MSPCA-Angell photosThe MSPCA has reported that Sophie, the beagle taken from the MSPCA-Nevins Farm in Methuen, was returned Tuesday morning by the man seen on videotape along with his wife as they left the shelter with her over the weekend. ccording to MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin, the couple is facing larceny charges, but the Methuen Police Department will not release their names or place of residence until an arraignment date has been set. Halpin said the MSPCA has been assured the couple will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The publicity surrounding the case prompted the couple to come forward and return Sophie to the MSPCA’s care, Halpin said. The dog is well and is under close watch by the shelter staff, Halpin said. Would-be adopters can contact Nevins Farm director Mike Keiley at firstname.lastname@example.org. The dog was taken from the Methuen adoption center at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16. The stolen dog, a 7-year-old beagle named “Sophie,” weighs about 40 pounds, is mostly white with a brown face, and has black fur covering much of her back. Surveillance video from Nevins Farm’s recently installed video monitoring system shows a white couple, who appear to be in their 60s, standing in the adoption center lobby before the man — wearing a white jacket over black slacks — is seen exiting the rear door with Sophie.
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.
Former state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei of Wakefield may make another run at being elected to Congress.
Tisei was Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker’s running mate in their losing effort in 2010 and in 2012 nearly unseated Congressman John Tierney, pulling in 47.1 percent of the vote to 48.3 percent for Tierney.
On Monday morning, Tisei announced he’s creating a committee to more actively explore another run and plans to make a formal announcement later this fall about his plans.
In a statement, Tisei said, “Like most Americans, I have been deeply disturbed by the dysfunction we are witnessing in Washington. The critical challenges facing our country have not diminished since 2012. Rather, they seem to be getting worse. The hyper-partisanship exhibited by both parties on a daily basis has created a stranglehold on our government and is preventing us from moving forward. We are a great country, but we clearly have reached a point where we need new leadership and a fresh start. We need more responsible Republicans and fewer divisive Democrats in Washington who are willing to stop the name calling, put party aside, and begin to seriously work together to do what is right for America.”
Tierney edged Tisei by 4,330 votes and Tisei won in 29 of the 39 communities in the Sixth Congressional District. Tisei, who served 26 years in the House and Senate on Beacon Hill, runs a real estate firm with his partner Bernie Starr.
- M. Norton/SHNS
The following is a press release from the Department of Fish and Game
The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game and the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) announced that 250 acres of Joppa Flat in the Merrimack River estuary will be open for the commercial harvest of softshell clams by specially licensed commercial diggers.
“I am happy to credit the city of Newburyport and the staff of our Division of Marine Fisheries for the hard work that was necessary to open this area to commercial clammers,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin.
“Massachusetts’ soft shell clam harvest is worth five to six million dollars annually and the opening of Joppa Flat will benefit commercial shell fishermen in the area who rely on open and productive flats for their livelihood.”
The reclassification and reopening of the Joppa Flat allows the conditionally restricted commercial harvest of softshell clams (Mya arenaria). Under the restrictions, harvesting is limited to weekdays only and must be conducted by specially licensed diggers. The clams must be treated at the DMF depuration plant. Harvesting for direct human consumption remains prohibited.
Once considered among the top clam producing flats in Massachusetts, bacterial contamination had shut down this highly productive bed for over 80 years. Improved water quality and a comprehensive management plan developed with the City of Newburyport, has allowed the area to be reopened. The restrictive state and local harvesting regulations will ensure clams harvested from the area are safe to eat.
Rainfall will trigger episodes of bacterial contamination in excess of national standards. Accordingly, the area will be closed to shellfishing for five to seven days after rainfalls of 0.25 inches or greater. Rainfalls of 1.50 inches or greater will result in longer closures subject to re-sampling.
Softshell clams and other bivalve mollusks become contaminated by filtering both harmless and pathogenic, or disease-causing, bacteria and viruses from seawater during feeding and respiration. Contaminated shellfish can transmit these organisms to humans if the shellfish are eaten raw or under-cooked.
At the DMF Shellfish Purification Plant, the clams are placed on pallets and then lowered into one of nine 3,500 gallon tanks for depuration. Depuration is a self-cleansing process where the shellfish purge their digestive system of particulates in clean seawater; the shellfish are typically clean after two to three days at the plant.
The Merrimack River was once considered one of the nation’s ten most polluted rivers. This reopening is due to concerted clean-up efforts begun over 20 years ago by local, state and federal programs and an aggressive re-sampling initiative by DMF. The reopening encompasses over 251 acres of the southeastern portion of the Joppa Flat, while the northwest section remains closed. Joppa Flat will join some 534 acres of Merrimack River estuary clam flats in Newburyport and Salisbury that were reopened in 2006.
For further information on city requirements, contact the Newburyport Harbormaster & Shellfish Constable Paul Hogg at 978-462-3746. For further information on Marine Fisheries requirements and regulations, contact Jeff Kennedy at 978‑465‑3553 or Dave Roach at 978‑282‑0308.
