Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who'll Stop the Rain? Not Us, But Get Reimbursed

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--It’s 8:45 p.m. on Tuesday night and for the last 30 minutes the rain has turned to drizzle.
“Hallelujah!!!!!”
Drizzle is better than pouring cats and dogs. The rivers are still going to rise, but less rain is better.
It’s late, but the rain has stopped earlier than predicted. It’s supposed to go into Wednesday, but it seems to have blown itself out.
March has been a month of record-breaking rain--17 inches and more depending on where you live.
The records do not matter to those who have spent the last two weeks pumping out basements and hurriedly moving boxes of photographs and other irreplaceable items that have been compromised by water.
Many have had minor heart attacks wondering if the water would set off electrical fires and destroy a home.
The city can only help only so much. They’ll do what they can, but they can't stop the rain.
It comes down to Mother Nature and individual creativity and industry. Unfortunately, in most cases, we’re on our own.
Pump it out. Clean it out and DOCUMENT IT!!
For those who have damage from the storm two weeks ago, information about how to apply for money to reimburse you for destruction from that rain episode, please see the information on the right column of BrocktonPost's website.
For this rain event, Brockton residents MUST/SHOULD take pictures and video of the damage.
Save ALL receipts for companies coming in to clean out the damage.
DOCUMENT IT, DOCUMENT IT, DOCUMENT IT!
No one can stop the rain, but the federal government might reimburse you.

