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The Grand “Unzipping” of Dependable Cleaners

March 18, 2014 11:16 AM

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Melissa Ostrow

CEO and President of Dependable Cleaners Christa Hagearty and Mayor of Quincy Thomas Koch “unzip” the new Dependable facility.

Boston, MA (March 13, 2014) – On March 12, 2014, Dependable Cleaners hosted the grand re-opening of its 320 Quincy Ave. location after a devastating fire that destroyed the store and dry cleaning facility.

Mayor of Quincy Thomas Koch, City Councilor of Quincy Brad L. Croall were on hand to help Dependable Cleaners’ CEO and President Christa Hagearty unzip the brand new store and dry cleaning facility.

The new energy efficient building is 8,400 square feet, which includes a 2,000 square foot laundromat area. It also has GreenEarth cleaning machines, energy efficient T5 and LED lighting and high efficiency boilers. Laundromat customers will feature a card system, larger washers and dryers and free WIFI.

“It has been a long road recovering from the horrible fire that destroyed the original location in July 2012; however the unwavering support we received from the Mayor Thomas Koch and his office as well as our City Councilor Brad L. Croall is what allowed us to survive and thrive in the face of this setback,” said CEO and President Christa Hagearty. “My family, the community, and the fantastic team at Dependable Cleaners have stepped up since day one to help us to recover and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Rather than the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony, the team at Dependable Cleaners created its own giant zipper to unveil the new facility. This is a tradition that was first started by Christa’s father, Don Fawcett Jr., in 1982 at the grand opening of 320 Quincy Avenue location.

About Dependable Cleaners
For over 65 years, Dependable Cleaners, a three generation family-owned company, has been providing premium cleaning services throughout greater Boston and southern Mass. Dependable Cleaners aims to maintain its legacy as Boston’s leading provider of superior garment care and exceptional customer service, while introducing the newest industry technologies and services to its customers. For more information, please visit www.DependableCleaners.com.

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Melissa Ostrow

Left to right: Mayor of Quincy Thomas Koch, Don Fawcett Jr. Company Director of Dependable Cleaners, CEO and President of Dependable Cleaners Christa Hagearty, and Quincy City Councilor Brad L. Croall

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Melissa Ostrow

Dependable Cleaners CEO and President Christa Hagearty unzips to find her father and Company Director Don Fawcett Jr., sister and Project Manager Carlyn Parker and family members in the new store.

Primary for the 13th Suffolk set for Tuesday

March 3, 2014 09:24 AM

Residents of the 13th Suffolk will head to the polls Tuesday to pick a Democratic nominee to fill the state House seat left vacant by Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

Five Democrats are vying to fill the position, with no Republicans on the ballot.

The 13th Suffolk includes portions of Dorchester, as well as a sliver of Quincy. To find your district, click here.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. To find your polling location, click here.

Tuesday’s primary will be followed by the general election, which has been set for April 1.

There are five Democratic candidates seeking to fill the seat including Liam Curran, Gene Gorman, Dan Hunt, PJ McCann, and John O’Toole.

For more information about voting in Boston, click here.

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Email Patrick D. Rosso, patrick.d.rosso@gmail.com. Follow him @PDRosso, or friend him on Facebook.

Legislators say compromise reached in flood insurance bill

February 28, 2014 04:32 PM

Members of the US House of Representatives on Friday reached a tentative compromise on a flood-insurance bill that would benefit thousands of South Shore homeowners, and floor vote is expected in early March, two Massachusetts legislators said.

“We made great progress this week,” said US Representative Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat. “It’s how Congress is supposed to work. We had a proposal on the Republican side that had some gaps in it, we felt, but we went back to them with a counter proposal and a request for some time.”

“The plan should be coming out soon and floor action could be as early as next Tuesday,” US Representative William Keating, a Bourne Democrat, said in a statement.

Lawmakers had planned to vote on Wednesday or Thursday of this week, but the vote was postponed as Democratic groups worked through several amendments.

Though the House version looks very different than the one approved in the Senate in late January, Lynch said he is acting in lock step with US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“We would not be signing off on something that we felt our Senate colleagues would be opposed to or offended by,” Lynch said.

