Selectmen chart new beginning with goals, pledges
Board heeds calls for attention to fields, roadways
With the reelection of Phil Crawford and the reorganization of the Board of Selectmen to make Chris Barrett chair and Richard Dalton vice chair, the three leaders also took the opportunity to reaffirm their commitment to Lynnfielders. Led by Barrett at the selectmen’s meeting on April 11, the board outlined three main tasks for the road ahead: 1.) maintaining its “code of conduct,” 2.) setting out goals, and 3.) presenting an “action item list.” The latter will be available on the town website for the public to view.
The code of conduct was established by Crawford and former Selectman David Nelson in 2013. It “reaffirms our code and our expectations for one another and focuses on our team effort,” as said by Barrett. It also “helps to ensure a solid foundation of how we operate as a town.”
The selectmen then committed to the following items, dignified with a signature of the document and a vote:
–“Realize ‘number one’ that we work as a team and abide by the support and carry out the decisions we make. Remember that each member represents the entire community, resident and neighborhood.”
–“Every board member must be ‘unselfish in service’ and humble and not benefit personally or politically from any of our activities, and to do what is in the best interest of the town.”
–“Abide by the ethics guidelines established by Massachusetts and Lynnfield. Always maintain confidentiality of privileged information we maintain.”
–“Always keeping the Town Administrator ‘in the loop.’”
–Make sure than any information shared with the chair is shared right away with fellow selectmen.
–“Make no statements of promises or heartache.”
–“Weigh the pros and cons and give each issue the respect it deserves.”
–“Treat with respect the rights of board members’ differences of opinion.” Barrett added, “We’re not always going to agree, but we’ll do our best.”
–“Never publicly criticize an individual employee.”
Barrett then outlined his goals for the upcoming year. He added that as the town moves along, the list will expand. Before launching into the town’s goals, he provided a “mission statement”: “Provide the community with leadership to ensure quality of life through the promotion of professional, quality service, responsiveness to community issues, growth management,” he began. “Long term financial stability, atmosphere for a good and local economy, environmental stewardship, preserve the character of the community, promote programs and policies that preserve our friendly, welcoming, and small town community atmosphere. Review, modify, and establish sound and clearly defined policies that will direct and support the administration to effectively deliver public services. Provide effective leadership to facilitate public policy discussions and foster the sharing of factual information.”
The mission statement also included pledges to “adopt best practices” as defined by the Massachusetts Municipal Association, remain “responsive to the community,” “ensure selectmen’s meetings are available to the public,” “promote resident participation in town government and volunteering,” “preserve and maintain the beauty of our natural setting,” “review the town charter,” address the substance abuse crisis, bring in senior tax relief by exploring possible tax abatement, maintain school buildings, make sure the town manager remains “apolitical” and ensure that town department heads maintain a “culture of teamwork, mutual respect, and accountability, most importantly to the residents of Lynnfield.
The goals and objectives for Lynnfield in the coming year are as follows:
–To charge the department heads with “developing a plan to develop services and mission statements and goals including measurable objectives.”
–To maintain a “working list” of “issues and projects” headed by the town manager. The list will be, in the words of Crawford, a “living document” so that visitors will be able to see what the town manager is working on in real time. The document will be available on the town website.
–To have “enhanced communication between the board, Town Administrator, department heads, boards, committees, and public.”
–To “develop a quarterly update for department heads.”
–To “develop a town wide strategic information technology plan” that will include “inventory” and “assessment” features to better determine each department’s current and future technology needs.
–To develop a “social media policy that will drive the communication of this community, to create a vibrant webpage that our residents [will] look to for information.” Moments later at the meeting the town adopted a social media policy and will be implementing a new Facebook page in the coming days.
–To “take all necessary stems to increase the bond rating to AAA.” Again, moments later the board adopted measures to try to increase the town’s bond rating. Board members also pledged “to focus on transparency and accountability with our finances and independently review when necessary our town documents.”
–“To implement policies and procedures that will ensure strong financial condition,” which includes “standardized budgeting proposals by the department heads.”
–To develop a plan for Other Post-Employment Benefits funds (OPEB).
–To ensure quarterly updates from department heads.
–“Strengthening the forecast for our financial study.”
In terms of capital facilities, Barrett remarked that the town has a “great group” (Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, led by chair Ted Caswell): “We want to do everything we can to maintain the town’s public buildings in a manner that strengthens our capacity to produce quality service.”
The board also pledged its commitment to working on its “10-year strategic plan” in order to “better forecast our finances,” according to Barrett.
Goals also included the following:
–Possible relocation of DPW.
–Improve fields and parks.
–Sidewalks and streets – Barrett acknowledged the public’s zeal for this particular item, as shown through the results of the Master Plan public survey issued at the beginning of the year.
–Possible public safety complex.
–Clubhouse at King Rail, although one that fits within the town budget. Previous estimates listed the cost at around $3 million, which selectmen have previously dismissed as exorbitant.
–Work on a performance evaluation system.
–Work on the Master Plan.
–Lastly, “making sure town government is the best it can be.”
There also remained the “action item list.” Barrett explained the list as a working document that will be set in place to ensure that “nothing gets forgotten.” So far, the list includes the following:
–Announcing town administrator, department head goals (which will be accomplished in the coming weeks)
–Consolidating the working budget document
–10-year capital expenditure use
–Improvements to the MUNIS account
–Relocating the DPW
–Developing a new town webpage, social media
–Issuing a summary of streets impacted by flooding
–Taking action on Capital Facilities Advisory Committee agenda items
– And finally, developing a “Market Street Advisory Committee,” which Barrett described as a “working group” that includes community members as well as private citizens. At a selectmen’s meeting earlier this month residents complained that the proposed group would likely only have one private citizen. The announcement at this meeting to “get a good number of residents” to ensure “proper representation” is the latest change.
“It’s more than just a list,” said Dick Dalton, noting that the “action item list” will have a “target completion date,” name of the person assigned to the task, and remaining actions to be taken.
“It’s a good way of keeping track of things so they don’t get forgotten,” Crawford chimed in. “It goes hand in hand with our working objectives.”
By Melanie Higgins
Lynnfield native Bill Wilkinson honored at warship launch
On a cold, snowy April 1 this year, the new 509-foot-long Guided Missile Destroyer USS Thomas Hudner was christened at the General Dynamics Shipyard in Bath, Maine. Navy Captain Hudner, for whom the ship is named, had been awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in trying to rescue his friend, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in Korea in December 1950.
At Chosin some 300 Marines had held Hill 1542 for six days so that 9,000 battle-weary Marines could make their fighting withdrawal along the road below. Now the surviving Marines needed help. They were about to be overrun. The Navy answered their call when F4U Corsairs from the Carrier USS Leyte bombed the enemy. The Corsairs attacked day after day until the Marine columns reached their base in Hagaru.
It was during these missions that Captain Hudner crashed his plane in an unsuccessful attempt to save Ensign Brown. In his recent best seller, “Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice,” Adam Makos outlines the relationship between Hudner, a privileged Philips Academy Andover grad, and Jesse Brown, a sharecropper’s son.
Lynnfield’s Bill Wilkinson
In addition to the above incident, the best seller “Devotion” tells the story of the other 24 Navy pilots who served with Hudner and Brown on the Carrier USS Leyte, including Lynnfield native Bill Wilkinson. In a recent telephone interview, Bill shared a few memories of growing up in Lynnfield before following his dream of becoming a Navy flyer, and later a commercial pilot. “Wilkie,” as he was known in the service, grew up at 259 Main St., where his father owned a contracting business. Bill mentioned a few local “old timers,” including Raymond Pope, who worked with his father, and the latter’s daughter, Edith, with whom Bill went to Wakefield High. The Pope family owned the farm that was later taken to build the Summer Street School.
Wilkie then enrolled at the Severn Prep School near Annapolis, an institution originally founded to prepare students for the Naval Academy. He was totally focused on a flying career. After a two-year matriculation at Yale, he spent two years in flight training in the V-5 Naval Cadet Program at Pensacola. The program was designed to replace World War II aviators. Candidates had to agree not to marry until they earned their wings. Wilkie, 22, and his bride, Mary, 20, from Virginia, married in July 1950 shortly following his graduation.
After his military service in Korea and a stint in the Naval Reserves, Wilkie became the youngest pilot at American Airlines at the age of 24. Meanwhile, in 1961 he and Mary bought a new house at 13 Daventry Court in the Grant, where they raised their three children. In 1977 the Wilkinsons moved to Punta Gorda, Florida, while maintaining a summer residence in Northeast Harbor, Maine. Bill retired after 35 years with American Airlines.
Launching the USS Thomas Hudner
Bill Wilkinson is one of only three flyers left in the original squadron that flew with Captain Hudner during the Korean War. The honoree, Thomas Hudner, is in frail health and did not speak at the ceremony. During the festivities Bill participated in a moving Navy tradition by placing his dog tags, along with the small mementoes of others, in a box to be “welded in place forever in the ship’s mast.”
Since it is rare for a battleship to be named for one still living, Captain Hudner and fellow aviator Wilkie were duly feted with Navy hospitality during the launch weekend. Bill’s wife, his daughter and granddaughter were also present to see Captain Hudner’s wife, Georgea, christen the ship, adding, “May God bless this ship and all who sail on her.” To the strains of “Anchors Aweigh,” confetti “streamed through a biting wind,” according to a Boston Globe account, as the celebration ended.
By Helen Breen