Saturday, February 28, 2009

"We should have plenty of time to adjust rates"

GHS
Posted Feb 27, 2009 @ 11:28 PM

FRANKLIN —

As part of its plan to make $19.4 million worth of upgrades to the district's sewer plant, the Charles River Pollution Control District is asking Franklin - its largest contributor - to pay the bulk of the cost.

Based on flow going into the plant, Franklin owns 67 percent of the plant's capacity, and is expected to pay $2.52 million in fiscal 2010, which is $445,570 more than its share this year.

Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting said he has received mixed opinions about whether Town Council must vote to approve the $19.4 million, 20-year bond that will be needed, or if the district can simply assess users an increased rate. He said he waiting for an official opinion from the state Department of Revenue.

Regardless of how the money will be approved, the work needs to be done, Nutting said, if for no other reason than the daily $25,000 fine the state Department of Environmental Protection would impose for not complying with regulations.

Read the full article on the Charles River plan in the Milford Daily News here

You can view the actual presentation from the Charles River Pollution Control District as given to the Town Council during the February 4th meeting here


"a wonderful addition to the state forest"

GHS
Posted Feb 27, 2009 @ 11:26 PM

FRANKLIN —

The state is considering buying 50 acres next to the Franklin State Forest from a private owner, said state Wendy Fox, spokesman for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.

The DCR has sent a notice of interest to the town, Fox said, and is talking with the landowner, Reed Trust, of 230 Village St., Medway, of which Ronald Dolloff is a trustee.

The owner is asking for $2 million for the property at 1312 West Central St. (Rte. 140), confirmed their real estate agent, Jeff Allaire of ERA Key Commercial in Franklin.

The property, zoned as office/light industrial, also includes a 1,368-square-foot, boarded-up two-story house.

Neither Fox nor Allaire would comment about how serious the state is about acquiring the land, or how close it is to acquiring it. Fox said the state has been in talks with the owners for about six months.

"We do this all the time, the state is always looking at interesting property," Fox said.

Read the full article about the state's interest in the property in the Milford Daily News here


Friday, February 27, 2009

FM #32 - Abraham Bolden

In this Franklin Matters podcast, #32 in the series, we get a special presentation. Abraham Bolden, the first African American member of the Secret Service, came to Franklin to tell his life story and involvement with President John F Kennedy.

Time: 1 hour, 12 minutes, 27 seconds



MP3 File

Session Notes:

Music intro
My intro
FM #32

This internet radio show or podcast for Franklin Matters is number 32 in the series.

This session is a special one. On Wednesday evening, February 25, 2009, there was a presentation on the JFK Assassination at the Thomas Mercer Auditorium in the Horace Mann/Oak Street complex. Franklin resident Bill Glynn presented an overview of the events leading up to and around that fateful day, Nov 22, 1963. Abraham Bolden, the first African American member of the Secret Service came to Franklin to tell his story. The opportunity to hear Abraham in person was taken by about 50-60 people of all ages.

Now you can share in that opportunity. What follows is the audio recording of Abraham Bolden's talk. In his voice, you'll hear him tell of growing up in East St Louis, rising from a Pinkerton detective position to the Illinois State Police and from there to the Secret Service. In the Secret Service he met John F Kennedy in Chicago and then also at the White House where Abraham was stationed briefly.

One quote to keep in mind as you settle in for a little over an hour of Abraham's story. From the philosopher, Antonio Gramsci:
“The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and
without becoming disillusioned.”

I don't think you'll find Abraham's talk long. I found his first person narrative riveting. His direct, honest and religious approach to life comes through. You'll begin to understand how the echoes of Dealey Plaza still reverberate today.

I would like to give special thanks to Bill Glynn and Abraham Bolden for allowing this recording. By sharing in this way, we can continue the discussion.

You can read more about Abraham Bolden and his book, "Echo from Dealey Plaza" 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

"should have been aware of these plans for years"

By Rachel Lebeaux Globe Correspondent / February 26, 2009

Officials at the Franklin Food say the facility might have to close down completely if town officials insist that it vacate its space to make room for a relocated historical museum.

The pressure to move comes at a time when the pantry's use is up and contributions are down due to the dismal economy. The pantry, which serves nearly 2,200 clients from at least 15 area communities, would probably have to vacate by the summer, according to a Franklin official.

"I don't understand displaying museum items versus feeding the less fortunate members of the community," said Linda Pouliot Whites, the pantry's executive director. She said she learned only recently that the food pantry would have to leave the basement of the former senior center building on West Central Street, which it has occupied since the early 1990s.

However, Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting said officials made it clear that they would be wanting the pantry to relocate eight years ago, when discussions about a new senior center and a relocated historical museum first emerged. He said officials are trying to work with the pantry to find a new location.

Read the full article about the Food Pantry looking for new space as reported in the Boston Globe here


"We don't need an award"

GHS
Posted Feb 27, 2009 @ 12:46 AM

FRANKLIN —

Eighth-graders Maddie Gordon and Jake Sargeant say they don't need an award to acknowledge their volunteer work with students with severe disabilities at Annie Sullivan Middle School.

Still, after watching the pair spend much of their free time volunteering, coordinating activities, and befriending special needs kids for the last 2 1/2 years, special needs teacher Marilee Gleason and Principal Beth Wittcoff were inspired to recognize them by nominating them for the statewide Make a Difference award program.

On Sunday, Gordon and Sargeant will be honored along with 58 of their peers from across the state for their volunteer work at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester at 1 p.m.

"It's unbelievable, the enthusiasm these kids have for befriending students they normally wouldn't cross paths with. These two are very invested," said Gleason, who also oversees the school's Best Buddies program.

Read the full article about the student volunteers for Best Buddies in the Milford Daily News here


The Green Reel: "Renewal"

The Green Reel: a series of films for sustainable living will be shown on Sunday evenings this winter.

What: "Renewal"

When: 7:00 PM on March 1, 2009

Where: Agudas Achim, 901 North Main St, Attleboro or directions here


Free and open to the public.
For more info: 508-695-2389



read more about the file "Renewal" here

Sponsors:
Agudas Achim
Crystal Spring Center
Simply Keep It Local
Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary
Citizens for a Sustainable Local Economy
Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
Green Committee of First Universalist Society of Franklin
New Dawn Earth Center
Oake Knoll Ayrshires
Franklin Area Climate Team
White Barn Farm
St Mark's Episcopal Church-Foxboro

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Greenbusters

Digging around the SustainLane web site initially found here, I find there is a series of posts on greenbusters. Recall the popular Discovery Channel show - Mythbusters; these are focused on green myths and you get the full scoop on each. For example:

Myth: It's best never to touch your thermostat. Read More »

Myth: It's okay to throw something away as long as it's biodegradable. Read More »

Myth: Washing laundry in hot water is the only way to kill bacteria and get things really clean—just like my mom told me. Read More »

Myth: Dog poop is natural, so it’s okay to leave it behind. Read More »

Myth: It takes more energy to turn a light off and back on than it does to keep it running. Read More »

Check out all the Greenbusters here

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE TO BE A SCIENTIST TO KEEP YOUR CHILDREN SAFE

Date: Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time:
7 P.M.

