The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on the evening of Tuesday, Sept. 28. The first appointment of the night was with Todd Dargie who was to be appointed to the Finance Committee. He had previously interviewed for the Committee and has been serving on the Capital Planning Committee. “I do have extensive experience in budgeting and the financial services sector and banking and things of that nature,” Dargie explained. They voted unanimously to approve his appointment through June of 2023.
Town Administrator Charlie Seelig discussed the official town of Halifax Facebook page. He said that logistically they would need to figure out who would be responsible for posting on the page. It was explained that you can have as many contributors as wanted but the particular policy limits it to two members of each department. It was discussed whether the messenger feature would be disabled. Selectman Chair Gordon Andrews said he would recommend leaving messenger off for the time being. The Selectmen voted to unanimously approve the policy on the Facebook page as presented by Information Technology manager Cesar Calouro. Calouro and Seelig will be the page administrators.
Calouro was also on hand for a discussion of the social media policy for employees and committee members. Of the policy, Calouro said, “It is to establish a set of guidelines and expectations to protect the town of liability.” He said that it should serve as a reminder that everything is still public record regardless of the town hosting the platform. The main gist of the conversation was to distinguish town employees or volunteers’ personal comments versus those made in a professional capacity. Andrews argued that unless they are commenting on a town hosted platform, it should be assumed that any views expressed are their personal ones and not the official stance of the town. The Selectmen asked Calouro to reword the policy before they would approve.
Calouro also discussed changing out the bulletin board at Town Hall with a tv screen that would cycle through the items that are currently posted there on paper. A suggestion to have a touch screen display that could be paused was explored. Calouro said he didn’t plan to buy a touch screen as he didn’t think the money to do so would be available.
The Selectmen met with Peter Gallistino and Robert Palma of Elevated Roots in regards to a proposed marijuana dispensary. Gallistino said they were following up on previous communications with the town and the Selectmen. He said they were able to secure the property at 319 Monponsett St. They explained that the parcel is in what they called an “appropriate” location which they said does not abut residential properties. They also said that the construction process would be quick as it was limited to an interior remodel. They plan to hire around 35 people for the Halifax location with preference given to local residents.
Elevated Roots is currently located in Kingston where they operate an adult use retail facility and are in the process of constructing a cultivation facility there as well. They said that their partnership with the community is what sets them apart. They said that despite it not being part of the Host Community Agreement (HCA) with Kingston, they donated five percent of their sales on Memorial Day to Kingston Veteran’s Committee.
Selectman Troy Garron said his biggest concerns would be traffic and security. Palma said the inside door cannot open until the outside door closes. He said it allows them to control who accesses the property. He further explained that the team’s access to various parts of the building depends on their role within the company. When asked if they had given consideration to an armed intruder, they explained that they operate similarly to a bank with panic buttons equipped throughout, etc.
The next appointment was with Daniel Parsons of 715 Old Plymouth Street. Andrews explained that the Board had received complaints about a number of unregistered cars on the property. Parsons explained various reasons for having unregistered vehicles and also said that he has moved the junk on his property to the back so that it could no longer be seen from the road. He said he makes extra money through scrapping. Seelig told Parsons to verify that inspections were up-to-date for the vehicles to which Parsons said that up-to-date inspections did not matter for the state of Massachusetts. Seelig said that it was part of the town’s by-laws. Andrews asked if he was willing to have a site visit by the Board. Parsons said, “I don’t like people on my property. You guys have already tried to break into my property once before. Your building inspector and health inspector tried to break into my house saying I was squatting after living here for a year and a half.” He continued, “I do not like people from your town on my property. You have already shown me that you don’t care… my wife was cowering in the corner with my two-month-old baby.” They agreed to a site visit on the following Saturday.
Town Accountant Sandra Nolan was present to ask for clarifications regarding the bonuses that had been approved for town employees using the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding. Decisions were reached on how to pro-rate the raises for part-time employees as well as whether to issue bonuses to recent hires. Seelig also told the Selectmen that $110,000 in additional ARPA funding was now available to the town. Seelig also told the Selectmen that the town would be receiving $200,000 in grant money through a Green Communities award.
Regarding use of the additional ARPA funds, Andrews, who also serves on the Halifax Elementary School Committee, told the Board that currently the Fire Department is handling the testing required to implement the test and stay program that allows asymptomatic students to stay in school if they are close contacts. There was a question regarding how the Fire Department would be reimbursed for the costs associated with that task. Andrews also asked that the system that allows communication between the various rooms for Town Meeting at the school be purchased and the wires be left in place permanently. Andrews said that given the number of times they have paid for the equipment to be placed and the company to run it, they would have been able to purchase the equipment multiple times over.
There was mention of a few resignations in town as well. Drew McGlincy resigned from the Finance Committee and Special Police Officer Thomas Reed resigned from the Police Department.