Quincy is developing some long-term plans to upgrade the city’s buildings, roads, and equipment. In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Thomas P. Koch announced that in the coming months, he plans to propose to the City Council a five-year capital improvement plan to address some of Quincy’s biggest infrastructure needs. He said it would mean “increased investment in our streets and sidewalks, sewer, water, and drainage projects, and a focus on our public buildings that need serious attention.” Quincy has not previously had a long-term capital investment plan, according to Christopher Walker, the mayor’s spokesman. He said the plan would be a “rolling” document that the city would update annually. Koch said that as part of the plan, he intends to propose major improvements to the city’s neighborhood firehouses, and that he is forming a committee to begin studying the feasibility of building a public safety headquarters. The public safety headquarters, if constructed, would be a combined facility replacing the existing police and fire headquarters buildings, both of which Koch noted are “showing the serious strains of age.” The planning study will be carried out through $1 million the city secured from the Legislature for that purpose. In conjunction with the effort, a separate committee will be studying the need for a new city animal shelter.
2015 marks Sharon’s 250th anniversary, and the town is celebrating with a year of events. Festivities were set to kick off New Year’s Day with the raising of an illuminated anniversary ball, and this week when Sharon schools reopen after the holiday break, all students and faculty will receive an anniversary wristband, according to David Clifton, co-chairman of the 250th Anniversary Celebration Committee. “We’re hoping this is a year when the community can come together to celebrate the history and diversity that the town has,” he said in an interview. The next event, an arts and music festival hosted by the Sharon Creative Arts Association, is scheduled for April 12 at the Sharon Community Center. Arts festival details will be announced as the time draws closer, he said. Other events throughout the year will include walking and bike tours, concerts, a black-tie-optional ball in June, a parade in September, and a talent show in October.
Easton and state officials recognized six organizations, businesses, and residents this month with the inaugural Greenest of Easton awards, acknowledging their efforts to improve environmental awareness and education. The town was the first in Bristol County to be designated by the state Department of Energy Resources as a Green Community, which promotes renewable energy initiatives. The certificates were awarded to the Southeastern Regional Green Team, a student group that has organized projects including a green roof at Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School; Christopher Getchell, principal at Parkview Elementary School; town resident Karen Cacciapuoti, who promotes agricultural literacy and outdoor education; the Olmsted School Green Team, for its efforts in areas including recycling; Langwater Farm, for the greenest business; and Sheila Dever-David, a kindergarten teacher at Parkview Elementary, as the greenest teacher. For more information on the Green Community program, visit www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/green-communities.
Westwood has joined other Massachusetts communities that are taking mobile and online complaints from residents about quality-of-life problems, such as potholes and street light outages. A new program through Commonwealth Connect allows residents to use their mobile phones or devices to report nonemergency issues in their neighborhoods. The platform launched last week, and already has attracted several citizen reports, including a request for repaving. The platform allows people to track the resolution of each complaint. Westwood is requesting online posts about issues such as potholes, missed trash collection, dead animals, illegal dumping, street flooding, and street light outages. The reports will be referred to the appropriate town department. People who have an emergency should still call 911; Commonwealth Connect is for nonemergencies only. The program is available for download to iPhones or Android devices. It also can be accessed on the town’s website at www.townhall.westwood.ma.us/index.cfm/page/Report-a-Problem/pid/34395.
Rockland is seeking to pay tribute to its military veterans. A committee has begun raising the $150,000 needed to erect a new memorial to Rockland residents who have served in the military from the time of the Spanish-American War, according to Anton Materna, the town’s director of veterans’ services, who is chairing the panel. The town currently has several bronze plaques listing the names of Rockland veterans on the face of the interior walls at Veterans Memorial Stadium. But Materna said the plaques, which list all veterans from the Spanish-American War through the Vietnam War, are accessible to the public only when the stadium is open. He said the new memorial would be accessible at all times and lit at night. The plan calls for aluminum plaques mounted on granite walls. The memorial will list all the names contained on the existing memorial, plus those of veterans who have served since Vietnam. The plan is for the project to be entirely funded with private donations. The committee has quietly raised about $15,000 so far. Next month, it plans to launch a major outreach effort to seek donations from members of the community or anyone else who might interested in contributing.
