Sorry, Vladimir: Belmont’s Ballot Boxes Pass State Test For Election

Photo: Staff personnel Dan Cane check the towns’ voting machines.

If Russian president Vladimir Putin was thinking about tinkering with another US election, he should stay clear of Belmont. On Monday, Aug. 27, the town’s eight precinct ballot boxes were found to be secure and working correctly during the state-required inspection before each and every town election.

Monday’s Election machine testing was conducted before the Sept. 4, state party primary election. Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman and her staff inspected the machines and ran draft ballots for each of the three parties that voters can obtain ballots; that would be Republican, Democratic and Libertarian parties. The machines then tally the “results” and the data is sent to the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office to verify the devices are state certified. 

Because the town uses paper ballots, the only way Putin (or anyone else) can tamper with election results is by showing up and try to vote in person. But as Cushman informed the Belmontonian, most of the election officials work in the precinct where they live, so it’s unlikely “Putie” would be able to slide by the first level of security. 

Town Clerk Ellen Cushman and staff member Dan Cane making sure the Belmont voting machines are Putin-proof.


With Temp Near 100, Belmont Under Heat, Air Quality Warnings Wednesday

Photo: It’s a hot one Wednesday.

Usually, when Belmont is placed under a weather advisory, the town is expecting a storm to bring a foot or two of snow.

But on this Wednesday, Aug. 26, the “Town of Homes” will experience a second day of just plain hot.

As of 5 a.m., the National Weather Service in Norton issued an advisory as the region suffers under the most oppressive heat events of the year. The service placed most of eastern Massachusetts under an Excessive Heat Warning until 9 p.m. tonight. An Excessive Heat Warning means that a prolonged period of dangerously hot temperatures will occur. The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely.

While the Weather Underground Payson Park weather station is forecasting a high of 95 degrees F, the heat index temperature – which takes into effect humidity in the calculation of how hot it is – will exceed 100 degrees this afternoon. 

The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during outdoor exertion or extended exposure, according to the NWS. Take extra precautions, if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sunshine, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has issued an Air Quality Action Day for Ground-Level Ozone, in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. An Air Quality Action day means that Ground Level Ozone concentrations within the region may approach or exceed unhealthy standards for sensitive groups including people with heart or lung disease such as asthma, older adults, children, teenagers, and people who are active outdoors. People with lung disease are at greater risk from exposure to ozone, while people with either lung disease or heart disease are at greater risk from exposure to particle pollution.

People in sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion; take more breaks and do less intense activities, and follow asthma action plans and keep quick-relief medicine handy. Watch for symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath.

Breaking: Woman ‘Seriously Injured’ Hit In Crosswalk At Sycamore and Lexington

Photo: Police at the scene of a pedestrian/vehicle accident in Belmont, Tuesday, Aug. 28.

An unidentified middle-aged woman was critically injured after being struck by a light commercial van while in the crosswalk at the intersection of Sycamore and Lexington streets Tuesday morning, Aug. 28.

The accident took place at approximately 8:30 a.m. when a late-model white Ford Transit operated by a man struck the woman mid-way into the crossing located in the Waverley neighborhood. Belmont Fire and Police responded quickly to the scene.

Police closed off Sycamore and Lexington for several hours after the accident. A pair of brown shoes, a metallic water bottle, a scarf along with what looked like food was still at the scene by late morning.  

It is not known if the woman is a Belmont resident. 

Some eyewitnesses reported that a small child was with the woman but that could not be confirmed by authorities. 

“All we know now is that she is in critical condition,” said Belmont Police Sgt. Ben Mailhot, adding she was taken to a “local” hospital. 

Mailhot added that there was no sign of driver impairment. He could not say why the accident occurred on a sunny, clear day during the end of the morning commute. 

“There is an on-scene investigation with [Belmont] and State Police at this time. 

Nearby residents contend the street is not as safe as it could be, even after the intersection was raised to slow vehicles along Lexington. 

During Three Day Heatwave, Belmont Light Asks Customers to Turn Down Electrical Use

Photo: It’s that hot!

