Fire Chief Len Albanese had his contract renewed for another three years by City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
Albanese came to the City in 2016 from North Providence after a search committee chose several finalists, including some internal candidates. His contract was set to expire in June 2019, and Ambrosino said he is very pleased with the Chief’s work over the past two years.
“The chief and I began discussions about an extension, and we recently agreed on this new three-year term,” wrote Ambrosino. “I have been extremely satisfied with Chief Albanese’s leadership and management of the Fire Department since his arrival in 2016. I believe this extension is fully justified.”
Albanese, a resident of Charlestown, will get a pay increase of 3 percent in the first year of his contract. In the following two year, upon a review by Ambrosino, he is entitled to up to 3 percent each year as well.
The Chief will get 25 days of vacation per year, and can carry over five weeks of unused vacation time from one year to another. He may not, however, carry more than 10 week maximum of vacation time.
He also gets 15 sick days per the contract, as well as an automobile.
City Manager Tom Ambrosino said he would love to have a new contract and return to Chelsea so he can continue the work he started more than three years ago.
The announcement came on the eve of the beginning of his annual evaluation by a committee of the City Council – a process that will start Aug. 27.
Ambrosino is under contract for four years, and his contract runs out in July 2019, but the Council is required to notify him by January if they want him to return.
He’s hoping they do.
“I do hope they ask me to come back,” he said. “I have a great interest in continuing my work here. I love this city and love being City Manager here…The people here are wonderful. The challenges are interesting and it’s a vibrant and dynamic city with an exciting future ahead of it. I can’t think of a better place to be City Manager or CEO.”
Ambrosino signed his contract on July 20, 2015 in a four-year deal. Upon coming into the position, one of his first goals was to begin revamping the downtown business district, which was something that former City Manager Jay Ash had defined as a next focal point before he left.
Ambrosino said he feels like he only just started that work, and while a lot of planning and groundwork is complete, he’d like to see things completed.
“I feel like I’ve just started here, particularly with the downtown and our waterfront,” he said. “There’s a lot I’d like to see through to completion. When I was mayor in Revere, most of what I did there didn’t come to be until my last term in office and my last year there. It takes a long time to put your mark on a city.”
He is particularly impressed with the collaboration between the community and stakeholders like MGH, North Suffolk, Roca, the Collaborative, GreenRoots and so many more.
“I really feel that’s unique here and the City is lucky to have organizations like it does,” he said. “These are really tremendous community-based groups.”
All of that comes right alongside the upcoming City Manager evaluation process.
That has run a little slowly this time around. Though it is supposed to start in April, the Council appointed a committee but hasn’t had meetings yet. They will kick that off on Aug. 27, Council President Damali Vidot said.
The Committee is made up of Councillors Vidot, Judith Garcia, Bob Bishop, Leo Robinson, and Calvin Brown. They will evaluate Ambrosino on at least 11 points of his performance over the last year.
“It’s been tricky with our summer recess, but I’m confident we’ll have it wrapped up by October,” said Vidot.
She said a sticking point for her in any upcoming contract talks with Ambrosino – and in his evaluation – will be his residency.
Ambrosino said he cannot relocate to Chelsea due to personal circumstances that existed before he took the City Manager job.
Vidot said she feels strongly that the City Manager should live in Chelsea, but she also said that the previous Council didn’t require him to live here, so it wouldn’t be right to enforce it now.
“However, that shouldn’t be the norm moving forward,” she said.
The Residence Inn by Marriott on Maple Street has petitioned the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to expand their 128-room hotel by another 68 rooms.
The expansion would take place in the existing surface lot to the north of the hotel. The idea would be to create a 200-room dual branded hotel, which is a current direction in the lodging industry.
The expansion would add 28,234 sq. ft. to the existing structure. The majority of the hotel is extended stay rooms now, but there would be 12 non-extended stay rooms created during the expansion, if approved.
A special permit is required for parking because 118 spaces are required, and only 86 are provided. A Site Plan Review process is also required.
The matter has been in front of the ZBA already for a preliminary hearing, and a vote on the the project is expected at this month’s meeting.
