Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snow Removal Bylaws

Uses of Streets, Chapter 155-20
No person shall plow, push, deposit, throw or pile snow or ice into or across any public street, sidewalk or property nor direct nor cause the same to be done unless in the employ of the Town.

This bylaw is important and necessary to ensure safe roads and sidewalks. It also helps the DPW to reduce its cost of snow and ice operations.

Violators may be fined up to $300 for each day such violation continues.

No All Night Parking, Chapter 170-7

It shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, to park said vehicle on any street between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM of any day between November 15th and April 15th.

It shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, to park said vehicle on any street during a snow storm in a way that obstructs snow removal equipment.

Parking on Sidewalks
Parking on sidewalks is illegal at all times and prevents the clearing of snow and ice.

This can be found on the Town website along with the following Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Can I push snow from my property onto the sidewalk.
A. NO. A Town bylaw restricts this act. Additionally, such action may bring liability if an accident should occur. This also increases the town’s costs for snow operations.

Q. Do some streets receive priority during a snow storm?
A. YES. Major roadways and hills are a top priority.

Q. Does the Town really need a parking ban?
A. YES. Snowplowing and removal are difficult; parked cars on the roadways not only increase the number of hazards, but also the time it takes to remove the snow.

Q. Do sidewalks receive the same priority as streets?
A. NO. The roads are always plowed first. Only certain sidewalks are plowed when the storm has ended.

Q. Why is snow pushed into my driveway?
A. The situation is unavoidable. The plows remove the snow from curb to curb for maximum clearance of the roadway. This provides for maximum drainage and public safety.

Q. Will trash and recyclables be collected during a snow storm?
A. YES. Trash should be placed so it does not hinder the street plows or sidewalk plows.

Q. Who determines the opening, closing or delayed opening of school during snow and ice storms?
A. The school superintendent.

Intimacy, control and learning environments

Some food for thought

from TED Talks, Stefana Broadbent: How the Internet enables intimacy

Intimacy? Control? Learning environment?

Note: for email subscribers, you will need to clock through to the website to view the video

Friday, December 11, 2009

"There is no limit on changes in the tax rates"

It is tax rate season. Franklin's property tax rate was set last week and Boston's tax rate was set this week. There was a good write up on Boston's tax rate situation especially given the mishandling in the Boston Globe story. I thought this paragraph was succinct:
Proposition 2 1/2 limits the overall annual levy increase in a community to 2.5 percent plus taxes on any new development. There is no limit on changes in the tax rates, which are simply adjusted up or down, depending on what has happened with assessed values, in order to arrive at the total levy target from residential and commercial properties that city budget writers have drawn-up.
You can read the full article by Michael Jonas in Commonwealth Unbound here

Sustainable Farming event rescheduled

Metacomet Land Trust has re-scheduled its program on Sustainable Farming due to the after effects of Wednesday's snow storm...

Please join us Wednesday, December 16th, at the Mendon Senior Center, 62 Providence Street, Mendon for this program with Carolyn and Rob Nicholson of Sweetwilliam Farm (Upton). Rob and Carolyn will discuss Sustainable Farming in our region.

Come hear the perspective of a practicing farmer when Rob and Caroline present our Annual Meeting program. We'll also discuss the important connection our land preservation efforts have to supporting agriculture in the region.

Metacomet's short annual meeting will begin at 6:30, followed by the program with Carolyn and Rob at 7:00. Please stay for refreshments and conversation after the program.

This program is free; a small donation is requested at the door.

In the News - choice of Nutcracker productions

Franklin has dueling 'Nutcracker' ballets

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Town Council Goal Setting - 12/09/09

The Town Council met on Wednesday evening for a "Goal setting session". Councilors Whalen and Zollo arrived late as the meeting started earlier than normal at 6:00 PM. Councilor Vallee left about 7:00 PM. The remaining Councilors went into Executive Session approx. 7:45 PM not to return to open meeting.

I chose not to live blog the meeting as I wasn't sure how long it would be. I took my notes the old fashioned way.

