The Plympton Board of Selectmen met virtually on Monday, Nov. 2, for one of their bi-weekly meetings. Chair Mark Russo said he would like to do a mailing that would inquire about residents’ interest in joining various boards and committees in town. Russo said there are a lot of vacancies at the moment. The eventual hope is to establish a volunteer bank. Selectman Christine Joy suggested including job descriptions or perhaps just directing residents to the town website for more information on the boards and committees. “The other cool way to do this is to remind people that boards and commissions and committees have open meetings and a good way to get a sense is attend a meeting or two and see what it’s about and see if there’s interest,” Russo said. Older recordings could also be watched when available.
The selectmen also reviewed the Board liaisons document as it hadn’t been reviewed for a year. Despite some debate about whether to change the Bylaw Review Committee liaison from Joy to Russo, it was decided that it would be best left on Joy’s plate as Russo’s wife serves on the committee. An exchange was made, however, to make Russo the liaison to the Highway Department as he has been working on a number of highway related projects.
Selectman and acting interim Director for the Council on Aging (COA) John Traynor gave an update on the COA who last met on October 26. Traynor who said, “we definitely need to find a director,” asked town administrator Elizabeth Dennehy how the search was going thus far. Dennehy said that the posting period had closed for the position and that there was only one applicant. Traynor asked if it would be possible to open it back up again but Dennehy said that she would like to interview the candidate first as they came highly recommended. Russo recommended holding an interview with the COA Board of Directors, the Board of Selectmen, and Dennehy. Dennehy said she would schedule it.
Traynor told his fellow selectmen that the town needs to “broaden our reach to our seniors… hopefully over time we can encourage more seniors to come into the process.” He brought up the robocalls that are sent out to senior residents and said that due to a lot of people moving from landlines to cell phones, updated information is needed for many people. Traynor said they would address that topic in the next newsletter.
Traynor also cited a shortage of money and difficulties posed by the pandemic as reasons why it is difficult to organize programming for the COA at this time. Despite those obstacles, Traynor did say that they are working on things including a possible Zoom bingo. According to Traynor, Kingston has been holding COA events online in addition to a few, limited in-person programs such as quilting.
Jim Mustacaros and Traynor went together to pick up brown bags in Brockton as part of the Greater Boston Food Bank for delivery to residents. Traynor said the bags went to 27 residents at the Woodlands, 6 went to people in town, and another few to Marshfield. He also said that there is a plowing program where $25 will be reimbursed for plowing through a grant. Similarly, seniors can be reimbursed up to $25 for hiring a handy person. According to Traynor, volunteer drivers are needed for the COA as Mustacaros has a full schedule.
With Tom Millias’ resignation, the Zoning Enforcement Officer position was recently left vacant. Ken Thompson sent in an application and met all requirements. Both Millias and Dennehy met with Thompson and recommended him to the Board for an interim appointment through the end of the fiscal year. Thompson has served on both the Zoning Board of Appeals (a position he currently holds and will need to resign from) and the Bylaw Review Committee. Of the interim basis, Dennehy said, “it will give both him and the town a chance to see if it’s a good fit or not.”
Russo said he really admired Tom Millias and his approach to the position calling it both “measured” and “balanced.” He did note that as of late there had been some tension with the Bylaw Review Committee. Russo also said that he served with Thompson on the Community Preservation Committee and said that he admired his work adding that he has good legal opinions and knows his bylaws. “I’m actually excited about this and think its worth a try,” Russo said. The Board voted unanimously to appoint him.
Dennehy provided an update on a number of projects. She told the selectmen that the Town Properties Committee has been extremely busy. She said the town is in receipt of specs for the bid process on the highway barn roof project. It needs to be determined if the funds appropriated during the last town meeting will be enough to cover the cost of the project. According to Dennehy, the town is also looking into obtaining pricing and proposals to make an entrance on the second floor of the Townhouse handicap accessible. There is also a plan in place to do an assessment of the plumbing and septic issues at the Townhouse.
Dennehy also touched on some of the guidelines that were released that day from Governor Baker. Those included limiting indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25. There is also a DPH curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily with the exception of work. Additionally, indoor recreation, theaters and casinos will close at 9:30 p.m. and restaurants will stop seating at 9:30 p.m. The updated guidelines go into effect on Friday, November 6.
Dennehy said that they were made aware of another positive COVID case in town that day and said that they still had not received confirmation that all the previous cases in town had been cleared. Regarding the number of cases rising, Dennehy said, “it’s something we need to be made aware of and we can’t really let our guards down.” She also said that everyone seems pleased that the Townhouse will be professionally disinfected following Election Day. Chair of the Board of Health Art Morin was in attendance Monday and commented on the emergency public health alerts that had been issued by the state for several neighboring towns.
The selectmen ended with their raves for the last few weeks. Joy said that her rave was for everyone working at the Town House and for all town employees. She called out both Cathy Ferguson and Dennehy for their efforts and noted the increased stress level of both residents and employees. She said that given the current climate, it might be a good idea to revisit the idea of de-escalation training. Traynor said that his rave was for the Emergency Management Team saying, “they’ve done a stellar job getting us through this.” Russo said that his rave was for the election process in Plympton saying, “it looks like it has gone unbelievably smoothly.”