Globe South Community briefing

Accident claims town official

August 17, 2008
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The town is mourning the death of building inspector Douglas Jeffery. Fall River police said Jeffery, 56, fell from a pier on Aug. 8 while getting off a boat docked at Borden Light Marina. Jeffery was with his wife, CJ, at the time. Police divers discovered his body shortly after 11 p.m., about an hour after he fell. Officials are investigating but believe the drowning was accidental. Black mourning bunting, meanwhile, hangs outside the entrance to Town Hall on Gliniewicz Way. "We're shocked by this," Abington Town Manager Phil Warren said. "Doug was a great person, perfect for the job. He always had a smile on his face. I've had homeowners call me and tell me how much they appreciated Doug." Warren said assistant building inspector Robert Curran would fill the position until a permanent replacement can be found. "Robert always filled in for Doug when he went on vacation," said Warren. "He knows the job." - Robert Carroll

A BOY'S HIGH-PROFILE FIGHT - A Braintree boy has become the poster child - literally - in the fight against cancer. The image of Will Lacey, who is nearly 4 years old, is on a billboard for on the Southeast Expressway and on two others, in Fall River and Worcester. The billboard is titled "Never Give Up." Patrick Lacey, Will's father, said his son was diagnosed with stage IV neuroblastoma at 7 months. After treatment, it came back. is dedicated to helping find cures for children with relapsed neuroblastoma and other pediatric cancers. "When it relapses, it is incurable," said Patrick Lacey. He said it's hard for him to see his son on the billboard on his commuter rail ride to work. "For me, it's a reminder, on top of everything else, to stay committed, to give him every chance." The space on three billboards was donated by Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. for a year. The locations of the billboards change. - Matt Carroll

IMPROVEMENTS SLATED FOR RAIL CROSSING - The MBTA will reconfigure the Greenbush railroad crossing at North Main Street, near the Hingham line, to make it safer for cars and bikes, according to Tom Gruber, Cohasset's liaison on the Greenbush project. Gruber said the MBTA has agreed to build a special bike path on either side of the road at the crossing with a jug-handle turn that allows bikes to cross the tracks at a right angle. The current configuration, which crosses at an angle that can catch bike tires between the rails, has led to numerous accidents, including several resulting in broken bones and hospitalizations, Gruber said. He said the MBTA also plans design changes that will make it impossible for cars coming from Cohasset to turn left into the nearby town-owned Woodside Cemetery. "They found that funeral corteges back up on the tracks and that's not a good thing," Gruber said. - Johanna Seltz

A WARNING ON CALLS - The Duxbury Fire Department is warning residents of a phone call scam seeking cash contributions in the name of Duxbury firefighters. Callers making the phone solicitations have been asked to leave donations on their door for pick-up. According to William Carrico, deputy chief of the Duxbury Fire Department, neither the department nor the Duxbury Permanent Firefighters Association is currently conducting fund-raising activity. Carrico advised any residents who have been called by solicitors or have been victimized by these calls to contact the Duxbury Police Department. - Robert Knox

IMPASSE ON SCHOOL ENROLLMENT - Less than a month remains before a Special Town Meeting vote on a proposal to build a new Hanover High School, and school officials still can't estimate how much state funding, if any, the proposed $65 million project could receive. The problem, according to school officials, is projected enrollment figures. The Massachusetts School Building Authority, which allocates funding based on projected student body figures, estimates Hanover's school will carry about 700 students. Hanover officials see that figure as closer to 800. "It's significant because the state figures funding based on square-footage required per student," said Cathy Harder-Bernier, a member of the citizen group Hanover High School-Yes Committee. "If they see us as smaller, then we get less funding and that could result in possibly losing teaching positions if we build a school we feel is large enough to handle future enrollment." The School Committee last week approved a design that includes a three-story main building with a football stadium built directly behind the school. Matt Donovan, a spokesman for the state funding agency, said he believes state and local school officials will soon reach an agreement on enrollment. "The project is moving along down the pipeline, and I think everyone will agree on a figure in the coming weeks," he said. Special Town Meeting is scheduled for Sept. 8. - Robert Carroll

