Saturday, July 11, 2020

Talk Franklin: Phase III Reopening, Budget, Virtual Meeting Schedule and Upcoming Events!

FM #311 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 311 in the series.

This session of the radio show shares my "Talk Franklin" conversation with Town Administrator Jamie Hellen and Communications Specialist Anne Marie Tracey. We had our conversation via conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

We talk about: Re-opening continues

  • Diligence continues to be required (face coverings, hand washing, etc.)
  • Town staff and operations; DPW projects
  • Election info


  • Town hiring freeze, budget management internally

Virtual meetings

  • School comm 7/14
  • Senior coffee 7/16
  • Town council 7/22

Cultural events

  • THE BLACK BOX concerts parking lot
  • Party for the Pantry – 7/16
  • Don White/Circle of Friends fund raiser for the Pantry – 7/23
  • Concerts on the Common includes a movie night 7/24

The recording runs about 40 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Jamie and Anne Marie.


The COVID-19 case count for Franklin

DPW projects updated on Facebook page

The water rate discussion including why we currently have a ban and usually have ‘water conservation measures’


We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio ( or 102.9 on the Franklin area radio dial.

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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!

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Talk Franklin: Phase III Reopening, Budget, Virtual Meeting Schedule and Upcoming Events!
Talk Franklin: Phase III Reopening, Budget, Virtual Meeting Schedule and Upcoming Events!

State forest parking lot on Grove St is ready for use

"Thanks to @MassDCR for an incredible job building a new parking lot for expanded State Forest access! Thanks to @jeffroy for your advocacy on this important state project! It’s summer, Franklin, let’s go explore Franklin State Forest!!!"

State forest parking lot on Grove St is ready for use
State forest parking lot on Grove St is ready for use

Franklin radar picked up via Twitter

Boston Globe: "Mail-in voting isn’t ‘fraudulent,’ despite Trump’s claims. Here’s what experts say"

From the Boston Globe, articles of interest to Franklin:
"President Trump on Friday continued to ramp up his rhetoric attacking states for passing vote-by-mail laws amid the coronavirus pandemic, this time claiming that while absentee voting is acceptable, voting by mail is not. But the two are largely the same thing, according voting rights advocates and state officials. 
The tweets came as Trump’s polling numbers continue to sag, and just days after Massachusetts lawmakers approved a bill allowing all Massachusetts voters to cast ballots by mail this fall. 
In his tweets Friday, Trump said that absentee voting was fine, but vote-by-mail programs are rife with fraud. But absentee voting and mail-in voting are largely the same thing, according to a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Bill Galvin. 
“There is no substantive difference in the process between voting absentee and voting by mail,” Debra O’Malley told the Globe Friday. “Both systems require the voter to submit a signed application to their local election official, wait to receive their ballot in the mail, and return their marked ballot to their local election official by Election Day. Both types of ballots require a signature on the ballot envelope which is matched to the voter’s signature on file.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Get your vote by mail application at the Town Clerk's page

Additional election info can be found on the Secretary of the Commonwealth's page

New water treatment plant for Wells 3 & 6 under construction

"The new Water Treatment Plant and reconstruction of two wells to provide cleaner and better water to residents and businesses is coming along great! The steel shell is up. Project is currently on time and on budget! Thanks Franklin DPW and the entire staff for gettin’ it done!"
New water treatment plant for Wells 3 & 6 under construction
New water treatment plant for Wells 3 & 6 under construction

Franklin radar picked up via Twitter

Other DPW projects underway at this time are shared in this Facebook post:

For additional info on the overall water supply status, if you haven't listened to the Town Council discussion on water rates, this segment of the meeting is available and provides a bunch of info

St John's Episcopal Church - Outdoor Worship - now scheduled for July 19

St John's Episcopal Church to re-gather for Outdoor Worship Sunday, July 19
St John's Outdoor worship postponed till July 19
We need a little more time to pull together the details. Bring your chair and mask NEXT Sunday (7/19/20) at 10 AM

Bring your own chair and mask for worship on our front lawn.
See you Sunday (7/19/20) at 10 AM. We'll still be live streaming on Facebook, as well.

