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Boston Main Streets Foundation names recipients of Innovation and Impact Grants

February 28, 2014 11:21 AM

The Boston Main Streets Foundation recently named the recipients of its Innovation and Impact Grants.

The grants, which will support initiatives in seven Main Streets Districts, reflect the Boston Main Streets Foundation’s push for more direct funding of proposals that seek to stimulate growth and participation in Boston’s commercial districts, according to a statement from the organization.

“We’re funding a range of innovative projects through this initiative with the Boston Main Streets Foundation,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “This is a public-private partnership that really works; our Main Streets districts can enhance what makes them unique and support their business owners.”

Partially funded through federal dollars administered by the city of Boston, Main Street groups work to revitalize commercial districts in Boston’s neighborhoods. Founded in 1995, there are currently 20 Main Street Districts city-wide.

Ranging from $3,000 to $5,000, the grants support a variety of new programs and initiatives including cellphone apps, street pole banners, and farmers’ markets.

“These grants can have a profound impact,” Sheila Dillon, director of the Department of Neighborhood Development, said in a statement. “Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a graduation of an ESL Business English Class that was funded in the first round. Business owners from Hyde Jackson and Egleston Square Main Streets collaborated to make their idea a reality, partnering with their local YMCA. It was a wonderful proposal, and one I’m sure will have far-reaching effects.”

The Mattapan Square Main Streets, the city’s newest Main Street organization, received $3,000 to support a series of local business fairs dubbed “Think Big!” The program aims to provide business owners with the tools and know-how to expand their reach.

The Roslindale Village Main Streets, the city’s oldest Main Street District, received $5,000 to develop an app that encourages and rewards customers for shopping local.

The Allston Village Main Streets received $5,000 to support the completion of a mural.

The Greater Grove Hall Main Streets, which recently named a new executive director, received $5,000 to develop a logo and banners to help brand the shopping district that straddles the Roxbury/Dorchester border.

The Uphams Corner Main Street received $5,000 for planters that will be painted by local artists and adopted by local businesses, to help support the neighborhood’s push for more green space and public art.

The Hyde Park Main Streets received $5,000 for banners and branding and the West Roxbury Main Streets received $4,600 to expand its farmers’ market.

“We sincerely congratulate these winners for their thoughtful proposals, and the hard work that they’re doing every day to improve their local Boston Main Streets District,” Joel Sklar, president of the Boston Main Streets Foundation, said in a statement. “I know that I speak for the rest of the Board when I say that I’m looking forward to seeing these innovative and impactful proposals become reality to the benefit of Boston's small businesses and neighborhoods.”

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

City Councilor Matt O'Malley announces February district office hours

February 10, 2014 12:01 PM

The following is an announcement from District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley:

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley holds his district office hours at different locations in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury each month.

O’Malley’s February district office hours will be held on:

• Thursday, Feb. 20 from 4 to 5 p.m. at Roche Bros., at 1800 Centre St. in West Roxbury

• Friday, Feb. 28 from 8 to 9 a.m. at J.P. Licks, at 659 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain

O’Malley’s City Hall office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To reach his office call 617-635-4220.

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MBTA to bring countdown clock system to bus stations

February 6, 2014 11:19 AM

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(MBTA)

The MBTA plans to soon install countdown clocks at a number of bus stations throughout its system to notify riders when the next bus on each route will leave that station, the agency announced today.

The bus way at Forest Hills Station in Jamaica Plain will be the first bus location to get the electronic message boards, according to T spokeswoman Kelly Smith.

Signs are also planned in bus ways at Dudley Square and Ruggles stations, she said. Eight other stations have been "tentatively" chosen to receive the signs: Harvard Square; Haymarket, Ashmont; Kenmore; Maverick, Wonderland, Jackson Square, and Central Square.

The signs should be operational by summer, Smith said.

The signs, using real-time bus tracking data, will provide information about when each route serving that station is next expected to depart. The signs will feature both visual and audio messages.

The project is funded through federal stimulus money, and each sign costs about $50,000, a price tag that includes the display, hardware, software, installation, maintenance and a push-button activated sound system so that people with visual impairments can access the information on the sign, she said.

Most stations will have one sign each. Dudley, because of its size, will have two, she said.

"I've often said our buses are the work horses of our system, serving more than 375,000 people on a typical weekday," T general manager Beverly Scott said in a statement. "The countdown signs at our busiest bus stops will provide customers with information that will make their public transit experience easier and more convenient."

Last week, the T completed an 18-month-long project to activate a total of 314 countdown clocks at all 53 subway stations on the Red, Orange and Blue lines, which officials said made the T one of the first transit agencies in the country to equip all heavy rail stations with train-arrival information.

