Itr jan 2011


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ITR January 9th 2011

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Itr jan 2011

  1. 1. What a year it was -- turning back news pages The Lowell Sun 01/01/2011 Chelmsford- * Trinity Ambulance is investigated over EMT fraud. * Ferreira's Towing sets a state record by paying Chelmsford the most money for a tow -- $90. * The battle over the Eliopoulos building on North Road. * Local resident Roland Van Liew stirs a controversy by trying to recall Planning Board members. * Pat Wojtas is the comeback kid, first losing the elec- tion in the spring only to get the most votes in the fall special election, putting her back in the saddle again. * Superintendent of Schools Don Yeoman locks in a four-year contact in June, only to resign abruptly in October. * Chelmsford's new slogan, "Chelmsford Gets it Done" -- some loved it, others said it backfired. Read more:
  2. 2. New year means n e w e l e c t e d o ff i c i a l s i n t o w n Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter • Mon, Jan 03, 2011 You're going to need a program to keep the political players straight as Chelmsford gears up for a guar- anteed turnover of its elected boards. April 5th's Election Day may be more than three months away, but the 2011 races kicked off back in Oc- tober when Town Moderator Dennis McHugh announced he would not seek another term. McHugh served as moderator for 30 years-predating the switch from open to elected Town Meeting. In November, several office holders added their names to the retirement list. Selectman Eric Dahlberg confirmed one was enough when it comes to the town's top board. Dahlberg said he was "not going to have the time" to commit to another three-year term on the board if resi- time dents re-elected him. Although School Committee member Angie Taranto could probably have earned a fifth term on the school board, he too opted to call it quits in 2011. "It's time for me to step back and let others get a chance at it," Taranto said last fall. it, Current School Committee Chairman Kathy Duffett's term also ends in April, but she has not announced if she will run again. After four years on the Planning Board, current Vice Chairman Jim Lane said he would not seek re- election this spring. "I accomplished what I said I would do when I ran," Lane said in November. ran, Over at the Chelmsford Public Library, Trustees Eric Grove and Charlie Wojtas both decided to an- nounce their retirements in mid-November as well. Groves has served nine years on the library board while Wojtas is finishing his third year as a trustee. Current Library Board of Trustees Chairman Maggie Marshall has already confirmed she plans to seek another three years on the board. Earlier last month, Library Trustee Diane Severin resigned from her post. The Board of Selectmen and the remaining trustees plan to name someone to her seat at the next selectmen's meeting Jan. 10. In the meantime, residents interested in running for any of the other town-wide boards or Town Meeting representative positions-of which a third are up for re-election in April-can pick up nomination papers at the Town Clerk's Office later today. Nomination papers must be picked up by the potential candidate during regular Town Clerk Office hours. In order to secure a spot on the ballot for one of the town-wide boards, candidates must collect 50 certified signatures. Town Meeting rep candidates-not running for re-election-need 25 certified signatures from registered voters in the candidate's precinct. All nomination papers must be filed by 5 p.m. on Feb. 15. The last day to register to vote in the April 5 election will be Wednesday, March 16. The clerk's office will be open until 9 p.m. that day for voter registration.
  3. 3. Familiar names on Chelmsford's top earners list Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter • Mon, Jan 03, 2011 A little more than one dozen non-police employees earned six-figure salaries during fiscal year 2010 according to data recently published in the Town of Chelmsford Annual Report. Former School Superintendent Donald Yeoman remained at the top of the pay scale earning $169,537 for fiscal 2010, which ran from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010. Town Manager Paul Cohen placed second on the list earning $141,379 for the same period. Recently retired Fire Chief Jack Parow finished third on the list with a total salary of $137,014. Former Deputy Fire Chief James Sousa earned $130,647 in total compensation for the same period. Over at the Department of Public Works, four employees including DPW Director Jim Pearson made more than $100,000 in fiscal 2010. Pearson earned $126,603 but the department's top income went to Highway Department Foreman Larry Ferreira who netted $133,840. The other Highway Department Foreman, Joe Eriksen, earned $116,674. Highway Supervisor John Long earned $110,301. Although the three highway employees remained in the top earning list, each of the men's salaries dropped around $20,000 from fiscal 2009. Cohen believes last year's milder winter helped keep overtime pay lower at the highway department. Fiscal 2009, which ran from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2009, included the December 2008 ice storm and a snowy winter through early 2009, said Cohen. The remaining five top earners were current and former school department employees. Chelmsford High School Principal Anne O'Bryant earned $120,520; former Business Manager Bob Cruickshank earned $114,208; then Assistant Superintendent Frank Tiano received $110,000 in com- pensation; recently retired Technology Director Bruce Forster made $105,168; and Parker Middle School Principal Denise Rainis earned $104,205. More than two dozen Police Department employees received compensation totaling more than $100,000. Most of the police employees earn overtime pay through de- tail work. Although the town pays officers for detail work, the company or individual required to hire the detail reimburses Chelmsford.
  4. 4. How Does Chelmsford's Tax Rate Compare in the Merrimack Valley? A look at the new tax rate. By Krista Perry 1/5/11 The state Department of Revenue recently approved the town's new tax rate at $16.72 per $1,000 of home value, but how does that match up against surrounding towns? Chelmsford has a unified tax rate, which means both homes and businesses are taxed at the same rate. Town Manager Paul Cohen has said the town has had a unified tax rate for the past decade and does not expect that to change anytime soon. Selectmen made the decision to keep it the same this year so the tax rate would not adversely affect small businesses. Cohen said the value of the average single-family home has decreased from $347,659 to $324,600 for the current fiscal year. Here's a look at how the town stacks up against other municipalities. Town Tax rate per $1,000 of home value Chelmsford $16.72* $16.72 Tewksbury $13.45 Westford $15.23 Carlisle $16.13* Billerica $13.47 Tyngsborough $14.17 * * denotes a unified tax rate. ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ Library To Add Quiet Study Rooms At the request of patrons, the library will add more of these rooms. January 4, 2011 The Chelmsford Public Library will be undergoing a small renovation project starting this week. One of our frequent patron requests is for additional small study room space -- for people to either study quietly on their own, meet with a tutor, or to have a small meet- ing. The library currently has one room available for this purpose, but in order to respond to this growing need of our patrons, we'll be building three new small study rooms with internet accessibility on the library's lower level. Working with Chelmsford's Director of Public Facilities Gary Persichetti, and utilizing a combination of town employees and paid contractors, we will be able to accomplish the project (renovation and furnishings) at a very modest cost. The Board of Library Trustees have approved this project, funding it with a combination of endowment and state aid money. In difficult fi- nancial times, it is particularly gratifying that the library is able to meet user needs without requesting additional municipal funding. To make room for the new study rooms, we'll be modernizing our approach to our reference collection. There is a growing trend in public libraries to interfile reference titles with the regular circulating collection. We will integrate a large portion of our heavily-used reference materials into the regular library stacks and de-accession titles that are now available via the Internet and in our on-line databases. With this change, many reference titles will now be available for circulation for one week. This also addresses a growing need of patrons to use library materials in their own homes, instead of in the library. The shorter loan period (one week instead of three weeks) will also mean the material will still spend time on the library shelves, and thus be available when people need it. We will still have a small collection of non-circulating reference books, such as encyclopedias, which will be housed on index tables where some of the reference shelves currently are. We'll also use these index tables to highlight certain subject areas, such as genealogy, career resources, and auto repair, that are sometimes hard to find in the regular circulating collection. Also, these additional tables will increase the seating space for wireless access, a service need that has greatly increased in the last year. We'll be moving things around for the next few months to accommodate both the renovation and the new loca- tions of items. Hopefully patrons will pardon the transition, and will enjoy the new study space and access to the collection when it is completed. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to talk to the reference staff, library trustees or to Becky Herrmann, Library Director.
