CITY OF BOSTON RECEIVES EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ACCREDITATION PROGRAM (EMAP) REACCREDITATION

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the City of Boston and Office of Emergency Management (OEM) have received reaccreditation through the Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP). EMAP is a comprehensive program that evaluates the City of Boston's Emergency Management program across 64 standards that address all aspects of Emergency Management.

"Receiving EMAP reaccreditation demonstrates the City of Boston's continued emphasis on preparedness and our ability to respond to and recover from emergency situations," said Mayor Walsh. "This achievement highlights our commitment to providing the best services to our residents and neighborhoods."

To achieve accreditation, applicants must demonstrate through self-assessment, documentation and peer assessment verification that its program meets the Emergency Management Standard. The accreditation validates the emergency management program's disaster response and recovery capabilities. Accreditation is valid for five years.

"Conducting such an in-depth evaluation of the City's Emergency Management program was a rigorous, but rewarding process," said OEM Director Rene Fielding. "This reaccreditation affirms that Boston's Emergency Management program meets national standards for disaster preparedness response and recovery."

EMAP is the only accreditation process for emergency management programs in the country. OEM was initially accredited in 2012.

OEM's mission is to enhance the City's capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from emergencies. OEM coordinates the emergency management programs for the City of Boston. During planned and unplanned events, OEM manages the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to facilitate information sharing, resource requests and inter-agency coordination between city departments. 

For more info on the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management: www.boston.gov/emergency ;or EMAP: www.emap.org


MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES BOSTON AWARDED $2.6 MILLION TO EXPAND SERVICES FOR PREGNANT AND POSTPARTUM WOMEN WITH SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS

Funds will integrate medical care into BPHC's residential substance use treatment program  Entre Familia

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) today announced the City of Boston has received a $2.6 million federal award from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to expand treatment, prevention and recovery support services for women and their children in substance use treatment facilities. The grant will serve 180 Latina women and their children in Entre Familia, a City residential substance use treatment program that offers culturally sensitive, gender-specific care and services.

This grant will support Entre Familia over a five-year period. The funds will integrate on-site primary and mental health care into the program by partnering with Boston Medical Center's Project RESPECT (Recovery, Empowerment, Social Services, Prenatal care, Education, Community and Treatment), a high risk obstetrical and addiction recovery medical home for pregnant women and their newborns.

This project will build upon the program's mission of providing cost-effective, comprehensive and sustainable clinical treatment and support services that address the needs of Latina women and their children, a population historically underserved in substance use treatment.

"This award will make a lasting, crucial difference in the lives of women and their children that are served by BPHC and Entre Familia," said Mayor Walsh. "Since 2014, we have helped over 11,000 people receive help with substance use disorders. I'm proud this funding will give young families the wraparound services they need and the support that will set them on a path to recovery."

"It is imperative that we work together to face this epidemic, and we look forward to working with the Boston Public Health Commission to expand access to the necessary treatment for Latina women with substance use disorders and their children," said Kelley Saia, MD, director of BMC's Project RESPECT.

As the first hospital in the region to have started a program specific to these patients more than three decades ago, BMC is a leader in caring for women with substance use disorders both during pregnancy and after they deliver their baby.

This award continues the Walsh Administration's goals to ensure all residents have access to the substance use treatments and supports they need. In 2014, more than 11,000 people received services for substance use disorders in Boston, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In 2015, Mayor Walsh created the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services, which works closely with the Boston Public Health Commission, other City of Boston departments, state and federal agencies, local service providers, and community networks to build and support recovery services throughout the City.

Since then, Boston has more than doubled staff and expanded hours at the City's access to care program, created the City's first 24/7 recovery support hotline through 311, and added a street outreach team in heavily impacted areas. Most recently, Mayor Walsh doubled the capacity of the Mobile Sharps Team to pick up improperly discarded hypodermic needles, and began to pilot an engagement center for individuals in need of a space to spend time during the day and get connected to the many housing and recovery services offered by the City and partners.

