Monthly Archives: February, 2013

The Mayor’s Daily Briefing: February 28, 2013

DPW

This is a red recycle week.

Events

March 1, 7-10 p.m. Teen Night at the Common Ground Teen Center, Melrose YMCA on Main Street. Hang out with friends and play billiards, ping pong, air hockey, video games, or other activities, or play basketball or dodgeball in the gym. For teens in grades 6-8.
March 2, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Special Collection of Sports Equipment for the Children of Haiti, outside the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School gym.
March 8, 10-11 a.m., Kids Club, featuring Music with Dara, Memorial Hall
March 8, 7-9:30 p.m., Teen Trip Night to the Town Line Bowling, for teens in grades 6-8. Buses leave from the middle school at 7 sharp. Cost is $10 per person. Field trip forms are available at the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School main office or at this link; return it with payment to the Recreation Department, City Hall. For more information, call the Rec Department at 781-979-4179.

Library

Peanut Butter Valentines: February 1–28, 2013
All are invited to give a special “valentine” to their neighbors by donating a jar of peanut butter or jelly for A Servant’s Heart Food Pantry. Drop off your donations all this month in the decoratively marked boxes at the main desk and in the children’s room.
Valentine Tree: Stop by to see the Valentine Tree. The children have shown the people of Melrose how much they love the library by decorating the tree outside of the library with hand sewn valentine hearts.
February 28, 3-4 p.m., Snack Pack book group for 4th and 5th graders
Books are available in the Children’s Room of the library. Registration is not necessary and new members are always welcome. The library supplies the snacks. The group will be reading Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.
March 5, 10:15 a.m., Rockin’ Babies & Boppin’ Toddlers
Join music therapist, Meredith Pizzi, in this popular music program this fall for children ages 0-18 months. No registration required, just drop in. BOPPIN’ TODDLERS 9–18 months, 10:15 – 11:00; ROCKIN’ BABIES 0- 9 months, 11:15 – 12:00
March 8, 10:30 a.m., Circle Time Stretch with Joy Fay
For children ages 12 – 24 months and their caregivers. Children will explore yoga, gentle stretching and movement through songs, rhymes finger-plays and music. Enjoy connecting with your little one and meeting new friends as we celebrate the little yogi in all of us!
March 9, 2 p.m., Star Wars Symposium with Peter Struzziero
Calling all Star Wars fans ages 6 and older! Come dressed as a character for the costume contest, bring your show and tell items, learn about the history of Star Wars, join in a trivia contest, play video games and more! There will be prizes! Families welcome! Register now in the Children’s Room!
March 30, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Lego Construction Club
Lego lovers unite! Drop in on the last Saturday of each month from 10 -12 and show off your amazing Lego talents! Registration is not necessary. Don’t forget to bring a friend!

Meetings

February 28, 7:15 p.m., Energy Commission, Mayor’s Conference Room
March 5, 7 p.m., Human Rights Commission, Mayor’s Conference Room
March 7, 5:30 p.m., School Committee, Special Meeting, Aldermanic Chamber
March 13, 7:45 p.m. Board of Appeals, Aldermanic Chamber

The Mayor’s Daily Briefing: February 27, 2013

DPW

This is a red recycle week.

Events

March 2, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Special Collection of Sports Equipment for the Children of Haiti, outside the Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School gym.
March 8, 10-11 a.m., Kids Club, featuring Music with Dara, Memorial Hall

