WSAR NEWS Archives for 2019-10

Fiola Co-Sponsoring New Legislation In Regards To Legal Cannabis

One of the members among the Bristol Delegation is co-sponsoring legislation seeking to restrict recreational cannabis locations to a 500 foot radius of “sober houses” along with inpatient and outpatient treatment centers. 


Bristol’s Sixth District State Representative Carole Fiola found that a ton of people were surprised as to where cannabis locations can be designated.


In a conversation with WSAR News, Fiola told us she has been speaking with people from across the Commonwealth and surprised as to their knowledge on this topical matter. 


"We have, in law right now, that a cannabis facility cannot be sited within 500 feet of a K-12 education facility,” she said. “In the time that facilities have been sited and everybody is getting up and running, a lot of people are now starting to pay more attention out in the community.” 


Fiola continued, “I have had a number of people throughout the state, as well as around here saying to me, 'really, you can site directly across the street from a treatment center?"


Pieces of legislation still exist in committee that were created in regards to alleged widespread malfeasance in the issuing of letters of non-opposition and host agreements.


"Another piece of legislation that I did indeed file currently sitting in our Cannabis Joint Committee to be evaluated is the one where we're adding on to address the fact that one sole municipal official, in our case a strong mayor form of government, would not be the only one required to sign off on a host-community agreement," Fiola told WSAR. 

UMass Dartmouth Lauded for Being Green

The Princeton Review's Guide to Green Colleges, in their 2019 Edition, has named the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth Campus as one of the nation's most environmentally responsible colleges for the 8th consecutive year. 


Administrators at U-Mass Dartmouth indicate that they continue to monitor food waste and shredded paper. 


Umass Dartmouth also began the creation of the largest public battery storage system in the Commonwealth, in an effort to reduce the electrical load from the grid during peak storage times.


College applicants and their parents have concerns about the environment and sustainability; among the nearly 12-thousand teens and parents that were surveyed as part of a ''hopes and worries'' survey; 64% said that having information about a school's commitment to the environment would influence their decision. 






The Town Of Somerset's Issues With The Owners Of The Brayton Point Site

There has been little communication between the St. Louis-based owners of the Brayton Point Commerce Center and the community of Somerset since the cooling towers were demolished earlier in the year, according to Somerset Selectmen Member Holly McNamara.


A verbal agreement that was allegedly made between administrators in Somerset and C.D.C  is at the center of ongoing discussions after a series of fires have broken out over the last year.


This was first reported by the digital edition of the Fall River Herald News.


WSAR spoke withMcNamara about the issue who said a sense of confusion remains between the town and C.D.C.


"No one was allowed to do anything,” she claimed. “The C.D.C admitted in public that no one allowed them to do anything. No one approved anything."


Another selectmen member, David Berube, indicated a short time ago two new business entities in Eastern Metal Recycling and Allied Salt would be able to operate prior to the normal approval process with the Zoning Board of Appeals along with the Planning Board. 


“I don't know why Mr. Berube referred to it that way,” McNamara said to WSAR in regards to Berube’s indication of things. “I think what he was trying to say is what all of us were trying to say.”


“The only agreement was that the building department was forcing C.D.C to go and force the E.M.R company to go through the approval process for the change of use for that portion of the sight,” she continued. “The selectmen can't simply go down there and tell them to do whatever they want to do. That's not our job."


The Somerset Selectmen member went on to add that social media posts on the various platforms are doing nothing to help the situation.


"A lot of frustrating things are on social media where people are kicking up the dust and twisting a lot of words around,” McNamara said. “It's actually hysteria. They're claiming that someone is lining  their pockets. That's just not happening."

Water Quality Issues Continue In Swansea

Water quality has been an issue in the town of Swansea for years now. Various social media groups have been formed in that time in hopes of dealing with the issue through awareness and communicating the problem.


An e-mail has been released from August from The Chair of Swansea Water District which was sent to Swansea Board of Selectmen Member Steve Kitchin.


Jim Hall in the message to Kitchin said “I’d be lying if I said we don’t have our work cut out for us in the next 18 months.”


Hall went on to write that “a strong positive support by B.O.S goes a long way to fight the downers and village idiots in town.”


In a separate posting on social media. Hall went on to say his “village idiots” comment in the e-mail did not refer to Swansea residents or those in town suffering from various water issues.


Community activists in Swansea have recently filed various Freedom Of Information Act requests that have been rejected as well as overtures to state and federal investigators.

Correia And Andrade Interim Status Conference Set For December 9

The soon-to-be former Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia and his former Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager Gen Andrade will have their attorneys in federal court in Boston on December 9th.


This interim status conference date was posted on PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) after it was determined that discovery materials related to Correia and Andrade are over 74,000 pages for a second indictment unsealed in September. 


Correia now faces 24 counts - 13 that initiated discover on over 16,000 pages of material as well as more than 56,000 related to a superseding indictment concerning 11 counts related to bribery, extortion and aiding and abetting extortion in relation to letters of non-opposition and host agreements regarding at least five potential cannabis retailers.


(the photo in this story produced by the Fall River Herald News)

What Happened At The Most Recent Fall River City Council Session

At the Fall River City Council Session Tuesday evening a resolution was sent to a future finance committee session that seeks to “rescind all remaining streetscape bond authorizations and authorize bonding for roadway infrastructure improvements."


Several people spoke at citizen’s input in favor of the continuation of the initiative. 


City Council Member Shawn Cadime said ultimately the idea of streetscapes was a failure. 


"I think streetscapes in itself was just a disaster,” he said. “There were some benefits to it but when we look at the amount of money we invested in the infrastructure and what we got out of it, is a bit lacking.” 


Cadime claimed the council is trying to do things the right way.


“This council is looking to just make sure that any new projects we start working on whether it be streetscapes or under any other name that its done properly in a coordinated effort."


The council also approved a pair of tax increment exemptions for a pair new apartment buildings near downtown Fall River.


One is for Downtown Development Companies LLC located at 30 Third Street as explained by the City Administrator. 


"I would advise the city council just that back in April you approved a T.I.E agreement for the Downtown Development Group and we're pleased to say their project has been especially successful," Cathy Ann Viveiros said.


This project will cost $5.5 million and will build out 18 new market rate apartments.


The second T.I.E agreement will be located in the 700 block of Davoil Street and will be cost double.


"This project represents an investment of eleven million dollars in total and they will actually be creating forty-nine units and forty of those market-rate with nine as affordable units," Viveiros told the Council.


Both projects could be complete within a year.

Paul Schmid Talks New Football Legislation

A member of the Bristol Delegation is sponsoring legislation that would seek to have tackle football ineligible for any child to participate who have not yet reached the seventh grade.


Bristol's Eighth District State Representative wants to lower the risk of future health problems due to head injury. 


"I have a controversial bill that would say, ‘let's not have tackle football for kids until the seventh grade,” Paul Schmid told WSAR. 


He continued, “A lot of studies have shown that hits to the head are not good for you and the younger you start those hits, the worse it can become."


The topic continues to be discussed on Beacon Hill as Schmid said he has been researching locally at various practices.


"I've attended a number of practices here in Fall River of youth football,” he said. “It's wonderful what they do for the kids, giving them something after school and an outdoor, athletic activity. It gets them away from their smartphone and giving them adult guidance."


Ultimately, the representative told WSAR he wants to kickoff a conversation on when young people start playing the sport.


"Kids football programs are wonderful,” Schmid said. “I just want to get people talking about whether it is ok to be in a position of receiving hits to the head at a young age."

Fall River's Acting Mayor Discusses Cannabis In The City

The Acting Fall River Mayor Cliff Ponte has told WSAR he will not be signing any additional letters of non-opposition or host agreements for potential cannabis retailers.


The Cannabis Control Commission and members of the Massachusetts House would like to look at what has happened in the city of Fall River after the soon-to-be former Mayor Jasiel Correia II was charged with 11 additional counts of extortion and aiding and abetting extortion regarding at least five different holders.


Ponte talked about any potential role he will have in this process.


"I haven't had those discussions yet,” he said. “That file is with Corporation Counsel. He has the experience and the wherewithal and the research that his team is doing to respond to the Cannabis Control Commission. I'm not going to be signing any letters of non-opposition or any of that stuff."


The Acting Mayor said the City Council’s Vice President has been working on a proposal that would follow a method used in New Bedford.


"I know Council Vice President (Pam Lalibirte) LeBeau has been working with me more on a one-on-one basis to develop an ordinance that New Bedford has where they kind of have an oversight committee that these marijuana companies go to and deliver a presentation,” Ponte said. “It goes before that oversight committee, then the planning board and then the city council."


Though Ponte says he will not be involved in signing letters of non-opposition or host agreements, the Acting Mayor says discussions still need to be had. 


"Unfortunately, we were kind of late to the game,” he said. “I think we need to start having those discussions. I'm sure Councilor LeBeau, who has been working with me as council leadership for the last couple of years and at least most recently the last couple of weeks, will. With respect to this, I think that's important but that's where I'm at and where we're at as a community."

Somerset And The Issues At Brayton Point

The relationship between the town of Somerset and the current owners of the Brayton Point Power Plant site has been strained this Fall.


According to selectmen member Holly McNamara, St. Louis-based C.D.C has been less than forthcoming about their plans for demolition as well as other pieces of information.


McNamara told WSAR News there were issues leading up to the demolition of the cooling towers earlier this year. 


She also told us about an unplanned demolition that took place over the Summer and how the town is attempting to try to maintain open and truthful discussions.


"C.D.C took ownership of not informing us,” she said. “We gave them a hard time. From the get-go, we've been pushing for open and honest communication so we can especially communicate to the residents what's going on. That has not been the case, whatsoever."


McNamara explained the situation that happened in the late Summer at the site in which the town was not aware of.


"The town administrator put out a letter on behalf of the building and fire departments, as well as my board,” she said. “Back in August, there was a loud boom and a smoke cloud. No one was aware of why there would be either of those things. No one called it in.” 


The Somerset selectmen member continued, “The fire department took it upon themselves to go down there with the building department and the inspector. They discovered, at the time, they had demolished an additional portion of the building out-of-permit."


The unplanned demolition led to a fire. 


"There was a fire because of the demo,” McNamara said. “That was a huge problem. They put them through the process of getting a permit for demolition. It was a completely different company that did the cooling towers. Whoever this company was thought they could do whatever they wanted."


A series of fires at the Brayton Point site has halted further demolition efforts as the C.D.C has been asked to solve water pressure problems and install more hydrants.

Correia Takes Leave Of Absence From Office Of Mayor

Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II confirmed at a media event on Tuesday at the construction site of the new B.M.C Durfee High School that he will be stepping away from his duties as mayor as well as suspending his campaign for a third full term.


"I'm here today to officially announce my decision to forgo my campaign for re-election as Mayor of Fall River and take a temporary absence from my responsibilities as the mayor of the city,” Correia said. “Those duties will now be handled by the City Council President.” 


Correia did not elaborate on what a leave of absence actually means and if he has plans to return to office in the final weeks of his term. 


“I will continue as mayor until January 1st, 2020,” Correia continued. “I will focus the remaining time and my attention on championing and supporting many of the impactful social programs that I have established during my administration."


City Council President Cliff Ponte is now the acting mayor of the city of Fall River. Correia sent Ponte a letter on Tuesday indicating at 4:00 p.m on that same day he would relinquish his powers of office. 


Within the letter, Correia invoked section 3-8 of the city charter, telling Ponte that Correia would be “temporarily absent” from his position as mayor and for an “indefinite period” prior to the second day of next year.


In closing, Correia said administrative staff are to cooperate and assist Ponte in any way necessary. He ended the letter with four words for Ponte - “with all good wishes.”


Ponte was on with former mayor Will Flanagan on WSAR on the same Tuesday and talked about the transitional process of becoming acting mayor. 


"This afternoon (Tuesday afternoon), I did have a pretty lengthy meeting with Jasiel, as well as Corporation Counsel,” Ponte said. “The City Clerk was present at that meeting, as well. It happened in the City Law Department. We had a very good meeting, a transitional meeting per say. It was very professional and cordial.” 


The city council president and now acting mayor of Fall River told Flangan that Correia worked with him as much as possible.


“Jasiel was very forthcoming with information with things that are in the works and what the administration and finance team are working on,” he said. “He made himself available to me at any point in time that I need to reach out and ask him a question."


When asked about “The People’s Tahoe,” the vehicle Correia used in his tenor as mayor, Ponte said the keys to the vehicle are in possession of the city’s police chief.


Ponte said ultimately he just wants to bring stability back to Fall River. 


"I'm here and I'm reachable,” he said. “I am not doing this in any way, shape or form with any additional pay. The only pay I'll continue to receive is my city council salary. I'm not asking for additional money.”


Ponte said Correia continuing to receive a salary is not his issue at this moment. 


“I know the mayor keeping his salary is a concern to some but that isn't my fight at this point,” he claimed. “I just want to calm things down. I want to bring some stability to the office of mayor and city government itself."


Fall River City Clerk Alison Bouchard confirmed to WSAR that Ponte will not have to be sworn in. He will become the first acting mayor since Bill Whitey replaced Ed Lambert back in 2007.


The preliminary winner in September, however, continues his campaign. In a conversation with WSAR,  School Committee member Paul Coogan thinks Correia should have resigned not just take a leave of absence.


"Nothing is simple with Jasiel,” he said. “I think it would have been better if he just resigned. He left the door open with the temporary leave until January 1 and all those things. I think he has far bigger problems than being mayor in Fall River. He should have focused, full-time, working on those things."


The 3rd place finisher in September’s preliminary released a statement on Tuesday in regards to this situation. Erica Scott-Pacheco indicated that while supporters are free to write her in for mayor, she will be run as a write-in contender.


She said it was “shameful” that he did not remove his name from the November ballot prior to the September 23 deadline, depring Fall River voters from having a legitimate choice on their ballot.


Correia took no questions from reporters at the event. He also did not mention his 24 count federal indictment, his February trial next year, or his plans for future employment. Looking for work or being employed is a condition of his agreement with federal prosecutors that allows him to remain a free man.


The now-former mayor did say his leave would likely be a temporary one. 


"I will never waiver in my commitment to the people of Fall River,” Correia claimed. “Today is not good-bye. It's far from it. Whether serving in an official capacity as an elected official, or not, I will continue to fight every day to improve the lives of every resident of the great city of Fall River. I fully expect to lead this city on the rise once again in the future. Let's make it here."

Congressman Kennedy Talks Impeachment Inquiry Into President Trump

Massachusetts Fourth District Congressman Joseph Kennedy III was in Fall River Friday morning delivering an address to a symposium tasked with finding solutions to the issue of poverty and income imbalance in the Commonwealth.


In a conversation with the Congressman, WSAR asked about his thoughts and reactions to the ongoing impeachment process aimed at President Trump. He first addressed the public comments the President made about China


"The President's own statements and actions in broad daylight, in public, I believe constitute an impeachable offense,” Kennedy said. “Asking a foreign nation, in this case China, on live television to investigate a political rival for his own gain is illegal, unconscionable and never should have happened in the first place."


The Commonwealth Representative also talked about the whistleblower complaint in Ukraine.


"The call that raised these concerns took place the day after Director Mueller testified on Capitol Hill about the findings of his report," he said. “So now you got three concrete countries, let alone multiple instances where the President has asked from foreign nations to interfere on our democracy and our electoral process."


The process is still underway, says Kennedy. They are currently in the phase of attaining all of the information possible. 


"When it comes to the underlying issues alleged in the current series of circumstances around Ukraine and China, the House needs to get as much information as we possibly can so you're able to relate to the American public exactly what happened," Kennedy said.


The Congressman is currently in the midst of a senate campaign for the Democratic Nomination in 2020 as he tries to unseat current Junior Democratic Senator Ed Markey.

New Swansea Mall Site Updates

Richard Anagost of the Anagost Company joined Chris Carreiro on WSAR Wednesday afternoon to speak on their complex proposal for the the now Swansea Mall-area.


Over time the components of the space be re-developed beginning with the former Apex site.


"We’re envisioning a lifestyle-center,” Anagost said. “It will have experiential retail. It will have a residential component. It will have a storage component. It will have an office component which is what we're working on right now.”


The storage component will take up the former Apex space.


“We're going to propose approximately 100,000 square feet where the old Apex portion was to be storage units,” Anagost said “It will be climate-controlled with about 800 units. We're redoing the entire building all the way around."


The head of the New Hampshire-based developer laid out the phases of the process which are currently under negotiation. Part of the initial proposal is market-rate apartments.


"Phase 1-C will be 110,000 square feet of retail shops,” he said. “Some of them were there. Some of them we're currently negotiating.”


Obviously, before C comes B, says Anagost.


“They'll be a Phase 1-B,” he said. “That will consist of 144 apartments - two 72-unit buildings. One of them has parking under while the other has parking on the side. They'll be approximately 16 one-bedroom units, 96 two-bedroom units and  32 three-bedroom units.”


He continued, “Those will all be at market-rate. There is no affordable housing proposed in this project."


Artist renderings of the ideas being circulated will be made available;e likely by the end of the week. They will be e-mailed to various stakeholders who have asked for potential visuals. 


While rezoning will have to be approved, developers can continue to roll out various phases of how they envision the complex to take shape.

Cadime Wants To Improve Capital Improvement Plan

In a series of exclusive interviews with all of the Fall River City Council finalists appearing on the November 5 ballot, Will Flanagan will dedicate thirty minutes to each contender on his program on WSAR.


Incumbent Councilor Shawn Cadime was up first on Monday and Flanagan first asked what the most important thing for him is as a city councilor. 


"Holding people accountable is the biggest thing for me,” he said. “I think I get a lot of grief from people who want to label me as an obstructionist. My stance has always been that I'm not afraid to say what I truly feel and what I think is right for the city.”


Cadime said he won’t do or say anything to just move things along.


