Payson Park Music Festival’s 27th Season Opens Wed., June 21

Photo: Poster

The 27th season of the Payson Park Music Festival Committee opens Wednesday, June 21, at 6:45 p.m. with “Craig and the Hurricane” sponsored by Emello & Pagani Realty and The Spirited Gourmet.

“We are thrilled to continue this tradition offering the community fun and family-friendly music on summer nights,” says Tomi Olson, Payson Park Music Festival’s director.  “We receive such fabulous feedback on the concerts from all ages of fans.”

For the full schedule and more information, including how you can get involved, visit

The Payson Park Music Festival runs Wednesdays until August 30. June and July evening concerts start at 6:45 pm; beginning mid-August, start time is 6:30 pm. In addition to the evening program, four children’s programs will be offered on consecutive Fridays at 10:30 am, beginning July 7 and ending July 28. All concerts are held at Payson Park.

“Join us if you love soft, summer days and evenings, music, and the Belmont community,” Tomi said.  “Bring a picnic supper and a blanket, come down and enjoy a wonderful evening!”  Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities also exist.

The Payson Park Music Festival Committee is a 501(c)(3) organization funded by private citizens and made available through the cooperation and support by the Town of Belmont. 

Obituary: Elizabeth Ann “Liz” Sorrell, Belmont Educator, Mentor

Photo: Elizabeth Ann “Liz” Sorrell

Elizabeth Ann “Liz” Sorrell, who was Belmont Public Schools’ Director of Science, Technology, and Health for nine years, died on May 29 at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The Wellfleet resident was 69.

Born in Lexington, Kentucky in 1948, Sorrell dedicated her life to education and helping others having been an administrator and educator for 45 years. She was a science teacher, a science curriculum director, assistant superintendent, and superintendent, recently retiring as Superintendent of Carver Public Schools from 2006 to 2016.

Sorrell served as Belmont’s Director of Science, Technology, and Health from 1995 to 2004.

“I was fortunate to know Liz for almost 20 years, meeting her on my first day in Belmont as the Foreign Language Director in August 1997,” said Janice Darias, Belmont’s assistant superintendent. 

“I learned so much from Liz and have continued to benefit from her support and wisdom ever since. She helped me become the educator I am today, and as I’ve spent this past week speaking to those who knew her, they have echoed this sentiment over and over. Her legacy will live on in the many, many lives that she touched,” Darias said.

Throughout her life, Liz was an active volunteer in her local churches, and with Meals on Wheels, Hands Across America, and Habitat for Humanity. In recent years, she served on her town’s water board, as Board President of the HILL for Literacy and as Board President of Directors for Cape Cod Children’s Place.

She always lived life to the fullest spending time with friends and family, sewing, travelling and kayaking. She was also well known for her beautiful gardens, photography, and wonderful cooking. 

“Her legacy will live on in the many, many lives that she touched,” said Darias.

Sorrell graduated from Stetson University in Florida and earned a Master of Education and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Cambridge College.

Liz leaves behind two daughters, Liesel and Katherine Wilbers, her brother, Melville Carter Sorrell and her nephews, Carter and John.

A private service was held. A celebration of Liz’s life will be held at her home (now her daughter’s home) in Wellfleet on July 29, with a rain date of July 30.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Elizabeth A. Sorrell Memorial Scholarship, which will be awarded to future Carver High School graduates. See more at There will also be a memorial bench in Liz’s honor on the Cape. See more at

For online condolences, visit

School Street From Washington To Bow Will Be Closed Thursday

Photo: School Street from Washington to Bow will be closed Thursday.

On Thursday, June 22, E.H. Perkins will begin road construction on School Street between Bow Road and Washington Street. Road closures and delays are expected during construction hours from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

While that stretch of School Street includes the Burbank Elementary School, Belmont schools will have been closed for summer recess the day before, on June 21.

Vehicular access to homes in this section of town might be limited during work hours.

“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience,” noted a press release from the town.

For any questions or concerns about the project, please contact Arthur O’Brian, resident engineer in the Office of Community Development, at 617-993-2665.

Remembering a Son, Celebrating Fathers at Record-Setting Brendan’s Home Run

Photo: Brighton’s Rosa Moriello smashes the existing female record to win the 16th Annual Brendan’s Home Run 5K road race held Sunday, June 18.

A new course record was set on the streets of Belmont as nearly 500 participants took part in the 16th Annual Brendan’s Home Run 5K road race that started and finished at Belmont’s Harris Field on Father’s Day, June 18.

“There’s no place I’d rather be on Father’s Day than here,” said Casey Grant, whose son, Brendan, died tragically during a baseball game in June 2001. Money raised by the race supports the Brendan Grant Foundation, created to honor the memory of a multi-sports athlete – wrestling, baseball, and football – who exhibited a true passion for life.

