Globe South Community briefing

Crime wavelet in Abington

May 24, 2009
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A 29-year-old commuter was beaten and robbed last week as he walked home on Route 123, about 100 yards from the Abington T station. Earlier in the month, a convenience store employee was robbed by two men who hit him with a hammer before throwing coffee in his face. And while Police Chief David Majenski does not believe the two incidents reflect an Abington trend, he is cautioning residents to be aware of their surroundings, especially at night. "These were random acts that show a pattern of the whole region and not just" Abington, he said. "And they should make people more aware that incidents like these can happen." Majenski said arrests have been made in both cases. Neither victim, he said, was seriously injured. "No matter where you are, you should be aware of who is around you," said Majenski. "And having a cellphone on you at all times is certainly a good idea." - Robert Carroll

ROAD REPAIRS - The second half of the "100 roads program" has been announced by Mayor Joseph C. Sullivan. The idea, which started last year, is to provide a comprehensive, neighborhood-oriented plan to fix roads. The three-year plan is expected to cost $16 million, according to the mayor's office. Last year, 41 roads were repaired. The town is using bond money, water and sewer enterprise money, and state funding.

- Matt Carroll

WATER WATCH - The Board of Health wants more frequent testing of private drinking wells. Currently the wells are tested only when a property changes hands, according to health inspector Tara Tradd. The new rules would require tests of all wells at least every three years and after any changes in water quality, she said. The town has about 35 private wells, she said. They would be tested for coliform bacteria, sanitary chemicals, sodium, metals, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds. The proposed change was initiated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which issued model regulations for local boards of health. The local boards, not the state, regulate private wells. The Board of Health is expected to vote on the new rule at its June 1 meeting and it would take effect 30 days later, Tradd said.

- Johanna Seltz

MALL EXPANSION - While no one is calling Hanover recession-proof, the town continues to grow commercially. As construction workers move steadily toward a fall opening for a massive Target store and shopping area on Route 53, residents at last week's Town Meeting backed articles that could reshape the Hanover Mall. Voters approved a decrease in the amount of parking required at the mall, allowing for building expansion. They also agreed to amend zoning bylaws that could allow an assisted-living facility to be built next to the movie theater behind the mall. "That would address a housing plan that has been discussed by the town," said Town Planner Andrew Port, who said that projects within the Planned Shopping Center District, which includes the mall, would require special permits from the planning board.

- Robert Carroll

CHURCH SCALES BACK PLANS - The South Shore Baptist Church has proposed a $10 million expansion, including a new 15,000-square-foot sanctuary, an 85-foot steeple, and a new parking lot. The church, located at 578 Main St. near the corner of Free Street, proposed a more ambitious plan in 2002 that was opposed by neighbors and wasn't approved by the Board of Health. Officials said the new plans are a scaled down version of the church's earlier plan and call for the moving of an antique house at 12 Front St. that the church intends to buy, in order to create a cohesive streetscape on Main Street. The project will need approvals from the planning and health boards and Conservation Commission, and will be reviewed by the Historic Districts Commission and Historical Commission. - L.E. Crowley

TWO-TIME WINNER - A Kennedy School paraprofessional who works with third-graders will receive her second service award from the Norfolk County Teachers Association at a reception next month. Sara DePesa, 52, said she was shocked to learn that she was chosen to receive the award again. The first time was nearly a decade ago, when she worked, also as a paraprofessional, at the Butler School in her hometown of Avon. "I just never imagined that in a million years I would get it here," said DePesa in a recent telephone interview. "I just come in and do my job and I'm always happy to be here, like everyone else." DePesa, a married mother with three children in their 20s, is in her eighth year at the Kennedy School. She works individually or in small groups with students who have special education plans and helps the teacher implement lessons. Her favorite part of the job, she said, is "working with the children every day." - Franci Richardson Ellement

OVERRIDE REJECTED - Schools, public safety and the library will have less money this fiscal year after voters last week rejected a $1.6 million override by 201 votes. Town Meeting earlier had approved two budgets, one that included the override amount and one without it, in anticipation of the May 18 override vote. The vote's outcome means one fewer police officer and firefighter positions, and considerable cuts for the schools. The library will be open only three days and could lose its state certification, unless it can raise money privately, officials said.

- Johanna Seltz

TRIP TO THE PAST - The town will celebrate its history and culture next Sunday with free activities at local historic sites during Marshfield's Yester-Days event. The 1857 Winslow Schoolhouse will hold classes - including recess - from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a horseshoe demonstration at the blacksmith shop and a lecture at the Daniel Webster law office. The Daniel Webster estate will be open from noon to 2 p.m. for tours, chowder sampling, and craft demonstrations. Mass Audubon staff will lead a historic walk from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Historic Winslow House will be open for tours and ice cream. Visitors can bring gloves and tools to help plant a 19th-century garden at the Marcia Thomas House from 2 to 4 p.m. Parking is available at the senior center, and a shuttle bus will make stops at all sites throughout the day. More information is available by calling the Marshfield Historical Commission, 781-837-9858.

- Johanna Seltz

SELECTMEN REORGANIZE - John Shields has been elected the chairman of the Board of Selectmen. Shields, who ran unopposed in last month's town election, was elected chairman unanimously. Initiatives he hopes to work on include plans for two wind turbines, which could be a money-making deal for the town, and a proposal to consolidate property management of the town's facilities. Articles related to both passed the recent Town Meeting. The other members of the board are Kathryn A. Fagan, the former chairwoman, and Marion V. McEttrick.

- Matt Carroll

CITIZEN OF THE YEAR - Longtime volunteer Kevin Finneran received the Norwell Chamber of Commerce's highest honor, "Citizen of the Year," during an awards ceremony May 7 at the Barker Tavern in Scituate. Finneran, 62, has volunteered for the town's basketball league, which has grown from 27 players when Finneran first volunteered 30 years ago to more than 100 today. He has been president of the town's boosters club, a leader in the project to install underground sprinklers for the town's Little League fields, and a member of the recycling committee and the Sparrell School reuse committee. Uncomfortable with the accolades, Finneran said he was surprised and honored to receive the award, but will be happy when he can return to relative anonymity.

- L.E. Crowley

SELECTMEN CHOOSE CHAIRMAN - The Board of Selectmen chose Arthur Boyle to serve as its chairman for the coming year. Donal Anderson will serve as vice chairman, and Willard Boulter as clerk. The board also welcomed its two new members, Lewis Stone and Daniel Trabucco, who were chosen at the annual town election to succeed the retiring Hilary Wilson and Terry Finnegan. - John Laidler

STICKERS ON SALE - Residents can now buy stickers to access local beaches, ponds, transfer stations, and state boat ramp. The new stickers are valid from July 1 to June 30, 2010. Prices for transfer station access went up from last year: standard passes cost $178, and for seniors, the rates went up from $65 to $134. (The senior rate had not increased for several years, said Patrick O'Brien, special assistant to the town manager). Recycle-only stickers also increased, from $2 to $12 per year. The rest of the stickers cost the same as last year, according to O'Brien. Beach parking stickers are $15, and $5 for seniors and handicapped; 4x4 stickers for Long Beach are $35, and $12 for seniors and the handicapped. Most stickers can be purchased by mail, and through the town's website. Senior, handicapped sales, and second household transfer station access must be purchased in person at Town Hall. Recycling stickers are sold by the DPW, with offices in Town Hall. For more information, visit

- Emily Sweeney

LONGTIME COUNCILOR TO STEP DOWN - Leo J. Kelly, the nine-term veteran of the Quincy City Council, does not plan to seek re-election, saying "the timing is right." Kelly, 77, represented Ward 1 over two separate stints, first starting in the 1970s, then after the 2003 election. Of those issues he has worked on through the decades, he is proudest of the harbor cleanup and the establishment of the Manet Community Health Center system. He pointed out that initiatives like the health center would be impossible to do today because of the fiscal crisis, which he regrets. "I like doing things, not taking them apart," he said. He plans to stay involved in community activities.

- Matt Carroll

SUMMER CAMPS - Randolph parents looking to keep their children busy and engaged this summer will be able to choose from a host of programs. Through community partnerships and grants, the town is offering a new lineup of summer camps and enrichment programs, with free breakfast and lunch, aimed at children entering kindergarten through ninth grade. "The variety of creative, educational, and fun programming offered this summer is something this town can be very proud of," said Executive Secretary Dave Murphy. The Recreation Department has retooled the summer day camp, which will be held at the JFK Elementary School June 29 to Aug. 14. The fee is $100 per week. There are also half-day and per-day options available to accommodate families' schedules. Also being offered are enrichment programs focusing on music, sports, step dancing, computers, and theater. Costs vary for these programs. Residents can register at or attend the registration night June 3, 6 to 8 p.m. at the JFK school. The Randolph Music Boosters is offering a half-day, four-day a week music program from June 29 to Aug. 6 for $200. The program is open to children entering grades 5-9, and will be held at the high school. Contact Jan Lolli at For children entering grades 7 and 8, the Randolph Community Middle School is offering an academic and recreation program, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 29 to July 31. The cost of the entire five weeks is $250. "We have worked to make each of these programs affordable," said John Sheehan, principal of RCMS, in a letter to parents. "After researching comparable programs in the area, we believe that we have accomplished that goal." Contact Sheehan at for more information on the middle school program.

- Wendy Chow

TAX BILLS COMING - It's taken lobbying, votes by the selectmen, and a vote of Town Meeting. Finally Rockland has Governor Deval Patrick's approval to send out supplemental tax bills to rectify a clerical error discovered four months ago. The error counted as current revenue a payment from the development of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. That meant the town could not raise the full amount of tax revenue it otherwise could, and that could have cost the town $637,000 as the town set the tax rate at $10.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Legislation filed by the governor's office was necessary to rectify things and had to be requested by Town Meeting, and Patrick signed it a week ago. Supplemental bills averaging $98 per household are now being prepared and should be mailed by the end of June, Town Administrator Allan R. Chiocca said.

- Steve Hatch

DIRTY WATER, CONTINUED - The water division will continue the annual spring water main flushing program through the end of May. This activity will be conducted during the late evening hours in order to minimize any inconvenience to consumers. The water main flushing can result in a temporary rusty discoloration of the water that is not a health hazard, but could affect clothing in washing machines. Officials recommend that the water be checked before residents do their laundry. The annual flushing program is necessary to improve water quality. For any questions or problems, call the water department at 781-545-8735. - L.E. Crowley

WIND POWER - The town has its first application for a wind turbine, according to town planner Rod Fuqua. Joseph Fantasia applied for a special permit to put a 60-foot-tall tower - with blades 23 feet in diameter - behind a four-unit apartment building he owns on Commercial Street in East Weymouth. The property backs up to the Pingree Primary School. Fuqua said the town's board of appeals will decide if the project meets the local criteria for allowing small wind systems. - Johanna Seltz

Around the region

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 save on labor, envelopes, and postage. - Steve Hatch

HEALTHY, BUT VIGILANT - A 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.

- 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