Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hi ho, Hi ho - an update on the raised gardens

On the food and nutrition front, remember the raised garden beds? Yes, they are still around and growing.

The pictures above and below are from the Benjamin Franklin Classical Charter Public School. Look closely and observe that the plant sign is in French. They have worked the foreign language curriculum into the garden process.

I met with Deb Schwab and four students to discuss using a blog to post the journal of their gardening activities and observations. I set one up for them. They need to complete their account set up and hopefully we'll get to do that before school breaks for the summer.

And what is this item? A tool worthy of hoeing the garden with! Ken Norman proudly shared this with the group. It has about a three foot handle so this was the best I could do with my camera phone at the time.

One tip I took away from the recent raised garden group meeting was in regards to weeding. If the weed has seeds, pinch the seeds and take them out of the garden area. If the weed doesn't have seeds, just hoe it back into the ground. The greenery will return the nutrients to the earth naturally.

And for your viewing pleasure: Rachel Ray was recently on Capitol Hill to help work on this issue

Hi ho, hi ho, off to blog I go!

Prior articles on the raised garden beds can be found here

Just after the raised gardens were put in

At the Franklin Food Pantry

Franklin, MA

Strawberry Festival - Third Thursday - 6/17/10

The Franklin Downtown Partnership’s eighth annual Strawberry Festival will be held on Thursday, June 17, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. For the first time the Partnership is combining this popular event with its Third Thursday line-up, and the group’s famous strawberry shortcakes won’t be the only draw this year.

Live music at five locations, games and balloons for kids, a sidewalk sale, museum tours and face painting are just some of the activities designed to give families plenty to do throughout the downtown.

“We want this festival to be all about families,” says Lisa Piana, executive director of the Partnership. “This is our big kick-off to summer and our Third Thursday events. We have more businesses participating this year than ever before, offering something for everyone.”

Some of those offerings include a fitness demonstration by Team Fitness, chocolate covered strawberries and a “strawberry pedicure” at Salon Sorella, and food specials at various restaurants. Emma’s Quilt Shop invites everyone to stop in and participate in the 1 Million Pillowcase charity sewing event.

The Historical Museum will offer tours and old-fashioned lemonade on the porch with entertainment by Jack Murray from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Rick’s Restaurant will sponsor a classic car “Cruise Night” and feature a live R & B band. An artist’s reception at Jane’s Frames will highlight the Franklin High School 2011 AP Portfolio Class and entertainer Jamie Barrett.

John Kinney will perform at the festival municipal parking lot on West Central Street from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., Jamie Barrett will play from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., and Dave Navikas will entertain patrons on the Café Dolce Patio from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Parking is available in the municipal lots downtown. In addition, the “Strawberry Express” GATRA bus will ferry visitors from the town common on High Street to various event locations downtown.

The festival is made possible through generous donations by Silver sponsors NHS Print, Garelick, Dean Bank, Dean College , Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation and Middlesex Savings Bank, as well as Bronze sponsors Ever So Humble, CVS Pharmacy, ReMax/Eileen Mason and Doherty, Ciechanowski, Dugan & Cannon, P.C.

If you would like to volunteer or want more information about the Strawberry Festival, contact Chairperson Nicole Fortier at For more information about the Franklin Downtown Partnership please contact Executive Director Lisa Piana at or call (774) 571-3109.

Photos from last year's Strawberry Festival can be found here:

Friday, June 11, 2010

people buy why you do it

Simon Sinek has an answer by asking the question, Why? Maybe the golden circle can help explain how some overrides pass and some fail.

What do you think about this?

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

Franklin, MA

Looking for work? Considering entrepreneur or franchise?

If you are looking for work or are considering going into business for yourself either as an entrepreneur or with a franchise, the speaker at the Hopkinton Networking Group meeting Friday, June 11 is one to catch.

Suzanne Gray gave a presentation on this topic at the recent Job Search Jam Sessions and it was well received.

If you missed that, you get another chance today!

When: 10:00 AM - Noon
Where: St John's Evangelist Parish Center, 20 Church St, Hopkinton
Cost: $1

Note: this was also posted on the Job Search Jam Session site here

Franklin, MA

Farmers Market - today - noon to 6:00 PM

The Farmers Market opens today from noon to 6:00 PM on the Town Common

Fresh local produce!

 Franklin, MA

In the News - Senior expo, budget, Gianotti

Franklin Senior Expo is today

Franklin OKs $88.1 million budget

Franklin, MA

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Live reporting - Town Council - FY 2011 Budget Hearing - Part 2

Present:  Kelly, Jones, Vallee, Whalen, Mason, Pfeffer, Powderly
Absent: McGann, Zollo

Jeff Nutting, Susan Gagner, Jim Dacey

no questions or comments before going through the budget line items, items can be held for discussion

Hold on police expenses - Vallee
My priority is health, safety and education
We are down to 45 with a population of 33, 000
I don't feel comfortbale with that

Vallee - how many on a shift?
Williams - I try to run 6-8 on a shift
Sooner or later we are going to get caught, I don't want anyone pointing fingers
We do 42,000 incidents, almost 6,000 - 911 calls
When the economy turns down, the activities turn up
There are more stress levels in the home environment, it takes an officer longer to resolve the issues
Am I comfortable, no

Vallee - I think we should have cut other departments to maintain staff here

Williams - We are also loosing three dispatchers this year, I will only have two people during the peak times
there will be times when citizens will call and they will wait, can't be helped

Vallee - Hold on fire salaries
McCarragher - with 12 per shift, and one off, we could still staff two vehicles
with 11 on shift, and one off, we can only staff one vehicle
it is a very complex event, 50% of our calls are coming in back-to-back
we need to figure out how to staff and not tax our surrounding help, it won't help them and it won't help us
What's going to happen on July 1, I still don't know yet

Vallee - I am getting complaints about too many people showing up on an ambulance call
McCarragher - the most important service is responding to the next one, we are living within the means we are given, we are relying upon partners and we are trying to figure this out

Vallee - I am unhappy with the situation, it is getting worse every year
McCarragher - yes, I can agree with you on that point

Jones - Is there a standard
McCarragher - we are staffed for 2 minor emergencies to handle at once, or one major emergency
With the budget being voted on tonight, I have nine instead of ten

Kelly - Hold on OPEB
our responsibility is a whole lot more is this just a place holder?
Nutting - yes, this is a start, I will be coming back with a more complete analysis we can transfer other monies there and invest a little more aggressively

Resolution on Elected Officials Salaries
Motion to approve, passed 7-0
MA general law have to be voted separately, they deferred their salaries last year and this get them whole this year like everyone else

(see document on link for full details of resolution)
Resolution on Town Budget for FY 2011
motion to approve, passed 7-0
Sewer rate increase likely next year

Council Comments
Powderly - Bellingham police office struck on traffic duty
Fire statistics are showing a decline in response

Vallee - can we take some money from the Stabilization fund to provide more safety
Nutting - the Council can do that at any time with a two thirds vote, taking money for one time events will create further problems down the road

Whalen - with regards to the Police and Fire budget cuts they should not be a surprise to anyone
They were well notified during the recent discussions
Taking money from the stabilization fund, we should not take that for operational deficits
If we did so, as we eventually go for financing the high school renovations, that would on an out of pocket calculation about a $2 million increase that we can avoid.

Mason - I spoke to a gentleman today who thought the best idea was to reduce the overtime
when staff goes down the overtime goes up, coverage is still required

The Budget hearing document for Thursday can be found here (PDF)

Franklin, MA

Franklin, MA: Town Council - Budget Hearing 6/10/10

The Town Council met on Wednesday and will meet again today (Thursday, 6/10/10) to finalize the budget for fiscal year 2011. The Finance Committee has already held their budget hearings to prepare for these meetings. The decision to hold an override vote to help balance the budget given the shortfall projected and real had been made. The vote was held on June 8th and there won't be additional tax revenue from the residents to work with for FY 2011.

The budget hearings will finalize the budget cutting personnel and services.

The Budget hearing document for Thursday can be found here (PDF)

My notes on the hearing Wednesday can be found here:

For reference the Finance Committee budget hearings can be found here:
May 4th
May 6th
May 10th

The Budget Workshop held on January 25, 2010 can be found here

Franklin, MA

In the News - layoffs, FHS renovation

Franklin plans for layoffs

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin High renovation plans progress

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin, MA

"you need to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable"

In this 12 minute video clip, John Perry Barlow says:

the internet is enabling the possibility of collective human thought
it was going to be a difficult road
it was going to question every system of authority

political process, you need each other
you need to learn how to disagree without being disagreeable
all politics is local

it is possible to see the future where money didn't matter in an election

the internet has made it practically impossible to govern something like the nation

we have to use the same mechanism where we ran a campaign from the bottom to run the government from the bottom

A worthy lesson given the recent events around the override vote

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

Franklin, MA

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Live reporting - Town Council - FY 2011 Budget Hearing

Present: Kelly, Jones, Whalen, Mason, Pfeffer, McGann, Powderly, Zollo
Absent: Vallee

Jeff Nutting, Jim Dacey, Susan Gagner

Part one of two part budget hearing, Wednesday and Thursday
Thanks to Susan and Jim for their work on preparation, the FINCOM also reviewed this, thanks to them for their help

Revenue side
The budget starts in the Fall and as we go through the year
We are always looking ahead to see what we are facing.
As bad as this is, we will be wishing next year that this year is back.
We are already thinking about that.

Revenue up a couple million, allowed to increase up to 2.5 percent - $1.8 million
Interest income, excise taxes, state aid loss again this year (lost in excess of $3 M in last three years)

May have to ask for the Council to change the budget procedurally in July
We are using the House budget, the Senate budget is different
We won't know exactly until the State makes their decision final.

We did take advantage of the meals tax, we have $300,000 from that which helps this year

We will start a $1.2 Million in the hole next year due to one time stimulus funds this year not available next year.

