Bristol Community College to offer FREE ONE-Credit Course honoring the teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr. beginning march 26, 2018
Bristol Community College will offer a FREE, one-credit course, The Readings of Martin Luther King, Jr, (HST 162 16 CRN 10361) on Mondays, from 6:30-9 p.m., beginning March 26, 2018, until May 17, 2018, at the BCC Fall River campus, 777 Elsbree Street. This course is FREE and open to the public.
In this course participants will read and hear some of Dr. King’s works in order to gain a better understanding of both the man, and his effect on this country, and world history.
During the little more than ten years when Dr. King was in the center of the struggle for equal rights in this country, he gave numerous speeches and sermons many of which have been preserved both in written form, as well as in recordings. In addition, he penned five books and gave many transcribed interviews. A review of such works provides a glimpse into the thinking of this great man, and helps us to better understand what motivated him to devote his life to the movement for positive change. The works also reflect the evolution of King’s thinking and actions as he drew upon his prior learning, as well as his experiences.
This engaging course offering coincides with the college’s free annual breakfast to honor the life and ideals of Dr. King on January 15, 2018, at 8:30 a.m., at the BCC Fall River campus. The event will feature Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Dr. Robert E. Johnson as the keynote speaker, the awarding of the 2018 African American Alumnus of the year, and the presentation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Poster and Essay contest winners chosen from participants at area schools.
For more information about the course, or to register, please visit http://webapp.bristolcc.edu/coursesearch/?term=201801&camp=1&type=CR&subj=HST
. Select “HST 162 – Readings of Martin Luther King” from the “course” selection box. Here, you will also find registration instructions.
For more information about the 18th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Breakfast, please visit http://www.bristolcc.edu/mlk/.
U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employees and Employers Engaged
In Snow Removal and Cleanup to Be Aware of Potential Hazards
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - With record snowfalls in Pennsylvania and Western New York, along with frigid temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest, the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging all those involved in snow removal and cleanup to take precautions and focus on safety.
Workers performing snow removal operations may be exposed to serious hazards, including slips and falls while walking on snow and ice, falls from roofs and roof edges, through skylights, or from aerial ladders and lifts. Workers may also be injured by a roof collapse. Other storm recovery work hazards include being struck by vehicles, carbon monoxide, hypothermia, and being injured by powered equipment.
Those working outdoors may also be at risk of cold stress, including first responders who are on duty for long periods of time. Anyone working outside for prolonged periods may experience cold stress with mild symptoms, such as shivering while remaining alert. Moderate to severe symptoms include shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slowness, and loss of consciousness. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related injuries may occur, such as frostbite.
A full list of winter storm hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/index.html or http://www.osha.gov.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov
Due to the New Year's Day Forecast, the City of Fall River has postponed the Polar Plunge Event till another day in January when the cold is not a significant factor.
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation is continuing to upgrade its innovative, online pothole dashboard that provides information to the public regarding pothole locations and size, the number of potholes filled, the type of material used, and the total approximate cost. The pothole dashboard can be found online at this link: https://goo.gl/3YiwTA
In 2017, MassDOT upgraded the pothole dashboard to indicate if the repair was made as a result of public feedback (indicated by a check-mark). MassDOT appreciates reports from members of the public regarding potholes on roadways and 10% of the approximately 900 pothole repairs made since October 2017 have been in response to public feedback.
“This innovative online resource provides clear information to members of the public on our repairs and investments and allows us to make better decisions on using resources to improve our roadways,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver. “We are committed to excellent customer service and the pothole tracking program is a useful tool that enables us to engage the public, better monitor roadway conditions, plan upcoming maintenance and road repairs, and ensure safer and more reliable travel.”
While it is not possible to track all repairs and activity, data collected shows that MassDOT has made at least 8,500 pothole repairs in 2017 using approximately 412 tons of material. The pothole repair dashboard provides transparency to the public on the use of state resources, creates efficiency by introducing technology to front line workers, and adds to the data available for maintenance and capital planning.
MassDOT can use this data when making capital investment decisions to focus resources on roads and areas that require consistent pothole repair and manage our assets in a cost-effective manner that prevents emergency pothole repairs.
During calendar year 2017, MassDOT expanded the program so that it includes information regarding potholes in all six highway districts after it was previously piloted in areas of Central and Western Massachusetts. A new online viewer is currently under development and will combine pothole repair locations, pavement condition data and planned or underway paving projects to provide a more complete picture of MassDOT pavement management practices.
The pothole repair program also includes a field application through which MassDOT road crews can input data outlining the date, time, cost and materials used to repair potholes. The data collection structure uses MassDOT’s GIS systems to establish an interactive webpage. Once entered, that information then becomes viewable in real-time to the public via the online dashboard.
