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…
After the hulking cooling towers at the mouth of the Taunton River emit their last puffs of coal exhaust, Somerset could become home to yet another rusting relic or, as environmental activists hope, the departure could set off redevelopment for Brayton Point.
Rep. Lori Ehrlich, a Marblehead Democrat who lives downwind of a soon-to-be-shuttered Salem coal plant, wants the few remaining coal plant operators to participate in planning for a re-use of the site. Under her proposed legislation all operators of power plants generating 75 megawatts or more of electricity would contribute to a Community Transitioning Fund.
The fund would be made available to towns such as Somerset that will see their tax bases shrink when the power plant leaves, and the bill would provide training for workers who lose their jobs when plants close.
Before entering politics, Ehrlich said, she led the charge to clean up six feet of coal waste in a drinking water aquifer that serves 80,000 people.
“Six years, $10 million, and they hauled all of the waste out of the drinking water,” Ehrlich said. “The local communities pay a very high price and nobody’s happier than me that we’re transitioning.”
Since she first filed the bill last session, Ehrlich said, two plants, including Salem, said they would shutter, and a third – which will be the last Bay State coal plant once Brayton Point and Salem close – has shown indications it plans to close.
“Since I’ve filed this there’s been several new realities, and one of those realities is that Brayton Point just announced its plans for closure. I think many people are in a new frame of mind,” Ehrlich said. She said there’s now an opportunity for “scaling up” renewable energy throughout the state.
On Tuesday morning, anti-coal activists gathered in the Great Hall in the State House in support of Ehrlich’s bill (H 2935).
Salem is due to close June 1, 2014, with a new natural gas plant set to take over the space. Former coal plants can leave behind expensive eyesores, but they can also provide a unique setting, as was the case with the Tate Modern art museum in London, housed in a former coal plant.
“The sky is the limit,” said Toxics Action Center Massachusetts State Director Claire Miller, who noted coal plant redevelopments in Austin and Toronto, the largely successful re-use of old mill buildings around the state, and Brayton Point’s scenic setting across the water from Fall River looking out on Mount Hope Bay.
Prospective casino developers KG Urban Enterprises want to redevelop the former Cannon Street Station, a large former coal plant on New Bedford’s waterfront. The plant converted to oil and natural gas likely in the 1950s and closed in 1992, according to NSTAR. The casino developers previously built Sands Bethlehem casino at the former site of Bethlehem Steel, in Pennsylvania.
Mount Tom, which is the state’s third remaining coal plant, has “delisted itself from the grid for 2016” meaning it wouldn’t be on call to fire up that year, Miller said. Ehrlich said that’s what Salem did before announcing its plans to close.
Another former coal plant along the Taunton River in Somerset was shuttered in 2010, and sits unused along the water.
Toxics Action Executive Director Sylvia Broude said the group surveyed about 350 Somerset residents, speaking to them at home or outside grocery stores, and found twice as many wanted to plan for a new future for the site rather than fight to keep the plant running.
Brayton Point plans to close by May 2017.
“Devastating,” was how Somerset resident Pauline Rodrigues summed up the economic impact of Brayton Point’s closure. She said, “We’re going to lose in the vicinity of $13 million per year within five years, and our town budget is approximately $50 million per year.”
Rodrigues said the other coal plant that closed in 2010 was “so obviously unhealthy” and said asthma is such a problem in the town that a baseball coach said “he wasn’t sure if he was there as a coach because he was in charge of so many inhalers.”
Toxic Action leaders said the transition assistance portion of the bill is the most important part, and said much of the responsibility for the future of Brayton Point will lie with the plant owner.
“They could be a bad neighbor, and just shut the door and padlock it and walk away,” which the former coal plant did, Miller said. She said she has not seen any studies about what a cleanup would cost, and a sale to a new owner would trigger the responsibility for a cleanup.
Broude said the plant’s recent owner Dominion Energy saw the plant as a “sinking ship” and that it had spent $1 billion to upgrade even as revenues plummeted 90 percent in the last few years. The new owner, EquiPower, bought Brayton “as a package” along with two more profitable plants in the Midwest, and Brayton was included “for the value of its scrap,” Miller said. She said Dominion didn’t want to operate in the Bay State’s deregulated energy market.
Broude said the Patrick administration has provided $100,000 each to Holyoke and Somerset to plan for the future use of the sites.
“We relied so heavily on this industry that made a lot of money for our town but also made us, our children and grandchildren sick. Now that Brayton Point has announced it will close, we must have support from outside of our borders to plan for the future of the sites,” Rodrigues said in a statement. Asked what she thought the realistic prospects are for redevelopment of the site, Rodrigues said, “We need the state help, but to say what the actual prospects are, I’m not sure.”
Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy sailed to a second four-year term, defeating councilor at large Timothy Phelan by 9,258 votes to 6,403.
Kennedy made headlines four years ago as Lynn’s first woman elected as mayor. She and Phelan, a councilor at large, both have been strong city-wide vote getters, but Kennedy appeared to have the edge after outpolling Phelan by a wide margin in a no-elimination preliminary.
In Amesbury, four-term Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer, III lost his bid for reelection by eight votes, or 2,088 to 2,080, according to figures from the mayor. Kezer said he planned to seek a recount.
Across the state, voters headed to the polls to elect mayors, city councilors, school committee members and other local officials in about 59 communities in addition to Boston.
In Beverly, former state representative Michael P. Cahill defeated City Councilor D. Wesley Slate, Jr. to succeed retiring longtime Mayor William F. Scanlon, Jr. Cahill, a former city council president, had 5,752 votes to 4,563 for Slate, who had Scanlon’s endorsement.