“Sometimes, a lot of people just want to approve things to get along because that's how they feel you work within an administration,” the incumbent said. “I, for one, just want to speak up on items that are either not appropriate or wasn't in the best interest of the city."


Cadime went on to say he works with his peers even if he doesn’t agree with their views. 


"I work closely with my colleagues to try to assist them with any ideas that they may have even if I don't necessarily agree with them.” he said. “Behind the scenes, I just try to give them the information they need or point them in the right direction of where to go so they can find out the information they need to find out in order to lobby for their constituents and what their beliefs are."


One subject the city council member said needs improvement is the capital improvement plan. 


"We haven't addressed capital improvement,” Cadime said. “Our capital improvement plan only includes the Department of Public Works, the Police Department and the Fire Department, as well as some buildings.” 


He went on to say its a limited plan.


“We have no capital planning for the school department,” Cadime claimed. “We don't see it for the other departments in the city and I think that's just some of the things we need to do a little bit better."


The general election in Fall River will be on Tuesday November 5th.

A Conversation With Cannabis Control Commission Chairman Steven Hoffman

As the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission continues to sort through the situation in the city of Fall River where the licensure process has come to a halt, other wide-ranging issues continue to remain as hurdles on the cannabis industry’s path. 


WSAR news spoke with the Chairman of the Commission in the wake of the licensing process coming to a stand-still. He told us that a major goal for the entire industry right now, especially in the Commonwealth, is to eventually be apart of various chambers of commerce and accepted as doing legitimate business.


"I talked to a lot of chambers of commerce,” Steven Hoffman said. “What I say is that 'I'd like to come back here in the not-too-distant-future and see in this room people that are running licensed marijuana establishments sitting at the table next to each of you.' Because what I hope and want to see happen is that this is a normal business over time and viewed as an asset to the communities in which they operate. It generates jobs and tax revenues. I want them to be good neighbors." 


Another legitimate business aspect Hoffman said he’d like to see this industry make its way into is the right to use banks and banking services.


"There's lots of legislation being considered right now on the federal level,” he said. “I'm hopeful that it's going to happen but until then we have no choice but to do our job under the state law.”


He continued, “And what I think part of what our job is to try and help more banks come into this industry to provide at least cash management services from a public safety perspective."

The Cannabis Control Commission Responds...

In a letter released by the Cannabis Control Commission this week, Corporation Counsel Joseph Macy was informed that as of mid-September they received applications for licensure as an adult-use cannabis establishment from two entities. The letter was dated for September 19 of this year.


The Commission indicated that marijuana establishment licenses were issued to four entities while seven medical treatment center licenses have been granted.


They asked in the letter a recertification process commence, with Macy to determine if each applicant was in compliance with local permits, rules, regulations and ordinances. 


Northeast Alternatives is the only recreational cannabis dispensary in operation in the city while two medicinal locations are open - Hope Heal and Health and Nature’s Medicines. Provisional licenses were given to those two as well as Greener Leaf.


This will also include the 14 holders of letters of non-opposition and host agreements, five of which were part of the superseding indictment involving Fall River Jasiel Correia II, unsealed by prosecutors last month. 


The Vice President of the City Council Pam Laliberte-Lebeau asked Macy to hold off on any recertification asking corporation counsel to ask the commission for more time if needed to allow for the council to discuss with Macy in a public forum. 


The Bristol delegation was also informed of this, also. Bristol Sixth District State Representative Carole Fiola noted the required public meetings with residents happened in the majority of cases after host agreements were already signed. She asked that the various letters be added to the council packed on October 8 and that Macy be there to answer questions of council members. 


"There was no way for them to have any valid input because it was after the host community agreement,” she said. “One of the regulations I discussed with the chairman and he appears to really agree - that a public meeting must be held prior to issuing that host community agreement."


Fiola said she wants a future Cannabis Control Commission meeting in Fall River to happen soon.

D.P.H New Vaping Numbers

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting that 5 additional cases of vaping-associated pulmonary injury with two confirmed and three probable--to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bringing the statewide total of reported cases to 10.


5 of the cases are confirmed and 5 are considered probable for the CDC’s criteria.


At least 83 suspected vaping related pulmonary cases have been reported to the DPH since September 11.


Among the 10 cases that are considered confirmed or probable, most patients are under 20, or between 40 and 49.


7 of the 10 Massachusetts cases are women, with 8 of 10 requiring hospitalization.


The bulk of the cases involving vaping nicotine and THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.


More than two-thirds of patients nationally are male, with a median age of 23 years of age, with more than 60% of patients between the ages of 18-34; Many used a product with THC.


No single product has been linked to all cases of lung injury.