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WSAR News Headlines


The Sutter Administration is seeking to clarify comments made earlier this week by Mayor Sam Sutter that meeting state mandated minimum net school spending requirements was not an urgent matter.  Not on his urgent list.

 

The remarks were a direct contradiction to what Sutter said during a mayoral debate last December.

 

 

Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco.

 

 

Pacheco saying what Sutter intended to say is that he is still studying the matter to understand what can and cannot be applied to the net school spending requirement.

 

 

The district must find 1.3 million dollars to close a shortfall for the current fiscal year in order to meet 100 percent of net school spending.

 

The School Committee is expected to ask the administration for a 103 million dollar contribution for fy-16 in order to meet state requirements while providing a level services budget.

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The Twin River Management Group will meet on Monday night with Tiverton Town Council about plans to locate a casino on some 45 acres of land, 400 feet from the Fall River border.

 

The meeting is being held at 7pm at the middle school. 

 

The public is invited to attend but will not be allowed to ask questions.

 

Twin River recently purchased Newport Grand and wants to move it to Tiverton in order to better compete with the casinos set to open in Massachusetts.

 

Meanwhile, Somerset Officials still waiting for a formal proposal from Crossroads Massachusetts as to its plans for a casino on town owned land off route 103.

 

Select Board Chairman Don Setters.

 

 

New Bedford and Brockton have scheduled referendum elections on casino proposals in their communities, Somerset has not.

 

The deadline for submitting phase one applications to the State Gaming Commission is Monday.

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The Sutter Administration says the public is beginning to understand the need for PAYT.

 

Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News the more information people get the more they understand it

 

 

The Ordinance Committee this week approved some specific language that could be inserted into existing law to make PAYT enforceable.

 

Committee Chair Jasiel Correia says he questions the success of the program to date.

 

 

Lou Pacheco.

 

 

Compliance with the program 80 to 85 percent.

 

Council expected to vote on the proposed changes during its May 12th meeting.

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There is deep and growing concern about the city's finances.

 

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros tells WSAR News the administration continues to prepare a budget for fy-16 that will require a shared sacrifice across the board.

 

 

 

City Council Vice President Ray Mitchell warning of possible receivership if the city does not get it's financial house in order.

 

 

Councilor Dan Rego tells WSAR News the crisis underscores the need for a state audit.

 

 

The administration has until June first to outline in a budget proposal to council as to how it plans to close the shortfall for the new fiscal year which begins on July first.

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The City Council Committee on Ordinances and Legislation Tuesday evening approving language changes to the existing solid waste laws to accommodate pay as you throw.

 

Corporation Counsel Gary Howayeck outlines the important changes.

 

 

The vote 3 to 2 with Casey, DaSilva and Mitchell voting in favor and Correia and Rego voting against.

 

Committee Chair Jasiel Correia.

 

 

Councilor Pat Casey says the 80-85 percent who are complying with pay as you throw are unfairly subsidizing those who are not.

 

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros.

 

 

Council will decide next month whether it will accept the language changes, solidifying the program into law.

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The Fall River Career Center is bringing together fifty-five employers to the government center atrium for a job fair next Wednesday, in an ongoing effort to match candidates with new jobs.

 

Joe Vienna, Executive Director of The Fall River Career Center's North Main Street location says the event puts contenders and employers together:

 

 

Vienna says employers have been screened in an effort to make sure they are interested in hiring.

 

 

Fall River’s unemployment rate has been in double digit territory for a number of years. 

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Mayor Sam Sutter says meeting 100 percent of net school spending requirements for the current fiscal year is quote - not an urgent matter...not on his - quote - urgent list.

 

Unless 1.3 million dollars is transferred to cover health insurance over estimates the district will be just shy of 99 percent of net school spending requirements.

 

Sutter, vowing to meet net school spending requirements during the campaign now tells WSAR News it may not be that simple.

 

 

The Chairman of the school committee's finance sub committee, Melissa Panchley, tells WSAR News she is disappointed.

 

 

 

Sutter saying with the city facing a minimum shortfall of six million dollars for fy-16 everything has to be on the table.

 

This could be the second consecutive year the district would miss meeting 100 percent of the net school spending requirement.

 

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The City Council's Ordinance Committee to revisit the PAYT debate Tuesday.

 

Council sent the matter back to committee after rejecting an administration proposal to solidify the program into law saying it was too vague and not specific to Fall River.

 

Committee Chair Jasiel Correia.

 

 

Administration Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News the proposed ordinance has been tweaked.

 

 

The meeting begins at 5:30 at Government Center.

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The Sutter Administration appears to have taken an about face on the idea of hiring a tourism director.

 

Several weeks ago Mayor Sam Sutter told WSAR News he would use community development funds to hire a director of tourism, but appears now to have had a change of heart.

 

 

Sutter saying there may be other options.

 

 

The plan to hire a tourism director had roundly supported by several key city councilors and the business community. 

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The Sutter Administration says it's not sure if it will be able to meet 100 percent of minimum net school spending requirements for the current fiscal year.

 

Unless 1.3 million dollars is diverted to cover health insurance over estimates the district could finish the fiscal year just shy of 99 percent of net school spending.

