DERRY — Town councilors got their regular update on the community's efforts to battle coronavirus and also heard from several town boards about how the past year fared when it came to planning, zoning and supporting the town's conservation efforts.
At a meeting on Feb. 2, councilors also heard from Derry state Rep. Stephen Pearson, who came forward with a town proclamation to honor Derry native Alan B. Shepard, America's first man in space and also the fifth person to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 14 lunar mission in 1971.
As part of this year's 50th anniversary of Shepard's famed moon walk, complete with the golf shot on the lunar surface, the proclamation also included information on Shepard's past growing up locally, his high school years as part of Pinkerton Academy's Class of 1940 and his career path that led him toward space, first serving as a test pilot, a part of the original seven Mercury astronauts, his first shot into space in 1961 and then as he headed to the moon.
Pearson said Shepard was also the oldest astronaut to walk on the moon. Town Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores remarked she was living in Derry during a parade held to honor Shepard's efforts in space.
"I was there when he came, we had a parade," Katsakiores said. "He drove up and down Broadway in a convertible and waved to everybody."
Councilor Richard Tripp chimed in with "and then we became Spacetown."
In other Council business:
— The chairmen of several town boards — Conservation, Planning and Zoning — gave updates of their boards and how business was handled in past months due to the ongoing pandemic.
Conservation Commission Chairman James Degnan reported that conservation efforts continued on through the past year, albeit on a more virtual meeting schedule. He said it was not a normal year, but the goals of the Commission were kept moving forward.
That included working on the town land at Broadview Farm on Young Road. Degnan said with mowing, and other projects, the town-owned conservation land is doing well.
"The property came back extremely green and lush this fall," Degnan said.
He also credited another successful community garden last year. And an online site at trailfinder.info has information on several town properties including Broadview, Low and Doolittle.
John O'Connor reported that the Planning Board also had a busy year, considering projects and hosting workshops dealing with ordinances and allowed uses in various districts.
Zoning Board Chairman Lynn Perkins said his board was also kept busy and urged anyone interested in serving as an alternate member to reach out and get involved.
— Fire Chief Michael Gagnon gave his most recent coronavirus report, telling councilors that COVID cases "are going in the right direction."
As of the meeting on Feb. 2, Derry had dropped to 241 current cases of the virus; all adult care facilities in town were COVID-free and the vaccination efforts were moving forward.
He said the state is urging everyone to remain patient as the vaccine rollout continues. Gagnon added that Derry fire staff had been assisting at the Exit 4 vaccination site, alongside members of the National Guard.