Weekly Town Manager Newsletter
Dear Ashland Residents & Friends,

If we thought we were going to make it out of winter without significant snowfall we were sadly mistaken. Although pretty when it first falls, it becomes quite the mess rather quickly. We are so fortunate to have the DPW workers that we have, led by Doug Small, to make sure our streets are some of the best in Metrowest after a storm. This is also a good time to thank everyone for clearing out snow from around their hydrants to help firefighters should the need arise.

The recent snow led me to do a little snowshoeing in the Town Forest. I can't thank enough the volunteers on the Town Forest Committee for maintaining so many miles of trails within its 500+ acres. A goal of mine is to learn how to ski backcountry, so a friend and I are committed to starting this journey in the Town Forest.

Moving to more administrative matters, the FY22 budget season is in full swing. Tomorrow (Tuesday) night, we have our FinCom hearing which will be televised on WACA TV. We are still seeing financial effects from COVID and our limited growth strategy from previous years. This has in turn reduced our revenue growth which will put some more pressure on the budget. We have developed an excellent collaborative relationship between the boards and committees over the last several years and I am looking forward to taking on this challenge together. The process of developing a financial strategy is just as much an art as it is a science.

Speaking of art, I am really pleased that Ashland was featured in the International City Managers Association's recent publication "Problem Solving Through Arts and Cultural Strategies". Dan Borelli's Nyanza project and his collaboration with town officials are highlighted as a case study in this document. You can read more about it here.

Michael Herbert
Town Manager
Latest COVID-19 Updates
COVID- 19 Vaccinations Available for Eligible Residents

I am pleased to announce that Ashland and the Covid-19 Task Force has worked with the Towns of Hopkinton, Westborough, Southborough, Northborough to create a regional vaccination clinic for our residents. Over the weekend, we issued a Reverse 911 to inform our residents that we were made aware that the partnership was receiving a small amount of vaccine to administer to residents that meet the current eligibility requirements. Over the last several days we have worked to schedule this first clinic.

At this time there are no more available appointments for this clinic, which we hope will be the first of several. We are continuing to ask people, who would fall into a Phase II category, to go to our website to fill out a notification form if you are interested in being notified when and if vaccine appointments are available from this regional partnership. Please CLICK HERE to fill out this notification form. If you are notified that an appointment is available you will be directed to the state website to sign up for a timeslot.

It is important to note that while Ashland and the regional partnership is optimistic about securing additional vaccine, we are completely reliant on the Commonwealth's distribution plan. Therefore, even if you fill out this notification form, we strongly urge everyone to continue to seek other vaccine locations. You can check other availability by going to the mass.gov website.
In line with the state guidelines, vaccine will be made available to people 75 years old and older or people that are still part of phase one. 

If you have any questions regarding the vaccine rollout please call the Covid-19 hotline at 508-532-7900 or contact Ed Burman at 508-532-7988.
State of MA COVID-19
Vaccine Information

Right now, the State of MA offers vaccines for all eligible priority groups in the initial first phase.

Phase 2, begins next week, on February 1st with individuals 75 and older, followed by the individuals 65+ and individuals with 2+ comorbidities, eligible professionals, and individuals with 1 comorbidity. If you meet the criteria for Phase 2, you are able to book your appointments now.

Eligible for the vaccine- Find a location, book your appointment, and fill out your attestation form HERE. Appointments are based on the number of vaccines at the given location. At the state vaccination sites, appointment slots will be posted on Thursdays for the following week. For the smaller locations, check the websites frequently for appointment availability.
Local Cases in Ashland
The following information as of January 28, 2021
Local Confirmed Cases in Ashland = 1012

Ashland has 1012 positive confirmed cases for COVID-19 with 908 cleared cases, 160 probable cases, and 143 The Ashland Board of Health team and volunteer nurses are diligently working to keep our community safe at this time.

Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image
COVID- 19 Update

Did you know, The COVID-19 incubation timeline is up to 14 days?

For example, on Day 0, Joe is exposed to the virus. On Day 4, Joe learns he was exposed to COVID-19 and self-isolates. On Day 5, he gets tested for COVID19 and the results come back negative. On day 8, Joe goes back to work and attends a small gathering, because the result was negative. Meanwhile, Joe does have COVID-19 and is contagious without having symptoms, exposing others. On day 10, Joe develops symptoms and tests positive for COVID-19.

Read this article from Sgt. Burman for more information regarding COVID-19
Local Information
2021 Annual Town Election
Nomination Papers Available Now

If you are interested in any of the seats available, please contact the Town Clerk's Office to set up an appointment to collect the appropriate paperwork.

Keep in mind, If you are elected at the Annual Town Election you MUST be sworn-in with the Town Clerk prior to participating in any board meetings to which you have been elected to serve. This oath must be given in person.

