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Archived News 2014

REHOBOTH FIRE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCE SAFE GRANTS

(December 31, 2014) At the selectmen’s meeting on Monday night, Fire Chief Barresi announced the awarding of two grants to the department for a total amount of $7218 to be used for awareness and education programs.

    The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services awarded the RFD the 2015 SAFE and Senior SAFE grants.  The funds will be used to present awareness and education programs for both school children and elders in the community.  Important issues to be covered include fire prevention, general home safety, and how to be prepared in the event of a fire.

    The SAFE programs are designed to lower the overall fire-related risk reduction in the community. Since the inception of the program twenty years ago, child fire deaths have been reduced by a phenomenal 72 percent. 

    Barresi credits the hard work and dedication of Rehoboth SAFE officer LT. Randy Larrivee and the firefighters who assist him with the programs local success.

    "Lt. Larrivee is totally dedicated to the mission of the program and deserves all of the credit for it's success,” emphasized Barresi.  Anyone seeking more information or wishing to have a presentation for their group or organization can contact the RFD at 508-252-3725 or visit their website.


SWANSEA MAN ARRESTED AFTER CAR CHASE THAT BEGAN IN REHOBOTH

(December 29, 2014) A Swansea man is scheduled to appear in Taunton District Court today on a number of charges after leading Rehoboth police on a 24-mile pursuit through four towns on December 27.

    After receiving a report on a suspect who left the scene of a disturbance in Swansea, Sgt. Richard Shailor of the Rehoboth Police Department located an erratic driver on First Street who failed to stop.  The driver, identified as Robert Lowney, Jr., age 44 of Swansea, kept police in pursuit through Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Barrington while committing numerous motor vehicle violations and speeding from 10 to 30 miles per hour over the posted limit.

   Rehoboth police were assisted by officers from Swansea and Seekonk, as well as Massachusetts State Police during the lengthy pursuit. After the suspect crashed his van into a fence on Old Stevens Road in Swansea, he fled on foot. 

    According to Rehoboth police, Lowney was located by Officer Louis DiBacco and was tased when he resisted arrest.  Officer Matt Gardner from the Seekonk police and Trooper French of the State police assisted DiBacco in making the arrest.  Lowney faces Rehoboth police charges of drunk driving (third offense), operating to endanger, marked lane violation, stop sign violation, unlicensed operation, failure to stop for police, and resisting arrest. He will also face additional charges from Seekonk and Swansea police.

    

GOOD ENERGY SELECTED FOR COLLECTIVE PURCHASING OF ELECTRICITY

(December 19, 2014) The Town of Rehoboth, working with the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) and eleven other communities, selected Good Energy as the vendor to solicit price quotes for collective purchasing of electricity for residents and local businesses. Individual participation is strictly voluntary.

    At special town meeting on October 27, residents voted to authorize the board of selectmen to work with other communities on “electric aggregation” in time to meet the cut-off date for enrollment in the MA Municipal Energy Aggregation program. The benefits to aggregate buying include savings for residents on their electric bills, long-term budget stability, no early termination fees, renewable energy options, and protection from rising energy prices which have risen dramatically in the last 12 months.

   The initial group of four communities grew to a total of twelve towns or cities representing over 92,000 residential or business accounts in Southeastern Massachusetts. The list of participating communities includes Acushnet, Dighton, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Northbridge, Norton, Plainville, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Somerset, and Swansea.

   Good Energy, a company that develops and implements “aggressive and innovative savings programs tailored to the end user’s patterns of electricity consumption” began in Pennsylvania and expanded to other states.  Their goal is to “continuously assess the market for the best available deals on electricity.”  Typically, Good Energy is able to save commercial businesses up to 30% on their power supply costs.

   A website was created by SRPEDD with valuable information on the program, frequently asked questions, cautionary advise, and regular progress updates.  The program is anticipated to take effect next summer.

    Information will also be available on the Town of Rehoboth website.


SUSPECT AT LARGE AFTER WEDNESDAY NIGHT DRUG BUST FOLLOWING CAR ACCIDENT ON COUNTY STREET

(December 18, 2014) What began last night as a routine police response to a disturbance and minor vehicle accident resulted in a manhunt for a suspect still at large.

   Rehoboth police responded around 7 PM to a 911 report of a disturbance in progress in the area of 80 County Street.  Sgt. Medeiros and Officer Ranley of the Rehoboth Police Department arrived to the location to find two males arguing as they stood next to two vehicles in the roadway. 

   While the officers were investigating the circumstances of the crash, one man removed a large suitcase from the rear of one of the vehicles and fled. He dropped the suitcase after running a short distance and then darted into the darkened woods.

    A large quantity of assorted narcotics were inside the suitcase including two kilograms of heroin, 500 grams of cocaine, approximately 300 Oxycodone pills and around 3 pounds of marijuana. Police believe the drugs have an estimated street value of $250K. Police also discovered two replica gas powered bb/pellet pistols, one a black 9mm replica, and the other a silver.50 caliber Desert Eagle replica. The pistols were found in Oliveira-Mendes’ vehicle.

   Gilberto Oliveira-Mendes, age 20 of Taunton, MA was identified as the suspect that fled the scene.  Police arrested Latesha Santos, age 24 of Wareham, after they determined she had driven to the area to assist Oliveira-Mendes with his escape. Police have not identified the other male involved in the mnor car accident.

    Rehoboth police conducted a search last night with assistance from Dighton Police, Seekonk Police, Bristol County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, Massachusetts State Police from Dartmouth, and Massachusetts State Police Air Wing Unit.

   There is an arrest warrant for Oliveira-Mendes for trafficking in heroin, a Class A felony; trafficking in cocaine, a Class B felony; and possession with intent to distribute marijuana, a Class D offense.  Santos was charged with obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact. She was arraigned in Taunton District Court today and released on $3,500 bail. Any information on the fugitive Oliveira-Mendes should contact the RPD, either Sgt. Ramos or Detective Eastwood at 508-252-3722.


REHOBOTH FIREFIGHTERS DEAL WITH WOOD STOVE FIRE

(December 16, 2014)  Rehoboth firefighters were dispatched yesterday morning to a residence on Wheeler Street in response to a report of a wood stove fire.

   First arriving crews reported fire showing from the back corner of the building. Firefighters attacked the fire immediately and had it under control in approximately fifteen minutes. The remainder of the structure had heat and smoke damage, but a brand new car appeared unscathed. 

    Crews spent another hour wetting down hot spots and removing parts of the building to expose any remaining fire. The Seekonk fire department sent an engine company to the scene to assist Rehoboth firefighters with the overhaul. Rehoboth EMS and the Providence Canteen provided rehab.

    The fire remains under investigation but appears to be accidental.


REHOBOTH SELECTMEN TAKE HARD LINE ON SENIOR CENTER USE

(December 16, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night denied a request made a Council on Aging board member to recuse themselves from voting on allowing the Republican Town Committee to conduct their winter caucus at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.

    Marjorie Johnston of the COA board told selectmen that her “telephone was ringing off the hook“  last week with complaints after the BOS addressed a request to allow the RTC to use the building, as well as town voting equipment, for their caucus. They tabled the action item then and readdressed it last night.

   The RTC usually conducts their caucus to choose Republican candidates for the annual spring town election at Palmer River Elementary School. Johnston explained she had “no problem allowing the caucus to take place at the senior center” as she was aware it is “getting too expensive for organizations to rent the school.”

    Johnston said selectmen however have a close political association with the RTC.  “I am uncomfortable having you selectmen deal with this,” said Johnston, who noted four of the five sitting selectmen were nominated by the RTC.  “You should recuse yourself and let the council on aging decide.”  She added there was no policy or fee structure in place for organizations to rent the senior center. In the past selectmen have allowed other groups to use the building free of charge.

    Selectmen Skip Vadnais said Massachusetts State Law dictates the BOS must provide a caucus place within the boundaries of the town. “I am not going to recuse ourselves from anything,” he said sternly.  “We are in charge of all town buildings.  You (the council on aging board) are in charge of programs in this building.”

   Three other selectmen told Johnston they would not recuse themselves from voting. “As a taxpayer, I have every right to use this for any reason, and I pay for this building,” said Selectmen Sue Pimental.   “I think it is a legitimate use of the building,” added Selectmen Joe Tito, “that furthers the democratic process in town.”  Selectmen Dave Perry said he agreed with Vadnias and Pimental. BOS chairman Mike Costello did not comment.

    “I am questioning the fact the selectmen have made it a political issue,” said Johnston who noted the COA board is meeting this week.  She indicated the board would discuss the BOS allowing organizations to use the building without charging any fees.

     “I think this is ridiculous,” said Pimental. “I am not willing to continue this conversation any longer,” added Vadnais before the BOS voted to approved the RTC request to use the center.

  

BOS MEETING TONIGHT:  SELECTMEN TO ADDRESS VARIOUS HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT ISSUES, 2015 LICENSE RENEWALS, FY16 BUDGET GUIDELINES

(December 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen will meet in regular session tonight at the senior center to discuss a number of highway department related issues including a job posting for a equipment operator.

    Selectmen will review and approve job descriptions submitted by the town’s personnel borad for highway department equipment operator and mechanics positions.  They will also vote to approve Chapter 90 reimbursement requests of $14,415  and $53,360  for the Wheeler Street Bridge project. Another action item includes voting to approve Chapter 90 reimbursement and final report of $263,120 for improvements to town roadways including paving and line painting.

    Also on the agenda for tonight’s meeting are renewals of town licenses for 2015 and a discussion of the FY16 budget guidelines for town departments.

    Selectmen will also return to a tabled agenda item related to a request by the Republican Town Committee to hold their February caucus meeting in a town building and use town voting equipment.

    As always, the public is invited to attend and participate in open public forum.


NATIONAL GRID TRANSFORMER FIRE CAUSES POWER OUTAGE

(December 11, 2014)  A National Grid transformer fire Wednesday night resulted in power loss of nearly 700 customers in Rehoboth and nearby Seekonk. This came only two days after National Grid representatives spoke at length to selectmen about installation of new a sub-station along Route 44 and other improvements to service. 

    According to a brief Sun Chronicle report, “595 of Rehoboth’s 4,999 National Grid customers” lost power overnight. Additionally, 88 Seekonk customers lost power. While Rehoboth firefighters responded to the sub-station fire and downed wires, they received reciprocal help from the Attleboro Fire Department to help deal with emergency calls including reported smoke at a residence on Rocky Hill.

    Town officials have not released any information on the cause of the transformer fire.


SELECTMEN APPROVE PROMOTION OF RESERVE POLICE OFFICER, APPROVE TREE REMOVAL PLAN, URGE NATIONAL GRID TO MAKE IMPROVEMENTS QUICKLY

(December 9, 2014)  The five Rehoboth selectmen approved promotion of a reserve police officer to full-time status as the first order of business at last night’s BOS meeting.

    Reserve police officer Adam Brown was promoted to full-time replacing Patrolman Ryan Brule who is leaving the department to work for the Yarmouth Police Department on Cape Cod beginning next month.  According to Acting Chief  Lt. James Trombetta, Officer Brule will be using his accrued time off for the rest of this month. Trombetta reported another full-time patrolman, Officer Craig Forget is currently on medical leave for injuries, described as minor in a police press release, sustained when his cruiser was sideswiped by another vehicle in November.    

    Trombetta said Brown, with an associates degree in criminal justice, is the brother of another RPD officer and has the appropriate training to “go on the road tomorrow.”

     In other business, a public hearing was held on a tree removal plan proposed by National Grid for seventy-one locations on Fairview Avenue and eleven locations on Homestead Avenue. Selectmen Dave Perry and Skip Vadnais reported they visited every tree tagged for removal and saw no problems. 

   Tree Warden Rob Johnson and a representative from National Grid described some of the reasons why the trees should be removed, primarily to eliminate potential hazards to power lines. National Grid pays for the tree removal, anticipated to begin immediately and last for 1-2 months, while the remaining wood is distributed via the tree warden.  Johnson noted that property owners have first right to collect the wood, but if they choose to pass, there is a policy and waiting list for residents who wish wood.  Selectmen Vadnais added the free wood list is prioritized by need.  If anyone wishes to add their name to that list, please visit the town office.

   Selectmen and three representatives from National Grid discussed, at length and in technical detail, the power company’s plans to improve equipment and services in Rehoboth.  The long-term improvement plan will take years to complete. Selectmen urged progress be made as quickly as possible with a concerted effort to improve service during power outages particularly on Route 44.

    Last night’s agenda items related to a discussion of de-regionalization of grades K through 8, along with costs of school bus contract services, was postponed to a later date.


BOS MEETING TONIGHT INCLUDES DISCUSSION OF K-8 DE-REGIONALIZATION,

SCHOOL BUS COSTS, NEW NATIONAL GRID SUB-STATION, TREE REMOVAL

(December 8, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen will meet in regular session tonight at the senior center including a public hearing set for 7:15 on an extensive tree removal plan proposed by National Grid for Fairview Avenue and Homestead Avenue.

    The agenda includes the appointment of a new police office, and a discussion by selectmen on the costs involved with de-regionalization of grades K through 8 from the Dighton-Rehoboth school district. They will also discuss the costs associated with the town’s contract with Taunton-based Bloom Bus Company to provide school bus transportation.

    The selectmen’s busy agenda also includes a discussion with National Grid on possible locations for a new ‘step-down sub-station‘ in Rehoboth.  Residents had an opportunity at the special town meeting in late October to approve an Article 7 allowing National Grid to construct a sub-station on the Redway Plain on Route 44. The article was tabled because the Rehoboth Park Commission, that oversees the Redway Plain property, voted two days before the town meeting to reject the National Grid’s plan. Since that time, members of the park commission have explained their rejection of the plan and encouraged National Grid to come up with alternative solutions.

    Other agenda items include a discussion with Town Clerk Laura Schwall on the town calendar, the signing of a municipal aggregation contract, and license renewals for 2015.

   According to the posted meeting agenda for tonight, there will be no executive session conducted.  The regular BOS meeting is set to begin at 7 PM.  As always, the public is invited to attend and contribute during open public forum segments.


CASTING DIRECTOR LOOKING FOR EXTRAS

(December 6, 2014)  Chris Petit, extras casting director for the upcoming feature film "Bleed for This" from executive producer Martin Scorsese and director Ben Younger, is looking for extras for a massive film shoot on December 16 and 17 at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence.

   Petit wrote to RehobothNow asking to publicize this rare opportunity -- it will be the largest film shoot in New England history and YOU can play a part. The film follows the inspirational true-life story of RI boxing legend Vinny Pazienza and his miraculous comeback to be World Champion after a new fatal car accident almost ended his life.

   “We'd love for all of you to be a part of this historic film. It's sure to be a blast for everybody involved,” wrote Petit.

   The film stars Miles Teller (Divergent), Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Knight), Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy), and Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thornes).


PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED FOR TREE REMOVAL PLAN

(December 4, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen will conduct a public hearing on Monday, December 8 on an extensive tree removal plan proposed by National Grid for seventy-one locations on Fairview Avenue and eleven locations on Homestead Avenue.

    Earlier this week at their Monday night meeting, Selectman Dave Perry discussed preparing for the public hearing by taking a drive to check out the marked trees on Fairview and on Homestead.  Selectman Skip Vadnais agreed that familiarizing themselves with the trees and locations would be a good idea in order to answer questions posed next week by citizens attending the public hearing.

   A detailed description of the plan, including tree location, species and reason for removal, is available for review as a PDF document on the town website.


AUDIT FINDS REHOBOTH IN GOOD FINANCIAL HEALTH
(December 2, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen were happy to hear a favorable audit report at last night’s BOS meeting.     

    According to audit accountant Michael Milligan, the town’s annual fiscal year 2014 financial audit process “went smoothly with all departments.”  He noted there were “no issues” and “no adjustment to the financial statements.”

    “I’d say you had a good year,” noted Milligan who added the town acquired no new debt and payed down existing debt.

    In August, all town departments were compelled to reduce operating budget by 20 percent following rejection of a Proposition 2 1/2 override ballot in July.  The override was put forth to voters to address an almost $1.7M shortfall in the fiscal year15 budget after residents voted to increase the school district budget for the same amount.

    Milligan also mentioned the town was recently paid a visit by the Internal Revenue Service and that process resulted in no fines, unlike many other surrounding towns. IRS officials did however recommend the town create a policy for use of town vehicles by employees.  Selectmen spend a few minutes discussing possible policies, specifically town vehicles used by the police chief, fire chief and highway superintendent. In cases of emergencies, it would be better and faster for public safety officials to use town vehicles.  The alternative would be for them to use their personal vehicles to drive to town and then switch to a town vehicle.


FRIDAY MORNING CRASH SENDS MAN TO HOSPITAL

(November 29, 2014)  A single vehicle crash yesterday morning on Moulton Street in Rehoboth sent an unnamed man to the hospital.  Rehoboth police, fire and EMS responded rapidly to the report of a pickup truck crashed into trees. The driver and sole occupant was trapped inside the vehicle.  Firefighters used hydraulic tools to free the victim in approximately ten minutes. The victim was transported to the hospital by Rehoboth EMS with what was described as minor injuries. The cause of the accident remains under investigation by Rehoboth Police.


NEW ONLINE ASSESSORS PROPERTY DATABASE

(November 26, 2014)  The Rehoboth Town Assessor’s office now offers an online property database on the Town of Rehoboth website using AppGeo.

   The online tool includes a variety of map options and thematic overlays; a search option with address, property ID or owner name; property info including ownership, valuation and land; abutter info; client info panel; help tools; and site contact info/disclaimer info.

   The data currently available includes parcel info updated January 1, 2014 and property data updated January 1, 2014.  According to the disclaimer info, the “data available here is updated in the normal course of business and may not always represent the most current information. In addition, some of the data contained herein may have been compiled from third-party sources and the accuracy of that information cannot be confirmed.”

   Users encountering any function problems can use the ‘comment’ section to notify the town and AppGeo.


REHOBOTH GIRL SCOUTS BUSY WITH BLIZZARD OF GIVING

(November 26, 2014)  Have you seen the Blizzard of Giving collection boxes around town? Rehoboth Girl Scout Troops are busy collecting toys and other gifts for local children through December 12.  Please help the girls make this year the most successful one yet.

    Donate new unwrapped toys or select a “snowflake” and purchase the requested gift, then return it to one of our boxes. The “snowflakes’ can be found at: Anawan Cleaners, Blanding Library, Chartley Store, D.L. Beckwith Middle School, and Palmer River Elementary School. Then place unwrapped or “snowflake” gifts in one of the Girl Scout collection boxes at Anawan Cleaners, Blanding Library, Chartley Store, D.L. Beckwith Middle School, and Palmer River Elementary School, J&J Materials (Rt 6), Rehoboth Congregational Church, Vino’s Restaurant, Rehoboth House of Pizza, Alicia’s Dance Studio, USA Karate, and Twin Oaks Farm Learning Center.

   This has been a community service project of Rehoboth Girl Scouts for nearly 15 years and they thank everyone for helping to make our community a better place for everyone.


RPD BLAME BUDGET CUTS FOR SLOWING GUN LICENSE APPLICATIONS

(November 25, 2014)  At last night selectmen’s meeting, Acting Rehoboth Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta blamed budget cuts to his department for slowing the process of issuing gun licenses to residents. 

    According to Lt. Trombetta, gun license applications previously were processed up to five days a week by department detectives who were forced to go back on patrol duty after budget cuts in August.  Gun license applications are now processed one Saturday per month with appointments booked into September of next year.

    Lt. Trombetta said he must use the department’s overtime budget to pay personnel to process paperwork and run fingerprints on Saturdays. The department currently has 35 employees including six reserve officers, an office administrator and five dispatchers.

   Earlier this month, selectmen approved a $20K reserve fund transfer request from Lt. Trombetta to purchase new fingerprinting equipment.

   Lt. Trombetta told selectmen the police department has suffered “collateral damage” because of budget cuts and warned there could be a two-year wait for gun licenses if he can’t pay for extra help.

    In other news, Lt. Trombetta announced the department has received notice of two grants.  The RPD will receive a $3000 grant to use for a pedestrian and bicycle safety program.  He said they will use the funds to “put together something for the elementary school.”  The department has also received $2,500 for a car seat safety program. Officer Bree Krasnianski, who is certified to install car safety seats, will be in charge of the program.  She is in the process of purchasing safety seats to give to families in need.  Any resident who needs assistance installing a child safety seat can also receive help. 


PUBLIC HEARING SCHEDULED FOR TREE REMOVAL PLAN

(November 23, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen will conduct a public hearing on Monday, December 8 on an extensive tree removal plan proposed by National Grid for seventy-one locations on Fairview Avenue and eleven locations on Homestead Avenue. A detailed description of the plan, including tree location, species and reason for removal, is available for review as a PDF document on the town website.


REHOBOTH MAN CITED FOR DRIVING INTO RPD CRUISER

(November 20, 2014)  A Rehoboth man was cited by Rehoboth police for side swiping a RPD cruiser and injuring an officer on Tuesday evening.

   Patrolman Craig Forget had just pulled over to investigate a one-vehicle crash involving a deer in the area of 527 Winthrop Street (Route 44) when a box truck driven by Donald Dyer of Rehoboth swiped the cruiser causing severe damage to the driver’s side.  Officer Forget sustained minor injuries and was transported to Rhode Island Hospital for medical attention.

    According to police, Dyer made “no attempt to slow down or move left to avoid a collision with the police cruiser even though the emergency lights were activated.”  Dyer was issued a citation for negligent operation of a motor vehicle. He was also cited under the Commonwealths’ “Move over” Law. 

    The incident is being investigated by Sgt. Norman Todd, and Patrolman Jacob Miranda. It is unknown if the damaged police cruiser is one of the five new vehicles purchased by the RPD after being approved by residents at the annual town meeting last May.


TOWN NURSE OFFERS FLU VACCINE, MEDICAL SUPPLIES

(November 19, 2014)  The Rehoboth Town Public Health Nurse would like residents to know that flu vaccines are still available free of charge. Those interested should call Jaime Conlon, RN, BSN, CCRN, CEN to schedule an appointment to come to the Rehoboth Town Office for a flu shot. 

    The nurses office has medical supplies to offer residents free of charge including diabetic lancets for blood glucose testing, glucometers, and ostomy supplies.  Contact Conlon at 508-252-5947, ext. 3127 to arrange a pick up or to schedule a flu shot.


REHOBOTH CRASH SENDS MOTHER AND SON TO HOSPITAL

(November 16, 2014)  A single vehicle accident yesterday afternoon on Barney Avenue in Rehoboth resulted in the transport of a Rehoboth woman and her twelve-year-old son to Rhode Island hospitals.

    Rehoboth police and fire were dispatched to the scene after a Jeep Cherokee driven by Cynthia Medeiros, age 47 of Wheeler Street, stuck a utility pole shattering it into three pieces and rolling the vehicle onto the side.  Medeiros was trapped inside the vehicle and extracted by firefighters.  She was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

     According to the police report, passers-by assisted the boy from the car before responders arrived. He was later transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital as a precaution.

     The crash is under investigation by the Rehoboth Police Department.


CAR VS. GUARDRAIL CRASH RESULTS IN OUI ARREST

(November 16, 2014)  Rehoboth police report the arrest of 28-year-old William D. Pires of Dighton, MA on vehicular charges including operating under the influence.

    Pires was taken into custody yesterday evening after patrolmen Louis Dibacco and Jacob Miranda responded to the report of a single-vehicle accident in the area of Danforth Street and Perryville Road in Rehoboth.

    According to police, officers “observed a single vehicle crash vs. guardrail(s)” and charged Pires with OUI, operating to endanger and failure to stay within marked lines.  Pires was released on personal recognizance after paying $40 bail and is scheduled to appear in Taunton District Court on Monday.

   

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN YOUTUBE FOR GOFF HALL/BLANDING LIBRARY

(November 14, 2014)  The Rehoboth Antiquarian Society’s campaign to raise the remaining 85K needed for building improvements now includes a YouTube video showing the need for universal access and ADA-compliant restrooms.

    The brief presentation features historic images of the one-hundred-year-old building along with contemporary photos showing the many uses of the auditorium and library. 

    The need for universal access and new restrooms is clearly shown with images of one young Rehoboth resident. Seven-year-old Aidan Benjamin volunteered to show the challenges he faces trying to access the downstairs children’s library. Although the building features a ramp to the front entrance, persons of any age with disabilities cannot readily navigate the single staircase to the lower level or the building’s 1915-era restrooms located downstairs. 

    Rehoboth residents were recently mailed a campaign brochure outlining the project with construction to begin next year.  The YouTube video will reach a larger audience of potential donors including supporters of libraries, gothic architecture, and the disabilities community.  Watch the YouTube presentation.       

  

POLICE REQUEST 20K FOR NEW FINGER PRINTING EQUIPMENT

(November 10, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center at 7 PM following an executive session to discuss contracts for police dispatchers, clerical and highway department personnel.

   On tonight’s agenda is a $20K reserve fund transfer request from Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta to purchase new fingerprinting equipment.  The evening’s agenda also includes an update on the Wheeler Street Bridge replacement. They will vote to accept of a gift of $600 from Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter for replacement gutters on the town’s animal shelter behind the town office.  Selectmen will also discuss a job posting for a highway department mechanic.

    Bill Maiorano, director of the REMA, will announce an almost $6K grant for the town’s emergency management system. 

    Selectmen will spend some time recapping the October 27 special town meeting.


DORCHESTER MURDER SUSPECT FOUND DEAD ON REHOBOTH TOWNLINE

(November 10, 2014)  The body of a Boston murder suspect was found by Massachusetts State Police early Sunday morning in the woods off Route 195 near the Rehoboth/Swansea town line after the man’s vehicle was found on the side of the road.

    A statewide manhunt had been underway since Saturday afternoon for thirty-year-old Paulo Rosa of Dorchester, wanted in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Audilia DaVeiga.  She was found in the couple’s home “suffering from life threatening injuries” after a 911 call by someone reporting a shooting.  According to a Boston Police statement, she died on the scene.  

    Sate police report Rosa apparently killed himself, but have released no other information on the cause and manner of his death.

    Five years ago on October 23, 2009, a New Hampshire murder suspect was discovered dead from suicide in the woods off Reservoir Avenue and Simmons Street.  Binh Vernet, age 48 of Londonderry, had stabbed his wife in their home in front of their two children. Suzanne Vernet, age 46, was found unconscious and flown to Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston where she later died. 

    Rehoboth police were called to Reservoir Avenue after a report from neighbors about a suspicious van parked about 150 yards into the woods. Vernet’s body was discovered with the help of Officer Craig Forget, and the now retired police dog Cesar.

     According to investigators in New Hampshire, authorities never discovered a connection between the dead man and the town of Rehoboth. 


BE GENEROUS:  ANNUAL HOLIDAY GIVING PROGRAMS

(November 5, 2014)  Rehoboth’s annual holiday giving programs are just around the corner, from Thanksgiving baskets to holiday gifts for children and teens, to fuel assistance to help heat Rehoboth homes this winter. 

Helping Hands

    Rehoboth Helping Hands Food Pantry will once again provide Thanksgiving baskets to individuals and families in need.  Many local groups and organizations are collecting for this effort including schools, churches, and scout troops.  The Rehoboth Business Association will have a non-perishable food drop off on Saturday, November 8 from 9 AM to 12 Noon at the Edward Jones office on Route 44.  If you have any food donations, including home baked goods or perishable items, please call Rehoboth Helpings Hands Director Steve Martin at 508-252-3263. Families in need should also contact Martin if they wish to receive a holiday basket for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.

    Martin reports pledges to donate Thanksgiving baskets have been made by the Rehoboth Congregational Church, Palmer River Elementary School, and American Legion Post 302.  Students and staff from Beckwith Middle School has in the midst of a food drive, and personnel from the Rehoboth Post Office held a food drive for Helping Hands in late October.  After Thanksgiving, Helping Hands Food Pantry will begin right away with their Christmas basket program. Food donations will again be collected by various local groups.

Blizzard of Giving Program

    The annual Rehoboth Blizzard of Giving program helps children and families with two ways to donate toys and other gifts. Donors can choose a specific gift request  from a Rehoboth family listed on “snowflake” bulletin boards located at several locations in town.  Pick a snowflake, purchase that specific request, wrap it and affix the snowflake identification.  Then drop off at any Blizzard of Giving boxes located at Anawan Cleaners, the Blanding Library, Chartley Country Store, D. L. Beckwith Middle School, and Palmer River Elementary School.  

   You can also donate any unwrapped toy item and drop it off at one of the Blizzard boxes by Friday, December 12.  Rehoboth Girl Scouts and girls from the local American Heritage troop will be collecting the donations.  Please contact Blizzard organizer Maureen Brawley for more info at 508-252-4867.  The contact for Rehoboth Girls Scouts is Colleen McBride at 508-252-6430.  Liz Day is the contact for the American Heritage Girls and she can be contacted at 508-336-5262.

