The Plympton Board of Selectmen met on Monday, September 21. The first order of business was to address a memo that was received from the Board of Health regarding limitations on indoor in-person meetings. The memo reiterated the March 2020 order that addressed the issue as well as the third revised memo that stipulated an 8-person limit within the confines of 1,000 sq ft with a maximum limit of 25 persons in any space. The latest memo stated that the Board of Health has decided to discontinue in-person meetings on town owned properties.
Selectman John Traynor said that he was concerned that the restriction on in-person meetings would have a negative impact on the ability of the Council on Aging (COA) Board to meet as many members don’t have the necessary access to technology to attend virtually. At ten people, the Board would need to be reduced in order to continue to meet – something Traynor doesn’t want to do. Traynor said that the COA did meet last Monday. While he said the time in the meeting room itself went well, he did note that the time before and after the meeting in the lobby “left a lot to be desired.”
The Director of Elder Services, Joy Marble recently resigned requiring that an interim strategy be developed while the town searches for another director. Town Administrator Elizabeth Dennehy asked the selectmen how quickly they would like to see the position filled. While Selectman Chair Mark Russo said as soon as possible, Traynor said he felt that it might be beneficial to wait a bit to figure out the situation. Traynor also shared that the COA Board plans to take more of an active role in the management of the Council on Aging. While the director won’t be back, both the administrative assistant and driver will be returning. The selectmen agreed that the first step in their search for a new director will be developing a job description. Dennehy said she felt it best to keep the description somewhat broad and mission based.
As part of a new initiative to invite a different chair or department head to each Board of Selectmen’s meeting, Treasurer/Collector Colleen Morin attended Monday’s meeting to provide an update. Morin said that there have been some issues with unemployment. Some at the townhouse had received fraudulent reports that they hadn’t filed. Morin said that she enlisted help from Representative Kathleen LaNatra in order to get through to those in the unemployment department. “She has done a great job helping me and getting me into contact with someone there,” Morin explained.
Morin told the Board that while a hold has been placed on foreclosures during the pandemic, fourteen properties are going into tax title. Of those, ten of the properties are considered to have low land value as they are valued at approximately $22,000 or less. Of the other four, one of the property owners is interested in donating the land to the town. Morin said the property abuts the Harry Jason Park. The current owner was previously unaware they had inherited the land and would rather donate it than pay taxes on it.
Dennehy provided a brief update on the schools as no one from the school committee could attend due to their meeting running concurrently with the Board of Selectmen. Dennehy said that school was back in session and told the Board the Fire Chief and the schools’ Director of Business Services Christine Healy have been working together to improve upon the process for making submissions for CARES Act funding. The current round of CARES Act funding and reimbursement closes at the end of September.
Per usual, the selectmen ended their meeting with their rants and raves. Selectman Christine Joy said, “My rave would be for Liz and John and the COA Board who have stepped up at this time to make sure we are continuing to meet the needs of our seniors in town.” While initially opting to pass on a rave, Russo said that he actually did have one. He spoke about an academician of writing who reminds students of the latin root of the word essay when assigning such work. At its root, the word essay means to make an attempt or endeavor. Russo pointed out that in times of struggle it might be best to focus less on the outcome and more on simply trying. “I appreciate the degree to which we all continue to try,” Russo said. He continued, “May we all continue to do so and may the outcomes be good along the way.”