Grateful For Community Support
Thank you, Tim Wood and Alan Pollock, for your touching words about Otis. We know that he reached the hearts and minds of everyone he met and your tributes truly capture Otis’ character.
Words cannot describe how much the generosity of all who contributed means to us. The donations we received will aid us greatly in this difficult time we face. Beyond the monetary value, the influx of donations and well wishes reminds us how loved Otis was. We feel truly lucky to have had him in our lives and seeing the outpouring of support from the community shows us that many of you felt the same. In this tough time it is truly a gift to know that we are surrounded by so many loving and caring people, and we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts.
Thanks For The Pizzas!
Unfortunately, in my thank you letter of three weeks ago, I forgot to mention the very generous donation of several pizzas to Monomoy Regional High School's Open Mic fundraiser for the Sandscript Creative Writing club. Thank you Nikolaos Kantzelis and the Dennisport House of Pizza! You're the best!
Lisa Forte-Doyle and Members of Sandscript
Clarify Confusion Over Schoolhouse
I take issue with comments made recently by two members of the Harwich Board of Selectmen in regard to the West Harwich Schoolhouse. One stated that the residents at town meeting voted to sell the building. True, but that was presented as part of a process for restoring the building, not for handing it over to a realtor in order to make a quick buck. Years ago the town voted to sell the old middle school, but the selectmen ignored that vote and created the cultural center. Now the town administrator is pushing to create a full-time position of "director of cultural affairs" to oversee the building and the town's two, soon-to-be-established cultural districts (Harwich Center and Harwich Port).
Another member of the board was quoted in this paper as saying "anyone I've talked to doesn't care, they are not impressed, It's not that fabulous a building." How many people in West Harwich did she talk to? She did not talk to me nor my neighbors, certainly not the teenage girl on my street who was thrilled at the prospect of the school being restored, because her great-great-great grandfather attended the school.
What is behind the mercenary myopia displayed by some members of the board with regard to the schoolhouse? I suspect it is the tendency to think of West Harwich as a colony of the town, whose resources can be plundered to finance the projects of its darling villages. (Remember the proposal a few years ago to restore the schoolhouse and move it to Harwich Center?) A notable exception to this is Selectman Howell, who thinks that the confusion about what the town wants to do with the building should be clarified at the next town meeting. Of course he is right.
Appreciates The Kindness Of Harwich
Kindness comes in many forms and it is especially precious when we least expect it.
On Sunday at Stop & Shop, I reached for a jug of milk, but it was far back, beyond my grasp. As I turned away from the cooler, my eyes met those of a petite, red-headed young woman, who smiled at me. How nice, I thought.
I don’t know if I managed to smile back at her. My husband died at home on Dec. 5 after a long illness, and my smiles have been hard to come by lately.
As I walked toward a register to check out, I heard, “Excuse me, ma’am, wait,” and something made me turn to see the same young woman, holding out the jug of milk. “How?” I began, and grinning, she said, “I crawled into the cooler.” I do not know this kind woman’s name, but she teaches a valuable lesson on going the extra mile for a stranger.
I do know the names of the Harwich paramedics and police officers who arrived at my home the evening of Dec. 5 and treated me with patience, kindness and sensitivity. To HFD Lt. Brad Willis, paramedics Adam LaPlante and Matt Eldredge and to HPD Sgt. Aram Goshgarian and Officer Richard Buttrick, your kindness is unparalleled. In a very dark hour, you guided me through five hours during which I was in profound shock, ensuring that I understood what was happening at every step. No words can adequately relate how meaningful to me your kindness and professionalism were.
In a world in which fear and isolation have consumed so many, I have never been more grateful to have moved to Harwich 24 years ago. We live in a kind community, and I, for one, intend to pay it forward.
Try A Little Less Complaining
I work in Chatham and could see the First Night fireworks from our driveway. It was the best fireworks display on a town level I have ever witnessed. My hat goes off to the people involved putting this on.
On a few different issues, there are so many generous people of Cape Cod that have the means to pay for a new senior center in Chatham, I hope someone steps forward to donate the funds to build a new facility with plenty of open space for gardens, walking trails, benches to relax, and plenty of trees.
I enjoy watching the planes fly low overhead where I work. We must be on the "left base" pattern for the runway. I also like to park at the airport and watch the planes come and go in the summer when it's busier. The airport is not going away. I hope the safety improvements will proceed. Chatham has so many great features, a little less complaining from some town's people and more gratitude will go a long way with added health benefits and less stress for all!
