The Rose Rush is On: Valentine’s Day at New Regional Flower Exchange in Chelsea is a Better Experience for Buyers

The Rose Rush is On: Valentine’s Day at New Regional Flower Exchange in Chelsea is a Better Experience for Buyers

Anyone in Greater Boston who got a rose yesterday on Valentine’s Day likely had that rose pass through the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea.

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

In a formerly vacant warehouse on Second Street, the hub of Valentine’s Day – and every other flowery occasion – has been established.

The New England Flower Exchange on Second Street virtually handles about every rose that ended up in the hands of lovers on Valentine’s Day.

This past Monday, the Exchange was brimming with activity, as it was the last possible day for the nine wholesalers in the Exchange to get their product out the door to local florists, who in turn provide the necessary flowers, vases and accompaniments to customers for the big day.

It was the first Valentine’s Day holiday for the Exchange in its new location, after having moved from Boston’s South End (where it was next to I-93 and called the Boston Flower Exchange) after 50 years last March.

“Valentine’s Day is stressful,” said Jerry Cupp, of Cupp & Cupp Corp. – one of the long-time Exchange wholesalers. “I think that it’s one of the busiest times here at the Flower Exchange. So many things can go wrong. We’ve been going from 4 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. If they had eight days, it would be eight days a week. Today is the big day though.”

For local florists who have been long-time customers of the Exchange in its former South End location – such as Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florist on Eastern Avenue – having the Exchange in Chelsea is a relief.

That was particularly true this week as it was the first Valentine’s Day where she didn’t have to wade through traffic on the Tobin Bridge and downtown Boston to get to her flowers and supplies.

“I absolutely love it being here now because it’s in Chelsea,” she said. “I love not having to go over the Bridge. I’m here two or three times a day. It’s so much easier. I came over here today and looked at the traffic backed up on the Tobin and said, ‘Thank God that’s not me anymore.’”

Paula Parziale, a long-time general manager of Berkeley Floral Supply – and an Everett native, said Valentine’s Day can be a challenge  for a wholesaler.

“We do call it hell week around here,” she joked. “It’s actually more clean and organized than it’s ever been. Valentine’s Day is all about roses. There are so many varieties of roses now, you have to get your orders in to the growers early so you don’t get bumped. For us, family and friends know not to call us or text us until Feb. 15 – unless it’s an emergency.”

The New England Flower Exchange is a wholesaler, much like many of the fruit and vegetable dealers in the neighboring New England Produce Center. That means the general public cannot waltz into the facility and buy directly from any of the business there. However, anyone with the proper floral credentials can establish an account, and most every florist in the area does their shopping at the new Exchange – which sources most of its flowers from Ecuador, the United States, Colombia and Holland.

Many of those growers begin growing to supply wholesalers at the Exchange right before Christmas – meaning that the flower’s journey begins long before February.

LaCount said many consumers think that the flower industry engages in price gouging at Valentine’s Day, but it’s not the case. Instead, she said the growers have to sacrifice two or three crops to provide the volume needed for the American Valentine’s Day. That special circumstance comes at a premium cost, she said, for the wholesalers.

“People don’t understand the growers have to forgo an entire harvest or two to get the kind of production needed for Valentine’s Day,” she said. “People think it’s gouging, but it isn’t. The volume is there, but the wholesale costs are so high that you don’t make a lot of money on Valentine’s Day. Normally, I would charge around $60 for a dozen roses, but that goes up to $90 on Valentine’s Day because the wholesale costs are twice as high. Believe me, I’d close the store on Valentine’s Day if I could, but I can’t because I haven’t won the lottery yet.”

Meanwhile, the major story besides Valentine’s Day at the new Exchange is the move that they made last year.

“It has been such a smooth transition; it was wonderful,” said Janina Cupp, market manager. “They actually did business in the South End up to closing on Feb. 28, and on March 1 came over here and opened the next day. It’s been really great. It’s been better for some florists than others. Those from the North Shore and Maine love it. Those on the South Shore aren’t so happy, but they’re making the transition. The Tobin Bridge is the issue, but everyone has grown accustomed to it. The last market was worn. This market has a lot more open energy to it. There’s one aisle and you can see everything, plus the new lighting is much better.”

The Exchange began its build out in mid-December 2016 after their old location in the South End sold to the Abbey Group to be developed into about 1.5 million sq. ft. of premium high-rise office space. The former Exchange had been in that location for 50 years, but the development push on what had become prime property was too strong.

