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WSAR News Headlines

With a Fall River primary for 29 city council contenders and 5 mayoral hopefuls happening on September 22nd, the chair of the city’s election commissioners says the deadline for registering to vote is on Wednesday, September 2nd.


The elections office at Government Center in Fall River will be open from nine am till eight pm to make sure those who want to register can do so.


Election Commissioner Elizabeth Camara says her office is getting inquires from voters.



Camara says even with a significant number of city council contenders, everything can fit on one side of the ballot.



There was initial confusion a few years ago when a series of ballot questions had to be on the flip side of the ballot in Fall River and some voters did not flip the ballot over. 


Fall River, Somerset and various other cities in southeastern Massachusetts wish to form an electric aggregate that could be in force during the fourth quarter of this year, and could lead to lower rates for residential consumers who wish to take part.


Retired Judge Joseph Macy, who also serves as Fall River Corporation Counse, says he sees no issue with the agreement which now goes before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.



Macy explains how the aggregate works.



Macy says he's not sure what the timetable on a decision might be.



It’s hoped that various communities could begin offering the aggregate choice during the fourth quarter of this year. 


Fall River Superintendent of Public Schools Meg Mayo Brown says she will enter into negotiations with the school committee on a successor contract.


Mayo Brown says progress has been made but says more needs to be done.



According to The Herald News, school committee members Joe Martins and Gabe Andrade voted against entering into negotiations.


Mayo Brown says a redesign of Durfee's curriculum and school day is ongoing.



Mayo Brown says she wants to continue the work of improving the district.



Mayo Brown says the start of the process on potential extension of her contract is outlined in language agreed to during the last successor deal.



Mayo Brown served as an assistant superintendent before she was hired after the resignation of Doctor Nick Fischer. 


Still worried that a fire in the former King Philip Mill complex could threaten that neighborhood State Representative Alan Silvia is looking to speed up the process of determining the mill's future.


The Preservation Society is looking for an assessment of a smokestack that some fear could come tumbling down before determining what to do next with the mill complex.



Once the fate of the smokestack is determined Silvia says it will be time to talk about the future of the mill.




State environmental officials must still remove an oil tank on site.


Two men have been arrested in connection with allegedly setting the Coughlin School building fire over the weekend, after an initial investigation by the FRPDs Major Crimes Division, the Fall River Fire Department Investigation Unit, and the Massachusetts Fire Marshall's Office.


Investigators allege that two men broke into the Coughlin School during the early morning hours of Saturday and were taken into custody early Sunday morning.


27 year old Kristopher Cabral of Fall River and 24 year old Jeffery Aguiar of Plymouth are charged with breaking and entering, a felony.


Both are considered suspects in what has been now determined to be arson and could face additional counts.


The Coughlin School sustained heavy damage between the first and second floors, and a partially collapsed roof. 


Fall River Health Director Doctor Henry Valencourt says the time to get a flu shot is when your primary care physician, or big box pharmacy, begins dispensing the vaccine.



Valencourt says little has changed regarding the criteria of who needs a flu shot.



Your health insurance will likely cover most if not all the cost of a flu shot. 


Mayor Sam Sutter says it would be great if Fall River had a full time tourism director, but with the issue back on the front burner the question remains, how to pay for it.



Mayor Sam Sutter says he tried to find funding for a tourism director earlier this year.



City Council President Joe Camara says once public safety is fully funded again it would make sense to hire a tourism director.



Council, last year, voted unanimously to have the former Flanagan administration put aside 100 thousand dollars to hire a tourism director.


Much of the money was used instead on a contract to assist small businesses to expand.


The debate rekindled last week when raised by Chamber President Rob Mellion


The Sutter administration says adoption this week by the City Council of an ordinance declaring the purple bag and the green cart as the only acceptable trash receptacles puts additional teeth into efforts to enforce pay as you throw.



Corporation Counsel Judge Joseph Macy says the administration awaits the recommendations of the Solid Waste Task Force.



With the approval of the abatement program for the new trash fee, Macy says bills can be issued within the next couple of weeks.


Compliance with pay as you throw ranges between 85 to 90 percent.


The administration plans to announce a campaign to crack down on those who litter or dispose of trash illegally.


Massachusetts Senior Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren told reporters in Fall River Wednesday that there is no immediate help coming for Fall River to help lower its debt regarding the ongoing combined sewer overflow project and that the federal government is not the best partner right now for cities to maintain infrastructure.



Warren says the feds have underinvested in infrastructure projects.



Warren told reporters there is little that could come Fall River’s way in the near term to assist in the cost of the CSO project.



The CSO project is a federally mandated idea, produced after a lawsuit over the condition of the Taunton River. 


Fall River City Council has a packed agenda to deal with Tuesday starting at 5:30 pm.


The Finance Committee is set to discuss loan order of 9-hundred thousand dollars for new brown and yellow yard waste carts, while more than half a million is needed for an updated municipal computer system.


Council will also be asked to designate the Harbor Mall as an area for additional economic opportunities.


