MA DPH Confirms First Influenza-Associated Pediatric Death Of This Flu Season

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Thursday (Jan. 23) confirmed the first influenza-associated pediatric death of this flu season in the state. The child was a teenager, lived in Worcester County and tested positive for influenza B.

Last flu season, there were four confirmed pediatric (individuals under the age of 18) flu-related deaths in Massachusetts.  As of Jan. 11, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported a total of 39 influenza-associated pediatric deaths this flu season nationwide.

DPH continues to urge people who have not received a flu shot to get vaccinated. There is no shortage of vaccine. People who think they may have the flu should call their healthcare provider for guidance and possible treatment.  This is particularly important for people with pre-existing health conditions that may make them more susceptible to serious illness when they get the flu.

“I feel immense sorrow for the family of this child. This is a tragic reminder of how serious the flu can be for both children and adults,’’ said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “Every flu season is different, but January and February are typically the height of flu season. We want people to know that it’s not too late to get a flu shot.”

This season, between 2,000-3,000 Massachusetts residents have been hospitalized with the flu, and there have been 15,000 – 20,000 emergency room visits.  DPH tracks flu severity in its weekly flu report published each Friday.

“Flu vaccination is our best protection against illness,” said Dr. Larry Madoff, Medical Director, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences. “People also should remember to wash their hands, cover their cough and sneeze, and stay home when they are sick to limit the spread of disease.”

The most common symptoms of flu are fever, cough, and sore throat.  Symptoms can also include body aches, headache, chills, runny nose, and feeling very tired.  Some people, especially young children, may also have diarrhea and vomiting.  Symptoms last from a few days to up to a week or more.

To stop flu from spreading, DPH recommends that people:

• Contact their healthcare provider if they think they have the flu, especially if they have health concerns that make them more likely to develop severe illness when sick with the flu. The provider may prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started early in the illness.  If symptoms do not improve or worsen rapidly, they should seek medical attention immediately.

• Get the flu vaccine as soon as possible.  Vaccine is still available, and there is likely to be flu activity for many more weeks.

• Stay home when they are sick with fever and cough or a sore throat, if possible.  People should stay at home until at least 24 hours after their fever is gone, without the use of fever-reducing medications.

• Wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, or use hand sanitizer.

• Cover their coughs and sneezes.

The flu virus is spread through droplets of saliva and mucus from the nose and mouth. If you are close enough to a person with the flu (3-to-6 feet) when they cough or sneeze, you can breathe in the virus and get sick. The flu virus can also live for a short time on things you touch, such as doorknobs, phones, and toys. Adults with flu can spread the virus one day before symptoms appear to approximately one week after.  Children can spread the flu even longer after they get sick.

For more information about influenza, visit www.mass.gov/flu

For questions, call your local board of health, your healthcare provider, or DPH at (617) 983-6800.

County Sheriff Candidate Jimmy Coughlin Raises Over $67,000

Jimmy Coughlin, a retired State Police detective captain running for Norfolk County sheriff, has closed out the 2019 cycle first in fundraising.  Coughlin, a Dedham Democrat, raised over $67,000 in 2019 and leads the field of Democrats in cash-on-hand.

Jimmy Coughlin

Coughlin’s list of contributors includes support from over 420 individuals and prominent law enforcement organizations, including the Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union (MCOFU), Massachusetts Chief Probation Officers, and Massachusetts State Police Commissioned Officers.

Coughlin said, “Since declaring my candidacy in May, we have built a strong, grassroots organization across every community in Norfolk County.  Residents in each of our cities and towns are looking for a sheriff who has the background and vision necessary to make our region a safer place to live, work, raise a family, and retire.”

He continued, “As the only candidate running with professional experience in law enforcement and criminal justice, I have a plan to prevent crime and reduce recidivism – increasing access to addiction treatment, recovery programming, and mental health services for non-violent drug offenders, by initiating education and community programs that engage at-risk youth, saving taxpayers money through a more sustainable department, and working collaboratively with Corrections Officers to ensure safe and healthy conditions for all.”

