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TOWN OF REHOBOTH POSTS TWO DEPARTMENT HEAD JOBS

(August 30, 2014) The Town of Rehoboth has officially posted to department head job openings, the position of Fire Chief and the position of Veterans Services Officer.

  Longtime veteran fire chief Robert Pray, whose retirement has been planned and anticipated for the last year, will leave duty in early October.  His official retirement date is in March 2015. 

    The postion of Veterans Services Officer, aka Veterans Agent, is currently vacant. Selectmen hired Steve Arruda several months ago to replace Bill Saunders, who retired from the VSO position after fourteen years of service. Arruda, for reasons unspecified, is no longer a town employee.  Saunders has stepped in to serve temporarily through September 16.  Click here to view both job postings.

   

OFFICIALS MAKE 6-MONTH SCHOOL COM APPOINTMENT

(August 28, 2014) Rehoboth resident Katherine Cooper had been appointed to a six-month term on the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee. She fills an open seat left by the resignation of Ray Medeiros prior to the end of his elected term.

   Four candidates were interviewed for over an hour on Monday night by the five Rehoboth selectmen along with the four Rehoboth representatives of the school committee. The other candidates for the temporary appointment were Andrea Wasylow, Rachel Philip and David Reed.  All four were applauded by selectmen for their outstanding resumes and desire to serve the community on the regional district committee.

    The working relationship between selectmen and school committee members grew increasingly antagonist since the beginning of this year. Selectmen began discussing de-regionalizing the school district soon after the school committee announced a calculation mistake of over a million dollars in the yearly assessment for the school budget. Selectmen and candidates clearly acknowledged the obvious discord and rehashed elements of “divisiveness and level of mistrust.”

   When asked about their opinion on de-regionalizing, all four candidates said they would need to have more information, but offhand thought it would not be a cost-effective course of action. They did agree the regional district agreement has not been examined or changed in years and that would be an appropriate next step.

    The selectmen and Rehoboth members of the school committee voted 6 to 3 on a singular motion to appoint Cooper.  The permanent seat is up for election next April.


REHOBOTH POLICE ARREST TEEN AFTER HIGH SPEED CHASE

(August 27, 2014) Rehoboth police yesterday evening arrested a Swansea teen on Route 6 for an array of vehicular charges.

    According to the police press release, Sgt. Medeiros and patrolman Paul McGovern were monitoring traffic on Rt. 6 when several vehicles passed their location at a extremely high rate of speed and appeared to be racing.

   James S. Cornelison, age 18, was taken into custody after being pursued by Sgt. James Medeiros at speeds in excess of 90 mph on Route 6 in Rehoboth into the town of Swansea. Police say Cornelison’s vehicle, an Infinity, “turned down Baptist Street which is a dead end and came to a skidding stop.”

    Cornelison was charged with drag racing, reckless operation, refusing to stop for police and speeding. He was released on $540 cash bail and was scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.


REHOBOTH SELECTMEN TO MEET WITH DIGHTON SELECTMEN,

INTERVIEW CANDIDATES FOR SCHOOLCOM SEAT

(August 25, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen today have a packed agenda for tonight’s BOS meeting at the senior center beginning  with a chat with the Dighton selectmen followed by interview of candidates for the empty Rehoboth school committee seat. 

    Selectmen will continue a discussion of a request to place a third stop sign at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street, a request for a guardrail at 299 Plain Street, and a request to use the old Anawan School for a yard sale.

    Operation of the Blanding Public Library will be addressed when selectmen vote to authorize a payment of $101K to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, and sign a grant agreement between the town and RAS.

     Other business will include accepting Chapter 90 money of $48,333 for Wheeler Street, $29K for drainage improvement in various locations, and $273K for resurfacing roadways.

    The town’s license renewal agreement with Comcast will be discussed along accepting $100K as a first payment for the license, along with approving the payment of $14K for legal fees related to the license renewal.  Selectmen will vote to accept additional Comcast monies of $89K for operation of RehobothTV, the selectmen-managed public access television operation.  Two weeks ago, selectmen requested a yearly payment of $40K to $50K from the Town of Dighton because RehobothTV broadcasts school committee meetings on Channel 15, a shared educational channel with Dighton Comcast subscribers.

    Also on tonight’s agenda will be a discussion of the October special town meeting and warrant articles for that meeting.  Selectmen will also vote to sign a pilot solar agreement with Blue Wave Capital for a potential solar farm at the Rehoboth landfill.

    The regular session of tonights BOS meeting will begin at 7 PM following an executive session featuring contract negotiations, the old Anawan School, a town building, and personnel issues.


KEVIN BRAGA NAMED NEW DRRHS PRINCIPAL

(August 21, 2014)  In a press release issued yesterday from Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Anthony C. Azar Kevin Braga was named the new principal at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

    Braga, a former history teacher at DRRHS for four years, was appointed one of the school’s assistant principals in 2011. A Navy veteran, Braga is a graduate of Bridgwater State College (now Bridgewater State University) were he earned a masters degree in Educational Leadership. 

   “We look forward to working with Mr. Braga as part of the Administrative T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Accomplishes More),” said Azar, “and we are confident that he will meet the extremely high expectations that we have set for him in this new role.” 

    The community is invited to meet Principal Braga and the school’s administrative team on Wednesday, August 27 at 6:30 PM in the high school’s media center.


LIVING HISTORY:  SEE REHOBOTH MINUTEMEN AT FORT TABOR

(August 18, 2014)  The Rehoboth Minute Company-13th Continental Regiment will participate in a living history encampment on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24 at Fort Tabor/Fort Rodman in New Bedford.

    The company of re-enactors, both militia and civilian, will be camping at the site all weekend. Visitors are welcome free of charge from 9 AM each day.  Battles will be held on the lawn surrounding the fort at 1 PM on both Saturday and Sunday.

   Considered a strategic location since the Revolutionary War, the fort was build in 1861.  A military museum on the site features local artifacts from every major war.  Both the museum and fort will be open to visitors all day.

    There will be two camps, one American Colonial and one British Regulars, with demonstrations of daily camp life with various colonial crafts and military drills.

    The Rehoboth company invites Rehoboth residents to visit them at their camp next weekend. Fort Taber is located at 1000 Rodney French Blvd/Clarks Point in New Bedford.


SELECTMEN SEEK APPLICANTS FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE SEAT

(August 14, 2014)  Earlier this week, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen accepted the resignation of Raymond Medeiros from the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District Committee.

