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West suburban schools fare well on Science MCAS

Posted September 24, 2008 09:29 AM

Four high schools in Boston's western suburbs had a 100 percent pass rate for 10th graders who took the MCAS science exam, according to statistics released today by the state Department of Education.

Passing one of the four MCAS science tests -- biology, physics, chemistry, or engineering -- is now a requirement for graduation in Massachusetts. The Globe reported last week that the percentage of sophomores who passed the MCAS exam on the first try this year declined for the first time because thousands of students failed the science section.

In general, however, schools in the Globe West area appeared to fare well in science. At Dover-Sherborn, Hopkinton, Maynard, and Medfield high schools, 100 percent of the 10th graders who took the test achieved passing scores of "advanced," "proficient," or "needs improvement."

Holliston, Millis, Needham, Newton South, Wayland, Westborough and Weston high schools had 99 percent of their students who took the tests achieve one of the three passing scores. Newton North, Medway, Nashoba Regional, Algonquin Regional, and Shrewsbury high schools each had 98 percent of their 10th graders achieve passing scores.

The schools in the Globe West area with the highest failure rates were the Joseph P. Keefe Technical High School in Framingham, with 80 percent of students who took the test achieving passing scores, and Waltham High School, with 84 percent.

The statewide pass rate for 10th graders was 88 percent.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Details, details ...

Posted September 11, 2008 09:15 AM



Governor Deval Patrick has finally cracked the monopoly that police officers on paid road and construction details. Or has he?

Today's Globe West examines the issue of details and explores how it's not just local police officers, but also the cities and towns that they work for, who have powerful incentives to say "Thanks, but no thanks" to Patrick's bid to introduce flagmen on some road construction projects.

We also take a look at the amounts that some officers are getting paid for details, which they regard as legitimate pay for legitimate work but which critics decry as wasteful. As an added feature, we've also included a link to the complete list of detail pay for the Newton Police Department for the 2008 fiscal year.

Event for veterans will mix hot dogs, help

Posted May 3, 2008 08:30 AM

In a show of appreciation for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Veterans Administration Heathcare System is sponsoring a family event in Waltham that will mix food, family fun, and information about the benefits, services, and educational and job opportunities available to veterans.

Military personnel who have served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and their families are invited to the event, which will be held on the grounds of the National Archives and Record Administration offices at 380 Trapelo Road on May 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Veterans and their families will enjoy a cookout, pony rides and an animal show, music, and free raffles with the grand prize of $1,000 or a 42-inch flat screen TV. Various local, state and federal agencies will also be there to provide information.

The event is not open to the general public. Anyone seeking more information is urged tocontact Diane LeBlanc at the National Archives at 781-663-0133 or 781-526-1137.

-- Stephanie V. Siek

Transcript of the 911 call in cheerleading accident

Posted April 29, 2008 08:12 AM

The following is a transcript of a 911 call from the DCU Center in Worcester where cheerleader and Newton North High School graduate Lauren Chang was injured during a routine on April 13. She was treated at the scene by a emergency medical technician who was working the event, but died the next day of complications from collapsed lungs. Officials have said it took approximately five minutes for an ambulance to arrive on the scene, and at least one lawmaker is now pressing for standby ambulances to be present at all cheerleading competitions.

You can also listen to the call.

Note: When the participants are talking about a "traych," they are referring to an emergency tracheotomy, a medical procedure where a tube is placed directly into the windpipe through the lower neck to allow air into the lungs. The reference to "one of the privates" refers to a local private ambulance company.

DISPATCHER: 911 this line's recorded. What's your emergency?
CALLER NO.1: I'm at the DCU Center in Worcester. There's a girl passed out on the stage. She's having an allergic reaction.
D: Where is she ma'am?
C1: She just passed out after (inaudible). She's, like, in the DCU Center.
D: All right whereabouts inside, inside ...
C1: In, in one of the exhibition halls.
D: OK. Do you know which one?
C1: What exhibition hall is this? (Yells to someone at the scene)
UNKNOWN VOICE: (inaudible)
C1: What exhibition hall is this?
UNK: (garbled)
C1: Yeah, but which hall?
UNK: (garbled)
C1: Hall A.
UNK: Yep.
D: Hall A?
C1: Yep.
D: OK. Do you know how old she is?
C1: Um, no. But I'm going to give this phone to somebody who can ...
D: All right. Can I transfer you over to the ambulance ma'am?
C1: Yep.
D: Hold on please.
C1: (To Caller No. 2) It's 911 do you want to talk to them?
CALLER 2: Hello?
D: All right, hold on one second OK?
C2: Sure.
PARAMEDIC: Paramedics, what's the address of your emergency?
C2: I'm in Worcester. Um, and we need an ambulance immediately. We have a cheerleader ...
P: What's the address of your emergency?
C2: Do you know the address is here? (talking to someone else at the scene) It's, it's the DCU Center. It's this huge convention center in Worcester. I actually don't know the physical address.
P: OK. Slow down sir. I can't understand you. You're at the DCU Center?
C2: I'm sorry.
P: Where in the DCU Center are you?
C2: We're in the main arena.
P: The main arena.
C2: In the DCU Center.
P: What section are you in?
C2: Um, right now I'm standing next to E7.
P: Section E7.
C2: Yeah there's a big power station at E7.
D: All right, what's going on?
C2: We had a cheerleader -- it's a cheerleading competition.
P: Yep.
C2: And she got ki -- And it looks like she got kicked or um hit in the throat. Her face is all swollen. They're trying to get her air.
FEMALE VOICE IN BACKGROUND: They're trying to traych her.
C2: Um, they're trying to traych her.
P: They're trying to traych her right now?
C2: Yeah, that's what it looks like, yeah.
P: So she's unconscious and not breathing right now?
C2: She ... is she conscious? She is conscious. And they have her tubed.
P: O-kaaay. We're gonna send the amb ... is there an ambulance on scene there, sir?
C2: There, there could be I don't know. Let me ask one of the people who works here. Excuse me, sir (talking to someone at the scene) is there an ambulance here or no?
C2: On the way. They say that there's one on the way but there isn't one here right now.
P: All right.
P: You can hang up, sir.
D: Sir, is this in the this in, in one of the exhibition...?
P: Paramedic four with...
C2: Yeah it's in the exhibition hall.
D: OK. And it's, um A, right?
C2: Um, I'm actually not sure of the number. I'm standing next to a post that says E7.
D: OK. All right. Stay on the line with the EMS, OK?
P: ...cheerleader unresponsive. Reportedly tubed at this time. By who I don't know. Downtown, you still on?
C2: Yes sir.
P: Sir, you can hang up.
C2: OK, thank you.
D: It's Exhibition Hall A.
P: Exhibition Hall A?
D: Yes.
P: All right, I got an ambulance going. There should a detail working over there from one of the privates but I'm sending a truck anyway.
D: Yes.
P: All right, thanks. Bye.
D: B-bye.

Details of fatal injury lead some to question medical precautions

Posted April 29, 2008 07:36 AM

When Lauren Chang crumpled to the floor at the Minuteman Cheerleading Championships, the medic assigned to the competition was away from the action, restocking her supplies after treating three earlier injuries, according to the private ambulance company she worked for.

As she gathered more icepacks nearby, coaches and spectators rushed the mat, where Chang's team had just finished performing a 2 1/2-minute routine.

Amid the chaos of questioning voices and blaring music at Worcester's DCU Center, two registered nurses, both of them mothers attending the event, and several others checked Chang's pulse, listened to her heartbeat, and forced air into her lungs using a breathing bag that one of the rescuers found in a bag of medical supplies nearby. The panicked cheerleader fought her rescuers as she struggled to breath and at one point vomited blood, the nurses said.

A spokesman for American Medical Response, the private ambulance company contracted by the DCU Center, said its medic responded quickly to help treat Chang. But 20-year-old Lauren Chang died a day later. An autopsy showed her lungs had collapsed.

There would be still one more cheerleading injury that evening, during a competition that spectators later would say was filled with a freakish spate of accidents.

The death of Chang, a Newton North High School graduate, has parents and others scouring their memories of April 13, questioning the safety of the event and whether the medic on hand had been overtaxed.

By the time Chang went down at 7:20 p.m., the EMT already had already dealt with an asthma attack or fainting on stage, and a neck or back injury suffered in a fall during a stunt performed in the warm-up area, according to several witnesses.

Read more about the medical response to Lauren Chang's tragic injury in the online edition of today's City & Region section.

-- Erin Ailworth

Would you buy a used car in cyberspace? Some towns saying no...

Posted April 27, 2008 09:59 AM


Matt Grenier wants to expand his business worldwide. And, like most car dealers, he wants to make a good living.

But unlike most, he plans to do so without attracting road-clogging traffic to his hometown of Shrewsbury, polluting the environment, or erecting unsightly road signs. Grenier, 23, wants to be an online used-car salesman.

The problem is the Internet. The technology that would allow Grenier's business to operate almost unnoticed in Shrewsbury is the very reason why its Board of Selectmen recently denied his application for an auto dealer's license.

"I just don't see the benefit to the town, both to the public and the potential administrative costs," said Selectman John Lebeaux during the board's April 14 hearing on Grenier's license application.

Grenier said he intends to fight the board's decision.

Read more about the conflict over internet-based used car businesses in the online edition of today's Globe West.

In case you missed it: Storm drain technology

Posted April 17, 2008 08:43 AM


The cover of last Sunday's Globe West featured a story about how new technologies are helping cities, towns, and private developers capture and clean storm runoff before it can carry pollution into the region's rivers and lakes.

Laced with harmful bacteria, chemicals, and trash, storm water is the primary frustration for environmentalists trying to restore the region's waterways and turn them into healthy places to swim, boat, and fish.

The story included a graphic explaining one system -- which turns an ordinary sidewalk tree planter into a storm water capturing and cleaning device -- being marketed by Virginia-based Filterra Bioretention Systems.

Going the extra mile for Globe West's readers, David Butler of the Graphics Department took that drawing and turned it into this interesting animation. Check it out.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Broken promises have senior housing residents seeing red

Posted March 30, 2008 07:58 AM

Ed Cobb (front) and other members of the residents association board at the Esplanade Condos in Hudson, (from left) Harriette McCarty, Mary Haley, Lou Tagliani, Bob Cyr and Jackie Kapopoulous, want the developers to stand by their promise not to sell to buyers under age 55.


The Esplanade was supposed to be Ed Cobb's last home. He has a condo with a sun-splashed open floor plan and emergency call buttons in the kitchen and bathroom, just in case he takes a fall.

Cobb, a 73-year-old math teacher who raised three daughters, chose the over-55 complex specifically to avoid generational deja vu: teenagers outside on skateboards, late-night parties, hallway commotion, and the other sort of high-spirited chaos that comes with younger families.

But harsh economic realities have prompted the Esplanade's developers to break a fundamental promise made to Cobb and dozens of his neighbors - that they would be free to grow old in a community of their peers. MP Development LLC is petitioning Hudson officials to reverse the residential age restrictions so they can sell Esplanade units to anyone, citing a state law that forbids towns from enforcing zoning burdens that make a development "uneconomical," Globe West Bureau Chief Erica Noonan reports on the front page of today's Globe.

Cobb and dozens of other residents who bought up 90 of the 140 Hudson units, mostly at boom-market prices between $250,000 and $290,000, say they feel betrayed in what they describe as a housing bait-and-switch.

"It's like buying a car, and then two years later they come and remove the engine," said Cobb. "That's how major it is."

With more than 20,000 new over-55 units built statewide since 2000, builders of the Esplanade, as well as developers in Wellesley, Holden, Hanover, Hingham, and Sharon, are saying that age restrictions, formerly a hot marketing tool, are now hampering sales.

The red-hot trend toward over-55 buildings worried the Citizens' Housing and Planning Association, an affordable housing group, as far back as 2005, when an agency survey found how many senior-oriented units were online, and saw that new complexes were being permitted seemingly every week, said Aaron Gornstein, executive director of the agency.

"We would not be surprised to see more developers coming forward asking for this," he said.

Raising kids, raising taxes -- its all in a day's work for Override Moms

Posted March 2, 2008 06:58 AM


You could call them the Override Moms - politically powerful suburban women who lobby for property tax increases to pay for teachers, new schools, and better classroom gear for their school-aged children. Think soccer moms, with an activist bent.

In one community after another, these mothers have banded together in common cause, Globe West Bureau Chief Erica Noonan reports in today's City & Region section. They are nimble and they are quick, often performing with the agility and strategy of an expert strike force.

With at least 40 Eastern Massachusetts cities and towns planning to ask voters for more than $50 million over the next few months, this is the make-or-break season for thousands of these young mothers dedicated to persuading neighbors to vote themselves a tax hike.

Within 48 hours after Natick selectmen voted last month to seek a $3.9 million override, the town's first such attempt in six years, the group Vote Yes! for Natick had a position statement e-mail waiting in thousands of inboxes around town.

"This matters so much to the community," said campaign cochairwoman Mari Barrera, while standing out in the freezing rain Tuesday evening with a Vote Yes! placard. She cited threatened teacher cuts, library hour reductions, and cutbacks in the Police Department, Department of Public Works, and the town-run organic farm, if the vote does not pass.

Read more about Override Moms in the online edition of Globe West.

Who's got who - Globe West wants to know

Posted December 10, 2007 02:10 PM


If you are a state representative, a local elected official or an appointed official, or even Town Meeting member and you've signed on as a volunteer or given an endorsement to one of the Democratic or Republican candidates for president, Globe West wants to hear from you.

Please contact us via e-mail for a story that's currently in development.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Power players

Posted November 29, 2007 08:32 AM

Paul Gaynor, the CEO of UPC Wind in Newton


Roaring with the constant din of traffic and enveloped in fossil-fuel exhaust, the Massachusetts Turnpike corridor seems an unlikely path to a future of clean, renewable energy.

Yet Boston's western suburbs have quietly become home to companies that are national and even world leaders in developing clean, renewable power sources, staff writer Ralph Ranalli reports in today's Globe West.

Although they specialize in different areas - wind energy, solar power, fuel cells, batteries - top executives at four of the companies say they share an appreciation of the deep well of brainpower and technical talent in the region and a commitment to a sustainable energy future.

"The biggest advantage is access to the talent pool here," UPC Wind's chief executive officer, Paul Gaynor, said last week. "There are a lot of folks with great energy backgrounds, and the current state administration is being very proactive in terms of helping us out."

Read more about four companies - A123 Systems in Watertown, Evergreen Solar Inc. in Marlborough, Protonex Corp. in Southborough, and the Newton-based UPC Wind - at the forefront in the search for alternative sources of energy.

More from today's Globe West ...

Posted November 29, 2007 07:44 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have cast their nets around the region and hauled in a bounty of interesting stories for today's edition, including:

Correspondent Alexandra Perloe's report about how Ashland parents are being asked to complete a survey about drug and alcohol use by adolescents, in an effort to close the sometimes significant gap between the perceptions of adults and the realities of teenagers;

Staff writer Ralph Ranalli's story about how a rule change on handicapped ramps has helped the once-reliable Needham Line on the Commuter Rail sink into a morass of tardy trains and frustrated riders;

Correspondent Nadia Salomon's story about how state officials are making it easier for non-custodial parents to get information about their children's school records, and;

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's report about how Waltham School Committee members say collective bargaining has delayed completion of the annual performance review for the district's superintendent, Susan Parrella, who is now in the final year of a contract that may not be renewed.

For a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories, visit the section online.

Making the ultimate sacrifice

Posted November 11, 2007 12:42 PM

Lt. Joshua Booth with his wife and young daughter while they were stationed in Hawaii, shortly before he was deployed to Iraq.
(Photo courtesy of the Booth family)


Before he was deployed to Iraq, Marine Lieutenant Joshua L. Booth made seven videos of himself reading bedtime stories, so that his daughter, Grace, could hear her father's voice before going to bed.

Booth was killed by a sniper on Oct. 17 of last year in Haditha. A graduate of St. John's High School in Shrewsbury who grew up in Sturbridge, he was 23.

The Booth family played the videos for Grace again recently, but her reaction wasn't what they expected. She had nightmares for days afterward.

Booth is one of 10 members of the military from communities west of Boston who have died since the United States responded to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Two others, Seth R. Michaud, a Hudson native, and Kyle A. Little of West Boylston, also left behind young children who will grow up without a father.

Read more about the sacrifices made by military families in the Globe West region as Veteran's Day approaches.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted November 8, 2007 01:22 PM


Globe West's reporters have blanketed the region this week, uncovering a wide variety of interesting stories, including:

Bureau Chief Erica Noonan's story about how relatives of late neighborhood icon Anthony "Fat" Pelligrini are vowing that Nonantum's traditional Christmas events will go on, despite an intra-family fight over the foundation that sponsors them;

Correspondent Nadia Solomon's report about how, after five years of negotiations, police officers in the neighboring towns of Wellesley and Dover will be able to make arrests and exercise authority in both communities;

Another story by Noonan about how a lone protester is raising questions about a controversial traveling exhibition of posed cadavers that has set up shop in a former CompUSA store in Framingham, saying that the exhibit "is an affront to the dead and to the living," and;

Correspondent Alexandra Perloe's story about a group of construction workers from Wayland who have been building houses in Waveland, Miss, where 95 percent of the homes were destroyed two years ago by Hurricane Katrina.

Boston Scientific announces major cuts, effect on region unclear

Posted October 18, 2007 11:11 AM


Natick-based Boston Scientific Corp., facing flagging sales for its two key product lines, has announced that will eliminate 2,300 jobs, or 8 percent of its worldwide workforce, restructure parts of its business, and go forward with plans to shed some less-critical assets.

The Natick maker of medical devices said it expects the cuts, set to begin this month and be substantially completed by 2008, will help it reduce annual expenses by 12 to 13 percent, boost profits, and make it easier to cope with the firm's crushing $8 billion in debt, staff writer Todd Wallack reported in the Globe's Business section.

Boston Scientific, the state's third-largest life sciences company, behind Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. and Biogen Idec Inc., did not say where the job cuts will be made. But only 2,400 of its 28,000 workers are in Massachusetts, suggesting that a fraction of the layoffs will be in the Bay State. Boston Scientific employs nearly 1,000 at its corporate headquarters in Natick and about 1,000 at its endosurgery unit in Marlborough, which makes products for minimally invasive surgery.

Another 500 employees work at the Quincy distribution center, but some analysts think Minnesota, where the company's stent business is based, could bear the brunt of the layoffs.

"I don't think it will have a significant impact at all on total employment in the medical device industry in Massachusetts," said Thomas J. Sommer, president of the Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council.

Read more about the looming cuts at Boston Scientific on

Should non-profits be non-contributors?

Posted October 18, 2007 08:39 AM

Newton's Brae Burn Country Club reported on 2006 tax forms it had assets of $21 million and income of $9 million.
(Globe file photo)


Call it municipal fantasy math. There's hardly an official of almost any suburb who has not cast a longing gaze at the campus of a tony private school or the expansive headquarters of a local social-service agency and wished that nonprofit organizations had to pay local taxes on the properties they own.

In Newton, it's a fantasy worth millions. In February, the city's Blue Ribbon Commission, a citizen advisory group, urged officials to confront its five local colleges with a combined assessed property value of $450 million, Globe West bureau chief Erica Noonan reports in today's edition. If Boston College, Lasell College, Mount Ida College, Andover Newton Theological School, and Hebrew College paid property taxes, the city would collect nearly $6 million annually, the commission found.

Framingham, meanwhile, has become the first community to take official action on the dream, formally requesting payments from more than a dozen tax-exempt social service agencies with local holdings. The town's actions are being closely watched in the nonprofit world, concerned that other host towns will attempt to strong-arm nonprofit educational, religious, and charitable institutions - none of which pay local property taxes - into donating payments in lieu of taxes, also known as PILOT arrangements.

Residents and officials alike have focused on affluent local institutions that, by virtue of their tax-exempt status, own properties but pay no real estate taxes. Names of well-heeled suburban educational institutions like Wellesley College and Boston College, both of which reported more than $1.5 billion in assets to the IRS in 2005, surface in discussion groups and letters to the editor when their host communities hit budget crises.

But nonprofits - poor and rich alike - cry foul, saying the payments would threaten their core missions to educate the young, help the needy, or minister to the faithful.

Read more about the tensions between non-profits and their municipal hosts in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted October 18, 2007 08:30 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have stepped up to the plate today with a full lineup of interesting stories from around the region, including:

Staff writer Ralph Ranalli's report on how, with less than a year to go until the MCAS science exams become a mandatory graduation requirement, students in a dozen schools in the region had failure rates of 30 percent or higher on either the biology, chemistry, or physics exams;

Correspondent Kristen Green's story about how Lincoln, a longtime dry town, is in line to see its first drinking establishment as early as next summer;

Correspondent Lisa Keen's story about the debate raging in Wellesley about whether the town can and should use an $825,000 bequest, and raise additional funds, for a freestanding senior center for its aging baby-boomer population, or turn use the money upgrade the modest facilities for seniors currently available at the Wellesley Community Center, and;

Correspondent Tanya Perez-Brennan's report about how the debate over whether Framingham has too many shelters and social service agencies has moved to the internet via a popular local web site.

