Mayor Thomas Koch on Monday introduced a request to borrow an additional $3.5 million for seawall replacement and other related flood-control projects in Adams Shore and Houghs Neck.
The bond, introduced at Monday’s City Council meeting, would bridge the gap between money allocated for those causes last month and the bids the city received for the work over the summer.
The new bond was referred to the council’s finance committee for future consideration. It could not be approved this week because of advertising requirements.
Earlier this year, Koch submitted a request to borrow the $14.32 million to replace the seawall along Adams Shore and Houghs Neck; improve drainage systems in the area behind the new seawall, including a new pumping station; and undertake a study, in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers, of drainage in the Willows Marsh.
Bids for those items came in higher than expected this summer, however, and Koch proposed a $17.82 million bond to cover the costs of the projects on Sept. 16. Councillors could not approve the full amount at that time because of advertising requirements; they instead opted to pass the original $14.32 million bond in a unanimous vote.
The $3.5 million bond introduced Monday covers the difference between the $14.32 million bond approved in September and the $17.82 million cost for the seawall and other projects.
The city has applied for up to $10 million in federal and state grants to offset the cost of the seawall and flood control projects.
Work to replace the seawall between Chickatabot Road and Babcock Street is set to begin March 1. Most of the new seawall will be constructed two feet higher than the barrier it is replacing; the seawall in the area of Terne Road and Norton Beach will be build two feet higher.
The seawall replacement is expected to take nine months.
The drainage improvement projects include hydraulics analysis of the Terne Road, Post Island Road and Bayswater Road areas. Those studies will begin once funding is in place and take three months. It could take up to two years to design, permit and construct the new stormwater pumping station in the area of Post Island Road.
The study of the Willows Marsh drainage system is also set to begin this fall, with draft findings ready in the spring of 2020. The city and Army Corps of Engineers will split the $240,000 cost for the study.
The city also plans to replace the seawall between Babcock Street and Bayswater Road. The project, which would be funded separately, remains in the design phase.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Monday (Oct. 7) reported the state’s first death from a vaping-associated lung injury, a woman in her 60s from Hampshire County, to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She was among the 121 suspected cases that have been reported to DPH since Sept. 11 when Massachusetts began mandating that clinicians immediately report any unexplained vaping-associated lung injury to the department.
Of the 121 suspected reports, 9 cases have been confirmed and 10 are probable for meeting the CDC’s definition of vaping-associated lung injury, nearly double the number of cases DPH reported a week ago to the CDC. At least 39 reports are for patients who have been ruled out as having vaping-associated lung injury.
With the number of suspect cases rising statewide and nationally, Governor Charlie Bakerannounced on September 24th a public health emergency and a four-month statewide ban on sales of all vaping products in Massachusetts. The sales ban applies to all vaping devices and products, including tobacco and marijuana.
“The number of confirmed and probable cases of vaping-associated lung injury we’re seeing continues to escalate and today I was deeply saddened to hear about the death of a patient who had this illness,” said Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD., MPH. “We are investigating these cases as quickly as possible and working with our federal partners to better understand this outbreak.”
DPH issued a clinical advisory on Sept. 11 asking providers to report any case of a person experiencing otherwise unexplained progressive symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, cough, or weight loss, of any severity, and an abnormal chest imaging study associated with vaping. The suspected cases are to be reported to DPH via a form and sent to a confidential fax line.
As of Oct. 1, a total of 1,080 lung injury cases associated with using e-cigarette or vaping products have been reported to the CDC from 48 states and 1 U.S. territory. Eighteen deaths have been confirmed in 15 states, not including the Massachusetts death reported today. All patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette or vaping products. No single product has been linked to all cases of vaping related lung injury.
As a result of Massachusetts’ public health emergency, the Commonwealth implemented a statewide standing order for nicotine replacement products that allows people to access products like gum and patches as a covered benefit through their insurance without requiring an individual prescription, similar to what the Baker Administration did to increase access to naloxone, the opioid antidote. Individuals who are vaping are encouraged to call the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit makingsmokinghistory.org or Mass.gov/QuitVaping to connect to treatment.
Mayor Thomas Koch announced plans Oct. 3rd to purchase a Wollaston office building and transform it into a new special education center that could open as early as next fall, a move the mayor said could save the city upwards of $500,000 annually.