 

School Committee Finance Sub-Committee Chair Melissa Panchley tells WSAR News that would be disappointing.

 

 

Should the district miss 100 percent of net school spending requirements, it would be the second consecutive year that that would happen.

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Warning letters have now been sent to Fall River residents who have not complied with PAYT.

 

 

Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News a first offense will result in a 100 dollar fine, a second offense, two hundred dollars.

 

 

The City Council Committee On Ordinances And Legislation will revisit the PAYT Tuesday night.

 

Council recently rejected a request by the Sutter Administration to change language in the existing solid waste ordinance in order to cement PAYT into law, sending the matter back to committee.

 

Councilors suggested the proposal submitted to the panel was not specifically designed for Fall River and was vague.

 

The Administration says those concerns have been addressed in a new ordinance to be considered.

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The State Board of Education is launching a series of public forums this week about which of two statewide student assessment tests Massachusetts should adopt. 

 

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education wants to hear from members of the public about whether the state should stick with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, exam rather than adopt the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, test. 

 

The first public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon at Fitchburg State University. 

 

The board is expected to make a decision this fall as to whether PARCC should replace MCAS tests in English language arts and mathematics.

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The Mayor's Task Force on Solid Waste Issues met behind closed doors Thursday night but quickly adjourned after questions were raised by some members and the press as to whether the meeting was in violation of the state's open meeting laws.

 

Swansea Community Activist Patrick Higgins has filed an open meeting law complaint with the Attorney General.

 

Co-Chair Dan Botelho tells WSAR News it will be necessary for the panel to meet in private sometimes.

 

 

Botelho says the public will have their say.

 

 

Co-Chair City Councilor Mike Miozza tells WSAR News the process will be transparent.

 

 

Miozza says there are misconceptions about the role of this task force.

 

 

Meanwhile, Sutter Administration Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News the task force was appointed strictly for the purpose of advising the mayor and is not covered by the open meeting laws.

 

The task force is seeking a legal opinion and will not meet until the matter is resolved.

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The Sutter Administration lowers the boom on those who have refused to comply with pay-as-you-throw.

 

Sutter Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News inspectors will be dispatched city-wide to check for citizen compliance.

 

 

Pacheo says those who don't comply will first receive a warning and says a second offense will be met with a one hundred dollar fine.

 

 

A third offense will net a 200 dollar fine and potential housing court action.

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New Bedford City Council voting Thursday night to schedule a referendum election on a 650 million dollar waterfront casino proposal being floated by KG Urban Enterprises.

 

City Council President Brian Gomes tells WSAR News there is public support for a casino.

 

 

The special election scheduled for June 23rd.

 

Voters in Brockton consider a casino proposal for the Brockton fairgrounds on May 12th.

 

Still no referendum scheduled in Somerset where Crossroads Massachusetts wants to place a casino on town owned land at Brayton Point rRoad and route 103.

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The Sutter Administration will issue as many as 360 warning letters and some 2-thousand compliance demands next week for people still refusing to comply with pay-as-you-throw.

 

Questions still remain about whether the program is legal in its current form or whether City Council first needs to adopt an ordinance.

 

Veteran Councilor Leo Pelletier tells WSAR News residents should comply.

 

 

Pelletier believes that in its current form pay-as-you-throw is unenforceable and urges Council to adopt an ordinance solidifying the program into law.

 

Pelletier says non-compliance is costing the city much needed revenue.

 

 

The administration pegs compliance at about 80-85 percent, down from a high of 97 percent late last year.

 

Both sides of the debate expect the legality of the program to be challenged in court.

 

Meanwhile the mayor's task force on solid waste conducts its second meeting since being appointed at 5:30 at government center.

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New Bedford City Council is expected Thursday to authorize a special election for June 23rd for the sole purpose of gauging public support for a waterfront casino project being pitched by Kg Urban Enterprises.

 

Ward Three Councilor Henry Bousquet tells WSAR News the public seems to back the proposal.

 

 

Bousquet says a vote in the affirmative could convince the gaming commission to award the license to New Bedford.

 

 

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell has signed a host community agreement with Kg Urban.

 

The New Bedford project is one of three under consideration for the region "c" casino license.

 

Proposals in Somerset and Brockton are also pending.

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Somerset Selectman Scott Lebeau tells WSAR News officials expect to get additional details soon from Crossroads Massachusetts about a casino being proposed for town owned land on Brayton Point Avenue and route 103.

 

 

Crossroads has yet to disclose details of its proposal nor have they called for a referendum election as yet.

 

Brockton voters go to the polls on May 12th to weigh in on a proposal for the Brockton fair grounds.

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter’s Task Force on Solid Waste scheduled to conduct its second meeting.

 

 

Co-Chair, City Councilor Mike Miozza, tells WSAR News the panel may hit the road.

 

 

The Task Force plans to vet several proposals for solid waste disposal options, including pay-as-you-throw, before issuing a report in September.

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The Sutter Administration says it is wrestling with a shortfall for the current fiscal year as it prepares a budget for the new budget year that begins on July 1st.