On March 1, 2017, nine of the wholesalers made the move, with one staying in the South End area and another closing. Several, such as Carbone, moved over their operations, but also significantly expanded their offerings of vases and other accessories.

A new wholesaler of vases from New York has also been added.

But the major message is that they’ve found success, and stayed together.

“It’s worked out a lot better than anticipated,” said Jerry Cupp. “We anticipated something like a 10 or 15 percent reduction in sales when we moved. It has turned out just the opposite. The way this building is designed is a lot better. It’s more open and you get a great visual of everything. There are coolers and refrigerators. You can get the product from the cooler trailer to the floor and the coolers much quicker. That matters.”

Parziale said one of the best parts for her has been keeping the wholesalers together. The floral business, she said, is one that doesn’t change much, and many of those in the wholesale and retail markets tend to become like family over the years. There had been a threat that everyone would split up, but the new Exchange has prevented that, she said.

“I don’t think there are too many complaints at all,” she said. “We’re just really lucky we all got to stay together because it’s very unique to see a Flower Market stay together under one roof. We could have all split up. That would have been sad. Many of us have been working side by side and together for 30 or 40 years…For the customers, it’s important because you walk in and have everything you need all in one place. You only have to get out of your car one time.”

Bob Hall of Kelley Wholesale Florists said they were also concerned in leaving the South End, but as it turned out, the concerns weren’t warranted.

“We were concerned, extremely worried really, about what would happen if things went the wrong way,” he said. “We had a few bumps, but in all, it’s been positive.”

Janina Cupp added that the City of Chelsea has been wonderful in the transition and the build out. Had it not been for the cooperation, she said, it would have been much more difficult.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was glad to have the Exchange in Chelsea.

“We always try to be accommodating,” he said. “We are certainly happy to have them there. We certainly didn’t want that building to remain vacant.”

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Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount of Washington Park Florists said having the New England Flower Exchange in Chelsea has made life much easier for her business, especially this week on Valentine’s Day. The Exchange moved to Chelsea last March from Boston’s South End after 50 years in that location. It was the first Valentine’s Day rush at the new facility for the wholesalers and their many customers from all over New England.

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Chelsea Florist Valerie LaCount talks over her order while Chris Birch of Cupp & Cupp Corp. wraps up a Valentine order.

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On Valentine’s Day in the New England Flower Exchange, Everett native Paula Parziale of Berkeley Floral Supply said it’s one week of chaos and careful preparation. The new Exchange celebrated its first Valentine’s Day in its new location on Second Street. The Exchange moved last year from its long-time headquarters in Boston’s South End.

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At the New England Flower Exchange on Second Street, MaryEllen Crowley of Berkeley Floral Supply wraps up an order from a customer. The Exchange was operating seven days a week for the past several days to keep up with wholesale flower orders for Valentine’s Day.

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A wall of red roses lined just about every stall at the market on Monday. It was the last big wholesale buying day for florists all around New England.

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Some nine wholesalers at the New England Flower Exchange on the Chelsea/Everett line celebrated their first Valentine’s Day in the new location this week.

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Janina Cupp, market manager, said they move from Boston’s South End to the Chelsea/Everett line has been very positive, despite initial concerns from many wholesalers.

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Elgreen Orchids owner Jeff Kim said as a specialist, the move has been hard on his business, but things are starting to turnaround. The new facility is much easier for keeping his colorful orchids though.

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Appreciation:Donald Robinson Was a True Chelsea Sports Great

Appreciation:Donald Robinson Was a True Chelsea Sports Great

They would often discuss at family gatherings who was the better all-around athlete, the uncle, Donald Curtis Robinson, or the nephew, Reggie Wilkerson.

Donald Curtis Robinson

Donald Curtis Robinson

Donald was a three-sport standout and All-Star running back for the Red Devils in the 1960s. Reggie was an All-Scholastic quarterback and talented hoopster in the late 1980s.

Donald’s teams twice beat archrival Everett High on Thanksgiving. Reggie led Chelsea to within one victory of a berth in the Super Bowl.

The issue was never resolved but it made for good, healthy laughter among family members young and old. This week Reggie spoke about his beloved uncle Donald and the wonderful example he set for the entire family at the memorial observance.

Mr. Robinson died on Feb. 6 at the age of 68. He was a member of the Chelsea High School Class of 1967.

Donald was not only a star athlete who achieved on the field but a fine student who went on to earn his degree from Northeastern University and enjoy a successful career working for Digital and US West.

Teammates have great memories of the young, humble Donald Robinson who had a magnetic personality and let his actions speak for themselves on the playing field.  His talents at the Carter School were known throughout the city even before he first put on the CHS football uniform in 1964.

Dr. Howard Glazer, the quarterback of the 1966 Red Devil team that defeated Everett, 23-8, in the final game of their CHS football careers, remembered his teammate “as a truly wonderful human being.”

“I am terribly saddened by the passing of Donald Robinson, my classmate and sensational football teammate,” said Glazer. “Robbie,” as I affectionately called him, was a great two-way football player.”

Glazer said Robinson was a gifted defensive back and a speedy halfback who could both run and catch with the best.

“Donald was one of the best two-way football players that I had the privilege of playing with at CHS,” said Glazer. “Donald was a true star on the field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate and a truly wonderful human being.”

Glazer remembers Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 23, 1966, when Chelsea stunned heavily favored Everett.

“That was the highlight of both our careers,” said Glazer. “In the first we ran a play that we had perfected during the season. It was a screen pass to Donald in the right flank. With great blocking in front of him, Donald ran 70 yards for a touchdown, with the 12,000 fans at Chelsea Memorial Stadium all on their feet going crazy!

“To this day, I can visualize Donald running with his great speed and cutting ability to avoid defender the entire run after the catch,” added Glazer.

The Robinson brothers, Latimer Society Co-Director Ronald Robinson, and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, competed on CHS teams with Donald and on Williams School teams against Donald, who attended Carter School. Donald’s younger brother, Jimmy, would later star on the basketball court at Carter School.

“Before we got to Chelsea High, I remember Donald being a phenomenal athlete,” said Ronald. “It was so heartwarming to here Reggie talk about his uncle at the funeral service and his athletic prowess. Reggie said he used to tell his uncle he was better, but the reality was Reggie was a great athlete, but Donald was special.”

Donald was not a large man by football playing standards, but he had speed to burn and seemed to understand football, according to Ronald.

Donald went on to play at Northeastern University but what Ronald the most about the former Red Devil great was how he used athletics to gain an education and make a path toward a successful life.

“Donald used sports as a way to receive a great college education and make a life for himself and I think he did that,” said Donald. “Donald married a local woman and they had a daughter, who was a beautiful person and pursued higher education with the passion that he did.”

Ronald said many of his teammates paid tribute to Donald Robinson this week.

“So many of our teammates, like Kenny Lava and Dale Johnson, and others said farewell to a great man who set a terrific example for his family,” said Ronald.

Leo Robinson was also profuse in his praise and admiration for Donald Robinson.

“He was just a wonderful person who touched so many people in a positive way,” said Leo. “He had a close-knit family who took great pride in his accomplishments and his success.”

The councillor-at-large said he will call for a moment of silent tribute for Donald Robinson at the next meeting of the Chelsea City Council.

“Chelsea has lost a true sports legend,” said Leo Robinson.

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Bicycle Laundry Looking to Locate on Willow Street

Bicycle Laundry Looking to Locate on Willow Street

A commercial laundry that uses bicycles to pick up and deliver linens is looking to locate in the commercial/industrial property on Willow and Congress Streets.

Wash Cycle Laundry, a company founded in Philadelphia that has delivered millions of pounds of laundry and pioneered the bicycle laundry, wants to locate its Boston area operations in Chelsea. They were before the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on Tuesday night, and will go before the Planning Board later in the month. In April, the City changed the zoning regulations in the Willow Street area to allow them to consider the property.

Gabriel Mandujano, the founder of the company, said they are coming right now to service the hotels exclusively in Chelsea, and would be using a new, advanced style of tricycle to pick up and deliver laundry throughout the city.

“We leased a portion of the building and are concentrating our efforts on the hotel market,” he said. “Colwen Hotels signed an agreement to bring us to Chelsea. We’re going to be their laundry contractor. The idea is they have a lot of properties in Chelsea, but they have a large portfolio all over Boston too. This will bring those jobs to Chelsea.”

He said they hope to run two shifts seven days a week, and would employ a total of 75 people.

“We are a sustainable company,” he said. “We do  a lot of environmental and energy savings in the plant. We are founded in Philadelphia and pioneered bicycle delivery laundry. We delivered millions and millions of pounds of laundry in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. We are though practically sustainable and not religiously sustainable, so the chiefly concerned about safety.”

He said that would mean that they would deliver by bike in the Chelsea area, but use vans and trucks to get to Boston and other far off areas.

He said after they get their feet under them, if approved to come, they hoped to begin doing work for other businesses in Chelsea that have a need for a commercial laundry.

He said they would be using a special tricycle cargo bike in Chelsea that has been piloted by the UPS delivery company in Portland. He said they took a trip recently to Portland to test it out and liked what they saw.

“We’re fairly confident that would be the vehicle we would use if we come to Chelsea,” he said. “Philadelphia is completely flat, so we need something here with a little more power.”

He added they are a second chance company, and hope to partner with non-profits in the area to employ at-risk and court-involved residents who need a break. Many of their current employees have a history of homelessness or incarceration, he said.

“That’s one of the main reasons I founded the company,” he said.

If allowed to locate on Willow Street, Mandujano said they could have the build out done in about 30 days.

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City Council, Quiet Man Spar Over Meeting to Discuss Community Center

City Council, Quiet Man Spar Over Meeting to Discuss Community Center

A proposal by former heavyweight boxing champ, and Chelsea native, John ‘The Quietman’ Ruiz has sparked major controversy over the past week in the follow-up to a preliminary meeting on the issue Feb. 6.

The meeting on Feb. 6 was a preliminary presentation to the City Council by Quietman Sports, which included Ruiz and his Business Manager Mark Giblin, in a Committee on Conference.

During the meeting, the presentation included a preliminary written proposal that called for using the CCC Club in Bellingham Square to create a new youth athletic and education center. The CCC Club folded last year and was sold to Chelsea’s Jim D’Amico – who is refurbishing apartments above the old club. The City had bid on the building as well to establish a youth center in the downtown, but did not win the bid. In the aftermath, the City and D’Amico agreed that they could possibly partner with a non-profit to establish the center in the D’Amico building.

Since that verbal agreement, no one had really come along, until Ruiz floated the initial idea of putting a center there using his name. He has opened similar boxing clubs in Medford in the past. The effort, he indicated, was a move to give back to the City he grew up in and to help many youth who are straying from the right path.

“Mr. Ruiz and his team…know what it takes to overcome the same obstacles Chelsea youth face,” read the proposal. “Maybe by sharing their personal success stories, providing scientific and historic educational programs, and athletic programs, it can make a difference. In the least, Quietman Sports hopes their influence can prevent tragedies such as the March 2016 incident in Chelsea where a 19-year old was gunned down and several other teenagers injured by another 16 year old at an empty apartment. Stories such as this are unnecessary and preventable. The community must act soon or by failing to do so will affect Chelsea for generations to come.”

One of the other stipulations was that the City would provide a $475,000 grant to Quietman Sports over three years to help launch the programming. Quietman Sports would put up $195,171 and would fundraise $75,000.

City Councilors were lukewarm to the idea, though, asking many questions about the expenditure and if the venture had coordinated with existing programs like the Explorers Post 109 and other activities.

Council President Damali Vidot, Judith Garcia and others asked a lot of questions.

In all, the welcome wasn’t as warm as Ruiz seemed to expect.

After the meeting, he attacked Vidot in a post on Instagram, and she said she was highly offended by it.

“In my thoughts I assumed they would welcome my intension to give back to my hometown that I love, but it became a backlash from Council President Damali Vidot,” Ruiz posted. “Council President Damali Vidot comments ‘why do we need your help; you don’t liver here’ and her resistance threw me back. It’s a sad moment when a City representative especially the Council President who should lead by example is taking a stance against anyone trying to extend a hand and who has it slapped away…Call Council President Damali Vidot to leave her power hungry attitude at home and embrace anyone who is willing to help my city that I love.”

Vidot, in an op-ed in today’s paper, said the matter needed clarity. She said Ruiz misrepresented what she said.

“Let’s be clear that the City Council does not decide whether we grant Mr. Ruiz funds for his proposal,” she wrote. “That decision-making process rests solely with the City Manager. The City Council as a body then votes on the appropriation of requested funds in which I am 1/11th of the vote. Unfortunately, following the meeting, Mr. Ruiz chose to turn to social media and misrepresent my comments. At that moment it became clear to me that residents deserved more clarity around the facts as to how things transpired.”

