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WSAR News Headlines


A Westport School Committee Member tells WSAR News if you want your child to avoid the MCAS exam next spring, it’s your right to ask your building principal to make that happen, despite the information the DESE has on its website.

 

Westport School Committee member and mother of three, Carolina Africano:

 

 

Africano says she got no push back as a result of her request:

 

 

The MCAS exam is an event every spring; test scores are used as one criterion for ranking buildings from levels one to four.

 

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Fall River State Representative Alan Silvia to meet with the House Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Housing Kevin Honan to discuss Fall river's efforts to limit new public housing  units.

 

Local officials continue to maintain that Fall River does much more than required to provide low income and affordable housing.

 

Silvia says section eight and other housing vouchers make Fall River an attractive location.

 

 

Silvia says it's impossible to regulate where in the commonwealth section eight housing vouchers can be used.

 

He says recent changes in federal housing rules make it more difficult for cities like Fall River to regulate or limit the number of low income housing units within its borders.

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Boston 24 says Fall River is very much in the running to host the rowing competition should the international Olympic committee chose Boston to host the 2024 summer games.

 

Nikko Mendoza, Vice President for Engagement and Strategy, in a letter Monday, indicating that while the Merrimack River in Lowell remains the proposed location, local officials have made - quote - a compelling case for the South Wattuppa Pond, an option that warrants further review says Mendoza.

 

Chamber Of Commerce President and CEO Rob Mellion:

 

 

Fall River State Representative Carole Fiola telling WSAR News lobbying on behalf of the Wattuppa will continue.

 

 

Fall River State Representative Alan Silvia.

 

 

Mendoza is promising Boston 24 will do due diligence to determine if in fact South Wattuppa Pond is better suited for the rowing competition than is the Merrimack River.

 

New Bedford has already been selected to host the sailing competition in buzzard's bay.

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Mixed reaction from some on the city council to the Sutter administration’s plan to try and repeal or reduce the new trash fee by fy-17.

 

Mayor Sam Sutter saying this week that if doable he would like to repeal or at least reduce the fee he says was intended as a band aid to help close a 6.5 million dollar shortfall for fy-16.

 

Council is set to take a final vote on adopting the fee on July 14th.

 

City Councilor Leo Pelletier who voted in favor of the fee on Tuesday tells WSAR News he wishes he had known.

 

 

Councilor Dan Rego says eliminating or reducing the fee might be wishful thinking.

 

 

Sutter says he will wait until the task force he appointed to study the city's long term trash needs reports out in September before making a final determination as to whether the fee can be eliminated or reduced.

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The State Gaming Commission has set September 30th as a deadline for casino interests in New Bedford and Brockton to submit their final applications for the region's sole casino license.

 

A license could be awarded by the commission in the first quarter of next year and not by the end of this year as was previously expected.

 

K.G. Urban Enterprises has until Friday July 3rd to submit final financial documents.

 

Meanwhile, MGM says it wants to delay the opening of it's Springfield casino by one year due to a major highway construction project in that area.

 

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There is a growing concern that fall river's share of low income and affordable housing units is putting  a mountain of stress on the city's resources.
 
FROED’s Ken Fiola tells wsar news Fall River exceeds the requirement that ten percent of its housing stock be dedicated to affordable housing.
 
 
Fiola says there needs to be a rebalancing of the city's population.
 
 
City Councilor Dan Rego says Fall River may need to go to court to prevent the permitting of any additional low income housing.
   
 
Councilor Steven Long says Fall River is dying under the weight of 30 years of increased poverty as a result of low income housing issues.
 
He has proposed a six step plan including a moratorium on new low income housing permits.
 

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City Council President Joe Camara concurs with a recently resurfaced report by the Economic Development Agency that Fall River has more than its share of low income housing and that it is a drain on the city's resources.

 

Camara tells WSAR the state is unwilling to accept that Fall River has more than it's required share of low income units.

 

 

Camara says the city over the years has provided housing for low income residents from across the state.

 

 

Councilor Steven Long pointing to a 2014 report on the matter says Fall River has experienced a 30 year period of decline largely because of the amount of low income housing and a skyrocketing poverty level.

 

Long is calling for, among other things, a moratorium on the issuance of new low income housing permits.

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter has indicated to local media Tuesday night, following the completion of the city council session at Government Center, that a ten dollar per unit solid waste fee, which is now part of the city’s municipal fiscal year 2016 budget, could be reduced or eliminated, depending on if new revenue can be located and collected.

                 

 

That was news to City Council President Joe Camara:

 

 

The co-Chair of the Solid Waste Task Force, Daniel Botelho, says he would have liked a heads up as well.

 

 

Sutter told local reporters he hopes new revenue makes the ten dollar per unit solid waste fee a one time solution to a budget shortfall.

 

 

The Solid Waste Task Force has a report due in September, while an Economic Development Task Force is set to meet beginning this summer. 

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The Boston Globe is reporting that physicians around the country wrote nearly 40 million prescriptions for tranquilizers such as ativan and xanax to patients covered by Medicare in 2013, the first year in which Medicare covered those medications, while one Fall River psychiatrist is in the top five for writing such scripts.

 

The Globe is reporting that a Fall River Psychiatrist, Doctor Claude Curran, wrote well over 11-thousand, seven hundred prescriptions for tranquilizers, including refills, ranking him in the top five nationally among physicians who wrote the prescriptions.

 

Curran tells The Globe that xanax and antivan works well for patients trying to end addictions to various narcotics, but have issues with anxiety and depression. 

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Fall River City Council's Ordinance Committee will consider changes to citizen input time.

 

The changes could include establishing a special block of time and time limits for speakers.

 

Councilor Linda Pereira.

 

 

Ordinance Committee Chair Jasiel Correia says the matter will likely sit until later this summer.

 

 

Council President Joe Camara is proposing that spectators and speakers who use profanity during meetings be banned from council chambers...

 

 

Camara says offenders could be banned for a year or more.

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Fall River City Council has tabled a request for 2-hundred 37-thousand dollars to be transferred from a general fund insurance account to be credited to the Fall River Housing Authority Fund, after they failed to pay for FRPD details.

 

Council was also told that there was no written agreement between the Flanagan administration and the housing authority until one was crafted recently, according to city administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros.

 

 

Fall River City Treasurer John Nunes explains how the arrangement was supposed to work.

 

 

Viveiros told Council there was no written agreement between the then Flanagan administration and the Fall River Housing Authority regarding police patrols.

                         

 

Viveiros told council if the problem is not addressed, it could impact the amount of so called free cash that could be certified this fall.

 

 

There are concerns that the amount of free cash to be certified by the Mass Department Of Revenue could be impacted if the matter is not resolved.

 

There are also issues involving 1-hundred and four thousand dollars from patrols that were set up after pieces of the church steeple began to fall to the pavement several years ago. 

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Fall’s newest city councilor tells WSAR News its time to have a serious discussion on the issues facing Fall River as the city's fiscal year 2016 budget is being finalized.

 

Stephen Long says without that discussion, he is, for now, inclined to vote no on the final document.

 

 

Long says the city needs to invest making Fall River clean, safe and attractive.

 

 

Long says Fall River has things of value that need to be protected.

 

 

 

Long finished 11th in 2013 local election cycle before assuming the seat vacated by Paul DaSilva. 

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One of the co chairs of a committee on solid waste says if you wish to discuss a proposed ten dollar per unit solid waste fee Wednesday afternoon in the government center atrium, you can do, as the debate on how to pay for solid waste and recycling services continues as part of the municipal fiscal year 2016 fall river budget.

 

Dan Botelho tells WSAR News with the landfill gone; alternatives to a proposed ten dollar fee need to be located for those who are opposed to the idea:

 

 

The ten dollar fee would produce revenue to help close a more than six million dollar budget deficit for fiscal year 2016.

 

Botelho says solutions need to be offered to circumvent a proposed ten dollar solid waste fee that is currently part of the 2016 fiscal year municipal budget:    

 

 

The sixth floor needs five votes later this month in order to secure a budget for the municipal and school department sides in Fall River. 

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90 layoff notices issued Monday to police, fire, government center and community maintenance workers in Fall River.

 

 

Mayor Sam Sutter telling WSAR News the notices are required under union rules and says most would be rescinded should the budget be adopted.

 

 

 

Firefighters Union President Jason Burns says morale is low.

 

 

The budget proposal recommends closing the downtown senior center as well as branch libraries.

 

 

Budget hearings dates are expected to be announced Tuesday evening.

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is confirming that K-G Urban Enterprises, working with New Bedford, has submitted required documentation which is now being reviewed by the Commissions' Investigation and Enforcement Bureau.

 

The five member commission will get an update on the overall region c licensing process on Thursday.

 

K-G Urban had a deadline of June 9th at 5 pm to submit documentation that it had the proper financing that allows it to move ahead with plans for a destination resort casino.

 

New Bedford voters will vote up or down on the idea on June 23rd.

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Potential Fall River mayoral contender Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News he wants to point the city in a different direction as he prepares to make his candidacy for mayor official at some point this week.

 

Correia says at age 23, its the right time for him to lay out a comparison between what a 2 year Sutter administration might attempt, and what a Correia administration would do differently.

 

 

Correia says he wants to see a long term economic plan.

                  

 

Sutter has promised to unveil an economic development committee later this summer.

 

Correia provides an alternative.

                   

 

Correia is completing his first term as City Councilor after finishing tenth in the 2013 election cycle, obtaining a seat when Cathy Ann Viveiros decided to forgo a council seat in order to become city administrator. 

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As a solid waste task force prepares recommendations for solid waste and recycling solutions for the Sutter administration in Fall River, City Councilor Dan Rego continues to advocate a fee for removing solid waste and recycling, telling WSAR News that pay-as-you throw is not the revenue generator it was first thought to be.

 

 

 

Rego says a flat fee would be a means of investing in other services.

 

 

The first anniversary of pay as you throw and its rollout is coming up in August. 

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Fall River City Council will be asked to approve an inter-municipal agreement between the communities of Fall River and Freetown for continued development in the South Coast Life Sciences and Technology Park.

 

The largest portion sits within Fall River city limits, while some forty percent is in Freetown.

 

Both communities have approved needed procedural paperwork, including TIFS for a proposed one million square foot warehouse for Seattle-based internet retailer Amazon/

 

 

Fiola says work continues at the Amazon site. 

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Casino developer K.G. Urban Enterprises says it will meet Tuesday’s "do or die" deadline for presenting a signed financial agreement to fund a New Bedford casino to the state gaming commission.

 

Operating partner Andrew Stern tells WSAR News the Tuesday deadline will not be an issue.

 

The gaming commission is expected to issue a region "c" license by the end of the year.

 

Stern says he has no reason to believe that won't happen.

 

 

Stern says the location in New Bedford is perfect.

 

 

Stern says a proposal by Twin River to purchase and then move Newport Grand to the Tiverton-Fall River line won't impact the New Bedford project.

 

 

New Bedford Mayor John Mitchell:

 

 

K.G. Urban has been negotiating a funding deal with the Pennsylvania-based Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc.

 

K.G. Urban conducted the first of three public meetings on its proposal Thursday evening.

 

A local referendum election is planned for June 23rd.

 

A proposal for a casino at the Brockton fairgrounds is also competing for the region "c" license.

