Despite opposition from some residents, the idea of naming the Hingham Town Hall complex after a Medal of Honor winner is moving ahead.
The issue has been discussed for over a year as locals debated how to recognize Navy man Herbert L. Foss, a Hingham resident who aided American efforts during the Spanish- American War.
After initial plans to rename Town Hall after Foss were harshly criticized, ideas circulated to rename the Town Hall Complex – which includes the Town Hall, senior center, police station, and Cronin Field – after him.
“It would be to name the Foss Civic Center and then there would be a hall of honor when you walk in the Town Hall,” said Jim Claypoole, chairman of the Herbert L. Foss Naming Committee.
That idea has also elicited grumbling, as well as an alternative suggestion to name a building at Hingham Shipyard after Foss. But Claypoole said his group still plans to submit a warrant article in January, in preparation for April Town Meeting.
The article would need a recommendation by the Board of Selectmen. Review by the Historical Commission and Veterans' Council is also unde rway.
A clearer vision of the memorial has coalesced in the last few weeks. Claypoole said the Town Hall entryway memorial would feature Foss alongside a feature for Hingham’s other Medal of Honor winner, Wilmon W. BLackmar. Blackmar, who vacationed in Hingham, was recognized for his role in the Civil War.
On the other side of the hallway would be photos of men who gave their lives in various conflicts.
“It would be done more professionally. Right now [photgraphs] are just hanging there,” Claypoole said. “I’d put some lighting up and make it a more prominent display. At the base of the stairway is the POW/MIA chair. This would end up being a hall of honor of people who did exceptional things.”
The plans eschew a suggestion by State Senator Robert Hedlund to name the pending Intermodal Station at the Hingham Shipyard after Foss.
In an email, Hedlund said the 8,400-square-foot, two-story intermodal transportation project, slated to be finished within the next two years, would be perfect for the seaman’s recognition.
“In my opinion, your suggestion to name the intermodal boat terminal is a stroke of genius!” agreed Government Study Committee member Edna Foss in an email. “I agree with those who wish to honor Seaman Foss, but believe strongly that the Hingham Town Hall should retain its current name.”
Yet Claypoole said there were no assurances that the state, which will own the building, would agree to rename the structure. The project timeline is also too far out, he said.
“For the last three years, I’ve been hearing people tell me 'Let’s do it later and do it somewhere else.' Later, to me, is no longer an option, and somewhere else is no longer an option,” he said.
Hedlund said he had no attachment to the intermodal suggestion, and in fact preferred to to rename a school, as is tradition in Weymouth. Hedlund simply hoped that at least something would be done soon.
“It’s a town issue, but my personal opinion is simply that recognition for Seaman Foss is long overdue,” Hedlund said in a phone interview. “He’s been forgotten and it’s important for future generations to understand his sacrifice and his role in history.”
Hingham police will charge three men with hunting violations after they allegedly were found shooting guns on conservation land last Friday.
An off-duty officer was walking near Moore Brewer Conservation Area, a town-owned property, at about 7:10 a.m., when he heard two gunshots coming from the woods, police said.
The officer called the station to report the incident and then walked into the woods to try to locate the sounds, police said.
Police said the officer came upon three people standing in the woods with shotguns.
“They were dressed hunters, [had] orange and camo on,” said Hingham Police Sergeant Steven Dearth.
The officer identified himself and asked that all three unload their weapons. When the officer asked what the men were doing, they said they were hunting deer.
According to Dearth, it is illegal to discharge firearms on town-owned property unless for self-defense or during the performance of duty.
Furthermore, hunters need approval from the Conservation Commission to hunt, and even then can only use a bow and arrow. Hunting is then authorized for certain areas and only during a certain time of years, depending on the animal.
The men were escorted off the conservation area once on-duty officers arrived, police said.
