Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sign spinners for Jenny Craig

Have you sign those crazy guys spinning signs at the 140/I495 exits or near the entrance to the Franklin Village Shopping Center?

I caught up with Justin Brown today to find out a little more about them and to record this brief video in case you missed their performance. Saturday is their last day advertising for the Jenny Craig opening at Franklin Village.

Justin was at the entrance and is pictured in the video here. He was joined by Charles "Chaz" Bryant, Ray Rivera, and Michael "Rex" Rexrode.

If you would like to enlist the sign spinners to help advertise your company, the contact information is available on the AArrow Advertising web site.


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Friends of Mel

Friends of Mel, originally uploaded by shersteve.

Eileen Mellor, Chris Sullivan and Sharon Whalen at Stop & Shop fund raising for Friends of Mel.

They will be at Stop & Shop this afternoon, if you have a chance, stop by and help them.

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Happy Birthday To Franklin Matters

Happy Birthday To Me, originally uploaded by .bullish.

A belated birthday wish to Franklin Matters!

How quickly a year passes! I created this site to separate the Franklin posts from the rest at Steve's 2 Cents. The first post on this site was November 9, 2007. Over 1200 posts later, it is still going.

That question you can help me answer.

What should there be more of?
What should there be less of?

Public hearing notice


The details on the tagged and green ribbon trees indicate that there is a public hearing scheduled for 11/24/08 to review the plans for removing these trees as part of the construction/upgrade of Pulaski Blvd in Bellingham.

"The Bellingham Tree Warden will conduct a public hearing on November 24, 2008 at 7:00 PM in the Cafeteria of the Paul J. Primavera Education Center, 80 Hairpin St, to review proposed tree removal and plantings along the Pulaski Blvd right of way related to the Pulaski Blvd Improvement Project, Chapter 87, section 3 for cutting of public shade trees."

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Tie a green ribbon?


I recall the lyrics being something like "tie a yellow ribbon".
What does it mean when all these trees get green ribbons?

If you have had the opportunity to drive down Washington St into Bellingham, where the road changes name to Pulaski Blvd, there are dozens of trees tagged with green ribbons and these plastic cards.

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"It's what the town needed"

Seniors party for center's one-year anniversary

By Joyce Kelly/Daily News staff

Yesterday, seniors - and public officials - proved they know how to have some fun.

The laughs kept rolling among nearly 150 senior citizens celebrating the one-year anniversary of the new Senior Center at 10 Daniel McCahill St.

Impersonating Frank Sinatra, Town Administrator Jeffrey D. Nutting wooed the ladies with "Fly Me to the Moon" as he cradled a glass of (allegedly fake) hard liquor on the rocks.

Between Nutting, the zany kitchen crew's act, a police show with officer Jamie Mucciarone as "the King" sliding across the stage doing "Jailhouse Rock" with four "inmates" that included Police Chief Stephen Williams, the crowd got a few chuckles.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Open for business:

As part of our continuing series on businesses located here in Franklin, I find out that is now open for business via this notice.

Founded by Paula And William Ross, has about 1,000 products to help pet owners enhance the health and relationship with their pets. offers a business opportunity in the $40 Billion Pet Industry and an on-line Pet Store for each affiliate. affiliates have a fully equipped customer service center at their disposal, ready to take customer orders.

For more info, you can buzz them at 888-303-7775, visit their website (, or stop in at their Franklin, MA headquarters.

For information on other businesses in Franklin check out the prior postings here

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Friday, November 21, 2008

In the news - Financial Planning, Downtown Partnership, chambers unite, schools reduce paper

Posted Nov 21, 2008 @ 12:09 AM


In its ongoing efforts to create a three-year financial forecast for the town, the Fiscal Planning Committee last night considered the School Department's future.

The committee kicked around the possibility of regionalizing services with nearby towns, and member Stephen Whalen asked whether anyone has thought of asking the teachers union to agree to a moratorium on step increases (but keeping cost-of-living increases) now that "times are really tough."

"If we're asking taxpayers to make sacrifices, maybe we could ask our employees to make sacrifices" to reduce the chances of their colleagues getting laid off, he said.

Committee member and Town Council Vice Chairwoman Deborah Bartlett argued that teachers would just leave Franklin for other districts.

Matt Kelly, another member from the School Committee, whose wife is a teacher, said the big question teachers always ask during budget season and when layoffs loom, is whether they have the seniority to keep their job.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

For my live reporting from this meeting check the notes here


Posted Nov 20, 2008 @ 10:35 PM


Now that the town-commissioned statue has been unveiled at Franklin's relocated historical museum, the Downtown Partnership is preparing to beautify downtown on Sunday and start a merchants subcommittee to help breathe life into the center of town.

The new merchants committee, spearheaded by three businesses, Jane's Frames on East Central Street, ArtBeat on Summer Street, and Fitness Together on Main Street, will have a special event every third Thursday of each month, likely starting in January, said Jane Curran, a partnership member and owner of Jane's Frames.

"We want to have the 'third Thursdays' to encourage the public to come and see what's going on in downtown," which may include discounts and special promotions, Curran said.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Help decorate downtown Franklin Sunday, 11/23/08 from noon to 4:00 PM


Posted Nov 20, 2008 @ 10:33 PM

Franklin's United Chamber of Commerce is merging with the Attleboro Area Chamber of Commerce, which members of both organizations hope will expand their clout and marketing reach.

The two had been discussing a merger for the past few months, as the United Chamber found itself in a tight financial situation and searched for a partner.

Attleboro's president, Jack Lank, will become president of the newly formed and re-named United Regional Chamber of Commerce, which will span more than 800 businesses in 14 towns along Interstate 495.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here


The refrigerator doors at students’ homes may appear more barren these days as school administrators try to distribute fewer hand-outs and disseminate more information through the Web.

Several school officials who send newsletters via e-mail and post grades online said recently they are looking to be both environmentally friendly and cost conscious.

Margaret Cole, a mother of three students in Bellingham schools, says less paper has come home this school year so far, although she still sees her "fair share."

With two children attending South Elementary School last year, she said she received duplicates of every hand-out.

"I would love to see more notices and homework assignments put online," Cole said. "It helps me monitor (their work) and makes it so much easier."

Read the full article in the Gazette here

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Energy $ense: Sustainable Business Leader Program

The Friends of the Franklin Public Library sponsored the 2nd installment of The Franklin Area Climate Team’s “Energy $ense” Series on Thursday, November 13th. The seminar: “How Businesses Get Help Going Green” with Alex Chamberlain, Director of the Sustainable Business Leader Program.

The Sustainable Business Leader Program (SBLP) offers assistance to small to medium sized businesses in Boston and the surrounding areas to improve their current practices in energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, waste reduction, transportation efficiency and sustainability management. The program provides: guidance in assessing your company’s current sustainability condition, help in developing an Action Plan to improve it and on-going assistance and monitoring.

A diverse group of businesses is participating currently in Boston; Boston Duck Tours through to Mom/Pop type shops. A listing of the 27 businesses in the program can be found on the SBLP website here. (

What is the Sustainable Process? The process starts with the sustainability assessment form (PDF). It is rather extensive and detailed with 94 questions. Completion of the form is followed by a site evaluation. The evaluation confirms answers to the survey questions and results in research that produces an assessment. The assessment provides recommendations for an action plan. The business creates the plan. SBLP personnel are available to work with the business to help develop the plan. Ultimately the SBLP reviews plan and approves.

How else can SBLP help your business? The SBLP held a gathering for restaurants and cafes to review sustainable practices. Sustainable practices are hard to do effectively as the business are small operations and are heavily driven by the immediate needs of their customers. The roundtable conversation was successful. The ripple effect of the discussion around locally sourced food was impressive and unexpected. Not only were the restaurants and cafes interested, but other companies were looking for local food for their cafeterias and break rooms.

They are exploring similar events for other groupings of companies to better meet their needs. SBLP has scheduled a “greentech” event for Dec 10th

How much of an opportunity is there? In 2006, it was estimated that there were 650,000 small businesses in Massachusetts alone. It is likely there are more today than then, therefore the work opportunity is great.

What does the program cost? The SBLP program costs $500. The individual company would pay $250 and the local chamber or other sponsor group would contribute $250.

What is the key to success? Whether the program starts at the top leadership of the company, or starts at the bottom, or anywhere in between, having a champion to keep the initiative going usually ensures a successful program.

Somerville has a similar program for the Davis Square area. The local businesses got together and determined to create a sustainable environment as a way of differentiating themselves from Harvard Square. For more information on the green effort you can visit their web site here. (

For more information on a sustainable process for your Franklin area business, please email Ted McIntyre of the Franklin Area Climate Team at or call 508-528-7765

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A meeting of the Financial Planning Committee was held on October 16,2008 at the Franklin Municipal Building. Members present were James Roche, Deborah Bartlett, Roberta Trahan, Matt Kelly, Rebecca Cameron, Doug Hardesty and Gwynne Wilschek..
Absent were Steve Whelan and Shannon Zollo. Also present were Wayne Odgen, Jeffrey Nutting and Tina Powderly.

The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m.

Discussion Items:

1. A general discussion was held on how to proceed.
2. The schools will present their model on November 20th.
3. Since the revenue picture will be unclear until February, it is the hope of the Committee to make a report by March, 2009.
4. Discussion on how to reach out to the citizens for input.

Doug Hardesty agreed to begin work on formatting the model; Jeff Nutting agreed to obtain comparison information about past versus current expenses; and Deb Bartlett agreed to work on a timeline. It is hoped that the report could have a range of financial options ranging from low to high.

The meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jeffrey D. Nutting

Financial Planning Committee 11/20/08

The collection of posts from the Financial Planning Committee meeting on 11/20/08

Thursday, November 20, 2008

live reporting - school budget continued

Discussion on step/level changes versus the across the board rate increase.

The union both teachers and others in town would really fight hard on changing the step/level changes.

The Franklin teachers were cooperative in the most recent deal in accepting the 6.5% over three year increase.

