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WSAR Headlines

Some of the Cameras are Real


Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros tells WSAR, on the Thursday edition of the ''WSAR Newsroom'' that some of the cameras installed in Fall River's Government Center are indeed active--and others are not. 
When asked by WSAR how much the active cameras cost, and how they were paid for, Viveiros said she didn't have the numbers in front of her. 
The City Administrator says the recently installed equipment is part of an overall security plan for the building.

The Somerset PD Search


The search for a Somerset Chief of Police that will replace the outgoing chief later this summer has attracted 8 contenders, two from the Commonwealth, with one from the SomPD, according to what the Somerset Board of Selectmen disclosed last night during their regular session in Somerset Town Hall. 

As a result, the search has been extended till May 17, while outgoing Chief, Joseph Fereria, is urging a yet to be named Screening Committee to vet the current applicants in hopes of finding someone before he leaves the big chair in June. 

Mitchell Casino Doubts


Fall River City Council Vice President Ray Mitchell tells WSAR that he is harboring doubts about the city's ability, with its Foxwoods Partners, of securing a Destination Resort Casino License for Region C, telling WSAR that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission seems content to wait for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the U-S Department of the Interior to make up its mind on the Mashpee Wampanaogs and their Land in Trust Application that could lead to the creation of ''First Light''.

The MA Gaming Commission will likely grant New Bedford's request to extend an application deadline that would result in a license being awarded during the first quarter of 2015. 

Camara Vans Caution


Fall River City Council President Joe Camara says he'll have to be convinced that the city can save money on transporting Special Ed Students in an in house effort that is being discussed at the administrative level. 

Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros told a City Council Finance Committee Session on Tuesday that she and School Department COO Tom Coogan have had discussions about an idea that would have the city purchasing specially equipped vans and running the operation themselves. 

Camara, on Wednesday's Edition of The WSAR Newsroom, says he has concerns about cost and liablity. 

FR Bank Robbery


The Major Crimes Division of the FRPD is looking for a white male suspect in connection with the robbery of a Bedford Street Branch of the Mechanics Bank in Fall River on Monday Afternoon. 

A teller told Fall River Police Investigators that the suspect produced what was thought to be a firearm wrapped in a piece of cloth, which is visible on surveillance photos. 

The suspect appeared in shots taken from cameras in the bank to be 5'9'', 240 lbs, with a beard, mustache and sunglasses; he was wearing a black sweatshirt and a black leather jacket. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March Unemployment MA


Fall River's Unemployment Rate for March sits at 14.7% as the number of unemployed in Fall River, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Commonwealth's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, went up by 249 people who joined the ranks of the unemployed in March. 
In New Bedford, Unemployment went down from 13.3% in February to 12.7% in March, while in Swansea unemployment dropped by a tenth of a percentage point to 10.9%, while unemployment in Somerset was up by over half a percentage point from February to March, to 10.4%.
 
 
 

New Bedford Announcement


The City of New Bedford is poised to receive what is being termed as a ''major investment'' by the U-S Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration during event Wednesday Morning on the New Bedford Waterfront at the Public Safety Marina. 
U-S Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine and New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell will make the announcement at 11am Wednesday. 
 
 
 
 

Fall River City Council This Week


The Fall River City Council's Committee on Finance will spend much of Tuesday night grilling the city's Financial Team on three different items, including the Quarterly Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Report and Capital Project Summaries. 

The most contentious discussion will likely center around a report on outstanding bonds and unfunded liabilities, which total well over $600 million; the Finance Team of will also be asked how current shortfalls in the FRPD and FRFD will be made up over time. 

Council will also request all court documents and other material related to the Dominon Energy Lawsuit, which the city lost in an Illinois Federal Courtroom earlier this spring. 

 

 

GIC in Fall River


Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros has indicated to WSAR that the Sixth Floor has decided to place 20 union locals from the Municipal and School Department sides into the GIC Health Insurance program staring in 2015; the conversion will likely take place after impact bargaining with the various union locals; under MGL, after 30 days, the locals will be included in the program, which was made available to cities and towns several years ago after the Great and General Court and the Patrick Administration opened the program up to cities and towns; it covers Massachusetts State Employees and members of the Mass House and Senate, as well as various cities and towns. 

Viveiros tells WSAR that the program currently provides 11 different health insurance plans. 

Flanagan: The Casino Vote


While the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has not voted on whether or not it will extend a July 23 deadline on Region C Casino Applications, its likely that a September deadline will be agreed to next month.

Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, on the Thursday edition of the WSAR Newsroom, says it means the city has  more time to work with Foxwoods on a host agreement, and educate voters on the economic development that could be involved. 

Flanagan tells WSAR that its likely a host community vote will happen at some point in July. 

Flanagan: We Were Misled


Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, on Thursday's edition of the ''WSAR Newsroom'' tells WSAR that he feels the city was misled by Dominion Energy reps, as the city was denied its share of settlement money that will now go entirely to Somerset, as Flanagan maintains that the energy firm may have tried to derail Fall River's attempts to meet deadlines related to Green Energy projects. 

Flanagan tells WSAR that he feels vindicated that a Federal Judge in Illinois denied Dominion's attempt to have the city pay its legal bills in connection with a lawsuit filed by the city. 

SouthCoast Rail Cash Maybe


The Massachusetts House has approved a $12 billion bonding issue that includes over $2 billion for SouthCoast Rail, and $500,000 for the proposed illumination of the Braga Bridge in Fall River, as well as money for the expansion of South Station in Boston. 

SouthCoast Rail must still acquire permits from 31 cities and towns along the Stoughton Route, and secure a number of Federal and Commonwealth permits to allow construction to proceed, for which there is no timetable for beginning or finishing the project. 

Dominion Cash for Somerset


A Federal Judge in Illinois has ruled that Somerset will receive the entire $1.6 million settlement from Dominion Energy, while ruling that Fall River will not be penalized for filing the suit to recover an $800,000 share that was part of an alleged verbal extension of a 2013 deadline according to the city's Corporation Counsel. 

North Elementary School, and Somerset's Middle School, will each have energy projects underway perhaps this fall. 

The Grants Issue


As Fall River prepares for life without a S-A-F-E-R grant, and New Bedford continues in year two of its $12 million grant, Bristol Plymouth First District State Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR that he is not sure if public safety grants will be part of an FY 2015 budget, which could impact the FRPD. 

Rodrigues tells WSAR that he cautions communities that grant dollars need to be treated as one time revenue.

New Bedford Fire Fatal


New Bedford Police and Fire investigators are trying to determine the cause of a fire Tuesday morning that killed one man whose body was found in a second floor bedroom. 

The fire started just after 8am at 55 Rounds Street in New Bedford; it was confined to the second floor of the structure. 

An Autopsy is set to be performed to determine the cause of death; the victim's identity is being withheld. 

South Coast Rail Votes Scheduled On Beacon Hill


Votes are scheduled this week in the Massachusetts Legislature on a package of transportation bond authorization bills that total some 13 billion dollars and contain some 2.3 billion in potential funding for the South Coast Rail Project.

 

Rolls call votes are scheduled in the House tomorrow and in the Senate on Thursday.

 

A two-thirds majority is needed in each branch.

 

Passage does not guarantee funding but authorizes the Patrick Administration to borrow up to that amount should it choose to.

The Region C Deadlines


Its possible that sometime Tuesday Morning the cities of Taunton, New Bedford and Fall River could know what the new deadline is regarding Region C Casino Applications, as New Bedford's request for a sixty day extension will likely be granted. 

Meanwhile, May 1 is shaping up to be one of the more eventful meetings of the Mass Gaming Commission, as the City of Boston will take its shot at convincing the five member panel that it, and not Everett or Revere, is the host community for Region A.

That could mean that the city of Boston would get a host community vote, and if it fails, could take the idea of casino in Region A out of play for now. 

MA Gasoline Prices This Week


The price of a gallon of regular self serve unleaded gasoline is up by a single cent this week, according to Triple A of Southeastern Mass, as the average for a gallon of regular is at $3.53 a gallon.
WSAR has noted prices ranging from $3.51 in Somerset, to $3.59 in Fall River.
Triple A is noting a prices range in the Commonwealth of $3.39 to $3.75 for a gallon of regular unleaded self serve gasoline.
The national average sits at $3.64. 
 
 
 
 

Rhode Island Pot Debates


As Rhode Island debates the legalization of marijuana, and the opening of Compassion Centers, lawmakers in Providence are churning out various pieces of legislation; one that would ban advertising in Print, Radio, T-V or other means by soon to open Compassion Centers, while other legislation seeks to remove any prohibitions on adults using, possessing and cultivating cannabis for personal use.
Rhode Island Compassion Centers, under other proposals, would able to self limit inventory depending on what registered patients might actually need, while cardholders would be limited in how many plants they could posses under one proposal, while increasing the amount of ''usable marijuana'' someone could use. 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Somerset Tax Bills


The chair of the Somerset Board of Selectmen tells WSAR that its likely that Property Tax Bills for Residential and Commercial Property Owners will be in the mail next week, after lengthy delays as the community turned to outside consultants and the Mass Department of Revenue for assistance with righting its financial house. 

