Saturday, December 12, 2009

Snow Removal Bylaws

Uses of Streets, Chapter 155-20
No person shall plow, push, deposit, throw or pile snow or ice into or across any public street, sidewalk or property nor direct nor cause the same to be done unless in the employ of the Town.

This bylaw is important and necessary to ensure safe roads and sidewalks. It also helps the DPW to reduce its cost of snow and ice operations.

Violators may be fined up to $300 for each day such violation continues.

No All Night Parking, Chapter 170-7

It shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, to park said vehicle on any street between the hours of 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM of any day between November 15th and April 15th.

It shall be unlawful for the driver of any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, to park said vehicle on any street during a snow storm in a way that obstructs snow removal equipment.

Parking on Sidewalks
Parking on sidewalks is illegal at all times and prevents the clearing of snow and ice.

This can be found on the Town website along with the following Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Can I push snow from my property onto the sidewalk.
A. NO. A Town bylaw restricts this act. Additionally, such action may bring liability if an accident should occur. This also increases the town’s costs for snow operations.

Q. Do some streets receive priority during a snow storm?
A. YES. Major roadways and hills are a top priority.

Q. Does the Town really need a parking ban?
A. YES. Snowplowing and removal are difficult; parked cars on the roadways not only increase the number of hazards, but also the time it takes to remove the snow.

Q. Do sidewalks receive the same priority as streets?
A. NO. The roads are always plowed first. Only certain sidewalks are plowed when the storm has ended.

Q. Why is snow pushed into my driveway?
A. The situation is unavoidable. The plows remove the snow from curb to curb for maximum clearance of the roadway. This provides for maximum drainage and public safety.

Q. Will trash and recyclables be collected during a snow storm?
A. YES. Trash should be placed so it does not hinder the street plows or sidewalk plows.

Q. Who determines the opening, closing or delayed opening of school during snow and ice storms?
A. The school superintendent.

Intimacy, control and learning environments

Some food for thought

from TED Talks, Stefana Broadbent: How the Internet enables intimacy

Intimacy? Control? Learning environment?

Note: for email subscribers, you will need to clock through to the website to view the video

Friday, December 11, 2009

"There is no limit on changes in the tax rates"

It is tax rate season. Franklin's property tax rate was set last week and Boston's tax rate was set this week. There was a good write up on Boston's tax rate situation especially given the mishandling in the Boston Globe story. I thought this paragraph was succinct:
Proposition 2 1/2 limits the overall annual levy increase in a community to 2.5 percent plus taxes on any new development. There is no limit on changes in the tax rates, which are simply adjusted up or down, depending on what has happened with assessed values, in order to arrive at the total levy target from residential and commercial properties that city budget writers have drawn-up.
You can read the full article by Michael Jonas in Commonwealth Unbound here

Sustainable Farming event rescheduled

Metacomet Land Trust has re-scheduled its program on Sustainable Farming due to the after effects of Wednesday's snow storm...

Please join us Wednesday, December 16th, at the Mendon Senior Center, 62 Providence Street, Mendon for this program with Carolyn and Rob Nicholson of Sweetwilliam Farm (Upton). Rob and Carolyn will discuss Sustainable Farming in our region.

Come hear the perspective of a practicing farmer when Rob and Caroline present our Annual Meeting program. We'll also discuss the important connection our land preservation efforts have to supporting agriculture in the region.

Metacomet's short annual meeting will begin at 6:30, followed by the program with Carolyn and Rob at 7:00. Please stay for refreshments and conversation after the program.

This program is free; a small donation is requested at the door.

In the News - choice of Nutcracker productions

Franklin has dueling 'Nutcracker' ballets

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Town Council Goal Setting - 12/09/09

The Town Council met on Wednesday evening for a "Goal setting session". Councilors Whalen and Zollo arrived late as the meeting started earlier than normal at 6:00 PM. Councilor Vallee left about 7:00 PM. The remaining Councilors went into Executive Session approx. 7:45 PM not to return to open meeting.

