A wise voice that quieted Robbins Auditorium as Town Meeting members paid heed has gone silent, but his work on behalf of Arlington sings still.
Brian Houser Rehrig, 67, died Jan. 21, at his Academy Street home after a long illness. He spent his last days surrounded by loved ones; listening to Bach, show tunes and James Taylor; and wearing T-shirts from political campaigns -- in other words, as he lived.
Some of the many people whose lives he touched provided remembrances below.
Mr. Rehrig was born Oct. 24, 1954, to Marjorie and Carl Rehrig and grew up in Bath, Pa., attending Northampton High School. He went on to MIT, where he intended to major in mechanical engineering in pursuit of a career building pipe organs, but graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in 1975. He was involved with MIT’s Glee Club, Drama Guild and The Tech newspaper. In Boston, through the city's musical-theater scene, he met Sheila (Duffy) Rehrig, his wife of 45 years.
Fourteen banners celebrating Black History Month will be displayed throughout town—including Broadway Square and the Heights—during February, as unanimously approved Jan. 24 by the Select Board.
The banners, including ones from previous years along with new designs, will be appear on light poles along Mass. Ave. in East Arlington, Arlington Center and the Heights, explained Crystal Haynes, Arlington human rights commissioner.
“This is the third year that the Arlington Human Rights Commission is hanging Black Lives Matter banners to celebrate Black History Month,” said Haynes.
This year’s theme is “Youth Leading the Way.” Haynes said: “We invited Arlington High and Ottoson Middle school students to design banners because children have been involved in the blackr rights movement since the Birmingham Children’s March in 1963.”
In a memo to the Select Board, Haynes wrote, “Young people are at the center of the new civil rights movement, which now includes housing justice, food insecurity, school placement discrimination and health inequity.”
The Arlington Human Rights Commission and the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture encouraged Arlington students of color to participate because they rarely get recognition. Two designs were chosen from the Ottoson School, said Haynes.
Town planning is the host for a virtual public meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 26, to kick off the feasibility study of connecting the Mystic River Path to the Minuteman Bikeway.
The project, funded through an $80,000 grant from the Mass Trails Program and $10,000 from the Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Foundation, will review the existing trails and feasibility of creating new trails to connect two key multimodal paths. The meeting will focus on an overview of the project and discussion on key locations and design issues in the project area.
UPDATED Jan. 25: Arlington police and fire personnel responded at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 23, to a call of a person who had fallen through the ice at Spy Pond near Linwood Street -- the last of three rescues that day.
On arrival, police said they saw "multple crowds" skating.
Public safety officials were able to conduct a shoreline rescue using a lifeline. A police report said the Somerville resident, 53, was taken to a hospital.
Officers said they made several announcement for those remaining to leave the ice.
The next day, town resident Steve Morgan took this shot showing at least seven people on the ice. For more photos, see Facebook >>
Earlier that day, about 12:30 p.m., police responded to a report of a man falling through the ice. An officer ran about 100 yards on the ice to throw a rope to the person in the water, and with the help of others, was able to pull to safety a Cambridge man, 50, who said he had been skating.
16 residents displaced; fund-raiser draws $20,000
UPDATED Jan 25: Bridget Doyle, 88, has died and another woman was injured after an accidental fire in the seven-story Chestnut Manor early Saturday, Jan. 22, caused by an electric baseboard heater, which either malfunctioned or was in close proximity to combustible items. Officials identified the deceased woman on Monday, Jan. 24. Doyle's obituary >>
Doyle's death was the first in a residential in the state this year, Jake Wark, representing the state fire marshal, told YourArlington.
In a town news release, Fire Chief Kevin Kelley reports that the Arlington Fire Department responded to 54 Medford St., where a fire had started on the third floor. Fire officials were able to evacuate residents to a community room to keep them warm while crews suppressed the fire. The outside temperature at the time was 10 degrees.
WCVB, Channel 5, reported that a woman who lives on the third floor of the building called 911 at 4:06 a.m. and said a fire had broken out in her unit. Kelley said the fire spread, creating heavy flames and thick, black smoke inside the building.
Kelley told WCVB that a woman who lives in the unit where the fire started was transported to an area hospital for further medical evaluation. She is expected to be OK.
The fire chief added that another resident, a woman over the age of 65 who lives on the same floor, was found suffering from cardiac arrest in her unit. Emergency crews performed CPR at the scene and that woman was transported to an area hospital, where she later died of her injuries.
The victim's name was released Jan. 24 after her family was notified and she was formally identified by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
The Arlington Housing Authority (AHA) discussed its space-heater policy just days before a fire, suspected to have been sparked by an electric heater, ripped through a third-floor unit at Chestnut Manor, causing the death of one resident and injury to another.
The seven-story, 100-unit building – home to elderly and disabled Arlington residents – sustained significant smoke and water damage from the early-morning blaze on Saturday, Jan. 22, with 16 residents displaced while their units are cleaned and repaired.
A state investigation is ongoing into the cause of the blaze. According to the Town of Arlington's property records for Chestnut Manor, the building has radiant electric heat, which is typically hardwired and mounted along the baseboard walls. Wall-mounted units have a high heat output with low surface temperatures. It's not clear whether the fire was sparked from the building's fixed unit or a stand-alone, personal-use electric space heater.
Executive Director Jack Nagle wrote in an email to YourArlington that "we are actively working with the state and local agencies related to the fire. We are still waiting for a report from the Arlington Fire Department's Fire Prevention Office."
The housing authority commissioners and executive staff met that previous Tuesday, Jan. 18, for the first public board meeting of the new year, with Nagle leading the discussion including item #13 – Approval of Space Heater Policy.
Nagle stated that the Department of Housing and Community Development, the agency that oversees the state’s public-housing programs and local housing authorities, had put out guidance last year related to space heaters, citing findings that the “use of space heaters are a top cause of building fires and pose a serious risk for tenants and property.”
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