Monday, April 20, 2020

Have you checked out the Coronavirus Information Portal Updates

Have you visited the Town of Franklin portal to see the updates?

In the Current News & Alerts section
In the Town of Franklin News section

In the Community Resources and Support section

Visit the Town of Franklin portal:

Once Upon A Town: Gas Stations & Dealers - Franklin MA

Join Eamon McCarthy Earls and Joe Landry to learn about Gas Stations and Dealers   Video link:

Visit the Franklin Business Gift Card portal

The Franklin Downtown Partnership is inviting residents to visit the FDP website to buy gift cards and to view updates from our local businesses. 

We have set up a special portal for residents to easily purchase gift cards.

Gift Card Portal

Gift Card Portal

“We’re hoping this underlines a strong recovery, but that recovery remains uncertain”

From the Mass Municipal Association we share this:
"State budget writers today (Tuesday, Apr 14, 2020) held an economic roundtable with key experts to discuss the economic disruption and fiscal implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Commonwealth.

One of the panelists, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, projected that tax collections in fiscal 2021 will drop by $4.4 billion, or 14.1 percent below the benchmark that top budget officials agreed to back in January.

The report from the foundation states that sudden and massive layoffs are pushing the unemployment rate up to nearly 18 percent in the current quarter, with 570,000 jobs expected to be lost in just three months, including many in the leisure and hospitality sectors."
Continue reading the article online

Link to the Legislature’s website for a recording of the hearing
Mass. Taxpayers Foundation Revised FY21 Tax Revenue Forecast – COVID-19 Pandemic (1.3M PDF)

Rep. Michlewitz, Sen. Rodrigues and Administration and Finance Sec. Heffernan during a virtual budget hearing on April 14. (Photo: State House News Service)
Rep. Michlewitz, Sen. Rodrigues and Administration and Finance Sec. Heffernan during a virtual budget hearing on April 14. (Photo: State House News Service)

In the News: MA is now at center of national coronavirus outbreak; spring real estate market slows

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:

MA is now at center of national coronavirus outbreak
"On the heels of the two deadliest days so far in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said Sunday morning that “we’re right in the middle of the surge now” and a top White House official highlighted the state as an area where the continued spread of COVID-19 is a concern.

Massachusetts reported 156 deaths on Saturday and a single-day high of 159 fatalities on Friday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll here to 1,560 people. Nearly 2,000 new cases of infection reported Saturday brought the total number of cases in Massachusetts to 36,372 as the state continues to deal with an influx of cases.

“We’re still very much focused on Boston and across Massachusetts where the epidemic continues to spread across Massachusetts as well as in Boston, and we’re watching very closely Chicago,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “And then we watch every single outbreak that occurs in different states around the Untied States including the most recent one in Ohio.”
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Coronavirus outbreak slows typically robust spring real estate market

"Real estate agents are turning to virutal showings of homes to ensure social distancing practices and prevent the spread of the virus.

Ashley Levitre and her husband spent the winter months preparing to put their Hudson condo up for sale in time for the normally robust spring real estate market.

The couple – expecting their first child in July – has wanted to sell their third-floor garden-style condo and purchase a home for a while.

“We wanted to find something that was more homey,” said Levitre."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

FM #250 - Talk Franklin with Jamie Hellen, Anne Marie Tracey - 4/17/20 (audio)

FM #250 = This is the Franklin Matters radio show, number 250 in the series.

This session of the radio show shares my conversation with Town Administrator Jamie Hellen and Marketing and Communications Specialist Anne Marie Tracey. We had our conversation via conference bridge to adhere to the ‘social distancing’ requirements of this pandemic period.

We talk about how the Town Administrator exercised two of the ‘local options’ permitted under the State of Emergency previously issued by the Governor. Real estate and personal excise tax payments have been extended until June 1, penalties on the enterprise payments (water, sewer, etc.) are not to be applied for payments through June 30.

We talk about the local pandemic number now published weekly by the MA DPH. The issue we have discussed is that this number paints an incomplete picture of the pandemic as it is a total only of those tested, and the number of confirmed cases since day 1. This doesn’t show how many active cases there are.

We talk about the 50th anniversary of Earth Day coming up April 22, that it will be celebrated virtually, and over more than the one day (Wednesday). Additional info will be coming from the Recreation Dept.

