Saturday, July 25, 2020

DESE released guidance on 'Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations' and 'Remote Learning'

DESE released guidance on 'Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations' and 'Remote Learning'
DESE released guidance on 'Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations' and 'Remote Learning'

You can get a copy of Remote Learning

Courses Requiring Additional Safety Considerations:

Talk Franklin: "Mid-summer in Franklin: What's going on and what's coming up!

FM #317 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 317 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: Current Town News
  • Solar info sessions for NexAmp (Aug 25, Aug 26)
  • Cannabis info session (Aug 6)
  • Hazard mitigation plan (Jul 28)
  • #Think Blue Franklin
  • Spotlight on Senior Center
  • Fire promotions event (Jul 22)
  • School committee Jul 28
  • Town Council meeting rescheduled Jul 29
  • Travel executive order just issued
  • Plastic bag prohibition scheduled for Aug 1/ waiver for Nov 1
  • Concerts on the Common tonight
The recording runs about 48 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Jamie and Anne Marie.

Audio file link:


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

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?

  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
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Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

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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!

You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

Talk Franklin: "Mid-summer in Franklin: What's going on and what's coming up!
Talk Franklin: "Mid-summer in Franklin: What's going on and what's coming up!

Town of Franklin, MA (@TOFranklinMA) tweeted at 3:53 PM on Fri, Jul 24, 2020:
Listen to "Mid-summer in Franklin: What's going on and what's coming up! " Tune in to stay updated! Thanks, @FranklinMatters #FranklinMA #ThePlacetoBe #StayConnected #news #events

State Budget for FY 2021 not likely until September

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Massachusetts tax collections in the fiscal year that ended June 30 are about $3 billion lower than what budget managers were expecting when they crafted the $43.3 billion state budget a year ago, according to preliminary data released Friday by the Department of Revenue. 
Revenue officials said incomplete revenue collections for fiscal year 2020 so far total $27.276 billion, which is $2.417 billion or 8.1 percent less than fiscal year 2019 and $3.014 billion or 9.9 percent below the year-to-date benchmark. 
But because the tax filing deadline was moved from April 15 to July 15 and DOR is still collecting fiscal 2020 taxes, the agency said the fiscal 2020 revenue total is expected to be updated over the next several weeks." 
“Approximately 81 percent of the year-to-date shortfall is in non-withheld income tax, which is due in large part to the deferral of the deadlines for personal income tax returns and payments and the first two estimated payment installments to July 15, 2020,” Revenue Commissioner Geoffrey Snyder said. “DOR will be releasing a full FY2020 revenue report in September because recently enacted legislation requires the Comptroller to record income tax payments received between July 1 and August 31 as FY20 revenue. We will continue to closely monitor these delayed FY20 revenue collections.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

August funding bill submitted by Gov Baker
The message for Gov Baker on H-4869

Weekly video update from FHS Principal Josh Hanna

Franklin High School Principal Josh Hanna writes:
Here is a link to a video update I plan on sharing on a weekly basis. Please click the link under the video and submit questions / concerns around our return to school. I hope you all are able to have a peaceful weekend.

Click the link to offer questions / concerns to be shared in future updates.

(Note the link to the form is currently restricted to those with an FPS email address. I expect this will change to enable parents and community to provide input.)

Franklin radar picked up via Twitter

State Rep Roy, Ted McIntyre on climate change

From the Guest Speakers section of Wicked Local
"The predictions of science are bleak based on our current approach to the problem of carbon pollution. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is nothing inevitable about the predictions. We still have the option to construct a good future. We have the power to build a world that does more than simply avoid catastrophe. And we can create a thriving, sustainable future that our children’s children will thank us for. 
Franklin had a very warm winter. According to The Globe it is “likely to end up being among the top five or six warmest since records have been kept.” 
While it is easy to say we have been lucky, last winter’s warmth is not some fluke of good fortune. If we just keep on doing what we are doing, U.S. Government scientists say that for Massachusetts, by the year by 2100, the number of days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit will increase from the usual five to 20 days to an uncomfortable 30 to 60 days. 
Imagine summertime in Franklin with all of July and August above 90 degrees! If last summer’s heat wave was uncomfortable, summers in the future will be awful."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Franklin radar picked up via Twitter