Library

Peanut Butter Valentines: February 1–28, 2013
All are invited to give a special “valentine” to their neighbors by donating a jar of peanut butter or jelly for A Servant’s Heart Food Pantry. Drop off your donations all this month in the decoratively marked boxes at the main desk and in the children’s room.
Valentine Tree: Stop by to see the Valentine Tree. The children have shown the people of Melrose how much they love the library by decorating the tree outside of the library with hand sewn valentine hearts.
February 28, 3-4 p.m., Snack Pack book group for 4th and 5th graders
Books are available in the Children’s Room of the library. Registration is not necessary and new members are always welcome. The library supplies the snacks. The group will be reading Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.
March 5, 10:15 a.m., Rockin’ Babies & Boppin’ Toddlers
Join music therapist, Meredith Pizzi, in this popular music program this fall for children ages 0-18 months. No registration required, just drop in. BOPPIN’ TODDLERS 9–18 months, 10:15 – 11:00; ROCKIN’ BABIES 0- 9 months, 11:15 – 12:00
March 8, 10:30 a.m., Circle Time Stretch with Joy Fay
For children ages 12 – 24 months and their caregivers. Children will explore yoga, gentle stretching and movement through songs, rhymes finger-plays and music. Enjoy connecting with your little one and meeting new friends as we celebrate the little yogi in all of us!
March 9, 2 p.m., Star Wars Symposium with Peter Struzziero
Calling all Star Wars fans ages 6 and older! Come dressed as a character for the costume contest, bring your show and tell items, learn about the history of Star Wars, join in a trivia contest, play video games and more! There will be prizes! Families welcome! Register now in the Children’s Room!
March 30, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Lego Construction Club
Lego lovers unite! Drop in on the last Saturday of each month from 10 -12 and show off your amazing Lego talents! Registration is not necessary. Don’t forget to bring a friend!

Meetings

February 27, 7:30 p.m., Melrose Messina Fund for the Arts, Mayor’s Conference Room
February 28, 10 a.m., Water and Sewer Committee, Mayor’s Conference Room
February 28, 7:15 p.m., Energy Commission, Mayor’s Conference Room
March 7, 5:30 p.m., School Committee, Special Meeting, Aldermanic Chamber

Snow By Numbers

Our Superintendent of Public Works, John Scenna, pulled together some numbers about the snow budget that I thought you might find interesting. Our rule of thumb is that a snowstorm costs about $11,000 per inch for plowing, sanding, and other expenses. Last year we reorganized our Department of Public Works and privatized trash collection. As you can see from the figures below, this has translated directly into savings—although contractor and materials costs are up, our cost per inch of snow is actually down a bit, because more work is being done in-house. In addition, we were able to keep trash and recycling collections on their regular schedules. In addition, after the big snowstorm two weeks ago, we were able to use in-house labor during the day to clear corners and address immediate concerns called in by residents. We were able to address problems almost immediately and continuously. This would not have been possible in the past due to the number of people working trash.

A few points to consider:

  • Although contractor and material costs have escalated, the current 2012-13 $11,190/inch average is 5% less than the 2010-11 winter $11,950/inch average.
  • This winter’s summary consists of 23 operations over 14 major storm events
  • 54% of the estimated expenditures were incurred during the blizzard
  • 34% of total expenses are salt, chemicals and fuel
  • 39% are contractual (down from 2010-11 when 47% of the budget consisted of contractual expenses)

If you’re truly fascinated by facts and figures, here’s a spreadsheet breaking down the costs of each of our snow events this fiscal year: Winter Summary 2012-2013

More Details on What the Sequester Could Mean to Melrose

As you know, a series of automatic spending cuts (known as the sequester) will take place at the federal level unless Congress acts on an alternative by March 1. Jay Picone, the business manager for the Melrose Public Schools, has determined that the cuts will reduce school funding by $173 per student, or approximately $95,000. He adds, “This is a significant reduction that will affect both the current FY13 budget and the proposed FY14 budget. It has not yet been determined how we can absorb the impact of this unprecedented reduction … in this year’s budget.”

In addition, I recently was made aware of a memo from the White House detailing the effects of these cuts on the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and I wanted to share them with you. These are the impacts Massachusetts would feel this year:

  • Teachers and Schools: Massachusetts will lose approximately $13.9 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 190 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 20,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 60 fewer schools would receive funding.
  • Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Massachusetts will lose approximately $13.4 million in funds for about 160 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.
  • Work-Study Jobs: Around 580 fewer low income students in Massachusetts would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 800 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.
  • Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,100 children in Massachusetts, reducing access to critical early education.
  • Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Massachusetts would lose about $4 million in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Massachusetts could lose another $472,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.
  • Military Readiness: In Massachusetts, approximately 7,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $43.4 million in total.
  • Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $8 million in Massachusetts.
  • Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Massachusetts would be cut by about $5
  • million.
  • Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Massachusetts will lose about $300,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.
  • Job Search Assistance to Help those in Massachusetts find Employment and Training: Massachusetts will lose about $787,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 26,970 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.
  • Child Care: Up to 500 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.
  • Vaccines for Children: In Massachusetts around 2,940 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $201,000.
  • Public Health: Massachusetts will lose approximately $625,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Massachusetts will lose about $1.7 million in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 5,200 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Massachusetts State Department of Public Health will lose about $367,000 resulting in around 9,200 fewer HIV tests.
  • STOP Violence Against Women Program: Massachusetts could lose up to $140,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 500 fewer victims being served.
  • Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: Massachusetts would lose approximately $535,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors.

You can read the entire memo here: Massachusetts_WHsequester_022513

Check Out the Winning Snowmen from the Winter Festival

Here are the winners of this past week’s Snowman Contest at Mount Hood. We had a lot of creative entries, and everyone did a great job.

On Site Winner: Organic Veggie Snowman, by the Natale Family

On Site Winner: Organic Veggie Snowman, by the Natale Family

Simple Snowman Winner: Snow Duck, by Owen Molway

Simple Snowman Winner: Snow Duck, by Owen Molway

Originality Winner: Catching Nemo, by Kara Foucher

Originality Winner: Catching Nemo, by Kara Foucher

Creativity Winner: Sporty Snowman, by The Gage Family

Creativity Winner: Sporty Snowman, by The Gage Family

Remembering Bob Maiella

Bob Maiella

We lost a member of our Melrose family yesterday. I sent this message out this morning to all our staff:

It is with a very heavy heart that I inform you Facilities Division Foreman Bob Maiella passed away on Sunday. Bob was only 46 years old but had worked for our City of Melrose for over 27 years.

Bob started his career as a custodian at the Melrose Public Library upon graduation from Melrose High School, but he soon moved to his true love, the Melrose Public Schools. Many Directors came and went, but Bob was the “go to” guy through it all, with a deep knowledge of our buildings and love for our schools and community. He was loyal, incredibly hardworking, passionate, smart, and an honest, upstanding friend to all in his life. He worked Saturday with the same commitment he brought to every day on the job.

This is truly a very tragic loss for his family and the City of Melrose. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

City flags will fly at half staff this week in honor of this dedicated employee.

We will pass on information about the arrangements when they are known.

Next Week: Science Fairs—and You Can Be a Judge

The Melrose Science Fairs start next week, and there’s a lot of information available on the Melrose Science Fair website. I know that a lot of Melrose children have been spending vacation week working on their projects, so I expect to see some great presentations!

Adults, if you want to get involved, the committee still needs a few volunteer judges. You can register here.

And here’s the schedule:

February 27 – Horance Mann Science Fair
February 27 – Lincoln Science Fair
February 28 – Roosevelt Science Fair
February 28 and March 1 – Hoover Science Fair
March 4 – Winthrop Science Fair

Stay tuned, or go to the Melrose Science Fair website, for more details.

The Mayor’s Daily Briefing: February 22, 2013

DPW

This is a green recycle week.
Curbside trash and recycling is delay one day this week due to Monday’s Presidents’ Day Holiday. Thursday’s route will be picked up on Friday, and Friday’s route will be picked up on Saturday.
The next curbside metal pick up will be Tuesday, February 26, 2013.

