Friday, November 30, 2007

Franklin in the news

From the Milford Daily News:

The Charter Commission recommendations are reported on here

Hotel tax revenue vote from Wednesday's Town Council meeting

From the Franklin Gazette:

The school deficit covered temporarily

Taxes to rise, no surprise since the override passed

Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 6

Tom Fleming comment

Time: 1 minute, 56 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 5

Michael Doherty comment

Time: 4 minutes, 48 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 4

Councilor Whalen makes his statement on assessment issue

Time: 1 minute, 22 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 3

Councilor Zollo makes his statement on assessment issue

Time: 1 minute, 31 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Citizens Comment 2

Councilor Doak has a follow up question for LeBlanc

Time: 1 minute, 54 seconds

MP3 File

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tax Hearing Citizens Comment - 1

Michael LeBlanc shares his assessment analysis

Time: 17 minutes, 15 seconds

MP3 File

Michael LeBlanc's assessment analysis workbook

During the Town Council meeting 11/28/07, Michael LeBlanc handed out to the Town Council and those in attendance a couple of sheets with his analysis of the tax assessments on commercial/industrial versus residential properties.

The papers that he handed out came from the two pages in the workbook now posted online and available here.

Michael, thank you for sharing this work!

Tax Hearing Q&A - 11

Councilor McGann asks what is the distribution of split vs. single tax rates in MA

Time: 1 minute, 0 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 10

Councilor Doak clarifies 2007 sales and assessment valuations

Time: 47 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 9

Councilor Vallee clarifies the potential tax rates

Time: 1 minute, 11 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 8

Councilor Whalen asks "Can you recast this spreadsheet?"

Time: 7 minutes, 34 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 7

Chairman Feeley asks a question, Kevin Doyle responds

Time: 5 minutes, 35 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 6

Councilor Pfeffer says this info is deceptive

Time: 1 minute, 26 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 5

Councilor Zollo starts getting to the real question, Kevin Doyle sorta answers it, Dibaggis chimes in

Time: 6 minutes, 14 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 4

Councilor McGann asks a question on the split tax rate scenarios

Time: 2 minutes, 0 seconds

MP3 File

Town Council Meeting 11/28/07 Summary

In chronological order of the meeting itself, my live postings with the audio sections and the newspaper coverage that corresponds.

Board of Assessors presentation (audio)

Questions on senior participation in deferments (Pfeffer, McGann) (audio)

Mason's question on single rate rationale

Doak's initial questions (audio)

McGann's question on split tax rate scenarios (audio)

Zollo gets to the point (audio)

This is a deceptive piece of information (Pfeffer)

This is deceptive (Pfeffer) (audio)

Chairman Feeley has his turn (audio)

Can you recast this spreadsheet? (Whalen)
Nutting's proposal on determining the assessed vs. sale valuations

Can you recast this spreadsheet? (Whalen) (audio)

Councilor Vallee clarifies the potential tax rates (audio)

Councilor Doak clarifies 2007 sales and assessment valuations (audio)

Councilor McGann asks what is the distribution of split vs. single tax rates in MA (audio)

LeBlanc's presentation on the assessed valuations
LeBlanc's handouts (two spreadsheets)

Michael Leblanc's analysis of the assessment issue (audio)

Doak follow up question for LeBlanc (audio)

Zollo statement on assessment problem (audio)

Whalen statement on assessment problem (audio)

Franklin needs to be competitive with India as well as Indiana (M Doherty)
M Doherty comment (audio)

T Fleming comment (audio)

D Collier (?) comment (audio)

caution you to use the information he has provided carefully
K Norman comment (audio)

J Curran comment (audio)

Jeff Nutting reviews the proposal for the Town Council to change the allocation of the Hotel Tax
Jeff Nutting (audio)

Historical Commission representative reads statement (audio)

Whalen, Nutting, Bartlett (audio)

McGann, Nutting, Roche (audio)

Doak, Zollo, Roche (audio)

Pfeffer (audio)

Susan Spears (audio)

Dave Collier (?) (audio)

Michael LeBlanc, Lisa Piana, Carol Harpin (audio)

McGann, Nutting, Roche (audio)

Zollo (audio)

Jane Curran, Eileen Mason, Lynn Narron (audio)

Motion to allocate the Hotel/Motel Tax per Nutting recommendation to next agenda

Doak, Bartlett, Nutting, Feeley, McGann and vote (audio)

Deficit in FY 09 will be far greater than FY 08 per Nutting (audio)

Motion to balance the discovered discrepancy in the School budget for FY 07 with transfer of $590,000 from stabilization

Milford Daily News coverage

Tax Hearing Q&A - 3

Councilor Doak's initial questions during the tax hearing

Time: 4 minutes, 46 seconds

MP3 File

Tax Hearing Q&A - 2

Councilor Mason's question on the reasoning for the single tax rate and not the split tax rate. DiBaggis and Norman reply.