ON A QUEST FOR ANSWERS - Former School Committee member Sara Frederick wants to know why some high school students don't care about doing well academically, and she's asking them to help her figure it out by participating in an online survey. The study is for her doctoral dissertation in academic psychology, Frederick said. "We know so much about what helps to motivate students, but very little research has been done on amotivation (or lack of motivation)," she said. "I wanted to add to the body of knowledge to allow people in the field to maybe approach education in different ways." Frederick said she also had personal reasons for the research: All three of her sons went through Hingham High School without much motivation, and she herself didn't start caring about academics until she was a high school senior, she said. She hopes students are motivated to take her survey since she needs at least 70 participants here and 70 in a parallel study in Illinois. The survey is available at Frederick can be reached at - Johanna Seltz

WORK TO BEGIN ON WATER LINE - Selectmen have awarded a $1.47 million contract to a Marblehead firm to clean out a key 2-mile stretch of water pipes for the town, according to Town Administrator Michael Yunits. N. Granese & Sons Inc. will start work immediately because the company must finish the project by November. The water lines that will be cleaned and maintained stretch from the railroad tracks at the Randolph line to the water tower on Sycamore Street. This is a key section, said Yunits, because it feeds the water tower, which serves the entire town. Excavation will be done on the line every 800 feet or so, he said. This project is part of an ongoing water maintenance plan that the town's engineers say is needed to address problems of aging pipes and rusty water. - Franci Richardson Ellement

WOMAN RESCUED FROM FIRE - Firefighters rescued a woman from the third floor of the burning Sandpiper Inn this month, carrying her through the smoke-filled building to safety. "The whole back of the building was in flames by the time we got there," said firefighter Robert Rozzi. The fire burned through the fire alarm wires, but most people were able to get out, he said. Firefighters William Hatfield and Roy Ahlquist noticed a woman in a window on the third floor. "There was zero visibility, but they put their air packs on and did what they were trained to do and rescued her," Rozzi said. He said the early morning fire destroyed the vinyl siding on the back of the three-story rooming house at 165 Nantasket Ave. and part of the rear wall. One firefighter, Anthony Simmons, injured his leg. Rozzi said the firefighting effort "went like clockwork - a pretty good effort for the minimum manning that we have of just five guys responding." Hingham and Cohasset firefighters provided support. - Johanna Seltz

CRACKING DOWN ON UGLY SIGNS - Acting on citizen complaints of unsightly signs on Kingston telephone poles and trees, selectmen have vowed to take action against violators of the town's sign bylaw. The town has become a target for unpermitted signs advertising businesses such as weight loss programs, dating services, and other enterprises, according to Town Administrator Kevin Donovan. Selectmen said they are working with building inspector Paul Armstrong to identify potential violators. Donovan also warned that violators will be fined and taken to Plymouth District Court if the fines are not paid. - Robert Knox

DOG LICENSING LATE FEES - Dog owners who have not renewed their pet's license yet will have to pay a $10 late fee. All dog licenses issued last year are oval-shaped and expired on March 31; the new licenses for 2008 are star-shaped and cost $15, or $10 for spayed and neutered dogs, plus the late fee. Dog licenses are issued at the town clerk's office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., or by mail. A current rabies certificate and proof of spaying and neutering are required. For more information, visit - Emily Sweeney

VALVE FIX MEANS DIRTY WATER - Water in the neighborhoods around Canton Avenue near Town Hall and Highland Street near the police station may be discolored starting Tuesday. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will be replacing a water valve on Canton Avenue. The discoloration comes from iron in pipes. While it is safe for drinking, according to the MWRA, it will stain light-colored clothes in the laundry, especially when bleach is used. - Matt Carroll