 

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros briefing City Council Monday.

 

 

The failure by many to comply voluntarily with pay-as-you-throw will result in the program missing its benchmark of 2.7 million dollars in bag sales.

 

 

The administration will lower the benchmark for pay-as-you-throw when factoring the budget for fy-16.

 

Enforcement of the program is expected to begin this week.

 

Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News the administration is looking everywhere for possible savings.

 

 

The administration must present a balanced budget to the City Council by June 1st.

 

The new fiscal year begins on July 1st.

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The criminal investigation involving allegations that former mayor Will Flanagan used a gun to try and intimidate City Councilor Jasiel Correia apparently nearing an end.

 

The Herald News quotes Special Prosecutor William Connolly as saying he is, “wrapping up the probe.”

 

The incident, first reported by WSAR, allegedly occurred in Flanagan’s suv along the waterfront last August.

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The ''Providence Journal'' is reporting that Twin River Management Group wants to build a new casino in Tiverton and close the Newport Grand Slot Parlor, as a Massachusetts slot parlor will open this summer, while the MGM Springfield project is currently under construction.

 

Twin River has secured an option to purchase 45 acres of land near route 81, only a few hundred feet from the Rhode Island and Massachusetts state line.

 

The Chair of the Twin River Board of Directors indicates the firm wants to create Rhode Islands second full service casino, with slot and table games.

 

Twin River is waiting for a signature from Rhode Islands Governor to construct a four story, 200 room hotel near the property.

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With Brockton set for a local option vote on May 12th, New Bedford voters could be asked in late June if they wish to host a region c destination resort casino, as K-G Urban Enterprises is suggesting a waterfront casino location in the Whaling City.

 

New Bedford City Council President Brian Gomes.

 

 

Gomes says New Bedford has had this goal in mind for a long time.

 

 

Two other local referendums have passed in recent years regarding gaming expansion in New Bedford. 

 

Gomes says he believes the same can occur this summer:

 

 

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is waiting for additional application information from investors in Somerset, New Bedford, and Brockton.

 

A region C license could be awarded in the fourth quarter of 2015. 

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The Sutter Administration has appointed attorney Brad Kilby as the new Fall River Assessor, while attorney Bill Kenney will bee the new City Planner.

 

Kenney is leaving a post on the Commonwealths Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to take over the slot occupied by former planner Elizabeth Dennehy, while Kilby will occupy the post that attorney Don Berube held.

 

Dennehy and Berube resigned after Sutter was elected.

                           

Kilby will be closing down his private law practice to join the Sutter Administration after serving for eight years each on the Fall River City Council and the Fall River Public School Committee.

                           

 Sutter says that Kilby and Kenney will be making $22 thousand dollars less than their predecessors. 

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In the aftermath of the State of the City Address, Fall River Mayor and School Committee Chair Sam Sutter is indicating to WSAR News that no decisions have been made regarding the net school spending number the city is required to hit by Massachusetts general law for fiscal year 2016.

 

 

Sutter will begin a series of meetings with neighborhood associations and civic organizations this week.

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The Baker Administrations effort to reform the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority could pose another setback to the idea of SouthCoast rail.

                    

Bristol Fifth District State Representative Pat Haddad tells WSAR News its better to reform the agency now as opposed to allowing a mismanaged agency to try to secure all of the pieces involved.

 

 

Haddad says an effort to index the gas tax to the rate of inflation could have provided a steady stream of revenue for funding various transportation projects.

                        

 

Voters rejected that idea during the last election cycle. 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News the mechanism to begin the process of fining households considered noncompliant with the pay-as-you-throw initiative begins this spring along with a likely court challenge.

 

 

Sutter says preparations for the fining procedure will be laid out this week.

 

 

Sutter says he does watch the citizens input portion of City Council meetings and understands the anger of citizens.

            

 

Sutter says the city is prepared for a challenge.

 

 

The city’s contract with North Carolina based Waste Zero called for language to be added regarding pay as you throw and recycling in August of 2014.
 

That process is now in the hands of the Ordinance and Legislation Committee. 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter told a gathering in the Fall River City Council Chambers Thursday that he will begin a tour of neighborhood associations and other locations on Monday in hopes of to gathering new ideas.

 

Sutter’s comment come in the wake of the announcement of six million dollar deficit come fiscal year 2016.

              

Sutter explained the theme of shared sacrifice.

 

 

Sutter says the shared sacrifice will extend to citizens in Fall River.

 

 

Sutter says the state of the city is not an issue but says immediate finances are.

 

 

Sutter says its likely fees and taxes will be going up in fiscal year 2016.

 

 

City Council President Joe Camara says news of a six million dollar budget shortfall is something that demands immediate attention and says shared sacrifice is a concept that many Fall River families are familiar with.

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The “Sun Chronicle'' in Seekonk is reporting that City Administrator Shawn Cadime is set to remain in his current position, and will not take the offer of becoming the city administrator in Somerset.

 

Cadime has a new three year contract with the city of Seekonk, after administrators met Thursday night to approve the deal in executive session.

