Globe West Community briefing

Hearing on fluoridation

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March 16, 2008

An informational meeting regarding the possible fluoridation of Ashland's water supply will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Middle School library. According to Mark Oram, the town's health agent, speakers will address the advantages of fluoridating the town's water, such as preventing tooth decay, as well as possible adverse effects, including what some believe is an increased risk of cancer. For more information, call the Board of Health at 508-881-0100, ext. 681. - Rachel Lebeaux

POLL POSITIONS - Several contested races are shaping up in this year's May 6 town election. Ronald L. Picard, Jerald Mayhew, and Mary Chaves have taken out papers for two three-year seats on the Board of Selectmen; Ann Odabashian, Ronald R. Picard, Danielle Fisher, Katherine Marino, and Lisa Julian have taken out papers to run for town clerk; Edward Guzowski, Debra Sacco, and Jason Tucker have taken out papers for one five-year Housing Authority term; John Murray and Brian Sutherland have taken out papers for one three-year Planning Board position; and Kevin De Gray Sr. and Cheryl Gray have taken out papers for one three-year School Committee seat. In addition, Suzanne Garten and Lisa Cavossa have taken out papers for two three-year library trustee spots. The deadline to return the completed nomination papers to the town clerk's office is Tuesday. - Rachel Lebeaux

TOWNWIDE CLEANUP PLANNED - Spring cleanup day is scheduled for March 29. From more than a dozen locations, volunteers will work to spruce up neighborhoods. Free trash and recycling bags will be distributed to coordinators in advance of the annual effort, which drew about 275 participants last year. Groups usually begin the estimated half-hour pickup between 8:30 and 10 a.m., depending on the neighborhood. Those interested in volunteering should contact John O'Keefe at or call 508-785-0866. - Anna Fiorentino

EGG HUNT FRIDAY - An egg hunt for children 9 and under will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Franklin High School field house. Peter Cottontail and his friends will entertain children with egg painting, face painting, and photographs. Children will be divided into age groups and should bring their own baskets. The fee to participate is $10. For more information, contact the Recreation Department at 508-520-4909 or visit its page on the town's website, - Rachel Lebeaux

GRANT TO AID SENIOR TRAVELS - The town's Senior Center has been awarded a $15,000 state grant to help create a travel consortium with Ashland, Hopkinton, and Sherborn. Center director Lina Arena-DeRosa said she hopes low-cost transportation between the area towns and Boston and Worcester will be running by this summer. "This is about being able to take people door to door, which is very different from taking the public bus," she said. Arena-DeRosa said she envisions the service being used by seniors traveling to medical appointments, as well as those who want to visit the cities for social reasons. - Calvin Hennick

CELL TOWER CONSIDERED - Members of the town's Board of Appeals expect to release a decision within 90 days on a request to construct a 100-foot cellular communications tower at 72 North Mill St., a residential property. Opponents have attended two public hearings to protest the proposal by OmniPoint Communications, a subsidiary of T-Mobile USA Inc. Neighbors have insisted that adequate cellphone service already exists in the area and a new tower isn't needed. Omnipoint's representatives have said the tower, which resembles a flagpole, would cause minimal disruption. - Michele Morgan Bolton

NEW VOTING SITE - Residents will vote for the first time at the Center at Medfield, the town's new senior center, in the March 31 local election. Town Clerk Carol Mayer said residents should receive an official notification by mail, along with a small map to the new Ice House Road building, but she also encouraged residents to contact her office at 508-359-8505, ext. 630, with any questions. - Calvin Hennick

INTERNET SAFETY NIGHT - Parents are invited to attend a forum on Internet safety Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Medway Middle School auditorium. Donald Grimes, the town's school resource officer, has made arrangements with the staff of the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council, a consortium of 40-plus police departments and law enforcement agencies, to provide a program on Internet safety, cyber-bullying, cyber-predators, and online communication and social networking sites. For more information, call the school at 508-533-7654 or visit its page on the school district's website, - Rachel Lebeaux

NO MORE OVERFLOW, EPA SAYS - The Environmental Protection Agency on March 10 ordered Milford to bring to an end seven years of occasional town sewage overflow onto streets and into buildings and bodies of water, including the Blackstone and Charles rivers. Since 2001, more than 100 incidents of sewer-system overflows have occurred in Milford, creating a public health risk, the federal agency reported. Problems like this are often attributed to outdated pipes and pumps used to transport sewage to waste-water treatment plants. Town officials agreed to the order, which requires them to perform a system assessment, prepare a plan to remedy deficiencies, and develop a long-term preventative maintenance program. Untreated sewage contains a variety of pollutants, including pathogens, suspended solids, nutrients, toxic metals, and organic compounds that present a health risk to those in contact with contaminated water. The nutrients also contribute to excessive algae and plant growth in the rivers. - Anna Fiorentino

OVERRIDE QUESTIONS - Selectmen are expected to decide whether to put two override questions to voters this spring during their March 25 meeting, Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said. Last week Aspinwall recommended a capital-exclusion override for the purchase of a new firetruck. The $400,000 expenditure would add $138 to the property-tax bill for the town's average single-family home next year, Aspinwall said. He also recommended a permanent operating override of $180,000 to pay for overnight staffing of the Fire Department, which he said would add about $63 to the average tax bill. The measures would require approval by voters at Town Meeting and the polls. - Calvin Hennick

MALL REVENUE STUDIED - Town officials have prepared a financial breakdown of the revenue generated by the 1995 reconstruction of the Natick Mall, and its transformation into the Natick Collection last year, in response to residents' questions and in advance of a March 25 vote on a proposal to raise property taxes through a $3.9 million override of Proposition 2 1/2. The original reconstruction project brought $2.1 million in new tax revenue to the town, or roughly 5.57 percent of the total 1996 tax levy of $38.6 million, according to the report. The new wing of the mall provides an additional 545,000 square feet of retail space - approximately 40 percent of the area of the original mall. The expansion is expected to provide approximately $1 million in property taxes per year at today's rates and valuations, or 1.46 percent of the total projected 2009 tax levy of $68.4 million, the report said. The outline is available on the town's website,, under the link for "Information about the Proposition 2 1/2 override proposal." - Michele Morgan Bolton

LIQUOR LICENSE OK'D - Selectmen last week approved a liquor license for Peter Chipman's Café Pesto, planned for a site at Boardman and Main streets. The license is only the fourth restaurant liquor license of the 14 the town has to give, and will go to the state for approval. Chipman is chairman of the local Board of Health and is running for Planning Board this spring. - Calvin Hennick

RABIES CLINIC - The Board of Health will hold a rabies vaccination clinic for dogs, cats, and ferrets on April 5 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the fire station. The cost of the vaccinations is $12. The town clerk's office will be staffed at Town Hall during the clinic to sell dog licenses. - Calvin Hennick

MORE THAN 200 AT CAUCUS - The March 5 annual citizens caucus drew 211 residents who nominated candidates for town offices on the May 13 election ballot. The only contested race at the caucus was for the Dover-Sherborn Regional School Committee, in which Richard Robinson took home the nomination with 93 votes. His opponent for the open seat, Clare Graham, got 78 votes. Graham still plans to run for the three-year term, even without the status as caucus nominee, she said. The caucus also nominated 16 other candidates, including 11 incumbents, for positions on the election ballot. - Anna Fiorentino

LAND BUY REJECTED - Town Meeting voters last week overwhelmingly shot down a proposal to spend $3.9 million for a 30-acre parcel off Maple Avenue. The Board of Selectmen chairwoman, Marsha Paul, had lobbied for the purchase, saying the land could be used for municipal buildings and playing fields. However, opponents scoffed at the price, noting that two recent appraisals had pegged the land's value at $1.1 million and $1.7 million. The proposal required a two-thirds majority at Town Meeting, plus approval at a townwide election, but a clear majority of the approximately 270 residents at Town Meeting on Monday night rejected it by a voice vote, without discussion. - Calvin Hennick