St John's Episcopal Church - Outdoor Service - July 19
St John's Episcopal Church - Outdoor Service - July 19

Senate Passes Bill to Expand Take-Out and Delivery Options in Restaurants

On Friday, July 10, 2020, the Massachusetts State Senate passed bipartisan legislation that gives restaurants more flexibility, and customers more choice, while the Commonwealth continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill, An Act to Expand Take-out/Delivery Options in Response to COVID-19, would allow restaurants to include mixed drinks with take-out and delivery orders. Restaurants were previously authorized by the legislature to sell beer and wine with take-out orders. The bill would authorize restaurants to serve mixed-drinks to-go until the Massachusetts' state of emergency in response to COVID-19, declared by the Governor on March 10, 2020 is lifted.

"The Senate has stood by our small business owners throughout this pandemic, and today's bill provides yet another tool to help the restaurant industry get back on their feet," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "While the work to support our small businesses impacted by COVID-19 continues, I am proud to see this measure advance today. I want to thank Senators Diana DiZoglio, Michael Rodrigues and Joe Boncore for their advocacy and collaboration on this issue."

"The Senate's passage of this bill provides critical relief to struggling restaurants as they work to recover and remain viable in the face of economic hardship," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D - Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "Restaurants have been among the hardest-hit industries during the COVID-10 pandemic, and I am glad - thanks to the leadership of the Senate President, and the advocacy of Senator DiZoglio and others - we are able to provide restaurants with this economic lifeline during this challenging time."

"Since the start of the COVID-19 emergency, I have heard from our local restaurant owners about the revenue that to-go mixed drinks could generate to help them stay afloat and survive the impacts of the shutdown," said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). "While many mom and pop establishments have been able to slowly reopen in recent weeks, they still face significant challenges in their efforts to retain employees and pay their bills. While the legislature does not have a say in the reopening plan during this continued state of emergency, we still have an obligation to use every legislative tool we have to help those that are struggling due to the pandemic. The passage of this bill will greatly help our job creators in the restaurant community, as well as their employees, many of whom have faced challenges with unemployment and uncertainty over whether their jobs will be there for them in the future. I am grateful to my colleagues in the legislature for their support and continued advocacy on the issue. I hope this bill will be signed into law by the Governor as soon as possible."  

"Restaurants and bars are woven into the cultural and economic fabric of our communities," said State Senator Joe Boncore (D-Winthrop). "Allowing for cocktail sales to go will certainly aid in the economic recovery of the unique local and small businesses that make up the restaurant industry in my district, and across the Commonwealth."

Under the bill, restaurants would still be required to verify that customers are 21 or older and mixed drinks must be sold in sealed containers. The legislation requires that mixed drinks be sold exclusively with food, limited to two mixed drinks per entrée, and not more than 64 ounces in total.

The bill is the latest in a series of far-reaching actions by the Senate meant to support small businesses during the COVID-19 public health crisis. The bill now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

In the News: "the Senate passed a redrafted version of to-go cocktail legislation"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Both branches of the state Legislature have now signed off on allowing Massachusetts restaurants to sell to-go cocktails. 
The Senate on Friday passed a bill that would allow restaurants to sell mixed drinks in sealed containers alongside takeout and delivery food orders, a measure some bar and restaurant owners have been advocating for as a way to attract customers during the COVID-19 crisis that has hurt the restaurant sector. 
Unlike the broader restaurant relief bill the House passed unanimously five weeks ago -- which also included a cap on third-party delivery fees and waived penalties and interest for late meals tax payments -- the Senate’s bill (S 2812) speaks only to the issue of takeout cocktails. 
The two branches would need to agree on an approach before they could send a bill to Baker, who said last month that he supported the House’s restaurant bill. The House was not in session on Friday and meets next on Monday."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

WGBH introduces "Internet Expert" on voting

#Election2020 is only 117 days away. And today, @wgbhnews launched Internet Expert, a fast, fun game show about America’s least trivial subject: our democracy. I’m very proud of this project . 
Take a look at Episode 1 here:

Franklin radar picked up via Twitter:

Friday, July 10, 2020

Franklin Residents: Finance Committee Vacancy

The Franklin Finance Committee is now accepting applications for a new member. The position is for a 3-year term.

Finance Committee meetings are typically held on the 1st Tuesday of every month. As a committee member, you will be involved in the finances and financial procedures of the Town of Franklin and make recommendations as a committee to the Town Council on all financial matters.