I chose not to live blog the meeting as I wasn't sure how long it would be. I took my notes the old fashioned way.

Briefly, it wasn't as much a goal setting session as it was a getting up to speed session for the new council. A review of standard policies and procedures was covered to set the stage for an effective operation as the Council would handle business going forward.

The key take-aways for me were:

The Council will bring forward and approve the existing fiscal policies that had guided the prior councils. These determine the operating guidelines for how much the stabilization fund should be, how much long term debt we should service from the operating budget, etc. A copy of the policy document will be provided later.

Councilors Whalen and Zollo will bring forward the prior subcommittee work on the the Charter revisions for presentation and discussion with the full Council.

The Planning and Community Development Dept will be bringing forward a number of by-law change proposals. The proposal on signs will likely be of interest to many. The Franklin Downtown Planning group received a preview of it and had a good discussion on the proposal.

The plans for the downtown renovation will be coming to the Council in the next 90-120 days. A decision on whether to put the utilities underground will need to be incorporated into the overall project plan. The Council decision will be (1) to put them underground (2) how to fund the work associated with the utilities (existing grants can not be used so it would either be debt or cash).

Much of the discussion was on the overall financial picture for the town. Currently, the Town has a revenue problem (insufficient tax base and over-reliance on State revenue) but even in good times the Town has an expense problem with health and pension benefits in particular rising at a 10-15% rate and the tax levy limited to 2.5%. The draft capital plan was reviewed including how the town will have room in their debt structure beginning 2011 to take on projects up to a total of $6 million (and finance them via debt).

Ashley Studley from The Milford Daily News reported on the meeting:

Franklin eyes expensive projects

from The Milford Daily News Homepage RSS

Panther Pride 2009

This video was shown during the School Committee meeting of October 27, 2009 and available during the Panther Pride night to provide an overview to the current 8th grade class.

Panther Pride 2009 from Franklin High School on Vimeo.


Note: email subscribers will need to click through to the Franklin Matters site to view the video.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

School Committee Mtg 12/08/09

The collection of live reported posts for the School Committee meeting on Tuesday Dec 8, 2009 can be found here:

Knuf Said at Soco Rose, Dec 11th

The local group Knuf Said will be performing this Friday night, Dec 11th at the Soco Rose on Union Ave beginning at 9:30 PM.
KnufSaid is made up of 4 young musicians who write and perform original music.  They are influenced by Jazz, Blues, Rock and Funk Styles.  They have performed at venues such as Cheers, Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, The Situate Art Festival, and many other local venues.  They have opened for the John Allmark Jazz Orchestra and the Velveteen Playboys to name a few.  They recently placed highest musical act and 3rd overall in the statewide competition, Rhode Island’s got talent.  Band members include John Kinney on Vocals and lead guitar, Butch Giguere on Bass, Tyler Whetstone on Drums and Vocals and Steve Linscott on Alto Sax.
 Knuf Said performed at the recent Harvest Festival.

Knuf Said on Myspace

Knuf Said at RI's Got Talent:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Live reporting - Closing

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports - none
School Committee Liaison Reports - none

6. New Business
To discuss future business that may be brought before the School Committee.

Cafasso - Would request to the Budget Committee, to see if it is feasible to use the vast number of empty seats to add a pay to ride and utilize those empty seats for the ride home.

Trahan - thanks for supporting the FEF Casino Night, please hold the date for the Trivia Bee - April 10th

Motion to enter executive session to not return to open meeting
Passed 7-0

Live reporting - Information matters

Letter received from NEASC continuing accreditation for Franklin High School

Principal Peter Light was creative to re-invent the high school within the budget considerations. Accreditation is a ten year cycle. A self-study is prepared and then updated with a visit from NEASC. We have been on a warning status due to budget problems. We have been providing status reports yearly. We submitted this last status late as the budget had been approved late. We feel pretty confident as we move forward. We are seeing a doubling of usage for the library/resource center under the new configuration.

We still have $38,000 for subscriptions to periodicals and other materials to keep our collection current.

We have basically four major things left to respond to, the four items are related to the renovation of the building.