 

The ''Sun Chronicle'' reports that Cadime will make nearly the same amount of money that he would have in Somerset, coming close to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year. 

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The Rhode Island House and Senate have approved legislation allowing Twin River Casino in Lincoln to pursue a 200 room, four story hotel once been forbidden under current statue as a means of protecting hotels in Providence.

 

The community of Lincoln must now rezone property near Twin River to allow for the hotel to be constructed.

 

Rhode Island lawmakers decided to change the current statute, which had been on the books for a decade, as a slot parlor in Massachusetts is slated to open in June and MGM Springfield has their destination resort casino currently under construction.

 

The new hotel is expected to take a year to complete, create 200 construction jobs and 100 full time jobs once the hotel opens.

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As the Sutter Administration prepares its first municipal budget for fiscal year 2016, the process is further complicated by the fact that all nine municipal unions are negotiating labor contracts, including the Fall River Police Department and the International Association of Firefighters representing Fall River firefighters.

 

Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco.

 

 

The Fall River Public School Department is working on individual contracts with various administrators, while trying to deal with the Fall River Educators Association on a new labor agreement.

 

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A New Jersey based painting contractor working on the Braga Bridge in Fall River could be fined nearly 42-thousand dollars, after the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted a inspection in the fourth quarter of 2014, after being referred by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Standards Lead Program, finding six serious violations of workplace health and safety standards, which Allied Painting is contesting.

             

Employees of Allied Painting were found to have elevated blood levels that were performing what are described as abrasive blasting and painting on the bridge.

 

The work was performed on scaffolding located beneath the bridge.

 

OSHA says it found excess levels of lead on various surfaces where employees work, change and eat.

 

The surfaces included items in a decontamination trailer and a bench seat of a van where employees ate lunch.

 

OSHA says employees were also exposed to fall hazards of more than 100 feet because of ladder obstructions and issues with temporary railings. 

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission has confirmed that phase two application deadlines for investors in New Bedford, Somerset and Brockton will be no later than July 10th.

 

The July date was verified when Crossroads Massachusetts in Somerset and K-G Urban Enterprises in New Bedford asked the commission for filing extensions.

 

According to the New Bedford ''Standard Times'', the phase two application processes requires that a host community agreement be finalized and referendums held in New Bedford and Somerset.

 

The local option vote in Brockton happens on May 12th.

 

There has been no word on a host agreement in Somerset, while an agreement in New Bedford was executed on March 19th.

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Former Patriot Aaron Hernandez has been found guilty of first degree murder, along with weapons and ammo counts, in the June 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd in the North Attleboro industrial park.

 

The jury foreman was asked to deliver the verdict.

 

 

 

Jurors explained how they approached the case and arrived at their verdict.

 


 

Jurors indicated their focus on the case never wavered.

 

 

Hernandez will spend life in prison without parole at the Massachusetts Correctional Institute in Walpole.

 

He could appeal his conviction to the Supreme Judicial Court if he so chooses.

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Anticipation is growing for Mayor Sam Sutter's first State of The City Address.

 

The administration recently released a report on the city's finances which indicates new revenues are needed as well as budget cuts for the coming fiscal year.

 

Councilor Dan Rego tells WSAR News residents should expect to be asked to pay more.

 

 

Councilor Linda Periera.

 

 

 

Councilor Leo Pelletier.

 

 

Sutter delivers his address at 7 pm Thursday evening. 

 

WSAR will carry the speech live beginning with a pre-address show at 6.

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The Massachusetts Gaming Commission meets Thursday morning, with a region c update on the agenda.

 

Region c applications are due by May 4th as Brockton, New Bedford and Somerset are vying for the final license among the three to be potentially awarded.

 

MGM Springfield has broken ground on its project while Steve Wynn is encountering issues with Everett land purchases. 

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Fall River City Council President Joe Camara tells WSAR News he agrees with Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter in terms of an ultimate challenge to the pay-as-you throw initiative, which could decide once and for all whether or not the program, rolled out in the summer of 2014, is legal or not.

 

 

Camara says until the program is challenged, the ordinance and legislation committee should wait on the results then act accordingly.

 

 

Camara says the Sutter Administration will have to make the call as to whether or not pay-as-you throw is part of the fiscal year 2016 municipal budget. 

 

 

A solid waste task force is due to issue a report in September, while language regarding pay-as-you throw and recycling is back in council’s ordinance and legislation committee.

 

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As Massachusetts lawmakers on Beacon Hill continue debating the fiscal year 2016 budget, Bristol Fifth District State Representative Pat Haddad tells WSAR News the next fiscal year will be just as difficult as prior years.

 

 

Fixing a new law that imposes penalties on driver who do not operate their headlights at the same time as their windshield wipers is one of the latest controversies to take hold.

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The Fall River School Committee meets Wednesday for its April session at Morton Middle School with an 11 item agenda.

 

Among the 8 voting items is a proposed administrative structure for B-M-C Durfee High School, twenty five thousand dollars in safety training, using a contractual fine paid by Tremblay Bus in 2014 and evaluation benchmarks for Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown.

 

The meeting is slated to get underway at 6:30 pm.