For more information on the Finance Committee visit:

To apply visit:

Note: I would add this position provides great insights into the entire operations of the Town of Franklin and could be considered a 'must' as preparation for any further elected role (especially Town Council or School Committee) that one might consider.

Franklin Residents: Finance Committee Vacancy
Franklin Residents: Finance Committee Vacancy

State Rep Jeff Roy: "We made a bipartisan appeal to the President"

State Rep Jeff Roy tweets:
"We made a bipartisan appeal to the President to reconsider and rescind the new rules barring international students from the US if their school goes online. The policy is punitive, threatens safety, and will negatively affect our economy and university system."
The letter appealing to the President:

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to respectfully request that you reconsider and rescind the new temporary final rules announced on Monday which prohibits international students from staying in the United States if they are enrolled in an American college or university that implements an online-only platform for instruction. We understand that the guidance also applies to an institution that moves to exclusively online mid-semester in response to rising COVID-19 cases

on campus, and to students who are living on campuses that are open, but offering classes online­ only to protect the health and safety of their faculty and campus community.

As you know, since March our colleges and universities have been in furious upheaval , navigating an unprecedented pandemic and formulating strategies to continue teaching students without putting them, faculty and staff at risk. Our institutions have sought to balance concerns for public health with their academic mission of teaching and scholarship. This work has been both difficult and costly, and the new rules will add more uncertainty and disruption. Moreover, the new rules leave international students with the choice of either transferring to another institution that provides in person or hybrid instruction , or to depart the country and risk not being able to return. Students who fail to comply with this guidance may face deportation.

We also note that the new rules were introduced without notice, without an opportunity for public comment, and put undo pressure on campuses to stay open when it is unsafe to do so. This comes at a time when the United States has been setting daily records for the number of new infections , with more than 300,000 new cases reported since July 1. And the policy effectively reverses course from the spring and summer, when ICE temporarily suspended pre­pandemic rules banning international students from residing in the U.S. and taking online-only courses.

More than a million international students come to the US every year to earn a degree that will help them land better jobs, and many remain in the US after graduation. They contribute to the cultural diversity of our campuses and many pay full tuition, which helps our institutions, especially in these times of economic difficulty and uncertainty. In Massachusetts there are 77,000 international students with active US study visas and another 32,000 in the rest of New England. Our state ranks fourth nationwide for its number of international students, and Northeastern University, with 16,000, ranks third in the country. Nationwide, international students contribute a $41 billion economic impact that supports more than 450,000 jobs. As one of our University Presidents observed, no public good is served by these efforts to deprive international students from continuing to make valuable and necessary contributions to the prosperity of the nation and the impact on the economic interests will be negative and potentially irreversible.

This policy is not only punitive to these international students, it also threatens the safety of other students and the communities surrounding college campuses. Additionally, transporting international students who may have been exposed to the coronavirus to other campuses or to airports to fly back to their home countries poses a myriad of health risks.

Finally, we understand that both Harvard University and MIT filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction this morning and I am sure others will follow. This litigation will be costly, will take time, and will waste precious judicial resources at a time when we should be focusing on rebuilding our nation.

Accordingly, we request that, in the best interest of our nation, you reconsider and rescind the temporary rules to help preserve our higher education system which is, indeed, the envy of the world.

Most respectfully,

Robert A. DeLeo 
Speaker of the House

Karen Spilka
Senate President

Jeffrey N. Roy 
House Chair, Committee on Higher Education

Anne Gobi
Senate Chair, Committee on Higher Education

Claire Cronin
House Chair, Committee on Judiciary

Paul McMurtry 
House Chair, Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development

Patricia A. Haddad 
Speaker Pro Tempore

Bradley H. Jones, Jr. 
House Minority Leader 20th Middlesex District

Alice H. Peisch 
House Chair, Committee on Education

Joanne M. Comerford
Senate Chair, Committee on Public Health

William H. Straus
House Chair, Committee on Transportation

Find the full PDF copy of this document

Register for the FHS High School Experience in August

"Heading to @FranklinHS in the Fall? Join us at the High School Experience to tour the building, get your schedule, make new friends, & so much more! 
Sign Up Now:"
Meant for rising 9th graders

  • Each student will attend the program for a single day between August 11th and August 13th (8:30 am-12:30 pm). Days will be assigned by HSE staff and communicated on or before August 5th.
  • Students will be divided into small teams (based on state and local regulations) that they will get to collaborate with and build relationships with. All activities will be completed within this small team.
  • Students and staff will be required to complete a health screening upon arrival at the program and will be required to wear a cloth face covering throughout the program. Students are asked to provide their own face covering.
  • Activities will be designed to encourage distancing and limit the sharing of materials. Hand washing/sanitization breaks will be built into the day.
  • Due to significant budgetary impacts, there will not be an HSE t-shirt this year.

