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REHOBOTH TOWN CLERK WORKS TOWARD COVETED DESIGNATION,

COMPLETES SECOND YEAR OF UNIQUE PROGRAM 

(July 22, 2016) Rehoboth Town Clerk, Laura L. Schwall, recently completed her second year of studies at the New England Municipal Clerks’ Institute and Academy (NEMCI&A) at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, New Hampshire.

     The three-year program is the only program of its kind in the country, run exclusively by and for city and town clerks and their office staff. Completion entitles graduates to apply for the International Institute of Municipal Clerks’ coveted Certified Municipal Clerk (CMC) designation.

   Schwall spent a week completing the second intermediate level year with continuing interactive classes on the skills of professional administration, management, decision-making, written communication, public speaking, parliamentary procedure, interpersonal communication and law.  Relevant computer courses are also introduced. 

    Town clerks in year two of the course interact with each other to develop and maintain the high level of administrative expertise needed for the successful operation of increasingly complex municipal governments. 

     Established under the direction of the Rhode Island Department of Community Affairs and the guidance of the New England Association of City and Town Clerks, NEMCI&A began with a charter class of 32 students. Over 500 cities and towns have sent town clerks to the continuing education programs over its forty-one year history. 

    Academy is a continuing education program designed for clerks who have completed their Institute training or have already attained their CMC certification.  Academy courses are more in-depth and intensive, fostering the development of high-level administrative and executive-level management skills.

    The NEMCI&A Board of Directors consists of two representatives from each of the six New England states and meets year-round with faculty and university personnel to develop the best possible week of intellectual stimulation, personal growth and challenges for attendees.


SPECIAL TRADITION TO BE REVIVED IN REHOBOTH

(July 19, 2016)  On Monday, July 25, a very special tradition will be revived in Rehoboth with the ceremony to award the Rehoboth ‘Boston Post Cane’ to the town’s oldest citizen, Francelina Veader, age 102.

    The Boston Post Cane tradition began on August 2, 1909 when Boston Post publisher, Edwin A. Grozier, send engraved, gold-headed ebony canes to 700 towns in the New England states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine.

    The canes were to be presented, with compliments of the Boston Post, to the oldest male citizen of that town. That gentleman would use the cane until his demise, at which time the cane was passed on to the next oldest citizen in town.

    In 1930, after a period of considerable controversy, the oldest women in town were finally allowed to be named recipients of the cane. The cane would belong to the town and not the man/woman who received it.

   Rehoboth’s Boston Cane was regularly presented until 2001, and then went missing in 2005 when the last recipient passed away. It was found just this spring in storage at the senior center and returned to the selectmen’s office. 

    Town Clerk Laura Schwall took charge of the historic artifact and brought the story to the attention of selectmen.

    “I made the revival of this tradition a priority in my office,” said Schwall. “I am so pleased that the selectmen and the Rehoboth Senior Citizens Club are joining with me to celebrate Mrs. Veader’s place in Rehoboth’s history.

     It was decided by selectman to preserve the original cane in a secure case with brass name tags naming each Rehoboth recipient boing back to 1909. Going forward, the eldest resident will receive a full-size replica of the original cane, a lapel pin replica of the cane, and their name added to the display housing the original cane.

     The Boston Canes were all made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York manufacturer, from ebony shipped in seven-foot lengths from the Congo in Africa.  Cut to cane lengths and seasoned for six months, the canes were turned on lathes to the right thickness, coated and polished, each with a 14-carat gold head, two inches long, decorated by hand, and a ferruled tip.  The head was engraved with the inscription, “Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town)” and “To Be Transmitted.”

   The presentation ceremony for Mrs. Veader will be held at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center on July 25 at 12 noon.

    Any questions about the cane or the upcoming ceremony should be directed to Laura Schwall, Rehoboth Town Clerk, Office hours: Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM and Friday from 8 AM to 12 noon at 508-252-6502, extension 3110.


TOWN OF REHOBOTH BEGINS CITING NON-COMPLIANT DOG OWNERS

(July 18, 2016)  After allowing a lengthy grace period, the Town of Rehoboth has begun citing residents who have not vaccinated and licensed their dogs.

    Annual dog licenses are traditionally due to be renewed on April 1 of each year with the town reminding residents months in advance. The town issued three warnings to dog owners about yearly licensing.  June 1 was the final deadline before selectmen were forced to comply with state law and policies on unlicensed dogs.

    “We’ve done more than our share to remind you of your responsibility,” said BOS Chairman Skip Vadnais at the June 7 BOS meeting. “You will go to court,” he warned.  “You will be fined. We will seize dogs if you fail to license them.”

    According to Massachusetts State Law, unlicensed dogs can be caught by municipal animal control officers and made available for adoption. If dogs are in poor condition, ill health or not adoptable, they will be destroyed.  The Town of Rehoboth has an euthanasia policy for animals that can not be adopted. 

   Owners of unlicensed dogs should now expect to receive a  summons to appear in court for a non-criminal charge and pay related court expenses.  The town will charge a $25 fee to being the citation process, certified mailing charges, plus the annual license fee and late fees per dog.

    Rabies vaccination certification is required to license and relicense dogs. If you have any questions, please contact the Rehoboth Town Clerk’s Office at 508-252-6502, ext. 3109 or 3110. The Town Office is open 8 AM to 4 PM Monday through Thursday, and on Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon.


YOUNG WOMAN KILLED IN CRASH ON HORNBINE ROAD

(July 7, 2016)  A young Rehoboth woman perished and two others injured yesterday evening following a two-vehicle collision at the intersection of Hornbine Road and Simmons Street.

   Rehoboth police, fire and ambulance was dispatched shortly before 6 PM  to the scene of the accident involving a 1995 Toyota pickup truck and a 2008 Accura TL.

   First responders found Kayla DeMello in the Accura severely injured and unresponsive.  The driver’s side door had to be removed before the 21-year-old was able to be extricated and rushed to Rhode Island Hospital where she died.  Police have not released the names of two occupants of the truck who were also rushed to Rhode Island Hospital for injuries described as non-life threatening. It is unknown if any were local residents.

    According to Rehoboth police, the vehicles collided with force as the Accura was turning onto Hornbine Road from Simmons.  While speed and alcohol do not appear to be factors in the fatal crash, television media report a witness saying the Accura ran the stop sign.

   The crash is being investigated by the Rehoboth Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police. Officers were assisted at the scene by the Swansea Police Department and the Swansea Ambulance.  

    DeMello was a 2013 graduate of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School, the daughter of Lucia and Robert DeMello and sister of Kelsey DeMello.


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR TNR FERAL CAT PROJECT

(July 7, 2016)  Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter (FRAS) has launched a Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) Program and is seeking volunteers.

   There are around 13 identified feral cat colonies in Rehoboth. Volunteers are needed to assist in first trapping the felines and then driving trapped cats to clinics for neutering and spaying. The targeted colonies and trapping schedule depends on the number of volunteers who can help.

    Providing proper health care and sterilization, the feral cats can be returned to their colonies to live out their lives without increasing the feral cat population in Rehoboth.

    FRAS is a non-profit organization established to support the town-operated animal shelter.  Along with volunteers, FRAS needs to purchase more equipment, supplies, and pay for veterinarian expensese. The group also needs access to a clean shed, barn or garage where the cats can heal after the neutering, and where equipment can be stored. Males may take up to two days for recovery and females up to five days.

    Monetary donations would greatly be appreciated to help pay expenses associated with the TNR program.

Those interested in volunteering, making a donation, or offering a recovery station should contact nancy Scott at 774-218-1802 or send an email to FRASPaws@aol.com. Checks can be mailed to Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter, Post Office Box 42, Rehoboth, MA 02769.  fraspaws.com.


FIREFIGHTERS SAVE SUMMER STREET BARN

(July 4, 2016)  Rehoboth firefighters were dispatched on Saturday afternoon to Summer Street on the report of fire and smoke from the copula of a barn.

     First arriving units observed the copula atop the second floor of the barn fully involved with heavy smoke. The fire was quickly extinguished with the first arriving engine.

    Rehoboth Fire Chief Frank Barresi said “the guys made a great stop. There is some fire and water damage but the property was saved.”

    Firefighters were on scene for approximately ninety minutes while the fire was overhauled and investigated. Stations 1 & 3 were at the scene while Station 2 covered the town from headquarters. Rehoboth EMS provided rehab on a very warm day with water and paramedics.

    Rehoboth police shut down Summer Street at French until the operation was completed. There were no reported injuries. The cause of the fire remains under investigation but appears to be accidental.

(Photo by Syd Bauman)


BAIL REDUCED FOR REHOBOTH MAN CHARGED WITH DRUNK DRIVING AND VEHICULAR HOMICIDE

(June 28, 2016)  A Rehoboth man changed with vehicular homicide following an accident that killed a Seekonk man on Saturday was arraigned in Taunton District Court yesterday afternoon.

    Bail for Jeffrey H. Fisk, Jr., age 40 of Jameson Drive, was reduced from $100,040 to $50,000 after he pleaded innocent to charges of motor vehicle homicide and operating under the influence of alcohol.  Judge Antoinette Leoney placed several conditions on Fisk if he makes bail, including wearing a GPS monitor, a curfew from 7 PM to 7 AM, and random alcohol screenings.  He was also ordered to not drive or drink alcohol.

     Fisk’s attorney, Roger Ferris, challenged the Rehoboth police report, parts of which were read in court. According to Ferris, no sobriety or breathalyzer test was administered to prove Fisk was driving under the influence. The police report, filed by Officer Louis DiBacco, described Fisk as unsteady on his feet with “bloodshot and glossy eyes” and the odor of alcohol was emanating from “his person and breath.”

    Fisk was driving a 1998 Dodge Ram truck that struck and killed 63-year-old Anthony Kishfy of Seekonk who was driving a motorcycle on Agricultural Avenue in the middle of the afternoon on a clear day.  Kishfy was pronounced dead at the scene and Fisk was transported to Sturdy Memorial Hospital for evaluation.

     Ferris told the court that Fisk is permanently disabled and if he appeared unsteady on his feet it was due to a previous toe amputation from a work injury. Fisk was a construction worker previously employed by Fisk Construction of Rehoboth and Seekonk.  A pre-trail hearing was scheduled for July 26.


REHOBOTH MAN ARRESTED FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT YESTERDAY

(June 26, 2016)  A 40-year-old Rehoboth man was arrested yesterday afternoon on multiple vehicular charges following a fatal accident on Agricultural Avenue near Rocky Hill Road around 2:30 PM.

