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Higher Education Pays!

IB Image 2016 MOSES Scholarship winners were drawn at September’s General Membership meeting in Raynham, Mass. A total of 24 scholarships (23-$750 scholarships and one $1,500 scholarship) were distributed to help defray educational expenses. 

Joe Dorant, president of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists, shared, “I am proud that our board voted to increase each award amount by 50%. Member families count on this support to help pay higher education expenses and the MOSES leadership gets that.”

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River Named for MOSES Member

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The U.S. Board of Geographic Names has labeled a brook on the Harvard Forest property in Petersham, Mass., as ‘Arthur Brook’ in honor of former MOSES member and environmental champion, Arthur John Screpetis (1950-2009). The brook is a 1.1 mile tributary to the larger Bigelow Brook.

Fellow coworker and MOSES member Warren Kimball, retired, submitted the petition to name the brook after Arthur.

Screpetis, a 37-year employee of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and a MOSES member, began his career with the Commonwealth working for the Division of Water Pollution Control. In 1974 he was one of the primary authors of operational protocols for water quality monitoring in lakes. He participated in the research and development of, and the funding for, numerous cooperative projects with State and Federal agencies, including the Massachusetts Stream Classification Project. His work on the development and implementation of the Mass. Watershed Initiative and the Mass. Estuaries Program was especially impactful.

Throughout his career, Screpetis received numerous recognitions for his “outstanding service,” including the prestigious Manuel Carballo Award for Excellence, primarily due to his work on the Watershed Initiative. According to Joe Dorant, MOSES president, “Arthur is remembered for his many years of dedicated service to both DEP and the many rivers, streams and wetlands that his work saved. The work he completed on the development of the state stream and lake inventories is still in use today. Just as important as Art’s devotion to his work for the Commonwealth was his interests as a naturalist and wildlife biologist.”

Mr. Screpetis belonged to many associations and organizations, including MOSES, The Wildlife Society, the American Society of Mammalogists, the Association of Field Ornithologists, the Eastern Bird Banding Association, the American Ornithologists Union, the New England Botanical Club, the Society of Wetland Scientists, and the Northeastern Naturalist-Humboldt Field Research Institute, to name a few.

A native of Lowell, Mass., Art was an experienced astronomer, avid runner, professional nature photographer and baseball enthusiast. Pictured below is Arthur (right) and fellow MassDEP “Water Wrats” (and MOSES members) Dave Howland (left) and Warren Kimball (center).

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MOSES Member Darryl Forgione Named Buddy Adams Award Recipient

DCR Engineer Honored by the Mass. Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health

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(Pictured (left to right): Darryl Forgione, MOSES President Joe Dorant and Alex Brown, MassCOSH board member and representative of the North Shore Labor Council.)

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH) named Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers & Scientists (MOSES) Board Member Darryl Forgione of Ipswich the 2015 Buddy Adams Award recipient.

The award, presented this year by the North Shore Labor Council, recognizes a resident who has demonstrated leadership and dedication to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of workers in the Commonwealth. It is named in memory of Buddy Adams, a member of IUE-CWA local 201 who, fought for better health and safety conditions through activism at General Electric.

Forgione, an engineer with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), has been a longtime champion of occupational safety.

In his 20 years of advocacy, Forgione has built an effective labor-management health and safety committee. Together, they study injury data with an eye to reducing areas where accidents trend; work to get personal safety equipment and training for employees; regularly testify before the Massachusetts legislature in support of safety bills, including the recently passed bill extending OSHA protections to executive branch employees; and develop health and safety policies to keep fellow workers from harm, among other efforts.

“I am very vocal about safety,” Forgione explains. “If my efforts can help educate everyone to better understand everyday risks in the workplace and, in turn, mitigate these potential hazards, I’m happy to do it. Being safe on the job saves lives, money and heartache. I know that I, as well as my fellow workers, work hard to create a safe work environment, and this award is an honor for all of us.”

Joe Dorant, president of MOSES, observes, “An effective workplace safety program starts with a strong and visible commitment to safety and touches every level of the organization. Each and every day, Darryl leads by example by encouraging safe practices and procedures and exemplifying his commitment to ’safety first.' The Commonwealth is well served by MOSES members like Darryl, who recognize that workplace safety programs, with a focus on prevention, are key to ensuring dedicated public servants remain safe and protected on the job.”

DCR Acting Commissioner Daniel Sieger shares, “This recognition highlights the dedication and determination that employees like Darryl have made to create a safe work environment. We at DCR are especially proud to have one of our engineers receive this prestigious award.”

“Darryl truly embodies the passion and dedication to health and safety of the late Buddy Adams,” says Marcy Goldstein-Gelb, executive director, MassCOSH. “Darryl has devoted decades of his career to ensuring that his fellow workers can do their jobs protecting our state’s parks and return home safely to their families. We all owe a debt of gratitude to him.”

Representative Bradford Hill (R-Ipswich) says, “Darryl Forgione is an invaluable employee of the Department of Conservation and Recreation due to his commitment to safety in the workplace. The Commonwealth is lucky to have Darryl, and I am proud to call him a constituent."

Every day, throughout the Commonwealth, thousands of professional engineers and scientists dedicate themselves to serving the public interest. They provide protection from life threatening dangers; assure the quality of our air and water; design, build and preserve our roads and bridges; and ensure that our workplaces and homes are safe from toxins. These employees all have one thing in common – they are members of the Massachusetts Organization of State Engineers and Scientists (MOSES), a professional organization 3,200 members strong dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for Massachusetts’ residents through science and engineering.

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Credit Earned Where Credit Due

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Former MOSES member Russ Gaulin, an environmental analyst with DEP, Representative Jim O’Day and MOSES President Joe Dorant, along with Boston Area Returned Peace Corps Treasurer and DPH Epidemiologist, Alicia Charleston, testified before the Joint Committee on Public Service on H.2384, An Act authorizing certain public employees’ creditable retirement service.

 At a time in state government when it is increasingly important to do more with less, Peace Corps and similar service program alumni bring to state service invaluable skills such as problem solving and dealing with uncertainty, all derived from practical, hands-on experience. These individuals often dedicate years of their lives for little or no pay for the purposes of enhancing the quality of life of disenfranchised populations across the globe. MOSES President Joe Dorant explains, “These are MOSES members with a passion for service and learning. Their experiences bring a unique perspective to the day-to-day service state workers bring to the Commonwealth. This legislation would allow state employees to buy back up to four years of creditable service. Teachers are provided this advantage; H.2384 would expand this benefit to all Commonwealth personnel.”

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Newburyport’s Improved Fishing Pier and Boat Access is Off the Hook!

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(Pictured left-right) State Senator Kathleen O’Connor-Ives, State Representative James Kelcourse, Department of Fish & Game Commissioner George Peterson, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton, State Representative Leonard Mirra, Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday and MOSES member, Fish & Game’s Assistant Director and Deputy Chief Engineer, Doug Cameron.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton joined state and local officials, project leaders and anglers of all ages for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of significant improvements to the recreational fishing pier and boat access at Cashman Park in Newburyport, Mass. MOSES member Doug Cameron, assistant director with the Department of Fish & Game’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access, served as deputy chief engineer on the project.

Reconstruction of the sport fishing pier included a 21-foot, L-shaped extension, structural repairs, new decking and handrails, as well as measures to make the entire pier compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also installed were new boarding floats, six feet wide and 132 feet long, on each side of the boat ramp to make launching and retrieval of boats easier and more efficient.

The Department of Fish & Game’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access (FBA) expended $1.25 million on 13 access projects in fiscal year 2015. FBA provides boating and fishing access opportunities along Massachusetts’ 1,200-mile seashore, as well as access to hundreds of lakes, ponds, rivers and streams in the Commonwealth. The agency oversees more than 290 boat and canoe launch sites, along with sport fishing areas and recreational fishing piers.

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MOSES Members Cited for Excellence - 2015

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State employees and their daily contributions throughout the workforce play a major role in the Commonwealth’s successful delivery of quality services to its citizens. Outstanding employees set high standards for themselves and they motivate and influence their fellow workers to adopt similar standards. For 31 years, the Performance Recognition Program (PRP) has been an important means to publicly acknowledge and encourage outstanding performance. Over the next several months, we will be highlighting MOSES members that have been singled out for excellence in 2015. Congratulations to everyone and if you have received an award, from the state or your community, please send information and a photo to: colleen@btc-boston.com.

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Utility Relocation Policy Earns MassDOT National Excellence Award

MOSES members instrumental in development of the incentive-based reimbursement policy.

The system of streets and roads serving the U.S. is over 4.2 million miles long and occupies about one percent of the country’s total land mass. Massachusetts roadways account for over 35,000 of these miles. The most obvious users of this intricate network are cars and trucks; less noticeable are the utility lines, often located to the side of the pavement or underground. 

If a road is widened to allow for increased traffic, or a city street is rerouted for building construction, utility lines may have to be moved. Aside from the obvious expense, movement of these lines can be time consuming, causing significant traffic and construction delays.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Excellence Award recently recognized MassDOT engineers for their establishment of an incentive-based reimbursement policy for utility relocations. Under the policy, MassDOT will reimburse 50% of the actual costs incurred for necessary utility relocation only if the utility owner completes the work within the duration schedule set by all participants. This procedure ties utility relocations to the construction contractor’s schedule, strongly incentivizing coordination between all parties. 

