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New England in brief

2 gifts to Amherst College total $125m

November 4, 2009

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AMHERST
Two Amherst College graduates have pledged separate gifts of $100 million and $25 million to their alma mater, the school announced yesterday. The donations, to be paid over five years from donors who wished to remain anonymous, are the largest in the history of the college. The $100 million pledge is among the largest single unrestricted cash gifts to a liberal arts school. The donations dwarf Amherst’s previous largest single infusion of $58 million, proceeds from the February 2008 sale of beach in San Clemente, Calif., that a member of the class of 1919 donated four decades ago.

BOSTON
Cuts to regional school budgets appealed
Saying his budget cuts will trigger local layoffs and increase class sizes, 64 state lawmakers have asked Governor Deval Patrick to reconsider the $18 million in spending reductions he ordered in regional school transportation accounts last week. In a letter to Patrick, the lawmakers, led by Representative Cleon Turner, a Dennis Democrat, said regional schools are required by law to provide transportation and students must travel longer distances than their counterparts in municipal districts. Unlike municipal districts, the legislators say, regional districts cannot go back to member towns for additional funds to address the problem. (State House News Service)

2 men arrested in T groping incidents
Transit police have arrested two men accused of groping young women in separate incidents. The arrests on Monday follow a recent campaign to stop sexual assaults on the MBTA that has boosted reported incidents by 32 percent and arrests by 40 percent, authorities said. On Monday at about 10 p.m., a 19-year-old Revere woman was standing at a Copley station platform when she felt someone inappropriately touch her, according to a police report. A man standing nearby told the startled woman, “I did it, and I liked it,’’ police said. William D. Carlyle, 52, of Boston, was later apprehended at Park Street station and charged with indecent assault and battery. He pleaded not guilty yesterday. Earlier Monday, at the Quincy Center station, police arrested James Williams, 44, of Chelsea, after a 29-year-old Quincy woman identified him as the man who had groped her on a Red Line train in late June, according to police. Williams was also charged with indecent assault and battery and pleaded not guilty.

NEEDHAM
Town OKs $27m for school improvements
Town Meeting has unanimously approved nearly $27 million for repairs and upgrades to the Newman Elementary School. At Monday’s Town Meeting, Selectman Gerald Wasserman said the Newman project is one of the most urgent the town has seen, and the state has agreed by approving a reimbursement of $8.6 million. The school’s heating and ventilation system failed nearly two years ago, and a temporary system was put in place while the town evaluated long-term remedies. The measure will go before voters Dec. 8.

NEW BEDFORD
Trial set to start in fatal boat crash
The trial of a Gloucester power boat operator in a fatal collision off the Massachusetts coast is scheduled to start Thursday. Fred Bevins III faces a charge of boat homicide by negligent operation in New Bedford District Court. Prosecutors say Bevins was skippering a 63-foot power boat that struck a 35-foot-sailboat on Buzzards Bay last July, killing David Walsh of Dartmouth. Walsh’s sailing partner was hurt. If convicted, Bevins faces up to 30 months in jail. (AP)

SALEM
Beverly man guilty of sexual assault
A Beverly man has been sentenced to up to 3 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a Peabody boy numerous times when he was between the ages of 6 and 8. Prosecutors called the actions of Shawn Finnegan, 31, “despicable, horrific, and unimaginable’’ in Salem Superior Court Monday. Prosecutors say Finnegan was a clean-cut professional mortgage broker who befriended the boy’s older sister and his troubled family and posed as a mentor. He began inviting the boy to spend nights at his apartment, where he would molest the boy, now 11. (AP)

Correction: Due to an error in an earlier version of these briefs, Amherst College was listed as being located in Northampton, rather than Amherst.