He scrimped and saved and clipped his vaccination coupons and somehow Public Health Director Marty Golightly and his team came up with enough vaccination doses to give first shots to any Abington educator who wanted one last week.
About 175 teachers and school staff received shots Thursday – the first day teachers were eligible under state regulations to receive one. Abington public health officials were able to piece together a sufficient enough supply after the state unexpectedly blessed the town with a small delivery of doses last week. This supply was added to a small cache left over following a couple of recent clinics for elderly residents in senior housing. Golightly said, for example, the state only sends out vaccine doses in batches of 100; Abington only needed 80 doses for one of its clinics. In addition, not every senior housing resident wanted a shot.
So Golightly and Abington’s vaccine team quickly put together a clinic to serve both teachers as well as a number of seniors on its waiting list. (In addition to Abington public schools teachers, educators from St. Bridget’s and Abington’s privately-owned early education centers also received an invite) It can’t be ignored that Abington’s teachers received their first dose of “sweet science juice” the same day that the Abington School Committee endorsed a plan to return to full-time, in-person learning.
Massachusetts teachers and superintendents had been lobbying for weeks to make teachers eligible for vaccination — especially after the state board of education voted to mandate schools (and thereby teachers and support staff) fully reopen by April 5. The Baker Administration relented only after President Joe Biden said educators should be eligible; but the governor said teachers would not receive a fast pass — that they would have to compete with the hundreds of thousands of Bay State residents 65+, or with two comorbidities, still seeking out scarce appointments. Last week the state’s firefighters union joined the fray, saying they’d be more than happy to staff clinics in their communities in order to vaccinate town teachers. The pressure hasn’t swayed the Baker Administration, but at least in Abington it’s no longer an issue.
[Editor’s note: The clinic, like all Abington clinics before it, went off without a hitch. No dose went unused. In related news, the Legislature is holding another oversight hearing this week to ask Gov. Baker why he discarded years of state-endorsed planning by local public health and emergency response officials and essentially privatized the vaccination process.]
TOWN ELECTIONS, PART 1
Selectmen voted unanimously last week to start holding elections at the Beaver Brook Elementary School. The town had cast ballots the past couple of years at Emerald Hall. But many town officials felt elections should take place in a publicly owned building. Plus, Town Manager Scott Lambiase has said the facility may be up for sale. Abington Middle/High School received negative marks from seniors because of the distance between the main parking areas and the gymnasium. Superintendent Peter Schafer said it also is a challenge to hold state and federal elections at the middle/high school with 1,200 students and staff in the building; and cancelling school (multiple times during a major state and federal election year) will just push the school year further into June. Beaver Brook was chosen because it has two gymnasiums and sufficient parking. Selectman Alex Bezanson said the decision could be revisited if the Annual Town Elections, which are scheduled for Saturday, April 24, reveal logistical problems.
TOWN ELECTIONS, PART 2
The ballot is set for the Annual Town Elections, which, as stated earlier, will be held on Saturday, April 24. There are only two competitive races: Timothy Chapin, Alexander Hagerty, and Christine Henrickson are competing for two seats on the board of selectmen. And Christopher Schultz, Melissa Pond, and Kevin Whalen are running for two seats on the board of health.
You can see the rest of the ballot here:
Anyone interested in running a write-in campaign can still do so.
“There outta be a law!” Well now is your chance to write one. The Board of Selectmen has opened the warrant for this year’s Annual Town Meeting, which will take place in May. Any registered voter can submit something for the warrant — including changes to town bylaws — by collecting the signatures of 10 other registered voters. Selectmen are not allowed to block citizen’s petitions from being taken up at the meeting.
REGIONAL 9-1-1 DISPATCH
Selectmen also have voted 4-1 to transfer all police dispatch operations over to the Holbrook Regional Emergency Communications Center. The center already handles Abington’s fire dispatch services, as well as all 9-1-1 calls made using a cell phone within the town’s borders. It also currently manages all emergency dispatch operations for Holbrook, Rockland, and Whitman. Selectman Kevin DiMarzio, who cast the lone no vote, said he’s heard from multiple officers in other towns about problems at the center, such as dispatching the wrong town to a call. Brady Thomas, president of the Abington patrolman’s union, told selectmen his members also heard and had some concerns about the regional dispatch center — but he did not say the union opposed the move. Fire Chief John Nuttall acknowledged there were a couple “bumps” early in the switch, but that overall he’s been very pleased with the relationship. Selectman Tim Chapin said he spoke directly with a couple Rockland police officers who also confirmed early hiccups but said those issues had been squared away. Currently Abington police dispatch only handles 9-1-1 calls made on land lines, which amount to 40 percent of total call volume. Police can withdraw from the regional dispatch center within six months of joining.
Board of health, 6 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes a discussion about the trash contact, and a COVID-19 update.
Abington/ Rockland Joint Board of Water Commissioners, 3:30 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes water availability discussions for 286 Spruce Street, a proposed rink at Union Point, and reports from the commissioners and superintendent.
Parks & Recreation Commission, 7 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes continued discussion about summer rec programs, an update on the Plymouth Street fields, and appointing a member to the Beaver Brook Playground Committee.
Housing authority, 6 p.m., via Zoom. Agenda includes a discussion about a financial assistance policy, approval of minutes, and a report from the chief executive.
Finance committee, 7 p.m., via Zoom. The agenda includes reviews of the IT, veterans services, library, and fire department budgets.