Briefs

Recent headlines from Globe North.

Rockport

Rockport High students to play in All New England Jazz Band

Two members of the Rockport High jazz band have been selected to the All New England Jazz Band for 2015. Sophomore Jasper Williamson and junior Paul Fears were selected to play in the band, which wrapS up the All New England Jazz Festival March 24 at Plymouth State University. This will be Fears’ second year performing with the ensemble. “We are thrilled to be represented by two talented members at the New England Jazz Festival, and I’m looking forward to hearing them perform with other top high school jazz players,” Rockport Jazz Band director Anthony Covelli said in a prepared statement.

Somerville

Somerville establishes affordable housing group

The city of Somerville has established a group that will work to preserve and create affordable housing as part of Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone’s Sustainable Neighborhoods initiative. In October, Curtatone announced the initiative, an outline of steps to make the city a place where people of all income brackets can afford to live. The 29-member Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group will be co-chaired by Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang, who is also chairman of the Board of Aldermen’s Housing and Community Development Committee; Dana LeWinter, a former director of housing for the city; and other housing experts and community advocates, according to a statement from the city. In addition to affordable housing, the group will address the issue of middle-income housing for working families. For more information about the initiative, visit somervillema.gov .

Medford

Medford mayor proposes affordable housing ordinance

Residential developers in Medford would have to set aside some of their units as affordable under a proposed ordinance Mayor Michael J. McGlynn plans to submit soon to the City Council. The measure would apply to all housing projects with a specified number of units or above, a threshold not yet determined, according to Lauren DiLorenzo, Medford’s director of community development. At least 10 percent of the units in those projects would have to be affordably priced. Medford would join a number of other cities and towns to adopt so-called inclusionary zoning measures to expand their affordable housing stock. The city considered the idea several years ago, but opted not to pursue it at that time because of concerns it could hinder housing development in what was then a struggling real estate market. Instead, the city implemented a policy in which it negotiates with developers whose projects require variances from zoning rules to set aside 10 percent of their units as affordable. DiLorenzo said McGlynn’s objective in seeking an ordinance now is to “really make a statement to any developer coming to the city that we have a commitment to affordable housing, and to make the rules consistent and clear.”

Wilmington

New Wilmington High school opens

Wilmington students in grades 9 to 12 returned from their February break to a new high school. An official grand opening ceremony was held last Tuesday as students entered the new Wilmington High School for the first time. The new building, an $82,688,115 project that was under construction for about two years, replaced a school that was built in 1950 and renovated several times. The new high school features modern science labs, collaborative learning spaces, and a turf field. “We have a debt of gratitude to the community for supporting this project,” said Superintendent Mary C. DeLai, noting that many of the town residents who rallied behind it “had no children in the public schools but recognized that education is very important to this community.” Under the funding plan for the school, the Massachusetts School Building Authority is expected to pay about $38 million of the costs. The town is responsible for the remainder, which will be covered by a debt exclusion, a temporary increase in property taxes for the years it takes to pay off the loan.

Salem

Salem State may acquire Montserrat

Montserrat College of Art could soon become part of Salem State University. The two institutions announced last Monday that they are in formal discussions about the university’s potential acquisition of the private college of visual art and design in Beverly. Salem State president Patricia Maguire Meservey and Montserrat counterpart Stephen D. Immerman said in a joint statement that, after an initial and confidential review of the idea, “We are excited by the potentially significant benefits of such an integration.” The boards of trustees of both campuses have agreed to move forward to explore details of a potential merger, with a goal of having a final agreement in place by this July. The presidents said they were making the initiative public now to “bring both communities into the discussions necessary to more thoroughly consider all implications of this proposal.” Officials anticipate that if the agreement is finalized, the acquisition would be fully implemented by the 2017-2018 academic year. “Joining these two institutions,’’ Meservey said in a separate statement, “would bring together extraordinarily talented faculty and students from both programs . . . enhance opportunities for collaboration, and expand access to a broader array of artistic and student centered facilities on both Salem and Beverly campuses.’’

Everett

Everett mayor seeks linkage fee for developers

Everett is looking to require developers to help the city pay for the impacts of their projects. Mayor Carlo DeMaria has proposed that Everett charge an annual linkage fee to developers who are building, expanding, or substantially renovating commercial or large rental housing properties. The City Council recently embraced the plan by authorizing the city to seek special legislation to create a revolving fund for the linkage program. If the special act is approved, the mayor and the council would then work to craft an ordinance spelling out details of a linkage fee. DeMaria offered the proposal several years ago but failed to win support for it at the time from the then-bicameral City Council, which has since been replaced by a single council. Everett would join a number of other communities, including Boston, Medford, and Somerville, that have adopted a linkage fee. DeMaria, in a prepared statement, said such a fee would help ensure that “businesses looking to come into Everett will be invested in Everett for the long term.’’

Beverly

Beverly to start summer learning program

Beverly is initiating a free summer learning program to help students make a successful transition from kindergarten to first grade. The six-week program, mentioned by Mayor Michael P. Cahill in his recent State of the City address, is set to begin this summer with 40 to 60 incoming first-graders. The initiative, which the city is offering in partnership with the Greater Beverly YMCA and other business and community groups, is intended to boost the literacy skills of the participating students and head off summer learning loss. It will include a three-hour literacy program each morning, followed by lunch and traditional summer camp activities at the Sterling Center YMCA in the afternoons. The program is being funded with grant money and support from the community partners. The School Department has identified students it believes could benefit from the program and is inviting their parents to sign up. Cahill, in his speech, said he hopes to eventually extend the program to incoming second- and third-graders “to ensure grade literacy by third grade. This will greatly increase the chances for all of our students to succeed in school, moving forward. It will also provide teachers greater opportunity to hit the ground running each September with all their students.”

Lawrence

Lawrence credit rating upgraded

Moody’s Investors Service last month upgraded the city of Lawrence’s credit rating to A3 from Baa1. The upgrade marks the first time Lawrence has received an A-level rating from Moody’s since 1986. The upgrade to a more stable outlook validates the city’s financial recovery, officials said, and will directly impact residents. More favorable interest rates for municipal bond buyers will lessen the city’s overall annual debt amount, they added, freeing up budget dollars for public safety and infrastructure. The rating upgrade marks another step forward for the city since the appointment of a state fiscal overseer in 2010. Kate Reilly, a special assistant to Mayor Daniel Rivera, said Lawrence has stabilized its financial position through more conservative fiscal management and improved financial policies, resulting in a larger reserve and healthier cash flow position. “I want to recognize and thank all City of Lawrence employees and elected officials who played key roles in helping to achieve this success in both my administration and the previous one,” Rivera said in a statement. “Specifically, I want to recognize Mark Ianello, our budget and finance director, and former fiscal overseer Bob Nunes, who provided valuable guidance and leadership to the city in achieving this goal.”

Westford

Show canceled, but snow contest goes on in Westford

Because of the extreme cold and buildup of snow, the Westford Snow Building contest originally scheduled for this weekend has been canceled. But the Build at Home portion of the snow sculpture contest continues with the deadline extended to March 8. Contestants can submit photos of their creations to funfest@westford.com by midnight on that date. Please include the names of participants if their image is included in the photo. Families, friends, local businesses, and school groups may enter. There are four divisions: Children only; family/groups; adults/businesses; and Westford public schools and day care centers. If the sculptors are under age 18, parents/leaders name must be included. Winners will be announced later this month. Visit www.westford.com/funfest for guidelines, prizes, and samples of photos from past years.

Region

Nesting ospreys increase north of Boston

Nesting osprey pairs reached record levels north of Boston last year, according to a report by the Essex County Greenbelt Association. The land trust has run an osprey program for more than a decade, gathering information on nesting and migration activity, helping to build nesting platforms, tracking migrating juveniles by satellite, and following some via a camera focused on a nest. Volunteers have been monitoring ospreys since 2010, and have seen a steady increase from 11 pairs in 2010 to a record 30 nesting pairs in 2014. Including “renesting” attempts, volunteers found 33 nests. Seven nests were reported in Ipswich, four in both Essex and Salisbury; three in Rowley and Newbury; two in Saugus, Marblehead, Salem, Gloucester, and Newburyport; and one each in Beverly and Revere . David Rimmer, Greenbelt’s director of land stewardship, will present a program on ospreys for the Friends of the Belle Isle Marsh at St. John’s Episcopal Church Hall in Winthrop on March 15 at 2 p.m. To see the report online, go to www.ecga.org/writable/files/osprey2014progrsummaryprint.pdf.

