Lead pipes are often a hidden danger under the streets and sidewalks for a lot of families in Chelsea, but if the City
State Rep. Dan Ryan praised the program and congratulated Chelsea in being proactive to replace lead service lines.
can help it, that danger will be removed one pipe at a time.
On Monday, the MWRA and the Clean Water Action Group awarded the City of Chelsea and GreenRoots for their early adoption of a program that removes, at no cost to the homeowner, lead water service lines while in the process of other infrastructure projects.
Part of that award included a $100,000 grant to help continue the program and remove more lead water lines as the City encounters them during paving or sidewalk repair programs.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said it is a common sense operation, but one that goes the extra step in replacing the line for free – as it usually is the responsibility of the homeowner to pay for the replacement.
“For the last year or more, as we’ve undertaken other construction projects on the streets, when we encounter a lead service line on the street, we are replacing it at no cost to the homeowner,” he said. “The MWRA grant helps ensure we will be able to continue to do that. We all want safe and clean drinking water and having clean water is elemental.”
Over time, lead can leach into drinking water, and studies have shown that lead is a neurotoxin and can affect cognitive abilities with repeated exposure. This is particularly dangerous for children and pregnant women.
“Chelsea is so proactive in doing this,” said MWRA Director Fred Laskey. “They are going through the inventory and going house to house and street to street to get rid of this problem. This is something that should serve as a model in how to prevent the scourge of lead in water. No other community has forged into this.”
Fidel Maltez of the Chelsea DPW said that more than 50 lines have been replaced so far under the program. Some of those were last year and came when they were working on street repairs, including to Shurtleff, Maverick, Clark, Crescent, Lawrence, Tudor and Webster Streets. This year, they will take on Essex Street and will be looking for lead water lines there too.
“Every project moving forward is going to identify and remove these lines with zero cost to the homeowner,” he said.
He said that any homeowner that thinks they might have a lead service line should contact the DPW at (617) 466-4200. They will send out a technician to verify if it is a lead pipe, and if it is, they will put it on a list for completion.
But, as School Committeeman Rich Maronski recalled, Scottie Holden did climb the Soldiers’ Home water tower and it was the stuff of legend growing up in Chelsea.
“The biggest news with the tower as a kid was when Scottie Holden actually climbed it,” said Maronski. “It was the talk of the town for more than a week. I grew up beside this tower all my life. It’s the thing I look at when I’m on an airplane. I know when I’m leaving and I know when I’m home by looking at that tower.”
His remembrance was but one of many that were shared at a special farewell to the Soldiers’ Home water tower last Friday, Nov. 30, in the shadow of the tower, which was constructed in 1958 and will come down in the next few weeks. It has to come down to make way for the $199 million Community Living Center that will provide long-term care for veterans in a modern, home-like setting. Currently, the Quigley Hospital provides great care, but it is laid out in open wards, which are no longer acceptable.
“Today is an opportunity to say farewell to the water tower that served as a beacon or a landmark to so many in and around Chelsea,” said state Veterans Secretary Francisco Urena. “This is a bittersweet moment, but this is also a happy moment for the veterans at the Soldiers Home who will reap the benefit of the largest investment ever in the Commonwealth for long-term veterans care. It’s going to be a beacon of care for veterans across the Commonwealth now.”
Supt. Cheryl Poppe said CBI Corp. put up the six-legged water tower in 1958, and the purpose was to help the water supply and water pressure at the home. Over time, however, the tower became less useful and a permanent pump station was implemented in 2011. The tower was decommissioned at that time, but allowed to stay in place. Over time, it has deteriorated and vandals have painted it.
“It was a noticeable part of the Chelsea skyline, but now our Community Living Center will serve as a special vision on the horizon as it will serve our veterans for the decades to come,” she said.
Tom Kasiecki said he has watched the tower all his life.
“I watched this tower go up when I was a kid in 1958,” he said. “I sat there at my window over there and watched them build it. Now, as a senior citizen, I am going to sit over there and watch them demolish it.”
Former City Councillor Matt Frank said he is going to miss the tower, and that it is special to him, but he also said he will choose to remember it now as a place of hope and rest for those who have served their country – as it was for his grandfather when he was there.
