Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

Advocacy Group Produces Study Showing Roadmap to Fix Chelsea School Funding

A state budget advocacy organization – Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center – has released a report this week detailing a five-year roadmap to fix the state’s education funding crisis – a plan that would require $888 million over five years and mean $21 million more in state funding per year for Chelsea Schools.

Colin Jones of Mass Budget told the Record that the report – titled ‘Building an Education System that Works for Everyone: Funding Reforms to Help All Our Children Thrive’ – details a plan that would allow the state to increase school aid – specifically to communities like Chelsea Revere, and Everett – by around $200 million per year over a five-year period. That phased approach would lead to restoring what the 1993 education reform law promised, he said.

“The big picture is our school funding and the system isn’t really providing the resources that are needed for kids across these Gateway Cities like Chelsea,” he said. “The formula for funding hasn’t been updated in 25 years and the school district with the least wealth are facing the worst of it. We looked at the budgets and found that many of these districts are spending 25 percent below what they are supposed to spend on teachers. To make up for it, they have to shift money from other areas or get additional revenues or make cuts to other areas. That’s leading to these big budget gaps.”

Supt. Mary Bourque said the research confirms what the Chelsea Schools have been saying for quite some time.

“The Mass. Budget research validates what we have been saying as superintendents for years,” she said. “In 2013, Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents did their own research which placed the underfunding of school districts at over $2 billion. In 2015, the Foundation Budget Reform Commission – of which I was a member – placed school districts also at over $2 billion underfunded. Now in 2018, we have MassBudget research attesting to the same. It is time to address the flaws that are well documented by multiple groups. It is time to fund our schools and place our students first.”

Jones said the formula fix needs to address the disparities between wealthy and poorer districts. Right now, he said Weston spends around $17,000 per student, while Chelsea Revere, and Everett are around $11,000 per student.

He said it should be the other way around.

He said the current formula requires districts to spend a set amount on teacher salaries, and in order to do that in the current funding climate, districts like Chelsea have to cut the extras, ask for City money or seek out grants. If that doesn’t happen, then it leads to cuts, bigger classes and no extras. Another byproduct is not being able to maintain school facilities properly.

“There are big gaps in these districts and it’s where you’ll see bigger class sizes, less money for the arts and less for enrichment programs,” he said. “You see them have to cut ties with long-time successful partners. They can apply for grants, but they shouldn’t be in that position. Education reform was about the districts doing their job at educating the kids and the state giving them what they needed to do it…We’re now starting to see a backsliding to what it used to be like before education reform.”

In Chelsea, the Foundation budget now is at $113 million, and state Chapter 70 education aid is $90 million. Under the new plan by Mass. Budget, by 2023, the school foundation budget would be $134 million and the state Chapter 70 aid would be $110 million.

It’s a gain of some $21 million per year in aid that the Chelsea Schools have been calling for over the past several years.

Jones said they consider their report a blueprint for fixing the statewide problem – a problem that is especially apparent in cities like Chelsea Everett, and Revere. He said he is hoping that it garners attention on Beacon Hill and becomes a point of discussion.

“We can fix this,” he said. “We have a blueprint now. These things will cost money to implement. There is a price, but we’re in a good economy and we’ve had good revenue collections at the state level. We’re looking at a phased approach of $200 million each year for five years.”

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Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

Library Renovations Highlighted by Historic Rotunda Skylight

The historic rotunda skylight above the circulation desk at the Chelsea Public Library has served for decades as a nice ceiling, but few knew that the elegant egg-shaped ceiling was designed to provide beautiful natural lighting to the striking entrance of the historic library.

Now everyone knows.

The rotunda above the foyer of the library was completed last Friday, June 15, and made a bright showing for patrons when the library opened on a sunny Monday.

Library Director Sarah Jackson said the rotunda is one part of several small, but effective, renovations that have occurred in the last three years at the library – which had been showing its age severely when she took over three years ago.

“The rotunda is original to the 1910 building, so that means it was 108 years old,” she said. “It certainly got its use, but it was time to replace it. The skylight is new and they re-built the entire structure off-site and moved it back on. It was one of the most extensive renovations that company has done. It was structurally deficient and leaked badly. There has been a tarp over it since I’ve been here. It lasted over 100 years and we decided to make it as historically accurate as possible, but with a modern look.

“It is beautiful and they did a beautiful job,” she continued. “It’s nice to have it open with so much natural light coming in, and we might even be able to see the stars in the winter.”

The rotunda was part of a five-year strategic plan for the building that Jackson wrote with her staff and the Library Trustees three years ago.

Two years ago they began putting new carpeting in the areas most heavily traveled.

Last year, they added more carpet and painted the reference and reading rooms, as well as putting in new lighting there.

“It’s really looking like a brand new building at this point, but with the beautiful details and woodwork still included and not touched,” she said. “It was very dim in the reading rooms, but now that’s changed too.”

Additionally, by getting rid of some of the obsolete books, mostly in the reference section, they were able to create new space at the front of the library to make a Teen Section. There, they have included games, magazines and an area with new furniture for teens to hang out and read.

Jackson said it all came together with very little money and was a way to make the old library new again.

“Every time someone walks in the door, there’s something new that we’ve done that they see,” she said. “I don’t like hearing people come in and say it looks exactly like it did when they were a kid. We’ve tried to change that and the skylight is the bright spot certainly. It didn’t take a lot of money, but really the will and desire to get it done.”

  • In addition to the great renovations, the library announced that it will be extending its hours to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays through the summer. Previously, they were only open late on Tuesdays.

“We re-arranged the schedule and made it work,” said Jackson. “We were pretty packed on Tuesday nights, so this opens up another evening for programming in the summer.”

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Police Briefs 01-04-2018

Police Briefs 01-04-2018

ROBBERY ON BROADWAY

On Dec. 22, at 5:20 p.m., officers responded to 165 Walnut St. for a report of a past armed robbery. Upon officers’ arrival, they made contact with the victim and alleged robbery suspect, standing out front of the building. The victim claims the suspect took $200 from him after he left the ATM at the Chelsea Bank on Broadway. The suspect claims the money was used to buy drugs from him and that the victim complained about the quality of the drugs purchased.

Jose Rivera, 32, of 11 Congress Ave., was charged with unarmed robbery.

REFUSED SERVICE AT BAR

On Dec. 22, at 10:49 p.m., officers were dispatched to the Spanish Falcon Club located at 158 Broadway on the report of a fight outside.

Officers observed security outside speaking to a group of men, two of which appeared intoxicated. As Officers spoke to security, they were informed that the two intoxicated males had been causing a disturbance because security refused them entry due to their state of intoxication.

They were asked to leave several times, but were becoming aggressive towards employees. As officers engaged the men in conversation, it was apparent that the men were upset at having been refused entry and wanted to continue their night of drinking. The two men refused the officers’ orders to leave the area and became loud and boisterous, causing a disturbance. The first male was placed into custody after violently resisting officers in their attempt to place him under arrest. The second male, and brother of the male taken into custody, refused orders to leave, and he also became aggressive and was taken into custody after a struggle.

David Garcia, 24, of 141 Marlborough St., was charged with disorderly conduct.

Kevin Garcia, 21, of Lynn, was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.

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Late Jazz Artist Fundraising Show to Close Down Spencer Gallery

Late Jazz Artist Fundraising Show to Close Down Spencer Gallery

By Seth Daniel

The late Victor Bailey, a world-renowned jazz musician and painter, will be honored on Dec. 9 at the final show in the Spencer Lofts Gallery. Bailey was a resident of the Lofts for about two years before passing last year.

