From the region.
$5K raise and $2K bonus for school chief
LEOMINSTER - The School Committee is pleased with its new school superintendent.
The committee Monday night voted to give Superintendent James R. Jolicoeur, who was hired in July 2011, a $5,000 salary raise and a $2,000 bonus.
The raise will increase Mr. Jolicoeur's salary to $160,000 a year.
The bonus, described as a one-time payment and not part of a salary raise, was in recognition of Mr. Jolicoeur's "outstanding performance in the 2011-2012 school year" according to the motion made by school board Co-Chairman Donna M. DiNinno.
SJC disciplines lawyer for unprofessional work
WORCESTER - A Worcester lawyer has been disciplined by the Supreme Judicial Court for violation of rules of professional conduct.
The court levied a six-month suspension against Stephen J. Ellis but stayed the suspension for two years. The penalty was imposed Sept. 6 after it was jointly agreed upon by Mr. Ellis and the state Board of Bar Overseers.
Mr. Ellis, whose practice address is listed as 17 Mechanic St., was admitted to the bar in 1994.
The discipline stems from complaints from two clients. In one of the cases, Mr. Ellis's firm was hired in 2008 by a person who was seriously injured in a slip and fall accident in a restaurant parking lot.
The Board of Bar Overseers faulted Mr. Ellis for failing to oppose a motion to dismiss his client's suit and failure to seek reconsideration of a summary judgment against his client when it would have been prudent to do so after the SJC changed the rules days later in a similar case. He also failed to reply to his client's inquiries and inform her of the summary judgment.
In a case in which he was hired by a disabled client in April 2010 in a disputed inheritance case, Mr. Ellis charged a $5,000 fee. The board characterized the fee as "substantially unearned and clearly excessive in the circumstances."
Mr. Ellis' violations included incompetent preparation of paperwork
for his client and failure to take substantial action on her behalf, as well as failure to give a prompt reply to the client's inquiries, retaining a clearly excessive fee for his services and failure to refund the unearned portion of it promptly, according to the board.
The penalty includes a requirement to provide any information requested by the Law Office Management Assistance Program and allow that program to inspect and audit his law office practices, and to follow LOMAP's subsequent directives. The organization is funded by Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, a private nonprofit corporation that assists impaired lawyers.
Mr. Ellis also is required to maintain legal malpractice insurance with minimum liability limits of $500,000 per case and $1 million in the aggregate and to attend a one-day course on ethics and law office management.
California suspect held on $250,000 bail
DUDLEY - A 46-year-old Allston man wanted for a stabbing 11 years ago in California was held on $250,000 bail yesterday.
Young Park was ordered held on $250,000 bail at his arraignment on a charge of being a fugitive from justice. Mr. Park returns Oct. 15 to Dudley District Court, at which time a Korean interpreter will be provided. Mr. Park signed an extradition waiver.
He was arrested by state police during a traffic stop on Interstate 84 in Sturbridge about 2:30 a.m. Monday, a police report said.
Trooper Michael T. Doktor was observing traffic near a weigh station when he saw the Honda Accord Mr. Park was driving, checked the registration and found it had been canceled, the report said.
After being stopped the driver gave the trooper his name and date of birth. The Registry of Motor Vehicles check confirmed Mr. Park was unlicensed. A check of the National Crime Information Center revealed a warrant out of Torrance, Calif., for a homicide, the report said.
In an interview yesterday, Torrance police Sgt. Robert Watt said the warrant is in fact for attempted murder.
The sergeant said Mr. Park was involved in a December 2001 stabbing. Officers responded to a fight and the investigation discovered Mr. Park was "involved in a stabbing/attempted murder against an unknown suspect." He has never been interviewed, and investigators filed for the warrant that month. The district attorney for the California city has given approval for Torrance police to pick up Mr. Park through the extradition process, Sgt. Watt said.
Yesterday, the warrant papers in the Dudley court crossed out the term "murder" and wrote in its place "attempted murder."
Funding, Tahanto matters face town meeting votes
BOYLSTON - Voters will have two overlooked issues to correct when special town meeting convenes at 7 p.m. Monday at Tahanto Regional High School
Article 1 seeks to move up to $230,000 from the account in which Hillside Municipal Complex rents and fees are deposited into an account from which money may be spent.
