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20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses awarded in Mass.

January 31, 2014 12:24 PM

State health officials Friday released the names of companies that will receive the first 20 licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.

In Middlesex County, licenses will go to facilities slated for Lowell, Ayer, Newton, and Cambridge. In Norfolk County, the locations are in Brookline and Quincy. In Suffolk County, two are slated in Boston.

In Plymouth county, licenses will go to facilities slated for Plymouth and Brockton. And in Worcester County, the locations are in Milford and Worcester. In Essex County, they are slated in Salem and Haverhill.

Here are the others: Mashpee and Dennis in Barnstable County; Taunton and Fairhaven in Bristol County; Holyoke in Hampden County; and Northampton in Hampshire County.

Counties without a selected dispensary include Berkshire, Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket.

Brockton woman charged with stealing goods, then a car in Hingham

January 7, 2014 11:32 AM

078.jpgMelissa L  Brand Booking ImageCAOJE46I.jpg

Hingham Police

A woman accused of stealing from Derby Street and fleeing police got stuck in a snow bank.

A Brockton woman, previously convicted of shoplifting and fleeing Hingham police, will face numerous charges after allegedly stealing a car and then leading police on a chase through several South Shore towns.

According to police, the incident began in Rockland around 6:30 p.m. Monday, when a car was stolen while left running outside a convenience store.

Officers were able to track the car using the GPS on the car owner’s phone, and followed the signal to Derby Street Shoppes.

According to police, officers attempted to stop the car while it was waited in a line of traffic to exit the plaza. But the driver refused to obey, and turned onto Derby Street heading east toward Whiting Street, police said.

Hingham officers began to pursue the suspect as she drove down Whiting Street and turned right onto Pond Street into Norwell.

The pursuit continued onto Hingham Street in Rockland and onto VFW Drive, where the driver lost control. Police said she spun out and became stuck in a snow bank on the right side of the road.

Police said the driver initially refused to turn off the engine and attempted to dislodge the car from the snow bank, but the car remained stuck. Hingham Police, Rockland Police, and Massachusetts State Police eventually took the suspect into custody.

The driver, who was uninjured in the crash, admitted that she had been shoplifting at Derby Street Shoppes, police said. Inside the car, officers found 47 items worth over $1,000 stolen from Victoria’s Secret. Officers also said they found three pairs of Ugg boots in a Shoe Market bag, with a receipt showing they had been purchased using the stolen car owner’s credit card.

The stolen car, a 2007 Pontiac G6, was towed from the scene.

Melissa L. Brand, 27, from Brockton was charged with receiving a stolen vehicle, two counts of larceny over $250, improper use of a credit card over $250, driving with a revoked license (subsequent offense – revoked due to being a habitual traffic offender, police said), operating to endanger, failure to stop for police, a marked lanes violation, and speeding.

Police said the woman also had an outstanding default warrant for larceny under $250 from Brockton District Court.

Brand was held without bail overnight by the Clerk Magistrate, and is to be arraigned today at Hingham District Court.

Brand faces additional charges from both the Rockland and Brockton Police.

Police said it isn’t the first time Brand has fled from police after a larceny at Derby Street.

According to police, Brand was previously convicted of attempting to run over a Hingham officer after shoplifting at Kohl’s in the plaza on June 24, 2012.

Police said Brand had refused to stop for officers, who jumped out of the way of the car to avoid being hit. Officers lost sight of the car as it drove into Norwell during the pursuit, but later identified Brand as the driver.

Brand turned herself in to police several days later on the six charges, including four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon (the car). Police said Brand was found guilty on all charges and served a year in jail.

Braintree Scanner Tales: Drug arrest, car accident, bank robbery

December 26, 2013 02:55 PM

Lynn man charged with drug possession

A Lynn man was arrested Dec. 19 on charges that he was allegedly dealing drugs.

According to police, officers were conducting surveillance near Granite Street when they saw the suspect’s car turn onto Granite from Davis Road. A vehicle registration query revealed that the car had failed inspection.

Officers stopped the car. During the stop, police said they found a pill bottle containing heroin, cocaine, and crack cocaine, along with a Clonazepam pill.

Miguel A. Matos, 43, from Lynn was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, and Clonazepam.

OUI accident causes power outage

A 33-year-old Brockton woman will be summonsed to court after allegedly driving drunk and crashing into a Braintree utility pole, cutting power to local residents.

Police said that shortly before 2 a.m. on Dec. 21, officers received a call of a single car accident.

The operator had allegedly drove off the road and struck a utility pole, snapping the pole in half.

When officers responded, the woman was conscious and alert, police said. The utility pole was resting on the roof of the car and the wires were live.

Braintree fire fighters and Fallon Ambulance medics removed the woman from her vehicle after Braintree Electric Light Department cut power to the area.

A section of Washington Street from Common Street to Elm Street was closed for several hours while crews replaced the pole. Local residents were also without power for several hours.

Police said the woman, whose name has not yet been released, was transported to South Shore hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. She will face charges of operating under the influence of alcohol, operating to endanger, and a marked lanes violation.

Police search for bank robber

Police are looking for the man accused of robbing the Braintree Cooperative Bank on Washington Street on Dec. 23.

According to police, a white man in his 40s entered the bank at approximately 2:25 p.m. and passed the teller a note that demanded money.

Police said no weapon was shown, but the man claimed to be armed.

The teller gave the man a sum of money and he fled out the back door. Bank employees indicated that he resembled a man wanted for bank robberies in Needham and Stoughton.

Police are on the lookout for the suspect. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Braintree Police.

Steward Hospitals, workers come to agreement on contract

December 17, 2013 05:05 PM

With 96 percent support, close to 5,000 health care workers who work at eight eastern Massachusetts hospitals ratified a new contract with Steward Health Care, the union SEIU 1199 announced Tuesday.

The agreement between workers and hospitals from Methuen to Taunton is the largest union vote since “tens of thousands of homecare workers voted to join SEIU in 2007,” according to the union, which said the 2007 vote was the biggest in the state’s history.

The vote sets in place a three-year contract for workers at Saint Elizabeth’s Medical
Center in Brighton; Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton; Carney Hospital in Dorchester; Quincy Medical Center; Norwood Hospital; Holy Family Hospital in Methuen; Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill; and Morton Hospital in Taunton.

Steward hospital workers at Nashoba Valley Medical Center in Ayer; Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River; and New England Sinai Hospital in Stoughton have not organized to join a union, the SEIU stated.

“This agreement is a victory for healthcare workers and includes provisions that will continue to improve and reward the remarkable care that 1199SEIU caregivers at Steward hospitals deliver to our communities,” said 1199SEIU Executive Vice President Veronica Turner in a statement.

The three-year agreement covers clerical, service and technical employees; guarantees union members annual 2 percent pay increases; and requires that the “lower-wage hospital workers covered by the pact” receive at least a living wage. The contract was ratified over recent weeks at various locations.

- A. Metzger/SHNS

Citizens Bank grants to support groups working to combat homelessness

December 16, 2013 10:39 AM

Four-hundred thousand-dollars in grants were recently distributed by Citizens Bank to 20 local non-profits that serve homeless individuals and families.

The money, which was awarded by the Citizens Bank Foundation, is part of the company’s “Citizens Helping Citizens Provide Shelter” initiative.

“We understand that homelessness is a pervasive and complex issue that demands the attention of corporations, non-profits and government to help our neighbors in need,” Jerry Sargent, president of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Massachusetts, said in a statement. “That is why we invest in community partners that play key roles in both helping people before they get to that point and locating, engaging and providing shelter and services to those who are homeless across Massachusetts.”

The money, which was distributed to non-profits throughout Massachusetts, will support a number of local organizations including Hearth, Inc., Victory Programs, and Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion.

“Citizens Bank should be commended for the active role it has taken in strengthening communities through funding non-profits and working with government to meet the needs of the Commonwealth,” Barbara Fields, the New England regional administrator for HUD, said in a statement "Local housing and service providers in Massachusetts are on the front lines of helping us battle homelessness and they need help if we're going to cross the finish line."

