Editorial: Plans for fire museum on track, deserve support

In Worcester, the word “fire” brings two things immediately to mind: pain and pride.

It will be interesting to see the ways the Worcester Fire Museum and Education Center put both on display.

The project is still in the planning stage, but those plans have proceeded smoothly since then-Fire Chief Gerard Dio broached the idea in 2014. The museum is on track to open in 2018 in leased space at Union Station, according to Worcester Fire Department Capt. Gary Fleischer of the Worcester Historical Fire Society, a nonprofit formed two years ago and tasked with creating the museum.

As MassLive reported, the group marched in the Worcester County St. Patrick’s Parade three weeks ago, showing off the kinds of antique trucks and well-used gear that have been warehoused and will, with any luck, get new life as exhibits in an attractive downtown space.

Part of the museum’s mission is to educate visitors about fire prevention. Also planned for the 4,000-square-foot quarters on Union Station’s ground floor is a 90-seat meeting room — which could be used, for instance, for presentations to area schoolchildren on field trips — and office space for the WFD’s Public Education Division.

Inbox [March 26]: 3rd annual ThinkWoo set, Worcester joins Make Music Day, Moore receives top nature grade, Hanover tops J.D. Power survey

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

3rd annual ThinkWoo, Action! Worcester’s community think tank on Tuesday

Action! Worcester will host its third annual ThinkWoo community think tank 5:30-8 p.m., Tuesday at the Idea Lab, 20 Franklin St.

College students, professionals, city officials and members of the community will gather to continue the conversation around challenges affecting the Worcester community.

“ThinkWoo: We can solve that!” will start with an introduction and official unveiling of a new A!W summer program. Attendees will then break into topic-specific focus groups that have been matched with participants’ indicated interests. Participants will discuss topics that were identified through last year’s focus groups, as well as those found in reports produced by the Executive Office of Economic Development, Worcester Regional Research Bureau and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Groups will comprise individuals from each of the different affiliations – students, professionals, local business owners and organizations, and city stakeholders. It is hoped the diversity of these groups will ignite innovative solutions to the city’s most prevalent obstacles. Topics this year include: Creating Inclusive Business Opportunities Downtown, Building National & International Partnerships, Defining the Personalities of Worcester’s Neighborhoods, and more.

Inbox [March 8]: Becker taps new marketing chief, St. Peter-Marian adds girls hockey and moves into Worcester Ice Center, YWCA hosts forums, EcoTarium names new director, Worcester addresses graffiti

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

Becker names new executive director of marketing and strategic communications

Carolyn Assa has joined Becker College’s Office of Marketing and Strategic Communications as executive director.

Assa has spearheaded high-profile branding initiatives, built in-house agencies and launched award-winning magazines at education institutions in the region. In her new role at Becker, she will be charged with sharing the college’s story, building awareness of the college brand, and finding ways to promote Becker to new, as well as existing, audiences.

“Carolyn has achieved success across storytelling platforms in the field of education, worked with diverse clients as a public relations consultant, and has extensive media experience,” said Becker College President Robert E. Johnson. “We are excited to have Carolyn on board at Becker to direct our marketing and strategic communications efforts.”

Most recently, Assa worked as an account executive at Boston-based public relations agency, Ellis Strategies. Her past experience includes leading the communications and marketing department at Perkins School for the Blind, the oldest school for the blind in the United States, and at Bunker Hill Community College. She holds a master of arts degree in communications from Emerson College and a bachelor of arts in journalism from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Worcester Sports Complex

Courtesy Worcester Railers

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

St. Peter-Marian partners with Railers to offer girls’ hockey; Guardians to play at Worcester Ice Center

The St. Peter-Marian athletic department and President Christopher Cummings announced that the Guardians have partnered with the Worcester Railers Hockey Club and Railers President Michael G. Myers to create a state-of-the-art home for the St. Peter-Marian boys’ hockey team and the Guardians first-ever MIAA girls’ hockey program.

Union Station

Editorial: Attention, passengers

On the commuter rail front, a setback: Officials plan to add stops to the Heart to Hub’s evening run from Boston to Worcester, beginning in May.

And things aren’t looking any better over on the bus front. The WRTA is contemplating fare increases as part of a plan to counteract a deep budget deficit.

Neither move is a giant jolt to the system, and neither came out of nowhere. But they are important disappointments in a city that has been working long and hard to bring its infrastructure up to speed with the future.

Worcester’s public-transportation picture has made enormous progress over the last few years. And any system this complicated will experience problems and changes. But these two glitches are more than just a call to the handyman for tweaks and patch-ups. They’re warnings.

The moves tighten the screws on Worcester commuters and officials to do more to ensure that Worcester’s public-transportation groundwork and goals continue in the right direction.

Inbox [Feb. 19]: Court advocate program for kids nets grant, Clark website design lauded, Petty and Augustus pen letter to MBTA, WPI offers research experience for high schoolers

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

CASA Project lands national grant to serve more Worcester County children

CASA Project, Inc. of Worcester has been awarded a $99,000 Local Growth Grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association. Funds will be used to increase the number of abused or neglected children in Worcester County who have a CASA volunteer helping them find a safe, permanent home where they can thrive.

CASA Project, Inc. is one of 943 CASA and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) programs with 76,756 volunteers across the country. The program recruits, trains and supports volunteers who ensure that children who have been removed from their parents’ care receive appropriate services and have a voice in determining their futures.

Last year in Worcester County, CASA Project we worked with more than 205 volunteers, to serve 579 children; CASA Advocates filed 367 court reports and attended more than 750 court hearings. That number is projected to increase dramatically in 2017.

In 2016, National CASA awarded more than $4.1 million in federal grants to help CASA/GAL programs recruit needed volunteers.

Worcester Sun, Feb. 19-25: Mariano on cleaning up this mess, a Holy Name Sun Shine feature, Bushel N Peck + much more

We’ve got transportation issues — hear about those RTA rate hikes?! — in the crosshairs. Sinacola throws the book at school budget hyperbole. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire on Beacon Hill. Hitch with a very special talent showcase. And a bunch of other good stuff in your Feb. 19-25 Worcester Sun.

Inbox [Feb. 15]: Main South CDC lands $4M to add 75 affordable housing units, YWCA seeks Erskine nominees, immigration law experts arrange forums, city uses Common to push downtown agenda

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

Main South CDC lands $4M MassDevelopment bond to buy, renovate 13 properties

MassDevelopment has issued a $4 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of Nuestras Casas Limited Partnership, an affiliate of the Worcester nonprofit Main South Community Development Corporation.

Main South CDC is using proceeds to buy and renovate 80 multi-family residential units and five ground floor commercial units on 13 Worcester properties for Nuestras Casas, a mixed-income housing development.

The development will offer 73 units that are affordable to households earning 60 percent of the area median income, two that are affordable to households earning 80 percent of the area median income, and five market-rate units.

Renovations will include upgrading heating systems, bathrooms, and kitchens; replacing windows and roofs; and making general cosmetic improvements. MassDevelopment also assisted the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development with the approval of approximately $2.5 million in equity from federal low income housing tax credits, and TD Bank purchased the bond.

974 Main Street

Courtesy of MassDevelopment

974 Main St., Worcester is one of 13 properties Main South CDC was able to purchase with the help of the MassDevelopment financing package.

“The Main South CDC’s work to renovate and preserve quality housing at Nuestras Casas is essential to Worcester’s continued economic growth,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said. “We are pleased this low-cost financing will provide safe, welcoming homes to the working individuals and families in the Main South neighborhood.”

Editorial: Super debacle on sanctuary question

An us-vs.-them attitude is perfectly OK — on the football field.

In real life, it can cause all sorts of problems.

