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WSAR News Headlines


Fall River City Councilor Mike Miozza, along with the others members of a Solid Waste Task Force, are beginning to craft a report on the long term future of solid waste and recycling that is due next month.

 

Miozza says recommendations on how to cope with solid waste and recycling are being made to the sixth floor.

 

 

Miozza says the report will likely have material on options such as a transfer station, or privatization of the collection of solid waste and recycling.

 

 

 

Miozza says Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter will need time to reach his own conclusions based on the committee’s final report.

 

 

The sixth floor is set to name an economic development committee at some point this month. 

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Blount Fine Foods in The Fall River Industrial Park is set to complete a fifty five thousand square foot addition in September, as the firm held a topping out ceremony Monday morning.

 

The Fall River based business, which makes soups for Panera Bread and Legal Sea Foods, among other brands, has already hired an additional thirty people as part of the expansion.

 

A second phase, some 40 thousand square feet, expected over the next three years.

 

President and CEO Todd Blount:

 

 

Blount said he was glad that Blount was able to pull off a tax increment financing deal quickly.

 

 

Blount is experimenting with bowl packaging, and looking to expand to family size entrees. 

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As part of a coordinated reaction to the shooting deaths of military recruiters in Tennessee, Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson has deputized active members of the U.S. Armed Services as deputy sheriffs.

                  

Hodgson explains the rationale behind the decision.

 

 

Hodsgon says the 13 military vets will share in any information being developed locally.

 

 

 

In a release, Hodgson says the Bristol County Sheriff's Department is trying to foster more collaboration with those trying to strengthen public safety response. 

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After proposing the idea of a prorated abatement as part of the newly introduced ten dollar solid waste fee in Fall River, City Council Member Dan Rego is prepared to argue that property owners who have tenants who move out should be able to accrue the same benefit while an apartment is empty as are those property owners who have apartments that do not wish to rent out at all.

 

 

Rego says he wants to see stronger enforcement of the pay as you throw statues as far as penalties.

 

 

Rego says illegal dumping of solid waste needs to stop.

 

 

The pay as you throw program in Fall River has its first anniversary next week. 

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The Chair of the Somerset Board of Selectmen, Scott Leabeau, says an agreement was signed Thursday involving the community and the Baker administration, in a ceremony at Town Hall.

 

 

Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito talks about best practices.

 

 

The Baker administration pledged to work with cities and towns upon taking office, as the current governor and lieutenant governor are both former board of selectmen members. 

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The Solid Waste Task Force about to enter a new phase.

 

Co-Chair Daniel Botelho a report is being prepared that will be presented to the mayor in September.

 

Botelho says there are few options.

   

 

Botelho says some sort of transfer station is likely to be a part of those recommendations.

 

 

The task force is expected to submit at least two recommendations for the mayor to chose from.

 

 

 

The panel is currently reviewing data on how other Massachusetts communities dispose of their trash.

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Fall River residents can expect to receive the first of two bills for their new trash fee next week. 

 

Council’s ordinance committee Tuesday giving initial approval to abatement for homeowners with apartments that are not being rented.

 

The committee may consider a partial abatement in cases where rental units are temporarily empty for short periods of time.

 

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros says that could be a tricky proposition.

 

 

Viveiros says the new trash fee can be paid on-line.

 

 

The abatement needs one more committee vote before going to full council.

 

The proposal for a pro-rated abatement would have to be introduced in an ordinance.

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Fall River has been awarded a more than two million dollar federal SAFER staffing grant.

 

The two year grant will enable the department to fund ten positions.

 

The administration hopes to be able to absorb the positions when the grant expires and Mayor Sam Sutter says it's possible additional funds will be sought at that time.

 

 

A 14 million dollar SAFER grant expired last year resulting in deep personnel cuts.

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Battleship Cove is looking at locating a 30 to 35 million dollar museum somewhere along Fall River’s waterfront.

 

 

Director Brad King says a museum is natural fit for the city.

 

 

King says several locations including under the highway and near the carousel are under consideration.

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Bristol Sixth District State Representative Carole Fiola says she thinks the majority of 162 million dollars that was vetoed by the Baker administration will be restored to the fiscal year 2016 budget, as the Massachusetts House and Senate will begin that process this week.

