Wednesday, December 31, 2008

"We've got a tough road ahead of us"

Aid to towns and cities could be on the chopping block in a second round of midyear state budget cuts that local officials were grimly expecting, but have little capacity to absorb.

Gov. Deval Patrick announced yesterday he will ask the Legislature for expanded authority to cut the state budget because tax collections may drop another $1 billion below projections.

This comes just two months after declining tax revenues triggered $1.4 billion in cuts that included state layoffs, but steered clear of the local aid that fuels municipal departments and schools.

Patrick said yesterday, however, local aid is now on the table.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"being respectful and kind to others"

The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Dec 29, 2008 @ 11:04 PM

It's all about relationships. And rising to a challenge.

As a community resource officer in Franklin, Patrolman Dan MacLean's job includes talking to senior citizens about identity theft, and helping students stay on the straight and narrow.

"The most rewarding aspects of my job are the relationships that I have developed within these groups."

MacLean has another role in the community. The former assistant coach for the Franklin High School football and wrestling teams became head football coach at Tri-County three years ago.

"I believe being a police officer and coach is an advantage on a number of fronts. While acting in the capacity of a coach, I have the ability to challenge the students on and off the fields, both in athletics and academically. This also allows me to develop relationships and a degree of trust with the student population."

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


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"They're losing a lot on their investments"

GHS
Posted Dec 29, 2008 @ 10:57 PM

Winter weather is causing a soggy new headache for towns and cities working to keep foreclosed homes from becoming safety hazards: water pipes that freeze and burst in empty houses.

In Franklin, burst pipes damaged two foreclosed condominiums in the Forge Hill area, Building Commissioner David Roche said.

"This house had about six inches of water in the basement," Roche said. "Unless you get that stuff out of there - the wet sheet rock, the wet rugs and everything - mold will start growing."

Municipal officials say when these problems spring up, they usually happen in homes partway through the foreclosure process, or taken over by far-away or financially troubled mortgage companies.

The residents have left, and power and heat are shut off. But the water is still on, and pipes and water heaters have not been drained. They freeze when temperatures drop, sometimes bursting the pipes as the ice expands, and the water flows out freely when they thaw.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mercury Thermometer Exchange

Did you know that you could use the Mercury Thermometer Exchange at Town Hall?

The program takes place daily in the Board of Health office. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Wednesday 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM and Friday 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

Your glass mercury fever thermometer will be exchanged for a new digital thermometer.

Mercury is a metallic element commonly found in glass fever thermometers. Mercury is a neurotoxin in low doses and is released into the environment can potentially cause harm to the environment and to human health.

You can confirm this on the Town Board of Health web page here

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Board of Health facts - part 2

Amongst the statistics provided in the 2008 Annual Report is the communicable diseases that the Board of Health is required to track. In the two dozen odd listed in the Annual Report the top three were:
  • Lyme disease -> 61
  • Chicken pox - > 44
  • Dog bites - 17

If you have not picked up your hard copy of the report at Town Hall, you can try to view it online here: http://www.town.franklin.ma.us/pages/FranklinMA_Clerk/2008arpt.pdf

Coverage of the Board of Health begins on Page 89.

Board of Health facts

Local Boards of Health are required by State Statutes and regulations to perform many important and crucial duties relative to the protection of public health. The following is a small list of duties the local Board of Health has concerning sanitation and environment problems.


A. Record Keeping. Administrative: Permits, Licenses, Plan review maintain records for the minimum time period, process death certificates.

B. Health and Disease control communicable disease tracking and reporting 105 CMR 300.100. Report listed diseases to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Receive track, inspect and report to the state DPH cases of food poisoning.

C. Housing and dwellings: Enforce chapter II of the State Sanitary Code. 105 CMR 410.000 (Minimum Standards For Human Habitation). Inspections, Condemnation and demolition orders. Hearings on associated issues.

D. Hazardous Waste controls 310 CMR. Hazardous waste management. Oil and hazardous material spills Permits for waste haulers. Contact DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) for approved waste sites and spill incidences. Approve waste sites and transfer stations.

E. Solid waste: landfills 310 CMR. Approve sanitary landfills and transfer stations.

F. Sewage and garbage: Enforce Title V of the State Environmental Code 310 CMR( Minimum Requirements For The Subsurface Disposal of Sewage). Inspections of new and existing systems. Review of engineered septic plans. Investigate complaints. Process permits

G. Nuisances: Judged a public health risk.

H. Food Establishment Inspections: 105 CMR 590. Inspection. Follow up on complaints. Investigate food borne illness. Address deficiencies and bring food establishments up to code. Assure the proper/sanitary preparation of foods (temperature and storage conditions). Monitor labeling requirements for food products.

I. Pool and Beaches Inspections: Chapter V of the State sanitary Code.

J. Camps, Motels and Mobile Home Parks: 105 CMR 440.000.

K. Miscellaneous Health Complaints: Day care, Pesticides etc.

L. Permitting and inspecting. This includes biotechnology facilities with rDNA and or Infectious agents classification under Town Bylaw Ch. 198-1.

You can find this information on the Franklin Town page here

The top level Board of Health page can be found here

Friday, December 26, 2008

Franklin History - percolator patent

1865 - James H. Mason of Franklin, MA patented the coffee percolator that makes coffee good to the last drop!

Fire Dept - Reports

In addition to the statistics provided in the 2008 Annual Report, the Fire Department publishes their performance statistics monthly to their section of the Town web site.

You can find the Fire Department page here

You can find the report section here

You can find the monthly response statistics here




If you have not picked up your hard copy of the report at Town Hall, you can try to view it online here: http://www.town.franklin.ma.us/pages/FranklinMA_Clerk/2008arpt.pdf

Coverage of the Fire Department begins on Page 82.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

in the news: pre-school, kindergarten

First Friends drop-off preschool class offered

By GateHouse Media, Inc.

The Franklin Recreation Department isoffering a drop-off preschool class starting on Monday, Jan. 5 or Tuesday, Jan. 6, 9:30-11 a.m.

Do you have a 2-3 year old who wishes they could go to school? Let your preschooler enjoy some independence and socialization with peers in this preschool curriculum based drop off class taught by two certified teachers.

Each week we will explore a different theme and have related activities such as stories, songs, fingerplays, art activities, and games as well as gross motor play. This 1 1/2 hour class is a great transitioning first step before preschool and longer drop off activities. Snack is provided, however if your child has allergies we ask that you provide their snack. Also, send a labeled sippy cup for your child.

This class will be held at the Franklin Recreation Department, 150 Emmons St. Call to register.

This article was originally posted here

-------------

Kindergarten registration set for 2009-2010 in Franklin

By GateHouse Media, Inc.

Kindergarten Registration for the Franklin Public Schools will be held in the Horace Mann School Cafeteria, 224 Oak St., Feb. 2 and 3, 4 to 6 p.m., and Feb. 4 and 5, 3 to 5 p.m.

All children born on or before Aug. 31, 2004, are eligible to register for kindergarten.

Bring the following along for registration:

1. Original birth certificate — Original and a copy for school files.

2. Immunization Record — You will not be able to register your child without a physician’s copy of the immunization record.

3. Proof of residence — All applicants for kindergarten enrollment must bring at least one document each from the following categories:

Category A: Record of recent mortgage payment or tax bill, copy of a lease and a record of a recent rental payment, landlord affidavit (notarized letter) and a recent rental payment, Section 8 agreement, or a signed HUD settlement statement.

Category B: valid driver’s license, valid Massachusetts photo ID card, passport, or other government-issued photo ID.

Franklin preschools and day cares will be sending kindergarten registration folders home with your child. If your child does not attend a Franklin preschool or daycare, folders will be available at registration and also at the F.X.O’Regan Early Childhood Development Center, located at 224 Oak Street (rear).

Call 508-541-8166, ext. 2938, for assistance.



This was originally posted here

"wearing all black and using a black umbrella"

GHS
Posted Dec 23, 2008 @ 11:25 PM

FRANKLIN —

Police will likely not charge the 29-year-old driver whose dump truck struck and killed 90-year-old Palma A. Johnson while she was walking to morning Mass on Dec. 11, said Deputy Police Chief Stephan Semerjian.

Accident reconstructionists advised against charging the driver, Norwood resident Derek Hamlin, who was operating a 10-wheel dump truck for Joe Woodall & Son Construction of Franklin after concluding he was driving in a "reasonable manner" and reacted properly, he said.

Johnson was walking on a crosswalk on Pleasant Street at 6:56 a.m., coming from the charter school area, when Hamelin's truck hit her, he said.

"It was a very rainy, dark morning," Semerjian said.

Police reports also stated Johnson was wearing all black and using a black umbrella to shield herself from the rain, said Lt. Thomas Lynch. There have been a number of accidents at Church Square, Semerjian said, speculating that many drivers are coming from the Norfolk direction toward St. Mary's and are probably focused on the traffic lights rather than the crosswalk 40 or 50 feet past the lights.

The accident reconstruction was "pretty exhaustive," Semerjian said.

Police conducted a test of the ambient light.

"At no time did it reach a point where the light measure would have allowed him (Hamlin) to see. (He) was operating in a safe manner in regards to the road conditions," Semerjian said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


Fire Dept -

Did you know that the 2008 Annual Report provides the Mission Statement for the Fire Department?

The mission of the Franklin Fire Department is to …
  • Have a positive impact in the lives of citizens and visitors of Franklin in their time of crisis by providing compassionate, contemporary, community driven services.
  • Safeguard human life from the perils of fire, sudden illness, injury or other emergency medical condition, natural and man-made disasters as well as preserve the environment and property from ensuing destruction.
  • Be responsible for a safe, productive and pleasant work environment for our employees, and provide them opportunities to gain new skills and advance their personal career goals.
----------

The operational objectives the department uses to measure its success in meeting our mission are:
  1. Initiating advanced life support to patients within 8 minutes of receiving the telephone call at our communications center.
  2. To access, extricate, treat and transport and transport trauma patients to a level one trauma medical facility within one hour of the occurrence of the injury.
  3. Interrupt the progression of fires in structures within 8 minutes of open flame ignition.
  4. Maintain overall emergency response readiness above 70%.
  5. Provide safety and survival skills for all school students in grade K through 5 consistent with the Student Awareness Fire Education (SAFE) initiative of the Commonwealth.
  6. Provide educational opportunities for department members to insure optimal performance and safety.
  7. To develop and maintain “best practice” to insure personnel and citizen safety.
  8. Insure fire safety through timely, consistent code compliance services to all external customers.
  9. Provide all department services in a manner that satisfies the needs of our customers.

If you have not picked up your hard copy of the report at Town Hall, you can try to view it online here: http://www.town.franklin.ma.us/pages/FranklinMA_Clerk/2008arpt.pdf

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"start being more aware of their role (in the community)"

GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 22, 2008 @ 10:17 PM

FRANKLIN —

Rather than Girl Scouts or the other clubs they would normally join, seven students at Annie Sullivan Middle School signed up to spend their time after school helping people and saving the environment.

In their first few months with the school's new service club, Communiteen, the young women have already collected more than 250 coats for kids, a roomful of presents and donations for needy families to open up on Christmas and started researching a new community project.

``I grew up always knowing it's important to feel responsible for other people and to help out other people,'' said Mariel Calnan, an eighth-grade special education teacher at Annie Sullivan who started and runs the group.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


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Safe Party Guide from MADD

If you are going to be hosting a party during this holiday season, please check out the Safe Party Guide from MADD here.

It may help to prevent something that would spoil the party or the season!

Financial Planning Committee Minutes - 11/20/08

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
November 20,2008

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 pm

Members present: Finance Committee members James Roche, and Rebecca Cameron, Councilors Deborah Bartlett and Steve Whalen. School Committee Members, Roberta Trahan and Matt Kelley. Residents, Doug Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek.

Also present were Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, School Superintendent Wayne Ogden and School Finance Director Miriam Goodman.

Motion to accept the minutes of October 16, 2008 by Councilor Bartlett.
Second by Roberta Trahan
Vote: Yes all

The Superintendent of Schools gave an in depth review of the FY 10 budget requests.
The Schools will need a 6.45% increase or $3.2 million to maintain the level of service.
They would also need an additional $600,000 for the next five-years to restore the reductions in force over the last several years.

The School budget is 83% personnel costs, while SPED and health insurance make up a large portion of the remaining budget.

The Committee asks questions in attempts to understand the barriers and any potential ideas.

The meeting adjourned at 9:05 pm

Respectfully,

Jeff Nutting

Monday, December 22, 2008

"There's really been a culture change"

Over the past decade, Revere has seen significant statistical drops in the percentage of middle school and high school students who use and abuse alcohol, coinciding with what local officials, parents, and students themselves say has been a shift in attitudes about drinking.