Location:
First Universalist Society in Franklin
262 Chestnut St.
Franklin, MA 02038

Join us to learn how we are all exposed to Bisphenol A (BPA) and what we can do to break the cycle. BPA, a toxic chemical found in polycarbonate plastic, is widely used in consumer products including baby bottles, sippy cups, teethers, toys, pacifiers, and utensils. BPA is also in the epoxy resins used to
line cans of baby formula and other foods. It leaches out of the container into the stored food.

Local parents and The Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow are offering this event as an opportunity to learn how to keep your loved ones safe from BPA!
Take Action and Join Us For this Event!

Please contact esaunders@cleanwater.org for more information.

Cape Wind: Record of Decision Request

The following is a Letter to the Editor submitted by Jim Liedell summarizing the Cape Wind decision points and requesting that the Record of Decision be released.

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

Despite unemployment rising precipitously, U.S. wind industry jobs jumped to 85,000 in 2008, a 70% increase from 2007. Wind made up 42% of all added 2008 electricity capacity. We can soon start benefiting locally by Cape Wind joining this explosive growth, giving us health, economic, security and other benefits.

Major conclusions in the federal Minerals Management Services’ (MMS) mid-January very favorable Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on Cape Wind’s proposed project included:
  1. of negative operation impacts, 3.2% are No Impact, 50% are Negligible, 38.9% are Minor, 6.3% are Moderate, and 1.6% (slightly rerouting the annual Figawi sailboat race) is Major;
  2. impact to tourism will be negligible and there will be no decrease in beach activity;
  3. floating wind turbine technology (recently pushed by the Alliance opposing Cape Wind) won’t be commercially available for 10 to 15 years;
  4. Cape Wind will lower our electricity prices;
  5. negligible to minor impact on fisheries;
  6. fossil-fueled plants’ global-warming and other harmful emissions will be reduced;
  7. no Cape Wind emissions to sea or air;
  8. world-wide data (including local MMA turbine) showed very few birds will be killed colliding with Cape Wind’s turbines
  9. no injuries caused to marine mammals;
  10. nine alternate locations were evaluated - they would all produce more costly (1 to 17.7 cents/kilowatt hour) electricity than Cape Wind; and
  11. three site-layout alternatives and four types of generation facilities were all found to be less desirable than Cape Wind’s proposal.

With this favorable FEIS expanding on and confirming many previous evaluations, it is sure that we will significantly benefit from Cape Wind.

To support this project, write a brief letter to
Kenneth Salazar
Secretary, US Department of the Interior
1849 C Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20240

and ask them to issue their Record Of Decision promptly.


Jim Liedell
Yarmouth Port


Note: Addressee for letter updated 2/26/09 per email request from Jim Liedell

School Committee Mtg 02/24/09

The summary of live reports from the School Committee meeting 2/24/09 are collected here

"Alina should be viewed as a representative among winners"

GHS
Posted Feb 24, 2009 @ 11:21 PM

FRANKLIN —

The competition for the Massachusetts Junior Miss 2009 title at Horace Mann Middle School was fierce, said Franklin High senior Alina Ostrow.

Fourteen teenage girls, each in the top 10 percent of their class, gathered in the Thomas Mercer Auditorium for the two-day competition last weekend.

Each displayed a talent honed since childhood.

And all spoke their minds and strutted their athletic prowess on stage, doing push-ups and more challenging variations of push-ups in a choreographed aerobic routine designed to test their strength, balance and agility.

Read the full article about Alina Ostrow in the Milford Daily News here


"an interesting relationship to JFK's assassination"

GHS
Posted Feb 25, 2009 @ 12:38 AM

FRANKLIN —

The date was April 28, 1961. The place, Chicago. President John F. Kennedy arrived at McCormick Place exhibition center to thank Mayor Richard J. Daley for helping him win the election.

Abraham Bolden remembers it like it was yesterday - cameras flashing, people knocking each other over to get a peek at the young president.

Bolden, a newly minted Secret Service agent, was stationed in front of the restroom in the lower level of the building, for which his colleagues teased him mercilessly. "Normally, a Chicago policeman would hold down such a detail, so my chances of seeing the president were slim to zero at that post."

"Lo and behold, I look up at the top of the steps, and there is President John F. Kennedy. The first thing he wants to do is use the washroom," recalled 73-year-old Bolden.

That chance encounter set into motion a chain of events that changed Bolden's life in ways he never imagined.

Read the full article about the Secret Service experience of Mr Bolden in the Milford Daily News here.

Attend the presentation at the Horace Mann/Thomas Mercer Auditorium 2/25/09 at 7:00 PM


"This group is remarkable, their talent is remarkable"

GHS
Posted Feb 25, 2009 @ 12:39 AM

FRANKLIN —

On their own volition, 51 school administrators and non-union secretaries volunteered to freeze their salaries and forgo any kind of pay increases, School Committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy announced last night.

The group, which made the decision unanimously, includes superintendent-in-waiting Maureen Sabolinksi, all central office staff, every principal, every assistant principal, and every non-union secretary in the district, Roy said.

"It's rather good news," Roy said, noting that the group had organized to find a way to help, in response to the committee's call to "dig deep" to keep the school system intact.

"They took that initiative, they all stepped up to the plate and took on personal sacrifice. That's leadership by example," Roy said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Jeff Roy has a similar post on the Franklin School Committee blog here

My live reporting notes from the School Committee meeting when this was announced can be found here


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Live reporting - Information matters

Superintendent - While the program of studies is available online and will be printed for the 8th grade students it is not a guarantee that each course will run in September. Some classes due to under-enrollment do not run, others may due to the budget be adjusted. That would become known as we go forward.

SubCommittee Reports
Trahan - Financial Planning committee working on the final report. The Town wide forum date is still being determined.

Adjorn

Live reporting - action items

4. Action Items
  1. I recommend budget transfers as detailed. Approved 7-0
  2. I recommend acceptance of the anonymous donation of $10,000 for the Ruth Reitzas Scholarship Fund at the FHS. Approved 7-0 (actually have about $85,000 in the scholarship fund)
  3. I recommend the acceptance of a check for $5,000 from the Oak Street PCC for the following field trips: K: Davis Farmland; Gr 2: Stony Brook; and Gr. 4: Fine Arts. Approved 7-0
  4. I recommend adoption of Sub Committee Minutes Policy & Exhibit BEDGG/BEDGG-E. Approved 7-0
  5. I recommend action be taken regarding the make-up day for the HM/Oak/ECDC Complex. Approved 5-2 to add to the last day of the year
  6. I recommend approval of the Horace Mann MS Trip to Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence, RI to see the play “A Raisin in the Sun”. Approved 7-0
  7. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000 from the Singleton Family Foundation for Special Education programs/equipment at FHS. Approved 7-0
  8. I recommend approval of the recurring Washington, D.C. field trip for Remington Middle School students in April, 2009. Approved 7-0
Extended discussion on the make up day:

$3500 on Good Friday, $2600 to make up at end of the year - recommend making up the day on Good Friday

The HM/Oak/ECDC complex make up day is not due to snow but due to the water/mechanical problem at the beginning of the school year. Do need to make up the day, did apply for the waiver but do need to meet the 180 day requirement by certification in July.

