Submitted by William C. Ramsey, Chairman of Veterans Services,
Jonathan R. Asher, Treasurer of Veterans Services,
SCPO Keith A. Jermyn, USN, Director of Veterans Services
This January 14th will be the 5th anniversary of a tragedy that we here in Hingham remember all too well – WE lost a son of Hingham that day. His devotion to our community, state, and nation reminds us all that Freedom is never free!
The Corporal Christopher J. Orlando, USMC Memorial Scholar Fund was established just over four years ago as a tribute to one of Hingham’s finest. A 2010 graduate of Hingham High who made a conscious decision of service over self, and in doing so, made the ultimate sacrifice. Unfortunately, during a nighttime helicopter training mission over the Hawaiian Islands, this young man, along with elven others Marines were involved in a mid-air crash in which there were no survivors.
The Military, along with assets from the Coast Guard searched tirelessly to recover these brave souls, but were unable to gain full accountability of all twelve onboard. Only nine sets of remains were discovered after a very lengthy search. After continuing their - “Leave No Man Behind” mantra, the Marine Corps finally called off the search In April of 2016, nearly four months after the initial tragedy. CPL Orlando was not among those recovered and he remains listed as missing; lost-at-sea, to this day.
At this time of year, we are reminded of the bravery of all our young men and women who Stand-the-Watch; guarding the gates of freedom. So to honor this son of Hingham, a Memorial Scholarship was established with the help of an Ad-Hock Committee, The Town Treasurer, and HHS Staff.
We are currently asking members of the community for financial support in the form of donations to this worthy cause, to perpetuate the memory of CPL Christopher J. Orlando, USMC. The $2,500.00 scholarship is awarded annually to Hingham High Senior who plans to pursue a career in the military, police, fire or vocational technical fields.
The Town Treasurer/Collector, at 210 Central Street, receives and accounts for all donations to the CPL Christopher J. Orlando Memorial, USMC Scholarship Fund. Since the scholarship fund is a Hingham municipal account, each donation is tax-deductible under section 170(c) (1) of the Internal Revenue Code, as it was made for a public purpose. There is no ‘management fee’ overhead associated with administration of the scholarship fund, so 100% of each contribution is directed to the annual scholarship to perpetuate his memory.
Thank you in advance for any support you or your business can provide in helping keep this funding threshold viable; thereby helping to honor Corporal Orlando and his service so that his memory will endure for many years to come.
By Carol Britton Meyer
The subject of a potential Proposition 2-1/2 override has become a recurring theme at recent town government meetings and on social media.
The annual property tax on the average assessed Hingham home value of $877,640 is $10,254. The allowed annual Proposition 2-1/2 increase adds an additional $256 a year, and a $1 million override would add a further $111 property tax increase, as an example.
By comparison, for a $100 million borrowing, the average property tax increase would be about $1,000 a year. That figure was floated during a recent town budget forecast update due to the town's high capacity for borrowing and the large number of capital projects under consideration. These include a potential public safety facility, expanded senior center, and Foster School renovation or new building, among others.
At recent meetings, a number of parents have advocated for an override to "fully fund" the schools.
While seeking an override is a long and involved process and requires both a Town Meeting and ballot box majority vote, some citizens say they are up to the task.
Selectmen Chair Mary Power said during a recent such discussion that Hingham "is not a community that does overrides all that often, and an override at any point in this community is a big deal, while in other communities you might expect one every couple of years."
Also to be considered is the fact that some Hingham residents -- including many on fixed low incomes -- couldn't afford to pay for an override -- which becomes part of the permanent tax base -- on top of regular Proposition 2-1/2 increases, and could be forced to leave town.
That's not to say an override isn't possible but "there are fundamental questions we would have to answer," Power said. "[Those advocating for an override would] need to [convince voters] that the money would be spent wisely," among other considerations.
That said, many parents, School Committee members, and others think an override is the way to go to provide more funding for the schools -- and possibly for other town projects.
In light of recent discussions, Power stated that the Selectmen are committed "to ensuring that all voices and different perspectives are both valued and respected" during further override conversations.
By Carol Britton Meyer
As a way to make town government and meetings more accessible for all citizens, the Town of Hingham has enabled Zoom's "Live Transcript" feature for all of its Zoom meetings.
When people log into a Zoom meeting, they will now see a new button at the bottom of the screen that says, "Live Transcript," which works similarly to closed captioning, although not as reliable, Selectman Mary Power explained at a recent board meeting.
This is a temporary solution. "Moving forward, we would like to explore closed captioning and other opportunities such as large-print warrants and ways to facilitate communication for hearing-impaired citizens during live meetings, including Town Meeting," Power said. The recently-reactivated Commission on Disabilities will assist with these efforts.
Don't forget to tune into Harbor Media's Government Programming! You can catch it any time on our Video on Demand. Click below to find out more.
By Carol Britton Meyer
At first I wasn't sure what to write about for the upcoming new year. But after giving it more thought, I realized that the way to go is "hopeful."
Jan. 1, 2021 signifies a fresh start for us all -- no matter what we've been through, despite dashed hopes and the fear that sometimes plagues us, and regardless of where we're at right now, there is hope -- for healing, joy, promises fulfilled despite the challenges, love, and peace in the new year.
That said, I share here some of my favorite New Year's quotes:
Happy New Year to you all!
By Carol Britton Meyer
Have you ever considered running for a town office?
Nomination papers will be available in the Town Clerk's Office starting Jan. 2 for citizens who wish to do so for the May 1 election.
Among those with terms expiring in 2021 is longtime Town Clerk Eileen McCracken, who recently announced that she will retire at the end of her current term.
