The League Of Women Voters Annual Candidates’ Night A Virtual Event March 21

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Belmont residents will be able to don their pajamas while having dinner as they are introduced to the contestants for town-wide office and Town Meeting seats as the Belmont League of Women Voters is holding its third virtual Candidates’ Night on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m.

The evening will begin with a “parade” of Town Meeting Member candidates from each of the town’s eight precincts, followed by short speeches and a round of Questions and Answers with the town-wide candidates including those running for Town Moderator, Select Board, and two seats on the School Committee.

The night will conclude with information on the two ballot questions: the proposed $8.4 million Proposition 2 1/2 override and a change from an elected to an appointed board of assessors.

And the league wants residents to remember that the Town Election takes place this year on Tuesday, April 2.

Al Fresco Dining Returning To Belmont Center But Only Three Restaurants Want Spaces

Photo: Il Casale is one of three restaurants seeking sidewalk dining this summer in Belmont Center

A hubbub is happening in Boston’s North End where restaurant owners and their employees are upset that certain historic neighborhoods like theirs face more restrictions and limits on outdoor summertime dining than other less frequented parts of the city.

There are no such complaints from eateries in Belmont as the Select Board approved earlier in March al fresco dining on sidewalks and in designated parking spaces walled off by jersey barriers along Leonard Street.

But unlike Boston where there’s a voluminous number of applications for sidewalk and curbside space, Belmont Center has seen a dramatic drop in spaces being set aside for dining from 15 last year to just six this coming summer, according to Glen Clancy, town engineer.

The biggest impact on space requests is the recent closure of the popular Trinktisch Beer Hall and from eateries that don’t feel the need to have an outdoor option, said Clancy.

Two of the eateries, sister establishments il Casale and the Wellington, have reduced their ask to just two parking slots each as “they want to have a more impactful look to their spaces,” said Deran Muckjian, owner of Toy Shop of Belmont, and president of the Belmont Center Business Association.

The other eatery seeking added space is Stone Hearth Pizza. There will be one dedicated area in Cushing Square for Savinos Grill on Common Street and the town will support a request from Watertown’s Conley’s Pub since the roadway up to the restaurant’s curb is located in Belmont.

Muckjian said early in the year he sought feedback from merchants and restaurants “and everyone is comfortable” with the smaller plan for outdoor dining.

Unlike past years, the establishments will be footing the bill installing, then removing the jersey barriers.

In addition, the season has been reduced from the Mothers’ Day weekend in May to Sept. 15.

Al fresco dining was established in 2020 as an attempt by the town to assist restaurants which found their indoor dining areas shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first year, Leonard Street became a single lane, one-way road – from Alexander Ave. to Channing Road – with much of the curbside set aside for chairs and tables.

But from the start, many of the Center’s brick and mortar retail businesses were less than pleased losing about two dozen parking spaces in front of their establishments. In the subsequent years, Leonard would return to a two-way road and the number of dining spaces reduced at the urging of storefront retailers.

The BHS Performing Arts Company Will Be Staging ‘Something Rotten’ This Week

Photo: The poster of this year’s musical “Something Rotten”

The tale of how the world’s very first musical was staged, the Belmont High School Performing Arts Company presents its Spring Musical “Something Rotten” this week in the Belmont Middle and High School Main Theater.

Showtimes are:

  • Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, March 15 at 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 16 at 2 p.m. (matinee) and 7 p.m. 

Ticketing for the shows is online, and advance purchase of tickets is strongly encouraged, as the Main Theater has limited seating capacity. Tickets can be purchased at bhs-pac.org

It’s 1595, and brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom are desperate to write a hit play but find themselves stuck in the shadow of William Shakespeare, the Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.” When a soothsayer foretells that the future of theater involves singing, dancing, and acting – all at the same time – Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical. Amidst the scandalous excitement of opening night, the Bottom brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to their own self.

The book is by Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell. Music and lyrics by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, who also conceived the work.

TICKETS:
ADULTS: $15 in advance / $18 at the door
STUDENTS/CHILDREN: $10
BHS STUDENTS: $5 Thursday and Saturday Matinee, $10 Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m.

Sweet 16 Shocker: Belmont Girls’ Hockey Upset Three-Seed Lincoln/Sudbury In Quarters, 4-1, As Costa Stops 44 Shots

Photo: Belmont/Watertown goalie Jil Costa readies to pounce on a loose puck during her team’s game vs. Lincoln/Sudbury

It was a nightmare start for Belmont/Watertown Girls’ hockey goalie Jil Costa against heavy favorites Lincoln/Sudbury Regional High in the MIAA Division 1 state championship quarterfinals.

In its first rush up the ice, Lincoln/Sudbury’s junior Ally Quinn split the defenders and sent a wrist shot to Costa’s glove side, handcuffing the sophomore netminder. The puck sneaked by and rolled on its side into the back of the net.

1-0, Warriors, after 50 seconds.

After this goal, Belmont’s Jil Costa stopped the next 44 in the 4-1 upset of Lincoln/Sudbury

“Once it went in I was a little confused, to be honest,” said Costa, one of the standout goaltenders in the state allowing less than a goal a game – 16 goals in 20 games – this season.

But rather than replay the goal in her mind, “I immediately just got it out of my head. I ignored it as if it didn’t happen and I just had to focus on the next shot,” she said.

And from that point onward, it was lights out as Costa would stop all 44 shots she faced while her teammates scored three goals in the final four minutes of the first period propelling 14th-ranked Belmont to a thrilling upset over third-seed Lincoln/Sudbury, 4-1, in the Sweet 16 contest on a rainy Saturday night, March 2, in West Concord.

Belmont Senior Mia Taylor scored the game winning goal in the first period

“We played our game, relying on [Costa] to keep it close and help her out by scoring just enough to win,” said first-year head coach Brendan Kelleher.

Belmont (15-2-3) will next meet fellow upstarts Archbishop Williams (11-10-2) from Braintree in an Elite Eight matchup on Thursday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m., 53 miles from Belmont in far-flung Kingston (which is basically west Duxbury). The 11th-seed “Archies” sent sixth-ranked Methuen packing, 2-1, on a late goal Saturday.

Saturday’s game was decided in the initial 15 minutes as Belmont withstood a continuous onslaught from the quick Warrior forwards. But it was Belmont’s approach to Lincoln/Sudbury’s overtly-aggressive game plan that proved to be the Warriors’ undoing.

Belmont’s first goal came courtesy of senior co-Capt. Lola Rocci on the power play as she slotted a Gigi Mastrangelo pass by L/S eighth grade goalie Lauren Kennedy to level the score at one.

Belmont’s Lola Rocci circling the L/S net during the team’s 4-1 upset victory

With less than 90 seconds remaining in the period, Belmont struck for a pair. Despite defending a Belmont power play, the Warriors kept pushing players into the Belmont end. But when the Warriors lost the puck in the neutral zone, second line seniors Mia Taylor and Ruby Jones jumped to create a two-on-one counter with Taylor capping the break with the game winner.

“it was just keeping that intensity up no matter who’s on the ice … and always go for it and that created the goal” said Taylor.

And it wouldn’t be a Belmont game without an outstanding solo rush and goal by Marauders’ leading scorer, senior center Maddie Driscoll, who hit the back of the net while shorthanded in the dying seconds of the opening frame to leave the ice leading 3-1.

Up by two with a half hour to play, Lincoln/Sudbury kept the pressured on Belmont’s back line and Costa yet the Marauder defensive pairs – with a great deal of assistance from the forwards – withstood each Warrior rush without surrendering ice in front of the Belmont goal and pushing Warrior forwards outside the slot so shots were taken from a safe distance.

“We were told ahead of time they had an aggressive forecheck,” said senior co-Capt. Aislin Devaney. “Our defense did a really good job blocking shots, getting the puck out, and keeping bodies on them which made it easy for [Costa] to make saves.”

