Lynch Calls For FERC To Revoke Certificate Of Approval For Compressor Station

Rep. Stephen Lynch issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon regarding the Weymouth Compressor Station. The congressman is calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to revoke approval for the natural gas compressor station on the Fore River in Weymouth adjacent to Quincy and suspend operations.

“I was just notified that the Weymouth Compressor Station had yet another dangerous blowout event this morning involving the deployment of the compressor station’s Emergency Shutdown System, and given that it is the second incident this month they are currently in the process of ordering a temporary emergency shutdown of the station.  While additional details on this latest safety incident are still under investigation, these accidents endangered the lives of local residents and are indicative of a much larger threat that the Weymouth Compressor Station poses to Weymouth, Quincy, Abington and Braintree residents, as well as surrounding communities, by operating in such a densely residential area.

“I am extremely concerned for the public’s safety and I have asked that a Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) official accompany me on a walk thru of the site later this week when I return to Boston.  I have already asked the Secretary of Transportation to suspend the opening of the compressor station pending a comprehensive review and I am now demanding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) revoke the certificate of approval for the site and suspend operations due to the repetitive occurrence of these extremely dangerous events.”

Transition To Step II Of Phase III For Lower Risk Communities Effective Oct. 5th

The Baker-Polito Administration Tuesday announced that effective Monday, October 5th, lower risk communities will be permitted to move into Step II of Phase III of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan. All other communities will remain in Phase III, Step I. Governor Charlie Baker also issued a revised gatherings order. Industry specific guidance and protocols for a range of Phase I, II, and III businesses will also be updated.

Phase III, Step II:

On May 18, the Baker-Polito Administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on sustained improvements in public health data.

Last month, the Administration began releasing data on the average daily COVID cases per 100,000 residents, average percent positivity, and total case counts, for all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns.

Lower risk communities are defined as cities and towns that have not been a “red” community in any of the last three weekly Department of Public Health (DPH) weekly reports.

Effective Oct. 5, a limited number of sectors will be eligible to reopen, with restrictions, in Step II of Phase III for lower risk communities only:

  • Indoor performance venues will be permitted to open with 50% capacity with a maximum of 250 people.
  • Outdoor performance venue capacity will increase to 50% with a max of 250 people.
  • For arcades and indoor and outdoor recreation businesses, additional Step II activities like trampolines, obstacle courses, roller rinks and laser tag will also be permitted to open and capacity will increase to 50%.
  • Fitting rooms will be permitted to open in all types of retail stores.
  • Gyms, museums, libraries and driving and flight schools will also be permitted to increase their capacity to 50%.

Revised Gatherings Order:

  • The limit for indoor gatherings remains at a maximum of 25 people for all communities.
  • Outdoor gatherings at private residences and in private backyards will remain at a maximum of 50 people for all communities.
  • Outdoor gatherings at event venues and in public settings will have a limit of 50 people in Step I communities, and a limit of 100 people in lower risk, Step II communities.

 

Baker Commends Quincy Schools

By SCOTT JACKSON

Gov. Charlie Baker lauded the Quincy Public Schools for programming offered this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic as he pressed more districts across the state to move to in-person or hybrid learning this fall.

Superintendent Kevin Mulvey and Assistant Superintendent Erin Perkins joined Baker at his State House press conference Thursday. Baker called the school system’s summer program – which included in-person learning for special education students – a model that other districts could follow.

“Quincy Public Schools was one of the first in the state to re-open this past summer, offering in-person learning to hundreds of students with disabilities and special needs,” Baker said. “Additionally, they stood up an optional remote-learning summer school attended by more than 2,300 Quincy students across all grade levels.

“They are an excellent model of how to safely and responsibly get back to school using [state] guidance. Their faculty and their staff expertly tackled the safe re-opening of their schools, overcoming challenges along the way, including two staff COVID-19 positive cases over the summer.

“Quincy school officials and staff should be commended for their effective response, which ensured that in-person education was able to continue for hundreds of students with special needs. In many ways, teachers are heroes to these kids and to their families, and they play a critically important role to teach and nurture students.”

