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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Zika Outbreak Epicenter In Same Area Genetically-Modified Mosquitoes Released In 2015

Zika Outbreak Epicenter In Same Area Genetically-Modified Mosquitoes Released In 2015

Tyler Durden's picture

submitted by Clare Bernishvia,
The World Health Organization announced it will convene an Emergency Committee under International Health Regulations on Monday, February 1, concerning the Zika virus ‘explosive’ spread throughout the Americas. The virus reportedly has the potential to reach pandemic proportions — possibly around the globe. But understandingwhy this outbreak happened is vital to curbing it. As the WHO statement said:

“A causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth malformations and neurological syndromes … is strongly suspected. [These links] have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika, from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions.

“WHO is deeply concerned about this rapidly evolving situation for 4 main reasons: the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes; the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector; the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas; and the absence of vaccines, specific treatments, and rapid diagnostic tests […]

“The level of concern is high, as is the level of uncertainty.”
Zika seemingly exploded out of nowhere. Though it was first discovered in 1947, cases only sporadically occurred throughout Africa and southern Asia. In 2007, the first case was reported in the Pacific. In 2013, a smattering of small outbreaks and individual cases were officially documented in Africa and the western Pacific. They also began showing up in the Americas. In May 2015, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus — and the situation changed dramatically.

Brazil is now considered the epicenter of the Zika outbreak, which coincides with at least 4,000 reports of babies born with microcephaly just since October.
When examining a rapidly expanding potential pandemic, it’s necessary to leave no stone unturned so possible solutions, as well as future prevention, will be as effective as possible. In that vein, there was another significant development in 2015.

Oxitec first unveiled its large-scale, genetically-modified mosquito farm in Brazil in July 2012, with the goal of reducing “the incidence of dengue fever,” as The Disease Daily reported. Dengue fever is spread by the same Aedes mosquitoes which spread the Zika virus — and though they “cannot fly more than 400 meters,” WHO stated, “it may inadvertently be transported by humans from one place to another.” By July 2015, shortly after the GM mosquitoes were first released into the wild in Juazeiro, Brazil, Oxitec proudly announced they had “successfully controlled the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads dengue fever, chikungunya and zika virus, by reducing the target population by more than 90%.”

Michael Moore: 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy, But I Will

Michael Moore: 10 Things They Won’t Tell You About the Flint Water Tragedy, But I Will

News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a wide audience around the world. The basics are now known: the Republican governor, Rick Snyder, nullified the free elections in Flint, deposed the mayor and city council, then appointed his own man to run the city. To save money, they decided to unhook the people of Flint from their fresh water drinking source, Lake Huron, and instead, make the public drink from the toxic Flint River.


When the governor’s office discovered just how toxic the water was, they decided to keep quiet about it and covered up the extent of the damage being done to Flint’s residents, most notably the lead affecting the children, causing irreversible and permanent brain damage. Citizen activists uncovered these actions, and the governor now faces growing cries to resign or be arrested.

Here are 10 things that you probably don’t know about this crisis because the media, having come to the story so late, can only process so much. But if you live in Flint or the State of Michigan as I do, you know all to well that what the greater public has been told only scratches the surface.

1. While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to the Clean Water. A few months after Gov. Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades, the brass from General Motors went to him and complained that the Flint River water was causing their car parts to corrode when being washed on the assembly line. The governor was appalled to hear that GM property was being damaged, so he jumped through a number of hoops and quietly spent $440,000 to hook GM back up to the Lake Huron water, while keeping the rest of Flint on the Flint River water. Which means that while the children in Flint were drinking lead-filled water, there was one—and only one—address in Flint that got clean water: the GM factory.

2. For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could’ve Been Prevented. Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water. Someone at the beginning suggested to the governor that they add this anti-corrosive element to the water coming out of the Flint River. “How much would that cost?” came the question. “$100 a day for three months,” was the answer. I guess that was too much, so, in order to save $9,000, the state government said f*** it—and as a result the State may now end up having to pay upwards of $1.5 billion to fix the mess.

3. There’s More Than the Lead in Flint’s Water. In addition to exposing every child in the city of Flint to lead poisoning on a daily basis, there appears to be a number of other diseases we may be hearing about in the months ahead. The number of cases in Flint of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfold since the switch to the river water. Eighty-seven people have come down with it, and at least ten have died. In the five years before the river water, not a single person in Flint had died of Legionnaires Disease. Doctors are now discovering that another half-dozen toxins are being found in the blood of Flint’s citizens, causing concern that there are other health catastrophes which may soon come to light.