Baker-Polito Administration Issues New Travel Order Effective August 1st

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Massachusetts will impose new restrictions on travelers from most of the United States next week, threatening fines of $500 per day for those who do not quarantine or prove they tested negative for COVID-19, the Baker administration announced Friday. 
Under Gov. Charlie Baker’s new executive order, anyone entering Massachusetts will need to fill out a form summarizing their travel, then either self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival or submit negative test results for the highly infectious virus no more than 72 hours old. 
The new policy that takes effect Aug. 1 is an escalation of a travel advisory that has been in place for months, adding enforcement mechanisms as new infections continue to surge in states outside the northeast. Individuals who do not follow the mandatory quarantine order could be fined $500 per day, according to a press release from Baker’s office. 
Travel from states considered low-risk -- defined as having a daily case rate of less than six people per 100,000 and a positive test rate below 5 percent -- will be exempt from the quarantine or test policies. As of Friday, eight states are on that list: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Hawaii."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Link to text of the Press Release

Link to the new MA Traveler page
To go direct to the new travel form

YouTube link for Press Conference =

Gov Baker signs funding bill and Juneteenth holiday legislation

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
Gov. Charlie Baker on Friday morning signed the $1.1 billion COVID-19 spending bill sent to his desk last week, though he vetoed sections dealing with past MassHealth payments and a program spending floor. 
The bill (H 4808) included hundreds of millions of dollars for some of the more obvious COVID-19 costs, like $350 million for personal protective equipment, $85 million spent on field hospitals and shelters, $44 million for the contact tracing collaborative, and more than $111 million in supplemental payments to hospitals and providers. 
The Baker administration has said that many of the pandemic-related appropriations will be mostly reimbursed by the federal government, and the governor urged the Legislature to act quickly, saying that Massachusetts is in a race with other states to access a limited pool of resources available for reimbursement. 
“Now that this authorization is in place, state agencies can finalize the documentation needed to secure federal reimbursement where available, in particular from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),” Baker wrote in his signing letter. “Federal reimbursement will be supplemented with other federal funding sources, including but not limited to money from the Coronavirus Relief Fund established by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. As such, the net state cost is expected to be $0.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Gov Baker's letter to the Legislators with his approval and disagreement on two points of funding

Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) tweeted at 0:21 PM on Fri, Jul 24, 2020:
Today I signed a supplemental budget bill that authorizes #COVID19MA spending and also establishes #Juneteenth Independence Day as an annual state holiday on June 19 in order to recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.

Gov Baker signs funding bill and Juneteenth holiday legislation
Gov Baker signs funding bill and Juneteenth holiday legislation

“A cyberattack on one or more motor vehicles has enormous potential safety consequences"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"For months, an automobile manufacturer-backed opposition campaign has argued that a proposal to increase access to vehicle telematic data would expose drivers and the public to both safety and privacy risks. Now, they have a new ally in their effort to get a Massachusetts ballot question shot down: the federal government. 
At the request of state lawmakers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) waded into debate on a potential update to Massachusetts law this week, writing that the initiative petition as written would require remote access to vehicle functions “that may potentially pose an unreasonable risk to safety.” 
“Two of the most important (cybersecurity) techniques -- logical and physical isolation of vehicle control systems from external connections, and controlling access to firmware that executes vehicle functions -- may be rendered impossible by the provisions of this ballot initiative,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens wrote to state legislators. “The ballot initiative requires vehicle manufacturers to redesign their vehicles in a manner that necessarily introduces cybersecurity risks, and to do so in a timeframe that makes design, proof, and implementation of any meaningful countermeasure effectively impossible.” 
The chairs of the Legislature’s Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee, Rep. Tackey Chan and Sen. Paul Feeney, asked the NHTSA to weigh in on the impacts of the ballot question. The question is headed to the Nov. 3 ballot in part because lawmakers opted against stepping in and passing an alternative bill."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Senate Passes Legislation to Enhance Stroke Care System

Senate Passes Legislation to Enhance Stroke Care System

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday, July 23, 2020, unanimously passed legislation that will help lead to better care and treatment for individuals suffering from stroke.

"The Senate made it a priority this session to ensure our residents have adequate and equitable access to health care options, and this bill builds upon the hard work we have accomplished," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Time is a critical factor when seeking treatment for stroke patients and this potentially live-saving bill would better prepare our health care system so that we are doing it safely and efficiently."