 

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The Executive Vice President of the Fall River Office of Economic Development tells WSAR News Amazon continues to work on various aspects of its planned distribution center, which could break ground later this summer.

 

Ken Fiola.

 

 

The one million square foot distribution center is set to employ five hundred people full time, with a varying number of seasonal part time workers.

 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News that ''shared sacrifice'' will be on the key themes of the 2015 State of the City of Fall River, after the Sutter transition team released the third and final portion of its report on the city’s finances.

 

Sutter says a lack of tax revenue makes it difficult in to provide services.

 

 

 

Sutter says new members to his cabinet will be added, including a tourism director.

 

 

 

 

Sutter says Fall River’s destinations need to be marketed.

 

 

Sutter will give his address Thursday evening at 7 o’clock in Council Chambers.

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The third and final installment of a financial report from the Sutter transition team in finds that Fall River’s revenue problems have been ''decades in the making'', as the city has one of the lowest property tax rates in the Commonwealth.

 

The report further finds that in years where the city did not raise taxes, the city could not find the revenue needed to fund city services and pay off outstanding debt.

 

The transition team also finds that since 2001, only Malden has lost more jobs than Fall River has in the same time span.

 

Fall River has lost almost 16 percent of its jobs since 2001. 

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The director of a Bridgewater State University child care center where a student is charged with sexually abusing two preschool boys has pleaded not guilty to allegations that she failed to report the matter.

 

Judith Ritacco of Boylston was held on $25,000 bail after pleading not guilty Thursday to endangering a child, failure to report alleged abuse, and witness intimidation.

 

Prosecutors say the 53-year-old was alerted by a teacher on March 27th that a 21-year-old student who worked at the center had molested a boy, but told the teacher to keep quiet about it.

 

Because of her job, Ritacco was legally required to report suspected abuse.

 

Her lawyer, Thomas Guiney, says Ritacco did report the matter to her superiors, and says she is being made the "scapegoat."

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Mayor Sam Sutter’s recently appointed task force on solid waste meets for the first time Friday and will consider a host of options in the coming months for what to do the city's trash.

 

Co-chair, City Councilor Mike Miozza ells WSAR News the panel plans to vet a host of proposals but is not looking specifically for an alternative to pay-as-you throw.

 

 

Co-chair Dan Botelho tells WSAR News the process will be open and fair.

 

 

 

Botelho says the task force will not be rushed.

 

 

The task force is set to report back to the mayor in September.

 

Meanwhile, city council ordinance committee chair Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News while he supports the concept of pay-as-you throw it may be time to consider an alternative such as a flat fee.

 

 

Botelho not sure a flat fee would be any more popular than pay-as-you throw.

 

 

Correia says pay-as-you throw has some benefits but has proven to be unpopular and questions still remain about the ability to enforce the program in it's current form.;

 

 

City Council this week opted to send the pay as you throw debate back to committee.

 

Administrator Net Zero says the program is failing due to a lack of enforcement.

 

The Sutter Administration says it plans to begin enforcement the week of April 20th.

 

It says the program has about an 85 percent compliance rate, down from a high of 97 percent late last year.

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The Baker Administration has singed a mass house bill into law that authorizes an additional $200 million in chapter 90 transportation funds for cities and towns.

 

An additional $30 million was allocated for pothole and paving issues at the end of the 2015 winter season.

 

Chapter 90 dollars are funded through bonds, as cities and towns are reimbursed for eligible transportation projects though their mass dot highway division.

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The Chief of Staff For Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News even without language in solid waste ordinances regarding pay as you throw, the city will begin issuing fines the week of April 20th, which will likely lead to a test of the programs legality in court.

 

Lou Pacheco:

 

 

Pacheco says the Sutter Administration is required to enforce the law.

 

 

Pacheco says education will be the first step in a drive towards compliance and says enforcement options are being discussed.

 

 

Fall River Community Maintenance Director Ken Pacheco says according to Waste Zero, compliance issues started cropping up in the fourth quarter of 2014.

 

 

Pacheco says if fines are issued he wants to make sure they go to those having issues with compliance.

 

 

North Carolina based Waste Zero indicated in a report issued this spring that a drop in bag sales is resulting from a refusal to issue fines for non compliance. 

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An MBTA Special Panel has released a report that could see the creation of one, 5 and 20 year spending plans, after the panel studying the MBTA found what it called ''massive structural and management failures that could bankrupt the MBTA if left unchecked.

 

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker focused on five recommendations, including the appointment of a control board and a director.

 

 

Baker says those who use the various components of the MBTA deserve a system that runs as scheduled.

 

 

Baker outlined the final two recommendations.

 

 

Among a list of key findings, the panel says the MBTA has a unsustainable operating budget, and would be ''insolvent'' if not for continuing and increasing subsides.

 

The report also finds the MBTA has no accountability to the Governor or the Massachusetts Legislature and has what are termed ''weak workplace practices''.

 

A capital planning recommendation seeks to pause construction spending for system expansion.

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It was a lopsided 6-3 vote Tuesday night that saw the Fall River City Council boot the near toxic issue of pay-as-you throw back to committee for further review.

 

A divided ordinance committee approved of a change in existing law to define the mandatory purple trash bags as the proper receptacle for disposing of non-recyclable solid waste.

 

The committee attached an emergency preamble setting the stage for Tuesday night's first ever council vote on pay-as-you throw.

 

After rejecting the preamble, Council decided to ship the entire matter back to committee.

 

Chairman Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News the committee will properly vet the program.

 

 

City Administrator Cathy Ann Viveiros tells WSAR News the administration plans to begin enforcing the program with or without council support..

 

 

 

Councilor Dan Rego:

 

 

Both sides believe the legality of pay-as-you throw in its current state will be determined by the courts.

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As Fall River City Council prepares to perhaps add language regarding pay-as you throw to current solid waste ordinances, the Chair of the Ordinance and Legislation Committee says opinions have changed regarding pay-as-you throw since its August 2014 rollout.

 

Jasiel Correia:

 

 

Correia says serious discussions on a host of issues need to take place.

 

 

Councilor Linda Pereria says pay-as-you throw, it is what it is.

 

 

The Sutter administration has indicated that fines be implemented regarding non compliance beginning the week of April 20th.

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The Fall River Firefighter's Union picking up some support from Council in it's insistence that a plan be formulated for funding new apparatus and equipment.

 

Fire Chief Robert Viveiros tells WSAR News several pieces of apparatus are more than 15 years old now and says air tanks and other safety equipment are obsolete and don't meet federal standards.

 

Councilor Dan Rego:

 

 

Rego says it's time to come up with a plan.

 

 

Union President Jason Burns says it's time to act.

 

 

Burns says the union understands it's a problem that will take time to resolve.

 

 

Mayor Sam Sutter says he has been in discussions with Chief Viveiros and the union and intends to begin working on finding a solution to the issues.

 

The administration is also awaiting word on its application for a federal safer staffing grant that could be awarded in June.

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A Mass DOT Community Grant Transit Program is awarding the City of Fall River one van as part of a program designed to provide transportation for seniors and persons with disabilities.

 

The Greater Attleboro and Taunton Regional Transit Authority is also receiving12 vehicles, as part of a ten million dollar federal transportation authority grant program.

 

 

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A Rhode Island Senate Committee on Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs will vote on legislation allowing for the potential construction of a hotel at Twin River Casino in Lincoln.

 

The House has already passed the legislation.

 

Twin River wants to construct a four-story, 200 room hotel, as the Ocean State prepares for potential competition from destination resort casinos in the Commonwealth.

 

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A Bristol County grand jury has indicted a 37-year-old Providence man on charges connected to the April 15th 2014 death of 29 year old Justin Downey in New Bedford.

 

Sayyid Coggins has been indicted on charges of murder and arson in a dwelling.

 

Coggins remains jailed on prior charges of accessory to murder and faces arraignment on the new charges in Fall River Superior Court later this spring.

 

Coggins was arrested in April 2014 in suburban Atlanta, after the victim's body was found in his Rounds 

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The head of the union representing Fall River firefighters wants new engines and new equipment as part of a long term strategy to improve the safety and effectiveness of the fire department, while at least one city councilor says bonding could be utilized.

 

Jason Burns:

 

 

Councilor Dan Rego tells WSAR News he would support bonding for new fire engines and public safety spending.

 

 

Burns says long range planning regarding equipment needs to be part of a larger discussion.

 

 

Rego says he can support bonding for public safety issues.

 

 

There has been discussion regarding at least one new engine in the fiscal year 2016 budget.

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Fall River will not meet 100 percent of net school spending requirements for this fiscal year as a result of a 1.4 million dollar shortfall that exists due to over estimations for employee health care costs.

 

Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown tells WSAR News the funds most likely exist in an employee trust fund account, outside of the budget, specifically for employee benefits.

 

 

Mayo Brown says this late in the fiscal year it might make more sense to apply the remaining funds to next year's budget.

 

 

Mayo Brown says the district will likely be just shy of 99 percent of net school spending requirements for the fiscal year.

 

The City Council recently transferred 3.4 million dollars from free cash to help close a shortfall in the department's budget.

 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter tells WSAR News he will not attend Monday’s session of the Fall River City Councils Ordinance and Legislation Committee as it begins the process of reviewing placing pay as you throw and recycling language into the current solid waste statute.

 

 

Sutter says sending his Chief of Staff is a form of time management.

 

 

Sutter says he expects pay-as-you throw to face a legal challenge once fines begin the week of April 21st.

 

 

A task force that Sutter selected earlier this week will also begin the process of reviewing solid waste options with a report due in September.

 

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Massachusetts 11th District State Rep Bob Koczera tells WSAR News that region c needs to be given the same sort of consideration that regions a and b were given in the drive to secure gaming licenses.

 

In a tweet Wednesday morning, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission indicates there will not be a revised timeline until commissioners have time to assess the application process, which has a May 4th deadline for developers in Somerset, New Bedford and Brockton.

 

A consultant has indicated to the commission there is no timeline for when decisions regarding land in trust might be made concerning the Mashpee Wampanoag’s and their efforts in Taunton.

