Post image for Emergency crews and Hazmat responded to white powder in resident’s mail

Above: A state Hazmat team had to be called in after a resident reported an unknown powder in the mail. (images cropped from Facebook)

It sounds like the simple act of opening a card turned into a big ordeal for a resident (and Southborough’s first responders) yesterday.

A Southborough man contacted emergency services to report a small bag of white powder in his mail. The substance was determined to be “illegal” but “non-hazardous”. Before reaching that conclusion, a lot went into taking necessary precautions.

A press release from the Southborough Fire Department details:  

At approximately 1245 PM on Monday, March 25, 2019, Southborough Fire and Police were dispatched to 15 Nichols Street for a report of a letter containing a suspicious substance. A male occupant of the single-family residence, owner and only occupant at the time, reported he had open a card he received in the mail and observed a small plastic bag containing what appeared to be white powder. He reported that none of the powder had released form the bag and had placed all items involved outside his front door.

Fire crews responded with a command vehicle, engine and ambulance complimented by one officer and four firefighter/paramedics. Police responded with the on-duty Sargent and one patrol officer. Off-duty fire personnel were requested to provide station coverage.

During response to the incident, the Massachusetts State Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) Team, part of the Special Operations Division under the Department of Fire Services, was contacted. Subsequently the District 3 Hazmat Team was dispatched as a Tier 1 response. The Tier 1 response consisted of five hazardous material technicians and one Tactical Operations Mobile unit.

The US Postal Service Inspector and Southborough Postmaster were also notified.

Upon arrival, fire and police established a Unified Command Post and a safety perimeter. After confirming the occupant had not been exposed to the substance, an Operations Section was established consisting of two firefighters and one police officer. These members made entry into the perimeter to conduct further investigation, while two firefighter/paramedics remained with the ambulance as emergency backup. Crews visually confirmed the unknown substance was confined to the plastic bag and established an isolation zone, commonly referred as a hot zone, around the items. [click to keep reading…]


Post image for Town Meeting Recap: Afternoon voters debated Library preservation, Kallander Field and more

Above: More than an hour after Article 22 was introduced, Town Meeting voters ended debate and overwhelmingly supported a CPA Library Historic Facade Restoration and Preservation project. (image cropped from SAM video)

As you should know by now, Southborough’s Annual Town Meeting opened on Saturday.

The meeting covering 35 Articles was completed in a single day, split into an afternoon and evening session. The opening session favored Article proponents. The evening was more successful for Article opponents.

The opening session was had a much better turnout. But the bigger difference seemed to be that while the afternoon Articles were proposed by and backed by Town officials, many of the evening Articles were backed only by Citizen Petitioners. (In fact, one of the two petition Articles that passed was based on its amendment by a Town official.)

That doesn’t mean that all of the afternoon Articles were unanimously supported by Town officials. Two of the afternoon’s big debates were items that boards were at odds over.

This morning, I’ll focus on recapping the debates from the afternoon session. (I’ll try to get to the nighttime action later today or tomorrow.) [Editor’s Note: This was supposed to post early on Tuesday! There was no way I was going to post another story late Monday night!]

Library Restoration and Preservation Restriction

The longest debate on the floor was over the article to repair and restore the deteriorating roof and facade of the historic section built 1911-1912.

As I previously shared, the proposal by the Library Trustees and Community Preservation Commitee included a Preservation Restriction. That PR is to preserve the facade and windows to the historic section. It won’t prevent renovations/tear downs to the larger 1989 section of the building.

The sticking point was CPC’s refusal leading up to Town Meeting to amend the Article to remove the PR. (In prior public meetings, selectmen had considered amending the motion on the floor. Earlier in the week, they learned that they didn’t have the authority to do that.) 

Most selectmen and Advisory opposed tying the Town’s hands on how to handle the building in the future. The CPC justified that the PR was “best practice” when spending CPA funds on a restoration project. 

