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WSAR Headlines

So Long Will; Farewell Jenny


ESPN.com is reporting that the Red Sox are working on a deal involving 3B Will Middlebrooks that would send Middlebrooks to San Diego in exchange for San Diego Catcher Ryan Hanigan. 

 

Middlebrooks spent a portion of 2014 in Boston, hitting .191 and 2 Home Runs in 63 games.

 

He becomes expendable with the acquisition of Pablo Sandavol to play third.

 

Hanigan is 34; he would be the backup catcher for 2014.

 

Middlebrooks is engaged to former NESN Red Sox and now CBS NFL Football Sideline Reporter Jenny Dell; the two announced their relationship in a Twitter pic last year. 

Taunton Suspect at Large


Police in Rehobeth continue to search for a Taunton man, after the contents of an abandoned suitcase, which turned out to be loaded with narcotics, were discovered after a Wednesday Night Traffic Accident produced a single suspect who is still at large. 

 

Officers found two men arguing after a minor traffic accident just before 7pm Wednesday Night on County Street in Rehobeth; one of the men involved removed a suitcase from his vehicle and fled into a wooded area, where the suitcase was left behind, with the male suspect, identified as 20 year old Gilberto Oliveria Mendes.

 

A 24 year old Wareham woman, Latasha Santos, was arrested after it was determined she was trying to help the male suspect escape. 

 

Investigators indicate that inside the suitcase were two replica pellet guns, along with 3 pounds of Marijuana, 500 Grams of Cocaine, 300 Oxycontin pills and 2 Kilos of Heroin, with a street value estimated at $250,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Exit Five Closing Happens Sunday


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) will close Exit 5 off I-195 eastbound in Fall River beginning Sunday evening, December 21. The exit will be closed through 2015. The closure is required for Stage 1B construction of the Route 79/Braga Bridge Improvements Project. An additional lane on I-195 eastbound on the Braga Bridge will be closed from 10:00 PM on Sunday to 6:00 AM on Monday, December 22. One eastbound travel lane will be maintained over the bridge. The lane closure is necessary for the contractor to implement the Exit 5 closure.

 

The following detours for the Exit 5 closure will be in place for I-195 eastbound traffic through 2015:

 

  • To Route 79 northbound – Take Exit 6, turn right onto Hartwell Street, turn right onto 4th Street which becomes Troy Street, turn left onto Bedford Street which becomes Central Street, turn right onto North Davol Street and continue straight to Route 79 north.
  • To Route 138 southbound – Take Exit 6, turn right onto Hartwell Street, turn right onto 4th Street which becomes Troy Street, turn left onto Bedford Street which becomes Central Street and then Water Street, continue straight onto Ponta Delgada Boulevard, cross Columbia Street onto Eagle Street, turn right onto Hope Street and turn left onto Broadway (Route 138 southbound

MA Jobs November


The Massachusetts Office of Labor and Workforce Development is reporting that preliminary numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show the Commonwealth added 13,500 jobs in November. 

 

The November Unemployment rate for the Commonwealth is at 5.8%, down .02; the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised its October job estimates to a gain of 1600 jobs from the 1200 previously reported. 

 

Education and Health Services added 3900 jobs over the last month, while construction trades lost an estimated 400. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Carat Heads to Maryland


The President of the Five Campus UMass System is leaving to become the Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. 

 

In a statement released last night, the chair of the UMass Board of Trustees, Henry Thomas III, says the UMass System 

realized it was a possibility that Dr. Robert Caret would return to Maryland, as he began his career in Higher Education Administration. 

 

In the statement released Wednesday Night, Thomas says a special meeting of the UMass Board of Trustees will be set in the near term to develop plans to choose a successor to Caret. 

 

Thomas praised Caret as a ''wise and tenacious leaders'', but that UMass Trustees are ''very confident about the road that lies ahead''.

 

Caret was instrumental in securing additional funding from Beacon Hill, which equated to a 50/50 split between the Commonwealth and families of those paying for higher education at the five campus UMass System. 

 

 

 

 

            

The Amazon Hiccup


The Executive Vice President of the Fall River Office of Economic Development has issued a statement to area media this morning regarding the ongoing effort to bring an Amazon Distribution Center to the Fall River Bio Technology and Life Sciences Park. 

 

Ken Fiola tells WSAR that ''as a result of the need for additional time for due diligence, Amazon and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have decided to postpone its request for investment tax credits from the Massachusetts Assistance Coordinating Council''.

