Repucci Will Retire as Executive Director of CAPIC

Robert S. Repucci, executive director of CAPIC for the past 41 years, will be retiring from the agency that assists residents and seniors in Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop.

Repucci, who has worked at CAPIC in various capacities since 1972, publicly announced his decision in a letter to friends Tuesday. He had informed the CAPIC Board of Directors at a meeting last Thursday.

CAPIC Executive Director Robert Repucci, second from left, attended the announcement of Joe-4 Sun, a low-income community shared solar program. Pictured from left, are Revere Mayor Brian Arrigo, CAPIC Energy Director Giancarlo DeSario, Citizens Engery Chairman Joseph Kennedy II, CAPIC Executive Director Robert Repucci, and Revere Ward 5 Councillor John Powers.

Repucci, 68, said he will remain in the position until a successor is named. The succession plan to select a new CAPIC executive director has begun, and starting next week the position will be advertised in various newspapers and on social media platforms.

Chelsea community leaders lauded Repucci’s many accomplishments at CAPIC. He has been the much-revered leader of the agency for decades and has always supported local organizations with his attendance at their events. CAPIC became a national model during his tenure.

“Bob Repucci’s retirement is a loss for the region and a loss for the city of Chelsea,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino, who also worked closely with CAPIC when he was mayor of Revere. “Bob has been a tremendous partner to Chelsea, particularly over the last few years as we’ve ramped up our efforts to address a lot of the social ills in the downtown.

“A lot of our success in the past few years is due to Bob’s efforts, and he will be greatly missed,” added Ambrosino.

Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, whose relationship with Bob Repucci goes back to 1972, said, “Bob is a great person and I have nothing but respect for the man as he has a heart of gold.”

GreenRoots Executive Director Roseann Bongiovanni said Repucci’s important legacy will continue in the city.

“Bob Repucci has dedicated years of his life to help some of Chelsea’s most needy and most vulnerable,” said Bongiovanni, a former Chelsea city councillor. “His contributions to the betterment of our city should not be overlooked. While we are sad to see Bob retire, we know his legacy will live on.”

On Beacon Hill, Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo also lauded Repucci’s career as an administrator at CAPIC.

“In all years of government, Bob was one of the most caring people I ever worked with,” said DeLeo. “Whenever people in the community needed a helping hand, Bob always found a way to say yes. He has been a tireless and kind servant to his community. I thank him for all of his years of service and his friendship.”

‘A Challenging Decision’

Repucci said his decision to leave CAPIC was a challenging one.

“This has been a challenging decision given my utmost devotion to CAPIC and my need to safeguard the legacy of those who preceded me and those to follow,” wrote Repucci, whose agency helps low-income residents in Revere, Chelsea, and Winthrop.

He said one of the reasons for deciding to leave the position at CAPIC was that “I’ve become growingly saddened and frustrated with the housing situation that we have in Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. I’ve watched all these people that are essentially being forced out of their housing.

“All this great residential building has caused rents to increase – the new developments are looking at $1,800 to $3,000 a month so the average landlord of a three-family house looks at that and says, “I’m only getting $1,100, but I could get $1,800 or $2,000 a month, that’s one of the contributing factors why these rents are going up and I want to do something about it.”

Will Lead Winnisimmet Realty Corporatioon

When Repucci leaves CAPIC he will assume the duties of executive director of the Winnisimmet Realty Corporation, whose mission is to acquire property for the interest of the CAPIC agency.

He said it will be tough to leave CAPIC and the outstanding, professional staff that he has overseen for more than four decades.

“CAPIC is my home and the people that work there are really family to me,” said Repucci. “Separation from the organization is going to be as tough as I thought because of all these issues that we have that are poverty-related and I’m working on.”

He said people’s “access to healthcare” is one of the issues that brought him to work for CAPIC in 1972 “and here we are 48 years later looking at the same issue recurring and that’s in the presence of health centers which we didn’t have back then.”

Repucci will be in involved in the process to select his successor as executive director. He is in charge of recruiting candidates and expects a large pool of diverse applicants for the position.