  5. 5. CHELMSFORD ON ICE The Community Ice Project Neighbors, A big "thank you" to all the volunteers who came out to the Mac- Farlin softball field this past Sunday (19 December) to help with the construction of Phase I of Chelmsford's outdoor ice rink. Despite the cold weather, more than 10 people joined in--many others stopping by to offer their support. Together, as a team, we will make this project a success. I am grateful for the outstanding support. The following list highlights the hands-on volunteers who supported last Sunday's Phase I build (alphabetical by last name): Jeff Apostolakes Alex Buck Alex Earley Roy Earley Mike Gillette (Construction Lead) Paul McDougall Dave Melanson Santiago Rios Phil Stanway Brian Taranto Jay Taranto Jim Tribou Phase II details: We will undertake Phase II of this project (our final construction phase) this coming week, after the rink's plastic lining ar- rives in Chelmsford. As things currently stand, this item is scheduled for de- livery on Wednesday, 29 December. With this in mind, we'll look to commence with Phase II this Thursday, 30 December, at 9:00am. If issues arise with the delivery of our plastic lining, I will send out an e-mail no later than Wednesday evening dis- cussing Thursday's events. Conversely, if our lining arrives prior to Wednesday, I will keep everyone posted on our way-ahead via e-mail. Maintenance: The biggest challenge we face--with regard to this project--is rink maintenance throughout the winter season. We're looking for a coalition of volunteers willing to step-up and help out with this portion of the effort. Photos by Scoop & Phil Stanway
  6. 6. We need your help! Mike Gillette ( will serve as the rink Maintenance Coordinator throughout the month of Janu- ary. Small maintenance teams will be formed (2-3 personnel) to oversee the maintenance actions throughout a week- long period of time. All-in-all, this season's maintenance effort will be broken down into eight primary chunks: 8-14 January, 15-21 January, 22-28 January, 29 January-4 February, 5-11 February, 12-18 February, CAPTAIN 19-25 February, PHILIP and 26 February-4 March. COHEN Maintenance actions will include the following tasks: rink snow removal, ice "mow- ing," and ice resurfacing (we will mow/resurface the ice every other day, or as determined by the Maintenance Coordinator). Please let me know if you would like to volunteer. Donation support: Thanks to a few generous residents, we've gathered approximately $1,000 in support of this project. This is an outstanding milestone; however, we're looking to raise $5,000 before the month of January is out. This money will be used to procure maintenance equipment and to sustain this project for years to come. Sean Kenny has done an outstanding job as our Fundraising Lead. Please see below for donation instructions concerning our Sponsorship Program. Please spread the word! Opening Day is still scheduled for Saturday, 1 January. Further specifics will be distributed via e-mail and through the town's local media out- lets this week. ...and, if you've made it this far, thanks for reading! I appreciate your support very much. Most Sincerely, Phil //SIGNED// PHILIP J. COHEN Director, The Community Ice Project Cell: 719-439-8489 Photos by Scoop & Phil Stanway
  7. 7. Outdoor ice rink gains traction  in Chelmsford By Rita Savard, 12/26/2010 CHELMSFORD -- A simple sheet of ice. Phil Cohen said he believes it can bring a community together. "I grew up playing ice hockey and spent a lot of time on out - door rinks," Cohen said. rinks "I was struck by the camaraderie these rinks evoked." evoked. So when winter's chill hit the air this year, Cohen said the time is now. He put out a call for help on Facebook, a page named "I Support Chelmsford on Ice." Within a week he Ice had 100 friends. Donations and volunteers snowballed, and now the town's first outdoor ice rink is underway. If weather cooperates, the ice at MacFarlin Park softball field should be open for skating by next Saturday. Not bad for a guy that hasn't laced up his skates in about ten years. "I don't even own skates anymore," he said. "This effort has been about the kids but I may have anymore, to throw some skates on now." now. Cohen, an Air Force captain, grew up in Philadelphia. He attended a preparatory high school in Vermont and after graduating, packed his bags for Minnesota to play Junior A hockey in the United States Hockey League. After about five months, he was traded to the only Canadian team in the league. It was living in Minnesota and Canada that opened his eyes to the importance of outdoor, community-run rinks. They help build and nurture "new and meaningful" friendships," Cohen meaningful said. He and his wife, Jess, moved to Chelmsford in April 2009. His idea of creat- ing an outdoor rink in town has already brought many neighbors together. Phil & Jess The biggest gift, about $1,000, came by way of Jay and Brian Taranto. The Cohen Tarantos gave the lumber needed to complete the first phase of the rink. Mike Gillette, who works in construction and is also Cohen's friend and neighbor, offered his building expertise. Local dentist Michael Sargent contributed a $500 gift. Several more Chelmsford residents have contributed $10 to $25. Every donation counts, said Cohen. Support Chelmsford on Ice has raised about $1,000 of its $5,000 goal. The money will not only help maintain the rink once it's completed, but ensure its return in winters that follow. "I'm just so grateful for the support of so many people in town," Cohen said. "The ice rink has been a real community town, effort and I hope it will help make a lot of memories for people in town for many winters to come." come. To make a donation to the ice rink effort, checks can be made out to the Town of Chelmsford with "community ice project" written in the memo line, and sent to Town Offices, 50 Billerica Road, Chelmsford, MA 01826. For more informa- tion and project details, visit the "I Support Chelmsford on Ice" Ice Facebook page. Photos by Tom Christiano & Scoop
  8. 8. ON  THIN   ICE Clearing the rink after the blizzard Laying down the plastic Just add water an Chill Photos by Tom Christiano & Phil Stanway
  9. 9. Friends, First, I'd like to say thank you to all those who supported Phase II of our rink build this past Thursday, 30 December. The following individuals put in a great amount of time and effort to make Phase II a success (alphabetical by last name)--THANK YOU: Alex Buck David McLachlan Barry Moore Brian Ross John Smith Brian Taranto Jay Taranto *Others stopped by to offer kind words of support--thank you! I'd also like to say thank you to those who have supported this effort monetarily (alphabetical listing): Tom Christiano Dr. & Mrs. Alden Gagnon Express Sign & Graphics Harrington Wine & Liquor Horizon Air Services Inc. Sean & Jill Kenny Robert & Susan Lippman Frances McDougall David & Jean McLachlan Nancy Rogers Michael Sargent Jay & Brian Taranto Thomas & Michelle Thornton John Tubridy Elizabeth Twombly Zesty's Pizza Due to unseasonably high temperatures, we were unable to open the rink this past weekend; however, weather permitting, our tentative Opening Day is currently scheduled for Saturday, 8 January. As many of you know, I will be heading to Alabama for about a month with the military. Jay Taranto ( & will be taking over as Project Lead while I'm away, and will be "honcho-ing" our Opening Day proceedings. As the week progresses, Jay will provide applicable status updates to this group and our local media outlets. John Smith ( has graciously accepted the role of Lead Maintenance Coordinator for this project. Mike Gillette ( will serve as John's deputy. In his role as Lead Maintenance Coordinator, John will oversee all of the rink's maintenance and sustainment actions. As discussed in previous e-mails, we're still looking for a coalition of volunteers willing to be "on call" for rink maintenance actions throughout the season. Maintenance actions will include the following tasks: rink snow removal, ice resurfacing, and area clean-up (the rhythm of these actions will be determined by the Lead Maintenance Coordinator). If you'd like to volunteer, please reach out to John Smith and Mike Gillette. This has been, and will continue to be, a true team effort. Thank you to all those who have stepped up to support this project. I am indebted. Enjoy the ice! Most Sincerely, Phil PHILIP J. COHEN Director, The Community Ice Project Cell: 719-439-8489
