December 31, 2011

Rejection of Dismissal 
Note:  the following letter was written by Christopher Morra to Rehoboth Town Administrator Jeffrey Ritter on December 28, 2011.  It was submitted to Vox Populi by Mr. Morra.

     “In response to your letter of December 22, 2011, please be advised that I reject the improper action of the Board of Selectmen on Monday, December 19, 2011 “to rescind (my) appointment to the Finance Committee.”  As Mr. Costello and Mr. Tito should know, the Board of Selectmen is without authority to remove me from the Finance Committee under the circumstances.  Massachusetts law provides due process protections for my term of service once I am sworn in as a Finance Committee member -- I was given no notice of this planned and improper action of the Board of Selectmen.  Our local Bylaw only allows for removal if a member is excessively absent -- I have not been absent from a regular session of the Finance Committee.  While I understand that you are merely the messenger of the Board of Selectmen’s improper act, I must respond to you as the official that sent the notice of December 22, 2011.  You are informed that I will challenge the Board of Selectmen’s improper action at all appropriate levels of government.
     Mr. Costello’s personal call to have me removed from the Finance Committee is just one more example of his personal disregard for me and disregard for lawful governance of this town.  It is important to remember that Mr. Costello previously attempted to unseat me from the Finance Committee shortly after he became Chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
     Mr. Costello’s animus towards me is well known.  Indeed in his recent election activities, Mr. Costello together with Mr. Tito employed my name in a derogatory manner and made false and disparaging remarks about me although I was not on the ballot.  Mr. Costello has often distorted facts were I am concerned in order to advance his own agenda.  His remarks on December 19, 2011 fit his pattern of disparagement of me.  Mr. Costello’s disparaging and distorted remarks about me at the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on December 19 were shameful and hypocritical, particularly where he is the subject of a scathing report by the Massachusetts Inspector General’s office alleging he violated laws for his own personal gain.  I have served the Town of Rehoboth for the betterment of the town and its residents and not for my own personal “agenda” or gain.
     Please be advised that complaints for Open Meeting Law violations relating to the improper actions of the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen, which are at the center of this controversy, are being contemporaneously filed with the Town Clerk.
     In closing, I am still an active member of the Rehoboth Finance Committee and will continue to serve the Town of Rehoboth despite the continuing actions of some in government to misuse their authority to cause me and other’s harm.”

Christopher Morra

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January 25, 2017

In Rehoboth, neighbors looks out for others.

Just to let people know, my wife and I were visited by some unwelcome guests.

These guests decided to borrow a few things worth about $4000. The idiots did take an ATM card and used it at a Walgreens and Walmart (Smile, you’re on candid camera).  I am very glad I did not catch them when they were visiting because there would have been a very special physical altercation with me hopefully being on the winning end!

I must say the Rehoboth police should be called Rehoboth's finest for there diligent and professionalism.

In closing all my neighbors on Blanding Road do look out for each other and watch each others property very closely. Hopefully you can do the same for yours!

Steve Silva, Rehoboth Resident 

January 30, 2017

Rehoboth Municipal Complex Plan Incomplete

The Municipal Complex plan will be up for a vote in April, and now is the time to carefully review the proposal.  Voters are being asked to make a decision based on a simple architect’s rendering of the building’s exterior and interior layouts.  However, there is no site plan detailing access, parking, and outdoor storage areas on the 10-acre parcel of land, which contains a communications tower.  While the current plan seems to satisfy many personnel who will work in the complex, this preliminary plan is short-sighted and incomplete.  There are many critical questions that have not been addressed with regard to parking, traffic flow, future expansion, and septic and well placement. The development of an overall site plan forces us to analyze and fully address all needs and constraints.

Anyone who has visited the police/fire complex knows that there are many excess vehicles behind the building, some of which are Police vehicles in a fenced compound.  Where will these vehicles be located?   Where will the other vehicles required by the Fire Department and EMT services be situated?

Fire, police, Town Hall, EMT and REMA (Rehoboth Emergency Management Agency) employees all need parking, which should be included on a site plan. One would assume that it would be close to the rear of the buildings.

Additional parking for Town Hall might also be needed in the event of public meetings or voting activities. Already it seems as if parking and vehicle storage might take up much of the space directly behind the complex.

Access is a key issue. The main access is planned on the north side of the complex outside the Town Hall parking area.  The only other entrance/exit area is on the south side of the complex beside the fire department.  If another bay were needed by the Fire/EMT departments, access on that side would be severely limited.

What if the Board of Health regulations were to require a new well?  And a septic system?  Where would they be located?  What are the provisions for storm water management?

Is there truly enough space for all three departments and potential expansion? Toward the back of the property, there is a communications tower. The “bookend” location of Town Hall at the north side prevents expansion of the Police Department, which, in turn, prevents the expansion of Town Hall.  A 25-year time span is not a very long period of time and Rehoboth’s population is expected to grow.

Town Hall needs to be on its own site. We have the plan for the building. There are potential sites in town available for it.

Clearly, whether it is for cost-saving reasons or lack of foresight, the proposed plan has not been well thought out.  We can achieve a more satisfactory result, and avoid potentially expensive and problematic consequences, by taking this opportunity to fully evaluate the siting and construction of these important facilities.

Vote NO in April until a complete plan is developed.

Carol K. Williams, Rehoboth Resident

Made on a Mac
Made on a Mac

February 7, 2017

Response to Vox Letter on Proposed Municipal Complex

This is in response to Carol Williams article dated January 30, 2017. Ms. Williams has discussed her concerns numerous times, and I personally and publicly answered them each time.  Apparently Ms. Williams does not understand the process which must be followed. However, I will explain it again.

The Rehoboth Municipal Complex Committee along with Ted Rowse have been working on the conceptual design plan for close to three years.  Input to the design has been received from the employees from all departments which the complex will directly serve.

The first step in the process is to develop a conceptual plan of the proposed building.  Elevations and proposed floor plans have been developed and presented to the residents for their review and support. Two public workshops were held to explain the proposed project. Open house tours of the present town office, central fire station and police station were also held.  At the public workshop, Carol Williams presented many of her questions outlined in the January 30, 2017 letter and they were answered in depth.

All of Ms. Williams concerns, as well as other detail items, are addressed on final construction documents.  The final design will follow state and local regulations.  Also, the design of the building will comply with the requirements of the state building dode.  It is premature to spend money for final designs until funding is approved.  If you research the past town debt exclusion votes, including the one for the senior center, they were approved based on conceptual design plans.

On Monday, January 23, 2017 at the Rehoboth Special Town Meeting Ms. Williams again asked her repetitive questions and I again answered them along with explaining the difference between conceptual design and final design plans.

Ms. Williams made a motion to table the article to place it on the April town election for funding of the project.  It was seconded and the motion was overwhelmingly defeated. After several residents asked some questions and Mr. Schwall explained the need for the municipal complex, a vote was cast to place it on the April town election and was strongly approved.

The parcel of land which the proposed complex would be situated on is comprised of 10 acres and is owned by the Town of Rehoboth.  It is the present location of the Rehoboth Public Safety Building. In regards to the well and septic system, as stated, a new septic system will be required.  During the final design process the need for a new well will be determined.  There is ample room on the 10-acre parcel for placement of both if required. The concern that there isn’t enough room to the rear of the building for parking. For reference, the existing communication tower referenced in her letter is located 350-feet from the rear of the existing police/fire building.

I take offense to the accusation that the proposed plan has not been well thought out.  This reflected not only on the committee but dozens of town employees who have assisted in the conceptual design.

Robert Ashton,  Municipal Complex Design Committee Chairman

March 2, 2017

In Support of the Proposed Rehoboth Municipal Complex

How long is this overdue!  A bit of history . . . the only new municipal building in modern times built in Rehoboth is the Council On Aging (Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center) which is going to be paid for in April 2017.  Your taxes will be reduced to their previous assessment because it was paid by debt exclusion.  If the town complex is approved, it will be by debt exclusion and our taxes will be reduced when it is paid for.