Police, fire do this step/level thing too, the teachers are not alone. After 13 years, when you are theoretically at the top of your game, you only get an annual cost of living increase (i.e. the 2/2/2.5%). In other industries, you get opportunities for bonuses, etc.

What percent of the SPED budget is transportation?
At least 25-35%.

For the total SPED population we are about 70 students. That fluctuates from year to year depending upon the overall student population.

School employment equals 471 professional teaching staff, plus administrators, secretarial, to total approx 620.

Supplies were frozen overall. We equalized the amount at each level elementary, middle and high school levels to work out to be $210, $225, $355 respectively.

There are a 159 at the masters level, 75 will be at the top of the guide next year.
Typically English, Social Studies, Music we could get at an entry level. For Science, most likely would need to get at something higher than the entry level.

Class size charts reviewed to depict where the district is today.

Science class sizes were kept at around 24 due to the physical space, the labs were set for 2 students per station and 12 stations per room. To do more than that runs risk of additional dangers in handling the scientific materials.

Elementary sizes suffer from a distribution problem unless we re-district every year to make the adjustments.

Can we compare how successful we were at higher class sizes versus lower class sizes?
Yes, and no, not easily. There is a lot of national research on class size. New England Association of Schools and Colleges has asked the high school what impact the increase in class size will have. The comparative is a trailing indicator. You find out when it is too late.

We have a one shot deal here.
The past committees have really tried to preserve class size as the one major educational item of significance.

Could you experiment with different models of the mix of younger vs. older teachers?
Tenure vs. professional teaching status. The first three years the school district has a whole lot of flexibility. For the fourth year, there is now a right for that position.

With the three year starting process and then the flatness over 13 years, you really don't have any flexibility with teachers salary.

Not sure that you can track AP classes from year to year like we can with MCAS scores.

What else can we look at, turn over some rocks to find?
Probably don't have time tonight to look at that.

Next meeting: Dec 4th, Dec 18th, Jan 15th, Feb 5th

Discussion on "free cash", get started on the financial model

Think about all that we have heard and start to synthesize.

FY 10 salary numbers will be available in January, the out years should be discussed. Collective bargaining will be coming, Jan 2010 on the town side. Teachers will start negotiation in Sep 2009. We did secure some energy contracts so we can update those numbers in January. The pension numbers fluctuate and we need a better number. We'll still have a hugh budget gap.

live reporting - School Budget continued

The summer program where the students took classes on line away from the facilities. These things need to be listed out.

Has anyone dropped athletics? No, others have higher fees.
Has anyone dropped co-curricular? No, others have higher fees.

Theoretically, our teachers could teach course on line and students from around the nation could be paying us for that. During the summer, this was piloted. It would dramatically change the nature of what a teacher would do and what a student would experience. We're looking at what kinds of revenue could be generated. This would also have union contract ramifications. There is a thing called Virtual High School but that is a non-profit. We are probably the only public high school looking at this.

Would this be for home schoolers or for those looking for a specific course?
There already are home school packages out there, it would more likely be the specific courses. There could be advanced classes to accelerate graduation. So if a student goes through in three years instead of four, that in itself would be a cost savings.

There is a certain kind of kid that would thrive in that kind of environment.
Part of our drive is to get our kids exposed to this before they go to college.

French 5 as an example would be a way to provide courses that we couldn't provide but could still offer as part of the curriculum.
Virtual High School works in two ways. You could pay a per student charge and therefore offer a class for less than providing a part teacher to provide. You could also provide a teacher to support a course and as compensation for that the district would gain some number of seats so students would take whatever courses would be available.

Review of PowerPoint charts depicting the forecasted drivers for the 6.4% increase noted before.

Health percentage that they employee pays and co-pays are negotiated. They employees have been working with us on this. The change in these numbers usually affects the premium so there are savings available. We have an older population so that drives so of our flexibility.

to be continued...

live reporting - Financial Planning Committee 11/20/08

Attending: Jim Roche, Roberta Trahan, Doug Hardesty, Rebecca Cameron, Jeff Nutting, Wayne Ogden, Miriam Goodman, Matt Kelly, Steve Whalen, Deb Bartlett, Gwynne Wilschek, Joyce Kelly

Not Attending: Shannon Zollo

Minutes for meeting of 10/16/08 - approved

3.2 Million or 6.4% would be required to provide the "level service" equivalent to this years services (which is down from prior years).

154 8th graders more than graduating seniors. likely to keep some number of them. Some will be "lost" to Tri-County or to private high schools.

What we charge for pay to ride is not sufficient to fully fund the operation.

Governor looking to provide incentives to regionalize. Push is aimed at communities west of Worcester. Depending upon what kinds of carrots they dangle for regionalization, that may be something we would look at.

Q - If we found a community to join with, what timeframe would we look at?
A - If we found someone willing to dance, it could be done as early as 18 months, or it could go 3 years or longer (if politically a tough road).

Our size may be a consideration against doing it. Outside of New England, size is less an issue. Think of school districts in FL and CA.

You need to advance the discussion to provide an alternative to an override.

to be continued...

Hat's Off to Franklin

The complete video of the ceremony unveiling the "Hat's off to Franklin" sculpture is now available here.