    Rehoboth police, fire, and ambulance were dispatched following a report of a crash involving a motorcycle and truck.  The 63-year-old driver of the motorcycles was found lying in the southbound land unresponsive and severely injured. First aid was administered in the roadway to the man, a resident of Seekonk, but he was pronounced dead on the scene.

     According to police, the accident occurred when the victim, operating a  2015 Suzuki motorcycle, was struck head on by a 1998 Dodge Ram pickup truck traveling southwest on Agricultural Avenue. The unidentified driver was traveling northeast on Agricultural.

    Jeffery H. Fisk, Jr. of Jameson Drive in Rehoboth was placed under arrest and transported to Sturdy Hospital in Attleboro by Seekonk Ambulance. Once treated and released, Fisk was transported to the Rehoboth Police Department for processing on charges of homicide by motor vehicle, and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of liquor. 

    Fisk is being held on $100,040 dollar cash bail and set to be arraigned in Taunton District Court tomorrow.

    This incident remains under investigation by the Rehoboth Police Department, Massachusetts State Police Crash Reconstruction Unit, The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office, and the Massachusetts Medical Examiner. 


REHOBOTH FIRE DEPARTMENT OFFICERS COMPLETE TRAINING

(June 24, 2016)  Several officers of the Rehoboth Fire Department received certificates of completion for specialized training in arson investigation and fire science on Monday, June 20 at a regular meeting of the board of selectmen.

     Nationally renowned instructor and expert on the subject matter, Chief Ronald Churchill (Ret.) of the Attleboro Fire department taught the course.

   “I was honored that Chief Churchill offered to present this course to Rehoboth’s officers,” said Rehoboth Fire Chief Frank Barresi.

    The course ran for three hours a night for several weeks and culminated with live burns of a house and three automobiles.  The officers were then put in teams to investigate the cause and origin of the fires.

    “The presence or suspicion of arson or malicious intent needs to be recognized and identified early on during any type of fire” said Barresi.

    “Chief Churchill has afforded our officers the training, tools and awareness to determine possible causes early on during an incident and know how to conduct an investigation.”

   A total of 14 of RFD officers and one detective from the Rehoboth Police Department, were awarded certificates by Chief Churchill during the open forum section of the Selectmen’ meeting. The department new tanker truck was also on display in the parking lot of the senior center.

     Chairman Vadnais congratulated the officers and thanked them for their service along with the rest of the BOS. Barresi said, “ I can’t thank Chief Churchill enough for providing this training to my officers.”

    Chief Churchill stated he enjoyed the camaraderie, respect, brotherhood and professionalism of the Rehoboth officers.  He told selectmen, “They were a great group to work with.”


UNCONFIRMED REPORTS OF RANDOM CAR SHOOTINGS IN

REHOBOTH APPEAR ON SOCIAL MEDIA

UPDATE: According to Rehoboth Chief of Police James Trombetta, there were four reports taken yesterday (June 22) of incidents involving damaged windshields, possibly caused by pellets or rocks.  He said the department has no further information to give out at this time.

(June 23, 2016) Yesterday afternoon reports of random car shootings in Rehoboth  began to appear on social media including the Rehoboth Talk page on Facebook.

     A Rehoboth resident wrote that “someone shot at my windshield while driving on on Route 117 South (area of 189 Anawan Street) today.” She shared a photo of a broken windshield and elaborated that she had gone to the Rehoboth police and made a report. She also mentioned “I was the third report” of a random car shooting, with the other incidents allegedly taking place in other parts of town.

    Approximately thirty minutes after this message was posted online, Rehoboth Now contacted the RPD to request confirmation and more information about these disturbing public safety incidents. At publication time, the Rehoboth Police Department has not replied nor issued a press release.

    According to a report in the Sun Chronicle this morning on yesterday's social media posts, the RPD was unavailable to comment or confirm details surrounding this alleged incidents, nor to issue a public warning.


GRANT FOR PROJECT LIFESAVER SCANNER WILL HELP REHOBOTH PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL LOCATE MISSING RESIDENTS

(June 21, 2016)  Rehoboth public safety personnel will soon be trained to use a Project Lifesaver scanner granted to the Rehoboth Police Department by the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO).

    A grant for the $2000 scanner was obtained by Rehoboth TRIAD, a local organization comprised of representatives from public safety, the sheriff’s office and senior citizens groups.   

    Project Lifesaver is the nation’s most effective rescue program designed to help locate missing adults and children with cognitive impairment with risk of wandering.  Those with Alzheimer’s, dementia, head injury, neurological conditions, autism, Down Syndrome, and developmental disabilities are candidates for participating in the program.

   According to the BCSO, Project Lifesaver has a 100% success rate with nearly 2000 saves nationally.  Using the most reliable technology available, Project Lifesaver utilizes a lightweight, water resistant wrist band with a radio frequency transmitter. The bracelet emits a constant signal and the scanner works like a GPS to pinpoint the person’s location for speedy rescue. The device can literally save lives when every minute counts in locating a missing person.

    Just last month, an elderly Fall River Man who suffers from dementia left his home and walked nearly three miles before he was located.  Lt. Fernando Pimental, who manages Project Lifesaver for the sheriff’s office, was able to find the disoriented and exhausted 87-year-old man using the scanner. In 2014, a Swansea couple donated $2000 to their local police department to purchase a Project Lifesaver scanner. Their son, a young man on the autism spectrum, has a tendency to wander and now wears the bracelet. 

   Currently, about half of the program participants in Bristol Country are either children or adults with autism who have difficulty with communication. The other users are adults or elders with cognitive impairment.  For those who are left home alone for periods of time, Project Lifesaver gives caregivers a valuable sense of security.

    There is a cost involved to purchase the bracelet. The initial cost is $300 with a $10 per month maintenance fee.  Each month, clients get a visit from Lt. Pimental to change the battery on the wrist band.

   For more information about Project Lifesaver, please contact Lt. Pimental at the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office, 508-995-6400, ext. 2180.


PUBLIC INVITED TO OPENING RECEPTION OF CELEBRATE ART, REHOBOTH!

(June 17, 2016)  The Rehoboth Cultural Council invited the residents to attend the opening reception of Celebrate Art, Rehoboth!, a first-ever exhibition of local professional artists, as well as selected student artists from Rehoboth public schools, K through grade 12.

    The exhibition will open on Sunday, June 26 from 1 to 4 PM at the Carpenter Museum Barn and run through Sunday, July 24 with hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 PM and on Sundays from 2 to 4 PM.

    The work of 27 professional artists from Rehoboth will be on exhibit in the  museum’s Otis Dyer, Sr. Barn, with art from 37 students displayed in the Tilton Room on the museum’s lower level.  The exhibit is free or charge and there is no admission fee to visit the Carpenter Museum, open during the same hours as the art exhibit. Ample parking is available behind the museum off Bay State Road.

    The Rehoboth Cultural Council is the local affiliate of the Massachusetts Cultural Council that awarded grant money to be distributed locally each year to enrich the cultural life of residents of all ages.  In 2016, the RCC received $4,950 in funds from the state to either completely fund or partially support 14 events or programs.

   Members of the RCC began planning this first-ever art show last year. RCC Chair Maureen Whittemore has coordinated the effort along with curator Sheila Oliveira and Melissa Treichler, who is curating the student portion of the exhibit.

   The professional artists included in the barn exhibit the posthumous work of Rehoboth residents Charles Ballard, Charles Waddington and Joe Carpenter. The other featured professional artists are: Richard Benjamin, Judith Bertozzi, Erik Brisson, Harriet Brisson, David Brisson, Renee Moore Brooks, George Delany, Sandra Delany, Earle Dias, Mary Dondero, Carol Georgia, Michael Glancy, Connie Grab, Sherrill Hunnibell, David Kendrick, Debra Maher, Tracey Reath Manzella, Robert Materne, Sheila Oliveira, Robert O’Neal, Michele Poirier-Mozzone, B. Turek Robinson, Melissa Treichler, and Valerie Albert Weingard.

     Visit CelebrateArtRehoboth.com for full details about the show, the participating artists, and a complete list of student artists and photos of their work to be on exhibit from June 26 through July 24.


AREA FIREFIGHTERS JOIN RFD FOR COOPERATIVE DRILL

(June 7, 2016)  Firefighters from Berkley, Freetown, Lakeville and Rehoboth participated in a training exercise on Sunday, June 5, 2016. The training simulated a tanker response to Berkley through the Bristol County Mutual Aid Agreement.    

      Apparatus trucked water from a fill site two miles away and delivered it to a simulated fire scene where it was pumped onto the “fire” through a pumper and ladder truck.

     The training was considered a success and the departments were able to familiarize themselves with each others equipment and capabilities. Berkley responds to Rehoboth on the first request for mutual aid tankers. They were operating at a recent fire on Summer Street in Rehoboth.


REHOBOTH SELECTMEN ISSUE STERN WARNING TO DOG OWNERS

(June 7, 2016)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen last night addressed the issue of unlicensed dogs in town and issued a stern warning to owners who are delinquent.

     The town has already issued three warnings to dog owners about yearly licensing.  June 1 was the final deadline before selectmen were forced to comply with state law and policies on unlicensed dogs.

    “We’ve done more than our share to remind you of your responsibility,” said BOS Chairman Skip Vadnais.  “You will go to court,” he warned.  “You will be fined. We will seize dogs if you fail to license them.”

    According to Massachusetts State Law, dogs that are unlicensed can be caught by municipal animal control officers and made available for adoption. If dogs are in poor condition, ill health or not adoptable, they will be destroyed.  The Town of Rehoboth has an euthanasia policy for animals that can not be adopted. 

      Vadnais explained he was obligated to read the warrant statement from the state on unlicensed dogs.  “If you refuse to license your dogs, you relinquish ownership.”  Owners of unlicensed dogs should expect to receive a summons to appear in court and pay related court expenses.

     Selectmen Sue Pimental questioned the state policy of destroying unlicensed dogs.  Vadnais responded that killing unlicensed dogs is state policy that must be followed. 

    The BOS voted to approve the order to allow the Animal Control Officer to seize unlicensed dogs and for the Town Clerk to issue court summons to dog owners and fines. Selectmen Dave Perry excused himself from voting.


TWO REHOBOTH POLICE CRUISERS DAMAGED IN CRASH

(June 6, 2016)  Two Rehoboth police cruisers were involved in a crash shortly after 6 PM yesterday evening during a rain storm.

