Randell: OPEB contributions leave much to be desired

How do you feel about the city touting $2.1 million in contributions now knowing the liability increased more than $78 million in one year?” Bill Randell doesn’t feel great about it, that’s for sure. Find out why.

On Beacon Hill: A Green Christmas for legal marijuana advocates

From State House News Service

ON THE AGENDA

  • Legal marijuana rolls up to State House
  • Baker eyes deeper partnership after Israel trip
  • Healey wants answers from Tillerson
  • 900 buyouts spare state employee layoffs

TOP OF THE HILL

For legal marijuana advocates, it’s a Green Christmas

BOSTON — A decade ago, a Massachusetts State Police cruiser, lights on, pulling up onto the sidewalk at a cannabis celebration might have been cause for alarm among attendees.

Last Thursday, the first day of marijuana legalization under a ballot law, the brief presence of a police vehicle — which was turning around to head down Beacon Street — didn’t cause a stir among activists showing off their green product for the news media outside the State House.

Scituate resident Keith Saunders, a member of the board of directors of the pro-marijuana-legalization NORML, held out a jar that he said contained just under an ounce of marijuana that was grown and gifted to him by a patient. Saunders told reporters he was giving people marijuana from his jar as they asked for it.

The ballot law permits people 21 and over to carry up to an ounce of marijuana in public and gift up to an ounce. It allows individuals to grow up to six plants, limiting it to 12 per household, and to possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis at home. A regulatory regime for retail sale of the drug is not yet established, and unregulated sales remain illegal. But the legal flow of marijuana has begun.

Keith Saunders holds a jar of what he said was nearly an ounce of newly legalized marijuana outside the State House Dec. 15.

Andy Metzger / State House News Service

Keith Saunders holds a jar of what he said was nearly an ounce of newly legalized marijuana outside the State House Dec. 15.

For Saunders, holding what he said was about a two-month supply of pot on a Beacon Hill sidewalk felt natural.

Inbox [Dec. 18]: UMass Medical gets $3.1M for heart study, WorcShop shares in $242K in state grants, WPI researchers make cancer breakthrough, Health Connector deadline looms

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

UMass Medical School awarded $3.1M to monitor, improve heart attack care in Worcester

UMass Medical School has been awarded a four-year, $3.1 million grant by the National Institutes of Health for Community Surveillance of Coronary Heart Disease. The new grant, previously known as the Worcester Heart Attack Study, continues four decades of monitoring local heart attack patients to improve treatment and outcomes under the direction of Robert Goldberg, Ph.D., founder and principal investigator.

“We’re going to study contemporary trends in the magnitude of heart disease in the greater Worcester community. We’re going to monitor changing and current trends in the in-hospital and long-term outcomes of patients hospitalized with heart attacks, also called acute myocardial infarctions. And we’re going to look at changes taking place in patient management,” said Goldberg, professor of quantitative health sciences.

UMass Medical School

Wikimedia Commons/Photo by og-emmet

UMass Medical School

“What we want to learn is, will these trajectories continue: Will [the] incidence of heart attacks continue to decrease? Will patients’ prognosis continue to improve? And how much more effectively can patients be managed?”

Funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute since the mid-1980s, the community-based study provides 40 years of data about the number of heart attacks among residents of the greater Worcester community and outcomes of their medical care during and after hospitalization. It also provides insights on how patients who experience heart attacks are treated by physicians in the community.

“We’re going to have a 40-year picture of heart disease, which is unique. What we’ve learned since 1975 is that even though Worcester heart attack patients have become older and sicker, often having multiple diseases, the incidence of heart attacks is declining, and patients’ [prognoses] both in-hospital and post-discharge is getting better,” said Goldberg. “We think this is because patients are being much more aggressively managed with evidence-based care.”

Read the entire story on the UMass Medical School website


State announces inaugural round of Collaborative Workspace Program Awards

At an event last Thursday at The WorcShop in Worcester, the Baker-Polito Administration awarded over $950,000 in grant funding to 23 organizations across Massachusetts to strengthen community-based innovation and entrepreneurship in the commonwealth’s cities and towns.

