Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"The earthquake is over, the disaster is not"

Glenn Jones is returning to Haiti to help with the recovery efforts from the earthquake. He will be
"continuing to contribute my electrical skills to a small village called Leogane. Leogane was in the epicenter of the Earthquake that shook Haiti in January."
Glenn wrote this letter to explain his contribution and seek your help:

Glenn Jones Letter on 'Going to HAITI'

A video summary of the work of MissionE4:

This is a great example of a "good news" that I'd like to share more often. If you have a good news story, please let me know.

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

Franklin, MA

East of Shirley at the Harvest Cafe on Sat Sep 11, 2010

The group East of Shirley is one that I have featured as the intro and exit music for the weekly podcast. They have scheduled a gig this Saturday up Rt 85 in Hudson at the Harvest Cafe.

More information on this gig can be found here:

Note: now that the summer break is over, I do plan on returning to providing a weekly summary. In case you missed the Jan - June recap you can find it here:

Finance Committee 09/07/10

The live reported posts from the Finance Committee meeting of Tuesday Sep 7, 2010 can be found here

Franklin, MA

Dean College: President's Cup Golf Tournament

The 14th annual Dean College President’s Cup Golf Tournament is scheduled for Wednesday, September 15, 2010 at the New England Country Club, Bellingham, MA.

Check-in, registration and breakfast begins at 8 a.m. The tournament begins with a shotgun start and scramble format at 9 a.m., and concludes with a luncheon and awards at 2 p.m.

For more information or to register, please contact the Dean College Office of alumni relations at 1-888-711-3326, or go online to

Franklin, MA

In the News - DelCarte, water ban, community garden

Franklin dams may be fixed

from The Milford Daily News News RSS 

Franklin water ban lifted

Franklin, MA

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Live reporting - capital plan to closing

Head's up that we are looking to do a capital plan earlier than we have done before
the same five or six departments put in the capital requests, you should be able to do the due diligence

The staff will start working in October on the 2012 budget
Other than some increases in benefits, etc. we won't be adding folks,
Pension usually comes in about March, we would like to make decisions earlier than later
State potential shortfall of 2-3 Billion for next year, if that is true, it can't be good for us
Because we have lived with lots of State Aid, that hurts us more when the cuts come
It puts us at a greater risk for Fiscal 2012. Jim Vallee has done a great job for us, but if the state doesn't have money that won't help us.

Don't give me what you want, give me what you have now and any known increases
For example, an energy increase may be possible with a contract coming due next year.

The vote on the sales taxes could cut the overall State income in half and that would trickle down to us.
Let's look at a zero based budget, what are we actually required to provide by statue

The guts of government that cost the least are the ones you have to have, the quality of life is created by the other departments that do help us and cost the money.
It gets and will be very difficult. We have lost one of every ten jobs on the municipal side since I have been here. I don't see that changing.

The big piece of the puzzle is the schools. They have been working hard to do what they can with they have.
Maybe in a perfect world we have no net new revenue so we will struggle. We have done well with what we have. People are getting a great bang for the bucks they do spend.

When can we expect free cash to be certified?
Probably in November.

It is our policy to use free cash to fund the capital plan.
It is not free and it is not cash. The funds left over from the previous fiscal year are turned back and revenues in excess of anticipated. When it is all mixed together, it goes to the State, they then certify. Traditionally we have gotten around 2 million and we are a 100 million dollar business. We want to have some left over. It is better planning to have free cash than to be short. We are conservative in estimating revenues.
Usually set aside a half million for snow/ice right away. We are building that account up over time but we are not there yet. Depending upon the weather, we see what we have left. The capital plan goes up and down depending upon what we have left in free cash.

We can't use free cash to balance the operating budget. Free cash is one time and can be used for capital not operations.

It is confusing to some of the citizens but whether we have 40 or 45 police officers, they still need cruisers and cruisers do wear out over time and need to be replaced.

There are two items of concern: one the roll back on the sales tax and one the roll back of the liquor tax. The last time the roll back the income tax got 40 something percent of the vote.

Any further progress on regionalization?
Nothing yet, we have feelers out. It is a piece of the puzzle. We are doing the library and recreation. Fiscal stress is the mother of invention. The more stress, the more people may be ready to dance. There are so many pieces to the puzzle here in the commonwealth.

Hope to have a contract with the architect for the high school project completed next week. Still targeting next November for the voters to have their say on the renovations.

The Governor did sign off on the petition for our charter questions this November. We will have two questions (one with regard to the technical items) and two to make the treasurer/collector an appointed position. (The questions will be posted to Franklin Matters and discussed further as we get closer to November.)

Finance Committee would move to a three year term and be staggered to get into it. Some would take one year, some two year, and some three year terms to get it going.

It is important that the stabilization fund is not used for operations. Our overall balance is down 5 Million over the last several years. A reduction in rating now is about a half a percent on the bond rating.

We look at all the options. What is coming off, what will come on, what will it look like so we can explain to the citizens what the school issue would look like before the vote.

We upgraded out bond back in 2002. S&P has us at the same rating, Moody's dropped us.

New business
Oct 23 - Assoc of Finance Committee meeting at Tri-County

Cameron - re: funding just received by the School Committee, some of which is being saved and some is being used.
Nutting - If it came five months ago, it would have been a lot easier, three months later it would have been too late. They voted to use part of it and save the remainder for FY 2012. Any questions should be directed to the School Administration and School Committee.

The money was directed for teacher salary and benefits to be spent by 2012.

Motion to adjourn, passed 10-0

Franklin, MA

Live reporting - Finance Committee

Present; Cataldo, Rivera, Meserve, Huempfner, Quinn, Cameron, Texieria, Feldman, Roche, Goldsmith
Absent:  1 open spot (Meare resigned)

Holding off on replacement pending the charter review where it would be reduced to 9 members instead of the current 11.

Brief review on the changes in the open meeting laws.

Minutes to approve
April 27, 2010 (budget hearing) - motion to approve, passed 10-0
May 4, 2010 (budget hearing) - motion to approve, passed 10-0
May 6, 2010 (budget hearing) - motion to approve, passed 10-0
May 10, 2010 (budget hearing)motion to approve, passed 10-0 as amended (one figure referenced 48 million, when it should be 48,000.)

Transfer from Debt Stabilization to DelCarte, $140,000
needed for engineering design and permitting to start the detail design work on the property
two of the dams have been registered per state requirements
fix a couple of dams, remove a couple, all designed to reduce phosphorous input to the Charles River
Full cost of repairs will be covered later with grants, in-kind work and potential debt coverage

Where does this leave us with debt stabilization account?
We really don't need to any longer, could have removed it during the budget process but it came up to late
Our debt is going down to a low 3 percent (below the 3.5 percent threshold)

What are potential liabilities if we don't do this work?
The dams are registered. There probably wouldn't be a whole lot of impact unless there was a major flood condition. If there was only one pond, the amount of phosphorous input to the Charles River needs to be reduced.

What is the Open Space fund for?
Yes, we do have one, it is for the purchase of or improvement of land purchased. Since this land was gifted, we can not use the fund to improve this particular land. If we did by some other property, i.e the DelCarte house itself, then those funds can be used to improve that land. We would have to change the legislation to use the open space funds for the 130 acres. It was special legislation for the town created in 2001.

What is the total projected cost?
About 1.3 million.

What about the grants?
Grants go in a cycle, we will look to see if any other them can cover in this case. Maybe get the Army Corp of Engineers to help us, or in-kind work. We'll look at every and all possibilities to get this work done.

Is this a bondable project?
Yes, that is an option if we can not come up with the other sources.

About 6 months of design work, look to the remainder no earlier than June
Would we like to have a shovel in the ground next fall, yes. But we don't have the money. We don't have to bond this for twenty years.

Motion to transfer $140,000 from Debt Stabilization Fund to Del Carte, passed 10-0

Franklin, MA

Let's start a community garden in Franklin

The Boston Globe has a cover page article on local campuses that are growing food to help the students with their learning and well as their health.

Franklin has already established some raised garden beds and is looking to expand upon that start to get into a community garden.
There is an effort afoot to start up a community garden in Franklin! This is your chance to get in on the ground floor. The first planning session will be held on Wednesday at 7:00 PM at the Franklin YMCA. No gardening experience is necessary.
The Growing in Franklin website can be found here

Related posts on raised gardens and the community garden effort can be found here:

Franklin, MA

Picturing America and Taking Pictures around Franklin

1 - The National Endowment for Humanities has created a new initiative Picturing America.
NEH also wishes to recognize the following organizations and individuals for their support of the program:
The Institute of Museum and Library Services; the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Head Start, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and the National Park Service have helped to extend the reach of Picturing America. 
Explore the website here:

2 - Public photography day is coming up Saturday, Sep 11, 2010
An idea is in the works by a few people. What we are hoping to accomplish is a peaceful mass photo get together from Coast to Coast City to City Town to Town across Canada and anywhere else to bring attention and awareness to the fact that public photography is not a crime and photographers are not criminals. Lately, in different parts of the world, photographers are being detained and sometimes arrested under the guise of ‘suspicious behaviour’ merely for photographing in public. Photographers are just people with a pastime, a hobby or a job and photography is the means in which we express ourselves.
Details on the photo shoot for Saturday can be found here:

Franklin, MA

In the News - Dean College

Students move in to Dean College

Franklin, MA

Things don't always go as planned

Spending sometime in today's classroom environment would be rather interesting for most folks. Especially for those who claim to "have had 30 or more kids in their class and they did alright." Teaching in those days is considerably different from today.