   “Ray will be missed as a valuable member of the School Committee,” said BOS chair Mike Costello.  “It will be a challenge to appoint a Rehoboth resident with the same level of skills, commitment and experience he brought to each meeting.”

   Selectmen now seek applicants to fill the unexpired term of Medeiros or until the town’s annual election on April 6, 2015. Those interested should submit a letter of interest, a resume, and talent bank form to the selectmen’s office by noon on Thursday, August 21.

    Selectmen plan to meet with the four remaining elected Rehoboth school committee representatives on Monday, August 25 to interview candidates.  If an appointment is not made that night, the position will remain open until filled.


REHOBOTH CULTURAL COUNCIL WELCOMES GRANT APPLICATIONS

(August 13, 2014)  The Rehoboth Cultural Council, the local affiliate of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, announces the 2015 grant application period from September 1 through October 15.

   The local council receives an allotment of funds through the state council to grant to applicants for programs and projects promoting the arts, humanities and social sciences. Last year the council awarded fifteen grants for a variety of events or programs. Monies awarded by the local council are not part of the town budget.

   Grant-funded programs must be completed between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Grants are awarded on a reimbursement basis. Applicants should include a letter of support from the host agency or venue with their application. Teachers are encouraged to apply for grants which will help to defray the cost of field trips to cultural events. Applications must be postmarked by October 15, 2014.

    Volunteers from the Rehoboth Cultural Council will be available at the Blanding Library to assist potential grant recipients with the application process. The information sessions will be held on three dates in September at the Blanding Library: Thursday, September 4 from 1 to 3 PM; Thursday, September 11 from 12:30 to 2:30 PM;  and Wednesday, September 17 from 6 to 8 PM. Information and grant applications may be found at  mass-culture.org/Rehoboth.  

    The local counsel is actively seeking new members with an interest in promoting the arts in the local community. The group meets approximately four times a year. Those interested should complete a talent bank form and submit it at the town office.  Council members are appointed by the selectmen to a three-year term. 


SELECTMEN WANT DIGHTON TO PAY FOR ACCESS TO EDU CHANNEL 15

(August 12, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night expressed their intent to ask the Town of Dighton to contribute a undetermined sum for educational public access broadcast on Comcast Channel 15 by RehobothTV, the town operated public access provider.

    According to Selectman Sue Pimental, “our sister town of Dighton doesn’t contribute anything” to the expenses of broadcasting regional school committee meetings on Channel 15. She suggested Dighton pay a sum of $40K to $50K each year to receive Channel 15. Pimental previously stated that if Dighton fails to contribute, the school committee meetings could be broadcast on Rehoboth’s Channel 9, eliminating access by Dighton residents.

   Dighton broadcasts on their own government channel, but Comcast subscribers in that town receive Channel 15 from DRRHS since it is a regional school district’s educational channel. Currently RehobothTV provides the function of taping and broadcasting school committee meetings from the school.     

  In other business conducted last night, three of the four selectmen in attendance voted to approve the appointment of Kevin Silvestre to the Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency (REMA).  Selectmen Pimental objected to the appointment because Silvestre is not a resident of the town, but the other selectmen approved waiving that requirement.  Silvestre said he lives only minutes away and applied to become a member of REMA because he has lifelong ties with the town and wants to be of service.  Selectman Joe Tito said Silvestre, a pharmacist, brings a level of expertise and can help sheltered residents manage their medications during an emergency, particularly elders who may be on several maintenance medications.

    Selectmen last night also addressed the issue of a request to put a third stop sign at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street. Mike Costello, BOS chairman, said he had reports from both the highway department and police department with determinations that a third sign was unnecessary. Residents who live near the corner say a combination of elements make the intersection dangerous. 

   Selectmen acknowledged drivers on Fairview ignore the posted 25 mph speed limit about the sharp curve, while drivers coming in the opposite direction fail to stop. When asked about increasing police presence, Selectmen Skip Vadnais said recent budget cuts may prevent the police department from patrolling the area and stopping traffic violators.  Costello suggested the town look at putting up more cautionary signage. The issue was tabled until the selectmen meet again in two weeks.

   The BOS also accepted the resignation of Ray Medeiros from the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee.  Medeiros, who served as chair of the school committee last year, had eight months remaining to his elected term. Selectmen will be charged with appointing someone who finish out the term before next spring’s town election.


BACK TO REGULAR BUSINESS TONIGHT FOR BOARD OF SELECTMEN

(August 11, 2014)  With last week’s special town meeting over and an approved budget finally in place, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen return to regular town business tonight at 7 PM at the senior center.

   Following the town administrator’s report, selectmen will continue a discussion of  a Class II auto license for Lopes Auto Sales with company manager Vilma Perez. 

    Kevin Silvestre will be interviewed by selectmen for an appointment to Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency (REMA).

    Also on the agenda tonight are several topics of discussion.  Selectmen will discuss funding for the town-operated RehobothTV that provides programming on the town’s three public access channels provided through Comcast. Selectmen will also discuss raising departmental licensing and permitting fees, a process they have discussed previously to increase town revenue.  They will also spend time addressing the FY2016 budget.

    For the second time this month, selectmen will discuss a request for a third stop sign at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street.  The board will also vote to approve a Chapter 90 project request for appraisal work for the Wheeler Street Bridge restoration. 


200+ VOTERS APPROVE REDUCED BUDGET AT SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(August 8, 2014)  More than 230 Rehoboth voters last night at special town meeting quickly approved a reduced FY15 budget after listening to heartfelt appeals from officials.

    In the last few weeks, selectmen and the finance committee met numerous times to come up with ways to reduce the budget by almost $1.7M. Town department heads and committees were asked to reduce their previously approved budgets (made contingent on the passing of the override) by 20 percent.  Those reductions were combined with other elements to reach a balanced budget of $23M. 

    Officials were fast to remind residents the town’s fiscal crisis is not over, but approving their recommended budget last night accomplished several things including eliminating the need for layoffs of town employees.  With the newly approved budget, the town can maintain current level of operation and services offered at the senior center and library, protect the town’s bond rating. However, the reallocation of resources may cause delays in addressing essential, but not emergency, services. 

    “This does not heal us, just stops the bleeding,” said Selectmen Joe Tito. “There will be reductions of those nice-to-have things,” he added, “and new polices will be introduced to manage the new normal.”  Fees for town services and permits are likely to be increased. Plans to renovate existing town buildings, build a new town office, or hire more town employees have been put on hold.

