A look back: Southborough’s top stories of 2010

Above: Southborough’s new ladder truck went into service this year

Southborough may be a small town, but it’s anything but sleepy. This past year we saw a number of big stories in town — some good, some not so good. Here’s a look back at the stories that had us talking in 2010.

1. Southborough Eight investigation
Call it Unogate, Pizzagate, or (my personal favorite) Deep Dish, the investigation of eight town employees for comments made at a gathering at Pizzeria Uno one evening was without doubt the most talked-about story of the year. It was also one of the most divisive. In the end, the employees under investigation were cleared of any wrongdoing.

2. Town elections usher in change
Voters indicated they were ready for a change by electing political newcomer John Rooney to the Board of Selectmen this spring. Rooney beat out incumbent Sal Giorlandino in what was at times a contentious campaign. New members were also elected to the Planning Board and Board of Health.

3. The boys of summer take home the title
The Southborough Little League team won the state championship and the hearts of Southborough residents this summer with their stunning season. They were eliminated in the New England Regional tournament in Connecticut, but returned home to Southborough with a police escort and hero’s welcome.

4. Comments spark legal threats
The blog itself made news in 2010 after then-Selectman Giorlandino took exception to remarks made by an anonymous commenter. Giorlandino said he was considering legal action in what was characterized by many as a free-speech issue. The story garnered attention from the Boston Globe, local talk radio, and industry publications. For me it was an uncomfortable 15 minutes of fame.

5. Deep cuts in the school budget
It was a tough budget year all around, and our schools felt the pinch. Last-minute federal stimulus funds helped, but the final school budget still eliminated more than nine teacher and staff positions. The budget crunch led to much discussion about creative ways to lower expenses, including a proposal to close one of our four schools. It’s a plan that remains on the table, although it doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.

6. To mow or not to mow
If you had told me a story about a lawn would be one of the top stories of the year, I would have said you were crazy. But readers were riled up about St. Mark’s decision not to mow their field at the corner of Main Street and Route 85. Some of you loved what came to be called a sustainable meadow, but most of you hated it. Who wants to bet it will be a top story again in 2011?

7. Just how rainy is it?
At town meeting this year, one of the biggest questions was whether or not to tap into the town’s rainy day fund to bankroll our operational budget. It was a polarizing question, and in the end voters decided to spend down the fund by $506K — reducing it by more than half — to cover expenses and fund school technology.

8. Really, really rainy
March brought us record rains, which meant flooded basements and flooded yards for many of us. Some said it was the worst flooding in memory.

9. Board of Health bans cigarette sales
“Can they do that?” was the most common question I got after the Board of Health banned the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in pharmacies in town. Yep, they can. While most agreed with the anti-smoking sentiment, it was not a popular decision with many you – or with selectmen. The ban goes into effect in February.

10. Home burglaries make residents nervous
A string of home break-in this fall had us all on edge.  It also had some neighborhoods banding together in the name of crime prevention. To the relief of many (myself included), a suspect in the break-ins was arrested by Medway police this week. Here’s hoping the break-ins are news we can leave behind in 2010.

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12 years ago

what about the officers resigning i think that was pretty

Frank Crowell
12 years ago

Random Thoughts on the Passing Year

No one really knows why two police officers resigned except the chief. I certainly hope it was not over educational benefits. If this is the reason and if I read the tea leaves correctly, this is just the start of public sector take aways. This by no means was a small benefit, but it is something the private sector has dealt with for years where there is no court of last resort.

If you really want to cut expenses in town, you have to focus on education and introduce some low cost competition. Since we seem to have too many schools and since it may cost us more in the long haul to close Neary rather than leave it open, why not allow a charter school to lease it. How many people would want one school for K-5 or K-8 or an alternative middle school? Of course this could be open to out of town kids as well.

Almost cannot wait for the next town meeting when we find out how long we will be paying for the most embarrassing BOS mistake in a long time: Uno Gate. I hope another good BOS candidate steps up.

Why roads are ripped up for utility work and not put back to reasonable quality level is beyond me. Another mystery is when a newly paved road is torn up for utility work with weeks of new pavement. Could this not be planned better? For good example of the above, drive down Parkerville Road south of route 9 and north of the Mass Pike.

I am tired of hearing what the law requires of educational non-profits with respect to PILOT (which is to say not much). The New England School for Autism is an institution that understands that services provided by the town are not cheap and is willing to step up with the proper PILOT amount. My hat is off to them. Harvard Primate Center is not so bad either. If there is way to surcharge other institutions for residential students, then let’s do it and start at $500 per child (OK $475 if they mow the grass). At least publish their PILOT contributions on the TM warrant articles (top four). Then more people will start asking more questions.

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