HALIFAX – Halifax selectmen welcomed their new police chief, Joao Chaves, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, at a more than hourlong celebration that brought together police from New Bedford where he formerly worked, along with area chiefs, members of the Halifax Police Department and the community-at-large.
Following that, the board went into their regular meeting, where they were in good spirits after two members had been on vacation. They held a dog hearing, met with Rich Goulart of Area 58 Community Access Media regarding live television broadcasts, and received an update on cemetery fees as well as the deteriorating Pine Street bridge from Highway Surveyor and Cemetery Superintendent Steve Hayward.
Margaret Compton-Severance of Cherry Street was before the board for a dog hearing stemming from an incident in October. It was one of the more acrimonious dog hearings in Halifax in recent times.
Compton-Severance was the owner of the “aggressor” dog, but Noreen Callahan, the Halifax Animal Control Officer, stated that Compton-Severance had done “everything right.”
But even being told that she had done everything right by the ACO did nothing to assuage her aggressive attitude.
The victim, a home health care aide who was assisting Compton-Severance’s mother, placed her hand through the puppy’s cage to either “console” or “say goodbye” to the dog– depending on who tells the story.
The dog bit the health aide, and she said it was a deep bite requiring a visit to the hospital, although there were no stitches required. “It was my fault,” she added.
Compton-Severance said she tried to assist the health aide. “I finally forced some Band-Aids on her.”
Compton-Severance said she didn’t believe the dog bit the health care aide. “Where are the medical records?” she asked. “Why aren’t they here?”
“She just said it was her fault,” pointed out Selectman Troy Garron, referring to the health aide and cutting off the cross-talking women.
“What action would you like to see this board take?” asked Garron of the health aide.
“What?” said the aide, misunderstanding several times before final exclaiming, “I don’t want any action taken.”
“We get involved any time there is a bite reported by a health agency,” Selectmen Chairman Kim Roy explained to the two.
Then, Compton-Severance started accusing the home-health aide of being involved in a Ponzi scheme.
This was too much for the board. “That’s beyond the scope of this hearing,” stated Selectman Tom Millias.
Roy entertained a motion to take no action on the matter, as Compton-Severance did not want “a bite on her dog’s record,” no injury occurred and the victim did not want the board to sanction the dog or its owner.
The board appeared relieved when the hearing was over.
Area 58 Community Access Media director Rich Goulart came before the board to seek permission to make the necessary technical connections to go “live” with televised cable broadcasts of meetings in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room of Town Hall.
Plympton recently agreed, and Goulart said Carver has been broadcasting live for “years.”
From a technical standpoint, all of the equipment is in place for either live broadcasts or for the Area 58 studio in Carver to process the broadcasts with a direct link to Halifax, except for the town purchasing a static-IP address, something that is inexpensive and relatively simple, he noted.
Garron was skeptical. He asked whether the change was really necessary, but he seemed resigned when the move appeared inevitable.
Roy joked that she wanted her hair and makeup done if the board meetings were broadcast live. On a serious note, she was concerned if it would cost the town much money, and Goulart assured her the cost was minimal.
Millias didn’t express a strong opinion one way or the other. He differentiated between going “live”— meaning that the technical ability would be there for the room to connect up with the Carver studio— and going “live-live,” meaning that the board would have a policy on whether its meetings would actually be broadcast live.
In the end, Goulart got permission to take the room “live” as Millias had defined it. The room will have the technical ability to broadcast live and to communicate with Area 58’s studio directly, but the board has not come up with a policy for going “live-live,” in other words, for its meetings, yet.
Steve Hayward, highway surveyor and cemetery superintendent, came before the board to discuss cemetery fees, cemetery rules and regulations, and plans for the Pine Street bridge.
Cemetery fees have been adjusted upward, but are still in line with other communities, if not a little low, according to Hayward. “Are we charging enough?” asked Roy.
Hayward said that they are.
He also adjusted the rules and regulations for Halifax Central Cemetery, which the board adopted, most notably that he will approve all plantings at gravesites.
Hayward also spoke about repairs to the Pine Street bridge.
Apparently disturbing to the board and to Town Administrator Charlie Seelig was news that plans alone for repairs to the ailing bridge would cost in the realm of $200,000.
The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) stated that the bridge is at a “critical level” of deficiency as reported by the Express last week.
“I’d like to find something [plans] on the internet, even, but I don’t know if that’s legal,” Hayward said.
Seelig was vocally and visibly flabbergasted by talk of the cost.
Hayward says he will continue to look into the matter.
• The board will hold its next regularly scheduled meeting, the sole meeting for December, on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room of Town Hall.