     Along with departmental cuts, the budget gap was bridged by increased state aid of $25K, a reduction of $153K no longer needed in the school budget, anticipated local revenue growth, and using $500K the town made with sales of town real estate last year. That money had been earmarked for renovations to police and fire headquarters.

   “The heroes here are the town department heads and committee chairs,” said Finance Committee Chair Mike Deignan.  “This budget is balanced down to the penny.”

    Mike Costello, chair of the board of selectmen, explained to voters that while public safety will not be jeopardized, the police budget “took a hit” with a reduced budget that eliminated salary and incentive pay to promote the acting chief to permanent chief.  The police department must also cut down their detective division and reassign those officers to patrol duties.  They will not be able to replace the full-time school police officer who recently resigned.  That full-time position created after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

    The fire department also reduced their budget to cut down on duty time of on-call firefighters for routine station duty.  The highway department will not be able to hire additional employees.

   Costello reminded voters the town will face a “crisis next year as well” and that citizen involvement in town meeting is crucial.


REHOBOTH RESIDENTS INVITED TO NEW SOLAR ‘GARDEN’ ON BARNEY AVENUE

(August 6, 2014)   Local residents are invited to a grand opening event of the 997 kW Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array on Wednesday, August 13 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Crestwood Country Club in Rehoboth. The event will include tour of the solar installation following a program of speakers including representatives from Clean Energy Collective, Department of Energy, Weymouth Bank and leaders in the Massachusetts energy industry, and community solar customers.  Michael Costello, chairman of the Rehoboth Board of Selectman, will also speak.

   Affordability and accessibility are the two prime ingredients that give consumers choice in clean energy ownership. Through CEC’s Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array, nearly 1 megawatt of locally-made clean energy production is available to National Grid customers who cannot or prefer not to build a stand-alone PV system onsite. Representatives from CEC will also reveal plans for significantly accelerating solar’s momentum in Massachusetts.

   Community-owned solar allows home and business owners the option to own solar panels without the need to install them. Those attending the opening event will enjoy free ice cream from Like No Udder! and learn how to generate your own green power.


OFFICIALS TALK LOGISTICS FOR SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(August 5, 2014)   Rehoboth selectmen last night, together with the town moderator and town clerk, discussed logistics for the upcoming special town meeting to be held Thursday night at the high school.

    Along with standard procedural elements, officials addressed concerns with civility, safety and assuring the democratic process for what may become an emotionally charged meeting.

   The town faces a $1,658,740 budget deficit resulting from approval at May town meeting to increase the school budget by an equivalent amount.  That measure resulted in voters approving the town’s remaining operating budget contingent on a tax override ballot question in July. 

   Since voters failed to pass the override, selectmen charged town departments and boards to propose budget cuts of at least 20 percent.  While nearly $900K in proposed cuts have closed the gap, the town still faces a significant shortfall of over $700K to reach a balanced budget.

    While Rehoboth voters are being asked to consider three warrant articles related to the town budget, the selectmen’s recommendations on a budget (article 1) and a supplemental budget (article 2) won’t be available to the public until Thursday when it will be distributed to voters at the special town meeting. They say they hope to have it on the town’s website earlier if possible.

    Article three is a petition from the Blanding Library put on the warrant, as a procedural measure, to assure payments that have already been approved by voters in May.  The petition was circulated when selectmen tabled a scheduled payment to the library after repeated warnings the library faced closure if the override did not pass.  Selectmen released payment soon after the petition was submitted.

     “We all know we have a difficult night ahead of us,” said Town Moderator Bill Cute, who noted emotions are likely to run high. He urged residents to prepare their statements ahead of time. “You’re going to get three minutes,” he emphasized.  “Think about what you want to say.”

    With a fire capacity of 800 in the high school auditorium, overflow could be directed to the gymnasium. “I intend to make sure every seat (in the auditorium) is filled,” added Cute.  He cautioned residents if they don’t arrive early, they may not be able to sit where they want. 

   “It will be a night where people will have to be patient and flexible,” cautioned Cute, who added he “was not going to tolerate any game playing or grandstanding.” 

    Because the high school is located in Dighton, officials there require Rehoboth to hire an extra Dighton police officer and firefighter for a projected cost of $896 to cover two four-hours shifts if the meeting runs over.

   “That’s a neighborly thing,” said Selectmen Sue Pimental with irony, after hearing there is no option to paying for extra details.  Dighton officials will force an adjournment if the auditorium reaches capacity and there are no additional police/fire there on duty. Town Clerk Laura Schwall said she had asked Dighton officials if having extra Rehoboth police and firefighters there as backup would work and was told no.

      Pimental later on suggested Dighton be charged a fee for broadcast of regional school committee meetings on the shared Comcast public access educational Channel 15.  According to Pimental, Comcast subscribers in Dighton “get to see Channel 15 without paying for it.”  She suggested billing Dighton, or “move school committee meetings to Channel 9 (Rehoboth’s government channel), or discontinue Channel 15 in Dighton.”  Rehoboth selectmen took over direct operation of three public access channels after breaking the contract with the previous non-profit cable access provider resulting in ongoing litigation from both sides.

    Pimental also said she “bit her tongue” regarding recent complaints by “school committee members about microphones.”  Viewers in both towns reported ongoing problems with poor audio quality, along with a loud buzzing sound, at recent school committee meetings making it impossible to hear what was being said.    

   On Thursday night if relegated to the gym, voters must watch the meeting via projector with a three-minute broadcast delay. If anyone wishes to make a statement, they must walk to the auditorium.  Votes will be counted in both places and results relayed by walkie-talkie.  More tellers have already been scheduled to be in both rooms.

  The meeting is expected to be lengthy if residents don’t immediately vote to approve the selectmen’s recommended budgets.  If business is not completed on Thursday night, the meeting will reconvene the next evening. This is due to a narrow time constraint if voters approve another tax override ballot question, one that must be conducted in September before the town’s temporary 90-day budget expires. This also means added expense to conduct another election days apart from the state primary. 


TOWN MOVING FORWARD ON POTENTIAL REVENUE SOURCES

(August 5, 2014)  Town Administration Jeff Ritter told selectmen last night there has been progress on two measures that may be revenue producing for the town.

    The creation of a solar revenue account, approved by residents at town meeting, has reached the stage of a third reading in committee before heading to the state house and senate for approval, and finally the governor’s signature.

    Six months ago Selectman Sue Pimental (then chair) signed a grant application for a feasibility study for a joint communications center that will be shared by three communities - Rehoboth, Dighton, Fall River.  “The grant has been funded,” reported Ritter.  He explained the grant approval is just another step in the process of realizing savings and increasing revenue.


