Marion Board of Selectmen talk reopening town

May 19, 2020

MARION — In a May 19 video meeting on a wide range of topics, Selectmen met with the Board of Health, set Town Meeting date for June 22, the election for June 26 and announced the Town House will be fully staffed but closed to the public starting May 26.

“We oughta be able to figure out how we move ahead and protect our residents,” said Selectman John Waterman.

Town Administrator Jay McGrail outlined the process for Town Meeting.

The meeting will be restricted to the auditorium, gym and cafeteria of Sippican School and the field house at Tabor Academy. Pre-registration is required and the link will be sent out to residents in advance. Closed circuit video feeds will be in each location with a microphone to let residents speak. Selectmen and other board and committee will be seated in the auditorium.

At the Selectmen meeting, the board approved the amended budget that takes into account the projected loss in state aid for the coming fiscal year. All warrants will be included in Town Meeting instead of only the essential ones.

Before then, the town is taking steps to return to normal life. 

Public hearings will also resume starting June 1 using ORCTV and the Police Department’s conference room. A representative from a board will be in the conference room, and residents watching on television can call a number that will allow them to speak directly to the board member present and those who are there via Zoom.

Board of Health Clerk Dot Brown spoke before Selectmen and said their board had difficulty figuring out the grey areas of the state’s new reopening regulations, but has to enforce them regardless 

Waterman disagreed with Brown, and said the town should be able to make its own decisions on reopening if there are gray areas in the state.

Brown said the Board of Health cannot do that because any citizen can complain to the state that the town isn’t following guidelines, and the Board of Health would get in trouble for it. 

“Our job is to make sure the state rules are followed,” said Brown. 

Dr. Edward Hoeffer offered a solution and said “if we have room to make a decision that doesn’t contradict the state, I’m okay with that.” But that only happens 10% of the time. 

Selectman Norm Hills said that the town should identify areas where it could work independently of the state without stepping on toes in the process. 

The town’s temporary food bank will end next Thursday. McGrail said it will transition into delivery and light transportation for seniors. Families in need can go to Damien’s Place in Wareham, which will increase its acceptance of new families. 

“We did it for three months and I commend them for doing it,” said McGrail of the staff who ran the town’s food bank.