  10. 10. Community Ice Project Hoping for Cold Volunteers Jay Taranto and John Smith say the community ice rink scheduled to open on Jan. 15. By Julia Gavin 1/6/10 If you've visited the center of town in the last few weeks, you've probably noticed a new addition to the landscape of McFarlin Softball Field: an ice skating rink just waiting to be used. "Now it's just Mother Nature fighting us," said John Smith, us, Lead Maintenance Coordinator for the Community Ice Project. Unseasonably warm weather has delayed the opening of the rink for a few weeks as anxious skaters wait for several inches of water to become ice. The opening events are now scheduled for Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. "We're watching the weather closely," said Jay Taranto, who is coordinating closely, the activities while Project Director Captain Phil Cohen is in Alabama for a month of military duty. The idea for a community ice skating rink came to Cohen in mid-November. Cohen recently moved to the town with his wife, Jessica, and wanted to bring the sense of camaraderie he found on the ice as a hockey player to his new home. He sent out an email to neighbors and friends to gauge interest and it's been a whirlwind of activity ever since. "We worked two weekends straight," Taranto said. "Some volunteers had helped set up similar rinks, so we all compared straight, what we knew and chose what seemed to work best." best. Taranto has been involved since the first meeting and was instrumental in getting the rink built. He said that hockey is in his blood and played the sport from the age of 4 in Chelmsford. Taranto said that Cohen's idea has already created a community around the project. "My favorite part has been seeing all of the community involvement and all of the volunteer support," Taranto said. support, "I've also met lots of great new people and I'm enjoying the sense of camaraderie." camaraderie. Many of the volunteers have already put several hours of their own time into the project and are expecting to help more once the rink is opened. Smith and Taranto both said that volunteers and donations are still welcome for the project. "Once the rink opens," Smith said, "we'll need funds to opens cover gas for the equipment, people to help with rink maintenance, and volunteers to enforce the rules and schedule." schedule Smith, an active member of Chelmsford Open Space Stewardship, knew he could help after hearing of the rink's need for snow-clear- ing equipment. He has donated the use of his equipment and many hours of his time. "The day after a snowstorm," Smith said, "we'll want the snowstorm, rink clear, so hopefully my equipment can save some backs." backs Both men are looking forward to seeing the results of the volunteer crew's hard work when the rink opens. The rink will have a schedule and equipment for skaters of all ages and abilities to join in the fun. “My biggest hope is that people use the rink once it's frozen and have a great time," said Taranto. "I'm looking forward to seeing the rink as part of Winterfest and continuing to help the Chelmsford community." community. Smith also said he's looking forward to seeing people on the rink and is already thinking about next year. He would like to see improvements made to the rink equipment and a process put in place to make it easier to put up and down. "I'd really like to see it continue," said Smith. "It can be like a block party- you do it one year, everyone has fun, and then you pass it to another neighbor for the next year." If you would like to donate to the Community Ice Proj- ect, checks are currently being handled by the town until the project obtains 501c(3) status. Checks may be made out to the Town of Chelmsford with the note "ice rink" on the memo line. Any funds received in this way will be considered tax-deductible gifts to the town but will go toward the ice rink. Checks can be sent to the town hall at 50 Billerica Road, Chelmsford, MA 01824. If you would like to donate your time to the project, please contact John Smith at (978) 580-0170. Photos by Julia Gavin
  11. 11. WAT C H D O G   A L E R T ! A CRACK IN THE ICE VANDALS  HIT ICE RINK ITR ● 1/8/11 Friday night sometime after 11 PM the locked gate to the feild was kicked in and vandals broke areas of the ice and threw chunks of asphalt on it.The Ice crew were able to clean off most of the rink and will be trying to repair some of the cracks that occurred Friday night from the vandals going on the ice. The Community Ice Project is reaching out to the Chelmsford Police Department and all of you to help report any suspicious activity at the rink, especially at night.
  12. 12. Public Meeting Notice of Cleanup Alternatives Analysis Town of Chelmsford, 27 Katrina Road, Chelmsford, MA On Monday, December 10, 2010, the Town of Chelmsford will hold a public meeting, at 7:30 pm 2010 in Room 204 of the Town Offices, 50 Billerica Road, to discuss the draft Analysis of Brownfields Road Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) for 27 Katrina Road (the former “Silicon Transitor site”) and hear public comments. The ABCA is available for a 30 day public review and comment period and is available for review at the Community Development Office, located at 50 Billerica Road, during business hours (Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.) and the Town’s webpage at The spokesperson for the Town is Evan Belansky, Community Development Director, who can be reached by phone at (978) 244-3341, via email at , or by mail at Chelmsford Community Development Department, 50 Billerica Road, Chelmsford, MA 01824. The Town has hired Nobis Engineering of Lowell, MA to complete the alternatives analysis and develop a plan for site cleanup. Comments on the draft Alternatives Analysis may be made at the public meeting or submitted in writing to Mr. Belansky From: "Belansky, Evan" <EBelansky@TownofChelmsford.US> Date: January 4, 2011 9:02:57 AM EST To: Roy Earley <>, Colleen Stansfield <> Subject: FW: Chelmsford Brownfields - 27 Katrina Road - EPA clean up Grant - public meeting - January 10 at 7:30 pm As you may recall, per the Town's EPA brownfields clean up grant for Katrina Road, the Westlands Watchdog Neighbor- hood Association agreed to serve as a community based organization by helping post community outreach material on their websites and newsletters and participate in public meetings. On Monday, January 10, 2011, at 7:30 pm, as part of the regularly scheduled BOS meeting, the Town will hold a public meeting and provide a 30-day public comment period on the Analysis of Brownfields Cleanup Alternatives (ABCA) to provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions and comment. Please distribute this email accordingly and contact me if you have any questions. Evan Belansky Chelmsford Community Development Director
  13. 13. Resident sued as 9 North Road fallout continues By Monica Jimenez/staff writer GateHouse News Service Dec 27, 2010 Chelmsford — Chelmsford resident Roland Van Liew is suing resident Frances McDougall for putting his address and phone number online and suggesting people contact him. This move brought him harassing letters and calls, claims Van Liew, who is suing McDougall for $100,000. He first brought up her name when he called for an investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in early November, accusing her Fran and several town officials of intimidating voters in the Nov. 4 election. Van Liew McDougall claimed their efforts stymied his petition to recall two Planning Board members, whom he had condemned for approving a controversial development at 9 North Road. Although McDougall didn’t physically approach voters or interfere with petitioners on election day, Van Liew claims she caused him personal harm simply by saying what she did online. Van Liew’s address and phone number are publicly listed and McDougall’s online remarks, posted in the comment section of a local blog, didn’t explicitly instruct people to harass him. In those comments, she pointed out Van Liew has long sent mailings to residents’ homes and those residents might think about returning the favor. But McDougall refrained from defending herself in a phone interview Monday morning, saying she hesitates to speak without the advice of her lawyer. She revealed her unhappiness with most media coverage of this matter, which included her among those accused of voter intimidation although she never went to the polls that day. McDougall did suggest Van Liew’s suit says more about his state of mind than about herself. Roland Van Liew “After all that’s gone on, after all the different people he’s chosen to be in his previous paperwork, he chose the elderly grand - mother two days before Christmas,” McDougall said. “I’m disappointed and saddened that Christmas, another human being would do something like this.” this. Still, McDougall doesn’t view herself as such an easy target. “You don’t know how angry this old lady gets,” she laughed. Then she corrected herself: gets, “I should be serious about this.” this. Van Liew declined to comment. McDougall’s summons gives her 20 days to respond to his accusations, after which the matter goes to court. Copyright 2010 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  14. 