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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.

Groton School students have an angelic connection with village in Tanzania

December 24, 2013 12:19 PM
A Village of Angels Connects Groton With Tanzania (via The Groton Line)

Christmas angels are a common Christian holiday theme … and it turns out Groton is an important hub of angelic activity, not just in December but all year ’round. Groton School student Lucy Brainard visited Tanzania two summers ago as part of a…

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…

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…

MassDevelopment has issued a $75 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Groton School

November 26, 2013 04:01 PM
MassDevelopment Issues $75M Bond to Groton School for “Schoolhouse” Renovation and to Refiance Bonds (via The Groton Line)

MassDevelopment has issued a $75 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Groton School, a five-year coeducational college-preparatory school, to renovate its Schoolhouse building and to refund prior bond issuances. MassDevelopment, the state’s finance…

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

-- 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

-- 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 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

-- 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

-- 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

-- 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

-- 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

-- 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

-- 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

Republican candidates in race to succeed Edward Markey in Congress answer questions

October 7, 2013 04:55 PM

Republican candidates in the Fifth Congressional District want to take a seat in the House of Representatives with various goals, including reducing the federal deficit and auduting the nation’s central bank.

Republicans Frank Addivinola Jr., Michael Stopa and Tom Tierney alternately found difference with the national party in approach, and in the party’s stance on taxes.

The three candidates were given one week to respond to questions posed by the News Service. A similar questionnaire was given to the Democratic candidates.

QUESTION: What area of federal government is most in need of reform, and what specific changes would you recommend to improve it?

ADDIVINOLA: The area of government most in need of reform is entitlements. Commonly, the media immediately jumps on a Republican who says this, and marginalizes him/her as a non caring politician. Nothing could be further from the case in my instance. I come from a working class family who worked for everything they had, and I have continually bettered myself through education and hard work. I’d be the first person to lend a hand to a single mother in need, or to reach out to a disabled person with a helping hand or help someone who is out of work or facing other difficulties of life. But no one is ever made more successful, nor is given the self respect needed to be happy, with a hand out. With failed entitlement policy we have created a seemingly permanent class of people who are dependent on government for the essentials of living and seem unable to take the step to personal success, abundance and gratification. We need to create performance based measures for our social welfare programs, to make sure that, by giving, we are really helping. In addition to saving taxpayer money in the long run and shrinking the overall footprint of our government, it will first and foremost create the steps in the ladder of personal success that people in need can utilize so we can become prosperous, caring and giving society.

STOPA: There are many possible answers to this question, but I would put the Federal Reserve at the top of the list and the reform that is necessary is that it be audited.

TIERNEY: The budgeting process is truly out of control. We continue to run up huge annual deficits and few in Congress are willing to do anything about it. It's much easier to "kick the can down the road" and stick future generations with the consequences. We need tax increases now and spending reductions now to solve this problem.

QUESTION: Where have you found disagreement with national Republicans? Please name an instance and explain why you oppose the consensus formed within your party.

ADDIVINOLA: I am most at odds with the National GOP, not in specific policy issues, but in our inability to reach consensus. From my perspective, that task is not conceptually that difficult. It should be evident that our constituents, both Republican, Independent, and mainstream Democrat would be very happy with a party that dedicated itself to reducing waste, fraud, abuse and duplication. It is clear that those same people would be happier with less government intrusion into areas of their lives that is not required to maintain the national security. We, on both sides of the aisle, have lost the confidence of the American people because we don’t address the issues that affect people’s everyday lives. Giving people “things” offers a short term benefit quickly forgotten. Affording people opportunity creates greater success and long term happiness. You cannot regulate opportunity, nor can you legislate innovation. Opportunity and innovation drive this economy, create jobs and provide the platform for individual success and overall happiness. We need to coalesce around these issues first.

STOPA: The question assumes that there exists a single voice of the Republican Party. Just as in life, there are many voices that make up the voice of this nation. And all of those voices must be heard. Nothing is more contrary to Democracy than a monolithic approach to problem solving. H.L. Menken once said that, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." Republicans in Massachusetts expect certain positions from their leadership that may differ from those of Republicans in Texas. What every Republican should demand, what every American should demand, is leadership and courage of convictions.

My goal in Washington is to elevate the level of discourse. As Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” This applies without regard to party lines or ideologies. The House of Representatives is a great deliberative body worthy of such an approach. My 19 years of marriage tell me that one should not expect to get everything we want out of a negotiation and that compromise is imperative. But that compromise is based upon mutual respect and solid conviction. It is a two way street. Name calling and gross characterizations may be useful to generate sound bites but it is no way to work together to resolve the great issues that face our nation and indeed the world.

TIERNEY: I disagree with the Republication insistence that the Bush-Cheney tax cuts should continue. Their enactment was a mistake since the expected "trickle down" never occurred - - the rich just got richer; the poor got poorer; and our annual Federal deficit and our accumulated National debt have just exploded out of sight.

We need two-step tax reform: First, we should return immediately to the Year 2000 Clinton-Gringrich tax rates; and Second, we need a complete re-write of the Internal Revenue Code.

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