The pupusa is a curious delicacy – part
tortilla, part cheese – and full of ‘yum.’
In Chelsea, it is an art form and nearly a
dozen restaurants in the city have their own brand and take on the pupusa, and
this spring, the Chelsea Prospers initiative will hold a community party
dedicated for the art of the pupusa.
Mimi Graney and Edwardo Chacon unveiled the
idea on Feb. 6 during a meeting of the Chelsea Prospers committee, and said it
will be the opening salvo in a season that will include the recently-announced
Chelsea Night Market.
“We have been reaching out to all the local
restaurants, and we have seven on board so far,” said Chacon. “A lot were
surprised at first. They were very surprised the City was doing this. The
reaction was pretty positive though and we will have a lot of participation.”
The idea will be to bring together the best
pupusa makers in the city to vie for the 2019 Pupusa Champion of Chelsea. The
event will take place a Emiliano’s Fiesta and will be an inside event.
There will be judges and audience voting on
who makes the best pupusa, and the City would take hints from El Santaneco
Restaurant, which has a pupusa-eating contest every November.
There would also be awards for the best salsa
and the most creative vendor display at the event.
Graney said they would also have a booth
dedicated to the history and the culture of the pupusa, and the center of the
room would feature a demonstration on how to make homemade pupusas.
An idea has been floated out to have the
Police Department and Fire Department engage in a pupusa-eating contest at the
fiesta, but that is still up in the air.
“The idea is to
bring the community around this special food item, whether it’s a contest or an
event,” said Chacon. “We want them to come out with their family and enjoy
For the first time,
Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop are combining forces to conduct a comprehensive
regional Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) and design a Community Health
Implementation Plan (CHIP). Major hospitals, along with health centers, human
services providers and non-profits that serve area residents, are working with
municipal leaders, health departments and the boards of health of each
community to develop the plan. Residents of the three communities are being
urged to go online and fill out a survey that asks about local health issues
and other aspects of community life.
The effort is being
co-coordinated by the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative and the Mass
General Hospital Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) with the
ultimate goal of identifying, prioritizing and addressing the most urgent
health needs faced by each community and the region. Such assessments are often
used to apply for targeted funding to help address community needs.
Every three years, most
hospitals conduct a community health needs assessment to meet requirements set
by the Affordable Care Act. The Massachusetts Attorney General also requires
such a report and is encouraging regional collaboration among stakeholders,
including among healthcare systems who share the same service areas. “This is
one of the first regional assessments of its type in Massachusetts,” said Jeff
Stone, Director of the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative. “Mayor
Arrigo, Chelsea City Manager Tom Ambrosino and Winthrop Town Manager Austin
Faison realize that public health conditions don’t respect borders, and,
working together we can solve some of our health challenges more effectively.”
“The North Suffolk
Community Health Needs Assessment is critical for the City of Chelsea,” said
City Manager Ambrosino. “Not only will it provide the information necessary for
Chelsea to better understand our residents’ public health needs, but it will
also enable us to properly prioritize resources to better address those needs.
We encourage all of our residents to participate in upcoming surveys, forums
The collaborators have
set an ambitious timeline. The CHNA and CHIP will be completed by Sept. 30,
2019, and will result in a guide for a three-year community health improvement
plan that all providers can use. The process includes intensive data
collection–hundreds of resident surveys, interviews and focus groups as well
as collecting data from other agencies such as the MA Department of Public
Health and the US Census.
A website has been created, www.northsuffolkassessment.org, to
provide information to anyone who may be interested. People who live or work in
Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop are encouraged to complete a survey. It is
available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic, reflecting the languages
most frequently spoken in the communities.
The Massachusetts State 9-1-1 Department is
pleased to announce that Text to 911is now available throughout the
Commonwealth. All Massachusetts 9-1-1 call centers now have ability to receive
a text message through their 9-1-1 system. The Baker-Polito Administration has
supported making these system enhancements since 2015.
Text to 9-1-1 allows those in need of
emergency services to use their cellular device to contact 9-1-1 when they are
unable to place a voice call.
“This is a significant improvement to our 9-1-1 system that will save
lives,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Tom Turco. “By giving
those requiring emergency services this option we are greatly expanding the
ability of first responders to provide critical assistance to those in
To contact emergency services by text message, simply enter 9-1-1 in the “To”
field of your mobile device and then type your message into the message field.
It is the same process that is used for sending a regular text message from
your mobile device. It is important to make every effort to begin the text
message indicating the town you are in and provide the best location
information that you can.
“Having the ability to contact a 9-1-1 call
center by text could help those being held against their will or victims of
domestic violence unable to make a voice call,” said Frank Pozniak,
Executive Director of the State 9-1-1 Department. “Text to 9-1-1 also provides
direct access to 9-1-1 emergency services for the deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired,
which is a service that these communities did not have access to until now.”
It is important to note that the 9-1-1 call center may not always have your
exact location when they receive your text. For this reason, when sending a
Text to 9-1-1 it is important to make every effort to begin the text message
indicating the town you are in and provide the best location information that
The State 9-1-1 Department encourages citizens to Text to 9-1-1 only when a
voice call is not possible.
Remember: “Call if you can, text if you can’t.”
On Jan. 8, at 7:32 p.m., a CPD officer
responded to 39 Crescent Ave. for a report of breaking and entering to a motor
vehicle. While en route to the call, the officers were advised the suspect was
being held at the scene. Officers arrived and spoke to a witness, who detained
the suspect after seeing the male enter his friend’s car. The property was
recovered on the arrested individual and returned to the owner.
Daniel Ghidella, 49, of 50 Kimball Rd., was
charged with breaking and entering a vehicle for a misdemeanor, and wanton
destruction of property under $1,200.
KICKED WHEN DOWN
On Jan. 9, at 5:30 p.m., CPD officers were
dispatched to 207 Shurtleff St., room 320, for a past assault. Officers
observed both the alleged victim and person inside the apartment to be
intoxicated. The victim stated an argument ensued inside the unit when he was
kicked multiple times while he was on the floor. The male subject was placed under
Eric Roque, 41, of 207 Shurtleff St., was
charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot).
HEROIN AT THE WELFARE
On Jan. 11, at 2:15 p.m., officers were
dispatched to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) Office at 80
Everett Ave. for the report of a female that was in possession of what appeared
to be drugs. Officers spoke to the armed security guard for DTA who works the
metal detector at the front door of the Office. The security officer explained
to the Officers that he found two baggies of what appeared to be drugs inside
the woman’s bag while looking for the metal item that set his metal detector
off. The security officer turned over two baggies of a brownish white Powdery
substance to the officers. The officers believed the baggies to be heroin; she
was placed under arrest without incident.
34, of Saugus, was charged with possession of a Class A drug (heroin),
It’s been so long since Chelsea has sought
out a new superintendent that there isn’t even a current job description.
For so many years, Boston University (BU)
appointed a superintendent as it ran the public schools for decades, and when
current Supt. Mary Bourque came into the role, it was long-decided that she
would succeed former Supt. Tom Kingston – the last BU appointee.
Now, for the first time in 30 or 40 years,
the School Committee will be tasked with finding a new leader for the public
“This is all new to all of us,” said Chair
Rich Maronski. “It’s even new to the School Department. They don’t even have a
job description for superintendent. They have to create one now, which tells
you how long it’s been.”
Bourque said the Collins Center was most
recently used by the schools to hire Monica Lamboy, the business administrator
who took the place of Gerry McCue. She said it was also used to hire City
Manager Tom Ambrosino and former City Manager Jay Ash.
“The first couple of steps will go slowly,
but from the middle of February to May it will be intense,” she said. “I can’t
be involved in it then. I’ll be more of the logistics part. There is a lot of
community input, but it’s a School Committee decision. Chelsea hasn’t had a
search since before BU…One interesting point is we don’t have any internal
candidates. In Revere, Supt. Paul Dakin was succeeded by an internal candidate,
Dianne Kelly. None of our internal candidates feel they are ready to move up.
Because of that, it’s going to be an outside candidate.”
Maronski, Supt. Bourque and the rest of the
Committee met with the Collins Center last Thursday, Jan. 10, to go over the
timelines and parameters of the upcoming search.
“It’s all structured by the Collins Center,”
he said. “They are looking at the May 2 School Committee meeting for us to vote
on this. That would be the first Thursday in May. I believe they will want to
get it done by June because that’s a very busy month for us. I think the
Collins Center is pretty good. They had all the dates worked out and structured
for us. That helps.”
The notice of a job opening will go out on
Feb. 8, and focus groups of teachers, staff, parents and community groups will
form about the same time. They will be charged with coming up with a candidate
profile that will be used by a Screening Committee to review all of the
The Screening Committee will be selected by
the School Committee on March 7, and it will be made up of appointed members,
including City Manager Tom Ambrosino, parents and teachers.
They will conduct private interviews of
candidates in April, and they will forward a public list of finalists to the
Committee around April 4. Community forums and public interviews will take
place from April 22 to 25.
A contract is proposed to be signed by May
Bourque said she will remain on through
December 2019 so that she can mentor the new person and help transition them
into the “Chelsea way.” Since it will be an outside candidate, she said that
will be critical.
“Chelsea has a very strong reputation and coming
in with a solid transition plan with the exiting superintendent to help them is
something people will like,” she said. “At the same time, it is an urban district
and it is a complex district. Some people don’t like that, others do.”
The City Council got back to business Monday
night with a special organizational meeting and then quickly taking care of the
new year’s first agenda items.
As expected, the Council approved a second
term for Damali Vidot as council president. District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada
was voted in as vice president, and Yamir Rodriguez as the Council’s delegate
to the School Committee.
“I want to thank all my colleague’s for
entrusting me with one more year as president,” said Vidot. She is the first
female councillor to serve two back-to-back terms as council president.
Vidot said she is looking forward to a year
of unity and respect on the council.
In other business, the Council unanimously
approved funding for new contracts for the City’s two police unions.
The contracts include a retroactive salary
increase of 2.5 percent for FY17 and 3 percent for FY18 and FY19. There is also
a 3 percent increase slated for FY20 and an additional 1 percent increase that
goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
The contract also implements residency
requirements for all new hires for the Police Department.
Later in the meeting, the Council also
approved an amended residency ordinance for all police, fire, and civil service
The ordinance requires that all personnel
who live in Chelsea at the time of the hire must maintain residency for five
years from the date of hire. Personnel who do not live in the city at the time
of hire have six months to relocate to Chelsea.
Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson cast the
lone vote against the amended ordinance, using the example of a child who might
have to look after sick parents as a possible reason an employee may not be
able to relocate.
•During the public speaking portion of the
meeting, some familiar guests dropped in to say thank you to the Council.
Several members of the Chelsea High senior
class thanked the council for its recent vote to fund a turf field cover to the
tune of $170,000 for the new high school field.
With the field cover, the senior class and
subsequent classes will be able to hold outdoor graduations.
“We’ve put so much hard work into this, and
everything that has happened has been amazing,” said Senior Class President
Poste and several
other seniors presented the Council with a signed letter in appreciation for
their efforts. They also asked the council for their signatures on a
proclamation documenting the students’ and the Council’s efforts to work
together to make the turf field cover a reality.
The year 2018 saw many
changes in Chelsea as the city tried to balance prosperity with priorities all
year long. While new investment poured in, residents struggled to stay in the
city and schools grappled with budget cuts. Meanwhile, public transit increased
substantially in a positive direction with the introduction of the new Silver
• Flooding becomes a
major issue after a Jan. 4 blizzard and a March 2 storm, both of which occur
during substantial high tides. The Jan. 4 blizzard caused a huge storm surge
that flooded many parts of the city and even shut down operations at the
Chelsea Street Bridge.
• The New England Flower
Exchange celebrates its first Valentine’s Day holiday at its new location on
Second Street after being in Boston’s South End for the past 50 years. The new
facility has been brought online seamlessly.
• Wynn CEO Steve Wynn
seemed to be in control of his company and the project in Everett until late
January, when he was accused of sexual misconduct in a Wall Street Journal
report. The allegations quickly gathered steam, and by February Wynn had
resigned from the company and the license for the Everett casino was in
jeopardy and the project to be moving forward “at risk.” The new CEO became
Matt Maddox and the company saw huge amounts of turnover throughout the year.
By the end of 2018, the license for the Everett site was still in limbo and an
investigation into the matter still had yet to be revealed – having been
delayed for months.
• City Manager Tom
Ambrosino says in his State of the City on Feb. 26 that now is not the time to
save up money, but rather the time to continue investing in the City and its
residents. He announces several key programs for the upcoming year.
• Sen. Sal DiDomenico is
involved in a heated and intense bid for the office of Senate President over
several months, but in the summer comes up just short in getting the votes
necessary to prevail. Sen. President Karen Spilka gets the nod instead, but
DiDomenico remains the assistant majority leader and ends up coming out of the
battle in a very good position of leadership.
• Students at Chelsea
High stage a walk-out in regard to school safety and school shootings on March
15. Despite lots of snow, thousands of students take to the Stadium for the
•YIHE company returns to
the City with a new plan for the old Forbes site in the Mill Hill neighborhood.
They start the process in April with a scaled down version of their previous
plan, but reviews of the project continue throughout the year and into 2019.
• The new Silver Line
SL-3 service debuts on Saturday, April 21, in Chelsea. The service starts out a
little slow, but by December the MBTA reports that ridership has exceeded its
• The Chelsea Soldiers’
Home secured a $70 million budget item from the federal government in April
that allowed the replacement of the Quigley Hospital to move forward. The
Community Living Center has a groundbreaking in the fall and construction is
ongoing in the new year.
• The Chelsea Walk is
transformed throughout the spring, summer and fall in a unique placemaking
partnership between the City and GreenRoots. At the end, there is a new mural
on the Walk and more activity. New things are also planned for the Walk in
• A $3.1 million School
Budget gap hits the School Department hard, with numerous cuts reported to key
school services. Th School Department, City and state grapple with the issue
all summer long, but no resolution to the issue emerges at the end of the
legislative session. The school funding fix is still outstanding, and no fix
has yet been passed to help districts like Chelsea, who have been penalized
mistakenly by a new formula.
• Chelsea High sophomore
track star Stephanie Simon caps off a stellar year by heading to the National
Track Meet in North Carolina over the summer. She placed 15th in the high jump
and 27th in the triple jump out of a field of athletes from around the nation.
• Students at the Clark
Avenue Middle School are ecstatic to return to school on Aug. 29, and that’s
because they were able to enter their brand new building for the first time.
The Clark Avenue premiered to excited parents and students for the new school
term after many years of construction.
• The Sept. 4 Primary
Election features many surprises, but the biggest headline of the night,
however, was when Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley upset sitting
Congressman Michael Capuano decidedly. Capuano had campaigned hugely in
Chelsea, and won here with 54 percent of the vote. However, a strong Boston
turnout propelled Pressley to an big win. Pressley also had notable support in
Chelsea from Council President Damali Vidot and School Committeeman Julio Hernandez.
• The Two-Way Broadway
proposal gathers steam, but fizzles out as residents and elected officials
protest the change vehemently. That came after a late-August approval of the
plan by the Traffic Commission. However, in September, it fails to get past the
City Council. Broadway will remain a one-way street.
• Supt. Mary Bourque surprises most in late December when she announces
she will retire at the end of 2019, pledging to help the School Committee with
a new superintendent search throughout the year.
The Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association has named Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes as its Chief of the Year
Police Chief Brian Kyes has been selected as the first-ever Chief of the Year by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association. The announcement came this week, and added to two other recent accolades for Kyes
the first-ever such award handed out by the organization.
This week, the executive board of the organization announced that Kyes was the recipient of the award, particularly for his advocacy in getting the municipal police training fund passed last summer.
“The Executive Board of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association is pleased to announce that the first recipient of the ‘Chief of the Year’ Award is Chief Brian A. Kyes of the Chelsea Police Department,” read the announcement. “Chief Kyes serves as the Chair of the Mass. Chief’s Legislative Committee, as well as being the President of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs Association, a member of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and a member of the Municipal Police Training Committee. Chief Kyes was instrumental in advancing our legislative efforts towards a dedicated funding source for the training of municipal police officers in Massachusetts, which culminated with Governor Charlie Baker signing into law House Bill 4516…”
The award carries a $500 donation from the association to the charity of the recipient’s choice. In this case, Kyes has chosen The Jimmy Fund as the charity.
“I was notified last week that I also have received the first annual Police Chief of the Year Award from the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association,” said Kyes. “I am incredibly humbled by this recognition and am honored to recently have received three awards, which all mean a great to deal to me and my family. The last month or so has been pretty good for me and the Chelsea Police Department in terms of some nice totally unexpected recognitions.”
On Oct. 29, Kyes received the Gregory A. Madera Public Service Award from the Massachusetts Association of Hispanic Attorneys at the Law Offices on Mintz & Associates. On Nov. 30, Kyes also received the Law Enforcement Person of the Year Award from the North East Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council Foundation (NEMLEC) at the Four Oaks Country in Dracut.
The turf field at Highland Park has been used nearly with pause since it was installed in 2011, but this hub of soccer activity in Chelsea has been defective from the get-go, and City officials are now looking at situations in other parts of the country where cities have won settlements to replace these defective fields.
An aerial view of the Highland Park soccer field in 2017 shows tremendous wear and bunching even though it is only six years old at the time. A problem with the materials in the field might be grounds for replacement for the City.
The turf field has been the source of great discussion for several months as the wear and tear on the field has been worrisome to many that use the field. The field has shown extreme wear in the center area, particularly when it comes to “bunching up.”
If experiences with field replacement by the installer, FieldTurf, in other areas are any indication, there might not be such a long and costly wait for relief at Highland Park.
A source outside of Chelsea, but intimately connected to the situation in Chelsea, contacted the Record last week with details about the defective materials used in the field when it was installed in 2011. That defective material is known as Duraspine and it is the fibers used to imitate grass. An outside supplier made the product for FieldTurf, and it was learned to be defective around 2009 or 2010. Now FieldTurf makes its own fiber.
In other locales, fields with the same problem have been replaced at no cost or at a discount, particularly when the warranty was still in place. In Chelsea, the eight-year warranty is still in effect until 2019.
“Area schools, towns and public agencies have spent millions of dollars installing synthetic turf fields in recent years,” said the source, who requested anonymity. “A number of important national class-action lawsuits have just been launched against the main supplier of synthetic turf fields in Massachusetts… Chelsea High School had a non-defective, proper FieldTurf field installed in September 2003. It performed admirably for almost 15 years until it was replaced this summer. The defective Highland Park field is still protected under full warranty until February 2019 at least. All FieldTurf fields had a non-prorated eight-year warranty as a minimum. Many FieldTurf fields have a 10-year warranty. The company’s key strategy is to sit back and ‘run out the clock’ on the warranty and hope that customers, most often taxpayers, don’t notice and get stuck with the replacement costs.”
The heart of the problem is that the outside supplier provided the FieldTurf company with Duraspine materials. At some point around 2009 or 2010, and that date is disputed, the company learned their supplier had used the defective Duraspine materials. That led to a settlement between the supplier and FieldTurf, and FieldTurf has replaced several defective fields across the country because of it.
“Do the responsible public officials even realize they have been completely defrauded; do they know they are possibly plaintiffs in one of the many class-action lawsuits filed against the company?” said the source.
City officials this week said they did not know about the defective materials, and they have forwarded the information to the City Legal Department to look at what can potentially be done for Highland Park.
“This is the first I’m hearing about this issue,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino. “We are having our City Solicitor investigate the information provided to us.”
All of the above considered, FieldTurf told the Record that the highly-publicized problems in other locales are likely exaggerated.
“We are committed to honoring our warranties and working with our customers to address any issues if they arise,” read a statement from FieldTurf. “It’s important to note that…the Highland Park field in Chelsea was installed in 2011 and is almost near the end of its warranty term. Since we first became aware of the issue with Duraspine, we have been responsive to our customers experiencing issues with their fields. The Duraspine issue has not impacted safety – only how a field looks as it wears – and has been limited to high-UV environments. Worldwide, less than 2 percent of Duraspine fields have been replaced under warranty because of issues with the Duraspine fiber. FieldTurf discontinued the sale of Duraspine in 2010 and transitioned fully to its own self-produced fibers in 2011 – and we have introduced many successful fibers since then.”
Some are asking how it is that Chelsea seemed to get the defective product at Highland Park even after FieldTurf knew of the problems and was transitioning to its own in-house process.
“(I think) FieldTurf knowingly installed defective material at Highland Park,” said the source. “This is outright fraud.”
Several media reports, as well as the source that contacted the Record, have indicated that there are class-action lawsuits in the works. However, FieldTurf said those reports are misleading and should be taken with careful measure.
“There continue to be media reports of a ‘class action’ lawsuit against FieldTurf, but this is misleading, as the Courts have not yet approved any class action against FieldTurf, and they have not yet even decided whether most of the claims are valid,” read the statement. “Importantly, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office and the Federal Trade Commission have both closed investigations into FieldTurf without finding any wrongdoing.”
That suit was filed in March 2017.
FieldTurf, in its statement, did not address why it installed the defective product at Highland Park even after it knew about the problems with Duraspine.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed Air Safe, Inc. of Chelsea a penalty of $28,500 for violations of asbestos regulations that occurred at an occupied residence in Ayer.
In October 2017, MassDEP inspectors conducted a compliance inspection of an asbestos removal project being conducted by Air Safe. When MassDEP inspectors arrived at the property, they learned that Air Safe had completed the work and were no longer on-site. MassDEP conducted an inspection of the work area and observed pieces of asbestos-containing insulation remaining on the heating pipes and on a window sill in the basement. Air Safe, a licensed asbestos contractor, was required to clean up and decontaminate all affected parts of the basement.
MassDEP regulations require areas where asbestos removal will occur to be sealed off and air filtration equipment must be operated during the abatement work. These requirements are designed to prevent a release of asbestos fibers to the environment, to protect building occupants and the general public from exposure to asbestos fibers, and to preclude other parts of the building from becoming contaminated. The containment barriers and air filtration equipment is required to remain in place until the work area passes a visual clearance that reflects that no visible debris remains.
Under the terms of the settlement, Air Safe will pay $18,000 of the penalty, with an additional $10,500 suspended provided the company has no further violations for one year.
“As a licensed asbestos contractor, Air Safe is well aware of the required work practices for removal of asbestos-containing materials and that the abatement is not considered complete until the work area is cleaned to a level of no visible debris in accordance with the regulations,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and following required work practices is imperative to protect building occupants, workers as well as the general public. Failure to do so will result in penalties, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination and monitoring costs.”
Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials, notification requirements, proper removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures, or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP Regional Office for assistance HYPERLINK “http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/about/contacts/” t “_blank” here.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.