Globe South Community briefing

Future of dairy remains unsettled

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April 27, 2008

Since purchasing Griffin's Dairy in 1998, town officials have wrangled with the question of what to do with it. Proposals for the 62-acre site have included keeping it as open space and making it the site for a new school. At Town Meeting this month, voters were asked if they would like it preserved as open space. The answer was a resounding no. "I think people at this point just want to keep their options open," said Selectman Robert Wing, who estimated the April 9 vote was 80 percent against preservation. The article was submitted by Griffin's Dairy Study Committee member Jim Dombrowlski, whom Wing credited for "his dedication and hard work on the issue." Opposition to the article came from the Finance Committee, Planning Board, and Park and Recreation Commission. - Robert Carroll

THREE ACCEPT VOLUNTARY LAYOFFS - Three town employees will accept voluntary layoffs and one in the Highway Department will retire, helping to ease a $1 million budget shortfall in Braintree. The four employees were responding to a memo sent this month by Peter Morin, the mayor's chief of staff, who warned of layoffs and asked if anyone was willing to be laid off or retire. He declined to name those who will be laid off or what departments they work in. Those who are laid off can be called back and are eligible for unemployment compensation, Morin said, but will not receive a buyout package. - Matt Carroll

SPELLING BEE SPELLS SUCCESS FOR SCHOOLS - Students in grades 2 through 5 helped raise more than $5,000 for the town's schools in a spelling bee sponsored by the Cohasset Education Foundation this month. Seventeen second-grade teams competed for more than an hour, with the Bee Friends winning by spelling "difficult" correctly. The winning word for the third-grade champions - the Spelltics - was "cough." Fourth-graders were stumped by "persist," except for the victorious Bee Happy team. The fifth-grade spellers' final word was "environment," spelled correctly by the Spelling Buzzers. Altogether, 160 students participated. - Johanna Seltz

NEW EXHIBIT AT ART COMPLEX - The Art Complex Museum will open an exhibit next Sunday of work by ceramic artist Hajime Gen Kozuru purchased by museum cofounder Carl Weyerhaeuser almost 40 years ago. Kozuru divides time between a 19th-century farmhouse studio in Topsfield and Fukuoka, Japan, where he learned the traditional Agano style of ceramic art practiced in Fukuoka. His work reflects elements of both places, according to the museum. The Art Complex Museum is celebrating Kozuru's 70th birthday with a one-person exhibition that includes functional Agano ware from its own collection and new work by the ceramic master. Located at 189 Alden St., the museum is free and open Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. - Robert Knox

THREE POSITIONS OPEN AT TOWN HALL - Help wanted. That plea hangs at Town Hall with openings for three key positions, including building commissioner and Board of Health agent. Recreation director Ted Carroll, who has expanded the department by more than 100 programs since taking over in 1995, is scheduled to begin his new job as Cohasset's recreation director tomorrow. Building commissioner Paul McAuliffe recently was hired as Plymouth's director of inspectional services. Health agent Jeanmarie Joyce was fired in March. "It's kind of bittersweet leaving," said Carroll, who lives in Cohasset and said he faces a "minute-long commute" to work. He said he will stay on part-time until a replacement can be hired, hopefully by the end of May. Applications for all three positions can be submitted to the personnel administrator at Town Hall. - Robert Carroll

REDISTRICTING STUDY TO BEGIN - The town approved an override to build a new school and the state has agreed to pay part of the $26.6 million cost, but now comes the hard part: deciding which children will go there. The School Committee voted this month to form a redistricting committee, chaired by Superintendent Dorothy Galo, to decide by November how to divide the town into four elementary school districts from the current three. The School Department hopes to have the new school open by September of 2009, Galo said. "It can be a somewhat emotional issue for parents," she said of redistricting, adding that parents from the Foster, Plymouth River, and South schools will be on the committee. This year Foster has 607 students and Plymouth River has 677 in kindergarten through fifth grade. South School has 576 elementary students and 75 in preschool. "The new school will be designed for 630 students, but obviously in the first year all of our schools won't be at peak capacity. One of our first tasks is to decide how many students will be in each school and where to leave room for future growth," Galo said. - Johanna Seltz

