Team Haverhill, a volunteer action group, is inviting local business owners and residents to its annual Possible Dreams event, hoping to spur ideas for fostering positive change in Haverhill. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Jan. 26 in the Technology Center at Northern Essex Community College, 100 Elliott St. The discussion, dubbed “Sparking Creative Connections,” is designed to foster a communitywide conversation, bringing together people from across the city to share ideas and build relationships to help shape Haverhill’s future. This year’s discussion will include a new opportunity for participants to try out an idea and see if it gains traction. Attendees will be given the chance to declare a topic, kick-start a 30-minute conversation with others who share their interest, and then report back to the overall group. That report may include a next step, such as a follow-up meeting to test the feasibility of their idea or develop an action plan. Projects that are initiated at the event may be publicized by Team Haverhill. Possible Dreams is free and open to the public, but advance registration is encouraged. For more information or to preregister, visit teamhaverhill.org.
Victor Dyer, director of the Ipswich Public Library since 1999, has announced his intention to retire in January. After stints in Chicago and as assistant director of Marblehead’s Abbot Public Library, Dyer took the position in Ipswich just as a major addition/renovation project was finished. During his tenure the library has expanded its hours and services, particularly in the children’s area, and added new collections, Wi-Fi, and the annual communitywide “Ipswich Reads . . . One Book” initiative. “I love to see engaged and excited children who come to be read to or to choose books for themselves, to visit the fish or to create something to bring home to their parents,” Dyer said in a release. “I love to have a patron tell me that she discovered among the new books something unexpected that gave her great pleasure. I love to see a patron sitting down with a staff member who patiently teaches him how to download books to his Kindle. I love to see people from Ohio who crowd into our archives in the fall to track down family members who emigrated west in the 19th century.” A reception for Dyer is scheduled Jan. 11 at 1:30 p.m. at the library, 25 North Main St.
State officials announced last Monday that the North Shore Workforce Investment Board would receive $415,000 in funding, part of a nearly $2 million commitment to support manufacturing workforce training across the state. The funding will be used to support adult job training programs at community colleges, and is expected to benefit about 280 unemployed or underemployed workers statewide. Training will include mathematics and core manufacturing courses, including those that cover the fundamentals of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, Microsoft software, and manufacturing. The workforce investment board is based in Salem and serves 19 communities: Beverly, Danvers, Essex, Gloucester, Hamilton, Ipswich, Lynn, Lynnfield, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, Middleton, Nahant, Peabody, Rockport, Salem, Saugus, Swampscott, Topsfield, and Wenham. State Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki joined Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rachel Kaprielian and state Senate Majority Leader Stan Rosenberg to make the announcement at the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative Pioneer Valley Summit, held at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
The state recently designated Everett a Green Community, a status municipalities can earn by undertaking certain steps to become more energy-efficient and to expand their use of renewable energy. As a result of its designation, the city was awarded a one-time non-competitive grant of $307,175 to undertake green energy projects. To secure the funds, the city by next Jan. 14 will have to submit its project plan to the state Department of Energy Resources for approval. The city is likely to use the grant funds to convert traditional streetlights to energy-efficient LED ones, according to James Errickson, Everett’s director of planning and development. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council assisted Everett in applying for its new status and is now helping the city develop its plans for implementing the grant. Everett will be able to compete for additional grants later. . Thirteen communities in all recently received the state’s Green Communities designation. Across Massachusetts, there are now 136 such communities.
The city plans a major upgrade to part of Lynn Common with the help of state and federal funds. The state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs recently awarded the city $400,000 for the project, which will be carried out in the small section of the common closest to City Hall. The remaining costs of the $580,000 project will be funded with $180,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant money, according to James Marsh, the city’s director of community development. The work, set to break ground next June and be completed late next fall, calls for updating the original cast iron fencing surrounding the small common area, installing electrical conduits for future antique-style lighting, and upgrading the concrete walkway. The city will also plant trees and install cast iron benches. Officials said the work will complement $1 million in recently completed improvements to the Frederick Douglass Bandstand and surrounding area, part of the larger section of the common. The state money was awarded through the help of the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program. Previous PARC grants helped fund recent improvements to Keaney Park, Flax Pond Park, High Rock Tower and Reservation, and Neptune Boulevard Park and Splash Pad.
The organization administering the Revere Tornado Relief Fund will soon be concluding its work. The city created the fund to assist residents and property owners who sustained property damage from the tornado that struck last July 28. The nonprofit established to manage the fund announced recently that it planned to distribute assistance awards this Monday and Tuesday at City Hall — recipients are asked to bring a photo identification — and close out the fund Dec. 31. Approximately $250,000 was raised in the relief effort. More than 170 applications were received, of which 125 to 150 were found to qualify, according to the office of Mayor Daniel Rizzo, who initiated the fund drive. Recipients will be provided with $500 to $2,500 in aid to cover insurance coverage deductibles. No additional applications are being accepted and any donations received after Jan. 1 will be returned. Rizzo plans to present a final update on the relief effort at the State of the City address, set for Jan. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. “The relief fund was a true collaborative effort, and I am happy to see that mission of the organization was fulfilled,” the mayor said in a prepared statement.
Somerville residents can track their water usage online and set up alerts when water use exceeds their budget. The city said in a prepared statement that residents can create such alerts through text message, e-mail, or voicemail with the AquaHawk Alerting service, which could save them money when leaks are caught early. Users can create a monthly water budget and receive alerts if their usage is trending above it. AquaHawk will also send an alert when a potential water leak is found or if it seems that a faucet or hose has been left running. For those who prefer it, the Water Department will continue to call residents to alert them of excess usage. To sign up for an account, visit soma.aquahawk.us. For more information, contact the Somerville Water Department at 617-625-6600, ext. 5850, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The town is expanding its Save Money and Reduce Trash (SMART) pilot program and is now accepting applications from Winchester residents who would like to participate in the second phase of the initiative. The program offers participants a way to control household disposal costs at the town’s transfer station. It rolled out in January with 500 households participating, and will expand to 700 in 2015. Participants will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those selected pay a reduced sticker fee of $50 for the year and purchase standardized bags sold at the transfer station for trash that will be dropped at a location designated for SMART participants only. Current participants who wish to continue in the program must re-enroll. Currently, all households, regardless of size, pay the same fee of $180 per year for trash disposal and recycling. Under the SMART program, smaller households that generate less trash would pay less by using fewer bags. Households that typically generate more trash can still save money by recycling more. The goal of the program is to reduce the town’s disposal costs. Residents may register for the program on the town’s website, www.winchester.us, by mail, or in person at the town clerk’s office. For questions on SMART, call the town clerk’s office at 781-721-7130.
The US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Veterans Affairs announced plans Dec. 8 to award $96,943 in rental vouchers to public housing agencies in Massachusetts to help 16 homeless veterans find permanent supportive housing. The award includes $25,783 in rental vouchers for the Chelmsford Housing Authority. In all, 1,984 vouchers totaling just over $13.5 million were awarded to housing authorities in 39 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The vouchers are being provided through the HUD-VA Supportive Housing Program, which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. The latest award comes two months after the two agencies awarded $1.9 million in vouchers in Massachusetts to assist more than 225 homeless veterans across the state. As HUD approaches its 50th anniversary in 2015, Secretary Julian Castro said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe that his agency is committed to “providing targeted assistance to those in need to ensure that every veteran has a home.” Since 2008, more than 68,000 vouchers have been awarded and over 74,000 homeless veterans have been served through the supportive housing program, according to Kristine Foye, a spokeswoman for HUD’s New England office.
Essex is seeking its first Council on Aging director. Resumes are being accepted until Dec. 30 for the position, created at November Town Meeting. “Up until now,’’ said Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki, “people have just volunteered to coordinate things,” including members of the Council on Aging including its chairman, Keith Symmes. The director will be responsible for managing operations at the senior center, writing grants, producing a newletter, and working with all town departments and the state’s Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Requirements include a BA/BS degree or equivalent experience, plus at least three years of managing programs for the senior population. The pay is $22.50-$29.50 an hour commiserate with experience. Resumes may be sent to Symmes at email@example.com
or to the Essex Senior Center, 17 Pickering St., Essex MA 01929. Job descriptions are available by e-mailing Symmes or by calling the center at 978-768-7932.
David Edwards was recently named president and CEO of the Danvers-based Essex County Community Foundation, which manages charitable funds for donors and provides grants, services, and education to nonprofit organizations in the county. Edwards brings nearly 15 years of expertise in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector, including the past eight as a principal with Sutherland~Edwards LLC, a consulting firm that has worked with more than 40 community foundations and nonprofits. Currently based in Vermont, he’ll be relocating before the Jan. 12 start of his tenure. “I am passionate about community philanthropy and have always believed that people should give where they live,” Edwards said in a prepared statement. “A community foundation is one of the most effective vehicles to enable that to happen.”
Swampscott was recently awarded $70,100 to address flood control issues under a state grant program that this year awarded $1.5 million to address issues related to coastal storms, erosion, and sea level rise. As part of its Climate Change Coastal Resiliency and Flood Control Plan, the town will use storm surge and sea level rise inundation models to assess vulnerabilities of the municipal infrastructure and climate change impacts. Engineers will then deveop conceptual solutions and policy recommendations to help protect residents, property, and infrastructure from extreme weather and climate change impacts. The project received funding as part of the state’s Coastal Community Resilience Grant Program, administered by its Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Coastal Zone Management office. “These forward-thinking local projects will result in important, on-the-ground strategies to protect essential infrastructure and natural resources from the impacts of sea level rise and increased intensity of storms,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett in a prepared statement.
During a news conference Dec. 5 at the Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, mayors Dan Rivera of Lawrence and Setti Warren of Newton announced a partnership to help keep local food pantries stocked this holiday season. Working with United Way and United Parcel Service, the partnership builds on an annual citywide food drive in Newton to help support food pantries in both cities. Items including canned fruit and vegetables, toothpaste and diapers for both infants and adults are being collected through Dec. 30 at about 40 locations throughout Newton. The partnership was launched following a Globe report on food pantry supply shortages in Lawrence, where a growing number of families are relying on the city’s food pantries for basic necessities.
Gloucester and Manchester-by-the-Sea were among local communities that will receive significant state funding in 2015 for projects that aim to reduce risks from coastal storms, erosion, and sea level rise. Gloucester was awarded a $310,000 grant for floodplain and habitat restoration on the Little River, including creation of a salt marsh, as part of $1.5 million in funding under the state’s Green Infrastructure for the Coastal Resilience Grants Program. Manchester-by-the-Sea was awarded $154,950 for the evaluation of the capacity of bridges and culverts in the Sawmill Brook watershed, and to prepare design plans, construction estimates, and a permitting strategy for infrastructure improvements, as part of $1.5 million in funding under another state effort, the Coastal Community Resilience Grant Program. Both are administered by the state Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Coastal Zone Management office. “Our region is leading the nation in developing sustainable strategies to strengthen natural resources to confront coastal storms and erosion,” said Senator Bruce Tarr, a Gloucester Republican who also represents Manchester-by-the-Sea. “By fostering better salt water flows and healthy marshes, this grant funding makes an important investment in long-term protections that are proactive, effective, and more easily maintained than many manmade structures.”
The Peabody Institute Library is trying spur more girls to consider careers in computer-related fields. The library has initiated a partnership with Girls Who Code, a national organization working to advance gender parity in computer-oriented professions. Just 23 percent of programmers and 34 percent of Web developers are women, according to the National Center for Women Information Technology, citing a 2012 US Department of Labor survey. In a pilot initiative, the library will in January create a new Girls Who Code Club. Through the club, which will run through the end of the school year, girls in grades 6-12 will learn to code and create websites, games, and apps. They will also undertake a culminating project to benefit the Peabody community. Those interested in joining are invited to an informational session Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the main library, 82 Main St. The meeting will include a talk by Jalon Fowler, who has worked in the technology field for 16 years and will serve as the volunteer instruction for the club. The library hopes to continue the club with another session next fall. For more information or to register, call teen librarian Cate Merlin at 978-531-0100 ext. 14, or register online at www.peabodylibrary.org.
Two nonprofit senior living organizations serving communities north of Boston are joining forces. The Chelsea Jewish Foundation and Peabody-based Aviv Centers for Living announced recently that Aviv has become part of the foundation. They both offer long- and short-term skilled nursing care facilities, assisted living residences, and services such as home and hospice care. With the inclusion of Aviv, the foundation says it is now the largest senior living nonprofit group north of Boston. Through its residential and other programs, the foundation has been serving about 500 people overall and Aviv about 300. Before the merger, the foundation had about 600 employees, Aviv approximately 400; all will be retained. “This is a tremendous opportunity to serve the growing senior population in Greater Boston, and combining only expands and enhances our ability to support and serve the community,” the foundation’s president, Adam Berman, said in a prepared statement.
City officials have issued a warning to residents after two men who claimed to represent the Somerville Water Department gained access to a home on Dec. 1 at approximately 6 p.m., and stole property. The city said in a prepared statement that although this appears to be an isolated incident, residents should be aware that any employee of the Water Department who needs access to a property will always show identification. “If someone claiming to be from the Water Department attempts to gain access to your home and cannot provide identification,’’ the statement said, “do not let them in, and call 911 immediately.”
Greg Bialecki, the state’s housing and economic development secretary, visited Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica on Dec. 3 to announce that the school has received a $250,000 grant to purchase equipment and expand its welding and metal fabrication program. At Shawsheen, the new equipment will give students the opportunity to learn the basics of metal fabrication and joining technologies, proper mechanical cutting operations, and metal forming techniques in accordance with industry standards. As a result, said Bialecki in a statement e-mailed to the Globe, they will be given “the educational training and hands-on applications that are needed to prepare students for careers in the 21st century global economy.” In addition to benefiting its traditional high school students, the new welding and metal fabrication equipment also will allow Shawsheen to expand its adult education and workforce development programs and support a collaboration between Shawsheen and Keolis Commuter Services, the MBTA commuter rail management firm, to train new workers to maintain and improve rail service throughout the region. Funding for the program is provided by the Commonwealth’s Capital Plan, a five-year plan that includes $10 million in funding to benefit Massachusetts career technical schools and community colleges.
