WOBURN - After tapping longtime mayoral assistant Marie Lingblom earlier this summer to succeed the veteran department head, the City Council recently paid homage one last time to retired Council on Aging Director Joanne Collins.

During their latest virtual gathering in City Hall, the City Council voted unanimously to adopt a special resolve honoring Collins for her two-decades of service to the community. The late filing, sponsored by all nine aldermen, comes after the COVID-19 crisis stole from Collins and Senior Center regulars the chances to say their proper goodbyes.

The aldermen had hoped to invite Collins to their regular meeting scheduled for this week, but based on the preliminary agenda for Tuesday's gathering, the two sides were unable to solidify the impromptu farewell ceremony.

The recently adopted resolve describes the retired Senior Center leader as one of diligent department heads who was able to bolster programming and services for the community's aging population throughout her 20-year tenure.

Amongst other accomplishments, the council recognized Collins for expanding transportation services, working to forge Woburn's senior tax work-off program, and introducing a variety of new holiday parties and other social venues for frequent visitors to the Senior Center.

"Whereas, Joanne Collins dedicated over two decades of service to the city of Woburn and in particular to the senior residents of the city and diligently worked to provide a welcoming setting for the seniors of Woburn to meet with friends, make new friends, learn new skills, to be entertained and to be informed; and...

Whereas, Joanne Collins engaged in many civic activities of the city and made connections to promote the Senior Center and its many services, Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved that upon her retirement as the Director of the Woburn Council on Aging, the Woburn City Council hereby recognizes Joanne Collins for her outstanding service and commitment to the seniors of Woburn and to the city of Woburn, and extends the sincerest thanks of the community, appreciation for her many years of dedication and best wishes in her retirement," the resolve reads.

In June, Lingblom was selected to replace Collins after beating out an unspecified number of job candidates seeking to fill the director's vacancy. The Woburn native was one of three finalists vying for the appointment.

$3.5M in COVID-19 funding

The City Council also recently endorsed Mayor Scott Galvin's request to accept some $3.5 million in COVID-19 relief available to the community thanks to the federal CARES act.

During the recent meeting, Galvin explained that under a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by US Congress in March, the city is able to utilize the federal funding to help offset the costs associated with acquiring protective equipment and taking other steps to mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the mayor, though many local and state officials had lobbied federal officials for the ability to use the emergency relief to offset lost tax and fee revenues, that request was ultimately denied. However, as city leaders eye the resumption of operations at City Hall and at local schools next fall, the CARES Act money will indirectly help Woburn's annual budget by covering COVID-19 costs that would otherwise be paid for through the tax levy.

"It's $3.5 million that can help the City of Woburn deal with unintended expenses associated with the pandemic. It's not to replace lost revenue, which is what many mayors and town managers had hoped for, but it certainly will serve our purposes as we talk about the expenses we expect at the school level [when reopening in the fall]."

"You'll also be seeing expenses related to opening back up the library, police and fire [needs], and reopening other public buildings," he continued.

Per state and federal spending restrictions, the CARES Act funding cannot be used for any expense that was not budgeted as of March 27, when the federal legislation was enacted. The money must also be solely used for COVID-19 response liabilities incurred between March 1 and December 30, 2020.

Unanimously agreeing to those conditions, the council attached just one caveat of its own to acceptance of the federal funding by seeking monthly expense reports from City Hall regarding how the relief money is spent.

Chinian to registrars board

The City Council's Personnel Committee recently recommended the aldermen sanction Mayor Scott Galvin's recent appointment of East Woburn resident Sarkas Chinian to the city's Board of Registrars.

Following a meeting last week in City Hall's council chamber, members of the Personnel Committee voted in favor of the Asbury Avenue resident's appointment to a three-year term on board. At the outset of this month, Galvin selected Chinian as his choice to fill the seat being vacated by Rich Road resident Alfred Magro.

The full City Council is expected to act on the Personnel Committee's report during a meeting on Tuesday.

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