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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Flanagan each have civil law suits versus the other as a result of what happened last summer; Correia says that process continues.
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.
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.
According to the report of the Special Prosecutor for of the investigation of former Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn tells WSAR he is set to contact Special Prosecutor William Connolly regarding when a report might be issued in the ongoing investigation of an August 2014 session inside former Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan’s personal vehicle.
Current Fall River City Council Member Jasiel Correia alleges he was intimidated by the former mayor who allegedly displayed a handgun.
Quinn says he hopes something lands on his desk soon.
Two Massachusetts attorney generals have also now looked into the installation of some 22 windows on the sixth floor of government center in the summer of 2013.
Massachusetts Fourth District State Representative Joseph Kennedy the third says his office is still working on issues surrounding the Brayton Point Power Plant, as the largest tax payer in Somerset could be closing in the summer of 2017.
Kennedy says he’s trying to put pressure on FERC as to what can be done to lower the cost of producing electricity, which is being passed on to commercial and residential consumers.
Brayton Point Power Plant is slated to close in June 2017 although efforts to keep it open to at least 2020 remain in play.
Fall River Elections Division has been a busy on this fifth day of May, the first day where contenders for mayor, the nine city council and six school committee seats, along with a potential charter commission, can take out nomination papers due back for certification of signatures later this summer.
Thirteen contenders have taken out papers for the nine city council seats, including Cliff Ponte, Doug Carvalho, Ronald Cabral, Richard Branco, Josuha Fontes, Jason Caminiti, David Meade, Trott Joseph Lee, Scott Donnelly, Nancy Alves, Paul Machado and Russell Desbiens.
Christopher Bianchi has become the first mayoral contender in Fall River, for the seat currently held by Sam Sutter, while Nancy Alves has also pulled papers for the Fall River School Committee.
None of the incumbents have taken out nomination papers, which require fifty certified signatures from eligible Fall River voters.
The last day to take out papers is July 31st, with the last day to file for certification is August 4th.
A potential primary is set for September 22nd, with a general election on Tuesday November 3rd.
As a committee comprised of teachers and other administrators continue to study issues with keeping veteran teachers in Fall River, Fall River School Committee Member Melissa Panchley tells WSAR News the city can be a difficult place to teach and says the issue of salary is also a factor.
Panchley says it takes a special sort of educator to work in Fall River.
During budget negotiations earlier this spring, principals for some buildings in the district indicated to the school committee's committee on finance that their staff was almost entirely comprised of first and second year teachers.
The Executive Director of the effort to secure SouthCoast Rail later in the 21st century tells WSAR News that as the entire operation and budget of the MBTA is under a microscope, the permitting and engineering process for SouthCoast Rail continue.
Fox says work on SouthCoast Rail continues.
What has not been decided is how SouthCoast Rail might be funded, where a layover station might be located, and if the expansion can happen at all if Boston’s primary post office, which is next to South Station in Boston, cannot be moved after more than a decade of negotiations.
As Crossroads Massachusetts in Somerset, and K-G Urban Enterprises in New Bedford try to complete the process of submitting necessary financial documents as part of the first phase of attempting to secure the region c destination resort casino license, Somerset Board of Selectmen Chair Don Setters tells WSAR News that a proposal to move the Newport Grand slot parlor to Tiverton could be a point of concern for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
It’s likely a state wide vote, and a local option vote, would be needed before the Newport Grand operation could be moved to another Rhode Island location.
The Sutter Administration is seeking to clarify comments made earlier this week by Mayor Sam Sutter that meeting state mandated minimum net school spending requirements was not an urgent matter. Not on his urgent list.
The remarks were a direct contradiction to what Sutter said during a mayoral debate last December.
Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco.
Pacheco saying what Sutter intended to say is that he is still studying the matter to understand what can and cannot be applied to the net school spending requirement.
The district must find 1.3 million dollars to close a shortfall for the current fiscal year in order to meet 100 percent of net school spending.
The School Committee is expected to ask the administration for a 103 million dollar contribution for fy-16 in order to meet state requirements while providing a level services budget.
The State Board of Education is launching a series of public forums this week about which of two statewide student assessment tests Massachusetts should adopt.
The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education wants to hear from members of the public about whether the state should stick with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, exam rather than adopt the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, test.
The first public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at Fitchburg State University.
The board is expected to make a decision this fall as to whether PARCC should replace MCAS tests in English language arts and mathematics.
The Mayor's Task Force on Solid Waste Issues met behind closed doors Thursday night but quickly adjourned after questions were raised by some members and the press as to whether the meeting was in violation of the state's open meeting laws.
Swansea Community Activist Patrick Higgins has filed an open meeting law complaint with the Attorney General.
Co-Chair Dan Botelho tells WSAR News it will be necessary for the panel to meet in private sometimes.
Botelho says the public will have their say.
Co-Chair City Councilor Mike Miozza tells WSAR News the process will be transparent.
Miozza says there are misconceptions about the role of this task force.
Meanwhile, Sutter Administration Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News the task force was appointed strictly for the purpose of advising the mayor and is not covered by the open meeting laws.
The task force is seeking a legal opinion and will not meet until the matter is resolved.
New Bedford City Council is expected Thursday to authorize a special election for June 23rd for the sole purpose of gauging public support for a waterfront casino project being pitched by Kg Urban Enterprises.
Ward Three Councilor Henry Bousquet tells WSAR News the public seems to back the proposal.
Bousquet says a vote in the affirmative could convince the gaming commission to award the license to New Bedford.
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has signed a host community agreement with Kg Urban.
The New Bedford project is one of three under consideration for the region "c" casino license.
Proposals in Somerset and Brockton are also pending.
