By Carol Meyer
The golf season got off to a slow start this year due to COVID-19, but once golf courses were allowed to start operating again under state guidelines, the town-owned South Shore Country Club was the first one to open in the area.
Families, students, and individuals are flocking there to get a breath of fresh air during a time when many people are staying close to home.
Social distancing and other requirements remain in place, but that hasn't seemed to dampen golfers' spirits.
"We've been very busy. There aren't too many open tee times, with the steady flow of golfers," SSCC Executive Director Kevin Whalen said recently. Still, it's worth a try.
The Club is planning to host a family golf day in October to build up anticipation for the SSCC golf course centennial this year.
Even with social distancing in place and a limit of one person per golf cart unless the golfers are members of the same family, the welcoming feel of the 155-acre course hasn't changed.
What some residents don't realize is that SSCC is not a private club. "Everyone is welcome to join or to just come and play golf," Whalen said.
By Carol Meyer
Beach House Hingham -- a new walk-up ice cream shop featuring delicious Gifford's, Bliss, and Richardson flavors -- is a welcome addition to the bathing beach.
This is good news for ice cream-lovers -- including those who will frequent the harbor area during the few remaining days of summer and in the fall days to come -- with beautiful views of the water and of the trees in the nearby grove as their leaves change color.
The owners of Stars on Hingham Harbor, Tosca, Caffe Tosca, and Fireking Baking Company -- which are all part of Eat Well, Inc. -- partnered to make this happen in part of the new bathhouse/snack shop/community room building.
"We thought it would be a great place for an ice cream shop because it is the perfect location right on the beach," Stars on Hingham Harbor General Manager Amanda Albee said recently.
This will be a seasonal business, running from April through October or November, depending on the weather. Hours of operation for the remainder of this season will be 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Social distancing and other COVID-19 requirements will be met.
Bathing Beach Trustee Alan Perrault said the trustees are pleased with this effort to begin to build out the kitchen/snack stand section of the building during these challenging times.
There are no plans to open the new community room this year, but the ice cream shop is a good start toward activating the building.
See you there!
By Carol Meyer
The long-awaited mixed-use building at the site where the former dilapidated Settles Glass building once stood -- at the intersection of North and Station streets -- will include four upscale condominium units and a single retail space on the first floor, soon to be occupied by KloTH Hingham, adding vibrancy to the downtown area.
As part of the approval process, Developer Matt Falconeiri was required to come up with a traffic-calming proposal for this busy area to enhance pedestrian safety -- a plan that was recently approved by the Selectmen.
The goal is to slow down fast-moving motorists, in part by visually narrowing Station Street where it leads to North Street by installing a painted, rather than a physical, island so as not to impede the traffic flow.
Because of its close proximity to the harbor, this development will play a part in the long-held desire of town officials to link Hingham Square and the surrounding area to the waterfront.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power had high praises for the development. "It looks beautiful -- like it fits in and was always there," she said.
By Carol Meyer
I think we all would agree that in many ways this was the summer that wasn't, or at least that was far different from anything else we have ever known -- making vacation plans close to home, if at all; social distancing at the beach; missing so much the canceled traditional live Fourth of July fireworks and parade; wearing face masks while waiting in line for ice cream; and on and on we could go.
But, like this photo, the sun peeked its head through the clouds on many days throughout the summer, in a manner of speaking as well as in real life -- beautiful sunny days, colorful yard flowers adding a cheerful touch, more hours to read and just THINK!, more family time, and many opportunities to help others -- whether sewing face masks, picking up groceries for a neighbor who couldn't get out, or making that phone call you had been meaning to make to add a bright touch to someone's day that you didn't have time to do before.
And despite the challenges, we made it through. And most of us can be grateful for a place to live, food to eat, family and friends to brighten our days, and many other things.
That said, there are people in our own community who are struggling right now -- with unemployment, not enough money to pay their bills, depression and sadness, illness, not enough food for their family's table, and other troubling issues.
Let's continue to be aware of everything and everyone around us and be ready to share a smile, donations to the local food pantry, words of encouragement and support, a home-cooked meal, gift cards, rides to an appointment or the grocery store, and other opportunities to give that come to mind.
As we often hear, we WILL get through this -- working together.
By Carol Meyer
More than 600 enthusiastic shoppers turned out for the long-awaited return of the popular walk-in Hingham Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago -- a scaled-back version due to COVID-19, but still as vibrant as ever.
The market is open every Saturday -- rain or shine -- from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. until Thanksgiving. Even when there are lines to get in -- working around the capacity limit -- patrons wait patiently, happy that the walk-in version is again in place.
Wearing face masks and respecting social distancing guidelines, customers take great pleasure in all the fresh produce, fruit, poultry, beef, fish, lobsters, eggs, plants, cheese, bakery, jams and jellies, and soup surrounding them.
After starting with a drive-through model that required pre-ordering earlier in the season due to COVID-19, the HFM recently gained town board approvals to start-up the walk-in market again. From market organizers and managers, to Friends of the HFM, to other volunteers,
“We’re all here because we love the market and want everyone to share a positive experience," said HFM President Mark Cullings.
The Friends of the Hingham Farmers Market SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) has been reactivated, with The Fruit Center Marketplace continuing as SNAP matching partner. This means that the HFM can continue to supplement its SNAP customers’ purchases up to $15 per week when they buy fruit, produce, fish, eggs, chicken, beef, bread, and other qualifying food products at the market.
The best way to learn about what’s happening -- including how the walk-through market will operate and what customers should know before they arrive -- is to subscribe to the HFM’s newsletter -- "HFMarket Matters" --by going to the market’s website: www.hinghamfarmersmarket.org and opening the “Market News” link under the “About Us” tab.
