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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Major Recycler Cheering Plastic Bag Bans, Including Chelsea’s Potential One

Major Recycler Cheering Plastic Bag Bans, Including Chelsea’s Potential One

One of the largest recycling plants in the nation, Casella Waste in Charlestown, is hailing the recent spate of plastic bag bans in the area, including the discussions happening right now in Chelsea about a potential ban.

Casella handles about 200,000 tons of recycling per year and is the number one plant in Greater Boston – and a top five plant in the U.S. They handle all of the recycling for Chelsea, but one thing they hope is that the City might follow Boston in banning plastic bags – known in the industry as Low Density Poly-Ethylene (LDPEs).

“By far, plastic bag getting into the facility are the number one contaminants in single-stream recycling,” said Bob Cappadona of Casella. “By themselves, they are a very recyclable product. However, there just isn’t any market for the product. Second, with everything else, they get caught up in our machinery and cause us a lot of problems. If they come into our facility and get past our pre-sorters, they tend to get wrapped up in our disk screens and they wrap around them and cause stoppages.”

He said when bags get caught up in the disk screen machinery – which separates plastic jugs from paper/fibre products – the only way to remove them is the old fashioned way:  with a razor blade.

“There are so many that get in there that at lunch or at break time we have to keep two or three people there to clean the disk screens of plastic bags,” he said. “Every three or four hours we have to go in and clean it up.”

Cappadona said he doesn’t want to malign plastic bags because they are a good recycled product on their own, if people were to take them back to the grocery store as directed.

However, many people throw them in the recycling, many times because they don’t know. On its face, it looks like something that could be recycled in the traditional curbside barrels. However, it is one plastic item that isn’t accepted, but routinely gets in the stream.

In Chelsea, Russell Disposal picks up all the recycling on the curb, and from there, they take it to Casella on Rutherford Avenue, behind Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown.

Once there, that’s when problems come.

“They are a good recycling product on their own, but when they get here with everything else, they are a contaminant,” he said.

In terms of the ban that will go into effect in Boston, Cappadona said they aren’t really preparing, but they are excited about it. And they hope others might follow suit to make their recycling product purer.

The Chelsea City Council has been exploring the idea of a ban for the last month, with two meetings so far on the issue. While many are calling for a ban to prevent litter and for environmental reasons, businesses in the area are concerned about the increasing cost burden it will put on them to use alternative bags that are more expensive.

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Chelsea Black History Month Activities to Start Today, Feb 1

Chelsea Black History Month Activities to Start Today, Feb 1

Several Chelsea organizations are pulling together this year to sponsor an entire month’s-worth of events around Black History Month, and the events will kick off tonight, Feb. 1, at City Hall with a presentation on the Latimer Society.

“It’s a very, very well put together program and it’s put together by a collaborative effort of many folks and organizations,” said Joan Cromwell of the Chelsea Black Community (CBC). “A lot of us came together and we’ve scheduled a great program for February. It went well last year, but this year we wanted it to be even more exciting.”

Those involved include Salma Taylor and Bea Cravatta of the City, the Latimer Society, Bunker Hill Community College, CAPIC, Chelsea Cable, the People’s AME Church, City Manager Tom Ambrosino, the CBC, and many local residents.

Kicking things off will be Ron and Leo Robinson of the Latimer Society.

Other highlights include a Taste of Culture Cook-Off on Feb. 19 at La Luz de Cristo at 738 Broadway.

There will also be an intergenerational open mic night, an art exhibit, and an evening of performing arts.

Cromwell said at the end of the month, they will have a celebration at the Williams School.

Within that, they will present eight Trailblazer Awards. Those receiving awards will be:

  • John Lee, martial arts Hall of Fame
  • Joanne Lee-Nieves, educator
  • Sharon Caulfield, dean Bunker Hill
  • Daniel Cruz, Cruz Construction
  • Shaquor Sandiford, Village Talks
  • Eastern Salt
  • Gerry McCue, Chelsea Public Schools
  • Betty Boyd, Chelsea High retiree

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Late Jazz Artist Fundraising Show to Close Down Spencer Gallery

Late Jazz Artist Fundraising Show to Close Down Spencer Gallery

By Seth Daniel

The late Victor Bailey, a world-renowned jazz musician and painter, will be honored on Dec. 9 at the final show in the Spencer Lofts Gallery. Bailey was a resident of the Lofts for about two years before passing last year.

The late Victor Bailey, a world-renowned jazz musician and painter, will be honored on Dec. 9 at the final show in the Spencer
Lofts Gallery. Bailey was a resident of the Lofts for about two years before passing last year.

It’s only appropriate that Victor Bailey would close down the Spencer Lofts Gallery.

The world-famous jazz musician, who passed away last year from complications related to MS/ALS, once lived at the Spencer Lofts while working as a bass professor at Berklee College of Music. After taking up art as well as music, he had a great collection of works that were expertly shown in the gallery when it re-opened two years ago. It drew a major crowd and was a highlight for the long-time gallery in the loft building.

“He passed away in November 2016 and lived here about two years ago,” said Dar DeVita, who coordinates the gallery and announced this week that Bailey’s fundraising show would be the last show there. “He was a lovely man and everyone got along great with him here. He was always so happy and loved it here. He really loved that people in the building knew him for his painting, and not just his jazz. After we had closed the first time, he was our re-opening show. Now, sadly, he will be our last show before we close again.”

The fundraiser will benefit Bailey’s estate through the proceeds from the many works that remain in his family’s possession. Bailey’s paintings will be on display in the gallery and will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Victor Bailey Estate and the Berklee College of Music.

The time will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 4-8 p.m. in the Gallery at Spencer Lofts. Parking is available on site.

Additionally, several of Bailey’s colleagues from Berklee will be on hand to play live jazz music throughout the evening – which will be a tribute to not only his music prowess, but also his artistic abilities.

Born into a music family in Philadelphia in 1960, Bailey attended Berklee and launched a hugely successful jazz career, while also writing many well-known R&B songs for major artists.

An accomplished bassist, Bailey was an Associate Professor of Bass at Berklee College of Music. He performed and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Lady Gaga, Miriam Makeba, Madonna, Mary J. Blige and many others during his long, notable career. He also recorded with Chelsea’s own Chick Corea from time to time.

Bailey was the bassist in two of the most influential jazz-fusion groups: Weather Report (he replaced the legendary Jaco Pastorius) and Steps Ahead.

Bailey drew up upon his jazz career for inspiration in his art career.

DeVita said it will be a bittersweet evening for the Gallery though, as it is closing down for good. Though many Chelsea residents have treasured its contributions to the arts scene in the city, DeVita said many of the residents in the building are not interested anymore.

“We are closing it down,” she said. “I’ve resigned as of Jan. 1 and there is no one taking over. The building doesn’t understand the value of the gallery and my time is up. I’m hoping the show will spark some interest in someone to take over. Maybe it will be a person in the building that will see the value of this and want to keep it going. If not, it will just close.”

The Gallery was a coup for Chelsea when the lofts were built more than a decade ago, one of the few arts locales in the City.

Reception and admission to the Gallery are free and open to the public. The Victor Bailey Exhibit runs through December 31, 2017. Gallery hours by appointment.

Accessible parking is available, as is on-street parking.

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Trump Sends DACA to Congress, Hundreds in Chelsea Vulnerable

Trump Sends DACA to Congress, Hundreds in Chelsea Vulnerable

By Seth Daniel

Hundreds of young people and families in Chelsea were put on edge Tuesday when President Donald Trump announced he would end the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – though with the caveat of keeping it intact for six months to allow Congress to attempt to enact a law.

The DACA program prevents the deportation of people brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were under the age of 16. When President Barack Obama initiated it in 2012 via executive order, it allowed young people to do things they had not been able to do previously, like getting student loans, working legally and qualify for other programs. Anyone with a criminal record, however, was barred from qualifying for the program.

Now, all of that is up in the air for many people.

Joana (whose last name is shielded) is a freshman at Northeast Voke and a resident of Chelsea who said she has family and friends who are now in flux due to the decision – as well as the uncertainty as to whether Congress will act in the next six months.

“I feel like it wasn’t a very thoughtful decision because most of the kids in Chelsea are from other countries,” she said, noting that she has family who are in the DACA program. “It feels scary because you don’t know what is going to happen to a loved one. It’s a wait and see situation and something bad could happen in seconds, minutes, hours, months or even years…I find it all very pointless because families are scared and they tried everything in their power to bring their children here and all the sudden that opportunity they found so hard for is going away. They have sacrificed everything to get kids here and now that opportunity could end.”

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he was discouraged by the decision also, knowing that hundreds of Chelsea residents are enrolled in DACA and now find themselves in limbo as they wait to see if Congress will do anything.

“It is incredibly discouraging that our President is prepared to terminate a program that has been so beneficial and meaningful to childhood arrivals, many of whom have no knowledge of nor connection to their native land,” he said. “I’m hopeful that Congress will act quickly to remedy this unnecessary and heartless executive action.”

Supt. Mary Bourque said she has put out letters to parents and students, as well as guidance to staff and teachers about how to handle the anxiety around the decision, which affects so many Chelsea students and their families.

“Many of our students and their family members are DACA immigrants consistently contributing to our community and therefore our country,” she wrote. “We support our students and their dream for a future in the United States. I want to reaffirm to our Chelsea Schools community that the Chelsea Public Schools is committed to our mission statement, ‘We Welcome and Educate ALL Students and Families.’”

Bourque also affirmed to all parents that the schools are safe havens from immigration enforcement if, indeed, the program ends after six months.

“Our schools have been deemed by our Chelsea School Committee as Safe Havens for all students to learn and thrive,” she wrote. “It is through education that the doors of opportunity are opened for all our students. We, as the Chelsea School Community will continue to advocate for and support our students and their families as they embrace the American Dream through education. We will work on behalf of our students and families alongside our community based organizations and legislators in the coming weeks and months.”

Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger also reaffirmed a similar viewpoint in a letter signed by all of the state’s community college presidents.

“Those with DACA status attend and graduate from our K-12 schools and benefit from the ability to attend excellent post-secondary education in order to bring the skills and credentials needed in our workforce today,” read the letter. “Individuals with DACA status live in our communities, pay taxes, and are ready and willing to continue to positively contribute to our local economies and communities. Ending DACA and subjecting these individuals to deportation not only contradicts our shared values and the inherent principles in our educational missions, but also threatens the economic well being of our region, state, and country.

“We remain committed to meeting the needs of every person who walks through our doors looking to learn and achieve, regardless of their immigration status,” it continued. “We stand together to fight for the continued protection of all the young people with and eligible for DACA.”

The Trump decision did allow for anyone with a DACA permit expiring between now and March 5, 2018 to re-apply for another two-year renewal – giving protection through 2019. The application for renewal must be submitted by Oct. 5, 2017.

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Congratulations Alejandrina

Congratulations Alejandrina

CHEL_20170831_A1

Mrs. Alejandrina Rodriguez, a long-standing Chelsea resident and community activist, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Multidisciplinary Studies degree from Cambridge College recently.Her family wished her well and said they are very proud of her achievement. “I am so grateful to have such a blessing in my mother,” said the family. “She has been a role model for so many people in her community, including myself. It is to admire how she has achieved all these goals. Because of her, I am who she wants me to be, an educator. I have seen her work all these years, working day and night, striving to get to her classes after work, getting home late at night. She is unstoppable. She deserves the degree that she has obtained with all her effort. My mother is #1.”

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Superintendent says This Year Will Be About ‘Leadership for Social Justice’

Superintendent says This Year Will Be About ‘Leadership for Social Justice’

By Seth Daniel

Supt. Mary Bourque called on faculty and staff from around the district at her annual breakfast on Monday, Aug. 28, to lead students, families and the district to social justice.

“We are a district committed to ongoing improvement on behalf of our students and as such we have four schools implementing Turnaround Plans this year and five schools implementing Accelerated Improvement Plans,” she said. “We believe we can do better for our students and these plans are a reflection of where we will work to do a better job in the coming year. This is social justice… Our profession of education is one of leadership and service—service to young people and service to the next generation. Our work is about building the future. Our profession of ‘urban’ education is one of social justice. We open the doors of opportunity for our students.”

Her comments come one year after unveiling a new five-year plan for the district at last year’s breakfast.

A good  part of her speech detailed some of the goals that have been met.

One major accomplishment laid out last year was the ability to get computers in the hands of students and to use them to focus on the new trend of student-centered learning. This year, she said a major part of that goal of getting computers – or one-to-one technology – has been accomplished.

“We expanded our technology initiative and proudly boast that we now have one-to-one devices in grades 2-12,” said Bourque.

Other initiatives achieved and pointed out in the plan included:

  • We expanded our Caminos dual enrollment program at the ELC and will continue to expand annually.
  • We continue to build the internal and external pipelines and career ladders for future teachers and administrators with our partnerships with Lesley, Endicott, and Harvard Colleges to name a few.
  • At Chelsea High School (CHS) the district successfully initiated the biliteracy credential and 11 graduating seniors received the award upon graduation in June.
  • At CHS, Advance Placement scores show a 4 percent increase in qualifying scores of 3, 4, or 5 from 32 percent last year to 36 percent of AP tests administered this year.

Another major achievement she pointed out was the growth in the dual enrollment program with Bunker Hill Community College.

She said in 2017, CHS graduates earned 1,162 college credits equaling 385 courses during their years at CHS and while working on their high school diploma.

“That was a savings of over $200,000 on college tuition and fees and over $50,000 on books,” she said. “Does anyone doubt that we will be offering a pathway for students to complete their Associate’s Degree at the same time they are receiving their high school diploma from Chelsea High by June 30, 2021? Let us be the first high school in the State to offer this pathway.”

Going back to her theme of social justice, Bourque said the times are very uncertain, and with teachers and staff in the Chelsea Schools leading on a social justice mission, they are also leading in accordance with the district’s mission.

“Our foundational beliefs center around our mission statement:  ‘We welcome and educate ALL students,’” she said.  “This is social justice in action, to welcome and educate– inclusive of all– to seek equity in educational opportunities for career and college success for each and every student…

“As a school system, our goal remains to ensure all of our students graduate with the skills, confidence, and habits of mind they need to be successful in college, career, and life,” she continued. “We have no misplaced compassion for our students. We hold them to the same standards of excellence as all other students in our State of Massachusetts are held to. This is Chelsea Public Schools’ social justice.”

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Enjoy A Safe Labor Day Weekend

Enjoy A Safe Labor Day Weekend

It may be hard to believe, but the summer of 2017 is entering its final week as we approach the traditional Labor Day weekend.

“Time and tide wait for no man,” said the poet. The calendar never lies and soon the summer of ‘17 will be just a memory. The college kids already have returned and many of our public schools already have opened this week.

Although it would be nice if the temperatures were just a bit warmer, none of us really can complain about the gorgeous weather we have been enjoying these past two weeks, with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the 70s and low 80s. And with ocean water temperatures locally in the 65-degree range, conditions have been ideal for a swim or a quick dip after work.

With the summer season winding down to just a few precious days, we fully understand the sentiments of those who might express the refrain, “If this is the last, let’s make it a blast.”

We certainly do not wish to rain on anyone’s parade, so to speak, but we would be remiss if we did not urge our readers that if they intend to have a good time, they should do so safely, both for themselves and their loved ones.

Excessive drinking does not mix with anything — whether it be boating, driving, water sports, hiking, bicycling, or just about any activity that requires some degree of coordination and observance of the rules of safety.

The newspapers and news reports will be full of tragic stories over the weekend of those who died or were seriously injured in accidents that could have been avoided had excessive drinking not been involved. We must do our part to ensure that none of our loved ones — let alone ourselves — are among those inevitable sad statistics.

We wish all of our readers a happy — and safe — Labor Day weekend.

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Open Seats Heat Up District Council Races

Open Seats Heat Up District Council Races

By Seth Daniel

Candidates are lining up for what looks to be a very competitive City Election season this fall, especially in Districts 1 and 8 where long-time councillors announced this summer that they wouldn’t seek re-election.

The hotbed of the activity right now is in Prattville, where several well known candidates are seeking the seat vacating by Councillor Paul Murphy.

District 1 is the most active voting area in most municipal elections and so every vote will make a difference in what looks to be a very close race with very qualified candidates.

Four candidates have pulled papers as of this week, including former City Clerk Bob Bishop, School Committeeman Shawn O’Regan, Planning Board member Todd Taylor and Collaborative activist Sylvia Ramirez.

All are well known in the City and carry heavy constituencies at the outset.

However, as of Wednesday, none of the four candidates had been certified for the ballot.

The last day to turn in signed and completed nomination papers is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. – so candidates have a little under two weeks to qualify.

The other hot district with an open seat is District 8, long dominated by Admiral’s Hill. Councillor Dan Cortell will not run for re-election this time, so many candidates are also in contention.

Already, newcomer Zaida Ismatul Oliva of Winnisimmet Street has qualified for the ballot and will be in contention for the seat.

Ismatul Oliva works for Bunker Hill Community College and is a life-long resident of the city.

Others pulling papers qualifying are long-time former Councillor Calvin Brown, who previously was an at-large councillor before losing out in the last election cycle. Interestingly, though, Brown has also pulled papers for at-large Council, but having qualified for District 8, it’s not likely he will also seek an at-large seat.

Long-time resident Lad Dell of Breakwater Drive has pulled papers, as has Jermaine Williams of Admiral’s Way.

In the last go-around in the City Election, there was plenty of action for the three at-large seats, but that isn’t the case so far this time.

All three incumbents, Councillors Roy Avellaneda, Leo Robinson and Damali Vidot have pulled papers and qualified for the ballot. At the moment, they have no competition.

In District 7, a spirited race looks to be coming between Councillor Yamir Rodriguez and License Commissioner Mark Rossi.

In District 5, challenger Henry Wilson has qualified for the ballot, and will likely face incumbent Councillor Judith Garcia – who has pulled papers but has not yet qualified for the ballot.

Garcia and Wilson faced one another in the last election as well, so a spirited re-match is expected.