West Newbury

Winter puts chill on Pentucket Regional School District budget

Having long ago overspent its $33,000 budget for snow removal, the Pentucket Regional School District is putting a big chill on its overall budget. Since the first in a series of snowstorms hit Jan. 27, the district serving West Newbury, Groveland, and Merrimac has hired workers to keep its facilities safe for students and employees, including removing 3,225 tons of snow from 215,000 square feet of roofs throughout the district and repairing an old water main that had burst. The total weather-related costs have not yet been tallied, but Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen said the district now faces a period of “fiscal conservatism” in all areas of its budget as it transfers funds to cover the cost of weather-related issues. He added that the district’s outdated facilities are also partly to blame for some of the financial overrun. “All of this labor comes at a tremendous cost,” Greg Labrecque, business administrator for the district, said in a release.

Burlington

Burlington considers alcohol sales at movie theater

Burlington is considering a proposal that would open the way for movie theaters in town to serve alcohol. AMC Burlington Cinema 10 is proposing the zoning change in order to serve alcohol at its location, according to Don Benjamin, the town’s senior planner. The measure as proposed – an amendment to the zoning bylaw that defines movie theaters — would apply to all theaters with eight or more screens. The AMC theater, at 20 South Ave., with 10 screens, is Burlington’s only current film house, Benjamin said. The Planning Board has scheduled a March 19 public hearing on the proposal, which would come before the annual town meeting in May. If the zoning amendment is adopted, AMC would still have to secure a liquor license from the town. The state Legislature last April approved special legislation allowing Burlington to grant an additional eight licenses for all alcoholic beverages to be drunk on premises. The licenses were set aside for specific areas in town, three of them for Burlington Mall, three for New England Executive Park, and two for 15-20 South Ave. No business has yet applied for the South Avenue licenses, according to the selectmen’s office.

Saugus

Saugus chooses new town manager

The Saugus Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 Thursday night to appoint Sean Fitzgerald of Peabody as the new town manager. He currently serves as town manager of Plaistow, N.H., and was formerly a top aide to then-Peabody mayor Michael Bonfanti. Fitzgerald was selected over former North Andover town manager Mark Rees and David Van Dam, a former Swampscott selectman who is currently chief of staff to Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini. Fitzgerald will replace Scott Crabtree, who was fired by the board in October and is suing the town for wrongful termination. The board's vote on Thursday came just hours after Essex Superior Court Judge Robert N. Tochka denied a request for an injunction to stop the board from making the appointment until after a March 17 special election to recall four of the five selectmen. Save Saugus, a political action group backing the recall, requested the injunction. Selectwoman Debra Panetta — who is not subject to the recall — was the only vote against Fitzgerald's appointment.

Region

State senators to tour North Shore businesses

Seven state senators from around the region have scheduled a daylong tour of businesses and municipalities around the North Shore on Monday. The Commonwealth Conversations Tour’ will wrap up with a public forum at Salvatore’s Restaurant and Function Facility, 354 Merrimack Street, Lawrence, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The event is part of a series of senate tours throughout the state. Democratic state senators Joan Lovely of Salem, Ken Donnelly of Arlington, Jason Lewis of Winchester, Tom McGee of Lynn, Kathleen O’Connor Ives of Newburyport, and Barbara L’Italien of Andover and Republican Minority Leader Bruce Tarr are scheduled to take the tour. Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst and other senators have also indicated that they will participate. For more on the tours, go to malegislature.gov/cc.

Gloucester

Cape Ann YMCA collects cans for those in need

Forty-three Cape Ann YMCA Team Leaders Club members collected 24,699 cans and non-perishable items for those in need — nearly two-thirds more than last year — plus approximately $5,000 in cash donations for its annual Rockathon, held in Gloucester last month. The event features club members and their adult advisers rocking in rocking chairs set up in a Gloucester storefront for 24 straight hours, with only a 10-minute break every hour. In 2014, the Rockathon collected 15,100 items prior to the event, with items earmarked for the Open Door Food pantry, St. Vincent De Paul Society, and directly to families and elders in need. “We are incredibly proud of each one of our Y teens for pushing through the tremendous discomfort in order to serve our community to provide, literally, thousands upon thousands of meals for folks and families in need,” said Rick Doucette, the Cape Ann Y’s executive director of teen and camp services. He said the event itself can be grueling, and in its latter stages “you truly get a sense of self-sacrifice.” The Gloucester City Council plans to formally recognize the club’s achievement at its March 10 meeting. Canned food and other donations are still being accepted, and more information about the club can be found at www.northshoreymca.org or by contacting Doucette at doucetter@northshoreymca.org.

Tyngsborough

Debt exclusions on Tyngsborough ballot next month

During next month’s town election, Tyngsborough voters will be asked to approve two debt exclusions, or temporary tax hikes, after Special Town Meeting approved requests to appropriate funding for a school project and road reconstruction. Special Town Meeting on Feb. 10 approved a warrant article seeking support to replace the roof and boiler at Tyngsborough High School. According to the School Committee, the project will not exceed $4,074,418 and is eligible for a grant of up to 52.89 percent, or roughly $2 million, from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. If the debt exclusion is approved at the ballot box, the project would add $53 per year for 10 years to the annual tax bill for the owner of an average single-family home assessed at $310,000. The second debt exclusion, to fund $1.6 million in road reconstruction and/or repairs, would add $79 per year for five years to the annual tax bill for the owner of an average single-family home.

Haverhill

Sculpture designs sought for Haverhill art walk

Attention, artists: your sculpture ideas are wanted. Team Haverhill and Pentucket Bank, in partnership with the Friends of the Bradford Rail Trail, are calling for designs for three-dimensional, original sculptures for an outdoor installation on the Art Walk at the rail trail in Haverhill. Submissions must be sent to ArtWalkBRT@teamhaverhill.org on or before Saturday. An artist may submit multiple designs for consideration. The rail trail is seeking to exhibit original open-air sculptures that engage visitors and celebrate the trail’s history and its significance to Haverhill’s development. Submissions should reflect Haverhill’s rich history, specifically the city’s rail and waterways, in keeping with the trail’s theme, All Aboard. For more information, including the complete Call to Artists package with selection criteria and other details, visit teamhaverhill.org/projects/arts/art-walk-at-the-bradford-rail-trail/.

Somerville

Developer promises to generate jobs in Somerville

The city’s master developer partner for Union Square presented its plan to bring 1,800 jobs to the area at a community meeting Feb. 11. Greg Karczewski, president of Union Square Station Associates, or US2, said in a phone interview that his firm aims to generate jobs by attracting companies that are innovating in fields like robotics, biotech, and the life sciences. Karczewski said younger employees are a substantial part of this workforce, and that US2 plans to transform Union Square into an environment that is welcoming to the 25- to 35-year-old population. He said bringing these workers to Union Square will also create a need for additional services. “There are going to be opportunities for more jobs across the spectrum, from a grocer, to a hairstylist, to a yoga instructor, to an attorney,” he said.

Lynnfield

Lynnfield considers bylaw protecting scenic roads

Lynnfield is weighing a proposed bylaw aimed at offering special protection to some of its scenic roads. The measure, proposed by the Tree Committee, is set to be taken up by the annual town meeting in April. It would establish the process for the town to designate scenic roads and the protections it could afford them, according to committee chairwoman Jane Bandini, whose group is a subcommittee of the Conservation Commission. A state law allows cities and towns to designate scenic roads, but communities need to adopt local rules governing the process, Bandini said. The proposed bylaw would also designate five initial scenic roads: Chestnut, Essex, Lowell, Main, and Summer streets. Following the state law, no cutting or removal of trees, or tearing down or destruction of stone walls, would be permitted within the public right of way of a scenic road without prior Planning Board approval. Bandini, who is set to brief selectmen on the proposal at their Monday meeting, said the five roads proposed for designation are the oldest in Lynnfield and reflect the town’s character. “They have stone walls and aesthetic value. Sometimes you don’t appreciate things till they are gone, and we don’t want to wait for them to be gone.”