14. North Road Lawyer to defend Nana ITR Facebook●1/3/11 Fran McDougall Philip Eliopoulos Philip Eliopoulos of North Road fame and former Selectmanhas agreed to be Fran McDougall’s lawyer and de- fend her against the lawsuit brought forth by Roland Van Liew and his lawyer Richard McClure. Van Liew is seeking $100,000 from McDougall 73, a retired school teacher and grandmother to eight grandkids, alleging that Fran inten- tionally caused him severe emotional distress resulting in physical harm by posting his home phone number and Richard McClure Roland Van Liew address on the ChelmsfordMass- blog. "I look forward to bringing to light that the allegations against Fran, are baseless ." Eliopoulos said "Clearly this suit is nothing more than an attempt to intimidate those who disagree with Van Liews tactics. It is to bad he chose a wonderful woman like Fran whom we all respect to make this point. " When asked for a comment for the ITR on the situation Fran McDougall had this to say "This will be remembered as a very sad time in our town's political history. We have always been a better place in which to live than what these individuals have tried to depict. "
  15. 15. Resident sues 9 North Road attorney By Monica Jimenez/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 04, 2011 Chelmsford — Chelmsford resident Roland Van Liew has filed suit against resident and attorney Phil Eliopoulos in Middlesex Superior Court, claiming Eliopoulos made statements that harmed his reputation and possibly his business. Van Liew recently asked the state Office of Bar Counsel to investigate Eliopoulos’s practice of law while town boards were considering a project on 9 North Road. Previously, Van Liew urged the U.S. Attorney’s Office to look into the behavior of some town officials during an election, saying they discouraged voters from signing his petition to recall two Planning Board members. This more personal action comes on the heels of a summons resident Fran McDougall received around Christmas – Van Liew has alleged she brought him harassing calls and letters by posting his address and phone number online. “Since October, 2009, the plaintiff, Roland Van Liew, has been an outspoken and public critic [of the 9 North Road development,” reads Van Liew’s latest suit. development, Eliopoulos is quoted publicly calling Van Liew a liar, which Van Liew is calling defamation. He argues fewer people would want to deal with him after hearing him described as dishonest. “The defendant, Philip Eliopoulos, knew at the time he made said defamatory statements that such statements would damage the plaintiff’s reputation in the community and/or deter third persons from associating or dealing with him,” him, reads the text. Eliopoulos has a low opinion of Van Liew’s latest lrgal salvo. “With all the people Mr. Van Liew has maligned in our town over the last several years,I find all of his recent legal actions against our residents to be lacking of all credibility much like all of his past mailings . ” Eliopoulos said. “This is just another attempt by him to try to intimidate those who speak out against his tactics. I am cofident the evidence will show that he has in fact lied in numerous occassions in his mailings.” mailings. He also expressed skepticism about the economic damage Van Liew suggested he experienced. “I look forward to reviewingduring this lawsuit all of Mr. Van Liew’s business records from the last several years to see if in fact he has suffered any loss in business as he so claims,”Eliopoulos said. claims, Van Liew stuck to his statement, pointing outhe’s been questioning the town’s decision-making for the past three years. “During this time, Philip Eliopoulos has used personal attacks, false statements, slander, and libel to counter dissent over the project,” he said. “He’s effectively derailed formal inquiry to date,and used defamation to successfully deflect project, news analysis away from him and other town officials and onto me, a private resident.” resident. Van Liew added the outcomeof the suit isn’t significant solely to him.”The defamation lawsuitis not, just about my rights, but the rights of every person to be able to voice their concerns when something isn’t right in their community.” community. Van Liew said. Attorney Richard McClure, who signs off on the document, is representing Van Liew in this suit and in his action against McDougall. McClure is also waiting on the results of his own action – a few months ago, he filed a lawsuit in state court accusing town boards of not properly informing the public about the 9 North Road project. Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved Philip Eliopoulos Architects' Rendering of 9 North Road
  16. 16. 9 North Road deposition approaches By Monica Jimenez/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 06, 2011 Chelmsford — New information on a development at 9 North Road in Chelmsford may come to light tomorrow morning. Today, Jan. 6, a state land court denied Epsilon LLC’s request for a protective order blocking the deposition of an Eastern Bank employee involved in the sale of the 9 North Road property. Hours later, counsel for Epsilon requested the court re- consider granting the protective order. The request for reconsideration is still pending, but as of now the deposition will occur as planned Friday, Jan. 8, at 10 a.m. Attorney Richard McClure, who is suing Epsilon and a number of town officials for not properly notifying the public about the 9 North Road project, said Epsilon’s actions show how badly they want to keep the deposition of Eastern Bank’s Sen- ior Vice President of Corporate Operations Frank Dunn, from being heard. McClure said he’s been pushing to hear Dunn’s deposition for three weeks because he believes it can reveal why the 9 North Road property, which Town Manager Paul Cohen has said he was eyeing for a new Center Fire Station in February and March of 2009, ultimately went to Epsilon. On Wednesday, Jan. 5, counsel for Epsilon argued Dunn shouldn’t have to give a deposition because Eastern Bank has done its part by submitting documents subpoenaed by McClure. McClure, who also attended the hearing, insisted the deposition is necessary because Dunn’s testimony will complete the story started in the documents. Furthermore, McClure argued, if Epsilon had a problem with the deposition, the company should have said something three weeks ago, not two days before Dunn was scheduled to speak. McClure believes Epsilon’s actions indicate the company is hiding a conflict of interest. Philip Eliopoulos has been repre- senting Epsilon in the company’s efforts to buy the property and has become the target of sharp public criticism because, at the time sale of the property was being discussed, held a seat on the Board of Selectmen. “I think there was a conflict of interest and it will become clear tomorrow,” McClure said. tomorrow, For his part, Eliopoulos denies there was a conflict. According to Eliopoulos, Eastern Bank was not entertaining compet- ing proposals from Epsilon and the town for the 9 North Road property. He said the bank had been discussing the sale of the property with his father, Michael Eliopoulos, owner of Epsilon LLC, as early as fall 2008 and had come to an agree- ment to sell the land to Epsilon that same year. When the town did express interest in 9 North Road the following year, he continued, he himself was not part of the pro- ceedings. “I was not involved in or privy to those discussions,” Eliopoulos said. discussions, Cohen agreed, saying Eliopoulos was absent from the Board of Selectmen exec- utive session when acquiring 9 North Road was discussed and was leaving the board by the time the town was told the property would go to Epsilon. Any conflict of interest was avoided, Cohen said. Cohen also said Dunn made it clear from the beginning that 9 North Road, specifically the Emerson house, had been promised to Epsilon. The town, seek- ing only the portion of the property behind the fire station, stopped pursuing the plan when Epsilon clarified its intention to build offices on the land. “We have no concern that would warrant sending someone to the hearing on the protective order or to the deposition,” Cohen said. deposition, Cohen said he believes Dunn will dispel McClure’s theories that Eliopoulos was using his position as a town official to Epsilon’s benefit and that the town was of- fered 9 North Road for free. Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved Where’s Judge Judy when you need her?
