Roberto Jiménez Rivera Announces Run for Chelsea School Committee At-Large

Chelsea’s vibrant and welcoming community is the reason my wife Sarah and I chose to buy our home here. We hope to have children soon and can’t wait to send them to Chelsea Public Schools. I recognize the incredible potential our community holds, and want to help all our children achieve their goals and become part of the next generation of leaders in our community and beyond. For that reason, I am announcing my candidacy for Chelsea School Committee At-Large. As of this week, my signatures have been certified and I am officially on the ballot for the 2019 municipal election. I am excited to continue meeting Chelsea residents as I get ready to become an advocate for our students!

After high school, I was fortunate to earn a scholarship that allowed me to graduate college with little debt. I left my island of Puerto Rico to attend the University of Michigan, and after getting Bachelor’s degrees in business and informatics and a Master’s degree in higher education, I moved to Massachusetts for work.

Today, as a college admissions officer, I work hard to find students whose lives will be transformed by a college education in the same way mine has been. I’m running for Chelsea School Committee because I want more of our students to graduate high school and obtain a college degree. I want our students to feel supported from PreK to 12 and imagine broader possibilities for their future. I hope to have your support with your vote on Nov. 5.

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Chelsea Reads Outdoors

IGNORED NO MORE : Children’s Librarian Katherine Palencia, of the Chelsea Public Library, reading 5 Little Ducks, by Denise Fleming to children in Chelsea Square. The Chelsea Public Library and Raising a Reader are partnering with Chelsea Prospers to liven up underutilized and ignored parks in the downtown for story-time hours with families. So far, its been a great success.

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Local Students Earn Academic Honors

Boston University Graduates Residents            

Boston University awarded academic degrees to 6,902 students in May 2019.

Receiving degrees were Richard Jean Baptiste, Master of Laws in Graduate Taxation; Jorge W. Baptista, Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences; Sara Beqo, Bachelor of Science in Health Science, Cum Laude; Jhonatan Perea Piedrahita, Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Spec. in Cell Biology, Molecular Biology & Genetics; Raymond Novaes, Master of Science in Global Marketing Management; Ada G. Avila, Master of Social Work in Social Work; Makieya M. Kamara, Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership; Mathew C. Renik, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Business Administration and Management; Lindsay B. Zimnoch, Master of Theological Studies in Biblical and Historical Studies.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. Consisting of 16 schools and colleges, BU offers students more than 250 programs of study in science and engineering, social science and humanities, health science, the arts, and other professional disciplines, along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes integral to the University’s research and teaching mission. With more than 33,000 students, BU is the fourth-largest private university in the country and a member of the American Association of Universities (AAU), a nonprofit association of 62 of North America’s leading research-intensive institutions.

Local Students Receive Bachelor’s Degrees from UMass Amherst

Approximately 5,500 students received bachelor’s degrees in over 100 majors at the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Undergraduate Commencement on May 10, 2019 at the McGuirk Alumni Stadium.

Below is a list of students from your area who earned a degree.

Chelsea

Nicholas James Estabrook

Faisal Nasimi

Tony Nguyen

David Michael Sklodowska-Johnson

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Gov. Baker’s Bold Transportation Proposal

We were talking the other day with a young man who has been a teacher at Chelsea High School for the past couple of years. During our discussion, we were surprised to learn that he lives on the South Shore (Hull) from where he commutes to Chelsea High every day by means of public transportation.

He takes the MBTA commuter boat to Boston and then walks to the nearby Blue Line, taking that to Airport Station. From there, he gets on the new Silver Line 3, the dedicated-lane bus line that takes him to Chelsea.

It seemed like quite an odyssey — and it certainly is — but he said his total commuting time is about an hour each way, which is less time than it would take him to drive it, not to mention far less stressful.

We were thinking about the Chelsea teacher’s use of multiple modes of public transportation — sort of an alternative, real-life version of the comedy classic movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles — in the context of the $18 billion proposal put forward last week by the administration of Gov. Charlie Baker and Lieut. Gov. Karen Polito to improve the transportation infrastructure in our state, with the stated goals of improving our roads, bridges, and public transit systems.

We do not even remotely pretend to be experts in the realm of transportation. However, what is clear is that the Baker-Polito proposal, in terms of the level and scope of the proposed investment, is (in Baker’s words), ‚Äúunprecedented and historic.”

We have no doubt that there will be many — who actually are experts in the realm of transportation — who will weigh in with various proposals of their own in addition to those that are contained in the Baker-Polito bill.