Potholes can also be reported to MassDOT by calling 857-DOT-INFO (857-368-4636) or 877-MA-DOT-GOV (877-623-6846) or by contacting MassDOT online. Potholes can also be reported to the State or local police who will contact MassDOT with the report.
STILL TIME TO PREP CAR FOR WINTER, SAYS AAA
Cold weather may be on our doorstep, but there is still time to make sure your car is ready to start and run in the coldest and harshest conditions we may face over the winter months, according to AAA Northeast.
“Preventive maintenance is essential for safe driving and greatly decreases the chances of being stranded in the cold,” said John Paul, AAA Northeast Senior Manager of Traffic Safety and the AAA Car Doctor.
Motorists can be prepared for adverse winter weather conditions with these tips from AAA:
Battery and charging system: Have the battery and charging system tested if your vehicle's battery is more than three years old. Your vehicle will need a fully charged battery to start up during a cold snap. Even a good battery can lose up to 50 percent of its capacity when the temperatures drop to zero. At 32 degrees it can take up to 30 percent more power to start a cold engine. If your vehicle started with a jumpstart you have only fixed the symptom but not the problem. A well maintained vehicle should start in nearly any weather condition.
Coolant: Check the coolant level in the overflow tank when the engine is cold. If the level is low, add a 50/50 solution of coolant and water to maintain the necessary antifreeze capability. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water will protect your car’s engine to -34 degrees. You can test the antifreeze protection level with an inexpensive tester available at any auto parts store. Check the cooling system hoses for leaks, cracks or loose clamps, too. Any hoses that feel brittle or spongy when squeezed should be replaced.
Ignition: Today we don’t think about tune-ups like we once did with older cars but ignition systems can fail. Damaged ignition wires, a cracked distributor cap or worn spark plugs can make starting difficult. If the check engine light is flashing this indicates an engine misfire that could be a result of a malfunctioning ignition system. Driving with a flashing check engine light will permanently damage the engine catalytic convertor-a very expensive repair.
Oil: This is a year-round recommendation, but certainly worth taking care of with the rest of your winter prep. Always have your oil changed per manufacturer recommendations. You should have your vehicle's transmission fluid level checked at the same time. Synthetic oil is a benefit in every vehicle and will allow for quicker starts in very cold weather.
Tires: In areas with heavy winter weather, installing winter tires on all four wheels will provide the best traction. Winter tires are also formulated to work better in very cold weather conditions due to the stickier rubber compounds. All-season tires work well in light-to-moderate snow conditions provided they have adequate tread depth. Examine tires for tread depth, uneven wearing and cupping. Uneven tire wear can indicate alignment, wheel balance or suspension problems that must be addressed to prevent further tire damage.
Washer fluid: Fill the windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter cleaning solution that has antifreeze components. Some window washer solution is rated to just 20 degrees, but in cold weather this solution can freeze and damage the washer system. Look for washer fluid that protects well below freezing temperatures.
Wipers: Wiper blades should completely clear the glass with each swipe. Replace any blade that leaves streaks or misses spots. Consider installing wiper blades that have a one-piece plastic beam frame or winter blades that wrap the metal frame in a rubber boot. Both designs help prevent snow and ice buildup that can interfere with blade-to-glass contact.
Engine Warm up: Extensive engine warm ups are not necessary even in very cold weather. A more fuel efficient technique is once the car is running and you are settled in with your favorite radio station and your seat belt fastened, drive reasonably until the engine comes up to operating temperature.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.2 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.
MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT
DATE: December 27, 2017
TIME: 10:00 AM
SUBJECT: Extended Period of Bitter Cold
Very cold temperatures are expected for the rest of this week, potentially lasting into the middle of next week. Daytime high temperatures will likely not rise above the teens from Thursday through the weekend. High temperatures in some interior locations may not rise above the single digits. Overnight low temperatures will drop to 0 to -10 degrees north of the Mass Pike and to the single digits over southeast Massachusetts. Wind chills during this period could be as low as 15 to 25 degrees below zero, particularly in western Massachusetts. The coldest periods are forecast to be Wednesday night into Thursday morning and Thursday night into Friday morning. Another bout of especially low wind chills is possible Saturday night into Sunday morning and Sunday night into Monday morning.
Potentially life-threatening wind chill temperatures
Frostbite and hypothermia possible for those without proper protection from the cold. Frostbite can occur in as little as 30 minutes for unprotected skin.
Possible increase in fires from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources or people trying to thaw frozen pipes with blowtorches or similar devices
Possible increase in incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning from unsafe/improper use of alternative heating sources
Possible vehicle failure
Possible water main breaks and pipe bursts
Watches and Warnings
SEOC Activation Level
The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is operating at Level 1 (Steady State Monitoring). MEMA will continue to monitor the forecast and will disseminate additional Situational Awareness Statements as necessary.