That's no accident. Since 1997, Massachusetts General Hospital and Partners HealthCare have spent $4.4 million to fund a program called Revere CARES, designed to reduce teen drinking and substance abuse in a community where adults themselves abused alcohol and drugs at considerably higher rates than the state as a whole.

....

The data show particular improvement among middle schoolers' behavior in the five years since Revere CARES launched a campaign called the "Power of Know," which included getting more than 1,000 parents of adolescents to sign cards pledging to talk with their children about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, listen to their kids, and get to know their children's friends and their parents.

Bold for my emphasis

Read the full article in the Boston Globe here


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Teacher Resources - Lab Out Loud

For science teachers and those interested in science, Lab Out Loud is a wonderful resource.

Why?
It highlights other good resources within the world of science.

For example: The Periodic Table of Videos hosted by the University of Nottingham



Enjoy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

stone tree in snow


stone tree in snow, originally uploaded by shersteve.

It is good to walk your route in reverse.

As many times as I have passed this tree, I was always coming the other way and never noticed the fine stone work where a limb once was.

Go the other way for a change.

Enjoy!

Prop 2 1/2 Limits Growth

This posting was originally made on June 26, 2008. Since that time, there has been an extended conversation going on in the comments. In order to bring those comments more to the light, I am updating this to bring it forward from the June archives.

------------------


HIDDEN CONSEQUENCES: LESSONS FROM MASSACHUSETTS FOR STATES CONSIDERING A PROPERTY TAX CAP, is a report issued by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May. In part, it summarizes:

“Across Massachusetts, a number of communities have been forced to lay off teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other public employees; close fire stations; shut libraries, senior centers, and recreation centers or sharply reduce their hours; and scale back public school programs. One town even turned off its street lights to save money,” said Iris Lav, the Center’s deputy director and co-author of the report.

According to the report, Proposition 2 ½, which limits the growth in communities’ property tax revenue for all services including education to 2.5 percent a year, has:

  • Arbitrarily constrained local revenues without considering the actual cost of providing services. “The fundamental problem with property tax caps is that they don’t make public services any less expensive,” said Lav. ”Costs like employee health insurance and special education are largely beyond localities’ control, and they’re rising much faster than the cap allows. Nor does the cap hold down the cost of heating buildings and operating school buses when oil prices are skyrocketing.” When these things occur, as they have in Massachusetts, other services have to be cut to fit total expenditures under the cap.

Read the full posting on the Franklin School Committee blog

Read the full report as referenced here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

"It's still under investigation"

GHS
Posted Dec 19, 2008 @ 09:20 PM

NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH —

A 21-year-old North Attleborough man stands accused of buying rum that was later given to Taylor Meyer, the Plainville teen who died in October after wandering away from an underage drinking party at the old Norfolk Airport, according to police.

Sean P. Flynn, of 269 West St., is charged with procuring alcohol for a person under 21 and is scheduled for a show-cause hearing on Dec. 24 at Attleboro District Court.

"There was no arrest. He was served with a summons," said North Attleborough Police Chief Michael P. Gould Sr., noting the summons was served Dec. 17.

Gould said a clerk magistrate will determine at the hearing whether there is probable cause to issue a criminal complaint and send the case to court.

Flynn stands accused of obtaining two bottles of Baccardi rum for Brian Zuzick, 19, of 6 Red Coat Lane, Plainville, who then passed one bottle on to 17-year-old Taylor Meyer and the second to an unidentified, 17-year-old classmate of Meyer's, police allege.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here


Friday, December 19, 2008

WASTED - FHS Student presentation

Here is the PowerPoint slide show that was the backdrop for the FHS student performance at the information session hosted by W.A.S.T."E"D. on December 2, 2008.




The audio files from the WASTED evening can be found here

My thanks to Maruska Waters and Principal Pam Gould for sharing this presentation.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Clear expectations with consistent consequences.”

“Clear expectations with consistent consequences.”

This is the number one message from the forum for parents on adolescent substance abuse and other social issues held at the King Philip Regional High School on Wednesday, December 17th.

Dr. Nicole Danforth from the Massachusetts General Hospital Addiction Recovery program highlighted this in her summary of the four take aways she provided to the parents. She carefully explained that teenagers are having a tough time growing up but that this is due to the normal biological development period that occurs. If she were to put her finger on the single age when the human brain is completely formed and enabled for rational decision making, it would be 25. So there is no need to wonder why a 15 or 18 year old can’t make a good decision especially where alcohol and other substances are involved.

Dr. Danforth’s four take aways
  1. Adolescents are not mini-adults
  2. Risk taking is normal, biologically driven and inevitable
  3. Binge drinking is common
  4. You (as a parent) matter more than you think

You need to be a parent for your teen. They have plenty of friends. Be a good role model. Set out the guidelines on what you will allow, what you won’t. Show your concern. This will help them to frame the risk taking they will try. They can and do take risks in many aspects of their life. At this age with the peer pressure and culture that abounds, just speaking out in class can be taking a risk. They don’t need to be taking a risk with alcohol where the consequences can be life altering.

Steve Adamec, director of the Bristol County Family Stabilization Team seconded Dr. Danforth’s line on clear expectations with consistent consequences. He emphasized that this can come from communication, communication, communication.

He provided 3 c’s
  1. Create
  2. Connect
  3. Communicate

Teens who have developed a strategy for dealing with stress are more likely to avoid substance abuse.

030904-N-9593R-008 Washington, D.C. – Recordin...Image via Wikipedia
How can you connect with your teen? Steve outlined 5 key opportunities:
  1. Pick a fictional character
  2. Use a “role” model from media (i.e Brittany Spears)
  3. An athlete
  4. A classmate
  5. A relative

Any one of these opportunities can provide an entry to the conversation. Ask specific questions that require more than a single word answer. Follow up on the first response. Not to be negative, not to be punitive but to be inquisitive and caring.

“Silence is permission.” If you don’t say anything, you have provided your tacit approval for their behavior or conduct.

Michael Jackman from the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office reinforced the importance of keeping the conversation going. He referenced studies that show when teens are provided a clear message with distinct consequences; they are less likely to end up with substance abuse.

Parents will benefit when they can delay their teens first use of alcohol. This ties back into the biological development going on at this time that Dr. Danforth discussed. Alcohol early in their teen years can do some damage. If their first drink is in their 20’s, the damage will be less. They will be better enabled to handle it.

