Good afternoon Fitchburg,
Last weekend in a solemn tribute, our community gathered to observe our firefighters, recognizing those Fitchburg Firefighters who have passed on, and honoring those who lost their lives protecting our community. We paused and reflected on the many sacrifices firefighters and their families make to ensure that our community and environment is as safe as possible. Being a great firefighter takes initiative, passion and dedication. These brave men and woman deserve our respect and our gratitude. I want to thank all Fitchburg Firefighters, those retired and those that have passed on, who, by their faithful and loyal devotion to duty, have rendered invaluable service to our community.
The Reopening Task Force met again Thursday, and continued to discuss strategies to get more people outside to safely support our local business community. Mary Jo Bohart also reviewed the goals and initial discussions of the Phase 3 subcommittee, which will aim to make policy recommendations to my office to help prepare for this future phase of reopening. This Phase covers important sectors of our local economy, such as commercial recreation and tourism, and includes leaders such as Great Wolf and the Fitchburg Art Museum. These organizations help form the backbone of our local economy, and it is critical that we work with them to ensure a safe and effective reopening in the near future.
I am pleased to announce, beginning yesterday, the Fitchburg Public Library is offering curbside service! Patrons can place orders through email, phone, or by utilizing their online account. The library is asking to please limit your search to five items. If you do not have specific items in mind, please give the library a call, a librarian would be more than happy to select some titles for you. Please visit the library website for additional details and how to participate in curbside pickup.
As of 1pm today, there have been a total of 778 positive COVID-19 cases in Fitchburg, of which 638 are now recovered, and there have been 65 deaths attributed to COVID-19. It must be noted that this represents those individuals who have died and were positive for the virus, but official death record numbers may vary as COVID-19 may not be the official cause of death.
As a reminder to our residents, there has been 484% increase in phone calls to our Police Department from April 1 to June 10 related to fireworks. Over the past four months we, as citizens of Fitchburg, have asked a great deal from our public safety personnel to respond to a public health crisis. I am very proud of their response during this time, and we are all thankful for their efforts. However, to force our public safety personnel to respond to calls regarding fireworks, particularly during a pandemic, is downright irresponsible of their time, duties, and responsibilities. With every phone call, these officers are utilizing valuable resources for something that can easily be prevented. In addition, random and unplanned ignition of fireworks are not only a general nuisance, but jeopardizes the health of those that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and cause serious fires – particularly as we enter the dry hot summer weather. I am asking residents to please stop lighting fireworks. Nevertheless, residents who hear fireworks being set off, are encouraged to call the Police Department at 978-345-4355 or use the anonymous tip line on the Police Department’s website.
Kathleen Flynn, a Fitchburgian who has made a difference in thousands of children’s lives for the past 35 years as a Fitchburg Public School first grade teacher, was recently honored as a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women’s 2020 class of Commonwealth Heroines. Nominated by Representative Hay, Kathy was recognized not only for her 35 years of teaching, but for her dedicated work at the Fitchburg Historical Society, and incredible work she continues to do for the Fitchburg community. Her most recent project, is curating the art gallery/lobby for the rebirth of Fitchburg City Hall, expected to be completed January 2021.
The Commonwealth Heroines are woman who do not make the news, but make the difference. Thousands of women in every community of the state perform unheralded acts on a daily basis that make our homes, neighborhoods, and community a better place to live. I am very proud of the work Kathy has done for Fitchburg, and I am even prouder to call her a friend.
As we move forward into the weekend, I would traditionally be spending my time at Riverfront Park with Melanie Kuykendoll and the Hope Center Project’s Juneteenth celebration, which commemorates the announcement of the abolition of slavery in Texas and throughout the confederate south. On June 18, 1865, General Gordon Granger arrived to occupy Texas with 2,000 federal troops, the last remaining location of enslaved people in the United States. On June 19, 1865 in Galveston, Texas, General Granger read General Order No. 3, stating; “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.”
Although this pandemic does not allow us to formerly gather together, I would like to recognize Theo Demosthenes and his volunteers who have organized a virtual 2020 Fitchburg Juneteenth. This virtual celebration will also promote discussions about Black Lives with musical performances, panel discussions, and live art making. Residents can join on Saturday, June 20, 3pm-8pm, live stream, on the 2020 Fitchburg Juneteenth Facebook page.
Fitchburg is a city of one love, one family, one community.
Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale