The surf is up for Chelsea’s Deedee
Hernandez, who might be the first and only Chelsea High valedictorian that
doubles as a surfer, a trumpet player and Ivy League student.
Hernandez has been very active in the school and community over the last four years, but being at the top of her class wasn’t something she thought would happen.
Valedictorian Degree Hernandez with Salutatorian Jocelyn Poste after graduation on June 9
“Honestly, I wasn’t aspiring for the
valedictorian of the class,” she said. “My only goal was just to get into a
college. That was a goal since I entered middle school. My mother always told
us that we had to go to college. That was always a goal we were reaching for.”
And not only did she reach it, but she
grabbed onto a great school in the Ivy League Dartmouth College in New
Hernandez, 18, said she was drawn to the rural landscape – being interested in the outdoors and hiking – but was also impressed with the alumni network.
“I was really drawn to the alumni network
they have,” she said. “A lot of them come back to the college and have
relationships and share their experiences with students. I thought that was
very unique. The college is very small and it felt like a family and people
At Dartmouth, Hernandez hopes to major in
environmental science – something she was drawn to by her swim coach, Traverse
Robinette, at the Jordan Boys & Girls Club.
In addition to swimming twice at the
National Championships in Florida, Hernandez and several other Chelsea kids
joined Robinette’s surf club. When surfing in Connecticut and Rhode Island, the
students learned about the various animals in the ocean.
“My swim coach was passionate about the
environment and pointed out the animals we saw,” she said. “I did research on
it and was drawn to the idea of preserving these animals. I love nature and
being outside, so it’s something I’m very interested in.”
In addition to those pursuits, Hernandez is
well known for playing the trumpet in the band – having been the designated
performer of ‘Taps’ for the City and the Soldiers’ Home for four years.
She said she started playing in fifth grade
when her former band teacher, Mr. Thomas, picked up a trumpet and played
“I heard him play that and I knew I had to
play the trumpet,” she said.
She does plan to pursue the trumpet in
college and hopes to play in their orchestra.
Hernandez has gone to Chelsea schools her
entire life, starting at the Silber ELC, moving on to the Kelly School, then to
the Clark Avenue Middle.
Hernandez credits her mother, Ana Moscoso,
for always pushing her to reach higher.
“My mother was always the type of person to
asked me what I would do next after I had accomplished something,” she said.
“I’ve found that to be useful because you see what else you’re capable of doing
and don’t get satisfied with one thing.”
Hernandez has two
brothers, Mike, 16, at Chelsea High; and Akanni, 10.
Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo this
week unveiled the details of the plan he announced last February that will
provide $1.3 billion to combat the ever-increasing effects of climate change.
Among the major aspects of the plan will be the awarding of grants to cities
and towns across the state to encourage green energy initiatives and climate
change resiliency efforts, which are particularly needed for our vulnerable
The grant program, called GreenWorks, would
be funded by $1 billion in bonds and paid out over a decade. The program, to be
run by the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, will
allow local governments to seek grants for a variety of projects that will
focus on climate change preparedness and clean energy production in order to
reduce carbon emissions.
The bill also would set aside an additional
$295 million in state spending for energy infrastructure, including $100
million for municipal microgrid systems to increase the resiliency of the
electricity grid and $125 million for electric vehicles in municipal fleets and
regional transit authorities.
There no longer is any dispute that climate
change is occurring and that our coastal communities, including the City of
Boston, are ill-prepared at the present time to address the twin threats of
rising sea levels and more powerful storms.
Speaker DeLeo’s GreenWorks initiative
represents a major step forward in protecting our vulnerable coastline, while
at the same time creating jobs in the green energy and clean tech industries.
Given the urgency
and pressing need to address the issue of climate change, which is occurring at
an ever-accelerating pace, we urge our state senators to join with Speaker
DeLeo and the Mass. House in presenting a bill for Gov. Charlie Baker’s
signature by the end of this year.
Every few weeks — or even more often, it
seems — we learn of some new, looming catastrophe for our planet because of
the combined effects of climate change and the degradation of our environment
by human activity.
Everyone agrees that the climate is
changing, and that it will have far-reaching consequences that we only can
imagine. So too, the activity by the seven billion persons with whom we share
the earth is destroying the natural world at an unprecedented and
So it was with some degree of relief that we
read the annual report by the organization Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, which
informed us that our major metropolitan beaches never have been cleaner (in
terms of water pollution) and safer for recreational swimming and other
As lifelong residents of this area, we
always are amazed that the beaches with the cleanest water every year are the M
Street Beach and the City Point Beach in South Boston — go figure — but we’re
sure there is a logical and scientific-based reason for why these two beaches
have achieved ratings of 100-percent for the past six years.
However, almost all of our metropolitan
beaches, from Nantasket Beach on the South Shore to Revere and Winthrop beaches
on the north, improved their ratings in 2018 compared to their six-year
running-average. Winthrop Beach, for example, attained a 100-percent rating in
2018 compared to a 97-percent rate for the previous five years.
There are many factors that contribute to a
beach’s water quality. There are natural effects, most notably the amount of
rainfall over the course of a season or over a short time period. The diligence
of government agencies at the state and local levels in assuring that sewer
connections are working as intended are a vital part of the equation.
We as individuals also play a key role in
assuring that our water stays clean by making sure we don’t dispose of our
trash and hazardous waste into our waterways, by using the pump-out services
for our boats, and by picking-up after our dogs.
The clean and healthy beaches that we enjoy
today are the product of three decades of hard work, effort, and great expense
by officials and the residents of the Boston Metro area. However, we cannot
rest on our laurels. We must commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes in the
years ahead to ensure that our region’s greatest resource — our beautiful
coastline — remains clean and useable both for ourselves and for generations
So we wish to thank Save the Harbor/Save the Bay for issuing their
annual report card on the state of our beaches — and for giving us some good
news, for a change, about our environment.
Suffolk County District Attorney announces community meeting in Chelsea on June 19
Rachael Rollins, the dynamic district attorney who became the first female elected to the esteemed Suffolk County position last November, was the guest speaker at the Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Wednesday at the Holiday Inn/Boston Logan Airport Chelsea.
Rollins proved to be as dynamic a speaker as
she is a public official.
“The people that are most impacted
negatively by the criminal justice system – it has nothing to do with race and
almost everything to do with poverty,” Rollins told the luncheon audience. “If
you can’t afford somebody who can navigate fluently through the criminal
justice system – you are at a significant disadvantage.
“I don’t care what hue your skin is – if you
have no money, the system does not work well for you, period, end of story,”
In well-received remarks, Rollins spoke about
the DA’s mission as the chief law enforcement office of Suffolk County. She
addressed serious issues such as the opioid crisis. She talked about the
marijuana industry and law enforcement’s efforts in the field since
recreational marijuana became legal in the state.
Chamber President Joseph Mahoney noted
Rollins’ achievements as a Division 1 college athlete at UMass/Amherst. While
at UMass, she challenged school leaders to increase the number of athletic
scholarships given to female students.
Rollins also used the forum to make a major
announcement: she will hold a community meeting on June 19 at 6 p.m. at the
Chelsea Senior Center.
It is the second such quarterly meeting in
the county following the inaugural session in Roxbury. It will be in the style of
a state of the union/state of the city, followed by a question-and-answer
Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson and Chelsea
Police Community Engagement Specialist Dan Cortez praised Rollins’ initiative
to host a community meeting in the city.
“A community meeting on a regular basis is a
great idea,” said Robinson, an early supporter of Rollins in her campaign for
office. “It follows through on her pledge to be accessible and accountable to
our residents. I expect to see a tremendous turnout of people welcoming her to
Chelsea on June 19 and learning about the important role the DA’s Office has in
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes was a guest at
the luncheon while Roca Assistant Director Jason Owens, who provided an
overview of Roca’s efforts during brief remarks, led a delegation from the
Rollins called on Kyes to elaborate on the
challenges facing police officers in regard to the new marijuana laws.
“We have individuals in the state, police
officers in the state who are known as drug recognition experts (DREs),” said
Kyes. “There are only about 200 DREs out of 17,000 police officers, including
the State Police. At the end of the day, when an officer sees somebody and
they’re unsteady on their feet, bloodshot eyes – they could potentially get
probable cause to make an arrest, but then without that DRE to do an added
evaluation, when it goes to court, these individuals aren’t getting convicted.
“Right now, some judges will allow the
testimony pf a DRE and some will not,” concluded Kyes.
Rollins’ remarks were videotaped by Chelsea
Community Cable Television. Executive Director Robert Bradley said the luncheon
will begin airing on the cable television station.
Chelsea Fire Chief Leonard A. Albanese Jr., Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes, State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey and Suffolk District Attorney Rachel Rollins announced the cause of the May 3 fire at 48 Watts St., a 2-family home in Chelsea, was electrical.
A quick-moving fire on Watts and Highland Streets last Friday, May 3, claimed the life of one 37-year-old man and caused extensive damage. Investigators said there were major problems with smoke detectors in the home and first-responders reported not hearing any alarms upon arrival.
The fire took the life of an adult man
believed to be a relative of the occupants of 48 Watts St. The victim was
identified as Milton Lopez, 37.
In the dense neighborhood, the fire spread
to rear of 107-109 Highland Street.
The fire originated in a void space above
the suspended ceiling of an enclosed porch. Investigators determined that an
electrical event took place in the area of origin where there were numerous
electrical circuits. Just before the fire was discovered, residents reported
that the lights in the first floor kitchen, the room next to the porch, went
off. The victim was found on the enclosed porch.
Chelsea fire investigators, Chelsea
detectives, and State Police assigned to both the Office of the State Fire
Marshal and to the Office of Suffolk District Attorney Rachel Rollins jointly
investigated this fire. The Chelsea Inspectional Services Department, State
Police Crime Scene Services and the Department of Fire Services’ Code
Compliance Unit provided assistance.
The home had a mixture of working, missing
and disconnected smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms and heat detectors. All
of the alarms found in the home, whether they were disconnected, lying on a
shelf, or actually functional, had expired and were more than 10 years old.
First-arriving firefighters report not hearing any alarms sounding.
State Fire Marshal Ostroskey said, “May is
Electrical Safety Month and electrical fires are the second leading cause of
fire deaths in Massachusetts behind smoking. It’s important to have a licensed
electrician check out your system every ten years to prevent problems.”
information on electrical fire safety go to:
When Jose Barriga was working as a translator at an area hospital, he routinely saw a cycle of poor health from his Latino patients that seemed to be caused by the food they ate.
Jose Barriga (center) discusses the Malanga with Bessie Pacheco and Alicia Castillo on Monday during the Cocinas Saludables Seminar program in Chelsea this March. Participants in the two-week class meet at the Chelsea Collaborative and travel to Stop & Compare Supermarket in Bellingham Square to discuss healthier alternatives in cooking traditional Latino dishes. The class continues on April 1 where participants will cook a traditional meal using the new techniques and ingredients.
Many of them new to the country, or having
come as adults, food and cooking and daily life was far different than in their
native countries. Yet many still cooked and ate in the same ways that they did
when they lived at home.
Doctors suggesting that patients give up their traditional food was a non-starter, even if they agreed to it at the hospital.
Above, Grisalda Valesquez examines a package of garlic. Below, Leslie Garcia examining Goya brown rice with Grisalda Valesquez.
At the same time, Barriga saw that something did need to change, but maybe not altogether.
That’s what bore the idea of the Cocinas
Saludables program in Chelsea, which is in its second year and is a partnership
with the Cambridge Food Lab, Chelsea Collaborative, and Healthy Chelsea.
“What I realized when I was interpreting is
there is a big problem in communication between health care providers and the
Latino community,” he said. “A doctor will say you need to change how you eat,
usually suggesting to cook brown rice or eat other foods. They have the best
interests, but the language is not effective. I was seeing a cycle. I saw
mothers with diabetes bringing children who were overweight. The issues they
were having in large part was due to the foods they were eating or their
cooking techniques. This is a huge, huge problem from a public health
perspective in the Latino community.”
What Barriga and the other partners are
trying to do is create the best of both worlds.
They’re looking to have their arroz con
habichuelas, and eat them too.
Anais Caraballo of the Collaborative said
they are excited to host the class for a second year, and said she sees a great
value in educating people on how to cook traditional foods in a more healthy
“I think it’s very important coming from a
Puerto Rican background,” she said. “It’s a great program to have the community
become more aware of healthier ways to eat and cook, but at the same time still
be able to enjoy cultural foods that are an ingrained part of their lives.”
On Monday, Barriga and a class of 10 people
met in the Collaborative to talk about foods and cooking and how people thought
about food. That was followed up with a trip to Stop & Compare – a loyal
partner to the program. There, those in the class walked through the aisles
with Barriga to look at ingredients in their traditional foods.
Armed with materials from their class, and
the advice of Barriga, they looked at the ingredients they usually buy, and
considered alternatives that were healthier. In that sense, they didn’t have to
give up the foods that meant so much to them, and they could also ensure they
were eating healthy.
Barriga said he customizes the class
according to the culture. If there are a lot of Caribbean cultures in the class
– such as Puerto Ricans – he will discuss different ways of cooking aside from
frying – as well as using healthier oils when cooking the food.
“When it comes to the Caribbean community,
it’s talking about fried foods, which is a constant in the Caribbean diet,” he
said. “My proposal isn’t to be 100 percent healthy options. If you come and say
you have to change everything you eat, people won’t do it. I give them a couple
of changes that will help their overall health in the long run. I try to be
realistic. For the Caribbean cultures, I tell them to avoid fried foods
sometimes, and try to sauté a little more so they use less oil.”
Another issue is that many people who have
just come from outside the United States arrive and find food cheaper and more
accessible. For example, a family in El Salvador may only have had meat one
time a week. However, in the U.S. they find they can have it seven days a week,
and they do that.
“If you grow up poor and food was a problem,
then you come to the U.S. and food is plentiful,” he said.
That is also true when it comes to activity.
Many people had a similar diet in their home
countries, but they often had to walk or bicycle many miles each day just to do
simple tasks. That active lifestyle and different climate helped to regulate
Once here in Chelsea, they find themselves
far less active and in a climate that is inhospitable to them six months of the
“I call that the food-culture clash,” he
said. “They have no cars in many Latin American countries. They walk or they
bike. People come here and they get overweight because it’s very comfortable.
They drive and there is a lack of physical activity, which is a major symptom
of being overweight.”
Next Monday, students in the Cocinas class
will gather the remainder of their ingredients and cook up traditional foods
with a healthy twist.
A retail marijuana shop on Webster Avenue
near the Home Depot is one step closer to opening in Chelsea.
Tuesday night, the Planning Board approved a
site plan for a 10,000 square foot retail marijuana facility at 121 Webster
Ave. by The Western Front, LLC.
The pot shop still needs additional
approvals from the state’s Cannabis Control Commission as well as the local
Zoning and Licensing Boards before it can officially open its doors. But local
officials have praised the plans for the facility, which is filing for a
license to operate under a state economic empowerment provision.
The economic empowerment provision helps
provide for minority populations that have faced the brunt of marijuana
prohibition punishments achieve social and economic justice, according to
Timothy Flaherty, the attorney representing the Western Front team.
The Western Front’s board includes a number
of Massachusetts business and community leaders who have addressed social
justice issues in the past, including board chair Marvin Gilmore.
Gilmore has a long and storied history in
the Boston area and beyond. He co-founded Unity Bank and Trust, was a major
real estate developer in the Southwest Corridor of Boston, owned the storied
Western Front nightclub in Cambridge, and was awarded the Legion of Honor,
among other awards, for helping storm the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
Economic empowerment applications get
priority for consideration at the Cannabis Control Commission, Flaherty said.
As for the proposed site at 121 Webster
Ave., Flaherty said as a stand-alone building in an area with adequate parking,
is an optimal site for a retail marijuana facility.
All marijuana products will be shipped in
pre-packaged from a wholesaler, and the facility will feature a host of
security measures, from cameras the Chelsea Police can immediately access to a
what Flaherty called a mind-boggling number of alarms.
Chelsea police officials were satisfied with
the security measures for the building, according to John DePriest, the City’s
Inside the shop, plans also call for a
future workforce development area and a work bar where consumers can gather
before entering the retail sales floor.
The sales area will be like “a cross between
a jewelry store and a spa,” said Flaherty.
The facility will be open from 9 a.m. to 9
p.m., seven days per week. There will be a total of about 25 employees, with
eight to 10 working at any given time.
“The goal is to hire 100 percent Chelsea
residents,” said Flaherty.
All those employees will be trained and
certified by the Cannabis Control Commission.
“I’m impressed by the group before us and
their commitment to social justice,” said Council President Damali Vidot.
District 3 City
Councillor Joe Perlatonda also said he was very impressed with the organization
and happy that they are committed to hiring Chelsea residents.
A major $9.5 million improvement project for
the one-mile stretch of Broadway from City Hall Avenue to the Revere line could
get underway by the spring of 2022.
On Thursday, March 21, the Massachusetts
Department of Transportation held a public hearing on the preliminary design
plans for the roadway reconstruction. Although the state officials and
engineers outnumbered the residents in attendance for the meeting, there was a
good amount of information provided on the shape, scope, and timeline of the
road reconstruction project.
“We are finishing the 25 percent design
stage,” said Larry Cash, the MassDOT project manager. “After this hearing, we
will be advancing to the final design stage.”
The purpose of the project is to increase
safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles along the Broadway corridor
and intersecting streets in the city, according to Weston and Sampson engineer
Larry Keegan. He said there will be new turn lanes, additional vehicle stacking
room, and traffic signals at the project intersections allowing for the safer
turning of vehicles and improved safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. The
plans also include dedicated bicycle lanes through the one-mile stretch.
“There have been 97 collisions over a
three-year period” along that portion of Broadway,” said Keegan. “That is above
the state average.”
Keegan pointed to poor intersection layout,
outdated traffic signals, and deficient pedestrian, bicycle, and public transit
accommodations as being among the chief culprits for the high number of
accidents. All of those issues will be addressed during the roadway
reconstruction, he said.
In addition to the repaving of the road
itself, a major component of the work includes new sidewalks and improved
Sidewalk improvements will mean the removal
of some trees.
“The existing trees are old and unhealthy,
lifting up the sidewalks themselves so that they are not ADA (Americans with
Disabilities Act) compliant,” said Keegan.
Other areas that will get major upgrades are
the MBTA bus stops along the route. Keegan noted that there is deterioration of
pavement and pavement markings from years of use along the mile of Broadway,
and that the deterioration is especially pronounced at the bus stops.
The proposed project will require permanent
and temporary easements from adjacent property owners, but Cash said those
easements are either temporary to allow for construction work along the road,
or are for the installation or minor regrading of sidewalks.
As with any project that involves ripping up
pavement and sidewalks to make way for improvements, there will be traffic and
construction impacts once work gets underway.
But Keegan said the plan is to keep
disruptions to a minimum and traffic flowing as easily as possible.
“No detours are anticipated at this time,”
During the day, the plan is to have a single
lane of traffic closed and have the traffic managed by police. At night, there
will be two-way traffic, according to Keegan. Access to schools, businesses,
and residences will be kept open as much as possible, he added.
Chelsea resident John Gunning asked if the
bus stops would remain in the current locations and if there would be
improvements to the bus shelters.
Keegan said engineers will be working with
the MBTA during the next phase of design to address some of those issues.
“The T wants certain things and the city
wants certain things (for the bus stops),” he said. “We are looking at
different options at this point.”
Dunning said he would like to see fresh, new
bus shelters and stops that will complement the surrounding area and completed
Cash said design,
permitting, and right of way acquisition for the project will continue through
2019 and 2020 with construction anticipated to start in the spring of 2022.
The City Council has asked that City Manager
Tom Ambrosino use the next month to figure out some new parking strategies for
the city instead of spending a hefty sum on a major Parking Study.
Ambrosino said the Council had instructed
him to put out a bid for a parking study late last year, but there was only one
bidder on the project. That bid did not include the whole city and was more
On Monday, the Council held a Committee
meeting to discuss the next steps, steps that don’t include spending such a sum
on a study.
“The Council at the end of the meeting on
Monday wanted to explore the idea of internal remediation before proceeding
with an expensive outside study,” he said.
Ambrosino said he and his administration
will spend the next month “brainstorming” some ideas and recommendations to
help with the parking bottleneck in many areas of the City – including the
Ambrosino said they do see it as a problem
in several aspects of the city.
“There’s no question it’s a problem in the
city,” he said. “There are way too many cars and not enough parking spaces.
There is no simple solution to that problem. Long-time, we do have an agreement
as part of the Tobin Bridge Viaduct project to add 135 spaces only a short walk
from downtown. That might help a little bit, but that’s three years away.”
One solution he will not suggest is to
reduce parking requirements for new development. While many might think that is
counter to solving a parking problem, many planners now believe that one
solution to reducing the numbers of cars is to build developments without
That won’t be a solution he suggests again,
after having had lower parking requirements rejected by the Council only two
“I don’t see the Council reducing parking any
time soon,” he said. “It’s not something I’m going to re-submit.”
The City might have to put up with traffic
backups for nearly three years on the Chelsea Viaduct, but there will be a
mitigation package for the City when the dust all settles.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they have
received a mitigation package to go along with the Viaduct project, which
starts on April 1.
“We got what I thought was a reasonable
mitigation package from MassDOT,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect, but at the end
of the day it was reasonable.”
One of the major improvements will be two
new, fully constructed public parking lots under the Tobin curves when the
project is done.
Ambrosino said it will include 135 public
parking spaces just a block from downtown Chelsea, something he hopes will help
alleviate some of the parking crunch in the area.
There will also be parking constructed under
the curves at Carter Street too.
One key piece of the puzzle that will remain
as part of the package is the Arlington Street onramp by the Williams School.
MassDOT had toyed with the idea of eliminating that ramp in early designs, but
pushback from the community seemed to keep that idea at bay.
Other pieces of mitigation include:
•A robust snow fence for noise mitigation.
•Money for community engagement to inform everyone
of the project over the three years.
•Repaving Fourth Street.
•lighting improvements under the Bridge after
the project is completed.