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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
Made on a Mac

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

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    michaelohern@comcast.net

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

Letters from Candidates: please scroll down to read all letters.

REHOBOTH

TOWN

ELECTION

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