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Gustafson takes over at Millis schools

Posted July 5, 2008 07:46 AM

New Millis Superintendent of Schools Nancy Gustafson has taken the reins after signing a three-year contract with the town's School Committee.

Gustafson, who has a certificate of advanced graduate studies from Lesley University and a master’s degree from Boston University, said she plans to emphasize teacher collaboration and student writing.

Gustafson was previously the district’s director of curriculum, assessment, and professional development. She replaces former Superintendent Peter Sanchioni, who resigned to take a similar position in Natick.

“Our goal, is to continue the great work that we’ve been doing,” she said.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis hopes to have new superintendent within a month

Posted May 30, 2008 07:03 AM


Millis School Committee Chairman Chris Gove said the board hopes to appoint a successor to Superintendent Peter Sanchioni before Sanchioni leaves at the end of June to take over the helm of Natick's schools.

The committee voted May 20 to negotiate with curriculum coordinator Nancy Gustafson about taking the position. Gustafson has been with the district for two years.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis voters to decide two overrides tomorrow

Posted May 4, 2008 06:55 AM

Millis voters will go to the polls tomorrow to decide two two override questions.

In the first proposal, town officials are seeking a one-time $400,000 capital override for the purchase of a new fire truck. The measure would add $138 to the average single-family property tax bill next year.

In the second measure, officials are seeking an operating override of $180,000 to pay for three additional firefighter-EMTs. The proposal would add about $63 per year to the average tax bill for a single-family property.

In a capital or debt exclusion override, voters approve a one-time expenditure that increases the town's tax levy only until the debt is fully paid. An operating override permanently adds to residents' annual tax bills.

Elsewhere on the ballot, Planning Board chairwoman Catherine C. MacInnes faces challenger Joseph Fawkes in the only contested race in tomorrow's election. MacInnes is running for her fourth five-year term. Polls at the Veterans Memorial Building will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., officials said.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis selectmen to name new fire chief soon

Posted March 7, 2008 06:50 AM

After delaying their decision at two previously scheduled meetings due to attendance issues, members of the Millis Board of Selectmen say they intend to name a new fire chief for the town on March 18.

The selectmen have a policy not to make any major decisions without a full five-member board present, and Selectwoman Jennifer Firth was unable to attend the last two meetings.

Last month, the selectmen last month interviewed three finalists for the post: Jay
McMorrow, the department’s interim chief; Mark Pare, an assistant chief for administration in
the Providence Fire Department; and Steven Garon, deputy chief of the Bellingham Fire Department.

-- Calvin Hennick

The road not taken ... until later this month

Posted February 11, 2008 07:15 AM


Selectmen will take Greenwood Drive by eminent domain on Feb. 25, the last step in making the culde-sac an official town road.

Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said that Town Meeting voters have already approved the street acceptance, but that the town has been unable to contact former Millis developer John Toth about signing the road over.

Greenwood Drive is a part of a subdivision completed in the 1990s. Making it official will make residents their eligible for the full range of city services, including maintenance and plowing.

-- Calvin Hennick

Saving the family farm in Millis

Posted February 7, 2008 01:56 PM


Selectmen Monday will meet with a representative from the Trustees of Reservations to discuss backing the group's plan to ensure that a local farm is preserved.

Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said the group is working to obtain a state grant, which it
will use to purchase a conservation restriction for the land, which has been known around town as the Bigelow Farm. The property is located off of Norfolk Road.

The town could support the plan by putting community preservation funds toward the conservation restriction or by adopting a "right-to-farm" bylaw, Apsinwall said.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis library checks out OK after roof leaks

Posted December 28, 2007 07:51 AM


The Millis Public Library has reopened, after roofers found and repaired 20 holes in the
building's roof membrane.

Workers also cleared nearly two feet of snow from its roof. Officials said one room remains without power due to water leaking into a light fixture, but Fire Chief Warren Champagne has assured the library staff that the building is safe, officials said.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis residents still have a shot at beating flu season

Posted December 25, 2007 07:50 AM


The Millis Board of Health has a limited number of flu vaccines still available for residents age 18 and over.

The town's public health nurse is generally available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and appointments can be made by calling 508-376-7042, officials said.

-- Calvin Hennick

The season of food and forgiveness

Posted December 13, 2007 12:09 PM


Millis Public Library patrons can pay off their library fines in food this month.

The library will forgive fines for those who bring in non-perishable food items for the Millis Food Pantry. The library will also accept personal care items such as toothpaste, shampoo, and soap.

