Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 121]: Maura Healey, what a doll!

Our fair Massachusetts Attorney General lady is no wallflower, that’s for sure. Assault weapons, corporate corruption, saving the environment: she continues to have her say on the big topics — and nobody even needs to ask!

She’s a firecracker, that Maura Healey. Imagine if you could package all that ambition into a gift for the holidays?

Ah, but you don’t have to — that’s what Hitch is here for. Check it out.

PCBs: Where Worcester delayed, Princeton was decisive

Indignant at potentially exposing town residents and workers to PCBs through no fault of their own, Princeton officials wanted payback. They decided they would go for it in the form of a lawsuit directed at Old Monsanto, the company that made virtually all of the potential human carcinogen (98 percent, according to the lawsuit). To do so, they hired a heavy hitter in the environmental field: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Richard Nangle reports.

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.

Drought Management Task Force members -- co-chair and Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' assistant director of water policy, Vandana Rao, left; Energy and Environmental Secretary Matthew Beaton, center; and Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg -- met Thursday and received an update on drought conditions from various state and federal agencies.

Baker confirms probe into environmental police overtime; another scandal for Beaton’s office

The Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs is investigating a pattern uncovered in a WCVB-TV report of environmental police officers spending portions of the work day at home and receiving overtime for patrolling parks and pools, Gov. Charlie Baker said this week.

A five-month undercover investigation by 5 Investigates turned up footage of environmental police with their state vehicles at home for hours at a time during the workday. Other footage showed Sgt. Chris Folan as he towed a boat from Lakeville to Hingham and then spent a few hours “hanging around.”

Gov. Charlie Baker

Antonio Caban / State House News Service

Gov. Charlie Baker

“I’ve talked to the folks at Environmental Affairs that they need to look through some of the issues that were raised by the report and if there are issues associated with people behaving inappropriately and treating the taxpayers with less than the respect that they deserve, then we’ll take action on that,” Baker told reporters Monday, Nov. 7.

The office, headed up by Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew A. Beaton, a former Republican House member from Shrewsbury, has been dinged by scandals previously.

Inbox [Nov. 9]: Worcester State checks in as new Canal District rink tenant, concert series begins today, Cary receives lifetime honor, Dunkin’s awards $30K to vets and first responders, Shrewsbury Street group meets tomorrow

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.

Worcester State signs on with Canal District rink

Worcester State University has signed a partnership agreement to serve as an anchor tenant at Worcester Sports Center, beginning next fall.

Worcester Sports Center, under construction at the former PresMet site on Harding Street, is slated to open in the summer of 2017 and will host the Worcester State men’s hockey team, which will include all home games, practices and a permanent locker room.

Worcester Sports Complex

Courtesy Worcester Railers

An artist’s rendering of the planned Canal District dual hockey rink complex.

“I am excited to announce that Worcester State University will be joining us as an anchor tenant in 2017 with their men’s ice hockey team,” Worcester Sports Center’s managing partner Cliff Rucker said. “Partnering with Worcester State epitomizes our commitment that this is truly a Worcester community resource – built for the residents and student athletes of Worcester.”

Worcester State joins the Becker College men’s and women’s teams [first in the Sun!] and Worcester Academy; as well as youth organizations Worcester Junior Sharks and Junior Crusaders in signing on as initial tenants along with Rucker’s Worcester Railers ECHL minor league hockey team, which is expected to begin league play in October 2017.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 108]: Political animals, a Sunday morning revue

You know all about the donkeys and elephants roaming from the Redwood forest to the gulf stream waters, leaving ignominious signs of their herd’s migration patterns on front lawns across the country. These highly domesticated, if not entirely sophisticated, animals we are very familiar with, indeed, these days.

Hitch has an eye on some other species that could leave Worcester thinking about opening a zoo.

Want more Hitch?

PCBs: Where Worcester delayed, Princeton was decisive

PRINCETON — When town officials here learned that the Thomas Prince School was contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), an organic pollutant and presumed human carcinogen, they sprang into action.

The contamination was discovered in 2011 during a summer window replacement project. By summer’s end, the Wachusett Regional School District Committee had voted to transfer students in the affected part of the building to the Glenwood Elementary School in Rutland. Thomas Prince School’s then-Principal Thomas Pandiscio endorsed the action, wanting no part of any further exposure by students or staff to PCBs.

The student relocation lasted an entire school year, and cost more than $700,000, as the caulking was removed and replaced.


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But that was not the end.

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 106]: Feeling sunk in Worcester

One good thing about severe weather causing dangerous flash flooding, power outages and thousands upon thousands of dollars in damages? It brings municipal government and media closer together. Which is all anyone’s ever wanted, of course!

Everybody’s a team player when someone’s Altima is floating down Main Street. But then the water recedes and we’re left with nothing to do but nitpick.

So, Hitch dried off his sketch pad and got to work.

Nick Wright and Richard Stavros

Pulling for rowing on Lake Quinsigamond

Worcester’s little-known rowing community is widening its reach, welcoming more high school students and giving middle schoolers a chance to get involved. Maria Reidy, who is also a high school crew team member, has the details, and offers a glimpse into why rowing — at any age — is worthwhile.

Follow-up: 7 things to know about PCBs and Worcester schools

Concern over polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, is not new. In fact, it took years for the Educational Association of Worcester, the city teachers’ union, to secure a June ruling that would allow it to test for PCB levels at Burncoat and Doherty Memorial high schools.

The organic compound found to cause cancer in lab animals and to have a number of potentially serious health effects for humans, including some cancers, is most commonly found in window caulking, brickwork and fluorescent lighting fixtures.

The School Committee has thus far resisted the EAW’s calls for testing and filed an appeal to the June state Labor Relations Board ruling. The city is quick to point out, though, that it has taken steps to address PCB concerns with a number of window and fluorescent light ballast replacement projects.

pcbs_warning_sign

Here are seven things you should know about PCBs and how they relate to Worcester’s aging public school buildings.

#1) 29 school buildings built or renovated when PCBs were in use

There are 20 school buildings in current use that were constructed in the “PCB era,” between 1930 and 1979, when use of the manmade compound was prevalent (particularly beginning about 1950) in building materials. Manufacturing of the potential human carcinogen was banned by the EPA in 1979. Nine other schools had additions or “major” renovations during that time period, according to Worcester Public Schools.