WILMINGTON — On Monday night, the Board of Selectmen welcomed new Wilmington police officers Katy Goodwin and Michael DiLorenzo along with a new chairman of the board later on in the meeting. Chairman Greg Bendel recognized that Goodwin and DiLorenzo, who both grew up in town, just graduated from the police academy the week before.
At that point, Police Chief Joe Desmond celebrated the work that Goodwin and DiLorenzo have put in not only in achieving their bachelor degrees in criminal justice but also in finishing at the police academy after being interrupted by the COVID shutdown.
Each selectman took some time to congratulate the new officers. Kevin Caira talked about how nice is it to see residents grow up in town and come back to serve the town and its residents. Gary DePalma’s advice for both of these new officers was to never take their work home.
Several board members mentioned the excellent leadership of Chief Desmond and Deputy Chief Pupa.
Jomarie O’Mahony added, “Hopefully you’ll come to realize that you’re on one of the finest forces in Massachusetts.”
She ensured the new officers that they should go to their chief for anything that they need, but of course the board would also be there to support them however they can. Bendel echoed her statement that it’s a difficult time to choose this profession, but the board and the town are proud of its police and fire departments.
Officer Goodwin shared that she and DiLorenzo are excited to make a difference in town.
The meeting next moved onto a COVID-19 update from Board of Health Director Shelly Newhouse and Fire Chief Bill Cavanaugh. Newhouse noted the past few weeks have been a rollercoaster of cases increasing and decreasing, with the current number excluding nursing homes at five positives and two in quarantine. She attributes some of the increase to residents going away on trips and coming back positive.
Newhouse went on to explain that she’s working closely with business owners and with the school system to make plans for reopening.
“I haven’t encountered anyone who’s non-compliant because they want to be,” she said.
While she hopes to get to phase four in August, she doesn’t see that happening unless the state continues in a downward trend.
Chief Cavanaugh added that the calls and transports they’re getting are still COVID related but lower than usual. He also thanked George Hooper and the DPW for getting office spaces ready for social distancing so town employees could return to their offices.
The board took turns to congratulate Newhouse and Cavanaugh for their hard work and professionalism.
Jonathan Eaton said, “We appreciate the continued diligence that your departments have had.”
They also thanked other town employees working extra hard during this pandemic.
Bendel checked in about the new firetruck after that, which Cavanaugh said they’re expecting by the end of the month. He also shouted out a letter to the editor on the Wilmington Apple written by a Wilmington 6th grader reminding residents to properly dispose of their PPE.
A little later came the annual reorganization of the Board of Selectmen. In his final act as chair, Bendel nominated Eaton to be the new chairman of the board. O’Mahony said that she appreciated all the work that Bendel has put in during her first year on the board, and DePalma agreed that Bendel has been tremendously helpful in his transition onto the board.
Caira was the first to say that he didn’t think any more nominees would be made besides Eaton.
“You couldn’t have picked a better person for the job,” he said. “That doesn’t reflect on any of my colleagues.”
Eaton added that he’s seen Bendel step up to the challenge and be an exceptional leader in this difficult time. They voted unanimously to set up Eaton as the new chairman, who immediately took over the rest of the meeting.
Residents later shared their congratulations to Bendel for his time as chairman in the public comments section. Both comments came from Lou Cimaglia, although one was on behalf of Mike Champoux.
Cimaglia said, “You’ve been able to steer the ship in the right direction.”
He returned to pass along Champoux’s kudos to Eaton and appreciation for the role.
Other thanks were given at the end of the night in the announcement section to everyone in town who came out to Town Meeting and worked hard in preparation for it.
Bendel said, “There was great, healthy debate.”
Caira thanked the planning work of the Town Moderator, Town Manager, and the DPW.