Mulvey said the district used state guidelines – including requirements for students to wear masks and frequent handwashing – to develop the summer program. The lessons learned over the summer were applied to plans for the start of the fall semester.

“As the governor mentioned, Quincy was one of the first districts to have an in-person summer instructional program for our most vulnerable and highest need students. Our dedicated staff were committed to providing these crucial services to these students and, as a result, this program was a great success despite the challenges of COVID-19,” Mulvey said.

“The summer in-person educational program was the foundation on which we planned and built our re-opening plans for September. We continue to work with our families and staff every day to provide the highest quality educational opportunities for our students and to provide for their social and emotional well-being – and that is critical.

“This has prepared us for the inevitable COVID-19 positive case of a staff member and a student and in fact we did have a positive case. Thanks to the guidance provided by the state and by Quincy Health Commissioner Ruth Jones we were able to keep staff and students safe and continue with much-needed educational programing.”

Half of the district’s nearly 10,000 students – all children in prekindergarten to grade three as well as certain high-need students at all grade levels – were eligible to begin at least part-time in-person learning on Sept. 16. Remaining students could return as soon as Oct. 13.

“Our goal in re-opening schools is to bring as many students back to in-person learning as soon as possible,” Mulvey said. “I think we can all agree that there is no substitute for in-person learning. If we have the capacity to bring students back safely, we owe it to our students to do so.”

Perkins thanked school staff for their work over the summer.

“I am extremely proud of the work we were able to do over the summer and I know how important it was for our students and families,” she said. “I want to thank our unbelievably dedicated staff who made this possible and the families who put their faith and trust in us this summer.”

Baker said districts across the state should base their decision on whether or not to bring more students in for in-person learning on three weeks of public health data, rather than on large gatherings that may lead to a spike in cases. He said students should be in the classroom if the health data supports it.

“The science support this,” Baker said. “It is safe for students and teachers to return to in-person learning and our administration is clear with the expectation that students should be in the classroom if the public health data supports that.”

Jeff Riley, the state’s education commissioner, said communities designated gray or green by the Department of Public Health should bring more students back for in-person learning. Green communities have fewer than four new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000 people over the last two weeks while gray, or unshaded, communities have fewer than five total active cases.

“We know the possibility of a second spike exists, but while we are in a situation where a district has been green or gray for many weeks, we are asking districts to bring kids back to school in-person or in a hybrid model,” Riley said.

“It would be unfortunate if later in the year a district had to go remote because the virus spiked back up in their community and they recognized, ‘wow, we could have had our kids back in for a couple months or even six months and we missed that opportunity.’”

Massachusetts Relaxing Restaurant Rules

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Bay State will be easing restrictions placed on restaurants amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Starting on Monday, customers will be allowed to sit at the bars inside restaurants. Previously, patrons were not allowed to sit at bars, but restaurants had been allowed to re-arrange bar areas to provide additional seating. Some restaurants, for example, placed tables up against bars.

In addition, parties of up to 10 guests will be allowed at restaurants. The state previously limited parties to six or fewer people.

Other rules will remain in place. Customers, for example, cannot order alcohol unless they have ordered food. Tables must also be six feet apart and masks must be worn indoors and outdoors, though patrons can remove them while seated.

Bars and other establishments that do not offer food prepared on site must still remain closed.

Quincy Student Positive For COVID-19

By SCOTT JACKSON

A student at the Bernazzani Elementary School has tested positive for COVID-19, Health Commissioner Ruth Jones said.

Jones, in an email Monday, said there had been a confirmed case at the school and that all COVID-19 protocols had been followed. Parents have been notified and classrooms have been cleaned as needed.

The confirmed case and one other student deemed to be a close contact because they had carpooled together will be required to quarantine in accordance with Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines.

“We did a case investigation and contact tracing and found only one close contact in the class. This other contact was considered a close contact only because they carpool together,” Jones said in her email.

“The case will isolate at home for 10 days and the contact will quarantine at home for 14 days per the MDPH protocol. The parents of students were notified and the appropriate rooms received a deep disinfection.”

Virtual Public Hearing Sept. 24 On Statewide Exit Renumbering Project

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) announces an upcoming virtual Public Information Meeting for MassDOT’s Statewide Exit Renumbering Project on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. This project is converting all existing exit numbers on freeways to a milepost-based numbering system, per Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requirements.

The public meeting will cover information about the project, the construction schedule, and the project team will be there to answer questions. The meeting link is available through registration at this site.

Construction is scheduled to begin on this project in mid-October of this year and is anticipated to end in the Summer of 2021. This is a statewide project; however, this public meeting will be focused on the scope and schedule of the following corridors:

  • State Route 3
  • State Route 24
  • State Route 25
  • State Route 128
  • State Route 140
  • S. Route 3
  • S. Route 6
  • Interstate 93
  • Interstate 95
  • Interstate 195
  • Interstate 295

Additional virtual public meetings will be scheduled throughout the Fall to cover the rest of the impacted corridors. Project updates and corridor-specific construction schedules will be posted regularly on the project’s website. To learn more about the project, sign up for updates, and ask the project team questions, visit www.newmassexits.com.

High School Sports Start This Week

By SCOTT JACKSON

With the school year underway, the fall sports season will enter full swing with golfers hitting the links this week. Other teams will begin playing games next week.

Up to 50 home spectators will be allowed at Quincy and North Quincy’s games this fall, according to Kevin Mahoney, the athletic director at Quincy High School; all spectators will be required to wear masks. Fans will not be allowed to travel to away games.

Quincy High School’s golf team will open its season Thursday when it hosts Hanover at the Furnace Brook Golf Course, Quincy’s home club.

Quincy and North Quincy will face each other Sept. 29 at Presidents Golf Course, which is the home course for North. The two teams will also go head-to-head Oct. 13 at Furnace Brook.

Quincy’s other matches are set for Sept. 29 versus Scituate, Oct. 1 versus Pembroke, Oct. 6 at Plymouth South, Oct. 7 versus Hingham, Oct. 8 at Hanover, Oct. 14 at Scituate, Oct. 15 at Pembroke and Oct. 20 versus Plymouth South. All golf matches are set to begin at 3:30 p.m.

The schedule for North’s teams had yet to be posted as of Tuesday morning.

Soccer will also be played this fall, with new rules in place to minimize contact between players.

Quincy High’s boys’ and girls’ soccer squads will open their season Oct. 2 versus Hanover. The boys’ team will host Hanover at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium and the girls’ team will be on the road. The boys’ game starts at 4 p.m. and the girls’ game is slated for 6 p.m.

Quincy and North Quincy will play two double headers this year. The first will be held Oct. 14 – the girl’s game will start at 4 p.m. and the boys’ game at 6:30 p.m. – at Veterans’ Memorial Stadium and the second is on Nov. 4 at Creedon Field, with the boys playing at 4 p.m. and the girls playing at 6:30 p.m.

The Quincy boys’ team’s remaining games are Oct. 6 at Pembroke, Oct. 8 at Plymouth South, Oct. 16 at Scituate, Oct. 19 at Hanover, Oct. 22 versus Hingham, Oct. 27 versus Pembroke, Oct. 30 versus Plymouth South and Oct. 6 versus Scituate. All will start at 4 p.m.

The Quincy girls’ team’s remaining games are Oct. 6 at Pembroke, Oct. 16 versus Notre Dame Academy, Oct. 19 versus Plymouth South, Oct. 21 versus Scituate, Oct. 23 versus Hanover, Oct. 27 at Pembroke, Oct. 30 at Plymouth South, and Nov. 6 at Scituate. All those contests begin at 4 p.m.

The girls’ volleyball teams will be in action this fall as well.

Quincy will open the season Oct. 1 at Hanover; the game starts at 5:30 p.m.