Briefly, it wasn't as much a goal setting session as it was a getting up to speed session for the new council. A review of standard policies and procedures was covered to set the stage for an effective operation as the Council would handle business going forward.

The key take-aways for me were:

The Council will bring forward and approve the existing fiscal policies that had guided the prior councils. These determine the operating guidelines for how much the stabilization fund should be, how much long term debt we should service from the operating budget, etc. A copy of the policy document will be provided later.

Councilors Whalen and Zollo will bring forward the prior subcommittee work on the the Charter revisions for presentation and discussion with the full Council.

The Planning and Community Development Dept will be bringing forward a number of by-law change proposals. The proposal on signs will likely be of interest to many. The Franklin Downtown Planning group received a preview of it and had a good discussion on the proposal.

The plans for the downtown renovation will be coming to the Council in the next 90-120 days. A decision on whether to put the utilities underground will need to be incorporated into the overall project plan. The Council decision will be (1) to put them underground (2) how to fund the work associated with the utilities (existing grants can not be used so it would either be debt or cash).

Much of the discussion was on the overall financial picture for the town. Currently, the Town has a revenue problem (insufficient tax base and over-reliance on State revenue) but even in good times the Town has an expense problem with health and pension benefits in particular rising at a 10-15% rate and the tax levy limited to 2.5%. The draft capital plan was reviewed including how the town will have room in their debt structure beginning 2011 to take on projects up to a total of $6 million (and finance them via debt).

Ashley Studley from The Milford Daily News reported on the meeting:

Franklin eyes expensive projects

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Panther Pride 2009

This video was shown during the School Committee meeting of October 27, 2009 and available during the Panther Pride night to provide an overview to the current 8th grade class.

Panther Pride 2009 from Franklin High School on Vimeo.


Note: email subscribers will need to click through to the Franklin Matters site to view the video.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

School Committee Mtg 12/08/09

The collection of live reported posts for the School Committee meeting on Tuesday Dec 8, 2009 can be found here:

Knuf Said at Soco Rose, Dec 11th

The local group Knuf Said will be performing this Friday night, Dec 11th at the Soco Rose on Union Ave beginning at 9:30 PM.
KnufSaid is made up of 4 young musicians who write and perform original music.  They are influenced by Jazz, Blues, Rock and Funk Styles.  They have performed at venues such as Cheers, Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, The Situate Art Festival, and many other local venues.  They have opened for the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra and the Velveteen Playboys to name a few.  They recently placed highest musical act and 3rd overall in the statewide competition, Rhode Island’s got talent.  Band members include John Kinney on Vocals and lead guitar, Butch Giguere on Bass, Tyler Whetstone on Drums and Vocals and Steve Linscott on Alto Sax.
 Knuf Said performed at the recent Harvest Festival.

Knuf Said on Myspace

Knuf Said at RI's Got Talent:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Live reporting - Closing

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports - none
School Committee Liaison Reports - none

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

Cafasso - Would request to the Budget Committee, to see if it is feasible to use the vast number of empty seats to add a pay to ride and utilize those empty seats for the ride home.

Trahan - thanks for supporting the FEF Casino Night, please hold the date for the Trivia Bee - April 10th

Motion to enter executive session to not return to open meeting
Passed 7-0

Live reporting - Information matters

Letter received from NEASC continuing accreditation for Franklin High School

Principal Peter Light was creative to re-invent the high school within the budget considerations. Accreditation is a ten year cycle. A self-study is prepared and then updated with a visit from NEASC. We have been on a warning status due to budget problems. We have been providing status reports yearly. We submitted this last status late as the budget had been approved late. We feel pretty confident as we move forward. We are seeing a doubling of usage for the library/resource center under the new configuration.

We still have $38,000 for subscriptions to periodicals and other materials to keep our collection current.

We have basically four major things left to respond to, the four items are related to the renovation of the building.

We'll start the process five years out for the next accreditation cycle.

Glynn - congratulations and thank you!

Building Committee meeting on Dec 14th to move forward on the project to hire the OPM and hire the architect.

Live reporting - Action items

4. Action Items
a. I recommend adoption of Option One of the 2010-2011 School Calendar.  motion to approve, passed 6-1 (Cafasso no)

b. I recommend approval of Remington Middle School’s request to declare the listed books as surplus. motion to approve, passed 7-0

c. I recommend acceptance of two checks ($25.00 & $53.30) totaling $78.30 from Adirondack Vending for the RMS for supplies.  motion to approve, passed 7-0

d. I recommend acceptance of a check for $300.00 from Fidelity for the Annie Sullivan Middle School for in-house enrichment, supplies and supplemental curriculum materials.  motion to approve, passed 7-0

e. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1050.00 from ASMS PCC for buses for field trips.  motion to approve, passed 7-0

f. I recommend approval of Policy JIEE
motion to approve, passed 7-0 

Live reporting - policies

This was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. The School Committee plans to review one third of their policies each year, hence covering all policies over a three year cycle.

took out bullet point on reimbursement for travel

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

took out bullet point on reimbursement for travel

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

change from 2/3 vote to a majority vote

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

Superintendent has authority to purchase

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

no changes to this one covering the pregnant students

up for vote on the listing of action items

Live reporting - Discussion only items

3. Discussion Only Items
a. 2010-2011 School Calendar Options - Maureen Sabolinski
discussion on the two options, proposing to have a professional day on Nov 2 which will be a major election day for the safety of the students and voters at the high school

Recommendation to start school before Labor Day.

Q - is this the first year we have had the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off?
A - No, we have had it for a number of years. It had been a low attendance day and this helps those who would travel.

b. H1N1 – Sally Winslow
First clinic Thursday, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Clinic to be manned by an all volunteer staff
Other dates are being evaluated as additional vaccine arrives. At the additional clinics we'll vaccinate other target groups and then the students by grade level.

via the attendance records, the virus seems to be declining throughout the district.

DPH will be onsite monitoring and coming to assist. Feedback thus far is that we have been far ahead of others in our organizational efforts.

c. Healthy Futures Summit – Maureen Sabolinski, Roberta Trahan
Mark Fenton has a show on PBS, did a bus tour of the communities before hand to explore the recreation opportunities, to provide some feedback on how to make Franklin more walkable.

Drafted an action plan. It was an incredible day, very engaging. Started implementing some of the plan, initiating changes to our food lunches at schools.

This is not just a school problem It will require a partnership to resolve.
What we are doing is better than implementing BMI.

There are some grants they we have applied for in conjunction with the YMCA, $120,000 for MASS in Motion. Metrowest Hospital grant was also just received just before the summit.

Live reporting - Metrowest Health Update

b. Metrowest Health Update – Michele Kingsland-Smith

The survey is optional, parents/students can opt out of participation

tobacco use is declining
bullying is increasing

drinking has declined but the stats are still fairly high

experimentation with drugs does begin at the middle school

The Community Health Council is meeting every other month to address issues from this report. 

Dean College has been helpful to charter the first "teen angels" in New England for our middle school students. More info on this national program can be found here.

Information on Rachel's Challenge can be found here.

Q - How many students actually took the survey?
A - About 80-90%, I don't have the exact numbers but the response rate is really high.

Q - Have there been discussion about the validity of the data?
A - The fact that the data is consistent with the regional, national results leads one to believe that the numbers are good. There is also work on the survey design to ensure that the questions are worded such to ensure good results.

Cafasso - There is no consequence for somethings that are said in Facebook. It may not be done in school, it is likely after school. The parents may not be away of it.

Kingsland-Smith - parents are not aware of what their kids are involved in, and I mean that in the kindest way. 

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the presentation.

Live reporting - Arts Academy Q&A

The video that was shown during the presentation:

Franklin, MA - Franklin Arts Academy from Steve Sherlock on Vimeo.

Q - How will you handle the grading?
A - They will met the regular course program. We are arranging to visit the Boston Arts Academy tomorrow to further explore some of the details behind that.

