The Halifax Board of Selectmen met Thursday, Oct. 15 for one of their extra meetings that they have been holding during the pandemic.
Board of Health Agent Bob Varley began with an update saying there have been four new cases recently in Halifax. The cases were reported on October 1, October 2, October 9, and October 10. Varley also gave an update on the state of various restaurants in town saying that a few were currently open for indoor dining. Grille 58, which Varley said is currently utilizing every other booth, could put a 6 ft partition around the booths in a way that complies with the fire code in order to utilize all of them.
Selectman and Chair of the Halifax School Committee, Gordon Andrews gave an update on the school saying that during the last school committee meeting it was agreed that gators are not to be worn to school. Masks are to be at least two layers thick. Neither Plympton nor Kingston allow gators to be worn either with the exception being outdoor sporting events at the high school.
Andrews also told the selectmen that there have been a handful of cases in schools throughout the district including a few at KIS, one at the middle school, and another at the high school. Varley said, “From what I’m hearing… it’s not the activities that are going on within the schools that are triggering these cases, but it tends to be the after-school sports activities or weekend sports activities, specifically hockey.” He said that the Department of Public Health is working on more stringent guidance for the sports that tend to include more close contact including basketball and hockey and possibly soccer.
Andrews also took a moment to thank Seelig for his willingness to work with Halifax Elementary and Silver Lake in securing CARES Act funding. “Our town has really been the only town that has, from the very beginning, tried to include the schools in dealing with COVID and the CARES Act money,” Andrews said.
Halifax Fire Chief Jason Viveiros said the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts is receiving $2 million in PPE which will include an additional 2,000 surgical masks as well as some gloves and other PPE. Viveiros also said that eventually they would like to have dispensers, similar to hands-free paper towel dispensers, that are filled with masks for placement in various municipal buildings.
With the approval of the Halifax Fire Department’s Community Emergency Medical Service, Viveiros said the department is now eligible to setup a COVID testing program. Both a 15-minute rapid test and an antigen blood test would be available. Antigen tests would be $10 and if there was a positive test result, a nasal swab test would be administered at a cost of $140. It remains to be seen if the department will elect to setup such a testing program.
Seelig also shared a letter from current Holmes Public Library Director Jean Gallant. Gallant said that former library director Betsy Randall requested permission to replace the tree that was in front of the library. Work would include replacing the existing stump and planting a new tree. Andrews said that he thought it would be fine as long as the tree was far enough away from any roof lines.
Seelig told the selectmen that up to this point, the State has allowed hearings on land use to be continued indefinitely during the state of emergency. This stance appears to be changing as the State is requesting that land use boards hold hearings even if it needs to be done electronically via Zoom or another platform. Seelig said that since the Chapter 40B hearing for Country Club Estates has already been postponed multiple times due to the pandemic, the Zoning Board of Appeals will begin the hearing on November 18 via Zoom. Andrews suggested that letters be sent to abutters to notify them that hearings are to start soon.
A town employee was recently questioned about political signs on town property. As a result of a Supreme Court decision a few years ago, the portion of the current bylaw dealing with signs is not enforceable. Seelig reviewed the town’s current policy regarding signs on the town’s property. No political signs are allowed on town owned property; this extends to the shoulders/right of ways near municipal buildings, etc. Seelig said, however, that there are a few traffic islands where signs have been allowed.
Seelig said his position is to disregard any anonymous complaints regarding signs in the traffic islands or the right of ways. Seelig said that he has yet to receive a complaint from anyone willing to attach their name to it. He said, however, if he were to receive a signed complaint in writing, he would work with the Building Inspector/Zoning Enforcement Officer and the Board of Selectmen.
Assuming permission was granted by the aforementioned groups an announcement would be made giving two weeks to remove the signs from town property or have them removed. Seelig did note that the polling place on election day is a “free-for-all” assuming signs are taken down at the end of the day.
Finally, Selectman Tom Millias said he wanted to acknowledge the retirement of Deputy Fire Chief Stephen Heath who recently retired after 37 years. Viveiros said he wanted to, “thank him for his service and wish him well.”