Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water Commission In Hot Seat Over Closed Meeting

By Lisa E. Crowley
Brockton Post
BROCKTON—At least three Brockton residents have filed complaints at City Hall alleging the Brockton Water Commission violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it met in closed session Aug 30, hours after more than 75 protestors rallied against water bills they believe are grossly inaccurate.
Residents Bob Ford, Ayanna Yancey-Cato and Marianne Silva said they filed written complaints about the executive session, or closed meeting and have delivered those to the City Clerk’s office, the Water Commission and Attorney General.
All three violation petitioners confirmed they submitted the complaints and feel they have strong reason to believe the Water Commission broke the law when it met behind closed doors to reign in one of the commissioners, Patrick Quinn when dealing with the media over questions about the controversial water bills.
Yancey-Cato, best known for the $100,000 water bill that was reduced to $17,000, a figure she still disagrees with, said officials associated with the water department and commission seem to be doing whatever they want without regard for law or regulations and the suspected Open Meeting Law violation is just one example.
“Not only do I want the Open Meeting Law violation looked at, I want the whole department investigated. People think that’s what the audit is going to do, but it’s not,” she said.
Commissioner Quinn said in a telephone interview Wednesday night that he warned board members on Aug 30 that the reason they were going into executive session did not fall under any of the 10 exceptions allowed under the law—which include personnel disciplinary matters, union negotiations, the sale or lease of property or employee interviews. (Click here for all the Open Meeting Law exceptions)
“We were told we were going in to talk about internal policies,” Quinn said, “which is not one of the exceptions under the Open Meeting Law. Discussing policies should be done in the open,” Quinn said.
Quinn said he was the only member who voted against going into closed session and when he told members it wasn’t legal, he received a verbal warning.
When the board went behind closed doors, Quinn said, the conversation centered around Quinn’s own comments to the media and how to answer questions about water department problems, specifically from an Enterprise reporter.
“They spent an hour and a half berating me,” Quinn said. “That’s not one of the reasons allowed in the Open Meeting Law to go behind closed doors,” he said.
Bruce Malcolm, chairman of the water commission, when asked about a possible Open Meeting Law violation said in a telephone call Wednesday night that the City Solicitor’s office told him what they were planning to discuss was OK.
“We certainly did the right thing,” Malcolm said.
He then went on to say “it was a meaningless meeting about things the public wouldn’t care about. It was internal stuff. Who was speaking for the board,” he said.
Malcolm said the board quoted the section of the law the City Solicitor’s office gave the board and when asked what exception under the law the board cited when going into closed session, he cut off the conversation.
“I’m not going to discuss this anymore. If you want to put it on the Website go ahead. We listened to the City Solicitor, not Michelle DuBois. I’m done. Good night.”
Officials said water commission members Bruce Malcolm, Ossie Jordan, Jody Hickey and Margaret McGrath cited discussing a person’s reputation or potential dismissal when they voted to go into closed session.
Ward 6 City Councilor Michelle DuBois said in an interview Tuesday night that she was working with Ford, Yancey-Cato and Silva to bring complaints about the possible meeting violation.
“If they weren’t going to file a complaint, I was going to do it,” DuBois said.
DuBois said she and emailed members on Friday, at least three days before the Tuesday night meeting to prevent the Water Commission from meeting because she didn’t believe the meeting was properly posted and then the violation worsened, in her opinion, when members went behind closed doors.
DuBois said after initially stalled attempts, she has received a very poor quality voice recording of what was discussed in the closed session and proves the water commission did not meet the restrictions of the law.
“None of what they discussed falls under the exceptions,” DuBois said.
State guidelines require anyone filing a complaint about an Open Meeting Law violation must do so within 30 days of the meeting. Petitioners are required to file the complaint with the public body in question and the clerk’s office of the municipality.
The public body has 14 days to respond to the complaint, and if the petitioners are not satisfied with the response, may then file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office.
The complaint by the resident’s notes they believe the Water Commission’s actions were “intentional,” a change in the law that took effect July 1 that requires a board or board members broke the law intentionally in order to incur a fine of up to $1,000.
The complaint asks the Water Commission to vote that it now understands the Open Meeting Law regulations and that the Aug. 30 meeting was a violation. It also asks for further Open Meeting Law training for board members.
To hear the audio from the Water Board's meeting please visit http://www.brocktonbeat.com

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Somewhere Else Say Brockton Power Plant Opponents

