31 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Registrar: Wesleyan students can still vote in municipal election (Middletown Press) 

ME: Value of trees voiced in Bath (The Times Record)

MA: 'Town center' eyed for South Sandwich (Cape Cod Times)

NH: Couple loses school construction appeal (Concord Monitor)

RI: Miniature horses, service dogs in new school policy (North East Independent)

VT: Proper use of Pennies for Parks funds debated in Burlington (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

City of Middletown, CT

Kennebec Estuary Land Trust

Town of Sandwich, MA

Concord, NH, School District

City of Concord, NH

North Kingstown, RI, School Department

Town of North Kingstown, RI

City of Burlington, VT

As Daylight Saving End Approaches, Change Your Clock Change Your Battery Reminder Issued

Daylight saving time will end on Sunday, 6 November. As families change their clocks, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) advises that it is a good time also for families to review their home fire safety plans, starting with changing the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  IAFC, Energizer, and local fire departments throughout New England and the rest of the United States are asking families across the country to join them in this year’s Change Your Clock Change Your Battery® campaign.

Background information and resources:

International Association of Fire Chiefs

Energizer: Change Your Clock Change Your Battery®

"I Whistle a Happy Tune"

I "happened to" catch part of a Lawrence Welk Show Halloween special last night on Rhode Island PBS, and one of the songs offered was one that, I suspect, is appropriate for many people during Halloween and many other times of the year. The show itself was originally broadcast in October 1975.

Although I have sung the song many times and heard a number of versions of it over the years, I had forgotten that "I Whistle a Happy Tune" came from the Broadway musical, The King and I.

Here is one version of the song, sung by the Fairfield County (CT) Children's Choir:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty and wonder contained in a single leaf.

Fr. Scott Hurd on Humility

"As the great English Catholic G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly.” Chesterton was trying to be witty, of course, but his point was that humility is a hallmark of holiness- both for angels, and for us."

In a recent commentary drawing on an example set by Dorothy Day, Father Scott Hurd (Executive Director of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Office of the Permanent Diaconate) reflected on the place of humility in our lives. This reflection was based on the assigned Gospel reading on Saturday (Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time).

This Gospel reading (Luke 14:1, 7-11) is as follows: 

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. "When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, 'Give your place to this man,' and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, 'My friend, move up to a higher position.' Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

To access Fr. Hurd's complete post, please visit:

Fr. Scott Hurd: Don’t Look Down (29 OCT 11)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

"He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less."- C. S. Lewis

30 October 2011

Gaither Homecoming: "Precious Lord, Take My Hand"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer a Gaither Homecoming presentation of "Precious Lord, Take My Hand:

Maine Dairy Relief Program - Support for the State's Dairy Farmers

A recent Bangor Daily News article examined the Maine Dairy Relief Program, an initiative designed to provide a safety net for Maine's dairy farmers (currently numbering 304) when milk prices are unsteady.

To access this Bangor Daily News article, please visit:

Bangor Daily News: Maine’s innovative dairy program keeping industry alive (30 OCT 11)

Background information:

Maine Milk Commission

Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council

University of Maine: Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center

Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Malachi 1:14-2:2, 8-10; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, 13; and Matthew 23: 1-12. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 131 (Psalm 131:1-3).

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.' As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

Reflections on these readings:

Msgr. Charles Pope: And to the Author, All in Authority Must Answer – A Meditation on the Gospel of the 31st Sunday of the Year (29 OCT 11)

The Lectionary: Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled (27 OCT 11)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Calling the Fathers (October 30th, 2011 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for those persons in our lives who set good examples for us.

Msgr. Pope on the Most Important Things in Life

"One of the great challenges in life is to learn what is really most important. I remember as a child being told at Christmas that Jesus was the real reason for the season and that toys were secondary. But I was a child and although I heard what should be most important in actual fact what really was most important to me was what was under the tree. 'Thanks Jesus for gettin' born, now what did Santa leave!?'"

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the most important things in life.

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit: 

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Most Important Things in Life Aren’t Things (28 OCT 11)

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"Each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ." - Blessed Pope John Paul II

29 October 2011

A Profile of a Retiring New Britain, CT, Firefighter

Each year, throughout New England, a number of career firefighters retire. Periodically one of the local newspapers will run a profile of one of these retiring firefighters, and the profile will often give some slight sense of how things have changed in the fire service over the past few decades.

One good example of this is a recent profile run by the New Britain (CT) Herald, which ran a profile of Alfred Cassella, who retired after serving in the New Britain Fire Department for 42 years.

To access this profile, please visit:

New Britain Herald: After 42 years with Fire Department, local man retires (29 OCT 11)

Background information:

New Britain Fire Department

New Britain Firefighters Local 992

City of New Britain

Wikipedia: New Britain, Connecticut

Yanni: "The Storm"

As a major winter storm bears down on New England, I offer Yanni's "The Storm":

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Temporary fire station gets initial OK (Greenwich Time)

ME: Maine libraries, museums look to embrace technology (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Foxboro to offer free commuter parking to residents (The Sun Chronicle)

NH: School’s probation ends after five years (Keene Sentinel)

RI: City assists schools with purchase of new boiler (Johnston Sunrise)

VT: Free lunches still available (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

Town of Greenwich, CT

Maine Archives and Museums

Town of Foxborough, MA

Monadnock Regional School District, NH

New England Association of Schools and Colleges: Commission on Public Secondary Schools

Town of Johnston, RI

Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union

Center for American Progress Issues Report on Improving School Principals

The Center for American Progress recently offered a report that analyzes state policies and requirements for principal preparation, approval, and certification. The report used a sample of 16 states - eight of which are deemed “lagging” and eight deemed “leading” in their efforts to ensure that schools are led by effective leaders.

The Center noted that research shows that principals account for a quarter of a school’s total impact on student learning. But this finding understates the full impact principals have because they play an essential role in hiring and developing teachers who account for the largest share of a school’s impact on student learning.

To access the complete report, please visit:

Center for American Progress: Gateways to the Principalship (Introduction and Summary) (October 2011)

Center for American Progress: Gateways to the Principalship - State Power to Improve the Quality of School Leaders (Full Report) (October 2011)

Background information:

Center for American Progress

New England City & Town News Notes: Report Links School Leadership to Improved Student Learning (29 JUL 10)

125th Anniversary of Statue of Liberty Dedication

The National Park Service held a 125th birthday party for the Statue of Liberty (full name: Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World) yesterday.

Media reports:

Washington Post: Federal Eye: The Statue of Liberty turns 125 (28 OCT 11)

Background information:

National Park Service: Statue of Liberty

Facebook: Statue of Liberty National Monument

EarthCam: Statue of Liberty Cams: Live from the Golden Torch

Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation

YouTube: Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island - 2 minute HD tour

Wikipedia: Statue of Liberty

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your healing touch during illness (whether we are aware of it or not).

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's Appearance on "What's My Line?"

While looking for something else, I came across a video clip of an appearance by then Bishop Fulton J. Sheen on the television show, What's My Line?

To access this video, please visit:

YouTube: What's my line? Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Reflection Starter from Wisdom

"Love justice, you who judge the earth;
think of the Lord in goodness,
and seek him in integrity of heart;
Because he is found by those who test him not,
and he manifests himself to those who do not disbelieve him." - Wisdom 1:1-2

28 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Online Voting: Security Issues Remain A Major Hurdle (Hartford Courant)

ME: Madison defends gas plan (Morning Sentinel)

MA: Parents put pressure on to build new Hunking School (Eagle-Tribune)

NH: Energy upgrades benefit taxpayers (Concord Monitor)

RI: Water treatment plant begins construction (Coventry Courier)

VT: Middlebury to vote on economic post (Addison County Independent)

Background information:

Town of Madison, ME

Haverhill, MA, Public Schools

City of Haverhill, MA

City of Concord, NH

Kent County, RI, Water Authority

Town of Middlebury, VT

NFPA: Most Home Fire Deaths Resulted from Fires in Properties without Working Smoke Alarms

In 2005-2009, approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in properties without working smoke alarms, according to a report “Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires,” recently released by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The report examines the number of reported fires in U.S. households with and without working smoke alarms, as well as the effectiveness of smoke alarms in preventing fire-related deaths.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The death rate per 100 reported fires was twice as high in homes without a working smoke alarm as it was in home fires with smoke alarm protection.
  • Out of all home fire deaths, 38 percent resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present.
  • Hardwired smoke alarms are more reliable than those powered solely by batteries.
  • Many homes do not have the protection recommended in recent editions of NFPA 72®, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which requires interconnected smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home.

Based on the information in this report, NFPA recommends:

  • installing smoke alarms inside every bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement;
  • interconnect all smoke alarms so when one sounds they all sound;
  • using both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms or combination ionization and photoelectric alarms, also known as dual sensor alarms (An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires.);
  • replacing all smoke alarms every ten years or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested; and
  • testing all smoke alarms at least once a month by using the test button.

To access the complete report, please visit:

NFPA: Smoke Alarms in U.S. Home Fires (September 2011)

Background information:

National Fire Protection Association

Public/Private Fire Safety Council: Home Smoke Alarms and Other Fire Detection and Alarm Equipment (April 2006)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for inspirations to praise and thank You.

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Offers Considerations for Global Financial Community

The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace recently issued a document offering some thoughts on the challenges facing the global financial community. The release of this document, “Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority,” led to a number of comments by people of diverse political/economic stances - many of which appeared to be offered by persons who have not read the document (as, unfortunately, so often happens when papal encyclicals and other Church documents are released.

To access a copy of the document, please visit:

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of a Global Public Authority (provisional English translation)

Media reports:

Catholic and Enjoying It!: Vatican Reveals Itself as Agent of the Beast!!!!! (27 OCT 11)

Domine, da mihi hanc aquam!: Vatican Wants One World Government!!! (24 OCT 11)

Whispers in the Loggia: Toward a World Watchdog: The Vatican Talks Finance (24 OCT 11)

CatholicVote: Pope Benedict Calls For “Central World Bank” … Only He Didn’t. Here’s Why. (24 OCT 11)

Background information:

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (2003)

Vatican: Populorum Progressio - Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Development of Peoples (26 March 1967)

Reflection Starter from Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

27 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: After CO incident, Wallingford FD gives out 100 detectors (Record-Journal)

ME: Falmouth moves ahead with train whistle 'quiet zones' (The Forecaster)

MA: Private firm hired as Wareham town accountant (The Standard-Times)

NH: Report shows Phoenix Program students struggled after closure (Nashua Telegraph)

RI: Touisset Tower Plan Questioned (Warren Times-Gazette)

VT: Town offers tax abatement for flood damage (Brattleboro Reformer)

Background information:

Town of Wallingford, CT

Town of Falmouth, ME

Town of Wareham, MA

Nashua, NH, School District

City of Nashua, NH

Town of Warren, RI

Town of Brattleboro, VT

2011 Maine Crime Victimization Report Released

According to a report recently released by the Maine Statistical Analysis Center (a partnership between the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service and the Maine Department of Corrections), while Maine residents tend to feel safe in their communities, the crimes with the highest victimization rates were identity theft, property crimes, and stalking. In addition, respondents report being threatened with violence nearly twice as often as being the victim of a violent crime.

Media report:

Bangor Daily News: What are the biggest factors in crimes? Drugs, lack of parental discipline, study says (27 OCT 11)

To access the complete report, please visit:

Muskie School of Public Service: 2011 Maine Crime Victimization Report

Background information:

Maine Statistical Analysis Center

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You touch our hearts through music.

Msgr. Charles Pope on the Power of Music

"I have learned . . . that music is powerful beyond words, and often does what words alone can never do. I have often heard or read a Scripture, which may have had only marginal impact on me. And then the choir takes it up in song and it is pressed on my heart like never before, such that I can never forget it."