Q - Is it positioned for students who want arts as a career or for those students who struggle with the traditional curriculum?
A - Both.

Q - Where are others doing this?
A - There are many others, this is not a new concept. The Boston Arts Academy is the main one. There are others. Tolman High School in Pawtuclet, RI.

C - Mullen, we have talked about creating communities at FHS and it is continuing to grow so this is a great step. I am excited to see how this plays out. It is really impressive that this is teacher driven.

Caple - the team is very good, it is not just lip service, the real work is being done by the team and others whom we need from time to time.

Roy - Thank you for having the opportunity to work with you. I am delighted to be able to sit at the table and see the energy around the room where folks are trying to improve the education for our students. In the Globe, there was an article yesterday about a surgeon who is exploring using music in the operating room and it is improving his performance. Recalls Daniel Pinks book: A Whole New Mind.

Story of Rosanne Walsh suggesting to read this book 3-4 years ago when budget cuts were being talked of. Rosanne is on the committee now.

Sabolinski - Thanks to the team, this has not been without controversy and they have been very courageous doing this.

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to the website to view the video

Live reporting - Franklin Arts Academy

2. Guests/Presentations

a. Fine Arts Academy – Mike Caple, Marushka Waters

_ the video will be added to this posting later_

"budget neutral repackaging of the curriculum"

Proposal to start in Fall of 2010 with the Junior Class at that time

  • Creative Literacy
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics and Science

Example of math and science combination: to study the parabola of the basketball free throw and explain it with a video production.

Example of humanities: read "The Sun Also Rises", study the art cubism and Picasso that was being done at that time, the post WWI period.

Students would apply for this program.

coordinated with guidance counselor and special education liaison, teacher to be assigned as a mentor to the student to accompany them through the program.

Live reporting - School Committee Meeting

Attending: Douglas, Cafasso, Rohrbach, Mullen, Roy, Trahan, Glynn

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments - none

Review of Agenda - add some policies for first reading to Discussion Only Items
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the Open and Executive Sessions of the November 17, 2009 School Committee Meeting. motion to approve - passed 7-0
Payment of Bills Mr. Glynn motion to approve bills - passed 7-0
Payroll Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives

  • Winter Sports season underway
  • peer mediation program starting
  • "Light up a Life" fund raising effort underway
  • Winter Music concert Weds 12/9 at 7:00 PM

Kudos to the football team for a great season
Jeff may suggest to the Town Council to schedule election for a sports night. 7,000 attended the game for 2 hours when the election over fourteen hours drew only a little more than 3,000

1. Budget to Actual
2. NEASC Letters to and from FHS

East of Shirley concert - Dec 12

For those listeners of the Franklin Matter's podcast, the last several have featured the music of the group East of Shirley. They are playing at the Harvest Cafe in Hudson, MA this Saturday evening.

The Facebook event page can be found here.

East of Shirley's website is here

Note: By way of disclosure, Michael Clark, the lead singer/song writer, have worked together at Fidelity Investments and are good friends. I feature their music simply because it is good music.


The Franklin Health Department will be holding the first in a series of H1N1 flu clinics for Franklin residents on Thursday December 10, 2009 from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at the Franklin High School.

Due to limited supply of vaccine, the first round of vaccine administrations will be provided to the following persons on a first come first served basis, consistent with Massachusetts Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines for vaccine administration:

    * Parents and care-givers of infants less than 6 months. 
    * Children aged 6 months up to and including Kindergarten.

Please be advised, the Health Department has received nearly 70% of our vaccine allocation in the nasal spray form.  Because this is a live attenuated vaccine, this formulation is only for healthy individuals aged 2 to 49 years of age.  

All individuals to be vaccinated in the 2-49 age groups without a contra-indicated medical history will be administered the nasal spray. 

Due to limited supply of the injected form of the vaccine, it will be reserved for children less than 2 years of age and others as medically indicated.

All individuals to be vaccinated are to present a completed consent form.  No vaccine will be administered without a completed and signed consent form.  All school-aged children will receive a consent form from the School Department in the coming days.  A downloadable consent form is available on the Health Department website as well.

