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Acton-Boxborough High experience with open office format cited in New Yorker article

January 10, 2014 08:48 AM

On the New Yorker's site, Writer Maria Konnikova recalls her days at A-B High in the early 1970's to make a point about the faults of the open office trend.

She writes:

"Distracting at best and frustrating at worst, wide-open classrooms went, for the most part, the way of other ill-considered architectural fads of the time, like concrete domes. (Following an eighty-million-dollar renovation and expansion, in 2005, none of the new wings at A.B.R.H.S. have open classrooms.) Yet the workplace counterpart of the open classroom, the open office, flourishes: some seventy per cent of all offices now have an open floor plan.''

Read the rest of the online article here.

Free rides after 8 p.m., extra service on MBTA for New Year's Eve

December 26, 2013 10:48 AM

The MBTA said it will continue its annual tradition of offering free rides after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, while boosting service on its subway and commuter rail lines to accommodate people traveling to celebrate First Night.

On New Year’s Eve, the T's Green, Red, Orange, and Blue lines will operate on modified weekday schedules with extra trains running at “rush-hour levels of service” from about 3 p.m. until 2 a.m., officials announced.

The T’s commuter rail lines will also run on modified weekday schedules with additional service, including a number of lines that will see extra outbound service and some delayed outbound departures between midnight and 2 a.m., officials said.

To see a detailed list of extra commuter rail service and delayed departure times, click here.

Meanwhile, the T’s Silver Line, buses, trackless trolleys, express bus routes and boats will run on regular weekday schedules on New Year’s Eve, officials said.

The T’s paratransit service, the RIDE, will run on a regular weekday schedule with extended hours until 2:30 a.m.

On New Year’s Day, the four subway lines will run on Sunday schedules as will the Silver Line, the RIDE, the commuter rail and buses, meaning some commuter rail and bus lines will not operate, officials said.

For a detailed list of subway and bus routes that will not run on New Year’s Day, click here.

The T will not run boat service on New Year’s Day.

City officials have encouraged people traveling in and around Boston on New Year's Eve to ride public transit, including the T. A number of streets will be closed to traffic, while parking will be banned on others. For a detailed list, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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Middlesex DA pushes for domestic violence bill after Jared Remy case

December 14, 2013 10:02 AM

Months after her office was criticized for its handling of a domestic violence case that ended in murder, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan is pushing legislation that increases penalties on defendants with a history of violence and in cases where the victim is a household or family member.

Ryan testified before the Joint Committee on Public Safety Thursday in favor of a bill (H 3242) that broadens the aggravated assault and battery statute when the defendant has previously been convicted of certain crimes, including violating a restraining order. The bill, entitled “an act relative to protecting domestic violence victims from repeat offenders,” was filed by Rep. Carolyn Dykema, a Democrat from Holliston.

The legislation also increases penalties for a defendant on an assault and battery charge who violates a judge’s order not to contact the victim as a condition of release on bail. Currently, a defendant is subject to increased penalties only when the assault and battery occurs in violation of a restraining order, according to Ryan.

“Right now the legislation does not provide for violation of the court order, a stay away order, to be an aggravating factor. This bill would remedy that,” she said. “This bill would say that if you have been ordered by the court to stay away from the victim and you, in fact, violate that order, commit an assault and battery, that will be an aggravating factor. It just increases the number of aggravating factors.”

The legislation gives prosecutors more tools to recommend higher sentences, and gives judges more discretion in sentencing, without creating mandatory minimum sentences, Ryan said.

Ryan is pushing for passage of four domestic violence bills, according to a spokeswoman. “It is part and parcel of a broader review of domestic violence legislation to increase penalties and discretion in sentencing that began when the DA took office,” spokeswoman MaryBeth Long said.

Ryan testified before lawmakers in July on a handful of bills, including one to create a new crime of strangulation and strangulation with serious bodily injury. In October, the Senate passed a domestic violence bill that included the strangulation measure. The bill is awaiting action in the House.

In August, the Middlesex District Attorney’s office was criticized for how it handled the case against Jared Remy, who was in court on an assault and battery charge two days before he allegedly killed his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, a case that has spurred a reexamination of laws intended to prevent domestic violence.

Remy was arrested for allegedly slamming his longtime girlfriend into a mirror, and the DA’s office was publicly criticized for not asking a judge to continue to hold him, based on a past history of domestic violence charges, or ordering him to stay away from Martel following his arraignment.

In the wake of Martel’s murder, House Speaker Robert DeLeo asked Attorney General Martha Coakley to partner with him in looking at the state’s restraining order laws.

Dykema, who filed the bill in January, said abusers often have a history of violence before the domestic violence incident that should raise a red flag.

The bill recognizes if the defendant has a past history of violent behavior, they would be eligible for increased penalties on the domestic violence charge, Dykema said.