Youth LEAD, a Sharon-based youth leadership training organization that hosts an annual diversity conference in the Boston area, has named Beth Hoke as its new executive director. Hoke was previously executive director of the all-volunteer Sharon Pluralism Network and was trained as a clinical psychologist. She said in an interview that she plans to refocus Youth LEAD’s mission on building its local program in Sharon in the short term, while looking to build partnerships with surrounding communities over the long term. The group has previously worked with college campuses and helped launch a Youth LEAD program in Oklahoma City. In Sharon, the group is planning the annual youth-led conference for next May. More than 50 young people are enrolled in Youth LEAD, an acronym for Youth Leaders Engaging Across Differences, which seeks to foster multicultural understanding and engagement. The group also runs a small program in Brockton. According to Hoke, the previous executive director, founder Janet Penn, left the post earlier this year.
Town leaders in Abington are looking to appoint another School Committee member after the committee’s newest member resigned because he is moving to Vermont. Jonathan Mihal, who edged out then-committee chairwoman Jannette Cummings Leary in April, said he is leaving Abington to work and study at the College of St. Joseph, his alma mater, in Rutland. Mihal said he wished he could serve longer, but he was proud that he got to help with the successful campaign for a new middle and high school. Town Manager Richard LaFond said selectmen and School Committee members will meet in January to appoint someone to the job. According to the town charter, the appointee will serve until the next town election, set for April 25, at which time voters can elect someone. The opening was posted Dec. 15.
The Onondaga County Sheriff’s Department in upstate New York says it is continuing to seek leads and accept tips from residents in the town of Cicero a year after a West Bridgewater woman disappeared. Carol Nee, 50, the married mother of two adult daughters, was last seen on on Dec. 8, 2013, while visiting relatives in Cicero. Nee, who according to the sheriff’s department suffered from paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder, has not been seen or heard from since she was reported missing from the home. Detectives say there’s no indication of foul play in Nee’s disappearance. According to the department, the area around the Cicero home has been searched several times by sheriff’s deputies, aided by a K-9 unit, a helicopter, and members of the department’s Wilderness Search and Rescue Team, and turned up very little evidence. Nee is described as being 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, with black hair and green eyes. The sheriff’s department is accepting tips or leads at 315-435-3081 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The average property tax bill for single-family residents in Pembroke is going up $172 this year. The state Department of Revenue recently approved the tax rate set by the town for fiscal 2015. The rate is $14.74 per $1,000 valuation, or 5 cents higher than last year’s $14.69 per $1,000, according to Catherine Salmon, the town’s chief assessor. The owner of an average single-family home valued at $333,400 would pay $4,915 in taxes this year, or 3.6 percent higher than the $4,743 the owner of an average home valued at $322,900 would have paid last year. Salmon said some of the increase stems from the debt exclusion, or temporary tax increase, adopted by voters last January to replace and repair roofs at four town schools. The town set the rate after selectmen agreed to maintain the town’s longstanding policy of having a single tax rate for residents and businesses. The new tax rate and updated property values will be reflected in the third-quarter tax bills for fiscal 2015 that are set to be mailed this coming week. The bills for the first two quarters were estimates, based on the fiscal 2014 figures.
The Marshfield St. Patrick’s Day 5K, which bills itself as “America’s most Irish road race,” will mark its fifth anniversary in March. The race has raised more than $259,000 for special programs at the Marshfield public schools, and the town honored race volunteer Tom Miller on Dec. 8 for his dedication to the event. Last year nearly 4,000 people registered, according to Miller, who is business and finance director for the school district. Proceeds go the Marshfield Education Foundation, which offers grants to the schools. The Board of Selectmen presented Miller with a certificate celebrating the race’s anniversary and his work on the event. “I think it’s a phenomenal achievement,”said John Hall, selectmen chairman. The 2015 race takes place March 14. For more information, visit www.marshfieldstpatricksday5k.com.
Cohasset residents will soon be able to use their smart devices to report problems directly to Town Hall, and they are promised an immediate response. That’s because Cohasset has joined the Commonwealth Connect Program, a statewide program that allows residents to use their phones and computers to advise municipalities of nonemergency needs. Cohasset Town Manager Christopher Senior said he anticipates that the program will begin with the town’s Department of Public Works early in 2015, after the software is installed and staff is trained. ”Clearly it will work for things like potholes that need to be filled, trees down, or stree lights out, but it could be broader than that,” Senior said. The program started in Boston and has spread to at least 50 communities, including Braintree, Middleborough, Quincy, Randolph, and Whitman. According to the state’s website, the most frequent requests are for pothole repair, followed by requests to deal with fallen trees, trash, and graffiti.
