Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Botched Plum Island Water and Sewer Systems to be Rpaired with $5.5 Mllion Setlement

For the details I have provided a link to the agreement and the text of the Attorney General’s office press release which describes the impact the failed system has had on residents, state investigations, and the recent agreement.

BOSTON – A Boston-based engineering firm will pay $5.5 million to settle allegations it failed in its obligations to adequately oversee construction of Plum Island’s water and sewer systems, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

Construction of the systems, which are maintained by the City of Newburyport, was funded through loans from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s (MassDEP) Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

“This company failed to take the necessary steps to make certain that this project was built in accordance with its own technical specifications,” said AG Healey. “We are pleased that we could come to an agreement that provides Newburyport with the resources needed to undertake needed repairs and ensure the integrity of Plum Island’s critical infrastructure.”

According to today’s settlement, CDM Smith, Inc. (CDM) will pay the state $5.5 million, of which $5.3 million will be paid to the City of Newburyport and placed in a trust fund earmarked for costs and expenses related to the repair, modification, or optimization of Plum Island’s water and sewer systems.

“I’m grateful to the Attorney General for all of her office’s work on this and for helping us reach an agreement that will provide our city with the resources necessary to repair this system,” said Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday.

“The contractor on this water and sewer project failed to oversee and manage its installation, resulting in serious repair costs and service disruption for residents,” said Inspector General Glenn A. Cunnha. “I thank the Attorney General’s office for pursuing and achieving a settlement that holds the contractor accountable.”

“The city has been working hard to manage their systems,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Today’s settlement will ensure that Newburyport can make the needed improvements.”

“Serious problems with the water and sewer infrastructure on Plum Island have been deeply concerning for some time now, and they need to be properly addressed,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester). “Fortunately the Attorney General, working with the Mayor and other local officials, has secured a path forward that will bring accountability for those charged with overseeing the project and the resources needed to correct the defects that have us all concerned.”

"I greatly appreciate Mayor Holaday's focus on this matter, the strong advocacy of Attorney General's Office attorneys, as well as the efforts of the state's Inspector General's Office," said Sen. Kathleen O'Connor Ives (D-Newburyport).

“I am glad to see this come to a close and I know that the residents of Plum Island are too,” said Rep. James Kelcourse, (R-Amesbury). “So many people worked hard to get to this point and we are grateful to them for it."

"As someone who is in the construction business I very much want to see contractors who do work for the Commonwealth be held responsible for their actions,” said Rep. Lenny Mirra, (R-West Newbury). “Residents and taxpayers will be glad to know that we have an Attorney General's office that will work with elected officials to protect our interests."

In 2000 and 2002, CDM won contracts to design and oversee construction of a water and sewer system for Plum Island, a barrier island that includes parts of the City of Newburyport and the Town of Newbury, with more than 1,200 homes. Under the two contracts, CDM wrote the technical specifications for the project, including a requirement that ductile iron pipe be wrapped in polyethylene to inhibit corrosion. CDM also acted as the on-site agent to ensure that the contractors responsible for building the project did so in accordance with CDM’s specifications.

The AG’s Office commenced its investigation after an initial investigation by the Office of the Inspector General following a 2011 water main break revealed that ductile iron pipes at the site of the break had not been wrapped in polyethylene and were severely corroded. Today’s settlement resolves the AG’s allegations that CDM: did not conform to its design and construction oversight obligations; did not properly familiarize its on-site agents with the ductile iron specification; and did not ensure that contractors abide by those specifications, thereby exposing critical components of the system to corrosive elements.

Plum Island Water & Sewer $5.5 M Settlement Agreement


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Registry Low Number Plate Lottery Applications Accepted Until Friday

- Online applications may be made for the first time -

If you ever wanted to have a unique license plate other than a “vanity plate” you just might be in luck. The Registry of Motor Vehicles is accepting applications for the state’s Low Number Plate Lottery —there is no cost to apply. For the first time ever motorists can submit an entry online by going to: Applications for the 2016 lottery are also being accepted by U.S. mail. If you prefer to mail in your entry you can download the one page application and the list of available plates can be found for free at:, or at Registry locations throughout the state. Please note that mailed entries must be postmarked by Friday August 26, 2016, to be eligible.

183 distinctive plates are part of the low plate lottery. While there is no fee to apply, if your application is selected as a winner there is a fee to receive the license plate in addition to the standard registration fee. The RMV requires that these plates must be renewed every two years.

The names of winners will be announced and posted on the Registry’s website by September 15, 2016. Good luck.


New Law Protects Pets Left in Cars

I joined Governor Charlie Baker, Senator Mark Montigny (D- New Bedford), Representative Lori Ehrlich (D- Marblehead), and other supporters of Senate Bill 2369, An Act Preventing Animal Suffering and Death at an outdoor State House bill signing ceremony.

As a consistent champion of animal welfare legislation on Beacon Hill and a co-sponsor of the legislation, I think the signing of this bill sends a clear message that action can and should be taken to protect animals at risk from exposure to extreme temperatures. Too many times in the past, people have been left wondering what to do as an animal suffers in a locked car. Now there's a definitive answer backed by the protections of this law.

Major provisions of the new law include measures that:
• Restrict dog tethering or leaving a dog outdoors in extreme weather or when a weather advisory, warning or watch is issued, • Allow citizens and officers to free animals confined in a locked car after making reasonable efforts to locate the vehicle’s owner, • Set penalties, up to $500, and possible criminal animal cruelty charges for owners who neglect animals in vehicles, • Provide immunity from criminal or civil liability for those who take actions to release a trapped animal.

In the past several years the legislature has taken major steps to strengthen our animal welfare laws. We still have work to do, but there should be no doubt about our commitment to doing it.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Whittier Bridge/I-95 Advisory Overnight Ramp and Lane Closures Through Friday the 26th

The MassDOT’s announced that ramps and lanes for the Whittier Bridge will be closed the for nighttime paving operations Friday the 26th. Detour signs will be placed during the closure of the Route 286 Main Street on-ramp to I-95 South.

MassDOT encourages drivers to avoid the area and seek alternate routes to minimize delays. Those traveling through the area are asked to use caution and expect delays.

The following roads, ramps and lanes will be impacted:
  • Route 286 Main Street on-ramp to I-95 South – Wednesday, August 24, through Friday, August 26, from 8:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,
  • Exit 59 from I-95 South to I-495 South – from 11:00 PM on Wednesday, August 24, through 4:00 AM on Thursday, August 25,
  • Two lanes on I-95 North between I-495 and Toll Road Bridge – Monday, August 22, through Friday, August 26, from 6:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,
  • Two lanes on I-95 South between Toll Road Bridge and Route 110 – Tuesday, August 23, and Wednesday, August 24, from 6:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,
  • Two lanes on I-95 South between Toll Road Bridge and Route 286 – Thursday, August 25, and Friday, August 26, from 6:00 PM each night to 6:00 AM the following morning,

Take Rabbit Road south and turn right on Route 110/Elm Street in Amesbury. After going under I-95, turn right to take the on-ramp to I-95 South. The detour route for I-95 southbound traffic destined for I-495 South is as follows: From I-95 South, take Exit 58 for Route 110. Merge onto Route 110 West/Macy Street. Take the ramp on the right to merge onto I-495 South.

Here is a link to the MassDOT website to stay informed about this important construction project-…/DesignConstruction.aspx


Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute Launches Biotechnology Training Academy

This week I had the pleasure of touring the state of the art facility of the newest biotechnology center in the state; the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute’s academy to train new workers in techniques that are the foundation for laboratory best practices for bioscience.

Leading the tour of the 3,200-square-foot facility where Chris Munkholm, Director of GMGI and board member Michelle May. We were joined by Bob Coughlin, CEO of Mass Bio, a not-for-profit organization that represents more than 700 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, and other organizations involved in life sciences and healthcare in the state and Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante.

Representative Ferrante and I collaborated in securing $150,000 through the House and Senate budget process for the Institute to develop and implement a middle skills workforce training program. This funding will assist with creating a career ladder for workers not necasarily interested in pursuing a college degree.

GMGI’s efforts will make Cape Ann a hub for biotechnology and create a network of companies and industries that can advance innovations that will benefit our economy, enhance the health and wellbeing of residents, and expand our knowledge of the fisheries.

The Institute, which seeks to accelerate our understanding of marine genomics, has hosted several science forums, pioneered modern research in commercial fisheries such as the cod genome sequencing project, and has attracted strong support from government, corporate and academic institutions. Founded in 2013 by three scientists with world-class experience in the sciences of genomics Greg Verdine, Marc Vidal and David Walt along with Gloucester businesswoman Sheree Zizik are taking great strides to leverage resources from the region and the state to make Cape Ann a leader in biotechnology.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Healthy Children and Communities Through Collaboration

Excellent meeting with leaders of the Tri-Town Council and area legislators to discuss opioid and substance abuse education and prevention among youth and how we might be able to help one another with resources.

I was pleased to attend the legislative briefing held at the Topsfield Library which was hosted by Lisa Teichner, Executive Director of the Tri-Town Council and Meredith Shaw the Coalition Program Coordinator. Representative Brad Hill , Representative Ted Speliotis, Representative Lenny Mirra and Senator Joan Lovely attended this important discussion.

The Council’s mission is to reduce and prevent at-risk behavior and to promote the well-being of Tri-Town youth. Through collaborations with kids, parents, schools, local police officers, and community organizations they identify potential avenues to teach children how to be safe and healthy through good decision making.