Michael went on to discuss the online behavior of today’s teens. They are tech saving, texting and always connected via their cell phones. Parents who have been focused on the predator awareness for their younger children still need to have conversations with their teenagers. The teens do not grasp the fact that once they post a picture on the internet that is available for anyone to see. Their online profile is important. Parents need to be involved because the teens are so into the moment and invincible, they do not think about the long term consequences of their actions. They are not capable of it at this age.

Plainville Police Chief Edward Merrick emphasized that it is the parents job, really their obligation to be involved with their teen. Make the effort to know your teens friends, and the parents of their friends. If they are going to do an overnight, check to see that the parents are there. Those parents will appreciate the fact that you checked in with them. Be aware of the social host obligation. There are ramifications if you don’t. Parenting is not rocket science but it is not something you have to do alone. There are plenty of resources available.

Let your teen know that there will be consequences every time they step outside the boundaries you have set for them.

King Philip Superintendent Dr. Dick Robbat facilitated the Q&A section. The panel agreed that there is no such thing as “healthy adolescent drinking”. This is not to say that for a special occasion, religious or cultural event, that there can’t be a sip of wine or champagne. This is a family decision and due to the religious and cultural aspects of it, they would not say it was good. Framed in that context, the act of a single drink becomes special.

Just as the W.A.S.T."E".D. Information session at Franklin High was the first of a series, there will be additional forums and information sessions on this and related topics at King Phillip.

The conversation needs to continue.




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"every person has a place in the political spectrum"

GHS
Posted Dec 18, 2008 @ 12:41 AM

Life in the Barack Obama administration is tough - it's a seven-day-a-week, 15-hour-a-day job, leaving precious little time for loved ones, or really anything else.

But for Franklin native Jennifer O'Malley Dillon, who serves as President-elect Barack Obama's associate director of personnel after working three presidential campaigns, it's all worth it.

"I love what I do. There are so many great parts of my job. To me, the best part is, I get up every morning and do something I believe in," said O'Malley Dillon.

"I really have been lucky - I've lived in Louisiana, South Dakota, Florida, and got to know people from all over the country, and it's been a tremendous experience," she said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


"I just wish people would participate"

GHS
Posted Dec 18, 2008 @ 01:15 AM

FRANKLIN —

Town Council unanimously voted to endorse a five-year open space and recreation plan, making the town eligible for grants.

The long-term plan includes five goals:

* Increasing public awareness of open space and recreation opportunities in Franklin;

* Preserving, protecting and enhancing the town's existing open space resources;

* Maximizing recreational opportunities to meet the town's evolving needs by providing new facilities and programs;

* Protecting the natural, historical and cultural resources to maintain Franklin's New England character.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


"the time of year to extract the joy of life"

James Johnston writes in his bi-weekly column:

FRANKLIN —

This is the week before the sixty-fifth Christmas of my life time. My first Christmas was celebrated on Dec. 25, in the year 1944. Hitler was taking a licking from the Russians in the east and the Americans and British and their allies in the west. 1944 was to be Hitler's last Christmas. I don't think anybody was too sad about that.

My father was in the Philippines. My mother posed me in all of my tubby cuteness under the Christmas tree in my little Christmas outfit with a very large stuffed Panda Bear, that was to be my boon companion for many years to come, for a photograph to be sent off to my dad in the far Pacific in that last year of the war. There were other things under that tree to be sure, and years later I would dig them up from the earth around the outside of the house.

Continue reading about the items he buried around his house in the Milford Daily News here


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"can result in both civil and criminal penalties"

GHS
Posted Dec 17, 2008 @ 01:06 AM

FRANKLIN —

An Upper Union Street sheet metal company will have to pay nearly $50,000 in restitution and penalties for violating the state's wage and overtime laws, Attorney General Martha Coakley's office announced yesterday.

The attorney general has issued a civil citation against Custom Metal Systems, Ltd., and owner Sarah Farren, 45, of Wrentham, for unintentionally violating the state's wage and overtime laws.

Farren was ordered to pay $42,507 in restitution to the affected employees and a $4,600 fine for unintentionally failing to pay the proper prevailing wage.

In August, Coakley's Fair Labor Division received complaints from two employees alleging the company failed to pay the proper wage and overtime for sheet metal work performed at the Ralph Small Elementary School project in Fall River.

Investigators conducted an audit of the company's certified and general payroll records and found the company had misclassified 14 employees as laborers rather than sheet metal workers.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

"I don't want to leave any stone unturned"

GHS
Posted Dec 17, 2008 @ 01:18 AM

PLAINVILLE —

Police arrested a man they say provided rum to King Philip High senior Taylor Meyer before she wandered off alone from an underage drinking party and drowned.

The 17-year-old Meyer was found dead in a Norfolk swamp three days later, on Oct. 20.

Brian Zuzick, 19, of 6 Redcoat Lane, Plainville, was arrested Monday and is charged with sale or delivery of alcohol to a person under 21 and purchase of alcohol by a person under 21, police said.

Police are following other related to the Oct. 17 party at the old Norfolk airport, where Meyer, also of Plainville, and other teens had gathered after King Philip's homecoming football game.

"This is an open investigation," said Plainville Police Chief Edward Merrick. "Where charges are warranted, they will be pursued."

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


Choices, choices

You can go to the Town Council meeting 7:00 PM at the Town Hall

or

Go to the production of "The Laramie Project" at 7:00 PM at Franklin High School's lecture hall.

or

Go to the auditorium at King Philip High School, Rte. 140, Wrentham, for a forum which will address both substance abuse by teens and parental strategies associated with substance use, at 7:00 PM

Town Council - Agenda - 12/17/08

December 17, 2008 7:00 PM

A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – November 5, 2008

B. ANNOUNCEMENTS

C. PROCLAMATIONS/RECOGNITIONS

D. CITIZEN COMMENTS

E. APPOINTMENTS

F. HEARINGS -

G. LICENSE TRANSACTIONS – Annual Alcohol License Renewals

H. PRESENTATIONS/DISCUSSIONS - Draft 2008 Open Space & Recreation Plan

I. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS

J. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
  1. Resolution 08-85: Endorsement of the Draft 2008 Open Space & Recreation Plan
  2. Zoning Bylaw Amendment 08-628: Chapter 185 Nonconforming Uses and Structures – 2nd Reading
  3. Bylaw Amendment 08-629: Amendment to Chapter 25: Personnel Regulations, Appendix A – Classification Plan- 2nd Reading

K. TOWN ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT

L. OLD BUSINESS

M. NEW BUSINESS

N. COUNCIL COMMENTS

O. EXECUTIVE SESSION – Negotiations, Litigation, Real Property, as May Be Required

P. ADJOURN

Industry: CPDocks - compact cell phone charger

In our continuing series on the companies who do business here in Franklin, we find this press release:

New Plug-in-Shelf Portable Cell Phone Charging Station Eliminates Cell Phone Clutter

The clutter from cell phones and cell phone charger cords is increasing due to the growing number of cell phone users in the home. The CP Docks brand of cell phone charging stations introduces a new portable unit, the Plug-in-Shelf. It joins the EZ Mount home organizer model introduced last year at www.cpdocks.com. The Plug-in-Shelf Cell Phone Charging Station is a convenient new cell phone accessory that simply plugs into any electrical outlet. When you travel, just unplug and go!