Region

School district implements new emergency operations plan

Administrators in the Pentucket Regional School District and public safety personnel from the sending towns of Merrimac, West Newbury, and Groveland are implementing a new emergency operations plan and a real-time threat alert system. Merrimac Police Chief Eric Shears said that ramping up security at Pentucket has been part of an ongoing discussion between area police and fire chiefs and Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen since Mulqueen joined the district in 2012. The issue has been an important one nationally and in the state, which released a task force report on school safety and security in July 2014. Pentucket’s operations plan, which includes use of the threat-alert system COPsync911, was released in early February to school administrators and police and fire chiefs. A classroom version is also available for teachers and other district employees. “We designed a school security plan for Pentucket that will help administrators and staff members manage any emergency that arises,” Shears said in a release. “Our goal was to create a plan of action and adopt a set of tools that will make our school district a recognized leader in school safety.”

Melrose

Melrose police dog steps down

After more than seven years of valued service to the community, Melrose’s police dog has worked his last shift. K-9 Jony, an eight-year-old German shepherd, was recently retired because of an eye problem. The dog was born in Europe and brought to the United States when he was 10 months old. He remained with the Melrose Police Department from that time as its first and only police dog, partnering with his handler, Patrol Officer Joseph H. Donovan. The officer and K-9 together successfully tracked suspects and searched for narcotics in Melrose and other area communities. Jony was taken out of service due to an eye infection that developed into an inoperable detached retina and cataract in his right eye, which has threatened his vision and the eye itself. He will continue to be cared for by Donovan and his family during his retirement. “I could not have asked for a better partner over the past eight years,” Donovan said in a prepared statement. “Not only has he located missing persons, located suspects, and found illicit drugs trying to make their way into our community, but Jony has been a fixture in Melrose, meeting residents all over the city.”

Stoneham

Stoneham move advances bikeway plans

Plans to create a Tri-Community Bikeway and Greenway took another step forward recently with approval last month by Special Town Meeting to authorize the Stoneham Board of Selectmen to secure temporary construction easements needed for the project. The 6.63-mile multi-use trail is expected to wind through Stoneham, Woburn, and Winchester, providing residents a safe place to walk, ride, skate, or simply relax. The trail will begin in Stoneham at Gould Street near Recreation Park, wending its way down to Wedgemere Station in Winchester, with a spur over to Horn Pond in Woburn. Plans call for the trail to follow old rail lines and upgraded streets, and go through existing parks. The project has been allocated roughly $5.5 million in state and federal funding. For more information about the project, visit tricommunitygreenway.org.

Pentucket seeks solution to school days lost to snow

High school students at Pentucket have lost 10 days and middle school and elementary students have lost eight days this school year.

Region

Cape Ann winter birding weekend rescheduled

The sixth annual Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend, snowed out earlier this winter, has been rescheduled for Feb. 27 through March 1. Sponsored by the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and Mass. Audubon, the weekend caters to birders attracted by the wide variety and great number of winter shorebirds spotted each winter. The Elks at Bass Rocks at 101 Atlantic Road in Gloucester will serve as the event headquarters. Events are scheduled at various spots around the city, and several area hotels are offering discounted rates. Among the events – for all level of birders – is a nature artists’ workshop, featured speakers Robert Buchsbaum (Mass Audubon) and Jim MacDougall, a live owl presentation by Eyes on Owls (www.eyesonowls.com), an ocean-going bird-watching excursion aboard 7 Seas Whale Watch’s Privateer IV, and more. For more information, visit the Chamber website at www.capeannchamber.com.

Amesbury

Amesbury robotics team readies for March competition

Amesbury has founded its first robotics team, and the team intends to compete next month. Carriagetown Robotics plans to compete in the North Shore District FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics competition, scheduled for Reading High School March 7-8. The team is mentored by Amesbury resident and Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate Mark Obremski, a 20-year veteran of robotics competitions who believes such events can stimulate student interest in STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education. Obremski said in a release that the program “exposes students to real-world processes and encourages them to work together to solve complex problems with ambitious goals.” Amesbury Mayor Ken Gray, who founded his own robotics company, said in a release that he was inspired by the men and women of NASA, adding, “My hope is that some of our students can discover their own passions and future career paths as a result of their participation in the FIRST robotics competition.”

Salem

Salem waterfront park to be named after abolitionists

Mayor Kimberley L. Driscoll recently announced that the planned new waterfront park and open space along the former Salem/Beverly Bridge abutment would be named in honor of two Salem-born African-American abolitionists, the siblings Sarah Parker Remond and Charles Lenox Remond. According to city officials, Sarah Remond was a highly regarded abolitionist speaker in the 1850s who won a pivotal lawsuit against a Boston theater that had attempted to seat her in a segregated section during a performance. Charles Lenox Remond was one of the first African-Americans to be paid to lecture on the abolitionist circuit and was selected to serve as the American Antislavery Society’s official representative at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. Remond Park will transform a stretch of currently vacant asphalt into a fully landscaped public space, complete with benches, trees, a public harbor walk, and a fishing area. In the early 19th century the portion of the Bridge Street Neck near the park was home to a large population of African-Americans, including many sailors and others engaged in the city’s historic maritime trade. The state Department of Transportation is carrying out the $2 million project, which is expected to begin in the early spring.

Lawrence

State funding targets dangerous Lawrence intersection

Lawrence has received $95,000 in state funding to pay for planning and engineering work to complete a design plan for the reconstruction of the intersection of Lawrence and Park streets. Completion of the plan will allow Lawrence to receive $1.2 million from MassDOT to break ground on the project. “Governor Baker and his administration have done a great thing for the city of Lawrence,” Mayor Daniel Rivera said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe, noting that the additional Chapter 90 road funds released by Baker last month would allow Lawrence “to transform the most dangerous traffic intersection in our city into an intersection that boasts driver and pedestrian safety in one of the poorest census tracts in the state.” The accident rate for the intersection is approximately 2.5 times greater than the state average, according to the mayor’s office. Proposed improvements include reconstructing portions of Lawrence, Park, and Lexington streets, and realigning Bunkerhill Street. Pedestrian safety will also be addressed with sidewalk and wheelchair ramp reconstruction, pavement resurfacing, and the installation of a new traffic signal with pedestrian signals.

Woburn

Woburn to hire staffer to fight substance abuse

In a fresh bid to combat the growing problem of opiate abuse, Woburn plans to hire a substance abuse task force coordinator. The City Council recently approved an ordinance proposed by Mayor Scott D. Galvin to create the part-time position. Galvin said the initiative was spurred by the epidemic of heroin and other opiate addiction that has hit this region and other parts of Massachusetts and the nation. “The whole of Middlesex County has been hit very hard,” he said. Woburn held several forums on the topic last year but has not had a sustained program in place. “I think this will be a good thing for the community and a good place to start,” Galvin said. The coordinator will be responsible for assembling a task force and working with it to educate the community about the problem of opiate and other drug abuse, devise other prevention strategies, and assist individuals and families to obtain treatment services. The council is reviewing a $13,000 spending request from the mayor to fund the position from April through June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Galvin said he would include funding in his fiscal 2016 budget to continue the job for the upcoming year.

Somerville

Help shape future of Somerville’s Union Square

The deadline for applications to serve on the Union Square Civic Advisory Committee has been extended to Friday, the city said in a prepared statement. The committee formed last year to advise the city on development and planning decisions in the Union Square area, such as job creation, transportation, and preservation of the square’s character. The city is seeking applicants whose skills may include fiscal analytics, emerging economic sectors expertise, knowledge of diversity in the local population, and more. Community members interested in serving are asked to submit a short letter of intent and resume by mail to Amanda Maher, senior economic development specialist, 93 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA 02145, or by e-mail to amaher@somervillema.gov. Applicants must also include their phone number and e-mail address.

