The Halifax Board of Selectmen met on Tuesday, Aug. 11 for their regular, bi-weekly meeting. The in-person meeting was limited per state orders to 12 participants at a time in the room making it necessary for someone to elect to step outside at certain points when the meeting attendance was over the threshold. Town Administrator Charlie Seelig also had to ask that everyone to put on their masks once there were 11 or more individuals in the Great Room. For meetings with 26 or more participants, the town will need to either do it entirely over Zoom or attempt to do a hybrid of in-person and Zoom. Seelig acknowledged that it is difficult for people to be recognized over Zoom if wishing to speak. Seelig asked the Board’s permission to obtain quotes to purchase wireless microphones to help in the process.
Animal Control Officer Interviews
The Board had several appointments for candidates for animal control officer. Amanda Feighery, who was born and raised in Halifax, said she has a great deal of experience in wildlife management. Selectman Troy Garron asked, “I understand you said you’ve dealt with aggressive dogs, but how would you deal with the people who are just as vicious as the dogs?” Feighery cited past jobs where she worked customer service as well as managerial experience. Police Chief Joao Chaves asked about her scheduling flexibility as the position requires attending the academy. Feighery said she had a great deal of flexibility.
Kaitlyn Grispi was next to interview for the position. Grispi said she has been around animals her whole life and told the Board that her parents bred and showed dogs. In addition to horseback riding she said she has also owned and bred pigs. Like Feighery she said she had flexibility with her schedule and wouldn’t have an issue attending the academy. Michael Sampson followed Grispi. Sampson said that while he didn’t have any experience with animal control, he did have experience in policing.
Laura Howe was the final applicant to interview. Howe is currently serving as the animal control officer in Whitman. She said she also assists on calls in Hanson, Abington, and Halifax. She brought up the possibility of having it be a regional position.
“I don’t do anything for the money, this town, that town, all the towns together don’t pay me enough to do the job, I do it because I love the job and I want to be the best help I can be,” Howe explained.
“Joe and I do mutual aid for free, it’s part of what animal control officers do,” she added referring to Abington’s ACO Joseph Kenney. Howe said she has already graduated the academy. She also told the Board that residents of Halifax requested that she come and interview for the position. “Clearly you have the credentials and I don’t want to take up too much of your time,” Selectmen Chairman Tom Millias told Howe.
Beautification Committee Appointments
Adrian Barclay and Michelle Barclay met with the selectmen to be appointed to the Beautification Committee. “We appreciate you stepping forward,” Millias said. Kristen Lofstrom was also scheduled to be appointed to the committee but was unable to attend the selectmen’s meeting. Since Lofstrom came with the recommendation of the Chair of the Beautification Committee, the selectmen voted to approve the appointment of all three.
Eagle Scout Project
Richie Green met with the Board to discuss his Eagle Scout project which he plans to complete before the winter. Green plans to create signage for the cemetery including a directory. “I think this is a great project, especially in a town that’s had so many great projects, it’s getting harder to come up with them,” Millias joked of the many successful Eagle Scouts’ projects over the years. “This is a good one,” Andrews concurred. Andrews asked if Green could also share the map with the selectmen electronically so that it could also be shared online. Green said he could.
Garron complimented the Eagle Scouts for their efforts to better the town. The Board voted to allow Green to move forward with his project.
Complete Streets Program
Highway Surveyor Steve Hayward and a representative from Green Seal also attended the meeting to speak with the Board about the state’s Complete Streets Funding Program. Green Seal is the engineering firm that Hayward has been using on several projects over the years.
The program, as explained by Green Seal, could fund the prioritization of projects in town. Green Seal would work with the town to hopefully be awarded up to $400,000 in grant money available for construction, but not design costs.
Town meeting was once again recessed, this time to Saturday, Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. Seelig said that after speaking with the Finance Committee, the intent is to try everything possible to hold that date. Seelig said that the September date would allow them to have a tax rate hearing and avoid sending out estimated bills to residents. The Board discussed the pros and cons of various locations for town meeting as well.
Seelig asked the Board if they had any questions regarding the list of the town’s election workers. “The list is getting smaller and smaller,” Selectman Gordon Andrews commented. Seelig said that he recognized that there was a shortage of election workers nationwide as many elderly and other high-risk individuals that typically volunteered for the work, were not this year due to COVID. Seelig said, however, that Town Clerk Barbara Gaynor felt satisfied with the number of workers she had.
Seelig read a letter from Chief Chaves regarding commendations for Sergeant Patrick Sterling, Officer Patrick DeRoo, and Officer Andrew Lyczynski. The three officers responded to a call on July 31 indicating that a male was unconscious.
The officers arrived on the scene and found the male in cardiac arrest and immediately began life saving measures. They were able to get a pulse on the patient before fire and EMS personnel arrived and took over life-saving techniques. The patient is recovering.
Chaves said in his letter that according to Fire Chief Jason Viveiros, “Had it not been for the quick actions of the officers at the scene, the patient would not have survived this medical emergency.”
Seelig said that aerial spraying had taken place in Halifax and that the town is now in the high-risk zone.
He said a second round of spraying may take place to achieve maximum effectiveness.
Seelig also told the Board that Robert Johnson has resigned from the Halifax Elementary School Committee. A new member will need to be appointed until the next election.
Amy Troup alerted the Board to her concerns over non-residents causing problems, including violent confrontations, on Halifax’s beaches.
The selectmen had approved non-resident taxpayers to use the beaches but not nonresident, non-taxpayers.
Seelig said it will really come down to asking the Police Chief if he has the capacity to allot more resources to monitor the areas.