Globe South Community briefing

Low Turnover in Avon

May 24, 2009
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After 29 years with former athletic director Richard Gifford teaching chemistry and math, the Middle-High School has a new teacher in his position. Lisa Lloyd replaced the retiring Gifford last Monday. Lloyd, who earned a master of science degree in chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Boston, formerly worked at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, where she was responsible for overseeing the first- and second-year chemistry students, said Middle-High School Principal Sharon Hansen. - Joan Wilder

DELAYED RECOGNITION - More than 20 years ago, two longtime residents, now deceased, decided the town really needed a senior center. A house on Standish Road was the targeted site, and a great deal of work went into readying it. Unfortunately, it burned down just as it was about to open. Chauncy Cole and Fred Yeaton, using the insurance money along with some grants, helped get the current senior center on Wally Krueger Way built and opened. Seniors in town, led by resident Ann Wood, recently decided the building should be named after the two men responsible for getting it built, and selectmen agreed. At 11 a.m. on June 6, the public is invited to a dedication ceremony at the center, renaming it the Cole-Yeaton Senior Center. A boulder will be placed at the door of the senior center with a plaque bearing their names.

- Christine Legere

LOAN KEEPS LOCAL FIRM AFLOAT - The state has come up with a $500,000 loan to assist CCS Environmental, a national environmental-remediation company based in Brockton, through a rough patch, saving 45 jobs and adding 40 new positions. The loan from the state's Community Development Finance Corp. is for five years and is combined with a line of credit from Sovereign Bank. CCS, with headquarters at 203 Spark St., has offices in Austin, Texas, and San Francisco. CCS works to clean up asbestos and mold, in demolition and fire restoration, and helped remove tainted soil from Boston's Harbor Islands. The company expects an expansion of work as federal stimulus money is spent.

- Steve Hatch

HISTORIC CORNER - A public information meeting will be held 7:30 p.m. Tuesday on the town's application to have the Canton Corner area named to the National Register of Historic Places. The Canton Historical Commission is encouraging residents to attend this meeting at the Canton Public Library to learn about the register, the official federal list of historic districts, sites, and buildings. The Canton Corner historic district would be the first for the town and includes its "oldest surviving settlement area," according to commission member Kathi Keith. Keith said the bid to officially recognize the area began with a study several years ago of the Canton Corner Cemetery, which has been in continuous use for 300 years. The district will run on Washington Street from just north of the cemetery to just south of Dedham Street and includes several properties on Pleasant Street. The Massachusetts Historical Commission will consider the nomination on June 10. A federal review would be required before it's added to the register, Keith said. - Elaine Cushman Carroll

MONEY QUESTIONS PUT ON HOLD - Selectmen have voted to defer action on all financial items on the annual Town Meeting agenda until next month, when the town is expected to have a better idea of how much aid it will receive from the state for the fiscal year beginning on July 1. Spending requests on the agenda include funding for the town's annual operating budget, a budget for the newly established North Carver Water Commission, cost-of-living increases for non-union employees, and a $95,000 request for a public works truck. Voters will also be asked to approve revolving accounts (which allow departments to make expenditures from fees they collect) for the town library, the Council on Aging, the earth-removal program, building inspection services, the town-owned Marcus Atwood House rental fees, and the Cole property bog-maintenance program. A date for the June session is expected this week.

- Robert Knox

CHECK THIS OUT - The public library is sporting a new circulation desk, paid for with yearly grant money from the state Board of Library Commissioners. The desk replaces the counter that had been in use since the library opened on Union Street in 1896. A new ceiling with enhanced lighting was also installed in the area above the circulation desk. The new model features two built-in book returns, wheelchair access, and updated computer wiring. - Christine Legere

THE BUCKS STOP HERE - A few thousand here and there, pretty soon it adds up. So with the town struggling to cut costs in the face of reduced state aid, Town Administrator David Colton will skip the 3 percent raise he is due July 1, which will save the town nearly $4,000. He also expects to save the town about $5,000 a year by sending property tax bills twice a year instead of quarterly. The bills will still be due quarterly, though, with each mailing including two quarterly coupons. The change will produce savings in labor, envelopes, and postage.

- Steve Hatch

HASHING OUT A BUDGET - Budget meetings will likely continue right up to Freetown's Town Meeting on June 1, as town and school officials try to put together a roughly $19 million budget that preserves services and minimizes layoffs, according to Jean Fox, chairwoman of the Board of Selectman. "All departments' budgets are in an unfortunate situation," she said. "We're trying hard to not touch the stabilization fund right now." Fox said the state Senate's proposed budget included an additional blow to the community by including a 50 percent decrease in the amount the state will reimburse communities for school transportation. She said the cuts may mean that the Freetown Elementary School, which was slated to lose one teacher and four paraprofessionals, may lose up to three teachers, and that the Police Department may lose an additional two officers. Louis Rodrigues, interim superintendent for the Freetown Lakeville Regional School District, said the state's transportation budget cuts would cost the town $151,000.He said the elementary schools that serve preschool to Grade 4 in Freetown and Lakeville are taking the biggest hit because they are not part of the regional district. - Elaine Cushman Carroll

BRIDGE DECISION POSTPONED - The state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development has agreed to a request from Town Manager Andrew Gala to postpone making its decision on funding the town's application for $6 million to build a footbridge across Route 1 at Gillette Stadium. Gala said he requested the delay to give officials from the town, the Massachusetts Highway Department, and the Kraft Group time to decide who will own and maintain the bridge, which would span a state highway. The funding, if approved, would come through the state's Growth District Initiative, which makes grants for projects in designated growth districts to spur economic growth and job formation. The footbridge would connect the businesses at Patriots Place and Gillette Stadium with a 1.3 million-square-foot biotech office campus being proposed by the Kraft Group. A decision on the grant application is now expected in November. - Joan Wilder

RECOUNT MAY BE AHEAD - Though the town held its annual election May 16, the race for a seat on the Housing Authority may live on. When the ballots were counted on election day, Teresa Santalucia emerged with a one-vote edge over incumbent Thomas Powers, 210 to 209. According to Town Clerk Sandra Harris, Powers took out petition papers from her office to collect signatures for a recount. Harris said that if Powers met a deadline of Tuesday to file 30 signatures - 10 from each precinct - a recount would be held by June 6. Meanwhile, in the only other ballot contest, incumbent Richard Edgehille retained his seat on the Board of Health, picking up 221 votes to 145 for Ellen Burke and 64 for Robert Jenkinson. - John Laidler

DAM NEEDS WORK - Annual Town Meeting voters on June 9 will be asked to fund the reconstruction of the Canoe River Campground Dam. The dam is classified by the state as a "significant hazard potential" dam, due to its poor condition. In 2008, the town started the design work for the dam repairs and also received a state order to get the work done by Nov. 20 of this year or face fines of up to $500 per day. The reconstruction work has gone out to bid, and selectmen expect to be able to plug in the cost by the time Town Meeting convenes. - Christine Legere

FISCAL MATTERS - Voters at annual Town Meeting last Monday approved a $17 million operating and maintenance budget for fiscal 2010, a roughly 0.5 percent increase over the current fiscal year's budget. Voters also backed an article seeking $2.6 million for a continuation of water improvements in the town's village area, specifically on Pleasant Street and Converse Road. Also approved was transferring money from the town's Waterway Account to the harbormaster's office to buy a new $65,000 boat and fund six additional floats at Island Wharf at a cost of $17,000.

- Paul E. Kandarian

FOOD AND DRINK - How on Earth, a small food store selling local and organic products, has received a beer and wine license, with the license holder being store owner Margie Baldwin. The store will serve beer and wine at its restaurant in addition to selling it retail. How on Earth can seat 16 currently and is expanding to seat 24 to 28, Baldwin told the Board of Selectmen in requesting the license.

- Paul E. Kandarian

TRAIL OF HONOR - The Norwood Historical Society will celebrate the town's historic heroes by sponsoring a bus tour of veterans' memorials Saturday at 1 p.m. Ted Mulvehill, director of Norwood Veterans Services, will narrate along the tour. Groups will take off from the Norwood Historical Society's Day House, 93 Day St., and travel to seven sites, including Memorial Hall, the Old Parish Cemetery, Aaron Guild Memorial Park, Highland Cemetery, and more. Admission is $20. Call the Norwood Historical Society at 781-762-9197 or send a check to the society at 93 Day St., Norwood, MA 02062. Rain date is May 31.

- Michele Morgan Bolton

SELECTMEN STILL A TRIO - Voters shot down an article at Town Meeting last Monday that would have increased the size of the Board of Selectmen from three to five, with proponents saying it would offer the citizenry better representation and opponents arguing it would add cost to the budget that isn't warranted. Voters also approved a $15.9 million operating budget for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1, and approved the purchase of a truck for the fire department at a cost of $178,700.