“That’s what I’m going to remember moving forward is we’re going to have a brand new facility for the veterans,” he said. “When I look up and see the skyline without the tower, I will be sad. I will miss the tower because I’ve had it there all my life. It’s always been there. However, when I look up and don’t see it, I’m going to think of the wonderful care that the veterans are receiving there.”
Added Barbara Richards, “It’s going to be very hard to see it go. Whether you go by boat, train, plan or car, you can always see the tower.”
Dottie Kusmierek has lived across the street from the tower for most of her life. She said it holds a special place in the hearts of her family members. She said it will be hard to see it go, but she understands the reasoning.
“My older brother was in Vietnam and he saw the water tower when he came back home and said, ‘At last, I’m home,’” she recalled. “There are a lot of changes now in Chelsea, and a lot of them I’m not happy about. Good bye old friend and on with the new.”
Councilor Luis Tejada said he would definitely be sad to see it go, and it’s a part of the local history to him.
“It’s sad to me because New England and Greater Boston have so much history, and it’s why people are jealous of us in other parts of the country,” he said. “The tower was an historical marker for Chelsea. My generation and up recognize that certainly. Sometimes in the name of progress you must give up some things to get others.”
Ana Gonzalez, 59, 90 Marlborough St., Chelsea, was arrested for shoplifting.
David Henao-Jimenez, 19, 121 Union St., Everett, was arrested for speeding, unlicensed operation of motor vehicle and possessing open container of alcohol in motor vehicle.
Maria Ortiz, 49, 172 Central Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a warrant.
Faisal Yerow, 23, 180 Central Ave., Chelsea, was arrested on a probation warrant.
Christina Belcher, 412, 550 Ferry St., Everett, was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Edwin Ibanez, 30, 589 Broadway, Chelsea, was arrested for ordinance violation, alcoholic beverage/marijuana/THC, disorderly conduct, assault, disturbing the peace and threat to commit a crime.
Gabriel Castillo, 25, 9 Southend, Lynn, was arrested for unlicensed operation of motor vehicle, speeding and warrants.
On Nov. 24, at 7:32 p.m., officers were dispatched to 1 Marlborough St. for a report of a male party following and threatening a female party. The female victim stated that the male followed her from the area of 400 Broadway. During this time she told officers he was making inappropriate comments to her. At one point he walked in front of her and blocked her path while escalating the comments to threats to cause her harm. Witnesses interceded, and the male fled the area.
A short time later he was positively identified and placed into custody.
Edwin Ibanez, 30, of 589 Broadway, was charged with marijuana violation, disorderly conduct (subsequent offense), assault, disturbing the peace, and threatening to commit a crime.
MAN PULLS KNIFE AT DAY CENTER
On Nov. 14, at approximately 9 a.m., CPD officers were dispatched to 738 Broadway, the Pentecostal Church resource center for a report of a male with a knife. Upon arrival, the victim stated that the man at the scene pulled a knife on him. A knife was found on the subject, and he was placed under arrest.
Michael Catino, 34, of Malden, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon.
DANCIN’ IN THE STREETS
On Nov. 24, at 11 a.m., officers observed an intoxicated female causing a disturbance on Broadway. The officers tried to ascertain the woman’s identity but were answered with threats and derogatory comments. The woman continued to disregard the officer’s commands while impeding pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic. She was placed under arrest.
Christina Belcher, 41, of Everett, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Christmas is coming and wish lists vary. Here are ideas from which most can benefit.
Medical care for all Americans. Congress must sever ties with lobbyists working on behalf of the pharmaceutical and medical insurance companies and represent the American people. Prescription costs are too high and the government pays too much money to the drug companies for those who receive various medicines from government coverage. All Americans should be able to see a doctor and receive medical care. Working Americans should have access to affordable medical care. Retired and poor/disabled/uninsurable Americans should have access to Medicare and Medicaid. All Veterans and military should be able to choose an alternate doctor or hospital when the VA hospital and doctors are not in close proximity or are inaccessible.