Story by Lisa E. Crowley
The Brockton Post
BROCKTON—Advanced Power, the company which has proposed a 350-megawatt natural gas power plant on the south side of Brockton may have changed some of their plans in an attempt to gain support, but sentiment from residents and elected officials is the same—build it, just not in Brockton.
“None of these facilities seems to locate in Weston, Wellesley or Dover….or Hingham, Duxbury or Cohasset,” said Brockton resident and Plymouth County Clerk of Courts Robert Creedon Jr., during a nearly four-hour long public hearing Tuesday night about proposed changes to Advanced Power’s plans to build the plant on Oak Hill Way on the Brockton-West Bridgewater border.
Creedon’s comments were met by cheers, whoops and claps from the more than 200 hundred residents from Brockton and the Bridgewaters who filled the West Middle School auditorium to oppose the project.
Creedon’s comments also received boos and negative hoots from the more than 150 union workers from the Southeastern Masssachusetts Building Trades, many of whom came in two large buses to support the jobs that would be created as part of the power plant’s construction.
While some union members were from Brockton or surrounding communities, many were from Rhode Island.
The meeting, held by the Energy Facilities Siting Board, a division of the state Department of Public Utilities was one of many that have been held in Boston and Brockton about the proposed natural-gas plant since the company filed plans three years ago.
The Energy Facilities Siting Board, or EFSB, has approved the project, but local permits are still needed in Brockton and city board’s have rejected several due to height restrictions and environmental issues—rejections that have been appealed in court.
Tuesday night’s meeting was held because Advanced Power—also known as Brockton Clean Energy--has modified several aspects of the plant, including eliminating diesel fuel as a power generating option, using drinking water instead of waste water to cool generators—a move many said was worse-- and decreasing the size of a generator enclosure that while smaller would still exceed city height ordinances, city officials said.
The Siting Board now must make a decision on the changes. Department of Public Utilities Spokesman Tim Shevlin said the Siting Board will hold evidenciary hearings at its offices at South Station October 21, 26 and 28. He said the hearings are open to the public, but the public may not make comment. Shevlin said depending upon the first three evidenciary hearings, the Siting Board could hold two other hearings in November.
Shevlin said there is no "statutory time frame" for the Siting Board to make a decision on the new plans and could not speculate if it would be this year or next.
A lynch-pin in the project is the use of city water--drinking or waste water--a decision to be made by the City Council, whose members have vowed to vote against allowing Advanced Power the city's water.
Throughout the night nasty comments and cheers and jeers were launched as supporters on each side of the power plant debate spoke from 7:30 to about 11:15 p.m. when the hearing closed.
Plant opponents interrupted tattooed and swarthy pipe fitters and construction workers with comments of “go home” or “build it in your neighborhood,” while the union workers tossed barbs about the “white-haired Geritol club” not wanting to rebuild the country and put young people back to work.
Much of the night was hostile, heated and punctuated by a Brockton police officer positioning himself in pockets of verbal conflict between seated and standing attendees.
State Rep. Christine Canavan, who is running for reelection against Republican opponent John F. Cruz, after expressing staunch opposition to the plant returned to her seat in the auditorium and heard a comment from a man a few rows behind her say “so much for the labor vote.”
Canavan began shouting and asking, “are you threatening me, are you threatening me? Is that a threat,” and asked if there was a police officer.
The unidentified man, wearing a blue and yellow “support Brockton Clean Energy” sticker and sitting with a group of union members said, “what, all I said was so much for the labor vote.”
Canavan continued asking if it was a threat and asking for a police officer, adding “it’s been three years of this.”
The back-and-forth ended when a Brockton police officer stood near the seats.
Overall, many opponents cited a lack of trust in Advanced Power to keep its promises—such as not using diesel—a change several said could easily be reversed once the plant is built or flatly don’t believe the information provided about potentially toxic emissions from the plant’s operation.
Many also said a February explosion in Middletown, Conn., of a natural gas plant under construction that killed five people show harm to the surrounding populace from such a plant is real and not just unusual or rare.
City Councilor at Large Todd Petti said the explosion changed his mind about the project and he will now support his fellow council members against the project after supporting it for most of the project’s life. Until his change of heart, Petti was the only city councilor who would vote in favor of allowing the company to use the city's water.
While now being against the plant, Petti said he still believes its construction would be a windfall economically for the city—the company expects to add about $3 million to the city’s cash-strapped coffers from taxes and fees and would pay $1.5 to $2 million per year for the city’s water.
“I believe all the changes made by Advanced Power are worth the (EFSB’s) attention,” Petti said. “It’s in their lap,” he said.
Petti also questioned how much money was being spent on fighting the proposal.
“To date we have spent $314,000 in legal and consultants’ fees,” Petti said. “Have we gotten our money’s worth? What have we achieved? How much do we want to spend fighting this,” he said.
For many residents, fighting the plant with words and money is the only way to protect the city from having to accept another project that could be harmful to residents.
“We assume the risks and Brockton Power assumes the profits,” said Brockton resident Kate Archard.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Brockton High Turnaround Model For The Nation

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--The dramatic turnaround in student test scores and achievement at Brockton High School during the last six years has been noticed around the country and gaining praise from educators and parents.
For more please read an article in today's New York Times.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Resident Urges More Ideas From City Officials

NOTE ON LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
The Brockton Post welcomes letters to the editor and other opinion pieces. Anyone wishing to comment on events happening in the city or around the world may email letters to brocktonpost@gmail.com. The Brockton Post reserves the right to edit or not publish any submissions.
Letter to The Editor:

I write this letter to express my viewpoints on several disturbing recent events that have taken place in our city that deeply trouble me having been born, raised, and residing in our city for my entire life. I have been a home owner and tax payer in Brockton since 1978. I also raised two children who were educated in our public school systems as I was.
My problem is I cannot believe the direction that our city has taken over the recent past. Our infrastructure is crumbling, city projects have come to a standstill, and it seems that all we are subjected to are more taxes, the latest being a meals tax. I cannot believe that our residents are having liens placed upon their houses due to the city fouling up their water bills. It is not the responsibility of the people telling the city what they owe them. The city is currently in the process of conducting an outside independent audit that is a step in the right direction, however it remains to be determined if in fact that they will act upon the findings.
I guess that only time will tell and we should give them the benefit of doubt that they will indeed take corrective measures to fix the problems that we now have.
Our city still has some tremendous resources that we can draw upon such as D.W. Fields Park and golf course as well as other available land, along with water and sewerage services that we can attract businesses to develop if structured properly. Why not build a new club house at the golf course and get a full liquor license and restaurant that would entice people to spend additional money when they play golf there and have other revenue generating functions there? The fact that the city makes the golf course pay for their own water is absurd to me especially now that the city has an abundance of water that they don’t know what to do with now that the power plant has been shot down. Speaking of which why not make Brockton a model for a green city? We can attract solar, wind, and other means of clean alternative energy to our city by way of tax incentives and federal subsidies. Why not replace our city vehicles with electric cars to set an example for other communities to follow? The bottom line is that we are not doing enough to attract businesses to our city despite the resources that we have to offer and our location with easy access to the major highways.
We also need to be cost conscious and have full accountability of every nickel spent in our city budget and make sure that we are also capitalizing on our city’s short term and long term investments. We also are in desperate need to hire a qualified economic planner to lead our city in a positive direction. There are some key appointments that should be made outside of political connections that should be made strictly on what you know as opposed to who you know. By the way does anyone really know or understand the city’s enterprise accounting system? It seems to me like it is the best kept secret around or maybe they want it that way.
We should push to bring horse racing back to our city, revitalize our downtown, and do something about Westgate Mall by calling for as much federal and state money as possible to enable us to get the job done properly. Why not propose a food emporium, mini shopping mall, water theme park, micro brewery, or something that would attract people to our city. We also need to get tough on delinquent tax payers and enforce the collection of all outstanding revenue and fines owed to the city especially by those who can well afford to pay them. We should be enticing the various county offices to move to Brockton especially where we are the only city in the county out of twenty seven communities and have the available resources that they need.
Last and foremost let’s start with at least cleaning up our city’s streets, parks and neighborhoods by picking up litter, weeds, and other unattractive eyesores and encourage our residents to maintain their homes as best that they can to attract more people to do business and live in our city. In addition we are in dire need of providing our crime units with state-of-art buildings and equipment to protect our people and make Brockton a safer place to live.
Sincerely,
Richard J. Zaccaro
55 Oneida Ave.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Brockton will join over 3,000 cities and towns in a nationwide Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Council on Aging, 10 Father Kenney Way.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency sponsored program allows residents to dispose of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs, that in some cases are responsible for increased illegal use by teenagers and are potentially harmful to the public health.
Quincy, Holbrook, Sharon, Avon and Hanover will also participate in Saturday's take-back.
In a prepared statement, DEA officials said "no questions" about the drugs will be asked and asserted those disposing of drugs will remain anonymous.
Here are some tips for those interested in participating:
•Prescription and over the counter solid dosage medications, i.e. tablets and capsules accepted.
•Intra-venous solutions, injectables, and needles will not be accepted.
•Illicit substances such as marijuana or methamphetamine are not a part of this initiative.
For more information about the take-back visit the DEA's Website.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bikers' Roar Fills FD Union Hall

Brockton Post
BROCKTON—The deafening roar of thunder surrounded Perkins Avenue and North Montello Street as the gleaming tailpipes and polished leather of hundreds of motorcycles headed to the final stop of the 8th annual Brockton Fire Department motorcycle run for charity.
Two-by-two, riders on Harley Davidson’s, Honda’s, and Kawasaki’s poured into the parking lot next to Brockton Fire Department Local 144’s union hall parking lot on Perkins Avenue.
“We came to support Local 144,” said Roger Poulin, a firefighter from Rhode Island who joined last Saturday’s ride with fellow Rhode Island jake Alan Bova (Pictured below).
While it was their first ride with Fire and Iron—a riding club of Brockton firefighters, families and friends--like many of the participants Poulin and Bova said they are frequent riders on the dozens of fundraising rides that take place throughout the state during motorcycle riding months—usually spring, summer and fall.
Under bright blue skies and white puffy clouds, an estimated 250 to 300 bikes, some carrying double riders, began the ride at Fire Station #6 on West Street adjacent to Campanelli Stadium and rode through the city’s streets for a more than 90 minute ride from Brockton to Halifax, Carver, Plymouth Duxbury, Pembroke and back through the city via the Bridgewaters.
“It was a nice ride,” Poulin said.
Brockton Firefighter Billy Hill, the union’s treasurer, said the last few years rain and threats of rain have marred the ride and fewer bikers joined in, but last Saturday, he believed was the trek’s biggest one since the first eight-years-ago.
“The weather has a lot to do with it, but at last count we had 250 bikes,” Hill said.
He said the ride, which cost $15 is the department’s biggest fundraiser and supports numerous charitable organizations, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
While the riders might think they are having all the fun cruising around the city and the South Shore, many of those who helped set up the tents, tables, beer coolers and other necessities at the Perkins Avenue union hall, were having a good time of their own as they went about their tasks with the day’s band Shoe City Blues cranking music in the background.
“38-24-36,” shouted one of the women pointing out Kathleen Boyer's measurements as she walked toward a tent where a group of women sold T-shirts outside the union hall.
Wearing denim vests with Fire and Iron decals on the back, the women joked and socialized all the while attracting bikers to buy T-shirts or raffle tickets for good causes.
“It’s about having fun and helping out,” Boyer said while simultaneously lighting a cigarette, directing participants to the food line or the beer line and getting a hug from one of many friends.
Boyer, a Pembroke resident and sister of Brockton Fire Lt. James Young, said the Brockton Fire Department joined Fire and Iron about five years ago, and joining the nationwide club is a way for motorcycle enthusiasts to get together and enjoy the sport.
Well-known among the riders, Boyer directed the throngs into the parking lot and jumped into one of two non-motorcycle vehicles that joined the end of the parade: a bright yellow dune buggy and a stealthy, black and red sports car that made its first appearance on the Brockton run.
Some didn’t think the sportscar fit in.
“If you ask me, I think it looks like a tick,” said Donnie Baker, a rider from Brockton who preferred a Harley to the two-seat sports car.
Baker and a group of friends said they were having a great time at the event, however, John Murphy was a little sad because he wished his wife Lorie Anne, who died in 2008 was there.
“She would have loved this. She’d be so psyched,” Murphy said, showing a cross with Lori Anne's name tattooed to his shin.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Police Investigate Winthrop Street Shooting Death

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--A 22-year-old Brockton man was shot and killed on Winthrop Street near James Edgar Playground early Monday morning.
In a statement from Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz, officials said police are searching for a shooter who killed Eliezer Mendes, 22, of Brockton, who officials said appeared to have been shot multiple times.
Police responded to several calls about gun shots near 141 Winthrop St. at about 2:09 a.m.
The Brockton police log notes one caller said he heard "a couple of shots" while he was on Harvard Street, around the corner from the Winthrop Street shooting.
The caller told police he walked from Harvard to Winthrop and found a man lying on a sidewalk with no pulse who appeared to have been shot.
The DA's statement said police found Mendes on Winthrop Street. He was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
An autopsy will be conducted by the Chief Medical Examiner and investigators from the State Police assigned to the DA's Office and Brockton Police are investigating the homicide.
Anyone with information is urged to contact investigators at 508-941-0234 or 508-947-8087.

Ginny Curtis Remembered As Feisty, Energetic

Brockton Post
BROCKTON—Family and friends Tuesday will fondly remember the life of one of the city’s most active and energetic residents—Mary Virginia (Long) Curtis—who led a lifetime of service and involvement in the city.
“She was feisty and she had a ton of energy. She was always involved, she was always ready to help,” said Ward 2 City Councilor Thomas Monahan.
Known as “Ginny,” Curtis died Thursday, Sept. 16 surrounded by her loved ones at Braemoor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Brockton after struggling with medical problems for several years.
She was 91-years-old.
Visiting hours will be held Tuesday, Sept. 21 from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at Russell & Pica Funeral Home, 165 Belmont St., followed by a funeral mass at 11 a.m. at St. Patrick Church, 335 Main St. Internment will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Brockton.
Curtis was very well known throughout the city because of her tireless involvement in many community activities and organizations.
She was a founding member of Brockton Interfaith Community, a board member of the Brockton Neighborhood Health Center, a Neighborhood Crime Watch leader, a volunteer at the Council on Aging, an indispensable fundraiser for the public library and was an active member of the Democratic City Committee and volunteered for many candidates’ runs for state and local elections.
Monahan said he and state Senator Thomas Kennedy have known Curtis since they were young boys.
“She actually babysat for Tom,” Monahan said.
Monahan said Curtis helped him campaign for his current seat on the City Council.
“She was a great lady,” he said.
In 1999 Curtis was awarded Woman of the Year by the Commission on Women’s Issues and the same year she received the Enterprise Champion of the City award.
For decades Curtis lived on Winthrop Street adjacent to James Edgar Playground, where she admonished young residents to take care of their community and volunteered countless hours keeping the park clean and safe.
Monahan said a group of residents will collect donations for a plaque in Curtis’ honor to be placed at the playground. Monahan said the plan is to dedicate the plaque next spring when volunteers hold the next park cleanup.
While Curtis will be remembered for her involvement in civic and political affairs, she was also a leader in the religious community.
A lifelong member of St. Patrick Church, Curtis also served the church as a Eucharist Minister and Alter Server.
Monahan, also a member of St. Patrick’s, said Curtis kept an eye on him and if he missed Sunday mass, she required he say several prayers as penance.
“If I missed Sunday mass, I heard about it,” he said.
For more information on Curtis’ funeral arrangements and directions, please visit Russell & Pica Funeral Home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fuller Craft Museum Free to Brockton Residents