Coughlin served with distinction on the Massachusetts State Police for 29 years, starting as a trooper in uniform, and being promoted up the ranks as a detective and eventually detective captain, where he held several management positions.

Coughlin is a dedicated member of his community – as a member of the Sons of the American Legion Post #18 in Dedham and coaching youth hockey and Little League.  He is a lifelong resident of Dedham where he and his wife, Leslie, raised their four children.  Coughlin is a graduate of UMass Amherst and has a master’s degree in criminal justice from Anna Maria College.

To date, two three other candidates have also announced bids for Norfolk County sheriff. They are Quincy Democrats Patrick McDermott and William Phelan and Westwood Republican Jerry McDermott. Patrick McDermott is the current Register of Probate who is vacating his seat to run for sheriff. Phelan is a former Quincy mayor and also served two years on the Quincy School Committee. Jerry McDermott was appointed sheriff by Gov. Charlie Baker after former sheriff Michael Bellotti vacated the seat to become the interim president of Quincy College.

Noel DiBona Democratic Candidate For Register Of Probate

City Councillor-at-Large Noel DiBona officially announces his candidacy for Register of Probate of Norfolk County.

Noel DiBona

DiBona, who began his political career in 2013 as a Quincy School Committee member, has served as a Quincy city councillor-at-large since 2016, and has been elected to three consecutive terms.  If elected as the Register of Probate, DiBona said he will continue to serve in his councilor-at-large seat and complete the remainder of his current two-year term.

DiBona has been a small business owner in Quincy for the last 24 years, managing Russ DiBona & Son Landscape & Snow.  DiBona graduated from Quincy High School in 1993, and holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and business administration from the University of Massachusetts-Boston.

DiBona has been employed by the Norfolk County Sheriff’s office since 2016, where he currently serves as re-entry program coordinator for inmates.  DiBona previously served as a senior community services coordinator for the Sheriff’s office, assisting senior citizens in scam and fraud prevention at facilities for the elderly throughout Norfolk County.  If elected as the Register of the Probate, DiBona said he plans to improve all services provided by the court, and pledges to be a consistent strong advocate for attorneys, judges, clients, and citizens.

“I am seeking the seat as the Register of Probate of Norfolk County because I have a strong desire to serve and assist others.  Virtually everyone will encounter an experience with probate, whether it is a birth, a death, or divorce.  Your experience with the court should be managed with compassion and empathy.  I will apply my business management background to the official record keeping and customer service areas of the court to ensure that the public always has the best experience possible, especially during tough times,”  DiBona said.

“The decision to run for Norfolk County Register of Probate has been a family decision.  Following discussions with my wife, Niamh, and other family members we collaboratively decided that I should seek the seat and they are all 100% behind the decision,” DiBona added.

DiBona will be running as a Democrat.  The primary election is set for Tuesday, Sept. 1st and if successful in the primary, the final election will be on Nov. 3rd.

The Committee to Elect Noel DiBona will be holding a campaign kickoff event at Alba Restaurant at 1486 Hancock St. in Quincy Center on Thursday, Feb. 27th from 5 to 8 p.m. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.

Injured NQ Hockey Player ‘Doing Well, Exceeding Expectations’

A fund to help with the medical expenses of a North Quincy High School hockey player who suffered a severe neck injury in a game Jan. 8 has been established by the young man’s aunt.

Connor Kulig, a 17-year-old forward and senior hockey captain, was checked by a Scituate opponent as he crossed the red line tumbling head and neck first into the boards in front of the North Quincy bench. The impact fractured and dislocated Connor’s cervical vertebrae. The force also moved his spine, dissecting his vertebral artery.

After being rushed to Children’s Hospital in Boston, Connor underwent nearly five hours of surgery to repair his spine. He was soon making miraculous progress as movement of his extremities returned little by little. One week later, he stood up by himself and also took a few steps.

Connor’s mom said in a statement Monday that her son is “doing well, though he has a bit of a long road ahead. He is definitely exceeding expectations at this time and thankfully has regained mobility and is working on balance and fine motor skills and a lot of the little day-to-day things we take for granted, such as dressing.

“He is not independent as yet,” she continued. “He will be having a second neck surgery in the near future. They are closely monitoring his vertebral artery that was dissected during the trauma and based on the stability of it, an additional surgery will follow to better stabilize his neck.

“We have everything to be grateful for and I attribute it to the surgical/medical care and God answering our prayers, without a doubt.”

News of Connor’s injury quickly spread across the close-knit North Quincy High School community and beyond thanks in part to social media. Expressions of support have come from professional hockey players including Boston Bruin Charlie Coyle, a Weymouth native, who reached out via Twitter.

Connor’s aunt and Dawn’s sister, Anne, set up an online fund to help with the young man’s medical expenses. The fund has reached more than $48,000 of its $50,000 goal as of Monday. To donate, visit: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1063201530706217/

Former Mayor William Phelan Candidate For Norfolk County Sheriff

Former Quincy mayor Bill Phelan announced Wednesday that he has joined the race for Norfolk County Sheriff.

William Phelan

In his announcement, Phelan discussed his excitement to travel across the county to personally speak with voters. Phelan also highlighted the need to address recidivism, the opioid crisis and addiction treatment, inmate wellbeing, and top-notch training for corrections officers.

“My career in public service has been about helping people, that’s why I’m running for sheriff. My campaign is focused on bringing practical reforms to our county’s criminal justice system,” Phelan said. “When we alleviate the causes of recidivism, we give the people in our care a chance to flourish upon reentry while also keeping our community safe.”

Phelan served three terms as mayor of Quincy — from 2002 to 2008 — and was on the school committee for two years before that. As mayor, Phelan implemented a nationally recognized 10-year plan to end homelessness. Phelan also kept taxes low while significantly raising teacher salaries, instituting city-wide full-day kindergarten, and reducing class sizes, he stated in his campaign announcement.

Phelan, a Quincy Democrat, will hold his campaign launch party at the Neighborhood Club of Quincy, 27 Glendale Rd, Quincy., on Jan. 30th at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the press and public.

Quincy College, ENC To Honor Former Mayor James Sheets At Basketball Game Jan. 21

Quincy College Granite Athletics in collaboration with Eastern Nazarene College will hold the first annual Jim Sheets Cup, in recognition and celebration of the lasting impact and legacy of Former Quincy mayor, state representative and city councillor Jim Sheets.
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, Quincy College men’s basketball will play Eastern Nazarene College Junior Varsity Team at the Lahue Gym at Eastern Nazarene College located on Wendell Avenue in Quincy.
The Jim Sheets Cup competition consists of three friendly basketball matches during the Quincy College Granite Men’s Basketball season between Quincy College and Eastern Nazarene College with the overall winner of three games being awarded the Jim Sheets Cup for that year.
The first annual presentation of the Jim Sheets Cup will be at halftime on Jan. 21. Quincy College has won two of the three basketball games during the 2019-2020 season and will be awarded the Jim Sheets Cup.
“Jim Sheets has been an integral part of the Quincy community and a strong supporter of the Quincy College Granite Athletics program along with Eastern Nazarene College. This is a small gesture to honor him and his commitment to our organizations,” said Quincy College Granite Athletics Director Jack Raymer.
Sheets has been a long standing faculty member of Quincy College teaching political science at the college. He received a bachelor’s degree in history/theology from Eastern Nazarene College.
The Quincy College Granite Men’s Basketball team is ranked #1 in Region 21 and ranked #8 in the nation in the NJCAA Men’s Basketball Division 3. The team has been led by Anthony Peacock and a team of stellar athletes. Anthony Peacock is leading the region in field goal percentage (68.4%) and rebounds per game (13.8%). Damani Scott-Hankerson is second in the region is field goal percentage (66.9%), and Clarence Jefferson is fourth in the region in field goal percentage (62.5%).  Jerome Stephens is fifth in the region in rebounds per game (11.6%).
Learn more about Quincy College Granite Athletics, visit: quincycollege.edu/granite.
For more information on the Jim Sheets Cup, visit: https://quincycollege.edu/events/qc-mens-basketball-12120/

City Council Committee Chairs Chosen

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Quincy City Council’s committees will have a different look this term, with each of the three committees of the whole getting new chairpersons.

The appointments, made by Council President Nina Liang, were finalized this week. The council will continue to have three committees of the whole – finance, ordinance and oversight – and 14 committees with five members each.

Ward 1 Councillor David McCarthy is the new chairman of the finance committee and Ward 3 Councillor Ian Cain will serve as the vice chairman. Cain had been the committee’s chairman during the past two years; then Ward 5 Councillor Kirsten Hughes, who did not run for re-election in 2019, was the vice chairwoman during the last term.

Councillor Anne Mahoney is the new chairwoman of the ordinance committee and Ward 2 Councillor Brad Croall, previously the council president, is the committee’s new vice chairman. Liang had been the chairwoman of the committee the past two years with Councillor Noel DiBona as the vice chairman.

DiBona is the new chairman of the oversight committee and Ward 4 Councillor Brian Palmucci will serve as its vice chairman. Palmucci had been the chairman of the oversight committee for the last six years and Mahoney was the committee’s vice chairwoman during the last term.

Cain is the new chairman of the community engagement committee. Other members of the five-person committee include Liang (vice chairwoman), Croall, Mahoney and Ward 6 Councillor William Harris. Liang had been the committee’s vice chairwoman since its inception four years ago.

New Ward 5 Councillor Charles Phelan Jr. will serve as the chairman of the downtown and economic growth committee; other members of the committee include McCarthy (vice chairman), Croall, Mahoney and Palmucci. Hughes, the former Ward 5 councillor, was the committee’s chairwoman the last two years.

McCarthy is the new chairman of the education committee and will serve on the committee with Mahoney (vice chairwoman), DiBona, Harris and Palmucci. Mahoney had been the chairwoman the past two years.

Harris will continue to serve as the chairman of the environmental and public health committee. Joining him on the committee are Croall (vice chairman), Cain, McCarthy and Phelan.

Cain is the new chairman of the housing committee and will be joined by Palmucci (vice chairman), Croall, Harris and Phelan. Palmucci had been the chairman of the committee last term.

Phelan is the new chairman of the library and historic places committee and Cain its vice chairman. They will be joined by Harris, Liang and Palmucci. Hughes had been the committee’s chairwoman last term.

Mahoney will continue on the chairwoman of the municipal technology and information management committee with Phelan as its new vice chairman. Rounding out the committee are Harris, McCarthy and Palmucci.

Phelan is the new park and recreation committee chairman and Harris its vice chairman. They will be joined by Croall, DiBona and Palmucci. McCarthy had been the committee’s chairman the last two years.

Harris is the new public buildings committee chairman and Palmucci will serve as its vice chairman. Also on the committee are Cain, DiBona and Phelan. McCarthy had been the committee’s chairman last term.

Palmucci will continue to serve as the chairman of the public safety committee and will be joined by Harris (vice chairman), DiBona, Mahoney and Phelan.

Harris will continue to be the chairman of the public works committee. Joining him are Croall (vice chairman), Cain, DiBona and Phelan.

Palmucci will be the chairman of the rules committee, a chairmanship he also had last term. Joining him on that committee are Cain (vice chairman), Mahoney, McCarthy and Phelan.

Croall will remain the chairman of the senior citizens committee and will be joined by DiBona (vice chairman), Cain, Harris and McCarthy.

DiBona will stay on as the chairman of the veterans services committee and Harris will stay its vice chairman. They will be joined by Cain, Croall and McCarthy.

Quincy Democrats To Hold Day Of Service Monday

The Quincy Democratic City Committee will hold its second annual day of service Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Photo courtesy QDCC.

The Quincy Democratic City Committee and volunteers from all across the South Shore will gather together Monday at the Stop and Shop Community Room at 65 Newport Avenue to prepare bagged lunches for delivery to Father Bill’s & Mainspring, an area shelter for the homeless.