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Chelsea Police Department Presents the Second Annual 2019 Youth Academy Graduation at CHS Auditorium

Last Monday evening CPD Chief Brian Kyes and his officers graduated the second class of the CHP Youth Academy. For the second year the Chelsea Police Community Services Department and local youths from 14-17 from the Chelsea Collaborative Summer Youth Program embarked on a six week course on policing procedures. The course involved touring the FBI building in Boston, visiting the Nashua Street Jail, spending a day on Revere Beach for a physical abilities program, spending time at the Chelsea Court House with Chief Probation Officer Carman Gomez, and interacting with CPD Drug and Gang Units. This police /youth interaction has proved to be a very big part in the community policing program. The program was geared around a four days a week for six weeks, from 8 a.m. -1 p.m. Last Monday evening Chief Kyes, program instructors, Keath Sweeney, Dave Batchelor Jr., Sam Mojica, Garrison Daniel, and Maria Barbosa and officers of the Chelsea Police Deartment gathered with the 2019 Class and their families for a graduation ceremony. Two graduates were chosen to speak, Gabriela Perez and Olivia Rivera. After a slide show highlighting the many activities, presentation of personal awards and diplomas the 2019 class was dismissed and gathered for a collation in the Chelsea High School cafeteria.

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Triangle, Inc. Receives $100,000 for School to Career Programming

Following Governor Baker’s signing and the finalization of the Commonwealth’s FY 2020 Budget, Triangle, Inc. is proud to announce it has received an additional $100,000 in funding for its School-to-Career program, which supports students and recent graduates between 16 and 26-years-old in the Metro North and South Shore regions. The funds will help advance programs to help young adults plan their careers, expand their experience and skills to secure competitive employment, and live more independent lives. The allocation is part of $5.4 million funding in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s budget dedicated to workforce development and employment service programming throughout the Commonwealth.

“We want to thank our elected officials, including House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Karen Spilka, and the co-sponsors of this budget amendment, Representative Daniel Ryan and Senator Sal DiDomenico for their work in securing this critical funding,” said Coleman Nee, CEO of Triangle, Inc. “These additional resources will advance the vital work of providing transition aged young adults with meaningful pathways for career and lifetime success, giving our participants a more independent future.”

About Triangle, Inc.

Since 1971, Triangle, Inc. has empowered people with disabilities and their families to live rich, fulfilling lives. With a strong focus on employment, empowerment, independence, and community engagement, Triangle, Inc. reaches more than 4,000 people across eastern Massachusetts each year. Through all of its efforts, Triangle, Inc reminds our communities that we are all people with abilities. Learn more about the organization and their impact at triangle-inc.org.

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Bourque Named Daoulas Award Winner; Announced as Legislative Leader for MASS

In their annual conference this month, the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS) announced that Chelsea outgoing Supt. Mary Bourque would be working with them on legislative issues at the State House.

The meeting, held in Mashpee, was also a time to highlight school leaders from across the state, and Bourque – who is a past president of MASS – was recognized for her career in Chelsea with the Daoulas Award. The association’s highest award is the Daoulas Award, and it is named after former Dracut Supt. Christos Daoulas.

Paul Andrews, MASS, and Eric Conti, Superintendent Burlington Public Schools, with Chelsea Supt. Mary Bourque

It was presented to her by Eric Conti, past president and superintendent of the Burlington Public Schools.

“Mary is a fierce, fierce, and tenacious supporter of her community and of the students of her community,” Conti said. “She is an extreme collaborator, leader of the 5 District Partnership and Urban Superintendents. She is a champion of students first arriving in our country…the motto of Chelsea is, ‘We Welcome and We Educate.’”

She is one of only three women to ever win the award.

Bourque, who is retiring at the end of this year and will be taking on a mentor role Aug. 1 to the new superintendent, was also announced as taking on a legislative position for MASS.

“I am humbled, and I am proud,” she said. “I am proud of my family; I am proud of my community of Chelsea; I am proud of my State – the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and I am proud to be a public school kid.” Added Conti, “She will take the same tenacity for her community and apply it to all our communities.”

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Community Preservation Committee to be Very Active

Chelsea residents can expect to see a flurry of activity from the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) over the coming year.

Earlier this year, the City Council approved Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for a round of pilot projects recommended by the CPC.

