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FORMER REHOBOTH MAN FACES MULTIPLE CHARGES AFTER STANDOFF

(September 16, 2016)  Rehoboth police initially responded to a 911 hangup call made yesterday morning by a former Rehoboth man at the Cumberland Farms on Route 44 that sparked a standoff and shut down roads and businesses for nearly five hours.

    Thirty-eight-year old Benjamin Kimball, who now resides in North Attleboro, had entered the store around 6:30 and asked a female clerk to use a phone.  He then took the phone, left the store and went out to his vehicle parked at the gas pumps where he called 911.

    Officer Jacob Miranda arrived at the store and spoke to the clerk before approaching Kimball who was in the front passenger seat.  An agitated Kimball exited the car and placed his hand underneath his sweatshirt, swearing at Miranda to “get the (expletive) out of there before I blow this place up.”  He then told Miranda he had a gun and repeated this threat to blow up the gas station.

    Officers Craig Warish and Sergeant Brian Ramos arrived on the scene to assist, set up a perimeter and begin closing down roadways leading into the area.  While officers attempted to talk with Kimball who kept screaming, measures were taken to begin evacuating civilians and close off traffic to the area. 

   The Rehoboth Fire Department, notified of a potential fire  and explosion threat, assisted to establish a unified command and emergency staging area.  Firefighters also assisted with traffic control on Anawan Street and Route 44 using Ladder Truck 1 and other fire apparatus. The Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council SWAT Team was called along with mutual aid from both Seekonk and Dighton police departments.

     Meanwhile, Rehoboth emergency personnel were responding to two motor vehicle accidents at both ends of Rehoboth with mutual aid from Attleboro police and Swansea police. 

   The SWAT team arrived to the scene around 7:30 AM and took command. Kimball was observed unsuccessfully trying to light a gas pump nozzle on fire with a lighter. The gas pumps had already been shut off by a store employee. 

    After three hours of negotiating with Kimball to surrender, the SWAT team commanders decided to move in and extract the suspect from his vehicle.  He quickly moved to the driver’s seat and then jumped from the car, and began running across the parking lot pursued by SWAT officers.  A SWAT Team K-9 dog was used to subdue Kimball who sustained dog bites.  He was taken into custody by Rehoboth police and transported to Morton Hospital in Taunton for treatment of his injuries. 

   The Massachusetts State Police Bomb Unit declared the scene safe while local police carried on a crime scene investigation and inventory.  Upon investigation, Kimball was found to have no firearm or explosive in his possession.

    Kimball, who had attended Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School, was released from the hospital and returned to Rehoboth for booking around 8:45 PM on charges including attempted arson of a gas station; making a false bom threat; disorderly conduct; disturbing the peace; three counts of  threatening to commit a crime;  attempt to commit a crime, resisting arrest, and two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon. He was held without bail overnight and scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court. 


RESIDENTS LEARN MORE ABOUT PROPOSED MUNICIPAL COMPLEX PLANS

(September 16, 2016)  Rehoboth residents have been invited by town officials to attend both info sessions and tours to learn more about the proposed new municipal complex to be built on Anawan Street.

    Four sessions have been scheduled to help residents learn more and share their own ideas.  About twenty-five attended the first info session held at the senior center on Wednesday evening.  Next week, on Wednesday, September 21, residents can tour both the existing town offices on Peck Street and public safety building (police and fire headquarters) on Anawan Street from 5 to 7 PM to see for themselves the need for new buildings.

    A repeat of the info session will be held on Wednesday, October 12 from 5 to 7 PM at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center with tours the next Wednesday, October 19 at both buildings from 5 to 7 PM.

    You can read about the municipal complex plans on the Town of Rehoboth website.  Based on residents suggestions, more information will be added soon including a list of “what it would take and what it would cost” to bring the existing 60-year-old and 50-year-old buildings into compliance with state and federal regulations. 

   Residents also requested a detailed financial outline including the remaining debt owed on the senior center and other considerations.


SUSPECT APPREHENDED AFTER 4-HOUR STANDOFF WITH POLICE

Update: Noon September 15, 2016

After a 4-hour standoff with police at the Cumberland Farms at the intersection of Route 44 and Route 118, an unidentified male suspect was taken into custody and transported to Morton Hospital for emergency care.

    According to a store employee, the ordeal began before 7 AM this morning when the suspect entered the Cumberland Farms and allegedly threatened an employee with a firearm. Witnesses said the man yelled, poured gasoline on the ground and threatened to “blow up” the building and gas station.

   Employees and customers escaped the building as local Rehoboth police, as well as units from neighboring Seekonk, Dighton and Taunton arrived to assist closing down Route 44 and Route 118 to traffic. Rehoboth Fire and emergency response units set up road blocks and staging areas.  Employees of nearby businesses were evacuated.

    Within an hour, personnel from the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLAC) Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) were on the scene including a State Police bomb squad unit from Middleboro.

    No details have been released on the suspect or if he made demands to police during the standoff.  It is unknown at this time if he surrendered or was injured during capture.

    Cumberland Farms was deemed a crime scene by police.  At noontime, police were waiting for a bomb sniffing K9 to examine the suspect’s vehicle for explosives.


(September 15, 2016) A male suspect, allegedly armed, threatened employees of the Cumberland Farms store and gas station at the intersection of Route 44 and Route 118 shortly after 7 AM this morning. The suspect claimed he had explosives and threatened to blow up the gas station.

     Rehoboth police and fire immediately closed off the roads leading to the intersection and traffic was stopped on Route 44 in the surrounding area.  Area businesses were evacuated.  Both the Massachusetts State Police bomb squad and Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLAC) Special Weapons and Tactics Team arrived on the scene, as well as police units from surrounding communities.  Emergency staging areas have been set up in several locations nearby.

    The scene is active as of publication time this morning.  More information will be made available as it comes in  on the RehobothNow Facebook page.

 
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REHOBOTH POLICE ARREST WOMAN FOR DRUNK DRIVING

(November 22, 2016)  A New Bedford woman faces arraignment today following her arrest yesterday by Rehoboth police on charges including drunk driving.