The late Victor Bailey, a world-renowned jazz musician and painter, will be honored on Dec. 9 at the final show in the Spencer
Lofts Gallery. Bailey was a resident of the Lofts for about two years before passing last year.

It’s only appropriate that Victor Bailey would close down the Spencer Lofts Gallery.

The world-famous jazz musician, who passed away last year from complications related to MS/ALS, once lived at the Spencer Lofts while working as a bass professor at Berklee College of Music. After taking up art as well as music, he had a great collection of works that were expertly shown in the gallery when it re-opened two years ago. It drew a major crowd and was a highlight for the long-time gallery in the loft building.

“He passed away in November 2016 and lived here about two years ago,” said Dar DeVita, who coordinates the gallery and announced this week that Bailey’s fundraising show would be the last show there. “He was a lovely man and everyone got along great with him here. He was always so happy and loved it here. He really loved that people in the building knew him for his painting, and not just his jazz. After we had closed the first time, he was our re-opening show. Now, sadly, he will be our last show before we close again.”

The fundraiser will benefit Bailey’s estate through the proceeds from the many works that remain in his family’s possession. Bailey’s paintings will be on display in the gallery and will be available for purchase. Proceeds will benefit the Victor Bailey Estate and the Berklee College of Music.

The time will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 4-8 p.m. in the Gallery at Spencer Lofts. Parking is available on site.

Additionally, several of Bailey’s colleagues from Berklee will be on hand to play live jazz music throughout the evening – which will be a tribute to not only his music prowess, but also his artistic abilities.

Born into a music family in Philadelphia in 1960, Bailey attended Berklee and launched a hugely successful jazz career, while also writing many well-known R&B songs for major artists.

An accomplished bassist, Bailey was an Associate Professor of Bass at Berklee College of Music. He performed and recorded with Sonny Rollins, Lady Gaga, Miriam Makeba, Madonna, Mary J. Blige and many others during his long, notable career. He also recorded with Chelsea’s own Chick Corea from time to time.

Bailey was the bassist in two of the most influential jazz-fusion groups: Weather Report (he replaced the legendary Jaco Pastorius) and Steps Ahead.

Bailey drew up upon his jazz career for inspiration in his art career.

DeVita said it will be a bittersweet evening for the Gallery though, as it is closing down for good. Though many Chelsea residents have treasured its contributions to the arts scene in the city, DeVita said many of the residents in the building are not interested anymore.

“We are closing it down,” she said. “I’ve resigned as of Jan. 1 and there is no one taking over. The building doesn’t understand the value of the gallery and my time is up. I’m hoping the show will spark some interest in someone to take over. Maybe it will be a person in the building that will see the value of this and want to keep it going. If not, it will just close.”

The Gallery was a coup for Chelsea when the lofts were built more than a decade ago, one of the few arts locales in the City.

Reception and admission to the Gallery are free and open to the public. The Victor Bailey Exhibit runs through December 31, 2017. Gallery hours by appointment.

Accessible parking is available, as is on-street parking.

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Councillor Wants Answers on 5th St Onramp

Councillor Wants Answers on 5th St Onramp

By Seth Daniel

The upcoming Chelsea Viaduct state highway project may include plans to eliminate the 5th Street onramp next to the Williams School, and Councillor Roy Avellaneda said he wants answers about the plan.

Avellaneda said at the Nov. 20 Council meeting that he has learned that MassDOT is considering closing down the onramp, which he said is critical for making sure the downtown and Everett Avenue are not flooded with vehicle traffic at certain times of the day.

“There is a proposal by MassDOT to close the 5th Street onramp to the Tobin Bridge at Arlington Street adjacent to the MITC Building,” he said. “They are talking…about doing away with it and eliminating it. It jumps off the page to me. I am wondering what impact that will have to the other two off-ramps and what kind of drastic impact it will have on our downtown.”

The MITC (Massachusetts Information Technology Center) Building is a state-owned building that houses computer technology and electronic records for the state. It has several hundreds employees.