The projects recommended by the CPC included money for the rehabilitation of the city’s Civil War monument, improvements to the Garden Cemetery, a Marlborough Street Community Garden proposed by The Neighborhood Developers (TND), renovation of the Governor Bellingham-Cary House, renovations to the Congregation Agudath Shalom Museum (Walnut Street Synagogue) and for the city to hire an Affordable Housing Trust Fund housing specialist on a one-year contract basis.

Chelsea voters approved the adoption of the CPA in November 2016. It will provide hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to be used for the creation and acquisition of affordable housing, historic preservation, open space and recreation. The CPA trust fund currently has a balance of just over $2.2 million before any money was spent on the recent round of pilot projects.

The projects that could be funded during the initial pilot round were capped at $50,000 each. The total of the seven proposals that came before the CPC is just under $270,000, according to CPC Chair Jose Iraheta.

Although Iraheta said he can’t speak for the other members of the CPC, he said he was excited by the Council’s approval of the pilot program.

“The committee has been entrusted by our fellow Chelsea residents to help preserve our open spaces, historic sites, and housing affordability,” Iraheta said. “The projects that were funded through this pilot honor our fellow community members’ wishes. I cannot wait for our next funding round and see what kind of solutions our community comes up with.”

One of the immediate goals for the CPC is to make sure everyone in Chelsea knows what the CPA is, what the community values are, and how the CPC funds have been used, according to the CPC Chairman.

“The CPC will focus on standardizing the community engagement efforts, capture our community’s voice in the community preservation plan and create a straightforward application process so people can know what to expect,” Iraheta said. “We want to create a system that is responsible for our community’s goals and priorities. If organizations and individuals know what to expect, we hope to see more robust and strong community projects that reflect our community’s values.”

To accomplish this, he said the CPC will be engaged in deep reflective conversation around the pilot process, including inviting CPC members from other communities to learn from their experiences, building on proven practices.

“My expectations are for the next grant applications to receive more solutions that meet the values, goals, and priorities laid out in the Community Preservation Plan,” Iraheta said.

A CPC meeting was scheduled to be held on Thursday night.

During the summer, the CPC will work to finalize engagement and application timelines for CPA projects. The next round of funding will not be limited to the $50,000 cap of the pilot round, Iraheta said, but a final decision has yet to be made on if there will be a larger cap on the requested amount.

Organizations or individuals can get more information on how to apply and on the Community Preservation Plan through the City of Chelsea’s Community Preservation Committee dedicated portal at www.chelseama.gov/community-preservation-committee.

Iraheta said he would like to continue to see proposed projects that meet the core values of the Community Preservation Plan.

“The CPA funds are a tool that strengthens our communities through funding for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and outdoor recreation preserve,” he said. “The CPC does not implement projects; community organizations and individuals do. If your proposal adheres to the values in the Community Preservation Plan, we will consider your application for funding.”

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Ambrosino Asks to Renegotiate Casino Agreement to Shift Money to Workforce Development

Money the city is set to receive from Encore Boston Harbor could be going toward job training for Chelsea residents.

Monday night, the City Council voted 8-3 to allow City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to renegotiate the city’s Surrounding Community Agreement (SCA) with Encore to set aside $100,000 of the $225,000 earmarked for roadway repairs in the agreement for workforce development.

“I still believe that workforce development is an important and unmet need in the City,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the council. “This casino mitigation agreement provides an opportunity to set aside a modest annual amount for that purpose. The source would be a portion of the funds set aside in the existing Agreement for roadway improvements, a program which the City already adequately supports through other available revenues.”

Although the council approved Ambrosino’s renegotiation with Encore, several councillors opposed moving funds away from road improvements to workforce development.

“Why take the money from where it was intended to go and put it somewhere else?” District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked.

Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda countered that there are numerous mechanisms in the budget for roadway improvements, but revenue streams for workforce development are nonexistent.

“This is a good use, in my view, of that $100,000,” he said, adding the training would benefit Chelsea residents.

But District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop said the workforce development money would be used mainly for casino and other hospitality trades.

“That is something the casino should be spending money on, not us,” said Bishop. “Why should we pay to train people at the casino?”