The state Department of Revenue has approved Raynham’s property tax rates for fiscal 2015, pegging the residential rate at $15.24 per $1,000, down slightly from last year’s $15.42 per $1,000. The commercial rate was set at $21.59 per $1,000, nearly unchanged from last year’s $21.63 per $1,000. The town had set the rates — subject to the state’s approval — after selectmen decided to maintain the town’s policy of having a split tax rate and the existing shift of the residential tax burden on to businesses. Under that shift, businesses pay 26 percent more than they would if there were a single rate. Based on the new residential rate approved on Dec. 15, the owner of a single-family home valued at $309,800 will pay $4,721 in taxes this year, which is $186, or 4.1 percent, more than what the owner of an average home valued at $294,100 would have paid last year, according to Maureen Monahan, the town’s assistant assessor.
Several bidders have expressed interest in buying a former firehouse next to the Foxborough Town Common. Officials hope the sale of the town property, which includes three contiguous parcels, will spark the introduction of a mixed-use development. The deadline for development proposals is Monday.
A site walk on Dec. 1 attracted several people, according to Town Manager William Keegan Jr. The two-story brick firehouse dates to 1925. Redevelopment plans do not have to incorporate the building. The properties have a combined assessed value of $1.1 million, according to the town’s development documents. If bidders do not submit offers that are acceptable, Keegan said, the town could withdraw the property from the market. But he said he is optimistic that several offers will be made.
Walpole police have decided not to pursue larceny charges against local political blogger Sam Obar, according to Deputy Chief John Carmichael. Police had initially asked a Wrentham District Court clerk-magistrate to charge Obar with larceny for taking down two of Board of Selectmen candidate Susan Lawson’s signs last spring and replacing them with those of another candidate. But Carmichael said Obar apologized to Lawson and the police withdrew their complaint in August. “Right from the start we were fine with whatever the two could come up with,” Carmichael said last week. “There were no politics involved. It was our obligation to help somebody who felt they had been victimized. The court was just the forum, and we were just the catalyst. She was happy with the apology, and, as a result, we pulled the complaint.” Obar, an elected Town Meeting representative and college student, had no comment.
The Brockton City Council has authorized another $500,000 for legal fees to fight a proposed gas-fired power plant on the city’s South Side, according to Councilor Thomas Monahan, who represents Ward 2 downtown. The vote last Monday reaffirmed the council’s position to try to stop the power plant, sought for more than seven years by Brockton Power, a subsidiary of Swiss conglomerate Advanced Power AG. The city has spent about $1.25 million to date on the effort to block the development, which opponents say is too close to a densely populated low-income neighborhood. Mayor Bill Carpenter, who had campaigned as a power plant supporter, has advocated for settling the federal lawsuit brought against the city by the company. Earlier this month, concerned that pressure was mounting on the council to stop fighting the plant, the opposition group Stop The Power released a 14-minute video urging members to not accept a settlement. The video can be seen at www.vimeo.com/112978507
A bill dedicating all the boat excise taxes paid by boaters who live or dock in Mattapoisett to improving public docks and piers in town has been voted favorably out of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Revenue. Currently, 50 percent of the revenue collected goes to maintain public boating infrastructure. Representative William Straus, a Mattapoisett Democrat, filed the legislation after Town Meeting voters approved the measure in October. The bill, which now proceeds to the full House, would direct all boat excise revenue to the Town Municipal Waterway Fund, which oversees docks and piers. Straus said that boaters are always advocating for more funds, but that he kept the bill narrowly focused because he was unsure other coastal communities would feel the same way as Mattapoisett does. The co-chairman of the Revenue Committee, state Senator Michael Rodrigues of Westport, was among those advocating for the bill’s passage.
Abington Town Manager Richard LaFond says the town is moving ahead with demolition of the barn and house on the site of the former Griffin’s Dairy at 326 Plymouth St. and will be looking to decide what to do with the land. He said some are advocating it be used for athletic fields, particularly because there will be a temporary loss of field space during the construction of a new high school. However, he said, others in town prefer it remain agricultural. The public is invited to make suggestions on Monday regarding the site’s possible future use. Selectmen have asked the Old Colony Planning Council to help the town determine options for the best use of the property. Part of that process is hearing the public’s concerns and ideas. The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. in the Cotter Room at Town Hall. No vote is expected to be taken at the meeting.
The search is on for a new high school principal, as George Usevich plans to retire after 50 years in the Norwood school system, 25 years of them as high school principal. School officials hope to choose a successor before Usevich finishes up at the end of the school year. “George Usevich has been the heart and soul of Norwood High School,” said Superintendent James Hayden. He said Usevich’s most recent accomplishment was helping the community transition from the old Norwood High School to the new state-of-the-art school while keeping traditions and memories alive. School Committee member Courtney Rau Rogers said focus groups of students, faculty, and parents are being asked what qualities they would like to see in a new principal.
Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee is asking residents to report any suspicious activity after a weekend break-in. One or more burglars appear to have cut a screen and then opened a window to get into a house on the 400 block of Snipatuit Road on Sunday at an unusual time of day, between 6 and 8 p.m., the chief said in an interview. Most break-ins occur during the day, not in the evening when people are more likely to be home, he said. Several thousand dollars in property appears to have been stolen, including antique rings and other jewelry, collectible coins, a knife, and a pellet gun, he said. Tire tracks were the only physical evidence found, and police have no suspects, he said. Magee said that often in a rural community like Rochester, a group of thieves comes into town and targets a house, and if it is successful, it targets other homes in the area until someone is arrested.
Mary, Joseph, and Jesus will take center stage on Norwell Common Dec. 14 from noon to 3 p.m. for the seventh annual Live Nativity, presented by New Hope Chapel. Norwell’s Board of Selectmen last month unanimously approved use of the town-owned Common for the event, as it has since 2008. “I’ve gotten an e-mail here or there over the years, but there isn’t any fuss,” said Town Administrator James Boudreau. Most living nativities occur on church or other private property, but Norwell officials have said they consider the event more of a family day than a religious ceremony and have no problem with it taking place on public land, Boudreau said.
A Special Town Meeting in Cohasset voted 112 to 51 last week to reimburse a selectwoman for the $9,200 she spent in legal fees to successfully defend herself against an accusation of conflict of interest made by her colleagues. Selectwoman Martha Gjesteby was exonerated by the state Ethics Commission of the 2013 conflict charge, brought by board members at the time who alleged that she inappropriately e-mailed municipal personnel information to a private citizen. The Ethics Commission dismissed the accusation, and also upheld Gjesteby’s countercharge that the Board of Selectmen had violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it discussed her situation in a closed session.
Hanover is preparing to choose a project manager as the next step in its proposed Center/Sylvester Elementary School building project. The town is expected to seek proposals shortly from firms interested in doing the work, according to Town Manager Troy B.G. Clarkson. The Center/Sylvester Elementary School includes the third-to-fourth-grade Sylvester School building and the adjacent prekindergarten-to-second-grade Center School building. The town has proposed closing the Sylvester building — which has deficiencies in its mechanical systems and other facility issues — and constructing an addition to the Center building that would house the third and fourth grades. The Massachusetts School Building Authority in September invited the town to carry out a study examining all options for addressing the Sylvester building’s needs, including the town’s proposal. The project manager, when selected, will help the town choose an architect for the study. Town Meeting in May authorized $500,000 for the study. The school building authority may provide partial reimbursement for the costs.
Scituate Town Meeting voted unanimously earlier this month to borrow $2 million toward rebuilding 760 feet of private sea wall along Oceanside Drive in the Sand Hills neighborhood. The state would lend the money over 20 years at 2 percent interest, and also provide a $2 million grant for the project, which will extend between Third and Sixth avenues. In exchange for the new sea wall, homeowners agreed to give an easement to the town, from between 10 feet inland of the new wall to the water’s edge. Town Meeting also defeated a proposal to sell the Pier 44 property, which the town bought in 2011 with $1.8 million provided by the MBTA. The property — now known as the Scituate Harbor Community Building — is currently used for public and private events and may serve as temporary quarters for the town library while a new library is built.
Hingham municipal employees sent care packages and a group photo this month to Keith Jermyn, the town’s director of veterans services, as he continues to serve the Navy in the African republic of Djibouti. Interim director Jaime Litchfield said Jermyn is a member of the Seabees and is helping to build a base there. Litchfield, who formerly worked for the state’s Department of Veterans Services, said Jermyn, a lifelong resident of Hingham, was deployed a couple of months ago and will be in Africa about a year.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection will hold a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed backup cooling plan for the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Plymouth. Entergy, the owner of the Pilgrim nuclear plant, is seeking permission from the state to install and maintain two moorings in Cape Cod Bay. Ed Coletta, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman, said that the moorings would “allow water to be pumped into the facility to provide backup cooling,” in case of an extreme natural disaster, like the tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan in 2011. But the proposed mooring system has come under criticism by some activists. “We don’t think the plan will work,” said Pine duBois, executive director of the Jones River Watershed Association. “Given the turbulence of the bay there, I think they’re crazy.” She believes it will too dangerous for water to be pumped from that location during a major storm or disaster. “We think they should have a backup plan that works,” said duBois, who plans to attend the hearing. “We think this is for show and they’re not taking it seriously. We just don’t think it’s a good plan.” Entergy could not be reached for comment. The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the Mayflower Room of Plymouth Town Hall at 11 Lincoln St. State officials will also consider written comments received by Dec. 8. Those should be addressed to David E. Hill, Environmental Engineer, DEP Waterways Regulation Program, 20 Riverside Drive, Lakeville, MA, 02347.
