Sunday, August 28, 2016

"the toll structure may not meet the Legislative intent to ensure equitable tolling"



"State Sen. Karen Spilka is taking the lead in questioning the rates and privacy of the Mass. Pike's new All Electronic Tolling System by sending a letter to state transportation officials. 
The system is set to go live on Oct. 28. 
In the letter sent to Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack Friday, the Ashland Democrat says many in Legislature worry about the impact to drivers based on recent news reports. The letter is signed by 10 other senators."


Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20160826/ashland-state-senator-takes-aim-at-tolls



  • The text of the letter from Senator Spilka:


Dear Secretary Pollack,

Based on a series of articles over the past week related to the transition to an All Electronic Tolling System (AETS) on the Western Turnpike, Metropolitan Highway System, and the Tobin Bridge, we are concerned about the impact of changes to the toll structure and the privacy rights of those traveling on Massachusetts roads.

In particular, we are surprised to read about proposed changes to the toll rates on the Western Turnpike. According to these articles, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation noted that some drivers will see increases while others will see decreases depending on where they enter and exit the turnpike. As you know, the Legislature has long advocated for toll equity and we are deeply concerned about the impact of any toll increases either overall or individually on our constituents. In fact, the 2013 transportation finance law includes language prohibiting revenue collected from toll increases from counting toward the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's own source revenue benchmarks unless an equitable system is established to place tolls on other non-tolled roads. As currently proposed, the toll structure may not meet the Legislative intent to ensure equitable tolling on the Western Turnpike and other roads.

In order to get a better understanding of the proposal, please provide a response to the following questions:

  1. What are the exact locations of the gantries as compared to the current toll plaza locations?
  2. How do the toll rates compare based on the location of each current toll plaza and each gantry, including differences based on having a Massachusetts-issued transponder, an out of state transponder, and no transponder (including processing fees)?
  3. Will there be a grace period to give travelers time to obtain E-ZPass transponders?
  4. What is the proposed amount of the assessment, in addition to the toll, for drivers who do not obtain a transponder?
  5. How will the new toll rates be conveyed to drivers? Will there be signs or other forms of notification posted at the gantries?
  6. What was the methodology used to determine the location of the gantries, the number of gantries, and the amount each toll proposed at each gantry compared to the current toll plazas?
  7. If the hearings result in significant feedback, will the timeline for the new toll structure be delayed or comments incorporated?
  8. Will all current toll plazas be taken down at the same time? What is the cost of tearing the toll plazas down?
  9. What is the expected cost of the early retirement incentive program for toll collectors?
  10. What is the expected savings of the AETS broken down by fiscal year?
  11. What is the expected toll revenue collected on the Western Turnpike under the AETS compared to the current toll revenue collected on the Western Turnpike?
  12. When will the bond obligations be paid in full? If, in January 2017, the bonds are fully paid how much is expected to be required on a fiscal year basis to deem the turnpike in good condition and repair?
  13. How much toll revenue was collected in fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016? How much of that toll revenue was used to pay the bond obligations and how much was used for maintenance and repair on the turnpike? Was there any surplus from the toll revenue on the turnpike in any of the previous 5 years?
  14. What region or district on 1-90 from the New York state border to mile marker 122.6 will face the greatest impact, either an increase or a decrease, as a result of the proposed changes to the toll structure?
  15. What specific driver and vehicle information be maintained? 
  16. How long will driver and vehicle information be maintained?
  17. Will the data be maintained by a third party or by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation?
  18. Who will have access to the data collected by the gantries?
  19. How will gantry data collection differ from current data collection?


Following receipt of the above-referenced information, we request a meeting to discuss the proposal in detail. Thank you for your time and consideration in regard to this request. We look forward to hearing from you on this matter.



Devices on new gantries above the Massachusetts Turnpike will soon collect tolls. For now, they’re capturing data on driving speeds.- ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE
Devices on new gantries above the Massachusetts Turnpike will soon collect tolls. For now, they’re capturing data on driving speeds.- ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE


A PDF copy of the letter including the ten signatures




Facing Addiction Across America (YouTube series)


"Facing Addiction Across America is a web-series that chronicles the journey of two best friends as they take to the road and travel from their home state of California to Philadelphia. Ryan and Garrett met in addiction treatment and have experienced first-hand the struggle of addiction and the opportunities that comes from living in recovery."






"Ryan Hampton and his best friend Garrett Hade are traveling from California to Philadelphia where Ryan is serving as an elected delegate to the Democratic National Convention. Along the way, they'll be talking with people in the Facing Addiction Action Network about the urgency of making addiction and recovery a top priority for both major political parties in this election year. Follow their journey on social media with #AddictionXAmerica."





I'll continue to post a pair of episodes until the series completes. If you want to feel free to find the next in the series by clicking through to YouTube.

You can help support the SAFE Coalition which works to provide support for those of our neighbors who need it.  http://safecoalitionma.com/

S.A.F.E. is a coalition of community partners who have come together to provide support, education, treatment options, and coping mechanisms for those affected by substance abuse disorder.
S.A.F.E. is a coalition of community partners who have come together to provide support, education, treatment options, and coping mechanisms for those affected by substance abuse disorder.

News and upcoming events for Charles River Meadowlands

We have two important upcoming events to mention and we would also like to continue to offer kudos to Rep. Roy, Rep. Kuros, and Rep. Fernandes for passing our $25,000 line item!

The long summer included all kinds of action on Beacon Hill. First, the effort to get the line item through both chambers and then, the equally difficult effort to restore it to the budget after Governor Baker removed it. Our friends in the House managed it all!

At present, Franklin Town Manager Jeff Nutting is working with the Department of Fish and Game to try to move forward and ensure that the money is used appropriately.

Locally, we have spent much time meeting (back in July) and planning for our Charles River Meadowlands Workshop, scheduled for Sept. 27 at 6 pm at the First Universalist Society, 262 Chestnut St, Franklin, MA 02038. (Thanks to Sue Bencuya for helping with that!). 

The event will include a brief intro and overview for those new to "the Meadowlands" and will then have some presentations about how other similar efforts have been organized in the past. Then we are looking to tap into the "wisdom of the crowd" by engaging everyone present in a lively conversation about what and where to focus, how to move ahead, etc. Please come and bring a friend!

We also have a meeting schedule for Aug. 30, 6:30 pm at the Arcand room of the Bellingham Town Hall. This will mostly focus on planning for the September 27 event. But, as always, everyone is welcome and we are anxious to hear from you.

Finally, kudos for Marjorie Turner Holman, who has helped us get some good visibility in local media, including the Milford Daily News!

Keep in touch. Alan Earls can be reached at 508 528 6930 or via email at alan.r.earls@gmail.com and our Website is updated from time to time, as well: www.charlesrivermeadowlands.org​

http://www.charlesrivermeadowlands.org/
image from http://www.charlesrivermeadowlands.org/

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Nemo found amidst smiling faces (photo essay)

There were lots of smiling faces on the Beaver St field Friday night for the showing of "Finding Nemo." Dozens of #shopFranklin businesses came together along with Franklin TV and the Franklin Recreation Dept. to sponsor and conduct the event for free. 

Over $500 in raffle tickets were sold to help benefit the SAFE Coalition.

the raffle and information table for the SAFE Coalition
the raffle and information table for the SAFE Coalition

the big screen gets set up
the big screen gets set up

free gift bags for the first 50 families
free gift bags for the first 50 families

the crowd gets settled for the movie. A preview roll touted the #shopFranklin businesses helping to put on the event
the crowd gets settled for the movie. A preview roll touted the #shopFranklin businesses helping to put on the event

and before the movie, Beaver Pond looked very inviting!
and before the movie, Beaver Pond looked very inviting!
Thanks to Sarah Mabardy for leading the #shopFranklin effort to make this a wonderful night.

In the News: Taste of the Towns, Rise and Shine food drive, Tri-County gardens produce

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"The 11th annual Taste Of The Towns will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 15 at The Portuguese Club, 119 Prospect Heights, Milford. Proceeds of this year’s event will support the Medical Center’s Palliative Care Service. 
Participating restaurants include 3 Restaurant, 110 Grill, Alicante, Atria Draper Place, Bamboo Express, British Beer Company, Candy Cottage, Dinner & Company, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hay Wagon, Jalapeno’s Grill, Jr’s Diner, Little White Market, Miss Mendon Diner, Milford Regional Medical Center’s Atrium Cafe, Oliva’s Market, Price Chopper, Restaurant 45 and Wanokura. There will also be prize raffles, a 50-50 cash raffle and a cash bar. 
Tickets are limited, and are on sale now. To purchase tickets: 508-473-4493. 
Tickets cost $35 in advance and $40 at the door."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20160826/taste-of-towns-set-for-sept-15



"The St. Vincent DePaul Society of St. Mary’s Parish, 1 Church Square, will host the Rise and Shine food drive Sept. 3-4. 
Donations of breakfast foods, especially instant oatmeal, dry cereals, Pop-Tarts, protein bars, granola bars, pancake mix, maple syrup, corn muffin mix, peanut butter, juice boxes, tea, coffee and school snacks will be accepted. 
All items must be in the original packaging. Donations can be left in the boxes at the doors of the church at any time."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20160826/st-vincent-depaul-society-to-hold-food-drive



"Dry conditions presented new challenges to the teacher and student volunteers responsible for maintaining the garden at Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School this summer. Despite the drought, the garden yielded 300 pounds of fresh produce by Aug. 23. The garden yielded 325 pounds by the same time last year. 
All of the produce harvested from the garden is donated to local food pantries. 
Culinary arts instructor and garden coordinator Nancy Haney said plants were wilting at a faster rate than in the past, but the garden was still enveloped in red tomatoes and yellow sunflowers. This year’s newest additions to the garden were cabbage, kale and corn."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)
http://www.milforddailynews.com/news/20160826/tri-county-garden-yields-produce-despite-drought

Culinary Arts Instructor and Garden Coordinator Nancy Haney
Culinary Arts Instructor and Garden Coordinator Nancy Haney

Berry Insurance Gives $5,000 to Boston Children's Hospital as Winner of 2016 Safeco Insurance® Make More Happen Award

Berry Insurance in Franklin has earned a 2016 Safeco Insurance Make More Happen Award for its community work with Boston Children's Hospital.

The award includes a $4,000 donation to Boston Children's Hospital from Safeco Insurance. Berry Insurance agent, Amanda Spittell, and Boston Children's Hospital also had a story featured on Safeco.com, which awarded the hospital an additional $1,000. For the hospital to win the extra money, at least 50 different individuals had to leave a virtual "cheer" on the Safeco.com story.

Photo Left to right: (L to R)- Kaitlyn Pintarich, President of Berry Insurance; Megan Leibovitz, Child Life Specialist at Boston Children's Hospital; Lauren Wilson, Child Life Specialist at Boston Children's Hospital and Christopher Pintarich, Vice President of Berry Insurance.
Photo Left to right: (L to R)- Kaitlyn Pintarich, President of Berry Insurance; Megan Leibovitz, Child Life Specialist at Boston Children's Hospital; Lauren Wilson, Child Life Specialist at Boston Children's Hospital and Christopher Pintarich, Vice President of Berry Insurance.

Safeco's Make More Happen Awards recognize independent agents who demonstrate extraordinary volunteerism for a nonprofit organization. These awards focus on nonprofits in the areas of health and safety, education and civil service. Berry Insurance was selected for the Make More Happen Award based on a photo and application demonstrating its commitment to Boston Children's Hospital, which serves Boston and the surrounding area by providing care, leading research and educating the next generation.

For 10 years, Berry Insurance employees have collected Halloween costumes for children to wear during the hospital's parade and trick-or-treating events. The insurance agency has provided nearly all of the approximately 400 patients, and their siblings, the chance to participate in Halloween.

"Safeco is committed to encouraging agents to make a difference in their local communities, and through the Make More Happen program, we enable them to directly support the programs where they personally see the greatest need," said Meghan Chase, Safeco Insurance northeast territory manager. "We are thrilled to see so many agents participating in this program, and we're proud to help them support the local charities they care about most."

Throughout 2016, Safeco will select a total of 66 independent agencies for the awards and donate up to $330,000 to the nonprofits they support. The Make More Happen Awards are a part of Safeco Insurance's Agent Giving Program.


About Safeco Insurance

In business since 1923 and based in Boston, Mass., Safeco Insurance sells personal automobile, homeowners and specialty products through a network of more than 10,000 independent insurance agencies throughout the United States. Safeco is a Liberty Mutual Insurance company.

Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance is a diversified insurer and the fifth largest property and casualty insurer in the U.S. based on 2015 direct written premium data as reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Liberty Mutual is ranked 73rd on the Fortune 100 list of largest corporations in the U.S. based on 2015 revenue.

For more information about Safeco Insurance, go to www.Safeco.com.