A spokesman for MassDOT would not confirm or deny that there is a plan to take away the on-ramp. He said the plans are still in design for the overall viaduct project, and a public process with members of the community is underway.

A meeting took place earlier this month in Chelsea to discuss the project, which will begin in 2016.

“The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is continuing to move forward with the design of the Chelsea Viaduct Rehabilitation Project and is committed to rehabilitating this important structure to ensure long term reliability throughout this area,” said the spokesman in a statement. “MassDOT has developed a comprehensive public participation plan that will engage local civic leaders and elected officials, area businesses and members of the community as well as commuters.”

The land where the onramp is located was actually taken by the Highway Department decades ago when the Tobin/Mystic Bridge was being constructed. That particular piece of land was the home to Union Park – a park that housed the Civil War statue now across the street from City Hall. The park was laid out in a “spoke” formation with all paths leading to the Civil War monument in the center. However, during the Bridge construction, it was part of a massive land-taking in Chelsea and was designated for highway use.

It’s on that basis where Avellaneda said he wants more information. He said he wants to know what the plan is for that land if the onramp is taken away. He said since it was taken by eminent domain for highway use, it should be returned to the City if it is no longer a highway use.

He said he has suspicions that the state just wants to use the land to create more parking for the MITC employees.

“Do they want to expand parking for the MITC?” he asked. “That land was taken by eminent domain for one purpose and that was for a highway. If the highway is no longer using it for a highway, that land should go back to the City. That land was taken away from Chelsea and should not go to the MITC for parking and for them to continue their spread. The plan for 5th Street needs to be found and any hidden agenda out there needs to be found.”

The Chelsea Viaduct is a structure which runs between the Tobin Bridge to where Route 1 crosses above County Road and the Viaduct carries traffic through the area known as the “Chelsea Curves.”

The Chelsea Viaduct is structurally deficient and in need of repair and rehabilitation in order to ensure the reliability of this important connection.

Working with the City of Chelsea, residents living near the Viaduct, roadway users, and other stakeholders, the project team is currently designing a plan for construction that minimizes and mitigates temporary construction impacts. MassDOT’s current schedule includes reaching the 25 percent design milestone before the end of this year, continuing design and related work throughout the winter, and then advertising the project to potential construction bidders in the spring of 2018.

When completed, the Viaduct Rehabilitation project will provide repairs to the structure’s supports and a new travel surface for vehicles traveling on it. Work on the viaduct will be coordinated with construction activities occurring as part of the separate Tobin Bridge Deck Rehabilitation Project.

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Wynn Boston Harbor to be on the Forefront of Energy Efficiency

Wynn Boston Harbor to be on the Forefront of Energy Efficiency

By Seth Daniel

Wynn Boston Harbor is working closely with well-known international companies to implement battery technology into their building, a new technology that will help them store cheaper power purchased during off peak hours, and contribute to an overall energy usage that is but 60 percent of what would be expected for a building of its size.

The new battery technology program complements two co-generation plants, a rainwater irrigation system, a huge solar array and a “very aggressive” LED lighting program.

All of it will combine to make the Wynn Boston Harbor facility one of, if not the, most efficient large building in the region.

“We will be running at 60 percent of what the standard energy usage calculation is for a building like ours,” said Chris Gordon, president of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts. “The interesting thing is when you look at green buildings…it comes down to less energy usage…These buildings are so well insulated and sealed that you save a lot just on leaks. The window seals are so much better than they were 30 years ago, it’s amazing. You save when you use less. Interestingly enough, years ago people started to build green buildings because it was the right thing to do. Now it’s a good business decision and a good environmental decision.”

Perhaps setting the pace for efficiency is a program that will likely be the first of its kind in the Boston area – an emerging technology using battery storage devices to optimize energy usage.

It’s something Gordon said is very new, but he predicted would likely be in every building, and in several homes, in the near future.