Time: 4 minutes, 6 seconds

MP3 File

credibility of the town's government had once again taken a hit

From Michael Morton's article in the Milford Daily News:

Faced with a recently discovered $590,000 school funding gap, councilors voted last night to plug the hole with money from the town's savings account.

Although the Finance Committee recommended that the schools be held accountable by giving up $290,000 from their budget, and taking $300,000 from the fiscal stabilization fund, the council decided that it did not yet have enough information to assign responsibility.

Read the full article here recapping the Town Council meeting of 11/28/07.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tax Hearing Q&A

Councilors Pfeffer and McGann with their initial questions on how many seniors apply for deferments for tax relief.

Time: 2 minutes, 14 seconds

MP3 File

live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Motion to balance the discovered discrepancy in the School budget for FY 07 with transfer of $590,000 from stabilization.

The auditors are scheduled to come to the Town Council at a future meeting to address the problem and make recommendations.

Role call -> 9-0 motion passed

Live blogging -Town Council meeting 11/28/07

Deficit in FY 09 will be far greater than FY 08 per Nutting.

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Motion to allocate the Hotel/Motel Tax per Nutting recommendation to next agenda.

Passed 7-2.

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

place holder for additional recorded citizens comment

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Citizens comment

Michael LeBlanc

place holder for recorded comment

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Citizens Comment

Susan Spears

place holder for recorded comment on use of open space/community preservation

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

placeholder for recording of comment by Historical Commission representative

Live Blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Jeff Nutting reviews the proposal for the Town Council to change the allocation of the Hotel Tax. He proposes to use $90,000 for an architect to provide an assessment on repairs required for the library. He also proposes to use $200,000 to make repairs to the old Senior Center in preparation for the Museum.

The Town Council would need to make a vote to appropriate the money for these uses. Otherwise, the money would go into the open space fund as originally allocated.

The vote would need to take place before the tax rate is set at the meeting next week.

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax rate - Citizen Portion

Ken Norman

Michael Leblanc is an honorable man, I have worked with him, he does good analysis. I would caution you to use the information he has provided carefully... Let's get Mr Whalen and Mr LeBlanc together and see what they can come up with.

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax rate - Citizen portion

Michael Doherty

"If there is a problem with assessments, fix that problem, do not address it with it a split tax rate... Franklin needs to be competitive with India as well as Indiana... You increase the pie by selling the properties we are trying to, get them on the tax role."

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax Rate Citizen comment portion

Michael LeBlanc speaking

Commercial/Industrial properties

64 properties sold from 2004 to 2007, reduced to 54 for analysis
pre-assessed value of these properties sold $264
difference is 96 million, assessment 36% below what they were sold for

9 of the properties, had an assessed value higher than the sale price
55 were below, Franklin Village was the single biggest difference

family homes

895 properties, presale 384 million 5%
262 were assessed higher than sale
633 were valued less than sale price

From Kevin - Board of Assessors in response to questions from M LeBlanc

more than 50% of the properties provide the information on income and expenses
if they don't supply the information, the business would waive their right to appeal the tax assessment, they may jeopardize their appeal at the state level, they are also subject to a $50 penalty.

there were several properties in the Industrial Park that were assessed for 45.7 million, sold for 67.8 million; the current year assessments went down to 42 million.

Summary: The business are effectively getting a tax break of about $2.5 million that the residents are picking up.

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax rate Q&A

Jeff Nutting proposed to pick the properties that sold around $1 million, which would be about 20 or so properties, to re-do the calculation and include that years assessed value for those properties to make a determination as to whether there is an undervaluation of business commercial properties.

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax rate Q&A

Can you re-cast this spreadsheet to show the assessed valuation at the time of the sale? Could you do that for us?
from Stephen Whalen during this discussion

After some clarification, yes, they can and will do that.

Town Council Tax Hearing 1

The presentation by the Tax Assessors on 11/28/07 and their recommendation for the tax rate for FY 09

Time: 5 minutes, 42 seconds

MP3 File

Live blogging - Town Council Meeting 11/28/07

Tax rate hearing: Q&A

"This is a deceptive piece of information... not apples to apples, oranges to oranges.."
said by Judith Pond Pfeffer in reference to the discussion around the information provided on assessed value versus sales price of local business/commercial properties since 2005.

Where in Franklin? #20

Where in Franklin? #20, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Let's see if you can identify this building.

The guidelines to play "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.


Before setting the tax rate

With the library leaking and the museum headed for a new downtown home, the Finance Committee recommended last night that money for the projects be taken from a fund dedicated in the past to open space.

