Globe South Community briefing

Homeless advocate

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November 22, 2007

Father Bills & MainSpring, an organization for the homeless, presented Bridgewater State College president Dana Mohler-Faria with the Marie Sheehan Heart of the Homeless Award. The honor was bestowed during the organization's recent "Dishin' It Up for the Homeless Dinner and Auction." The event drew more than 500 and raised $150,000. In accepting the award, Mohler-Faria announced plans to create a task force on homelessness at Bridgewater State. "Through the work of the presidential task force, we will further focus our research, outreach, and educational efforts on tackling this critical issue," Mohler-Faria said. "It's my hope that the entire institution can rally behind this cause and have a significant impact throughout the region." - Christine Wallgren

FINDING THE UNINSURED - Two community organizations that specialize in healthcare have received grants under a state program to identify and enroll individuals eligible for any of the state health insurance plans. The Latin American Health Institute and the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center will each receive $55,000 in the state Office of Medicaid's $2.4 million program to enroll residents eligible for MassHealth, Commonwealth Care, and Commonwealth Choice. Thomas Dehner, director of the Office of Medicaid, said that community-based organizations like these play an important role in identifying families and residents who would be eligible for any of the state-run health programs. Organizations that received funding were chosen because of their location in areas where there are many uninsured people and few healthcare providers. - Milton J. Valencia

SELF-PROMOTERS - The town's newest tool for promoting economic development is up and rolling, and it didn't cost the town a dime, according to Town Manager William T. Friel. Four short films that give "snapshots of the town in a welcoming tone" are available for viewing on the Internet and through the website, Friel said. He said the town, in conjunction with CGI Communications of Rochester, N.Y., produced the films. The funding came through businesses that have placed links to their own websites with the videos. Friel said he came across the idea at an international city managers meeting, production began about six months ago, and the videos went online about three weeks ago. Friel said the promotion fits in with the Board of Selectmen's goal to promote business development as a key to assuaging the town's tight financial situation. The videos may be seen by clicking on the "Community Videos" link at - Elaine Cushman Carroll

BOWMAN'S POINT PLAN SHRINKS - The Planning Board will discuss the latest version of the proposed Bowman's Point subdivision in South Carver at its meeting on Dec. 4 at Town Hall. In order to provide for a 200-foot buffer from adjacent Sampson's Pond for all lots, developer Bowman Point LLC has reduced the number of lots in the project from 59 to 38. The reduction in density has also addressed neighbors' concerns with the density of the development. Planners, however, are seeking advice from the town's legal counsel on the extent of their regulatory authority over the property before acting on the proposal. - Robert Knox

PUBLIC CHIMES IN - More than 600 people responded to a survey regarding core values for the school district. The online survey, concluded on Nov. 19, touched upon such topics as respect, communication, learning environments, and academic excellence. The responses will be used to construct a mission statement for the school district, a process that will include a second community survey next month. "People have been great about responding and giving us specific feedback on values," said June Doe, school superintendent. - James Vaznis

ONLINE TUTORING - The Ames Free Public Library has begun offering a computer-based tutoring program for area students. The library has linked with's Live Homework Help, which has more than 2,000 screened tutors ready to talk over the Web about math, science, social studies, and English. Students in grades 4 through 12 can get one-on-one help by logging in between 4 and 9 p.m. daily. Library card holders can access the program through the library's website, - Milton Valencia

STATE-OF-THE-ART SAFETY - It's official: Last Thursday at 4 p.m., Police and Fire Department phones began ringing at the new Foxborough Public Safety Building on Chestnut Street, said a public safety dispatcher at the state-of-the-art station. While the phones mark the official move, police and fire employees are continuing to vacate their former digs, as they settle into the $15.5 million building. "It's overwhelming," was all Police Chief Edward O'Leary could say as the move was in progress. - Joan Wilder

STORIES FROM THE HEART - As the town approaches its 325th anniversary, a committee of about a dozen residents is working to prepare a three-day celebration for July, according to Jean Fox, a selectwoman and one of the organizers. Fox said the committee is also seeking short written submissions from anyone who would like to share a story about the town's history as part of a commemorative booklet being compiled by the committee. "We want items written from the heart and soul of people who live here," Fox said. She said help is needed to plan the celebration, which will coincide with the town's Independence Day celebration. Fox can be reached at 508-644-2949. -Elaine Cushman Carroll

SANTA AND COMPANY - On Dec. 1, Santa will team up with the Fire Department and the Girl Scouts for the ninth annual Toy and Food Drive. Santa will ride through town on a firetruck, greeting children, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The Girl Scouts will follow, picking up donations of new, unwrapped toys and nonperishable food items. The food and toys are given to the Halifax area churches and food pantries. For more details on Santa's ride, as well as times he will visit certain neighborhoods, check Anyone whose street is not listed may simply refer to the time of the closest street listed. Items may also be dropped off at the Halifax Fire Station on Dec. 1 only. - Christine Wallgren

LIQUOR LICENSES BACK IN PLAY - The town's last available liquor license was recently issued to QDoba Mexican Grill, located in the new Mansfield Crossing Mall. But, come January, two licenses will be available for selectmen to reallocate. One of those is an all-alcohol package store license, held by Wine World, which has now closed. The second had been issued to the Black Angus Steakhouse, which was planned for the Mansfield Crossing Mall but is no longer slated to operate in town. Town Manager John D'Agostino is looking at liquor-licensing policies in surrounding communities, since selectmen plan to adjust those currently in place in Mansfield. -Christine Wallgren

SELECTMEN'S WORK - The Board of Selectmen has approved a common victualer's license for The Lunch Box on Front Street, a sandwich shop. The board recently also appointed Joseph B. Daly as the elections warden, and approved one-day special alcohol licenses for the Marion Social Club for its events scheduled for Dec. 8 and 13, and for Eastern Bank for an event it has scheduled at the Marion Music Hall Dec. 5 and for Karla Burke for an event at the hall tomorrow. - Paul E. Kandarian

SINGLE TAX RATE - Selectmen have voted to retain the single tax rate classification for residential and commercial property, the board said. The rate is currently $9.38 per $1,000 of assessed valuation; a new rate hasn't been set yet, but should be by the second week in December, according to the town assessor's office. The rate would then need to be certified by the state Department of Revenue. - Paul E. Kandarian

FRIDAY HOURS FOR LIBRARY - Director Danielle Bowker has announced that the Middleborough Public Library will again be open on Fridays, beginning next week. The expanded schedule is a result of about $45,000 in additional funding provided on Nov. 5 by Town Meeting voters. The additional funding has guaranteed that the library will continue for the current fiscal year to be certified by the state Board of Library Commissioners, which qualifies it for yearly grant funding. The new hours of operation for Friday are 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. - Christine Wallgren

CUSTOM-MADE AMBULANCE - At the urging of Fire Chief Richard Gomes, selectmen have accepted a bid from Specialty Vehicles Inc. in Attleboro for the purchase of a 2008 custom-built ambulance. Two of the town's three ambulances will be traded toward the purchase of the new vehicle. The remaining ambulance, a 2004 model, will serve as a back-up once the 2008 ambulance is on the road. The cost of the new ambulance will be under $200,000. - Christine Wallgren

HIGH SCHOOL'S FATE - The debate over the future of Norwood High School could take a notable step forward next week. The state School Building Authority is expected to announce next Wednesday the first batch of potential school projects that will proceed with a feasibility study. Many supporters and opponents of demolishing the 81-year-old school for a new building hope to be among the group, especially since the state kicked off a statewide inspection of school buildings earlier this year in Norwood. If selected, the feasibility study would likely explore the pros and cons of building a new school, as well as renovating and expanding the existing building. - James Vaznis

PLANT SALE FOR SCHOOLS - Residents can purchase holiday adornments while helping support a school program. The sixth-grade class at the Dennett Elementary School is holding its annual holiday plant and wreath sale to raise funds for its planned Cape Cod environmental field trip next June. Red, pink, and white poinsettia plants in seven-inch diameter pots are available for $10 each, and 12-inch evergreen wreaths for $12 each. Orders must be placed by this Sunday. For more information or to place an order, call Jacqui Thompson at 781-585-1618. - John Laidler

AWARDS FOR POLICE DEPARTMENT - The Police Department has received two awards from the American Automobile Association. One of the awards recognizes the fact that the town hasn't had a pedestrian fatality for 25 or more years, and the AAA Gold Award recognizes outstanding efforts and achievements in traffic safety and education. Police Chief Paul H. Magee credited the work of officers in the department in running several safety programs, including the department's elder-driver program, child safety seat program and others. - Paul Kandarian

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH - Town officials have hired the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to help conduct a nationwide search for a superintendent. Barbara Dunham, a school employee who was appointed interim superintendent for this year with the retirement of Claire Jackson, has said she will also apply for the position. While the association collects applications for the position until the deadline of Dec. 21, the School Committee is asking for nominations for the school superintendent search committee. The committee will consist of three School Committee members, two school administrators, three members of the parent/teacher organizations in the district, four teachers, and a community member. The deadline for submitting nominations is Dec. 14. Letters of interest for the positions should be sent to the Sharon School Committee, Hiring Subcommittee, 1 School St., Sharon 02067. Officials hope to have a new superintendent in place before July 1, 2008. - Franci Richardson Ellement

HONOR FOR PANTRY'S FOUNDER - Two months after finding a new home, the Stoughton Food Pantry is about to get a new name. Town officials at the Dec. 11 selectmen's meeting are expected to rename it the Ilsa Marks Food Pantry. Ilsa Marks, who died in August at age 83, founded the pantry 16 years ago after noticing many of her clients at the Canton Food Pantry came over from Stoughton. "I think it's a wonderful honor," said Terry Schneider, president of the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce. "Ilsa is the person who started it." Initially located at the downtown MBTA train station, the pantry moved in October to the First Methodist Church on Seaver Street. - Bob Carroll

POWER-PLANT FORUM - The Board of Selectmen has scheduled a public forum on the natural-gas power plant proposed for Industrial Road, on Tuesday from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium, said Town Administrator Michael Boynton. Representatives from Braintree's Competitive Power Ventures will present the company's plans for the site and answer questions from officials and the public. - Joan Wilder

COMMEMORATIVE ORNAMENTS - The Tobey Hospital Guild is selling holiday ornaments to raise money to purchase a digital mammography machine for the hospital. People can purchase a personalized ornament for $3 to honor a friend, commemorate a baby's first holiday, or remember a loved one. Each ornament will bear a person's name and will hang on the hospital's remembrance tree located in the main lobby. On Dec. 13, after the Tobey Guild holiday luncheon, all the names will be read aloud during a brief ceremony in the hospital lobby. A white light will then replace the ornament for the rest of the holiday season. For more information, call 508-273-4102 or send a payment to Peggy Hitchcock, P.O. Box 398, West Wareham 02576. Include the names of those being honored, and your name and address. - Emily Sweeney

A LEAFY PROPOSITION - The Board of Selectmen is offering residents free trees to plant in their yards. Throughout the year, according to the town, the Department of Public Works receives donations of trees for planting within the town. Whenever a tree is donated, selectmen will draw a name from the entries and Public Works will notify the winner. Trees must be planted within 15 feet from the edge of the roadway or sidewalk. The recipient will be responsible for watering and pruning the tree once it's planted. Those interested in the drawing should e-mail, or a form can be picked up at the selectmen's office. - James Vaznis

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS - South Shore Habitat for Humanity recently dedicated a home at 309 Commercial St., after working for nearly a year to build it. The house was turned over to John and Nicole Connor, who helped with construction. The family purchased the home from Habitat with a 20-year, no-interest mortgage. The deed carries a restriction that permanently maintains it as affordable. The Connors and their two daughters have lived in Whitman for the past four years. South Shore Habitat for Humanity, headquartered in Braintree, was founded in 1986. Since then, South Shore Habitat has built homes around the region. - Christine Wallgren

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