City Councilor Michael J. Marks and a group of interested residents are working with Mayor Michael J. McGlynn to establish the city’s first dog park, a place where Medford’s canines would be free to romp under their owners’ supervision. According to Marks, the city has tentatively identified a location: 1.5 acres of land along the Mystic River adjacent to Hormel Stadium and behind the McGlynn School. He said the spot is ideal, noting that it is centrally located, has ample parking, and is handicapped-accessible. “We feel certain that avid and loving dog owners will embrace the park not only for its appeal as a place where dogs can socialize, but as a meeting ground that brings together their owners in a common bond of interest,” Marks said in a statement. The estimated $250,000 to $300,000 cost would be covered in part through $60,000 that city received in 2011 from a contractor to mitigate the impact of a state highway project. The city hopes to cover the remaining costs through a grant it plans to seek from Stanton Group, a private organization that helps fund dog parks. For more information, visit www.Paws4Medford.org
The Essex County Greenbelt Association and Merrohawke Nature School announced last month that they would acquire the 28-acre Four Rock property on Boston Road in Newbury, which includes the historic Devil’s Den limestone formation. The purchase price was $225,000. Since 2012, the nonprofit school has operated year-round programs at Four Rock, including a kindergarten afterschool program, and teen wilderness and summer programs. Working with the Essex-based land trust, it was able to raise private funds and received an $85,000 conservation partnership grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Once the purchase is completed, the land will be open to the public for wildlife observation, outdoor recreation, and continued educational programming. In a prepared statement, Greenbelt executive director Ed Becker said the purchase “will not only protect at-risk acreage with unique historical significance and safeguard critical wildlife habitat, but it will also provide an opportunity for us to nurture the current and future generations of environmental stewards in the Greater Newburyport community through our partnership with Merrohawke Nature School.”
North Andover leaders gathered at the intersection of Chickering Road and Prescott Street Nov. 25 to celebrate the official groundbreaking for the town’s new fire station. The new station, designed to accommodate modern fire equipment, will feature four bays, a training space, and the department’s barracks. Town Meeting allocated $5.94 million for construction earlier this year. The station is expected to be completed by next fall. It is one of several projects included in the town’s municipal facilities master plan. Adopted in 2012, the plan strives to improve and consolidate the town’s existing municipal and school facilities, thereby eliminating rental costs. Other projects included in the plan: Renovation of the town’s former police station into a new school administration building; renovation of its former fire department headquarters at Town Hall into a new office for the Community Development and Planning Department; and expansion of the town’s senior center. For more information about the master plan, including a flow chart and funding schedule, visit townofnorthandover.com
and click on the tab for the “Facilities Master Plan” on the homepage.
Danvers Selectman David Mills was recently appointed to a five-year term on the State Ethics Commission. Mills, a retired appeals court associate justice, was tabbed to replace outgoing member Paula Finley Mangum by Governor Deval Patrick. Mills, of counsel with the Boston-based firm of Rackemann, Sawyer & Brewster, formerly was an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County and a former assistant attorney general. As an appeals court associate justice from 2001 to 2012, Mills was the principal author of more than 100 published decisions. The commission has jurisdiction over state, county, and municipal employees, administering and enforcing conflict-of-interest and financial disclosure laws. Mills, Danvers town moderator from 1998 to 2001, has been a selectman since 2013.
Salem State University recently signed three new agreements that will expand opportunities for its students, faculty, and alumni to study, teach, and conduct research abroad. One of the agreements will enable university seniors or recent graduates to teach English and study Italian at public institutions in the Piedmont region of Italy for up to a full year. The agreement follows a previous one in 2009 that provided Salem State with similar opportunities in Italy’s Lombardy region. Saverio Teker, director of the education office of the Consulate General of Italy in Boston, participated in a signing ceremony at Salem State for the recent agreement. In another agreement, Salem State formally established an exchange program with the Netherlands’ Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. The program began unofficially this past spring when 28 students and three faculty members from the sport management and marketing program at Rotterdam University journeyed to Salem to participate in a student symposium on sports marketing. The third agreement created a collaborative program between Salem State and Germany’s University of Mannheim. Salem State now has 57 such arrangements, in countries ranging from Liberia to Poland, Brazil, China, and Iraq.
Continuing a 12-year, all-volunteer tradition, the Andover Skate Park at 80 Shawsheen Road has been transformed into a “Lot of Trees” to benefit the Andover Youth Services programs, the Cormier Youth Center, and a local scholarship fund that benefits graduates of Andover High School and Danvers High School. The tree lot is open seven days a week until Dec. 22, from 3 to 8:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. This year, the Andover Youth Foundation is selling fresh balsam trees from New Brunswick, Canada; North Carolina Fraser fir trees; and a wide selection of wreaths, holiday centerpieces, and kissing balls. For each tree sold, $1 will be donated to the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund, which helps high school graduates become teachers. In past years, the tree lot has raised funds to support worthy causes such as improvements to the skate park, a holiday gift drive, local scholarships, and more.
A landmark Beverly business will move to the site formerly occupied by another landmark Beverly business. Atomic Cafe, which has operated at 265 Cabot St. since 1996, plans to move across the street to 268B Cabot Street, which formerly housed a section of the Casa de Moda, the iconic retailer that closed in June after nearly 45 years. The move, planned for February, will allow the coffee roasters to more than double in size from about 1,100 square feet to approximately 2,500 square feet, according to John Mahoney, co-owner with his brother Andrew. The move was aided by Beverly Main Streets, a nonprofit that promotes downtown Beverly, which made Atomic Cafe the first recipient of a retail incentives grant, a new program designed to attract retailers to the area or help existing retailers expand. The Mahoneys also operate Atomic Cafes in Newburyport and Marblehead, and a wholesale distributorship in Salem.
As part of its effort to update Burlington’s master plan, the town’s prime blueprint for future development, its planning board is inviting the community to a public forum. Burlington’s existing plan was last updated nearly 20 years ago. Tuesday’s event, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the library of the Marshall Simonds Middle School, 114 Winn St., will begin with an open house, followed by a short presentation on the master plan process and focused discussions. Topics covered will include open space and recreation, economic development, traffic circulation, land use, housing, town services and facilities, and natural and cultural resources. The session is the latest in a series to solicit ideas from the public on the document. As part of the update, the board held community walks in different parts of town in September and October. The public is also welcome to contribute ideas through Twitter, Facebook, and Neighborland, a community-focused online platform. For more information, go to the town’s website, www.burlington.org, click on the Planning Department, and “Master Plan Information.” The planning effort is targeted for completion by the end of next year.