We also have no doubt that the plans and ideas that will be put forward by others will be considered carefully by the governor and his staff. After five years of the Baker-Polito administration, it has become clear that their type of leadership is not of the “my way or the highway” (no pun intended) style. We anticipate that the administration and the legislature will work together to craft a bill that will improve the daily lives for all residents of the Commonwealth.

For far too long, transportation issues have been like that adage about the weather: Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. In New York City for example, the sorry state of the subways is at a critical point — and yet the mayor and governor cannot agree on a way to fix it. In California, talk of a high-speed train from San Francisco to Los Angeles appears to have reached a dead end (again, no pun intended).

By contrast, the $18 billion proposal put forward by the Baker-Polito administration last week represents a huge step forward in fixing many of the problems that have come to light in recent years in our state.

Investments in our transportation infrastructure — especially in this era of low interest rates — will reap huge dividends in the years ahead, more than offsetting the costs. We look forward to the final transportation bill and to the day when Massachusetts will be seen as a national leader in solving public transportation issues.

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Second Night Market to Feature Two Bands, DJ and Children’s’ Activities

The second Chelsea Night Market will take place this Saturday evening, July 13, in the parking lot of Luther Place – bringing a wide range of food, vendors and live music to an enlivened downtown.

The first Night Market seized upon momentum built by the Pupusa Fiesta in April, and coordinators believe they’ll have another great crowd to bring foot traffic and excitement after hours.

This month, DJ Tempo Suave will return, and there will also be two live bands performing.

Sus will perform a variety of 70s rock and funk tunes, while The Group Activity looks to bring something new and exciting to the table – and one might find themselves in the act by the end of the night.

The band describes its act as, “The band blends folk, blues, and reggae to bring you a well-planned and often-improvised musical experience that relies on you for co-creation.”

The Chelsea Public Library will be on hand to coordinate children’s’ activities this time around, and organizers are excited to bring that to the Market.

We’re excited to be joined for all the upcoming markets by teams from the

Food vendors are:

•Eloti with the summer’s best corn on the cob served up Latino style.

•North East of the Border with a variety of Mexican specialties.

•Chung Wah, the downtown’s own Asian restaurant

•C&C Artisan Olive Oil with high quality imported Olive Oil, who will offering samples of their varieties to help you choose a bottle to take home.

Craft vendors are:

•Omis World presented by Chelsea’s own Noemi Torres with thrift shop items to buy or trade. In that same vein All Planets is also selling vintage clothing while Channel 94 sells clothes specifically from the 90s.

•Aldea Maya, selling beaded hummingbirds made by women in the Lake Atitlán region of Guatemala.

•Crafts and fine art from CBenjamin Art, Jeremy Veldhuis Illustration and Pan + Scan Illustration. Items from these vendors includes art prints, shirts, coasters, stickers, paintings, postcards, and bags.

•Pamper yourself with handmade soap from Unwind Soaps and soy candles by Wicked Sisters.

Finally, local artist Nirvanna Lildharrie leads an interactive art showcase. Meanwhile, outreach and engagement activities will be led by representatives from the Appalachian Mountain Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, and Phoenix Charter Academy.

The July Night Market runs from 7-10 p.m. on Luther Place (behind the Chelsea Walk).

Looking ahead to the August market, organizers are celebrating all things human powered on wheels. Bring a skateboard, bicycle, tricycle, scooter, or wheelchair. We’re anticipating some jaw-dropping performances by trick riders. MassBike will be on hand for free bike tune ups and simple repairs.

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Councillors Say It’s Time to Put the Brakes on Water, Sewer Increases

Several City Councillors are lining up in opposition to water and sewer rate hikes proposed by the Department of Public Works, urging residents to attend a public hearing on the new rates in July.

In a letter to the Council, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino stated there will be rate increases of just under 3 percent for water and sewer customers who use less than 2,500 cubic feet of water. Under the City’s tiered approach to water and sewer rates, customers who use over that amount will see a 5 percent increase.

“With this increase, the average water and sewer bill in Chelsea (assuming annual usage of 120 hundred cubic feet) will be $1,828.80,” Ambrosino stated.

The rates will cover approved expenditures of $8,709,470 for water and $13,326,503 for sewer for Fiscal Year 2020, according to the City Manager.

But with surpluses totaling about $7 million in the water and sewer enterprise accounts, several councillors questioned the need for rate increases on Monday night.

“I don’t know why we need any increase in the water and sewer rates,” said District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop. “I don’t understand why you have to go up at all with $7 million sitting there, that should be sufficient.”

Bishop said he would be attending the DPW public hearing on the rates, tentatively scheduled for July 16 to voice his displeasure, and said he hopes to see other councillors there as well.

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero, never one to mince words, said homeowners and renters will end up getting shafted by the rate increases.

“This is killing the poor people who live here,” he said. “This is not only going to drive the homeowners out, this is going to drive the tenants out, too. This is a bad thing to go up this much.

“I like living here, I don’t want to be driven out.”

District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said he agreed with Recupero.

“The water bills keep going up, and the taxes keep going up,” he said. “We don’t get any relief for the city of Chelsea.”

District 2 Councillor Luis Tejada said one of the main reasons he became involved in local politics was because of rising water and tax rates.

“Bigger government isn’t going to make it better in the city,” he said. “We need to put the brakes on.”

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Celebrate Our Rivers in June

By: Julia Blatt, Executive Director, Massachusetts Rivers Alliance

At long last, a recent weekend presented one of those pristine days that remind us here in Massachusetts why we endure those winters. With warm spring weather finally here, many of us hit the water for the first time this year, visiting local rivers. With more than 10,000 miles of rivers traversing the state, we had many choices. Sail boats blossomed on the Charles. Rowers huffed and puffed on the Mystic. Fishing rods sprouted along the Swift. Bikers and kayakers explored the Sudbury. For many people, the beautiful day meant a chance to spend on, in and around the rivers of Massachusetts.

Fittingly, June is National Rivers Month, a 30-day gala celebrating our waterways. Whether you kayak past important Revolutionary War sites on the Concord River, hike over the Bridge of Flowers on the Deerfield, draw water for local crops from the Connecticut, or depend on drinking water from the Merrimack, National Rivers Month is a time to celebrate the gains we have made in protecting these important public recreational, economic and historic assets.

National Rivers Month, however, is also a time to reflect on what remains to be accomplished. The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, the voice for Massachusetts rivers, is a statewide environmental advocacy non-profit that helps those whose lives are touched by these Massachusetts waterways (and we would argue, that’s all of us). Consider, for example, pending legislation regarding sewage overflows around the state. Very old stormwater and wastewater systems serving municipalities in the state have what are called “combined sewage overflow” (CSO) systems. Through these CSOs, stormwater and wastewater systems are physically interconnected. At times of high precipitation, stormwater run-off goes into the wastewater system and overwhelms the water treatment plants. To prevent these backups, wastewater – the sewage from your homes and businesses – is dumped directly into Massachusetts rivers. Approximately 200 of these CSO connections exist throughout the state. In Massachusetts, an estimated three billion gallons of raw sewage gets dumped into the state’s rivers each year. Swimmers, canoeists, and pets exposed to CSO contaminants are vulnerable to gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, eye or ear infections, skin rashes, hepatitis and other diseases. Children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems are especially vulnerable. Wildlife are also adversely affected by CSO pollutants which lead to higher water temperatures, increased turbidity, toxins and reduced oxygen levels in the water.

Everyone recognizes the problem. But it takes money to fix it, more money than is now available. Over the past two decades, Massachusetts communities have spent more than $1 billion to eliminate CSOs. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, however, that an additional $4.2 billion is needed to finish the job.

In addition to supporting efforts to increase state and federal funding to eliminate CSOs, Mass Rivers is championing a simple sewage notification bill now pending before the Massachusetts legislature. Disturbingly, there is currently no state requirement to notify the public about the presence of sewage in the water when these discharges occur.

The legislation supported by Mass Rivers would require the operator of a CSO to notify local boards of health, in addition to the state Department of Public Health, within two hours after a sewage spill begins. In addition, the public could sign up to receive these notifications, by text, e-mail, phone call or tweet. The state Department of Environmental Protection would be required to centralize all sewage spill data and make it available on the internet. Signage would be required at all public access points (for boating, fishing, beaches) near CSO outfalls as well.

National Rivers Month is a time to shake off those indoor blues and enjoy Massachusetts’

bounty of rivers. Whether you go to look for great blue herons, to fish for trout, to take your family and the dog on an afternoon paddling adventure, or simply to seek calm and quiet, our state’s rivers are there for you. To preserve these friends, and to ensure the safety of those who use our rivers, National Rivers Month should also be a time for towns and cities to insist that our legislators enact a requirement that when the waters are despoiled with sewage spills, we know about it.

Julia Blatt is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, the voice of Massachusetts rivers. The Alliance is a statewide organization of 77 environmental organizations in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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Encore Debuted Neighborhood Runner Shuttle Monday in Chelsea, Everett

The new shuttle service throughout Chelsea and Everett has launched, and dubbed the Neighborhood Runner, the service began operating on Monday, June 3.

