Globe South Community briefing

Keys to her heart

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February 21, 2008

Good luck to anyone trying to pry the car keys from the hands of soon-to-be 81-year-old Theresa Johnston. Johnston, who ambles her 10-year-old compact around town on daily errands, is incensed over state Senator Brian Joyce's recent refiling of a bill that would require drivers 85 and older to pass a vision and road test every five years in order to renew their driver's license. Joyce's bill has been bogged down in the state's Joint Committee on Transportation for two years. Governor Deval Patrick is said to be favoring tests for senior drivers. "I'm upset!" said Johnston, a Rockland resident, of Joyce's measure. "I drive just fine. I don't need to be tested because of my age." In Massachusetts, all drivers are required to pass a vision test to renew their licenses every 10 years. "We should be watching those kid drivers," said Johnston. "They're the ones who cause the most trouble. Seniors are more conscientious on the road. We try harder." Not all senior motorists share Johnston's view. "In one way a law like [Joyce's] would help take the elderly drivers who shouldn't be driving off the road," said 75-year-old Eileen Maraget of Abington. - Robert Carroll

ALZHEIMER'S SUPPORT - Families can learn about Alzheimer's disease and memory loss and how to maintain a positive relationship with a loved one suffering from it at a free seminar called "Matters of the Mind . . . and Heart." The seminar will be held today from 2 to 4 p.m. at South Shore Elder Services, 159 Bay State Drive in Braintree. Author Beverly Moore will review basic knowledge of Alzheimer's care that a family needs, and ways for them to obtain further help, according to South Shore Elder Services. A question-and-answer period will follow. - Matt Carroll

SELECTMEN SIZE UP BUDGET - The Board of Selectmen, School Committee, and advisory committee will meet Feb. 28 to review the budget proposed by Town Manager William Griffin. Griffin's $31.8 million budget is about $580,000 more than last year, but trims the amounts requested by many departments, including schools, police, and fire. "I put in my report a series of expenses that should be considered if money is available," Griffin said. "The selectmen last week brought up the possibility of an override to pay for some of those things. I think everyone wants to look at where we stand." Griffin's budget cut the School Department's request by $92,000. He also said there wasn't enough money to pay for the fire prevention officer requested by the fire chief, or for a police officer position cut three years ago that the police chief wanted restored. The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Cohasset Middle/High School library. - Johanna Seltz

NEW PUBLIC WORKS CHIEF - Peter Buttkus, the town's manager of buildings and grounds, has been appointed interim public works director by Town Manager Richard MacDonald. The town is seeking a replacement for former director Tom Daley, who left the job this month to become the top public works official in Newton. Buttkus also served as Duxbury's interim public works director before Daley was hired earlier this decade. Officials said Daley has agreed to be available to help the town prepare for next month's Town Meeting. - Robert Knox

FIRED UP - After 20 grueling weeks of training, as well as a six-month probationary period, Hanover resident David Hoadley was sworn in last month as a Massport firefighter. Hoadley joined six other recruits from a group of more than 300 applicants. He is based at Logan Airport. "The whole interview process was tough," said Hoadley, 32, a 13-year Hanover call firefighter and certified EMT. Recruits underwent three months of intense training in airfield and aircraft familiarization, and took part in numerous fire drills. "I'd say the mental part of it was the toughest." - Robert Carroll

A FEW GOOD PROJECTS - Old Ship Church wants to give money to a worthy cause. "We have to be able to see a discernable change for the good," said Betty Fernandes, a member of the committee that reviews grant applications. The money is a bequest from Betty Lee Saniter, who donated more than $100,000. The parish put most of the money in a social outreach fund, and has given grants of up to $5,000 for the last four years. Past recipients include Hingham Habitat for Humanity; Saint Rock Haiti Foundation, which used the money to replace a rocking chair with a dental chair in a clinic; and the Epiphany School in Dorchester, which bought materials for a reading lab for struggling students. Social and environmental projects are welcome, Fernandes said. The deadline for applying is Feb. 29. More information is available by e-mailing or calling 781-749-1679. - Johanna Seltz

