Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Local veteran to receive high honors at Charity Gala for Huntington’s Disease

On Thursday, The Huntington's Disease Society of America (HDSA) and the Massachusetts State House will honor local veteran, Jose Valdivieso, for his brave military service and courageous struggle with Huntington's Disease (HD). A 2003 Medway High School Graduate, Jose retired honorably from the U.S. Army shortly after being diagnosed with the disease in 2011. Jose will receive the HDSA Person of the Year Award and State Representatives Jeffrey Roy (D-Franklin), John Fernandes (D-Milford) and James Cantwell (D-Marshfield) will present Jose with a joint citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. 
Huntington's Disease Society of America
Huntington's Disease Society of America
"I am honored to represent Jose and his family in the House of Representatives and delighted that the Huntington's Disease Society is recognizing him as its person of the year," said Representative Jeffrey Roy (Franklin – D).  "It's the dedicated and noble service of individuals like Jose who answered the call of duty and served in harm's way so that we could be free. Jose is a local hero who carried on that tradition of service and set himself apart through meritorious achievement. While he's living with an impossible disease he perseveres with a smile on his face and enriches the lives of others." 
Joining the military promptly after high school, Jose completed a 15 month tour in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan totaling 18 months. He received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained as a gunner when his Humvee was struck by an explosive device. Jose was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal for heroism and meritorious achievement, and honored with other veterans from the Wounded Warriors Project on a segment of Good Morning America in 2011.

HD is a devastating, hereditary, degenerative brain disorder that results in a loss of cognitive, behavioral, and physical control. The disease was passed down to Jose from his father, who died from the disease when Jose was 10 years old. Jose's older brother, Patricio, also suffers from HD. Along with the physical injuries and post traumatic stress from combat service, Jose copes with HD symptoms like loss of balance and coordination, sleep disorder, and speech impairment. Slowly diminishing his ability to walk, think, talk, and reason, Jose will eventually become totally dependent upon others for his care. More than 30,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed with HD.  Each of their siblings and children has a 50 percent risk of developing the disease, therefore 250,000 are at risk.   "I join Representative Roy in expressing the honor it is to represent a person of such courage," stated Representative Fernandes.  "Jose's dedication to service on behalf of our country and his strength in taking a lead in the effort to show others how to live through and with Huntington's is inspirational."
Jose often turns to laughter to cope with the challenges of Huntington's. As he says, "joking and laughing helps in staying positive. You just have to keep on smiling." Like any good soldier, Jose perseveres, and his courage serves as a model for those who cross his path.  He currently lives in Medway with Patricio and his younger brother, Javier, a local Police Officer and member of the Coast Guard.

The Huntington's Disease Society of America is the largest 501(c)(3) non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to improving the lives of everyone affected by Huntington's Disease. Founded in 1968 by Marjorie Guthrie, wife of folk legend Woody Guthrie who lost his battle with HD, the Society works tirelessly to provide help for today and hope for tomorrow. HDSA supports 21 Centers of Excellence at major medical facilities including Massachusetts General Hospital, funds research into the biology of the disease to facilitate the development of treatments and cures, hosts more than 170 support groups for people with HD, their families, caregivers and people at-risk, and is the premiere resource on Huntington's disease for medical professionals and the general public. To learn more, about Huntington's disease and to get involved in HDSA, please visit or call 1-800-345-HDSA.

MassBudget: Unlocking Potential: The Cost and Availability of Juvenile Detention and its Alternatives in MA

MassBudget  Information.
 Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center  Democracy.

Unlocking Potential: The Cost and Availability of Juvenile Detention and its Alternatives in Massachusetts
MassBudget's new KIDS COUNT report explores budget trends for juvenile detention over time. It looks at newer alternative programs for kids entering the juvenile justice system, and compares costs across the detention continuum. Juveniles are in "Detention" when they are in custody of DYS before trial or before a probation violation hearing. Many such children are charged only with misdemeanors, and there is significant evidence that for many juveniles placement outside of a jail-like facility is at least as effective from a public safety perspective -- and better for the child. The report finds that there are significantly different costs for different types of placements:
  • Placement in a jail-like facility ("Secure Detention") is the most expensive.