4. People’s Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold. Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would? So every homeowner in Flint is stuck with a house that’s now worth nothing. That’s a total home value of $2.4 billion down the economic drain. People in Flint, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., don’t have much to their name, and for many their only asset is their home. So, in addition to being poisoned, they have now a net worth of zero. (And as for employment, who is going to move jobs or start a company in Flint under these conditions? No one.) Has Flint’s future just been flushed down that river?

5. While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed. Here’s a story which has received little or no coverage outside of Flint. During these two years of water contamination, residents in Flint have had to contend with a decision made by the Pentagon to use Flint for target practice. Literally. Actual unannounced military exercises—complete with live ammo and explosives – were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated homes had rocket-propelled grenades fired upon them. For weeks, an undisclosed number of army troops pretended Flint was Baghdad or Damascus and basically had at it. It sounded as if the city was under attack from an invading army or from terrorists. People were shocked this could be going on in their neighborhoods. Wait—did I say “people?” I meant, Flint people. As with the governor, it was OK to abuse a community that held no political power or money to fight back. BOOM!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Senior Center Proposal Reduced In Size, Cost

Senior Center Proposal Reduced In Size, Cost
Hubbardston officials hope scaled-down project will pass muster with residents
News staff photo by Tara Vocino Top, the majority of Building Committee members agreed that a 5,000-square-foot facility is all that is needed instead of the original 6,500-square-foot building proposal. Right, Architect John Caitlin presents a floor plan for the senior center proposal.
+ click to enlarge
News staff photo by Tara Vocino Top, the majority of Building Committee members agreed that a 5,000-square-foot facility is all that is needed instead of the original 6,500-square-foot building proposal. Right, Architect John Caitlin presents a floor plan for the senior center proposal.
+ click to enlarge
Tara Vocino

HUBBARDSTON –– The Build­ing Committee proposed a 5,000-square-foot senior center to architect John Caitlin late last week.

According to Board of Selectmen Chairman Dan Galante, the original proposal was 6,500 square feet, just two weeks ago. Caitlin will go before the Building Committee on Friday with a revised floor plan for the senior center and a draft program for the public safety/fire complex.

There’d be room for storage and expansion of added rooms, dependent upon if seniors can raise funds. The current senior center is 44-by-32 feet.

Council on Aging Director Claudia Provencal said seniors are going to do a big push. They hope to raise a couple thousand dollars at a June yard sale.

“Now that we have land and the green light to go forward, we can go for grants and fundraise,” Provencal said.

Building Committee Chairman William Murray said Provencal is an amazing fundraiser. So far, they’ve raised $25,000.

“We can always take away at the end, or fundraise more,” Murray said.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Zika virus spreading explosively, says World Health Organisation

Zika virus spreading explosively, says World Health Organisation

Director general convenes emergency committee, saying ‘level of alarm is extremely high’ as virus has now been detected in 23 countries

The World Health Organisation has convened an emergency committee to discuss the “explosive” spread of the Zika virus, which has been linked to thousands of birth defects in Latin America.
“Last year the disease was detected in the Americas, where it is spreading explosively,” Margaret Chan, the WHO director general, said at a special briefing in Geneva. It was “deeply concerning” that the virus had now been detected in 23 countries in the Americas, she added.

One WHO scientist estimated there could be 3-4m Zika infections in the Americas over the next year.
The spread of the virus has prompted governments across the world to advise pregnant women against going to the areas where it has been detected. There is no vaccine or cure for Zika, which has been linked to microcephaly, a serious condition that can cause lifelong developmental problems.
Chan said: “The level of alarm is extremely high. Arrival of the virus in some cases has been associated with a steep increase in the birth of babies with abnormally small heads.”

She added: “A causal relationship between Zika virus and birth malformations and neurological syndromes has not yet been established – this is an important point – but it is strongly suspected.
“The possible links have rapidly changed the risk profile of Zika from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions. The increased incidence of microcephaly is particularly alarming as it places a heartbreaking burden on families and communities.”
Chan outlined four reasons for alarm: “First, the possible association of infection with birth malformations and neurological syndromes. Second, the potential for further international spread given the wide geographical distribution of the mosquito vector. Third, the lack of population immunity in newly affected areas. Fourth, the absence of vaccines.”

This year’s El Niño weather patterns meant mosquito populations were expected to spread, Chan added. “For all these reasons, I have decided to convene an emergency committee under the international health regulations,” she said.

The committee will meet on Monday and will advise on the international responses and specific measures in affected countries and elsewhere.

Brazilian authorities estimate the country could have up to 1m Zika infections by now, and since September, the country has registered nearly 4,000 cases of babies with microcephaly.

The Zika outbreak and spike in microcephaly cases have been concentrated in the poor and underdeveloped north-east. But the south-east, where São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are located, is the nation’s second hardest-hit region. Rio de Janeiro is of particular concern, since it will host the Olympic games this summer.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said the IOC was in “close contact” with Brazilian authorities and the WHO, and that all national Olympic bodies would be advised on how to deal with the virus before the Games started.

The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff, has pledged to wage war against the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads the virus, focusing on getting rid of the insect’s breeding grounds.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there had been 31 cases of Zika infection among US citizens who travelled to areas affected by the virus, but so far there had been no cases of transmission of the virus through mosquitoes in the US itself. The White House said its experts were most concerned about its potential impact on women who are pregnant or could become pregnant.
US officials said the country had two potential candidates for a vaccine, and might begin clinical trials in people by the end of this year. But experts in disease control have warned they do not expect to have a vaccine available in 2016.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Thursday that previous research into dengue fever, the West Nile virus and the chikungunya virus would give scientists an “existing vaccine platform” which could be used as “a jumping-off point” for finding a cure to the Zika virus.

“It is important to note that we will not have a widely available safe and effective Zika vaccine this year and probably not in the next few years,” Fauci said, before adding that scientists might be able to begin “a phased clinical trial in this calendar year”.

Addressing the global threat, Lawrence Gostin, a public health law expert from Georgetown University, warned that Zika had an “explosive pandemic potential”.

Speaking to the BBC’s World Service, Gostin, a member of a commission that criticised the WHO for its response to Ebola, said: “With the Rio Olympics on our doorstep I can certainly see this having a pandemic potential.”

He said every review of the WHO’s response to Ebola found that it was “too little, too late”.
Interviewed minutes before Chan’s announcement, he said: “I’m disappointed that the WHO has not been acting proactively. They have not issued any advice about travel, about surveillance, about mosquito control.

“The very first thing I would propose is a global mosquito eradication effort, particularly in areas with ongoing Zika transmission. We really need to declare war on this species of mosquito.”

Negligence by Southern California Gas Co. led to massive Porter Ranch-area gas leak, AQMD says

Negligence by Southern California Gas Co. led to massive Porter Ranch-area gas leak, AQMD says

The government agency that regulates Southern California's air quality sued Southern California Gas Co. on Tuesday, accusing the company of negligence in a massive gas well leak that has forced thousands to leave their homes.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District said the utility's negligence extended to the design, construction, operation and inspection of one of the wells at the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility near Porter Ranch, according to the civil complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

The well, one of 115 at the sprawling storage facility, has been leaking since Oct. 23, sending methane into the atmosphere above the Los Angeles Basin. The gas has a noxious additive that has also entered the air, prompting residents' complaints of a rotten egg-like smell.

The lawsuit alleges the gas company has violated air quality regulations and state law for each day that the well continues to leak, and it faults the utility for a sluggish response to what has become a regional public health threat. The suit seeks up to $250,000 in civil penalties for each day that a specific violation has occurred.
Kristine Lloyd, a spokeswoman for Southern California Gas, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.

The company has tried several times to plug the well, but those efforts were unsuccessful.
Since early December, the utility has been drilling a relief well to intercept gas from the damaged one and seal it. On Monday, the company said that the relief well had reached 8,400 feet below the surface, about 200 feet away from where it is designated to enter the damaged well.

The well continues to spew methane, a greenhouse gas that has a more potent effect on climate change than carbon dioxide. The rate of release has slowed, however, dropping to 18,400 kilograms per hour of methane as of last week. At its peak in November, the well released 58,000 kilograms of methane.
The leak has displaced thousands of Porter Ranch residents, many of whom have complained of headaches, nausea, respiratory problems and other health maladies.

According to the lawsuit, the air quality agency has received more than 2,000 odor complaints from those living and working near the Aliso Canyon facility.

The lawsuit comes days after the agency approved a comprehensive abatement order that requires the gas company to permanently shut down the damaged well, establish a leak detection system and conduct an independent health study.

The lawsuit is one of several filed against the gas company since the leak was first reported. In December, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer sued the utility, alleging that the company was ill-prepared to stop a leak.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno.
How much damage is the Porter Ranch leak doing to the climate?
Regulators order new steps to contain gas leak near Porter Ranch
Gas company forced to resume offering rental houses to Porter Ranch families

Health Commissioner Bharel passes buck on correction of fluoridation’s cost savings

Massachusetts Fluoridation News
_____________________________________________________________________________________________ Vol. 2 No. 7 Belchertown, Massachusetts January 11, 2016 

Health Commissioner Bharel passes buck on correction of fluoridation’s cost savings 

Despite a peer-reviewed analysis that found no cost savings from water fluoridation when the cost of repairing dental fluorosis is factored in, state health officials maintain the practice saves money.
In a letter to Health Commissioner Monica Bharel last year we wrote: 
  In your April 28, 2015 letter to Massachusetts Boards of Health you assert that, “...for every dollar spent on community water fluoridation, up to $38 is saved in treatment costs for tooth decay.” While this has long been claimed by the public health bureaucracy, you should know that recent research does not support this assertion, and has found that there is no savings from water fluoridation when the cost of repairing the dental fluorosis caused by the water fluoridation is taken into account. 
  “This research by Ko and Thiessen, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, refutes the claims of this $38 savings per dollar spent. I would respectfully request that you stop making this claim, and that you send a letter to the Boards of Health making the correction. I would also invite you to comment on the record on this matter for my weekly newsletter the Massachusetts Fluoridation News.” 
  In response, Director of the state Office of Oral Health, Craig S. Andrade, writes, “The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) supports community water fluoridation and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s affirmation that fluoridation saves money in dental treatment costs for tooth decay.” 
  He makes no reference to the Ko and Thiessen study, and concludes, “For any further concerns about this study (sic), please contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” 

Michigan, EPA faulted for not protecting Flint from lead in water

State officials mislead Flint, Michigan residents about the hazardous chemicals in their drinking water while the regional Environmental Protection Agency allowed the City of Flint to continue to operate its water supply in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, according to a report in the Jan. 16 issue of The Guardian.
Last fall “tests revealed elevated levels of chemical compounds in the water supply that can lead to liver or kidney issues. Nonetheless, officials downplayed residents’ concerns, saying – confidently – that the water was safe to drink,” reported the newspaper. 
  The head of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Dan Wyant, has resigned in disgrace because of his office’s mishandling of the matter. 
  Democractic Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has called for Michigan governor Rick Snyder to resign over the matter, calling the Flint water crisis, “one of the worst public health crises in the modern history of this country.” 
  According to press reports the City of Flint did not implement proper corrosion control measures, so the untreated water eroded lead from the city’s plumbing.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wi-Fi lawsuit against Southboro's Fay School is headed to trial

  • Wi-Fi lawsuit against Southboro's Fay School is headed to trial

  • By Scott O'Connell
    Telegram & Gazette Staff

    Posted Jan. 18, 2016 at 7:50 PM

    S0UTHBORO - A lawsuit accusing the Fay School of failing to accommodate a student's alleged Wi-Fi sensitivity is headed to trial in August, according to court documents.
    The family of “G,” a 12-year-old who attended the Southboro junior boarding school, says the boy suffers from a condition called Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome, which makes him feel ill when exposed to wireless Internet signals. They argue in their complaint, which they filed in August, that the Fay School ignored their pleas to find accommodations for G, who was experiencing dizziness, headaches and other symptoms in class because of the school’s Wi-Fi.
    After a scheduling conference was held Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Worcester, the case is set to go to trial on Aug. 8 before District Judge Timothy S. Hillman, according to court records. The plaintiffs are seeking $250,000.
    “They’re looking forward to having their case presented to a judge,” said their lawyer John J.E. Markham II. “They think there’s a way to work out accommodations, and that there’s a lot to be learned about Wi-Fi and its potential dangers.”
    G’s lawsuit cites medical experts who attested to the validity of the boy’s electromagnetic hypersensitivity symptoms. But the condition is controversial, and not universally recognized in the medical community.

Comments in response to-Can This Project Be Changed?

Comments in response to - Can This Project Be Changed?

It began with :
Comment from the Blog-

Bob M January 23, 2016 at 4:27 PM

OK, so a continuation of my previous line of thought. $22.7 million is only roughly 48% of the entire cost of the project.
None of the numbers I'm hearing seem to be adding up. I believe Ms. Farrel mentioned a 62% figure for state re-reimbursement.

Is anyone aware of a method in which we could stop this school from progressing at this point. You know your getting fleeced when the tax calculation has already been made and we have no final design or a bond rating.