Chelsea has begun the task of selecting a new city manager. Jay Ash, who has held the post since 2000, is resigning to become housing ans economic development secretary for governor-elect Charlie Baker. The City Council recently agreed to hire the Edward J. Collins, Jr. Center for Public Management at UMass Boston to serve as its consultant in the search, said council president Matt Frank. Councilors have begun a series of meetings to see what community members would like to see in a new city manager, and plan to hold roundtable talks with representatives of city businesses and organizations to solicit their input. Frank said it’s anticipated that the council will choose deputy city manager Ned Keefe to serve as interim manager when Ash departs. No set timetable has been established for finding his permanent replacement, but Frank said his goal is the council’s final spring meeting in mid-June. “It’s a big task,” Frank said, adding that the 6-foot-7-inch Ash leaves “big shoes to fill, literally and figuratively. . . . We really need to go one step at a time. Step one is talking about what kind of city we want to be going forward.”
Somerville residents may now purchase certificates recording births, marriages, and deaths online though the city clerk’s office. The city said in a statement that residents may use a major credit card or electronic funds transfer to order up to three birth certificates or marriage certificates per transaction, and up to 10 death certificates per transaction. All certificates are $15 each, with a $1 charge per order for processing and mailing. Certified copies of all documents will be sent by first-class mail to the address specified in the order. If the record is unavailable, a refund will be issued. To order online, visit the city’s website at somervillema.gov
and click “Pay Online” at the bottom of the page.
Following a national search, the Winchester School Committee has selected four finalists to succeed Interim Superintendent William H. McAlduff Jr. as leader of the 4,440-student school system, according to committee chairman Christian Nixon.They are Judith Evans of Shrewsbury, who since 2008 has served as superintendent of the Medway public schools; Bradford Jackson of Wilmington, Holliston public schools superintendent since 2004; Jennifer Price of West Newton, principal of Newton North High School; and Anne Wilson of Natick, superintendent of the Sudbury public schools since 2011. A search advisory committee voted unanimously to advance the four finalists for the School Committee’s review. Each candidate is scheduled to visit town this week, with opportunities for teachers and administrators to meet with them: Jackson on Monday, Evans Tuesday, Price Wednesday, and Wilson Thursday. Parents and community members also will have a chance to meet each candidate at McCall Middle School. Jackson, Evans, and Wilson will meet and greet the public from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on their respective days in Winchester; Price from 7 to 8 p.m. on hers.
Mayor James J. Fiorentini has signed a Tax Increment Financing agreement with Southwick Clothing to secure the company’s future in Haverhill. The agreement, made possible with the support of the state’s Economic Development Incentive Program, will save 468 manufacturing jobs, allow the company to expand at a larger location, and add up to 70 more jobs.
This deal allows Southwick to spread out the impact of property assessment increases in exchange for jobs and other factors. About 80 percent of the clothing made at the plant has the Brooks Brothers label; the rest have the Southwick label. According to the mayor, the TIF agreement “enables us to see a long-term commitment to manufacturing by Southwick in the city, as well as the creation of new manufacturing jobs, a good portion of which will be targeted to Haverhill residents. This type of investment by Southwick is a strong statement that ‘made in the USA’ still matters. Brooks Brothers Suits will continue to be made in Haverhill.”
Governor Deval Patrick recently named Cheryl Lussier Poppe of Salem as superintendent of the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home. Poppe is the first woman to lead the home in its 132-year history. She retired from the Massachusetts National Guard with the rank of colonel in 2008 after 30 years of service. Since then, she has worked for the state Department of Veterans’ Services. She has served as acting superintendent of the home since April. “I’m just deeply honored to be appointed to serve veterans in this role,” Poppe said. The Chelsea Soldiers’ Home includes the 174-bed Lawrence F. Quigley Memorial Long Term Care Facility and dormitories that house up to 305 veterans. It formerly had an outpatient clinic that closed in January 2013. Poppe succeeds Michael Resca, who retired last winter.
The Wakefield Chamber of Commerce recently renamed itself the Wakefield-Lynnfield Chamber of Commerce, formally making it a two-town organization. Lynnfield until now has not had its own chamber. The name change reflects the chamber’s “changing demographics and increasing membership from Lynnfield businesses,” Suzanne Bowering and Cheryl Carroll, the co-presidents of the chamber, said in a statement. “The change of name not only links the two communities, it also provides extensive networking opportunities for local businesses in both towns. Lynnfield businesses now have the opportunity to become active in, and benefit from, the Wakefield Chamber’s 80-plus years of service and commitment to the business community.” The chamber also looks forward to “working with the entire Lynnfield community in sponsoring events and opportunties for residents and businesses,” Bowering and Carroll said.
The Somerville Board of Assessors has released property assessments for fiscal year 2015, more than a month earlier than previous years. Property owners usually receive notice of their new assessed values in late December or early January, but this year, the values were released on Nov. 19 to give residents and property owners extra time to review the values and request changes, the city said in a statement. Formal appeals will be accepted from Jan. 2 to Feb. 2, and this year for the first time, owners may also request changes until Dec. 9. The assessments for fiscal year 2015 are available at all three Somerville public libraries, the assessor’s office at City Hall, and online at somervillema.gov/AssessedValues. For more information, call 617-625-6600, ext. 3100, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The state’s Housing Appeals Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing beginning Dec. 11 to determine whether the town of Stoneham has met the state’s minimum thresholds for affordable housing. The hearing will determine the fate of John M. Corcoran & Co.’s proposal to build a 264-unit apartment complex at Weiss Farm on Franklin Street under Chapter 40B, the state’s affordable housing law. Under the plan submitted by Corcoran, 25 percent of the units would be set aside for tenants of low to moderate means, in accordance with the state’s affordable housing regulations. If the Housing Appeals Committee determines that the town has failed to meet the minimum threshold for affordable housing, the town’s power to impose conditions on Corcoran’s development would be limited. Under state law, a community can be exempt from 40B projects if at least 10 percent of its housing stock meets the state’s criteria for affordable housing, the most commonly used benchmark, or by having at least 1.5 percent of its developable land devoted to affordable housing. In Stoneham, 5.3 percent of the housing stock is considered affordable. However, the town’s Board of Appeals this summer asserted that Stoneham’s inventory of affordable housing meets Chapter 40B’s threshold based on land use. The developer contested the board’s decision, and after reviewing the arguments, the Department of Housing and Community Development rejected the town’s affordability assertion. The town has appealed that finding to the Housing Appeals Committee.
Ipswich resident Robert K. Weatherall was recently honored with a bronze plaque mounted on a granite block at Nichols Field, recognizing his years of volunteer service at the property, where he served as land steward. The town acquired Nichols Field — a land conservation project partnership with Essex County Greenbelt Association, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, and private donors — in 2000. The 15 acres of open fields and woods is adjacent to the Ipswich River. Weatherall, 83, served as steward from the start until recent years, when he retired for age and health reasons. Weatherall was the honored guest at a recent ceremony at the field. “We have big shoes to fill, and we will do our best to follow in your footsteps, Mr. Weatherall,” said Beth O’Connor, open space stewardship coordinator for the town. “Thank you from the town of Ipswich, and all who come to enjoy this open space treasure at Nichols Field.”