Some residents like, William Colleary, worried about continuing to “kick the can down the road” while the building falls into deeper disrepair. He told the hall that given community preservationists, the historic building wouldn’t be torn down in any of their lifetimes. Some, like Selectman Dan Kolenda, posited that the project might be able to wait another year though he acknowledged that came with a risk. Kolenda suggested the Town could bring back a capital buildings project or the CPC a version without the PR.

Library Trustee Nicole Debonet told the hall that the Trustees pursued the CPA project after years of capital funding requests being deferred. She pointed out that postponing the Article for funding until FY21 would mean the building continuing to “rot” for another 1 1/2 to 2 years before work could begin. Former Library Trustee Betsy Rosenbloom confirmed that the Town had been deferring necessary work for ten years.

About 40 minutes into debates, Moderator Paul Cimino informed the Hall that a future CPA Article without the PR wasn’t a viable choice. When researching the ability of officials to amend the Article, he learned from the state Dept of Revenue that the PR is a requirement for using the CPA funds. Advisory’s John Rooney asked for confirmation. Town Counsel stated that he had looked at the law and supported the DOR’s assessment. The CPA funds are meant to be used for preservation. 

In the end, selectmen voted along with well over 2/3 of the hall to support the Article. (Advisory was in the dissenting minority with a 4-2 split.)

The Library Article was the 2nd to last vote of the afternoon session. Prior to it, three other Articles/items prompted less lengthy debates.

Salary Administration Plan – Employee Stipend

As I previewed, some Town officials were at odds over a stipend related to an employee’s work overseeing the Green Commmunities grant. The stipend was $6K for the Facilities Director who had been promised money and had helped the Town receive over $300K for work to reduce the Town’s utility costs.

The stipend was supported by selectmen as a short term solution and by the majority of the Personnel Board. But Advisory voted against it and moved to remove the stipend. No one argued the employee wasn’t entitled to the money. Advisory’s issue was the mechanism used and the precedent it set. 

The debate tied up the meeting for more than 15 minutes before voters nixed the amendment and approved the SAP with the stipend.

Town Budgets – Economic Development Committee

A number of budgets were held by voters who asked a question about the reasons behind reductions or big increases in department or committee budgets from previous years. Questioners were apparently satisfied by answers provided, with none of those sparking debates.

The one budget that did spark debate (and take up more than 10 minutes) has an increase of less than $200 – the Economic Development Committee.

[click to keep reading…]


Post image for The week in government: BOS contract for new Fire Chief; Conservation Commission

Here is a selection of the committee and board meetings for the week along with my selected highlights from the agendas. All these meetings are open to the public, so you’re welcome to stop on by.

Be aware that changes to the meeting schedule are known to happen throughout the week. For an updated list of meetings, visit the town website.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

  • EDC Downtown Subcommittee, 8:00 am @ Hearing Room, Town House, 17 Common St (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Open government meeting
    Progress Objectives – working plan, update zoning, and update database

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

  • Board of Selectmen, 8:30 am @ Hearing Room, Town House, 17 Common St (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Approve contract with new Fire Chief
  • Cable Television Committee, 5:00 pm @ Southborough Access Media Studio, 49 Parkerville Rd (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Joint meeting with Southborough Access Media Board to prep for public hearing

Thursday, March 28, 2019

  • Southborough School Committee – Policy Development Subcommittee, 9:00 am @ Margaret A. Neary School, Office of the Superintendent, 53 Parkerville Rd (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Review and development of policies on Homework, Students Assigned to Buses, Bullying Prevention and Intervention, and Dangerous Articles and Weapons
  • Conservation Commission, 7:00 pm @ Hearing Room, Town House, 17 Common St (agenda) Agenda Highlights: Hearings on Bigleow Rd Wildlife Refuge (SOLF) Amphibian study, Fayville Hall stormwater and septic, 124 Deerfoot Rd house construction, 10 Turnpike Rd storage facility, Woodward driveway, and 26 Turnpike Rd replacing driveway


Post image for Events this week: Teach You Children, Graphic Novels Workshop for kids, long weekend, Music for tots, and Sewing Bee for charity

Above: This week’s event highlights start off with a parent talk and cap off with a free event to help sew fun pillowcases for sick children in hospitals

Here are highlights of what’s happening around town this week.