Preparedness and Safety Information
Utilize Massachusetts Alerts to receive emergency notifications and information from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the National Weather Service. Massachusetts Alerts is a free app that is available for Android and iPhones. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone, visit: www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.
Utilize MEMA’s real-time power outage viewer to stay informed about current power outages in your community and region, and across the state, including information from utility companies about restoration times: http://mema.mapsonline.net/public.html
Utilize MEMA’s live weather radar and forecasting tools, including the live snowfall forecast map: http://memamaps.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=0da6e4d888b74317b52b7a5064aa3dc2
Follow MEMA on Facebook (@MassachusettsEMA), Twitter (@MassEMA), and Nextdoor (www.Nextdoor.com)
For additional information and resources, visit:
Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency at www.mass.gov/mema
MEMA's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA
MEMA Twitter: @MassEMA
Federal Emergency Management Agency at www.fema.gov
National Weather Service/Taunton at www.weather.gov/boston
National Weather Service/Albany, NY at www.weather.gov/albany
National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center: http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov
National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/
Mass211 at www.mass211.org
GAS PRICES DOWN THREE MORE CENTS, SAYS AAA
Gasoline prices in Massachusetts are down another three cents this week, and have fallen an average of 10 cents over the last five weeks, according to AAA Northeast.
AAA Northeast’s December 26 survey of prices in Massachusetts finds self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $2.43 per gallon. Massachusetts’s price is one cent below the national average of $2.44. A year ago at this time, the average price in Massachusetts was twenty-one cents lower at $2.22 per gallon.
The range in prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 32 cents, from a low of $2.27 to a high of $2.59. AAA advises motorists to shop around for the best prices in their area, and to make sure they and their passengers buckle up — every time.
Today’s local gas prices and their ranges are as follows:
Self Serve Grade
$2.43 ($2.27-$2.59) Regular Unleaded
$2.70 ($2.58-$2.99) Midgrade Unleaded
$2.87 ($2.67-$3.05) Premium Unleaded
$2.81 ($2.69-$3.03) Diesel
Attorney General Kilmartin Sues EPA to Protect Rhode Island from Out-of-State Air Pollution
8 AGs File Suit, Challenging EPA’s Refusal to Require Upwind States to Control Smog Pollution that Blows into Northeast States
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, joining a coalition of eight attorneys general, filed a lawsuit today against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force action under the Clean Air Act to ensure upwind states adequately control the pollution that blows into Rhode Island and other downwind states. The EPA’s own studies demonstrate that pollution from states upwind of Rhode Island contributes substantially to the state’s harmful levels of smog.
“It’s been long established that Rhode Island and the other Northeast states are negatively impacted by pollution from upwind states, and this latest decision by the EPA flouts sound environmental science and puts many Rhode Islanders – especially young children and older people – at serious risk of health issues,” said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Specifically, the suit challenges the EPA’s denial of a petition that a number of states filed in late 2013 for the Agency to add nine additional states to the “Ozone Transport Region,” a group of states established under the federal Clean Air Act that must act in concert to reduce smog pollution within the region.
Click here to read the lawsuit, which was filed by the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Reducing smog levels is vital to protecting the health of residents in Rhode Island. Elevated levels of smog can cause a host of significant health effects, including coughing, throat irritation, lung tissue damage, and the aggravation of existing medical conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, and emphysema. According to the American Lung Association’s “2017 State of the Air Report,” more than 10 percent of all Rhode Islanders are at risk for pediatric or adult asthma due to smog and particle pollution in the air.
Congress created the Ozone Transport Region to help states address pervasive smog problems in the northeastern United States. By statute, the Region consists of 11 states – Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont – and the District of Columbia metropolitan area.
In December 2013, a number of northeastern states submitted a petition under the Clean Air Act asking EPA to add nine additional states shown or projected through modelling and analysis to contribute to violations of federal smog standards in the Ozone Transport Region.
These nine states are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. When EPA took no any action on that petition, a coalition of states filed suit against the EPA to compel it to act. The coalition of states subsequently negotiated a consent decree that required EPA to approve or disapprove the petition no later than October 27, 2017. On that date, Trump EPA Administrator Pruitt denied the states’ Ozone Transport Region petition.
Today’s suit, which was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, asks the court to review Administrator Pruitt’s denial of the petition. The coalition will ask the court to determine that the denial is unlawful and to vacate it.
Ozone Transport Region
Each state within the Ozone Transport Region must develop and implement plans that achieve controls on pollutants that contribute to the formation of smog. However, despite enacting stringent in-state controls on sources of these pollutants, many states within the Region – including Rhode Island – are not able to meet federal health-based air quality standards for smog, significantly due to upwind smog pollution.