After two hours of discussion, Special Town Meeting in Chelmsford last Monday approved the funding of $141,350 in school bills that were incurred last fiscal year but went unpaid. However, a larger school spending item that includes $729,091 to close the current deficit was postponed. Review of the district’s finances by Town Meeting members came just days after the Chelmsford Federation of Teachers, Local 3569, took a vote of no-confidence in Superintendent Frank Tiano, citing concerns about the current financial problems facing the district. The Nov. 13 voice vote was unanimous, according to a letter sent to the Chelmsford School Committee by Local 3569’s president, Ben Cole, and other union leaders. Cole, reached by telephone Tuesday, said about 200 of the 400 workers represented by the union — paraprofessionals, teachers, and secretaries — were present at the meeting. The vote followed the release of an audit report that uncovered invoices totaling $878,340 for goods and services that were received last fiscal year but charged to this fiscal year’s appropriation. Melanson Heath, the Andover-based auditing firm that has been examining the district’s finances, said the deficit “is caused by many factors, but the most significant is the growth of special education contractural services.” As a result of the school department’s fiscal woes, three administrators were laid off and plans to implement full-day kindergarten have been postponed indefinitely.
Marblehead Town Planner Rebecca Cutting and the Fort Sewall Committee are laying the groundwork for a plan that would restore the popular landmark, originally built in 1644. Cutting recently delivered the results of a Massachusetts Historical Commission-funded study of the fort’s condition to the Board of Selectmen, and has applied for a $200,000 federal grant toward the cost of historical restoration, which will cost an estimated $435,000, Cutting said. The committee, meanwhile, is studying additional changes at the site, including the installation of a replica cannon and steps to make the site accessible to the public. Cutting said she, town officials, and the committee are still considering ways to pay for the remainder of the project if the town receives the grant.
More than 150 people — including local and state officials — turned out for the Nov. 14 groundbreaking of the Beauport Hotel Gloucester, 55 Commercial St. The hotel, which is expected to bring 250 hospitality jobs to the Cape Ann area, will be built on the site of a former Birdseye food packaging plant. The Beauport will include 96 guest rooms, an executive suite, a bridal suite, meeting rooms with audio-visual equipment, and two ballrooms, according to the developers, New Balance owner Jim Davis and Cruiseport Gloucester’s Sheree Zizik of Beauport Gloucester LLC. The hotel, expected to cost between $20 million and $25 million, is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016.
With the help of federal funds, a Peabody group plans to expand its efforts to combat the use of drugs and alcohol by young people. The Healthy Peabody Collaborative
was allotted $625,000 to support its work over the next five years. The grant was among 680 awarded nationwide by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The funds were awarded through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, which assists with local efforts to prevent youth substance abuse. The six-year-old Healthy Peabody Collaborative will use its award for its ongoing work to address under-age use of tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs. “Research shows that prevention is the most effective tool we have to reduce the terrible consequences associated with drug use among young people,” Sara Grinnell, the coalition’s director, said in a prepared statement. “This new funding will allow the Healthy Peabody Collaborative to help place more young people on the path toward success and enable them to live healthier and safer lives.”
The search is on for a new principal for the Dr. Elmer S. Bagnall School in Groveland, part of the Pentucket Regional School District. Superintendent Jeffrey Mulqueen said he anticipated that the new principal will begin the job on July 1, 2015. Longtime Bagnall principal Elaine Champion, who has been working as a special assistant to the superintendent since August, has announced her intent to retire effective Dec. 31, 2015. Michael Smith, director of arts and academic instruction for the district, has been serving as interim principal at Bagnall. Earlier this year, Bagnall was designated an Innovation School for Design & Engineering by the state’s Executive Office of Education and is implementing a STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) for approximately 570 students in grades prekindergarten to 6. In addition, districtwide programs for students who have learning and emotional disabilities are centralized at the school.
Medford is getting some help from the state for a project honoring the victims of the 2012 Boston Marathon bombings. The Executive Office of Environmental Affairs recently awarded the city a $299,350 grant to be used toward the cost of creating the Krystle Campbell Peace Garden. The garden, planned in front of the senior center in Medford Square, is being named for the 29-year-old Medford High School graduate and Arlington resident who was among four people killed in the bombings and their aftermath. The city has completed 75 percent of the design plans for the garden, which will include a central seating area focused on a fountain, and several interpretive elements representing the four individuals who died. It also will include a seat wall, fencing, lighting, trees, and other landscaping, a flagpole, and walkways. The park’s intended theme is to inspire people to embrace humanity, diversity, and inclusion. The new grant is from the state’s Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program. The remaining costs of the estimated $1.09 million project will be covered by $475,000 in federal funds; a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation; $167,570 from linkage fees charged by the city to developers; and $50,000 in private donations.
The Trustees of Reservations have completed the final phase of its Castle Hill Grand Allée Restoration, a landscape preservation project that started in 2012 at the Crane Estate in Ipswich. The final phase included restoration of the casino complex, a former pool and entertainment space located on the allée, a half-mile grass lawn framed by statues and trees on both sides and rolling out to the sea. About 100 years after the original installation, the allée was overgrown and weather-beaten, and its mature trees had outgrown the designer’s vision. The restoration included the use of many environmentally sustainable techniques.
The Reading Public Library is now open in its temporary location at 80 General Way. The site features just-released books and movies for all ages; free wireless service; children’s and reference librarians to help patrons with questions and recommendations; and a brightly lit space to meet up with friends or browse through newspapers and magazines. The temporary location has been set up while work at the library building on Middlesex Avenue is completed. The library will undergo a major renovation that is expected to take about a year and a half to complete. The library will be opened in its temporary location from 2 to 5 p.m. Sundays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays; 1 to 9 p.m. Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information regarding the renovation, visit readingpl.org.
The state attorney general’s office and New Ventures Associates, the Everett company that owns the Crow Lane landfill in Newburyport, have come to an agreement regarding completion of repairs and other work at the landfill. Under the agreement, approved by Suffolk Superior Court earlier this month, New Ventures is to install a digital gas flow and flare temperature recorder and controller to operate the flare system, as previously recommended by Blue Granite, the landfill owner’s contractor. The flare system burns and destroys the compounds in landfill gas. The court order also requires New Ventures to submit to state environmental officials for their approval a scope of work for inspecting and balancing the landfill gas control system within 35 days of the Nov. 5 court order. In addition, New Ventures must grant state environmental officials access to the controller so they may acquire its recorded data.
Everett plans major renovations to Sacramone Park with the help of a recently awarded $400,000 state grant. The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs awarded the funding through its Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program. The park, near Santilli Circle, is the only park of its size in the Village neighborhood and has one of the few Little League baseball facilities in the city, making it one of the most heavily used spaces in Everett, according to James Errickson, the city’s planning director. The 2.9-acre park includes a large natural grass recreational field that is used for Little League and Pop Warner football. It also has a tot lot, two basketball courts, a bocce court, and a concession building. The project calls for upgrading the tot lot, recreational courts, and nearby sidewalks; construction of a new spray park; improvement or replacement of the concession building; and new landscaping and lighting. Plans also call for replacing the existing turf on the recreational field with artificial turf. In addition to the state grant, the city is funding the project with $50,000 from last year’s budget, and an estimated $1.1 million in city capital funds.
