Globe West Community briefing

West Nile virus found

October 12, 2008
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Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus have been found in Berlin, the town's Board of Health announced recently. The board is urging residents to take measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and to help officials curb the insects' population in town, according to a statement issued by the board. Mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. Draining standing water and making sure window screens don't have holes are the best ways to avoid the pests. Also, dead crows or blue jays are a sign that the virus is in the area. Residents are asked to report dead birds to the state Department of Public Health at 866-627-7968; the number can also be used for other questions. - John Dyer

VILLAGE CENTER FORUM - The Planning Board and consultants are hosting a public forum on Oct. 23 to gather input from residents on the creation of a village center in town. At the forum, the consultants, a group of students from University of Massachusetts at Amherst, will present their goals and objectives for their upcoming study on the issue of village centers in Bolton. The group will also gather comments and opinions from the audience. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in Town Hall. - Matt Gunderson

LIBRARY LONG-RANGE PLANS - The Long Range Planning Committee met this summer to discuss the creation of a strategy covering libraries in the Berlin and Boylston regional school systems. The main impetus for creating the plan is to gain access to federal funds for libraries, according to a recent school newsletter. Forming the long-range plan allows the school libraries to become eligible for the funding. In addition, the plan helps the school libraries to identify areas of improvement, the newsletter added. - Matt Gunderson

HELP FINDING NEW FIRE CHIEF - The town has hired Brookline-based MMA Consulting Group to assess applicants for the fire chief's position, said Town Manager Julian Suso. The group will set up an assessment center, which is a series of tests and exercises that candidates must undergo as part of the screening process. The evaluations will take place over one day, Suso said. The new chief will replace Fire Chief Ollie D. Gadson, who will retire in November after a 32-year career with the department. The town will pay the consulting firm between $5,000 and $10,000 to evaluate prospective candidates, according to Suso. The annual salary range for the new fire chief is $118,000 to $149,431, Suso said. Gadson is earning $149,431. The town hopes to hire a new chief, who is appointed by the town manager, by next month.

- Tanya Perez-Brennan

THE LESSONS OF COLUMBINE - Hudson High School is scheduled to host a national program started by the families of students killed in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. "Rachel's Challenge," named after Rachel Scott, the first person to be killed at Columbine, seeks to teach students and parents about avoiding conditions that lead to violence in schools. Students will listen to members of Scott's family and others on Oct. 23 during the day, while from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. parents are encouraged to attend a discussion about their role in preventing violence. For details, call guidance counselor Maureen Sanford at 978-567-6250. - John Dyer

TAXES DUE NEXT MONTH - The town's tax collector is reminding property owners that the tax bills for the first half of fiscal year 2009 are due Nov. 3, and that the bills can be paid online at The municipal website can also process payments for excise and personal property taxes. For more information, visit the town's website or call the town offices at 781-259-8850. -John M. Guilfoil

SPECIAL OLYMPICS HQ - Special Olympics Massachusetts has opened its new headquarters in Marlborough. The $10.8 million facility on Forest Street, called the Yawkey Sports Training Center, replaces the organization's headquarters in Danvers; officials decided that the building there was too small and lacked the central location of the Marlborough site, said spokeswoman Olivia Asarch. Around 90 percent of the state's population is now within a 90-minute drive of the headquarters, she said. Special Olympics Massachusetts oversees year-round sports training and athletic competition for almost 11,000 people with intellectual disabilities. - John Dyer

STUDENTS LAUNCH TOOL DRIVE - The engineering class at the Maynard High School is accepting donations of old tools this fall, as it embarks on a tool refurbishing project as part of the class. When repaired, the tools will sent to disaster relief organizations. Old hammers, chisels, handsaws, and screwdrivers can be dropped off at the high school's engineering workshop. No power tools will be accepted, organizers said. - Matt Gunderson

CALL TO REVAMP TRASH SYSTEM - The town's Solid Waste Citizens Study Group has issued a long-awaited report that recommends eliminating the "pay as you throw" program in favor of special household garbage and trash bins that the group thinks will make it easier for residents to use the town's collection services. The Board of Selectmen set up the committee in September 2007 to analyze the town's waste-disposal program, particularly its "pay as you throw" system of charging residents for each bag of trash collected. Since 2003, when the program began, nearly 14 percent of the town's 4,900 households have hired private trash haulers, citing the inconvenience buying special pay-as-you-throw bags in local stores, the report said. Under the group's recommendations, residents would purchase special reusable bins to throw away trash with haulers contracted by the town. - John Dyer

