There are some people whose voice you immediately associated with a place or time.
The voice of the Fenway Park for old-timers will always be Sherm Feller while recent generations remember the late Carl Beame.
Cantankerous Johnny Most is still the radio heart of the Boston Celtics.
And the voice of Belmont is a life-long resident you’ve heard a great deal in the past month.
“This is Dan MacAuley of the Belmont Police Department.”
Since the first of nearly a dozen calls since the last week of January when the first of four major snow storms began, adults reactively begin reaching for shovels and students leaping for joy as MacAuley’s unmistakable Boston accent rattles off yet another list of snow emergencies, parking bans and school cancellations over the phone.
Turns out MacAuley is a natural for the job.
“Believe it or not, I usually get it done in one or two takes,” MacAuley told the Belmontonian.
“I’m pretty hard on myself, and if it’s not close to perfect, I’ll do it again,” he said.
And when you come to think about it, MacAuley is a perfect person to represent the voice of a town living here nearly all of his life.
MacAuley has lived 53 of my 55 years in Belmont, straying only to Waltham for two years after marrying his wife, Jackie.
“I grew up on Sherman Street and attended the Winn Brook School, the Chenery Middle School, and graduated from Belmont High School in 1978,” said MacAuley, who went on to obtain his Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Middlesex Community College.
His involvement in town began when he was elected to Town Meeting while still a high school student (where he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.) You have likely seen MacAuley selling Christmas tree during the holiday season at the Lions Club where he is a past president.
He has also led the Belmont Boosters Club (past president and treasurer) and Belmont Recreation Committee (past chair).
He and Jackie have a son, Danny, a senior at Adelphi University on Long Island, and Katie, their daughter who is a junior at Belmont High School.
“I have only had two jobs in my life,” he said; working part time at the First National Grocery store in Belmont Center until it closed in the early 1980’s then being hired – along with current Belmont Police Sgt. Kevin Shea – as one of the first full-time police dispatchers in August, 1982.
In his four decades on the force, MacAuley has worked as a police dispatcher, fire alarm operator, communications supervisor, and now 9-1-1 Operations Manager where he is in charge of the entire dispatch center that includes eight full-time dispatchers, a full-time communications supervisor and three per-diem dispatchers.
It was through his involvement in selecting the present company, Blackboard Connect, which runs the town’s “Community Notification System” (similar to the popular “Reverse 9-1-1” operation which is a trademark term of a competing company) that he became the town’s “voice.”
“When they were chosen [in July 2008], [Belmont Police] Chief [Richard] McLaughlin asked me to be the coordinator and voice of the program,” MacAuley said.
Scheduled calls are approved by Town Administrator David Kale, Police Chief McLaughlin or Fire Chief David Frizzell while emergency notifications are sent out with the approval of the Police Officer or Fire Captain in charge.
Approximately 11,000 residents, businesses, and employees are contacted by MacAuley for weather-related issues, missing people bulletins, road closures, power outages and small items such what streets will have their hydrants flushed.
And in the past month, MacAuley has been coming into Belmont homes at a rapid clip due to snow emergencies, school closings and whether residents’ trash will be picked up on its scheduled days.
With that exposure has come a bit of notoriety.
“When I am around and about, and people see the name tag on my uniform, I almost always get ‘Oh, you’re the guy that calls us all the time,'” he said.
“And my daughter and wife get asked all the time if I’m the guy who makes all the calls,” said MacAuley.