BOS AND FINCOM TO CONTINUE PREPPING FOR SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(August 4, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at the senior center in both executive and regular session at the senior center.  They will be joined by members of the town’s finance committee in reviewing the impact of proposed budget reductions to be recommended for voter approval at the special town meeting this Thursday at the high school.

    The selectmen’s agenda for tonight’s meeting includes a discussion with Town Moderator Bill Cute and Town Clerk Laura Schwall in preparation for the special town meeting that is expected to be lengthy and possible spill over to the next night.  Selectmen have already posted a meeting time for Friday, August 8 in the event the town meeting must be continued.  There is a timing element involved in completing the meeting quickly.  Voters this week may decide to approve another Proposition 2 1/2 override ballot vote to cover remaining deficit to the town budget.  That ballot vote must be scheduled before the temporary budget expires in September.

    Other business before the BOS tonight include several article items related to the Wheeler Street Bridge project.


REHOBOTH POLICE LOOKING FOR HOME INVADER

(August 1, 2014)  Rehoboth police were dispatched yesterday afternoon to a home on Pierce Lane in response to a report of a breaking and entering in progress.

   While in route, officers learned a female resident was on the 911 line hiding in a bathroom after finding an unknown male standing in her kitchen.  Three officers arrived at the scene simultaneously, but the suspect was gone.  Lt. Michael Brady, Sgt. Norman Todd, and Patrolman Louis DiBacco searched the home and adjacent areas including a golf course, but were unable to locate the man described as white and approximately 35 to 40 years of age.

    Officers discovered an open kitchen window with the screen pried apart. Kitchen items near the window were knocked over.

     According to the resident, she was home alone when she heard banging noises and her dog barking.  She went to kitchen area and saw a man with a crew cut wearing a black tee-shirt with the word “Boston” standing there.  He reportedly cursed and quickly exited through the open kitchen window.

    The resident’s mother soon arrived and noticed a bottle of ginger ale was missing from a cooler located on the porch near the open kitchen window.

    The scene was photographed and processed by both RPD detectives Jasson Ferreira and Nicole Eastwood. A canvass of the immediate area by Sgt. Todd proved unfruitful.  Rehoboth police are seeking the public’s assistance.  If anyone has any information regarding this incident, please contact the RPD at 508-252-3722 and ask for either Detective Ferreira or Detective Eastwood.


PROPOSED BUDGET CUTS STILL LEAVE $655K DEFICIT

(July 30, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen and other officials have met five times in the last nine days to address the $1,658,740 shortfall in the town budget resulting from the recent defeat of a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override ballot question on July 15.

   Selectmen and finance committee members are scheduled to meet again tonight and tomorrow to continue discussion about the budget with town departments and committees.  Selectmen, who will recommend an adjusted budget for voter approval at special town meeting on Thursday, August 7, last week asked department heads and committees to reduce their budgets by at least 20 percent. 

   On Monday, selectmen and finance committee members heard from representatives of the town clerk, board of health, forestry department, animal control, the council on aging that operates the senior center, board of assessors, planning board, conservation commission, and cemetery commission.

    Combined with budget cuts presented last week by public safety departments of police, fire and highway, the total amount of suggested cuts by Monday night was $850K. 

   More relief came last night after selectmen appealed to the regional school committee, at a special meeting, to voluntarily reduce their budget to help the Town of Rehoboth.  After several motions to reduce the school budget were defeated, committee members finally approved a $265,034 cut to be divided between the towns.  Rehoboth’s portion equals $153,300. 

   The school budget cut was made possible, according to officials, by a reduction in anticipated transportation costs due to increased reimbursement rates in the recently signed state budget.

   As of this morning, the town still faces a budget deficit of $655,440.  The town’s operating budget includes many obligations that can not be cut, such as pensions, various insurance, and tuition for out-of-district students who attend alternative high schools. 

    Tonight at the senior center beginning at 7 PM, selectmen and members of the finance committee will meet with the remaining departments and committees to hear their proposed 20 percent budget cuts. According to the agenda, the following budgets will be reviewed: town accountant, veterans services, REMA, agricultural commission, historical commission, zoning board of appeals, finance committee, stormwater, and the Memorial Day parade committee.  Town Administrator Jeff Ritter will address the budgets for facilities maintenance, municipal lights, town gasoline and fuel, and transportation costs of Rehoboth students who attend Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School.


DRIVER AND PASSENGER FOUND UNCONSCIOUS IN RUNNING CAR

(July 30, 2014)  Rehoboth police discovered two unconscious women in a running car on Slater Street yesterday morning around 1 AM and later arrested the driver on several charges including drunk driving.

    Officer Paul McGovern and Sgt. Brian Ramos responded to a report of a vehicle stopped in the middle of the roadway and idling for an extended period of time. A 1995 Honda Accord was stopped in the center of the roadway with two female occupants of the vehicle.  According to police, both women were unconscious and unresponsive.

    The driver, twenty-five-year old Tiffany Albert of Norwood and Attleboro, was slumped over into the passenger’s side front seat, sleeping with her foot on the brake and the car in gear. When wakened by McGovern, she removed her foot from the brake requiring the officer to jump aside while the car traveled about 75 additional feet before stopping.

    Albert was taken into custody while Rehoboth Ambulance was for the female passenger who remained unconscious. She was transported to Sturdy Hospital for suspected alcohol intoxication.  Several open alcohol containers were also discovered inside of the vehicle.  A alcohol breath test later revealed Albert’s blood alcohol concentration was over three times the legal limit.

     She was charged with operating under the influence, negligent operation, marked lane violation, open container violation and failure to wear a seatbelt.  An arraignment was held later yesterday in Taunton District Court.


SELECTMEN TO DISCUSS BUDGET REDUCTIONS, STOP SIGN ON FAIRVIEW

(July 28, 2014)   The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight in regular session, along with the Rehoboth Finance Committee, beginning at 7 PM at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.

    Selectmen will first address granting a Class II Auto License for Lopes Auto Sales before discussing proposed budget reductions for the board of health, board of assessors, town clerk, animal control, forestry, the council on aging that oversees operation of the senior center, cemetery commission, conservation commission, and planning board.

     A review of the “impact of FY2015 budget reductions” will be presented by selectmen and members of the finance committee.

    Also on tonight’s agenda is considering a three-way stop at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street. Recently another intersection on Fairview, at Homestead Avenue, was made into a three-way stop. 