Henry’s Market, a Beverly landmark, is being sold. Founded by Henry Swanson in 1941 and known for its high-quality prepared foods, Henry’s will be purchased by Crosby’s Marketplace, another well-known family-owned grocer. “Henry’s is legendary,” said Crosby’s president Jim Crosby, “with a wonderful kitchen and prepared food items. We’re hoping to develop a centralized kitchen and sell some of Henry’s signature items at our other North Shore stores.” There are Crosby’s stores in Concord, Georgetown, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Marblehead, and Salem. Crosby intends to keep the Henry’s name and staff intact. The sale is expected to be completed in early 2015. Crosby said that he and Henry’s owner John Keohane have been friends for years, and that Keohane catered three of his children’s weddings. “And those marriages are still together.”
The Peabody City Council will hold its annual tax classification hearing during its meeting Thursday, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Wiggin Auditorium at City Hall. The council will determine whether to maintain the policy of having a split tax rate, and if so how much of the residential tax burden to shift onto businesses. Based on the decision, the city will set its tax rate or rates for fiscal 2015, subject to approval by the state Department of Revenue. For fiscal 2014, which ended June 30, Peabody adopted a shift in which businesses pay 60 percent more than they would with a single tax rate. The city’s residential tax rate was $12.40 per $1,000 valuation, and its commercial rate $24.46 per $1,000.
Legislation to rename the rebuilt bridge along Routes 97 and 113 the Congressman William H. Bates Veterans Memorial Bridge was enacted on Nov. 10 by the House and Senate, moving the bill one step closer to being signed into law by the governor. The campaign to rename the bridge, which crosses the Merrimack River between Groveland and Haverhill, was spearheaded by David Tuttle, commander of the American Legion Post 248 in Groveland, and endorsed by the Groveland Board of Selectmen and the Haverhill City Council. The original bridge, which had been dedicated in 1970, was recently replaced with a 775-foot span built about 60 feet downstream. The $49.75 million project also included reconstruction of roadways leading to and from the bridge as well as improvements on Groveland Street, where the road intersects with Lincoln Avenue in Haverhill and Main Street near Elm Park in Groveland. Bates, a Salem native and a veteran who enlisted in the Navy in July 1940, participated in the Iwo Jima campaign in the spring of 1945. After World War II, Bates remained a naval reservist until 1950, when he resigned his commission to assume the congressional seat held by his father, who had died in a plane crash while in office. Bates served in the US House until his death in 1969.
The Middlesex Sheriff’s Office issued a statement on Nov. 7 warning area residents of a phone scam intended to scare victims into giving money. The callers have posed as law enforcement officials from the sheriff’s office, local police, or representatives of the IRS, and threatened to arrest residents for failing to pay debts. “In some instances the callers are managing to spoof the telephone numbers of my office or other law enforcement agencies, making it appear as if the calls are coming from these departments,” Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian said in a prepared statement. “No legitimate law enforcement agency will ever threaten arrest over the phone. . . . Nor will they demand payment for debt over the phone.” The sheriff’s office has encouraged residents who receive similar calls to contact local police, as well as the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office Investigation Unit, at 978-932-3220, if the caller claims to be from the sheriff’s office.
The Saugus Board of Selectmen has begun the search for a new town manager and it named former finance committee chairman Robert Palleschi to serve as temporary town manager, effective last Friday. The action came after the board’s Oct. 29 vote to fire town manager Scott Crabtree for alleged financial missteps and managerial offenses. In a letter to the board, Crabtree’s attorney said his client vehemently denies the allegations. The board on Sept. 15 had suspended Crabtree. Selectmen at Monday’s meeting agreed to hire a consulting firm to assist them with the search for a new permanent manager, according to Michael J. Murphy, who served as acting manager until Friday. Palleschi several months ago retired from the Finance Committee after 33 years on the panel. Murphy, chairman of the Board of Assessors, said business and personal reasons prevented him from continuing as acting manager but that Palleschi is “very well thought of and very respected in town’’ and will be “a great temporary town manager.”
City leaders in Haverhill are soliciting the public’s input on the concept plan being proposed for the reconstruction of Broadway (Route 97). The work on Broadway, a gateway to downtown, is expected to improve traffic and pedestrian safety, with a more uniform roadway and new sidewalks, said city engineer John Pettis. The plan, which was created for the city in July by Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., an engineering and construction firm based in Wilmington, offers a vision of what that gateway may ultimately look like. Engineering work to determine the feasibility of the elements portrayed in it began in September. and a public informational meeting was held Nov. 6 to review the ongoing plan based on engineering work completed to date. Individuals who wish to provide written comments on it may e-mail them to Pettis at email@example.com. All comments are due on or before Nov. 20. Plans also include upgraded drainage and redesign of the intersections along Broadway at Lake and Forest streets. Construction is expected to cost $5.7 million and will be covered by state and federal funding, Pettis said. The city is paying the design costs for the project, which are expected to tally about $440,000. If all goes as planned, construction would begin in the fall of 2017 and take about two years to complete. To view the concept plan, visit ci.haverhill.ma.us/reconstrution_of_broadway.php.
Reading has been awarded a two-year federal grant to support the training of school personnel and other adults who interact with local youths to detect and respond to mental illnesses and substance abuse in children. The Project Aware grant awarded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will allow Reading’s public schools to provide training for eight individuals in Youth Mental Health First Aid, a course that teaches participants how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse. Once trained, the eight individuals will then certify 584 school educators, school support staff, first responders, youth workers, and faith leaders in Reading, where the prevalence of untreated mental health and substance abuse is significant. Data gathered through the 2013 Reading Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated high rates of self-injury, bullying, binge drinking, and prescription drug misuse among students in grades six to eight. At the high school level, rates for underage drinking, illegal drug use, and eating disorders were 2 to 6 percent higher than state and national averages. The overall goal of Project Aware is to expand Reading’s capacity to increase awareness of mental health issues and connect children and youth with behavioral health issues to needed services. For more information on Reading’s Project Aware grant, programs, and services, contact grant coordinator Erica McNamara at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School Committee is seeking applicants to be the next Somerville superintendent, succeeding Tony Pierantozzi, who announced he will retire in July after 10 years of service to the Somerville public schools. A national consulting firm — Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates of Rosemont, Ill. — will conduct the initial review of applicants, and also will recruit applicants who could be a good fit. The School Committee has created a seven-member advisory committee to conduct the first round of interviews prior to Thanksgiving. The committee will narrow the list to three finalists, which it will present to the School Committee for consideration. Each finalist will be brought to Somerville for a full day in early December to meet the community and to be interviewed in open session by the School Committee. The start date for the next superintendent is scheduled for July. Interested applicants can apply at topschooljobs.org; additional information about the search can be found at somerville.k12.ma.us.
The Lynnfield Board of Selectmen chose James Boudreau last Monday as the successor to retiring town administrator William J. Gustus. By a 2-1 vote, the board appointed Boudreau, who currently holds the same post in Norwell, subject to reaching contract terms and a successful background check. Boudreau has held his Norwell job since November 1998. Prior to that, he was town administrator in Holbrook for three years. He was one of seven finalists and 44 original applicants for the Lynnfield post, according to Bob Curtin, the town’s assistant to the administration. The MMA Consulting Group, which assisted the town with the search, had forwarded the names of the seven finalists to the board. Each selectmen individually interviewed each of the finalists. Selectman Philip Crawford and board chairman David Nelson voted in favor of appointing Boudreau. Selectman Thomas Terranova voted against, saying his first choice was another finalist, Boxford town administrator Alan Benson. Gustus is retiring effective Jan. 9 after 12 years as Lynnfield’s town administrator.
A $1.3 million salt marsh restoration project officially completed on Halloween should go a long way toward protecting Route 1, the main road connecting Salisbury and Newburyport, from flooding. Salisbury Public Works director Donald Levesque called the Town Creek Flood Hazard Mitigation and Wetland Restoration Project “great for shoreline restoration. It can not only fix the problem, but will restore wildlife, improve water quality, improve habitat, all while providing major flood proection for the Route 1 corridor.” The large coastal wetland system containing hundreds of acres of former salt marsh was disconnected from the tides of the Merrimack River over a century ago when a railroad line was built across the creek and marsh, according to a state website. It flooded in 2006 and 2007, damaging Route 1, the main road connecting Salisbury and Newburyport. The project, much of it funded by the state and federal governments, included the replacement of one four-foot culvert with two five-foot culverts with tide gates to control additional flow. While the official opening was held on Halloween, the project was completed earlier this fall and the marsh has held up well during storms so far, said Levesque.
Town Meeting representatives in Chelmsford will be reviewing the school’s finances in light of a recent audit that uncovered invoices totaling $878,340 for goods and services that were received last fiscal year but charged to this fiscal year’s appropriation. As a result, a School Department deficit of $350,000 is being projected for the current fiscal year. Melanson Heath, the Andover-based auditing firm that has been examining the finances, said the deficit “is caused by many factors, but the most significant is the growth of special education contractural services,” noting that the amount of over-expenditure in that account increased from $163,746 in fiscal 2012 to $884,376 in fiscal 2013 and to $1,042,568 in fiscal 2014. According to the firm, the School Fepartment has available revolving fund resources that could be used, including $665,404 in circuit breaker funds and $573,198 in school choice funds. Town Meeting, which began Oct. 20, is scheduled to reconvene at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Senior Center, 75 Groton Road.
Marblehead Town Administrator Jeff Chelgren recently announced his resignation from the position, effective Dec. 31. A Lynn resident and former Wenham town administrator, Chelgren began in Marblehead in 2012 and has a contract that runs through next April 30. In an interview, he said he was pursuing other opportunities and wanted “to avoid leaving in the midst of the budget development process and contract negotiations.”
The Danvers Board of Selectmen recently reached terms on a five-year contract with Steve Bartha to serve as town manager effective Dec. 8. Selectmen had voted unanimously Sept. 29 to name Bartha to the position, subject to negotiating a contract with him to and a successful background check, which has now also been concluded. Bartha will succeed Wayne P. Marquis, who retired Oct. 3 after 35 years in the position. Currently assistant town manager in Avon, Conn., Bartha will earn an annual base salary of $165,000 in his Danvers position. Marquis’ base pay at the time of his retirement was $197,206. A resident of New Hartford, Conn., Bartha has held his current position since 2010, and from 2009 to 2010 was a budget analyst for the Connecticut state Office of Policy and Management. “We are just looking forward to working with him and getting going with our transition and starting our budget for next year,” said Bill Clark, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “He will be coming in just at the start of our budget season.” Diane Norris, who is serving as temporary manager, will return to her regular job as assistant town manager once Bartha assumes his post.
The dedication ceremony to celebrate a new veterans memorial in Wenham is scheduled for noon Tuesday. The memorial, which honors veterans over five eras, was recently completed on the Car Barn Lot, a public open area at the corner of Main and Arbor streets across from Town Hall. Sponsored by the Veterans Memorial Committee, it commemorates the service of veterans who lived in town at the time they entered the service from World War I to the present, with provisions for future conflicts. The memorial was built with private funds, plus state grants totaling $15,000. The project cost so far is $186,000, said Bruce Blanchard, who cochairs the memorial committee with Peter Hersee. Fund-raising continues for landscaping, including a stone path to the memorial. Donatations can send to the Wenham Veterans Memorial Gift Fund, Town Hall, 138 Main St., Wenham MA 01984.
The purple pumpkins displayed along the roads in Wenham and Hamilton this Halloween season were intended to raise epilepsy awareness, and in special memory of 22-year old Andrew “A.J.” Trustey of Wenham, who died unexpectedly on Oct. 13, possibly as a result of the disease. The purple pumpkins are part of a national awareness campaign, and Trustey had talked with his mother about putting up a purple pumpkin before his death. Friends of the family painted the pumpkins for display at the reception following Trustey’s funeral, and dispersed them to friends and neighbors, according to Kristine Trustey, A.J.’s mother. For more information on the Purple Pumpkin Project, go to epilepsy.com.
Wenham Town Administrator Mark Andrews has been selected as the new town administrator in Pepperell. Andrews will begin his new job on Dec. 1 In Pepperell, where he’ll succeed the retiring John Moak, formerly town clerk and mayor of Newburyport. “I feel comfortable,” Andrews said. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The purple pumpkins displayed along the roads in Wenham and Hamilton this Halloween season were intended to raise epilepsy awareness, and in special memory of 22-year old Andrew “A.J.” Trustey of Wenham, who died unexpectedly on Oct. 13, possibly as a result of the disease. The purple pumpkins are part of a national awareness campaign, and Trustey had talked with his mother about putting up a purple pumpkin before his death. Friends of the family painted the pumpkins for display at the reception following Trustey’s funeral, and dispersed them to friends and neighbors, according to Kristine Trustey, A.J.’s mother. For more information on the Purple Pumpkin Project, go to epilepsy.com.
The Winchester Coalition For A Safer Community is scheduled to hold a community dialogue Wednesday aimed at understanding the interconnectedness of opioid and other substance abuses, mental health, and self-harming behaviors. “The influx of heroin and other drugs into this quiet town has raised alarms about actual drug and substance use and abuse in town, related criminal activity, and concerns about personal safety and mental and physical health,” coalition director Christa Russo said in a statement e-mailed to the Globe. The dialogue, to be held at the McCall Middle School, 458 Main St., from 7 to 8:30 p.m., will feature a 45-minute panel presentation followed by a 45-minute question-and-answer period. Speakers will share current statistical information about drug-related crime; discuss the correlation between mental health issues and self-harming behaviors; talk about the Youth Risk Behavior Survey; and share innovations in treatment and therapy programs. “The goal of this community dialogue is to bring the key players together to share information with the public, and get the conversation started about what can be done to curb the problems associated with this substance abuse,” said Russo. Presenters include police and fire officials, members of the probation department of the Woburn District Court, educators, Winchester Hospital representatives, and a behavioral health specialist. Town Meeting Moderator Peter Haley will moderate the panel discussions and lead the question-and-answer session. For more information, contact the Coalition’s program manager, Dot Butler,at email@example.com.
