Four Tips to Help Understand What is Going On in Billerica
I’ve spoken with many people in the last few weeks who, because of the recent Town Election, have said they wish they knew what was going on in town. It’s easier to keep up with what’s happening in Billerica than most people realize.
Here are four things I do to stay connected to what’s happening:
Setup a Google Alert for Billerica
Go to http://www.google.com/alerts, type Billerica for your Search Query, select Everything so you get News, Blog posts, and other mentions across the web delivered to your inbox. You’ll find you get local news from the Lowell Sun, Billerica Minuteman, Billerica Townie News, etc., business news for Billerica, and the local bloggers.
Subscribe to the Billerica Minuteman
Even though you’ll get most of the news from the Google Alert, I recommend subscribing to the print edition of the Billerica Minuteman which you can do at http://buy.mypapertoday.com/index.html.
You can also view the digital edition at http://www.wickedlocal.com/billerica but not every article is posted to the web, hence my recommendation to subscribe to the print edition.
BATV, our local cable access channels, broadcast local government meetings like the Board of Selectmen, the Planning Board, Finance Committee, and Town Meeting as well as other community events. You can tune in to most meetings live and also watch recorded meetings on TV as well as on the web.
Comcast: Public Channel 8 – Educational Channel 99 – Government Channel 22
Verizon: Public Channel 31 – Educational Channel 24 – Government Channel 26
Check out http://batvinc.org/ for the program schedule and video on demand.
Become a Town Meeting Member
The Google Alert is informative and free. The Minuteman subscription will give you a well-rounded view of what’s happening in town and will only cost you a couple of bucks. And BATV will show you most of the key meetings you’d want to see. For all three, you don’t need to leave your house. All you need to do is read and watch.
But for my fourth recommendation, you’ll need to leave the house and come to Town Hall for a few nights in May and October to participate in Town Meeting. You must either be elected to Town Meeting in the April Town Election or be voted in by caucus, if there is a seat available in your precinct, in order to serve.
At this time, I think only three of our eleven precincts are full. And with Town Meeting starting this Tuesday, there are around 40 open seats across the various precincts. In precinct 4, the precinct I represent, we have 9 openings so come on down to Town Hall on May 1st at 7:15 pm, if you want to be caucused in… and if you don’t know what precinct you reside in, you can use this page on the Secretary of State’s website or call the Town Clerk’s office to find out at (978) 671-0924.
By participating in Town Meeting, you’ll have the Town Manager, the Superintendent of Schools, and all of the Town department heads brief you and the rest of Town Meeting on the key issues facing the Town. And even better, you’ll be able to vote on what action we, as a community, take on those issues.
So while the first three recommendations are passive, the fourth is active, but still manageable since Town Meeting only meets twice a year for a few nights in each session. And while we’re all busy, what price or amount of time can you put ahead of the future of your children? For me, the time I spend at Town Hall is an investment I’m making in the future of my three children.
So, please, come on out! I hope we see more new faces fill the open seats at Town Meeting, especially the families like mine that have a lot at stake with some big, make or break, decisions coming up in the next few years like the future of Billerica Memorial High School.
If you have questions about getting involved, please post a comment below or give me a call. I’m in the book.
And if you have other suggestions for how to keep current on events in town, please drop those in the comments, too!
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