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Should Boston be selected to host the 20-24 summer Olympics the sailing and Paralympics sailing events would be held in buzzard's bay and hosted by the city of New Bedford.

 

Boston 2024 made the announcement Wednesday.

 

New Bedford Mayor John Mitchell telling WSAR News it's a natural.

 

 

Boston 2024's Richard Davey says other communities outside Boston may also be selected to host events.

 

 

Fall River has been lobbying to be the host community for the rowing and kayak competitions on the South Wattuppa.

 

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Mellion tells WSAR News the area delegation needs to step up the pressure on the site selection committee.

 

 

Fall River State Representative Alan Silvia tells WSAR News whether the delegation even supports bringing the Olympics to Massachusetts will depend upon whether there is support for the south coast rail project.

 

 

A decision on whether Boston will host the Olympics is not expected until 2017. 

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An early Friday morning fire in Fall River has left 13 people homeless.


The fire at 157 East Main Street, at the corner of Palmer, started around 3 am in a pile of furniture behind the multi-family apartment building.

 

When crews arrived fire was already coming out of roof.

 

Police evacuated residents before firefighters arrived.

 

One firefighter suffered minor injuries.

All of the residents managed to escape the structure safely.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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The ''Boston Globe'' is reporting that Boston 2024 is set to assign summer Olympic sailing competitions to Buzzards Bay and New Bedford, which marks the first significant change under plans for various Olympic venues.

 

Boston 2024 administrators are set to make the official announcement at Fort Tabor, near the New Bedford waterfront.

 

The President and CEO of the Fall River Area Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Rob Mellion:

 

 

Mellion says efforts to bring 2024 summer Olympic rowing events to Fall River continue.

 

 

Boston 2024 had wanted to stage sailing in Boston harbor, but was deterred because of shipping lanes and other issues with a proposed course.

 

Boston 2024 has indicated, according to the Globe, that it will have a more detailed budget for the games, and a new Olympic venue plan later this month.

                   

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Fall River City Councilor Pat Casey tells WSAR News a proposed city lottery might be one means to increase the amount of revenue that can be used for future municipal and school department budgets in Fall River.

 

Casey says it’s a point she raised in a one on one budget session with the Sutter administration:

 

 

Casey says revenue needs to be located to avoid layoffs that are proposed in this version of a Fall River municipal budget, along with future school department and municipal budgets.

 

 

Budget hearings begin on Fall River’s municipal budget later this month; the fiscal year for 2016 starts on July first. 

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Bristol Seventh District State Representative Alan Silvia tells WSAR News in his visits to senior centers and other community organizations in his district, he's finding little support for legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes:

 

 

Silvia says he has concerns about the great and general court having to fix legislation with mistakes that voters might approve in 2016 or 2017.

 

 

Colorado and Washington have approved recreational pot use, while the House and Senate in Rhode Island are looking at the issue for a second consecutive year. 

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The President of the I-A-F-F Local 1314 representing Fall River Firefighters tells WSAR News negotiations are still ongoing regarding a new contract with the city.

 

Jason Burns.

 

 

Burns says taking an eight percent cut during the Correia administration is something his membership remembers well.

 

Negotiations with nine union locals on the municipal side continue.

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Budget Reaction Continues

 

City Council has begun to react to the administration's 263 million dollar budget for fy-16.

 

The Councilors WSAR News has spoken with so far say there has been a tremendous push back from taxpayers to a proposed ten dollar per month, per unit trash fee on top of pay as you throw.

 

The new fee would raise an estimated 3.7 million dollars while avoiding massive across the board layoffs, part of an effort to erase a 6.5 million dollar shortfall.

 

Councilor Leo Pelletier tells WSAR News the fee creates a conundrum for landlords...

 

  

Councilor Mike Miozza.

 

 

 

Miozza questions whether the fee can legally be charged because it was not presented to the council prior to a May first deadline for new fees and rates.

 

Councilor Linda Periera agrees and says a legal opinion will have to be sought.

 

Periera says landlords can opt out if the new fee is adopted but says that creates problems as well.

 

 

Periera says it's going to take a lot to convince the public that the fee is the right way to go.

 

The budget also falls short of meeting minimum net school spending requirements by about 2.7 million dollars but the administration vows to fill the hole in the fall by using free cash.

 

Miozza has concerns.

 

 

Even with the new trash fee there would be 1.5 percent reductions across the board and that means layoffs in police, fire, community maintenance and at government center.

 

The administration is also proposing a 2 1/2 percent property tax increase.

 

Water and sewer rate hikes are likely in the new fiscal year.

 

Budget hearings to be scheduled within a week to ten days.

 

The new fiscal year begins on July 1st.

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The Commonwealth of Massachusetts will likely be asking you, the voter; whether or not you wish to see marijuana legalized for recreational use, as Colorado and Washington have done over the last year or so.

 

Bristol Plymouth First District State Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR News he understands what Massachusetts Senate President, Stan Rosenberg, is trying to accomplish with a proposal for a 2016 non binding referendum.

 

 

Rodrigues wants lawmakers on to work on the issue of cannabis legalization.

                        

 

For the second consecutive year, Rhode Island is looking at legalizing marijuana and creating a network of state sponsored stores that would sell legal pot. 

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A meeting of the Early College Subcommittee of the Fall River School Committee is set for Wednesday.

 

The committee consists of Vice Chair Mark Costa, Gabe Andrade and Joe Martins.

 

The idea of an early college high school was defeated a few years ago by the School Committee after months of discussion on how the process might work and where it would be conducted.

 

The three member committee will discuss the idea of an early college high school Wednesday afternoon at 4:45 at the districts Rock Street headquarters. 

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The work of wading through a several inches thick budget book begins this week for the nine member Fall River City Council, with budget hearings beginning later this month, as the new fiscal year starts on the first day of July.