Franklin, MA (PRWEB) December 16, 2008 -- CP Docks introduces its latest cell phone charging station, the new, portable Plug-in-Shelf model, a product that eliminates the tangle of cell phone charger cord clutter from counters and tables. When you need to travel, simply unplug the unit and take your charger and charging station with you!
News Image
The Plug-in-Shelf cell phone accessory is a clever problem solver that allows cell phones, chargers and cords to be placed on a small convenient station that plugs into any electrical outlet in your home. The unit consists of a shelf for the phone, a cord holder to hide the charging cord and a unique plug adapter to plug in your existing charger. There is no need to store the charger when not in use since it can always stay with the charging station, even when you travel.

Manufactured from durable plastic with a skid-free pad to hold the phone or PDA, the Plug-in-Shelf plugs into any outlet and keeps your charger and cell phone in one place. No storing and looking for your charger and best of all, no more messy charger cords laying on your kitchen counter! The Plug-in-Shelf is $12.95 and available at www.cpdocks.com. with free first class shipping.

Professional home organizers have discovered the CP Docks cell phone chargers. Geralin Thomas, a professional organizer from North Carolina, recently learned about the units and put them in her own home.

My kitchen counter space had disappeared with the mess of cell phone cords from my husband and my two teenagers. It seemed I was always pushing them out of the way ... the EZ Mount solved my problems -- and the kids can finally find their car keys!

I am a contractor who can get a call in the middle of the night. I keep my EZ Mount next to my bed. The phone acts as a night light while charging and it is handy if I get a late night call. A great product!

"Recently, I discovered the Plug-in-shelf and I'm impressed! It's a gizmo that requires no learning curve, no batteries and best of all, it is inexpensive. This product actually conquers and cures countertop-cord-confusion. Clients love them. Professional Organizers love them. Geeks love them. Families love them. I appreciate the way one intelligently designed little thing can change the entire landscape of a room. If your counter tops are covered with cords from iPods, mobile phones, digital cameras, computer cables, etc. I suggest the Plug-in-Shelf or EZ Mount Cell Phone Charging Stations."--Geralin Thomas, Metropolitan Organizing, www.metropolitanorganizing.com

The benefits of the Plug-in-Shelf charging station include:

  • A permanent location for your cell phone and charger.
  • Uses your existing cell phone charger.
  • No more need to store your charger when not in use.
  • No more looking for your charger when you need to charge your phone.
  • Your cell phone is always charged and ready to use.
  • Keeps your tables and counters clear of messy charging cords.
  • Protects your phone from spills and damage.
  • It makes the perfect holiday gift.

Many other customers have discovered the benefits of the CP Docks line of cell phone charging stations.

"My kitchen counter space had disappeared with the mess of cell phone cords from my husband and my two teenagers. It seemed I was always pushing them out of the way ... the EZ Mount solved my problems -- and the kids can finally find their car keys!" -- Carol, MN

"The Plug-in-Shelf works great for me. I am getting an extra one for my fiancb-Wendy, MI

"I am a contractor who can get a call in the middle of the night. I keep my EZ Mount next to my bed. The phone acts as a night light while charging and it is handy if I get a late night call. A great product!" -- Dennis, MA

"I love it! It would be a great idea for a gift." -- Nancy, NH

The portable Plug-in-Shelf, along with the EZ Mount Charging Station, which features a built-in key hook, is now available online at www.cpdocks.com. You now have two great solutions to keep your home organized and clear of the tangle of cell phone charging cords.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Every fire death is a terrible tragedy"

GHS
Posted Dec 16, 2008 @ 12:43 AM

FRANKLIN —

A family member has identified 62-year-old Bruce N. Barck as the victim of the fatal fire Friday night at 652 Old West Central St.

Barck lived alone, said a cousin, Deborah Atchue of Worcester.

State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan's office said yesterday a space heater was the source of the the fire that claimed Barck's life.

Investigators concluded the fire started in the kitchen where a space heater was too close to combustible materials, said Coan's spokeswoman, Jennifer Mieth.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


Cable households - 2007

Did you know that the Town of Franklin 2008 Annual Report tells us that the total subscribers to cable are as follows:

Comcast -> 7818
Verizon -> 1833
Total cable subscribers -> 9651

The channels provided are

Cable Channels Comcast Verizon
Live 11 29
Playback 8 26
Educational Playback 96 28


If you have not picked up your hard copy of the report at Town Hall, you can try to view it online here: http://www.town.franklin.ma.us/pages/FranklinMA_Clerk/2008arpt.pdf

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Monday, December 15, 2008

"hate is wrong, it still exists and people need to end it"

GHS
Posted Dec 14, 2008 @ 11:52 PM

FRANKLIN —

As Madalyn Murtha watched "The Laramie Project," a play about one of the most notorious hate crimes in recent history, the normally stoic Franklin High student was so moved, she decided the work had to be performed at her school.

In the play by Moises Kaufman, characters react to the murder of 21-year-old Matthew Wayne Shepard, an openly gay college student from Casper, Wyo., who was killed in a hate crime in Oct. 1998.

Two men kidnapped, robbed and pistol-whipped him in Laramie, Wyo. They tied him to a fence where he remained for 18 hours in near freezing temperatures before he was found and taken to a hospital. He died as a result of his injuries from the brutal beating.

The compelling story inspired Murtha and Marushka Waters, theater teacher and director of "The Laramie Project," to perform the play in Franklin.

Franklin High School theater will present "The Laramie Project" at 7 p.m. at Franklin High School's lecture hall on Wed., Dec. 17, and Thursday, Dec. 18.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


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Free technology for teachers

Yes, there are free things with value. Finding a website with free things especially for teachers struggling with limited budgets and students eager to learn is a very good thing.