The next three days with temperatures in Belmont hitting the upper 90s, higher than normal energy usage and higher costs is on the way. Belmont Light is asking customers to help save energy and money by reducing electricity consumption between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Electricity cut during peak times helps Belmont mitigate energy supply costs and lowers strain on the regional electricity grid.

Here are some tips to reduce Belmont peak electricity consumption:

  • Adjust air conditioners and turn off the AC in rooms that are not used. Adjusting the thermostat even by 2-3 degrees helps.
  • Use a microwave oven or an outdoor grill instead of a stove or a regular oven.
  • Shift laundry and dishwashing activities until after 8 p.m.
  • Unplug DVRs or gaming consoles when not in use
  • Hold off on charging electric vehicles until later in the evening

For more advice on reducing peak energy consumption, call Belmont Light at 617-993-2800.

16th Meet Belmont Set For Tuesday, Aug. 28 At The Chenery

Photo: Poster for Meet Belmont

Learn about town departments, local government, schools, nonprofits, registering to vote and volunteer opportunities at the 16th annual Meet Belmont Community Information Fair, which will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Chenery Middle School95 Washington St.

The event, which is free of charge and fully accessible, is presented by the Meet Belmont Planning Committee and is co-sponsored by Belmont Public Schools with support from Belmont Light and Belmont Car Wash.

More than 90 exhibitors will be on hand, along with local government representatives and others. Everyone is asked to support the Belmont Food Pantry with a non-perishable food or toiletry item. 

Meet Belmont is free of charge and is fully accessible. For additional information about Belmont Light’s participation in the event, call 617-933-2800 or head over to Facebook at or email

What To Know About Next Week’s State Primary Election

Photo: Belmont residents voting at Precinct 2 in Town Hall.

Voting in the Massachusetts State Primary will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 4 

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Your enrollment as a voter will determine which party ballot you can choose to vote in.

A voter enrolled in one of the three Massachusetts political parties, can only vote the ballot for that specific party, represented by these letters:

  • D – Democratic Party
  • R – Republican Party
  • L – Libertarian Party

A registered Democrat cannot vote a Republican or Libertarian ballot; a registered Republican cannot vote a Democratic or Libertarian ballot; a registered Libertarian cannot vote a Democratic or Republican ballot.

Only voters who are not affiliated with a political party, called Unenrolled (U – commonly known as No Party or “Independent”) can ask for any party ballot on Primary Day.


Voters who have not returned a town census this year are classified as “inactive” voters, a status that requires the voter to present identification at the polling station in order to return to the active voting rolls.

Voters should consider carrying an ID when going to vote to make the process simpler on election day.


  • Precinct 1: Belmont Memorial Library, Assembly Room, 336 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct 2: Belmont Town Hall, Selectmen’s Room, 455 Concord Ave.
  • Precinct 3: Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct 4 Daniel Butler School Gym, 90 White St.
  • Precinct 5 Beech Street Center, 266 Beech St.
  • Precinct 6 Belmont Fire Headquarters, 299 Trapelo Rd.
  • Precinct 7 Burbank School Gym, 266 School St.
  • Precinct 8 Winn Brook School Gym, 97 Waterhouse Rd., Enter From Cross Street

If you would like further clarification or have any other questions related to the upcoming election, please check the Town Clerk’s webpages then select Departments, Town Clerk and click on any of the Election links on the left side of the page or call the Belmont Town Clerk’s Office at 617-993-2600 or email to

Belmont Under High Risk Threat for West Nile Virus

Photo: The type of mosquito that carries the West Nile virus.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced on Monday, Aug. 27 the fourth human case of West Nile virus in the state this year. The person is a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County who was never hospitalized for her illness. Three other cases were reported on Friday. 

Investigations conducted by state public health officials indicate that at least two of the four cases were exposed in the greater Boston area leading them to raise the risk level from moderate to high for 11 communities including Belmont.

The other communities are Arlington, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Newton, Somerville, and Watertown.