By Carol Meyer
During these challenging times, at least one thing is certain -- the new school year will look and feel far different from the past, with social distancing, face mask, and other requirements in place.
Regardless of differing opinions among parents as to what's the safest and best way for their children to learn when they return to school Sept. 16, the 100-member Recovery Response Advisory Committee deserves a show of appreciation.
After working tirelessly to determine -- amidst state guidance that changes daily -- whether to recommend an in-school, remote, or hybrid model of learning, the advisory committee felt that a phased-in remote/hybrid option was the safest way to start off the school year due to COVID-19 safety and health concerns, and the School Committee unanimously agreed. The ultimate goal is to return to full in-person learning when it's deemed safe to do so.
Supt. of Schools Paul Austin submitted the Hingham Public Schools "final" 60-plus-page reopening plan to the state recently, subject to change as more state guidance, COVID-19 metrics, and other information is released.
Under the phased-in remote/hybrid plan, student instruction alternates between in-person and remote learning by half weeks (attending school -- with social distancing and other protocols in place -- on either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday), with remote instruction on Wednesdays and any other days that students are not participating in in-person learning.
In the meantime, the School Committee and administration continue to receive a good amount of communication from the community, expressing support and providing feedback, along with offers of volunteer help. "We are working to coordinate all of the offers to donate time, resources, and dollars so the administration can make the best use of community resources," School Committee Chair Kerry Ni said recently.
By Carol Meyer
I don't usually write about financial topics -- I'm no finance wiz by any means -- so this will be an exception.
Hats off to Hingham's financial management team for maintaining the town's AAA bond rating -- the highest credit rating possible from the three major credit-rating agencies -- during this budget-busting COVID-19 economic downturn.
All three rating agencies cited the town’s conservative budgeting practices, prudent fiscal management, healthy reserve (rainy day) fund, and large tax base in their decision to reaffirm Hingham’s AAA rating.
"This is very big news. Hingham is one of a few Massachusetts communities with a AAA bond rating from each of the three rating agencies," Selectmen Chair Mary Power said recently. "To receive these ratings in the midst of a global pandemic is particularly gratifying."
By Carol Meyer
There's nothing like a brightly-colored bouquet of flowers, a blooming hydrangea bush, a 20-foot-high tulip tree that grew from a six-inch seedling, or an eye-catching hanging basket or window box full of vibrant red and white geraniums and other plants to cheer us up during tough times.
In the words of Author Ken Petti, "Every flower blooms in its own time.” All summer long at different times, our yard has been overflowing with flowering hydrangea, rhododendron, azalea, and rose bushes, along with daffodils, irises, crocuses, and some plants and flowers we can't identify but that add beauty to our surroundings -- each blooming at just the right time year in and year out.
Taking a lesson from nature, the same is true for all of us. Sometimes we make good decisions, while other times we make mistakes. Sometimes we are patient, and other times we react too quickly. Sometimes we are kind, while at other times we are inconsiderate.
That said, we can learn from our mistakes and go higher. We can be kinder, more understanding, and compassionate whenever we choose to express those qualities. Every time we take the high road is another step of progress.
We can take heart from the summer bounty of flowers that surrounds us, whether looking out the window on a beautiful summer's day or enjoying some time in the sun while giving the plants and flowers a good watering.
Let's be patient with ourselves and others as we, too, bloom in our own time.
By Carol Meyer
Congratulations to the Hingham High School Class of 2020 for waiting patiently following the disappointing postponement of original graduation plans to allow time to find a way to have an in-person ceremony.
The long wait paid off, because on this coming Saturday, Aug. 1, at 5 p.m., the graduating class will celebrate with a live ceremony on the high school field, albeit it in a different way from the norm, due to COVID-19 requirements.
The seniors will wear face masks and remain socially-distanced from one another throughout the event. There will be no tossing of caps at the end of the ceremony, and each senior may only invite two members of their immediate family to attend.
Despite the challenges, all those involved -- especially the students -- are excited to have their wish for a live ceremony become a reality.
"Thank you for your patience in waiting for the details of this event, as we worked with local officials to make it as fun and memorable as possible," HHS Principal Rick Swanson wrote in a letter to seniors and their parents recently. "We can't wait to see all of our seniors on August 1!"
In accordance with state guidelines, the ceremony will be as brief as possible. The tradition of the graduates coming forward when their names are called to receive their diplomas will continue -- in a different format -- with the diplomas placed on a table rather than handed to them in person by a school official.
For those unable to be there in person due to the guest limit, Harbor Media and Hingham Public Schools will be collaborating in order to provide a live stream. The stream will be available on Harbor Media's Facebook page and on Hingham Public School's Youtube Channel so everyone who is interested may enjoy the ceremony.
"We're grateful for Harbor Media's partnership in memorializing all of our major senior events," Swanson said.
The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 2, at 5 p.m.
By Carol Meyer
A bright new logo will be displayed on Weir River Water System trucks, letterhead, and signs once the transition from Aquarion Water Company to Town of Hingham ownership is completed by the end of July.
The Hingham Selectmen charged the Water Transition and Evaluation Committee with developing a logo for the newly-named system. "We wanted a professionally-designed, identifiable logo that captured its essence," said Committee Chair James Taylor.
The committee interviewed many experienced designers, including Will Uronis of Hull and Steve Pratt of Hingham, who were ultimately hired to design the logo, working as a team.
"The Water Transition and Evaluation Committee believes the new logo represents the quality, cleanliness, and reliability that all customers expect from their water company," Taylor said. "The logo itself is made up of two water droplets which form a portion of the Weir River, a primary source of our water and the basis for the name of the system. Customers will begin seeing this logo used in many ways as the transition to municipal ownership occurs."