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Hingham woman accused of leading high-speed chase through 3 towns

February 28, 2014 02:43 PM

By Jessica Bartlett, Boston.com Staff

Hiigh-speed chase through three towns
A 55-year-old woman from Hingham was arrested on Feb. 21 after allegedly driving under the influence and leading police on a high-speed chase through Scituate, Cohasset and Hingham.

Police said an officer was doing a routine patrol of Scituate streets when he saw a light-colored Subaru in the middle of the Route 3A rotary with its hazard lights flashing.

The officer approached the driver’s side door and asked if the car was broken down or if the woman needed help. Police said the driver, Kimberly S. Davis, did not respond to the officer, and instead put the vehicle into "drive" and drove off.

“I then jumped backwards to avoid being run over by the motor vehicle,” Officer Taylor Billings said in his report. “I then observed Davis run over the traffic island and then bounce over to the other side of the road and drive over the sidewalk (which is elevated very high) and proceed onto Route 3A northbound.”

The officer said he tried to catch up with the vehicle but couldn’t. He radioed to dispatch the vehicle description and a license plate number.

An officer in the area said he had spotted the vehicle and tried to pull the car over, but the driver wouldn’t stop.

Scituate Police notified Cohasset police as the vehicle continued north on Route 3A, followed by several police cars.

“Several motor vehicle violations were committed in our town as well as speeds in excess of 100+ mph/posted 50 mph,” officers said in the report.

Once the suspect crossed into Cohasset, two Cohasset cruisers were waiting at the town line. Police said more violations occurred in Cohasset and kept going into Hingham.

The car was eventually stopped in Hingham, with Hingham Police deploying “spike strips” to flatten the vehicle’s front tires. The vehicle ultimately came to a stop in the middle of the roadway at the intersection of Fottler Road and Beal Street.

Hingham police took the suspect into custody. One Hingham officer said there was an open, half-empty bottle of Malbec wine on the center console.

Scituate police gained custody of the suspect and had a tow truck bring the suspect’s car back to Scituate.

Police said the suspect failed sobriety tests at Scituate Police Station.

Davis was charged with a marked lanes violation, speeding, operating under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, driving with an open container of alcohol, failure to stop for police, and assault with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle).

She will face charges in Cohasset and Hingham, police said.

Man arrested for alleged assault with gun
A 37-year-old Scituate man was charged with assault after allegedly attacking his roommate with a gun.

Police said a man walked into the Scituate Police Department lobby at 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 21 bleeding from his face and arms.

The victim said his roommate and he had been drinking heavily, and eventually the victim went to bed. At some point, the victim heard the suspect calling his wife names and screaming at her.

According to police, the victim said he went downstairs to ask the suspect to be quiet and discovered the suspect holding a knife in a threatening manner.

The victim told police he feared for his life so he retrieved a Mossberg Pump Action Shotgun from his room and went down the stairs.

The victim and suspect started to struggle and the suspect was able to overpower the victim and grab hold of the shotgun. Police said the victim reported he was then struck in the head with the butt end of the shotgun.

The victim said he ran away from the suspect and to his car, driving to the Scituate Police Department.

The victim said though the gun wasn’t loaded, the suspect might know where the ammunition was.

Several officers subsequently went to the Clifton Avenue house, with one officer calling the house telephone to speak with the woman. Police said the suspect answered and would not put the woman on the phone.

Police said they forced their way into the house with guns drawn as they feared for the second victim’s safety.

The suspect was arrested and taken into custody. Police found the shotgun under several pillows on a couch.

According to police, the suspect was uncooperative and combative. He was later transported to South Shore Hospital after screaming that he was ill and needed medical assistance, police said.

Adam J. Coty, 37, from Scituate was charged with assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on someone over the age of 60, and two counts of carrying a dangerous weapon (the knife and the gun).