Library

Peanut Butter Valentines: February 1–28, 2013
All are invited to give a special “valentine” to their neighbors by donating a jar of peanut butter or jelly for A Servant’s Heart Food Pantry. Drop off your donations all this month in the decoratively marked boxes at the main desk and in the children’s room.
Valentine Tree: Stop by to see the Valentine Tree. The children have shown the people of Melrose how much they love the library by decorating the tree outside of the library with hand sewn valentine hearts.
February 25, 6:30 p.m., Music, Movement, and Mother Goose, Children’s Room
February 28, 3-4 p.m., Snack Pack book group for 4th and 5th graders
Books are available in the Children’s Room of the library. Registration is not necessary and new members are always welcome. The library supplies the snacks. The group will be reading Bud Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.
March 5, 10:15 a.m., Rockin’ Babies & Boppin’ Toddlers
Join music therapist, Meredith Pizzi, in this popular music program this fall for children ages 0-18 months. No registration required, just drop in. BOPPIN’ TODDLERS 9–18 months, 10:15 – 11:00; ROCKIN’ BABIES 0- 9 months, 11:15 – 12:00
March 8, 10:30 a.m., Circle Time Stretch with Joy Fay
For children ages 12 – 24 months and their caregivers. Children will explore yoga, gentle stretching and movement through songs, rhymes finger-plays and music. Enjoy connecting with your little one and meeting new friends as we celebrate the little yogi in all of us!
March 9, 2 p.m., Star Wars Symposium with Peter Struzziero
Calling all Star Wars fans ages 6 and older! Come dressed as a character for the costume contest, bring your show and tell items, learn about the history of Star Wars, join in a trivia contest, play video games and more! There will be prizes! Families welcome! Register now in the Children’s Room!
March 30, 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Lego Construction Club
Lego lovers unite! Drop in on the last Saturday of each month from 10 -12 and show off your amazing Lego talents! Registration is not necessary. Don’t forget to bring a friend!

Meetings

February 25, 7 p.m., Park Commission, Mount Hood Club House
February 25, 7:30 p.m., Board of Aldermen, Committee on Health, Education, and Welfare, Aldermanic Chamber
February 25, 7:30 p.m., Board of Aldermen, Committee on Protection and License, Aldermanic Chamber
February 25, 7:45 p.m., Board of Aldermen, Committee on Public Service, Aldermanic Chamber
February 25, 7:45 p.m., Board of Aldermen, Committee on Finance, Aldermanic Chamber
February 25, 8 p.m., Board of Aldermen, Committee on Appropriations, Aldermanic Chamber
February 25, 8 p.m., Planning Board, Public Hearing on 35-37 Essex St., Mayor’s Conference Room
February 25, 8:30 p.m., Planning Board, Public Hearing on 476A Main St., Mayor’s Conference Room
February 26, 11 a.m., Retirement Board, Retirement Office, City Hall
February 26, 7 p.m., School Committee, Aldermanic Chamber
February 27, 9 a.m., Board of Assessors, Assessors Office, City Hall

What the iRaiders Have Contributed to Melrose

I was asked to write a letter of support for the Melrose High School iRaiders, who are competing for the FIRST Robotics Chairman’s Award, and I wanted to share what this group of students, parents and volunteers, working with City, school and business leaders, have been able to accomplish in our community, and what I believe to be the ripple effect on other areas.

To Whom It May Concern:

I write many letters in my job as mayor to support different organizations. I am enthused to help any organization succeed, but I am particularly enthused about writing this letter today to you. The iRaiders, from their conception to today, have fundamentally changed education in our community, particularly in the area of STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Allow me to give you five examples of why this is so.

  1. Due to incredible budgetary times, the schools’ efforts to fund this program to get it off the ground was a major hurdle. In fact, this program is thriving without substantial contributions from taxpayers. A committed group of parents, volunteers, and students, working with the Melrose Public Schools and local businesses as well as area technology companies, built the iRaiders on their own terms, using problem solving and good business development to obtain space, money, time, and expertise. They built this organization like they would build a robot, with hard work, ingenuity, and creativity. It is an example for young and old alike that when you want to get something done, there are no obstacles. That is a lesson in science, engineering–and life.
  2. The goal of Melrose High School has always been to develop a well rounded young adult outside of our core academic areas, providing an exemplary program that fosters excitement and energy for learning. We have achieved this in our world-class Fine Arts department, our Athletics Department, and many after-school clubs and electives. Through their success, the iRaiders team has filled a vacuum for young people whose passions lie in the areas of science and technology. The program gives them the opportunity to build a team that is close to the school community, building self esteem and seeing achievement happen from hard work. Every child should have that experience. All children have it now with the iRaiders. They foster exceptional community pride citywide.
  3. The iRaiders have created a feeder system of young children in the areas of science, technology, and robotics. My son Ryan is one of those individuals. He is a seven-year-old second-grader at the Horace Mann elementary school, and from the time he was two, he loved Legos, building, blocks, and electronics. He and his friends now take part in an after-school Lego building team where they learn the early concepts of what our high schoolers are doing. Wednesday is his favorite day of the week, because after school, for an hour and a half, he builds and creates. He is excited about what he is doing, building self confidence and understanding that hard work is rewarded with achievement. There are hundreds of elementary school-aged children who feel the same way as my son. In fact at the middle school, which deals with young people going through some of the most difficult years of their social and personal lives, the Vex robotics team has won major awards. To see an organization build a feeder system and a base of young children in such a short period of time is extraordinary.
  4. Recently, a group of parents formed MEC, the Melrose Education Coalition, to promote education in Melrose. It is my opinion that the iRaiders and their success and the publicity they generated in championing science and technology, was the one of the reasons for the intense focus on STEM education that we have seen in the past year in the City of Melrose. We started our first science and technology fair, with attendance from well over 2,000 parents and students, and we had various seminars educating parents on what is being taught in science and technology in the Melrose Public Schools. Before last year, only one elementary school had a science fair; this year all our elementary schools are having science fairs, and some are lasting two nights with record numbers of participants. These advances in science and technology are the result of the hard work of many, but I would argue that the spark started with the iRaiders
  5. With momentum building for science and technology, the City of Melrose applied for a state grant to rebuild our science department at Melrose High School. This is a daunting $6 million-plus project to bring in the newest technology and the newest lab equipment in an 18,000 square foot science wing. We were approved, and we are one of only a handful of communities in Massachusetts to begin construction this year. We will be opening our new Science Department in late August 2013. This is a new day for the science and technology in the City of Melrose. We are also planning a tech center at our high school in the coming years. Any great initiative starts with a spark. In this case, many people provided many sparks, but again I would argue that our Melrose High School iRaiders have been one of the inspirations for all of these initiatives. In difficult times, many organizations say “Perhaps now is not the right time” or “The challenge is too hard.” The iRaiders have never said that, and the community has followed them.

For these reasons, and many more, I believe the Melrose iRaiders are worthy of the Chairman’s Award. I would be happy to talk to you or anyone from your group personally regarding my passion for this issue.

Sincerely,

Robert J. Dolan
Mayor

What Will the Sequester Mean to Melrose?

Here is an interesting article on CNN regarding the sequester. Oftentimes we look at the federal government as some gigantic entity that doesn’t affect us directly. I think this article spells out some of the ways that Melrosians will be affected if the sequester goes into effect on March 1.

There are a number of possible cuts that I am concerned about that could affect Melrose. The first is massive cuts to Medicare reimbursement to states, which would affect the Massachusetts budget because one of the economic foundations of our state is health care, hospitals, research, and development. The second is massive military reductions that would affect many of the technology businesses in the Route 128 area. The third is Meals on Wheels. Although our community dinner will assist in this effort, governmental programs for the elderly and low-income students will be drastically affected. A $4 million cut to Head Start will affect our Early Childhood Center. I think our Superintendent of Schools is doing an excellent job (per yesterday’s post) of preparing for that cut.

I thought the CNN article was a tight synopsis of how the sequester may affect us, and I would say these reductions pale compared to the state reductions we faced in the mid-2000s that we managed through. Most citizens as well as local governmental leaders are going to have to work harder together to get through these further reductions.

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