The fund currently holds $1.6 million and is drawn from the town's hotel/motel tax. While that money would remain earmarked for open space, upcoming earnings from the current fiscal year would go to the library and the museum under a plan proposed by Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting and recommended by the Finance Committee.


Since the Finance Committee is an advisory group, the Town Council is expected to discuss the museum and library tonight (Wednesday 11/28/07). To use the hotel/max tax for purposes other than open space, the council must make a final decision before setting the tax rate.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Town Council Meeting - Important Agenda Items

Given the recent discrepancy found in the school budget, the agenda calls for correcting this imbalance.

The Finance Committee met tonight as well as the School Committee. I chose to attend the School Committee meeting. We can depend on Michael Morton of the Milford Daily News to report on the FINCOM meeting.

A brief discussion with some members of the FINCOM after their meeting seemed to indicate they propose for the shortfall to be split between the Town and the Schools. The Town piece would be covered by the not yet certified "free cash" (in the mean time from the stabilization fund) with the School piece to be absorbed with additional budget cuts.

Yes, the schools already took a 2.1 Million cut (as the override only covered 2.4 of what they requested) and will apparently need to absorb another $300K.

We'll see what the Town Council does Wednesday 11/28/07.

The scheduled agenda can be found here (PDF file).

Michael Morton's recap of the Finance Committee meeting can be found here.

Franklin School Committee Statement 11/27/07 (audio)

The statement made by the Franklin School Committee regarding the budget shortfall just revealed as read by Chairperson Jeffrey Roy at the meeting 11/27/07

Time: 2 minutes, 53 seconds

MP3 File

an image version of the statement is available here
the text version of the statement is available here

School Committee Statement 11/27/07 (image)

A image of the statement as read by Chairperson Jeffrey Roy Tuesday night at the School Committee meeting regarding the financial discrepancy just discovered.

School Committee Statement 11/27/07 (text)

Statement for November 27, 2007 Meeting

During the process of closing the financial books for the 2007 fiscal year, the Town Comptroller discovered irregularities in the school district’s accounts. Specifically, several 2007 expenses were charged against the 2008 budget. This practice is not allowed under Massachusetts Municipal Finance Law.

The Franklin School Committee, in conjunction with the Town Council, immediately ordered a complete legal and financial review of the circumstances surrounding these irregularities. Our effort includes an independent professional audit covering fiscal years 2005, 2006 and 2007.

In addition, the school district’s finance director has been placed on administrative leave.

Preliminary information indicates that these accounting irregularities may result in a shortfall of approximately $590,000 in the budget for the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2007.

However, the internal review and independent audit are still ongoing and the precise circumstances of the problem will not be known until both are completed. We expect the results to be presented to the School Committee and the Town Council sometime in mid to late December.

On the advice of our attorney, the School Committee and School Administration will not discuss this matter publicly or privately until such time as the review and audit are completed. Further discussion before then could create significant budget, legal and personnel issues for the schools and the town that would jeopardize efforts to understand the full circumstances of the situation.

Members of the School Committee and School Administration take this matter very seriously, which is why we have initiated a comprehensive review and audit and took the personnel action we did. We will provide a full legal and financial accounting as soon as possible after the detailed results of the investigation are completed.

Isabella's Menu - Page 2

Isabellas_2a, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Isabella's is also a good supporter of local groups and organizations. For a period of time one day during the week, they'll share a percent of the sales. As I go by almost every day coming from the train station, on most days there is a sign up for one group or another.

This is a win-win situation. Good food for a good cause!

Isabella's Menu - Page 1

Isabellas_1a, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Isabella's is one of the really good delis and pizza places in Franklin.

We got two full sheets of pizza for the Friday when the Sherlock's gathered at our place after Thanksgiving and did not end up with any leftovers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Next School Committee Meeting - Tuesday, 11/27/07

Given the recent news about the shortfall discovered, Finance person suspended, investigation and audit underway; I don't think I will trust the cable network to deliver the next meeting to my door.

I plan on being there in person to hear more about what happened.

We are not the only Franklin!

Exploring the web, I found another Franklin Matters which covers Franklin, Tennessee.

One post on this blog shows a listing of 27 other Franklins in these United States. We are the second largest according to population:
Give the other Franklin Matters a visit.

Franklin, WI had come upon the radar during our override election earlier this year. Franklin, WI had a similar override and it failed.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Norfolk NOGO struggling

In brief, two of the key members of the Norfolk Organization for Government Oversight (NOGO) are now sitting on the Advisory Board helping to review financial decisions before the town. NOGO was originally organized as the Norfolk Opposition Group to Overrides and reformed after the override passed.

The Boston Globe Override Central web site has this story in more detail here.

I like the acronym they came up with (NOGO) :-)

Where in Franklin? Answer #19

Where in Franklin? Answer #19, originally uploaded by shersteve.

