LWV OBSERVER REPORT: Board of Health, July 11

Marblehead League of Women Voters Observer Corps
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Observer Corps Reports are provided by volunteers from the Marblehead League of Women Voters. To learn more about the League and its activities, see my.lwv.org/massachusetts/marblehead.

BOARD: Board of Health

DATE: July 11 (hybrid meeting, recorded)

MEMBERS PRESENT: Tom McMahon, Joanne Miller and Helaine Hazlett, along with Health Director Andrew Petty



The first order of business was the election of chair for the board following the recent election in June. Tom McMahon nominated Joanne Miller, citing a tension that he has had with Helaine Hazlett, saying the chair should have leadership qualities, e.g., citing an absence of a facilities sticker on her car. This was not seconded. Then Miller nominated Hazlett, and this was seconded. Miller talked of Hazlett’s devotion to the community, trust in the board and expertise. Hazlett was elected by a vote of 2-1. Next, Miller was nominated for vice chair. This was seconded, and the vote was 3-0.

Hazlett in her new role welcomed McMahon to the board and discussed how the board functions — Open Meeting Law, Robert’s Rules, monthly meetings, decisions by the board once voted on are supported by the board, etc.

Mental Health Task Force

Miller gave an update of the task force’s work. A subcommittee of the task force was formed for strategic planning and included professionals with experience to build and develop such planning.

The overall goals are to set short-term goals (this year) and to plan ahead over a three-year period. The mission when the MHTF was first formed was mental health during the pandemic. Now “we are in a different place, and goals have changed,” Miller said.

The first meeting of the subcommittee will be on July 24 at the Gerry 5; all are welcome. Kirsten Bosworth will facilitate the group; this is a role she does professionally.

Miller was questioned about room for more members on the subcommittee. The inclusion of Tom Massaro was suggested as he has been coming to all the MHTF meetings and has extensive background.

Director’s report

  • Each board member needs to complete a “conflict of interest” certificate and return to the health director.
  • Beach testing: Samples are taken each week on a Wednesday one hour before or one hour after high tide. To date, all the tests have been “good.” The tests are for an organism, enterococci, an indicator of contamination. The failure index is 104. The tests at Marblehead beaches have all been under 10 except Gashouse Beach (40) and Devereux (31). There are seven beaches tested: Devereux, Crocker Park, Gas House, Grace Oliver, Stramski, Village and Sunset. (Note: Riverhead is NOT a beach.)  If there is a test failure, a second sample is taken, and if this fails, the beach is closed. (The exception is for Gas House, where one failure triggers beach closure.) Petty noted there has been a lot of news of beaches closed in Massachusetts, and the reality is that it is 50 out of 1,100 fresh and saltwater beaches that have been closed. Marblehead results are not posted, as there is a website run by the state that lists all the results. The board requested that a link to the Massachusetts website be created on the department’s website. 
  • Transfer station: The plan is to be presented to the Planning Board on July 13. The plan only includes the buildings and not the compactor. The discussion then went to the replacement of the employee trailer. The ideal time will be when the new compactor is available and installed. Replacing the trailer is a complicated process, as it requires the changes of electric, plumbing, cable, etc. The goal of replacing the trailer is to only do it once and avoid the area where the new scale house will be constructed. There was some debate about how long it would take for the new building and whether it is worth replacing the trailer if it is short term. Petty could not answer what the timeline would be. Miller moved that the trailer be replaced now, even if it is a short timeline.  This was approved by the board.
  • Air quality: The smoke of the Canadian wildfires has affected much of the East. Petty said there was a network of monitors (PurpleAir) in Marblehead to test for smoke, particulate matter, etc. (The three monitors are located at each fire station and at the transfer station.) The real-time air quality can be viewed at map.purple air.com. 
  • Health inspector retirement: The current health inspector will retire this fall, and the department is looking for a new one. The job and its requirements will be posted in September.

Public comment

Terri Tauro wanted to thank the board for proceeding with the new trailer, replacing one that was seven years old.

Next meeting

The next meeting will be on Monday, Aug. 7 at 7:30 p.m. 

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