Andover

Robb fills Andover School Committee vacancy until election

The Andover Board of Selectmen and the School Committee have jointly appointed Don Robb to the School Committee to fill a short-term vacancy. Robb, of York Street, fills the seat vacated by state Senator Barbara L’Italien, who resigned her School Committee seat effective Jan. 1 to assume her new role on Beacon Hill. Robb, who has served on both the School Committee and Finance Committee in the past, was selected to fill L’Italien’s vacated post by unanimous vote. He will serve on the School Committee until the town election, when voters will elect a new member to complete the one year remaining on L’Italien’s term. The town election is scheduled for March 24.

Revere

Revere residents asked to assess health needs

Revere residents are invited to offer their input into an effort to determine the city’s most pressing community health needs. A new community health survey is now available online through the city’s website, www.revere.org, and in paper form at the public library and local organizations. According to Susan Leahy, spokeswoman for Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Community Health Improvement, the Quality of Life survey is part of an overall assessment of Revere’s community health needs being conducted by the center and Revere CARES, a community health coalition supported by the center, in partnership with the city and local organizations. As a nonprofit hospital, Mass. General is required under federal law to conduct such health assessments every three years in the communities it serves. MGH, which maintains a health care center in Revere, conducted its last assessment in 2012. It identified substance use disorders and obesity as the community’s top two health concerns. It also highlighted the need to expand services for young people, encourage healthy relationships, prevent violence, and enhance public safety. Revere CARES adopted several new initiatives in response to that assessment, including the formation of after-school youth development groups in its middle schools.

Stoneham

Stoneham downtown merchants forming new group

The Stoneham Chamber of Commerce is forming a Downtown Merchants Group in response to a key recommendation of a recently completed strategic action plan for the town’s center. Chamber vice president Christian Senna of C&S Capital Properties has been named to head the effort for the chamber and Stoneham’s Town Center Advisory Committee. The new merchants group will address the strategic action plan’s goal of building “organizational capacity in Stoneham’s Town Center to advocate for continued revitalization and stronger growth.” The strategic action plan was developed last year, a year after Town Administrator David Ragucci secured state funding for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to develop it. The Stoneham Town Center Advisory Committee was formed with local officials, residents, business leaders, and other stakeholders, and launched a six-month collaborative planning process. The result is a vision for the town’s historic center and accompanying goals and strategies for revitalizing it. As it launches this new merchants group, the chamber welcomes suggestions and invites participation. To learn more or to get involved in the effort, contact the chamber at 781-438-0001.

Burlington election season swings into gear

The annual town election season is now in full swing in Burlington. Voters will be filling 15 townwide positions at this year’s election, which is set for April 11. The deadline to obtain nomination papers is Feb. 19 and to return them Feb. 23. Among the 15 seats up for election are two on the Board of Selectmen and one on the School Committee. The other positions on the ballot are moderator; three seats on the Planning Board; two seats apiece on the library trustees, the Board of Health, and the Board of Assessors, and one seat apiece on the Shawsheen Valley Regional Vocational Technical School Committee and the Recreation Commission. In the case of two of the seats, one on the Board of Assessors and one on the Planning Board, voters will elect someone to fill out the remainder of the terms of members who resigned. Those seats were both filled temporarily by appointment. Also on tap will be the election of 44 town meeting members, including 42 to fill regular three-year terms and two to fill seats vacated by retirement, both in Precinct 7. A minimum of 50 certified signatures is required to earn a spot on the ballot for a townwide seat, and 10 for a town meeting seat.

Saugus recall ballot is set

The ballot is now set for the special election that Saugus is holding next month on whether to recall four of the town’s five selectman. The four board members facing recall are chairwoman Ellen Faiella, vice chairwoman Maureen Dever, and members Paul Allan and Steven Castinetti. The March 17 ballot will contain eight questions. Four of them ask whether each of Faiella, Dever, Allan, and Castinetti should be recalled. The other four ask who should fill the seats in the event the recalls are successful. Nine candidates in all recently turned in nomination papers to run for the seats, including all four of the incumbents, according to town clerk Ellen Schena. The other contenders are Jennifer D’Eon, Arthur Grabowski, Jeffrey Cicolini, and Scott Brazis, each of whom filed papers to run for all four of the seats; and Mark Mitchell, who is running for Castinetti’s seat only. Grabowski is a School Committee member. The recall election was called as a result of a successful petition filed by residents unhappy with the board’s firing of then-town manager Scott Crabtree last October. Mitchell, D’Eon, Cicolini, and Brazis were all active with Save Saugus PAC, a residents’ group. The fifth member of the board of selectmen, Debra Panetta, is not facing recall.

New library opens in Somerville, filled with tools

A lending library from which residents can borrow tools is opening this month in Somerville. For a yearly membership fee, residents of Somerville and surrounding communities can borrow up to seven items per week from a growing collection of power and hand tools, according to the Somerville Tool Library’s website. Membership costs $50 a year and borrowers must be at least 18 years old. The library is at 577 Somerville Ave., inside the Parts and Crafts Collective, which runs creative arts, science, and engineering programs for children and adults. For more information, visit somervilletoollibrary.com/, or e-mail somervilletoollibrary@gmail.com.

Stoneham

First Stoneham Restaurant Week to be held in March

The Stoneham Chamber of Commerce plans to hold its first Stoneham Restaurant Week. The event, which is scheduled to take place March 8-14, offers local restaurants an opportunity to showcase their menus, introduce new culinary items, and attract new customers who wish to explore the local dining scene. It will be open to all of the town’s eating establishments, and as restaurants sign up to participate, a growing list of promotions will be maintained at stonehamchamber.org. Diners are encouraged to visit the site regularly for details. “Stoneham has a thriving and diverse restaurant scene, and what an exciting way to showcase it!” chamber president Carolyn Lassiter of Excelsior Realty Group said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe.

Winchester

Winchester to hold meeting on rezoning

Local leaders are seeking public input as they shape the future of Winchester Town Center. The town’s planning board is scheduled to hold its first community conversation to discuss the rezoning of the Center Business District in a session slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Winchester Town Hall, 71 Mount Vernon St. The goal of the rezoning effort is to improve Winchester Town Center, an area “that functions as the heart of the community and is consistently identified as one of Winchester’s most important assets,” according to the Winchester Town Center website. The planning board has finished its draft of the rezone, which seeks to address several issues that were identified during the town’s master planning process, including the need for more residential housing there, its limited parking, and outdated zoning and building codes. The town is working with Great Neighborhoods, a community development program of the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, to improve the center’s vitality and sustainability. For more information on the rezoning effort, visit winchestertowncenter.com.

Salem making plans for charter school

The Salem school district is making plans for enrolling students in its proposed new Bentley Academy Charter School even as it awaits an anticipated Feb. 24 vote by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on whether to award the charter. School Superintendent Stephen Russell said he is cautiously optimistic the state board will approve the charter, which would convert the existing Bentley School to a 275-student kindergarten-to-5th-grade Horace Mann charter school, developed with input from the district and funded directly by it. Russell said the state is requiring that the district enroll students on an “opt in” basis. Under it, existing Bentley students will need to indicate if they want to remain in the school, and incoming kindergarten students and any students from other city schools would have to seek placement through a lottery. The city had envisioned the potential of an “opt-out” system under which all Bentley students would have been automatically enrolled in the school unless their parents objected. The city contracted this year to have two organizations, Blueprint and Empower, run the third to fifth grades at Bentley, which is currently designed by the state as a Level 4 underperforming school. Should the charter be granted, Blueprint and Empower are expected to manage the entire school.

Gloucester

Ex-Gloucester fisherman named state fish and game boss

Former state representative George N. Peterson Jr., who has worked as a commercial fisherman based out of Gloucester and once ran a wholesale-retail seafood business, was recently appointed to serve as the state’s Department of Fish and Game commissioner. “As an avid outdoorsman and former commercial fisherman,’’ Matthew Beaton, the state energy and environmental affairs secretary, said in a prepared statement, “George will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a unique understanding of the issues most important to sportsmen and commercial fishermen across the Commonwealth.’’ Peterson, who lives in Grafton, served in the House from 1995 to this year representing the Ninth Worcester District, serving as both minority whip and assistant minority leader.