Don Setters tells WSAR that work is nearly complete on cash reconciliation, which would allow local aid dollars, delayed by the DOR, and Free Cash to be certified. 

A Treasurer/Collector appointed by Selectmen will likely begin work at some point this summer. 

The Maplewood Carnival


The Flanagan Administration is sponsoring another Winter Break Carnival that begins this week and continues through the final weekend in April. 

Proceeds from the Carnival, based this spring at the site of the Harbour Mall, will benefit the Maplewood Neighborhood Association. 

The Pothole Fix


Fall River is set to receive a $285,000 infusion to fix potholes, as the Commonwealth is supplying $30 million for the 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts to repair streets after a difficult New England Winter. 
Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan tells WSAR that he'll meet with various administrators to decide how best to use the cash supplied through the Patrick Administration. 
New Bedford will see some $318,000 to fix potholes, while Somerset will get more than $76,000 and Swansea around $84,000. 
MassDOT will have around $10 million to fix potholes on state roadways. 
 
 
 
 
 

Gas Buddies Survey This Week


GasBuddies.com, in its weekly survey of over 2800 gasoline outlets, finds an average of $3.54 for a gallon of regular self serve unleaded, while the national average is at $3.55 a gallon. 

Prices are nearly five cents lower at this point on the calendar compared to a week ago, while the national average is  up seven cents over the last 30 days. 

Locally, WSAR has noted prices at $3.41 in Somerset, and 3-47 in Fall River, to a high of $3.59.

 

 

 

Fall River School Committee 4 7


The Fall River Public School Committee will deal with a ten item agenda that will feature discussions on the current grading structure at BMC Durfee High School, while also beginning the process of perhaps securing Commonwealth funding from the Massachusetts School Building Authority for a new BMC Durfee High School, after the Commonwealth refused to fund repairs to the current facility. 

The Committee will convene at Morton Middle School starting at 6:30 tonight. 

Fall River City Council 4 8


The Fall River City Council will be asked to approve a $527,000 Loan Order for a North Park Playground tomorrow night, as loan orders have been a divisive subject for the nine member panel since being sworn in in January. 

The council will also get their first look at Capital Project Summaries that were approved earlier this year.

Five Resolutions are also on the docket, as council will also be asked to approve a Statement of Interest regarding a new BMC Durfee High School. 

Flanagan: Host Community Agreement With Foxwoods, Not A Done Deal Yet


Mayor Will Flanagan says a host community agreement with Foxwoods is not ready yet.

 

The Administration had hoped to have the document before the City Council for Tuesday night's meeting but Flanagan says that is not likely to happen.

 

It is hoped a referendum can be held on the casino question in early June.

MA Gaming Commission Could Delay Process In Region "C"


The State Gaming Commission is expected to act on a request this morning to delay the deadline for applying for a commercial casino license in Southeastern Massachusetts.

 

The five month delay of the July 23rd deadline is being sought by the City Of New Bedford and several developers who say the gaming law's preferential treatment initially of the Mashpee Wampanoags kept developers from investing in the region.

 

Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan opposes the delay saying it could negatively impact Foxwood's plans for a casino in Fall River.

The New Foxwoods Number


During Monday's Fall River Budget Session in Government Center's Atrium, Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan indicated that a Tourism Director might result if Foxwoods agrees to a larger $25 million host community fee, in an agreement that is now being reviewed in Connecticut by Foxwoods Administrators. 

Flanagan says that a $100,000 line item in the FY 2014 budget that was designed to hire a tourism director will remain unfilled for now, in a a climate that will likely see a number of FRFD members laid off with the end of the SAFER Grant. 

FR Budget Issues


Issues surrounding the Fall River FY 2015 Budgets for the Municipal Branch and the School Department have Rock Street Administrators defending Coaches and Interventionists, while some City Councilors are asking for cuts to be made to those line items. 

In a roundtable on Tuesday's WSAR Newsroom, the podcast of which is available now, Fall River City Council Member Linda Perreia urged Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown to act and reduce those positions; Mayo Brown says schools have upgraded their DESE Status as a result of the work of those and other employees. 