-- Calvin Hennick

A tree glows in Millis

Posted November 17, 2007 09:49 AM


The town will hold its annual holiday tree lighting next Saturday at 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Building. The event will feature carols, hot chocolate and cookies, and visits with Santa.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis eyes discount calling plan

Posted November 10, 2007 07:40 AM


Town Meeting voters this week authorized selectmen to allow T-Mobile to use a parcel of land for a cellular tower as part of a lease that would bring in $288,000 to the town over 10 years, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall.

The company would also be required to pay to the town half of any revenues generated from renting space on the tower to other cellular companies.

Voters also approved spending $29,000 on a police cruiser and other equipment and $6,500 to study damage to cemetery monuments.

-- Calvin Hennick

Smooth operators from Medway to help with Millis' 911 upgrage

Posted October 30, 2007 10:16 AM


Millis 911 calls will be diverted to Medway for about three weeks starting early next month while new 911 equipment is being installed.

Medway dispatchers will answer calls from Millis, then transfer the calls to Millis dispatchers.

-- Calvin Hennick

Preparing for the worst

Posted October 9, 2007 09:39 AM


The Millis Board of Health is seeking volunteers to join the town's Medical Reserve Corps, which would be called into action in case of a public health emergency.

The group was started earlier this year and has about 30 members, town Health Director Alyssa Rusiecki said. Rusiecki said the town needs a total of about 60 to 75 volunteers
in an emergency. Volunteers don't necessarily need prior medical training, she said.

"We'll need people to help with organizing people, help move people along, help people with their forms, etc.," Rusiecki said.

The group will meet at the Veterans Memorial Building on Oct. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

-- Calvin Hennick

Millis High School gets blue ribbon

Posted October 5, 2007 08:14 AM


Millis High School last week was named a Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education. The school was one of two in the state and 287 nation-wide to receive the award.

The award program honors public and private elementary, middle, and high schools that are either academically superior or that demonstrate dramatic gains in student achievement to
high levels.

-- Calvin Hennick

A window into Iran

Posted September 30, 2007 08:47 AM


All next month, the Millis Public Library will display photographs taken by residents Kathleen Conroy Pueschel and Wayne Pueschel on a 2002 trip to Iran.

Kathleen Conroy Pueschel served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the country during the 1960s. The pair will present a program on Iranian history and culture at the library on Nov. 7 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

-- Calvin Hennick

HBO, Showtime, and ... The Millis Public Library?

Posted August 31, 2007 01:19 PM


Starting in September, Millis Public Library patrons will have access to more than 400 on-demand videos from the library's web site.

Library director Linda Stetson said patrons will have to download a program to their computers and will then be able to “check out” the on-demand videos for seven days. The videos include educational material, cooking and travel shows, and classic movies. Stetson said the service should be ready by September 10.

-- Calvin Hennick

Vote coming on new teachers' pact in Millis

Posted August 12, 2007 10:15 AM


Millis teachers will vote early next month on a contract that would guarantee them pay raises for the next three years, schools Superintendent Peter Sanchioni said.

In the first half-year of the contract, teachers would receive a 1 percent increase, followed by another 1.75 percent increase in the second half of the year. New teachers and the most experienced teachers would receive an additional 2 percent raise.

In the second year, all teachers would receive a 3 percent raise, and teachers with 60 educational credits beyond a master's degree would receive an extra increase. In the contract's third year, all teachers would receive a 3.5 percent raise.

Teachers' union representatives and the school committee reached the tentative agreement last month.

-- Calvin Hennick

Culvert operation

Posted July 30, 2007 12:13 PM


Reconstruction of the Orchard Street stone-arch culvert over Bogastow Brook is scheduled to begin next week and will last approximately four weeks, Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said.

Traffic lanes will be narrowed while the project is underway, and drivers should take care while traveling through the area, he said. Aspinwall said the culvert, which was built in 1931, is the third major culvert in town to undergo reconstruction in the last five years.

-- Calvin Hennick

Pumping up prices

Posted July 25, 2007 03:56 PM


Selectmen this week approved hikes in the town's water and sewer rates. Under the new rates, the average water bill will go up $17.66 per year, and the average sewer rate will increase $54.61 per year, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall.

Selectmen also increased the fine for tampering with water meters from $150 to $500. Aspinwall said two people were caught tampering with meters last year, and one more is under investigation.

