Recreational Marijuana Ban to Go Before Planning Board Tuesday Night

Foliage Nature Lush Plants Cannabis MarijuanaA proposed town bylaw that would ban the sale or distribution of recreational marijuana in Hamilton will go before the Planning Board for the first time on Tuesday night.

If later approved by Town Meeting voters, it would mean that a marijuana cultivator, marijuana testing facility, marijuana product manufacturer, marijuana retailer or any other type of marijuana-related business would not be allowed in Hamilton.

The proposed bylaw would not apply to medical marijuana facilities. It has been reviewed by Town Counsel Donna Brewer.

If the proposal moves forward, the Planning Board will hold a public hearing and then later vote on whether to support the bylaw change or not. It would then go to Town Meeting, where it would take a two-third vote to approve.

“We would be effectively zoning it out of the community to the extent that zoning can control such things,” said Planning Director Patrick Reffett.

Police Chief Russell Stevens is scheduled to appear before the Planning Board to discuss the proposed bylaw. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Memorial Room at Town Hall on Tuesday, July 25.


Call Police If You Suspect a Fox is Rabid

rabid foxHamilton residents should be aware of the possibility that foxes in the area may be infected with rabies.

The head’s up comes after recent incidents in two nearby communities – Beverly and Ipswich – where people were bitten by a fox that later tested positive for rabies.

Anyone who encounters a fox in Hamilton that is possibly infected with rabies should contact the emergency dispatch center (978-468-1212) so proper personnel can be dispatched, said Hamilton Police Chief Russell Stevens.

Responders could include Hamilton police, an Environmental Police officer or the animal control officer, he said.

Rabies is a very serious disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of mammals and is caused by a virus. It almost always leads to death, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH).  Rabies in animals is fairly common in Massachusetts and since 1985, more than 5,000 animals, including foxes, have tested positive for rabies in Massachusetts, according to the DPH.

MassWildlife offers several tips to avoid interactions or conflicts with foxes:

Secure garbage – Foxes will raid open trash materials and compost piles. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight fitting lids and keep in secure buildings when possible. Take out trash the morning pick up is scheduled, not the previous night. Keep compost piles in containers designed to contain but vent the material.

Don’t feed or try to pet foxes – Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause foxes to act tame and over time may lead to bold behavior. Foxes that rely on natural food items remain wild and wary of humans.

Keep pets safe – Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, foxes can view cats as potential food. For the safety of pets, keep them restrained at all times.

Keep bird feeder areas clean – Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground because seed attracts many small mammals foxes prey upon. Remove feeders if foxes are regularly seen around your yard. Feed pets indoors. Outdoor feeding attracts many wild animals.

Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds – Foxes use such areas for resting and raising young.

Don’t let foxes intimidate you – Don’t hesitate to scare or threaten foxes with loud noises, bright lights or water.

Educate your neighbors – Pass this information along since your efforts will be futile if neighbors are providing food or shelter for foxes.

Hamilton Police Chief Featured in Television PSA Promoting Saturday’s Drug Take Back Day

prescription drug take back day police chiefsHamilton Police Chief Russell Stevens is featured in a public service announcement publicizing Saturday’s Drug Take Back Day.

Hamilton police are working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to host the spring Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 29.

The take back day will run 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hamilton Public Safety Building at 265 Bay Road. In addition to Saturday’s take back day, there is always a medicine dropbox in the police station lobby.

The public service announcement featuring Stevens (who is the third officer from the left) has been running on WCVB-TV channel 5 this week to get out the word about this Saturday’s drug take back day.

Hamilton police are asking residents to clean out their home of unwanted medication and dispose of the drugs on the take back day.

Prescription drug abuse is a huge problem and this is an opportunity to help reduce the threat. Hamilton Police along with other public safety agencies want everyone to clean out their medicine cabinets and make their home safe from drug theft and abuse.


Sign Up for Emergency Alerts Via Phone, Text, Email and App

code redA new, more robust community notification system is being rolled out to Hamilton residents and businesses this week.

Police Chief Russell Stevens told the Board of Selectmen this week that the town has licensed the CodeRED Community Notification System to help disseminate important or critical information to residents and businesses in town.

The system uses phone calls, emails, text messages and social media to get out information about everything ranging from evacuations, flood and fires to planned road closures or water main repairs. When signing up, residents have the option or getting only emergency alerts or also getting more general alerts and announcements. Residents can add as many phone numbers, text numbers and emails addresses as they want.

“We encourage all residents and businesses to go to the town website, click on the CodeRED logo to enter your contact information – including additional phone numbers, text numbers and email addresses – to ensure all of the data in our system is accurate and current,” Stevens said.

The CodeRED login page can also be reached directly and there is also a mobile app for Apple and Android smartphones – go to the App Store or Google Play and search for CodeRED.

There is no cost to residents to use the service and all of the information will be kept private.

For anyone that uses call blocking, they will want to add two numbers to the allowed number list – 866-419-500 for emergency calls and 855-969-4636 for general alerts.

CodeRED is used by many other local communities and replaces a notification system from BlackBoard Connect that the town had been using. The official changeover will happen before June 30.

If you do not have Internet access, contact a friend or family member to help add your contact information to the CodeRED database, Stevens said. If needed, residents can also call the Hamilton Emergency Communications Center at 978-468-1212 for assistance.

Hamilton Town Hall Closed Monday

Hamilton Town HallHamilton Town Hall and other non-emergency Hamilton municipal buildings will be closed on Monday, Feb. 13.

The decision to close is because of the weather and road conditions, said Police Chief and Acting Town Manager Russell Stevens.

Hamilton-Wenham Regional District schools are also closed on Monday, according to Superintendent Dr. Michael Harvey.

Hamilton Town Hall Closed Thursday, Trash Pickup to Happen

Hamilton Town HallHamilton Town Hall will be closed on Thursday because the forecast calls for a significant  snowstorm.

All non-emergency employees have been instructed to stay home and the state Department of Transportation has also asking motorists to stay at home, said Acting Town Manager and Police Chief Russell Stevens.

Trash pickup will happen as scheduled, according to the town’s trash contractor, Casella Waste Systems. Pickup will only be halted or delayed if the storm prevents pickup, according to DPW Director Tim Olson. If pickup ends up being delayed, further updates will be issued.

A parking ban will also be in effect from 6 a.m. Thursday through 6 a.m. Friday.

Police Chief at the Helm During Town Manager’s Leave

Hamilton Police Chief Russell M. Stevens

Police Chief Russell Stevens will serve as Interim Town Manager while Town Manager Michael Lombardo is out on leave.

Lombardo is out on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, said Scott Maddern, chairman of the Hamilton Board of Selectmen.

Lombardo could be out up to 6-8 weeks, but he could be back before then. When he returns, Maddern said he expects Lombardo “won’t miss a beat when he returns.” There will be no interruption in town services during Lombardo’s leave, Stevens said.

Previously, Stevens has served as interim town manager during Lombardo’s vacations. In the coming weeks, both the Board of Selectmen and the Finance and Advisory Committee will be preparing for the Annual Town Meeting on April 1. Both boards have full confidence in Stevens and have been impressed as he’s helped develop the fiscal year 2018 budget, Maddern said.

The Police Department is in the capable hands of Lt. Scott Janes, according to Maddern and Stevens. The department has been well trained and prepared under Stevens’ “steady hand,” including state accreditation and reaccreditation, Maddern said.