The Hubbardston Report
Hubbardston Light Fight!
Two weekends only! December 6th, 7th & 8th December 13th, 14th, & 15th 5-8pm
Come to Hubbardston and see all the entries for the 3rd annual Hubbardston Light Fight! Follow the road listing to see all the entries and vote online for your favorite light display!
New this year we have 2 categories to choose from for entry displays:
2. Go Big or Stay Home
Also voting will be done completely by the public via an email survey link.
Entries due by December 1st. Don’t miss out on this festive competition!
This month marked the unofficial start of the FY21 budget process with the Town Administrator working with the Town Accountant to project revenue, prepare department budget request forms and complete the town's five year financial forecast. Information about the annual budget process will be posted here. The five-year financial forecast, along with the revenue projections, will help frame upcoming budget discussions as town officials prepare the FY21 budget for town meeting. This forecast will be presented to the Selectmen on December 16th. The Board will then receive the FY21 Capital Plan and the FY21 Town Administrator's Budget in the coming months.
Winter operations are in full swing. The Department of Public Works continues to battle and prepare for winter weather. The Director presented the winter operation plan and informed the Selectmen about all the preparation work his department has done to ready the equipment.
The Town Administrator announced two major news items for the Building Department. First, the Board of Selectmen agreed to a new three-year deal with the City of Gardner to continue to share building department staff. This agreement also includes provisions to streamline zoning requests. Secondly, the building department will begin implementing new software. Viewpoint Cloud software will allow the building department to move all permitting online, allowing residents and businesses to apply 24 hours a day and receive real-time feedback from inspectors. Full implementation of this new software will be complete in the spring.
The Town Administrator joined members of the Economic Development Committee in helping to procure two new "Welcome to Hubbardston" signs for Route 68 North and South (shown above). These signs will eventually serve as a platform to promote local business and events in addition to welcoming residents and guests to our beautiful town. The EDC is planning to place another four signs on key thoroughfares in the next year.
The Town Administrator recognized this month Interim Director Christine Barbera from the Library Department for her commitment to providing services for our town children. Town staff had fun participating in the annual Halloween Parade with more than a dozen kiddos visiting the town offices on October 30th. Additionally, she has invested increased library assistant wages wisely this year, offering a wide range of children’s programming to include Story Time, Family Book Club and more!
Our volunteer Krista Goguen has been doing a great job at weeding our library collection of books that haven’t been checked out in the last five years. Chris Barbera attended a small library directors meeting at the Boylston Public Library. It provided an opportunity for sharing ideas and brainstorming how to increase services at our respective libraries. Story time continues to be well attended each week. The Senior Book Club met on November 6th and picked “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Farmer as their first book for December. The Family Book discussion book was “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate. Using Library donation, we purchased a large coat and backpack rack for the children’s room. This is a welcome addition to the Library. Chris and Trustee Connie Stritmatter worked on the FY21 Action Plan for the Library. Completing this moves us one step closer to apply for LSTA grants from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioner.
For December, the Library is thrilled with the return of Greg Maichack Pastel Workshop on December 5th from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Assistant Librarian Gabbie Walker will be in charge of decorating the inside of the Library for the Holiday Season. The Senior Book Club book for December is the true story of “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown. For the Family Discussion, we chose two options this month: “Among the Hidden” by Margaret Peterson Haddix and “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.
- Completed brush mowing on Mt. Jefferson Rd., Pitcherville Rd., Birches Rd., Ragged Hill Rd., High St., Hale Rd., Natty Pond Dr. and Williamsville Rd.
- Graded and added material to Mile Rd., Birches Rd. and Mt. Jefferson Rd.
- Oversaw the completion of the Bridge Grant Projects on Ragged Hill and Williamsville Roads
- Monty Tech finished the ramp at the Slade Building. New Handicap railings to come from the welding shop when the weather improves.
- Widened parts of Mt. Jefferson Rd. around Cross Rd.
- The whole crew went to two Snow fighter training classes
- Continue to be ready for the winter to come.
- Complete more brush mowing
Real Estate taxes were due on November 4th for the second quarter of FY2020. Payments have been posted through the end of November as we make preparations to send out the actual tax bills once a tax rate has been set.
The town was able to refinance $500,000.00 that had been borrowed to pay for the fire truck purchased last year and the remainder of the DPW truck purchased in FY17 with an interest rate of 1.85% for one year. A payment of $50,000.00 was made to reduce the amount to be borrowed. Hubbardston’s Standard & Poor’s bond rating of AA+ had a great impact on our being able to secure a low interest rate.
Our employees met with representatives from Colonial Insurance to discuss the many insurance options available to them. Health, dental, vision, disability, life, and more are offered; however, all these are offered at full cost to the employee except for health insurance, which the Town contributes 65%.
In December, we will print and prepare tax bills for mailing at the end of the month. We’ll also be preparing our budget to be submitted for the fiscal year 2021.
This month was a busy one for voting registrations and petitions with over 100 petitions received and certified. Petitions certified included Petition B, Petition C, Petition D, Petition E and Petition F.
December’s focus will be preparing for the New Year. 2020 dog licenses have been ordered and census extracts have been sent. Please be aware: Failure to respond to the census mailing for 2 consecutive years shall result in removal from the active voting list and may result in the removal from the voter registration rolls. (MGL Ch. 51 Sec. 4[c])
January’s focus will be on dog license renewals and entering censuses. Please remember all dogs over the age of 6 months are required by the State of Massachusetts to be licensed and vaccinated each year. Licensing for 2020 will begin in January and must be paid by April 1st to avoid late fees. Any Resident who will be 70 years or over as of March 31st is exempt from paying a fee for licensing. Dogs may be registered online or in person at the Town Clerk’s office during normal business hours. Fees are as follows: Males & Females $15.00, Neutered Males & Spayed Females $10.00.
The recycling center is closed until next spring. The recycling shed now has electricity so new things will be happening next year. We welcome a new clerk that is in a combined position with other committees, Mallory Seamon.
The board is working on setting standards for our trash haulers, and abandoned housing this winter. We encourage everyone to get a flu shot as it is already appearing in a large number of states.
At 5:50 on 11/28 Engine 1 and Car 2 responded on the 2nd alarm to 125 Connors Street in Gardner. The fire was on the 4th floor of an 8 story apartment building. The fire damage was limited to one apartment however multiple residents were displaced due to smoke and water damage.
On the evening of 11/14 with temperatures in the teens Engine 1 and Car 2 responded to Princeton Street in Gardner on the 2nd alarm. First arriving companies had heavy fire showing from a large porch with extension into the home. Hubbardston firefighters operated on scene for an hour and a half before returning to service. Strong work by all involved in difficult conditions.
Total Calls 48
Fire 9 EMS 28 Public Service 3 Haz-Mat 0 MVA 2 Alarm activation 6
5 Residential Smoke/CO
1 Fire Chief/Paramedic
2 Full time Firefighter/Paramedics
2 Full time Firefighter/EMT
2 Call Firefighter/Paramedics
4 Call Firefighter/EMT
2 Pier Diem Firefighter/Paramedics
1 Call Firefighters
This month the Hubbardston Police Department continued its increased enforcement of the school crossing and crosswalk safety. Several citations were issued to school zone speed violators in an attempt to educate as well as protect the children crossing. We have seen a decrease in speeders over the last month and will continue enforcement as the budget will allow.
The Pink Patch Project continued to sell patches through October. We were able to collect $260.00, which will be donated to Pinkrevolution.
On October 31st our annual Halloween HoDown took place. It was well attended with record crowds and all participants had a great time, as did the Hubbardston Police Officers that worked. Special Thanks to Bill and Patrick Shea of The Ruptured Duck and John Koziel of Rietta ranch for their generous support of this great community event.
