Saturday, February 7, 2009

NewBCamp - last minute details

NewBCamp is tomorrow (2/8/09) down at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI.

The updated schedule is as follows:

Order of Events
9:00-9:30am Sign-in at Registration

9:30-9:40am Kick-off and UnKeynote Introductions

9:45-9:55am What is a blog? - with Michelle Riggen-Ransom and Adam Darowski of BatchBlue

10:00-10:30am Break-Out Sessions at Tables

10:30-10:40am 10 min Break

10:45-10:55am What is a good design - with John Speck of New Commons

11:00-11:30am Break-Out Sessions at Tables

11:30-11:40am 10 min Break

11:45-11:55am How to buy a Quality Computer: the State of the Art - with Mark
Leeuwenbergh of Free Geek

12:00-12:30pm Break-Out Sessions at Tables

12:30-12:40pm 10 min Break

12:45-12:55pm How do I protect my online info - with Steve Malloy of Atrion

1:00-1:30pm Break-Out Sessions at Tables

1:30-1:40pm 10 min Break

1:45-1:55pm Closing Remarks

2:00pm End NewBCamp

2:00-5:00pm Lunch and Afterparty at AS220

Parking tips can be found here

The Guide to NewBCamp can be found here

Registration fee - optional $10 donation to help defray costs.

I'll be at the Registration/Welcome desk wearing my tri-corner hat. If you are going, please be sure to say hi!

Kindergarten registration details

... kindergarten registration for the 2009-2010 school year will continue at Horace Mann Middle School on Monday, Feb. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. for the parents of children who have been born on or before Aug. 31, 2004.


... as a matter of policy only one of the following may be used as bonafide proof of residency:

  • a record of a recent mortgage payment and/or tax bill;
  • a copy of lease and record of recent rental payment;
  • a landlord affidavit (notarized letter) and record of recent rental payment;
  • a Section 8 agreement;
  • a signed HUD settlement statement;

and a valid driver's license; photo ID card; passport or other government-issued photo ID.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here

Friday, February 6, 2009

"It's just too big a deal to leave to chance"

I mentioned having a choice on where to go Thursday evening: The Financial Planning Committee or the WASTED panel discussion at Franklin High School. I chose the Financial Planning meeting and did my reporting here.

Our teen drinking problem, really more broadly terms substance abuse problem, because it is not just drinking, touches all the communities around us. Here is a report on the effort in Medway.


Marilyn Belmonte has a message for parents who say underage drinking is just a matter of kids being kids: It's a whole new world out there.

"There's a real change in the mentality," said Belmonte, a youth substance abuse prevention coordinator, to a group of parents assembled at Medway High School Wednesday night for "Turning Off the Tap," a presentation about underage drinking.

Recent incidents like the alcohol-related death of Plainville teen Taylor Meyer last October have moved the subject to the front burner, and the program detailed alarming new trends in teenage alcohol use, including extreme drinking games and binging.

"It really has changed," Belmonte said. Kids in the instant-gratification age are looking for quick fixes, and new trends, such as flavored alcohol. Walk into any store, she said, and you'll find shelves lined with attractive packages of vodkas in kid-friendly watermelon and cherry, perfect for teens looking to consume straight alcohol. Add in energy drinks as popular mixers and you've got the perfect storm, she said.

"They're mixing alcohol, which is a depressant, with energy drinks, which are stimulants, and the battle gets fought out in the heart," said Belmonte.

Parents can help by laying down the law. Recent studies show that the kids least likely to drink are those whose parents make it clear that such behavior is off limits.

Read the full article in the Milford Daily News here.

"What is the town is doing to control costs?"

I had a choice last night: Attend the WASTED panel discussion at the High School or continue my live reporting from the Financial Planning Committee meeting. It was not an easy choice. Our teens need attention and help. But if we don't have a good explanation for what the Town is budgeting for and why, some citizens will continue to dwell on negatives forcing the Town into some serious troubles with all operations never mind taking care of our future (via our children, young and old).

My report on the meeting can be found here.

The Milford Daily News report is here:

Franklin financial questions to be answered

The long-range financial planning committee is still hammering away at its three-year plan for the town, and will soon be soliciting feedback on its work from a selected cross-section of residents.

The committee already has a list of 50 frequently asked questions about town finances, compiled earlier by School Committee member Matthew Kelly, but they want to be sure they thoroughly address residents' concerns.

Committee members will narrow Kelly's list to about 15, answering common inquiries or misconceptions about town financial matters, including Proposition 2 1/2 tax override questions, in a public format.

"The purpose of this is to serve as a sanity check to make sure our report is answering the questions that interested citizens are likely to have, or should have," Kelly wrote in his report.

Financial Plng Comm 02/05/09

This is the summary of the live reporting for the meeting 2/5/09

The Green Reel: "Everything's Cool"

The Green Reel: a series of films for sustainable living will be shown on Sunday evenings this winter.

What: "Everything's Cool"

When: 7:00 PM on February 8, 2009

Where: Agudas Achim, 901 North Main St, Attleboro or directions here

Free and open to the public.
For more info: 508-695-2389

read more about the file "Everything's Cool" here

Agudas Achim
Crystal Spring Center
Simply Keep It Local
Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary
Citizens for a Sustainable Local Economy
Murray Unitarian Universalist Church
Green Committee of First Universalist Society of Franklin
New Dawn Earth Center
Oake Knoll Ayrshires
Franklin Area Climate Team
White Barn Farm
St Mark's Episcopal Church-Foxboro

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Public Transit Funding in Serious Peril

I received the following press release from GATRA this afternoon:

The proposed fiscal year 2010 budget released by Governor Deval Patrick has severely cut back on the Administration’s commitment to provide for local public transportation services. This proposed budget only provides for 49 million dollars of the 64 million dollars needed to fund the 15 regional transit authorities operating regular bus and demand response service throughout the Commonwealth. The Regional Transit Authorities are the only remaining reimbursable line item left in the state budget and this proposed budget is actually paying for services that are operating now. “Due to the fact that we are already eight months into our fiscal year drastic cuts in service will need to be made in order to make up for this reduction in funding,” noted GATRA Administrator Francis Gay.

GATRA’s Advisory Board will be meeting in late February to discuss the current budget implications and to devise a plan moving forward. In the meantime the GATRA Administrator is asking residents throughout the GATRA region to contact their local Representatives and Senators to ask them to adequately fund public transportation services in the region when devising the House and Senate versions of the budget. If the proposed budget number stays anywhere near what the Governor has recommended there will be significant deficits for all the Regional Transit Authorities statewide.

GATRA is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one of 15 Regional Transit Authorities in the state with an operating budget of more than $22 million. GATRA’s management companies operate more than 90 vehicles providing over 775,000 customer rides in 26 communities.
You can chose to do one of two things:

1 - Stay tuned to find out what this means to the Franklin routes.


2 - Take action and contact your local Representatives and Senators to ask them to adequately fund public transportation services for Franklin

Your choice.

Live reporting - Financial Plng - continued

There are elements within each department where no matter how well we do planning, the factors are beyond our control.

The schools are data rich. The key measures are MCAS scores, per pupil expense, comparisons on administration, teacher salaries, and class size.

The issue with the schools is the decrease in local support of the budget, i.e. the state is paying more and more as a percent of the total school expense. We will soon get to a point where we hit the minimum level for the town to support the school. When we hit that, by law, the town side of the budget will definitely take a hit as the schools will take the money.

Compelling story behind accreditation that we are missing out on except for the high school, and even there, we are in tough shape with a "warning" status now and unless something happens with the facility to help the science labs and technology

Graduation Rate at Franklin High School
  • 92% 2006
  • 94% 2007
  • 96% 2008
We have increased the graduation rate despite the losses of teachers. What that means is that there are 14-16 more students who walked out the door with a diploma in their hand than did in 2006.

March 5th is the planning point for trail review with the focus group. Maybe we should wait to set the forum date until we have the deliverable?

We need to have something when the numbers for the 2010 budget come out.

Live reporting - Financial Planning Committee - 2/5/09

Attending: Roche, Bartlett, Cameron, Hardesty, Nutting, Wilschek, Kelly, Ogden, Trahan,
Absent: Whalen, Zollo

Zollo sending info to Hardesty
Whalen acquiring data, Jeff to help with Town figures

The more data that is easily available, the better story we should be able to tell

Assumptions - these are the types that we would have. We already have the beginning of a model with assumptions already built into it. In some cases (i.e. the big ones only), we may pick a point to do a range, and explain the range, why, wherefores, etc. This range also allows a sensitivity analysis to be done on the numbers.

After 5-6 on the expense side and another 5-6 on the revenue side, there really isn't something that significant.

Kelly provided the Frequently Asked Questions. Many of which have been or at least can easily be answered, some will be addressed by the report. If any are left, they still should be answered via hand-out or other publication (i.e. I have offered to post the FAQ's with answers here).

The Governors proposal would increase a maximum of 2% in the hotel and the meals tax.

Franklin would stand to gain a total of about $1 million from the combined taxes.

Nutting: "I can't think of a year when the town did not have revenue growth. Even when they cut lottery, the school population growth was still generating Chapter 70 increases for Franklin."

We are almost ready to start the financial model. Year 1 in the model needs to be fiscal 2010.

HR Matters - provided previously, should be all set on this now. Did send this to Hardesty in softcopy.

This is where we have been, this where we are, this is where we are going. These are the three chapters of the story we need to tell.

Road discussion, even with our plan we are falling behind. We are using state money or water money to work the roads. If the water main work gets done, we do the road. If the water main doesn't need work, it won't get done. The Town hasn't budgeted for road repair since 2002 or 2003.

The underfunded liability for GASB 45 needs to be outlined.

"It's a good, positive program"

Milford Daily News
Posted Feb 05, 2009 @ 01:09 AM


At the recommendation of Police Chief Stephen T. Williams, Town Council unanimously voted to suspend the liquor licenses of two establishments for serving teenagers working in a sting.

At hearings last night, the owners of Pepper Terrace Restaurant at 400 Village Drive and Cottage Street Pub & Grill at 158 Cottage St. said they did not dispute the facts in the police findings. They apologized for the offenses and promised to ensure their employees complied with serving laws.

Police conducted three types of compliance checks - underage stings, checking hot spots for parties with underage drinking and "shoulder taps," where undercover operatives hang out at a liquor store and ask someone to buy them alcohol - on Jan. 17, Williams said.

Read the full article on this item from Wednesday's town council meeting in the Milford Daily News here.

Why not have a Middle and High school mentor program?

Every one should have a mentor. Our youth would benefit greatly from a mentor relationship. At least one high school has a "Dream Mentor Program". It would be worth looking at to try and do something similar for our middle and high school students.

What is the Purpose of the Dream Mentor Program?

The word “Dreams” provides a sense of comfort and confidentiality that is required when one is confiding trust and passion to another in hope reality can be achieved. The aim of the program will be to:

1. Fostering academic (thinking) development
2. Preparing students to be informed, caring, and productive citizens of society
3. Preparing students for higher education
4. Preparing students for the world of work.
Read more about the Dream Mentor Program here

Town Council Mtg Smry - 02/04/09

This is the collection of postings from the Town Council Meeting 2/4/09

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Live reporting - Administrator update/Council Comments

Administrator updates:

Community builders working by the ice rink should have construction complete by the end of the year.

No immediate need to take action on the $300,000 cut by the state, this will be absorbed.

FY 2010 will be short about $5.2 million, there will be layoffs to account for that deficit. Early in March will be looking for the council to set direction on priorities.

Also provided an update on the hotel/meal tax which could account for approx. $850,000 for Franklin.

Whalen - Are we getting a report from Mike on the New Year's incident?
Nutting - pulling together the insurance numbers now, we can come back early in March with the full package.

Zollo - perhaps Nutting should make a presentation on where the numbers are coming from for the budget to help ensure accurate information.
Nutting - should be able to do so for the March 4th meeting

McGann - Veterans monument ordered and possible for arrival by Memorial Day

Doak - capital subcommittee report, I want to thank Brutus (DPW Director) for creative thinking to arrange for additional savings for the replacement of two pieces of equipment.

Mason - thank the various department heads for putting together reasonable requests. Thanks to Brutus and the DPW for a fine job keeping the roads clean. It has been a tough season but they have done well.

Live reporting - ABC hearings

Capt Steve Williams
Lt Lynch

  • Have a grant to conduct a periodic "sting" - visit establishment and see if you can get served without getting ID checked
  • Monitor hot spots and parties
  • "Shoulder tap" - position an underage person outside liquor store to see if they could get someone to buy liquor for them.
Did the sting on all 31 establishments, 29 passed, 2 failed.

Cottage St Pub
operative was presented a beer, money was placed on the table

Owner admits they failed, won't contradict the police report

Recommendation, 3 day suspension with 2 days held in abeyance

There is money left in the grant, more stings will be conducted in coming months

Discussion on time period for abeyance, 2 years or 1 year to be held.

Motion to accept either the 7th, 14th, or 21st as the day to observe the suspension
Owner has 48 hours to confirm which date with the Town Administrator.

Motion passed by 7-0 vote

Pepper Terrace

operative was asked age, did not verify license

Owner admits that the facts are as stated

Recommendation: This is a second offense, the prior 2 days have been held in abeyance. The 1st violation was 2007. This time should have a full 7 day suspension observed on consecutive days.

Motion for suspension to be imposed from the 7th to the 13th of February.

Motion passed by 7-0 vote

Live reporting - Charles River Pollution Control

  • Charles River Pollution Control District
Per Jeff, won't be a rate increase for Franklin based upon what we have already planned for

The presentation: (thanks to Elaine Sistare for sending it)

Doug Downing
Al Wallace, Franklin representative
Elaine Sistaire

Also present:
Pat Hughes
Bob McRae
Paul Disimone (?), Medway rep

Significant budget increases due to
  • Capital
  • Salary and benefits
  • Chemical costs
  • Maintenance Costs
$490,000 over the Prop 2 1/2 increase

Franklin's portion of the operation is
68.2% - Operations & Maintenance wastewater assessment
67% - capital wastewater assessment

Nutting - the Council did vote for this in 1989, a couple of conflicts in advice have come in today so we are double checking with DOR. It may be back before you for a vote.

Actual plant capacity - 5.7 Million gallons per day

Franklin as part owner has excess capacity, we may be able to sell our excess capacity to generate additional revenue

The cost increase for Franklin's share would be a 20% increase over what we have as an assessment today. We do have time to plan for it per Jeff as this would only kick in for 2015 and beyond.

If we did not get into compliance, there would be a daily fine, approx $25,000 per day. Therefore it would not be an option to not be in compliance.

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