Globe West Community briefing

New K-9 cop joins force in Ashland

September 20, 2009

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The Police Department has acquired a 2-year-old German shepherd named Dax as part of its relaunched K-9 program. Dax and his handler, Officer Chris Alberini, began training last week to be certified in drug detection, building searches, officer protection, finding missing people, and tracking suspects in crimes. Dax was purchased from Connecticut Canine Services in Bethany, Conn., and donated to the town by the Ashland Police Association. The department’s most recent K-9 dog, Kato, left Ashland in 2005 and now works with the Rhode Island State Police. For more information on Ashland’s K-9 program, contact Lieutenant Richard Briggs at 508-881-1212, ext. 16.

- Rachel Lebeaux

HELP DISPLAY LIBRARY’S HISTORY - The Bellingham Public Library is asking residents to help commemorate its history during a gathering Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The library is developing a permanent exhibition that will include framed photographs of each building that has served as the town library since it was founded in 1894. Volunteers will also create a poster-sized collage of people and events related to its history. Individuals with pictures of library events or stories of library history are asked to share these, or to help identify people and events from the library’s scrapbook. For more information, call library director Bernadette Rivard at 508-966-1660 or e-mail her at

- Rachel Lebeaux

ALL-AGES TALK ON OCEAN’S HEALTH - Noted environmentalist and photographer Deborah Cramer will speak at Dover-Sherborn High School on Oct. 14 about the role of humans in maintaining the health of the oceans. The intergenerational program is being sponsored by the Friends of the Council on Aging in cooperation with the high school, and open to anyone in middle school or older. Tickets for adults are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, and $5 for students and seniors. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Council on Aging at 508-651-7858.

- Anna Fiorentino

FUND-RAISER FOR DRAMA TRIP - The Framingham High School Drama Company is hosting a production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,’’ featuring members of the faculty and staff, as a fund-raiser to help students attend next summer’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The drama company was invited to participate in the international arts and theater event, and about 65 students are hoping to make the trip. They have raised $20,000 toward the trip through donations, according to Cathryn Kaner-Taytslin, the group’s publicity chairwoman, but the total bill is expected to be $120,000. Benefit performances of “Charlie Brown,’’ the first of several fund-raising events planned by the student ensemble, will take place Oct. 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Framingham High School. Tickets are $10 in advance, and available online at; tickets at the door will cost $12. For information on making a donation, contact Donna Wresinski, high school theater director, at 508-620-4963, ext. 1604, or e-mail - Connie Paige

HARVEST FESTIVAL TODAY - The Franklin Downtown Partnership will hold its harvest festival today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Main, East Central, and Summer streets. The festival will feature more than 100 crafters, vendors, free music and entertainment, children’s games, a farmers market, and an antique-car show. The rain date is next Sunday. For more information, contact Mary Graff at, or the business organization’s office at or 774-571-3109.

- Rachel Lebeaux

MOVING INTO GREEN HOUSE - It took about a year and a lot of resourcefulness, but Erin and Flip Porter received an occupancy permit on Sept. 9 for what is set to be Holliston’s first almost-LEED-certified house. The Porters built their house on Mellen Street with a limited budget and a boundless desire to be as environmentally conscious as possible, using the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification system as a guide. Their journey through industry manuals, salvage yards, and Craigslist allowed them to fashion a 2,800-square-foot residence with a geothermal well and ultratight construction for the same price as a traditional home. “The biggest joy,’’ said Erin Porter, was “the team we worked with. They were wonderful. We all learned at the same time how to build a green house.’’ The Porters were able to build the entire house with traditional contractors; none were green-certified, but all were willing to learn. The family’s travails and solutions are documented online at

- Megan McKee

PROTECTING BICYCLISTS, PEDESTRIANS - Bicycle and pedestrian injuries and deaths are under the microscope at the state’s Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and the agency has divided $100,000 among 16 communities to target practices that can cause them. Hopkinton will be using its $5,000 grant to assign police officers to patrol high-risk areas. According to the state agency, more than 335 people died between 2003 and 2006 while bicycling or walking on or near Massachusetts roadways. Hopkinton Police Lieutenant Richard A. Flannery said the department can step up its bike and pedestrian law enforcement as well as make sure crosswalk laws are respected by deploying undercover police officers to monitor compliance. - Megan McKee