As for the race, Brighton’s Rosa Moriello took apart the previous women’s course record of 17 minutes and 15 seconds set last year by Laura Nagel, finishing in 16:32. 

The 2015 Boston University grad who was recently named to a US national cross country squad said her goal was to “hang tough and see what I could do and try to be close to my road PR.” While she didn’t match her 5K personal best, “I did chase down some boys which is always nice and exciting,” as she prepares for the USTrack and Field-New England 10K Championship in July.

Mitchell Klingler was visiting the Boston-area from Michigan to see his girlfriend when he came across the race on Facebook. Despite having done a great deal of walking while sightseeing in the past few days, “I asked my girlfriend, ‘You care if I run this 5K?’ and she said ‘Go for it,'” said Klingler.

The Albion College graduate put in a surge sometime after the second mile, finishing in 15:10 to take the victory over a strong field.

 “It was definitely a fun race, hot day but fast course,” said Klingler.

“He lucked out and made $500,” said Brian Rogers, the long-time race director.

Complete results can be found here at Cool Running.

The race attracted more than 350 runners and more than a hundred walkers on a warm and humid Sunday morning. The field not only attracted those seeking a fast time going into the summer, but parents and children, residents who make this a yearly Father’s Day tradition and a hoard of children who ran their own quarter mile race.

“This race works on a lot of levels, and that’s the beauty of it,” said Rogers. Saying there is a special glow about the foundation, Rogers said countless people give their time, provide contributions and make contacts all of “which keeps the memory of Brendan alive today.”

Funds raised by the race and other events have provided scholarships to 41 Belmont High School student athletes, said Grant.

Turning A New Page: Doors Open at Belmont Books In Center

Photo: Belmont Book’s Matilda Banker-Johnson with the book purchased by the editor of the Belmontonian.

The long sheets of paper have been taken from the windows, the shelves are almost all filled with books and while you will need to wait a little bit longer to get a cappuccino, the Town of Homes has seen the return of its very own bookstore as Belmont Books opened officially for browsers and bibliophiles on Friday morning, June 16.

“It has taken us five years to get to this point,” said Belmont resident Chris Abouzeid, who with his wife, Kathy Crowley, own the general bookstore. 

Abouzeid, who was a bookseller for Porter Square Books for many years, said it’s “basically scary” opening up a new store. “We’re new to retail, and we don’t make any pretense otherwise,” he said, noting they had plenty of help from friends in the business. 

The two-floor store – large children’s and young adult sections upstairs – with its new bright interior at 75 Leonard St. is the second business to settle in the renovated Macy’s/Filene’s building following Foodies Urban Market by a month.

Residents who have followed the build-up via the store’s Twitter feed 

“We knew this was a community that wanted a bookstore after fighting to try and keep the last one,” said Abouzeid referring to the Charlesbank Bookshop that closed in January 2010. “We wouldn’t have tried this if they community didn’t seem to care.”

And town residents have been eagerly anticipating the opening, many following the daily updates via Twitter and other social media sites.

“All we’ve heard for the last eight months is ‘when are you opening? when are you opening?'” said Abouzeid. 

The opening came at an advantageous time as “[w]e really wanted to open this weekend because of Father’s Day and give people an opportunity to buy their summer reading before leaving town [the] schools closing,” said Abouzeid, who along with Crowley, is an author. 

Abouzeid and Crowley are entering a market dominated by the online behemoth Amazon (which on the same day purchased Whole Foods) which has millions of titles on hand which they sell at a discount that a solo store can not match.

But evidence indicates that customers are not abandoning the local shop. While the number of bookstores nationwide has declined by 12 percent from 2012 to 2016, membership in an independent booksellers trade group has grown almost 13 percent in the five years to 2016.

“E-book sales have flattened, and folks are showing that they prefer to hold a real book and that includes young people that you might not expect. They are on electronic devices all day long, so a book is more relaxing.”

He also spoke of the environment of a book buying experience is heightened by searching for a new book in a store, especially in one that is new to the community.

“Just the colors, the feeling, the atmosphere. You can’t get that shopping online,” said Abouzeid. The staff, who will be making recommendations and emphasizing customer service, will also be a draw for shoppers.

“Hopefully, over time, we’ll get to know our customers that come in regularly. We’ll know six months down the line before a new book is coming out so we can make a suggestion to buyers who are fans of the author,” he said. “And you’d be surprised that you’ll get seven-year-olds who say, “Do you have this book” and we can answer them right away.”

Store manager Matilda Banker-Johnson, who has been working in bookstores since she was 16, said one of her primaryr4 goals is an attempt to carry books customers want to read – and conceivably purchase – “so they’ll feel like they belong here.”

The store’s inaugural event will feature two local debut authors as “The Salt House” writer Lisa Duffy talks with Crystal King, author of “Feast of Sorrow” about their books on Thursday, June 22, at 7 p.m.   