The Franklin Downtown Partnership is helping Franklin businesses share their hours, gift card options,etc. This is also available for the residents so we can in turn help support the local businesses.

If a business believes they should be considered one of the ‘essential categories’, there is a form now posted on the Town coronavirus portal page to submit a request for reconsideration of their status.

The recording runs about 50 minutes, so let’s listen to my conversation with Jamie and Anne Marie

Franklin Downtown Partnership

Essential Service Designation Request form

Town of Franklin portal

Franklin Public Schools portal

We are now producing this in collaboration with Franklin.TV and Franklin Public Radio (

This podcast is my public service effort for Franklin but we can't do it alone. We can always use your help.

How can you help?
  • If you can use the information that you find here, please tell your friends and neighbors
  • If you don't like something here, please let me know

Through this feedback loop we can continue to make improvements. I thank you for listening.

For additional information, please visit
If you have questions or comments you can reach me directly at shersteve @ gmail dot com

The music for the intro and exit was provided by Michael Clark and the group "East of Shirley". The piece is titled "Ernesto, manana" c. Michael Clark & Tintype Tunes, 2008 and used with their permission.

I hope you enjoy!


You can also subscribe and listen to Franklin Matters audio on iTunes or your favorite podcast app; search in "podcasts" for "Franklin Matters"

FM #250 Talk Franklin with JAmie Hellen, Anne Marie Tracey - 4/17/20 (audio)
FM #250 Talk Franklin with Jamie Hellen, Anne Marie Tracey - 4/17/20 (audio)

Reminder: LiveARTS a free concert - Apr 19 - 3 PM


Don't miss the
final concert
of our
2019-20 season!

Internationally acclaimed
concert pianist

Michael Lewin

has graciously agreed
to perform
 from his home
on Zoom!

Sunday April 19 at 3 p.m.
Please join us for
this free online concert
using this link:

Michael Lewin Concert

You can download Zoom
using this link:

Download Zoom
Pianist Michael Lewin brings his artistry to our LiveARTS audience in a SPECIAL ZOOM EVENT. Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, he will perform that composers's Variations in C Minor. He will also perform music of Chopin and Debussy. He will share his insights into the music he plays, and will open up the event to a Q & A with audience members.
Michael Lewin
Michael Lewin
Michael Lewin is one of America's most active and popular concert pianists, having played for audiences in more than 30 countries. His career was launched with victories in several international piano competitions. His numerous recordings have won a Grammy Award and a Round Glass Music Award. Mr. Lewin is Professor and Head of Piano at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Director of Classical Music for Ethos Music in China. He is a Julliard School graduate. His teachers included Leon Fleisher, Yvonne Lefebure, Adele Marcus and Irwin Freundlich.
This is a free concert. If you have bought a ticket for the concert on April 19, please consider making a gift of the purchase price to LiveARTS. If you would like a refund, please call 774-571-7920 to make arrangements.
Thank you!
Copyright © 2020 LiveARTS, Franklin, Massachusetts, All rights reserved.

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Covid19 – Whack-a-Mole?

Numbers may provide truth, but we have an obligation to study – carefully.
by Pete Fasciano, Executive Director 04/19/2020

W.H.O. logarithmic scaled chart of international progress
W.H.O. logarithmic scaled chart of international progress

"How those numbers are framed, wrapped in context and presented to us can be misleading. Here is the latest W.H.O. logarithmic scaled chart of international progress. It shows us – s-l-o-w-l-y bending the curve of viral spread.

Note that this week Dr. Deborah Birx made a pointed statement about the preferred use of the Log chart. While that presentation form has its value, you can extract a clearer understanding of exactly where we are in mitigation by studying the Linear scale as well. The Log view would have you thinking that, all in all, we’re not that far off from other nations.

However, here’s the eye opener. Same chart. Linear scale.

the eye opener. Same chart. Linear scale
the eye opener. Same chart. Linear scale

This scale shows you how little progress we have made through tough mitigation. The bend is not really a bend. It’s what the ever-expanding scale of a Log chart produces when you hit a steady-state plateau ( currently, above 10,000/week ). This is nowhere near the CDC’s mitigation target of 420/week. This presentation indicates there is almost no ‘bend’ or true flattening. We have a very long way to go.

The false bend produced by the Logarithmic function creates a false impression –
that we can break out the champagne and declare victory. ( Your best bottle of bubbly, please ).

Not so fast. Look at China and South Korea. That’s very flat, even on a Linear scale. They got there by testing and more testing, isolation and more onerous isolation. Note that even as a flat trajectory at a very low rate compared to the U.S., their rate of new infection cases continues to double roughly every nine days or so. However slowly, the viral spread continues even under the best of mitigation efforts.

We once had 14,000 U.S. domestic flights. Even a minimum of that air traffic transports the virus at uncontainable rates. The virus continues to spread rapidly, freely hitchhiking about the country as it will. We will be stamping out viral fires, and locking down cities here and there, only to have more fires pop up elsewhere like a deadly game of Whack-a-Mole. These flareups will be our new normal until we can test and trace rapidly.

Now the President is encouraging an impatient citizenry to “liberate states”. They gather to protest – in crowds tight enough and large enough to spread the virus. Regardless of the hopeful mathematical models and projections we embrace today, when we change the input data, we change the outcome. We change our future.

‘Stay-at-home’ be damned. The emotionally infectious bravado of a protest crowd cannot protect it – or us. If the President pushes governors to ‘open up’ the country, some will comply. Those eager states will bring hurt upon us all.

Know that you are truly on your own regarding your personal health and safety. Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home. For your own sake, stay there.

We have no testing. The current rate of testing is effectively next to zero on a per capita basis. We can’t begin to trace or treat what we can’t meaningfully test.

May I suggest that the feds need to shove the cork back in the bottle for another day
– a day that’s far off in the future.

Help yourself and others. Find away to mask up. As a fashion statement: Mask is the new black.

And – as always –
Thank you for listening to wfpr●fm. And, thank you for watching."

For the full program Guide for this week for Franklin TV and Franklin Public Radio

FHS seniors get creative 'that way'!

"We'll Get It That Way.



Shared via Twitter:

FHS Student Podcast: "Predicting the 2020 American Presidential Election"

FHS "Senior Michael Richardson uses #datajournalism to predict who will win the Presidential Election. Check out his podcast here!

This is a student opinion piece and does not reflect the views of Panther TV, Franklin High School, or the Franklin Public School District."

Shared via Twitter:

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Moratorium on Non-Essential Evictions and Foreclosures Amid COVID-19

The Massachusetts House of Representatives and State Senate on Friday passed legislation that will provide a critical safety net for renters, homeowners, and small businesses grappling with the economic fallout of the coronavirus public health emergency.

The legislation prohibits all non-essential evictions and foreclosures and provides mortgage borrowers with forbearance options and protects tenants from late fees as well as other protections.

“Staying home is an essential component to ending this pandemic, and the Massachusetts State Senate is committed to making sure that our residents will be allowed to stay in their homes for the duration of this public health crisis,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “We are also protecting our small businesses and non-profits, which are particularly vulnerable during this pandemic. I would like to thank Speaker DeLeo and the House for their commitment to this issue, and particularly thank Senators Crighton and Rodrigues for working so hard to get this critical legislation across the finish line.”

“Our first priority is protecting those who are most vulnerable, and many homeowners and renters need relief now from the economic strains building as a result of this public health emergency,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “We acted to safeguard tenants and homeowners from economic insecurity during and for a period after the state of emergency ends. I am grateful to Senate President Spilka for her partnership on these issues, and I thank Chairs Honan and Michlewitz for their work with members and stakeholders in moving this bill forward.”

“As this public health crisis continues to unfold, we must do everything we can to address the urgent needs of our Commonwealth and ensure families can remain safe in their homes,” said Senator Michael Rodrigues, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D – Westport). “Thanks to the leadership of Senate President Spilka, the collaborative efforts of Senator Crighton, and the partnership of Speaker DeLeo, Chair Michlewitz and Representative Honan, the acceptance of this conference committee report demonstrates our commitment to protect renters, homeowners, and small businesses experiencing financial hardship during this uncertain time.”

"This legislation will offer much-needed assistance to thousands of the Commonwealth’s renters, homeowners, and small businesses," said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston). “During these difficult times, we need to be cognizant of our most vulnerable populations and help ensure that people will not lose their homes and businesses due to the effects of COVID-19. I want to thank Chairman Honan, Senator Crighton, and Senator Rodrigues for their partnership in getting this legislation passed quickly.”

“During these uncertain and extremely difficult times, no one should have to worry about losing their home,” said Senator Brendan Crighton, Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing (D- Lynn). “Thank you to Senate President Spilka, Chairman Rodrigues, my fellow legislators and the many stakeholders who worked to pass this crucial legislation that will protect renters and homeowners alike during this crisis.”

“This is one of the most significant pieces of legislation we will pass during this state of emergency,” said Representative Kevin G. Honan, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing (D-Boston). “It is important to remember that this is more than just a housing justice issue, it is a public health issue. In a time where our collective health and safety depends on the ability of each and every one of us to shelter in place, the need for housing stability has never been greater.”

To address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its adverse impacts on renters, homeowners and small businesses, the bill includes the following components:

• A moratorium on all stages of the eviction and foreclosure processes for 120 days from the enactment of the legislation or 45 days after the State of Emergency has been lifted, whichever period of time is shorter.

• Prohibits all non-essential evictions for residential properties and small businesses.

• Prohibits residential landlords from terminating tenancy and sending a notice to quit.

• Halts landlords from issuing late fees and reports to credit agencies for nonpayment of rent, provided that a tenant offers notice and documentation to the landlord within 30 days of the missed rent payment that the non-payment was related to a financial impact from COVID-19.

• Allows for video or telephone conferencing during the State of Emergency for reverse mortgage loans in lieu of in-person counseling until the State of Emergency order is lifted.

• Evictions may proceed during the moratorium for actions that involve allegations of criminal activity or lease violations that are detrimental to public health or public safety.

• Requires mortgage lenders to grant a forbearance of up to 180-days on required mortgage payments if homeowner submits request demonstrating financial hardship as result of COVID-19.

• Allows landlords to use a tenant’s last month rent for expenses like mortgages payments and property maintenance, while protecting tenant rights regarding rent paid in advance.

The bill, which is the latest action by the Legislature to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its effects on Massachusetts, now heads to the Governor.

"whether it could potentially erode a sense of trust between school officials and students"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"In these times of COVID-19, schools are closed, offices are shut down and families must coexist while sheltering in place.

The result is a spike in fear and a decrease in happiness nationwide, according to an artificial intelligence algorithm that analyzes more than a billion social media messages in the U.S. each day.

Some online messages created by Natick public school students are included in those billion-plus messages, because the district has a contract with Social Sentinel, a Burlington, Vermont-based company that created the algorithm.

“Any tool that has the potential to identify that someone is suffering, that extends the reach of what people can do, and does it faster, is worth having,” said Natick Superintendent of Schools Anna Nolin, explaining why the district contracted with Social Sentinel."

Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Legal Protections for Health Care Workers, Facilities, And Organizations Responding to COVID-19

The Massachusetts House of Representatives and State Senate on Friday passed legislation to shield those providing critical health care services from legal liability for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women in health care who continue to treat patients amid this public health pandemic,” stated Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D- Ashland). “This urgently needed legislation will ensure that our healthcare system will be able to expand capacity quickly to treat patients during the surge of COVID-19 in Massachusetts. I would like to acknowledge Senators Michael Rodrigues, Cindy Friedman and James Welch, as well as Speaker DeLeo and our colleagues in the House for expeditiously advancing this critical bill.”

"Our action today will protect our health care workers and health care facilities during this time of crisis as they work to care for an unprecedented number of patients,” said House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D – Winthrop). “This legislation will give our health care providers a sense of relief as they heroically treat the residents of the Commonwealth. I appreciate the leadership of Senate President Spilka as well as the work of Chairs Michlewitz and Murphy to bring these issues forward.”

“With the COVID-19 surge now upon us, our health care system is under duress and being tested like it’s never been tested before,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues (D-Westport), Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “With the passage of this important legislation today, the Senate has acted with urgency to provide peace of mind protections to our front-line health care workers who are going above and beyond to help those in critical need of care during this incredibly difficult time.”

“This necessary legislation will provide much needed liability relief for our health care workers and facilities so they can continue to focus on combating the COVID-19 public health crisis," said Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways & Means (D-Boston).