The Services Grant Program for Residential Treatment for Pregnant and Postpartum Women awarded to Boston is part of a $49 million nationwide award from SAMHSA. BPHC is one of 19 organizations across the country and the only health department selected to participate in the program, which is designed to expand services for women and their children in residential substance use treatment facilities.

"Opioid use disorders continue to plague our nation," said Dr. Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. "These funds will support and expand prevention, treatment and recovery services in America's communities."

Entre Familia is a six to 12-month residential substance use treatment program that guides Latina mothers into recovery by offering core clinical treatment services, including screening, counseling, and referrals to relevant care. Since the inception of the program in 1996, Entre Familia has helped 800 Latina women and their families on their paths to recovery.

Earlier this month, Boston was also  awarded a $2.4 million SAMHSA grant to support Boston's continued work in ending chronic and veteran homelessness. The grant will serve 270 chronically homeless individuals by further increasing the City's capacity to house and provide treatment for homeless individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.

About the Boston Public Health Commission

The Boston Public Health Commission, the country's oldest health department, is an independent public agency providing a wide range of health services and programs. It is governed by a seven-member board of health appointed by the Mayor of Boston. Public service and access to quality health care are the cornerstones of BPHC's mission -- to protect, preserve, and promote the health and well-being of all Boston residents, particularly those who are most vulnerable. The Commission's more than 40 programs are grouped into six bureaus: Child, Adolescent & Family Health; Community Health Initiatives; Homeless Services; Infectious Disease; Recovery Services; and Emergency Medical Services.


Registry of Motor Vehicles Services Now Offered to AAA Members At Lawrence Location

Lawrence AAA office on Winthrop Avenue now has select RMV services

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), in partnership with AAA Northeast (AAA), announced today that the Lawrence AAA branch, located at 160 Winthrop Avenue, now offers select RMV license and registration services for AAA members.

With the addition of Lawrence, Registry of Motor Vehicles’ service transactions are now available at twenty-nine AAA locations across the Commonwealth.  AAA Northeast already offers RMV services at branches in Acton, Auburn, Burlington, Fairhaven, Framingham, Franklin, Haverhill, Lowell, Marlborough, Newburyport, Newton, North Reading, Pittsfield, Peabody, Quincy, Raynham, Rockland, Saugus, Somerset, South Attleboro, South Dennis, Tewksbury, Waltham, Westwood, and Worcester.  AAA Pioneer Valley offers services in Hadley, Springfield, and West Springfield.

Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney and Lloyd Albert, Senior Vice President, Public/Government Affairs of AAA Northeast, were joined by state and local officials today to share remarks about the new Registry services available at the Lawrence AAA location.

“With fall here and December fast approaching, we expect our year-end rush of registration renewals.  Customers may renew online or by visiting a local AAA branch if they are AAA members.  Registrations can be renewed up to six months in advance, and customers do not need to wait for a renewal application to renew online,” said Registrar Erin Deveney. “In addition, checklists for our most common transactions, including Renewing a Registration, are available online to help customers be prepared with all required documents.”

AAA Northeast Senior Vice President Lloyd Albert added, “The launch of the new Lawrence AAA/RMV location marks yet another milestone in enhanced choice and convenience for AAA members and consumers across the Commonwealth.  AAA Northeast sincerely values its partnership with the RMV, and looks forward to expanding services to additional AAA offices in Massachusetts during the next few months.”

At designated AAA Registry services locations, AAA members can perform select transactions including: driver’s license and ID renewals, duplicate licenses or IDs, registration renewals, duplicate registrations, duplicate titles, and registration transfers.  AAA offers its members weekday and Saturday RMV transaction options.  For more information, visit www.AAA.com/registry.

The RMV is making strides to build an industry-leading, customer-centered environment for individual and commercial customers, as well as for business and government partners.  The RMV recently has opened new service centers in Lawrence, Leominster, New Bedford, and Springfield; and completely remodeled the RMV Service Center in Brockton.  These new sites will ensure adequate ADA access, parking, and customer intake capability, with an overall improved design to support customer needs.