Through it all, Costa was as cold as the ice surface making save after save, leaving Lincoln Sudbury players slamming their sticks onto the ice in frustration or looking to the heavens for Divine Intervention that never came.

“A lot of practice just [having a] laser focus on the puck and … just make the save,” said Costa.

Belmont’s Evie Long (second from right) scoring the fourth goal of the game late in the third

It was left up to sophomore Evie Long to put a ribbon on the upset. After receiving a pinpoint drop pass from Driscoll, the winger scooped up her own rebound and backhanded Belmont’s fourth tally high into the net with four minutes left in the game.

“We’re keeping the rink open,” said assistant coach Josh Gilonna, borrowing a phrase used by Belmont Boys’ Hockey during a recent deep run in the tournament. “We’re going to play again.”

No Love For Donald In Belmont As Haley Wins Presidential Primary; Biden Is Dems Preference

Photo: Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announcing state presidential primary results

While the results of Super Tuesday’s Republican Presidential Primaries held across the country on March 5 solidified his hold on the party, Donald Trump did not find the same level of love in the Town of Homes.

The former president and leading GOP presidential candidate came out second best in Belmont, trailing former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, 1,140 to 851 (55 percent to 41 percent), in the Republican contest. Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie lead the also rans with 25 votes, followed by “no preference” (23), Vivek Ramaswamy (12), Ron DeSantis (9) and Asa Huchinson with 6.

Belmont Republicans proved themselves as outliers as Trump handily won the Bay State, picking up all the available 40 delegates with 60 percent of the vote to Haley’s 37 percent. Haley would suspend her campaign on Wednesday, March 6.

You can find the unofficial results for all races at the Town Clerk’s webpage.

Over on the Democratic side of the ledger, incumbent president Joe Biden secured 3,146 votes of the 3,820 ballots cast by those affiliated with the Democratic party. Just under 10 percent of the Democratic vote, 375 in total, where marked as “no preference.” Dean Phillips (123) and Marianne Williamson (95) also received votes.

“No Preference” topped the field in the Libertarian race with 12 votes, tripling the tally of Jacob George Hornberger with 4.

Belmont Democrats elected Steven Owens as the State Committee Man and Jessica Nahigian as State Committee Woman while the Republicans selected John and Catherine Umina as their representatives.

There was no surprise who topped the field for each parties 35 member Town Committee: Anne Mahon for the Democrats and Tomi Olson for the Republicans.

A total of 5,934 ballots (out of 18,217 voters in town) were cast, with 64 percent Democratic ballots and 35 percent Republican.

It was slightly past 10 p.m. when Town Clerk Ellen Cushman read the primary results, a delay of nearly 90 minutes. A surge of last-minute ballots placed in the town’s drop box at Town Hall created the night’s backlog as each dropped-off ballot is required to be brought to the voter’s precinct to be tallied.

Filling Spaces: Belmont Announces ‘New’ Asst. Super, A First CUE Leader, Extended Elementary Principals Search

Photo: The Belmont School District is filling leadership positions

The Belmont School District has taken the “interim” from assistant superintendent Lucia Sullivan’s title as the in-house candidate was hired to fill the post recently held by Janice Darias.

Sullivan’s appointment to the full-time post was one of two selections by Superintendent Jill Geiser in filling major leadership positions in the district over the past month. Sullivan’s promotion was hardly a surprise as she and Geiser have created an effective team after the superintendent arrived in Belmont this past July.

The second announcement was the appointment of Belmont educator Laura Smith as the first permanent principal of the Chenery Upper Elementary School – dubbed by the district as the “CUE” – which will take place July 1. Until then, Smith will continue serving as the CUE’s Elementary Curriculum Coordinator, a position she has held since September.

“I’m excited to step into the role of principal at the Chenery Upper Elementary School, the first leader of the school in its grades four, five and six configuration,” said Smith to the school committee on Feb. 28.

“One message came through really strongly to me is that Belmont really cares about education. And it was affirming to me to have the support of all of those community stakeholders,” Smith said. “I believe in open communication and collaboration; so, with that in mind, please, I encourage you to share your insights and concerns openly as we work together to build this new fourth to sixth [grade] school.”

Prior to coming to Belmont, Smith worked for two years as the district’s Literacy Coach in the Cambridge Public Schools. She brings previous experience as a Cultural Proficiency Facilitator (2015-2021, Cambridge Street Upper School), an Assistant Principal (2009-2015, Kennedy Middle School), and nearly a decade as a classroom teacher of English at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.

She has a BA in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, a MEd degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education where she was honored as a James Bryant Conant Fellow, And she will soon be “Dr. Smith” as she anticipates earning a doctorate in Curricular Studies and Educational Leadership from the University of South Carolina sometime this year.

Still up in the air remains hiring principals at the Winn Brook and Burbank elementary schools in which the job postings remain open with interviews coming in the spring. Geiser told the committee the district is “still within the window” from January to the spring in which a larger candidate pool is emerging.

“There’s a lot of movement” among educators seeking new positions which places Belmont in “a good situation.”

Finally the hiring of an assistant principal at the Belmont Middle School (grades 7-8) is being led by BMS’s Principal Russ Kupperstein.

Belmont Garden Club’s Anne Allen Lecture Focus On Landscaping With Native Plants

Photo: Landscape at Garden in the Woods (Credit: Wikipedia)

Ulrich Lorimer, director of horticulture for the Native Plant Trust, will be the feature speaker at the fourth Anne Allen Horticultural Lecture to take place Thursday, March 28 from 7:30 p.m. at The First Church in Belmont Unitarian Universalist, 404 Concord Ave. This lecture series is sponsored by The Belmont Garden Club.

Lorimer, an advocate for the use of native plants in the designed landscape, oversees the daily operation of the Garden in the Woods in Framingham, and at Nasami Farm in western Massachusetts. Nasami Farm nursery focuses on the propagation of and research about New England native plants. 

The Anne Allen Horticultural Lecture is a biennial event that honors the life of Anne Allen, a life in gardening, horticulture and public service. Anne was a lifelong member of The Belmont Garden Club.  The Claflin family, which Allen is related, were founding members of The First Church in Belmont UU and founders of the town of Belmont.  

Driscoll’s Winner In 2OT The Difference In Belmont/Watertown’s 1-0 Victory Over Billerica In Div. 1 Playoff Opener

Photo: Belmont/Watertown’s Molly Driscoll in action against Billerica/Chelmsford

A wrist shot from Watertown High Senior center Molly Driscoll that sent the puck slowly dribbling into the net 30 seconds into a second overtime period gave Belmont/Watertown a 1-0 shutout victory over Billerica/Chelmsford in the first round of the MIAA Division 1 Girls’ Hockey tournament held on Thursday, Feb. 29.

Playing on her home ice at the John A Ryan Rink in Watertown, Driscoll received a pass from her fellow co-captain, winger Lola Rocci, as both teams were playing three-a-side. The Boston University-commit in field hockey redirected the puck through Billerica/Chelmsford goalie Giovanna Gulinello’s pads which then took its time to cross the goal line for the only score of the night.

Belmont’s Jil Costa in net vs Billerica

“It was Molly Driscoll doing what Molly Driscoll does,” said Belmont Head Coach Brendan Kelleher about the senior center’s heroics. He praised Rocci on Belmont’s rush up the rink “carrying the puck up ice with a [player] draped all over. She has nothing in the tank but she kept her feet moving the whole time. She got free and fed it to Molly.”

“It was a great high school hockey game,” said Kelleher in his inaugural season leading the team. “Give Billerica a lot of credit. When you get to those sudden victory games, someone’s got to win, and someone’s got to lose. The paying spectators got their money’s worth.”