Chelsea High track star Stephanie Simons became the first female athlete to participate in the National High School championship meet last weekend in North Carolina, doing the city proud as she took 15th in the high jump and 27th
CHS Sophomore track star Stephanie Simon in a promotional photo from the New Balance High School National Championships last weekend at North Carolina A&T University.Simon was the first female athlete in CHS history to go to the nationals, and she competed in two events. She placed 15th out of 54 in the high jump.
in the triple jump.
Simon, only a sophomore, has starred for the track team over the past year, along with her sister, Martine, who is a senior. Stephanie distanced herself from the pack in qualifying earlier this year to compete at the New Balance High School National Championships last weekend at North Carolina A&T University.
In the high jump, the talented sophomore finished 15th out of 54 competitors from all over the United States.
Meanwhile, in the triple jump, she placed 27th out of 44 competitors.
“The sky is the future for this talented student athlete – who is just a sophomore,” said Coach Mark Martineau. “She is already looking forward to next year and even better performances.”
Simon has already set several school records and placed high at the Division 1 State Meet earlier this year.
Care Dimensions, the largest provider of hospice and palliative care services in Massachusetts, celebrated National Nurses Week, May 6 -12 by honoring its nurses, many of whom are board certified in hospice and palliative care
. Care Dimensions’ new President & CEO, Patricia Ahern, a 41-year veteran in the field of nursing, said, “The capacity to explain complicated medical information is something that everyone values about nurses and the confidence that people have in the technical skills of nurses is remarkable. More importantly, nurses are gifted with the ability to discern the worry and apprehension that folks can’t quite get into words when they are feeling vulnerable and isolated.”
Erin Barker, RN., a Care Dimensions nurse from Chelsea was recognized for her professionalism, leadership and commitment to excellence in patient care at Care Dimensions:
Since the founding in 1978, nurses have helped to make the time of advanced illness dignified and meaningful for patients and their families. We welcome new members to our team of caring, compassionate nurses. Visit www.CareDimensions.org/careers to learn more.
About Care Dimensions
Making a Difference in Countless Lives for 40 years
Care Dimensions is the largest hospice and palliative care provider to adults and children in Massachusetts. As a non-profit, community-based leader in advanced illness care, Care Dimensions provides comprehensive hospice, palliative care, grief support and teaching programs in more than 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts. Celebrating 40 years of service, Care Dimensions was founded in 1978 as Hospice of the North Shore, and cares for patients wherever they live – in their homes, in skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities, in hospitals, or at our two inpatient hospice facilities (the new Care Dimension Hospice House in Lincoln, and the Kaplan Family Hospice House in Danvers). To learn more about Care Dimensions or to view a tour of our hospice houses, please visit www.CareDimensions.org.
The state Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announced several changes to the Mystic/Tobin Bridge repair project, including the one-month closure of the Everett Avenue on-ramp May 7.
MassDOT announced that since several projects in the area are coming underway – including the Alford Street Bridge, the North Washington Street Bridge, and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge in Boston – they have adjusted the Tobin work to not close a lane permanently on the lower deck northbound.
This schedule adjustment means that MassDOT will no longer be implementing a permanent lane closure on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from April 22 through November of this year but will instead be adjusting the width of the travel lanes in this area and utilizing off-peak lane closures. Three full lanes of travel will be in place on the bridge this year during peak commute hours.
The full list of impacts this construction season is now as follows:
Temporary off-peak lane closures on the lower deck (Route 1 northbound) from now through November 2018.
Temporary off-peak lane closures on the upper deck (Route 1 southbound) from now through November 2018.
Everett Avenue on-ramp closed at all times for one-month period beginning on May 7.
Beacon Street off-ramp closed at all times for a two-month period beginning in summer 2018.
Fourth Street off-ramp closed for a one-month period in 2019.
No more than one ramp will be closed at any given time throughout the duration of the project.
“We are investing historic levels of funding into our highway transportation system and we are seeking to do so in ways that minimize impacts on the travel public and our local communities,” said Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “Our construction teams have worked hard to optimize the schedule of operations to better accommodate travel throughout this area. We continue to encourage members of the public to learn about upcoming traffic impacts and use the appropriate tools to make the best decisions on traveling in order to reach their destinations in an efficient manner.”