Thanks to living in a conservative town, the new town complex has been designed with functionality and cost awareness along with a pleasing architectural appearance. The existing town office, previously a U S Nike Sight built under substandard federal building codes, was sold to the town of Rehoboth for $ 5,900 in 1971, a building that has been in use for over 60 years, and has never been improved or expanded. And by the way, the employees have not been able to drink the water there for over 30 years!

The police, fire and rescue building was built in 1971. This building has also never been improved or expanded! Both buildings are in serious disrepair. The one caveat we have is our town fathers had the foresight to purchase 10.6 acres when this building was built. So thankfully for that, we have ample space for a new and renovated complex. The proposed complex including renovation and expansion will occupy less than 1.5 acres of the 10.6. As one can see, there is more than ample land at that site.

The assessment for the project is expected to be between $40 and $50 per $100,000 assessed value of your property. With a figure of $45, a property valued at $300,000 would pay an increase of $135 per year in taxes. This is .37 cents a day. Also monies from solar farms and from the sale of town properties will be used to pay for this project.

This is a list of municipal projects recently approved by towns that are close to our population: Dighton (pop.7,086)  just police station $5.2M;  Swansea (pop. 15,865) just police station $4.65M;  Westport (pop. 15,532) just police station $8M; Dudley (pop. 11,390) just fire station $8.9M; Norfolk (pop 11,257) just police & fire station $9.9M.

As you can see, Rehoboth's complex, which includes renovations and additions of our police, fire, rescue and a new town office, is a cost of $9.5M.  That's right, $9.5 million. And this project will be by debt exclusion which means it comes off of your taxes when it is paid for.

This proposal is the most complete and with the best foresight I have seen in 45 years. So I would ask you to please vote to approve our new town complex on Monday, April 3. This is way overdue and it will indeed make us proud of our Rehoboth.

And by the way, I would like to thank our town employees and all of the volunteers, for their time and efforts through the years to make Rehoboth a special place to call home. Also thanks to Ted Rowse and the building committee which consists of department heads and our Chiefs for there expertise and efforts for a job well done.

Jay Crandall, Rehoboth Resident

March 6, 2017

A Good Plan Now is Better than a Perfect Plan that Never Happens

I am writing in response to some of the concerns over the proposed municipal complex.  I will be the first one to admit that if you comb over the draft proposal, you will be able to find something that not everyone agrees with.  However, we could spend the next 10,000 years debating over whether there should be one less conference room or whether there should be five more parking spaces in the back or something along those lines. 

The fact of the matter is that we have decrepit facilities now that outlived their useful lives over twenty years ago.  The police building roof is virtually beyond repair (as is the town office roof), the fire chief has made it quite clear that his buildings no longer adequately suit the needs of the fire department, there is asbestos in the town offices that needs abatement, and the list goes on...

So let's be quite clear on this, we can continue doing patch repairs until something catastrophic happens (and it will, it's only a matter of time), during which we will be forced to make a decision that I guarantee will not be half as well thought-out as the current proposal and we will end up with something we really don't like.

Or we could stop quibbling over how big that closet is in the corner of the building, the color of the men's room tile, etc and build a building that we can be proud of for the next 50+ years!

Jim Muri, Rehoboth Resident

(Muri is an elected member of the Rehoboth Planning Board)

March 27, 2017

Vote No on Municipal Complex Ballot Question

The 200 or so people at the special town meeting voted to put the municipal complex on the April ballot, although it was not a unanimous decision. The ballot question will allow the town to borrow the $9.3 million for the project. I don’t dispute the need, and I am not faulting the design for the building’s interior plan, but the overall plan remains, in my opinion, incomplete and shortsighted.

The police/fire facility should absolutely be upgraded as soon as possible. I endorse that part of the plan, but I don’t want to see future expansion at town hall limited to trailers behind the proposed complex. The town hall needs to be a stand-alone building on its own site. The “bookend” design of the proposed town hall building prevents expansion of any part of the complex.

If we bring these facilities up to modern standards, let’s make sure they will provide for future growth. Mr. Ashton could give us some information now about possible well and septic placement and the limitations that would place on land use. There is a brook on the back part of the property which may cause setbacks. It doesn’t make good sense to simply reference the land “out back.” Rough sketches could block out parking areas and access roads as well as other parts central to the development. If you want to see the possible limitations, take a drive now through the access road behind the current complex.

Vote NO until the plan is more fully developed.

Carol Williams, Rehoboth Resident

April 1, 2017

The Gloom of Darkness Has Returned

On Thursday this week you found two flyers in your mailbox. One educated you on campaign candidates. The other flyer was the work of a person who has been living under a rock. It was full of lies and misleading statements. I have dealt with flyers like this before. The author of the one you received is reckless in his false information and propaganda. It is full of lies and misleading statements.

Lie #1 - It’s not a Proposition 2 1/2 override, it is a debt exclusion. Big difference. A Prop 2 1/2 override continues forever and is compounded yearly. A debt exclusion is like your mortgage.  When it is paid, it comes off your tax bill.

Lie #2 - The flyer said $16 million. The price is around 9 million, but could be a lot less with other funding.

Lie #3 - There will be NO future taxes connected to the complex.

Lie #4 - The ballot question is NOT a blank check for elected officials. Since 2011, selectmen have been very conservative with your tax dollars. They have done so much with so little. I can promise they will be very conservative with this project.

Lie #5 - The cost of future maintenance will NOT cost $15,439,535. The new municipal complex is like a brand new home.  You have little or no cost the first 10 years.

Lie #6 - They are NOT looting the Solar Pilot Program. This is exactly what the program is designed for. But town does not receive $2 million per year on our solar program. I wish we did! Then we would not need a debt exclusion on Monday.

Lie #7 - The proponents of the municipal complex do NOT have a history of reckless expenditures. In fact, they have been very smart with your tax dollars. Your town is DEBT FREE. Not many, if any, towns or cities in the Commonwealth can make that boast.

Lie #8 - In 2012, we had a chance to acquire the brick building next to the public safety building for $1 million dollars. It would have cost $700,000 to convert it into a new town hall for a total of $1,700,000, not $2,700,000.

Lie #9 - It was not the will of the people to spend $1 million on the Anawan School. It was a plan put forward to the selectman with no study or engineering. If this had been done, it would have cost over $3 million to house the town hall only. The Anawan School is under contract to be a low income senior housing without cost to the town.

Lie #10 - It will NOT increase your taxes by $1,000 per household (not unless your house is assessed at $2.5 million).

I hope you support the DEBT EXCLUSION on Monday, April 3 so this town can be proud of our buildings instead of embarrassed. How long do you think we can continue with our depleting buildings and how much will it cost if we wait? By the way, I know who wrote the flyer, but have been asked not to say at this time. I will leave you with this: You have to understand the past to know the present.   


Michael Costello, Rehoboth Resident

April 2, 2017

A Cowardly Hit Job on the Municipal Complex

You probably received two glossy cards in the mail on Thursday; one was a political endorsement for republican candidates clearly indicating that it was sent by the Republican Town Committee and the other was anonymous.  If you believe in something strongly enough to send out a mass mailing to all of Rehoboth, don't you think you would sign it?  This demonstrates to me that this was a hit and run committed by someone who lacks the courage to sign his name to something he/she believes in.

As to the content of the card it was all innuendo and falsehood.  The architect's estimate for the project, based on the size of the building, the type of building and engineering estimates is about $9.3 million.  This takes into account the fact that the town already owns the land, the current cost of building materials, current labor estimates, etc.  The hit and run flyer pulls out wacky estimates based on what?  Based on some crackpot fantasy number that has nothing to do with reality, no doubt.