Fall River City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros has told WSAR, during an appearance on the Friday Edition of the ''WSAR Newsroom'' that a draft of a host agreement is being shipped to Foxwoods so administrators there can get a look and send it back with any suggestions or corrections. 

Viveiros tells WSAR that the draft Host Agreement could be in City Council Packets for the the April 8 meeting. 

Viveiros tells WSAR that suggestions taken from a session in Government Center a couple of weeks ago are in the draft. 

Joint Special Meeting in Fall River


Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan has set a Joint Special Meeting for the Fall River City Council and School Committee for the purposes of discussing the FY 2015 budget for Monday afternoon at 6:30pm in Government Center's Atrium.

The municipal side has issues with the end of year four of the SAFER Grants, and the third quarter closing of the Fall River Landfill, while the School Department has issues with Net School Spending, after transportation costs went up in the midst of the current fiscal year. 

Somerset PD 28 or 31?


As Outgoing Somerset PD Chief Joseph Fereria leaves his post to concentrate on the race for the Democratic Nomination for Governor's Council, an ongoing discussion over what the community can afford as far as a police department contingent is ramping up. 

Fereria made the case last night at keeping the current force size at 31, while Selectman Don Setters made the argument for 28. 

Ultimately, Somerset Town Meeting in May will make the decisions regarding budgets for various town agencies and the K-8 School Department. 

Rally For Massachusetts Minimum Wage Legislation


Supporters of a minimum wage increase in Massachusetts plan to rally at the Statehouse today.

 

House Speaker Robert Deleo has submitted legislation that would increase the minimum wage to 10.50 cents per hour by mid-2016.

 

The Senate has already passed an 11 dollar minimum.

Fall River Police Chief Racine's Request For New Cruisers Still Unmet


A City Council committee failed for a second time last night to advance a request by Police Chief Dan Racine for ten new police cruisers.

 

The original request was for a 350 thousand dollar loan order but when that failed to muster enough votes the Finance Committee attempted to look at alternative funding options.  The Committee failed last night to get six votes to advance the matter.

Fall River Firefighters: Flanagan Misleading Public About Safety Risk


The Fall River firefighters union says the Flanagan Administration is misleading the public about the risks involved in reducing staffing levels.

 

The union says in his application for a federal SAFER grant Flanagan indicated any reduction in staffing would impact safety but now that the grant appears to be in jeopardy the Mayor says a sharply reduced staffing level will meet safety requirements.

 

The loss of federal grant money could see staffing levels reduced from 213 m to 153 firefighters.

 

Flanagan is promising a response sometime today.

Local Unemployment for February


Fall River's Unemployment for February, according to numbers released Tuesday from the Commonwealth's Department of Labor and Workforce Development, checks in at 14.5%.

The number of those listed as officially unemployed in Fall River dropped by 100 people between January and February. 

Unemployment in New Bedford dropped to 13.2% in February, down from January's 14%.

Unemployment in Swansea was unchanged at staying at 11.1%; numbers improved in Somerset, as February's number of 9.9% was a drop of three tenths of a percentage point.

Unemployment in Westport in February is listed at 12.2%.

 

 

 

 

 

Fall River Budget Summit


Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan is proposing a sort of budget summit.

 

Flanagan wants to meet with the School Committee and the City Council with the news media and the public present to discuss the budget for fiscal 15.

 

The city is facing a potential deficit of ten million dollars largely due to the loss of federal grants and the closing of the landfill.

 

No date has been set for the summit.

Fall River Council To Vote On Gaming Resolution


The Fall River City Council is set to vote tonight on a gaming resolution.

 

The resolution asks the State Gaming Commission to deny a request by the City Of New Bedford and KG Urban Enterprises to delay the July 23rd deadline for developers to apply for the region's sole casino license.

 

The Flanagan Administration says a delay could jeopardize Foxwood's effort to secure the license for Fall River.

Somerset Special Town Meeting vote


Voters at Somerset’s Special Town meeting approved an appointed Treasurer-C ollector Position in a secret ballot vote as residents voted on  21 articles late into the night. Hundreds were  in attendance at the Venus de Milo where the large room was three quarters full.

The largest discussion revol ved around the issue of en elected position for Treasurer as it the current situation or an appointed position. With the town mired in fiscal difficulties over the budget and the town’s accounting, the residents voted 354-153 to have an appointed position. The Massachusetts Great and General Court and the Commonwealth's Attorney General must still approve Somerset's wish to combine the posts. Currently there is no timetable for when that might happen.

