A Scituate woman is facing charges of negligent operation after allegedly driving her vehicle into the front of the Aubuchon Hardware Store in Cohasset on Sunday.
According to police, the department's dispatcher received several calls at 3:45 p.m. for a vehicle that had crashed through the front glass window of the hardware store.
When officers arrived, they found a Honda in the middle of the store’s showroom. Officers spoke to the driver, who said she hit the wrong pedal while backing up to the front of the store.
Police said no one was injured in the accident, though there were “several people in the store that had to run for their lives,” said Cohasset Acting Police Chief William Quigley.
Further investigation showed that the woman had retrofitted the vehicle with a homemade pedal extender, taking a block of wood and using duct tape to attach it to the gas pedal.
“She’s only five feet tall and couldn’t reach pedals effectively,” Quigley said. “She got creative, apparently, and put this block on the pedal, and that contributed to the accident.”
The accident took out an entire aisle of fake Christmas trees and substantially damaged other merchandise, shelving, and a counter in the store, police said.
The building inspector determined that the building was still structurally sound despite the accident, Quigley said, and Aubuchon opened on Monday with plans to have the glass replaced.
Carol A. McGurl, 51, from Scituate, will be charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle for the alteration of the control pedals.
Quigley said McGurl, who will answer to the charges at Quincy District Court in coming weeks, had no driving record prior to this incident.
Four months have passed since testing was last done on Scituate’s industrial wind turbine, a delay that has frustrated residents who say the turbine is affecting their health.
“It’s safe to say there is a level of exhaustion,” said Tom Thompson, spokesman for the group of impacted neighbors. “…It’s clear [the town isn’t] doing anything about it.”
Thompson and others said they have suffered from headaches, dizziness, and insomnia since the turbine was turned on in March 2012.
Turbine owners agreed in January to test the turbine’s sound levels, but answers have been limited.
Only one night of testing has occurred since an engineer was selected in April. Though the August test met the conditions, Scituate’s Board of Health discredited the results as flawed.
Testing criteria have been slightly altered since. Though another criteria change may be coming, the immediate plan for testing is merely to wait.
Meanwhile residents say they are still dealing with health problems caused by the machine.
“No one wants to address this issue,” said resident Mark McKeever, who lives 640 feet away from the turbine. “Someone has to, but nobody wants to. Everyone wants to point [his or her] finger at someone else. But my family doesn’t sleep, the headaches, the noise from the turbine, the flicker, it isn’t going away. And it’s overwhelming.”
For the McKeevers, next steps also depend on testing results.
In December 2012, the McKeevers filed a lawsuit with the town over the turbine’s alleged health effects. In late January, a judge determined to withhold ruling on the lawsuit until the town’s testing process had concluded.
Thompson said the neighborhood group wrote a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to change the testing criteria, with hopes of increasing the likelihood that testing would occur. State officials declined the request, Thompson said.
Yet Board of Health Chairman Russell Clark said he would be open to change if the residents push for it.
“I’d like to find this thing out, if [the turbine is operating] within its limits or not,” Clark said. “I’d rather have it done sooner or later, to put [the issue] to bed one way or another.”
Gordon Deane, owner of the Scituate turbine, said his engineers would test during whatever conditions the Board of Health mandated.
“People have asked us to test to specific conditions - wind from the east and wind from the southwest … at a sufficient speed producing at least 60 percent [output] capacity, and no precipitation going on,” Deane said. “You can see it’s a small percentage of the time that these conditions occur, then that’s during the year and it also has to occur in the four hours from midnight to 4 a.m.”
Though turbine output is higher in the winter, because of faster wind speeds, in the last few months the wind direction hasn’t been right or it was raining, Deane said.
“Unfortunately the weather isn’t all that predictable,” Deane said.
Deane said they would continue to monitor the weather twice weekly to search for a prime testing date.
Four-hundred thousand-dollars in grants were recently distributed by Citizens Bank to 20 local non-profits that serve homeless individuals and families.
The money, which was awarded by the Citizens Bank Foundation, is part of the company’s “Citizens Helping Citizens Provide Shelter” initiative.