With a strong commitment to a personalized customer service experience, the RMV enables customer mobility and supports consumer safety.  Customers are encouraged to visit
www.MassRMV.com to process over 25 transactions, access checklists and “Get Ready to Go,” and sign-up to receive RMV News.  For the latest Registry updates and information, follow the RMV on Twitter @MassRMV.


Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan Park Dedicated

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan’s family, the Springfield Park Commission, and Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, held a dedication ceremony this morning for the new $695,000 park made possible by city funding, private donations, and a Parkland Acquisition and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Mayor Sarno petitioned the Park Commission to name the park in honor of GySgt Thomas Sullivan after his tragic death on June 16, 2015. The Commission voted in December of 2015 to name the park in GySgt Sullivan’s honor. The city, in conjunction with the East Forest Park Civic Association and area residents, developed a master plan for this park.  Improvements included grading the sloped terrain, planting trees, creating an accessible path to the water’s edge for kayaking, a new pavilion, ADA walking paths, benches, a flagpole and a kiosk.  During the past year, the project developed great support and includes over $45,000 in donations from the business community for the construction of a 25x25 foot pavilion overlooking Lake Massasoit.

Mayor Sarno stated, “I am thrilled that our city is honoring the legacy of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan with this park.  GySgt Sullivan grew up in East Forest Park, and was a Springfield guy at heart even while being stationed around the globe. He served our country for eighteen years with valor and loved being a Marine.  During his service, he saved countless lives, improved conditions of the innocent overseas, and, while protecting our country, he never forgot his Springfield heritage.”

Park Chairman Brian Santaniello said, “The Park Commission would like to thank the Sullivan family for playing a vital role in the planning process for this park.  We thank the East Forest Park residents for working with the Parks Department on design and construction aspects of this park.  The success of any project depends on neighborhood support and input.  Today, we are honoring the legacy of a true American hero and this park will serve to remind us all of the sacrifices that are made every day for our freedom.”

Executive Director Patrick Sullivan stated, “On behalf of the staff of the Parks Department, it has been an honor to work with the Sullivan family and the residents of East Forest Park in the creation of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan Park.  This park will serve to remind all of us of the importance of serving our country and fellow man. GySgt Sullivan’s love for his country, his fellow Marines, and his family is engraved into the landscape of this park. I am so grateful to his parents, Jerry and Betty, his sister Dianne and his brother Joe for allowing us to share Tommy’s legacy with Springfield residents and all who choose to visit this park.”

Additional information:

It is with great respect that this park is dedicated in honor of

Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan, USMC

Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan gave his life while defending his country on Thursday, July 16, 2015, during an attack on the Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  His heroic, unselfish actions that day saved countless lives of Marines, Naval Servicemen, and civilians passing outside the reserve.  His bravery and love for his fellow Marines and mankind was exhibited on that fateful day. Tommy was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 22, 1975 to Jeremiah “Jerry” and Mary “Betty” (Vecchiarelli) Sullivan.  He grew up in the East Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield, attended Holy Cross School, and graduated from Cathedral High School.  Tommy received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and his Master’s Degree posthumously from American Military University.  GySgt Sullivan proudly served in the United States Marine Corps for 18 years.  He was last assigned to Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Corps Reserve. GySgt Sullivan was a recipient of the following awards, which are listed in order of precedence:

·  Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism on July 16, 2015
·  Purple Heart Medal with two Gold Stars for wounds received in action against the enemy on November 9, 2004; April 2, 2005; and July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee resulting in his death
·  Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for service during the period August 1, to December 1, 2001

·  Combat Action Ribbon for Service in Iraq on November 2, 2004
·  Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with four Bronze Stars
·  National Defense Service Medal
·  Iraq Campaign Medal with one Bronze Campaign Star for service from 2007 to 2008
·  Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for service in Iraq from 2004 to 2005
·  Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
·  Korean Defense Service Medal
·  Humanitarian Service Medal for participation in the relief efforts of Hurricane
·   Katrina in 2005
·   Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one Silver Star
·   Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon|
·   Rifle Expert Badge (Second Award)
·   Pistol Marksman Badge

These awards illustrate Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan’s unrelenting passion for democracy and the protection of this sacred right. One can only imagine the thousands of lives saved abroad due to his love of country and fellow man. He was very proud of serving his country and loved being a Marine.  He served with distinction and honor and it is for this unselfish commitment to our nation that we honor his legacy.  The City of Springfield would like to thank his parents, Jerry and Betty, his sister Dianne, and his brother Joe for their participation in the design of this park. The Sullivan Family has great memories of East Forest Park and Tommy and Joe spent countless hours here during their childhood.   Please enjoy this picturesque setting and take a moment to quietly reflect on the freedoms that Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan served to protect.