MILLS TO STEP DOWN - Town treasurer/collector Susan A. Mills has announced her decision to retire effective Dec. 31. A Norwell resident, Mills has worked for the town for 25 years. Beginning as deputy collector from 1983 to 1987, she went on to serve as administrative secretary in the Water Department from 1987 to 1992, and assistant treasurer/collector from 1992 until 2000, when she assumed her current job. "I've been very proud to serve the town, and I'll miss the wonderful people - both the residents and my fellow employees," she said. - John Laidler

REACHING THE END OF A CAREER - Selectman William Boulter Jr. has officially retired from the Pembroke Police Department. Last Monday, Boulter, a lieutenant, turned 65, the mandatory retirement age for police officers. He was elected to the Board of Selectmen this spring. "I have worked for the Town of Pembroke for 44 years and enjoyed every day that I reported for duty," he said in a statement. Boulter said that when not busy with his selectman's duties, he plans to spend time fishing and "catching up with a lot of things around the house." - John Laidler

TRIVIA CONTEST - The Public Library in Pembroke is inviting teens to participate in a trivia contest relating to Stephenie Meyer's books "Twilight," "New Moon," and "Eclipse." Entry forms are available at the library and must be received by Friday. The winner will receive a copy of Meyer's new book, "Breaking Dawn." - John Laidler

MEETINGS WITH STUDIO REPS - Plymouth Rock Studios has a series of meetings with town officials this week, according to Dick Silva, chairman of the Yes to the Rock Committee. There is a Planning Board workshop scheduled for tomorrow; a joint meeting with the selectmen, Planning Board, and School Committee on Tuesday; and another Planning Board workshop on Wednesday. Each meeting is slated to start at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, and the public is welcome. - Emily Sweeney

SHINE ON, AUGUST MOON - One of the most spectacular annual events in Quincy - the August Moon Festival - will be held next Sunday. The free event will be held in downtown Quincy, from approximately 1400 to 1600 Hancock St. There will be entertainment on two stages, a sampling of traditional foods, and plenty of activities for children. August Moon, celebrated for the 21st time in Quincy, is the second-biggest holiday in China and is also celebrated in other Asian countries. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - Matt Carroll

INSIDER TIPS FROM NOVELIST - Susan Fleet, a former Randolph resident, will bring music and mayhem to the Turner Free Library tomorrow at 7 p.m. She'll explain "how a trumpet player starts killing people," as she does in her new suspense novel, "Absolution." Fleet lived in Randolph for 16 years until moving to New Orleans in 2001, which is where the crime thriller takes place. "The book raises some racial issues that parallel Randolph's situation that residents may be interested in," she said. Fleet is working on the second novel in this series with her characters NOPD detective Frank Renzi and African-American journalist Rona Jefferson, which she hopes will be out next year. "Absolution" was written before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, but the second book will be set post-Katrina, she said. Before becoming a novelist, Fleet worked as a trumpeter. She taught trumpet at area colleges and also to Randolph High students at her home at Clark Circle. More information about Fleet is available at her website, Tomorrow's talk at the library, sponsored by the Turner Library Friends, is free and refreshments will be served. - Wendy Chow

LUNCH PRICE HIKE - School lunch prices will be increased 25 cents and school breakfasts will cost 30 cents more when school resumes next month. Lunch will cost $2.25 at the middle and high schools and $2 at the elementary schools. Breakfast will cost $1 at all schools. The reduced-price meal program is not affected. The School Committee approved the increases last week, citing a need to fund cafeteria maintenance and equipment. - Steve Hatch

TURBINE PROJECT EXPLAINED - A proposal that the town develop a utility-scale wind turbine will be the focus of a forum next Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The turbine would be located on the Driftway and used to power Scituate's waste-water treatment plant. The town earlier this year completed a feasibility study on the proposal. A Special Town Meeting this fall will consider authorizing the town to move forward with the turbine project. Speakers at the forum, which is free and open to the public, will include Charles McClelland, a specialist in wind energy and a staff engineer at the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Research Laboratory; representatives of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, which funded the study; and the Scituate Renewable Energy Committee. - John Laidler