For a complete listing of all the stories in today's edition of Globe West, visit the section online.

Also in today's Globe West

Posted October 14, 2007 09:13 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have journeyed across the region to bring you an exciting itinerary of stories and reports in today's edition, including:

Bureau Chief Erica Noonan's story about how fast-growing Orthodox Jewish community that has battled the city for nearly five years scored a major victory last week, defeating the last municipal obstacle to building a 12,000-square-foot synagogue in a residential neighborhood in Newton Highlands;

Correspondent John Dyer's report on how, in a counterintuitive measure practiced throughout Massachusetts, conservation workers are hacking and slashing undeveloped areas to add open fields that will create favorable habitats for deer, songbirds, and other animals;

Correspondent Calvin Hennick's story about how Holliston officials, stunned last month when the lowest bid for a police station came in about $800,000 over the town's budget, plan to slash about $1 million off the project and hope to begin construction in the spring, and;

Correspondent Christina Pazzanese's report about about several large properties in Watertown -- including a nearly 12-acre swath of land at Greenough Boulevard and Arsenal Street that was once used to burn depleted uranium from a Watertown Arsenal nuclear reactor -- that are undergoing close scrutiny to determine how badly contaminated they are and who is responsible for cleaning them up.

For a complete list of stories in today's edition of Globe West, visit the section online.


Posted October 11, 2007 10:37 AM

Once a mechanic, Brian Smith of Framingham now works as an auto appraiser.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


After surgeons installed two mechanical valves to repair his congenital heart defect, Brian Smith knew he had seen the end of his grease-monkey days. Heavy lifting was out of the question, and he had to avoid sharp objects because his new blood-thinning medication made cuts potentially disastrous.

Unable to work at his former job as a mechanic at a Framingham car dealership, Smith went on Social Security for a few years. By 2002, he had recovered and, no longer qualifying for public assistance, was told to get a job, Globe West correspondent John Dyer reports today.

"They were telling me I could go back to work, but they all agreed I couldn't do what I used to do," said the 49-year-old Bellingham resident. "They were thinking about me selling movie tickets. But I have two kids. I wasn't going to go back to a job for minimum wage."

After a four-year job search, his first in decades, Smith received training in a state program and landed a position as an automobile appraiser for a Mendon company. Now he's a proud earner.

Smith's happy ending is the exception, not the rule. Across the state, disabled people and their advocates say that while progress is being made in putting the disabled onto payrolls, most are still unemployed.

The gap between disabled people and the help they need leaves a hole in the region's economy, in the form of an untapped workforce, they say. Although the Massachusetts unemployment rate is hovering between 4 and 5 percent overall, around 70 percent of the state's approximately 550,000 disabled residents older than 18 don't work, said Charles Carr, commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, the agency that helped retrain Smith.

Read more about how the disabled are being retrained to work in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted October 11, 2007 10:30 AM


Globe West's reporters have roamed the region and have reported back with a full menu of interesting stories this week, including:

Correspondent Alex Oster's report on how the recent dry spell could affect the fall leaf-peeping season and the annual tourism dollars it brings in;

Bureau chief Erica Noonan's stony on how regional planners and politicians think they can finally get Route 9 -- one of the state's busiest and and most congested regional economic corridors -- onto the state's transportation priority list;

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's report on how next month's city government ballot in Waltham is a mix of familiar faces from past races and first-time candidates hoping that voters are ready to see a transfusion of new blood, and;

Correspondent Alexandra Perloe's story about how administrators at Franklin High School have pooled together freshmen into smaller -- and hopefully tight-knit -- teams to help keep students from dropping out.

You can see a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories by visiting the section online.

Local Armenian- Americans praise genocide vote by Congress

Posted October 11, 2007 10:19 AM


A key congressional committee approved a resolution yesterday that brands the World War I-era Ottoman Empire massacres of Armenians as genocide, despite warnings from President Bush that the measure would anger Turkey, a crucial US ally assisting the effort in Iraq.

The move was welcomed as good new by local Armenian-Americans, who have spearhead the move to have the resolution passed and who have been pressuring groups like the Anti-Defamation League to recognize the genocide. There are an estimated 50,000 Armenian-Americans in Massachusetts, Globe staff writer Farah Stockman reports today.

"It's absurd to think that we can have a foreign policy that does not acknowledge the past," said Sharistan Melkonian, a Waltham resident who chairs the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts. She said US foreign policy has up until this point been "held hostage to lies."

In a rare show of urgency, Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates each declared that the resolution the House Committee on Foreign Affairs approved could lead Turkey's leaders to curb vital US military supply routes through their country, leaving American troops without enough equipment to conduct operations in neighboring Iraq.

"We all deeply regret the tragic suffering of the Armenian people," Bush told reporters on the White House lawn hours before the vote. "This resolution is not the right response to these mass killings."

Read more about the showdown over the genocide vote in the online edition of today's Globe.

From tracks to Treks

Posted October 8, 2007 10:47 AM


The state Division of Conservation and Recreation and the MBTA are negotiating terms of a 99-year lease by the parks agency of an old rail corridor the T controls between Waltham and the Central Massachusetts town of Berlin.

Nonprofit local land groups, including Wachusett Greenways and the East Quabbin Land Trust, have begun working on upgrading the rail line for cyclists and strollers west of Berlin to connect to the existing Norwottuck Trail from Belchertown to Northampton, Globe staff writer Peter Howe reports in today's City & Region section.

Read more of Howe's story about a plan top state parks planners have for a latticework of 100 miles of bike trails statewide.

Taking its toll

Posted October 7, 2007 12:31 PM

(Globe staff photo by David L. Ryan)


A typical commute from Framingham to Boston costs as much as $900 annually in tolls. In January, that amount will increase to $1,150, thanks to toll increases approved Thursday by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority board.

Under the new toll structure, typical commuters living outside of Route 128 would pay $1.25 each time they use the Weston (Exit 15) and Allston-Brighton (Exit 18) toll booths. Between the gas tax and the tolls, drivers from the western suburbs would pay more than nine times as much for their commutes than those from Boston's northwest suburbs and on the South Shore, which do not have tolls on their major highways into the city.

The board rejected a second proposed increase that would have raised the Allston-Brighton and Weston tolls to $1.75, adding another $500 to a yearly commute from Framingham.

Even though the increase as voted is smaller than it could have been, it has many commuters, local officials, and politicians questioning whether the cost of the increasingly expensive roadway is still worthwhile, staff writer Ralph Ranalli reports in today's Globe West.

The issue of the toll increases is not necessarily dead, however. The hikes still face a public hearing process and a final board vote, and board member Mary Connaughton - who represents the interests of the western suburbs - has said she will urge her colleagues to reconsider Thursday's vote, instead increasing tolls only in the Boston Harbor tunnels.

Read more about the issue of toll equity in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also, check out Globe transportation reporter Noah Bierman's report in today's City & Region section on how technology could someday drastically change who pays highway tolls in Massachusetts and how they are collected.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted October 7, 2007 11:25 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have spread out across the region to bring you a buffet of interesting stories today, including:

Correspondent Lisa Keen's report about how the use of modular classrooms to expand capacity at old school buildings, usually a simple solution to a common problem, has turned into a tricky, expensive, and contentious dilemma for Wellesley High School;

Correspondent Alexandra Perloe's story about how, frustrated with the remedy proposed by Medway water and sewer commissioners for the brown water coursing through pipes in the northeast section of town, officials and residents made their feelings clear during a selectmen's meeting last week, and;

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's report about how a luxury housing development going up near a corner of Weston's Highland Street and Boston Post Road boasts top-of-the-line technology for those less-savory elements of modern life, waste-water and storm-water treatment.

Blinded by the light

Posted October 4, 2007 11:03 AM

(Sky & Telescope Magazine Satellite Photo)


Astronomy professor Wendy Bauer pulls on a thick rope, opening to the night sky the huge, overhead dome of Wellesley College's Whitin Observatory. She aims the antique brass-and-mahogany telescope, twice as tall as she is, toward the opening. Then she climbs a rickety wooden ladder to look for Jupiter.

Other than her blue T-shirt, she could be taken for an astronomer in 1900, the year the observatory was built. But there's another difference between then and now - the view. The stars at night are not so bright, staff writer Lisa Kocian reports in today's Globe West.

As development has come to the western suburbs, so has light pollution. And the change has occurred so quickly, local astronomers say, that there hardly is anywhere in Greater Boston that has escaped its drastic effect in recent years.

When Bauer arrived at Wellesley in 1979, she could see the Milky Way with her naked eye. No longer.

Wellesley's situation exemplifies what has become an international debate over what to do about the fading firmament. The International Dark-Sky Association, headquartered in Tucson, was incorporated in 1988 to spread the word about light pollution. Bauer, who describes herself as a not-very-active member, said lobbying against wasted light isn't antidevelopment because there are plenty of light fixtures available now that don't illuminate the sky. The trick, she said, is to increase public awareness.

Read more about the debate over light pollution in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted October 4, 2007 10:20 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents cover the region from Newton Corner to the Worcester line, and have come up with a wide variety of interesting stories for today's section, including:

Correspondent Tanya Pérez-Brennan's report about how fears of arrest and immigration enforcement are scaring away customers and hurting Brazilian businesses in once-vibrant downtown Framingham, where several empty storefronts now abound;

Arts correspondent Denise Taylor's story about how an unusual theater piece created in Wayland -- a hip-hop musical version of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" -- has made it all the way to a high school in Johannesburg, South Africa;

Staff writer Meg Woolhouse's story about a new pie bakery in Newton Centre, and;

Correspondent Matt Gunderson's piece about how momentum is building to refurbish a 3.2-mile stretch of former railroad bed in Stow that would help complete a "missing link" along the Assabet River Rail Trail, a 12.5-mile scenic path from Marlborough to Acton.

State to begin school project studies early

Posted October 4, 2007 09:51 AM


The state will begin feasibility studies for local school projects about a month earlier than anticipated, potentially allowing some projects to be ready for Town Meeting votes next spring, staff writer James Vaznis of the reports in the Globe's City & Region Section today.

On Nov. 2, the state School Building Authority will decide which school districts' proposed projects to study first. Other districts will be selected on a rolling basis after that.

Being selected for a feasibility study doesn't automatically guarantee construction funding, but it is a prerequisite. More than a dozen school districts west of Boston are among 161 districts statewide competing for about $500 million in construction funds this year, the first time in four years the state is doling out school construction money.

In choosing which feasibility studies to pursue first, the state has been dispatching inspection teams to analyze building conditions and enrollment trends, visiting 90 districts so far. Those districts include Berlin-Boylston, Franklin, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Maynard, Nashoba, Natick, Needham, Norfolk, Shrewsbury, Wayland, and Wellesley.

The resulting studies, which should be completed this winter, will give the state the first glimpse of how much it could potentially cost to do all the projects. In all, 161 districts have expressed interest in 422 school projects.

Central Mass $$$ will flow to Natick

Posted October 1, 2007 10:46 AM


Central Massachusetts should be fertile ground for luxury retailers and the Natick Collection, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette is reporting.

The Census Bureau estimates Worcester County is home to 110,686 households with more than $75,000 in annual income. An estimated 71,571 of those households, or 25 percent of all households in the county, have more than $100,000 in annual income.

Yet aside from small, independent boutiques or specialty retailers, it’s tough to find brand-name luxury shopping in the Worcester area. Shoppers willing to plunk down $300 or more for a wool sweater generally have to get in their cars and drive — to Newbury Street in Boston or the Mall at Chestnut Hill in Newton; to Providence or to New York City.

Centers of attention

Posted September 30, 2007 09:21 AM

Wellesley Planning Director Rick Brown with the Linden Square project.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Lincoln's town center is hardly a hotbed of activity. A speed bump greets visitors driving in on the main drag.

Yet last week, a developer broke ground on a $7 million project to renovate a local shopping center and erect a 2 1/2 story building in this no-stoplight downtown. There are even plans for a restaurant, with the town's first-ever liquor license.

"Everyone's a little nervous," said Cathy Jahrling, one of the few customers grocery shopping at Donelan's Market in the town center on a recent morning. "Change doesn't come easily to Lincoln."

The same could be said of many New England cities and towns, yet change is on the way. In Franklin, Westborough, Marlborough, and other communities, private developers are building multimillion-dollar projects aimed at recreating downtown centers, often in their own image, staff writer Megan Woolhouse reports in today's Globe West. The goal of some of the projects is to mimic the look and feel of a New England village, creating space for merchants, new apartments, and even new public commons.

The investment is anything but common. In Franklin, there is $28 million in construction. A Westborough developer won't disclose the cost of its 23-acre downtown redevelopment project, except to say it is in the tens of millions.

The changes don't come without public debate. Downtowns are often the psychological epicenter of their communities. In Newton, a city task force has been at odds for months over how to redevelop that city's center.

Read more about the push to revitalize town centers in today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted September 30, 2007 09:15 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have fanned out across the region to bring you a variety of compelling stories in today's edition, including:

Staff writer Ralph Ranalli's report about how state environmental officials are phasing out odd-even day watering bans, saying they may actually be encouraging homeowners to use more water, not less;

Staff writer Meg Woolhouse's story about how Newton Mayor David B. Cohen's insistence on pushing through a proposal for articial turf fields at Newton South High School has angered critics who believe the city has more pressing capital needs;

Correspondent Matt Gunderson's report detailing how the days of hiding dismal report cards and midterm grades to avoid the wrath of parents may soon become a relic of the past, as more and more schools ramp up their online links with parents, and;

Correspondent John Dyer's report about a proposal in Westborough to ban JetSkis and other personal watercraft.

For a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories, visit the section online.

Hard work and fluffy pancakes

Posted September 27, 2007 10:13 AM

The Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


It's community and atmosphere and regulars. It's historic character and comfortable booths and french fries. And, oh yeah, long hours. Really long, brutal hours.

Ask anyone what makes a diner a diner. You'll hear about the food, the building, and the history. But for all the enthusiasm, for all the nostalgia, diners are disappearing because they are so tough to run. Nationally, the number of diners has dropped from 5,000 to about 1,500 over the last 55 years, staff writer Lisa Kocian reports in today's Globe West.

It's a problem Shrewsbury officials have wrestled with for two decades. The town acquired the Edgemere Diner, a streamlined classic on Route 20, in 1987 because the owners stopped paying property taxes. After years of renting it out on short-term leases, two years at a time to start, the town decided this summer to offer a better deal. It tried to sell the diner car, made in 1948 by the Fodero Dining Car Co. of New Jersey, with a 20-year lease of the land in order to give a new proprietor incentive to invest in the business and make improvements.

But no one wanted to take it on.

Read more about the struggle to keep classic diners open in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Globe West is also telling the story in pictures, via an online photo gallery.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted September 27, 2007 09:55 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have filed a broad array of fascinating stories from around the region today, including:

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's story about how, even on the eve of her reelection bid, Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy continues to challenge the city's political establishment, most recently in her attempt to change the rules that prevent her from reaching outside the city to hire a new police chief;

Correspondent Alexandra Perloe's report about how Franklin officials say the town of Norfolk has not held up its end of a 14-year-old water-sharing agreement and owes Franklin $43,717 for water it has been sending to Norfolk for more than a decade;

Correspondent John Dyer's story about how state and local historic preservation watchdogs are sounding alarms over the Fay School's plans to demolish three old houses on its campus in Southborough, and;

Sports writer Jeremy Gottlieb, in his Football Thursday column, reports how in the town of Shrewsbury, the matchup with nearby Saint John's of Shrewsbury is considered the game by which all others are measured.

For a complete listing of all the stories in today's Globe West, visit the section online.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Enhanced toll taking technology sparks privacy fears

Posted September 24, 2007 10:24 AM


Toll booths in Massachusetts - and across the nation - could be heading the way of manual typewriters and vinyl records.

Instead of fumbling for change or navigating through special lanes in transponder-equipped cars, drivers may soon have to do little more than cruise on and off highways passing under a metal beam spanning the entire width of the road. At the end of the month they'd receive a bill, much like any other utility bill. Except this bill would log each time they entered or exited a highway system, how far they traveled and how much they owed.

The idea is called "open road tolling" and it's a key recommendation of a new report on ways Massachusetts can close a multi-billion gap in transportation funding over the next two decades.

It's more than just an idea. In Melbourne, Toronto and Israel, open road tolling has been a reality for years. States like Texas, Florida and Illinois are already starting to employ the technology.

While the authors of a new report on Massachusetts' transportation funding dilemma concede open road tolling - something they envision for all highways, not just the Massachusetts Turnpike - is still years off, the plan is already drawing fire. Chief among the early critics are privacy activists who say they worry about any plan that allows the government to essentially track the movements of citizens.

Ann Lambert, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said she worries about information being stored indefinitely in databanks.

"They clearly haven't thought through the need for privacy safeguards and the flushing of information after the data isn't needed," Lambert said.

-- AP

In losing, they gain

Posted September 23, 2007 10:48 AM

Tina Fisher holds a picture of herself, pre-surgery. (That's her on the right. Honest.)
(Globe staff photo by David Kamerman)


The findings - released last month from long-term studies of 20,000 dangerously overweight people in Utah and Sweden - were stunning.

Obese patients who had undergone stomach reduction surgery were up to 40 percent more likely to live longer, 56 percent less likely to die of heart disease, and 92 percent less likely to die from diabetes than those who tried diet and exercise alone.

Yet for Tina Fisher, program coordinator for the new Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, the studies only confirmed what she already knew. In the six years since her own gastric bypass surgery, the 30-year-old nurse practitioner has lost 137 pounds. She exercises four times a week, can fit into a standard movie theater seat, and sometimes forgets what her old life was like, staff writer and web producer Ralph Ranalli reports in today's Globe West.

A roller-coaster enthusiast, Fisher used to watch her husband ride alone because she was worried whether the seat belt or safety bar would fit around her 297-pound frame. She also suffered from the litany of health woes common to the very overweight diabetes, joint problems, and sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person literally stops breathing repeatedly during sleep.

"Patients come back and tell me about their experiences, like the first time they didn't have to go into a plus-size clothing store," she said. "And I think, 'Oh yeah, I remember that.' "

Thanks to stories like Fisher's, officials at Newton-Wellesley said they were convinced that gastric bypass operations represent a sound medical option and were aggressively expanding their weight loss surgery practice even before the new findings were released. Last year, the hospital's bariatric surgery program was accredited to operate on even the most severely obese patients, and in June, the program was elevated to a full-fledged department and renamed the Center for Weight Loss Surgery.

As it turns out, the timing of the hospital's push could not have been better, officials said.

Read more about how bariatric surgery is changing lives in the online edition of today's Globe West. While you're there, you can also view an audio slide show about Tina Fisher's experience with the surgery and losing 137 pounds.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted September 23, 2007 09:45 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have dished up a buffet of savory stories from around the region today, including:

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's story about Watertown native and 19-year-old Princeton University sophomore Wesley Morgan, who has developed a special close relationship with Army General David H. Petraeus, the commander of American forces in Iraq;

Correspondent Calvin Hennick's report about how Wrentham officials -- eyeing major construction projects going up along Route 1 in neighboring Foxborough and Plainville -- are considering zoning changes to encourage businesses to build on the town's own less-developed stretch of the highway;

Correspondent Tanya Pérez-Brennan's story about how Framingham residents, frustrated by what they believe is an overabundance of social service agencies in town, have been granted the public hearing they had demanded from town officials, and;

Correspondent Alexandra Perloe's story about how Medway officials are proposing to tackle the problem the town is having with its water, which is so heavy with iron that it stains clothing brown.

For a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories, visit the section online.

Fighting back

Posted September 20, 2007 11:10 AM

Nilton Lisboa is helping to form an advocacy group for immigrants in Marlborough
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


A doctor, a real estate broker, a sales manager for an oil company, and three local business owners gathered in Marlborough last week to fight anti-immigrant sentiment. Two members of the group are in their late 20s, grew up in Marlborough, and are bilingual. All are immigrants, from either Brazil or Portugal.

The hostility they feel takes a number of forms in several communities: a revised town health code; a city's effort to get its own federal immigration office; anonymous hate fliers left in an apartment house lobby.

These sort of events and more have prompted defensive measures. Immigrants and their advocates are fighting back by getting organized, staff writer Lisa Kocian and correspondent Tanya Perez-Brennan report in today's Globe West.