C'mon, I just read the teachers wanted the lounges moved together and on one floor which has to change the design and cost structures, additional this, moving that.......yet we have a price to

There has been some talk about a citizens petition for the annual town meeting in May. Not to stop the project but to move the location of the elementary school - either to Putnam's land or 9 Main St. in Otter River.

Comments on this post:
  1. "If you think "schooling" and education are one and the same, well you have been "schooled." If you think "schooling" and education are opposites, you have been well educated. anonymous.
  2. I am not in favor of the way that this project was approved. Having a Special Town Meeting and a Special Election with low turnout is not in the spirit of fair play, and in the interest of the will of the majority.

    One thing that may be possible is a Prop 2 1/2 underride. It can be initiated via Citizen Petition. Revoke the debt exclusion. Schedule the election for the annual town election. At least that way, it would be more than 29.3% of the registered voters making the decision.

    It is bad civics to sneak items through by scheduling an election in December. That's been the case too often in Templeton.
    1. There is no surprise that I do not support the building of a school of this size, within the chestnuts throw of the Common. When I was in high school, maybe 9th. grade, the town was in the process of tearing down the Templeton Inn. I walked through it, and climbed the stairway to the top. This was a beautiful building, that never should have been torn down. I could not do anything at that time, but I can atleast try this time. I will support and work with anyone that wants to take this on. Hit or miss, I will know that at least I tried. Bev.
  3. David,

    I see were you are going with this. Wouldn't the 10 person lawsuit by denied by the fact that we have spent money on the design?

    I'm totally willing to sign on to anything that delays or stop us from building this monstrosity in teh center of town.
  4. Bob M,

    The money for the design phase was voted and borrowed already. There is no explanation of how the town is going to borrow 47 million without a bond rating which would be the basis for the ten taxpayer lawsuit. An injunction may be possible to stop the project until the town has a bond rating. Then actual costs for the project would be known.

    Look up Mass General Law chapter 40 section 53 for more information. You might want to argue that a $48 million dollar project without a bond rating is an abuse of corporate power. You may be to "restrain the unlawful exercise or abuse of such corporate power." by filing a ten taxpayer lawsuit.

    You won't know if it will work until you try.

    You might want to submit a blog here to see if there is support for such an idea. It will be posted.

    Send blog to :

  5. Paul, I'm not remotely convinced we could do that. The way the warrant for the town election was written it states........

    Shall the Town of Templeton be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bonds issued in order to pay costs of designing, constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a new Templeton Elementary School located at 17 South Road, Templeton Massachusetts, including the payment of all costs incidental or related thereto?

    Nothing in that notice states a rate, amount of any kind. It just says the taxpayers agreed to pay whatever the damn thing costs. We were told all type of things, but what we voted on is so basic anything they spend money on we are stuck paying for.

    In my spare time I will be looking for means to halt this process. I'm willing to sign on to anyone viable plan, but if I'm going to spend my time I need to be convinced I'd have some chance of success. I'm not looking to cost the town more money fighting me just because I filed.

  6. ANYTHING that will allow change to this terrible plot is worth looking into. where do I sign?
  7. Just a thought for everyone to think about and hopefully spark a workable idea.

    Is the lack of an specific information on the warrant an issue we could work with? Something like, how could the citizens reasonably determine what they voted for, no numbers,nothing. That vote is a blank check. How can it be valid?
  8. The fact we are spending millions on a building tear down and road infrastructure changes not to mention a new playground removal and installation are some of the costs not about a school improvement project. The fact is spending money that will not improve schools or education is not what the people voted for. The days for spending money we don't need to spend are and should be gone. Are they? Will we go borrow millions and spend millions we don't need to? Why? Look what we could spend the millions on if we thought it out better and were not being pushed into a shitty deal by the state MSBA. Who thinks the center of Templeton should be the worst part of Templeton. Those who voted for this project to be put in Templeton center are being used and taken advantage of as uneducated taxpayers sold on a poor outdated education system we can no longer trust with our money. One only has to look at the new wood chip boiler math to see what i mean. You will be told what you need to hear to vote the way they want you to vote. When the budget is short they take it out on the kids threaten to cut things like sports and buses. This gets to the voters and the votes go the way they want. Let the schools fall apart, don't paint them or do repairs and then show the voters how bad they are so we need a brand new one. The true vote for a new school is needed when we have financial bond knowledge, a cost for it, a place for it and the people in favor of it as a majority of the town. I'm NOT sure at this point we have any of the things just mentioned.
  9. David,

    I completely agree. No town representative should be allowed to create new debt when we dont even know our financial shape. We dont have certification of free cash, audit for 2013, never mind 2015.

    I hope everyone who reads this blog talks, googles, researches so we might find a better solution together or a means to at least stop this disaster.
  10. finally a few people are making sense!! late, but making sense. we have 40 year notes set up by past selectman that tell how smart they are. econ #101 will tell you if you can't afford something don't get it. a 40 year note means that you can't afford it. we have had select people, you can't call them men, that have not allowed towns people to speak, and then as a total coward call for police protection to get to his car. bob m, I have said many times I will not pay attention to anyone how won't show there face and tell us how they are. in your case I have made a exception!
    1. The few taxpayers that voted yes, have given the builders a free pass to spend what they want. Did anyone ask who was going to pay to move the playground, at the last meeting ?? I did not watch the meeting, but I will guess that no one did. If they did not think to ask, why not ?? Are we made of money ?? I know I am not. I do know we need to get out finances straight, or it will be like every other year, mickey mousing things, so they "look good", until things get bad again. This is how the Town has run since the 70's. With change orders as the project goes along, how much do you think this school will cost??
  11. With all due respect to Dave, Bev, and Pete F., if this is to be brought to town meeting we really need Someone else to stand and present the case, I'm just saying that it doesn't matter what the issue is, as soon as 1 of you guys get up the crowd has already made up their mind and will vote against because they have all been led to believe you are all troublemakers. If this comes to fruition I just may come out from behind moms apron.
  12. Hard to tell who "we" are Do when "you" stay in the dark unknown part of Templetons history.
 So far, a whole lot of nothing!

Templeton Pleased With Gov. Baker's Local Aid Proposal

Templeton Pleased With Gov. Baker's Local Aid Proposal
‘That’s more than I expected, and it’s definitely welcome.’ — Robert Markel, interim town administrator
Tara Vocino

TEMPLETON  The good news is that Templeton will get a 4.3 percent increase in local aid, but the bad news is it’ll be offset by costs from the Worcester County Regional Contributory Retirement System.

While local aid will increase, the retirement payment is also going up.

The town will pay about $663,582 in retirement costs this year and according to interim Town Administrator Robert Markel, the town paid about $453,000 last year.

It would be a deficit of about $223,000, from one year to the next in the retirement account, but an announcement last week suggested good news to help made up for that deficiency.

Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday at the annual municipal association conference that all 351 towns and cities in Massachusetts will receive a 4.3 percent increase in state aid, which will amount to about a $50,000 increase for Templeton.

Markel said he drafted a 2 percent increase in the budget, and the extra money is more than what he expected.

“That’s a very significant increase in state aid,” Markel said. “That’s more than I expected, and it’s definitely welcome.”

Markel called the money general government aid for the town, and he said it’ll be used across the board to fund operations. The funds to make up for the increased retirement costs have already been appropriated in the budget, but that increase is not expected to hurt as bad with the increase in local aid.

He added that the extra money usually tilts toward Chapter 70 education aid, which is seeing a lower increase of 1.6 percent. Statewide, Chapter 70 would increase by $72.1 million to $4.58 billion.

“I’m happy with the additional state money for the town,” Markel said.

Markel said while the retirement increase has an effect on all towns in Worcester County, the town would hurt more if it wasn’t for Baker’s good news.

Full-time employees have to contribute to the retirement system by setting aside 9 percent of their income.

However, employees with larger salaries usually contribute 11 percent.

“During their career, they pay in, and when they retire, they pay you,” Markel said.

However, he said this money isn’t finalized, and it is subject to the Legislature. However, it sounds promising.

“The Legislature has to approve the governor’s recommendation,” he said.

“If anything, they increase it. They usually don’t decrease it.” Baker will declare his budget to the Legislature any day now, and this request will be a part of his recommendations.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Time for FERC to pipe down

Time for FERC to pipe down

This month, more than 165 organizations and 2000 concerned people from across America sent a letter to Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asking for justice. Not justice for any one individual – justice for the country and the environment. As key members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Sanders and Warren have the ear of the Government Accountability Office and the power to successfully call for an investigation into what has become a rogue federal agency: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Does “rogue” sound harsh? Well, FERC’s actions are harsher. The agency is supposed to regulate pipeline companies, but recent history shows it is behaving more like an advocate acting on their behalf, helping to grease the wheels for the pipeline companies regardless of the value of their projects or the harms they inflict on communities and the environment. Of all of the agencies in the entire federal government, FERC has the highest approval rate for the projects submitted to it for approval: 100 percent. That’s right, since 1986 FERC has green-lighted every single proposal the pipeline industry sent its way and up to its Commissioners. That’s not a regulatory agency, that’s a rubber stamp.

Casavant On Board

Casavant On Board
Tara Vocino

n TEMPLETON Christopher Casavant signed an employment contract on Monday to accept the Nar­ragansett Regional School Dis­trict superintendent position, effective July 1,

Casavant serves as the Gardner Public Schools business administrator, but he plans to get more involved in the Narragansett school district, especially outside of business hours, now that his agreement is official.

He signed the contract with interim Superintendent Dr. Steve Hemman and School Committee members by his side.

“The next step is coming into the district and the question phase,” Casavant said.

Calling it “the best possible scenario,” Casavant said he will shadow Hemman by asking him questions through the process, meeting people and doing the “legwork” from now until the summer.

“I look forward to meeting as many people as possible in the district – from both towns – since a great part of coming into this position is meeting folks,” Casavant said.

NED pipeline would imperil Ipswich, put North Shore drinking water supplies at risk

NED pipeline would imperil Ipswich, put North Shore drinking water supplies at risk

26 Jan (Bob Croce is Chair of Peabody Citizens United, and a candidate for State Representative in the MA 13th Essex District.)
By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

I’ve used this space over the past year to talk about the critically important homeowner rights and safety issues surrounding Kinder Morgan’s proposed Northeast Energy Direct (NED) pipeline. But today, I’d like to bring up a concern that should be front and center, not just in Peabody, Danvers and Middleton, but throughout the North Shore.

Protecting our public drinking water supply.

We should remind ourselves of the tragedy of Flint, Mich., and come to a consensus that locating this pipeline within the Ipswich Watershed District is just too much of a risk for the half million North Shore residents who draw water from this endangered river. Now is the time for our North Shore elected leaders to unite and lobby the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to not approve this new gas pipeline infrastructure for an area so vital to the health and well being of our communities.

Graduation rates up, dropout rates down in Central Mass.

  • Graduation rates up, dropout rates down in Central Mass.

  • Instructor Phyllis Goldstein on Thursday asks her students to interview each other during English 101, a Quinsigamond Community College course offered after school at North High School in Worcester.Instructor Phyllis Goldstein on Thursday asks her students to interview each other during English 101, a Quinsigamond Community College course offered after school at North High School in Worcester. From left, students Thu Le, Veronica Miletti and Camilla Penaherrera work with their partners. T&G Staff/Christine Hochkeppel

  • Instructor Phyllis Goldstein on Thursday asks her students to interview each other during English 101, a Quinsigamond Community College course offered after school at North High School in Worcester.North High School senior Jasmin Addai reads through the play "Up the Down Staircase" during a Drama Club meeting after school Thursday in Worcester.From left, North High School juniors Xavier Fontanez, Jose Rosario, Tyler Williston and senior Kesia Baah read through the play "Up the Down Staircase" during a Drama Club meeting after school Thursday.  T&G Staff/Christine HochkeppelNorth High School senior Abdul Abdul and junior Anissa Agyei interview each other during English 101, a Quinsigamond Community College course offered after school in Worcester.   T&G Staff/Christine Hochkeppel