While we are over the hours (990 vs 900 req'd) we are pushing it due to field days and other in school activities that we can't count toward educational hours.

If the parents don't want to send their students due to religious reasons, then this would count as an excused absence.

Not a good choice, Good Friday the best educational choice.

Motion - add the make up day after the last day of school passed 5-2

live reporting - Discussion only items

3. Discussion Only Items
  • Budget to Actual
These transfers were fully vetted with the budget subcommittee prior to this meeting

  • Second Reading – Sub Committee Minutes Policy & Exhibit BEDGG/BEDGG-E
Add "follow up items" to the template form itself

Live reporting - Salary freeze agreed to by 51 administrators

Roy - a group of administrators, a total of 51 people that have agreed to freeze their salary for this year

Sabolinksi - it is a credit to their leadership, makes me very proud to work with these professionals.

Rohrbach - thank you, it is impressive

Trahan - it is redundant, but thank you

Live reporting - Asst Supt Candidate

2. Guests/Presentations

b. Assistant Superintendent Candidate – Sally Winslow

Maureen introduced the changes being made choosing to replacing herself and Linda Waters' position indirectly. Bottomline they are collapsing two roles into one, and restructuring the role so that the Director of Special Ed could be replaced without complicating the issue with the PPS requirements.

Sally then presents her background and development
She came up through King Phillip and most recently Dover

She had involvement with budget development and monitoring
the special education budget takes up a huge portion of the overall district
has written grants, there is not a day in Spec Ed that there is not some crisis being managed
has lead districts through cycle reviews

one big piece is the parent relationship
she has been active in school and district wide initiatives
balanced literacy, second year at Dover
brought in Everyday Math two years ago at Dover (already here in Franklin)

Graduate of FHS
Lives in Plainville with husband and two daughters
Class of 1973, the second class to graduate from the new high school
had previously done double sessions at Horace Mann
family is life long Franklin residents

Her mother worked at the high school answering the phone
Sally volunteered a lot during school, summers with the Rec Dept.
She has a personal experience with the town

Leadership and comunication style
Team player, will work collaboratively
try to gain consensus, not afraid to articulate the bottomline
has worked with wonderful principals
try to lead by example, strong work ethic
try to be concise, clear, listen important

phone calls, emails acknowledgement important
being proactive on a regular basis, to avoid surprises
working to balance an open door policy (being accessible) with getting things done

would be in her current position until June 30th
there are things that could be done between now and then as schedule permits
would love to get to the schools before the school year ends
you might even see me lurking about at some school committee meetings

explore creative ways to provide a high quality education that Franklin has been known for

Her dad lived all his life here in Franklin, he did not take a vacation
he would go to Uncas Pond
he had an 8th grade education due to the depression
one of the happiest days he had was when I graduated and was part of the second class of women admitted into Holy Cross
He is probably even happier today looking over me here talking with you about a position with the district.

Cafass0 - I think you are a great fit for this, Maureen is very smart to be able to attract someone like you, what is your sense of the reputation of this district for Special Ed?

Winslow - I think you have been very good, you managed your own kids and we would only get those you just couldn't serve. I think that when you have capacity to build programs that is very good. I would like look at the programs and see how we can sustain them and perhaps expand them.

Cafasso - what do you think about the duel role your getting into?

Winslow - I am excited about it. It will be somewhat of a work in progress, figuring things out as the year goes.

Patrick Slight - Is there anything that you have at Dover that you could bring here?

Winslow - that is a very good question. I'd like to look at pre-evaluation to see how we can help that here.

Rohrbach - How will it be working with Maureen where you share some roles.

Winslow - Similar thought process to Maureen, we have not worked together for 12 years. We will have to find out how we can compliment each other in that way.

Roy - What 2 or three bullets attracted you to the school district?

Winslow - attract wonderful teachers, and administrators, do really well despite the budget issues

I have a lot of energy and can't wait to get into the schools to really see what there and how I can help.

Live reporting - Presentations: NASA

2. Guests/Presentations

a. NASA Project – Horace Mann Middle School
  • Anne Bergen, Principal
Ms. Foreman, James Schliefke
  • Rachita Chaudhury
  • Cody Williamson
  • Lauren Kane
  • Cole Comfort
  • Elise Rivera
  • Joe Chernak
Looking at heat transfer and astronomy
comparison of conditions between moon and earth
create a product to withstand the stresses of the moon
NASA specialist provided assistance


Note: No pictures were taken of the students to respect the privacy concerns that were not clear at the time of the presentation.

Live reporting - School Committee - 2/24/09

Attending: Armenio, Cafasso, Kelly, Mullen, Roy, Rohrbach, Trahan


1. Routine Business
  • Citizen’s Comments - none
  • Review of Agenda - add FY 10 budget discussion update
  • Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the February 10, 2009 School Committee Meeting. Motion to approve - 7-0
  • Payment of Bills - Mr. Kelly
  • Payroll - Ms. Armenio
  • FHS Student Representatives
  • Correspondence:

"state would save about $2.5 million a year"


"Am I disappointed they're dropping the U.S. history MCAS? Not at all," said Dennis Wilkinson, test coordinator at Franklin High School. "We test the heck out of (students) in English language arts, math and biology."

He said he understood why the state would consider dropping the test, given the cost and the financial situation the state finds itself in.

Read the full article on the proposal to slide back the addition of history to the MCAS test suite in the Milford Daily News here


The Green Reel: "Renewal"

The Green Reel: a series of films for sustainable living will be shown on Sunday evenings this winter.