ZONING CHANGE HEADS TO VOTERS - Town Meeting will be asked to decide on a zoning change that would allow Riddle's Supermarket, the town's only grocery store, to expand. "The store is right at capacity at 7,500 square feet," said Ray Riddle, who has owned the market since 1986. "We need to expand because consumers are demanding more variety, what with organic and light." He wants to add 4,500 square feet of floor space, pave and enlarge the parking area, and make more room behind the store for deliveries and recycling. The Planning Board voted this month to recommend approval of a parking overlay zone for the area, which would make the project possible. Town Meeting is scheduled for May 5. - Johanna Seltz

SHELLFISHING SEASON OPENS - Shellfishing season has opened for its sixth year since the restoration of shellfishing beds in Kingston Bay. Shellfish licenses may be obtained at the selectmen's office in Town Hall, 26 Evergreen St., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The fee is $25 for residents, $10 for ages 62 and older, and $65 for nonresidents (including a parking permit for Gray's Beach). Shellfishing is allowed on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday through Oct. 31. - Robert Knox

TWO COMPLETE FIREFIGHTER TRAINING - Two Marshfield firefighters recently graduated from the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy in Stow, according to Chief Kevin Robinson. The firefighters - paramedic Matthew Cohen of Plymouth and EMT Todd G. LaPorte of Marshfield - were among 69 men and women who completed the 12-week recruit training program and graduated with the academy's 179th class. - Emily Sweeney

PROGRAM FOR TODDLERS TO BEGIN - The Thacher Montessori School will open a new toddler program in September that will serve children from ages 15 months to 3 years old. The toddlers will move into one of the four primary classrooms when they show readiness for the next level, following the usual Montessori practice. The independent school serves 200 children from preschool through eighth grade. - Matt Carroll

TOWN CLERK GETS ADDED DUTIES - The Board of Selectmen recently appointed Town Clerk Patricia M. Anderson to a seat on the Board of Registrars of Voters and to serve as the town's burial agent. Both positions had been held by Janice M. Lawson, who retired as town clerk effective April 5. Anderson, who had been assistant town clerk, was elected to succeed Lawson as clerk. In Norwell, the town clerk traditionally serves as the burial agent, a position that involves issuing burial permits, and as clerk on the Board of Registrars of Voters. In other recent business, selectmen held their annual post-election reorganization, choosing its officers for the coming year. John Mariano was elected chairman, Thomas J. Bigger, vice chairman, and Richard Merritt, clerk. The board appointed Tom Harrison to the Zoning Board of Appeals. - John Laidler

BOATING SAFETY COURSE TO BEGIN - The Pembroke Watershed Association, in partnership with the Pembroke Police Department and the state Environmental Police, is offering its third annual boating safety course. The free 10-hour class will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on May 20, 22, 27, 29, and June 3 at the Community Middle School. Anyone interested in participating should contact either Pembroke Police Lieutenant Willard J. Boulter at 781-293-9259 or the Environmental Police at 508-759-0002. Meanwhile, the Pembroke Historical Society is inviting residents to its annual Grand Old Fish Fry from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Sunday at the Thomas Reading Memorial Herring Run Park on Route 14. Fish cakes, hot dogs, corn bread, and lemonade will be among the foods served at the event, which will also feature rubber duck races, live music, face painting, balloons, a children's area, and the sale of items depicting scenes from Pembroke history. The event, the society's largest annual fund-raiser, will help pay for continuing maintenance of the organization's museum, Adah Hall House, and Friends Quaker Meeting House. - John Laidler

YOUTH JOB FAIR WEDNESDAY - Local teenagers are invited to attend a youth job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Plymouth South High School. More than 20 local businesses, along with the town's Recreation Department, are scheduled to participate in the free event. There are openings for a variety of positions, including lifeguards, cashiers, camp counselors, landscapers, waiters, and waitresses. The fair is sponsored by the Plymouth public schools, My Turn Inc., and the Plymouth Youth Development Collaborative. For more information, contact Stacia Draper at 508-224-7512, ext. 2887. - Emily Sweeney

