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Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts names interim CEO

January 8, 2014 02:12 PM

Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts announced Monday that Pamela Salkovitz of Sudbury has been named interim Chief Executive Officer of the council.

"Ms. Salkovitz is a results-driven executive with vast experience in consumer branding," the council said in a statement. "During the past three years, she has been a partner at Konnected Advisors, providing services to private equity and start-up to mid-sized companies across multiple industries."

Among her duties there, the council said, Salkovitz has helped develop business models and worked with teams to formulate and execute strategy while focusing on driving growth and achieving cost efficiencies.

She will take a leave of absence from Konnected Advisors while she serves as Interim CEO at the Girl Scounts council.

Previously, Salkovitz served as president of the Stride Rite Children's Group, a multi-million dollar children’s footwear and accessories business. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University and a BBA from the Isenberg School of Management at UMASS/Amherst.

As Interim CEO at the Girl Scouts council, she will lead current operations while preparing for the future.

Salkovitz received Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts' "Leading Women" Award in 2007, joined its Board of Directors in 2013, and has served on the council's Development Committee since 2010. She will serve in a non-voting capacity on the board until the transition to a permanent council CEO is completed.

Board President Elizabeth Stevenson said Salkovitz was selected in part because she is a strategic thinker with a track record of delivering high growth and profitability for world-class consumer brands that appeal to women and children.

"Pam is known for strong financial management, operational productivity and building high quality teams and partnerships, while developing creative solutions to drive revenue," Stevenson said. "By applying this expertise at GSEM, she will help the council maximize current revenue streams and develop new ventures to ensure financial sustainability," she said.

Salkovitz said, "Throughout my years of service to GSEM and most recently as a member of the Board of Directors, I have been inspired by the girls' stories about how Girl Scouts has helped them become leaders. I am truly excited and honored to contribute to the organization in this new capacity, and look forward to working collaboratively with the board and senior staff to achieve current goals while building a plan for the next phase of the council."

Stevenson added, "Pam is well-positioned to ensure continuity as we identify and launch new initiatives designed to bring the Girl Scout leadership experience to more girls, create new innovative and effective programming, and strengthen the council's financial position."

Girl Scounts of Eastern Massachusetts has formed a search committee, led by Board Member Roc O'Connell, which will engage an executive search firm and manage a national CEO search. The search process is expected to take six months.

Nearly a dozen Massachusetts towns raise age for cigarette sales

December 26, 2013 06:43 PM

Nearly a dozen communities across the state within the past year have raised the age for tobacco sales higher than 18 years old, evidence of a slow-spreading movement that activists say will reduce cigarette use among teens.

Most states, including Massachusetts, allow 18-year-olds to buy tobacco products. Alaska, Alabama, Utah and New Jersey are the exceptions, all of which have pushed the legal age to 19.

Until last year, Needham was the only community in the United States that prohibited sales to anyone under 21 years old – a change the town made in 2005, according to D.J. Wilson, the tobacco control director at the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

Since then, a handful of other Bay State communities have followed behind. Brookline, Belmont, Sharon, Watertown, Westwood, Walpole and Sudbury have all outlawed the sale of tobacco to anyone under 21 within the past year, according to Wilson.

Canton, Ashland, Dedham and Arlington also changed their bylaws to prohibit sales of tobacco to anyone under 19, with Arlington planning to push its age restriction up to 21 years old over a three-year phase-in plan.

“In those towns we hope to see it is actually harder for kids to get their hands on tobacco products,” Wilson said, adding it is too soon to gather any data on smoking rates in those towns.

Other cities and towns across Massachusetts and the country are also looking to ban tobacco sales to young adults. This past spring, New York City became the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of tobacco to anyone under 21. In Massachusetts, the board of health in Newburyport is currently debating a measure that would outlaw sales to anyone under 21. The move faces resistance from the city mayor and some retailers.

“It is interesting in that it kind of cascaded pretty quickly,” Wilson said about the age restriction for tobacco sales.

Critics argue local officials are overstepping their authority, and anyone over 18 is an adult capable of making their own decisions about whether to smoke.

Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, called the moves “an overreach” by local governments. Anti-tobacco activists are attempting to take the path of least resistance by pushing age restrictions at the local level rather than face a more difficult battle to do it statewide, Hurst said.

“They try to pick off cities and towns here and there,” he said. “Local officials have to know that they are putting their own consumers and employers at a disadvantage.”

Activists credit Dr. Jonathan Winickoff, a pediatrician at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Dr. Lester Hartman, a pediatrician in Westwood, with spearheading the change one community at a time.

Winickoff said a slow, steady approach will have a major public health impact statewide.

“I think community by community is what we are going to do for a while, and that’s the way to have this move forward,” Winickoff told the News Service.

Winickoff said he thinks part of the reason the change is spreading is because local town officials have seen the data from Needham. In the eight years since the age-restriction went into effect, the smoking rate for Needham high school students dropped precipitously, according to Winickoff.

The smoking rate for adults who live in Needham is 8 percent compared to 18.1 percent statewide, according to data collected by the Tobacco Control Program at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Deaths from lung cancer among men from Needham is 24 percent lower than the state average, while women from Needham die from lung cancer at a rate 33 percent lower than the statewide average for women, according to DPH data.

Approximately 90 percent of all smokers begin the habit before they are 21, according to Winickoff and other anti-tobacco activists.

Tami Gouveia, executive director of Tobacco Free Massachusetts, said she is not sure if age-restrictions will continue to catch on in other cities and towns as a way of reducing young people’s access to tobacco. “It is really at the beginning stages of folks starting to take a hard look at this,” she said.

Gouveia compared it to when the legal drinking age was raised from 18 to 21.

Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday said she thinks increasing the legal age to buy tobacco is unnecessary and an inappropriate issue for the board of health to focus on.

“The legal age is 18. It is the age when you are an adult. You can fight in our wars. You have the right to vote. You can marry. And now we are going to tell you, ‘You can’t buy a pack of cigarettes if you want one,’” Holaday said.

Holaday said she will not dedicate any police resources to enforcing an age restriction on tobacco sales in Newburyport, leaving the question of how effective it might be in that city.

Increasing the legal age for cigarette sales will only hurt local retailers and send consumers to convenience stores in neighboring communities, Holaday said.

Hurst, from the Retailers Association, agreed. If cigarette sales are banned to anyone under 21 in one town, but legal in the next town, residents will buy them in the neighboring community, Hurst said. Secondly, he said, different rules on consumer products in the 351 cities and towns around the state will cause problems.

“I think our local officials have to be willing to stand up to these advocates who are pushing these agendas and tell them, ‘Go hop in your car and go to Boston to push a statewide agenda.’ It has no business being considered at the local level,” Hurst said.

Transportation bill includes money for bike paths around the state

December 12, 2013 05:00 PM

The transportation bond bill making its way through committees on Beacon Hill retains the walking and bicycling path spending at the same level the governor requested even as the overall spending authorized in the bill is significantly smaller.

Gov. Deval Patrick asked for $429.7 million for multi-use paths as part of his $19 billion transportation bond bill he wanted to fund through a $1.9 billion tax increase.

The Transportation Committee redrafted the bill, giving it a $12.1 billion price tag, shortening its term from 10 years to five years and keeping the same level of authorization for bike paths – though the actual spending decisions are handled by the executive branch.

MassDOT has a list of 47 projects totaling $407 million. The most expensive projects are large sections of the Blackstone River Greenway, which would cost $67 million. The path would link Providence to Worcester along the route of an old canal.

The second costliest, at $36 million, is the Mass Central Rail Trail, running from Berlin to Waltham.

The Mattapoisett Rail Trail phase 2 is the third costliest project, at $28.5 million, and would extend a trail along the coast.

There are a range of other projects in Abington, Boston, Boxford, Acton, Barnstable, Bellingham, Lee and many other cities and towns in the state. A Patrick administration official testifying before a legislative committee Wednesday promised to follow up with information about spending on multi-use paths.

- A. Metzger/SHNS

State Sen. Barrett joins committees on health, adoption, early edication

December 12, 2013 12:40 PM

State Sen. Mike Barrett, a Lexington Democrat who also represents Waltham and other nearby communities, has been named to three committees specializing in health disparities, adoption costs, and early education access, according to a statement from his office.

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State Sen. Mike Barrett
He was recently named to the Health Disparities Council, the Early Education and Care Commission, and a newly-created task force on the adoption process in Massachusetts. The Health Disparities Council, created in 2006, looks for solutions to health care inequalities. The council includes hospitals, insurance companies, community health centers, and the Massachusetts Medical Society, among others. Originally charged with examining racial and ethnic disparities, the council included people with disabilities earlier this year after Barrett pushed for it, according to his office. Representatives noted that he also serves as Senate chair on the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities. His office, citing the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, said that 13 percent of disabled Massachusetts residents report getting to a doctor is prohibitively expensive, compared to 6 percent of people without a disability. That gap is small relative to other states, but Barrett said in his statement that more can be done. When people with disabilities do get to the doctor’s office, Barrett said, they face further challenges: Earlier this year, a survey of more than 250 specialists in major American cities found that fewer than 10 percent of offices had disability-friendly equipment, such as height-adjustable examining tables, and most lacked specially-trained employees, the statement said.

“On the whole, people with disabilities smoke at a higher rate and have higher obesity numbers,” said Barrett, a healthcare IT specialist by profession, in his statement. “When you dig deeper, you’ll see this population also has a harder time seeing doctors due to high costs.”