Mayors Donna D. Holaday of Newburyport, Carolyn Kirk of Gloucester, Kimberley Driscoll of Salem, and Stephen N. Zanni of Methuen, all won handily to earn new terms.
In Gloucester, Kirk garnered 4,724 votes to 2,979 for Mac Bell, a former city councilor. The totals of a write-in candidate, Joseph Palmisano, were unavailable, but 400 write-in votes overall were cast.
Driscoll coasted to a fourth four-year term in Salem, picking up 4,996 votes to 1,093 for Cedric Ashley, a political newcomer.
In Newburyport, Holaday picked up 3,384 votes to 2,796 for city councilor Richard E. Sullivan Jr., in her bid for a third term. Sullivan, whom Holaday narrowly outpolled in a three-way preliminary, is son of the late mayor Richard E. Sullivan and brother of Christopher Sullivan, a former city councilor and interim mayor.
Police believe a man suspected of robbing convenience stores in Cambridge and Everett this week may be behind 21 armed robberies in the region since February.
Police are seeking the public help in identifying the man seen in this photo whom police believe robbed a convenience store in Cambridge on July 27 and may have committed another 20 armed robberies in the region. Photo courtesy Cambridge Police.
Friday police from Cambridge, Boston, Chelsea, Everett and Lynn issued a joint press release seeking the public’s help in identifying the man, who police said should be considered armed and dangerous.
“Luckily no one has been injured,” said Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert Haas in a statement. “We need the public’s help to identify and apprehend this suspect before these robberies turn violent.”
Cambridge Police said that the same man who robbed a convenience store in Everett Thursday is believed to have robbed a convenience store on Cambridge Street in Cambridge Monday night. Police said the man entered the store around 9:30 p.m. and lifted his shirt to display a firearm before demanding money and fleeing. The same man is also suspected of a robbery on Walden Street in Cambridge on July 27. Other robberies police could be tied to the same man have been in Chelsea, East Boston, Jamaica Plain and Lynn.
Anyone with information about the robberies or the suspect is being asked to contact their local police departments or Cambridge Police at 617-349-3300. Information about how to submit anonymous tips to Cambridge Police can be found at www.cambridgepolice.org/tips.
Regional and vocational technical high schools would be eligible for additional state funding for capital projects, under legislation filed by Sen. Kenneth Donnelly, an Arlington Democrat.
Advocates for the bill (S 228) told lawmakers on the Joint Committee on Education Thursday that regional and vocational technical high schools desperately need the state’s help to fund renovation and improvement projects because it is nearly impossible to get several different towns all to agree to take on the debt.
James Laverty, superintendent at Franklin County Technical School, said his school has done as many renovations as they can over the years without asking the towns for money.
“We will have to go to 19 towns at town meeting with our hat in our hands,” he said.
The odds are stacked against them to get all the towns to approve a large renovation project, Laverty said.
The town of Heath, in Franklin County, has only two students who attend the school out of 500 students. If 70 people in Heath show up at town meeting, and 36 vote no, “the whole project is dead in the water,” Laverty said.
Under the legislation, regional and vocational technical high schools would be eligible for additional reimbursement, which is calculated by the Massachusetts School Building Authority based on a four-part formula. A school district can receive up to 80 percent of the cost of a capital improvement project, and must pay for any remaining share of the cost.
The formula awards percentage points of reimbursement in three mandatory income-based metrics. Regional school districts often have unequal shares for each city or town when improvement costs are allocated, according to Donnelly’s office. The legislation would increase the percentage points awarded in the grant process for regional schools by 10 points, and vocational schools would receive 20 additional points. The goal is lower the costs for cities and towns, according to Donnelly’s office.
If the Legislature offers a “little more” and regional school capital projects can get closer to 80 percent reimbursement from the MSBA, “it would make it a little easier,” Laverty said.
Alice DeLuca, the Stow representative to the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Lexington, said vocational and technical high school students are at a disadvantage compared to their counterparts at traditional high schools because their schools cannot renovate and bring in the latest technologies.
State lawmakers need to back up with money the support they voice for vocational and technical schools, she said.
“These schools provide the middle skills that everybody says they want,” DeLuca said.
“The kids who go to vocational schools do not have a nice, new renovated building and they are never going to unless something is done,” she added.
The closure of the Hilltop Steakhouse in Saugus won the attention of the New York Times over the weekend, in an article headlined "The Sun Sets on a Symbol of Western-Themed Dining.''
The Times called the Hilltop "a prime example of the large Western-themed restaurants that thrived in postwar America as growing families put down roots in blue-collar suburbs like this one and wanted places to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries at affordable prices.''
See gallery: Memories and landmarks along Route 1.
The Times called the famed 68-foot-tall cactus on Route 1 a "lodestar" that is to "Saugus what the Hollywood sign is to Los Angeles — a landmark that says you know where you are."
The AP reported last week that people were making off with momentoes from the restaurant.
The Globe reported last week that with good visibility, and a lot of frontage along the highway, Hilltop could fetch a lot of interest if the property were to hit the market, a real estate analyst said. An estimated 100,000 vehicles per day zip along Route 1 in Saugus, which has long been a destination for national restaurant and retail chains.
State Senator Thomas McGee was chosen Thursday night to succeed John Walsh as leader of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
Walsh, who has held the post since 2007, will become executive director of Governor Deval Patrick’s political action committee, the Together PAC.
McGee is the Senate chairman of the Transportation Committee and a member of the Ways and Means Committee. Since 2002 he has represented a North Shore district that includes Lynn, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Nahant, Saugus, and Swampscott.
He has also served as chairman of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development and the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs.