Saturday, May 22, 2010

Franklin, MA: Police activity 1999 - 2009

The activity numbers for the Franklin Police Dept are quite compelling. Growth in the Franklin population and commensurate growth in the activities over the last ten years all without an increase in a single officer!

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Get out and vote on June 8th. Take at least a couple of neighbors with you to Franklin High School when you do go.

Franklin, MA

Now Is the Time to Embrace Your Future

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Public Health by Julia Hurley on 5/20/10

Sec Elder Affairs

Posted by: Secretary of Elder Affairs Ann L. Hartstein

Many of us grew up with the conventional wisdom that we need to think about the future and are familiar with the Aesop's Fable about the ant and the grasshopper.  As the fable goes, the industrious ant spent the summer carefully storing provisions for winter, while the more carefree grasshopper ignored the bounty of the peak growing season, and chose to spend the summer idling instead.  When winter came, the ant was dining on corn he had stored, while the grasshopper paid the price for not thinking ahead.  Aesop got it right:  planning and saving early in life when you have the resources will give you better options later on.

If you are in your prime earning years, trying to save for your children's college education while meeting current household expenses may mean delaying long-range planning.  You may not even be thinking about long-range planning.  If so,  "Embrace Your Future," an, innovative long-term care initiative from the Patrick-Murray Administration encourages earlier planning for long-term care supports that may help in later life.  Massachusetts is one of 25 states promoting "Embrace Your Future," a national initiative dedicated to helping individuals 45 and over to plan for their futures. As part of this initiative, the Office of Elder Affairs has sent to 400,000 homes a free 44-page guide for consumers that offer long-term care planning information tailored specifically to Massachusetts residents.

Most of us, whether we are seniors or have parents and relatives who are seniors, know how stressful it is to try to provide the at-home assistance that may be required later in life.  Since 80 percent of all seniors live with one or more chronic disease and 70 percent require assistance and support, it's easy to see that individuals needing assistance often rely on help from others in order to stay in their homes, rather than move to a nursing or retirement facility.  Unfortunately, family members and friends aren't always available or able to provide that help.  And, for the most part, Medicare and Medicaid don't pay for these services until you have "spent down" your assets.  In fact, in the spirited national debate about health care reform, both proponents and opponents predicted shortfalls in both accounts as well as in Social Security. 

Both local and national media outlets report that in the current economic situation, savings accounts are dwindling, as are personal investments and pension funds.  Today's seniors are facing challenges that will be even more daunting for the rapidly growing ranks of aging baby boomers – people born between 1946 and 1964.  At the end of this decade, about a quarter of Massachusetts residents will be age 60 or over.

In addition to the "Embrace Your Future" guide, with Governor Patrick's support , the Office of Elder Affairs has been promoting "Embrace Your Future" throughout the Commonwealth on multiple platforms, including the cable access program, "Senior Scene"; at regional shopping malls; at commuter train stations and in conjunction with businesses and libraries.  We're committed to reaching as many people as possible to let them know about the guide, and to start planning now.

The "Embrace Your Future" guide includes planning strategies for long-term care health insurance and other options, as well as planning resources available to Massachusetts residents, and a planning checklist.  The guide explains what Medicare and Medicaid do and do not pay for—and community-based support systems that are available to seniors.  There is also information for people who are already seniors looking for assistance with long term care planning.

Visit for more information on the "Embrace Your Future" campaign and tips on long-term planning.

Things you can do from here:

Friday, May 21, 2010

So, What Changed???

This is from Bill Glynn, member of the Franklin School Committee:


So, What Changed???