Selectmen left the permit fee for the town's waste transfer station untouched, but the price of town garbage bags will go up from $1.50 to $1.65.

-- Calvin Hennick

Kids flocking to Millis library

Posted July 22, 2007 12:28 PM


The number of children attending programs at the Millis Public Library has more than quadrupled in the last year, library director Linda Stetson says.

In the fiscal year that ended last month, 1,987 children particpated in 108 library programs. That’s up from 478 children and 35 programs the previous year, Stetson says.

She attributed the jump to the addition of children’s librarian Patricia Perry, who started working at the library last July. During the same period, Stetson says, the library’s overall circulation went up 18 percent.

-- Calvin Hennick

Where does the Lone Ranger take his trash? To-da-dump, to-da-dump, to-da-dump, dump, dump

Posted June 23, 2007 07:16 AM


Selectmen have voted Monday to keep the town's waste transfer station open an extra three hours on Wednesdays from June 27 to August 29.

Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said the change was made so that families who leave town for the weekend during the summer will have an extra window to dump their trash.

The station is only open on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The normal Wednesday hours are from 12:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., but the station will stay open until 6:45 p.m. during summer Wednesdays. Aspinwall said the extra hours will cost the town $1,200 to $1,300 in overtime.

-– Calvin Hennick

Millis sets up reverse 911 system

Posted June 19, 2007 09:01 AM


Residents can now register their phone numbers with the town's telephone contact database online at

A link at the bottom of the page takes users to a page where they can enter their address and preferred phone number. The town uses the system to contact residents in cases such as road closings, water use advisories, and emergencies, said Police Chief Peter McGowan.

The database already includes residents' phone numbers if they are listed in the Verizon White Pages, but McGowan said the online sign-up would be useful for residents with unlisted phone numbers, those who prefer to be called on their cell phones, and people who are new to town.

– Calvin Hennick

New tax in Millis takes effect

Posted June 14, 2007 04:07 PM


Property owners will notice a new charge on their tax bills next month. The July bills will be the first to include a fee that residents approved last year by voting to opt in on the state's Community Preservation Act.

The law provides state matching funds to towns that add a "surcharge" to their tax bills. The money can be spent on open space, affordable housing, and historical buildings and landscapes.

In Millis, a 1 percent charge will be added to tax bills, but the first $100,000 of property value is exempt from the charge. The average household will pay an extra $34.90 per year, Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall said.

– Calvin Hennick

Beer + no ID = stern warnings

Posted June 13, 2007 03:43 PM



The Millis Board of Selectmen has issued warnings to two local businesses that allegedly sold alcohol to an underage woman working with the police department on May 16.

Town officials said that an employee at Main Street Market, located at 1066 Main St., sold a six-pack of Bud Light to the woman without asking for identification. A local tavern, Budabings at 1060 Main St., allegedly served her a beer, officials said.

Both businesses received warnings stating that repeat violations could result in the suspension or revocation of their licenses, officials said. The owner and all employees at Budabings must also undergo alcohol service training.

The owners of Main Street Market had already taken the training before obtaining their license.

–- Calvin Hennick

Millis High gets new principal

Posted May 26, 2007 10:57 AM


Robert Mullaney, an assistant principal at Hingham High School, has been hired as the next principal of Millis High School starting July 1.

Millis Superintendent Peter Sanchioni said he chose Mullaney over 25 other candidates because of his work ethic and his commitment to high student achievement. Mullaney will replace Linda McCann, who is retiring.

Prior to working in Hingham, Mullaney taught at Walpole High School and Trinity Catholic High School in Newton. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Assumption College and master’s degrees from UMass Boston and Endicott College.

-– Calvin Hennick

Millis putting the finishing touches on CPA fund

Posted March 16, 2007 02:30 PM


Town officials are drafting a bylaw setting up a community preservation fund, which was authorized by Town Meeting voters last year.

The bylaw will specify the composition and terms of a Community Preservation Act Committee, which would have sole authority to ask Town Meeting voters to spend CPA funds. Towns that adopt the CPA can add a surcharge to property tax bills to pay for open space, historic preservation and affordable housing in town.

The local money is matched by state funds. The committee will include members of local historical, housing, planning and financial groups. The town will likely be able to begin spending CPA money in the fall of 2008, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall.

-- Charlie Russo

Millis officials eye land purchase

Posted March 14, 2007 11:01 AM


Officials are again considering whether to buy property at 963 Main St., which abuts town-owned land that lacks access to Main.