“Several individuals from the same area have developed West Nile virus,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel. “That means that there is an increased risk in this specific area and that additional people could become infected. We are particularly concerned about people over 50 and those who are immunocompromised as they are the ones most likely to develop WNV disease.

For those 11 communities now at high-risk, DPH recommends that local health officials intensify messaging to raise awareness and promote personal protective behaviors, target outreach to high-risk populations, and increase surveillance for human disease.

People at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to consider avoiding outdoor activity at dusk and dawn. Local boards of health should continue to work directly with their Mosquito Control District to determine appropriate control measures.

“It is extremely important for people to take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including using repellents, wearing clothing to reduce exposed skin, dumping standing water, and moving indoors when you notice mosquitoes biting you,’’ said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.

West Nile virus is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While the virus can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with West Nile will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

People can take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones from illnesses caused by mosquitoes.

A Labor Lockout Could Keep Belmont Streets Unpaved ‘Til Spring

Photo: Common Street.

The money is in the bank, the contractors are ready to go and long-suffering residents are waiting with bated breath.

But for homeowners along four Belmont roadways, a labor dispute between workers and an international utility firm is threatening to delay the reconstruction and repaving their streets until this coming Spring.

The prediction by Town Engineer Glen Clancy to the Board of Selectmen at its Monday night meeting, Aug. 20, relates to a month-long lockout of 1,100 union gas workers by employer National Grid after the two sides could not reach an agreement on a new longer-term contract in June.

Now Belmont residents are locked out of a promised a new road after suffering through detours and delays for the past year.

“I just want the community to understand that … the town and DPW (Department of Public Works) are obviously aware of the conditions of these roads,” said Clancy.

In each case, permitted infrastructure projects – such as the installation of gas lines – are uncompleted. Under current town policy, the Office of Community Development will not release funds for roadways that require expensive gas, water, and electrical work in the near future even if it was approved by Town Meeting.

“With National Grid being locked out, the utility work necessary to finish those projects are at a standstill,” said Clancy.

Clancy said many complaints relating to the condition of Common Street which runs from just outside Belmont Center to Cushing Square and to the Watertown line. 

Other streets include Payson Road, Lawndale and Prospect streets which were selected in the past year to be part of the annual pavement management program which sets aside funds to reconstruct streets the town determines to be in the most need of repair.

“I want people to understand that if not for the lockout, it’s likely that Clifton and Prospect streets would be finished since most of the major work is complete,” said Clancy, noting that Common Street is under the 2017 pavement management contract, “so all we are waiting for is for the street to be fixed.” 

While the beginning of winter – and the end of the reconstruction and paving season – is not yet around the corner, Clancy said unless the lockout is resolved soon, DPW will need to consider a stop-gap solution “to make sure those roads are safe for driving until the spring of 2019.” He pointed to the temporary top coat of asphalt placed on Grove Street last winter as an example. 

“[National Grid] has been put on notice for that job,” said Clancy.

Answering a question from Selectman Tom Caputo, Clancy said mid-September would the latest date to begin reconstruction and replacement for any street, providing six good weeks before the weather conditions turn “sketchy.” 

“We have a little bit of time but the clock is ticking,” said Caputo. Worst case scenario, according to Clancy, is the work will be scheduled to begin in eight to nine months from Sept. 1. But even if the lockout is resolved in the next few weeks, there is no guarantee National Grid would be able to send the necessary crews to finish the work as the firm is currently backlogged with jobs.

The one “good” result of the management action is it now allows the lining of the large MWRA water main along nearly the length of Common Street to be completed without competing with National Grid crews, said Clancy. 

Correction: The labor action between National Grid and the unionized workers is a lockout, not a strike.

A Hunter of Small Fungi Leaves Belmont Library A Big Gift

Photo: Philip May (left) out exploring for lichen.

Phillip F. May was a teacher, educator and investor while living in Belmont. However, his passion for more than a quarter century revolved around exploring the world for that strange composite organism in which fungi live in a symbiotic relationship with algae.