BROCKTON TEEN CHARGED WITH VANDALISM AT BECKWITH SCHOOL

(July 24, 2014)   Early yesterday morning, Rehoboth police arrested a Brockton teen on charges vandalism and trespassing at D. L. Beckwith Middle School off Winthrop Street (Route 44).

    Sgt. Brian Ramos was on routine patrol at 1:30 AM when he observed a suspicious vehicle in a remote area of the school’s parking lot leaving the grassy area adjacent to a baseball field on the property.  According to the police press release, the “Chevrolet Avalanche had just driven off of the baseball field and had caused damaged to the property by “doing donuts” and spinning tires.”

    Fabian Herrero, age 18 of Brockton was charged with vandalism to the property and trespass by motor vehicle.  Officer Timothy Bartucca assisted Sgt. Ramos with the investigation.


TWO ARRESTED FOR AUTO THEFT AFTER ROUTINE STOP

(July 24, 2014) Two Taunton residents were arrested yesterday afternoon on Route 44 by Rehoboth police on auto theft charges.

   After conducted a motor vehicle stop on Winthrop Street (Route 44), Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta   learned the 2006 Ford Sedan had been reported stolen from the City of Attleboro the day before.

   The driver, thirty-four-year-old Kristylyn McKenna of Taunton, and a passenger, twenty-nine-yea-old Kyle Fisher of Taunton, were arrested and charged with Larceny of a Motor Vehicle. McKenna was later released on $540 cash bail and Fisher, unable to post bail, was transferred the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office. Both were scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.

   Officer Thomas Ranley and Jacob Miranda assisted with the arrest. 


REPRESENTATIVE HOWITT SCHEDULED OFFICE HOURS IN REHOBOTH

(July 24, 2014)   State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R- Seekonk) will hold office hours at the Rehoboth Town Office on Friday, August 1 from 10 to 11 AM to give constituents the opportunity to discuss current issues and concerns. Anyone unable to attend Representative Howitt’s office hours may contact his office at (617) 722-2305 to schedule an appointment.


SENATOR TIMILTY INVITES REHOBOTH RESIDENTS

(July 23, 2014) Senator Jim Timilty (D-Walpole) who represents Rehoboth announced the 73rd Citizen’s Legislative Seminar (CLS) will take place on Tuesday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 15 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the State House in Boston. Rehoboth residents are extended an invitation to participate.

    The Citizens’ Legislative Seminar aims to better educate the public on the Commonwealth’s legislative process. Established in 1976 through a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Senate and the University of Massachusetts, this two-day seminar features presentations by Senators and staff on aspects of the day-to-day experience of legislators in the Commonwealth. Topics will include the history of the process of the Legislature, the parliamentary role of the Clerk of the Senate and the future of the Legislature. 

    The CLS culminates with a simulated legislative hearing and Senate session where participants are invited to use what they have learned as “Senators” in the Senate Chamber.

    Rehoboth residents are invited to contact Senator Timilty by Thursday, August 28 to sign up. Call (617) 722-1222 or email James.Timilty@masenate.gov. Participation is on a first come, first serve basis.


TOWN DEPARTMENTS TOLD TO CUT BUDGETS BY 20 PERCENT

(July 22, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen last night announced all town departments had been told to cut their budgets by 20 percent in preparation for the yet another special town meeting (STM) to be held on Thursday, August 7.

   The board is scheduled to meet tonight and tomorrow with the finance committee, in both executive and regular sessions, to examine the budget to come up with figures to present at special town meeting.

    Selectmen opened, closed and signed the STM warrant last night in a hurried manner in order to get the warrant to the printer.  Meetings warrants are printed and mailed to every household.  Because of the printing time constraint, there will be no budget figures or recommendations on the warrant.  Selectmen said exact figures will be distributed on a hand out the night of the meeting.  They also plan to publish the information on the town’s website.

   There was some discussion last night about the special town meeting date being at the same time as the annual clam boil held by the Rehoboth Congregational Church. While 150 people are expected to attend the event, selectmen said those who bought tickets will have to make a choice about what is more important to attend.

    This will be the third special town meeting held since May.  The first, combined with the annual spring town meeting, resulted in voters approving a capital budget of $551K which has already been expended. The second special town meeting was held on June 30 for voters to approve a temporary 90-day budget.  The FY15 budget was made contingent on a tax override vote that was defeated on July 15, leaving the town with an almost $1.7M budget deficit.

   Since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, town departments operated under the temporary budget, or 25% of the approved fiscal budget for 2015. All town departments now asked to make cuts of 20%. 

    If a department spends 25% of their annual 2015 budget in the first three months of the fiscal year, based on a 20% reduction goal for the entire year, they now must cut 26.67% for the remaining nine months of the fiscal year.

   The town has certain financial or contractual obligations that cannot be cut including pensions, town insurance,  unemployment compensation, veterans benefits, and interest and principal on the senior center.  The town budget also includes paying out-of-district expenses for high school students enrolled in vocational/technical school or at Bristol County Agricultural High School.

   “We are not going to come anywhere near $1.658M in reductions on the expense side,” said Finance Committee Chair Mike Deignan, who added the only way to recoup is through the employee side. “We have eight employees who have either left or intend to leave service this year,” he said.

    According to Deignan,  the town offices, excluding highway and public safety, cost the town “$215K to run one day each week.”  He added, “if we cut two days of town services, we could save $430K, less the unemployment of about $130K, and we would net out about $300K in savings.”


SELECTMEN VOTE TO RELEASE PAYMENT TO LIBRARY

(July 22, 2014) A week after postponing a scheduled payment to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) for operation fo the Blanding Free Public Library, selectmen voted to release the funds approved by voters within the temporary 90-day budget.

    RAS board members presented selectmen with a petition signed over the weekend to request the library budget  be listed as an independent warrant article for the August 7 special town meeting. 

    “We believe in the democratic process and that all articles brought to Town Meeting should be open for discussion and amendment. At the very least, adding an article specifically for the library budget will ensure debate and discussion for that line item,” said board member Kylee Hitz, reading from a prepared statement distributed last night.

    Officials have repeatedly targeted the library and senior center for possible closure for since May town meeting when the FY15 budget was made contingent on a tax override vote that was defeated last week.  At a selectmen’s meeting held last Friday, officials seemed to have a change of heart.

    “I want to have a (new) budget that doesn’t include what we mentioned before,” said BOS chair Mike Costello.  “The library and senior center were just examples used before the override,” said Selectman Dave Perry.   