Fuel Assistance Program

   According to Steve Martin, who also coordinated the Helping Hands Fuel Assistance program, there have been 15 local requests for fuel assistance, but only one pledge to help.  The need for help to keep homes warm this winter is critical.  While cash donations are needed to purchase fuel, donors may also wish to pay for wood, pellets, or an order of heating oil or propane.  Please contact Martin for more information at 508-252-3263 or write a check to Rehoboth Helping Hands (note fuel assistance) and mail to 127 Martin Street, Rehoboth, MA 02769.

For more info on Food Pantry dates and times, and ordering for holidays, please visit the Helping Hands page.


AGRICULTURAL COMMISSION TO HOLD EQUINE INDUSTRY WORKSHOP

(November 5, 2014)  The Rehoboth Agricultural Commission invites anyone interested to an informational workshop specifically for the equine industry on Thursday, December 11 at 7 PM to be held at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center on Bay State Road. 

    Horse owners are an important part of the agricultural industry in Rehoboth and this group is not typically reached by traditional agricultural assistance programs.

    There will be a presentation from the Rehoboth Board of Health on the town’s horse regulations; information on composting horse manure; and a representative from the USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service to discuss the technical and financial assistance available to horse farms.

    The Rehoboth Agricultural Commission, in partnership with the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts is providing landowners in the Palmer River watershed with information and assistance to prevent nonpoint source pollution.

We will be presenting information on the Palmer River water quality initiative and how you can help through proper manure management, composting, pasture management, and addressing barnyard runoff.


VETERANS DAY OBSERVANCE AND FREE LUNCH FOR REHOBOTH VETS

(November 3, 2014)  Veterans Day will be observed in Rehoboth on Tuesday, November 11 beginning at 11 AM with a ceremony at the cenotaph at the corner of Route 44 and Danforth followed by a walking tour of the new veterans memorial across the road on the Redway Plain. 

   A free lunch will be served to all Rehoboth veterans beginning at 12 noon at American Legion Post 302, 84 Bay State Road.  Menu will be roast pork, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetable, rolls with butter.  Chicken will also be available for some.  Those planning to attend the free luncheon should call Bette Dyer at the Veterans Services Office at 508-252-4467, ext. 3100 to RSVP.


REMINDER FROM RFD: CHANGE YOUR CLOCK, CHANGE YOUR BATTERY

Call for info and assistance with your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

(October 30, 2014)  State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan and Rehoboth Fire Chief Barresi  remind residents that it’s time to pay attention to your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

   “When buying your Halloween candy this year, pick up some batteries for your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” said State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan. “We change our clocks right after Halloween on November 2, so remember when you change your clocks, change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” he added.

   One of the best things we can do as we get our homes ready for winter, is to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries. A working smoke alarm is your first line of defense in a fire. Working smoke alarms give you precious time to use your home escape plan before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible. Time is your enemy in a fire.

    “When changing your alarm’s batteries check to see if your alarms need to be replaced. Smoke alarms last about ten years and older carbon monoxide alarms last 5-7,” said Coan. There are some new CO alarms that just came on the market with a sealed 10-year lithium battery. The batteries in these alarms never need changing, but the entire alarm needs to be replaced every ten years.

     Fire Chief Barresi reminds Rehoboth residents to contact the RFD if you need assistance in assessing your smoke and carbon monoxide detector needs, or need help installing or replacing detectors.  Just contact the RFD at 508-252-3725.


SMALL ATTENDANCE AT SPECIAL TOWN MEETING; RESIDENTS SAY YES

TO CONTINUING PROCESS FOR SENIOR HOUSING AT OLD ANAWAN SCHOOL

(October 28, 2014)  Less than two hundred Rehoboth residents attended last night’s special town meeting held at the high school auditorium over two and a half hours. 

     Residents approved Article 6 to authorize petitioning the general court to allow the town to enter into a 99-year lease for the old Anawan School building next to the senior center.  The housing development team already approved to undertake the 38-unit affordable senior housing project, told the audience they would purchase the land and building outright, but selectmen wanted a 99-lease instead to retain some control over the project.

    While selectmen and other town officials spoke in favor of the article, some residents voiced concern about tying up town property for 99 years, water and septic issues, and age restrictions.  The developers assured residents they will do all the appropriate studies and take whatever measures necessary to assure safe water, septic and environmental concerns.  The project will take several years to complete, and they have yet to determine age or other requirements.  Officials made it clear the playground behind the building, most of which will be demolished and rebuilt, will remain.

   Other warrant articles approved included: an amended Article 1 related to the town’s current budget, and a corrected version of Article 2 related to unemployment compensation, the fire chief salary and wages for the a full-time highway department position.  Article 3 to pay previous fiscal year bill was approved. Article 4, submitted by the selectmen, to spend $14K for a new computerized fuel management system to keep track of gas used by town vehicles was approved. Article 5 to offset receipts for the town’s transfer station overseen by the board of health was approved.   Article 8 was approved to authorize selectmen to “research, develop and participate” in contract(s) to aggregate electricity for residents and businesses in Rehoboth, and other services. 

    A bylaw amendment on the “reconsideration process” at town meeting was approved despite a motion to table. Reconsideration is a process for defeating an article for further debate. Concerns were raised by residents that a significant bylaw change should be brought before a larger audience of residents at annual town meeting, but the article passed.

    Also passed was Article 11 to increase fines for residents $50 for false fire/security alarms.  According to Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta, public safety personnel last year responded to 546 alarms, but  526 were false.

    Three articles were tabled last night including Article 7 to allow National Grid to construct a transformer on the Redway Plain off Route 44.  Because the park commission that oversees the Redway Plain as town property met last Saturday and voted against the proposed new transformer, the issue was tabled. 

    Article 10 to amend bylaw to only allow officials to change (increase) budget line item at town meetings. Also defeated was part-two of Article 12 to amend bylaw on town meeting notification, allowing the town clerk to curtail the existing system of mass-mailing of a printed paper version of the meeting warrant to all households. While going digital will save the town several thousands dollars for each warrant mailing, residents express concern that not everyone uses a computer and could miss information.  They were assured paper copies would be available, by law, at physical locations and additionally sent by mail upon request, but the measure was still defeated. 

     Article 13 regarding zoning bylaw changes on dog kennels was also tabled.


BOS TO MEET BEFORE SPECIAL TOWN MEETING TONIGHT

(October 27, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen are scheduled to meet tonight at 6 PM in Room 211 at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School prior to the Special Town Meeting in the auditorium at 7 PM.

     On the selectmen’s agenda is an interview with a candidate for the position of assistant director of the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center followed by a vote to approve a “statement of road conditions form” for the highway department.

    They will vote to approve a “REPAC audit payment” in an unspecified amount using funds provided the town by Comcast for local public access television. The town remains in ongoing litigation with the non-profit cable access provider REPAC that was discharged from their contract before it expired. The town then assumed control of operation of local access channels and programming.

    Selectmen will vote to approve a request from the fire chief to increase fire details fee.  The town’s firefighters are not town employees, but volunteer on-call personnel.  The BOS will also vote to approve an agreement with SE Mass Law Enforcement Mutual Aid.

   The special town meeting will be called to order after the selectmen’s meeting.  Residents are asked to review the warrant sent by mail to each household in preparation for the meeting.  Thirteen articles are addressed in the warrant and can be found online here.

    

FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN FOR GOFF MEMORIAL HALL AND BLANDING LIBRARY

(October 24, 2014)  The Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) announces a fundraising campaign to raise the remaining $85K needed to fund improvements to allow universal access to the 100-year-old Goff Memorial Hall and Blanding Free Public Library.

     Goff Hall, owned and operated by the RAS, was rebuilt in 1915 following a fire that destroyed an older public hall.  It remains the town’s most significant historic building and a cultural hub for the town. Located in the Rehoboth Village Historic District the building is on the Massachusetts Registry of Historic Places.

      “Currently visitors and patrons with limited mobility find it impossible to navigate the building’s one staircase,” said Tom Charnecki, RAS board president. “Anyone who can’t use the stairs, can not access the restrooms nor the Children’s library located on the lower level,” he added.  “And the vintage 1915-era restrooms are too small to accommodate people trying to assist children or another adult with a disability,” he emphasized.

   While a handicap ramp at the front entrance allows access to the front door, Goff Hall will become more functional for all visitors with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant restrooms.

    Safety will be enhanced for everyone with new entrance/exit options for both the main level and lower level (children’s library) of the building.  Those attending events held on the grounds will have access to restrooms without having to pass through the auditorium or library.

   “No one should have to be carried into and around the building,” said Charnecki, something that happens when disabled patrons attend events. Goff Hall is the town’s only auditorium for public cultural events. “No one should avoid coming to outdoor events because they can’t access a restroom inside the building,” he noted.

     The non-profit RAS has already raised $245K to fund the improvement plan and make the building complaint with ADA regulations.  Residents voted at town meeting to approve a $165K grant using Community Preservation Act funds.  The Massachusetts Cultural Council recently approved a $70K grant; and the Bristol County Savings Bank Foundation donated $10K for the improvement fund.

     The project will focus on maintaining the exterior and interior architectural integrity and distinctive decorative features of Goff Memorial Hall.  The two new handicap accessible public restrooms will be code compliant with a new approved septic tank.

   Exterior access from the lower level will allow future enhancements such as a Children’s Outdoor Reading Garden excavated, landscaped and terraced into the hill of the site.The project includes rehabilitation and enlargement of the existing paved parking area near the building.

     A preservation architect will be retained to ensure compliance with local, state, and federal code requirements along with ongoing preservation of this landmark building. Local contractors will be used wherever possible under RAS oversight.

     The RAS board is appealing to the public in a campaign letter to residents, businesses and organizations.  Campaign organizers hope the remaining $85K to completely fund the project will be raised in order to break ground in early 2015. Click here for full details and online donation button.

  1.       “Back in 1643, the town founders believed in establishing a town with “room for all,” said Charnecki, referring to the definition of the word Rehoboth.  “Now we need to make the library and Goff hall accessible to all.”  

     Donations to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and public charity, are tax deductible to the fullest extent.  The public is asked to consider in-kind donations and corporate matching. Make checks payable to RAS and mail to P.O. Box 2, Rehoboth, MA 02769.

     For more information about the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society’s fund-raising campaign, please contact RAS President Tom Charnecki at 508-252-5718 or Blanding Library Director Laura Bennett at 508-252-4236.


ACCREDITATION TEAM TO VISIT DRRHS IN NOVEMBER

(October 24, 2014)  Principal Kevin Braga of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School announced today that 16 educators will conduct an on-site accreditation visit of the high school from Sunday, November 16 through Wednesday, November 19.  The accreditation visit will be conducted under the direction of the Committee on Public Secondary Schools of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. The visiting committee will be chaired by Michele Saulis, a curriculum leader at Connecticut River Academy in East Hartford, CT. Michele Saulis has had extensive experience in the Association’s accreditation process.

   “The purpose of this accreditation visit is to review and determine from an outside professional viewpoint the extent to which the school is meeting the Standards for Accreditation,” explained Braga.

   As part of the evaluation, the visiting committee will meet with all school constituents, review the school’s self-study, visit a number of classes, and examine examples of student work submitted by the school. During the comprehensive self-study, the faculty attempted to identify the school’s strengths and determined those areas in which changes would be beneficial.

   The chair of the visiting committee, Michele Saulis, said “Our purpose in visiting is to assist the faculty in its pursuit of quality education for its students and provide support for decisions by leaders related to school development.”

   According to Braga, accreditation by the Association “does not imply perfection but does ensure that the school has the resources, leadership, and organization necessary to support the ongoing improvement required of all schools.”

    He pointed out that members of the visiting committee are contributing their services to the school. “This spirit of professional cooperation is one of the noted features of the New England Association,” he said. “The goal of an accreditation visit is to stimulate drive for improvement in the school.”

    One of the major requirements for NEASC membership is that the entire school be evaluated following the extensive self-study by the professional staff. This evaluation is conducted by a visiting committee of professional educators, sent by the Committee, who review all materials prepared by the faculty in self-assessment, visit classes, and talk with students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members during their four-day visit to the school.

    The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, founded in 1885, is the oldest accrediting agency in the country and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the sole agency to award accreditation to PreK-12 schools, elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools in New England.


ARREST MADE IN 2010 REHOBOTH HOME BREAK-IN

(October 22, 2014)  Rehoboth police announced the arrest of a suspect in a December 2010 home break-in on Plain Street .

    Stephen Babbin, age 44 of Warwick RI and Carver MA, was arrested by Rhode Island State Police last weekend on an outstanding Rehoboth police warrant on charges of daytime breaking and entering, vandalism and larceny.  Babbin was taken into custody by RPD on October 20 and arraigned in Taunton District Court.

   According to Rehoboth police,  Detective Jasson Ferreira was recently able to link the suspect with DNA evidence collected from the crime scene.  Ferreira was assisted by Rehoboth Sgt. Brian Ramos and Massachusetts State Police Forensic Services Group. 


MIXED AGENDA FOR TONIGHT’S SELECTMEN’S MEETING

(October 20, 2014)  Following an executive session to discuss collective bargaining for unions representing town employees, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meeting with the Town Moderator Bill Cute and Town Clerk Laura Schwall to review the warrant for next Monday night’s special town meeting.

    They will also review Article 12 of the warrant submitted by Schwall to amend the town general bylaw on “calling of town meeting” to discontinue printing and mailing a paper version of the warrant.  Instead, town meeting warrants will be available on various online sources with paper copies available at the town office.

   Other business to be conducted: a tax classification hearing with the board of assessors; appointments and resignations, and a vote to approve a $15,779 transfer from the town’s reserve fund.

   As always, the public is invited to attend and participate in open public forum.  Tonight’s regular session will begin at 7 PM at the senior center.


DEVELOPERS PRESENT 38-UNIT SENIOR HOUSING PLAN 

(October 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night heard the preliminary plan from non-profit co-developers to transform the old Anawan School into affordable senior housing. The process is expected to take several years.      

    Currently Rehoboth has no affordable housing units. Leasing town-owned property for revitalization as 38 housing units will increases tax revenue and create local construction and management jobs, along with providing safe, affordable housing.

    After sending out a request for proposals, town officials selected the Taunton-based The Neighborhood Corporation and the Providence-based Women’s Development Corporation (WDC) as the preferred developers. Both organizations have impressive records in developing and then managing affordable, energy efficient housing in Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. 

     Carolyn Medina, an attorney and Director of Development for WDC, outlined the plan for transforming the old school which is located on town-owned parcel of property adjacent to the senior center.  She said her organization has recently begun working with the Neighborhood Corp, represented last night by Director Dean Harrison who will seek financing from state agencies and private sources for the Rehoboth project.

   Harrison explained state funding is a very competitive process and he will also be working with federal home loan banks for local funds for construction financing and “targeting soft loan programs.”  He emphasized the rent of the proposed 38 units will be set by HUD at the maximum rate including utilities.

    “We want the public to understand that people will have to pay for these apartments,” he noted. “They won’t be Section 8 housing.”  As an example, he gave the current rents set by HUD at $933 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1120 for a two-bedroom.  The revitalized school property will contain 34 one-bedroom units and 4 two-bedroom units. 

    According to Medina, the original front portion of the school will be renovated and the rear section (an addition to the school) will be demolished.  The new building will complement the look of the senior center next door. The estimated construction cost of the project will be around $5M.

    “This will be great for seniors who are looking to downsize and be able to stay in Rehoboth,” said BOS chairman Mike Costello.

    The developers vowed to work closely with town officials throughout the process during the next few years.

   Voters will be asked at special town meeting on October 27 to approve a measure to petition the state legislature to allow the town to enter into a 99-year lease with the developers, the first requirement in the process to finally bring affordable housing for seniors and senior veterans to Rehoboth.


SELECTMEN APPOINT NEW VETERANS SERVICES OFFICER

(October 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night voted to appoint Jack Taylor to the position of Veterans Services Officer (VSO) after a committee led by Selectman Dave Perry narrowed the field down to one candidate.

   “We are very comfortable with him,” said Perry. “With his experience, he is best to slide into the position.”

    Taylor, a Navy veteran, brings a tremendous amount of experience to the VSO position.  During his career following retirement from active duty, he held the position of Director of the Newport Naval Hospital, and then moved into the non-profit sector working as chief financial officer for the Visiting Nurse Association of Southeastern Massachusetts. After retiring in 2011, he worked as the VSO for the Town of Dighton. Taylor told selectmen working as VSO was “the best job of my career.”

    Selectmen unanimously approved his appointment pending the usual background checks and pre-employment physical.


LIQUOR LICENSE APPROVED FOR NEW MEXICAN RESTAURANT

(October 15, 2014)  Selectmen last night approved an all-alcohol license for Don Tequila’s Mexican Restaurant contingent on finalizing paperwork and inspections by the Rehoboth Board of Health.  They had previously granted a restaurant licence and entertainment license to the parent company Los Compadres.

    The restaurant is expected to open soon at the previous location on Route 44 of Milano’s Restaurant. Owners applied for a liquor license a year ago, but ran into septic system and water issues that needed to be addressed before opening the restaurant and bar.

  

TOWN HISTORIAN’S STORY MAKES FRONT PAGE OF SUN CHRONICLE

(October 14, 2014)  Today’s front page of the Attleboro Sun Chronicle features an article by Rehoboth historian E. Otis Dyer who writes about his “grandfather’s lifelong love affair with motorcars at the dawn of the 20th century.” You can read this very enjoyable and fascinating look at yesteryear by clicking here.


BUSY AGENDA TONIGHT FOR REHOBOTH SELECTMEN

(October 14, 2014)   The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at the senior center beginning with an executive session at 6 PM to discuss contract negotiations and litigation.  The regular public session will be called to order at 7 PM with open forum followed by the town administrator’s report.

    A public hearing will be called around 7:15 for selectmen to hear an application for all liquor license for Don Tequila’s, a new restaurant on Route 44 in the previous location of Milano’s restaurant that closed several years ago. The liquor license hearing will be followed by a utility pole hearing from Mass Electric and Verizon NE for a location on Chestnut Street.  

    Selectmen will interview a candidate for the town employee position of Veterans Services Officer (VSO).  The position has been vacant since late summer following the departure of Steve Arruda who was hired in February as VSO to replace long-time VSO Bill Saunders who retired in March.

    Two article items for the upcoming special town meeting on October 27 will be discussed.  Article 6 is a petition to the state legislature to allow the long-term lease of the old Anawan School for the purpose of “creating senior and senior veterans affordable housing.” 

    Selectmen will also discuss Article 8, a vote to give the board the authority to “research, develop and participate” in a municipal aggregation of electricity.  Ross Perry of SRPEDD and Stefano Loretto of Good Energy are scheduled to attend tonight’s meeting and join in the discussion.

    Tonight’s BOS agenda includes continued discussions on a Lake Street signage request, and article assignment for the special town meeting.  Selectmen will also be accepting a resignation of a member of the Veteran’s Memorial committee; re-appointment of a Rehoboth representative on the Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School; and a few other business items.

    Open public forum will be conducted prior to the selectmen’s individual reports to the community.


TRAFFIC BACK UP ON TREMONT AFTER TWO-VEHICLE CRASH

(October 8, 2014)  Yesterday morning, Rehoboth public safety including police, fire and EMS responded to the scene of a collision between a car and tractor-trailer on Tremont Street. The passengers in the car were evaluated by EMS personnel while Rehoboth Fire contained a fluid spill. The driver of the truck was uninjured. Traffic was backed up on both sides of Tremont Street for approximately 30 minutes. The cause of the accident remains under investigation by the RPD.


CORDIAL FIRST MEETING FOR REGIONAL ASSESSMENT COMMITTEE

(October 2, 2014)  All twelve voting members of the newly formed Regional Assessment Amendment Committee (RAAC) were in attendance for their first meeting held at Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School on Tuesday night.

   Along with the twelve appointees, the three resource (non-voting) members were also in attendance including School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Azar,  District Business Manager Catherine Antonellis, and a consultant to the regional school committee and district.

    According to David Katseff, RAAC co-chair and longtime member of the school committee representing Rehoboth, the meeting was cordial with introductions and a discussion of the “process” for amending the regional school district agreement.  The last time the agreement was updated with any “significant amendment” was 1987.    

    The group anticipates two meetings per month for a period of six to twelve months before making a recommendation that will then require review by legal counsel of both towns, approval by voters at town meeting, and finally approval from the state.

    The next RAAC meeting will be held on Thursday, October 16 at 6:30 PM in the Media Center at DRRHS.  The committee will begin reviewing the existing agreement between the towns of Dighton and Rehoboth to operate a regional school district.  Members of the public are always welcome to attend.


NEW FIRE CHIEF SWORN, NEW SENIOR CENTER DIRECTOR APPOINTED,

NEW SNOW AND ICE REMOVAL POLICY APPROVED

(September 30, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night welcomed the town’s new fire chief along with appointing a new director of the Gladys B. Hurrell Senior Center, and approving this winter’s new snow and ice removal policy.

    Rehoboth Fire Chief Frank Barresi was officially sworn in by Town Clerk Laura Schwall to a packed room of uniformed Rehoboth call firefighters and other area fire chiefs. 

     Previously the deputy chief of the RFD, Barresi now assumes the only full-time town employee position within the all call fire department. Both Senator James Timilty and Representative Steve Howitt were on hand for the swearing in ceremony along with Barresi’s family of three generations of firefighters.

    Barresi thanks retiring Robert Pray, a 38-year fire department veterans, who served the town as fire chief for the last eighteen years.

    Selectmen last night also appointed a new senior center director to replace Norie Palmer who is retiring after many years working for the town at the center, most recently as director and previously as activities director.

    With unanimous support of the directors of the Rehoboth Council on Aging (COA), the governing board for the senior center, Linda Sherman was quickly approved by selectmen.  While nine candidates applied for the position, COA member Mary Beth Moriarty said that some were overqualified and some where under qualified, but Sherman, the center’s administrative assistant, was the perfect fit for the job.

    The town’s snow and ice removal policy was discussed by selectmen with Highway Department Director Mike Tyler.  Facing a reduced town operating budget and a 44% increase in the cost of road salt, Tyler said Rehoboth should “start doing what other towns are already doing” by establishing a system of primary, secondar and tertiary roadways.

   “We treat every road the same, plow every road. sand or salt every road,” explained Tyler.  “We can’t do that anymore.”

    Putting a new system into place now will assure a more cost-effective method of snow and ice removal. “We have to change it in the beginning and stick to our guns,” commented Tyler, as a way to limit over-time paid to town employees and contractors.

   Selectmen agreed with Tyler’s revised plan to divide the town’s roadways into three categories.  Primary roadways will be treated and plowed first, followed by secondary connector roadways, and finally roadways in residential areas or developments. 

    The highway department will wait to sand/salt until snow fall reaches one inch on roads. Plows will go out when snow fall has reached a depth of three inches.  Both primary and secondary roadways will be treated and plowed both in the daytime and overnight, however tertiary roads will only be treated between 7 AM and 3 PM.


REP. STEVEN HOWITT ANNOUNCES PASSAGE OF ‘REHOBOTH HOME RULE

PETITION’ TO HELP TOWN BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE

(September 28, 2014)  Representative Steven S. Howitt (R- Seekonk) is pleased to announce the Governor’s signature and passage into law of Rehoboth’s Home Rule Petition, House Bill H4225, effective September 9, 2014.

   The purpose of this legislation, sponsored by Representative Howitt and co-sponsored by Senator James Timilty, allows the Town of Rehoboth to establish a dedicated account, otherwise known as a capital expenditure fund, to accept and hold revenue from Town situated solar farms.

   The fund, not to exceed $2 million dollars, are exclusively for public building infrastructure improvements in the Town of Rehoboth.

    This is a budget-neutral approach towards addressing the town’s long term capital improvement needs. Examples of how the fund can be used include everything from building a new public safety building or town hall to the replacement of a roof at the highway garage.

   Town Administrator Jeff Ritter confirmed all expenses would be approved by town meeting without having to ask voters to consider a Proposition 2 ½ override, unless the project amount were to exceed the $2 million cap. All appropriations will be authorized by a majority vote at an annual or special town meeting for any purpose related to capital improvements or for the repayment of capital debt.

    “This is a prudent fiduciary strategy to secure the preservation of our public buildings and the Town of Rehoboth for the future”, said Howitt who represents Rehoboth in the 4th Bristol District.


NEW REGIONAL SCHOOL AGREEMENT REVIEW COMMITTEE

(September 26. 2014)  A committee to review the regional school district agreement and propose amendments has been firmly established this week with appointments made by the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee, and selectmen of both Dighton and Rehoboth.

    The Regional Assessment Amendment Committee or RAAC will meet for the first time on Tuesday, September 30 at 6:30 PM in the DRRHS Media Center.  The public is welcome to attend.

    Earlier this year during the winter, Rehoboth selectman began talking about de-regionalizing the school district and breaking off with Dighton. Since then, Rehoboth residents voted against a ballot vote to take advantage of a grant to fix the roof of the high school located in North Dighton.

    At spring town meeting, a majority of residents voted to increase the school budget by almost $1.7M creating a deficit in the town’s operating budget that led to a failed Proposition 2 1/2 override ballot vote. Town department heads and committees were then asked to reduce their previously approved budgets (made contingent on the passing of the override) by 20 percent.  Those reductions, combined with other elements, were needed to reach a balanced budget of $23M that was then approved by residents at a special town meeting in August.

    According to officials, the D-R regional school agreement was last reviewed in 1986.  Since then, regulations have changed and the agreement is outdated.  The first step to de-regionalizing the district, in whole or in part, must be a review of the current agreement. Although some communities have tried, successful de-regionalization is rare in Massachusetts because the Dept. of Primary and Secondary Education encourages and offers benefits to regionalized districts.

   Towns also face the cost of the actual legal process of de-regionalization, commonly estimated at more than a million dollars.  A town that completely de-regionalizes faces hiring separate administration, losing benefits related to operating a regional system, and establishing a new high school.  New construction is expensive. Somerset’s newly constructed high school cost over $82M.

    RAAC is expected to meet twice monthly for a period of six to twelve months.  Co-chaired by school committee members David Katseff and Chris Andrade, the committee consists of two more representatives from the school committee, Tiffany Bartholomew and Sue Lorenz.

    Two members were appointed by the school committee, Susan McBride from Rehoboth and Tony Roderick from Dighton.  Rehoboth selectmen appointed Bill Dalpe, Jr. as their community representative and Glenn Jefferson was appointed by Dighton selectmen as their community representative.

    Each town appointed a selectmen and a member of their finance committee to serve on RAAC.  Selectman Skip Vadnais and FinCom member George Solas represent Rehoboth.  Serving as the Dighton officials are Selectman Dean Cronin and FinCom member Ed Swartz.

    Also serving on RAAC are non-voting members School Superintendent Anthony Azar, the D-R district business manager Catherine Antonellis and the school district’s consultant.


BUSY AGENDA FOR SELECTMEN TONIGHT

(September 22, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have a busy public agenda tonight starting at 7 PM following an executive session for contract negotiations and an update on ongoing litigation involving the town.

    Four roadways will the subject of “order of taking” hearings beginning at approximately 7:15.  The roadways include Bella Woods, Medberry Lane, Red Fox Road and Round Farm Round.  Selectmen will then hear a request from Boy Scout Troop 13 to use the Rehoboth town office on Peck Street for their weekly Monday night meetings.

    The agenda for tonight’s meeting also includes a hearing a proposal from the Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter (FRAS) for gutter replacement at the shelter.  Selectmen will conduct a discussion with Bob Materne, chair of the conservation commission on various issues and an appointment for a projects overseer.

    The BOS will vote to refer the proposed Zoning Bylaw Amendment, tabled at spring town meeting, to the planning board.  Selectmen will aslo review a contract for services agreement between the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts and the town’s agricultural commission.

    A discussion will be held on the BOS’s appointment of a citizen representative for the Regional Agreement Amendment Committee (RAAC).  They will also discuss a letter received from the Massachusetts Association of Regionals Schools.  The Rehoboth selectmen first began discussing the prospect of de-regionalizing the school district several months ago.  RAAC was recently established to examine the existing regional agreement with representatives from both towns along with the school committee.

    Also on tonight’s meeting agenda are budget issues including reserve fund transfer requests, and approving the payment of an invoice for legal services using money from the local cable access funds. Public access television through a contract with Comcast is currently managed by the town rather than an independent nonprofit organization.  The town remains involved in lawsuits related to severing a contractual agreement with the prior nonprofit public access operator.

    Representatives from the finance committee will discuss the FY16 budget calendar with selectmen.

    Selectmen will vote to approve licenses for a new Mexican restaurant to be opened on Route 44.


REHOBOTH MAN ARRESTED ON CHARGES OF RAPING D-R STUDENT

(September 19, 2014)  Rehoboth police arrested a Rehoboth man yesterday on child rape charges after being called by school officials to Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School to interview the alleged victim.

    The fifteen-year-old student had reported he had been assaulted by an unknown male adult the previous evening around 6 PM in a wooded area off Providence Street.

    Late yesterday morning, Officer Jasson Ferreira met with school officials and the teen who reported he had been walking on Providence Street when he was approached by a man driving a blue sedan and lured into the woods where the alleged assault took place.

