Globe West Community briefing

Talk of community garden

March 8, 2009
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A panel forum, "Let's Start a Community Garden!" will he held Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Ashland Public Library's community room. The free event is presented by We Love Ashland, the Ashland Garden Club, and the Friends of the Ashland Public Library; the groups are looking to find land for short- and long-term gardening projects in town. Speakers with community gardening experience will offer advice, and there will be time for questions and answers, with town resident Leslie Githens serving as moderator. For more information, visit - Rachel Lebeaux

SELECTMEN SEEKING VOLUNTEERS - The Board of Selectmen is seeking applicants for a number of town committee and board appointments. The open positions include spots on the Board of Assessors, the Commission on Disability, the Conservation Commission, the Council on Aging, the Board of Health, the Parks Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals. To receive an application, contact the selectmen's clerk, Jacki Bokoski, at 508-966-5800, or download one from the town website, The deadline to submit an application is Wednesday. - Rachel Lebeaux

SPOTLIGHT ON HOLLISTON ARTIST - Awardwinning photographer Beth Hoffer is the "Artist of the Month" being featured at the Dover Town Library. "Every Picture Tells a Story" showcases her photos of New England scenes. The monthly exhibition is sponsored by the Friends of the Library as a fund-raiser, with the organization receiving 10 percent of any sales of Hoffer's photos. For more information about Hoffer, a Holliston resident, visit - Anna Fiorentino

DISCUSSION ON THE ECONOMY - Franklin High School will host a panel of local, state and federal government officials tomorrow addressing how the deteriorating economy is affecting the region. The discussion will be held at the high school from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. Panelists include US Representative Jim McGovern, state Representative James Vallee, state Senators Karen Spilka and Scott Brown, Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting, and Town Council chairman Chris Feeley. The forum will allow each panelist to address several issues, such as how they are attempting to meet the needs of their constituents with regard to the economy, the challenges they face, how to work with other officials, budget priorities and how they view the budget restraints imposed by Proposition 2 1/2. Those with questions should contact Mike Walsh at 508-541-2100. - Rachel Lebeaux

OPENINGS ON BALLOT - With roughly five weeks to go before the filing deadline, the annual town election ballot features only one contested race, while a few positions have generated no interest from residents. Joseph Marsden Jr., a local lawyer, is challenging incumbent William McColl for one open seat on the Board of Selectmen in the May 19 election. No one has filed papers to run for the two open spots on the Park Commission; one open seat on the Planning Board, and one open seat on the Board of Health. Richard Maccagnano, whose Board of Health term expires this year, is running for the one open slot on the Board of Water Commissioners. All other candidates for the Finance Committee, Housing Authority, Board of Library Trustees, School Committee, and Board of Assessors are unchallenged incumbents. Nomination papers are due in the town clerk's office on April 14 at 4:30 p.m. - Megan McKee

WOMEN'S CLUB GOES GREEN - The Hopkinton Women's Club will host a "Go Green" community event on March 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at St. John the Evangelist Parish on Church Street. The free event will include informational presentations about recycling, a fashion show featuring items made of recycled goods, a book swap, and a collection bin for used items - including sneakers, eyeglasses, cellphones, and ink cartridges - that will be recycled. - Calvin Hennick

SETTING UP EMERGENCY PANEL - The town's Board of Health has begun interviewing candidates for an executive committee to administer the local Medical Reserve Corps. The all-volunteer groups, required by the state, are intended to assist public safety departments in the event of local and regional emergencies, such as December's ice storm, said Nancy Bennotti, the Board of Health's administrative agent. Board member Melissa Stuart, Medfield's acting corps coordinator, said her colleagues will sift through the candidates to "determine who will be chair, vice chair, and secretary, as well as identify their mission, vision, and goal statement." Stuart said the Board of Health may be ready to vote on the committee appointments during its meeting Wednesday. Residents interested in participating in the Medical Reserve Corps should call the board at 508-359-8505, ext. 604, or e-mail - James O'Brien

HEARING ON ZONING BYLAWS - The town's Planning and Economic Development Board has scheduled a public hearing on proposed amendments to the town's zoning bylaws for March 17 at 7:15 p.m. in Town Hall. Proposed changes relate to open space residential development, sign regulations, and agricultural residential districts. The changes will be considered by the Town Meeting voters in May. Written comments are encouraged and can be mailed to the Medway Planning and Economic Development Board, 155 Village St., Medway, MA 02053, or e-mailed to For more information on the proposed amendments, visit or call 508-533-3291. - Rachel Lebeaux

LANGUAGE LESSONS ONLINE - The Milford Town Library recently introduced a new database, Mango Languages, that offers online language lessons. The resource can be accessed through the library's computers or on its website,, by logging in with a Milford Town Library card number. The site offers lessons in Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and English; second-language lessons are available to Brazilian, Portuguese, Polish, and Spanish speakers. Access to Mango Languages is made possible by a Conversation Circles Library Services and Technology Act grant administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, with federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. - Anna Fiorentino

RESIDENT OFFERS LAND - Town resident Mary Cassidy has offered to donate three parcels of land to the town, two on Orchard Street and one on Ridge Street, totaling more than 16 acres. Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said that before town officials make any decisions, they are investigating whether two potential issues - an old dam on Bogastow Brook, which runs through one of the Orchard Street properties, and an oil discharge on a lot adjacent to the Ridge Street property - pose any liabilities to the town. - Megan McKee