    Police were called when a resident on Kinglsey Way reported a suspicious vehicle was parked in their backyard. Witnesses stated they saw a vehicle drive across a large open field and then into and across the backyard of the residence.

   Grace Santos, age 50, was found “disoriented and confused” by RPD officers Terrence Hedrick, Louis DiBacco, and Sgt. Richard Shailor.

    After further investigation, Santos was placed into custody and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. She was released on her own recognizance after making bail.  Santos is set to be arraigned today in Taunton District Court.


REHOBOTH FD ISSUES WARNING ON ALARM RECALL

(November 22, 2016)  The Rehoboth Fire Department is sharing important information from an alarm recall of the Kidde NightHawk talking combo smoke/CO alarm.

   Hard-wired into a home’s electrical system, model number KN-COSM-IB and manufacture dates between June 1, 2004 and December 31, 2010, can fail to continue to chirp when it reaches its seven year end of life if the batteries are replaced, leading consumers to believe it is still working.

    In August 2015, Uxbridge, MA Deputy Chief and Fire Inspector Steven Tancrell discovered an apparent problem with this particular type of alarm and notified the Department of Fire Services. Fire Protection Engineer Jacob Nunnemacher of the Fire Safety Division provided Deputy Chief Tancrell with the information necessary to report his findings to Kidde technical support and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission which ultimately led to this recall.

     The unit has a compartment on the back for the installation of a replaceable 9-volt backup battery. The alarm is white, round and measures about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. “Kidde” is engraved on the front of the alarm. “Kidde,” the model number and manufacture dates are printed on a label on the back on the alarm.

    Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled alarms and contact Kidde directly at their toll-free number (855-239-0490) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or online at www.kidde.com for a free replacement alarm based on date of manufacture or a discount on a new alarm.


CARCS GROUP UPDATE SELECTMEN, OFFER PUBLIC Q & A TONIGHT

(November 16, 2016)  Members of Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS) addressed the Rehoboth Board of Selectman on Monday night and offered an update on the group’s progress. The group is offering a public information session with questions and answers tonight at Goff Memorial Hall starting at 7 PM.

    Tracy Manzella, the grassroots organization’s director, thanked Rehoboth selectmen for approving a non-biding question on the spring 2017 town election ballot.  She expressed the group’s immediate goal is to educate and motivate residents of Rehoboth, as well as the surrounding communities of Attleboro and Seekonk, portions of which will be affected by a natural gas compression station.

   “We have heard a lot of noise lately suggesting that CARCS has been avoiding our federal representatives and misplacing our efforts by focusing on you the Board and our state Representative Howitt,” said Manzella.  “As a grassroots organization, our strategy has been to garner strong local support first, before we turn our group focus towards our federal representatives and our Governor Baker.”

     She explained that CARCS, with a reported 750 members, is a bi-partisan organization with members of “all political stripes and opinions.”  Manzella expressed her concern over recent social media content that described the group as “greenies” and “fossil fuel zealots.” 

    “This could not be further from the truth,” she emphasized. “We are just a collection of local folks united by our love for Rehoboth and our fierce desire to protect our town, our property values, and our quality of life.”

     She reported the group has been busy with outreach including interviews on television news channels 4, 10 and 6.  They have given presentations to the Attleboro City Council, the Rehoboth PTSA, and have visited an existing compressor station in Burrillville.  They have an upcoming interview with Attleboro Representative Paul Heroux scheduled for broadcast on Attleboro public access cable television, and a scheduled meeting with Congressman Joe Kennedy later this month. 

     Manzella then introduced the selectmen to CARCS leadership including Kellyann Erskine, public relations director; Gina Woodrum, events planner; Kathleen Boivin and Leslie Gouveia, community outreach coordinators; and Chris Gauthier who will act as liaison to the selection and Town of Rehoboth. 

     Selectmen were asked specifically to work with CARCS on several issues including the status of questions that were submitted to Spectra in October on the proposed compressor station in North Rehoboth.  The BOS was also asked to apply for “intervener status” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission “to even get a seat at the table” in ongoing discussions. CARCS has also requested the Town of Rehoboth conduct a baseline testing of air quality and current/noise/vibration levels with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as soon as possible.

    The public is invited to tonight’s meeting at Goff Memorial Hall when the group will offer an overview of the proposed natural gas project.  For more details, visit the CARCS website at norehobothcompressor.com.


CHANGES FOR 2017 MEMORIAL DAY PARADE APPROVED BY SELECTMEN

(November 15, 2016)  Rehoboth selectmen last night gave their unanimous stamp of approval for changes to the town’s annual Memorial Day parade proposed by Veterans Service Officer Jake Kramer.

   Selectmen cautioned Kramer the proposed changes must also be reviewed and approved by the Rehoboth Park Commission, the governing entity of the town-owned Redway Plain and the Veterans Memorial Committee that oversees the memorial and gazebo located on the property.

    Several years ago, before the two towns of Rehoboth and Dighton decided to alternate hosting an annual combined Memorial Day parade, the local parade route closed Route 44 to traffic for hours.  In 2014 when Rehoboth last hosted the event, the route had been changed.  The parade began at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center and concluded at the Redway Plain for the dedication of the town’s new veterans memorial gazebo and walkways.

    Typically parade viewers depart immediately rather than remain for any Memorial Day ceremonies to honor veterans who perished during times of conflict and war, dating back to the town’s earliest days.  According to Kramer, people seem to have forgotten or don’t know the true meaning of the national holiday.

    “Most just consider it a day off, a fun parade, kids collecting candy thrown into the street,” explained Kramer to selectmen,” and few stay for any ceremony to recognize the veterans who gave their lives.”   He proposed holding the ceremonies at the veterans gazebo before the start of the parade. Additionally, he plans to organize an impressive display of military vehicles on the Redway Plain and other displays including all branches of the military in an effort to “educate the younger generations about the real meaning of Memorial Day.”