MOSES members, including Guy Rezendes and Mike Hartnett, both with MassDOT, were instrumental in the development of the nationally acclaimed Utility Incentive-Based Reimbursement Policy. Rezendes, MassDOT state utilities engineer in the Boston headquarters and Hartnett, District 3 construction engineer, assisted in the development of the DUCE (District Utility/Constructability Engineer) position to help speed along MassDOT projects, often held up by utility relocations. The engineers observed that utility relocation can be a major contributor to project delays. The DUCE team, in turn, developed a new process for how MassDOT interacts with the utility companies, saving everyone, particularly the residents of Massachusetts, considerable time and money.

Prior to the establishment of the DUCE position and process, the MassDOT  state utility engineer would distribute plans to the utilities, but that was as far as it went. There was little coordination between the parties and no real incentive to finish the job on time. Now, with Utility Incentive-Based Reimbursement Policy in place, MassDOT engineers meet with the utility engineers at the 25% mark in the design process, plan out the relocations, involve all designers in the process, incorporate the utility relocations in new designs, develop a project schedule that includes the utility relocations and ensure that the utilities stay on schedule for their relocations so they meet the requirements for reimbursement. There are many other pieces of the puzzle that are included, from acquisition of easements for utilities to completion of agreements that limit the duration of a relocation and minimize the overall impact to utilities. It is this early coordination of numerous directives by the DUCE engineers that helps to make this a successful program.

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THE MOUSE & THE MEASLES: How MOSES Epidemiologists stay on top of this highly infectious disease.

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(Photo credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire/ZUMA)

Earlier this year, the "happiest place on earth" became home to the measles, the highly infectious disease which can be transmitted through the air and can lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, among other serious consequences. To date, 117 cases of the disease in the U.S. have been linked to California's Disneyland, out of the 169 cases nationwide (as of May 1, 2015). 

Though not related to the Disney outbreak, here in Massachusetts, a visiting, unvaccinated exchange student from Western Europe developed measles this past April and exposed hundreds in greater Boston, the North Shore and in neighboring states to the disease. Over 700 people were contacted by state and local public health professionals and were provided with recommendations for post-exposure follow-up. To date, there have not been any subsequent cases associated to the visiting exchange student.

MOSES member Stephen Fleming, an epidemiologist with the Department of Public Health, explains, "We are fortunate in the Commonwealth, given our high vaccination rates, but we are by no means exempt from the disease. Here at DPH, we are constantly on the lookout for measles and reaching out to hospital staff and local boards of health to ensure that suspect cases will be recognized early and reported." 

In 2000, the US Centers for Disease Control declared measles eliminated in the United States, thanks in large part to an effective vaccine. But because of anti-vaccination concerns, fueled by false claims about links between vaccines and autism, many parents have opted out of vaccinating their kids, leaving them-and others, including children too young to be vaccinated-vulnerable.

Here in Massachusetts, there were eight confirmed cases in 2014, and one case in a visitor. From these nine cases, over 3,500 people were exposed and over 500 received post-exposure vaccination. 

Massachusetts consistently has a very high percentage (95% or higher) of children age 19 months to 35 months who receive the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine. Although state law requires vaccination before children can attend school, parents may obtain an exemption by providing a medical reason or merely stating that vaccination is against their sincere religious belief. Over the past dozen-plus years, the number who obtained exemptions increased from less than 1 percent in the 2000-2001 school year to 1.5 percent in 2013-14. In certain parts of the state, as well, exemption rates are much higher: over 5 percent in Franklin, Nantucket and Duke's (Martha's Vineyard) Counties, for example, among kindergarten students.

But thanks to the efforts of Fleming, along with fellow epidemiologists Christina Brandeburg, Meagan Burns, Joyce Cohen, Nancy Harrington, Rosa Hernandez, Hillary Johnson, Omotola Kalejaiye and Marija Popstefanija, all MOSES members, the closely knit team works with local boards of health and hospital infection control practitioners to ensure suspect cases are recognized and proper procedures followed. The team also works very closely with other MOSES members within the Hinton State Laboratory, where much of the measles testing takes place. Fleming shares, "From circulating advisories from the CDC on what symptoms to look for to sharing on-call duties 24-7/365, we strive to recognize measles early and limit the spread, and so far, we are good with regards to the Disney outbreak and the visiting student." 

Additional, but not all duties of the epidemiologists include advocacy for prevention of the disease, speaking at annual trainings and regional immunization update events.

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