She said anyone who is proposing to work with children should be a better example – not taking to social media to complain when they don’t get their way.

“As a longtime boxing fan of Puerto Rican roots, I was ecstatic to meet the first Latino heavyweight boxer of the world,” she wrote. “However, my fandom doesn’t equate to disregarding my role as a public servant…As a longtime youth worker, I am appalled that someone who is proposing to manage a youth center would not look for better ways to demonstrate leadership. I cannot take responsibility for the ill-advice given to Mr. Ruiz prior to the meeting; I did however encourage dialogue and identified ways in which Mr. Ruiz could seek out community input.”

Giblin did not return an e-mail immediately to the Record asking for comment.

Councillor Leo Robinson, who helped Ruiz in bringing the proposal by filing an order to have the meeting, said he wasn’t happy with the champ’s reception.

“It wasn’t professional,” he said of his fellow councillors. “You don’t treat people like that.”

Councillor Giovanni Recupero said he isn’t opposed to the center, but he would like to see it be for everyone, not just the youth.

Meanwhile, City Manager Tom Ambrosino said the proposal was extremely preliminary. He said the City would have to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) before anyone could even begin talking seriously. Any proposal would have to officially apply to an RFP.

“We’re a long way from anything being there yet,” he said. “I actually have an interest in having youth programming in the downtown and the CCC is a great facility for that. I’m interested in the idea. I would first need direction from the Council for putting out an RFP. I don’t have that. I would say we’re very early in the process.”

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Police Briefs 02-15-2018

Police Briefs 02-15-2018

OPERATING UNDER THE INFLUENCE

On Jan. 31, at 4:43 a.m., officers were dispatched to the area of Bellingham Square for an erratic operator. The caller stated that it was a black Lexus swerving on Hawthorne Street heading towards Bellingham Square. Officers noticed a black Lexus operating on Broadway without the lights on. The vehicle took a left turn into Cross Street where it was stopped. Officers performed a field sobriety test and based on that exam placed the party under arrest for OUI.

Helen Correa, 47, of Ashland, was charged with OUI Liquor, motor vehicle lights violation and possession of an open container of alcohol.

GESTURES IN COURT

On Feb. 1, at 9:45 a.m., officers responded to Chelsea District Court for a report of Witness Intimidation. Officers were met by the reporting party who stated while awaiting a hearing for an ongoing case, the subject of that case made gestures and remarks while awaiting the proceeding to begin. The subject was placed under arrest.

Wayne Giangregorio, 55, of East Boston, was charged with intimidation of a witness.

ASLEEP BEHIND THE WHEEL

On Feb. 2 at 5:48 p.m., Chelsea Police responded to a report of motor vehicles being struck by a white box truck traveling down Washington Avenue towards Fay Square. The white box truck was observed by officers parked in the area of 63 Washington Ave. The operator was observed asleep behind the wheel. After further investigation, the male was placed into custody for OUI. During the booking process, five baggies of Heroin were located on his person.

John Williamson, 59, of Malden, was charged with operating under the influence of drugs, leaving the scene of property damage, failing to wear a seatbelt and possession of a Class A drug.

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

On Feb. 5, at 2:16 a.m., a Chelsea Police officer observed an oncoming vehicle without his headlights on. The officer tried to get the operator’s attention and proceeded to follow the vehicle. The officer observed erratic operation and pulled the vehicle over. After a conversation with the operator, the officer formed the opinion that the driver was operating under the influence of alcohol and placed him under arrest.

It was the driver’s fifth offense for drunk driving.

Manrique Martinez, 47, of 250 Clark Ave., was charged with operating under the influence of alcohol (5th offense) and reckless endangerment to children.

Police Log

Monday, 1/29

Jose Rivera, 32, 11 Congress Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Alberto Garcia, 50, 303 Carter St., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.

Wednesday, 1/31

Helen Correa, 47, 280 Main ST., Ashland, MA, was arrested for lights violation, possessing open container in motor vehicle.

Thursday, 2/1

Wayne Giangregorio, 55, 12 A Seaver St., East Boston, was arrested for witness intimidation.

Glenn Kerivan, 58, 171 Old Cambridge Rd., Woburn, was arrested for shoplifting.

Lawrence Polidor, 20, 41 Woodville St., Everett, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle.

Friday, 2/2

John Williamson, 59, 33 Maple St., Malden, was arrested for operating under the influence of drugs, leaving scene of property damage, failure to wear seat belt and Possessing Class A drug.

Santos Ventura, 47, 24 Malden ST.,  Everett, was arrested for incapacitated person and on a warrant.

Saturday, 2/3

Manuel Escobar, 20, 45 Addision St., Chelsea, was arrested on warrants and not in possession of license after accident.

Sunday, 2/4

Manrique Martinez, 47, 250 Clark Ave., Chelsea, was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor (5th offense) and Reckless endangerment to Children.

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Chelsea Homeless Census

Chelsea Homeless Census

CHEL_20180208_A1

On Feb. 1, Bill Zanparelli examines an abandoned car, found during Homeless Census Canvas “Project Opening Door” in Parking lot in Chelsea, MA. The car has broken windows and all windows are cardboarded with 2 flat tires. The volunteers suspect that it must have been used as a shelter by someone who does not have a permanent home.

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Garcia Selected as Political Surrogate for Senator Elizabeth Warren

Garcia Selected as Political Surrogate for Senator Elizabeth Warren

Chelsea City Councilor Judith Garcia announced that she has been selected as a political surrogate on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s reelection campaign, chosen from a sprawling list of notable political figures in the state.

Councilor Judith Garcia.

Councilor Judith Garcia.

The 26-year-old, now in her second term, kicked off her efforts to reelect Sen. Warren at the Chelsea Public Library during this past Saturday’s caucus, where Garcia served as a spokesperson for the campaign.

“Senator Warren has remained committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our community, rebuilding economic security for our working families, and making a difference in our state,” Garcia said.

“During the last six years, Elizabeth has been a devoted leader who remains connected to our residents and the issues that affect us,” continued Garcia. “She pushed for the permanent extension of Earned Income and Child Tax Credits helping to keep 250,000 Massachusetts residents and more than 100,000 children out of poverty. Her values and morals are where they need to be.”

Councilor Garcia is a native of Chelsea, who grew up in a proud Spanish-speaking household. As the City Councilor of District 5, she is the first Honduran American woman to serve on the Chelsea City Council, as well as the youngest current member. Now, Judith dedicates her time to creating government that truly represents and works for its people.

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Dockless Bike Sharing Program Finds Success Here

Dockless Bike Sharing Program Finds Success Here

ofo, the world’s first and largest station-free bike-sharing company, has been popular among Chelsea residents and has big plans to expand its presences in the area, according to company representatives.

ofo operated pilot programs in four Boston area cities, including Chelsea, from September to December 2017, and looks forward to building on those programs and further expanding in the coming months.

In Chelsea, as across the Greater Boston area, ofo has hired a local team, including experienced fleet managers and mechanics who together have more than 30 years of experience in the local bike industry.

“I was thoroughly impressed with the ofo pilot program as company officials were very responsive from start to finish,” said Councilor at-Large Roy Avellaneda. “As an advocate for eco-friendly and improved public transportation for Chelsea, I was thrilled to be able to have the city offer a bike sharing program to Chelsea residents. The amount of positive feedback from users and the usage data provided by ofo at the end proved two things: 1. That a bike sharing program is needed in Chelsea; 2. There is much room for growth and use in our community.”

The company has worked closely with local city officials to ensure smooth operations leading up to and through launch, and will continue its collaboration to help improve urban travel and ensure all corners of the city have access to this new affordable and convenient way to get around. ofo has also sponsored local events, such as Chelsea’s bike-marathon.

“Collaborating with local officials to bring this affordable, convenient and green transportation option to Chelsea has been a great experience,” said Head of ofo U.S., Chris Taylor. “Thank you to the residents who’ve welcomed us into the community. We look forward to continuing this partnership, growing our business and offering more bikes to folks throughout the Boston area this year.”

ofo currently operates in more than 20 cities across the U.S. and more than 250 cities worldwide. Since ofo’s launch in the greater Boston area in September, users have taken more than 35,000 trips and traveled nearly 70,000 miles.

ofo’s founders pioneered the concept of station-free bike sharing, which eliminated the inconvenience of docking stations and their expense to city taxpayers. The bikes can be parked anywhere and cost only $1 per hour.

To get started, Chelsea residents can download the ofo app available for iOS and Android. The app helps users find a nearby bike via GPS and unlock it by scanning a QR code. Once a ride is complete, locking the bike ends the trip automatically and the user will receive a digital receipt and map of their route.

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Chelsea Public Library Holds NASA@ My Library Community Dialogue

Chelsea Public Library Holds NASA@ My Library Community Dialogue

The Chelsea Public Library (CPL) held a NASA@ My Library Community Dialogue on Jan. 31, to discuss the community’s view of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). City leaders, library and school administration, high school students, and parents participated in the casual conversation to plan programming that will positively impact the entire city and inspire a passion for STEM learning among residents.

“We should try to build bridges between what’s happening in schools and formal education, and what’s happening in the community as we develop and grow,” said Lisa Santagate, Chelsea Public Schools/Chelsea Public Library trustee. “Science pervades our lives. STEM is everywhere and all connected.”

The Chelsea Public Library is one of 75 libraries across the country that was awarded the NASA@ My Library Grant, funded by NASA and the American Library Association. The initiative collaborates with libraries to increase and enhance STEM learning opportunities and activities.

“The main focus of this grant is to help underserved groups — especially youth – find more resources within STEM, and have more models for STEM careers,” said Martha Boksenbaum, CPL children’s librarian. “Often, women and people of color are underrepresented.”

Since May 2017, CPL has hosted a solar eclipse viewing party on City Hall lawn, offered a science café for adults, and presented a series of Tinker Time Workshops for children to explore scientific instruments such as a green screen and inferred thermometers.

Some panelists explained that, while there are elementary school events and an abundance of library programs for children, teenagers are an underserved population. Members of the community suggested increasing connections to the schools and library, and creating a more inviting atmosphere for young adults.

“In school there are a lot of classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering, but it’s usually announced to the younger kids, and I think that’s great. The younger you are when you learn about science, the more you love it,” said Stephanie Alvarado, Chelsea High School senior. “We do tree mapping and water quality testing. That’s how I’m able to connect with STEM, but not the community as a whole.”

One of the main concerns mentioned during the community gathering was outreach to local STEM professionals that Chelsea residents could better relate to.

“A struggle I am experiencing in implementing this grant is showing examples of role models. I would like to represent people of color and women, but when I reach out, they are overwhelmingly not a representation of the majority of people here in the community,” explained Boksenbaum. “If the kids are learning that somebody next door is in a STEM field and looks like them, then they’re going to feel like that’s something they can do as well.”

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Gertrude Bial, Longtime Chelsea Resident, Dies at the Age of 94

Gertrude Bial, Longtime Chelsea Resident, Dies at the Age of 94

Gertrude (Florence) Bial of Delray Beach, Florida, formerly of Chelsea, entered into rest on Jan. 30, 2018. She was 94 years old.

Gertrude (Florence) Bial.

Gertrude (Florence) Bial.

Born in Chelsea, Mrs. Bial was the daughter of the late Myer Israel and the late Fannie (Raisman) Florence.

She graduated from Chelsea High School Class of 1941 and later attended Fisher College and Secretarial School.

During WWII, she worked as a volunteer at the Naval Ship Yard.

She was president of B’nai Brith in Chelsea, executive secretary at American Biltrite Corporation and co-owner of the Bial Upholstery Company in Boston, with her late husband, Norman Bial.

She is the devoted mother of Louis C. Bial and his late wife Deborah, Roberta Pinta and her late husband Howard, and Scott N. Bial and his wife Lisa, the cherished grandmother of Dr. Erica Bial and her husband Todd Chapin, Lauren Bial Sch­neider and her husband Eric, Matthew Bial and his wife Dr. Wendy Glaberson, Jennifer Pinta, Natalie Pinta and her husband Kevin Gonsalves, Adam J. Bial, Jason R. Bial, Jack F. Bial and Julia A. Bial, and great grandmother of Jacob, Nehemiah and Dayne Schneider and Jordan Bial. Loving sister of David Flor­ence, Rosalie Cohen and the late Sylvia Sazinsky, Bernard Florence, Dr. Lewis Florence, Dr. Hyman Florence and Leonard Florence.

Funeral services will be held at Stanetsky Memorial Chapel, Canton, on Friday, February 2, 2018.

Expressions of sym­pathy in her memory may be donated to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, www.themmrf.org, or Autism Speaks, www.autismspeaks.org/site/donation.

Mrs. Bial was a homemaker, a wonderful friend, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She will be greatly missed.

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