The group is organizing the day of service in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

“We think the best way to honor Dr. King’s legacy is to provide for our neighbors in need,” said QDCC Chair Alicia Gardner. “This is the first of many service-oriented events that the Quincy Democrats will host this year. Anyone who would like to donate some of their time is welcome to participate!”

This will be the second year of the service project. Last year’s event had over 25 volunteers of all ages coming together to make over 200 bagged lunches for the shelter.

“Whatever your political affiliation, Quincy is a community,” said Rep. Bruce Ayers, a Quincy Democrat. “By coming together and helping one another, we show that even as our city grows and changes, our civic values of service, compassion and altruism remain the same.”

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Jan. 20. Volunteers with transportation are encouraged to assist with bringing the bagged lunches from the Stop and Shop Community Room to Father Bill’s starting at 1 p.m.

All locations are ADA accessible, and anyone who wishes to attend can RSVP by visiting the Quincy Democratic City Committee web site at quincydems.com.

Man Charged For Inappropriate Comments To Underage Girls

By SCOTT JACKSON

A 20-year-old Quincy man has been charged with making inappropriate comments to underage girl after he turned himself in to police Monday.

Benjamin Chen turned himself in to Quincy police Monday, according to the department, shortly after police announced they were looking for a man who allegedly made inappropriate comments towards underage girls on three occasions earlier this month.

Chen was charged with enticing a minor, accosting a person of the opposite sex and soliciting sex for a fee. He was due to be arraigned Tuesday in Quincy District Court.

Police on Monday said they received their first report of a man approaching an underage girl on Jan. 9; the incident took place on Coddington Street around 4:30 p.m. that evening. The victim told officers an Asian male approached her and made inappropriate remarks. The man was operating an older model, gray, four-door car with scratches, police said.

Officers spoke to a second victim the following day. She told police an Asian male approached her the prior afternoon, Jan. 9, around 4 p.m. while she was walking on Taffrail Road in the area of Palmer Street. The second victim’s description of the male was similar to the one given by the Coddington Street victim, according to police, and the second victim stated she recognized this male as being the same person who approached her on Jan. 4 around 6 p.m. in the same area.

In the Jan. 4 incident, the man made inappropriate comments to the girl and then exited his vehicle, police said; the man ran towards the victim and her friends, but stopped a short distance from his vehicle. The second victim described the male’s vehicle as a green SUV, similar to a Jeep.

“Parents, please take this opportunity to discuss with your children the appropriate actions to take if someone makes your child feel uncomfortable or frightened,” the department said in a statement Monday. “Instruct your child to tell a trusted adult immediately and please report all suspicious behavior to the Quincy Police Department.”

Police Investigating Male Approaching Underage Girls

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy police are investigating reports of an Asian male in his 20s approaching underage girls and making inappropriate comments toward them.

Police on Monday described the man as an Asian male in his 20s wearing glasses with a thin mustache and acne.

Police received the first report on Jan. 9; the incident took place on Coddington Street around 4:30 p.m. that evening. The juvenile victim told officers an Asian male approached her and made inappropriate remarks. The man was operating an older model, gray, four-door car with scratches, according to the victim.

Officers spoke to a second victim the following day. She told police an Asian male approached her the prior afternoon, Jan. 9, around 4 p.m. while she was walking on Taffrail Road in the area of Palmer Street. The second victim’s description of the male was similar to the one given by the Coddington Street victim. The second victim stated she recognized this male as being the same person who approached her on Jan. 4 around 6 p.m. in the same area.

In the Jan. 4 incident, the man made inappropriate comments to the girl and then exited his vehicle. The man ran towards the victim and her friends, but stopped a short distance from his vehicle, police said. The second victim described the male’s vehicle as a green SUV, similar to a Jeep.

Police said the department’s Special Investigations Unit and school resource officers are investigating the incidents. Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is asked to contact the department at 617-479-1212.

“Parents, please take this opportunity to discuss with your children the appropriate actions to take if someone makes your child feel uncomfortable or frightened,” police said in a statement. “Instruct your child to tell a trusted adult immediately and please report all suspicious behavior to the Quincy Police Department.”