Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Heating Season And Heating Assistance

Heating season has arrived and with it the need to spread the word about an important issue – home heating assistance for low income families. Throughout my work as a legislator I have advocated for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program – known as LIHEAP, because in New England heating is a basic human need.

Yesterday, I helped MASSCAP kick-off their annual drive to raise awareness of heating assistance at Kowloon Restaurant in Saugus with Representative Donald H. Wong. They are a congressionally created association of 23 Community Action Agencies mandated and dedicated to fighting poverty. They serve more than 600,000 in our state each year.

State Fire Marshall Michael Newbury also reminded the attendees that heating help is also a safety program- without it people resort to unsafe measures like heating with a stove. He said don't buy a heater second hand and be sure to have your heating system cleaned annually.

Homeowners and renters, including households whose cost of heat is included in the rent, can apply in for help.

Eligibility is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years of age or older. Household income cannot exceed 60% of estimated State Median Income

This program provides assistance for the cost of the primary source of heat such as -
• Oil
• Electricity
• Natural gas
• Propane
• Kerosene
• Wood
• Coal

If eligible, discounts are automatically given on:
• electric bills for investor-owned electric utilities
• gas bills for investor-owned gas utilities
• telephone bills

Payments for actual usage or fuel delivery are made directly to the heating vendor for primary energy needs from November 1st to April 30th except when the cost of heating is included in the rent.

Eligibility/Selection Criteria
• There are a variety of factors that impact the eligibility of a household.
• Eligibility is based on household size and the gross annual income of every household member, 18 years of age or older.
• Household income cannot exceed 60% of estimated State Median Income
• FY2019 LIHEAP Income Eligibility and Benefits Level Chart
• Please contact the local fuel assistance agency for detailed information on criteria used for eligibility.
• Housing subsidies will also determine the specific benefit level.


Monday, October 28, 2019


Adds Funds in New Senate Supplemental Budget Bill 

Boston- Wilmington officials, long concerned about public safety impacts of MBTA commuter trains impeding traffic on Route 62, received substantial financial support in the form of the State Senate’s new supplemental budget bill through an amendment championed by Wilmington’s Senator Bruce Tarr.

Tarr, who offered the $180,000 amendment to Senate Bill 2378, the so-called Closeout Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2019, comes at a time when he and Representative David Robertson (D- Tewksbury) and Representative Ken Gordon (D- Bedford) are continuing to work with town officials and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the state agency responsible for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Commuter Rail system, for a number of years to identify and further develop both short and long-term solutions to the problems that persist at the station.

The problems at the depot, located adjacent to Route 62, are twofold; the current platform to facilitate access to trains does not properly accommodate passengers with physical challenges and that, in turn, causes the train to stoop across the roadway

“We are all working together to find and implement the best solutions for the problems that we face at the North Wilmington train station,” said Senator Tarr. “That collaboration includes the legislative delegation, the police and fire departments, the Town manager and Selectmen, as well as MBTA officials.”

Tarr added “there are solutions in sight, but they depend upon the availability of resources. This funding from the supplemental budget presents and important step in putting significant resources on the table.”

"This train station is a huge burden to Wilmington's traffic and public safety. Working with Senator Tarr, Representative Gordon, the Selectboard and town we've come a long way on what the station will look like, how it will be moved, and possible future parking expansion" said Representative Robertson. "Now, thanks to Senator Tarr's concerted efforts, we have a financial jumping off point that we in the House can support and complement to solve this issue once and for all." Language now added to the Senate’s bill directs $180,000 in state funds “for the planning, design and construction of a handicap accessible platform at the North Wilmington Commuter Rail facility,” this is in addition to the $1 million authorization in the latest economic development bond bill that Tarr added last year.

“I am delighted that the Legislature is addressing this serious concern so that everyone in Wilmington can access public transportation,” said Representative Ken Gordon. Tarr, at a board meeting of the Selectmen following an incident at the station which delayed first responders, called the impediment of emergency response professionals “an absolutely unacceptable situation” and explained that he would continue to work with town and state officials to “ensure that the configuration of the train station would be such that it would now be conducive to getting the train out of the road when it stops.”