In District 3, known as Mill Hill, former District 5 Councillor Joe Perlatonda – who has moved to Clinton Street – has qualified for the ballot and will likely challenge Councillor Matt Frank, who has not yet qualified but has pulled papers.

Frank and Perlatonda, when serving on the Council, had many sharp disagreements and are probably as far apart on the issues as any two people in the City. That said, it should be a spirited contest full of dichotomies.

In District 2, Olivia Ann Walsh of the Soldiers’ Home has qualified for the ballot and will likely face Councillor Luis Tejada, who has pulled papers.

In District 4 and District 6, incumbent Councillor Giovanni Recupero and Enio Lopez are the only ones to pull papers and both have qualified for the ballot as well.

The last date to submit completed papers, once again, is Aug. 8 at 5 p.m.

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City,Planners Unveil Initial Ideas for Re-Imagining Broadway

City,Planners Unveil Initial Ideas for Re-Imagining Broadway

By Seth Daniel

Consultants for the City unveiled two main concepts on Thursday night, July 13, for the Re-Imagining Broadway planning effort – concepts that consultants from Nelson Nygaard said were informed on several public listening sessions that have taken place since last fall.

The two plans focus on the area on Broadway from City Hall to Chelsea Square, and consultants have tried to formulate a plan the tried to untangle the circular and inefficient traffic motions that exist along Broadway.

Those include having to go all the way around the downtown and City Hall to simply get to Fifth Street, and also the unsignalized intersections along Broadway that causes drivers crossing the street to have to edge out and do a lot of guess work to get over.

Ralph DeNisco of Nelson Nygaard described such changes as allowing drivers to move from Hawthorne Street to Fifth Street through a signal without having to circle City Hall.

He talked about a large bump out plaza jutting out from the Dunkin’ Donuts and City Hall to allow for more public space and a shrinking of the large street there.

He talked about making City Hall Avenue a two-way street, doing road calming measures for shared streets in front of the Central Fire Station, in front of the Apollinaire Theatre on Winnisimmet Street, in front of the Police Station on Park Street, and also along Cherry Street. Shared streets have a variety of meanings, but in this case they would be marked in a way to slow traffic, and also promote pedestrian usage.

On one plan, the Broadway spine remains mostly the same configuration, but on the other plan the lanes are reduced in width to create a separated bike path along the street.

Another part of one of the plans reverses the direction of Sixth Street near City Hall from eastbound to westbound, which proved a bit unpopular amongst the crowd.

One major change would be to add signals along Broadway for cross traffic, including at Fourth Street, Third Street, Everett Avenue and Hawthorne/Fifth Street. The existing signal at City Hall in Bellingham Square would continue to exist.

DeNisco said the plan is to upgrade the function of the intersections, many of which are failing at the moment.

“We believe we can improve your traffic flow on Broadway significantly by making these improvements to the intersections,” he said.

The plan includes a major bus hub across from City Hall in front of the memorial. Another bus hub would exist next to the Dunkin’ Donuts on Washington Avenue. That would indicate a move of the bus hub from in front of the old Bunker Hill Community College on Hawthornee Street – something many have been asking for a long time.

One thing not addressed, but discussed in depth, was whether to return the Broadway spine to a two-way street. Currently it is one way going southbound, but many are considering it a good idea to look at two-way traffic – especially for the purpose of reducing the circular and inefficient traffic patterns. However, the street has been one-way for generations, and many don’t think the busy corridor could handle the change.

That piece of the puzzle has been left for discussion and contemplation before a final report is made.

Much of the meeting, however, was devoted to the parking inventory and study.

That was less heartening, with the consultants indicating that parking inventories are stressed, particularly in the morning and evening hours – often spilling into the neighborhoods.

“What we usually see is that parking gets easier the further you get away from the center of the business district,” he said. “We didn’t see that here. That isn’t happening in Chelsea. That’s very unique and different about this area. We don’t usually see that in our studies.”

Figuring out the parking puzzle, they said, might require more access to private parking facilities, and also more clearly labeling existing parking lots and their rules. Many lots, they said, were underutilized because people didn’t know about them.

Some relieve could also be found by utilizing space under the Mystic/Tobin Bridge only a few blocks from the center – perhaps for resident parking and thereby alleviating the residential parking on Broadway and its immediate streets.

The plan is currently available to residents for review, and DeNisco said one very unique thing is that this is plan that will happen. There is money behind the drawings, and the political will to make big changes.

“This is real,” he said. “It’s not a simple planning exercise. The City Manager and City Council have put money behind this effort and want it to change. The improvements we’re going to talk about are actually going to happen. That’s a different challenge for us, because these plans have to be able to be implemented.”

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