"In Massachusetts, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death, claiming 2,370 lives per year, according to the most recent data from the Department of Public Health (DPH), stated Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Health. "Getting patients with strokes quickly to the appropriate hospital is critical to giving patients the best chance to survive. This bill will give DPH the tools to help EMS crews and hospitals work together to create a system where patients are given the highest opportunity to get the lifesaving care they need.  This bill received the strong support of the Public Health Committee, and I hope it can get to the Governor and be signed into law before the end of this session."

"Stroke is a chronic, deadly, and destructive disease that demands action from policymakers," said Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford).  "What is particularly troubling is that in many cases the death and disability is largely preventable.  We must act now to implement necessary reforms so that our loved ones can receive the very best care and treatment.  The things we can do now through this bill are pretty simple and reflect what many medical professionals agree are necessary to modernize our system of care.  Lives are simply more important than the bottom line of any business or desire to maintain the status quo."

"Stroke continues to take a terrible toll on its victims and their loved ones across the state and the nation; it continues to be a leading cause of death," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R -Gloucester).  "Combating the impacts of stroke depends significantly on a timely response with effective measures, and this legislation creates a framework for that to happen."

The bill, An Act to Prevent Death and Disability from Stroke, would:

  • Direct the Department of Public Health (DPH) and regional EMS councils to annually review protocols to ensure stroke patients are transported to care facilities best equipped to treat them;
  • Directs DPH to publicize regulations that create statewide standard pre-hospital care protocols and statewide criteria for designating hospitals in a tiered system;
  • Requires DPH to publicly post, and annually update, a designated list of stroke facilities on its website; and
  • Establishes a Stroke Advisory Task Force to assist with data oversight, program management and advice regarding the stroke system of care in the Commonwealth
 A stroke is caused by a disruption of blood supply to the brain. While stroke can cause disability or death, identifying the signs and getting immediate treatment can help reduce the long-term effects. Signs and symptoms may include face drooping, arm weakness and difficulty speaking.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 140,000 Americans die each year of stroke. A 2017 survey of Massachusetts adults 35 and older, 3.5 percent of reported suffering from stroke.

The legislation now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Passes Legislation to Enhance Stroke Care System
Senate Passes Legislation to Enhance Stroke Care System

Senate Passes Bill to Support Restaurants During COVID-19

Senate Passes Bill to Support Restaurants During COVID-19
Bill allows amending of alcohol licenses for outdoor services

On Monday, July 20, 2020, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to further allow communities and restaurants flexibility during the public health crisis.

The bill, An Act to Address Challenges Faced by Restaurants and other Establishments due to COVID-19, ensures local municipalities maintain flexibility in authorizing restaurants to provide food and alcohol service in expanded outdoor spaces during the COVID-19 emergency through November 1, 2020. This flexibility is currently provided through an executive order issued by the Governor and passage of this law will ensure this practice continues.

"The Senate will remain focused on helping our restaurants and small businesses by lifting barriers as we move forward in this unprecedented public health crisis," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "This bill will help give our restaurant industry another option as they safely welcome their customers back and recuperate from challenges posed by COVID-19."

"This bill will allow restaurants to promote social distancing practices, safely serve more customers and maximize their revenue during perhaps the most challenging economic time in memory for the industry," said Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I applaud Senator Feeney for his leadership in advocating Senate passage of this bill and for his ongoing efforts to urgently address challenges faced by restaurants during this public health crisis."

"The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting mitigation efforts have dramatically affected many industries throughout the Commonwealth. The restaurant industry has been particularly hard hit, said Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure. "From local entrepreneurs and chefs, to wait staff, bartenders and other employees, the effect on working people has been significant. We have tried to identify ways in the Senate, working with our local restaurant owners, to mitigate some of the hardships that this industry is facing. It was clear to me that we could take this simple step to cut the bureaucracy involved in serving alcohol on a patio or sidewalk outside the restaurant and offer diners a safer experience as they return to dining out. This is a simple, effective and common-sense move that has been embraced by restaurant owners and municipalities, while keeping workers and diners as safe as possible."