TEACHER EXCHANGE WITH CHINA - A pair of teachers from China arrived in town Wednesday, taking up temporary positions in the local schools while staying with host families. Li Hong, an English teacher, will be at Medfield High School, and math teacher Huang Jianmei at Blake Middle School until Nov. 2. They will also teach a Mandarin Chinese class at the high school. Meanwhile, Richard DeSorgher, a Medfield High history teacher and town historian, leaves for China on his part of the exchange. Superintendent Robert Maguire said the exchange grew out of conversations between high school faculty and staff members at a Newton-based nonprofit educational organization, the China Exchange Initiative. Maguire said several parties enthusiastic about the initiative have privately funded the Medfield program, including travel and other expenses. Although it is Medfield’s first teacher exchange, Maguire participated in an administrator exchange last school year, and said he hopes the program will grow to include students. - James O’Brien

HYDRANT FLUSHING STARTS - A four- to six-week process of flushing water through fire hydrants to clear iron and manganese sediment from the town’s water pipes began Monday, the Water and Sewer Department announced last week. The sediment has contributed to the discoloration of the water supply at various times in recent years. The flushing will take place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and might produce discoloration of tap water in residences and businesses for several hours as the sediment clears, officials said. To avoid staining clothes or other articles, residents are advised not to run dishwashers, or washing machines during flushing in their area. The specific areas affected by the flushing program will be determined on a weekly basis, and posted on the town’s website, For more information, call the Water and Sewer Department at 508-533-3208. - Rachel Lebeaux

NEW CONCERTMASTER - The Milford-based Claflin Hill Orchestra recently hired a new concertmaster, Bulgarian native Angel Valchinov. He is replacing the orchestra’s longtime concertmaster, Nicola Takov, who is leaving to conduct an orchestra in Spain. Valchinov, a resident of Newton, was a semifinalist at the Vaclav Huml International Violin Competition in Croatia, and won first prize at the California Young Artist Competition as well as the Temecula Young Artist Competition. He also won the Concerto Competitions at both the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California and the Harid Conservatory in Florida. Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra’s 10th anniversary season begins Nov. 7. The season includes five symphony performances, including the Holiday Pops concert, two family concerts, and a reprise of last season’s chamber orchestra. For more information about tickets, sponsorships, and membership benefits, contact Bernadette Stockwell at 508-478-5924 or visit - Anna Fiorentino

VENTING FIRETRUCK FUMES - Firefighters face a daily litany of incidents most others will seldom encounter, including burning buildings, wrecked cars, and dire medical situations. But one of the more insidious dangers is something a bit less tangible: diesel exhaust from fire engines. The state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development released guidelines on exposure to exhaust in fire stations, and cited a study that showed an increased incidence of lung cancer among people exposed to exhaust, with diesel fumes possessing more carcinogenic particles than gasoline. Now, thanks to a $25,000 grant, Millis will be among the fire stations equipped with flexible tubing that hooks up to fire engine tailpipes to vent the exhaust to the outside. This is what the state says is the most effective way to reduce exhaust exposure. The town should have the new ventilation system within weeks. - Megan McKee

ORGANIC FARM DINNER AND AUCTION - The Natick Community Organic Farm will hold its seventh annual harvest dinner and silent auction tomorrow night from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sherborn Inn in Sherborn. By paying $75 for a ticket or $600 for a table, guests will receive a Sherborn Inn-cooked meal made of ingredients from the farm, as well as other local organic producers. All proceeds go toward the Teen Work Summer Program, which pays teens while they learn mechanical, farming, and carpentry skills and form meaningful relationships with peers and mentors. The silent auction features items from an extensive list of local businesses, including Natick’s Five Crows and Good Night Naturals; Holliston’s Out Post Farm; and Wellesley’s Ardan Medspa + Salon and A Little Yoga. Participants will also have a chance to bid on items such as a bed & breakfast getaway in the White Mountains. To order tickets, visit or call 508-655-2204. - Megan McKee