Wilmington’s Police and Fire Department vehicles, and those of other emergency responders, are frequently snared in traffic backups at the station and are impeded in responding to emergencies.

Senator Tarr’s amendment provides $180,000 to aid in changes to the platform for those with disability access concerns, which will also aid in altering the location of the locomotive and it’s cars.

The MBTA's Haverhill line makes multiple daily stops, each taking between 1 and 2 minutes, at the North Wilmington depot. These stops trigger the railway safety gates intended to stop traffic in both directions.

Senator Tarr arranged several meetings between the MBTA, Keolis, the company contracted to operate the commuter rail system, and local officials.

“Now we have to work as a team to keep funding for the train station in the final version of the budget that goes to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker,” Tarr said.

Funds for the depot will be released once a final agreement on the budget bill is reached between the House and Senate. Governor Charlie Baker will have a ten day period to sign the bill. Tarr said Wilmington’s delegation in the House of Representatives will play an important role in that process.


Friday, October 25, 2019


Senate Adds Funds in New Senate Supplemental Budget Bill Following Town-Wide Vote 

Boston- Residents of Rockport, having voted to approve the construction of a new Department of Public Works building, would receive financial support in the form of the State Senate’s new supplemental budget bill under a provision championed by Rockport’s Senator Bruce Tarr (R- Gloucester). Tarr received the support of his colleagues in the Senate to allocate $20,000 to Rockport for planning, design, and construction purposes.

The new facility will be built following several years of discussions and the support of voters in a special town election held earlier this month. Tarr says that he is working to help the town so that the facility can be an effective asset for the DPW Department, its staff and residents.

The Senator’s amendment to Senate Bill 2378, the so-called Closeout Supplemental Budget for Fiscal Year 2019 was adopted with full support of the Senate. Tarr said he wanted to provide backing to Rockport, Massachusettst and help with efforts to improve conditions for the Department of Public Works employees.

“I want to help support the work that has taken place for the building project by also securing an opportunity for state funds,” said Senator Tarr. “I appreciate the dedication of Rockport’s officials to move this project to where we are today and I thank my colleagues in the Senate for adopting my amendment to allocate at least $20,000 for planning, design, and construction of the building.”

“Town administrator Vieira, the Selectmen, the Rockport Building Study Committee and others have shaped this project to the point where it has been endorsed by the voters into something that will serve the entire town well for years to come,” added Tarr.

The Senate’s version of the supplemental budget bill must now be reconciled with that of the House’s. Once a final agreement on the budget bill is reached between the two branches Governor Charlie Baker will have a ten day period to sign the bill. Tarr said Rockport’s Representative in the House, Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, will play an important role in that process.

“I am happy to work with my colleague Senator Bruce Tarr to provide this invaluable funding to the town of Rockport for the design of their new DPW facility,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante (D- Gloucester). “This is an important step forward for the town to more efficiently and effectively deliver service to its residents.”

“We will continue to work as a team to keep funding for the DPW building in the final version of the budget that goes to the desk of Governor Charlie Baker,” Tarr said.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Open Door Autumn Breakfast Thanksgiving Meal Basket and Food Drive

This morning at Cruiseport Gloucester many supporters of The Open Door gathered to kick-off their fund drive.

The Open Door Autumn Breakfast is the launch off their 2019 Thanksgiving Meal Basket and Food Drives, and a time to honor their many volunteers that help connect people to good food all year round.

Last year The Open Door served 8,000 people living in 10 cities in towns in the northeast corner of Essex County. They will provide a Holiday Basket to every person in need this Thanksgiving - with your help.

Helen Muise Community Service Award was given to Fred and Valerie Johnson - Gloucester Food Pantry. Steven Rogé - Ipswich Community Food Pantry, Mary Jane Sawyer - Second Glance Thrift Store. The Charlotte Pope Service Award was presented to the Fogelgren Family. The Unsung Hero was Pat Baker of Mass Law Reform Institute and the Outstanding Community Partner is BankGloucester.


Senate Supplemental Bueget

The State Senate is debating S2378 a bill that appropriates funds for government activities and projects to close the books on Fiscal Year 2019.