A job posting for Marshfield superintendent of schools should be available Jan. 5, according to School Committee chairwoman Marti Morrison. She said in an interview that Marshfield is looking for a superintendent who is a “good, strong academic leader” who can help the school district maintain its achievement. “We’re not a struggling district,” she said. “We don’t need major changes.” Superintendent Scott Borstel plans to leave in December to teach at Johnson & Wales University, but he will be available during the transition, Morrison said. The School Committee has named Assistant Superintendent Ellen Martin to fill the superintendent’s job on an interim basis. Morrison said Martin does not plan to apply for the permanent job, so she will participate in the search. The School Committee was scheduled to meet last week with a representative of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, which is consulting on the search. A committee to screen candidates has yet to be named, she said.
Norwood voters at Monday night’s Special Town Meeting will be asked to approve money for reconstruction of the town light department’s nearly 50-year-old high tension power lines. Bernard Cooper, assistant general manager, said the project could cost $12.7 million, with approximately $2.7 million expected to come from the light department, leaving taxpayers to come up with the remaining $10 million. Other issues before voters will include whether to acquire a piece of land adjacent to Ellis Pond, whether to have the police department withdraw from the civil service system, and whether to spend up to $500,000 to replace the Callahan School boiler, though half that cost of may be reimbursed by the state.
Braintree’s public schools will spend $254,000 for new computers and technology upgrades, an expenditure approved by the Town Council earlier this month. The money comes from funds left over from previously approved school building maintenance projects that came in under budget, according to Michael Coughlin, the mayor’s chief of staff. “It’s money that’s repurposed for school technology,” he said. School Superintendent Maureen Murray said the plan was to buy a variety of different computers, iPads, and ebook readers for classrooms, and to do some work systemwide to make it possible to eventually bring wireless to all the schools. “We’re still figuring out the exact configurations,’’ she said. “But it’s been a while since we had a big expenditure like this [for technology], so we’re really looking forward to it.”
Single-family homeowners in Norton would see an average increase of $243 in their annual property tax bills later this year under the tax rate established recently by the town. The fiscal 2015 rate was set at $15.39 per $1,000 valuation, subject to approval by the state Department of Revenue. The new rate is only 2 cents higher than the town’s current one. But based on the rate, the average tax bill for a single-family home would go from $4,340 to $4,583, according to town manager Michael Yunits. He said the increase was due to a rise in property values and the debt exclusion, or temporary tax increase, that the town adopted for the high school renovation and new addition project that was completed a year ago. Yunits said the town began repaying the debt for the project last year and that the cost of those annual debt payments will rise over the next several years before peaking and heading downward. The town is funding $13 million of the cost of the overall $32 million project, with remaining costs borne by the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
A million pennies will be on display beginning Nov. 16 in town, where a collection drive met with success. Phil Hamric, who spearheaded the Lions Club fund-raiser, said 200 bags, each with 5,000 pennies, will be placed in a sofa-like shape at the Abington Library so children can sit on the windfall. The $10,000 milestone, which was reached Oct. 10, will help pay for technology upgrades at the library, as well as boost its large-print books, in keeping with the Lions Clubs International’s worldwide support of programs for the vision-impaired. Hamric said the kick-off ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. and will feature a few short speeches and music by the South Shore Men of Harmony. The pennies will be on display through Dec. 3. Hamric said he will never try to repeat the heavy-lifting fund-raiser, but he would be available for consulting. “It’s definitely a game for the young,” he said with a laugh.
A deadlocked School Committee voted unanimously during an emergency meeting Oct. 30 to reopen the search for a new superintendent and extend the contract of Interim Superintendent John Moretti. On Oct. 23, the committee took three separate votes with the same 3-3 tie between finalists Paul Haughey, director of student services in the Blackstone-Millville School District, and Craig Levis, director of special education in Smithfield, R.I. Chairman George McCabe, Jennifer Kitchenbaum, and Gordon McKinnon all supported Levis, while Ellen Pennington, Keith Boyle, and Heather Graham supported Haughey. “Democracy is messy sometimes,” said McCabe before the board voted to reopen the search. McCabe said that even if the committee were to take another vote and it were to come out 4-2 in favor of one candidate, it might not be the best solution. “It’s very difficult to start out a new position as a superintendent and not have a unanimous or near-unanimous School Committee behind you, so I believe [the extension is] probably the best solution right now,” he said. Moretti, whose contract was set to expire Dec. 31, agreed to stay on until next June 30. He has been serving since May 2013 and oversaw the opening of the new East Bridgewater Junior Senior High in September 2013.