    According to the Rehoboth Police Department, a motorist driving a Nissan pickup truck struck both parked cruisers as officers were directing traffic around a downed tree in the roadway on Wilmarth Bridge Road.  One cruiser sustained “moderate to major damage” with the other vehicle was damaged less extensively. No human injuries were reported.

    After a brief investigation the operator of the pickup, Kolby Simmons of North Attleboro, was taken into custody and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, and negligent operation.  He was later released and scheduled to appear in Taunton District Court today.

   The accident is being investigated by Patrolman Gil Lima and Sgt. Norman Todd.


PUBLIC INVITED TO TOUR REHOBOTH GARDENS

(June 4, 2016)  The public is invited to tour five private and public gardens in Rehoboth and Seekonk, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday, June 11 from 10 AM to 4 PM.

    Visitors can start Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Program at any of the five locations. The Rehoboth sites include the garden of Marjorie & Don DeAngelis at 134 Hillside Avenue featuring a fenced-in garden surrounding a pool and patio with broad views of nearby fields. The garden and plantings in the front of the house were recently redesigned and replanted, and a new fence and stone wall were installed as the main features. 

   The McIlwain Garden at 37 Medalist Drive in Rehoboth is a four-season garden with expansive views of the neighboring golf course, and featuring an herb garden with armillary sphere, a blueberry/raspberry patch, a pergola, roses with lavender, and June blooming dogwoods, Virginia magnolia, peonies, Dutch iris, gumpo azalea, coral bells, catmint, campanula, and clematis.

    Tranquil Lake Nursery, located at 45 River Street in Rehoboth will offer a free guided tour at 10 AM. This public garden features two acres of display gardens and ten acres of daylily and iris fields.

    The Seekonk location for the tour will be Landscape Designer Andrew Grossman’s Display Gardens at 393 Fall River Avenue. The gardens, which border the Martin Wildlife Refuge and the Runnins River, include a blue-and-white garden, a hot colored garden with a checkerboard thyme patio, a cottage garden planted with roses and other old-fashioned favorites, a rustic pond surrounded by bog plantings, and a cutting garden of tea roses and dinner plate dahlias. The property is featured in Design New England's 2016 March/April issue and is a People’s Pick Winner in the Gorgeous Gardens category in HGTV's Ultimate Outdoor Awards competition.

    College Hill Oasis, designed by Andrew Grossman, is an urban garden in the heart of College Hill near Brown University.  A miniature paradise, this garden is located at 26 Diman Place. The garden is enclosed by a tall board fence with lattice insets, with a boisterous arrangement of white hydrangea bushes, hydrangea trees, and white roses accented by a contemporary fountain amidst pots of tall grasses and flowers.

    The Garden Conservancy created the Open Days program in 1995 as a means of introducing the public to gardening, providing easy access to outstanding examples of design and horticultural practice, and proving that exceptional American gardens are still being created.

    Admission to each garden is $7, benefitting the Garden Conservancy; children 12 and under are free. Open Days are rain or shine, and no reservations are required. Call 1-888-842-2442, or visit opendaysprogram.org for more information. (Photo credit: Courtesy of the Garden Conservancy)


SEEKING VOLUNTEERS TO ASSIST IN RESTORATION OF HISTORIC ARTIFACT

(June 1, 2016)  The Rehoboth Antiquarian Society is looking for local volunteers from Monday, June 27 to Thursday, June 30 to assist in restoring the historic stage curtain used to open the “new” Goff Memorial Hall in 1915.

    With a $7,125 grant from the Bristol County Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, the painted “grand drape” was hung at the front of the stage.  The first Goff Hall was completely destroyed by fire, then rebuilt and rededicated in 1915. The drape contains various images and graphic elements including fantastic stylized peacocks around the edges.

    The restoration work will be done by Curtains Without Borders, a conservation team from Vermont that restores these fascinating antique curtains all over New England.

   “The project cannot be completed without local volunteers, who will be trained on-site by the conservators,” said Laura Napolitano, Curtain Project Coordinator and curator of the Carpenter Museum. Both the museum and Goff Hall, that houses the Blanding Public Library, are owned and operated by the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society.

    “I'm looking for people to commit to helping for at least one four-hour block on June 27, 28, 29, or 30,” Napolitano specified. She also welcomes any volunteers who wish to commit to a full day of work. Some of the tasks asked to do include: preparing the work area, gently vacuuming the curtain to remove dust and debris, cleaning the curtain with dry sponges, repairing the curtain's support system.

     “It will be a great opportunity to learn, to get a little dusty, and to help bring back to life an integral part of Goff Hall's wonderful interior,” emphasized Napolitano.

   Those wishing to help in this endeavor to restore and conserve a valuable Rehoboth historic artifact, can sign up online.  Please be aware if the project moves along quickly, the final day of work may be cancelled, so sign up for June 27, 28 or 29 first.

    If you have any questions, please email Laura Napolitano at carpentermuseum@gmail.com.


SEMAP RESOURCES FOR  FARMERS AND CONSUMERS

(May 31, 2016) Growing season is upon us and the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP) offers lots of resources and special events including Twilight Workshops and guides to local farms, CSAs and farmer’s markets.

    Rehoboth has 36 SEMAP member farms and an updated listing can be found on the Right to Farm page of Rehoboth Now.

     SEMAP’s website offers a wealth of information and calendar of upcoming events. The organization’s Twilight Grower Education Series began in May and continues with a workshop on Growing Small Fruits on Monday, June 13 at Ward’s Berry Farm in Sharon, MA, followed by a workshop of Sheep Management Basics on Thursday, June 23 at the Soule Homestead Education Center in Middleboro.

   Two workshops will be held close to home with a program on Raising Alpacas on Tuesday, August 23 in Swansea, and a workshop on Diversified Livestock at Rehoboth’s Rosasharn Farm on Wednesday, September 14.  Registration is available on the SEMAP website.

   SEMAP is also hosting an informational program called AG Com Boot Camp Bee Informed on Monday, June 13 form 6 to 8 PM at Bristol County Agricultural High School. Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Chief Apiary Inspector Kim Skyrm and Chief Pesticide inspector Tayrn LaScola will provide an update on Pollinator Health. This will include information on the State and Federal status of pollinator health, including and addressing issues such as diseases, forage, pesticides and hive health.

    Registration for events is available on the SEMAP website.


DOG OWNERS REMINDED TO RENEW LICENSES BY JUNE 1

(May 27, 2016) The Office of the Rehoboth Town Clerk reminds residents that dog licensing is required for all canines and due by Wednesday, June 1 to avoid late fees and non-criminal citations.

   April 1 was the deadline to renewing existing licenses or obtaining new licenses for previously undocumented dogs.  A 60-day grace period was extended to June 1. Payments after that date will incur a $15 late fee per dog.  After July 1, delinquent dog owners will face a non-criminal citation which will become an additional $25 plus certified mailing costs.

    Whether renewing online, via mail, or in person, dog license applications must be accompanied by a current year rabies certificate (with a vaccination date covering the current licensing year) and proof of spay or neuter [if applying for the $10 licensing fee] unless the documentation is already on file in the Clerk’s Office.

   If you have any questions, please contact the Town Clerk’s office at 508-252-3502, ext. 3109 or 3110.


TOWN OF REHOBOTH REAL ESTATE PUBLIC AUCTION ON JUNE 8

(May 21, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth will conduct public auctions of four separate parcels of real estate acquired through tax possession on Wednesday, June 8.

   The first auction will be held at 10 AM at 21 First Street, an eight acre lot of land with considerable road frontage (Assessor’s Map/Lot: 3/16). The second auction will be held at 11 AM at 5 Brook Street, an improved property including two wood framed structures and one wood framed barn-style building situated on a 1.39 acre lot of land with road frontage (Assessor’s Map/Lot: 22/7).  The third auction will be held at 1 PM at 248 Winthrop Street (Route 44), an improved property including 3,518 square feet. The property was a former service shop/garage situated on a .32 acre lot (Assessor’s Map/Lot: 46/1). The fourth auction will also be held at 248 Winthrop Street for an unimproved 24.6 acre parcel of land located near and identified as Agricultural Avenue (Assessor’s Map/Lot: 68/22). 

   A $5,000 deposit by cash or bank cashier’s check is required to bid and is due at the auction for each property.  Balance of purchase price for each parcel purchased is due within 30 days of the date the high bid has been approved by the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen.

  Properties are to be sold “as is” & “with all faults”, but with real estate taxes prorated to date of closing.  A buyer’s premium of ten percent (10%) will apply and will be added to the high bid for each property sold; this total amount will represent the purchase price. Other terms and conditions will be announced at auction.  According to a town press release, “All information within this notice and published online is believed, but not guaranteed, to be correct.”


UPCOMING REHOBOTH ROAD CONSTRUCTION

(May 21, 2016) Residents are advised by the Rehoboth Highway Department of upcoming construction projects tentatively scheduled to being on Tuesday, May 31.

    Road resurfacing is planned for: Reynolds Avenue, Glebe Street, Wright Street, Brander Road,, Pine Grove Road, Winterberry Lane, Stagecoach Road, Indian Lane, First Street, Pleasant Street (from Pierce Lane to Davis Street) and Davis Street (from Pleasant Street to First Street).

   Please seek alternate routes or allow extra time when traveling the affected roadways. If you have any questions, please contact the Rehoboth Highway Department at 508-252-3912.


SELECTMEN ANNOUNCE THREE SUMMER PROJECTS

(May 17, 2016) With three major projects ahead, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen plan to keep a busy summer schedule of alternating regular BOS meetings at the senior center and “work session” meetings at the town office.

    The three projects include a comprehensive review of the highway department, a review of the “police department structure” and promoting the already planned new municipal complex building.

   The renamed “Municipal Complex Building Committee” has worked steadily for over two years coming up with a plan to renovate and expand the existing public safety building (police, fire ambulance) on Anawan Street to incorporate the town offices.  The exiting town office building on Peck Street is in dire shape, leaving employees working in unsafe environments. 

   A new municipal complex will benefit not only town employees, but give residents a one-stop shop for doing business such as obtaining permits and licenses instead of traveling from one building to another.

    “We need to release the plans right now,” said Selectmen Sue Pimental, “so people have a chance to ask questions right way.

   The selectmen’s first “working session”  to beging working on these summer projects is scheduled for Monday, June 13.


