Friday, July 22, 2011

Depot St construction

If you haven't been downtown to the train station, you might not have noticed that Depot St has been torn up. The municipal parking lot is also torn up. All as scheduled as part of the PWED project funded by a State grant.

Additional info on the two projects downtown can be found on the Franklin Downtown Partnership webpage here:

In the Globe: local meals tax

In case you missed it, the Boston Globe West section on Thursday ran an article on the local meal tax option. Franklin obtained 347,000 revenue from this during the past fiscal year. With continued growth in restaurants, this can be a continuing source of revenue. Not enough to solve our systemic problems, but substantial none the less.

Related post:
The State announced the totals for local meal tax revenues earlier in July

Thursday, July 21, 2011

"cyberbullying feels like something they can't get away from"

While the foundation sponsors surveys every two years among the region's middle and high schools, it had never before asked its consultant to look at overlap between categories - in this case students who reported mental health problems and those who identified themselves as bullying victims. 
The prompt, Donham said, is a lingering perception among some parents - and even a few teachers - that bullying is something students usually work their way through, more an obnoxious rite of childhood than a serious danger. 
There have also been questions about why the foundation is treating bullying as a health issue deserving grant money, and questions about whether bullying is a classroom issue when much of the harassment takes place off school grounds.
But the data show a clear picture of mental health harm likely to impede learning, harm that includes stress, symptoms of depression, self-injury, serious consideration of suicide - and even attempted suicide, among roughly 578 students.
"I think that's alarming," Donham said of the suicide numbers. "I think that warrants some looking at."

Read more:

Another report, another view, this time from the Boston Globe:

Sharply contrasting findings, from a Globe survey of the state’s 10 largest school systems, casts light on a lingering controversy over the Massachusetts law: What, if anything, should schools report about bullying among their students to authorities at the district or state level?
Read more at the Boston Globe.

"The state will cover 58 percent"

"It seems like an absolutely slam-dunk no-brainer," said Town Council Vice Chairman Stephen Whalen, of building a new high school instead of renovating the current structure. 
The town will make use of the state's model-school program, in which the building committee would pick one of four state-approved options for a school that's already been designed. Building a new school under the model-school program will cost the town roughly $40 million, only about $3 million to $4 million more than gutting and renovating the existing building. 
"The most telling endorsement we got was from the architect who's going to lose his job if we get accepted into the model-school program," said Chairman Scott Mason, who also serves on the building committee. "For him to stand up and say, basically, this is a no-brainer, says a lot."

Read more:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Franklin Farmers Market DOUBLES Food Stamp (SNAP) Dollars

Do you or someone you know receive Food Stamps (SNAP benefits)?

The Franklin Farmers Market new Produce Points program, will DOUBLE your Food Stamp (SNAP) dollars to increase access to fresh, local produce every Friday from 12 noon – 6 pm at the Town Common.

Thanks to a grant received from the MetroWest Community HealthCare Foundation, the Franklin Food Pantry and the Franklin Farmers Market are partnering to offer a new Produce Points Double your Dollars program to anyone who receives Food Stamps (SNAP benefits).

Visit the Produce Points table at the Franklin Farmers Market to convert SNAP dollars into Produce Points dollars. Double your Dollars allows Food Stamp customers to purchase twice as much fresh, local produce. For example, if a customer wishes to spend $5 in food stamps (SNAP), the Produce Points table will exchange the $5 EBT amount for $10 in Produce Points dollars to spend at the Franklin Farmers Market.

Under the Produce Points program, people who qualify for federal food stamps pay for their goods with their electronic benefits cards at the Produce Points table. They will then receive double their dollar amount in Produce Points dollars to use at the Franklin Farmers Market that day or in the future. Vendors are reimbursed for the Produce Points by the Franklin Food Pantry, which received grant funding for this program from the MetroWest Community HealthCare Foundation.
  1. The Franklin Farmers Market is only the second farmers market in Norfolk County to accept food stamps (SNAP benefits) (first was Dedham, over 22 miles away)
  2. Nearly twice as many MA residents rely on food stamps (SNAP benefits) today as did just 4 years ago (from 238,000 in January 2007 to 440,000 in January of 2011, an 85 percent spike)
We believe everyone has the right to access healthy, affordable food choices. The intent of the Produce Points Double your Dollars program is to provide SNAP beneficiaries with an incentive and access to healthy, local food choices. We also hope this program will make the Franklin Farmers Market more accessible to everyone in the community.

For more information, please contact Anne Marie Bellavance at 508-528-3115 or Tim Grebowski at 508-446-5806.

Budget Monitor: The Fiscal Year 2012 General Appropriations Act

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Budget Monitor: The Fiscal Year 2012 General Appropriations Act   

July 19, 2011 
The Governor and Legislature have now finished work on a budget for Fiscal Year 2012 that addresses a $1.9 billion gap primarily with a combination of cuts and reforms. The outlook for the future remains uncertain.  On the bright side, state tax revenue collections have been significantly exceeding projections.  (Data released today indicate that the FY 2011 tax revenue total was $723 million above the revised estimate).  But there are also reasons for concern:  the national economic recovery remains fragile; while the FY 2012 budget relies on less temporary revenue than the FY 2011 budget, it still relies on close to half a billion dollars of such revenue; and the budget assumes significant Medicaid savings that will be very challenging to achieve in full.   
The FY 2012 budget includes deep cuts in a number of areas including $24 million from the Judiciary (including probation) and over $60 million in public higher education.  The final version of the budget also includes $460 million less in local aid in FY 2012 than in the original FY 2009 budget, after accounting for inflation.
This Budget Monitor discusses in more detail several reform initiatives, the funding proposals in the state budget, and the temporary and ongoing revenue initiatives on which the budget depends. The Monitor also compares proposed funding levels for FY 2012 to the FY 2011 levels, and, in some cases to previous years' funding levels.
The report is available at or by clicking here.    

