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Shawn Dooley wins House seat

January 8, 2014 11:21 AM

House Republicans will soon add to their ranks after Shawn Dooley, the town clerk and School Committee chairman in Norfolk, cruised to victory Tuesday night over two challengers to capture the 9th Norfolk House seat vacated last year by former Rep. Daniel Winslow.

Dooley was able to hold the seat for the Republicans, defeating an independent and a Democrat, and will become the 29th member of the GOP House caucus when he is sworn in.

Dooley, 47, campaigned on small business creation, ending unfunded education mandates on cities and town, and making it easier for communities to regionalize services like public safety. He easily defeated independent Chris Timson of Walpole and Democrat Ed McCormick of Norfolk in Tuesday's special election.

The seat has been held by Republicans for two decades, including by former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and state Sen. Richard Ross. The district includes Medfield, Millis, Norfolk, Plainville, Walpole and Wrentham.

– M. Murphy/SHNS

Regional planners outline potential impact of Milford casino project

November 15, 2013 05:05 PM

The impacts on the entire region from the proposed Foxwoods casino in Milford are really no different than any other very large development that creates a lot of jobs and attracts a lot of patrons, according to Marc Draisen, executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council.

Over the past several months, the council and the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission have been working with area towns to identify the likely impact of the proposed $1 billion casino off Interstate 495 and Route 16 on issues such as traffic, public safety, and water.

And while there would be some significant positive impacts, including jobs and economic benefits, if the complex proposed for Milford wins a state gaming license, the planners primarily focused on identifying and commenting on the negatives, Draisen said.

A 183-page draft report paid for with a grant from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission suggests ways to minimize or mitigate those negatives on a number of nearby towns, including Ashland, Bellingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway, Millis and Upton.

The draft report does not take a position on whether a casino would benefit the region, or how it would change the region’s character.

“We try to stick to the numbers,” Draisen said. “Every large-scale development changes the community it’s located in and those communities surrounding it; this is no different.”

Draisen said his agency’s charge was to focus on the communities around Milford to identify potential impacts that may need to be mitigated, so that they could be covered by the formal “surrounding community’’ agreements required by the state’s new gaming law.

But first, Milford voters will have two chances to decide whether there may even be a need for those negotiations.

A special election Tuesday will serve as a binding referendum on the Foxwoods proposal; a majority vote against the community hosting the casino would end the developer’s bid.

If Milford’s voters approve the project, the plan can move forward. Special Town Meeting is slated to convene next month to decide on a request to rezone the casino site, which requires a two-thirds majority.

The draft report by the regional agencies is being reviewed by local officials, and a final version is expected to be completed early next month.

Traffic has been a major concern for Milford and surrounding communities since the casino proposal first surfaced, and the regional planners also have questions about Foxwoods’ proposed mitigation plans.

The plans call for extra lanes, known as connector/distributor roads, to be built in each direction along Interstate 495 between the Routes 109 and 85 exits, and a connector that would provide access to the 187-acre site and Route 16.

“We think that will go a long way toward alleviating traffic along that stretch,” Draisen said.

But, he said, the draft report raises concern about backups north of the new lanes at I-495 and the Mass. Pike.

In addition, Draisen said, there wasn’t enough consideration given to casino employees who are more likely to use local roads when driving to and from work.

The draft report agrees with Foxwoods’ assumption that residents of neighborhoods along East Main Street (Route 16) in Milford, between I-495 and the Holliston town line, will see the most traffic impact from the casino, but it also identifies other potential problem areas.

The report cites routes 109 and 85, which was identified as likely having more traffic than Foxwoods’ predicts; the intersection of Route 16 and Route 126 (Summer Street); the intersection of Route 16 and Highland Street; Route 16 at South Street and Courtland Street, an intersection that currently has no traffic signals; as well as 11 intersections in Holliston, Medway and Millis.

Crime also is considered by the regional planners.

“It is hard to predict, but there will be an increase in call volume to the police and fire departments, and towns have to be prepared,” Draisen said.

The draft report suggests additional information is needed to determine whether things like additional holding cells, training for responding to emergencies in high-rise buildings, and long-term crime investigators would be needed in surrounding towns, and whether existing mutual aid agreements with Milford need to be restructured.