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda cast the third vote against the measure, agreeing with Bishop that the wording of the proposal focused too heavily on training for jobs in the casino industry.

•In other business, the Council approved the Community Preservation Act Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, and approved Community Preservation Act funds for six projects, including renovating the Civil War Monument, the Marlborough Street Community Garden, Bellingham-Cary House building repairs, the Garden Cemetery project, Congregation Agudath Sholom repairs, and money for an affordable housing trust fund specialist.

•District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez also asked Ambrosino to look into the city installing removable speed bumps at Marlborough and Shawmut streets for the summer.

Lopez also asked the City Manager to provide the Council with a list of all City cars being taken home by City employees, and to provide the Council with a list of overtime hours worked by the Inspectional Services Department.

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Legislature Approves Chapter 90 Funds

The Massachusetts Legislature passed a bill authorizing $200 million for Chapter 90 funding to help municipalities complete road, bridge and infrastructure improvement projects. The bill also facilitates the financing of $1.5 billion for highway projects and $200 million for rail projects at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

“Not only will these funds provide critical resources to cities and towns across the Commonwealth and fortify larger regional transportation projects, they will create jobs and spur economic growth,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop). “These investments support our vibrant economy by improving our transportation infrastructure.”

“Each year, the Legislature invests in Chapter 90 funding to help cities and towns across the Commonwealth with critical improvements to roads, and I am once again proud to support this legislation which will help cities like Revere,” said Rep. RoseLee Vincent (D-Revere). “I thank Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Strauss, Boncore and the entire Transportation Committee for their work in crafting this bill that provides needed dollars to help municipalities with roadway infrastructure.”

“The Commonwealth’s roads, bridges and arteries are our economy’s life blood,’ said Transportation Committee Chair Senator Joseph Boncore (D-Winthrop). These appropriations approved today will go a long way toward providing our municipalities with the financial resources they need to ensure our infrastructure is building toward state of good repair.”

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Chelsea Jewish Lifecare Celebrates 100 Years of Care From Humble Beginnings In a Chelsea Home to Modern Care at Multiple Locations

One hundred years ago, Lena Goldberg started Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home by turning a small multi-family building into a welcoming home for elders. Today that home has grown into Chelsea Jewish Healthcare, one of New England’s leading healthcare organizations. The non-profit operates campuses in Chelsea, Peabody and Longmeadow, employing more than 2,000 individuals and taking care of more than 1,000 individuals every day. While there has been extensive growth and expansion throughout years, one thing never changed: the organization’s unwavering commitment to provide high-quality, compassionate care in a “real” home setting.

“From the very beginning, our goal was to provide the best possible care,” said Barry Berman, who has been CEO of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare for more than 40 years. “We encourage our residents to make their own choices and live their own lives by creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere with a caring and compassionate staff.”

He further explained, “Living in a residence that offers all the amenities of a real home greatly enhances the quality of life for elderly and disabled individuals.”

Berman recalled coming to Chelsea Jewish when he was only 23 and fresh out of graduate school.

“When they started this organization, that was before MediCare, MediCaid and public health programs,” he said. “It was just a bunch of Jewish women who saw elders that needed services and they decided to buy a home and help them. When I started, I was only 23 and just got out of graduate school. It was a small, 60-bed home that really needed an incredible amount of work. I went to the Trustees and I was honest with them. I said them I didn’t have a lot of experience, but we could all work together and figure out how to do this so we can improve the home.”

By 1983, they were able to demolish the home on Lafayette Avenue and build the brand new Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home – a home that was just completely renovated and modernized this past year.

Over the past 100 years, Chelsea Jewish Lifecare has achieved many similar and significant milestones.

The opening of the award-winning Leonard Florence Center for Living in 2010, the first urban Green House skilled nursing facility in the country, is one example. This revolutionary nursing home in Chelsea includes 30 rooms devoted to individuals diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and MS (multiple sclerosis). Individuals are able to live as independently as possible through the cutting-edge technology built into the center. Today the Leonard Florence Center takes care of more individuals living with ALS under one roof than any place in the world.

The organization greatly expanded in 2016 with the addition of a Peabody campus and again in 2018 with the affiliation of JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow. All three campuses reflect the organization’s mission: to be the most respected provider of service-enriched residential care and post-acute care for seniors and individuals living with debilitating neurological conditions.

