Posts by Jason Alexander

Officials urge residents to respond to potential cuts in MBTA train and ferry service to south shore towns

West Hingham commuter rail station [Hingham Current photo | Kristen Arute]

“The main event tonight is the next agenda item,” quipped Board of Selectmen Chair Mary Power at the start of last night’s meeting, “and that is the discussion of proposed MBTA Hingham, ferry and Greenbush rail service cuts.” Sen. Patrick O’Connor, Reps. Jamie Murphy and Joan Meschino, CEO of South Shore Chamber of Commerce Peter Forman and the town’s representative to the MBTA David Alschuler were all in attendance to discuss the issue.

“Those of you who have been tuning in have known that the Board is working on letter to send to state,” noted Power. “That’s something that Joe (Fisher) is working on very diligently.” The meeting was described as an opportunity to get input for Fisher’s letter which will be discussed and voted on at their meeting on Thursday.

“I think the public needs to know where do matters stand now,” said Fisher. “What’s going on? What’s the current proposal from the T? And what’s the T’s schedule for moving forward? What are the next steps. And the public and especially Hingham residents want to know how this going to affect the Town of Hingham. And then we all want to know what is the Board of Selectmen doing and what are we planning to do?”

Fisher outlined his agenda for addressing those questions:

  • “The first thing is a letter being sent to MassDOT, the MBTA and other government officials.”

  • “It’s important to hear what other towns are doing.”

  • “Residents want to know what they can do to save the ferry, what they can do to save Greenbush.”

  • “What resources are out there so people know where to turn to get additional information.”

The MBTA is required to begin their budget discussions now and is attempting to find ways to save money and bring in revenue in an effort to close a budget deficit of $500M, plan for the next budget cycle and predict future cycles. As people slowly head back to work, ridership has begun to resume; however, it is nowhere near where it was prior to the pandemic. Supply does not meet demand. Before COVID, the Greenbush line during peak hours was at 98-104% capacity. It is now at 10-12%.

The T is going through a series of ridership scenarios looking at critical transit lines and communities to see where there could be potential savings in this current fiscal year. The most significant way is to make cuts to service. “They are thinking of doing this in a policy-structured way,” noted Meschino. “I would argue that the policy rubric they’re looking at is too narrow.” She encouraged listeners to visit her website for more information and to sign up for her ferry newsletter.

“The proposed cuts are definitely real and are going to have to come from somewhere inside of the MBTA’s budget,” said O’Connor. “The decline in ridership has led to major reductions in the amount of fares that the MBTA are taking in. There will be a cliff that the MBTA will go off of, and there will be a deficit.”

In response to the threat, Meschino said that she has been working with communities to write letters, reach out to business partners and reach out to the environmental community “to address what the public health issues are, our carbon emission reduction goals, our social justice and our congestion and transit goals.”

Meschino, who is a ferry rider herself, went on to describe efforts made in Hull to save the ferry and noted that one of the criteria the MBTA is using to make their determination is “critical transit.”

“We are looking to counter the false narrative that it is luxury transit,” said Meschino, “and try to put a face on who the ridership is.”

The State invested $574M to get the Greenbush line up and running just 15 years ago. However, Greenbush and the ferry fall into what’s known as “the fourth quadrant,” which means they could see deep cuts or possible elimination altogether. “This is a real scenario,” said Meschino. “This isn’t bluster.” The MBTA will present the rubric they intend to use make recommendations to the Fiscal Management Control Board on November 9th.

“We need to preserve service,” said O’Connor. “It’s always going to be easier to scale back up from something that’s in existence right now rather than if they take Greenbush and the ferry offline. That may be a death blow to both of those modes of transportation. We absolutely cannot allow that to happen.”

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Owners Look To Expand South Hingham Gas Station

The owners of Hingham Gas, a Gulf Oil station located at 19 Whiting Street in South Hingham, have purchased the single family home next door and are looking to expand their business. The small Cape, which sits on a 1.26-acre lot at 27 Whiting Street between the gas station and Hingham Jewelers and behind Scarlet Oak Tavern, is located in a district that is zoned for commercial use. The gas station was constructed in the 1950s and is on a 0.41-acre lot.

Merhej and Sons are seeking approval to demolish both the house and the existing gas station kiosk in order to construct a one-story, 2570-square-foot building for retail space which would contain bathrooms, office space, a service area and an area for a cashier – all of the things that are typical to support a gas station service station. However, a building cannot straddle two lots, so the lots would need to be combined. The owners would also like to use a proposed 1000-square-foot underground garage for storage which is not an allowed use.