 

Fiola also indicates that ''at this time, I am unable to provide additional information beyond confirming that the city of Fall River, the Fall River Redevelopment Authority, the town of Freetown and Amazon have executed their respective Tax Increment Finance Agreements.

 

Sources have indicated to WSAR that current state financial conditions may make it difficult to put together an acceptable TIF package.

 

 

 

 

 

Sam Sutter Wins; Flanagan Recalled


For the first time in the history of Fall River, a Sitting Mayor has been removed from office, as a recall effort was successful tonight by a wide margin, as current Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter, who hired Flanagan as a Prosecuting Attorney, will succeed him as Mayor. 

 

The Recall of William A. Flanagan as Mayor was approved by nearly 70 percent of the voters, by a margin of 10,631, to No, 4,669. 

 

Sutter won what amounts a one year term by a margin of 6,021, with Flanagan second, at 

4,393, or 26 percent. 

 

Shawn Cadime was third, with 3,068, while current Fall River City Council member Mike Miozza was fourth, with a vote total of 2,298. 

 

Flanagan told a gathering at the Academia Club that tonight was ''not a night for crying, but a night for celebration'' of three terms of accomplishments that will end later this month once the results are certified. 

 

In three previous races, Flanagan had only lost one polling place, to current City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros, when he was re elected. 

 

The First Results--The Recall Election


The first results are in from Government Center for 7B in Fall River 

 

With 384 voters casting ballots

 

On The Recall Question:

 

Yes 238 

No  112 

 

Bristol County D-A Sam Sutter wins the precinct with 126 votes, current Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan has 108, and current Seekonk City Administrator and former Fall River City Administrator Shawn Cadime with 65 votes. 

 

WSAR has been told throughout the day that various North Side polling places were especially busy, while South Side Polling Places were at what can best be termed as historic norms as far as turnout was concerned. 

The Recall Election--Outside Government Center


Ric Oliveria is reporting tonight from Government Center that a gathering of nearly 200 people is outside, holding candidate signs, while members of the Recall Movement that were able to secure the signatures to hold tonight's election are also present waiting for results. 

 

At least five of the contenders are nearby, as Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, former Fall River City Administrator Shawn Cadime, City Council Member Mike Miozza, and former Council Member Dave Dennis are within a short drive or walk from Government Center.  

New Bedford Safety Zones


New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has signed a council proposal to establish ''Senior Citizen Safety Zones'', following a similar ordinance in Quincy. 
 
Speed limit reductions could potentially implemented in areas adjacent to senior housing, nursing homes and community centers. 
 
A Home Rule Petition will be taken up at some point in 2015 by the Massachusetts House and Senate for its consideration as part of the process. 
 
Council Members are hoping that signage and crosswalks could be added in some portions of New Bedford; if the Great and General Court agrees, new speed limits could be enacted in Safety Zones. 
 
 
 

No Snow...Yet


The Director of the Fall River Department of Community Maintenance tells WSAR that a decision this week to close the Braga Bridge during the overnight hours was unusual, after drizzle that started late Monday Night led to an ice coated surface on various roadways. 

 

Ken Pacheco tells WSAR that so far, a small amount of road salt has been used to treat some icy surfaces, but that plenty of winter remains to be dealt with. 

 

So far, the only snow Fall River has seen has come in small amounts, beginning in November.

 

Pacheco tells WSAR that flooding issues can be solved in neighborhoods in Fall River if dollars can found to fix infrastructure issues. 

 

 

More Parks $ for Fall River


The Sixth Floor in Fall River will officially announce Wednesday Morning that the city is a recipient of over $6.8 million in funding from the Commonwealth's Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs through the Gateway Parks Programs from improvements at Father Travassos Park and the Construction of Phase 2 of the Quequechan River Rail Trail. 

 

Tourism proponents are hopeful that outdoor recreational and scenic opportunities will bring people to Fall River later in the decade once trails are completed. 

 

 

 

 

FRFD Numbers


As the FRFD battled fires on back to back days this week in Fall River, the President of the IAFF Local 1314 tells WSAR that discussions continue with the Sixth Floor on getting to a contingent acceptable as far as the number of firefighters on the force. 
 
Jason Burns tells WSAR that the FRFD is doing the best it can with the manpower it has, while it also needs new engines and other gear, as some of the most recent equipment purchases were of used engines that have reached the end of their shelf life. 
 
Burns tells WSAR he's working with City Council Members in Fall River to convince them to bond out for new gear
 
The FRPD has also asked for new cruisers and new officers, neither of which it got in the FY 2015 budget. 
 
