A recent report issued by the public interest group Save the Harbor/Save the Bay informs us that the beaches surrounding the Metropolitan Boston area were open for bathing 96 percent of the time during the summer of 2016 and that, barring unforeseen circumstances, the outlook should be the same for 2017.
This is quite an accomplishment, given that a generation ago, beaches in the Boston area were closed more often than not — and even when open, our beaches were not exactly inviting to swimmers and other recreational users.
We ourselves recall sailing in Boston Harbor in the 1980s and being unable to find a clean place to take a dip off our boat — and that included the outer harbor waters around the Brewster islands. There was no escape from the sliminess (for want of a better word) that essentially made the waters of Boston Harbor nothing more than a giant cesspool.
It certainly is true that the clean-up of Boston Harbor came at great expense to the ratepayers of the MWRA and surrounding sewer districts. Water and sewer rates skyrocketed on an annual basis for the 15 years of the construction phase and immediate aftermath of the construction of the MWRA’s treatment plant on Deer Island.
However, as with everything else in life, you get what you pay — there is no such thing as a free lunch, as the saying goes — so while the sudden shock of rising water & sewer rates caused some degree of hardship for some ratepayers, the bottom line is that all of us in this area had taken for granted the cheap water & sewer rates we had known for our entire lives — as well as where our water came from and where it drained out to — with no concern about the consequences of what we were doing to Boston Harbor, the greatest natural resource in our area, every time we flushed our toilets.
Moreover, as with many things when it comes to government fees and taxes, most ratepayers only looked at one side of the cost equation. We did not recognize that not only were there economic drawbacks associated with creating a polluted harbor, but that there were huge economic gains to be derived from making an investment in cleaning it up.
The magnificent and clean harbor that we have now, which admittedly was achieved at great expense, has been an economic engine for the entire area, creating jobs and adding immensely to property values not only along the immediate coast, but throughout Greater Boston, that have benefited every ratepayer.
So as we look forward to the coming summer of 2017, we can be grateful that we have a clean Boston Harbor to enjoy with our friends and families. In the 30-plus years since the MWRA has come into existence, the advantages, economic and otherwise, of achieving a sparkling Boston Harbor have extended far beyond merely being able to enjoy a swim on a hot summer’s day (which, in our view, is priceless)
Another touching Memorial Day Parade and Exercise went off on Monday despite the cold and rain.
The band was there.
The veterans were there: some of them old men and some of them young women.
A Gold Star Mother who lost her son in 2008 spoke to the crowd, and said gatherings like these help her heal.
Schoolchildren even came out on their day off to cheer on the veterans and to make special readings.
But our question is why was there a small number of elected officials.
The attendance at Memorial Day isn’t mandatory for anyone; it’s like the church collection.
We won’t list off names or anything. The fact of the matter is that those who were there know they were there.
We counted six city councillors and three members of the School Committee.
Typically, the municipal elected official ranks in other communities in any Parade is bulging with excited politicians. In this year’s Girl Scout Parade, our political ranks were sparse – putting it kindly.
The trouble is that Memorial Day was a good turnout by historical standards.
The elected officials of this City are expected to set the standard, for being the leaders in the community. They are elected by the people to stand up on times like these to memorialize those that went overseas to protect us and who died in that cause.
The names on the Memorials at City Hall for which our elected officials pass by routinely are the names of real people who lived in Chelsea. Many of their families and friends still live here.
Some of them are old and long forgotten.
But the fact of the matter is there is a large number of young veterans who come to Memorial Day now.
Diana Ramirez is not an old woman, but rather a younger woman who is a Spanish-speaking woman and whose son was only 22 when he died nine years ago. That’s not a long time ago, and there are some people who still remember him.
There is little more that a person like Nelson Rodriguez Ramirez – or any of the other lost men and women memorialized around City Hall – could have done than lay down their lives.
The time has come for everyone and most importantly our elected officials to be at events like these
Ariel Urena and Mirialie De Jesus dance together at the Chelsea High School Senior Prom at the Hilton Hotel at Logan Airport on Saturday, May 20. Hundreds of students gathered for the annual celebration as the school year begins to wind down.Chelsea High’s graduation exercises will take place in a few short weeks, on June
Firefighters, as shown below, had to keep low to the ground due to the active shooter and moved in to fight the fire under heavy protection by the SWAT teams. The incident was sparked allegedly by a domestic situation between Pastrana, his wife, and a young child.
It’s no secret that, at times, the quiet of a Chelsea night can be punctuated by the sound of gunfire.
But not on Warren Avenue, usually.
The calm of the hillside neighborhood below the Soldiers’ Home broke out into chaos just before 10 p.m. on Monday night, when a misty night gave way to hundreds of police and fire personnel, and one man who allegedly initiated the response with a domestic situation, perished after a lengthy standoff and raging fire.
Kelly Pastrana, 38, of 80 Warren Ave., was found dead around 2 a.m. on Tuesday inside the home after fire crews from all over the area had extinguished the raging inferno that Pastrana allegedly started while police negotiators tried to reach out to him.
That came after he had fired on police twice with a gun while holed up in his home.
District Attorney Dan Conley and Chief Brian Kyes promises a full and fair evaluation of the incident, and Conley said at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that Pastrana had died of a gunshot wound to the abdomen. That seemed to indicate that police might have shot him during the exchange of gunfire between Pastrana and police on the second occasion that he allegedly fired upon them.
“The facts as we understand them strongly suggest that this was a case of domestic violence,” said Conley. “It escalated to an armed assault on the female victim, a young child, and responding police officers – two of whom, we believe, also discharged their firearms in the course of the event. After the initial domestic assaults, evidence suggests that Mr. Pastrana deliberately set a fire inside the home, where he was found dead early this morning. A short time ago, state pathologists ruled his death the result of a gunshot wound to the abdomen with thermal injuries from the fire.”
He said the case has been turned over to senior homicide prosecutors in his office. He also said that the case file would be turned over to Pastrana’s family, and then to the public.
“As with any death that involves police activity, senior homicide prosecutors from my office are leading the investigation to determine exactly what took place and whether criminal charges are warranted,” he said. “They will work with State Police detectives assigned to my office, with the assistance of specialized State Police units, the State Fire Marshal’s office, and Chelsea Police detectives. This is a standard procedural step and we have drawn no final conclusions at this early stage.”
A member of Pastrana’s family, Emanuel Santiago, of East Boston, was on the scene Tuesday.
He said Pastrana and his wife, who both lived on Warren Avenue since around 2015, moved from East Boston and were both rooted there. He said they had five children, one of whom was a star athlete at East Boston High School. He said Pastrana was a family man, and he asked for the family to be respected.
“He wasn’t a criminal or a troublemaker,” said Santiago. “He was a human being like we all are.”
Police were called to the scene around 9:18 p.m.
Just prior to that, Pastrana is alleged to have chased his wife and their youngest child out of the home. As they sought help nearby, he fired a weapon at them, but did not hit anyone.
As he proceeded back to his home, he encountered a responding officer and shot the gun at him.
That officer was originally reported to have been shot in the hand, but Chief Kyes said the officer had only cut his hand while diving out of the way of the discharged bullets.
Pastrana is then alleged to have gone into the home and fired bullets out the front window at police.
A short time later, after a huge response to the home from police in Revere, Everett, Boston, Lynn and even Salem, Pastrana came out the basement door in the back of the home and fired again on police who were trying to set up a perimeter around the home.
The neighborhood began to erupt into chaos after that.
Police went door to door and evacuated people from their homes, with many running from their homes in terror and fleeing to a nearby church until around 3 a.m.
Council President Leo Robinson, who lives on Warren Avenue, said he heard gunshots and then everything went south.
“I was at home after the Council meeting and then heard the ‘boom-boom’ of the gunshots,” he said. “A few minutes later the cops were banging on the door and telling us to leave. We had to go down the street, and a bunch of people went to the church. It was crazy.”
Things got much more problematic, however, when police began to notice smoke coming out of the home. Officers at the scene on the radio began reporting that the area was “really smoking up.”
The problem, however, was that it was too dangerous with an active shooter to allow firefighters to move in to fight the growing blaze. Soon enough, the entire house had been engulfed and flames stretched high into the air.
Once they believed that no one was alive inside due to the fire, fire crews from all over Greater Boston moved in under ‘forced protection’ of the large SWAT team presence.
Chief Len Albanese said it was a defensive fight, trying to make sure the fire didn’t spread to any other homes.
“It was too dangerous to put firefighters in the way of that,” he said. “We let the building burn unit we were quite certain no one could survive and then we moved in. It was a defensive fight, focusing on that building only and making sure it didn’t spread.”
The fire was extinguished about 2 a.m. and investigators moved in, finding Pastrana deceased inside.
Kyes said Pastrana did not have an extensive record. He had an arrest in Chelsea in 2004 for an assault, some motor vehicle violations in 2006 and an arrest in 2009 in Lynn for an assault and battery. Other than that, he wasn’t really on the police radar screen.
One of the keys to the evening for law enforcement was how the multiple agencies, including police, fire, SWAT and dispatch, worked together seamlessly.
Kyes said it was incredible the way agencies worked and cooperated to handle the incident.
Said Albanese, “Police and Fire worked well together. We’ve adapted our policy under the latest Department of Homeland Security guiltiness and it proved effective. The incredible response when as good as we could have expected.”
Local organizers said the City, its non-profits and its residents left a positive mark on a team of evaluators visiting the city from the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health prize last week.
“I thought it was exciting,” said Roseann Bongiovanni of GreenRoots, one of the planners. “We had planned so much for them to see and the community welcome at City Hall and the bus tour, and it all went much better than we anticipated…We actually made it to every place we wanted to go. We felt it was a great, inclusive view of the community…They said they felt their experience was really positive.”
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was thrilled with the way the City was portrayed. He said he believes the City has a great chance of winning the $25,000 prize and all of the accolades that go with it.
“I was so proud of the City of Chelsea during those two days they were here,” he said. “It showcased how much great work is being done and the good collaboration that comes with non-profits and residents. This is a fantastic city. I was proud of the city and proud to be its leader. If we don’t prevail in this award, I want to visit the city that does because I can’t imagine anyone is doing better work than the City of Chelsea.”
The team arrived on Thursday, May 18, and were greeted at the Council Chambers with a large crowd of City officials, residents and non-profit leaders. Presentations were made by Ambrosino, State Housing Undersecretary Juan Vega, Chelsea Collaborative Director Gladys Vega, Council President Leo Robinson and Chamber President Sergio Jaramillo.
Yeny Solis, who was recently hired by the City’s Billing Department, gave testimony as to how she turned her life around. She said the community gave her a chance to flourish through her struggles, and she and her young son have done so.
“This community helped me to grow and spread my wings and find a successful life,” she said.
Jaramillo said the City was one he didn’t plan to stay in when he came to this country, but it grew on him until he was a part of it.
“You come to Chelsea and you don’t figure you will stay,” he said. “You figure you will move on to somewhere else. That’s what I thought, but the fabric of Chelsea is in my blood and my character. I now love this place.”
Bongiovanni said the evaluators visited Roca, the Box District, talked with Councillor Damali Vidot, Enio Lopez and Judith Garcia, went to the Clark Avenue School and also to the MGH Chelsea.
They also visited the New England Produce Center to see how environmental justice played out in the outfitting of diesel trucks with more environmentally friendly equipment.
“They asked us a lot of questions and they were very interested in how we address our health issues,” she said.
The City and the planning committee expects to find out if they win before July 4.
Council President Leo Robinson, Ron Robinson, Leo Buzzalino of ISD, Hector Prieto of ISD and Building Inspector Mike McAteer.
Compare Supermarket owner Al Calvo, Rev. Sandra Whitley, and City Treasurer Bob Boulrice.
School Committeeman Bobby Pereira and Councillor Damali Vidot.
Photographer John Kennard and Judy Mastrocola.
Roseann Bongiovanni welcomes the evaluators to City Hall, including (left) RWJ Director Karabi Acharya.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino welcomed the team to the City on Thursday afternoon.
Evaluators listen to the presenters (L-R) RWJ Communications Director Joe Marx, Lillian Rivera of Miami-Dade County Health Department, Rev. Sandra Whitley, RWJ Director Karabi Acharya, Devarati Syam and RWJ Deputy Director Carrie Carroll.
Chelsea Collaborative Director Gladys Vega details how far the City has come over the years in public health.
The Chelsea Fire Department union is calling on the City and Fire Chief Len Albanese to immediately outfit the members of its union with ballistic helmets recommended by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in the wake of the active shooter incident on Warren Avenue.
President Anthony Salvucci said the union, Fire Chief and City Manager Tom Ambrosino have been in discussions over the past several weeks to get funding for the new ballistic helmets, which would have protected the heads of firefighters as they moved in.
So far, Salvucci said the City has deferred on the expense, and want to include it in next year’s budget. According to Salvucci, that is no long acceptable.
“We sat down with Tom and the Chief and they said, ‘When will we ever use this,’” said Salvucci. “Well, here we are two weeks later. At the end of the day, we want what’s best for the community. We’re not looking to stop this or to stop any training or drills, but we want what is best practice. We want the equipment that is recommended by DHS. We’re not opposed to this. This is a very real thing. The world is changing and we want to change with it.”
Already, the City has invested recently in some active shooter training and in ballistic vests, which Chief Albanese said were actually put on the apparatus earlier this month.
The time for those vests was perfect.
“We trained with them through the month of April and put them on the apparatus May 5, and now here we are already using them,” he said, noting that grant money paid for the vests.
The training that was recently engaged in included tactical training to prevent hemorrhage, Warm Zone entry with force protection and command staff coordination.
He said all of those trainings were directly applicable on Monday night.
“Utilizing the training and preparation for Active Shooter incidents, we were able to adapt quickly to this dynamic scene,” he said. “Once the house was heavily involved in fire, our firefighters made a cautious exterior attack, with ballistic protection, under the cover provided by Police and SWAT. The communication between Police and Fire was excellent.”
Salvucci said they agree that the situation played out well, but they also believe that it was a red flag for making sure that the right equipment is in their hands.
He said it would cost about $7,000 to $15,000 to outfit the entire department with ballistic helmets. He pointed to a $34 million Free Cash fund and about $2 million available in the Stabilization Fund.
“When you’re standing next to a SWAT guy and you’re fighting a fire and he’s wearing that helmet, you want to have the same protections that he has in that situation,” he said. “We’re not talking about big money here so I don’t think we should have to wait until the next fiscal budget. You wouldn’t send a firefighter into a burning house with half of his or her equipment.”
Recently, I have been approached by individuals who have been told that I was against having Food Trucks in the City of Chelsea.
That is totally false. I welcome food trucks in Chelsea. As a matter of fact, when I was the site coordinator for the Chelsea Latin American Music Festival, I sought out food trucks to insure a successful event.
I did however, vote against a food truck-zoning ordinance that was presented to the city council because I had objections to two key details that were not included in the ordinance.
First, the zoning ordinance did not include a specific process on where the trucks would be located. Boston, Somerville and Cambridge all designate locations where food trucks can locate as so they do not impact local restaurants. I simply want the Parking Commission to designate the spots rather than have a free for all where trucks roam like ice cream trucks.
Second, I wanted the trucks to be registered in Chelsea so that the excise taxes of the truck and meals taxes from the sales go to the City of Chelsea. If a truck is registered in Somerville and operates in Chelsea, all that money goes to Somerville. I do not think its fair or right that a food truck making money in Chelsea pays it to another city. I also do not think its fair that a brick and mortar food establishment should have a disadvantage of paying property taxes, numerous licensing fees while a food truck pays a nominal fee to operate in Chelsea.
Many of my colleagues on the council agreed with me and rejected that zoning ordinance. Shortly after the vote, I asked the City Attorney to help me draft a revised ordinance. I was told we would have to wait two years per Mass General Law .
The City Manager and Solicitor have recently told me we can instead allow food trucks by passing an ordinance instead of a zoning law.
That being the case, we expect to have a proposed food truck ordinance in June that will include measures that allows the city to receive the financial benefits of allowing food trucks while also not impacting current brick and mortar food establishments in Chelsea.
Described in journals as a person’s “perceived social isolation,” i.e., a subjective belief that they are socially isolated, another way of summarizing this condition is simply “feeling lonely.”
The opposite feeling – that you have a network of supportive relationships – provides numerous psychological benefits, including a sense of belonging, an increased sense of self-worth, and a feeling of security.
Thankfully, there are actions people can take to reduce a sense of isolation (discussed below).
Causes of Isolation
Many circumstances can lead one to feel isolated, including: a job loss; a divorce; injury or illness; the death of a loved one; having a family member with an illness that requires extensive care; etc.
Implications of Feeling Isolated
Besides negatively affecting one’s mood, feeling isolated and lonely is a risk factor for many medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, depression, and impaired executive functioning.
In fact, the influence of social relationships on the risk of death is comparable to well-established mortality risk factors such as smoking and alcohol consumption and exceeds the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.
Ways to Reduce Isolation
Numerous authorities, including the Mayo Clinic, have suggestions for increasing one’s social network, such as:
Take a weekly class, whether at a gym, a local college, or as part of adult education, so that you will have regular contact with the same people and be more likely to establish friendships.
Join a lecture series.
Consider getting a roommate.
Change your housing situation to one where there are more opportunities to be a part of a community.
Go online (especially helpful for people who are homebound).
Options abound: join a chat room for people who share one of your interests, e.g., writing, cooking.
Keep in touch with out-of-state friends and family thru Skype, Facebook (or FaceTime on an iPhone).
Visit sites designed specifically for people going through stressful times, such as a divorce, or the arrival of a new baby. Expand your social sphere through social networking sites such as Facebook.
Primer on Building and Nurturing Friendships
Respond and Reciprocate. Answer phone calls, return emails, and reciprocate invitations in order to let people know you care.
Don’t compete. Be happy (not jealous) when your friends succeed.
Be a good listener. When someone is talking, really listen to what they’re saying (as opposed to formulating in your mind your next response).
Don’t overdo it. Be careful not to overwhelm friends and family with phone calls and emails. In addition, be wary of “oversharing” with new or casual acquaintances and on social networking sites.
Taking the time to build a social support network is a wise investment in your mental well-being and physical health. Research also shows that those who enjoy high levels of social support live longer. Whether you make more friends or improve the quality of relationships you already have, you’ll reap a plethora of rewards.
By Sheldon Bycoff is President, Mental Health Programs, Inc.
CHS girls capture CAC track title; Martine Simon is named meet MVP
The Chelsea High girls track team scored a dominating 154 points — a total that was more than the second (Essex Tech with 97 points) and third-place (Shawsheen Tech with 54 points) schools combined — to capture the 2017 championship of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference in a meet held Saturday at Shawsheen Tech.
Martine Simon was named the Meet MVP in recognition of her three CAC title-winning performances in the 100 meter dash (12.96), 200 dash (26.72), and the long jump (15’-10”). In addition, Martine took third in the triple jump with a distance of 33’-5”.
To put her feat into perspective, Martine’s total of 36 points for the Lady Red Devils was more than what half the other teams at the meet scored.