Attorney Jeff Tocchio presented the proposal to the Planning Board on Monday, June 15th on behalf of the owners. In addition to asking for a reduction in curb openings, also called “curb cuts,” which would require a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) permit, the owners would like to expand the number of parking spaces to 16 in order to support the retail use of the building. Tocchio pointed out that the plan calls for only 4.8% of lot coverage where 25% is allowed.

However, the project is more complicated than it would appear at first glance. The site falls within the Accord Pond Watershed and the Hingham Aquifer Protection District, so the increase in impervious surface means new measures would need to be taken to clean and recharge the water on the site. An intermittent stream on the property and wetlands that are located behind the house at 27 Whiting Street complicate the plan. These wetlands service the town’s water supply. “The existing building, shed and part of the parking encroach within the 50-foot buffer,” said Don Rose, a civil engineer from CHA Consultants on behalf of the owners. “We have tried to design the improvements to remain as far out of the 50-foot buffer as possible.”

Stormwater rate control would require a new approach to stormwater issues that exist on the site because the current method is not approved by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and a better and more detailed erosion control plan would be necessary too. While expansion of gas use is not being requested, there is a higher potential for contamination on the property due to the fact that the business is a gas station. There is already a history of leakage there. “Because it’s a land use with higher potential pollutant load and in a critical area,” explained John Chessia, of Chessia Consulting Group, “treatment is more important.”

Traffic is anticipated to increase due to the change in use from residential to retail. Whiting Street already carries an average of more than 22,000 vehicles per day. It’s expected that around 25 additional vehicles would be added to the road during peak hours. Chief Olsson pointed out that a lot of traffic concerns exist at Queen Anne’s Corner. “This is an opportunity to address some of the speeding issues in that area,” he said. “It might be time to reduce to a 30-mile-per-hour zone.” A failed septic system, internal traffic circulation issues and the lack of a lighting plan add to the list of complexities for this project.

The Planning Board moved to continue the discussion until July 27th.. The Conservation Commission heard the proposal on May 18th and will review it again at their meeting on July 13th. However, other constraints may be added along the way. “The wild card is the Board of Health,” said Chessia, “because they have their own supplemental regulations.”

Planning Board members:

William C. Ramsey, Chairman

Gary Tondorf-Dick, Clerk

Gordon M. Carr

Judith Sneath

Kevin M. Ellis

Masks To Benefit 4th Of July Parade In 2021

This year, they will be donating a portion of the sales of their 4th of July masks to Hingham’s 4th of July Parade Committee in order to support a “bigger and brighter celebration” in 2021. “My wife grew up in Hingham, and as a family we have been bringing our children to the 4th of July parade since they were infants,” said Abi. “Last year we finally made the decision to move to Hingham and become a part of the community here.”

After a question was raised by Parade Committee Chair, Jim Murphy, Hingham’s Veteran’s Services Agent Keith Jermyn confirmed that the masks adhere to the “Flag Code,” which designates appropriate and inappropriate uses for the American flag. The Code states that unless the item of clothing is made out of an actual flag, it is not illegal.

The first shipment of masks has been received, and orders are being taken online. The word “Hingham” has been activated as a coupon code which allows residents to get free shipping and enables the company to track sales that are going toward the parade fundraiser.

Scarlet Oak To Offer Drive-In Movies

On Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen voted to allow Scarlet Oak Tavern to hold drive-in movies on Tuesday nights from June 19th through July 14th.  This will be offered in conjunction with the restaurant’s take-out dining service, and the potential exists for it to continue for the rest of the summer.  Meals will not be delivered to cars, but tables will be set up where people will be able to pick up their food orders.  Alcohol consumption of moviegoers will be prohibited.

“We just want one night during this crazy time to have a small amount of people come down to the restaurant safely and be able to watch a movie,” said General Manager Kenny Robichaud. “We are just doing this to make a memory to keep Scarlet Oak in the local community and to try to be a restaurant that really wants to be out there for the guests and for the local community.”

The entertainment license would allow the restaurant to sell tickets for up to 32 vehicles to park in the rear parking lot and view a movie.  That section of the parking lot can fit 74 cars; however, due to social distancing requirements, the cars would be spaced further apart.  On the phone were members of the Staff Reopening Team who, according to Town Administrator Tom Mayo, “have been working diligently to provide for a safe and appropriate reopening of our restaurants using all the tools made available to us from the State.”