This is a routine article at each spring town meeting that, this year, was inadvertently left off the warrant.
The error was discovered soon after the start of the fiscal year on July 1, when the town tried to pay bills from the account.
The money is not tax money, but comes mostly from the renting of space at Hillside by the Massachusetts Criminal Justice Training Center, a state police training agency, and from other money collected during the year. It is typically used for routine maintenance and salaries and equipment for that purpose.
This year, Town Administrator Martin H. McNamara is seeking to take about $48,000 more than usual from the account to deal with repair issues that have been overlooked, and could create water damage if not addressed.
Article 2 gives a specific date to the already-approved change of adding sixth grade to the Tahanto Regional School System. The change, which required approval of both Berlin and Boylston, was approved by voters in November 2009. However, the previous article read "upon the opening of the new school."
After a discussion with an official from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Superintendent Nadine G. Ekstrom said a specific date must be added to the regional agreement.
In addition, the town did not factor the change from a town expense to a regional assessment into the current budget, which means the money would not be in the regional budget to absorb the new grade, nor would the state aid formula account for the students.
Article 2 will make that date effective July 1, the start of the fiscal year. Students already in the school will move into the new building in January, if all goes according to schedule. The sixth grade will move in September.
Public may drop off unused, unwanted drugs
NORTHBRIDGE - People looking to get unused prescription drugs out of their homes can take part in a national Prescription Drug Take Back Program on Sept. 29.
The national program is being conducted by police in conjunction with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Pharmaceutical controlled substances and other medications may be dropped off from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Police Department, 1 Hope St. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.
Police say expired, unused or unwanted controlled substances in homes are a potential source of supply for abuse of pharmaceutical drugs and a risk to public health and safety.
Youth Summit Saturday on the Town Common
SOUTHBRIDGE - The first annual Southbridge Youth Summit will be noon to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Town Common.
For ages 12 to 19, the event is a celebration of youth power, for teens by teens.
There will be free lunch, raffle prizes, music and information tables.
Organized by the Voices with Choices staff at the nonprofit Youth Opportunities Upheld Inc., the event will be held rain or shine.
2-alarm fire damages tornado-hit home
STURBRIDGE - A two-alarm fire damaged a home at 13 Willard Road last night.
Chief Leonard Senecal said there were no injuries, and the fire was brought under control in about 15 minutes. Still, there was heavy fire damage to rooms in the ground floor and basement of the stone-walled ranch house near Route 131. There was also heavy smoke and water damage to significant portions of the house, he said.
The state fire marshal's office was called in, and the cause of the fire remained under investigation, Chief Senecal said.
Homeowner Mark Willis said he was returning home and noticed the door was warm. He called 911, and Chief Senecal said when firefighters arrived smoke was pouring out of the house.
The fire was reported just after 8 p.m.; only one fire engine remained at the scene at 9:30 p.m. Firefighters from Southbridge also responded, Chief Senecal said.
Mr. Willis said last year's tornado ripped through his neighborhood, damaging his roof and destroying a sunroom off the back of the house. Several trees on his property were also blown down, he said. He couldn't believe this was happening again, he said.
Window smashed, fire started at church
WORCESTER - Someone smashed a window at a church on Clark Street last night and started a fire, which was out by the time the pastor discovered the damage, police said.
The pastor of Bethany Gospel Chapel, 242 Clark St., reported he found a rear window smashed when he arrived at the building at 6:30 p.m., and saw the curtains were burned and the window was charred both inside and out, police said in a news release. A rock had been thrown through the window, police said.
Nothing appeared to be missing from the nondenominational Christian church, police said. The pastor told police the church has had no problems with anyone in the area or within the congregation.
Anyone with information about the incident may send an anonymous text to 274637 beginning with TIPWPD, or submit an anonymous message online via www.worcesterma.gov/police, or call police detectives at (508) 799-8651.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/STEVE LANAVA
CUTLINE: SEPTEMBER STRETCHES - Members of the Notre Dame Academy cross-country team warm up on the school's lawn before taking a run Friday.