    Members of the RPD apprehended 34-year-old Daniel Ferreira of Chestnut Street late yesterday afternoon and charges him with rape of a child under 16, and enticement of a child under 16. Bail was set by Taunton District Court clerk Doug Darnbrough at $100K.  Unable to post bail, Ferreira was transferred to Bristol County House of Corrections in New Bedford overnight.  He is set to be arraigned today in Taunton District Court.

   

D-R SCHOOL DISTRICT RELEASES STATEMENT ON INCIDENT

(September 19, 2014)  In response to yesterday’s arrest of a suspect in the alleged sexual assault of a Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School student, the following statement has been released by School Superintendent Dr. Anthony Azar:

   “We are troubled and saddened about the events that have unfolded over the last 24 hours. Although this incident occurred well outside of the school day, it certainly gives rise to all of us to remain vigilant in protecting our children at home, at play, and at school. Counseling teams in all buildings, as well as staff, have been alerted and will be available to both students and staff as the need arises. We applaud our public safety officials for their quick response to this incident, and as always protecting the well-being of our students. All parents were alerted to this incident through our One Call Now communication system.”


NEW SCHOOL DISTRICT COMMITTEE SEEKS CITIZEN REPRESENTATIVES

(September 17, 2014)  Two Rehoboth citizen volunteer representatives are needed for the recently created Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee’s Regional Agreement Amendment Committee (RAAC). Rehoboth residents who may be interested in volunteering to serve as a citizen representative on a newly formed Regional Agreement Amendment Committee (RAAC) to reassess the regional agreement are encouraged to apply ASAP for an appointment to be made next week.   

   The regional school committee, along with the boards of selectmen from both towns, agreed to appoint two citizen representatives each.  One will be appointed by the respective town’s selectmen, and the other by the regional school committee.  Applicants must be able to attend two meetings per month for a period of six to twelve months. Interested parties should apply immediately.

    Those who wish to seek an appointment by the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen should send a letter of interest along with a resume and completed Talent Bank form to Rehoboth Town Administrator Jeff Ritter at the Rehoboth Town Office.  You can email him with any questions at jritter@town.rehoboth.ma.us.

    Those interested in being the school committee’s appointee to RAAC, should immediately send a letter of interest and resume to Dr. Anthony Azar, Superintendent.  Please address that correspondence to: Eliza Couture, Chairman, Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee, 2700 Regional Road, North Dighton, MA 02764.

    Applications must be in by Friday, September 19.  The Rehoboth selectmen plan to make their appointment on Monday, September 22. 

    The appointments will be announced at the next regular meeting of the school committee on Tuesday, September 23.  


DEADLINE FAST APPROACHING FOR LION’S CITIZENS AWARDS NOMINATIONS

(September 16, 2014)  The Rehoboth Lions are accepting nominations through Saturday, September 20 for their 14th annual Citizens Recognition Awards to be presented at a banquet on October 22 at the Venus de Milo in Swansea, MA.

    Everyone is invited to submit a nomination for the twelve awards presently annually to individuals who either live or work in Rehoboth, or an educator/staff from Palmer River Elementary, Beckwith Middle, and DRRHS.

    For more details about the awards and how to nominate, go to the Features page or visit the Lion’s website.  Nominations must be submitted by September 20 to Russell Latham, PO Box 633, Rehoboth, MA 02769. The following info is required: nominator’s name, contact info and signature along with the nominee’s name and contact info (specific which award) along with an additional narrative page explaining your reasons for nominating that person.


SELECTMEN TO DISCUSS TOWN SNOW REMOVAL POLICY

(September 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen will meet tonight at the senior center with a relatively short agenda including a discussion with Highway Dept. Superintendent Mike Tyler on the town’s snow removal policy.

    Other road-related items on tonight’s agenda include voting to approve the Chapter 90 final report with a total figure of $210K and approving the Winter Rapid Recovery Road program final report with a figure of $92K.

    Selectmen will appoint an interim Veterans Service Officer/Veterans Graves Officer, and make appointment to the recently formed Regional School Agreement Review Committee.

    They will review the draft warrant for the upcoming fall special town meeting scheduled for October 27.


DELINQUENT DOG OWNERS MAY FACE ARREST WARRANTS

(September 12, 2014)  Rehoboth’s Animal Control Officer Jane Foster issued a warning to dog owners during open public forum at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting.

    Dog owners who are delinquent in renewing annual dog licenses will be first receive a citation and fine.  If licenses with proof of current rabies vaccination are not renewed, a warrant will be issued for the dog owner’s arrest.

    “You will end up in court and you can be arrested,” said Foster.  

     Selectmen Skip Vadnais noted the issue of unlicensed dogs is taken very seriously by officials.  If an unlicensed dog is collected by animal control, the animal will be cared for at the animal shelter behind the town office.  Owners then face a fine for the annual license, a late fee, and shelter boarding fees.  If they owner does not comply, an arrest warrant will be issued.


ANIMAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE NOW COMPLETE

(September 12, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen recently completed making appointments to the town’s new Animal Advisory Committee created in April.

    The five-member committee, created to advise the selectmen on issues of animal welfare, includes two alternate members who can attend meetings but have no formal vote.  Jane Foster, the town’s animal control officer will also play an active role working with the advisory committee.

    As liaison with the committee, Selectman Skip Vadnais stated the group will be charged with addressing important issues and policies related to companion animals, farm animals and wildlife.  The committee will advise selectmen with their recommendations. 

   The five members of the committee are: Koren Collins, Richard Cohen, DVM, Amy Hurd, DVM, Richard Panofsky, and Lynn Pray.  The two alterate members are Elizabeth Botelho and Robin Seaman.  The group will begin meeting soon.

   

REHOBOTH SELECTMEN APPOINT NEW FIRE CHIEF

(September 10, 2014)  On Monday night, Rehoboth selectmen voted unanimously to promote Deputy Fire Chief Frank Barresi to the position of full-time fire chief to replace Chief Robert Pray who is retiring.

   Rehoboth firefighters filled the back of the meeting room at the senior center in support of Barresi’s appointment.  Barresi, a 27-year veteran of the Rehoboth FD, received chief level accreditation in June through the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission, a gubernatorial appointed board that has established a process for uniform credentialing for the level of fire chief.

   Pray, who is retiring after 38 years in the department and 18 years as chief, told selectmen he was confident the town’s on-call fire department would be left in good hands with Barresi in charge.  BOS chair Mike Costello said Barresi was the best choice to lead the department.

    While Pray’s last day on the job is October 3, his official retirement date is March 6, 2015.


SENIOR CENTER DIRECTOR SUBMITS RESIGNATION

(September 10, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen have accepted the resignation of Rehoboth Senior Center Director Norie Palmer effective next month. 

    Palmer served as the center’s activities director for several years before being appointed to the position of director in September 2011.  She told selectmen she was submitting her resignation with a heavy heart.  She and her husband are moving permanently to their second home in Florida. Palmer currently serves as vice-president of the non-profit, Friends of the Rehoboth Animal Shelter.

    The senior center director is a town department head position who works together with the Rehoboth Council on Aging board of directors to manage senior center operations and staff. In March 2013, the salaries of senior center staff were hotly debated prior to spring town meeting.  While selectmen objected to raising salaries, town voters approved the pay increase for the director from $29K per year to $36K.


REHOBOTH ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY RECEIVES $10K GRANT FROM

BRISTOL COUNTY SAVINGS FOUNDATION FOR

(September 8, 2014) Bristol County Savings Bank (BCSB), through its charitable foundation, recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) specifically to help fund a $165K building rehabilitation project at Goff Memorial Hall.

   The foundation grant will be combined with other funding sources. Rehoboth voters approved funding 50% of the project using Community Preservation Act funds. The RAS must raise the remainder from other grants and public fundraising.

    Built in 1915, Goff Hall houses the Blanding Public Library and an auditorium used by many groups in Rehoboth for meetings and other events. The renovation is required to make the building accessible to patrons with disabilities including the construction of handicapped-access restrooms. The building currently does not meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The new restroom facilities will be part of an addition to the building.  All exterior work must meet historic preservation guidelines.

     “Supporting the communities we serve is a core principle of the Bank so we look forward to seeing firsthand the positive impact these not-for-profits will continue to make throughout the greater Attleboro area,” said Patrick J. Murray, Jr., President of the BCSCF and President & CEO of BCSB.

      Bristol County Savings Bank is an active supporter in the communities in which it serves. The Foundation was established in 1996 as part of the Bank’s 150th anniversary celebration.  Its purpose is to fund needs that contribute to the economic and the social well-being of the people and institutions located in the in the bank’s service area with particular emphasis on education and literacy, economic development and housing for the low- to moderate-income population. 


BUSY AGENDA SET TONIGHT FOR SELECTMEN WITH RESIGNATIONS,

APPOINTMENTS, WARRANT FOR OCTOBER SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(September 8, 2014) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have a lengthy agenda for tonight’s regular session at the senior center beginning at 7 PM following an closed executive session to address personnel issues and contract negotiations.

    After a public hearing on proposed tree removal on Williams Street, the BOS will vote to accept resignations and make appointments and reappointments to municipal committee.  They will also vote to accept the resignation of Norellen Palmer, the present senior center director.  An in-house applicant for the position of fire chief will be interviewed.

    Selectmen will continue their discussion, for the fourth time, to place an additional stop sign at Fairview Avenue and Ash Street to make that intersection a three-way stop.  Another intersection on Fairview at Homestead was make into a three-way stop earlier this summer.

    Also on tonight’s agenda is voting to increase the Valor Act tax abatement from $350 to $400 for those veterans volunteering a designated number of work to the town in exchange for reduced property taxes.

    The board will review the draft for the October 27 special town meeting.  The warrant is expected to be closed on September 18.  As always, open public forum will follow the posted agenda items.


TOWN OF REHOBOTH POSTS TWO DEPARTMENT HEAD JOBS

(August 30, 2014) The Town of Rehoboth has officially posted to department head job openings, the position of Fire Chief and the position of Veterans Services Officer.

  Longtime veteran fire chief Robert Pray, whose retirement has been planned and anticipated for the last year, will leave duty in early October.  His official retirement date is in March 2015. 

    The postion of Veterans Services Officer, aka Veterans Agent, is currently vacant. Selectmen hired Steve Arruda several months ago to replace Bill Saunders, who retired from the VSO position after fourteen years of service. Arruda, for reasons unspecified, is no longer a town employee.  Saunders has stepped in to serve temporarily through September 16.  Click here to view both job postings.

   

OFFICIALS MAKE 6-MONTH SCHOOL COM APPOINTMENT

(August 28, 2014) Rehoboth resident Katherine Cooper had been appointed to a six-month term on the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee. She fills an open seat left by the resignation of Ray Medeiros prior to the end of his elected term.

   Four candidates were interviewed for over an hour on Monday night by the five Rehoboth selectmen along with the four Rehoboth representatives of the school committee. The other candidates for the temporary appointment were Andrea Wasylow, Rachel Philip and David Reed.  All four were applauded by selectmen for their outstanding resumes and desire to serve the community on the regional district committee.

    The working relationship between selectmen and school committee members grew increasingly antagonist since the beginning of this year. Selectmen began discussing de-regionalizing the school district soon after the school committee announced a calculation mistake of over a million dollars in the yearly assessment for the school budget. Selectmen and candidates clearly acknowledged the obvious discord and rehashed elements of “divisiveness and level of mistrust.”

   When asked about their opinion on de-regionalizing, all four candidates said they would need to have more information, but offhand thought it would not be a cost-effective course of action. They did agree the regional district agreement has not been examined or changed in years and that would be an appropriate next step.

    The selectmen and Rehoboth members of the school committee voted 6 to 3 on a singular motion to appoint Cooper.  The permanent seat is up for election next April.


REHOBOTH POLICE ARREST TEEN AFTER HIGH SPEED CHASE

(August 27, 2014) Rehoboth police yesterday evening arrested a Swansea teen on Route 6 for an array of vehicular charges.

    According to the police press release, Sgt. Medeiros and patrolman Paul McGovern were monitoring traffic on Rt. 6 when several vehicles passed their location at a extremely high rate of speed and appeared to be racing.

   James S. Cornelison, age 18, was taken into custody after being pursued by Sgt. James Medeiros at speeds in excess of 90 mph on Route 6 in Rehoboth into the town of Swansea. Police say Cornelison’s vehicle, an Infinity, “turned down Baptist Street which is a dead end and came to a skidding stop.”

    Cornelison was charged with drag racing, reckless operation, refusing to stop for police and speeding. He was released on $540 cash bail and was scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.


REHOBOTH SELECTMEN TO MEET WITH DIGHTON SELECTMEN,

INTERVIEW CANDIDATES FOR SCHOOLCOM SEAT

(August 25, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen today have a packed agenda for tonight’s BOS meeting at the senior center beginning  with a chat with the Dighton selectmen followed by interview of candidates for the empty Rehoboth school committee seat. 

    Selectmen will continue a discussion of a request to place a third stop sign at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street, a request for a guardrail at 299 Plain Street, and a request to use the old Anawan School for a yard sale.

    Operation of the Blanding Public Library will be addressed when selectmen vote to authorize a payment of $101K to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, and sign a grant agreement between the town and RAS.

     Other business will include accepting Chapter 90 money of $48,333 for Wheeler Street, $29K for drainage improvement in various locations, and $273K for resurfacing roadways.

    The town’s license renewal agreement with Comcast will be discussed along accepting $100K as a first payment for the license, along with approving the payment of $14K for legal fees related to the license renewal.  Selectmen will vote to accept additional Comcast monies of $89K for operation of RehobothTV, the selectmen-managed public access television operation.  Two weeks ago, selectmen requested a yearly payment of $40K to $50K from the Town of Dighton because RehobothTV broadcasts school committee meetings on Channel 15, a shared educational channel with Dighton Comcast subscribers.

    Also on tonight’s agenda will be a discussion of the October special town meeting and warrant articles for that meeting.  Selectmen will also vote to sign a pilot solar agreement with Blue Wave Capital for a potential solar farm at the Rehoboth landfill.

    The regular session of tonights BOS meeting will begin at 7 PM following an executive session featuring contract negotiations, the old Anawan School, a town building, and personnel issues.


KEVIN BRAGA NAMED NEW DRRHS PRINCIPAL

(August 21, 2014)  In a press release issued yesterday from Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Anthony C. Azar Kevin Braga was named the new principal at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

    Braga, a former history teacher at DRRHS for four years, was appointed one of the school’s assistant principals in 2011. A Navy veteran, Braga is a graduate of Bridgwater State College (now Bridgewater State University) were he earned a masters degree in Educational Leadership. 

   “We look forward to working with Mr. Braga as part of the Administrative T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Accomplishes More),” said Azar, “and we are confident that he will meet the extremely high expectations that we have set for him in this new role.” 

    The community is invited to meet Principal Braga and the school’s administrative team on Wednesday, August 27 at 6:30 PM in the high school’s media center.


LIVING HISTORY:  SEE REHOBOTH MINUTEMEN AT FORT TABOR

(August 18, 2014)  The Rehoboth Minute Company-13th Continental Regiment will participate in a living history encampment on Saturday, August 23 and Sunday, August 24 at Fort Tabor/Fort Rodman in New Bedford.

    The company of re-enactors, both militia and civilian, will be camping at the site all weekend. Visitors are welcome free of charge from 9 AM each day.  Battles will be held on the lawn surrounding the fort at 1 PM on both Saturday and Sunday.

   Considered a strategic location since the Revolutionary War, the fort was build in 1861.  A military museum on the site features local artifacts from every major war.  Both the museum and fort will be open to visitors all day.

    There will be two camps, one American Colonial and one British Regulars, with demonstrations of daily camp life with various colonial crafts and military drills.

    The Rehoboth company invites Rehoboth residents to visit them at their camp next weekend. Fort Taber is located at 1000 Rodney French Blvd/Clarks Point in New Bedford.


SELECTMEN SEEK APPLICANTS FOR SCHOOL COMMITTEE SEAT

(August 14, 2014)  Earlier this week, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen accepted the resignation of Raymond Medeiros from the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School District Committee.

   “Ray will be missed as a valuable member of the School Committee,” said BOS chair Mike Costello.  “It will be a challenge to appoint a Rehoboth resident with the same level of skills, commitment and experience he brought to each meeting.”

   Selectmen now seek applicants to fill the unexpired term of Medeiros or until the town’s annual election on April 6, 2015. Those interested should submit a letter of interest, a resume, and talent bank form to the selectmen’s office by noon on Thursday, August 21.

    Selectmen plan to meet with the four remaining elected Rehoboth school committee representatives on Monday, August 25 to interview candidates.  If an appointment is not made that night, the position will remain open until filled.


REHOBOTH CULTURAL COUNCIL WELCOMES GRANT APPLICATIONS

(August 13, 2014)  The Rehoboth Cultural Council, the local affiliate of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, announces the 2015 grant application period from September 1 through October 15.

   The local council receives an allotment of funds through the state council to grant to applicants for programs and projects promoting the arts, humanities and social sciences. Last year the council awarded fifteen grants for a variety of events or programs. Monies awarded by the local council are not part of the town budget.

   Grant-funded programs must be completed between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2015. Grants are awarded on a reimbursement basis. Applicants should include a letter of support from the host agency or venue with their application. Teachers are encouraged to apply for grants which will help to defray the cost of field trips to cultural events. Applications must be postmarked by October 15, 2014.

    Volunteers from the Rehoboth Cultural Council will be available at the Blanding Library to assist potential grant recipients with the application process. The information sessions will be held on three dates in September at the Blanding Library: Thursday, September 4 from 1 to 3 PM; Thursday, September 11 from 12:30 to 2:30 PM;  and Wednesday, September 17 from 6 to 8 PM. Information and grant applications may be found at  mass-culture.org/Rehoboth.  

    The local counsel is actively seeking new members with an interest in promoting the arts in the local community. The group meets approximately four times a year. Those interested should complete a talent bank form and submit it at the town office.  Council members are appointed by the selectmen to a three-year term. 


SELECTMEN WANT DIGHTON TO PAY FOR ACCESS TO EDU CHANNEL 15

(August 12, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night expressed their intent to ask the Town of Dighton to contribute a undetermined sum for educational public access broadcast on Comcast Channel 15 by RehobothTV, the town operated public access provider.

    According to Selectman Sue Pimental, “our sister town of Dighton doesn’t contribute anything” to the expenses of broadcasting regional school committee meetings on Channel 15. She suggested Dighton pay a sum of $40K to $50K each year to receive Channel 15. Pimental previously stated that if Dighton fails to contribute, the school committee meetings could be broadcast on Rehoboth’s Channel 9, eliminating access by Dighton residents.

   Dighton broadcasts on their own government channel, but Comcast subscribers in that town receive Channel 15 from DRRHS since it is a regional school district’s educational channel. Currently RehobothTV provides the function of taping and broadcasting school committee meetings from the school.     

  In other business conducted last night, three of the four selectmen in attendance voted to approve the appointment of Kevin Silvestre to the Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency (REMA).  Selectmen Pimental objected to the appointment because Silvestre is not a resident of the town, but the other selectmen approved waiving that requirement.  Silvestre said he lives only minutes away and applied to become a member of REMA because he has lifelong ties with the town and wants to be of service.  Selectman Joe Tito said Silvestre, a pharmacist, brings a level of expertise and can help sheltered residents manage their medications during an emergency, particularly elders who may be on several maintenance medications.

    Selectmen last night also addressed the issue of a request to put a third stop sign at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street. Mike Costello, BOS chairman, said he had reports from both the highway department and police department with determinations that a third sign was unnecessary. Residents who live near the corner say a combination of elements make the intersection dangerous. 

   Selectmen acknowledged drivers on Fairview ignore the posted 25 mph speed limit about the sharp curve, while drivers coming in the opposite direction fail to stop. When asked about increasing police presence, Selectmen Skip Vadnais said recent budget cuts may prevent the police department from patrolling the area and stopping traffic violators.  Costello suggested the town look at putting up more cautionary signage. The issue was tabled until the selectmen meet again in two weeks.

   The BOS also accepted the resignation of Ray Medeiros from the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee.  Medeiros, who served as chair of the school committee last year, had eight months remaining to his elected term. Selectmen will be charged with appointing someone who finish out the term before next spring’s town election.


BACK TO REGULAR BUSINESS TONIGHT FOR BOARD OF SELECTMEN

(August 11, 2014)  With last week’s special town meeting over and an approved budget finally in place, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen return to regular town business tonight at 7 PM at the senior center.

   Following the town administrator’s report, selectmen will continue a discussion of  a Class II auto license for Lopes Auto Sales with company manager Vilma Perez. 

    Kevin Silvestre will be interviewed by selectmen for an appointment to Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency (REMA).

    Also on the agenda tonight are several topics of discussion.  Selectmen will discuss funding for the town-operated RehobothTV that provides programming on the town’s three public access channels provided through Comcast. Selectmen will also discuss raising departmental licensing and permitting fees, a process they have discussed previously to increase town revenue.  They will also spend time addressing the FY2016 budget.

    For the second time this month, selectmen will discuss a request for a third stop sign at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street.  The board will also vote to approve a Chapter 90 project request for appraisal work for the Wheeler Street Bridge restoration. 


200+ VOTERS APPROVE REDUCED BUDGET AT SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(August 8, 2014)  More than 230 Rehoboth voters last night at special town meeting quickly approved a reduced FY15 budget after listening to heartfelt appeals from officials.

    In the last few weeks, selectmen and the finance committee met numerous times to come up with ways to reduce the budget by almost $1.7M. Town department heads and committees were asked to reduce their previously approved budgets (made contingent on the passing of the override) by 20 percent.  Those reductions were combined with other elements to reach a balanced budget of $23M. 

    Officials were fast to remind residents the town’s fiscal crisis is not over, but approving their recommended budget last night accomplished several things including eliminating the need for layoffs of town employees.  With the newly approved budget, the town can maintain current level of operation and services offered at the senior center and library, protect the town’s bond rating. However, the reallocation of resources may cause delays in addressing essential, but not emergency, services. 

    “This does not heal us, just stops the bleeding,” said Selectmen Joe Tito. “There will be reductions of those nice-to-have things,” he added, “and new polices will be introduced to manage the new normal.”  Fees for town services and permits are likely to be increased. Plans to renovate existing town buildings, build a new town office, or hire more town employees have been put on hold.

     Along with departmental cuts, the budget gap was bridged by increased state aid of $25K, a reduction of $153K no longer needed in the school budget, anticipated local revenue growth, and using $500K the town made with sales of town real estate last year. That money had been earmarked for renovations to police and fire headquarters.

   “The heroes here are the town department heads and committee chairs,” said Finance Committee Chair Mike Deignan.  “This budget is balanced down to the penny.”

    Mike Costello, chair of the board of selectmen, explained to voters that while public safety will not be jeopardized, the police budget “took a hit” with a reduced budget that eliminated salary and incentive pay to promote the acting chief to permanent chief.  The police department must also cut down their detective division and reassign those officers to patrol duties.  They will not be able to replace the full-time school police officer who recently resigned.  That full-time position created after the Sandy Hook tragedy.

    The fire department also reduced their budget to cut down on duty time of on-call firefighters for routine station duty.  The highway department will not be able to hire additional employees.

   Costello reminded voters the town will face a “crisis next year as well” and that citizen involvement in town meeting is crucial.


REHOBOTH RESIDENTS INVITED TO NEW SOLAR ‘GARDEN’ ON BARNEY AVENUE

(August 6, 2014)   Local residents are invited to a grand opening event of the 997 kW Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array on Wednesday, August 13 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM at Crestwood Country Club in Rehoboth. The event will include tour of the solar installation following a program of speakers including representatives from Clean Energy Collective, Department of Energy, Weymouth Bank and leaders in the Massachusetts energy industry, and community solar customers.  Michael Costello, chairman of the Rehoboth Board of Selectman, will also speak.

   Affordability and accessibility are the two prime ingredients that give consumers choice in clean energy ownership. Through CEC’s Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array, nearly 1 megawatt of locally-made clean energy production is available to National Grid customers who cannot or prefer not to build a stand-alone PV system onsite. Representatives from CEC will also reveal plans for significantly accelerating solar’s momentum in Massachusetts.

   Community-owned solar allows home and business owners the option to own solar panels without the need to install them. Those attending the opening event will enjoy free ice cream from Like No Udder! and learn how to generate your own green power.


OFFICIALS TALK LOGISTICS FOR SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(August 5, 2014)   Rehoboth selectmen last night, together with the town moderator and town clerk, discussed logistics for the upcoming special town meeting to be held Thursday night at the high school.

    Along with standard procedural elements, officials addressed concerns with civility, safety and assuring the democratic process for what may become an emotionally charged meeting.

   The town faces a $1,658,740 budget deficit resulting from approval at May town meeting to increase the school budget by an equivalent amount.  That measure resulted in voters approving the town’s remaining operating budget contingent on a tax override ballot question in July. 

   Since voters failed to pass the override, selectmen charged town departments and boards to propose budget cuts of at least 20 percent.  While nearly $900K in proposed cuts have closed the gap, the town still faces a significant shortfall of over $700K to reach a balanced budget.

    While Rehoboth voters are being asked to consider three warrant articles related to the town budget, the selectmen’s recommendations on a budget (article 1) and a supplemental budget (article 2) won’t be available to the public until Thursday when it will be distributed to voters at the special town meeting. They say they hope to have it on the town’s website earlier if possible.

    Article three is a petition from the Blanding Library put on the warrant, as a procedural measure, to assure payments that have already been approved by voters in May.  The petition was circulated when selectmen tabled a scheduled payment to the library after repeated warnings the library faced closure if the override did not pass.  Selectmen released payment soon after the petition was submitted.

     “We all know we have a difficult night ahead of us,” said Town Moderator Bill Cute, who noted emotions are likely to run high. He urged residents to prepare their statements ahead of time. “You’re going to get three minutes,” he emphasized.  “Think about what you want to say.”

    With a fire capacity of 800 in the high school auditorium, overflow could be directed to the gymnasium. “I intend to make sure every seat (in the auditorium) is filled,” added Cute.  He cautioned residents if they don’t arrive early, they may not be able to sit where they want. 

   “It will be a night where people will have to be patient and flexible,” cautioned Cute, who added he “was not going to tolerate any game playing or grandstanding.” 

    Because the high school is located in Dighton, officials there require Rehoboth to hire an extra Dighton police officer and firefighter for a projected cost of $896 to cover two four-hours shifts if the meeting runs over.

   “That’s a neighborly thing,” said Selectmen Sue Pimental with irony, after hearing there is no option to paying for extra details.  Dighton officials will force an adjournment if the auditorium reaches capacity and there are no additional police/fire there on duty. Town Clerk Laura Schwall said she had asked Dighton officials if having extra Rehoboth police and firefighters there as backup would work and was told no.

      Pimental later on suggested Dighton be charged a fee for broadcast of regional school committee meetings on the shared Comcast public access educational Channel 15.  According to Pimental, Comcast subscribers in Dighton “get to see Channel 15 without paying for it.”  She suggested billing Dighton, or “move school committee meetings to Channel 9 (Rehoboth’s government channel), or discontinue Channel 15 in Dighton.”  Rehoboth selectmen took over direct operation of three public access channels after breaking the contract with the previous non-profit cable access provider resulting in ongoing litigation from both sides.

    Pimental also said she “bit her tongue” regarding recent complaints by “school committee members about microphones.”  Viewers in both towns reported ongoing problems with poor audio quality, along with a loud buzzing sound, at recent school committee meetings making it impossible to hear what was being said.    

   On Thursday night if relegated to the gym, voters must watch the meeting via projector with a three-minute broadcast delay. If anyone wishes to make a statement, they must walk to the auditorium.  Votes will be counted in both places and results relayed by walkie-talkie.  More tellers have already been scheduled to be in both rooms.

  The meeting is expected to be lengthy if residents don’t immediately vote to approve the selectmen’s recommended budgets.  If business is not completed on Thursday night, the meeting will reconvene the next evening. This is due to a narrow time constraint if voters approve another tax override ballot question, one that must be conducted in September before the town’s temporary 90-day budget expires. This also means added expense to conduct another election days apart from the state primary. 


TOWN MOVING FORWARD ON POTENTIAL REVENUE SOURCES

(August 5, 2014)  Town Administration Jeff Ritter told selectmen last night there has been progress on two measures that may be revenue producing for the town.

    The creation of a solar revenue account, approved by residents at town meeting, has reached the stage of a third reading in committee before heading to the state house and senate for approval, and finally the governor’s signature.

    Six months ago Selectman Sue Pimental (then chair) signed a grant application for a feasibility study for a joint communications center that will be shared by three communities - Rehoboth, Dighton, Fall River.  “The grant has been funded,” reported Ritter.  He explained the grant approval is just another step in the process of realizing savings and increasing revenue.


BOS AND FINCOM TO CONTINUE PREPPING FOR SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(August 4, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at the senior center in both executive and regular session at the senior center.  They will be joined by members of the town’s finance committee in reviewing the impact of proposed budget reductions to be recommended for voter approval at the special town meeting this Thursday at the high school.