FEES RISE AT HIGH SCHOOL - Life as a Weymouth student will be more expensive this year. Students will pay four times as much - $100 - to park at Weymouth High School and twice as much - $200 - to play sports there. Hockey players will have to pay another $200 on top of that. Other extracurricular activities at the high school will charge a first-time $50 fee, and school lunch prices will go up 50 cents, to $2.50. "Everybody is really distraught, but our budget took some drastic cuts and we had to free up some money for other things, like books," said School Committee member Karen Berry, who voted last month with the majority of the committee to approve the fee increases. Because of the town's financial troubles all departments are cutting their budgets by more than 5 percent this fiscal year. The schools "were hit hard. It's simple math: We have the biggest portion of the budget," Berry said. - Johanna Seltz

STATION PROJECT GETS BOOST - Governor Deval Patrick last week authorized a capital bond bill that includes $300,000 for the Avon fire and police station project, said Michael McCue, the town administrator. The town Building Committee is still researching how best to remedy the severe overcrowding at both stations and plans to put a proposal before voters at a Special Town Meeting this fall. The price tag for a combined safety building is roughly estimated at $20 million. - Joan Wilder

REPORTER DIES - Maggie Mills, a veteran newspaper reporter and longtime Carver resident, died last week at age 91. Mills covered Carver news for MPG Newspapers for more than 40 years, visiting Town Hall, schools, and scores of individual sources to gather local news in person. Earlier in her career, Mills, a Plymouth native, also covered Plymouth news for the Old Colony Memorial. A funeral service will be held on Aug. 23 at 11 a.m. at First Parish Church in Town Square, Plymouth. - Robert Knox

BACK ON THE FORCE - One of two police patrolmen laid off recently will be rehired after the Police Department received a waiver and had a federal grant reinstated. Lisa Pacheco, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said the reinstatement of Officer Chad Carvalho is "some good news for a change" for the town. Pacheco said the police were set to lose the federal schools policing grant because the number of patrol officers had dropped to below the minimum of 17 due to recent budget cuts. However, Police Chief Carlton E. Abbott Jr. filed for a waiver for the money, which is enough to hire a full-time officer, and found out last week that it will be granted, Pacheco said. - Elaine Cushman Carroll

EEL POND FUNDS SURVIVE - State Representative William Straus said the House of Representatives has restored $30,000 in the state budget for the restoration of Eel Pond in Mattapoisett. The town is working to develop a plan to improve tidal flushing into the pond, which is a nitrogen-sensitive body of water, officials said, to improve water quality and shellfish habitat. The House action was taken as part of a series of overrides taken up by the State Legislature in the final day of sessions, Straus said. - Paul E. Kandarian

ON SECOND THOUGHT - During last June's graduation exercises at Stoughton High School, senior Adam Bauman listened to the speeches of the class valedictorian and salutatorian. The problem was Bauman should have been giving one of those speeches. Stoughton school officials recently discovered they made a computing error and that Bauman should have been a salutatorian of his class of 274 students. "It was an honest mistake," said Dan Bauman, Adam's father. "School officials have to let students know where they stand pretty far in advance so they can prepare speeches for graduation. And in most cases, I guess, class rankings never change. But I guess it was so close with Adam and [classmate] Julianne Leaver that his final grades from advanced-placement classes did move him into second." Leaver was named salutatorian and addressed the audience along with valedictorian Phil Connors. School officials have since corrected the problem and now officially list Bauman and Leaver as co-salutatorians. Dan Bauman said his son, who captained the school's wrestling and tennis teams and is headed to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, isn't bothered by the error. "Adam's not that way," he said. "It doesn't matter if he finished first, second, or 10th. He just enjoyed his years at Stoughton." - Robert Carroll

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