BUYOUTS FOR TOWN EMPLOYEES - The Board of Selectmen on Monday approved an early retirement option for town employees that would provide one-time cash payouts ranging from $10,000 to $24,000, depending on service length. Town Administrator Martha White is identifying interested employees and will run numbers to present to board members, who have the final say on which, if any, town employees may retire early. Selectman Joshua Ostroff said that the board, faced with the prospect of job cuts to balance the town's budget next fiscal year, considers the option crucial to retaining talented employees. Any early retirements could reduce the number of layoffs, which under the town's union contracts would be based on seniority. "It puts us more in the driver's seat," said Ostroff. "We're unlikely to best serve the people if we can only play by the old rules." He said that the board will still consider the option even if early retirement costs the town more money than seniority-based layoffs. - Megan McKee

BUDDY FINDS A HOME - Buddy, the German Shepherd-mix puppy who won hearts last fall after being rescued from abuse, has found a new home. Animal Control Officer Hilary Cohen said she fielded offers from 113 families willing to take in the dog, who has since recovered from a shattered leg suffered in a beating with a baseball bat. Officials have not identified the new home, but said it is with an attentive family who have older children and other pets. Former owner Patricia King, now of North Attleborough, was arrested and charged with cruelty to animals, accused of not seeking timely care for the injured dog, and neglecting to provide food and water. After a hearing in Wrentham District Court, King was placed on probation and her case was continued without a finding for a year. No charges have been filed in connection with the dog's beating, although the case remains open, Cohen said. She said she is happy that Buddy's life has settled down, yet it was hard to see him go: "He was a fun friend while he was here, even though he ate everything not nailed down." - Michele Morgan Bolton

BLEAK BUDGET PICTURE - Town and union officials met last week to review a bleak budget picture in which merely maintaining government services would lead to a $530,000 shortfall for next fiscal year. Town Administrator Joseph Fernandes and selectmen met with union leaders representing municipal employees, including teachers, paraprofessionals, custodians, police officers, firefighters and emergency dispatchers, to share information. While no concessions were requested, Fernandes said, it shouldn't be a surprise that "80 percent of the $530,000 shortfall will have to come out of employees' pockets," since 80 percent of the town's expenditures are related to either wages or benefits. Once a budget proposal is finalized, it would go before Town Meeting voters for approval, with the session to be held sometime between April 27 and June 30, officials said. The new fiscal year begins July 1. - Michele Morgan Bolton

HEARINGS ON TOWN MEETING - The town's Advisory Committee is holding two public hearings this week to discuss articles on the warrant for Town Meeting, which convenes April 28. The agenda for the first session, tomorrow at 7 p.m., includes zoning and open space items, as well as a proposal for a new access road to Pine Hill Elementary School. The 8:30 a.m. session on Saturday will cover a number of spending measures, including a supplemental budget for this fiscal year. Both hearings will be held in Town Hall, 19 Washington St. - Anna Fiorentino

FUNDS FOR TOWN HALL STUDY - Selectman Kenneth E. Picard said that on Wednesday he will present the Community Preservation Committee with a second draft of a previously rejected proposal to renovate Town Hall. Picard said his new proposal seeks $55,300 - down from $583,000 in the previous proposal - to fund an evaluation and feasibility report on rehabilitating the 120-year-old building. "We've taken a step back," said Picard. "It sounded like, from public hearings, that people wanted to . . . take a smaller bite." If the more modest proposal wins Town Meeting approval, a renovation committee would be formed and an architect would be hired to conduct the evaluation. Picard also plans to ask the committee at its 7:30 p.m. meeting Wednesday to support spending $27,000 to fund an interim step at Town Hall - the repair and replacement of 16 windows. The committee, which evaluates requests for funds from the town's Community Preservation Act coffers, meets at Nipmuc Regional High School, 90 Pleasant St. - James O'Brien

CHANGES WIN OK FOR CVS PLAN - The town's Zoning Board of Appeals recently voted, 4 to 1, to approve a special permit for a CVS Pharmacy at South Street (Route 1A) and Randall Road, near the middle of town. In the course of the board's evaluation, developers GB New England 2 LLC reduced the project's footprint and parking-space count, redesigned the exterior to conform to a Colonial style, shifted the building closer to Randall Road, eliminated a walk-in clinic from the plan, and agreed to put a new traffic light at the intersection. "CVS really did make a concerted, maybe unprecedented in Wrentham, effort to address concerns of abutters," said the developer's lawyer, Richard T. Rook. Maryanne Jefferson, the zoning board's assistant, said neighbors could still appeal the variance's approval, with the 20-day period starting once the decision is issued in writing, expected to be this week. The developer also needs approvals from the town's Planning Board and Conservation Commission. - James O'Brien

LOCAL CHARITY IN 'STARS' SPOTLIGHT - A cofounder of Apple Computer Inc. is celebrating his appearance on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" tomorrow night with three new T-shirts, proceeds from which will go to the Friendship Network for Children, a Northborough nonprofit organization that supports efforts against autism. Steve Wozniak, who has a history of philanthropic ventures, will appear on the two-hour season premiere of the show at 8 p.m. The owner of his speaking agency had a hand in selecting the Friendship Network. She has 5-year-old twin nieces with autism, she told the organization's founder and executive director Nancy Swanberg. The Friendship Network for Children, founded in 2004, helps children with autism, their families and professionals working in the field. For more information about the organization or to order a T-shirt, visit - Julia Rappaport

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