  • By Scott O'Connell
    Telegram & Gazette Staff

    Posted Jan. 21, 2016 at 8:37 PM
    Updated Jan 21, 2016 at 8:50 PM

    WORCESTER - The Worcester schools’ four-year graduation rate eclipsed 80 percent for the first time this past school year, contributing to an overall upward trend in the region and state.
    Across Massachusetts, 87.3 percent of students graduated on time in 2014-15, an increase of 1.2 percent from the year before. Over the same period, the state’s dropout rate fell a tenth of a percentage point, from 2 to 1.9 percent.
    The last year’s progress continues a multi-year trend in the state since 2010, when it was awarded a $15 million federal grant to tackle high dropout rates. In Worcester, for instance, that initiative led to the formation of school building-based intervention teams and coalitions that focused on getting the most at-risk students back on track to graduate.
    On Thursday, hours after the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released the 2014-15 graduation and dropout rates, Worcester Interim Superintendent Marco Rodrigues directly traced the district’s improved rates to the work of those teams.
    “We’re very excited,” he said at a press conference in his office at the Durkin Administration Building. “We expected some positive movements, but this is always a time to celebrate. A lot of people made a commitment, and now we’re seeing the results.”
    The district’s four-year graduation rate improved from 79.2 percent in 2013-14 to 80.8 percent last school year, while its dropout rate decreased from 2.4 to 1.7 percent. A few of Worcester’s high schools in particular have made significant gains over the last few years, led by North High, whose four-year graduation rate jumped from just 55.1 percent in 2011 to 77.6 percent this past year. The school’s dropout rate also shrunk during the last four years from 7.5 to 1.8 percent, according to the state’s data.
    Worcester was one of several urban school districts state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester commended in a conference call Thursday. He reserved special praise for the Leominster schools, whose superintendent, James Jolicoeur, joined Mr. Chester on the call.
    “One of our major objectives district-wide has been to get to know every student and develop strategies to make them successful,” said Mr. Jolicoeur, whose district boasted a 90.7 percent graduation rate and 0.7 dropout rate last school year.
    Mr. Jolicoeur in particular credited Leominster’s innovation school programs with providing alternative pathways for students to reach graduation on time.
    In Southbridge, where the state is moving to put the school system under state control, the graduation rate last year was 67.9 percent compared to 69.6 percent in 2014. The school's drop out rate improved from 4.4 percent in 2014 to 2.6 percent in 2015.
    Overall, Mr. Chester said he was proud of the “tremendous” gains made statewide in the latest graduation data. But he also tempered that enthusiasm with a more realistic outlook on the issues schools still face trying to get students to not only graduate, but also leave prepared for whatever next step they make in their careers.
    “We know too many of our graduates are not ready to succeed,” he said, referring in particular to the “sobering” number of high school graduates in the state who have to take remedial coursework after enrolling at community college.
    Mr. Chester said the state’s new MCAS test, which is currently in development and set to debut in 2017, will help provide a better gauge of whether students are “ready to meet the expectations of colleges and employers" upon graduation.
    The commissioner also emphasized the importance of not giving up on the shrinking percentage of students who drop out before even graduating high school. Although the state’s federal grant targeting dropout rates expired this past year, Mr. Chester said Massachusetts has received another award, this one for $200,000, from the U.S. government that it plans to use as part of a new initiative aimed at improving the graduate and dropout rates for English language learners. The state plans to work with 10 urban districts on the project, including Worcester, where Mr. Rodrigues said schools are already “way ahead of the curve” on helping students who are still trying to master English.


Narragansett buildings and grounds director moving on
News staff photos by Tara Vocino Outgoing District Director of Buildings and Grounds William Clabaugh, left, talks with Caroline Hemman, interim Superintendent Stephen Hemman and Director of Pupil Personnel Services John Salovardos, second from left.
+ click to enlarge
News staff photos by Tara Vocino Outgoing District Director of Buildings and Grounds William Clabaugh, left, talks with Caroline Hemman, interim Superintendent Stephen Hemman and Director of Pupil Personnel Services John Salovardos, second from left.
News staff photos by Tara Vocino Former custodians at Baldwinville Elementary School Stanley Rogalski and Ken Taylor agreed that Bill Clabaugh, left, was an understanding boss.
+ click to enlarge
News staff photos by Tara Vocino Former custodians at Baldwinville Elementary School Stanley Rogalski and Ken Taylor agreed that Bill Clabaugh, left, was an understanding boss.
Tara Vocino

TEMPLETON  Outgoing Narragansett Re­gion­al School District Buildings and Grounds Director William Clabaugh was given a rousing send-off on Monday by former colleagues, custodians and administration in the Central Office at Narragansett Regional High School.

He worked at ’Gansett for 15 years, with his last day on Friday, Jan. 29. He is heading to the Sizer School, a charter school in Fitchburg, on Wed­nesday, Feb. 3.

Middle School Principal Peter Cushing presented Clabaugh with a chair with the district seal and Clabaugh’s name engraved by Standard Chair, of Gardner.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Steve Hemman also presented Clabaugh with a clock and plaque. Engraved it reads, “Thank you for all the 15 years of dedicated service to the staff and students of the Narra­gansett Regional School District from 2000 to 2015. All the best in your endeavors.”

Both gifts were presented on behalf of the district.

In between appetizers, custodians offered their goodbyes to Clabaugh.

’Gansett custodian Alan Le­Blanc worked under Clabaugh’s leadership for eight years and noted he always had a good working relationship with him, especially during difficult times.

LeBlanc’s grandfather, Robert Mable, 82, died suddenly recently, and LeBlanc said Clabaugh was more than understanding.

“I was at work when I heard the news, and he let me leave early that day,” LeBlanc said. “He let me take care of personal business and allowed me a few bereavement days.”