Seats Available in 2021
Select Board: 3 years (vote for 2) expires 2024
Board of Assessors: 3 years  (vote for 1)    expires 2024
School Committee: 3 years  (vote for 2)    expires 2024
Board of Library Trustee: 3 years  (vote for 2)    expires 2024
Board of Health: 3 years  (vote for 2)    expires 2024
Board of Health: 2 years (to fill an unexpired term) expires 2023
Housing Authority: 5 years (vote for 1)   expires 2026
Housing Authority: 1 year (to fill an unexpired term) expires 2022
Planning Board: 5 years  (vote for 1)   expires 2026

All nomination papers must be filed with the Town Clerk on or before Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 5 pm.

Ashland Community Choice Power Supply Program

Ashland has recently selected NextEra Energy Services as the Ashland Community Choice Aggregation Power Supply program electrical supply provider. Municipal aggregation enables Ashland to combine the purchasing power of its residents and businesses so that the Town can procure a competitive supply of electricity for program participants. All residents on Eversource Basic Service are enrolled in this program unless they have opted out.

The Town of Ashland signed a new thirty-six-month contract with a rate that is 6% lower than the previous contract. This new rate is $0.10409 per kWh. Just as importantly, this is now sourced from 100 percent green energy which is derived from National Wind renewable energy certificates. For comparison, the Eversource Basic Service fixed rate is currently at $0.11795 per kW, so our aggregation program will provide measurable savings.

Aggregation Plan Public Review

Ashland also proposes to amend its Community Choice Aggregation Plan to add one or more optional electrical supply plans that ratepayers can choose that have more Renewable Energy Certificates (“RECs”) than are required to meet the minimum Massachusetts Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”). Ashland also proposes a number of amendments to its municipal aggregation plan to bring it into compliance with current Department directives. For more information, please click here to view Ashland’s Notice of Filing and Public Hearing.
Introducing Ashland Biz Buzz!

The Ashland Economic Development Team launched a new page, Ashland Biz Buzz, on Facebook and Instagram. The new page aims to support local businesses by marketing products, and services available in our own backyard.

Follow this new page for promotions, deals, and special events to support our local business community.

We look forward to sharing the buzz all around Ashland!
Official Special Town Election Results
January 27, 2021

Question 1- Public Safety Building
Yes- 1558 No- 205 

Question 2- Mindess School Building
Yes- 1543 No- 219

Upcoming Meetings & Events
Visit the Town of Ashland Website Calendar for committee meetings and agendas

Visit the Town of Ashland Event Calendar for upcoming events
The Great Backyard Bird Count
February 12th - 15th

The Ashland Public Library invites you to participate in the National Audubon Society's Great Backyard Bird Count. Each year people from around the world come together to watch, learn about, count, and celebrate birds. The library will offer a Take & Make Bird Feeder kit the week before the event.

Virtual Program with Ashland Public Library & the Ecotarium
Thursday, February 18 from 1:00-1:45 via Zoom

February is Engineering Month. Students in grades K – 4 can join the Ecotarium and the Ashland Public Library for a school vacation week virtual “Build Your World Challenge." Think you need concrete and steel to build bridges? Think again! Using the engineering design process, kids will explore the forces of motion and plan, test, and build a way across a “river” using wooden blocks. The Ecotarium will supply sets of 30 wooden blocks, which will be available for Curbside Pick-up before the program. (The blocks will need to be returned to the Library after the program.)  

Call the Children’s Room to register and reserve your set of blocks, 508-881-0134 x 7503
The Zoom link will be emailed to participants before the session.
Shout Outs!

A big shout out to our Department of Public Works Team. Thank you for all your hard work digging out our neighbors during this week's storm. Thank you to the police and fire department as well for all of their help. We have a great team!
Thank You!

Thank you to everyone for clearing out the Fire Hydrants and helping the Ashland Fire Department!

AFD notes: "Shoveling of hydrants could save crucial time in responding to an emergency. There are about 1,100 fire hydrants in Ashland, and while we will have a crew of firefighters removing the snow, they cannot clean all of them in a timely manner. Protect your family and neighbors when seconds count by shoveling out a hydrant near you!"
Photo by resident Jonathan Beck

I want to congratulate Firefighters Mulone, Mogren, and Phelan on completing their 1-year probationary period with the AFD. Chief Robie presented their helmet shields this week!
Local Business Information
Shop Local Ashland!

Don't forget to support our Ashland businesses! This pandemic is making it so difficult for our favorite places to stay open and provide with goods and food we love to have in our own backyard. If you are a regular diner or if you want to treat yourself to dinner out this week, please choose Ashland! Our restaurants and business owners need your help- pick up your favorite meal or family-style dinners to go, purchase gift cards, and leave positive reviews on social media. During these difficult times, think ASHLAND! Support all of the business owners who have supported our community groups throughout the years.

Click below for a quick list of shopping and dining options!

Updates from Economic Development
The Economic Development Department put together resources to help business owners establish a location in Ashland, maintain their business, and help reopen their establishment in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

To see a full list of possible grants and loans available to you visit the Economic Development Page of the town website:

Stay informed with the Town of Ashland