A group of World War II veterans will get special recognition this year during the Duxbury American Legion Post 223’s Veterans Day commemoration. Adjutant General John Magnarelli said the post began the year with 19 veterans of that war, and two have since died. Magnarelli hopes to have around 10 of the “Greatest Generation” veterans attend the ceremony, which will held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the post at 5 West St. They will receive medallions and a State House proclamation. Information about the veterans, including where they served and any special medals they earned, will be cited. Magnarelli said the Duxbury Post has about 190 members, a majority of whom are from Duxbury, but also include veterans from Marshfield, Plymouth, Kingston, Pembroke, Weymouth, Quincy, and communities in Florida. He said the youngest of the group is 88. “We want to recognize these guys while we still can,” he said. “These guys are special.”
The town of Pembroke plans to seek a firm to develop and operate a solar electricity facility on its former landfill off Hobomock Street. The annual Town Meeting this past spring authorized town leaders to lease the site for a solar facility, and officials are now preparing to select a developer for that purpose, said town administrator Edwin Thorne. He said at one of its next two Monday meetings, the Board of Selectmen plans to discuss with the Energy Committee whether the selection should be done through a request for proposals. He said either way, the town hopes to have a firm in place by sometime this winter. The capped landfill is not currently in use, although the town maintains a recycling center and a place for residents to drop off grass clippings on areas adjacent to the site. Thorne said that by having a solar array built on the site, the town could receive income from the lease of the property and payments in lieu of taxes from the developer. He said it could also save money by reaching an agreement to purchase power at a discounted rate from the solar facility. Town Meeting also authorized selectmen to negotiate payment-in-lieu-of-taxes and power purchasing agreements with a future developer of the site.
Walpole voters rejected a $21.2 million tax override last week that would have allowed borrowing to pay for new police and fire stations, a new senior center, Department of Public Works garage, and improvements to the current Town Hall. The vote was 5,705 against the proposal to 4,707 in favor — a 55 to 45 percent split – according to the ttown clerk’s office. Local officials had pushed hard for the project, which won approval from the representative Town Meeting in October. The cost of the override would have varied annually over the length of the loan, peaking in fiscal 2018 when the average Walpole taxpayer would have paid about $160 more in property taxes, according to interim Town Administrator James Johnson.
Scituate’s newest selectwoman, Maura Curran, handily defeated three other candidates last week to win the seat vacated after Rick Murray’s July resignation. Her term expires next May. Curran collected 3,411 votes, to Michael G. Scott’s 2,205, Gerard P. Kelly’s 2,158, and Marilyn Howe’s 389, according to the town clerk’s office. The office said turnout was 59 percent, about twice the norm. Curran, who moved to Scituate in 1994, previously chaired the Advisory Board and School Committee and also served on the town’s Affordable Housing and Capital Planning committees. The town also has a new fire chief, John Murphy, who was sworn in late last month to replace retiring chief Richard Judge. Murphy moved up from the deputy chief position and has spent his firefighting career in Scituate.
Voters gave the final nod last Tuesday to a sweeping plan to replace Holbrook’s three public schools with one new building for pre-kindergarten through Grade 12. The project as backed by 3,102 voters — 71 percent of those who cast ballots — with 1,108 opposed and 136 ballots left blank, according to School Committee chairwoman Barbara Davis. Holbrook will pay $47.2 million for the $102.9 million campus, with the remainder — about 69 percent of eligible expenses — reimbursed by the state. Town Meeting approved the plan on Oct. 22. Julie DiBona, amother of two daughters at South Elementary School, credited the support of Selectman Matthew Moore and a volunteer committee called Promote and Vote Pre K-12 for the success at the polls. The committee held meetings, gave out information at events, and campaigned on social media. “Without that, I don’t think people would’ve been educated,” she said. Davis, an active supporter and member of the Permanent School Building Committee, held signs all day at the polling place. Supporters made phone calls and continued to campaign until the end. “It just shows you that if people have the facts, they will make a good decision,” she said. One of the next steps is to hire an owner’s project manager, and an official request for services will be ready in a few weeks, she said.
Foxborough officials have selected LLB Architects, of Pawtucket, R.I., to design a new town hall. In a Special Town Meeting Nov. 17, Foxborough residents will be asked to approve $557,585 for the design and project management services, according to Town Manager William Keegan Jr. The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Oct. 28 to recommend approval of the article. The architecture company has worked before in town, designing an addition to the mid-century Boyden Library, an $11.6 million project. After design services are completed for the replacement town hall, voters would be asked to approve construction funds at Town Meeting. Discussion about whether to replace or renovate the existing municipal headquarters date back at least 10 years. Town officials and committees are recommending new construction at the existing South Street site. Although LLB Architects is known in Foxborough for its work on the modern library, the town hall would be a Colonial design, Keegan said. LLB Architects was among six architecture firms that submitted proposals, he said. Four firms were interviewed by a committee. For the project management services during the design phase, town officials chose Vertex, a company based in Weymouth.
The Freetown-Lakeville Regional School Committee has agreed to be party to a friendly lawsuit between the town of Lakeville and the Freetown-Lakeville Regional School District to repay $268,528 that Lakeville overpaid to the district in fiscal year 2014. The purpose of the suit is to get a court order allowing the funds to be transferred without reapproval of last year’s budget, Lakeville selectwoman Mitzi Hollenbeck said in an interview. She said the district overassessed Lakeville based on state aid projections that later changed significantly. The agreement calls for the district to make three annual installments, paying $100,000 in each of the first two years, followed by the balance. Freetown would not be party to the suit, she said.
The dispute between Hingham and Aquarion Water Co. of Massachusetts Inc. over how much the town would have to pay to buy the company is headed to a Feb. 23 trial. Justice Janet L. Sanders of Suffolk Superior Court ruled on Oct. 21 that the matter would require expert testimony and, taking into account various factors, could not be decided based on a summary judgment record as requested by Aquarion. The two sides agreed that the town can buy the company, as stipulated in a 1879 statute, but are far apart on a purchase price. The town estimated the cost to be under $60 million, while Aquarion put the price at $184.4 million, according to the court decision. “We appreciated the court’s thoughtful review and decision, and look forward to presenting our arguments in the February trial,” said Town Administrator Ted Alexiades in a statement Tuesday. Officials for Aquarion said they did not want to comment on the ongoing litigation.
A state agency has issued a $4.139 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Cerebral Palsy of Massachusetts Inc. that will allow the nonprofit to buy a 5-acre parcel and three-story commercial building in Stoughton for its operations. Mark Sternman, spokesman for MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, said the purchase of the property at 600 Technology Center Drive, just off Route 139 and Route 24, will allow the nonprofit to consolidate its operations in Taunton and Quincy and its administrative, support, and program staff in one place. The organization will also buy new equipment and furnishings for the new space and renovate interior walls, upgrade wiring, and install a backup generator and power source, creating 10 office jobs and 11 construction jobs, Sternman said. “The savings we realize using bond financing will help us to be able to provide additional services to people with disabilities,” said Larry Spencer, chief executive officer of Cerebral Palsy of Massachusetts Inc.
The legal age to buy tobacco and nicotine products will rise from 18 to 21 in Bridgewater starting Jan. 1, and for the first time, pharmacies will be banned from selling such products. Smoking cessation products are not included in the ban. The Bridgewater Board of Health signed the final draft of the new regulations, which include electronic cigarettes, on Oct. 21 after initially approving a draft in September. The rules mirror those of several other communities that have raised the tobacco age, Health Agent Eric Badger said in an interview. Whatever one’s personal views, he said, “you have to support this from a public health standpoint.” The Bridgewater Town Council was considering similar regulations, but William Wood, council president, said in an e-mail that council action has been postponed because the Board of Health rules “cover it and more.”
The Dedham Greenway, a 1.5-mile stretch of a former railroad corridor, has become a focus for town planners, who held a “visioning session” last week to collect comments from residents and neighbors on how to improve the pathway.
A bicycle network plan for Lake Massapoag could be complete by the end of November, according to Christine Madore, associate planner with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the agency working with Sharon officials on the plan. The plan will identify the most popular bike routes around the lake and discuss residents’ preferences for the scale and design of signs, in hopes of helping the town build an identity for the route and draw more tourism, she said in an interview. The area is popular for cycling; a triathalon already uses the lake route, she said. The project was funded by a state planning grant to Sharon of about $12,000 because it lay along a potential corridor for the proposed South Coast Rail service, she said. The grant covers planning but not design or fabrication of signs, which would be up to the town to fund, she said. The selected train route, through Stoughton, does not pass through Sharon.
