Saturday, October 11, 2008

Parking fees increase at MBTA

The MBTA's oversight board voted yesterday to raise parking rates by $2 at all of its lots and garages beginning Nov. 15 as part of a plan to pay back wages owed to union employees.

For many daily riders, the increase will have the same effect as a $10-per-week fare increase, or about $500 per year. Rates currently vary, from $1 per day at ferry yards, to $2 at commuter rail station lots, up to as much as $5 at the four most expensive garages.

"That's doubling it," said Margie Katz, a record supervisor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston who takes the commuter rail to work from the Campello station in Brockton, where daily rates had been $2. "It will be an extreme hardship."
Read the full article here in the Boston Globe

"It's really depressing"

Posted Oct 10, 2008 @ 10:10 PM
Last update Oct 10, 2008 @ 10:53 PM


Calling the global economic crisis and financial pressure "the perfect storm" for taxpayers to pass Question 1, which repeals the state income tax on Nov. 4, legislators implored local politicians to rally against it.

"If it passes, we can pretty much shut our doors and go home," said Rep. John V. Fernandes, D-Milford, during a legislative breakfast with the Massachusetts Municipal Association at the Milford Senior Center yesterday.

"We can't sit back on such an important question. The cynicism that drives this means we have to explain to people the seriousness of the consequences. I know people who tend to vote for this who work for local government," Fernandes said.

Fernandes, state Sen. Richard Moore, D-Uxbridge, Ashland Assistant Town Manager/Finance Director Mark Purple, and Douglas Executive Director Michael Guzinski, along with others at the forum, believe the question has a very good chance of passing, and it scares them.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

"some people are just self-centered and narrow-minded"

Posted Oct 10, 2008 @ 10:34 PM
Last update Oct 10, 2008 @ 10:41 PM


Neighbors are rallying to save a nearby colony of feral cats, contacting national animal rights organizations after learning Highwood Condominiums' board of trustees plans to trap and euthanize them.

Animal Control officers Cindy Souza and Tracey Holmes say the feral cats' feeding station, which they set up with Purr-fect Cat Shelter of Medway in nearby woods is on state land where trapping is prohibited.

"We've kind of stepped back ... It's really up to the people to stand up to the association at this point," Holmes said.

And they are.

Resident Leslie McShane contacted Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, to bring attention to the situation.

"I thought they should know what goes on in small towns that want to euthanize their problems ... instead of reaching out to the community to try and find homes for the feral cats or try to relocate the colony to a friendlier area that they can all survive in," McShane said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"We plan for the worst, hoping it never happens"

Posted Oct 08, 2008 @ 11:38 PM


Just outside Milford Regional Medical Center, men covered from head to toe in protective suits, gloves, rubber boots and breathing apparatus had already decontaminated several victims of a mock terrorist attack when Fire. Lt. Patrick Salmon got a message over his walkie-talkie.

A voice on the other end said the state was reporting: "It may be a terror attack with sarin gas," a nerve agent used in chemical warfare.

Around 7:35 p.m., 55 minutes into a drill mimicking a terrorist incident on a commuter train arriving in Franklin, emergency workers were prepping the third and final victim to bring to the hospital.

"So far, it's good. It's dark out, so we had some issues until we got the lights set up, but now we can keep taking patients" if necessary, Salmon said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

"members worried about the safety of students, faculty and staff "

Milford Daily News
Posted Oct 09, 2008 @ 12:54 AM


The Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School's board of trustees last week voted to rent the historic Red Brick School from the town for one year.

"I'm feeling very good about it. I've been a strong proponent on using the building," said John Neas, president of the charter school's board.

Neas said the school faces a critical need for space in its building, which he estimated to be about 35,000 square feet.

"We use every inch of space available to us. We have 416 students and a waiting list of 200 students we can't accommodate," Neas said, noting that the board is looking for another school site. (In the best scenario, he said, they might have a new building in five years.)

And every weekday afternoon, charter school students and staff must vacate the building so that St. Mary's Church, which owns the building, can hold religious ed classes there, Neas said.

