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Boston Main Streets Foundation names recipients of Innovation and Impact Grants

February 28, 2014 11:21 AM

The Boston Main Streets Foundation recently named the recipients of its Innovation and Impact Grants.

The grants, which will support initiatives in seven Main Streets Districts, reflect the Boston Main Streets Foundation’s push for more direct funding of proposals that seek to stimulate growth and participation in Boston’s commercial districts, according to a statement from the organization.

“We’re funding a range of innovative projects through this initiative with the Boston Main Streets Foundation,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “This is a public-private partnership that really works; our Main Streets districts can enhance what makes them unique and support their business owners.”

Partially funded through federal dollars administered by the city of Boston, Main Street groups work to revitalize commercial districts in Boston’s neighborhoods. Founded in 1995, there are currently 20 Main Street Districts city-wide.

Ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, the grants support a variety of new programs and initiatives including cellphone apps, street pole banners, and farmers’ markets.

“These grants can have a profound impact,” Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development, said in a statement. “Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a graduation of an ESL Business English Class that was funded in the first round. Business owners from Hyde Jackson and Egleston Square Main Streets collaborated to make their idea a reality, partnering with their local YMCA. It was a wonderful proposal, and one I’m sure will have far-reaching effects.”

The Mattapan Square Main Streets, the city’s newest Main Street organization, received $3,000 to support a series of local business fairs dubbed “Think Big!” The program aims to provide business owners with the tools and know-how to expand their reach.

The Roslindale Village Main Streets, the city’s oldest Main Street District, received $5,000 to develop an app that encourages and rewards customers for shopping local.

The Allston Village Main Streets received $5,000 to support the completion of a mural.

The Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, which recently named a new executive director, received $5,000 to develop a logo and banners to help brand the shopping district that straddles the Roxbury/Dorchester border.

The Uphams Corner Main Street received $5,000 for planters that will be painted by local artists and adopted by local businesses, to help support the neighborhood’s push for more green space and public art.

The Hyde Park Main Streets received $5,000 for banners and branding and the West Roxbury Main Streets received $4,600 to expand its farmers’ market.

“We sincerely congratulate these winners for their thoughtful proposals, and the hard work that they’re doing every day to improve their local Boston Main Streets District,” Joel Sklar, president of the Boston Main Streets Foundation, said in a statement. “I know that I speak for the rest of the Board when I say that I’m looking forward to seeing these innovative and impactful proposals become reality to the benefit of Boston's small businesses and neighborhoods.”


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Mattahunt Community Center to celebrate Black History Month

February 24, 2014 10:39 AM

The Mattahunt Community Center will swing open its doors Wednesday evening for a night of poetry, history, and food in celebration of Black History Month.

The program, which will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at 100 Hebron St., is expected include performances by the PUSH Academy and PACE, in addition to a screening of ‘Two Stories of Freedom.'

The event is free. For more information, contact Rashad Cope via email or by telephone (617) 635-5159.


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Representative Dan Cullinane to hold office hours in March

February 24, 2014 09:49 AM

Throughout the month of March, state Rep. Dan Cullinane, who oversees the 12th Suffolk, will hold a series of community office hours.

“Many people who care very deeply about our communities, who have great ideas and observations, do not have the time or flexibility to visit the State House, to make a phone call during the work day, or to attend a monthly community meeting.” Cullinane said in a statement. “During the campaign, I made a promise to the people of Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Milton to make accessibility for all one of my top priorities. I believe this aggressive weekly schedule blocking twelve hours to meet with residents at five different locations throughout the district every Friday shows that commitment.”

Beginning March 7, Cullinane, whose district includes portions of Hyde Park, Mattapan, Milton, and Dorchester, will be in the communities every Friday, as part of his “Dan in the District” initiative.

Community office hour schedule:

6:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. Flatblack Coffee Co. (Ashmont Station)
1906 Dorchester Ave., Dorchester

9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Flatblack Coffee Co. (Lower Mills)
1170 Washington St., Dorchester

11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Brothers Deli & Restaurant (Mattapan Square)
1638 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan

2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The Plate Restaurant & Café (Milton)
27 Central Ave., Milton

4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. Pit Stop Barbeque (Morton Village)
888 Morton St., Mattapan

Advance notice is not required, but constituents will be met on a first come first serve basis.

For questions or more information, contact Cullinane by phone at (617) 722-2006 or by email at


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Red Sox World Series Trophy to visit Mattapan

February 10, 2014 03:34 PM

The Red Sox’s 2013 World Series Trophy will be leaving its home at Fenway Park to pay a visit to Mattapan Tuesday.

