League of Women Voters observing town government in action

Members of the League of Women Voters of Marblehead, front row from left: Shari Pressman, Marta Bach, Alexa Singer, and Tom Krueger; second row from left: Judy Gates, Bonnie Grenier, Lee Mondale, Kathy Breslin, Polly Whitmore, and Mimi Hollister; and third row from left: Don Gardner, Kathy Leonardson, Nancy Powell, and Phil Blaisdell, gather in front of the Old Town House. Photo by Spenser Hasak

Observing Marblehead Town Government in Action


Observation reports are submitted by Marblehead League of Women Voters members who have attended meetings of various town boards and commissions. Observers are solely responsible for accuracy of the information.  Complete reports can be found on the LWV of Marblehead Website www.lwvmarblehead.org.


BOARD OF HEALTH     Date of Meeting – Feb. 7, 2023

LWVM Observer – Thomas Krueger

Tobacco Control Update: Joyce Redford, Director, North Shore/Cape Ann Tobacco Prevention Program came to give an update and some recommendations to the BOH.  She noted that since 2016 numerous changes have happened at the state level.  But, before discussing tobacco issues, she wanted to alert the board to two psychoactive substances that are currently being sold over the counter at convenience and adult only stores.  The first is called Delta 8, which is a synthetically processed derivative of hemp, a cannabinol.  This compound can give a “high” and can also be addictive.  It is ingested, e.g., gummies; inhaled, e.g., vaped, etc.  The other psychoactive substance is called Kratom, which is believed to act on opioid receptors.  This is an extract from a species of evergreen trees. It can be a stimulant in low doses but at high doses give euphoria and reduces pain.  There can be significant side effects from this drug, including seizures, high blood pressure, and even death.  Joyce said there have been no restrictions on their sale in MA so far, but it is illegal.  The police have the authority to confiscate these drugs.  There is the option for local BOHs to ban these substances and attach fines to their sale.  (Joyce noted parenthetically how actions at the local level, leads to regional action, and finally state action. This was the route workplace smoking bans occurred.  A critical mass of local actions was needed.) 

Members of the BOH were all deeply concerned about these drugs.  A discussion ensued about potentially banning these in MHD, and a regulation could be crafted and reviewed by town counsel. The town of Beverly is currently considering the same. Lynn already has a broad sweeping regulation that prohibit a wide variety of drugs. 

Following this discussion, Joyce read a list of possible tobacco control regulations for the BOH to consider.  Some of the items on the list are already state regulations; others could be done at the local level.  Some of these items included no permit renewals if outstanding fines, if tobacco sold to minors, having permit caps per towns, etc. Other were more specific: minimum pricing for cigarettes (not < $2.50 for a single, 2 or more not less than $5); banning blunt wrap tobacco; suspension periods for sales to minors (3 days for first, 7 days for second, 30 days for third.)  The BOH discussed these recommendations and will draft regulations to be reviewed by town counsel.  These will hopefully be ready by the next scheduled BOH meeting, 3/14/23.  In conclusion Joyce said that the smoking rate in MHD is low, but vaping has increased. 

FY 24 Budget: Andrew said that the HD was currently putting together the FY 24 budget for the health department and waste management.  He is actually working on three iterations of this budget: one if it is level funded; a second if there would be cuts needed; thirdly, a budget if an override passed.  The steps will be to meet with the liaison for Finance Committee, then the Town Administrator, etc.  He then gave some specifics about the revolving accounts – vaccines and waste disposal.  There are a number of cost drivers that increase each year – waste disposal, recycling, compost.  He stated there was a lot of work needed ahead. 

Mental Health Task Force Update: Ms. Miller gave an update on the MHTF.  The last meeting was on 1/30/23 and two new members were added, Susan Stelk and Mark Lomand, bringing additional energy and experience to the group.  Susan is a social worker and has been very active in school education and the MHD Humane Society.  Mark is a professor at Salem State University, a health professional, and has already participated in MHTF speaker series.  Previously Dan Bauer, principal of the high school, was part of the task force, but he will be leaving. Ali Carey, a special ed teacher, will fill his spot for the schools. (There was brief discussion about the procedure for adding new members to the MHTF since it a subcommittee of the MHD BOH.)  Gina Rabbitt, a mental health clinician who works with the MHD Police Department, and whose role is de-escalate MH situations, attends the meetings also but is not a member. 

Ms. Miller has sat with each of the task force members individually for feedback and ideas, etc. Ideas include: meeting in person every other meeting; having a column in the newspaper regarding mental health and reducing the stigma surrounding it, etc.  

Future programming might include programs for opioid prevention; hope and resilience; scams for the elderly who are often victims; postpartum depression; NAMI for suicide prevention, etc.   Ms. Miller spoke to having MHD move to where we care for each other and build support structures.

In regards to applying for ARPA funds, the requests are as follows: $10,000 for high school programs, $2,000 for the COA, $2,000 for MHD CARES branding (banners, tents, flyers, etc.), and $3,000 for website maintenance and design.  Much of this funding would cover more than just this year. Ms. Miller will write this up for consideration at the next meeting. 

Service Animals Discussion: Mr. Petty read some of the specifics of the definitions, laws, rights, and responsibilities of service animals and emotional support animals in places of accommodation, housing, transport, etc.  These are available on mass.gov, specifically the Mass. Office of Disability.  For example, if a person with a disability is accompanied by a service animal, they cannot be asked for documentation of the disability.  Only when a disability is not obvious, can the following two questions be asked: 1) is the animal a service animal required because of the disablilty? 2) what task or service is the animal able to provide? Service animals can go into restaurants, groceries stores, etc.

Director’s Report

  1. Transfer Station update – still waiting for architect who is talking to subcontractors, etc.  When a schedule is available, the TS committee will talk with group.  Bidding could perhaps start by spring.
  2. Investigating motorizing fencing at the TS so it would be automatic, allowing for less idling of trucks.
  3. Surveying needed to establish TS property boundaries
  4. Surveillance cameras at the TS – most have been installed
  5. Household Hazardous Waste program – no curbside pickup this March as the firm ACV will no longer be doing this.  There are no other firms to go to.  Could go back to previous method at transfer station, but there would be a $7-10,000 set up cost. 
  6. COVID – still in the community.  Test kits are available at the HD and have been offered to establishments.  There is no limit to the number you can take.

Public Comment Period

  1. One resident who lives on Broughton Road brought in two completely filled trash bags to emphasize her point that this the amount of trash that ends up on their street every day.  It is destroying the quality of life for her and her neighbors.  She is reaching out every department for help.  She would like people to come over and see
  2. Another resident in a follow up to the regulation about the size of the trucks that can dump at the transfer station (see BOH 1/10/23), stated how he contacted a number of individuals at MA DEP who did not interpret the law in the same way. 



Tuesday, February 7 – Jacobi Community Center Conference Room

LWVM Observer – Kay Rieper

Pickleball: Members of the pickle ball community attended the meeting to question the closing of the courts at both Seaside and the Vets.    After much discussion, it was decided to open the courts at Vets in two weeks with the approval of the School Department as long as there isn’t ice or snow.  The players will bring portable nets.

New Business: The Board approved installing two 18 x 18 numbers on the softball backstop to remember two long time players.   A request for a softball tournament (which has been held in the past) on 9/23 was approved pending insurance etc.

MOU with School Department: The Superintendent of Schools and School Committee Chairperson will be invited to the February 28 meeting to discuss the Commission’s questions about the memorandum of understanding.


Budget: The Superintendent presented a proposed budget with a 7% increase to the members.   They can email him with any questions.   He will meet with the Finance Committee on March 27.


Park – Peter James

  • Peter questioned the $279 due to maintain the Sustainable Marblehead website which was designed to raise money for landscaping projects on park properties.   There has been no activity or donations in response to the site.  They will discuss this with the Tree committee.
  • The tennis nets at the high school have been lowered.
  • Brush on the high school walkways has been cut back.
  • There is a new sign at Field 4 at Gatchell’s.
  • The Rainbow Zone “carpet” needs repair and is under warranty.
  • Work on the Stramski house is progressing


Recreation – Jaime Bloch

  • Registration for summer programs just opened and the response has been huge.
  • There is one more week of February programs, and after vacation there will be more outside programs.
  • The ski trip to Bradford was very successful.
  • The Daddy Daughter dance is coming up the Friday before Easter.
  • Five hires were approved.

There was some discussion about the designated areas where floats can be worked on at Riverhead per order of the Conservation Commission.  This will be made clearer in the Float Storage Agreement.


  • A request from the Burlington School Department to bring first graders to Chandler Hovey on May 24, 25, 26 and June 8. was approved with a charge of $50 a day.
  • A neighbor of the pickle ball courts at the Vets sent a letter complaining of noise and thanking the Commission for closing the courts.



LWVM Observer: Kathy Leonardson

Welcome new member: new MHS student member Helina Tadesse was welcomed and TFAD members introduced themselves. Helina also serves on Team Harmony at Marblehead High School. Helina and TFAD student representative Celia Sliney both attended the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.

Update from Marblehead Police Department: 

  • Chief King read the statement he put out upon the release of the graphic video of Tyre Nichols being beaten by police. Chief King spoke to his officers about how it related to our community. 
  • Incidents: there currently are none and no open cases under investigation

Holocaust Remembrance Day (Jan 27th): Helaine and Chief King summarized the afternoon program that took place at Abbot Hall with 50-60 people in attendance. A proclamation from the town was read; poems were read. Rabbi Meyer invited Moses Grader to speak and he gave a very moving talk that combined history with a personal story, receiving a standing ovation. The Select Board was asked to hold this event annually.

February Book Read: Reece Dahlberg said 100 books “Stamped (for kids)” were purchased for Black History Month. Reese spoke to principals about distribution of the books. Parents can also order the books from Copper Dog bookstore at a special rate. A flyer will be created about the books. Copies will be available before February school vacation. School libraries and Abbot Public Library also have copies in their collections.

Report on Marblehead Public Schools: 

  • Helina said Team Harmony is preparing to do seminars at the Veteran’s School on antisemitism, racism and microaggressions. 
  • Diane reported that for Black History Month at the Glover Elementary School, a short video is shown each day that celebrates the accomplishments of black people, such as Serena and Venus Williams. Students then read a short blurb about the individuals.
  • Glover School is also preparing for the Racial Justice Team to bring two pieces of artwork to the school on May 5, where they will reside for one year; the artwork is of John Lewis and Harriet Tubman. The artwork will move to a different school each year, May to May.

Report on Mass Cultural Council Grant: Diane and Candace Sliney applied for a grant for $1000 last fall to fund activities for the upcoming Juneteenth celebration. Mid-January, they received an email that they were awarded the grant. The program would include Greg Coles (drumming), storytelling, plus fund printing of brochures and flyers for publicity. The grant has various reporting requirements and provides reimbursement for expenses.

Chris Buell has been in touch with the President of the Arts Festival about TFAD having a booth at the festival, and that is still pending.

Update from Marblehead Racial Justice Team 

  • Louis Meyi and Jay Morrison from the Racial Justice Team spoke about the vigil held at Seaside Park last Sunday by about 50 people. Chief King, Rev. Bixby, Rep. Jenny Armini, and Rev. Crawford all gave meaningful presentations.  Jay said that Chief King’s presentation was monumental in that it was healing, hopeful and reassuring. The TFAD and MRJT collaborated on creating a poster graphic placard: “Hands Up for (blank)” , fill in the blank.
  • Monday February 27 at 7 p.m. is the next monthly Conversation on Race, topic “ of the Civil Rights Movement”. The program registration is listed on the Marblehead Museum website. The previous program with the Lynn Museum was very successful, held only online due to weather, with good attendance.
  • Jay is working on a program for March 27, gathering people who were founding members of Marblehead Racial Justice Team, asking why they got involved and looking to the future.

FAD has submitted their section of the Town Report for 2022 to the Select Board.

Natalie Belli will talk about the TFAD book selection at the next meeting.

The next TFAD meeting will be Thursday March 16 at 7 p.m.