Reading, MA — Town Manager Robert LeLacheur introduced new Interim Heath Director, Peter Mirandi, to the Board of Health at their meeting on October 15. Mirandi holds a Masters Public Health degree from Boston University and recently retired from the Health Department in Danvers. Mirandi will work with Assistant Town Manager Jean Delios to help organize the health division and advise the board regarding the Health Division’s future staffing. Members of the Board of Health welcomed Mirandi to Reading, and the board voted 3-0 to appoint him as a health agent for the community.
LeLacheur then advised the Board of Health on the upcoming budget process, especially when staffing the department. The Board of Health will be conducting a staffing study to determine what the health division will look like in the future. “It’s not a study to deal with the pandemic.” LeLacheur stated, “It is to look long-term.” Town Meeting will be asked in November to authorize $20,000 to pay for the study. LeLacheur also shared that Town Meeting will be asked for an additional $50,000 for health department salaries for the current fiscal year. Any permanent changes to department staffing are not likely to take place until Fiscal Year 2023.
LeLacheur reported that the town has spent “well over $1 million” on COVID expenses and that Reading was allocated $2.3 million by the CARES Act.
The board moved on to review plans for the Hawkes Field House for the November 3 election. The September election has been analyzed, and tweaks have been made, mostly where voters will enter and exit the building. “We have learned from the September experience and have made some adjustments.” Board of Health Vice-Chair Kerry Dunnell said. On November 3, voters will enter the field house through the main entrance and be sent one at a time to their precinct to vote. They will depart the field house on the other side of the building, half the precincts at one exit and half at the other exit. Town Clerk Laura Gemme reported that, based on the number of ballots mailed out and early voting, she expects that the number of people at the polls on November 3 will be manageable.
The board reviewed a graphic from the town website which shares Halloween advice with the community. Members will also be giving feedback on the draft of a planned press release. “We are not encouraging people [to participate in Halloween], but we are not saying ‘No.’” Dunnell assured the board.
The Board of Health voted 3-0 to appoint Dr. Richard Lopez as chair. It also voted 3-0 to support the instructional motion before the Bylaw Committee seeking to expand the board to five members. This would require a change to the town charter. Both associate members of the board also support the change.
The Board of Health adjourned at 9:10 pm.