Finally, the annus horribilis, 2020, has Auld Lang Syne-d its tuchus out the door. Welcome, 2021!
Life in Abington (reference semi-intended) will awaken from its holiday slumber Monday, as town offices, schools, and businesses reopen for the first time in the new year. Even the Abington High winter varsity sports season kicks off this week (schedule below).
On to the news:
Back to school
Some of Abington’s school children return to the classroom Monday morning, as Abington’s schools regather after the holiday break in a hybrid learning model. The “Green” cohort will attend classes in-person Monday and Tuesday and the “Wave” cohort will be in-person on Thursday and Friday. Schools Superintendent Peter Schafer said in an email to parents and guardians that there continues to be no evidence of COVID-19 spread in the classrooms, but that status depends on students and staff continuing to follow social distancing and mask-wearing rules. Oh, and DON’T SEND YOUR KID TO SCHOOL IF THEY’RE SICK OR AWAITING TEST RESULTS.
Time to get tags for all dogs, old and new. The tags are available through the Town Clerk’s Office and cost $10. A current rabies vaccination certificate — including the date the vaccination expires — is required. Because Town Hall is currently closed to walk-in business, dog owners should call the Clerk’s Office at 781-982-2112 or email the Town Clerk: email@example.com before stopping by. All the information, a check, and a self-addressed, stamped envelope can also be left in the drop-off box outside Town Hall.
Fun Fact: there were 1,114 dogs licensed in Abington last year.
Small business grants:
Small businesses impacted by COVID-19 can now apply for a state grant up to $75,000 to help cover the costs of employees, rent, and outstanding business loans. The grants are part of a $688 million program launched by the state to help struggling small businesses, particularly, restaurants, bars, indoor recreation spots, and retail shops. More information is available at the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation website. Deadline to apply is January 15.
Abington residents interested in running for public office this spring – or running for re-election – can now pick up nomination papers at the Town Clerk’s Office. (Editor’s note: A lot of people have had a lot of opinions over the past year, so there should be no shortage of candidates, right?) Seats on the Board of Selectmen, School Committee, Planning Board, Board of Assessors, Board of Health, Housing Authority, Sewer Commission, Water Commission, and Trustees of the Public Library will be on the ballot during Town Elections on April 24, 2021.
Selectman Jim Connolly announced Friday we will not seek a second term on the board. Current Board Chairman Tim Chapin announced he will run again.
Nomination papers must be returned by Friday, March 8 at 5 p.m.
The Planning Board will meet via Zoom Monday night at 6 p.m., with a pair of public hearings on the docket. The public can link in to the meeting and will be able to give testimony. Glen LaPointe Inc., is asking to replace a single-family house at 286 Spruce St., with an 8-unit townhouse complex. And Rockwood Realty Trust wants permission to split the lot at 208 Centre Ave., in order to build an additional house on the plot closer to Island Grove Pond. In addition, the board will again discuss 662 Adams St., where a company bought a single-family home, removed the side of a hill, and built a truck storage yard without pulling any permits from the town. The company has been under a cease-and-desist order from the town for several months while it belatedly goes through the permitting process.
It’s only the first week in January, but it’s already budget season for the town’s departments. The School Committee on Tuesday will hold the first of what’s usually multiple public hearings on it’s proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget. However, the public will not be able to attend the hearing in-person due to COVID-19 limitations. Instead, they are being asked to email questions and comments to FY2022Budget@abingtonps.org
The meeting will be broadcast live on Abington Community Access & Media’s government channel (Comcast Ch. 15/ Verizon Ch. 24), and at www.abingtoncam.tv/government. The meeting commences at 6 p.m., but the committee will start in a closed-door executive session in order to discuss contract negotiations with the Abington Education Association. The public hearing portion is expected to start around 6:30 p.m.
According to publicly available documents, school department administrators are looking for a $26.8 million budget, which would represent a 5.8 percent increase over the current school year. The initial request would include money to cover contractually required pay and benefits, and unavoidable increases in busing and special education costs. It would also fund five new classroom teachers, a paraprofessional position, and a new technology support position. The school budget will likely undergo a number of revisions between Monday and the Annual Town Meeting this spring, with the bottom-line number ultimately dependent on negotiations between Superintendent Peter Schafer and Town Manager Scott Lambiase.
Board of Health:
Oh yea, the COVID-19 pandemis is still raging. The Board of Health will gather Monday at 6 p.m. via Zoom to discuss the town’s positive case numbers (145 active cases as of Saturday), plans to distribute vaccines, flu shots, and the town’s budget for trash pickup. The meeting will not be broadcast live, but will be available via Abington Community Access & Media afterwards.
Cutter takes over
Abington Police Deputy Chief Chris Cutter is now the de facto leader of the town’s constabulary. Cutter took over day-to-day management of the Police Department as of Dec. 31. Under terms of a deal reached with the town last summer, longtime Police Chief David Majenski is now using up accrued personal time ahead of his Aug. 31 retirement. Cutter remains the Deputy Chief during this time. According to the town charter, Town Manager Scott Lambiase will soon assemble a search committee consisting of three outside experts to find candidates for the position.
Abington News’ Most Read of 2020:
Us here at Abington News are very appreciative of everyone who’s clicked on one of our articles and shown us your support. Sometimes we’re surprised which articles catch fire and resonate with readers, and which ones don’t. Thanks to Google Analytics, we can tell you the Top 10 Most Read Articles of 2020:
10) COLUMN: Holding on to the joy and love
9) A blizzard of obstacles; Dairy Queen working out solutions amidst COVID-19
8) Majenski, town strike retirement deal
7) BREAKING: Schools going fully remote
6) 1 YEAR LATER: Memories, emotions remain strong
5) Who’s next? J’s Barbershop keeps legacy alive at longtime Wales Street location
4) A strikingly fun place to be
2) Bah Humbug! Popular Christmas display in jeopardy after jerks twice steal characters
1) Cannabis investor asking Abington to lift retail cap
In an impromptu Facebook contest over the weekend, we asked readers to guess the No. 1 article, with the winner receiving an Abington News mug.
Jim Connolly’s guess about a third marijuana shop coming to Abington came the closest so he wins the prize! Thank you to everyone who offered a guess!
Planning Board, 6 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes public hearings on projects proposed for 286 Spruce St., and 208 Centre Ave. Public is able to participate.
Board of Health, 6 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes discussions about COVID-10, vaccines, flu shot, and the town’s trash budget.
School Committee, 6 p.m., MS/HS Auditorium. Agenda includes a public hearing on the FY22 budget. The meeting will be broadcast live but the public may not attend in person.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Friday – Abington @ Carver, 6:30 p.m.
Friday – Carver @ Abington, 7 p.m.
Sunday – Abington @ Rockland, Rockland Ice Rink, 7:40 p.m.