Rosenberg highlights likely 2017 priorities on Beacon Hill

BOSTON — Senate President Stanley Rosenberg hinted at 2017 agenda items, highlighting climate change, housing, education funding, and economic issues for low- and middle-income families while not dismissing the possibility of raising taxes to help pay for those initiatives.

“We still have some huge needs around housing and homelessness, we haven’t done a multi-year commitment to education funding in a long time, we did improve funding on transportation but there’s still a big gap compared to what people want us to deliver, and let’s not forget the opioid heroin crisis,” he said Tuesday, Dec. 13.

“Of course, we’re going to continue to work on economic issues for all folks, but particular for low- and moderate-income people.”

Rosenberg said he also expects the Senate to focus in 2017 on an issue that held Beacon Hill’s attention for much of the current session: energy. That work led to a law giving hydropower and offshore wind prominent roles in the state’s energy mix, but Rosenberg said the legislative work on energy is not done.

Post-Trump, state business confidence index continues climb

Buoyed by rallying financial markets, the lowest state unemployment rate in more than 15 years and the election of Donald Trump, employer confidence in Massachusetts rose to its highest point in more than a year, Associated Industries of Massachusetts said.

AIM’s Business Confidence Index rose 1.9 points to 58.1 in November, the third straight month of improved confidence and 1.2 points higher than a year ago.

The surge was propelled by “across-the-board bullishness about the state and federal economies, along with a continued recovery of confidence among Massachusetts manufacturers,” AIM said Tuesday.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 117]: A Very Taxing Worcester Holiday

Taxes are kind of our thing here in Massachusetts. Some of us enjoy taxes so much we simply can’t stop talking about them, especially in Worcester, where the annual dual rate tug-of-war produces a litany of positions, opinions, strange ideas and hyperbole.

Come to think of it — must be Hitch’s turn!

LEEP Center staff

Inbox [Dec. 7]: Becker adds to financial leadership team, Clark’s LEEP wins national honor, Worcester State study eyes Latino men opportunity gap, UniBank announces Invest Worcester

Have a release or a photo you or your group would like to share? Let us know by emailing it to info@worcester.ma. Be sure to include a link to the full release on your site or Facebook page so we can include it and send Sun members your way.

Becker hires new executive director, leadership giving

Jane Grant of Worcester has been hired as the executive director of leadership giving, Becker College announced.

“Jane brings with her an extensive knowledge of both the Worcester community and advancement services,” said Colleen Bielitz ,Ph.D., vice president of institutional advancement and chief business development officer at Becker. “Her energy and expertise are vital to building our advancement team to meet the needs of our growing institution.”

A Mother’s Journey [Part 33]: The original ‘Woopreneur’

Editor’s note: Since September 2015, Worcester Sun has chronicled the trials, tribulations and triumphs of Sun contributor Giselle Rivera-Flores as she explores ways to help her daughter and other Worcester families find affordable educational support and assistance. We used to describe her as an aspiring business owner; now, she’s an inspiring one, a full-fledged director of a nonprofit tutoring collaborative that began officially in late January but has transformed considerably since. During her journey she has, you could say, stepped beyond the walls of her dream.

Giselle Rivera-Flores

Giselle Rivera-Flores

When people find themselves pulled in a million directions, it is often difficult to stop for a moment and reflect on your journey. When you have your eye on the prize, nothing else matters.

Lack of sleep and tough-to-navigate schedules become part of the plan. Eventually, it feels natural. People ask me for advice all the time. They ask about the nitty gritty of social media and marketing, but the question I’m asked most often is, “How do you have time for everything?”

Although from the outside looking in this all seems like organized chaos, the answer is simple:

This is my life.

Read Giselle’s previous chapter: The network effect Or scroll down for more

What does WAFT do, anyway? An inside look at Worcester’s anti-foreclosure warriors: Part 1 — Gaining traction and attention

Together a dedicated group of volunteers is tackling the still-daunting number of foreclosure petitions issued in the state by helping residents stay in their homes while exhausting all the archaic, complicated and red-taped remedies in the foreclosure process. “Basically it’s about enforcing the laws that are on the books,” said Grace Ross, the organization’s founder, who was recently honored by New England’s NAACP chapter with a lifetime achievement award for her advocacy work. This is the first in a two-part report chronicling several days in the lives of the Worcester Anti-Foreclosure Team and the people they try to help.