Drunken-driving arrests and “a variety of other motor vehicle related issues, including speeding, stop sign violations, accidents, and mechanical breakdowns,” will also go up in surrounding communities, according to the draft report.

Water concerns are also addressed.

“There are questions about peak days, and the effect on other future developments,” Draisen said.

The draft report raises questions about Foxwoods’ plans to provide adequate water capacity in the future, and concerns raised by Hopedale and Mendon, which rely on the Milford Water Co. for their supplies.

“Those questions have not adequately been answered yet, but presumably they will be,” Draisen said.

Foxwoods is competing for the lone casino license that will be issued in Greater Boston. A project proposed by Steve Wynn in Everett has been endorsed by the city’s voters. A Suffolk Downs proposal for a casino straddling the East Boston-Revere line is in jeopardy after East Boston voters rejected the plan. Suffolk Downs is attempting to put its complex entirely in Revere, where voters embraced its proposal.

Ellen Ishkanian can be reached at

Race to replace state Rep. Dan Winslow in Legislature begins

October 4, 2013 03:05 PM

The race to replace former State Representative Dan Winslow is on, with Winslow’s former campaign manager already an announced candidate for the Republican nomination and at least two Democrats considering a run for the seat.

Shawn Dooley – former campaign manager for Winslow and Norfolk’s town clerk – announced last month that he would run for the 9th Norfolk representative’s seat.

Stanley Nacewicz, Winslow’s Democratic opponent in 2010, said he is weighing a run. Edward J. McCormick III, a lawyer from Norfolk who ran for Congress as a Republican in 1992 against Barney Frank but is now a Democrat, also said he is considering running for the seat.

Potential candidates have until Oct. 29cq to submit nomination papers for the special election. Party primaries will be held on Dec. 10, with the general election on Jan. 7. The seat will be open again next fall. The district includes all of Norfolk, Plainville, and Wrentham, and parts of Walpole, Millis, and Medfield.

Winslow, who last spring ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the US Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry, resigned last month to take a job in the private sector

Sen. Richard Ross gains another committee seat

October 2, 2013 06:03 PM

The workloads of the three remaining Republican state senators have grown since former Minority Leader Richard Tisei gave up his seat in 2010 to run for lieutenant governor and former Sen. Michael Knapik resigned this summer to take a job at Westfield State University.

Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross, who has no junior members to whip and already serves on 13 committees, this week picked up a new job, ranking member of the Senate Ways and Means Committee.

Knapik used to hold that post, which placed him on budget bill conference committees and conferences with the House on other key bills.

A Wrentham funeral home owner, Ross already sits on 13 legislative committees.

In the 40-seat Senate, Republicans face logistical difficulties tending to their assignments. Hedlund, the assistant minority leader, sits on 12 committees and Tarr serves on 11.

By contrast, House Minority Leader Brad Jones, one of 29 Republican members of the House, does not serve on any committees. The Senate’s GOP ranks were five-strong back in 2010 when Scott Brown briefly served before giving up his seat to join the U.S. Senate, opening the path for Ross to fill his seat.

Here is a description of Ross's district:

Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex -- Consisting of the towns of Franklin, precincts 1 to 4, inclusive, and precinct 7, Millis, Needham, precincts A to C, inclusive, I and J, Norfolk, Plainville, Wellesley, precincts B, F, and G and Wrentham, in the county of Norfolk; the city of Attleboro, ward 1, ward 2 and ward 3, precinct A, and the town of North Attleborough in the county of Bristol; and the towns of Natick, precincts 6, 7, 9 and 10, Sherborn and Wayland in the county of Middlesex.

– M. Murphy/SHNS

Franklin High grad Victoria Bernardini receives seventh annual A. James Lavoie Scholarship from Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation

July 5, 2013 03:39 PM
Victoria Bernardini 1.jpg
Courtesy of the Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation
Victoria Bernardini of Franklin who received the seventh annual $5,000 A. James Lavoie Scholarship

This press release was provided by Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation

Dana M. Neshe, President of the Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation, has announced that Victoria Bernardini of Franklin is recipient of the seventh annual A. James Lavoie Scholarship.