    If the Blanding’s budget is cut more than other departments, the library risks decertification. If town budget cuts are proportional, the RAS may additionally apply for a waiver from the state to help remain open.

    State certification allows the Blanding’s almost 4000 registered patrons to have access to library services in surrounding towns through the SAILS network of public and college libraries in southeastern Massachusetts.


BURGLARY SUSPECTS ARRESTED BY REHOBOTH POLICE

(July 22, 2014) Last last night, Rehoboth police arrested two Mansfield residents on breaking and entering along with other charges.

    Officers were dispatched after receiving a suspicious vehicle report at a residence on Tremont Street where the owner was known to be in the hospital.

    The vehicle in question was located by Officer Thomas Ranley behind the residence. A window of the garage had been forced open allowing entrance into the residence. Three more officers arrived and conducted a search.         

     Alex J. Troy, age 22, and Joseph Coughlin, age 26, were taken into custody and changed with breaking and entering at nighttime with intent to commit a felony, malicious destruction of property, and trespass by motor vehicle.  Both men are scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.

    Assisting officers were Sgt. James Medeiros and officers Craig Forget and Paul McGovern.


LIBRARY PETITION TO BE PRESENTED TO SELECTMEN TONIGHT

(July 21, 2014) Over the weekend, the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RSA) gathered over 131 signatures of registered voters on a petition to have certified today by the town clerk in order to submit tonight to selectmen at their regularly scheduled 7 PM meeting at the senior center.

   The RSA, a private, nonprofit organization, owns Goff Memorial Hall and the Carpenter Museum, and is contracted by the town to operated Blanding Free Public Library.  The RSA receives funding from the town to operate the library. 

   Last week, selectmen voted to table issuing scheduled payment to the RSA despite having a temporary 90-day budget that included those payments.  Without the scheduled payments from the town, the library’s bills for operational expenses can’t be paid.

    In response, the library immediately announced it would no longer be open on Saturdays.  Additionally the petition was circulated over the weekend.

    Massachusetts General Law states that a municipality must appropriate a figure of at least the average of the last 3 years' municipal appropriations to the library for operations, increased by 2.5%, in order to be certified for State Aid to Public Libraries.

   Any cuts to library funding from the town must be proportionate with other town services in order to maintain state library certification.

    Additionally, the Blanding is part of the SAILS Library Network, a collection of over 75 public and college libraries in southeastern MA.  Library decertification will have an effect on borrowing privileges. According to Blanding officials, the town of Seekonk is already on record saying they will not honor a Blanding card if the library is decertified.  

    This is not the first time the Blanding has faced the threat of closure. In 2010, Rehoboth officials warned the library would be forced to close, along with the senior center and other town services, when the town faced a $1M deficit for their FY11 budget.  At that time, Selectman Skip Vadanis suggested a tax override vote specifically for the library.  That suggestion proved unnecessary and the library’s funding was never cut. 


SELECTMEN SCHEDULE SPECIAL TOWN MEETING, DISCUSS CUTS

(July 21, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen met last Friday afternoon at the town office to schedule a special town meeting on Thursday, August 7 at 7 PM in the high school auditorium to address the town’s budget.    

    Selectmen Mike Costello, Skip Vadnais and Dave Perry voted unanimously to schedule the special town meeting, although a few minutes later were notified that approximately 150 residents would be attending the annual clam boil held at Rehoboth Congregational Church on August 7.

     According to Town Clerk Laura Schwall, who attended Friday afternoon’s BOS meeting, the special town meeting could be held the next night, on Friday, August 8, and still adhere to mandated state regulations.  The selectmen could decide to amend the special town meeting date tonight.

    Only last week, a tax override for nearly $1.7M was defeated by a margin of 303 voters.  Citizens could vote in August to pass a reduced FY15 budget that would require another tax override ballot vote before the town’s temporary 90-day budget expires.

    Residents at special town meeting could also vote to use all or part of the town’s stabilization fund, or money in the bank set aside for emergencies.  Using those funds could provide for this fiscal year’s budget, but would leave the town without emergency funds, along with facing another million plus deficit next year.

    Just last week, $63K was used from the stabilization fund to settle a lawsuit brought by the Town of Dighton related to tuition and transportation for Rehoboth high school students attending out-of-district vocational/technical school.

    With four board members from the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) in attendance at Friday’s BOS meeting, selectmen reversed their repeated warnings about closing the library and senior center if the tax override did not pass.  The RAS owns and operates the Blanding Public Library with funding from the town.

    “I want to have a (new) budget that doesn’t include what we mentioned before,” said Costello.  “The library and senior center were just examples used before the override,” said Perry, who added “we are in uncharted waters.”

    “We will look at every possible means to reduce the budget to prevent closures and layoffs,” remarked Costello. “We want to do this as kindly as possible.”

    “We have all kinds of general laws we have to get into,” commented Vadanis, “such as (state mandated) minimum requirements for animal control and with the division of elderly affairs for the senior center.”

    In attendance on Friday were also two members of the finance committee.  Chairman Mike Deignan asked Costello to share news of his recent request of the school committee to revisit their increased budget.  Costello replied he asked for the elimination of full-day kindergarten for the 138 Rehoboth children who are currently enrolled for the new school year beginning in September.

   Costello also reported the school committee has agreed to meet with the BOS on July 29 to discuss the request to eliminate full-day kindergarten for Rehoboth students and other budget cuts.  The school committee, as a courtesy, agreed to this meeting but will set a time limit on its duration.

   Gerry Schwall, who serves as vice-chair of the finance committee, asked selectmen if they were going to involved FinCom in determining budget cuts suggestions to be announced at the special town meeting. “I am worried people don’t have the expertise to make those decisions,” Schwall told selectmen, who added that FinCom has the experience on contract-related budget lines.

    The BOS will meet tonight at 7 PM in regular session at the senior center to open, close and sign the special town meeting warrant.  Tight time constraints require the warrant to be delivered to the printer by Wednesday.

    Costello said the warrant for special town meeting will not incude numbers or the selectmen’s recommendations for budget cuts.  Their recommendations, along with those of the finance committee, will be supplied that night in a handout. Those numbers may be available on the town’s website earlier.

    Selectmen will also meet this week with the town’s finance committee on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 7 PM at the senior center.  The public, as always, is invited to attend the regular session segments.

   

SCHOOL COMMITTEE APPROVES NEW DEAN POSITION AMID PROTESTS

(July 18, 2014) The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee approved a job search for the newly created position of Dean of Activities and Athletics at the regional high school.