"Semper Fi"


Massachusetts ranked 4th most Bicycle-Friendly State

Commonwealth retains top-5 status in the League of American Bicyclists ranking

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is pleased to announce that Massachusetts has been ranked the fourth most bicycle-friendly state in the nation, as per the League of American Bicyclists bi-annual state report card. In addition to retaining its top-five status nationwide from 2015, the Commonwealth was also ranked #1 overall in the eastern region of the United States. Massachusetts was especially commended for its high score in the Infrastructure & Funding category of the report card evaluation, reflecting in part the continuing success of our Safe Routes to School Program, and the Evaluation & Planning category, best demonstrated by the further development of the statewide Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan.

“We’d like to thank the League of American Bicyclists for recognizing our efforts to make Massachusetts a leading state for active transportation,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “We hope to learn from the report card scores in order to build on our past successes and make the Commonwealth an even better home for bicyclists.”

The Bicycle Friendly State Report Card is intended to provide highlighted information about each state to provide a useful comparison between states and serve as a reference for state efforts related to bicycling. The ranking for each state is based upon a weighted score that is a composite of the state’s score in each of five categories: Infrastructure & Funding, Evaluation & Planning (both of which Massachusetts excelled in), Policies & Programs, Legislation & Enforcement, and Education & Encouragement.

“MassDOT continues to prioritize bicycling as an effective, enjoyable and efficient mode of transportation,” said Pete Sutton, MassDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Coordinator. “It’s extremely gratifying to be recognized once again by the LAB as one of the top states in the nation when it comes to promoting bicycling programs and policies. The result of our efforts better connectivity and safety for all riders traveling along our growing on and off-road cycling networks.” It is hoped that Massachusetts will further improve its ranking and move forward upon the completion of its statewide Bicycle Transportation Plan update currently in progress.

Link: 


MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES IMMEDIATE MEASURES TO PROTECT EAST BOSTON AND CHARLESTOWN FROM CLIMATE CHANGE

City of Boston Releases 'Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown Report', Outlining Near- and Long-Term Strategies to Protect Vulnerable Neighborhoods from Flooding

Mayor Walsh and Senator Markey at today's release.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced plans to implement new resiliency measures to protect East Boston and Charlestown from current and future flooding as a result of climate change. The measures include elevating a section of Main Street in Charlestown and installing a deployable floodwall across the East Boston Greenway, and are both actions outlined in the City of Boston's Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown report, released today.

"Climate change is here. It's happening now. This year, we saw its effect in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and across our country and world. In Boston, we are seeing more frequent flooding on our waterfront, especially in East Boston and Charlestown," said Mayor Walsh.  "It's more important than ever that we work together to make sure our city is ready for the changes ahead."

The Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown report advances the work of Climate Ready Boston, the City's initiative to develop resilient solutions to prepare Boston for the impacts of climate change. The next steps, announced today, will move forward with the following near-term actions outlined in the newly released report:

    Main Street elevation in Charlestown: Elevating Main Street by an average of two feet in front of the Schrafft's Center driveway would block the main flood pathway through Charlestown up to a 1% annual chance flood with nine inches of sea level rise (2030s), plus 1 foot of freeboard. This would protect over 250 residents, at least 60 businesses, first responder facilities, and the Rutherford Avenue underpass. The estimated cost for design and construction is $2-3 million. The roadway elevation will be integrated into the ongoing Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square redesign project, currently in design and scheduled to begin construction in 2021.

    Deployable floodwall across East Boston Greenway: Installation of a seven-foot high deployable flood wall across the Greenway under Sumner Street would block the current 1% annual chance flood, with one foot of freeboard. The project would provide immediate protection to almost 4,300 residents, at least 70 businesses, and critical infrastructure for an estimated cost for design and construction of $100,000. Implementation will include an operational plan for deploying the flood wall in advance of a flood. The East Boston Greenway is owned by the City of Boston and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.

For all near- and long-term actions outlined in the City's Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown report to protect areas of these neighborhoods from three feet of sea level rise, read the Executive Summary here and Full Report here.

Mayor Walsh will join residents and community members today at the Mario Umana Academy for the first-ever East Boston Climate Summit hosted by the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) to announce the next steps and release of the report. NOAH was a key stakeholder in creating the report and critical partner in engaging East Boston residents to inform the coastal resiliency solutions.

"We're pleased to see Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston, and other key community partners take on the threat of sea-level rise and storm surge to protect our vulnerable neighborhood," said Philip Giffee, Executive Director of NOAH. "We're eager to move forward together to turn plans into action with budgets and continue working toward a more resilient City for all its residents ahead of the next big storm."

Over 400 residents from East Boston and Charlestown participated in the design process through meetings, community events, open houses, and an online survey. East Boston and Charlestown residents, businesses, and organizations shared their desire for effective and long-lasting solutions to keep them safe from coastal flooding while also enhancing their neighborhoods.

"We're pleased to participate in the climate study for the Charlestown Sullivan Square area,"  said John Roche, CEO of the The Flatley Company. "It is reassuring to know that the City is willing to work with private developers on rising tides and the impact they have on neighborhoods. The information that was derived will be beneficial for the neighborhood and our future development planning."

Climate Ready Boston is implementing the Greenovate Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan Update strategy of integrating climate preparedness into all aspects of city planning, review, and regulation. Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide comprehensive plan in 50 years, has as one of its overarching goals to "promote a healthy environment and adapt to climate change." Climate preparedness is also a leading component in GoBoston 2030 and Resilient Boston.

The Climate Ready Boston report, released in 2016, updated climate projections, assessed Boston's vulnerabilities to climate change, and recommended city-wide strategies for reducing vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, more extreme heat, and more intense precipitation. The report identified East Boston and Charlestown as two of the most vulnerable neighborhoods to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown, the first neighborhood-specific application of the Climate Ready Boston framework, was supported by from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Barr Foundation.

"The City of Boston has moved swiftly from comprehensive analysis to developing a solution strategy for key parts of the city that are vulnerable to flooding from climate change. For East Boston and Charlestown, we now have a good model that combines terrific public benefits with flood protection," said Bud Ris, co-chair of the Climate Preparedness Working Group of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, a partner with the City in the Climate Ready Boston work.

"The Commonwealth and the City of Boston continue to take important steps to improve coastal resiliency, and today's report advances Climate Ready Boston though community-specific adaptation plans and actions," said Office of Coastal Zone Management Director Bruce Carlisle. "We look forward to continuing this innovative collaboration with the City to address identified vulnerabilities at the neighborhood level and develop a broader vision for long-term climate resilience."

The City intends to ensure that all of Boston is climate-ready, and is moving forward with climate resiliency planning in its most flood-prone neighborhoods. In partnership with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), the City announced earlier this year the expansion of climate resiliency planning to the Fort Point Channel and the South Boston Waterfront.  That work is currently underway. Additionally, the City's Parks and Recreation and Environment Departments are working to ensure that the Moakely Park Vision Plan will incorporate climate resiliency design to address the threat of coastal flooding and storm surge.

About Climate Ready Boston

Climate Ready Boston is aligned with Imagine Boston 2030, Go Boston 2030, Resilient Boston, and other planning initiatives to ensure that climate adaptation supports the Mayor's goals for economic growth and social equity across the city.

Climate Ready Boston is led by the City of Boston in partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission and with support from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Barr Foundation.


MAYOR WALSH LAUNCHES THE OFFICE OF RETURNING CITIZENS

Office to support the nearly 3,000 individuals who return to Boston each year from incarceration

Building on Boston's commitment to creating opportunities for all residents, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today launched the Office of Returning Citizens, a newly formed office that will support the nearly 3,000 individuals who return to Boston after being released from state, federal and county facilities each year, as well as others who were previously incarcerated. The Office of Returning Citizens will be part of the Office of Public Safety, which was created in 2014.

"No one should be defined by the hardest time in their lives. Everyone deserves a second chance and a fair opportunity at success. That's why we've created the Office of Public Safety, and continued our commitment to opportunity with the Office of Returning Citizens," said Mayor Walsh. "For those who have been incarcerated, accessing things like housing, jobs and healthcare can be difficult. The Office of Returning Citizens will connect returning residents to resources throughout the City, making Boston safer and stronger -- a better Boston for everyone."

Earlier this month, Mayor Walsh appointed Kevin Sibley as Director of the Office of Returning Citizens. Sibley brings over 18 years of experience in human resources, program development and grant funded initiatives specific to the well-being of underserved individuals to his new role.

"I know the power a second chance can have on a person's life, and I look forward to supporting every individual in need of that chance under the leadership of Mayor Walsh," said Kevin Sibley, Director of the Office of Returning Citizens. "I look forward to helping those residents who need a helping hand, giving them the resources they need to lead a positive life here in Boston."

"I grew up in Dorchester, and spent eight years in and out of being incarcerated. I know that support, and knowing where to go, are crucial to breaking this cycle," said Romilda Pereira, a speaker at the Office opening. "I have a different vision of life now than I did back then, and am working hard for a better future for my daughters. I appreciate what Mayor Walsh is doing, and am happy that someone is recognizing that just because you were locked up, doesn't mean your past should follow you forever. I'm glad that opportunities are being put in place for people, like me, to have a chance to change their lives."

The Office aims to help individuals who have taken healthy steps and prepared themselves to move past the consequences of their past actions, and coordinate the work done by Boston's social service and law enforce partners. This office will incorporate best practices from local, state, and federal partners and include a review of similar offices in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

According to The Boston Reentry Study from Harvard University, individuals reentering society need assistance accessing resources to help them find permanent housing and employment. The new Office of Returning Citizens aims to empower men and women reintegrating into their communities to reach full potential as individuals, family members and residents of Boston.

"As a social worker, and now as the leader of YouthConnect, I see the need for stabilization programs every day," said Andrea Perry, Executive Director of YouthConnect. "For those leaving incarceration, trauma and a lack of resources hinders residents from successfully reentering society. The Office of Returning Citizens is a crucial step that will help Boston's residents connect, or reconnect, to the comprehensive resources they need to reintegrate successfully into their families and communities. I'm thankful for Mayor Walsh and Boston's leadership on this important program, and look forward to collaborating with them in the future."

Mayor Walsh created the Office of Public Safety in 2014 with the mandate of establishing cross-agency and cabinet coordination to tackle the challenging and complex problems in our neighborhoods that lead to and perpetuate violence. Part of the work of the office has included looking at services and opportunities available for individuals that are returning home. The new office will help fill gaps that exist within local, state, federal and county efforts.

Previous successful programs the City has established for those leaving incarceration include Operation Exit, Boston's reentry program. Mayor Walsh established Operation Exit in 2014 to help at-risk residents, or those with a criminal background, by providing the knowledge and skills required for entry into an apprenticeship program. Through career readiness and occupational skills training, the intensive training program provides hands-on learning experiences with peer-to-peer mentorship to prepare participants for good careers. 

The Office of Returning Citizens will be located at 22 Drydock Ave. in Boston's Seaport District, a neutral location designed to be accessible for all residents. For more information on the Office of Public Safety Initiatives, visit boston.gov.



MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES RETURN OF "BOSTON WINTER PRESENTED BY BERKSHIRE BANK" TO CITY HALL PLAZA ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, in partnership with the Boston Garden Development Corporation, today announced the return of "Boston Winter Presented by Berkshire Bank" to City Hall Plaza on Friday, November 24.