"Massachusetts has more than 16,000 restaurants that employ thousands of people and serve millions of meals, and their survival is threatened by the measures necessary to protect public health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With projections that as many as 1 in 5 of these businesses may not ever reopen, we must find and provide practical measures that help them through this difficult time," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R -Gloucester). "This legislation will help them capitalize on a desperately needed revenue opportunity with a simple but powerful change in regulatory requirements."
The legislation is the latest in a series of bills supported by the Senate during the Coronavirus Pandemic which aim to support businesses while social distancing remains encouraged. The bill now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Passes Bill to Support Restaurants During COVID-19
Senate Passes Bill to Support Restaurants During COVID-19

Senate Passes Bill to Update Credit Union Regulation

Senate Passes Bill to Update Credit Union Regulation
Bill Aims to modernize financial regulation in Massachusetts

On Monday, July 20, 2020, the Massachusetts State Senate passed legislation to streamline regulation of credit unions. In assigning new duties and offering appropriate flexibility to credit unions, the bill ends uncertainty over when and where credits should be considered as legally distinct from banks – some regulations continue to be common to both, while others only affect one group or the other. In a major change, credit union fees would be required to be consistent with banking fees.

The bill, An Act Modernizing the Credit Union Laws, also makes reforms to adjust the industry to the reality of remote work. For instance, the bill ensures that applications for loans may be done electronically and repeals now out-of-date regulations on advertisements and telephone-based customer service. The bill further makes headway into the digital age by updating and expanding online standards as well as critical privacy protections which are guaranteed to the customers of credit unions.

"I am thrilled to see this bill advance today as it an example of the Senate's efforts to improve access to our financial institutions," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "I would like to thank my colleagues for elevating this important issue and ensuring its swift passage." 

"Credit Unions provide a vital service in our communities yet the laws that govern them have not significantly changed in thirty years," said State Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.  "After several years of working towards a fair resolution, this bill will modernize these laws and allow credit unions to adapt to a financial landscape that has shifted dramatically over the last three decades.  Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her leadership and Senator Eldridge for his dedicated work on this legislation."

"I was very proud to file this legislation this session, given how many of my constituents rely upon credit unions, and how credit unions give back to their customers, and the communities that they are located in," said the bill's sponsor, Senator Eldridge (D-Acton) . "I want to thank the Joint Committee on Financial Services, co-chaired by Senator Jim Welch for reporting the bill favorably, and to Senate Ways and Means Chairman Mike Rodrigues and his staff for prioritizing the legislation. Chairman Rodrigues is a long-time champion of credit unions.  The modernization of credit unions will allow for a more logical and organized system that will better serve the residents of Massachusetts."

"This bill provides much needed modernization to the Credit Union laws and will help to streamline operations in the financial services industry." said Senator James T. Welch (D-West Springfield), Chair of the Joint Committee on Financial Services. "I am glad to see legislation passed as a result of several groups and advocates working together to find a balance of all interests."

Much of the bill focuses on the appropriate balance between giving credit unions greater financial, technological, and regulatory flexibility, while also maintaining oversight and consumer protection. Credit unions are for the first time given the option to hire outside consultants to determine interest rates. While keeping regulations in place that ensure that Massachusetts credit unions are majority local, the bill allows them to take on a larger geographic role with mortgage loans on properties in nearby states. The Commissioner of Banks and the Commissioner of Administration and Finance are both given roles in oversight of credit unions.

Having passed the Senate, the bill now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration.

Senate Passes Bill to Update Credit Union Regulation
Senate Passes Bill to Update Credit Union Regulation

Friday, July 24, 2020

Franklin events today!

Catch the show outdoor at THE BLACK BOX, stop by the Farmers Market, visit the yard sale at Franklin Federated Church, and enjoy the Concerts on the Town Common - all today.

  • Farmers Market - noon to 6:00 PM

  • Concerts on the Common = Friday, July 24

5 - 6:30 PM = "Pub Kings"
6:30 - 8:00 PM = "Frank Padula Band"
8:15 PM - Movie Night = "Toy Story #4"

  • Franklin Federated Church Sidewalk sale info

  • THE BLACK BOX Summer Concert Series 

Ali Funkhouser! Sponsored by Dean Bank. RESCHEDULED to Friday, July 24!

Franklin events today!
Franklin events today!