This is a question I am frequently asked in reference to why so many school districts face financial difficulties year after year. A friend of mine from High School recently asked me what is so different now as compared to when we were in school because school financial troubles didn’t seem to be common when we were growing up. So, I spent the next 45 minutes telling her what I have learned about “how the system works and doesn’t work”. School budgets continue to be a problem because of ever-increasing costs. Decreased revenues, such as cuts to local aid (Chapter 70) and a shrinking commercial tax base can hurt too, but increased costs are a huge problem and these costs take many forms. In no specific order, some of the biggest cost issues are:

Labor Costs

Labor unions have significantly increased the compensation package for their members over the past two decades. There are a number of things that comprise the compensation package, including salary, health benefits, pension, etc. Regardless of what you may personally think about the current teacher compensation package, the fact is, compensation packages and their related costs increase at a rate that drives the need to ask for a Proposition 2 ½ override. Prior to Proposition 2 ½, a town could just raise taxes to cover its costs, but now towns are required to ask for an override so people are more aware of the situation.
We want to attract highly-qualified teachers. We want to treat them fairly and we want them to know that they are valued town employees. Franklin does a good job and our teachers are compensated fairly as compared to neighboring towns.

Special Education

All children deserve a quality education; however, not all children can be taught together in the same classroom using the same methodologies. Some children require special education and special education services and programs are expensive. Educating a single child with special needs can cost upwards of 10x the cost of educating a single child in a mainstream program. In addition, the ability to diagnose learning disabilities has also improved, which has increased the number of students that require special education services. It’s also possible that there are some societal and/or environmental factors at work that give rise to learning disabilities. Regardless of the underlying causes, the end result is a large (and increasing) group of special needs students and the cost to educate these students continues to rise.

One of the biggest problems towns face, at least in the short term, is that the special education costs are pushed down to the individual district and are paid out of each town’s education budget. In particular, the special education costs associated with educating students who must be sent out of their home district (because their needs are so specialized) steadily increase outside the control of any individual district. As an example, Franklin has been hit with a $1.3 million increase in special education costs for FY 2011, primarily due to out of district tuition rate increases. Since each town’s education budget is a zero-sum game, the lack of an override means that the students in the mainstream program, who account for approximately 80% of Franklin’s total student population, are unfairly subjected to a $1.3 million budget cut in order to pay for the increased costs in the special education programs.

Remember above when I stated, “All children deserve a quality education”? Well, the current model for special education funding has created a dichotomy between the special education programs and the mainstream program, whereby the special education programs tend to maintain their services at the expense of the mainstream program during times of increased costs and budget cuts. Any time you have multiple distinct groups and you take something away from one group to provide for another group, you undoubtedly have a systemic problem. The special education funding model is is a glaring example of a fundamentally flawed system. The special education laws were created (in part) because it was determined that (in the past) mainstream programs were receiving preferential treatment as compared to special education programs. Now the problem has been inverted and budget constraints are forcing school districts to systematically dismantle their mainstream programs in order to sustain the special education programs. The same state laws that were enacted to provide equity within the education system preclude a balanced approach of equitably distributing budget cuts across the mainstream and special education programs. Consequently, special education programs have basically become immune to budget cuts while mainstream programs are being decimated.
These ever-increasing special education costs have not gone unnoticed. Special education costs, which are highly dynamic in nature (due to changes in student needs and population), cannot be absorbed by individual school districts. At a minimum, the state needs to take direct responsibility for special education costs because the state is better able to absorb these increasing costs by pooling the risk and balancing the costs across hundreds of towns. Work is being done in this area, but as you might imagine, it is not a quick process.

State laws have changed

You may have heard the phrase “unfunded mandate”. This is a term used to refer to state laws imposed upon school districts that have a measurable cost to implement, but the state has not provided any increase in funds to cover the law’s implementation. As an example, Massachusetts recently passed anti-bullying legislation. This is a new law that mandates school districts to do many things, some of which involve training programs, which have an associated cost to implement and will increase each district’s costs. In addition, this new law comes at the same time that Massachusetts has cut the overall education budget and hence has cut each town’s education funding – so all towns have been hit with a double blow of increased costs coupled with decreased revenue.

Technology in the classroom

This topic alone could be an entire article, but suffice it to say that today’s students don’t learn in the same way that students learned a couple of decades ago and so they can’t be effectively taught using yesterday’s methodologies. Children are far more engaged in the learning process when they get their information from digital sources rather than from lectures and textbooks. That’s the way they like it, that’s how they’re growing up, and that’s what works. Therefore, today’s classroom must provide computer and internet access for each student, which requires a lot of computers, software, networking equipment, and increased electricity usage at a minimum. Whereas, yesterday’s classroom needed text books and a blackboard, today’s classroom needs text books, an interactive white board, computers and associated software, as well as fixed and/or wireless network access. So, the classroom has changed and costs have gone up. However, the world has changed and our children will be competing in a global economy and they need to be educated within a 21st century classroom in order to be prepared for college as well as the global workforce.

The aforementioned topics represent big problems and they are mostly beyond the control of local officials. However, there is hope. These problems are being discussed by cities and towns throughout Massachusetts. Here in Franklin, we’re working on some of these issues with our state legislators and other groups, but there is no quick fix. It’s very important that we all have a common understanding of the root cause of our biggest problems so that we can try to work through them together. While it’s tempting to point at specific issues and propose remedies, it’s critical that we all realize that Massachusetts state laws restrict what an individual town can and cannot do. This leaves us with two unpalatable options: pay more in local taxes to sustain our vital town services and education system or continue to dismantle the quality of life in our town and jeopardize our children’s future by voting down Proposition 2 ½ overrides based upon the unattainable desire to effect changes in places that are outside the control of individual towns.


You can respond to Bill directly, or comment here.

Franklin, MA

budget fat or waste? Find out May 24th

According to Google, the definition of "waste" is

Definitions of waste on the Web:
  • spend thoughtlessly; throw away; "He wasted his inheritance on his insincere friends"; "You squandered the opportunity to get and advanced degree"
  • use inefficiently or inappropriately; "waste heat"; "waste a joke on an unappreciative audience"
  • get rid of; "We waste the dirty water by channeling it into the sewer"
  • run off as waste; "The water wastes back into the ocean"
  • neutralize: get rid of (someone who may be a threat) by killing; "The mafia liquidated the informer"; "the double agent was neutralized"
  • consume: spend extravagantly; "waste not, want not"
  • any materials unused and rejected as worthless or unwanted; "they collect the waste once a week"; "much of the waste material is carried off in the sewers"
  • pine away: lose vigor, health, or flesh, as through grief; "After her husband died, she just pined away"
  • useless or profitless activity; using or expending or consuming thoughtlessly or carelessly; "if the effort brings no compensating gain it is a waste"; "mindless dissipation of natural resources"
  • cause to grow thin or weak; "The treatment emaciated him"
  • thriftlessness: the trait of wasting resources; "a life characterized by thriftlessness and waste"; "the wastefulness of missed opportunities"
  • lay waste to: cause extensive destruction or ruin utterly; "The enemy lay waste to the countryside after the invasion"
  • barren: an uninhabited wilderness that is worthless for cultivation; "the barrens of central Africa"; "the trackless wastes of the desert"
  • become physically weaker; "Political prisoners are wasting away in many prisons all over the world"
  • (law) reduction in the value of an estate caused by act or neglect

Definitions of fat on the Web:
  • having an (over)abundance of flesh; "he hadn't remembered how fat she was"
  • having a relatively large diameter; "a fat rope"
  • a soft greasy substance occurring in organic tissue and consisting of a mixture of lipids (mostly triglycerides); "pizza has too much fat"
  • fatty: containing or composed of fat; "fatty food"; "fat tissue"
  • adipose tissue: a kind of body tissue containing stored fat that serves as a source of energy; it also cushions and insulates vital organs; "fatty tissue protected them from the severe cold"
  • lucrative; "a juicy contract"; "a nice fat job"
  • fatten: make fat or plump; "We will plump out that poor starving child"
  • fatness: excess bodily weight; "she disliked fatness in herself as well as in others"
  • marked by great fruitfulness; "fertile farmland"; "a fat land"; "a productive vineyard"; "rich soil"

Some on the Town Council got into a discussion on the definitions on Wednesday night with a resolution that may be revealed this Monday night, May 24th.

Franklin, MA

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Downtown Improvement Project - presentation

The presentation used during the workshop for the Downtown Improvement Project on Wednesday May 12th can be viewed here:

The video recording of the workshop can be viewed here:

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

Franklin, MA

HMEA 5K Race/Walk - May 23rd

What happens on May 23rd?

Who is HMEA?

Why you should help?

These questions and more can be answered in this brief video.

If you'd like to register to run or walk, you can go to
If you'd like to contribute as part of my fund raising page, there is a widget on this page or here:

I hope to see you on May 23rd!

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

In the News - July 4th, fund raising, PMC Kids, Girls Scouts

Franklin July Fourth organizers want break on fees

PMC Franklin Kids Ride is June 13

Franklin, MA

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

quality reporting takes time - take 2

A head's up that I won't be live reporting from the Town Council meeting this evening. The New England Revolution have a compressed schedule during May due to the FIFA World Cup in June and a friendly against the Portuguese league champions SL Benfica as they play on Wed and Sat for the whole month. Ouch, their legs will be tired. That also means I'll miss the live reporting today. 

I'll resort to catching the meeting via the on demand video as soon as I can and reporting on what matters.

If you do attend or watch the cable broadcast and want to send along your comments, please feel free to do so.

There is a whole lot happening here in Franklin, your views are welcomed!

Franklin, MA

Reminder: voter registration for June 8th, deadline today at 8:00 PM

If you have not registered to vote in the special election on June 8th, the deadline to do so is when the Town Clerk's office closes at 8:00 PM on Wednesday evening, May 19th.

If you would like or need an absentee ballot for the June 8th election, they are available at the Town Clerk's office.

Franklin, MA

Conservation Commission - Big Y

Looking to have the hearing closed so the Planning Board can make their final decision
The only permit required remains the Zoning Board of Appeals decision on the impervious coverage. The Planning Board has continued their hearing to June 7th to allow the ZBA to make their decision and all the Planning Board to have the 'final' say.

Recommendation to add a condition to maintain the chain link fence to enforce the appearance of the fence and to ensure that the snow doesn't get into the wetlands area.

Motion to close hearing, passed 5-0-0

The video for this segment of the Conservation Commission meeting on May 13th can be viewed on the Franklin website

Franklin, MA

What's in? What's out? - either way, vote June 8th!

What’s in and what’s out?
Override Fails
Override Passes
Loss of: 7 elementary teachers 
and 8 middle school teachers
Staffing remains at FY10 levels
Club and activity fees at middle and high school will double to $50. Athletic fees will increase and move to a tiered system, resulting in fees ranging from $175 to $450 (up from current $125 fee)
No fee increases
Class sizes
Significant increases in class sizes in grades K‐8 and a shortened school day at elementary schools
No changes
Elimination of 3 buses
No change in service
Loss of three police dispatchers; potential implementation of recorded service for emergency call system; less coverage of parking meters and parking enforcement downtown
No change in service
Loss of one firefighter; uncertainty on availability of 2nd ambulance; revenue loss from ambulance fees
No change in service
Needed roadway repairs delayed indefinitely; 3 less employees; slower response times
Road repairs begin
Loss of one half‐time employee; reduction in book budget of over $60,000.
No changes

For more information on the special election June 8th to approve an increase of $3 Million to maintain services for Franklin, visit this page:

Franklin, MA

"It's a fantastic opportunity for us"

"It's been a great success, especially since the Field House program (took off) just as the economy began to sink," Cafasso said. "The business community's support for high school athletics is really inspiring. We really appreciate it."
The School Committee came up with a list of guidelines that prohibits alcohol and drug content, the use of vulgar or sexually explicit language and anything harassing or prejudicial.
Gym and field ads cost the vendor $480 for a one-year commitment, which goes directly into the athletics account, Sidwell said.
"This is just one of the innovative ways the School Committee has tried to avoid draconian cuts in important non-academic programs," Cafasso said. "This doesn't cost the taxpayers a dime, but it's priceless to athletics at Franklin High."

Franklin to expand advertising to outdoor ball field

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin, MA

Conservation Commission - Price Chopper

The applicant team presented to the Conservation Commission on May 13th for the site proposal at 485 East Central St.

