Sunday, September 21, 2008

"Doubting anonymous" should be satisfied now

Milford Daily News
Posted Sep 20, 2008 @ 10:52 PM


Weeks into the new school year, some residents are still skeptical that the district actually laid off 44 teachers, an accusation Superintendent Wayne Ogden says he wishes were true.

Referring to an anonymous caller who only identified himself as a former town councilor, who asserted teachers were not given pink slips, or have since been rehired, Ogden said, "He is completely wrong.''

"I wish he were right. I wish that were true. I'd be a happier human being. In fact, I might not have resigned,'' he said.

Residents will be able to check "the truth according to the Department of Education,'' by the end of October, when the department publishes the number of students, teachers and administrators in every school district in Massachusetts, Ogden said.

The department produces both a current list and last year's numbers, so people can compare and view them side-by-side, he said.


This summer, Town Clerk Deborah Pellegri, on behalf of the Brick School Association, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the School Department, seeking the names of all those teachers and positions that had been cut.

"We weren't doubting (teachers had been laid off), we just wanted to see the people's names and how many people were let go,'' Pellegri said.

The list she received in response to her request identified the names, positions, and corresponding schools of 46 teachers, four of whom were part-time, and two administrators.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

"It just amazes me to think that people can be so cruel to animals"

Milford Daily News
Posted Sep 20, 2008 @ 10:50 PM


With the vigilance of a cat stalking its prey, self-proclaimed "Cat Lady'' Dorothy "Dottie'' Luff, 81, scours the woods that are home to a colony of feral cats for traps.
Every day, she said she watches for them, terrified someone will catch and later kill one of her precious babies, whom she has named, fed and cared for over the past decade.

Recently, while she was checking on "Gayle,'' "Leftie'' (so-named because she always rubs against Luff's left leg), "Debbie'' and "Blackie,'' Luff looked down and saw an unfamiliar puff of fur on the ground.

As she petted the animal, she thought it was the softest fur she'd ever felt, and turned it over to discover it was a raccoon, and it was dead. Someone had stabbed it with a stick through the front of its body, she recalled, shaking her head and remarking that no child or animal had done it.

"Sometimes I think the humans are worse than the animals,'' Luff said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Saturday, September 20, 2008

188 King St - siding is now complete

Windows and doors last week, siding this week. The construction is making good progress.

Another foundation!

Another foundation!, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Yes, for all the talk of the economy in dire straits, there is a new foundation on King St between 188 King (under construction) and 194 King (recently renovated).

Museum - construction progress

Museum - construction progress, originally uploaded by shersteve.

The future home of Franklin's museum looks to be getting a whole new entrance.

Note: the funds being used to do this work are from the CAPITAL budget and not the Operational budget. The funds from the pending sale of the Four Corners building can be used to pay for this work. The funds from the pending sale of the Four Corners building could not be used for an operational expense like re-hiring a laid off teacher or bringing on another person in the Police, Fire or Public Works Dept.

Fall cleaning = yard sales

Fall cleaning = yard sales, originally uploaded by shersteve.

This pole at the railroad bridge downtown says there are quite a few choices for yard sales today!

Electing a US President in Plain English

With the November election approaching, it is time to start preparing for it. Let's start with a good explanation of how the electoral college works. This one by the folks at Common Craft is a good, accurate and simple explanation of the electoral college. No chads are left hanging!

Electing a US President in Plain English from leelefever on Vimeo.


If you are interested in the behind the scenes explanation of how the video was created visit Common Craft here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"The virus can cause serious, life-altering symptoms"

Posted Sep 18, 2008 @ 11:28 PM


The first "killer frost," expected in one to three weeks, should end the threat of West Nile virus here, said Franklin Health Director/Agent David E. McKearney.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a warning earlier this week after finding mosquitoes in Franklin that tested positive for West Nile virus.

The virus was detected in a sample taken on Sept. 11, in central Franklin, near Union Street and West Central Street, McKearney said.

"It's really not earth-shattering news. We know that West Nile virus is endemic in Massachusetts. We've had a lot of positive samples in Massachusetts, so it's not surprising," McKearney said.

In the past, the state found West Nile virus in a bird here, but not in a mosquito and never a human, he said.

Read the full article here in the Milford Daily News

In the News - Recycling event; Harvest Festival

Posted Sep 18, 2008 @ 12:24 AM


Piles of electronic detritus, including discarded computer monitors and hard drives, tangles of thick power cords, and bulky TVs, filled a parking lot next to Gillette Stadium last Saturday, waiting to be hauled off and recycled.

The daylong event, a cooperative effort of Sony Electronics Inc. and Waste Management Recycle America, was proclaimed a success by the organizers.

"The event exceeded our expectations on all levels, which was great," said Jensen Kroll, an account manager with Waste Management who coordinates the company's recycling efforts for the northeast region.

"It was fantastic," agreed Doug Smith, director of corporate and environmental affairs for Sony. "Everything was extremely smooth. No one had to wait in line."

He said 3,494 vehicles navigated the 11 lanes set up at the drive-thru event, discarding electronics that had been pushed aside for more modern models.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


Harvest Festival on horizon


Wed Sep 17, 2008, 04:29 PM EDT FRANKLIN -

The Downtown Partnership is gearing up for its sixth annual Harvest Festival, the largest downtown event, featuring more than 80 vendors, a farmers' market and entertainment.

The festival, which will be held Sunday, Sept. 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is expected to draw 2,200 visitors along Main and East Central streets.

Read the full article in the Franklin Gazette here

"the gallery really sends a message that art is important"

Franklin teachers show off their artistic talents

By Heather McCarron/STAFF

Thu Sep 18, 2008, 03:54 PM EDT FRANKLIN -

There’s an old saying that goes like this: "Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach."

And it’s completely false, says Mike Caple, art director for the Franklin Public Schools, who is joining other members of the K-12 art faculty this fall in an exhibit that shows "these teachers can do."

To open the second season of Franklin Public Schools’ new art gallery, Gallery 218, many of the 17 members of the district’s art and visual media faculty are introducing their artist selves to the public by putting their own work up for viewing through Nov. 7.

Read the full article in the Franklin Gazette here

Work from the gallery can also be viewed online here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Financial Planning Committee 9/18/08

Financial Planning Committee 9/4/08

live reporting - Police Dept

Chief Williams

This is my request for the two additional officers. I am 95% personnel driven. If my budget gets cut, that means some person does less. I have 4 people on our overnight. If we have one accident at 4 Corners and something happens over at the Elks, we are in trouble.

When is the busiest time? Wednesday morning between 8:00 and 9:00 AM last year.
About 70,000 folks coming through here on a daily basis, via 140, 495, the trains.

Our calls for service have gone up 3-4%, our arrests have gone up 40+%
we are the busiest town in court cases in Dedham, in Wrentham
On track to handle about 850 calls just with our children, in our schools and outside

Our biggest complaints are traffic, children, elderly.
We are generally in ahead of the Fire. Grant money is keeping us afloat.
We are down in personnel but maintaining our service with technology
Jim Vallee has gotten quite a bit of money to help our technology needs
Capital money has generally been reduced because of the grants, but there is no guarantee of that

7200 times for 911 calls last year

We need the bodies to answer that call
The State has mandates but they don't fund them properly, proper booking for an arrest, a long process that the State does not fund
Someone processing an arrest is taken off the street who could respond to a call

Looking at four officers over the next four years, 2 right away, then one 2011, another one 2012
The two we asked for this year were cut, I understand that, 40 plus teachers were cut

What have we done on a regional basis?
I lead our tactical regional response group. We have a group ready to respond.

Franklin is the last stop on the train, we are getting an influx of people that we have never had before.

We did over 400 drug cases last year.

Because we are involved people will tend to come to us.
This is the best cooperation we have between schools and police that we have ever had.

Domestic violence is an issue.

44000 incident, incident any call that requires a response; a small portion of that is house maintenance
Over 100,000 phone calls

Looking for a repeater in the north end of town to help the radio can get a good signal there
Possibly putting an antenna somewhere there to help the signal, I have grant money to do this.

Our computer system allows for a quick update and get back on the road more quickly, less time reporting.
Can you do a voice thing and let someone else type it in?
We do have a system but it is expensive and we use it for a big court case where there are lots of witness statements, etc.

FBI stats say 2 per thousand people, we have 46, FBI would have us with 66. I am about 7 officers below in comparable communities, 15 of 16 in ranking.

Chief Williams has provided some statistics to Steve Whalen, he will send it around to the group.

Franklin has a good reputation so they can get transfers in and it gets the new hires up to speed quicker. It would be good to get all four new officers at the same time, could put them all into the training cycle.

The town has more firemen (48) than police (46).

live reporting - Fire Department

Chief McCarraher provides an overview of their budgeting process
Paul Sharp, Deputy

uses regression analysis to determine response effectiveness
when the stats show their decline in responses, they can either add resources or stop handling certain situations; for example, they do not respond to pump flooded basements, they do not handle cat in the tree calls...

when they talk about adding resources, they talk about adding a company
currently a 4 platoon system, budget for 5 people; sick time, vacation, training, all required to keep 4 active and on duty

forecasting to add a company in 2011
rather than taking a big hit, looking for incremental growth
allows for training through the fire academy as a group, rather than one at a time

Dr Eisenburg model shows graphically how to have a successful response within 8 minutes
civilian fire deaths triple when fire flash point is reached in a room
we are right at 81.1%
our exposure is in the north of Franklin
as those parts of Franklin develop, that will create response time issues as the travel is longer from the station
the nature of the population area will help to drive the call volume

2005-2006 we were at 59%
now with additional folks over the last few years, the response time as improved

anticipation of a 4% increase in calls

the call is the event whether it is one call or 15 calls for the same event, it is one event
the event can be responded to with one vehicle or multiple, but it is still a single event

the increase comes from multiple factors, I wish I could tell you it is a pure calculation
I did take the historical numbers and did a regression analysis over time to come up with 4%

when the economy is going from good to bad, or bad to good, there is an increase in call volume
when the economy is steady at either the top or the bottom, there is a steady volume
should be able to write a book about this some day

the model is statistically valid, when it will happen is the question

it is easy when you use big numbers
20% of our base is industrial/commercial and the highway, residential is driven by population
the nature of the industry will drive volume, warehouse is less than heavy manufacturing

there will be increases until we hit the build out scenario, once we hit the build out max, there should be a lessening of demand, although as the community declines, that poses additional problems that can drive call volume

what does the ambulance money pay for or not pay for?
the amount collected via third party billing when the ambulance transfers patients
the money simply covers the capital requirements for the ambulance equipment
the rates are determined by Medicare/Medicaid

goal is to bill out within 30 days of the response
you may not see a bill as the insurance company may cover it

we cross train our paramedics and fireman
we need 15 folks to fight a single family residence, 10 to fight the actual fire and five called back into the station to provide coverage

Medicare used to reimburse at 80% of the fare billing fee
now the rate is $643 per ambulance no matter what the patient requirements are

what happened when we tried to regionalize dispatch
you can only regionalize in MA with the communities are less than 2500 people

what have you done to reduce cost, or improve productivity
we have 12 people on duty, we don't replace until we go down to 10
we are right staffed, it allows us to hold off calling folks back

45% of our call volume happens with 2 calls within 15 minutes of each other
we are staffed to handle two calls, to handle three calls would add another million dollars in staffing

there is really no flashy sexy solution, we have been at this since Prop 2 1/2 came in
over the twenty years, we have done it all, without a major technical advance (and that is not realistic)

it will take a few years beflow 90% to build a trend line for the demand

fire dept are so entrenched in tradition, communities identify with their fire dept, to say we would go to a Charles River Fire department for example, combining with Medway and someone else near

regionalization is a 30 year buzz word, in Eastern MA, very few successful efforts especially when getting to the employees

Animal control works well with Bellingham, no issues, quick response

live reporting - Financial Planning Committee - model overview

Attendees: Deb Bartlett, Steve Whalen, Roberta Trahan, Doug Hardesty, Matt Kelly, Rebecca Cameron, Jeff Nutting, Wayne Ogden, Gwynne Wilschek (late)

Chief Williams, Chief McCarraher


Meeting called to order

Jeff provides an overview of the model

the model assumes 4% salary increase, this is only a projection, not a budget
first column for FY 2010 assume no hires

schools calculated in 7% each year as a plug number

collective bargaining agreements run out in 2010
what happens for 2011 and 2012 will be dependent upon the contract settlements

if inflation continues, 2-2.5% salary increases will potentially be harder to win

if we say 3%, it might be an additional 30%. there are some steps and level changes but there is also overtime that increases. so we would use 3.3% to calculate.

Health insurance and pensions are an item

The second 2010 would put some folks back into the mix, bringing in some police, fire, custodians, etc. 2011, 2012 simply grow from the second 2010.