I've personally run the numbers based on a bond rate of 3%, which is what a town in Rehoboth's financial standing is likely to get and a term of 20 years.  The annual payment would be $618,936.  Spread out over four thousand households in Rehoboth, this comes out to $155 per household (on average) in additional taxes.  I don't know where Mr. Anonymous got his "thousands,” but he isn't even on the same planet as the actual cost.

The other hidden cost Mr. Anonymous has not shared with you in his card is the "do nothing" cost.  If we do nothing, we will need to continue to throw money into the existing buildings, including roof replacements, asbestos abatement, mold abatement, structural repairs, and upgrades to the police station to bring it into compliance with state code. 

Mr. Anonymous also failed to mention that if we have a catastrophic failure of one of these buildings, we will have to rent temporary trailers, move equipment and supplies, and be forced to rebuild at a cost far greater than the estimated $9.3 million for the proposed municipal complex.  While I could, like Mr. Anonymous, pull meaningless estimates for this out of my behind, I won't. I'll just say what most of us already know: we would simply be throwing good money after bad. 

This proposed municipal complex project was planned over the course of three years, had input from townspeople, town staff, building professionals, and others.  It is a very good plan that carries us 50+ years into the future.  So who do you believe: a well designed plan prepared by a group committed to the best interests of Rehoboth, or Mr. Anonymous, who lacks the fortitude to put his name on his bogus advertisement?

Please vote yes on the municipal complex on Monday!

Jim Muri, Rehoboth Resident

April 7, 2017

Municipal Complex Defeat Gives Food for Thought

The recent defeat of the latest proposal should serve as food for thought about our political process. The tunnel vision over the last twenty years or more, despite accompanying extended propaganda storms promoting the proposals, each of which was defeated, speaks volumes. It seems when we have an administration that is politically inbred or truly lacking in a diversity of opinions we will continue to repeat the failures of the past ad infinitum. Irving Janis wrote about a phenomenon which he called Groupthink, an analysis of the factors that led to the decision to go ahead with the disastrous "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba. 

I watched a selectmen’s meeting some time ago and was insulted to hear a sitting selectman refer to a nonspecific future selectman as a knucklehead or a group of them as knuckleheads. It is clear what a level of disrespect must exist for whatever decisions the electorate may hold that differed from the opinions held by the current selectmen. This is probably the best, perhaps I should call it the worst, example of the phenomenon. I don't see any signs that it is likely to change any time soon.

Timothy Harrington, Rehoboth Resident

April 7, 2017

Citizens Have a Responsibility

Citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process by registering AND voting in our elections. As taxpayers, most of us want some say as to where and how our hard-earned money goes and the manner in which this country is run. The only way to ensure having some say is voting for those in whom you have complete trust and confidence.

Voting is a way of speaking your mind without ever talking loud enough to let your voice be heard! Your vote is your voice. When you vote, you actually tell our elected representatives what you want and where you stand on important issues. When you don’t vote you lose the opportunity to have your voice heard.  That being said, it is also important to put some time in researching the candidates and their views, and the questions on the ballot.

I am disappointed that only 29% of registered voters in Rehoboth turned out for our local election yesterday. Also, I was shocked at how many people on social media were asking questions throughout the day about the voting process, the candidates, and the issues.  There was ample time and information available to prepare for voting before election day.

I am saddened that the residents of Rehoboth did not approve the new municipal complex. I don’t think that too many people took the time and effort to understand just how little each of us would have to contribute to this in tax dollars through a debt exclusion and not through an override to Proposition 2 1/2.

Our current police/fire station and town hall offices are in deplorable condition and not in compliance with many federal and state mandates. The employees who work in these buildings deserve much better. They should not have to work in unsafe and unhealthy buildings. In addition, the costs associated with fixing these buildings will continue to mount and it is inevitable that a new municipal complex will have to be built at some point in the near future at a much higher cost. We missed a great opportunity to show that we, the citizens of Rehoboth, understand our responsibility in maintaining municipal facilities that provide for the safety of our residents and employees and offer additional space availability for the future needs of our lovely town.

Karen Schnabel, Rehoboth Resident

April 12, 2017

Selectmen Want Their Way

Tonight's selectmen meeting proved the point that no matter what the voters have said, the selectmen want to have their way and build the complex again.

All of the talk about trailers and immediate risks went into the wastebasket as the decades old quest for a new structure came back to life. Meanwhile nothing meaningful is likely to happen with the implied belief that it is good money following bad and most likely conditions will not improve significantly in the three years or more to get the new project off the ground. Inbred thinking is difficult to change and the group opinion unless soundly defeated again will continue to work to the detriment of town workers and voters alike.

Timothy Harrington, Rehoboth Resident

April 23, 2017

Seriously Disturbed About Town Meeting Warrant

I just read the selectman's letter in the town warrant and am seriously disturbed by an apparent error or deliberately misleading statement regarding Article 7. They state there that the article not only authorizes money for repairs to Beckworth and Palmer River schools but also authorizes " A new Public Safety Building and Town Hall Building."

I think they need to reprint the warrant immediately because of their gross error in their statement.

Timothy Harrington, Rehoboth Resident

May 4, 2017

Current Sign By-laws are Working Fine.

Why is it the Rehoboth Planning Board is all worked up about the signs in Rehoboth? There is a proposal that will be voted on at town meeting (Monday, May 8) to have all signs that are lit to be turned off from 11 PM to 6 AM. That would mean, every business on Route 44 and Route 6 will be dark during this time. This is nuts! Who does this hurt? Business, of course, who support Rehoboth in various ways. Why would a business not want to advertise all the time, even in the dark? Sounds crazy to me.

This by-law also has changes to the way signs are hung. They can't be hung in a manner that allows them to swing in the wind. There are thousands of signs in town that swing when the wind blows. They have been around since the beginning of time. They also look rustic. Why the issue?

We have some new businesses coming into town that we all would like to thrive and support. Why make it hard for them and ask them to shut off the sign when closed? How many people drive down Route 44 and Route 6 after hours? Tons!

I have asked a lot of businesses about this and they are upset that they have not been informed of this prior. It seems that the new folks coming in from the cities want to change everything. These are the same people that are the first ones to come to business for donations for their cause. If you want business to support you, you should try to support the business.

If a sign by-law is to be changed, it should have the support of the business community. This does not. Maybe we should enforce the current by-laws before we enact more?  Please vote it down at town meeting.

Tim Johnson, Rehoboth Resident

May 24, 2017

Increase in Wages for Senior Center Staff Well-deserved

Thank you to those who attended May town meeting and voted for the increase in wages for the employees of the Gladys L. Hurrell Senior Center. They surely deserve it. They have a heavy workload and a fast-paced work environment in which the employees work and assist each other as a team. Many residents, young and old, have been assisted by the caring, knowledgeable, and friendly staff.

The senior center is a lot of different things to many different people of all ages. It is like home to many who enjoy their lunches, breakfasts and activities. Seniors and not-so seniors come with old friends and make new friends. It is a happy place.

Most importantly, the senior center is a resource center which focuses on coordinating community-wide benefits programs; such as, Medicare and Medicaid assessment and enrollment; Affordable Care Act application and assistance; SNAP or food stamps; LIHEAP – fuel assistance; assist individuals that cannot afford specialize drugs; assist Veterans; explain Homestead Act and property tax relief for seniors and disabled; address issues with families of elderly or disabled; work with protective services in cases of elder abuse; address needs for housing repairs for low income as Rehoboth is not in Title 3 repair program; direct clients to financial assistant services as United Way, American Credit Assistance, etc.; provides Meals on Wheels; and lots more.

The residences of Rehoboth should be proud of this great asset to their town. I know I am. For the last 16 or 17 years that I have been coming to the senior center it has flourished beyond expectations. I truly cherish the bonds of friendship that I have made; and knowing that if I have a need, I can depend on the staff and volunteers to aid me.

Lorraine A. Botts, Rehoboth Resident

August 11, 2017

This whole fiasco shows very poor planning . . .”

