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    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • RHS senior receives $5,000 Hood® Milk Sportsmanship Scholarship

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • Mayor submits $227 million FY18 budget

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00
  • Playground Dangers

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  • Community ’N Unity Celebration

    Monday, May 15, 2017 00:00

News

Beacon Hill Roll Call

THE HOUSE AND SENATE: There were no roll calls in the House or Senate last week.

As the first order of business back in January, the Legislature approved an $18 million pay raise package including hiking the salaries of the two leaders who filed the bill, House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst), by $45,000 from $97,547 to $142,547. The measure also hikes the pay of the Legislature’s two Republican leaders, Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) and Rep. Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) by $37,500 from $85,047 to $122,547. Another provision hikes the salaries of the governor and the other six constitutional officers by raises ranging from $30,048 to $47,083; and hikes the pay of the state’s judges and court clerks by $25,000.

The only part of the package that applies to all 200 legislators increased the annual general expense allowance for each member from $7,200 to $15,000 for members whose districts are within a 50-mile radius of the Statehouse and to $20,000 for districts located outside of that radius. Prior to this increase, the most recent increase in the general expense allowance was a hike from $3,600 to $7,200 in 2000.

According to the state treasurer’s office, the mileage from a legislator’s home to the Statehouse is calculated “using the standard of quickest route (time to destination).”

The expense allowance is used at the discretion of individual legislators to support a variety of costs including the renting of a district office, contributions to local civic groups and the printing and mailing of newsletters. Legislators are issued a 1099 from the state and are required to report the allowance as income but are not required to submit an accounting of how they spend it.

Beacon Hill Roll Call has obtained the list of how much each senator and representative is receiving as an expense allowance under this new system.

When each legislator received a flat $7,200 under the old system, the total spent was $1,440,000. Under this new system, the total spent will be $3,174,052. That’s an increase of $1,734,052.

Nine legislators decided against taking the raise and are still collecting only the original $7,200. Another 136 asked for and are receiving the raise from $7,200 to $15,000 while 53 legislators are receiving $20,000 because they said they live more than 50 miles from the Statehouse. One legislator decided to take $9,252. Another decided not to take an expense allowance.

The package also put an end to legislators collecting per diems which are travel, meals and lodging reimbursements collected by the legislators.The amount of the per diem varies and was based on the city or town in which a legislator resides and its distance from the Statehouse. In 2016, 103 or more than one-half of the state’s 200 legislators were paid per diems totaling $278,601.

Under current federal law, the same 53 legislators who live more than 50 miles from the Statehouse are eligible for a special federal tax break that has been criticized for years. A 1981 federal law allows them to write off a daily expense allowance when filing their federal income tax return. The complicated system determines a daily amount, ostensibly for meals, lodging and other expenses incurred in the course of their jobs, which can be deducted for every “legislative day.”

Under the Massachusetts Legislature’s system and schedule, every day of the year qualifies as a legislative day. The Legislature does not formally “prorogue” (end an annual session) until the next annual session begins. This allows these legislators to take the deduction for all 365 days regardless of whether the Legislature is meeting or not. Legislators do not even have to travel to the Statehouse to qualify for the daily deduction.

The amount of the deduction is based on the federal per diem for Massachusetts. It varies from year to year. The daily per diem for legislators for 2016 varied in different parts of the state and is seasonal. It ranges from $162 per day to $366 per day or between $59,130 and $133,590 annually.

The 53 legislators who took the $20,000 state expense allowance are eligible for this federal deduction because they said they live more than 50 miles from the Statehouse. Each legislator who takes advantage of this deduction will have paid, and continue to pay, little or no federal income tax on their legislative salaries for many years.

HOW MUCH EACH LOCAL LEGISLATOR WILL RECEIVE IN EXPENSE ALLOWANCE

Here is the amount of an expense allowance each legislator will receive annually.

Rep. Stephan Hay       $15,000

Rep. Bradley Jones     $15,000

Rep. Theodore Speliotis           $15,000

Rep. Thomas Walsh    $15,000

Sen. Joan Lovely        $15,000

Sen. Thomas McGee   $15,000

HOW LONG WAS LAST WEEK’S SESSION? Beacon Hill Roll Call tracks the length of time that the House and Senate were in session each week. Many legislators say that legislative sessions are only one aspect of the Legislature’s job and that a lot of important work is done outside of the House and Senate chambers. They note that their jobs also involve committee work, research, constituent work and other matters that are important to their districts. Critics say that the Legislature does not meet regularly or long enough to debate and vote in public view on the thousands of pieces of legislation that have been filed. They note that the infrequency and brief length of sessions are misguided and lead to irresponsible late night sessions and a mad rush to act on dozens of bills in the days immediately preceding the end of an annual session.

