board and committee reporting on it recommending “unfavorable action.”

While opponents to the McGaw amendment were OK with deep dives on the finances of capital projects – Ann Marie Mahoney, Precinct 1 and chair of the CBC, said what McGaw is seeking “is already happening” with her committee including analyzing purchasing vs. leasing and calculating life expectancy of renovation or reconstruction projects – they believed the phrasing was far too vague.

“This sentence is completely unworkable,” said Claus Becker, Precinct 5, as ”there is no list of ‘generally accepted financial analysis’ tool in the context of local governance.” Becker said if a resident doesn’t accept the work a committee or board has produced, it is their “civic duty” to do their own analysis and present it to the public for comment.

The McGaw amendment was set aside by Town Meeting and the article was approved by a wide margin, 244-8-3.

Retirement Classification of Certain Employees

Precinct 7’s Michael McNamara put it succinctly when he renamed the measure on the Retirement Classification of Certain Employees brought before Town Meeting as the “keeping them from being stiffed” article.

Tom Gibson, chair of the Belmont Retirement Board and the sponsor of the article, reported that the article came as a result of the latest three year audit by the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission – which regulates, oversee and guides the operation state’s public pension systems – which determined that Belmont’s dispatchers are misclassified in terms of their pension benefits. While they are placed in group 2 – which includes employees whose major duties are the care and custodial duties involving prisoners – the auditors said they should be group 1, which are for clerical, administrative, management and technical employees. That change would have an impact on the calculation of an employee’s retirement allowance which will eventual the final benefit.

Gibson said the PERAC-directed change would impact just eight Belmont employees and all future employees. Under the new group designation, the eight would be required to work more years to receive the amount they were expecting under the existing plan. The article would grandfather those under the existing Group 2 classification with all new employees be slotted into Group 1.

As both Gibson and Select Board Chair Mark Paolillo noted, voting yes on the article was to a measure of fairness for the eight dispatchers. While the majority of speakers supported the article, some who said they were fine with the measure were miffed that the Retirement or Select Board didn’t have an analysis of the ”added” cost of keeping the dispatchers in Group 2 available to members.

After a bit back and forth with members, Gibson revealed that there would be a $159,423 increase to keep the dispatchers where they are.

Fairness passes: 247-6-5

Changing the State Flag and Seal (non-binding)

This article was fairly self explanatory: Citizen petition sponsor Joseph Barnard, Precinct 3, hoped that the town would approve a resolution to support a special commission as it goes about the mission of changing the Massachusetts state flag and seal. Barnard said this is not a new issue, that indigenous people have been saying for generations that the flag and seal were ”offensive and harmful” and a yes vote ”is to uplift and amplify an indigenous led campaign for change.” Go here for more information.

Not much in terms of debate as nearly all speakers were enthusiastic in backing the measure, although one member did ask for the data that would support the contention that ”a large majority of native Americans find the current state flag offensive.” Barnard admitted he didn’t have a poll or survey to call on but said he believed the indigenous leaders who backed the commission would know what their constituents thinking on the matter. It passed 222-12-19.

Town Meeting Returns In June

Segment B of Town Meeting which articles involving the town and school budgets will be voted, will commence on Wednesday, June 1 at 6:30 a.m., likely via Zoom and on local cable access.