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Hinsdale Newsletter – November 2020
 
Hi Everyone:

Let me start by thanking all participants and those who assisted the Town Clerk's Office during the election this week.  People were extremely patient and cooperative, and we are grateful for that in this town. I hope that we all keep that spirit going as we head into the holiday season and that we collectively remain vigilant until there is a vaccine to stop this virus.  Below you can see that the State has issued more Orders and Advisories, which Public Health Officials believe will help slow the creeping outbreak.  You can also read about Plunkett's activity and the plan to complete the work on Old Dalton Road this coming week.

Stay healthy, and please have a safe Thanksgiving.

Sincerely,

Bob
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Election Kudos
 
Thanks to Town Clerk Dawn Frissell and Associate Clerk Mary Lou Galliher for their hard work and effort in running a successful election process during the pandemic.  Additionally, thanks to all who helped the Clerk’s Office with the election this year.
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Halloween Kudos

A very special THANKS to the organizers, volunteers, and local organizations, including the First Congregational Church (FCC), Lions Club, Dayz Committee, Fireman's Association, Police Department, Library, several families and friends, and anyone inadvertently left out, who created and provided “THE HINSDALE HALLOWEEN HOOTENANNY” for the community. 
 
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COVID: New Orders and Advisories (effective Nov. 6, 2020 at 12:01 AM)
 
BOSTON — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a series of targeted measures to disrupt the increasing trend of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Governor Charlie Baker announced these changes at a time where public health data has indicated that cases are rising, with cases up by 278% and hospitalizations up by 145% since Labor Day. These measures are meant to disrupt rising trends now, so the Commonwealth can keep the economy and schools open for residents and to prevent the need to roll back to Phase I or Phase II of the reopening plan.

Stay at Home Advisory: The Administration issued a revised Stay at Home Advisory to ensure residents avoid unnecessary activities that can lead to increased COVID-19 transmission. The revised Stay at Home Advisory instructs residents to stay home between 10 PM and 5 AM. The Advisory allows for activities such as going to work, running critical errands to get groceries and address health needs, and taking a walk.
Click here to read the revised Stay At Home Advisory: www.mass.gov/stayhome.
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Early Closure of Businesses and Activities: Governor Baker issued a new executive order that requires the early closure of certain businesses and activities each night at 9:30 PM. The 9:30 PM closure requirement is aligned with the Stay at Home Advisory and together the two new initiatives are designed to further limit activities that could lead to COVID-19 transmission.
Effective November 6, the following businesses and activities must close to the public each day between the hours of 9:30 PM and 5:00 AM.
  • Restaurants (in-person dining must cease at 9:30 PM, although takeout and delivery may continue for food and non-alcoholic beverages, but not alcohol)
  • Liquor stores and other retail establishments that sell alcohol must cease alcohol sales at 9:30 PM (but may continue to sell other products)
  • Adult-use marijuana sales must cease at 9:30 PM (not including medical marijuana)
  • Indoor & outdoor events
  • Theaters/movie theaters (including drive-in movie theaters), and performance venues (indoor and outdoor)
  • Youth and adult amateur sports activities
  • Golf facilities
  • Recreational boating and boating businesses
  • Outdoor recreational experiences
  • Casinos and horse tracks/simulcast facilities
  • Driving and flight schools
  • Zoos, botanical gardens, wildlife reserves, nature centers
  • Close contact personal services (such as hair and nail salons)
  • Gyms, Fitness Centers and Health Clubs
  • Indoor and outdoor pools
  • Museums/cultural & historical facilities/guided tours
 
Click here to read the new executive order (including a full list of businesses required to close at 9:30 PM).
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Face Covering Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order related to face-coverings. The revised order requires all persons to wear face-coverings in all public places, even where they are able to maintain 6 feet of distance from others. The revised order still allows for an exception for residents who cannot wear a face-covering due to a medical or disabling condition, but it allows employers to require employees to provide proof of such a condition. It also allows schools to require that students participating in in-person learning provide proof of such a medical or disabling condition.
Click here to read the revised face-coverings order.
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Gatherings Order: Governor Baker also signed an updated order restricting gatherings. The new gatherings order reduces the gathering size limit for gatherings at private residences: indoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings at private residences are limited to 25 people. The limit on gatherings held in public spaces and at event venues (e.g. wedding venues) remains the same. The new order also requires that all gatherings (regardless of size or location) must end and disperse by 9:30 PM.

The new gatherings order also requires that organizers of gatherings report known positive COVID-19 cases to the local health department in that community and requires organizers to cooperate with contact tracing. The gatherings order authorizes continued enforcement by local health and police departments and specifies that fines for violating the gathering order will be $500 for each person above the limit at a particular gathering.
Click here to read the order of the revised gathering.

