It was 1983, a young, strapping, and still tall Superintendent Bob Jokela stood on the Finish line at Crocker Field participating in Fitchburg’s proud tradition of the Junior-Senior relays. Thirty Seven Years later, Superintendent Jokela and other school official’s joined our Juniors and Seniors yesterday for the 106th virtual relay tradition. I would like to thank the school department, city officials, volunteers, FATV, and particularly the Juniors and Seniors for making this a safe and successful event.
To the members and families of the class of 2020, as Principal Jeremy Roche noted in his announcement this week, the 154th Graduation Commencement of Fitchburg High School will take place on Saturday July 25, with a rain date of Sunday July 26. Mr. Roche, in coordination with school administration and public safety officials, will continue to work and develop a safe and exceptional FHS graduation commencement. Please understand this will require the continuation of monitoring, guidance, and development of detailed instructions to proceed with a live, in-person graduation commencement. I would like to thank you all for your patience and understanding while school officials develop these plans.
Back in December 2019, the Civic Days Committee started planning, budgeting, and coordinating the 2020 Civic Days Block Party, Parade, Duck Race, Cannon Firing, and Fireworks. Significant work has gone into planning an even bigger year, after all, Civic Days is one of the largest events in North Central Mass, and the Fitchburg community is very proud of it! On behalf of the Civic Days Committee, I would like to thank all of our sponsors for not just Civic Days 2020, but for all the years of continued support. It takes a community of believers to make Civic Days happen, and every year our sponsors have stepped up to the plate.
After much deliberation, and in the interest of public safety and health, the Civic Days Committee has decided to not move forward with the Civic Days Block Party, Parade, and Duck Race for 2020. This was a difficult choice, but as I am sure you can understand, a necessary decision.
However, the Civic Days Committee is a team of optimists. They will proudly continue our “reignited” Cannon Firing on the morning of July 4th at 5:30am on the top of Rollstone Hill. They have also rescheduled our fireworks show, and will proudly be fired off during Fitchburg High School’s first home football game of the season – September 25, 2020 at 9pm, with a rain date of October 2.
As of 1pm today, there have been a total of 712 positive COVID-19 cases in Fitchburg, of which 225 are now recovered. Furthermore, there are 52 deaths attributed to COVID-19. However, it must be noted that this number is the number of individuals who have died and were positive for the virus, but official death record numbers may vary as COVID-19 may not be the official cause of death. As a reminder to residents, the Commonwealth has established a COVID-19 Test Site Locater Map. This map provides an easy way to locate a COVID-19 test site near you. Please visit www.mass.gov to locate testing facilities closest to you.
As you are aware, Governor Baker released a four phase process to reopen Massachusetts. In order to establish the process and protocol for this to happen in the City of Fitchburg, I have created a Reopening Fitchburg Task Force. This task force will assist the business sector with technical support and provide guidance with sector specific reopening plans. Members include various city business owners, as well as city personnel. The task force will be chaired by the Community Development Executive Director, Tom Skwierawski and overseen by Public Health Director, Steve Curry.
Additionally, a subcommittee has been formed to establish processes and protocols for reopening all municipal buildings. The committee is tasked with the establishment of a standard control plan and return to work policy, as per the Governor’s directives, as well as those of our local Board of Health. Once these standards are created, the committee will work with department heads to gain input, as well as to address department specific requirements. As these plans are formulated, we will be able to determine and provide specifics, as well as a timeline for implementation. Please visit the City’s COVID-19 resource page for the list of people who will be serving on these committees.
Over the past several weeks, under the direction of our Human Resources Director, Susan Davis, The Fire Chief Search Committee was formed, met with eligible applicants, and provided their recommendations to me. I would like to thank committee members Susan Davis, Bill Tolos, Health Director Curry, Chief Martineau, Councilor Walsh, Leona Whetzel, and Pat Haverty for their professionalism, support, and counsel. All candidates were excellent representatives of our City and certainly our Fire Department. Yesterday, I submitted my appointment to Council of Thomas A. Dateo Jr., currently a Fitchburg Fire Deputy Chief, to serve as the City’s next Fire Chief. Mr. Dateo has forty years of extensive firefighting experience, and I have full faith that he will properly assume the role as Fire Chief. After forty five years of dedicated service, on behalf of the City of Fitchburg, I would like to thank Chief Kevin Roy for his leadership, his friendship, and his pride in our great city.
I wish you all a healthy and happy weekend,
Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale