Six Februarys ago, the Greater Boston area received five feet of snow in just 28 days. It resulted in the biggest disruption to everyday life caused by acts of God since the Blizzard of ‘78.
A week in to February 2021 and Mother Nature looks a bit feisty. A few inches on Feb. 1, a fresh couple inches Sunday, a couple more projected for Tuesday, and some flurries on Friday. There’s little chance of a repeat of the Winter of 2015 in terms of amounts, but it’s a good reminder that we are in the heart of a New England winter.
Signs continue to sprout that the COVID-19 pandemic is waning. Vaccine clinics continue (although we still haven’t heard a good explanation why municipal boards of health are capped at 100 vaccine doses per week, but private businesses can receive more). In fact, Abington did not receive any vaccine doses this week so there will be no clinics.
From the Board of Health’s Facebook page:
“We requested 3600 Moderna and a large order of Pfizer, but were not approved for either. We are disappointed and frustrated just like all residents should be.
We will continue to advocate on behalf of our residents for vaccine orders so that we can continue to safely and effectively inoculate our residents.”
[Editor’s note: Seriously, what the heck? Gov. Baker last week actually said this: “One of our big issues here in Massachusetts is [the federal government] gave us way more vaccine . . . than there were actually arms available to vaccinate.” Talk about a major disconnect.]
Abington seniors over the age of 75 should still continue to get on wait lists by either calling the Abington Board of Health (781-982-2119), Abington Senior Center (781-982-2145), or any of the locations listed on the state’s vaccination website
In another piece of good news, it appears the two main vaccines — the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines — remain reasonably effective against the more contagious variant of COVID-19 that’s spreading. That is when the doses are available.
In addition, Gov. Baker announced that as of this morning, businesses can now operate at 40 percent of capacity (The number of customers had been capped at 25 percent the past couple months as positive cases spiked over the holidays).
This means Abington’s flight schools, museums, hotel lobbies, movie theatres, and indoor golf facilities can start to allow in more customers. So can the town’s gyms/health clubs, bowling alleys, libraries, churches, nail/hair salons, and retail stores.
However, restrictions limiting gathering sizes to 10 persons indoors and 25 persons outdoors remain in place.
In case you’ve missed it, and have a hankering for more public health talk, the Abington Board of Health has started a new show on Abington Community Access & Media called Health Department Roundtable. It typically features Board of Health Chairman Chris Schultz, Health Agent Marty Golightly, and other town health officials, unshackled from the rigors of Robert’s Rules of Order, taking a deeper dive into public health issues.
Here are the episodes:
EPISODE 4 – Featuring microbiologist Tom Boulay
If things are indeed starting to get better, the first thing on many parents’ minds is when their kids can start to spend more time learning in-person.
Abington remains in a hybrid model with students attending classes two days a week, and learning from home three days a week. However, some nearby schools and districts are making plans to ramp back up to full-time in-person learning, including Hanover, East Bridgewater, and Duxbury.
A couple of the town Facebook groups lit up last week wondering when this would happen in Abington. Schools Superintendent Peter Schafer answered many of these questions during a Community Chat interview. Bottom line: Abington students likely aren’t going back into the classrooms five days a week anytime soon.
Marijuana in Abington
Town Manager Scott Lambiase tonight will present selectmen with a plan on how to handle additional requests for retail cannabis permits. Town Meeting last fall lifted the cap on the number of retail operations allowed in Abington from two to five. Since then, two groups have formally filed letters of interest and want to start negotiating Host Community Agreements, which spell out the terms under which they’ll be allowed to operate. Lambiase said he’s also received calls of interest from a couple other organizations. He is requesting that a member of the board be appointed to work with him to review the agreements. The final agreements would then come back to the Board of Selectmen for an official vote. Lambiase said the applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis.
The agreements have become increasingly boilerplate as the Cannabis Control Commission started cracking down on some communities who used the documents to leverage concessions – such as payments and donations – that go beyond, in the commission’s opinion, what’s needed to help the community support the industry. But the agreements still include details such as operating hours and conditions, and the amount the town will collect in revenue sharing payments, on top of the 3 percent local sales tax. So far, two shops have signed Host Community Agreements in Abington: Bud’s Goods and Provisions, which will be located at 1540 Bedford Street, and Green Harbor Dispensary, which will be located at 1410 Bedford Street.
The local permitting process includes a required community meeting to address any concerns and questions the public may have, followed by a site plan review with the Planning Board.
The interior buildout of Bud’s is nearing completion. Alez Mazin, the company’s CEO, told Abington News he is eyeing a May 1 open date, depending on receiving final licensing from the state commission. Green Harbor is still looking to secure needed permits from the conservation commission.
When operational, the two retail marijuana shops could generate a couple hundred thousand dollars of tax revenue annually for Abington. That’s the conservative estimate. If both shops hit their projected sales goals of $8 million, Abington could receive nearly $500,000 annually in local sales taxes.
Lambiase said he is considering whether to include any tax revenue from marijuana sales in next year’s municipal budget. “They’re far enough along it’s something I would consider,” he said.
Those interested in running for municipal office can still contact the Town Clerk’s Office about picking up nomination papers (Town Hall is currently closed to the public but departments remain open and working). Town Clerk Leanne Adams can be reached by phone at (781) 982-2112, or via email at LMAdams@abingtonma.gov
Board of Selectmen, 6:30 p.m., via Zoom. The agenda includes a moment of silence for former Abington Schools Superintendent Dr. John Aherne, an operational update from DPW Director John Stone, and a discussion on moving police dispatch operations to the regional Holbrook facility.