[Note: The highlights don’t include ongoing weekly programs. For those listings and more, check the Event Calendar.]

Monday, March 25, 2019

  • Fay Ideas&Insights: Teach Your Children Well (7:00 – 8:00 pm) @ Fay School: Part of Fay School’s Ideas&Insights Speaker Series, this parent talk is free to the public but registration is required. Dr. Madeline Levine, New York Times bestselling author of “Teach Your Children Well”, will speak on the subject. In this talk Dr. Levine tackles our current narrow definition of success—how it unnecessarily stresses academically talented kids and marginalizes many more whose talents and interests are less amenable to measurement. For details see dedicated post.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

  • Poetry Workshop (6:30 – 8:30 pm) @ Southborough Library, Main Level: At the semi-monthly sessions, Everyone is asked to bring in five copies of their original poetry for supportive feedback. If you don’t have a poem, come and share your insights. The group meets the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

  • Tales & Tails (6:15 – 7:15 pm) @ Southborough Library, main level: Children are welcome to come in and read to a dog. The kids must have some reading ability. Registration is required. Please contact the Children’s Room staff for more information. (This event runs monthly on Wednesday and Thursday of the 4th week of each month.)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

  • Graphic Novel Workshop for kids (4:00 – 6:00 pm) @ Southborough Library: Author/Illustrator Jonathan Todd will be holding a special workshop where children can learn how to create their own graphic novels! This program is for children ages 8-12 years. Space is limited and registration is required. For details see dedicated post.
  • Talent Show auditions (6:30 pm) @ Trottier Middle School auditorium: The Southborough Rotary Club is looking for talented performers Grades 4-Adults to participate in the annual Talent Show, to be held Friday, May 3rd. For details, see dedicated post.
  • Audiobook Club (Sci-Fi/Fantasy books) (7:00 – 8:00 pm) @ Southborough Library, main floor: A monthly club focusing on Science Fiction / Fantasy books. The club will be listening to and/or reading Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. The program is led by library associate Christopher McGinn.

Professional Development Day – Friday, March 29, 2019

  • No school for students grades 2-12 : Today is Professional Development Day for teachers in Southborough (and Northborough) public schools. Students in grades 2-12 have the day off.
  • Early Dismissal for Finn School (12:00 pm): To catch up with the rest of the district following the school’s closing for a day in February, Finn School students will attend school for half the day. For details, see dedicated post.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

  • David Garden (11:00 – 11:30 am) @ Southborough Library, Children’s Room: Dave Garden from Music Together will lead a fun time with music, singing, and dancing. This program is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. All are welcome. Registration is not required. This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Southborough Library.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

  • Sewing Bee for Ryan’s Case for Smiles (3:00 – 6:00 pm) @ Sew Studio Southborough, 155 Boston Rd: Free Charity Event. Please register for planning purposes. Join us and sew a pillowcase for Ryan’s Case for Smiles! Stay tuned for more details or visit Sew Studio’s website.


Post image for This week in sports: ARHS teams ramping up for spring season

Above: On late Friday afternoon, Track and Field was “still working hard” to make sure they’re in shape the start of the season this week. (images cropped from tweets by @KenMorin2)

Algonquin spring sports kicked off practices last week. Most league competitions don’t get started until April. But Track and Field already has meets lined up for this Thursday. And several scrimmages are lined up for other sports.

As for media coverage of Gonk athletics, this weekend’s big story was a look at three of the school’s sports journalists. Southborough Wicked Local wrote:

There are three hype men behind the athletic scene at Algonquin Regional High School.

And the trio of Tomahawks takes pride in being unscripted.

