Power Outages Possible As High Wind Warning Issued Thru Monday

Photo: Damaging winds heading to Belmont

A High Wind Warning was issued by the National Weather Service, Sunday, Feb. 24, for Belmont and most of New England with predictions of gusts as high as 63 knots impacting the area through late Monday, Feb. 25.

The warning, which began at 3 a.m. Monday will remain in effect until 7 p.m. as damaging winds from the west steady at 40 mph and as has a 60, “will blow down trees and power lines” causing “widespread power outages,” said the service. Driving will be difficult, especially for larger passenger vehicles. Homeowners should secure loose outdoor objects such as trash and recycling carts. 

If you should loss power, call Belmont Light‘s outage number 617-993-2800. Do not use the webpage or call 911 to report a power outage.

Belmont Girls’, Boys’ Basketball Earn 1 Seed In North Sectionals

Photo: Belmont High Boys and Girls have home playoff games.

It’s always impressive for a school’s sports team to be selected the number-one seed in a sectional playoff; it’s an honored earned by a squad for an excellence on the field throughout the entire season.

What’s even more accomplished as well as being extremely rare? Having both teams in a sport – boys’ and girls’ – each selected as one seeds. It happened this basketball season and it happened in Belmont.

On Friday, Feb. 22, at the annoucement of the MIAA basketball tournament, both Marauder teams were selected the number one seeds in their respected divisions – the girls’ in Division 1 and the boys’ in Division 2 – in the North Sectionals which starts next week.

And with the seeding come the matchups and holding the top ranks secures possibily two home games in the first round and quarterfinals for the girls and a quarterfinal match for the boys.

The girls will first play against the winner of the bye-in game between Everett and Beverly (both 10-10) on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Wenner Field House at 7 p.m. If they win on Thursday, Belmont will play the winner of the Woburn (13-7) against Cambridge (14-6) contest, time and date to be determined.

After a bye in the first round, the boys will step on the court to take on a Middlesex League rival, the winner of the Arlington (12-8) vs. Melrose (10-8) first round clash, on Friday, March 1 at 7 p.m. in Belmont.

Belmont Tracksters Score At Div. 2 Indoor Championships

Photo: Joy He finished fifth in the sprint hurdles.

Jumping over things was Belmont High athletes speciality at the MIAA Division 2 Indoor Track Championships held Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Reggie Lewis Track & Athletic Center in Boston. 

Junior Joy He strode over five 33-inch high barriers in 9.05 seconds to take 5th in the 55 meter hurdles. In the boys’ high jump, senior Merrill Barnes soared 6 feet, 2 inches to finish 4th while senior Gabriella Viale took 7th in the girls’ high jump clearing 5 feet, 2 inches, as junior Laura Baird ended up one place back of Viale in 8th clearing 5 feet. 

Barnes and Viale qualified for the All-State Meet on Saturday, Feb. 23 at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center. They will be joined at the meet by Isabel Burger in the girls’ mile.

Belmont was also scored on the track as a pair of youngsters stood out. In the mile, sophomore Burger ran a brave 1 mile race against Natick’s superstar Grace Connelly to finish in 5th in 5 minutes, 18.50 seconds while fellow 10th grader Rachel November finished 8th in the 600 meters with 1:42.10.

In the relays, the girls 4×200 (each athlete run one lap) consisting of Leya El-Chanati, Drew Bates, Shanta Gardner and Sophia Hospodar finished in 13th in 1:51.77 while the 4×400 team of He, November, Olivia Zarzycki and Soleil Tseng ran a 4:18.39 for 8th.

Belmont Girls finished in 12th with 13 points while the Boys’ finished in 23rd with 5 points. 

Belmont Food Pantry Reopens At Town Hall

Photo: The ribbon cutting.

The Belmont Food Pantry has a new home, one its founder hopes will remain for years to come.

On its first Saturday, Feb. 16, at its new location on the first floor of Town Hall, the pantry’s volunteers welcomed a large number of the 200 families which are served by the nonprofit which for more than a quarter century has been serving those Belmont residents in need.

The ceremonial cutting of a red ribbon (with some oversize scissors) “officially” opened the pantry’s location was a welcomed event for Patty Mihelich, who along with an ad hoc committee and a grant from Project Bread, founded the pantry which opened in the Waverley Square Fire Station in December 1992.

“It’s a great day that we now have a place that gives us the stability to serve [residents] ,” said Mihelich on Saturday.

The pantry began a frustrating journey in search for a long-term site after the fire station was sold in 2005, moving to a modular building behind Belmont High School than to the former Belmont Light Department headquarters across from Town Hall in 2009. The pantry returned to the high school site in 2012 before moving to its latest  location at Mount Hope Church on Lexington Street in 2016. 

Seeking a permenant location, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and the Board of Selectmen (Chair Adam Dash help celebrate the opening) worked with Mihelich after seeing an opportunity at Town Hall when space became avaliable after the Retirement Board moved to larger space on Concord Avenue. With two rooms that were largely unused, the decision was made to allow the community asset to come to Town Hall.

Mihelich said the new location has the advantage of parking, public transportation and a familiar, central location – many using the pantry remember when the pantry was at the Light Department – that will help assist residents in obtaining the food and sundries they require to stay feed and healthy. 

“This means a lot to be [at Town Hall] and we hope that it will be a long stay,” she said.

The pantry monthly hours are:

  • 1st and 3rd Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • 2nd and 4th Tuesday: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
  • 4th Sunday: 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Belmont Wrestling Is Up Off The Mat, Sends Three Grapplers To States

Photo: Belmont High Senior Justin Darling winning his match vs. Arlington.

By Max Dionne

In December, a 106 pound Belmont High School freshman named Ken Kitamura brought a ray of hope to a recently down-on-its-luck sports team; he pinned his Wellesley opponent in the first 14 seconds of the very first match of the season.

Two years removed from a winless 2016-2017 season and a one win 2017-2018 season, Belmont High School Wrestling this season fought its way back into respectability with a 7-7 record. Belmont’s success has its roots years in the making. The hard work and recruiting of young talent by coaches Andy MacAulay, Keith Dionne and Andrew McCahill – for the first time in years Belmont was able to send out a wrestler in each weight class at meets – rebuilt a program which had struggled since its glory days when the Baghdady family and a giant named Comeau ruled the mats for the Marauders.

Yet the season started under a dark cloud. Having lost starters Mohammed Abdel-Salem and Omer Rona to graduation, the team suffered a significant setback when senior captain Bryson Lipson, last year’s third-ranked 182 lbs wrestler in the state, was ruled out for the season with an ACL, joining last year’s only state competitor, Abe Lipson, also lost to injury

But through hard work, team effort, and aggressive wrestling, Belmont was able to leave a marker through its journey this season including upsetting longtime Middlesex League powerhouses Woburn (41-39) and Lexington (49-30) in December. After suffering a tough loss to Reading (57-24), it came back with four wins against two losses in back to back quad meets, highlighted by sophomore Tariqul (Abid) Islam fighting through an injury to provide the winning pin in nail-biter vs. Pembroke. Belmont then secured a 60-6 blowout over Southbridge and a 49-15 drubbing of Quincy to push its record to 7-6 before falling to a talented Arlington squad in the final meet of the year at Belmont Little Gym.

Senior Justin Darling (170 lbs) led the team throughout the season and established himself as the program’s star, securing a 12-6 record, with four of those losses to wrestlers ranked in the top six in the state. He placed at every tournament he competed this season including a second place finish at Belmont’s annual Brendan Grant Memorial Tournament. He was also the only Belmont wrestler to place (a fifth) in the highly competitive Woburn Invitational Tournament that brings in many of the state’s top teams and competitors.