“We understand that homelessness is a pervasive and complex issue that demands the attention of corporations, non-profits and government to help our neighbors in need,” Jerry Sargent, president of Citizens Bank and RBS Citizens, Massachusetts, said in a statement. “That is why we invest in community partners that play key roles in both helping people before they get to that point and locating, engaging and providing shelter and services to those who are homeless across Massachusetts.”
The money, which was distributed to non-profits throughout Massachusetts, will support a number of local organizations including Hearth, Inc., Victory Programs, and Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion.
“Citizens Bank should be commended for the active role it has taken in strengthening communities through funding non-profits and working with government to meet the needs of the Commonwealth,” Barbara Fields, the New England regional administrator for HUD, said in a statement "Local housing and service providers in Massachusetts are on the front lines of helping us battle homelessness and they need help if we're going to cross the finish line."
Below is a list of the recipients:
•HAP, Inc. - $50,000
•St. Francis House - $40,000
•Pine Street Inn - $30,000
•Hearth, Inc. - $25,000
•Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion - $25,000
•Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance, Inc. - $25,000
•Neighborhood Housing Services of the South Shore - $20,000
•Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, Inc. - $20,000
•Father Bill's & MainSpring Inc. - $20,000
•Citizens Housing & Planning Association - $20,000
•Victory Programs - $20,000
•Greater Boston Legal Services, Inc. - $20,000
•New England Center for Homeless Veterans - $15,000
•Abby Kelley Foster House - $10,000
•Bridge Over Troubled Waters - $10,000
•Friends of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly, Inc. - $10,000
•The Boston Home - $10,000
•Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership - $10,000
•Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation - $10,000
•Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance - $10,000
Scituate residents on Saturday overwhelmingly approved the funding for a $12 million library renovation, giving the project the final approval needed to go forward.
In an unofficial tally, 1,059 people out of the 1,474 who cast a ballot voted in favor.
“The majority of people understand the importance of libraries in the community,” said Les Ball, a member of the Scituate Town Library’s Capital Campaign Committee. “There isn’t a population in town that isn’t served by this group.”
Library Director Jessi Finnie said it felt “amazing” to start planning for construction, slated to begin within 12 months.
In addition to further fund-raising more for the renovation, library officials will have to plan a move into an interim space during construction, Finnie said.
The project will increase the library square footage by 35 percent as well as update the roof, windows, and parking lot.
Jessica Bartlett can be reached at email@example.com.
The fate of a $12 million renovation of Scituate Town Library rests in voters’ hands as residents head to the polls on Saturday.
The vote has been a long time coming for library supporters, who have been working eight years on the project.
Supporters won the unanimous support of Town Meeting last month and said they are cautiously optimistic that this final approval will cement the project’s future.
“I hate to say I’m feeling confident. I don’t want to jinx it at all. But we’re getting very good vibes from people and we’ve had no substantial negative reaction,” said Les Ball, co-chair of the Scituate Library Foundation‘s Capital Campaign Committee.
The upgrade will provide a $12 million renovation to the 35-year-old building, increasing the square footage by 35 percent with light-filled, accessible rooms; upgraded bathrooms; and additional meeting space.
Updates will also be made to the worn roof, drafty windows, and rippled parking lot.
Though the town will need fund the entire project upfront, the project has received significant financial backing. Library supporters have privately raised over $600,000, and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has given a $5 million grant to the project.
The state money is contingent on town approval, but initial support has been strong. Attendees at Scituate Town Meeting spoke strongly in favor of the project, and voted unanimously in support.
Since then, Ball and others have been active to ensure the debt-exclusion override receives majority support at the polls.
“We just need a majority. If we get 20 voters, all we need is 11 [votes],” Ball said.
According to Ball, supporters have greeted potential voters at the commuter rail stations, held signs at the transfer station, and sent out dozens of emails and social media announcements urging residents to get out and vote.
At least 600 people are expected to show up at the polls, and Ball suspects at least 100 have already submitted absentee ballots.
“We know we’ve mailed out messages to at least 1,500 people, and for the most part those are in two person households, [so] at least 3,000 people have gotten positive messages from us, and I think a large portion of those people will come out,” Ball said.
The polls will be open Saturday at Scituate High School from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For supporters, the main tactic for voting day is prayer, Ball said.
