LETTER: Families Impacted by 4-Alarm Fire Thank the Many Who Helped Them

Dear Friends,

As you all know on January 24th, 2020 a 4-alarm fire forced 11 families to move from our homes. There are so many to thank and we all hope that we are not forgetting anyone. Thank you to the young woman who frantically banged on each of the doors to get everyone out of the houses while Watertown Fire Department rushed to the scene. Thank you, all the Watertown Fire Department, as well as the surrounding towns who responded to the call for help. A special thank you to the fireman that went into a home several times to find a scared cat and Animal Control for taking good care of the animals until we got them back.

OP-ED: Sen. Brownsberger Discusses Voting by Mail in Mass.

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston:

Massachusetts voters will have three options in the statewide elections this fall: They will be able to vote early by mail, vote early in person, or vote in person on election day. The Massachusetts Senate passed a bill providing these options (Tuesday, June 16) and the House has already passed a similar bill. Our hope is that final legislation will be on the Governor’s desk very shortly. The new voting options are intended to reduce the risks of transmitting COVID-19. We hope that many voters will choose to vote by mail and avoid physically appearing at the polls.

LETTER: Parent Critical of Watertown School’s Slow Response to Racial Issues

I sat on replying to this for some time because I am pretty angry like many people are. But maybe not for the same reasons you all are. 

In the WPS Statement: (WPS) “are committed to confronting racism in our school community, as well as creating and ensuring welcoming, affirming, and supportive learning spaces for every single one of our students and their families. We commit to our efforts to promote and live anti-racism and social justice in our schools, as well as to serve and support the distinct needs of our students and families of color who are far too often targets of racism and racist acts.” This is absolute [B–s–]. 

My husband and I spoke at a school committee meeting on January 6th about bullying and racism. I spoke up for multiple families who were too afraid to speak for themselves out of fear of retaliation and others who had tried and received a bunch of lip service and no serious support.

LETTER: Resident Worries About Sick Buildings, Asbestos in Cunniff’s Temporary Home

The following statement was provided by Mary Russo, Watertown resident and former Watertown teacher:

I. Issue One: Watertown, sick buildings, our babies, and Covid 19

Sick building issues have been political losers in Watertown because of long latencies.  That is mostly because the most serious illnesses – in particular asbestos related ones – can take 30 years or more to manifest. 30 years of legal non-compliance and negligence have been ignored at the local and state levels. Easy to hide and hard prove things with 30 year latencies. But political reality is about to change for two reasons. The coronavirus is an immediate threat.

LETTER: Local Peace Activists Protest Raytheon’s Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Peace activists from Watertown joined a protest against Raytheon for selling arms to Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, May 16, Peace Activists from Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment joined others from Massachusetts Peace Action and from Veterans for Peace to protest local company Raytheon’s continuing partnership with Saudi Arabia in the destruction of Yemen, even in the midst of a global pandemic. The people of Yemen have been enduring famine and war for over 5 years. Now they face the threat of COVID-19 with a public health system that has been horribly damaged by war. Local Activists stood along the sidewalk of Route 2 at Fresh Pond Shopping Center early Saturday afternoon.

Sen. Brownsberger: After Re-opening, Efforts Must Continue to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following piece was written by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, who represents Watertown, Belmont and parts of Boston. When we begin to reopen, whenever that occurs, we will all need to accept continued personal responsibility for controlling the spread of COVID-19. 

Governor Baker faces difficult judgment calls about the pacing of reopening.  Without expressing an opinion on the particulars of his judgment calls, he is taking fundamentally the right approach – namely, an incremental and data-driven approach.  

For all the reasons that we had to shut down, the potential consequences of re-opening too fast are unacceptable.  Given the risk of a catastrophic second surge, the only safe way to proceed is incrementally.  We will want to open in phases and evaluate the disease statistics daily for any early indication of an upswing. 

As we slowly reopen while the virus is still at large in the community, it will be more important than ever to do the basic things that all the public health professionals tell us will reduce the rate of transmission:  Wear masks, don’t touch our faces, wash our hands frequently and especially after making contact with high touch surfaces, stay home when we feel sick, work from home whenever we can, maintain physical distance from each other. 

Some businesses and employers will need to change their operations to support more distancing.  If the conclusion is that people have to come in, can they come in on some kind of shift system?  Does everyone need to come together at the same time? 

The Governor  bears primary responsibility for pacing the reopening, but it will be on all of us to take the personal precautions that will make the reopening work.  People managing the work of others will bear special responsibility for protecting their employees.  Customer-facing business managers will bear special responsibility for protecting their customers.

An Open Letter to WHS Seniors from Wayside & the Watertown Youth Coalition

One of the signs that went up around town to celebrate Watertown High School’s graduating seniors. This letter was written by Lisa Gibalerio, Prevention Specialist, for Wayside Youth & Family Support Network and the Watertown Youth Coalition. Dear Seniors:

When the news came down last month that schools across Massachusetts would not reopen for the rest of the school year, a collective thud of disappointment resounded across town from you and your parents. The news confirmed what had been feared since schools closed back in March: there will be no spring athletic season, no awards ceremony honoring four grueling years, no prom, no Senior Week activities, and, perhaps most crushing of all, no graduation ceremony and no All Night Party. All time-honored events.

LETTER: Local Authors, Photographers Seek Help with Children’s Picture Book About Watertown

Dear Watertown residents past and present,

I am asking for your help with a picture book which will be titled “W is for Watertown: A Watertown, Massachusetts ABC Book.” This book will be modeled in the style of regional ABC books where each letter of the alphabet goes along with a local landmark(s). For example, in the Boston ABC books “F is for Fenway Park.” These types of books are intended for young children (infants/toddlers through first grade) to learn more about their community; the goal with this book is to create a fun educational book for the youngest Watertown residents. Usually, these books are illustrated, but for “W is for Watertown: A Watertown, Massachusetts ABC Book” my colleagues and I will be taking photographs of Watertown’s landmarks and locations. In this project, I will be working with photographer Eleni Demos and Vice President of Ideas and Innovations In Early Childhood Education Raseel Alahmed. Some Watertown landmarks are obvious inclusions in a book like this such as “P is for Perkins School for the Blind” or “B is for Brigham House, Browne House, and Bemis Park.” However, even with research, there is a possibility we might miss some important locations and landmarks in Watertown.