Whatever happened to Mass Housing, the first agency which was slated to do senior housing at the Anawan School?  Remember that it was not going to cost the town any money.  Then they “conned” the Community Preservation people into requesting $50K at a town meeting.  The ambiguous reasons: “seed money” . . . another selectman said “feasibility study” . . . they got the money and disappeared from the picture.  We still do not know what it was used for!

Now come the Women’s Development people.  The community garden at the senior center is going to get paved over and the senior center loses parking spaces.  This whole fiasco shows very poor planning, not only on the part of the selectmen, but also the designer of the project.

Arthur Tobin, Rehoboth Resident

Note: Letter in response to plans for the Anawan School Housing project to be developed by Providence-based Women’s Housing Corporation that has already leased the property from the town to construct and manage 36 units of affordable housing for senior/veteran/disabled adult (not families). Since 1979, WHC has developed and managed housing for low and moderate income elders, families, and persons with special needs.

August 18, 2017

Why spend $40K on building evaluations?”

The Selectmen voted for $40K to evaluate public buildings.  Why are they hiring an outside firm to evaluate the town office building?  It was just evaluated by the State; results have not been received yet. 

Why? Why?  Is it to prove the building is not safe, healthy, or crowded?  Or to prove it was okay to move two more employees into the town Office building.  

Bette Dyer, Rehoboth Resident

(Dyer is also a long-time town employee who works in the town office.)

September 29, 2017

DEP should have final say on safety of public water.

Selectman Jim Muri says the water safe to drink and the town health agent clears well water at the senior center safe for use.  Does everybody know that a well is a “public water supply” and the final okay MUST be approved by DEP?

Arthur Tobin, Rehoboth Resident  

January 16, 2018

Update on Eagle Scout Project to Identify Graves of Rehoboth Firefighters:  A Thank You and Request

My name is Michael Koussa from Rehoboth, Massachusetts, currently a Life Scout serving in Troop 3, North Dighton. My ten-year-long journey in scouting is now at the point where I am working toward earning the highest and most honored rank in Scouting, that of Eagle Scout. 


For my Eagle Scout Project, I have chosen to help the Rehoboth Volunteer Fire Department. I have been given the task to locate the final resting places of deceased Rehoboth Firefighters so that we can pay tribute to them by placing a memorial grave marker and firefighter memorial flag at their gravesite. I will also be enhancing the current firefighter memorial at Station Three on Pleasant Street by adding a memorial bench, pavers, and various plantings.

This is where I will need your help. It is a big project that will require many hours of labor and approximately $1,500.00 for the flags and grave markers alone, as well as the cost of materials needed to update the Rehoboth Fire Department Station 3 Memorial. As part of my project, I am required to request donations to fund materials necessary for this project. Any financial assistance you can offer to help me with my Eagle Scout Project, in conjunction with the Rehoboth Fire Department will be greatly appreciated. No amount is too small, and any funds remaining after the project is finished, will go directly to the Rehoboth Fire Department for upkeep of this project.

Checks should be made payable to the Rehoboth Fire Department and it is important that you write Eagle Project in the memo. I thank you in advance for anything that you can contribute to this worthy cause.

With Gratitude,

Michael Koussa

Life Scout, Troop 3, North Dighton

March 21, 2018

Support Ballot Question for

New DRRHS Roof

On April 2, 2018, there will be a Rehoboth election.  We are very excited because, on the ballot, there will be a question about the funding of a new high school roof. 

The cost of the High School Roof is $3,101,837 and is a shared cost between our two district towns.  Without a new roof and a positive yes vote, we may have to consider building a new high school with a cost estimate of between $150 million and $180 million.  If you look to our neighbors in Attleboro,  a new high school there could cost in access of $280 million.

Thus, the cost to Dighton will be $1,152,242 (37.15%) and the cost to Rehoboth is $1,949,596 (62.85%). The cost to the two towns is based on the high school student population percentage and each town's equalization value. In a past vote, before I became superintendent, it failed, the cost was over $6.6 million.  The current cost for a new roof at the high school is approximately  $3.1 million, which is well below the cost five years ago.

Therefore, an estimated tax increase for a $350K home owner in Rehoboth will be approximately $42.50 per year for a 20-year loan.  As many of you know, the current roof was installed in 1990 and was projected to last 15 years.  It is now 28-years-old and leaking. If the high school roof question passes on April 2, the new roof will have a 20-year warranty.

Please note that Dighton has already passed their portion of the roof obligation. However, in order for the high school to be afforded a new roof, Rehoboth must also vote positively on April 2.

According to our Building Facilities Manager Dave Nappi, a new roof on the high school will mean the high school building should be viable for the next 20 to 25 years.  Thus far, we have replaced all of our HVAC and heating systems as well as added a wood chip burner to the high school through a performance contract with the Trane Corporation where our energy savings will pay for the new equipment.

In addition, we have erected solar arrays in our high school parking lots to provide additional cost savings at our high school.  Once again, these solar arrays will be paid for through energy cost savings which is guaranteed by the Trane Corporation. Soon to follow, the high school will be in line to add fiber optics allowing unlimited and extremely fast access to the internet. 

In summary, when I became superintendent in 2014, I made a promise that my administration, working collaboratively with our school committee, would consciously put forward two overarching goals: 1) Increase student achievement  and 2) Support the financial stability of our two towns.  I firmly believe that putting a new roof on the high school will support both of those goals.Therefore, on April 2 in the Rehoboth Town Election, please consider voting positively for a new high school roof.

Anthony C. Azar

Superintendent of Schools

Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District

March 22, 2018

Sharing Rehoboth Memories

It brought a smile to my face when I read the article about the first telephone service in Rehoboth. 

I was 10-years-old in 1954 when we got our first "dial" phone on Elm Street. Prior to that, we had a box on the wall with 2 bells and a crank handle. The phone connected to the box with a cord was a desk phone with nothing on the dial.  You picked up the receiver, cranked for the operator, and told her the number you wanted to call.  

I can remember calling my grandmother.  Her number was 1 - 8 ring 3, and our house phone number was 1-5-1 ring 11.  We had a four-party line, so you had to be considerate of other people's right to have phone time. I also remember the big blue and white telephone sign hanging near the street on Bay State Road where the telephone office was at that time.  

What I remember the most is when the phone company came to install the new phone and take the old box off the wall, is my mother saying "look how faded the wallpaper is!" (Behind the box, the wallpaper was perfect). We've come a long way in 64 years! 

Lois Crowther, Rehoboth Resident

March 22, 2018

Support Plan to Improve Traffic

Safety on Brook Street

I have been trying for several years to have the Rehoboth Selectmen address the safety issues at the intersection of Plain and Brook Street (Brook Street and Route 118 at Rosie’s Store). 

Brook Street curves into Plain Street southerly without any traffic control. Vehicles attempting to turn from Brook northerly onto Plain must cross into the left lane of Brook into uncontrolled traffic.  My suggested safety improvement would be to have Brook intersect Plain at a right angle, similar to Moulton at Brook Street with a stop sign at Brook Street which intersects with Plain Street, a through street.

If you are familiar with this intersection at busy hours,  I think you will agree that corrections are needed.  Such a correction would not require land taking and could be accomplished with little cost. This is a town-controlled roadway.

I feel if sufficient popular support can be gained for this improvement the selectmen may have more interest and take action in making such a change.

If you agree and wish these corrections to be made please e-mail me with your support. If I receive sufficient support, I will again approach the selectmen with such documentation and again request action.

Michael J. O’Hern, Rehoboth Resident

March 30, 2018

Why Experience Matters

Over the past few months , I thought long and hard about why I decided to run for re-election to the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee. Here are a few reasons . . . and why I am asking for your vote next Monday:

Safety and Security: The school committee and the district administration have worked closely to improve the security of our facilities to keep students and staff safe. We hired a resource officer at the high school. We installed new secure doors at all schools. We have started to train our students and staff on new procedures to alert and/or evacuate our facilities. I’d like to continue to make safety and security improvements and expand the involvement of parents and local police departments to insure the utmost safety for students and staff.

