The new iteration of the Halifax Board of Selectmen met in-person on Tuesday, May 24. Ashley DiSesa, who is now the longest serving selectmen, was nominated and voted in as Chair. DiSesa nominated Alex Meade as Vice-chair saying, “just because he has sat on a board before.” This left Jonathan Selig to serve as Clerk. Meade defeated previous Chair of the Board of Selectmen Gordon Andrews for a three-year term during the latest town election. Selig won a one-year term that was left vacant after the resignation of longtime Selectman Troy Garron.
The Board also worked out who would be the liaison to various town departments and committees. Selig jokingly referred to it as a “fantasy draft.” Selig was elected to be the liaison to the schools as well as the Fire Department. Meade became the liaison to the Highway Department, Cemetery, Capital Planning, and the Finance Committee. DiSesa is the liaison to the Chief Procurement Officer, the Police Department, and Holidays in Holidays. Other assignments were made as well. Later in the meeting, DiSesa was appointed as the Representative for Halifax to the Old Colony Elder Services.
Liquor License Transfer
There was a continuation of the hearing to transfer an alcohol beverage license from Lily Café II to Dragon Lake Village Inc. The owner of Lily Café called it a “bittersweet moment” but said “it is time to move on.” “Thank you for being so great to our town,” DiSesa said. Selig asked, “are the scorpion bowls going to be as good?” The Selectmen approved the transfer of the liquor license.
Talent Bank Forms
DiSesa said they had talent bank forms for Colby Silva, Elizabeth Colling, and Matthew Smith for the Beautification Committee. DiSesa recommended holding interviews with the applicants and the other Selectmen agreed. Amy L. Troup interjected from the audience that Colby Silva had already been appointed and noted her work in cleaning up litter from the town.
Waste Management Contract
The Selectmen met with Todd Koep from DEP and Town Accountant Sandy Nolan regarding the solid waste contract. Nolan said that when the town went to Waste Management to seek a two-year extension of their contract, the price came back quite high. She said that as a result, they went out to bid and the sole bidder had an even higher price. “We are running into an issue because the town of Halifax uses the bags. Most of the trash companies do not want to pick up the trash anymore; they want to use the toters because the truck has the mechanical lift,” Nolan explained. She said that Waste Management has agreed to extend the contract for a year and work with the town on moving toward toters.
“You guys [Halifax] have the lowest pounds per household,” Koep said of the 31 towns he represents. Koep said he would hate to see the trash increase noting that he was in favor of holding off on the transition for a year. “I would like to keep flexibility as far as sizing goes; I know you say other towns can pick up the 35s and I’ve seen trucks pick up the 35s before. Whatever plan we would like to do… we have to make sure that the single person in Halifax Estates with a 35 is not paying the same price as myself, with a family of five, with a larger one; I would ask that we consider a plan that is a sliding scale,” Selig said. Koep called that method a “difficult option” for several reasons. Town Administrator Ed Thorne recommended that the town go with the one-year deal and then form a committee to review all the options. The Selectmen voted to approve the one-year contract.
Highway Surveyor Steve Hayward met with the Board to discuss the rules and regulations for the cremation garden in Halifax. Hayward discussed when and how he would attach flags to veterans’ sites. The Board approved the rules and regulations as laid out by Hayward. They also approved an increase in headstone foundations.
Hayward also showed the Selectmen pictures of Fayette St. from 2nd Ave. “As you can see from the picture, Fayette just stops and 2nd Ave goes from along the trees… they are called paper streets for a reason because only from the map you can see it,” Hayward explained. Hayward said that people in town were starting to complain, and Selig said, “they would like a street.” Hayward said the area in question would never be wide enough to pave or become an accepted road. He said that most towns don’t do anything with paper streets but noted that Halifax does take care of some of them. “How do you want to handle it?” Hayward asked the Selectmen. He showed them a house on the area and said that every winter they get calls from them asking them to plow.
Hayward said that the town has a lot of paper streets and that he was seeking a uniform answer to provide residents on these streets. “It’s usually a court case, that’s how they handle it,” Hayward said. “I think we need some legal guidance on this,” DiSesa said. They agreed to talk to town counsel and move further discussion on the issue to their next meeting. They also briefly discussed the paving of the ends of driveways that are damaged by town plows. Hayward said that in neighboring Plympton, residents must get a permit before paving their driveway. They agreed to move that to the following meeting as well after seeking advice from town counsel.
Pride Day Update
Lori Costa-Cline met with the Board to provide a Pride Day update. She said that they were able to secure a disc jockey “after a lot of effort.” As a result, she was seeking a live entertainment permit. She also said that they have 25 vendors and said they are anticipating a crowd. They will likely need a police detail at the event as well. She said that some vendors have requested electricity and asked if they could use the Town Hall’s electricity. The Selectmen approved the live entertainment permit and use of electricity presuming all necessary paperwork was filled out. “I would welcome all to come, it’s going to be a really fun, family-friendly event,” Costa-Cline said.
Town Green Request
There was a request by the Council on Aging (COA) for use of the town green on July 15. COA Director Darlene Regan told the Board that they were using a Mass Cultural Council grant to pay for a guitarist. She said they may also have an ice cream truck or some other type of food vendor. The Selectmen voted to approve the use of the town green.
Correspondence from Regional School Committee
Selig read correspondence from the Regional School Committee Chair Paula Hatch that said, “The Silver Lake Regional School Committee has been contacted by Jim Hickey, Selectman from Hanson and Chairman of their De-regionalization Feasibility Study Committee, the town of Hanson is considering terminating their existing regionalization agreement with the town of Whitman and is exploring alternatives for their schools. Jim has requested a meeting with the appropriate parties to have a high-level discussion about the possibility of Hanson joining our regional school district.” The letter said the issue is in it’s “infancy.” DiSesa said that they would reach out to Hatch and let her know that they would be willing to entertain a meeting on the matter.
Nolan told the Selectmen that Plymouth County Treasurer Tom O’Brien said that the second half of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are being held up, but it should be temporary, and the funds should be received in June. DiSesa asked that the issue be moved to the next meeting.
Search for New Town Administrator
DiSesa told the other Selectmen that there are three if not four potential candidates who will be interviewed on June 1. “Hopefully we will have a new TA soon,” DiSesa said. “No offense Ed, we love you; I know you don’t want to stay forever,” she said to Thorne.
DiSesa said that Plympton is getting Fios. She said that Halifax isn’t happy with Comcast, and she wanted to find out how other towns are getting Fios. IT Director Cesar Calouro was in attendance for the discussion. Thorne said that he would set up a meeting with Calouro and the attorney handling negotiations for the town. “If he has a pros and cons and reasons why we shouldn’t I would like to hear it…I think it is important that we are looking at all options because I know that the community as a whole wasn’t really happy with Comcast and they were being told it was the only option,” DiSesa said.
Town Administrator’s Update
Thorne said that a letter from the Governor said that the town would be receiving $250,000 to support local economic recovery. He said he had a call in to Representative Josh Cutler’s office to find out more about it. He said there were other earmarks that he said, “were normal for the legislature.” One is $20,000 for the replacement of water fountains with water bottle refill stations in town buildings.
Thorne also told the Selectmen about a Department of Transportation (DOT) letter regarding a winter recovery assistance program. “This is part of, I believe, the COVID program… the town is going to get… $174,524,” Thorne explained. He said it was based on the town’s 52 miles.