The bill looks to augment the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which imposed high flood-insurance premiums for anyone in a flood zone. Legislators said the act was intended to better reflect the cost of coastal flooding and to make the National Flood Insurance Program solvent.

Biggert-Waters was coupled with new Federal Emergency Management Agency maps that expanded the flood zone and raised projected flood levels. The result sharply increased insurance rates for thousands of coastal homeowners in Massachusetts.
Even the owners of some homes miles from the coast saw steep increases in their premiums.

State and federal legislators have since taken up the mantle to effect changes to the law.

Though House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, initially said he would not take up a relief bill, an augmented proposal was brought to the floor in late February.

Lynch didn’t have all the specifics of the revised proposal, but said gaps that excluded some homeowners or business owners has been closed.

The structuring of rate increases was also revised.

Previously, legislators sought to have FEMA take the average of rate increases for a group of homes believed to be at the same risk. That average increase could be no lower than 5 percent, and no higher than 15 percent.

“That was very difficult for us to envision,” Lynch said. “We couldn’t predict what the increases would be, and that’s one of the problems. We proposed a per-policy or per-home increase when we’re trying to gauge what the increases might be.”

Increase limits were kept at a maximum of 15 percent annually; however, the five percent floor limit is still under discussion, Lynch said.

One of the larger changes also includes a provision requiring notification to Congress of potential map changes 60 days before maps are made public.

Lynch said that would allow representatives to walk constituents through changes and also give residents an opportunity for a meaningful appeal of maps.

“In some of my cases, they redrew the maps before they indicated there would be any increase,” Lynch said. “People were sitting back. There was no impetus to file an appeal. It didn’t indicate that rates were going up dramatically. When they did the rate piece, their opportunity for appeal had expired. We have to be better at this in terms of giving people their full rights under the statute.”

Such a problem occurred in Hingham, which voted to file a map appeal Thursday night though the town already voted the new maps into effect two years ago.

Keating added in a phone interview that draft language seeks to give communities a time period where they can check the accuracy of the maps without going through an appeal.

"The major part of the problem was the mapping process. [The bill] will allow the communities to have a period where they can look at the maps and have a period to react to that," Keating said. "They won't have to go through an expensive appeals process unnecessarily."

Grandfathering would also be added back in, Keating said.

Keating noted that the draft language could change even overnight, and nothing was solidified until the bill was in a complete form.

If the full House approves a bill that differs from the Senate’s, the two bills would go to conference committee to iron out the differences. Both chambers would then vote the bill up or down to be sent to the president.

Thieves steal 60 mugs from Quincy eatery

February 26, 2014 01:27 PM

Burglars allegedly stole 60 coffee cups in addition to a small amount of cash during a morning robbery at McKay’s Breakfast and Lunch in Quincy.

Employees came in to the Franklin Street restaurant at 5:02 a.m. Wednesday morning to discover a side window was wide open. Employees believe the window had been left unlocked and burglars had entered the store that way.

Police said there had been six trays of white, ceramic mugs stacked on the counter in front of the window. The thieves allegedly put three of the trays on the ground, and had made off with the remainder, stealing about 60 mugs.

A small amount of cash was also taken from the register, police said.

There were no security cameras in the restaurant shop. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Quincy Police.

Flood relief bill expected to go to House vote early March

February 25, 2014 05:18 PM

An altered flood relief bill won't come before Congress until early March, despite hopes that congressional representatives would take up the issue in late February.

According to RollCall.com, the bill lacked the necessary number of votes to move forward. The language is being put to a rewrite to alleviate some Democrat concerns.

The bill was expected to make its way before Congress on Wednesday, a step that may bring relief to thousands of South Shore residents coping with the effects of a federal flood insurance mandate.

“They were cueing it up and ironing out their differences to be voted as early this week…to have a full vote of the U.S. Senate and House [before Congress adjourns in June],” said state Rep. Jim Cantwell, a Marshfield Democrat, on Tuesday afternoon.

The bill seeks to augment the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, which imposed steep flood insurance premiums for everyone in new flood zones. Legislators said the mandate’s goal was to better reflect the cost of coastal flooding and to make the National Flood Insurance Program solvent.

Coupled with new Federal Emergency Management Agency maps, thousands of coastal homeowners saw an increase in rates. Others experienced exorbitant flood insurance premiums for the first time despite living miles from the coast.