    The selectmen’s agenda for tonight’s meeting includes a discussion with Town Moderator Bill Cute and Town Clerk Laura Schwall in preparation for the special town meeting that is expected to be lengthy and possible spill over to the next night.  Selectmen have already posted a meeting time for Friday, August 8 in the event the town meeting must be continued.  There is a timing element involved in completing the meeting quickly.  Voters this week may decide to approve another Proposition 2 1/2 override ballot vote to cover remaining deficit to the town budget.  That ballot vote must be scheduled before the temporary budget expires in September.

    Other business before the BOS tonight include several article items related to the Wheeler Street Bridge project.


REHOBOTH POLICE LOOKING FOR HOME INVADER

(August 1, 2014)  Rehoboth police were dispatched yesterday afternoon to a home on Pierce Lane in response to a report of a breaking and entering in progress.

   While in route, officers learned a female resident was on the 911 line hiding in a bathroom after finding an unknown male standing in her kitchen.  Three officers arrived at the scene simultaneously, but the suspect was gone.  Lt. Michael Brady, Sgt. Norman Todd, and Patrolman Louis DiBacco searched the home and adjacent areas including a golf course, but were unable to locate the man described as white and approximately 35 to 40 years of age.

    Officers discovered an open kitchen window with the screen pried apart. Kitchen items near the window were knocked over.

     According to the resident, she was home alone when she heard banging noises and her dog barking.  She went to kitchen area and saw a man with a crew cut wearing a black tee-shirt with the word “Boston” standing there.  He reportedly cursed and quickly exited through the open kitchen window.

    The resident’s mother soon arrived and noticed a bottle of ginger ale was missing from a cooler located on the porch near the open kitchen window.

    The scene was photographed and processed by both RPD detectives Jasson Ferreira and Nicole Eastwood. A canvass of the immediate area by Sgt. Todd proved unfruitful.  Rehoboth police are seeking the public’s assistance.  If anyone has any information regarding this incident, please contact the RPD at 508-252-3722 and ask for either Detective Ferreira or Detective Eastwood.


PROPOSED BUDGET CUTS STILL LEAVE $655K DEFICIT

(July 30, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen and other officials have met five times in the last nine days to address the $1,658,740 shortfall in the town budget resulting from the recent defeat of a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override ballot question on July 15.

   Selectmen and finance committee members are scheduled to meet again tonight and tomorrow to continue discussion about the budget with town departments and committees.  Selectmen, who will recommend an adjusted budget for voter approval at special town meeting on Thursday, August 7, last week asked department heads and committees to reduce their budgets by at least 20 percent. 

   On Monday, selectmen and finance committee members heard from representatives of the town clerk, board of health, forestry department, animal control, the council on aging that operates the senior center, board of assessors, planning board, conservation commission, and cemetery commission.

    Combined with budget cuts presented last week by public safety departments of police, fire and highway, the total amount of suggested cuts by Monday night was $850K. 

   More relief came last night after selectmen appealed to the regional school committee, at a special meeting, to voluntarily reduce their budget to help the Town of Rehoboth.  After several motions to reduce the school budget were defeated, committee members finally approved a $265,034 cut to be divided between the towns.  Rehoboth’s portion equals $153,300. 

   The school budget cut was made possible, according to officials, by a reduction in anticipated transportation costs due to increased reimbursement rates in the recently signed state budget.

   As of this morning, the town still faces a budget deficit of $655,440.  The town’s operating budget includes many obligations that can not be cut, such as pensions, various insurance, and tuition for out-of-district students who attend alternative high schools. 

    Tonight at the senior center beginning at 7 PM, selectmen and members of the finance committee will meet with the remaining departments and committees to hear their proposed 20 percent budget cuts. According to the agenda, the following budgets will be reviewed: town accountant, veterans services, REMA, agricultural commission, historical commission, zoning board of appeals, finance committee, stormwater, and the Memorial Day parade committee.  Town Administrator Jeff Ritter will address the budgets for facilities maintenance, municipal lights, town gasoline and fuel, and transportation costs of Rehoboth students who attend Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School.


DRIVER AND PASSENGER FOUND UNCONSCIOUS IN RUNNING CAR

(July 30, 2014)  Rehoboth police discovered two unconscious women in a running car on Slater Street yesterday morning around 1 AM and later arrested the driver on several charges including drunk driving.

    Officer Paul McGovern and Sgt. Brian Ramos responded to a report of a vehicle stopped in the middle of the roadway and idling for an extended period of time. A 1995 Honda Accord was stopped in the center of the roadway with two female occupants of the vehicle.  According to police, both women were unconscious and unresponsive.

    The driver, twenty-five-year old Tiffany Albert of Norwood and Attleboro, was slumped over into the passenger’s side front seat, sleeping with her foot on the brake and the car in gear. When wakened by McGovern, she removed her foot from the brake requiring the officer to jump aside while the car traveled about 75 additional feet before stopping.

    Albert was taken into custody while Rehoboth Ambulance was for the female passenger who remained unconscious. She was transported to Sturdy Hospital for suspected alcohol intoxication.  Several open alcohol containers were also discovered inside of the vehicle.  A alcohol breath test later revealed Albert’s blood alcohol concentration was over three times the legal limit.

     She was charged with operating under the influence, negligent operation, marked lane violation, open container violation and failure to wear a seatbelt.  An arraignment was held later yesterday in Taunton District Court.


SELECTMEN TO DISCUSS BUDGET REDUCTIONS, STOP SIGN ON FAIRVIEW

(July 28, 2014)   The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight in regular session, along with the Rehoboth Finance Committee, beginning at 7 PM at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.

    Selectmen will first address granting a Class II Auto License for Lopes Auto Sales before discussing proposed budget reductions for the board of health, board of assessors, town clerk, animal control, forestry, the council on aging that oversees operation of the senior center, cemetery commission, conservation commission, and planning board.

     A review of the “impact of FY2015 budget reductions” will be presented by selectmen and members of the finance committee.

    Also on tonight’s agenda is considering a three-way stop at the intersection of Fairview Avenue and Ash Street. Recently another intersection on Fairview, at Homestead Avenue, was made into a three-way stop. 


BROCKTON TEEN CHARGED WITH VANDALISM AT BECKWITH SCHOOL

(July 24, 2014)   Early yesterday morning, Rehoboth police arrested a Brockton teen on charges vandalism and trespassing at D. L. Beckwith Middle School off Winthrop Street (Route 44).

    Sgt. Brian Ramos was on routine patrol at 1:30 AM when he observed a suspicious vehicle in a remote area of the school’s parking lot leaving the grassy area adjacent to a baseball field on the property.  According to the police press release, the “Chevrolet Avalanche had just driven off of the baseball field and had caused damaged to the property by “doing donuts” and spinning tires.”

    Fabian Herrero, age 18 of Brockton was charged with vandalism to the property and trespass by motor vehicle.  Officer Timothy Bartucca assisted Sgt. Ramos with the investigation.


TWO ARRESTED FOR AUTO THEFT AFTER ROUTINE STOP

(July 24, 2014) Two Taunton residents were arrested yesterday afternoon on Route 44 by Rehoboth police on auto theft charges.

   After conducted a motor vehicle stop on Winthrop Street (Route 44), Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta   learned the 2006 Ford Sedan had been reported stolen from the City of Attleboro the day before.

   The driver, thirty-four-year-old Kristylyn McKenna of Taunton, and a passenger, twenty-nine-yea-old Kyle Fisher of Taunton, were arrested and charged with Larceny of a Motor Vehicle. McKenna was later released on $540 cash bail and Fisher, unable to post bail, was transferred the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office. Both were scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.

   Officer Thomas Ranley and Jacob Miranda assisted with the arrest. 


REPRESENTATIVE HOWITT SCHEDULED OFFICE HOURS IN REHOBOTH

(July 24, 2014)   State Representative Steven S. Howitt (R- Seekonk) will hold office hours at the Rehoboth Town Office on Friday, August 1 from 10 to 11 AM to give constituents the opportunity to discuss current issues and concerns. Anyone unable to attend Representative Howitt’s office hours may contact his office at (617) 722-2305 to schedule an appointment.


SENATOR TIMILTY INVITES REHOBOTH RESIDENTS

(July 23, 2014) Senator Jim Timilty (D-Walpole) who represents Rehoboth announced the 73rd Citizen’s Legislative Seminar (CLS) will take place on Tuesday, October 14 and Wednesday, October 15 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the State House in Boston. Rehoboth residents are extended an invitation to participate.

    The Citizens’ Legislative Seminar aims to better educate the public on the Commonwealth’s legislative process. Established in 1976 through a collaborative effort of the Massachusetts Senate and the University of Massachusetts, this two-day seminar features presentations by Senators and staff on aspects of the day-to-day experience of legislators in the Commonwealth. Topics will include the history of the process of the Legislature, the parliamentary role of the Clerk of the Senate and the future of the Legislature. 

    The CLS culminates with a simulated legislative hearing and Senate session where participants are invited to use what they have learned as “Senators” in the Senate Chamber.

    Rehoboth residents are invited to contact Senator Timilty by Thursday, August 28 to sign up. Call (617) 722-1222 or email James.Timilty@masenate.gov. Participation is on a first come, first serve basis.


TOWN DEPARTMENTS TOLD TO CUT BUDGETS BY 20 PERCENT

(July 22, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen last night announced all town departments had been told to cut their budgets by 20 percent in preparation for the yet another special town meeting (STM) to be held on Thursday, August 7.

   The board is scheduled to meet tonight and tomorrow with the finance committee, in both executive and regular sessions, to examine the budget to come up with figures to present at special town meeting.

    Selectmen opened, closed and signed the STM warrant last night in a hurried manner in order to get the warrant to the printer.  Meetings warrants are printed and mailed to every household.  Because of the printing time constraint, there will be no budget figures or recommendations on the warrant.  Selectmen said exact figures will be distributed on a hand out the night of the meeting.  They also plan to publish the information on the town’s website.

   There was some discussion last night about the special town meeting date being at the same time as the annual clam boil held by the Rehoboth Congregational Church. While 150 people are expected to attend the event, selectmen said those who bought tickets will have to make a choice about what is more important to attend.

    This will be the third special town meeting held since May.  The first, combined with the annual spring town meeting, resulted in voters approving a capital budget of $551K which has already been expended. The second special town meeting was held on June 30 for voters to approve a temporary 90-day budget.  The FY15 budget was made contingent on a tax override vote that was defeated on July 15, leaving the town with an almost $1.7M budget deficit.

   Since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, town departments operated under the temporary budget, or 25% of the approved fiscal budget for 2015. All town departments now asked to make cuts of 20%. 

    If a department spends 25% of their annual 2015 budget in the first three months of the fiscal year, based on a 20% reduction goal for the entire year, they now must cut 26.67% for the remaining nine months of the fiscal year.

   The town has certain financial or contractual obligations that cannot be cut including pensions, town insurance,  unemployment compensation, veterans benefits, and interest and principal on the senior center.  The town budget also includes paying out-of-district expenses for high school students enrolled in vocational/technical school or at Bristol County Agricultural High School.

   “We are not going to come anywhere near $1.658M in reductions on the expense side,” said Finance Committee Chair Mike Deignan, who added the only way to recoup is through the employee side. “We have eight employees who have either left or intend to leave service this year,” he said.

    According to Deignan,  the town offices, excluding highway and public safety, cost the town “$215K to run one day each week.”  He added, “if we cut two days of town services, we could save $430K, less the unemployment of about $130K, and we would net out about $300K in savings.”


SELECTMEN VOTE TO RELEASE PAYMENT TO LIBRARY

(July 22, 2014) A week after postponing a scheduled payment to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) for operation fo the Blanding Free Public Library, selectmen voted to release the funds approved by voters within the temporary 90-day budget.

    RAS board members presented selectmen with a petition signed over the weekend to request the library budget  be listed as an independent warrant article for the August 7 special town meeting. 

    “We believe in the democratic process and that all articles brought to Town Meeting should be open for discussion and amendment. At the very least, adding an article specifically for the library budget will ensure debate and discussion for that line item,” said board member Kylee Hitz, reading from a prepared statement distributed last night.

    Officials have repeatedly targeted the library and senior center for possible closure for since May town meeting when the FY15 budget was made contingent on a tax override vote that was defeated last week.  At a selectmen’s meeting held last Friday, officials seemed to have a change of heart.

    “I want to have a (new) budget that doesn’t include what we mentioned before,” said BOS chair Mike Costello.  “The library and senior center were just examples used before the override,” said Selectman Dave Perry.   

    If the Blanding’s budget is cut more than other departments, the library risks decertification. If town budget cuts are proportional, the RAS may additionally apply for a waiver from the state to help remain open.

    State certification allows the Blanding’s almost 4000 registered patrons to have access to library services in surrounding towns through the SAILS network of public and college libraries in southeastern Massachusetts.


BURGLARY SUSPECTS ARRESTED BY REHOBOTH POLICE

(July 22, 2014) Last last night, Rehoboth police arrested two Mansfield residents on breaking and entering along with other charges.

    Officers were dispatched after receiving a suspicious vehicle report at a residence on Tremont Street where the owner was known to be in the hospital.

    The vehicle in question was located by Officer Thomas Ranley behind the residence. A window of the garage had been forced open allowing entrance into the residence. Three more officers arrived and conducted a search.         

     Alex J. Troy, age 22, and Joseph Coughlin, age 26, were taken into custody and changed with breaking and entering at nighttime with intent to commit a felony, malicious destruction of property, and trespass by motor vehicle.  Both men are scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.

    Assisting officers were Sgt. James Medeiros and officers Craig Forget and Paul McGovern.


LIBRARY PETITION TO BE PRESENTED TO SELECTMEN TONIGHT

(July 21, 2014) Over the weekend, the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RSA) gathered over 131 signatures of registered voters on a petition to have certified today by the town clerk in order to submit tonight to selectmen at their regularly scheduled 7 PM meeting at the senior center.

   The RSA, a private, nonprofit organization, owns Goff Memorial Hall and the Carpenter Museum, and is contracted by the town to operated Blanding Free Public Library.  The RSA receives funding from the town to operate the library. 

   Last week, selectmen voted to table issuing scheduled payment to the RSA despite having a temporary 90-day budget that included those payments.  Without the scheduled payments from the town, the library’s bills for operational expenses can’t be paid.

    In response, the library immediately announced it would no longer be open on Saturdays.  Additionally the petition was circulated over the weekend.

    Massachusetts General Law states that a municipality must appropriate a figure of at least the average of the last 3 years' municipal appropriations to the library for operations, increased by 2.5%, in order to be certified for State Aid to Public Libraries.

   Any cuts to library funding from the town must be proportionate with other town services in order to maintain state library certification.

    Additionally, the Blanding is part of the SAILS Library Network, a collection of over 75 public and college libraries in southeastern MA.  Library decertification will have an effect on borrowing privileges. According to Blanding officials, the town of Seekonk is already on record saying they will not honor a Blanding card if the library is decertified.  

    This is not the first time the Blanding has faced the threat of closure. In 2010, Rehoboth officials warned the library would be forced to close, along with the senior center and other town services, when the town faced a $1M deficit for their FY11 budget.  At that time, Selectman Skip Vadanis suggested a tax override vote specifically for the library.  That suggestion proved unnecessary and the library’s funding was never cut. 


SELECTMEN SCHEDULE SPECIAL TOWN MEETING, DISCUSS CUTS

(July 21, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen met last Friday afternoon at the town office to schedule a special town meeting on Thursday, August 7 at 7 PM in the high school auditorium to address the town’s budget.    

    Selectmen Mike Costello, Skip Vadnais and Dave Perry voted unanimously to schedule the special town meeting, although a few minutes later were notified that approximately 150 residents would be attending the annual clam boil held at Rehoboth Congregational Church on August 7.

     According to Town Clerk Laura Schwall, who attended Friday afternoon’s BOS meeting, the special town meeting could be held the next night, on Friday, August 8, and still adhere to mandated state regulations.  The selectmen could decide to amend the special town meeting date tonight.

    Only last week, a tax override for nearly $1.7M was defeated by a margin of 303 voters.  Citizens could vote in August to pass a reduced FY15 budget that would require another tax override ballot vote before the town’s temporary 90-day budget expires.

    Residents at special town meeting could also vote to use all or part of the town’s stabilization fund, or money in the bank set aside for emergencies.  Using those funds could provide for this fiscal year’s budget, but would leave the town without emergency funds, along with facing another million plus deficit next year.

    Just last week, $63K was used from the stabilization fund to settle a lawsuit brought by the Town of Dighton related to tuition and transportation for Rehoboth high school students attending out-of-district vocational/technical school.

    With four board members from the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) in attendance at Friday’s BOS meeting, selectmen reversed their repeated warnings about closing the library and senior center if the tax override did not pass.  The RAS owns and operates the Blanding Public Library with funding from the town.

    “I want to have a (new) budget that doesn’t include what we mentioned before,” said Costello.  “The library and senior center were just examples used before the override,” said Perry, who added “we are in uncharted waters.”

    “We will look at every possible means to reduce the budget to prevent closures and layoffs,” remarked Costello. “We want to do this as kindly as possible.”

    “We have all kinds of general laws we have to get into,” commented Vadanis, “such as (state mandated) minimum requirements for animal control and with the division of elderly affairs for the senior center.”

    In attendance on Friday were also two members of the finance committee.  Chairman Mike Deignan asked Costello to share news of his recent request of the school committee to revisit their increased budget.  Costello replied he asked for the elimination of full-day kindergarten for the 138 Rehoboth children who are currently enrolled for the new school year beginning in September.

   Costello also reported the school committee has agreed to meet with the BOS on July 29 to discuss the request to eliminate full-day kindergarten for Rehoboth students and other budget cuts.  The school committee, as a courtesy, agreed to this meeting but will set a time limit on its duration.

   Gerry Schwall, who serves as vice-chair of the finance committee, asked selectmen if they were going to involved FinCom in determining budget cuts suggestions to be announced at the special town meeting. “I am worried people don’t have the expertise to make those decisions,” Schwall told selectmen, who added that FinCom has the experience on contract-related budget lines.

    The BOS will meet tonight at 7 PM in regular session at the senior center to open, close and sign the special town meeting warrant.  Tight time constraints require the warrant to be delivered to the printer by Wednesday.

    Costello said the warrant for special town meeting will not incude numbers or the selectmen’s recommendations for budget cuts.  Their recommendations, along with those of the finance committee, will be supplied that night in a handout. Those numbers may be available on the town’s website earlier.

    Selectmen will also meet this week with the town’s finance committee on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights at 7 PM at the senior center.  The public, as always, is invited to attend the regular session segments.

   

SCHOOL COMMITTEE APPROVES NEW DEAN POSITION AMID PROTESTS

(July 18, 2014) The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee approved a job search for the newly created position of Dean of Activities and Athletics at the regional high school.

    Two Rehoboth members of the committee, David Katseff and Richard Barrett, voted against creating the new position which will take the place of the high school’s existing part-time athletic director and the schools full-time director of guidance.

    Katseff argued the timing was wrong to create the new position since the school’s principal, of less than one year, suddenly resigned last month.  He also cautioned the committee the school that this might not be a good time to create an innovative position using the title of “Dean” for the first time in the history of the school.

    Two of the high school’s assistant principals, Kevin Braga and John Harrison, pitched the new position to the committee.  They emphasized a need for someone on the staff to market the high school’s athletic program and extracurricular activities to middle school students.  They cited the high school student population is decreasing and marketing DRRHS is important to attracting new students. They say retention is not a problem “once they are here, they tend to stay.”

     The new position, according to the job description, requires coaching experience, a working knowledge of MIAA rules and regulations, an administrative certificate from the MA Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education, plus effective communication, interpersonal and organization skills.

     By eliminating the position of part-time coach ($42K) and a part-time 10 hour secretary ($6K) and full time director of guidance ($90K) a position previously held by a professional with advanced degrees in psychology or counseling, the school will save $41K.    

    The new Dean of Activities and Athletics will have a salary of $80K with a part-time 18 hour secretary at $15K.  A stipend of $3K will be paid to an existing lead guidance counselor who will assume more responsibilities. The jobs and stipend position has been posted.


BLANDING PUBLIC LIBRARY ANNOUNCES REDUCED HOURS

Library officials question why approved payments by town were put on hold

(July 17, 2014) The Blanding Public Library, beginning the week of July 21, wil be closed on Saturdays until further notice due to the town’s current fiscal situation.

    “We hope that further reductions will not be necessary,” announced Laura Bennett, the library director.  “It is important to the library board and staff to maintain our current level of services as best we can.  We apologize for any inconvenience.”

    In a separate announcement, Bennett said the library will no longer be able to accept donations of used books for its annual used book sale fundraiser.

    The library, housed in the Goff Memorial Hall, is owned and operated by the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, but receives operational funding through the town.  Selectmen have warned repeatedly that the library may be closed due to the town’s current fiscal crisis.

    This week, RAS officials questioned why the board of selectmen on Monday night tabled already approved payments to the library.  With a temporary 90-budget in place, the town should be able to release the money to the RSA. Without the scheduled payments from the town, the library’s bills for operational expenses can’t be paid. 

    The Blanding Library will be open Monday thru Thursday from 11:30 AM to 8 PM. Friday hours are 10 AM to 4 PM. Events and programs are scheduled at various times.  The library will be closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays.


PUBLIC HEARING ON WHEELER STREET BRIDGE TODAY

(July 17, 2014) A public hearing on the Wheeler Street Bridge reconstruction will be held tonight t the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center on Thursday, July 17 beginning at 7 PM.

    Representatives from the  MA Department of Transportation will be on hand to present a “twenty-five percent design public hearing” on the culvert replacement at the bridge, the next step in completing the project.  The bridge, destroyed in 2010 during a flood, will be reconstructed with funding from both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Federal Highway Administration. 

    All interested parties are invited to attend and provide public input.  The bridge plans, prepared by Greenman-Pedersen, Inc. will be available for inspection thirty minutes before the start of the public hearing.


REHOBOTH SELECTMEN TO MEET FRIDAY

(July 17, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have scheduled a meeting tomorrow at 4 PM in the town office to vote to approving a date for special town meeting to address the FY15 budget and the town’s financial crisis creating by the defeat of the tax override.

    According to some reports, this meeting will not be televised on public access Channel 9 and selectmen will not entertain questions or comments from the public.


REHOBOTH VOTERS SAY NO TO TAX OVERRIDE

(July 16, 2014)  Rehoboth residents voted against passing a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override yesterday with 37% of registered voters participating. Polls closed at 8 PM and news of the defeat came less than thirty minutes later much to the dismay of officials who had urged passage of the override to prevent drastic cuts in services.

    A total of 3002 voters came to the polls with a final certified count of 1652 against the override and 1349 in favor, a difference of 303 voters.

    “The people of Rehoboth have spoken,” said BOS chairman Mike Costello, “and we now have to deal with the outcome.”  He added, “Rehoboth will not be what it is today.”  More details to follow soon when the official count becomes available.

    Without the tax override, the board of selectmen will schedule a special town meeting sometime in August to address a $1.7M deficit in the town’s operating budget, excluding the increased school district assessment that cannot be altered.  At special town meeting, residents will debate and decide what cuts to make and if the town’s stabilization fund - savings in the bank - should be used.  Draining the stabilization account will not help next year when the budget deficit will be even larger.

    Officials have warned residents consistently for the past two months that if the override fails, drastic cuts will be made to town services and town employees will face layoffs.  They’ve warned both the Blanding Public Library and the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center will be closed.

    “The voters have spoken,” said Sean Kane from Rehoboth Community Supporters, a recently formed political action committee.  “We respect the democratic process.  Hopefully those who voted no really understand what this will do to our community.  We continue to believe that an override is still much needed and commend those who came out in support of the town.”

           

SELECTMEN URGE RESIDENTS TO VOTE YES ON TAX OVERRIDE

(July 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectman last night urged residents to vote yes today to pass a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override. Following almost ninety minutes of answering questions from citizens about the override, selectmen went through their agenda of business and finished the meeting with the regular segment of individual selectman’s reports.  Four of the five selectmen then urged residents to vote yes today and pass the tax override.

    “I’m not in favor of an override without a plan,” said Selectman Sue Pimental, “but I’m going for this override for a couple reasons.” She explained, “I feel I have to, it will devastate the town (if not passed),” adding she was on the finance committee for six years and during that time much progress was made that benefitted the town.

     “All the hard work of myself and other volunteers will go out the window,” she emphasized. “It will be very discouraged for someone like me and the other volunteers out there,” before adding that “shutting down town government will not be fun.”

     “Whatever your feeling is on the school situation, get over it,” she said referring to the almost $1.7M increase to the school budget voted on at town meeting in May.  That increase caused an equivalent deficit in the town’s operating budget that was made contingent on passing a tax override.

    “I’m voting for it (the override) because I feel I have a gun to my head,” Pimental said.

    The newest selectman on the board, Dave Perry said, “This two and half override is a really tough pill to swallow, but we have to.”   He emphasized what town accountant Cathy Doanne explained earlier in the meeting about using stabilization funds if the override does not pass.  Draining the town’s ‘savings account’ built up and kept for emergencies will only solve the budget deficit for one year, and the town will be faced with a greater deficit next year and have nothing left in the bank.

    “We’ll have no services,” Perry said, “we’ll have no money in the bank, be broke, and face the same problem next year.”  “I see no alternative at all but a yes vote, he said, “this is an absolute necessity.”

    “I have been very clear, I am voting for the override,” said Selectman Joe Tito, who added that Proposition 2 1/2 does works to contain municipal costs, but doesn’t keep up with inflation and the rising costs to sustain a growing town. “We find ourselves at a crossroads,” he noted and encouraged voters to pass the override.

    “I am voting for this,” said BOS chair Mike Costello. “I know we need it.” He added, “the hard work of this board and the board when I was elected have done too much to see it disappear.”

    “Help us get through this situation,” he urged, “vote yes so our town can provide the services that we are all accustomed to.”

   

$63K SCHOOL LAWSUIT SETTLEMENT BILL PAID FROM STABILIZATION FUND

(July 15, 2014)  Rehoboth selectmen last night confirmed the payment of $63K taken from the town’s stabilization fund to settle a lawsuit brought against the Town of Rehoboth by the regional school district partner, the Town of Dighton.  Officials said over $80K had already been spent on litigation and the $63K would be the final settlement.

    The case involved Rehoboth not paying the sufficient amount for tuition and transportation of Rehoboth students to an out-of-district vocational-technical high school.  For at least one year, Dighton was assessed and paid half of the total fee for vocational students, while the number of actual Rehoboth students outnumbered Dighton students who attended Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin, MA.

    On May 27, Rehoboth voters at town meeting were asked to reconsider a tabled warrant article to approve using $63,000 from the town’s stabilization fund to settle the law suit.  Voters were told by town counsel that if the money was not approved that night and released right away, both towns would continue the legal battle in court.

   “We have not been closer than now,” said town attorney Jason Talerman, who urged voters to approve using stabilization funds to settle the case. “I am totally in agreement with this,” said BOS chair Mike Costello.  Selectman Joe Tito also urged residents to approve releasing the money.

   When asked last week if the settlement had been paid and case finalized, school committee chairman Eliza Couture replied that she “cannot comment on the litigation at this time.”

   Selectmen last night were asked by Finance Committee chair Mike Deignan if the $63K payment had been made.  “We were all led to believe the lawsuit had been settled,” said Deignan, “and that’s why we had to take the money from stabilization to pay for it.”  He said he found out, on a recent visit to the town office, the $63K settlement bill still had not been paid and asked selectmen if the case was still being litigated.

    “It was settled,” said Selectman Sue Pimental.   “So, the check was delivered today,” reported Costello. 

  

TAX OVERRIDE VOTE AND TOWN BUDGET: ASK SELECTMEN QUESTIONS

(July 11, 2014)  Selectmen will take a portion of their regular meeting next Monday night to answer questions from residents about the town budget and tax override ballot vote to be held the next day on July 15. 

    The BOS meeting, held at the senior center, will begin at 7 PM with a information briefing by selectmen.  The meeting is broadcast live by RehobothTV on Comcast Channel 9 and residents may call 508-252-3372 that night with questions.  Residents who are not Comcast subscribers are encouraged to attend the meeting.

     Questions may also be emailed to Town Administrator Jeff Ritter anytime before the meeting on Monday night.  


GRANT APPROVED TO HELP FUND DISABLED ACCESS AT GOFF HALL

(July 9, 2014)  Earlier this week, Governor Deval Patrick announced $14 million in Massachusetts Cultural Council grants including a $70K request by the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society (RAS) to help fund a handicapped-accessible restrooms and lower level at the Blanding Library in Goff Memorial Hall.

    The RAS-owned building was constructed in 1915 after an older Goff Hall burned down following a lightening strike in 1911.  The current building has no restrooms facilities for patrons with disabilities and the existing restrooms are also only two feet wide, small for any user. With no elevator and no ramp, there is no access for anyone who can’t use the stairs to the lower level of the building (the children’s library).

    The renovation project, with a total cost of $330,000, will benefit greatly from the $70K state grant.  Townspeople approved using $165K from the town’s Community Preservation Act  (CPA) fund, and the remaining $95K will be raised by the RAS - before construction begins.

