Retiring Board of Health Member Honored by Council, New Member Appointed

GradientDr. Barbara Beck. The City Council recently honored Watertown Board of Health board member Barbara Beck for her 28 years of service. When she announced her retirement from the Board of Health, the City Council passed a proclamation honoring Beck. “I’ve been really honored to serve on the Board of Health,” Beck said. “We started off working on hazardous materials recycling form auto body shops all they way through the pandemic to biotechs, it’s been a learning experience and an honor to be able to serve the people of this community.”

Council Committees to Interview Nominees for Multiple Boards

Photo by Charlie BreitroseWatertown City Hall

A pair of City Council Committees will interview nominees for appointment or reappointment to the Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, Board of Health, and the Affordable Housing Trust. The Committee on Economic Development and Planning will consider the appointment of Samuel Odamah to the Zoning Board in a term expiring in February 2025. They will also consider reappointing Christopher Heep to the Zoning Board for a term running until February 2028, and the reappointment of Payson Whitney III to the Planning Board for a term ending in February 2026. The remote meeting will be held Wednesday, Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. See the agenda and how to tune in by clicking here.

Watertown BioSafety Committee Shares How it Oversees Life Science Companies

An illustration of the different BioSafety Level labs. Watertown has more than 60 life science companies, and more on the way, and they must go through the Watertown BioSafety Committee before they can start operating. Last week, the City Council got an update on what the committee has been doing in its first 2.5 years. The BioSafety Committee was formed as part of the Watertown Biotechnology Regulation, which was adopted by the Watertown Board of Health in 2019 and took effect in July 2020. Existing companies had to come before the BioSafety Committee within a year of the regulations taking effect, and new companies had to come before the committee.

LETTER: Resident Concerned About Loss of Staff From Health Department

(The following was first presented to the City Council during the Public Forum at the July 12, 2022 Council Meeting)

I am speaking to you about my concern over the long-standing problems within our Health Department. My information is from my attendance at Board of Health meetings, a review of minutes of public meetings, and my communications with members of the community and City staff. I read a statement at the January Board of Health meeting detailing my concerns, and what I described has since grown worse. In essence I asked the BOH to look beyond the Department Head reports and examine the reasons so many talented people are leaving our city vulnerable during what was such a critical time. I am appealing to the City Council to exercise their charter-mandated oversight responsibility and hold an Executive Session to address the situation. 

My key concerns within the Health Department are:

• An alarming attrition rate: around 8 employees in the last 3 years.

Physician Wanted to Serve on Watertown Board of Health

Charlie BreitroseWatertown City Hall

The following information was provided by the City of Watertown:

The City of Watertown is seeking a Physician to be a member on the Board of Health for a term expiring February 2023. Board of Health members develop policy, rules and regulations that guides the Public Health of our community in Watertown. State law requires that at least one member of the Board is a Physician. The Board of Health provides for fulfillment of its duties under M.G.L. 111:5, 26-33 and other sections including enforcement of the state Sanitary and Environmental Codes, reporting diseases dangerous to the public health, and enforcement of other applicable state and local laws and regulations. The Board of Health determines the health needs of the community (and the health services available to the community) in terms of the size and characteristics of the population, specific health problems, and environmental conditions.

Board of Health Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate Citing Sharp Increases in COVID-19 Cases

People must wear face masks or coverings in Watertown while inside after the Board of Health reinstated the indoor face covering mandate Monday night. Health Director Larry Ramdin said cases of COVID-19 in Watertown have increased sharply since early November, and recommended the indoor face mask mandate be reinstated. The Board of Health voted unanimously to start the mandate on Dec. 21, 2021, and it will be in effect until rescinded by the Board. “We have had an explosion of cases in Town since the 3rd of November,” Ramdin said.