Workplace standards for drive-in movie theaters were issued by the state on May 18th.  Following that, Scarlet Oak applied for a license.  Their request was circulated through a working group consisting of the health, building, fire and police departments.  “In general, the group supports the application and feels it can be conducted in a safe manner and provide a nice service to the community and help the restaurant get back into business,” said Senior Planner Emily Wentworth.

Both police and fire would be on location on the first night to assess the situation.  “We would be there to ensure that everything was safe and vehicle access would be unimpeded in the event of an emergency,” said Sergeant Jeff Kilroy of the Hingham Police Department. “We would also outline an evacuation plan.”  Lt. Chris DiNapoli, Fire Marshal for the Hingham Fire Department, assured the Board that he and Sgt. Kilroy and would make adjustments “on the fly” if needed.  “With everything that’s been going on the last few months, there’s going to be some trial and error,” he said, “but I think it can be done safely and be done right.”  Chief Olsson pointed out that, as with all entertainment licenses, they have “the right to reconsider if everything doesn’t work out.”  A detail officer will be on site to assist with exiting at the end of the movie.

A State environmental law prohibits the idling of cars beyond a certain amount of time.  Information to that effect would be handed out to attendees, and compliance would be reviewed during the first showing.  Abutters had not been notified; however, Kenny pointed out that surrounding businesses are closed at that time of night.  It was also determined that no residential communities would be impacted by the light of the screen or by the audio which would come though the stereo systems inside guests’ cars.  Restroom facilities will be available inside the restaurant for movie-goers and clearly taped off for social distancing purposes.

Once the restaurant is able to reopen, parking lot capacity will be reevaluated.  A zoning formula requires one parking space for every three seats, and there was much discussion about how parking requirements would be impacted by the reopening phases and restaurant seating availability during those phases and on the particular days and times the movies would be shown.  All aspects would be reevaluated after July 14th.

Tickets for upcoming movies can be reserved here.

Planning Board Approves Function Space At The Range

On Monday night, The Planning Board approved a request that was made by the owners of The Range Bar & Grille to convert 1200 sq. ft. of existing storage space into a function room.  This is part of an overall development plan for the restaurant.

There were two conditions that went along with the approval.  The first pertained to flexing the maximum seating between the tavern space and the function area.  When an event is taking place within the 55-seat function space, an equal number of seats would need to be removed from the inside and outdoor tavern area in order to maintain the 136-seat maximum for the building.  That number was arrived at through calculations for Title V.  The seats would then need to be set aside and clearly marked as unusable.  The second was that the restaurant would be required to provide a list of dates and times of planned functions to the Building Department and the Board of Health on the Monday of each week any functions were scheduled.

Jeff Tocchio of Drohan, Tocchio and Morgan was on hand to represent the owners, Old Derby Nominee Trust.  He assured the Board that barriers would be set up to separate the tavern space from the function area, and he noted that parking had been deemed sufficient by a traffic expert.  In fact, it “exceeded peak calculations,” and there were “plenty of overflow spaces.”​

Since all the work will be conducted on the interior, the Board granted the request to waive a site plan review.  “We should be encouraging all of our businesses to think about developing new spaces,” said Kevin Ellis who approved of the renovations.

“I think it’s going to be a good use of space,” said Gordon Carr. “Hopefully it will provide (The Range) some flexibility in the next 6 months to use this as restaurant space, and it will be useful space for graduation parties next spring.”

“Or maybe later this year,” quipped Jeff.

Planning Board members:

William C. Ramsey, Chairman

Gary Tondorf-Dick, Clerk

Gordon M. Carr

Judith Sneath

Kevin M. Ellis

The Planning Board can be reached at PlanningBoard@hingham-ma.gov.

BREAKING NEWS: State Enters Phase 1 Of Reopening

BREAKING NEWS: Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito​ announced this morning that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is now entering Phase 1 of a 4-phase plan to reopen the state’s economy.

“We said from the beginning we were going to follow best practices and data,” said Gov. Baker.  “The data we have collected has been used to incorporate and build this plan.  The process associated with these phases is a function of how we do.”

“People need to do their part,” added Lt. Gov. Polito, “and are key to unlocking the next phases of activity.”

South Hingham water system flushing begins May 17

Starting on Sunday, May 17th, Aquarion Water Company will begin flushing water mains and hydrants in sections of South Hingham.  Flushing activities will take place overnight, between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., in order to minimize any disruption to customers.