   CPA funds, by state law, can never be used for a town’s operating budget, only for preservation related projects approved by voters at town meeting.

   With a tax override vote looming, town officials have repeatedly warned that if the override does not pass, the Blanding Library will be closed, along with the senior center and other town services. The renovation project to make the building accessible is a separate issue from the town budget. The grant money or CPA funding cannot be used to operate the library.


SCHOOL OFFICIALS RESPOND TO ALLEGATIONS

(July 4, 2014)  Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District officials have responded to recent allegations including one made in an opinion letter to the editor published yesterday on the Vox Populi page of RehobothNow.

   Eliza Couture, chairman of the regional school committee, said new superintendent Anthony Azar, who only started his appointment on July 1, will answer questions about hiring for a new position of Dean of Student Activities and Athletics on Wednesday, July 16 at a school committee member.  She said Azar will give specifics about the dean’s job description, salary and benefit package on July 16. 

   The town is conducting a tax override ballot vote the day before, on July 15, to approve a permanent tax increase.  The town’s FY15 budget is contingent on the Prop 2 1/2 override as a result of residents voting for a $1.7 million increase in the school district budget at town meeting last May.  If the override does not pass, an equal amount will have to be cut from other town departments.  Officials say the cuts will dramatically alter town services such as closing the library and senior center, limiting town office hours, reducing services and layoffs of town employees.

   Couture was asked to comment on other school related issues. On May 27, Rehoboth voters at town meeting were asked to reconsider a tabled warrant article to approve using $63,000 from the town’s stabilization fund to settle a law suit. 

    The suit, brought by the Town of Dighton against the school committee and Town of Rehoboth, relates to out-of-district vocational-technical school tuition and transportation.  At town meeting, voters were told by town counsel and selectmen that if the money was not approved that night and released right away, both towns would continue the legal battle in court.  Officials said over $80k had already been spent on litigation and the $63k would be the final settlement.

    When asked if the $63k had been paid and the case settled, Couture replied that she “cannot comment on the litigation at this time.”

    Ray Medeiros, a long-time member of the school committee, was asked about rumors he has either submitted his resignation or plans to do so in the immediate future.  Medeiros said he has no comment at this time.  His resignation, prior to the end of his elected term, would open a seat on the Rehoboth side of the school committee.  Selectmen could appoint a replacement.  

    Azar responded to questions by submitting a letter to editor which appears on the Vox Populi page.  


VOTERS APPROVE TEMPORARY TOWN BUDGET

(July 1, 2014) Rehoboth voters last night at special town meeting approved a temporary 90-day town budget based on the FY15 budget that was made contingent on passing a tax override ballot vote on Tuesday, July 15.

   With 102 voters in attendance, the meeting was conducted quickly in less than thirty minutes.  One only voter, Walter Munroe, stood to question passing a temporary budget based on FY15 instead of continuing the existing FY14 budget.

     At May town meeting, selectmen emphasized they would seek a temporary budget based on FY14 figures and not FY15.  Late in June, selectmen confirmed they had changed their previous position on what budget figures to use.

    According to town attorney Jason Talerman, who answered Munroe’s questions last night, it is legal to pass a temporary budget based on FY15 figures.  He added that passing the FY15 budget would allow the town to meet “some obligations” right away. The now active FY15 budget includes a 25% percent increase in retainer and litigation-related expenses for town legal counsel.

    The FY15 budget includes salary increases for some elected officials including the tax collector, treasurer, town planner, town clerk, assessors, and step increases for certain clerical positions. The FY15 budget also includes a police chief salary of $110,000 with an additional $11,000 chief incentive.  Last winter, selectmen announced their intention to promote acting chief, Lt. James Trombetta, to the position of chief effective July 1.

    The newly passed temporary budget also includes hiring two additional full-time highway department employees. While selectmen voted during regular session to impose a hiring freeze in June, they can lift the freeze at any point by majority vote.

   

REPORT OF CHILD BITTEN BY FOX IN REHOBOTH

(July 1, 2014)  According to a report in the Sun Chronicle today, a twelve-year-old Rehoboth boy was bitten on the leg and arm by a fox last night at a residence on Winthrop Street (Route 44) and transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital.

    While local emergency response official confirm the dispatch, no further information has been released by the Rehoboth Police Department  that oversees the town’s animal control officer.  More details will be published when provided by officials.


WHO ARE REHOBOTH COMMUNITY SUPPORTERS?

(July 1, 2014)  A newly formed political action committee or PAC in town, known as the Rehoboth Community Supporters (RCS) will host two question and answer sessions on the tax override ballot vote. One is being held tonight at 7 PM at the Goff Memorial Hall) with another tomorrow morning in the senior center at 10 AM.

  In April, a group known as D-R Parents United was formed to advocate for an increased school district budget.  At town meeting in May, they were successful in voting the $1.7 million increase in the school budget that led to a special town meeting last night to vote a temporary 90-day town budget, and the tax override ballot question.

   In June, D-R Parents United hosted a question and answer session for the public with members of that group as well as invited officials.  While D-R Parents United continues to be a group consisting of parents of both Dighton and Rehoboth public school students, Rehoboth Community Supporters was formed as a PAC that must operate according to state election laws.

    “By law, we had to establish a PAC to advocate for the override vote,” said Tiffany Bartholomew, who is also a member of the regional school committee.  “D-R Parents United is still supportive, but the Rehoboth half of that leadership is primarily focused under Rehoboth Community Supporters,” she added.

    Information about RCS political action committee can be found on their new website, YesRehboth.org, and leadership is listed as Bartholmew, Eric Brown, Ellen Corvi, Heather Cross, Sean Kane, Rachel Philip, Paul Roulier, Rose Roulier, Sue Warren, Andrea Wayslow, Jennifer Wheeler and Deb Woodard.

   “Rehoboth does not have a spending problem, the town has a revenue problem,” stated the website that advocates for passing the Proposition 2/12 tax override on July 15.    


REHOBOTH POICE MAKE ARRESTS OVER WEEKEND

(June 30, 2014)  Two men were arrested by Rehoboth police in separate vehicle stop incidents on Saturday, June 28.

  Joe R. Amaral, age 29 of Taunton, was placed under arrest shortly after 6 PM on charges of operating under the influence of intoxicating liquor and driving with a suspended license.  A passenger in the vehicle, Charlie Teixeira, age 36 of Taunton, was issued a criminal summons to appear in Taunton District Court for operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

    According to a press release issued by the RPD, Officer Paul McGovern was monitoring traffic on Winthrop Street (Route 44) when he “observed a small gray Ford SUV approaching his location from the west.”  After seeing the car suddenly pull into a parking lot, he noticed the driver and front seat passenger change positions before pulling back onto the roadway. 

   A check of the vehicle’s registration revealed the owner had a suspended Massachusetts operator’s license.  After stopping the vehicle, McGovern arrested Amaral who was transported to the police station for processing and later released on bail. He is set to be arraigned today in Taunton District Court.

    Later on Saturday, around 10:30 PM, Officer Ryan Brule conducted a motor vehicle stop on Winthrop Street (Route 44) and discovered a passenger in the vehicle had an outstanding arrest warrant on charges brought by Mass State Police for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, speeding, and marked lanes violation.  Munroe was taken into custody and is also set to be arraigned today in Taunton District Court.


RFD DEPUTY CHIEF BARRESI RECEIVES ACCREDITATION

(June 26, 2014)  Deputy Chief Frank Barresi of the Rehoboth Fire Department was recently granted accreditation by the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission, a gubernatorial appointed board that has established a process for uniform credentialing for the level of fire chief. Barresi is pictured second from left at the recent ceremony held in Westport, MA.   “The program establishes requirements based on education, training and experience in areas relevant to serving as fire chief,” said Everett Fire Chief David Butler, who serves as chair of the commission.  “It establishes benchmarks for training in fire and emergency service management so that chiefs may be better prepared to serve their department and their community.”

    The applicant’s documentation is reviewed by a subcommittee of the Massachusetts Fire Service Commission to determine if the individual has attained a minimum level of credits for education, training, and experience.

   According to State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan, “the program was developed after extensive research outlining those skills important to today’s fire chief.  The process provides an equal opportunity for the volunteer, call or full-time fire service leader to meet the minimum criteria for achieving fire chief accreditation. 

   Deputy Chief Barresi said, “I am dedicated to providing the highest level of service to this community and have worked hard to continue my education and experience to bring a high level of professionalism to this position. I appreciate that this accomplishment recognizes my dedication to be the best fire service leader I can be for this community.”

    Credentialed participants will be required to renew their credentials every three years. The program is open to all members of the fire service in the Commonwealth serving as Chief or Chief Officer of Department.  Additionally, in fire departments where there are less than three Chief Officers, those persons holding the next lower rank in that department shall also be eligible to apply for credentialing.  Participation in this program is voluntary and all eligible personnel are encouraged to participate.


TOWN EVENTS COMMITTEE SCHEDULE ANNUAL HARVEST BLOCK PARTY

(June 25, 2014)  The Rehoboth Town Events Committee has announced the date of the 15th Annual ‘Larry Procopio‘ Harvest Block Party to be held on the Redway Plain on Saturday, September 21 from 10 AM to 3 PM.       

    The annual September event was founded by the late Larry Procopio, a Rehoboth resident who believed the town should come together once a year to celebrate community. For the past fifteen years, the Harvest Block Party has been a free admission/free parking event that receives no funding from the town.  Organizations and businesses are offered space at the event at no charge, although many offer a donation to help offset event costs.

   Traditionally, the committee relies on revenue they generate from a food and beverage tent to help cover costs of supplies and equipment not otherwise donated. With more food vendors participating in recent years, the town food booth profits have diminished.

   “Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in the number of vendors offering food and beverages, which has both benefited and challenged the event.,” said committee chair Mary Beth Moriarty. “The participants enjoy the variety of offerings, but the growth of food vendors has significantly reduced the funds available to support the event.”

    This year, organizers are asking food vendors for a minimum donation with a request to consider offering a larger donation to offset the costs of the event, such as renting sanitary facilities.  

    All local organizations and businesses are invited to participate in this year’s event.  Those wishing to reserve a space and register to participate must do so by August 15.  Please contact Mary Beth Moriarty at 508-252-9415.  Click here to view all info.


SELECTMEN TO HOST QUESTION & ANSWER SESSION ON TAX OVERRIDE

(June 24, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectman will be hosting a Question and Answer session on the tax override ballot vote and the town budget during their regular meeting on Monday, July 14.

     The tax override ballot vote is scheduled for the next day, Tuesday, July 15 when all three precincts will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM. 

    Selectmen urge residents to attend their regular Monday evening meeting that night so they can answer any questions related to the tax override ballot the next day.

    If the override does not pass, the town faces a budget crisis.  A special town meeting will be scheduled in August so residents can make decisions on budget cuts and/or authorizing the town to use stabilization funds to make up for an almost $1.7 million deficit created when residents voted to increase Rehoboth’s portion of the school district budget. Selectmen have issued grim projections if the override does not pass and warn that budget cuts will have devastating results, including reduction or elimination of certain town services.  

   Registered voters can currently apply for an absentee ballot if they think they will be unable to physically go to the polls on July 15.  Absentee ballot applications are available at the Blanding Library,  Senior Center, Post Office, Town Office on Peck Street and online.


REMA OFFERS CERTIFICATION TRAINING

(June 24, 2014)  The Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency (REMA) will be offering a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training this fall.

   The CERT training is a nine-week program that meets once a week.  The program provides basic training to citizens in how to prepare for hazards that may affect the community. Citizens are trained in basic disaster response skills, including fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. Training includes classroom instruction, and hands-on activities and exercises.

    REMA is the town agency with primary responsibility for ensuring the town's resiliency to disasters. The director and deputy director oversee a trained staff of volunteers who stand ready to serve in the areas of planning, communications, operations, and logistics.  

    Since 1965, REMA has parented the Rehoboth Rescue Squad, a highly trained service of men and women who provide emergency services as first responders and emergency medical technicians (EMTs), auto/bus/light truck extrication specialists, HAM RACES radio operators, ice & water rescue specialists, animal rescuers, and search & rescue response teams.  Together, members of REMA and the Rehoboth Rescue Squad stand ready for an all hazards approach to emergency management.  For more information please check rehobothema.info or call 774-371-0017.


SELECTMEN PROPOSE USING FY15 FOR TEMPORARY BUDGET

(June 23, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen plan to submit a proposed temporary 90-day budget for approval at special town meeting on June 30 based on FY15 instead of FY14 as previously stated by officials.

   The temporary budget would become effective on July 1, the day after the special town meeting.  The wording on the warrant article does not specify what temporary budget would be voted on.

   Earlier this month, selectmen were very clear they intended to continue the current FY14 budget and not the FY15 budget approved at town meeting contingent on passing a permanent Proposition 2 1/2 tax override ballot vote set for Tuesday, July 15.

   Once the temporary budget is passed, selectmen could decide to lift the town-side hiring freeze they implemented on June 1.  The FY15 budget includes the selectmen’s plan to hire a police chief and add two additional full-time highway department employees.  In the spring, selectmen announced their intent to appoint the acting police chief, Lt. James Trombetta to the position of chief effective July 1. Along with a $110,000 chief salary, he would also receive an $11,000 chief incentive per the FY15 budget.

    The FY15 budget includes salary increases for some elected officials including the tax collector, treasurer, town planner, town clerk, assessors, and step increases for certain clerical positions. Also included in the FY15 budget is a 25% increase in retainer and litigation-related expenses for town counsel.


BUSY AGENDA FOR TONIGHT’S BOS MEETING

(June 23, 2014)  The agenda for tonight’s meeting of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen includes a review of the special town meeting warrant and proposed temporary 90-day budget along with approving the Comcast license renewal.

    Other items on the agenda include year-end budget amendments including $7,401 for the police department, and two items for the council on aging of $485 and $699.  Selectmen will vote on approving a vacation byback of the senior center director based on her employment contract.

    Selectmen will vote on highway department bids including materials and a salt shed, and vote to approve a Chapter 90 project request for stone sealing. Committee reappointments will be made and other business conducted such as a request for signage on Rocky Hill Road. 

    The regular portion of tonight’s BOS meeting will begin at 7 PM in the senior center following an executive session that includes a discussion of potential litigation. 


DRRHS PRINCIPAL STRIANO GONE, ACTING PRINCIPAL NAMED

(June 16, 2014)  The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District announced this morning that, effective immediately, a replacement has been named for Principal Jacqueline Striano who began working for the district on July 1, 2013.

    In a joint statement from Interim Superintendent  Mike Malone and incoming Superintendent-Elect Anthony Azar, announced the appointment of current Assistant Gail Van Buren as Acting High School Principal while day- to-day operations will be handled by Assistant Principals John Harrison and Kevin Braga.

    Malone announced Striano’s resignation in an email  to district administrators and school committee members dated June 11. “I would like to let you know that Ms. Striano has resigned to pursue another career opportunity. I would like to thank her for her service and wish her well in the future.”

    By law, a principal must be notified by the superintendent at least sixty days prior to the expiration date of the contract or it will automatically renew for an additional one year period. Striano began working of the district on July 1 of last year.  The status of Striano’s contractual agreement with the district, and if she was offered a renewal, is unknown at this time.

    While details on Striano’s departure were not provided, Malone and Azar outlined Van Buren’s credentials in a press release emphasizing she will oversee the close of this school year and the opening of the 2014-15 school year beginning in September after summer break.

    According to the announcement, Van Buren has been an administrator for fifteen years and will be commencing her ninth year in the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District.  “More importantly, six of those administrative years in DR have been as the district’s regional high school principal,” said the press release.

    Van Buren has a Masters in Educational Leadership and “thus far has completed all other coursework leading to a doctorate from Northeastern University while also acting as an adjunct instructor at Fitchburg State University.

  “I am happy to assist the district during this transition in order to continue the positive academic and cultural momentum and growth at the high school.”

   The change in high school administration was also announced today to students via the DRRHS news blog.


PUBLIC INVITED TO HEAR HOUSING REPORT

(June 11, 2014)  A preliminary report that could lead toward utilizing the old Anawan School for housing will be presented to the Rehoboth Board of Selectman on Monday, June 16 during their regularly scheduled meeting at the senior center.

   Grant King, Principal Comprehensive Planner, with the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District will present the preliminary report at approximately 7 PM.

   According to Town Administrator, Jeff Ritter, “the report and study was funded through a $20,000 competitive grant received from the South Coast Rail Project.  The purpose of the grant is to develop a snapshot of Rehoboth’s current housing inventory, define future housing needs, and to develop a plan to address those needs.”

    The public is encouraged to attend and participate in this community-wide discussion as the town plans for the “future housing needs of the community.”


DR PARENTS UNITED TO HOST TAX OVERRIDE VOTE INFO SESSIONS

(June 10, 2014)  The advocacy group, DR Parents United, announced to selectmen last night they will host at three public information sessions prior to the Prop 2 1/2 override vote scheduled for Tuesday, July 15.

    Selectmen, along with other town officials, were invited to participate in the question and answer “roundtable” format session.  The first will be held on Tuesday, June 17 at Palmer River Elementary School beginning at 7 PM.  Two info sessions will follow.  One will be held at the Blanding Library/Goff Memorial Hall on Tuesday, July 1 at 7 PM and another on Wednesday, July 2 at 10 AM at the senior center. The general public is encouraged to attend, not only parents of school age children.

    DR Parents United were the driving force behind passage of an almost $1.7M increased school district budget at town meeting held in May. Residents then voted to make the town’s overall budget, excluding the school district amount, contingent on an Proposition 2 1/2 tax override vote. Without the tax override, the town will be forced to cut $1.7M from the town budget, a process that will involve community input and approval at a special town meeting. 

    Selectmen and finance committee officials have already said repeatedly that cuts will drastically change the town.  Secondary services will be the first considered for elimination, including the public library and senior center. Only primary services that involve public safety, such as police, fire and emergency services may be spared drastic budget cuts.  All town departments will face budget cuts including the highway department that maintains town roads.  Selectmen have suggested there will not be enough left in the budget to cover the significant cost each winter of snow and ice removal. 

    Representatives from DR Parents United expressed hope selectmen and other officials will participate in their public info sessions.  Selectmen last night said they will be offering their own information on issues related to the town’s current budget crisis. 

    A special town meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 30 to allow voters to pass a temporary 90-day budget. 


SELECTMEN ASK VOTERS FOR 90-DAY TEMPORARY BUDGET

(June 10, 2014)  A special town meeting, scheduled for Monday, June 30, will decide if voters approve a temporary town budget of ninety days to prevent the town from shutting down on July 1.

    Without the approval of a temporary budget based on FY14 figures, the Town of Rehoboth will face a complete shut down, including police, fire and other emergency services.

   “A town without a budget is a town without a government,” said Selectman Dr. Joseph Tito, MD.  If the measure is not passed by a quorum of at least 60 voters on June 30, town services will cease the next day.

   On Tuesday, July 15, voters will decide on a Prop 2 1/2 tax override ballot question related to the FY15 town budget.  Without the override, a special town meeting will be convened to address nearly $1.7M in cuts to balance the budget, exclusive of the portion approved at town meeting for an increased school budget.


SELECTMEN APPROVE WARRANT FOR UNLICENSED DOGS

(June 10, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen last night voted to approve a warrant on unlicensed dogs in town. The period for renewing annual dog licenses has passed and the town’s Animal Control Officer Jane Foster has been charged with seeking out, catching and/or confining unlicensed dogs.  Owners will then be required to pay the annual license fee as well as fines. 

    Selectmen reviewed ten full pages listing unlicensed dogs and urged owners to check with Town Clerk Laura Schwall to “see if you dog will be chased down.”  Find dog license info here.


STAY AWAY FROM WILD ANIMALS URGES ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER

(June 7, 2014)  Rehoboth’s Animal Control Officer, Jane Foster, has issued an appeal to residents not to approach or go near wild animals.  According to a press release issued by the town, Foster says “there are many well-meaning residents in Rehoboth, but when it comes to foxes, raccoons, coyotes, skunks, turkeys, or even wild geese, these animals can be extremely dangerous.” 

    She emphasized they can carry “rabies, Lyme disease or other infectious diseases” that can threaten residents.  “Contact with these animals can result in bodily injury or even death.”

    Foster noted that despite good intentions, human interaction can be harmful for the animals, particularly babies who may wander.  “Please don’t take baby animals, fawns for example, into your home.  Just leave them for the mother deer to find,” she said.  “The animal mothers will find their young.”

    Residents are cautioned to keep distance from any wild animal on their property, especially if it is acting erratically.  Do not approach and contact the Animal Control Officer at (508) 252-5421.


CONGRESSMAN KENNEDY ANNOUNCES MILITARY ACADEMY APPOINTMENTS

(June 5, 2014)  Yesterday, Congressman Joe Kennedy announced that eight high school students from the 4th District were appointed to United States Services Academies for 2014. Kennedy, with the guidance of an advisory committee, nominated these students for an appointment earlier this year including

    Erin Fleet of Rehoboth was appointed to the U.S. Air Force Academy and Paige Monk of Rehoboth was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy, both into the Class of 2018.

     “The United States Service Academies train the best and brightest of this country’s next generation of armed forces,” said Kennedy. “Through an unwavering commitment to their community, remarkable personal achievements and tireless work ethic, these eight young men and women earned the tremendous honor of representing our Commonwealth at these prestigious institutions. I know they will not only excel at our service academies, but will proudly wear their uniform in defense of our great nation.”

   More information about the Service Academy nomination and appointment process can be found on Congressman Kennedy’s website.


TWO REHOBOTH MEN ARRESTED ON DRUG TRAFFICKING CHARGES

(June 5, 2014)  Rehoboth police, along with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office South Coast Anti-Crime Task Force (SCAT), arrested two Rehoboth men yesterday on drug trafficking charges following an investigation of narcotics delivered by a private parcel service.

     The men, both of the same Tremont Street resident were found in possession of nearly 2000 Oxycodone pills that had been delivered to a fictitious recipient at a residence without the knowledge and permission of the homeowner.

      Thirty-six-year-old David Bronsdon and thirty-three-year-old Timothy Bronsdon were arrested on drug trafficking of a Class B substance over 250 grams. The estimate street value of the seized narcotics is $60 thousand dollars.

   Following their arrest, cash bail of $50 thousand for each man was set by Taunton District Court Clerk Claudia Abreau. Both men were transferred to the custody of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office pending their arraignment in Taunton District Court today.


WANT TO VOTE ON TOWN ISSUES?  REGISTER NOW.

(June 5, 2014)  For residents of Rehoboth, over age eighteen, who are currently unregistered to vote (in elections and at town meetings), the town clerk’s office offers voter registration during regular business hours and will conduct two special registration sessions prior later this month.

    Those wishing to register to vote in the upcoming Special Town Meeting (vote on 60-day temporary town budget) on Monday, June 30 must do so by Friday, June 20.  Voter registration will be conducted that day at the town office from from 8 AM to 8 PM. 

    In order to vote on the day of the Special Town Election (Proposition 2 1/2 Tax Override) on Tuesday, July 15, voters must be registered by Wednesday, June 25. Those wishing to register by this deadline can do so on June 25 from 8 AM to 8 PM at the town office.

    Residents can also register to vote during regular town office business hours, Monday thru Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM, and on Fridays from 8 AM to 12 Noon.  Mail-in voter registration is also available by using a form available online that must be completed and mailed to the Town Clerk’s Office, 148 Peck Street. 


DRRHS CELEBRATION OF EXCELLENCE FOR 2014 GRADS

(June 4, 2014)  Members of 2014 Senior Class were recognized at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School’s annual ‘Celebration of Excellence’ held last night at the school. Over 75 seniors were awarded scholarships and the school’s annual departmental awards were given to the most deserving student in each discipline.

    Lauren Farris was recognized as chosen valedictorian of the Class of 2014 and Case Framson as salutatorian.  Both Jenna Ziegelmayer and Allan Boudreau Fine received the Principal’s Award.

    The Beatrice Kammerer Award, given to a senior who best exemplifies honesty, humility, responsibility and consideration of others, was awarded to Mikaela Thiboutot.

    The James Frates Medal was awarded to Stefanie Dias, a senior member of the National Honor Society who best exemplifies the qualities of scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

    The Robert T. Roy Medal, awarded to the most outstanding member of the senior class, was presented to Zoe Karavolis.

     The John A. Berger Award, presented to a senior in the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program who has shown the most improvement, was awarded to Kyle Medeiros. CTE student Casey Clausen was received the Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators Award, along with the Nathan Lawrence Medal, given to the most outstanding student in the CTE program.

    Dighton-Rehoboth’s Academic Medalists who will have their names added to the school’s academic Hall of Fame include: Amber Blanchette for Art; Christopher Berry for Science; Matthew Haynes for Music; Case Framson for English; Connor Saleeba and Samantha Rodrigues for Physical Education; Emma Kearns for the William Grover Medal in Social Studies;  Lauren Farris for the Elinor Smith Mathematics Medal; Stefanie Dias for the Margaret Kammerer Halliwell Medal for Foreign Language; Austin Burrows for the Phoenix Award in Guidance; Matthew Noviello for the Marcille Medal in Industrial Arts; and Courtney Liston for the Helena M. Kennedy Medal in Business.

    Dighton-Rehoboth will host graduation on Saturday, June 7 at 4:30 PM on the DRRHS football field, or in the case of inclement weather in the gymnasium. with an inclement weather site as the gymnasium. Should weather be a factor, seating will be limited to two (2) tickets per graduate due to space restrictions in the school gymnasium.


REHOBOTH OFFICIAL TO BUZZ OFF HAIR FOR CHARITY

(June 4, 2014)  Rehoboth Town Planner and Conservation Agent Leeann Bradley will participate in The One Mission Kid’s Cancer Buzz-Off on Sunday, June 8 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.

   Along with buzzing off her hair on Sunday, she has a goal of raising $5,000 to help  “fund vital programs and services that are helping kids beat cancer.”

     “I have chosen to buzz off my hair because the toll pediatric cancer takes on patients and their families is profound,” said Bradley.  “Children must endure painful treatments and lengthy hospital stays while their families cope with unimaginable stress, anxiety and financial strain.”

    Through the support of donors, One Mission is “bringing help, hope, care and support to pediatric cancer patients and their families.”  Those wishing to support Bradley can do so online.  “It’s simple, fast, and totally secure,” she said, adding that donors may be eligible for matching funds through their employers.  “Remember to check with your company’s human resources department.”


SELECTMEN SET SPECIAL TOWN MEETING FOR JUNE 30

(June 3, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectman, with three members in attendance at last night’s regular meeting, announced a Special Town Meeting will be held on Monday, June 30. 

    A quorum of 60 registered voters will be required to convene the meting to decide on a temporary 60-day town budget prior to the start of the new fiscal year (FY15) on July 1, 2014.  A special town meeting warrant will be printed and mailed to households to notify residents of this important meeting.  The town requires voter approval of the temporary budget (July 1 thru Sept. 1) in order to continue to operate municipal government. 

    According to selectmen, the temporary budget will essentially be the FY14 budget continued for an additional 60 days. They clearly stated it would not be an approval of the proposed FY15 budget which is now contingent on passing a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override on a ballot question set for Tuesday, July 15.

     A hiring freeze was imposed last night by selectmen until the town budget issues can be resolved.  Town departments, including the police department, will not be permitted to hire new personnel until further notice.

    The town faces a $1.7 million deficit  for the FY15 budget due to an equivalent amount approved for the town’s school district assessment.  A record number of residents at May annual town meeting approved increasing the school budget from $13.1 million (or the finance committee’s recommended state minimum assessment of $13.1 million) to the regional school district’s request of $14.9 million for the next school year.

    If the tax override is not approved by voters at the polls on July 15, the town must schedule another special town meeting so that voters can have a say in what cuts must be made in the budget.  Officials have repeatedly warned the first cuts will be to “non-vital” services and both the senior center and library face closure.  Many other town services will be eliminated or suffer severe cuts.  Employee layoffs are likely along with the subsequent costs related to unemployment.  They have predicted the town will change drastically if the tax override is not passed.

     Faced with a budget crisis, selectmen said they will put effort into educating the public by posting information in physical locations and by utilizing the town website and town managed public access television through Comcast. 


TAX OVERRIDE BALLOT QUESTION SLATED FOR JULY 15

And other highlights from last night’s continued town meeting

(May 28, 2014)  Prior to last night’s third installment of annual town meeting, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen voted to schedule a town election on Tuesday, July 15 to allow residents to vote on a override of the tax limiting Proposition 2 1/2, a contingency for approval of the FY15 town budget (exclusive of the already approved school budget).

    There were only 92 registered voters in attendance at the start of last night’s reconvened town meeting, but that number grew to over 200 an hour later.  The first motion of the night was a reconsideration of article 4 to approve paying $63,000 in legal fees and potentially settle a lawsuit between the Town of Dighton and the Dighton-Regional School District and the Town of Rehoboth. Residents then voted to approve an amended article to pay the $63K settlement from the town’s stabilization fund.