One to add to the list of "the best things in life are free" category

Go visit: Free Technology for Teachers

For example, smartboards are being talked of for use in the classroom. There is a website that focuses on the tips and tricks to use them to their fullest.

Enjoy!

Births, Deaths, Marriages - 2007

Did you know that the Town of Franklin 2008 Annual Report provides the details, names and dates of those born, died and married during 2007?

Births
  • May 2007 was the most popular month for births with 32, followed closely by July and August with 31 each
  • November and December tied for the least amount of births recorded with 19 each
Deaths
  • June and August recorded the most deaths with 16 each, followed closely by April and July with 15 each
  • November recorded the least with a total of 6, January was next with 10
Marriages
  • September edged out June as the most popular choices for wedding dates with a total of 25 versus 22
  • February was the least popular choice of wedding dates with only 2 followed by January and November with 3 each
If you have not picked up your hard copy of the report at Town Hall, you can try to view it online here: http://www.town.franklin.ma.us/pages/FranklinMA_Clerk/2008arpt.pdf


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Sunday, December 14, 2008

In the News - rail trail, teen drinking forum

Franklin rail trail steams forward

By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff

Dave Labonte can't wait for the day he can hop on his bike at Franklin State Forest and keep going, all the way to Palmer.

And getting there is a journey the Franklin bicycle enthusiast is more than willing to undertake as well, he said.

Labonte and his fellow Franklin Odd Fellows have offered their lodge hall for the first meeting in the area to start discussions on Franklin's portion of the rail trail. An old railroad bed will be transformed into a paved bicycle path that will wind through 15 towns, starting in Franklin and heading through Bellingham and Blackstone, to Palmer and back up to Southbridge and Sturbridge.

"It is a big undertaking, but I think we in Franklin have the easiest stretch of all the towns," Labonte said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

---------------

Forum on teen drinking planned for King Philip

By Heather McCarron/Gatehouse News Service

In the aftermath of several recent underage drinking parties, and the death of a Plainville teen who wandered away from such a party in the woods and drowned in a local swamp, the King Philip Regional School District is planning a forum for parents on adolescent substance abuse and other social issues.

The forum, which will address both substance abuse by teens and parental strategies associated with substance use, will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. in the auditorium at King Philip High School, Rte. 140, Wrentham.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

house fire, one death

FRANKLIN -

Firefighters found a body in the kitchen of a home at 652 Old West Central St. after knocking down a fire there last night. The person has not been identified.

According to a statement released by the Franklin Fire Department, police received a report of a house explosion in the area of 658 West Central Street just after 11 p.m. Friday.

Fire crews found flames coming from the first-floor kitchen area of a two-story, single-family house at 652 Old West Central St. They were told a person was possibly trapped inside.

Firefighters knocked down most of the fire in the kitchen and searched the home. After extinguishing more fire in the kitchen, firefighters found a body that "had sustained fatal injuries from the fire."

Read the full article online at the Franklin Gazette

"probably my favorite teacher"

GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 12, 2008 @ 01:19 PM

FRANKLIN —

Ninety-year-old Palma A. (DeBaggis) Johnson, who inspired her students to convince the Legislature to make the ladybug the official state insect, was struck and killed by a truck while walking to church Thursday morning, according to the obituary provided by Ginley Funeral Home.

Johnson, born in Franklin, taught Latin at Franklin High School from 1939 to 1944, and returned to teaching at Redland Park Kindergarten and the Kennedy Elementary School after her children were grown.

Thirty-four years ago, Johnson inspired her students at Kennedy - and legislators - to change the law and adopt the ladybug as the state insect.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


MBTA Parking - pay by phone?

Found on the UniversalHub:

The MBTA has begun experimenting with a system that lets commuter-rail and ferry riders pay for parking by cell phone instead by rolling up all those dollar bills to stuff into those tiny slots at parking lots.

The new system, at parking lots along the Kingston line and at the Quincy and Hingham commuter-boat terminals, lets riders set up accounts and then dial a toll-free number to have the day's parking fee charged to their credit cards:

Upon creating a free pay by phone account, customers call the toll free number from their mobile phone, key in the location and parking numbers, and the parking fee is charged to their credit/debit card.

Thanks, adamg!

Gee is there enough bandwidth for dozens of phones calls to connect at the same time? Let's hope that is part of the pilot.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Circle of Friends: Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams


the next show
Saturday,
December 13th, 8:00PM

A Slambovian Holiday Show GANDALF MURPHY and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams

"Gandalf Murphy & the Slambovian Circus of Dreams is simply one of the finest American bands out there on the road. " -AllMusic Guide

with special guest
Lindsay Mac

Tickets = $20



------------

Note: I added a new box on the right column with a sample song from each of the artists appearing at the Circle of Friends this season. You can click on on to listen to a sample of what they do. I'll confess that the samples are rather random, I haven't heard all the artists to say this one or that is a good representation of what they do. You can also click through to the Circle of Friends site, find the schedule, and each artist's web site is usually listed there. You can click through to find samples of what they do.


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make a donation to the Franklin Food Pantry

FRANKLIN -
The Franklin Food Pantry is asking residents of the community to open their hearts and to help the less fortunate people who have difficulties feeding their families. In a country as rich as ours, no one should worry about keeping food on their tables. Hunger hurts physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

This year, the food pantry has seen a dramatic increase in people needing to access resources to help them live with dignity. The recession has made "financially stressed" a common household word.

We have 2,182 registered clients, which represents 927 households. In this number are 312 seniors who are living on the edge.


The pantry accepts all donations, both perishable and non-perishable. Our grants do not allow us to purchase non-food items. We have a need for toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, shampoo, toothpaste, soap and diapers.

To make a donation to the Franklin Food Pantry through the Country Gazette’s Gifts of Hope drive, make a check payable to Franklin Food Pantry Inc. and send c/o The Country Gazette to 159 South Main St., Milford, MA, 01757. Monetary donations can also be made to Franklin Food Pantry Inc., 80 West Central St., Franklin, MA 02038.

For more information about the pantry, call 508-528-3115. Ask for Linda or Michelle.

This was originally posted in the Franklin Gazette here

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

FM #27 - Solar Energy - Part 2

This podcast for Franklin Matters is Part 2 of the information session on solar and renewable energy sponsored by The Franklin Area Climate Team and held at the Franklin Public Library Wednesday evening, Dec 10, 2008.

