By Carol Meyer I miss visiting the Hingham Public Library!
From borrowing all the latest books and donating used novels to the library book store, to meeting with people I'm interviewing for stories and seeking research help from a friendly staff member, the library's closing due to the coronavirus threat leaves a big gap in its patrons' lives.
"These are unprecedented times, and the way we do business changes every day," Library Director Linda Harper said recently.
That said, while the library remains closed until at least May 4 in keeping with the town's physical closure of all non-essential municipal buildings, there's 24/7 access to online library services. The library's facebook page and website (hinghamlibrary.org) are updated regularly.
Many town employees are working from home to the extent possible, and the library staff is no exception. Virtual staff meetings are planned to explore ways the library can continue to provide services in various ways while it remains closed. No library materials will be due or fines accrued, and all holds have been extended during this challenging time. What do you miss most about the library? Are you accessing online services in the meantime?
Hingham voters may find themselves attending the annual Town Meeting at the beginning of summer instead of on the usual spring evening.
Due to Gov. Charlie Baker's recent extension of Massachusetts' stay-at-home advisory to May 4, the Hingham Selectmen decided Tuesday night during a teleconference to postpone the April 27 Town Meeting until June 22 and the May 2 Town Election until June 27. The Selectmen, Town Moderator Michael Puzo, and other town officials will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation.
The new election date means that current elected town officials will serve in their roles longer than expected.
The date changes are possible because local communities, including Hingham, have been granted approval by the state legislature to postpone their annual Town Meeting and town election dates as long as they take place before the June 30 end of the fiscal year.
Proposed new legislation may allow the postponement of Town Meeting even further if necessary depending on the coronavirus situation, but the new town election date will remain the same -- Saturday, June 27.
That's because both absentee and early voting will be done by mail, although communities are required to have a polling place available on the actual election day, according to Town Clerk Eileen McCracken.
More information will be available about the Town Meeting and town election at a later date.
"We will broadcast all the details broadly," Selectmen Chair Karen Johnson said.
What do you think about the date changes? Do you plan to attend Town Meeting this year?
By Carol Meyer The Selectmen declared a state of emergency for Hingham on Tuesday in response to the coronavirus threat.
At the same time, there were high praises for town officials and town department staff for their extraordinary efforts to maintain essential services during this challenging time.
Many Hingham government offices are now closed or their operations altered in an effort to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and to help keep residents and town employees safe.
Town officials say this state of emergency declaration, backdated to March 13, is a practical measure to ensure the town is in the best position "to take all actions necessary to protect the public health, safety, or general welfare of its residents, businesses, and employees" and to further ensure that the town "may fully coordinate with and obtain any available assistance and resources from the state and local government" as needed.
"During Hingham's nearly 400 years of existence, this town has always cared for our neighbors and friends. We look out for each other," the selectmen said in a statement about the state of emergency declaration. "Our social bonds and cultural awareness set us apart."
Accordingly, the Selectmen are asking all citizens to take the state and federal guidelines surrounding social distancing seriously, and to avoid even small gatherings to help prevent the inadvertent spread of COVID-19.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge(s) that the town and you as a citizen are facing during this crisis?
Some people love lots of snow, but I'm not one of them! A light coating that looks pretty sparkling in the sunshine would be the exception.
I used to dread the coming winter months -- and the accompanying heavy clothing and seemingly-endless shoveling -- once fall arrived but realized at some point that I should be focusing my energy on more positive thoughts.
That said, this has been an easy winter so far -- with 50 degree days woven in among colder ones -- and whether we end up getting a snowstorm or two in the near future, I am grateful for the "free ride" we had for most of this winter.
So here's to the arrival of spring on March 20. Let's enjoy every minute of it! Do you like the winter or spring season the most? or both?!!
"Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.” – Rumi
After two amazing years as Executive Director of Harbor Media, I have made the difficult decision to transition out for an opportunity as VP of Marketing at a healthcare company in Boston. My last day will be Friday March 20th.
I am so grateful for what we have accomplished at Harbor Media.
In two years:
we went from 25 members to 150,
won two awards,
got international recognition,
increased hyper-local videos,
built a podcast room,
expanded our editing capabilities,
added the town of Norwell to our services,
created an internship program for students with special needs,
opened up post-production internship program on Newbury Street in Boston,
increased our revenue,
and much more …
We changed the way Public Access thinks and operates with innovative approach and entrepreneurial mindset. I know that Harbor Media will continue to do phenomenal work as it has a stellar team, forward thinking board of directors, all capable of serving this great community, and setting high standards for Public Access.
This has been an incredible experience and a great honor supporting the South Shore communities. I'm thankful for the support of our board, partners, members, team, and volunteers for helping make Harbor Media a great hyper-local institution.
If you wish to stay in touch with me, do not hesitate to reach out. My contact info and Social Media links are on my personal website: http://www.farzadwafapoor.com
I look forward to celebrating all of Harbor Media's future successes together.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” - A.A. Milne
Mark your calendar for the May 2 town election, which will feature two races -- for selectman and school committee. All five candidates returned their completed nomination papers by the March 5 deadline. It's always more exciting when there are races!
The most recent candidate to step forward is Rita Da Silva, who is running unopposed for William Ramsey's planning board seat, which expires this year. Ramsey and Kirk Shilts are candidates for the selectman seat currently occupied by Karen Johnson, who is not running for another term. Shilts now serves on the board of health, the water supply committee, and the sewer commission. There's also a three-way race for two school committee seats among incumbent Michelle Ayer, Stephanie Gertz, and Jennifer Benham. Edward Schreier is not running for another term. The following incumbents, who are running unopposed, also returned their papers: Town Moderator Michael Puzo, board of assessors member Greg Hall, Elizabeth Eldredge of the board of health, Hingham Municipal Light Board member John Ryan, Sewer Commissioner Stephen Harold, Housing Authority member Megan Buhr, and Recreation Commissioner Adrienne Ramsey. Be sure to exercise your right to vote!
When you think of the Hingham Farmers Market, the word "spring" will likely come to mind -- when the regular market opens for the season -- but as in the past several years, HFM is also holding a winter market to help us all get through the long winter months!
This year's winter market is based at the Wompatuck State Park Visitor Center, 204 Union St., in Hingham, for the first time. The Visitor Center is easily reached just inside the park’s Union St. entrance near the high school, with plenty of room to spread out inside, plus ample parking.
Market hours are Saturdays through March from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The new location came about through a cooperative effort with the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
This is the fifth year the HFM has offered a winter market, but the first featuring weekly sessions. Offerings include fresh eggs, poultry, pork, beef, seafood, Mediterranean food, coffee, bone broth, yogurt-based desserts, cookies, and Italian pestos.
For updates and further information, visit the HFM’s website, www.hinghamfarmersmarket.org, or the HFM's Facebook page. HFMarket Matters, the market’s weekly newsletter -- published every Thursday during the market seasons -- offers the most current info. Be sure to sign up on the website or Facebook so you'll be in the loop.
Have you been to the winter market? If so, what are your favorite offerings?
I often remind myself to take the time to "Look around you!"
One late afternoon recently while driving through Hingham on my way home at the end of a busy day, I felt a particularly deep sense of joy and appreciation.
Beautiful homes surrounded me on the left and right, there was a light coating of snow on the ground, windows shed a warm glow from within, and all seemed right with the world. When I arrived home there was a beautiful flower arrangement from one of my sons sitting on the table, which further warmed my heart.
I have always appreciated Hingham -- for its great schools, community spirit, captivating ocean views, overall sense of well-being, and a spirit of generosity in helping friends and neighbors during challenging times in their lives.
Hingham residents rally to a good cause, share an almost endless stream of interesting posts on social media, plant beautiful gardens and take good care of their yards, and support what they consider to be worthy projects and actions at Town Meeting. The list seems endless.
There's no special message here except to suggest taking the time to "Look around you" to discover sights and sounds that you may have never noticed before, however simple. It's a great feeling!
Has anything caught your attention somewhere in Hingham lately that you never noticed before?
A new $7 million South Shore Country Club pool facility, including an eight-lane outdoor pool with splash pad, bathroom/locker rooms, and spectator area -- designed to accommodate a year-round "bubble" -- could open in 2022, contingent on Town Meeting 2021 support for the project.
An opening that year would coincide with the Club's 100th anniversary.
The Community Preservation Committee recently recommended spending $500,000 of the town's Community Preservation Act money for the creation of design/construction documents for a new town pool.
The SSCC Management Committee is hoping to use a combination of additional community Preservation Act funds and town money for the overall project.
Have you been a "regular" at the pool in recent years? If so, where will you go in the meantime?!
There could be a new Hingham Centre playground this spring, as long as there is enough private funding to carry out the plan.
The Selectmen threw their support behind the project recently with that contingency. The old equipment was recently removed.
A group of residents started an initiative in the spring of 2017 to replace the deteriorating play equipment at Powers Field adjacent to the Hingham Centre Cemetery after the town surrounded the area with yellow warning tape due to safety concerns. Supporters have worked with town officials all along the way.
The estimated cost is around $70,000. The group of residents supporting the project has raised about $30,000 so far and has verbal commitments for another $30,000. The remaining fundraising gap is expected to be closed soon.
The most-recent, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act)-compliant design includes a seesaw, swing set with two swings and an attached "saucer" for children with disabilities, and a framed climber to replace the former seesaw, swing set, and jungle gym.
However, not everyone is pleased with the plan. A committee made up of abutters and neighbors who live closeby is meeting to design a more low-key alternative to the approved plan. It's unclear at this time how coming up with an alternative design would affect the Selectmen's support for building the new playground as currently proposed this spring.
What do you think about plans to build a new playground at this location?!