EMPTY BOS SEAT WILL REMAIN VACANT UNTIL NEXT SPRING ELECTION

(May 17, 2016) Rehoboth selectmen addressed the topic of filling the vacant fifth selectman’s seat board last night during their regular meeting.

   Selectmen Skip Vadnais (chair), Susan Pimental and Gerry Schwall voted to leave the seat vacant for the next eleven months until the annual spring election in April. Selectmen Dave Perry was not in attendance to vote.

    The fifth seat was left vacant on April 26 when Michael Costello submitted his immediate resignation citing work conflicts.

    “Four members can do the job,” said Pimental, “leave it vacant.”  She explained she was “never in favor of five” but understood why townspeople voted to expand the board by two seats during a highly political period of time.

   “I concur with Sue,” added Schwall.  “We have better use of the money than holding a special election.”  The town typically must spend around $7000 to conduct an election.  Based on recent election results, only a small percentage of registered voters participate in the process and come to vote.


REHOBOTH LAND TRUST MEMBERSHIP DRIVE

(May 16, 2016) The Rehoboth Land Trust (RLT) is currently conducting the non-profit organization’s annual membership drive with a goal of reaching 100 contributing members.

   Established in 1989, RLT has succeeded in permanently protecting open space, agricultural lands, and wildlife habitat in the town of Rehoboth.  Preserving land with significant ecological, agricultural and historic value continues to be a priority.

    To date, the organization has helped conserve over 230 acres for recreation, agriculture and national resources, working cooperatively with both municipal government and other conservation groups. RLT accepts land donations and assist land owners in developing conservation restrictions.

   Rural towns like Rehoboth benefit by preserving open space instead of
more residential construction. With each home dependent on a well and septic system, protecting the towns water is very important. 

   Residents and visitors enjoy using the trails at the Ephraim Hunt Ministerial Land on Pond Street, the Town Forest on Fairview Avenue, as well as the Mason Street Conservation area. To steward their properties, RLT partners with farmers, Boy Scouts, and takes advantage of the expertise and time of its devoted volunteer board of trustees.

    Studies have shown that “conservation returns from $4 to $10 for every dollar invested.”  The return comes in the form of recreational opportunities, flood control, protection of air and drinking water quality, wildlife habitat, and farming -- supporting tourism, agriculture, and fisheries. RTC continues to work with volunteers to provide access to other areas of open space.

   You can play a part in these important efforts to preserve the open space, agriculture and wildlife in Rehoboth by joining the RLT. Individual membership is $25; family membership is $50; and sustainer membership is $100.   Please make your check payable to Rehoboth Land Trust and mail to P O Box 335, Rehoboth, MA 02769.


STURDY HOSPITAL KEEPS SUBCONTRATOR BANNED BY MORTON

(May 14, 2016) Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro released a statement after nearby Morton Hospital in Taunton terminated state appointed behavioral health subcontractor NES/TAES (Norton Emergency Services and Taunton/Attleboro Emergency Services).

    “Sturdy Memorial Hospital does use and will continue to use Taunton Attleboro Emergency Services as our mental health consultative service for a subset of our emergency department population. They evaluate patients in conjunction with the attending emergency physician to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for the individual patient.”

    The behavioral health provider NES/TAES is subcontracted through MassHealth to provide 24/7 evaluation services and treatment recommendations for MassHealth patients who enter the emergency department.

    Sturdy and Morton are the closest hospitals serving residents of Rehoboth.  Sturdy is a financially independent, non-profit hospital and Morton belongs to the larger for-profit Steward Health Care System.


MORTON BANS BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SUBCONTRATOR NES/TAES

(May 12, 2016) As of today, Morton Hospital terminated the contract with state selected subcontractor NES/TAES (Norton Emergency Services and Taunton/Attleboro Emergency Services) from evaluating or recommending treatment for any patient. Personnel from NES/TAES have been banned from the Taunton facility, a member of the larger, for-profit Steward Health Care System.

      According to hospital spokesperson Michele Fasano, during the period between 12:30 to 8 AM this morning, NES/TAES failed to evaluate multiple patients in the emergency department in a timely manner.

       NES/TAES is subcontracted through MassHealth and is charged by law with the responsibility of evaluating MassHealth patients who enter the emergency department.

    “When Morton Hospital proposed to do the evaluations ourselves, we were rebuffed or ignored by the subcontractor,” explained Fasano.  “This inability of the state subcontractor to provide critical and timely services continues to put patients at risk.”

    Today, Morton Hospital informed the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) of their decision to unilaterally bar NES/TAES from evaluating patients at Morton Hospital.   

     “Effectively immediately, we will provide our own evaluation services conducted by licensed and credentialed members of our staff who are subject to peer review and direct oversight,” concluded Fasano.

    Morton Hospital has previously advocated against using a subcontractor to conduct behavioral health evaluations in the E.D.  Hospital administration will instead use their own vetted medical personnel to conduct such evaluations as it does with Blue Cross, Harvard Pilgrim, Tufts, and other payers. However, state policy has mandated that these evaluations be carried out by third party subcontractors.

    NES/TAES, an independent organization based in Norton, is not retained or compensated by Morton Hospital. NES/TAES is selected, overseen, and compensated by state agencies and offices. Some NES/TAES staff utilize state email and benefits and are considered state employees.


MORTON HOSPITAL ISSUES STATMENT ON THIRY PARTY EVALUATIONS

(May 12, 2016) Nearby Morton Hospital that serves the Rehoboth community has released a statement in the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly rampage in Taunton.

    Following discharge from Morton Hospital, Taunton resident Arthur DaRosa killed two people and injured five others before being shot and killed by off-duty Deputy Sheriff James Creed.

    “Morton Hospital extends our thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims. We also want to express our appreciation to law enforcement officers and to emergency medical personnel including those within Morton Hospital who delivered critical response services during these events to help prevent further loss of life or injury.”

    Under federal law, Morton Hospital is barred from acknowledging patient names or disclosing any form of confidential patient information. This law extends to patients whose evaluations and assessments are legally required to be led and conducted by third parties selected through MassHealth.

   Morton Hospital administration has for years advocated that the state review and revise its policies that require outside third party vendors to evaluate and determine the course of treatment for Medicaid patients in emergency departments.

   The hospital stated there were psych beds available within the hospital’s network (Steward) “if the state contracted agency responsible for conducting evaluations in the Emergency Department” had requested one for DeRosa on that fateful day.

   “As we have said in the past, the current policy mandating that the evaluation process must be carried out by a third party state contractor is misguided.”

    DeRosa’s family member say the 28-year-old was mentally ill and sought help in the emergency room at Morton, but was released only hours before going on his rampage.

    According to hospital administration, these assessments should be performed independently “through qualified psychiatrists, clinicians, and other medical personnel who have been subject to the hospital credentialing process, peer review process, and the policies that guide the care of every other patient – and not through an outside state contracted vendor who we do not choose.”

    Under federal law, Morton Hospital is barred from acknowledging patient names or disclosing any form of confidential patient information. This law extends to patients whose evaluations and assessments are legally required to be led and conducted by third parties selected through MassHealth.


REPRESENTATIVE HOWITT SUPPORTS SOLAR ENERGY COMPROMISE

(May 11, 2016) State Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) has endorsed a proposal to promote more solar energy generating projects in Massachusetts by raising the state’s net metering cap. 

   House Bill 4173, An Act relative to solar energy, passed the House on a vote of 154-1, reflecting a compromise between two differing net metering proposals that were previously approved by the House and Senate.

   “I’m proud to support this bill, which not only encourages the expansion of solar energy in Massachusetts, but also implements a number of cost-saving measures to protect ratepayers,” said Howitt who represents Rehoboth in the 4th Bristol District.

   Under the conference committee proposal, the state’s net metering caps will be raised by 3 percent of the utilities’ peak load for both public and private projects.  Private net metering caps will increase from 4 percent to 7 percent, while public net metering caps will increase from 5 percent to 8 percent.

    Massachusetts currently provides financial incentives to solar power generators by allowing businesses and municipalities to sell excess solar energy they generate but don’t use back to the grid at retail rates, which currently average about 21 cents per kilowatt hour.  The conference committee proposal calls for moving to a new “market net metering credit” equal to 60 percent of the full retail rate for all projects – or about 12 cents per kilowatt hour – but includes a carve-out so that residential, small commercial, and solar facilities owned by municipalities and government entities will continue to receive the full retail rate.

   The bill grandfathers in existing solar facilities that were previously approved by the Department of Energy Resources to receive solar renewable energy credits (SRECs).  These facilities will continue to receive credits at the higher retail rate for 25 years before transitioning to the new rate.

   House Bill 4173 also allows utility companies to offset the costs of maintaining their infrastructure by submitting proposals to the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to establish a monthly minimum reliability contribution for customers who receive net metering credits. This will ensure that all ratepayers using the distribution system are helping to pay for the maintenance, reliability and safety of the electric grid.

   When reviewing these proposals, DPU must take steps to ensure that they allocate fixed costs equitably, do not excessively burden ratepayers, do not inhibit solar development, and are used to offset the costs of maintaining the electric grid.  DPU is also authorized to exempt or modify the minimum contribution for low income ratepayers and to adjust the minimum contribution in the future.

   As a further incentive for ratepayer savings, the bill also includes provisions requiring the Department of Energy Resources to adopt rules and regulations that will lower the cost to ratepayers of solar incentive programs. These incentive programs must encourage the continued development of solar renewable energy generating sources by residential, commercial, governmental, low-income, and industrial electricity customers.


E. OTIS DYER, SR. HONORED AT TOWN MEETING

(May 10, 2016) Rehoboth resident E. Otis Dyer, Sr. was recognized last night at the spring annual town meeting for fifty years of service to the town.

    Selectman Gerry Schwall presented Dyer with the award and noted Dyer’s years of service on the historical commission, planning board, zoning board, gravel committee, water commission and other municipal committees as well as civic organizations. Dyer joked his favorite accomplishment was assisting local history re-enactors, the Rehoboth Minute Company. “How many town buy muskets for their militia?” 

    Representative Steven Howitt was also on hand to present Dyer with a declaration from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The audience at town meeting approved of Dyer’s recognitions and offered rousing applause when BOS Chairman Skip Vadnais nominated Dyer to a new municipal position as official town historian.


CITIZENS DECIDE MUNICIPAL BUDGET AT SPRING TOWN MEETING

(May 10, 2016) The spring town meeting, held last night in the auditorium at Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School, concluded in less than two and a half hours with 173 voters participating to pass the FY17 town budget.

    The special town meeting portion of the meeting progressed quickly with five of six articles approved including amendments to the FY16 budget and funds to purchase items on the FY16 Capital Improvement plan.  The fire department will now be able to replace equipment and purchase a replacement vehicle for the fire chief.  The police department will be able to purchase two new cruisers. The senior center will benefit from a replacement boiler and self-contained diesel generator.

      The warrant article related to a new municipal government complex was referred for further study and moved to the fall town meeting. Selectmen Gerry Schwall explained the critical need of town employees to have safe, decent places to work.  “Our buildings are in such disrepair that ceilings are collapsing on desks,” he emphasized.  A committee has been working on a plan to renovate and enlarge the existing public safety building that houses police, fire and ambulance to include town offices.

    “This is no Taj Mahal,” said Schwall, “but it will be very functional.” He said the selectmen will take the next six months to hold public hearings to educate residents on the entire plan and how it will be funded. “We will justify every penny and address all needs,” he concluded.

    All other warrant articles and reports were approved. The actual warrant remains available on the town website, along with the 2015 Town Annual Report.


REP. HOWITT SUPPORTS MORE AID TO COMMUNITIES

(May 9, 2016) In an effort to enhance local aid for communities in the 4th Bristol District, State Representative Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) last week supported a proposal to return a portion of any surplus state revenue in the upcoming fiscal year to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns.

      The proposal, offered by House Republican Leadership as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget currently being debated by the House of Representatives, received the unanimous support of the House Republican Caucus but was defeated on a roll call vote of 37-121 on April 25.

    “Communities across the Commonwealth are struggling to deliver essential municipal services,” said Representative Howitt.  “Although the proposed House budget calls for significant increases in local aid funding in Fiscal Year 2017, this amendment would have gone even further in helping to reduce the financial pressures our cities and towns are currently facing.”

    With the exception of tax collections received during the Great Recession, actual state tax receipts have historically been higher than the consensus revenue estimate.  In recent years, excess revenues have averaged $730 million, representing growth of almost 4 percent over original projections.

   The Fiscal Year 2017 budget is being formulated based on an assumption that state tax revenues will total $26.86 billion in the new fiscal year that begins on July 1.  This represents an increase of $1.1 billion – or 4.3 percent – over current revenue projections for Fiscal Year 2016, which ends June 30.

   If actual Fiscal Year 2017 revenues were to surpass projections, Representative Howitt noted, the amendment would have required 50 percent of the excess revenue – up to $100 million – to be made available as additional local aid to cities and towns.  The proposal also stipulated that this surplus revenue be allocated on a proportional basis using the distribution formula for unrestricted general government aid, which can be used by municipalities to fund a wide variety of local needs.

   Representative Steven Howitt also joined with his House colleagues to support the creation of a task force to review all unfunded mandates the state currently imposes on public schools.

    “The number of mandates handed down by the state has been mushrooming, and we need to get a handle on this problem to minimize the financial burden for our cities and towns,” said Representative Howitt.  “Teachers should not have to spend hours filling out paperwork when their time could be better spent preparing lessons for their students.”

    Between 1995 and 2008, DESE added 4,055 new documents and directives for educators and administrators.  DESE added an additional 5,382 documents between 2009 and 2013, an average of about 3 or 4 new directives per day.

   “The sheer number of unfunded mandates stifles innovation and reduces local control, and we need to curtail this practice,” said Representative Howitt.  “The recommendations of the Task Force would be a welcome relief for the educators and administrators of our school districts.”

    The Educational Mandate Task Force will be charged with reviewing all state laws, regulations and directives that impose requirements on school districts, including mandates that require preparing and submitting reports and data to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).  In addition to identifying the total estimated costs associated with these mandates, the task force will also be asked to develop recommendations for streamlining, consolidating or eliminating any mandates or reporting requirements that are outdated, duplicative or unnecessary.


REHOBOTH POLICE ISSUE INFO ON DEATH OF FIRE VICTIM

(May 5, 2016) Yesterday, the Rehoboth Police Department reported, on their Facebook page, the recent death of Allyson Smith Chemelowski who was severely burned in a home fire last January.  She had served the town as a dispatcher for public safety (police, fire, ambulance) for many year, as well as serving on town committees as a volunteer.  Obituary published on May 8.

    

REHOBOTH SELECTMEN ADDRESS MULTIPLE RUMORS

(May 3, 2016) During last night’s regular meeting at the senior center, Rehoboth selectmen addressed several rumors related to a variety of issues including the proposed construction of a 10,320 hp gas compressor station on property in Rehoboth.

    Representative Steven Howitt was also on hand to address rumors and brought Jon Bonsall, an attorney and registered lobbyist in Massachusetts, who works for Spectra Energy and its subsidiary Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC.  Both Howitt and Bonsall have been working with town officials to answer questions about the proposed construction of the compressor station, one that would be situated within a 12-acre parcel of land.

    According to Bonsall, the building itself would be similar in size to the town’s senior center, but two stories in height.  The building would be buffered by woods with a secure parameter and close in proximity to existing gas pipelines in town. There will be a “minimal amount of pipeline connections at that specific site,” said Bonsall, who emphasized the interstate program is under the sole authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Local zoning regulations or town bylaws do not apply, and local officials have no authority.

    Selectmen asked Bonsall about public safety related to the gas pipelines and proposed compressor station. “Would fire and police need any extra training,” inquired Selectman Gerry Schwall. 

    Bonsall replied, “You already have gas pipelines through Rehoboth” and public safety personnel are already trained in best practices.  In the case of an emergency at the compressor station, “the gas lines would immediately be shut off,” Bonsall noted, with local fire and police would secure a parameter around the 12-acre property.

   The MA Department of Public Utilities will be tasked with reviewing the contractual  agreements among the various entities related to the project.  A public hearing is set for May 23 in Boston.  Bonsall noted there will be at least two more years of permitting to be done before constructions begins.

   Opponents to the proposed station, a group called BC (Bristol County) Cares, is vigorously against the Algonquin pipeline projects and will offer a public information session at DRRHS on Tuesday, May 17 in the auditorium beginning at 7 PM.

   Last night selectmen also addressed rumors related to the reconstruction of the intersection of routes 44 and 118. “No, the Grange building is not getting torn down,” said BOS Chair Skip Vadnais.  The Department of Transportation must submit a design concept as the first step of the process. Vadnais said the design has not been done yet.

   The DOT, however, will soon begin road patching on Route 44  from East Providence to Taunton. This will undoubtedly create altered traffic patterns, so drivers should anticipate slow downs on Route 44.

   Selectmen also addressed the recent vacancy of the fifth selectman’s seat upon the sudden resignation of Mike Costello. According to Vadnais, the BOS will address the vacancy at some point following the spring town meeting.

    Town bylaw (Section 1A) states that “elected officials shall serve until their successors are appointed, elected, or qualified.”  There is no bylaw specifically related to a procedure for filling a vacancy on the five-member board of selectmen.


BOS AND FINCOM SET TO EXPLAIN BUDGET ISSUES TONIGHT 

(April 28, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen and the town’s finance committee are scheduled to conduct a “pre-town meeting” meeting to be broadcast live tonight on RehobothTV Channel 9 beginning at 7 PM  from the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.  The public is invited to attend and participate.

    Topics of discussion will be the FY17 budget and articles on the warrant for both the special town meeting and annual town meeting to be held on Monday, May 9 in the high school auditorium starting at 7 PM.

    Residents received a paper version of the warrant in their mailboxes last Saturday. By Monday night, selectmen discussed tabling, at town meeting, the debt exclusion article in the warrant to “fund the construction of a new Municipal Government Complex” to house the town offices, police, fire, ambulance and REMA (Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency). If the article is tabled at the upcoming meeting, there will be no subsequent debt exclusion referendum at a special town election.

    The FY17 budget, if approved at town meeting, will provide funds to hire a new highway department superintendent with a recommended salary of $70K along with increasing the salary of the Veterans Services Officer (currently a part-time position), and increasing the hours of the town accountant to full-time.

    For the past three years, the town’s portion of the regional school budget has been loudly and widely argued before, during and after spring town meeting. This year, the finance committee recommends approving a 8.49% increase in regional school budget for next year which is $2.5 million above the town’s state-mandated minimum requirement, as well as almost $400K for Rehoboth’s portion of the school district’s capital assessment. FinCom recommends  appropriating $16 million to fund those assessments.

    Selectmen say funds to cover the increased school budget must be allocated from “free-cash” to bridge the gap in the overall town budget “to avoid further reductions to town services.”  They do warn, however, the town will still face “very significant reductions to services” including public safety, highway and infrastructure maintenance.

    The meeting tonight will be recorded for viewing on Comcast cable access Channel 9 or on demand at RehobothTV.org


REHOBOTH POLICE OFFER SAFE MEDICATION DISPOSAL

(April 26, 2016) The Rehoboth Police Department was recently awarded a grant from CVS/pharmacy to combat drug abuse by installing a medication drug collection unit at the police station.

     In conjunction with The Partnership at Drugfree.org, CVS initiated this innovative program with local police departments to help rid communities of unwanted medications that could be abused, sold illegally, or disposed improperly.

    The new, locked collection unit will provide a safe and environmentally responsible way to dispose of unwanted or expired medication, including controlled substances. The unit is located inside the police station lobby at 334 Anawan Street and can be used 24/7.  Drugs can be dropped off with no questions asked.   


SELECTMAN MIKE COSTELLO’S SURPISE RESIGNATION

(April 26, 2016) In a surprise announcement made last night at the end of regular session, Rehoboth Selectmen Michael Costello announced his immediate resignation, effective today.

   Costello has served as selectman for the past five years and will leave an empty fifth seat on the BOS.  His current term has one year remaining. He cited conflicts with his work schedule, one that requires him to be out of town, as the reason for his sudden departure.

   “It is sad for me to do this,” he said, “I love this town very much; always have, always will.”   He explained, “If I can’t put enough time in, that’s not fair to the residents.”

    He thanked his fellow selectmen, with a separate nod to Helen Dennen, acting town administrator for “helping me over the past five years.”  Costello also thanked his wife for “putting up with all the meetings.”

    BOS Chairman Skip Vadnais thanked Costello for “courageously” standing up for election in 2011 and for years of service on various town committees including the planning board.  Selectman Susan Pimental thanked Costello for “stepping in” and putting up with “a lot of crap” during his tenure.  Fellow Selectmen Gerry Schwall and Dave Perry thanked him for his years of service to the town.