The change, he said, is the new technology being developed around better battery storage. Several companies have pushed the limits on new battery technology for electric cars, solar power and for energy efficiency.

Gordon said they are working with several companies to put an array of batteries on their property, but don’t have a specific company named as of yet.

The idea, he said, would be to install a 90,000 sq. ft. solar installation on the roof of the function hall and entrance, which will generate solar energy to be stored in the batteries.

The bigger savings, however, will be having battery storage available to store power purchased from the grid at off-peak times.

“You don’t want to buy power at peak periods, so if you have storage capacity using batteries, you can buy when prices are low,” said Gordon. “There are times of day and times of the year that are more expensive and they don’t want you to buy then. For example, in the summer with lots of air conditioners running, you don’t want to buy energy on a hot day. It’s more expensive…I don’t know if we’re the first, but we will be one of the first certainly to use this in Greater Boston.”

He said they will employ one person on site to monitor commodities markets to decide which time is best and what time is not best to buy energy. He indicated that all of this is just now available because of the rapid innovations in battery technology, which allows for smaller installations.

“The battery technology in a building like ours is a new concept,” he said. “In the old days, using them for energy efficiency was tough because they were massive. Now they are a lot smaller and you can put them in a building and they don’t take up as much real estate.”

Another major piece of the operation will be two co-generation plants that are being installed in the back of the house.

The units are about 15’ x 10’ and generate electricity that will be used to power the building. Co-generation works on the principal of heating water and creating steam by burning natural gas. Both the steam and hot water are then used to heat the building. However, as they are created, they turn a turbine that creates electricity as a by-product – electricity that can be used immediately in the building or stored in the battery system.

The two co-generation plants will produce 8-10mgW of electricity.

“Co-generation produces hot water, steam and also electricity,” said Gordon. “We’ll produce a lot of electricity with them, but we’ll keep it all on site. That means we’ll produce a lot of our electricity and the solar will be used on site as well…All in all, we believe we’ll be able to run 70 to 80 percent of the building’s functions just off of the power we have inside if we want to or need to.”

He said that if there is a power outage, they believe they will be able to power all critical functions, and still have enough left over to maintain the usual comforts.

“After all the critical functions are accounted for, like the lighting and heat, there will still be a lot more left,” he said. “People will be quite comfortable in an outage. You could pave people there as an emergency shelter really, because we’re well above the flood plain and we will have ample power stored.”

Other efficiency measures include:

  • A 10,000 sq. ft. green roof on top of the second floor of the building.
  • A giant water tank in the parking garage that will harness and store all of the rainwater on the site. That rainwater will then be used in the irrigation system to water all of the extensive plantings inside and outside the building.

All together, it also equals a tremendous amount of savings for the resort.

“We don’t have the exact figures yet, but we’re using 40 percent less than we should, and so you’re looking a very big number in terms of savings on energy,” he said. “We hope that it not only saves us money, but also that it sets the pace for everyone else.”

Above the Flood Plain

Many might have seen the photos of water rushing into the front doors of the Golden Nugget casino in Mississippi late last week as Hurricane Nate hit the Gulf Coast, but Wynn Boston Harbor officials said they don’t ever expect such a thing to happen at their resort despite being right on the Mystic River.

That’s because early in the process, officials said, they decided to change the design of the building so they would be well-above the 500-year floodplain and the storm surge levels too.

Chris Gordon of Wynn Design and Development Massachusetts said they don’t expect to get that kind of flooding on their waterfront site.

“The flood levels are at nine feet, and even with flood surge added, that’s still just 11 feet,” he said. “The garage entrance is at 13 feet and the entrance to the building is at 24 or 25 feet. In addition, all of the utilities have been moved out of the garage and are on top of the Central Utility Plant. If the garage does flood someday, we just pump it out. The pumps are already there and ready if need be. We don’t ever expect to see the garage flood, but if it does, we just pump out the water. It really does no harm.”