 

City Councilor Mike Miozza tells WSAR News the creation of sanitation fund that involves a ten dollar a unit fee for property owners will have to be approved by council as it was not delivered before May 1st as required by statue.

 

 

Councilor Leo Pelletier says the ongoing combined sewer overflow project and the need for a new BMC Durfee High School are costs that will need to be managed long term.

    

 

Councilor Linda Pereria is challenging those who think there is fat in the budget to find it and point it out.

 

 

Miozza says he’s been getting a lot of reaction regarding a ten dollar solid waste fee.

 

 

Miozza is the Co-Chair of a solid waste committee that will extend recommendations to the sixth floor this fall.

 

The city has asked various commonwealth and federal agencies for some relief regarding costs of the CSO project, while asking the MSBA for assistance with a new Durfee High School.

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Mass DOT is set to begin weeknight paving work on Plymouth Avenue in Fall River starting Monday and continuing through a nine day time frame from 6 pm 6 am.

 

The paving will take place in an area from Slade Street to Pleasant Street, with one lane of traffic in each direction remaining open.

 

Side streets, including Globe and Rodman will have temporary closures in order to allow the material to cool overnight, which will have Fall River Police officers working detours. 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter is calling for a ten dollar fee per unit in Fall River, covering around 34-thousand households, in order to close a multi million dollar budget deficit and avoid significant layoffs in public safety and community maintenance.

                

 

Sutter says without a sanitation fund, cuts to city services would be dramatic.

 

 

Sutter says a sanitation fund will need to be approved by Council.

 

 

In regards to the budget, Sutter says net school spending numbers will be met.

 

 

Fall River City Council President Joe Camara and Councilor Jasiel Correia says they are not surprised by what is being proposed in the budget.

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The 37-year old woman the Fall River Police Department suspects in the Saturday stabbing death of a 53-year old victim is being held on a half million dollar cash bail after being arraigned on counts of murder, and aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.

 

Adrienne Brown of the four hundred block of Third Street is accused of stabbing Brian Jones Saturday afternoon.

 

Brown turned herself in Monday morning and is due back in court for a probable cause hearing on June 29th.

 

Jones was pronounced dead at Saint Anne’s Hospital. 

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The Sutter administration set to release its budget for fy-16 to the City Council.

 

The administration says the budget will retire a 6.5 million dollar shortfall but relies on new revenues and budget cuts to do it.

 

Veteran City Councilor Leo Pelletier tells WSAR News the situation is complicated by government center workers rejecting a contract offer from the administration.

 

 

Contracts for all eight city employee unions are do to expire at the end of June.

 

Pelletier tells WSAR News the administration has been less than forthcoming about it's budget plans.

 

 

Councilor Pat Casey tells WSAR News protecting public safety is an important thing but it's not the only thing.

 

 

The budget is due on the first but because the first falls on Sunday.

 

It will likely be Monday before the council receives the document.

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A frustrated Massachusetts Gaming Commission has given KG Urban Enterprises until June 9th to close a financial deal to fund a casino on New Bedford’s waterfront or the project will be eliminated from contention for the region "c" casino license.

 

 

Andrew Stern, the operating partner for KG Urban, acknowledging Thursday that it has yet to finalize its deal with the Pennsylvania-based Gaming and Leisure Properties Inc. but Stern tells NECN a deal is at hand.

 

 

While some on the commission were reluctant to grant one final extension to KG Urban Chairman Stephen Crosby tells NECN it's the right thing to do.

 

 

George Carney’s proposal for a casino at the Brockton fairgrounds is all wrapped up and if New Bedford cannot meet the June ninth deadline would be the sole applicant left for the casino license.

 

New Bedford has a referendum on the casino question scheduled for June 23rd.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has awarded more than 10 million in Brownfield grants to the New England states including nearly three million going to Massachusetts.

              

New Bedford will get four hundred thousand dollars in a community wide assessment grant, while Taunton will get 200-thousand, and Attleboro six hundred thousand dollars.

 

 The grants are provided by the EPA as Brownfield’s assessment revolving loan fund and cleanup grant program. 

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The Central Street on ramp to the Braga Bridge in Fall River is now closed, as jersey barriers went into place on Thursday.

 

Fall River Traffic Director Laura Ferreira tells WSAR News there are other ways to navigate the Braga Bridge.

 

 

Ferreira says using Plymouth Avenue is another means to traverse the bridge.

 

 

Ferreira says motorists will have their own ways of getting to the bridge now that the ramp is closed.

 

 

The closure of six ramps in Fall River this week is the next phase in the continuing Route 79 project.

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A Fall River Task Force on Solid Waste and Recycling plans another public session in June, while it works towards sending recommendations to the Sutter administration in September on what the city could do regarding dealing with its solid waste.

 

Task Force Co Chair Dan Botelho tells WSAR News the idea of a transfer station that the city would own and operate would require bonding and a likely vote.

 

 

 

Botelho says no matter what the Sutter administration might select this fall, the public has to buy into it in order for it to be successful.

 

 

Another public session is set for June. 

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Mass DOT is set to close two lanes of interstate 1-95 west bound on the Braga Bridge starting at 9 pm Friday through 5 am on Monday June first.

 

Mass DOT says the closures are needed to perform emergency repairs to expansion joints in the two right lanes.

 

Those repairs have to be completed prior to shifting traffic on the bridge for the next phase of rehabilitation work.

 

One travel lane on inter state 1-95 west bound will be maintained this weekend; travel lanes on the east bound side of the bridge will remain as they are. 

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It’s still not clear if the Sutter administration, faced with a 6.5 million dollar shortfall, will cut the budgets of the police and fire departments in the fy-16 budget.

 

Both have been told to prepare for a reduction of at least 1.5 percent.

