Volunteer Heather Pillis, who has coordinated the Ipswich curbside composting pilot program since it began three years ago, is among the finalists for MassRecyle’s 20th annual Recycling Awards, to be presented as part of the 2015 R3 Recycling & Organics Conference and Trade Show, scheduled for Monday, March 30, in the Quincy Marriott. Since the program’s inception, Pillis has worked with the town’s Department of Public Works and its Recycling Committee to secure a contractor and composting site; identify, build, and grow the collection route; promote the program; sign up participants; and manage its funds. The program has grown to include 400 households. Others nominated for awards include Lowell recycling coordinator Gunther Wellenstein; the cities of Salem and Lynn; the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea; the Danvers School District; University of Massachusetts Lowell; Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll; and Tim Deschamps, executive director of the Central Mass Mosquito Control Project. For more information, go to massrecycle.org.
Contractors have completed construction of The Batch Yard, a new luxury apartment development on the site of the former Charleston Chew factory in Everett. The developer, Post Road Residential, said the 73-unit final phase of the project was recently finished. Managed by the Bozzuto Group, the $90 million development features 328 loft-style apartments in a three-building complex at 25 Charlton St. The project incorporated details and finishes from the factory, including wood paneling and flooring that was reclaimed and re-milled from the site. According to its website, rents range from $1,600 for some studio apartments to $4,240 for the high-end units.
The robotics team at the Locke Middle School in Billerica has secured a spot at the VEX Robotics World Championship
after winning the top award at the Southern New England Skyrise Middle School Championship earlier this month. In all, the Locke Monsters Robotics team took home three awards in the regional competition: the Robotics Skills Award; the Tournament Finalist Award; and the top award, the Excellence Award. Locke eighth graders Patrick Browne, Aiden Cliff, Alex Yeh, and Sreyas Yennampelli, along with seventh grader Brayden Taylor, participated in the regional competition. Team members Corban Walsh and Matt Woodman were unable to attend. Teams from 26 countries are expected to compete in the world championship April 15-18 in Louisville, Ky.
The Yentile Farm Development Committee
is inviting residents to a presentation of the 9 Cross St. Recreational Facilitydesign at 7 p.m. April 15 in the Wilmington Middle School. The presentation is being made in advance of the upcoming annual Town Meeting, at which approval for funding for the project will be considered. Project engineers will show detailed visuals that portray the types of activities, structures, plantings, and amenities the 20.3-acre space would have, including a multipurpose artificial turf field, a playground, basketball/street hockey courts, walking paths, a picnic pavilion, concession stand, and an event green. For more information, e-mail email@example.com.
The Somerville Community Preservation Committee
has recommended using about $1.9 million for funding historic preservation and green space projects through the Community Preservation Act. The committee’s recommendations for $1,705,978 in historic preservation projects and $227,463 in green space projects were submitted on March 12 to the Board of Aldermen for approval, according to a statement from the city. Michael A. Capuano, Community Preservation Committee chairman, said in the statement that more than 100 pages of written comments on projects that sought CPA funding were received, and that many residents advocated for projects at meetings. “We’re grateful for the feedback and excited to undertake, with the Board of Aldermen’s approval, the first CPA-funded projects in Somerville’s history,” Capuano said. Approximately $4.9 million in CPA funds was available from the 1.5 percent property tax surcharge, matching funds from the state, and an additional appropriation by aldermen.
Acting on the recommendations of Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-1 on March 24 to conditionally approve the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden’s request to increase enrollment from 1,500 to 1,900 students. The action appears unlikely to end two years of contention between state officials and the school over charter conditions the state has imposed in considering the expansion. School officials said prior to Tuesday that the conditions attached to the approval prevent the expansion from moving forward. The board continued a condition that Mystic Valley’s board of trustees engage in governance training and two conditions — now combined into one — relating to enrollment. It also added a condition that the school establish a program for English language learners.
The new Bentley Academy Charter School in Salem filled nearly all its available seats in the school’s first lottery. The kindergarten to fifth grade school, which is set to open this fall, drew 294 applicants for 275 available spots. Every grade but the second — which had four remaining slots — filled all its seats and now has waiting lists. More than 90 percent of the current Bentley kindergarten to fourth grade students applied, and all that did will be enrolled automatically. Families whose children were offered seats need to return their enrollment confirmation forms by Friday, April 3. The school continues to seek applications for additions to the waiting list and for the remaining second grade seats.
A survey sent by Marblehead Schools Superintendent Maryann Perry set off a firestorm of controversy over whether students should attend school on religious holidays when there is currently no school. Citing the large number of snow days this winter, the Marblehead School Committee had already scheduled a half-day on Good Friday — April 3 — when Perry sent an e-mail to parents explaining that the leadership was reexamining the calendar for the next school year, and asked if parents preferred a full-day, half-day, or no school on four religious holidays during the 2015-16 school year: Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 14 and 15); Yom Kippur (Sept. 23), and Good Friday (March 25). After hearing from a large contingent of the community – including some religious leaders — at a March 19 meeting, the committee opted to drop the idea without a vote. “It seemed like this year’s snow was being used to eliminate religious holidays next year,” noted state Representative Lori Ehrlich, who attended the meeting as a resident. “I don’t like the message that sends.” While Ehrlich thought it was not intentional, she called the measure “ill-conceived,” noting that the survey offered no other options, such as beginning school before Labor Day or rearranging the February and April vacations. Perry could not be reached for comment.
Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is giving organizers of an initiative to transform the vacant Cogswell School on South Main Street in Bradford into a vibrant community arts center a chance to make their vision a reality. The mayor has offered the group a three-year lease on the property that includes an option to purchase. The City Council is expected to approve the agreement in April. “We’re giving them the opportunity to lease the building, to see if they can raise the money to buy it,” said Fiorentini, who said he has “a lot of confidence” that the Cogswell Art Center Committee will be able to secure funding for the purchase. The city requested proposals for the property late last year and received two responses; the other was for high-density housing.
Peabody has collected $2.7 million in back taxes from 227 residents and businesses over the past four years. City treasurer Jeanne Carnevale said the outstanding taxes were collected through a systematic effort Peabody initiated when Mayor Ted Bettencourt took office in 2011. The program has involved using an outside counsel to initiate land-taking proceedings against those who do not respond to notices demanding payment. Carnevale said only a handful of the 227 cases are still pending in court. She said the city wanted residents to know that while taxes have gone up, “We are trying to do our part by making sure everyone pays their fair share.”
Paul McGeary, president of the Gloucester City Council, has announced his candidacy for mayor, joining City Councilor Greg Verga in the race. McGeary is a three-term city councilor and is a former longtime Boston Globe employee. Neither candidate has taken out nomination papers, though City Clerk Linda Lowe noted that traditionally, Gloucester candidates do not take out papers until April. To be listed on the ballot, a candidate must return papers by Aug. 11 for the Nov. 3 election. Depending on the number of candidates, Gloucester may also hold preliminary elections on Sept. 29.
The city of Everett has been named a finalist for a national award that recognizes community efforts to help people live healthier lives. Selected from more than 340 communities nationwide, Everett joins just 14 other finalists for the third annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. Lawrence was the only other finalist from Massachusetts. Winners will be announced this fall. In a recent Facebook post, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria said the city is committed to building a culture of health for all residents, noting that Everett’s public schools, health and recreation departments, and local community organizations such as Tri-Cap, La Communidad, and the Cambridge Health Alliance, have his “unyielding support and encouragement in order to provide our community with more services, more opportunities, and more education for healthier and happier lifestyles.” To learn more, visit rwjf.org.
An eight-week workshop and mentoring program for immigrants who want to pursue culinary careers has launched this month. The pilot for the Nibble Entrepreneurship Program has participants who hail from a variety of countries, including Brazil, India, Somalia, and Colombia. Experts from the food industry and city employees will discuss menu selection, food sourcing, business planning, and marketing, among other topics. Participants will also complete a final project, such as creating a small product line. Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said in a prepared statement that the city wants to create opportunities for more immigrants to work in the local food industry. “Somerville has become a regional food destination, and our immigrant community is a huge part of why we’re increasingly becoming known for our eclectic cuisine,” he said. For more information, contact Rachel Strutt at Rachel@somervilleartscouncil.org
or at 617-625-6600 ext. 2985, or visit www.somervilleartscouncil.org.
Medford is seeking a nonprofit to operate its community access channel. Medford Community Cablevision previously operated the channel until its board dissolved the corporation in 2013. Since then, the channel has been inactive and there has been no public access programming, according to city solicitor Mark Rumley. The city’s two other cable access channels continue to provide educational and government programming. The city has advertised a request for proposals from prospective groups to operate the community access channel. The deadline to respond is Thursday, though that date may be extended, said Louise Miller, the city’s chief procurement officer. The channel will operate out of space at Medford High School that the city plans to renovate for the purpose.
During a March 10 Special Town Election, Tyngsborough voters approved two debt exclusions, or temporary tax hikes, to fund a new roof and boiler system at Tyngsborough High School and repair five roads: Lakeview Avenue, Mascuppic Trail, and Cummings, Dunstable, and Lawndale roads. According to Town Clerk Joanne Shifres, the vote on the school project was 544-360; the vote on the road repair work was 494-404. The school project is expected to cost no more than $4,07 million, , with 52 percent of the project covered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority. As a result, the debt exclusion for the high school work will 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 road work will add $79 per year for five years.
Winthrop School Superintendent John Macero and his wife, Trudy, have been honored by the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their commitment to providing children in town with quality arts education. The couple were among the winners of the council’s 2015 Commonwealth Award, recognized in the category of Creative Youth Development. Trudy Macero is founder and director of the Winthrop School of Performing Arts, where her husband is the longtime acting coach. The council presented the Maceros with the award at a ceremony in Winthrop on March 11. “John and Trudy Macero have been cultural leaders in the town of Winthrop for over 25 years and are synonymous with performing arts in the community,” Joanne Hillman, chairwoman of the Winthrop Cultural Council, said in a prepared statement.
Winchester town officials have scheduled a special election for June 9 to ask for voter approval of a debt exclusion, or temporary tax hike, to appropriate funding for work at Skillings Field. Among the projects under consideration: the proposed installation of a fourth culvert under the field as part of Winchester’s flood mitigation program; remediation of the hazardous materials in the field’s soil as mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; and, possibly, the installation of synthetic turf for the baseball field. The town’s Board of Selectmen is expected to decide this week which projects will be included on the ballot.
Peter Lombardi, director of policy and administration for Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday since 2012, was recently selected town administrator in Wenham. Pending a successful background check and contract negotiation, Lombardi will replace Mark Andrews, who left to take a similar job in Pepperell. This will be the first town administrator’s job for Lombardi, who also has worked for the town of Winthrop as a grants administrator. “He has some very impressive responsibilities in Newburyport, which is a much bigger [municipality] than Wenham,” said Jack Wilhelm, chairman of the Wenham Board of Selectmen and acting town administrator. “We hope we’re got the right person and he’ll stay awhile.” There were 45 applicants for the job.
The city of Lawrence has been named a finalist for a national award that recognizes community efforts to help people live healthier lives. Selected from about 350 communities nationwide, Lawrence joins 14 other finalists for the third annual Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize. Everett was the only other finalist from Massachusetts. The 10 winners will be announced this fall; a site visit to Lawrence is planned for mid-April. “We’ve recognized for years that health is about so much more than treating illness,” said Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera. “It’s about making sure that everyone has access to the services they need, to safe and affordable housing, to education and to employment, and that’s what drives our commitment to creating a culture of health.” To learn more, visit rwjf.org.
In response to a petition by Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School seniors, the school will conduct this year’s graduation ceremony on its own campus and not at the chapel at nearby Gordon College in Wenham. At a meeting held earlier this month, the Hamilton-Wenham School Committee voted, 4-2, in favor of the request made by students unhappy with Gordon’s stance on gay rights. That position was highlighted last year when college president Michael Lindsay was among religious leaders seeking a religious exemption from a presidential executive order prohibiting employment discrimination for sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Wakefield public schools are creating a new STEAM Task Force to help the district enhance its science, technology, engineering, art, and math curriculum. The group includes a core team of teachers and administrators from STEAM subject areas that has begun after-school meetings to work on specifics of curricular design. The educators will be joined on the task force by parents, business people, and other community members. Anyone interested in applying for those seats is asked to contact assistant superintendent Kim Smith by Friday at firstname.lastname@example.org. The overall task force will hold monthly public meetings starting with an April 2 kick-off session to further shape a STEAM vision and action plan, Smith said.
Small businesses in Somerville that have been impacted by snow this winter can apply for $5,000 to $10,000 micro-loans, small, short-term loans at low interest. The city said in a statement that the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, a quasi-public agency that works to spur economic development across the state, will make up to $1 million available. This snowstorm loan fund is intended to help small businesses regain their financial stability, and the program will run until May of this year. Additional information can be found on the agency’s website at www.massgcc.com. Businesses will need approval and a signoff from a local partner entity, which can be completed by the city of Somerville’s Economic Development office. Those with questions can contact Max MacCarthy at 617-625-6600, ext. 2515, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Revere is getting some free help in exploring its future growth opportunities. A contingent of 50 students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design is taking part in an eight-week urban planning exercise in the city. Working in small teams under the direction of faculty members, the students are exploring the development potential of various sites across Revere. As part of the work, they will be seeking community input. The students will present their findings at a community meeting in late April and in written reports. “This talented team from Harvard will be a great asset to city staff over the coming weeks, and I am looking forward to reviewing their findings,” Mayor Daniel Rizzo said in a prepared statement.
The Reading Police Department has received a $5,000 grant to conduct alcohol compliance programs aimed at curbing under-age drinking. The grant funds will enable local police to monitor, analyze, and, when appropriate, take legal action on both minors who seek to circumvent the law and people and businesses that enable them. The grant’s funding comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. “Teens and parents need to be reminded that under-age drinking is not a game. It’s deadly serious,” said Reading Police Chief James W. Cormier. “Parents need to know that hosting a party where alcohol is served to minors is both illegal and extremely dangerous for the minors and others in the community. Parents should also know they’ll face all legal liabilities.”
Gloucester will play an active role in the Seafood Expo North America, which will be held Sunday through Tuesday at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Interim Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken on Sunday will demonstrate how to cook under-utilized species. In addition to showcasing the city’s working waterfront, commercial fishing history, and economic opportunities at the expo, the city has scheduled a Monday tour for overseas delegations, and another for later in the week. “This is a great opportunity to really showcase the city and for companies here to make some international connections,” said Sal DiStefano, the city’s economic development director.
Four local residents who work at Northern Essex Community College have been named recipients of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Awards for Excellence, which recognize outstanding teachers in the country’s community colleges. The winners are Deirdre Budzyna of Newburyport, a professor in the college’s early childhood education program; Amy Callahan of Newburyport, coordinator of the journalism/communication program; Linda Giampa of Amesbury, academic coordinator of the college’s reading center; and Abby Thomas of Andover, curriculum coordinator of the English as a Second Language program. Also honored were Robert West of Manchester, N.H., laboratory technician and natural science safety officer; and Kristen Quinn of Boston, associate professor of accounting. Northern Essex has campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence.
The Salem School Committee has voted, 7-0, to select Margarita Ruiz as the city’s next school superintendent. The appointment at a special meeting March 6 was subject to the city negotiating a contract with Ruiz, a network superintendent and former principal for the Boston public schools. Ruiz was one of two finalists for the job; a third dropped out just before the meeting. “Both her community sessions and her interviews demonstrated she was competent, capable, and committed, and she’s also a Salem resident,” said Mayor Kimberley L. Driscoll, who chairs the committee. “I certainly felt from my perspective that she could be the clear-thinking, fair but accountable and inclusive leader we want for all our students, families, and staff.”
The Beverly City Council has approved a special permit for Windover Development to construct 32 apartments on the site of the former McKay School. The Beverly-based firm plans to house the apartments in the original school building and in a two-story addition that would replace the existing gymnasium. The project also calls for a public walkway that would complete the city’s Shoe Pond Walking Trail. The city has agreed to sell the site to Windover for $950,000. The school closed in 2002.
Longtime call fire Captain Nathan Walker was recently named fire chief in Newbury. Walker succeeds former chief William Pearson, who recently retired after turning 65. Walker, a 15-year veteran of the department, is the son of Board of Selectman chairman Geoff Walker. His annual salary – which needs the approval of the Personnel Board – is proposed at $60,000.
A race to succeed outgoing town moderator Charles A. Murphy is one of three contests on the ballot of Burlington’s April 11 town election. Murphy, a former state representative, opted not to seek reelection as moderator. Vying for his seat are Phillip Gallagher, a former town moderator and current library trustee; and Sally Willard, a longtime town meeting member and former chairwoman of the Land Use Committee. Meanwhile, Carol Perna and Jeffrey Pearsons are competing to fill the remaining term on a vacant Planning Board seat. There are three contenders for two seats on the Board of Health: incumbent Elizabeth Walendziewicz, David B. McSweeney, and Jaclynn K. Sulfaro. Ten people are running unopposed for townwide seats.