BHS's "Empress of Data" Named Educator of the Year


Brockton Post
By Brockton Post
Special Correspondent Jocelyn Meek
BROCKTON—Brockton High School Associate Principal Maria LeFort, nicknamed the “Empress of Data,” was honored as the Brockton Rotary Club’s “Educator of the Year,” an award given to city leaders who go above-and-beyond the call of duty.
LeFort (pictured at right) was among five recipients of the Rotary's educator awards during a special luncheon held March 25 at the Holiday Inn.
The other recipients are: retired
Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan, Police Officer Anthony Giardini, Carine Sauvignon, director of the Gateway to College program at Massasoit Community College, and Sylvia Carvalho, who manages the mayor’s office at City Hall.
Speaking during the awards ceremony, Mayor Linda Balzotti said the honorees were unsung
heroes and she thanked all city employees for their contributions.
“The work you do is often time not appreciated by the community because they don’t recognize the difficulties you face,” Balzotti said. “I greatly appreciate everything you do every day for the public.”
Each award winner received a plaque and mayoral citation from Balzotti. Each year the Rotary Club honors one person from the Brockton Public Schools, Brockton Police and Fire Departments, City Hall and Massasoit Community College.
LeFort, who is retiring in June after 35 years in the Brockton Public Schools, was
nominated for the award by Superintendent of Schools Matthew H. Malone.
Malone cited LeFort’s focus on good teaching and supporting all students in their efforts to succeed academically.
Malone said LeFort’s passion for good teaching is a driving force behind Brockton High School’s unparalleled success.
LeFort oversees all learning and teaching in a school with 4,500 students in courses ranging from Advanced Placement Chemistry and U.S. History to Health and Wellness, Family & Consumer Sciences and Television Production, among others, Malone said.
LeFort is known as the "Empress of Data" because it is her behind-the-scenes work that helps propel BHS to great heights.
She provides the data and research that outside organizations and think tanks need to show how well Brockton High School is doing. She is also the motivating force behind the school’s diverse Restructuring Committee, which oversees all academic improvement initiatives, and she helps craft individual support plans for every student who has difficulty passing the MCAS test.
“Maria LeFort has dedicated her entire career to helping every Brockton High student and teacher succeed," said BHS Principal Dr. Susan Szachowicz. “Our success as a school has come because of the hard work of an amazing team of administrators and faculty, and Maria has been one of the most inspirational leaders of our team," she said.
Szachowicz added besides LeFort's amazing work ethic, she also has a wonderful sense of humor and often has to endure Szachowicz's teasing, bad jokes, and stories.
"She is an extraordinary teacher, leader, and a friend,” Szachowicz said.
Brockton Police Department – Officer Anthony Giardini
Police Chief William Conlon. said Brockton Police Officer Anthony Giardini gives back to his community and his country, both as a police patrolman and as master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force. Before joining the Brockton Police in 2007, Giardini was a Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority officer for more than six years.
"(Giardini) is a conscientious member of the Brockton Police Department who is a consummate professional," Conlon said.
Conlon said not long after the birth of his first child, Giardini’s reserve unit was deployed to
Afghanistan and Iraq, and he served with honor and pride, even when he knew he was missing out on some important moments in his child’s life.
“It’s not only what these guys do here in Brockton, but for the whole country,” Conlon said.
Brockton Fire Department – Retired Fire Chief Kenneth Galligan
Galligan rose through the ranks of the Brockton Fire Department and
never forgot all of the lessons he learned along the way.
Galligan retired earlier this year after 42 years with the department, 16 of them as chief. In nominating his former boss, current Brockton Fire Chief Richard Francis noted how Galligan took over a department that had been devastated by the city’s near financial collapse in the early 1990s and built it back to one of the best fire departments in the country. Galligan worked tirelessly during his tenure as chief to return the department’s staffing levels to pre-crisis levels, to replace outdated apparatus and equipment and to restore pride to the ranks. “He brought the department forward,” Francis said, noting Galligan’s influence among fire fighters locally, and at the state and national level. “He’s been a mentor and a friend and he’s still a resource for me,” he said.
Galligan said being a Brockton firefighter and chief was a pleasure throughout his career and he plans to stay involved in the fire department and in city boards and commissions. “It’s been an honor, it’s been a privilege to be the chief of this fire department,” he said. “I want to stay connected with both the department and the city of Brockton.
City of Brockton – Sylvia Carvalho Sylvia Carvalho has run the mayor’s office through three administrations. As office manager, she is the repository of information, anecdotes and assistance for thousands of people who come in the door every year. An unassuming mother of three, Carvalho has been invaluable to Mayor Linda Balzotti as she runs the city.
“She has been fabulous. She’s the go-to person, the person who knows where everything is,” Balzotti said.
Carvalho said she was pleased to be recognized. “It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve the city of Brockton,” she said.
Massasoit Community College –Carine Sauvignon
Carine Sauvignon’s dedication to young people has been a major part of the Gateway to College program’s success. Sauvignon is the director of the Gateway program, which helps students earn their high school diplomas while working on college degrees. The Gateway to College program is a Massasoit initiative and serves students from Brockton and five other districts, said Peter
Johnston, Dean of Academic Advising and Assessment.
Sauvignon said she is excited about the opportunities Gateway provides to local youth and she enjoys working collaboratively with school districts.
“It’s been a pleasure working in the City of Brockton with all of these great people,” she said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brockton's Caritas Good Sam Hospital Part Of Archdiocese Sale

The Archdiocese of Boston is working with a for-profit company which would buy and take over operations at six hospitals within the Caritas Christi Health Care network, including Caritas Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton.
Please click the links below to read Boston Globe articles about the issues involved and reactions from Brockton and other Caritas Hospitals.
Also, below the links is a press release about the deal's finances and numerous construction projects scheduled for the six hospitals, including a new emergency room for the Brockton campus.
http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2010/03/26/hope_hesitation_over_caritas_deal/

http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2010/03/union_vows_to_s.html

http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2010/03/26/money_woes_not_new_for_catholic_hospitals/

http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2010/03/26/equity_firm_in_caritas_buyout_lacks_medical_field_experience/

http://www.boston.com/business/healthcare/articles/2010/03/26/chains_ceo_vows_deal_will_help_it_lower_costs/

Caritas Good Samaritan press release:
Financial & Non-Financial Consideration
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Caritas will receive a commitment of $830 - $850 million of capital support upon completion of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions including regulatory approvals. These benefits will include:
* Approximately $430 - $450 million generated through:
o the assumption of all pension obligations for our current and former employees;
o the repayment of virtually all of the system’s outstanding debt; and
o the investment of significant additional capital to help fund the system’s operations going forward
* Approximately $400 million of capital improvements in Massachusetts, including six major, immediate construction projects to improve the facilities of each of the hospitals.
In addition to the substantial economic benefits that the sale will bring to the Caritas system, the purchase agreement also contains several other commitments that will benefit Caritas and the communities we serve in Massachusetts and New England. Among other things, the agreement provides that:
* The system will remain a Massachusetts-based business headquartered in the Greater Boston area;
* Current management will remain in place;
* The system will maintain employment levels, compensation and benefits;
* The system will continue to run the 6 hospitals as Catholic health care providers true to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services;
* The system will maintain existing policies on community benefits and charitable and pastoral care;
* Cerberus will maintain a long-term investment horizon underscored by a commitment to refrain from undertaking an initial public offering, a sale, transfer of control or merger with a third party, or the incurrence of debt for the purpose of paying a dividend or other distribution to equity holders for at least 3 years after the close of the transaction.
Upcoming Caritas Christi Construction Projects
* Seven projects on six sites in the Caritas Christi system
o $100M project resulting in 117,000 sf of hospital space
* Creating new jobs in areas with the highest unemployment in the Commonwealth
o 110 design, engineering and consulting jobs
o 500 construction jobs
o 500 new jobs from Hospital projects
o Related stimulus jobs: 3,757
o Total potential new jobs: 4,367
o Increasing the size of our overcrowded EDs (originally built between 1954 and 1972)
o 60% of all inpatients come through the ED
+ 103 ED treatment bays serving 150,000 patients per year (an increase of 22 bays)
o Modernizing ORs in 2 of our poorest communities to ensure that we can continue to care for our patients where they live
+ 6 ORs handling 18,000 cases per year
o Modernizing radiation therapy so that our patients can have access to a full continuum of oncology care with seamless connection among their primary care provider, their medical oncologist, their surgeon and their radiation oncologist.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Youth Leaders Honored at "Breakfast of Champions"

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Marcia Hoyle Walkama, a dedicated and well-known local and national Girl Scout leader and several other community leaders were honored last Sunday by the Brockton Youth Foundation during it's second annual "Breakfast with Champions" at the Shaw's Center.
Hoyle Walkama, (pictured at right)and the other honorees were presented with a Wheaties box featuring their pictures and names.
The awards are given to "individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to support Brockton youth.
2010 winners along with Hoyle Walkama are:
Nancy Leedberg: Resource Officer at Brockton Police Department.
Tom Ross: President, Brockton Youth Softball.
Carol Thomas: Director Brockton High School Drama Club.
Michael Thomas: Supervisor Community Schools Basketball, Brockton High School Azure Housemaster.
Boxer Buddies: Brockton High School students who befriend students with disabilities and share share common interest.
The Brockton Youth Foundation was established by parents and civic leaders to provide money for leadership and youth programs throughout the city.
(Photo Courtesy of James Rober)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Autopsy to Identify Body Found in Burned Minivan

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Brockton Police and the Plymouth County District Attorney's office will await an autopsy to identify a body found in a burning minivan Tuesday afternoon.
Bridget Norton Middleton, spokeswoman for District Attorney Timothy Cruz's office, said Brockton firefighters were called to 7 Burke Drive at about 4 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a car fire.
She said firefighters put out flames engulfing a minivan and afterward while investigating the scene found what appears to be the body of man in the "well," or far back area of the van.
"The case is under investigation and the fire and death are considered suspicious," Norton Middleton said Wednesday afternoon.
"We're going to wait for the autopsy to determine the cause of death," she said.
She said the body was burned and authorities will not release information about the vehicle or its owner until the body is identified.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ranger to Outline Borderland, D.W. Field events, issues

