(May 20, 2017) Rehoboth public safety personnel including fire, police and EMS were dispatched Friday morning to the scene of a motor vehicle crash between a small SUV and box truck on Route 44 in front of FB Insurance.
According to an official fire department press release, theSUV rolled over and the truck strike pole. The driver of the SUV was briefly trapped, extricated by firefighters and transported by Rehoboth EMS to the hospital with unknown injuries, but expected to recover. The driver of the truck was not injured.
The fuel tank on the truck split and firefighters quickly contained the 60 gallon spill before it impacted the wetlands. Another spill of gasoline, oil and other vehicle fluids about 50 feet long also had to be contained. The fire department requested DEP, Mass DOT and a pollution control company to the scene.
Other agencies that responded included Mass State Police, National Grid and two wreckers. RouteC 44 was closed in both directions while the investigation, vehicle removal and clean up was ongoing for approximately two and a half hours. The accident remains under investigation by Rehoboth PD and MSP. Norton firefighters provided station coverage.
REHOBOTH VOTERS CONCLUDE SPRING TOWN MEETING
(May 16, 2017) Rehoboth residents and town officials last night concluded the annual spring town meeting with 129 in attendance at Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School.
While last week’s special town meeting and a portion of annual town meeting lasted three and a half hours, the conclusion was faster, ending after 90 minutes.
Voters approved two zoning bylaws, one a temporary moratorium on selling legal cannabis, and the other a bylaw on approval construction site plans.
Issues related to routine town business were approved and progress reports were accepted from the Rehoboth Ambulance Committee and the Blanding Public Library. Both organizations noted significant contributions to the town. A report from the Rehoboth Housing Authority was also accepted by voters, although there was little to report.
Voters approved acceptance of a Massachusetts General Law that will remove dog licensing fees for residents over age 70. This policy was already in place in Rehoboth, although the town’s animal advisory committee estimates an approximated $3000 loss of revenue from dog licensing.
Some discussion was held on the article that would accept a Massachusetts General Law to allow selectmen to lower speed limits in “thickly settled” areas. Former Rehoboth town administrator David Marciello argued the statute is unnecessary In Rehoboth where existing bylaws are in place that prohibit “thickly settled” residential areas that could require lower speed limits. Highway Superintendent Mike Costello urged voters to approve allowing selectmen to lower speed limits as a response to resident complaints about speeding.Voters defeated the article.
Voters approved $667,990 for distribution in FY18 by the Rehoboth Community Preservation Committee. A public hearing will be held next week to allow residents to learn more about CPC projects and how to apply for funding. All residents are encouraged to attend this public hearing to be held on Wednesday, May 24 at 7 PM in the town office.
Town Moderator William Cute, upon conclusion of business, made several announcements. The food donation collection by Boy Scout Troop 13 resulted in 101 pounds of non-perishable food and cash donations for Rehoboth Helping Hands Food Pantry. Cute also announced several vacancies on town committees and encouraged residents to apply for appointment by the BOS.
Vacancies include two seats on the Board of Health, two seats on the Personnel Board, a position on the Finance Committee and Agricultural Commission. by filling out a talent bank form via the town website.
BOS RESOLUTION AGAINST PROPOSED GAS COMPRESSOR STATION
(May 12, 2017) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have approved and issued a formal resolution in opposition of the proposed liquid natural gas compressor station to be located in North Rehoboth.
Voters expressed their opposition (2287 to 226) to the proposed gas compression station on a non-binding ballot question at the April 4 town election. With that evidence, selectmen then approved issuing a formal resolution in opposition to the Spectra project, which according to company officials is currently on hold.
The BOS met on April 24 with Chris Gauthier, spokesperson for Concerned Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor (CARCS) when the detailed, four-page resolution was drafted and later approved for release.
Read the complete 4-page resolution on the town website.
COMMUNITY PRESERVATION COMMITTEE TO HOLD PUBLIC HEARING
(May 12, 2017) The Rehoboth Community Preservation Committee (CPC) will hold a public hearing open to all residents on May 24 at 7:30 PM at the town office.
The CPC awards funding to local projects in the following areas: creation and preservation of open space, acquisition and preservation of historic resources, creation and preservation of land for recreational use and for the creation, preservation and support of community housing, and for the rehabilitation or restoration of such open space, historic resources, land for recreational use, and community housing acquired/created for such use.
Input from the community is welcome. Those who are interested in learning about the process for projects funded by CPC are encouraged to attend. Applications for potential projects will be available, and the committee is willing to work with project applicants to bring eligible projects to fruition.
TOWN MEETING RECAP, CONTINUED NEXT WEEK ON MONDAY, MAY 15
(May 9, 2017) Rehoboth resident gathered in the auditorium of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School last night for three and one half hours to conduct town business at a special town meeting followed by annual town meeting which has been continued to next Monday, May 15 at 7 PM at DRRHS.
Voters passed all four articles of the special town meeting with an amendment related to updating the figure for the ice and snow removal deficit. Another change was the description of a capital needs budget to purchase a new F-350 truck for the highway department instead of a F-150.
Following passage of STM articles, the annual report from the Rehoboth Water District was accepted without discussion. Voters then authorized the town to hold a surplus equipment auction.
Discussion was then held on the proposed $9,007,630 FY18 town budget which passed as written. The regional school budget, after some discussion, was amended twice to a final figure of $16,641,216.00 before being passed. Budgets for students who attend either Bristol County Agricultural High School or Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical High School were also passed.
Voters also approved $86K for the school department to purchase and install door security systems at Palmer River Elementary School, D. L. Beckwith Middle School and DRRHS. While this article was recommended to be tabled for defeat by the Rehoboth Finance Committee, it passed as a capital debt exclusion. As a result, residents will have a chance to vote at special town election for a debt exclusion to increase taxes for a period of one year.
Article 7 was also passed by residents to vote on another debt exclusion at special election to fund $3,576,000 to the school department to fund roof and window replacement at both Palmer River and Beckwith schools.
Article 14 on a package of new sign bylaws was taken out of order and tabled for further study.
The remaining articles of the ATM warrant will be addressed next Monday at 7 PM in the DRRHS auditorium. Residents are encourage to attend. (Special contributor Bev Baker)
RESIDENTS ENCOURAGED TO ATTEND TOWN MEETING TONIGHT
(May 8, 2017) Rehoboth residents are encouraged to attend tonight’s town meetings in the auditorium of Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School beginning with a Special Town Meeting (STM) at 7 PM followed by the Annual Town Meeting (ATM) to begin at 7:30 PM.
STM will consist of four warrant articles including current fiscal year budget adjustments of $225,206 for police department wages, a compensation buy-out for the recently retired town health agent, and wages for a parti-time temporary clerk for the board of health.
Other issues to be voted on during the STM include the winter snow and ice removal deficit, an unpaid bill of $99 from the highway department, and the FY17 capital budget of $222,814 for expenses related to the fire department, police department, highway department, tree warden, and computer technology for the town office.
ATM warrant items that residents will vote on include the town’s FY18 operating budget of $9,007,630, and the the D-R regional school district budget of $16.5 million, along with budgets for students who attend Bristol County Agricultural High School ($64,000), and Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical High School ($572,000).
Residents will also be asked to approve $3.5 million roof and window replacement at Palmer River Elementary School and window replacement at D.L. Beckwith Middle School, all subject to a debt exclusion vote at a special town election.
Other town business to be voted on a town meeting include community preservation budget and proposed new zoning bylaws. Those include amending site place approval, a temporary moratorium on the sale of recreational marijuana, and a comprehensive package of bylaws related to any and all signs in Rehoboth.
OVER 500 DOG OWNERS FACE LATE LICENSE FINES
(May 8, 2017) Over 500 local dog owners have been mailed late dog license reminders from the Office of the Rehoboth Town Clerk.
Annual dog licenses for 2017 were due and payable on April 1. Any dog license not paid by May 31 will be assessed a $15 per dog late fee in addition to license fees of $20 for male or female dogs or $10 for female-spayed or male-neutered dogs.
License applications must be accompanied by a current year rabies certificate with a vaccination date covering the current licensing year, and proof of spay or neuter if applying for the $10 licensing fee unless the documentation is already on file at the town office.
Residents may purchase dog licenses at the Town Clerk’s Office at the Rehoboth Town Office on Peck Street, by mail or online. Checks should be made payable to Town of Rehoboth. Dog owners should note the license(s) will not be returned unless a stamped, self-addressed envelope is included with the postage (71¢ for one dog tag, 93¢ for two dog tags and $1.15 for three dog tags).
The hours for town hall are Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM and on Friday from 8 AM to 12 Noon.
If you have questions or unsure about the status of your dog, please contact the Town Clerk’s Office. They will tell you if your documentation is up-to-date. Call 508-252-6502, ext. 3100 or ext. 3109.
MEMORIAL DAY PARADE PLANNING IN FINAL STAGES
(May 8, 2017) Plans are in the final stages for the 2017 Dighton Rehoboth Memorial Day Parade to be held this year in Rehoboth on Monday, May 29. Any locals groups that plan to march in the parade should contact Jake Kramer, Veterans Services Officer immediately so arrangements can be made. Call him at 508-252-4467 or email Veterans@town.rehoboth.ma.us.
The parade will start at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center on Bay State Road around 10:15 AM and march along Bay State Road through the village onto the Rehoboth Veterans Memorial on the Redway Plain.
All divisions in the parade will have a preparation area for embarkation with Boy Scout Troop 13 assisting in the staging of the parade participants. The ceremony at the gazebo will commence around 11:40 AM and end at 12 noon sharp with the lowering and raising of the American flag.
The 2017 parade will be dedicated to Clint Springer II who was killed in Afghanistan. Rehoboth VSO Jake Kramer will speak on behalf of the Springer Family who reside in Rehoboth.
This year the 338th Engineer Horizontal Construction Company out of Attleboro Reserve Center will participate with a show of equipment and we’re hoping the Massachusetts National Guard can send a contingent as well.
REP. STEVEN HOWITT ISSUES STATEMENT ON SENATE RACE
(May 5, 2017) State Representative Steven Howitt (R – Seekonk) who represents the 4th Bristol District including Rehoboth issued a statement on the resignation of Senator Jim Timilty while addressing a possible run for Timilty’s vacant seat in the state senate.
“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support for my candidacy for State Senator,” said Howitt in a press release. “Friend and colleague Senator Jim Timilty has a long record of distinguished service. I wish him every success in his next endeavor as Treasurer of Norfolk County, MA.”
Howitt noted that while reviewing “all the work we have accomplished since I was elected to office” he took a long look ahead and decided “there is still to do.”
He added that “Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than serving these good citizens of Norton, Rehoboth, Seekonk, and Swansea.”
“I thank all those who have offered encouragement to me to run for the Senate seat, yet I will not be a contender for the State Senate position at this time. I remain committed to working my hardest for the people of the 4th Bristol District through my elected position as State Representative, and thank you all for your continued support.”
Howitt expressed his belief that “I have become part of the very fabric of these towns. I plan to continue to keep working on the tasks at hand, returning money to the District, creating jobs and bolstering our economy, encouraging new businesses, improving public safety, and working with Governor Charlie Baker to help make a difference to our communities.”
RESIDENTS REMINDED THAT BURNING SEASON IS OVER
(May 4, 2017) The Rehoboth Fire Department wants to remind all residents that open burning season has ended and violations will be punishable.
According to Massachusetts General Law (Chapter 48, Section 13), outdoor open burning season ran from January 15 to May 1 and is now over. The state has not extended the season beyond May 1. Residents that continue to burn yard debris (brush, trees, pruning) will be in violation.
Residents are reminded that burning leaves, grass, hay, stumps, tires or construction materials are always prohibited. Burning of materials from land clearing operation is also prohibited.
An alternative to open burning of allowed materials is wood chipping or composting tree limbs, brush or forestry debris.
In Rehoboth, open burning violators will be fined $50 for a first offense along with restitution to the RFD for response expenses including sending personnel and apparatus. Please call the fire department at 508-252-3725 if you have questions or concerns.
FINANCIAL SUMMIT INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO RESIDENTS ONLINE
(April 30, 2017) By the number of people who attended the informative “Financial Summit” offered by Rehoboth town officials last week, it seems few taxpayers have little interest in learning about the town budget that provides services to over 12,500 residents.
According to Finance Committee Chairman Michael Deignan, only one non-official attended the info meeting which featured a 45-slide graphic presentation explaining the proposed FY18 budget which will be voted on by resident at town meeting on May 8.
From learning the difference between actions taken at annual town meeting vs special town meeting to scrutinizing next year’s proposed budget, residents may still educate themselves by watching the Financial Summit on RehobothTV.org, or becoming acquainted with the information given via the slide presentation - on the Rehoboth Town website or a condensed version on RehobothNow.
REHOBOTH OFFICIALS PREPARE FOR SPRING TOWN MEETING; RESIDENTS EXPRESS CONFUSION ABOUT TOWN MEETING WARRANT
(April 30, 2017) Next week on May 8, Rehoboth residents will attend the spring Annual Town Meeting, which also includes a Special Town Meeting, to decide next year’s budget as well as other important town issues.
When the town meeting warrant arrived in mailboxes a week ago, some residents took to social media to complain and express confusion about wording on the warrant related to town building repairs and the proposed municipal complex was confusing.
While some suggested errors were made while rushing the warrant to print, others proposed officials were intentionally trying to deceive voters into funding a new municipal complex.
Selectmen addressed this at their regular BOS meeting last Monday night and admitted the warrant was rushed to print. Questions about warrant articles will be addressed both before and during town meeting. Issues on the warrant and town meeting will be addressed by selectmen, the town clerk and town moderator at the BOS meeting to be held on Monday, May 1 at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center beginning in regular session at 7 PM.
In April, residents voted against a ballot question to allow a temporary debt exclusion of Proposition 2 1/2 for the purposes of funding a new municipal complex to house the town office, police, fire and EMS departments.
A day after the election, the Rehoboth selectmen voted to take immediate action to remove town employees from the unsafe, unhealthy buildings. They announced they would begin investigating the costs of relocating personnel and town services to rented trailer offices. Funding for the relocation must come from the town’s operating budget. Actual relocation is not expected to occur until the autumn.
The following week, selectmen announced residents would be given a second chance to vote on the debt exclusion as early as the May 8 town meeting. A warrant article, if approved by voters, would allow the town to hold special election to a second go at the debt exclusion.
At the same time, selectmen announced that a political action committee, independent of town government, was forming to address the town’s major problem of deteriorating old municipal buildings, a list that also includes Palmer River Elementary School.
On April 18, the BOS then reversed their decision and announced they plan to hire an engineer to study both the town office building built in 1956 and the circa 1970 public safety building that currently houses the police department, fire department headquarters and EMS services.
Selectmen acknowledged that “many variables” are involved and must be studied before asking citizens to vote on any plan. By that point, officials were rushing to get the town meeting warrant to the printer so it could be delivered by regular mail within the state-mandated time limit.
RESIDENTS ENCOURAGED TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE TOWN BUDGET BEFORE VOTING AT THE MAY 8 TOWN MEETING
(April 26, 2017) Rehoboth residents will have an opportunity to learn more about the town’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget on Thursday, April 27 at 7 PM in the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.
An overview of the budget will be presented by the Rehoboth Finance Committee. Members of the committee will be available to answer questions about the FY18 budget, the town’s capital improvement plan, and each article of the town meeting warrant.
The town meeting warrant arrived by regular mail to all residents last week. The financial summit meeting for the public will be taped and broadcast on Government Channel 9, and also be available on RehobothTV.org. All residents are invited to pay attention to learn the facts about the town budget, town meeting, and other important information about how municipal government.
REPRESENTATIVE STEVEN HOWITT SUPPORTS RAISING CAP ON STATE’S CONSERVATION LAND TAX CREDIT
(April 26, 2017) State Representative Steven Howitt, R-Seekonk who represents Rehoboth, joined with his House colleagues this week to support a Republican-sponsored proposal to raise the annual cap on the Conservation Land Tax Credit from $2 million to $5 million.
The proposal, offered as an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2018 state budget, would phase in the cap increase over a three-year period, beginning on January 1, 2018. The amendment was approved by the House on a voice vote on April 24.
“I’m proud to support the expansion of this important program, which has successfully leveraged tax credits to promote conservation efforts throughout the Commonwealth,” said Representative Howitt. “By raising the cap, we can do even more to safeguard the Commonwealth’s natural resources for future generations.”
Administered through the Executive Office of Energy & Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), the tax credit is offered to property owners who agree to donate certified land to public or private conservation agencies. The tax credit is equal to 50 percent of the fair market value of the donated property, with a maximum credit of $75,000 for each qualified donation.
Examples of land that meets the program’s certification requirements include wildlife habitats, farmland, and land with scenic and cultural values. Between 2011 and 2016, the program awarded $10.7 million in tax credits to permanently protect 10,435 acres of donated conservation land valued at $46.3 million.
The tax credit is currently capped at $2 million annually, but under the amendment the cap would rise to $3 million on January 1, 2018 before increasing to $4 million on January 1, 2019 and then to $5 million on January 1, 2020. These increases would sunset on December 31, 2025 so the legislature can re-evaluate the program and make any necessary adjustments.
The Senate is expected to release and debate its own version of the budget in May. A six-member conference committee will then work to resolve the differences between the two branches’ spending proposals and produce a final budget to be sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature.
REHOBOTH TEEN RELAUNCHES PROJECT: PINK TO COLLECT DONATIONS
(April 26, 2017) Local teen Abby Abrahamson has relaunched a community campaign called Project: Pink to collect menstrual hygiene products to donate to Rehoboth Helping Hands Food Pantry with convenient drop-off locations at local businesses.
Abrahamson conducted a Project: Pink drive last fall and was able to donate a supply of hygiene products to help local women in need served by Helping Hands.
Lack of access to proper menstrual hygiene products can lead to unsanitary conditions, infection, and a loss of confidence and self-esteem in women. These are problems that people face all around the world including Rehoboth.
On average, a box of sanitary pads or tampons costs six dollars. If a family consists of three menstruating women that each use one box of tampons a month, the yearly cost of menstrual hygiene products adds up to $216. This is a costly expenditure, and many people and families of little or no income cannot afford needed menstrual hygiene products.
“We are seeking items such as sanitary pads, tampons, and underwear. Your donations are greatly appreciated!” said Abby. To help spread the word about Project: Pink, supporters are asked to post a picture of their donation using the social media hashtag #projectpinkrehoboth when making a donation.
There are donation boxes at several local businesses: Erin’s Chop Shop, Anjulans’ Florist & Gardens, Shanti Yoga & Fitness, Anawan Cleaners, Anawan Pharmacy, Blanding Library, Personal Best Physical Therapy.
SELECTMEN RECONSIDER SECOND CHANCE VOTE ON MUNICIPAL COMPLEX
(April 20, 2017) A week after Rehoboth selectmen announced giving residents a second chance to vote on the issue of the proposed municipal complex at the upcoming May town meeting, they reversed their decision.
Last week, selectmen said that revisiting the proposed municipal complex at town meeting would give voters another chance to pass a temporary debt exclusion to fund construction of the $9.3 million complex.
They emphasized that passing the exclusion may save the town from “devastating budget and service cuts” in the coming years, or from a permanent tax override to cover the costs of either restoring or replacing old town buildings. These include the town office, public safety building, and eventually replacing Palmer River Elementary School.
At Tuesday night’s regular BOS meeting, selectmen withdrew their decision to put a question on the town meeting warrant that would have called for a special election this summer on the temporary debt exclusion.
Selectmen now say they want to hire an engineer to study both the town office building built in 1956 and the over 50-year-old public safety building that currently houses the police department, fire department headquarters and EMS services.
The BOS acknowledged that “many variables” are involved and must be studied before asking citizens to vote on any plan.
Earlier this month, following the debt exclusion defeat at town election, selectmen made a decision to immediately pursue relocating town employees from unsafe buildings. The process of moving employees and materials would take several months to complete and the comprehensive costs are unknown as this time.
Officials say the money to relocate town office employees must come from the town’s operating budget. Relocation and temporary housing would be required under any circumstances.
Selectmen plan to determine the scope of restoration efforts to make both the town office and public safety building safe for town employees and compliant with regulations for police, fire and EMS buildings.
Even with mold and asbestos removal, new roofs and ceilings, ventilation, windows, and temperature control and other major exterior and interior repairs, the buildings will remain overcrowded with inadequate space for personnel and materials needed to operate town government and public safety.
REHOBOTH FIRE DEPT. RESPONDS TO WEEKEND BRUSH FIRES
(April 17, 2017) Rehoboth firefighters responded to a three brush fires over the weekend and also assisted the Dighton Fire Department with a fire.
On Saturday, three fire apparatus were dispatched to a brush fire on Broad Street in the area of Salisbury Street. Using Brush 1 and Brush, 2 along with a water tanker, the fire on Broad Street was contained. Firefighters were grateful to resident Ann Salisbury for dropping off a cooler of drinking water, and to neighbors for lending assistance.
The second brush fire was on Tremont Street in the area of the cranberry bogs. Brush 2, Breaker 2 and Tanker 2 responded to the fire of approximately one acre in a heavily wooded area. The fire was brought under control after about one hour.
A third fire occurred on Pine Street, burning about 2 acres of land. All three Brush trucks were dispatched along with water Tanker 2. While fighting that fire, a request for assistance came from the Dighton Fire Department to help with a fire in their town.
RFD officials remind residents that it’s brush fire season once again. They urge caution and common sense, particularly when doing open burning by permit. Residents have until May 1 to do any open burning. Permits are available at RFD headquarters at the public safety building on Anawan Street (back entrance). Residents who burn without permission or contacting the fire department on the day they intend to burn, are subject to fines.
Rehoboth residents are also reminded to call 911 immediately if you see smoke in the woods or in open fields, or when open burning begins to get out of control.
REHOBOTH POLICE ARREST ATTLEBORO MAN FOR DRUNK DRIVING
(April 15, 2017) Rehoboth police yesterday arrested an Attleboro man on several vehicular charges including driving under the influence.
A concerned citizen made a 911 call to report an erratic driver, saying they had witnessed a box truck weaving across marked lanes on Wilmarth Bridge Road, Broad Street and Pine Street.
According to information released by police, officers hurried to the area where the box truck had been seen and stopped the vehicle. Armando Cabral, age 63, was placed under arrest and charged with drunk driving, negligent operation and a marked lanes violation. Arresting officer Patrolman Louis DiBacco was assisted by Patrolman Thomas Ranley and Sgt. Richard Shailor.
Cabral was processed at the police station and later released after making bail. He is set to be arraigned on the changes on Tuesday in Taunton District Court.
VOTERS TO GET A SCOND CHANCE TO VOTE ON MUNICIPAL COMPLEX
(April 13, 2017) Rehoboth residents will have another chance to vote on the proposed municipal complex at the Special Town Meeting/Annual Town Meeting on May 8 at 7 PM in the DRRHS auditorium
The Rehoboth Board of Selectman, at their regular meeting on May 10, voted to put an article on the town meeting warrant. The exact wording of the warrant item was not revealed, but it is likely to be similar to one used earlier this year.
On January 23, voters at special town meeting approved a warrant article to “appropriate by borrowing, the sum of $9,300,000 for the purpose of constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a Municipal Government Complex” on property already owned by the Town of Rehoboth.
With a majority of voters approving this measure, selectmen then put the issue on the spring town election ballot. It was defeated on April 3 by a margin of 120 votes (1317 no votes, 1197 yes votes). If voters at the May 8 town meeting approve a do over, a special election must be held this summer to allow voters a second chance at approving a temporary debt exclusion.
Following the election, selectmen voted to immediately begin a process to relocate town employees from unsafe buildings including the town office and public safety building. While the process would take several months, selectmen began looking into alternative accommodations for town employees.
Renting trailers for town employees to work would be open-ended until such time as voters approve a debt exclusion to construct new buildings. Residents have repeatedly voted against a temporary tax increase to deal with the problem of decrepit buildings that house the town offices, police, fire and EMS.
Selectmen were quick to warn the town’s already conservative budget would be hard hit and draconian measures, such as across the board budget cuts, would be forced. Without the added tax dollars to fix the town’s deterioration, a permanent override of the tax-limiting Proposition 2 1/2 override may be the only solution.
Revisiting the proposed municipal complex and the temporary debt exclusion again to give voters another chance to pass it may save the town from “devastating budget and service cuts” in the coming years, or from a permanent tax override.
OFFICIALS OFFER SPECIAL “FINANCIAL SUMMIT” BEFORE TOWN MEETING
(April 13, 2017) Rehoboth residents will have an opportunity to learn more about the town’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget on Thursday, April 27 at 7 PM in the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.
An overview of the budget will be presented by the Rehoboth Finance Committee. Members of the committee will be available to answer questions about the FY18 budget, the town’s capital improvement plan, and each article of the town meeting warrant.
According to FinCom chairman Michael Deignan, FY18 budget to be presented at town meeting is now balanced, after initially facing an almost $900K deficit. He told selectmen this week that presenting a balanced budget to townspeople for approval includes using a projected $354K from free cash and eliminating the addition of four new officers to the police department.
FinCom has also requested the FY18 school budget for Rehoboth to be reduced by $310K less than the school committee approved. The Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District has requested a $700K increase over their FY17 budget assessment for Rehoboth.
The town meeting warrant is scheduled to arrive by regular mail to all residents by Monday, April 24. The warrant will also be available on the town website. The financial summit meeting for the public will be taped and broadcast on Government Channel 9, and also be available on RehobothTV.org. All residents are invited to pay attention to learn the facts about the town budget, town meeting, and other important information about how municipal government.
MUNICIPAL COMPLEX PAC BEGINS TO ORGANIZE
(April 13, 2017) A political action committee (PAC) is being formed by local citizens to address the proposed municipal complex for the Town of Rehoboth.
The defeat of the ballot question to approve a temporary debt exclusion to fund the complex combined with subsequent public opinion on social media has led to the establishment of the PAC.
Once a town puts a question on an election ballot, officials are allowed to release the facts, but are forbidden from asking residents to vote in a certain manner. However, a PAC can be established by citizens to offer information, put up signs or mail flyers.
Following the election, a flurry of public opinion appeared on Facebook. Many expressed confusion about the ballot question defeated on April 3. Others said they were confused about a debt exclusion compared to a tax override.
The municipal complex PAC would be a mechanism for increasing public awareness. Much like the Citizens Against the Compressor Station group, a PAC would conduct meetings, create a platform, and be allowed to raise funds to use for signs, mailers, etc.
Those interested in joining the new Rehoboth Municipal Complex PAC should contact George Solas at email@example.com. Solas is a member of the Rehoboth Finance Committee.
POLICE ARREST WARWICK MAN ON MULTIPLE CHARGES
(April 10, 2017) Rehoboth police arrested a Warwick, RI man on Sunday on multiple charges after being stopped for driving at excessive speed on Tremont Street.
Kevin Gonzales, age 36, at first attempted to hide his identify from Officer Craig Forget by giving a false name. With the assistance of Officer Jasson Ferreira, a prompt investigation revealed Gonzales had three outstanding default warrants for his arrest. One was from an incident in Rehoboth that occurred in 2016 when Gonzales led local police on a high speed pursuit before being apprehended by Rhode Island State Police.
Gonzales was charged with operating after revocation subsequent offense, giving a false name to a police officer, and speeding. He was held on $4,000 cash bail before scheduled arraignment in Taunton District Court today.
(April 10, 2017) Drivers were injured in two separate rollover accidents in Rehoboth and transported to hospitals with what were described as non-life threatening injuries.
The first crash happened on Friday morning on Carpenter Street and the second occurred on Saturday morning on Anawan Street. The drivers were not identified by Rehoboth emergency personnel.
Rehoboth EMS transported both drivers to hospitals. The Saturday morning accident on Anawan Street required firefighters to deal with punctured fuel tank and the clean up of a large debris field. Rehoboth police are investigating the cause of both accidents.
COMMITTEE TO FORM FOR TOWN’S 375TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
(April 7, 2017) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have announced the formation of a committee to plan for the town’s 375th anniversary in 2018.
Selectmen made the decision to form a committee at their regular meeting held earlier this week. The town’s 350th anniversary was celebrated in 1993 with events and activities held throughout that year.
BOS chairman Skip Vadnais remarked that the town’s 350th took a year of advance planning and a committee should be formed soon. Various town committees and local organizations will be contacted and invited to send representatives to join the 375th Committee. Members will be appointed by selectmen.
The town’s 350th anniversary highlights included the raising of the Otis Dyer Barn at the Carpenter Museum by the Rehoboth Antiquarian Society, a kick-off event, a final parade, a formal ball, and many other activities and special events.
The Rehoboth Minute Company, aka the Rehoboth Minutemen, was formed for the town’s 350th anniversary. members of the historic re-enactment group made appearances throughout the year to “Take Back Rehoboth” from the towns and cities in MA and RI that were once part of the much larger original Rehoboth.
Anyone who is interested in joining the committee should contact Town Administrator Helen Dennen at 508-252-3758, ext. 3104.
SELECTMEN REORGANIZE FOLLOWING SPRING ELECTION
(April 6, 2017) Each year following spring election, the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen reorganizes and votes on leadership positions.
On Tuesday night, after welcoming newly elected Selectman Jim Muri, the five-member board voted for Skip Vadnais to serve as chairman for the second consecutive year. Gerry Schwall was again named vice-chair and Sue Pimental continues her duties as clerk. David Perry began his second term on the BOS.
The BOS also voted to appoint Dr. Sarah Arrigo, DVM, to the town’s Animal Advisory Committee. They also appointed new member Lisa Milich to the Rehoboth Cultural Council.
REHOBOTH TOWN EMPLOYEES TO BE MOVED TO TEMPORARY OFFICES
(April 5, 2017) Rehoboth selectman, at last night’s regular meeting, made a decision to immediately pursue relocating town employees from unsafe buildings including the town office and public safety building.
Rehoboth residents, at Monday's spring election, voted against a debt exclusion to fund a proposed $9.3 million new municipal complex. This was the third time voters nixed a temporary tax increase to replace the decrepit buildings that house municipal government.
This drastic measure is labeled a short term solution to ensure the wellbeing of town employees. "Time is of the essence," said Selectman Gerry Schwall. He noted that some town employees already suffer from health problems resulting from working in "sick" unsafe buildings.
Town officials will spend the next week investigating alternative working space including the cost of renting trailers for offices, and possible locations on town owned property. It is unknown how many trailers or temporary accommodations will be required to house town government functions. Possible locations may include town property on Peck Street near the existing town office, on Anawan Street near the public safety building and on Bay State Road near the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center.
The BOS took a first step last night by voting to approve moving town-related services, located in an annex building off Anawan Street, to the town office property on Peck Street. The town-owned building currently houses the building department and Rehoboth TV, local cable access. BOS Chairman Skip Vadnais said the move must begin next week.
Selectmen anticipate "draconian" measures must be taken to deal with the problem of two unsafe buildings. The money to pay for relocating employees and renting trailers must come out of the town's already conservative operating budget. Selectmen warned that across the board budget cuts may be forced for FY2018. The town may be forced to consider a Proposition 2 1/2 tax override that will increase taxes permanently.
30% OF REGISTERED VOTERS TURN OUT FOR SPRING TOWN ELECTION
(April 4, 2017) While voter turnout was better than recent years when most races were uncontested, only 29% or 2555 showed up to the polls and voted on important town issues. An tally of votes was released by the Town Clerk’s Office this afternoon on the two ballot questions and winners for elected positions in town government.
Ballot question 1 on the proposed municipal complex lost by 120 votes. Residents once again postponed an inevitable temporary tax increase to address the problem of a decrepit town office and public safety building. While 1197 voters to approve a debt exclusion in order to construct a one-stop municipal complex, 1317 votes against. If passed, taxes would have been raised for a designated period of time to pay for the new complex. The yearly tax increase of $125 to $150 had been estimated for an average assessment of a single family dwelling in Rehoboth.
The debt exclusion ballot question itself may have confused some voters as the language used specific wording required by the state. Selectmen and other officials warned voters the wording of the question could cause confusion and made repeated attempts to educate residents prior to the election.
Even if the debt exclusion had passed and plans proceeded immediately to construct a new municipal complex, officials said completion would be three years out.
The town now faces the imminent problem of buildings that have been deemed unsafe and unhealthy for town employees. If existing buildings are condemned, the town will be forced into immediate solutions at tremendous expense. Temporary repairs will be unavoidable and affect the overall town budget. Additionally officials have warned of other significant costs including paying fines for non-compliant buildings and potential litigation fees for injuries or health-related problems.
The non-binding ballot question to vote against the proposed natural gas compressor station to be constructed in North Rehoboth resulted in 2287 no votes with 226 residents who voted yes. The results of this ballot question, while powerless to stop construction, helped to determine public opinion which can be shared with state and federal authorities.
In local races, the winners in yesterday’s election were: William Cute as town moderator; David Perry and James Muri as selectmen; Cheryl Gourveia as tax collector; Chuck Procopio as assessor; Anthony Arrigo and Richard Barrett on the regional school committee; Christopher Cooper and Mike Costello on the planning board, Lynore McKim as park commissioner, and Kathy Conti and Trish Vadnais as water commissioners. A write-in campaign for a five-year seat on the planning board was awarded to Michael Costa.
Full “unofficial” election results can be found HERE.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE APRIL 3 TOWN ELECTION
(April 2, 2017) Voters in Rehoboth will choose elected officials and vote on two ballot questions tomorrow when they go to the polls from 7 AM to 8 PM at all three precincts in town.
Registered voters should cast their ballots at their assigned precincts: Precinct 1 is the Town Office on Peck Street, Precinct 2 is the Gladys L. Hurrell Rehoboth Senior Center on Bay State Road, and Precinct 3 is the South Rehoboth Fire Station on Pleasant Street.
Positions to be elected include: Town Moderator (one for 1 year), Selectmen (two for 3 years), Tax Collector (one for three years), Assessor (one for 3 years), School Committee (two for 3 years), Planning Board (two for 5 years and one for one year), Park Commission (one for 5 years) and Water Commissioner (two for 3 years).
Voters will be asked two ballot questions. The first relates to funding construction of a new municipal complex to house the town offices, police department, fire department headquarters and Fire Station 1, as well as EMS services and REMA, local emergency management.
Ballot Question 1 reads: “Shall the Town of Rehoboth be allowed to exempt from the provisions of Proposition Two and One-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bond issued in order to pay costs of constructing, originally equipping and furnishing a Municipal Government Complex Facility, which is proposed to house the Town Offices, Police Department, Fire Department, REMA and Ambulance, on Town owned land at the current site of the Public Safety Facility (334 Anawan Street), including all costs incidental and related thereto?”
Ballot Question 2 is non-binding which means it gauges voter opinion, but will not result in any formal action. Voters will be asked if you approve or disapprove the proposed construction of a natural liquid gas compress station in North Rehoboth. The result of this non-binding question carries weight in that officials can prove that residents are either for or against the proposed compressor station.
The question reads: “Do you approve of the gas compressor station proposed to be built in Rehoboth by Spectra Energy Algonquin Pipeline Transmission, LLC?
All registered voters are greatly encouraged to exercise your right to vote on elected officials and important issues affecting the Town of Rehoboth.
REHOBOTH DEMOCATIC TOWN COMMITTEE ENDOSEMENTS
(March 28, 2017) The Rehoboth Democratic Town Committee (RDTC) announced its formal endorsements before spring town election on Monday, April 3.
“We stand together with fellow Rehoboth residents in opposition to the proposed natural gas compressor station in Rehoboth,” read the announcement. “Thank you to the Citizens Against the Rehoboth Compressor Station (CARCS) for standing up and making the public aware of the negative impact this will have on our town.”
RDTC urges residents to vote NO on the non-binding ballot question related to the proposed gas compressor station.
Members of RDTC also endorsed Democratic candidate Anthony Arrigo who is running for a seat on the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee. Vetted in February by RDTC members, Arrigo was “found to be honest, pragmatic, and possess hopeful insight into our community.”
Rehoboth resident Paul Jacques, RDTC chairman said, ”Mr. Arrigo’s willingness to examine the issues and listen closely to the public’s questions and concerns is just one of the many characteristics that will serve well on the DR School Committee.” He urges Rehoboth voters to visit Arrigo’s website at Arrigo4drsc.com to learn more about his candidacy.
RDTC urges residents to vote in the town election on this upcoming Monday. All three precincts will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM.
SELECTMEN WILL ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT MUNICPAL COMPLEX BALLOT QUESTION AT BOS MEETING
(March 27, 2017) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen have offered to take questions tonight during open public forum about the proposed new municipal complex and the ballot question related to funding the project.
In order to proceed with building a new complex to house the town office, police, fire, EMS and REMA, voters must approve a question that will allow the town a debt exclusion under the tax-limiting Proposition 2 1/2. The town will then be able to borrow money for the $9.3 million complex to replace the existing the old town office and public safety buildings.
If passed, tax payers will see an increase in their tax bill for the period of any loans taken. Officials estimate the average tax increase will be $125 to $200 per year based on the average Rehoboth home assessment.
The town’s last debt exclusion vote, to construct the Glady L. Hurrell Senior Center, was twenty years ago. As a result, taxpayers will see a small reduction in their next tax bill. The senior center has proven tan asset to the entire community, serving local elders as well as offering a meeting space, community garden and outdoor leisure and walking areas.
Citizens are encouraged to attend tonight’s BOS meeting at 7 PM at the senior center. Comcast subscribers can watch Rehoboth TV Channel 9 for a live broadcast or go online to RehobothTV.org.
CANDIDATE FOR SELECTMAN WITHDRAWS FROM RACE
(March 23, 2017) With the April 3 town election just ten days away, one of the four candidates running for the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen has withdrawn from the race.
Citing personal reasons for withdrawing, Craig Chapman’s name will remain on the already printed ballots. According to an article published in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle, Chapman “requests that residents don’t vote for him.” Chapman is a North Attleboro police officer.
Three candidates remain in the race for two selectmen’s seats including incumbent David Perry seeking his second three-year term on the BOS. One seat has been vacant since longtime selectmen Michael Costello resigned shortly after last year’s spring election. Costello said his work obligations out of town was the reason for his surprise resignation. Last fall, the BOS hired Costello for the full-time position of Highway Superintendent.
The two remaining candidates are James Muri, who has served on the town’s planning board for many years, and Antonio Oliveira, a local businessman.
The spring town election will be conducted in all three precincts on Monday, April 3 form 7 AM to 8 PM. Precinct 1 polling will be held at the Rehoboth Town Office on Peck Street, Precinct 2 polling will take place at the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center (closed for regular activities) and polling for Precinct 3 will be at the South Fire Station on Pleasant Street.
REHOBOTH POLICE REQUEST INCREASED FY18 BUDGET
(March 23, 2017) The Rehoboth Board of Selectmen, at their regular meeting on Monday night, reviewed the proposed police department budget for FY18 with increases for wages, retention incentives, and projected costs to bring the department into compliance.
Police Chief James Trombetta and selectmen discussed the budget increases in general terms, but did not reveal exact figures which will appear on the warrant for the May 8 town meeting.
Selectman Sue Pimental, who serves as liaison to the police department explained that new police union contracts require the town to adjust wages. She noted that new police department wages will also reflect multiple categories that increase base pay, such as having college degrees.
Trombetta requested hiring four additional patrolman in FY18 who will all start at a higher base pay with raises per union contract, along with incentive bonuses to help with retention.
The police department’s proposed budget incorporates findings from a liability and risk assessment from the town’s insurance company conducted last December. Trombetta said that all police department procedures and policies were reviewed, and the insurance company determined the department is understaffed for the number of residents.
Rehoboth’s population, according to the latest census information, has reached 12,500 people. The insurance company suggests the department have two officers per 1000 residents. The RPD website currently lists a total of 33 personnel including the police chief, 2 lieutenants, 4 sergeants, 2 detectives, 15 patrol officers, 3 reserve officers, 5 dispatchers and the office administrator.
Trombetta also requested an increase in the budget for training and equipment. He requested that next year’s budget include enhanced firearm training to include low light, night fire training. His plan is to utilize an indoor firing range trailer that can be rented for training sessions.
Officers must undergo yearly state qualifying exams. The rented practice facility will make it more convenient for officers instead of traveling to firing ranges. Next year’s budget also includes more money for new guns and to replace holsters.
Bringing the department into compliance with existing regulations, and Department of Justice recommendations are other issues that require an increased budget. Trombetta said the town has “huge exposure” because the building is currently not in compliance with holding cell regulations.
When a police department are not in compliance, towns face possible litigation by town employees who could sue because the department has not followed risk and liability recommendations.
Another issue involves court appearances by police department personnel. In proceedings, expert witnesses can attest to non-compliance issues which may affect the outcome of a trial, or open up possible litigation for the town.
The increases in police department budget will appear on the printed town meeting warrant which is mailed to residents for review. The town’s finance committee’s recommendations will be included on each warrant article. Voters at town meeting will then vote for the complete FY18 budget on Monday, May 8 at 7 PM in the DRRHS auditorium.
REHOBOTH FIRE DEPARTMENT PROVIDES MUTUAL AID IN SWANSEA
(March 21, 2017) Rehoboth firefighters, under a mutual aid agreement, were called to nearby Swansea to provide assistance at a fire that completely destroyed a two-story home.
High winds contributed heavily to the intense fire that fully involved the home within minutes. Rehoboth was one of eight other communities that sent apparatus to the scene or for station coverage in Swansea. RFD sent both a fire engine and a tanker to the scene.
According to media reports, the $585,000 home on Warren Avenue was destroyed in thirty minutes while fire spread to a dry field behind the dwelling. The fire remained under investigation. (submitted photo)
SELECTMEN REVERSE APPROVAL FOR NEW MEMORIAL DAY PARADE ROUTE
(March 21, 2017) Rehoboth selectmen have reversed their decision, voted on last November, to allow a change of route for the Rehoboth Dighton Memorial Day Parade.
The route change was initially proposed by Veterans Services Agent Jake Kramer who is responsible for coordinating the annual combined town parade on alternating years when it occurs in Rehoboth. He proposed reversing the current route that begins at he Glady L. Hurrell Senior Center and ends at the Redway Plain.
He appealed to selectmen to have the parade begin with a ceremony at the veterans memorial gazebo instead of concluding there with a ceremony that few people stay to attend once the parade is over.
Typically parade viewers depart immediately rather than remain for ceremonies to honor veterans who perished during times of conflict and war, dating back to the town’s earliest days. According to Kramer, people seem to have forgotten or don’t know the true meaning of the national holiday. His plans for the 2017 parade included a display of military vehicles and equipment on the grounds of the Redway Plain, as an educational tool particularly for young people.
Selectmen Dave Perry, in a letter to Kramer dated March 20, thanked the town’s veterans agent for this enthusiasm and dedication, but said selectmen have received “a lot of negative feedback” against the reversed parade route change. Perry made an announcement at last night’s BOS meeting.
This year’s parade on Monday, May 29 will now commence at the senior center with a route down Bay State Road to the Redway Plain where hopefully people will stay for the Memorial Day ceremony to pay tribute to Rehoboth’s fallen veterans.
Groups that are interested in participating should contact Jake Kramer at 508-252-4467 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ROOF LEAKS AFFECT PUBLIC SAFETY PERSONNEL AND EMS SERVICES
March 21, 2017) Following last week’s snow and rain, significant leaks in the roof of Rehoboth Public Safety Building (police, fire, ambulance) impacted working conditions for town employees and the ability to provide emergency medical services.
Town Administrator Helen Dennen reported to selectmen last night that a major leak in the building’s roof, over the ambulance area, resulted in water pouring down overnight into three EMS supply closets. The closet doors utilize electronic magnetic door locks for safety purposes, and the water shorted the locks making the doors impossible to open. As a result, EMS personnel were unable to get to supplies they needed to respond to a 911 call to help a resident in cardiac arrest.
“This could have been a catastrophic event,” said Selectmen Gerry Schwall. Fortunately, emergency medical personnel were able to utilize equipment and supplies inside the ambulance for the 911 cardiac call.
Schwall emphasized that continued roof leaks, falling interior ceilings, and water damage will only get worse. “We could have lost fire engines and ambulances,” said Schwall. “Why?”
“Because our buildings are dumps,” said Selectmen Sue Pimental. “How much will it be to replace the supplies?”
Lives were also at risk because town fire department personnel went up on the building roof to remove blocks of ice and snow as a means to prevent more water from pouring in. Some areas of the police department were also flooded requiring the town to hire a water damage restoration service to save carpeting.
Selectman Perry emphasized that lack of maintenance is not the problem. “These buildings have far outlived their usefulness.”
But repairs will continue even if voters approve the construction of a new municipal complex to house the town offices, police, fire and EMS. “It will be a three year process before completion of a new complex,” said Perry. Meanwhile the town must spend money for ongoing repairs at both the town office and public safety building.