In Marlborough, the City Council's attempt to open a local office for federal immigration authorities inspired the group of immigrant professionals to form an advocacy group over the summer. In Framingham, a community meeting was organized last week in response to a batch of fliers carrying the threat of deportation, which were distributed around an apartment complex. In Milford, some residents are trying to repeal a measure on overcrowded apartments that is widely seen as targeting immigrants.

"We are here permanently and we have as much love for this city as others," said Nilton Lisboa, who spearheaded the formation of the new Marlborough group.

Read more about organized efforts to fight discrimination against immigrants in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted September 20, 2007 10:35 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents have filed a wide array of compelling stories from around the region, including:

Bureau chief Erica Noonan's story about how the myriad modern amenities at the upscale new Natick Collection shopping mall apparently do not include a recycling program;

Staff writer Lisa Kocian's report about how community leaders in Marlborough are still preparing for the possibility of a casino there despite being shut out of Governor Deval Patick's recently-announced three casino plan for the state;

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's story about how Waltham city councilors have handed Mayor Jeannette McCarthy a significant setback in her efforts to open up the search for a new police chief to candidates from outside the city's Police Department;

Arts writer Denise Taylor's weekly column, which describes how one World War II Seabee's daughter from Newton is out to tell the story of when the Seabees landed on Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945 for what would become the Corps' bloodiest campaign ever, and;

Correspondent Matt Gunderson report about how Maynard school officials are taking a hard look at joining a nearby regional district to help alleviate the financial burden, despite previous rejections from several surrounding communities.

For a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories, visit the section online.

For whom the Turnpike tolls

Posted September 19, 2007 11:53 AM


Tolls on the Massachusetts Turnpike east of Route 128 will be going up next year, an editorial in today's Globe states, the only question is how much.

To keep turnpike users from paying an unfair share of the burden, Governor Patrick and the Legislature ought to be ready to intervene to prevent the kind of steep increases that were discussed at a meeting of the Turnpike Authority board Monday, the editorial states.

The board yesterday ordered the staff to double-check its figures on the projected deficit and find new revenue sources from turnpike properties. The board also needs to make sure that its recurring personnel expenses are reasonable. Cohen ordered a freeze on "nonessential" hiring on Monday, but that's not enough. The authority needs to make sure that its health insurance and pension costs are in line with those of the rest of state government.

Changes in fringe benefits will not, however, affect the short-term toll problem. To deal with that, the board needs to make the case before the governor and Legislature that turnpike users are saddled with too large a share of Central Artery expenses. Beyond what toll payers kick in, the state also picks up $25 million of Central Artery cost a year, but that isn't enough, given both the maintenance and the bonding obligations.

Read the full editorial in the online edition of today's Globe.

Beverly Beckham: The Donner Party ain't got nothin' on me

Posted September 17, 2007 09:12 AM



Beverly's trying to be Zen about it, but the truth is, she's down on air travel. Which is tough because her husband is in the travel business.

How bad has it become? Well, without ruining the suspense, let's just say she's invoking the memory of the ill-fated Donner Party that got trapped in a snowbound pass the Sierra Nevada mountains in 1846 and had to resort to cannibalism to survive.

Listen to Beverly's column and more about the purgatory that is modern air travel in the latest installment of her podcast, "Coffee with Beverly."

-- Ralph Ranalli

Out of darkness

Posted September 16, 2007 07:43 AM

Older men like William Rose of Newton have the highest suicide risk in the state, officials say.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Simply by virtue of his age, 93-year-old William Rose of Newton is at heightened risk of death. But the threat that came closest to taking his life was not old age, or illness. It was suicide.

According to the Massachusetts Coalition for Suicide Prevention, men age 85 and older have the highest suicide rate in the state. So when Rose told his home healthcare aide that he was thinking of killing himself after his daughter died, she took it seriously.

Fortunately, Rose's aide, Elina Dubovsky, knew what to do. She had attended a program on how to help prevent suicide in seniors, offered by the Geriatric Institute of Jewish Family and Children's Services in Waltham, Globe West staff writer Stephanie Siek reports today.

The training offered helped Dubovsky recognize depression in her patients, including Rose.

The Geriatric Institute began running its suicide prevention program for the elderly last year, said Kathy Burnes, the institute's project manager. It's one of several programs aimed at translating research on the elderly into practical solutions to the problems of old age. The Jewish family services agency also runs a general mental health program, and one of the motivations in creating the geriatric suicide prevention program was the discovery that about 60 percent of the mental health clients were 55 or older.

The institute is nonsectarian and works with clients regardless of their religion. Its suicide prevention program, adapted from research and materials from Cornell University's Homecare Research Project, began by training agency home healthcare aides on how to recognize symptoms of depression in the seniors they cared for. The training was expanded to aides affiliated with two Boston agencies, Midtown Home Health Services and Kit Clark Senior Services. It also holds sessions to teach doctors and nurses how to train other healthcare workers. So far, the program has trained 400 home health aides, doctors, and nurses. The materials have been translated into Russian, French, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese.

"The thing we're really trying to communicate is that depression is not a normal part of aging. It's a serious medical illness," Burnes said. "Seniors who have disability, medical illness, and pain are more likely to be depressed, but many are experiencing major depression for the first time in their lives, and this is not something that they'll get over [without help]."

Read more about the hidden problem of elder suicide in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted September 16, 2007 06:19 AM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents bring you a wide variety of interesting stories from around the region today, including:

Bureau chief Erica Noonan's report about a ruling by the Middlesex District Attorney's Office that two members of Sherborn's Board of Selectmen violated the state's Open Meeting Law when they met behind closed doors this year to discuss an employee contract;

Staff writer Meg Woolhouse's story about a developing feud between two big Boston-based hospitals about a new cancer center in Newton;

Correspondent Christina Pazzanese's story about how embattled Watertown Town Councilor Marilyn Petitto Devaney has emerged as an unlikely leader of the forces pressuring the Anti-Defamation League to fully acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, and;

Correspondent Calvin Hennick's report about how Holliston officials are scrambling to find a way to pay for a new police station after bids for the project came in nearly $1 million higher than expected.

For a complete listing of all the stories in today's Globe West, visit the section online.

Turf wars

Posted September 13, 2007 02:33 PM

Artificial turf foes Tom Sciacca of Wayland and Guive Mirfendereski of Newton measure the temperature in the artificial turf field at Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex in Waltham
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


On a cloudless summer morning, Kurt Tramposch, a public health consultant from Wayland, looked out across acres of green, artificial-turf playing fields in Waltham. Others might have seen a vista of potential play, a landscape made for fun. Not Tramposch.

"Some of us look at this and see a tire dump," he said.

Tramposch and a small group of allies have come together to oppose what some call progress - a growing wave of installations of artificial turf throughout the western suburbs. They are fighting the battle on blogs, before town officials, and even in the state Legislature, arguing that there are too many health and environmental questions surrounding fake grass. In some communities, they have taken local officials to court, staff writer Megan Woolhouse reports.

The ringleaders don't have any formal name for their group, an unlikely conglomeration of individuals from diverse backgrounds who didn't know one another before debate on artificial turf erupted. One is a lawyer of Iranian descent who holds a PhD in international relations. A second is an MIT-trained electrical engineer and grandfather of three. Another is an accountant. Yet another is a public health consultant and cofounder of the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards. And they are unafraid to take on a very powerful force in local politics: sports boosters.

Their movement has met with some success. Town Meeting members in Wellesley, for example, voted against installing artificial-turf fields there last spring, saying they had too many questions about the project. But the opposition has bewildered sports boosters and parents who have crusaded to install artificial turf on the fields where their children play. And in some cases, the debate has pitted parents, many of whom moved to the suburbs for the schools, against environmentalists and longtime town residents.

Read more about artificial turf wars in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West

Posted September 13, 2007 02:10 PM


Globe West's reporters and correspondents bring you a wide variety of interesting stories from the region today, including:

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's story about how Waltham Mayor Jeanette McCarthy is seeking greater authority from the City Council to control the process for naming a new police chief;

Correspondent John Dyer's story about how the rail trail along the Assabet River has been an even greater success that the officials who support it had hoped;

Correspondent Kristen Green's report about how an elite gym in Sudbury was recently transformed into a small piece of Hollywood, and;

Correspondent Lisa Keen's update on development plans for a key disputed parcel in Wellesley.

For a complete list of links to all this week's Globe West stories, check out the section online.

Clintonians open wallets for open space, seniors

Posted September 13, 2007 02:00 PM


Bucking a statewide trend, Clinton voters said 'yes' on Wednesday to two Proposition 2 1/2 property tax hikes that will authorize the town to acquire about 62 acres of open space and to build a senior center.

The debt exclusion approved by voters will allow the town to issue about $4 million in bonds in order to purchase Rauscher Farm and to purchase land for and finance the construction of a senior center. The town is also applying for a $500,000 grant from the state to help purchase the farm.

Clinton’s debt exclusion will only raise taxes above current levels for the life of the bonds, which have not yet been issued, but will likely have a 20-year duration.

With the issuance of a $2.875 million bond for the farm purchase, the average homeowner’s taxes would go up about $43 yearly, according to the Assessor’s office. A $1.4 million bond for the senior center would raise the average homeowner’s tax bill about $21 dollars.

About a quarter of registered voters participated in the election -- less than a sixth of the town’s population.

Earlier this year, more than 60 percent of towns rejected proposed overrides, according to a Globe survey in May.

Proposition 2 1/2 is a 1980 law that forces Massachusetts communities that want to raise taxes more than 2.5% above current levels to get voter approval for the change.

-- Alex I. Oster

Also in today's Globe West...

Posted September 9, 2007 06:53 AM


The reporters and correspondents of Globe West have filed a variety of interesting stories and reports from across the region in this Sunday's edition, including:

Staff writer Lisa Kocian's story about Pam Wilderman, Marlborough's first code enforcement officer, who serves as the city's cleanliness cop.

Staff writer Meg Woolhouse's report about how a proposal for a tax hike in Newton is gaining steam;

Staff writer and web producer Ralph Ranalli's story about how suburban development and the recent dry spell have lowered the Charles River to near-historic levels, and;

Correspondent Marvin Pave's report about a new approach for the Framingham State College football team, which features 60 new players this year on its 70-man roster after winning just four games in the last five years.

For a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories, please visit the section online.

What they didn't miss ...

Posted September 7, 2007 05:36 PM

Gucci fans will just have to wait.
(Globe staff photo)


If your favorite store is Neiman Marcus, or Gucci, or Bottega Veneta, you don't have to feel bad about missing today's gala Grand Opening of the Natick Collection.

They weren't here either.

In fact, a fairly substantial number of high-end stores that will occupy the new wing of the mall won't be making their appearances for weeks, even months.

Neiman's is due in two weeks, but expect to wait longer for Salvatore Ferragamo, Marina Rinaldi, Karen Miller, Ralph Lauren, Thomas Pink, Piazza Sempione, and Links of London. In fact, the north end of the mall, supposedly the ritziest section, was a bit of a ghost town yesterday, with just Tiffany, Louis Vitton, and a piano player bravely trying to draw shoppers in that direction.

Of course, if you're a glass-half-full person, that just means you still have something to look forward to.

-- Ralph Ranalli

This is the last post of the Globe West Updates Natick Collection Blog-A-Thon. Thanks for tuning in.

Our woman inside: bargains and splurges

Posted September 7, 2007 04:59 PM


I went on the hunt for best bargains and most egregious splurges. Someone had to do it.

KATE SPADE: The ladies at Kate Spade looked like they wanted to squeal, but refrained as they offered up the Maya bag from the Arabella collection. It is a large, black, patent-finished python handbag with semi -circle beech wood handles. And this super shiny morsel can be yours for only $1,495.

I am a bargain shopper so I will maybe buy the cute yellow and white striped sticky notes for $9. For the low, low price of $8, you can swipe some Spade charm via the refill paper for daily organizers (I know from experience that the paper is standard size and fits non-Kate organizers.)

TOURNEAU: But I did not know splurge until I walked into fancy watch store Tourneau. The very accommodating salesmen there showed me a Patek Philippe watch for just under $60,000. It was "preowned" -- come to find out you can trade in watches there like you do cars-- and it featured a perpetual calendar, black crocodile band, and clear case on the back so you can see it at work. The perpetual calendar is supposed to stay accurate (day, date, and month) until at least the year 2100, according to store manager Bruce Bowman, so you can feel good about handing it down as a family heirloom.

Uh, yeah, I'll take it. And hock it faster than you can say "skinny jeans are so unfair." The best I could come up with at Tourneau for a bargain was the $375 Swiss Army women's tank watch, which I've been eyeing for years.

NORDSTROM: Oddly enough, the Nordstrom splurge came in around the same price, just under $58,000 for a 21-carat deep blue tanzanite pendant surrounded by 43 diamonds. Yeah, it was pretty. Nordstrom does have some lower priced wares in its Brass Plum department, which is geared toward teenaged girls. Jeans there go as low as $42. And there was a lovely wool-blend car coat in Tiffany blue for $78.

ZARA: Although the high-end stores that opened today dominated, there are actually some real gems for people like me -- that is, thirtysomething casual clotheshorse. Zara, a Spanish clothing store for women, has gorgeous silk dresses (my fave was $79) and simple cotton sweaters ($19 for scoop- or V-neck in a zillion colors).

They also had the ubiquitous sweater dress (I swear clingy knit dresses made an appearance in half the stores I visited. The Zara version came in taupe, black, chocolate brown, and cherry red for $59.

-- Lisa Kocian

Leave the Mom Jeans and Crocs at Home

Posted September 7, 2007 04:39 PM

The offending digits: our correspondent is feeling a tad declasse.
(Globe staff photo)


Just a hint: if you're planning on visiting the Natick Collection in its initial days, you might want to dress up.

This advice is offered by a reporter whose outfit's total value was less than most shoppers' shoes. Believe it or not, one Sephora customer with flawlessly French manicured nails literally sneered at this humble correspondent's obviously D.I.Y. pedicure.

A quick search for another member of the fashion proletariat yielded only a woman in mom jeans and a bewildered looking senior citizen in high-waisted pastel pants. It was only as the after-school crowd filtered in from local middle and high schools that the majority of patrons began to look less like socialites at a haute couture trunk sale and more like the customers of a stereotypical suburban mall.

-- Stephanie V. Siek

An eclectic musical Collection

Posted September 7, 2007 04:37 PM


Goodbye Muzak. The musical hipness quotient is off the charts today as a DJ is spinning tunes at Metropark, a store that includes a line of turntable pendants and DJ-themed t-shirts.

Steve Logan, a Natick native, said his shopping mix includes Digable Planets, A Tribe Called Quest, and an electronica outfit named Chromeo.

"This store, they like upbeat music like this. Nice hip hop, with minimal swears," said Logan, a Natick native who works as an artist when not spinning Friday and Saturday nights at the store.

Down the hall, Puma also has a spot set up for a DJ, just in time for the after-school crowd.
Downstairs, a pianist plays on a grand piano.

In fact, music is filling about every corner of the mall. But even so, today's musicians are still having a hard timing living up the eclectic standard set at the gala preview event last night, where a flute and harp duo played their own version of "Stairway to Heaven."

What's next, "Freebird" on steel drums?

-- Meg Woolhouse and Stephanie Siek

A local link among the national chains

Posted September 7, 2007 03:47 PM

(Globe staff photo)


A stone's throw from the state's first Nordstrom department store is Stil, the only local business to be awarded a spot in the new Natick Collection expansion.

Today was the grand opening of her 1,000-square-foot boutique (named after the Scandinavian word for ``style') and founder/owner Betty Riaz was behind the counter personally helping shoppers choose funky black cocktail dresses and chunky beaded necklaces.

``I'm so excited to be here,'' said Riaz. ``This store is the epitome of what I wanted my store, my brand to be.''

She has opened shops on Newbury Street and at the Chestnut Hill Mall -- but the Natick store has been a real labor of love, she said. With an emphasis on labor.

All her corporate neighbors have teams of high-powered leasing agents, brand managers and real estate attorneys to get their stores up-and running.

Betty, has, well, Betty.

She did it all -- choosing this spot -- nestled behind the Concierge Desk in the busiest crossing in the new wing -- and taking care of all the new-store details personally. She's not too worried about the internationally-known brands, like Michael Kors to her right, and Betsey Johnson to her left.

Since she opened the door at 9 a.m. more than 100 people have come by, about half had shopped in her Newton or Boston stores before, the other half were brand-new customers.

``It's nice to be able to finally show people who don't make it into Boston who were are,'' Riaz said.

-- Erica Noonan

It's 2:30 p.m., do you know where your logo is?

Posted September 7, 2007 03:35 PM

(Globe staff photo)


Fans of the Project Runway reality series know how tough celebrity fashion judge Michael Kors could be on the designer/contestants, particularly when one of them didn't finish an assignment on time.


Kors' new boutique in the ritzy Natick Collection was strangely anonymous for the first four-and-a-half hours of the new mall's life, until an employee got a ladder and some press-on lettering and saved the day.

As Tim Gunn would say, "Make it work, Michael."

-- Ralph Ranalli

Sounds from a Mall

Posted September 7, 2007 02:56 PM

(Photo courtesy of Alan Dines)


In case you missed it, take a listen to the Boston Symphony Orchestra's fanfare and General Growth Properties CEO John Bucksbaum's ribbon-cutting speech, which marked the opening of the new Natick Collection.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Where the sidewalk ends

Posted September 7, 2007 02:45 PM


Whoever designed the mall had the forethought to include a bike path near the entrance of the building. And it's nice, the way it meanders through the newly planted birch trees and grasses.

It's just a little short, in total just a few hundred feet. And it posed other logistical challenges too -- like connecting directly to a sidewalk along one side of Speen Street that ends abruptly about a block away from the mall, leaving riders and walkers to fend for themselves along the four-lane roadway.

This afternoon, no cyclists were spotted on it. Not that they would have had a place to park anyway. Stands for locking up bikes also aren't available yet, but mall officials said they should be in the next several weeks.

-- Meg Woolhouse

You were expecting maybe a weiner dog?

Posted September 7, 2007 01:45 PM

(Globe staff photo)


With over 100 high-end stores, excess has of course been one of the themes of the day. Even the balloon clowns were engaging in a bit of one-upclownship.

While other kids were showing off flowers, animals, and magic wands, 4-year-old Abner Perez of Framingham was the proud recipient of this latex Lexus.

Send in the clowns...

Posted September 7, 2007 01:13 PM


The inside of the Natick Collection's new wing is dark wood and stylish tile and glass. Very classy.

But opening day entertainment has more mass-market appeal. It seems they've hired just about every clown in the Greater Boston area for opening day.

There's Davey, who crafts balloon animals and plays the accordion. Jenny the Juggler pained faces. There was even a unicycle-riding, juggling clown. And a rabbit in a box.

Chic or not, the kids are loving it. And shoppers, many of whom have small children, love it, too.

"This is a very kid friendly mall," said Robin Marshall of Sudbury. "He (Davey) was chasing someone with a rubber chicken before. It was pretty funny."

Her young daughter was dancing to Davey's accordion tunes.

"I loveeee it!" her daughter said.

Clowns aren't the only entertainment at the Collection's opening day. An older gentleman played the piano in front of the not-yet-open Neiman Marcus.

He wasn't wearing a tux (and looked kind of rumpled, actually) but everyone seemed impressed with his playing.

Classy, I thought, but then I realized what he was playing. It was the theme from "Sesame Street".

-- Alex I. Oster

Nothing says retail like a half-naked man

Posted September 7, 2007 11:52 AM

Eat your hearts out, suits
(Globe staff photo by Mark Wilson)


Denise Johnson, 41, was shopping with two girlfriends when she noticed the bare-chested hunk giving out samples inside Fruits & Passion, a Canadian lotions and potions shop.

"That's why we came in here," said Johnson, a Shrewsbury resident. "We saw him from outside."

The model Earl Harried works as a radioactive waste technician at Seabrook. A photographer asked him if women talk to his chest. Yes, the vast majority do, he admitted. (C'mon his pecs are eye level for the average-height woman. What's a girl to do?)

Johnson said she was lured in by the Nordstrom but is having fun seeing some of the other shops that are riding the department store's coattails. "I was impressed," she said of the new Natick Collection. "I was overwhelmed I guess."

-- Lisa Kocian

Trumpets and confetti

Posted September 7, 2007 10:27 AM


With a fanfare from the Boston Symphony Orchestra brass section and a blast from air cannons firing red, black, and silver confetti, the Natick Collection officially opened at 9:56 a.m.

General Growth Properties CEO John Bucksbaum cut a huge band of red ribbons (actually, he pretended to while underlings released the ribbons from the wings) on the ornamental staircase in the new wing's main atrium.

The opening has also hit its first glitch, albeit a minor one: the little pieces of silver mylar confetti are so sticky that they're proving almost impervious to the janitorial staff's attempts to sweep them up.

-- Ralph Ranalli

The countdown begins ...

Posted September 7, 2007 09:18 AM

Welcome to Globe West Update's Natick Collection Blog-a-thon. Staff writer Lisa Kocian filed this update as the first perfumes were being spritzed and the trumpets were warming up for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.


Throngs of excited Nordstrom fans are crowded outside the store eagerly awaiting the opening this morning of the first Massachusetts store. Drawn by a makeover tailgate party, some of the more enthusiastic shoppers sported hot pink boas given out by staff.

Natick resident Penny Tozier walked over to the brand new Natick Collection, which officially opens in minutes, because she thought it would be easier than driving. (Parking and traffic were actually not a problem between 8 and 9 a.m. when I drove in.)

"Ever since they made the announcement the Wonder Bread factory was shutting down, I've been watching it," said Tozier. "I was able to see the progress weekly."

She was getting a makeover from Estee Lauder makeup artist Brynn Terry, who said she was trying to give her a "Malibu" sunkissed look. It was Terry's tenth makeover of the morning, which started at 8 a.m.

Tozier said she came today specifically for the Nordstrom opening, calling the store her "absolute favorite" because of the high-quality customer service.

Other smiling customers were getting makeovers from Clinique, Trish McEvoy, and Laura Mercier, to name a few.

Wellesley resident Mary Ann Scott was peeking inside the Nordstrom store, where staff were teasing customers by raising and lowering the metal garage-like door hiding the high-end duds. "I can't wait until the store opens," said Scott. She planned to spend and hour or two to "get a good overview today" so she can plot her shopping strategy in the coming weeks.

-- Lisa Kocian

The scene from the mall

Posted September 7, 2007 07:27 AM

Finally, the computer-generated shoppers will be replaced by the real thing.


It's here. The Natick Collection opens today, and the Globe West Updates staff will be bringing you the entire scene with our exclusive Blog-a-thon today, starting with Nordstrom's early morning make up tailgate party. To get things going, staff writer Lisa Kocian filed this report from the gala opening party last night:

NATICK - 9:50 p.m. -- There were break dancers and fortune tellers and glass blowers. You could mix your own perfume or listen to a harpist or sample the oxygen bar. The new Natick Collection opened tonight with a packed gala fundraiser to benefit the Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation & The Children's Hospital League.

"I think it's pretty exciting - it'll be great for the economy, great for tourism," said state Sen. Karen Spilka, an Ashland Democrat, as she waited in line to try the oxygen bar.

Hundreds of cocktail-dressed partygoers sipped champagne, nibbled on crab cakes, or sampled black caviar on blini as they meandered through the carnival-like scene. As one wide-eyed reveler put it, "This is an event!"

Sadly, the stores were closed but you could still window shop. Some looked like they were sprinting a little frantically to the finish line. A worker was putting the final touches on a window display at the Louis Vuitton shop.

Nordstrom and most of the 100 new stores at the shopping center formerly known as Natick Mall open tomorrow morning.

-- Lisa Kocian

Men of (grid)Iron

Posted September 6, 2007 12:45 PM

Tom Lopez has coached the Lincoln-Sudbury Warriors for 30 seasons, including three winning Super Bowl years.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


On a warm September afternoon in 1978, Tom Lopez stood on the sidelines of the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School football field, one minute away from his first win in his first career game as a head coach.

"And then," Lopez recalled last week, "Holliston kicked a field goal. It wound up a tie, 3-3. I don't remember too much about it, but I do remember that it was kind of a boring game."

He said he still gets nervous from time to time, but never as much as he did on that Saturday afternoon three decades ago. Tomorrow evening at 7, Lopez will be on the Lincoln-Sudbury sideline once again, kicking off his 30th season as head coach, when his Warriors host Medfield in a nonleague matchup.

In Wrentham, Dave Hughes will reach the same 30-year milestone tomorrow night, when his Hopkinton High gridders take on King Philip Regional in another nonleague matchup. L-S and Hopkinton are just two of 36 teams in the suburbs west of Boston that will kick off the high school football season this weekend, including defending Super Bowl champions Medfield, Milford, St. John's of Shrewsbury, and Wayland.

In an area that also features three other head coaches with at least 20 years of service -- Peter Capodilupo at Newton North, Tom Lamb at Natick, and Phil Marchegiani at Marian High in Framingham -- Hughes and Lopez stand alone, Globe West correspondent Jeremy Gottlieb reports today.

Read more about what it takes to be a longtime high school football coach in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Our woman inside: Lisa Kocian reports from the Natick Collection

Posted September 5, 2007 01:43 PM

Shirts await shoppers at the Nordstrom in the new Natick Collection, which opens Friday.
(Globe file photo)


Editor's note: Globe West staff writer Lisa Kocian got a sneak peek inside the new Natick Collection today and filed this dispatch. Stay tuned to Globe West Updates all day Friday for our Natick Collection Blog-a-thon, when we will be filing a steady stream of reports and dispatches from the much-anticipated grand opening.

I have seen the new Natick Mall -- sorry, The Natick Collection -- and it's pretty cool.

The new stores, including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, open Friday but reporters were allowed in today for a sneak peek. I shudder to think what the traffic will be like in two days -- let alone in December --but before I start critiquing, allow me to ooh and ah for a moment.

I like to shop. I'm usually a bargain shopper (after all, I make my living by writing) but I can still swoon over the high end stuff. The way it's set up, the stores work their way gradually from economical at the pre-existing Sears end to luxury retail at the Nordstrom/Neiman Marcus end. My personal favorites: vintage-y clothing and home store Anthropologie, which recycled the wood from an antique barn for its new store's interior and Sel de la Terre, a French brasserie that will open early for coffee and baked goods on an outdoor patio when the weather allows.

The Collection stores displayed varying degrees of readiness for Friday's opening. At body products store L'Occitane, workers unpacked shopping bags. Handbag giant Kate Spade was still under construction, with not a kelly green bag or dress in sight. Martin + Osa, a new store from the folks that brought us American Eagle, already has mannequins dressed, one in women's dark wash skinny jeans and another in a men's olive green puffy down vest.

The new two-level space -- which features more than 100 shops -- is light and airy. There is such an abundance of skylights that the addition actually seems to have a glass ceiling. Synthetic birch trees reach up toward the natural light, but instead of leaves there are metallic, primary green leaf-shaped cutouts. I'm not so sure about those; my first thought was of a kindergarten classroom and construction paper when I saw them.

Mall owner General Growth Properties aggressively courted retailers in the United States and Europe to get the best for shoppers, according to Michael McNaughton, vice president, of asset management for GGP's Northeast region.

For example, Williams-Sonoma and Coach were both prior mall tenants, but will be re-opening in the new addition with their largest prototype stores, he said. GGP was gunning for big, McNaughton said, like the new Hugo Boss store, which will be the only one in the Boston area to sell both men's and women's clothing.

-- Lisa Kocian

Good help is hard to find

Posted September 2, 2007 12:13 PM

(Globe staff photo by Pat Greenhouse)


Staffing a brand-new store is tough enough. But just try recruiting at the same time as 100 other nearby stores -- including giants like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus -- all angling to hire the same top sales associates from one area.

Then try to do it without having an actual store to show potential employees, Globe West staff writer John C. Drake reports in a front-of-the-section story today.

"It's hard when we're outside of our venue," said Dawn Sereda, store manager of Brighton Collectibles at Burlington Mall. She'll be the manager of a new Brighton Collectibles store at Natick Collection when it opens Friday with the mall expansion.

"We're all drawing from the same well" of potential employees, she said. "There are names out there everybody knows and are attracted to."

She rattles off popular store brands like Tommy Bahama, Tiffany's, and Nordstrom.

"These are names they see at other locations and have been following for years," Sereda said. "It's really hard to compete with that."

Two years after construction on its 550,000-square-foot expansion began, Natick Collection, formerly Natick Mall, is set to open its new luxury wing and Nordstrom department store on Friday. About 70 percent of the 98 stores planned for the new wing will open their doors that day, said Jim Grant, vice president of development for mall owner General Growth Properties. Neiman Marcus plans to open Sept. 15, and most of the new stores are expected to be up and running by the holiday shopping season.

Read more about the Natick Collection opening in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also to today's Globe West

Posted September 2, 2007 11:20 AM

Globe West's reporters and correspondents have produced a variety of must-read stories for today's edition, including:

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's report about the city of Waltham has received little credible outside interest in a plan to turn the former Banks School into housing or services for the disabled;

Correspondents Sapna Pathak and Alexandra Perloe's report about how school officials are scrambling for ways to avoid charging user fees for sports programs (this story includes a sidebar about what students in various districts pay to play);

Correspondent Christina Pazzanese's report about how the developers of a proposed apartment complex in East Watertown have come under scrutiny from the town about their past business practices, and;

Bureau chief Erica Noonan's report about how the a rivalry on the Sherborn Board of Selectmen has spawned charges of open meeting law violations and an investigation by the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office.

For a complete listing of all of today's Globe West stories, visit the section online.

Also in today's Globe West

Posted August 30, 2007 12:10 PM


Globe West's reporters have fanned out across the region to bring you a variety of interesting and compelling stories today, including:

Bureau Chief Erica Noonan's report about how the town of Wellesley is mulling a jump into the fight to shift political power and transportation funds toward the suburbs;

Staff writer Megan Woolhouse's story on parking angst at Newton North High School being caused by the construction project that will create a $154 million educational showplace;

Correspondent John Dyer's report about innovative design features in the new $20 million Department of Youth Services lockup for girls in Westborough, and;

Arts correspondent Denise Taylor's story about Helena Leet-Pellegrini, a 70-year-old storyteller from Wayland who is performing in "The Luigi Code," a one-woman show about growing up with an Italian anarchist grandfather.

Commuter Rail's Framingham-Worcester line to see delays beginning next week

Posted August 24, 2007 10:47 AM


Commuters who ride the Boston-Framingham-Worcester line will see some inconveniences next week -- and there will be more to come next month -- due to a track maintenance project
, the Globe's City & Region section is reporting.

The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad says that two weekday afternoon trains will be canceled each day from Monday to Thursday next week. Bus service will be provided instead.

The trains that will be canceled are Train 517, which leaves at 2:40 p.m. from South Station for Framingham, and Train 526, which leaves at 3:40 p.m. from Framingham for South Station.

The MBCR says that CSX, the freight rail company that owns the right-of-way, is replacing 32,000 ties along the Boston-to-Framingham stretch in a project that will last from Sunday to Oct. 4. During the project's last phase, which begins Sept. 9, all trains will experience delays of at least 15 minutes because of the track work, said the MBCR, which runs commuter rail service for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Longer delays are possible after 7 p.m. on weekdays and after 5 p.m. on weekends.

Beverly's back!

Posted August 20, 2007 03:03 PM



After a two-month summer hiatus, the Globe's siren of the suburbs, Beverly Beckham, is back on the web with her podcast.

In "Coffee with Beverly," Beckham and Globe West web producer Ralph Ranalli get together over a couple of cups of Starbucks Verona Blend or Ethiopian Yergacheffe and chat about the topics Beverly raises in her column. It's something new each week; anything from grandparenting to the war in Iraq to the simple bliss of a visit to Dairy Queen.

This week, Beverly talks about becoming a Senior Citizen -- or at least having the dreaded label affixed to her despite all her best efforts. Take a listen.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Officials: Pike toll increases may be higher than planned

Posted August 15, 2007 01:31 PM


Massachusetts Turnpike Authority officials acknowledged yesterday that they are reviewing whether toll increases scheduled for January will be adequate to cover expenses at the financially strapped agency, under pressure from two board members who are warning that a steeper increase is inevitable.

Under a plan approved in the late 1990s, tolls are tentatively scheduled to rise on Jan. 1 from $1 to $1.25 at the Allston and Weston booths and from $3 to $3.75 at the Ted Williams and Sumner tunnels to help cover $1.4 billion in Big Dig debt, reporter Michael Levenson of the Globe's City & Region staff reports today.

"But as of now, the exact amount of the toll increase to fulfill these bond obligations has not been determined," Turnpike spokesman Mac Daniel said in a statement.

The agency, which relies on tolls for 78 percent of its revenue, is facing a $26 million increase in debt payments next year, in addition to $25 million in deferred maintenance and the challenge of continuing to pay $12 million annually for Fast Lane discounts. The planned toll increase is expected to raise only $25 million a year.

Board members Mary Z. Connaughton and Judy M. Pagliuca said that these expenses, which were not anticipated in the 1990s, will drive tolls higher and put an increased burden on motorists. Connaughton said she could not predict how much more tolls would have to increase, but said the increase could be substantial.

Read more about the toll increases in the online version of today's Globe.

Globe West multimedia

Posted August 13, 2007 08:51 AM

Click on this photo to view an audio slide show that tells the story of Michael Cohen and his car, which runs on used vegetable oil.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Globe West is more than an informative, entertaining collection of stories and information that arrives on doorsteps with the Globe every Thursday and Sunday. It's also a fascinating, online multimedia experience.

Each week, the multi-disciplined reporters and photographers at Globe West bring you photo galleries, audio slide shows, audio clips, podcasts, and -- yes -- this news blog.

A few recent examples of our work include:

Web producer Ralph Ranalli's multimedia package about suburbanites who have converted their cars to run on used vegetable oil, which featured a photo gallery of local "grease car" owners, an audio slide show tracing the journey of one owner's fuel from the Frialator to his Mercedes, and an online quiz;

A touching photo gallery compiled by staff writer Stephanie Siek and photographer Bill Polo about members of the Kelley family of Newton, who face each day with grace and love despite a myriad of challenges, and;

Bill Polo's piognant photos of a young blind boy, Matteo Faso, who participated in a kayaking program for people with disabilities at Hopkinton State Park.

Globe West is also home to two podcasts:

* Coffee with Beverly, suburban columnist Beverly Beckham's podcast, which returns from summer hiatus this Sunday, and;

* Great Writers, the Boston Globe Books podcast, which features nationally-known writers reading excerpts from their work at Newtonville Books, one of the region's best respected and most beloved bookstores. (Great Writers is also on hiatus, and will returning in mid-September.)

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted August 12, 2007 10:40 AM

Erin Ferjulian, a third-generation farmer, and her daughter Natalie, 19, say they have no time to sell their wares at local farmers' markets.
(Globe staff photo by Robert E. Klein)

Globe West reporters have fanned out across the region to bring you a variety of compelling stories this Sunday, including:

Staff writer Megan Woolhouse's story about how local farmer's markets, while growing in popularity, are having trouble attracting local farmers to sell their wares;

Bureau chief Erica Noonan's story about planning officials and local home builders in Wellesley will face off about proposed "anti-manionization" rules at a public meeting tonight;

Correspondent Calvin Hennick's report about how more and more parents are sending their children to public schools like King Philip Regional in Wrentham thanks to state-of-the-art school buildings and improved instruction, and;

Correnspondent Christina Pazzanese's report about how Watertown is becoming a mini-mecca for local cable television production.

For a complete listing of all stories, columns, and other features in today's Globe West, visit the section online.

A run for the money

Posted August 5, 2007 10:13 AM

School Facility Service Manager Ron Clements,right, tours Natick High school with consultants and a review team from the Massachusetts School Building Authority
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Nearly 1,000 fifth- and sixth-graders will bound into the halls of Shrewsbury's Sherwood Middle School in the fall, a school built in 1964 for 700 pupils.

District officials expanded the school's capacity years ago by adding 10 portable buildings, so it can "theoretically" handle 950 students, said Superintendent Anthony J. Bent. But first-year principal Jane Lizotte, who attended the school as a teenager, is tasked with finding space for 992.

"We can't turn any of them away," she said.

Shrewsbury officials are hoping the state's new method for funding school construction projects will bring some relief. But they aren't the only ones, staff writer John C. Drake reports in today's Globe West.

More than a dozen school districts in Boston's western suburbs have submitted so-called statements of interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority under a new system that is meant to be tougher on school systems. They join hundreds statewide who will be competing for up to $500 million in school-construction cash in the coming school year.

"The first year is going to be challenging, because we'll be setting precedents," said state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who oversees the School Building Authority. "But I'm confident we'll have a process that people will accept."

Read more about the challenges local school district's face getting state funding in the online edition of today's Globe West.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted August 5, 2007 09:32 AM


The reporters who work for Globe West have fanned out across the region to bring you a variety of compelling stories today, including:

Staff writer John C. Drake's account of how the Union effort to integrate African-American soldiers into the fight during the Civil War was aided by at least a dozen officers who lived in Natick;

Staff writer Stephanie Siek's report about how a developer in Waltham is asking for zoning variances to turn a crumbling old riverside factory into a swank condo complex;

Correspondent Christina Pazzanese's story about how the transfer of 12 acres of land in Watertown to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation has been stalled by a dispute over the cleanup of toxic materials, and;

Columnist Beverly Beckham takes a visit to the venerable Story Land theme park in New Hampshire and reminisces about her visits there when she was young.

For a complete listing of all the stories in today's Globe West, visit the section online.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Also in today's Globe West...

Posted July 29, 2007 10:43 AM


Globe West's reporters and photographers have fanned out across our region to bring you a wide variety of compelling stories today, including:

* Staff writer Meg Woolhouse's report that two Mount Ida College students on a late-night food run were driving in excess of 80 miles per hour in a residential area when their silver 2002 Acura RSX crashed on July 1, according to a report from the Newton Police Department;

* Staff writer Lisa Kocian's story about how artists who want to live in a loft-style condo development in Marlborough are having a tough time getting mortgage loans;

* Correspondent Calvin Hennick's report about how many town in the region are considering abandoning the position of elected town clerk for an appointed one, and;

* Correspondent John Dyer's report about how Framingham officials, worried that sex offender residency restrictions in other towns may push pedophiles there, are mulling new regulations of their own.

For a complete listing of all the stories in today's Globe West, visit the section online.

-- Ralph Ranalli

West Nile mosquito found in Marlborough

Posted July 27, 2007 01:03 PM


For the first time this summer, a bird carrying West Nile virus has been found in Massachusetts. The infected blue jay was detected in Marlborough and tested positive yesterday, staff writer Stephen Smith of the Globe's Health & Science staff reports today.

No human cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported this year in the state. Last year, three people contracted the illness in Massachusetts; all survived.

So far this year, most human cases of the disease have been reported west of the Mississippi River, with California reporting 27 cases, the most in the nation.

In the most severe cases, the infection can cause a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one of every 150 people infected with West Nile develops severe symptoms.

To avoid contact with infected mosquitoes, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health recommends limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn, peak biting times for mosquitoes. Otherwise, wear as much clothing as comfortable and apply insect repellent such as DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.

DEET should not be used on infants under the age of 2 months and should be used in concentrations of 30 percent or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years old.

Click here to see a press release from the Marlborough mayor's office.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted July 22, 2007 01:06 PM

An artist's conception of Community Rowing's planned new boathouse on the Charles River.
(Image courtesy of Community Rowing Inc.)


Globe West's reporters and correspondents fanned out across the region this week to bring you a wide variety of stories, including:

* Correspondent Christina Pazzanese's report about Community Rowing, the Watertown-based group that has possibly done more than anyone else in the US to democratize the often elitist sport of rowing, if finally building its own boathouse after years of housing its shells in a closed-for-the-season hockey rink;

* Correspondent John Guilfoil's story about how Needham High School is launching a global competency program that will combine travel abroad, community service, and foreign language programs;

* Staff writer John Drake's report on how town planners in Natick are struggling to find a workable solution with Mathworks, the software giant that is planning a major expansion on Route 9, and;

* Staff writer Lisa Kocian's story describing how members of Marlborough's immigrant community are outraged by a measure the city's School Committee appears poised to pass that would require parents to produce three forms of proof that they live in the city before their children would be allowed to attend school.

For a complete listing of all the news, sports, and people stories in today's Globe West, visit the section online.

Also in today's Globe West ...

Posted July 19, 2007 11:44 AM


Today's edition of Globe West is full of compelling and informative stories about the region, including:

* Staff writer Lisa Kocian's report about Newton resident Nancy Falchuk, who was recently named the new national president of Hadassah, the largest Jewish membership organization in the country;

* Staff writer Stephanie Siek's report on how Waltham Mayor Jeannette McCarthy has sharply reduced the number of municipal employees allowed to take home city-owned vehicles in a bid to save money;

* Staff writer and investigative reporter Matt Carroll's comprehensive list of special education costs by city and town;

* Staff writer Meg Woolhouse's story on how disgraced former Newton Elections Commissioner Peter Karg is running for a seat on the board of aldermen, and;

* Staff writer John Drake's report on how small grants doled out by a Natick-based nonprofit are making a big difference in people's lives.