Brockton Post
Brockton-D.W. Field Park Association will host a special presentation by Ranger Ellenor YahrMarkt Tuesday night.
Yahrmarkt, superintendent of Borderland State Park, will give a program outlining events that will take place at Borderland Park during the coming months and talk about forestry and other issues that Borderland and D.W. Field Park have in common.
All are invited to this free event.
The lecture will begin at 7 p.m. and will take place at the Park and Recreation Department Office located at 45 Meadow Lane, Brockton.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

DA Cruz, Boston PD Commissioner Head Gang Conference

Brockton Post
BRIDGEWATER--The Bridgewater State College Department of Criminal Justice will host its annual spring conference which will focus on the social and legal consequences of juvenile gang violence.
The forum, titled "Juvenile Gangs: Understanding the Good, the Bad and the Ugly" will take place Thursday, April 15 at the Rondileau Campus Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The primary focus of the conference is to present the social and legal consequences of gang activity for youth and the community, and also to discuss promising interventions and programs that prevent or impact juvenile gang activity.
Speakers will include: Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz (pictured above); James C. Howell, author and senior research associate with the National Youth Gang Center; Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis (pictured below); Dana Peterson, criminologist, SUNY Albany – School of Criminal Justice, Rev. Jeffrey Brown, executive director of Gang Mediation Initiative, and True See Allah, Boston Reentry Initiative.
Conference attendees will:
• Hear experts discuss this complex and important social problem
• Learn about best practices
• Obtain helpful literature about the problem of juvenile gangs and prevention programs
• Enjoy the opportunity to ask the panelists questions and participate in the discussion
• Learn more about the academic programs of BSC
• Earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through the conference, for those who qualify such as teachers and social workers.
There is a morning and an afternoon session, cost $20 each, or $35 for both. Lunch is $12.
Registration form and more information are at www.bridgew.edu/criminaljustice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Moderation's the Word at St. Pat's Fete


Brockton Post
BROCKTON—City officials and residents celebrated St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday morning by raising the Irish flag and making light-hearted jokes, notably that all involved could add an “O” in front of their last names and being certain not to drink too much alcohol in honor of the Irish.
Mayor Linda Balzotti during her remarks at a small gathering at City Hall Plaza reminded all to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in moderation to which Ward 1 Councilor Timothy Cruise asked how that should be gauged.
“Whose idea of moderation are we talking about? Yours or someone else’s,” Cruise told the handful of attendees.
As Balzotti tried to respond, Cruise said: “It’s somewhere between your moderation and Bob Malley’s,” which received a round of laughs.
Malley, the city’s executive director of the parking authority, a man known to frequent the city’s watering holes, smiled and said, “That’s cold.”
Wednesday’s ceremony included short performances by Brockton Firefighters Pipes and Drums, a group that includes one member of the Brockton Police Department, Tom Robinson, who is pictured above with his wife Karin.

Balzotti, Register of Deeds John Buckley and Superintendent of Schools Matthew Malone’s son Sal (pictured at right) had the honor of raising the Irish flag at City Hall Plaza as the Irish National Anthem played.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

City, Residents Cleanup After Rain Storm

Brockton Post
BROCKTON—As residents continue to use sump pumps to empty flooded basements, most of the city’s roads have reopened and shelters made available to residents have closed.
Morton Schleffler, director of Brockton’s emergency management agency, said the two shelters at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church and Brockton High School have been closed and although no residents utilized the two spaces, they were there if needed.
“It’s good to be prepared,” Schleffler said in an interview Tuesday morning.
The shelters were opened Monday afternoon after city officials declared a state of emergency at noon.
Schleffler said the Lutheran Church was open until about 7 p.m. last night and after 7 p.m. 100 beds were available at Brockton High School.
He said no residents came to the high school shelter. Schleffler said the last time emergency shelters were opened was about five or six years ago when rainstorms caused similar flooding problems and about 40 residents used city shelters.
He could not pinpoint the exact date, but recalled it was during former Mayor Jack Yunits’ tenure.
More than a dozen streets were closed Monday due to flooding, but as of Tuesday afternoon, most were reopened and city officials called off the state of emergency at noon.
Mayor Linda Balzotti said in a telephone interview today that nearly all streets have been reopened except near the Belmont Avenue area where officials are waiting for waters to recede.
“The Belmont Avenue area seems to be the worst and we’re waiting for the waters from tributaries and streams to subside,” Balzotti said. “It’s one step at a time, and hopefully we won’t have any more rain,” she said.
For a list of streets still closed please link to the city’s home page at http://www.brockton.ma.us/default1.aspx.
Balzotti said the city has received numerous calls for aid with basement flooding and fire department personnel were dispatched to many locations to help.
In some situations, she said, electricity to individual homes was disconnected temporarily to prevent further problems from electrical fires and other calamities.
“What we tried to do was shutoff power to individual homes and not entire sections of neighborhoods,” Balzotti said.
Residents with damages are urged to take photographs and keep receipts for any damages and cleanup services because the federal government may declare the storm an emergency situation and provide funds for cleanup.
“Keep all receipts, and if they can, take pictures of the damage because it could be a few months before we know if the federal government will offer any reimbursement,” Balzotti said.
City officials are also negotiating with Allied Waste, the city’s trash hauler, to offer extended services because of what is expected to be a greater amount of trash and debris that will need to be disposed of from resident’s homes.
Balzotti said negotiations have just begun and there is no final agreement, but officials are working on increasing sidewalk pickup from the usual one trash barrel pickup to more bags without extra cost.
She said officials are trying to get the extra pickup for the last week of March or first week of April, but reiterates a deal has not been finalized.
If the deal is finalized, residents with excessive trash caused by the storm would have to call Allied Waste to be placed on a list for the increased number of bags and barrels.
Officials are also working with Allied Waste to add an extra dumpster at the city’s recycling facility on Oak Hill way for residents to dispose of excess trash due to the storm and would have to show proof of residency.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shelters Opened, Roads Closed Due to Flooding

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--The city has declared a state of emergency and has opened two locations for emergency shelter.
Until 7 p.m. tonight the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church at 906 N. Main Street will be available.
After 7 p.m. Brockton High Schoolat 470 Forest Ave. will be available for those who have been forced out of their homes due to flooding.
For questions regarding the shelters or for assistance, contact the Brockton Emergency Management Agency at (508) 580-7871 or the Brockton Fire Department’s routine line at (580) 583-2933.
Because of the heavy rains, many streets in the city have been closed as public works crews work to stem water flows. The roads will be closed until further notice and travelers are asked to use alternate routes.
Here is a list of the streets that have been closed:

Newbury Street at Highland Street

Newbury Street at West Elm Street

Ellsworth Street at North Arlington Street

Newbury Street at Ellsworth Street

Belmont Avenue at West Elm Street

Alger Street at Route 14

Riverview Street at Perkins Avenue

Spring Street between Highland Street and Belmont Avenue

Prospect Street at Belair Street

Spring Street at Belmont Avenue

Sycamore Street at Belmont Avenue

Park Street at Belmont Avenue

Ames Street at Montello Street

Spark Street at Ames Street

Ames Street at Intervale Street

Tiffaney Drive at Hatchfield Drive

Meadowbrook Road

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

City Declares 4 p.m. Snow Emergency, On-Street Parking Ban

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--City officials will enforce an on-street parking ban effective at 4 p.m. today in preparation for an expected accumulation of snow.
A press release issued by Mayor Linda Balzotti's office and DPW Commissioner Michael Thoreson has declared a snow emergency beginning at 4 p.m. today.
City officials said the parking ban includes both sides of streets and will be in effect until further notice.
Officials said removing all vehicles from the street will enable public works crews and plow drivers to clear the streets of snow that may accumulate.
Forecasters are calling for between 2 to 4 inches of snow.
Please see weather.com for local weather reports.