Saturday, March 22, 2008

Riding around for pictures

If you saw an odd looking guy on a bike stop here and there to take pictures today, that might have been me. I was scouting for new entries in the "Where in Franklin?" series.

If you did happen to see me, that could be a helpful clue to a future picture :-)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Where in Franklin? #38

Where in Franklin? #38, originally uploaded by shersteve.

As we change seasons this week, we'll step back to another change of seasons and see if you can identify where in Franklin you'll find this?

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

Where in Franklin? Answer #37

Where in Franklin? Answer #37, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The correct answer to picture #37 is the water tower along Upper Union Ave near the Forge Park Industrial Park.

Thanks to ltsjs for the answer.

Stay tuned for the next opportunity.

In the News - mayhem charges, food pantry, school committee self-evaluation

'Project Mayhem' charges brought
By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff

Police are filing criminal complaints against several Franklin High School students who allegedly planned to wreak "chaos and mayhem" in the style of "Project Mayhem" from the movie "Fight Club" last Friday, said Deputy Police Chief Stephan H. Semerjian.

Police thwarted the students' day of confusion after School Resource Officer Dan MacLean, along with a high school janitor and a girlfriend of one of the suspects, alerted them, he said.


read the remainder of this article in the Milford Daily News
originally reported last week, you can find that article here


Tough economy hits food pantries
By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff

Spikes in food, gas and even real estate prices are driving a growing number of local people to turn to food pantries in recent weeks, according to Linda Pouliot-Whitez, executive director of the Franklin Food Pantry.

"We've been getting two, three new clients a week," said Michelle Reid, an outreach director at the food pantry who attributed the increased need partially to higher real estate taxes, which caused landlords to bump up rents.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Franklin School Committee sets new goals
By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff

In a special meeting Tuesday night, School Committee members gave self-evaluations of their work, which included many high marks and noted several new areas for improvement.

The School Committee agreed to set goals earlier in the year for the superintendent and to review its policy manual in a methodical manner.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News

Thursday, March 20, 2008

In the News - Town Council rejects sign

Posted Mar 19, 2008 @ 10:51 PM


The Town Council last night swiftly rejected a proposal to place a welcome sign downtown, saying it would "denigrate" the common.

Based on feedback from the Downtown Partnership, Historical Commission chairman and Town Common Committee, the Department of Planning and Community Development recommended installing the sign at the corner of Pleasant and Main Streets as part of ongoing downtown revitalization.

The sign, which would look similar to those already installed in the area, would be funded by a state grant, which must be spent by June 30, said Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Listen to the full Town Council discussion here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Town Council Meeting Summary 3/19/08

The audio recordings for the town meeting 3/19/08 are available in the following sections:

Town Administrator's Report etc. (audio)

The Town Administrator, Jeff Nutting, makes his report, followed by old business (none), new business (one), and councilor comments before the meeting adjorns.

Time: 8 minutes, 38 seconds

MP3 File

Approval for backup generator at the High School (audio)

The replacement for the failed backup generator at the high school was finally approved by the Town Council.

Time: 11 minutes, 34 seconds

MP3 File

Approval for Summer St Paving (audio)

Franklin Town Council approves transfer of funds from developer to allow for the paving all at once of the Summer St section where sewer extentions were made. Passed by a 6-0 vote with 1 abstention (McGann).

Time: 7 minutes, 35 seconds

MP3 File

Discussion on proposal for sign on the Town Common (audio)

Franklin Town Council discusses the proposal for a sign on the Town Comon. Proposal was eventually withdrawn before a vote was taken as there were objections from some of the Council.

Time: 10 minutes, 56 seconds

MP3 File

Habitat for Humanity presentation (audio)

The Franklin Town Council hears presentation from the Old Colony Habitat for Humanity which just expanded their scope to include Franklin and Bellingham.

Time: 25 minutes, 12 seconds

MP3 File

Tavern License Transfer Approved (audio)

Franklin Town Council approved unanimously the transfer of license for the former Franklin Tavern per bankruptcy court proceedings. ABC approval is still required.

Time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

MP3 File

Note: When Chairperson Chris Feeley defers to Jeff Nutting, Jeff in turn passes to Maxine Kinhart, who passes to Attorney Mark Cerel. This transfer does not get picked by the recording.

New School Business Administrator chosen

The School Committee last night unanimously voted to hire town resident Miriam Goodman as the new school business administrator.