For a complete listing of all stories in today's Globe West, visit the section online at

Planning council urges "smart growth" in region

Posted July 19, 2007 11:19 AM


Traffic jams. Water shortages. McMansions on former fields and country roads.

That's the recipe for the future in Boston's western suburbs unless officials adopt so-called "smart growth" planning that steers development into town centers and around mass transit hubs, a study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has found.

The regional planning agency's "MetroFuture" plan forecasts a wave of growth in Greater Boston between now and 2030. Almost half a million more residents will arrive in the area if current trends continue, the plan says. Those people would produce 240,000 jobs and need more than 300,000 new housing units. Their arrival would also trigger growth that might pave over more than 150,000 acres of farms, forests, and other open space, Globe correspondent John Dyer reports in the online edition of today's Globe West.

To blunt the force of that wave, planners suggest building more apartments, town houses, and condominiums in town centers, above shops, and on lots about a quarter-acre in size. The plan also recommends converting industrial properties into studios and small businesses, and new conservation efforts to save water.

The plan describes two destinies for Boston's western suburbs, one where towns adopt the council's suggestions and one where they let today's trends continue unabated.

Under current trends in the western suburbs, the plan says, the new houses and businesses needed to keep up with population growth by 2030 would translate on average into a loss of more than 1,000 acres of open space per town and a gain on average of more than 1,600 housing units.

If western suburban towns adopt the council's suggestions, the plan forecasts the average town would lose less than 250 acres of open space and gain an average of 1,500 new housing units that would likely be built in tight clusters.

Read more about the recommendations in today's Globe West.

How GREEN is your grass?

Posted June 24, 2007 09:45 AM

Dot Casey at the Home Depot in Natick


Dot Casey sold $1.7 million worth of Scotts products out of the Natick Home Depot last year. Her biggest seller — the Lawn Pro 4-Step chemical fertilizer-herbicide-pesticide program.

But when the garden center manager's orange apron comes off and she wheels a spreader over her own yard in Framingham, she uses Milorganite, a fertilizer made out of recycled municipal sludge from Wisconsin. For her vegetables, she uses Terracycle Garden Fertilizer, a product packaged in used 16-ounce soda bottles whose primary ingredient is worm manure.

"You should have seen my tomatoes last year, they were like this," the 58-year-old Casey said recently, holding her hands as if she were cupping a softball. "I'm one of those green people. I have to be. ..... I have grandchildren and dogs and a brand-new puppy."

The suburban lawn has always been a symbol of all that is good about living outside the city — the antithesis of paved-over urban life, a chance to own a little patch of the natural world. Yet over the years, the lawn itself — created through the liberal application of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides — has evolved into something roughly as natural as a pink-plastic flamingo, Globe West staff writer and web producer Ralph Ranalli reports.

Now some homeowners are questioning whether having a lawn that looks like a fairway at the Charles River Country Club is worth having to worry about the potential effects of herbicides and pesticides on their children, their pets, and the environment.

They're looking to maintain their lawns organically — and organic lawn-care lines like Cockadoodle DOO are now outselling the classic Scotts' four-step synthetic lawn treatment program at some local independent garden centers.

You can read more about the organic lawn care trend in Globe West online, view a photo gallery with more information, or listen to an audio clip of the Needham Garden Center's Gary Graham explaining how he keeps his lawn both green and eco-friendly.

Also in today's Globe West

Posted June 21, 2007 09:55 AM

Research technician Brita Jessen rakes grass and wildflower plots on a Waltham farm run by the University of Massachusetts, where researchers are simulating the effects of global warming.
(Photo by Aram Boghosian for the Boston Globe)


On the cover of the Thursday edition of Globe West, correspondent Mark Baard reports on a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston who will spend five years simulating future climatic conditions on an old farm in Waltham.

Also in today's edition:

Staff writer Meg Woolhouse reports that the MBTA is floating the idea of a mixed-use development near the Riverside Green Line station, and is making neighbors nervous.

Staff writer Lisa Kocian sheds light on a proposal by the superintendent of Marlborough's school district to crack down on students who attend its schools but do not live in the city.

Staff writer John Drake describes how organizers of Monday night's town forum with more than 300 Brazilian residents called the gathering historic and said they would meet today to discuss ways to address concerns that were presented. And...

Correspondent Alison O'Leary Murray gives Globe West readers a heads up about a warning from local health officials that 2007 could be a particularly bad year for rabies.

Read these stories and many more in the online edition of today's Globe West.

More area schools make 'America's Best High Schools' list

Posted June 18, 2007 11:09 PM


The list keeps growing. When Newsweek originally posted its 2007 "America's Best High Schools" list in May, six schools from Boston's western suburbs made the cut. Since then, the magazine has continued to update the list online as more schools send in their data, and two more area schools have been added: Hopkinton High School, ranked 651st, and Framingham High School, ranked 944th.

The overall list nationwide has grown to 1,327 schools, causing the standings of other area schools to shift. Currently, Dover-Sherborn is ranked 134th, Weston High School 196th, Wellesley High School 504th, Wayland High School 718th, Newton South High School 749th, and Needham High School 1,085th. The state’s highest-ranking school is Sturgis Charter Public School of Hyannis, which ranked 54th.

Schools were evaluated based on only one factor: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at the school in 2006 divided by the number of graduating seniors. Some critics consider the criteria too narrow, but Newsweek reports that research studies have shown that passing scores on AP exams are a predictor of college success.

Scores from 27,000 public schools were reviewed, which places schools on the list in the top 5 percent of public schools nationally.

--Denise Taylor

Still in the driver's seat

Posted June 18, 2007 11:29 AM



(AARP driver safety instructor Harold Homefield of Sudbury. Photo credit: Bill Polo/Globe Staff

By the year 2029, one in four drivers on the roads will be 65 or older. This could have serious safety implications -- older drivers have more accidents and are more likely to be killed in a crash than younger ones.

Some local seniors are trying to turn back the clock and retraining themselves to be keener drivers by taking refresher safety courses from the AARP.

Read Sunday's Globe West for more of the story...

- Erica Noonan

Local schools go green

Posted June 13, 2007 02:57 PM


Several local schools won 'Green Team' awards from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs following a program to reduce pollution and protect the environment.

The Globe West area schools honored were:

  • Berlin Middle School in Berlin
  • Fowler School in Maynard
  • Marion E. Zeh School in Northborough
  • Melican Middle School in Northborough
  • Beatrice H. Wood School in Plainville
  • James Fitzgerald Elementary School in Waltham
  • Hemenway School in Framingham
  • Mary E. Stapleton School in Framingham

Schools that won awards received recycling equipment to make their individual programs more effective.

-- Adam Sell

Seeking closure

Posted June 10, 2007 10:26 AM

After Assumption Parish in Bellingham closed, parishioners joined St. Blaise and have made its community stronger, Pastor Michael Kearney says.
(Photo by Rose Lincoln for the Boston Globe)


As he looked out over the sea of faces in the packed hall where members of the St. Blaise community had gathered, Bert Galipeau couldn't help but smile.

Two years earlier, as head of the closure committee for Assumption Parish, he had overseen the heartbreaking move of the statues of the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph, St. Ann, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Blaise, another Bellingham parish 5 miles away. He could still remember the looks of pain and reproach from his fellow parishioners at Assumption, who were being asked to join St. Blaise -- and the looks of wariness and suspicion at St. Blaise.

But the faces of the members of the combined parish last weekend were full of warmth and joy as they marked the 25th anniversary of the ordination of their popular pastor, the Rev. Michael J. Kearney.

"For the first time," said Galipeau, a 66-year-old retired technology executive, "I saw one parish, not two. It was like getting married all over again."

In May 2004, the Archdiocese of Boston announced it would radically reconfigure its parishes in order to address demographic shifts, a shortage of priests, and the huge financial deficits caused by settlements from the clergy abuse scandal. In Boston's western suburbs, 10 parishes were closed, merged with other parishes, or had their parish status downgraded.

In the aftermath, thousands of local Catholics had their religious lives turned upside down, according to a story on the cover of today's Globe West. By archdiocesan estimates, as many as 20 percent of parishioners in closed or merged parishes have either stopped attending Mass or have become so-called "roaming Catholics," who continue to attend church but have not registered as members of a new parish.

Check out the story online or view a photo gallery showing how local Catholics are adapting to life after reconfiguration.

Also in today's Globe West

Posted June 10, 2007 10:22 AM

State Representative Kay Khan (right) wants the MBTA to make Newton's threadbare Commuter Rail stations accessible to the disabled.
(Globe staff photo by Mark Wilson)


Also in today's Globe West:

Megan Woolhouse reports that state Representative Kay Khan is pushing for legislation that would require the MBTA to make Newton's three commuter-rail stations accessible to the disabled, saying that current conditions are unfair and unacceptable.

Correspondent Susan Chaityn Lebovits profiles Waltham poet Jennifer Rose.

Correspondent Kyle Alspach previews tomorrow's big Town Meeting vote in Hopkinton,where residents will decide whether the town should spend $30.5 million to buy about 710 acres of undeveloped land or allow it to be sold to a developer who wants to build a shopping center and more than 900 homes.

Correspondent Calvin Hennick reports that Medfield officials, anticipating a building boom, are seeking ways to limit painful increases in residents' already swollen tax bills.

Click on any of the links above to read the stories or got to the Globe West main page for a complete lineup of news from Boston's western suburbs.

On the tourney trail

Posted June 4, 2007 10:42 AM


A look at today's high school state tournament action:
With the wet weather likely washing out a heavy slate on the local diamonds and tennis courts this afternoon, our attention turns to the volleyball court, where the unbeaten Lincoln-Sudbury boys volleyball team (21-0) takes on Natick (19-1) in the Central final at Xaverian Brothers in Westwood at 7.

In the final game of the regular season on May 21, Drew Corwin delivered 19 kills as L-S handed Natick its first loss of the season, 3-1 (16-25, 25-21, 25-21 and 25-19). The Redmen had a difficult time handling Corwin's thunderous jump serves.

With just four seniors, Lincoln-Sudbury has made a remarkable turnaround from last year's 4-14 campaign. Under Peter Suxho, Natick is attempting to return to the state final for the second consecutive season.

Highlighting the top performances from Sunday's state tournament action:
* Bryant Guilmette, Hopkinton baseball: Junior southpaw tossed a four-hitter as the Hillers blanked host Dighton-Rehoboth in a Division 2 South first-round game. Batterymate Matt Collins plated the game's only run with a fourth-inning double
* Josh Lurier and Josh Hurwitz, Westborough boys' tennis: Frosh and junior roll at second and third singles, respectively in a 4-1 Division 1 Central quarterfinal win over Shrewsbury. The unbeaten Rangers (19-0) host Algonquin in a semifinal match this afternoon.

Other highlights from the weekend:
* Led by sensational junior Dana Jamieson, the Lincoln-Sudbury girls' track team captured its second straight All-State title, edging Bromfield 48-32, in Holyoke. Jamieson won the 400, leaped to a second in the long jump and anchored the victorious 4x400 relay team. Teammate Molly Binder added the 800-meter title.

* Framingham senior Jordan Maddocks cleared 6 feet, 7 inches to win the high jump title and Newton South sophomore Bridget Dahlberg went the distance to capture the mile.

* Three other area relay teams beat the field: the Newton North girls' 4x800 in a record-setting clocking of 9:15.13; Newton North's 4x100 quartet, keyed by a blazing run from Cailean Robinson in the third leg.

* The Newton North boys' volleyball team won its second straight South title, defeating New Bedford 3-0, to advance to the state semifinals. The Tigers (13-6) will play the winner of tonight's Agawam/Belchertown match on Thursday.

-- Craig Larson

Coffee with Beverly

Posted May 27, 2007 07:21 AM



For years, Globe regional columnist Beverly Beckham has carried on a friendly, warm, and engaging conversation with her readers. Now we've decided to make her popular podcast reflect that, too.

"The Beverly Beckham Podcast" is now "Coffee with Beverly." In the new format, Beverly and longtime friend and Globe West web producer Ralph Ranalli get together over a cup 'o joe and talk about her column, issues of the day, and the nuances of whatever caffeinated beverage is on tap for that morning.

Take a listen to this week's episode. Or you can subscribe to the podcast via RSS or iTunes.

-- Ralph Ranalli

When your backyard attacks

Posted May 27, 2007 07:04 AM

Summer ticks some people off
(AP photo)


Critter bites can range from itchy and annoying to debilitating or even fatal. But what lurks in the backyard that actually should be feared?

"That an animal can do us harm, it's an innate fear that goes way back," said Robert Buchsbaum, a naturalist with the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Wenham. "People get really concerned."

The answer is -- the creatures that transmit diseases, though rare, such as rabies, West Nile, and Eastern equine encephalitis, which vie for the status as public enemy number one. No bug is more despised (except, perhaps, the mosquito) than the deer tick, which carries Lyme and other diseases, Globe West correspondent Ann Butler reports in a front-of-the-section story today.

"One of the most insidious things about ticks is that they love the same landscape we do," said Stephen Rich, a medical entomologist who heads the diagnostic lab for tick assessment at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "We like yards with nice shrubs that border woodlands and so do they. They're perfect tick and deer habitats."

According to Rich, 40 to 60 percent of ticks in the state are infected with the bacterium that causes Lyme disease.

Read Ann's story and check out a photo gallery of animals around us that can be dangerous or just plain annoying.

Newsweek’s “Best High Schools” list includes six area schools

Posted May 24, 2007 06:46 AM

Needham High's new rallying cry: "We're No. 1,028!"
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Six schools in Globe West have made Newsweek’s newly released 2007 “America’s Best High Schools” list, including Dover-Sherborn High School, which ranked second highest in the state.

Of the over 1200 public schools on the list, Dover-Sherborn ranked 127th, Weston High School 186th, Wellesley High School 487th, Wayland High School 686th, Newton South High School 714th, and Needham High School 1028th. The state’s highest ranking school was Boston Latin School, which at 76th was the only Massachusetts school to make the top 100.

Rankings are based on only one factor: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students at a school in 2006 divided by the number of graduating seniors. Newsweek reports that while some critics consider the criteria too narrow, research studies have shown that passing scores on AP exams are a predictor of college success.

Scores from 27,000 public schools were reviewed, meaning schools included on the list are in the top 5% of public schools nationally. Three schools fell off the list from last year: Hopkinton High School, Newton North High School, and Holliston High School.

-- Denise Taylor

UFDBs (Unidentified Flying Double-Bogeys)

Posted May 21, 2007 09:55 AM

Could the UFOs spotted by the Mexican air force in March have just been a golf tournament at the Campeche Country Club?
(Reuters image)


If you see glowing orbs whizzing around the sky in Stow next Friday night, don't panic or rush to the phone to call the nice US Air Force folks at Area 51.

Golfers will be using special glow-in-the-dark balls as part of a night time tournament to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. The MS GlowBall tornament at the Stow Acres Country Club is being organized by Southborough woman whose sister is afflicted with the disease.

Michelle Labich also organized a town-wide yard sale to raise money for MS research and will soon participate in four separate bike rides to raise funds. The tournament will kick off at 5:30 p.m. with dinner, music and a cash bar and continue with a silent auction, raffle and dancing. Golf will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $100 for golfers and $50 for party-goers. All proceeds will go to the Central New England chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Anyone seeking more information is urged to contact the organizers by e-mail or call 508-460-1204.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Contest sets RTA branding in motion

Posted May 18, 2007 02:29 PM

This is the winning logo, created by a Foxboro High School student.
(Courtesy MetroWest RTA)

The MetroWest Regional Transit Authority will consider naming the new multi-town bus system "MetroWest Motion," after the phrase beat out others in a community contest.

Foxboro High School student Daniel Brooks won a $1,000 prize for coming up with the name.

As for a slogan, the board awarded a $500 prize to James Feather of Framingham for his offering "Ride With the Best in MetroWest."

The board could ultimately decide to go with the contest winners, alter them, or choose an entirely different brand for the bus system.

The MetroWest RTA, which plans to begin rolling on July 1, currently consists of Framingham, Ashland, Hopkinton, Holliston, Sudbury, and Natick. Also considering joining are Marlborough, Sherborn, and Stow, along with other towns hoping to expand local bus service and save money that currently goes to the MBTA.

-- John C. Drake

Threatening skies

Posted May 16, 2007 01:30 PM


The National Weather Service this afternoon issued a tornado warning to parts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the Globe reports. This warning includes Worcester county.

The alert, which is in effect through 6 p.m., also includes Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties.

Severe thunderstorm warnings for Middlesex and Worcester counties expired within the last half hour.

-- Adam Sell

Gas prices top $3 per gallon locally -- again

Posted May 3, 2007 05:00 PM


Okay, so it's not this bad -- yet
(Gas prices at a San Francisco station last month, AP Photo by Jeff Chiu)


That giant sucking sound you hear is your money going into your gas tank.

The price for a gallon of gas has once again crept above $3.00 at some area stations, according to spotter reports posted on

That's a substantial amount above a low of $2.16 that we saw in early February, AAA reports. The average price has been rising ever since.

The gas prices website reports that gas is sold at one station in Holliston for $3.04 and at stations in Milford and Franklin for $3.01.

AAA recommends that drivers shop around for the best-priced gas to save money.

-- Adam Sell

Hammond Street in Newton: the nicest for miles around

Posted May 1, 2007 02:54 PM


Do you live on one of the best streets in Boston's western suburbs?

In a ranking by Boston magazine, Hammond Street in Newton held the top spot; Cottage Street in Wellesley ranked second; and Salem End Road in Framingham ranked fifth.

Also on the 15-street list were Pelham Island Road in Wayland, Fair Oaks Park in Needham, Hiilside Road in Franklin, Cedarwood Avenue in Waltham, and Stoneleigh Road in Watertown.

The magazine said it ranked streets based on aesthetics, environment, amenities, public services, affordability, and transit.

-- Adam Sell

A high level of blogginess in Newton and Watertown

Posted April 26, 2007 02:50 PM


There's a high level of blogginess in Newton and Watertown.

At least that’s what people think over at, a website that aggregates blog postings and news at the city and neighborhood level.

In their just-released list of ‘‘America’s Top 10 Bloggiest Neighborhoods,’’ ranked Newton fourth and Watertown seventh. They were the only two communities in Massachusetts to make the list.

Clinton Hill, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., was ranked No. 1, followed by the District of Columbia’s Shaw section and downtown Los Angeles.

The site, which says it tracks local bloggers in ‘‘over 3,000 neighborhoods,’’ based its rankings on a number of criteria, including the total numbers of posts, total number of local bloggers, and total number of comments on postings made by blog readers.

Read more about the blogginess of the two communities in Sunday's Cyberscenes column in Globe West.

Battling the bloodsuckers

Posted April 24, 2007 04:40 PM


Just the kind of bug you want hanging around your ankle
(Globe file photo)

Helicopters are flitting around today over Bellingham, Medfield, and Millis. Why all the annoying buzzing? To reduce the amount of those other buzzing, biting annoyances -- mosquitoes.

The drenching rains earlier this month have spawned a bumper crop of mosquitoes, including aggressive breeds not usually encountered until summer, the director of the Norfolk County Mosquito Control Project said today.

As a result, the Norfolk mosquito control district has expanded its annual springtime spraying, said district director John Smith. Two helicopters took to the air today, dropping pellets containing a widely used pesticide that is favored by mosquito-control specialists because it kills bugs before they reach adulthood. Public health specialists believe the pesticide does not present a significant threat to the environment.

The helicopters this morning targeted Norwood, Canton, and Bellingham, and this afternoon moved to Medfield and Millis. On Wednesday, the helicopters are expected to shift to central Norfolk County and, on Thursday, Dedham, Quincy, and Weymouth.

The springtime treatments are usually restricted to wetlands, but because of the recent soaking rains they have been expanded to the flood plain of the Charles and Neponset rivers, Smith said. The current spraying is largely intended to limit the emergence of nuisance mosquitoes, as opposed to treatments later in the year, which are aimed at limiting the spread of diseases spread by mosquitoes, such as West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis.

Even with about 12,000 acres treated, Smith said he still expects some mosquitoes to escape -- including the more aggressive summer breeds.

"This is unusual to have a summer mosquito emergence in April," Smith said. "So people better be ready with some repellent in mid-May, just about the time the barbecues come out."

-- Stephen Smith

Myriad moments from the Marathon

Posted April 18, 2007 03:48 PM


A smile. An outstretched hand. A special moment in the Boston Marathon.

Eight-year-old Perry Licht offered orange slices to weary Boston Marathon runners as they climbed Heartbreak Hill in Newton on Monday.