Included in the bill are long-held priorities such as $140 million in state funding for public schools from kindergarten to higher education. This includes funds for Regional School Transportation - to 80% and the Special Education Circuit Breaker - to 85%. We also include funds for school mental and behavioral health supports.

This bill impacts many policy areas important to you and the Commonwealth. I offered several amendments including those which provide family tax credits, fund municipal disability-related access improvements, audits Columbia Gas, promotes energy efficiency improvements for the fishing and farming industries, offers consumer rebates and other economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions, and more.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Superfund Site Update in Wilmington

Last night I participated in an important meeting about the Olin Chemical Superfund Site in Wilmington. The federal government's Environmental Protection Agency is looking at steps for a final cleanup plan for the site. Officials answered questions from residents and gave an update on the process.

Olin Chemical produced chemicals at the site until the late 80s. Water wells and municipal drinking supplies were contaminated and it's been very difficult for residents. With Representative Dave Robertson and Representative Ken Gordon, officials from EPA and the town, and many residents.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Manufacturing Award Ceremony Information

The Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus held its 4th Annual Manufacturing Award Ceremony at the State House today.

Increasingly, our state has become a leader in advanced manufacturing. We have skilled workers trained to use powerful equipment and a customer base actively seeking machined parts from local business. It is important for government and industry to work together to pursue innovation. The Manufacturing Caucus has more than 60 legislators - we have focused on training for manufacturing employees, encouraging innovation by helping start-up access resources, and expanding apprenticeship opportunities in key manufacturing sectors.

I was happy to talk with and present Senate citations to representatives from local businesses including - Riverdale Mills Corporation, Dawn’s Sign Tech of North Andover, Salem Metal, Inc.from Middleton and others.


Commuter Rail Delays For Newburyport/Rockport Trains

The MBTA has just announced that the Rockport Train 8:35 am from North Station is now operating 25-35 minutes behind schedule between Swampscott and Rockport due to earlier single-track traffic with late inbound trains. The Newburyport Train 164 (10:00 am from Newburyport) is expected to depart Newburyport 5-15 minutes behind schedule due to the late arrival of equipment caused by earlier service disruptions on the line.

They say to expect trains to continue experiencing significant delays in both directions. Seek alternate transportation where possible. News accounts say that a pedestrian was struck near Beverly Depot.

UPDATE-  The Boston Globe reports that the Transit Police that the pedestrian is conscious and alert.


Friday, October 18, 2019

Groveland Police Association Annual Harvest Dinner for Senior Citizens

I had a wonderful time at the annual Harvest Dinner sponsored by the Groveland Police Department Association. The Association has put on the dinner for senior citizens, in cooperation with Groveland's Council on Aging, for more than 25 years.

The dinner was held at the Bagnall Elementary with a great turnout. I have attended many times in the past, and I look forward to many more.


Georgetown Youth Community

I was very happy to visit the Georgetown Youth Community Center last night with Representative Lenny Mirra. Superintendent Carol Jacobs of Georgetown, MA Public Schools invited us to join her and other Georgetown officials, residents and students for an Open House event.

Representative Mirra and I secured $30,000 in state funding for developing the Youth Community Center in the state budget. This is a great example of why we have worked together with our partners in local government to place funding where it can support great ideas. The center will provide a place for young people to meet and socialize. I am thankful that the students gave me a tour of their new place and I encourage others to support them and the center.


Thursday, October 17, 2019

National Grid Power Outage Report

National Grid has shared the following information with me.

Our current global ETR in Massachusetts and Rhode Island – that is, the time by which 95 percent of customers are expected to be restored – is Saturday night. That doesn’t mean everyone will be without power for days – that’s a worst-case scenario. The majority will be back sooner and as that information becomes refined, we will be providing updates.

We have nearly 1,260 field personnel in New England who have been activated as part of our emergency response operations. This includes: more than 1,000 in MA and 280 in Rhode Island, inclusive of overhead line crews, forestry, contractors, underground, wires down, and substation workers. These numbers will increase, as we have also requested additional crews through our mutual assistance partnerships.

Please note the restoration estimates on our outage map reflects the time the last customer in your town is expected to be restored, so we recommend logging in instead for a more personalized estimate.

