Retired Chelsea School cafeteria worker, class treasurer who was voted most popular girl in Chelsea High School, Class of 1945
Lillian (Hahsey) Hanlon, a lifelong Chelsea resident, passed away early Sunday morning, May 3 at Massachusetts General Hospital, just a few days after being admitted from home. She was 88 years old.
A graduate of Chelsea High School Class of 1945 where she was the class treasurer and voted the most popular girl in the class. After high school she took a job with New England Telephone. To spend more time at home and to raise her children, Lillian put work second and family first.
After the passing of her husband, Parker, in 1980, she worked for the Chelsea School System in the school cafeterias for over 15 years. In her spare time she enjoyed the beach and shopping as well as trips to Las Vegas.
She was the devoted wife of the late Parker F. Hanlon; beloved mother of Victoria Hanlon of Winthrop and Douglas Hanlon and his wife, Debbie of Chelsea; sister of the late Dorothy DelSignore and cherished grandmother of MacKenzie Hanlon and Dougie, Jackie and Kasey Hanlon.
At Lillian’s request, funeral services are private. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in her name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105. To send a message of condolence to Lillian’s family, please visit www.smithfuneralhomes.com
Evelyn Therese Cunningham
Registered Nurse and book lover
Evelyn Therese Cunningham died on April 27 in Winchester after a full life and a brief illness. She was 84 years old.
Born in Swampscott on October 9, 1930, she grew up in Revere (Point of Pines), the adopted daughter of Joseph John and Alice (Mahoney) Conway and sister of Olive Costin and Jack Conway.
A graduate of Immaculate Conception High School in Revere, she went on to nursing education at Massachusetts Memorial Hospital in Boston. She became an RN and had a career of adventure and experience working as a visiting nurse throughout the country and for many decades at Whidden Memorial Hospital in Everett. She lived in Florida for several years in the 1980s, but at the end of the day, her life was centered in the Boston area (Revere, Chelsea, Everett, Woburn, Winchester.)
For 17 years she had the pleasure of working with a Winchester family and their daughter. The parents knew that their daughter would thrive in the care of a pediatric/emergency room nurse and Evelyn rose to the challenge, sharing with their daughter her love of books, among other things. As a prolific reader, Evelyn is said to have checked out 6,608 books from the Winchester Public Library alone!
She was the former wife of Francis X. Cunningham and together they had eight children: Susan of Brookline, Francis X., Jr. “Buddy” (Charlotte) of Chevy Chase, MD, Denise (Ellen) of Takoma Park, MD, Carolyn of Sierra Madre, CA, Patrick (Debbie) of Revere, Kevin (Lisa) of Belmont, Daniel (Mary) of Takoma Park, MD and Joan (John) of Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia. She is also survived by 17 grandchildren.
It was clear that Evelyn was getting near the end when she said she could no longer read while in the hospital. As a tribute to her memory, donations may be made to: Honor and Memorial Gifts (in memory of Evelyn T. Cunningham), Winchester Public Library, 80 Washington Street, Winchester, MA 01890.
Interment is private. A memorial service to honor her life will be held during the summer.
Employee of Leonard Florence Center
for Living, former Chelsea Housing
Fred Martinello passed away suddenly at the Whidden Memorial Hospital in Everett on April 28. He was 53 years old.
Born and raised in Chelsea, the beloved son of Armando and Grace (Griffin) Martinello of Chelsea, Fred attended local schools and continued his education at Wentworth Institute in Boston graduating as a Certified Building and Construction Supervisor. He enjoyed carpentry and masonry work and was employed by the Chelsea Housing Authority for 15 years and, at the time of his passing, he was working for the maintenance department at the Leonard Florence Center for Living in Chelsea.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa Martinello and his three children; Timothy, Amy and Holly Martinello, all of Templeton. He was the loving son of Armando and Grace Martinello of Chelsea; dear brother of Stephen Martinello and his wife, Patricia of Peabody, Thomas Martinello and his wife, Linda of Saugus, Robert Martinello of Chelsea, Michael Martinello of West Yarmouth, Frank Martinello and his fiancée, Christine of Winchester and the late Maureen and Theresa Martinello. He is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.
His Funeral was held from St. Michael the Archangel Chapel (Cardinal Cushing Pavilion) at the Chelsea Soldiers Home followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in the Chapel. Interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Arrangements were by the Frank A. Welsh and Sons Funeral Home, Chelsea. To send expressions of sympathy, please visit: www.WelshFuneralHome.com
Bank of Boston retiree; member of many Jewish organizations
Rose (Spector) Liberty died on April 29 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton. She was 83 years old.