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the power of music to touch our hearts.

To access Msgr. Pope's complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: On The Power of Music that Stretches Beyond Words – How Beauty Serves Truth and Goodness (23 OCT 11)

Reflection Starter from H. R. White

"Each small act of kindness reverberates across great distances & spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo, because kindness is passed on and grows each time it's passed, until a simple courtesy becomes an act of selfless courage years later and far away. Likewise, each small meanness, each expression of hatred, each act of evil." - H. R. White

26 October 2011

New Fire Station Nears Completion in Charlestown, RI

Although the recession over the past few years has been a challenging time for the region’s fire, rescue, and emergency medical services, fire apparatus is still being purchased and stations are still being built or rehabilitated. A good example of this is the Charlestown, RI, Fire District’s new Cross Mills fire station.

Media report:

Westerly Sun: Cross Mills fire station nears completion (23 OCT 11)

Background information:

Charlestown, RI, Fire District

Town of Charlestown, RI

Wikipedia: Charlestown, Rhode Island

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: State Supreme Court to hear Bridgeport school board case (Connecticut Post)

ME: Washington County social service providers seek effective ways to combat domestic violence (Bangor Daily News)

MA: School buses still arriving to class late (Boston Globe)

NH: City seeks to prohibit picking through trash (New Hampshire Union Leader)

RI: Cross Mills fire station nears completion (Westerly Sun)

VT: School and community library agree on access (Deerfield Valley News)

Background information:

Bridgeport, CT, Public Schools

City of Bridgeport, CT

New England City & Town News Notes: State to Take Over Bridgeport, CT, Schools (9 JUL 11)

Have Justice - Will Travel

Boston, MA, Public Schools

City of Boston, MA

City of Manchester, NH

Charlestown, RI, Fire District

Town of Charlestown, RI

Westport, CT, Parks and Recreation Dept. to Receive NAYS Award

The National Alliance for Youth Sports has announced that the Westport, CT, Parks and Recreation Department is a 2011 Excellence in Youth Sports Award winner. The award, presented in conjunction with Athletic Business magazine, is designed to honor programs that are doing superior jobs of conducting diverse activities with a focus on providing safe and positive experiences for all participants - including children, parents, and coaches

The Westport Parks and Recreation Department will be presented with their award at the NAYS Youth Sports Congress in Orlando, Florida (30 November – 3 December).

Background information:

National Alliance for Youth Sports

Westport Parks and Recreation Department

Town of Westport

Wikipedia: Westport, Connecticut

A Note to Civil Authorities from the Book of Wisdom

"Give ear, you who have power over multitudes and lord it over throngs of peoples!
Because authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High,
who shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels!" - Wisdom 6:2-3

Today's Office of Readings includes Chapter 6 from the Book of Wisdom, which offers some guidance for leaders in government.

To access the complete chapter, please visit:

USCCB: NAB: Wisdom: Chapter 6

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for warm clothing.

Father James Farfaglia on the Case for a Free Market Economy

"From Wall Street to the international protests that fill the news, the cacophony of slogans, anger and ideologies all need a response from the social teachings of the Catholic Church.  When we look to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church we will find an objective source of answers for the present turbulent economic crisis."

In a recent commentary, Father James Farfaglia ( pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Corpus Christi, Texas) reflected on the Church's social teaching as it applies to a free market economy. Among the considerations mentioned by Fr. Farfaglia:
  • the social teaching of the Church does not have a problem with a free market economy;
  • the social teaching of the Church does not have a problem with people who are successful in their business endeavors;
  • there must be a relationship between the economy and morality; and
  • any economy, especially a market driven economy, will need some kind of regulation and intervention from the State in order to guarantee individual freedom, private property, a stable currency, and stable public services.
To access the complete post by Father James Farfaglia, please visit:

The Happy Priest: The Case for a Free Market Economy (24 OCT 11)

Reflection Starter from Robert Schuller

"Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines." - Rev. Robert H. Schuller

25 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Engineers to pull up turf at Boyle Stadium (Stamford Advocate)

ME: ‘Carelessness’ leads to Rockport high school’s $56,000 laptop repair bill (Bangor Daily News)

MA: Town pulls plug on turbine project (Standard-Times)

NH: Beach precinct to pay disputed festival bill (Hampton Union)

RI: Grebien to partake in ride-along program (Pawtucket Times)

VT: South Burlington to hold workshop on City Center design (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Stamford, CT, Public Schools

City of Stamford, CT

Maine Learning Technology Initiative

Town of Dartmouth, MA

Town of Hampton, NH

City of Pawtucket, RI

City of South Burlington, VT

Red Ribbon Week

This week, the week of 23-31 October (or, in some areas, 22-30 October), is being observed as Red Ribbon Week, a time to designed to raise awareness regarding the need for alcohol, tobacco, and other drug and violence prevention, early intervention, and treatment services.

Background information:

Red Ribbon Coalition


Media report:

Record-Journal: Red Ribbon Week kicks off (25 OCT 11)

This Week’s New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch

To access this week’s issue of New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch, please visit:

New England City & Town Weekly Dispatch - 25 October 2011

Third National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, (29 October). The free event will be held from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM. As of this writing, there are 68 collection sites planned in Connecticut, 165 in Maine, 177 in Massachusetts, 78 in New Hampshire, 38 in Rhode Island, and 52 in Vermont.

2011 Natl Rx Drug Take Back Day

Public health, law enforcement, and other government and community representatives will be working at these sites to collect expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs that are potentially dangerous if left in the family’s medicine cabinet.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is designed to address a vital public safety and public health issue.  More than seven million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, according to the 2009 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  Each day, approximately, 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time, according to the Partnership for a Drug Free America.  Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including the home medicine cabinet.