  • A community placement in foster care is less than half the cost of a secure placement.

  • Alternatives to detention, which allow kids to receive services while at home, are even less expensive than foster care.
The report also finds that the number of alternative placements is increasing but that implementation has been slow and uneven. Read the report here.

companion KIDS COUNT report from Citizens for Juvenile Justice examines how and why detention is harmful to kids, the characteristics of children detained, and what alternatives to detention are working well in Massachusetts.  

National and state data on juvenile justice are available at the Kids Count Data Center. MassBudget's Children's Budget includes a section on juvenile justice. 
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget) produces policy research, analysis, and data-driven recommendations focused on improving the lives of low- and middle-income children and adults, strengthening our state's economy, and enhancing the quality of life in Massachusetts.

BOSTON, MA 02108
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Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center | 15 Court Square | Suite 700 | Boston | MA | 02108

In the News: Emmons St

A majority of Town Council members consider the idea of cultural or green space at 150 Emmons St. unrealistic, and the consensus has always been to lease or sell the property for new revenue. 
Chairman Robert Vallee said on Tuesday that the council — apart from a few members — has all but decided to issue a request for proposals to develop the property, the former home of the Town Hall. 
"We want to see what's out there," Vallee said.
Read the full article here (subscription maybe required)

150 Emmons St - the building that is under discussion
150 Emmons St - the building that is under discussion

If you want to add your name to the petition to have the decision to sell postponed, you can find the link here

Medway Middle School - Do You Know What Common Core Is?

Concerned about the common core standards and the move to go to PARCC to replace MCAS? This meeting is for you

The Milford Daily New has an article today on the Medway parent group that is active in this exploring this issue  (subscription required)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Soak it up Franklin!

Collaboration is a wonderful thing! A new website touting the benefits of water conservation for Franklin is now online.

Soak it up Franklin
Soak it up Franklin

This is a collaboration among the Franklin DPW and the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA).

screen shot of new website
screen shot of new website with info on rain gardens

Training on how to build a residential rain garden - May 3
The Town of Franklin and Charles River Watershed Association will hold two rain garden demonstration and training sessions for Franklin homeowners conducted by groundSwell Designs, LLC. Attendees will learn how to design, plant, and maintain rain gardens. Each training participant will be entered to win a $100 gift certificate to purchase rain garden plants.

Both trainings are free for Franklin residents. Space is limited and advanced registration is required. Please register below or call Kate Sjoberg at 508-553-5500.

There is additional info on the site about the other ways Franklin is working to conserve water and reduce pollutants reaching the water supply. Tree wells, road narrowing are covered in addition to the rain gardens.

Be sure to visit "Soak it up Franklin"!

Walking Upper Union to the solar farm

Once to the top of Mount St, I decided to walk down to the solar farm. The road was quiet. The fields lie fallow and brown.

brown and waiting for spring
brown and waiting for spring

The new poles lined this section of Upper Union
The new poles lined this section of Upper Union

The sun tried its hardest to burn through the clouds
The sun tried its hardest to burn through the clouds

The new poles lined the solar farm
The new poles lined the solar farm

solar panels working but you'd hardly notice
solar panels working but you'd hardly notice
I turned around here to head for home. Stay tuned for the next segment from the Saturday walk.