 

Mayor Sam Sutter.

 

 

Firefighters Union President Jason Burns says Sunday night's four alarm fire on Seabury Street, at the same time as another fire on Healey Street, proves just how thin the department is...

 

 

Burns.

 

 

Mayor Sutter also not willing yet to say if a ten dollar per month, per unit trash fee will be adopted for the new fiscal year.

 

 

The fee would be in addition to pay as you throw.

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Paul DaSilva submitting resignation from the Fall River City Council on Monday.

 

DaSilva under intense pressure to quit since a special prosecutor investigating potential criminal charges against former mayor Will Flanagan determined that DaSilva was less than cooperative or truthful during that investigation.

 

Mayor Sam Sutter telling WSAR News he spoke with DaSilva prior to his resignation.

 

 

 

Sutter saying he will have more to say after DaSilva has had his say first.

 

Council reaction to DaSilva’s resignation was swift.

 

Vice President Ray Mitchell.

 

 

 

Councilor Linda Periera.

 

 

Councilor Leo Pelletier.

 

 

 

Councilor Dan Rego.

 

 

Stephen Long who finished as a runner up in the last election will be sworn in to fill out the remaining five months of DaSilva’s term.

 

Council Vice President Ray Mitchell tells WSAR Long joins council at a busy time.

 

 

Councilor Dan Rego.

 

 

Long served as head of the community development agency under former mayor Ed Lambert.

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The School Committee unanimous in its approval of a 118 million dollar operating budget for fy-16 Monday.

 

The budget meets net school spending requirements and covers a one million dollar shortfall for the current fiscal year.

 

Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown tells WSAR News it gives the responsibility for calculating health care costs to the school committee.

 

 

Mayo Brown says some transportation costs will be delayed to make things work.

 

 

The budget will go to the City Council for a vote next month.

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The Herald News is reporting that Fall River City Council Member Paul DaSilva has resigned, after issues rose in a Special Prosecutor's Report that was released earlier this month.

 

Stephen Long, who finished 11th in the last balloting, is next in line to take DaSilva's seat.

 

10th place finisher Jasiel Correia took over the seat vacated by Cathy Ann Viveiros when she became City Administrator.

 

DaSilva becomes the first council member to resign since former Council President Tom Kozak quit in January 2009.

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Monday is the deadline for the Sutter administration to deliver its budget for fy-16 to the printer in order to meet the June first deadline for getting the thing to the City Council.

 

Details of the budget have been pretty carefully guarded.

 

The administration has said it believes there is a 6.5 million dollar shortfall that needs to be addressed through budget cuts and new revenues.

 

While not much is known about the budget Police Chief Dan Racine tells WSAR News he's been told to prepare for a reduction.

 

 

City Councilor Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News police and fire should be spared from cuts.

 

 

 

City Council President Joe Camara says he'll schedule budget hearings for the middle of June.

 

 

Camara says the fact that it is an election year should not impact the budget debate.

 

 

It’s still not clear when the administration will make details of the budget public.

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The Fall River School Committee meets in special session Monday and is expected to vote to approve a 101.4 million dollar draft budget for fy-16.

 

The Sutter administration and school department financial teams were able to reach a tentative deal last week to fully fund net school spending requirements for fy-16 while retiring a shortfall of a million dollars for the current fiscal year.

 

School Committee Finance Sub-Committee Chair Melissa Panchley tells WSAR News the tentative agreement allows state mandates to be met but puts off other spending temporarily.

 

 

There was discussion last year about using free cash to fund the school department budget but Panchley says this year is different.

 

 

The special meeting at Morton Middle School with a public hearing set for 6:30. 

 

The committee is expected to vote on the budget immediately afterwards.

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FALL RIVER: On-Ramps to I-195 East and Westbound from Route 79/138 Northbound and Central Street to Close on Thursday, May 28

 

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will close the on-ramps to I-195 east and westbound from Route 79/138 and Broadway northbound, and from Central Street at Durfee Street/Milliken Boulevard on Thursday, May 28. The closures are necessary to demolish and reconstruct the last two elevated bridges as part of project. MassDOT’s contractor will begin implementing the closures in phases on May 28 continuing through the week. Associated detour routes, which will be in place into summer 2016, are described below and maps are posted on the project website.

Signage will be in place indicating the detour routes. The following detours will be in place from May 28 through the summer of 2016:

 

  • Route 79 southbound to I-195 eastbound – Turn right on Central Street which becomes Water Street, turn left on Water Street Connector, turn left on Route 138 northbound, take a right onto Pocasset Street, turn left onto the temporary on-ramp to I-195 eastbound at Connector Road.
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  • Route 79 southbound to I-195 westbound – Turn right on Central Street which becomes Water Street, turn left on Route 138 northbound, take a right onto Pocasset Street, continue straight past South Main Street which becomes South Frontage Road, turn left on Troy Street, turn right on Pleasant Street, turn right onto existing on-ramp to I-195 westbound.
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  • Route 138 northbound to I-195 eastbound – Take Route 138 northbound and take a right onto Pocasset Street, turn left onto temporary on-ramp to I-195 eastbound at Connector Road.
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  • Route 138 northbound to I-195 westbound – Take Route 138 northbound and take a right onto Pocasset Street, continue straight past South Main Street which becomes South Frontage Road, turn left on Troy Street, turn right on Pleasant Street, turn right onto existing on-ramp to I-195 westbound.
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  • Central Street to I-195 westbound – Continue across North/South Davol Street where Central Street becomes Water Street, turn left on Water Street Connector, turn left on Route 138 northbound and take a right onto Pocasset Street, continue straight past South Main Street which becomes South Frontage Road, turn left on Troy Street, turn right on Pleasant Street, turn right onto existing on-ramp to I-195 westbound.
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  • Central Street to I-195 eastbound – Continue across North/South Davol Street where Central Street becomes Water Street, turn left on Water Street Connector, turn left on Route 138 northbound and take a right onto Pocasset Street, turn left onto temporary on-ramp to I-195 eastbound at Connector Road. 
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Since these ramps provide access to I-195, closing them will not impact pedestrian or bicycle access during this work. Local access to area attractions and abutting properties will be maintained at all times. All businesses are open. Motorists should follow the Battleship Cove Area signage for access to the waterfront. Drivers who must travel through the affected area should expect delays and should reduce speed and use caution while approaching and traveling through the work zone. MassDOT encourages drivers not destined for the waterfront area to seek alternate routes to avoid delays.

