New England in brief

Group to cull from schools’ best practices

December 2, 2009

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The Boston Plan for Excellence, a nonprofit educational foundation, announced the formation of a consortium of officials of Boston public, private, parochial, and charter schools, along with the Metco program. According to spokeswoman Katie Bayerl, the consortium will examine what practices are allowing the best of each sector to attain a culture of high achievement among students and faculty and what lessons from these high-performing institutions can be passed on to all schools. “The Boston Schoolchildren’s Consortium is a positive step forward and allows us to learn from one another, to exchange ideas, and to share best practices,’’ Mayor Thomas M. Menino said.

Streamlined billing set for H1N1 vaccine
The state has reached an agreement with major health insurance plans on billing for swine flu vaccines given at public clinics. The agreement, announced yesterday, allows local communities to streamline billing for administering the H1N1 vaccine. Instead of billing individual insurers, public clinics will submit billing information to Commonwealth Medicine, the health care consulting division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which will then submit claims to health plans and reimburse the cities and towns.

Cookie box held crack and a conviction
A Dorchester man who attempted to hide his crack cocaine in a Chips Ahoy cookie package was sentenced to five to seven years in state prison yesterday, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. Demetrius Ennis, 27, pleaded guilty at his Nov. 17 trial to trafficking more than 28 grams of a Class B substance, Conley said. According to the statement, a Boston police drug control unit was investigating in the Julian Street area on Feb. 22, 2005. When the officers were on the second floor of one residence, they noticed the Chips Ahoy package in the snow and an unopened plastic container full of the cookies in the bedroom where Ennis was found. Two large rocks of crack were found inside the box.

Van strikes police officer on paid detail
A Chelsea police officer was injured yesterday when he was struck by a vehicle while working a construction detail. Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes said the 30-year-old officer, whose name was not released, was working a paid detail on the Chelsea Street Bridge when a minivan turned onto the bridge and became stuck on the median. The officer attempted to help the driver, a woman police did not identify, to get off the curb safely, but he was struck as the vehicle lurched forward, Kyes said. Workers from the J.F. White contracting company helped care for the injured officer until he was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, Kyes said. The officer’s injuries were not thought to be life-threatening.

Warehouse owner breaks silence on fire
The owner of a Worcester warehouse where six firefighters died a decade ago says he prays for the victims twice a day. Ding On Kwan told The Telegram & Gazette in his first public comments since the Dec. 3, 1999, fire that he has kept silent largely out of respect for the dead and their families. Kwan also showed the newspaper a copy of a Fire Department inspection three days before the vacant Worcester Cold Storage burned down that showed the building was secured properly. Investigators said two homeless people started the blaze by knocking over a candle, then left the building without alerting the Fire Department. (AP)

Motorist helps police rounding up cows
Interstate 91 South in Springfield was shut down for approximately 30 minutes yesterday to allow State Police to safely remove two cows from the travel lanes. The cows, approximately 500 pounds each, had escaped from a trailer that came unlatched and were walking near Exit 8. A motorist who was stuck in traffic offered his help to state troopers, Springfield animal control, and environmental police. Dressed in a cowboy hat and boots, the motorist lassoed one cow, then the other, and was able to guide the animals back into the trailer.