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A "Grand" Turn Out for Lobby Day

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A “Grand” Turnout: More than two-dozen MOSES members lent their support to Union Lobby Day on April 2, 2015. Pictured above on the Grand Staircase at the State House is (back row, l-r) Ron Stoner*, Greg Ringdahl, Mike Epstein*, Rajinder Khetarpal, Anne Malewicz*, Tom Prendergast*, David Shakespeare; (front row, l-r) Mary Richmond, Mike Galvin*, MOSES President Joe Dorant*, Leonard Meleger, Val Soroka and Mohammed Chowdry. Missing from photo: Philip Murphy, Susan Fessenden, Gerry McCullough*, Chris Bresnahan*, Alex Smigliani*, Jacob Oliver, Tim Connolly, Ben Gardner, Stephen Spencer, Mary Richards and Donald Miller (* indicates member MOSES Board of Directors).

MOSES Members Stand Together Against Health Insurance Cost-Shifting

More than 24 MOSES members joined hundreds of brothers and sisters in organized labor at the Massachusetts State House on April 2 to ask legislators to stop proposed health care cost increases that would severely impact state workers.

MOSES President Joe Dorant explains, “Our goal is to roll back the current 25% premium share for state workers hired from 2003 onward so that they will pay the same 20% premium share as workers hired before 2003. We hope this move will soften the impact of the already planned GIC increases in copays and deductibles, as well as the premium increases of up to 9% for all MOSES members’ insurance plans.”

April 2’s lobby day was only the first in what will likely be a 90-day push to ensure fairness for state workers in the FY2016 budget. It’s not too late to let your legislator know you can’t take any more increases. Click here (or visit www.MOSES-MA.org) to see a suggested email or phone message and call your legislator today. Not sure who to call? Visit: www.WhereDoIVoteMA.com.

MOSES Scientists’ Efforts Give Red-bellied Cooter Headstart

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MassWildlife, in cooperation with other agencies, is working hard to protect and extend the Red-bellied Cooter turtle population. Each year, the agency collects about 100 hatchlings and raises them in captivity for the first year. MOSES member Jonathan Regosin, an environmental analyst with MassWildlife, Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, explains, “At the time of release back into the wild, these turtles are approximately the size of a 3-year-old, making them less of a target for predators.” 

Since the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species began running a “headstarting” program for Red-bellied Cooters in 1980, here in Massachusetts at just one site, the Myles Standish Forest in Carver, 350 turtles have been successfully released.

The Red-bellied Cooter is a state and federally listed endangered species. By the late 1980's the Massachusetts population was restricted to fewer than 15 ponds in Plymouth County.  At that time, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife initiated a "headstarting" program in cooperation with the US Fish & Wildlife Service. The Cooter Headstart Project is one of many turtle conservation efforts conducted by MassWildlife and other conservation agencies and organizations. 

Regosin shares, “As part of the ‘headstarting’ program, cooperating partners, including area volunteer high school students, raise the turtles in warm aquarium environments allowing them to grow faster. This, in turn, makes them less vulnerable when they are finally released and therefore more likely to make it to adulthood.”

In Massachusetts, the Red-bellied Cooter primarily inhabits freshwater ponds that have abundant aquatic vegetation. For nesting, the Red-bellied Cooter requires sandy soil on land surrounding the pond. Red-bellied Cooters reach maturity at approximately 15-20 years of age with a life expectancy of 40 to 55 years. 

Massachusetts has 10 native terrestrial and aquatic turtles (not including sea turtles) and six of those are listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). To learn more, visit MassWildlife and watch the Headstart Project on Ocean Mysteries with Jeff Corwin here.

The DMA-80 Mercury Analyzer is a long way from the Super Bass-O-Matic ’76!

The MassDEP’s Inorganic Chemistry Lab at the Wall Experiment Station in Lawrence is responsible for the ongoing Mercury Initiative Program. The initiative, a multi-year cycle that visits and re-visits hundreds of different lakes and ponds in the state, is tasked with monitoring mercury levels in fish. Assisting scientists with this monumental task is the DMA-80 Mercury Analyzer. MassDEP Commissioner David Cash jokes, “It’s kind of like the Bass-O-Matic, but considerably more precise.”

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Mercury, a highly toxic metal, is dangerous to both humans and the ecosystem. Women who are pregnant or nursing and young children are especially vulnerable to mercury poisoning. Mercury finds its way into fish and ultimately the food chain via emissions from power plants, as well as the burning of municipal solid wastes and medical wastes (no longer allowed in the state), among other sources. MassDEP’s aggressive regulatory initiative to further reduce mercury uses and emissions to the environment has resulted in significant improvements in the mercury contamination status of edible portions of freshwater fish here in the Commonwealth.