Solar farm photos from June 2013

from July 2013

from Oct 2013

FPAC - Opera for Kids - Sunday, April 6

Franklin Performing Arts Company’s annual Family Concert Series concludes this season with “Opera for Kids: Dr. Seuss’s Gertrude McFuzz and Green Eggs and Ham” on Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. at 38 Main Street in Franklin. The performance is offered free to the community. An FPAC tradition for more than two decades, Family Concert Series events are especially geared to children in length and presentation, and provide young audiences with a fun introduction to the world of live music. The performances expose audiences of all ages to music of many genres and feature talented, professional musicians in an entertaining and interactive format.
Franklin Performing Arts Company

Opera for Kids features performances of two classic Dr. Seuss stories. Set to music by Robert Kapilow, Green Eggs and Ham brings to life the beloved children’s tale with iconic character Sam-I-Am. A great companion piece to Green Eggs and Ham, Gertrude McFuzz introduces the memorable “girl-bird” who learns to like herself just as she is, with her one-feathered tail. Engaging audiences of all ages, each opera is about 20 minutes in length and in rhymed verse. The performance features two members of the Franklin School for the Performing Arts (FSPA) voice faculty, Shauna Martin and Mariko Matsumura, along with three FSPA students, Madison Asgeirsson of Franklin as Gertrude McFuzz, Lily Barney of Franklin as Sam, and Sara Weissinger of Hopkinton as Lolla Lee Lou. Bryan Eyberg will accompany the vocalists.

A member of the FSPA Music Faculty since 2006, Shauna Martin received her master’s degree in Opera from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Music degree from Brandon University. Her performances include a wide variety of operatic and musical theater roles in works by classical as well as contemporary composers. A native of Winnipeg, Canada, Martin is a founding member of the popular children's show Opera Night in Canada and has performed with Canada’s regional orchestras and on CBC Radio.

A native of Tokyo, Japan, Mariko Matsumura received her bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance with high honors from the University of Montana and a master’s degree in Vocal Performance from Longy School of Music. Mariko's performance credits include Messiah, Aida, Hansel and Gretl, Der Rosenkavalier, The Magic Flute and numerous premiere performances throughout the Boston area. Mariko has been a member of the FSPA faculty since 2002.

FPAC’s 2014 Family Concert Series is sponsored by Berry Insurance and the Franklin Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. For more information, call (508) 528-8668 or visit

Monday, March 24, 2014

Franklin, MA: Planning Board - Agenda - Mar 24, 2014

The published agenda for the Planning Board meeting on Monday, Marc 24, 2014

Franklin Municipal Building, 355 East Central St
Franklin Municipal Building, 355 East Central St

Where is 648 Old West Central St?

Mount St - new poles, renovated barn

On my reporting by walking around excursion on Saturday, I took my Summer St, Mount St to Upper Union St loop back to King St. A good walk, plenty of hills with Summer and Mount St and a nice long decline coming down Upper Union.

Mount St residents were upset a few months ago with the tree cuts and new utility poles being put in to carry the power from the new solar farm at the Abbey. While the solar farm at the Abbey had been in the news, nothing had been mentioned about how the power was going to run from the Abbey to get to the power grid.

A few trees were cut down on Mount St and new utility poles were put in to raise the power lines up further from street level than the existing lines.

In this first photo, the new poles are standing at the beginning for the incline

new utility poles on Mount St
new utility poles on Mount St

A close up of the renovated barn. Nicely done!

renovated barn on Mount St
renovated barn on Mount St

Related posts:

Solar farm at Mount St Mary's Abbey

Trees cut on Mount St

Franklin Library: Music & Movement with Ms. Marsha

For the young children "Music and Movement with Ms. Marsha" is scheduled for Tuesday, March 25th at 10:30 AM.

Celebrate through music and movement
Celebrate through music and movement

for additional information on events at the Franklin Library, follow their webpage here

In the News: urgent care

Dismayed by the time it takes to transport patients in need of immediate care to area hospitals, Town Council members have asked a subcommittee to research outpatient options, such as a satellite emergency room. 
The council's chairman, Robert Vallee, has made the matter a priority this year, instructing the Citizens Committee to pursue the problem.

You can read the remainder of the article here (subscription required)

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Franklin, MA: School Committee - Agenda - Mar 25, 2014

Vision Statement
The Franklin Public Schools will foster within its students the knowledge and skills to find and achieve satisfaction in life as productive global citizens.

"The listing of matters are those reasonably anticipated by the Chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items not listed may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law."

1. Routine Business
Citizen’s Comments
Review of Agenda
Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the March 11, 2014 School Committee Meeting.
Payment of Bills Mr. Clement
Payroll Mrs. Douglas
FHS Student Representatives

2. Guests/Presentations:

a. Awards
National Merit Scholars
1. Patrick Milne
2. Ruchira Parikh
School Sports Awards
1. Cam Kelly – Wrestling
2. Griffin Tighe – Wrestling
3. Jack Reidel – Shot Put
4. Leah Zogby - Swimming
b. Horace Mann Update – Shawn Fortin, Kaitlyn Demers
c. Math Presentation – Joyce Edwards
The documents can be found here

d. Report Card Feedback – Joyce Edwards

3. Discussion Only Items
Policy – First Reading
o LB – Relations with Other Schools and School Districts
School Choice 2014-2015 Vote
2014-2015 DRAFT School Committee Meeting Schedule
Budget Questions

4. Action Items
a. I recommend approval of changes to the K-5 report cards as detailed.
b. I recommend moving Policy LB as discussed to a second reading at the April 8, 2014 School Committee Meeting.
c. I recommend adoption of the FY15 School Budget in the amount of $55,600,000.00 as discussed at the budget hearing on March 11, 2014.
d. I recommend that we not accept any new School Choice students for the 2014-2015 school year.
e. I recommend approval of the request of Mr. Light that the FHS Classics Club travel to Hyannis, MA for the Junior Classical League State Convention from April 11 to 13, 2014 as detailed. This is a recurring field trip.
f. I recommend acceptance of a check for $242.28 from Wells Fargo Community Support Program for the FHS.
g. I recommend acceptance of a check for $825.00 from the Oak Street PCC for field trips.
h. I recommend acceptance of a check for $150.00 from the Parmenter PCC for buses for field trips.
i. I recommend acceptance of a check for $175.00 from the Parmenter PCC for buses for field trips.
j. I recommend approval of the Budget Transfers as detailed.
k. I recommend acceptance of a check for $400.00 from the Keller PCC for the 5th grade party.
l. I recommend adoption of the 2014-2015 Draft School Committee Meeting Schedule as discussed.

5. Information Matters
Superintendent’s Report
School Committee Sub-Committee Reports
School Committee Liaison Reports

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

7. Executive Session
Contractual Negotiations

8. Adjourn

Franklin Municipal Building
Franklin Municipal Building

Elementary Math Adoption documents

These documents are part of the School Committee Agenda for Tuesday, March 25

Math Text Selection Rubric

K - 5 Math Adoption Plan

Elementary Math Adoption Plan

Downtown Partnership - Letter to Town Council

The following is the letter the Board of Directors sent to the Franklin Town Council last week.

Mr. Robert Vallee, Chair
Franklin Town Council
Office of the Town Administrator
355 East Central Street
Franklin, MA 02038

March 18, 2014

Dear Mr. Vallee:

The Franklin Downtown Partnership has had thoughtful discussions with many of our members over the last few months regarding the town-owned Emmons Street property.  We have listened to the concerns of important downtown stakeholders such as The Franklin Performing Arts Company, Simon’s Furniture, Artistry Kitchen and Dean College.  These are businesses that have invested heavily in the downtown area and will continue to do so in the future.  We have also spoken to residents, downtown business owners, building owners, members of the Downtown Partnership, the Historical Commission and the Franklin Art Association.
Franklin Downtown Partnership
Franklin Downtown Partnership

There is a consensus among these stakeholders that the town of Franklin should not approach this very important matter hastily and rush into writing an RFP to sell the Emmons Street property, which will serve as an important "Gateway" to downtown Franklin. This was evident during the March 4th town workshop when community members developed several different concepts which did not involve selling the property.

In the opinion of the Partnership, the time required to offer due diligence to the many interesting proposed uses of the property and the immanent physical changes to the downtown infrastructure render the Emmons Street property a subject that requires more time to determine the most beneficial course of action.

Therefore, we are requesting that the Town Council suspend issuance of an RFP for one year until after the following facts are known:  

1)    What the new traffic patterns will be on Emmons Street and West Central after the Streetscape project and the two-way traffic pattern is implemented.
a.    This information is vital before any new retail is established in this busy intersection and causes additional traffic issues.
b.    The  new traffic patterns that will result from the implemented streetscape project will provide the Town with more reliable data to help determine the best means of access to, and circulation within, the Emmons Street Property and to ensure that traffic does not back up to the Davis Thayer School.

2)    What the parking needs will be during the next 12 months with the current and new businesses, especially during construction.
a.    It is important to understand the growing parking needs of current businesses before losing the 50 parking spaces to new retail development.
b.    It is critical that the downtown businesses have a place to park during the streetscape project construction.
3)    What funding is available for non-commercial development such as greenspace/park, cultural arts center or a combination.
a.    It is important to give the community a chance to develop ideas and research funding sources.

Moving ahead without knowing these facts is not only doing a disservice to the community, but may be devastating to the economic development of the downtown.  We believe that the value of this property will increase after the streetscape project is completed so it would be prudent to wait.

The Franklin Downtown Partnership has over 200 members, and our mission over the last 12 years has been to improve the downtown and encourage economic  growth by working with residents, business owners, town and community leaders. We feel that this is one of the most important properties in our downtown and we have an opportunity for careful, long-term, creative thinking by the community and town officials. The Emmons Street property is a prominent "gateway" to downtown, and represents an opportunity to substantially impact the downtown's perception and character. The Town is in an advantageous position in that it controls this important piece of real estate. This parcel's development can have a positive impact on the downtown, and, by extension, the community at large.

The Downtown Partnership looks forward to working with the Town Council, the Planning Department and community leaders to find creative solutions and funding to develop a “Gateway Property” that everyone will be proud of. We encourage the Council to give the community a chance to support the vision of a vibrant downtown that has been outlined in the Master Plan.

Thank you for your time and consideration regarding this important decision.  We believe that only through careful and thoughtful planning will our community determine the best direction for the downtown and this important “Gateway” property.

Sincerely yours,

Franklin Downtown Partnership Board of Directors

Nicole Fortier/Dean Bank, Joel Carrara/Printsmart,
Cyndi Rich/Emma’s Quilt Cupboard, Roberta Trahan/Resident, 
Del Arnold/Historical Commission,  Pandora Carlucci/Franklin School Department,
Gregg Chalk/Dean College, Jane Curran/Jane’s Frames,
Gary Donelan /Middlesex Savings Bank, Dave Drucker/Dean College,
Mary Graff/Berry Insurance, Scott Martin/Hockomock YMCA,
Angie McMillan/The Cake Bar, Jim Schultz/Resident

Lisa Piana/Executitve Director-FDP

This was originally posted to the Franklin Downtown Partnership page here

If you agree with this position and would like to add your name to the online petition you can do so here

My reporting of the public meeting on March 4th can be found here

The follow up post including the handouts from that meeting can be found here

Then and now: Crossway Church

I thought of a new series of photos that I can share here as the occasion arises. As I have been capturing Franklin scenes for some time, a 'this was then' and 'here it is now' comparison would make sense. Of course while walking Saturday, this is the idea that occurred to me!

Back in 2010 the building on Summer St was decrepit and an eyesore.

Crossway Church - 2010
Crossway Church - 2010

Today, it is respectable place of worship

Crossway Church - 2014
Crossway Church - 2014

Their sign on Summer St

Crossway Church - 282 Summer St
Crossway Church - 282 Summer St

For more about Crossway Church, you can visit their webpage ->
There you can also find photos of the project as the church was renovated ->