Region

Water main break closes Pentucket Regional High

A Feb. 1 water main break at the Pentucket Regional High School forced the closure of the high school through this past Wednesday, and prompted Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen to vocalize his concerns about facility needs impacting the district’s budget. This is the third break in the same water line over a seven-year period, said Mulqueen, who noted that the school, built in the 1950s, had already seen $178,500 in repairs this school year, $80,000 more than what was budgeted. “The exponential rise in repairs to the high school is taking valuable funds away from our educational programs and is an inefficient use of public funds,” said Mulqueen, who said maintenance workers have had to deal with a gas leak, an electrical short cirtcuit in the gym, a ventilation problem in the lab, and leaky water pipes, all since September. “Pentucket’s educational programming is innovative and contemporary,’’ said Mulqueen, “outpacing the capacity of the facility.”

Rockport

Rockport High School debuts at Berklee High School Jazz Festival

Rockport High School made an impressive debut at the 47th annual Berklee High School Jazz Festival, the largest such festival in the country, which was held late last month. Competing for the first time, Rockport’s Jazz Ensemble 1 finished seventh in its category, and sophomore vocalist Kiva Trumbour won both an Outstanding Musicianship Award and a Judge’s Choice Award. The event drew approximately 3,000 musicians and 181 competing ensembles from 133 high schools. “I’m very proud of the accomplishments of our group and especially Kiva,” ensemble director Anthony Covelli said in a release. “She took her performance to the next level and was absolutely astonishing.” The jazz ensemble’s next performance is scheduled as part of Rockport’s annual Senior Night at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, on March 6 at 7 p.m.

Tyngsborough

Tyngsborough to hold Special Town Meeting

Tyngsborough has scheduled a Special Town Meeting for Tuesday, beginning at 7 p.m. in the cafetorium at Tyngsborough Elementary School, 205 Westford Road. Voters will be asked to consider 13 warrant articles, including one that seeks to replace the roof and boiler at Tyngsborough High School. According to the School Committee, the project will not exceed $4,074,418 and is eligible for a grant of up to 52.89 percent from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. If the town supports the article at Special Town Meeting with at least a two-thirds vote, the issue will be placed on the town ballot next month. The town’s share of the funding would require a debt exclusion, or temporary tax hike, that lasts only as long as the debt. According to town officials, the project would add $53 per year for 10 years to the annual tax bill for the owner of an average single-family home assessed at $310,000. Other articles include a proposal to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to provide for the preservation and creation of affordable housing; a request to appropriate $1.6 million for road reconstruction and/or repairs; and one to transfer $123,662 from available funds to the school department budget for the fiscal year ending June 30. To view the warrant in its entirety, visit tyngsboroughma.gov .

Region

Ives to chair Senate committee on community development, small business

State Senator Kathleen O’Connor Ives was recently appointed as Senate chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses. Ives also was named vice chairwoman of the Senate’s Committee on Personnel and Administration, and is a standing member of the senate’s Committee on Steering and Policy and the joint committees on Financial Services, Higher Education, Consumer Protection, and Professional Licensure. A former Newburyport city councilor, she represents the First Essex District, which includes Amesbury, Haverhill, Methuen, Merrimac, Newburyport, Salisbury, and a portion of North Andover. “This is a great opportunity to oversee meaningful legislation that will impact my district,” Ives said in a preared statement, referring to chairing the community development and small businesses committee. “I look forward to serving in this capacity in the new legislative term, knowing that small businesses play a critical role in the success of our local economy and economic development statewide.”

Malden

Public meeting to be held on development of former Malden Hospital site

Malden residents have an opportunity to learn more about the updated plan by Fellsmere Housing Group to acquire and redevelop the former Malden Hospital site. The city is holding a public meeting on the plan at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Beebe School auditorium, 401 Pleasant St. Fellsmere Housing Group proposes to purchase the hospital site from Hallmark Health System and redevelop it into a mix of residential uses, including assisted living apartments, conventional apartments, condominium units, and single-family cottages. The firm has made some revisions to the plan in response to issues raised by residents at a meeting in December. Wednesday’s meeting is being organized by Mayor Gary Christenson, City Council president John Matheson, and councilors at large Craig Spadafora, David D’Arcangelo, and Debbie DeMaria. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., city officials and residents will discuss the updated plan. Starting at 6:30 p.m., Fellsmere representatives will talk about the plan.

Gloucester

Gloucester receives creative community award

The Massachusetts Cultural Council will recognize Gloucester’s efforts to promote arts and culture with the 2015 Commonwealth Award in the Creative Community category. The Commonwealth Awards, which honor exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities, and sciences, will be presented at a State House ceremony on Feb. 24. “Gloucester is extremely proud of its fishing identity and maritime heritage,” said Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken. “We are equally proud to be recognized as a community that promotes and supports arts, culture, and the important contributions that artists make to our growing creative economy.”

Boxford

Boxford library to be located at Town Hall

By a 3-2 vote, the Boxford Board of Selectman has decided to move the library to an expanded space in Town Hall. Town officials had been trying to determine the best spot to temporarily relocate the library since its historic home at 10 Elm St. was closed on Dec. 12 because of air quality concerns. The Town Hall location will include 4,700 square feet of space, and require the reorganization of several town offices.

Tewksbury

Tewksbury shelves all-day kindergarten plans, for now

Citing budget concerns for the 2015-2016 school year, Superintendent John E. O’Connor recently told the School Committee that efforts to develop a free full-day kindergarten program had to be shelved. “We are experiencing significant increases in special-education tuition and transportation costs that will seriously impact next year’s budget,” O’Connor said in a Jan. 23 message posted on the district website. The superintendent was quick to add that the increases are not expected to impact this year’s budget, saying that the district’s reserve funds “will offset the rise in tuition and transportation costs for the 2014-2015 school year.” Despite the setback, O’Connor said he remains optimistic that the school system will resume its exploration of free full-day kindergarten once the budget issues have been addressed.

Somerville

New state commission will zero in on Mystic River

The state is providing a fresh boost to the effort to improve the cleanliness of the Mystic River. Legislation establishing a Mystic River Water Quality Commission was signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick in the final weeks of the last legislative session, according to the bill’s chief sponsors, state Representative Denise Provost and state Senator Pat Jehlen, both Somerville Democrats. The commission will study the feasibility of bringing the river’s water quality up to a level that would be consistently safe enough for fishing, boating, and swimming. It will also examine potential health risks from exposure to the water in its current condition, methods to improve the water quality, and what areas along the river might be used for recreation. How to enhance the Mystic River environment has been a focus of attention among local communities, the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Mystic River Watershed Association, and other nonprofits, developers, and private citizens. “This commission will bring important new attention and resources to support restoration of the Mystic River Watershed, a vital natural resource for more than 500,000 residents of 22 Mystic River communities,” EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, executive director of the watershed association, said in a prepared statement. He called the initiative well-timed, given an increaase in private development along the waterway.

Everett

Everett’s Shute Library reopens Saturday

Everett is inviting residents to help celebrate the grand reopening Saturday of the newly expanded and renovated Shute Memorial Library.The event begins at noon with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, followed by a speaking program and a reception. Tours of the building, as well as activities for children, will be offered. The city is seeking old photos of the Shute to display at the opening. Anyone who would like to loan one for the occasion should contact Alyson Dell Isola at 617-394-2454. The Shute, at 781 Broadway, is Everett’s branch library. The main facility – Parlin Library – is at the other end of the city, at 410 Broadway. The approximately $4 million project involved constructing a 1,370-square-foot addition that gives the Shute a new, fully accessible, street-level main entrance. The existing 7,210-square-foot building also saw an updating of its mechanical systems, an expansion of the children’s room, and the addition of a meeting room.

Lawrence

Haverhill deputy nominated as Lawrence fire chief

Following a five-month, nationwide search process by a nine-member search committee, Mayor Daniel Rivera last Monday announced his nomination of Brian Moriarty as the city’s next fire chief. The candidacy of Moriarty, a Haverhill senior deputy fire chief and Air Force veteran, has been submitted to the City Council for review and confirmation. If confirmed, he would bring to Lawrence more than 30 years of experience in fire service and 27 years as a paramedic. In a statement e-mailed to the Globe, Rivera called Moriarty a proven leader. Moriarty began his firefighting career in 1980 as a crash and structural firefighter for the Air Force, and, upon his retirement from military service, joined the Haverhill Fire Department as a firefighter in 1987. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1993; captain in 1998; deputy fire chief of fire prevention in 2003; and to his current position in 2010. Over the course of his career, Moriarty has received numerous awards, including Firefighter of the Year in 1995, Citation of Valor in 2003, and Paramedic of the Year in 2013.