MOSES member Mike Hutcheson, director of the fish monitoring program at MassDEP, along with MOSES members Jane Rose and Carol Batdorf, as well as fellow DEP employees C. Mark Smith, Oscar Pancorbo, Carol Rowan West, Joseph Strube and Corey Francis, authors of Temporal and Spatial Trends in Freshwater Fish Tissue Mercury Concentrations Associated with Mercury Emissions Reductions, published in Environmental Science & Technology, conducted an in-depth, 12-year study of edible muscle from yellow perch and large mouth bass. For comparison purposes, the study samples were taken from 23 specific lakes, two to eight times between 1999 and 2011.

Hutcheson explains, “We collect samples from two distinct levels on the aquatic food chain. This year, in an effort to not decimate the population, we are changing the process and taking samples from the same dorsal area of 30 yellow perch and 15 large mouth bass on average, then releasing the fish back into the water.”

The analytical work completed at the Wall Experiment Station provides validated data by following rigorous quality control standards set forth by the EPA. The tissue samples collected ultimately land in the dedicated DMA-80 analyzer. Samples – up to 40 at a time – are placed into a tray, then a robotic arm loads each, one by one, into the furnace for drying and decomposition. By combining the techniques of thermal decomposition, catalytic conversion, amalgamation and atomic absorption spectrophotometry, all potential toxic waste is eliminated, yet accurate, detailed results are achieved.

Hutcheson concludes, “Mercury concentrations in fish have declined dramatically during this period of reductions in emissions. While MassDEP staff continue to push for further reductions, regionally and nationally, we as residents and consumers reap the benefits.”

MOSES MassDOT Members Donate Vacation Time to Coworker

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The season of giving is fast approaching, and MOSES members from MassDOT’s Unit E have rallied in support of their fellow coworker with the greatest gift of all…time.

Karen O’Neil, leave of absence administrator for MassDOT, explains, “In many instances, diagnosis and recovery for a serious illness can take months and months. The reality is, no employee has that much time off accrued.” 

She further shares, sick time can also be quickly depleted because of personal or family crisis. “What seemed like an enormous ‘stock pile’ is gone in an instant,” she says.

When the call went out that MassDOT District 3 Engineer Bob Aubrey’s daughter’s life threatening illness had returned, MOSES members didn’t hesitate. 

In less than two weeks, 56 MassDOT members donated 511 hours - over 13 weeks of paid time.

MOSES President Joe Dorant notes, “I’m so impressed by our members generosity. Yes, we worked to get mutual aid to be a part of the collective bargaining agreement, but the fact that so many MOSES coworkers took the extra step and shared their vacation, personal or compensatory time with Bob speaks to just how special and generous our members are.”

 

Multiple Agencies Work Together on Worst-Case Emergency Scenarios

MOSES members from MassDEP, MWRA and DCR among participants.

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Emergency responders from MassDEP, DCR and MWRA, as well as local public safety officials practice deploying oil spill boom on the Wachusett Reservoir.

One of the most important responsibilities provided by MassDEP is their rapid response to emergency situations in the event of an accident or a spill of some hazardous materials that creates a crisis for the environment or public health. (Recall last summer, when more than 9,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled into the Mystic River after a tanker truck flipped over on the Route 60 area between Medford and Arlington. Among the many first-responders on the scene, it was fast action taken by the MassDEP's Emergency Response (ER) section, including MOSES members Paul Giddings, Dave LaPusata, Kingsley Ndi and Steven Ross, as well as Andy Clark and John Fitzgerald, who also work the Field Assessment Support Team (FAST), that helped to mitigate the disastrous impact to the local environment from this very unfortunate incident.) 

Most recently, MOSES members Nick Child, Bob Dunne, Dino Dellechiaie, Mike Leblanc, Kevin Daoust, Matt Fitzpatrick, Phil Doherty, Andrea Lemerise, Ed Gates, John Ostrowsky and David Boyer, along with Joel Reese, John Bourcier, Joanne Flescher and Tony Kurpaska, all from MassDEP, joined forces with fellow MWRA and DCR members to conduct an oil spill deployment and containment training session at Wachusett Reservoir. The exercise included both daylight and evening training sessions, as well as boat and shoreline containment drills.