Gordon said it all goes back to a willingness to look at resiliency in the Boston area and go the extra mile instead of fighting it.

“Instead of debating it or trying to discredit it, we said, ‘Let’s just move the building up.’ And that has worked out really well.”

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Double Murder Defendant Familiar with Apartment Building

Double Murder Defendant Familiar with Apartment Building

A Chelsea man who once worked at the scene of a brutal double homicide in South Boston was ordered held without bail at his Suffolk Superior Court arraignment for the murders of Lina Bolanos and Richard Field on Monday, July 10.

Bampumm Teixeira, 30, was indicted June 28 and arraigned Monday on two counts each of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and kidnapping by confinement, and one count of armed home invasion for the May 5 incident at 141 Dorchester Ave. in Southie. At the request of Suffolk Chief Trial Counsel John Pappas, Clerk Magistrate Edward Curley ordered Teixeira held without bail.

Conley’s chief trial counsel, Assistant District Attorney John Pappas, told the court that Teixeira had previously been employed as a concierge at the South Boston building where Bolanos, 38, and Field, 49, lived on the 11th floor. As such, Teixeira was familiar with the interior of the building as well as its parking garage.

Pappas told the court that a person wearing gloves, a hat, a hooded jacket, and a bright yellow shirt and carrying a string-style backpack was in the area of the building as early as 2:40 that afternoon and snuck into the garage shortly before 4 p.m. Bolanos entered the building at about 5 p.m. and Field at about 6:30 p.m.

Shortly after 8:30 p.m., the concierge at the building’s front desk contacted Boston Police to report a call he had received from a friend of a resident. The concierge reported that this friend had received a text message from Field telling him to call 911 for a man armed with a gun in his home. This same friend moments later called Boston Police directly and recounted the same plea for help.

Officers responded to the scene and proceeded to the 11th floor, where they observed a set of keys on the floor in the hallway outside the victims’ door. After knocking, announcing themselves, and receiving no response, they used the keys to access the residence.

After announcing themselves once again inside the darkened residence, one of the officers spotted an unknown person later identified as Teixeira dressed in dark clothing, and – believing this person either pointed or fired a weapon at them – two officers discharged their own weapons, injuring him. The officers provided first aid to Teixeira, who was wearing gloves, outside the apartment. He allegedly stated that another person would open fire on the officers if they went back inside.

Teixeira was transported to Tufts Medical Center and a Boston Police entry team made its way into the residence. Inside, officers found the Bolanos’ and Field’s bodies in separate areas; they had been bound, suffered massive traumatic injuries, and were declared dead at the scene.

Just outside the apartment, where Teixeira had been apprehended and briefly treated, homicide detectives found a string-type backpack containing a replica firearm, personal property belonging to the victims, and other items. In the immediate vicinity of the bag were a bright yellow shirt and a large carving knife. Just inside the door was a second backpack containing jewelry belonging to Bolanos.

Katherine Moran is the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Teixeira is represented by attorney Steven Sack. The case returns to court on Sept. 12.

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Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

Hotel Underway at Broadway Line

By Seth Daniel

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The elevator shaft and steel structure can be seen this summer going up on Chelsea’s next new hotel, a 124-room full service hotel at the Chelsea Line.

The Chelsea Broadway Hotel – not yet named officially – is making quick work of the vacant site next to the Walgreen’s on Broadway adjacent to the Chelsea/Revere line.

The hotel – another new hotel brought by Colwen and the XSS Group – is likely to be even better than the previous hotels, the last of which (Homewood Suites) just opened across from Chelsea High School. There are rumors that the Broadway hotel will include a restaurant that has water-side seating during the summer months. That, however, could not be confirmed.

The site overlooks the Mill Creek and marsh – an area that has been vastly improved and cleaned up in the last 10 years. The hotel property will also serve as a major connecting piece on the walkway that leads to the Chelsea Commons Park.

Already, the elevator shaft and steel structure are towering above Broadway as the building takes shape. Maureen Foley of Colwen Hotels said that the Broadway Hotel is a 124-room hotel that will open in late 2018.

She said anyone looking for job opportunities at the hotel or any of their other Chelsea hotels can log on to www.colwenhotels.com.

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Court Graduation:One of the Few Good Days at Chelsea Court

Court Graduation:One of the Few Good Days at Chelsea Court

By Seth Daniel

Those who work in the Chelsea Courthouse and those who frequent it with criminal cases know that there aren’t a lot of great days marked in the building.

It’s not exactly a place to come celebrate.

But occasionally, the smiles come out and the celebratory cake gets cut, and that one day of happiness in the Court is Drug Court graduation day.

On Tuesday, June 27, just such a celebration took place in the Chelsea Courthouse and four graduates from the grueling life-turnaround program celebrated sobriety, clean living and getting their path straight.

“Honestly, nothing good really ever happens in a courthouse,” said Judge Matthew Nestor. “One of the only good days in a courthouse like this is drug court graduation day. It’s really a great day for the participants. We’re proud to have watched them come such a long way and to see that they have accomplished a lot. It’s a day by day thing for them, but we’re proud.”

Drug Court is a special program pioneered and refined at Chelsea District Court many years ago, and a program that has been replicated in numerous other jurisdictions where drug use and addiction is a problem. Some defendants are given the opportunity to enter the program in lieu of their punishment, and strict and rigorous requirements for sobriety are enacted upon them.

Tara Fleming, a graduate, said she had been through it all – on the streets, doing drugs and making a life out of coming in and out of the court. That was until she began Drug Court in 2014. Now, she is on the right path and said the graduation day marked a huge milestone in her life.

“It has been an absolute turnaround,” she said. “I was homeless on the street. I hurt myself on the streets. I ended up in drug court after being arrested three times in two weeks. It saved my life. I’ve been fighting through it every since. I refuse to go back.”

Another graduate, Heather Harper, described the day as “colossal.”

“It’s colossal because since the age of 14 I’ve doing this – drugs and court,” she said. “Drugs, prostitution, everything. I’ve done it all. This is great right now to have accomplished this. Nov. 8, 2015 is the date that stands out to me. That’s the day I decided to start this. Eighteen months of Chelsea Drug Court and this is it. I have one thing that I like to remember, ‘Never look back unless it’s to see how far you’ve come.’”

Other graduates included Christopher Bonsai and Edward Sarmanian.

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Three-Alarmer Caused by Extension Cords, Air Conditioner

Three-Alarmer Caused by Extension Cords, Air Conditioner

At 4:38 p.m. on May 19, Chelsea Fire received a call for a house fire at 127 Shurtleff St. Upon arrival, heavy fire was showing from the 3rd floor with exposure buildings in close proximity on each side. Deputy Chief Robert Houghton transmitted the working fire and struck the second alarm. Fire quickly spread to the 3rd floor porch and cockloft area.

Major flames erupted from this fire at a home on Shurtleff Street May 19.

Major flames erupted from this fire at a home on Shurtleff Street May 19.

Firefighters mounted and aggressive attack, and a third alarm was struck for additional manpower. Searches of the building were negative with occupants self-evacuating. There were no civilian injuries. Three fire fighters were injured battling the blaze, none of which were life threatening. Overall 16 occupants were displaced and being assisted by the Red Cross.

The fire was contained to the third floor of the structure of origin. None of the exposure buildings were affected. The cause of the fire was electrical. An air conditioning unit was being energized using several extension cords.

“Residents should be aware of the dangers associated with powering air condition units and appliances with extension cords. This creates an extreme fire hazard” said Chief Len Albanese. “Overloaded extension cords are the cause of many accidental fires that can be avoided using proper fire safety precautions.”

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