Winthrop

Winthrop school construction underway

Construction of a new Middle/High School in Winthrop reached a milestone when the first steel beams were recently erected. The $80.2 million project involves building a new 187,917-square-foot school building on what was until recently the Main Street site of the high school. To accommodate the project, the district implemented a temporary plan this past fall. The Pauline Street building that served as the middle school now houses the high school and the eighth grade. The sixth and seventh grades are occupying part of the Cummings Elementary School, while the third grade is at the Gorman Fort Banks Elementary School. The project, which broke ground last June, began with demolition of the old high school, followed by site preparation for the new one, said Mary Lou Osborne, co-chairwoman of the School Building Committee, who added that the steel beams provide the first visible sign of the building to come. The Massachusetts School Building Authority is reimbursing the town for 60 percent of the project’s eligible costs, or up to $42.5 million. Voters in 2013 approved a debt exclusion, or temporary tax increase, to pay the town’s share of the project. The new school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

Westford

Changes to trash collection in Westford

Acting on a recommendation from the town’s Recycling Commission, the Westford Board of Selectmen has voted to reduce the limit on the number of bags/barrels that may be collected weekly from each household. The new limit of three trash receptacles, down from the current limit of five, will go into effect Feb. 1. The selectmen also voted to reduce the price of bulk item stickers from $10 to $5, a change that also will go into effect Feb. 1. The bulk item stickers are required to dispose of items too large to fit in a barrel, such as carpeting and furniture. And finally, selectmen are recommending that residents purchase containers no larger than 32 gallons when they need to replace their trash bins. For more information, visit the Westford Recycling Commission website at westfordma.gov.

Haverhill

Haverhill group seeks to transform vacant school into arts center

Organizers of an initiative to transform the vacant Cogswell School on South Main Street in the village of Bradford into a vibrant community arts center are seeking public support for their bid to purchase the century-old property. The city requested proposals for the property late last year and received two responses, one for high-density housing and the other from the the Cogswell Art Center Committee. The committee’s bid includes a three-year, lease-to-purchase agreement with a “ticking calculation” that increases the purchase price each year. “We wanted to show that we had incentive to close on the property as soon as possible,” said Danielle Smida, a member of the Reinvent Cogswell Initiative. The group plans to apply for grant funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to acquire the building; however, the application can not be submitted until a purchase-and-sale agreement is signed. The Cogswell Art Center Committee has started an online petition at Change.org to show the city that the group’s proposal has community support. To date, the petition has garnered more than 600 signatures. To learn more, or to sign the petition, visit change.org/p/city-of-haverhill-support-reinvent-cogswell.

Cape Ann

Cape Ann birding weekend starts Friday

The sixth annual Cape Ann Winter Birding Weekend is scheduled for Friday to next Sunday. The Elks at Bass Rocks, 101 Atlantic Road, Gloucester, will serve as the event’s headquarters. Cape Ann is recognized worldwide for its concentration of winter seabirds, and each year the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, along with Mass Audubon and several other sponsors, schedules a series of events for all levels of birders. This year’s events include a nature artists’ workshop, featured speakers Robert Buchsbaum (Mass Audubon) and Jim MacDougall, a live owl presentation by Eyes on Owls (www.eyesonowls.com), and an ocean-going bird-watching excursion aboard 7 Seas Whale Watch’s Privateer IV. For more information, visit the chamber website at www.capeannchamber.com.

Everett

Everett residents required to shovel sidewalks

Everett is requiring property owners to do their part to keep the city’s sidewalks clear of snow. The City Council recently approved a mandatory snow shoveling ordinance that will be effective starting Wednesday for a two-year trial period. Under the measure, which was proposed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria, owners of residential, business, and all other properties abutting a paved sidewalk would be required to shovel that sidewalk when it snows. Included would be properties owned by the state, city, nonprofits, and houses of worship. Those failing to comply will receive warnings for the first two offenses, a fine of $25 for the third offense, and a $50 fine for each subsequent offense. “Not removing the snow can cause a very real danger to pedestrians, especially the elderly and children walking to school,” DeMaria said in a prepared statement, citing also the need to ensure that public safety crews have unimpeded access to homes during emergencies. “We are confident that the trial period will allow us to test the effectiveness and fairness of a snow shoveling ordinance so that we can establish a real solution to the issue.” The ordinance exempts those who are unable to shovel because of a disability, and elderly residents who qualify for senior tax exemptions.

Saugus

Saugus moves toward funding for school building project

Saugus has cleared an initial hurdle in its bid for state funding for a high school building project. The Massachusetts School Building Authority recently voted to accept the school into its “eligibility period,” the initial phase in the agency’s capital funding pipeline. The vote begins a 270-day period during which the district must meet preliminary requirements to become eligible for an invitation to undertake a feasibility study. The town is proposing to construct a new school to replace the existing building, which was opened in 1954. But following requirements of the school building authority, the town would be required in a feasibility study to examine a whole range of options for addressing the school’s physical needs. From that analysis, the town would select a preferred option. “The eligibility period is a critical step in the [authority’s] process of evaluating potential work on Saugus High School,” Jack McCarthy, the agency’s executive director, said in a statement. “We look forward to our continued partnership with the district as it enters the eligibility period.”

Somerville

Repair work at Somerville rail bridges to start

Repair work at rail bridges will start this month in preparation for the Green Line Extension project, which will bring several new stops to Somerville. The city said in a prepared statement that construction on the Broadway Bridge in Ball Square, which is expected to last until May, will require closing the southbound vehicle and bicycle travel lane as well as the sidewalk. Two-way vehicle travel will be possible in narrower lanes. A schedule of work sites and dates can be found at www.somervillema.gov/alerts/detours-and-construction-updates, or by calling 311. Residents and businesses in the affected areas will be notified if street closures or other disruptions may be expected. To sign up for alerts, visit www.somervillema.gov.

Winchester

Winter farmers market open in Winchester

Mahoney’s Garden Center at 242 Cambridge St. in Winchester is hosting its annual winter farmers market. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through March 14. Shoppers will find a selection of fresh farm produce and goods crafted by local artisans under the cover of warm greenhouses. Staples at the winter market include root vegetables, herbs, fruits, cheeses, meats, granola, seafood, breads, and wines, as well as a variety of soaps and handmade jewelry. For a complete list of vendors and dates, visit MahoneysGarden.com/winter-market. Mahoney’s also will have gardening experts on hand to answer any indoor gardening questions. For more information, visit mahoneysgarden.com or call 781-729-5900.

Malden

ABCD takes over heating assistance in Greater Malden

A Boston antipoverty agency is inviting residents from seven area communities to apply for fuel assistance this winter. Action for Boston Community Development recently assumed administration of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that serves thousands of families and seniors in Malden, Medford, Everett, Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester, and Woburn. The program had until now been offered in those seven communities by Malden-based Tri-City Community Action Program. But because Tri-CAP is facing financial difficulties, the state asked ABCD to take over management of the program in the Malden area, according to officials from the Boston agency. The ABCD, which traditionally provides fuel assistance to about 20,000 households in Boston, Brookline, and Newton, expects to serve about 6,000 households in Greater Malden. “We urge our neighbors in these towns north of Boston who need help with their heating bills or are running out of oil to seek assistance right away,” John J. Drew, president and CEO of ABCD, said in a prepared statement. Residents of the seven Greater Malden communities can get fuel assistance by applying in person at ABCD Malden at 110 Pleasant St. between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or by calling 781-322-6284. They can also call that number to schedule appointments to fill out the form at designated sites in the six other communities.

Gloucester

New Gloucester mayor names chief administrative officer

Gloucester’s new mayor, Sefatia Romeo Theken, recently appointed James Destino as the city’s chief administrative officer. Destino is a former City Council president and longtime business owner in Gloucester. He replaced Sal DiStefano Sr., who was appointed to the vacant economic development director position. Romeo Theken become Gloucester’s mayor via a unanimous City Council vote Jan. 8, after Carolyn Kirk left to become the state’s undersecretary for economic development.