All residents will be asked to produce a valid driver’s license or other identification at the time of registration.  Please enter the clinic via the High School Field House entrance.

The Franklin Health Department will continue to hold additional H1N1 flu clinics in the coming weeks until all the high priority groups have been vaccinated.  Once the priority groups are vaccinated, vaccine will be available for all residents until our supply has been exhausted.

We ask all residents to please be patient and to anticipate some waiting, as we institute our large-scale public vaccination plan.

David E. McKearney, R.S.
Public Health Director
Franklin Health Department

Franklin Board of Health

Bruce Hunchard, Chair
Paul Cheli
Donald Ranieri, JR.
This was posted on the Franklin Town site. You can download the consent form from here.

In the News - Bellingham split tax

 Note that the split tax rate in Bellingham was changed to increase the residential rate and help businesses. Franklin doesn't need to do this, everyone already pays the same tax rate.
Selectmen voted unanimously last night to give businesses a slight break on property taxes.

The board raised the tax burden on homeowners from 89 percent to 90 percent as it tries to find a balance between the homeowners and businesses.

With the shift, taxes for homeowners will be set at $11.92 per $1,000 assessed value, up from last year's $10.44. For the "average" Bellingham homeowner, with a home valued at $275,984, this will yield a $105 yearly tax increase, selectmen said.
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

In the News - update on social media suspensions

In the post over the weekend, when I advocated for establishing a social media awareness, I referenced an article from Mendon where students were being investigated for creating a Facebook page. The Facebook page sought violence against one of their middle school assistant principals.

The developing story line is update in the Milford Daily News today:

Five Mendon students suspended due to threatening Facebook page

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Monday, December 7, 2009

School Committee Meeting - 12/08/09 - Agenda

1. Routine Business

Citizen’s Comments
Review of Agenda
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the Open and Executive Sessions of the November 17, 2009 School Committee Meeting.
Payment of Bills Mr. Glynn
Payroll Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives
1. Budget to Actual
2. NEASC Letters to and from FHS

2. Guests/Presentations

a. Fine Arts Academy – Mike Caple
b. Metrowest Health Update – Michele Kingsland-Smith

3. Discussion Only Items
a. 2010-2011 School Calendar Options - Maureen Sabolinski
b. H1N1 – Sally Winslow
c. Healthy Futures Summit – Maureen Sabolinski, Roberta Trahan

4. Action Items
a. I recommend adoption of Option One of the 2010-2011 School Calendar.
b. I recommend approval of Remington Middle School’s request to declare the listed books as surplus.
c. I recommend acceptance of two checks ($25.00 & $53.30) totaling $78.30 from Adirondack Vending for the RMS for supplies.
d. I recommend acceptance of a check for $300.00 from Fidelity for the Annie Sullivan Middle School for in-house enrichment, supplies and supplemental curriculum materials.
e. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1050.00 from ASMS PCC for buses for field trips.

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report
b. Grant Update
c. FHS Facilities
d. Enrollment Comparison

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
School Committee Liaison Reports

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

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations

8. Adjourn

message from the Franklin Citizens Rail Committee

Three important things to do on Tuesday December 8, 2009:

1.       Vote

2.       Log on to the Franklin Rail Trail web site and sign up for membership to support our organization.

3.       Attend the next meeting of the Franklin Citizens Rail Trail Committee. It will be held Tuesday evening, December 8th at 7:30 PM, in the Odd Fellows Lodge on W. Central Street in Franklin. Agenda attached. 

In the Globe - gift policy

School superintendents across the region are penning letters this holiday season to parents, cautioning them against going overboard with gift-giving to teachers, principals, and other staff members.

That means no pricey gift certificates to spas or fancy restaurants, no hard-to-get tickets to the theater or sporting events, no fine wine, or anything else valued at more than $50.