Officials said the signs have been popular and well-received by riders, and since they were introduced in the summer of 2012 the agency said it has made regular improvements based on rider feedback, including making the signs more accurate and easier to see.

The T said it expects to introduce the countdown clock system to the Green Line by the end of this year. The light rail line is undergoing work to upgrade its less-sophisticated train tracking system with GPS and sensor technology to allow for countdown clock capability.

The agency has also said technology upgrades on the Green Line will allow smartphone-carrying riders to be able to track in real-time the whereabouts and expected arrival of the line's trains by 2015.

Trains on the Red, Orange and Blue have been tracked by mobile applications since the fall of 2010, when the agency made real-time train location data on those lines available to private software developers, who have created numerous smartphone applications. The T made real-time data on bus locations available to software developers in fall of 2009.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com.
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(MBTA)

Championship week: Latin Academy leads after first day of track competition

February 3, 2014 09:58 PM

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The Boston City League indoor track championship kicked off Monday at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, and the three-time defending champion Latin Academy girls’ and boys’ indoor track teams stand in first place after the first day of competition.

The girls’ team racked up 80 points in Monday’s events. O’Bryant currently stands in second place with 33 points, and West Roxbury holds the third spot with 32 points.

Sophomore Ashley Lewis led the way for Latin Academy, winning the 300-meter dash in an impressive 41.52 seconds. She also finished fourth in the long jump.

“It feels great because last year I came in second and I got my best time today,” Lewis said of her 300 victory. “It feels really good.”

Latin Academy sophomore Imani Presley finished second in the 300, just behind Lewis in 44.52.

“This is my second time since eighth grade running it and this is my best time,” Presley said. “It was exhausting but I was glad I was able to push myself and get second.”

Latin Academy swept the 2-mile run. Kelly Dao took the top spot in 15:46.12.

O’Bryant’s Juleen Lewis won the 55-meter dash and the long jump. West Roxbury’s Hirmine Francois won the high jump and also finished fourth in the 300.

The Latin Academy boys’ squad earned 65 points Monday. Second-place O’Bryant scored 40 points, and Charlestown rounds out the top three with 22 points.

Senior Malik Anderson captured 20 points for the Dragons’ team total with wins in the 55-meter dash and the high jump.

Anderson edged East Boston’s Orlandino Gray to win the 55. Anderson finished in 6.69 seconds and Gray finished in 6.80.

“I’ve been working at the 55 all my track career and I've always been pretty good at it but I’ve gotten better this year,” Anderson said.

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O’Bryant senior Brian Donna defeated Latin Academy senior Xavier Hill in the 55-meter hurdles, but Hill topped Donna in the long jump with a 20-foot-1-inch leap.

Snowden's Joseph West won the 300-meter dash in 38.35 seconds, just barely topping South Boston freshman J'Saun Bastien's time of 38.64.

Anderson will be back on the track tomorrow as part of Latin Academy’s 4x400-meter relay team. He said he thinks his team is in good shape heading into the second day of competition.

“I think we stand pretty well,” he said. “Everyone’s been doing their best and getting good times and getting good heights. In long jumps and shot puts everyone’s been doing their best, so I think we have good standing.”

The second and final day of competition begins Tuesday at 3:00 p.m.

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

20 medical marijuana dispensary licenses awarded in Mass.

January 31, 2014 12:24 PM

State health officials Friday released the names of companies that will receive the first 20 licenses to open medical marijuana dispensaries in Massachusetts.

In Middlesex County, licenses will go to facilities slated for Lowell, Ayer, Newton, and Cambridge. In Norfolk County, the locations are in Brookline and Quincy. In Suffolk County, two are slated in Boston.

In Plymouth county, licenses will go to facilities slated for Plymouth and Brockton. And in Worcester County, the locations are in Milford and Worcester. In Essex County, they are slated in Salem and Haverhill.

Here are the others: Mashpee and Dennis in Barnstable County; Taunton and Fairhaven in Bristol County; Holyoke in Hampden County; and Northampton in Hampshire County.

Counties without a selected dispensary include Berkshire, Franklin, Dukes and Nantucket.


Boston named third best US city for public transit

January 28, 2014 05:08 PM

This one's a surprise: Boston--and by extension, its pride and joy of a transit system--was ranked the third best US city for public transportation by Walk Score.

To assemble the ranking, Walk Score calculated the Transit Score of 316 cities and nearly 7,000 neighborhoods. Boston scored a 75, falling behind New York (81) and San Francisco (80.)