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--The Fuller Craft Museum has partnered with Bank of America to offer all Brockton residents free admission to the museum until the end of the year.
This new program allows Brockton residents who show a proper ID, either a driver's license or some form of identification that shows residency in Brockton.
The program runs until Dec. 31.
The museum will continue to offer free admission for all on Wednesday nights from 5 to 9 p.m.
For information about the museum's current exhibits, including "Boxes and their Makers," and "The New Materiality," please visit the Fuller Craft Museum Website.
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The museum is closed Mondays.
(Photo courtesy Fuller Craft Museum)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Heavenly Voices" Worldwide Honor Mother Mary

Brockton Post
BROCKTON—Sister Christine Kleponis of Our Lady of Sorrows Convent in Brockton and thousands of other devotees of the Virgin Mary hold Sept. 15 as a special day of remembrance and prayer in honor of the mother of Jesus—a passionate celebration that has been held around the world since the 12th Century.
“We highlight that day as a particular day of prayer and devotion, and like our convent whose official title is Poor Sisters of Jesus Crucified, those devoted to Our Lady of Sorrows—Mother Mary—will celebrate to a greater and lesser scale,” Kleponis said. “It’s in order to spread devotion to her,” she said.
Kleponis said many devout Christians and Catholics look to the Blessed Mary as a symbol of hope for those who have been stunned, shocked, made distraught or dismayed over tragedies that can occur during life.
“She, as the Mother of Christ has suffered and understands suffering. She was at the foot of the Cross,” said Kleponis. "Who understands suffering more," she said.
The sisters of Brockton’s convent are not alone in their devotion to Mary. Stonehill College, whose Franciscan monks joined a special celebratory mass Sunday, and thousands of convents and churches all over the world will hold feasts, special masses and prayers in honor of the occasion.
As part of their devotion, the sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows held a special mass Sunday in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Along with flowers that decorated the altar and pews, the sisters invited Brockton’s Christ the King Church Choir to join the ceremony.
“The roof just thundered with heavenly voices,” Kleponis said, praising the choir for its depth of song.
Nancy Amroise, a member of Christ the King’s choir—predominantly made up of people of Haitian descent—said it was her first time at the convent and was moved by the sisters’ level of devotion.
“It was a beautiful ceremony,” Ambroise said. (Pictured above smiling).
After the nearly hour-long mass, more than 60 participants held a procession from the chapel to a life-sized white marble statue of Mary on the sprawling grounds of the convent to commemorate the “Seven Dolors,” or Seven Sorrows of Mary.
The Seven Sorrows are the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the child Jesus in the temple, Mary meets Jesus carrying the Cross, Mary stands beneath the Cross, Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms and Jesus is placed on the tomb.
After each sorrow, the parishioners recited the Our Father, seven Hail Marys and Holy Mother Pierce Me Through—all prayers to console the suffering and an observance that took nearly an hour.
Joining the ceremony were members of the Knights of Columbus, who along with numerous charity works attend similar ceremonies in full regalia—including black uniforms, shining swords and cavalier-like hats with flowing feathers.
“Anytime the church needs us, we come out,” said Knights of Columbus member Edwin Putkonen, who lives in Abington.
Norm Corriveau, another Knights member, said the convent is a place of rich history and devotion that too many people are unaware of.
“It is really a beautiful place,” Corriveau said.
Although the sisters held the ceremony days before the official feast today, Kleponis said the order will hold a special prayer mass at 8 a.m. this morning which will be followed by a novena to Mother Mary.
While there won’t be a feast, Kleponis said her order has strict protocols on prayer and feasting, but she expects a little more or something special at dinner.
“We always have a little more on special occasions,” she said.
Kleponis said the sisters hold many prayer services that are open to the public and want people to come to the grounds located at 261 Thatcher Street, across from the main entrance of Massasoit Community College.
Kleponis said the sisters sent out letters of invitation to a myriad of parishes in Brockton and surrounding area who may not realize the 20 sisters not only operate St. Joseph Manor, a nursing home and adult day elder care facility, but also open their arms to people seeking spiritual help from suffering and atonement of sins.
“We want to reintroduce ourselves to the parishes and the public as a whole,” Kleponis said.
For more history and the significance of the Sept. 15 celebration please visit Father William Saunders’ article.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Greek Festival Kicks Off Thursday

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Brockton will host its annual food festival this weekend beginning Thursday at 11 a.m.
The festival includes music, vendors and a range of Greek food. Parking is available at the church, located at 457 Oak St.
Festival hours are: Thursday, Sept. 16 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, Noon to 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Boxers' Depina Powers Brockton Over BC High In Season Opener

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Whether he was crashing through three defenders into the end zone or kicking the the nail-in-the-coffin field goal, Brockton's Lucas Depina posted two of Brockton's three scores Friday night in the Boxer's season opening 16-6 win over Boston College High School.
DePina put the Boxers ahead 13-6 in the second quarter after a BC fumble put the Boxers on the 28-yeard-line.
On the first snap senior quarterback Paul Mroz--in his first ever varsity start--sent a bullet to DePina who caught it at about the 6-yard-line and despite being surrounded by BC defenders powered his way into the end zone and a 13-6 Boxers lead.
Seconds after the Herculean effort, Depina came out to kick the point-after-touchdown, but pushed a tired ball wide.
With minutes left in the fourth quarter and after a stout BC defense stopped the Boxers within 5 yards of the end zone, Depina kicked a 19-yard field goal to give Brockton the 16-6 win with 2:02 left in the game.
BC took an early lead on its second possession in the first quarter when Preston Cooper busted through the Boxers defensive line for a 30-yard touch down run.
The Boxers tied the game when junior Albert Louis-Jean--13th in the Associated Press' Top 25 high school prospects--caught a 55-yard bomb and sprinted untouched down the sideline for a 6-6 tie in the first quarter.
The Boxers are back on the field Friday against Taunton High School in Taunton.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Good Sam Country Fair Saturday