While acknowledging that parents’ gift-giving gestures may be well-intentioned, the superintendents say that the state’s new ethics law forbids public servants, including teachers on public payrolls, from receiving gifts with value in excess of $50. Violations are subject to civil penalties, the superintendents warn.
Read the full article in the Boston Globe here

In the News - Choo Choo shop,

The Choo Choo shop closed

End of the line for the Choo Choo Stop

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Invitation to Candlelight Vigil for Climate Action - Boston Dec 11th 6:00 PM

From the Franklin Area Climate Action Team comes this info:

Friends, we are running out of time. The United Nations climate change conference in December will be the turning point in the fight for a safe climate. But even before the conference, President Barack Obama and the leaders of some other large nations have announced that they aren't going to reach any kind of legally binding climate agreement in Copenhagen--declaring that they need more time, despite the five years of preparation they've already had.

That's sad and it's dangerous--the planet is running out of 'next years'. But it does give all of us more time to organize a movement to make them respect the science. The planet doesn’t negotiate. We must convince the governments of the world to change our uses of nature to meet earth’s requirements for the planet to keep on hosting us like it has been doing.
So it's time for the next big steps. The world needs your help. You will need this to succeed.

There's a global mobilization coming together for the weekend in the middle of the Copenhagen conference--Dec. 11-13. Our collective message: "The World Wants a Real Deal" -- people all over the planet are demanding a binding global climate agreement guided by the latest science and built upon principles of justice and equity.

The global coordinator is The Massachusetts Council of Churches, Massachusetts Climate Action Network and several other organizations are sponsoring the Boston vigil on December 11 as part of this global mobilization.

Here in Boston, we will assemble for a candlelight vigil in Cardinal Cushing Park, next to Senator John Kerry's office. Sen. Kerry is leading the US delegation to the climate convention in Copenhagen. We’ve assured him, we support him – to do the right, and difficult, and necessary things.

Our goal is to focus Sen. Kerry’s attention on the urgent need for a science-based international climate treaty and on climate legislation in the U.S. that gets us back below an atmospheric CO2 concentration of 350ppm, the upper limit a stable earth environment can tolerate.

We will stand in solemn solidarity with the citizens of those nations who already die at an increased rate of 300,000 a year in (primarily) African countries and island nations because of climate change, and with citizens of big parts of America’s southeast who already face severe new hazards because of climate change.

What: Candlelight Vigil -- The World Wants a Real Deal
When: December 11th, 6:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Where: Cardinal Cushing Park, at Cambridge and New Chardon Streets.
How: Closest T stop is Blue Line Bowdoin Station coming in (closes at 6:30 PM). Government Center Station is 2/10 mile away. If you can, please bring your own candle and an empty 2-liter soft drink bottle “candle holder”.

For additional information on the Franklin Area Climate Action Team, please visit their website here


For an alternative to the Boston event if you are looking for something a little closer to home, there is also a candlelight vigil planned in Attleboro on Friday Dec 11, 4:30-5:30 at the corner of County and S. Main Streets. 

Join Clever Commute

If you use the Franklin Line - Commuter Rail you know that service sometimes can be less than optimal.

You can help alert your fellow commuters to what you know about the service, when you know it and generally that will be in advance of the MBTA getting around to posting one of their own alerts.

Conductor Josh, the guy behind Clever Commute says:
(1) If you want to send a real-time commuter "alert" to your fellow passengers, then send a subject-only message to
(ALL of the info comes from YOU...the commuters)

(2) Did you know?
We have over 100 recent instances where YOU have provided information better and faster than any other source!
How do you join Clever Commute?
Visit their web site here and sign up to register your email address.

For more information on the service, visit the Clever Commute blog here

Senate Primary Tues Dec 8th

The primary election for US Senate to choose the replacement for the late Edward M Kennedy will be held Dec 8th. Polls will be open at the Franklin High School field house from 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

For information on the Democratic candidates:

What's the difference between the four Democrats?

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Brown says anti-incumbent sentiment a boost for him

from The Milford Daily News News RSS

Jack E. Robinson touts his moderate approach

from The Milford Daily News News RSS