 

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A meeting of the City Council Committee on Public Safety coming to an abrupt end last night as a member of the audience refused to stop yelling out questions during the meeting in what has become an all too familiar occurrence during council and committee meetings in recent months.

 

 

 

 

Police ushered members of the audience out the Spencer Borden School where the meeting was held.

 

Meanwhile, Committee Chairman Paul DaSilva...under pressure by some to resign in the wake of a special prosecutor's report, tells WSAR News he has no plans to step aside

 

 

The report says DaSilva did not cooperate with the investigation into allegations against former mayor Will Flanagan and that his statements were less than credible.

 

 

DaSilva says he has yet to decide if he'll seek re-election this fall.

 

 

Prosecutor William Connelly determined that there was not enough evidence to charge Flanagan on allegations from City Councilor Jasiel Correia that Flanagan attempted to intimidate him with a gun last August.

 

Connelly did say Correia’s allegations were credible.

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Local business owners are scurrying for information about the new sick leave law that takes effect in Massachusetts on July first.

 

The law approved by voters requires businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. 

 

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Mellion tells WSAR News the legislature can make amendments to the new law.

 

 

Mellion says Massachusetts is already one of the costliest states to do business.

 

 

Mellion says high costs associated with mounting regulations have many businesses teetering on the edge.

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City Council President Joe Camara says he hopes to learn more about a possible new trash fee being floated by members of the Sutter administration.

 

Administration Officials have suggested a ten dollar per unit monthly trash fee is being considered along with pay as you throw as the city faces an estimated 6.5 million dollar shortfall for fy-16.

 

Camara tells WSAR News he believes the fee could be adopted by the administration without council approval.

 

 

Camara meeting with administration officials and will attempt to learn more about its intentions regarding the fee.

 

He says if enacted it would be - quote - a tough pill to swallow and a lot of money for residents to pay.

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The Sutter administration is floating the idea of a ten dollar per month per unit trash fee in addition to pay as you throw to help retire a 6.5 million dollar deficit for next fiscal year.

 

City Councilor Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News the fee would be unfair, particularly to landlords who would have to decide whether to absorb it or pass it on to their tenants.

 

 

The fee proposal has been floated by the administration at various neighborhood association meetings.

 

Pamela Laliberty Lebeau with the St. Anne's Neighborhood Association tells WSAR News a new trash fee may be too much.

 

 

The budget is to be presented to the city council by June first.

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The main floor of Fall River's St. Anne’s Church on South Main Street has been closed by the City Building Inspector after a large chunk of plaster fell off a wall during a Mass last week.

 

John Kearns, Director of Communications for the Fall River Diocese, tells WSAR News the situation is being assessed and repairs will be made.

 

 

No one was hurt when the plaster fell from a twenty foot high wall on the left side of the church.

 

For now parishioners will attend services in the downstairs shrine.

 

St. Anne’s was dedicated in 1906.

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The anticipated acquisition of Fall River’s American Dryer Corporation by Whirlpool, as first reported by WSAR News, likely to create dozens of new jobs.

 

FROED’s Ken Fiola.

 

 

Fiola says Whirlpool is a Fortune 500 company.

 

 

 

Fiola expects the deal to acquire American Dryer to be finalized by July.

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With just two weeks left for the Sutter administration to get a budget for FY 16 City Council its crunch time and still no announcements as to whether the administration will be able to meet minimum net school spending requirements.

 

Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown tells WSAR News it's time for a face to face between the school department and administration finance teams.

 

 

With the city facing a 6.5 million dollar shortfall for FY 16 Mayo Brown says there is no way for the department to reduce spending and still meet minimum net school spending requirements under the law.

 

 

The school committee to conduct a public hearing on a 101.4 million dollar budget for fy-16 on the 26th.

 

That’s the amount the department says is needed to provide level services while meeting net school spending requirements and closing a shortfall for the current fiscal year.

 

The Sutter administration has yet to say if it plans to support a budget that meets net school spending for FY 16.

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The Senate set to begin debate this week on it's version of a 3.8 billion dollar budget for FY 16.

 

The Commonwealth is looking at a 1.8 billion dollar shortfall.

 

Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR News it could take some time to wade through the more than 940 amendments that have been filed.

 

 

Rodrigues says there is no appetite for new taxes.

 

 

Rodrigues hopes to include money for public safety grants in the budget. 

 

Fall River has collected more than a million dollars in the formula funded grants over several years.

 

The House has passed its own version of a budget.

 

The two sides will eventually reach a compromise and send a final product on the Governor Charlie Baker for his consideration.

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Amazon remains on track for a 2016 opening.

 

The internet giant is looking to close within weeks on property in the Bio-Tech Park.

 

Amazon plans to construct a large parcel distribution center.

 

FROEDs Ken Fiola tells WSAR News he and building inspector Joe Biscoe met recently with the builder KPR out of Philadelphia.

 

 

Fiola still cautious.

 

 

 

The Amazon project could create as many as 500 new permanent jobs.

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Somerset Select Board Chairman Scott Lebeau says that 100 acre parcel of land of route 103 that had been considered for a casino could be an attractive parcel for industry but it needs to be made shovel ready for big projects.

 

Lebeau tells WSAR News the town-owned land is currently zoned residential which makes it difficult to market.

 

 

Lebeau says the town must decide what would be acceptable uses for the property and then rezone it to make it shovel ready for development.

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Elected officials in Fall River who may have to consider making cuts to public safety budgets in the coming weeks will get a hands on experience  it what it's like to be a firefighter.

 

The local firefighters union and fire chief Robert Viveiros are inviting local officials to participate in “fire ops 101” Saturday.

 

Union President Jason Burns tells WSAR News participants will learn first-hand about how to suit up and battle a live fire.

 

 

The exercise being held at 9am Saturday at the fire department headquarters on Commerce Drive.

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The annual Somerset town meeting to consider a 53 million dollar fy-16 town budget on Monday night.

 

The budget reflects a 2.7 percent increase including a 3 percent increase in education spending for the k-8 system as well as a 1.3 percent hike in the town's commitment to the regional high school, Diman Vocational and Bristol Ag.

 

There are 56 articles facing town meeting including one to establish a local options meals tax. 

 

The tax would assess a 75 cent local tax per 100 dollar restaurant bill.

 

Town meeting to be preceded by a 3 article special town meeting that gets underway at 6pm at the regional high school.

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Fall River Mayor and School Committee Chair Sam Sutter tells WSAR News the issue of net school spending, and trying to meet the one hundred percent target for fiscal year 2016, is more complicated than he first thought while campaigning in 2014.

 

 

Sutter says he does not want to put together municipal and school department budgets amid a backdrop of controversy.

 

 

Sutter says he is looking at what minimum net school spending is comprised of:

 

The Fall River School Committee has a draft budget outlining one hundred percent of net school spending. 

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Crossroads Investors Withdraw Casino Proposal

 

The developers and investors for Crossroads Massachusetts have ended their effort to secure the region c destination resort casino license, pulling the plug on the effort Thursday morning.

 

Karen Wells, Director of the Investigation and Enforcement Bureau, made the announcement:

 

 

Somerset Selectboard Chair Scott Lebeau tells WSAR News developers could not find the capital necessary to make it work.

 

 

Somerset Selectman Steve Moniz tells WSAR News something can happen with the community owned 100 acre site now that the casino project is scrubbed.

 

 

That leaves Brockton, which approved a host committee assignment by a narrow margin this week, and the city of New Bedford, which has a ballot question on June 26, as the remaining contenders for the region c license.            

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Fall River City Council Member Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News he feels a sense of vindication with the release of a the final report of a special prosecutor who looked into an August 2014 meeting that took place inside the personal vehicle of then fall river mayor Will Flanagan at a spot on the city’s waterfront.

Correia:

 

 

Correia and Flanagan each have civil law suits versus the other as a result of what happened last summer; Correia says that process continues.

 

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Fall River City Council Member Dan Rego has become the first of the eight councilors to weigh in on whether or not Councilor Paul DaSilva should consider resigning, in the wake of the release of a report from a special prosecutor into a late night August 2014 meeting that resulted in intimidation charges and an investigation of the aftermath of that session on the city’s waterfront.

              

Rego tells WSAR News:

 

 

Special Prosecutor William Connolly says DaSilva’s testimony was not credible; DaSilva and former Flanagan administration chief of staff Ann O’Neil Souza were also allegedly trying to gather information on those in the recall movement after petitions were being circulated.

 

Rego says DaSilva should consider how some in the public might perceive him.

 

 

DaSilva has not pulled papers for re election to his council seat, which he secured after multiple attempts to crack the final nine. 

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Special Prosecutor William Connolly citing insufficient evidence will not charge former mayor Will Flanagan relative to a complaint filed by city councilor Jasiel Correia that Flanagan brandished a handgun in an attempt to intimidate him during a late night meeting on the waterfront last August.

 

Correia tells WSAR News he has yet to digest the entire report.

 

 

The report does call into question the integrity of testimony provided by Flanagan and two others who were present that night, Tom Gosselin and city councilor Paul DaSilva.

 

DaSilva tells WSAR News he has yet to read the report.

 

 

Connelly also questions the integrity of some testimony provided by former Flanagan chief of staff Ann O’Neil Souza, suggesting that she may have been trying to remain loyal to Flanagan.

 

Flanagan has so far not returned messages seeking comment on the report.

 

The former administration remains under investigation by the attorney general's office over what may have been the illegal procurement of windows for government center.

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A divided Fall River City Council giving initial approval to a proposed ordinance that seeks to solidify pay as you throw into law.

 

The vote 5-4.

 

Council Vice President Ray Mitchell tells WSAR News:

 

 

Councilor Leo Pelletier:

 

 

Ordinance Committee Chair Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News he's still not convinced if pay as you throw will work.

 

 

The proposed changes in the ordinance requires a vote in second reading later this month before language regarding pay as you throw and recycling is officially part of the ordinance. 

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According to the report of the Special Prosecutor for of the investigation of former Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan:

 

Conclusion:

 

The evidence in this matter is insufficient to prove the commission of a criminal offense by former Mayor Will Flanagan or any others in connection with the August 15, 2014, early morning meeting involving Mayor Flanagan, City Councilor Jasiel Correia, City Councilor Paul DaSilva, and Tommy Gosselin. Accordingly, this investigation will be closed and no criminal charge will issue.

 

Respectfully Submitted, William H. Connolly Special Prosecutor for the Bristol County District Attorney

 

 

 

Click here for a link to the final report of the Special Prosecutor 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mayor Sam Sutter and members of the legislative delegation are meeting in Boston with some of the key players who could offer assistance to the city struggling to pay for the federally mandated CSO Project.