According to police, the men –- a 40 year old and 25 year old from Weymouth and a 28 year old from Braintree -- had licenses to possess firearms. However, all three will be charged for a violation of state law – firing a gun within 500 feet of a dwelling, and a town bylaw violation – discharge of firearm on town property.
Police said the men were 281 feet from the nearest house.
The names of the men have not been released, as they have not yet been charged, police said.
Though residents may be concerned about illegal hunting, Dearth said it is unusual to have any problems with hunters.
“The majority of hunters we deal with [follow the rules],” Dearth said. “This is rare, that we have violations like this with people being charged. Usually the hunters we deal with are following safe practices."
Hingham Police said the story of a lost credit card had an unusual ending on Monday after a man had second thoughts and returned the card to the victim.
According to police, a Hingham woman came to the station on Monday at 8 p.m. to report the incident, saying she had been shopping at Derby Street Shoppes that day and had misplaced her credit card.
Police said the woman didn’t realize her card was missing until she returned home that day, but by then, the card had already been returned.
According to police, a man had spoken to the woman’s teenage son, who had been home that afternoon. The man explained that he found the card and had used it to purchase a prepaid credit card .
The man told the son said he had been out of work for a while and figured he would used the money to buy Christmas presents, but felt guilty and decided to return the card to the owner, along with the unused one he had purchased, police said.
The man also left a note of explanation with the cards, probably because he didn't expect anyone to be home at that time, police said.
Sergeant Steven Dearth said the man did not leave his name, and police did not have a license plate to track him down, but, as the card had been found, the matter wasn't an open police investigation.
Dearth said it was unusual for a theft to end in this manner, and said conscience-laden criminals typically will put the card in the mail or simply not use it.
Police said the woman reported the incident because she was concerned how the man found her house, but police suspect the man simply searched the woman’s name.
Unlike his bothers Mark and Donnie, Paul Wahlberg is more likely to be behind a stove than in front of a camera.
Yet it’s a change that he’s quickly acclimated to with the new TV show Wahlburgers, premiering Jan. 22 at 10:30 p.m. on A&E.
“This is not anything I’ve ever been used to,” chef Paul Wahlberg said in a phone interview. “It’s been a challenge to keep moving with everything.”
A short teaser online showcases snapshots of the three Wahlberg brothers as they own and operate the Hingham-based Wahlburgers restaurant.
According to Paul Wahlberg, the show mainly highlights the Hingham locale, with mentions of expansion plans in Canada.
“[It’s] the day to day and the high jinks that go on with Mark and his buddies,” Wahlberg added. “… Right now, in the beginning, it’s about the business and all the stuff that goes on. Side stories revolve through each one.”
Mother Alma Wahlberg will appear in the show along with three of her sons, Wahlberg said. Numerous restaurant employees and even customers will also appear on screen.
Filming itself was sporadic. Crews would catch pieces of restaurant activity some days, and film lengthy interviews on others, Wahlberg said.
Yet in the two months since filming began, crews have already filmed majority of the show’s first season, Wahlberg said, leaving the chef to go back to his passion.
“The most important thing for me is the restaurant. Having them run and run properly,” Wahlberg said. “The other stuff is nice, but it’s a nice addition to the business. It’s a bit of a distraction.”
Though the kitchen may have been crowded during filming days, Wahlberg was complimentary of the crew. He added that it was nice to spend time with his brothers, even if, as executive producers of the show, they were in charge.
“They have been telling me what to do for a long time,” Wahlberg said with a laugh. “I do as I’m told, which is fine. It’s been a great experience.”
Unlike many Wahlberg movies, which often host premiers at the Hingham location, there aren’t any concrete plans for the premier of the TV show.
“I’ll probably be working,” Wahlberg joked.
Hingham Police have arrested a man, wanted since February, who allegedly scammed an elderly Hingham resident out of over $7,000.
In a release, Police Department officials said they have been investigating the thefts since October 2012, when an 87-year-old Hingham man reported he was the victim of a scam.
According to police, the victim was an inventor, and had joined an online networking company connecting him to other inventors.
The website allows members to see contact information for other members, police said, and in 2010, the victim received a call from a man claiming to be president of the networking company.
Police said that over several months, the suspect offered to sell the victim marketing services for the victim’s products in such newspapers as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post, and on websites such as Amazon and Google.
The suspect also allegedly offered to market the invention on an electronic billboard in Times Square for $18,000, police said.
Police said throughout 2010 and 2011, the victim used several credit cards to pay the man for $7,250 in marketing services. The victim told police the marketing services were never performed, and despite sending letters to the suspect asking for his money back, the victim received no response.
Hingham Police said a detective contacted the suspect, who is a resident of New York.
According to police, the suspect assured police that all the marketing work had been completed, but then laughed and said he would send the detective copies. Yet nothing was ever received, and additional phone calls to the suspect were not returned.
In February, police charged Francesco Ciaccio, 37, of New York with larceny over $250 by false pretense, and larceny from a person over 65. When Ciaccio didn’t respond to the charges, police issued a default warrant.
The warrant was soon entered into the National Crime Information Center, a nationwide law enforcement database, police said.
In early December, New York police arrested and held Ciaccio on the outstanding warrant. Police said he agreed to be transported to Massachusetts.
On. Dec. 10, Hingham detectives drove to New York and took the suspect into custody. He was booked in Hingham and arraigned the same day in Hingham District Court, police said.
Ciaccio was held on $7,500 cash bail, which he posted on Wednesday. He is due back in Hingham District Court on Jan. 9, police said.
Come Sunday, dozens of pet owners will line up at the Milton Animal Shelter for the chance to photograph Fido with Santa.
The tradition, going on 15 years, has been part of a successful campaign to raise money and awareness for the shelter, and the event has developed some cult-like followers.
“[There is] a core group, probably about 20, that come religiously and do it,” said Norm MacLeod, a shelter volunteer. “But it can vary depending on the weather. It could be even up to as many as 40 [people bringing pets].”
But Milton isn't the only place where pets can be photographed with Santa.
In the South Shore alone, the family dog, cat, ferret, guinea pig, and snake can sit on Santa’s lap in Braintree’s South Shore Plaza (Dec. 15 and 22, 8 p.m. to 9 p..m), and Hingham’s Shipyard (Unleashed, Dec. 14, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Not to mention Santa and pet photo events at the Hanover Mall and Independence Mall the first week of December, and Norwood’s Dirty Dawg Wash on Dec. 8.
“I received Christmas cards from people who have a picture of the family and it includes the dog and the cat,” MacLeod said. “I think people certainly are including the animal members of their family into their family.”
The South Shore Plaza, which typically expects well over 100 pet owners to visit Santa in the holiday season, even extended photo hours in 2012 with expectations that lines would be long.
Now in its fifth season, the mall is experiencing an equally successful turnout.
“It has been ongoing this season and it’s been very successful to date,” said Vicki Bartkiewicz, the Plaza’s director of mall marketing. “A lot of people bringing in their pets with all of their holiday dressings on.”
Bartkiewicz said one family brought in their five golden retrievers. Though in the past some more exotic animals have made appearances, 95 percent of participants this year are bringing dogs.
The local phenomenon points to a national trend.
“It really started to emerge five years ago,” said Charlotte Reed, a New York-based author and “petrendologist”.
Reed has seen rescue organizations as well as veterinarians offer the service as a perk for clients. Friends have given her photos of their grandchildren on Santa’s lap, to follow them up with pictures of the family dog in the same pose.
The trend is especially popular with those who don’t have children, or whose children are grown, Reed said; pets are the new family members.
“It’s something everyone loves to do and loved to do as a kid,” she said. “[The activity] brings pleasure to the pet owner and reminds them of a way to continue family tradition.”
Leslie May, Georgia-based pet expert and head of Pawsible Marketing, said the advent of technology has normalized “family member” pets as people connect to communities of others with similar mindsets.
Coupled with the high number of baby boomers and empty nesters who own pets, a pet photo with Santa is on its way to becoming the new norm.
“Pet stores are being more proactive about getting people into their stores this time of year. This is a great way to do it,” she said.
“It’s a new trend for some, but it’s not a new trend for others,'' Mays said. "I have a dog that’s 9 ½ and I took him 9 years ago to get his photo taken with Santa…[But] it seems like more people are doing it now.”
Whatever the reason, local organizations are just hoping their Santa experience will be a draw.
“This was to have a fun day that would have a variety of things for the kids, and provide an opportunity for people to bring their dogs to be seen and be remembered by shelter volunteers,” MacLeod said.
Hingham police said they are investigating a bomb threat made at a Hingham business that disrupted the workday for two hours on Tuesday.
Police said they received a call at 12:04 p.m. from 99 Industrial Park Rd., with employees saying there had been a threat.
The threat was made over the phone by a person trying to disguise his voice, employees told police. The suspect said the bomb would go off at 12:45 p.m., police said.
According to police, officers evacuated the business and checked the area, with Hingham firefighters on standby.
The State Police Bomb Squad was also called in with a police dog trained in explosive detection. The dog’s search of the building found no bomb.
Police said they left the scene at 2 p.m., but are still investigating.
“It is a felony to make a false report of a bomb and is punishable by up to 20 years in state prison,” Hingham Police Sergeant Steven Dearth said in a release.
Two-term Selectman Bruce Rabuffo announced Tuesday that he will not seek reelection.
In an announcement released by the town, Rabuffo said that he has seen the last six years of service as a success, but felt it was time he step down at the end of the term.
“I think there has been an unwritten law and tradition in Hingham to run for just two terms,” he said in a phone interview. “… Unless there is some overwhelming matter that would keep you there.”
In the release, Rabuffo reflected on his accomplishments -- higher bond ratings, staffing improvements, and updates to many school and town assets, all amid the difficult fiscal environment he entered in 2008.
“I think my principal area was getting the town in good financial shape, and we are,” Rabuffo said. “A simple rule of government is you can do anything you want, but you only really do what you have money for. It was important for us given all our needs to make sure we got more money. I wish I did more in tax relief, but I’m not done yet.”
Along with tax relief, Rabuffo has several other pending tasks for his successor.
The physical assets of the town still need to be addressed, and public safety needs to continue as a priority. Fiscal responsibility should also be a focus for the next selectman, he said in the release.
On the phone, Rabuffo pointed to the ongoing dispute with Aquarion Water Co.
Although the issue is one Rabuffo would have wanted to see through, John Asher, a member of the Water Study Committee and former Advisory Board member, has announced he will run for the seat held by Rabuffo.
“I don’t know if there is anybody else considering. Some people mentioned in the past they might, but I think John would be good,” Rabuffo said. “He has a lot of the same skill sets that I have that the board would be needing.”
Rabuffo still has some time before his departure. His term will run until April 2014, when the town will hold its annual election.
Selectmen Paul Healey and Irma Laurter will have to run during the upcoming election, as they were elected during different years and haven’t served the full extent of their terms.
Already Rabuffo said he is looking forward to the needed time off away from town meetings. He already had travel plans with his wife.
Rabuffo said his health was not a factor at all.
“I’ve gotten [a] clean bill of health,” he said. “Those trips I want to take I want to be physically able to do them.”
A Superior Court decision on the cost of Oxford’s Aquarion-owned water infrastructure will probably have little bearing on similar litigation in Hingham, officials from Hingham and the water company said Monday.
In a Nov. 21 ruling, Superior Court Justice Daniel Wrenn said Oxford’s water infrastructure is valued at over $8 million, a price Oxford must pay if it is to acquire the system from Aquarion.