This $41.6 million maintenance project involves repairing a section of the deck of the Tobin Bridge which carries traffic between the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston and Chelsea. Work is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2020 with lane closures and traffic impacts occurring during each of the 2018, 2019, and 2020 construction seasons.
Work will include steel repairs to the upper and lower decks, concrete deck work on the lower deck, followed by waterproofing, resurfacing, and installing pavement markings. Operations will also consist of utility installation, installing curbing, paving, constructing a new parking lot under the bridge between Williams Street and Third Street.
Six birds of prey that are native to Chelsea were presented during the Chelsea Public Library’s Wingmasters Bird Exhibit on April 7. Jim Parks and his partner, Julie Collier, rescue, rehabilitate, and release raptors such as eagles and osprey. The falcons, owls, and hawk displayed were born in the wild, but due to permanent injury are non-releasable; and so Parks and Collier care for them permanently.
“Ninety percent of the time the birds we rescue are releasable. They’re resilient,” said Parks. “Sometimes they are injured in such a way that their injuries can’t be fixed by any doctor.”
Parks and Collier visit 200 schools, museums, and libraries each year to educate the public about these remarkable animals. They work closely with Tufts Wildlife Clinic in North Grafton where veterinarians help Parks and Collier free most birds back into the wild.
“One of the biggest problems these birds deal with is their reputation. They’re often thought of as being dangerous,” explained Parks. “It’s good that we have birds of prey. These birds do us a huge favor by controlling the populations we want nothing to do with.”
Parks presented a four-ounce male, and a six-ounce female American kestrel falcon with cataracts. The female’s larger build is excellent for protecting her young; and her brown-shaded feathers keep her camouflaged.
“Falcons are built for speed because they hunt other birds. This is an incredibly difficult lifestyle,” Parks said. “They get high above the earth, close their wings and drop. They accelerate and capture a bird below. They can outfly every other bird in the world.”
The male falcon was picked up off the ground at three-weeks-old and hand fed. He bonded with a human and will never understand what it is like to be a wild falcon. Male falcons, built for hunting, are considered the most colorful bird of prey in North America.
“Unfortunately, this is a bird about to be added to the government’s endangered species list,” said Parks. “This is a bird running out of a place to live.”
Seven species of hawks live in Massachusetts, with the most common being the red-tailed hawk. The female red-tailed hawk that Parks exhibited was once a mile-high flyer. At 32-years-old, the six and a half-pound bird is the oldest bird that Parks and Collier have ever rescued. Her wing was shattered when she was hit by a car while hunting a rodent on the grassy median of Rt. 128 on Thanksgiving Day 13 years ago.
“A circling hawk is showing off his red tail in the sky as a way of telling other birds to go away,” described Parks. “When they’re hunting they stand in trees, keep their bodies still, and dart out feet first after their prey. Eagles and hawks have the best eyesight.”
Parks also showed an eastern screech owl, the most common owl living around us, a barred own, New England’s second largest owl, and the great horned owl, New England’s largest owl. Owls are one of the slowest and most silent flying birds in the world. They hide during the day, and hunt and nap at night; but because of their incredible camouflage often go unseen. Owls can also see eight times better at night than humans can, and use their acute hearing to locate prey.
“They are masters of deception. They know how to blend in,” said Parks. “No other bird looks like this. We stand upright, have round faces, and have eyes on the front, and so do owls.”
Parks explained that most birds are injured in their first year of life while they are still learning. He has been working with birds for 24 years; and prior to that worked at an engineering firm in Boston.
“As a photographer, I was always interested in the natural world,” explained Parks, who grew up in Lynn. “I liked all aspects of nature growing up.”
With decreasing habitats and an increasing human population, Parks hopes that more corporations will develop properties to accommodate wildlife.
“Impact injuries are sad because there are many man-made obstacles now in the world that cause them. Julie and I do what we do to give birds a second chance to live,” said Parks. “If you want to help, donate to an organization that buys land. If you don’t have a place to release a species, they won’t know where to go. Many animals cannot adapt, and that’s when you see animals fall off the map.”
Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA), an academic community health-system serving Everett and Boston’s metro-north region, is teaming up with the North Suffolk Mental Health Association (NSMHA) to help get individuals struggling with addiction connected to treatment by piloting a new recovery-coach program at CHA Everett Hospital. Two coaches from NSMHA are now available to patients who struggle with addiction or present with mental health issues in the Emergency Department, inpatient psychiatry and CHA’s med-surg units.
The total number of estimated and confirmed opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts, through the first nine months of 2017, was over 1,400 – a 10-percent reduction from the same period in 2016. At the same time, from 2012 – 2016, over 70 people in Everett died from opioid misuse.
The pilot program places recovery coaches in direct contact with patients, on a voluntary basis, following an overdose reversal with naloxone, the lifesaving anti-opioid medication. The aim is to link individuals to treatment and recovery services locally. Other patients may present with medical conditions related to substance use and the recovery coach can use this opportunity to engage the patient in treatment.
“A recovery coach is a person who helps remove personal and environmental obstacles to recovery, noted Kim Hanton, director of addiction services at the North Suffolk Mental Health Association.”
“Coaches serve as personal guides and mentors supporting individual and family recovery where support networks are limited. NSMHA has incorporated this model throughout the addiction division since 2013. We are thrilled to partner with CHA sharing each of our expertise to build a continuum of support which begins at the most vulnerable time – entrance into the emergency department”
CHA’s chief of emergency medicine, Benjamin Milligan, MD, and a group of providers in the Emergency Department, including Josh Mularella, DO, Emily Adams, PA, and Christine Trotta, PA, ran the Boston Marathon last year and dollars raised through their efforts helped to fund the pilot initiative.
NSMHA’s recovery coaches are trained and certified professionals who guide or mentor patients seeking recovery support from alcohol and other drug addictions. Recovery coaches do not provide clinical services, instead they offer the critical support or link to the services and resources that a person needs to achieve and sustain recovery.
“We are excited to have recovery coaches embedded at CHA Everett Hospital and believe they will strengthen the hospital’s role as a link in patient’s long-term ‘chain of recovery,’” commented Melisa Lai- Becker, MD, site chief of emergency medicine at CHA Everett Hospital. “The ability to partner a patient immediately with a peer who is able to help them navigate to the next link in the chain is invaluable. We are optimistic that the program will have a lasting impact and we may expand the initiative in the future providing a model for a potential statewide network of peer recovery coaches.”
Immediate support when a crisis occurs is vital for effective engagement in recovery and treatment. When a patient arrives at the CHA Everett Hospital Emergency Department he/she is offered a NSMHA recovery coach during peak hours (Friday, Saturday and Sunday).
Forty-year-old Lily was a vibrant, loving mother who was an organist at her church, and known for her delicious baked goods. Privately, she suffered from serious depression, self- medicating herself with alcohol. Lily’s daughter, Secretary of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, vividly remembers caring for her as a teenager, watching her mother withdraw from life before her passing.
“I’m not ashamed that the illness runs in my family. My job is to channel that adolescent anger into a professional commitment to treat addiction and mental illnesses, and not stigmatize people with chronic conditions,” said Sudders, “So often the way into treatment for people with addictions and mental illnesses is through the criminal justice system.”
Sudders shared her personal experiences with city leaders and business owners during “The Opioid Epidemic: Our Businesses & Workplaces,” on Feb. 7 at the Comfort Inn & Suites, Revere. Presented by the Revere, Chelsea, and Winthrop Chambers of Commerce, and the North Suffolk Public Health Collaborative, the breakfast raised awareness about substance abuse in the workplace.
“Addiction is a disease. It is not a lack of will power. Addictions are very powerful,” explained Sudders. “We are in the middle of an epidemic in Massachusetts. This is very important to us. We are in this with you.”
Sudders recommended that employees be aware of which workers have addictions, are on the way to addiction, or have family members with addictions. These employees may often call in sick or use vacation time, but could be caring for a sick loved one.
“We want to make sure that people we work with have access to treatment and support,” Sudders said. “We are trying to expand access to treatment.”