State and federal legislators have since taken up the mantle to effect changes to the law. The U.S. Senate passed a version of the relief bill at the end of January.

Though House Speaker John Boehner initially said he would not take up a relief bill, an augmented proposal has been brought to the floor.

In its present form, the new proposal will eliminate some sections of the bill, such as requirements that new homeowners purchasing a primary residents instantly have to pay the newer, and higher rates, rather than the grandfathered rates of the previous homeowners.

There are also discussions of a cap to how much flood insurance would be allowed to rise per year. Currently rates cannot go up more than 20 percent. The new bill would require that rates go up at least five percent, but no more than 15 percent for the average rate within a group of similarly risked properties.

“People would be seeing increases but they would be manageable,” Cantwell said.

Rather than a four year delay to removal of subsidies, subsidies would be reinstated for homes that were constructed before flood maps were created in the community.

Grandfathering would also be reinstated. Homeowners or business owners who built to previous building codes that are no longer good enough for new expected flood levels won’t see flood insurance increases, Cantwell said.

“They would be able to lock in to an elevation at the time they did their work. That’s good news,” Cantwell said.

The house bill would also reimburse homeowners that have paid rates that have since been adjusted due to the changing mandate.

To pay for the cost of repealing the bill, homeowners would have to pay a surcharge in addition to their bill. For primary residents, that would be $25. For everyone else - vacation homeowners, business, non-profits, schools - that surcharge would be $250.

Present bill language would keep the affordability study proposed in the Senate, and would also create and fund a flood insurance rate advocate.

If an altered bill is passed in the House, the two bils would go to conference committee to iron out the differences. Both houses would then vote the bill up or down to be sent to the president.

“Congress will be adjourning in June, so the hope is to have action in the house this week or next in the latest,” Cantwell said.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch was not available for comment, however Cantwell credited him and U.S. Rep William Keating with the work they had done to progress the bill.

“They deserve a lot of credit…they have been very good on this, and when there was a government shutdown, they were having meetings to get a bipartisan support,” Cantwell said.

To read the entire text of the proposed bill, click here.

Quincy Scanner Tales: Police look for restaurant burglar

February 24, 2014 10:14 AM

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Quincy Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who allegedly broke in to a Quincy restaurant Thursday morning.

Police received a call at around 12:30 a.m. from the manager who said he went to the basement. When he returned he found the cash drawer missing.

The security cameras showed at approximately 12:20 a.m., a white male in his late 30’s or early 40’s entered the Bistro Chi on Cottage Avenue and stole the cash register drawer, cutting the wires.

He fled out the door and headed west on Cottage Avenue toward Hancock Street.

Anyone with information concerning the suspect's identity should contact Detective David P. Pacino at 617-745-5768.

Memorial bench for "Puppy Doe" planned for Quincy park

February 21, 2014 04:02 PM

Photos and paraphernalia decorated the Whitwell Street Playground fence for weeks after an abused pit bull was discovered near the park, a constant reminder of the abuse that allegedly occurred only a short distance up the street.

Much of the makeshift memorial has since been taken down, but animal advocates are looking to install a more permanent reminder of the dog, nicknamed “Puppy Doe”, in the form of a memorial bench.

“I’m involved in dog rescue. When you are doing that kind of work, you see so many cases of abuse, but not to the magnitude of Puppy Doe,” said Cheryl Wallace, one of the women spearheading the proposal. “It was absolutely horrific and I’ve never seen anything that bad. It’s horrible, and it has to stop.”

The memorial has been approved by the Quincy Park and Recreation Board, with the exact wording on the bench still under discussion.

“We’ll be working with the organizer…on coming up with language that commemorates Puppy Doe but fits in line with other language we use at other dedications for folks across the city,” said Christopher Cassani, executive director for the Park and Forestry Department.

While the wording may differ from the poem organizers initially proposed, proponents plan to include an etching of the dog, along with the day she died, on a seat made of black granite.

Though other supporters of the dog said they submitted a petition and request for a bench in mid-January, Wallace said she and Diane O’Meara had the idea for a memorial in their minds since neighbors discovered the female pit bull lying listlessly near the park on Aug. 31.