Take the current hot-button topic of sanctuary cities, which was ubiquitous in the news around the country the last couple of weeks, and embarrassingly so in Worcester.

Mayor Joseph M. Petty and City Councilor-at-large Michael T. Gaffney are both at fault, and got results they deserve for getting local residents needlessly fired up over an issue too important for gamesmanship.

Immigrants and the immigrant experience are of course a huge part of U.S. history and identity. We have a vibrant democracy striving to promote peace, prosperity, equity and opportunity; and diversity and welcome are part of America’s winning formula. That welcome, though, isn’t automatic or without limits.

Struggling to keep the nation’s doors the right degree of open, in order to keep the United States strong, safe and its ideals alive, has vexed us for decades.

We cannot say this often enough: Democracy takes work, leadership and wisdom.

Immigration is a complicated topic. Watering it down to choosing sides — citizens vs. undocumented residents, Republicans vs. Democrats, local vs. federal government — is a distraction from the effort, reflection and action needed to collectively make the best choices. There will always be arguments and counterarguments in a vibrant democracy.

Worcester Auditorium

Editorial: Aud occurrence inspires hope for renewal

The “Aud” has been idle too long. The board of trustees for Worcester Memorial Auditorium will vote tomorrow on a deal that could be the beginning of a plan for the building.

The trustees should say yes. As outlined by City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. at last week’s City Council meeting, it’s a low-risk agreement with an experienced Boston nonprofit that would bring experience and fresh thinking to the problem.

The Architectural Heritage Foundation has had a hand in the preservation and redevelopment of treasures in Boston and elsewhere. Its signature projects are Boston’s Old City Hall and the world-renowned Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall Marketplace. With these two projects, AHF proved preservation and modern development could coexist.

AHF proposes to embark on a feasibility study of the city-owned Memorial Auditorium, commonly called the Aud. For a year, AHF would explore the building’s future, using its own money — at least $250,000 — to conduct the study. In exchange, AHF would have exclusive rights to the building over that time.

Any changes to the building, or its possible sale to AHF, would come later and would necessitate City Council approval. AHF would first present a redevelopment plan to the city, expected to arise from its feasibility study.

The agreement is a promising stride after a year in which the city pushed for proposals for the auditorium.

Millbury girls soccer

Inbox [Jan. 29]: Regis taps Holy Cross for new president, Free Tax Service is back, Genesis Club crowdfunds for clients, Moore brings Millbury champs to State House, home run derby in extra innings for Bravehearts

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

Regis names HC history professor Rev. Thomas W. Worcester president

Rev. Thomas Worcester, S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, will become the 11th president of Toronto’s Regis College, the Jesuit Faculty of Theology at the University of Toronto T), and one of North America’s Roman Catholic ecclesiastical faculties.

He will begin his five-year term on Aug. 1, prior to the 2017-18 academic year.

Worcester joined the history department at Holy Cross in 1994 as a tenure-track faculty member, achieved tenure in 2000, and promotion to full professor in 2010. His expertise includes the Reformation, religion and society in 17th-century France, the history of the Jesuits, and the history of the papacy.

Rev. Joseph Schner, S.J., interim president at Regis, said, “Professor Worcester brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the leadership of the Regis community’s programs, teaching, and research.”

“I have been at Holy Cross for almost a quarter century, and there are many things I will miss,” said Worcester. “The Society of Jesus is now calling me to assume a major role in the education of Jesuits and others preparing for priesthood, or for lay ministry, and/or for teaching and scholarly work in the various theological disciplines. I am excited and energized by what awaits me as president of Regis College in Toronto, an amazingly diverse, world-class city.”

Read the entire story on the College of the Holy Cross website

Worcester Free Tax Service Coalition kicks off 13th tax season

In conjunction with the nationwide Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, the Worcester Free Tax Service Coalition kicked off its 13th year of providing free tax preparation services for local low-income households at a program held at Assumption College. The program utilizes IRS-trained volunteers to prepare tax returns for households earning less than $54,000.