 

Richard Carroll indicated to the commission Wednesday.

 

 

Now, Koczera says as long as meaningful progress is shown by all three applicants the process should continue towards a conclusion.

 

 

Koczera says deadlines are not an issue right now for region c.

 

 

A Massachusetts slot parlor is to open in June. 

 

MGM Springfield has already broken ground on their new facility.

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The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance has fined the Leo Pelletier campaign for re-election $1,000 after Debra Pelletier was found to be at the welcome table at a March fundraising event collecting contributions.

 

Debra Pelletier is an employee of the City of Fall River.

 

Candidate Leo Pelletier tells WSAR News that he told investigators he did not realize that the Commonwealth considered that a violation of campaign finance statutes.

 

 

Pelletier says it takes a lot to run a credible campaign for one of the nine available council seats.

 

 

Pelletier says he paid the fine in March.

 

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance says it considers the matter closed.

 

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Sean Cadime, the unanimous choice to be Somerset’s next town administrator.

 

Somerset Selectmen Chair Don Setters.

 

 

Cadime bested a field of 24 applicants including fellow finalist Richard Brown who has served as town administrator in Freetown as well as a city administrator in New London Connecticut and East Providence.

 

Setters tells WSAR News Cadime, the current town administrator for Seekonk, has what it takes to deal with Somerset’s financial issues.

 

 

Selectman Scott Lebeau.

 

 

Cadime is a former member of the Fall River School Committee and served as city administrator under former mayor Will Flanagan.

 

He has also agreed not to seek public office and move to Somerset.

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A task force created by Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter could meet for the first time this Friday if enough members can be gathered on the cusp of Easter weekend.

 

Co Chair Dan Botelho tells WSAR News pay-as-you throw and other options will be thoroughly examined.

 

 

Chamber President Rob Mellion, who also is a member of the newly formed task force, tells WSAR News the process of selecting an acceptable solid waste alternative needs to start from scratch.

 

 

Mellion says many alternatives were not examined the first time.

 

 

Botelho tells he believes the Sutter Administration will accept the task force’s final recommendation that is expected to be announced later this fall.

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The Somerset Board of Selectmen is to discuss and likely appoint a new full-time town administrator Wednesday evening during a meeting being held at the Somerset Public Library.

 

Six items of new business are on the agenda, including the possibility of a new cable t-v license and a review of a public comment period for energy aggregation.

 

Selectmen are also to discuss the budget process, the May Town Meeting and the latest developments regarding a planned casino.

 

The meeting is slated to being at 6 pm.

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The Executive Vice President of the Fall River Office of Economic Development tells WSAR that the city’s North end holds the keys to future economic development and job retention.

 

Ken Fiola says the location of the Industrial Park came after a decade of work on securing permitting and access to the location.

 

 

Regarding Seattle-based internet retailer Amazon, Fiola says that five hundred new jobs will pump new economic activity into the local market.

 

 

As far as tax financing incentives are concerned, Fiola says Fall River will be seeing new tax revenues from the day the million square foot distribution center opens.

                     

 

Fiola says the Amazon deal took three years of negotiations and ten years of work as far as permitting and access are concerned.

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New England Patriots Majority Owner Bob Kraft took the stand Tuesday morning as a witness in the first degree murder trial of former Patriot Aaron Hernandez.

 

Kraft described for the prosecution a meeting on June 19, 2013 at Gillette Stadium when Hernandez spoke with Patriots administrators.

 

 

Kraft says Hernandez told him he was innocent, and that he was in a nightclub on the night Odin Lloyd died.

 

 

Kraft described his final meeting with Hernandez.

 

 

The lead of the Hernandez defense team, Mark Fee, focused on the final contract Hernandez signed with the Patriots.

 

 

At the time, Hernandez was a person of interest in the murder of Odin Lloyd. 

 

His arrest came several days later.

 

Shortly after, the Patriots also cancelled Hernandez’s contract.

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter admits that a graph used by his transition team regarding stabilization dollars could have been better crafted as part of a 70 page summary of the city’s financial situation, but indicates the larger point is that the city has issues with its stabilization line items.

 

As for the ongoing debate on the legality of pay-as-you throw, Sutter says Council President Joe Camara got it right as to how the process would play out.

 

 

The second part of transition team’s recent report regarding the city and its finances was released last Friday.

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The Chair of the Fall River City Council Committee on Ordinances and Legislation is hoping for a debate when it comes to issues relating to solid waste and recycling.

 

Jasiel Correia tells WSAR News the committee is expected to discuss the addition of language regarding pay-as-you throw and recycling on Monday.

 

Correia says all major players have standing invitations.

                     

 

Correia says the recent creation of a task force dealing with solid waste and recycling caught him by surprise.

 

 

There are indications that fines could be handed out for non-compliance regarding pay-as-you throw at some point this spring. 

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With the release of a 70 page analysis summary of Fall Rivers municipal and school department budget numbers produced by the Sutter Administration Friday, arrangements are now being made for individual sessions with nine city council members who have questions about what the numbers actually mean.