The beloved wife of the late H. Bernard Liberty, she was born in Chelsea, the daughter of the late Nathan and Ann (Schectman) Spector.
She was raised and educated in Chelsea and was a graduate of Chelsea High School, Class of 1949. She had been employed with Bank of Boston as an executive secretary retiring after 20 years of service and was a member of the Temple Emeth Sisterhood, Mizrachi of Del Ray Beach, Florida, Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home Auxiliary and the Orange Street Shul.
She is survived by her children: Nelson Liberty and his wife, Marcy of Georgia, Arleen Stoller and her husband, Jeffery of Marlborough and Bryan Liberty and his wife, Susan of Milton; her grandchildren: Samantha, Amanda and Nathan Liberty and Max Stoller. She was the sister of the late Samuel Spector, Dorothy Finklestein and Pearl Peters.
Her funeral service was held from the Torf Funeral Chapel, Chelsea followed by interment in the Jewish Community Center Cemetery, Danvers. Contributions in her memory may be made to the American Cancer Society, 30 Speen St. Framingham, MA 01701.
Nevaeh Etienne, 2, with ‘Frozen’ Princess Elsa, and Elianni Monge, during last weekend’s rescheduled Kiwanis Frozen Skating Party at the Cronin Rink. The new event by the Kiwanis was to raise funds for the Eliminate Project, which helps to end maternal neonatal tetanus.
DCR workers (left to right) Eber Rivera, Jean Valentin and James Kane hoist a tree into its new home on Arbor Day last Friday, April 24. Several state and local officials – including state Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Matthew
Beaton – converged upon the Burke School Complex to continue the tree planting effort in Chelsea. As a state Pilot program started last year, Chelsea has added some 780 trees to the City with a goal of 3,000 over five years.
On Sunday, April 26, at 8:57 PM, Chelsea officers were dispatched to the rear of 855 Broadway for a report of a male victim suffering from a gunshot wound. Upon arrival Officers observed a male victim sitting on the sidewalk with a gunshot wound to the right thigh. The victim was alert and stated that he had been shot after being attacked by two males that he could not describe after a robbery attempt.
The victim was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital and was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Chelsea Detectives are actively working the case and believe the incident was isolated based on the lack of cooperation from the victim. If anyone has any information on this incident they are asked to call Chelsea Police case detective at 617-466-4826
BREATHALYZER TESTS CHECK OUT OK
A review of approximately 39,000 breath test results by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security has found no evidence that breath test instruments in use in the Commonwealth are functioning improperly.
The concerns developed last week in several counties of the state by several District Attorney offices, including DA Dan Conley in Suffolk County.
The review identified a small percentage of breath test results that, due to operator error, were found to be invalid under Massachusetts regulations, which are more stringent than those set by the manufacturer. The invalid calibration test results did not stem from a malfunction with the breath test instruments themselves.
“Motor vehicle operators and the law enforcement community must have faith that breath tests are accurate and reliable, and we have taken the steps necessary to make sure that is the case,” said Secretary Daniel Bennett.
Massachusetts regulations require instrument operators to validate the tests with a calibration range between .074 and .086. This is more stringent than the setting assigned by the manufacturer of the Draeger 9510, which is the breath test instrument used by Massachusetts law enforcement. The Executive Office of Public Safety review found that in fewer than 150 cases, breath test personnel should have deemed the test to be invalid because the values were found to be outside the acceptable tolerance range set by Massachusetts regulations, even though they were within the manufacture’s calibration range.
The review also determined that when the Commonwealth transitioned its breath test instruments to the current model in 2011 it failed to request that Draeger customize its instruments to comply automatically with the requirements of the Massachusetts regulations. This required breath test instrument operators to complete an additional manual step to validate results using the Massachusetts standards.
At Secretary Bennett’s request, the manufacturer has agreed to update the instruments with a software patch so that the margin of error coded into the instrument is identical to that required under Massachusetts regulations, reducing the potential for operator error. In the meantime, all breath test operators will be instructed again of proper breath test calibration standards until the software changes take effect.
The Executive Office of Public Safety is currently working with the appropriate District Attorneys to identify each individual whose breath test was affected by operator error.
Chelsea Police, nor other departments in the area, believe that any of those cases in question are in their jurisdictions.
DA CONLEY TO DC
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley testified Wednesday, April 29, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Technology. Conley was one of three DAs nominated for the task by the National District Attorneys Association; he was selected by the Committee and was one of several witnesses to testify on potential US policy responses to cell phone encryption technology that cannot be broken by anyone – not even law enforcement officials with a valid search warrant signed by a judge. Conley also spoke about the detrimental effect this would have on American criminal prosecutions, which increasingly depend on digital evidence such as that obtained from cell phones.
Campus sexual violence has been the subject of an intense national conversation recently, but that dialogue often lacks critical input from schools that are already taking steps to improve their campus climates. Colleges and universities, it’s time for you to lead on this issue.
So far, and with good reason, most of the attention has focused on schools that are under investigation for violating federal laws about sexual violence and on the survivors bravely sharing their stories and calling for action. Yet there are a number of schools that are working hard to address these challenges and to make real progress on this issue, and we need to hear from schools that are prioritizing prevention, response, and transparency and including students and survivors in all related initiatives on campus.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so it’s a good time for schools to talk about how to meet their responsibilities to students. Rampant sexual violence creates a campus climate that is hostile to students, and students can’t learn when they aren’t safe. Because campus sexual assault happens everywhere, everyone benefits when schools worry less about public relations and more about making campuses safe. Part of the solution is for schools to create an environment where students feel comfortable reporting sexual violence.
Schools can also lead by understanding and complying with Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prevents sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Unfortunately, under the scrutiny of the national spotlight, some schools have criticized or even blamed the law for problems on campus. But Title IX is not the reason schools mishandle campus sexual assaults. Smart schools recognize that it is their all-important guide for upholding students’ civil rights in campus proceedings and preventing future violence on campus. Title IX works, and it must be protected.
Title IX requires schools to have a role in addressing sexual violence because they are best equipped to provide accommodations such as class schedule or housing changes, critical pieces of the sexual assault response that survivors may need to be able to complete their education. Schools must also figure out in an administrative setting what occurred and then handle it according to their established codes of student conduct, anti-discrimination policies, and federal civil rights law.
These responsibilities under Title IX do not require schools to serve as police officers, prosecutors, or judges. Schools do not decide whether a felony or misdemeanor occurred for purposes of prosecution, and they cannot make plea agreements or impose criminal punishments. Those roles are, appropriately, left to the criminal justice system and can take place simultaneously if the survivor chooses to involve law enforcement. Title IX guidance clearly delineates between schools’ role and law enforcement’s role.
If school officials truly don’t see how these separate paths can work together, many helpful resources are available through the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice and online at notalone.gov.
The current national dialogue will be more productive if institutional leaders join the conversation — along with survivors, advocates, and policy makers — and help end the epidemic of campus sexual violence. Many schools are missing the chance not only to keep students safe but also to impress on students, faculty, prospective students, and parents that their institution is part of the solution. In the coming months, we expect to have the opportunity to highlight and learn from schools that are proactively addressing campus sexual assault and embracing Title IX. We look forward to hearing from them.
Lisa M. Maatz is Vice President for Government Relations at American Association of University Women
We were so proud to take part in Suffolk County District Daniel F. Conley 7th Annual Basketball For Peace Tournament at the UMass Boston Clark Athletic Center.
DA Conley and his staff once again accomplished the mission of this wonderful event: to bring Boston’s young people together for a day of safe, healthy, team-oriented fun and give youth, parents, and community leaders an opportunity to meet the prosecutors, victim advocates, community outreach staff, and other professionals in the DA’s office.
From the moment the youths entered the gymnasium at UMass, they knew they were part of a truly special and well-organized event. The basketball games were played competitively and with sportsmanship and were officiated by professional referees. There was a real sense of camaraderie among the players and coaches on the teams who hailed from all parts of Suffolk County.
DA Conley and his staff made a great event even greater by inviting Leon Powe, the former Boston Celtics star, to serve as the guest speaker. Powe certainly enlightened the youths with his story of not taking his studies seriously enough as a youth to his becoming a serious-minded student and one of the best high school basketball players in the country and matriculating at the highly regarded University of California-Berkeley. Powe’s success at Cal led to the realization of his dream of playing in the NBA.
UMass Vice Chancellor Charlie Titus, one of the most prominent and respected names in all of college athletics, was a deserving recipient of a lifetime achievement award and you could tell how much this recognition by DA Conley meant to the legendary basketball coach and college administrator. The other honorees on this day were also grateful to DA Conley and his staff for being recognized as role models.
DA Conley oversees the busiest district attorney’s office in the Commonwealth. He is a credit to Stonehill College and Suffolk University Law School. For the district attorney to continue the great tradition that this basketball tournament has become speaks well of his noble declaration that “the most important part of my job is serving the people of Suffolk County.”
Keep up the great work, Suffolk County DA Daniel Conley.
The Chelsea High girls track team earned one of the biggest wins in the program’s history with a 70-65 triumph at Notre Dame Academy of Tyngsboro Tuesday afternoon, marking the first victory for Chelsea over an NDA team since the latter joined the Commonwealth Athletic Conference.
“This was a really big win for us,” said CHS head coach Amanda Alpert. “The girls were extremely excited and it made for a happy bus ride home.”
Red Devil star Mariama Kamara once again was a force for Chelsea, taking first in three events to tally 15 points for the CHS side of the scoresheet. Mariama won the 100 dash in 12.7 seconds, the 200 dash in 27.9, and the long jump with a leap of 15’-5”.
Katherine Cabral took first in the triple jump with a landing of 30’-7”, second in the long jump with a leap of 14’-10”, and a second in the 400 meter dash in 65.3 to post 11 points for Chelsea.
Jasmin Castello ruled the day in both the discus with a toss of 80’-5” and the shot-put with a throw of 27’-0” to add 10 points for Chelsea.
Martine Simon enjoyed a terrific day, scoring eight points in four events with a third in the 100 dash in 13.7, a second in the 200 dash in 28.9, a third in the long jump with a leap of 14’-0”, and a second in the triple jump in 30’-0”.
Norell Campos sped to victory in the 100 high hurdles in 19.5 and Owliyo Mohamud took first in the 400 dash in 64.9.
Alexandra Martinez took second ion the discus with a toss of 72’-4” and a third in the javelin with a throw of 59’-7”. Deysany DaSilva took second place in the high jump, clearing the bar at 4’-2”.
Adding key third place points, which are crucial in a close meet, were Emely Burgos in the 800 in 3:04; Wendy Becerra in a grueling double, the mile in 6:40 and the two mile in 14:01; Melanie Nguyen in the 100 high hurdles in 21.8; and Animata Ky in the discus with a spin of 68’-5”.
Alpert and her crew, who now are 4-0 on the season, will face Whittier Tech and Presentation of Mary Academy today (Thursday). On Saturday, Anna Davies, Alexandra Martinez, Owliyo Mohamud, and Martine Simon will compete in the State Freshmen/Sophomore meet at Oliver Ames High School.
Red Devil baseball drops two contests
The Chelsea High baseball team dropped both of its contests this past week to Whittier Tech and Essex Tech.
The Red Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first in their encounter at Whittier Tech last Thursday. Tom Melanson doubled home George Hernandez and Luis Jiminez, both of whom had walked, for a 2-0 Chelsea lead. Melanson then scored when he advanced to third on a passed ball and came home on a ground out by Andony Turcios.
Whittier responded with six runs in the bottom of the first in which two CHS errors played a key role, and upped the count to 9-3 with three more in the second frame. The Red Devils continued to battle however, scoring a run in the third when Turcios singled and eventually came around on a bases-loaded walk to Eduardo Nunez. Chelsea got two more back in the fourth when George Gomez and Turcios, both of whom had walked, scored on bases-loaded, free passes to Luis Rodriguez and Nunez.
That made the contest a 9-6 affair, but Essex broke matters open with six markers in the fourth and then four more in the fifth for a 19-6 finale.
In a 10-0 loss to Essex Tech Friday, the lone CHS base hit came from the bat of Rodriguez.
“The team has been battling hard in every game,” said CHS head coach Alan Beausoleil. “However, our defense and pitching need improvement.”
Beausoleil and his crew have a busy stretch this week and next with six games in eight days. They were set to play at Notre Dame/Cristo Rey yesterday (Wednesday) and travel to Lynn Tech today (Thursday). They host Greater Lawrence tomorrow (Friday), Mystic Valley Monday, and Cathedral Tuesday before returning to the road to Greater Lowell Wednesday.
DA Conley’s 7th Basketball Tourney
makes the Grade at UMass Boston
Kids and teens from across Boston and Revere came together at UMass Boston last Wednesday, April 22, with prosecutors, victim advocates, and celebrity coaches – including the Independent News Group’s editor Cary Shuman – at District Attorney Dan Conley’s seventh annual Basketball for Peace tournament.
“So many times when we hear about violent crime in Boston, we hear about this neighborhood fighting with that neighborhood, or this street fighting with that one, or even one block against another,” Conley said to the assembled group of about 100 kids between 12 and 15. “But the truth is, most young people in this city aren’t fighting. You’re going to school. You’re playing sports. You’re hanging out with your friends. And every one of you deserves the opportunity to do that safely, with the support of those of us in law enforcement.”
Conley organized the annual games seven years ago to supplement the Soccer for Peace tournament he’s hosted each summer since taking office. The goal is to bring kids together with each other and with the law enforcement professionals who protect them, building bridges between individuals and forging bonds with prosecutors. Conley’s assistant district attorneys, victim advocates, civilian investigators, and support staff all turned out in force to referee, distribute uniforms, serve food, and otherwise assist in the games.
The games were held this year at UMass Boston – a school, Conley said, that has turned out political leaders, visionaries in science and technology, and countless successful men and women who sought a world-class education in the heart of Boston.
As in prior years, Conley named a handful of public figures as honorary captains and role models for the kids: Steve Burton, sports director for WBZ-TV news; Michael Holley, legendary sports reporter and current WEEI radio host; Brian Salmand, anchor for FOX-25 news; Cary Shuman, editor in chief of the Independent Newspaper Group; and Jermaine Wiggins, former New England Patriots player and current Hot 96.7 radio personality.
Former Boston Celtics power forward and current Boston Celtics consultant Leon Powe was the day’s featured guest speaker.
As a special gift, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate pledged a free VIP tour for every young player who attended.
The youngsters represented teams from the Blackstone Community Center; the Bromley Heath Tenant Management Corporation; St. Peter’s Teen Center; the New Academy Estates; Codman Academy Charter High School; Project RIGHT Inc.; the Revere Police Athletics League; and the South Boston Community Center.
US Postal Service retiree; Member of Dominic Savio Athletic Hall of Fame; active coach for Chelsea youth and high school leagues
John M. “Jack” Halas of Chelmsford, formerly of Chelsea, passed away unexpectedly at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston late Friday evening, April 17 from complications from a stroke he suffered three days earlier. He was 66 years old.
A graduate of St. Rose Elementary School and Dominic Savio High School, Class of 1966, Jack entered the United States Air Force in 1968 doing his basic training in Monterey, California. Upon completion of Chinese language school from Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas, he was deployed to Yokota Air Force Base in Japan as a member of the 6988th Security Squadron which was responsible for intercepting communications during flights over China. After serving his country, he was honorably discharged with the rank of Sergeant in 1972 and returned home to begin working for Barry Controls for the next 20 years. In 1996, he took a position with the United States Postal Service and for the following 15 years until his retirement in 2011 worked as a clerk at the South Postal Annex in Boston.
Known for his athletic abilities during High School years and beyond, he was a member of the Chelsea Fast Pitch Softball League and was inducted into the Dominic Savio Hall of Fame in 1998. In addition, Jack was heavily involved in the lives of Chelsea’s youth as a coach in Little League baseball, youth baseball and basketball, and as an assistant basketball coach at Chelsea High School under Jack Niven. Devoted to his family, especially his grandchildren, he was an avid Boston sports fan.
He was the devoted husband of Amelia (Lopez); beloved son of Clara B. (Kanclerowicz) of Chelmsford and the late John I. Halas; loving father of Jennifer D’Amico and her husband, Mark of Bedford, NH and John V. Halas of Malden; brother of Diane Halas of Temple, NH, Dorothy Crone of Billerica and Elizabeth Ashley of Chelmsford and is also lovingly survived by his grandchildren: Victoria, Richard, William and Eva D’Amico as well as by many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements were by the Smith Funeral Home, Chelsea. Interment was at Woodlawn Cemetery, Everett. Expressions of sympathy in Jack’s name may be made to the Jimmy Fund-Dana Farber Cancer Institute, P.O. Box 849168, Boston, MA 02284-9168. To send a message of condolence to Jack’s family, please visit www.smithfuneralhomes.com
Lifelong Chelsea resident
Kenneth L. Williams, a lifelong resident of Chelsea, passed away on March 2 after a brief illness. He was 74 years old.
He leaves behind two sisters, Claire Kubarsky of Tewksbury and Charlotte Caron of Chelsea; a son, Kenneth Williams, Jr. of Peabody and many nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements were by Farmer & Dee, Tewksbury. Internment was at Tewksbury Cemetery, Tewksbury.
Retired Registered Nurse
Ruth E. MacInnes of Chelsea, formerly of Beachmont, Revere died on April 23.
Ruth worked at Cambridge Hospital as a Registered Nurse for many years before retiring. In her free time she enjoyed reading, crocheting and making beautiful afghans. She also loved walking along Revere Beach.
She was the beloved daughter of the late Martin and Violet (Wonstall); special aunt to Linda Baxter of Idaho and grandmother to Linda’s children Marshall and Mikayla Baxter; dear sister of the late Paul MacInnes, Donald MacInnes, Johnny MacInnes, Bobby MacInnes, Ernest MacInnes, Dorothy Magnell, Ginger Corsin and Beverly Palmer and is also survived by many loving nieces and nephews.
At her request, all services are private. Arrangement by Paul Buonfiglio & Sons-Bruno Funeral Home, 128 Revere St. Revere. For guest book, please visit www.Buonfiglio.com
It’s no secret that the melting snow – while a relief – has unveiled a litany of litter throughout the streets of Chelsea, and this weekend, residents, elected officials and City workers will fan out across the city to put all that trash where it belongs – in the can.
“We’ve got a dozen or so pre-selected location where we will station volunteers and we could use more and more volunteers,” said Roseanne Bongiovanni of the Chelsea Collaborative. “If someone wants to come down and request to clean their neighborhood, that’s great too. We’ll be picking up trash, recyclables, mulching trees and planting flowers all over the city. It’s really important to spruce up the city this year because we had a tough winter and a lot of trash has emerged from the snow that needs to be cleaned up.”
City Councillor Dan Cortell said he would be participating and he encouraged residents to get involved as well.
“As a yearly right of passage and reward for braving a record breaking winter for the ages, I hope all are looking forward to this years annual Earth Day festivities,” he said. “We will be doing a clean-up all over the city and in District 8 at a yet to be determined site. Please consider joining us on Mary 2nd at the City Hall parking lot.”
Organizers and volunteers will gather this Saturday, May 2, in the City Hall parking lot at 8:30 a.m. There will be T-shirts, equipment and tools available for volunteers, as well as a list of priority areas. At 9 a.m., volunteers will fan out all over the city to clean up.
The festivities will conclude with a celebration at Bosson Park (on Bellingham Street), where there will be food, music and games for the community.
Organizers and City leaders will also cut a ribbon on the newly-renovated Bosson Park around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday. Additionally, those who signed up for the rain barrel program already will have their barrels distributed at the Bosson Park celebration.
Organizers specified that there is a lot of work to be done, and they hope that a large group of folks will help out this year.
City Councillors may often be at odds on certain issues, but Monday night every councillor was on board with an official call to Acting Fire Chief Robert Houghton to come up with a plan to fix the broken fire overtime budget.
The call came just two weeks after the Council learned in a subcommittee meeting that the Fire Department Overtime budget this year had doubled – meaning that the original budget of $818,000 has increased to $1.635 million.
“We talked at that meeting about why,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “There were answers given, but we are requesting that the acting chief provide us a proposal to address this in the future and to control the overtime spending.”
Councillor Cliff Cunningham said he would like to see a reform plan that doesn’t include more than 10 percent of the overall budget being spent on overtime.
“I think the overtime situation is outrageous and unsustainable,” he said. “It has been a problem each of the four years I’ve been up here and was an issue before I was here. It is worse than ever this year. This is a problem this year that I do’t think the City Council can ignore anymore…I personally would rather see the city manager and fire department create a budget and adhere to it that is 10 percent of the full total budget as the Matrix Study has suggested.”
Councillor Calvin Brown suggested that within the proposal the acting fire chief allow for a quarterly report to the Council on overtime spending.
“I believe the fire department should come back to us quarterly so we can see why this is escalating every year,” he said. “I know we had a tough winter, but if you look beyond those tough days with the snowfall, you see a lot of overtime is used in those times. A quarterly report would give us an opportunity to look at it before it gets as out of whack as it is.”
Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he has fiscal concerns regarding the overtime usage.
“I know we need the fire department to protect us, but the overtime they are using is eating the City’s free cash,” he said. “We can’t keep taking money out of free cash to subsidize the fire department overtime. If they don’t have enough staffing, then maybe we should look at that.”
Council President Leo Robinson said he would like to have the proposal in hand prior to budgetary hearings this spring, perhaps as early as next week.