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Voters approve purchase of system from Aquarion

OXFORD - Town meeting voters last night decided by two votes that the town should get into the water business and appropriated $6.7 million to purchase the local water system from Aquarion Water Co.

The vote, taken after three hours of discussion, was 331-163, with a two-thirds vote required; 329 votes were needed of the 494 cast to approve the acquisition.

Harry C. Hibbard Jr., vice president of Massachusetts operations for Aquarion, looking stunned, said immediately after the vote, "We will be examining our options. We want to thank the people of Oxford for taking such an interest."

Joseph M. Zeneski, town manager, said, "I think we have seen the kind of support this town has for its selectmen, its manager and his staff. We are very grateful."

The Oxford Water Co. has been privately owned since it was established by an act of the state Legislature and a vote of town meeting in 1904. It was later bought by American Waterworks, which renamed it the Massachusetts American Water Co. The company was bought by Aquarion in 2002.

Rene J. Hamel, of 55 Lovett Road, said, "I have waited a long time for this. I was on the water study committee 25 years ago and have wanted this ever since. We didn't have an enterprise system then. We do now. This is the right thing to do for Oxford."

- Ellie Oleson

West Boylston

Selectmen frustrated by debris removal delays

WEST BOYLSTON - The Board of Selectmen last night voted to go out to bid to remove brush and debris from last December's ice storm.

Selectmen also rescinded a previous vote to support a joint agreement between the state Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to remove the debris. Some selectmen supported forming a joint venture with Holden to remove debris.

Selectman Kevin M. McCormick said the town is tired of waiting for the state and federal government to pick up debris sitting on the roadside. He said selectmen need to take action to assure residents that something is being done.

Town Administrator Leon A. Gaumond Jr. recommended keeping all of the town's options open, especially since the cash-strapped town would not have to front money if it works in conjunction with the DCR and FEMA.

While selectmen rescinded their support of the joint agreement, they declined to take a vote to reject working with the DCR and FEMA outright. Selectmen voted to begin their own bidding process to see what other options are available to remove debris on their own.

- Marc C. Sanguinetti


Civility sought at meetings in town

CLINTON - Before the Board of Selectmen voted on who will be the chairman for this year, Selectman Kathleen A. Sheridan asked members to consider speaking to each other in a respectful manner during meetings, to trust one another and to not use the media or the Internet to further personal issues.

New board member William F. Connolly Jr. said he supports Mrs. Sheridan.

Mrs. Sheridan was referring to a controversial Clinton Web site called

Selectman Mary Rose Dickhaut was elected chairwoman, Selectman James J. LeBlanc was elected vice chairman and Mr. Connolly was elected clerk.

In other business, the board asked department heads to look deeper for possible 4 to 5 percent cuts in anticipation of the Legislature further reducing local aid.

- Lynne Klaft


Wind turbine bylaw OK'd at town meeting

MILLBURY - Town meeting voters Tuesday night approved several zoning bylaw amendments, including one governing wind turbines, and approved a local mandate for all town-purchased state, town and American flags to be domestically made.

The wind turbine bylaw sets forth technical parameters for the installation of wind turbines, and makes them allowable through a special permit granted by the Planning Board.

Voters also approved a Bramanville Village District to enable the redevelopment in that area of town, while protecting its unique village character.

An article to purchase a new rescue squad truck was indefinitely postponed. Voters also approved acquiring a parcel of land that would link to large tracts of open space in the Old Common area. The article will allow the town to work on receiving grants, reimbursements, gifts or to borrow $240,000 to acquire the property.

- Donna Boynton


School officials try to calm parents' concerns

DOUGLAS - A handful of parents came to last night's School Committee meeting looking for information about changes to special education and foreign language programs.

Katheryn Quinn, president of the Douglas Special Education Parental Advisory Council, and council member Beth Kelly said they were representing the concerns of parents over possible changes to a district-wide behavioral analysis teaching position.

School Committee member Scott Yacino said, "The position has not been cut. There may be a change coming."

He said that under Superintendent Nancy T. Lane's leadership, special education has improved. "She's not going to take us back three years," he said.

"I've worked very hard to turn things around so people have confidence in special education," Ms. Lane said. "Anyone with that level of concern, please come meet with me."

- Ruth Vecchione


Town meeting voters cut Narragansett budget

PHILLIPSTON - With all other departments at the same funding level as last year, town meeting voters followed the Finance Committee's recommendation and cut $26,294 from the Narragansett Regional School District's request.

The vote was against the urging of school Superintendent Rosalie Weiss, who said the cut would go against efforts in the town to reduce the percentage it pays for the regional school district.

"If we remove the $26,675, you will be giving Templeton a gift of $120,294," she said.

The town approved $1,393,115 for the school district. Had the town approved the minimum payment based on the formula being used in the Regional School Committee's budget, the town's percentage of the district costs would continue to drop, Ms. Weiss said.

Finance Committee member Gerhard Fandreyer said the figure voted was simply an attempt to have all the departments share the burden of a difficult financial year. "We have level-funded all departments and we asked that of the schools," he said.

Finance Committee member Thomas Specht said he was told yesterday afternoon that the budget from the state Senate Ways and Means Committee may contain more cuts for cities and towns. "It's going to make all our hair fall out or turn gray," he said.

Voters did approve spending $15,000 for renovations to turn

the former Stoddard House into a police station. Police are now in two small offices, in Town Hall and the town Emergency Services Building.

- George Barnes


Town meeting will delay votes on expenditures

BROOKFIELD - The annual town meeting will be held in two sessions.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. tomorrow, at Brookfield Elementary School.

Selectman Rudolf Heller said voters will address the articles that don't involve money tomorrow. Articles that involve money will be voted on when the meeting reconvenes at 7 p.m. June 26.

- Karen Trainor
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 7, 2009
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