EVICTION DISPUTE SPARKS REVIEW - The Shrewsbury Housing Authority has been asked by state officials to review one of its policies and set up an advisory board to improve communication with tenants after officials issued and then rescinded eviction notices for three women at the Francis Gardens senior apartment complex. Helen Jarzobski, 93, was ordered to leave over her practice of keeping a chair on her front deck, which authority officials said obstructed an exit. Lea Perrone, 74, and Pat Henry, 65, received eviction notices after they tied themselves to a crab-apple tree on the property to stop it from being cut down. State officials directed the authority to rewrite Francis Gardens' policy on exit obstruction and create the seven-member advisory board, said state Representative Karyn E. Polito. The Shrewsbury Republican had set up a closed-door meeting between the tenants, authority officials, and Amy Schechtman, state associate director of public housing and rental assistance. - James O'Brien

BECKER COLLEGE OPENS CAMPUS - Becker College has formally opened its MetroWest Center for Accelerated & Professional Studies on Route 9. Around 300 students are expected to take courses at the satellite campus of the Worcester-based college. Becker is also allowing local groups to use the facility's five classrooms for meetings and other gatherings. Nonprofit groups will be allowed to use the classrooms for free, said college spokeswoman Sandy Lashin-Curewitz. For more information, contact Timothy Corcoran at 508-373-9783. - John Dyer

HOME ASSESSMENTS DECLINE - With the nation in the throes of a major real estate slump, Stow's annual assessments are starting to reflect the housing downturn. According to a recent announcement by the assessor's office, residential property values dropped approximately 3 percent in the department's preliminary annual revaluation, which reflects market value as of Jan. 1, 2007. Overall, the town's assessment base will slide 1.2 percent, to approximately $1.189 billion. Principal assessor Dorothy Wilbur said she won't have the final figures for the revaluation until the end of this month.

- Matt Gunderson

LOTTERY FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSE - A new affordable-housing opportunity has come up in town. Sudbury's Community Housing Office recently opened the application process for a single-family home that will be sold through a lottery for a maximum price of $178,000. The town is also putting together a "ready-buyer list" of eligible applicants for future affordable-housing opportunities. Financial requirements apply; a potential single resident should make under $46,300, a family of four, under $66,150. Typically, applicants should have a Sudbury connection, whether they already live in town, have children enrolled in schools, or work for the town or the schools. For more details on the lottery, call the housing office at 978-639-3388. - John M. Guilfoil

BUDGET COMMITTEE FORUM - The town's ad hoc committee working on the budget for next fiscal year will hold a public forum Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. in the Town Building, 41 Cochituate Road. There will be a brief presentation, and the committee will encourage residents to provide input and suggestions on areas for increased or decreased spending townwide, according to organizers. The committee's charge is to review the town's budget and recommend long-range savings ideas. Serving on the committee are the chairs of the Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee and School Committee, with input provided by the town administrator, finance director, assistant town administrator, superintendent of schools, and the school district's business administrator.

- John M. Guilfoil

SPECIAL TOWN MEETING WARRANT - The warrant for the Oct. 20 Special Town Meeting has been finalized, with the document posted on the municipal website, The article expected to receive the most attention is a $1.5 million appropriation to fund salary increases for schoolteachers as part of an agreement that took more than a year to reach. The teachers union approved the contract last month. Town Meeting members need to OK the deal before it can go into effect. Other articles include expanding the powers of the town's Conservation Commission and imposing fines for damaging wetlands. - John Dyer

Around the Region

NEW CARDIAC SERVICE - Milford Regional Medical Center recently expanded its cardiovascular services to include the area's newest catheterization lab. To celebrate the lab's opening, the Prospect Street hospital is holding an open house next Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at its Hill Health Center. The event will feature a tour of the lab guided by Milford Regional's cardiologists and cardiovascular services staff, refreshments and a raffle. Also, dietitians will provide nutrition information, and the first 500 visitors will receive a heart-healthy cookbook. - Anna Fiorentino

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