     The parade which will stage at the Redway Plain and proceed toward the Village Cemetery, stopping there for a brief moment of recognition, and then continue through historic Rehoboth village on Bay State Road, turning left on Route 118 to the senior center.  This new plan could also allow the DRRHS Marching Band to perform at the ceremonies before the parade begins.

    Selectman Dave Perry agreed the new plan would definitely increase awareness of the historic origins of Memorial Day, but said there will be many details to consider and logistics to work out.

  

SELECTMEN’S AGENDA TONIGHT INCLUDES DISCUSSION WITH PROPOSED NATURAL GAS COMPRESSOR STATION OPPOSITION GROUP

(November 14, 2016)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight in regular session beginning at 7 PM at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center with a lengthy and mixed agenda including a discussion with Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station.

     Before speaking with members of CARCS, selectmen will vote on personnel changes within the police department including accepting the resignation of one full-time officer, appointment of a replacement and an additional reserve officer.

    The BOS will also has a discussion with the Veterans Services Officer, Jake Kramer, about next year’s annual DIghton and Rehoboth Memorial Day Parade, held in each town on alternating years.  In 2017, the parade will be held in Rehoboth and Kramer will offer a proposal on parade route and other changes.

    Selectmen will also discuss “how to establish a facilities manager” for the town, a new position.

    As always, the public is invited and encouraged to attend the meeting which is also broadcast live on RehobothTV government channel 9 on Comcast.  Open forum is offered at the beginning of the meeting for the public to make announcements.  Open public forum is held upon conclusion of business with the public invited to speak on topics of their concern.


CONGRESSMAN JOE KENNEDY TO VISIT REHOBOTH ON NOVEMBER 19 AT GOFF MEMORIAL HALL

(November 11, 2016) Congressman Joseph Kennedy, III will be in Rehoboth to meet with constituents on Saturday, November 19 from 12:30 to 1:30 PM at Goff Memorial Hall. All residents are invited to attend and speak with Kennedy about your concerns.

     The visit is a relaunch of his ongoing commitment to bring “office hours” to each of the 34 towns he represents in the United States Congress in Washington, DC. 


TOWN OF REHOBOTH ELECTION RESULTS

(November 9, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth released unofficial tallies of the results of yesterday’s election. Full results can be viewed here.


ANNUAL BARN INSPECTIONS TO BE CONDUCTED THROUGH JANUARY 1

(November 6, 2016) Rehoboth Interim Animal Control Officer Robert Johnson has announced annual barn inspections will be conducted in Rehoboth through January 1, 2017.

    All Rehoboth residents who own animals housed in barns must allow annual inspections by the ACO.  If you own chickens, pigs, horses, goats, cows or other animals that live in barns, please contact Johnson at 508-509-5691 to schedule an appointment.

     Johnson reminds animal and barn owners that if no appointment is scheduled, he will arrive to inspect without notification at his earliest convenience.


FINAL DAY FOR EARLY VOTING UNTIL NOON AT TOWN OFFICE

(November 4, 2016)   All Rehoboth registered voters can still take advantage of early voting until 12 noon today at the Rehoboth Town Office at 148 Peck Street.  Residents who are not sure if they are registered to vote may check online


TOWN HOLDS SURPLUS EQUIPMENT SALE ON NOVEMBER 17

(November 4, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will hold a sale of surplus equipment and vehicles on Thursday, November 17 from 8 AM to 3 PM at the Highway Department at 345 Anawan Street.

   It is recommended that any bidder contact the Rehoboth Highway Department at 508-252-3912 to view items in advance of the closing date and time.

    All items will be on display through November 17 at 1 PM when all bids must be submitted in separate envelopes, sealed and labeled by bid item number.

    A list of some of the items, although not all items, is available at the Highway Department Office, and at the Selectmen’s Office at the town office at 148 Peck Street, Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM, and on Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon. Or you can call 508-252-3758, ext. 3107 to inquire about the list of available surplus. The Rehoboth BOS reserve the right to accept or reject any or all bids.


REPRESENTATIVE STEVEN HOWITT ENDORSED BY BOSTON HERALD

(November 2, 2016) Representative Steven Howitt (R – Seekonk) received endorsement for his re-election by the Boston Herald.

    “I am pleased to receive this endorsement that, in particular, recognizes the balance that one needs to demonstrate in this elected position. I have always worked across the aisle to maintain that balance, and thank the Boston Herald for its confidence in me.”

    The Boston Herald endorsement notes, “Republican Steven Howitt of Seekonk, for example, has a strong record on fiscal issues, while his Democratic challenger is the darling of every special interest and public employee union under the sun. We know which is the better predictor of the independence and reform-mindedness that are desperately needed on Beacon Hill, so the Herald is pleased to endorse Howitt for re-election in the 4th Bristol district, which includes parts of Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk and Swansea.

   During his tenure in office, Representative Howitt has achieved a 100% attendance record. The 4th Bristol District includes all of Seekonk and Rehoboth, precinct 1 and 2 in Norton, and Swansea, precincts 4 and 5.


HALLOWEEN ARMED ROBBERY AT REHOBOTH GAS STATION

(November 1, 2016) On Halloween night, Rehoboth Police responded to an armed robbery around 10 PM at the Exxon Gas Station on Winthrop Street (Route 44).

    According to police, two masked white males entered the store brandishing knives and threatened to stab the store clerk who was first ordered to the floor and then told to open the cash drawer and safe.  After the clerk was unable to open the safe, one of the suspects removed an undisclosed amount of cash from the register, and also took packs of cigarettes.

    Video surveillance from the store show the suspects approach the store on foot wearing all dark colored clothing and nylon type masks. The clerk describe the first suspect as thin and about 5’10” tall. The second suspect was described as having a “heavier” build and approximately six-foot tall.

    Police say they suspects were inside the store for about two minutes and then fled east on foot.  Anyone with further information is asked to contact Sgt. Brian Ramos or Detective James Casey.