The combined properties could become the site of a library or police station, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall. A previous agreement to buy the land for $210,000 lapsed in June 2006, Aspinwall said. The land must be appraised again before a new deal can be negotiated.

-- Charlie Russo

Everything you always wanted to know about plants and animals

Posted March 8, 2007 04:32 PM


Ever have questions about a plant or an animal you see in town? The library will host a discussion of local flora and fauna tonight from 6:30 to 8.

Conservation Commission member George Trombour will showcase bird boxes, field guides, and other tools for observing wildlife. For details, call the library at 508-376-8282.

-- Charlie Russo

Super Bowl fundraiser slated in Millis

Posted February 4, 2007 12:00 PM


The Millis Lions Club will celebrate today's Super Bowl by hosting an all-you-can-eat fundraiser breakfast offering pancakes, ham, scrambled eggs, home fries, baked beans, grits, orange or cranberry juice, coffee, tea and hot chocolate.

The event lasts from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Thomas Hall, Main St. The breakfast costs $4, with children under 5 free.

-- Charlie Russo

Lawmakers seeking funds for new library

Posted January 25, 2007 04:02 PM


The town's state legislators have co-sponsored a bond bill that includes $2.4 million in funding for a new public library in town. The effort is part of legislation that would provide $100 million in funding for public library construction in communities across the state.

A similar bond bill did not pass in the previous legislative session. All three of Millis' state legislators -- Senator Scott Brown and Reps. Richard Ross and David Linsky -- are sponsoring the bill.

Millis is currently ninth on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners' waiting list for funding, based on the building's design, cost and benefit to the community.

-- Charlie Russo

Millis to get a new treasurer/collector

Posted January 16, 2007 12:01 PM


Selectmen have appointed a new treasurer/collector for the town.

Jeffrey Cannon, who has worked in similar positions in Plymouth, Nantucket and Barnstable, is the first person to be permanently appointed to the job since March 2005, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall.

Staff members and outside consultants had filled the position on a temporary basis since then.

Aspinwall hopes that Cannon's appointment means the department will be able to add more services, such as an online bill payment system, and improve existing services. Cannon was chosen from three finalists for the position.

-- Charlie Russo

Millis man faces sex charges

Posted January 5, 2007 11:21 AM


A Millis man has been accused of soliciting sex from a minor and transmitting obscene material to a minor.

Sumner N. Fishman, 62, was arrested in Peabody last week for allegedly chatting online with a Wenham police officer who Fishman believed was a 15-year-old female.

At a dangerousness hearing Jan. 2, Judge Robert Brennan ordered Fishman held on $25,000 cash bail. If released, Fishman will be restricted to home confinement with a global positioning system (GPS).

Fishman is prohibited from contact with unrelated minors and police seized a computer at his home. His arrest comes after a six-month investigation by Wenham police. Fishman was being held this week at the Essex County House of Correction in Middleton.

-- Charlie Russo

Christmas in Iraq

Posted December 26, 2006 12:35 PM


It was a Christmas far from home.

Rob Rhyne, of Millis, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who works in the Air Component Coordination Element in Baghdad, played the trumpet during the Christmas Eve celebration at the U.S. Embassy in the International Zone in that city.

Rhyne, 41, is stationed with the 21st Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif, Stars and Stripes reported.

-- Erica Tochin

Day-care worker from Millis sentenced for child porn

Posted December 21, 2006 08:26 AM


A federal judge sentenced a day-care worker and former teacher yesterday to five years and 10 months in prison for buying child pornography over the Internet and storing it at his Millis home.

Jon Blaisdell, 41, was arrested in February after US postal inspectors and Millis police raided his home and seized child pornography and stories that Blaisdell allegedly wrote fantasizing about raping little girls.

He previously worked as a prekindergarten teacher at the Shattuck Child Care Center in Jamaica Plain and as a student teacher at schools in Somerset, Norton, Hopkinton, and Sharon.

-- Globe City & Region staff

Unveiling the new face of a town building

Posted December 11, 2006 06:45 PM


The Veterans Memorial Building in Natick will show its new face any day now.

The scaffolding surrounding the west face of the building will be removed and reveal the results of the $188,000 facelift that the building has received over the past several months.

The building at 900 Main St. houses the town offices and was built in 1913, with two subsequent additions, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall.

The repair project repointed the bricks, resealed the surface and powerwashed the exterior of the building's west face – all of which will help maintain the structure and extend its lifespan.