This is just one of dozens of Marathon moments captured by Globe photographers that can be viewed at's Marathon site.

Principal: 'extra step' not taken before stabbing

Posted March 28, 2007 09:07 AM


The principal and superintendent of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School said yesterday that school personnel who confiscated weapons last year from a sophomore accused of stabbing another student to death in January should have taken an additional step to report it to authorities.

John M. Ritchie told the school board in a meeting last night that he didn't think that there was "flagrant neglect, disregard for the welfare of the school, or irresponsible ignoring of school policy."

Still, he said, "Some additional effort had to be made that wasn't made to determine whether this was a pattern, to call it to someone's attention, to determine whether it was completely innocent."

"That was where people did not execute reasonable expectation on my part," Ritchie said. "I think that in a school setting with safety being of paramount concern to us, an extra step had to be taken."

Ritchie did not single out any school staff, and he declined to say whether disciplinary action would be taken, citing confidentiality.

John Odgren, 16, has been arraigned on first-degree murder charges in the death of James Alenson, 15. On Monday, a state-hired psychologist testified in court that Odgren is competent to stand trial.

The Globe has previously reported that Odgren showed a pocketknife and a toy gun to a psychologist on two different occasions last year.

In both instances, the psychologist confiscated the weapons and then gave them back to Odgren on the same day, according to Sudbury Police Chief Peter Fadgen.

Ritchie has said he was not told of either incident, but Fadgen has said the psychologist did report the information to his supervisor.

Ritchie has said the psychologist was employed by the Concord Area Special Education Collaborative, a separate program that placed him at Lincoln-Sudbury. Odgren was technically a student in that program.

-- Kristen Green

State lawmakers pressured for school aid

Posted March 28, 2007 07:05 AM


For all its traffic headaches and other issues, commercial development in Natick has always had a silver lining: it has helped the town avoid overrides.

But now, like municipalities across the state, Natick is putting the pressure on state lawmakers for more aid to fund rising school costs, reporter Lisa Wangsness reports in today's City & Region section.

Representative David Paul Linsky said town officials figured out a way to avoid a $1.9 million override vote this year, but expect to face a $4 million to $5 million budget gap and an override vote next year. It's a very unusual situation, he said.

"It's finally catching up with us," Linsky said.

Local contestants in robot competition

Posted March 25, 2007 03:22 PM



It sounds like a cross between a NASCAR race, Mardi Gras, and a Star Trek convention.

The Boston FIRST robotics competition, which attracted entries from high schools around the area, concluded yesterday after three days.

Joshua Freier of Shrewsbury High School, was a contestant in the event, which inspired many students to dress in odd, colorful clothing. Globe staff photographer Wendy Maeda caught him in all his finery.

Faces of the future

Posted March 23, 2007 12:45 PM


METCO students who received a special award for essays they wrote on "How METCO Transformed My Life" were all smiles yesterday at the State House in this photo by Globe staff photographer Joanne Rathe.

The picture shows, from left to right, Anthony Cheung, a sixth-grader from Brookline; Melissa Solomon, a third-grader in Lexington; Koinonia Howard, a third-grader in Weston; and Sayawni Lassiter, a second-grader in Newton.

They're a-workin' on the railroad

Posted March 22, 2007 07:00 AM


The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad, which runs the Commuter Rail for the MBTA, has issued two dire warnings yesterday for riders of the Worcester and Rockport commuter lines.

For the Worcester-Framingham line, CSX work is expected to delay trains up to 30 minutes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The delays are expected to affect inbound trains P518, P520, P522, P524, P526 and outbound trains P509, P511, P513, P515 and P517.

For the Newburyport-Rockport-Beverly line out of North Station, construction work by MassHighway will create delays on the line through March 28th. The Massachusetts Highway Department is removing a bridge abutment and retaining wall between Beverly and Salem, causing 12 to 15 minute delays between those two stations.

-- Mac Daniel

Truck driver killed in fiery crash

Posted March 13, 2007 08:40 AM


A truck driver was killed overnight when two tractor-trailers crashed on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Hopkinton, State Police reported.

The two tractor-trailers were traveling near the Hopkinton-Westborough town line at about 11:19 p.m. when a cargo truck rear-ended a car carrier, police said. The cargo truck burst into flames and the driver was unable to escape. Police did not release the driver's name.

The operator of the car-carrier, Tyronne Gadsen, 44, of Charlotte, N.C. was not injured. Officials said the crash remains under investigation.

The crash forced the closure of the westbound lanes for three hours. The left lane of the westbound Mass. Pike opened at about 2 a.m., but other lanes remains closed into the morning rush.

-- Globe City & Region staff

This story was first reported in the Local News Updates blog.

Jodi Picoult is on the Great Writers Podcast

Posted March 12, 2007 10:06 AM



Bestselling author Jodi Picoult thought she had dotted all the "i"s and crossed the "t"s when she offered her new book, "Nineteen Minutes," to three high schools as a teaching tool prior to publication.

In order for the schools to get the book -- which is about a school shooting, bullying, and alienation -- it would have to be taught and used as catalyst for teacher-led discussion about the issues it raised. Picoult said she wanted a "safe place" for the book to be taught.

But then fate intervened and controversy ensued anyway. At Newton South, students were in the middle of reading the book when a student at nearby Lincoln-Sudbury High School stabbed another student to death. Then, a miscommunication between the head of the English Department and the principal at the high school in Picoult's home town of Hanover, N.H. led to the book behing pulled from that school.

Picoult appeared recently for an author event at Newtonville Books, which is participating in the Globe's ongoing Great Writers Podcast. Producer Ralph Ranalli recorded Picoult reading a selection of her book to a packed house, then answering questions about the research that went into it and the controversy.

You can listen to the episode here or subscribe to the podcast via RSS or iTunes.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Accused drunk driver jailed without bail pending trial for failing alcohol test

Posted March 12, 2007 09:47 AM


A former Hopkinton woman charged with motor vehicle homicide for the death of a 21-year-old Shrewsbury man last fall is being held without bail for failing a sobriety test.

Alison J. Voorhis was ordered held without bail after she registered a .126 percent blood alcohol level on a breathalyzer last Thursday, according to Tim Connolly, spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr.

Voorhis is scheduled to return to court on March 27 for a pre-trial hearing. A jury trial is scheduled for May 11 in which the 47-year-old is accused of driving drunk when she slammed head-on into an Audi driven by Evagelos Pashos, a senior at Northeastern University. Pashos was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

Voorhis was ordered to stay away from alcohol and wear an electronic monitoring bracelet after she showed up late to Westborough District Court on Feb. 26, Connolly said. A warrant was issued for her arrest on Feb. 20 when she failed to appear in court, but the judge gave her until Feb. 26 to show up before she would be arrested.

Voorhis has since moved from Hopkinton, but her new address was impounded with the rest of the case by Judge Vito A. Virzi last Friday. Voorhis’ Ashland attorney, Angelo Catanzaro, did not return a call seeking comment.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Shaking the dust out of the old noggin

Posted March 11, 2007 06:53 AM


There were no big themes out there in the local blogosphere over the last fortnight, just a lot of bloggers musing and meandering. It almost had the feel of people airing out their cranial closets as we all wait for the warmer weather; a mental spring cleaning if you will . . .

Oh, wait. I guess that's a theme.

Over in Wellesley, the Swellesley Report had the skinny on where you could pick up some good stuff cheap that may or may not have been stolen from one of your neighbors, an online auction site called

"That's where the Police Department has been sending unclaimed items from its collection of lost and stolen goods for the past 4 years," the blogger wrote, quoting Sue Morse , the department's keeper of records. "The California-based Web business, started in 1999 by a former police detective, sends back half of whatever it makes on the auctioned items and the money -- $3,000-$4,000 for the Wellesley Police Department to date -- goes into the town's general fund."

In Newton, our old friend the Reluctant Housewife was giving us a primer in how pregnancy hormones and the real estate market aren't necessarily a good mix. It seems that Roxanna , the blogger, and her husband have procrastinated a bit on their home-buying and are still out there looking, even though she's due in the first week of April.

"Thing is, I'm so high on pregnancy hormones that when I see a house with ugly wallpaper and dirty carpets, I take it personally," she wrote in a March 5 post. "I left a house in TEARS on Saturday because the master bath had pink and yellow tile and the owners had pink Kleenex and toilet paper, which means that they chose to highlight the pinkness ON PURPOSE and can't they see how cruel that is? (To my credit, we had just seen a house where the agent used the words 'asbestos' and 'high lead levels' and 'frozen pipes' and 'great place to raise your boys' in the same sentence. So you see, my emotions were a little raw for good reason."

Read more of Ralph Ranalli's Cyberscenes column in today's Globe West.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Darfur crusader hits the hustings

Posted March 6, 2007 09:14 AM

Alan Greenfield and his wife Claudia in front of their Needham home.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Alan Greenfield's one-man crusade to save Darfur has graduated from placing signs to public speaking.

The Needham man, who initiated a sign campaign to raise awareness of genocide in Darfur will speak in area towns over the next few weeks about the ongoing genocide in the war-torn region of western Sudan.

Greenfield formed the Needham Darfur Initiative, and has paid for more than 20 banners and more than 200 lawn signs to be placed on churches, synagogues, schools, businesses and houses in is hometown of Needham, where he runs a dog-walking business.

Now Greenfield has joined the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur as a speaker, to talk about how one person came make a difference. Greenfield is scheduled to speak to students at Wellesley High School next Wednesday, March 14; serve as a panelist in forum hosted by a group called “Discovering What’s Next” next Thursday, March 15 at the Newton Free Library; and share his story with Congregation Bnai Shalom in Westborough at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 23.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Great Writers is back!

Posted March 4, 2007 11:20 AM

Michael Thomas.jpg
Author Michael Thomas, photographed in Allston, where he was born. He moved to Newton in the fifth grade and graduated from Newton North High School.
(Globe Staff photo by Suzanne Kreiter)


The Great Writers Podcast is back, with a new episode this week featuring a reading at Newtonville Books by Newton North High School grad Michael Thomas from his critically-acclaimed novel "Man Gone Down."

The podcast was on hiatus for two months due to the sale of the bookstore, but a full slate of live-recorded author events is on tap for the next several months. Next week: Jodi Picoult, author of the acclaimed and controversial "Nineteen Minutes."

"Man Gone Down" is the first novel for Thomas, who now lives in New York City and teaches creative writing at Hunter College. It's the story of a young African-American husband and father, down on his luck, desperately trying to make enough money to hold his family together while battling traumatic memories of childhood and witnessing the Sept. 11 attacks.

In a featured review, the New York Times Book Review called Thomas's work "an impressive success."

You can listen to the podcast on's Podcast Page or subscribe to the series via RSS or iTunes. You can also read more about Thomas in David Mehegan's recent profile in the Globe's Living/Arts Section.

-- Ralph Ranalli


Posted March 1, 2007 05:05 PM

AquaDog 6.jpg

Bailey, a 15-year-old golden retriever gets some help getting out of the pool after an exercise swim at Aqua Dog in Waltham
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)


Weary of long walks in the cold? You might be. And your dog might be, too.

So take the pooch for a warm swim at Aqua Dog, a dog pool in Waltham. It's a great place for dog paddling, Globe West reports today.

And don't miss the slide show showing Bailey's recent workout.

Catching rays while the sun shines

Posted March 1, 2007 04:12 PM

sun weather.jpg

The morning may have been sunny, but the forecast is forbidding for tonight and tomorrow.

Chestnut Hill Star Market deli manager Al Bolzani of Millis took advantage of the warm temperatures earlier today to take a break outside of the store.

Globe staff photographer Essdras Suarez caught the moment.

Protesters denounce the war in court appearance

Posted February 28, 2007 03:02 PM

peace arrest2.jpg

Lewis Randa, director of Sherborn's Peace Abbey, puts bands with names of soldiers killed in Iraq on crosses in front of District Court in Natick before making a court appearance with four others who were arrested during a recent war protest in Sherborn.
(Globe Staff Photo by Joanne Rathe)


One by one, in a packed but hushed courtroom, five protesters denounced the war in Iraq yesterday, as they accepted their punishment for blocking traffic in Sherborn in an act of civil disobedience.

In one of five statements read politely at Natick District Court, Lewis Randa, 59, of Sherborn called the war "illegal and immoral" as he addressed Judge Sarah Singer.

Sarah Fuhro, 65, of Natick, the mother of an Army Reserve soldier who recently returned from Iraq, pleaded "to stop the killing and maiming of our soldiers and the Iraqi people."

Louise Coleman, 62, of Sherborn, said, "I have to do whatever I can to stop this out-of-control, insane war."

After all defendants pleaded no contest to charges of disturbing the peace, Sherborn police Sergeant Michael McLaughlin, the town's police prosecutor, clapped Randa on the shoulder and wished him well, the Globe reports today.

-- Brian McQuarrie

Patrick backs permanent Fast Lane discount

Posted February 27, 2007 02:52 PM

Governor Deval Patrick
(Globe staff photo by Pat Greenhouse)


Governor Deval Patrick's administration said yesterday it wants to make permanent the Massachusetts Turnpike's Fast Lane discounts, counted on by thousands of suburban commuters on their daily trips to and from Boston, transportation writer Mac Daniel writes in today's Globe.

Facing a bleak financial outlook that includes a $2.1 billion debt, Turnpike Authority staff late last year recommended ending the discount. It saves commuters 25 cents off the $1 toll at the Allston-Brighton toll booths and 50 cents off the $3 tolls at the Sumner and Ted Williams tunnels, but costs the state $12.2 million a year.

In two months, however, the political and financial equation has changed dramatically.

Lawmakers representing motorists in Boston's western suburbs protested vehemently, arguing that the authority did not have the legal power to scuttle the discount program. This month, Patrick killed a proposal to end all tolls west of Route 128, which would have cost the Turnpike Authority about $114 million a year in lost revenue.

"The administration supports the Fast Lane discount program, and [Transportation Secretary Bernard] Cohen will be working with the turnpike board to construct a long-term solution," Kyle Sullivan, Patrick's spokesman, said yesterday.

To sleep, perchance to have dinner with the family

Posted February 26, 2007 09:38 AM


In her book "On Death and Dying ," Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Traveling through the blogosphere over the last year, Cyberscenes has observed what could be called the five stages of blogging.

The first four are: Stage 1: enthusiasm; Stage 2: fatigue; Stage 3: guilt; and Stage 4: existential crisis. Stage 5 is either a) continued blogging or b) cyber-death, depending on what happens in Stage 4. While grief is largely a private affair, blogging is by definition a public one, so we the audience get to see these five-stage dramas unfold. This month, two local blogs were either in or nearing Stage 4.

In Waltham, the Borderline blog was deep in existential crisis mode. In a Jan. 27, posting titled "Rethinking Borderline: Should I continue this blog?" the blogger lamented both how difficult it is to find good postings and the apparent unpopularity of some recent posts.

"I'm writing this post right now at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night," the post stated. "So blogging is taking away from my free time, which I could otherwise be spending with my family, or doing other more productive things around the house, or just relaxing."

At the end, Borderline left the to-blog-or-not-to-blog question up to his audience. "So what should I do? Sell it? Take a break? Open it up to other writers? Give it up?"

Read more in the latest Cyberscenes column in Globe West.

-- Ralph Ranalli

P.S. If you know of a good local blog in the Globe West area that you think deserves some attention, pleased e-mail Cyberscenes about it.

A day in the life of a hospital

Posted February 25, 2007 08:38 AM

8:35 p.m.: Child Life Specialist Kim Gannon blows bubbles for for 19-month-old Ben Wertheim, who came into the Pediatric Emergency Department with a high fever, as he sits on his mother Jodie's lap.
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


A large hospital is like a city within a city. It has its own rhythms, a workday, a night life, and a vast array of citizens -- from professionals to floor cleaners to engineers to volunteers, from wealthy to poor, and, of course, from the sick and the healthy.

Globe West reporter and web producer Ralph Ranalli and photographer Bill Polo spent 16 hours at Newton-Wellesley Hospital earlier this month, capturing the sights, sounds and stories of a typical day in a story and an audio slideshow.

A Day in the Life of a Hospital is the third in Globe West's yearlong Day in the Life Series.

In the fall, Ranalli and Polo captured the music and art and passion that occur during A Day in the Life of a Cultural Center at the Newton Cultural Center in Newtonville.

Last summer, Ranalli, Polo, and fellow photographer Josh Reynolds chronicled A Day in the Life of a Park at Albemarle Park, the hub of swimming, baseball, summer camp and other hot-weather activity in Newton.

Up in smoke

Posted February 22, 2007 07:32 AM

The Wheelabrator smokestack, as seen from Shrewsbury
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


The Wheelabrator incinerator in Millbury, burning 24 hours a day, is the last stop for trash from most communities in the western suburbs.

Forty miles away in Newton, the average resident stoked the fire with 722 pounds of refuse in 2005. Newton sent something else to Wheelabrator as well -- more than $3 million in fees. That's too much money going up in smoke, according to a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the mayor to study the city's finances.

"While Newton was once in the forefront of recycling, it has now fallen behind," said the committee's report, which was released late last month. "Newton could derive substantial financial advantage by reducing the amount of trash and increasing the amount of recycling."

Newton is not alone in looking for ways to reduce its trash disposal expenses. Two dozen area communities could be saving money under a program promoted by the state Department of Environmental Protection as a way to reduce the amount of trash hauled to landfills or burned in Wheelabrator's waste-to-energy operation.

Read more about waste involving municipal waste in Megan Woolhouse's story in today's Globe West.

Bad (pipe) dream

Posted February 21, 2007 07:31 AM


Public Works officials have a message for drivers that is probably redundant for anyone who regularly uses Route 128: Expect delays along the section of the highway running through Needham.

Next month, contractors will begin a $3 million reconstruction four water mains running underneath the Kendrick Street Bridge and the east side of Route 128.

Town Engineer Tony DelGaizo said the project includes straightening out the water mains that zig-zag under the highway. The reconstruction will reduce the number of pipe breakages near the highway, he said.

Residents will start seeing black-coated steel pipes laid out along town roadways. Officials will send out permission slips to homeowners whose properties must be accessed by contractors to complete the project, said DelGaizo. The construction mostly will affect residents of Gould Street, Crawford Street, Hunting Road, Sachem Road, David Road, and Kendrick Street.

The construction is expected to be completed by July 2008.

-– Lauren K. Meade

Better Business Bureau email may not be what you think

Posted February 15, 2007 02:08 PM



Someone in cyberspace is trying to pull some funny business with the Better Business Bureau.

Area companies are receiving fraudulent emails claiming to be from the Bureau, a spokeswoman for the organization says.

The emails, which come from the address, say that the Bureau has received a complaint about the business.

The emails contain a link to supposed documents that relate to the case. But Paula Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Bureau that covers eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont, said the organization feared the link was actually a mechanism to spread a computer virus.

"We are telling people not to take the risk by clicking on the link," Fleming said.

"It is deceiving," she added. "It does look like an email from us."

Fleming said her office in Natick has fielded dozens of calls from people confused about the emails.

The fraudulent emails have been sent to businesses nationwide, Fleming said.

Better Business Bureaus are business-backed nonprofits that help consumers settle disputes with companies and make more informed purchases.

-- Calvin Hennick

Korean officials join fray on book

Posted February 15, 2007 09:00 AM



The South Korean Consulate has asked the state Department of Education to rethink its use of ‘‘So Far From the Bamboo Grove,’’ an award-winning memoir of an 11-year-old Japanese girl fleeing Japanese-occupied Korea with her family at the end of World War II.

The book is part of the curriculum in a number of Massachusetts middle schools but became a source of controversy last fall when a group of Dover-Sherborn parents, including Korean-Americans, objected to it, calling it propaganda that glosses over brutality inflicted on Koreans by their Japanese occupiers.

Controversy over the book is growing nationally and internationally. On Feb. 3, the reclusive North Korean government criticized the United States for allowing the book to be taught. In Hawaii, South Korean officials also asked educators to reevaluate use of the book. And in South Korea, local news media have jumped on the story.

In her letter to the state Department of Education, Youngsun Ji, consul general for the Republic of Korea, said the book gives ‘‘a false and distorted view of Korea as a country and of the Korean people.’’ The South Korean consulate, based in Newton, further complained that the book depicts Koreans as ‘‘evil predators’’ and asked the state to ‘‘seriously reevaluate the appropriateness of this book for reading at the middle school level.’’

The consulate wrote the state on Jan. 16, but the letter is surfacing just as the book’s author, Cape Cod resident Yoko Kawashima Watkins, prepares for a press conference today to defend herself against the complaints about her book.

Watkins has said that she didn't intend to avoid the history of Japanese-Korean relations but was trying to focus on her story of survival.

Watkins is one of 60 authors recommended by the state Department of Education for grades 5 though 8. But the department is refusing to get involved in the controversy.

‘‘This is a local issue decided by individual districts,’’ said Nate Mackinnon, a spokesman for the department. ‘‘We don’t tell districts what they can and cannot teach.’’

Read more about the controversy in today's Globe West.

-- Lisa Kocian

Did fan energy help the Sox win the World Series?

Posted February 14, 2007 11:16 AM

Eric Leskowitz interviews a couple of young fans


Did the Red Sox win the World Series because so many fans desperately, desperately wanted them to? Can your uncle’s lucky undershorts really help Big Papi knock one out? Is Fenway Park a sacred place? Can sports help us become more spiritual?

The answer to all four questions is “yes,” according to filmmakers Eric and Joel Leskowitz. And they claim science backs them up.

The cousins are making a documentary, “The Joy of Sox: Weird Science and the Power of Attention,” which explores how team chemistry and fan energy influence the game.

Eric Leskowitz of Needham, a staff psychiatrist at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston who heads an alternative medicine research and treatment program, wrote a column for the Globe in September 2005 about how the Sox had fans to thank for breaking the Curse of the Bambino.

That got Joel, a film producer in Oregon, thinking about making a movie. Even before he consulted his cousin, he was on the phone with the Red Sox obtaining permission to interview fans at Fenway.

Want to learn more? Check out the film trailer online and read more about the cousins in tomorrow's Globe West.

-- Lauren K. Meade

Decision delayed on Indian team names and logos

Posted February 8, 2007 03:08 PM


The logo for the North Quincy Red Raiders


The sportsmanship committee of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, the ruling body of high school sports in the state, wants to take more time to consider whether to encourage schools to drop their Indian-themed team names and logos.

Dozens of schools around the state have team names like "Redmen," "Warriors," or "Chieftains" and use depictions of fierce or ridiculous Indians, tomahawks, or arrows as their logos. Sometimes fans will wear Indian regalia to games.

For years, Native American advocates have urged the schools to drop the names and images, but their efforts have gone mostly unheeded.

At a meeting this afternoon, the sportsmanship committee reviewed responses from a survey of athletic directors whose teams have Indian names or logos. Most of the ADs said the names or logos hadn't drawn much discussion and they felt there was nothing offensive about them.

The committee said it will take more time to consider the issue and will discuss it again at the May meeting.

The most recent push was prompted by an effort at Natick High School to stop using the Redmen team name. The School Committee plans to make a decision on that issue after a public hearing in March.

Read more about the ontroversy in Natick and in communities throughout the state in today's Globe West and Globe South.

--John C. Drake

Ad campaign targets parents of overweight kids

Posted January 28, 2007 10:41 PM

obesity campaign.jpg


The images are not subtle. One billboard shows an overweight child's lower legs and feet on a scale next to the words, "Fat Chance," along with a list of the health risks of obesity. A second billboard shows the back of an overweight child and asks, "If that's your kid, what are you waiting for?"

The billboards are part of a $250,000 public awareness campaign that is meant to awaken area parents to the dangers of childhood obesity, said Martin D. Cohen , president of the MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation.

"We need to get their attention," said Cohen, whose foundation will launch the campaign Monday.

Susan Green, a 48-year-old Wayland mother of two who served on a task force that helped develop the campaign, said she understands the images may be jarring and even insulting to some parents.

"People are concerned that parents may become upset by it," said Green. "There is the risk of turning some people off, but I'm hoping it won't, and will be the first step toward developing awareness if their child is obese."

The campaign also will include television spots and print advertisements. In addition to the campaign, the foundation has handed out more than $1 million in grants to schools, community centers, and social service groups for fitness, nutrition, and health education programs aimed at reducing obesity.

Read more of this story in Globe West.

-- John C. Drake

More news on the blogjacking front

Posted January 28, 2007 01:48 PM


More interesting news on the blogjacking front.

The folks at Blogger (a.k.a. Google) finally got back to me after I sent them some questions about how widespread the blogjacking phenomenon is and what blog-hosting sites are doing about it. (For those of you just tuning in, Cyberscenes reported last month that the URLs to at least 2 popular local blogs were leading users to porn, scam, and spyware sites.)

Sean Carlson, a spokesman for Google, e-mailed me recently and confirmed that there has been a problem with "dictionary attacks" on Blogger and other blog-hosting sites. "Fraudsters" (his term) have been able to hack some passwords by basically running an electronic dictionary program through the password prompt, he said. If your password is a basic dictionary word like "banana," the bad guys have got you, he said.

Carlson also said that some apparent blogjackings are actually part of an only slightly less annoying trend that could be called bookmark harvesting.

In other words, spammers and scammers can scan domain-name registration sites for recently abandoned URLs that appear to have been blogs and snap them up. It's actually pretty smart in an annoying sort of way. Most of the dead blogs are probably still in the bookmarks and favorites lists of their former readers, and some blogs continue to be listed on blog-aggregating sites for quite a while after their authors have gone on to other pursuits.

Just a day after I heard from the folks at Blogger, I received an e-mail from Cynthia Iris, who was better known as the Wellesley-based blogger behind the Diana Chronicles, one of the blogs I wrote about that was directing users to spyware sites.

It turns out that Cynthia's blog URL appears to have been harvested, rather than blogjacked.

"Several months ago I deleted the blog," Cynthia wrote me. "Haven't given it a thought since. Just thought I'd let you know that the Diana Chronicles have been long gone as a legit blog."

If any of you out there in Wellesley or beyond still have a browser bookmark to the Diana Chronicles, best delete it now.

Read more of Ralph Ranalli's Cyberscenes column, a bi-weekly look at what's going on in the local blogosphere.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Wellesley prof an expert on single motherhood

Posted January 12, 2007 04:20 PM


Rosanna Hertz


While many people have to stand outside in the cold to see Matt Lauer and the Today Show crew, Rosanna Hertz will get to talk to them inside and on-air.

Hertz, a Brookline resident and Wellesley College professor, will appear on the NBC morning show on Monday to talk about her book, "Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice." The book, released in October, discusses what Hertz sees as a new pattern in families: single women having children.

Her research, which started in 1996, found an interesting dichotomy among single mothers: some were impoverished teens, and some were affluent 30-somethings, the Globe reported in December.

Hertz's segment on Monday is scheduled to air between 8 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

-- Adam Sell

Good news at the pump as gas prices dip

Posted January 9, 2007 04:44 PM


After more than two months of steady increases in gas prices throughout the area, the rates have finally dropped.

AAA of Southern New England reports that in the past week, Massachusetts gas prices have dropped two cents to $2.33.

This morning, consumers can find gas at some stations in Boston's western suburbs for below $2.20, according to reports on the site.

The Interstate station at 580 Washington St., Wrentham, for example, offers gas for $2.19 as does the GASCO station at South Main Street and Route 140 in Milford.

-- Adam Sell

Two looking forward, one looking back

Posted January 4, 2007 06:31 PM


da leone.jpg

Tom Reilly used to be their boss, back when he was Middlesex district attorney.

Now, Hopkinton's Gerard Leone has been elected district attorney and Martha Coakley is stepping up to take over from Reilly as attorney general.

Globe photographer Evan Richman caught the three sharing a laugh at Harvard's Sanders Theater where Leone was sworn in yesterday.

The number of dead

Posted December 30, 2006 01:51 PM


Bobby Blair, a Vietnam veteran from Holliston, says he recently spoke about the war in Iraq to a church youth group.

"None of them personally know of anyone who's in Iraq," he said. "They didn't realize how serious it was. I said, `Do you think we're watching a video game?' And some of them said it was almost that."

Blair was quoted in an Associated Press story that looked at Americans' attitude towards the rising toll of deaths in Iraq.

The story of Maggie and Jay

Posted December 29, 2006 12:51 PM

31wemaggie 09_001.JPG
Jakwan Davis, Felicia Davis, Maggie the dog, and trainer Mike Kewley during a recent visit
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)


What's happened to Maggie and Jay?

A Globe West story in September took a look at Maggie the therapy dog and her visits to sick children at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. The children included Jay Davis, a 13-year-old boy in the intensive care unit who has an inoperable form of cancer.

The twist in the story was that Maggie had developed cancer herself.

The latest word: Both Maggie and Jay are recovering from chemotherapy to shrink their tumors.

Maggie's visits were suspended for three months because of the treatment, but she returned to the hospital a few weeks ago, in time to celebrate Jay's birthday. She was moving a little slower, but her tail was still wagging.

Jay has struggled with chemotherapy and has only been able to spend one day out of intensive care. While the average stay for a child in the ICU is two days, Jay has been there six months.

During the visit, Jay rested on his bed motionless after a chemo treatment. His eyelids fluttered as he struggled to see the dog. Mike Kewley, Maggie's owner, lifted Maggie onto the bed next to him. Jay's mother, Felicia, guided his hand to help him pet her.

A nurse noted that Jay's blood pressure and heart rate dropped at the same time.

Felicia Davis said she doesn't know if her son will ever live free of a ventilator, or be able to walk or talk. She said she had little money to buy him Christmas gifts.

"My son is a fighter," she said. "We just go up and down."

-- Megan Woolhouse

Making music on a special night

Posted December 24, 2006 11:07 AM



The Medfield choir at a recent rehearsal
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Hundreds of musicians across Boston's western suburbs are looking forward to tonight, when they will give one of their biggest performances of the year. For months, choirs have polished their performances of timeless, uplifting songs.

"As we say," said Michael Olbash, 32, of Bellingham, music director at the United Church of Christ in Medfield, " No one's going to leave church humming the sermon."

"The singing gives me joy," Deb Kumpf of Medfield said in a Globe West story today. "I can share that gift God gave me with the congregation."

-- Mark C.N. Sullivan

Cluster developments on the rise

Posted December 24, 2006 10:22 AM


The builder of The Preserve at Oak Hill received special town permission to closely space 62 new large homes on lots that are significantly smaller than standard Wrentham zoning allows. Meantime, the company will donate the undeveloped land, worth roughly $2 million, to the town, a move the builder said gives Oak Hill a selling advantage over traditional subdivisions.

"We believe people would rather have smaller lots with a lot of open space around, rather than a 2-acre lot you have to maintain," Oak Hill developer Howard Bailey said recently, standing on a freshly paved road as workers framed a new home. "Every house in this development will have access to the open space. You can open your backdoor and enjoy it."

Cluster developments, long pushed by environmentalists and smart-growth advocates, are finally catching on with builders who previously did not want the aggravation of pursuing special permits, and with once-wary municipal officials who feared too-dense developments, the Globe reports today.

-- Thomas Caywood

Mashpee, for example, eliminated minimum lot sizes altogether from

For some, the lack of snow is a no-no

Posted December 20, 2006 07:21 PM



So far this winter there hasn't been much snow. That's great news for some. But if you want to go skiing or you run a ski area ...

Globe staffer David L. Ryan caught Hong Leong of Framingham on a lane of manmade snow -- in the middle of the grass -- at the Nashoba Valley ski area today in Westford.

The blogjacking menace

Posted December 18, 2006 09:30 AM


Dark clouds are gathering over the local blogosphere.

First there were "splog" attacks, pieces of spam left in the comments area of local blogs. That was kids' stuff. Now it appears that at least two blogs in the western suburbs have become victims of a new, scarier menace: blogjacking.

Cyberscenes was trolling the blogosphere for interesting bits this week when I clicked my bookmark to the Food Market Index blog out of Framingham. It's not a blog I really follow that much, seeing as it tracks goings-on at the Whole Foods supermarket chain, of all things.

Had I been taking a sip of my coffee at that moment, the result would have been a classic Vaudevillian spit-take all over my 17-inch flat panel. Instead of pears and plums, I got porn. Groceries had been supplanted by genitalia.

I tried a couple of experiments -- manually typing in the URL myself, asking a colleague with cast-iron sensibilities to try it on his machine -- and confirmed that the Food Market Index URL was redirecting me to a porn site, and a particularly singe-your-retinas-graphic one at that.

A quick survey of the 40 or so blogs that I regularly check quickly found a second problem, this time with the See Todd Run blog out of Waltham. Instead of the blog, I was redirected to a generic-looking Web page supposedly touting some kind of self-actualization program that you could get more information on by clicking on a link. Right.

Stories of blogjackings are just now appearing on sites like Blogger Tips and Tricks and The Real Blogger Status, and they're not pretty. Bloggers are saying that not only have their blogs been hijacked, but that they are having a tough time getting them restored. Blog gurus are issuing advice like strengthening passwords to 15 mixed characters, but are also saying that they're not sure exactly how the blogjackers are doing it, although password hacking seems to be a strong possibility.

What's more, the attacks seem to be focused on Blogger, the nation's largest blog network, which was bought by search giant Google a while ago and which has been a focus of splog attacks as well. Both Food Market Index and See Todd Run are hosted on Blogger.

If you have any stories of blogjacking nightmares, e-mail them to me and we'll keep on top of this story.

-- Ralph Ranalli

Reaching out to each other

Posted December 8, 2006 05:37 PM



Here's another of the photos taken by staffer Bill Polo for the story "Lifeline to Ethiopia" that ran yesterday in Globe West.

The picture shows Susan Fournier and her son Samuel, 4, at their home in Plainville.

The Fourniers are among a small but growing number of families choosing to adopt children from Ethiopia.

Check out the story and a slideshow with more pictures at the Globe West site on

He found a home

Posted December 7, 2006 07:30 PM



Sameer Dhanda snuggles with his father Rahul, as mother Michelle looks on in their Watertown home
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Americans adopt 20,000 children a year from overseas, a number that has tripled in the past decade. A small but growing number of families are choosing to adopt from Ethiopia, rather than from countries such as China, Russia, and Guatemala with much larger, established placement programs.

Waltham-based Wide Horizons for Children is one of only a handful of US agencies licensed to work in Ethiopia.

Michelle and Rahul Dhanda of Watertown adopted their son Sameer in November 2005, when he was 10 months old.

Michelle Dhanda said Ethiopia was "a country where it was obvious you could have a great impact."

But her husband said adopting Sameer wasn't purely altruistic. "We wanted to become parents," he said. "What we've done for his life is nothing compared to what he's done for us."

Read more about the new trend in today's Globe West and check out a slide show with more pictures of the kids and their families.

-- Erica Noonan

Driver in fatal accident assaulted outside courthouse

Posted December 7, 2006 10:57 AM


A Hopkinton woman accused of killing a 21-year-old college senior in a September drunk driving accident was assaulted this morning on her way into Westborough District Court.

Alison Voorhis, 47, was knocked to the ground moments after getting out of her grey Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Voorhis faces vehicular homicide and other charges after a Sept. 24 accident on Otis Street in Northborough that claimed the life of Evangelos Pashos, 21, of Shrewsbury, a senior at Suffolk University.

Achilles Athansiou, Pashos' uncle, was arrested by court officers and Westborough police on charges he attacked Voorhis during a brief melee at the bottom of the steps leading to the courthouse's main entrance.

He is currently being processed in relation to the attack on Voorhis; the exact charges have not been released.

Prior to a brief court hearing before Judge Vito Virzi, a lawyer for Voorhis requested increased security for her client, saying that Voorhis had endured "harassment" by the dead man's relatives at previous hearings.

The Pashos family has set up protests at each of Voorhis' court appearances, including signs calling Voorhis a murderer and posters bearing Evangelos Pashos' photo.

Eighteen supporters and members of the Pashos family attended today's hearing, mostly dressed in black. They lined the sole entrance and exit to the courthouse and swarmed Voorhis' car as it arrived, shouting expletives.

Several called out "murderer" to Ms. Voorhis as she left the courtroom after her brief hearing.

"They're checking the murderer out while it's my uncle that really got hurt, the way the police handled him," said Lina Pashos, Evangelos Pashos' 18-year-old sister, as paramedics from the Westborough Fire Department examined Voorhis inside the courthouse.

The paramedics left without transporting Voorhis, who then left about 10 minutes later.

The Discovery kid

Posted December 1, 2006 06:16 PM


In 2004 Tyler Robinson skipped school, but he didn't just hang around town.

He wrangled crocodiles in Botswana, searched for leatherback sea turtle eggs in Costa Rica, excavated ancient skeletons in Thailand, and measured Argali sheep in the Gobi Desert.

Robinson was part of a trio of high school students sent on a 10-month world tour by the Maynard-based Earthwatch Institute. Their exploits are the subject of the documentary "A Year on Earth," airing in two parts on the Discovery Kids Channel.

The trip was the idea of Earthwatch president Ed Wilson as a way to show how young people can tackle global problems. The teens helped Earthwatch scientists collect data on a dozen projects, ranging from documenting vanishing species and forests to digging up traces of an ancient civilization.

Here's a picture of flamingo-covered Lake Bogoria, Kenya, one of the stops on Robinson's trip:


Read more about Tyler Robinson's excellent adventure in Sunday's Globe West.

-- Susan Chaityn Lebovits

A shorts and T-shirt afternoon

Posted November 30, 2006 05:17 PM



(Warm enough to walk your dog on the beach in Swampscott with the Boston skyline in the background, Globe Staff Photo by John Tlumacki)

On an afternoon in which a balmy 69 degrees broke the all-time Boston temperature record for the last day of November, area student-athletes were dressed as if it were summer at a local school.

At the Rivers School in Weston, students dressed in shorts and T-shirts ran through conditioning drills and kicked around soccer balls on the school's recently-installed synthetic turf field.

The record-high temperature, established at 1:43 p.m., broke the previous mark of 68 degrees set in 1881.

There won't be any balmy breezes on Sunday, though. The forecasters say it may snow.

-- Craig Larson

Governor, spare that tree!

Posted November 30, 2006 09:42 AM


You may have noticed the gray-brown swarms. Like the invaders in some low-budget horror flick, winter moths have returned to the area, clustering around porch lights and even sneaking inside.

They may seem just a fluttering nuisance, but these insects are real monsters when it comes to trees.

The moths, which were first identified in the region about three years ago, are laying eggs now. Their offspring will hatch in the spring and become hungry caterpillars, feasting on the leaves of hardwood trees and some bushes. Eventually, if the moths aren't stopped in the next few years, many trees will die.

UMass experts say they have the solution for the problem, but funding for it was cut by Governor Romney. They're hoping that a new administration will get their funding restored, Globe West reports today.

-- Lisa Kocian

They want those bargains

Posted November 24, 2006 11:23 AM

Ana Alves, of Cumberland, R.I, waited in line to pay for her purchases at Gap in Wrentham Outlets today.
(Globe Photo by Wiqan Ang)


Bargain hunters flocked to Globe West shopping centers today, looking for post-Thanksgiving bargains.

The line to get into Wal-Mart in Framingham grew to several hundred people before the 5 a.m. opening, with some waiting overnight for the chance to buy discounted big-screen TVs.

Some said the tradition of the day is more important to them than great deals.

“It gets you in the Christmas spirit, after the bruises,” said Linda Kinney, a 37-year-old Framingham resident.

Milford resident Edson Dasilva, 29, said he saw shoppers get into verbal fights and shoving matches over spots in line at Best Buy at Shopper's World in Framingham.

At the Natick Mall, Natick resident Ken Rossi, 62, waited with shopping bags on a bench while his wife shopped.

“I’m the what-do-you-think guy,” Rossi said. “She holds something up and says, ‘What do you think?’” Rossi said his other duty was to carry the shopping bags. Although he said he doesn’t enjoy waking before dawn to go shopping, Rossi has accompanied his wife to shopping centers on Black Friday for several years.

“He’d rather do this than listen to me complain,” his wife, Ann Rossi, explained.

Stephanie Gambino, marketing manager for the Natick Mall, said the holiday shopping season was off to a strong start.

-- Calvin Hennick

Globe West leads the way in multimedia

Posted November 23, 2006 12:25 PM



Here at Globe West, we're not just about local news; we're striving to be the leaders in presenting it in as many formats as possible: print, online text and photos, audio, photo galleries, audio slideshows, podcasts, and (coming soon) video.

One of our most exciting recent developments was the launch last month of the Boston Globe-Newtonville Books Great Writers Podcast, where the best local and national literary talent come to read from their latest bestsellers-to-be.

Featured this week: author, Globe Magazine columnist and NPR personality Charlie Pierce discusses and reads from his new book, "Moving the Chairs: Tom Brady and the Pursuit of Everything."

Since Brady's magic is in the intangibles -- his almost supernatural poise and confidence, his ability to come through in the clutch, his ability to lead the Patriots -- Pierces goes deep to figure out what influences helped mold the future Hall of Fame quarterback and what makes him tick.

Charlie's reading can be found as the featured Great Writers podcast on the Podcasts page. The Books page in the A&E section of also has Charlie's reading, as well as an archive of other recent Great Writers events at Newtonville Books with authors like Nell Freudenberger, Katherine Weber and Heidi Julavits. You can even subscribe to the series through iTunes and get a new event every week.

