Globe South Community briefing

Departing manager proud of town

August 16, 2009

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Saying he was particularly proud of the town’s ability to “get things done,” Town Manager Phillip Warren walked out of the corner office for the final time last Friday. Warren has accepted another job, but declined to say if he’ll remain in the public eye. “I’m still in the stage of negotiating a contract so I don’t want to comment on the job,” he said. “I was not out looking for a new job, but this opportunity, for me, is excellent.” Warren was hired in December 2004 to replace John Sanguinet, who left the position a year earlier. Abington Assistant Town Manager Dori Jamieson helped bridge the gap between Sanguiet and Warren and will do the same until a replacement is found. “From the new police station to improvements at the high school to the building of the early childhood center, this town knew how to get the work done,” Warren said. “I enjoyed my time here.’’ - Robert Carroll

SCAM ARTIST GETS 100 YEARS - A Miami man was convicted of defrauding $130 million from about 600 people, including $2 million from auto dealer Daniel Quirk, who owns 12 auto companies, including firms in Braintree and Quincy. Financier Edward Okun received a 100-year sentence on Aug. 4 in US District Court in Richmond, Va. Okun ran a Ponzi scheme involving a complicated real estate scam that used money from his companies to support a dazzling lifestyle that included a yacht, exotic sports cars, and a $6 million home in New Hampshire. Quirk has sued in US District Court in Boston, seeking to get money back. His suit is not against Okun, who has no money now, but Wachovia Bank, which was Okun’s lender. - Matt Carroll

MINOT LIGHT OFFERED - Town officials are weighing whether to try to take ownership of Minot Light. The federal government plans to continue operating the light, but wants to give away the five-story, 114-foot-high historic lighthouse tower, which is on an outcrop of rocks about a mile offshore near the Cohasset-Scituate line. “It’s offered ‘as is’ and ‘where is,’ ” said Town Manager William Griffin. He said the town received a letter from the General Services Administration outlining the process for applying for the property. “You’re supposed to give them a letter of interest by Sept. 30,” he said. “We’re interested - maybe going in with Scituate - but we won’t go much further without understanding the cost implications.” Selectmen will discuss the matter at their 7 p.m. meeting Aug. 24, Griffin said. - Johanna Seltz

TOWN PERSONNEL POLICY OK’D - Selectmen have adopted the town’s first “Professional Conduct Policy.” Drawn up by Jeannie Horne, personnel administrator, the policy will be included in a town Employee Handbook being prepared to establish consistent personnel policies among departments. The policy states that town employees are expected to act “honestly, conscientiously, reasonably and in good faith at all times” on the job. Employees will be expected to comply with “reasonable instructions” from their employers, to respect the privacy of residents, use confidential information only for prescribed purposes, be absent from work only with authorization, use town property appropriately, and “incur no liability” for the town without proper authorization. The policy also recognizes the primacy of civil service laws and collective-bargaining agreements in areas covered by those laws and agreements. - Robert Knox

WORK TO RESUME ON OVERPASS - After a lengthy delay, repair work is expected to resume this month on the Washington Street overpass of Route 3. But motorists shouldn’t get too excited as MassHighway officials say the project, which has sat idle for a year, won’t be completed for three years. “The anticipated completion for this project is July 2012,” Town Planner Andrew Port wrote in an e-mail. “The bridge crossing will remain open during construction. However, there may be some delays due to limited lane width and work space.” Farther south on Washington Street, Port said the project to widen a mile stretch between Mill Street and Rawson Road should be completed by October 2010. - Robert Carroll

HIGH SCHOOL GETS $20,000 FOR GREENHOUSE - Hingham High School has been named one of five communities in the nation that will receive $20,000 as part of a contest sponsored by National Geographic and SunChips. Hingham High’s environmentally friendly project, called “Give Plants a Chance,” included a written entry and a video of student and staff interviews on how the school would use the money to construct a greenhouse on campus and grow endangered plant species. It was the top vote-getter out of 2,500 entries, sponsors said in a press release. Four other entries from the District of Columbia, California, and Colorado were also awarded $20,000 prizes by a panel of experts and celebrities. - L.E. Crowley

TEMPORARY TOWN TREASURER NAMED - Selectmen recently appointed Quincy resident Robert Haley as temporary town treasurer, following the resignation of Robert McKenna, said Town Administrator Michael Yunits. Haley comes to Holbrook with 23 years of municipal finance experience. He was Hanover town treasurer from 1990 to 2008. He will serve in the position until the next election in April. McKenna sent an official letter of resignation in July, citing decisions made by selectmen, which “limited my ability to manage my department,” McKenna said. He said his decision to resign effective Aug. 4 was not the result of budget cuts. - Kate Augusto

ANIMAL SHELTER GETS $7,000 - The Hull Seaside Animal Rescue will get $7,000 to help spay and neuter homeless and feral cats - and those owned by people with low incomes - in Hull, Hingham, and Cohasset. The grant comes from money raised through the “I’m Animal Friendly” license plates sold by the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The nonprofit shelter was one of 30 groups chosen by the Massachusetts Animal Coalition to share $180,000 this year, according to a press release from the coalition. This is the second time Hull received money through the program, started in 2004. - Johanna Seltz

AGRICULTURAL CELEBRATION SEPT. 12 - The town of Kingston will hold its annual Agricultural Celebration on Sept. 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. on the Town Green on Green Street. The free event celebrates the town’s agricultural heritage and traditions. The celebration will feature farm product vendors, music and other entertainment, farm animals for children to pet, and free horse-drawn hayrides. Food will be available to purchase from True Blue BBQ, a wood-fired barbecue restaurant on Summer Street, and Shorty’s Ice Cream, which sells ice cream, yogurt, and Italian slush on Pembroke Street. - Robert Knox