 

The city is on the hook for 147 million dollars so far and must meet annual debt service payments of 8 and a half million dollars.

 

Sutter telling WSAR News he's not sure what help if any might be available.

 

 

State Representative Carole Fiola who organized the meeting telling WSAR News there may be little the federal government can do.

 

 

Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR News there may not be a way to refinance existing debt but there may be an opportunity for lower rates on future borrowing.

 

 

The two o'clock meeting involves officials from the EPA, the DEP, State Treasury and the Clean Water Trust.

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The Fall River School Committee has accepted a 101.4 million dollar draft budget from its finance sub-committee.

 

The draft provides for level services for fy-16.

 

A public hearing on the budget is set for May 26th.

 

City Council President Joe Camara tells WSAR News the financial teams for the school department and the Sutter administration need to meet soon to decide what meets minimum net school spending requirements for FY 16.

 

 

School Committee Finance Sub-Committee Chair Melissa Panchley agrees.

 

 

Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News it’s not clear yet whether net school spending requirements can be met for fy-16.

 

 

Sutter must deliver a balanced budget to the City Council by June 1st.

 

The new fiscal year begins on July 1st.

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An upset in Monday’s election in Somerset.

 

Voters turned away incumbent selectman Don Setters and replaced him with Steve Moniz by a fairly comfortable 721 vote margin.

 

Moniz, winning all five precincts.

 

In the days only other contested race Roger Benevides defeated Joseph Bednarik for a seat on the Water and Sewer Commission, also taking all five precincts.

 

22.7 percent of eligible voters participated in the election.

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A session Tuesday on Beacon Hill will see Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter and the Bristol legislative delegation meet with commonwealth administrators regarding the ongoing combined sewer overflow project, which costs Fall River annual payments of some eight point five million dollars each fiscal year.

  

Ken Fiola, Executive Vice President of the Fall River Office of Economic Development.

 

 

Fiola says paying for the c-s-o project in will be a long term obligation that won't be going away for a long time.

 

 

The thirty five dollar a quarter fee instituted during the Correia administration helps pay for the cso project; it may have to be hiked later in the decade as the payments for the project continue. 

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Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown confirming what WSAR first reported that the Fall River School District will fall short of minimum net school spending requirements for the current fiscal year by about one million dollars.

 

 

Mayo Brown says the district will reach 99.2 percent of minimum net school spending requirements for the fiscal year and is seeking 101.3 million dollars for fy-16 in order meet spending requirements and cover the shortfall for the current fiscal year.

 

The budget goes before the School Committee Monday night.  

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Fall River continues the process of joining an electricity aggregate being organized by the Southeast Regional Planning and Economic Development District.

 

The aggregate, designed to help commercial and residential consumers by providing cheaper energy through bulk purchasing.

 

Some 15 cities and towns, including New Bedford and Somerset are considering joining the aggregate.

 

The public is to be briefed during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

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Fall River Superintendent of Public Schools Meg Mayo Brown tells WSAR News because of issues in the over estimation of health insurance line items, net school spending targets will not be matched for fiscal year 2015, as the school committee prepares to receive a draft FY 2016 budget on Monday during their May session at Kuss Middle School.

 

 

Mayo Brown says health insurance projections for the second year are causing issues for the school department budget.

                      

 

Mayo Brown says projections on health insurance need better accuracy:

                        

 

Mayo Brown says an infusion of free cash from the sixth floor closed issues with fiscal year 2014, but says fiscal year 2015 still has issues regarding net school spending targets.

 

 

The Finance Committee of the Fall River School Committee met Wednesday afternoon, and heard from administrators for BMC Durfee High School and the Resiliency Prep School.

 

BMC Durfee asked for a level services budget, while Resiliency Prep wants an additional slot. 

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A busy week continues for Westport town meeting members.

 

One article calls for the transfer of 100 thousand dollars from available funds to assist with the transition of the middle school building from a school district building to a town-owned property.

 

Selectboard Chairman Craig Dutra.

 

 

Another article seeks the approval of a drainage easement that would allow for improvements at the intersection of routes 6 and 177.

 

 

The special town meeting being held Thursday at 7pm at the high school.

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voting unanimously to deem the backers of the proposed Brockton casino as suitable for the region "c" gaming license.

 

Mass Gaming and Entertainment and Rush Street Gaming Partners now advance to the site specific phase of their license application.

 

Voters in Brockton are to weigh in on the proposal on Tuesday.

 

Kg Urban Enterprises, with hopes of a casino in New Bedford now face a suitability hearing.

 

Meanwhile Market Analyst WhiteSand Gaming has released a report saying the gaming commission should award a license in region "c" and that Somerset would be the ideal location for a casino.

 

The Herald News says the report was released to selectmen last month.

 

Crossroads Massachusetts has asked the commission for another delay after one of its financial backers withdrew at the last minute before Monday’s application deadline.

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Fall River City Council President Joe Camara tells WSAR News there remains a commitment to meeting net school spending for the public school department, but says how to get there is one of the issues that need to be examined.

 

Camara says that under now Seekonk Administrator Shawn Cadime, some items were able to be included for net school spending.

 

 

Camara says there remains a commitment to net school spending among the nine council members.

 

 

Camara says as the municipal budget is constructed, the questions council members have are similar to those of prior years.

 

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As the city of Fall River continues to debate the need for a tourism director, one of the primary administrators for battleship cove on the waterfront tells WSAR the need for a tourism director is apparent.

 

Brad king.

 

 

King says tourism directors pay for themselves in the end, with the tax dollars generated through people visiting communities and spending money.

 

 

Rob Mellion, President and CEO of the Fall River Area Chamber Of Commerce says its time to end the debate and hire someone.

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