Reopening Update to the Community from Dr. Sara Ahern - July 23, 2020

July 23, 2020

Dear Franklin Families:

We hope that you are having a good summer. We also recognize that it looks and feels quite different amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are thinking of you at this time and hope that you find some relaxing moments amidst the worries and uncertainty you are facing. This update is quite long and contains the following information:

  1. Update on the reopening of schools in the fall
  2. A Save the Date note regarding upcoming Family Virtual “Chats” to learn more about reopening of school plans and opportunity to provide important input
  3. Reminders about online registration, bus transportation for the fall, and summer food services
  4. A budget update

Update on the Reopening of Schools in the Fall
We acknowledge that this is a time of anxiety and fear for all - students, faculty/staff, and families. We are in a fluid situation with new health information and guidance from multiple agencies (DESE, CDC, MA DPH) emerging regularly. We aim to provide certainty with what we know at this time but recognize that it is subject to change, and we don’t yet have all the answers.

New guidance from DESE and other agencies is emerging regularly, beginning with the initial guidance issued on June 25, 2020. At this time, the FPS Reopening Taskforce of nearly 60 individuals is working on a Reopening Plan. A preliminary plan will be submitted to DESE on July 31st, and then a Comprehensive Opening Plan will be submitted in early to mid-August. Our taskforce is a large group of administrators, teachers/counselors, FEA representatives, community reps (Facilities, SRO, school physician, and Health department), parents/guardians, and two School Committee representatives.

The plan will address health and safety requirements as well as three different student learning models:

1. In-person instruction
This model involves students attending in-person instruction following health and safety protocols defined by the CDC and DESE. Student desks would be arranged in rows, all facing the same way. Where possible, individuals would maintain 6 feet of physical distance and 3 feet of distance would be the minimum. Among other safety procedures, mask wearing would be in effect and handwashing/hand sanitizing protocols would be implemented. Staff and students would experience training on new practices.

2. Hybrid instruction
This model involves separating students into cohorts so that approximately 50% of students would attend school on certain days and approximately 50% of students would attend school on the alternative days. Cleaning and disinfecting would occur in between attendance of the different cohorts. When students are not present in school, they would be engaged in remote learning. Remote learning for the 2020-2021 school year is expected to be more robust than what students experienced in the spring.

Continue reading the update in the full PDF version linked/displayed here:

Nexamp Shared Solar Farm Information Session Scheduled

Franklin residents,

Please find an informational letter regarding a shared community solar farm attached here:

"We're excited to let you know that residents of the Town of Franklin are eligible to subscribe to a new local shared community solar farm that is being built by Nexamp and going live in Summer 2021. Nexamp will be hosting online information sessions on August 25th and August 26th for all Franklin residents to learn more about how you can tap into these solar farms to reduce your electric bill.

The solar farm, located on Spring Street in Franklin, will add more than a 6.3 MW of renewable energy to National Grid's electricity grid, or enough electricity to power more than 800 homes. This community solar farm falls under Massachusetts' community solar program, which allows residents to subscribe to a share of a local solar farm and go solar without rooftop panels.

Subscribers receive credits on their National Grid electric bill for the energy produced by their solar farm share. Nexamp normally provides these credits at a 12.5% discount but, through a special agreement with the Town of Franklin, Nexamp is offering a special discount rate of 15% to Franklin residents, meaning subscribers can save even more on their annual electricity costs.

There's no upfront cost and no long-term commitment - you can cancel your community solar share with no penalties.
Nexamp and Franklin have worked together to ensure that a portion of the farm has been reserved for Franklin residents. Openings are on a first-come, first-served basis until October 15th. To learn more or to subscribe right now, please visit or call Nexamp at 800-945-5124.

You can also join Nexamp at one of the upcoming information sessions to learn more about the program and the special offer for Franklin residents. Each session runs for about 30 minutes and includes a program overview followed by a time of interactive Q&A.

Tuesday, August 25 7:00 pm

Wednesday, August 26 1:00 pm

You can quickly and easily register for either session by visiting the links above. having you join us."

solar farm installation at Mount St Mary's Abbey in progress in July 2013

SAFE Coalition Relapse Prevention Survey

Survey link

View this email in your browser
Help us Help YOU!

The SAFE Coalition was founded on the principle that supportive services for substance use disorder must first come from those with lived experience. Through deep listening and active engagement in conversation, we recognize that our role is to hear the needs of the community, and develop services around these shared needs. 

