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Tapping into voters' minds


Selectman Thomas J. Corbett wants to know what's on the minds of voters. Corbett last week proposed putting three to seven public opinion questions on the ballot for the annual April town election . The questions could include adopting a townwide moratorium on building to switching to a pay-as-you-throw trash system, he said. "I see it as a great way to get a survey of what people are thinking," he said. "In a perfect world, people could give us their opinions using a website where everyone would have a pass code where they could vote just once. Until that time, this is the best thing to do." Corbett said the questions would be nonbinding. -- Robert Carroll


FINAL TOWN ELECTION -- Residents will soon have a chance to vote in an historic event: the last town election. The election is set for April 3 . The town is turning to a city form of government at the end of the year. However, residents will get th e chance to vote only if they have registered by March 14 . The town clerk's office will be open until 8 p.m. that night to accommodate residents. -- Matt Carroll


DOG-GONE DECISION -- Lily and Dudley are leaving town. The Labrador retrievers were the subject of a crowded hearing last month in which several people aired complaints about the dogs' behavior. Town Manager William Griffin, who ran the hearing, said, "There was one where one of the dogs attacked a young girl, a baby sitter, and four attacks on other dogs." Griffin had closed the hearing and the next day was deliberating what to do about the animals -- whose owners described them as gentle and loving -- when he got a call. "It was from the owner saying he was going to voluntarily move the dogs," Griffin said.

-- Johanna Seltz


DEED SCAM ALERT -- In response to a direct-mail offer targeting many area residents, Norfolk County Register of Deeds William P. O'Donnell is reminding the public that the county will provide certified property deeds for $1 a page, compared with the $59.50 offered by one company. O'Donnell said his office has received many inquiries from residents who had received the mailing and wanted to prevent homeowners from paying such a exorbitant fee. Homeowners may visit the Registry of Deeds at 649 High St. in Dedham and can view their deed online at .-- Peter Schworm


SEA WALL REPAIRS -- Selectmen have voted to recommend that Town Meeting approve a proposal to borrow $350,000 for sea wall repairs. The town has received a state grant to cover 50 percent of the construction cost. Town officials said the sea walls in need of repair include a 50 -foot section in front of homes on Ocean Road South and a 300 -foot section along Bay Avenue . The proposal would also give officials the OK to request state authorization to implement betterments on properties that would benefit from the seawall repairs. The plan will go before voters at the Special Town Meeting scheduled to begin March 10 . -- Robert Knox


A BOUNCE IN THEIR WRESTLING -- Ryan Murphy is getting a jump-start on a career as a professional wrestler. Not content to watch wrestling on television, the 12-year-old Hanover Middle School student organized what he and his friends call "World Trampoline Wrestling." Made up of 20 friends, the league holds weekly competitions throughout Murphy's Meadowbrook Lane neighborhood. "We've got five trampolines we use," said the talkative Murphy, who has the matches videotaped and later downloaded on the Internet for public viewing. Most of the matches have been held behind Murphy's house , where his mother, Dari, can watch. "You worry as a parent that they don't get hurt," she said. "But they're good about it and never let it get out of hand. Besides, it's a good way to know where they are." -- Robert Carroll


TWO CONTESTED RACES -- Voters will get to fill 14 town positions when they cast their ballots April 28, but so far only two of the races are contested. Gary Tondorf-Dick and John F. Gamache both are running for a four-year seat on the Planning Board. The seat had been occupied by Tod McGrath , who resigned to move to the appointed Zoning Board of Appeals . Tondorf-Dick recently was appointed by the selectmen to fill the planning position until the election. The other contested seat is on the Recreation Commission , a board known for its often-contentious meetings. Budd Thorne and Robert Whitney are running for the five-year seat now held by Cheryl Bierwirth. Bierwirth has not said whether she will seek re election. Candidates have until March 8 to return nomination papers. . -- Johanna Seltz


SIX WILL NOT SEEK RE ELECTION -- Six incumbents this year have decided not to seek another term on town boards, town officials said. The open seats will be on the School Committee, Board of Assessors, board of trustees of the public library, Board of Health, and Planning Board, according to Aloyse Haley , administrative assistant in the town clerk's office. Only two incumbents are seeking re election. Richard B. McGaughey is seeking another term on the Board of Selectmen, and is being challenged by Dale Lewis . Incumbent Christine Golden is seeking re election to the School Committee. Two challengers, John Flanagan and Kevin Costa, are also running for School Committee. Carol Ann Murphy and William D. Marble will run for the Board of Assessors. Christopher Golden , Rudolph Mosesso, and Kimberly A. Allard-Moccia are running for a five-year term on the Planning Board, while Timothy J. Gordon is seeking election to the vacant three-year seat on the Planning Board. -- Franci Richardson Ellement


PREKINDERGARTEN CLASSES TO MOVE -- Prekindergarten classes will move next year to a section of the high school library , despite objections from the librarian and some high school students. The three classes now are located at the Lillian M. Jacobs Elementary School, but need to move because of construction there. The fifth grade already has moved from the Jacobs to Memorial Middle School -- after problems with mold forced the town to close the temporary classrooms it was using. The School Committee voted to keep the fifth-graders at the middle school next year while construction continues at the Jacobs. A petition signed by high school students urged the School Committee not to take away a section of their library for the prekindergartners.

-- Johanna Seltz


KUDOS FOR TOWN'S WEBSITE -- Kingston has been recognized by Common Cause of Massachusetts as one of a handful of communities that list essential public information on their town websites. The public interest group examined all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts for postings of important public business, including governing body agendas, meeting minutes, the town budget, general bylaws, and Town Meeting articles and results. In all these areas, Kingston had current documents posted. Town officials praised the work of assistant town clerk Shelley Loring , the town's website coordinator responsible for supervising content postings. Common Cause will recognize Kingston along with 41 other communities for their websites at ceremonies at the State House on March 15 during Sunshine Week, when the focus is on the need for open government. -- Robert Knox


SCOUT OUT SUMMER CAMPS -- It's still cold outside, but summer is just around the corner. Have you checked out any summer camps for your children? Representatives from area camps will be at the South River Elementary School on March 3, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., to answer questions and provide information about various summer opportunities for children and teens. For more information, call Lorraine Collins at 781-837-9226. -- Emily Sweeney


PLANNING DIRECTOR HIRED -- Selectmen have hired William B. Clark Jr. of Milton as the new director of planning. His pay will be $64,400 . He had worked for a few months as the transportation planner for the Old Colony Planning Council and as a senior regional planner for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council , where he worked from 1993 to 2006 . He has also served as a Town Meeting member, a member of the Conservation Commission , and a youth basketball and baseball coach. -- Matt Carroll


CANDIDATES NIGHT -- The Norwell Chamber of Commerce will hold a candidates night Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Osborn Room at Norwell Town Hall. All candidates running for office in the upcoming town election have been invited to speak. The event is free .

-- John Laidler


SUBDIVISION HEARING RESUMES TOMORROW -- The Planning Board at its meeting tomorrow will continue a public hearing on the application by John Wyman for approval of a proposed subdivision, Mending Wall Estates, off West Elm Street. The subdivision would consist of 12 single-family homes. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

-- John Laidler


LIBRARY OFFERS SELF-CHECKOUT -- The Plymouth Public Library now has two self-checkout machines that will allow patrons to sign out books on their own. The machines were manufactured by 3M, and the purchase of the system was funded by donations from Tech-Etch Inc., headquartered in Plymouth.

-- Emily Sweeney


DEVELOPMENT'S FOES TO MEET -- Neighborhood residents trying to stop the development of 271 Sea St. are planning a public meeting on Thursday. The meeting will be held at Our Lady of Good Counsel parish hall at 7 p.m. The proposed development site is adjacent to the Broad Meadows Marsh . A group called the Save 271 Sea Street hopes the site can be purchased by the city using Community Preservation Act money. -- Matt Carroll


DRUG, WEAPON SEARCHES -- The School Committee next month is expected to pave the way for unannounced searches for weapons and drugs at the high school and middle school. According to the policy, which is scheduled for a vote March 15, the superintendent and principals would decide when to launch a search and then cooperate fully with police. Members of the School Committee would receive a written report detailing the findings of any search. "Having searches like these show the community and students that we will not allow certain types of behavior in our schools," School Committee member Marybeth Nearen said. -- David Connolly


ELDERLY RESIDENTS ALLOWED HOME -- Residents of the Studley Court elderly housing complex were able to return to their homes last week after being evacuated by the Fire Department days before, when heavy ice and snow caused the roofs to crack and water to pour into some of the seven apartment buildings, according to Carolyn Gunderway , executive director of the Housing Authority. Though there was not extensive damage to the buildings when cement on the flat roofs cracked Feb. 14 , electricity was shut off to all units as a safety precaution, and all 42 residents had to evacuate. Residents stayed with relatives and at local hotels before returning Feb. 16 , an expense that Gunderway said will be paid by insurance coverage, the Housing Authority, and the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. The apartment buildings received new roofs in 1996 , and cracks have been patched with roofing cement and tar in the past decade. -- Erin Conroy


POLLARD WILL NOT SEEK A THIRD TERM -- His term expires this spring, and Selectman James E. Pollard's name will not be on the ballot for the March 31 annual town election. Pollard said he decided not to seek election to a third term because of a desire to spend more time with his family, and because he was not sure if he could dedicate the time and energy over the next three years that he feels the position demands. Pollard said change can be good for the board, noting the fresh energy and ideas new members can bring. Two candidates are vying to succeed Pollard: John F. Danehey and David A. Pallotta. Incumbent Joseph P. Norton is running unopposed for the other selectman's position on the ballot. -- John Laidler


COLUMBIAN SQUARE IMPROVEMENTS SOUGHT -- Driving through Columbian Square can feel like a high-risk venture, with four directions of traffic converging at an intersection with no traffic lights or obvious rights of way. "It doesn't function well now," said Mayor David Madden. He has asked for proposals on ways to improve the area, one of the town's four village centers. He said he is looking not only at the traffic design, but also at streetscape, sidewalks, and parking. The town has more than $2 million to spend, from the developers of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station . "We think the air base redevelopment will be very successful, but we have to be careful it won't drain activities from other areas of town," he said. "Columbian Square is the most vulnerable, since it's the closest. We have to make sure its vitality is preserved, if not improved."

-- Johanna Seltz