Budgets: Last year we knew the 2019 budget would be a major problem. Since then, matters got worse. We must add over $1,500,000 to our special education budget to accommodate new-to-our-district students, and transportation for all students is going up about $1,000,000. Citizens in Rehoboth may be asked to support an operational override to fund these increases. Whether we pass an override or not, my experience will help a lot to make sure we are allocating the budget in a way that places the top priority on student learning. The administration makes some recommendations, but it’s the school committee that votes YES or NO on those recommendations. I serve on the budget subcommittee and on the district’s Financial Advisory Committee.  I can help to make the tough decisions.

Teacher Evaluations: Massachusetts adopted a new teacher (and administrator) evaluation process and I look forward to helping to fully implement this in the district. This helps make the evaluation process more objective, sets high standards and increased accountability.

Negotiations: I have been chairman of the District Negotiations Subcommittee for most of my tenure on the board. My knowledge and experience, coupled with experience as a small business owner, has helped our district negotiate fair contracts with our teachers, paraprofessionals, secretaries and custodians.

Dighton Rehoboth Regional Agreement: We have been working hard for the past three years to amend our regional agreement (circa 1987) to correct it and update it. Our school committee’s RAATF (Regional Agreement Amendment Task Force) has dissected every section of the present agreement and has recommended better language and procedures to define our district and to assess the funding of the district. The task force’s recommendation to the full school committee can be found on the district’s website (click on Regional Agreement to the left and then click on Draft 10-10-2017 in the middle of the page). The task force’s recommendations are definitely more fair to Rehoboth than the present agreement; and as Rehoboth’s percentage of the student population goes down, Rehoboth’s share of the assessments will also go down. Since the final recommended amendment has to pass the school committee and pass both towns, my proven ability to compromise and to reach consensus will be extremely helpful to finally get this job done.

I have proven I can do this job. I want to keep this job, and I am asking for your vote on Monday.

David Katseff

Incumbent Member of the D-R Regional School Committee

March 31, 2018

Understanding the ‘Business’ of Education

When citizens vote, it affects every aspect of our lives from our schools to how our town is managed. Voting is an important right in our society. Please vote for your beliefs this Monday, April 2.

The last month has been an exciting time meeting with many of our town citizens, new faces and friends. It is refreshing to see people asking questions to better understand the financial implications and impact that our schools have on our Rehoboth community. We all take pride in wanting to ensure our children have the best education possible. We all want to see our dollars follow our students.

Our schools and students’ success depends not only on the support of all of us, but also the management of incorporating state mandates and our local regional school agreement. The regional agreement is the base foundation and rules, that defines the mutual behavior and management of our schools. It also defines the financial obligations that each town is accountable for.

It is almost 4 years since the school committee created a review process (RACC Committee) to make changes to the regional agreement.  The committee’s progress was managed poorly – it failed. The State had to intervene because the committee leadership failed to keep records to review past discussions and decisions. The process was contentious and appeared manufactured.  

The State tells each town what their respective minimum financial contributions are to support our schools. Any contribution by the towns above the state minimum is to be managed by our local regional agreement.

The original agreement was written almost 6 decades ago and has open issues to be resolved because of changing Massachusetts laws. The Massachusetts Department of Education made changes to the State’s mandates in 2007.

The agreement needs to be fair and equitable between both towns. Rehoboth is paying over $1M than we need to. Our school system is a $40M financial entity and our school committee needs to be proactive and thoroughly understand the business of educating our students and how to manage our taxes in a prudent and judicious manner.

My community experience: Rehoboth Finance Committee Member, acting as secretary for 4 years; Superintendent’s School Advisory Committee;  Superintendent’s School Capital Committee; the initial School Regional Agreement Amendment Committee since 2014; Rehoboth Selectmen’s Regional School Agreement Review Committee; Lion’s Club member for over 20 years; and served as a School Committee Member 19 years ago.

I thank you for your vote.

George Solas

Candidate for School Committee

March 31, 2018

Loyalty to the People

of Rehoboth

Fellow residents: I have had the privilege to speak to you as Chairman of the Rehoboth Finance Committee and to serve during elections as a constable. Today, I ask for your vote on Monday, April 2 for Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee.


Since my appointment to FinComm almost 9 years ago, we have used a conservative, zero-based budgeting approach to prepare the town’s annual budget. Our methods have cut unnecessary spending and maintained and expanded essential services needed by our town, without tax increases. I wish to bring this same level of responsible government to the school committee.


There are major decisions for the school committee to make over the next year. These decisions will have dramatic financial implications to the taxpayers of Rehoboth for decades to come. They include the proposed 18% annual increase in the assessment to Rehoboth ($2.8 million) and an amended  regional school agreement. We need people on the school committee we can trust will make the right decision for Rehoboth’s interests.


The incumbent members of the committee believe their loyalty lies to a nebulous entity known as “The District” rather than to you – the hard-working women and men of Rehoboth. See for yourself – watch the RBA’s videotape of the candidates here on RehobothNow and listen to the incumbents talk about “The District.”


This loyalty to “The District” has resulted in catastrophic decisions by the incumbents. The draft amended regional agreement recently submitted to the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen strips all the protections Rehoboth currently enjoys within the current agreement, does nothing to deal with the out-of-control annual increases with an “alternative assessment” and instead favors “The District.” (I will not even delve into the fact I had to file an Open Meeting Law Complaint with the Attorney General against Mr. Katseff for failing to produce minutes of his RAATF meetings!)


The incumbents are not concerned with the impact of their policy decisions on Rehoboth, but instead want to appear to be “fair” to Dighton, even if it means hurting Rehoboth’s interests. In fact, Dighton is so pleased with the decisions of the Rehoboth members that members of Dighton’s Board of Selectmen and school committee have endorsed the incumbents!


The committee is not a good steward for the tax dollars we vote to spend at May town meeting. It expresses little concern for ensuring monies are properly spent. It took George Solas – not the school committee – to discover Rehoboth was overcharged $30k on the capital assessment last year. Why was this glaring error not uncovered previously? Every wasted dollar is one dollar less that makes it into the classroom, where the measure of success is achieved.


You, the residents of Rehoboth, vote for me. Not “The District” and not residents of Dighton. If you elect me, I will ask these simple questions as I consider my vote on issues: “How does this benefit Rehoboth?” and “Will this benefit the children in Rehoboth’s schools?” My loyalty – the people I will fight for – are you, your family, and Rehoboth. 

I ask you, and those around you, who care about the future of Rehoboth, to please come out on Monday, April 2 and cast a ballot for me and for my running mate, George Solas. We will not let you down.

Michael Deignan

Candidate for School Committee




Monday, April 2

7 AM to 8 PM

Precinct 1: Town Office

Precinct 2: Senior Center

Precinct 3: South Fire Station

April 1, 2018

Delivering Real Results in the Best Interest of Rehoboth

It is my honor and privilege to represent you as Vice Chairman of the Rehoboth Board of Selectmen. I’m running for reelection on Monday, April 2 so I may continue to advocate for policies which enhance the quality of life, safety, and security of our residents, and continue to move our community forward in a positive direction. With your support and vote, I look forward to continue serving you.

I believe in delivering real results – that is what you elected me to do three years ago. At that time I promised to approach each decision by weighing the facts and making a decision based on what is in the best interest of our town. To this promise, I have been unwavering. Today I reaffirm to you my commitment to good government by always keeping the best interests of our people, our quality of life, and our natural resources at the forefront of every decision. We have accomplished much, but there is still more to do. This is particularly true with regard to working to bring about a revised Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Agreement which enhances the quality of education and is fair and equitable to both communities; and working to protect our natural resources by bolstering our local bylaws and advocating for protective legislation throughout the Commonwealth.