DEA, in conjunction with local and state law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, conducted National Prescription Drug Take Back Days on Saturday, 25 September 2010 and 25 April 2011.  Almost 4,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the nation participated in these events, collecting more than 309 tons of pills.

To locate a collection site, please visit:

National Take Back Initiative Collection Sites

For more information and resources related to National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, please visit:

Drug Disposal - National Take Back Initiative

DEA: National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Toolbox

Media report:

Bangor Daily News: Police departments statewide readying for drug take-back day (25 OCT 11)

Background information:

Partnership for a Drug Free America

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: SAMHSA: 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for sacramental graces, those distinctive graces related to the specific purpose of each of the sacraments.

Father John Zuhlsdorf on the Importance of Reviving the Use of the Sacrament of Penance

"It is critical to our identity as Catholics to revive the use of the Sacrament of Penance. I think there are some moves in that direction on the part of younger priests, but we need also a grassroots effort of committed Catholic lay people to begin asking their priests and their bishops to hear confessions."

In a recent commentary, Father John Zuhlsdorf reflected on the importance of promoting the sacrament of reconciliation and on the importance of priests making time to hear confessions on a regularly scheduled basis - even if the numbers of people coming to receive the sacrament do not currently appear to justify it.

To access Fr. Zuhlsdorf's complete post, please visit:

Fr. Z's Blog – What Does The Prayer Really Say?: BISHOPS & PRIESTS: a revival of the Sacrament of Penance is critical for a revival of our Catholic identity. (23 OCT 11)

Background information:

The Vatican: Letter of the Holy Father John Paul II to Priests for Holy Thursday 2002

EWTN: Letter of the Holy Father John Paul II to Priests for Holy Thursday 1986

Reflection Starter from Saint Thomas Aquinas

"All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, has its origin in the Spirit." - Saint Thomas Aquinas

24 October 2011

3-Alarm Fire Destroys Country Club of Greenfield, MA

A three-alarm fire on Saturday, 22 October, destroyed one of the buildings at the Country Club of Greenfield, 130 Country Club Road in Greenfield, MA. The initial alarm was transmitted at approximately 0530 hours. The Greenfield Fire Department was assisted by over 20 mutual aid companies, including companies from Amherst, Northampton, and Turners Falls, MA, and Brattleboro, VT.

Media reports:

Springfield Republican: Country Club of Greenfield members vow to rebuild after a fire destroyed the clubhouse (24 OCT 11)

The Recorder: Long-time member: ‘The worst part of this is losing all of that history’ (24 OCT 11)

The Recorder: Clubhouse burns down (24 OCT 11)

Springfield Republican: Investigation into three-alarm blaze that destroyed Country Club of Greenfield underway (23 OCT 11)

WSHM-TV: Three-alarm fire levels Greenfield Country Club (22 OCT 11)

WWLP-TV: Fire destroys Greenfield country club (22 OCT 11)

Springfield Republican Photo Gallery: Fire destroys clubhouse at the Country Club of Greenfield

YouTube: Country Club of Greenfield Fire

YouTube: Three alarm fire destroys Greenfield Country Club

YouTube: An early morning fire completely destroyed the Country Club of Greenfield on 10-22-11

Background information:

Greenfield Fire Department

Town of Greenfield

Wikipedia: Greenfield, Massachusetts

The Country Club of Greenfield

Google Map: 130 Country Club Road, Greenfield, Massachusetts

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Windham, skaters create park (Norwich Bulletin)

ME: Companies hiring, just not Mainers (Morning Sentinel)

MA: State may take bigger role in schools (Eagle-Tribune)

NH: Town prepares to attract business (Concord, NH)

RI: City starts work on Conant Street Bridge (Pawtucket Times)

VT: Pre-K possibility gets enthusiasm from parents (Bennington Banner)

Background information:

Town of Windham, CT

Maine Department of Labor

Lawrence, MA, Public Schools

City of Lawrence, MA

Town of Bow, NH

City of Pawtucket, RI

Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union

NCCJ Hosts Youth Brainstorming Conference to Address Bullying

In an event sponsored by the National Conference for Community and Justice, a few hundred teen-agers from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island recently gathered at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, to consider how to transform the culture of school communities into safe, welcoming space for all young people.

This conference was part of the NCCJ YES! (Youth Establishing Strength initiative in which NCCJ is asking teenagers for their perspective on what should be done to stop the epidemic of bullying that overshadows their lives. The conference is designed to launch a multi-year initiative that promotes youth voices, strategies, and solutions nationwide. The national campaign’s goals are to:

  • reduce the incidence of bullying in participating schools by 25% in three years;
  • improve school climate in the areas of safety, diversity awareness, and inclusion;
  • increase the number, capacity, and visibility of youth leaders; and
  • mobilize youth nationwide across all media platforms to end bullying.

Media report:

Springfield Republican: Teens gather at Basketball Hall of Fame to brainstorm ways to stop bullying (24 OCT 11)

Background information:

NCCJ: YES! - Youth Establishing Strength

National Conference For Community and Justice

National Bullying Prevention Center: October is National Bullying Prevention Month

National Bullying Prevention Center

New England City & Town: Education Issues: Bullying

Thank You, Lord

Thank You, Lord, for blessings disguised as problems.

"This Is Good"

Pastor Tim Davis (of Westside Bible Church, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) sends an electronic newsletter, The Cybersalt Digest, which includes a number of inspirational quotes, reflection starters, and other items designed to lift ones spirits. One recent story Pastor Tim offered, to encourage reflection, was this one:

This Is Good

The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) and remarking, "This is good!"

One day the king and his friend were out on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns, for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is NOT good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.

About a year later, the king was hunting in an area that he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took them to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake, and bound him to the stake. As they came near to set fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone that was less than whole. So untying the king, they sent him on his way.

As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for his treatment of his friend. He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." And he proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so I am very sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was bad for me to do this."

"No," his friend replied, "This is good!"

"What do you mean, 'This is good'? How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?"