    Costello’s tenure with the BOS was not without controversy.  Less than a month after first being elected in April 2011, he was the subject of a report issued by the State Inspector General. The report, send to the BOS and Zoning Board of Appeals with recommendations, determined Costello abused the state’s affordable housing law through “false/misleading statements and associated actions” to purchase a below-market rate house in Horton Estates, a senior housing development, after winning a town housing lottery.

    Subsequently Costello was the subject of criticism and harassment by both town officials and private citizens, leading to several lawsuits. Costello quickly dismissed the report as having “nothing to do with” his ability to lead as selectman, and that he was a victim of personal agendas and politics.

    He alleged town officials were behind filing a complaint with the Inspector General, including a zoning board member who was also director of the Rehoboth Public Access Corporation.  The RePAC contract with the town to provide community public access TV was terminated several months later. The town continues to have ongoing litigation with RePAC related lawsuits, having accumulated over $281K in legal expenses as of February 2016.

   At last night BOS meeting, Chairman Vadnais asked Costello if he would assist at the upcoming town meeting on May 9 since he was so familiar with the proposed budget and items on the town warrant.  Costello said he was unsure if he would be in town to attend the meeting.


SEEKONK DRIVER CRASHES INTO REHOBOTH BUSINESS

(April 25, 2016) A Seekonk man faces vehicle charges after crashing his Ford Expedition into a Rehoboth business yesterday afternoon.

    The two employees and two customers at the Silver Willow shop on Fall River Avenue in Rehoboth were uninjured in the crash, but the front of the building sustained significant damage.

    Rehoboth police arrived on the accident scene mid-afternoon and determined Michael Burrus, age 55, was traveling east on Fall River Avenue when he suddenly swerved to the left across the two westbound lines, and first struck another vehicle, a 2005 Infinity, stopped at a stop sign at the intersection of Barney Avenue.

   The force of the collision pushed the Infinity across Barney Avenue and into a truck parked in a driveway. The Expedition, meanwhile, continued across a small parking area and then crashed into the store.

     Burrus was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a revoked license (subsequent offense), operating a motor vehicle so as to endanger, and marked lane violations.

    The crash is currently under investigation.  Rehoboth Police were assisted at the scene by the Rehoboth Fire Department, Rehoboth Ambulance, and the Rehoboth Building Inspector.


LEGAL NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING REGARDING PROPOSED LNG PROJECTS

(April 22, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth has issued a legal notice of upcoming public hearings related to proposed construction of new natural gas pipelines and related facilities by Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC, in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  A 10,320 hp compressor station is planned for a location in Rehoboth.

    The meetings will be held on Monday, May 2 at 7 PM in the auditorium of Grafton High School, 24 Providence Road in Grafton, MA. Another meeting will be held on Monday, May 9 at 7 PM in the auditorium of Walpole High School, 275 Common Street in Walpole, MA.

    The project is currently being reviewed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) in what is called the Pre-Filing Process. FERC will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The EIS will be used by FERC to consider the environmental impacts that could result if it approves the Project. FERC is required to review and recommend measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate such impacts.

   The Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (“Siting Board”) participates in FERC proceedings involving natural gas pipelines in order to represent the interests of the Commonwealth and its residents. The Siting Board will hold four public hearings to hear directly from residents, officials, and other interested persons about their concerns relating to the Project.

    The Siting Board also seeks written comments concerning the proposed Project. Comments should be sent by email to BOTH robert.j.shea@state.ma.us and dpu.efiling@state.ma.us or by U.S. mail to: Energy Facilities Siting Board, One South Station, Boston, Massachusetts 02110, Attention: Robert Shea, Presiding Officer. The comments should be sent to the Siting Board by May 20, 2016. The Siting Board will use the comments it receives, whether oral or written, in drafting a comment letter on the Project to FERC. If you have any questions, please contact Robert Shea at the e-mail or physical address above.

    Additional information about the Project is available on the FERC website. Click on the eLibrary link, click on “General Search” and enter the FERC docket number “PF16-1.” For assistance, please contact FERC Online Support at ferconlinesupport@ferc.gov or call FERC at 1-866-208-3676. Full public hearing information can be found on the town website.



ALL 2016 NEW STORIES CAN BE FOUND ON ARCHIVED NEWS 2016




 

FRANCELINA VEADER PRESENTED WITH

REHOBOTH BOSTON POST CANE 

(July 27, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth and the Rehoboth Senior Citizens Club presented the town’s oldest resident, Francelina Veader, age 102, with the ceremonial Boston Post Cane at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center on Monday at lunchtime.

    Nearly 125 people attended the ceremony including state and local officials and were served a delicious lunch at the center’s Monday lunch at Gert’s Cafe.

    Veader was showered with recognition on her special day. Representative Steven Howitt presented Veader with a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. Another citation was presented by Leslie Duclos from Congressman Joe Kennedy’s office. Rehoboth resident Paul Jacques, running against Howitt to represent the Fourth Bristol District also attended.

    The replica Boston Post Cane was presented to the guest of honor by Selectman Gerry Schwall and Town Clerk Laura Schwall pinned a keepsake lapel pin on Veader and presented her with pink roses.

    Other dignitaries included Selectman Susan Pimental and Selectman Dave Perry, along with Lorraine Botts, President of the Rehoboth Senior Citizens Club, and Senior Center Director Linda Sherman who helping organize the event.

    Scroll down the page for the saga of the missing Boston Post Cane, how it was found and how the tradition will be preserved for future generations.  The Taunton Gazette published an article on the ceremony.

Rehoboth’s oldest resident Francelina Veader with Rep. Steve Howitt (top) and Rehoboth resident Paul Jacques, running against Howitt for the 4th Bristol District.

REHOBOTH FIRE DEPARTMENT OFFERS STRAIGHT TALK, MAKES PERSAUSIVE APPEAL FOR NEW MUNICIPAL COMPLEX

(August 31, 2016) The Rehoboth Fire Department has released an appeal to the community on their website to inform residents of the critical condition of the town’s public safety building, and the dire need for a new building.

    The town’s existing public safety building, over 50-years-old, houses the RFD headquarters, Fire Station 1, the Rehoboth Police Department, Rehoboth Ambulance and EMS services, and also REMA (Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency).

    Residents are encouraged to learn about the current conditions, both inside and outside, presented in plain, straight forward language with illustrative photos and captions.

    The current public safety building “is on the critical list” and the fire department outgrew their space long ago.  Now, the lack of proper working conditions, has become “counter productive” to the mission. 

    Fire Chief Frank Barresi serves on the town’s Public Safety Building Needs Assessment Committee. The committee has spent the last three years coming up with a cost-effective solution -- a single, conveniently located municipal complex on the site of the existing building on Anawan Street.  The new building will also house the town offices, currently located in an over 70-year-old cinder block building off Peck Street.

   “Our firefighters protect the lives and property of Rehoboth citizens along with all those who visit our town,” said Barresi. “Over the last twenty years, with an ever-growing population, the RFD mission has changed dramatically.  Existing conditions make is extremely difficult and we have reached a point of no return.” 

    To read the fire department’s appeal to citizens and learn more about the situation, visit RehobothFD.com.


WOMAN ATTACKED AND BITTEN BY RACCOON

(August 30, 2016) After her vehicle broke down on Davis Street in Rehoboth last week,  a women was attacked and bitten by a raccoon that later escaped into the woods.

    Interim Animal Control Officer Rob Johnson reported the incident to selectmen last night at their regular Monday night meeting. Johnson related that a tow truck driver, responding to the scene, was surprised to discover a raccoon under the vehicle. The animal ran out and attacked the woman by climbing up her leg and then bitting her. It then escaped into the woods. Because the raccoon was not captured, the bite victim must be treated for rabies.

   Johnson cautioned residents to be aware of wild animals behaving strangely, use caution, and call Animal Control immediately at 508-252-5421, ext. 3126. 

    Johnson also briefed selectmen about a new state law that allows passersby to break a car window to rescue an animal trapped in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold.  Anyone who breaks a car window MUST remain on scene until first responders arrive. If you see an animal trapped in a locked car, call Rehoboth Animal Control at 508-252-5421, ext. 3126, break the window in dire circumstances, and wait until first responders arrive. 

    Another new state law on the books involves tethered dogs. Rehoboth dog owners should be aware there has been a change in state law on tethered (chained) dogs. The previous law allowed dogs to be chained outdoors 24 hours per day. The new law reduces tethered time to a total of five hours during a 24-hour period. The animal must be provided with food, water and shelter during those hours. Residents should Johnson to report dogs that seem to be permanently chained outdoors. Call Rehoboth Animal Control at 508-252-5421, ext. 3126. 


REHOBOTH VITAL TOWN RECORDS

FACE EMERGENCY RESCUE

(August 30, 2016) Rehoboth selectmen authorized Town Clerk Laura Schwall to begin an emergency rescue of the town records including books, logs, and maps housed in a vault at the town office.

     “We caught it early,” said Schwall, describing the near catastrophe of losing the the towns records and history. 

     Despite the vital record vault having constantly running dehumidifiers, mold developed due in part to problems with roof leaks throughout the building. The cement vault at the town office is not ideal for historic records. Modern records vaults are constructed with other materials, such as ceramic modules, the same material used in heat shields on spacecraft. 

   Saving the priceless documents will require cleaning every single object in the room, and the entire room itself, with a solution of 50 percent Lysol and 50 percent water.  Additionally mold experts must initiate a process intended to prevent another mold attack.

   Schwall told selectmen she has already consulted with archive experts from the Carpenter Museum and Blanding Library for their advice and assistance.  “We cannot do this in-house,” noted Schwall, who was instructed by selectmen to consider this an emergency and get quotes from professional cleaners and conservators.

    In the proposed new municipal complex, the town’s vital records vault will be constructed as a modern, airtight room, located in a logical place adjacent to the town clerk’s office.

     


PAST MEMBER OF SCHOOL COM APPOINTED TO VACANT SEAT

(August 30, 2016) Rehoboth selectmen and local representatives of the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee voted to appoint Richard Barrett to fill a vacant seat on the committee.

    Barrett previously served on the school committee as an elected member for several terms. There are five Rehoboth representatives on the regional school committee.

   The four selectmen and four school com members received talent bank forms from several people who volunteered to fill the temporary seat through spring election.  Barrett was voted unanimously in a roll call vote because of his experience and his ability to “hit the ground running.”

  

CANDIDATES FOR STATE REP OFFER RECORDS AND ENDORSEMENTS

(August 29, 2016) The two candidates for State Representative of the 4th Bristol District that includes Rehoboth have released information to support their campaigns.

   Incumbent Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk) received congratulations from House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. for maintaining a perfect voting record throughout the 2015-2016 legislative session. 

   Rehoboth resident Paul Jacques, running against Howitt, recently received the endorsement of Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III at the Venus De Milo in Swansea surrounded by supporters from across the district.   

   Rep. Howitt received recent congratulations from House Minority Leader Bradley Jones, Jr. for maintaining a perfect voting r
ecord throughout the 2015-2016 legislative session.

   Howitt participated in all 559 roll call votes cast in the House of Representatives between January of 2015 and July of 2016, achieving a 100% voting record.  Howitt currently serves on the Committees on Joint Committee on Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure, Joint Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development, Joint Committee on Transportation.

   Representative Howitt voted this session on legislation to help municipalities like Rehoboth, including the HOME Act to help modernize municipal finances and operations.  He helped pass an $800 million municipal road and bridge bill to help cities and towns address critical infrastructure needs.

    “I voted in support of significant local aid increases for the benefit of the families, neighbors and hard-working citizens of this community,” said Howitt.  “Over the last two years, Chapter 70 education aid has increased by $227.3 million, bringing the statewide total to a record $4.6 billion. Over the same time period, Unrestricted General Government Aid – which helps communities pay for a variety of essential municipal programs – was increased by $76.1 million, to a total of $1.02 billion.”

    Howitt also voted for an historic pay equity law designed to prevent gender-based wage discrimination, and legislation reforming the state’s public records law for the first time in over 40 years. He supported the “Stolen Valor Act” to prosecute individuals who falsely claim to be a veteran; and voted to expand procurement of offshore wind power and hydroelectric power.


    Jacques, who is running to take Howitt’s long time seat as state rep for Rehoboth, Norton, Seekonk and Swansea, is a Attleboro firefighter. He is also a 21-year military veteran with the National Guard who served two tours in Iraq, as well as numerous deployments around the world.   

   “I’ve known Paul Jacques for years,” said Congressman Kennedy.  “I know the kind of person he is and have witnessed his hard work and dedication. Paul’s life has been about service to his country and community.  From two tours in Iraq, to his work as a firefighter and now seeking public office, Paul is exactly the type of person we should elect for the 4th Bristol District. I am proud to stand with him and endorse his candidacy for State Representative.”


REHOBOTH BOS TO APPOINT HIGHWAY ADVISORY COMMITTEE

(August 29, 2016) Appointing the town’s first Highway Advisory Committee is on the agenda for the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen tonight at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center beginning at 7 PM.

   The creation on this new municipal committee comes the day before the application submission deadline for the position of Highway Superintendent, a position approved by townspeople at the spring town meeting in May.

   Also on tonight’s agenda is a discussion of how Rehoboth will fill a vacant seat on the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee. The BOS, in conjunction with Rehoboth members of the school committee, have authority to make the temporary appointment to replace long time school com member Tiffany Bartholomew who recently moved out of the area.

    Selectmen solicited applications, in the form of talent bank forms, from Rehoboth citizens interested in filling the school com seat through next spring.


TOWN OFFERS SENIOR PROPERTY TAX WORK-OFF PROGRAM

(August 26, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth, with assistance from the Council on Aging, will open enrollment on September 15 for a new “Senior Property Tax Work-off Program.

    Qualified senior citizens who are town residents have an opportunity to work in various town departments in exchange for a reduction of up to $500 in their property tax bills per household.  The rate of pay is $9 per hour with no additional benefits.  Earnings are also subject to withholding for federal income tax.

    Applications and requirements to participate will be available at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center beginning Thursday, September 15.  Open enrollment will continue through November 1.  Program participation will be limited during the first trial year of the new program.  If more than ten seniors apply, a lottery system will be used to select participants.


SELECTMEN ACCEPT THE RESIGNATION OF ANIMAL SHELTER VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR, SEEK APPLICANTS FOR OPEN UNPAID POSITION

(August 24, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen, at their regular meeting on Monday night, accepted the resignation of Pamela DiRenzo as Animal Shelter Volunteer Coordinator.

   DiRenzo, who was appointed in the spring, gave personal health issues as her reason for leaving. The unpaid, 15-hour per week position is now vacant and selectmen are accepting applications to also be reviewed by the interim animal control officer and the town’s animal advisory committee.

   The flexible hour position includes managing shelter volunteers as a “coach, resource, and advocate” as well as handling shelter animals not under quarantine or other restricted-handling protocol.  Qualifications include experience handling animals in a shelter-like setting, computer skills, communication and people skills.

    The complete job description is available on the Town of Rehoboth website.  Applicants should submit a cover letter and resume to the BOS office.

    

TWO VACANT SEATS ON TOWN PERSONNEL BOARD, INTERESTED RESIDENTS

URGED TO APPLY FOR APPOINTMENT

(August 19, 2016) Rehoboth residents interested in getting involved in municipal government may apply for vacant seats on the Rehoboth Personnel Board that oversees issues involving town employees. 

    There are two seats currently available on the board.  Those interested can complete a talent bank form and submit it to the BOS at the town office. Click here to access a Talent Bank Form on the town website. 

    If you have questions about the personnel board, please contact the chairman, David Scanlon, at 508-455-7482.


OPEN SEAT ON SCHOOL COMMITTEE, APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED BY AUGUST 25

(August 17, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will accept talent bank applications to fill a vacant seat on the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee through 12 noon on Thursday, August 25.

    The regional district school agreement allows the BOS, along with elected Rehoboth members on the school committee, to make the appointment on August 29.

    Those interested in applying for the position, September 2016 through April 2017, may click here to access a Talent Bank Form on the town website. 


REHOBOTH POLICE OFFER FREE CAR SEAT INSPECTION AND INSTALLATION

(August 15, 2016) The Rehoboth Police Department, along with Safe Kids Worldwide, will offer free child car seat inspections and installations on Saturday, August 20 from 9 AM to 1 PM at the Highway Department on Anawan Street across from police/fire headquarters.

    Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death nationwide for children ages 3 to 14 years. AAA estimates that 75% of child passenger safety equipment is installed incorrectly.  Trained and certified technicians will inspect your child’s car seat including checking on proper installation, size requirements and product recalls. They can also answer your questions on child safety equipment. There are a limited number of free seats available to those in financial need.

    The RPD was awarded a Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Equipment Grant to offer the inspection event and distribute free seats to parents and caregivers in need.  Rehoboth is one of 150 free car seat inspection sites in Massachusetts.

   For those who can’t make the August 20 event, call the RPD at 508-252-3722 and make an appointment with Officer Craig Warish for another day.


RESIGNATION RESULTS IN OPEN SEAT ON SCHOOL COMMITTEE

(August 11, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth received formal notice of the resignation of Tiffany Bartholomew from the elected position as a Rehoboth member of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee.

    A brief resignation letter from Bartholomew, with a home address listed in Newburyport, MA, was received by the town clerk on Tuesday, August 9, effective immediately.

   “I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to serve the students of DRRSD and I wish the town and the district continued success in the coming years,” wrote Bartholomew. According to an email sent the school committee and town clerk, Bartholomew said her family had relocated to northern Massachusetts.  Her term on the school committee was effective through April 3, 2017.

    Under the school district agreement, if a vacancy occurs, the Rehoboth Selectmen and remaining Rehoboth members of the school committee “shall within thirty days appoint a member to serve until the next elections, at which time a successor shall be elected to serve for the balance of the unexpired term, if any.”

    The scheduled August 9 school committee was cancelled due to lack of quorum.  The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, August 16 at 6:30 in the DRRHS Media Center.


PLANNING BOARD TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED AMENDMENT

TO NEW TOWN BYLAW ON SIGNS PLACING RESTRICTIONS

(August 11, 2016) The Rehoboth Planning Board has issued a legal notice in accordance with state law to inform the public of a hearing to be held on Wednesday, August 17 at 7:15 PM at the town office on Peck Street.

    The subject of the hearing is to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on a proposed amendment placing restrictions and limitations on signs including those for businesses, events and on private residential property.  Click here to read complete proposed amended bylaw

    According to the legal notice, the “complete text for the proposed amendment” is available by going in person to the Office of the Planning Board at 148 Peck Street on Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM, and on Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon. 

    Those interested in making a comment about the proposed bylaw change should attend the August 17 meeting according to the notice signed by Planning Board Chairman James Muri.

    The Planning Board also includes members Robert Moitozo, Christopher Copper, Edward Bertozzi, William Costa, Jr., Tomas Ennis, and Stephen Brooks, Jr.


NATIONAL GRID TO CONDUCT SUMMER AERIAL INSPECTIONS OVER REHOBOTH

(August 11, 2016) The Town of Rehoboth was informed of National Grid summer aerial inspections over the next three weeks with helicopter flyovers to identify any potential problems in the transmission lines.

    National Grid transmission line crews will be dispatched to address any issues discovered during the inspections before they impact service for customers. The semi-annual aerial patrols complement ground-level inspections by quickly and efficiently covering National Grid’s transmission system, especially across rugged and isolated terrain.

   “Regular inspections of our transmission system are a critical component in providing safe and reliable power to our more than 1.7 million electricity customers across New England,” said Fred Raymond, vice president, Electric Project Management and Complex Construction, National Grid. “Transmission lines can be damaged by severe weather, such as thunderstorms, making now an ideal time to have an up-close look and make sure customers have the reliable service they deserve and expect from us.”

The helicopter inspections are conducted by experienced personnel using high-power gyroscopic binoculars. They are particularly interested in any signs of wear on power lines conductors and lightning protection devices; damaged or leaning transmission structures; loose or broken guy wires; broken, chipped or cracked insulator equipment; and trees leaning toward the lines or into the transmission corridors.


TOWN OFFICIALS WANT RESIDENTS TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE PROPOSED NEW MUNICIPAL COMPLEX TO BE VOTED ON NEXT YEAR

(August 9, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen, along with other town officials, want residents to know the reality of the town’s existing municipal buildings and see plans for a new complex to house town offices, police, fire and EMS services on Anawan Street.