My medical insurance company recently informed me that my doctors must always gain their consent when prescribing any kind of medicine. They not only demand final approval on any medications I might need, they frequently dictate that my doctor prescribes a medication that is less expensive. I would like to think that my doctor prescribes medicines based on his opinion that they will work. If I decide to follow my doctor’s direction and the medical insurance company doesn’t agree then I will be totally out of pocket for my prescription.
My wife and I were in France once and she had to see a doctor. There were doctor offices everywhere in Paris. Seeing a doctor and getting two prescriptions were less than $35. We didn’t use an insurance card and a visit to the doctor and going to the pharmacy around the corner both took less than 90 minutes. France does not have socialized medicine. They are involved in controlling the costs of drugs. The life expectancy for those living in France is longer than us living in America. France’s medical world is not perfect but we should take notes.
Christmas will be good if Americans can have access to jobs across the country. Big cities are booming with jobs it seems but rural America does not have the same options. I suppose it will always be this way but everyone cannot live in Provo, Utah, Austin, Texas or Nashville, Tennessee. A friend of mine recently moved to Indianapolis and has job opportunities galore. The federal government must spend some of the money we give away to the Middle East on rural America. Roads, bridges, parks and investing in small companies that will locate in rural America must be a government priority. We’ve spent too many years nation-building throughout the planet and let Appalachia and other rural communities drown.
I don’t have enough space so here are musts for Americans this Christmas:
Small interest loans so our youth can afford to go to college. Make college as affordable as possible.
Turn Social Security around and keep our promised retirements solvent for our graying Americans.
Reward the corporations who stay in America and let those who want to be out of America pay the price for abandoning us.
Keep America safe with strong borders and a strong military and take care of those who do and have served our country.
Insure that sane Americans can have their Colt-45 revolvers by their bedside tables when they turn out the lights and say their prayers.
Finally, may we all be a little more like President George H.W. Bush who wrote newly elected President Bill Clinton a very gracious note welcoming him to the oval office and assuring him of his support saying “…that you will be ‘our’ President when you read this note.” He led by living the example that it doesn’t hurt any of us to be respectful, gracious, decent people who help, love and encourage others.
The Chelsea Fire Department has embarked on another year of collecting toys at the Central Fire Station for needy families, delivering them mid-month to the Toys for Tots campaign.
Capt. Phil Rogers said the fifth year of collections at the Central Fire Station has begun and he urged everyone in the community to bring in a new, non-violent, unwrapped toy if at all possible. They are accepting donations through Dec. 14, and can take them at the Station in Fay Square between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day.
“We have started our annual Toys for Tots campaign,” said Rogers. “The toy drive ends a little early this year on Dec. 14, which is a little easier. We need all kinds of new toys and they should be unwrapped. Toys for Tots only accepts new toys. We have really enjoyed doing this over the years, and the people here have been so generous. We’re trying to make this an annual thing and it’s been working very well. If we can put a smile on a kid’s face, that’s a good thing.”
This year, the Fire Department is also sponsoring a winter clothing drive in conjunction with the toy drive to benefit St. Luke’s Food Pantry.
Rogers said several firefighters helped to cook and serve Thanksgiving dinner to those at the Pantry this year, and the needs there, he said, were “eye opening.”
In response, the Department decided to begin collecting winter clothing.
He said they need new or lightly-used gloves, hats, coats, mittens or scarves. For the homeless, he said they are requesting new packages of wool socks.
The Department will continue collecting the winter clothing through December.
Anyone in need of toys from the Toys for Tots campaign should contact their social worker or pastor, who will put them in touch with the proper people.
Cross Country standout Yarid Deras may not talk much about her achievements, but the senior Chelsea High scholar-athlete has plenty of others to tout her accomplishments.
Aside from her coaches and Athletic Director Amanda Alpert, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) has also honored her.
On Nov. 14, at the MIAA Recognition Breakfast, Deras was named the Commonwealth Athletic Conference’s Female award recipient. It’s an honor she will add to being the upper division league MVP this year in Cross Country.
“It’s very surprising to me how fast four years have gone,” she said. “I didn’t start running until my freshman year. It was the first thing I really did my freshman year. I didn’t really think I would enjoy it. I enjoyed the team and not so much the running. The summer after my freshman year, something happened and I really learned to love the sport for what it is. I will definitely continue running after high school, maybe for a club team in college.”