What: "Renewal"

When: 7:00 PM on March 1, 2009

Where: Agudas Achim, 901 North Main St, Attleboro or directions here


Free and open to the public.
For more info: 508-695-2389



read more about the file "Renewal" here

Sponsors:
Agudas Achim
Crystal Spring Center
Simply Keep It Local
Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary
Citizens for a Sustainable Local Economy
Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
Green Committee of First Universalist Society of Franklin
New Dawn Earth Center
Oake Knoll Ayrshires
Franklin Area Climate Team
White Barn Farm
St Mark's Episcopal Church-Foxboro

Monday, February 23, 2009

School Committee - Agenda - 2/24/09

1. Routine Business
  • Citizen’s Comments
  • Review of Agenda
  • Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the February 10, 2009 School Committee Meeting.
  • Payment of Bills - Mr. Kelly
  • Payroll - Ms. Armenio
  • FHS Student Representatives
  • Correspondence:

2. Guests/Presentations

a. NASA Project – Horace Mann Middle School
  • Anne Bergen, Principal
  • Rachita Chaudhury
  • Cody Williamson
  • Lauren Kane
  • Cole Comfort
  • Elise Rivera
  • Joe Chernak

b. Assistant Superintendent Candidate – Sally Winslow


3. Discussion Only Items
  • Budget to Actual
  • Second Reading – Sub Committee Minutes Policy & Exhibit BEDGG/BEDGG-E

4. Action Items
  1. I recommend budget transfers as detailed.
  2. I recommend acceptance of the anonymous donation of $10,000 for the Ruth Reitzas Scholarship Fund at the FHS.
  3. I recommend the acceptance of a check for $5,000 from the Oak Street PCC for the following field trips: K: Davis Farmland; Gr 2: Stony Brook; and Gr. 4: Fine Arts.
  4. I recommend adoption of Sub Committee Minutes Policy & Exhibit BEDGG/BEDGG-E.
  5. I recommend action be taken regarding the make-up day for the HM/Oak/ECDC Complex.
  6. I recommend approval of the Horace Mann MS Trip to Trinity Repertory Theatre in Providence, RI to see the play “A Raisin in the Sun”.
  7. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1,000 from the Singleton Family Foundation for Special Education programs/equipment at FHS.
  8. I recommend approval of the recurring Washington, D.C. field trip for Remington Middle School students in April, 2009.
5. Information Matters
  • Superintendent’s Report
  • School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
  • School Committee Liaison Reports

6. New Business
  • To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.

7. Adjourn

"It's just a silly, silly thing"

FRANKLIN —

Faced with the options of making students go to school and teachers work on either a Saturday, Good Friday, or another day in late June to make up a missed school day, the School Committee is still mulling its options.

The committee has been trying to find a viable way, but each option presents some problem.

The state education commissioner denied Superintendent Wayne Ogden's waiver request for the day of school that students at the Oak Street School complex missed when a pipe burst the Tuesday after Labor Day and shut down Horace Mann Middle School, Oak Street Elementary School, and Early Childhood Development Center (a preschool).

School Committee member Ed Cafasso has suggested the district take its chances and keep its existing school calendar instead of adding another day or half day.

"Unless I hear something that changes my mind, I am going to oppose school on Good Friday or creating an extra school day in June," Cafasso said.

"The circumstances justify a waiver, especially since Franklin students already exceed the minimum hours for instruction. Disrupting families and creating new costs for taxpayers just so we can check off a bureaucratic box doesn't seem fair to me," Cafasso said.

Read the full article about the make up day for the Oak St/Horace Mann school complex in the Milford Daily News here


Copyright explained

Wes Fryer does a good SlideShare presentation synchronizing the slideshow with audio to explain copyright. It is almost an hour but you should give yourself credit for watching it, well worth it.



Enjoy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

FM #31 - This week in Franklin, MA

This is podcast 31 in the series on what matters in Franklin, MA. I review what happened this week ending 2/22/09. The Financial Planning Committee is closing in on finishing their report, there is an updated time line, and an opportunity for feedback.

Time: 8 minutes, 48 seconds



MP3 File

Session Notes:

Music intro
My intro
FM #31

This internet radio show or podcast for Franklin Matters is number 31 in the series. In this session, I’ll focus on what you should know about what happened in Franklin, MA this week ending Feb 22, 2009.

The week was a quiet one as school vacation came and went too quickly for most, I would assume. There were no major meetings scheduled for the town council or school committee.

As reported in the Milford Daily News, the Tri-County Vocational District announced their school budget this week. They are coming in at less than level funded with multiple cuts across the budget. Their final budget will be voted on in April. The exact charge to Franklin will be known then. It is primarily based upon how many students are sent to the district and then a per pupil charge is summarized.

There was a Financial Planning Committee meeting on Thursday the 19th. My live reporting from that meeting can be found here.

They previewed the 3 page Executive Summary highlighting
  • where we have been
  • where we are going
  • what we can do about it
Much work remains but the structure is there to highlight exactly how much Franklin has saved over the years and how efficient the Town is operating.

We now have two choices, increase revenues or cut costs. Cutting costs seems to be easy, every business that does it makes headlines doing so. But there are also examples that not every business does so smartly. The cost cutting that remains in Franklin is in actual programs and services provided. What can we do without?

Increasing revenues needs to be part of the discussion. It is the real opportunity. We need to figure out ways to make it easier for the town to grow revenues to a more sustainable level than we have today.

The timeline for the Financial Planning Committee was also updated:
  • April 2 - focus group meeting
  • April 15 - present to a joint Town Council, School Committee and Finance Committee meeting
  • April 29 - town forum to review the plan document and solicit feedback
So let's start thinking out of the box. For example, we have a library that services the entire community. We also have each school with a library. Let's look at combining those operations. It could put a branch of the main library in each neighborhood (i.e. the local school). It could leverage book purchases with the volume of the school and main libraries. Note: the purchasing done by the Town is generally quite efficient. This may already have be done.

Second, we have a Senior Center kitchen. A few hundred yards away are several cafeterias with kitchens where the schools provide many more meals. Let's combine those operations. Why force the seniors to travel all over town when they could more easily reach the school in their neighborhood.

Since the class size will likely increase, let's get more adults into the classrooms to help the teachers. Let's use the seniors to assist in classrooms, some may have taught previously, others dealt with grandchildren. One of the common jokes about grandparents dealing with their grandchildren is they can “spoil” them and then give them back to their parents. There is some truth to the natural relationship between the generations and helping to foster that will bring multiple benefits. With an additional adult (or adults) in the classrooms, the effect of larger class sizes (students per teacher) would be minimized

And here comes your chance. Between now and April 29th, put your thinking caps on to generate additional ideas.

You can include them in a comment, send me an email, or make a list to bring to the Forum on April 29th.

Together we can come up with something worthwhile. We may not find a silver bullet but every gem we do find will add up. A little here, a little there will soon add up significantly.

Here is your chance, take the challenge!

Looking to the week ahead: there is a Planning Board meeting on Monday, the School Committee meeting Tuesday. There are other town meetings posted on the calendar on the Franklin Home page. Check it out and go attend a meeting.

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

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

"people are still spending money, it's incredible"

GHS
Posted Feb 21, 2009 @ 11:44 PM

Robert R. Vallee Sr., owner of Vallee Jewelers in Franklin, knows the key to surviving an economic depression.

"You just work," said Vallee, a sentiment echoed by others whose parents or grandparents pulled their local businesses through the Great Depression.