In this second part, we will listen to Matt Arner, President of SolarFlair Energy, Inc. which is based nearby in Hopkinton. Matt gets into greater detail about the solar analysis, the process of obtaining permits, of applying for the rebates and actually getting an installation of solar electricity or solar heating for your residence or business.

Time: 44 minutes, 37 seconds



MP3 File

Session Notes:

This podcast for Franklin Matters is Part 2 of the information session on solar and renewable energy sponsored by The Franklin Area Climate Team and held at the Franklin Public Library Wednesday evening, Dec 10, 2008.

The recording of this evening is split into two parts. In the first part, we listened to Tyler Leeds, Project Manager from the Mass Renewable Energy Trust as he provided an overview on the grants and rebates available to MA residences and commercial or industrial operations.

In this second part, we will listen to Matt Arner, President of SolarFlair Energy, Inc. which is based nearby in Hopkinton. Matt gets into greater detail about the solar analysis, the process of obtaining permits, of applying for the rebates and actually getting an installation of solar electricity or solar heating for your residence or business. There is a great opportunity to tap into solar.

Listen, learn, and enjoy!

- insert clip -

Part 1 can be found here

----- -----

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow citizens of Franklin, MA

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.blogspot.com/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

FM #26 - Solar Energy - Part 1

This podcast for Franklin Matters captures the information session on solar and renewable energy sponsored by The Franklin Area Climate Team and held at the Franklin Public Library on Wednesday evening, Dec 10, 2008. This evening at the library is one of the Energy $ense series put together by FACT, with the help of Fred Schlicher, Program Manager from the Mass Climate Action Network, and by the Friends of the Library.

Part 1 of 2

Time: 48 minutes, 59 seconds



MP3 File

Session Notes:

This podcast for Franklin Matters captures the information session on solar and renewable energy sponsored by The Franklin Area Climate Team and held at the Franklin Public Library on Wednesday evening, Dec 10, 2008.

This evening at the library is one of the Energy $ense series put together by FACT, with the help of Fred Schlicher, Program Manager from the Mass Climate Action Network, and by the Friends of the Library. One more evening in January is scheduled. Details on that session can be found on Franklin Matters or the town website.

The recording of the talk this evening will be split into two parts. In the first part, we will listen as Ted McIntyre introduces Fred who in turn introduces Tyler Leeds, Project Manager from the Mass Renewable Energy Trust.

The segment we are about to begin runs about 45 minutes. This is longer than I would normally make available but there is not a natural break until Tyler finishes. You can of course, listen to as much as you can, mark your spot and return. As you listen, you’ll recognize that the presentation by Tyler is well done, the questions are generally distinctly heard and the overall conversation is very informative.

Listen, learn and enjoy!

- insert clip -

In the second part, we will listen to Matt Arner, President of SolarFlair Energy based in Hopkinton. Matt will get into more details about the analysis and process of obtaining permits, applying for the rebates and actually getting an installation of solar electricity or solar heating for your residence or business. There is a great opportunity to tap into solar.

----- -----

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow citizens of Franklin, MA

For additional information, please visit Franklinmatters.blogspot.com/

If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The musical intro and closing is from the Podsafe Music Network
Jon Schmidt - Powerful Exhilarating Piano Music

"We've gotten our money's worth"

GHS
Posted Dec 10, 2008 @ 10:46 PM

FRANKLIN —

The School Committee is recommending the town's school building committee remove all modular classrooms at Davis Thayer Elementary School and Franklin High School as soon as school ends next summer.

"The modulars throughout the system are reaching the end of their usable life, and those are the oldest in town," said Chairman Jeffrey Roy.

Davis Thayer's two modular classrooms at the corner of Union and West Central streets are probably the least popular because they are ugly, Roy said.

"They're an eyesore in the middle of town. I know a lot of people wanted them down from the standpoint of beautification, but we had to get as much life out of them as possible," said Roy.

When the district laid off teachers at Davis Thayer, two classrooms were left vacant, so it is now possible to dismantle the schools' modular classrooms, Roy said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

For all that occurred during the School Committee meeting on 12/9/08, click here.


single tax rate stays

GHS
Posted Dec 10, 2008 @ 10:47 PM

FRANKLIN —

Town Council unanimously voted a slight increase in the tax rate for fiscal 2009, also keeping a single tax rate for residential and business properties last night.

As recommended by the Board of Assessors, the council approved raising the tax rate from $10.23 per $1,000 of property to $11.17 per $1,000.

Doing so will bump up the average residential bill by about 2.1 percent, or $88 for the average house, which is less than past annual increases, said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

The tax rate is somewhat misleading. It will fluctuate as the residential valuations go down (next year is likely to see a greater decrease) the rate will increase.

Bottom line, the overall tax revenues the town can receive are capped at less than 2.5% unless there is an override. The override in June failed so the increase is 2.1%.


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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Live reporting - Energy $ense - Part 2

Part 1 can be found here

The audio version of this section can be found here

brief interlude for the presentation switch

Fred introduces Matt

Matt Arner
SolarFlair Energy, Inc.
Hopkinton, MA

  • Solar electricity
  • solar hot water (mostly for domestic hot water use)
How does the system work?
  1. The solar grid feeds the inverter (the brains of the system)
  2. The inverter is tied to the breaker panel, just like another breaker with the exception that it provides power into the breaker panel (not drawing from like the normal breakers).
  3. If you are generating more power than you need to use, you send the extra back out through the meter to the power company. Effectively turning back the meter.
  4. Matt's home system is generating enough that it pays for 90% of the electricity they use.
How did Matt do it?
  1. Bought and converted to energy efficiency appliances
  2. converted more appliances
  3. then installed hot water system
  4. then installed solar system
  5. almost 100% solar powered but over time, a five year plan
Matt's company uses local products (Marlboro and Lawrence)

How much does it cost?
  • Payback: approx 7-8 years
  • System life: 25 years
They partner with a local bank to provide no upfront cost (outside of the grants and tax credits).
So you could effectively pay the same amount for green solar as you would for your normal electrical monthly bill.

expecting to see an 8% increase in electric rates

For commercial installations
  • Payback: 5 years
  • Return on Investment: 14%
for solar electric you need a minimum of 4 hours of real direct sun daily
solar hot water becomes a good alternative if you don't have the south facing roof

They make the process easy. The permitting process can take up to 3 months, the actual installation takes 2-3 days.

For more information on SolarFlair Energy, Inc. please click through to their web site. It has additional information on the solar water heating, solar electricity and several photos of residential and commercial installations.