Below is a list of the recipients:

•HAP, Inc. - $50,000
•St. Francis House - $40,000
•Pine Street Inn - $30,000
•Hearth, Inc. - $25,000
•Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion - $25,000
•Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, Inc. - $25,000
•Neighborhood Housing Services of the South Shore - $20,000
•Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, Inc. - $20,000
•Father Bill's & MainSpring Inc. - $20,000
•Citizens Housing & Planning Association - $20,000
•Victory Programs - $20,000
•Greater Boston Legal Services, Inc. - $20,000
•New England Center for Homeless Veterans - $15,000
•Abby Kelley Foster House - $10,000
•Bridge Over Troubled Waters - $10,000
•Friends of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, Inc. - $10,000
•The Boston Home - $10,000
•Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership - $10,000
•Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation - $10,000
•Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance - $10,000

Email Patrick D. Rosso, Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Tattoo, body piercing shops would get statewide health regulations under Quincy Rep's bill

December 3, 2013 05:22 PM

Body piercing and tattoo shops would need a state license and be subject to statewide health regulations, under legislation being considered by lawmakers in an attempt to prevent the contraction of blood-borne diseases.

Currently, body piercing and tattooing is an unlicensed profession and there are no statewide regulations imposed on businesses, according to Rep. Bruce Ayers, a Quincy Democrat who filed the legislation (H 1889).

All body art, including piercing and tattoos, is regulated at the local level, according to a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health. Some communities have passed local ordinances regulating body piercing and tattoos, while others have not.

“We are not trying to prohibit or prevent anyone from getting their body pierced,” Ayers said during a committee hearing Tuesday.

He said his legislation would make sure the procedures are done in a clean, safe place to protect people. Without regulations, people who get their body pierced are at risk for blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, HIV, tuberculosis, mouth and gum diseases, or allergic reactions, Ayers said.

In 2000, a state court deemed body art to be constitutionally protected freedom of expression, overturning a 38-year-old state ban.

After the ruling, DPH crafted model regulations for tattoos and body piercing that local boards of health could adopt, but without a state law municipalities were not bound to pass any regulations, or could adopt rules that differ from neighboring communities.

Many local officials do not think about the need for regulation until a shop opens in their town, according Sen. John Keenan (D-Quincy), co-chair of the Public Health Committee.

Asked if he knew of any problems, Keenan said he sees the potential for a problem. He said most piercing businesses would not object to regulations.

“Most people who do it and do it the right way are generally not concerned about regulations,” Keenan said after the hearing.

Shops that do not follow proper health standards give others a bad reputation and reason for concern, Keenan said.

Ayers said he became aware of a lack of regulations several years ago when a business opened in North Quincy, and the Quincy City Council received calls from concerned parents. Ayers’ legislation uses the ordinance crafted by Quincy officials as a model for statewide regulations.

Ayers said he has heard “terrible” stories about young people getting infections from piercings, and not telling their parents because they did not ask for their permission. Anyone under 18 years old must have parental consent for piercing – something that is not always enforced, according to Ayers. The legislation would enforce parental consent and a client’s release form acknowledgement.

Also under the legislation, tattoo artists and body piercing professionals would be required to undergo education and training, as well as mandatory apprenticeship programs.

Those who would be exempt from the legislation include physicians who perform body art as part of patient treatment in a medically accepted manner, and individuals who pierce an earlobe with a pre-sterilizing, single-use stud and clasp ear piercing system without the use of a piercing gun.

Lawmakers on the Public Health Committee recommended similar legislation in last session and it failed to advance in the House and Senate.

Wellesley College releases Spanish language version of its college cost estimator

November 25, 2013 06:56 PM
For Spanish-Speaking Parents of College Hopefuls, a New Tool to Forecast College Costs (via PR Newswire)

Wellesley is the first liberal arts college to offer Spanish-language estimates of expected costs, taking into account financial aid WELLESLEY, Mass., Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Wellesley College has released a new, Spanish-language version…

Governor Patrick announces $27 million for Massasoit Community College health building

November 25, 2013 03:29 PM

The following is a press release from the Massasoit Community College

Brockton, MA (November 22, 2013) - Governor Deval Patrick announced on Wednesday at the Metro South Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, held at the Massasoit Conference Center, a $27.4M appropriation for Massasoit Community College to construct a Health Sciences building. This new building will provide much needed teaching and lab space and will allow Massasoit to expand its allied health programs. Additionally, with the new space, Massasoit will be able to introduce students to the latest technology in laboratory, diagnostic, and medical simulation in Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Respiratory, Polysomnography, Medical Assisting, and Phlebotomy programs. It will also enhance the College’s capacity to meet projected workforce needs and to explore the possibility of new programs and courses. “Growth requires investment, and these investments in education, infrastructure, and open space will bring growth and opportunity to the Metro South area and beyond,” said Governor Patrick.

Massasoit Community College President, Dr. Charles Wall said, “The College has been given an unprecedented and unique opportunity to expand our main campus in a way that we have not been able to do since the second phase of building construction in the late 1970s. Though our growth has taken our physical presence to Canton and to Middleborough, and though we will continue to reach to places in the region where we are most needed, this funding creates an expansion possibility right here at the Brockton campus.” Massasoit offers the only Radiologic Technology and Respiratory Care Programs in the southeastern region of the state, and was the first to offer a 2-year Polysomnography degree program in the Northeast. 30% of the College’s 2013 graduates received Allied Health/Science degrees. Growth in the sciences is up 39% from the 2006 academic year and has outpaced overall College growth. The new building will allow the College to create new programs and courses in such areas as medical laboratory technician, biotechnology, and nutrition. There is a great need for additional laboratory facilities in general biology, physics, chemistry, and earth sciences. Having additional space for our health programs will enable the repurposing of converted space in the existing science building both to meet these needs and to expand current science programming. Anatomy and physiology and microbiology is also likely to move to the new building, which will further ease congestion in health and science programs and classrooms resulting from increased enrollments; Liberal Arts Transfer-Science is one of the College’s fastest growing programs, with a 35% increase over last year, and more than five times as many students as it had just four years ago.

Slot parlor operators look to make deals with surrounding towns

November 21, 2013 06:35 PM

Prospective slots parlor developers in Raynham and Leominster will be required to negotiate surrounding community agreements with the towns of Bridgewater and Bolton, respectively, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission decided Thursday.

Other municipalities around the proposed Parx Raynham and Cordish Companies slot parlors failed to meet the surrounding community designation, but if a slot parlor’s operations are determined to have a detrimental effect on a nearby town, they would be able to draw out of an estimated $15 million to $20 million mitigation funding, commission chairman Stephen Crosby said.

“They will have an opportunity to come to us and tap into that money,” Crosby said.

The Raynham developers already designated Middleborough, Easton, Foxborough and West Bridgewater as surrounding communities, which requires the slots parlor to work out an arrangement with the towns. Raynham worked out agreements with Taunton and nearby agreements with Rehoboth, Berkley and Lakeville. Nearby agreements are with places that do not meet the definition of surrounding community, according to a gaming official.

Cordish Companies has reached agreements with Lancaster, Lunenburg, Westminster and Princeton. Penn National Gaming, which is hoping to build a slots parlor at the Plainridge Racecourse, has deals with Mansfield, North Attleboro and Wrentham and has designated Foxborough a surrounding community but has yet to work out an agreement.

Other municipalities sought surrounding community designations, but were not deemed to meet the definition, including Fitchburg, despite what Crosby described as an “impassioned” letter from Mayor Lisa Wong.

Gaming developers have 30 days to negotiate agreements with municipalities that receive surrounding community status, and if no deal is worked out both sides enter binding arbitration with the Gaming Commission.

Penn National agreed to give preference to Wrentham residents and businesses in hiring and contracting, study the impacts of the slots parlor on the nearby town and then fund mitigation for those impacts.

Cordish agreed to pay Lunenburg $5,000 per year, with the amount increasing by 1 percent annually, and a sliding scale of revenue sharing up to 1 percent if the slots parlor makes $275 million per year. Cordish also agreed to use union labor for construction, give hiring preferences and reimburse nearby fire and police departments for responses to the site.

Licensing of the state’s first slot parlor is on track for early January, Crosby said. The commission is scheduled to issue the lone slots license first, followed by casino licenses for the east and west of the state, and finally a license for the southeast.

Negotiations with surrounding communities could be hairier during the licensing of casinos as there are already tensions between host communities and abutting cities.

The remaining potential contenders in the east, Wynn Resorts in Everett and the portion of Suffolk Downs located in Revere, have vastly different relationships with Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who will hand over the reins of government to Mayor-elect Marty Walsh in January.

Everett and Revere also border one another, connected by Route 16, making them potential surrounding communities of one another.

A backer of Suffolk Downs, Menino tried and failed to use a wedge of land technically located in Boston as a means to block the Everett proposal. Menino, who resisted calls to put the Suffolk Downs vote to the entire city, saw the East Boston neighborhood bat down the proposal on election night.

Officials in Medford next door to Everett have criticized the proposed development, and across the river in Somerville, Mayor Joe Curtatone is one of the leaders in an effort to repeal the 2011 gaming law that provided for casinos.

Springfield, the host city for a proposed MGM casino, is across the river from West Springfield, which voted down a Hard Rock proposal to build a casino there.

Dighton sought surrounding community status for the Raynham slots, and Sterling sought the status for its proximity to the proposed Leominster slots. Proximity as the crow flies is not the primary consideration for the commission, as commission staff noted that although the Sterling town line is within a quarter mile from the proposed establishment, the slots parlor would be on a dead-end, and the closest residential neighborhood in Sterling would be a 5-mile commute via an interstate.

Fitchburg had also argued strenuously for mitigation from Cordish.

“The city does not possess the internal planning, economic development and legal resources necessary to identify all known impacts and to negotiate a Surrounding Community Agreement due to significant budget constraints. This is exacerbated by Cordish’s unwillingness to negotiate with the City and the potential for arbitration as a result,” Fitchburg officials wrote.

The letter signed by Wong said, “Preliminary reviews of information indicate that cities and towns located within a 10-mile radius of gambling facilities, with a higher than average poverty level, are more adversely affected by the introduction of those venues.”

In response to an email from a Fitchburg attorney Bruce Tobey, the head of the gaming company advised city officials to visit Cordish properties in Maryland and Florida, and questioned their concern.

“We do not need to revisit Fitchburg to agree that it is depressed economically. We have been there countless times,” David Cordish wrote. “Mass Live did not create these problems. Is the City somehow contending that we are the cause of Fitchburg’s problems today.”

Crosby said the commission would fund studies to measure the impact of gaming establishments and could award dollars from the mitigation fund, which would be fed the state’s share of gaming revenue.

Brockton woman charged after man struck and killed in breakdown lane of Route 128 in Reading

November 20, 2013 06:34 PM

The following is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney

A Brockton woman has been charged with motor vehicle homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol after she allegedly struck and killed a man who had pulled over into the breakdown lane of Route 128 in Reading last night, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced today.

Mary Grigoriadis, 32, of Brockton, was arraigned today in Woburn District Court on charges of motor vehicle homicide and operating under the influence of alcohol. Woburn District Court Judge Marianne Hinkle ordered the defendant held on $10,000 cash bail with a condition of no driving.

Her next court date is January 17 for a pre-trial hearing.

“This defendant’s reckless actions have had tragic consequences,” said District Attorney Ryan. “Anytime a person gets behind the wheel after consuming alcohol they put themselves and others at risk. This is an unfortunate reminder that there are still drivers who have not heeded the warnings regarding the risks presented by consuming alcohol and driving. Our thoughts today remain with the victim’s family and friends.”

At approximately 8:20 p.m. Tuesday, Reading Police and Reading Fire officials responded to Route 128 north near Exit 38 for a report of a car crash. Upon arrival, police discovered the victim appeared to have been struck by a vehicle while he was outside of his vehicle, which was pulled over in the breakdown lane.

The victim, Vittorio Recupero, 71, of Wakefield, suffered extensive injuries and was transported to Lahey Clinic in Burlington where he was later pronounced dead.

Authorities allege that a Toyota Scion, driven by the defendant, was traveling in the right lane just prior to the collision. It is alleged that the defendant struck Recupero and his vehicle, a Hyundai Tucson. While being interviewed by police, the defendant exhibited signs of being under the influence of alcohol and failed multiple sobriety tests. She was arrested and charged.

The case is being investigated by Reading Police and Massachusetts State Police.

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