From their point of view, today's society has lost sight of what is important, letting greed and excessive living plunge them into debt.

The world will get through the economic crisis, and whatever's around the corner, they say, by returning to a more simple way of living and a stronger work ethic.

"My father (Emile Vallee) worked two jobs. He learned watch making and worked at a textile mill" in Manville, R.I., said Vallee.

Read the full article with stories from other business owners in the area in the Milford Daily News here


"You don't see the difference"

GHS
Posted Feb 21, 2009 @ 11:47 PM

FRANKLIN —

On any given day, municipal departments are just beginning, trying to begin, or trying to finish, time-consuming projects on a tight budget.

Today, the School Department can sit back a bit and start adding up all the savings wrought by the completion of 65 energy-saving initiatives, an effort that took 10 years to finish.

Michael D'Angelo, the facilities director for the schools and the town, takes pride in Franklin taking the lead in using technological advances early in the game.

"We were doing it before it was popular," said D'Angelo, who is constantly researching ways to make the schools as energy-efficient as possible - he's currently eyeing the installation of solar panels three years down the road, when he says they will be cost-effective.

"We're almost as technologically advanced as you can be, without getting into solar or wind," D'Angelo said.

Read the full article on how energy efficient Franklin's schools are in the Milford Daily News here


Friday, February 20, 2009

"we're looking to impact their behavior"

More than a dozen young adults who were at the October underage drinking party where 17-year-old Taylor Meyer of Plainville was last seen alive must take part in a drug- and alcohol-awareness program, in addition to fulfilling other requirements, a Wrentham District Court judge ordered Thursday.

Fourteen people ranging in age from 17 to 20 appeared before Judge Warren Powers for a probable cause hearing, each facing a charge of underage possession of alcohol, said David Traub, a spokesman for Norfolk District Attorney William Keating.

All were charged following the Oct. 17 post-Homecoming party at the former Norfolk Airport. Meyer, who wandered away from the group, became lost, and drowned in an adjacent wetland. Her blood alcohol level was .13, according to autopsy findings.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


"You'd have to change the marketplace"

FRANKLIN —

In continuing discussions about presenting a three-year fiscal plan for the town, the Financial Planning Committee last night generally agreed that without some kind of structural change the town's expenses will outpace its revenue indefinitely.

Most towns in the state are contending with the same problem, even affluent communities such as Newton, said Town Councilor Shannon Zollo, who is also a planning committee member.

"Our budget goes up a lot more than 2.5 percent every year, it's more in the 4 or 5 percent range," said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


Financial Planning Committee minutes 2/5/09

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MEETING
FEBRUARY 5, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 pm.

Members present were: Deborah Bartlett, James Roche, Matt Kelly, Roberta Trahan, Rebecca Cameron, Doug Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek. Also present were Jeffrey Nutting and Wayne Odgen. Absent were Steve Whalen and Shannon Zollo.

The Committee reviewed reports to date. Matt Kelly handed out a sample of FAQ's for review. Deborah Bartlett and Roberta Trahan submitted their information to Doug Hardesty. Jim Roche handed out a draft of his work; Jeff Nutting continues to work with Rebecca on the assumptions. Members should submit changes, improvements etc. to Doug Hardesty in the next 10 days so it will be ready for the next meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey Nutting

Financial Planning Committee minutes 1/15/09

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MEETING
January 15, 2009

A meeting of the Financial Planning Committee was held on January 15, 2009 at the Franklin Municipal Building. Members present were Deborah Bartlett, Shannon Zollo, Roberta Trahan, Jim Roche, Rebecca Cameron and Doug Hardesty, Matt Kelly & Gwynne Wilschek. Also present was Jeffrey Nutting, Town Administrator and Wayne Odgen, School Superintendent. Absent was Steve Whalen.

The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.

The Chairman Jim Roche asked that each subcommittee report on the progress of their assignment. The members reviewed their work to date and the Committee discussed the work and suggested a format for a final product by each subgroup.

Doug Hardesty requested that all work at the individual level be completed in two weeks and forwarded to him so he could collate the information.

The next meeting is scheduled for February 5, 2009

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey D. Nutting

Financial Planning Committee minutes 12/18/08

FINANCIAL PLANNING COMMITTEE
MINUTES OF MEETING
DECEMBER 18, 2008

A meeting of the Financial Planning Committee was held on December 18, 2008 at the Franklin Municipal Building. Members present were Deborah Bartlett, Shannon Zollo, Roberta Trahan, Rebecca Cameron, Doug Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek. Also present were Jeffrey Nutting and Wayne Odgen. Absent were Steve Whalen, Matt Kelly and Jim Roche.

The Town Administrator handed out information on the comparison of the FY01 to FY09 budgets, a list of all things all departments have done over the last many years to reduce staff, cut costs, improve efficiencies, receive grants, etc., as well as a list of legislative priority items the Massachusetts Municipal Association and others are hoping the Legislature will consider in order to control costs.

Doug Hardesty asked what the Committee thought should be included in the report. Deb Bartlett suggested an executive summary, budget information, fiscal policies, history of capital, school mandates, costs beyond the control of the Town, services we must perform and how citizens might help. Other suggestions were bulletin points, graphs and charts, but keeping the summary to a few pages, as well as information on population, students, staffing etc. Doug offered to try a "straw man" draft of the format and then committee members would need to do some work to fill in the information.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey Nutting

The Green Reel: "The Next Industrial Revolution"

The Green Reel: a series of films for sustainable living will be shown on Sunday evenings this winter.

What: The Next Industrial Revolution"

When: 7:00 PM on February 22, 2009

Where: Agudas Achim, 901 North Main St, Attleboro or directions here


Free and open to the public.
For more info: 508-695-2389



read more about the file "The Next Industrial Revolution" here

Sponsors:
Agudas Achim
Crystal Spring Center
Simply Keep It Local
Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary
Citizens for a Sustainable Local Economy
Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
Green Committee of First Universalist Society of Franklin
New Dawn Earth Center
Oake Knoll Ayrshires
Franklin Area Climate Team
White Barn Farm
St Mark's Episcopal Church-Foxboro

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Financial Plng Comm 02/19/09

The live reporting from the Financial Planning committee meeting of 2/19/09 can be found here

Live reporting - Financial Planning Committee (continued)

Executive summary, page 2.

In 1995, the town paid 71% of the school budget, we are now down to 50%.

The idea behind the plan is a call to action. These trends will continue unless action is taken.

If we eliminate services, we can address costs.

If we are too general here, they might miss the point. I think we do need to get an example in their.

March 5th for the trial preview is not likely. We have spent time just on the 3 page executive summary.

You don't have to rush to March 5th. What we have before us will not likely change. The train has already left the station.

Getting this done by April 1st should be our goal.

Need to provide the option. The citizens are either going to vote for or against but there is a choice that the citizens need to make.

Jeff is ready to send the soft copy of all the data accumulated to date.