EARLY VOTING A BIG WINNER IN REHOBOTH

(October 28, 2016) The introduction of Early Voting in Rehoboth could turn out to be the big winner in this year’s election cycle if initial turnout is any indication. Hundreds of Rehoboth’s registered voters have already taken advantage of the Town Clerk’s extended voting hours and said ‘yes’ to early voting. 

   “We are very gratified to see the early results,” said Rehoboth Town Clerk Laura Schwall.  “There has been a steady stream of voters through our office since Monday morning when the early voting hours began.”  She added that “Residents are expressing their appreciation for the opportunity to vote at their convenience and for the extended hours we are offering to make early voting even more accessible to the Rehoboth voters.”

  Early voting will continue through November 4 at the Rehoboth Town Office during regular business hours, Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 3 PM and Friday from 8 AM to 12 noon.

    The Town Clerk will also be hosting extended voting sessions on Saturday, October 29 from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Senior Center, 55 Bay State Road (Route 118), and on Wednesday, November 2 at the town office on 148 Peck Street when the Town Clerk’s office will remain open until 7 PM. 

   If you have any questions or concerns, please call the Town Clerk’s Office at 508-252-6502 X-3109 or 3110.


SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN ENDORSES CANDIDATE PAUL JACQUES

(October 28, 2016)  Massachusetts US Senator Elizabeth Warren has endorsed Paul Jacques, Candidate for State Representative in the 4th Bristol District representing all of Rehoboth and Seekonk, and parts of Norton and Swansea.

    Warren announced her support of Paul Jacques prior to speaking at Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  

    “The 4th Bristol District needs a leader who will stand up for working families, seniors, and our Veterans,” said Warren.  “Like all firefighters I know, Paul Jacques knows how to get things done. That's why I'm pleased to support Paul for State Representative.”    

   Jacques said, "Senator Elizabeth Warren has made her life’s work fighting for middle class families.  Working men and women that go to their job every day, live paycheck to paycheck, and still face constant economic pressures.  Our campaign has been about service to the people of the 4th Bristol District. I am humbled and honored to be endorsed by my friend US Senator Elizabeth Warren and will put the needs of the district first by getting results on Beacon Hill for Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Swansea."  

     A Rehoboth resident, Jacques is firefighter in Attleboro with 21 years of honorable service in the National Guard, serving two tours in Iraq.  He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Anna Maria College.  Paul lives in Rehoboth with his son Brodie.


ROUTE 44 CRASH TIES UP SATURDAY

MORNING TRAFFIC

(October 23, 2016)  Rehoboth public safety personnel were dispatched Saturday morning to a reported motor vehicle crash on Route 44 at River Street.

     First arriving units found a two-car collision with one vehicle crashed into a tree. Firefighters and Rehoboth EMS treated and transported both operators to local hospitals with what were described as non-life threatening injuries.

    Traffic on Route 44 was tied up for approximately thirty minutes while the victims and vehicles were removed. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Rehoboth Police Department.


REP. HOWITT ENDORSED BY GOVERNOR BAKER AND OTHERS

(October 21, 2016)  State Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) has received several key endorsements for his re-election campaign including Governor Charlie Baker, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, and the National Rifle Association.

   “Representative Howitt is a tireless advocate for his community and a partner in our efforts to build a stronger economy and reform state government,” said Governor Baker.  “Steven is well respected on both sides of the aisle for his loyalty, his honesty and his hard work, and I’m proud to endorse his re-election campaign.”

    Sheriff Thomas Hodgson noted that Howitt’s “hard work, commitment, and devotion to his constituents and the Fourth Bristol District needs to stay in place.”

     Howitt has received other recent re-election endorsements. Bill Vernon, State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business, said,  “We thank Steven Howitt for his commitment to the needs of thousands of Main Street small businesses and their more than one million employees in Massachusetts during your service on Beacon Hill.”

   Francis “Chip” Faulkner of Citizens for Limited Taxation 2 ½ PAC, praised Howitt. “We need to keep people like Steven Howitt in the State Legislature to continue the fight for the income tax rollback and to block any attempt to impose new taxes. According to Faulker, Howitt took the Taxpayer Protection Pledge to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.” 

   The National Rifle Association has also endorsed Republican incumbent Howitt.  “Your “A” rating and endorsement is a reflection of your support on Second Amendment issues and likewise a similar endorsement from GOAL, the Gun Owners Action League.”

     During his tenure in office, Howitt has maintained a 100% roll-call voting record while representing the Fourth Bristol District that includes all of  Seekonk and Rehoboth, precinct 1 and 2 in Norton, and precincts 4 and 5 in Swansea.


REHOBOTH VOTERS APPROVE FULL TOWN MEETING WARRANT

(October 18, 2016)  Enough registered voters came to last night’s special town meeting to approve the six item warrant that primarily addressed town budget issues.

    Voters approved an amended budget for FY17 that includes a $12,397 compensation buyout for the recently retired animal control officer, and a cash buyout of $5,961 for the Rehoboth Fire Chief, per his contract.

    Also approved were capital expenditures including $140K in new vehicles and equipment for the town’s forestry department, and a $70K modular vault for the town office for the safekeeping of records and documents. 


SELECTMEN TO PUT NON-BINDING QUESTION ON SPRING ELECTION BALLOT

(October 18, 2016)  Rehoboth Selectman Gerry Schwall announced at last night’s special town meeting that a non-binding question on the proposed natural gas compressor station will be placed on the ballot for spring election.

    A non-binding question, under Massachusetts General Law, can be placed on an election ballot to obtain and measure public opinion.  The outcome of a non-binding question is largely symbolic and will not result in any “new, changed, or rejected law.”

    Grassroots opposition against Algonquin’s proposed construction of a gas compressor station, part of the “Access Northeast Project” to address New England’s energy needs, began several months ago. The plan calls for construction of two metal buildings, including the compressor station, on a ten-acre site within an approximately 100-acre parcel of undeveloped land in North Rehoboth. Natural gas pipeline already runs through Rehoboth.  The plan includes construction of new pipeline to connect with the gas compressor station.

    Opponents who cite health and safety concerns, turned to local selectmen to stop the project, but the town and state has no authority over a federal project.


FALL TOWN MEETING TO FOCUS ON BUDGET ISSUES

(October 12, 2016)  The Fall SpecialTown Meeting to be held Monday, October 17 at 7 PM in the auditorium at Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School consists of six articles that address town budget issues.

   Rehoboth Boy Scouts will be collecting non-perishable food items (please check expiration dates) in the lobby outside the auditorium.  Citizens are urged to contribute items or cash for Rehoboth Helping Hands Food Pantry.

    Articles on the special town meeting warrant include an amended fiscal year 2017 budget which was recommended by the town’s finance committee. Voters are specifically asked to fund a compensation buyout of $12,397 for the recently retired animal control officer.  A cash buyout of $5,961 for the Rehoboth Fire Chief, per his contract, is also requested.  Funding of $11,760, for a part-time clerk in the accountant’s office, is requested.  The amount of $25K is requested to replenish the town’s reserve fund.

    The board of selectmen requests voters to “raise or transfer from available funds” money to make three capital improvements including two purchases for the town’s forestry department, $90K for a 2017 Ford F450 and $55K for a John Deere Utility Tractor and Loader.  Seventy thousand dollars is requested to purchase a modular records vault for the town offices. 

    An infestation of mold in the existing town office vault required an emergency expenditure of $10K last month to retain the services preservation experts to save town records from 1643 to present day. Voters are asked to fund $70K for the town to purchase a Modular Ceramic Insulating Core Firelock Vault System, which can be installed in the current town office.  The vault can be added on to and also moved to another location.

   Another warrant item asks voters to approve a solar installation “pilot” agreement for payment in lieu of taxes for an installation at 128  Bay State Road.


REHOBOTH FIREFIGHTERS TRAIN ON LATEST EXTRACTION EQUIPMENT

(October 13, 2016)  The Rehoboth Fire Department was recently able to train with Firematic and HURST Jaws of Life, the newest line of auto extrication equipment.

    The RFD’s current "Jaws of Life" and associated tools, owned by the town, are 10- years-old and carried on the Special Hazards vehicle.  These tools are powered by hydraulic hoses tethered to the truck, so use is limited by the length of hoses and accessibility of victims.

    This poses a significant problem when a vehicle is deep into the woods or someone is trapped inside a building or under equipment out in a field. Firefighters must first disconnect the equipment from the truck and additional equipment must be carried out to the victim, then reattached to perform the extrication.

    The newest line of extraction equipment allows firefighters to save previous time. Known as "eDRAULIC" the equipment is operated by a high-capacity battery powered hydraulic pump in each tool. This allows for instant power and unlimited distance from the responding apparatus.


CITIZENS AGAINST COMPRESSOR STATION OFFER FREE FILM SCREENING

(October 11, 2016)  Citizens Against the Rehoboth Gas Compressor Station (CARCS) are offering a free screening of a new film, “Dear President Obama, the Clean Energy Revolution is NOW” on Wednesday, October 26 at 7 PM in Goff Memorial Hall.

    Narrated by Mark Ruffalo and directed by Jon Bowermaster, the film shares information on fracking, climate change and “the urgent quest for a clean energy revolution.”

    According to the event flyer, “Dozens of communities in New England and Massachusetts are facing the threat of unnecessary and overbuilding of natural gas infrastructure, including the South Coast.”

    The public is invited to attend and learn more about the proposed construction of a natural gas compressor station on a large parcel of undeveloped land in North Rehoboth.

   Along with local anti-compressor station group CARCS, the film is also hosted by  South Coast Neighbors United and South Coast node of 350 Mass and the Better Future Project.


REHOBOTH TEEN ARRESTED AFTER CONFESSING TO TWITTER THREAT

(October 6, 2016)  A local teen was arrested by Rehoboth police after confessing he made threats on social media as a “prank” to feed off of the clown hoax frenzy.

     On Tuesday night around 6 PM, the RPD received a call from a concerned parent on alleged threats made on Twitter that mentioned Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School.

    Officer Gil Lima and Sgt. Richard Shailor immediately launched an investigation and were able to obtain information regarding the Twitter account used to make the threatening statements.  Officers then tracked usage to a home in Rehoboth. Detective James Casey also assisted throughout the investigation.

    After interviewing subjects at the residents, police were able to obtain a confession from the teen who was charged with threats to commit a crime.  According to police, he also make a threat concerning the location of a dangerous weapon, a firearm.

    The unidentified, 17-year-old was later bailed and released into the custody of his parents. The case was forwarded to Taunton Juvenile Court for prosecution.

    The Rehoboth Police Department would like to caution anyone that similar behavior will be met with arrest and prosecution.  Area police departments have taken to social media themselves to warn citizens about the crazy clown hoax.  On October 3,  RPD cautioned citizens on their Facebook page to not “feed into the hype.” 


REHOBOTH FIREFIGHTERS CONTAIN

DIESEL SPILL AFTER ACCIDENT

(October 4, 2016)  Rehoboth firefighters contained a diesel fuel spill yesterday following an accident involving a tractor trailer on Route 195.

    Public safety personnel were called to the scene of an accident Monday morning after a tractor trailer ran off the westbound highway into the woods. One of the truck’s fuel tanks split open and firefighters were tasked with containing the spill.  EMS evaluated the driver who did not appear to be injured.

     Along with Rehoboth police, numerous agencies were summoned to the scene including Massachusetts State Police, Mass Highway, Mass DEP, a heavy duty recovery company, and a pollution control company.

    Rehoboth Fire cleared the scene after pumping out the truck’s fuel tanks.  Removing the rig and road clean up took several hours


THREE FINALISTS SELECTED FOR HIGHWAY SUPERINTENDENT

(October 4, 2016)  Rehoboth Board of Selectmen last night were informed of the three finalists for the position of Highway Superintendent.

   Candidates who applied for the full-time, department head position were screened first by the Highway Superintendent Search Committee.  Committee members Kevin McBride, Robert Saxon and Matthew Habershaw also serve as the Highway Advisory Committee.

    There is only one local finalist, former selectmen Michael Costello who resigned his seat in April. The other two candidates are from New York state and Virginia. It was mentioned the candidate from New York currently works at Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay. The position requires working knowledge of federal, state and local regulations and procedures related to road maintenance.

   According to the job description approved by the town’s personnel board, the position also requires a minimum of seven years of “progressively responsible leadership and supervisory experience in the field of public works.”  Candidates must also be familiar with collective bargaining and public works employees.

   Both out-of-state candidates will be invited back to Rehoboth to be interviewed, along with Costello, during a regular public meeting of the BOS, probably this month or early November depending on candidate availability.

   Last night, selectmen discussed the interview process including the option of providing questions in advance to candidates and allowing them to submit  written response.  Other interview strategies were discussed. Instead of asking each candidate the same question and allowing each to answer, selectmen will consider asking the three candidates different questions based on their backgrounds.

   

RAAC RECEIVE OPEN MEETING LAW VIOLATION, AGREE TO FUTURE COMPLIANCE

(October 3, 2016)  The Regional Agreement Amendment Committee (RAAC) is scheduled to meet tomorrow night for the first time this school year since receiving notice of an Open Meeting Law (OML) Violation from the Office of the Attorney General in July.

    RAAC, a twelve-person committee, was established by the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District School Committee in 2014 to review the existing school district agreement between the towns of Rehoboth and Dighton. The existing regional agreement has not be updated in decades.

    Last April, Rehoboth resident Michael Deignan filed two OML complaints following written requests made in February and March to RAAC requesting meeting minutes.

   Deignan’s first complaint to the Attorney General’s Office alleged RAAC failed to “create and approve minutes” in a timely manner.  His second complaint alleged RAAC failed to respond to the first complaint with the additional accusation of deliberating outside of a meeting about the complaint response.

    The AG’s office found that RAAC did indeed fail to create and approve minutes in a timely manner, and members also deliberated by email, a violation of OML. However, they acknowledged RAAC did properly respond to Deignan’s first OML complaint.

    Under OML, minutes for municipal committee meetings must be available upon request in a written format, digital or printed in a timely manner.  Anyone can make a request to obtain meeting minutes. Many of Rehoboth’s municipal committees, with members appointed by the selectmen, post both agendas and minutes on the town website.  Copies of all committee meeting minutes are on file at the town office.

   Following his request to receive RAAC meeting minutes, committee leaders had told Deignan to obtain and watch video tapes of the meetings.  At the time they said video tapes were sufficient and they were not responsible to produce written minutes.  Town committees, however, are charged with producing written minutes which must be first reviewed at a meeting and then approved and submitted to the town.

    By mid-April, RAAC backtracked and produced minutes for all their minutes since 2014, except one held on October 16, 2014. Those minutes were created and approved in May. 

  RAAC was ordered by the AG’s Office to comply “immediately and in the future” to OML regulations. They were also ordered to “disclose the contents of the emails at issue (violating OML) during a properly posted meeting.”

   “We caution that similar future violations could be considered evidence of intent to violate the law,” said the full, detailed report.

   According to the report, RAAC “has pledged to review” the Open Meeting Law Guide. 


DIGHTON REHOBOTH SCHOOL DISTRICT RESTORES TESTING DESIGNATION

(September 30, 2016)  Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District Superintendent Dr. Anthony Azar announced yesterday the district’s Level 2 MCAS designation has been restored after one year at Level 3 ranking.

    Last year, the district ranking was determined to be a Level 3 due to testing results at Rehoboth’s Palmer River Elementary School.  According to Azar, a “small number of high needs students’ scores did not meet the target.”

    In any given year, the district ranking is determined by the testing scores of the “lowest performing school” (PRES) related to both past performance and standardized testing scores statewide.

   While Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School is ranked last year as a Level I commendation school, both Dighton elementary and middle schools, along with D. L. Beckwith Middle, maintained Level 2 status.

    The new district ranking was elevated through the “dedication and hard work of teachers and staff” at Palmer River Elementary.  Principal Arlene Miguel credited ongoing collaboration with Central Office Administration, strong teacher teams, research-based strategies and “effective pedagogy” to address individual student needs and growth. 

    “We will continue to monitor students carefully for adequate progress throughout the year,” said Miguel, “and interventions were designed and implemented to close gaps in reading and/or math.”

    Dr. Azar credited his team of administrators working in collaboration with educators and families for the boost in ranking at the elementary level.  “We have new mathematics resources and curriculum in place that are already showing promise,” he noted.

    “We are carefully analyzing formative and summative assessment data to monitor and adjust instruction for all students including those in high need categories to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all learners,” he emphasized. 

    Testing scores showed that some students, who require Individual Education Plans (IEPS) to address unique educational needs, may have fallen into achievement gaps. Azar said the district will address the needs of special education students and “then prioritize where our energies and resources will need to be channeled.”

   Increasing student achievement and maintaining fiscal responsibility are two goals for the D-R district.  Azar noted only five school districts in Massachusetts have been newly ranked at Level 1 or 2 including Dighton-Rehoboth, Bellingham, Gateway Regional, Medford and Oxford. 


ALGONQUIN GAS TO REPAIR LINES IN NORTH REHOBOTH

(September 28, 2016)  The Town of Rehoboth received formal written notice on Monday, September 26 from Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC (AGT) of scheduled repairs to two existing natural gas pipelines on the north side of town “during the week of September 26.”

    The notice of repair came the same day representatives from Algonquin Gas/SPECTRA appeared before the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen and citizens at a public information session to answer questions related to a proposed gas compressor station in North Rehoboth.

   According to the notice from Algonquin Gas, “AGT identified two locations (pipeline anomalies) in Rehoboth that require immediate investigation and repair.”  Those locations are “off of Tremont Street directly to Algonquin easement” at Milepost 18.30, and “off Ash Street directly to Algonquin easement” at Milepost 19.31.