The dog was brought to the Quincy Animal Shelter and later euthanized at a veterinary hospital in Weymouth.

A necropsy by the Animal Rescue League of Boston revealed that the dog had suffered extensive injuries to her eye, nose, tongue, head, body, and limbs. She had been starved and allegedly tortured.

Veterinarians at the Rescue League said it was the worst case of abuse they had ever seen, and animal lovers from near and far have since come together to mourn the dog.

After helping to organize a candlelight vigil, Wallace said plans were put in action for the bench.

Fund-raising has not yet begun for the memorial. Custom Monuments in Rockland has offered to make the bench at a discount.

Wallace was confident that money wouldn’t be hard to find.

“We have people from all over the world who want to donate,” Wallace said.

If the fund-raiser collects more money than needed, money will go to the Quincy Animal Shelter.

“The Quincy Animal Shelter is involved in this as well…they are going to help us with the fund-raising, and we’ll probably set up the care accounts or a type of online account,” Wallace said.

Beyond providing a place of solace, Wallace hoped the bench would be a reminder that animal cruelty laws need to change.

“Hopefully, she will help change laws and make people aware [that] if people see something, they have to say something,” Wallace said.

Attempted robbery at Wollaston T Thursday night

February 21, 2014 01:10 PM

Quincy police are looking for a man accused of attempted robbery on Thursday night.

According to police, a woman was walking home from the Wollaston T station at 8:28 p.m. when a man jumped out of the bushes at the corner of Willet and Marlboro streets.

The man allegedly grabbed the woman’s pocketbook and tried to wrestle it free, knocking the woman to the ground. The woman told police she held on to the bag and was dragged a few feet while screaming for help.

The suspect soon let go of the purse and fled down Beach Street.

Police said the suspect was described as a six-foot-tall, clean-shaven white male who was wearing a dark blue pullover hooded sweatshirt.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call Quincy Police.

While robberies around Quincy T stations have been common, police said the city hasn’t had any since last fall.

According to Police Captain John Dougan, additional patrols have been put on in the area, but the biggest deterrent is for people to be aware.

“People have to be more aware of their surroundings,” Dougan said. “A lot of them have cell phones, iPods…we ask people to be more aware of their surroundings and if they see anything suspicious, contact us right away.”

Quincy Council approves $500k in supplemental purchases

February 20, 2014 02:17 PM

After something lengthy debate, Quincy city councilors approved over a half-million dollars in capital expenses Tuesday, all of them supplementing budgets passed by city departments.

Allocations include approximately $130,000 for unexpected light bills, $175,000 for an additional street sweeper, and $225,000 in Park Department and Cemetery Department vehicles.

“I’m at the final straw with capital expenditures that aren’t included in the budget,” said City Councilor Brian Palmucci near the end of discussions.

The requests were varied. Department of Public Works Commissioner Daniel Raymondi said the light bill stemmed from yet unperformed switch of streetlights to more-efficient bulbs.

Raymondi said the budget had been reduced by $300,000 in anticipation of savings the new lights would bring.

“The anticipation is things would have happened by now, but they didn’t,” Raymondi told councilors.

The delay largely has to do with a hold up with National Grid giving the city control over 6,000 lights. The cost of the purchase has been wrapped up in legal debate between both parties for months, delaying the city switching the lights to LED bulbs.

Long term, issues still abound over how much to cost of the purchase will be and if any ancillary costs will be attached to the switch.

In the short term, councilors agreed to pay the $130,000 bill. Raymondi said further delays will mean additional bills.

“The anticipation is if we don’t see those savings in the next couple months, these bills will need to be paid,” Raymondi said.

Councilors also agreed to purchase a street sweeper for $175,000, bringing the fleet to six.

Raymondi said one sweeper with 96,000 miles on it is in poor condition and too unreliable for a citywide street-sweeping plan that looks to sweep two wards in one week’s time.

“We’ve condensed a work schedule from two to three months to three weeks,” Raymondi said, adding that the time savings would allow crews to do more work on sidewalks.

The machine is in addition to the 21 vehicles the Department of Public Works has purchased in the last two fiscal years.

“There has been heavy acquisition and spending,” critiqued Councilor Brad Croall.

Councilor Brian McNamee suggested the department refurbish equipment rather than purchase new.