- Paul E. Kandarian

INCUMBENT SWEEP -- The results of a hotly contested School Committee race May 19 kept two incumbents in their seats and turned back a newcomer who sought one of them. Glenn Allen will begin his second three-year term on the board and Mitchell Blaustein will sit for his sixth term after defeating newcomer Andrea Lovett, according to Town Clerk Marlene Chused. Other incumbents winning uncontestedd races included: Selectman Richard A. Powell, Town Assessor Richard Gordon, Planning Board member David Milowe, Housing Authority member Peter Melvin, and Library Trustee Richard Levin. Newcomer Aime Saphire ran uncontested for a second library trustee spot. All offices carry three-year terms except for the 5-year housing and planning board posts. - Franci Richardson Ellement

BAY ROAD FUNDS QUASHED - Who will pay for repairs to Bay Road? "Not us," was the answer given by residents at last week's Town Meeting. A proposal to borrow $500,000 to repair and reopen the heavily traveled road was soundly defeated by voters, who insist the state and/or neighboring Sharon should pick up at least a portion of the cost. "We did try to seek state funds and even federal stimulus money," said Stoughton Town Manager Mark Stankiewicz. "But we haven't heard anything." Bay Road is a major artery for residents of Stoughton, Sharon, Taunton, and Easton. It was closed 13 months ago because of water problems, which town officials believe stem from Sharon construction projects. Barring any government money, last week's vote virtually assures the road will remain closed at least until Town Meeting reconvenes in May 2010. "We do have safety issues because police and fire, if called to that area of town, have to avert around the closing," said Stankiewicz. - Robert Carroll

HEALTHY, BUT VIGILANT - The Elm Street School first-grader diagnosed with the H1N1 swine flu is expected to make a full recovery and did not infect any other students with the virus. Health agent Robin Chapell advises continued vigilance since viruses often peak a second time and can mutate. "Washing hands is the No. 1 thing to do," said Chapell, waiting to learn whether a vaccine will be made for the swine flu and, if so, whether it will be available for the town's regular vaccination campaign in November.

- Joan Wilder

CRUISE FOR A CAUSE - Buzzards Bay Area Habitat for Humanity and Pilgrim Bank are sponsoring a cruise June 17 to raise money for a local Habitat project. The M/V Viking will depart from the Onset Pier at 6 p.m. and sail through the Cape Cod Canal to the Bourne Bridge and back. There will be a DJ, food, and cash bar. Proceeds from the event will support construction of a single-family home at 39 Minot Ave. in Wareham. Tickets for the cruise cost $50 each and can be purchased by calling 508-758-4517.

- Emily Sweeney

OPEN POSITIONS - As they prepare to make their annual appointments to town boards and committees, selectmen are seeking residents interested in filling a number of vacancies. Among the groups with vacancies are the Cable Television Advisory Committee, the Center of Town Committee, the Council on Aging, the Industrial Development Commission, the Memorial and Veterans Day Committee, the Mobile Home Rent Control Board, the Municipal Building Needs Committee, the Open Space and Recreation Committee, the Recycling Committee, the Service Member Recognition Committee, and the War Memorial Park Advisory Committee. Anyone looking to apply should send a letter of interest to the selectmen, who plan to begin the appointment/reappointment process at their June 9 meeting. - John Laidler

NEW CHAIRMAN - During a recent reorganization meeting, members of the Board of Selectmen agreed to name Philip N. Shapiro the new chairman. Former Chairman Patrick J. Ahearn was named clerk of the three-person panel, on which Nancy Hyde is the third member. In April, Hyde ran unopposed for a third term. With overlapping three-year terms, Ahearn's term will be up in 2010, Shapiro's in 2011, and Hyde's in 2012. Town Meeting recently indefinitely postponed a citizen's petition that called for expanding the panel to five members. - Michele Morgan Bolton

ELECTION RESULTS - Fewer than 10 percent of the town's eligible voters turned out last week to settle three contested races during the annual town election. Incumbent Daniel Salvucci retained his seat on the Board of Selectmen, defeating perennial candidate Joseph Balonis (who has run unsuccessfully for that office 16 times in as many years), and Nicholas Stead. In a three-way race for two openings on the regional school committee, Christopher Powers and William Egan Jr. won seats, with William Wisnaskas finishing in third place. Katharine Kelleher defeated Francis Silva for a five-year term on the Housing Authority. - Christine Legere