Saturday, February 12, 2011

"They're like a family to me"

Davis Thayer Principal Shirley Babcock and Keller Principal Mary Jane Wiles are both retiring. Horace Mann's Michael Levine was brought in for one year as an interim principal while the district searched for a replacement for Anne Bergen, who retired last year. 
The district recently named Remington Middle School Assistant Principal Shawn Fortin as the new Horace Mann principal and they plan to begin searches for two new elementary principals after February vacation, Assistant Superintendent Sally Winslow said. 
"Shawn rose to the top throughout the (interview) process," Winslow said, adding there were five candidates from outside the district in addition to Fortin. "Shawn really showed himself to be visionary in his approach. ... He's done a fabulous job (at Remington) looking at MCAS scores and working with the principal and teachers around instructional strategies so kids can perform better on those tests."

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

In addition to the principals in the article, Michele Kingsland-Smith, Director of Instructional Services also announced her retirement this week to be effective after the school year. She apparently will continue to work with the district in a part-time consultative capacity.

Franklin, MA

In the News - wrestling, Relay for Life

Franklin Elks host professional wrestling match

Relay for Life kick-off meeting planned in Franklin

Franklin, MA

"they have lost vital funding"

"De-accessioning" means these collections will no longer be available to the public and many plants within the collections will be destroyed. Included in this de-accession plan are the National Boxwood Collection and its associated Perennial Collections, along with the extensive Glenn Dale Hillside of the Azalea Collections. This will be a huge loss for the plant world, and for all the people who have traveled to and enjoyed these gardens. 
Arboreta and other public botanic gardens are true treasures for those of us who enjoy experiencing the beauty and value of trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials and other plants in a comfortable setting. Few private gardens can offer the range of horticulture they make available, often in association with other garden treasures (sculpture, architecture, art, etc.).
Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

In eastern Massachusetts, some of the best of these gardens include Tower Hill Botanic Garden ( in Boylston, the Arnold Arboretum ( in Jamaica Plain, and the Wellesley College Botanic Garden (

Franklin, MA

Friday, February 11, 2011

State implements new early childhood rating system

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Scott O'Connell/Daily News staff on 2/11/11

This month the state debuted a new rating system for early education programs with the aim of closing achievement gaps in Massachusetts.

Things you can do from here:

The  web site with additional information on the standards and rating system can be found here.

"You don't have to be a smoker to get lung cancer"

"I have no doubt in my mind the people who will find a cure for cancer are the people at Dana-Faber," said Jamie Tighe, a Franklin resident who grew up in Framingham and is running the Boston Marathon in April in Andy's honor. 
His brother, Tim, and Tighe's brother were best friends, so "Andy was always a presence in my life," Tighe said. "He's always been like a brother." 
So, even though "I was definitely not a runner" until recently, "when he was diagnosed, it was immediate." She decided to do the 26-mile race. 
"It was always he and I. He always said, 'I'll see you at the finish line.' One of the hardest things I had to do was to change my Dana-Farber website" to reflect she's now running in his memory.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Those who would like information about supporting Tighe's Dana-Farber fundraising can go to and enter her name in the "Support a Runner" tab.

Franklin, MA

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Liberty Bell missing from Franklin museum

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via The Milford Daily News News RSS by Brian Benson/Daily News staff on 2/10/11

The Historical Commission is asking for the public's help locating a Liberty Bell that is missing from outside the Historical Museum sometime this week.

Things you can do from here:

This picture was taken on a warmer day.

"So many people are waiting"

On Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon, Buccella is holding a bone marrow drive, and Flannery will distribute information on how to become an organ and tissue donor. The event will be held at the Franklin YMCA at 45 Forge Hill Road in Franklin. 
All that is required to become a potential registered bone marrow donor is a simple cheek swab that determines tissue type, Buccella said. This can be done at a local drive or go online at and send for a kit to do it yourself. 
Registering to become an organ donor is just as simple and can be done when renewing a driver's license, Flannery said, or registering at the New England Organ Bank website at 
The two also plan to distribute literature at various Registry of Motor Vehicle branches. They stress the point isn't to find donors for themselves and those they love - it is to emphasize the need and ease.

Read the full article on the organ donor information event in the Milford Daily News

Franklin, MA

In the News - Senior Center

Franklin Senior Center plans trips

Franklin, MA

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Live reporting - Long Range Financial Planning Committee

Present: Doug Hardesty, Deb Bartlett, Orrin Bean, John Hogan, Ken Harvey, Craig DiMarzio, Graydon Smith, Tina Powderly (Town Council), Jeff Nutting (ex officio) Scott Mason (ex officio) , Sue Rohrbach (School Committee)
Absent:  none

Welcome to Sue Rohrbach, representing the School Committee.