 
 
                   
 
                       
 
                           
 
 
 
 

MA Gas Prices This Week


According to the lastest survey of gasoline prices in the Commonwealth by Triple A of Southern New England, gasoline prices are down by some seven cents in the last week, while going down each week over the last 13 weeks. 
 
Triple As Survey finds the average for a gallon of regular self serve unleaded at $2.78 a gallon.
 
Prices locally have dropped 18 cents over the last month, and some 63 cents over the last 12 months.
 
Triple A is indicating the price differential starts at a low of $2.63 to a high of $3.09. 
 
 
 
 

The Lester Decision


ESPN.com is reporting that Jon Lester could make up his mind tonight, and announce where he will sign as an MLB Free Agent tomorrow. 

Lester is being pursued by the Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers and Cubs; Red Sox Principal Owner John Henry visited with Lester in Atlanta last week, after the Red Sox offered Lester 4 years and $70 million in Spring Training; Lester was traded at the deadline to Oakland and started for the Athletics in the American League Wild Card Game in October. 

Lester wants at least 6 years and could get upwards of $130 million. 

 

FRPD Taping Suit


A Fall River man who was arrested earlier this year for videotaping a FRPD Officer who was in the midst of a personal call on his cell phone has now filed a federal lawsuit against the officer who arrested him. 

George Thompson is seeking monetary damages for what he alleges are violations of his civil rights. 

The charges against Thompson were dropped earlier this Spring; the video contents of the smartphone he was using were erased while the phone was being held as evidence. 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall River School Committee for Monday


The Fall River School Committee will meet for the final time in 2014 Monday Night at Morton Middle School starting at 6pm. 

 

The seven member panel will consider seven agenda items, including a restructuring of Durfee Grade level offices to support what are termed the identified needs of students. 

 

Another discussion item will center around the Creation of a Durfee Academy that is intended ''to support the academic, social, and emotional needs of identified students. 

 

The Henry Lord Community School may also be looking for new staff members, including a Student Support Coordinator, a Dean of Students, and a para professional for in school suspension. 

 

 

City Council Tuesday in Fall River


The Fall River City Council will be asked to consider a pair of loan orders on Tuesday in a Finance Committee Session starting at 5:30 pm. 

 

The Sixth Floor is asking for a $400,000 loan order to repair four parks in Fall River; the additional dollars would complement a six figure PARCS Grant administered by the Commonwealth and awarded to the city earlier this winter. 

 

A second loan order, worth $3,000,000, would be used to upgrade City Street Lights to use energy efficient bulbs. 

 

City Administrators will also be asked to answer questions regarding a recent agreement to cap and monitor the now closed city landfill. 

 

 

Personal Income Tax Rate Dropping in MA


 

Massachusetts taxpayers will start paying a lower state income tax rate beginning in January.

 

Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter confirmed Wednesday that all the requirements needed to automatically lower the personal income tax rate from 5.2 percent to 5.15 percent beginning on Jan. 1 have been met.

 

Revenue collections for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, will drop by about $70 million as a result, contributing to an estimated $329 million budget gap.

 

Somerset Tax Factor


The community of Somerset set its Tax Factor for 2015 last night, as the three selectmen choose a 5% residential property tax increase, averaging an additional $188 per homeowner, while choosing to hike commercial property taxes, at a rate approaching 0%, worth about $10. 

 

Selectmen tell WSAR there has been no decision made on perhaps holding another town meeting to deal with three articles from the K-8 School Department, which impact Whitson's Food Service and a Collaborative dealing with Special Ed Students. 

 

The 3 articles failed to garner the 9/10ths plurality needed to pass at a Special Town Meeting Monday Night in the Fine Arts Center at the Somerset Berkley Regional High School. 

 

 

The Hoodie in the Box?


The ''Boston Globe'', along with other media outlets, are reporting that Patriots Majority Owner Robert Kraft and current head coach Bill Belichick are on a list of more than 300 potential witnesses in the upcoming murder trial of former Patriot Aaron Hernandez that is set to happen in the Fall River Justice Center, with the start of jury selection set for January 9.
 
Judge E-Susan Garsh is asking each side to pare down their lists of witnesses, and to not prolong a trial that could take six to eight weeks to complete. 
 
Court documents released this week contain information that the contents of 34 text messages between Belichick and Hernandez are now in the hands of the prosecution and the defense. 
 
 
 

Fall River Dogs Attack


The FRPD is set to issue a summons to appear to a 43 year old woman for failure to license and vaccinate her Pit Bull Dogs, after they wandered away from her residence and attacked three people Monday Afternoon. 
 