During the week of April 10-14, the House met for a total of 22 minutes and the Senate met for a total of one hour and 22 minutes.

Mon. April 10

House11:03 a.m. to11:18 a.m.

Senate 11:15 a.m. to12:24 p.m.

Tues.April 11

No House session

No Senate session

Wed. April 12

No House session

No Senate session.

Thurs. April 13

House11:01 a.m. to11:08 a.m.

Senate 11:02 a.m. to11:15 a.m.

Fri. April 14

No House session

No Senate session

Bob Katzen
welcomes feedback at
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Annual report describes ‘shocking conditions’ of town facilities

The CFAC committee isn’t mincing words. In a report released earlier this month, the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee described the condition of the town’s capital facilities as “shocking”.

The report is the result of a year of the committee assessing the various town facilities, including public safety buildings, library, town hall, and senior center. The overwhelming consensus is that most of the facilities are outmoded, overcrowded, and inappropriate.

Photos taken during the assessment and provided in the report reveal crowded office space and overflowing file cabinets. Some pictures, such as of the police station, reveal the jail cell is located right next to the women’s toilet. In the fire department, work spaces are combined, such as the “kitchen, conference room, and lounge”. At the town hall, documents and files piled high completely obstruct the view from the administrative assistant’s desk.

As the report points out, most of the town’s facilities are decades old and have not been altered to accommodate for growth. The fire and police buildings have been around since 1964, for example. At the town hall, the current space required if taking growth into consideration is 17,000 square feet. The town hall is currently 10,200 square feet. At the library, the report calls for 26,000 square feet in space. It currently is 14,000 square feet.

The report recommends entirely new facilities in some circumstances, and relocating in others. For example, the committee recommends a new library so that the old one can be repurposed for other use, possibly to add office space for town hall use. It calls for a complete overhaul of the public safety buildings, such as police and fire, and proposes a recreational space be built to allow for leisure activities and to accommodate meetings, of which there is competition for in town.

The report charts a path for significant improvements in the town’s capital facilities over the next 10-20 years. In order of importance it asks for a new library, followed by public safety buildings, followed by repurposing and maintenance of existing buildings sometime near 2028. None of the items on the CFAC’s ‘wish list’ will be on the upcoming town meeting, as some have mistakenly believed.

The committee will be gauging the public’s feelings towards any changes during a series of forums that will be coming in the next months. If there is positive reception, the items will move forward to the next phase, which could include hiring a consulting and ultimately bringing them before a town meeting for a vote.

The first one will take place at the Merritt Center at 7pm on May 4th. The next one will be on June 8th at 7pm at the Merritt Center as well.

The full report is available on the town website for public viewing.

By Melanie Higgins


 

Centre Farm begins a new chapter with sale, construction

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Centre Farm will soon be moving into the 21st century. With construction beginning a few weeks ago, the Town of Lynnfield took some big steps to modernize the property, which dates back to 1785.

Owing to a seasonably warm day, Bob Conway and his crew of CM Conway Construction began installing a septic system to the historic house. The change is the first of a few to the centuries-old building, which still has toilets from the 18th century.

The day before (April 11), the Board of Selectmen made the sale of the property official with the stroke of a pen. The Miglieros, a family in town, will take over the property on June 14, 2017.

The sale comes after months of negotiating with the state over the terms of the historic preservation restriction, a set of rules for altering a property deemed “historic.” The Miglieros just recently submitted three additional changes, which are pending approval by the Historical Preservation Commission. Town Counsel Tom Mullen did not elaborate, but said that these changes would “not be visible from the street” and that the commission appeared “fairly fine” with the submission.

“The changes and renovations are going to make it spectacular again,” said the Board of Selectmen Chairman at the time, Phil Crawford. “I think everyone’s going to be very pleased with the final product.”

“I can’t think of a better scenario than what’s happened here,” he added.

By Melanie Higgins


   

Baseball Pioneers remain undefeated after four games

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The Lynnfield High School baseball team appears to be on a mission. They have played four games, and have won them all. Coach John Nelson couldn’t have asked for a better start.

The Pioneers have defeated Pentucket, 6-2 last Thursday, April 13, and then Masco two days later, 6-3 in their most recent conquests.

Fernando Gonzalez went the first six innings against the Sachems to record the victory. He issued just four hits and two runs, while fanning seven in a dominating performance.

Nick Aslanian followed him to the mound to preserve the victory, and pick up the much needed save.

Bryant Dana was the top gun offensively with three hits and two RBI. Mike Federico and Cooper Marengi each had two hits, while also being responsible for three more runs. Federico knocked in two, and Marengi drove home one to help secure the team’s third win of the season in as many games.

Kyle Hawes blasted a run producing triple to add more icing to the proverbial cake.

The win over Masco was significant, because it helped widened the gap between Nelson’s troops and their Cape Ann League rivals, who now have two losses in the early going.

The Lynnfield boys put their undefeated streak on the line Thursday, April 20, when they traveled to North Reading to take on another rival in the Hornets. They also took on Newburyport after press deadline, and will return home to face Rockport Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

The Pioneers will go up against host Hamilton-Wenham Tuesday, April 15, at 3:45 p.m., before Amesbury comes to town Thursday to square off against the locals at the same time.

By Joe Mitchell


 

Lynnfield’s Craig Stone to be inducted into Wrestling Hall of Fame on April 29

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It’s not about the “destination,” but this is one good stop for Craig Stone on his journey. On April 29 the legendary Lynnfield wrestling and tennis coach will be inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for his contributions to wrestling as a coach in Lynnfield for more than 40 years.

The coach stopped by the Board of Selectmen’s meeting on Monday, April 10 to receive a proclamation from the board and a citation from the state legislature, presented on behalf of State Senator Tom McGee and State Representative Brad Jones by McGee.

“It’s very rare that you have someone that’s a living legend in your town … Everyone has admired him for generations,” said the then Board of Selectmen Chairman Phil Crawford. Stone was in his first year of coaching at Lynnfield when Crawford was in high school.

Stone has earned over 1,000 wins between coaching wrestling and tennis in his 40+-year tenure in Lynnfield. He began his career coaching wrestling the first year the then club team moved up to varsity in 1975. In actuality, his career in Lynnfield started in 1973 at age 22, when he was employed as an elementary school teacher. In 1974, when he was hired as wrestling coach, he was the only applicant in the pool. In 1981 he was offered the job of girls’ tennis coach.

Stone was a graduate of Springfield College in Massachusetts in 1971, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. From there, he went on to earn an MS from the University of Oregon in 1972. He played both tennis and wrestling as an undergraduate, which would provide the foundation for coaching both the sports later on.

It wasn’t much longer until Stone would receive recognition for his talents. In 1986 he was named Cape Ann League Coach of the Year, which he would go on to win in ’87, ’92, ‘96, ’97, ’08 and ’14. In 1986 and 2014, the Boston Globe named him Coach of the Year, and he was inducted into the Massachusetts Wrestling Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1998, the same year he was named Coach of the Year by the association.

His numbers are equally impressive. To date, Stone has a 528-323 record in wrestling and, with a win that Monday night, 567-85 in tennis. On December 12, 2015, he earned his 500th win in wrestling. The year before, his tennis team went on to earn a perfect 21-0 season. And in 1998 and 1999, the team earned two back-to-back undefeated state championship seasons. He has also won 18 Cape Ann league titles, 12 MIAA North Sectional Championships and five state titles for tennis.

Senator McGee was also present at the meeting to offer Stone a letter and citation from the state legislature, congratulating his work for the town. “During his service to the town of Lynnfield he has been an exemplary educator and instructor and has won the admiration of his students and athletes, parents and peers, while instilling in his athletes the values of teamwork, dedication and persistence,” McGee read from the letter. “Those lucky enough to be coached by you should be justifiably proud of this accomplishment.” McGee also wished Stone “continued success” in the future.

Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay also spoke on the occasion. “As a colleague of Craig’s for the past 30 years it is no surprise […] that you are going to be inducted into the hall of fame.”

She attributed Stone’s success to the relationships he has built over the years, and noted the many conversations she has had with him about the importance of teaching “lifelong lessons” on the mat. “You’ve taught them grit, perseverance, the importance of winning and the importance of losing, and getting up one more time.” She said that these lessons are equally important beyond high school.

“It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey,” said Stone, finally. “I can’t tell you the relationships I’ve been fortunate enough to establish through education and coaching. I love the excitement on their faces when they come into the gym and their enthusiasm.”

He noted that the relationships he has built have often led to attending athletes’ weddings and college graduations, and in some cases, watching them go on to become coaches themselves – “I feel fortunate to have a small role in their lives.”

Stone will continue to coach but in a lesser role than he once had. He joked about being in semiretirement and how now he often has a new role of helping his wife with daycare. He also often substitute teaches along with coaching.

To obtain tickets for the induction ceremony for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, visit http://nwhof.org/massachusetts/. The ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. on April 29 at Gillette Stadium. Stone will receive a plaque highlighting his accomplishments, which will be hung at the Hall of Fame in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

By Melanie Higgins


   

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