Students from Minuteman High School and adult students from Minuteman Technical Institute participated in the SkillsUSA Massachusetts' fall leadership conference in Marlborough on Nov. 22. Four Minuteman
High School students, including one from Arlington, received gold medals for their participation in the day, which included guest speakers, workshops and a community-service project.
The day highluighted the SkillsUSA Framework, which focuses on the personal, technical and workplace skills to ensure that students are career ready. At this event, both the high school and adult Minuteman students participated in a community-service project, building picnic tables for the MetroWest YMCA.
Adam Estapa had already passed two exams needed to become a licensed optician when he was stymied by the third: It was on paper, and he had to fill in little bubbles to show his answers. The problem was he couldn't see them very well.
Estapa, 41, is legally blind. The earlier exams were on the computer, where he could enlarge those omnipresent exam bubbles.
But this test? The testers said no. He got a 35 and failed.
So he challenged the testing protocols and, with the help of the American Board of Opticianry was able to take the final test on the computer. He passed. Easily.
Now he is the only legally blind optician in Massachusetts, he says.
He and his wife, Rachel Estapa, opened Perception Optical at 60 Mass. Ave. in May 2020, two months after Covid hit town.
While they have a range of clients, they especially enjoy helping people with low vision since Adam is well aware of some of their stumbling blocks.
Arlington’s fiscal 2022 tax rate will increase slightly, to $11.42, up from $11.34 in fiscal '21, expanding the average tax bill to $9,646, from $9,405.
The Select Board on Nov. 22 unanimously approved the recommendations of the Board of Assessors. The state Department of Revenue must support the new rate.
“The tax rate will increase by only 8 cents per thousand [of assessed valuation] because Arlington’s home values didn’t significantly increase that much this year,” said Mary W. O’Connor, board of assessors' member. “People in town get wonderful services for what they pay for because this is a very well-run town and offers many amenities.”
As is pointed out annually during the assessors' presentation, the town's single-family house tax rate is significantly lower than neighboring towns of Belmont, Winchester and Lexington, said Paul Tierney, director of assessors.
The average single-family house value in Arlington is now $844,657.
The Verizon antenna contract for telecommunications equipment on the roof of the Hauser building in Arlington Heights drew the attention of the Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) board at its regular monthly meeting Nov. 17 for a number of reasons, affecting the board and residents.
The seven-story building, home to elderly and disabled residents, is the seventh tallest building in Arlington, an advantageous feature for rooftop installation of wireless transmission equipment.
According to Steel in the Air, a company that negotiates lease agreements between property owners and wireless carriers and cell-tower companies, rooftop sites can provide a coverage radius of up to 25 miles to transmit cell phone signals to and from mobile phones to a rooftop receiver – or as far away as Gillette Stadium, Salem and Framingham.
Last July, the board considered a consent letter from Verizon to modify the existing wireless facility at the Hauser building. The special meeting, which was not part of its regular monthly board schedule, went into closed session, and the meeting minutes, while posted to the website, do not contain publicly available information.
UPDATED Dec. 2: The town Zoning Board of Appeals has approved, 5-0, the permit for the proposed development of Thorndike Place -- a key step for the long-stalled housing plan for the 17-acre Mugar site near Route 2.
But the unanimous vote comes with a lengthy series of conditions to which the developer, Oaktree Development of North Cambridge, must adhere. View the final decision here >>
For a summary of the Monday, Nov. 22, session, see meeting notes by Steve Revilak, who is an associate board member and did not vote in this matter. He provides these notes as a public service.
The board has been meeting since April about the permit for the project, first proposed in 2015 and opposed by town officials from the start, largely because of flooding and traffic.
Down at 22 Academy St., AFD Theatre is abuzz with activity. There are just a couple rehearsals left before opening night, and it’s time to work out the final kinks. The technical crew are running through their light and sound cues, while Charlotte Kelley, the props and set dresser, is adding final touches.
“Most people don’t realize how many people it takes to put on a show,” said Ginger Webb, Arlington resident and co-production manager. “More than a dozen people worked to build and paint the set. Volunteers made the drapes and pillows, and even reupholstered an old Victorian couch to match the dark themes of the set.”
Another dozen volunteers are in charge of costumes, hair and makeup, publicity, box office, refreshments, lights, sound, ushering and set design. “Only the director and stage manager get a modest stipend. For everyone else, it’s a labor of love,” she said.
UPDATED Nov. 30: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine updated the Select Board on Nov. 22 about the lack of safety-improvement progress on the Chestnut Street/Mystic Avenue intersection, where resident Ann B. Desrosiers was struck and fatally injured on Dec. 31, 2019.
“In July, MassDOT [Massachusetts Department of Transportation] approved our recommendations, and on July 22 we formally presented MassDOT those plans,” Chapdelaine said.
MassDOT must approve this project.
“After several months of not hearing back, the town engineer followed up with MassDOT on Nov. 9, who then asked the town to resubmit its plans. On Nov. 16, MassDOT said they’ll review and respond, so we’re now back on MassDOT’s radar,” explained Chapdelaine.
“I spoke with our state representative Sean Garballey. MassDOT is reviewing the materials, and once they review them, we’ll hear back.
To commemorate its 100th anniversary, Arlington BSA Scouts Troop 306 recently installed and dedicated a handcrafted picnic table to Magnolia Park (at left).
Weighing more than 600 pounds and spanning 12 feet, the table is crafted from a Dawn Redwood that was removed by the own as part of the Magnolia Park renovation and expansion of the community garden in 2017.
The idea for the table stemmed from a Troop 306 Eagle Scout project discussion with the Parks and Recreation Department about possible project ideas.
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