We'll start the process five years out for the next accreditation cycle.

Glynn - congratulations and thank you!

Building Committee meeting on Dec 14th to move forward on the project to hire the OPM and hire the architect.

Live reporting - Action items

4. Action Items
a. I recommend adoption of Option One of the 2010-2011 School Calendar.  motion to approve, passed 6-1 (Cafasso no)

b. I recommend approval of Remington Middle School’s request to declare the listed books as surplus. motion to approve, passed 7-0

c. I recommend acceptance of two checks ($25.00 & $53.30) totaling $78.30 from Adirondack Vending for the RMS for supplies.  motion to approve, passed 7-0

d. I recommend acceptance of a check for $300.00 from Fidelity for the Annie Sullivan Middle School for in-house enrichment, supplies and supplemental curriculum materials.  motion to approve, passed 7-0

e. I recommend acceptance of a check for $1050.00 from ASMS PCC for buses for field trips.  motion to approve, passed 7-0

f. I recommend approval of Policy JIEE
motion to approve, passed 7-0 

Live reporting - policies

This was added to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. The School Committee plans to review one third of their policies each year, hence covering all policies over a three year cycle.

took out bullet point on reimbursement for travel

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

took out bullet point on reimbursement for travel

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

change from 2/3 vote to a majority vote

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

Superintendent has authority to purchase

motion to move to second reading, passed 7-0

no changes to this one covering the pregnant students

up for vote on the listing of action items

Live reporting - Discussion only items

3. Discussion Only Items
a. 2010-2011 School Calendar Options - Maureen Sabolinski
discussion on the two options, proposing to have a professional day on Nov 2 which will be a major election day for the safety of the students and voters at the high school

Recommendation to start school before Labor Day.

Q - is this the first year we have had the Wednesday before Thanksgiving off?
A - No, we have had it for a number of years. It had been a low attendance day and this helps those who would travel.

b. H1N1 – Sally Winslow
First clinic Thursday, 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Clinic to be manned by an all volunteer staff
Other dates are being evaluated as additional vaccine arrives. At the additional clinics we'll vaccinate other target groups and then the students by grade level.

via the attendance records, the virus seems to be declining throughout the district.

DPH will be onsite monitoring and coming to assist. Feedback thus far is that we have been far ahead of others in our organizational efforts.

c. Healthy Futures Summit – Maureen Sabolinski, Roberta Trahan
Mark Fenton has a show on PBS, did a bus tour of the communities before hand to explore the recreation opportunities, to provide some feedback on how to make Franklin more walkable.

Drafted an action plan. It was an incredible day, very engaging. Started implementing some of the plan, initiating changes to our food lunches at schools.

This is not just a school problem It will require a partnership to resolve.
What we are doing is better than implementing BMI.

There are some grants they we have applied for in conjunction with the YMCA, $120,000 for MASS in Motion. Metrowest Hospital grant was also just received just before the summit.

Live reporting - Metrowest Health Update

b. Metrowest Health Update – Michele Kingsland-Smith

The survey is optional, parents/students can opt out of participation

tobacco use is declining
bullying is increasing

drinking has declined but the stats are still fairly high

experimentation with drugs does begin at the middle school

The Community Health Council is meeting every other month to address issues from this report. 

Dean College has been helpful to charter the first "teen angels" in New England for our middle school students. More info on this national program can be found here.

Information on Rachel's Challenge can be found here.

Q - How many students actually took the survey?
A - About 80-90%, I don't have the exact numbers but the response rate is really high.

Q - Have there been discussion about the validity of the data?
A - The fact that the data is consistent with the regional, national results leads one to believe that the numbers are good. There is also work on the survey design to ensure that the questions are worded such to ensure good results.

Cafasso - There is no consequence for somethings that are said in Facebook. It may not be done in school, it is likely after school. The parents may not be away of it.

Kingsland-Smith - parents are not aware of what their kids are involved in, and I mean that in the kindest way. 

Note: email subscribers will need to click through to Franklin Matters to view the presentation.