We will be meeting March 5th. No preview for focus group.
March 19th is the FEF Trivia Bee.
Considering the 12th or 26th? Meet on the 12th.

April 2nd? can that be the focus group? yes

Keep the 26th for a meeting.

April 15th joint meeting of Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee

TBD - Horace Mann for town wide discussion. 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
(updated 2/24/09 - the date had been tentatively planned for 4/29/09 but that day has a prior commitment)

We are gaining momentum as the material comes together.

Live reporting - Financial Planning Committee 2/19/09

Attending: Roche, Bartlett, Cameron, Hardesty, Nutting, Trahan, Whalen, Zollo, Wilschek (late)
Absent: Kelly, Ogden

Accepted minutes of Dec 18, Jan 15, Feb 5.

Discussion on the executive summary draft
Need to be consistent with numbers used. The State DOE calculates slightly differently. They include the enterprise accounts.
Include a glossary of terms in the appendix so everyone can have and use the same terms in the same way.

Doesn't want to use any term in the executive summary that would be required to be defined in the glossary.

Discussion on raising issues

Newton did their study; Harvard professors spent six months reviewing the finances and determined that the current process was not sustainable.

There are 2 or 3 budget busters that should not be a surprise; wages, health costs, SPED costs (including transportation).

Need to be accurate and unbiased on the data presentation.

We can get to the other infrastructure items over time. We will have capacity to borrow some 3 million. We won't be able to do the high school without a debt exclusion for sure, but overtime we can get to the other infrastructure items. Recall, this year's total capital budget was 8 million in requests of which we are proceeding with 1.3 million.

At some point, specifically with the roads, we are to a point where we need to do something in addition to the way we are tackling the roads today.

"I have my concerns about the cost to implement this in our current economy,"

Under the draft regulations, the DEP is proposing a $200 fee for the initial certificate and a $200 annual certification fee. Those seeking a variance could have to pay $3,000, Civian said.

During a mid-morning break, several local developers and business owners shared their worries about the proposal.

Sherry Clancy, project manager for National Development, threw out several questions yesterday.

"I think it's something we have to get educated about and understand," Clancy said. "If there is something troublesome or cumbersome, that comment should be made now before it's too late."

-----

Another information session is scheduled for Wednesday at the DEP's Central Regional Office at 627 Main St., Worcester, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The DEP has extended the comment period on its proposed Statewide Stormwater Management Program until March 11. All comments should be submitted in writing to Mass DEP, 1 Winter St., 5th floor, Boston, MA 02108, attention: Glenn Haas or by e-mail to DEP.Waterpermitting@state.ma.us.

The proposed regulations and program details are available at the DEP Web site at www.mass.gov/dep.

Read the full article about stricter storm water management in the Milford Daily News here


Congratulations to FHS Cheerleaders


Franklin High School's Varsity Cheerleaders: They are the second FHS cheerleading team to take home first place at a national competition; the first title was won in Providence in 2006.
Read the full article on the team in the Milford Daily News here

"those items have been cut"

Franklin School Committee Chairman Jeffrey N. Roy told Tri-County School Committee members, "One reason I came here tonight is to ask you to do what you appear to be doing - level-fund your budget."

"I want to thank you for doing that because in the Franklin school district we know a lot about cutting," Roy said. Franklin schools cut more than 40 teachers and staff last year to make up for about a $2 million budget gap.

Read the full article on the Tri-County Vocational Technical school budget in the Milford Daily News here


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

celebrate an ordinary hero

Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice, does a wonderful talk at TED. Please spend the 20 minutes to review this. I agree that practical wisdom is what we need more than ever.




He is not the only one to have said:

Our example to our children, to our families, and to the world around us is constant. The question is not whether or not anyone is watching, the question is what are they learning as they watch. Kirk Weisler

You can also view this with an intro by Jeff Roy on the School Committee blog page here

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Our intent is to have it look the same, but spruce it up"

GHS
Posted Feb 15, 2009 @ 08:42 PM
Last update Feb 15, 2009 @ 09:20 PM

FRANKLIN —

When the town's gazebo was built 91 years ago, it was designed with a roof that doesn't fully cover the base - "a huge mistake," said facilities Director Michael D'Angelo.

"It should never have been built that way," he said.

Snow, ice and water have damaged the gazebo, and the sheeting beneath the clay, Spanish tile roof is rotting because tiles have broken, D'Angelo said.

Neither he nor other town officials understand why the structure was designed in such a way, leading it to substantially deteriorate, D'Angelo said, but they plan to fix the structure this spring.

"We can't let the gazebo close up because the roof is starting to fail," said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

"We need to fix it before we totally lose it," Nutting said.

read the full article about this effective use of capital and a grant to repair the gazebo in the Milford Daily News here


"it's hard to argue with the positive environmental impact"

FRANKLIN —

The days of 6-inch, 500-page School Committee packets are gone, replaced by the much greener option of e-documents and laptops.

Aiming to save the environment, cash, and set an example for the rest of the district, the School Committee has decided to "go green."

At the suggestion of Annie Sullivan Middle School Principal Beth Wittcoff, a member of the paperless Southborough School Committee, the Franklin School Committee did a pilot run at its first meeting, and gave it rave reviews, said Chairman Jeffrey Roy.

Members discovered a minor glitch - that their laptop batteries died once the meeting hit the 2-hour mark. The town has since put electrical outlets at the meeting table, Roy said.

"Everybody loved it, so we jumped on it from there," said Roy.

Read the full article about the paperless efforts in the Milford Daily News here


Sunday, February 15, 2009

FM #30 - This week in Franklin, MA

This is podcast #30 in the series on what matters in Franklin, MA. I review the Walgreens decision, the Gallery 218 opening, the School Committee meeting and the Town Council meeting all from this week. You give me about ten minutes, I'll tell you what you should be aware of.

Time: 11 minutes, 29 seconds



MP3 File

Session Notes:

Music intro
My intro
FM #30

This internet radio show or podcast for Franklin Matters is number 30 in the series. In this session, I’ll focus on what you should know about what happened this week in Franklin, MA.

1 - The Planning Board approved Walgreens development of the Four Corners property. Traffic at the corner of 140, King and Chestnut was a concern. They are coordinating with the town to create a right turn only lane for those coming up King so that they can turn right onto 140. The second lane will allow traffic to proceed directly through to Chestnut or to turn left on 140 and head into Town. This may still be an issue but isn't expected to be a big one. Time will tell.

The surprise for me was in the new opening date for Walgreens. During the prior Planning Board session, the discussion was concerned with the traffic improvements. Would the Town get the plans in time (April) to get them completed for an opening in Sep/Oct. Now the opening is not until April 2010.

You can view both Planning Board sessions via the video archive now available on the Town web site. The links will be included in the text version of this podcast.