Yet Councilor Joseph Finn supported the request, saying that the equipment was necessary to allow city employees to do the work.

“Again and again, it’s been shown by doing this public, the savings and efficiencies and quality of the job is significant,” Finn said.

Councilors were also critical of requests from Park and Forestry Department Executive Director Christopher Cassani for several vehicles.

Cassani said the park department needed a ramp truck, a dump truck, and a new pick up truck. Requests were also submitted for either two pick up trucks for the cemetery department or a dump truck.

“It’s a lot of equipment and I think the taxpayer expects me to be a bit tougher,” said McNamee, who was the lone dissenting vote on a majority approval.

Palmucci also bristled at the idea that staff increases were made without the necessary equipment purchases.

“This is a basic expense, basic costs to deliver those core services, but they weren’t included in those budget discussions,” Palmucci said.

Cassani said the department was “getting by” with current equipment. Councilors approved the request by majority.

All funding for requests will come from "free cash," or excess money not used in previous budget cycles.

Lead developer of Quincy downtown project gets an ultimatum

February 18, 2014 11:25 PM

Quincy officials have given the main developer of the city’s $1.6 billion downtown revitalization 30 days to begin the next phase of the project, or be kicked out of the development altogether.

At a City Council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Thomas Koch said Street-Works Development LLC was struggling to find capital to move plans forward, and was subsequently in default of the project’s overriding contract, known as the Land Disposition Agreement.

“We made a decision to put Street-Works on notice effective tomorrow under the LDA, that they have not met their benchmarks, they are in default, and they have a 30-day period to resolve those issues,” Koch told councilors.

Street-Works officials were not present at the meeting, and co-founder Ken Narva could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

Street-Works officials have been the visionaries and planners behind the redevelopment, Koch said. Plans included dreams of residential towers reaching to the sky, and streets bustling with restaurants and shops.

Yet months after breaking ground on a residential/retail block named Merchants Row - contained in the block anchored by 1400 Hancock St. – construction came to a halt.

Investors in Merchants Row have since said they are splitting up from Street-Works to restart the block’s construction with a private developer.

Latest problems surround the next phase of the redevelopment. In an interview after the meeting, Koch said Street-Works had missed permit filings for what is formally called Step One, the phase of the redevelopment to take place around the Ross Parking Garage.

In addition to the permit filing is a financial submission that shows Street-Works has purchased land in the development area and that the company has the ability to execute plans, Koch said.

Koch said the submissions were due in November; however, no extension was sought or granted.

“The challenge has always been with Street-Works whether they could come up with the capital, and by not meeting this benchmark, it’s obvious that they are having some trouble getting capital,” Koch said.

Councilors seemed unfazed by the developments.

“We’re doing exactly what the LDA contemplated we should do…the protections are coming into play now,” said City Councilor Brian Palmucci.

Councilor Doug Gutro said many residents had seen this coming before administrators wanted to recognize it. Still, the announcement has left no shortage of questions.

“The thing to do now is to look forward, and what does that vision look like. Is it pieces? One block at a time, or will we have the vision, master plan, and LDA?” Gutro said.

Koch said the city had reengaged the attorneys who helped compile the LDA to talk through next steps, and officials would begin pursuing backup options before 30 days had lapsed.

Though investors pointed to the cost of organized labor as one reason behind halted construction at Merchants Row, Councilor Joseph Finn was adamant that any future downtown construction include union work.

Beyond questions and demands, both councilors and city officials remained confident in the overall project.

“It’s important to make perfectly clear in terms of municipal development, this is the norm,” Finn said. “The [important] part is keeping our vision and continuing to move forward.”

Koch pointed to the relocation of the Town Brook, creation of the Hannon Parkway, millions in state and federal grants for the Adams Green, and the millions of dollars that Street-Works had already given to the city in consultant fees and extension deposits as successes.

Beyond paying for land acquisitions for the Hannon Parkway, majority of the downtown development to date has been paid for outside of city funds.

What exists today is a city primed for redevelopment, Koch said.

To those concerned, “I’d say do not give up hope, that I’m bullish in downtown and that we will be moving forward one way or another, with Street-Works or without Street-Works," Koch said. "We’re going to get it done."

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