 

Sutter Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco tells WSAR News he is available to answer questions.

 

 

 

 

Pacheco says different council members will focus on various portions of the document.

 

 

Click here for a link to the report.

 

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The installation of 22 windows at Fall River Government Center during the summer of 2013 continues to be investigated at the local and state level.

 

Sutter Chief of Staff Lou Pacheco says the transition team also has looked into the issues involved and says he has also examined the issues involved, and says procurement procedures were not followed:

 

 

Pacheco says nothing illegal has been discovered.

 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy has indicated to WSAR News that her office is familiarizing themselves with the files left behind by former A.G. Martha Coakley.

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As casino investors in Brockton, New Bedford and Somerset continue their pursuit of the third and final destination resort casino license for region c, Don Setters, the Chair of the Somerset Board of Selectmen tells WSAR News that various items will be considered once artist renderings are available from Crossroads Massachusetts.

 

 

Setters says he’s hoping for high speed ferry service as one means of traffic mitigation and says traffic concerns are something that can be monitored.

 

 

Setters wants to see gift certificates offered as part of a players club program to Somerset restaurants and businesses, as part of an agreement with developers.

 

The region c license is to be awarded by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in the fourth quarter of 2015.

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FALL RIVER: Today, the Transition Team appointed by Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter released the data they have been compiling throughout the course of their analysis of Fall River’s finances. These statistics were the source material that the Transition Team drew from for their Executive Summary, released Monday, March 16th.

 

Said Sutter: "My Transition Team has released a comprehensive outline of the data that supports Part 1 of their Financial Report. The information provided today is a detailed picture of where Fall River stands financially. I wanted the public to have these numbers so that we can all plainly see where we are at as we begin taking steps towards fiscal sustainability.

 

"I am grateful for all of the hard work the Transition Team put in in pulling this information together and helping to provide the community with the hard data behind the budget,” Sutter continued. “I look forward to opening up a dialogue with the community about what this information means in the immediate future and for our long-term vision for the City."

 

Sutter also announced that the Transition Team will be publishing one more document within the next week that further explains the data released today.

 

The report can be read on the City's website at the following link:

 

 

http://fallriverma.org/images/Transition%20Report%20Data.pdf

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A Westwood Massachusetts man has been arrested and charged with allegedly making a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of the Fall River Justice Center Thursday afternoon.

 

Fifty-six year old Paul Haddad was arrested by the Fall River Police Department’s Special Ops Division after a warrant was obtained for his arrest.

 

Haddad is being held on a five thousand dollars cash bail and is to be arraigned Friday.

        

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A decision on a new Somerset Town Administrator is due at some point this spring, as the race between two contenders comes down to interviews Tuesday, with a potential decision expected Wednesday.

 

Somerset Board of Selectmen Chair Don Setters indicates to WSAR News that former Fall River City Administrator, and current Seekonk Administrator Shawn Cadime and Richard Brown, who has administrative experience in Rhode Island are the two contenders for the post.

           

The contract of former Town Administrator Richard Lutrell was not renewed earlier this year, as selectmen indicated they wanted to go in a different direction. 

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Fall River Mayor Sam Sutter delivered his first State of the City Business Address Thursday morning at McGovern’s.

 

The event was hosted by the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce.

 

Sutter says the city turning a corner in terms of employment and other opportunities.

 

 

Sutter says economic development is also coming to the waterfront.

 

 

Sutter says the release of a two-part document on the city’s finances, with a second portion due out Friday, should initiate a city wide conversation.

 

 

Sutter says Fall River is a safe compared to other gateway cities.

 

 

Sutter says he wants to see effective management practices in fixing potholes, removing snow and dealing with solid waste,

 

 

Sutter says a task force will also be developed after an April State of the City Address and will operate like others did when he was District Attorney for Bristol County.       

 

Sutter says he will explain more of his immediate policies next week.

 

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Fall River City Councilor Dan Rego has indicated to WSAR News that he thinks the current pay as you throw program will fall short of its $3.5 million dollar revenue target.

            

 

Rego thinks the shortfall could be significant.

                  

 

Rego says the rules involving the program need to be clarified and enforced.

 

 

The program initiated during the first week of August of 2014.

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The first degree murder trial of former Patriot Aaron Hernandez was briefly postponed Thursday after bomb threat was reportedly received at the Fall River Justice Center.

 

ESPN reports the building was evacuated during the noon hour.

 

A subsequent sweep of the building yielded no explosives

 

According to information released by the Fall River Police Department, a special ops division is working on several leads.

 

Anyone with information is asked to call 508-324-2801 or 508 672 8477.

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Congratulations to Jessica Noiseux of Somerset and John Raposo of Fall River who each won a pair of tickets to Friday night’s Red Sox Yankees game at Fenway Park.

 

A huge thank you to our sponsors:

Family Ties Restaurant

Fiore Auto Sales

Fall River Municipal Credit Union

Li'l Audrey's

Li'l Bear's

Jillian's Sports Pub

Nite Oil

Somerset Paint

Suzuki/Triumph of Swansea

T.A. Restaurant

 

BKs Beacon Tavern

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