Globe South Community briefing

Clean bill of health

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November 8, 2007

The town's health agent is confident a local day-care center is safe for children, despite the recent treatment of a student for a bacterial staph infection. The child, whose age is not being released by officials of Lasting Impressions day care, has recovered after contracting methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, also known as MRSA. Called a "super germ" because of its resistance to antibiotics, MRSA has been linked to recent deaths of youths in New York and Virginia. The day-care center, which provides programs for 100 students, posted a notice on Oct. 31 that a student had been treated for the germ. "I went there and went through the day-care center, and I think everything is fine," said Abington's health agent, Michelle Roberts. "You can smell the bleach when you walk in. They've cleaned everything." Roberts said the infected student's doctors informed her that the child was not contagious. "The student's siblings never came down with it," she said. The day-care center, she said, did not close because of the incident. - Robert Carroll

CLOSED HEARING ON POLICEMAN - The case of Bruce Marks, the Braintree police sergeant who was placed on paid administrative leave, will be taken up by selectmen tonight. Selectmen are meeting on a night different than normal because of the Tuesday election. The reason for Marks's suspension has not been released. The meeting will be closed to the public. -Matt Carroll

TRIATHALON RETURNS - Registration is open for the second annual Cohasset Triathlon, scheduled for June 29. The first triathlon last summer was marred by the death of a participant. But officials said the race was not at fault and selectmen endorsed its continuation. As in this year's triathlon - which raised about $50,000 - proceeds from the event will go toward to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. The race will be limited to 700 individuals and 25 teams of two or three people. It will start with a 25-mile ocean swim off Sandy Beach, followed by a 12.5-mile bike course through Cohasset and North Scituate. The last leg will be a 3.2-mile run around Little Harbor. More information is available at -Johanna Seltz

AFRICAN CONNECTION - Ellen Snoeyenbos, head of the library's young-adult section, will screen a video on her daughter Gretchen's work as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali as part of a library program featuring author Kris Holloway. Holloway's book, "Monique and the Mango Rains," a memoir of her two years in Mali as a Peace Corps volunteer working with a West African midwife, was a local bestseller. Gretchen Snoeyenbos, who works in a hospital in the town of Dioila in Mali, has been raising funds in Duxbury and other local towns to provide a new sanitation system for the hospital. Free tickets for the program, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Merry Room, are available at the library. -Robert Knox

VACCINE ON HAND - A year ago, Maureen Cooke spent more time tracking down doses of flu vaccine than she did administering them. This year will be different, said Cooke, the nurse administrator for the Hanover Visiting Nurses Association. "We've already got our doses stored and ready," she said last week. "We have 800 doses ready to go." While the VNA distributed the same number of shots last winter, they did so over an extended period after problems with both the manufacture and delivery of the vaccine. "We were giving flu clinics into December last year, which is well after the start of the flu season," she said. The Board of Health has scheduled public flu clinics for Town Hall from 9 to 11 a.m. tomorrow and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. next Thursday. Flu shots are free to Hanover residents 65 and older who are covered by Medicare. Others are asked for a $2 donation.

-Robert Carroll

FANCIER FIELD - The new playing fields off Beal Street - complete with lights - should be ready for Little League baseball by the spring. That's the word from Tom Hoffmann, head of the Hingham Sports Partnership, which supports youth athletics and raised part of the money for the project. Developer Tom Hastings kicked in the bulk of the cash to reconfigure the town-owned fields for baseball and youth football, install new lights and an irrigation system, and build a fieldhouse, with a concession stand and heated bathrooms, in exchange for rezoning that allowed him to develop his adjacent property into townhouses. "In Boston, they call it linkage," Hoffmann said. "Opponents call it zoning for sale. I say it's what can be done on a public-private basis to create a win-win situation for the kids and adults of Hingham." The lights that had been on the site were moved to the Hingham Middle School.

-Johanna Seltz

THREE FLU CLINICS - The Board of Health has scheduled a series of three flu clinics, said the town's health agent, Kathy Moriarty. The first flu clinic is set for 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Winthrop Congregational Church on North Franklin Street. The second clinic is scheduled for the same time on Nov. 20 at the Council on Aging Center at 9 Jewel Road. The third flu clinic will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Holbrook Court Community Center. Residents 18 years and older may receive a free shot. The town is asking residents who are 65 years old and older to bring their Medicare card so that they can bill Medicare, which will reimburse the town for those shots, Moriarty said. Flu shots will not be administered to minors.