    Two Rehoboth members of the committee, David Katseff and Richard Barrett, voted against creating the new position which will take the place of the high school’s existing part-time athletic director and the schools full-time director of guidance.

    Katseff argued the timing was wrong to create the new position since the school’s principal, of less than one year, suddenly resigned last month.  He also cautioned the committee the school that this might not be a good time to create an innovative position using the title of “Dean” for the first time in the history of the school.

    Two of the high school’s assistant principals, Kevin Braga and John Harrison, pitched the new position to the committee.  They emphasized a need for someone on the staff to market the high school’s athletic program and extracurricular activities to middle school students.  They cited the high school student population is decreasing and marketing DRRHS is important to attracting new students. They say retention is not a problem “once they are here, they tend to stay.”

     The new position, according to the job description, requires coaching experience, a working knowledge of MIAA rules and regulations, an administrative certificate from the MA Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education, plus effective communication, interpersonal and organization skills.

     By eliminating the position of part-time coach ($42K) and a part-time 10 hour secretary ($6K) and full time director of guidance ($90K) a position previously held by a professional with advanced degrees in psychology or counseling, the school will save $41K.    

    The new Dean of Activities and Athletics will have a salary of $80K with a part-time 18 hour secretary at $15K.  A stipend of $3K will be paid to an existing lead guidance counselor who will assume more responsibilities. The jobs and stipend position has been posted.


BLANDING PUBLIC LIBRARY ANNOUNCES REDUCED HOURS

Library officials question why approved payments by town were put on hold

(July 17, 2014) The Blanding Public Library, beginning the week of July 21, wil be closed on Saturdays until further notice due to the town’s current fiscal situation.

    “We hope that further reductions will not be necessary,” announced Laura Bennett, the library director.  “It is important to the library board and staff to maintain our current level of services as best we can.  We apologize for any inconvenience.”

    In a separate announcement, Bennett said the library will no longer be able to accept donations of used books for its annual used book sale fundraiser.

    The library, housed in the Goff Memorial Hall, is owned and operated by the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, but receives operational funding through the town.  Selectmen have warned repeatedly that the library may be closed due to the town’s current fiscal crisis.

    This week, RAS officials questioned why the board of selectmen on Monday night tabled already approved payments to the library.  With a temporary 90-budget in place, the town should be able to release the money to the RSA. Without the scheduled payments from the town, the library’s bills for operational expenses can’t be paid. 

    The Blanding Library will be open Monday thru Thursday from 11:30 AM to 8 PM. Friday hours are 10 AM to 4 PM. Events and programs are scheduled at various times.  The library will be closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.


PUBLIC HEARING ON WHEELER STREET BRIDGE TODAY

(July 17, 2014) A public hearing on the Wheeler Street Bridge reconstruction will be held tonight t the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center on Thursday, July 17 beginning at 7 PM.

    Representatives from the  MA Department of Transportation will be on hand to present a “twenty-five percent design public hearing” on the culvert replacement at the bridge, the next step in completing the project.  The bridge, destroyed in 2010 during a flood, will be reconstructed with funding from both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal Highway Administration. 

    All interested parties are invited to attend and provide public input.  The bridge plans, prepared by Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. will be available for inspection thirty minutes before the start of the public hearing.


REHOBOTH SELECTMEN TO MEET FRIDAY

(July 17, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have scheduled a meeting tomorrow at 4 PM in the town office to vote to approving a date for special town meeting to address the FY15 budget and the town’s financial crisis creating by the defeat of the tax override.

    According to some reports, this meeting will not be televised on public access Channel 9 and selectmen will not entertain questions or comments from the public.


REHOBOTH VOTERS SAY NO TO TAX OVERRIDE

(July 16, 2014)  Rehoboth residents voted against passing a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override yesterday with 37% of registered voters participating. Polls closed at 8 PM and news of the defeat came less than thirty minutes later much to the dismay of officials who had urged passage of the override to prevent drastic cuts in services.

    A total of 3002 voters came to the polls with a final certified count of 1652 against the override and 1349 in favor, a difference of 303 voters.

    “The people of Rehoboth have spoken,” said BOS chairman Mike Costello, “and we now have to deal with the outcome.”  He added, “Rehoboth will not be what it is today.”  More details to follow soon when the official count becomes available.

    Without the tax override, the board of selectmen will schedule a special town meeting sometime in August to address a $1.7M deficit in the town’s operating budget, excluding the increased school district assessment that cannot be altered.  At special town meeting, residents will debate and decide what cuts to make and if the town’s stabilization fund - savings in the bank - should be used.  Draining the stabilization account will not help next year when the budget deficit will be even larger.

    Officials have warned residents consistently for the past two months that if the override fails, drastic cuts will be made to town services and town employees will face layoffs.  They’ve warned both the Blanding Public Library and the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center will be closed.

    “The voters have spoken,” said Sean Kane from Rehoboth Community Supporters, a recently formed political action committee.  “We respect the democratic process.  Hopefully those who voted no really understand what this will do to our community.  We continue to believe that an override is still much needed and commend those who came out in support of the town.”

           

SELECTMEN URGE RESIDENTS TO VOTE YES ON TAX OVERRIDE

(July 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectman last night urged residents to vote yes today to pass a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override. Following almost ninety minutes of answering questions from citizens about the override, selectmen went through their agenda of business and finished the meeting with the regular segment of individual selectman’s reports.  Four of the five selectmen then urged residents to vote yes today and pass the tax override.

    “I’m not in favor of an override without a plan,” said Selectman Sue Pimental, “but I’m going for this override for a couple reasons.” She explained, “I feel I have to, it will devastate the town (if not passed),” adding she was on the finance committee for six years and during that time much progress was made that benefitted the town.

     “All the hard work of myself and other volunteers will go out the window,” she emphasized. “It will be very discouraged for someone like me and the other volunteers out there,” before adding that “shutting down town government will not be fun.”

     “Whatever your feeling is on the school situation, get over it,” she said referring to the almost $1.7M increase to the school budget voted on at town meeting in May.  That increase caused an equivalent deficit in the town’s operating budget that was made contingent on passing a tax override.

    “I’m voting for it (the override) because I feel I have a gun to my head,” Pimental said.

    The newest selectman on the board, Dave Perry said, “This two and half override is a really tough pill to swallow, but we have to.”   He emphasized what town accountant Cathy Doanne explained earlier in the meeting about using stabilization funds if the override does not pass.  Draining the town’s ‘savings account’ built up and kept for emergencies will only solve the budget deficit for one year, and the town will be faced with a greater deficit next year and have nothing left in the bank.