Essential Water System Maintenance

As a water provider, Aquarion provides an essential service.  Water utilities are part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s “critical infrastructure sectors,” as safe drinking water is critical to protecting public health.  This program is being undertaken to ensure customers continue to receive safe, reliable drinking water.  The federal government recognizes that safe, clean reliable provision of water is essential, especially now as towns are dealing with a public health emergency.

According to the company website, it is currently operating under an emergency pandemic plan. As part of  that plan, the company asks customers to recognize the essential work being done by its employees, and reminds them to adhere to social distancing rules for everyone’s safety.  If a customer sees a crew performing work in their area, and wishes to ask a question about it, they are encouraged to visit www.aquarionwater.com or the company’s Facebook page, or call Customer Service at 1-800-732-9678.

Helpful Water System Flushing Program Information

Flushing can potentially result in episodes of decreased water pressure or discoloration.  Discoloration results from temporary disturbances of the normal water flow within the piping network which can stir up naturally-occurring minerals and sediment that settle within the water mains.  The objective of the water main and hydrant flushing program is to remove these accumulated sediments from the pipes, and this is accomplished by flushing water out of the fire hydrants.

If you live in or near the target flushing areas listed below, Aquarion recommends that you store water in your refrigerator for drinking and cooking in case you experience any disruptions in service.  Also, if you notice any water discoloration, they suggest that you refrain from using hot water and run cold water until the water is clear again. For any other questions, customers can explore the company’s Discolored Water FAQ or call Aquarion’s Customer Service Department at 1-800-732-9678.

A “Code Red” will be issued each day to customers living on streets that will be flushed later that night.  To keep customers informed about scheduled/unscheduled work, Aquarion utilizes a CodeRED notification system to call affected customers.  Aquarion encourages customers to sign up for this free service at www.aquarionwater.com/alerts-and-outages.

FLUSHING SCHEDULE FOR THE WEEK OF MAY 17th

Sunday, May 17th

Colonial Road, Constitution Road, Hancock Road, Independence Lane

Liberty Pole Road, Loring Hill Road, Main Street, Pioneer Road

Monday, May 18th

Brewster Road, Colonial Road, Highfield Road, Pilgrim Road, Puritan Road, Westmoreland Street, Winthrop Road

Tuesday, May 19th

Colonial Road, Cushing Street, Flintlock Circle, Hancock Road, Hitching Post Lane, Liberty Pole Road, Minuteman Road, Patriots Way, Pioneer Road, Puritan Road, Stagecoach Road, Volunteer Road

Wednesday, May 20th

Colonial Road, Cushing Street, Flintlock Circle, Hancock Road, Hitching Post Lane, Liberty Pole Road, Minuteman Road, Patriots Way, Pioneer Road, Puritan Road, Stagecoach Road, Volunteer Road.

Thursday, May 21st

Apple Tree Lane, Cushing Street, First Lane, Leclair Drive, Plymouth River Road, Sunset Lane

Senior Facilities and COVID-19

In the past two weeks, State officials have been including more detail with their weekly release of COVID-19 statistics.  Specific numbers for senior living facilities and nursing homes are now part of that new information.  According to the data, more than half of all deaths from the virus have occurred at these types of facilities.  The AARP, which has been calling for increased transparency of nursing home illnesses, more personal protective equipment for staff and increased testing of residents and staff, refers to these facilities as “ground zero in the fight against the coronavirus.”

BEACON HILL’S RESPONSE

In response to the virus’ impact on this vulnerable population, Governor Baker recently announced that the State would be making an additional $130 million in funding available for nursing homes to pay for staff, cleaning and personal protective equipment.  This is in addition to the $130 million that was made available on April 15th.  “These funds will be allocated to nursing homes that are meeting a benchmark for certain criteria to ensure these privately operated facilities are working as safely as possible,” he said.  The governor also said the state would be auditing long-term care facilities to ensure compliance with a new set of care criteria.

The Legislature is also taking action to stay on top of the spread of the virus among seniors.  On April 21st, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill which would require long-term care and assisted-living facilities to report COVID-19 cases and deaths on a daily basis to health officials, and it is now in the Senate.  This piece of legislation includes reporting requirements for all forms of elder housing, including “Soldiers’ Homes.”