CLUB GETS GRANT FOR EXERCISE - The Boys and Girls Club of Marshfield will get $374,000 over the next three years to buy high-tech exercise programs, which the club plans to share with local schools, according to Executive Director Greg Jackson. He said the club will use the grant from the US Department of Education to buy numerous exercise systems from HopSports that project workouts led by sports figures and celebrities on a big screen. The system also includes a fancy sound system and such things as exercise mats, jump ropes, and other equipment used in the workout, he said. “We want to make sure we’re getting as many kids as possible so we’ll roll them out in all the schools, starting with the elementary schools,” Jackson said, as well as at the Boys and Girls Club building in Library Plaza. - Johanna Seltz

FIRE DESTROYS GARAGE, DAMAGES HOUSE - A fire at 135 Milton St. destroyed a garage and damaged a house and another garage, said Fire Chief Jack Grant. A Porsche parked nearby was also totaled by the two-alarm fire Aug. 7. A problem for firefighters was that the house is set well back from the street and while heavy smoke could be seen, it took a while to find the fire, said Grant. It is unclear what caused the fire or the extent of property damage. Canton firefighters helped extinguish the blaze. - Matt Carroll

‘TASTE’ BENEFIT OCT. 22 - The Norwell Chamber of Commerce will host the second “Taste of Norwell” Thursday, Oct. 22, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at Cushing Center Tickets are $20 each. Organizers are seeking restaurants and businesses to join the Taste and help raise money for the Norwell Food Pantry and the chamber’s high school scholarship fund. Already on the list of area restaurants participating in the sampling are Beijing House, Not Your Average Joes, The Silent Chef, and The Smokehouse. Businesses wishing to participate or those who would like to donate or to sponsor the event should contact the chamber at or Reiko Beach at - L.E. Crowley

TEMPORARY VETERANS AGENT NAMED - The town’s veterans agent, Robert McKenna, is retiring effective Sept. 1 after 36 years in the job. Selectmen at their meeting last Monday, voted to accept McKenna’s resignation and to advertise for the position, according to Town Administrator Edwin Thorne. “He did a wonderful job for us,’’ Thorne said of McKenna, a Pembroke resident. “We appreciate everything he’s done for the town and we wish him good luck in his retirement.’’ Applications for the job should be submitted to Thorne’s office by Sept. 3. - John Laidler

PARKING FUND FEES MIGHT BE CHANGED - The town’s parking fund fees might be changing. The Board of Selectmen has scheduled a public hearing Sept. 1 to discuss adjusting the fees, which some say are too high and too burdensome for local businesses to bear. Under the zoning bylaw, the town requires homes and businesses to provide a certain number of parking spaces; if the owner wants to expand and cannot provide the required number of additional spaces, then they are expected to contribute to the town’s parking fund. The town charges $6,000 to $8,000 for every additional parking space needed. Since those rates were adopted in 2006, there have been no payments made into the fund, according to Lee Hartmann, the town’s director of planning and development. The hearing is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. at Town Hall at 11 Lincoln St. - Emily Sweeney

GRANT FOR IMMIGRANT YOUTH - A federal grant has helped more than 35 Asian immigrant youths learn English and help local institutions this summer, according to Quincy Asian Resources Inc., a nonprofit. Over seven weeks, the youths obtained work experience, earned money, and improved their English. The South Coastal Workforce Investment Board, a federally mandated public-private partnership, oversaw the project. The youths, who ranged from 16 to 23 years old, spent half the day improving their English at Quincy High and the other half working for different groups, including Quincy Asian Resources, Quincy Medical Center, Quincy Public Library, and Quincy YMCA. - Matt Carroll

BALLOT FOR SEPT. 15 - Voters can look forward to a crowded ballot for the Special Town Election scheduled for Sept. 15. Thirty-seven candidates are running for 18 seats. In April, Randolph residents voted overwhelmingly to do away with their longstanding Town Meeting in favor of the town manager-town council format. Beginning in January, Randolph will be run by a town manager and a nine-person town council. The September election will fill the open positions. Fifteen residents are vying for the five at-large seats on the Town Council. There also are four district seats on the Town Council, and only residents living in those districts can vote for those candidates. Four people are vying for the District 1 seat; there are three-way fights in District 2 and 3; and two are battling for the District 4 seat. Additionally, seven people are running for six seats on the School Committee. The last day to register to vote for the election is Aug. 26. The polling will be at the high school and three houses of worship. A nine-member search committee has the task of finding three to five candidates for town manager by Sept. 4. The Town Council will choose Randolph’s first town manager by Nov. 3. - Wendy Chow

$25 TRASH VOUCHERS OFFERED - The Board of Health has a trashy midsummer deal for residents looking to unload old washers, TVs, or other bulky waste. Vouchers worth up to $25 are being offered to residents with bulky waste. The vouchers are available at the board office in Town Hall, one per residence with no outstanding trash fees. The value of each voucher is based on regular per-item disposal fees. Materials then can be disposed of at the recycling center on Beech Street Tuesdays through Saturdays between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Hazardous materials are not accepted. Call the center at 781-878-3838 or the board at 781-871-0154, ext. 350. - Steve Hatch

REWARD IN CAT SLAYING - The reward is growing for anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever decapitated a cat and left it near a playground at Lakeview Manor apartments this month. Local businessman Mark Chamberlain called police last week to offer a $500 reward. Since then, he said, three others have joined the effort and the reward was up to $1,800. “It seems like an isolated event,” Police Captain James Mullin said of the cat mutilation. “Let’s hope it stays that way.” People with information should call police at 781-335-1212. - Johanna Seltz