“Everyone on the leadership team is going to vote at whatever time they can,” he said. “We’ll try to stand out at the polling place and say thanks to people coming in. We have an event after the polls, over at The River Club, with all the volunteers, and hopefully it will be a celebratory event.”
A Marshfield teen was arrested Saturday for allegedly driving under the influence in Scituate.
According to Scituate Police Sergeant Mark Thompson, a motorist called police to report a car heading north on Route 3A that was driving erratically.
A cruiser was dispatched to the area and came upon a car matching the witness’s description just outside the Scituate rotary.
According to Thompson, the vehicle was disabled, and there was some plastic molding from the inside of the driver’s front wheel sticking out of the wheel well.
The officer spoke with the driver and had him perform several field sobriety tests.
Patrick Sheridan, 18, from Marshfield was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of alcohol.
The Christmas spirit is out and about in the South Shore coastal community, with a slew of events planned for this weekend.
Front Street will welcome travelers from far and near on Friday, Dec. 6. Along with general shopping, The Inn at Scituate Harbor will host Christmas Tree lighting at 7 pm, with free hot chocolate and Christmas caroling. Peter Mundt will be playing from 7 tol 10:30 p.m.
Holly Hess Designs will host the fourth Annual Trunk Show from 6 to 9 p.m., featuring Brianne Marie Photography and Peggotty prints.
Silver Storm will be open from 5 to 9 p.m., and Be Well Studios is collecting coats to be donated to St. Francis House of Boston from 6:30 p.m. till 8:30 p.m.
“All who donate will be entered to win a free one month membership,” organizers said in a Scituate Harbor Merchants Facebook post.
At Marj Bates Studio on 28 Rebecca Road, holiday sales of local crafts and jewelry will occur from 4 p.m. till 8 p.m. Johannah’s Jewelry and Accessories will spend the Holidays with Marj and the pair will each will auction a bauble. Participants in the auction are asked to bring a canned good or paper product to be donated to Scituate Food Pantry.
The Welch Company, open 4 p.m. till 9 p.m. will offer complimentary gift wrap on regularly priced items.
Front Street Gourmet will also host a wine and beer tasting by Napa Valley vineyard wine maker. Gourmet Partners is featuring gourmet food pairings. Nearby, The Roman Table will host a holiday party at 6:30, with music provided by the Rae Stevenson Trio.
At Paradise at Home, there will be live music, appetizers and wine. Raffles benefiting the Scituate Food Pantry will be ongoing.
At Native from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thanda Zulu Jewelry will have a Trunk Show. Proceeds will help support education and community in rural South Africa.
Vision Source is offering specials from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Cindy Dean, from Cynthia Dean Skin Care, will be present to demonstrate her products and to offer her extensive menu of skin care services.
Expressions, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Scituate’s own fine artist Nancy Sargent Howell will be demonstrating, as will bird carver Kevin Dunn.
At Front Street Book Shop, local and “Lost in Space” TV celebrity Mark Goddard (Major Don West) signs his memoir: “TO SPACE AND BACK.”
Mill Wharf will have Jazz in Chester’s from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring Lennie Peterson and Mark Campbell. The Water Brothers will be in the Pub from 9 p.m. to 12 p.m., selling Food Pantry Calendars to benefit Scituate Food Pantry.
Goodies II will have Live Music featuring the Brown Brothers. Ten percent of all proceeds will be donated to Scituate Food Pantry.
At Kukstis Wood Carving, there will be 10 percent off all Christmas Gift Certificates. The store will also be collecting food for Scituate Food Pantry.
Out of the Blue will host its annual Holiday Party with live Music, and Sylvia’s by the Sea will have goodies and Christmas caroling.
Get in Shape for Women is hosting its one-year Anniversary party from 6 p.m. till 8 p.m. Not to mention K A Ricco Hair Design, which is offering Aveda gift sets at 15 percent off.
Santa comes to town:
On Saturday, Dec. 7, Santa will arrive by boat to the Harbor at 10 a.m. and stroll down the street courtesy of Scituate Fire Department to the Harbor Community Building.
The free event will also feature hot chocolate, coffee, cookie decorating, face painting, crafts, and of course, photos with Santa.
The Scituate North Pole Express first train leaves at 11 a.m. that same morning. For information, visit www.scituatenorthpoleexpress.com.
Back at Front Street, Silver Storm will be open from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m. Marj Bates Studio will also open at 10 a.m. and have a holiday sale until 4 p.m.
At the Mill Wharf, Daniel Byrnes in the Pub from 9 p.m. till 12 a.m., and the Inn at Scituate Harbor will host Mark & Wendy playing 7:30 p.m. till 10:30 p.m. at the Dog Watch
Sunday at Front Street
Coastal Holiday House Tours will kick off from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are available beforehand, and attendees are asked to bring a new and unwrapped toy to donate to Cradles to Crayons.
All proceeds from the event will additionally go to Scituate Elementary Schools.
For more information on the tour or where to buy tickets, click here: www.scituatehousetour.com
The Marj Bates Studio holiday sale will continue on Front Street from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.
The Mill Wharf is also featuring a jazz brunch from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. featuring the Lance Van Lenten Trio.
Local author and Boston University Journalism chairman William McKeen posts this on Facebook:
Attention citizens of Boston's South Shore! I will be signing books during the Cohasset Holiday Stroll, Dec. 14, 4-7 pm at Twist, on Main Street in Cohasset Village. Come share a mug o' nog. To get a signed book, of course, you must buy it. Do';t forget that I have many children and they'd like to go back to three meals a day. Click on the post for more details. God bless us everyone!
Town officials are working on some final changes to the usage policy for the Scituate Harbor Community Building on Jericho Road, with hopes to start renting out the building for private and public events.
Despite voting on a draft policy at a meeting in late November, the policy still needs work, with selectmen wanting increases to the deposit fee, different rental fees for in-town or out-of-town groups, and more specifications on the types of events that can be held at the facility.
“Let’s try to get it right the first time, rather than opening it up and creating messes,” said Selectman John Danehey at the November meeting.
The policy was voted on, contingent on the amendments discussed at the meeting; Danehey said the final policy will have to be reviewed by the board prior to its implementation.
The building, acquired by the town for $1.8 million in 2010 with mitigation money from the Greenbush T station, offers three rooms and 70 parking spots, with an occupancy limit currently estimated at 345 people.
Since the town purchased the once-dilapidated building, a slew of repairs have taken place at the structure, including a new roof, interior repairs, fixes to bathrooms, and carpentry upgrades.
Vinchesi said the building is far from pretty, but officials have begun to debate access to the building.
Preliminary policies discussed by selectmen would require a minimum rental of six hours, including an hour each for set-up and clean-up. The building would be available between 7:30 a.m. and 11 p.m.
The service of beer and wine must be done through an approved catering or bartending service, with a one-day beer and wine license approval required from the town.
Decorations must be removed at the end of the function, with confetti and rice not allowed inside the building. Music can also only be played inside the building.
Though Selectman Marty O’Toole suggested reducing the signing of the rental agreement from 30 days prior to the event to a shorter time period, others recommended waiting.
“If it’s a hurdle and it’s restricting and it’s empty, that’s something to look at,” Selectman Rick Murray said at the meeting.
Danehey also suggested putting in some additional amenities in the kitchen if the space was popular.
Changes may also be pending to the rental fee, currently estimated at $300 for the first hour, with $100 each additional hour. Selectmen hoped to develop a tiered fee for in-town verses out-of-town renters.
The refundable cleaning deposit of $100 may also be changed to accommodate larger anticipated cleaning costs.
“We’re picking at things that are good,” Murray said. “It’s a quick turnaround, and we’re trying to get this going.”
Despite the approved policies, officials still need to put the reservation management services out to bid.
“We’re sending out a bid for someone to handle the reservation for both [the Community Center and Maritime Building] structures, handle the caterers, do the scheduling, collect the money…there are a number of things that [are] involved,” said Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi.
Town officials are also planning to create a revolving account for the facility through Annual Town Meeting to use proceeds from rental costs on future updates. According to Vinchesi, the remaining Greenbush mitigation money can only be used towards major improvements.
Lawmakers waded back into a battle waged for years between environmentalists who want to shorten the permitting process for smaller wind energy projects and residents who say their health suffers from living near a turbine.