Barrett has also been appointed to a newly-formed adoption task force which will recommend ways to reduce costs and delays in the adoption process. The task force, led by children and families department commissioner Olga Roche, will consult with chief justices of the probate and family and juvenile courts to come up with solutions.

Adoption expenses consist of home study and legal fees, among other costs, Barrett's office said.

Barrett will also serve on the recently-created Early Education and Care Commission, which will study early education's high costs and care services, and look at ways to expand access.

Citing the nonprofit Early Education for All, Barrett's office said 40 percent of pre-school aged children in Massachusetts are not enrolled in an early education program.

“Sixteen percent of kids who aren’t reading at a proficient level when they finish third grade end up not graduating from high school on time,” Barrett said. “We should be investing in their future from an early age.”

For more information, visit Barrett's legislative page.

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Follow us on Twitter: @yourtownwaltham, @jaclynreiss

Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Charges in death of Stephen Rakes updated to murder

November 15, 2013 05:16 PM

The following is a press release from the Middlesex District Attorney's Office:


Charges against William Camuti, 69, of Sudbury, have been upgraded to murder for the death of Stephen Rakes, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced today.

A recalled Middlesex Grand Jury indicted Camuti today on a charge of murder. He was previously indicted October 3 on charges of attempted murder, misleading police, and unlawful disposition of human remains.

An arraignment date in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn has not yet been scheduled.

“The defendant lured the victim to a meeting at which they were to discuss a business deal. Instead the defendant used the meeting as an occasion to serve the victim a poisoned iced coffee,” said District Attorney Ryan. “Based upon the ruling of the Medical Examiner we have now charged the defendant with murder. As the case moves forward, we intend to hold the defendant accountable for this premeditated murder.”

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled in October that the cause of Rakes’ death was acute cyanide toxicity and the manner of death was homicide.

The body of Rakes, 59, of Quincy – with no identification, keys or cell phone – was discovered at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 17 in a wooded area off Mill Street in Lincoln.

Lincoln Police and Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office immediately launched an investigation.

Surveillance video showed Rakes leaving the Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse the afternoon of July 16, where he had been regularly attending the trial of Whitey Bulger. He appeared to be wearing the same clothing when his body was found.

The investigation revealed that Camuti and Rakes had a longstanding business relationship. The defendant is alleged to have owed Rakes a significant amount of money which Rakes was attempting to collect. Based on evidence gathered by investigators, Camuti and Rakes spoke by phone on Tuesday, July 16 and Camuti requested a meeting to discuss a potential investment property in Wilmington.

Camuti allegedly met the victim around 1:45 p.m. at McDonald’s on Main Street in Waltham on July 16. The defendant purchased two iced coffees, one of which he had allegedly mixed with two teaspoons of potassium cyanide. He gave the laced drink to the victim, who drank from it.

It is alleged that the defendant drove around Waltham, Woburn, Burlington and Lincoln for several hours with the victim in the vehicle. It is further alleged the defendant dumped the body of Rakes in the wooded area in Lincoln where it was found the next day.

During the ensuing investigation, Camuti who was the last person known to have seen or spoken to Rakes on July 16 was interviewed by police. It is alleged that on two consecutive days Camuti misled these investigators.

Camuti was arrested August 2 and arraigned in Concord District Court, where he was held without bail following a dangerousness hearing.

These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The incident remains under investigation by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office and the Lincoln Police.

The prosecutor assigned to the case is Assistant District Attorney Adrienne Lynch, Chief of Homicide. The Victim Witness Advocate is Kristin D’Agnelli.

Hanscom Field at issue in Nov. 21 forum in Lexington

November 14, 2013 10:18 AM
Hanscom Field at issue Nov. 21 (via Your Arlington)

  Representative Jay Kaufman's award-winning public-policy forum, Open House, brings another important topic for area residents, the role that Hanscom Field and Hanscom Air Force Base play in the community and state. It is set for Thursday, Nov. 21…

Sudbury teen asks Apple to change its outdated definition of 'gay'

November 13, 2013 04:48 PM
Massachusetts teen shocked by MacBook’s definition of ‘gay,’ and so is Apple (via Raw Story )

A Massachusetts teenager said she was so shocked to see an offensive and outdated definition for the word “gay” in Apple’s online dictionary that she asked the company to change it. And in another shock, the 15-year-old said a company official…

B'nai B'rith Housing breaks ground on Sudbury apartment complex

November 8, 2013 04:31 PM

B'nai B'rith Housing formally broke ground Friday on The Coolidge at Sudbury, a 64-unit apartment complex for active seniors and older adults age 55 and over.

“This is a huge milestone for us for a development that will allow more local seniors to remain in their community by choosing to live at The Coolidge,” said B'nai B'rith Housing's executive director, Susan Gittelman. “All the pieces are in place, and once construction is complete, we look forward to an opening and the arrival of new residents in late summer 2014.”

