SHIRLEY – When the selectmen are in session, the main meeting room in the Town Offices rarely packs in a full house, even in the best of times. Monday night was no exception, nor the best of times.
As Chairman Bryan Sawyer pointed out when he opened the meeting, these are “uncertain times” that call for adjustments, changes in the way the town does business.
Later in the session, he enumerated some of those changes.
Last week, the board canceled all “non essential” public meetings in town, Sawyer said and all town buildings and playgrounds are now closed to the public, as are the schools. But citizens can contact Town Administrator Mike McGovern in the selectmen’s office if they need to conduct town business.
Town employees, including the DPW, are on the job, however, although at some point most town hall staff may be working from home. “I assure you…town government continues to function,” Sawyer said.
There’s been one confirmed case of Covid-19 in Shirley, Sawyer said.
The Nashoba Associated Boards of Health notified the town in a letter that spelled out what citizens should know. For example, that all protocols are being followed.
NABH has a list of people the individual recently came in contact with and they will be notified and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, according to the letter, which further states that if you haven’t received a call by now, it’s likely you were not on the list.
Sawyer also reminded folks that they can pay bills on line, get updates on the town website, and if necessary, drop off correspondence in the drop box outside the town offices, next to the front door.
Otherwise, he asked citizens to “please do your part…stay home if you’re sick, practice social distancing and check in on others who might need assistance.”
In other news, the special state election is off for March 31 and on for June 2.
The special election, called to fill the state representative’s seat vacated by Jennifer Benson in January and previously set for March 31, has been postponed. The reset date is June 2, same time and place.
Town Clerk Bill Oelfke explained. “The commonwealth officially postponed (the election) so don’t show up on March 31,” he said. Absentee ballots, previously printed, still stand and anyone who wants an absentee ballot can get one, from now until the day before the election, June 1, at noon.
The ballot reads March 31, Oelfke said, but it’s still valid and if you have already filed or sent in an absentee ballot, it’s been stored for safekeeping and will be counted on June 2.
In other business, the selectmen appointed former long-time town building inspector Donald Farrar to serve as an alternate in his old job, filling in for the town’s part-time building commissioner, Edward Cataldo, who works full-time in Groton. “Last week, he was unable to come in and perform his duties for us, so we needed to add an alternate,” McGovern explained.
Farrar has decades of experience and the necessary certificates and licenses, which are current, McGovern said, so he’s able to do it all, with one exception: final occupancy permits, which requires a licensed building commissioner to sign off. Otherwise, the new arrangement is good to go.
Contacted Tuesday morning, administrative assistant Mike Gibbons said details were still in flux but as it stands now, Farrar’s hours will likely mirror Cataldo’s – 17 hours a week, in the office. When it opens again, that is. Meantime, if building permit applications come in, he can start the process.
The board also appointed a new reserve police officer, Monicka Jean-Baptiste and approved a request from DPW Director Brandon Kelly to seat a Storm Water Bylaw committee. Members will include a Planning Board member, a DPW representative and a citizen.