    “We’ll have no services,” Perry said, “we’ll have no money in the bank, be broke, and face the same problem next year.”  “I see no alternative at all but a yes vote, he said, “this is an absolute necessity.”

    “I have been very clear, I am voting for the override,” said Selectman Joe Tito, who added that Proposition 2 1/2 does works to contain municipal costs, but doesn’t keep up with inflation and the rising costs to sustain a growing town. “We find ourselves at a crossroads,” he noted and encouraged voters to pass the override.

    “I am voting for this,” said BOS chair Mike Costello. “I know we need it.” He added, “the hard work of this board and the board when I was elected have done too much to see it disappear.”

    “Help us get through this situation,” he urged, “vote yes so our town can provide the services that we are all accustomed to.”

   

$63K SCHOOL LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT BILL PAID FROM STABILIZATION FUND

(July 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night confirmed the payment of $63K taken from the town’s stabilization fund to settle a lawsuit brought against the Town of Rehoboth by the regional school district partner, the Town of Dighton.  Officials said over $80K had already been spent on litigation and the $63K would be the final settlement.

    The case involved Rehoboth not paying the sufficient amount for tuition and transportation of Rehoboth students to an out-of-district vocational-technical high school.  For at least one year, Dighton was assessed and paid half of the total fee for vocational students, while the number of actual Rehoboth students outnumbered Dighton students who attended Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, MA.

    On May 27, Rehoboth voters at town meeting were asked to reconsider a tabled warrant article to approve using $63,000 from the town’s stabilization fund to settle the law suit.  Voters were told by town counsel that if the money was not approved that night and released right away, both towns would continue the legal battle in court.

   “We have not been closer than now,” said town attorney Jason Talerman, who urged voters to approve using stabilization funds to settle the case. “I am totally in agreement with this,” said BOS chair Mike Costello.  Selectman Joe Tito also urged residents to approve releasing the money.

   When asked last week if the settlement had been paid and case finalized, school committee chairman Eliza Couture replied that she “cannot comment on the litigation at this time.”

   Selectmen last night were asked by Finance Committee chair Mike Deignan if the $63K payment had been made.  “We were all led to believe the lawsuit had been settled,” said Deignan, “and that’s why we had to take the money from stabilization to pay for it.”  He said he found out, on a recent visit to the town office, the $63K settlement bill still had not been paid and asked selectmen if the case was still being litigated.

    “It was settled,” said Selectman Sue Pimental.   “So, the check was delivered today,” reported Costello. 

  

TAX OVERRIDE VOTE AND TOWN BUDGET: ASK SELECTMEN QUESTIONS

(July 11, 2014)  Selectmen will take a portion of their regular meeting next Monday night to answer questions from residents about the town budget and tax override ballot vote to be held the next day on July 15. 

    The BOS meeting, held at the senior center, will begin at 7 PM with a information briefing by selectmen.  The meeting is broadcast live by RehobothTV on Comcast Channel 9 and residents may call 508-252-3372 that night with questions.  Residents who are not Comcast subscribers are encouraged to attend the meeting.

     Questions may also be emailed to Town Administrator Jeff Ritter anytime before the meeting on Monday night.  


GRANT APPROVED TO HELP FUND DISABLED ACCESS AT GOFF HALL

(July 9, 2014)  Earlier this week, Governor Deval Patrick announced $14 million in Massachusetts Cultural Council grants including a $70K request by the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) to help fund a handicapped-accessible restrooms and lower level at the Blanding Library in Goff Memorial Hall.

    The RAS-owned building was constructed in 1915 after an older Goff Hall burned down following a lightening strike in 1911.  The current building has no restrooms facilities for patrons with disabilities and the existing restrooms are also only two feet wide, small for any user. With no elevator and no ramp, there is no access for anyone who can’t use the stairs to the lower level of the building (the children’s library).

    The renovation project, with a total cost of $330,000, will benefit greatly from the $70K state grant.  Townspeople approved using $165K from the town’s Community Preservation Act  (CPA) fund, and the remaining $95K will be raised by the RAS - before construction begins.

   CPA funds, by state law, can never be used for a town’s operating budget, only for preservation related projects approved by voters at town meeting.

   With a tax override vote looming, town officials have repeatedly warned that if the override does not pass, the Blanding Library will be closed, along with the senior center and other town services. The renovation project to make the building accessible is a separate issue from the town budget. The grant money or CPA funding cannot be used to operate the library.


SCHOOL OFFICIALS RESPOND TO ALLEGATIONS

(July 4, 2014)  Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District officials have responded to recent allegations including one made in an opinion letter to the editor published yesterday on the Vox Populi page of RehobothNow.

   Eliza Couture, chairman of the regional school committee, said new superintendent Anthony Azar, who only started his appointment on July 1, will answer questions about hiring for a new position of Dean of Student Activities and Athletics on Wednesday, July 16 at a school committee member.  She said Azar will give specifics about the dean’s job description, salary and benefit package on July 16. 

   The town is conducting a tax override ballot vote the day before, on July 15, to approve a permanent tax increase.  The town’s FY15 budget is contingent on the Prop 2 1/2 override as a result of residents voting for a $1.7 million increase in the school district budget at town meeting last May.  If the override does not pass, an equal amount will have to be cut from other town departments.  Officials say the cuts will dramatically alter town services such as closing the library and senior center, limiting town office hours, reducing services and layoffs of town employees.

   Couture was asked to comment on other school related issues. On May 27, Rehoboth voters at town meeting were asked to reconsider a tabled warrant article to approve using $63,000 from the town’s stabilization fund to settle a law suit. 

    The suit, brought by the Town of Dighton against the school committee and Town of Rehoboth, relates to out-of-district vocational-technical school tuition and transportation.  At town meeting, voters were told by town counsel and selectmen that if the money was not approved that night and released right away, both towns would continue the legal battle in court.  Officials said over $80k had already been spent on litigation and the $63k would be the final settlement.

    When asked if the $63k had been paid and the case settled, Couture replied that she “cannot comment on the litigation at this time.”

    Ray Medeiros, a long-time member of the school committee, was asked about rumors he has either submitted his resignation or plans to do so in the immediate future.  Medeiros said he has no comment at this time.  His resignation, prior to the end of his elected term, would open a seat on the Rehoboth side of the school committee.  Selectmen could appoint a replacement.  

    Azar responded to questions by submitting a letter to editor which appears on the Vox Populi page.  

  


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