"That means our school dismisses at 3:10, and we have from 3:10 to 3:45 for after-school activities. That creates some issues for us," he said.

"This is a possibility for us in terms of having space to do those types of things," Neas said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fiscal 2010 will be "a very challenging year"

Posted Oct 07, 2008 @ 10:44 PM


In keeping with the same financial forecasts given over the last year, Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting last night told the Finance Committee he anticipates fiscal 2010 will be "a very challenging year."

"Local receipts aren't going to bounce back quickly. Everything is tightening and tightening and tightening," Nutting said in the first Finance Committee meeting of the new fiscal year.

His biggest concern for the fiscal '10 budget is whether there will be a reduction in state aid, he said.

Nutting does not believe Franklin will be "as revenue-rich" as last year, he said, noting that the town's fuel, pensions and insurance costs will continue to escalate, outpacing revenue.

The town will bid for a new electric energy contract this spring, "another big exposure," Nutting said.

Read the full story in the Milford Daily News here

Energy $ense - presentation

With many thanks to Fred Schlicher for sharing the PowerPoint presentation he used Monday night (10/6/08) at the Library for his talk on Energy $ense.

Thank you Fred!

Many thanks to the Friends of Franklin Library and the Franklin Area Climate Team for sponsoring this event!

You can review my notes taken during the presentation here

Andro's Pizza - preparing to open

Some progress was observed on our walk about town this weekend. A new sign for Andro's Pizza is up. There are indications of getting ready but the ladder observed in the window says there is still work being done to prepare for the opening.

Franklin: New sign for Andro's Pizza

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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Franklin School Personnel Reductions 2003-2009: updated

In the preparations for the Override Vote in June, I had prepared this slideshow with the help of information from the School Department and careful review by some School Committee members. With the Override finalized, the adjustments to staffing levels complete, I thought it would be good to go back and update the numbers to ensure that this record will be available.

The override in June was probably not the last one Franklin will vote on. Hence the need for keeping the numbers current and accurate.

The earlier version of this can be found here

"Yeah, there are things you can do"

Posted Oct 07, 2008 @ 12:02 AM


Saving cash on energy can be as simple as choosing a conventional television over its plasma counterpart, which is three to four times pricier, said Fred Schlicher.

Residential energy use, which accounts for about 20 percent of all energy consumption in the United States, is "a near and dear subject to us, " Schlicher said, particularly this winter, when "we may be facing energy prices twice as high as last year."

Schlicher, a program manager for Massachusetts Climate Action Network, offered tips on cutting home energy bills and suggested resources for improving energy efficiency in the first of a four-part climate series at the public library, attended by about 40 people last night.

Some of the top energy-suckers at home: appliances and lighting (20 percent), water heating (16 percent), space heating (60 percent), and refrigerators, particularly those more than 10 years old (no statistic given), Schlicher said.

He recommended using a "Kill-A-Watt" meter, which costs about $30, to identify "very quickly" which appliances use the most electricity at home.

"You plug it into the wall and see what the big users of electricity are; it's a great monitor," Schlicher said.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

read my live reporting summaries here

Museum construction progress

Since the last picture: the columns have been replaced, a fresh coat of paint applied, new entrance steps/landing almost complete.

Museum construction progress

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Have you been observing the changes? Did I miss something?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Energy $ense - meeting summary

Live reporting - Energy $ense - clean power

buy clean power

  • support renewable energy in MA
  • sign up for NationalGrid's GreenUp Program

Look for the post card in your next bill! Should be in the October bill.

Live reporting - Energy $ense - NationalGrid

  • longer payback
  • standard double-glaze only R-3
  • triple glaze R-5
consider using window quilts

Gerry Hanna, from NationalGrid

Masssave, a collaboration funded with the conservation charge on each of our utility bills

You can call for an energy audit. The auditor will take about 2 hours to go through the house with you. The printout will prioritize the opportunities according to the energy savings projected by the audit.

Will do less audits but more implementation work. Will pay 75% up to $2000 if qualified for thermal work

"You need to want to do something but now is the time to do so."

"Audits are already scheduled through January, call now and they will honor the request after March 2009 when the offer expires."

The education is available on the Massave website. They'll need your zipcode and primary heating method (oil, gas).

Live reporting - Energy $ense - heating, cooling tips

Electric reductions
  • phantom load reduction with power strips
  • determine power eaters with "Kill a watt" meter and economize use
  • energy appliance purchases
buy Energy Star appliances (

Appliance tips
  • don't buy a plasma TV (uses 3-4 times as much than conventional)
  • gas-fired clothes dryer
  • front loading washing
heating & cooling purchases
  • programmable thermostat (rebate available from local utility)
  • new furnace or heat pump
heating & cooling tips
  • boiler, efficient, tuned and cleaned
  • insulation, windows, don't let heat escape
  • sealing of air leaks (attic, basements)
  • insulation installation
air leakage paths
  • air comes into the basement through the windows, cracks in the walls
  • warm air rises and will go out where it can
homeowners who have insulated and did not see an improvement in energy usage, usually had air leaks that were not properly addressed

Blower door Air Leakage analysis
helps to find big leaks, assess ventilation, requires training, measure leakage before and after work, can cost $4-600 for a single household

get the neighborhood together to have the contractor come in to do several at the same time and reduce the cost

Infra-red Camera
assess current level of insulation in walls and spot gaps
check results of contractor work

windows are very expensive to replace but the energy saving payback is hard to get; about 8-13% on savings

Live reporting - Energy $ense - behavioral, hot water, etc.

  • hot water use
  • heating & cooling
  • lighting
  • electric use reductions
kilowatt meter, approx $30 to measure usage by device within the home

Hot water use
  • adjusting hot water heater (recommended setting the temp at no higher than 120 degrees F)
  • insulate heater (if an older heater, consider a blanket wrap)
  • shorter showers (try)
  • hand dish washing (do a full load whenever using the dishwasher)
  • wear clothes longer (a personal decision)
  • washing with cold water
Fred followed a low carbon diet and was able to reduce his carbon footprint by 22% by following some of these tips

Hot water tips
buy the most efficient, don't buy more capacity than you need

put a cut off switch on your shower head, and reduce flow when water is not needed

Heating & cooling
  • turn down the thermostat
  • change the A/C filter frequently
  • regular tune up of furnace or heat pump
  • seal doors and windows
decide for yourself what temperature you can live with, Fred used to use 74 as the standard setting during the day, he has now dropped it to 68,

Air sealing
  • rope caulk
  • clear plastic on windows
  • weather stripping along door edges
  • plug holes in ceilings, floors, walls, etc.
  • use CFL bulbs, last longer, uses less electricity
  • turn off lights when not in room

Live reporting - Energy $ense - intro/overview

Franklin Area Climate Team sponsored this series. On October 19th, the Global Warming Cafe will be held from 2:00 - 4:00 PM at the First Universalist Society, 262 Chestnut Street.


Fred Schlicher, Program Manager of the Mass Climate Action Network.
email address -> Fred. Schlicher @

representative of NationalGrid here as well

over 20% of the US energy use is from residential (vs. commercial, industrial or transportation).

60% of the individual residential BTU usage from from space heating.

Four basic approaches:

  • behavioral (lie style changes you can make)
  • appliances (items you can buy)
  • weatherization investments (home improvements)
  • education (reliable sources of information to help you become an educated consumer)

MassSave website, collaborative effort to provide information on energy efficiency




Live reporting - Energy $ense - before meeting

Here at the Library tonight to report on the following presentation:

“How to Cut Home Energy Bills: a home energy efficiency workshop”
Fred Schlicher, Program Manager, Massachusetts Climate Action Network
Heating your home this winter is going to cost you far more than it did last year. This program will show you a variety of things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your house and lower your energy costs. Most of the things covered will cost little or nothing and you can go home with a helpful resource handout and how-to guidance.
There will be a good number of folks here, more than are usually at a regular Town Council or School Committee meeting.

head count at the end of the presentation showed almost 50 people

Ed Cafasso - Letter October 5th

Hello everyone!

I hope you enjoyed the weekend. Here’s a brief update on recent school issues in Franklin…

The Late Bus is back! Late bus service for middle and high school students resumes this week after the Town Council approved a $10,000 appropriation. The money came from funds set aside for the town many years ago by a local developer. The four buses carried hundreds of riders each week during the 2007-08 academic year, helping students who stayed after school for extra help, detention, clubs or extra-curricular activities. Kudos to the Town Council for a decision that means a great deal to students and working parents throughout the community!

The School Building Committee held its inaugural meeting last week. This volunteer group includes town and school officials as well as private citizens who are experts in architecture, finance, design and engineering. Chaired by Tom Mercer, the committee’s mission is to oversee either the replacement or renovation of Franklin High School; decide the fate of the numerous modular classrooms that have surpassed their life expectancy; and, to map out renovations needed at the Davis Thayer, Parmenter and Kennedy schools, our oldest elementary facilities.

Several Franklin programs have earned accreditation from the National Association of the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). The latest to win this recognition for educational quality are the ECDC and the Kennedy School kindergarten. The kindergarten at Oak Street earned NAEYC accreditation last year. The kindergartens at Davis Thayer and Parmenter earned the distinction in 2005 and are currently working towards re-accreditation, which occurs every five years. Jefferson and Keller are hoping to become accredited in 2011.

Franklin High School Principal Pamela Gould has notified the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc., of the impact of recent budget decisions. The Association is the accrediting body for high schools in this region. The loss of 16 high school positions, including an instructional technology slot, forced the elimination of Woodshop, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) I and II, Public Speaking, Journalism, French V, and French AP courses. Meanwhile average class sizes increased to two to nine students, depending on the subject.

The notification to the NASC came just a few weeks after Franklin High fared relatively well in a study commissioned by Boston Magazine. Based on a complex and somewhat controversial analysis conducted by Elaine Allen, research director of the Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship at Babson College, FHS ranked right in the middle of the pack in terms of cost efficiency (72nd out of 143 schools) and in the top half of the group in academic performance (62nd). You can view the rankings online at The feature articles can be found at

Many parents have begun a letter-writing and e-mail campaign in an effort to have a school schedule adopted that allows classes to begin after Labor Day. Proponents of the change cite school calendars in other districts, such as Medway, in which several professional development days are scheduled in late August so that students do not start the academic year until after the holiday. Parents’ views on this topic are welcome. The School Committee typically discusses and votes on the school calendar in the spring. Stay tuned.

And finally, the School Committee hopes to name a new superintendent this month. It is likely we will discuss internal candidates for the post at our upcoming meeting on October 14. If all goes well, a final discussion and vote could occur as soon as the Committee meeting on October 28.

These e-mails are provided as a constituent service. I try to distribute at least one e-mail update each month during the school year, as issues warrant. As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions. If you are receiving duplicate e-mails or if you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please let me know and I will remove you from the distribution list. If you know of someone you would like to add to the list, please send along their e-mail address.


Ed Cafasso, Member

Franklin School Committee


The Friends of the Franklin Public Library are pleased to sponsor The Franklin Area Climate Team’s “Energy $ense” Series for residents starting on October 6, at 7:00 p.m. The Franklin Area Climate Team has developed a four part speaker series titled “Energy $ense for Franklin Residents” that will feature energy professionals from around the state who will provide practical solutions on how to reduce your energy costs and improve the environment at the same time. The four program series schedule is:

Monday, October 6
“How to Cut Home Energy Bills: a home energy efficiency workshop”

Fred Schlicher, Program Manager, Massachusetts Climate Action Network
Heating your home this winter is going to cost you far more than it did last year. This program will show you a variety of things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your house and lower your energy costs. Most of the things covered will cost little or nothing and you can go home with a helpful resource handout and how-to guidance.

Thursday, November 13
“How Businesses Get Help Going Green”

Jen Boudrie, Sustainable Business Leader Program Director
The Sustainable Business Leader Program offers assistance to small to medium sized businesses in Franklin to improve their current practices in energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, waste reduction, transportation efficiency and sustainability management. The program provides: guidance in assessing your company’s current sustainability condition, help in developing an Action Plan to improve it and on-going assistance and monitoring.

Wednesday, December 10
“Incentives for Residential and Commercial Solar and Wind Instillations”

Tyler Leeds, Project Manager, Green Building & Infrastructure of the Mass. Technology Collaborative
If you’ve ever thought about installing a wind turbine or solar array at your home or business to cut energy costs this speaker will answer your questions and help you better understand the basic investment economics involved. The State of Massachusetts has recently developed a variety of incentives to spur the development of renewable energy in the state such as: Commonwealth Solar Rebates, Small Renewables Initiative and Business Expansion Incentives. Find out all of the details.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Showing of the Award Winning film “Kilowatt Ours” by Jeff Barrie

Ted McIntyre, Ph.D., Board Member, Massachusetts Climate Action Network - moderator
This film traces the path of the electricity you use in your home from the light switch, through the wires to its source. Along the way you’ll meet power companies, schools, businesses and everyday Americans finding ways to meet our energy needs using conservation and green power. “Kilowatt Ours” will teach you how to dramatically reduce your electric bill and improve the environment at the same time.

This informative energy series is free and open to the public. All presentations will be in the community room, lower level of the Franklin Public Library located at 118 Main Street at 7 p.m.

My analysis of the Audit Report - updated

I went back to the Audit Report from earlier this year and updated my summary and analysis of the report.

This was originally published in February and can be found here

Sunday, October 5, 2008

FM #16 - 5 Things you should know

#16 in the series of podcasts on what matters in Franklin, MA. This one focuses on the 5 things you should know about Franklin this week: (1) the late bus decision, (2) zoning bylaw rescheduled yet again, (3) Financial Planning Committee, (4) Energy $ense Series at the Library begins and (5) Question 1 on the ballot in November.

Time: 20 minutes, 59 seconds

MP3 File

Session notes:

Music intro

FM #16

This podcast for Franklin Matters will focus on the 5 things you need to know about what happened this week.

First, the Town Council approved funding for the Late bus. Yes, this is the Late bus that due to the override was out of service. In late July, it seemed like the bus could be provided. By the end of August, the bus was back out. As noted in the School Committee meeting of 9/23/08, the Holmes bus company had reduced the cost of the late bus for this year from 40,000 to 10,000. The middle school PCC’s got together and pledged to pay for it. The School Committee worked with the Town Council and Town Administrator and it became know that the Town Council would consider it at their meeting 10/1/08.

In this clip from the Town Council meeting on 10//1/08, we hear the full discussion and vote
- insert clip on Late bus -

I think the Late bus is a good thing but I don’t like how it is being paid for. Money was “found” in an account that could be used for public transportation. This does nothing to restore confidence in Town government. The townies who are keeping track just put another notch in their belt, ha more found money, they did it again.

Second, the bylaw to rezone some parcels along RT 140 near the Knights of Columbus and Dunkin Donuts ended up being rescheduled for yet another meeting as it was evident that the matter was not going to gain enough votes. Two councilors were absent (Bartlett, McGann) with a two thirds majority required to pass. Due to the reschedule we don’t not know of the outstanding information was provided.

Third, the working sessions for the Finance Planning Committee (FPC) continued earnest this week. The Dept of Public Works (Brutus Cantoreggio) and Facilities (Mike D’Angelo) came in to review their departmental operations, their forecast for the next several years, cost drivers for their areas and answer a number of clarifying questions from the committee. There will not be any presentations at the next FPC meeting as they begin to digest what they have learned from the first four departments. The School budget is scheduled for review at a meeting in November.
You should recall that the FPC is charted with developing a long term plan for the Town, assuming there is an override next year (very likely) what is the long term outlook, how many will there need to be, or is something like the Arlington plan going to work in Franklin. This is important work. I encourage you to keep track of what is going on here. There is a whole lot of great data and information being presented. I am doing my best to report it live but if you have a chance to attend, please do so. It will be worth your while.