Koch and school officials unveiled the proposal to purchase the three-story, 52,900-square-foot building at 180 Old Colony Ave. at a press conference. The city is in negotiations to purchase the building, which is located behind Central Middle School, from Eastern Nazarene College and the deal could be finalized “very, very soon,” Koch said.
The school system currently transports 152 special education students to schools outside the city, Superintendent Dr. Richard DeCristofaro said, at a cost of $80,000 to $100,000 per student, including transportation and tuition.
The new facility on Old Colony Avenue could accommodate 30 to 40 of those students, Koch said, plus special education students attending other Quincy public schools and students from nearby school districts. The facility would accommodate students from pre-kindergarten to middle school.
The city could save between $300,000 and $500,000 annually by having those 30 to 40 students stay in Quincy, Koch said, even after accounting for debt service payments for the building and the cost to staff and maintain the facility.
“Today we send a lot of children outside of our district to get the care and specialties that they need with these challenges. With this building, we will be able to keep many of our kids here in Quincy without having to be on a bus at least an hour or two a day to and from their home in Quincy. I think that is awesome just to start with,” Koch said.
“At the end of the day, with the acquisition cost, the upgrading costs, the costs to staff the building and maintain the building, we would be saving money. This is a win-win for the families of the city, but also the taxpayers of our city and I’m very delighted.”
Koch said he will submit a request to borrow $8.5 million to purchase and renovate the building to the City Council next week. He is optimistic the council will approve the proposal by the end of 2019, at which point the School Committee and DeCristofaro would draw up plans for the facility.
“The goal is to complete the transaction before the end of the calendar year, and of course I’m looking forward to the support of our City Council, who has always been very supportive of our education side. Then, we will start immediately with the School Committee, the superintendent and the superintendent’s leadership team,” Koch said.
“The goal is to have this open in September of next year, 2020, for that school year. I think certainly from the perspective of getting the building prepared, that is a reasonable time table. As far as the process going, it’s going to be a little aggressive…but I think it’s doable.”
DeCristofaro said the new facility would allow special education students to spend more time in the classroom and less time in transit. The building would also include a parent center to increase parents’ involvement in their children’s education.
“This unique city vision allows us to enhance our special education pathways. With the wonderful space in this building on Old Colony Ave, we will be able to design and continue Quincy’s dedication to our special education children from pre-kindergarten to middle school while serving many more of our students that are within the city at this point in time and ensuring our children will spend less time on transportation and more quality time with our incredibly dedicated staff,” the superintendent said.
“It will also let us enhance parent involvement with a very, very unique parent center, allow us to limit site and program transitions for our students, because this will be their school.”
Emily Lebo, the vice chairwoman of the School Committee, said she looked forward to working with her colleagues and other stakeholders to draw up plans for the new school.
“This is going to allow us to keep so many more of those kids in our district where we know our educators and we know what they are getting,” she said.
“I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues in the School Committee…and QPAC, the Quincy Parents Advisory Council, and special education subcommittee team to do an analysis of the programs and to see which things would work best here and how, so we can offer our full support. We would love to get busy on that work.”
Lebo thanked Koch for proposing to open the new special education center.
“I think this is visionary – I really do. I have been looking for it for a long time,” she said. “The superintendent brings it to us every single year, to see if we can figure out where to place our programs and our kids so that they can get the best education and we can monitor that.
Governor Charlie Baker on Tuesday (Sept. 24) declared a public health emergency in response to confirmed and suspected cases of severe lung disease associated with the use of e-cigarettes and marijuana vaping products in Massachusetts. The governor called for a temporary four-month statewide ban on the sale of flavored and non-flavored vaping products in both retail stores and online. The sales ban applies to all vaping products and devices, including tobacco and marijuana. The ban takes effect immediately and lasts through January 25, 2020.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are currently investigating a multi-state outbreak of lung disease that has been associated with the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges). To date, the CDC has confirmed 530 cases of lung injury across 38 states. While many of the patients reported recent use of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products, some reported using both THC and nicotine products. No single product has been linked to all cases of lung disease.
Earlier this month, the Department of Public Health (DPH) mandated that Massachusetts physicians immediately report any unexplained vaping-associated pulmonary disease to the department. As of today, 61 cases have been reported to DPH. Three confirmed cases and two probable cases of vaping-associated pulmonary disease in the state have already been reported to the CDC. The rest are pending further clinical analysis.