Burlington

AAA Burlington office expanding Registry services

Members of AAA Southern New England will soon be able to conduct some of their Registry of Motor Vehicle business at the AAA office in Burlington. The state Department of Transportation is expanding from six to 12 the number of AAA locations in the state that provide certain Registry of Motor Vehicle services. Seven offices in all are being added to the list, but one in Boston has dropped the service, for a net gain of six. The Southern New England group is providing the services at 10 of its offices, while Pioneer Valley AAA is offering it at two others. The AAA Burlington office, at 34 Cambridge St., will begin offering Registry services in the next month and a half. Frank DePaola, acting secretary of the state Department of Transportation, said, “Essentially doubling the Registry transactions offered and doubling the locations greatly increases our reach to our thousands of mutual customers.” The Registry services offered include renewing or getting a duplicate license or ID card; registering passenger vehicles or commercial vehicles under 55,000 pounds; vehicle registration amendments and transfers, and obtaining duplicate titles. For a complete list, go to www.aaa.com/registry.

Billerica

Billerica School Committee considers reconfiguring grades

The Billerica School Committee is seeking public input as it considers whether to alter the existing grade configuration of the town’s public schools in conjunction with a high school building project. The potential change would involve building a high school that houses grades 8-12 and creating physical separation between the younger students in it (grades 8-9) and older ones (grades 10-12), according to a statement released by Superintendent Timothy G. Piwowar. If the change is implemented, it would require Billerica’s middle schools to become grade 5-7 buildings, while the elementary schools would house students in kindergarten through grade 4. The School Committee has scheduled three public forums to discuss the potential changes. They are scheduled for Jan. 28; Feb. 26; and March 17. All three forums are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Billerica Town Hall Auditorium at 365 Boston Road. The School Committee at its March 23 meeting is expected to decide whether grade configuration changes should be made.

Everett

Council appoints Mangan to fill vacant seat

The Everett City Council last Monday appointed Michael J. Mangan to fill a vacant councilor-at-large seat after a judge rejected a bid by another contender, Joseph P. Marchese, to block the move. The vote was 10-0 with Ward 3 Councilor Michael K. Marchese, who is Joseph Marchese’s brother, absent from the meeting, according to city clerk Michael Matarazzo. The seat became vacant when Joseph McGonagle resigned last month as a result of his election as a state representative in November. Mangan was the first runner-up for councilor-at-large in 2013, finishing sixth in the race for five seats; Joseph Marchese, who like Mangan is a former alderman, finished seventh. The city charter requires the council to fill a vacancy with the runner-up in the previous election within 30 day, as long as the person received at least 20 percent of the the ballots cast. In the 2013 race, Mangan tallied 2,096 votes, and Marchese, 1,479 votes, with 7,379 ballots cast. Marchese filed suit and sought a preliminary court injunction to halt the appointment of Mangan and require himself to be appointed instead, on the grounds that Mangan agreed to pay $8,000 to the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance after an audit identified multiple violations of state campaign finance law. But a Middlesex Superior Court judge recently denied the injunction request, opening the way for Mangan’s appointment.

Reading

Reading police lieutenant retires

Reading Police Lieutenant Richard Robbins has retired. A member of the local police force for 31 years, he had been the department’s executive officer for the past seven years, according to Deputy Chief Mark D. Segalla. During his tenure, Robbins made many connections in the community. On Jan. 5, his last official day with the department, Robbins’ friends and colleagues gathered in the department’s community room to celebrate his many years of service to the town. In his retirement, Robbins looks forward to more time for gardening.

Medford

Medford office building to be overhauled

The Davis Companies has acquired the Medford office building One Cabot Road and plans a major overhaul of the facility, the Boston-based real estate firm recently announced. Constructed in 1989, the 308,946-square-foot structure is next to the Wellington Circle MBTA station. The firm said it planned a full upgrade of the building’s mechanical systems and common areas. The five-story property is currently 90 percent leased with tenants that include Agero, Expedient, Partners Healthcare, and First Marblehead Corp. In addition to office space, it features a cafeteria, a fitness facility, and parking that includes 170 covered executive spaces. It is also a five-minute walk from the MBTA station and adjacent to the Wellington Greenway, a 2-mile path along the Mystic River. “We’ve seen growing demand from tenants for amenity-rich office solutions that are close to Boston and Cambridge and readily accessible to public transportation,” Quentin Reynolds, the Davis Companies’ managing director of acquisitions, said in a statement. “We believe One Cabot has genuine appeal to a wide array of tenants being priced out of Cambridge, the Financial District, and the Seaport, as well as from those tenants wanting to move into the city from the suburbs.”

Swampscott

Vacant Swampscott buildings are focus of forum

A public forum Jan. 28 will focus on what to do with four vacant buildings owned by the town of Swampscott. The properties are the former police station and former senior center, both on Burrill Street; the Machon School on Burpee Road; and the Greenwood Avenue School. According to Town Planner S. Peter Kane, the meeting is planned as a brainstorming session at which attendees can bounce ideas and other input off one another. The forum is scheduled for the cafeteria at Swampscott High School, 200 Essex St., from 7 to 9 p.m. For information, call 781-596-8829.

Somerville

Somerville offers energy efficiency survey

Somerville residents who are interested in making their homes more energy-efficient are asked to take a brief online survey on the city’s website. Answers from the survey will inform potential programs that would offer residents options for solar energy and other ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the city said in a statement. The survey will be available at somervillema.gov/solarsurvey through Feb. 21. The city has also announced its search for a residential weatherization energy management partner to help oversee energy-efficiency improvements on that front. For more information, contact program manager Russell Koty at 617-625-6600 ext. 2568,or e-mail RKoty@somervillema.gov.

Salem

Salem’s Tucker to collect $85k as he moves from police to State House

Newly sworn-in state Representative Paul F. Tucker, who retired as Salem’s police chief Dec. 31 in order to assume his seat as a state representative, will receive $85,842 for unused vacation, sick, and holiday time from his nearly 32-year tenure with the Police Department. The money was owed to Tucker as a result of contractual obligations, according to Lisa B. Cammarata, the city’s human resources director. The City Council recently appropriated $80,694 from the city’s retirement stabilization fund to cover his sick and vacation buyback pay, calculated from 52.5 vacation days and 90 sick days. Tucker is also receiving $5,148 for unused holiday pay through the police department budget. Tucker served as chief beginning in Oct. 1, 2009. The Salem Democrat was elected last November to represent the 7th Essex House district. “This was a benefit when I started 32 years ago; they laid out the benefits and this was one of them,” Tucker said. “I’ve been very fortunate I’ve been healthy. I left with several hundred sick days on the books and got paid for 90 of them,” referring to the maximum he was eligible for in a buyback. “The rest of the check is vacation and holidays; everyone gets that.”

Ipswich

2 selectmen seats on ballot in Ipswich town election

There will be two seats on the ballot for selectman at this year’s annual Ipswich town election — one for a full three-year term and another to fill the unexpired term of Shirley Berry, who is leaving in May. Berry cited a head injury she suffered in 2013 as the reason for her resignation, effective May 18. Incumbent Nishan Mootafian is up for reelection and has not said if he will run. At this point, no one has taken out nomination papers for selectman, according to Town Clerk Pam Carakatsane. Nomination papers for those interested in running for selectman or any other town position are available at the town clerk’s office at Town Hall, on Green Street, through March 31.

Lowell

UMass Lowell libraries to host local history series

The University of Massachusetts Lowell libraries have announced plans to host a free, four-part reading and discussion series featuring local experts and authors on the history of Lowell and Lawrence, focusing on selected books from Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” and “Postcard History” series. The sessions are scheduled to kick off Jan. 27 with UMass Lowell history professor Robert Forrant’s discussion of his book, “Lawrence and the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike,” and continue Feb. 20 with “Lowell: The Mill City,” led by UMass Lowell librarian Martha Mayo. On March 11, a discussion of “Lowell Firefighters” will be led by the book’s author, Lowell Fire Captain Jason Strunk. The series concludes April 9 with “Lowell: The River City,” led by UMass Lowell librarian Tony Sampas. All sessions are scheduled to run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the O’Leary Learning Commons at 61 Wilder St. Support for the series is provided by the UMass Lowell Center for Arts and Ideas. For more information or to preregister, visit uml.beta.libguides.com/programming, or contact Sara Marks, UMass Lowell’s instruction and outreach librarian, at 978-934-4581 or at Sara_Marks@uml.edu.

Wenham

College gives Wenham money for police cruiser

Wenham recently recognized a $39,000 gift from Gordon College to purchase a new police cruiser. The vehicle replaced one that the Police Department took off the road. The item was a one-time gift, said Board of Selectman chairman Jack Wilhelm, who noted that Gordon also gives the town an annual payment based on the number of runs made to the college by the town’s fire department.

Dracut

Dracut seeks buyer for town house

The town is seeking an eligible buyer for an affordable 1,145-square-foot town house at 43 Joseph Ave., in the Riverside Landing Development. Built in 2005 and restricted to lower-income owners under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law, the unit now up for resale features a spacious living room and dining area, a large master bedroom, and a finished loft that could be used as an additional bedroom. The property has an in-unit laundry, a large deck, a one-car garage, a storage room, and central air conditioning. It is listed at $191,500 The successful buyer must be a first-time homeowner and meet certain income guidelines: the income limit for a household with one member is $44,750; for a couple, $51,150. For more information or to download the Affordable Housing Resale Application, visit the town’s website at dracutma.gov and click on the link to the “Affordable Housing Opportunity” from the homepage.

Burlington

On 10 days of Christmas, Burlington handicap parking rules vigorously enforced

Motorists who violate handicap parking rules were recently targeted in a holiday season enforcement program by Burlington Police. During the five days preceding Christmas and the five days following it, Police Chief Michael R. Kent assigned two officers each day to enforce disabled parking laws throughout town, including at the Burlington Mall and other busy shopping centers. Police wound up issuing 154 tickets to motorists who parked illegally at designated handicap spaces, and 15 for misuse of a disabled parking placard. The pilot enforcement program, Operation Acccess, was headed by Police Sergeant Gerard McDonough, in cooperation with the Burlington Disability Access Commission. “It is disappointing that this pilot program was such a success, because it means a lot of people are violating the law,” Robert Hogan, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said in a prepared statement. “Abuse of disabled parking spaces is wrong, and it goes against the very spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was passed to ensure that the disabled have the same access to programs, services, stores, and restaurants as everyone else.” Police expect to run a similar program next holiday season “but will also focus their efforts on education, to prevent this from being a problem in the first place,” said John Guilfoil, a spokesman for the department.

Melrose

Apartment complex in Melrose nearly completed

Wood Partners is nearing completion of Alta Stone Place, a 212-unit apartment complex it is developing at the former Boston Rubber Shoe Co. mill site on Washington Street. The project involves renovating a four-story brick and wood-beamed mill building to house 93 units and constructing three new buildings to house the remaining 115 units. The firm recently announced that it had leased all 67 units in the first two new buildings and was actively marketing 52 more homes in the third. The renovated building is expected to be ready for occupancy next month. The Boston Rubber Shoe Co. built its mill at the site in the late 1800s, producing boots, shoes, and other footwear. In the 1940s, the property was sold to a division of Firestone, which manufactured latex at the site. The project, designed by the architectural firm, Bargmann Hendrie + Archetype, retained many of the original features of the mill building, including copper gutters and rainspouts, fine brick detailing, expansive windows, and exposed wood beams. A century-old smokestack is now the centerpiece of the community’s garden area, and plaques explaining the site’s history are being installed.

Somerville

Somerville workforce development program partners with job listing site

Somerville’s workforce development program for low-income, out-of school young adults has partnered with a website that allows businesses and residents to post part-time employment opportunities and one-off jobs. The city said in a prepared statement that the website “Help Around Town” can be used by all residents, but employers can give preference to applicants in Pocket Change, the city’s workforce development program.” Pocket Change aims to connect these young adults, ages 18 to 24, to full-time jobs and reduce their chances of unemployment. Through the website, Pocket Change participants get alerts when new jobs become available and case managers help them to apply and follow up. Case managers can also track communication between job applicants and employers, and job posters can contact the case managers to provide feedback. For more information, visit HelpAroundTown.com, or contact Amanda Maher at 617-625-6600 ext. 2528,or by e-mail at amaher@somervillema.gov.

Saugus

Saugus state representative joined in trip to Japan

State Representative Donald H. Wong recently traveled to Japan as part of a delegation of five state legislators from diverse Asian-American backgrounds and different parts of the United States. The Saugus Republican and the four other participating lawmakers visited Tokyo and Kyoto as members of an Asian-American Leadership Delegation. Wong, a former Saugus selectman, is a third-generation Chinese-American. The other delegation members were from Hawaii, New Jersey, Washington, and Texas. During their trip, they met with Japanese and American government officials including Yasuhide Nakayama, the Japanese state minister for foreign affairs; Naoki Takashima, Tokyo Metropolitan Government president; Jason P. Hyland, deputy chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Tokyo; and Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa. They also met with a university president, business leaders, the Japan Foundation, and American and Japanese scholars. In Tokyo, the delegates participated in a panel discussion, “Diversity in Leadership: The Journey of Asian-American State Legislators.” The American Leadership Delegation program is funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation and is run by the United States-Japan Foundation in collaboration with the National Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Wilmington

New planning and conservation director for Wilmington

The town of Wilmington has hired a new planning and conservation director. Valerie Gingrich is scheduled to start in her new position Monday. In a statement e-mailed to the Globe, Town Manager Jeffrey Hull said Gingrich brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the public realm and an impressive track record on projects ranging from single parcels to highly complex, multi-parcel master plans. Gingrich comes to Wilmington from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, where she served as a regional planner. While working for the state agency, Gingrich reviewed and drafted approvals for municipal harbor plans, including the Wynn Casino development proposed for the city of Everett. Prior to working at Coastal Zone Management, she was a planner for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, where she served as a citywide waterfront planner and as the South Boston neighborhood planner. Gingrich has her master’s degree in planning from MIT and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Gordon College. She succeeds Carole Hamilton, who recently retired. Hamilton had served in the position since 2004.

West Newbury

Academies at West Newbury school thriving

The first-year academies at Pentucket Regional High School are drawing rave reviews from students and teachers. Under the program, students at Pentucket — which serves Groveland, Merrimac, and West Newbury — are allowed to take a series of classes under the umbrella of arts; movement, science, and athletics; and safety and public services. “The opportunity to design a sequence of courses allows us to explore and study the subject in a really deep way,” said principal Jonathan Seymour. One interesting component is job shadowing, which exposes students to the wide array of careers in each area. “That really helps us,’’ said Seymour, “to explain that question to our students: ‘Why are we learning this?’” The Pentucket Regional School District screening committee recently approved two additional academies, currently in development: one focused on business, finance, and entrepreneurship and the other on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Wenham

Wenham seeking volunteers in hunt for town administrator

Wenham is seeking volunteers to serve on the screening committee to find a new town administrator. Mark Andrews left in December to take a similar post in Pepperell. Interested citizens willing to commit to a series of meetings, some of which will be held during the day, are asked to send a letter of interest to DMorong@wenhamma.gov, or to the Board of Selectmen at Town Hall, 138 Main St., Wenham MA 01984. The board has already hired consultant Alan Gould of Meredith, N.H.-based Municipal Resources Inc., to assist the effort to replace Andrews. Board of Selectman chairman Jack Wilhelm said the board hoped to review the letters at its Jan. 20 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

Ipswich

Two Ipswich school trusts merge

Two trusts established years ago to support Ipswich’s schools have pooled their resources. The Feoffees of the Grammar School in the Town of Ipswich Trust, currently valued at approximately $26 million, announced last week that the trust has assumed management of one that backs the Manning School. The Manning Fund, originally established by Joseph Manning in 1857 , is currently valued at $419,777, Joe Tragert, secretary of the larger fund, said the Manning Fund has been well managed but its trustees felt it would be better served by merging with one invested and managed by professionals. “It was a forward-thinking move to make that suggestion,” Tragert said, adding that “the intentions of the funds are essentially identical.”