Modeling and analysis performed by EPA, as well as by states, has shown that interstate transport of air pollution from upwind states outside of the Ozone Transport Region –including Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia – contributes significantly to violations of the 2008 federal smog standard within the Ozone Transport Region. In addition, preliminary modeling demonstrates that emissions in these states, as well as North Carolina, are projected to contribute to violations of the recently updated, 2015 federal smog standard in the Region.
States outside and upwind of the Region are not required to – and generally do not – impose controls as stringent as those required of those within the Region. However, the federal Clean Air Act provides for states to petition EPA to add states to the Ozone Transport Region, and for EPA to add states when the Agency has reason to believe that the interstate transport of air pollution from them significantly contributes to exceedances of the federal standards for smog in the Region.
MASSACHUSETTS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS STATEMENT
December 24, 2017
Re: Winter Storm With Snow and Strong Winds
A winter storm will impact the state this evening and Monday. There is still some uncertainty in the track of the storm, but the forecast calls for snow to overspread most of the state late tonight and last into mid-day tomorrow. More particularly, precipitation will fall as snow except in the southeast (south and east of the I-95 corridor) where it will remain as rain to the south of the I-95 corridor and there may be a mixture of rain, sleet and snow along the I-95 corridor. Snowfall totals will be greatest in northern Massachusetts, with the northern areas of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Worcester and Middlesex Counties receiving 6” t 8” of snow. 3” to 6” of accumulation is forecast for other areas to the north and west of the I-95 corridor. See the Snowfall Total Graphic below.
Strong and potentially damaging winds through Monday also are forecast for this storm. Gusts of 40 MPH to 50 MPH are forecast for much of the state, with gusts up to 65 MPH over areas of the Cape and Islands.
During the storm, travel may be hazardous, particularly to the north and west of the I-95 corridor, due to the snow, sleet and freezing rain. Additionally, the strong winds may result in downed limbs, trees, and utility wires. Power outages are expected with this storm, particularly over the Cape and Islands.
Watches, Warnings, Advisories
Winter Storm Warnings have been issued for the northern areas of the state that are expected to receive up to 8” of snow. A High Wind Warning has been issued for the Cape and Islands. Winter Weather and Wind Advisories have been issued for other areas of the state. The current Warnings, Watches and Advisories are detailed below.
Issued: December 24 at 2:58AM EST
Expiring: December 25 at 7:00PM EST
Areas affected: Central Middlesex County; Eastern Essex; Eastern Franklin; Eastern Hampden; Eastern Hampshire; Eastern Norfolk; Northern Bristol; Northern Worcester; Northwest Middlesex County; Southeast Middlesex; Southern Worcester; Suffolk; Western Essex; Western Franklin; Western Hampden; Western Hampshire; Western Norfolk; Western Plymouth
Carmelo Kercado Jr. was transported back to Massachusetts this evening and will be arraigned Tuesday morning in New Bedford District Court for the October 10th slaying of Stephen Bodden and Fabio Tavares in New Bedford.
Kercado, 35, of New Bedford was arrested in Concord, N.C., early Tuesday afternoon. Task force officers had set up surveillance on an address there after Troopers from the Massachusetts State Police's Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section and members of the US Marshals Service in Boston developed intelligence that he may have been there. The United States Marshals Service North Carolina Joint Fugitive Task Force took KERCADO into custody at approximately 1:25 p.m.
Mr. Kercado is accused of shooting and killing Stephen Bodden, 27, of New Bedford and Taunton, and Fabio Tavares, 28, of New Bedford, while the three of them drove in a vehicle along Central Avenue on the morning of October 10 at around 1:30 a.m.
New Bedford Police received a 911 call around 1:30 a.m. in regards to shots being fired at a motor vehicle at 200 Central Avenue. The caller stated that popping sounds were heard on the street just prior to the sound of a car crash. When police arrived, they found the 2001 Honda Accord angled up against a parked car on the south side of the streets.
First responders determined the Stephen Bodden, who was sitting in the driver's seat of the vehicle was already deceased. A second victim, Fabio Tavares, was sitting in the passenger seat and was found to still be breathing. He was rushed to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford, where he later died.
Mr. Kercado waived rendition in a North Carolina courthouse Thursday and was transported back to Massachusetts earlier this evening by Massachusetts State Troopers assigned to Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn's office. He will be held in custody through the weekend before being arraigned Tuesday morning.
The defendant is charged with two counts of murder, carrying an illegal firearm and carrying a loaded illegal firearm.
The investigation and prosecution is being coordinated by Assistant District Attorney Robert Digiantomaso.
Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II is pleased to announce that Fall River will welcome the new year with a fireworks display on New Years Eve, Sunday, December 31 at 9:00 pm. The pyrotechnics will be launched from City Pier, off Davol St near Heritage State Park. Best viewing areas will be the state park and Veterans Memorial Bicentennial Park.
Mayor Correia stated, “Fall River has a lot to look forward to in the new year. I invite the whole city to come together on New Years Eve this year to celebrate as a community. And I pledge to do all I can to make 2018 Fall River’s best year yet.”
With Jacksonville losing to the 49ers Sunday Night, the Patriots have clinched a First Round Bye in the AFC Playoffs, as the Jets provide the final opposition this Sunday.
The Patriots must win Sunday to secure home field advantage throughout the AFC Super Bowl Tournament.
In connection with the homicide investigation into the death of Thomas Pomare, the Attleboro Police and State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office have arrested Archie Charles, 25, of Malden, MA. He is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in Attleboro District Court.
Charles faces a single count of murder in connection with the case.
This remains an active and ongoing investigation.
Attorney General Kilmartin Joins 15 AGs in New Lawsuit Against Trump EPA for Flouting Clear Air Requirements
Attorneys General Sue EPA for Failing to Designate Areas with Unhealthy Levels of Smog
The Clean Air Act’s “Trigger” for Required Reductions in this Dangerous Air Pollution Attaining
National Smog Standards Would Prevent up to 660 Premature Deaths, 230,000 Asthma Attacks in Kids
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, joining a coalition of 15 state Attorneys General, filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for failing to meet the Clean Air Act’s statutory deadline for designating areas of the country impacted by unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone (commonly referred to as smog).
In addition to Rhode Island, the lawsuit was filed by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota (by and through its Minnesota Pollution Control Agency), New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.
With this suit, the coalition makes good on its pledge to sue the EPA if it failed to meet this key statutory and public health requirement. In August, a coalition of Attorneys General sued the EPA for illegally delaying the designations; the next day, the EPA reversed course and withdrew the delay. However, the EPA missed the statutory deadline of October 1st for designation and, four days later, the coalition filed a notice of intent to sue the Agency for failing to issue the required designations.
“We gave Director Pruitt and the EPA the benefit of the doubt that they would do the right thing and follow the law, but once again, they have failed to do so,” said Attorney General Kilmartin. “Clearly their promise to make good on implementing the smog designations as required under the Clean Air Act was a politically-calculated delay tactic. We cannot and will not sit idly by as the EPA’s inaction continues to threaten the health and safety of our citizens.”
Reducing smog levels is vital to protecting public health, as smog significantly exacerbates certain health conditions, such as heart disease, bronchitis, and asthma, especially in children and the elderly.
The EPA’s own studies demonstrate that pollution from states upwind of Rhode Island contributes substantially to the state’s dangerous smog problem. The designation of areas with unhealthy smog levels plays a key role under the Clean Air Act in addressing the pollutant’s severe harms to public health, triggering requirements for state-specific plans and deadlines to reduce pollution in the designated areas.
In October 2015, the EPA revised and strengthened the national air quality standards for smog. The Clean Air Act requires the Agency, within two years after issuance of new or revised standards, to designate areas of the county that are in “attainment” or “non-attainment” with these public health and welfare standards. In the case of the 2015 smog standards, EPA was required to issue attainment or non-attainment designations by October 1, 2017.
However, on June 28, 2017, EPA Administrator Pruitt published a notice stalling the deadline for the smog designations for all areas in the country for one year. Shortly thereafter, on August 1st, a coalition of 16 Attorneys General which included Attorney General Kilmartin sued the EPA for illegally delaying the designations. The next day, EPA abruptly reversed course and announced it was withdrawing the designations delay, although it remained equivocal on whether it would meet the October 1st deadline.
The October 1, 2017 deadline then passed without EPA making any of the required designations, in violation of the Clean Air Act. A few days later, the coalition notified EPA of its intention to sue if the agency failed to correct the violation within 60 days. On November 6, 2017, EPA issued designations for some areas of the county, but failed to make any “non-attainment” area designations, which are the designations that trigger smog reduction measures to improve air quality and comply with the standards.
The areas EPA failed to designate include many densely populated areas – such as Washington and Kent counties in Rhode Island, and all of Connecticut. In fact, more than half of the U.S. population lives in the undesignated areas. The 60-day notice period expired December 5th without the EPA issuing all of the statutorily-required designations.
The designation of areas for national air quality standards is a key statutory obligation under the Clean Air Act – and vital to protecting the public’s health. For areas designated as in non-attainment for the standards, states must adopt “implementation plans” – a collection of actions that the state will undertake to reduce pollution in order to ensure standards will be met in those areas. The deadlines for submitting implementation plans – and for ensuring that air quality standards are met within designated areas – are both directly keyed to the date of EPA designations. EPA’s failure to timely designate nonattainment areas delays the Clean Air Act’s requirements for measures to reduce pollution in these areas, thus resulting in further harm to public health.