The $5,000 award is named in honor of Mr. Lavoie, former president of Middlesex Savings Bank, who was deeply committed to the support of education. Bernardini, a graduate of Franklin High, will attend UMass-Dartmouth. She plans to concentrate on the history and cultures of the Middle East, and she hopes to spend a year of study abroad.

An independent committee selected Bernardini for the Lavoie Scholarship for her essay in response to “If you could do one thing to improve the quality of life in your community, what would it be and how would you do it?” Bernardini proposed a peer-to-peer counseling program she named “High School Journey…Seriously.”

As a learning-disabled student whose dyslexia came to light in grade school, Bernardini followed an Individualized Education Program (IEP) through Franklin High and overcame her difficulties in reading and math. But in freshman and sophomore years she did not take her studies seriously. She explained that she would have benefited greatly from a program in which upperclassmen advised younger students on how to realize their academic potential and improve their prospects for admission to college.

“Doing well in high school has very serious consequences. High school students often live in the moment and let academics slip. Both my teachers and parents expected good grades from me, but often the message did not get through. I believe I would have been receptive to some friendly advice and guidance from an informed peer,” she wrote.

Bernardini’s plan envisioned a series of seminars by a cadre of senior-class volunteers who would explain the school’s academic expectations and stress the importance of setting high standards – including consistent class participation, homework, cumulative grade point average, and SAT scores – beginning in freshman year.

“We’re pleased to award this year’s A. James Lavoie Scholarship to Victoria Bernardini,” said Neshe.

“Her essay demonstrated both a mature understanding of high school education’s importance and a clear, realistic path to helping young people reach their full potential. We also salute her for perseverance in her own studies, and we wish her the very best at UMass-Dartmouth and in her future endeavors.”

The Foundation also announced that 30 other students from 25 communities have received $1,000 scholarship grants. Selection criteria included academic merit, financial need, community service, and personal improvement.

The towns represented, the students, and the college they plan to attend, are listed below. Unless noted in parentheses, the students are graduates of their respective town’s high schools.

Ashland: Phoebe Kurris, Bridgewater State. Bedford: Evelyn Sainato, TBD. Bellingham: Megan Kenney, University of New England. Boxborough: Ryan Small (Acton-Boxborough Regional), Endicott. Concord: Jack Struck (Concord-Carlisle), American University.

Framingham (4): Fiorella Portal-Venturi (Advanced Math & Science Academy), Worcester State; Jonathan Montanez (Joseph P. Keefe Technical), TBD; Melanye Fontanelle (Framingham High Resiliency for Life Program), Mass Bay; Colin Moran, University of New Haven.

Franklin (2): Victoria Bernardini ($5,000 A. James Lavoie Scholarship), UMass-Dartmouth; Katherine Nazzaro, Bridgewater State. Groton: Jamie Park, UMass-Amherst. Holliston: Jacob McLinden, UNH; Hopkinton: Jaclyn Chirco, Assumption; Littleton: Garrett Essman, University of Vermont.

Maynard (2): Morgan Parmeter (Assabet Valley Regional), Merrimack; Colby LeSage, Bridgewater State. Medfield: Scott Todd, Florida Institute of Technology; Medway (2): Abigail Gay, Tri-County Regional) Wheelock; Madison Holland, Simmons; Milford (2): Gabriela Rosa, Blackstone Valley Regional), Assumption; Madeline Parsons, Worcester State.

Millis: Matthew Fife, Westfield State; Northborough: Josue Deleon (Algonquin Regional), Worcester State. Natick: Timothy Sakharov, Northeastern; Needham: Julie Weinberg-Connors, Beloit College; Sudbury: Adam Bradley (Lincoln-Sudbury), UMass. Wayland: Mark Bonner, TBD; Wellesley: Amanda Harkavy, Dartmouth; Westford (2): Aaron Febbi, UMass-Amherst; Emily Morency, Elon University.

The Middlesex Savings Charitable Foundation was established in 2000 through an endowment provided by Middlesex Savings Bank to ensure funding of scholarships and worthy non-profits in any economic climate. Over $325,000 has been distributed to date through the scholarship program.

Dedham jail seeks mentors for prisoners

April 10, 2013 08:53 PM

Norfolk County’s sheriff is looking for volunteers to mentor prisoners at Norfolk County House of Correction in Dedham.

Mentors are paired with inmates while they are in prison, and they continue to meet after the release from prison, according to Sheriff Michael G. Bellotti, who began the program in 2011.

“The idea is to help the inmates stay on a productive, law-abiding path after they leave our walls,” Bellotti said.

Prospective mentors are interviewed and screened by Norfolk County Sheriff’s office staff to determine how well they will fit the program, but Bellotti said people from all walks of life could make good mentors.

About 40 mentors have been paired with inmates since the program began.

Funding in 2011 came from a US Justice Department grant received by the non-profit organization Volunteers of America, which partnered with the sheriff’s office to administer the program.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor can contact Assistant Superintendent Patty Spataro at 781-751-3416.

Norfolk County registry to hold computer seminar on property research

April 2, 2013 01:59 PM

William O'Donnell Norfolk Deeds

Norfolk County’s register of deeds will host a free informational seminar about using computers to research property records.

William P. O’Donnell will hold the seminar at the Norfolk County Registry of Deeds at 649 High St. in Dedham on Thursday, May 9, at 4:30 p.m.

The seminar is intended for both real estate professionals and the general public, and will include a presentation, written handouts, and hands-on exercises.

Computer assisted land records research is currently available both at the registry and on the Internet at

The seminar is free, but anyone planning to attend should register by contacting Alicia Gardner at 781-461-6104 or, and providing name, address, e-mail, and a daytime phone number.

State Rep. David Linsky announces Natick, Millis, Sherborn office hours

February 26, 2013 11:00 AM

State Representative David Linsky announced that he will hold constituent office hours for Natick, Sherborn and Millis in March.

His office hours will be held on Monday, March 4. Samantha Washburn-Baronie, his legislative aide, will be accompanying him.

Venues and times are as follows:

Natick: 9:30 a.m.. at the Natick Senior Center, 117 E. Central St.
Millis: 11 a.m. at the Millis Senior Center, 900 Main St.
Sherborn: 1 p.m. at the Sherborn Town Hall, 19 Washington St.

All office hours are open to any residents of Natick, Sherborn, or Millis who may have questions or concerns that they wish to bring to his attention.

Constituents can also call him at his State House office at 617-722-2575, at his Natick office at 508-647-5600, or stop by Room 146 in the State House.

Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownnatick, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at

State Rep. Linsky from Natick to participate in gun control rally Saturday

January 25, 2013 12:12 PM

State Representative David Linsky, who hails from Natick, announced today that he will be speaking at the One Million Moms for Gun Control rally this Saturday in front of the State House.

The rally, which will begin at 11:30 a.m., will support "common sense gun legislation," according to Linsky's office.

Linsky is the lead sponsor of a bill aiming to prevent gun violence by closing loopholes in existing state laws, requiring mental health background checks, and emphasizing gun storage requirements. The bill would also require gun owners ssign up for liability insurance.

The bill was filed this month in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shooting in December.

One Million Moms for Gun Control is a grassroots organization started last month after the shooting.

Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownnatick, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at

Rep. David Linsky announces February constituent office hours

January 16, 2013 06:05 PM

State Representative David Linsky announced that he will hold constituent office hours for Natick, Sherborn and Millis next month.

His office hours will be held on Monday, Feb. 4. Samantha Washburn-Baronie, his legislative aide, will be accompanying him.

Venues and times are as follows:

Natick: 9:30 a.m.. at the Natick Senior Center, 117 E. Central St.
Millis: 11 a.m. at the Millis Senior Center, 900 Main St.
Sherborn: 1 p.m. at the Sherborn Town Hall, 19 Washington St.

All office hours are open to any residents of Natick, Sherborn, or Millis who may have questions or concerns that they wish to bring to his attention.

Constituents can also call him at his State House office at 617-722-2575, at his Natick office at 508-647-5600, or stop by Room 146 in the State House.

Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownnatick, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at

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