                

 

Fiola says with tax collections on the upswing, no one is sure yet how that might impact fiscal year 2017.

         

 

Fiola says she will vote in the affirmative on the sales tax holiday weekend. 

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With the IOC and the USOC pulling the plug on the Boston 2024 effort, Bristol Plymouth First District State Senator Mike Rodrigues says Boston Mayor Martin Walsh made the correct call in refusing to sign an agreement with the IOC that would have had the city covering any cost overruns for the 2024 summer games.

 

 

 

Rodrigues says the more Massachusetts taxpayers learned about the Olympic effort; the harder it was to gain public support.

 

 

Efforts were underway to have a 2016 statewide ballot question gauge public support for an Olympic bid.

 

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In memos released by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, Commissioner James McHugh has announced that he has informed Attorney General Martha Healy that he will be leaving the commission on September 30th.

 

McHugh becomes the first of the original five Massachusetts gaming commissioners to leave his seat, after being appointed by former Attorney General Martha Coakley and former Governor Deval Patrick after the passage of the Expanded Gaming Act in 2012.

 

Executive Director Rick Day is also stepping down and will be acting as a consultant to the gaming commission.

 

The Gaming Commission oversees horse racing in the commonwealth, and has also watched the Plain Ridge Slot Parlor open this summer, while monitoring construction in Springfield and the ongoing drama of the Boston license awarding and its ongoing aftermath. 

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Still no word on whether Fall River will receive another two year safer staffing grant for the fire department.

 

FEMA has been slowly releasing information about award recipients but Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News nothing yet.

 

 

Sutter says he hopes there is no need for another safer grant in two years but won't rule out asking for one.

 

 

A 14 million dollar safer grant awarded two years ago expired last year resulting in dozens of layoffs in the fire department.

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New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell saying New Bedford is on the move and will get beyond this disappointing withdrawal of K.G. Urban's casino plan for the city's waterfront.

 

Mitchell saying there is life after the casino.

 

 

 

K.G. Urban says it was unable to secure funding for the casino because of the uncertainty about whether the Mashpee Wampanoag’s might someday get approval for a casino and would pay no taxes to the state.

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It appears there will be a sales tax holiday weekend in Massachusetts next month.

 

 

 

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg telling WSAR News he's not a big fan of waiving the 6.25 percent sales tax on certain items.

 

 

 

The weekend of august 15th and 16th is being eyed as sales tax free weekend this year.

 

Local Chamber President and CEO Rob Mellion says a better idea might be to organize a statewide shop local campaign with greater sales that might work better to drive business into local stores rather than the big box stores.

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The seven member Fall River School Committee approved a revised budget number of nearly 1-hundred 19-million dollars for the current fiscal year, but not without disagreement over how the net school spending number will be hit later this year.

 

The city will send over some two point seven million dollars in certified free cash later this winter; School Committee Member Melissa Panchley says she remains optimistic.        

 

 

School Committee Member Joe Martins had issues with the way net school spending will be achieved; Panchley answered this way.

 

 

Fall River School Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown informed the committee the numbers break down this way.

 

 

The School Committee dealt with some 20 issues in nearly four hours Monday night. 

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The Fall River Public School District is watching to see how its application process might change in the future regarding free or reduced lunches, with nearly eighty percent of students currently qualifying.

 

There is concern that new qualifying procedures could knock nearly 2-thousand students from the rolls of those who receive free or reduced lunch.

 

Mike Coogan, Chief Operating Officer for the Fall River Public School District:

 

 

Coogan says if the number of pre qualified students’ drops, money flowing to the district to cover the cost of free or reduced lunches could be impacted:

                   

 

Coogan says the district is concerned about losing a significant number of students if new qualifying rules become the norm.

                        

 

Currently about 11 percent of public school students in Fall River pay the full price for lunch during the school year; all of the ten thousand students are eligible for breakfast, which is free to students. 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter says it will be toward the end of the month before the roster of an economic development committee is disclosed.

              

Sutter says it’s taking longer than he would have liked.

 

 

Sutter says while some of the membership of what will likely be an eight person effort have been known since the spring, a full announcement is forthcoming later this summer.

 

 

A task force on solid waste that has been working since the spring is still gathering information with an objective of producing a report with a least of pair of recommendations sometime in September.

 

Special Assistant to the mayor, rob Bentlyewski, will help author that report. 

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The process towards securing commonwealth financial assistance for a new BMC Durfee High School continues this month, as the Massachusetts School Building Agency meets with public school administrators to talk about future enrollment numbers and other issues.

 

Fall River Mayor and School Committee Chair Sam Sutter has been in contact with Fall River Public School Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown and says a session with the MSBA will lead to other steps.

                

 

Sutter says he is in favor of a new high school being possibly constructed later this decade.

 

 

The last building to be opened under a program that saw a total overhaul of public schools in Fall River was the new Morton Middle School which opened a couple of years ago. 

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As a solid waste task force continues its preparations for a September report with at least a pair of recommendations regarding the city’s long term future regarding solid waste and recycling, and a conversation with social service agencies begins on how to perhaps provide low cost, or free, purple trash bags, Fall River Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco says increased compliance will likely mean more bag sales in the new fiscal year:

 

 

Pacheco says he’s waiting for an answer from North Carolina based Waste Zero as to whether or not any communities in their network of more than eight hundred offer single bags that can be sold to households that may not need packages of ten or more.

                         

 

It could be fiscal year 2017 before decisions are made regarding free or reduced price bags to households that qualify, after first determining what those qualifications might look like.

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It’s likely that the commonwealth of Massachusetts will have a sales tax holiday during the third weekend in august, as has been customary for several years, following other states across the country that follow the same practice as a precursor for back to school purchases.

 

Bristol Sixth District State Rep Carol Fiola

 

 

Fiola says there are arguments made for and against a sales tax holiday.  

            

 

The Patrick administration decided against a sales tax holiday a few years ago. 

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The debate over the new ten dollar trash fee and whether it can be repealed in the next fiscal year, heating up as election season draws near.

 

City Council President Joe Camara said this week that the fee can be eliminated through new revenue and budget cuts but Mayor Sam Sutter says it might not be that simple.

 

 

Sutter says the only alternatives to the fee, deep layoffs and missing minimum net school spending requirements.

 

 

Mayoral challenger, City Councilor Jasiel Correia, says the fee can and should be repealed next year.

 

 

 

Correia says loopholes need to be closed that are costing the city money.

 

 

 

Still to be decided, when and if subsidized trash bags will be made available for those in need.

 

Sutter will discuss the matter during a meeting with Council President Joe Camara on Monday.

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Governor Charlie Baker asking lawmakers for money to fight the opioid crisis.

 

Baker seeking 28 million dollars in a supplemental appropriations bill.

 

Fall River State Representative Carole Fiola serves on the joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and says the legislation seeks funding for treatment and prevention.

 

 

Fiola says she is impressed with a non-opiate alternative to methadone currently being used on the Cape.

 

 

Baker also signed a 38 billion dollar budget for fy-16 into law.

 

The fiscal year actually began on July first.

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MASS Dot planning some temporary traffic changes while it opens access to the new Davol Street Bridge.

 

Drivers will not be able to access Central Street between Durfee Street-Milliken Blvd and Water Street, exit five off 195 west and Davol Street between the u-turn and Central Street between 2 AM to 5 PM Saturday.

 

There will be a number of detours in place during the process and some big changes when the work is complete Saturday evening.

 

The traffic department urges everyone to consult the city's website for detailed information.

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Bristol Third District State Representative Shaunna O’Connell says she's part of a citizen's effort to insure public tax dollars are not used to finance a potential 2024 summer Olympics in Boston and in surrounding cities including New Bedford, and perhaps, Fall River.

 

O’Connell says the initial ballot question, which could land on the November 2016 general election ballot was filed on Thursday.

 

 

 

There has been talk of taking out some type of insurance to cover potential cost over runs.

 

Proponents of the Olympics have argued that every American hosted Olympics have posted a profit.

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With Fall River’s unemployment in the single digit rates for the first time in several years, the head of the Fall River Career Center on North Main Street, Joe Vienna says job postings in a variety of classifications have increased this year.

 

 

 

Vienna says the career center is trying to fix a skills gap.

 

 

Vienna says the Career Center is also teaching prospective job seekers the basics of getting and keeping a job.

 

 

The Career Center publishes a weekly hot jobs list which you can get by dialing 508-730 5000.

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Fall River City Councilor Jasiel Correia says he has concerns if the pay as you throw purple bags are reduced, or given away in future fiscal years.

 

While a discussion with social service agencies likely won't happen till later this summer, Correia says he wants to know how the revenue lost is going to be recovered, even if a classification of the bags is sold at cost, estimated to be at thirty-four cents.

 

 

City Councilor Mike Miozza has long advocated either giving away the bags to people who qualify at certain income levels, or allow the bags to sold one at a time, rather than in a package. 

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Fall River City Council has approved a ten dollar per unit solid waste fee that was already part of the fiscal year 2016 budget during second reading and enrollment Monday night, by a five three margin.

                  

The Sutter administration’s chief of staff had indicated to council members that the payment could be split into two portions.

              

Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros says if council wants the fee split into two portions, its doable.

 

 

Corporation Counsel Joseph Macy told council that in the end, its a fee, not a tax.

 

                    

In a statement from the sixth floor, Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter declared that with the final passage of the ten dollar per unit concept, the city ''has a sound and sustainable budget'' for the current fiscal year.

 

Viveiros told council that the new Sutter administration tried to meet a May first deadline to submit budget proposals, but had too many challenges.

 

 

City Council President Joe Camara says every mayor faces the same budget challenges the current administration had to deal with.

 

 

Council also tabled a measure regarding water and sewer connections, while approving a new ordinance increasing boat ramp fees; a resolution concerning the feasibility of owner occupied residential tax exemptions was sent to the ordinance and legislation committee, while the finance committee will discuss policies and procedures for the Fall River Fire Department to avoid issues with overtime.

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Fall River Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco says discussions with social service agencies regarding free purple trash bags, or having a classification of the bags sold at a reduced price for those who qualify, will happen soon:

 

 

Pacheco says sales of the purple bags could surpass two point seven million dollars.

                      

 

Pacheco says compliance numbers are back in the mid eighties.

                        

 

The pay as you throw program was launched last August.

 

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Fall River City Council is being asked to bond for a little over half a million dollars in new computer software to bring Government Center’s operating systems into the twenty-first century.

 

pending approval, once new software is installed, training will cost the city a little over a thousand dollars a day to make sure staff using various computer systems will know how to use various functions.

 

Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros:

 

 

 

Viveiros says past practice that staff needs to be trained on software, otherwise, various features would simply go to waste.

                     

 

Upgrades to windows operating systems and munis systems are part of the half million dollar investment. 

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City Council expected to give final approval to the administration's ten dollar per month, per unit trash fee.

 

The fee is projected to raise some 3.7 million dollars in new revenues that would help retire a 6.5 million dollar shortfall.

 

Council may also vote on a proposed ordinance that would establish the purple bag and the green cart as the proper trash receptacles under pay as you throw.

 

Mayor Sam Sutter.

 

 

Councilor Mike Miozza, one of three to vote against the new fee the first time around, says it may be in violation of an ordinance requiring new fees to be presented to the council prior to a May first deadline.

 

 

The administration has obtained a legal opinion that questions the legality of the ordinance but Miozza says it may be up to the courts to decide.

 

 

Meanwhile...the Ordinance Committee still wrestling with what to do to make purple trash bags more affordable for those in need.

 

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros says the bags could be sold at a reduced rate.

 

  

The administration has suggested that reduced priced bags could be distributed through agencies such as Citizens for citizens.

 

The matter is still up for discussion.

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Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco has completed his inquiry into whether proper procedures were followed by city inspectors in determining whether City Councilor and mayoral hopeful Jasiel Correia obtained the proper permits for work being performed at a mill space he occupies on Anawan Street.

 

Pacheco says it appears the building department followed proper procedure.

                    

 

Pacheco says violations will be addressed.

 

 

Correia says he is cooperating.

 

 

Word of the potential violations was received by government center and some in the news media through an anonymous e-mail.

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Bristol County Sheriff Tom Hodgson says the number of federal illegal alien detainees at the Bristol County House of Corrections has decreased dramatically since the Obama administration did away with the secure communities program.

 

 

Hodgson says changes in federal laws have made the country less safe.

 

 

Hodgson says as a result of the changes lock ups such as his have lost funding which shifts the financial burden for the cost of running the facility back to the state.

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Fall River has a new corporation counsel after the Sutter administration selected Judge Joseph Macy to serve in the post, which was being manned on an acting basis by the remaining attorney in the city’s legal department.

 

Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter says the recruitment of the retired judge began several months ago.

 

 

Macy says he's looking forward to working with the nine member city council and says he sees the job in three components.

 

 

On a similar note, Sutter says Macy will explain the administrations stance on its solid waste fee this week.

 

 

Sutter says council has effectively passed the solid waste fee with its approval in June of the fiscal year 2016 municipal budget.

 

 

Sutter has indicated that he is hopeful the solid waste fee will be a one year occurrence. 

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Members of the area delegation had hoped to meet with Dynegy, the new owners of Somerset’s Brayton Point Power Plant this month to discuss the plant's future, but so far a meeting date has been elusive.

 

Speaker Pro-Temp Pat Haddad says she recently spoke about the plant with the Secretary of Energy.

 

 

Haddad hopes to keep the plant operational for a while longer.

 

 

Brayton Point is scheduled to go off line in June of 2017.

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Mayor Sam Sutter set to meet in Boston this week with Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.

 

 

Senator Mike Rodrigues says Rosenberg will spend a day in the Fall River area a week from Wednesday, beginning at ten am at the Narrows Center for the Arts.

 

 

Rodrigues says elected officials from the 7 communities he represents, including Fall River, are invited to meet with Rosenberg on the 22nd.

 

Rodrigues says it's a follow up to the commonwealth conversation tour he conducted with Rosenberg in the spring.

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Fall River City Councilor Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News that he will deal with the issue of permits for space he leases at an Anawan Street Mill, housing his digital app and business incubator efforts on Monday, while allowing an investigation into building permits to conclude.

 

 

Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco, according to The Herald News, has been tasked with looking into the issue of whether or not permits were pulled.

 

Correia says he's not surprised that someone apparently sent an email to The Herald News and the Mayor’s office.

             

 

 

Correia says the entire issue is a non story.

                    

 

 

Correia says he plans to deal with the issue on Monday at Government center. 

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The two Co-Chairs of a Solid Waste Commission met Thursday in a 90 minute discussion with Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco on how a final solid waste report to be issued to the Sutter administration in September will look and be presented.

 

Dan Botelho is one of the Co-Chairs:

 

 

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Co-Chair and Fall River City Councilor Mike Miozza, tells WSAR News the commission has a singular mission: 

             

 

 

Botelho tells WSAR News the sixth floor will have to examine various components including cost, contracts in force, and other elements as part of a final decision on what to do with solid waste and recycling.

 

 

Botelho and Miozza say it will be up to the mayor’s office to follow up on various forms of research as it seeks to make a long term decision on how to deal with solid waste and recycling

 

 

 

Mayoral assistant Rob Bentlyewski has been tapped to help write the report; work on that will begin this month and continue into August. 

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MASS DOT is set to close exit five off of I-195 westbound, involving Central Street and North and South Davol Street in Fall River this Saturday.

               

The closures are necessary to install various utilities on Central Street and pave North and South Davol Street.

                 

three closures will be in force beginning at 7 am Saturday; they include Central Street between Durfee Street And Milliken Boulevard and Water Street; exit five off I-195 westbound and North and South Davol Street between the u turn and Central Street.

 

Five different detours will also be in force until work on the various projects wraps at 5 pm. 

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Mike Miozza will not seek re-election after serving two terms on the Fall River City Council.

 

Miozza telling WSAR News he'll focus his attention full time to his workplace safety consulting firm.

 

  

Miozza says he has not ruled out a return to public life in the future.

 

  

Miozza who ran unsuccessfully in last fall's special election for mayor is also spearheading a drive to review the city's charter, a matter expected to appear on the ballot this fall.