I respectful ask for your vote on Monday, April 2 so I may continue serving you and our community. Thank you.

Gerry Schwall

Incumbent Rehoboth Selectman  

May 18, 2018

Thank you, Rehoboth!

I am writing on behalf of the Keep Rehoboth Beautiful Sub-Committee to acknowledge and thank the scores of hardworking volunteers that made our recent town-wide litter cleanup a great success.

Between Sunday, April 22 and Saturday, April 28, 250 plus volunteers collected over 600 bags of trash – enough to completely fill 15 large dump trucks. This was truly an outstanding effort as folks confronted prickly briars, cast off tires, ticks and bugs, to get the job done. These volunteers demonstrated a welcome sense of community and home town pride.  The results are cleaner streets and a clear demonstration of what can be done when a whole town pitches in.

To stay updated on further litter control efforts please visit You to all that contributed to this effort!

Abby Abrahamson

Chairperson, Keep Rehoboth Beautiful Sub-Committee

June 2, 2018

Vote ‘YES’ on July 17 to support Proposition 2 1/2 Tax Override.

Dear neighbors, please vote YES on July 17 and support the Proposition 2 ½ Override. Although the onus for this override has been laid at the feet of our school district, the fact is the district has been warning our town for several years that unless the Rehoboth Board of Selectman, through the Rehoboth Finance Committee, exercised better foresight and adjusted our tax levy in a more timely and manageable manner, sooner or later, our entire municipal budget would reach a crisis.

The crisis is here.  

The Rehoboth portion of the school district operating assessment is $1,283,386 higher than last year’s request. The amount being requested on the tax override ballot question is $2,115,992.  Why, you may be wondering, is the ballot amount higher than what the school district requested? Because the finance committee is tacking on a $922,000 municipal shortfall unrelated to the school district budget.

So, my friends, the crisis must be borne by both the town and school district. Which is as it should be. One cannot, and should not, be separated from the other. We are all in this together. Not families with school children versus retirees on fixed incomes. One Town. Rehoboth. The birthplace of public education in North America. Vote ‘Yes’ at special Rehoboth town election on July 17.

Melissa Enos

DRRSD School Committee Member and Fellow Struggling Taxpayer

June 3, 2018

The Facts: Town Revenue vs. Spending

The role of the Rehoboth Finance Committee is, in part, to present a balanced budget at annual town meeting – not to recommend a budget that relies on a Proposition 2 1/2 override to balance. Nor is it within the law for any town finance committee or board of selectmen to “adjust” the tax levy of a town to fund the budget.  This cannot be done arbitrarily by town officials – it is a decision that rests solely with the residents, via the Proposition 2 1/2 override process.

The Rehoboth Finance Committee does not advocate for or against an override. Although each member undoubtedly has their own opinion, as an entity we remain neutral and provide town residents with information on consequences if they vote “yes” or “no”.

The Rehoboth Finance Committee publishes a letter in each annual town meeting warrant outlining the financial status of the town. For the past several years, in this letter, we have warned the citizens of Rehoboth, the town was effectively "living beyond its means" by spending more money than it anticipates raising in revenue.  That includes appropriations made to two regional school systems and one county school system.

You can review these prior letters by visiting the town website: page 2 (FY15 Annual Town Meeting warrant), page 4 (FY16 ATM warrant), page 4 (FY17 ATM warrant) and page 5 (FY18 ATM warrant.)

Each year in early winter, the Rehoboth Finance Committee communicates anticipated increases in the town's revenue to school officials, via the D-R School District’s Financial Advisory Committee. School officials are acutely aware of how much additional revenue the town expects to generate year-over-year. It is ironic school committee members lecture town officials regarding the status of town finances, when they have not reviewed or exercised any executive oversight over their own budget. Recent televised school committee meetings contain discussions on numerous errors in their budget (which benefit Rehoboth) uncovered by both school officials, as well as George Solas, the newest elected Rehoboth member of the regional school committee.

I, for one, would like to see copies of the “warnings” school officials they say were sent to Rehoboth officials in the recent past regarding “exercising foresight” over the tax levy. School committee members should remember: No town entity, including the regional school system, is entitled to pre-determine the amount of funding they will receive. Residents attending town meeting decide how much the town will give.

As stated at the FY19 Financial Summit held before town meeting, the issue before us is  simple: The town no longer generates sufficient revenue to cover the annual increases in the town and regional school system budgets. It hasn’t for several years and we’ve had to use cash reserves to ‘bridge the gap’.   I encourage you to watch the summit online, view on

The decision before each of us is equally simple: Do you wish to raise your property taxes and fund government operations at the levels requested, or, do you wish taxes remain where they are at and see a reduction in school and/or town services?

This is a decision each one of us must make depending on our own beliefs and financial circumstances, at special town election to be held on Tuesday, July 17.

Michael P. Deignan

Chairman Rehoboth Finance Committee

Note: Residents with questions regarding the override are invited to contact Michael Deignan via email at, or via cell at 401-556-5062.

June 7, 2018

It Doesn’t Add Up

Due to Rehoboth’s perennial budget shortfall, the Blame Game is on once again.

It’s those selfish teachers.

It’s those cheap senior citizens.

It’s those spoiled kids.

It’s those demanding parents.

It’s those dishonest administrators.

It’s those wasteful town employees.

It’s those manipulative town leaders.

It’s those uppity newbies.

It’s those crotchety townies.

The truth is, it’s none of those. It’s just math.

A March, 2018 analysis in the University of New Hampshire Law Review explained why  Proposition Prop 2 1/2 levy limitations have put towns across Massachusetts in financial turmoil. “Strict property tax caps have an inherently unsustainable nature as it relates to municipalities fulfilling their commitment to provide public services. Inflation—which has averaged 3.638% from 1980 through 2010—has constantly outpaced levy limits.”

In other words, towns simply cannot function forever under the arbitrary cap of Prop 2 1/2.

Since 1980, 304 of the 351 towns in Massachusetts have faced override decisions. These ballot questions are becoming more frequent and are being approved more often as the long-term repercussions of Prop 2 1/2 are felt all across the commonwealth.  Most towns have found themselves in the same predicament as we are in – there just isn’t enough revenue to cover the growing expenses needed to service towns and schools properly. 

In Rehoboth, we are once again between the proverbial rock and a hard place. No one wants higher taxes, but without increased funding, our services, our schools, our facilities, and our reputation will continue to decline despite the best efforts of our hard-working employees and town leaders.

The revenue reset achieved through the override vote will enable us to get back on track financially. Just as importantly, it may also help us to come back together as a community united for a better Rehoboth, for today and tomorrow.  As a concerned neighbor and teacher,

I urge you to support our entire town by voting “YES” on July 17.

Deb Woodard

Rehoboth Resident

June 7, 2018

Support the Town of Rehoboth,

A Unique Perspective

I support our town.  I support our schools.  I support our override.

Over the course of the last few years, in general, and the past couple weeks, in particular, I have heard from family and friends regarding the Town of Rehoboth and Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School District’s financial situations and the upcoming override vote.  I have overheard and participated in conversations with other fellow citizens.  Although I do not use social media personally, I have (unfortunately) witnessed a few of the posts.  I have contributed to our committees and attended financial summit and town meetings.  I consider myself a well-informed member of our community.

I generalize that, among the many perspectives, it seems to me there are two “sides” that have developed here in town: (a) those who do not wish to participate financially towards the betterment of our community and who may view the DRRSD as a burden rather than an investment and (b) those who may near-blindly support DRRSD funding, may view any DRRSD budgetary analysis or fiscal responsibility discussions/actions as an attack on our students’ well-being and educational system’s future health, and may question or fictionalize the finance committee’s “motive”.