Planning Board - 1/26/09 meeting reviewing the Walgreens plan

Planning Board - 2/9/09 meeting with final approval for Walgreens

2 - The Alumni Show opened at Galley 218 on Tuesday. A Slide show of pictures I took of the opening is available. The link will be included in the notes.

Disclosure: yes, Allison Sherlock is related to me. She happens to be the #1 daughter, a 2004 graduate of FHS and a 2008 graduate of Assumption College. Her sister, Carolyn, a 2006 FHS grad is pursuing her studies at Northeastern Univ and currently working a co-op this semester.

3 – The School Committee meeting was a full one Tuesday night. I have already provided the live reporting updates on Franklin Matters so I'll just point you to the three key presentations
The presentation documents for each of these are available.


4 – The School Committee started discussion on what the priorities should be as they get into the detail planning for the fiscal year 2010 budget. A "level service" budget, that is providing the same level of service next year as this, accounts for the cost increases in salary, benefits, transportation, etc would require an increase of 3.5 million dollars. The town has already told the school to come in with a "level funded" budget. That is using the same amount of money this coming year as is being used this year. Considering last year, the budget cut required 40 plus positions to go out the door, the 3.5 million shortfall this year may require another 60 or so positions to go out the door. How that would be done will be the major discussion over the next couple of months.

5 – The Town Council meeting on Wednesday was short, lasting less than an hour. They had spent an hour prior to the formal meeting in a goal setting session that unfortunately I was unable to participate in so I have no idea what they did. I do plan on finding out. I would encourage you to do likewise.

The meeting as short as it was, did have some points of interest. The capital budget will come before the Council for a formal vote sometime in March. Jeff is looking to get a better understanding of what the snow budget will really be in case any further adjustments need to be made.

The councilor comments section was also notable for the cautionary words and appeals to sacrifice as the work on the fiscal 2010 budget approaches. I encourage you to tap into the town web site and view the video archives. You can go straight to the councilor comments section to hear what they had to say.

Finally, I want to broach the O word. In all the discussions and news articles about the coming 2010 budget shortfall, one option we should keep in mind is for an operational override. Now, above all the other times it has been proposed would be a good time to actually pass one. We have dug ourselves into a hole depending up state revenues to cover our daily requirements. The state is not going to be increasing aid anytime soon. Franklin needs to step up and start paying their own way.

Yes, it will be a sacrifice but the one real benefit we will get is that for every tax dollar we put up for Franklin, it stays in Franklin.

I leave it here for now but will come back to this override topic as the budget season progresses.

To recap this week in Franklin:
  • Walgreens is coming in 2010
  • Gallery 218 features art works of FHS alumni
  • The school committee meeting has multiple presentations worthy of viewing
  • The capital budget will be coming up for vote in March
  • 2010 will be a tough budget
  • there should be an override option to offset job and service cuts
The week ahead will be a quiet one as school vacation is upon us and there are no major meetings scheduled for the town council or school committee. There is a Financial Planning Committee meeting on Thursday the 19th.


Have a great week in Franklin!

----- -----

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

"bargains won’t be difficult to find"

Kathy Stankard writes:
The taxpayers (myself included) will mention that the tax rate did go up slightly while the asessed value went down however we still get alot for our money like newer schools, newer police and fire station, an amazing senior center that for once makes me want to age. We also have an active community and a great small town feel even though the population is nearing 35,000.

Read her full posting on Foreclosure Rates here

"We're hoping that some of these projects get funded"

FRANKLIN —

Already facing a budget deficit, Franklin, like communities around the state, is looking to federal stimulus dollars to help fund municipal projects.

Franklin submitted several "shovel ready" projects - including water main repairs and road reconstruction - to the state in hopes of getting some of the money that could come to Massachusetts through the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

But town Comptroller Susan L. Gagner said getting federal dollars for projects like reconstructing Pleasant Street or painting the Forge Hill water tank will not save Franklin from a budget deficit in fiscal 2010.

"Anything used for infrastructure comes out of capitol funds. It's not going to help the operating budget," she said.

Read the full article including the listing of "shovel ready" projects that Franklin submitted for consideration in the Milford Daily News here


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Industry: Moseley Group


Continuing our series on local companies based in Franklin, I find the Moseley Group with this press release that is the most social media friendly I have seen to date.

Way to go Moseley Group!

FRANKLIN, MA – The Moseley Group, a leading food and beverage industry consulting firm, was chosen Thursday by the Governor’s Task Force on the Economic Sustainability of Maine’s Lobster Industry to help strengthen and improve the state’s leading fishery.

The Task Force, formed last fall after a sharp decline in lobster prices, chose The Moseley Group following a thorough review of more than a dozen proposals from marketing and consulting firms from across the country. Task Force members cited Moseley’s depth of experience in working with internationally known brands and products, such as Coca-Cola, Ocean Spray, Juan Valdez, McCain, Nestle and others, as a key factor in their choice.


Kristen Bailey, a vice-president at Moseley, will be the lead consultant on the project. A Maine native, Bailey is the former executive director of the Maine Lobster Promotion Council and was the architect of the Certified Maine Lobster program that was aimed at preserving markets and strengthening the Maine lobster brand. She operates offices in Portland, Maine and Franklin, Massachusetts.


“Working with Maine’s lobster industry is very rewarding and meaningful to me,” she said. “Our firm looks forward to utilizing our experience with other industries to help strengthen and improve the economic model of Maine’s lobster industry.”

The initial discovery phase of the project will begin with an industry panel
meeting in Portland, scheduled for February 26.
For more about the Moseley Group check out their web site here.

For what their social media ready press release looks like visit here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, February 13, 2009

"The unknown is killing us right now"

FRANKLIN —

Losing two good police officers is a difficult reality for Police Chief Stephen Williams, but seeing them wait in line for unemployment checks would be even worse, he said.

So he's feeling relief that two officers who hired here from North Attleborough in the last two years have landed jobs on the Walpole force.

Williams said he knew Walpole was looking for officers, so he helped get Eric Zimmerman and Robert Kilroy hired there.

...

"I don't think anybody anticipated what happened to the economy, or that it would happen as fast as it did," Williams said, adding that he was still trying to restore his force of 46 back to the 50 officers he had in 2000.

Foreseeing the layoffs he would have to make this year because of the town's projected $5 million budget shortfall, Williams said he decided to be proactive to take care of his force.

"Do I feel better these officers (did not face unemployment)? Yes, absolutely I do," Williams said. "It's a win-win for us both. I feel better they were not laid off, and Walpole gets two good officers with several years' experience."

As someone who has had personal experience observing job reductions and then been finally affected by one, good people are the most flexible to move and generally the earliest to leave. I believe that to be the case here. There is likely to be more of the real Franklin "brain drain" before the numbers settle out and we really know what will happen.

Read the full article about two of Franklin's finest moving on in the Milford Daily News here


Baloney or otherwise, help is needed

FRANKLIN —

Franklin Food Pantry workers, who have spent the last 20 years trying to feed the thousands of hungry people in town, are on edge.

In a few months, they will be kicked out of their space in the basement of the new museum at 80 West Central St., said Food Pantry Executive Director Linda Pouliot.

They are afraid. They are irate. And, Pouliot said, they are ready for a battle if that's what it takes to stay in town.

"We are not going out in a whimper - if we go out, we go out with a bang," said Pouliot, ready to lead the charge on behalf of the 2,178 people who benefit from the pantry.

Pouliot and her colleague, Michelle Reid, who works with pantry operations and outreach, believe their new neighbors upstairs, the Historic Commission, are snubbing their impoverished clients.

The notion that either the commission or town officials want to push the pantry out of the building to keep the poor away is "just baloney," said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

Read the full article about the Food Pantry's efforts to find a new location within Franklin in the Milford Daily News here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"You can't just sit around at home"

If a layoff can happen to the president of the local Rotary chapter, it can happen to anyone.

"We're in a crisis," said Ken Masson, who heads the Merrimack Valley Rotary Club and lost his job in December, several months after his employer, Massbank Corp., was bought out by Eastern Bank Corp. "With 11 million people in the US without a job, going through hardships, that's a crisis."

Increasing unemployment across Greater Boston prompted the former service marketing director to call on his fellow Rotarians to consider a twist on one of their organization's core missions, vocational service, by helping out the laid-off workers in their own backyards.

"You think of Rotary coming to the rescue of people who have polio or need water in developing countries, but there are things we can do right here," Masson said.

You can continue reading the article in today's Boston Globe here.

Yes, being without a job can happen to anyone. For the job search notes that I have compiled from my own experience follow this link here. If you want to compare notes and network, please feel free to contact me via comment or email.


Industry: Bank merger proceeds

Benjamin Franklin Bancorp's proposed merger with Rockland Trust, one of the state's largest community banks, is nearing completion.

Shareholders of Benjamin Franklin approved the deal yesterday, while their counterparts at Rockland Trust's parent company, Independent Bank Corp., are scheduled to vote tomorrow. State regulators held a hearing this week and will likely decide in the near future on approving the deal. If all is approved, Benjamin Franklin Bancorp's name would be changed to Rockland Trust.

The all-stock deal is a rarity in the financial sector these days, the banks merging by choice rather than necessity. It would create a 72-branch company with about $4.5 billion in assets.

Read the full article about the merger of Ben Franklin Banking in the Milford Daily News here.


"We need to think of ourselves as part of a community"

FRANKLIN —

Town Council is considering approving a $1.34 million capital plan proposed by the Capital Subcommittee that has been endorsed by the Finance Committee and Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

Franklin has $1.45 million for capital items, Nutting said, noting the Capital Subcommittee advised transferring the sum from free cash and $50,000 from a new gift account. The plan would leave $84,000 in the free cash account, Nutting said.

"While we all know these are difficult financial times, it is recognized that if we do not fund a capital plan, the problem gets much worse in the next fiscal year," Nutting said.

Read the full article on the proposal for the capital budget in the Milford Daily News here The capital budget will likely be considered for a formal vote at one of the March meetings.


Industry: RokkSoft partners with VocalEZ

From the PR news wire today, we find out about RokkSoft.

Franklin, MA, February 11, 2009 --(PR.com)-- RokkSoft Solutions Corp has partnered with VocalEZ LLC to expand the distribution of the VocalEZ voice recognition medical dictation transcription service.

VocalEZ wraps an integrated work flow around voice-enabled software and web technologies to provide a simple, cost effective dictation transcription platform that is scalable from a single dictator to a large clinic or integrated hospital system, resulting in cost savings of 50 percent when compared to traditional transcription methods.

RokkSoft will offer the VocalEZ medical dictation transcription system in a “Software as a Service” (SaaS) model to physician practices and medical clinics. Medical practices of all sizes are confronted with escalating costs. Because VocalEZ is a pay-for-use service, administrators are now equipped with a solution that dramatically reduces monthly expenses, without requiring a major capital outlay.

VocalEZ fundamentally changes the way the transcription industry provides clinical documentation by creating significant enhancements and savings through the entire process. This HIPAA-compliant solution delivers more accurate, timely and integrated medical documentation.

VocalEZ has created a solution that allows every physician practice to enjoy the same benefits that had previously only been available to the largest groups and hospitals. By focusing on the needs of this largely overlooked segment of the healthcare market, the partnership with RokkSoft is an indication of the VocalEZ commitment to improved patient care while driving down costs.

###

About RokkSoft

RokkSoft Solutions Corp represents companies that provide medical practices and businesses with industry-changing technology applications to improve productivity and drive down operating costs. These applications are delivered in a “Software as a Service” (SaaS) model to minimize required startup resources and eliminate capital expenditures. This enables clients to quickly realize ongoing cost savings.

For more information, please visit http://www.rokksoft.com.


From PR.Com here

Town Council Mtg Smry 02/11/09

The summary of posts covering the Town Council meeting on 2/11/09

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Live reporting - council comments

Zollo - budget season coming and it will be the most challenging for the town. It will require sacrifice from everyone in Town. My hope is that all affected parties will work together in a spirit of unity. To think outside the box. At some point as a town, we have to decide what our budget will represent. Regardless with what is passed, this should bring us closer together.

Pfeffer - The Capital Committee has looked long and hard at the capital. There is a cost to not spend the capital. The Town has paid that price before.

Whalen - The original capital amount was in the neighborhood of 8 million dollars and we are now looking at a vetted amount just over 1 million.

Adjorn!

Live reporting - Town Admin

The Franklin Food Pantry is looking for space. When the renovation on the old municipal building occurs later, they will need the space. They serve approx. 18 communities but most of them are from Franklin, so they would like to remain in Town.

Falling investment income, excise taxes, etc. will result in below level revenues for the first time in several years.

Live reporting - Legislation for action

J. LEGISLATION FOR ACTION
  1. Resolution 09-05: Confirmatory Order of Taking Cross and King Street - approved 8-0
  2. Resolution 09-07: Appropriation – Public Facilities Salaries - approved 8-0
  3. Resolution 09-08: Appropriation – Title and Deed Research - approved 8-0
  4. Resolution 09-09: Appropriation – Survey on 30+ Acres on Pond Street - moved to March 4th meeting
#1 - a small parcel of land was left off the prior Four Corner transactions, this cleans up that situation in order to move forward with the Walgreens proposal.

#2 - house cleaning on the accounting, when the department changes took place 5 were planned for, only four actually moved.

#3 - money needed to clear title and ownership for town owned land that has been accumulated over time. The company has already been doing the work, this amount allows them to finish what is in their queue.

#4 - again to clear title and survey for the land. The Town did get State approval for the 40-D priority development for this land. The approval comes with a grant to help improve the planning and permitting process.