In other meeting news:

Ø  An amended article one, that spends $200,000 on a "qualified accounting firm", has passed a Somerset Town Meeting via a voice vote.

Ø  Rejected Article 2, via a voice vote, which asked for $55,000 for a "qualified outside consultant to review town operations for efficiency."

Ø  Approved Article 3, which appropriates a little over $247,000 for a 4 year labor agreement with Local 2649 of the IAFF, which covers 28 employees.

Ø  An amended Article 4, which was reduced to $50,000 from its original $150,000, has been approved by a Somerset Special Town Meeting; the funds are going to expenses in the Police Department.

Ø  Voted to postpone indefinitely Article 5, which would have required a quorum of 75 voters to convene any town meeting; companion articles 6, 7 and 8 have also met the same fate.

Ø  Approved  article nine,  a little over $38,000 for 5 new voting machines via a Federal and Commonwealth mandate; article 10, concerning the community's contribution to Bristol Aggie was approved; Article 11, which appropriated $2,500 for an FY 2013 audit and Article 12, which will use an insurance settlement to pay for repairs to the AMVETS building, has also been approved.

Ø  A vote by a secret ballot on Article 13,  Approved  by  354-153 vote an appointed Somerset Treasurer-Collector position after 45 minutes of debate on the issue. This is the first secret ballot at a Somerset Town Meeting since the question of school regionalization several years ago.

Ø  Town meeting has approved Article 14, which transfers money from a pair of line items to fund the salary of an appointed Treasurer.

Ø  Approved Article 15, which creates a Senior Citizen and Veterans real property tax work program.

Ø  Article 16, which reduces the mixed solid waste figures.

Ø  Approved Article 17, which appropriates $3500 to send information to voters on future Town Meetings.

Ø  Agreed to postpone Article 18 which would have transferred $2.43 million to Stabilization Funds.

Ø  Article 19, which would have increased the size of the Somerset Board of Selectmen from 3 to 5, postponed, as were Articles 20 and 21.

The Seating Showdown


Swansea Police have confirmed to WSAR that they were called to the Venus Di Milo Monday Morning to quell an alleged argument between Selectmen Board Chair Don Setters and Somerset Town Moderator Lucia Casey over how seats were arranged for a Special Town Meeting that was to commence later that night. 

The Venus is normally closed on Monday, which means Somerset has crews setting up chairs and a sound system for the event, which may be the final one at the Venus; a new Regional High School is expected to have the technology that will allow voters to gather nearly anywhere in the building which has been an issue in the current building. 

Security footage allegedly exists of whatever happened between Casey and Setters. 

The Fall River Host Agreement


Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, on Monday's Edition of the ''WSAR Newsroom'', says that a host agreement for Fall River to secure the Region C Destination Resort Casino with Foxwoods will likely be wrapped in the next 10 days. 

Flanagan tells WSAR that issues on job creation and other matters are being addressed after a packed house raised questions about various aspects of the debate at a forum in the Government Center Atrium. 

Fall River City Council Member Linda Pereria will likely not sign on to a resolution asking the Massachusetts Gaming Commission not to extend a July deadline for casino applications after New Bedford administrators asked the commission to do so last week. 


 

Special Somerset Town Meeting Tonight...In Swansea


A Special Somerset Town Meeting will take place tonight in Swansea.

 

Town Meeting will be asked to consider 21 articles including several financial and procedural offerings.

 

Town meeting is at 7pm at The Venus in Swansea.

Final Meeting Tonight On Fall River's Solid Waste Options


The City Council Committee on Health and Environmental Affairs will conduct it's final meeting tonight as it vents proposals for what to do with the city's trash once the landfill closes.

 

The panel will hear a proposal for a transfer station from Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco.

 

The Flanagan Administration will review all of the proposals before making a recommendation to the Council.

 

Tonight's meeting is at six at Government Center.

BREAKING: WOMAN SERIOUSLY HURT IN FALL RIVER FIRE


A woman is fighting for her life at Rhode Island Hospital this morning following a fire in a two story home on Fulton Street.

 

the fire began after 2am on the first floor.

 

A man was able to escape unharmed but the woman became strapped and had to be rescued by fire officials.

 

The woman is believed to have suffered life threatening injuries.

 

details are sketchy still.

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