The KIPP Academy Lynn charter school will grow by 736 students as a result approval from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. The school currently serves 850 students in the fifth to 12th grades at its middle and high school campus at 90 High Rock St. KIPP plans to add 600 students in a new kindergarten-grade 4 elementary school, and 136 students to its existing grades. The elementary school will open in August with a founding class of 120 kindergartners at a site to be determined. Lottery applications for prospective students are being accepted by mail or in person at the High Rock Street campus through 5 p.m. on Monday.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has named Shawsheen Valley Technical High School in Billerica a winner of its seventh annual Municipal Blue Innovation Award for having a role-model worksite wellness program, said Larry Croes, Blue Cross’s vice president of commercial and municipal markets. The award includes a $5,000 grant. Shawsheen offers its staff a customized wellness program that includes incentives for participants. The school also holds wellness seminars, including classes on how to manage stress and improve employees’ health. According to Superintendent Charlie Lyons, the grant will be used to augment equipment in Shawsheen’s fitness facility, which is used heavily by both students and employees.
Mary Butler will become the first female police chief in the city of Salem. Butler, who began work as a patrol officer in Salem in 1987 and rose to acting captain, was appointed chief last week by Mayor Kim Driscoll. Butler, who holds two bachelor’s degrees from Salem State, will be sworn in later this month. She will succeed Paul Tucker, who was elected as a state representative last fall. “Throughout her career, Mary has demonstrated the utmost integrity and professionalism in her approach to policing and true leadership in the department,” Driscoll said in a prepared statement. “I’m extremely excited and enthusiastic to have this opportunity to serve the city of Salem, its citizens, and the officers of this department,” said Butler.
Gloucester is the latest police department to warn residents of an Internal Revenue Service-themed scam targeting senior citizens, joining Arlington, Bedford, Billerica, Carlisle, Ipswich, Wakefield, Saugus, Stoneham, and Wenham. Gloucester Chief Leonard Campanello reported that citizens are being contacted by scammers identifying themselves as IRS agents, demanding they wire money for unpaid taxes and threatening arrest, seizure of property, and large fines. “These calls are a scam, and residents should never give money, wire money, or give a prepaid debit card number to someone claiming to be an IRS agent or police officer over the phone,” Campanello said in a prepared statement. The scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number, and background noise and toll-free “IRS numbers” on caller ID may support the scam. Those who think they may owe taxes can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040.
Boston 2024, the group organizing the bid to host a Summer Olympics, will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Lowell City Hall. State Senator Eileen Donoghue, a Democrat who supports bringing the Olympics to Boston, will host the meeting. Boxing at the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell and rowing on the Merrimack River are among the Olympic events being considered for Lowell. The meeting is one of 20 community meetings Boston 2024 is hosting as part of its public outreach.
The city of Lawrence on Tuesday is scheduled to hold an application drive from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at City Hall for the upcoming Civil Service police officer written exam. The event guides individuals interested in becoming a police officer through each step of the application process and answer any questions. Computers will be set up, allowing interested parties an opportunity to fill out the Civil Service exam application and pay online. The exam is scheduled to be administered April 25. For more information, contact the city’s personnel department at FBonet@cityoflawrence.com
Author Casey Sherman and Boston journalist Dave Wedge raised $2,500 for the Officer Sean Collier Self Sponsor Scholarship Fund at a recent event held in New York for the release of their book, “Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph Over Tragedy.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the scholarship fund in memory of the Wilmington native, who authorities allege was slain on the MIT campus by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects. The scholarships help officers going through the Massachusetts Police Academy. Tax-deductible donations may be sent to: Officer Sean Collier Self-Sponsor Scholarship Fund, c/o Sgt. Richard Sullivan, 301 Vassar St., Building W89, Cambridge 02139. Checks should be payable to MIT with “Collier Scholarship” in the memo line.
Somerville has named Nicole Terez Dutton its first poet laureate. Dutton, a teacher at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, will serve for two years at a $2,000 annual stipend. The city has a “talented, well-educated, and thoughtful writer’s community that needs a voice,” Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone said in a prepared statement. “In Nicole Terez Dutton, Somerville gains a tremendous advocate and partner for the writing arts. “Nicole’s work is poised and insightful, and I think it will really resonate with the Somerville community.”
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.
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
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 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.
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 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 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.”
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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/.
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 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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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 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.”
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 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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Applicants must also include their phone number and e-mail address.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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