The Halifax Board of Selectmen met early on Thursday, May 20, to address a number of issues including an interview with Jill Carr for Council on Aging (COA) Director. Newest Selectman Ashley DiSesa was joined by seasoned selectmen Gordon Andrews and Troy Garron.
Carr, who was the third applicant interviewed thus far, told the selectmen that she has worked in human services for the last 25 years with much of that spent working with elders. “I worked 10 years at adult protective services in Braintree and we covered 11 surrounding towns.” She said she worked closely with the COA of many of those towns. “I’ve always had such a passion working with seniors and being an advocate and a voice for a lot of the seniors that might not have a voice,” she explained. She said that her philosophy has always been to empower seniors and to help them live as independently as possible. “I did recently get my masters in order to strengthen my skills regarding social services,” Carr told Selectmen. Additionally, she said she is very familiar with available resources in Massachusetts saying she has worked closely with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
Garron asked Carr what she would consider her top achievement in working with elderly and other people. Carr cited being a strong advocate and raising awareness as being amongst her proudest accomplishments. “Advocating for an elder’s right to self-determination,” she added. DiSesa asked if she had experience handling a budget. “When I was the Director, we were constantly needing to be handling numbers and maintain a quota… it was my job to track and make sure that numbers were where they are supposed to be,” Carr said. DiSesa also asked if she had experience writing grants. Carr said that while she had not written any, she has worked closely with many who have. Carr said she was also able to meet with Susan Lawless to discuss the Halifax COA. Asked what one word she would choose to describe herself, Carr simply said, “dedicated.”
Andrews explained to Carr that there was currently a plan being looked at to swap the COA building with the museum building in town. He said there would be more to present on that in September. Andrews asked Carr if she had any questions for them and she said she would be eager to hear more about what the goals are for the COA. Andrews noted that the building has been closed to the public since last March and said that opening back up and getting programs running was amongst the most urgent goals. He also noted that there were various spaces around town that could be utilized for the COA. “I think that understanding what spaces are available and how to adequately use them is something that we’d be looking for in a Director right now,” Andrews told Carr.
Following the interview with Carr, the Board tackled their own reorganization. Garron nominated Andrews to serve as chair and he was voted in unanimously. It was also decided that Garron would serve as vice-chair and DiSesa as clerk. Andrews then said he would like to discuss the format of the meetings saying he would like to have department heads come in once every 6-8 weeks to provide an update on their department, both good and bad. Andrews also proposed a spreadsheet for new articles that would show progress toward estimated dates of completion on the various projects. He also recommended having a visual presentation during town meeting that would allow residents to see the motion being voted upon as well as proposed spending, etc. Garron expressed some concern over the cost of such an endeavor. Andrews also said he would like to resume department head meetings again now that the pandemic is dwindling.
The Selectmen then turned their attention to the vacancies on the Halifax Elementary School Committee as well as the Finance Committee. Alison Vance had submitted her resignation from the School Committee and Fred McGovern from the Finance Committee. There was a question sent in email form from Town Moderator Dennis Carmen regarding whether the Board would consider the results from the recent town election in filling the vacancy. The hope was that the person with the next number of votes, or the runner-up, would be considered to fill the position. The email also read, “Additionally will the related experience of each candidate be considered when making this decision; also will any consideration be given to the diversity of the candidate given our society’s building of awareness of diversity, equity, and inclusion issues; I hope the answers to my questions will be yes, and if not, I would be interested in the thoughts of each of the members on the Select Board.”
Andrews reminded those assembled that a vote to fill a vacancy on the Halifax Elementary School Committee would require a vote from both the Board of Selectmen as well as the School Committee. “Basically, the selectmen have heard the voice of the population that the person came in second on the voting scale that should give really good consideration because at least you know they are interested in the position,” Garron said. Andrews said that anyone interested in the position should fill out a talent bank form and a joint meeting would be put together between the Selectmen and the School Committee to hold interviews and have a vote. The meeting is scheduled for June 8.
The Board also fielded a request for a VFW Memorial Day Ceremony. Town Administrator Charlie Seelig noted that the outdoor mask mandate would likely be lifted by then but said he would imagine the event would still include social distancing. The event would be 35-45 minutes long and would occur on the front lawn of the Town Hall. The Board approved the request unanimously. There was another request for an entertainment license for weekly car shows at Walmart. The Board approved the request contingent on the Certificate of Liability being presented to the Board of Health.