The annual Fall Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Dracut High School auditorium on Lakeview Avenue. Voters will be asked to consider 22 articles, including a proposal submitted by Assistant Town Manager and Finance Director Ann Vandal that would allow the town to impose a lien on properties for any unpaid fines issued in accordance with the state sanitary code; a request by Town Manager James A. Duggan to appropriate Community Preservation funds for 509 Hildreth St. for open space and recreational uses; and a separate request by Duggan to use Community Preservation funds for a senior housing feasibility assessment to study two parcels: the Richardson property at Bridge Street and Greenmont Avenue, and Town Annex Lot on Spring Park Avenue. To view the Fall Town Meeting warrant in its entirety, visit the town website at dracut-ma.us.
Children with disabilities will be able to enjoy the playground at Coytemore Lea Park as a result of a project the city plans with the help of a state grant. The project calls for replacing and adding features to the existing Mountain Avenue facility to make it a “universally accessible playground” that can accommodate children of all physical abilities. The state awarded a $136,000 grant under its Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities program to support the project. The city plans to pay for the remainder of the $200,000 project with federal Community Development Block Grant funds. Set to begin next spring and be completed by early summer, the project involves construction of a new play structure and swings; the addition of benches, tables, and trees; and the relocation of a wall climber. The idea came from a local resident, Wendy Tobin, who approached Ward 4 Councilor Jim Nestor about the possibility of having an adaptive swing installed at the playground that could accommodate her disabled daughter. Officials said that in considering the request, they concluded that it would meet a citywide need to have the entire playground be made fully accessible. “We’re excited to have the playground at Coytemore Lea Park accessible for all children to play regardless of ability,” said Bethany Rosa, community development director for the Malden Redevelopment Authority, which is overseeing the project.
The $2.6 million sports complex at the Pentucket Regional High School in West Newbury will be unveiled at a “grand opening’’ Nov. 16 from noon until 4 p.m. at the school’s campus, 22 Main Street. High school teams began using the new fields and facilities in October, and the feedback has been extremely positive, said to Daniel Thornton, assistant principal and athletic director. The school district — which includes Groveland, Merrimac, and West Newbury — plans to partner with the American Cancer Society to provide sports clinics and events to give people a first-hand experience of the new fields, tennis courts, eight-lane track, long-jump pits, pole vault area, and more. Members of the public are welcome; donations to the American Cancer Society will be voluntary. Later in the academic year, the school will host the Cape Ann League track championship, Thornton said, which should be particularly rewarding for athletes who have held their “home” meets off site for the past 10 years. “The kids here are ecstatic,” said Thornton.
The Peabody Institute Library plans to increase its services to non-native English speakers with the help of newly awarded federal funds. The $12,500 grant, provided to the city by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, will allow the library to make permanent and expand the English Conversation Circles program it has been offering on a pilot basis. Conversation Circles is a volunteer-led program that offers weekly opportunities for non-native English speakers to practice basic conversational English in an informal setting. The aim is to help participants become more comfortable speaking English and increase their vocabulary and knowledge of American culture and customs. Two Circles groups have been meeting under the pilot program begun in the spring of 2013, and the library has seen a demand for more groups and for more formal training of volunteers, according to officials. The grant will be used to build the library’s English Language Learning collections and volunteer resources, develop a training manual and orientation class for volunteers, and purchase equipment and furnishings for a dedicated office space for the program. With the assistance, the library also plans to recruit additional volunteers and add new Circles to meet the demand, according to assistant library director Gerri Guyote,. “We are thrilled to have this opportunity to expand a much-needed service,” she said.
US Representative Niki Tsongas recently visited Westford to celebrate the grand opening of two new affordable housing developments for veterans in Westford and Chelmsford. The Richard P. O’Neil Housing for Veterans on Manahan Street in Chelmsford features eight rental studios, while the Westford Home for Veterans on Carlisle Road includes a mix of one- and two-bedroom rental units. In all, there are five units in the Westford veterans’ home. Both developments were built by Choice Housing Opportunities for Intergenerational and Community Endeavors, Inc. (CHOICE), the nonprofit partner of the Chelmsford Housing Authority. In both towns, the new housing developments will be utilized by veterans and are supported with a rental subsidy from the Chelmsford Housing Authority. Residents of both developments also will receive needed services from the Chelmsford Housing Authority, CHOICE Inc., the local veterans service officer, and Veterans of the Northeast Outreach Center. Construction in both cases was funded through public and private partnerships. “Ensuring the brave servicemen and women who serve in our armed forces transition smoothly to civilian life should be one of our highest priorities at every level of government,” Tsongas said in a prepared statement. “I commend the Chelmsford Housing Authority for pursuing strong public/private partnerships to provide needed housing assistance to veterans in the Third District.”
The future of the town’s business district, the half-mile stretch following Route 1A from the Wenham line to the Hamilton Public Safety Building, will be the focus of three meetings beginning Saturday. The Hamilton Development Corporation is sponsoring the meetings to help form a vision for a more inviting business district, seeking input and guidance from abutters, merchants, and town residents to help town leaders, including the Planning Board, develop design standards and zoning for the area. The first is scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Hamilton Senior Center, 299 Bay Road. Follow-up workshops are scheduled for Dec. 6 and next Jan. 10 at the Hamilton Wenham Public Library, also from 2 to 4 p.m. “We look forward to having many neighbors, residents, and business owners there to help craft a vision for a more inviting downtown,” said Brian Stein, president of the nonprofit corporation, which was created by Town Meeting members in 2012 to oversee economic development in the business district.
City officials have announced that weekly free flu vaccine clinics are scheduled through December, or until the city’s supply of the vaccine is exhausted. The city said in a statement that residents and non-residents who are at least five years old are eligible to participate in the clinics. The mist vaccine is available for people under age 49 who meet specific medical screening requirements. There is no charge for vaccinations, but attendees are asked to bring an insurance card if available. The clinics will run on Thursdays through December at the City Hall Annex, 50 Evergreen Ave., from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Another clinic is scheduled for Tuesday at the East Somerville Community School, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Residents requiring additional assistance or accommodations should call 617-625-6600 ext. 4300.
The city recently concluded a monthlong community effort to encourage local residents to eat healthier foods. Through Food Day Chelsea, residents were encouraged to pledge to eat only fresh and healthy for an entire day – Oct. 24 – and then to carry through on that commitment. Throughout the month, there were also a variety of related activities, including grocery shopping tours, taste tests in the schools, and a guide to local restaurants that offered meals and pastries free of artificial trans fat, according to Melissa Dimond, manager of the Healthy Chelsea Coalition. At least 50 groups in the city circulated pledge sheets and calendars of events for Food Day Chelsea, The school activities ranged from serving kindergarten students fresh mango to smoothie-making demonstrations at the high school. Among those helping to lead the school events were high school and middle school students who serve as paid interns for the Youth Food Movement program, which teaches young people how to be community leaders in promoting healthy eating in Chelsea.