  • There has been an increase in standards, 
  • There is more of a requirement to teach to the test
  • The students themselves are all post-Sesame Street

Coach Brown reflecting on a lesson plan that didn't work writes:
In the end, the lesson provided a decent idea of marginal analysis.  But it was clear that the lesson had little flow, was veering off track on every opportunity, and became a greater bane than a benefit to class time.  Was a total failure?  No, not by a long shot.  But by this point I want a certain vibe and flow to my class, and this new lesson didn’t provide that.  So it was a disappointment that I want to change before I teach it again in January to my next semester of Economics.  Hey newbs, even ten years in things will not always go as planned.  Get used to it and change it for next time.  You won’t have much time to mope about the negativity.  The next class begins in 7 minutes.  
Bold for my emphasis. Read the full posting here:

Read more of Coach Brown here:

Franklin, MA

Monday, September 6, 2010

What does the recession look like?

The percent of unemployed by county across the US shown as time progresses from Jan 2007 through May 2010 becomes quite the staggering picture.

You can view another version of this here

Against this background, the need to network, learning and sharing what those in the job search have experienced becomes all the more important. If you are unemployed, or know someone who is, let them know that the Job Search Jam Sessions can provide help. The event will be held in Hopkinton on Friday, October 1. The cost is only $7.00. Tickets can be purchased with credit card or paid at the door. We do strongly encourage registration so that the proper amount of food for the breaks and lunch can be planned for.

What are the Job Search Jam Sessions?
Across five time slots, there will be up to eight sessions offered. You'll be able to pick and choose what you need for that moment in time on your job search. The specific sessions will be finalized on Friday, Oct 1 to meet the needs of the participants. Stay tuned into this site to keep up with what sessions will be offered.

The schedule outline has been prepared.
If you'd like to suggest a session, you can do so here.

By the end of the day, the Job Search Jam Sessions will provide you with the information, the connections and/or the inspiration to reach the end of your job search successfully.

If you want to pay at the door, please click on the "Show Other Payment Options" link to register. This will give us a good count to plan for the food.

More information about the Job Search Jam Sessions can be found here:

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

Franklin, MA

Facts at a Glance: Jobs and the Massachusetts Economy on Labor Day 2010

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  Noah Berger

  (617) 426-1228 x102

  Tom Benner
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  (617) 426-1228 x100

Facts at a Glance:
Jobs and the Massachusetts Economy on Labor Day 2010

September 5, 2010

Labor Day 2010 will be a challenging day for working people across America.  The nation is in the third year of a terrible economic crisis, one that has claimed a larger percentage of US jobs than any other recession since the Great Depression.

Here in Massachusetts, the painful effects of the economic crisis are being felt daily, particularly by residents with lower levels of education.  At 9.0 percent, the overall unemployment rate in Massachusetts does not trail the national rate by much. 

At the same time, the picture in our Commonwealth is somewhat less bleak than that which we see in most of the rest of the nation.  While in Massachusetts we have lost 2.8 percent of the jobs that we started the recession with, that is less than half the rate of job loss of the nation as a whole (5.9 percent) -- and a better performance than most other states.  Wages also have held up better in Massachusetts than in most states.

A new fact sheet, Facts At a Glance: Jobs and the Massachusetts Economy on Labor Day 2010 is available at or by clicking here.

See MassBudget's Budget Browser to explore Massachusetts state budgets from Fiscal Year 2001 to the present, as well as budget proposals offered by the Governor and the Legislature.

MassBudget provides independent research and analysis of state budget and tax policies, as well as economic issues, with particular attention to the effects on low- and moderate-income people.
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In the News - Y triathlon

Franklin YMCA hosts Annual Youth Triathlon

Franklin, MA

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I love my white shoes

Reading is so important. Do you have good reading habits for your kids to pick up?

Cute girls

Author version

Kindergarten version

Our example to our children, to our families, and to the world around us is constant. The question is not whether or not anyone is watching, the question is what are they learning as they watch. -- Kirk Weisler

Franklin, MA