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton will host a free country fair Saturday, Sept. 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. that features free food, kids rides, raffles, make your own sundaes and free health screenings.
Free medical screenings include blood pressure, glucose level, body mass index, and cholestrol. No health insurance is necessary. Walk-ins are welcome.
Good Samaritan is located at 230 Oak Street.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Inspector General Opens Investigation of Brockton Water Bills

Story by Lisa E. Crowley
Brockton Post
BROCKTON—Brockton residents who believe their water bills are more than just inaccurate or caused by mechanical malfunctions have filed complaints with the state Inspector General’s Office and have been contacted by the agency for documents related to their bills.
Bob Ford, a 66-year-old-retiree who has been at odds with the city water department since he received a bill in February for $11,700, said he was contacted last week by Brendan McCabe, a representative with the Inspector General’s Office requesting water bills, consumption reports and other documents related to water bills that residents have said are disproportionate with how much water they could have used.
"They think we are all just a bunch of sheep--whatever the city says we'll do," Ford said.
Ford said, so far, he and two others have submitted documentation toward an investigation of the billing problem and as word spreads to other residents that the agency is reviewing the problems, expects other homeowners to follow suit.
“The IG's Office is particularly interested in the Jan. 19 actual bill,” Ford said.
Josh Giles, a spokesman for the IG’s office, said “standard procedure is we can neither confirm or deny if there is an investigation.”
Giles confirmed McCabe is an employee of the IG’s Office.
The mission of the IG’s office, according to the agency’s Website is to “prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse in government,” and includes operational and management reviews.
The investigation by the IG’s office is the latest move by Brockton residents who are fighting widespread discrepancies in water bills over the last few months--or for some over many years.
Ford said he believes, in his case, the IG’s Office is as interested as he himself is to learn how the water department gained an actual reading of his meter on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 and mailed him a bill for an actual read he calls "fraudulent."
“How did they read it,” Ford asked. “Both me and my wife were home and nobody came to the house and my meter is in the basement—does the city have employees from another planet with X-ray vision like Superman,” he said.
He received the bill in February for $11,700 and the bill claimed he used 70,000 cubic feet of water—500,000 gallons—during the dead of winter. Under normal circumstances, Ford said, his bill usually runs about $2oo per quarter for about 2,000 cubic feet of water.
“How did they read it,” Ford said. Prior to the reading, Ford said, his bills had been estimated.
Ford said he met with water department officials in March who told him his meter was read with an outside electronic device—one of the ones the city has admitted are often faulty and will be replaced over the next 18 months.
“I have proof that device hasn’t worked in years,” Ford said.
He said department employees also tried to convince him he had used 500,000 gallons of water in a three month period--suggesting he had leaks from his pool—which was not being used during the fall and winter—or possibly children playing with an outside hose, or excessive inside water use or an undetected leak in the toilet.
Ford said employees over and over told him he had been undercharged for months, possibly years, but he does not believe it.
“They’re trying to put all the responsibility on the homeowner instead of their own mismanagement,” Ford said.
Public Works Commissioner Michael Thoreson, who could not be immediately reached for comment, has said the water department is working with residents, however, Tuesday night during a meeting of the City Council Finance Committee said he could not answer why even actual bills and not estimated bills are believed to be way off.
Ward 6 City Councilor Michelle DuBois during the meeting said she is worried that the actual readings are a problem along with the estimated bills and it’s a situation that has to be looked at.
“Every day people come to me and are calling me wondering if they will get bills in the thousands somewhere down the road,” DuBois said. “This is not just an issue of estimated bills,” she said, citing numerous instances of problems related to actual bills and even homeowners who contacted the city because they had not received a water bill during the first six months of occupancy and have been dealing with the department over the problem for seven years.
To rounds of applause DuBois questioned why the city was charging people 2 or 4 or 10 years back for estimated water bills when most communities do not extend those charges so far back.
She could not be immediately reached for further comment.
City Councilor Jass Stewart said the water department and the city certainly has a public relations problem and in many of the high profile cases the water department did not act the way he'd want civil servants to act.
“A lot of things don’t make sense, and it’s clear people have lost confidence in the water department,” Stewart said.
However, he believes the process will work in the end and except in extreme instances water department officials acted appropriately, but may need more customer service training.
“We’re hearing 200 or 300 people are calling a day and when people are calling you and shouting and calling you nasty names and you’re not used to that kind of volume of calls it’s not easy,” he said. “Maybe we need to give those employees more training,” Stewart said.
Stewart said there are a myriad of problems with the situation, including the inability of the water department to gain access to the meters.
The city council is mulling a new ordinance that would allow the city into a home after a certain amount of attempts.
Also, the council Tuesday night has voted to issue a Request for Proposals for an outside auditor to review all of the problems in the water department—a process that will take at least three to four months—possibly longer.
Mayor Linda Balzotti, who wanted to hire an auditor nearly two months ago, but acceded to the City Council’s wish to have a public RFP process, said she undertstands people's frustrations because she is frustrated too.
“People want me to do something, make a decision, but I can’t do anything or make a decision without answers. The audit will give us recommendations and resolutions and until then I don’t have any answers to the questions people are asking,” she said.
In the meantime, Balzotti said residents should check their bills and continue to contact the water department if they have any discrepancies.
She emphasized residents should pay the current bill—unless it is completely out of proportion and in that case contact the water department—and await the results of the audit.
The City Council will meet Monday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. to draft the scope and charge of the RFP for the independent auditor.
In the meantime, Ford said he isn't waiting for the audit because he believes he needs outside help for his situation.
"All they're doing is CYA," Ford said.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Resurrection of Lithuanian Picnic A Success

Brockton Post
BROCKTON—Thousands of people from all over the area headed to the second coming of the return of the Lithuanian Labor Day Picnic held on the grounds of Our Lady of Sorrows Convent Monday.
“It was a great day,” said John Drusinskas, chairman of the picnic event committee.
Drusinskas and dozens of other volunteers set up and broke down tables, cleaned the grounds and made festival-goers comfortable as the throngs danced, ate kielbasa and sauerkraut and drank soda or, a Lithuanian favorite—beer.
“Valgyk,” cheered Evelynn Nevaras, who, using the Lithuanian word for eat (pronounced val—geek), implored visitors to partake of the popular food tent.
Monday’s picnic was the second in as many years after a hiatus that began in 1991. Organizers said the picnic began in 1946 and ran continuously until 1991, when the convent saw a significant decline in nuns—a negative impact in the number of volunteers to host the Lithuanian picnic.
Drusinskas said obtaining a gaming license for a “Money Wheel” or liquor license for the beer and wine really wasn’t the reason why the picnic stopped.
“It wasn’t about anything legal, or like that, it was more about not having volunteers,” he said.
Drusinkas and members of the Board of Trustees of St. Joseph Manor, a nursing home connected to Our Lady of Sorrows Convent, resurrected the picnic during last year’s Labor Day weekend, when about 4,000 people attended.
Drusinkas said last year the event committee hired an outside consultant to help run the picnic, but this year the event was wholly run by volunteers because the consultant took 40 percent of the proceeds.
“This year, all of it goes to St. Joseph Manor,” he said, adding it's the nursing home's biggest fundraiser of the year.
St. Joseph Manor has 118 residents and 60 adult day health clients.
During the event, fair-goers had the opportunity to pick which of 75 Classic Cars was their favorite, shop arts and crafts from more than 20 vendors, and dance to the polka music of nationally known and award winning band Dennis Politsky and The Maestro’s Men.
“I would say it was a success,” said Paul Arenburg, a St. Joseph Manor trustee, who volunteered to help spin the “Money Wheel,” a game of chance similar to roulette.
“Everybody had a great time,” he said.

Friday, September 3, 2010

"Spaceman" Bill Lee To Take Mound--Literally At Rox Sunday

Story by Lisa E. Crowley
Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Red Sox Hall of Fame pitcher Bill “The Spaceman” Lee will return to Brockton for a start on the mound with the Rox and he will wear an old Brockton Cardinals senior league uniform #45 in honor of Kitty Perry, a teacher at Brockton High School who died after hitting his head on a set of bleachers during a pickup game of basketball in the gym.
“He was our shortstop with the Cardinals. He died instantly. It was really tragic,” Lee, 63, said during a telephone interview from his home in Vermont Friday.
Lee, usually joking and effusive, became almost somber as he recalled playing for the Brockton Cardinals from 1993 to 1999 when he, Perry and a host of others took the diamond on a senior league baseball team that merged with another from Saskatchewan, Canada that went on to win the league championship in 1999.
“We won the championship and then we retired,” Lee said with a chuckle.
However, sadly, Lee said, Perry, who he described as a great guy, died in 1998, a year before the team won the title.
“This is my way to remember him,” Lee said.
Lee takes the mound for a 1:05 p.m. start Sunday, Sept. 5 when the Rox play the Worcester Tornadoes for the final game of the season before the playoffs.
Lee said fans should keep an eye on where the pitcher’s mound is because it might not be in the usual spot because he wants to move the mound back about 1 foot.
“They said I would be taking the mound, but they didn’t say where I was going to take it,” Lee said.
Lee said his reasoning was to neutralize the fastball of the opposing pitcher, but some might take it as preparation for his lobbing, high-arching softball-like pitch called an “eephus.” Lee reiterated it’s about the fastball.
At 63, Lee seems as tireless and flamboyant as in his pro days in Boston where he played from 1969 to 1978, setting the team’s record for most games pitched by a lefthander with 321 and was inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2008.
In 1979, Lee was traded to the Montreal Expos. He said he loves Montreal because, unlike Boston it is open until 4 a.m.
“You always knew you could get a 4 a.m. shower because the guys came out to clean the streets,” Lee said.
A California native, Lee was—and still is--as known for his powerful lefthand as for his let-it-all-hang-out attitude and penchant for outspoken liberal politics.
Lee said he can’t stand the rightwing, bible-thumping ultraconservatives, like the Tea Party group--who he said has distorted history.
"There's only one Tea Party," Lee said.
Among other things and, in part, Lee said he blames the conservatives for selling and marketing aluminum bats to youngsters—bats that can’t be used in Major League Baseball and he believes slows the growth of potentially good players.
“Wooden bats make them stronger,” Lee said.
Advice he would give youngsters on breaking into the big leagues is "move to California" or some other state that ball can be played year round, and find a mentor like Raoul Martial "Rod" Dedeaux, from Marseilles, France, who tutuored him to a draft pick out of high school.
Lee has formed a business called The Old Bat Company with a group of baseball bat-making craftsmen from the Appalachian Mountain region that sells “rock-hard” bats out of Rock maple and birch lumber.
One of their customers is Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.
Lee said at 63 he is not a role model for the senior set.
“No,” Lee said emphatically. “I’m a role model for 12-year-olds,” he said.
His advice to old, grumpy seniors is to have two shots of Tequila and stop being grumpy.
“You know those people who are over 100-years-old? You know how they got there? A glass of vodka,” Lee said.
After Sunday’s game, Lee will appear at Mulligan’s at Joe Angelo’s Café on Main Street with Rox pitching coach Ed Nottle and the Peter Jay Band for an event to raise money for the Children’s Autism Program. The cost is $25 and includes raffles and prizes.
Lee said he is looking forward to the game with the Rox and “for sure” wants to win.
Keeping a tab on the weather forecast, Lee said, before the game he will spend time at a Hurricane Earl party with friends in the Rockport-Ipswich area.
He said he has fond memories of Brockton and listed numerous names and places he holds dear.
“I know all about Brockton: Taymor Shoes; Rocky Marciano; George’s Café, Charlie Tartaglia, Billy Rodenbush--a Brockton police officer…my accountant…,” Lee said. “Brockton’s a great city and I’m looking forward to coming back,” he said.
Tickets are still available for Sunday's game and can be purchased by calling the Rox at 508-559-7070 or on the Rox website. (Top photo courtesy of Brockton Rox via Boston Globe; middle two photos from 1978 official Boston Red Sox yearbook; bottom photo courtesy The Old Bats)

Police Continue Search for East Side Bank Robber

Brockton Post
BROCKTON—Three Brockton schools were put into lockdown on the first day of school Thursday, after teams of Brockton and State Police searched for a possibly armed gunman who robbed an East Side bank earlier in the day and is still at-large.
“Actually, everything went smoothly (on opening day) until that happened,” said Joyceln Meek, spokeswoman for the school department.
A State Police spokesman said Brockton Police are continuing to investigate yesterday's robbery at Community Bank, located at 276 Quincy Ave.
School spokeswoman Meek said at about 1 p.m. yesterday police officials contacted the school to warn of the man, who was described as a white male wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt, jeans and sneakers.
Brockton Police, State Police, search dogs and a helicopter scoured a wooded area near Quincy Avenue following the 11 a.m. robbery.
Meek said police were told by a woman living in the area that she noticed a man in the neighborhood who looked as if he was carrying a black gun and fit the description of the bank robber.
Meek said officials opted to hold students who walk home from East Side, Downey and Mary E. Baker schools, instead of allowing the 700-800 youngsters to walk into areas that may have a gunman fleeing from police.
“We had to err on the side of caution,” Meek said.
Students who rode the bus were taken home as usual, Meek said, and at about 2:30 p.m. Superintendent Matthew Malone sent out an automated telephone message to 2,100 parents letting them know students who walk to school would not be allowed to leave unless parents arrived at three schools to pick them up.
Meek said at about 3:30 p.m. school resource officer Lt. Donald Mills received “the all clear” signal, and any remaining students were allowed to walk home.
Meek said students were back at school Friday morning.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gov. Candidate Baker To Visit Brockton

Brockton Post
BROCKTON--Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker will be the featured speaker for the kickoff of Metro South Chamber of Commerce's 2010-2011 season of Good Morning Metro South.
Baker, former head of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, will speak at the chamber's forum Wednesday, Sept. 22 at the Holiday Inn at the Westgate Mall.
The program begins at 7:30 a.m. and finishes at 9 a.m. Cost is $20 for chamber members, $25 for non-members.
To register contact Kim at 508-586-0500 x231, or via email at kproper@metrosouthchamber.com.
(Photo courtesy Baker campaign)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Brockton Schools Open For Most Tomorrow

Brockton Schools open Thursday, Sept. 2 for grades 1 to 12. Kindergarteners follow Wednesday Sept. 15.
For a preview of Huntington Schools' new uniforms plan, please visit the story link below.
For school bus routes, please visit this bus routes link.
Brockton Post
BROCKTON--When students at the Huntington School in Brockton return to classes in September there will be at least two noticeable differences.
The first is students will begin class one hour earlier at 8 a.m. and the second is some of their classmates will be wearing a uniform--changes which are a part of a redesign plan aimed at improving the underperforming school.
“This is one of a kind in the city,” said School Committee member Richard Bath about the uniform initiative. Read more...