    The work is defined as “an emergency maintenance concern” and will begin this week. Work at each site is anticipated to take 2-3 days to complete. None of the proposed work area is within mapped conservation areas.

    The notice came from AGT to the town’s Conservation Agent Leeann Bradley, and the town’s Conservation Commission.  The repair activities are legally exempt under Federal law under the Natural Gas Act and Pipeline Safety Act.  However, both repair sites require equipment access and excavation under the jurisdiction of the Rehoboth Conservation Commission.

    The pipelines will be excavated sufficient for investigation and repair, and the site returned to pre-construction conditions including seeding.


NATURAL GAS OFFICIALS ATTEMPT TO ADDRESS CITIZENS CONCERN

(September 28, 2016)  Multiple officials representing  Algonquin Gas Transmission addressed local citizen concerns at a public information session on Monday night during a regular meeting of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen.

    Grassroots opposition against Algonquin’s proposed construction of a gas compressor station began several months ago.  Protest signs are currently on lawns throughout town and in adjacent areas of Attleboro and Seekonk. The proposed gas compressor station will be constructed company-owned land in North Rehoboth. The plan calls for construction of two metal buildings on a ten-acre site within an approximately 100-acre parcel. The plan also calls for construction of additional pipeline.  Natural gas pipeline was constructed through areas of Rehoboth about 50 years ago.

   Gas company officials were provided questions from concerned residents and town officials in advance. On Monday night, reps from Algonquin shared a 12-slide public relations presentation on the “Access Northeast” project as “The Solution to New England’s Energy Problem.”  The presentation did not address specific questions from local residents.  When audience members were allowed to speak, gas officials were unable to answer many of their questions, particularly those relating to health and safety issues. 

    The Access Northeast project in a massive undertaking by Algonquin and developers National Grid, Eversource Energy and Spectra Energy to improve natural gas infrastructure in New England.  The project is governed by Federal law with permitting through a number of federal authorities including the Army Corps of Engineers and the EPA. In Massachusetts, the project is governed by MassDEP and other agencies.  Locally, the only authority is through the town’s Conservation Commission under the Wetlands Projection Act.

    The entire meeting can be seen on Rehoboth TV, local public access government Channel 9, and on-demand at RehobothTV.org.  The photo above is a representative image of what the Rehoboth Compressor Station will look like, one slide of the presentation given to Rehoboth officials and residents.


LOCAL YOUTH LAUNCHES COMMUNITY “PROJECT PINK”

(September 27, 2016)  Rehoboth teen Abby Abrahamson has launched a community campaign called “Project: Pink” a menstrual hygiene products drive to begin October 1 and run through November 14.

    Lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene products can lead to unsanitary conditions, infection, and a loss of confidence and self-esteem in women. These are problems that people face all around the world, even right here in Rehoboth. On average, a box of sanitary pads or tampons costs $6. If a family consists of three menstruating women that each use one box of tampons a month, the yearly cost of menstrual hygiene products adds up to $216 This is a costly expenditure, and many people and families of little or no income cannot afford needed menstrual hygiene products.

   All items acquired throughout the drive will be donated to the Rehoboth Helping Hands Food Pantry & assistance program. “We are seeking items such as sanitary pads, tampons, and underwear. Your donations are greatly appreciated!” said Abby.

    Many Rehoboth businesses are helping as donation sites including Shear Artistry Hair Salon, Erin’s Chop Shop, Anjulans’ Florist & Gardens, Shanti Yoga & Fitness, Alicia’s Dance Studio, Step Ahead School of Dance, Anawan Cleaners, Mind Body Barre, Rosemary’s School of Dance Education and the Rehoboth Congregational Church.

    To help spread, supporters are asked to post a picture of their donation using the social media hashtag #projectpinkrehoboth.


SUBMIT QUESTIONS FOR HOWITT - JACQUES DEBATE TO BE HELD IN NORTON

(September 27, 2016)  Norton Media Center is pleased to announce it will sponsor two debates in two different races for state representative, both involving seats where the districts include parts of Norton.

    On October 19, the debate will feature incumbent Republican Steven Howitt against Democratic challenger Paul Jacques in the Fourth Bristol District that includes Seekonk, Rehoboth, Swansea (precincts 4 and 5) and Norton (precincts 1 and 2). 

    The debate will be moderated by Sun Chronicle columnist and Norton Town Moderator Bill Gouveia who will take questions originating from the public.  Please send your questions to him at aninsidelook@aol.com. The selection of questions and the form in which they are asked will be completely up to the moderator.  Both debates will be taped at the studios of Norton Media Center and broadcast many times before the November 8 election.  Norton TV video can be accessed online at Vimeo.


EARLY VOTING OPPORTUNITY FOR REHOBOTH RESIDENTS

(September 26, 2016)  For the first time ever in Massachusetts, all registered voters can cast a ballot before Election Day (November 8, 2016) beginning October 24 through November 4 at the Town Clerk’s Office, Monday thru Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM, and on Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon.

    Early voting is for every registered voter, although absentee voting is available for registered voters who qualify. Only registered voters who will be absent from their town on November 8, have a disability that prevents them from going to the polls, or have a religious belief preventing the same, are legally allowed to vote by absentee ballot.

    For public convenience, the Rehoboth Town Clerk’s Office is also offering extended early voting hours at the Town Office at 128 Peck Street on Wednesday, October 26 from 8 AM to 7 PM and Wednesday, November 2 from 8 AM to 7 PM.  You can also cast an early ballot on Saturday, October 29 from  10 AM to 4 PM at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center at 55 Bay State Road.

     Registered voters also have the option to request an early voting ballot through the mail. Simply fill out an application and mail to the Town of Rehoboth, Town Clerk’s Office, 148 Peck Street, Rehoboth, MA  02769. You can find the application on the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website: sec.state.ma.us/ele.

    Please note that once you’ve voted by one of the early methods, you can not vote at the polls on Election Day.

    Regardless of how you plan to vote, you must be registered by October 18 to vote in the November 8 election. 

