The remnants of Hurricane Ida passed through with moderate wind and heavy rain, leaving some road closures, power outages and some flood damage in the police station and around town. We are mostly back to normal, after a quick clean up.
With regards to COVID, the numbers are somewhat stable with 3 new cases for the week ending 8/27 and 2 cases for the week ending 9/3. The mask mandate in public buildings will remain in place for now, as it does in our neighboring towns.
We had a busy Board of Selectmen meeting this week. There will be two new ordinances and one revised ordinance to be considered at the Special Town Meeting on September 13, 2021. First, is a new ordinance giving tax relief for motor vehicles modified to assist our residents with physical handicaps, the Tax-Exempt Handicap Vehicle Ordinance. We believe this is a fair way to help out some of our needy neighbors. We also approved a revision to our Ethics Ordinance which has not been revised in many years and we felt was not comprehensive enough to deal with the issues that face us today. The revised ordinance addresses the concerns of many in Easton. The final new ordinance is the Land Use Ordinance, regarding the sale, lease and purchase of land by the town. This was championed by the late Bill Kupinse, and requires that major land transactions be approved by a Town Meeting. All three proposed ordinances can be viewed on the Board of Selectmen page on our website. Please send me your comments to DBindelglass@eastonct.gov. All three ordinances will be considered at the Special Town Meeting and may be referred for a machine vote. Regarding the Land Use Ordinance, I want to thank Andrew Kupinse, Bill’s son, for his help down to the last minute, in drafting the Land Use Ordinance. I am sure Bill would be proud about this important work edging towards completion.
Yesterday, we announced a deal which will preserves one of our valued farms, Lakeview Orchards. This was a cooperative effort between the state and federal government as well as the town. The town contributed funds from a fund which had been previously set aside called the Agricultural Land Trust. This was work done by the Easton Agriculture and Conservation Commissions, as well as my office and Citizens for Easton. It was great work by all, as well as the Barney family. This will preserve the farm in perpetuity. This is also an important part of the town’s strategy. If you look at our farm preservation efforts and the Land Use Ordinance discussed above, we are preserving the town’s land and our farm land so it cannot be developed. This is how we preserve Easton’s rural character and resist outside development. It is an effective strategy that we will continue and is the most positive step the town can take in it’s aggressive plan to remain the Easton that we all love and cherish.
There are some upcoming events in town. On September 11, 2021, at 10 AM there will be a Ceremony of Remembrance marking the 20th Anniversary of the attacks on America. It will be held in front of the library at the 9/11 Memorial. If you are new to town, whether it is that day or another you should come visit this powerful memorial. Together with some volunteers, we have recently done some work around the memorial to make it even more beautiful. The ceremony will feature several speakers from first responder organizations. I want to thank June Logie and Bev Dacey who did a lot of work to organize and put together the program for this event. Prior to the ceremony we are asking all the churches in town to ring their bells at 8:46 AM. We are looking for 13 bells to commemorate the 13 soldiers who recently lost their lives in Afghanistan. Easton residents are all invited to ring bells in town as well.
The following weekend on September 18, 2021, there will be a town wide party sponsored by the Masonic Lodge. This will be followed by fireworks sponsored by our Volunteer EMS Service. The fireworks are a fund raiser for EMS. These funds are to help with new EMS Headquarters which will be built with these funds as well as the town’s portion of the American Rescue Plan. Come and enjoy, and more importantly, contribute.
The Special Town Meeting will also include authorizations to expend money for the repair of the roof at 660 Morehouse Road, $550,000 (approximately 50% reimbursed by insurance) and for the preliminary design of the Sport Hill Multi-Use Pathway at $80,000. (Approximately 80% reimbursed by the state) as recommended by the Board of Finance.
The official start of the school year is always a special day, but this year, it seems there is even more to celebrate, as students, teachers and administrators, and even a new Superintendent to Easton schools headed back to school this week. Everyone worked hard to get through last year, and our Boards of Education worked throughout the summer to fill open staff positions, including our new Region 9 Superintendent, Dr. Jason McKinnon, our new Joel Barlow Head of School/Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Mario Almeida and new HKMS Principal, Dr. Steven Clapp. I’d like to extend a warm welcome to them all, as well as dozens of new staff and teachers, and the new families who’ve moved into the district.
Appointing such accomplished professionals to leadership positions is critical to maintaining the excellent schools for which our community is known. We all owe a special thanks to our Boards of Education who continue to make us proud by putting the interests of our kids and our community ahead of politics. Their efforts are evident throughout our schools– in a new math curriculum for K-5, dozens of new teachers and staff, a new Director of Digital Learning and Technology for Central Office, new HKMS Media Center Specialist, increased mental health support for K-8, and a new PE paraprofessional at Helen Keller to increase instructional time in physical education, all elements that combine to make a great school system.
Happy Labor Day and end of summer!