Transit Scores were based on the average resident's access to public transit in the city, using a population-weighted methodology. Only cities with more than 500,000 people were included in the top list.

Walk Score said the ranking favored Northeast cities "with established subway systems."

In other MBTA news, the Green Line is delayed.

Mojica's last-second free throws lift Brighton over West Roxbury

January 24, 2014 10:28 PM

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With just six seconds remaining in a tie game, Brighton senior guard Mark Mojica drained two free throws to give the visiting Bengals a 57-55 victory over West Roxbury Friday night.

Mojica finished with 10 points, but his final 2 were undoubtedly the most important. He said only one thing was on his mind when he got to the line with the game in his hands.

“I was thinking I had to knock down these free throws,” Mojica said “And that’s it.”

Brighton held an 18-14 advantage after the first quarter and extended the lead in the second. At halftime, the Bengals led, 37-28.

Although Brighton dominated the first half, West Roxbury came out strong in the third quarter. Junior guard Tyree Gross knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to open the frame and immediately cut into Brighton’s lead. After a quarter of solid defensive play and sharp shooting by the Raiders, Brighton’s advantage had dwindled to just 2 heading into the final eight minutes.

Brighton coach Hugh Coleman said he needed his team to be structured on defense and stay within the game plan in the fourth quarter.

“I don’t think we fully played our game in the third quarter,” Coleman said. “We were settling for a lot of open threes in the third quarter so I wanted more shots to the basket.”

Gross opened the fourth quarter with a layup to tie the game at 48 apiece. He then made another to give the Raiders their first lead since they were up, 4-2, in the game’s opening minutes.

Following a layup from Brighton junior center Jason Jones, West Roxbury senior forward Javonte Currin nailed a 3-pointer to put the Raiders on top once again.

The Bengals scored 5 straight points to take a 55-53 lead, but with 12 seconds left on the clock, Currin hit a jumper that kept West Roxbury in the contest.

But with 6 seconds to go, Mojica was fouled and headed to the stripe with a chance to win the game for Brighton.

During the game’s final timeout, right before Mojica headed to the line, Coleman said he told his player “to be solid on the free throws.” He also told him to be confident and just take the shot.

“Then getting back, we knew that [West Roxbury] had burned their last time out so we knew that they would have to get it and go,” Coleman said. “So as long as we kept somebody in front of them, that would’ve been the key for us. They got a shot at the end which had a chance, but luckily for us it didn’t go in so we won the game.”

Jones and sophomore guard Stephen Bouyer each scored 10 points for Brighton. West Roxbury junior guard Tysaul Horton finished with a game-high 16 points.

The defending Division 4 state champions improved to 4-6.

“Biggest challenge is we have four freshmen playing varsity. We have two sophomores playing varsity,” Coleman said. “We have only two guys returning from the state championship team that played significant minutes. Everyone else were role players and didn’t play significant minutes. We lost seven guys last year, four of which were considered to be the top players in the state.

“So to go from that to a very young team, an inexperienced team, that’s the reason why we’re seesawing right now trying to find our identity with the new team.”

Despite the uphill battle the Bengals face heading down the stretch, Mojica’s goal from the start of the season has not changed.

“I’m trying to win cities and states again,” he said.

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

What does a snow emergency mean?

January 21, 2014 03:14 PM


CoUrbanize Blog mapped out where to (and where not to) park your car during snow emergencies in the Boston area.

It's snowing or about to snow, and suddenly the announcements start coming. Public schools are closed. Meetings cancelled. A snow emergency and parking ban declared. But what does that mean?

Here's the short answer: A snow emergency is the term for the active response plan of a municipality or county during a snow storm. In Massachusetts, more often than not it is used to indicate weather-related parking bans.

During snow emergencies, parking is restricted on certain streets in Boston-area cities. If you are parked on one of those streets and fail to move your car by the appointed time, it most likely will be ticketed or towed.

But like many things in Eastern Massachusetts, the details vary by municipality. Here's a look at some of the area's most populous cities' policies.

Boston:

In Boston, only major thoroughfares (Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, Newbury Street, etc.) are affected by a snow emergency's parking ban. Your definition of "major arterial" may differ from the city's, so visit the city's map or list by neighborhood before stashing your car during a storm.

If you need a place to park in Boston during the storm, the city offers discounted parking at several parking lots and garages to cars with resident parking stickers. The hitch: you must move your car within two hours of the snow emergency being lifted.

Cambridge

Cambridge will tag and tow your car if it's parked on certain streets during a snow emergency. The city has 82 streets with parking bans--some affect the whole street, others one side. Look for signs indicating whether there's a no parking ban during a snow emergency.