    To check to see if you are registered to vote, visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website at sec.state.ma.us/ele, or call the Rehoboth Town Clerk’s Office at (508) 252-6502 X-3109 or X-3110. 

   You can register to vote online at RegisterToVoteMA.com or at the Town Clerk’s Office located at 148 Peck Street, Rehoboth. All you need is a license or an I.D. issued by the Registry of Motor Vehicles to apply online or in person.


LOCAL ANIMAL GROUP CHANGES NAME AND MISSION

(September 25, 2016)  The non-profit Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter, Inc. has changed its name to Rehoboth Animal Advocates, Inc. (RAA).

    According to organizers, the name was changed because their animal welfare services have expanded, but will remain a non-profit organization that relies on donations, fundraisers and dedicated benefactors.

    The RAA’s primary mission is a Trap/Neuter/Release Program of feral cat colonies in Rehoboth. Under the prior name, the group trapped over 69 feral cats and kittens with a waiting list.

   The group intends to promote awareness of the feral cat population and its effect on the animals, environment and residents.  They will also promote awareness of care and support for abandoned and neglected animals.  Finally, RAA will support and help promote shelter animals. Organizers say they will also help elderly residents, who are fuel assistance qualified, with food for their dogs and cats.

    The group plans to host fundraisers to help defray the costs for veterinary care, food, medicine, traps, etc.  New members are always welcome and meetings are held the second Saturday of the month at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center, 55 Bay State Road at 10 AM.

    On Sunday, October 16, the group invites the public to learn more about their feral cat Trap-N
euter-Release program from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.  If you have a specific cat situation, please attend to get more info.  Coffee and pastries will be served.  While sipping coffee, try your luck at the raffle table. For more info, email RehobothAnimalAdvocate@gmail.com.

    Donations can be mailed to Rehoboth Animal Advocates, Inc., P.O. Box 42, Rehoboth, MA 02769. For more information, please email RehobothAnimalAdvocates@gmail.com. A website is under construction.


REP. HOWITT ANNOUNCES COMPROMISE WITH DEPT. OF TRANSPORTATION

FOR REPAIRS ON ROUTE 44

(September 25, 2016)  Representative Steven S. Howitt (R-Seekonk) released a statement concerning the resurfacing and related work planned for Rout 44, as well as the status of other local road projects in Rehoboth.

    “After much lobbying,” reported Howitt, “I was happy to learn that the resurfacing and related work on Rout 44 was included in the MassDOT 5 Year Transportation Improvement Program for an estimated project cost of $7,776,000.”

     Howitt continued, “However, I was disappointed to learn that the bid for this project will not take place until 2019. When I learned of this schedule, I contacted the MassDOT headquarters in Boston to let them know that, given the present condition of the patched road, this timeline was unacceptable.” 

  A short term compromise was agreed to by MassDOT where the worst spots of the roadway will be milled/scarified (removal of existing asphalt that is found to be unacceptable) and resurfaced from the RI line to the Taunton line.  The work will be done at night from 7:30 PM to 5 AM to minimize impact for commuters. 

     Howitt also reported the Wheeler Street Bridge reconstruction is at 71% with a completion anticipated for next April. The contractor, Walsh Construction of North Attleboro, is currently forming and placing concrete for wing walls and headwalls. Future operations include waterproofing and backfilling precast arches. The Wheeler Street Bridge which was destroyed in flooding back in 2010 has a replacement cost of $1,600,015.

     Howitt has been instrumental in bringing intersection improvements and related work to the intersection of Route 44 and Route 118 at an estimated cost of over 2 million in state funding.

     This location was identified by SRPEDD as having a higher than normal crash rating in the Southeast Region. The skew of the Rte. 118 northbound approach creates difficulties for opposing vehicles making left-hand turns from Route 44.

    Work on this project consists of traffic signal and geometric improvement at the intersection along with geometric improvement and signals, and additional safety improvements for bicycle and pedestrian accommodation.

    While a base survey has been completed, design has not started and state funding for this project has not been specifically identified.

 

REHOBOTH POLICE DISCOVER SLEEPING DRIVER BEHIND WHEEL

December 3, 2016)  Rehoboth police last night arrested a Seekonk man passed out behind the wheel of his still running vehicle on Lake Street.

     A 911 caller reported a vehicle parked in the roadway with an unresponsive male in the driver’s seat while the car was running and still in gear. Attempts by the caller to wake the individual proved unsuccessful.  Officer Louis Dibacco was first to arrive at the scene on Lake Street in the area of Balsam Drive. He discovered the sleeping male in a Nissan sedan with his foot on the brake pedal and the vehicle still in drive. 

    It took several attempts to wake Richard Amaral, age 50 of Seekonk, who was determined to be intoxicated and taken into custody charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, and negligent operation of a motor vehicle. 

   Amaral was transported to the Rehoboth Police Station for processing and later released by Bail Clerk Dan Igo on personal recognizance.  Sgt. Norman Todd assisted Officer Dibacco with the investigation and arrest.


WHAT HAPPENED TO REHOBOTH’S

ICONIC CANNON? 

American Legion’s Cannon Goes to Rehab

(December 2, 2016)  Residents have been wondering what happened to the iconic military cannon permanently stationed in the gore segment of the roadway outside American Legion Post 302 in Rehoboth.

    The cannon was removed for refurbishment recently in a cooperative effort spearheaded by a member of Boy Scout Troop 13 for his Eagle Scout project.  “Danny stra
tegically coordinated the removal of the cannon,” said Jake Kramer, Rehoboth Veteran Services Officer,  “with help from Rehoboth police and highway department personnel, along with Rehoboth-based J & J Materials.  The project was approved by the Boy Scout District Council and supported by the Town of Rehoboth.

     The cannon was removed using a flatbed tractor trailer from J & J Materials and was transported to a climate controlled environment for rehabilitation.  The project is expected to be completed by Christmas and the cannon returned to permanent home on Bay State Road. (Photos by Jake Kramer)