CANDIDATES FOR CHIEF TO BE RANKED - The time period for police chief candidates to appeal their civil service scores has expired, and the state is now working to compile a ranked list of the candidates for the town, according to Town Administrator Jack McFeeley. The state's Civil Service Commission will rank the top three candidates, then selectmen must choose the top candidate or give a reason for bypassing him. The rankings are based on candidates' experience, their scores on an exam, and their performance in an "assessment center" course that gauges reactions to simulated real-life events. Four Wrentham officers - the department's interim chief, Richard Gillespie, Interim Lieutenant James Anderson, Detective Sergeant William McGrath, and Sergeant Michael Robillard - are vying to replace Joseph Collamati, who retired in November. - Calvin Hennick

around the region
THE PASSING OF THE CANE - Selectmen have given the town's Boston Post Cane to Eleanor Bosselman, 93, honoring her as its oldest resident. The gold-headed, ebony cane is an area tradition from the early 20th century, when the Boston Post newspaper gave out hundreds of canes with instructions that it be passed on to the oldest male citizen of each town. In the intervening years, women have entered the select group. In Berlin, the cane is kept for safekeeping in the town offices but selectmen recently gave Bosselman a certificate of recognition. - John Dyer

SUPERINTENDENT NAMED - The school boards for the Berlin-Boylston Regional district have voted to appoint Brian McDermott as the system's new superintendent, pending successful contract negotiations, said Christine Keefe, chairwoman of the Tahanto Regional School Committee. McDermott, the assistant superintendent in Ayer, would receive a base salary between $115,000 and $130,000, said Keefe. McDermott would begin his new position in July. - Matt Gunderson

CONDO TRUST HIT WITH FINE - The state Department of Environmental Protection last month fined the Battle Road Farm Condominium Trust $20,000 for "repeated ground-water discharge violations" at its 120-unit property on Indian Camp Lane. The trust is responsible for the housing complex's waste-water treatment system, which discharges into the Shawsheen River. The state found increased pollutants such as phosphorous in the water, and further penalized the trust for failing to submit monthly reports on time for all of 2006 and nine months of 2007, the DEP announced. The trust agreed to submit a staffing plan to the state by the beginning of next month to more closely monitor the water treatment, and the state agreed to suspend part of the fine as long as it complies with the agreement. - John M. Guilfoil

A BOOST FOR AP COURSES - The school district won a grant totaling just under $500,000 over five years to expand the high school's Advanced Placement course options. The funding will be used initially to expand sections of offerings already available, according to Mary Carlson, Marlborough High School principal and the district's interim superintendent. "It tends to be the top, top kids who enroll in those classes," she said, but she wants to attract students who are "on the cusp" because AP courses are a great way to prepare for college. The grant is from the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative. - Lisa Kocian

FIRE CHIEF WANTED - Town Manager Dan Morgado has begun looking for a new fire chief to replace Gerald LaFlamme, who is retiring June 1 after eight years at the post. According to the job announcement on the town's website,, the position carries a salary of $97,290. The new chief will oversee four captains, 32 sworn firefighters, and 12 call firefighters covering three fire stations. - Lisa Kocian

CRASH PROMPTS POLICY REVIEW - The city's personnel director says she will review Waltham's drug and alcohol policy after an allegedly intoxicated Water and Sewer Department worker crashed his personal car into the police station last week. Brenda Capello said the city does not have guidelines for handling employees convicted of or arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The employee involved in Monday's accident, Angel Hernandez, is expected to receive a summons to Waltham District Court to face charges of operating without a license, operating to endanger, and operating under the influence of alcohol. Hernandez, who has three prior convictions for driving under the influence, has worked for the city since 1997, with his most recent duties including using a city vehicle to read water meters. He has been put on unpaid leave until further notice, Capello said. - Stephanie V. Siek

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