The dynamics of COVID-19 have impacted the ability to practice and maintain recovery in traditional ways. We are looking to hear from YOU on what you would like to see for relapse prevention services and supports. 

The hope is to utilize these results in applying for funding that will allow us to create programming that directly relates to relapse prevention.

Thank you for your time!
Complete Survey HERE!
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 434
Franklin, MA

Podcast recommendation: Aria code

One of the podcasts, I have subscribed to is shared by the Boston Globe and I am happy to concur with their recommendation. An opera aria is given insights from a few perspectives in each episode and then you can listen to it, truly appreciating it for what it is. Wonderfully done!

"With anything resembling normal concert life off the table for the foreseeable future, classical fans have been increasingly exploring various digital options. And while there is no shortage of archival performances now available for streaming, it’s hard to pretend they offer anything near the experience of the live event. Podcasts, on the other hand, are conceived and designed for digital consumption — and after a fairly slow start, the classical world is starting to get better at making them. Here, in no particular order, are five programs worth a listen for your summer (and fall?) without live music.

Aria Code

Since its arrival in the fall of 2018, Aria Code has broken through the noise and emerged as a destination opera podcast for both listeners just beginning to explore the genre, and those who already have their bearings in it. Its combination of substance and zip goes down smooth, as each episode opens up a single aria, typically from a well-known opera, and interweaves reflections on it from Met singers, writers, scholars, directors, and others to form a kind of guided micro-tour.
There’s also typically one guest with life experience connected to the theme the aria explores, underlining the unsubtle but still effective message that this centuries-old art form also connects to the here and now. Rhiannon Giddens, a MacArthur-winning banjo and fiddle player who was trained as an opera singer, makes for a lively host, but the music is the star — and it’s remarkable just how wide a vista a single well-chosen aria can open up. After the featured guests have concluded the guided tour, you get to hear the aria performed, at full length and inevitably with more resonance given the episode’s journey."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Rhiannon Giddens performed during the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade on July 4, 2018.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff
Rhiannon Giddens performed during the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade on July 4, 2018.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

MA Senate Passes Brewers Compromise

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation that resolves a decade-long distribution dispute between brewers and wholesalers in the Commonwealth.

"Craft brewing is an industry that has grown in Massachusetts as a result of innovation, entrepreneurship, hard work and dedication to supporting small businesses, and is now thriving," said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "Solving this decade-long dispute was a priority of mine long before becoming Senate President and I look forward to seeing this important agreement codified in law. I would like to thank my colleagues Senators Paul Feeney, Joe Boncore and Cindy Creem for their efforts and the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and Beer Distributors of Massachusetts for their determination in reaching this landmark compromise."

"The MBG is incredibly grateful for the support and leadership of Senate President Spilka in advocating for franchise law reform," said Sam Hendler, President of the Massachusetts Brewers Guild and co-founder of Jack's Abby Craft Lagers. This agreement is a victory for the more than 200 craft breweries across Massachusetts that have become pillars of their communities, helping local economies to thrive and drawing tourism to new areas. It took the collective effort of our counterparts in the legislature, the brewing community and the wholesalers to ensure we are able to continue our work as craft brewers now and for years to come."

"The Beer Distributors of Massachusetts are tremendously appreciative of the work, support, and leadership provided by Senate President Spilka in encouraging the Brewers Guild and the Beer Distributors to agree on franchise law reform that has been disputed for the past 10-years" said Joe Salois, owner & president of Atlas Distributing, Inc., Auburn, MA. "The efforts, leadership, and uncompromising willingness to reach agreement by the brewers, distributors, and legislature was a driving force in this achievement" said Salois.

The legislation, An Act Relative to Craft Brewers (S.2829), represents the agreement reached by The Massachusetts Brewers Guild, representing craft breweries, and the Beer Distributors of Massachusetts after good-faith negotiations encouraged by Spilka and her Senate colleagues.

"This bill will update our current franchise laws to reflect the modern marketplace, protect jobs and level the playing field for emerging brewers here in the Commonwealth," said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. "I applaud the spirit of compromise shown by brewers and distributors to get this done and reach agreement during this time of great uncertainty. Thank you to Senate President Spilka for her leadership and Senators Feeney, Boncore and others for their hard work to ensure we pass this legislation today."