Motion to approve minutes of Jan 5th meeting, passed unanimously

Discussion on committee assignments
Individuals will take the lead on a number of categories (to be added later)

1 - Capital expenditures and debt service - John Hogan
2 - Benchmarking and pensions - Graydon Smith
3 - Salary and benefits (excluding pensions) - Orrin Bean
4 - National trends in municipal finance (includes regionalization) - Craig DiMarzio
5 - Schools - Deb Bartlett
6 - Town revenue, public safety, and other - Ken Harvey
7 - Committee communications and deliverables - Doug Hardesty
(updated 2/13/11)

These individuals would also have the lead for those specific pages in the reports and other deliverables produced by the committee

Obligation to pay retired employee pensions, according to the actuarial analysis the fund is not fully covered. It needs to be fully funded by 2030. There is an annual assessment provided by Norfolk County every year. The fallacy of the pension in MA as elsewhere is they are usually based upon an average annual return of about 8%. This return was not achieved recently nor is likely to be anytime soon, hence the under-funding problem is getting worse. The Town has little say in the matter, it is set in State law dating back to 1937.

Discussions around the Capitol are addressing abuses and will get to the funding issue. The funding issue was created by not funding the pension from 1937 to 1989 during which the pension was "pay as you go". The defined benefit plan is controlled at the State level.

Work ten years to get vested and entitled to a pension. Also get access to full benefits for health insurance. Franklin took on the responsibility for paying for the retiree health benefits about 40-50 years ago. Everybody (retiree) is all in, everybody has to be treated the same. Once the retiree get to 65, they pay and get Medicare, hence come off the Franklin plan (we pay a supplemental benefit). Some employees can hit the rule of 90, that is a combination of age and years of service if equal to 90 maxes their benefits. So if they max and retire in their 50's, they could be collecting from the Town for several years before they reach 65 (when they switch to Medicare). It is a long and complicated issue here in MA. The ability of cities and towns to control the plan design has been a top priority for MA civic leaders for years.

Nutting: You can't balance the problems of the entire health system upon a few employees.

Powderly: The Budget Subcommittee of the Town Council would like this group to look into:

  1. What can we do to manage the growth of the liability for retiree health benefits going forward?
  2. How do we start funding the liability that we have?

The current liability is about $40M. It would take about $2M per year to sufficiently fund it with a trust fund. If we did put the $2M there, that happens to be the amount of free cash which would mean we wouldn't have a capital budget (as it is currently funded from 'free cash').

The average statewide pension is $27,000. We are about that. Not everyone stays for 30 years.

We are spending about 3-4M for the pension funding until about 2030 and then that number would start declining.

For the non-union environment, a management decision is always is the position is full time or part time. If we can get part time, i.e. less than 20 hours, they get salary and no benefits (paid holidays, health care, etc.)

Franklin did move the retired teachers from the State plan to a Franklin-managed plan and saved about $400,000 per year to do so.

Hat's off to all the Franklin employees for being as cooperative as they have been on the health plan design the last several years. They have increased co-pays and helped to save the town big time. Franklin pays 68% and the employees pay 32%, this is already below the State average. Most are still around 80, some are still at 90.

Picking up to review the   report of the prior committee from last year (PDF)

Discussion diverges when we reach page 15. The State averages aren't an appropriate comparison and probably should be re-looked at when this slide is revised.

Discussion on the use of the 3.5% debt service within the operational budget. 

Request for a discussion on how to bring some of these state level systemic issues to the table, who do we talk to, how do we get the state level changes started?

Franklin, MA

"Willy Wonka Jr." comes to Franklin

The Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School Department of Fine and Performing Arts Proudly Presents

Willy Wonka Jr.
February 11 and 12, 2011 @ 7:00pm
Horace Mann Middle School, Franklin, MA

$15/adult and $12/child

Looking for something to do on Friday or Saturday night!
Come watch a fun production of Willy Wonka!
Great music, lots of laughs, it's sure to be a great night!

Franklin, MA

Best Buddies Spinning Fundraiser

Team Fitness Fanklin wil host its third annual Best Buddies Spinning Fundraiser, Saturday, February 12, 2011 from 8:00a.m. to 11:00a.m.

The Spin-A-Thon is a three hour indoor cycling event to raise funds to support the Best Buddies program including the three chapters already in place at Franklin High School, Annie Sullivan Middle School Franklin, and Horace Mann Middle School Franklin. Best Buddies is a charitable organization dedicated to enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment.

Riders may register as an individual and spin for three hours, or split time on a bike with other participants. There are fundraising commitments ($150 for each hour or $300 for three hours) each participant should strive to reach. Team Fitness will provide water, smoothies, fruit, and support to all riders. There will be numerous raffle prizes, t-shirts, and many surprises throughout the day. Representatives from Best Buddies will be on board to help educate, inform, coach, and cheer on the riders. Come to spin, donate, or take part in our raffle! Participation is open to the public. Raffle tickets are currently available at Team Fitness Franklin. Please come and support this effort.