See MassBudget's Budget Browser to explore Massachusetts state budgets from Fiscal Year 2001 to the present, as well as budget proposals for the next fiscal year as they are offered by the Governor and the Legislature.    

MassBudget provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, with particular attention to the effects on low- and moderate-income people.

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Y World of Tots Nursery School

The YMCA has registration open for their World of Tots pre-school program. Details are contained within the document attached that you can scroll to read, or download to keep.

Y World of Tots Registration for Fall Preschool

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

after all: "the shooting ... was justified"

"It was deemed that they were public safety officials protecting the public," said state environmental police spokesman Reginald Zimmerman. "They were performing their necessary duties in defense of the public in what was perceived as a public threat." 
The hawks, an adult and a juvenile, were shot after one attacked Gege Dellorco, a resident who was walking near the school. Dellorco went to the hospital after the hawk scratched the back and side of her head, said Deputy Police Chief Stephan Semerjian. 
According to environmental police, two animal control officers went to the school. One of them was also attacked. 
"They made the best decision they could with the situation they had," Semerjian said, of the animal control officers, who Semerjian would not name. "My understanding was that they deemed it an emergency situation."

Read more:

This is a good follow up to the article on the incident that appeared last week

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Attention Franklin: Scam alert

A brief email from a new mother alerts us to a scam organization going door to door here in Franklin. The email is brief because the new mother was handling the baby and trying to type at the same time.

The short skinny on the scam:

A young person, waves a badge, has some information about you, claims to be associated with the School Dept and ultimately is selling some books. The two neighbors both had the same experience as had been written up extensively in the article here:

For additional information on the company behind the scam, a series of articles from the Salem (OR) News can be found here:

"Presenting a $95 million school will not be perceived well"

A new school is about $4 million more expensive to the town, but is expected to take a shorter time to finish - two years instead of four. Also, because the new school would be built beside the old school instead of within its existing footprint, students will not have to go to class in a building that is being reconstructed. 
"You can't put a price tag on the disruption issue," said Ed Cafasso, a School Building Committee and School Committee member. "It's not worth it." 
The option of building a new school became viable at the end of June, when the Massachusetts School Building Association indicated that it would invite Franklin into the model school program - and therefore reimburse more than half the cost. The state is expected to accept Franklin's decision on July 27 and the town could choose which model school plan to use by Labor Day. 
The field house cannot remain standing under the state model school program because it would need to be renovated and the cost of the repairs would be too expensive under the state requirements, officials said. The idea of saving the field house had been part of earlier discussions.

Read more:

What Franklin piloted, the others now get to use

The Franklin Line piloted the "Quiet Car" service which is now being rolled out to the remaining commuter rail lines. Having been a frequent rider (until recently), I recognize some of the folks in this video.

Have you ridden the quiet car? How quiet is it?

Thanks to the UniversalHub for the pointer to this video

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cooking cutaway

On the food front, here is a ten minute video from TED. Not exactly a cookbook you'll run out an buy but the photos and explanations of the science and physics of cooking are worth seeing.

Also on the food topic, Michelle is preparing lunches with Bento boxes

Construction progress

Around the neighborhood, the work progresses on the 3 unit building at the corner of Wachusett and Cottage streets. The site of the former Dugout.

Wachusett St: new construction

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lesson learned: bike shops don't open early

Saturday was a great day for a bike ride.

We got a later start than we wanted. We knew the tires needed to be filled before riding and I do have a bike pump, so it should have have been quick and easy to fill and go. What surprised me was D's new bike has some funky new tube connections. These connections would not fit my pump nor work with the gas station air pump. We would need to get to the bike shop before riding. As it was 8:30 AM when we discovered this, I anticipated that one of the shops would open at 9:00. No such luck, one opens at 10:00 and the other at 11:00.

We were at Crossing Cycle when the doors opened at 10:00. Bought the adapter for the connection, a new pump with the capability to do both connections (standard and new one), filled the tire and were off, finally!

We biked about a dozen miles along the Blackstone River Bike Path. And we'll be ready to get an early start even if the tires need some air next time!

"may send $65 million in local aid cuts back to towns and cities across the state"

Some towns, which didn't expect to have the money, don't have plans for where it would go. Others are welcoming it to plug late cuts, with their local public bodies, such as selectmen, likely to decide its fate. 
"Certainly the economy has affected state aid over the past several years," Ashland Town Manager John Petrin said. "We always look forward to additional funds." 
Franklin Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting easily came up with areas that need further funding, from balancing the budget to capital projects. 
"Obviously, if it happens, it's great news," he said. "In this economy, any money is good news." 
Many towns have already closed their budgets, but, like Nutting, came up with dozens of items for which the added funds could be used.

Read more: