Thursday, October 22, 2015

Franklin Candidate for Town Council - Andrew Bissanti

Our schedules did not align to meet in person so Andrew Bissanti and I conducted our discussion via email. The results are shared here.

FM - what is your Franklin story?

Andrew Bissanti - My family came here sometime in the early 1900’s. After Korea, My dad worked for the State Department and was stationed at the American consulate in Naples, Italy. He met my mom who was also working there as an interpreter. Although I was born at Milford hospital, I spent my early years living in Naples, Italy. Long enough to learn the language, which I am happy to say have kept up to this day, and often have conversations in Italian with many Franklin residents who still speak the language and/or help translate letters for them from Italy. 
My Dad left government work overseas and we settled in Franklin to be close to his family and friends he grew up with. I attended both Franklin schools and private schools. I got my Associates in Science Degree in Architecture and Building Construction Management from Dean College and went on to graduate from the University of Denver, where I double majored and received a BA in Both Political Science and Communications. All three degrees have ended up serving me well in both my professional and Political career. 
When I returned from College I settled in Franklin, bought my first home when I was 24 years old and invested in Real Estate and more importantly, the town of Franklin. A town where I chose to reside to this day. My wife of 30 years and I have three beautiful Daughters and two wonderful Grandchildren. 
With 8 uncles and 4 aunts all residing in franklin at any given point, I have a strong sense of family and was taught a sense of duty to a committed cause. Anybody who knows me or my family knows they can count on me to always be there to help lend a hand, or walk in my office at 205 East Central anytime and discuss any town related issue. I might not always be able to fix the problem but I will tell you why. “I call em, like I see em”. 
I have a problem with some of those who feel helping an individual with a specific problem can “set precedent” or “open a can of worms", or a Pandora’s Box etc., As an outspoken member of the Advisory Committee, a group who has championed many local causes over the last few years, I feel helping an individual, needs to be weighed on a case by case basis. I feel the Town Council is there to help our Franklin residents and that has always been my underlying philosophy both professionally, personally, and politically.

FM - what do you see as the challenge for the role you seek?

Andrew Bissanti - Over the years Franklin has endured and overcome many growing pains. I watched the Boom Times of the 80’s succumb to recessionary times of the 90’s and the cycle continued with its ups and downs to the present market which I feel is on the tail end of an 8 year flat line. We have been lucky in Franklin both locally and statewide to enjoy a relatively robust economy due to our location, municipal utilities and the services we provide. We also enjoy a comparatively reasonable tax rate. 
Going forward I feel our challenge as both councilors and a town will be intelligent growth in the commercial and industrial sectors, improved roadways, strong public safety presence and an emphasis on schools and education to reflect the ever changing world we are a part of, in technology, the arts and social awareness. I am proud to have been a part of a council that ushered in a brand new High School, and this last term initiated and completed over 30 significant council agenda items addressing zoning, education, recreation, police and fire, balanced budget and attention to one of our greatest assets, the seniors of Franklin. 
Because Franklin has so much going for it, we can’t ignore the ramifications of residential growth and its impact on the school system. Let’s remember a big part of what makes Franklin great is its public nationwide reputation as a great place to raise a family. Top 10 in fact. 
Let’s not let some of the rhetoric give those who seek our town out for either Business or a place to live that we are anti-growth. We just need to be pro-Franklin and employ “smart growth” where planning departments and all the various committees and council members work towards a common good for Franklin. As a former member of the Master Plan Committee all these issues were discussed and drafted and many have already been implemented during the two terms that I was given the opportunity to serve on the council.

FM - what makes you uniquely qualified to fulfill this role?

Andrew Bissanti - I feel everyone on the current council brings their own Skill “set” to the table. My experience of the last 30 years has given me a clear understanding of development, road building, commercial real estate and an understanding of the highest and best use and value of property throughout our town. I feel this is a necessary role to be filled as some previous councils struggled with growth issues, zoning issues and promoting Franklin to companies to locate here in our industrial parks. 
As the current Economic Development Committee Chairman, I feel we needed to take a hard look at our Commercial and Industrial zoning to attract big box companies and promote a more streamlined yet thorough permitting process. We can “save our downtown" by promoting and or revising our C1 zone with its liberal and generous site and setback and parking requirements and mixed uses to attract the kind of development for both a pedestrian friendly and vehicular traffic town center. 
I feel I have been able to assist my council in many important decisions in these areas. And has I promised 4 years ago I will continue to be the “Eyes and Ears” for Franklin residents to the council. 
Getting on the council was not a snap decision for me. I feel have spent the last 30 years preparing for the job. I ask for your vote on Election Day.

If you have follow up questions for Andrew you can reach him via email at

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 3rd. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion. 

Annual Spooky Games - Oct 23 - 6:30-8:00 PM

This Friday at the Bernon Family YMCA we will be hosting our Annual Spooky Games event from 6:30-8:00pm. 

It is a free community event to everyone. Our theme this year is Superheros! 

Hockomock YMCA
Hockomock YMCA

We will have games, face painting, superhero activities, treat or treating and much more! 

There will also be our Haunted Woods for the older children if they dare!

You can play football even if you can can't hear the whistles

Two Franklin kids could use your help to fund their playing time. Kyle and Luke Florio are members of the Franklin Chargers community and need our help.

Kyle and Luke Florio
Kyle and Luke Florio

Circle of Friends Coffeehouse: Celtic Band "Burning Bridget Cleary" Nov 7th

Circle of Friends Coffeehouse

262 Chestnut St

Franklin, MA
Phone: 508 528 2541

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Celtic Band Burning Bridget Cleary
at the Circle of Friends Coffeehouse
November 7th, $20
Burning Bridget Cleary
Burning Bridget Cleary
This band's bio explains that the real Bridget Cleary is best remembered as "the last witch burned in Ireland". But that Bridget Cleary, with all her spells and potions, couldn't play Celtic music the way this band does.

Burning Bridget Cleary has earned a reputation for presenting high-spirited Celtic music at festivals, concerts, and music series all over the world. If you're impressed by rock's lead guitar dynamics and pyrotechnics, the electrifying fiddle duo of Rose Baldino and the Scottish fiddle wiz Amy Beshara will leave you absolutely breathless.

Their second release Everything Is Alright, was awarded "2009 Album of the Year" by Their fourth CD, Pressed for Time, topped the Roots Music Folk and Roots Charts at #1 – and became one of the most played albums by folk disc jockeys. In December 2013, Burning Bridget Cleary was nominated "Top Traditional Group in a Pub, Festival, or Concert" in the Irish Music Awards sponsored by the Irish Music Association. They were listed in Marc Gunn's "Top 20" International Celtic bands for 2014. Their fifth album Another Day, released a year ago, has received a great deal of critical acclaim.

". . . a highlight of this summer's Philadelphia Folk Festival" -Michael Kornfeld,

The Circle of Friends Coffeehouse is a non-profit organization affiliated with Franklin's First Universalist Society. Concerts are presented in a smoke free and alcohol free environment at the Society's handicapped accessible Meetinghouse, 262 Chestnut St. in Franklin, and begin at 8:00 PM; doors open at 7:30 PM. Beverages and gourmet desserts will be available. Admission is $20. Please call (508)528-2541 or visit to purchase tickets or for more information.

PLAY Sat Nov 07 2015, 08:00 PM
Burning Bridget Cleary
Tickets: $20
An excellent Celtic band.
PLAY Sat Dec 05 2015, 08:00 PM
Anne Heaton, Winterbloom, Antje Duvekot, Natalia Zukerman, Meg Hutchinson
Tickets: $25
Winterbloom featuring Anne Heaton, Natalia Zukerman, Antje Duvekot, and Meg Hutchinson
PLAY Sat Dec 12 2015, 08:00 PM
Ellis Paul, Laurie MacAllister
Tickets: $25
CD release
PLAY Sat Jan 09 2016, 08:00 PM
John Gorka, Honor Finnegan
Tickets: $25
PLAY Sat Feb 27 2016, 08:00 PM
Seth Glier
Tickets: $20
PLAY Sat Mar 12 2016, 08:00 PM
Susan Werner
Tickets: $27
  Sat Apr 09 2016, 08:00 PM
Billy Novick, Guy Van Duser
Tickets: $20
  Sat Apr 23 2016, 08:00 PM
Forever Young
Tickets: $20
A Tribute to the Music of Neil Young
PLAY Sat May 07 2016, 08:00 PM
Dala, the young novelists
Tickets: $20
PLAY Sat May 14 2016, 08:00 PM
Jim Kweskin
Tickets: $25
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Physical inquiries can be sent to: 262 Chestnut St, Franklin, MA, 02038, USA
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Voices of Franklin: Tara Gurge For Board of Health

Franklin’s Dr. Ronald Gurge says the candidate would work to improve health in Franklin. 
I am writing in support of candidate Tara Gurge for a position on the Franklin Board of Health. Mrs. Gurge is a creative problem-solver who is passionate about public health. She offers a wealth of experience on a variety of health-related issues and possesses the skills and abilities to facilitate health-related improvements in our community. 
Mrs. Gurge earned a Masters of Science degree in public health from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has more than fifteen years’ experience working full-time as the public health agent for the Town of Needham and has a registered sanitarian license. She has been a resident of Franklin for 14 years, along with her family and three children. 
With a solid background in the field of public health, Tara has long had a very serious interest in local health issues. She endorses a proposal for more substance abuse prevention and education, would offer a unique perspective and help offer and share successful public health prevention measures/resources that have been proven successful in her current position. She would work to provide more smoking cessation and drug and alcohol rehabilitation center access to the Franklin community, and also strive to provide more childhood obesity prevention programs, and would use her resources to identify alternative sources of funding for health initiatives. 
Tara would bring a fresh perspective and creative solutions to the Board of Health and work to enhance the well-being of all Franklin residents. I highly recommend Mrs. Gurge for this position and I urge all Franklin voters to support her. 
Please support Tara Gurge when you vote in our town elections on November 3 — she will be a great asset to our community.
Franklin Matters
Franklin Matters

Dr. Ronald Gurge

you can reach Dr Ronald Gurge via email at

Guidelines for submitting a "Voices of Franklin" entry can be found here

In the News: Medway opposition, Library approval, Council candidate, Smile gala, Sugar Shoppe

“That’s not reality,” he said. “The reality is that we recognize that there are folks that are going to leave here tonight that are still going to be frustrated and are not going to want to jump on board.” 
The approval process, he said, is “not within the boundaries of the town of Medway,” and instead lies with the state Facilities Energy Siting Board. 
“We do not have the ability to give a thumbs up, or a thumbs down,” Boynton said, pointing to the provisions negotiated in the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) and Host Community Agreement that he said were “more one-sided in the town’s favor than … anything Exelon may want.”

The Town Council voted unanimously in favor of a one-year $10.5 million renovation and addition to the Franklin Public Library. 
The audience in the council chambers applauded after the roll call vote approved the project, which would require library services to move to a temporary location during construction. 
Judith Pfeffer, the chairwoman of the library building committee and member of the council, gave a presentation on the matter, along with project architect Drayton Fair.

Newcomer candidate Sean Slater said he's running for Town Council to make sure the Franklin of tomorrow is as safe and affordable as it is today. 
A seven-year Franklin resident, Slater is one of 14 candidates seeking nine seats on the council in the town's Nov. 3 election.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito will be the special guest speaker at Project Smile’s gala fundraiser - the Project Smile 12th Anniversary Celebration Friday, Oct. 23, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at Doubletree Hotel, 11 Beaver St. 
Founded by Catherine Pisacane in 2003, the Hopedale-based, non-profit organization partners with police and fire departments, the Dept. of Children & Families and homeless shelters and donates stuffed animals, books, coloring books and crayons to help children who are victims of traumatic events. 
Many of the children receiving stuffed animals have been involved in car accidents, are victims of child abuse or other crimes, sick/injured, witnesses to domestic violence, entering foster care or living in a homeless shelter. Since October 2003, Project Smile has donated more than 36,000 stuffed animals and works with 195 police and fire departments both locally and throughout New England.

The grand opening of the Sugar Shoppe - a non-profit candy store - is set for Monday at 334 Union St., with a soft opening Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. The store will then be open for regular business hours as of Monday. 
Sugar Shoppe is a local candy/confection boutique with a two-fold mission: Reintroducing the nostalgic candy store concept (touched with a modern flair) and bringing the community together to raise money for a good cause. The mission is providing gift baskets to homeless moms and assorted gift baskets for homeless kids at special times during the year when they may not receive anything at all. 
The goal is to be able to lift spirits and provide hope when there may be none. Patrons can shop to their hearts content with fine candies, confections and celebrity truffles (official gift basket truffle of the Oscars) and all net proceeds will go towards helping someone in need. Sugar Shoppe will also work with other local non-profit causes holding events to help raise money in joint community efforts.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Live reporting: Closing

2 minute recess for crowd to return to Town Clerk party

resume meeting

Recognition of Steve Williams as last meeting for Town Council
by Rep Jeff Roy, Sen Karen Spilka

Jeff recognition for Debbie and all her work her
and thanks for the flower bed

condolences to the Brown family

did get DEP grant for storm water management
thanks to Brutus and staff for writing the application

on Oct 30, pumpkins in the Sculpture Park
trick or treat while things last
the Friday before Halloween

ground breaking of the YMCA splash park being donated by Rockland Charitable Trust

Vote yes on the tax vote

awarded another 'safe community' recognition
thanks to the police fire and dispatchers for making this a safe place

thanks to Williams for his work

down at DelCarte on Sunday and it was busy

solar array at Parmenter is working again
leak resolved during the summer

power plant in Bellingham
proposal for Medway power plant expansion
concern about the proximity to Franklin
I would be remiss if I did not seek more information


Dellorco - 7:00 PM at Franklin TV with recovery addicts and FHS students to do a program

Williams - thanks for the opportunity to serve you for the past two years
for your knowledge, understanding and guidance
I thought I knew quite a bit, I was surprised at how dumb I was

Kelly - need to do something at the next council meeting, no matter who is here sitting on the Council

Downtown construction, can not complain enough about the MassDOT
promising to do something on one day and not getting done until later
it was a nice project but we have been sold a bill of goods

thanks to the new council candidates, there is a lot of meetings at all hours
when you leave here, you go on Facebook and find out folks don't like what was just done

Thank you Mr Williams for you help, you have been nothing but a gentleman
thank you for putting me here the last two years
I would be nothing but honored to sit with you next time

Bissanti - follow up with Matt's comments
this is the closest I've been to a police chief on an amicable basis
let's have a robust outcome in voting


motion to adjourn, passed 8-0 (Mercer had disconnected)

Live reporting: recognition of Town Clerk, Debbie Pellegri

There is a delay in the meeting as the listing of recognitions is coordinated with some presenters to cover for those not present

- Town Clerk, Debbie Pellegri

Franklin Town Council recognition - Bob Vallee

Recognition by former Chief Larry Benedetto - Pfeffer

From Governor of MA, Charles Baker - Vallee

Secretary of State William F Galvin - Rep Jeff Roy

Congressman Joe Kennedy III - Matt Kelly

MA State - Senator Karen Spilka, Senator Richard Ross

MA House of Representatives - Rep Jeff Roy

District Attorney Mike Morrissey - Bob Dellorco

Sheriff Michael Billotti - Peter Padula

Andrew Dowd, MA Town Clerks Association
"town clerks don't run the town, they make the town run"

Tri-County Clerks Education Committee

Franklin School Committee - John Jewell

Debbie Pellegri

31 years has changed my life
family members present were recognized
especially her husband Ron

Clerks are the best people in the world

"I knew what I was doing from that first day forward, this is what I wanted to do"
31 years have been wonderful

the planter down stairs is a gift from the Pellegri's

Live reporting: remaining legislation for action

5 minute recess to allow the Library folks to leave

Resolution 15-67: Appropriation of Police Salaries
motion to approve, seconded, via roll call 9-0

discussion on Franklin people being checked first for the listing
we like Franklin folks, but at the end of the day we get the most qualified folks

Resolution 15-68: Appropriation of Fire Salaries
motion to approve, seconded, via roll call 9-0

looking to add someone in the FY 2017 budget

Resolution 15-69: Amendment to the Town Administrators Contract
motion to approve, seconded, via roll call 9-0

original contract was funded for an increase for the first two years but not for the last three years of his 5 year contract
  • 3% increase for 2015
  • 2% increase for 2016
  • 2% increase for 2017
30 items on the listing of accomplishment for the past couple of years with this Council

There is always room for improvement

Zoning Bylaw Amendment 15-752:Nonconforming Buildings, Structures, and Uses – 2nd Reading-2/3 vote
motion to approve, seconded, via roll call 9-0

corrects a deficiency in the current zoning bylaw, and still subject to review

Bissanti - this is a significant change as small as the wording might be, especially for buildings downtown, another great feather in our cap to make happen

Live reporting: Town Council - October 21, 2015

Present: Feldman, Padula, Kelly, Vallee, Pfeffer, Bissanti, Williams, Dellorco, Mercer (via phone)
Absent: none


– This meeting is being recorded by Franklin TV and shown on Comcast channel 11 and Verizon channel 29. This meeting may be recorded by others.



Legislation for Action

  • Resolution 15-70: Authorizing Tax Increment Financing, Cole Chain Technologies, Inc. And Knickerbocker Properties, Inc. XLIII
EDC Chair -Bissanti, the committee recommends this as a win-win

Nutting - the TIF financing has been used a couple of times, they are looking to expand to Forge Park moving 180 jobs and expand. The TIF allows for collection of the base taxes, some of the increase in taxes based upon the improvements is collected some is a tax advantage for the company to maintain the manufacturing in MA

Larry Gordon, CEO Cole Chain, 47 years in business
small insulated shipping company for seafood, now thermal packaging for health products, shipping at proper temperature is a requirement. Located elsewhere. 140 employees and 40 contractors, 135 Constitution Blvd would fit the company.

Roger Nelson, consultant to the company
started discussion a couple of weeks ago, the team has done well in making us feel welcome

Nutting - our ability to move quickly and be proactive is needed in this competitive environment

Gordon - we have anticipation of hiring and would look to hire local where possible

passed 9-0 via roll call

15-52: Whether public safety, necessity and convenience requires laying out and acceptance of a portion of Lewis Street currently private, as a public way. 7:10 PM- 2nd Reading

opened as public hearing, no public comments
property owners have signed the paperwork

this is the end of Lewis St which had not been previously accepted as a public way, about 8 from Crocker to the end of Lewis

roll call to close hearing - 9-0

  • Resolution 15-52:Order of Layout, Acceptance, and Taking of a Portion of Lewis Street, Currently a Private Way -2/3 vote
motion to approve waive of reading, passed via 9-0

motion to approve, passed 9-0 via roll call

Other legislation

  • Resolution 15-66: Reconstructing, Adding to, Equipping and Furnishing the Franklin Public Library-2/3 vote
access for handicap
meeting room with movable wall
more computer space
reading hall returned to its glory
constrained with technology and storage
collections up 68%
programs up 117%
sprinkler system upgrade, plumbing, heating upgraded
tween space, teen space

Library Board of Directors, Friends of the Library
Library will be closed for 1 year, if not the construction would be 18-24 months

old paper records needs to be digitized

Drayton, with LLB Architects
children's are more than doubles in to the new area
rest rooms on first floor
main entrance for access to meeting rooms, can be shut off from the rest of the building

original building will have the interior utilities updated and other interior areas will be restored

additional staffing will be required, we are understaffed now
likely an additional 2-3 part-timers

staffing costs would likely be part of the FY 2018 or so budget
the building can only be the building and infrastructure work

attempted to make use of maximum space by minimal staff with proper positioning of the service stations

about 14 years ago, adopted a fiscal policy of 3.5% of the budget as debt
the debt schedule as old debt gets paid off, the new debt will be used to other infrastructure

we worked with the Treasurer to set out a plan and we have a plan to use the capacity within the plan

the tax bill doesn't go up as a result of this, it will go up anyway for other reasons

either modulars or rental spaces could be utilized for temporary space to provide some operation while the construction is underway

vote to approve, seconded, via roll call 9-0

Franklin Candidate for Town Council - Debbie Pellegri

Our schedules did not align to meet in person so Debbie Pellegri and I conducted our discussion via email. The results are shared here.

What is your Franklin Story?

Debbie Pellegri - I am a lifelong resident of Franklin. I’ve been married to my husband, Ron for 48 years. We have two children, Rona and Michael, four grandchildren, Maggie and Madi, twins age 13, Mason, age 10 and Grace age 9. My parents, Gemma and Dan Crosta, lived in Franklin all their married life. 
My dad was a police officer in Franklin for 30 years while my mother was always involved in committees when I was younger. 
They both showed me the importance of giving back to your community and perhaps that is why I have been involved in town affairs for many years.

What do you see as the challenge for the position that you are campaigning for?

Debbie Pellegri - The main challenge is to keep all 33,000 residents happy! While I know that no one person can do this, I will work hard to be opened and available to the residents. I have good listening skills and I believe that is what the residents want….a person they can talk with. 
So many times, residents believe they are kept out of the loop and no one listens to them. Residents need to remember that a councilor represents the whole Town and therefore, residents must understand that while we listen the outcome will be made in the best interest of the whole Town. 
We must all work together to continue to mover Franklin into a productive, safe and strong community. I want to keep Franklin a community that people look up to and are proud of the direction that we are moving towards.

What do you bring to the position that would set you apart from the other candidates?

Debbie Pellegri -  I have been your Town Clerk for the past 31 years working with all departments, committees, boards and commissions. My background will bring knowledge of these departments to the conversations regarding Town affairs. 
I am editor for the Town of Franklin Code Book working with General Code Publishers. This book contains all the bylaws and is available to the residents both in hard copy and on line. My job has been to update this book on an annual basis and by doing this, I am aware of what is being changed, deleted and updated. I will be able to answer questions for the residents and if not, I will be able to set them in the right direction. 
I will bring with me, an honest, hard working and professional attitude always looking out for the best interest of the Town of Franklin and all the residents.

If you have any follow up questions, you can contact Debbie at 508-528-5422.  

Noteworthy: This information is intended to help the Franklin voters when we all head to the ballot box on November 3rd. The interview candidates have had an opportunity to review the text before publishing to ensure the accuracy of our discussion.