The trophy will be Feb. 11 at the ABCD Mattapan Family Service Center, 535 River St., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All are welcome and participants will have an opportunity to have their photo taken with the trophy.

The free event is sponsored by the ABCD Mattapan Family Service Center. For more information contact Eva Huston at (617) 298-2045 x219 or


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Operation Prom Dress seeks donations

February 6, 2014 02:05 PM

The United Sisters of Color, a grass-roots group of civic-minded local women, wants to make sure Boston’s young men and women look their best at the prom this spring.

Over the coming months, the group will be collecting tuxedos and prom dress as part of its third-annual Operation Prom Dress.

“I remember how important prom was for me; it was a rite of passage,” explained Anjela Childs, co-founder of the organization. “Fortunately I had parents who could send me, but that’s not the case for everyone.”

The group, which formed in 2012, started the first Operation Prom Dress that year and helped 12 girls go out looking their best. Since then the donations have grown and in 2013 close to 225 boys and girls found themselves going to prom in fine evening dresses and slick tuxedos.

“It’s not just some dance; it’s the last major event before they graduate, so it’s special,” Childs added.

The initiative isn’t the only work the organization does in the community, but Childs said it plays right into the group’s mission.

“We’re just a small group of girlfriends who wanted to give back and connect with each other and our community,” said Childs. “We live in this community, we know its social ills and we felt we could no longer sit idle. It’s important to try to create change in the community you live in.”

Possible donations include new or lightly used gowns, suits, tuxedos, shirts, ties, shoes, and accessories.

All donations must be dry cleaned.

Below is a list of donation dates and locations:

February 8 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Dudley Branch Library
February 22 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Grove Hall Branch Library
March 8 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Grove Hall Branch Library and Mattapan Branch Library
April 5 – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Mattapan Branch Library

More information about Operation Prom Dress or the United Sisters of Color can be found here.


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MBTA to bring countdown clock system to bus stations

February 6, 2014 11:19 AM



The MBTA plans to soon install countdown clocks at a number of bus stations throughout its system to notify riders when the next bus on each route will leave that station, the agency announced today.

The bus way at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain will be the first bus location to get the electronic message boards, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith.

Signs are also planned in bus ways at Dudley Square and Ruggles stations, she said. Eight other stations have been "tentatively" chosen to receive the signs: Harvard Square; Haymarket, Ashmont; Kenmore; Maverick, Wonderland, Jackson Square, and Central Square.

The signs should be operational by summer, Smith said.

The signs, using real-time bus tracking data, will provide information about when each route serving that station is next expected to depart. The signs will feature both visual and audio messages.

The project is funded through federal stimulus money, and each sign costs about $50,000, a price tag that includes the display, hardware, software, installation, maintenance and a push-button activated sound system so that people with visual impairments can access the information on the sign, she said.

Most stations will have one sign each. Dudley, because of its size, will have two, she said.

"I've often said our buses are the work horses of our system, serving more than 375,000 people on a typical weekday," T general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. "The countdown signs at our busiest bus stops will provide customers with information that will make their public transit experience easier and more convenient."

Last week, the T completed an 18-month-long project to activate a total of 314 countdown clocks at all 53 subway stations on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, which officials said made the T one of the first transit agencies in the country to equip all heavy rail stations with train-arrival information.

Officials said the signs have been popular and well-received by riders, and since they were introduced in the summer of 2012 the agency said it has made regular improvements based on rider feedback, including making the signs more accurate and easier to see.

The T said it expects to introduce the countdown clock system to the Green Line by the end of this year. The light rail line is undergoing work to upgrade its less-sophisticated train tracking system with GPS and sensor technology to allow for countdown clock capability.

The agency has also said technology upgrades on the Green Line will allow smartphone-carrying riders to be able to track in real-time the whereabouts and expected arrival of the line's trains by 2015.

Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue have been tracked by mobile applications since the fall of 2010, when the agency made real-time train location data on those lines available to private software developers, who have created numerous smartphone applications. The T made real-time data on bus locations available to software developers in fall of 2009.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at
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BPS teachers achieve National Board certification

February 3, 2014 11:45 AM

Twenty-two Boston Public Schools teachers recently achieved National Board certification, the highest credential in the profession.

“This is a great accomplishment that reflects a lot of hard work that represents both personal achievement and a focus on bringing the best teaching methods to the classroom for the benefit of our students,” John McDonough, interim superintendent for BPS, said in a statement. “As a district, we always strive for this goal. It brings reality to our commitment to have great teachers in every classroom every day."

The 22 educators, the largest group in the 10-year history of the BPS-BTU National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Candidate Support Program, will join the approximately 80 other BPS teachers that have already been certified.

“We congratulate our National Board Certified Teachers on this tremendous accomplishment and honor,” Ross Wilson, assistant superintendent of the Office of Educator Effectiveness, said in a statement. “We know that teachers are the most important factor in a student's education. The National Board process is rigorous and represents the highest level of achievement. These teachers serve as an example of the great educators in the Boston Public Schools.”

The certification process includes a performance-based assessment that takes between one to three years to complete. As part of the process the educators also build a portfolio that includes student work samples, assignments, videotapes and a thorough analysis of their classroom teaching.

Boston Public Schools National Board Certified Teachers Class of 2013:

Scott Balicki - Boston Latin School
Elvira DeLuca - Boston Latin Academy
Mary Dibinga – Boston Latin Academy
Jennifer Dines – Lilla G. Frederick Pilot Middle School
Frances Farrell – Fenway High School, Boston Academy
Sheila Hanson-Fazzolari – James Otis School
Donna Flaherty – Boston Latin Academy
Arielle Freeman – Boston Community Leadership Academy
Alison Galanter – Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Jeffrey Isen – Boston Latin Academy
Seneca King – Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers
Kristen Toher Leathers – Brighton High School
Miranda Lutyens – Boston Latin Academy
Robin Mankel – Brighton High School
Kathleen Markiewicz – Boston Latin School
Lillie Marshall – Boston Latin Academy
Julian McNeil – Boston Latin Academy
Elizabeth Rooney – Fenway High School
Amy Shapiro – Boston Community Leadership Academy
Allyson Via – Boston Latin Academy
Debra Watson – Mildred Ave. K-8 School
Clara Webb – Boston Latin School


Karene-Sean Hines – Timilty Middle School


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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.

Boston Natural Areas Network to explore southern portion of Neponset River Greenway

January 31, 2014 08:38 AM

As the Commonwealth prepares to complete the Neponset River Greenway trail, the Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN) will lead a tour of the southern portion of the route, to help local residents and open space advocates visualize what will soon be a reality.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, BNAN staff and volunteers will meet at the Martin Shell Park, located at 1015 Truman Parkway, and take a leisurely stroll down the soon completed path.

The free event will begin at 1 p.m. and is expected to last an hour and a half.

To register contact BNAN at 617-542-7696 or email

Once completed, the trail, which runs along the Neponset River, will stretch from Hyde Park to Dorchester, connecting the Blue Hills Reservation to the Boston Harbor.

To read more about efforts to complete the greenway, click here.


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City aims to sell Cote Ford parcel in Mattapan

January 29, 2014 02:27 PM

(Image courstey Google Maps)

The location of the property.

The city of Boston is moving forward with plans to sell the large property along Cummins Highway in Mattapan, known as the Cote Ford parcel.

A community meeting to kick off the process of developing a public advertisement for the site, also known as a Request for Proposal, has been set for Feb. 18. The meeting will be held at the Mattapan Library and will begin at 6 p.m.

The property covers about 100,000 square feet and makes up of several connected parcels on Cummins Highway and Regis Road. It has sat vacant since the auto dealership closed.

Now filled with trash, deteriorating structures, and graffiti, the space has long been a headache for the community.

Plans for the site have been floated in the past, but never panned out.

Now with new energy in the neighborhood, in part because of the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative and a recovering real estate market, officials see the site as ripe for development, especially with its close proximity to the planned Blue Hill Avenue MBTA Station.

“They’ve [Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative] done great work looking at the area and we want to take that to the next step,” explained Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood of Development, which controls the parcel.

Although DND plans to sell the property, that’s about as far as the department has gotten in developing a vision for the site. Although input from the Fairmount Indigo Planning Initiative’s Blue Hill Avenue/Cummins Highway Working Advisory Group will be used to help shape the process, it will be resident input that will guide the RFP’s language and the future of the site.

The land and buildings were assessed in 2013 for a combined value of approximately $808,000 and the property is bound by MBTA tracks, Cummins Highway, and Regis Road. In the past the site was used for an auto dealership and other light-industrial and commercial uses.

"We are hopeful that we will be able to issue an RFP this spring on this prominent site,” Dillon added. “Once we have issued the RFP, we will continue to work closely with the community to select a developer and an appropriate end use."


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