“The use of e-cigarettes and marijuana vaping products is exploding and we are seeing reports of serious lung illnesses, particularly in our young people,”said Baker. “The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents.”
“Vaping products are marketed and sold in nearly 8,000 flavors that make them easier to use and more appealing to youth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Today’s actions include a ban on flavored products, inclusive of mint and menthol, which we know are widely used by young people. It is important that we continue to educate youth and parents about the dangers of vaping.”
Vaping consists of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol (often called vapor) produced by an e-cigarette or similar battery-powered device. E-cigarettes come in many different sizes, types and colors. Some resemble pens, small electronic devices such as USB sticks and other everyday items. The products are often compact and allow for discreet carrying and use – at home, in school hallways and bathrooms and even in classrooms.
The U.S. surgeon general has called teen e-cigarette use an epidemic. According to the CDC, since 2014 e-cigarettes have been the most commonly used tobacco product among both middle and high school students. In Massachusetts, 41 percent of all youth in 2017 reported trying e-cigarettes and 1 in 5 reported using e-cigarettes regularly. Current use of e-cigarettes among high school students is 6 times higher than that for adults (3.3% of adults reported using e-cigarettes in the past 30 days).
Last week, the Baker’s administration convened a group of pulmonary doctors and pediatric experts from Massachusetts to share what they have seen in their patients—especially our youth—and their concerns about the trajectory of vaping related lung disease. The experts shared concerning information about the rapid rate of addiction to e-cigarettes, use and overuse of marijuana vaping products and cases of youth becoming hospitalized within two weeks of using vaping related products.
During the temporary ban, the administration will work with medical experts, state and federal officials to better understand vaping illnesses and work on additional steps to address this public health crisis. This could include legislation and regulations. The Administration will also work on providing more resources for a public awareness campaign and smoking cessation programs.
“Vaping is a public health crisis and it is imperative that we understand its impact at both the individual and overall health care system level,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “As a result of the public health emergency, the Commonwealth is implementing a statewide standing order for nicotine replacement products, like gum and patches, which will allow people to access these products as a covered benefit through their insurance without requiring an individual prescription, similar to what our Administration did to increase access to naloxone.”
Massachusetts has a long history of having a strong tobacco cessation and prevention infrastructure that requires close collaboration between DPH and local health departments which assist with the enforcement of tobacco control policies at the local level.
The administration will work with these groups to ensure the temporary ban is enforced while also increasing the availability of cessation resources and the capacity of the Massachusetts Smokers’ Helpline. The Helpline is a free and confidential service for individuals who seek help to end their tobacco use. The service includes specialized coaching, including behavioral health counseling and connection to local support groups. Over 9,000 individuals are served annually.
The Baker-Polito Administration has strengthened the Helpline’s robust outreach about nicotine replacement therapies so individuals who were previously vaping are not inadvertently steered to traditional cigarettes. Individuals who would like help seeking treatment are encouraged to call the Helpline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit makesmokinghistory.org.
Massachusetts has made significant progress over the past two decades in curbing youth and adult tobacco use. In 1996, the youth smoking rate was 36.7%. Today, the youth smoking rate is 6.4%. The adult smoking rate is also low, with just under 14% of adults using combustible tobacco products.
“Our priority is protecting the public health,” said Public Health Commissioner Bharel, MD, MPH. “The Governor’s actions today will help prevent more cases of this dangerous lung disease while getting people, especially young people, the help they need to quit.”
To further inform the public about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarette use, DPH is relaunching two public awareness campaigns aimed at educating parents and middle and high school-aged youth. “Different Products, Same Danger,” originally launched in April 2019, links the dangers of vaping to cigarette smoking, and was developed with the input and feedback from middle and high school students across the state. “The New Look of Nicotine Addiction,” originally launched in July 2018, seeks to spread the word that these high-tech products are harmful and contain nicotine which can damage a teenager’s developing brain and lead to addiction. More information on both campaigns is available at mass.gov/vaping and getoutraged.org. Materials are also available for download on the Massachusetts Health Promotion Clearinghouse website.
Over the next four months, the Administration will work closely with the Legislature, public health officials and other stakeholders to consider legislative and/or appropriate regulatory reforms.