Make Free Rapid Tests Available
If Massachusetts had universal health care coverage and a stronger public health system, as proposed in current “Medicare for All in Massachusetts” bills, critical public health measures would be ensured. Meanwhile, Barnstable County should use American Rescue Plan funding to make rapid test kits freely available via county health agents, councils on aging, fire and police stations in each town — as it has done for distribution of masks and hand sanitizer.
Infectious disease and public health experts agree that universal access to COVID-19 testing is essential to prevent community spread. The self-tests effectively detect active infections in 15 minutes. Widespread access to these rapid tests will avoid lockdowns and enable the operation of schools, restaurants, government offices, businesses and other venues to enable families and friends to gather safely.
The Omicron variant is spreading rapidly. Readily available testing is urgently needed, yet rapid self-test kit availability is inadequate and expensive nationwide. Insurance companies are an obstacle.
Governor Baker’s distribution of free tests is inadequate for Barnstable County, with its many part-time residents and visitors. Barnstable, Dennis, Orleans and Eastham are receiving test kits for just 29 percent of their populations. We urge our elected Barnstable County officials to act quickly to make free rapid test kits available to everyone who lives, works, studies or spends time in our towns.
Cape Cod Coalition for Universal Health Care
Otis Will Be Missed
I hope Otis Russell, wherever he is right now, is enjoying the many well deserved tributes to his outstanding sense of humor, deeply ingrained love for Monica and Nick, and especially his contributions to the children of Chatham. Many of those kids have grown up since the beginning of the AOC auctions and have their own children. Regretfully they will never know the joy and silliness and absurdities that took place once a year in June. Otis and Tim Wood went to great lengths to make that night beyond beyond special. Who could predict what would happen as the hours wore on and the craziness escalated? Wallets and hearts were opened and many of us still have reminders of those magical star lit evenings when we were all a part of something beyond ourselves. Otis was unique in every way and we are fortunate to have been a part of his life. He will be truly missed.
Palm Coast, Fla.
Chatham Reorganization Plan Premature
I am writing with my concerns regarding Ms. Goldsmith’s “Proposed Administration Order and Staffing Changes.” I believe a thorough review of Ms. Goldsmith’s compensation package and actual workweek should be made and compared to town managers’ in other towns of similar size and structure. If after doing so, it is felt the position of assistant town manager is necessary to improve the operations of our town, I believe the position should be publicly posted, followed by a formal process to select the most qualified person for the job. Best Practices suggest that a $150,000 a year job should be posted for out of town qualified applicants in addition to current town employees.
Finally, it is premature to consider the additional recommended staff position for “Housing and Sustainability” since the town has no specific plan or consensus as how to proceed in this area.
Since these proposed changes involve a major reorganization of our town government, additional positions and financial implications, I believe you should allow sufficient time for your research and consideration, and to gather input from the citizens of Chatham.
Wine Chats Provided Connection
I appreciated Tim Wood's column on Otis Russell. My wife and I met him many years ago at the Squire and we enjoyed sampling the wines he suggested – though I regret we never convinced him to offer Italian wines. After he left the Squire we never went back as he was our sole reason for going there. We always enjoyed conversing with him on a wide range of topics, some local, some national and some global. He will be missed.
Time For Parade Ideas!
As we turn the calendar to 2022, the Chatham Independence Day Parade Committee is once again looking for suggestions for this year's parade theme. We have always gotten some incredible suggestions from the community in the past and are looking forward to hearing some more of your great ideas! Please go to our website, www.chathamparade.com, to submit your idea.
Justin Bohannon, chairman
Chatham Independence Day Parade Committee
Not Too Late For Health Club Site?
While reading John Sweeney's letter "An Opportunity Missed" (Jan. 6), I echoed his thoughts as to why "our leaders" never thought about the failed Chatham Health Club as a perfect location for our senior center. A badly needed pool, now that Broad Reach has filled theirs in and it is no longer available for water aerobics. What a shame to tear down that structure for a "self-storage unit!" I'm sure with either adding on or whatever it would have taken, it would have been the ideal, perfect location. The realtor's sign is still out, maybe it's not a "done deal!"
Protect West Chatham Forest Forever
I applaud the Chatham Open Space Committee for its proposal to dedicate the last remaining forest along Middle Road as conservation land in perpetuity. The people of Chatham have spoken repeatedly about their desire to keep this forest intact. It also aligns with the town’s long range comprehensive plan, which states: “Pressure on our natural resources continues as Chatham's population expands. It is necessary…to prevent further damage if we are to preserve Chatham's natural assets so vital to the town's character and economic health.” The plan's Land Use Goal reads “...promote the redevelopment and reuse of existing developed property rather than the development of vacant land.” Why?