Over the next five years, the Commonwealth and Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration will invest more than $200 million into Medicaid to increase access to residential recovery homes, treatment medications, and recovery coaches.
“I’m grateful for the connection between these three, very-close communities,” said Sudders. “They have strong legislative leaderships and great community partnerships.”
According to a December 2017 Center for Disease Control report, the opioid crises has been linked to a two-year drop in life expectancy for the second consecutive year; with opioids being the largest contributor of unintentional injuries due to overdose.
“There is a glimmer of hope,” Sudders said. “But there is still a lot of suffering and work that we need to do together.”
Although six lives are lost each day in Massachusetts from overdoses, there has been a decrease in opioid-related deaths as compared to last year. The Commonwealth has noticed a significant decline in opioid prescriptions, and a 200-percent increase in non-fatal overdoses.
“Businesses are also on the front line, just like first responders and health care workers,” said Alexander Walley, MD, Boston Medical Center. “Throughout Massachusetts people are faced with this in their own families, employees, customers, and public spaces.”
Employers were encouraged to foster a supportive atmosphere and offer resources and benefits to employees. Business owners were recommended to implement clear policies regarding leaves of absence and time off, and to seek professional advice when confronted with substance abuse-related issues.
“People in recovery can be great employees, and employers can help,” said Dr. Walley, director of the Addiction Medicine Fellowship Program. “Opioid use disorder is a chronic condition of the brain. Treatment works and people recover. That’s an important message.”
Explore the world of watercolors inside the Guild of Boston Artists gallery on Newbury Street, where the New England Watercolor Society (NEWS) is holding its annual Signature Members Show through March 4.
Paul McMahan from Chelsea with his painting of Preston’s Bridge
On display are a variety of styles ranging from hyperrealist to abstract, from soulful portraits to detailed images of machinery to sweeping light-struck landscapes.
The exhibit offers an exceptional opportunity for anybody to come in and appreciate the high degree of artistry and technical mastery attainable in this challenging medium.
“Watercolor is an amazingly diverse medium,” said Wendy Hale, president of NEWS and a Back Bay resident. “The palette extends from richly saturated colors to muted tones. Our members’ styles are equally varied, from the traditional Andrew Wyeth to today’s modern-edgy.”
NEWS was founded in 1885 as the Boston Watercolor Society and became the New England Watercolor Society in 1980. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious watercolor societies in America.
Some early members included American art as Thomas Allen, F. Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and more.
The Society has grown to over 400 members from all six New England states, of which nearly 200 are signature members.
The mission of the Society is to promote the advancement of aqua media arts throughout New England and to bring exceptional paintings using both traditional and innovative techniques to a wider public.
NEWS sponsors two juried shows each year. This show features the work of the Society’s signature members. The other show is open to all water-media artists in New England (in odd-numbered years) and throughout North America (in even-numbered years).
To become a signature member, a New England-based artist must be juried into four NEWS shows within a 10-year period, including at least one North American show.
“The one thing that is unique about the Signature Members Show is that it is always held in Boston every year and is always in February,” said Hale. “People can count on it.”
This year’s exhibition judge is Frederick C. Graff, a distinguished member of the American Watercolor Society. Graff had the hard job of determining the top 10 winners out of 79 pieces. He said he determined the winners based on their impact, composition and originality.
“With watercolor you’re not going to have a perfect painting,” said Graff. “So you take the best and see what they did with the composition and with their artistic ability.”
But what it really comes down to, Graff said, “Is what is the first thing that sticks out to you when you first walk into the room? For me, I usually know right away if I think something is on the top of the awards list.”
In connection with the exhibitions, the Society sponsors receptions and award presentations, gallery talks, demonstrations, and workshops led by nationally recognized water media experts.
Community artists and other interested supporters of NEWS can join as associate members. Signature and associate members are eligible for reduced fees for workshops for the regional and North American shows.
The Signature Members Show reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 – 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public. All of the artwork on display is for sale.
New England Watercolor Society Signature Members Show, Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, through March 4, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays 12-4 p.m. Painting demonstrations Sundays 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11, 18, and 25, and gallery talks Saturdays 1p.m. February 17 and 24 and March 3.