According to EPA, the 2015 updated smog standards will improve public health protection – particularly for at-risk groups such as children, older adults, people of all ages who have lung diseases like asthma, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. In fact, the EPA conservatively estimated that meeting the new smog standards would result in net annual public health benefits of up to $4.5 billion starting in 2025 (not including California), while also preventing approximately:
• 316 to 660 premature deaths;
• 230,000 asthma attacks in children;
• 160,000 missed school days;
• 28,000 missed work days;
• 630 asthma-related emergency room visits; and
• 340 cases of acute bronchitis in children.
Smog forms when nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide emitted from power plants, motor vehicles, factories, refineries, and other sources react under suitable conditions. Because these reactions occur in the atmosphere, smog can form far from where its precursor gases are emitted and, once formed, smog can travel far distances. That is why, despite enacting stringent in-state controls on sources of these pollutants, many states are not, alone, able to meet federal health-based air quality standards for smog.
The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday, December 5th in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and can be read here: Case 3:17-cv-06936 .
City of New Bedford has renewed its program
to continue to cut electricity costs
Program brought in more than $1 million in electric bill
savings to New Bedford residents and small businesses
New Bedford, Massachusetts – The City of New Bedford will continue its electricity aggregation program under a new three-year supply contract set to start in January 2018.
New Bedford is part of a buying group of 23 communities stretching from the South Coast to northern Middlesex County that originally launched their Community Electricity Aggregation (CEA) programs in January 2016. By purchasing together, these communities have collectively saved over $8 million for their residents to date and have now renewed their supply contracts for another three years. New Bedford’s savings for homeowners and businesses was $1,076,863.
New Bedford’s partners include two dozen cities and towns across the region: Acushnet, Attleboro, Carver, Dartmouth, Dedham, Dighton, Douglas, Dracut, Fairhaven, Fall River, Freetown, Marion, Mattapoisett, New Bedford, Northbridge, Norton, Plainville, Rehoboth, Seekonk, Somerset, Swansea, Westford, and Westport. This Community Electricity Aggregation buying group is the largest in Massachusetts and the third largest of its kind in the country.
In addition to savings, in an environment of continuing rate volatility, these aggregation programs have successfully provided safe harbor for rate payers with one fixed rate while maintaining the freedom to leave the program at any time without penalty. The goals of the program are to provide ratepayers with reduced electric rates, price stability and a responsible alternative to utility rates.
The new electric rate is fixed at $0.10122 per kilowatt hour (kWh) from January 2018 to January 2021. This compares favorably with the Basic Service rate for Eversource from January 1, 2018 to June 30, 2018 which will be $0.13157 per kWh.
The electricity supply will be provided by Public Power, LLC. Public Power won a highly competitive bid conducted by consultant Good Energy in April 2017, beating out two of the nation’s largest power companies. The supplier name will change from Constellation to Public Power and this will be reflected along with the new rate of $0.10122 per kilowatt hour on your January 2018 bill which you will receive in February 2018.
While the aggregation rate compares favorably with the winter rate of Eversource, there is no guarantee of future savings under the aggregation program. The Eversource Basic Service supply rate changes every six months.
· If you are currently in the program, no action is required to continue participation.
· If you have opted out of the original program, you may still join the program by contacting Public Power, LLC at 800- 830-2944, or by email at email@example.com.
· If you are on the Basic Service with Eversource and have not previously opted out, you will be sent a letter that details the program.
· Residents who wish to join the program (including residents who previously opted out or who are currently with a third-party supplier) may still join the program by contacting Public Power, LLC at 800-830-2944, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that residents currently on with a third-party supplier should check for any early termination fees associated with their existing supply contract prior to joining the new program.
Residents are advised that no one affiliated with the program will call, email or knock on residents’ doors asking them to enroll or re-enroll. As before, there is no penalty or termination fee for leaving the program at any time.
About Community Electricity Aggregation (CEA):
As communities across the country have sought to take more control over their energy costs and usage, Community Electricity Aggregation has become increasingly popular. In Massachusetts, CEA is also known as “municipal aggregation” and was made possible by utility deregulation in the late 1990s. CEA is a process whereby a municipality or, in this case, multiple municipalities, aggregate the electrical load of residents and businesses within their jurisdictional boundaries to purchase electricity in bulk in the competitive market.
The CEA program does not affect the delivery of electric service. Any problems with electric service, including outages, should continue to be reported to Eversource at 800-592-2000.
For questions or concerns about the CEA program, or if you would like to opt out of or leave the program, please contact Public Power, LLC at (800) 830-2944, or email them at email@example.com.
Visit www.masscea.com for additional information about the Community Electricity Aggregation program.
Bump Calls on DCF to Take Proactive Approach to Protecting Children
Despite Reforms, Audit Finds Gunshot Wounds, Serious Burns, and Head Contusions Undetected by DCF
NOTE: Auditor Bump will host a media availability in her State House Office (Room 230) at 1:00 p.m. today to discuss this audit’s findings and recommendations.
BOSTON, MA — An audit of the Department of Children and Families released today by State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found reforms to date have not enabled the agency to take a proactive approach to protecting the children in its care. The audit found that DCF:
· Is not using all of the tools at its disposal to detect all serious bodily injury to children already in its custody,
· Is not reporting all of these injuries to its oversight agency, the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), and
· Is not ensuring that all potentially criminal actions are referred to the District Attorney’s offices for investigation or prosecution.
In addition to these findings, Auditor Bump is also calling on DCF to consider sexual abuse a critical incident, a designation which triggers immediate investigative action. “How can the agency not consider sexual abuse a serious injury to a child? It defies logic,” Bump stated.
Bump found that during the two year audit period, DCF was unaware of 260 incidents of what appeared to be serious bodily injury to children in its care. These incidents include: a 15-year-old with brain damage from a firearm injury, a 1-year-old with first- and second-degree burns on multiple body parts, and a 12-year-old with multiple head contusions that a physician determined were a result of an assault. The audit notes that this deficiency was a result of DCF relying on others to report occurrences of serious bodily injury to children rather than utilizing data sources that they have at their fingertips.
In order to establish a more proactive approach, Bump called on DCF to use MassHealth data to proactively identify incidents of serious bodily injury to children in its care. This data provides records of all medical treatments provided to an enrolled member that are billed to the program. Children in DCF care that have been removed from their home are enrolled in MassHealth, and DCF currently has access to claims data for these children but is not using it as a tool to identify serious medical incidents. In its response, DCF indicated it has not yet taken action to implement this recommendation because it did not believe this data was timely. Bump noted that despite DCF assertions, her office’s analysis shows that MassHealth claims data is timely and an effective tool to identify medical incidents involving children in DCF care.
“The children entrusted into DCF care are among the most vulnerable residents of the Commonwealth. This audit found that despite reforms, victimization of children in DCF’s care continues to occur unnoticed by the agency,” Bump said. “The work of DCF is incredibly difficult and extremely important. This is why it is so critical that the agency uses all of the tools at its disposal, such as MassHealth claims data, to identify and investigate physical harm to children in its care.”
A recent audit from Bump’s office found a similar pattern of poor data-sharing at the Sex Offender Registry Board.
Bump’s audit also noted that DCF does not consider sexual abuse a critical incident, and therefore does not report it to the Office of the Child Advocate (OCA), which is tasked with ensuring children involved in state care receive timely, safe, humane, and effective services. Defined by state law, critical incidents are those events that result in a fatality, near fatality, or serious bodily injury of a child. Bump’s office found 118 incidents of sexual abuse of a child in DCF care that were not reported to OCA. These incidents included two male employees at different DCF-contracted residential facilities who sexually abused three girls each; a 10-year-old who was raped by his father; a 4-year-old who was sexually abused by her mother; and a 17-year-old who was gang-raped by five assailants. In one case, a male who had sexually abused one child, abused the child’s sibling less than one year later. While officials indicated these incidents were investigated by DCF staff in collaboration with law enforcement, they told Bump’s staff that these occurrences did not meet the definition of a critical incident, and therefore were not reported to OCA. As a result of the audit, DCF indicated it is collaborating with OCA to address this issue.
“Clearly, we as a society must do more to confront and address sexual abuse. To say, as DCF has asserted, that sexual abuse should not be considered a critical incident, defies logic,” Bump said. “Again, by not reporting incidents of sexual abuse to the Office of the Child Advocate, the Department is hindering this important voice for children.”
Bump noted that DCF is taking other steps in response to the audit to enhance its work, including:
· Centralizing its reporting of critical incidents in which children in its care are involved;
· Updating its procedures for referring incidents of abuse, neglect, and/or sexual abuse of children to district attorneys’ offices for investigation; and
· Recording child-on-child injuries in case files.
Bump’s office has previously found management deficiencies related to DCF’s foster care program.
DCF provides services to children 0 through 21 years of age who are at risk or have been victims of abuse or neglect, as well as their families. It provides services such as adoption/guardianship, foster care, housing stabilization, family support and stabilization, adolescent services, protective services, and other in-home supports to reduce risks to children. In Fiscal Year 2017, it served an average of 51,882 children each month and had an annual appropriation of $908 million.
A copy of the audit can be found online here.