You can view the video on the Franklin website here

The property is 9.6 acres, zoned Commercial 2

Review of water flow on the property, on both sides of the access road

Spaces for 307 vehicles in the parking lot for the proposed supermarket, approx. 61,000 sq ft. Current zoning requires this number of parking spots, the tenant also agrees that this amount would be consistent with the use of the property as proposed. (Note: this differs from the proposal for the Big Y down the road, where they are proposing less parking than zoning required with substantial information to support the lesser number.)

Prior development plans included the plans coming right up to RT 140 (East Central St), current plans would be recessed from RT 140.

Recommend a site walk before the hearing is closed to better understand the proposal and the property itself

Proposal includes a "fully actuated lighting system at the intersection" this would require approval from MassHighway

Applicant will be going for an LEED certification, hoping to achieve a "silver" classification.

Explanation of wetlands activities, mitigation, prior disturbances, attempted restoration of prior conditions.
Notice of Intent (NOI) cites specifics.

Site walk scheduled for 5/18/10 at 6:30 PM

Nick Alferi comments, calculation of permitting fee was short, dollar amount provided
Documents submitted require additional information
Plantings need to be specified and be on the "best practices guide"
Construction sequence was missing some statements
De-watering plan is required
Need to address "bubbling water"

A project description need to tell what the property is like and what it will look like, existing conditions were well explained but the construction details need to be expanded upon it.

The existing cliff is going to be moved back 40-50 feet.

The building would be put on the property on top of the existing rock, the parking lot would be at a level lower, and the existing access road would remain at a level still lower
The elevation of the north retaining wall would be about 50ft at its highest point
The access road would be expanded as it approached the intersection

Motion to continue public hearing May 27th (time TBD), passed 5-0

Franklin, MA

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Franklin, MA: Special election flyer

The flyer with pertinent information about the special election on June 8th can be viewed here:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at

Downtown Beautification Day - May 22

All residents are welcome to pull on their gardening gloves and bring their tools to help plant more than 1,200 plants during Franklin’s seventh annual Beautification Day on Saturday, May 22, from 9:00 a.m. to NoonThe event will take place rain or shine.

The Franklin Downtown Partnership, together with the Franklin Garden Club and Wadsworth Farm, is again organizing the plantings for the bridge and the islands downtown. Volunteers are asked to meet at 9:00 a.m. on the center island in downtown. High school students who need community service hours are welcome to participate.

“This is our seventh year beautifying the downtown and it’s become a passion for all involved,” says Eileen Mason, Beautification Day chairperson.  “We want to make a strong, positive impression on all those who visit Franklin in hopes that they may someday come back to shop, eat and relax in our wonderfully revitalized downtown community.

We also do this to soften and minimize the ‘concrete look’ in the center of town,” adds Mason.  “All this is accomplished solely through sponsorships, donations and 100 percent volunteer hours. We need everyone’s participation.”

The color scheme for this year’s plantings is pinks and blues, including Rose and Purple Wave Petunias, Blue Annabelle Lobelia, Persian Shield, Diamond Frost, and blue, white and pink Salvia.

According to Mason, the downtown beautification effort follows a year-long cycle. This spring’s plants were chosen last November, and then planted in the Wadsworth Farm greenhouses in March in order to be ready for planting this May. In October, beautification volunteers remove the plants and prepare for winter, placing evergreen decorations in containers the Sunday before Thanksgiving.

“Although we plant in May, this is a year-round project. Sponsorships and donations are what keep this effort going,” says Mason.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Gold and platinum-level sponsors will have their names prominently displayed on a sign in the center island for the 2010 season. Silver sponsors will have their name displayed on a group sign in the center island for the remainder of the year.

Interested sponsors and volunteers should contact Eileen Mason at 508-330-4234 for more details. 

All contributions to the Franklin Downtown Partnership, a non-profit organization, are tax deductible. Please make checks payable to:  Franklin Downtown Partnership, P.O. Box 413FranklinMA02038.  For more information about the Partnership and becoming a member, contact Executive Director Lisa Piana at (774) 571-3109 or

Franklin, MA

In the News - Price Chopper, murder mystery, beautification day, support group

Price Chopper eyes Franklin site

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin Federated Church presents Murder Mystery Dinner Theater

Franklin, MA