The FRPD is reporting that a 70 year old woman was treated for forearm wounds at Saint Anne's after the dogs were able to wrest her purse from her on Howe Street, while a 54 year old man was sent to Rhode Island Hospital after he was bitten by the dogs several times; a 39 year old woman with him at the time of the attack was treated at the scene. 
 
The dog's owner helped round up her animals, who are now in a 10 day quarantine. 
 
 
 
 
 

Patrick's Bell Lap


Soon to be outgoing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick tells NBC on Sunday's edition of ''Meet The Press'' that he will likely not take part in the sweepstakes for the 2016 Democratic Presidential Nomination, and that he shares little if any of the blame for the election day loss by outgoing Attorney General Martha Coakley to keep the Governor's office in Democratic hands. 

 

Patrick also told NBC's Chuck Todd that he wanted to see a trial for a former Ferguson police officer in the case of the shooting death of an African American man earlier this summer, saying it would have added transparency to the issues involved. 

Gasoline Prices This Week


Triple A of Southern New England indicates that the price of a gallon of Regular Self Serve Unleaded Gasoline is down an additional 2 cents this week. 

 

According to Triple A's most recent survey, the price of gasoline has declined by at least 60 cents over a 13 week time span. 

 

Triple A of Southern New England says the price of a gallon on regular is at $2.85, with a national average of $2.77. 

 

The range in prices is at 68 cents from a low of $2.71 to a high of $3.39. 

 

 

 

The Thanksgiving Travel Season


MassDOT is urging anyone with Thanksgiving Travel Plans to get as early a start as possible to wherever it is that you may be going, as heavy traffic congestion is expected on I 495 at Exit 11-A and Exit 14 for I-95 and Route 128, and Exit 24 for I-93 North and South. 
 
A moratorium on highway construction projects is underway as of Tuesday, as MassDOT projects on major highways are in stand down mode until Monday December 1.
 
At Logan Airport, you're being asked to arrive a minimum of 2 and a half hours before your domestic flight leaves, while three hours is recommended for any international departures. 
 
If you're flying along the Eastern Seaboard, its vital you check with your airline for updated information. 
 
 
 
 

Providence Boston Protests


ABC 5 in Boston is reporting that around 1400 protestors tried to shut down portions of I-93 last night were were turned back by Boston Police, in a protest that followed the Grand Jury Decision in a police shooting in Suburban St. Louis. 
 
In Providence, CBS 12 is reporting that five arrests were made after around 150 protestors marched to I-95 and tired to shut it down; Rhode Island State Police were deployed to clear the roadway. 
 
Various St Louis Outlets, including KMOV CBS 4, reported that a portion of I-44 near the Edward Jones Dome was blocked by protestors for a portion of Tuesday Afternoon.
 
The marches in Boston were described as relatively peaceful. 
 
 
 

The South Coast Rail Bridges


The Patrick Administration and acting MassDOT Secretary Frank De Paola are announcing the firm that has been awarded a contract for the replacement of four bridges in New Bedford and Fall River as part of the effort to bring South Coast Rail to fruition. 
 
The price tag for replacing three Fall River Bridges--The President Avenue, Brownwell Avenue and Golf Club Road Bridges--and the Wamsutta Bridge in New Bedford is $42 million. 
 
The Cardi Corporation is being awarded the contract for Bridge Replacement work. 
 
The MassDOT Board of Directors moved the project from the planning to construction phase in the Summer of 2014, with a ten year planning contract worth $210 million. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
            

Fall River Voter Registration for 12-16


As the Fall River Recall Election looms in a matter of weeks, the final day to register to vote in the December 16 event is this coming Wednesday, when the Board of Election Offices will be open till 8pm on the Sixth Floor of Government Center on the night before Thanksgiving. 
 
Mail in Registration Forms and Absentee Ballots are also in the Board of Election offices in Fall River's Government Center. 
 
 

MA Gas Prices This Week


Triple A of Southern New England finds Gasoline Prices this week are down by an average of six cents. 
 
Triple A finds the average for a gallon of regular self serve unleaded gasoline sits at $2.87; prices locally are down 22 cents over the past month, with the national average at $2.81.
 
Mary McGwire is the Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for Triple A of Southern Massachusetts; she tells WSAR that gasoline prices have dropped by almost 90 cents since May. 
 
The range in prices across the Commonwealth is 68 cents, from a low of $2.71 to a high of $3.39.
 
WSAR has noted prices of anywhere from $2.67 to $3.05 in New Bedford, Somerset and Fall River. 
 