During a break at last night's special meeting, committee Chairman Jeffrey Roy called Goodman, offered the job and reported that she accepted.

Goodman is director of administration and finance for the Woonsocket, R.I., Education Department, a post she has held since 1999.

She was one of four finalists in the search for a new business administrator following the committee's ousting of Dolores McCoy last fall. McCoy was put on administrative leave when officials discovered she had made numerous accounting errors, including putting $590,000 in expenses from last year into this year's budget.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

The interviews conducted by the School Committee can be found here.

Dark Tide - Book Review

I had published my short form book review of Dark Tide previously.

My long form of Dark Tide was published Tuesday as part of the month long Love Affair with Books on the Joyful Jubilant Learning blog.

You have my permission, indeed encouragement to click on over, read it and participate in the conversation.

Dark Tide is the focal point for On the Same Page at the Franklin Library this year.

Sunshine Week

While many public officials are hesitant to share information about what the government is doing, what many Americans don't realize is that the business of public officials is highly accessible, especially when it comes to how taxpayers' dollars are spent.

To raise such awareness, the Daily News is participating in Sunshine Week, an annual project aimed at creating awareness about freedom of information and government secrecy.

A Daily News reporter hand-delivered written public record requests to several Milford and MetroWest town officials last month, asking for each one's three most recent town-issued cell phone bills.

How did Franklin fare?

Franklin Police Chief Stephen Williams also refused to provide complete bills.

Franklin Town Attorney Mark Cerel wrote a letter on Williams' behalf, explaining he would provide general billings, but not an itemized record.

"Public safety and security and personal privacy interests preclude making any of the records available," wrote Cerel. "There is a significant risk that he would inadvertently disclose an exempt telephone number in reviewing a high volume of calls, thereby creating a public safety and/or security risk or a personal privacy violation."

The town later provided general billings of all townwide-issued cell phones, which includes Williams' phone, free of charge. Franklin pays about $3,000 each month for all town employees' cell phones.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

This is a nice attempt to participate in "sunshine week". Rather than make an issue on the phone numbers themselves, I'd have preferred an analysis of the kinds of coverage the phones have.

Do they have basic phone service or a higher level of service?

Then you could have a discussion on what level of phone service is appropriate by department for a local community to provide.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Town Council Agenda - 3/19/08

The agenda for Wednesday's Town Council meeting can be found here (PDF).

The license transfer for what was operating as the Franklin Tavern (formerly GoodFella's) is on the agenda.

Egg Hunt Friday

EGG HUNT FRIDAY - An egg hunt for children 9 and under will take place Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Franklin High School field house. Peter Cottontail and his friends will entertain children with egg painting, face painting, and photographs. Children will be divided into age groups and should bring their own baskets. The fee to participate is $10.

For more information, contact the Recreation Department at 508-520-4909 or visit its page on the town's website, - Rachel Lebeaux

Monday, March 17, 2008

Annual HMEA 5K Road Race - May 18th

From the Town Crier

Come to the 7th Annual HMEA Independence 5K Walk and Race in the Park on May 18th at 11AM, being held at 50 Constitution Blvd on the fields at EMC in the Franklin Industrial Park. All proceeds from this fund raising event go to benefit 2000 children and adults with developmental disabilities in Massachusetts. The event is a 5K Walk and a 5K race with free tee shirts for all fund raising partners and racers. Special gifts for fund raising walkers and medals and trophies for 1st through 3rd place finishers (all catagories) in the race. Free food, entertainment, games and activities. A special tribute to local veterans plus special guest appearances by Gene Lavanchy (Fox 25 News annchor), Gail Huff (WCVB NewsCenter 5 reporter), Ayla Brown of American Idol fame and Pat Patriot from The New England Patriots.

Registration for the race and the walk is through HMEA's web site

Horace Mann Education Association (HMEA) is a non profit human services agency located in Franklin MA, in Forge Park, Incorporated in 1961, providing specialized supports, education and therapy for 2000 individuals with disabilities in 110 Massachusetts cities and towns including Franklin.

Franklin bus schedule

yes, there is a bus that runs through Franklin from the Municipal Building to the Village Plaza. The bus runs six days (Mon-Sat) and the schedule can be found here (PDF).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

MA Best Zip Codes

Did you see the Globe Magazine on Sunday? They had this special feature on housing, real estate, etc. One article in particular summarized their choices for the top 25 zip codes to live in Massachusetts.