"This agreement and resulting legislation is indicative of the importance of a growing beer industry here in Massachusetts. Both the brewers and distributors came together to forge an agreement that protects jobs, promotes economic growth and entrepreneurship, and benefits consumers," said Senator Paul Feeney (D-Foxborough). "I am proud to have played a role, along with Senate President Spilka and Senator Creem in providing the environment and sense of urgency that allowed this deal to be reached by these two very willing stakeholders. This legislation should signal to the industry that the Commonwealth is supportive of this growing sector and that a network of local and independent distributors and workers are ready to bring their product to market."

"Massachusetts is home to more than 200 breweries that represent the unique culture and contours of our local communities," said Senator Joe Boncore (D-Winthrop). "This legislation will create a level playing field for craft brewers. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is critical that we support small and local businesses as we work towards economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."

"The growth and expansion of the craft brewery business over the last decade has been a welcome addition to the State economy," said Senate Majority Leader Cindy Creem (D.Newton). "I applaud all the parties involved for reaching an agreement that will allow this industry to flourish both now and into the future."

In Massachusetts, current law makes it difficult for a brewer to end a relationship with their distributor, jeopardizing potential growth. The compromise legislation (S.2829) would allow a brewery that produces less than 250,000 barrels (or just over 3.4 million cases) a year to end their relationship with a distributor with a 30-day notice and other certain protections. If a distribution contract is terminated, the brewery would be responsible for fairly compensating the wholesaler the fair market value of the distribution rights in addition to other costs for inventory and marketing investments. The legislation calls for both parties to engage in an expedited arbitration process to resolve such issues.

An Act Relative to Craft Brewers now moves to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for consideration. 

Senate Passes Bill for Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in State House

The Massachusetts State Senate on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to establish a memorial to Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the House Chamber of the Massachusetts Legislature. The memorial will include the text of the civil rights leader's historic speech delivered in front of a joint convention of both houses of the Massachusetts General Court.

In his 1965 speech to the Legislature, King noted Massachusetts' role in securing liberty for this country. King furthermore declared, that "No section of the country can boast of clean hands in the area of brotherhood," and charged both state lawmakers and members of the public with doing more to preserve liberty and create a just society. The full text of the speech would be included on a plaque in the State House.

"The words of Dr. Martin Luther King have never been more important, especially as we embark on the hard work of dismantling systemic racism by reforming our system, shifting our resources and building a more equitable and just Commonwealth," stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). "I look forward to seeing his powerful message memorialized in the State House. I would like to thank the resolve's sponsor, Representative Bud Williams as well as Representative Carlos González, chair of the Massachusetts Black & Latino Legislative Caucus, members of the caucus and Senator Lovely for advocating for this important remembrance."

"Dr. King's 1965 speech reminds all legislators of our heavy responsibilities to create a Commonwealth where Black people receive equal and just treatment," said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). "The placement of this plaque in the House chamber will make the State House a more inclusive and inspirational place for those of us who work here as well as for those who come to see our work."

The legislation now moves back to the Massachusetts House of Representatives for further action.

Senate Passes Bill for Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in State House
Senate Passes Bill for Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in State House

In the News: plastic bag prohibition on for November 1

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

"With the green light given for reusable bags to return to stores, Franklin’s plastic bag ban is back on track and scheduled to take effect this fall. 
The local ban, adopted by the Town Council early in the year, was originally slated to begin July 1. It was temporarily put on hold in late March after Gov. Charlie Baker issued an order disallowing use of carry-in, reusable shopping bags -- action taken to help prevent the possibility of spreading the virus. 
Now that reusable bags have been cleared by the state to be used once again, Town Administrator Jamie Hellen said local stores can seek a three-month waiver from the town in order to give them time to prepare for the local plastic bag ban. The clock starts ticking on Aug. 1, making the Franklin bylaw officially effective on Nov. 1. 
“A letter went out to licensees last week” alerting them to the re-start of the bylaw timeline, he said via email on Monday.
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Approved in Feb 2020, halted by the pandemic the bag prohibition is now set for Nov 1.

Feb 2020 approval

July delay

In the News: plastic bag prohibition on for November 1
In the News: plastic bag prohibition on for November 1