HANSON — As Hanson works to fill vacant posts on 31 town committees, it named two people on Tuesday, June 13 to new or revitalized committees.
Michelle Mills of Capt. Nathaniel Drive, a retired teacher and librarian who has had cerebral palsy and right hemiplegia since birth, was appointed to head up the Hanson Disability Commission. Holmes Street resident Gary Banuk, a retired teacher and industry researcher with budgetary experience, was appointed to the town’s dormant Education Fund Committee.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said discussion of the general state of committee vacancies should be delayed to June 27, due to the evening’s full agenda. The board concurred.
“I think it would be helpful to get descriptions of what each one of the committees does and how many people we’re down,” she said. “Then we could have a more robust discussion.”
Selectmen’s Administrative Assistant Meredith Marini has already done some of that work.
“Some of them are standing committees,, so we can skip over a bunch of them,” Marini said. “I’ll go through and pare it down and [leave] the ones that you are probably going to have questions on.”
Mills has a bachelor’s degree in special needs with a minor in psychology and is a pastoral minister to the disabled as well as chairman of the Cohasset Commission for the Disabled. She holds a certificate in pastoral care.
“I started the Commission on Disabilities in Cohasset,” Mills said of the group she chaired for seven years. “We want a van for the town for the seniors and we would be up for information.”
Town Administrator Michael McCue said the Disability Commission, just created at the October 2016 Town Meeting, would oversee efforts to make facilities accessible according to state and federal guidelines, assisting with decisions about sidewalks and crossings.
“Very specific people need to be on that — someone who is disabled, a family member of someone who is disabled — it’s rather succinct,” McCue said. “As soon as we wanted to start to get rolling, I reached out to Mrs. Mills.”
FitzGerald-Kemmett said Hanson is fortunate to have someone with Mills’ experience step forward to take the post.
“We need someone designated to run the group and at least four Hanson citizens,” Banuk said. “I think people from Hanson would like to see the money distributed to Hanson people.”
He also said he would like to see the tax bill check-off changed.
“It starts at $1 to $10, which is nothing nowadays,” he said. “I think this is a way for people to put a few dollars into this, because I hear people talking about it … and maybe we can do something for the schools.”
Banuk had also served as a member of the former Indian Head and Maquan Schools Priority Repair Committee.
FitzGerald-Kemmett asked what the Education Fund Committee’s charter and purpose are. The committee, according to Selectmen’s Administrative Assistant Meredith Marini, was formed by Town Meeting in 1993 to form a committee consisting of the superintendent of schools or their designee, and four Hanson residents serving three-year terms to provide scholarships funded by a check-off box on town tax bills.
“The committee has been inactive for years,” Marini said. “The last time somebody was appointed to it was in 2008. Mr. Banuk has inquired about it and we’d like to get it up and running again.”
McCue said the fund currently contains about $7,500.
Selectmen also filled a vacancy — through June 30, 2018 — on the Recreation Commission, after some discussion about possibly tabling the decision in order to attract more applicants.
Selectman James Hickey suggested a month’s delay to bring in “new blood, perhaps someone who has not been in there before.” He also said he had been told a third application was coming in, but it had not been filed.
“I would like to see us be a lot more active in reaching out and soliciting more volunteers,” FitzGerald-Kemmett agreed. “This isn’t a reflection on anybody in the past, I’m just talking about going forward, this is what I’d like to see us do.”
The motion was withdrawn, however, at the request of Recreation Commission Chairman AnneMarie Bouzan, who urged action as the new commission is trying to get things moving again.
Health Board Administrative Assistant Theresa Cocio of 1211 Whitman St., was ultimately chosen on the stipulation that she step down from her post as union steward, but may remain on the negotiating committee. Cocio said she had indicated that willingness to Marini when she filed her application.
Bouzan noted that Cocio, who had applied for appointment when the new commission was appointed, had never volunteered for other boards.
Former Camp Kiwanee Caretaker and volunteer James Flanagan of 43 Baker St. had also applied.
“I knew you guys weren’t going to vote for me, so if you want to appoint her you can,” Flanagan said, withdrawing from consideration. “I was just throwing my hat in to volunteer. … I know that they can use a lending hand.”
McGahan said he appreciated the gesture.
“I’ll talk about the elephant in the room,” he said, referring to labor counsel Leo Peloquin’s report, which mentioned Flanagan in several areas. “I know that you objected to it, and I heard what you had said, but that is definitely something that struck me. … We’ve still got to heal and move forward. More time is needed.”
In other appointments, Health Agent Matt Tanis was named records access officer for the Board of Health, Senior Center Director Mary Collins was reappointed as a member of the Old Colony Elder Services Board of Directors and FitzGerald-Kemmett was appointed as the Board of Seletmen’s representative to the Hanson 200th Anniversary Committee.
“I have weaned down many of the other things that I was part of in order to give this job its due respect,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said of her new position of Selectman.
“You’ve got more energy than anyone can deal with, so absolutely,” McGahan said of his vote in support of her appointment.
With the change of Memorial Field Trustees from an elected to an appointed board, Selectmen voted to appoint Michael Josselyn of 33 Litchfield Lane, whose elected term would have expired in May 2018 and Robert O’Brien Jr., 1003 Monponsett St., who received the most votes for a two-year term ending in 2019. Mark Gomes, 113 Andrew Lane, who received the most votes for a three-year term, ending in 2020. Both Josselyn and O’Brien already serve on parks and fields and have said they would be willing to serve on the Memorial Field Trustees. Selectmen said Gomes had made no such commitment, and may withdraw if he wishes.