Quincy and North will go head-to-head twice this season. The first match is set for Oct. 13 at Quincy High and the second contest is Nov. 2 at North. Both will start at 7 p.m.

Quincy’s remaining games are Oct. 6 versus Pembroke, Oct. 15 versus Notre Dame, Oct. 20 versus Plymouth South. Oct. 22 at Scituate, Oct. 26 versus Hanover, Oct. 28 at Pembroke, Oct. 30 at Plymouth South, and Nov. 5 versus Scituate.

Cross-country will also be offered during the fall season; Quincy’s two high schools have a combined team in that sport. Its schedule was not available Tuesday.

The MIAA has decided to cancel postseason tournaments for the fall season. Individual leagues, however, will be allowed to offer postseason events. The Patriot League, which both high schools belong to, is planning to hold a postseason event for soccer and volleyball.

Joseph J. LaRaia – Quincy’s 28th Mayor – Passes Away At Age 88

Joseph LaRaia flashes a victory smile and embraces his wife, Louise, after a recount in the 1975 mayoral election declared LaRaia the city’s 28th mayor. Mr. LaRaia, who also served the city as a city councillor and city assessor, died Sept. 18. He was 88 years. Quincy Sun file photo

Joseph J. LaRaia, former Mayor of the City of Quincy, age 88, died peacefully, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in the comfort of his home, surrounded by his loving family.

Joseph LaRaia

Born in Quincy, to the late Joseph and Pauline (Tocchio) LaRaia, he was raised in Quincy Point and was a graduate of Quincy High School, Class of 1950. He served in the U.S. Army as a Private First Class during the Korean conflict. Following his military service, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Finance from Boston College.

Mr. LaRaia’s political career began during his senior year at Boston College, when he won the election as Ward Two City Councillor serving the great people of Quincy Point. He was re-elected to that seat twice and served as Council President from 1964-1965. After an unsuccessful bid for councilor at large in 1969, Mr. LaRaia returned to the city council as a councillor at large in 1972. Following his re-election in 1973, Mr. LaRaia launched his campaign for mayor, which culminated in a successful recount victory.

Mayor LaRaia was sworn in during the bicentennial year, as the City of Quincy’s twenty-eighth mayor on January 5, 1976. Mayor LaRaia was known by all his supporters as “The People’s Mayor”. He worked hard for the wonderful citizens of Quincy and he took pride in everything he did. Mr. LaRaia lost his re-election bid, but later went on to the city council as a councillor at large in 1979, serving four terms. Following two unsuccessful bids for mayor in 1987 and 1989, he returned to the city council, appointed in 1993 to a vacant seat which he went on to win, before resigning to accept a position as a city assessor. Mr. LaRaia held elective office for twenty-two years in the city that he loved.

Mayor LaRaia’s proudest accomplishments involved initiating the construction of the modern glass City Hall, the North Quincy High School addition, the Ruth Gordon Amphitheater in Merrymount Park, and most of all, taking pride in serving the people of Quincy.

Mr. LaRaia published his political autobiography, “A City Under The Influence”, in 1979. He was invited to lecture numerous times at Northeastern University government studies.

He was a licensed real estate broker for thirty-five years. He was a franchise owner of Realty World and later went on to own Coddington Realty.

He loved Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and big band music; he was an avid Patriots fan; he took pride in the Summerfest series which ran for two decades; and most of all, he was fully devoted to his family, especially his grandchildren, actively supporting their many activities and accomplishments.

Beloved husband for fifty-eight years of Louise M. (Salvaggi) LaRaia.

Devoted father of Joseph A. LaRaia and his wife Debra of Plymouth, Lisa M. Stevens and her husband Mark of Braintree, and Robyn E. LaRaia of Weymouth.

Loving grandfather of Justin and Jessica Stevens, Ava LaRaia and Aiden LaRaia.

Dear brother of Robert LaRaia and his wife Terri of Hull, William LaRaia, Q.F.D., Ret. and his wife Diane of Quincy. Dear brother-in-law of Jean and Kenneth Luoni of Weymouth, Denise and Robert Lord of Quincy. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours will be held at the Sweeney Brothers Home for Funerals, 1 Independence Ave., Quincy, on Tuesday, Sept. 22, from 4-6 p.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated in Saint Joseph’s Church, 550 Washington Street, Quincy, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m.. Due to current restrictions, there is limited occupancy at the church. Interment, with military honors, to follow at Mount Wollaston Cemetery. Services are operating in accordance with current guidelines.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. LaRaia’s memory may be made to VNA Hospice & Palliative Care, 199 Rosewood Drive, Suite 180, Danvers, MA 01923.

You are invited to visit www.thesweeneybrothers.com or call 617-472-6344.

Massachusetts Announces Extension of Administrative Tax Relief for Local Businesses

Gov. Charlie Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday announced an extension of administrative tax relief measures for local businesses that have been impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, especially in the restaurant and hospitality sectors.

This includes the extension of the deferral of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes for small businesses due from March 2020 through April 2021, so that they will instead be due in May 2021. Businesses that collected less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the twelve month period ending Feb. 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and businesses that collected less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the twelve month period ending Feb. 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes. For these small businesses, no penalties or interest will accrue during this extension period.

“Our Administration is committed to supporting local businesses and Main Street economies recovering from the impact of COVID-19, and we’re glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this additional measure to provide administrative tax relief,” said Baker. “Extending the tax relief measures we put into place earlier this year will help support companies across Massachusetts including small businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries.”

“Providing this tax relief is an important step to support local businesses throughout Massachusetts and we are glad to work with our legislative colleagues on this important issue,” said Polito. “This extension allows certain local companies to defer remitting regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes, an important tax relief measure for businesses that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

For businesses with meals tax and room occupancy tax obligations that do not otherwise qualify for this relief, late-file and late-pay penalties will be waived during this period.

“The Senate is committed to further assisting our restaurant and hospitality industries hit hard by COVID-19,” said Spilka. “As we continue to safely reopen and recover, we will work with our partners in the Administration and the House to mitigate the economic distress felt by local businesses brought on by the unprecedented public health crisis.”

“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect our economy, the House is proud of its ongoing efforts to reinforce restaurants, such as its passage of a restaurant recovery package thanks to the work of Chair Michlewitz and the membership,” said DeLeo. “We support the deferral of tax collections as it will provide a clear business pathway, especially to our restaurant and hospitality industries.”

The Department of Revenue will issue emergency regulations and a Technical Information Release to implement these administrative relief measures.

Massachusetts Relaxes Travel Rules For New Mexico

By SCOTT JACKSON

Bay Staters looking to travel to New Mexico can now do so without being subject to quarantine upon arrival back home. Three other states, however, have been back added to the list of restricted states.

Massachusetts has deemed New Mexico a low-risk state for COVID-19 transmission, effective Saturday. It joins 11 other states previously declared low-risk: Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have all been put back on the restricted list, effective Saturday, based on increasing COVID-19 case rates. Those states had been placed on the low-risk list on Aug. 29.

Rhode Island also remains on the restricted list; the Ocean State had been on the list of low-risk states when the travel rules first went into effect on Aug. 1 but was subsequently removed.

To be designated as a lower-risk state, a state must have a positive test rate below 5 percent and fewer than six new cases per day per 100,000 residents. Both are measured on a seven-day rolling average.

Travelers from all states not on the low-risk list and any foreign country, including residents returning home, must fill out a form available at mass.gov/matraveler upon arrival in Massachusetts.

Those travelers are required to quarantine for 14 days unless they can produce a negative COVID-19 test result that was administered up to 72 hours prior to arrival in Massachusetts. Travelers would no longer be subject to the quarantine requirement if they receive a negative test result after they arrive in the state.

Those who do not comply with the requirement face a $500 fine.

People passing through the state, people commuting across state lines for work, people traveling to Massachusetts for medical treatment, people complying with military orders, or people traveling to work in federally designated critical infrastructure sectors are exempt from the state’s travel rules.