Best part of the article?

Franklin's zip code was NOT in the top 25!

Do you think some folks will stay away?

We only want businesses to come here. Not families with kids!

Boston Globe gets to the high school renovation

The Boston Globe Sunday edition of Globe West caught up to the FHS renovation or build a new school question, both of which are rather pricing. Yet, with a warning already we could loose the accreditation and jeopardize the plans for our students unless we do something.

The question is what? and for how much?

Read the Globe article here

Where in Franklin? #37

Where in Franklin? #37, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Can you identify "Where in Frankin?" this picture was taken?

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

Where in Franklin? Answer #36

Where in Franklin? Answer #36, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The correct answer to #36 was the Ben Franklin Bank branch office located on East Central Street next to Honey Dew Donuts.

Thanks to ljsts for providing their third correct answer (I had miscounted last time).

Thanks to all for playing!

Stay tuned for the next chance to find "Where in Franklin?"

A process to reach agreement on joint maintenance

Following up on the issue and need to reach an agreement raised earlier, I have the following as a process to achieve this. There are other ways but we just need to execute on one that will allow the key stake holders a say in the process.

Using the talking stick concept, the stake holders should come together in a circle.

  • Town Council
  • School Committee
  • School Administration
  • Dept of Public Works
  • Town Administration
  • parents
  • principals
  • custodians
  • tax payers
  • are any left out?
Sitting in a circle with two representatives from each group. Representatives can not sit next to another of their own group.

Several white boards or flip charts to record the key points

Volunteers solicited to assist in the recording of the key points

First round records all the objectives, or goals, or constraints of each group that they feel need to be part of the ultimate agreement. Let's get all the issues on the table.

For example:
  • cost savings
  • principals control people working within their school
  • education reform act requirements
  • labor contracts
  • etc.
Second Round prioritizes the goals, objectives, constraints as outlined in Round One

Third Round entertains proposals from each stake holder group on how they would meet the overall goals as outlined in Round One and prioritized in Round Two

Fourth Round works to build consensus on the proposals from Round Three

There should be a break between the second and third rounds to provide time for the individual stake holder groups to prepare their proposals

There may need to be more than four rounds but that will depend upon the openness of the discussion and how well the group is able to come to a consensus

It may be required to review the current maintenance agreement which the town believes is working and at least from the point of view as expressed by one custodian, clearly isn't. We will need to address any and all issues with this process. We need a working process, not a broken process. If the current process has some flaws, let's address them, agree to fix them and then agree to move on. If we don't fix them, we will not be able to make significant progress on a new process for the custodians.

Cost savings or power struggle?

By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff


School and town officials battling for control of the School Department's $5 million maintenance account will continue to duke it out this month, according to Town Councilor Robert Vallee.

The account has traditionally been managed by schools, but Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting has proposed the town's Department of Public Works take it over for to eliminate duplication of jobs and maximize cost-efficiency, Vallee said.
Nutting, Vallee, Town Councilor Shannon Zollo, Councilor Deborah Bartlett,
Chairman Chris Feeley, School Superintendent Wayne Ogden, and several other town officials debated the issue at a joint budget subcommittee meeting last week, Vallee said.

``Nothing was accomplished, but we exchanged thoughts,'' said Vallee.

School officials still need to ``clearly understand'' why Nutting is seeking the change, said Ogden. Nutting could not be reached for comment on Friday.

Read the remainder of the article at the Milford Daily News here

My two cents:

If Franklin is going to make any significant progress on the growth of costs, tight cooperation needs to take place amongst the Town functional organizations.

This may be "low hanging fruit" but it needs to be handled properly. The Town does not need to split over issues that could save money. It is incumbent upon the Town to clearly explain what it would look like to have the two departments combined. This future vision would help to focus the discussion properly on who would do what, how school building issues would be handled, how the school and their important daily functions would operate so that the most important function of delivering a safe, efficient and highly qualified education to our children.

The current education reform act requirement that the school principals are responsible for everyone who works in their building is a potential road block. If properly addressed, it should be a key reason for crafting an agreement that will satisfy all parties.

Communication and open discussion are critical. Let's get all the parties to the table, not just a few. Include the custodians in this discussion. Include some parents. Bring in a moderator to facilitate the discussion and agreement if necessary.

Above all avoid the negatives. Avoid name calling. This is not an 'us' vs. 'them' situation. This affects all of us.