Belmont Books is located at 75 Leonard St. in Belmont Center.

Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursdays: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Parking is on Leonard Street and in the municipal parking lot behind the Center. 

Market Day in Belmont Could Include Strawberries, Chenery Musicians on Hand

Photo: Will we find strawberries on Market Day in Belmont.

It’s market day in Belmont and there’s a good chance there will be strawberries for sale. If they are or not, There will be more than 90 minutes of great music by musicians from the Chenery Middle School.

The Belmont Light Department will be answering questions and giving out merchandise at our Community Table and we’ll have performances from Aleisha and the Chenery 7th and 8th music ensembles. As always, come join Storytime for the little ones at 4 p.m.

Belmont’s Farmers Market – open from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. – is located in the Belmont Center Municipal Parking lot behind Leonard Street at the intersection of Cross Street at Channing Road.

Weekly vendors: Bread Obsession*, Brookford Farm*, Del Sur Empandas*, Dick’s Market Garden, El Recreo Coffee*, Foxboro Cheese Co., Goodies Homemade, Hutchins Farm, Mamadou’s Artisan Bakery, Red’s Best, Stillman Quality Meats, Underwood Greenhouses

Occasional vendors here this week: Deano’s Pasta*, El Recreo Coffee*, Gluten Free Me*, Halvah Heaven*, Japonaise Bakery*, Rain barrels (Sustainable Belmont), The Warren Farm and Sugarhouse, Underwood Greenhouses.

* indicates new vendors

In the Events Tent

  • 2 p.m.: The duo “Aleisha.”
  • 4 p.m.: Stories for children about farms, farmers’ markets & home gardens (sample titles) from the librarians from the Belmont Public Library’s Children’s Room.
  • 4:30 p.m.: The 8th-grade chamber orchestra and 8th-grade small wind ensemble from the Chenery Middle School.
  • 5:30 p.m.: The 7th and 8th-grade jazz combos.

Heat, Age Caused Transformer Explosion Blacking Out Belmont

Photo: (from left) Belmont Light’s Jim Palmer, Belmont Selectmen’s Chair Jim Williams and Selectman Adam Dash at the emergency meeting of the Belmont Board of Selectmen to discuss the June 12 blackout.

The timing of the widespread power outage that affected between a quarter to a third of town residents during the hottest day of the year “was like our worst nightmare,” said James Palmer, general manager of Belmont Light, as he spoke to an emergency meeting of the Board of Selectmen held at Town Hall on Tuesday, June 13,

Palmer said a 90 degree plus afternoon in June when electrical demand had peaked with the town schools in session limited how the municipal utility could attack the equipment failure at one of the aging substations in town, requiring Belmont Light to rush in mobile generators to get the lights back on.

“We really had no other choice,” said Palmer.

The meeting, called by Selectmen Chair Jim Willams, brought the chiefs of police and fire, department heads to discuss their response to the incident and any further impact of the large-scale outage that left some neighborhoods without power for nearly 10 hours.

Highlights of the meeting

  • The town’s and the utility’s contingency plans developed to meet such an emergency received relatively good scores from town officials, said acting Town Administrator Phyliss Marshall. “I think I can honestly say that … we are very well prepared [for incidents such as these],” said Police Chief Richard McLaughlin.                     
  • It was the heat and the age of the equipment that lead to the single transformer in the Hittinger substation to “explode,” said Palmer. Luckily, the transformer did not catch fire due to safety systems that worked as a circuit breaker and cut off the electricity entering the substation. Had a fire started, the impact of a subsequent oil-based fire would have stretched fire resources and would have likely created havoc for months for the Light Department.
  • Three generator trucks were used to supplement the utility’s substation until repairs were completed. It’s suspected the cost of renting the trucks from Sunbelt from Hyde Park will be covered by insurance. 
  • Belmont Superintendent John Phelan and Belmont High School staff and educators decided to end the school day around 1:20 p.m. since power was not expected to be re-established until after the end of the scheduled classes. Students at the Chenery and Winn Brook who also lost power were kept in their buildings for the remainder of the day for safety and logistic reasons.
  • The Chenery Middle School was closed on Tuesday as a 400 amp transfer switch on the school’s backup generator malfunctioned, despite passing inspection just two weeks previous. According to Fire Chief David Frizzell, this switch has a tendency to act erratically if not used regularly. When he reinspected it Tuesday morning, Frizzell said it was working as expected. But the switch is now scheduled to be replaced.

Chenery Closed Tuesday Due To After Effects Of Monday’s Power Outage

Photo: Schools out for … June 13.

Chenery Middle School will be closed Tuesday, June 13 due to the impact of yesterday’s power outage on the building’s backup generator.