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What these new Advisories and Orders mean for Hinsdale Committee Meetings
These new gathering restrictions will mean that Hinsdale's Committee, Commission, and Board meetings will need to take place on Zoom.  Watch for new information on meeting postings, which will have internet links and call-in telephone numbers for those who would like to attend to do so through telecommunication or the internet.

 
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Plunkett Lake News
  • Gate Valve Repairs – Roach Brothers, the contractor who installed the gate valve in 2018 and will repair the mechanism that operates the valve, reports the parts-delivery has been delayed.  We now expect delivery around Thanksgiving. The contractor has assured me that his crew will be on-site making the repairs within 24 of the delivery.  However, this delay has impacted the winter drawdown.
 
  • Gate Valve Management – Once the repairs are made, Highway Superintendent Bud Hall and members of his staff will be trained to operate the valve by the Foresight Land Services staff.  They will then monitor and maintain a detailed log, which we plan to periodically update on the website.  Once the details of the log and the process are sorted out, we let residents know where to see the reports.
 
  • Winter Drawdown Plan B – Given the delay receiving the valve’s repair parts and the need to begin the drawdown, Select Board Member Ray Bolduc fabricated a gravity-fed siphon out of PVC pipe.  Then, with help from Larry Turner, Jim Chivers, and Doug Olds (in the wet-suit) only needed a few attempts to get the siphon working.  KUDOS to them all for their ingenuity and effort to start the drawdown.  We also need to thank Jimmy Fox and Conservation Agent Caleb Mitchell for helping out with the plan earlier in the week. 
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Batter Boards Improvements (short-term fix) – When the Gate Valve was replaced in 2018, the dam was also going through its biennial inspection. At that time, we were informed that the existing batter board system was damaged and needed to be replaced. The Office of Dam Safety allowed us to pay for the replacement from the 2018 grant we received to fund the Gate Valve Replacement.  However, the work needed to be completed within the approved grant’s funding timeline in order to qualify for the reimbursement. 


Fay Engineering designed and installed the current batter board system (or more accurately described as swing-boards or swing-doors) that replaced the former system.  I concede that the swing-board system is less than perfect, and we insisted that Fay made adjustments to it in 2019, and again last May when he installed the membrane overs the boards, prior to his untimely death in June. While not ideal, the system appears to be functioning better.
 
Once the lake level is down to the winter level, we will modify the membrane to fit on three of the swing doors, and cover the remainder with a new sheet of the membrane material.  This modification will be completed by a contractor yet to be determined, but Bud Hall is already seeking input and bids from local contractors who made be interested in the project.  We believe this adjustment will minimize leakage the we experienced early last spring and still allow for appropriate drainage in an emergency situation.
 
Parenthetically, batter board (and swing-board) systems are designed to fail/break in extreme weather conditions. However, having the ability to reduce the downstream flow in such an event would be less-harmful than a full momentary breach, which is why it is desirable to maintain that ability to open a couple doors in the event of a severe storm.

 
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Spillway Replacement (a long-term fix that will include replacing the swing-boards) – The Plunkett Spillway is old and in need of repair.  This is no secret, but the project has been put off for many years.  While not an emergency situation, the State has called the matter to the Town’s attention and it needs to be addressed. 
 
To eventually address this, the Lake Management Committee plans to ask for an ATM Article in 2021, requesting funding to hire an engineer to design a new Spillway.  If approved, a consulting engineer to draft plans for a replacement, which will include replacing the swing-board system, and we will use those plans to seek grant funding for the project.  It may take two or three years before we are successful in securing such a grant, but want to be transparent about it by laying out a plan and working towards this goal. 
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Cyanobacteria/Algae Bloom Update - On October 20, 2020, we notified you of an alleged Algae Bloom in Plunkett.  The Board of Health is still waiting for the lab test results.  We will post the results on the website as soon as the information is received.  

To read the complete Public Health Advisory (2-pages) and the Frequently Asked Questions on Algae Blooms (1-page), click here.
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Old Dalton Road Completion

The Old Dalton Road project will be wrapping up early next week once the lines are painted and the signs are installed. It has taken longer than we had originally planned, but it appears to have been well worth the wait.  We owe our gratitude to our contractor and the staff of Warner Brothers, project engineer Mark Levasseur and the staff at Foresight Land Services, and the Hinsdale Highway Department for the successful completion of this road restoration project. 
 
We are grateful for the support from Peru and Dalton Town, members of the staff at Mass DOT/Division 1 in Lenox, Hinsdale’s Country Road Co-op, Berkshire Regional Planning Commission staff members Clete Kus and Anuja Koirala for their traffic study and grant-writing advice, State Senator Adam Hinds, and State Representative Paul Mark. 
 
Finally, we thank the Baker-Polito Administration, Director of Governor Baker’s Western Mass Office Patrick Carnevale, and to Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy, and his staff at the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development for their support of Hinsdale and their on-going commitment to the Mass Works Infrastructure Program.
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