Despite higher costs, South Shore officials praise regional dispatch center

January 30, 2014 11:05 AM

A projected five percent increase in the budget for the regional emergency dispatch center based in Hingham hasn’t altered local opinions of the entity’s worth, with local managers still confident that operational gains have outweighed monetary losses.

Budgets have been a concern for most of the four communities that joined the South Shore Regional Emergency Communications Center between 2011 and 2013, with planned savings and cost efficiencies never really materializing.

Despite that trend continuing into the next fiscal year, town administrators said the center has provided tangible value.

"I think it's working fantastic," said Norwell Town Administrator James Boudreau. "We can point to at least two if not three incidents where [emergency medical dispatchers] saved someone’s life over the phone. We’re providing a much higher level of service than was provided by the tour towns individually."

Boudreau also said the dispatch center's metrics were above state averages.

He isn't alone in his support. In Hingham, town officials said the ability to handle multiple emergencies at the same time has been invaluable.

“The ability for dispatchers to handle a multitude of calls, emergencies at the same time, to provide emergency med dispatch abilities, to have the same equipment in four towns for larger scale issues - there are a tremendous amount of benefits,” said Hingham Town Administrator Ted Alexiades in a phone interview.

Hingham has seen the biggest budgetary difference. In fiscal 2014, which began last July 1, Hingham’s allocation for the dispatch center was $675,000.

That compares with about $456,000 in fiscal 2011, the last year Hingham ran a separate dispatch center. (The fiscal 2011 number was about $50,000 lower than usual, due to one-year cutbacks.)

In Cohasset, the emergency dispatch operating budget totaled $239,353 in fiscal 2011 (the cost of benefits was not available) and was set to total about $250,000 in fiscal 2014 (which does include benefits).

In Norwell, operations and benefits costs will fall from $465,000 in fiscal 2011 to $325,000 in fiscal 2014. These numbers, however, do not reflect a related $200,000 increase in the police budget.

Hull is the only community that has seen substantial savings. Its dispatch center spent more than $486,000 for operations and benefits in fiscal 2011, and that number has dropped to $355,000 in fiscal 2014.

Each of these budgets is expected to increase approximately five percent in fiscal 2015, largely due to the settling of a union contract with the dispatchers and the need to buy additional software.

Hull Town Administrator Phillip Lemnios has said previously that cost was not the primary driver for the center, and he wasn't surprised by the recent increases.

“There are some technical issues that need to be addressed. Some of the items purchased are coming off warranty, we need to make [plans] for those things,” he said.

Cohasset Town Manager Christopher Senior was not available for comment.

Increases won’t only be limited to the first few years. Because software and technology is so heavily utilized, some aspects will have to be updated every three to five years.

“This is a unique operation, in that a lot of this stuff is in use constantly,” Lemnios said.

Alexiades agreed that budgets will likely be on the rise for some time. “The only way to save money on the center long term is to grow it, which is a benefit to us and the new member communities that join,” Alexiades said.

No discussions have begun on expanding the dispatch center, though those conversations may begin in the next year.

“The state has provided us with over $5 million to build out that [center] with the newest and best technology. I do think that other communities will look at that for the resource it is, if we can match the cost of their or beat the cost of their service they are expending,” Alexiades said.

Costs may go down for some present communities in the center through discussions over the budget allocation, though those discussions are still a ways off, Alexiades said.

Photo gallery: Elizabeth Warren talks about flood insurance

January 26, 2014 01:55 AM

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Photos by Jessica Bartlett, Boston.com staff

US Senator Elizabeth Warren visited Marshfield on Jan. 21 to discuss potential changes to flood-insurance regulations that have sharply raised premiums for many South Shore residents.

Click here to see photos from Warren's visit.

Rough beginnings give way to successful regional dispatch, officials say

December 23, 2013 05:13 PM

A year after four South Shore towns combined their emergency dispatch operations, managers said emergency response is finally working as intended.

“Calls are up, complaints are down,” summarized Hingham Town Administrator Ted Alexiades.

The progress is a far cry from where things started in August 2012, when Hingham, Hull, Cohasset, and Norwell finalized the multi-town initiative.

Though regionalization was intended to generate efficiencies, the dispatch center budget was higher than anticipated for three out of the four towns in fiscal year 2014 – the first full year the center would be in operation.

Operational problems also persisted.

Difficult transitions with new software and new operating procedures intensified training difficulties and personnel issues, officials said. Managers also reported that dispatcher contract negotiations resulted in morale issues.

Negotiations are still ongoing, but Maureen Shirkus, executive director for the Center, said other growing pains have all but dissipated.

“Training issues have turned the corner,” Shirkus said in a phone interview. “…There was a learning curve we all had to go through with the equipment we were using. You had to learn the geography of every town. You can teach someone that but it takes time and exposure to it.”

While the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget has not lessened – Alexiades reported a 5 percent increase in the requested budget due to increased staffing requests and software upgrades, other measures point to success.

Staff said improvements have been seen in emergency medical dispatch – requiring medical instruction to be given on the phone while police or fire is being dispatched – due to increased staff. Response times have also improved due to centralized operations and new technology, staff said.

Complaints from staff are also down as internal problems have dwindled, Shirkus said.

Repetition has helped solve many of the problems, but internal changes have also created improvements. Shirkus said dispatchers are now assigned by department, rather than dispatching all calls by town.

“One day you’re a fire dispatcher, the next you’re a police dispatcher…that has helped,” Shirkus said. “If you’re doing Hingham and Norwell Fire Departments, they do a lot of mutual aid, you know who is where and what’s going on.”

Fire and Police chiefs have also made an effort to familiarize themselves and their crews with dispatchers, developing relationships with the new people on the other end of the phone line.

Turnover has also helped bring in new dispatchers who are more adaptable than legacy employees, and work load redistribution has dispatchers multi-tasking less.

“[There were] little things like that we needed to learn, because no one had done it before… We’ve come a long way since we first opened the door,” Shirkus said.

Emergency responders outside the dispatch center agree that change has been for the better.

“We’re making good progress and we’ve made a lot of significant changes that have made life a bit better,” said Hingham Deputy Fire Chief Robert Olsson. “It’s to be expected when you take four towns and combine into one thing … you take a bit of time for people to adjust.”

In addition to streamlined operations, new technology - $5 million total given to the regional group from the state – has improved record management, Olsson said.

“The data has always been captured but our ability to use that data is significantly improved,” he said.

Hingham Deputy Police Chief Glenn Olsson also pointed to the technology as merely one of the new system’s benefits. Unlike before, officers can read calls on their computers before they are spoken over the radio, and respond faster to emergencies, he said.

Monthly meetings between all four towns have also increased communication and collaboration, he said.

Improvements are especially noticeable within storms, Olsson said, when call volumes are high and dispatch is able to operate unimpeded.

“Sometimes people get impatient. You want to turn the switch and have everything work. In real life, things never go as smoothly as you want to,” he said. “As long as people stay positive and keep moving forward, you end up with a good product. And it’s starting to show.”

Car drives through front of Cohasset Aubuchon Hardware

December 16, 2013 04:17 PM

A Scituate woman is facing charges of negligent operation after allegedly driving her vehicle into the front of the Aubuchon Hardware Store in Cohasset on Sunday.

According to police, the department's dispatcher received several calls at 3:45 p.m. for a vehicle that had crashed through the front glass window of the hardware store.

When officers arrived, they found a Honda in the middle of the store’s showroom. Officers spoke to the driver, who said she hit the wrong pedal while backing up to the front of the store.

Police said no one was injured in the accident, though there were “several people in the store that had to run for their lives,” said Cohasset Acting Police Chief William Quigley.

Further investigation showed that the woman had retrofitted the vehicle with a homemade pedal extender, taking a block of wood and using duct tape to attach it to the gas pedal.

“She’s only five feet tall and couldn’t reach pedals effectively,” Quigley said. “She got creative, apparently, and put this block on the pedal, and that contributed to the accident.”

The accident took out an entire aisle of fake Christmas trees and substantially damaged other merchandise, shelving, and a counter in the store, police said.

The building inspector determined that the building was still structurally sound despite the accident, Quigley said, and Aubuchon opened on Monday with plans to have the glass replaced.

Carol A. McGurl, 51, from Scituate, will be charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle for the alteration of the control pedals.

Quigley said McGurl, who will answer to the charges at Quincy District Court in coming weeks, had no driving record prior to this incident.

William McKeen to sign books at Cohasset Holiday Stroll

December 5, 2013 06:53 PM

Local author and Boston University Journalism chairman William McKeen posts this on Facebook:

Attention citizens of Boston's South Shore! I will be signing books during the Cohasset Holiday Stroll, Dec. 14, 4-7 pm at Twist, on Main Street in Cohasset Village. Come share a mug o' nog. To get a signed book, of course, you must buy it. Do';t forget that I have many children and they'd like to go back to three meals a day. Click on the post for more details. God bless us everyone!

http://www.williammckeen.com/News.html

Rep. Stephen Lynch urges delay on flood insurance rate increase

November 25, 2013 02:55 PM
Rep. Lynch Seeks Delay In Flood Insurance Hikes (via bunewsservice.com)

By Shujie Leng BU Washington News Service WASHINGTON — Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston, Tuesday afternoon asked the director of Federal Emergency Management Agency to delay a rate increase arising from recently enacted flood insurance legislation…

South Shore trains and ferries ramp up for Red Sox parade

November 1, 2013 12:15 PM

As revelers get ready to gather in Boston to celebrate the Boston's World Series win, South Shore MBTA routes are preparing to amp up service.

Service on the Red, Orange, Blue and Green lines will operate with rush hour levels of service beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Previously scheduled diversions between Kendall/MIT and Park Street Stations on the Red line have been canceled for Nov. 2 and 3. The commuter boat out of Hingham will also be running at maximum capacity.

“Please be advised that each boat trip has a maximum capacity of 149 passengers. Parade-goers may start purchasing the $16 round trip tickets this afternoon at the Hingham Shipyard ticket window,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pestaturo on Friday.

Customers are also encouraged to buy round trip or return tickets prior to their inbound trips to avoid long lines on their way home.

Commuter line trains will not be running out of Greenbush, Kingston, or Stoughton. However, patrons can catch commuter trains out of Worcester, Franklin/Forge Park, Providence, Middleboro/Lakeville, and a number of North Shore trains.

“Commuter Rail's Saturday schedule has been modified to provide special, pre-parade service with extra inbound trains in the morning,” MBTA officials said on their website. “In addition, capacity is being significantly increased along each line. Please expect variations in scheduled times due to increased ridership and allow extra time for your trip. The MBTA strongly urges parade-goers to take advantage of the earliest trains to avoid very heavy volume on subsequent trains.”

Each of those lines will return to their regular Saturday schedules at approximately 4 p.m.

Commuter Rail tickets can be purchase electronically via the mTicket mobile ticketing app at www.mbta.com/mticket beginning Friday, November 1 at 1:00 p.m.

For more information or train and boat schedules, click here.

The Red Sox parade will start at 10 a.m. at Fenway Park.

For more information on the parade, click here.

Survey seeks opinions on Norfolk County judges

October 21, 2013 10:00 AM

DEDHAM, Mass. (AP) — The state’s highest court is sending questionnaires to attorneys and court employees in Norfolk County, seeking input on 35 judges as part of an ongoing program to evaluate judicial performance.

The Supreme Judicial Court’s survey covers several categories including a judge’s knowledge of the law, fairness and impartiality, temperament on the bench and treatment of litigants, witnesses, jurors and attorneys.