Some of Cambridge's snow emergency signs may be folded, showing no message when closed and the message "Tow Zone, No Parking until Further Notice, Narrow Roadway" when open. These streets may not follow the declared snow emergency hours; if the sign is open, the parking ban persists.

Like Boston, Cambridge offers parking garages for those stranded by the snow emergency. Five parking facilities--Galleria Mall, First Street Garage, Green Street Garage, 52 Oxford Garage, and 65 Waverly Street--offer free parking starting at 6 p.m. if the snow emergency is called overnight. Vehicles must have a resident parking sticker.

Somerville:

Somerville declares snow emergencies when four or more inches of snow are predicted. Residents have four hours after the snow emergency is called to move their cars to the odd-numbered side of the street. After that, the city begins ticketing and towing offending cars.

If you can't find a spot on the odd-numbered side of your street, spots at schools, municipal buildings and municipal public parking lots are available (see map.) Once the snow emergency is lifted, vehicles must be retrieved within two hours.

How to find out about snow emergencies:

On your mobile phone: Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville offer emergency email and text alerts.

On social media: Follow your city's Twitter accounts.



On your city's website: Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville

From the media: Boston.com will have updated storm coverage, including snow emergency declarations. For school cancellations, go here.

City Councilor Matt O'Malley announces January district office hours

January 16, 2014 01:06 PM

The following is an announcement from District 6 City Councilor Matt O'Malley:

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley holds his district office hours at different locations in Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury each month.

Councilor O’Malley’s January district office hours will be held on Friday, Jan. 24 from 8 to 9 a.m. at JP Licks, located at 659 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain.

O’Malley’s City Hall office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To reach his office call 617-635-4220.

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For the latest Jamaica Plain updates:
Follow @YTJamaicaPlain on Twitter, here.
And connect via Facebook by clicking the “Like” button on the top right hand corner of the Jamaica Plain homepage, here.
For the latest West Roxbury updates:
Follow @YourWestRoxbury on Twitter, here.
And connect via Facebook by clicking the "Like" button on the top left hand corner of the West Roxbury homepage, here.

South Boston freshman dominates at Reggie Lewis Center

January 15, 2014 08:29 PM

Led by freshman J’Saun Bastien, the South Boston boys’ track team earned a win Wednesday over Brighton at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center.

Bastien won the boys’ 300m and anchored South Boston’s winning 4x200m relay team. Although he is just a freshman, he leads like a veteran.

“He’s a freshman. He’s a baby,” South Boston coach Said Ahmed said. “He has quite a career ahead of him. I’m so proud of him. I’m so lucky to have him on my team and you know, he’s not even the team captain. He’s just leading by action. He’s just great.”

Bastien said he enjoys being the Knights’ leader despite his age and has no problem being in the spotlight.

“I actually like it,” he said. “People be like, ‘Oh you’re a freshman?’ and I’m like, ‘Yep. I’m a freshman and I won.’ So when it comes to stuff like that I don’t look at it as ‘I’m a freshman so no one’s thinking about me.’ I look at it as I’m about to shock them.”

South Boston ran a strong race through the first three legs of the 4x200m relay, but the opposing squads were close behind. But once Bastien got the baton on the final leg, there was no hope of catching him. South Boston won the relay in a time of 1:37.92, more than 5 seconds faster than second-place Brighton.

“I depended on my team to give me a lead,” Bastien said. “They gave me a nice lead so I just decided to build off from that. It’s all I could do. But the most important thing is when you run anchor and you realize you got all that pressure on you, all you gotta do is zone out. And that’s what I did. I just zoned out. I told myself ‘J’Saun, leave it all on the field.’ I got my head into it and I did what I came here to do.”

Bastien also dominated the boys’ 300m dash, finishing in 38.89 seconds. He was the only runner in the meet to finish in less than 40 seconds, but he thought he could have run a better race.

“Not my proudest race but as long as I brought home the ‘W’ for the team I’m OK with it,” he said.

On the girls’ side, West Roxbury won the 4x200m relay in 1:59.36, led by sisters Michelle and Monique McPherson.

“Their sister was on the relay team last year and she graduated so they’ve been running together for a long time,” West Roxbury girls’ coach Erin Pels said. “It’s just such good chemistry between the team. They’re doing great.”

Monique and Michelle finished first and second, respectively, in the long jump. West Roxbury also won the 55m dash, the 55m hurdles, the 600m run, and the high jump.

“They’re doing so well this year," Pels said. “We’ve lost two meets but overall we’ve been doing phenomenal.”

Originally published on the blog The High School Sports Blog.

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