About the Office of the State Auditor
The Office of the State Auditor conducts performance audits of state government’s programs, departments, agencies, authorities, contracts, and vendors. With its reports, the OSA issues recommendations to improve accountability, efficiency, and transparency. The OSA has identified approximately $1.3 billion in unallowable, questionable, or potentially fraudulent spending and saving opportunities for the Commonwealth since 2011. Last year, auditees report implementation of 92 percent of the OSA’s audit recommendations. The office received the Einhorn-Gary Award for its success furthering government accountability.
Bristol Community College opens Blue Center for water technologies IN RESPONSE TO GROWING NEED FOR DRINKING WATER AND WASTEWATER INDUSTRY TECHNICIANS
The Bristol Community College Blue Center for Water Technologies has been established in response to the growing need for drinking water and wastewater industry technicians. Serving as an innovative model training center, the Blue Center features a functioning model conventional water treatment plant, a functioning wastewater treatment plant providing clean water for our aquaculture system, and a pond and groundwater monitoring well.
The training facility’s other capabilities include surface water and groundwater sampling, PH testing, groundwater simulators, pump operation and maintenance training, renewable energy training, and chlorine residual analysis, and more.
A lending laboratory at the Blue Center was also created to lend the facilities’ equipment to area high schools and colleges to expand the reach of the mission of the center. Institutions may borrow equipment for a semester or more to help begin their programs and become familiar with the specialized equipment.
The Blue Center was established during a Bristol Community College Presidential Fellowship when a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant proposal was developed and submitted in the fall of 2015. In the spring of 2016, NSF ATE awarded the college $602,0001 for the New England Water Treatment Training (NEWTT) project. The project is designed to develop and/or enhance drinking water and wastewater education programs in community colleges throughout New England. Funding from this grant was used to enhance the Blue Center’s laboratory capabilities.
The NEWTT grant, together with the Blue Center, are working with representatives from the water industry, as well as academia and local and state governments to develop curricula to meet the needs of the water industry. The center’s programs train students to be ready for employment in municipal and privately operated facilities, and include an active internship program for students to participate in tours of these facilities.
For more information about BCC’s Blue Center for Water Technologies, please contact Professor Robert Rak, Environmental Science and Technology Coordinator, by calling 774.357.2771 or email Robert.Rak@bristolcc.edu.
RED SOX TO HOST 15TH ANNUAL
“CHRISTMAS AT FENWAY” EVENT DECEMBER 16
Registration Open Now Through December 11 for the Chance to Attend;
Tickets for the 2018 Season go on Sale December 16 at 10 a.m.
BOSTON, MA – The Red Sox will once again host a family-friendly winter event at Fenway Park for fans to enjoy some holiday cheer and for the guaranteed opportunity to purchase Red Sox tickets for the 2018 season. The 15th annual Christmas at Fenway event will take place Saturday, December 16, at Fenway Park. Registration for the chance to attend is open now through Monday, December 11, at noon on redsox.com.
Christmas at Fenway will include photo opportunities with Wally, Tessie, Santa, and Red Sox alumni. The event starts at 8 a.m. and will conclude at 4 p.m. The festivities will be located in the Gate B area of Fenway Park with Wally and Tessie’s Winter Wonderland, a holiday bouncy house for kids, rides through the concourse on a trackless train, a yard sale, Frosty the Snowman, and photos with Santa in his workshop. Mastercard cardholders will have a special “fast pass” line for photos with Santa.
Fans not attending the December 16 Christmas at Fenway event can still purchase select 2018 single-game tickets for April, May, and September games, as well as the popular “Sox Pax.” Starting at 10 a.m., tickets will be available on redsox.com and by phone at 877-REDSOX9. Fans who require ADA accessible seating may call 877-REDSOX9. Hearing impaired fans may call the Red Sox TTY line at (617) 226-6644. Mastercard is the preferred payment of the Boston Red Sox.
“Sox Pax,” presented by Mastercard, are packs of three or four games with a variety of date and seat options, including Interleague games, summer weekend games, and matchups against the Yankees. A list of the 9 Sox Pax available for the 2018 season is attached.
Single-game tickets will include select April, May, and September home games, including matchups versus the Rays, April 7-8; Yankees, April 10-12; Orioles, April 13-15; Rays, April 27-29; Royals, April 30-May 2; Athletics, May 14-16; Orioles, May 18-20; Braves, May 25-27; Blue Jays, September 11-13; Mets, September 14-16; and the Orioles, September 24-26.
There will be a limit of three Sox Pax (up to four tickets each) per person, and 12 single game tickets per transaction.
The Red Sox will also reveal promotional giveaways taking place in 2018 on the Red Sox’ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts starting Monday, December 11. Games with giveaways will be available for purchase starting December 16.