May was that very rare breed: he hunted lichen; on walls, trees, rocks, forest and dales around the globe.

While May, who died last year at 68 after living in Santa Fe, New Mexico for many years, is best remembered among his fellow lichenists, he will soon have a place in the hearts of the patrons of the Belmont Public Library. In his will, May set aside $212,500 to the Belmont Public Library, the second largest gift in the library’s long history. Only an endowment created by Jane Gray Dustan for educational and enrichment children programming is more significant.

“We are very grateful to Mr. May and his family,” said Belmont Library Director Peter Struzziero, who plans to reach out to the family and “give them a proper thanks.”

“There are some restrictions on how the money can be used that’s in the letter from the attorney settling the estate,” said Gail Mann of the Board of Library Trustees, who will determine how the funds will be allocated.

The amount May provided to the library was approximately five percent of his estate, one of many charitable institutions he provided for which totaled nearly his entire estate.

The gift was a complete surprise as no one in town government or library officials ever met or had contact with May or his wife, Anne. According to town records, May lived on Chester Road for nearly 20 years before moving to Stults Road in the late 1990s. His final address in Belmont was on S. Cottage Road. May is a bit of a mystery as information about this life outside of being a prominent lichenologist is sketchy; there are no life details online nor is there an obituary locally or from New Mexico.

But May’s legacy is secured by the scholarly work as one of the few lichenologists in the world. According to a remembrance written last year in the Friends of the Farlow newsletter (he was the group’s long-time treasurer), he became enthralled with the field of fungi after taking a course at the Harvard Extension School, before focusing on collecting and publishing extensively on the subject.

Long associated with Harvard’s Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany, May built a reputation as a keen observer and active explorer – you can read his witty account of lichen hunting in French Guiana. He also sought to assist those newly interested in the field as co-author to a general reference guide entitled “Identifying North American Lichens: A Guide to the Literature.” When he could no longer head out into the field, he generously gave his extensive collection of specimens, research equipment and materials to the Farlow to be handed down to the next generation of explorers.

Late in his career, May was honored by having a species named after him, Parmelia mayi, which can be found in the northern Appalachian mountains.

“If others are interested in town leaving money in their will or making the town a beneficiary … as it’s a great way to give back to the town,” said Adam Dash, Selectmen chair.

“Particularly if it’s to the library,” said Struzziero.

Parmelia mayi.

Primary Election Deadline For Voter Registration, Party Changes Is Aug. 15 at 8 PM

Photo: State Party Primary Sept. 4.

The Belmont Town Clerk reminds residents who have not registered to vote that Wednesday, Aug. 15 is the deadline to register to vote if they want to participate in the Massachusetts Primary on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Aug. 15 is also the deadline for registered voters who wish to change their party enrollment either to another party or to “unenrolled,” which is commonly referred to as “independent” or “unaffiliated.” Voters registered in one of the three Massachusetts parties, Democratic, Republican, or Libertarian may only vote that party’s ballot. To be eligible for a different party’s ballot, the voter must switch to another party or to “unenrolled” status by 8 p.m. on Aug. 15.   Unenrolled voters or voters enrolled in political designations can ask for any party ballot on Primary Day, but someone registered in a party can only vote on that party’s ballot. A registered Democrat cannot vote a Republican or Libertarian ballot; a registered Republican cannot vote a Democratic or Libertarian ballot; a registered Libertarian cannot vote a Democratic or Republican ballot.

The Town Clerk’s office at Town Hall will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 15 for voters who wish to change their party registration status or for persons wishing to register for the first time.

Persons who are United States Citizens, residents of Massachusetts, and who will be at least 18 years old on or before Sept. 4 are eligible to register to vote. Those meeting these qualifications who have a Massachusetts Driver’s License can submit their registration online at Those registering by mail should have their form hand-canceled by the Post Office to ensure it is postmarked on or before the deadline.   Newly registered voters will receive confirmation letters from the Town Clerk.

You may verify your voter registration and/or your voting location at: .

For more information, feel free to contact the Belmont Town Clerk’s Office at: or 617-993-2600.