  17. 17. 9 North deposition keeps disagreements going Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter • Sat, Jan 08, 2011 Attorney Richard McClure believes yesterday's deposition of an Eastern Bank official shows town officials acted to benefit Epsilon Group LLC and former Selectman Phil Eliopoulos in the purchase of 9 North Road. "Based on the deposition testimony of Thomas Dunn yesterday, I must insist that the BOS demand Paul Cohen's immediate resignation, " McClure wrote in an e- mail Saturday morning. In a later phone interview, McClure said Dunn, Eastern Bank's senior vice president of corporate oper- ations, testified he never believed an agreement with Epsilon Group LLC was a legitimate offer. Richard McClure "He never thought the signed agreement with Eliopoulos was valid," said McClure. valid, "There was no price on it and there was enough verbiage that either party could walk away." away. During his deposition Friday, Dunn reportedly stated he contacted Town Manager Paul Cohen in December 2008 to see if the town would be interested in purchasing the property at 9 North Road, said McClure. "He calls Cohen and tells him, 'we don't want the land or Emerson House,'" said McClure. House, "He offers it to the town." town. According to McClure, Dunn did not discuss price with Cohen. Dunn also described Cohen's response to the offer as luke- warm, said McClure. Dunn went on to say Cohen never responded to the initial offer, said McClure. A few months later, said McClure, Dunn contacted Cohen again. "At that point, Cohen said the town might be interested in the tiny parking lot behind the fire station that firefighters use," said McClure. "At that point Dunn said, 'forget it.'" it. But that's not how Cohen remembers it. "The first time I know about the land was through Hank Houle," Cohen said Saturday. Houle, "Dunn never called me." me. According to Cohen, Fire Capt. Houle first approached the town manager about the bank's interest in unloading the property. At that point Cohen said he contacted Dunn to discuss the North Road parcel but was told the bank was in talks with a po- tential buyer. Cohen then asked Dunn if the bank would be willing to discuss selling a portion of the land behind the Center Fire Station to the town. But the buyer, Epsilon Group, expressed interest in the entire parcel. "Their story keeps changing. First, they say the land was offered to the town for free, " said Cohen. "They continue to twist and turn the facts. It's a fabrication of history with 20/20 hindsight. " McClure wants to know why Cohen would not consider an offer to purchase the land behind the Center Fire Station when that property was initially included as a potential location for a new station. "In the interim, the fire station study report had a red line through the North Road site," said McClure. site, "Who did that? The bank would have sold it to the town. There's no doubt in my mind that Cohen acted to behoove Eliopoulos." Eliopoulos. Cohen said that is not true. He did not attend any of the original meetings of the Fire/DPW study group, said Cohen. Nor did he know anyone was interested in purchasing the Emerson House and the adjacent property from the bank. "Where's the conflict of interest?" said Cohen. "I don't see the contradiction. interest? This isn't about the land but a continued attack on town officials." officials. Paul Cohen
  18. 18. E - v o t i n g c o u l d b e k e y t o To w n M e e t i n g Representatives' positions would become public record By Rita Savard, 12/25/2010 CHELMSFORD -- Traditional New England democracy might get a 21st century makeover as officials mull bringing electronic voting to Town Meeting. By punching votes in on a hand-held keypad system, the names of individual Town Meeting representatives would appear on a pro- jection screen along with how they voted. Town Manager Paul Cohen said the $10,000 system would create a public record of indi- vidual votes for the first time in town history. A handful of Town Meeting representatives said yesterday they like the idea because it would hold the town's legislative body ac- countable. Although each representative is required to sign in at every meeting, there is no way of telling when a person arrives to vote or when a person leaves. There are 162 elected representatives in Chelmsford, but according to Town Clerk Betty Delaney, none of the four Town Meetings held this year had a full house. "I don't know who would oppose electronic voting," said Laurie Myers, a representative in Precinct 6. voting, "I've seen people leave early all the time. It's our responsibility to be there. We ran, we're elected and we're supposed to sit through it. It's how it goes." goes. The electronic voting system, based on the Microsoft Powerpoint computer pro- gram, would display votes on a projection screen as soon as they are cast. Voting history, said Cohen, would be saved and retrieved online. Besides transparency, Cohen said electronic voting would also help move Town Meeting along at a steadier pace, eliminating the need for manual head counts during votes that are too close to call by a show of raised tickets. According to the Massachusetts Municipal Association, 298 of the state's 351 com- munities have the traditional board of selectmen and Town Meeting, with an admin- istrative assistant to take care of day-to-day issues; 40 communities have a mayor and town council; seven have a manager and a council; and three have a so-called "strong" mayor and city council. Cambridge, Lowell and Worcester have a ceremonial mayor with no operational power, putting authority in the hands of the city manager and the city council. While Chelmsford officials are content with a representative Town Meeting form of government, some say the 200-year-old tradition could benefit from a little modern technology. "I think it's great because it will give the public an idea how their representatives are voting," voting, said Deborah Dery, of Precinct 6. According to Chelmsford bylaws, Town Meeting representatives are required to attend more than 50 percent of the meetings. Out of this year's four meetings, 18 representatives missed two or more meetings and have received notices in the mail, according to the town clerk. They have until Jan. 25 to meet with Delaney and the town moderator to offer a valid reason for their absences, or they will be re- lieved from their duties. While Cohen said he's received some positive feedback from representatives, he realizes the price tag could pose a problem. Dennis Ready, of Precinct 8, said he likes the idea of electronic voting, but believes there are ways of making the system more cost- effective, such as sharing it with other towns. "Town Meetings are held on different days in different communities," Ready said. "You're talking about using it communities, three or four times a year. If we shared it with other towns, our cost would be much less." less. Jeff Hardy, of Precinct 6, said that while he doesn't have a problem with electronic voting, he thinks others might. "It could discourage some people from running if they have to answer for every vote they take," Hardy said. "I can take, see some people being concerned with having their record scrutinized." Other representatives don't think that's necessarily a bad idea. "It would quiet those who think Town Meeting is just a rubber stamp for the Board of Selectmen," Myers said. Selectmen, CLICK HERE Adopting electronic voting requires approval for a one-time appropriation from Town Meeting, as for SLIDE SHOW well as an amendment to the Town Meeting bylaw to incorporate the system. PRESENTATION The measure will most likely appear on the spring Town Meeting warrant, Cohen said.
  19. 19. Back to drawing board for a possible new fire station By Rita Savard, 12/29/2010 CHELMSFORD -- As the new year rolls in, so will a new plan for a modernized Center Fire Station. Voters overwhelmingly rejected a $12 million fire station headquarters in October 2009, along with a $13 million proposal to relocate the Department of Public Works. But after a cheaper, scaled-down plan for the DPW was approved just six months later in April, officials are back at the drawing board for another fire station proposal. "We're still in a favorable construction market, but at some point that's going to recede and building will become more expensive," said Town Manager Paul Cohen. "We'd like to have expensive, a plan put together by the end of January. That will give ample time for public input be - fore the spring Town Meeting." Meeting. Revised plans will aim to keep the cost under $10 million, especially after the previous $12 million proposal was hard for voters to swallow, Cohen said. "Taxes aren't going down and a lot of people are still out of work," resident Michael Phinney work, said. "Town officials have to learn to live within their means." means. But supporters of a new fire station headquarters said the current building on North Road has been neglected for far too long. Built in 1952, the station was designed to serve a population of 10,000. Since then the town has grown to about 33,000 residents with the fire department responding annually to about 5,000 calls. When the town recently had to purchase a new ladder truck, taxpayers ended up paying $150,000 more for a smaller vehicle that would fit through the station's garage doors, according to former Chelmsford Fire Chief Jack Parow. During several open-house tours of the station prior to the 2009 vote, the public was invited into the base- ment that also doubles as the firefighters' locker room. Residents saw rows of wooden support braces hoisting up the basement ceiling, and a giant net hanging above heads to catch falling pieces of concrete. When a new headquarters was shot down, the town spent about $40,000 on floor repairs to "buy some more time," Cohen said. time, "But it's not a permanent solution," he added. solution, With new plans under way, officials are still eyeing the Little League fields now at the corner of Wilson and Chelmsford streets and expanding the current site on North Road. The parcel across the street from St. Mary's Church, also on North Road, is also on their radar, Cohen said. "There's no question that a headquar - ters needs to remain in the center of town," he added. town, "We're looking at all possible locations there." there.