The Franklin radar found this on Twitter:

Register for the FHS High School Experience in August
Register for the FHS High School Experience in August

Joint Statement from Senate President Spilka, Senator Brownsberger and Senator Chang-Díaz on Today’s Actions

The following is a joint statement from Senate President Karen E. Spilka, Senator Sonia Chang- Díaz, and Senator William Brownsberger:

"The Senate is going to stay focused on what we set out to do with this bill: protect the lives of our Black and brown residents from systemic racism and institutionalized violence. We know that these conversations are difficult, and the actions we're called to take will not be easy, but it is our responsibility to begin to respond to the voices who have called on us to make these changes. 
We welcome further discussion on the very important provisions of this bill—and the right way to do that is to proceed with debate on the bill and its amendments. We hold fast to our commitment to respond to calls for greater equity, justice and fairness—now, with the Reform, Shift + Build Act, and in the future with subsequent legislation."

The press release and fact sheet for the Reform, Shift + Build Act released earlier this week

  • press release

  • fact sheet

Lifelong Learning: Dedicate some time to yourself this month

Lifelong Community
This is a great time to learn something new!
In partnership with Ed2Go, we offer online courses on a wide variety of topics. So take some time to gain business or personal skills from home.
New sessions begin July 15th OR many courses also have a self-paced option that you can start anytime.
We have a few suggestions below, or you can review the full array of career training and/or professional development courses using the links at the bottom of this email.
Understanding Adolescents
Uncover the secrets of the adolescent mind. This course provides valuable information on how adolescents feel, how their identities develop, and how you can best meet their needs.
Introduction to Guitar
Learn to play guitar, and become the musician you've always wanted to be! In these fun and informative lessons, you'll build basic guitar skills step-by-step with the help of hands-on exercises, audio and video recordings, and detailed illustrations.
Introduction to Natural Health and Healing
Would you like to learn more about natural health but don't know where to start? In this course, you'll learn about the various stages of health and illness and discover that true health means wholeness of the mind, body, and spirit.
Want to Learn Something Else?

Lifelong Learning Institute - Franklin Public Schools 
 218 Oak Street, Room 137, Franklin, MA 02038

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In the News: West Nile virus detected in mosquitoes; plastic bag prohibition delayed for Franklin

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"About 15 minutes after the House of Representatives voted unanimously to give the executive branch new powers to run a statewide mosquito control response when the threat of mosquito-related diseases is high, public health officials announced that West Nile virus has been found in a Massachusetts mosquito for the first time this year. 
Two mosquitoes collected Tuesday in Belmont tested positive for West Nile virus, the Department of Public Health said, and no human or animal cases have been identified. 
There were five human cases of West Nile virus last year and 49 in 2018, the greatest number of cases Massachusetts has ever seen in a single year. 
West Nile can infect people of all ages, but people over age 50 and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk for severe disease, according to the state."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

"Earlier this year, town officials put the word out that Franklin would be banning the use of thin-film, single-use plastic shopping bags at local stores, starting in July. That was before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The town’s plastic bag ban has now been temporarily shelved. 
Town Administrator Jamie Hellen said the delayed start of the ban is because of Gov. Charlie Baker’s late March order prohibiting the use of carry-in, reusable shopping bags while the pandemic is ongoing, to prevent the spread of the virus. All existing local bans on plastic bags were also lifted statewide. 
“Our local bylaw was to go into effect July 1, but with the governor’s order, we cannot implement the new bylaw yet,” Hellen said Tuesday. “Once he rescinds that order, we will allow for a certain time of compliance after that. That said, the bylaw is active, but is trumped by the state executive order.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