Team Fitness Franklin is located at 100 Franklin Village Drive, Franklin Village Mall. Register by calling Team Fitness at 508-541-8330. Questions may be directed to owner Bob Flynn @

Franklin, MA

Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) delivers big bucks

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Commonwealth Conversations: Revenue by Robert Bliss on 2/8/11

The federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) delivers up to $5,666 in federal tax credit and $849.90 in state tax credit -- a combined $6,515.90 -- for eligible taxpayers.

Simply put, the EITC delivers big bucks to low- and moderate-income working families and individuals through a combined federal and state income tax credit.

In a statement issued Jan. 28, Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray said that "During these difficult economic times, it is even more important to inform residents about this tax benefit as well as the assistance available to acces the benefits." The Lt. Gov also has a video explainer on the credit at DOR's homepage at

It is estimated that 20 to 25 percent of eligible families failed to apply for the tax credit in tax year 2009. Depending on family income and size, individuals and their families may be eligible for thousands of dollars in tax refunds even if they owe no income tax.

Here are some examples of the EITC. An individual with a maximum federal adjusted gross income of $13,460 and no children is eligible for $457 in federal credit and $68.55 in state credit. An individual with adjusted gross income of $35,535 and one child is eligible for $3,050 in federal credit and another $457.50 in state credit. An individual with adjusted gross income of $45,352 and three children is eligible for a federal tax credit of $5,666 and a state credit of $849.50, the maximum credit.

For married couples filing jointly, the adjusted gross income thresholds are about $5,000 higher. Thus, a couple with one child and an adjusted gross income of $40,545 is eligible for $3,050 in federal credit and $457.40 in state credit, while a couple with three children and an adjusted gross income of $48,362 is eligible for the maximum credit.

To assist taxpayers in filing for the EITC, the Massachusetts EITC Coordinated Campaign provides a host of locations at which taxpayers may complete and file their tax return, at no cost. Just click on the link to find the site closest to you.

DOR's website maintains a complete listing of EITC information. So far this filing season, the Commonwealth has paid $39.6 million in EITC to eligible taxpayers.

Things you can do from here:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finance Committee meeting canceled

According to the Franklin web site the meeting scheduled for tonight at 7:00 PM has been canceled.

FM #85 - Week ending Feb 6, 2011

Let's spend less than 10 minutes and get caught up on what matters in Franklin, MA as the week ends Feb 6, 2011.

Time: 5 minutes, 56 seconds

MP3 File

Session Notes:

This internet radio show or podcast is number 85 in the series for Franklin Matters.

We'll start by looking back at the snowy week that was as it comes to a close on Sunday Feb 6th. School got out early Tues, was canceled Wed, and started late on Thu. All due to the weather.

School Committee canceled, so the budget hearing was postponed to their next meeting Feb 15th

Town Council managed a quorum to hold a short meeting on Weds; a couple of appointments were approved, the liquor license manager change for Maguro House was approved, and authorization to spend more than the budget for snow/ice was approved.

At the Council meeting Jeff Nutting provided several updates including a summary of the budget development status. As the entire meeting took only 17 minutes, I have included the link so you can catch the on demand video and view it directly

Library will hold a book sale, apparently the Friends and the Board of Directors are working out the issues that cropped up.

Recreation fee investigation postponed due to health issues with a key person
wasn't going to happen right away anyway, just wanted to get the research underway

Also on the library front, word out of Medway is that they are terminating the sharing agreement for the Library director with Franklin. This is going the wrong way on the regionalization front. This I think is a good case in point as to how hard regionalization is. It is not a silver bullet, it takes hard work to make it work. It does take two to tango. Medway apparently wants their own tune.

Looking to the week ahead:

Finance Committee scheduled to meet Tues Feb 8th
Long Range Financial Planning Committee scheduled to meet Wed Feb 9th

So we have had some snow melt in the last day or so, but we are still covered with plenty and there is more on the way. Be safe, be careful, shovel the fire hydrants in your neighborhood.


This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin. I can use your help. 

How can you help, you ask? 

If you have an interest in covering the Planning Board, Conservation Commission and or the Zoning Board of Appeals meetings in Franklin, please let me know.

And as always - 

  • If you like this, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like this, please tell me

Without this feedback loop, I can not improve this service.

Thank you for listening.


For additional information, please visit
If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana"  c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission

I hope you enjoy!

Franklin, MA

In the News - school roofs

Area officials keeping an eye on school roofs

Franklin, MA

Franklin Newcomers and Friends Club to meet Wednesday

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 2/7/11

The Franklin Newcomers and Friends Club has scheduled its February meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the 3 Restaurant, 461 West Central St., Franklin.