HINGHAM FACILITIES

Hingham is home to several senior facilities.  The Lincoln School Apartments on Central Street is subsidized senior housing that is owned and maintained by the Town of Hingham.  Linden Ponds is an independent senior living community in South Hingham.  Queen Anne Nursing Home, also located in South Hingham, is a skilled nursing home, and  Allerton House and Bridges by Epoch are both assisted living facilities.  On Wednesday, April 29th, the most recent numbers were released, and the public was made aware of how each town in the Commonwealth was faring and how each senior facility was doing too.

For the safety and well-being of residents and staff, Bridges, Allerton House, Linden Ponds and Queen Anne all say that they have been in close contact with local and state health officials and engaging in important safety precautions, like restricting visitation to end-of-life and hospice care and keeping all community surfaces sanitized throughout the day.  Staff is required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like masks and gloves, and residents are having their temperatures taken daily.  Staff members are also having their temperatures taken at the start of each shift.

Social distancing is the order of the day, so, in lieu of dining rooms, Linden Ponds and Allerton House have adopted “Room Service Dining.”  All facilities have been engaging residents in creative forms of entertainment, like video chats with loved ones.  At Allerton House, family members schedule visits where they can stand outside with huge signs bearing expressions of love, while a loved one waves from inside the safety of their apartment.  Staff at Bridges have been showing residents how to participate in virtual activities and trips using online access.  Queen Anne has been employing various methods of technology, including Google Duo, to create virtual connections for residents.

BRIDGES BY EPOCH

Bridges exclusively serves seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.  Residents live in three separate highly-controlled, self-contained areas called “households,” and each household has dedicated direct-care staff who know the residents well.  This enables them to quickly spot any changes in their health or behavior.  On Friday, April 24th, testing was conducted by Fallon Ambulance Service “out of additional precaution to keep the residents safe,” and Bridges is pleased to announce that they have no positive cases of COVID-19.  “In a time of much uncertainty, I’m proud of my team here in Hingham for continuing to take strong precautions to keep our residents safe,” said Doreen Lang, Executive Director, “at the same time keeping them engaged and active while they are unable to have loved ones visit.”

ALLERTON HOUSE

One resident at Allerton House recently tested positive.  “We are a tight-knit community, and we are in constant communication with residents, families and staff about all aspects of life at Allerton House,” said Carol Taylor, Marketing Director.  “As a matter of protocol, when a resident or staff member tests positive, all residents, family members, and staff are notified.”  Carol is quick to add, “It is important to note that residents, their families, and staff have been extremely supportive of every precautionary measure our community has put in place to protect everyone’s health and safety.  We are following all guidelines.”  Allerton House offers traditional assisted living as well as memory care.  Those who are more independent are advised to adhere to social distancing guidelines when they go outdoors for activities, like shuffleboard, and they are encouraged to stay on campus and take advantage of delivery services.  Everyone is regularly informed about the importance of reporting any respiratory symptoms and are reminded to adhere to regular hand-washing and other best practices.

QUEEN ANNE NURSING HOME

Testing was completed for every one of the residents at Queen Anne, and, as of April 30th, there are 43 confirmed cases.  “We are so pleased to report that of the 43 positive cases 14 residents have completed their precautions and are recovered,” said Executive Director Kristen Lundin.  “Unfortunately, it has proved impossible to keep this rapidly spreading and highly contagious virus out of long-term care facilities, but we are taking extraordinary measures to manage the spread of COVID-19.”  Lundin hopes that expanded testing plus more financial assistance from the state to raise the pay for staff and purchase additional personal protective equipment will help stop any further spread of the virus.

LINDEN PONDS

“As we continue to be vigilant with testing and contact tracing, we can confirm that there are 15 active resident cases (out of 1,400 who live here),” said Dani Baldassare, Regional Communications Manager.  “These individuals are receiving appropriate care and treatment, and we are proceeding with the utmost caution. The safety and well-being of those on campus is our highest priority.”  In light of Governor Baker’s stay-in-place order, Linden Ponds is delivering mail and grocery orders directly to residents in their rooms.  They are also assisting with the delivery of orders from the on-campus pharmacy and marketplace and providing other services, such as pet walking.  Communication with residents has been taking place on multiple platforms, including a smartphone app and their in-house television station.

MOVING FORWARD

The State continues to grapple with the issue of testing.  Most of the testing that has been done to date has been conducted by the National Guard using mobile units.  In an attempt to assist with this initiative, the State sent out 14,000 kits that could be administered by facilities themselves; however, there were issues with the implementation.  So now the Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders has doubled the efforts of the National Guard in order to establish a baseline among the 383 nursing homes across the Commonwealth.  In the meantime, those in the field are focused on preserving and protecting the mental, emotional and physical health of their residents.