Dykema told the News Service the issue hit close to home for her after a Westborough mother was murdered in a domestic violence incident several years ago. After the woman’s death, she worked with former Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone, and then Ryan when she took office, Dykema said.

One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, Dykema said.

“The most frustrating thing I hear from the public when you read these tragedies in the paper, there is a clear history of violence. People ask themselves, and I ask myself, why weren’t we able to recognize this…to discern the clear signs. This (bill) allows us to recognize those past patterns of behavior.”

Transportation bill includes money for bike paths around the state

December 12, 2013 05:00 PM

The transportation bond bill making its way through committees on Beacon Hill retains the walking and bicycling path spending at the same level the governor requested even as the overall spending authorized in the bill is significantly smaller.

Gov. Deval Patrick asked for $429.7 million for multi-use paths as part of his $19 billion transportation bond bill he wanted to fund through a $1.9 billion tax increase.

The Transportation Committee redrafted the bill, giving it a $12.1 billion price tag, shortening its term from 10 years to five years and keeping the same level of authorization for bike paths – though the actual spending decisions are handled by the executive branch.

MassDOT has a list of 47 projects totaling $407 million. The most expensive projects are large sections of the Blackstone River Greenway, which would cost $67 million. The path would link Providence to Worcester along the route of an old canal.

The second costliest, at $36 million, is the Mass Central Rail Trail, running from Berlin to Waltham.

The Mattapoisett Rail Trail phase 2 is the third costliest project, at $28.5 million, and would extend a trail along the coast.

There are a range of other projects in Abington, Boston, Boxford, Acton, Barnstable, Bellingham, Lee and many other cities and towns in the state. A Patrick administration official testifying before a legislative committee Wednesday promised to follow up with information about spending on multi-use paths.

- A. Metzger/SHNS

Groton to auction fire vehicles, other surplus equipment

December 4, 2013 06:25 PM
Psst … Wanna Buy A Fire Truck? How About a Fire Station? (via The Groton Line)

Art Campbell | The Groton Line If you’re dreaming of getting a fire engine as the perfect holiday gift — a real fire engine, mind you — not a toy, your dreams could come true Tuesday December 10. If you dream a little bigger and you’ve been…

Massachusetts hunting, fishing licenses for 2014 available

November 30, 2013 04:48 PM

BOSTON (AP) — The new year is a few weeks away but it’s not too early to think about 2014 hunting licenses.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife says 2014 hunting, sporting, fishing, and trapping licenses will be available for purchase starting on Monday.

They can be purchased at all license vendor locations, MassWildlife District offices, the West Boylston Field Headquarters, and at MassFishHunt.org.

Anyone 15 or older needs a license to hunt or for freshwater fishing.

Freshwater fishing licenses for minors ages 15 to 17 are free and can be obtained online.

The department also reminds hunters that all deer harvested during shotgun season must be checked at a check station. Online checking is not available from Dec. 2 until Dec. 14.

Bear sightings on the way up in suburbs of Boston

November 26, 2013 09:36 PM
Your New Groton Neighbors, The Bears, May Be Dropping By (via The Groton Line)

James Desrosiers When Chris Campbell glanced out the parlor window of her Main Street home in Groton a few weeks ago, she was shocked to see a big face staring back. It belonged to a black bear, peeking in at her. “Wow … It was like being in a zoo…

Weekend train service resumes on Fitchburg Commuter Rail line

November 22, 2013 03:05 PM

After a series of MBTA improvement projects along the Fitchburg Commuter Rail line, regular weekend service has resumed to all stations between North Station and Fitchburg Station.

Commuters should note that due to additional track work, passengers travelling both inbound and outbound will be bused between the South Acton and Littleton stations on Nov. 23 and 24. A shuttle bus will be available between the West Concord and Littleton stations for passengers who need assistance or have disabilities.

Passengers should accept delays of up to 20 minutes, according to a press release from the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Company.

Shandana Mufti can be reached at shandana.mufti@globe.com.

Regional and vocational technical schools would get more money under bill

October 24, 2013 04:39 PM

Regional and vocational technical high schools would be eligible for additional state funding for capital projects, under legislation filed by Sen. Kenneth Donnelly, an Arlington Democrat.

Advocates for the bill (S 228) told lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Education Thursday that regional and vocational technical high schools desperately need the state’s help to fund renovation and improvement projects because it is nearly impossible to get several different towns all to agree to take on the debt.

James Laverty, superintendent at Franklin County Technical School, said his school has done as many renovations as they can over the years without asking the towns for money.

“We will have to go to 19 towns at town meeting with our hat in our hands,” he said.

The odds are stacked against them to get all the towns to approve a large renovation project, Laverty said.

The town of Heath, in Franklin County, has only two students who attend the school out of 500 students. If 70 people in Heath show up at town meeting, and 36 vote no, “the whole project is dead in the water,” Laverty said.

Under the legislation, regional and vocational technical high schools would be eligible for additional reimbursement, which is calculated by the Massachusetts School Building Authority based on a four-part formula. A school district can receive up to 80 percent of the cost of a capital improvement project, and must pay for any remaining share of the cost.

The formula awards percentage points of reimbursement in three mandatory income-based metrics. Regional school districts often have unequal shares for each city or town when improvement costs are allocated, according to Donnelly’s office. The legislation would increase the percentage points awarded in the grant process for regional schools by 10 points, and vocational schools would receive 20 additional points. The goal is lower the costs for cities and towns, according to Donnelly’s office.

If the Legislature offers a “little more” and regional school capital projects can get closer to 80 percent reimbursement from the MSBA, “it would make it a little easier,” Laverty said.

Alice DeLuca, the Stow representative to the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Lexington, said vocational and technical high school students are at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts at traditional high schools because their schools cannot renovate and bring in the latest technologies.

State lawmakers need to back up with money the support they voice for vocational and technical schools, she said.

“These schools provide the middle skills that everybody says they want,” DeLuca said.

“The kids who go to vocational schools do not have a nice, new renovated building and they are never going to unless something is done,” she added.

Fun ways to celebrate Halloween west of Boston

October 20, 2013 12:27 PM

On the one hand, there is the kitschy Halloween beloved by small children, with silly or clever costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, and mountains of candy. On the other hand, there is the haunted-house fun of a good scare — be it from a gory costume or a spooky noise.

While traditional house-to-house trick-or-treating may still be the best way to spend Halloween itself, there are also any number of ways to explore the other dimensions of the holiday -- whether your preference leans more toward a walk through a graveyard or a craft activity.

Here some of the many ways to celebrate Halloween in communities west of Boston this year.

-- Halloween Walk and Tour of the Old Burying Ground in Lexington takes place Saturday (Oct 26) at 6:30 p.m. and leaves from the Depot Building, 13 Depot Square. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children, with discounts for Lexington Historical Society members. For reservations, more information, call 781-862-1703 or go to www.lexingtonhistory.org.

-- Frightful Friday at Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham, in its final installment this week, has tours starting at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15 adults, $10 for ages 5 through 12 and Gore Place members. Capacity is limited. For tickets, call 781-894-2798 or visit www.goreplace.org.

-- Murder at the Masquerade takes place at Merchants Row in the Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Square, Concord, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:15. The ticket price, which includes a gourmet three-course dinner, is $69. For reservations, e-mail kkunce@concordscolonialinn.com or call 978-371-2908, ext 544.

-- Spookapella, a concert by North Shore Acapella and guests, takes place Saturday Oct 26 cq/ts at the Center for Arts, 14 Summer St., Natick. The show begins at 8 p.m.; tickets are $22, or $20 for TCAN members. For tickets or information, call 508-647-0097 or go to www.natickarts.org.

-- Halloween Open House at Dana Hall School of Music, 103 Grove St. in Wellesley, is next Sunday, (October 27)2-4 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged; call 781-237-6542 or e-mail music@danahall.org.

-- Pumpkin Patch, a seasonal party held annually by the Sudbury Valley Trustees at Wolbach Farm on Wolbach Road in Sudbury, is scheduled for Saturday(Oct 26). Admission is free for SVT members; $2 per person for nonmembers, with a family maximum of $10. For more details, call 978-443-5588 or go online to www.svtweb.org.

-- Decorate a Bag at Artbeat, 212A Mass Ave. in Arlington, Saturday (Oct 26)from noon to 7 p.m., and next Sunday (Oct 27) from noon to 5 p.m. Admission and supplies are free. For more information, call 781-646-2200 or go to www.artbeatonline.com.

-- Halloween Family Day at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, on the Regis College campus at 235 Wellesley St. in Weston, takes place Saturday (Oct 26)from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 781-768-8367 or go to www.spellman.org.

-- Welcome to Our [Halloween] Home at the Orchard House, 399 Lexington Road, Concord, offers a special after-hours tour Saturday scheduled for Saturday(Oct 26)from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. Admission $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students, $8 for ages 6-17, and $4 for ages 2-6. A family rate for two adults and up to four youths for this event will be offered at $30. Space is limited; reservations can be made by calling 978-369-4118, ext. 106; for more information, go to www.louisamayalcott.org.

-- Tales of the Night at Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, 208 South Great Road in Lincoln, takes place Thursday and Friday (Oct 24 and 25)from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $11 before Wednesday, Oct. 23, or after that for $13. Call 781-259-2218 or go to www.massaudubon.org/drumlin.

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