- Franci Richardson Ellement

SPEAK EASY - More than 400 people flocked to Hull High School on a recent Saturday to debate, orate, and recite as part of the Massachusetts Forensic League's Hull Pumpkin Tournament. The annual event attracted students from 16 high schools, with groups and individuals speaking on topics that included the effect of holding the 2008 Summer Olympics in China and whether children still can look up to professional athletes. Hull's team has about 25 members. "By learning to speak effectively, students] can learn how to change the world by being able to communicate ideas and change people's minds," said coach Greg Cunningham. "There are practical benefits as well. You can't have a job without giving a presentation, or speaking well at an interview." The Hull team is to travel to Natick on Saturday for the Gracia Burkehill Memorial Tournament.

-Johanna Seltz

WETLANDS AND WATERFRONT - The Board of Selectmen is seeking applications for seats on the town's Conservation Commission and Waterfront Committee. The town's seven-member Conservation Commission is charged with overseeing local compliance with the Wetlands Protection Act and other environmental laws and regulations. The Waterfront Committee is charged with overseeing conformity with state law on harbor regulations. Volunteers interested in serving on either board have been asked to submit letters of interest and resumes to the selectmen's office by Wednesday or to fill out an application online though the town's website, For more information, call the selectmen's office at 781-585-0500. -Robert Knox

MAPS AND MORE GO ONLINE - The town has spent three years developing a comprehensive online mapping system that can display data. The Geographic Information System maps can now be accessed through the town's website,, so residents can find out how much the homes in their neighborhood are worth. The new interactive mapping tools also allow visitors to search properties by location, land value, number of bedrooms, or sales price. The town's Information Technology Department has posted a "GIS Help" page with tips on how to use it. -Emily Sweeney

A CLEANER NEPONSET - Volunteers with the Neponset River Watershed Association recently pulled an array of trash from the Neponset River, according to the organization. Volunteers pulled grocery carts, bicycles, tires, and other items from the river at the Central Avenue bridge between Milton and Mattapan. The Department of Public Works disposed of the trash. -Matt Carroll

WALKING THE CROSSWALK - The Planning Board has awarded a $1,500 grant to the Trustees of Reservations for the engineering work needed to place a crosswalk on Dover Street from the Norris Reservation parking lot to the Post Office. The money was derived from the board's Pedestrian and Travel Improvement Fund, according to Town Planner Todd Thomas. The nonprofit trustees own the 129-acre Norris Reservation, which connects the town center with the North River. Thomas said that due to limited parking at the reservation, visitors often park at the Post Office. Because of limited sight lines and the tendency of motorists to speed in that area, the pedestrian crossings can be hazardous. Thomas said the trustees have hired the engineering firm, Coler & Colantonio of Norwell, to do the study, which will evaluate the safest location for the crosswalk. He said the town plans to paint the crosswalk. -John Laidler

SECOND CHANCE FOR STATE MONEY - The town learned last week that it has been awarded a $500,000 state grant to help it purchase the Hill-Gummerus land, an approximately 100-acre tract of open space off Valley Street, according to Town Administrator Edwin Thorne. The state had awarded Pembroke a $500,000 grant in 2005 to acquire the land, but the town was not able to use the money because of a legal dispute with the owners, and the grant expired. The dispute, the subject of an April 3 trial in state Land Court, centered on whether the town had the right to buy the land. Thorne said the town would be able to make use of the new grant only if the court grants a favorable ruling, which is pending. The property is adjacent to the 37-acre Birch Street Park and about 40 acres that was donated to the town by a developer who built a residential subdivision. -John Laidler

HELP FOR WOUNDED VET - Homes for Our Troops is calling on its volunteer work crews this weekend to build a home in Plymouth for Sergeant Brian Fountaine, a local veteran who lost both legs while serving in Iraq. The marathon construction event is scheduled to start at 8 tomorrow morning and continue for three days. The Taunton-based nonprofit aims to complete the framing, roofing, windows, doors, and siding on Fountaine's home in one weekend. For more information, visit or call 1-866-787-6677.