Nomination papers will be available through March 2 and are due back to the Town Clerk’s Office by Thursday, March 4. Call (781) 741-1410 for more information.
Fifty certified signatures of voters registered in the Town of Hingham are required for a nomination paper to be valid. Candidates are advised to obtain additional signatures.
Elected town officials with terms expiring in 2021 are :
Michael J. Puzo – Moderator, One Year
Mary M. Power - Board of Selectmen, Three Years
Eileen A. McCracken – Town Clerk, Three Years
Carlton M. Chambers -- Board of Assessors, Three Years
Peter B. Bickford -- Board of Health, Three Years
John A. Stoddard, Jr. – Municipal Light Board, Three Year
Elizabeth Emerson Lewiecki -- School Committee, Three Years
Kerry J. Ni – School Committee, Three Years
Gary S. Tondorf- Dick -- Planning Board, Five Years
Robert M. Higgins -- Sewer Commission, Three Years
(Appointment by state) – Housing Authority, Five Years
Bruce Thompson – Recreation Commission, Five Years
By Carol Meyer
There's nothing like reading a good novel or other book to soothe the soul.
I have always been a "bookworm," and proud of it! It's not an appealing-sounding term, but the definition -- "a person devoted to reading" -- sounds good to me.
I shy away from another definition I found in an online dictionary: "the larva of a wood-boring beetle that feeds on the paper and glue in books." Not so appealing, but then again I'm not an insect!
I always bring a book with me, wherever I go -- reading makes long waits easier. During challenging times, the right kind of book can transport you to a different place and time -- perhaps one that's more peaceful or less hectic.
Elin Hilderbrand's beach reads, John Cheever's tales that so perfectly capture suburbia, and Jodi Picoult's provocative books -- I could go on and on -- I’ve read them all!
The words, “Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be,” (Anonymous) sums it all up.
By: Carol Britton Meyer
The MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board took a formal vote on proposed service cuts late Monday afternoon following a four-hour meeting as follows:
* The Hingham-Hull ferry will be maintained but at reduced levels of service (more details later). Direct ferry service between Hingham and Boston will be suspended. These service changes will go into effect by late January 2021.
* The Greenbush commuter train will run weekdays until 9 p.m., at a reduced frequency -- with an emphasis on peak runs -- with the elimination of weekend service starting in March 2021. In addition, the commuter rail will run at a reduced winter schedule starting in late January 2021.
* The 714 bus service that runs between Pemberton Point, Hull, and Station Street, Hingham will be maintained. Service levels will be reduced starting next March.
The Board also voted to revisit ridership by March 15, 2021 to consider whether service levels could be restored.
Sen. Patrick O'Connor said in a Facebook post, "the overwhelming feedback from those on the South Shore had a direct impact on the adjustments made by the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board. Thank you to those who spoke up and to the MBTA's FMCB for listening to us."
By Carol Britton Meyer
While this is a different holiday season from the usual -- whether you and your family celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or another special day or days -- we can still enjoy all the good that surrounds us.
Gatherings may be smaller than usual, and we might think twice before traveling over the state border, but we can experience and appreciate all the holiday cheer that surrounds us despite the challenges.
Downtown Hingham and other shopping areas are merry and bright, and the traditional white lights on Main Street -- with some colored ones mixed in! -- add a festive touch.
It's been a year like no other, for sure, so let's make it the best holiday season ever -- sharing joy wherever we go; feeling and expressing gratitude for all the good in our lives; taking time just to be still and savor the moment; donating to a local gift/food drive for those who are struggling -- especially this year -- sending a holiday card to a friend we haven't talked with for awhile; and much more.
Wishing peace, harmony, and joy to you all during this very different time.
By Carol Britton Meyer
Three cheers for those Hingham businesses -- retail, restaurants, and everything in-between -- that have made it through this challenging year. Some didn't and are missed.
Property taxes may seem like a boring subject, but the Selectmen's recent decision to follow tradition by maintaining a single tax rate for all town properties -- residential and commercial -- was a show of support for all Hingham businesses, especially those who are struggling during this time of economic uncertainty.
A split tax rate would shift some of the tax burden from residential to commercial property. However, with commercial properties comprising only a small portion of the town's total valuation, any shift of the tax burden in that direction would be detrimental to the town's businesses, especially during these times.
"Local business owners have expressed gratitude to the town for keeping the same tax rate. Many of the businesses, especially in downtown Hingham, are smaller stores and would have difficulty paying a higher tax rate," Hingham Director of Assessing Erin Walsh said recently. "Many of these local businesses contribute generously to our students by donating to various fundraising efforts benefitting many sports, theater, and other programs."
It's been a difficult year for Hingham businesses -- and heading into winter poses its own challenges -- so let's support our local retail shops, restaurants, and other services throughout the holiday season and beyond.
By Carol Britton Meyer
By a narrow margin, Special Town Meeting voters supported the $5.5 million purchase of a parcel of land on Lincoln Street for potential use as a combined Hingham Police and Fire Department public safety building.
This paves the way for a possible much-needed expansion of the senior center to serve the town's growing older population -- into the space currently occupied by the police station -- if the project moves to completion.
Because a borrowing is involved, a two-thirds vote was required. Of the 453 voters present, 314 supported the purchase, while 139 did not.
The socially-distanced meeting was held outside on the Hingham High School multi-purpose athletic field due to COVID-19. The weather was unseasonably mild, with temperatures in the mid- to high-50s and some sunshine.
The total cost of the proposed public safety facility project -- with the most recent estimate at about $35 million -- was not the subject of this Special Town Meeting vote -- nor were voters asked to approve or to fund the building of the facility at this time. The cost would be lower if the scope and size of the project changes.
More details will be available as the process unfolds.