"If I had NOT been in jail, I would have been with you."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

"Situations may not always seem pleasant while we are in them, but the promise of God is clear. If we love Him and live our lives according to His precepts, even that which seems to be bleak and hopeless will be turned by God for His glory and our benefit.

"Hold on, God is faithful!"

                                                - Pastor Tim

Saint John of Capistrano

"It has been said the Christian saints are the world’s greatest optimists. Not blind to the existence and consequences of evil, they base their confidence on the power of Christ's redemption. The power of conversion through Christ extends not only to sinful people but also to calamitous events."

Each day, American Catholic posts a reflection entitled "Saint of the Day." This reflection typically focuses on a saint whose feast day is on near that day. Yesterday's reflection was on Saint John of Capistrano, a Franciscan who lived from 1386 to1456. A former governor of Perugia, he entered the Franciscan order and, with twelve companions, encouraged a revival of the faith in central Europe.

For more information about Saint John of Capistrano, please visit: 

American Catholic: St. John of Capistrano

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"The future starts today, not tomorrow." - Blessed Pope John Paul II

23 October 2011

Sandi Patty: "How Great Thou Art"

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer Sandi Patty singing "How Great Thou Art":

Maine Dairy Chosen as World Dairy Expo Ice Cream Grand Champion

Gifford’s Dairy, Skowhegan, ME was selected as the Grade A & Ice Cream Grand Champion of the recent World Dairy Expo Championship Dairy Product Contest. This year’s contest, sponsored by the Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, received a record number of 705 entries for cheese, butter, fluid milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream, sherbet, cultured milk, sour cream dips, whipping cream, dried whey, and creative/innovative products from throughout the United States.

In addition, Philip R's Frozen Desserts of Winchester, MA, received a first place award in the Creative & Innovative Products category for its Lollibons.

For more information about the World Dairy Expo, please visit:

World Dairy Expo

Project Homeless Connect

A number of communities through this region (and the rest of the United States) participate in an initiative called Project Homeless Connect, which is designed as a one day, one stop event organized to deliver free resources to people and families experiencing homelessness in the community. One such event was held on Friday at Saint Bernard School in Montville, CT.

Media report:

Norwich Bulletin: Homeless, helpers connect at 6th annual service event in Montville (22 OCT 11)

For additional information about Project Homeless Connect, please visit:

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness: Project Homeless Connect: A Step-by-Step Guide

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Exodus 22:20-26, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10, and Matthew 22:34-40. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 18 (Psalm 18:2-4, 47, 51).

For one musical version of today's Responsorial Psalm, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 18 I love the Lord my strength

The Gospel reading is as follows: 

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Reflections of these readings:

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Greatest Commandments!

Msgr. Charles Pope: Reciting the Law, Standing on One Foot – A Meditation on the Gospel for the 30th Sunday of the Year (22 OCT 11)

The Lectionary: Jesus’ teaching always guides those who are troubled (20 OCT 11)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Love Commanded (October 23rd, 2011 - 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

YouTube: Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

The Word Embodied: All You Need Is Love (Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time A)

Word to Life: Sirius XM Radio October 21, 2011

Thoughts from the Early Church: Commentary: Augustine

"Always Go to the Funeral"

"I believe in always going to the funeral. My father taught me that."

In an essay recently posted on the This I Believe website, Deirdre Sullivan (an attorney from Brooklyn, New York) reflects on the importance of simple acts of human kindness, such as paying respects at funerals.

To access Ms. Sullivan's complete essay, please visit:

This I Believe: Always Go to the Funeral

To access a National Public Radio/All Things Considered presentation of this essay, please visit:

NPR: All Things Considered: Always Go to the Funeral (8 AUG 05)

This I Believe, Inc., is a not-for-profit organization that works to engage youth and adults from all walks of life in writing, sharing, and discussing brief essays about the core values that guide their daily lives.

For more information about This I Believe, please visit:

This I Believe

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Pope John Paul II and for the gift he was (and is) for Your Church.

Remembering Blessed Pope John Paul II

"Now acclaimed as 'Blessed', how did he act when no one was looking? A Jewish girl fleeing a Nazi death camp tells of her encounter with John Paul II."

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio recently shared a story by Roger Cohen about a survivor of Nazi concentration camps in Poland and her encounter with a seminarian who would eventually become Pope.

To access this essay, please visit:

Crossroads Initiative: Personal Glimpse of the Pope's Belief in Life

In a post published on JPII's feast day, Deacon Greg Kandra shared a glimpse of the "shock it was when the news was announced that the new pope would be a cardinal from Poland." To access his post, please visit:

The Deacon's Bench: “Habemus Papam” (22 OCT 11)

Rocco Palmo also offered some notes from the Inaugural Homily of John Paul's Pontificate:

Whispers in the Loggia: "Blessed Are You, John Paul II, Because You Believed!" (22 OCT 11)

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

"Each person, in some way, is called to work for the common good, constantly looking out for the good of others as if it were his own." - Blessed Pope John Paul II (whose feast day was celebrated yesterday [Saturday, 22 October] for the first time since he was proclaimed Blessed)

22 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Torrington continues talks to use paid firefighters in volunteer station (The Register Citizen)

ME: South Portland bans consumer fireworks (The Forecaster)

MA: Officials spar on bus bill (The Sun Chronicle)

NH: Nashua women laying groundwork for specialized charter school for the arts (Nashua Telegraph)

RI: Scituate council to review Art Festival operation (Valley Breeze)

VT: BHA must stop work on flood-damaged apartments (Brattleboro Reformer)

Background information:

Torringford Volunteer Fire Department, Torrington, CT

Torrington, CT, Fire Department

City of Torrington, CT

City of South Portland, ME

City of Attleboro, MA

New England City & Town: Education Issues: Charter Schools

Town of Scituate, RI

Scituate Art Festival, Scituate, RI

North Scituate Village Business Association, Scituate, RI

Brattleboro, VT, Housing Authority

Town of Brattleboro, VT

Westerly, RI, Public Schools Initiating Academy for Parents

The Westerly, RI, School Department is currently setting up a Parent Academy that is designed to offer free workshops, courses, and other low cost educational opportunities that parents and family members may take to encourage them to become more involved in the education of their children and to help them reach their own personal and career goals.

Media report:

Westerly Sun: Parents are focus of school initiative (21 OCT 11)

Background information:

Westerly Public Schools

Town of Westerly

Wikipedia: Westerly, Rhode Island

School & Main Institute

Other parent academies in the region:

Guilford, CT, Public Schools Parent Academy

Boston, MA, Public Schools: Parent University

Brockton, MA, Public Schools: Parents' Academy

Springfield, MA, Parent Academy

Facebook: Springfield Parent Academy

Torrington, CT, Considers Daytime Paid Firefighters at Volunteer Station

Torrington, CT, officials are considering a plan to station paid firefighters at the Torringford Volunteer Fire Department quarters during daytime hours. The Torringford  department covers the east side of the Torrington.

Media report:

The Register Citizen: Torrington continues talks to use paid firefighters in volunteer station (22 OCT 11)

Background information:

Torringford Volunteer Fire Department

Torrington Fire Department

City of Torrington

Wikipedia: Torrington, Connecticut

Latest U.S. Gang Threat Assessment Released

According to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment recently released by the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC), approximately 1.4 million gang members belonging to more than 33,000 gangs were criminally active in the U.S. as of April, 2011. The assessment was developed through analysis of available federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and corrections agency information; 2010 NDIC National Drug Threat Survey data; and verified open source information.

“Gangs continue to expand, evolve, and become more violent. The FBI, along with its federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners, strives to disrupt and prevent their criminal activities and seek justice for innocent victims of their crimes,” said Assistant Director Kevin Perkins, FBI Criminal Investigative Division, in a prepared statement.

Other key findings are as follows:

  • Gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of violent crime in most jurisdictions and up to 90 percent in several others, according to NGIC analysis.
  • Gangs are increasingly engaging in non-traditional gang-related crime such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution. Gangs are also engaging in white-collar crime such as counterfeiting, identity theft, and mortgage fraud.
  • Gangs are becoming increasingly adaptable and sophisticated, employing new and advanced technology to facilitate criminal activity discreetly, enhance their criminal operations, and connect with other gang members, criminal organizations, and potential recruits nationwide and even worldwide.

To access the complete report, please visit:

FBI: 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment – Emerging Trends

"Lift High the Cross"

While walking on my way to work the other day, I found myself humming "Lift High the Cross."

This version was sung by the choir of Norwich Cathedral:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for family gatherings that offer an opportunity to catch up on what is happening in our lives and to share good comaraderie.

Marcel LeJeune on Habits of Highly Effective Catholics

"Borrowing an idea from Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I have compiled the following:

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Catholics"

In a recent commentary, evangelist Marcel LeJeune offers his thoughts (with related quotations from Scripture) on characteristics of "effective" Catholics.

To access the complete post, please visit:

Aggie Catholics: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Catholics (19 OCT 11)

Reflection Starter from Earl Nightingale

“Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it.  The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use.” - Earl Nightingale

21 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Team's payments fall short of covering Fitch school field improvements (The Day)

ME: Panel OKs razing buildings for station (The Times Record)

MA: Close, explicit dance puts students, schools far apart (Boston Globe)

NH: Police feel handcuffed by selectmen's decision on dispatch (Conway Daily Sun)

RI: Council makes dog park permanent (Pawtucket Times)

VT: Burlington/South Burlington airport-fee agreement delayed (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

Town of Groton

Town of Brunswick, ME

Town of Conway, NH

City of Pawtucket, RI

Burlington International Airport, VT

City of Burlington, VT

City of South Burlington, VT

NFPA Fire Journal Looks at Wildland Fires

A 2011 October special bonus issue of NFPA Journal®, the official magazine of the National Fire Protection Association, is designed to addresses the increasing problem of wildland fires and the related challenges faced by communities. The cover story, “Working Together,” details ways that NFPA is working to reduce wildfire losses through a series of worldwide partnerships, research endeavors and community practices, and confirms its mission of saving lives and property on an international scale. Other topics of the wildland fire safety issue include the Firewise® Communities Program, international partners, the fire service, environmental issues, standards development and emergency management.

To access the cover story, please visit:

NFPA Fire Journal: Working Together (October 2011)

Background information:

National Fire Protection Association

Immaculata Symphony: "Flight to Neverland"

Immaculata University, like many colleges and universities, has a fine music program. In this video, the Immaculata Symphony (conducted by Joseph Gehring) performs "Flight to Neverland" from Hook (by John Williams) at its Youth Concert on 22 February 2009:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your merciful goodness.

"The Mighty Macs" of Immaculata

"In one of the opening scenes of The Mighty Macs, you're looking down from the ceiling into the beautiful, massive rotunda at the entrance of Immaculata College.  It's mostly empty and quiet, yet there's a sense that something big is about to come to that grand hall. 'When next you see this space,' an unspoken voice seems to whisper, 'it will be immortalized in a moment, and things will never be the same.'  And so this incredible story begins.

"And what a story!  You might think it was just fanciful screenwriting were it not based on the amazing true account of Cathy Rush and the Immaculata women's basketball team in the early 1970's."

In a recent Catholic Online movie review, Jennifer Hartline offers her thoughts on The Mighty Macs, a movie, written and directed by Tim Chambers, that is designed to tell the story of beginnings of the Immaculata College (now Immaculata University) women's basketball program and its rise to become the women's basketball dynasty. The movie opens in theaters nationwide today (21 October).