-Emily Sweeney

COMMUNITY REACHES OUT - A trust set up to help the Li family overcome a tragedy has received $1,600 from the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans "Care Abounds Program," according to the nonprofit Quincy Asian Resources. The Bauer House, a residence for seniors in Quincy, helped secure the money from Thrivent. Xiao Mei Chen Li, a mother of two Quincy school children, was killed in a car accident in December. A total of about $25,000 has been raised for the family, said John Brothers, executive director of Quincy Asian Resources. The community has rallied to help the family, led by city councilors Brian McNamee and Jay Davis, and several faith-based groups. -Matt Carroll

CYCLING FOR CHARITY - The Rodman Ride for Kids last month raised approximately $100,000 for the Randolph-based May Institute, a nonprofit organization that serves children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Jory Berkwits, a vice president at Merrill Lynch in Boston, and Neil Todrys, president and chief executive officer of Todson Inc. in Foxborough, both of whom serve on the May Institute's board of directors, led corporate teams during the bicycle rides. The May Institute serves an estimated 16,000 children in New England and more than 25,000 through 200 locations nationwide.

-David Connolly

HOUSING DISPUTE GOES TO VOTERS - Town officials have a bit more time before they have to answer to a Housing Court judge. A contempt-of-court complaint against Rockland selectmen and the Rent Control Board was continued to Dec. 18, after voters have registered their opinion on the matter. Hometown America, which owns the two mobile home parks in Rockland, sued the town for failing to finance the Rent Control Board. The board's lack of a budget prevented it from holding hearings on the company's proposed rent increases and evictions. The company said the delay cost it more than $100,000 in revenue from rent increases, and sued the town for that amount. The complaint also sought the incarceration of selectmen for failing to finance the board. Selectmen have argued that only town voters can approve a budget for the Rent Control Board. The matter will be put on the Dec. 10 Special Town Meeting warrant. If voters fail to support financing the Rent Control Board, the matter will return to the Housing Court.

-Milton Valencia

WINTER ACTIVITIES - The Recreation Department is offering an array of programs this winter. The department recently compiled its winter brochure, which lists 103 classes and other offerings in 29 program areas. The brochure, which residents were set to receive in the mail by today, lists activities that include cooking, CPR, fencing, yoga, music theater classes, and ski trips. The brochure is also being posted on the department's page on the town website, Registration for Scituate residents will begin with a session from 8 to 10 a.m. Nov. 17 at the high school. After that date, registration for residents will continue during regular hours at the department's office at the high school, and by mail. Nonresidents may register starting Nov. 26, at the office or by mail.

-John Laidler

DRY DAYS - A bar may not serve liquor for three days this month, the town's Board of License Commissioners has ruled. "They had quite a few violations against them, so they lost their license for Nov. 15, 16, and 17," said board chairman Franklin Fryer. "That's a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday." Fryer said the complaints against Basta Bar and Grill on Washington Street in East Weymouth included fights in the parking lot and liquor served to minors. He said neighbors also made calls about trash and noise. -Johanna Seltz

Around the region

LOCAL HEROES - A thank-you celebration for about 180 World War II veterans from town will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at Canton High School. "This is a unique group. These are the people who went through the Great Depression and the war. We won't get to see the likes of them again," said Tony Andreotti director of veterans services. "I've got them coming out of nursing homes and everywhere for this." Andreotti said it is important to recognize the World War II vets now because most are at least 80 years old. The festivities will include special recognition of each veteran, a calling of the rolls, and musical selections.

-Elaine Cushman Carroll

FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS - The Indian-American Association of Sharon plans dinner and dancing to mark the Indian festival of lights known as Diwali, which is an annual Hindi festival that celebrates victory of good over evil. The association is expecting about 400 guests for the celebration at the Sharon High School from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Nov. 17. A program led by children of association members will be featured. Tickets are $32 for adults (13 years and older) and $15 for children (ages 5 to 12). Proceeds will benefit the association. Contact

- Franci Richardson Ellement

LOTTERY LUCK - Resident Robert Pellowe on Oct. 29 won $1 million from the Massachusetts State Lottery on a $20 Billion Dollar Blockbuster instant ticket he bought at Mimi's Variety store on Main Street, according to Dan Rosenfeld, communications director for the lottery. Pellowe is the 13th person to have won a $1 million prize (there are 130 $1 million prizes in the game) since the Billion Dollar Blockbuster was introduced on Sept. 24.

-Joan Wilder

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