Deras’s coach, Don Fay, had nothing but good things to say for his senior leader and league MVP.
“I have coached Yarid for the last four years,” he said. “She is one of the most impressive young ladies I have ever met. Extremely smart, hard-working and competitive. She never misses practice, and never complains. Yarid is a truly nice, genuine person.”
Alpert said Deras is soft-spoken and very humble, always the last person to talk about any of her achievements.
Deras said the team is small, with about eight girls, but they are very competitive. She said over the years she has learned to be a leader, but that may not always come vocally.
“I think I don’t really lead vocally,” she said. “I don’t say much, but I think I lead by example. I don’t do much with words, but I set the example for the younger runners on my team. That’s how they have come to respect me as a leader.”
Even though she was this year’s league MVP, Deras said the highlight of her Cross Country career was last year when the team won the league meet and went undefeated for the entire season. Her sophomore year, she also won the league MVP and turned in an excellent 21.04 time in the 5K.
As a senior, she still has outdoor track to look forward to, and the Chelsea girls are also very strong in that sport as well. She said she will run the one-mile and two-mile races for the team.
She is currently looking at several colleges, including Smith College and Providence College.
Woodlawn Cemetery has announced it will be holding its 18th annual Christmas Ecumenical Memorial Service in the chapel on Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m.
Francis J. LaRovere, III, esquire president and chief executive officer, in making the announcement said, “This is a difficult season for those who have lost a loved one; we hope that in offering this opportunity to share in this memorial service, the loss will be less painful.” LaRovere continued, “We are gratified with the response we have received form the public regarding this event and are pleased to be able to offer it each year during the holiday season.”
In addition to the service, Woodlawn will again light a memorial Christmas tree while the carolers sing traditional Christmas hymns. Reverend Thomas Coots and Father Vincent Gianni will celebrate the service.
Staring at 6:30 p.m., a seasonal music program will be performed by the Figgy Puddin Holiday Carolers. This acappella quartet of Dickensian carolers will perform traditional Christmas music in beautiful Victorian costumes.
This program is not recommended for children under 12 years old. Following the program, a collation will be held in Patton Memorial Hall. Gates will open at 6 p.m. seating is limited and may not be held for late arrivals, therefore; it is suggested you arrive early. For additional information please contact Paul M. Maniff, director of sales.
All are invited to attend the Chelsea Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration on Thursday, Nov. 29, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in Chelsea Square.
Presented by the City of Chelsea and the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, the celebration brings two hours of family-friendly activities including music, dance, and crafts to Chelsea Square.
“The Tree Lighting has been a long standing tradition in Chelsea,” said City Manager Thomas Ambrosino. “Last year’s event was a great success and we’re looking forward to bringing the community together again. Positive momentum is building and I’m pleased at this latest opportunity to draw more people to the area to shop, dine and gather with their neighbors.”
This year’s program includes performances by a choir from the Chelsea High School, Off Broadway Dance Studio, and the Back Bay Bell Ringers. Everyone will have a chance to support a good cause with crafts for sale from Empty Bowls. Decorate a gingerbread person to eat right away or bring home. Free refreshments will be provided by Chelsea Chamber of Commerce businesses. Bringing back a tradition of years past, Santa is scheduled to make a dramatic entrance courtesy of the Chelsea Fire Department.
“The Chamber is excited for this time of year,” said Chamber Acting President Joe Mahoney. “In addition to serving our member organizations and supporting the general commerce of Chelsea, we strive to bring positive programming the whole community can enjoy.”
The Tree Lighting Celebration is one of three events kicking off the winter holiday season. Saturday, Nov. 24 is Small Business Saturday presented by the Chamber and Chelsea Prospers, the City of Chelsea’s downtown initiative, a day to celebrate and support small, locally-owned businesses. The following Saturday, Dec. 1, is the Chamber’s annual Breakfast with Santa event at the Williams School.
A proposed $6,000 per year pay cut for City Councillors was handily defeated Monday night.
District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop proposed slashing councilors’ salaries from $14,000 to $8,000 annually as a way to begin a wider budget belt tightening across all City departments.