BUSINESS GROUP REELECTS BERTMAN - Jeffrey Bertman of Rogers Jewelry in Quincy has been reelected as president of the Quincy Business Association's board of directors. On the agenda for Bertman are upgrading the annual sidewalk sale July 17-19 and working more closely with Mayor Thomas P. Koch. "We see great potential there," he said. Bertman, who is manager of the family-owned business, said the business organization has roughly 250 members. - Matt Carroll

SOME WILL LOSE FLOOD INSURANCE DISCOUNT - The Conservation Commission is advising residents that because of changes in federal policy that take effect May 1, homeowners whose properties are at high risk of flooding will lose discounts on their flood insurance premiums. Scituate participates in the Community Rating System, a voluntary federal incentive program under which municipalities obtain discounts on flood insurance rates for residents if they carry out community floodplain management activities that exceed the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program. Until now, even those residents whose buildings were at high risk for flooding received the discounts obtained by the community. But under the new rules being instituted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, buildings whose lowest floors are at least a foot below the base flood elevation will not be eligible for the community's discount. For more information, call the conservation office at 781-545-8721. - John Laidler

LAYOFFS IN SCHOOLS CALLED LIKELY - Layoffs are likely in the public schools next year, according to Superintendent Mary Jo Livingstone. "In the past month we've had to take several budget reductions and we're now down $2.7 million" to $54.6 million, she said. "That's 2 percent below level funding" from this year. "There are 29 positions eliminated. It means we won't be able to provide the level of service we currently provide." Livingstone said retirement and attrition will account for most of the lost jobs, but "it's most likely there will be layoffs." Among the eliminated positions are all teacher aides in kindergarten classes and five administrative positions, she said. "Is it depressing? In the grand scheme of my first year as superintendent, this hasn't been a highlight," she said of the budget troubles. She noted that the mayor asked all of the town's departments to cut their budget requests. "The bigger concern is that we don't have contracts settled and all the school and town unions are negotiating this year," Livingstone said. "That money is not in the budget. There's a lot of belt-tightening that has to go on for us to survive this year. Over the course of several years we'll see an upswing. I'm hoping we're bottoming out right now." - Johanna Seltz


FIXING THE HOLES - The town next month will begin plugging miles of leaky sewer pipes using a combined $2 million in grants and loans from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority and town sewer revenue. Infrastructure that has been repaired repeatedly over the years is in some places more than 100 years old. The goal is to cut down on the amount of clean water the MWRA has to handle because of water infiltration. - Michele Morgan Bolton

PUTTING FACES ON FUNDING - Officials of the town's new nonprofit, school-funding foundation, FACES, or Foxborough: A Community Enriching Schools, are hoping to raise an initial $200,000 by raffling three multiperson vacations, valued at $15,000 each, and a prepaid, three-year lease on a Lexus sport utility vehicle. Raffle tickets are $100 each, and only 500 will be sold for each of the four items, which were donated by FACES president Judee Harrington and her husband, Larry, chairman of the School Committee. "They are very generous people," said FACES committee member Debbie Cunniff. The vacation prizes include six-person trips to Aruba and Orlando, and a four-person trip to Hawaii. Organizers are hoping to have all tickets sold in time to announce at least a couple of the raffle prizes at the foundation's inaugural event at Gillette Stadium at 7 p.m. June 14. To buy a raffle ticket or a $25 ticket to the event, call the Harringtons at 508 543-5631, Cunniff at 508-698-3485, or Martha Slattery at 508-543-3753. - Joan Wilder

REMEMBERING RIKER - Officials are considering naming the town's skate park in memory of lifelong resident Gordon Riker, who died at 22 years old on April 4 of last year in a bicycle accident in Boston. Riker had successfully lobbied the town's leaders, in his early teens, to get the local skateboard park built. Riker then lived up to his side of the bargain, monitoring the park and keeping it clean. "I remember going down there with Gordon and coming out with bags full of rubbish," Riker's mother, Pamela King, said during an interview shortly after her son's death. Friends in town are also organizing a 5-kilometer road race to be run in June in Riker's memory. Executive Administrator Charles Seelig said the race is to be a "fun run," organized to remember Riker but not as a fund-raiser. - Christine Legere

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