V-Day Belmont Participating in ‘A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer’ Dec 12, 13

Photo: Poster for the event.

An event to support women and girls safety, “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” (MMRP) will be presented by V-Day Belmont in collaboration with the Haley House Bakery Café. The reading will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12 and Wednesday, Dec. 13 at the Haley House Bakery Café, 12 Dade St., located in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

Tickets are available at the door and cost $10 each.

MMRP is a collection of essays solicited by Eve Ensler and Mollie Doyle that tell the stories of women who have experienced violence and abuse. The stories were written by well-known writers, journalists, and published authors and will be performed by local residents from both Belmont and Roxbury.

V-Day is a global movement that’s mission is to stop violence against women and girls. The designated beneficiary for the proceeds from this performance will be New Beginnings Reentry Services Inc., a program for women leaving prison, based in the Boston area. It’s the first of its kind in Massachusetts and will offer a fully comprehensive residential program with services.

V-Day Belmont and New Beginnings Reentry Services have become strong partners in working towards the goal of raising funds to purchase a facility to house 15 women and begin to offer a full range of services and implement this unique program model. For more information contact New Beginnings Reentry Services founder Stacey Borden.

This will be the third production of “A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer” for V-Day Belmont. In August 2017, V-Day Belmont collaborated with Haley House Bakery Café and performed “The Vagina Monologues” at the Café. It was a tremendous success and plans are being made to bring it to Belmont in February 2018.

For more information, contact V-Day Belmont by email at socialaction@uubelmont.org

From the Headlines: Belmont High Performing Arts To Stage ‘9 to 5’ As Spring Musical

Photo: The poster for the show.

It is a show ripped from today’s headlines; The Belmont High School Performance Arts Company’s Spring Musical will be “9 to 5: The Musical” with shows performed from March 22 to 24, 2018. Based on the hit 1980 movie, ‘9 to 5’ features music written for the show by Dolly Parton.

“It is upbeat, funny, full of great singing & dance numbers and delivers a message about empowerment that is relevant and important today,” said Ezra Flam, Belmont High’s Theater Specialist and Performing Arts Company Producer/Director.

“The plot centers around three women in the workplace who get fed up with being harassed by their sexist boss and decide to stand up for themselves and turn the office into a place where fairness and compassion prevails. The educational opportunity to have timely and relevant conversations about these issues with so many students is very exciting,” said Flam.

“It’s also a very fun show, with songs that run the range in style from pop to rock to country to contemporary musical theater. It definitely has something for everyone,” he said.

And PAC fans can expect another 

“Auditions are happening now, and this is already shaping up to be another big show for the PAC, with over 80 kids coming out to audition,” said Flam.

Wellington Principal Search Starts In January As Steward’s Named Interim

Photo: Annemarie Stewart, newly appointed interim principal of the Wellington.

Rather than rush the process of finding a leader for one of Belmont’s elementary schools, Belmont School District Superintendent John Phelan has named Wellington Assistant Principal Annemarie Stewart Interim Principal of the Wellington Elementary School, beginning her new role as of Jan. 1, 2018.

She is replacing Amy Spangler who is leaving the Wellington after five years in charge.

The permanent position of the new principal will be posted at the end of January, and a screening committee comprised of staff and parents will be formed after the winter recess. The finalists will be interviewed by the school’s staff and the public before a finalist is selected, with an effective starting date of July 1. 

Stewart matriculated at Villanova earning a BA in elementary education. She holds Masters degrees in education from Lesley and Endicott. Stewart spent nearly 11 years as a special education teacher in the Brookline district before coming to Belmont in September.

Letter to the Editor: Selectmen Personal Preferences Sunk Pay As You Throw

Photo: Logo for pay as you throw trash collection.

To the editor:

In a Nov. 16th public pronouncement, Jim Williams provided his reasoning as Chair of the Board of Selectmen on their recent trash decision. I appreciate his clarifying the factors that informed the decision to pursue only one option for the trash and recycling Request For Proposal (RFP). What is evident from his letter and from the September meeting where the Selectmen made their decision, was that cost, environmental impact, and convenience were not important considerations, if at all.

The Board of Selectmen broke precedent and procurement best practice by selecting only one option in the RFP. Without any basis for comparison, there is no meaningful way to know the comparative impact their choice will have on the Town’s finances. Generally, having cost information quickly narrows the choices so having multiple options means it would be easier to achieve consensus, along with informing us about the pros and cons of each option. For instance, the last time Belmont went out to bid its trash contract, an automated collection was more expensive than manual pick-up which was apparent when bids for both options were compared.