While we must welcome the opinion of all parties, it is important that we develop our own beliefs intelligently, with respect for others, and be mindful of the multi-dimensional nature of this sensitive topic.  In the end, we will all have the opportunity to participate in a purely democratic process and vote for what we feel is best.  However, I strongly encourage you to first stop, think, and be sure to clearly define “best” for yourself, because it need not be solely one side or the other…

Continue reading letter online, click here:

Douglas C. Furtado
Husband of a full-time educator in the DRRSD
Father of two students enrolled in the DRRSD
Vice Chairman of the Rehoboth Finance Committee

Comments?  Please email to:  Be well, Rehoboth.

June 7, 2018

Why I Am a Progressive

Being a Progressive is not being apart of a political party or a movement. Being a Progressive is an idea. An idea that demands fairness and equality for all. The advancement of the human condition should be the goal of every Politician in office. Whether Democrat or Republican, the quality of life, social and economic mobility, and the overall character of humanity as a whole should be the "be all end all."

Whether you identify as a Liberal or Conservative, a progressive voter seeks progress. Sounds simple, but unfortunately most politicians make it sound complicated. One can be socially progressive yet economically conservative. In the past you have had both Democrat and Republican candidates identity as a "Progressives."  Simply put, progress is evolution. I believe there are four pillars that truly express these ideals: freedom, opportunity, responsibility and cooperation. These are essential for the progressive society and should be the aspiration of every individual regardless of party designation.

If it is the belief that our government exist to strengthen the individual, then we as progressives seek economic fulfillment for all people with a fair and decent wage. Not special privileges but self-evident truths. A fair share for all that includes freedom of speech, religion, basic physical securities, privacy and the value of human independence.

The freedom from and the freedom to; progressives believe in the unalienable rights not only that we are all created equal, but the assurance, no matter your status in society, that each individual is afforded proper healthcare, education, and the opportunity to retire with economic freedom. These freedoms need to coexist within an open and transparent governance process so that the voice of the individual is heard and government continues to work for every individual.

An important element in being a progressive is active participation. Participation not only political but socially in our community. We have a personal responsibility to ourselves as well as a responsibility to the public. The common good includes the people's involvement. Freedom without participation and cooperation causes a divided society that can not work together.

We need to be open minded and to be accountable to others. Being a progressive does not mean being right, but doing right by each individual in our society. The perception of a progressive has been attacked by those who do not believe in our core beliefs. With that said, I ask the voters to answer themselves this question before the upcoming election:

Has your government fulfilled its obligation to its citizens? Your answer will justify your vote. It has justified my belief to demand progress in our government, and it is why I look to join county government in order to enact meaningful change for individuals in our county and beyond. Thank you.

Frank Durant 

Candidate for Bristol County Commissioner

June 8, 2018

Thank You for Making the Taste of Rehoboth a Great Success

The Rehoboth 375 Anniversary Committee held the “Taste of Rehoboth” fundraiser on June 5 at Francis Farm in Rehoboth. Thank you to the over 220 people who attended.  Your attendance and participation in raffles and the silent auction helped to raise over $5,000 to support the Rehoboth 375 Parade to be held on October 7, 2018.

The evening was a success largely due to the participation of the 16 restaurants/vendors that supplied generous samplings of their culinary specialties.  Thank you to:  Confectionery Designs, M & D’s Country Kitchen, Scialo’s Bakery, Young’s Catering, Not Your Average Joes, Davenports, Rehoboth House of Pizza, China Gourmet, Hillside Golf & Country Club, Bettencourt Farms, Vino’s Family Cafe, Barrett’s Ale House, Toti’s Pizza, and Country Kitchen.  Thanks also to Bristol County Savings Bank for participating in this fundraiser, and D.J. Scott Corderio for music.

A special thank you to Francis Farm that not only cooked their wonderful food, but also donated their wonderful facilities. Additionally, over 30 businesses made donations for a silent auction and raffles. A special thank you to Kim Fagundes who cooked five incredible historic dishes dating back to the 1700s that were enjoyed by all – the favorite being Lizzie Borden’s meatloaf recipe.

Thank you to the Taste of Rehoboth sub-committee that worked hard over a number of months to ensure the success of the evening:  Debbie Breckenridge, Kim Fagundes, Dave and Jennifer LeComte, Sheila Kramer, and Sandy Phillips.

Deborah Breckenridge

Rehoboth Resident and Taste of Rehoboth Sub-Committee Chairman

June 12, 2018

Why We Need a Proposition 2 1/2 Override

I’m writing as a Dighton-Rehoboth Regional School Committee member, a parent of two children in Palmer River Elementary School, and a resident of Rehoboth.

When my wife and I were looking to move from our small home and yard on the East Side of Providence, the very first thing we researched, before we even began the process of looking at actual houses, were the areas with the best reputation for their schools. As a result, we happily ended up in Rehoboth.

For most people, this is the bedrock of their retirement plan: assume that someone will want to move to the area and purchase your home for significantly more money than you did. Empirical research shows that the success of this strategy (stable and increasing property value) is largely tied to the quality of your local school district

Unfortunately, our current predicament threatens to undermine that stability. Moreover, this has been years in the making. Band-Aid fixes like dipping into free cash from the town and E&D funding from the school district, which have worked in the past to kick the can down the road, have finally run out.

We now have the unpalatable choice of either a Proposition 2 1/2 override or catastrophic cuts that will result in considerable layoffs (the district estimates 80 positions) and likely elimination of school programs including all sports, after-school groups, bands, and so forth. This is not the D-R school district that I recognize, or want.

It is understandable that many people in town do not want their taxes to be increased. Tax rates continue to go up, and once they do, they rarely go back down. But the town of Rehoboth is a heavily residential area with virtually no industry or business tax base. Consequently, raising property taxes is one of the few mechanisms that the town can use to increase funding when revenues do not meet expenses.

Although there is room for improvement, the school committee has focused on keeping costs down. Along with other cost saving measures, the school district has increased preschool tuition, sports fees, and added new activity fees, as well as reduced staffing by 14 full-time positions and 16 teacher aid positions across the district in the last two years. But that is still not enough to meet rising costs.

Rehoboth has one of the lowest taxed municipalities in the state, and significantly lower than our neighbors. According to the State of Massachusetts property tax database, Rehoboth at $11.97 per $1000 ranks 278 in the commonwealth in residential property tax rate, and 295 in commercial rate. To compare to our immediate neighbors, that’s 20% less than Dighton, 20% less than Attleboro, 13% less than Swansea, and 11% less than Seekonk.

Community investment in schools also reaps tangible benefits. Lower crime rates, lower unemployment, less reliance on social services, less reliance on welfare, lower drug and alcohol abuse, higher home resale values, and increased civic participation are proven outcomes of first-rate public education.

Investment in our schools is an investment in our kids, and an investment in our kids is an investment in our community. It’s up to us to make that happen. I encourage you to vote Yes on the 2 1/2 override on July 17.

Dr. Anthony F. Arrigo

Rehoboth Resident and Member of the Dighton Rehoboth Regional School Committee

June 14, 2018

D-R Class Size Numbers Unavailable to Public

I have been asking Dr. Azar, D-R School Superintendent, for information on the district's class size distribution. Specifically I have asked for the number of classes with 5 or less students, 6 to 10 students, 11 to 15 students, 16 to 20 students and 21, and above.

In retrospect I should have asked for 21 to 25 and 26 and above. It is simple information and should be in the public domain. Dr Azar stated in an email that he would have to run it by the school committee before he could give it to a third party.

The only thing the school committee meeting (on June 12) addressed was that classes would be much bigger.

The information I requested would do a lot to address the issue of how many classes are at their limit, and how many might be eliminated from the lower end to assist with limiting the overgrowth at the high end.  The information has not been forthcoming. So much for free and open discussion. 

Timothy Harrington

Rehoboth Resident

June 16, 2018

Bristol Aggie Support-Staff Contract Stalemate

As we stood along Center Street in Dighton on Tuesday, June 12, outside from where the Bristol County Agricultural High School Trustees were meeting, it was gratifying to hear so many drivers “honking” their support for our demonstration.

We are a small group of support-staff employees working at the high school, and we have been unable to settle a new contract with the trustees. Our previous contract expired one year ago, and we started working on a new contract last April. Every member of our association gives 100 percent to the school and is proud to fulfill a unique role in the public school system. Deciding to protest is one of the toughest decisions we have had to make. We prefer to feel like partners sharing in the school’s success. We are truly grateful for all the support the public has shown us.

What the trustees have offered so far amounts to a complete insult to us, especially when other county employee contracts are being settled with wage increases that are nearly double the increases offered to us. All we are asking for is fair compensation that reflects the true value of our work. The economy in Bristol County has grown by 3.5 percent since last year and is going strong. Our school is likewise growing. A fair contract represents an investment in our continued success and growth.

The trustees have certainly saved money by leaving key positions unfilled for several months. But sound financial stewardship requires more than pinching pennies; the trustees must make sure that the school and its students are well served with qualified and dedicated staff.

We see no justification for how the trustees are treating us. I sure hope they are not going to blame this situation on the last superintendent, since he has been gone for almost a year now. We reset the table not long after his departure. The blame for this stalemate falls on the individuals who are refusing to work with us, and they need to take responsibility for their actions.

Keith LePage

President, Bristol County Agricultural School Support Staff Association

June 19, 2018

Dighton Rehoboth School Class Numbers

In response to Mr. Timothy Harrington’s letter of June 14, I am happy to provide class size information. This information is also publicly accessible through the DRRSD website, as well as the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website.

Palmer River Elementary School 2017-2018 total enrollment was 553 (down from 564 in 2016-2017).

Kindergarten averages 19 students. (five Kindergarten classrooms)

Grade 1 averages 19 students. (five grade 1 classrooms)

Grade 2 averages 22.2 students. (five grade 2 classrooms)

Grade 3 averages 20.2 students. (five grade 3 classes)

Grade 4 averages   21.2 students. (six grade 4 classes)

Dighton Elementary School 2017-2018 total was 463 (up from 420 in 2016-2017).

Kindergarten averages 20.75 students.

Grade 1 averages 20.75 students. (four grade 1 classrooms)

Grade 2 averages 22.75 students. (four grade 2 classrooms)

Grade 3 averages 22 students. (four grade 3 classrooms)

Grade 4 averages 21 students. (five grade 4 classrooms)

D.L. Beckwith Middle School 2017-2018 total was 583 (up from 575 in 2016-2017). Each student attends five different classes each day.

Grade 5 averages 22.1 students per class.

Grade 6 averages 24.6 students per class.

Grade 7 averages 25 students per class.

Grade 8 averages 24.3 students per class.

Dighton Middle School 2017-2018 total was 392 (down from 396 in 2016-2017). Each student attends five different classes each day.

Grade 5 averages 21.75 students per class.

Grade 6 averages 26 students per class.

Grade 7 averages 23.25 students per class.

Grade 8 averages 17.4 students per class.

Dighton Rehoboth Regional High School 2017-2018 total enrollment was 909 (down from 928 in 2016-2017). Average class sizes within the high school are not relevant due to the nature of many of the classes. For example, Introduction to Biology will have far more students than the advanced Automotive class. Under normal circumstances, any class section that does not meet the minimum number of students will either be taken off the schedule or, where possible, combined with another section.

However, due to the budget crisis, 57 teaching positions across the District have been pink slipped, 25 of which are at the high school. Therefore, it may be the case where many courses will not be available regardless of the number of students who have enrolled in that course. This will have detrimental effects on students, especially those who may need certain courses to satisfy graduation requirements.

Anyone with questions is encouraged to contact any school committee member. We were elected to serve!

Melissa Enos,

Rehoboth Resident and Member DRRSD School Committee

June 19, 2018

We Know the Problem . . . What is the Solution?

While I am considering supporting the upcoming override election for personal reasons, I do so with caution and trepidation for myself, family and neighbors.  I don’t mind some additional financial pain for the overall good, but in all honesty, I would all other parties to feel some pain as well and shoulder some burden.  Aren’t we all in this together?  We are at the crossroads of no return and finger pointing gets us nowhere. Here are some of my thoughts:

I would consider supporting an override as a one-time fix and getting the town and schools back on track, however, we cannot afford to do this every year.

A higher tax rate does not necessarily equate to a better education for children.  Approximately 20% of the top 25 schools in Massachusetts have a lower tax rate than Rehoboth according to the State. We should still strive to be the best that we can as every child deserves our best! 

\What about our friends and fellow residents that cannot afford any more in taxes as they are on fixed incomes, retired or can’t make ends meet?

In the business world, I have managed a $100 million dollar budget, we are allowed 2% over the previous year assuming we had a profitable year.  If not, then we had to make cuts to get down to a profitable level no matter how.  Why should this be any different? 

There must be transparency and accountability for all budget line items including salary, benefits, pensions & insurance.  

Again, we as town residents cannot afford an override every year otherwise, we will deter and potentially chase away current and future residents as well as potential new businesses coming into Rehoboth. 

I know all the arguments pros and cons from all sides, I have heard it for 15 years. It doesn’t matter anymore as look where we are now!

I don’t want to see anyone in the town or schools lose their job, however, sometimes maybe it’s better to forgo a raise than to lose your job.  I know many individuals that don’t get an increase every year and that is sad!

It’s time we put into effect a 2-acre minimum lot for new construction for lots of reasons including underground water tables and the additional town resources that will be needed.

If a new family moves into Town with 2 children that go to DR High, at today’s cost of approximately $15,000 per student, per year that is $30k annually.  Yet, that same home only generates approximately $5,000 a year in taxes.  What’s wrong with this picture?

As reported by the Taunton Gazette on February 12, 2009, then chairman of the Rehoboth Finance Committee Jack Sinibaldi said at a meeting, “The finance committee has been saying for numerous years that new tax growth is needed and essential to the town. We cannot continue to do business as a Town as we have in the past.” 

What have we learned since 2009 and what fiscal policy changes have we made as a Town and School District?   Many others over the years have issued the same warning, but what changes have been enacted?

Jack Sinibaldi,

Rehoboth Resident and Taxpayer

June 20, 2018

Class Size Should be Public Record

In reading  Melissa Enos attempt to answer the question on the school district’s class size distribution, I have a question this report doesn't address. The information reported to the DOE by Superintendent Dr. Azar in the state- wide report is a teacher-to-student ratio of 12.8 to 1.  We are hearing teachers disputing that figure, saying they have 28 to 30 children to a class.

My question is: What is the number of children in each individual classroom on each period of the day? I do not want to know the teachers name, the names of children, the subject, or time of day. I want to know where to truth lies. Do we have an inequitable distribution of students beyond SPED classes? Perhaps Dr. Azar or someone on the D-R School Committee could check with their math department, or someone familiar with statistics, to help them on how to construct a frequency distribution by class size.  It's now two weeks and he (Timothy Harrington) still hasn't received an answer to what should be public record. 

Linda Harrington

Rehoboth Resident

June 20, 2018

Numbers Didn’t Answer Question

It is unfortunate that some one posted an answer to a question that I did not ask.  I asked for a distribution frequency of DR class by size of each individual class. Averages do not give variability; averages hide the variability in class sizes.

We hear about classes with 30 students, but these averages suggest many have far fewer students. An inequitable distribution clouds the seriousness of overpopulated classrooms. The question has not been properly answered.

Timothy Harrington

Rehoboth Resident

NOTE:  Per our publication policy, a single Vox contributor is allowed one letter per topic per week, with a word count of up to 550 words for any single letter.  As a courtesy, letter writers are allowed one follow-up rebuttal or response letter.  Mr. Harrington’s response letter on this topic is above.