Berlin | Community briefing

The bus doesn't stop here

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March 6, 2008

Town officials are still trying to decide where to place a bus stop for the Sawyer Hill housing development, which is under construction. The latest problem stems from the state Highway Department's concerns about the steepness of the road on which the stop would be located. School Committee members and Police Chief Otto F. Rhode Jr. recently agreed to place the stop just inside the housing complex's entry, which satisfied the schools' concerns about buses veering from their routes and the chief's concerns about children's safety as they waited along Sawyer Hill Road. It is unclear where the stop will be placed now, said School Committee chairwoman Christine Keefe. Children will be living in the complex by the start of the school year in September, Keefe said. - John Dyer

GERKEN TO STEP DOWN - After 24 years of involvement in town politics, Selectwoman Panny Gerken said she will not seek reelection this spring and hopes to give someone younger a chance to serve. Gerken, who has served one three-year term on the board, said work pressures also are affecting her decision not to run again. "I think there are times to let the new generation step up," said Gerken, who said she is "over 60." - Matt Gunderson

NAUGHTON TO SEEK REELECTION - Representative Harold Naughton Jr. pulled nomination papers for the state Senate recently, but as of last week he had decided to seek reelection to the House of Representatives instead, said Susan Templeton, his chief of staff. Templeton said Naughton has no contenders thus far in the House race. Naughton represents Boylston, Clinton, Northborough, and portions of Lancaster and Sterling. - Matt Gunderson

NEW VETERANS SERVICES DIRECTOR - For the second time in recent weeks, the town has hired a new director of veterans services, according to a statement last week from Town Manager Julian Suso's office. Brian Stearns, who was originally hired for the position, withdrew for personal reasons, leaving the post open for Peter Harvell, according to the statement. Harvell, former director of veterans services in Sudbury, will start his new job in Framingham on Monday. Harvell is a veteran who served 23 years in the Army. He has a bachelor's degree from Boston College and master's degrees from the Naval War College and Salve Regina University. Harvell will receive $56,000 a year. - Tanya Perez-Brennan

WINDMILLS SPINNING FORWARD - The Finance Committee last week held a public meeting on a warrant article for the Town Meeting in May that would allow power-generating windmills in town. Russell Durrenberger, 15, a student at Hudson High School, drafted the article for a class project. Committee chairman John Parent said the board was receptive to the idea, but he said members would not vote to recommend the article to Town Meeting until they received input from the Planning Board. Since Durrenberger's article would change zoning laws, Parent said he wanted to hear what planning officials thought about the proposal. He said he expects the Finance Committee to receive that information and make a decision at the end of March. - John Dyer

SEEKING INTERESTING HOMES - The Marlborough Historical Society is looking for nominations for its historic homes tour to be held in May. The organization is taking nominations online at, according to society trustee Lee Wright. The website calls for "classic and interesting houses of all ages, styles, and locations within Marlborough." Other recent website improvements include the addition of the five-volume historic property survey (click on "architecture"). Now, anyone interested can peruse the files to see photos of historic homes along with information about their early owners, alterations, and builders. - Lisa Kocian

ANNUAL TOWN MEETING - Residents have until April 4 to submit citizens-petition articles for the annual Town Meeting, which the Board of Selectmen has scheduled for May 19. The deadline for submitting such an article for the May 20 Special Town Meeting is April 18. Both meetings will held in the Fowler Middle School. - Matt Gunderson

SENIOR CENTER ON WARRANT - Town officials have placed articles on next month's Town Meeting warrant that would fund a new $5.9 million senior center on Colburn Street with a Proposition 2 1/2 override. If Town Meeting approves the funding, Northborough voters would have to OK the override in the election in May. The warrant also contains an article that asks Town Meeting to approve $1.5 million in additional funding to clean up the site of the proposed center, a former fish and game club. The town has $600,000 to clean up the area, but officials recently discovered the price for the work had increased. The senior center would take up a few acres of the 18-acre parcel, and the rest would be used for open space. - John Dyer

SPIRIT OF SHREWSBURY NEEDS VOLUNTEERS - A meeting for volunteers working on the Spirit of Shrewsbury Fall Festival will be 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday in the selectmen's old meeting room in Town Hall. Volunteers are needed for both brief and more-involved assignments - cleaning up after the craft fair, putting up and taking down signs, and coordinating events, according to a press release. The festival, which will be Sept. 26 to 28, will feature a car show, family entertainment, and expo for nonprofit organizations and businesses. For more information, visit, call 508-845-6977, or e-mail - Lisa Kocian

TOWN COULD JOIN TRANSIT AUTHORITY - Town Meeting next month will consider a warrant article that would pull the town out of the Worcester Regional Transit Authority and join the new MetroWest Regional Transit Authority. The Worcester authority offers little service in Southborough, while the MetroWest authority, which began operations last year, is growing rapidly. The neighboring towns of Ashland, Framingham, and Hopkinton are members of the MetroWest authority. Marlborough also has considered joining it. - John Dyer

HALE SCHOOL COUNCIL - The Hale Middle School Council, which serves as an advisory board to the principal, will have three vacancies for the school year starting in the fall, according to principal Margaret Morgan. Only parents with students who will attend the middle school in the upcoming school year are eligible to sit on the council. Parents interested in applying may send an e-mail to Mary Ganley at or send a letter of interest to the school office to Ganley's attention, stating their reasons for wanting to serve. - Matt Gunderson

ST. PATRICK'S PARTY - The Senior Center will hold a St. Patrick's Day party at noon Wednesday. The event will include the Irish music of Regina Delaney and company with Irish stepdancing, pennywhistle and Irish harp, and storytelling. A traditional Irish meal will be served. The cost is $5. Call 508-358-2990 for reservations. - John M. Guilfoil

STUDY RECOMMENDS MANAGER - The Government Study Committee in its final report recommended that the town create a more powerful town manager position to replace the town coordinator position now held by Henry Danis, who is expected to retire in a few years. Danis, who has held his job for 13 years, is in favor of the change. Danis recently said that he already acts like a town manager with more leeway than his current job description states. The report, which was presented to the Board of Selectmen on Feb. 26, would retain the selectmen's right to appoint key officials, such as the police and fire chiefs, but allow the manager to appoint administrative positions, such as the town accountant. - John Dyer

SPRING CLEANING FOR MUSIC - The Westborough Music Parents Association is asking residents to donate items to their annual fund-raising yard sale. Used books, CDs, and other items residents might come across during their spring cleanings are welcome. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to noon March 15 at Westborough High School. Items may be dropped off the day before at the high school between 5 and 8 p.m. Proceeds go to the nonprofit association's scholarship programs. For more information, call Carol DeMichele at 508-366-8949. - John Dyer


BOOK SALE TO AID LIBRARIES - The Friends of the Acton Libraries will hold a book sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the meeting room of the Acton Memorial Library. Sunday is give-away day from 2 to 4 p.m. The sale will feature thousands of used books for children and adults, and there is a limited number of audiovisual items. The Friends of the Acton Libraries support Memorial Library, West Acton Citizens Library, and the elementary, junior high, and high school libraries. - Jennifer Fenn Lefferts

SECOND YOUTH BEHAVIOR FORUM TONIGHT - Officials from Ashland's Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will hold a second parents forum at 7 tonight in the small-theater auditorium at Ashland Middle School. "This event complements the Feb. 11 town forum, which drew 265 concerned Ashland parents and other residents," said Robert Moro, project director for the coalition. "We presented the data from 1,000 Ashland students and 538 Ashland parents defining the extent of youth substance abuse, depression, and other risk factors. The response to the event was very positive, and we have received an enormous amount of feedback from parents. They're telling us that we've gotten their attention with statistics that they found 'shocking,' but now they want specific advice on what to do about it." Tonight's forum will bring together Police Chief Scott Rohmer, school resource officer LuAnn Tomaso, school social worker Jessica Schendel, Genesis Counseling Services executive director Bill Horne, and Moro to provide additional information and strategies for parents to help keep their children safe. Ashland students will also be present to talk about what the problem of youth substance abuse looks like from their perspective. For information, contact Moro at 508-881-0177, ext. 5226, or rmoro@ - Rachel Lebeaux

LONGTIME RESIDENT HONORED - Marian Thornton has been named this year's honored citizen by the Public Ceremonies and Celebrations Committee. Thornton, who has lived in town for 40 years, has served on a number of boards and committees focusing on environmental and land preservation issues. She began by joining the Concord-Carlisle League of Women Voters. Thornton later founded a recycling and drop-and-swap program, and cofounded the Concord Home Ownership Corporation to acquire homes for resale for low-income families in town. She has also been on the town's Natural Resources Commission and the Concord Land Conservation Trust. Thornton's name will be added to the plaque in the Town House, and she will be asked to lead the Patriots Day Parade. - Jennifer Fenn Lefferts

WELL FIELDS REPLENISHED - Following one of the wettest Februarys in memory, ground-water levels at town well fields have been replenished, Hopkinton water and sewer manager Eric J. Carty said, allowing for the return to a voluntary outdoor-use restriction until May 1. At that time, though, state-mandated restrictions will kick back in, Carty said in a news release. Detailed information about those limits will be mailed to residents. Details about both indoor and outdoor conservation tips are available at, including a discount for Hopkinton residents on rain barrels and free hose bibs to attach to outside faucets, preventing the backflow of dangerous chemicals into the home through a lawn hose. - Michele Morgan Bolton

PARKING GARAGE PROPOSAL REJECTED - A committee appointed by selectmen has rejected the only proposal received to redevelop a municipal parking garage on Middlesex Avenue. The proposal, submitted jointly by Genesis Planners of Waltham and Oaktree Development of Cambridge, failed to meet a specification of a minimum of 330 parking spaces, said Selectman John Ciccariello. Officials will start over by month's end, he said: "We're also appointing a subcommittee to look at everything we've done here." While some downtown parking is probably needed, Ciccariello said, the required number of spaces might be too much. - Michele Morgan Bolton

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