Friday, May 15, 2009
Swine flu, Town Meetings top news from surrounding towns
The following news items were extracted from material online.
As of press time there have been no cases of H1N1 swine flu reported in Carlisle, according to Board of Health Administrative Agent Linda Fantasia. However, cases have been confirmed in many neighboring communities (see Table 1):
Acton – Last week the first confirmed case of swine flu in the town involved an Acton-Boxborough Regional High School student, who possibly contracted it during a recent visit to Mexico. The school sent a letter home notifying parents. The youth has since fully recovered.(“Swine flu case confirmed at A-B,” May 6, wickedlocal.com)
Bedford – A nine-year-old boy at Lane Elementary School tested positive for swine flu on May 1 and was hospitalized for about a week. School Superintendent Maureen LaCroix said, “I spoke with the Board of Health and we don’t find it necessary to close down the schools at this time.” School officials sent a letter home to parents explaining the situation, and school custodians were making sure the Bedford schools were thoroughly cleaned. (“Officials confirm three swine flu cases,” May 6, wickedlocal.com)
Billerica – On May 4 a four-year-old was diagnosed with swine flu. He returned home after a brief hospitalization and schools in Billerica remained open. (“Swine flu case found in Billerica,” May 4, wickedlocal.com)
Chelmsford – On May 5 a case of swine flu was confirmed in a child who had no “travel history” or connection with anyone who had recently traveled to Mexico. Public schools remained open. (“Updated: Swine flu confirmed in Chelmsford,” May 5, wickedlocal.com)
Harvard – One case of swine flu has been reported in an elementary student. The school was closed briefly and cleaned thoroughly with disinfectant. (“H1N1 virus case confirmed at elementary school, May 8, harvardpress.com)
Lincoln – A middle school student contracted swine flu over April vacation. After the school learned of the diagnosis on Friday, May 1, it notified parents and thoroughly cleaned the school building the next day. The school reopened for classes as usual the following Monday. The student has recovered and returned to school. (“Student returns to school after case of swine flu,” May 5, wickedlocal.com)
Littleton – School Superintendent Diane Bemis announced on Friday, May 8 that a middle school student had contracted swine flu. The child and a sibling were temporarily staying at home from school. (“H1N1 flu turns up in Littleton middle school student,” May 9, wickedlocal.com)
Lowell – On May 9 the tally of swine flu cases in Lowell stood at five. Two cases were reported at Tyngboro’s Notre Dame Academy, and one case in Nashua, New Hampshire. (“5th case of swine flu hits Lowell, May 9, Lowellsun.com)
On May 13 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported a total of 115 confirmed cases in the state. The distribution by age shows most who contract the disease are school children. See Table 2:
Lexington – Town Meeting voted to purchase eight acres of Busa Farm land off Lowell Street for roughly $4.2 million in Community Preservation Act funds. The future use of the property has not been determined, but under consideration is use for an athletic field, community gardens, a park and affordable housing. (“Town Meeting notes, May 7, wickedlocal.com)
Westford – On Saturday, May 9, Town Meeting voted an FY10 town operating budget of $87.7 million and approved construction projects for the Cameron Senior Center and Town Hall expansion. (“Westford voters approve Town Hall and Cameron Center renovations, May 9, wickedlocal.com)
Billerica – Struggling with declining state aid and local revenue, Billerica has closed a $766,000 budget shortfall by freezing salaries and employee attrition, avoiding layoffs for town employees. Thirteen job vacancies are being left unfilled, including: nine DPW positions, assistant town manager, a senior registrar’s office clerk, a police officer and one firefighter position. The only salary increases expected next year for both teachers and other town employees will be contracted step increases.
Town Manager Bill Williams suggests one way to cut expenses might be to privatize services such as dispatchers, school food service, janitorial and landscaping. He said, “I think that has to be on the table if revenues keep going down.”
While discussing the lean FY10 budget, Billerica Town Meeting discussed overtime payments. Roughly 8% of the $7 million police budget is dedicated to overtime pay, while the Fire Department budget includes $500,000 for overtime, in large part because fire department personnel work two 24-hour shifts per week. Both fire and police budgets were approved.
Billerica’s ambulance service includes a dozen full-time staff, one ambulance on duty round the clock and a second vehicle available for use 12 hours a day.
Lexington – The new Department of Public Works (DPW) facility on Bedford Street has attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver status. Green features include a “gray” water system and roof runoff collection system to lower water usage, as well as “permeable paved surfaces” to reduce runoff. DPW Director William Hadley and architect Michael Lawrence of HKT Architects will discuss the design at a public presentation on Tuesday, June 9. (“That new building doesn’t LOOK green…,” May 9, wickedlocal.com)
Lincoln – On Saturday, May 9, Lincoln volunteers cleaned roadsides of the invasive plant called garlic mustard, a biennial herb once used in cooking and medicine. Similar “weed-out” events were organized in other towns across the country. (“ Lincoln’s first annual weed-out, May 6, wickedlocal.com)
Billerica – DG Clean Power CEO Joseph Fitzpatrick said the company is withdrawing its application before the Billerica Conservation Commission to build a 348-megawatt power plant and plans to submit a modified application in November that will address some wetlands-related issues. The proposed plant is to be run on natural gas, with diesel backup. (“Billerica power plant company withdraws application – for now,” April 11, Lowellsun.com)
Concord – The Verrill Farm construction project broke ground last month and the new farmstand and greenhouse are expected to be finished next fall, a year after fire destroyed the old structure on Wheeler Road. The new facility will be about 20% larger and will include expanded seating and parking. (“Verrill Farm rebuilds fire-ravaged stand,” May 10, boston.com) ∆
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