BUSY SELECTMEN'S RACE - Six candidates are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen, according to Shirley Austin, town clerk. Paul Currie, board chairman, has filed papers to seek another term, while six-year incumbent Robert Austin said he will not run. The other candidates include two former selectmen. Susan Montgomery Wright served on the board from 1993 until she was defeated in 2002. She is also a past member of the Finance Committee. David H. Holden served as selectman from 1990 to 1995 and from 2000 until 2006. He was the town's water commissioner from 1967 to 1970. The other candidates are Matthew Moore; Dale Lewis, a Town Meeting member who lost two bids for selectman; and Vincent Digiacomo, also a Town Meeting member. - Franci Richardson Ellement

TURBINE TRACKING - The state wants to know how lobsters, fish, bats, and birds would be affected if Hull builds four wind turbines off Nantasket Beach. Ian Bowles, secretary of the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said the town also must look at the effect on commercial and recreational fishing, compare the plan to alternatives based on land, and examine the noise that would be generated by the turbines. "We have a laundry list of additional items we need to look at to get final approval," said Town Manager Philip Lemnios. If approved, the 476-foot-tall turbines would generate about 15 megawatts of electricity, enough to meet all the electrical demands of the town, which already operates two land-based wind turbines. "I commend [Hull] for its commitment to renewable energy development," Bowles wrote last week in his certificate authorizing the environmental review. "Clearly the intent of this project is consistent with state energy policy; however, renewable technologies are not without environmental impacts." - Johanna Seltz

PAY AS YOU THROW IDEA THROWN OUT - Acting on the recommendation of an advisory committee, Kingston selectmen rejected major changes to the town's waste disposal system and voted to continue to ask residents to bring their household trash to the town's transfer station. After studying alternatives, the advisory committee told selectmen that a curbside pickup system would be too expensive, while the state-recommended pay-as-you-throw system, in which residents pay a fee for each trash bag disposed of, would be unpopular. The group recommended the town make some changes at the transfer station to encourage more recycling. - Robert Knox

FIRE PROMOTION - Marshfield Fire Chief Kevin Robinson announced that Pamela Palardy will be sworn in as a lieutenant next month. Palardy has been a firefighter and paramedic in Marshfield since 1996. She has served as an EMS coordinator and infection control assistant, and has also taught fire education and safety classes in local schools. Her swearing-in is scheduled for March 10 at the Board of Selectmen's meeting. - Emily Sweeney

SUGGEST A SPORTS HERO - Milton is trying to find the athletic heroes of yesteryear. The Milton High School Athletic Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for the 2008 class of inductees. The second annual ceremony will be held next fall, according to the school system. There are four categories: Athletes, teams, coaches, and friends/supporters. More information and forms are available at schools or on the school website, The deadline for nominations is April 11. - Matt Carroll

DEVELOPER LOOKS FOR SUPPORT - A Braintree company is seeking the support of the Board of Selectmen for its plan to build a 198-unit apartment complex on South Street under the Local Initiative Program of the state's affordable housing law, Chapter 40B. Under the program, developers seek to work with the local board of selectmen or mayor in the permitting process. The developer, John M. Corcoran and Co., appeared before the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 6 and a follow-up meeting is expected soon, according to the company's attorney, Roger E. Hughes. He said if selectmen agree to work with Corcoran, the first step would be to write a letter to the state supporting a finding that the site is suitable for the development. Should the application for that finding be approved, the developer would then file for a comprehensive permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals. At the initial meeting, neighbors voiced concerns about the size and visual impact of the project, and its potential effect on the school system. Hughes said the developer will respond to those issues at the next meeting. Corcoran has also been meeting with other town boards to familiarize them with the proposal. - John Laidler

TOWN CLERK POST CONTESTED - A three-way race is underway for town clerk. Maureen Robinson, Linda MacDonald, and Mary Ann Smith have all turned in nomination papers for the April 26 town election. Robinson has been assistant town clerk for the past 11 1/2 years. Since the retirement of former town clerk Donna M. Pratt last July, she has been carrying out the duties of town clerk. Smith has worked for the Building Department since September 1981, currently as assistant to the building inspector. She has been an election and Town Meeting worker for more than 20 years. MacDonald is a real estate agent at Raveis Real Estate in Duxbury and a founder and past president of the South Shore Business Roundtable, a networking group of local small-business owners. She is an alternate member of Pembroke's Zoning Board of Appeals. All three are first-time candidates for office. - John Laidler