Lawyers who have appeared in court in the county over the last two years will receive questionnaires.

All questionnaires are confidential and do not ask for the names of the respondents. The resulting reports also will be confidential and are given only to the judge being evaluated and to the chief justices of their courts.

Questionnaires will be accepted by the SJC through mid-December.

Deleo, Coakley file bill to limit amount of required flood insurance

October 16, 2013 02:16 PM

Worried about new federal flood insurance rules sparking another foreclosure crisis in Massachusetts, House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Attorney General Martha Coakley on Wednesday partnered to file legislation limiting the amount of insurance homeowners in the flood zone must purchase.

Though the Winthrop Democrat said the state-level action could blunt the impact of new federal flood insurance regulations, DeLeo said Congress must still act to further protect the expanded group of coastal residents and businesses and those living near lakes and rivers who are now required to purchase more comprehensive and costly insurance.

“People aren’t going to be able to pay their insurance, and as a result of that they’re going to lose their home unless we can convince our friends in Washington, which right now I guess they’re a little bit involved with a couple other issues, but they’re really going to have to get on the ball and address this,” DeLeo told reporters after meeting with House Democrats.

The bill filed by DeLeo and Coakley would limit the amount of flood coverage a homeowner or business must purchase to the value of the mortgage on the property, instead of the replacement value of the home. Creditors would also be prohibited from requiring coverage for contents of the home, or including a deductible less than $5,000.

Taking one of the only steps a state can to limit the amount of coverage required under federal guidelines, the Beacon Hill leaders hope to lower premiums for impacted homeowners, while retaining the option for consumers to purchase more coverage if they desire.

“These new flood insurance changes are going to devastate many families and businesses in our coastal communities,” Coakley said in a statement. “We continue to urge the federal government to delay implementing these changes until they’ve followed all the steps required by law.”

Coakley said she did not expect insurers to have a “huge complaint” with the legislation.

The Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 required the Federal Emergency Management Agency to redraw national flood maps, and eliminated various subsidies in the National Flood Insurance Program to ensure sustainability.

Critics, however, say the new maps have captured large swaths of real estate at little to no risk of flooding, forcing larger numbers of property owners to purchase insurance. New rules governing the required height of buildings and other structural requirements for properties in the flood zone have also driven up the price tags on policies.

Rep. James Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, recently provided the News Service with a copy of an insurance bill for a Scituate homeowner that spiked up to $68,000 under the new program. He called the new FEMA flood maps “ridiculous.”

The homeowner, Peg Sullivan, told the News Service that she previously paid a $1,300 premium for the same coverage.

“It’s hurting our Massachusetts builders. It’s hurting our Massachusetts realtors. Right now, all up and down the coast, we have essentially people are being frozen out. They can’t sell their homes, and people aren’t buying because there’s so much uncertainty about what their rates are going to be for their flood insurance. The speaker taking swift action right now is so warranted and so helpful and I’m thrilled to be joining with him,” Cantwell said.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey and the state’s entire Congressional delegation recently sent a letter to House and Senate leadership urging a delay in the Biggert-Waters reforms.

Cantwell said budget cuts limited FEMA's ability to review its surveys, and the government shutdown, which began Oct. 1, has placed on furlough the governmental affairs person at FEMA whom he speaks to about constituents' concerns. Scituate and Marshfield hired their own consultant to contest the FEMA maps.

Cantwell, whose bill (H 865) had a hearing last month calling on the Division of Insurance to regularly investigate the National Flood Insurance Program, said he’s “cautiously optimistic” that DeLeo’s bill can be heard and brought forward for a vote before the end of the year.

Though he made clear the “ultimate answer” must still come from Washington, DeLeo said he hopes that by tying the insurance requirements in Massachusetts to the value of a mortgage, property owners will fare “significantly better” than they would under the federal guidelines.

“We’re truly going to see people losing their homes, not from floods, but from flood insurance,” DeLeo said.

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