“This is a major step in ensuring that we have the workforce necessary to address the healthcare needs of our residents during the current pandemic,” said Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D- Arlington), co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing. “This bill maximizes protections for a wide variety of healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, who are sometimes being asked to work in very unique settings like field hospitals and other locations. I want to thank the Senate President and Chair Rodrigues for recognizing the urgency of this issue and for moving this bill forward quickly.”

“Health care professionals from a variety of disciplines, and from different stages of their careers are risking their lives to join the fight against this pandemic,” said Senator James T. Welch (D- West Springfield). “As a Commonwealth, we owe it to these dedicated amazing medical personnel to relieve them of this burden. We have to show them that we value their courage and that we trust that they are giving the best possible care available for all patients.”

“During this time, we must do all that we can to protect front line workers,” said Representative James Murphy (D – Weymouth), Chair of the Financial Services Committee. “This legislation will go a long way to ensure that our health care professionals who are thrust into this worldwide pandemic are afforded vital legal protections enabling them to do their job in an extremely trying health care environment. We owe a debt of gratitude to all of them and I know together we will get through this.”

“The stress and strain imposed on health care professionals right now is unlike anything that they have endured; by taking legislative action we lessen some of that burden," said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). "These healers are heroes and they deserve the legal protection to make good decisions based on their best medical judgement in this
uncharted territory.”

“Our health care professionals are on the front lines caring for COVID-19 patients while operating under extraordinarily difficult and strenuous conditions,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “Protecting these essential workers from the threat of lawsuits and civil liability will help make their jobs a little easier, while sending a strong message to the health care community that we fully support their continuing efforts to keep us all safe and healthy.”

Under the legislation, health care professionals, facilities and volunteer organizations assisting in the state’s efforts to respond and treat COVID-19 would be protected from suit and civil liability for alleged damages related to the virus. Health care facilities and professionals would still be subject to consumer complaints brought by the Attorney General and protections would not extend to acts of negligence, recklessness, or intent to harm or acts of discrimination. These protections would apply retroactively to March 10, 2020, and remain in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency.

The bill, which is the latest action by the Legislature to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its effects on Massachusetts, has been signed by the Governor.

"The ruling allows for a limited use of electronic signatures"

From the Milford Daily News, articles of interest for Franklin:
"Solving an issue that Democrats have been at loggerheads over for weeks, the Supreme Judicial Court made clear Friday that the inaction of the Legislature left it with little choice but to intervene and reduce the signature-gathering requirements for candidates this year.

The state’s highest court issued its ruling one day after hearing oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by three candidates running for offices with the highest and lowest requirements for collecting the signatures of voters.

The decision, written by Chief Justice Ralph Gants, ordered that requirements for all candidates seeking to appear on the Sept. 1 primary ballot be reduced by 50% in order to ensure easier access to the political process for office-seekers struggling to collect signatures from voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

The court also extended the deadline for candidates for state and county offices to submit signatures to local election clerks from April 28 until May 5, and will allow for some use of electronic signatures. The new May 5 deadline is consistent with the deadlines for candidates running for federal office."
Continue reading the article online (subscription may be required)

Strawberry Stroll - Canceled for 2020

Strawberry Stroll Canceled for 2020
Strawberry Stroll Canceled for 2020
"After thoughtful consideration, the board of the Franklin Downtown Partnership has regretfully decided to cancel this year’s Strawberry Stroll. Normally held in June, the Strawberry Stroll is a tremendous community event attracting thousands of people to downtown Franklin. Given the current pandemic, however, it is impossible to know if such a community gathering will be possible or safe in June. So the FDP Board has decided to plan for an even larger Harvest Festival on Oct. 3, 2020.

In place of the Strawberry Stroll, the FDP is developing several smaller events in late summer and early fall.

“We’re considering events such as restaurant walks, small business Tuesdays, and other promotional events geared towards rebuilding local business,” said Lisa Piana, executive director of the FDP. “We are planning to hold those events once social distancing guidelines have been relaxed or removed.”

If you have some creative ideas about smaller events the FDP could organize to support local business, please email Executive Director Lisa Piana."

For more about the Franklin Downtown Partnership visit their page