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9 Takeaways from September’s Board of Health Meeting

On Thursday, the Tewksbury Board of Health met without member Bob Scarano.

1. Rt. 38 Tattoo is adding two new body art apprentices. Board Chair Ray Barry stated that both tattoo parlors in town are using a high-quality training course based in New Hampshire, and all apprentices who come before the Board have been pre-approved by the town’s health director. Therefore, the appearance is more of a “meet and greet.”

The board circled back to body art later. Barry said that regulation is left to individual communities, and that body art has expanded beyond traditional tattoos to include microblading. He shared that his wife uses these services and has pointed out instances of procedures “gone wrong.” Going forward, those seeking practitioner and apprentice licenses will not be required to come before the board unless town health director Shannon Gillis feels there is a need, so as not to delay businesses.

“We’re different than other communities,” said Barry. “We’re trying to ensure that we have very good, sterile conditions and everyone’s doing everything as they should, just to avoid any issues.”

The board decided to develop a short quiz to test applicants’ knowledge.

2. Krishna Patel, owner of the 1899 Smoke Shop at 1899 Main St. appeared in regard to an underage tobacco sale violation. Patel was a no-show at last month’s meeting and said he did not receive the Board’s letter. Barry quizzed Patel on his plans to ensure there are no repeat violations and informed Patel that the BoH would be updating the town’s regulations to be in line with the state’s guidelines. The $1,000 fine levied for the infraction may be paid in installments but must be paid in full before the store’s license can be renewed. Patel said he is adding an automated system to scan IDs.

3. Member Charlie Roux expressed dissatisfaction that the BoH was not consulted on the retail marijuana regulations to be voted on at Oct. 3 town meeting.

“It was like a surprise that they’re going to open retail marijuana shops and that we wouldn’t be part of that discussion from the get go,” said Roux. “The Board of Health, in my opinion should have been part of that initial discussion around how it was being brought to the town.”

4. Health agent Vincent Goo is leaving to become a firefighter, Gillis reported. The town is seeking a replacement.

5. Lisa’s Pizza, which was cited for sanitary violations, has made little progress toward fixing the problems and has not submitted a plan. Last month, a town inspector found that conditions were not sanitary, there was evidence of pests and food was being prepared in a non-complaint basement. 

“I went by there, there’s nothing happening at all,” said member Susan Amato.

6. Flu clinics will be held by Town Nurse Ashley Pavlakos beginning on September 27, from 9 a.m. to noon at the Senior Center. That clinic is open to the public.

7. Barry said he would like to put together a calendar for each meeting, along with educational topics. September is emergency preparedness month, as the region prepares for hurricane season. He advised residents to have generators, and not to run them or store gasoline inside. He also recommended that residents get thermometers to make sure refrigerated food stays at a safe temperature during a power outage. Qualified residents may also consider joining the Massachusetts Medical Reserve Corps.

October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month, and Barry will consider inviting speakers and potentially having a Narcan administration demonstration.

“I’d like us to become a more proactive board,” he said.

8. Barry wants to see Open Meeting Law be tweaked. He educated BoH members that he is not able to communicate with them because it may be an OML violation and that information will instead be funneled through Gillis. He also advised residents to bring any unneeded drugs to the police station for disposal versus putting them in the waste stream.

9. Member Melissa Braga warned residents of brightly colored Fentanyl that resembles sidewalk chalk, based on an alert from the DEA. Parents are advised to be mindful of this drug as we approach Halloween.

“Obviously Fentanyl is very bad and can lead to death,” she said.

Residents can watch the full meeting on Tewksbury TV’s YouTube channel.

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Lorna is a U.S. Army veteran and 25-year resident of Tewksbury who has written for organizations ranging from the DIA to InformationWeek to a free weekly in New London that sent her to interview the pastry chef at Foxwoods.

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