“The councillors all work very hard for the stipend they are given,” said Bishop. “This is not to indicate that we are not working hard. It’s not easy, and the job has become more demanding than it was 20 to 30 years ago.”
Rather, Bishop said the salary cut was needed as part of the Council taking a hard look at the City’s financial situation.
“The tax rate just goes up and up, and there is only one solution,” he said. “We have to cut the budget. Where do we start?”
While Bishop said there should be cuts across the board in all departments, the Council should start the process in its own chambers.
District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda argued that cutting the Council pay so drastically could limit the pool of candidates for office, noting the long hours, travel, and constituent services each councillor puts into the job.
Perlatonda said that councillors in Malden make $17,500 per year, and in neighboring Revere, the City Council salary is set at $18,000 per year and councillors there are eligible for health insurance and other benefits.
Councillors in Chelsea do not get any additional benefits.
The salary cut was defeated by a 9-2 vote, with only Council President Damali Vidot voting alongside Bishop.
In other Council business Monday night, several orders introduced by District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero were sent to committee for further discussion.
One order introduced by Recupero and District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez asked City Manager Tom Ambrosino to implement a policy where any company that does work in the city remove any equipment that is moveable and has rubber tires after work hours.
Recupero said that many parking spaces are lost in the city as large construction vehicles remain parked on city streets overnight.
“There’s no need to have all these big dump trucks in all these areas,” he said. “They are taking very precious parking spaces away from the people.”
Several councillors said they understood Recupero’s sentiment with the order, but felt it was too broadly written and could have a larger impact than he intended, if passed.
“I love to support anything that improves the lives of residents, but this is so broad,” said District 5 Councillor Judith Garcia. She said that if a more defined, revised version of the order came back before the Council, she would be happy to support it.
Bishop did attempt an amendment to the order on the floor, but Vidot and several other councillors said they were uncomfortable with the process of making policy on the fly. Councillor-At-large Leo Robinson moved to send the order to committee to get a better handle on costs and impacts of Recupero’s proposal.
The majority of the Council also recommended further study of another order introduced by Recupero. Recupero asked that when the City Manager hires new employees, that he implement the same procedures used to prove residential tax exemptions.
Several councillors pointed out that the order as proposed by Recupero was too limiting, since the residential tax exemption only applies to homeowners and not renters.
The Chelsea Collaborative hosted its annual Thanksgiving Dinner last Thursday at its headquarters at 318 Broadway.
Collaborative President Gladys Vega and her staff welcomed members of the community, who enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner and desserts. There was also a cotton candy station for children.
A large group of staff members and volunteers, led by Board President Rosalba Medina, helped serve the many food items to the guests in attendance.
But this year the celebration was a little different as the Collaborative announced the launch of the Immigrant Justice Bond Fund, in conjunction with EECO organization and the Episcopal City Mission that includes the St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea.
The fund is being set up to assist family members with people in detention centers to pay bonds established by immigration judges, with the purpose of reuniting them with their loved ones.
The Collaborative works hard with relatives who have come to its offices for assistance in locating their loved ones who have been detained by immigration agents. During the effort to locate and to be able to acquire the pro-bono services of lawyers, the Collaborative is faced with the obstacle of not having the necessary funds to help people out of detention.
It is for this reason that the Collaborative has joined forces with ECCO and Episcopal City Mission to find financial alternatives to pay bond. Chelsea Collaborative is honored to now be an organization that can count on these funds and get mothers and fathers out of detention centers.
Once the funds are used, payment agreements will be established so that these funds can always be available to other people in detention. After being released, people will be connected with legal and social resources to establish an individual plan for each family.
During the speaking program, Vega stated that the Collaborative was ready to assist residents with the agency’s many services and programs, and also to direct them to the appropriate groups for legal advice.
Yessenia Alfaro, deputy director at the Collaborative, felt the event, that drew a large turnout on a night that the first snowstorm of the season was approaching, was a huge success.
“It’s a blessing that so many people came here to tonight to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, and we’re grateful for our partnership with the ECCO organization and Episcopal City Mission in launching this important fund,” said Alfaro.
Several residents thanked Gladys Vega for her outstanding leadership of the Collaborative and the agency’s continuing diligence in helping all members of the community.