1. It is a crucial water recharge area for Chatham. All our water comes from groundwater. Forest cover increases groundwater recharge. Developments decrease it.
2. Maintaining forest will help minimize Chatham’s carbon footprint, and thus its contributions to global climate change.
3. Fragmentation of habitat is destructive to wildlife.
The town’s 2010 open space and recreation plan shows that this location is an important habitat for protection of rare species such as box turtles, a species of critical concern. I have observed a dramatic decline in bird and amphibian populations here. Development and road traffic are fragmentation factors contributing to this decline. This property adjoins extensive conservation lands and thus improves its value as open space and as unfragmented wildlife habitat. For the sake of future generations, and for the sake of wildlife, wilderness, and our ability to enjoy it, let’s protect this forest permanently.
Record Sale Really News?
In a mid-November edition of The Chronicle the headline just under the crease on the front page heralded that Chatham had reached a milestone due to the first $15 million house sold. I was curious about this milestone. Is it a point of honor that every small town aspires to reach and subsequently surpass, therefore the headline announcing the sale has the place of honor just under the fold of the front page? Does this “milestone” effect the quality of the lives of most residents of the town and if so what effect might that be? What specifically is to be celebrated about this milestone? Perhaps the headline informs me that now every house's value in Chatham has been lifted by this singular real estate transaction?
I wonder if the transfer tax was passed and $13,000 or .01 percent of $13,000,000 was added to the housing trust, would that milestone be so grandly trumpeted in our town newspaper? My questions have to do with my confusion about why the $15 million property sale is a milestone, implying that it is a point of community pride, a measure of achievement. Are we waiting with baited breath for the first $20 million property to be sold?
It's a new year and I hope that the next milestone to be announced on the front page of The Chronicle is one of the following: Chatham reaches a milestone: all 3- to 5-year-olds will have the option of free public preschool and all infants and toddlers will have high-quality care given by highly qualified and well-paid caregivers. Or year-round Chatham families live in aesthetically pleasing, healthy, neighborhood housing they can afford. Perhaps such potential headlines would also announce milestones that would carry with them more obvious and widely felt effects that would benefit the whole town. I, like all Chronicle readers, care about Chatham, and as such suspect I am not alone in my confusion, so when our hometown paper addresses us as mere spectators applauding from the sidelines of our plushiest private financial transactions, I am left wondering.
Jan. 6 Editorial Partisan Home Run
I have always enjoyed reading Tim Wood’s articles and this one was a home run (“My Friend Otis,” Jan. 6). It was upbeat and positive about a man who cared deeply about his fellow man. I worked with other VFW members for the Art of Charity event held at the Chatham VFW several times, usually as a bartender at the pricey champagne bar. Pleased to report mucho bucks were taken at that bar for the cause. It sure was a fun community affair.
Now onto the Jan. 6 Editorial. What a difference comparing the two articles. This was a partisan home run!
This Jan. 6th commission is not interested in investigating the only person shot and killed by the Capitol Police, being Ashli Babbitt, an Iraq war veteran who was unarmed and demonstrated no threat. The Capitol Police investigated themselves and reported the shooting was justified. No other police department in the country would have determined this shooting was justified. Also, they are not interested in why countless videos show Capitol Police waving numbers of people to come in the capitol through various doors. Bottom line, this commission has one objective: to discredit Trump and prevent him from running in 2024.
Also, there is no scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity. I suggest you read the book “Unsettled” by Steven E. Koonin, former undersecretary for science, U.S. Department of Energy under the Obama administration. And then come back and tell us about consensus on climate change.
James F. Coyle
Health Club Could Be Opportunity
I believe that there are many people in Chatham who support John Sweeney and me in hoping that the opportunity has not yet been lost to keep the facilities of the Chatham Health and Swim Club in Chatham.
The town talks about caring for our large elderly population. Many of this group found the wonderful pool an enormous health asset and something that cannot be found anywhere else in Chatham.
Has the property actually been sold? It does not appear to be so and the price doesn't seem to ever have been reduced. Surely an investment in the health of the community is a worthwhile investment and one which, with a bit of imagination on the part of town management, could attract volunteer participation. If arranged properly, the fees could cover the interest of the debt incurred.