Algonquin seniors Nick Hatton, Josh Harmon and Jon Symons are the faces and voices of Unscripted: “a weekly sports show with the most hot takes you’ve ever seen.” At least that’s what it says in their Twitter bio. . .

“It’s a news outlet-esque for Algonquin,” Hatton said. “We try to get as many of the Algonquin sports (covered). We like to offer our input on Boston sports and things going on in the community as a whole that we think people should be aware of and it’s kind of a source of entertainment.”

Click here for that story along with video of the trio at the taping of a MWDN sportcaster’s podcast.

The Telegram’s focus was on its past coverage. The paper shared some of its favorite action shots from the winter season. They include athletes from Algonquin’s gymnastics, hockey, skiing, and (especially) basketball. Click here for that.

Now, here are the ARHS varsity games on tap for the week.  [click to keep reading…]


Looking for a lost ring? Contact the DPW

by beth on March 25, 2019

Post image for Looking for a lost ring? Contact the DPW

Did you accidentally “recycle” more than you intended? If you lost a ring while running errands late last week, you may be in luck.

A ring was discovered in the recycling area of the Transfer Station on Friday. Public Works reached out to me to try to help find the rightful owner.

The ring is described as a woman’s platinum band with five squares with an x in each. There is an inscription inside. (Obviously, they aren’t sharing what that says publicly.)

To claim the ring, please contact Jean Johnson at the DPW. You can reach her at 508-485-1210.

Updated (3/25/19 2:56 pm): A commenter shared that he found another item – a missing lens hood. You can check that out and add your own lost and found items in the comments.

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Graphic Novel Workshop for 8-12 year olds – Thursday afternoon

March 25, 2019 10:20:03 AM
Thumbnail image for Graphic Novel Workshop for 8-12 year olds – Thursday afternoon

This week, the Southborough Library will host a workshop for kids interested in writing and drawing graphic novels.

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Town Meeting: Final votes; stay tuned for details

March 25, 2019 09:31:22 AM

Here is the quick recap of the final votes on the Articles discussed Saturday night. Stay tuned for a more detailed recap of Annual Town Meeting.

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2019 Marathon: Sgt. McCarthy for law enforcement suicide prevention

March 25, 2019 08:09:41 AM
Thumbnail image for 2019 Marathon: Sgt. McCarthy for law enforcement suicide prevention

Between now and Patriots Day, I’m featuring stories of runners donning bibs for a cause.

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Town Meeting: Articles 1-23 pass; Meeting resumes at 7pm for 12 remaining Articles

March 23, 2019 06:23:54 PM

An update following the first session of the 2019 Annual Town Meeting.

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Town Meeting: Consent Agenda and Live Tweeting

March 23, 2019 01:07:17 PM

If you were thinking that an Article you care about is too far down the Warrant to bother coming for the afternoon session, you might want to think again.

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Town Meeting 2019: Updated overview of Warrant, context, and links (plus the Annual Report)

March 22, 2019 02:04:04 PM
Thumbnail image for Town Meeting 2019: Updated overview of Warrant, context, and links (plus the Annual Report)

To prepare for Town Meeting some voters will want to dive into the official Budget Book and Annual Report. Others will just want the basic overview. I’m sharing info and links for both kinds of voters.

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Unplugged Community Read – Parents invited to read and talk about screen time challenges

March 22, 2019 01:00:04 PM
Thumbnail image for Unplugged Community Read – Parents invited to read and talk about screen time challenges

Southborough parents are invited to check out a book and save the date, then “unplug. read. discuss.”

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Friends of Library – Stuff-a-Bag Sale (with Free bags for new/renewing members)

March 22, 2019 11:23:18 AM
Thumbnail image for Friends of Library – Stuff-a-Bag Sale (with Free bags for new/renewing members)

The Friends of the Southborough Library are holding a special sale. It will run during the Children’s Room Grand Re-Opening celebration hours this Saturday morning.

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