Norfolk County Sheriff Jerry P. McDermott was joined by District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey and police chiefs from across the county at the Norfolk County Correctional Center Sept. 24 to announce the launch of the “Mass Most Wanted” playing cards in the jail.
Based upon success in other states, Sheriff McDermott created decks of ‘playing cards’ featuring those displayed on the “Mass Most Wanted” list, which is assembled by the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council.
On each playing card, is the picture of someone in the Commonwealth who is either missing, the victim of an unsolved crime, or wanted. In addition, their name, gender, age, geographical information, and details of their occurrence are featured. These cards have been made available to the inmates at the county’s jail in Dedham and can be used during recreation time.
“These playing cards serve as another tool for law enforcement officials to explore ways to find information about unsolved cases,” Sheriff McDermott said. “We owe it to the families in Norfolk County and across the Commonwealth to try new and innovative approaches to help bring home their loved ones and create some closure.”
“Not everyone consistently sees traditional media, so even cases that have had substantial press attention will benefit from finding new ways to spread information,” District Attorney Michael Morrissey said. “Other jurisdictions have had success gaining information and solving cases through these cards. We are pleased to see several of our cases here and hope this helps.”
Quincy police are looking to identify the suspect who robbed a Wollaston convenience store at gunpoint Saturday.
The armed robbery took place at Everest Market, located at 121 Standish Ave., at 8:35 p.m. on Sept. 21.
Police described the suspect as a 5’10” black male who weighed approximately 190 pounds. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with gray paneling on the sides under the arms and on the sleeves, gray pants, black sneakers. He was carrying a two-toned black and silver semi-automatic handgun.
The suspect fled northbound on Standish Avenue – away from Hancock Street – following the robbery.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Rick Wash at email@example.com or 617-745-5762. Tips can also be submitted through the MyPD app.
Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, whose office has responded to 58 fatal overdoses so far this year, supports Attorney General Maura Healey’s decision to keep Massachusetts out of the proposed settlement with Purdue Pharma L.P. and the Sackler family for their role in the ongoing opioid crisis.
“The AG is wisely rejecting a weak, weak settlement,” said Morrissey, who practiced civil litigation for decades before being elected Norfolk DA.
“Purdue’s offer would hide the full scope of any misconduct from the public, would not claw back any profits made unscrupulously, and hardly begins to offset the enormous damage that reckless overprescribing of opiates has caused. Much of that overprescribing links back to doctors being provided misinformation from the drug companies.”
The result, according to Morrissey, is staggering.
“We investigate these deaths and we see a pattern repeated again and again,” Morrissey said. “As young people, often in high school, many had sports or other injuries and were overprescribed opioids. Now 5 and 10 years later, those young people have struggled with substance use disorder until it claimed their lives. The link between today’s deaths and that early misinformation and dishonest marketing is clear.”
\While there is an appropriate focus on overdose deaths, Morrissey said that the impact of the epidemic extends much further. “It is driving much of the property crimes in our region, crashes on the roads that cripple and kill, larceny,” Morrissey said. “And Norfolk County is far from unique in that.”
The end, he said, is not in sight.
“There will be more this week, this month and for years to come,” Morrissey said. “Beyond the loss of life, it represents children who will never know their parents, seniors raising their grandchildren, siblings, spouses, whole communities devastated by a wildfire that these people are being sued for igniting. Millions and millions of tax dollars spent on public safety and social service response.”
In an essay printed in the Washington Post on Sept. 16, Healey explained how the settlement proposed by Purdue Pharma failed to provide accountability, transparency, or sufficient financial compensation.
“In addition to the potential for getting more money to deal with the crisis, it is urgent that we expose how any false advertising, pushing for off-label use, or other corporate misconduct contributed,” Morrissey said. “The next generation of corporate executives needs to know that they will face real consequences for the kind of misconduct that is the subject of the suit.”
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) confirmed Sept. 17 that West Nile virus (WNV) has been detected in mosquitoes collected from Quincy. There was one WNV-positive Culex pipiens/restuans complex mosquito sample (pool) identified from samples collected on Sept. 11.
To date, for 2019, the state has reported 72+ WNV-positive mosquito pools from twelve counties, including at least four from Norfolk County.
While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe infection. WNV is most commonly transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. The City of Quincy Health Department and the MDPH recommend that the public continue to take action to avoid mosquito bites and reduce mosquito populations around their home and neighborhoods.
Limit your time outdoors during peak periods of mosquito activity (dusk and dawn) or, if you must remain outdoors, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
Use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET or Picaridin. Oil of lemon eucalyptus may also be considered. Products with permethrin should only be used on clothing. Always follow the directions on the label. Repellents should not be used on children younger than two months of age. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.
Take special care to cover up the arms and legs of children playing outdoors. When you bring a baby outdoors, cover the baby’s carriage or playpen with mosquito netting.
Fix any holes in your screens and make sure they are tightly attached to all your doors and windows.
Remove any standing water around your home that is available for mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes will begin to breed in any puddle or standing water that lasts for more than four days. Make sure water does not collect and stagnate in ceramic pots, trash cans, recycling containers, old tires, wading pools, birds baths, etc. Remove leaves and debris that may prevent drainage of roof gutters.
Norfolk County mosquito control will be suspending truck spraying for the control of adult mosquitoes after this week, due to cooler temperatures and reduced numbers of mosquitoes found in county traps. They will consider additional spraying if arbovirus surveillance and weather conditions warrant its application.
Information about WNV and reports of WNV activity in Massachusetts during 2019 can be found on the MDPH website at https://www.mass.gov/mosquito-borne-diseases . The Quincy Health Department will continue to work closely with the MDPH Arbovirus Surveillance Program and the Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project on mosquito control and surveillance efforts.
Two Quincy police officers with a combined 45 years of experience received promotions during a recent City Hall ceremony.
Mark Foley was promoted to the lieutenant and Paul Coughlin to the rank of sergeant the morning of Sept. 13 inside the James R. McIntyre Government Center. Dozens of family members and fellow officers past and present filled the Great Hall for the ceremony.
City Clerk Nicole Crispo swore the two officers in and then family members pinned each with his new badge. Foley’s daughter Shannon pinned him with his new lieutenant’s badge and then Coughlin’s uncle Leo Coppens, a retired Quincy police detective who served with the department for more than 30 years, pinned him with the sergeant’s badge.
Foley joined the department in 1988. He served three years on patrol, three years in special operations and then 11 years in the drug control unit before he was promoted to sergeant in 2005. He had most recently been the shift supervisor for the 4 p.m. to midnight shift. Foley will be assigned to one of the night shifts as a lieutenant.
Police Chief Paul Keenan said Foley is well respected by his fellow officers.
“Mark has been around for a lot of years. He’s done an awful lot of things in the Quincy Police Department – motorcycles, he was an outstanding drug officer for a number of years. He is a well-respected sergeant by not only the people that work for him, but the people that work with him,” Keenan said.
“Mark, I can honestly say, is never at a loss for words and he never minces words. You always know what he is thinking, which is kind of refreshing.”
Coughlin became a Boston police officer in 2004 and then joined the Quincy Police Department in 2012. He had most recently been assigned to the traffic division and, as sergeant, will work the midnight shift.
Keenan said Coughlin has been an asset to the department since he transferred from Boston.
“Paul has been on for a few years,” the chief said. “Our gain was Boston’s loss – he transferred over from Boston and has been a great asset for the department both in patrol and in traffic.”
Foley and Coughlin both worked hard to receive their promotions, Keenan said.
“I know how hard these officers have to study to get where they are,” he said. “We’re probably one of the most difficult departments in the commonwealth to get promoted in because we’ve got such an intelligent, enlightened group of men and women who take these tests and study.”
The newly promoted officers will bring a new perspective and new energy to the table, he added.
“It’s always nice to bring a new perspective to the Quincy Police Department,” the chief said.
“Every time we get a new promotion, they bring new ideas to the table and new energy to the table.”
Mayor Thomas Koch thanked the department’s officers for their service to the city on a daily basis.
“We’re living in very dangerous times. I remind people we are not only proud of our veterans and what they do defending us all across the world, fighting for freedom and defending the values that are important to us, but you people do it each and every day on the front lines responding to the needs of all the community,” Koch said.
“There are simple little things, but there are also some very dangerous and complicated issues you deal with each and every day. I’m cognizant of that and on behalf the city I am grateful for that. To our department, I say thank you for all you do each and every day.”
Foley and Coughlin, the mayor added, are both well respected by their colleagues in the department.
“I know today is a great day for both of them individually and their families. I know you worked hard. You both have good names and good reputations in the department. I know you are well-respected by your peers,” Koch said.