Fourteenth-ranked Belmont/Watertown (14-2-3) now advances to the Division 1 “Sweet 16” where it takes on 3rd-seed Lincoln/Sudbury Regional (17-2-1) in an afternoon matinee on Saturday, March 2. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. at the Valley Rink in West Concord.

No place for the faint hearted in the crease

On the other end of the ice sophomore goalie Jil Costa earned her 10th shutout of the season, keeping a clean sheet for 51 minutes and 30 seconds as she spearheaded another defensive masterclass from a team that has given up a measly 15 goals in 19 games. The best of her clutch saves was with five seconds remaining in the first overtime when Costa swatted away with her stick blade a high puck heading towards goal, a reaction “that’s got to be on [ESPN’s] SportsCenter Top 10 plays,” said Kelleher.

Fronting Costa was Belmont’s defensive pairings – its core made up of Thea Monovich, Aislin Delaney, Martha Dimas and Elsie Larkin-Schultz – which continued their solid coverage they have provided the entire season, preventing clean breaks and keeping the majority of shots coming from the outside.

“I can’t say enough about pairs; they just play a great game again and again. We’ve got senior leadership back there along with freshmen that don’t playing like freshmen. It’s a confident group,” said Kelleher.

Belmont First Year Defender Elsie Larkin-Schultz

Belmont’s Player of the Match was first year defender Larkin-Schultz who provided coverage along the blue line while making a spark on offense, weaving her tall frame into the Warrior’s defensive zone.

While Billerica – a young team with just a pair of seniors while putting three 8th graders and seven first years on the varsity team – had their moments attacking Costa, Belmont had nearly double the shots taken by the Warriors. In the end, it would be left up to Driscoll, Belmont’s leading scorer and the most skilled player on the night, to end the contest.

Kelleher said while he would like to see a balanced scoring attack with all three lines – and a few defenders – getting on the scoring sheet.

“Nothing gets easier this time of year. It’s the old survive and advance. We came with the mindset that we will be back for another game.”

Belmont Town Election Ballot Set With Three Competitive Town-Wide Races And Two Big-Time Questions

Photo: The town election will take place on April 2

It’s official. Belmont Town Clerk Ellen Cushman announced last week she had certified the candidates who will be on the ballot for the annual Town Election on Tuesday, April 2.

Voters will ponder over three competitive town-wide races with half of the eight Town Meeting precincts along with two big-time questions on the ballot.

In the race for the all-important town body, two well-known members of the town’s financial watchdog will take on an absolute newbie. Colleagues Geoff Lubien and Matt Taylor on the Warrant Committee are out campaigning along with newcomer Alex Howard.

There’s an exciting mix for two seats on the school committee. Incumbent and current chair Meg Moriarty is seeking to return for her second stint on the board. At the same time, first-time candidates for town-wide office, Gen Z Town Meeting member Angus Abercrombie and noted education economist and professor Matt Kraft, are in the three-person race.

In his first competitive race on the ballot in more than 15 years in the post, Mike Widmer will face former school and warrant committee member Mike Crowley for town moderator.

On the legislative side of the ballot, half of the eight precincts – in a weird coincidence, they are the first four precincts, 1-4 – have exactly 12 residents running for a dozen three-year seats. A single precinct, number 5, came up short with only ten on the ballot. Surprisingly, precinct 7, which historically had difficulty finding candidates, will have 14 running with five non-incumbents, while precincts 6 and 8 will have 13 seeking 12 seats. Some of the best races will be for several partial-term seats: three will be running for a single-year post in Precinct 1, with two campaigning for the seats in Precincts 6 and 8.

In many ways, it will be the ballot questions that will bring out the voters in April. The outcome of the $8.4 million Prop 2 1/2 override to supplement the capital budget and the town and school operating budgets – Question 1 – will have long-term consequences for town and school services as well as personal finances. There are advocacy committees for yes and no votes. The second question will change the elected board of assessors to an appointed one. That measure passed at the January Special Town Meeting.