I guess you could not figure out where to go to "Relax, Renew, Revive". Original photo can be found here.

I was surprised myself when I stopped and realized what the sign actually read. I go in this doorway almost weekly for our family food shopping. I like doing the food shopping but I don't go there to "relax, renew, revive". Do you?

Say tuned for the next challenge!

Holiday Lighting 4:00 - 6:00 PM Sunday 11/25/07

The annual Holiday Lighting on the Common will take place this afternoon at 4 p.m. on the Franklin Town Common.

Presented by the Committee for Concerts on the Common, the festivities will include lighting up the Town Common holiday lights and displays, refreshments and goodies, and a visit from Santa and the elves. A special attraction this year will be having a free picture taken with Santa, ready to be taken home.

In case of inclement weather, the festivities will take place across the street in the Ben Franklin Charter School.

Donations to help defray the cost of decorating may be sent to Concerts on the Common, P.O. Box 92, Franklin, MA 02038 or call 508-528-2206 for more information.

From the Milford Daily News

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Franklin: Santa's Coming

Franklin: Santa's Coming, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Sunday 11/25/07 4:00 - 6:00 PM

Franklin: Setting up

Franklin: Setting up, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The elves were busy setting up the Town Common for the tree lighting ceremony and associated festivities on Sunday, November 25th from 4:00 - 6:00 PM.

Franklin: Holiday decorations

Franklin: Holiday decorations, originally uploaded by shersteve.

There were flowers
and the season for them passed.

There were empty pots
and now they have been filled.

Franklin: Elves have been busy

Franklin: Elves have been busy, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The elves have been decorating for the holidays.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Franklin in the News

The Milford Daily News has the following items of interest to Franklin:
Winners of the Franklin Art Association's annual members exhibit, Autumn Talent Unveiled, held recently at Hayward Manor, were announced during the recent artists reception.

Best in show was awarded to Susan Pratt Sheridan for "Afternoon in Piensa," watercolors.

Click through to the full story to read about the other winners.

When the Conservation Commission visits the pond-dappled DelCarte property Sunday, members will take another step toward determining the future of the overgrown sanctuary, widely regarded as the most generous gift in town history.

In 2001, Shirley Stewart donated 130 acres off Pleasant Street to Franklin on behalf of her deceased father, longtime landowner Ernest DelCarte. Following his final wishes, the town agreed to maintain the $3 million property as open space and to ban all fisherman on the man-made ponds except for a few neighbors.

Read the full story about this "Hidden Gem". Be sure to click though and view the multimedia slide show with some photos of what Franklin Reservoirs looks like today.

The Boston Globe has a recap of the leaking library situation:

Now that Franklin voters have rejected a property tax increase to raise Community Preservation Act funds, town officials are scrambling to pay for as much as $6 million in library repairs, or at least enough to prevent further damage this winter.

The town's leaking library was on the top of the list of projects to receive Community Preservation Act money if voters had approved the tax surcharge this month. It was rejected by about 60 percent of voters, 2,174 to 1,528.

Water is seeping through the roof and inside walls of the Franklin Public Library, which opened in 1904, said Ken Wiedemann, chairman of the library's board of directors. Some water has already reached murals that adorn the reading room, and other paintings are vulnerable.

He said the situation isn't "desperate" yet, but can't wait too long, either.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Franklin: Autumn Color

Franklin: Autumn Color, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The forecast doesn't seem to have bright and clear skies for this Thanksgiving Day so a picture from a recent 'good' day is appropriate.

We have so much to be thankful for in Franklin.

We can work through our problems, we can continue to be a Top 10 community to raise a family, a Top 100 community to retire, and continue to be a place to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

School finances being looked into

The Milford Daily News is reporting that the current school department finance person has been placed on leave while a shortfall of $580,000 from last years budget is investigated.
A previously undisclosed shortfall of $580,000 from last year's budget was apparently moved to this year's ledger, the School Committee announced yesterday, prompting an outside investigation and the placement of the school finance director on leave.

The discrepancy was discovered in recent weeks by Town Comptroller Susan Gagner as she squared away the district's books for fiscal 2007. Moving funds between fiscal years is illegal, as state law dictates that each year's budget be balanced individually.

It is not good that credibility in our town's finances takes another hit with this news.

Read the full story that Michael Morton has reported here.

Vote Analysis

I need to get to the Town Clerk's office to get the details on the recent election. I'd like to get into some planning for what may come up during 2008. With the requirements for fixing the library, renovating the high school amongst the major capital requirements, nevermind trying to restore the $2 million dollars the school budget got cut this past year, there are plenty of needs but few sources of income other than an other override.

I found this article with some insights on the youth vote. As strong as the elderly vote is here, the youth vote is going to become as important as any other section of the demographics.