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FROED’s Ken Fiola says there needs to be a housing policy to help balance the population and reduce the number of subsidized housing units that exist in Fall River.

 

 

Fiola tells WSAR News the increased cost of living in greater Boston has made Fall River attractive to those in need of low and moderate income housing.

 

 

Fiola says the steady increase of low income residents has put a strain on services, but that's not all.

 

 

Fiola says a housing policy needs to be developed as part of an economic development plan.

 

 

Fiola says many more affluent communities are not meeting their state mandated obligation to provide the required amount of low income housing units.

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Still no closing date for Amazon to purchase property for the one million square foot distribution center it plans to build at the Bio-tech Park.

 

FROED’s Ken Fiola:

 

 

Fiola expects a closing and a ground breaking perhaps by the end of this month.

 

Amazon is expected to employ at least 500 people at the facility.

 

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The Fall River School Department has received a grant totaling more than two hundred thousand dollars to extend learning time at the Letourneau elementary school by one hour each day, but more money is needed.

 

Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown tells WSAR News the school committee will have to find an additional 100 thousand to fund the program.

 

 

The Talbot and Tansey schools have also applied for grants for extended learning time.

 

The department is also looking for a new location for its parent information center, currently located at Durfee.

 

 

Mayo Brown says they'd like to lease some space off campus.

 

 

Local officials have a face to face with the Massachusetts School Building Authority scheduled for later this month as they seek state funding for the construction of a new Durfee High School.

 

City Council must still appropriate funds for a feasibility study before a search can begin for a location for a new high school.

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The special task force appointed by Mayor Sam Sutter to investigate possible solutions to Fall River’s trash crisis for the long haul close to wrapping up its work.

 

Co-Chair Dan Botelho tells WSAR News the panel expects to begin preparing a report soon that would be presented to Sutter by the fall.

 

The panel hearing last night from officials from mass coastal rail.

 

 

Botelho says the idea of a transfer station and other options were discussed during the closed door meeting.

 

 

Botelho says there has not been much of a response from those in the industry.

 

 

Task Force Co-Chair Mike Miozza tells WSAR News there could be a ballot question this fall on bonding for a transfer station.

 

 

The city is currently under contract with waste zero for pay as you throw and the city council this month is expected to take a final vote on a new administration trash fee as part of the FY-16 budget.

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The New Bedford Airport has secured a grant from the Federal Department of Transportation worth a little over three million dollars for taxiway rehabilitation.

 

Airports in Barnstable and Plymouth also received multi million dollar grants for runway and taxiway projects.

 

Its possible work could begin at some point this summer once the grants are received; New Bedford’s airport could be a factor in the competition for the region c destination resort casino license. 

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Massachusetts will benefit from one of the most generous paid sick leave time policies in the nation under a new law that takes effect Wednesday.

 

The new law covers an estimated one in three workers who are not currently entitled to sick days.

 

The law allows workers to accrue up to 40 hours of paid sick time in a given year, earning one hour for every 30 hours worked.

 

Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Mellion tells WSAR News small business owners will be impacted.

 

 

 

Mellion says compliance is mandatory.

 

 

Mellion says the new law places another financial burden on the backs of business owners, many of whom are already struggling.

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Welcome to FY 16. 

 

The new fiscal year began at midnight but state lawmakers have yet to agree upon a budget.

 

The legislature instead adopted a two week stop gap budget to keep the government running while a six member conference committee tries to resolve a dispute over taxes.

 

Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR news...a deal could be near...

 

 

The major stumbling block, a senate-backed plan to scuttle a voter approved rollback of the state income tax in favor of an increase in the earned income tax credit.

 

Rodrigues thinks that’s a better deal.

 

 

Governor Charlie Baker submitted a 38 billion dollar budget that addresses a 1.8 billion dollar shortfall for fy-16.

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The new fiscal year begins in Fall River with a 263 million dollar budget in place.

 

The city council however has yet to approve a new ten dollar trash fee that would help retire a 6.5 million dollar shortfall.

 

Mayor Sam Sutter:

 

 

 

Sutter says it’s - quote - the best budget for the city at this time.

 

Council set to take up the trash fee during its July 14th meeting.

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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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