BUILDING DEPARTMENT OPEN DAILY - The Building Department in Town Hall is now open to the public five days a week. It had been closed to customers on Thursdays to give the staff more time to process permits. Now, thanks to a new computer system and processing procedures, the department will again be open on Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., according to Town Manager Mark Sylvia. "This will provide better service to our consumers by eliminating confusion on what days they were open and easier access to permits and filings on a time schedule," he said in a statement. - Emily Sweeney

NEVER TOO YOUNG FOR WIRELESS - One of the popular features at Quincy's Thomas Crane Public Library - free wireless Internet access - has been extended to the Children's Room and the Richardson building, said Megan Allen, assistant director. The service in the Children's Room is available for children and caregivers; access in the Richardson building is open to all. The new access is welcome because many users like the quiet of the Richardson building, Allen said. Free wireless is also available at the three branches. - Matt Carroll

INTERIM ADMINISTRATOR - The town is still searching for a new administrator to replace Bradley A. Plante, who retired Jan. 1. In the meantime, selectmen have found a temporary replacement: John Clifford, a former town administrator from Marshfield, has been working in the interim 20 hours a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. He has said his schedule could fluctuate if needed. Selectmen have begun reviewing 11 applications for the administrator job. A committee of selectmen is planning to narrow the list to at least three finalists. Clifford has helped manage town affairs, working specifically on the budget. He retired from being a town administrator last year to open a law practice in East Bridgewater. - Milton Valencia

GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY - This is a milestone year for the Scituate Arts Association, which marks its 50th anniversary during 2008. The group is inviting local artists to take part in that celebration by submitting works for its first-ever juried show, to be held at the organization's Front Street Art Gallery from April 4-13. The awards ceremony is scheduled for April 4. Entries must be delivered to the association's Ellis House on either March 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. or March 15, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. "We wanted to kick off the celebration of our 50th year with a brand new event," association president Janet Cornacchio said. The juried show is "something we always wanted to do, but it finally came together." She said other events will be held throughout the year, including a "plein air" weekend in June, in which artists will be invited to paint outdoors by Scituate Harbor. For more information on the juried show, go to or contact Cornacchio at or 781-545-7613. - John Laidler

MEET THE ISSUES - The mayor plans a series of television programs on local cable TV to keep residents informed about town issues. "We'll have experts, department heads and . . . a discussion so people can have correct information rather than hearing things through the rumor mill," Mayor Sue Kay said. She said the first topic would be Chapter 40R, a state law that encourages communities to allow dense residential development near transit stations and in town centers. The development must include affordable housing, but, unlike projects built under the similar Chapter 40B affordable housing law, aren't exempt from local zoning rules. A developer has proposed converting the Clapp Memorial Building on Middle Street into condominiums under the 40R program, Kay said. "This would be Weymouth's first 40R so we're educating ourselves on the topic," she said. - Johanna Seltz


THEATER LEASE SIGNED - A movie theater is finally coming to Brockton. An Atlanta-based development firm is partnering with National Amusements Inc. of Dedham to operate a 12-screen theater at the Westgate Mall. Construction of the 55,000-square-foot, stadium-seat facility is expected to begin in the spring, with hopes of opening the theater by the middle of 2009. - Milton Valencia

STRETCH OF ROUTE 138 STAYS TWO LANES - The section of Route 138 from Washington Street to Randolph Street will remain a two-lane road, after selectmen voted to approve the design phase of that section of busy roadway last week. Board of Selectmen chairman Bob Burr said the Massachusetts Highway Department started the multimillion-dollar rehabilitation of Route 138 about two years ago. The project will revamp major intersections, widen the road, build new sidewalks, and add bicycle lanes. -Elaine Cushman Carroll

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