“We started service on Monday, June 3, at 5 a.m.,” said Jim Folk, director of Transportation for Encore Boston Harbor. “Now, it is running 24/7, 365 days a year. It starts its route at the Chelsea Market Basket every 20 minutes on the 20…I really think it’s going to be a successful route. It’s great for our employees and guests, and it’s great for Everett because it gives them a new connection to the Silver Line for the airport, Seaport and even South Station.”

The new Neighborhood Runner stops at Market Basket (Chelsea), then goes through Everett to Everett Square (outside Braza’s), then to the GE site on Air Force Road, and finally to the Encore resort.

Employees reported to the resort on Monday, and Folk said the Runner has become popular already with the new employees looking to get to work from the neighborhoods, or to catch transit lines that run near the new stops.

“Believe it or not, we have picked up some passengers even though we haven’t advertised the Runner yet to the public,” Folk said. “Our employees are aware of it and many are actually taking it to and from the resort. We had a good amount of people on Monday that used it. We expect more and more people as time goes on. I think it will really be successful.”

The 26-passenger Runner is made by Grech, and has a lot of extras.

The interior has leather seating and large cupholders, along with plenty of space. It is 100 percent ADA compliant and also has video screens for entertainment.

Folk said right now they are sticking to the four stops on the route, but he said they aren’t ruling out expanding the stops in Everett and Chelsea once the resort opens.

“We think it’s a great, great alternative for the folks in Everett and our employees and guests coming to Encore,” he said.

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Chelsea School Committee to Choose Superintendent Tonight

The Chelsea School Committee is poised to offer a position to one of the three superintendent finalists tonight, May 9, at a special meeting that is expected to conclude the search process.

In formal terms, the Committee can only offer the position to their favored candidate. That candidate has to accept the offer, and then a contract has to be negotiated and ratified before the matter is completely official.

The three candidates include:

•Anthony Parker, Weston High School principal.

•Ligia Noriega-Murphy, assistant superintendent of secondary schools in Boston Public Schools.

•Almudena Abeyta, currently the assistant superintendent of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment for the Somerville Public Schools.

The three candidates have been through a whirlwind tour of the City over the last two weeks, engaging in community forums and School Committee interviews.

The final interview will take place on Thursday evening, with the Committee convening to make the decision afterward.

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City Looking to Take Water & Sewer Work In-house, Save $350k Annually

The City could soon be running its own Water and Sewer Department as part of the Department of Public Works.

Currently, Chelsea outsources those water, sewer, and drainage services to R.H. White Construction Company as part of a 10-year contract set to expire on July 21, 2022.

City Manager Thomas Ambrosino is asking the City Council to consider an early termination of that contract, allowing the City to get a jump on establishing its own Water and Sewer Division under the DPW. While there will be initial start-up costs and ongoing personnel costs, Ambrosino said Chelsea will ultimately save about $350,000 per year.

Ambrosino is requesting the City pay an early termination fee for the contract with R.H. White in order to get the City Water and Sewer division operable by July of 2020.

“The DPW leadership and I recommend that we meet in subcommittee to go over (an informational spreadsheet) and work plan in detail,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council. “This will allow the Council to understand fully why we believe we can perform these services not only cheaper, but at a higher quality, and with more resources, than we currently achieve with the RH White annual contract.”

The upfront costs of the water and sewer transition prior to July of 2020 include the purchase of new vehicles and equipment and the hiring of seven employees to make sure the department is prepared to take full control of the water and sewer system on the date.

The total additional Fiscal Year 2020 costs are just over $1.5 million, according to the City Manager.

“The capital costs are obvious one-time expenditures,” said Ambrosino. “But the added personnel costs in FY20 are also one-time expenses. All of these personnel costs will be covered by the $1.784 million saved on the annual RH White contract starting in FY21 when the contract is terminated.”

Ambrosino recommended that all the one-time costs be paid for through the retained earnings in the City’s Water and Sewer Enterprise System, the equivalent of free cash in the general government budget.

•In other business at Monday night’s City Council meeting, Ambrosino asked the Council to consider a plan for municipal electric aggregation.

“Because municipal electric aggregation has the potential of providing more stable and lower prices and utilizing more renewable energy sources, over 140 municipalities in Massachusetts have taken advantage of this program,” Ambrosino said.

•The City Manager also told the council that the City will seek competitive bids for Chelsea towing work beginning in Fiscal Year 2020, which begins on July 1.

Although Ambrosino said towing work is exempt from state bidding laws, the City will seek bids for the work in response to a recent City Council order by District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero. “There is some work required to prepare a (request for proposals) and evaluate responses,” said Ambrosino. “For this reason, the Purchasing Agent believes he will have a new contract for towing services in place no later than September 1, 2019.”

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