The work was paid for by a budget appropriation approved by Town Meeting voters. "It was tough working conditions for the staff, listening to the grinding and the noisy compressors and the generators," Aspinwall said.

What's next? More similar work must be performed on the east, north and south sides of the building, Aspinwall said, with future Town Meeting funding requests planned.

-- Charlie Russo

Millis adopts Community Preservation Act

Posted November 9, 2006 06:03 PM


Open space protection, historic preservation, and affordable housing -- those are some of the things that could happen, now that the town of Millis has adopted the Community Preservation Act.

Voters in Tuesday's election adopted the state law that sets up a community preservation fund, which will be filled by adding a surcharge to local property tax bills.

The surcharge would add about $34.50 per year to the bill for a home assessed at $400,000, according to town officials. Some elderly and lower-income residents would be exempt.

The measure was approved 1,839-1,407, with 70 percent of registered voters casting ballots, said Patricia Sjogren, assistant town clerk. Town Meeting had voted in May to adopt the CPA.

-- Charlie Russo

Millis officials hunting for leaks, literally

Posted October 26, 2006 03:02 PM


Where does all the water go? That's a mystery that officials in Millis are hoping to answer.

The town will soon complete a water audit designed to reduce unaccounted-for water, which is essentially the difference between the amount of water pumped by town wells and the amount the town charges residents for using.

Much of the program is devoted to identifying and repairing leaks and replacing outdated water meters, which can be inaccurate. The state requires towns to be able to account for at least 90 percent of the water they pump.

Millis, however, has been unable to account for 10, 15, and 25 percent, respectively, of the water it has pumped over the past three years, said Town Administrator Charles Aspinwall.

As a result of the water audit, he expects the amount of unaccounted water for this year to fall back to 15 percent or lower. The audit is being paid for with a $31,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Protection and $11,000 in town funds, Aspinwall said.

-- Charlie Russo

Still time for golf in Millis

Posted October 24, 2006 05:55 PM


There's still time for a few more rounds.

A proposal to replace nine holes of the Glen Ellen Country Club golf course with a development of more than 320 homes for residents age 55-and-older remains in the planning stage, with developers and town officials still determining the boundaries of wetlands on the property.

A preliminary plan calls for 143 single-family homes and 183 condominiums, grouped mainly into buildings of four. The golf club would continue to operate as a smaller, private club under the plan.

Property owner Corcoran Jennison told a standing-room-only crowd at a Planning Board meeting in July that it had hoped to submit formal plans this fall, but those will have to wait until the wetland boundaries have been defined.

-- Charlie Russo

Guilty plea in child pornography case

Posted September 20, 2006 05:56 PM


A Millis man who taught kindergarten and elementary school and held other jobs working with children has pleaded guilty to three child pornography charges.

Jon Blaisdell, 40, pleaded guilty today to charges of the receipt of child pornography, attempted receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography.

Police said a search of Blaisdell’s Dyer Street home in February uncovered several hundred pictures, DVDs, and handwritten stories detailing the rape and abuse of underage girls by adult men.

The search was prompted by an online child pornography sting operation conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Blaisdell has been held in jail since his arrest on Feb. 14 and will remain there until his sentencing, McCormick said.

Police have said they have found no evidence that Blaisdell has harmed any children.

Millis open space

Posted July 14, 2006 11:49 AM


A property in Millis will remain green for years to come, thanks to the Trustees of Reservations, who just completed a major expansion, adding six reservations to areas outside Boston.

The Trustees added more than 1,500 acres of land that will remain protected from developers, allowing residents to enjoy the space.

"We want to make sure we protect the areas we want to protect before they disappear," Trustees president Andrew Kendall says in a Globe story today.

-- Erica Tochin

Speaking out

Posted July 13, 2006 10:34 AM


Several Globe West residents sounded off today in Letters to the Editors.

Steven Gallucci of Millis commented on how the media has jumped all over the fatal accident in the I-90 connector tunnel. "Editors' first thoughts are not about safety, prevention, and compassion, but about blame and recrimination," he wrote.

Newton's Youngsun Ji, the South Korean consul general, questioned the Globe's reference in a recent map to the Sea of Japan. Until the 19th century, he wrote, it was known as the East Sea, the Oriental Sea, and the Sea of Korea.

"Therefore, the Korean government recommends that both East Sea and Sea of Japan be used simultaneously whenever your newspaper refers to the sea area until Korea and Japan try to resolve the geographical name in question," he wrote.

-- Erica Tochin

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