The Board of Selectmen hopes to talk to officials in Middleborough about sharing a new police facility, according to Lakeville selectwoman Mitzi Hollenbeck. Both towns need a better police station, she said in an interview, and a joint facility could be eligible for the state’s Community Innovation Challenge grant program, which awards money to encourage regionalization. Hollenbeck said that Middleborough selectmen “seemed receptive to opening up talks.” The partnership could start by moving some functions to a shared facility without necessarily regionalizing the police departments at first, she said. Both communities have talked about renovating or replacing their police stations for years. In June, Middleborough voters rejected a $12 million plan to renovate and build an addition to the town’s police station, located in the historic Peirce General Store building.
Town officials say they believe the state Board of Library Commissioners will decertify the Wareham Free Library, possibly as soon as the board’s next meeting on Nov. 1 but almost certainly by the end of December.
More than 82 percent of voters at the polls in Abington last weekend approved building a $96.4 million co-located middle and high school. “We were ecstatic,” said Jeanie Barrett, co-chairwoman of the ABC Abington/A Better Community group that worked to get out the vote in favor of the new school complex. “I think our committee did a great job of getting all the correct information to the voters.” The School Building Committee will now move forward in securing the $50.1 million in grant money offered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority and preparing detailed construction drawings, according to an e-mail sent out Monday by the building committee. It also stated that the project is set to go out to bid next summer, with construction likely to start in the late fall of 2015 and completion tentatively set for late 2017.
The Foxborough Skatepark reopened last weekend, ending a three-month closure. Town officials closed the park at Booth Playground in July, after an inspection uncovered safety problems with the original ramps. The 13-year-old park had a 5-foot U-bowl and a 6-foot bank attached to a half-pipe that needed to be repaired. A private fund-raising effort on GoFundMe, led by Joe Erhard and Jeremy Waltzer, provided $4,445 for repairs, the bulk of what was needed. Fifty-eight people contributed to the effort. The contractor was Foxborough-based Fuller Construction. The repairs consisted of rebuilding some of the frames and new plywood sheathing, according to Building Commissioner Bill Casbarra, who said he inspected the site and issued an occupancy permit on Oct. 13.
Construction of a food-to-electricity plant at the Stop & Shop distribution center in Freetown is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2015, says Greg O’Brien, a consultant for the supermarket company. Stop & Shop is reviewing bids for design and construction and will begin awarding contracts in four to six weeks, he said in an interview. Each year, the plant will convert about 40,000 tons of spoiled and unusable food from Stop & Shop supermarkets in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island into an odorless gas. The gas will be burned, generating enough electricity to power about 40 percent of the distribution center, he said. The plant is projected to create eight to 10 jobs. In addition to generating renewable energy, O’Brien said, the plant will reduce the company’s truck usage, because trucks that travel empty to Freetown to pick up food will return the spoilage that would otherwise have been hauled to landfills. Usable food will still be donated to food pantries.
A vote on a local tax of 0.75 percent on restaurant meals in Marshfield, which appears on the Oct. 27 special Town Meeting warrant, will probably be postponed until the spring, says John Hall, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
Easton is developing a comprehensive master plan, its first effort to do so in some 40 years. The “Envision Easton” draft report includes recommendations for guiding future development, encouraging economic development, and preserving natural resources, among other priorities.
The loss of Whitman native son Michael J. Donahue, who was killed by a suicide bomber on Sept. 16 during his third tour of Army duty in Afghanistan, will be remembered in a ceremony at the town park’s All-Wars Memorial on Sunday, Oct. 19, at 4 p.m.
A development in Rochester at the longtime site of R.F. Morse and Son nursery, which closed several years ago, could receive site-plan approval from the local Planning Board on Tuesday, Oct. 14, according to Mary Crain, the town planner.
Plymouth plans to take another step to bolster the health of Town Brook with the help of a grant recently awarded by the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affiars. The $40,000 award will go toward engineering oversight for the project to remove Plymco Dam from the waterway.
Blue Hills Regional Technical School, a high school of about 840 students in Canton, will provide Chromebook laptop computers for all students by Thanksgiving, according to a press release from the school.
Unsure whether what you’re seeing in the bedroom of your pre-teen or teenager is some kind of drug paraphernalia? Brockton Police and a city coalition on opioid overdose prevention have organized a walk-through exhibit on Oct. 26 that will allow parents to inspect what might be hiding among the mess.
The proposed replacement of the roof at the Indian Head Elementary School in Hanson cleared the first of two hurdles last Monday, Oct. 6, when a Special Town Meeting authorized $850,000 for the project.
Tiny Avon will get $625,000 over the next five years from the federal Drug Free Communities program — one of 680 grants awarded nationwide this year.The money will go to the Avon Coalition for Every Student, a community group dedicated to stopping youth drug and alcohol abuse, according to coalition coordinator Amanda Decker.