    Voters approved Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding of $17,429 for a town hall records management program along with appropriating an additional $17,429 from the town’s surplus fund.  An article to approve $11,483 from the Historic Preservation Reserve of the CPA to fund 25% of the total costs to preserve and restore historic documents dating back to 1636 was also approved by voters. Voters also approved CPA funds of $1,500 to partial fund a historic gravestone conservation workshop hosted by the cemetery commission, and fund $1,875 for a property survey of Burial Place Hill for the purposes of inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Also approved was using $165,000 from the budgeted reserve of the CPA to fund 50% of facilities rehabilitation at Goff Memorial Hall, specifically construction of restroom facilities on the first floor to meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

      Accepted articles also included accepting land donations; establishing a bylaw for speed limit on the Palmer River; and approving solar pilot agreements for capital building projects (public safety building and town office); and establishing a revolving account for the agricultural commission, not to exceed $7,500, for the purpose of participating in the state-recommended pilot program to clean up the Palmer River.

   Defeated articles include a proposed bylaw for the welfare of dogs and cats; and amending the town bylaw on trash containers, funding $25K for project to hire consultants to review and recommend updates to Route 44 zoning bylaws.

   Two articles tabled for defeat included funding $25K for consultants to review and recommend Route 44 zoning bylaw changes; and the transfer of rollback taxes in the amount of $50,344 to the agricultural trust fund.

    Tabled was the article on passage of an 86-page proposed new zoning bylaws package (included in the meeting warrant).  While selectmen, town counsel and Jim Muri of the planning board assured the audience the bylaw package provided clarity and protection for property owners and businesses, opponents urged residents to vote no.  Claiming the proposed zoning changes were sweeping and misrepresented, Mike O’Hearn, who served on the zoning bylaw review committee, said “this was not the article given (to selectmen) by the committee.” 

   The article was quickly tabled after resident Rebecca Smith pointed out “if town meeting does not want to discuss and entertain any amendments (to the proposed zoning bylaw package) at this point, we need to table it.”


SELECTMEN TO MEET BEFORE TOWN MEETING PART III

(May 27, 2014) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at 6 PM in Room 211 at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School prior to the reconvening of the annual spring town meeting at 7 PM in the auditorium

   On the BOS regular agenda is accepting the resignation of William McDonough as the town’s building inspector and zoning officer.  McDonough was hired as the town’s full-time building inspector in 2011.

    Selectmen will also vote to approve several budget amendments for the police department and approve payment to the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society for the operation fo the Blanding Public LIbrary. 

    They will also vote to schedule a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override election and address the language of the ballot question. Residents voted last week to make the FY15 town budget, excluding the school district assessment, contingent on the tax override. The new fiscal year begins on July 1, 2015.


RESIDENTS VOTE TO MAKE TOWN BUDGET SUBJECT TO TAX OVERRIDE

(May 20, 2014 - Updated May 21, 2014) The Rehoboth Annual Town Meeting reconvened last night for almost three and a half hours to an large audience of over 300.  Residents managed to finish voting on six of the 37 articles on the warrant, including the FY15 town budget amended to be contingent on passing an override of Proposition 2 1/2 sometime in July.

    While the town finance committee presented a balanced budget to townspeople, voters last week approved an increased school budget which created a $1.8 million shortfall to fund the remaining town budget needs. 

    “We saw a group of passionate supporters for schools (last week),” said Selectmen chair Michael Costello. “I congratulate them, but now we have to make sure town services are not cut.”  He told residents that selectmen have no other choice now but to address a tax override to prevent the town from changing drastically.

    To make up the budget deficit created by giving the school district more money, officials say the town may be forced to close the senior center, the library, and the animal shelter.  They said many town employees may face lay offs, or arbitrary furloughs in accordance with union contracts.  They also said the town office hours may likely be reduced, even to only one day a week.

    According to Michael Diegnan, chair of the finance committee, the override amount will be $1,657,740.  “Unless the townspeople decide to fund other articles (left on the warrant ) on town meeting floor via a Prop 2 1/2 override,” said Diegnan.

   A detailed information flyer was passed out last night outlining the cuts residents may expect if voters do not approve a the Prop 2 1/2 override ballot. It outlined town functions that could be eliminated entirely, such as the forestry department responsible for cleaning roadside vegetation, trimming and removing downed trees.  The agricultural commission, cemetery commission could be eliminated, and veterans services could be reduced. The towns cemeteries and veterans memorial could cease to be maintained.  There may be no town events and no funding for the park commission and recreational areas. The board of selectmen and finance committee say they were not involved in distributing the flyer.

    Several members of the audience forced the meeting to remain focused on the school budget issue, repeatedly demanding reassurances from officials and town counsel their budget increase from last week would hold. 

    “Everybody at this table knows what you want,” said Diegnan. “Nobody wants to take that away from you, but we are asking you to put a contingency on it (the rest of the budget). He urged residents to not hold the rest of the budget hostage and warned that “your town will not appear the same to you” if the budget passed without the contingency to override Prop 2 1/2.

     Voters then passed the entire town budget, excluding the school budget line, be subject to the tax override.  If voters pass the override in a ballot in July, they can expect a tax increase of about $1 per thousand.  Officials reminded the audience those on limited incomes and elders who are eligible can apply for tax exemptions from the board of assessors.

    If the override ballot fails, the board of selection will then be tasked to convene a special town meeting to approve a budget, line by line, with voters making decisions on cuts and/or funding sources.  Voters will be able to make whatever cuts they deem necessary to balance the town budget.

   After finally getting through the budget article, voters quickly approved Article 3 to approve the fire chief’s retirement buyback  of $29,801 for accrued sick time.  Article 4 concerned two lawsuits. The first involved approving a settlement fee of $45,000 in the matter of Morra vs. Rehoboth.  The second to pay $63,000 for the Dighton vs. Rehoboth lawsuit was tabled for defeat.

    Article 5 to use $355,300 of monies from the town’s sale of real estate for the purpose of funding an architectural design to renovate the public safety building was tabled for defeat and will be revisited at the fall town meeting.

    Voters approved Article 6 related to approving the creation of a stabilization fund for Bristol-Plymouth Technical High School.  Because Rehoboth sends students to B-P, the town is a member of that school district and this measure supports that district’s efforts at fiscal responsibility.  No money amount was involved in this article.

    With the remainder of the 37 articles still to be decided, the town meeting is scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday, May 27 at 7 PM in the high school auditorium.


LOCAL BUSINESS OWNERS URGED TO BAND TOGETHER

(May 19, 2014) The Rehoboth Business Association (RBA) has launched an effort to recruit more local business owners to join together to promote economic development and community interests. Created in the early 1990s to promote Rehoboth enterprise, the RBA supports the local business community and addresses concerns that affect the town’s business climate.

    Along with a history of community service, the organization offers local business people opportunities to connect and work cooperatively for common interests.  The group, known for focusing on business and not local politics, also welcomes local residents who operate businesses in southeastern Massachusetts.

    “Working together we can make a difference,” say board members who have been investigating ways to build up diversity and strength in numbers, particularly when new zoning bylaws will soon be implemented.    

    “Rehoboth town government has never been known for being very business-friendly,” offered one member.  “More than ever, this is the time to band together.” 

    With representation on the town’s economic development committee that meets monthly, the RBA is also active in community service. The group coordinates the annual roadside cleanup, as well as the annual candidates night every year before spring town election.

    The RBA annual dinner and election of officials will be held on Tuesday, June 17 at Country Garden Bed & Breakfast.  For additional information, visit the RBA website.


VOLUNTEERS NEEDED TO SERVE ON ANIMAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

(May 17, 2014)  With the recent approval of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen, a new five-member advisory committee on animal welfare issues will be established as soon as members can be appointed.

    The Rehoboth Animal Advisory Committee, after researching issues, will recommend policy to the BOS concerning Massachusetts state animal welfare laws. The volunteer committee will then work cooperatively with the town's Animal Control Officer who is now under the direction of the Rehoboth Police Department.

    Volunteers are needed as soon as possible.  Anyone interested must complete a talent bank form and drop it off at the town office. Talent bank forms are easily found on copies of the town meeting warrant or in the selectmen's office. You can also find the form online and print a copy.

    “Thank you for stepping forward to volunteer on this very important committee,” said past selectman Lorraine Botts, ad-hoc committee member who has been instrumental in addressing local animal welfare issues.


RECORD NUMBER OF RESIDENTS ATTEND TOWN MEETING

(May 13, 2014)  Over 540 Rehoboth residents packed the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School auditorium last night for the first four-hour segment of the annual town meeting.

    Prior to the start of the annual town meeting, residents voted to approve several items on a special town meeting warrant including budget adjustments to cover fiscal year 2014 expenses, along with $155,000 to pay for snow and ice removal and $551,88 for capital purchases including five new police cruisers.

    After some procedural maneuvering to change the order of warrant articles, the audience addressed the issue of school district portion of the town’s overall budget.  With hundreds of concerned parents in attendance, voters overwhelmingly approved (373 to 170) an amendment to increase the school budget from the $13,116,150 recommended by the finance committee (or the state-mandated minimum) to $14,988,625. 

    In the last couple weeks, there has been a rigorous effort by D-R Parents United to appeal to voters to increase the school budget by presenting evidence the elementary, middle and regional high school were in dire need of more funds as building have fallen into disrepair, students face larger classes and lack appropriate technology.

   An attempt was made by the finance committee to make the increase subject to a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override, but voters rejected that idea.

    The annual town meeting will reconvene next Monday night at 7 PM in the DRRHS auditorium.  All residents are encouraged to attend in order to vote on the remaining warrant articles that affect town residents.


CONCERNED PARENTS, STUDENTS ATTEND BOS MEETING

(May 6, 2014)  Last night’s meeting of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen had more attendees than usual as parents and high school students passionately appealed for selectmen to support an increase in Rehoboth’s portion of the regional school district budget for next year. 

    Parents asked selectmen and members of the finance committee to curtail “hostile rhetoric” against the school committee and the Town of Dighton, and urged them to stop denigrating other public officials.

    “We have problems with the regionalization agreement,” said Selectman Skip Vadnais.  “Until that is fixed, I am not going to support helping the school system.”  He told the audience the school budget was in the hands of the town meeting and not the responsibility of the board of selectmen.  “I am elected to provide municipal services,” he added, saying the BOS is responsible for public safety such as police and fire, and safe buildings. “We can’t help you with this plight,” he told the audience, suggesting residents show up to vote at town meeting.

     Officials say the schools represents a 64% portion of the town’s operating budget, one that must be approved at town meeting. While the school committee has approved a proposed increase in the budget, the finance committee has urged residents to vote against the increase.  According to selectmen, the town would have to approve an override of Prop 2 1/2 in order “to give another million to the schools.”

      After BOS Chairman Michael Costello chastised the school department for not offering a proposed budget broken down by line item, school committee member Ray Medeiros countered “we have offered that budget several times in public meetings.”

     “I really hope my children won’t become the lost generation of this school district,” said parent Sean Kane.  “I understand you (selectmen) are trying to protect the town, but not by holding the school system hostage.”  Kane urged selectmen to not “amp the rhetoric up” and instead offer some support.  “We are hearing a very hostile message from you,”

      Several students took the opportunity to explain how budget cuts would hurt their ability to attain competitive “well-rounded” status required for college applications.  High school students say they are worried class sizes will increase, certain classes will not be offered, and exposure to music, art, theatre and sports will decrease.

    “Why are we the ones leading the charge here,” said one, “why are we the ones who have to act like adults in this community?”

     According to one Rehoboth teacher, the district accreditation could be at risk if budget cuts resulted in increased class sizes. “Whatever money calculations got screwed up, let’s move on,” she told selectmen, asking them to stop “dissing the school budget” and stop “scaring our seniors about more taxes” because the minimum contribution to the district “is not going to do it.”   She reflected that to help a troubled school district, “the majority of us must shoulder the responsibility.”

     “We are way overdue for a tax override,” said BOS chairman Michael Costello, who added that Rehoboth has the “lowest taxes anywhere” but that townspeople “vote against anything with a dollar sign.

    School committee member Tiffany Bartholomew agreed with selectmen that officials from both towns need to work together and come up with productive solutions, lest the students pay in the long run. Costello agreed a new committee should be formed. Bartholomew emphatically added, “people need to come to town meeting and vote.” 


HOMELAND SECURITY, LOCK-UP FACILITY, COMCAST LICENSE RENEWAL

(Update: May 6, 2014)  Selectmen last night voted to approve an agreement with the Bristol County Ash Street Jail to provide overnight accommodations for individuals arrested by Rehoboth police at a cost of $75 per day.  They also approved a grant contract to offer homeland security and community emergency classes and supplies. Budget amendments and reserve fund transfers for the police department were also approved, along with one-day malt and liquor licenses.  The four selectmen in attendance last night voted to reject all submitted bids to construct a salt shed due to discovery that all interested bidders were not notified appropriately.  

(May 5, 2014)  Two of the action items on tonight’s agenda for the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen include approving an agreement for a lock-up facility at the Bristol County Ash Street Jail, and signing a $1,100 contract with MEMA for a Homeland Security Program.

     Selectmen will hear an update on the newly appointed Animal Control Advisory Committee, hold a discussion on the Comcast license renewal, and also provide an update on their capital plan multi-year projections.

    They will also vote to reject all bids for a proposed new salt shed for the highway department, and vote to approve a one-day liquor application from the Seekonk Police Honor Guard.

    The board will also vote to approve $14,938 in budget amendments for the police department along with authorizing a $127 reserve fund transfer for the RPD.

    The regular segment of the BOS meeting will begin at 7 PM in the senior center.  Selectmen will meet early in executive session on contract negotiations and PILOT agreements.  They have scheduled an additional executive session for this Wednesday at 6 PM. 


RESIDENTS SUBJECT TO LATE DOG LICENSE FINE

(May 4, 2014)  Residents with dogs are required to license their animals each year by April 1. Any dog license not paid by May 31 will be assessed a $15. per dog late fee in addition to the license fee(s).

    Residents may purchase their dog’s 2014 licenses either at the Town Clerk’s Office, by mail, or online. The hours for town hall are Monday through Thursday from 8 AM. to 4 PM, and on Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon.

   The licensing fees are as follows:  Male or female dog $20.00, female-spayed or male-neutered $10.  Make checks payable to Town of Rehoboth.   Whether renewing online, via mail, or in person, dog license applications must be accompanied by a current year rabies certificate (with a vaccination date covering the current licensing year) and proof of spay or neuter [if applying for the $10 licensing fee] unless we already have your documentation on file in the Clerk’s Office. 

   If you are unsure, please give the office a call (508-252-6502 x-110-Laura or x-109-Lynn), and we can tell you how up-to-date our information is.  Dog owners should note that the license(s) will not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is included with the 1-27-14 postage (70¢ for one dog tag, 91¢ for two dog tags and 98¢ for three dog tags).


D-R PARENTS UNITED ADDRESS ISSUES FACING SCHOOL DISTRICT

(May 1, 2014)  Quickly gaining momentum ahead of the May 12 and 19 Rehoboth town meetings, the non-partisan ‘DR Parents United’ is organizing parents, educators and concerned citizens and making their collective voice heard.

     Created as an ad hoc group, their mission is to provide residents of Dighton and Rehoboth with “information and answers they need to make thoughtful decisions” on a number of issues related to the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District.  Those issues include the recent narrow defeat in Rehoboth of a bond issue and temporary tax increase to pay for 48% of roof repair costs at Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School.  The town of Dighton passed their town’s version of the tax increase for the high school, but the project with 52% grant funding approval from a state agency is now cancelled.

    With about 30 activists who are advocating for a wider contact group of hundreds of parents, educators and concerned citizens from both towns, leadership is being shared by various members of the group. “We hope to show there is a strong voice for education here,” said spokesperson Rachel Philip, “ and that town officials need to listen.

    Some of the issues they address include: D-R’s growing poor reputation as a district, disrepair of schools, the budget assessments for both towns, the litigation between the two towns on past assessment issues, and next year’s budget assessment.  The group is also addressing the position of Rehoboth officials to examine de-regionalizing the district, along with increasing hostility voiced publicly by Rehoboth officials against the school committee that advocates for building repairs, and increased budget for teachers, support staff, and adequate technology and supplies.


OFFICIAL D-R ROOF REPAIR BALLOT RECOUNT HELD YESTERDAY

Selectmen Look at Re-regionalization of School District

(April 29, 2014)   A recount of votes on Ballot Question 1 from the April 4 town election was held yesterday by the Town of Rehoboth upon the request of the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee.

    Overseeing the procedure, Town Clerk Laura Schwall reported the recount was conducted by the board of registrars and election workers.  The results, certified by the registrars, resulted in a change of additional votes against the temporary tax increase to fund Rehoboth’s portion of costs associated with the repair of the roof on the Dighton-Rehoboth High School.

   “While the number of votes against has changed, the result of the election remains the same,” reported Schwall.  “No tax increase will occur at this time,” she said.

    The original ballot count on the bond question was 655 against to 653 in favor of the bond question to cover 48% of roof repair project costs on Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School located in North Dighton.  The district had been approved for 52% reimbursement by the state for the repair project. The recount resulted in 650 votes in favor and 658 against.  Voters in the town of Dighton approved a bond issue for the high school roof repairs, but without the support of Rehoboth voters, the grant will be lost.

    “It’s slightly disappointing to lose the grant,” said Tiffany Bartholomew of the school committee in an interview with the Taunton Gazette. She added, “I think one of the reasons (they voted against it) is the (ballot) question was slightly confusing.  And the second reason is some of the political issues going on in town.”

   Selectmen last night at their regular meeting, along with FinCom chairman Michael Deignan, restated their intent to examine the regional school contract and district finances as they look at de-regionalization from neighboring Dighton. Rehoboth is currently being sued by the Town of Dighton over budget assessment issues.

    “There is a complete lack of leadership on the part of the school committee to address some of these important issues,” stated Deignan. “It appears to me that the Rehoboth contingent of the school committee is vacuous of leadership at this point,” he emphasized. 

     “I don’t feel like they (school committee) do enough,” said BOS chair Michael Costello.  He suggested members of the regional committee rely too much on school administration for direction instead of doing their own homework.

     “We should look at all the costs involved in separating,” said Selectman Sue Pimental, who suggested the finance committee begin that process after town meeting in May. 

      With the regional high school located in Dighton, the question of where Rehoboth students would attend high school was not addressed last night, nor were other issues involved with establishing a new school district and hiring administration.


VETERANS MEMORIAL UPDATE AND PLANS FOR RAFFLE EVENT

(April 29, 2014)   The Rehoboth Veterans Memorial Committee offered a construction update and announced plans for a raffle event - Rising on the Plain - to be held on Sunday, June 22 from 4 to 6 PM at Hillside Country Club.

    With the gazebo completed, the memorial located on the Redway Plain off Route 44, construction of a handicap accessible ramp is planned for early summer.  “Once the ramp is poured,” said committee member Jennifer Schwall, “we will be laying the first round of bricks on the ramp, which is reserved for any veteran who has served the United States.”

    She emphasized that brick orders received after May 10 will not be installed in the first round, but at a later date.  Bricks can be purchased for any veteran, but also for another walk as commemoratives to recognize a person, family or business.  Vist the memorial website to purchase a brick for a donation for $100 each. 

     “We would like to thank all of the individuals, families and local businesses who have donated to the cause,” said Schwall. “We would not be this far without your support! If your family or business would like to donate to the Veterans Memorial or provide a donation for our raffle, please donate through our website.”

    The committee also announced the raffle event fundraiser to be in June. Residents are invited to attend the social event.  Raffle tickets are now available for $5 each or $20 for a book of five tickets to win some “outstanding” prizes including: a hot air balloon ride; stay at the Five Bridge Inn, Red Sox tickets, Hillside Family Pool membership; flat screen TV, and restaurant and local business gift certificates.  Just call 508-252-4467 for tickets or email info@rehobothmemorial.com.


RPD COLLECTS OVER 40 POUNDS OF PRESCRIPTION MEDS

(April 27, 2014)   While participating in the National Drug Take Back Day yesterday, the Rehoboth Police Department collected over 40 pounds of prescription and non-prescription medications.

    The national initiative, in conjunction with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, is aimed at stemming abuse as well as proper disposal. The alarmingly rate of prescription drug abuse in the U.S continues to grow, along with misuse, overdose, accidental poisonings and criminal activity. Drug enforcement officials believe recreational use of prescription meds is a gateway to opiate addiction and possibly heroin use.

     The majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends. Meds are often shared intentionally with others to treat medical conditions, but more often are used recreationally or sold. It can be any type of prescription drug, not only pain killers.  In addition, Americans are now advised flushing meds down the toilet or throwing them in the trash both pose potential safety and health hazards.

     If you missed the Take Back Day and wish assistance to dispose of unused prescription medications, please contact Sgt. Brian Ramos 508-252-3722.


SCHOOL ROOF VOTE RECOUNT SCHEDULED FOR MONDAY

(April 24, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Registrars has announced a formal recount of the Ballot Question No. 1 on Monday, April 28 at 10 AM in the selectmen’s meeting room at the town office.

    The question on approving a debt exclusion or temporary tax increase for roof repairs at the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School, was narrowly defeated (655 to 653) by two votes on April 7.  The school committee requested a recount and their petition was received and certified by the Board of Registrars this week.


MOTORCYCLE DRIVER SUSTAINS SERIOUS INJURIES

(April 20, 2014)  Rehoboth Police, Fire and EMS were dispatched to a car vs. motorcycle accident at the intersection of Agricultural Avenue and Tremont Street on Saturday afternoon. The motorcyclist suffered serious injuries and was transported to RI Hospital by Rehoboth EMS. Rehoboth Police and firefighters remained on scene while an investigation was conducted. Names of drivers were not released.


PLAINVILLE MAN ARRESTED BY REHOBOTH POLICE IN ATTLEBORO

(April 20, 2014)  On Friday night shortly after 6:30 PM, Rehoboth police arrested a Plainville man driving a motorcycle on seven vehicular charges after chasing him westbound on Tremont Street and into Attleboro.

     While on patrol, Sgt. Richard Shailor observed the motorcycle traveling at a high rate of speed. Richard Farrand, age 49, failed to stop and increased speed for a brief pursuit on Tremont past the town line.  Shailor was able to stop Farrand in the Oak HIll mobile home complex off Oak Hill Avenue. 

    Farrand was charged with seven counts best described as failing to stop for police after negligent operation of an unregistered vehicle, with an open container of alcohol on a suspended license after improper passing and speeding.


REHOBOTH WOMAN REPORTED MISSED FOUND DECEASED IN CAR

(April 19, 2014)   A Rehoboth woman, reported missing by her husband on Wednesday and reported on television media last night, was found dead in her vehicle in the parking lot of Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro.

    The body of Joyce Eddy, age 57 of Rocky Hill Road, was discovered by Attleboro police at approximately 10:30 pm on Friday night. It is unknown at this time how long the vehicle had been parked there. 

     According to Eddy’s husband, on Tuesday night the couple had been traveling in two vehicles from the Burger King in East Providence when she failed to follow him home. He reported her missing the next day and endangered persons alerts were posted on several websites including Facebook. The story then was picked up by Providence and Boston television news stations.

     Both Attleboro and Rehoboth police, as well as the Massachusetts State Police, are investigation, but no foul play is suspected at this time. In a press release, RPD thanks those who had come forward to offer assistance when the case involved a missing person.


REHOBOTH POLICE ASSIST WITH SOCIAL SECURITY FRAUD CASE

(April 18, 2014) Federal officials and Rehoboth police have made a joint announcement about a case of Social Security fraud involving a man who worked for a Rehoboth resident a personal care provider.

    Carl Lynch, age 43 of Ware, MA, pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge George A. O’Toole, Jr. to theft of public money.

    After receiving Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits since 2003, Lynch began working under another man’s identity as a personal care attendant in 2007 for an elderly person in Rehoboth.  While earning an average of $80,000 per year from that job, he falsely told officials in February 2013 he had not worked since 1998.  Ten months later, he admitted to investigators he worked under a false name to conceal his income that made him ineligible for SSA disability benefits.  During the time of his employment in Rehoboth, Lynch received $50,264 in disability benefits.

   Detective Jasson Ferreira of the Rehoboth Police Department assisted investigators from the office of United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Scott Antolik, Special Agent in Charge of the Social Security Administration;  and Office of the Inspector General, Office of Investigations Boston Field Division assigned to the SSA with this investigation.

    The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Timothy Landry of Ortiz’s Major Crimes Unite.  Lynch was charged last month and is scheduled for sentencing on July 22.


DRRHS ROOF REPAIR PROJECT DEPENDS ON RECOUNT

(April 17, 2014) Neighboring Dighton residents voted to approve temporary tax increases to fund roof repairs on three schools, but the regional high school’s roof remains in question until an election recount takes place next week.

     Last week Rehoboth voters took to the polls and defeated the question for a debt exclusion override - or temporary tax increase - to repair the DRRHS roof.  Only two votes (total 655 to 653) prevent the project, already approved for 52% reimbursement by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). 

    The D-R Regional School District school committee, with members from both towns, have requested a recount.  Without the approval of both towns, the DRRHS roof repair project loses MSBA support while the other schools can still take advantage of the reimbursement offer.

    Dighton voters approved temporary tax increases for their elementary school 523 to 229, the middle school 529 to 221, and the high school 504 to 251. Rehoboth voters approved funding roof repairs on D.L. Beckwith School.


REHOBOTH MAN INJURED IN CAPE COD CRASH

(April 13, 2014) A Rehoboth man was injured in a single-car accident morning in West Barnstable on Cape Cod early Sunday morning, according to MA State Police.

    Twenty-eight-year old Derek Dube was transported to Cape Cod Hospital with serious injuries said Dustin Fitch, a state police spokesperson. Dube was driving a 2004 BMW 325xi when the accident occurred on Route 6 shortly before 3 AM. The crash is under investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and the state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section.


STABBING SUSPECT TURNS HIMSELF IN TO TAUNTON DISTRICT COURT

(April 10, 2014) Dennis Arruda, the suspect in a Rehoboth stabbing incident on Sunday, turned himself in at Taunton District Court accompanied by his attorney.  Twenty-year-old Arruda was then arraigned on a Rehoboth police charge of domestic assault with a dangerous weapon. The Rehoboth Police department wishes to thank everyone who assisted with the investigation.


ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER PUT UNDER POLICE DEPARTMENT

(April 10, 2014) Selectmen at their meeting last Monday night announced their intent to place the position of Animal Control Officer under the authority and direct supervision of the Rehoboth Police Department. 

   According to Selectman Skip Vadnais, “this is the beginning of a long process” to update the town’s animal welfare services. Beginning with an information gathering process, Vadnais said officials will study operation of the animal shelter, the facility, staffing, compensation and other issues. The state, following multiple on-site inspections, has found the animal shelter and control function to be deficient in several areas.

    “This is not a reflection on your performance,” said newly elected Selectman Dave Perry to Jane Foster, the town’s animal control officer.  “This is about compliance with state bureaucracy.”

    Vadnais, a local farmer, added the info gathering process will include looking at board of health obligations, law enforcement obligations and the “aggressive identification of offenders who don’t vaccinate their animals.” 

     Foster told selectmen she has no problem with the plan to put her job under the supervision of the police department. Residents will have the opportunity to vote on a new animal welfare bylaw, initiated by Lorraine Botts during her tenure as selectman, at the upcoming May town meeting.

    

POLICE SEEK STABBING SUSPECT STILL AT-LARGE

(April 8, 2014) On Sunday evening, Rehoboth police responded to an Agricultural Avenue residence after a 911 call from a twenty-year-old man who said he had been stabbed.

    Sgt. Richard Shailor, along with officers Louis DiBacco and Thomas Ranley, arrived to find the caller had been stabbed once in the abdomen. The unnamed man told police his assailant had fled the scene before being transported to Rhode Island Hospital by Rehoboth Ambulance.

    The alleged attacker, later identified as eighteen-year-old Dennis Arruda of Warren, RI, is still at large.  A warrant for his arrest on a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon has been issued.  Anyone having information about Arruda’s whereabouts is asked to contact the RPD at 508-252-3722.

(Note: photo of wanted suspect removed April 10)


APATHY REIGNS: ONLY 17% OF VOTERS TURN OUT FOR ELECTION

School Com to Ask for Recount of Narrowly Defeated Measure

(April 8, 2014)  With several uncontested races, there was a dismal voter turnout for yesterday’s town election with only 1,362 of the town’s 8,078 registered casting ballots.

     Michael Costello was elected for his second term on the five-member board of selectmen with 744 votes.  Dave Perry was elected to his first term as a selectman with 888 votes.  Candidate David Laurino, also running for selectman lost with 644 votes.

    The only other contested race was that of a three-year seat on the board of assessors, a part-time town employee position.  Chuck Procopio won with a total of  853 votes beating his opponent Joseph Ferrini, Jr. who received 397 votes.

   Two members were elected to the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee including incumbent Tiffany Bartholomew and newcomer Heather Cross.

    After the polls closed at 8 PM, the ballots were tabulated before winning candidates were sworn in at 11 PM at the town office, including Costello, Perry, Procopio, Bartholomew, Cute and Schwall. 

    Ballot Question 1, to approve a temporary tax increase to fund around 48% of the total cost of roof repairs on the regional high school, was defeated by only two votes, 653 to 655.  Question 2, related to roof repairs for D. L. Beckwith Middle School was passed 735 votes to 568. 

    The Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Accelerated Repair Program had approved 52.06% grant funding for district roof repairs on both Dighton schools, Beckwith and DRRHS.  Even if Dighton voters approve high school roof repairs at their own town election on April 12, the MSBA grant will be lost for the high school while remaining in place for the other three schools.

   “I am most disappointed in the small turnout for this election,” said School Committee chair Ray Medeiros, who noted the school committee will request a recount.  “We are looking into what is necessary to get that process started.”

    Medeiros added the low voter turnout indicates a lack of information about the two bond issues, or a case of genearl apathy when there are few contested races for public office.

     A full review of yesterday’s election results can be found on the 2014 Town Election page.


REHOBOTH POLICE ARREST LOCAL MAN IN NORTON

(April 8, 2014)  Rehoboth police were called yesterday to a Smith Street home on a report of domestic disturbance after the suspected person had already left the residence.  After taking a report from the alleged victim and witness, police issued an alert to area police departments on fifty-year-old Lewis G. Reed, Jr. of Rehoboth.

   Believing the suspect may have fled to a business in Norton, officers contacted local police there to assist with the apprehension of Reed who was taken into custody and charged with domestic assault.  Reed is scheduled for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.


CEC ANNOUNCES PURCHASE OF REHOBOTH SOLAR ENERGY FARM

(April 3, 2014)  Clean Energy Collective (CEC) of Boulder, Colorado, the nation’s leading community-owned solar developer, yesterday announced the purchase of two medium scale solar projects from Massachusetts-based BlueWave Capital including the Southeastern Massachusetts Community Solar Array, 997 kW facility located on Tremont Street in Rehoboth.

    This acquisition, along with another in Hadley, MA, will make solar energy available to a wide range of residential and commercial customers in the National Grid territories and Western Massachusetts Electric (WMECo). 

   “With so many historic and shaded properties throughout the sate, the community solar model is ideally suited for the Massachusetts market,” said CEC President Paul Spencer.  “It opens the solar option to a much wider range of customers.”

    Construction on both projects is underway and are expected to be operational by late June. Fully refundable reservations are being accepted now for both arrays. Individual or commercial systems can be scaled to meet any budget or power requirements.

   “We are thrilled to help CEC, the nation’s leading community solar company, get off to a flying start here in the Commonwealth and we look forward to working with them to advance the cause on these and other projects in the BlueWave portfolio,” said BlueWave Managing Principal John DeVillars. “If you live in Massachusetts and want to do something to combat climate change, CEC offers a simple, cost-effective way to make a difference and save money on your electric bill at the same time.”

   CEC’s community-owned solar model allows any customer in a participating utility territory, including renters, those with shaded roofs, and people with modest incomes, the opportunity to ‘go green’ and save money by adopting solar energy without having to install a rooftop system on their home or business. Community solar customers are afforded the same rebates and incentives as rooftop system owners, including Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) rebates, and receive credit for the power produced directly on their monthly bills. Since community solar projects are sited and maintained for maximum production and lifespan, they produce more electricity for longer than most other renewable energy options. More information can be found at masscommunitysolar.com or info@masscommunitysolar.com.


REHOBOTH FIREFIGHTERS RECEIVE STATE RECOGNITION

(April 1, 2014)  Members of the Rehoboth Fire Department were presented with service recognition awards at last night’s meeting of the Rehoboth selectmen.  Fire Chief Robert Pray and Deputy Chief Frank Barresi presented by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at five year intervals.

    Those presented with 30 year awards were: Assistant Chief Robert Noons, Lt. Dan Noons and Captain Jeff Rassol.  Twenty-five-year awards were presented to: Deputy Chief Barresi, Lt. Chris Botelho, Lt. Ken Marcotrigano, and Lt. Randy Larrivee, and Firefighter Tom Rose.  Those receiving twenty year awards included:

Lt. Paul Magan, Firefighter Mike McKearney and Firefighter Nat Dyer. Chief Robert Pray, who plans to retire next year, was presented with an award for 35 years of service.


BRIDGEWATER WOMAN CHARGED WITH DRUNK DRIVING

(March 31, 2014)  Late Saturday night, a young Bridgewater woman was arrested on several vehicular charges by Rehoboth police.

    Officer Craig Forget, traveling eastward on Route 44 behind twenty-year-old Emily R. Burke, watched as her vehicle almost hit a guardrail.  She was pulled over and taken into custody on charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation and a marked lane violation.  Burke was released on $240 cash bail with arraignment set for today in Taunton District Court.


RESCUERS OF REHOBOTH CAT COLONY SEEK HELP

(March 27, 2014)  Paws of Plainville, a volunteer, non-profit organization that rescued a large colony of thirty cats in Rehoboth last May, seeks donors to help pay for surgery on two Rehoboth cats remaining in their care.

   The rescued “junkyard” cat colony, mostly kittens, was removed from bleak conditions and suffered from a variety of afflictions including malnourishment, FIV, FIP, ringworm and both external and internal parasites.  Many cats were hospitalized for treatment and later adopted out to loving homes.

     Two remaining cats, brothers Noodle and Breeze, both have luxating patella, an orthopedic condition that prevents their rear leg kneecaps from aligning properly.  The condition is so severe, surgery is required to improve the quality of their lives and increase their adoptability.

     “They have some so far from the lethargic, ringworm-ridden kittens that arrived at our shelter,” said Heather Molloy of Paws of Plainville.  “Now they really need your support.” 

    A fundraising page at GoFundMe.com has been established to help Noodle and Breeze. All donations are tax deductible and can also be mailed to PO Box 2236, Plainville, MA 02762.  Donors are asked to indicate their donation “Noodle and Breeze.”

    Hopefully both cats will be adopted when they are well.  Molloy invites anyone who wishes to meet Noodle or Breeze to call her at 508-695-4707.

   Last year when the group rescued the large Rehoboth cat colony, they reached out for donations of cat food, adoptive homes and funds to support medical care.  Local Animal Control Officer Jane Foster was instrumental in coordinating the effort with Paws and welcomed their assistance as they had the means to perform the rescue and obtain vet care for the sick cats.

    Even before that large rescue, Selectman Lorraine Botts had begun working on an animal welfare bylaw to address similar situations of neglect or abuse. Opposed by other selectmen, Botts was unable to get a proposed bylaw put on the town meeting warrant last May or in November. Her persistance paid off and after several revisions, residents will be allowed to vote on an animal welfare bylaw at the upcoming town meeting on May 12.


BOS SEEK TO APPOINT LT. TROMBETTA PERMANENT POLICE CHIEF

(March 25, 2014)  While reviewing next fiscal year’s police budget, Rehoboth selectmen last night voiced their intent to appoint Lt. James Trombetta to the position of permanent police chief.

    Posted on the meeting agenda as a police budget discussion, the topic of making Trombetta the permanent chief was first introduced by Selectman Skip Vadnais.  “It’s been three years that we have put off appointment of a chief,” said Vadnais, adding the position should be filled and begin by July 1, the start of the new fiscal year.

   “He’s certainly proved himself,” said BOS chair Sue Pimental of Trombetta.  “It makes sense to take the wages of Lt. Trombetta and put them up into the chief (budget line item),” said Pimental.  She also suggested eliminating the lieutenant position from the police budget if a permanent chief is appointed.

    Vadnais said, “If we are all on the same page, and I think we are, I have absolutely no opposition to making our acting chief our full-time chief.”  Addressing his fellow selectman, Vadnais added,  “If we are in agreement on that, I would ask that our chair to negotiate with the lieutenant (Trombetta) for a compensation number” to put on the FY15 budget.  “Does that work for everyone?”

     As of last night, the proposed police budget for next fiscal year includes a 5.8 percent increase in salaries, without an adjustment for a full-time chief salary.  The increase was explained to selectmen as a result of shifting uniform allowances into the salary line.  “We are going to have to explain this at town meeting,” said Pimental.      

     According to Finance Committee Vice-chairman Gerry Schwall, the shifting of line items can be was a process of making the police budget more understandable and manageable, and at the end of the day provides greater accountability.” 

    “We are going to have to explain this at town meeting,” said Pimental.

    “Quite frankly, in the last year, and I’m not sure how it happened, we blew it,” said Schwall.  “We under-budgeted overtime.”  Because of that, a $95,000 reserve fund transfer had to be approved at a special town meeting last November.  Based on departmental data collected and analyzed by Lt.  Michael Brady while doing the department budget, Schwall believes that streamlining the budget will increase accountability. 

     “If the intent is to go into contract negotiations for you as police chief,” Pimental asked Trombetta, “what do you need for staff, more patrolmen?”  He answered that based on prior discussion with Pimental and Schwall, he would like to hire at five more full-time patrolmen. “We’ve been running short,” said Trombetta.  “Two are must fill positions, the other three we need to be patrolmen,” he noted, adding that the department now has four reserve officers available. He also mentioned the need for more new cruisers.

   Because new hires are not included in the proposed budget for next year, Schwall suggested proceeding with the budget, as is, along with a line for police chief for May town meeting.  He encouraged more discussion with selectmen after chief contract negotiations and later “clean up lines at special town meeting” next autumn.


SELECTMEN ACCEPT DONATION OF MOULTON STREET LAND

(March 25, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen last night accepted a donation of land at 215 Moulton Street from Ana Pavao, wife of late Rehoboth business owner Manny Pavao.  Mrs. Pavao expressed her desire to give something back to the town as she sells property, the family homestead and business in a process of downsizing. 

    Selectman Mike Costello questioned if the property on Moulton would make a good conservation area.  He suggested selectmen discuss the land with the Community Preservation Committee and Rehoboth Land Trust.  Selectmen recommended naming a future conservation area in the memory of Manny Pavao.


NEW STOP SIGN INSTALLED ON FAIRVIEW AT HOMESTEAD

(March 20, 2014) A new stop sign was installed by the Rehoboth Highway Department yesterday on Fairview Avenue northbound at the intersection of Homestead Avenue.  An additional flashing “stop ahead” sign was also installed to warn drivers about the new stop.

    Previously drivers attempting to make a left turn onto Fairview from the existing stop sign on Homestead were forced to creep ahead after stopping to see if cars were approaching either way on Fairview.  Complaints to the board of selectmen resulted in the installation of the new stop intended to improve traffic safety. To further ensure a safe transition for drivers not used to a new stop on Fairview at Homestead, selectmen approved the flashing marquee for a period of several weeks.

     Another two-way stop is located on Fairview Avenue at Ash Street.  Installed in the early 1990s to slow drivers coming around the curve, the stop has proven successful in preventing southbound accidents.  Northbound accidents still occur because there is not a stop sign to slow drivers heading northbound into the curve.

    According to homeowners at the intersection, the stop sign at Fairview and Ash is effective, but also routinely ignored by some drivers, a situation well-known to Rehoboth police.


TOWN HOSTS FREE CPR AND AED COURSE FOR RESIDENTS

(March 20, 2014) The Town of Rehoboth will host a free community cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator (AED) course on Thursday, May 1 at the Rehoboth Senior Center at 6:30 PM.    

    Rehoboth is designated as a HeartSafe community and takes active steps to enhance the chain of survival and increase the number of townspeople who can perform CPR, and use AED when someone suffers from sudden cardiac arrest. To sign up for this free course, please email Town Nurse Jaime Conlon, RN by email at: jconlon@town.rehoboth.ma.us 


HOMELESS MAN ARRESTED FOR THREATENING TO BREAK WINDOWS

(March 16, 2014) Rehoboth police responded on Friday to the report of a disturbance, a man threatening to break windows, at J&J Materials located on Route 6. 

   Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta, along with Sgt. Richard Shailor and Officer James Casey, plus officers from Seekonk, Swansea and Barrington arrived to arrest a homeless man on charges of disorderly conduct and alleged threats of vandalism.

    Thirty-year-old Gleb Barokha, of no known address, had already left the area of the business and was found a short distance away.  According to police, Barokha had threatened to “throw boulders” through windows of the business.

    With no apparent connection with the business, Barohka will be arraigned in Taunton District Court on the two charges. In Massachusetts, a disorderly conduct arrest is usually a discretionary decision by a police officer. If convicted, the charge is punishable to up to six months in jail.

       

YOUNG TAUNTON WOMAN ARRESTED ON MULTIPLE CHARGES

(March 16, 2014) Rehoboth police early this morning arrested a Taunton woman on an impressive array of six vehicular charges.

    Twenty-year-old Elsie Mendez was taken into custody after almost smashing into a Rehoboth police cruiser driven by Sgt. Richard Shailor while he patroled Route 44 near the Seekonk town line.  The vehicle driven by Mendez was traveling east bound in the west bound lane at a high rate of speed when she almost hit the cruiser.  Shailor reports she “later passed another vehicle in a no passing zone” before she finally stopped.

    Mendez faces charges of drunk driving, speeding, negligent operation, and a passing violation along with being a minor in possession of alcohol, and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. She is due to be arraigned in Taunton District Court tomorrow.


PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED REVISIONS TO ZONING BYLAWS

(March 12, 2014) The Rehoboth Planning Board will hold a public hearing on proposed new zoning bylaws on Wednesday, March 26 starting at 7:30 PM at the town office.

   According to a press release issued by the town, the public hearing offers the opportunity for residents to attend and for officials to “receive public comments and input regarding the proposed revisions to the town’s zoning bylaws.”

   The Zoning Bylaw Review Committee consists of present Inspector of Buildings and Chief Zoning Officer Bill McDonough; former building inspector Michael O’Hern; John Scanlon of the zoning board of appeals; Jim Muri of the planning board; and selectmen Michael Costello and Joe Tito. 

   The bylaw review process, approved by residents last year at town meeting, began last June.  The committee has worked with town counsel Attorney Mark Bobrowski to make revisions and adjustments to the current zoning bylaws, several of which were not in compliance with municipal standards under state law.

  In February, residents were given the chance to review the proposed changes at a information session held by the review committee.  The final version of the zoning bylaws will be voted on by resident voters at the upcoming annual town meeting held on May 12.


SELECTMEN COLLABORATE ON PROPOSED ANIMAL WELFARE BYLAW

(March 11, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen last night discussed putting a proposed animal welfare bylaw on the town meeting warrant for May.

    Selectman Lorraine Botts, who first proposed an animal welfare bylaw almost a year ago, fought stern opposition from Selectman Skip Vadnais as late as last week.  During the past year, he was vehemently against an anti-abuse bylaw that could be misinterpreted and impossible to enforce. 

    Since last week the two selectmen collaborated on language for the proposed bylaw to “guard against cruelty and inhuman treatment” of companion animals (dogs, cats, etc) and shared it last night with fellow selectmen.  According to the suggested bylaw, pet owners found in violation would be subject to fines.

    The town faces its own problems with regard to animal welfare. A follow-up visit recently to the Rehoboth Animal Shelter by Dr. Lorraine O’Connor from the MA Dept. of Animal Welfare identified continued “major concerns” with the shelter and its operation. Several months ago, the shelter was deemed to have serious structural and environmental problems including poor air quality and bad roof.

   The recent visit identified additional problems including long-term residency of animals waiting adoption and record keeping at the shelter.  Vadnais suggested the board of selectmen appoint a new animal control study committee to look into the various issues including how to improve the shelter to meet state standards. Both Vadnais and Botts volunteered to be members of the study committee if one was appointed.

 

DOOR-TO-DOOR D-R SCHOLARSHIP COLLECTION DATES CHANGED

(March 11, 2014) Organizers for the D-R Citizens Scholarship Foundation (CSF) announced a change of schedule for the door-to-door solicitation campaign, postponing the event by a week.  The collection, conducted by DRRHS seniors, will now be held from Friday, March 21 thru Sunday March 23 in Rehoboth with the exception of residences on Route 44 and Route 6.


ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICER SENDS WARNING TO RESIDENTS

(March 4, 2014) Rehoboth’s Animal Control Officer Jane Foster, at last night’s selectmen’s meeting, warned residents to “stay away from strange furry things that don’t belong to you” as a preventive measure against injury including possible infection by rabid animals.

   Foster strongly urges residents to resist trying to assist wounded animals including cats and dogs. “It is very dangerous for anyone to try and rescue an animal they don’t know,” she said, expressing her concern about a woman who anonymously brought an injured cat to a local animal hospital.

    “She didn’t give her name and I’m worried about her as the injured cat (now quarantined) may have rabies,” emphasized Foster.  Recently a cat brought to the shelter tested positive for rabies and was put down.

     If you see an injured animal, domestic or otherwise, please contact Animal Control at 508-252-5421, ext. 126.

    

D-R SENIORS ANNUAL DOOR-TO-DOOR SCHOLARSHIP COLLECTION

(March 4, 2014) The Dighton Rehoboth High School Class of 2014 will be participating in the annual Citizens Scholarship Foundation (CSF) Door-to-Door Campaign on Friday, March 14 thru Sunday March 16 in Rehoboth with the exception of residences on Route 44 and Route 6.

    The money raised is used for general scholarship money to any graduating senior who plans to continue their education beyond high school. The more money the students raise with the door-to-door campaign, the more money they receive in scholarship funds. Last year, when residents were digging out from a snowstorm, the Class of 2013 raised over $19,000.  So far, the collection record for a single year was over $22,000.

    Contributions to CSF are tax deductible. If you are not home during when students call at your home, you can still donate. Mail your donation to CSF, P.O. Box 696, Rehoboth, MA 02769. A return receipt will be mailed to donors. 


FUNDING SCHOOL ROOF REPAIRS PROJECT PUT ON APRIL 7 BALLOT

(March 1, 2014) A majority of voters at yesterday afternoon’s special town meeting approved putting two questions on the April 7 town election ballot related to funding almost $10 million in school roof repairs.

   Residents will now have a chance to decide if they want a temporary tax increase to pay for replacement of roofs on both D. L. Beckwith Middle School in Rehoboth and D-R Regional High School located in neighboring Dighton. A debt exclusion to override the state’s Proposition 2 1/2 tax limitation law will be required for the town for bonds to be paid back by 2034.

     The state, through a grant program of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), has already approved paying 52% of the total costs for replacing roofs on four district schools. Dighton voters will decide tomorrow night whether or not to put the issue on their town election ballot. 

    Acting School Superintendent Michael Malone said that if both towns say no, the district will lose the 52% grant from MSBA.  “If this doesn’t go now, the district gets back in line.”

     There was ample debate yesterday including two unsuccessful motions to amend language used in the two article questions. Tiffany Bartholomew of the school committee’s roof repair task force said the articles were carefully worded by the MSBA and any changes may undermine the grant.

     The town’s finance committee was clear they disapproved even putting the debt exclusion questions to voters on April 7 because of other issues relating to the school district.

    Chairman Michael Deignan said there is a contentious relationship between Rehoboth and Dighton and likened going into debt to pay for a new roof on the high school to a divorcing couple deciding to buy a house together. Deignan said the town is looking at de-regionalizing the school district and will look at various options including establishing a new relationship with either Seekonk or Swansea.

    School Committee Chairman Ray Medeiros objected to comments made by Deignan and said residents were there to vote on putting the issue on the April 7 ballot.  Ultimately a hand count was taken resulting in a vote of 80 to 40 of the 140 registered voters in attendance.


REHOBOTH VOTERS ASKED TO SHOW UP TOMORROW

(February 28, 2014) A Special Town Meeting will be held tomorrow in the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School auditorium at 1 PM for registered voters to vote yes or no on putting two bond issues related to school roof repair on the town ballot for the April 7 town election.

     A quorum is required and officials hope to see seventy residents attend the meeting.  If the bond questions pass on Saturday, the April 7 ballot will include a proposed debt exclusion temporary tax increase, an override of Proposition 2 1/2, to pay for roof repairs -- $6.69 million for Rehoboth’s share of DRRHS roof repairs, and $2,827,207 for roof repairs at D.L. Beckwith Middle School. 

     Under the state’s Accelerated Repair Program, the D-R district repairs have already been approved by the Massachusetts School Building Authority with 52 percent reimbursement from the state.  The total cost of district roof repairs is over $13 million dollars including roof repairs to both Dighton Elementary and Dighton Middle School. Residents of Dighton will follow the same process separate from Rehoboth.

    The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen and Rehoboth Finance Committee have both scheduled meetings in the high school auditorium before the 1 PM special town meeting.


SELECTMEN APPROVE SOLAR FARM LEASE NEGOTIATION

(February 25, 2014) Rehoboth selectman last night voted to approve the start of negotiations with Boston-based BlueWave Capital, LLC to lease the Rehoboth landfill for a period of twenty years.

    BlueWave was identified by a special evaluation committee for submitting the the best proposal for a solar installation utilizing the landfill at the transfer station. Special appointee David House, along with Town Administrator Jeff Ritter and Health Agent Bob Ashton carefully evaluated the proposals based on strict criteria.      

    “BlueWave has the highest overall score,” said House offering a $1.9 million dollar return over the two-decade lease period.  “There is no risk to the town,” he noted.  With extensive experience in developing environmentally responsible energy projects, the company is also already familiar with Rehoboth rules as they have constructed solar installations here. 

    House encouraged selectmen to approve the lease as quickly as possible.  He said the project will take around sixteen months to complete once a lease is signed.

 

DRIVERS BEWARE:  NEW STOP SIGN ON FAIRVIEW AVENUE

(February 25, 2014) Rehoboth residents are advised a new stop sign will be going up on Fairview Avenue at the dangerous intersection of Homestead Avenue.  Rehoboth selectmen last night discussed the new two-way stop with Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta.    

     Trombetta said he thinks the new sign will help break up the traffic flow for drivers coming out of Homestead onto Fairview.  There is one other two-way on Fairview at the corner of Ash Street which has curtailed the number of accidents that previously occurred at that intersection.

     Selectman Mike Costello suggested the town install a flashing “stop ahead” sign at least temporarily until drivers get used to the new stop sign. 


MYSTERIOUS TRASH SLINGER POSES ONGOING CONCERN

(February 25, 2014) Rehoboth selectmen last night discussed a mysterious trash slinger on County Street with Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta. 

    According to Trombetta, someone regularly slings plastic bags filled with used kitty litter into trees.  This has been an ongoing problem for a couple years.  Although police have investigated, they have yet to determine who is behind the trash slinging.

    Selectmen expressed the need to catch the person responsible and suggested video taping  as a means of investigation. Trombetta said he doubts a video recording will capture enough information to identify the vehicle from which the bagged cat feces is thrown.  Residents are encouraged to report suspicious activity.   


FINANCE COMMITTEE DISCHARGES MEMBER FOR MISSING MEETINGS

(February 25, 2014) For the second time in less than a year, the Rehoboth Finance Committee has lost an appointed member due to missed meetings. at least 50% of regular meetings.   According to bylaw, dismissal is automatic once a member misses at least 50% of regular meetings.  No further action or vote is required by the selectmen or finance committee.

   Selectmen last night officially recognized that John Ferreira is no longer a member of the finance committee for missing 50% of regular meeting. FinCom scheduled seventeen public meetings between Friday, March 8, 2013 and  February 14, 2014.  Meetings are held on varying days of the week, places and times.


REHOBOTH POLICE ACQUIRE ARMORED PERSONNEL CARRIER

(February 25, 2014) Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta announced to selectmen last night the recent acquisition of an armored personnel carrier to be used by police personnel from Rehoboth who serve on the regional SWAT team.

    Like the police department’s Humvees and ATVs, the armored personnel carrier was obtained used and free through the government surplus program.  Officer Craig Warrish went to South Carolina to pick up the vehicle with the assistance of G. Lopes Construction of Dighton. 

     The Rehoboth police have three officers who are trained for the regional SWAT team.  Trombetta said when they are called, they can be dispatched to the location in the new vehicle to pick up other SWAT personnel.  He hopes other municipalities will donate funds to help pay for the maintenance costs of having the personnel carrier on the road.


SELECTMEN TO HEAR REPORT ON TOWN TRAFFIC ISSUES

(February 24, 2014) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at the senior center with an agenda that includes a report from Acting Police Chief Lt. James Trombetta on “town traffic issues and trash in trees.”

    Other agenda items include a discussion with special appointee David House, past chair of the now inactive energy committee, on his recommendations for the landfill solar energy installation project.  Recently a request for proposal (RFP) was reissued by the town to solicit firms to lease the Rehoboth landfill at the transfer station. House was appointed by selectmen to consult on the project.

    Selectmen will also discuss town health insurance, a finance committee vacancy, and review the ballot questions for the upcoming Special Town Meeting on Saturday, March 1.  They will review several warrant items for the May town meetings including the speed limit on motorized vehicles on the Palmer River, the humane treatment of animals, establishing a Department of Public Works, and improvements to the town offices.

    Prior to the regular public session to begin at 7 PM, the selectmen will meet in executive session to discuss a personnel issue and ongoing litigation, specifically the lawsuit by the Town of Dighton against the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District, and the Town of Rehoboth.


REHOBOTH DEMOCRATS NAME CANDIDATES FOR TOWN ELECTION

(February 17, 2014) Democrats registered to vote in Rehoboth gathered on Saturday at the Goff Memorial Hall for a caucus to elect officers, choose delegates for the state convention, and name candidates for the April 7 town election.

    With eighteen members participating in the caucus, the group elected officers to the Rehoboth Democratic Town Committee. Acting chair Raymond Olivier was selected as permanent chair.  Paul Jacques was chosen to serve as vice-chair, Eileen Farley as secretary, and William Costa as treasurer.  Olivier, Jacques and Farley will all be delegates to the Democratic State Convention to be held on June 13 and 14.

    Two candidates for town election were chosen on Saturday.  They are incumbent town moderator William Cute and Thomas Nicholson for a seat on the water commission. 

   Also attending the proceedings was State Senator James Timilty who represents Rehoboth in his district that includes both Bristol County and Norfolk County.


REHOBOTH REPUBLICAN CAUCUS CHOOSE CANDIDATES FOR APRIL ELECTION

(February 14, 2014) On Wednesday night, registered Republican voters gathered at Palmer RIver Elementary School to hold a caucus and choose candidates for April town election. The names of their candidates were submitted to the Rehoboth Town Clerk yesterday.

    The caucus nominated two candidates for selectmen seats - Michael R. Costello (incumbent candidate for three-year term), and David A. Perry, Jr. (three-year term).

   Incumbents Cheryl A. Gouveia is the Republican candidate for Tax Collector (three-year term); Laura L. Schwall for Town Clerk (one-year term); Tiffany L. Bartholomew for a seat on the Dighton-Rehoboth District School Committee (three-year term); John V. Moriarty for a seat on the Planning Board  (five-year term);  and Walter H. Munroe for a position with the Housing Authority (five-year term).  Munroe and Werner Horlbeck were both nominated for positions as Water Commissioner (three-year term).

    The caucus also selected Charles R. Procopio for a seat on the three-member Board of Assessors (three-year term), and Heather L. Cross for a seat on the school committee (three-year term).

     The Rehoboth Democratic caucus will be held tomorrow to select their candidates. 

     Candidates for town office who do not go through a caucus process take out nomination papers on their own and gather the required number of signatures of registered voters which are then certified through by through the Town Clerk’s Office.

    Candidates that have been certified include: David Laurino for a three-year seat on the board of selectmen and Kathleen Amaral, an incubent running to retain her seat on the Park Commission.

    Deadline to submit nomination papers is Tuesday, February 18 at 5 PM.


DIGHTON MAN ARRESTED FOR DUI FOLLOWING CRASH

(February 13, 2014) Early this morning, Rehoboth police arrested a Dighton man on charges including drunk driving following a single vehicle accident on Hornbine Road near Spring Street.

    Responding to the report of an accident, Officers Jacob Miranda and Sgt. Richard Shailor discovered a small hatchback with heavy front end damage resting on the front yard of a residence.  According to police, the vehicle had struck both a small stone wall and a large tree, narrowly missing a parked vehicle in the driveway.

    The driver, twenty-five-year old John Harris, III of Dighton, said he was driving on Spring Street and did not realize the road ended and ran through a stop sign across both lanes of Hornbine.  

    Showing what officers described as “obvious” signs of impairment, Harris was arrested and changed with operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, a stop sign violation, and marked lanes violation.

    Unable to post bail for personal recognizance, he was transported to the New Bedford House of Corrections until arraignment today in Taunton District Court.


SELECTMEN SCHEDULE MARCH 1 SPECIAL TOWN MEETING

(February 13, 2014) A Special Town Meeting has been scheduled by the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen on Saturday, March 1 at 1 PM in the auditorium of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School to address a $13 million project to repair the roofs of four schools.

    Voters in both Rehoboth and Dighton, at separate meetings, are being asked to approve funding a 48% share of the repair project. The state has already approved reimbursing 52% of the roofs repair project through the Massachusetts School Building Authority.  The schools receiving approval are Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School, Dighton Elementary School and Dighton Middle School. Rehoboth’s Palmer RIver Elementary did not qualify for the MSBA accelerated repair program.