MOSES members from DCR, Bill Moulton and Paula Davison, as well as MWRA member Matt Walsh coordinated and participated in the drills. MWRA also helped underwrite the training.

Joe Dorant, president of MOSES and a scientist with MassDEP, shares, "Getting to the scene of an environmental crisis quickly is a key factor to successfully mitigate the situation. Bringing together the important and unique skill sets that DCR, MWRA and MassDEP scientists and engineers provide and determining each professional organization's exact role when these types of events occur is often the difference that prevents long-term environmental damage or potential risk to the public's health." 

MOSES Members Recognized for Outstanding Performance

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The 30th annual Performance Recognition Program (PRP) awards ceremony was held at the State House this past July. The PRP program honors outstanding performance of Executive Branch and Higher Education employees in building a better Commonwealth.

"I am proud to honor this year's Performance Recognition Program winners and to thank them for their excellence in public service," said Governor Patrick. "As members of the state workforce these individuals make a difference every day to help build a better Commonwealth."

Over 350 state employees representing agencies across the Commonwealth were recognized at the event for excellence in public service. Awardees were chosen based on their demonstration of exceptional accomplishments in areas that include: leadership, innovation, meaningful contributions and commitment to government operations.

Joe Dorant, president of MOSES, shares, "Once again, MOSES members figure prominently in the list of recipients. Excellence in public service is certainly worthy of recognition, but quite frankly, I think every MOSES member qualifies for this accolade." 

In addition to the highlights noted below, additional MOSES awardees include DPH's Johanna Vostok for her work as an epidemiologist with the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Hillary Johnson, a member of the Immunization Program MIIS/Vaccine Unit.

Turner Earns Carballo Award

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MOSES member Richard "Dick" Turner has been a fixture in environmental circles in Massachusetts for decades. After 65 years of service, he formally retired in late June from his position with MassWildlife. However, he is still frequently found at his former office in the woods of Buzzards' Bay covering the Southeast District, allegedly to clean it out for its next occupant, but in actuality because he still cares about wildlife and yearns to continue contributing to its preservation.

Turner's dedication to the environment and to the species that populate it has earned him numerous awards in his lifetime, including perhaps the most significant one just a few weeks ago. He was one of five individual recipients of this year's Manuel Carballo Governor's Award for Excellence in Public Service from Governor Deval Patrick.

Dick (right) is pictured above with Gov. Patrick at the State House ceremony.

MOSES Members Cash in at MassDEP Awards

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MassDEP Commissioner David Cash (fourth from left) handed out a total of 18 Performance Excellence awards to MOSES members. Pictured at right (from left to right) John Fischer, James McQuade, Paul Dwiggins, Commissioner Cash, Michelle Delemarre, Joe Dorant, president of MOSES and a MassDEP scientist, Duanne LeVangie and Greg Root. James, Paul, Michelle and Greg were all part of the Commonwealth vs. Anza Team responsible for bringing Northboro resident Santo Anza to justice for multiple environmental charges relating to illegal dumping.

MassDEP received 27 nominations, seven of which went to MOSES members both individually and to those on a team. MOSES individual recipients in addition to John and Duane noted above also included William Lamkin and Victoria Phillips (a Carballo nominee). MOSES members on the Spill Team (not pictured) include Andrew Clark, John Fitzgerald, Paul Giddings, Lawrence Immerman, Steve Johnson, Dave LaPusata, Kingsley Ndi and Steve Ross. Massachusetts Contingency Plan Team members (also, not pictured) honored for their development of chemical-specific cleanup standards were Elizabeth Callahan and Paul Locke.

With Military Honors 
 
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MOSES member Robert Blair (right) is congratulated by President Joe Dorant at July 18's Commonwealth of Massachusetts Performance Recognition Program. Blair accepted the award on behalf of the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron. Additional MOSES members named include Otis Hathon, Paul Helmuth and Michael Netto, also a MOSES Steward.

This dedicated and versatile team has consistently and superbly executed its assigned mission, as well as performed above and beyond the call to duty, saving the state and the federal government millions of dollars. In addition to operating and maintaining the Massachusetts Air National Guard at Otis Air Base, the team also provides 24/7 utility infrastructure support for the Joint Base Cape Cod electrical grid, telephone communications, water distribution and wastewater treatment to 20 tenant units and 3,000 customers across the Air National Guard's largest geographical base. Their unrivaled work ethic, ingenuity and "can do" attitude enables them to accomplish projects that most would consider impossible. As a support organization, their contributions improve the lives of all members in the base community.
 

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