The Pay As You Throw (PAYT) option was rejected as an option for five years, (the length of the contract as stated in the RFP) not because of costs, or for lack of support (Town Meeting voted 62 percent in favor of evaluating this option). The majority of Selectmen viewed PAYT as just a financing scheme, even though proponents advocated a revenue-neutral approach, whereby the Town would give back all fees to households. This included rebating households on their monthly electric bills. Yet repeated misstatements by Mark Paolillo and Williams and Department of Public Works showed they preferred to characterize it as a tax and something that would interfere with raising funds in the future. Yet no evidence was presented to support this belief, and no public outreach was done. The irony is that the option the Selectmen chose will likely put more pressure on the need to raise taxes with more than $500,000 additional funds needed to buy and maintain barrels and automated trucks.

The experience of 147 communities in Massachusetts has demonstrated that PAYT saves them money by reducing trash sent for disposal and significantly increases recycling.

Judging from the public meetings on trash, there was no consensus on the 64-gallon bin with automated collection option. So it’s difficult for the Selectmen to claim they were acting in the majority interest of town residents.

While it’s not explicit in Mr. Williams’ letter, personal preference may have been what drove his and Mr. Paolillo’s decision. While it’s natural elected officials have their own preferences, these preferences include blind spots–something we all have. To help guard against blind spots, officials can seek out reliable information from a variety of sources. For instance, the Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Group (I was a member) studied many choices for Belmont’s trash for over a year and recommended four options to include in the RFP. Town Meeting voted by a strong majority to compare “all options including PAYT.” Both citizen bodies provided valuable information about the Town’s preferences and viable options.

Over-reliance on one source of information can create blind spots. This was evident when Williams at the Sept. 25 public meeting stated, “DPW are the experts, we should follow their recommendations.” Yet DPW was not a neutral provider of facts. They have expressed for years their desire to implement 64-gallon carts with automated collection. In addition, in a trash audit they procured and widely publicized, the sample used for their recommendations was so distant from Belmont’s averages, it didn’t even come close to representing our trash and recycling patterns. For instance, the sample claimed the average household set out 46 gallons a week of trash. Yet the Town’s annual average is about 28 gallons, according to data from DPW. The audit also claimed households had 50 percent more recycling than they achieved on average. The Selectmen were told of these errors on several occasions, but they did not change their views or ask for a revised analysis. DPW acknowledged the audit numbers were not to be used in the RFP. The inflated estimates for total waste and recycling tonnage in the audit were apparently useful in swaying the Selectmen, but not good enough to use for the bids.

The role of Belmont’s elected officials is to provide oversight and curb attempts – accidental or intentional – to mislead the public and Town Meeting. It’s not easy to challenge the administration of the Town that we depend on for many key services. Yet, without oversight, citizens can’t ascertain that the Town has their best interests in mind when making decisions. The governance of the Town depends on this trust so using unchallenged misleading information erodes trust–something that is needed when Belmont is facing a $4 million deficit and a new high school.

To squash any questions which might check blind spots, Williams recently changed a long-standing tradition of citizen’s raising questions for five minutes prior to Selectmen’s meetings. Williams required that questions be submitted two days prior to the agenda was published, and therefore before the public knew what to comment on for approval by the Chair. At least four citizens have tried to raise questions about the trash RFP two days before recent meetings but were denied.

Where do we go from here? Adding another RFP with additional options that could potentially save money might help restore confidence that the Selectmen care about costs, convenience, and environmental impact and finding consensus as they procure services. They might also support the PTO/PTA Green Alliance’s plan to divert food waste from school trash (it represents 75 percent of school’s waste) and save the Town over a hundred thousand dollars annually. Or add curbside textile recycling that would actually earn Belmont money. There are a number of other creative options for reducing waste and saving money in Belmont if the Selectmen and DPW would work with interested citizens.

With an improved process where the Selectmen reckon with the costs and other features of different options, they can demonstrate they have heard what many have requested, provide good oversight and help restore trust in how the Town is governed. As it stands, we are left with the clear conclusion that the Town wants to implement a more expensive option – without considering other choices, in direct contradiction to the will of Town Meeting and the desires of many residents. We are going in the wrong direction, especially when the taxpayers will be asked to fund an override in the near future.

Kim Slack

Taylor Road

Garden Club Holding Holiday ‘Greens’ Sale Saturday, Dec. 2

Photo: Nancy Haley of the Belmont Garden Club.

Nancy Haley has been a member of the Belmont Garden Club for “all of three months” but that didn’t put-off the long-time Belmont resident from showing off her wreath-making skills at the Belmont Public Library this week. 

Haley joined more than a dozen fellow enthusiasts preparing for The Belmont Garden Club’s annual Holiday Greens Sale on Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Belmont/Watertown United Methodist Church, 421 Common St.

The sale will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Handmade greens designs will be available along with a Bake Sale of delicious home-baked goodies and a Green Elephant Table with an assortment of items to fill your home with holiday joy.  

Come early for best selections.

Santa’s ‘Turning On’ Belmont Center Thursday, Nov. 30

Photo: It’s Santa!

Santa is coming to Belmont Savings Bank on Thursday, Nov. 30 during Belmont’s 27th annual “Turn on the Town” celebration. The festivities will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Leonard Street in Belmont Center.

“We are excited to kick off another holiday season with the Belmont community at this year’s Turn on the Town celebration,” said Bob Mahoney, president and CEO of Belmont Savings Bank. “As always, we are thankful for the opportunity to sponsor this special festivity bringing together families, friends and residents of Belmont. We look forward to seeing everyone there.”

On Nov. 30, Santa will arrive and light the tree at 6:20 p.m. He will then ride his sleigh to the Belmont Saving Bank main branch located at 2 Leonard Street to pose for free photos from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Inside the branch, attendees will also have the opportunity to win holiday prize stockings stuffed with goodies provided by local businesses.

Outside the branch, Bank employees will be handing out hot chocolate and offering free train rides on Moore Street. Inside the bank’s garage will be a petting zoo.

Residents are encouraged to celebrate the season of giving and bring non-perishable food items or unwrapped toys to be donated to the Belmont Food Pantry.

In anticipation of the event, the Bank has launched its fifth annual “Santa’s Helper Contest.” This contest offers kids a chance to win a ride in the horse-drawn Sleigh with Santa and Mrs. Claus from the tree lighting to the Bank’s Belmont Center branch. The winners will also be first in line to have their photo taken with Santa inside the Bank’s branch. Parents may enter their children to win on the Bank’s website.

For more information, please visit https://www.belmontsavings.com/community-involvement/belmont-turn-on-the-town.

Find Your Christmas Tree in the Belmont Lions (Club) Den

Photo: Alex (left) and Mary Rogul perusing the wares at the Belmont Lions’ annual Christmas Tree Sale.

Belmont resident Mary Rogul walked along rows of evergreens with her son, Alex, 10, in search of the Christmas tree to be their home’s holiday centerpiece.

And what makes a certain tree the “right” one for the Rogul clan?

“A really chubby one so we can hang all the decorations,” said Alex as they perused on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Nov. 26.

“We come by each year because they do sell the best trees,” said Mary, who came with Alex, husband Emerick and son Nathan, 8.

For nearly 70 years after Thanksgiving, the triangle in front of the Belmont Lions Club becomes the center of the local Christmas tree universe as approximately 3,000 trees and wreaths travel 14 hours from a farm in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia as part of the Lions’ annual Christmas Tree Sale along Royal Road at the entrance of Belmont Center.

“It’s a great community give-back as it serves so many causes,” said John McNamara, who is one of four team captains who leads the 50-plus volunteers who work the sale. 

The tree and wreath sale is the Lions’ biggest annual fundraiser, said McNamara, with the money supporting Mass Eye Research, the Lions Club International Foundation, Diabetes Awareness, scholarships for students at Belmont High School, community activities, Lions Clubhouse Historic Preservation and more activities.

The proceeds of this year’s tip jar goes to Belmont S.P.O.R.T. and Adaptive Sports New England.

Trees are sold from noon to 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends, “until the last tree is gone” which occurs usually a week before Christmas, said McNamara. 

“The reason we sell out is people come back each year because they know the money they spend goes to a good cause. It’s not like we’re making a profit. Everyone is donating their time,” he said.

The prices for trees are according to the height indicated on the board next to the wrapping area.

  • 4 feet   $23
  • 5 feet   $32
  • 6 feet   $40
  • 7 feet   $45
  • 8 feet   $50
  • 9 feet   $55+
  • Special shaped trees are priced as marked.
  • Wreaths range from $12 for a small 12-inch plain one to more than $35 for a decorated (bow and ) 24-inch.

There are also tree stands, tree bags, and center and mantelpieces for sale.

And the Roguls took home a Balsam Fir that was wrapped up and placed on the family car.

“We like to support local business and we care about Belmont,” said Mary.

Watertown Airs It Out To Down Belmont, 35-16, in 97th Thanksgiving Game

Photo: Belmont senior Will Ellet defended by Watertown’s John Korte. (photo by Ian Findlay)

The formula Watertown High Raiders used Thanksgiving morning to get by crosstown rival Belmont in the annual Turkey Day contest was relatively simple: find wide receiver John Korte and throw it to him.

And that tactic worked as the tall senior – the 6’5″ Korte is expected to be the Raiders’ starting center this upcoming hoops season – scored three times via junior quarterback Nick McDermott while making a handful of clutch catches to lead the Raiders over the Marauders, 35-16, in the 97th edition of the rivalry held at Victory Field.

“The defense was pretty stout through most of this game especially against the run from our linebackers and ends,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Yann Kumin after the game. “But I also thought we missed some opportunities on offense. Plays were there, but we didn’t execute. All credit to [Watertown Head Coach] John [Cacace]. They … played a great game,” said Kumin.

Watertown ends the season at 7-5 including some major silverware, the Division 5 North Sectional title and one win from a Superbowl appearance. Belmont finished the campaign at 2-9, coming close in some games but falling short. 

While Belmont’s defense was able to keep Watertown’s ground game in check for three-quarters of the game, it was just a step behind when the Raiders took to the air with Korte its most lethal weapon. Watertown scored on the opening (at 8:23), and closing (2:31) drives of the first quarter with Korte scoring from 48 and 46 yards.

There were a number of stellar plays in the first half by Belmont’s defense including a drive stopping run blitz tackle by senior linebacker Adam Deese on a third down and short deep in Marauder territory late in the first quarter and a timely sack of McDermott by sophomore lineman Derrick Bow followed by sophomore Justin Rocha’s breaking up a McDermott pass. Both drives ended in missed field goals by senior Conor Kennelly.

Offensively, Belmont’s usually accurate senior quarterback George Fitzgerald was a little off target especially in the first half when Belmont could not sustain its drives. The Marauders did get a boost from the punting of senior Aidan Cadogan who booted 53 and 45-yard punts on the day. Despite a muffed punt deep in Belmont’s end with less than a minute to play in half, the Marauders’ forced a field goal attempt that Kennelly hooked wide in the final seconds. 

After halftime – which saw the Belmont High Marching Band perform its “Gold” routine for a final time – it appeared Watertown was heading for another score after forcing yet another Belmont punt after a three and out. But a fumble recovery near midfield put a spark in Belmont’s offense, and it smartly drove downfield finishing with senior running back Tyler Reynolds turning the right corner and scampering for the TD from six yards out with five minutes left in the third to cut the lead in half, 14-7.

But Watertown quickly upped the lead back to two touchdowns as senior running back Matthew Muldrew scored the first of his brace from two yards out with 2:53 remaining on a series that began with a 40-yard completion between McDermott and Korte to increase the lead to 21-7. The Raiders would mix it up on its next drive with short strikes by McDermott and running plays that saw Muldrew score again with about eight minutes remaining in the game. 

Despite the score, Belmont kept plugging away on its next series, keyed by a great 45-yard catch by senior Jake Pollack to the Watertown 5 yard line and culminating in Fitzgerald finding junior wide receiver Dijuan Moore for the touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed by less than a length of the football to make the score 28-13. 

Korte who put the explanation mark on his game with his third TD, a 40-yard pitch and catch with McDermott.

In a nice gesture, Belmont sent out three-year starter Cadigan to finish his career with a 35-yard field goal with 49 seconds remaining in the game to end the scoring at 35-16. 

“One of our problems all season was being susceptible to the big play and it happened here,” said Kumin. 

Belmont Boosters Name Estok, Tseng October Athletes of the Month

Photos: Sophia Estok and Zach Tseng.

Belmont Boosters’ October Athletes of the Month are:

• Sophomore Sophia Estok of the Belmont High School Girls Volleyball Team

• Senior Zach Tseng of the Belmont High School Boys Cross Country Team. 

Letter to the Editor: A Quieter Leaf Blower and Community

Dear folks,
There’s something I’d love to give thanks for next year at this time – a world, or at least a town, without leaf blowers. I actually forbid our landscaper a few years ago from using one after a spring when one of his workers blew down hundreds of our daffodils. Now he uses a rake on the lawn and a broom on the driveway; and the leaves that fall on the garden stay there to turn into mulch. He doesn’t complain, actually, and he didn’t raise his rates.
Here’s the organization’s site: https://www.quietcommunities.org/
Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving,
Sue Bass
Concord Avenue