In an email to middle school parents and guardians, Belmont Superintendent John Phelan said that after consulting with the Belmont Fire Department “there is a concern the backup generator at the Chenery is not within the state safety regulations.”  

“Therefore, the school will not be in session on Tuesday, June 13th for Chenery students,” he said.

Phelan warned the school community there is “a possibility that this process may take more than one school day” to bring the generator up to Fire Department muster. He said he would keep adults, students, and educators updated throughout the day.

In the one bit of good news for parents and kids is that the “cancelled day of school will NOT be added to the end of the school, per Department of Elementary and Secondary Education policy,” said Phelan.

“The last day of school for all students, including Chenery students, remains Wednesday, June 21.”

Equipment Failure Turns Off the Lights To 2K Belmont Light Customers Into The Dark

Photo: A Belmont Light equipment truck stationed at the Hittinger substation during the outage.

Worcester Street’s Hannah Liberty decided Monday morning that getting on a crowded MBTA bus with a mob of sweaty, miserable commuters on the hottest day of the year was not something she was going to do this Monday morning.

Liberty called her job and told them she would work from home which would include taking a three-hour business call from Seattle, all inside her air conditioned house.

“I thought that was a good idea,” she said.

By 1:30 p.m., Liberty was sitting on the second floor of the Belmont Public Library, laptop and phone in hand, as she prepared for the West Coast call.

“About an hour ago, my lights suddenly went out so no air conditioning and no internet,” said an aspirated Liberty, as she sat next to a pair of chatty high schoolers, not the optimum location to take an important call.

“It turned out to be a mistake not to head off to work,” she said. 

Liberty and thousands of other residents found themselves scrambling for a cool place and a connection to the web when around 12:30 p.m., Monday, June 12, a transformer failure at the Hittinger Street substation created a major power outage in large sections of Belmont.

According to Belmont Light spokesperson Aidan Leary, intense heat – the high in Belmont hit 94 degrees – a spike in demand, as well as aging infrastructure were all contributing factors to the equipment failure.

Approximately 2,000 of Belmont Light’s 11,250 customers were without electric service when the outage started, including Belmont High School, Chenery Middle School, and the Winn Brook Elementary School.

Belmont High students were released for the remainder of the day after it since power would not be restored until late afternoon.

When the severity of the outage was known, Belmont Light’s operations team activated its contingency plan, which included implementing a temporary generation protocol to restore power and ensure that the electrical delivery system would be able to handle all demand going forward, said Leary. 

A Belmont Light equipment truck was stationed at the Hittinger substation, where it was joined by four white SUVs from American Electrical Testing Co. of Foxboro. The firm is known for its array of transformer services.  

Belmont Light restored power to about half of the impacted customers within two hours. By 7 p.m., power had been restored to another 500 customers. The remaining 500 customers in the southeast corner of Belmont along the border with Cambridge were back online by 10 p.m. 

Several residents asked the Belmontonian why the Hittinger substation is in use since the new Blair Pond substation – built to replace the three smaller transmission and distribution structures at Hittinger Street, at the former Light Department Headquarters on Concord Avenue and adjacent to the Chenery Middle School – was commissioned in May. 

Leary said while the new substation located on Flanders Road off Brighton Street is energized, the Master Plan created by Belmont Light to meet future demand calls for the electrical load to be routed through the three older facilities until they are decommissioned in a couple of years.

In addition to the major blackout, there were intermittent outages throughout Belmont as the hot weather caused demand to spike and the system was stretched to its capacity.

Belmont Light will continue to investigate the cause of Monday’s outage and inspect equipment, said Leary.

Town Announces Its Scholarship Recipients

Photo: The scholarship award winners: FRONT ROW: (from left) Judy Li, Aisling Madden, Noah Riley, Eleanor Thidemann. TOP ROW: (from left)  Bo Lan, Cindy (Xinyi) Zhang, Francesca Mei, Ava Madden, Su Jing Chen and Ms. June Yacubian, a member of the scholarship committee.

The Town of Belmont Scholarship was presented to nine Belmont High School graduating seniors at a school-wide award’s ceremony earlier in June.

They are:

  • Judy Li
  • Aisling Madden
  • Noah Riley
  • Eleanor Thidemann
  • Bo Lan
  • Cindy (Xinyi) Zhang
  • Francesca Mei
  • Ava Madden
  • Su Jing Chen

The Town of Belmont Education Scholarship is made possible to outstanding students who reside in Belmont and are members of any high school, vocational school, private or parochial school. 

The scholarship is funded by taxpayers’ check-off contributions and private donations earmarked for general scholarship purposes. Scholarships are awarded on financial need, academic performance (unweighted GPA), and extracurricular activities including community services, school groups and clubs.

Applications are scored by an independent third party, and evaluated by the seven-member Town of Belmont Education Scholarship Committee.