-- Ralph Ranalli, Globe West Web Producer

Are you ready for some football? ... And some rain?

Posted November 22, 2006 05:46 PM



(Brockton High fans several years ago had the right idea, Globe Staff Photo by John Tlumacki.)

Could there be worse weather for football? The forecast for tomorrow's Thanksgiving day showdowns calls for wind, rain, and temperatures in the 40s.

For those who want to brave the weather, here's the Thanksgiving Day football menu:

(All games at 10 a.m. unless noted otherwise)

Hopkinton at Ashland, 83rd meeting
Norton at Bellingham, 5th meeting
Medfield at Dover-Sherborn, 41st meeting
Holliston at Westwood, 34th meeting
Millis at Medway, 77th meeting
Newton South at Lincoln-Sudbury, 34th meeting
Watertown at Belmont, 85th meeting
St. Clement at Trinity Catholic, 19th meeting
Wayland at Weston, 72nd meeting
Natick at Framingham, 100th meeting
Wellesley at Needham, 119th meeting
Brookline at Newton North, 112th meeting
Franklin at King Philip, 47th meeting
Brockton at Waltham, 53rd meeting
Marian at Nipmuc, 3rd meeting (10:30 a.m.)
Algonquin at Westborough, 48th meeting
Shrewsbury at Milford, 31st meeting
St. Peter-Marian at St. John's, 80th meeting (10:30 a.m., Fitton Field, Holy Cross)
Hudson at Marlborough, 103rd meeting
Nashoba at North Middlesex, 12th meeting

The Kurt question, answered

Posted November 17, 2006 10:48 AM


The identity of the mysterious Kurt, who has been placing signs all over parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, may have finally been solved.

The bright yellow signs that proclaimed "Why-Kurt?" seem to be an advertisement for Weichert Realty, the Union Leader of Manchester, N.H. reports. Weichert is a national real estate chain that has recently moved into the area.

Marjorie Warnick of Norfolk took special interest in the signs, because she has a son named Kurt.

"I thought it was political, that one of the town officials had been caught doing something wrong," she told the Union Leader. However, she was a little irked when she found out the real deal.

"It's ingenious," she said, "but it's also annoying."

-- Erica Tochin

Amid gray hairs, a golden idea

Posted November 16, 2006 06:09 PM



(Eric Andersen poses with the Plainville Senior Center's choral group, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Eric Andersen was a high school senior volunteering at the Norwood Senior Center when opportunity knocked.

He saw that the centers needed help organizing their paperwork and created a software product, MySeniorCenter, that solves the problem.

Now he's dropped out of college, a la Bill Gates, and with a partner heads a company of five people with offices in Sherborn. At the grand old age of 20.

Read more about Andersen in today's Globe West.

Wrentham police probe whether teen brought gun to school

Posted November 15, 2006 12:25 PM


Wrentham police are investigating whether a Plainville teen brought a gun to King Philip Regional High School last week. The teen has been taken into custody on unrelated charges.

"All we have is the allegation that he had a gun in the locker," said Police Chief Joseph Collamati. "We're trying to corroborate the information we have."

Police were at the high school last Thursday interviewing students when they received word that the 15-year-old they were asking about had gotten into a head-on collision in Plainville that morning.

The teen was arrested by Plainville police on a number of traffic charges. While in custody, the teen admitted to disposing of a gun near the scene of the accident and police returned to find a 9mm handgun, Plainville Chief Edward Merrick said.

The teen is being held at the Rhode Island Training School in Cranston, R.I. for violating his probation on a previous charge in that state, Merrick said. He has a juvenile court appearance in Massachusetts scheduled for Nov. 29.

-- Calvin Hennick

A blast from the past

Posted November 13, 2006 07:20 PM



Here's a photo taken in the late 1800s of the downtown area of a Globe West town. Can you figure out what town it is? The building shown offering "Cool Soda" still stands today. It was the home of the A. Emerson Cash Market.

Town officials now want to give the downtown a makeover, starting with that building.

Read the story by Calvin Hennick in Thursday's Globe West.

Globe West goes for Deval Patrick

Posted November 11, 2006 03:03 PM



(Gov.-elect Patrick, with Gov. Mitt Romney, Globe Staff Photo by David L. Ryan)

Democrat Deval L. Patrick is heading into his first term as governor with strong support from Boston's western suburbs.

In Tuesday's election, the governor-elect won all but six of the 37 cities and towns in the Globe West coverage area, with his most substantial margin coming in Newton. The Democrat received 23,483 votes in the city, or 70 percent, compared to 7,912, or 24 percent, for Republican Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey.

"We had a very simple message in Newton: Newton needs Deval Patrick," said Kenneth Parker, a Newton alderman at large and member of the Democratic State Committee.

Other towns where voters came out in force for Patrick were Lincoln, where he received 66 percent of the vote, Watertown, where he received 62 percent, and Wayland where 59 percent of voters chose the political newcomer.

Of the towns Healey won, she had her widest margin in Norfolk and Dover where she won 53 percent and 51 percent of the votes, respectively.

-- John C. Drake

Turnout strong in the Globe West area

Posted November 7, 2006 03:25 PM


Election officials throughout the western suburbs are reporting strong turnout today as a smattering of competitive local elections and the governor’s race attract residents to the polls.

The weather seemed to be cooperating. A brisk wind blew and skies were overcast, but showers were holding off as of midafternoon.

While no long lines were reported, Kathleen Nagle, Wellesley's town clerk, said poll workers were busy.

“We had a surge at the opening of the polls, and it’s been pretty steady all day,” she said. No more than 15 voters were waiting at precincts at any given time, she said.

Peter Koutoujian Sr., interim executive director of the Newton election commission, said his office has been besieged with calls from voters.

“When you get a lot of people saying, ‘Am I registered to vote? Where do I vote?’ they obviously haven’t voted in a while,” he said.

Officials in the Marlborough city clerk’s office also said turnout was brisk with no reported problems.

--John C. Drake

Question 1 opponents listed

Posted November 7, 2006 08:06 AM


Globe West reported recently on efforts by liquor store owners to persuade local officials to go on record against a statewide ballot question that would allow more supermarkets to sell wine.

The liquor stores have suggested that the proposal would lead to more underage drinking and drunken driving. The supermarkets say the liquor stores simply fear more competition.

The results of the anti-Question 1 lobbying campaign appear in a full-page ad in the Globe today, as voters head to the poll to cast their ballots in the state election.

The ad, which suggests the new law could lead to alcohol being sold at gas station mini-marts, says that opponents of Question 1 include the selectmen in Hopkinton and Wrentham, along with the Marlborough Licensing Board, Wayland Police Chief Robert Irving, and several area state representatives.

Correspondent Alison O'Leary Murray reported that some selectmen shied away from taking a position, saying it was a state issue that they shouldn't be involved in.

Patrick, Healey to visit western suburbs

Posted November 6, 2006 09:03 AM


With the gubernatorial election just a day away, Democrat Deval Patrick and Republican Kerry Healey are making last-minute campaign stops. And you just may see them in your neighborhood -- because Boston's western suburbs are on the itinerary.

Patrick will meet with volunteers who are doing Get Out the Vote work in Framingham.

Healey will hold a roundtable discussion in Westborough with business leaders. And she'll be joined by Governor Romney in Needham for a news conference.

Independent Christy Mihos and Green/Rainbow Party candidate Grace Ross are also running for governor.

Weather-related accidents

Posted October 29, 2006 08:52 AM


Yesterday's downpours caused some trouble on the roads in the region.

About 3:15 p.m., a teenager was hospitalized with minor injuries after the sports utility vehicle he was driving on Interstate 495 just south of Interstate 290 in Marlborough hydroplaned after it was moved to the center lane, and then rolled over.

The teenager, whose name was not released because of his age, was taken to UMass Memorial Medical Center — University Campus in Worcester, for treatment of minor injuries.

A woman who witnessed the accident was taken to UMassMemorial —Marlborough Hospital with minor injuries. Neide Dosreis, 40, of Worcester, tried to stop the 2002 Nissan Pathfinder she was driving, but was rear-ended by a 2001 Ford Focus driven by Kali Fayton, 20, of Hudson, according to State Trooper Veronica Dalton. Ms. Dosreis was not injured, but Ms. Fayton was taken to the hospital.

The accidents closed the highway for about 40 minutes. Three hours earlier another accident on the highway just north of Hudson, near the Assabet River Bridge, caused damage to two cars, but no injuries.

-- Telegram & Gazette of Worcester

Maggie no longer undergoing chemotherapy

Posted October 29, 2006 08:40 AM


Some of you may remember our story about Maggie, the therapy dog who visited sick children at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester -- and came down with cancer herself.

Mike Kewley of Boylston, owner of the golden retriever, reports that she is no longer undergoing chemotherapy.

"I had to stop the treatment because of the side effects," he wrote in a recent e-mail.

Maggie has cancer of the snout, which has forced her to suspend her work visiting sick children at UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

Kewley said Maggie is on a strict chicken and rice diet.

She is scheduled to begin radiation therapy next month.

He hopes she will be well enough to resume her hospital visits in December.

-- Megan Woolhouse

Do you know who this is?

Posted October 28, 2006 10:03 AM



Do you know who this is?

A distant relative of Mr. Peanut, Bullwinkle, or Arthur the aardvark?

You wouldn't think it was so funny if you saw this creature while you were riding in a car down a dark road, would you? (Its eyes were supposedly red.)

Read the story of this little guy in tomorrow's Globe West.

Rep. Blumer remembered

Posted October 22, 2006 10:09 AM


Rep. Deborah Blumer's advocacy for the vulnerable is recalled today in a column by Eileen McNamara.

"She had more energy than any 10 of us combined," Rep. Kay Khan, a Newton Democrat, told McNamara. "There are so few people you can really trust in that place, and Debby was such a straight shooter. I don't know where the rest of us will turn now."

Blumer, a Framingham Democrat who died after suffering a heart attack while driving her car, was remembered by more than 700 people at services at Temple Beth Am in Framingham last week.

McNamara writes about Blumer's efforts to help immigrants, drug addicts, the mentally ill and retarded, and women in prison.

She says Blumer's spirit will be present in the House chamber every time a vote is called "on a measure meant to protect the most vulnerable among us. Let her empty chair be a call to conscience for those left to complete the work she began."

Houses that keep their value in a downturn

Posted October 18, 2006 05:40 PM


Housing sales in Boston's blue chip suburbs -- Brookline, Cambridge, Newton and Wellesley -- are falling but the impact on prices has been moderate, according to a report by Hammond Residential's agent, Wendy Matthews, in Chestnut Hill.

Homes in these desirable neighborhoods "are going to sustain less of a blow in a down market," Matthews said. "That's been traditionally true, and it's true now," she said.

In Wellesley, sales declined 10.1 percent between January and August, compared with the same eight months in 2005, but Wellesley's median house price rose almost 1 percent over that period, the report said.

Cambridge sales declined 19.2 percent and prices fell 2 percent; Newton sales fell 15.8 percent, prices down 3.3 percent; and Brookline sales declined 14.4 percent, prices down 1.5 percent.

Cambridge's sales were hit harder, Matthews said, because it is more economically diverse than the others. Wellesley home prices were insulated by a relatively small pool of single-family homes, she said. Prospective buyers in these neighborhoods have about three months left "to get a good deal," she said.

-- Kimberly Blanton

How's Maggie doing?

Posted October 18, 2006 01:59 PM


Some of you may remember our story about Maggie, the UMass Memorial Medical Center therapy dog diagnosed with cancer in her snout. Owner Mike Kewley recently sent us news about Maggie's condition -- and word that he has adopted a golden retriever puppy named Sadie. Here is his update:

Maggie was at Tufts on Tuesday for her regular appointment. Her exam and blood levels were normal. Maggie received chemo and steroid injections into the tumor. She will be starting radiation to control the tumor if possible. There is no easy way to prevent the cancer from spreading so we will have to enjoy every day we have with her. The treatments have their limits and surgery to remove her nose and front teeth would be too involved. Quality of life is very important to me for her. If the cancer is a grade 2, surgery and radiation would help control the cancer; if it's grade 3 the chance of metastasis [or spreading] in the future is very high. She has been doing very well, with little side effects. Sadie keeps her busy but is sometimes overwhelming and Maggie needs a break. We are going to do a short visit today with one of the nursing homes in Shrewsbury.

-- Meg Woolhouse


(Maggie visits with a young cancer patient at UMass Medical Center in Worcester this summer, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Driver arraigned in Wrentham fatal

Posted October 16, 2006 12:41 PM


A Franklin man is being held on bail after his arraignment this morning on charges that he struck a car while driving under the influence Saturday night on Interstate 495 North in Wrentham, killing the car’s driver.

Wrentham District Court Judge Warren Powers scheduled a pretrial hearing for Nov. 13 for Brian F. Harland, 34, of 14 Crocker Ave. Franklin.

According to state police, Harland swerved across three lanes and struck a car being driven by Paul J. Rudeen, age 21, of Framingham.

The collision forced Rudeen’s car off the road and caused it to roll over, police said.

Rudeen was pronounced dead at the scene. Harland pleaded innocent to charges of motor vehicle homicide, operating with a suspended license, and a marked lanes violation. The homicide charge carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

Harland has prior convictions for heroin possession and possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, said David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk County district attorney.

The conditions of Harland’s bail, which was set at $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety, would not allow him to operate a motor vehicle or use
alcohol or illicit drugs. Harland has appealed the bail decision.

-- Calvin Hennick

Tech sector on the move

Posted October 16, 2006 08:52 AM


Don Benson, 53, of Watertown, a software engineer and contract worker, received only limited interest a year ago when he was looking for work.

This spring, however, he received calls from at least two dozen headhunters after posting his resume online. He landed a new one-year contract in a month.

It may not be the craziness of the dot-com boom, but the technology sector is back.

Analysts say a healthy expansion is under way, providing a spark to the state's economy, the Globe reports today in a story that also mentions the success of Hopkinton-based EMC and Waltham-based Phase Forward and Oco.

State Rep. Blumer dies -- Update

Posted October 13, 2006 04:56 PM


State Rep. Deborah D. Blumer (D-Framingham) died this morning after suffering an apparent heart attack while driving in Framingham, authorities said.

The news shocked fellow lawmakers and friends in Framingham and the surrounding area, where Blumer's political involvement began with the PTO and led her to Beacon Hill representing the 6th Middlesex District for the last six years.

Framingham police said Blumer's 2004 Acura ran off of Dudley Road near Loring Arena around 10:15 a.m. and struck a wooden guardrail. A Framingham police officer who was working a passing funeral detail for a retired officer was the first to arrive at the crash scene.

A second officer administered CPR and twice used an automatic defibrillator, said Lt. Paul Shastany, a police spokesman.

Blumer was transported to the Framingham Union Hospital, part of the MetroWest Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 11:35 a.m., having never regained consciousness, said hospital spokeswoman Beth Donnelly.

Fellow lawmakers said Blumer had worked hard on healthcare legislation, public education funding and social services during her three terms in the House.

"Debbie was probably the hardest working member of the House," said Rep. David Linsky, D-Natick, who campaigned with Blumer yesterday.

He said they held signs supporting Democratic gubernatorial nominee Deval Patrick outside Ken's Steak House in Framingham, where Republican nominee Kerry Healey was holding a campaign event.

"There was no spin with Debbie Blumer," Linsky said. "She told it like she saw it, and she had a lot of guts."

Linsky and others said Blumer, 64, appeared to be in good health.

"Debbie was very buoyant and in high spirits," said long-time friend Jerry Desilets, who attended a community meeting with Blumer Friday morning. "She was very excited about the upcoming elections. Debbie was totally dedicated to her causes and her candidates, and was very enthusiastic about the election season."

Blumer was running unopposed for a fourth term. Secretary of State William F. Galvin said in a statement Friday that Blumer's name would remain on the Nov. 7 ballot. Galvin said there wasn't enough time to allow the party to put forward a substitute candidate with some absentee ballots already mailed.

Galvin's spokesman, Brian McNiff, said whoever received the most write-in ballots on Election Day would win the seat. The seat will remain unfilled for the duration of the current session, he said.

Republicans and Democrats alike hailed Blumer as a conscientious lawmaker.

"Deb was one of the best friends we had on this campaign, often working all day to accomplish whatever tasks needed to be done," Patrick said in a statement. "She was an integral part of building our grassroots organization in the Framingham area and inspired others to do the same."

Healey called Blumer's passing a "terrible loss," saying "Framingham has lost a loyal public servant and strong voice on Beacon Hill."

-- John C. Drake


(A photo of Rep. Blumer from her state website)

Framingham Rep. Blumer dies of apparent heart attack

Posted October 13, 2006 02:24 PM


State Rep. Deborah D. Blumer (D-Framingham) died this morning after suffering an apparent heart attack while driving in Framingham, authorities said.

Blumer was pronounced dead at 11:35 a.m., said Beth Donnelly, a hospital spokeswoman. An official cause of death was unavailable.

Framingham Police spokesman Lt. Paul Shastany said Blumer's 2004 Acura ran off of Dudley Road near Loring Arena around 10:15 this morning and struck a guard rail after she suffered an apparent heart attack. A nearby police officer used an automatic defibrillator and performed CPR at the scene, but the lawmaker never regained consciousness, authorities said.

Blumer was running unopposed for a fourth term representing the Sixth Middlesex District.

-- John C. Drake

Looking ahead to the weekend

Posted October 13, 2006 11:47 AM



(Colors were just emerging last week at Hopkinton State Park, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

The weekend forecast promises to be great for spending some time outdoors. Saturday and Sunday should be crisp but sunny, so why not head out to look at some pretty fall foliage?

Globe correspondent Thomas Caywood offers his picks for the weekend, including Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston.

Also, Doublet Hill in Weston rises about 360 above sea level, and is a great place to check out some colorful leaves.

Don't feel like walking? Jump in the car and take the scenic road down Route 20 through Wayland and Sudbury, then head into Marlborough and onto Route 85 to Hopkinton State Park.

Got some great photos of foliage? An astounding tree in your own backyard? We'd love to see them! Send them to Erica Tochin at

-- Erica Tochin

Down go the gas prices

Posted October 13, 2006 10:45 AM


What a difference a month or two makes! Gas prices in the area are creeping down towards $2.

In some Globe West towns, prices have already dropped below that mark. The Sunoco on Elliott Street at the intersection of Route 9 in Newton is at $1.99, and so is the Gulf on South Main Street in Bellingham, according to

Meanwhile, near the Globe West offices, the Gulf and Getty stations at the corner of Speen Street and Cochituate Road are at $2.13, while the Mobil across the street is still at $2.19. Only recently, those prices had been perilously close to $3.

The lowest recorded price in the area, according to gas price spotter websites, is in Revere, where Prime Energy on Squire Road is offering a price of $1.95.

-- Erica Tochin


(A gas price sign in Des Moines, Iowa last week, AP Photo by Charlie Neibergall)

Murray blasts Grabauskas

Posted October 12, 2006 02:36 PM


Worcester Mayor Timothy Murray blasted Daniel A. Grabauskas, the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, for not improving service on the commuter rail, especially on the Framingham/Worcester line, the Telegram and Gazette of Worcester reports.

Murray, who is also the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, said that when Grabauskas was appointed secretary of transportation, he said a deal was imminent to add two more daily trips on the Worcester line.

Since then, no trips have been added -- and service has gotten worse, Murray said.

Grabauskas said in a statement that on-time performance to and from Worcester improved in September.

"The MBTA will continue to make improvements to all aspects of commuter rail service in the months and years to come," he said.

-- Erica Tochin

The blazing colors of fall

Posted October 12, 2006 10:56 AM



(Trees beginning to turn recently on Route 85 in Hopkinton, Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Halloween is just around the corner, and that can only mean one thing: now is a great time to check out the gorgeous fall foliage.

Not sure where to go? Correspondent Thomas Caywood gives some tips in today's Globe West. Here are some of his picks:

Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston - the best view is from the summit of Tower Hill, about a 10-minute hike from the parking lot.

Mount Pisgah in Northborough - the highest point in town. On a clear day, you might not be able to see forever, but you can see the Prudential Center downtown.

Hopkinton State Park - no parking fees after Labor Day, and plenty of picnic tables.

Do you have some great foliage photos? We'd love to see them. Send them to Erica Tochin at and we'll post some of them on this blog!

-- Erica Tochin

About globe west updates Welcome to Globe West Updates, the news blog of the Globe West regional section of The Boston Globe. Check in with us often to see updated items about Boston's western suburbs from our staff reporters and correspondents. Give us your reaction to our stories in the print editions or on the blog by using the form below. Get involved — with Globe West!