Editor’s Note: As of the most recent update, the Town of Hingham has not yet responded to requests for comment about the Lincoln School Apartments.  This is an ongoing story and will continue to be updated.

North Street Church hopes to hold drive-in services

North Street Community Church of the Nazarene at 235 North Street was founded in 1979 by the late Reverend John Scott Newell and his wife, Dorothy, who is still a member.  Originally located on Jerusalem Road in Cohasset, the church purchased a house on Rockland Street in 1982 and became officially organized.  In 1996 they sold the house and purchased the current chapel.  The chapel is almost 200 years old and was once located on the other side of the street.  It was moved to its current location in the 1880’s and has undergone several renovations over the years, most recently in 2004.  The church owns a second building in Hull that operates a ministry which has been serving the recovery community on the South Shore since 2017.

Reverend Jeremy Scott became pastor of North Street Church in 2006.  During these challenging times, he has been encouraging his congregation to engage in simple practices “to keep from spiritual, mental, relational and physical atrophy.”  He also wants to make sure they see this current situation as an opportunity to live out “response-ability,” which he teaches is found in their ability to respond.  “The historic Church is no stranger to periods of pandemic,” he points out.

Rev. Scott is grateful for the financial contributions of his congregants.  Some had previously set up automatic giving by mail, and others had already been tithing electronically through online offerings.  “Thankfully, we have been able to maintain our full-time staff throughout the pandemic,” he said.  Modern technology has also made sacraments like the weekly Eucharist possible.  “A priest can consecrate bread and wine at the same moment in different places,” explained Rev. Scott.  “Coming to the Table is an important part of continuing to practice as the Body of Christ, and these unprecedented times call for unprecedented practices.”

Unprecedented times also call for creative measures.  Several weeks ago, Rev. Scott purchased an FM transmitter.  He hoped to hold drive-in services at their location in Hull so that people could park nearby and listen on the radio in their enclosed vehicles.  “It’s still my hope to perhaps do this in coming weeks,” he said, “if Hull officials agree or if we can find another parking lot in which to do so with Hingham’s blessing.”

The church traditionally holds two weekly worship gatherings on Sunday.  “We opted to continue the first service online during the pandemic,” said Rev. Scott, “but have reduced its content to about half for the online format.”  His son Brayden helps him conduct the first service on Facebook Live, and they are hoping to make services available on YouTube in the coming weeks.  “For our second service, I go on (Facebook) Live for a minute or two of encouragement and then recommend the live stream of another church,” he adds.  “It’s a good time for us to experience the broader Church.”

Other programming has also continued.  “We were already doing an online Bible study with Zoom,” said Rev. Scott, “so that was a natural thing to continue.”  There are other things they are still doing online, including programs for kids and teens and a daily email encouragement from Rev. Scott with scripture, prayer and a practice for the day.  “Only about 10-15% of our congregation actually lives in Hingham,” he pointed out.  “So we have been wrestling with ‘community-at-a-distance’ for a while.”

Quincy resident Chris Brooks has been attending North Street for the past couple of years.  “It’s my home,” he said.  “It’s my family.  From the very beginning I felt very comfortable.”  That family atmosphere and vibe was further solidified for him at a church family retreat that was held a few months ago.  Although times have been challenging, “those connections are still there,” he said.  “We are a family, and we welcome everyone in that way.”

Chris anxiously awaits the devotionals that are sent out every morning through email and Facebook and looks forward to Rev. Scott’s daily check-ins which he uses to interact and engage with parishioners, find out what’s going on in their lives and ask for prayer requests.  As far as Sunday worship is concerned, Chris finds that Rev. Scott has been managing the virtual nature of it quite nicely.  “Jeremy is very intentional,” he said.  “He conducts the service as if we were all there with him.”

As with other congregations, the members of North Street miss worshipping together in person.  “We are at our best when we’re together whether in worship or in service,” said Rev. Scott.  “We miss being together, but I will not rush the re-entry to gatherings.”  The church is carefully abiding by all government mandates relative to social distancing during the pandemic, and Rev. Scott has been using it as a teaching tool.  “This is an opportunity to know better what it is to be a neighbor, not just in proximity, but in care,” he said.  “I’m trying to encourage all of us to assume that pretty much everyone is doing their best in these times.  Let’s give one another that space and grace.”