Things you can do from here:

Friends of Franklin Library meeting, Feb. 9

Sent to you by Steve Sherlock via Google Reader:

via Wicked Local Franklin News RSS by GateHouse Media, Inc. on 2/7/11

The Friends of the Franklin Library (FOFL) has rescheduled its monthly meeting to Wednesday, Feb. 9, 7 p.m., in the community room of the library, lower level.

Things you can do from here:

Monday, February 7, 2011

A study in snow

How much snow have we had?

Enough to show the layers or strata! Hopefully, it won't be around so long that archeologists will do some studies on the depth, type, timing, etc.

This sample of the snow layers was taken on Cottage St.

In the morning light, with the shadows on an unbroken surface, it is pretty!

This photo was taken along Milliken Ave.

Franklin, MA

"It's been a crazy winter"

... the same goes for Franklin, which has had four-and-a-half snow days this year. Superintendent Maureen Sabolinski said starting the school year earlier allows for more learning time. 
Of course, not having one full week of school in January has made it difficult for teachers to maintain momentum with their curriculum and get kids ready for Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests. 
"The staff has expressed concerns with the disruption to the instructional program," said Sabolinski. "It impacts teachers' plans, their curriculum, and preparation for MCAS." 
She said that while teachers may not be happy, students are most likely cheering every time the School Department calls their homes announcing school is canceled. 
"I think the kids enjoy it tremendously," said Sabolinski.
Read the full article on snow days in the Milford Daily News here

Franklin, MA

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Help for senior citizens struggling to pay their property taxes?

If Sudbury can do this, why not Franklin?

“Some people will pay a little more and another group will pay less, so the total amount we raise will be just like it was before,’’ he said. 
Tyler said the plan calls for increasing the tax burden on residential taxpayers by 0.5 percent, or about $50 a year for the average taxpayer. The additional money would be used to reduce the taxes of about 300 homeowners who pay more than 10 percent of their income on property taxes, Tyler said. He said if the town raises about $300,000 from the shift, each qualifying senior would get a break of about $1,000. 
“This is a really caring community in Sudbury, and it was a proposal people could really buy into,’’ Tyler said.

Read the full article in the Boston Globe West edition here

Franklin, MA

Are we born to run?

As a life long runner, a lover of cross country (where to be successful you need to run in a pack), Christopher McDougal's TED Talk strikes a resounding bell for me. Will I ditch my shoes and start running longer? I don't think so. Ditching shoes to run in an urban environment is too risky. Nevermind the kind of weather we are having, running wouldn't be practical at all.

You do need to walk before you run. And in this weather, if you don't want to venture outside as the sidewalks are not cleared enough, go to the High School. Tue-Wed-Thu evenings beginning about 5:30 (as I recall) there is an indoor walking club. You can walk the halls of the school in the relative comfort of the indoor space and get the healthy exercise your body craves.

As the weather improves, move the walk outside. Walk through your neighborhood, walk to downtown and back, explore side roads in Franklin. There are lots of good opportunities for walking.

When you can walk 4-5 miles comfortably, when you can walk and talk the whole way without breathing heavy, then, and only then, should you consider bringing your walk to a faster pace. After being comfortable at a faster pace for some time (perhaps several weeks), then you can consider taking your faster walking pace into a jog or easy running pace.

What kind of pace is that? Covering the 5 miles in close to an hour. If you can do the 5 miles in under an hour, you should be ready.

Should everyone run? Maybe not, but most everyone should be able to walk.

Franklin, MA

Leadership in Action: Dominic Orr

Three business leaders will continue the year-long series of presentations at Dean College’s “Leadership in Action” program in February and March.
The first speaker this month is Dominic Orr, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aruba Networks will speak on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, Campus Center Atrium, 4:00 pm.
Mr. Orr was named President and CEO of Aruba Networks in April 2006. Prior to that, Mr. Orr served as the company’s Chairman of the Board, and previously he was the president of Nortel Networks, Intelligent Internet Web Systems. He previously served as the president and chief executive of Alteon WebSystems which merged with Nortel Networks in October, 2000.
Mr. Orr has more than 20 years of experience in the computer systems and communication networking industry and has held senior positions at Bay Networks, Hewlett-Packard and Hughes Aircraft. Mr. Orr is a member of the Sciences Board of Visitors at UCLA. He holds a BS in physics from City University of New York and a MS and PhD from California Institute of Technology.
Two more speakers will be featured in this series: choreographer, dancer and Dean alum Jay T Jenkins, (stet), on February 22, and James A. Anderson, Jr., DPM, podiatrist on March 21.
These program are free of charge and open to the public. 
Please RSVP to or call 888-711-3326.

Franklin, MA

In the New - rollover

Three taken to hospital after rollover on I-495 near Franklin

Franklin, MA