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UPDATED June 29: Twenty-seven people gathered June 24, a beautiful summer's evening, on the Battle Road Scenic Byway in Arlington, to honor a founding father, Prince Hall.
Declared by the Select Board in 2021 and voted on by Town Meeting that year, the first Prince Hall Day event was held.
They came together to honor an 18th-century patriot, abolitionist, organizer, educator, advocate and Mason.
Beth Melofchik, a Precinct 9 Town Meeting member who helped organize the events, wrote: “Prince Hall led efforts to allow free black men to join the Revolutionary army. He worked to establish the first schools for black children.
“And Prince Hall was the first person to use the language of the Declaration of Independence for a reason other than war with England. For more information about Prince Hall see Danielle Allen's 2021 article in The Atlantic >> and the WGBH video, below.
Those involved gathered on the 225th anniversary of the day on which Prince Hall gave an address to his African Lodge, considered the first official black institution in the U.S. Titled “A Charge,” it was delivered at Menotomy, as Arlington was known, on June 24, 1797.
We bring people together for the purpose of finding connections."
UPDATED June 29: The end of fines for overdue books is one of Andrea Nicolay’s proudest accomplishments in her 10 years at Arlington’s libraries, the last seven as director. Her final day is July 1, and then she will move on to become director of libraries in Albany, N.Y., a city with more than twice as many people as Arlington, with seven branches compared to the two here. It is a challenge she says she is more than ready to meet.
Nicolay’s tenure has included circulation that reached an all-time high, an increase in library hours, a new strategic plan and programs that go beyond the purview of the traditional library: It has joined with Arlington’s social-service agencies to assist patrons in need of support and will add a program in the fall to help non-English speakers improve their language skills. In addition, the library will work with Lamplight, a nonprofit organization already in Arlington, to help people pass the test required to become certified nursing assistants.
For Nicolay, libraries fill a multitude of functions and are a major resource for a community, having long moved beyond merely being a place to check out a mystery novel. “We bring people together for the purpose of finding connections, whether making a new friend or having eyes opened to an issue you never thought about before. It’s a place of light and enlightenment.”
Libraries, she says, have always supplied access to information and entertainment, “and we do that at every level. We provide people with resources so they can understand issues better or learn a new skill. I think of them as being multifaceted scaffolding for civic good.”
In its final scheduled meeting until Sept. 8, the School Committee on Thursday, June 23, celebrated the school year’s end and responded to community demand to revive science camp, start before-school care and educate families about keeping firearms away from minors.
Friday, June 24 -- the final day of classes until fall -- found the Arlington Public Schools with only 17 Covid-19 cases across its 10 campuses, celebrating a year-plus of on-campus operation (since late spring 2021) and recognizing students honored at the national level.
“It’s been an amazing first year,” said Superintendent Elizabeth Homan, whose anniversary in that position will be July 1.
“It’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride, as omicron [the variant of the novel coronavirus that was the likely cause of a high rate of infections earlier in spring, topping out at 362 in mid-May] threw us for a bit of a loop, but we’ve had a successful year,” she said.
A notable triumph of the just-concluded school year was that of Ottoson Middle School students who created a website and a documentary recognized at the national level in the National History Day competition. Half-a-dozen of them made a brief report about their work at the meeting. Committee member Bill Hayner was impressed. “People often worry about the future [of youth] – I don’t,” he said.
See ACMi video, below
UPDATED July 1: "I am a woman, and I am pissed," said Sen. Cindy Friedman, Democrat of Arlington, at a rally in front of Town Hall on Friday, June 24.
She addressed an estimated 200 people gathered to protest the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that ended constitutional protections for abortion. These had been in place since Jan. 22, 1973, before a decision Friday by the current court's conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. The ruling is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
In anticipation of this decision, Mystic Valley Action for Choice, a grassroots group that works to take action and provide education in support of reproductive access and rights, planned the rally, "Stand Up and Stand Together," at on the steps of Town Hall.
Joining the group were members of the Town Democratic Committee. Those taking part moved to Mass. Ave. and Pleasant after gathering at Town Hall. Adding his voice was state Rep. Sean Garballey.
As town residents held signs, horns from passing cars blared as drivers signaled support. However, one driver in a pickup truck dissented, calling from his cab, "Ya lost!"
Dishing up some Arlington restaurant-related news morsels:
Hot weather is on the way, and we’ll soon have a new venue to enjoy refreshing Japanese food—sushi, sashimi, maki, salads, teriyaki specialties and more.
Summer Sushi, 474 Mass. Ave., where USushi used to be, will serve lunch and dinner. Hours are Monday through Thursday and Sunday noon to 9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday noon to 10 p.m. The restaurant has seating for 18 patrons.
An estimated 100 people semi-circled the Town Hall stage, as a number of state officials helped say goodbye to Adam Chapdelaine, with generosity and humor, on June 17, his last day as town manager after serving here 12 years.
In September, he becomes deputy director of Boston’s Green Ribbon Commission, an agency begun in 2010 by then-Mayor Menino seeking to help the city adapt to climate change.
Following an indoor event on Friday, June 17, which almost seemed prepandemic, except for a few wearing masks, here is a summary of farewells to the town's manager on his last day. Jim Feeney, deputy town manager, served as emcee.
Lenard Diggins, Select Board chairman, let wit leaven a heart-felt opening:
"So, can you imagine having five people to whom you directly report? Whether they see themselves as your bosses or the presidents of your fan clubs, members of the Select Board are a handful; and with there being five members on the Select Board and five digits on a hand, the metonymymay be apropos.
It is believed to be a first for employees of the the Arlington-based company, founded in 1946, which has not responded to requests for comment.
The union called the June 15 vote "overwhelming," but did not report a vote count. The union said the victory follows a nearly yearlong campaign, which "faced aggressive union busting by the company."
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