By Carol Britton Meyer
Attention, ferry and commuter rail fans -- it's time to take action!
Due to a COVID-19-related reduction in ridership and the accompanying loss of revenue, the MBTA is proposing major Greenbush commuter rail service cuts and possible elimination of Hingham/Hull ferry service. About 50 percent of Hingham and Cohasset commuters normally take public transportation.
Town officials and local legislators are urging residents of Hingham and surrounding communities to rally around the effort to prevent these what many call "devastating" cutbacks to happen. Not only will riders be affected, but also Smart Growth developments that have marketed their close proximity to public transportation as a big plus.
The MBTA is expected to make a decision about which services to cut on Dec. 7.
For more details and to find out how to make your voice heard and/or to join the effort, visit the https://www.savetheferry.org/ website.
By Carol Britton Meyer
For those who have been wondering what Halloween will be like this year, or whether trick-or-treating will be discouraged in Hingham, here's the scoop.
Even though this Halloween will be very different from ones in the past, your children may go trick-or-treating even during a pandemic "to the extent that individuals and families feel it is safe to participate in Halloween activities this year," in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines outlined in the "COVID-19 Halloween Guidance" post on the Hingham town website. It's important for everyone to follow these guidelines to help ensure a safe and healthy Halloween for your and other families.
"The question [of whether to 'cancel' trick-or-treating] has arisen in past years when Halloween weather forecasts were poor," Selectmen Chair Mary Power said recently. "The Town of Hingham hasn't made decisions about Halloween in past years, and we are not inclined to do so this year. We do encourage residents to follow the Center for Disease Control guidelines, particularly with respect to gatherings."
Visit https://www.hingham-ma.gov/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=879 for Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommendations and for CDC guidance.
A few examples of CDC advice that really stand out are:
Trick-or-treaters are also urged to avoid singing, chanting, or shouting, especially when not wearing a face mask and when they are within six feet of other children or adults.
Have a happy, safe Halloween!
By Carol Britton Meyer
There's no time like the present to support our local restaurants!
Brian Houlihan, owner of the Trident Galley & Raw Bar at the Hingham Shipyard, The Parrot in Hull, and three other South Shore restaurants, is among the many independent restaurant owners and other Massachusetts Restaurants United members who recently advocated at the State House for proposed legislation geared toward helping local restaurants struggling to stay in business during the pandemic.
Stephanie Burke -- who owns Lenny's Hideaway in Cohasset with her husband, Derek -- and Houlihan are leading the MRU's South Shore effort.
"We need numbers," Houlihan said recently. "Together we can make a difference."
Now that Fall has arrived, the outdoor dining season will soon come to an end, and much-reduced inside seating due to state COVID-19 regulations will continue to add to restaurant owners' woes.
The proposed economic aid package includes a Distressed Restaurant Relief Fund that would offer one-time grants to restaurant owners that could be used to cover rent, payroll, insurance, and other expenses, but that proposed bill is still pending.
Now that the number of restaurants involved is growing, "the next step is spreading the word so Gov. Charlie Baker will take us more seriously and listen to our issues. We were all shut down by the government, and we need to get some kind of relief," Houlihan said.
According to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, 20 percent of eateries have closed permanently due to COVID-19 impacts.
Let's continue to support our local restaurants!
For further information or to join the MRU, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Carol Meyer
School officials remain committed to developing an equity and inclusion plan for the Hingham Public Schools, despite delays from having to shift their focus to COVID-19-related issues to help ensure the health and safety of students and staff.
Asst. Supt. of Schools Jamie LaBillois provided an update on the Equity Task Force to the School Committee recently. He was pleased to report that 46 educators participated in five separate book groups this summer, reading books related to educational equity.
Among the many initiatives is ensuring that each classroom library includes a variety of stories representing people of different cultures.
The HPS vision of equity developed by the task force states that "regardless of student background, experience, and knowledge, Hingham Public Schools students will be provided with opportunities and resources to develop socially, emotionally, and academically in a safe, supportive, enriching, and bias-free environment."
The SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) faculty analysis is expected to be ready by late October, and a report on the task force's findings and work at an as-yet-undetermined time.
"Our equity team is incredibly engaged," LaBillois said.
Every vote counts!
By: Carol Meyer
Voting by mail is an option for the Nov. 3 state/presidential election. Early in-person voting and voting on Election Day are also available. Every vote counts!
The Town Clerk's Office has received a number of inquiries from Hingham registered voters about when they will receive their vote-by-mail ballots.
The deadline for the ballots — which are mailed by the state — to reach local town clerks' offices is Oct. 5, according to Hingham Town Clerk Eileen McCracken. The ballots will be mailed to those who requested them once that happens. Maybe by the time you read this you’ll have received yours!
Voting by mail is available to all registered voters due to COVID-19. The recommended date to return an application is no later than Oct. 20, but voters are encouraged to submit their requests as soon as possible to help ensure they will receive their ballots in plenty of time.
The deadline to register for the November 3 election is Saturday, October 24.
For information about early in-person voting, Election Day voting, and other details, visit https://www.hingham-ma.gov/428/Election-Voter-Information. Those who vote in person are asked to wear a face mask and to social distance.