  20. 20. Another new plan for Center Fire Station in works Kevin Zimmerman/Staff Reporter • Tue, Jan 04, 2011 The Permanent Building Committee voted to pursue a plan that would keep the Center Fire Station on North Road-just a little bit closer to Interstate 495-at its session Tuesday night. Committee Co-Chairman Pat Maloney presented a plan to the committee that would have the town pur- chase two buildings currently owned by St. Mary's Church, move them across the street onto Rodger Currie's land and then turn the church properties into the new Chelmsford Fire Department Headquarters. "The town was approached by St. Mary's Parish , " said Maloney. "They are looking to put a parish hall on as an addition and they need funding. " Architects' Rendering of new Parish center Although plans remain in the early stages, Maloney expects the town to spend about $9 million on the pro- posal. That would allow the town to purchase St. Mary's classroom building, the white building next to the church, and another structure the church owns on the corner of Crosby Lane and North Road. Both buildings are more than 75 years old, the classroom building was constructed in 1815, said Maloney. Getting approval to demolish each structure would be difficult, he added. Nine million dollars would also cover the costs of constructing a new fire station and demolishing the cur- rent North Road facility, said Maloney. Phase Two of the proposal would utilize Community Preservation Funds to purchase the Currie property. The two church buildings would be moved across the street to that land and converted into affordable housing units, said Maloney. He believes Chelmsford Housing Director David Hedison would either team up with the CPC for the neces- sary funding to turn the St. Mary's buildings into housing. Hedison, however, might be able to fund the con- version through housing grants, said Maloney. Phase Three of the plan would require the Chelmsford Library to pay to move the Dutton House from its current location to 7 North Road—the site of the current Fire HQ. The town would pay to pour a new Dutton House foundation, said Maloney. "David Hedison would take that building over," said Maloney. "He would move the Housing over, Authority's office over to that building. That would open up eight units of affordable hous - ing at Wilson Street." Street. Maloney recognized some residents may question why the town should spend money on land for a fire sta- tion when it already owns the parcel at Chelmsford and Wilson streets. He points to the recently adopted Master Plan that calls for that parcel to be left alone for future economic development. It also does not make sense to build on what is currently open space, said Maloney. The St. Mary's proposal would also allow the fire department to remain close to its current home. Firefight- ers are part of the Fourth of July activities and Christmas celebrations on North Road, but that would not be the case on Wilson Street, said Maloney. "Not building on current open space is a good thing. Preserving future economic develop - ment is a good thing," said Maloney. "Keeping the fire station as part of its community is a thing, good thing." thing Maloney wanted the Permanent Building Committee to "buy into" the proposal to allow officials to bring the plan to spring Town Meeting and the April ballot. "There's a long, long way to go before we can say this project is totally viable," viable, said Maloney. "We think it is. It's a way to put to bed a lot of issues along that stretch (of North Road) and to give us a much needed fire station." station.
  21. 21. Chelmsford church chided for handicapped ramp By Monica Jimenez/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 04, 2011 Chelmsford — A new handicapped-access ramp in front of Saint Mary’s Church in Chelmsford is being criticized for compromising the look of the building’s facade. The 34-foot steel ramp, located to the left of the main doors, doubles back in a U-shape and has black railings. Built by a Billerica company, the ramp was in- stalled to provide handicapped access to the church after a few too many parishioners got trapped in the building’s balky elevator. Members of the town Historic District Commission rep- rimanded Saint Mary’s staff member Paul Firicano, who serves the church in many capacities – including busi- ness manager – for ruining the building’s historical aes- thetic. “It looks like something you’d see while waiting in line for the Ferris wheel,” wheel, said Jack Handley. Cynthia Acheson said she would have preferred a ramp at the side of the building instead of in front – or better yet, a ramp in which the Historic District Commission had a say. She chided Firicano for not coming to the commission before changing the appearance of the building. Firicano said the ramp is a temporary solution and will be removed in two or three years. In the spring, church personnel will try to mitigate the visual impact of the ramp by placing soil in front of it and plant- ing something green. Firicano explained the ramp must be up for at least two years because leaders at Saint Mary’s are con- ducting a feasibility study for a new parish center, plans for which involve installing a new elevator. It looks doable so far, but getting the project approved will be a lengthy process. For now, Firicano said, a metal ramp is the best the church can do. A wooden ramp would cost twice as much, while re-grading the parking lot to slope up to the front door would be time-consuming as well as costly. They vainly sought a parishioner with carpentry skills to do some work for free, but none was available. A lack of funds has affected Saint Mary’s Church in other ways. Its front steps are decaying and its well pump is broken, meaning the sprinkler system is down and the vegetation is suffering. Handley said front grounds look terrible. Firicano agreed the grounds didn’t look appealing. “It’s sad because we’ve always prided ourselves on looking beautiful,” he said. beautiful The Historic District Commission sympathized with the church’s financial plight and finally voted to allow the ramp to stay for six more months, as it’s particularly needed in the winter. They plan to revisit the matter in June. In the meantime, commission members will want to review possible plans for Saint Mary’s new parish center. Looking at a depiction of the new elevator, Acheson commented the shaft was too square and modern-looking. Firicano assured her it could be changed. “Just come to us first,” Acheson said. first Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  22. 22. Submitted by Tom Christiano Letter 2010 CHELMSFORD CITIZENS to the Editor Unedited OF THE YEAR In an effort to thank and recognize a few of the public spirited citizens of Chelmsford, the panelists and host of the most recent "Politically Incorrect" Cable TV Show have selected the following individuals as our 2010 CHELMSFORD CITIZENS OF THE YEAR. Because of space limitations I will only mention a few of their many ac- complishments and volunteer activities. For a more complete description of all that they have done for our town and country please tune in to the current "Politically Incorrect" TV Show. A link to the show video can be found on my Facebook Wall. (and below) ROY EARLEY devotes many hours every week to his “In-Town Report” newsletter. This is a free, non-profit, electronic pub- lication all about the town of Chelmsford, and it includes: original photographs of our local events; links to videos of selected cable TV Shows & town meetings; original stories; and a compilation of articles from other local publications. Roy also is: the founder of the Westlands Watchdogs (a neighborhood protection group); an open space Steward; a manager of at least two Facebook Groups about our town; and an elected Town Meeting Representative. MARY FRANTZ was an elected member of the Chelmsford School Committee for nine years, including two years as Chair- woman; Mary is: a member of the Chelmsford Finance Committee from 1999 to the present time (she is currently the Chairwoman); Mrs. Frantz has been a member of the league of Woman Voters since 1980, including being the Education Specialist for Massachusetts for 12 years. Mary has volunteered countless hours to our town, including as a Town Meeting Representative since 1989, and she has a passion for always doing what is right for the people of Chelmsford. BOB GREENWOOD has served as a volunteer on the Chelmsford Conservation Commission for 25 years, and the Board of Health for ten years. He helped out the town as a Sewer Inspector for 15 years after he retired. Mr. Greenwood is a WWII and Korean War Veteran. One would be hard pressed to find someone who has dedicated as much of himself to his town and his country as Bobby Greenwood. RALPH HICKEY & BARBARA RENISON have devoted hundreds of hours to the town of Chelmsford and its citi- zens. Ralph has served as the ADA Director and an elected Town Meeting Representative for many years. Both Ralph and his wife Barbara have served on the Boards of Directors of many charitable organizations, including the Paul Center and the Lowell Humane Society. Barbara has cooked dinners for the homeless and baked untold num- bers of delicious cupcakes for them. They both are very concerned about those who struggle to get by in life and they are always there to lend a helping hand to anyone in need. GEORGE MERRILL has been a very active Town Meeting Representative since 1989. George attends many finance com- mittee & other town board meetings to insure that he always has a complete understanding of the town budget, and all the other issues, before he casts his votes at the Town Meetings. He is also a long time member of the Chelmsford Historic Commission. Mr. Merrill devoted 30 years of his life to the U.S. Air Force, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. 2010 GREEN CITIZENS OF THE YEAR JENNIFER ALMEIDA has been the recycling coordinator for Chelmsford for many years. In that capacity Jennifer has helped our town lower the amount of solid waste that gets throw away, which resulted in the town saving thousands of dollars in trash hauling costs. At the same time, Mrs. Almeida has done everything possible to help the residents increase the amount of trash they recycle, thereby helping our environment stay cleaner and healthier. BOB MORSE has been a member - and Chairman - of the Community Preservation Committee since 2001. He helped the town: save many historic buildings; preserve its open spaces; and procure clean environmental equipment. Mr. Morse has also been a member of the Planning Board for 12 years, and he had been a Town Meeting Representative and a member of the Middlesex Canal Association for many years. The above noted selections for 2010 CHELMSFORD CITIZENS OF THE YEAR were presented by the under- signed Host of the P.I. Show, along with the following "Politically Incorrect" Show panelists: Town Manager Paul Cohen, Selectman Chairman George Dixon, Conservation Commission Chairman Dave McLachlan & Town Meet- ing Representative Sheila Pichette. We thank and commend these outstanding public spirited citizens for their many years of service to the town of Chelmsford. WATCH  CHELMSFORD CITIZENS OF THE YEAR CL ICK HERE Tom “TC” Christiano Producer & Host POLITICALLY INCORRECT
  23. 23. TOWN TALK with Dennis Ready and Mary Gregoire Guests: Dick DeFreitas Candidate for Town Moderator CLICK HERE for segment Selectman Jon Kurland Talks about the new Fire Station proposal and Saint Mary Church CLICK HERE for segment
  24. 24. Opinion: Time for health plan design authority By Eric Dahlberg and Nick DiSilvio GateHouse News Service Dec 27, 2010 Nick DiSilvio Eric Dahlberg Chelmsford — Last week, Chelmsford kicked off fiscal 2012 budget planning with a joint meeting of the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee, and the Finance Committee. This joint meeting, which occurs annually each De- cember, serves as an opportunity for the town manager, accountant, and finance director to pro- vide an overview of the town's fiscal situation. Two figures regarding the FY 2012 budget stood out. The first is that we expect a $1.4 million de- crease (10 percent) in state aid. The second is we expect a $520,000 increase (10 percent) in health insurance spending. The situation is unsustainable. Spending on health insurance continues to grow at a rate far greater than overall expenditures. Chelmsford will spend 11 percent of its entire budget — 11 cents of every dollar that we pay in taxes — on health insurance in fiscal year 2012. That figure will grow to 25 percent — fully a quarter of our operating budget — in just a few years if this trend continues. The consequences are dire: more and more taxpayer dollars swallowed by health insurance means less and less for schools, public safety, and other critical municipal services. We would like to get a handle on out-of-control health insurance spending at the local level, but state law prohibits us from making changes to our health plans without agreement from our town employees' unions. It's a stupid law that local officials would like to see changed. Unfortunately, the Legislature has been unwilling to do so, even as the economy has deteriorated, state aid has been cut and local officials across the commonwealth scream for something to be done. The reason for Beacon Hill's intransigence on this issue is obvious: many legislators are terrified of offending the unions. Fortunately, the grave fiscal facing our state and its 351 communities in fiscal year 2012 presents the members of the Legislature with an opportunity to put their fears aside and implement a straightforward reform: they can pass a simple one-page bill that grants health insurance plan de- sign authority to cities and towns. [It should be noted that Chelmsford’s four state reps, to their credit, have previously expressed a willingness to consider such legislation.] Plan design authority would empower local officials to make cost-saving changes to municipal health plans without having to go through the collective-bargaining process. If we were to exercise this authority in Chelmsford by amending our health plan so that it resembles the typical plan of- fered by the state itself (the type of plan, incidentally, that's offered to our state reps and senators - hardly shoddy coverage), we would save an estimated $1 million annually. In fiscal year 2012, that would almost make up for the expected 10 percent cut in state aid. In the longer term, that's money we could use to improve deficient services, to restore school infrastructure, or to replenish our sta- bilization fund. It is high time that the 200 members of the Legislature put aside special-interest politics, step up, and pass this commonsense, cost-saving reform. If not now, when? Eric Dahlberg is a member of the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen. Nick DeSilvio is a member of the Chelmsford School Committee. Copyright 2010 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  25. 25. New school chief Tiano stresses opening lines of communication By Rita Savard, 12/31/2010 CHELMSFORD -- Some conversations are hard to start. But as the new superintendent of Chelmsford Public Schools, Frank Tiano said creating a dialogue with parents and students is necessary -- even if the topics are a little unnerving at first. Tiano found himself stepping into the district's lead role shortly after the start of the school year in September, when Donald Yeoman abruptly resigned. Since then, Tiano has given presentations to parents about bullying and has openly discussed teen suicide and drug use. Chelmsford made headlines earlier this month following results from a youth risk-behavior survey that showed more than 100 high school students had reported attempting suicide in 2009. Tiano and the School Committee spoke candidly about the surveys and has even posted results online. "We're not afraid to put out the information," Tiano said. "Chelmsford shares the same problems and issues information, as any other school district in the state. But we also think it's important to share what we find with the community. The more we talk about the issues we face, we can work on finding solutions together." together. Talking with parents about bullying, which studies show often links with teen suicide, took an emotional turn in October at McCarthy Middle School. Some parents in the audience had children who had been bullied at school. "It's easy to understand why people become frustrated when they're trying to fix a problem, especially one that's affecting their child," Tiano said. "But we're listening, learning and we will get better. I'm grateful for all child, the feedback from students and parents. This is a community that truly cares about students' success." success. School officials, working with parents, students and educators, have spent the past year hammering out a plan to address harassment in schools as well as reduce depression and suicidal behavior. In October, the school district toughened its bullying protocol with a new policy on how to handle harassment. The two-part policy tackles prevention and intervention, through new and improved training and education, and changing reporting and response procedures. The policy was in response to the new state law on bullying that went into effect in May. The mandate requires school districts across the state to submit detailed proposals by today on how they address bullies and their victims. The first week of November was declared "Live Smart" week in Chelmsford schools. Educators and experts were invited to talk to the community about health-risk behaviors, including bullying and drug use. The forums drew hundreds to the Chelmsford High Performing Arts Center. Bringing parents, students, teachers, psychologists and law enforcement together is key to understanding and meeting the needs of students, Tiano said. Tiano, who has worked in the district for 10 years, started out as principal of the Westlands Elementary School. In 2006, he became the principal at McCarthy Middle School and was later hired as assistant superintendent in 2009. Moving forward as the new superintendent, Tiano said he plans to use technology to help keep the lines of communication open. The district's technology director, Anne-Marie Fiore, has already made some significant changes to the dis- trict's website, making it easier to navigate and find information about each school. School presentations on a variety of is- sues, and public documents including the district's budget, are all available with the click of a button. A plan is already under way to use the website for gathering feedback and sending out regular surveys to parents and students to help shape new policies and programs tailored to the district's needs. "Getting the conversation started is the important first step," Tiano said. "It helps all of us step, better guide our kids so that they can be better prepared for life." life. Frank Tiano To learn more about Chelmsford schools, visit
  26. 26. A half-century in Chelmsford's schools By Monica Jimenez/staff writer GateHouse News Service Dec 25, 2010 Chelmsford — A gray-haired woman stops by the table. “Trevor’s found a job,” she tells Chelmsford School Committee member Angie Taranto. job, “He’s doing great.” great. Taranto nods. “Good to hear.” hear. “You’re the best,” the woman says. “You really supported him when he needed it.” best, it. This isn’t the first time Taranto has heard words like this. Recently a young man took him out to dinner as a thank-you for suggesting the college he attended and for keeping him there when he considered dropping out. Others have sent Taranto e-mails, telling him he’s done a lot of good in the district and pleading for him to seek re-election in April. Taranto has already decided to leave the committee, apparently marking the end of an association with the school system that began in 1959. After moving on to become middle school department head, then house- master, then a high school dean, Taranto can claim credit for the success of countless alumni – among his old students are Planning Board member Jim Lane and CHS Athletics Director Jack Fletcher. Angie As the mother of his latest success story heads away from the table, Taranto turns around, beaming. Taranto “What was I talking about?” he asks. about? A life in education Chelmsford schools, circa 1960. Classrooms were sparsely furnished with metal desks that swung open instead of tables, blackboards and chalk instead of whiteboards and markers and textbooks teachers read from as they taught lessons. Students wore uniforms, no one dared talk during lunch, real bells sounded to end class — and college admissions officers were unimpressed by the acronym CHS. There were fewer schools, fewer students and fewer complications, said Taranto, who remembers it all. Students still saw their teachers as un- approachable instructor figures who occasionally patrolled school dances to separate couples. “That changed once they stopped requiring us to wear shirt and tie,” Taranto said. tie, Kids are much more relaxed around teachers now, he said, and will joke around in the classroom. Of course, the flip side is Taranto has seen children act out in ways students never dreamed of in his day. Part of that is a larger social shift. Divorce rates have gone up and there’s more trouble at home. Drug use has become more common and T.V. shows more violent. Kids nowadays are dealing with more issues than they were before, Taranto said. But then again, they’re getting more help. Teachers’ attitudes toward students have changed over the decades, as well, according to Taranto. Instead looking at a class and seeing rows of receptacles waiting to be filled with knowledge, teachers now pay attention to children’s social and emotional needs. Taranto remembers a kid in one of his classes who couldn’t sit still. His vocabulary lacking the term “Attention Deficit Disorder,” Taranto Disorder, had the student sit on an upside-down wastebasket by the door. The School Committee, too, was a different entity altogether. Back then, it was the committee deciding whom to hire and fire – getting a teach- ing job was sometimes as simple as making a phone call to the right person. Taranto recalls the tension that would fill a classroom as a com- mittee member walked by. Taranto approves of the current system giving the superintendent and the school principals more power. It takes the politics out of the picture and keeps micromanagement from getting out of hand, Taranto said. Not to mention it’s allowed him to become chummy with some teachers and students – he has often been invited into classrooms to observe some new project. To be sure, Taranto isn’t enthusiastic about some changes. The state has been handing down more mandates, he pointed out, while holding education funding hostage. And he isn’t crazy about the rise of cyber-bullying, which he said gives kids the opportunity to pick on each other the second it occurs to them, wherever they are. But with schools offering a greater variety of courses and more advanced levels, Chelmsford students are flourishing. New technology has made learning faster and richer – Taranto’s own granddaughter has downloaded images from the Internet, printed them out and finished the entire project while Taranto was still cutting pictures out of magazines. The past survives as it informs the future. Many Chelmsford students have returned to serve the schools that helped raise them, such as CHS Guidance Director Carol Pilat, Parker Middle School Vice Principal Jeff Parks and CHS Principal Anne O’Bryant. Taranto himself has gone back in time for answers to School Committee questions. When the suggestion was made to have one principal for Chelmsford’s two middle schools, Taranto opposed it, recalling crises only a full-time principal could resolve. When the need for high school deans was called into question, Taranto defended his old job, remembering kids often came to him because he was there specifically for them. Both these decisions boiled down to one thing. “With complex issues, you need immediacy,” Taranto said. “Students need to know they can go to someone directly. That’s immediacy, how you provide the perspective that’s needed. That’s how you connect and develop relationships.” relationships Although he knows he’s leaving, Taranto will live in the moment for the rest of his time on the School Committee. He’ll continue playing the part of the wise, nostalgic old-timer, bringing his schoolroom experience to bear on the district’s present-day concerns – and, he hopes, bringing his present-day perspective back to those schoolrooms. “I’d like to visit classes again,” Taranto said. “Next time I’m invited by a teacher to see a new project or just to come in, I’ll again, be there. But not to say goodbye,” he added. “To say, ‘I’ll be seeing you guys.’” goodbye, guys.’ Copyright 2010 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  27. 27. Chelmsford redistricting committee set to get working By Monica Jimenez/staff writer GateHouse News Service Jan 05, 2011 Chelmsford — As the state legislative sessions begins, Chelmsford’s Legislative Redistricting Committee plans to make Chelmsford’s voice heard on Beacon Hill. In the past, the town has been treated as a whole district, along with a few precincts from adjacent towns such as Carlisle or Tyngsboro. The redistricting 10 years ago marked the first time the town was broken into four different sections. “We really got carved up,” committee member Sam Poulten said. up, Poulten said Chelmsford’s representation was diluted and he and the committee will do whatever it takes to restore it. They’ll be looking at their representation both at the state and the federal level. The state allots one representative for every 40,000 people. In December, the census results revealed Chelmsford has 34,000 residents, not enough to qualify. Poulten said the committee plans to ask for one representative and if that isn’t possible, for two. They committee has met with Chelmsford’s four representatives – Tom Golden, Cory Atkins, Jim Arciero and David Nangle – and plan to meet with them again. Poulten said the representatives have been ex- tremely helpful and emphasized the committee is pleased with their service to Chelmsford; neverthe- less, they hesitate to gamble on being so lucky in the future. The committee plans to go with Chelmsford’s representatives to Beacon Hill and directly address the people who will soon be responsible for redistricting the town. They also intend to meet with the Chelmsford selectmen who were on the board during the last redistricting process 10 years ago to see what insights and advice they can offer. The committee includes Democratic and Republican members, citizens and town officials – a good mix, according to Poulten. They’ve had two productive meetings so far, where they’ve pored over geography and mathematics and received public input, and Poulten is pleased with their progress. “We’re really doing our homework,” he said. homework, He encouraged Chelmsford residents to attend their meetings. Sam Poulten How often will they convene as March approaches? “As often as it takes,” Poulten said. “We’ll meet every week if takes, we have to.” to. The committee’s next session will be in early January. Copyright 2011 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved
  28. 28. Doubts raised about tow contracts By Evan Lips, 12/31/2010 CHELMSFORD -- Town offi- cials plan to terminate their contract with Ferreira's Towing after four out of five trucks failed a state inspection Wednesday. Town Manager Paul Cohen said yesterday he agrees with Police Chief Jim Murphy's rec- ommendation to sever towing ties with Ferreira's. "There's a lack of confidence on mine and Chief Murphy's part following these failed inspections," he said. inspections, Dick Mason, an operations manager for Ferreira's, said his company plans to fight the town's decision. Ferreira's already had been suspended from town towing operations for 60 days following an Oct. 24 accident in which a Ferreira tow truck ruptured a gas line outside the Best Western Hotel at 168 Chelmsford St. An investigation revealed that the truck had a defective parking brake and leaf-spring assembly, inoperable head lamps and license-plate lights, and that the driver did not possess a required medical certificate. The 60-day suspension would have expired Monday. Cohen said state police investigators discovered brake problems and fuel and oil leaks on four trucks. He added that three of the trucks failed due to "serious failures." failures. Since the 60-day suspension began, Christopher's Towing has handled the town's towing jobs. Cohen said Christopher's will continue to handle the town's needs "for the foreseeable future." future. Ferreira's landed the town's three-year towing contract last May after bidding an unprecedented $90.25 per tow, the highest amount ever offered to a Massachusetts municipality. Christopher's, which had landed the town's previous three-year contract, submitted a bid that checked in at $50.01 per tow. Mason said yesterday that his company is held to a different standard. He also had a different take on Wednesday's inspection. "First of all, they inspected six trucks, not five," he said. "And there were actually three trucks that passed five, inspection, the same three trucks we use for Chelmsford jobs." jobs. Mason said the contract calls for having two conventional wrecker-style trucks and one flatbed truck available to the town. He said those three trucks passed. "A couple trucks had brakes that needed adjustment, but I dare you to find any other trucking country that doesn't have that problem," he said. problem, Mason added that a fuel leak on one of the trucks was microscopic. "I wish I could show it to you," he said. you, Mason said another truck failed inspection because a wooden block used for parking was marked as an unsecured load. "I'll stake my daughter's life on this -- for some reason, we're being held to a different level," he said. level, Christopher Ferreira, the owner of Christopher's Towing, said he doesn't know if his company will be covering the remainder of the three-year contract. But he said he thinks the inspections were fair. "That's why they brought in the State Police," he said. "To have the inspections done by a separate entity." Police, entity. Cohen said he and Murphy will recommend to the Board of Selectmen at its next meeting that it terminate the town's contract with Ferreira's. The board will meet on Jan. 10.