To access this movie review, please visit:

Catholic Online: 'The Mighty Macs': The Cinderella Story of Women's Basketball That Will Leave You Cheering (20 OCT 11)

For additional information, please visit:

YouTube: The Mighty Macs Trailer

The Mighty Macs

Mercury News: Immaculata—the first women's basketball dynasty (19 OCT 11)

Immaculata University

Pope Benedict on Psalm 136

In his weekly general audiences in Saint Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI has been conducting a series of catecheses dedicated to the Psalms. In this week's audience, the Holy Father focused his attention on Psalm 136, "a great hymn of praise which celebrates the Lord in the many and repeated manifestations of His goodness down human history."

The Pope explained how, in Jewish tradition, this Psalm is sung at the end of the Passover supper, and therefore it was probably also pronounced by Jesus at the last Passover He celebrated with His disciples (the Last Supper). The text enumerates God's many interventions in favor of His people "and each proclamation of a salvific action by the Lord is answered by an antiphon reiterating the main cause for praise: God's eternal love, a love which, according to the Hebrew term used, implies faithfulness, mercy, goodness, grace, and tenderness."

God is first presented as "He Who 'does great wonders', first among them that of the creation: heaven, earth and stars. . . . With the creation the Lord shows Himself in all His goodness and beauty. He commits Himself to life, revealing a desire for good whence all other salvific actions arise."

The Psalm goes on to consider God's manifestations in history, evoking the great moment when the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt. The forty years of wandering in the desert were "a decisive period for Israel which, allowing itself to be guided by the Lord, learned to live on faith, obedient and docile to the laws of God. Those were difficult years, marked by the harshness of life in the desert, but also a happy time of confidence and filial trust in the Lord."

"The history of Israel has known exhilarating moments of joy, of fullness of life, of awareness of the presence of God and His salvation," said the Pope. "But it has also been marked by episodes of sin, painful periods of darkness and profound affliction. Many were the adversaries from whom the Lord liberated His people." The Psalm speaks of these events, in particular the Babylonian exile and the destruction of Jerusalem, "when it seemed that Israel had lost everything, even its own identity, even its trust in the Lord. However, God remembers, and frees. The salvation of Israel and of all mankind is bound to the Lord's faithfulness, to His memory. While man forgets easily, God remains faithful: His memory is a precious casket containing that 'love which endures forever' about which our Psalm speaks."

The Psalm concludes by reminding us that God feeds His creatures, "caring for life and giving bread. . . . In the fullness of time the Son of God became man to give life, for the salvation of each one of us; and He continues to gives Himself as bread in the mystery of the Eucharist, so as to draw us into His covenant, which makes us children. So great is God's merciful goodness, the sublimity of His 'love which endures forever.'" In conclusion the Pope read a quote from the First Letter of Saint John, advising the faithful to bear it in mind in their prayers: "See what love the Father has given us, that that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are."

(from the Vatican Information Service)

To access a copy of Psalm 136, please visit: 

USCCB: Psalm 136 (New American Bible)

Reflection Starter from George Washington

"No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the political machine from the impending storm." - George Washington (in a letter to James Madison, 1786)

20 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: Hartford School Board Approves $183K Marketing Contract for 'Choose' Campaign (Hartford Courant)

ME: Safety check call alarms landlords (Times Record)

MA: Supt. kicks off enrollment initiative (Barnstable Patriot)

NH: Troy Grant paves way for safer commute (Exeter News-Letter)

RI: Cumberland schools among first to address at-home cyberbullying (Valley Breeze)

VT: Essex worked to smooth permit process (Burlington Free Press)

Background information:

City of Hartford, CT

Hartford, CT, Public Schools

Town of Brunswick, ME

Barnstable, MA, Public Schools

Town of Barnstable, MA

Town of Stratham, NH

Cumberland, RI, Public Schools

Town of Cumberland, RI

Town of Essex, VT

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week

The week of 23-29 October is National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Lead-Free Kids for a Healthy Future.” National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is observed every year during the last full week in October.


Childhood lead poisoning is considered one of the most preventable environmental disease among young children. However, an estimated 250,000 U.S. children have elevated blood-lead levels. A simple blood test can prevent permanent damage that will last a lifetime.

During National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week , the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strives to:

  • raise awareness about lead poisoning,
  • stress the importance of screening the highest risk children younger than six years of age (preferably by ages one and two) if they have not been tested yet,
  • highlight efforts to prevent childhood lead poisoning, and
  • urge people to take steps to reduce lead exposure.

During this week, a number of states and communities offer free blood-lead testing and conduct various education and awareness events.

Background information:

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week 2011

Lead-Free Kids Campaign

CDC: Lead Poisoning Prevention Tips

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: National Lead Information Center

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control

Domestic Violence Advocate Responding with Police Officers

Family Crisis Services, a non-profit organization that works towards ending abuse in Cumberland and Sagadahoc Counties, Maine, has received a $47,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women that has enabled them to hire a domestic violence advocate who will respond with police officers to domestic violence calls in rural parts of the region.

Media report:

The Times Record: Partnership aims to speed response to abuse victims (14 OCT 11)

Background information:

Family Crisis Services

Facebook: Family Crisis Services

U.S. Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women: Grant Programs

Sagadahoc County Sheriff's Department

New England City & Town: Public Safety Issues: Domestic Violence

National Bullying Prevention Month

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. This observance was founded by National Center for Bullying Prevention, an initiative of the PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights). The campaign is held during the month of October and and is designed to unite communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention.

Background information:

National Bullying Prevention Center: October is National Bullying Prevention Month

National Bullying Prevention Center

New England City & Town: Education Issues: Bullying

Saint Augustine on Not Knowing What to Pray For

"You may still want to ask why the Apostle said: We do not know what it is right to pray for, because, surely, we cannot believe that either he or those to whom he wrote did not know the Lord’s Prayer."

From today's Office on Readings comes a reflection on prayer by Saint Augustine.

To access this reading, please visit:

Catholic Radio Dramas: We Do Not Know What it is Right to Pray For, From a Letter to Proba by Saint Augustine, Bishop (354-430)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for dry periods during which You encourage us to depend ever more on You.

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

 "To humanity, which sometimes seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the risen Lord gives the gift of His love which forgives, reconciles and reopens the soul to hope." - Blessed Pope John Paul II

19 October 2011

New England Municipal Government News Headlines

Recent news stories related to municipal government in New England include these articles:

CT: 'No fatal flaw' uncovered in development plan for Pawcatuck neighborhood (The Day)

ME: Everyone should have access to digital information, session urges (Bangor Daily News)

MA: City bans sex offenders (The Sun Chronicle)

NH: Arson task force created in city (New Hampshire Union Leader)

RI: Judge Says Tiger Compost Manufacturing Violates Town Law (Sakonnet Times)

VT: Grievance could influence tax rate in Middlebury (Addison County Independent)

Background information:

Town of Stonington, CT

City of Attleboro, MA

City of Manchester, NH

Town of Tiverton, RI

Town of Middlebury, VT

International Award Recognizes Successful Ongoing Work to Clean the Charles River

The Charles River in Massachusetts is the 2011 winner of the International Riverprize, considered to be one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards.  The designation, bestowed by the International River Foundation, is awarded for visionary and sustainable excellence in river management.  River projects from over 20 countries competed for this year’s award. One of the key partners in the effort to restore the Charles River to ecological health, the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), accepted the Riverprize award on 27 September at the 14th International River Symposium in Brisbane, Australia.

Begun in 1995, the effort to make the Charles River both “fishable” and “swimmable” as key measures for ecological health has thus far been a 17-year effort with significant contributions from the US EPA, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Cities of Boston and Cambridge, the Massachusetts Water Resources Agency (MWRA), and the CRWA.

“This international recognition for the sustained accomplishments of our many partners speaks to a unique and excellent partnership,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, in a prepared statement. “The work to clean the Charles River spans nearly two decades, and has won the support of elected and appointed officials from both political parties, three generations of EPA leadership and scores of unheralded professionals who have applied their brainpower and energy to finding solutions to the pollution problems which once plagued the Charles. We still have more work to do to ensure the Charles is a great resource for Bostonians, but we can all be proud of the work we have done.”

The Clean Charles initiative was an initiative of former EPA New England Regional Administrator John P. DeVillars, who led EPA’s Region 1 office from 1994-2000. "The Clean Charles Initiative is a textbook model for effective collaboration between EPA, other Federal and state agencies, NGOs, and the private sector,” said DeVillars in a response to the award. “The results speak for themselves - a river whose polluted state was once the topic of popular song -"Love that Dirty Water" - is now a swimmable urban oasis. Hats off to all involved!!"

The efforts to improve water quality in the lower Charles River reflect the coordinated efforts by government and local groups to identify sources and reduce bacteria levels, in turn making water quality safe for boaters and increasingly for swimmers.  Despite remarkable progress reducing bacteria levels, there continues to be heightened concern about elevated levels of nutrients, especially phosphorus, in the Charles River.  Both EPA and MassDEP are engaged in efforts to limit the discharge of phosphorus into the River.

The Charles has improved dramatically since the launch of EPA’s Charles River Initiative in 1995, when the river met boating standards only 39 percent of the time and swimming standards just 19 percent of the time. In 2010 (the most recent year where season-long water quality data are available), the Charles met boating standards 86 percent of the time, and swimming standards 66 percent of the time, according to data collected by the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) between Watertown Dam and Boston Harbor.  The swimming percentage is the highest recorded since the EPA began grading the river in 1995.

Background information:

International River Foundation’s Thiess Riverprize

EPA: Charles River Initiative

Charles River Watershed Association

America Recycles Day

Since 1997, America Recycles Day has been observed on 15 November. This observance is designed to promote, via education and motivation, recycling in the United States.

For more information about America Recycles Day, please visit:

America Recycles Day

For additional information, please visit:

EPA: Recycling

Recycle Together Initiative


Stamford, CT, Experiencing Significant Rise in Emergency Medical Calls

The Stamford, CT, Emergency Medical Services has been experiencing a significant rise in call volume that as led to the staffing of an additional ambulance.

To access a Stamford Advocate article on this challenge, please visit:

Stamford Advocate: Sicker patients, rising call volume keep city's medics on the move (18 OCT 11)

Background information:

Stamford, CT, Emergency Medical Services

City of Stamford, CT

Wikipedia: Stamford, Connecticut

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us to participate in spreading Your Good News.

World Mission Sunday

Sunday (23 October) is World Mission Sunday. Annually observed on the next-to-last Sunday in October, World Mission Sunday is a time to "celebrate the hope that saves" through prayer and participation in the Eucharist and by giving generously to the collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. The universal celebration of this day serves to reawaken and promote awareness of the Church’s missionary nature. This year's theme is "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (John 20:21).

As part of his message for World Mission Sunday, Pope Benedict writes:

"The universal mission involves all, all things and always. The Gospel is not an exclusive possession of whoever has received it but a gift to share, good news to communicate. And this gift-commitment is not only entrusted to a few but on the contrary to all the baptized, who are "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people" (1 Pt 2:9), so that they may declare his wonderful deeds.

"All activities are involved in it. Attention to and cooperation in the Church's evangelizing work in the world cannot be limited to a few moments or special occasions nor can they be considered as one of the many pastoral activities: the Church's missionary dimension is essential and must therefore always be borne in mind.

"It is important that both individual baptized people and ecclesial communities be involved in the mission, not sporadically or occasionally but in a constant manner, as a form of Christian life. The World Mission Day itself is not an isolated moment in the course of the year but rather a valuable opportunity to pause and reflect on whether and how we respond to our missionary vocation; an essential response for the Church's life."

For more information about World Mission Sunday, please visit: 

The Pontifical Mission Societies: World Mission Sunday
Message of Pope Benedict XVI for the World Mission Sunday 2011

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:16-20