- 12 arrests
- 37 citations
- 7 accidents
- 16 investigations
The Conservation Commission met on 11/5/2019, during this meeting they met with Open Space Committee and Jassy Brakto from North County Land Trust in regards to a Conservation Restrictions on a piece of Land on Malone Rd. The Commission is still reviewing the proposed restriction once completed it will be given to the Selectmen to review. Request for an RDA (determination of applicability) was received for proposed telephone pole placement on New Westminster and Bemis Rd, this will be heard at the ConCom’s next monthly meeting.
Hubbardston’s annual Classification Hearing has been rescheduled for December 9, at 7:00 PM, due to the recent prolonged snow storm.
Staff from Regional Resource Group will continues to provide training and assistance for Iris, and will always be available in the future for any issues and/or concerns that may arise.
The process of revaluation certification, overseen by the Mass Department of Revenue continues, however is “very close” to completion.
Preparation is underway for abatements that may be submitted after the 3rd quarter tax bill is issued January 1, 2020.
Ongoing assessor’s activities include:
- Building permit inspections
- Sales ratio review
- Motor vehicle excise
- Assisting with efforts for Department of Revenue revaluation certification
- Periodic/Cyclical property inspections
The Planning Board office, this month worked on the following projects:
- There were two public meetings in the month of October. To see those video please go here. There was also one site visit done by the Planning Board on November 23rd. The details of that visit will be discussed in the December 4th meeting.
- Received and processed an application for Special Permit which will be heard before the Planning Board at a Public Hearing on December 4th, 2019.
- Created Marinelli Gravel Pit Map to assist in the understanding of lands in need of reclamation.
- Worked with Planning Board Chair regarding Affordable Housing request for Lot 03-220 and Habitat for Humanity’s appraisal of that lot.
- Continued work on Planning Board Operational Procedures (estimated time of completion – Jan / Feb).
- Completed Planning Board Benchmarking data information and reached out to TA regarding a joint Benchmarking meeting between Planning Board, Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee.
- Assisted in research and analysis of the evolving draft of the sign bylaw.
- Purchased Chromebooks for Board Members and configured them for use.
- Continued work on Special Permits Project to determine which Special Permits issued in Hubbardston are active / inactive and how the Planning Board can follow up on adherence to permit specifications (estimated time of completion – Feb/March)
- Continued with move of files from previous location to Planning Board’s new office in the former Assessor’s Office (NOTE: Assessor’s Office is now located in the Slade Building).
In addition to these items, the Planning Board Office worked on the other documentation to support Planning Board meetings.
The Planning Board Office will continue to work on:
- Continue checklist for Special Permits Process.
- Continue creating new process work sheets / checklists / operational procedures for applications / processes typically handled by the Planning Board.
- Continue special permits project (with assistance from Senior Work Program) to identify open permits and ensure adherence to permit specifications.
- Continue moving of all Planning Board-related documentation into the new office location.
The Building Department was busy this month conducting Safety inspections of local establishments. These inspections are done yearly in conjunction with the fire chief to ensure that all establishments who serve alcohol are compliant for their customers. Sign offs from both the Building Commissioner and the Fire Chief are needed in order to obtain a liquor license. Most establishments have been brought to compliance; the Building Commissioner will be wrapping up his final inspections the week of 12/2.
The Land-Use Assistant worked on simplifying the Building Departments permit application packages to include all necessary information to complete any project, this will make for a smoother application and permitting process.
A contract was signed with ViewPoint Permitting, this is an online permitting software which will allow contractors, residents, and inspectors a one stop shopping experience for permitting. Once Viewpoint is live all permit applications, permitting approval, inspection scheduling, and inspector contact will be completed online. We are very excited to being working with the developers to give residents the best permitting experience available. Stay Tuned!
The Building Department would like to remind residents as it begins to get cold that ALL stoves wood or pellet need to be permitted and inspected through the Building Department. Once inspections are completed you will be given a certificate to provide to your insurance carrier, this certificate serves as protection for you and your home!