Encouraging Customers to Stay Connected:
• Report power outages at or call 1-800-465-1212.
• Receive text message alerts and updates when you text the word STORM to NGRID (64743).
• Use your mobile device to track outage information and storm-related safety tips through National Grid’s mobile site accessible at
• Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram; we post all the latest storm and restoration updates.
• Track outages and ETRs at


Gloucester Power Update

Gloucester has experienced a significant number of power outages, downed trees, downed wires, broken branches, and other hazards. The Gloucester DPW, Gloucester Police Department, Gloucester Fire Department, National Grid and Comcast are working to clean-up and restore utilities. The Rose Baker Senior Center and Sawyer Free Library have power and heat and are open to the public during normal business hours.

Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken informs me that further updates are expected.

Latest outages by utility-


Tobin Bridge/Chelsea Curves Rehabilitation Project Update

Due to Weather Conditions, Route 1 Lane Shifts Move to Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19, 2019 Previously announced roadway configuration changes on Route 1 in Chelsea will now take place during the overnight hours on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19. Beginning Friday night, October 18, Northbound travel lanes will shift to the right after the Fourth Street off-ramp through the Chelsea Curves. Beginning Saturday night, October 19, Southbound travel lanes will shift to the left after the Carter Street off-ramp. Overnight work on Friday will begin one hour after the completion of an event at TD Garden scheduled for 6 p.m. on October 18.

The new roadway configuration allows necessary bridge deck repairs and safety improvements on the inbound side of Route 1 through the Chelsea Curves and will be in place for approximately 1-2 months. 2 travel lanes will continue to be open in each direction during daytime hours (5 a.m.–10 p.m.) and at least 1 travel lane will be open during overnight hours (10 p.m.–5 a.m.).

Traffic heading towards Chelsea on Route 1 northbound must be in the right lane to access the Beacon Street off-ramp. After Beacon Street, the next opportunity to exit Route 1 northbound will be at Webster Avenue. As a reminder, trucks are not permitted to use the Beacon Street off-ramp and must use Webster Avenue.

Drivers should take care to pay attention to all signage and move carefully through the work zone. Police details, lane markings, temporary barriers, traffic cones, signage, and other tools will be used to control traffic and create safe work zones. MassDOT will provide additional notices as needed for high-impact work, temporary ramp and street closures, and changes to traffic configurations.


Power Outages Throughout the region

Crews are deployed and assisting with damage and restoration efforts throughout Massachusetts. Some schools and businesses are closed this morning due to power outages throughout the region. You can check this Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website for reports. 

  • Monitor the media for emergency information. Follow instructions from public safety officials.
  • Call 9-1-1 to report emergencies including:
  • Downed power lines; or If you are dependent on equipment that requires electricity and need medical assistance.
  • Call your utility company to report power outages and get restoration information. Do not call 9-1-1 to report an outage or to ask about power restoration.

National Grid 1-800-465-1212
Eversource (formerly NSTAR) 1-800-592-2000
Eversource (formerly WMECO) 877-659-6326

Stay away from downed utility wires. Always assume a downed power line is live.

If a traffic light is out, treat the intersection as a four-way stop. Take recommended safety precautions when using space heaters, a fireplace, or a woodstove to heat your home. Keep a fire extinguisher handy.


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

SenaTOUR in Salem

Senator Joan Lovely invited me and our Senate colleagues to spend the day in Salem. We saw some of the city’s highlights such as the new wing of the Peabody Essex Museum, Punto Urban Art Museum run by the Community Development Corporation, the fabled House of the Seven Gables and more. Lunch was held at Finz Seafood & Grill on Pickering Wharf. We traveled across the city by way of the Salem Trolley.


Thursday, October 10, 2019

2nd Annual Seafood Day at the State House

The state's Division of Marine Fisheries and the Fishing Partnership Support Services co-hosted the Seafood Day at the State House to the great delight of all who attended. We celebrate the labor and efforts of all of those in this important industry.

The event featured seafood tastings, informative displays, live music, working fishermen and many who support them.An amazing way to showcase the diverse, sustainable, nutritious and delicious seafood harvested by our local fishermen - the Great Hall of the State House was the center of it all.