Town Administrator, Senior Ctr. Director Address BBA Members
Fraine and DeMattia
Every spring, Bellingham Town Administrator Denis Fraine is invited to dinner with the Bellingham Business Association (BBA) so that he can give members an update on the “state of the town,” if you will. This year was no exception.
The April dinner meeting was New England Country Club’s first function of the 2015 season, and they’re off to a great start. Approximately 25 members enjoyed their meal, a selection of either beef tenderloins, grilled salmon or chicken vodka penne.
After dinner, the knowledgeable Fraine spoke without notes about what’s been happening in Bellingham. Understandably, people wanted to know about the budget, considering the exorbitant snow-removal cost during the past winter. “Every fall, we set aside funds for snow removal,” said Fraine; “if there’s any excess, we use it for a town project. This winter cost us one million dollars—we had enough to pay for it but there is no excess.” He went on to praise the employees of the DPW, who do a great job and take much pride in the job they do clearing Bellingham streets of snow.
Naturally, Fraine talked about the poor condition of the roads in town because of New England’s repetitive freeze-thaw cycle. “Every year, we spend $1 million repairing roads—there’s actually a committee that prioritizes the roads to be repaired. If you go to the town website and click on ‘DPW,’ you can see a map of the roads being worked on.”
He also spoke about the $15 million water filtration project, which will result in a new filtration plant in south Bellingham and an overhaul of the existing filtration plant in the north end of town. This, he says, will eliminate the iron and manganese from town water, which will also reduce damage to the water pipes.
The new police station, according to Fraine, will be finished on time and under budget, barring anything unforeseen. He spoke of the need for the new 14,000 sq. ft. station, and the fact that, because of careful planning, they were able to retire some old debt so that the new police station could be funded without a debt exclusion or override. He chuckled, “The cells were actually one of the nicer features in the old station. The state-of-the-art cells in the new station are nice, but after spending a weekend in one of them, you’re not going to want to return.”
Attention, BoomersSenior Center Director Laura DeMattia (pictured above) spoke to the group about the outreach efforts underway to connect the senior center with people who, for whatever reason, cannot drive. Outreach Coordinator and Assistant Director Lisa Mottola will make arrangements either to go to them or to bring them to the center.
DeMattia also spoke about some programs available at the center that seniors—whom she defined as anyone age 60 or older—may not be aware of. “We have new screening software, called Benefits Checkup. It takes about a half hour to input someone’s information [confidentially, of course], and then the software will identify and print out a list of federal, state and local programs that the senior is eligible to apply for,” she explained. “There’s a lot of assistance out there, but it can be overwhelming trying to locate it.”
DeMattia noted that the senior center is the intake site for the heating assistance program, that they have volunteers who do free tax return preparation, and, perhaps most important of all, with the SHINE program, there are people to help you navigate the treacherous waters of health insurance.
“It used to be that you decided on your insurance when you retired, and that was it—you had that insurance [along with Medicare] for the rest of your life. Now, you may find yourself deciding on health insurance every year. The wonderful volunteers who run the SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders) program—they live here in Bellingham—can explain everything and help you to decide what’s best for you.”
DeMattia also mentioned that they have durable medical equipment such as walkers, commodes, etc., available that seniors or their caregivers may borrow or keep. (Call the center at 508-966- 0398 to find out if they have what you need.) Donations of such clean reusable equipment are accepted also.
There’s always something going on at the Bellingham Senior Center, including some new after-work programming for younger seniors, and DeMattia cordially invited everyone to check it out. Senior center programs and activities are always listed in the Bellingham Bulletin.
The next BBA meeting will be held at Coachmen’s Lodge on May 13, and will feature updates from our elected state officials, Rep. Kevin Kuros and Sen. Ryan Fattman.
Formed in 1981, The BBA’s mission is to improve business conditions, promote higher business standards, and provide a better understanding of issues and problems that affect the business community, as well as to promote civic, cultural, economic, and social betterment to the residents of the town of Bellingham.
Members must either live in Bellingham or have their businesses located here. For more information or to obtain a membership application, visit the BBA website, bellinghambusinessassociation.org. To attend the May dinner meeting, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Monday, May 11.