On Feb. 9, Belmont competed in the MIAA Division 2 Metro Sectionals to decide which wrestler would compete in the D2 State Tournament on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16-17. The Marauders battled exceptionally well across all weight classes with most wrestlers winning at least a match. At the end of the day, Belmont finished in the top 10 at ninth, with 96 points. Leading the way, and advancing to State Tournament are second place finishers Darling and junior Max Dionne (152 lbs) and third place finisher Mohamood (Mody) Abdel-Salem (138 lbs). Also scoring at the sectionals were senior captain Kamyar Nouri (285 lbs) and Islam (113 lbs) in fifth place and Gustav Bauerle (160 lbs) with a sixth-place finish.

In the state Division 2 championships, Darling compiled a 4-2 record, defeating the same North Attleborough in his first and final match to take fifth place in the 170 division. After pinning his first opponent, Dionne lost a pair of bouts by a single point to bow out of the competition while Abdel-Salam gained a great deal of experience in his two matches.

While Belmont finished 37th with 16 points, the Marauders are certainly back in the fight. 

Selectmen OKs Fire Chief’s New Contract

Photo: “Your Fire Chief” David Frizzell. 

It took some give and take and several executive sessions over the past five months, but on Friday, Feb. 8, the Belmont Board of Selectmen approved a new contract with the town’s longtime Fire Chief, David Frizzell. 

The town now has agreements with both of Belmont public safety heads, having signed off on a contract with Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin in September. 

According to Jessica Porter, Belmont’s human resources director, the town agrees to pay Frizzell a base annual salary of $170,000 retroactive to July 1, 2018.

Over the next two years, on July 1 2019 and 2020, Frizzell will receive either a two percent cost of living adjustment or the general COLA pay increase for fire department heads, whichever is greater. There is also a performance raise as outlined in the contract. The new total amount will be the new “base pay” to calculate further adjustments.

Porter also noted that Frizzell will continue to have:

  • a take home vehicle, a taxable benefit, consistent with the police chief and others who have assigned take home vehicles,
  • various leaves as is compatible with other contracts/department heads,
  • a first responder stipend of $2,000 in year one, with a $1,000 increase each year after, and
  • the ability to sell back 56 hours (seven days) of unused vacation time to the town at the end of the year.

While McLaughlin’s contract was structured to end on Dec. 31, 2019 to conincide with his retirement date, there is nothing regarding retirement in Frizzell’s contact.

“[Frizzell] is required per the contract to give 30 days’ notice if he wishes to leave before the term of the agreement ends,” said Porter.

Belmont’s ‘Hurdle Squad’ Heads To Nationals With No Time To Spare [VIDEO]

Photo: The Belmont “Hurdle Squad”: Joy He, Knar Krafian, Sam Lu and Sarah Firth.

Talk about hitting the mark.

Belmont High School’s “Hurdle Squad” – junior Joy He, sophomores Knar Krafian, Sam Lim and Sarah Firth – had one chance to reach the qualifying time in the unique 4×55 meter Shuttle Hurdle Relay to qualify for the 2019 New Balance Nationals Indoor in New York City in early March. 

The squad came to the Reggie Lewis Center on Sunday, Feb. 10 to compete in the apt name MSTCA “Last Chance to Qualify Meet” with one thing in mind: 34.44 seconds, the time they needed to reach to punch their tickets to the Big Apple. The girls knew they were fast having won the 4×50 yard hurdle relay at the MSTCA Indoor Division 2 Relay in 30.85 seconds.

Now a little about the event. The shuttle hurdles is hardly seen by even track fans as it takes place in relay meets. Each of four hurdlers on a team runs the opposite direction from the preceding runner. It’s a shuttle as no baton is used, when the runner crosses the line, the next takes off much like swimming relays. The event can at times be the roller derby of track with barriers flying and runners falling into other teams lanes. 

Held early in the meet, the squad was matched up against a very good Andover team. By the time Firth took off on the anchor leg, Belmont needed a power run from Belmont’s best hurdler this season. And the second year runner crossed the time slightly behind Andover. But it wasn’t the placement, it was the time. The time came up on the scoreboard. Belmont: 34.44. On the button.

The “Hurdle Squad” is heading to New York City. Enjoy the backpacks of swag.

Snow Emergency Parking Ban Starts At 8 PM Tuesday


The midweek snow storm coming through Belmont has caused the town to ban public parking for Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, according to a town-issued press release.

“There will be a SNOW EMERGENCY Parking Ban on all roadways, as well as in municipal and Belmont Public School parking lots, effective at 8pm, Tuesday, Feb. 12, until further notice.”  

“All vehicles parked in violation of the ban will be towed at the owner’s expense.”

North Middlesex Regional’s Taylor Named Belmont High’s New Principal

Photo: Isaac Taylor inspecting the new school housing North Middlesex Regional.

Isaac Taylor, whose teaching and leadership career spans an ocean and three decades, has been named the next principal of Belmont High School, according to the Belmont School District. Taylor starts his tenure on July 1.

“I have 14 years experience in raising standards, maximizing student learning and engagement and ensuring accountability,” wrote Taylor in his LinkedIn profile. “I am passionate about working to help all students and staff reach their potential, enjoy challenging themselves, and become life long learners.”

Taylor comes to Belmont High after four and a half years as principal of North Middlesex Regional, a 9-12 high school located hard on the New Hampshire border servicing the towns of Townsend, Pepperell, and Ashby.

During his stay at North Middlesex, Taylor guided the school community’s move into a new $89 million structure in the fall of 2017. He also had to contend on that opening day with a threat against the school requiring students and staff to pass through metal detectors to enter the building.

According to an article in the Nashoba Valley Voice, Taylor spent part of his childhood in the U.K., and part in Acton, Mass. After receiving his BA in Liberal Arts from the Harvard University Extension School, Taylor began is teaching career in 2001 across the Atlantic in the historic cathedral town of Canterbury in southeast England. He spent three years as an English teacher at Canterbury High School (now Canterbury Academy) while earning a teacher certification from Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Beginning in 2004, Taylor was a teacher and administrator for nine years at Simon Langton Girls’ Grammar School in Canterbury for the next nine years, five as an English and Physiology teacher and four as assistant principal. During that time, he obtained a master’s in school and education management from King’s College, London.

In the fall of 2013, Taylor enrolled at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education where he earned a Master of Education with a concentration in school leadership, while serving a principal internship at Boston Latin Academy. 

New Youth Commission Kicks Off With Ice Cream!

Photo: It’s ice cream time for middleschoolers.

File this under making friends and influencing the sweet tooth.

The newly-reconstituted Belmont Youth Commission which held its inaugural meeting on Monday, Feb. 4 has quickly gotten out the starting blocks announcing its first event; an ice cream social for students from the Chenery Middle School on Valentines Day.

According to Marisa Melanson, Belmont’s youth coordinator said the event for 5th to 8th graders will take place on Thursday, Feb. 14, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Belmont Public Library in the Assembly Room. The free event is sponsored by the commission, Belmont Public Library, and Moozy’s.

At the library, the “kids will be able to make cards for our troops while making their ice cream sundaes,” said Melanson, who was hired as the town’s youth coordinator in November after being an environmental health intern in the Health Department. 

The renewed commission met at Town Hall to discuss its charge set by the Board of Selectmen and elect its slate of officers. Adam Dash, chair of the selectmen, said the commission was established to create programs as well as advice on behalf of the young people in town. 

David Alper, the former longtime chair and member of the Health Board who spearheaded the re-establishment of the group which he belonged to in its original form, said he would take the chair but just for six months so others can get up to speed on its mission. He noted that particular focus of the commission should be towards middle school-aged children who are unlike elementary school kids that are programmed “to an inch of their lives” and high schoolers who are much more mobile and have established their groups. 

“The earlier you get them” into creative and health programs “provides the biggest bang for the buck,” said Alper.

The commission members are:

  • David Alper, D.P.M. (Chair)
  • Gavin Farrell, M.M.
  • Zachary Gillette
  • Alyssa Gould (Secretary)
  • Victoria Lesser
  • Sue Morris
  • Robin Ohringer Ph.D., L.I.C.S.W. (Vice Chair)
  • Laura Panos, J.D.
  • Jeffrey Speller, M.D., M.B.A.