If you want to examine the potential for solar for your home, you can follow the steps to start here.

For commercial installations, you can follow the steps to start here.

Renewable Energy Installers

Solar Energy Business Association of New England (SEBANE)

North East Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) Directory

Information on Installers, Costs, and Locations

Other Solar Resources

Disclaimer: The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) has not investigated, and expressly disclaims any duty to investigate, any company, product, service, process, procedure, design, or the like which may be presented on the aforementioned websites. The presentation of these website links does not constitute endorsement, warranty, or guaranty by MTC of any company, product, service, process, procedure, design, or the like. The entire risk of any information presented is assumed by the user.

Live reporting - Energy $ense


At the Franklin Library for the Energy $ense series presentation on Solar and Wind Installations. What grants and incentives are available?

Introduction by Ted McIntyre and Fred Schlicher

The audio version of this can be found here

Tyler's presentation:
Franklin Energy $ense Seminar
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: solar energy)



Tyler Leeds
Project Manager, Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust

Plug for energy efficiency
http://www.masssave.com/

Background
Commonwealth Solar
Micro Wind
Larger Wind
Q&A

Over 1000 active projects generating renewable energy in MA

Solar PV - photovoltaic

Map showing 50 communities within MA that are not eligible for grants

Key goals of Commonwealth Solar
  • coordinate efforts with MA DOER
  • target of 250 megawatts (NW) installed
  • provide a streamlined rolling rebate process
  • maintain a quality control function
MA is achieving 8 MW now, the goal of 27 MW is set for 2011

Rebates for residential up to 5 kilowatt systems (average home uses 4 kilowatts)
They would rebate 20 to 40 % of the installation

refer to website for details on the step by step process to install and apply
Q - where do farms fall?
A - farms are non-residential

Initial installations of micro wind have not been yielding as much as had been expected.
Still a learning process, where does it make sense, where doesn't it?

The opportunity maybe in the neighborhood net metering process. A neighborhood would get together to install a larger turbine for the 8-10 neighbors to utilize instead of a single installation.

Some municipalities do have special permitting processes for turbines

Big Apple Farm is looking to install the same size turbine as the one announced for the Mount St Mary's Abbey.

Location is key for wind, solar actually provides a better ROI than wind.

Q - is there a website that would provide information on wind strength
A - yes, one of the first things they did was to develop wind maps. (link to be provided later).

Multiple questions, good discussion, hopefully the recording will catch these.

Data acquisition system can tie to a website to provide real time updates on energy generated.
(update later)

All the steps to the process of determining eligibility for a solar rebate through to the installation and successful operation can be found on the masstech.org/solar site here.

The second part of the evening covered a local installer whose service includes navigating the permitting and approval process for the home owner or commercial owner.

How to Avoid the Holiday Over-Eating Blues

As the holiday season gets busy, Christine Kane has some great advice on how to physically survive the parties. In particular, I see point #5 as being very important. I hope you enjoy this!


-----------

Office parties. Family gatherings. Neighborhood open-houses. Like it or not, holiday time is party time!

Since the season is here, I want to introduce you to a concept that might just make your holidays a little more enlightened:

overeatingNervous Food.

Nervous Food is my name for any edible thing we shove into our mouths when we're in social situations. Not because we WANT it. But because it's there.

Like the mushroom caps - stuffed with what could easily be described as Alpo. Or the crab puffs that we snarf down, as Hal from HR recites the latest office policy on Instant Messaging.

First, let me be clear: this is not about diets or weight-loss.

This is about going unconscious.

It's about leaving your present-moment awareness back in the comfort of your quiet home.

Here are a few techniques to help you stay conscious and connected in any social situation. Try them, and you might discover that you can leave parties feeling energized and purposeful. Not stuffed and buzzed.

1 - Take a pre-party temperature reading.

Take your "temperature" about social settings.

Are you uncomfortable at parties? Do you eat food without tasting it? Can you talk about anything with anyone? Or do you prefer an intense conversation with one or two people? Do you often feel left out or uneasy? Do you try to be in the know?

There are no right answers. This is to simply get clear about your desires and behaviors, and to honor that clarity. Self-awareness is the starting point.

2 - Set your intentions.

Prior to any social situation, set intentions.

What does this mean?

This means that you create your experience before you walk through the door of the event. It means that YOU set the tone for your whole evening.

Do this before you leave your house. Or while sitting in your car outside the party.

Simply intend who you will BE and what you will DO at this event.

Some examples:

I'm a great listener. I truly taste the food I eat. I delight in other people's passions and interests. I have lots of fun without overindulging. I attract the perfect conversations. I am loved.

Your intention is powerful and will act as sort of a beacon to guide you during the party.

3 - Give yourself permission to say NO

Most of us say a knee-jerk "yes" to every invitation we get without asking ourselves if we really want to go.

Saying no doesn't mean you're saying no to the party or the people. It might mean that you're saying "yes" to yourself.

Maybe you need to go to bed early. Or you want to spend a quiet night writing in your journal.

Sometimes we eat out of distractedness and nervousness because our deepest desires aren't being met. When we ignore our true desires, we might try to compensate by filling up on "shadow desires." Shadow desires often come in the form of food and alcohol.

4 - Attract, Don't Push

Parties can be highly charged. Sometimes we walk through that door and instantly feel ourselves trying to "measure up," or prove ourselves to anyone who seems hip.

If you're familiar with this behavior, try this technique:

Stop and take a breath. Intend that you attract the perfect people to you. Do it with a sense of service, and trust.

Attraction is a powerful principle. You might be amazed at how effortless the party becomes, and how surprising the conversations are! You might hear the perfect solution to a personal challenge. Or you might be an angel to someone who needs a listening ear.

5 - Become an Alcohol-Free Observer

Recently, I opted out of drinking the perfunctory glass of wine at a dinner party. I chose to be present and to simply observe. I actively listened to people and observed the conversations all around me. Not in an aloof way, but in a deep way. I had a great time!

Try it. Forego the alcohol and become an observer. Quietly and non-judgmentally witness your behavior. See how actively you can listen in conversations. Really taste the food on your plate. You might discover a whole new definition of fun!
-----
This is not the typical magazine advice on holiday overeating. But it does work! You really can let the holidays and the Nervous Foods teach you a thing or two about how to create awareness and space, rather than anxiety and over-eating!


Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

WANT TO SEE HUNDREDS MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE?
See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at ChristineKane.com/blog.

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