The Friends of the Franklin Public Library are pleased to sponsor The Franklin Area Climate Team’s “Energy $ense” Series for residents starting on October 6, at 7:00 p.m. The Franklin Area Climate Team has developed a four part speaker series titled “Energy $ense for Franklin Residents” that will feature energy professionals from around the state who will provide practical solutions on how to reduce your energy costs and improve the environment at the same time.
The schedule is available on the Town website, as well as on Franklin Matters.

Fifth, I still believe Question One is the most imminent danger that Franklin faces. Question One is on the ballot in November.

The State Income Tax Repeal is also known as Massachusetts
Question 1. It is an initiated state statute that will appear on the November 4,
2008 ballot in Massachusetts.[1] If the measure passes, it will end the state's
current 5.3% income tax on wages, interest, dividends and capital gains.

You can find objective information at this link:

You can find the Yes position here:

You can find the No position here:

Where would you cut $11 million from the Town Budget?

Public safety is about 9 M, Central Gov’t Services is about 9 M. Public Works is about 6 M. If 2.8 million cost the town 44 teachers, what would loosing $11 million dollars cost the town?

The idea of the commonwealth is for all of us together to work and pay for the community services we need. If you think taking $11 million dollars out of the Franklin budget would bring you the community you want, I’d like to know what it would look like.

These are the five things that matter to Franklin this week:
  1. Late bus back in
  2. zoning postponed again
  3. FPC meeting
  4. energy $ense for Franklin residents
  5. the imminent danger of Question 1
---- ---- ----

This podcast has been a public service provided to my fellow Franklin citizens and voters by Steve Sherlock

For additional information, please visit

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

Short school week this week

Short school week this week, originally uploaded by shersteve.

With a combination of events coming together on the calendar this week: Rosh Hashanah arrives on Thursday and Columbus Day on Monday. Figuring that it didn't make sense to have the students come in for one day, with parents able to take advantage of the long weekend, Friday slips in as a no-school day.

Don't worry, they still get 180 days in, just distributed a little differently this year.

To all our Jewish residents, Happy New Year!

First floor

The new foundation for the house to be numbered either 190 or 192 King Street is getting the first floor laid down.

King St: foundation complete, flooring being laid

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In the News - Dean; School Building Committee

Milford Daily News
Posted Oct 04, 2008 @ 11:00 PM


The entire Dean College community yesterday celebrated the ribbon-cutting of the new Library Learning Commons, a new hub for student activity that made visiting alumni jealous.

"We didn't have anything like this,'' said Jane Dorr, a Class of '58 alumna at Dean for her 50th anniversary this Homecoming Weekend.

Following a ceremony and remarks by President Dr. Paula M. Rooney, Dorr and two girlfriends from '58 toured the officially opened, brand-new building to see a Jazzman's Cafe & Bakery, new library, learning spaces, faculty offices and central home for the college's academic support services.

"Now I know what I'm sending money for,'' Dorr said. "In fact, I'm encouraged to keep giving.''

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


Milford Daily News
Posted Oct 04, 2008 @ 10:39 PM


The Town Council-appointed, newly formed School Building Committee has elected its leaders and will meet a second time Wednesday to begin talks on renovating or rebuilding Franklin High School and prioritizing its other projects.

"It's really a great group in terms of professionals,'' said committee member Ed Cafasso, who is on the School Committee as well.

"We had more volunteers than spots, so many people in the community were willing to serve,'' he added. "It just shows how important the high school and other school buildings are to the community.''

In addition to working on the high school project, the committee will create a plan for the modular classrooms, which have gone past their life expectancy, said Cafasso. The group will also address any other school enrollment issues.

read the full article in the Milford Daily News here