In the News: MassDOT webinar released on i495/i90 interchange project

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

"Plans for the long-awaited reconstruction of the Interstate 495-Mass Pike interchange eliminate weaving movements that have caused the junction to be susceptible to crashes and congestion for years. 
State transportation leaders and project officials posted a webinar Thursday outlining the 25% design details of the project, which includes seven new direct and semi-direct ramps connecting the two interstates. The designated ramps and lanes for each traffic maneuver will make getting off the highway and merging much safer, project officials said. 
“The reason for the project is that the I-90/495 interchange is identified as a high-crash and high-congestion location,” Ryan McNeill, a state Department of Transportation project manager, said during the webinar. “The enhancements that are discussed in this presentation will improve the safety and operational efficiency at the system interchange and address chronically deficient traffic conditions for the movement of people and goods within the project area.” 
New ramps will be widened to include shoulders and will have designated speeds of 45 mph, 10 mph faster than the existing ramps. The radius of the ramps will not be as tight. Tractor-trailers currently are required to go very slow entering Interstate 495 southbound due to the tight radius of the off-ramp."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Additional info and to provide comments during this period

YouTube link =

Leave it to Bill Nye

Leave it to Bill Nye, The Science Guy, to make a simple and effective explanation on why to wear a facial covering (mask).

From the Franklin radar via Twitter:

For more about Bill Nye visit his web page has answers about filing, paying and July 15 due date

As the July due date for filing a tax return draws closer, the Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers about the many resources available on Whether on home computers or mobile devices, the number of taxpayers visiting continues to grow year after year.

Easy-to-use tools, available 24 hours a day on the IRS website, have been used more than 1.2 billion times this year. is home to IRS Free File, "Where's My Refund?", the Tax Withholding Estimator and a host of other convenient applications. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, available on Publication 17 is also available as an eBook.

Taxpayers who have yet to file their tax returns should file electronically now and choose direct deposit if they’re getting a refund. Taxpayers who owe for tax year 2019 can pay anytime up to the July 15 due date.

File electronically for free
Taxpayers whose income was $69,000 or less last year are eligible to use the IRS Free File software to do their taxes. Also, regardless of income, any taxpayer who is comfortable preparing their own taxes can use Free File Fillable Forms. Taxpayers can use these electronic versions of IRS tax forms to complete their taxes and file them online. Free File options are available at

Get answers to tax questions
Taxpayers can find answers to many of their questions using the Interactive Tax Assistant. It’s a tax law resource that uses a series of questions and responses to help. also has answers to Frequently Asked Questions on a variety of topics. The IRS website also has tax information in: Spanish (Español)Chinese (中文)Korean (한국어)Russian (Pусский)Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt); and Haitian Creole (Kreyòl ayisyen).

"Where's My Refund?"
Taxpayers can easily find the most up-to-date information about their tax refund using the "Where's My Refund?" tool on and on the IRS mobile app, IRS2Go. Within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an electronically filed return, taxpayers can start checking on the status of their refund.

Schedule a payment
Taxpayers can file now and schedule their federal tax payments up to the July 15 due date. They can pay online, by phone or with their mobile device and the IRS2Go app. When paying federal taxes electronically, taxpayers should remember:
  • Electronic payment options are the best way to make a tax payment.
  • They can pay when they e-file by using tax software online.
  • If using a tax preparer, taxpayers should ask the preparer to make the tax payment through an electronic funds withdrawal from a bank account.
  • IRS Direct Pay allows taxpayers to pay online directly from a checking or savings account for free.
  • Taxpayers can choose to pay with a credit card, debit card or digital wallet option through a payment processor. No fees go to the IRS.
  • The IRS2Go app provides mobile-friendly payment options, including Direct Pay and payment processors on mobile devices.
  • Taxpayers may also enroll in the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System and pay online or by phone.
  • They can pay with cash at a retail partner. New locations available.
  • Taxpayers can go to to securely access information about their federal tax account. They can view the amount they owe, access their tax records online, review their payment history and view key information for the most recent tax return as originally filed.
Not required to file a tax return? Non-Filers tool available to register for Economic Impact Payments
People who are not normally required to file a tax return and don’t plan to do so can use the Non-Filers tool to get an Economic Impact Payment. The only way they can get this payment is to register with the IRS by using this free tool. Available in both English and Spanish, the tool was developed jointly by the IRS and the Free File Alliance. The registration deadline is Oct. 15, 2020.

More information

Shared from the IRS page