Now a disclaimer, I plan to do this analysis not to play one group against another. That is not how to win at this game. I plan to do the analysis to simply better understand the demographics of the town.

For example:
Tip #1: The youth vote is not synonymous with students. In fact, students make up only a small part of the eligible youth vote. Only 21% of all 18-29 year olds are currently attending a college or university. That means that when you report on "students", you are leaving out the other 79% of all the individuals that make up the "youth vote." These people serve in our military, are struggling to raise families - and yes, have very different concerns from college students. I understand that makes it difficult for you to cram them into a cookie-cutter story about student aid activism and tuition costs, but you do them and your readers and our democracy a disservice when you limit your coverage to students.
Food for thought.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Where in Franklin? #19

Where in Franklin? #19, originally uploaded by shersteve.

How observant are you?

Where do you go to "Relax, Renew, Revive"?

Guidelines for playing "Where in Franklin?" can be found here.


Franklin School Committee blog

Jeff Roy and others on the School Committee have their own blog: Franklin School Committee.

Jeff as an attorney by day finds some good items of interest to the school environment. For example:

When is hugging appropriate?

Intelligent design on trial.

What do you stand for?

Click on over to review what they have to share.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Five O'Clock Shadow @ Circle of Friends Coffeehouse

Caught concert Saturday night by Five O'Clock Shadow at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse. Here is a brief bit of one of their songs:

If you like live music, especially folk, the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse is one of Franklin's gems.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Milford Daily News- Carlo Reflects

Just because Willow Street resident Carlo Geromini recently retired from town service after four decades, don't expect him to give up one of his public arena passions: Perfecting his command of parliamentary procedure and encouraging others to follow suit.
``Some people like to read detective stories, some people like to read science fiction,'' Geromini, 79, said as he relaxed in his home office this week. ``I like to read Robert's Rules of Order.''
The longtime public servant still owns a pristine paperback copy of the book, a backup complementing the dog-eared hardback he lugged to meetings for many years. After serving on the School Committee in the 1960s, he won election to Town Council in 1981, holding a seat there for all but two years until leaving before this fall's election.

If you missed the Franklin Gazette, you can read Carlo's reflections on his years of service here, as written by Michael Morton of the Milford Daily News.

Where in Franklin? Answer #18

Ken Norman provided a clue the other day which didn't help anyone else I guess.

His clue was:
the cow's head over the door has nothing to do with this farm's name.

He came back to also provide the correct answer:
Four Feathers Farm on Mount St

Thanks for playing!

Stay tuned for #19.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sidewalk - starting over

Sidewalk - starting over, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Yes, they are starting over.

The previous pictures can be found here.

Fire Station - new doors

Fire Station - new doors, originally uploaded by shersteve.

New doors!

Just in time, it is getting cold out there.

New Stop Signs on Southgate

Stop Signs, High Springs, originally uploaded by adobemac.

Michael Morton reports on new stops signs that have been added to Southgate creating 4-way stops where for the previous 20 years there was no stop required.

Yes, the signs are new. Bright red and white. But folks are blowing right by them.

It is not that they are crazy. The human body learns well. No signs were there for 20 years. The drivers are into their zone, their mind spinning along on the errands they are making; whether going shopping, or picking up the little one, or dropping off the middle one. They have been trained to travel without the stop signs. The mind is not aware of the change because it is a small change.

When unlearning is required, it takes time. It will take a big sign, or something significant to catch their attention to start making the change.

The police can position a cruiser to attract attention. Or the neighborhood can get together and in groups create awareness with balloons, costumes, anything to break the normal attention span of the drivers on Southgate.

Hopefully, it will not be a serious accident!

Veterans among us

Horace Mann Middle School's celebration of Veteran's Day is highlighted in an article by Michael Morton.

Asked by a group of eighth-graders yesterday whether he had wanted to be drafted during the Korean War, veteran Donald Barrow replied that young people back then held different assumptions.

"It was just something you grew up expecting," he said as he sat next to his grandson, student Andrew Wilson. "It was part of growing up at that time."

Horace Mann Middle School took a slightly different approach to celebrating Veterans Day yesterday. While it held the standard school assembly filled with invited guests and patriotic messages, the school also had students break into small groups later to learn firsthand from those who served in the military.

In one classroom, Douglas Bernard, the step-grandfather of math teacher Kim Bishaw, related both humorous and tragic memories from his time as an infantryman in World War II.

Read more about the day's event, especially the interaction between the veterans and students in this wonderful learning experience.

As a plug for one of my other projects; I am working with my father to record his oral history. Dad, Gerald (Jerry) Sherlock, grew up in Pawtucket, RI and served in the US Marines 4th Division during World War II on Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima. We have recorded up through the war and are just now getting into the post war period where he come home to find work, find and eventually marry my mother. You can listen to Jerry's Story here.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sprinkler Law Taking affect

The Fire Safety Act, signed into law by former Gov. Mitt Romney in 2004, requires all bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues that hold 100 people or more to have automatic sprinklers. The legislation was passed in the wake of The Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island, which killed 100 people in February 2003.

Gee, why are some folks complaining now? It is not like this just came out yesterday. For those in business prior to the law being signed, they have had time to get their act together.

Ira Cantor's writing in the Franklin Gazette has details on the three establishments in Franklin required to put them in. (I think there might be a couple more but they are already not operating for a variety of reasons so the count is skewed.)

Franklin Historic Walking Trail Proposed

Seeking to follow in the footsteps of Boston and its Freedom Trail, leaders of a downtown booster group announced yesterday that they want their own walking route connecting points of local culture.

"There are so many historical sites," said Lisa Piana, the executive director of the Downtown Partnership. Citing one, she added, "I would guess 90 percent of residents haven't been to the (Horace Mann) museum."

The trail proposal was one of several topics discussed during a meeting on downtown revitalization at Dean College which drew two dozen merchants, politicians and educators.

Read more in Michael Morton's article in the Milford Daily News

Good News Wanted

If you have good news about Franklin, like this, or like this.

Good news that may not make it to the local paper, send it along and I'll see what we can do to get it published here.

Send it to shersteve at gmail dot com. Be aware that I have limited access during normal business hours. You can reference my disclosure statement.

Only good news, please. There is enough bad news in the world already.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fire station sidewalk update

I forgot to mention that coming home from the train station on Tuesday I came by the new fire station and the sidewalk had already been torn up. Let's hope that this time when they pour the concrete, they put a few more signs and ropes around to keep the walkers away.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Where in Franklin? #18

Where in Franklin? #18, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The guidelines for playing Where in Franklin? can be found here.


What could Franklin do?

What can 10 million dollars and a community do together?

Make a commercial, of course!

Would the money have been better spent elsewhere? on something more important than beer? There might be something to discuss on that topic.

Guinness just launched "Tipping Point", the most expensive TV ad in its 80-year marketing history, with a domino rally that features cars, flaming hay bales and grandfather clocks. Shot up an Argentinian mountain, the ad shows a community coming together to create the mother of all domino-toppling spectacles. Genius! (Production cost: $10 million)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zip Skinny

This is a slick web site that gathers and presents information from the 2000 Census for a specific zip code. I set this up for Franklin. Once on the site, you can change the zip code to check another one, or compare up to ten others with Franklin.

Have fun!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nonni Roses Bakery Page1

Updated: June 2012
The bakery has closed or moved to an unknown location

Nonni Roses Bakery Page1, originally uploaded by shersteve.

We stopped for coffee on Saturday as Dolores and I did our walk. They weren't open when we passed on Sunday. They won't normally be open on Sunday but due to their grand opening were going to be. I went back in the afternoon to get a baguette.

Sliced and warmed in the oven, the baguette was a perfect companion for some supper's home-made Venus de Milo soup.

Nonni Roses Bakery Page2

Updated June 2012
The bakery has either closed or moved to an unknown location

Nonni Roses Bakery Page2, originally uploaded by shersteve.

This bakery just opened at 357 Union St. It moved to Franklin from Bellingham.

Senior Center: path to Oak St/Horace Mann

One of the better things I noticed about the new Senior Center, is that the fence previously dividing the property from the next door Oak Street Elementary, Horance Mann Middle and the Early Childhood Development Center School complex was taken down and enhanced with a path way.

A bridge for the generation gap!

Two critical populations for Franklin now have a way to connect. Let's encourage both the seniors and the schools to make good use of this path.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Senior Center: horseshoe pits

Senior Center: horseshoe pits, originally uploaded by shersteve.

If boccie is not your game, maybe you'll be up for tossing a few shoes!

Note that unlike many basketball hoops in Franklin driveways where the hoop height is lower for the younger kids, the stakes have not been shortened here for the seniors to use a handi-cap!

Senior Center: boccie court

Senior Center: bocci court, originally uploaded by shersteve.

A well rounded senior needs physical exercise and a good game of boccie can help.

Senior Center: Back patio

Senior Center: Back patio, originally uploaded by shersteve.

On nice days, this will get used but it will need some awnings. It lies in the direct sun.

Senior Center: Parking lot

Senior Center: Parking lot, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The parking lot was full, cars were parked all along Oak St. My father and I actually parked at the Oak Street School parking lot and walked back to the Senior Center for our visit.

One of the facility workers was chuckling that "they" had planned for about 200 folks to show up. This was busier than the high school field house during voting on Tuesday.

Senior Center: meeting room in front

off the main entrance area to the right and toward the front of the building this meeting room looks out to the parking lot and Oak Street.

across the hall there is a good size exercise room. it was being occupied by a rehearsal (or peformance?) of some 30 or so members of a chorus

Senior Center: Conference room in back

off the center hall in the rear of the Senior Center is this nice conference room.

Senior Center: other half of common room

the other half...

What is not shown - there is also a stage at the right and a grand piano

Senior Center: common room

Senior Center: common room, originally uploaded by shersteve.

one half of the large common room

Senior Center: Library

Senior Center: Library, originally uploaded by shersteve.

a nice room, even with the crowd for the open house, I felt I could pull up a chair and get lost in a book.

Senior Center: entrance area

Senior Center: entrance area, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The Open House at the Senior Center was well attended today. Probably more people than turned out to vote last Tuesday.

Flowers on the bridge

Franklin: Flowers in the bridge, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The picture yesterday showed the empty flower pots on the other side of the railroad bridge.

This picture was taken earlier this year. I have resurrected it to help refresh our memories of what the flowers looked like.

May the memories keep us warm this winter.


Where in Franklin? Answer #17

Where in Franklin? Answer #17, originally uploaded by shersteve.

We had two correct replies on this one. The first from Michael LeBlanc, the second from Ken Norman.

The picture for #17 was taken from the corner of the building seen here to the left.

The Rome is a Franklin treasure!

Stay tuned for the next picture.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Poor sidewalk planning

Poor sidewalk planning, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The nice sidewalk laid down Friday afternoon was marked off with some traffic dividers. That's ok for the auto traffic. The foot traffic (yes, this is West Central and heavily trafficked) was not blocked off with anything so folks just walked on.

Some as they realized what they were doing got off. Some were more opportunistic and wrote their name. This could easily have been avoided with some more effective blocking. Where is the "Don Not Cross" tape when you need it?

Note that the sidewalk on East Street does not have the same foot or name markings. It is less heavily traveled.

Franklin: Good planning

Franklin: Good planning, originally uploaded by shersteve.

An example of good planning. To lay the bricks straight and even, there are guidelines on each corner. Three of those guidelines are pictured here.

Too bad the folks who just put in the sidewalk near the new fire station did not take similar planning precautions. Now they have some re-work to do.

Franklin: All the flowers are gone!

It is that time of year. The flowers, so colorful and welcoming, are now gone for the season.

The memories remain.

Thanks to the volunteers who helped to create these flower boxes and keep them watered and maintained during the growing season.

Friday, November 9, 2007

How not to spend Community Preservation Act dollars

More taxdollars are on the line in Wareham, where some political activists are fuming over some $1.1-million given to a property owner for her beachfront land. The money is coming from Community Preservation Act funds, but the larger issue is how residents and towns spend tax increase revenue.
Read more about this in the Boston Globe posting here.

As I read this article and more importantly, read between the lines (with all due respect to my newspaper contacts, news papers are out to be sold and headlines help) this is not so much an issue with CPA as it is an issue with apparent collusion amongst the town officials in Wareham who found a way to do what they wanted, period. If they had enough money in the coffee fund, they would have used that.

For Franklin voters and tax payers, this is message of diligence on how the town handles its affairs and not a condemnation of CPA. CPA while recently rejected, is a good thing. Maybe not yet for Franklin but someday.

Amesbury rejects "under" ride

Yes, Amesbury voters have voted down a proposal to reduce their taxes.
By a 2-1 margin, voters in Amesbury on Tuesday rejected a proposed $1 million Proposition 2 1/2 ‘‘underride,’’ or tax cut, that had been strongly opposed by Amesbury Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III.
Read the Boston Globe Override Central posting here.

Franklin: Grand Opening

Franklin: Grand Opening, originally uploaded by shersteve.

I think Dolores and I will stop by to visit on our walk Saturday.

Franklin: Holiday Bazaar

Franklin: Holiday Bazaar, originally uploaded by shersteve.

While the sign is posted in front of the current Senior Center, with the new one celebrating the grand opening on Sunday the 11th, the bazaar will be held at the new facility off Oak/Beaver Streets.

Franklin: Center Commons building brickwork

Brick by brick, the somewhat tedious but artful process of bricklaying creates a building of structure.

Local Scenes from Steve's 2 Cents

To view the local scenes from Steve's 2 Cents follow this link

To view the local scenes as posted here, you can click on the Label in the right column for "local scenes"

Where in Franklin?

As part of the refocusing of my writing here, I am starting a new feature.

As you have seen, I have been posting some pictures of the local scenes in and around Franklin. On Wednesdays and Sundays, I'll post a picture and ask for your participation to identify where it is in Franklin.

Who can play:
Anyone can play but realistically, I understand that this will limit participation to those readers who are Franklin area residents (or at least local neighbors). Don't worry, we'll do something else for those of you who are outside Franklin.