DEADLINE FOR CULTURAL GRANTS - The town’s Cultural Council has set an Oct. 16 deadline for organizations, schools, and individuals to apply for grants to support local activities, including art displays and musical performances, designed to educate or entertain. The council will also accept proposals from schools and youth groups for the PASS program, a ticket subsidy initiative for students. More information is available at, where the form can be downloaded. Applications must be postmarked by Oct. 16 and mailed to the Norfolk Cultural Council, Town Hall, 1 Liberty Lane, Norfolk, MA 02056. - Michele Morgan Bolton

TABLES OPEN AT FALL FESTIVAL - Crafters, vendors, and entertainers are needed for the Plainville Fall Festival to be held in Telford Park on Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A rain date of Oct. 18 has been set. A 12-by-12-foot space can be rented for $25. Vendors supply their own tables and set-up must be completed day by 10 a.m. on the day of the festival. Among the activities will be music, food, games, and a Classic Car Cruise. For more information about the event, or to reserve space, call 508-699-9119 or e-mail - Michele Morgan Bolton

TOUSLEY AT PEACE ABBEY - Singer-songwriter Ben Tousley will perform a benefit concert at the Peace Abbey on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Since starting his musical career in 1981, Tousley has performed in venues including Club Passim in Cambridge, Boston’s First Night, and hundreds of area churches, colleges, schools, and libraries. The Wakefield resident has produced six folk albums, including his first, “Standing There With You,’’ which was named a top 10 folk album of 1987 by WPRB Radio in Princeton, N.J. Tousley is also an adjunct faculty member at Springfield College. Suggested donations of $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors will support the Peace Abbey, a multifaith retreat center at 2 North Main St. For details, contact 508-655-2143 or go to - Anna Fiorentino

INSULATION PROJECT - Selectmen are reaching out to contractors for an estimate of how much it would cost to insulate offices at Town Hall. The board’s chairman, Kenneth Picard, said insulating the ceiling of the building’s main public hall last year saved approximately $8,000 in heating costs. Even with the chamber’s thermostat set at 55 degrees, he said, the insulation kept it useable during winter months. The offices would not be kept so cool, Picard said, but “we’re still trying to see if we can control heat loss.’’ Cost estimates from contractors could arrive in the next few weeks, Picard said, and the proposal would go before Town Meeting this fall. - James O’Brien

SCOUTS CARRY FLAG TO TOP - After training for several months, Boy Scouts from Wrentham’s Troop 131 climbed more than 5,000 feet to the summit of Mount Lafayette in New Hampshire last weekend, displaying an American flag in commemoration of those who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001. The Scouts were participating in the annual Flags on the 48 Memorial Hike in the White Mountains for the fifth time. In previous years they raised flags over Mount Tecumseh, Mount Hale, Middle Carter, and Mount Garfield. This year’s flag was sent to Wrentham’s Cub Scout Den 4 by members of the military in appreciation for a care package and cards of appreciation that they had received. The flag was dedicated to Den 4 while aboard a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter being flown on an active combat mission in Afghanistan. “The troop did the Falling Waters/Old Bridle Path loop to complete three mountains, Little Haystack, Mount Lincoln, and finally Mount Lafayette,’’ said Scoutmaster Alan Plantamura. “There was a great sense of accomplishment for all that participated.’’ Making this year’s trek were Jacob Bruner, Benson Colella, James Richard, Jay Lukes, Jackson Hickey, Cameron Rankin, Dan White, Sean Pazurchek, Zach Jones, Matt Smith, P.J. Plantamura, Pat Zeller, Pat O’Rourke, Will O’Rourke, David Roman, Michael Plantamura, Brock Duvarney, Lee Slamin, C.J. Pierce and Steven Ketchum. - Michele Morgan Bolton