Council President Joe Camara:



Camara says the mall has space available that needs to be filled.



Camara says the city really can't get involved, as the owners are working on solutions of their own.




One of four resolutions will discuss how the city can keep ten newly hired fire fighters, once a two year recently awarded SAFER Grant runs out.


On the advice of Fall River Corporation Counsel Joseph Macy, Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter decided to delay mailing out bills that deal with a solid waste fee that is part of the municipal fiscal year 2016 budget for the city.


Sutter says the nine member city council still has to approve elements of the initiative before the bills, payable in two installments, can go out.



Sutter says he hopes council deals with the issues involved during a session Tuesday at Government Center.


City Council will consider a resolution Tuesday, filed by Councilor Leo Pelletier, in opposition to state legislation that would make Massachusetts a sanctuary state.


The bill, filed by Boston Democrat Byron rushing, is to be heard in committee next month.


Leo Pelletier:



Pelletier says gateway cities like Fall River and New Bedford would become magnets for illegals under this proposal.



Pelletier says while he doubts the bill has a chance to pass he wants to alert the rest of the council of its existence.






Seventy six people from Cape Verde, Israel, Egypt, Portugal and a wealth of other nations are now citizens of the United States, after a swearing in ceremony on board the u-s-s Massachusetts, as part of the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the battleship and the creation of Battleship Cove.


Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Richard Moses congratulated those who worked to become citizens.



Moses talked about the number of those who took the oath, and the number of nations represented.



Moses told the new citizens it was important to retain their heritage and celebrate it.



The commemoration of the fifty year mark happens this afternoon, while power boat races happen this weekend on the Taunton River. 


It’s state sales tax free weekend and local merchants are hoping you'll remember them when you are shopping for bargains.




Chamber President Rob Mellion says there has been a trickle down effect that has benefited locally owned businesses but says the big box stores still tend to get most of the business.


The state will waive the 6.25 percent sales tax on many items Saturday and Sunday.


Critics say it will cost the state some 25 million dollars in lost revenues.


With power boat races on the Taunton River this weekend in conjunction with the 50th anniversary weekend of the arrival of the u-s-s Battleship Massachusetts to the Fall River waterfront, City Council Member Dan Rego says many people deserve praise for their work in bringing the week of celebration to the waterfront this summer.



The final reunion of those who served on the battleship is this weekend as part of the commemorative week on the Fall River waterfront. 


Fall River could be making another attempt at the deciding the fate of the former police station on Bedford Street, as City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros is asking for a request for proposals from developers who might be interested in trying rehab the property.


Viveiros says she wants to explore what options are available.




Viveiros has indicated the RFP process will streamline things compared to past building sales, including the empty school buildings in Fall River.



Viveiros says the draft RFP has some specifics attached.



Under the current Fall River city charter, Viveiros, as city administrator, is the custodian of tax possessions.




New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has announced a campaign for a third term as mayor, telling WSAR the city is improving:




Mitchell says New Bedford has some momentum.



Mitchell says New Bedford has reached a critical juncture in its long term future.



Mitchell is running for a third term. 


With Brockton the last casino proposal still standing here in southeastern Massachusetts Senator Mike Rodrigues says it would be irresponsible for the state gaming commission to award a license in region "c" until it is determined whether the Mashpee Wampanoag’s will be allowed to proceed with a casino in Taunton.


The tribe has been waiting for years to see if it will be allowed to place land into federal trust for a casino, something that most observers believe is unlikely to happen.


Rodrigues says there is a risk involved that has kept most commercial developers at bay.



Rodrigues says with casinos sited in Springfield and greater Boston and a slots parlor in Plainfield there is no need for  another.



The gaming commission has indicated that it will continue to review the Brockton proposal but has not said whether it still plans to issue a license for region "c."


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. 


As several Fall River City Council Members have indicated to WSAR in the past several days, the issue of illegal dumping of solid waste continues to be a concern in several neighborhoods.


Fall River Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco says illegal solid waste is also coming in from nearby cities and towns.



Pacheco says illegal dumping is also occurring in parking lots.



Pacheco says compliance numbers with the pay as you throw initiative remain in the mid to high eighties.



A Solid Waste Task Force appointed by the Sutter administration is preparing a report to be issued next month on long term solutions for Fall River’s solid waste and recycling.


A Boston House member has filed a piece of legislation, according to the Boston Herald, that could make the commonwealth of Massachusetts a sanctuary state, allowing undocumented residents the right to drivers’ licenses and other benefits, if it became law.


Members of the Bristol Delegation want to read the legislation which was introduced this week.


Bristol Seventh District State Representative Alan Silvia:




Bristol Sixth District State Representative Carole Fiola says many communities can't handle such an influx if it were to happen.




Fiola says Fall River would have more issues to deal with if the idea ever became law.       



Bristol Third District State Representative Shaunna O’Connell explains what the proposal would allow:



O’Connell says if the bill is granted hearings in committee, the key as to who is behind it will come when testimony is offered.



Massachusetts does have a handful of so called sanctuary cities in the Boston suburbs. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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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