Last year, in its Boston debut, more than 300,000 local residents and visitors came to experience this new, family-friendly holiday tradition at City Hall Plaza. Open to the public seven days a week, "Boston Winter Presented by Berkshire Bank" will feature a mix of winter activities including a unique outdoor skating path, and an expanded Holiday Shopping Market with an array of hospitality experiences and attractions produced by Millennial Entertainment Group.

"I look forward to opening Boston Winter for the second year in a row, welcoming friends, families and residents to City Hall Plaza to enjoy this new holiday tradition," said Mayor Walsh. "Last year was an overwhelming success in showing the potential for City Hall Plaza to serve as a holiday destination, and I thank all of the collaborators for their partnership in bringing this vision to life. From ice skating, to shopping, to enjoying local artists' performances, there is something for everyone to enjoy at Boston Winter."

Berkshire Bank is the official community partner of "Boston Winter Presented by Berkshire Bank" at City Hall Plaza. Through the partnership, Berkshire Bank has helped bring to life year-round programming to City Hall Plaza. Their brand is integrated throughout the Plaza, and the "Berkshire Community Stage" will return, providing an opportunity for local artists and community groups to showcase their talent.

"We're thrilled to continue to work with Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston and bring 'Boston Winter' to life again this season," said Sean A. Gray, Berkshire Bank's Chief Operating Officer. "Berkshire Bank has expanded into the downtown Boston neighborhood, and this activation has really allowed us to be embedded in the community, and bring exciting memories for all at City Hall Plaza."

The holiday shopping market and attractions, produced and operated by Millennial Entertainment Group, a leading global producer of seasonal experiences, will run through December 31, 2017 and include unique attractions and over 85 chalets. The boutique style chalets offer a wide variety of local and international gifts, good and food. Vendors include Grace Oliver, LovePop Cards.

Attractions this year include an enchanted Christmas tree maze, a Santa House, a Bavarian Village, and Vinopolis, an interactive wine and beer experience.

The skating path will return in a reconfigured fashion for an entirely new experience. The outdoor skating path, operated by Rink Management Services, the largest operator of ice skating facilities in the United States, will remain open through February, offering learn-to-skate programs and many special events. Visitors can rent skates, or bring their own for Boston's first-ever custom designed pathway that weaves around the marquee "BOSTON" sign.

'Boston Seasons presented by Berkshire Bank' is a three-year activation plan created by the City of Boston's Property Management Department in collaboration with the Boston Garden Development Corporation to revitalize Boston City Hall plaza.  As evidenced by last year's success, the unique programming creates a vibrant and welcoming public space for all. Boston Garden Development Corporation, a subsidiary of Delaware North, is overseeing the efforts as the City's selected vendor to enhance Boston's City Hall Plaza.

Today's announcement builds on Mayor Walsh's commitment to revitalize both City Hall and the plaza. As part of the master plan to re-envision public spaces, the Walsh Administration has invested in improvements to City Hall to make the building more welcoming and accessible to all.  Earlier this year, Mayor Walsh announced renovations were  completed in the Boston City Hall lobby, and the Boston City Council chamber.  Included in the renovations is the selection of Recreo Coffee to operate a coffee shop on the third floor mezzanine.  All of these efforts are part of a master planning process, Rethink City Hall. For more information, visit www.rethinkcityhall.org.

About "Boston Winter Presented by Berkshire Bank"

For more information, visit: www.CityHallPlazaBoston.com, follow along on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BostonCityHallPlaza, Twitter @CHP_Boston and Instagram @CHP_Boston with #BostonWinter.

About Millennial Entertainment Group:

Millennial Entertainment Group, previously Millennial Exhibitions is a global provider of traveling exhibits and seasonal experiences for shopping malls, entertainment centers, museums and public parks. Millennial Entertainment Group produces bespoke holiday markets that enchant the public of all ages, and provide a festive environment where local makers and entrepreneurs showcase their products and wares. Learn more: www.bostonwinter.org and www.millennialentertainmentgroup.com.