Hingham also is in the midst of Superior Court litigation over the price of its water assets, though officials said the differences between the cases outnumbered the similarities.
“One of the things we want to emphasize is the statutes are different,” said Selectman Bruce Rabuffo, pointing to the overriding contract that specifies how to calculate the cost of the infrastructure. “There may be some coincidence in law, but the cases are different.”
Litigating attorney for Hingham, Kerry Ryan, agreed that the Oxford lawsuit didn’t set much of a precedent for Hingham.
Even though the judge discredited much town testimony in the Oxford case as irrelevant, Kerry said that wouldn’t impact Hingham. Additionally, the fact that the Oxford judge disinclined to include intangible assets in the calculating price also wouldn’t have much bearing, Kerry said.
“We obviously will take a look at it, like we will all the other cases, but I don’t think it changes anything in regard to Hingham,” he said.
Hingham is just starting litigation with the water company, receiving an expedited court schedule in the Business Litigation Session of Suffolk Superior Court in late October.
Though litigation is new, the conflict is not. Hingham has been discussing a potential purchase of the town’s water infrastructure since early 2012, when funding for a study to analyze the cost was approved at Town Meeting.
Since then, widely disparate opinions on the price of Aquarion's infrastructure have surfaced – Hingham estimating it at around $60 million, Aquarion putting the number at around $185 million.
A court will sort out the differences, with the discovery phase ending by Jan. 2. A date for a trial, either in front of a jury or in front of a judge, has not yet been set.
Although officials say the Oxford case won’t impact Hingham litigation, there are some things to be learned from the earlier lawsuit, officials said.
Aquarion said the Oxford case, which they characterized as a win, only cemented the valuation formula the water company had already done for Hingham.
“I think in a big picture it means we have faith in our interpretation of the charter formula and our calculation of the system,” said John Walsh, Aquarion's vice president of operations for Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
Walsh added that the only component of the evaluation in the Oxford case the court disagreed with the company on – the value of intangible assets - has little bearing on the calculation of the valuation in Hingham.
Ryan felt there was something to be learned from the timeline of the Oxford case, which began in 2009.
That timeline may still be longer. Oxford Town Manager Joseph Zeneski said the selectmen hadn’t reviewed the ruling or discussed their options.
Yet Hingham has already begun an expedited process to avoid similar delays, Ryan said.
The biggest thing Oxford’s lawsuit says to Hingham is the overall direction of towns with privately owned infrastructure, said Town Administrator Ted Alexiades.
“I do think it’s a clear sign of the trend of the country and the region. Throughout the '80s and '90s, municipalities across America started jumping at the heaping cash of selling assets [to private entities] … Now they are realizing there are enormous advantages to the taxpayer of managing it through the municipality,” he said.
The traditions of Christmas in the Square , anticipated to draw thousands to Hingham center, will be postponed to Friday, Dec. 13 due to weather.
The call was made by the Hingham Police department on Thursday afternoon in anticipation for poor weather on Friday.
The celebration will continue as expected a week later, closing several roads to traffic.
The following roads will be closed for the annual tradition on the following Friday evening:
At 4 p.m., South Street will be closed in Hingham Square between Main Street and Central Street.
At 4:30 p.m. Main St. will be closed at Elm St. to North St. Traffic will be detoured down Water St. or Elm St. to Hersey St. to South St.
At 5 p.m. the remainder of the road closures will take effect:
North St. will be closed at Lincoln St. (Lincoln statue) and at Fearing Rd. (St. Paul's Church). Traffic will be detoured Fearing Rd. to Burditt Ave. onto Lincoln St.
South St. will be closed at Hersey St. (it will be open for residents along Hersey St. and adjoining roads but closed at CVS to all traffic).
Central St. will be closed at Elm St. to North St. Traffic will be detoured either to Hersey St. or to Main St. to Water St.
Motorists traveling through town on Route 3A are advised to remain on Route 3A to avoid these delays. All roads will be open by 9PM.