In the spirit of all that is good around us, I hope you enjoy your holiday with family and friends!
As public employees, teachers fall under the state's ethics reform law that was created in July 2009. That law prohibits public workers from accepting gifts valued at more than $50, and requires written notification of any gift that might lend an appearance of impropriety, according to the Ethics Commission.
"Most of the gifts that the teachers receive wouldn't fall into the category where they need a disclosure form," said David Giannotti, an Ethics Commission spokesman. "They're baked goods, or they're homemade holiday cards, or something small like that. You have to look all the facts, and whether a reasonable person would think the teacher could be influenced by the gift. Nobody is going to conclude that a teacher is going to go into the tank for someone for less than $10."
Earlier this month, the Ethics Commission revised the regulations to allow teachers to receive a gift from the entire class up to $150, so long as the gift amounts of each student or parent remained anonymous.
Staff Sgt. Johnny Saldana, a Franklin resident whose 11- and 5-year-old sons attend the school, donated the flag while he was home on leave after spending much of the fall in Afghanistan serving with the Massachusetts Army National Guard.
"This school was founded on the principle that serving other people does matter," Head of School Kevin O'Malley told the students before the flag was raised. "Sgt. Saldana has given us a flag we can all be proud of."
The Massachusetts Bankers Association (MBA) Charitable Foundation has announced the recipients of its annual community grants for 2010. The 32 grants are a record number and total $128,500, also a record amount for the foundation, which now has provided gifts totaling $1.3 million over its 14-year history.
The foundation, supported by the nearly 200 member banks of the MBA throughout Massachusetts and New England, is distributing the grants over eight geographic regions in Massachusetts, giving awards to deserving social service agencies.
“There is terrific need all across the region,” said Norman S. Seppala, chairman of the MBA Charitable Foundation and president of Granite Savings Bank, Rockport, “and there are so many deserving social service agencies. We’re pleased to be able to help support the work of so many individuals and organizations in their time of need.”The Franklin Food Pantry is blessed to be amongst the grant recipients.
The signs, expected to cost $1,800, will be placed on Franklin streets where the soldiers were born or lived. The town's Rotary Club has pledged $1,000 toward the project and former Town Councilor Chris Feeley has offered to cover the remainder of the cost, said Town Councilor Tina Powderly.
"What this really allowed us to do is focus on the lives and legacy of these men rather than raising funds," Powderly said, adding she and lifelong Franklin resident Rose Turco have spent several months examining scrapbooks and newspaper clippings that reference the soldiers. "This community very, very much supports its veterans and that says a lot about the character of the residents."
Joan Hallett, 69, who has lived in Franklin for 47 years, said she'd like to see smoother roads, but realizes the town also needs to fund emergency services and schools.
"There's not much you can do if you don't have the money," she said.