Expense side
All budgets reflect a deferment of the wages from last year's budget
They are in effect this year

The health care changes the employees agreed to and that has saved jobs

Overall the budgets are supressed
The Town loses nine positions, the Schools lose 15 and other changes that they'll will elaborate on as this goes
The DPW loses three people, there will be delays in lawn cutting, etc.
The Police are losing three dispatchers so that will delay some calls, hopefully not 911 calls

Q - Pfeffer
What are the increases reflected in this budget?
A - Nutting
There is no fiscal 2011 increase in this budget
Most of the contracts remain to be negotiated

Q - Pfeffer
I just hope whoever is going into negotiation knows that there is 0%
A - Nutting

Hold on Police Salaries - Whalen
Hold on unemployment compensation - Nutting
Hold on OPEB - Nutting

1 - Hold on Police Salaries - Whalen
The vast majority is the three dispatchers

2 - Hold on unemployment compensation - Nutting
Putting the Council on notice to add money to this account, with more layoffs coming, we will need more in this account, add $100,000 from free cash

3 - Hold on OPEB - Nutting
If money is put into this account, we can invest it more aggressively 
We need to look at this to meet our unfunded liability

Motion to close hearing, approved 8-0

Council comments
Powderly - thanks for all the activities, those who voted and those who did not vote also counted
The issues are not going to change next year

Zollo - thanks for all the effort
we will respect the will of the voters
As the overrides continue to come, as they will, I hope the increase

the Fire station, needs to be taken care of, why can't the fireman take care of it
The trees need to be taken care of, they are living trees

Thanks to all of those who came out to vote
We are going to make some cuts that will hurt

Overrides tend to bring out the worst in people
I wrote a letter that is posted on Franklin Matters, I am a better writer than speaker, so I urge you to go read the letter

Motion to adjourn, passed 8-0

Franklin, MA

Letter from Scott Mason

Dear Franklin Citizens,

As I write this, I am trying to clear my head after a very long day at the polls yesterday.

Nearly 40-percent of our registered voters exercised their constitutional right to vote in a special election that asked voters to approve a $3 million tax override. The question failed.

Several members of the Town Council, School Committee, Finance Committee, as well as many private citizens, worked very hard over the past month in an attempt to present the facts behind the need for this extra money. We held a public forum, spoke to PCC’s and met with folks in their homes. Many of us used vacation time from work, sacrificed time with families, and postponed personal plans to provide this service. We did this willingly and with enthusiasm for a cause we truly believe in – the Town of Franklin.

Along the way, we met people who welcomed us into their homes, invited their friends to hear us, and were genuinely concerned with the troubles our community faces.

We also met and heard from citizens who don’t believe in what we are doing. We were told that Franklin overspends, that Franklin must live within it’s means; that because private businesses are not providing raises to it’s workers, Franklin too, must continue to cut personnel and services. In some cases, we as the town government were blamed for problems at the state and federal level. Some of these citizens engaged us in polite, civil conversation, and some, unfortunately, made their feelings known in less mature ways.

Franklin has always benefited from a below-average tax rate and above-average services. Our employees work very hard with very limited resources. It is my deepest hope that despite these next round of cuts, they can somehow continue to do so. We enjoy great “bang for the buck” in this town. Unfortunately, seeing the cuts that have been made over the years, the effects on our schools and municipal infrastructure, I know that we are in for a very rocky road.

I want to thank the folks that gave so much of their time to fight for this cause, and I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote, either for or against the override. Let’s never forget the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedom. Democracy works.

Perhaps the best aspect of Proposition 2 1/2, is that it gives citizens the opportunity to determine the destiny of their community. This was played out in Franklin yesterday, and was and will be played out in many cities and towns in Massachusetts this spring. We as a Town Council will work with what we have as we have always done, and I as the Council Chairman will continue to do my best to represent the best interests of all our citizens.


Scott Mason
Town Council Chairman

Franklin, MA

School Committee - 06/08/10

Notes from the School Committee meeting conducted on June 8th can be found here:

These notes were reported on from the video archive as I was at the high school for the election results.

Franklin, MA

School Committee - closing items

4. Action Items

a. I recommend adoption of the Facilities MOU as detailed.
Motion to approve, passed 6-0

5. Information Matters

Superintendent’s Report
a. Foreign Language
b. Enrollment Comparison

School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
Cafasso - advertising moving to the field, local businesses are expressing interest

School Committee Liaison Reports - none

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

thanks to the community for another successful All night party
thanks to the  DPW custodial staff for a wonderful job preparing the buildings for the graduation, the all night party, etc.

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations

motion to enter Executive session, no intention to return to open meeting
approved, 6-0 via roll call

Franklin, MA

School Committee - discussion only items - part 2

  • Data Assessment & Resource Tool (DART)
  • MSBA Architect Selection Representative (already covered)
 DESE has now provided some of the comparison reporting that the District used to do manually
viewable from the DESE website
select the district
DESE selects 10 comparable districts automatically (exactly how they did so, is not yet defined)
scroll down, to chose other districts

schools working with the new data to determine the updates to their strategic planning process
data and fields still in process of updating
changes almost daily, if you download, check back for updates

Franklin, MA