Somerset Selectman Scott Lebeau tells WSAR News officials expect to get additional details soon from Crossroads Massachusetts about a casino being proposed for town owned land on Brayton Point Avenue and route 103.
Crossroads has yet to disclose details of its proposal nor have they called for a referendum election as yet.
Brockton voters go to the polls on May 12th to weigh in on a proposal for the Brockton fair grounds.
The ''Providence Journal'' is reporting that Twin River Management Group wants to build a new casino in Tiverton and close the Newport Grand Slot Parlor, as a Massachusetts slot parlor will open this summer, while the MGM Springfield project is currently under construction.
Twin River has secured an option to purchase 45 acres of land near route 81, only a few hundred feet from the Rhode Island and Massachusetts state line.
The Chair of the Twin River Board of Directors indicates the firm wants to create Rhode Islands second full service casino, with slot and table games.
Twin River is waiting for a signature from Rhode Islands Governor to construct a four story, 200 room hotel near the property.
With Brockton set for a local option vote on May 12th, New Bedford voters could be asked in late June if they wish to host a region c destination resort casino, as K-G Urban Enterprises is suggesting a waterfront casino location in the Whaling City.
New Bedford City Council President Brian Gomes.
Gomes says New Bedford has had this goal in mind for a long time.
Two other local referendums have passed in recent years regarding gaming expansion in New Bedford.
Gomes says he believes the same can occur this summer:
The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is waiting for additional application information from investors in Somerset, New Bedford, and Brockton.
A region C license could be awarded in the fourth quarter of 2015.
The Sutter Administration has appointed attorney Brad Kilby as the new Fall River Assessor, while attorney Bill Kenney will bee the new City Planner.
Kenney is leaving a post on the Commonwealths Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to take over the slot occupied by former planner Elizabeth Dennehy, while Kilby will occupy the post that attorney Don Berube held.
Dennehy and Berube resigned after Sutter was elected.
Kilby will be closing down his private law practice to join the Sutter Administration after serving for eight years each on the Fall River City Council and the Fall River Public School Committee.
Sutter says that Kilby and Kenney will be making $22 thousand dollars less than their predecessors.
In the aftermath of the State of the City Address, Fall River Mayor and School Committee Chair Sam Sutter is indicating to WSAR News that no decisions have been made regarding the net school spending number the city is required to hit by Massachusetts general law for fiscal year 2016.
Sutter will begin a series of meetings with neighborhood associations and civic organizations this week.
Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News the mechanism to begin the process of fining households considered noncompliant with the pay-as-you-throw initiative begins this spring along with a likely court challenge.
Sutter says preparations for the fining procedure will be laid out this week.
Sutter says he does watch the citizens input portion of City Council meetings and understands the anger of citizens.
Sutter says the city is prepared for a challenge.
The city’s contract with North Carolina based Waste Zero called for language to be added regarding pay as you throw and recycling in August of 2014.
That process is now in the hands of the Ordinance and Legislation Committee.
Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter told a gathering in the Fall River City Council Chambers Thursday that he will begin a tour of neighborhood associations and other locations on Monday in hopes of to gathering new ideas.
Sutter’s comment come in the wake of the announcement of six million dollar deficit come fiscal year 2016.
Sutter explained the theme of shared sacrifice.
Sutter says the shared sacrifice will extend to citizens in Fall River.
Sutter says the state of the city is not an issue but says immediate finances are.
Sutter says its likely fees and taxes will be going up in fiscal year 2016.
City Council President Joe Camara says news of a six million dollar budget shortfall is something that demands immediate attention and says shared sacrifice is a concept that many Fall River families are familiar with.
The Rhode Island House and Senate have approved legislation allowing Twin River Casino in Lincoln to pursue a 200 room, four story hotel once been forbidden under current statue as a means of protecting hotels in Providence.
The community of Lincoln must now rezone property near Twin River to allow for the hotel to be constructed.
Rhode Island lawmakers decided to change the current statute, which had been on the books for a decade, as a slot parlor in Massachusetts is slated to open in June and MGM Springfield has their destination resort casino currently under construction.
The new hotel is expected to take a year to complete, create 200 construction jobs and 100 full time jobs once the hotel opens.
As the Sutter Administration prepares its first municipal budget for fiscal year 2016, the process is further complicated by the fact that all nine municipal unions are negotiating labor contracts, including the Fall River Police Department and the International Association of Firefighters representing Fall River firefighters.
Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco.
The Fall River Public School Department is working on individual contracts with various administrators, while trying to deal with the Fall River Educators Association on a new labor agreement.
A New Jersey based painting contractor working on the Braga Bridge in Fall River could be fined nearly 42-thousand dollars, after the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a inspection in the fourth quarter of 2014, after being referred by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards Lead Program, finding six serious violations of workplace health and safety standards, which Allied Painting is contesting.
Employees of Allied Painting were found to have elevated blood levels that were performing what are described as abrasive blasting and painting on the bridge.
The work was performed on scaffolding located beneath the bridge.
OSHA says it found excess levels of lead on various surfaces where employees work, change and eat.
The surfaces included items in a decontamination trailer and a bench seat of a van where employees ate lunch.
OSHA says employees were also exposed to fall hazards of more than 100 feet because of ladder obstructions and issues with temporary railings.
Fall River City Council President Joe Camara tells WSAR News he agrees with Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter in terms of an ultimate challenge to the pay-as-you throw initiative, which could decide once and for all whether or not the program, rolled out in the summer of 2014, is legal or not.
Camara says until the program is challenged, the ordinance and legislation committee should wait on the results then act accordingly.
Camara says the Sutter Administration will have to make the call as to whether or not pay-as-you throw is part of the fiscal year 2016 municipal budget.
A solid waste task force is due to issue a report in September, while language regarding pay-as-you throw and recycling is back in council’s ordinance and legislation committee.