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.
Targeted almost daily by national Republicans, U.S. Rep. John Tierney raised $251,216 in the third quarter of 2013 as he gears up for a re-election contest in a little less than a year, but was outpaced by his Democratic challenger Seth Moulton of Salem.
Moulton raised $355,548 from July through August, and had $301,735 in cash on hand, according to his campaign. Tierney’s quarterly report filed with the Federal Elections Commission showed the Salem Democrat raising a quarter of a million dollars, and finishing the third quarter with $561,155 in cash on hand.
Moulton, an Iraq war veteran and vice chairman on the board of directors of Eastern Healthcare Partners, launched his primary challenge to Tierney earlier this year after the incumbent staved off a strong Republican challenge from former state Sen. Richard Tisei in 2012 following a controversy over his wife’s involvement in her brother’s illegal offshore gambling operations.
Tierney will be running for a 10th term representing the 6th Congressional district in 2014. - M. Murphy/SHNS
WALTHAM — The wooden bleachers that ringed three sides of Gordon Field were torn down in the mid-1970s.
Saldi’s Pizzeria on Felton Street, where Brandeis University’s football players and their fans celebrated after home victories, no longer exists.
Neither does the football program, the result of a board of trustees vote in 1960 that brought to a close a long-forgotten — but very successful and colorful — era in Brandeis athletics.
The Judges posted winning seasons in five of their nine years as a varsity program. The 1957 squad, which shut out New Hampshire and Northeastern and blew out Massachusetts on Homecoming Day, posted the best record ( 6-1) in the short history of Brandeis football.
More than a half-century later, members of the ’57 team will huddle one more time on Saturday, gathering for their induction into the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame.
The parent of 229-bed Winchester Hospital said Friday it has struck a formal affiliation agreement to become part of Lahey Health, which operates Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington, Beverly Hospital, and Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester.
Lahey Health and Winchester Healthcare Management signed a letter of intent in June to affiliate. The formal agreement disclosed Friday is subject to state and federal regulatory approval. The parties said Winchester Hospital patients would maintain access to their hospital-affiliated doctors but be referred to Lahey specialists for more complex clinical procedures.
The acquisition is part of the continuing consolidation in the Massachusetts hospital sector. Lahey has been expanding, especially north of Boston, in recent months.
In August, the Globe reported Lahey representatives met with from Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport to discuss a possible affiliation, and signed an agreement with Atrius Health that designates Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington as a preferred hospital for the medical group’s patients in the Burlington area.
The Globe also reported in August that Lahey has held ongoing talks to merge with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Ellen Lutch Bender, president of Bender Strategies, a Newton health care consulting firm, told the Globe that he thinks Lahey is positioning itself as an attractive option to smaller hospitals that realize they cannot continue to operate independently.
“As hospitals are perusing alignment strategies, there will be very few institutions that will be standing alone at the end of the day. Nobody wants to be the hospital that doesn’t have a seat at the table when the music stops,” Bender said.
The Globe also reported in August that, with the help of a $130 million tax-exempt bond awarded by the state, Lahey Health plans to spend over $170 million on its hospital facilities, with a new $162 million electronic medical records system as the centerpiece.
MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development agency, issued the bond to Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in June.
Dr. Howard Grant, Lahey Health’s chief executive officer, said the hospital also plans to purchase medical equipment for radiology, operating rooms, cancer services, information technology infrastructure, and telemetry monitors. Lahey will spend over $12 million to build a new cogeneration power plant at its Burlington medical center, the Globe reported in August.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a Winthrop Democrat, wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency to delay implementation of a federal flood insurance reform so that FEMA, Congress and local officials can restructure the program he warns will have a detrimental impact on coastal residents and businesses.
DeLeo issued a press release on Friday morning explaining that he has reached out to FEMA Administrator William Fugate and the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to work together to reform the program, which includes changes to insurance rates based on new flood risk calculations.
Rep. James Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, testified at a state legislative hearing this week that the new flood zone maps were “radically” increasing insurance rates and driving property values down in communities based on new maps that account for the rare possibilities of extreme storms.
DeLeo said the federal act, signed in 2012 and scheduled to be implemented over five years, will require more property owners to buy flood insurance.
“As a representative from a coastal community, I strongly believe that the sweeping changes enacted by FEMA will negatively impact property owners across Massachusetts,” DeLeo said in a statement. “While fortifying the nation’s emergency flood insurance program is an essential endeavor, I believe that we must approach these reforms in a targeted and equitable manner.”
Cantwell has filed a bill (H 865) that would direct the commissioner of insurance to regularly investigate how the National Flood Insurance Program rates are set and "make suggestions for changes to ensure the rates are not excessive."
Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Michael Costello, who lives in Newburyport, this week said flood insurance was not under the purview of the committee, and recommended lobbying Gov. Deval Patrick for assistance.
- M. Murphy/SHNS