Senior Sylvia Agywaa was another standout for Chelsea. Sylvia took first in both the high hurdles (16.20, a new meet and CHS school record) and the low hurdles (1:11.86).
“Sylvia has had an amazing season and is getting stronger heading into next week’s state meet,” said CHS head coach Mark Martineau.
Sophomore Amanda Dias continued her winning ways, taking first place in the two mile and adding a third in the one mile for 16 points.
Fellow sophomore Jocelyn Poste enjoyed a fine day, taking second places in the 800 (2:36.39) and the 400 hurdles (1:13.19) to post 16 points in the Chelsea column.
Senior Owliyo Mohamud took second in the 400 in a personal record (PR) time of 1:01.48 and third in the 200m (27.75). Freshman Stephanie Simon also turned in a splendid day, grabbing second in the high jump with a PR leap of 5’-0”.
The throwing events continued to be a strength for Chelsea. The Lady Red Devils took second, third, and fourth places in the shotput, led by Alex Martinez and Michena Eugene.
Chelsea also grabbed three places in the discus with Masireh Ceesay taking second (87’-7”), Tracy Flores third (81’-0”), and Jessica Martinez fifth (77’-2”).
“This was a great way to cap off a record-setting season for this girls’ squad,” said Martineau. “This is an amazing and special group of girls. Graduation will hit us hard on the track and in terms of leadership. We will be looking for new girls to step up and continue the winning ways.”
The 2017 crown mark the second straight CAC Meet title and the third straight undefeated duial-meet season for the CHS girls.
“The graduating seniors will have finished their career with a record of 40 wins, one loss, and one tie,” added Martineau. “Not bad for four years of work.”
CHS boys take second at CAC; LeClerc named MVP
The Chelsea High boys track & field team turned in a superb performance, scoring 78 points to place second, behind only Shawsheen Tech, at Saturday’s Commonwealth Athletic Conference championship meet.
“This was an amazing day,” said CHS head coach Mark Matineau. “What makes this accomplishment really amazing is the fact that we only had 12 individual boys compete at this meet.”
Leading the way of Chelsea was league MVP Jose Leclerc, who won a tough double, taking the two-mile (10:45) as well as the 800 (2:09).
“Jose has been undefeated in both events this year and had to be really focused and disciplined to pull off the tough double in a big meet like this one,” said Martineau.
Adriel Cedano also had a big day, winning the 400m (52.53) and finishing second in the triple jump with a new CHS school record jump of 41’-4”. The old record had stood since 1973.
Nick Ieng had a big points-day, finishing fourth in the 100 (11.6), third in the shotput, third in the javelin, and fourth in the 200m.
“Nick’s performance sums up the story of this team — kids working really hard, competing in multiple events, and leaving it all out on the track,” noted Martineau. “I can honestly say that this is one of the toughest squads ever to come through our program. They refuse to quit or give in. Like the girls, the boys will graduate much of their leadership and points. We have a strong young distance core that is progressing well, we will need to fill some sprints and jumps to round out this team.”
This Saturday the girls and boys travel to the MIAA D2 state championships at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School.
“With 10 girls and six boys going, this looks to be the biggest squad we have ever brought,” said Martineau.
CHS baseball team ready to wrap up 2017
The Chelsea High baseball team was set to conclude its 2017 campaign this week. Coach Alan Beausoleil’s Red Devils were scheduled to play at Essex Tech this past Tuesday and will play their season finale today (Thursday) against Whittier Tech at Carter Park.
The CHS squad dropped both of its contests this past week, falling to Greater Lawrence, 10-0, and to St. Clement’s, 11-5.
In the latter contest, Luis Jimenez had a hit, stole three bases, and scored a run. Andrew Falcon banged a double for an RBI and drew a base-on-balls.
Chelsea had closed to within 7-5 by the middle of the sixth inning, but St. Clem’s pulled away with four markers in the bottom of the sixth.