 
 
 
 

The FRPD FRFD Grants


Bristol Plymouth First District State Senator Mike Rodrigues tells WSAR that grants for the City of Fall River's Fire and Police Departments have survived, and while smaller than first proposed, will provide close to $1 million in assistance. 

 

Rodrigues tells WSAR that the FRFD will receive about $484,000, while the FRPD will receive a little over $464,000. 

 

Rodrigues tells WSAR that the grants were reduced by around $30,000; there is no timetable on when the grants will be in the hands of Government Center Administrators.

 

The grant for the Fire Department will likely go to cover an ongoing overtime line item shortfall. 

 

 

The Region C Dates


The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has announced a two part application process toward the awarding of the Region C Destination Resort Casino License, which is set to happen in the Fall of 2015. 
 
The Commission has set the first phase of the application process to end on January 30 2015, with a second application process concluding on May 26 2015. 
 
Applicants are required to meet with the Gaming Commission's Investigations and Enforcement Bureau as one of the first steps in the process. 
 
The Commission indicates that only KG Urban has paid a $400,000 application fee, while its background investigation is ongoing. 
 
K-G Urban has selected a site on the New Bedford Waterfront for a commercial license holder.
 
The Commission has also modified the 500 million dollar investment requirement for Region C in Southeastern Massachusetts. 
 
 
 
 

Fall River DPH Grant


The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has included Fall River, New Bedford and Taunton in a list of 23 cities and towns that seek to help first responders save lives by providing for training and supplies of Naloxone. 
 
The total amount to be shared by the cities and towns on the list of 23 is listed as $600.000.
 
The Commonwealth's DPH is reporting that nearly 700 overdoses have been reversed in the Spring and Summer of 2014 by using doses of nasal naloxone.
 
A Virginia-based pharmaceutical firm has provided some 4,000 auto injections of naloxone to first responders throughout the Commonwealth free of charge.  
 
 
 
 

More 79 Work This Weekend


The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is set to close North and South Davol Streets in Fall River, between the U-Turn and Central Street tomorrow for work related to the Route 79 and Braga Bridge Improvement Project. 

 

The closures happen between 6am and 5pm, as the contractors involved are preparing for traffic changes for what are termed Stage One B Detours. 

 

MassDOT says once Saturday's project is finished, the traffic that is currently using North Davol Street to travel North and Southbound will be shifted to South Davol Street, which will be open to 2 way traffic between Central Street and the U Turn. 

 

A pair of detours will be set up tomorrow to redirect North and Southbound traffic tomorrow. 

 

 

 

 

Swansea Mall Auction Ends


An unidentified bidder has submitted a winning bid of $6,650,000 for the Swansea Mall, in a two day on line auction at auction.com

 

The bidding was extended by well over 10 minutes; an auction.com spokesperson tells WSAR that happened when a flurry of activity happened in the final two minutes leading up to a 2:30pm EST deadline. 

 

The online auction began on Wednesday with a required opening bid of $1.9 million. 

 

The nearly 30 year old mall has a 75% occupancy rate, and sits on nearly 100 acres. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patriots Sign a Running Back


ESPN is reporting that running back LaGarrette Blount is returning to the Patriots on a 2 year deal. 

 

Blount ran for 772 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Patriots in 2013. 

 

Blount was cut in Pittsburgh over the weekend after he left the field before the end of the game after getting no carries. 

Getting to the Cape


MassDot is set to open all travel lanes on the Cape Cod Canal's Sagamore and Bourne bridges in Bourne, MA, through the Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend, starting on Wednesday through Sunday, according to the Army Crops of Engineers in the New England District. 
 
Travel Lane Restrictions, with one lane in each direction--one lane going on to the Cape and the one lane leaving the Cape--will resume on the Sagamore Bridge on Monday, December 1, as contractors finish the $12.3 million bridge painting project. 
 
 
 
 
 

Freetown AOK with Amazon


A brief one article town meeting in Freetown last night completed another step in bringing forth a one million square foot Amazon Distribution Center to the Fall River Bio Technology and Life Sciences Park on Route 24 and Innovation Way, as more than 200 people unanimously agreed on a Tax Incentive Financing agreement that is essentially the same as one agreed to in Fall River earlier this month. 

 

FRED Executive Vice President Ken Viola tells SAR that the next step happens on December 17 in Boston, when economic administrators review the Fall River and Freetown TI agreements, while the Commonwealth looks to add its own sweeteners to the deal for the Seattle based internet retailer. 

 

If all the documents are approved, ground could be broken during the First Quarter of 2015. 

 

 

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