What kind of picture:
The picture will be of something seen from the sidewalk or road while walking, or riding a bike or car. All pictures will be found within the confines of geographical Franklin. The picture should be something of beauty, specialness, architectural, natural or the like that is found within Franklin.

How to play:
If you recognize the picture, send me an email or leave a comment on the post identifying where the picture is or what it is of. Cross streets, street addresses, or significant defining descriptions accepted. In case of a tie in identification, the time stamp on the entry (to indicate the first correct answer) will determine the winner.

I'll post a new picture each Sunday and Wednesday morning. I'll announce the winner of the previous picture at the same time.

All entries for Sunday's picture will close at midnight on Tuesday.
All entries for Wednesday's picture will close at midnight on Saturday.

The glory and honor for identification of the picture. I'll publish as much of your name or identification as you will allow me to.

Why am I doing this?
To help us all explore the real beauty of what we have here. Sure there are great sites to see when we travel but "there is no place like home". If this effort does just a little to help us better see, understand, and appreciate our own Franklin area, then it will have succeeded. This will unite my desire for "life long learning", my passion for the good customer experience, and of course, my home town: Franklin.

Where in Franklin? - Part 2:
You can also send me a picture to post. You'll get credit for the picture and assist in judging the winner. Contributions should be emailed to shersteve at gmail dot com. If the picture is not something I am comfortable in posting safely, I'll let you know via email.

This is meant to be a fun thing to do.
If this gets to be not fun, well, I'll give notice and stop.

Oh, and the residents of my immediate household are not eligible to play.

Did I miss anything?
Please, let me know.

Updated 11/9/07 with the move from Steve's 2 Cents to Franklin Matters
Updated 8/26/07 to change from once per week to twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday)
Updated 10/4/07 to change from "Where am I?" to "Where in Franklin?"

Franklin Election 2007

This will take you to the posts leading up to and following the election on November 6, 2007.

Franklin Override 2007

This will take you to the list of the original posts leading up to and following the override vote on May 22, 2007.

Where in Franklin? Summary

The 2013 edition of Where in Franklin? guidelines can be found here

2013 - 01 Nature trail behind the Parmenter School

2013 - 02  Lamp on outside of 44 Main St

2013 - 03  marker at Fletcher Field

2013 - 04  Panther Way, new sidewalk

2013 - 05  bench at Ben Franklin statue at Library

2013 - 06  Jefferson Elementary School playground

2013 - 07  water trough on downtown triangle

2013 - 08

The guidelines to play Where in Franklin? can be found here (2007 edition)

Picture 17, Answer 17 The Rome Restaurant

Picture 18, Answer 18 Four Feathers Farm on Mount St

Picture 19, Answer 19 Stop & Shop

Picture 20, Answer 20 Four Corners Building

Picture 21, Answer 21 Municipal Building

Picture 22, Answer 22 Montessori Sunrise School

Picture 23, Answer 23 open pit by Chestnut Ridge, along RT 140

Picture 24, Pix 2 - 24, Answer 24, Horace Mann Plaza entrance

Picture 25, Answer 25 Davis Thayer Elementary School

Picture 26, Pix 2 - 26, Answer 26 St Mary's Church

Picture 27
, Answer 27 East Central Car Wash

Picture 28
, Answer 28, better photo Ginley Funeral Home

Picture 29, Pic 2, Answer 29 Franklin Federated Church

Picture 30, Answer 30 Franklin Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Picture 31, Answer 31 Glen Meadow Apartments & Condominiums

Picture 32, Answer 32 Ficco's Bowladrome

Picture 33, Answer 33 Franklin Common

Picture 34, Answer 34 Keigan Chevrolet

Picture 35, Answer 35 Ben Franklin Statue at Library

Picture 36, Answer 36 Ben Franklin Banking branch office

Picture 37, Answer 37 Water Tower, Upper Union St

Picture 38, Answer 38 Stobbart's Nurseries

Picture 39, Answer 39 Horace Mann Museum

Picture 40, Answer 40 Best Deli

Picture 41, Answer 41 Hayward Estate carriage house

Picture 42, Answer 42 Franklin Country Club - golf driving range netting

Picture 43, Answer 43 former Thompson Printing Press, Dean Ave

Picture 44, Answer 44 the well on Jordan Road

Picture 45, Answer 45 Verizon building on Main St.

Picture 46, Answer 46 Adirondack Club

Picture 47, Answer 47, Church of the Latter Day Saints, Jordan Road

Picture 48, Answer 48, Bullukian Oil on Alpine Row

Picture 49, Answer 49 Open space off Lincoln St

Picture 50, Answer 50 Franklin Lumber Company

Picture 51, Answer 51 - Parmenter School on Wachusett St

Where in Franklin? was posted prior to November 9, 2007 on Steve's 2 Cents

The summary of the first 16 photos can be found here