During a legislative hearing Tuesday, residents who live near turbines accused environmental activists of persistently pushing legislation to make it easier to permit land-based wind energy projects without acknowledging health effects. Environmentalists argued benefits of the renewable energy outweigh some of the negative impacts.
George Bachrach, president of the Environmental League of Massachusetts, told lawmakers on the Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee they need to have the political will to pass legislation streamlining the permitting process.
“Wind energy is the future,” he said. “And to think that progress in this area can come without any harm is a misconception.”
Bachrach argued that when highways were built some people were hurt when they lost property, but there was “overall common good.”
“Somehow there is this notion in Massachusetts that we cannot build wind energy unless no one is hurt,” he said.
Two bills before the committee (H 2980 and S 1591), filed by Rep. Frank Smizik and Sen. Barry Finegold, would institute comprehensive siting reform for land-based wind projects.
Similar legislation made it all the way through the House in 2010, but the Senate failed to finish work on the bill. Senators in favor of it attempted to get it passed during informal sessions, but it was repeatedly blocked by opponents during that summer.
Supporters of that bill, including the Patrick administration, said it would have helped expedite wind-based turbine projects while preserving the ability of municipalities to reject unwanted projects. No one from the Patrick administration testified on the bills Tuesday.
During the hearing, some opponents argued Massachusetts is too densely populated to allow wind turbines to be built anywhere on land.
Residents from Falmouth who live near a wind facility urged lawmakers not to pass the bill.
Neil Anderson, a Falmouth resident who lives one quarter-mile away from a turbine, described his suffering. Along with headaches, Anderson said he has trouble concentrating and memory loss. He said he has to leave his house when the winds are high.
“My life has been torn upside down. All I do now is fight wind turbines,” he said.
Anderson refuted claims by some environmentalists who say the wind turbines do not cause health problems.
“They just don’t have a clue about what is going on,” Anderson said. “This is about massive wind generators that are just too close.”
Anderson argued that Massachusetts is too densely populated for turbines to be sited anywhere in the state. “They don’t belong anywhere in Massachusetts,” he said.
He invited lawmakers to sit on his front porch and “see what these turbines can do.”
“Maybe one of you will get a headache, start feeling the pressure in your ears, because it’s real,” Anderson said.
In January 2012, an independent report commissioned by the Patrick administration concluded that wind turbines present little more than an "annoyance" to residents and that limited evidence exists to support claims of devastating health impacts. Falmouth and western Massachusetts residents argued at the time that the report was biased and based on "cherry-picked" information that ignored the real-world impact of turbines.
Smizik, a Democrat from Brookline who chairs the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, said current law favors large fossil fuel plants because only energy plants larger than 100 megawatts can go to the Energy Facilities Siting Board for a consolidated permit. Land-based facilities tend to be much smaller, so they do not have the “luxury” of the fast-tracked permitting option available to fossil fuel plants.
Smizik said the legislation he filed would streamline the process for on-shore wind energy only if the project met strict public safety and environmental standards.
“This bill does not give special interest to the wind energy industry, it just levels the playing field,” Smizik said.
The legislation establishes clear standards and timely and predictable permitting procedures, Smizik said, reducing the time and cost for wind projects.
Smizik said the legislation does not take away local control, something opponents contend it does. There is opportunity for public input, he said.
Rep. Timothy Madden, a Democrat from Nantucket, opposed the bill, saying it takes away a “great deal” of local control.
“My opposition on this bill has not changed over the last several years,” Madden said.
Madden filed a bill (H 2957) that would allow coastal communities to create exclusion zones for wind turbine development.
Smizik said one area of opportunity for wind energy that is being missed is in agricultural land. Farmers struggling to maintain viable farmlands could develop wind farms on their land as a way to power farms and increase profits by selling the energy, he said.
Michael Parry, a sheep farmer who owns 220 acres in Shelburne, said he would never put a wind facility on his property after researching the effects of turbines.
“I would never subject our neighbors to that. I wouldn’t subject my family to that, and I wouldn’t subject my livestock to that,” he said.
Parry mentioned a wind facility located near a dairy farm in Glenmore, Wisconsin where the farmer reported reduced milk production from his cows after the turbines went up. Parry said he favors renewable energy, but feels environmentalists are pushing projects before the impacts are understood.