    Residents wishing to vote at the March 1 Special Town Meeting must be registered by Wednesday, February 19.  The Town Clerk’s Office will stay open late that day from 8 AM to 8 PM to register voters. Anyone who will be 18 years of age or over by March 1, 2014 may register.

    Voter registration may also take place during regular office hours at the Town Clerk’s Office, Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM, and Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon. Residents may also register to vote by mail. The proper mail-in voter registration form may be obtained online by calling the Town Clerk’s Office at 508 252-6502, Extension 109 or 110.


SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT JOB DOWN TO THREE FINALISTS

(February 12, 2014) The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee last night released the names of three finalists for the position of permanent regional school superintendent. 

    Dr. Anthony Azar, currently an assistant superintendent in New Bedford, was a finalist in last year’s superintendent search that resulted in a school committee deadlock. Azar, a former Rhode Island State Senator, has experience as a teacher, principal, and administrator. In 2010, he was coordinator of the Success Center at Normandin MIddle School, a spotlight school in New Bedford.

    Kyle Riley, currently the special education director in the D-R district is also a candidate for the position of superintendent.  Prior to coming to Dighton-Rehoboth, Riley was principal of Trinity Day Academy in New Bedford, and assistant principal at Keith Middle School in New Bedford.  Riley has also served on the Fall River School Committee.

    Janice Rotella, currently director of curriculum and instruction for Wareham public schools. Last year, Rotella was co-finalist for the position of Holbrook’s superintendent of schools.

    The D-R school committee will hold final interviews on Saturday, March 8 in the media center at DRRHS beginning at 9 AM.


TOWN RELEASES PROPOSED ZONING BYLAW CHANGES

(February 12, 2014) Yesterday the Town of Rehoboth releases a document outlining proposed changes to the town’s zoning bylaws. Citizens and business owners are invited to learn more about proposed new zoning bylaw at a open public meeting next week on Wednesday, February 19 at the senior center starting at 6:30 PM.

    This is a great opportunity to learn more about the changes that have been proposed by the Zoning Bylaw Review Committee in conjunction with town legal counsel. You can review the proposed zoning bylaws here.

The review committee has not released their findings or proposed suggestions yet, so this is your chance to learn more and provide input.  The review committee is comprised of Selectmen Joe Tito and Mike Costello; Jim Muri of the Rehoboth Planning Board;  John Scanlon and Michael O’Hern of the Rehoboth Zoning Board of Appeals, and Building Inspector and Zoning Officer William McDonough.


REHOBOTH MAN FACES CHARGES, BAIL SET AT $10K

(February 9, 2014) A Rehoboth man was arrested yesterday at his home on Chestnut Street on charges of resisting arrest and illegal possession of a firearm.

    Rehoboth Police were dispatched around noon yesterday to a residence in response to a reported domestic disturbance between a mother and son. An emergency restraining order against the son was granted at the scene by on-call Judge Flynn.

    When Lance R. Oliveira, age 46, refused to speak or come out of his room, officers forced open the door to read the order to Oliveira. According to the police report, Offficer Ryan Brule observed a “silver handgun with a round in the chamber” and placed it on the bed before attempting to handcuff Oliveira who lunged back towards the silver handgun on the bed.  Police report the suspect actively resisted officers and “continued to move towards the bed where the gun was located and he was finally restrained.”  

     Charged with possession of a firearm without a license and resisting arrest, Oliveira was placed under arrest with bail set at $10,040. by Clerk-Magistrate Marc Santos. He was transported to the House of Corrections in New Bedford and will be arraigned on Monday in Taunton District Court.


MATTAPAN MAN ARRESTED IN REHOBOTH FOR DRUNK DRIVING

(February 9, 2014) Rehoboth police yesterday arrested Taylor Timmons of Mattapan, MA on multiple charges included driving under the influence of alcohol.

     Timmons, age 24, was pulled over after being observed by Sgt. Richard W. Shailor driving in an erratic manner, traveling east bound on Route 44 and crossing over center lines. Timmons was arrested for operating under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and a marked lanes violation. He is scheduled for arraignment inTaunton District Court on Monday.


TWO PAWTUCKET MEN ARRESTED ON BREAKING & ENTERING CHARGES

(February 7, 2014) Late yesterday afternoon Rehoboth police responded to a residential security alarm on Rocky Hill Road and quickly apprehended two young men from Pawtucket on multiple charges including resisting arrest.

     Shortly after the first cruiser was dispatched to investigate the alarm, a 911 call came in to report two suspicious males walking on Rocky Hill Road who were jumping behind snow banks to hide from passing vehicles. Based on the description given by the caller, Officer Craig Forget was the first officer on the scene and approached the men, one of which fled on foot.  Officers Brule and DiBacco arrived and tracked the suspect through the woods.

    Twenty-year-old Seny Samb and twenty-year-old  Davhon Shelton, both of Pawtucket, RI were taken into custody and charged with felony breaking and entering and resisting arrest. Samb was released on $1000 bail. Shelton, also charged with disorderly conduct, was held on $5,000 cash bail and was transported to the house of correction in New Bedford. Both men are due for arraignment today in Taunton District Court.  Acting Police Chief Lt. Trombetta, Sgt. Shailor, Sgt. Todd and Officer Perry all  assisted with the capture and investigation.


FINANCE COMMITTEE TO DISCUSS SCHOOL DISTRICT COSTS

(February 7, 2014) The Rehoboth Finance Committee will meet tonight at 7 PM at the Town Office with an agenda that includes discussion of budget issues related to the regional school district.

    Rehoboth, along with the neighboring Dighton, face asking voters in both towns to approve a debt exclusion to fund a 48% share of the $6M roofs repair project. The state has already approved reimbursing 52% of the roofs repair project through the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

    FinCom members will also discuss the school committee’s notification of $1 million calculation error in Chapter 70 assessment for Rehoboth’s portion of the district’s yearly operating budget.

    Also on the agenda for discussion is the school committee’s proposed $6 million capital project to construct an athletic fields complex at the high school.

   Other FinCom agenda items tonight include snow and ice removal invoices, and working on the town’s FY2015 budget in preparation for the annual town meeting in May.


PATIENCE ENDS FOR WIG WAM AUTO’S VIOLATIONS

(February 4, 2014) In a saga that began more than a year ago, Rehoboth selectmen last night did not extend the used vehicle business license of Wig Wam Auto Sales despite a request by owners through their attorney for more time to remedy numerous business license compliance issues along with health and fire safety violations.

     Selectmen Sue Pimental, Lorraine Botts and Skip Vadnais received negative reports on the current status of the combined residential and business property from the town’s health agent, fire chief and building inspector. 

    Health Agent Bob Ashton expressed his frustration with the owners’ unkept promises to clear debris and improve health conditions. A recent visit revealed debris and unlicensed vehicles had just been moved from one area to another rather than removed. Ashton said he found no running water or restroom facilities in a back building rented to tenants.  The only working restroom is located in an A-frame building that was cited as unsafe last summer. 

     “All the buildings and rental places are fire hazards,” reported Fire Chief Robert Pray who recently inspected the property.  According to Pray there are flammable materials everywhere and blocked exits.  As a result, he posted non-entry orders on both buildings prohibiting firefighters from access if there should be a fire.

   Based on documentation and reports provided by the board of health, fire and building inspector, the three selectmen conducting last night’s meeting took no further action on the now expired Wig Wam business license.

    The property owners can no longer legally sell used vehicles, but remain responsible for the fire and safety violations on their property.


GOOD NEWS ANNOUNCED BY TOWN ADMINISTRATOR

(February 4, 2014) Rehoboth Town Administrator Jeff Ritter reported positive progress on several issues at last night’s meeting of the board of selectmen.

     A $2 million plan to improve the busy intersection of Route 44 and Route 118 has passed the first legislative screening and moves to the state senate. The project has been championed by both Representative Steve Howitt and Senator James Timilty.

    Based on the preliminary success of Rehoboth Solar, the privately owned solar energy farm on Tremont Street, the town will be able to issue a larger quarterly tax bill.  The pilot agreement was based on the farm producing 2.4 megawatts of energy and that number has increased to 2.78 megawatts. Ritter said the town initially expected tax payment of $27 thousand per year. With the added energy production, that figure will increase to $29 thousand per year.

    In related solar energy news, Ritter announced there has been good interest in a recently reissued Request for Proposal (RFP) to construct and operate a solar energy farm at the town landfill.

    Soon, another RFP will be re-issued to repurpose the old Anawan School.  Ritter said there will be a March 14 deadline for project applications, allowing time to add a warrant item for the May town meeting. RFP have been issued previously seeking plans to use the school building and property adjacent to the senior center for elder housing. While those attempts were unsuccessful, Ritter expressed hope the re-issued RFP, with a recently completed building inspection report, will attract developers.


SELECTMEN TO REOPEN WIG WAM AUTO SALES LICENSE HEARING

(February 3, 2014) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at the Senior Center with an agenda that includes reopening the public hearing, now into a second year, on Wig Wam Auto Sales’ used-vehicle business license.

    Since December 2012, the BOS and board of health have worked with owners to clean up their property and become compliant with regulations to keep their license. Allowing owners multiple time periods to become compliant, the board eventually suspended the license for thirty days late last summer. Selectmen then reinstated the license in October through the month of November with the understanding the owners would continue cleaning the property of debris. Unsatisfied with progress by November, the board authorized the town health agent to issue a daily fine per unregistered vehicle per town bylaw. Selectmen also voted to allow the license to remain valid through the end of the calendar year, giving owners more time.   

    Other agenda items tonight include the appointment of a new financial advisory committee, and appointments to the town’s existing personnel board.

     There will also be a presentation on the Wheeler Street Bridge reconstruction project, the town legal counsel budget for next fiscal year, and a vote to authorize deficit spending for snow and ice removal. This segment is anticipated to begin around 7:30 PM.  The board will meet earlier in executive session with the regular session to start at 7 PM. 


PUBLIC INVITED TO UPDATE ON WHEELER STREET BRIDGE PROJECT

(February 1, 2014) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen will host an update on the Wheeler Street reconstruction project at their regular Monday night meeting on February 3 at around 7:30 PM at the Senior Center.

     The consulting engineer on the project, James R. Noyes, Vice President and Senior Project Manager with Greenman-Pedersen, Inc., will be present to provide the selectmen and audience with a quarterly update on the project.

     “This is a one million dollar project,” said Town Administrator Jeff Ritter, “and it is critically important to keep the public, the Board, and all users of the Wheeler Street Bridge fully informed as we approach the 25% design phase.”

   According to Ritter, direct property abutters to the bridge have been invited and will be asked to consider granting a temporary construction easement to allow access onto their property if needed during the construction phase of the project.


REHOBOTH POLICE ARREST THREE ON MARIJUANA DRUG CHARGES

(January 29, 2014) Late Monday night, Rehoboth police arrested three young Brockton residents on charges of possessing over one pound of marijuana with intent to distribute.

     Kelby Ramos, age 20, along with eighteen-year-old Manuel Ramos and an unidentified seventeen-year-old juvenile were taken into custody by Officer Craig Forget, assisted by officers Paul McGovern and Thomas Ranley.

    Following a motor vehicle stop for no inspection sticker and darkly tinted windows, Officer Forget detected a “strong odor of both fresh and burnt marijuana” coming from the vehicle pulled over on Route 44 near the Seekonk town line.

   According to the police report, the driver gave permission to search the vehicle.  Forget found a large backpack with a padlock stuffed between the rear seat and a large audio speaker. Massachusetts State Police were called and sent a K-9 to the scene.  Inside the pack were “four large glass jars” containing marijuana, along with a digital scale and a box of clear plastic bags.

    All three suspects were charged with possession of a Class D substance with intent to distribute, along with conspiracy to violate the drug law.  They were help overnight and arraigned yesterday in Taunton District Court.


SELECTMAN SLAM SCHOOL COM REPORT, CONSIDER SPLIT FROM DIGHTON

(January 28, 2014) Rehoboth selectman last night criticized a recent special task force report issued by the Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee claiming the town’s portion of the district’s operating budget was assessed incorrectly resulting in a $1 million calculation error. Public schools are funded by the state through Chapter 70 allocations and an assessment is determined by a school district for each fiscal year.

    Making their discontent abundantly clear, selectman called for a task force of their own to study splitting from Dighton and dissolving the regional school district created in 1961. With the regional high school located in Dighton, de-regionalization would require a high school be constructed in Rehoboth.

     BOS Chair Sue Pimental voiced her dissatisfaction with both the school committee and district administration. “If you remember,” she said referring to prior substantial increases in the assessment from year to year, “we had to eliminate part-time employees, change benefits at the senior center, and a seven percent pay cut to handle the increase (in school budget).”

     Two years ago, selectmen faced another school budget shortfall error of $213,000 to pay tuition and transportation of Rehoboth students to Tri-County Vocational Technical School. “The town of Dighton has since sued the school committee for those monies, and the town of Rehoboth as a third party,” noted Pimental.  “Then we found that special education wasn’t handled correctly to the (financial) detriment of Rehoboth.”

    “Nobody seems to have a clue what they are doing,” she added, referring to elected members of the school committee and district administration. In the last three years, there have been three superintendents, different  business managers and two special education directors.  “Somebody should have a financial background,” complained Pimental.

     Four of the five selectmen voiced their opinion to put their own task force together to study the implications of de-regionalizing the school district and creating a separate, independent Rehoboth school system.

    Selectman Mike Costello noted the last regional contract was done in 1987. He added that Rehoboth pays more than Dighton.  “I don’t think we’re that much wealthier than Dighton,” said Costello.  “They have eight full-time people on their highway department while we have five, they didn’t have the big layoff like we did, they have a beautiful town hall, and they are building a new police department,” he noted.

     According to the MA Dept. of Education, the Chapter 70 formula “calculates local contribution on ability to pay rather than equalizing contributions on a per pupil basis.”  Towns with greater town income and property wealth are required to pay more per student because indications suggest “they can afford to contribute more.” Because of this, several of the state’s regional districts have investigated de-regionalization since the last 1990s and remained regional.

    Selectman Joe Tito wondered about the validity of the numbers used in the task force report.  “We are paying the majority of the school budget because we have more children in the system, but we also pay more for child,” he noted.  “Now we are being asked for pay even more.”

     “Short of restructuring the state’s municipal finance system and giving regional school districts independent taxing authority, a highly unlikely outcome, the issue will be difficult to resolve,” noted a 2009 DOE report on opportunities and obstacles of district consolidation in Massachusetts.

     Town administrator Jeff Ritter called the task force report “misleading” while Selectman Skip Vadnais agreed the town should examine the regional school district contract and look into splitting with Dighton.

   Regional districts serving K thru 12 are considered independent legal entities with statutory governance, rights and obligations for member towns.  District member pay annual assessment to the regional district based on state requirements, the regional agreement and town budget deliberations.   

     Small school systems traditionally regionalize to improve financial stability, address facility needs, better articulate curriculum, allow for competitive salaries, and better draw from a shrinking pool of superintendents and key administrators with higher compensation and benefit packages.  District transportation costs are generally higher than independent school systems. 

    “We don’t owe a million dollars,” said Pimental vehemently.  “We paid what we were required to pay,” she added. “The school committee screwed up.”


MANY EXPECTED TONIGHT AT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

(January 28, 2014) The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee will meet tonight at 7 PM in the auditorium at DRRHS to accommodate an expected large gathering. Dr. Stephen Hemman from the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS) who consulted by the school committee’s Chapter 70 task force will be on hand to present information on the school district’s budget and options for both towns.

    Dr. Hemman’s analysis of the district’s budget errors and his conclusions were verified by independent consultant Mark Abrahams before the school committee issued a task force report two weeks ago.


TAUNTON WOMAN EXTRICATED FROM CAR FOLLOWING ROUTE 6 CRASH

(January 26, 2014)  Shortly after noon yesterday, Rehoboth police, fire and ambulance were dispatched to the scene of a two-vehicle accident at the intersection of Route 6 and Falls Street.  A Taunton woman, trapped for a short time in her car following the crash, was extricated by Rehoboth and Seekonk fire departments.

    The driver of an SUV, 56-year-old Normand Duquette of Rehoboth, was traveling east on Route 6 and turning left into the parking lot of a business when he was hit by a car traveling west. Both vehicles sustained heavy damage.

     While Duquette was uninjured and refused emergency transport, 33-year-old Rebekah Gilbert of Taunton was transported to RI Hospital with non-threatening injuries after she was removed from the car.

     Seekonk police, fire and ambulance provided mutual assistance to Rehoboth public safety personnel.  The crash remains under investigation by RPD.


REHOBOTH FIREFIGHTERS BATTLE HOME FIRE AND FRIGID TEMPS

(January 23, 2014) Rehoboth firefighters were dispatched to a reported fire at a residence on Moulton Street last night around 8:30 PM.  First arriving crews reported heavy smoke and fire in the walls of the two-story home.    

    After exposing the fire, crews had it under control within thirty minutes but remained on scene performing an extensive overhaul to completely extinguish the blaze. The occupants evacuated the home and there were no reports of injuries.

    RFD officials believe the fire appears to be accidental but are still investigating. The temperature was 8℉ at the time of the fire and water used to extinguish the fire froze instantly around the scene. A sander was requested form Rehoboth Highway and responded to the scene.  Rehab was provided by Rehoboth EMS and the Providence Canteen. Station coverage was provided by the Norton and Swansea fire departments under the mutual aid agreement.


DRIVER INJURED AND CHARGED FOLLOWING CRASH AND ROLLOVER

(January 21, 2014) The driver of vehicle that crashed and  rolled over Sunday afternoon on Mason Street was seriously injured and later charged by Rehoboth police for operating under the influence of alcohol.

   After hitting a utility pole, the purple Hyundai driven by 42-year-old Korey Lizine of Brockton flipped over onto the roof.  The sole occupant, Lizine was extracted by mechanical means from the vehicle by Rehoboth Fire Department and transported via ambulance to Rhode Island Hospital.  He was initially listed in critical condition  but upgraded on Monday to serious condition.

    Preliminary investigation by Rehoboth police and a member of the MA State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, showed the vehicle had been travelling north bound on Mason Street at a very high rate of speed before hitting the pole.  Markings left behind on the roadway indicate at one time the vehicle was completely sideways and had crossed over to the opposite lane.    

  Along with the drunk driving charge, Lizine was cited for negligent operation and will be issued a summons to appear in Taunton District Court at at later date.


NEW CARDIAC MONITOR FOR REHOBOTH AMBULANCE

(January 20, 2014)  Following several months of fundraising, the Rehoboth Ambulance Committee has a new cardiac monitor for one of the town’s three ambulances.

    Contributions from residents and businesses, along with a substantial anonymous donation, raised over $31,000 used to purchase a brand new Zoll X Series Cardiac monitor that entered service on January 14. 

   The X Series monitor is a quantum leap forward in technology over the monitor previously in use. Ambulance personnel can now gather a complete picture of the patient, including pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, carbon monoxide in the blood stream, and hospital quality EKGs that can immediately be transmitted directly to the destination hospital. 

     “Having this capability greatly enhances the quality of care provided to the Town of Rehoboth,” said Reuben Fischman, Deputy Chief and Operations Manager.   “We can now not only alert a hospital of a potential heart attack,” he added, “but give them the same picture we see in the ambulance so their staff can be standing by to treat the patient upon our arrival.”

    The Rehoboth Ambulance Committee is continuing its fundraising efforts to purchase two more monitors to replace old ones so that all three paramedic level ambulances have the same technology and capabilities.

    Rehoboth Ambulance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation contracted to provide 911 emergency medical services to The Town of Rehoboth.  The Committee receives no direct funding from the Town, and operating expenses are covered through billing and donations.  All donations are tax deductible.


FALL RIVER MAN ARRESTED FOR DRUNK DRIVING

(January 20, 2014)  Rehoboth Police arrested a Fall River man last week after responding to disturbance call on Chestnut Street in the early morning hours on January 16.

    According to the caller, two men were fighting at a resident but both had left, one in a vehicle and the other on foot.  Officers stopped a vehicle driving erratically on Chestnut near Moulton Street and arrested the driver, Christopher Brooks, age 45 of Fall River on charges of operating under the influence, 4th offense, along with operating to endanger and failure to stop at a stop sign.  Bail was set at $5,040 and Brooks, unable to pay, was held until his arraignment in Taunton District Court later that day.


REPUBLICANS ANNOUNCE INTENT TO RUN FOR BOS SEATS

(January 19, 2014)  The upcoming town election in April  includes two three-year terms on the board of selectmen. Incumbent Selectmen Michael Costello, according to a report in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, will seek nomination from the Rehoboth Republican Town Committee at that party’s caucus scheduled for Wednesday, February 5 at 7:30 PM at Palmer River Elementary School.

    Also seeking nomination from the town Republican committee is conservation committee member Dave Perry who also currently serves as the town’s stormwater officer. Selectman Lorraine Botts, one of two women on the five-member BOS and has decided to not run again.  Before her term as selectman Botts served the town as chairman of the board for the Council on Aging that operates the senior center.


SCHOOL COMMITTEE RELEASES INFORMATION ON COSTLY MISTAKE

(January 16, 2014) The Town of Rehoboth could be responsible for $1.07 million dollars due to an accounting mistake in the formula used to determine operating expenses for the regional school district. 

     The oversight, brought to light at Tuesday night’s D-R Regional School Committee, may seriously affect the school district and certainly the Town of Rehoboth’s budget.

     A press release distributed yesterday from the school committee through the superintendent’s office summarizes how an internal task force investigation revealed discrepancies between Dighton and Rehoboth’s operating assessments for 2014.  The problem affecting both towns involves an error in how the school budget is formulated, a discovery made initially by the district business manager. 

     Dr. Stephen Hemman from the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS) was consulted by the task force to provide an analysis and his conclusions were verified by independent consultant Mark Abrahams. Dr. Hemman will be on hand at the January 28 school committee meeting to present information on the towns‘ options going forward. 

    “We have a regional agreement that has not been reviewed for more than twenty-five years,” stated the press release, “not since 1987.”  The school committee is recommending both towns hold open discussions to review the regional school district agreement.

     “The ramifications of such a swing in assessments,” read the statement issued, “could be very damaging to this school district.    

    Public schools are funded by the state through Chapter 70 allocations and an assessment is determined by a school district for each fiscal year. Ultimately the school committee, with elected representatives from both towns, is responsible for hiring the school superintendent who in turn oversees district employees. 

    In the past two years, the district has witnessed a turn over in both superintendents, business managers and lengthy period without a permanent Special Education Director.

    Past superintendent Dr. Kathleen Montagano announced her resignation in March 2012 shortly after reporting two shortfalls in the district operating budget.  One was the loss of approximately $600K in funding from the Education Jobs Fund grant the district had relied on in past years.  The other shortfall was an unexpected $213,000 to pay tuition and transportation of Rehoboth students to Tri-County Vocational Technical School. As a result, a regional relationship was re-established with Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical School resulting in lower tuition and transportation costs for students who wished to pursue a vo-tech education out-of-district.

    In April 2012, the school committee appointed then assistant superintendent Dr. Jennifer Wordell as interim superintendent effective the next October.  Six months later, in March 2013, Wordell (later Elineema) accepted the position of assistant superintendent for the Winchester School District.

    Meanwhile the D-R School Committee began conducting a search for a new superintendent. Three candidates, including controversial Somerset superintendent Richard Medeiros, were chosen but the committee was deadlocked without a majority vote. Recently candidate Medeiros’ contract with Somerset was not renewed after a nearly twenty-year run as a school principal and later superintendent.

   In July the school committee made a decision to re-advertise the position, this time selecting another interim superintendent. Michael Malone was appointed shortly before this school year began in September.  The school committee then authorized a $15,000 consulting contract with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) for a superintendent search that is currently active. 

    Last month, a nine-member superintendent search committee was announced including Ray Medeiros and Janice Terry of the school committee; teachers Tim Kelly and Kurt Loell; parents Kelly Turner from Rehoboth and Carol Nagel from Dighton; community representatives Linda Ferreira of Rehoboth and Paul Giannakoulis of Dighton; along with Dighton Middle School Principal Richard Wheeler and non-voting member interim superintendent Malone.  Read the school committee’s public statement here.


EASTON MAN ARRESTED IN REHOBOTH FOR EIGHTH OUI

(January 15, 2014) Early this morning, an Easton man was arrested by Rehoboth police on a variety of charges including his eighth operating under the influence.

     Sgt. Richard W. Shailor came upon a vehicle pulled to the side of Route 44 near the intersection of Anawan Street  and discovered David Frates, age 46, behind the wheel with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.  Frates was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol 8th offense, operating after revocation for OUI, and having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Bail was set at $25,000 and Frates was scheduled for arraignment in Taunton District Court today. Assisting Sgt. Shailer were Officer Tim Bartucca and Officer Paul McGovern.


TAUNTON WOMAN CHARGED WITH DRUNK DRIVING IN REHOBOTH

(January 9, 2014)  A Taunton woman was arrested by Rehoboth police on drunk driving and other vehicular charges shortly after midnight today. Following a mobile call made to police reporting an erratic driver, Brenna M. Motta was stopped by Patrolman Paul McGovern on Plain Street and arrested on an operating under the influence of liquor charge along with negligent operation and a marked lanes violation.  Assisting Officer McGovern was Sgt. James Medeiros.  Motta is due to appear in Taunton District Court today.

   

TOWN ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR VETERANS’ OFFICER

(January 8, 2014)  Yesterday the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen posted an open position notice for the town’s Veterans’ Service Office (VSO) with an application deadline of January 23 by 12 noon. Noting the position will remain open until filled, the town seeks “qualified and eligible candidates” who are required to be a military veteran with strong technical and communications skills. Knowledge of Veterans Administration rules and regulations including both federal and state benefits is considered a plus.

    The town’s present part-time VSO, retired Army Colonel William Saunders told selectmen in December of his plan to retire on March 1 after almost ten years of service. He offered to help train his replacement if someone is hired before his retirement date.

    “Bill has served the Town of Rehoboth and its veterans with unparalleled dedication and commitment and he will be sorely missed not only in his capacity at Veterans Service Office, but also his service on the Town’s Information Technology Advisory Committee and the Cemetery Commission,” said Susan Pimental, chair of the board of selectmen. “Town employees, residents and especially Rehoboth veterans are going to miss Bill’s always positive approach toward problem solving and being part of a solution. The Board of Selectmen will miss his guidance and wisdom but also wish him well with his future endeavors,” she added.


REHOBOTH POLICE WARN RESIDENTS OF PHONE SCAM

(January 6, 2014)  The Rehoboth Police Department is warning residents of a possible phone scam involving automated phone calls claiming to be from the Bristol County Savings Bank.

    Callers receive a message saying their credit or debit card had been locked before being instructed how to "unlock" their card by entering their account number. Police report the calls were received during two time periods yesterday, between 4 and 8 PM and 9 and 11 PM. Some victims reported receiving calls during both times and on multiple lines.  The calls received by landline phones show a return number of *25363827.  Those received on cellular lines showed a return number of (877) 277-3125.

   According to local police, both numbers had previously been used in similar scams across the country. “It appears the scammers use the name of a local bank and then use the automated calls to "phish" local numbers for account information,” said Sgt. Richard Shailor.  “Numerous banks have reported similar attempted scams,” noted Shailor in a press release. “We have spoken to representatives of the Bristol County Savings bank who were aware of the scam and have already taken steps to protect their customers and their accounts,” he added.

    Phishing is a practice used by thieves and cyber criminals to trick a victim into revealing personal information, or to send emails, spam, or automated messages with the intent of introducing malware into a computer to harvest information.

   The RPD reminds everyone to be vigilant about protecting your personal information. Do not give out account or personal information over the phone or through e-mails. If you receive a suspicious call or e-mail contact your bank or credit card company and report it. Anyone who feels their account information may have been compromised should contact the bank directly at (866) 784-5515.


NO ACCESS TO TOWN HEALTH INSURANCE RESULTS IN RETIREMENT NOTICE OF LONG TIME TOWN ASSESSOR

(January 3, 2014)  The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen were notified on Monday night by Peter Jacobson, a member of the Board of Assessors for almost three decades, would retire after finishing out his elected term of office on April 6 because the town will not allow him access to town health insurance.

     Two years ago selectmen voted to deny health coverage for any town employee or elected official who work less than 20 hours per week. Jacobson, as an elected official who works less than the minimum requirement, does not meet the eligibility requirement. 

     Jacobson appealed to selectmen on September 16, 2013 citing Chapter 32B that gives elected officials eligibility to access the town health insurance coverage during the period of service.  Selectman Skip Vadnais appealed to his fellow selectmen to reconsider the policy with regard to Jacobson lest the town lose an assessor with thirty-years of experience. The three-person board of assessors meeting twice weekly throughout the year to examine property values and subsequently property taxation.

    Ultimately a motion made by Vadnais to allow a part-time incumbent officer holder to have access to health insurance was defeated three to two. Only Selectmen Mike Costello voted with Vadnais on Jacobson’s behalf.  Selectmen Pimental, Tito and Botts voted nay.

     On Monday night, Jacobson stated his assessor’s salary is $15,000 per year and the cost of purchasing health insurance is between $16,000 and $18,000 per year.

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