     Residents can have all their questions answered on Wednesday, September 14 from 5 to 7 PM at the senior center and then on the next Wednesday night, attend an open house and tour both the town office at Peck Street and the public safety building on Anawan Street.  They will repeat the info session on Wednesday, October 12 from 5 to 7 PM at the senior center followed by the open house/tour of both buildings on Wednesday, October 19.

    For the past three years, the town’s Public Safety Building Space Needs Assessment Committee has worked on a plan to present to citizens for approval at next spring’s town election.  The committee consists of Police Chief James Trombetta, Fire Chief Frank Barresi, Health Agent Bob Ashton, REMA Director Bill Maiorano, John Santos, and Rehoboth Ambulance Chairman Scott Meagher. 

    Committee member have interviewed town employees at both the town offices and public safety building, along with municipal department heads, and people who use or visit those building.

    According to police, fire and EMS services in the over 50-year-old public safety building, there is absolutely no room for anything else.  This is a problem which will lead to the town potentially facing citations and fines from the state on space and health requirements.  The town employees work in an equally old, cement cinder-block building constructed as military offices for the Nike site and housing that was once on the property.  Multiple departments are squeezed into small offices.  Ceilings leak and the building is difficult to heat during the winter and hard to keep reasonably cool in the summer months.  Town employees also face invading insects, rodents and even snakes.

    A floor plan for the new complex has been developed with a design that fulfills needs and fits the rural character of the town. Currently, the floor plans are available to view at the town office, senior center, and Blanding Library.


ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER STORY TRENDS ON LOCAL SOCIAL MEDIA

(August 5, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen’s decision to not renew the appointment of long-term Animal Control Officer Jane Foster, and to appoint an interim ACO on August 2 has become a trending topic on local social media with dozens of comments and ongoing discussion threads.

    Most comments applaud Foster’s years of service to the town while other question the BOS decision, calling it abrupt and unfair.  Others suggest appealing to selectmen to reconsider their decision. 

    Over the last couple years, the town has made incremental steps to change the ACO position. The first step was significant, putting the previously autonomous ACO under the direct supervision of the Rehoboth Chief of Police in early April 2014.

    At the time, Selectman Skip Vadnais said, “this is the beginning of a long process” to update the town’s animal welfare services. Foster told selectman she had no problem with putting her paid town employee job under the supervision of the police department.  Selectman Dave Perry told Foster, “this is not a reflection on your performance, this is about compliance with state bureaucracy.”

   Following multiple on-site inspections in early 2014, the state found the Rehoboth Animal Shelter and control function to be deficient in several areas. In addition several specific animal welfare issues had put before the BOS. Determinations were made on these issues based on out-dated policies and bylaws. Voters at town meeting in May 2014 defeated a new animal welfare bylaw initiated by then selectman Lorraine Botts.

    In April 2014, selectman voted to create an Animal Advisory Committee to offer offer advise on all animal (domestic, farm and wildlife) welfare issues, and propose new polices and procedures.  By September, a five-member committee with two alternates had been appointed by the selectmen, including veterinarians Richard Cohen, DVM and Amy Hurd, DVM. 

    The advisory committee now consists of Cohen, Hurd, Richard Panofsky, Elizabeth Botelho, Nancy Scott-Puopolo, the acting ACO and BOS liaison Skip Vandals.  The committee initiated an ongoing feral cat “Trap, Neuter, Release” program this year.

    Also in 2014, a new non-profit organization, Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter (FRAS) was created to raise money to support the shelter.  This group raised and donated the money to the town for specific purposes. They have helped fix up the shelter to get it into state compliance.

    Most recently, a shelter Volunteer Coordinator (an unpaid position) Pamela DiRenzo was selected and appointed by the BOS to manage shelter volunteers.


(Scroll down for August 2 story on appointment of interim ACO.)


REHOBOTH ONE OF 13 COMMUNITIES PREPARED FOR EARLY VOTING

(August 5, 2016) As of today, Rehoboth is one of only 13 towns and cities in the Commonwealth to have plans firmly in place to implement early voting hours required by the 2014 election reform laws.

   Beginning September 8 for the state primary election, Rehoboth voters will be able to cast ballots an hour earlier than before, at 7 AM for all three precincts.

    Survey results were released yesterday by the Massachusetts Election Modernization Commission that revealed nearly 138 cities and towns are in the final stages of planning, 126 have in the planning process and 49 municipalities have yet to start planning.

   Along with Rehoboth, the other communities than have solid plans to offer early voting at multiple locations include Boston, Easton, Holyoke, Lancaster, Lenox, Marshfield, Milton, New Bedford, Peru, Salem, Waltham and Worcester.


CALIFORNIA MAN CHARGED WITH DUI FOLLOWING REHOBOTH CAR CRASH

(August 4, 2016) Rehoboth Police arrested an out-of-state visitor on drunk driving charges following a single-vehicle crash yesterday night.

    After receiving a 911 call,  Rehoboth police, fire and ambulance personnel were dispatched to the scene of an accident in the area near 299 Providence Street.

    Officers discovered a car had gone off the road and struck a utility pole causing a power outrage to the area including homes and businesses in nearby Seekonk. 

    Timothy Beal, age 23, of Pleasant Hill, California was taken into police custody and transported by Rehoboth Ambulance to Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro for treatment of minor injuries.  The man was later brought back to Rehoboth Police headquarters and charged with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, marked lanes violation, and wanton destruction of property.  

     Arresting Officers Craig Forget and David Aguiar are continuing an investigation into the accident.


INTERIM ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER APPOINTED BY SELECTMEN

(August 2, 2016) The Rehoboth Board of Selectman last night voted to appoint Rob Johnson as interim animal control officer while choosing to not reappoint long-time ACO Jane Foster who has held the position for many years.

    BOS Chairman Skip Vadnais began the agenda item by saying it was time for a change.  He acknowledged that while Jane “was great” the state has implemented many new requirements for municipal animal control officers, and the town must comply.

    “This dictates a chance in direction,” said Vadnais, who was instrumental in creating the town’s Animal Advisory Committee to assist the BOS with compliance issues.

    Selectman Gerry Schwall motioned to extend Foster’s appointment to the end of October.  “I am not prepared to take action tonight,” he said.  Vadnair replied that “we’ve had hours and hours of discussion on this.” He said that extending Foster’s appointment would just “prolong the inevitable.”

    Selectman Dave Perry commended Foster for her many years of service as a town employee.  “Jane is the best buggy whip around,” he said sadly, referring to Foster’s exemplary, but traditional standards.  “But times change,” added Perry, “and this is a very hard decision to make.”

  According to state standards, the animal control office depends on computerized record keeping and digital communications along with initiating policy and procedures to avoid receiving citations on deficiencies.

    Johnson’s interim appointment is effective today until a permanent animal control officer is appointed by the selectman.  Johnson has been Foster’s assistant for the last several years.

     Foster appeared during open forum early during last night’s selectmen’s meeting and urged residents to call her if abandoned kittens are found.  She also urged residents to use cation when dealing with their dogs and cats during hot weather. “Don’t get into their faces when they’re hot,” she said. “Dog bites mostly happen in the summer.”


ADDITIONAL SPECIAL TOWN MEETING SET FOR JANUARY

(August 2, 2016) At last night’s regular meeting, Rehoboth selectmen voted to schedule a special town meeting in January to allow residents to vote to approve an ballot issue to fund the proposed  new municipal complex.

    The warrant item on this issue was previously set to appear at the fall town meeting on October 17.  If approved by voters, the issue would then become a ballot item with a special election held by the end of the year. 

   To avoid the cost of a special election which costs the town approximately $7000, Selectman Gerry Schwall proposed a special town meeting in late January so that the issue can be included on the regular spring election ballot.

    For the last few years, officials from a variety of town departments including public safety have been studying needs and possible solutions.  A needs assessment committee was formed and have now reached the point of having a comprehensive plan for a new municipal complex on Anawan Street.

    Currently, municipal employees work in the town offices on Peck Street. The old, cement cinder-block building was constructed as military offices for the Nike site and housing once on the property.  Employees work in what only be easily described as awful conditions, with multiple departments crammed into small offices.  Ceilings leak when it rains, snakes have been found inside the building as well as rodents and insects.  The building is difficult to heat during the winter and hard to keep reasonably cool in the summer months. 

  For residents, the town offices are not readily accessible, nor in any way convenient for the vast majority of residents in a ever-growing community.  Rehoboth has reached a population of nearly 12,000 residents, which now places additional requirements on municipal government including police, fire and ambulance.

    The existing public safety building on Anawan Street has reached capacity for both police and fire departments. This will become a significant problem for the town as state regulations require public safety departments to have adequate space.  Currently there is no room at the police department for an official holding cell. 

    The town will face fines if environmentally safe and adequate space is not provided to town employees.  But funding the proposed new municipal complex will require first a vote at special town meeting, followed by a special ballot for a tax increase to fund the project.    


PUBLIC INFO SESSIONS TO ADDRESS LNG CONCERNS

(August 2, 2016) Selectman Dave Perry announced at last night’s board of selectmen meeting that a public information session will be held for residents who have questioned about SPECTRA’s proposed LNG gas compressor station in Rehoboth.

    “Concerned citizens approached the BOS,” said Perry, “and we reached out to SPECTRA to answer specific questions at a public info session held in Rehoboth.”  The meeting will be held in October withe the specific date to be announced soon.

    “This will not be an open forum,” he emphasized. “Instead we are submitting questions to SPECTRA in advance to be addressed at the meeting.”  He encouraged residents to submit their questions to him to the attention of the Selectmen’s Office as soon as possible. 

    “The BOS is obliged to help keep citizens informed,” he added, “and SPECTRA has agreed to do this as a courtesy.”


LEARN MORE ABOUT CRITICAL NEED FOR MUNICIPAL COMPLEX

(August 2, 2016) Rehoboth residents will have a chance to educate themselves about the town’s dire need for a new municipal complex.  Officials who have been working on the town’s municipal building needs have announced there will be three info sessions held in September. 

    The second session will include an open house and tour of the existing town offices and public safety building so that residents can see for themselves where town employees work.

     Selectman Gerry Schwall, who is acting as the board of selectmen’s point person on the proposed new complex, wants the public to be as informed as possible and to fully understand the working conditions of town employees.  He has suggested a special page be put on the town’s website along with an easy-to-use calculator for residents to determine exactly what they may expect to pay in more taxes.

   Currently the town’s building needs assessment committee has released a preliminary plan for the new complex.  The plans can be viewed now at the town office.  The committee will release more financial information and cost estimates as soon as they are available.