The development will be located at 189 Boston Post Road (Route 20) in Sudbury. It is financed through housing tax credits, state housing programs, the Town of Sudbury Housing trust and the West Metro HOME Consortium.

“This project will have a positive impact on our affordable housing goals in several ways," said John Drobinsky, chairman of the Sudbury Board of Selectmen. "The project will provide 64 rental units that we have a limited supply of, will serve seniors exclusively, and will increase our affordable housing. It sends a positive message for seniors and demonstrates Sudbury’ commitment to diversity in our housing stock.”

A short series of speeches followed a breakfast reception, and included Marvin Siflinger, board president for B’nai B’rith Housing, and State Senator Jamie Eldridge, who also cochairs the Joint Committee on Housing. Other guests included Robert Gallery, Massachusetts President of Bank of America Merrill Lynch; Barbara Fields, Regional Administrator of U.S. Housing and Urban Development; and Aaron Gornstein, state Undersecretary for Housing and Community Development.

Shandana Mufti can be reached at shandana.mufti@globe.com.

Regional and vocational technical schools would get more money under bill

October 24, 2013 04:39 PM

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.

Fun ways to celebrate Halloween west of Boston

October 20, 2013 12:27 PM

On the one hand, there is the kitschy Halloween beloved by small children, with silly or clever costumes, jack-o’-lanterns, and mountains of candy. On the other hand, there is the haunted-house fun of a good scare — be it from a gory costume or a spooky noise.

While traditional house-to-house trick-or-treating may still be the best way to spend Halloween itself, there are also any number of ways to explore the other dimensions of the holiday -- whether your preference leans more toward a walk through a graveyard or a craft activity.

Here some of the many ways to celebrate Halloween in communities west of Boston this year.

-- Halloween Walk and Tour of the Old Burying Ground in Lexington takes place Saturday (Oct 26) at 6:30 p.m. and leaves from the Depot Building, 13 Depot Square. Admission is $10 for adults and $6 for children, with discounts for Lexington Historical Society members. For reservations, more information, call 781-862-1703 or go to www.lexingtonhistory.org.

-- Frightful Friday at Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham, in its final installment this week, has tours starting at 7 and 8:30 p.m. Admission is $15 adults, $10 for ages 5 through 12 and Gore Place members. Capacity is limited. For tickets, call 781-894-2798 or visit www.goreplace.org.

-- Murder at the Masquerade takes place at Merchants Row in the Colonial Inn, 48 Monument Square, Concord, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:15. The ticket price, which includes a gourmet three-course dinner, is $69. For reservations, e-mail kkunce@concordscolonialinn.com or call 978-371-2908, ext 544.

-- Spookapella, a concert by North Shore Acapella and guests, takes place Saturday Oct 26 cq/ts at the Center for Arts, 14 Summer St., Natick. The show begins at 8 p.m.; tickets are $22, or $20 for TCAN members. For tickets or information, call 508-647-0097 or go to www.natickarts.org.

-- Halloween Open House at Dana Hall School of Music, 103 Grove St. in Wellesley, is next Sunday, (October 27)2-4 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged; call 781-237-6542 or e-mail music@danahall.org.

-- Pumpkin Patch, a seasonal party held annually by the Sudbury Valley Trustees at Wolbach Farm on Wolbach Road in Sudbury, is scheduled for Saturday(Oct 26). Admission is free for SVT members; $2 per person for nonmembers, with a family maximum of $10. For more details, call 978-443-5588 or go online to www.svtweb.org.

-- Decorate a Bag at Artbeat, 212A Mass Ave. in Arlington, Saturday (Oct 26)from noon to 7 p.m., and next Sunday (Oct 27) from noon to 5 p.m. Admission and supplies are free. For more information, call 781-646-2200 or go to www.artbeatonline.com.

-- Halloween Family Day at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, on the Regis College campus at 235 Wellesley St. in Weston, takes place Saturday (Oct 26)from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 781-768-8367 or go to www.spellman.org.

-- Welcome to Our [Halloween] Home at the Orchard House, 399 Lexington Road, Concord, offers a special after-hours tour Saturday scheduled for Saturday(Oct 26)from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. Admission $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and college students, $8 for ages 6-17, and $4 for ages 2-6. A family rate for two adults and up to four youths for this event will be offered at $30. Space is limited; reservations can be made by calling 978-369-4118, ext. 106; for more information, go to www.louisamayalcott.org.

-- Tales of the Night at Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, 208 South Great Road in Lincoln, takes place Thursday and Friday (Oct 24 and 25)from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $11 before Wednesday, Oct. 23, or after that for $13. Call 781-259-2218 or go to www.massaudubon.org/drumlin.

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