In 2017, the Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home underwent a dramatic $16 million renovation. The new building reflects a legacy Green House skilled nursing model that can be easily duplicated by nursing homes across the country. This concept sets the stage for new level of care in senior housing.

“We came back to the home atmosphere that our founder, Mrs. Goldberg, originally had in mind,” said Adam Berman, president of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. “What’s so unique about our model is that we’ve combined contemporary design elements with the traditional concept of making one’s home as warm and inviting as possible.”

On April 28, employees, residents, families, friends and community members came together to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Chelsea Jewish Lifecare. Governor Charlie Baker recognized this momentous day by issuing a Citation in honor of this special anniversary. Amidst dinner, dancing and emotional speeches, attendees viewed a slide show with over 200 photos spanning the last 100 years. A highlight of the event was a heartfelt tribute to the 49 staff members who have worked at the organization for 25 years or more.

Barry Berman summed up the night perfectly: “Our employees are the real reason behind our longevity. Without them, we wouldn’t be here today.”

Looking to the future, Berman said they will look to grow, but not hastily.

“We believe in growth, but we also believe in very calculated and smart growth,” he said. “Some companies can grow too fast. Although we are ready to grow, we are cautious about it…We do it with our eyes wide open because we’re not going to grow just to grow.”

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Bellingham-Cary House – Slade’s Mill

By Marianne Salza

Along the edge of Rumney Marsh in the late 19th Century, Slade’s Mill was bustling. The tidal-powered factory on the creek, with its rooms fragrant with the wafting aroma of exotic spices – paprika from Spain and ginger from the Orient – was where the spice grinding industry originated.

“It was here, in an old Massachusetts mill that the most interesting step in the distribution of spices began,” said educator and historian, Jeff Pearlman. “Inside Slade’s Mill the air was golden brown from grindings of pure spices.”

During the Bellingham-Cary House Association Annual Meeting on April 27, Pearlman presented a timeline of Slade’s Tidewater Mill, explaining the connections between Revere and Chelsea. Pearlman is a member of the Revere Society for Cultural and Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization that protects and promotes the history of the Revere community.

The Town of Chelsea originally consisted of four farms, the first of which was purchased by Henry Slade, who erected the first church, bank, and City Hall on the waterfront land. In 1734, Slade began grinding tobacco and corn in the mill.

“The charter states the following,” began Pearlman. “’This mill must at all times hold itself in the readiness to grind corn for any citizen of Chelsea, provided that the corn is raised in Chelsea.’”

In 1837, Slade’s sons, David and Levi, conceived the idea of grinding spices in the mill, and began importing spices from around the world. By 1850, D and L Slade Company became the largest producer of spices in New England.

“The boys ground up a half barrel of cinnamon, slung the barrel between two poles, and trudged across the marsh to Boston,” Pearlman explained. “The cinnamon was sold to grocers, and a new industry was born: the business of spice grinding.”

First, the spices passed through magnetized steel plates to remove foreign objects, such as nails and wire. Spices were then pulverized into fine powders beneath grinding rolls. Next, the powder was lifted into continuous buckets, sifted, and loaded into barrels that were delivered to packing plants in Boston.

“Spices were not only used to stimulate jaded appetites; but their sweet, pungent odor made them useful as medicine and deodorants,” mentioned Pearlman. “Up to this time, spice had been sold to the housewife whole, and each had a hand-grinder.”

The mill was refurbished in 1918 following a fire and acquired by Bell Seasonings. In 1932, the mill was converted to electric power, and operated until July 1, 1976.

Slade’s Mill is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The building was renovated in 2004, and today, Slade’s Mill Apartments contains 18 studio and one bedroom units. A museum on the ground floor exhibits original machinery, photographs, and a spice cabinet with glass and metal Slade’s and Bell containers.

“Spices are now a common household necessity. No longer are they counted as the choicest possession of the wealthy,” said Pearlman. “Men and women live longer in a spice-laden atmosphere. Perhaps there is something in the theory that spices have a beneficial effect on health and appetite of the human race. I wonder where the saying, ‘Spice of life,’ came from.”

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