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Mayor Submits Petition Opposing Postal Service Plan To Close Downtown Location

In a strongly-worded letter, Mayor Jon Mitchell appealed the United States Postal Service’s decision to proceed with the relocation of retail services from the historic Downtown New Bedford Post Office at 695 Pleasant Street.

In addition to his letter, the Mayor submitted a petition signed by citizens expressing their opposition to the Postal Service plan.

“I believe the move is unwise, short-sighted, and potentially disruptive to the strong resurgence of activity that New Bedford’s downtown has enjoyed over the past several years,” said the Mayor.

At the suggestion of the New Bedford City Council, the Mayor invited the public to sign the citizen petition protesting the planned closure. Nearly 200 signatures were collected in the lobby of City Hall over the past several weeks.

The Mayor added, “The decision makers at the Postal Service should know that the Mayor, the City Council, and the people of New Bedford stand united on this issue.”

In addition, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey and U.S. Representative William R. Keating have also co-signed a letter that urges the Postal Service to reverse its decision and expresses support for maintaining the existing Pleasant Street Post Office. See the letter here.


 




What’s new at the Ocean Explorium?!

Clownfish in Coral Reef habitat (Wyoming White, left; Davinci, right)

Everybody loves Nemo! These bright orange fish, playing peek-a-boo in the anemones, are lots of fun.

Now there are even more clownfish to love at the Ocean Explorium. Two new variants of the Amphiprion ocellaris clownfish – cousins of Nemo – have been added to the exhibits: The Davinci clownfish and the Wyoming Whites. Both “designer clowns” are distinguished by their recessive traits that are brought out through selective breeding. The Davinci clownfish are identified by their irregular white patches outlined in black. Our very own Exhibit Curator, Warren Gibbons, won the pair of Davinci clownfish in a raffle at the recent Ocean State Reef Aquarium Society (OSRAS) Annual Conference, where the Ocean Explorium was an exhibitor selling aquacultured corals. The Wyoming White clownfish are mostly white with orange snouts and pectoral spots, outlined in black. The Wyoming Whites were donated by Ben Lancaster, who won the fish at the OSRAS conference.

A new octopus arrived by FedEx recently and was installed in the Living Laboratory, near the Coral Farm exhibit. A bit shy, this mature octopus was collected from the waters off Florida. Another new arrival is the Engineer Goby, an industrious sand digger, sifter and cleaner. All that digging can make a Goby hungry, and its reward is a meal of the tiny invertebrates it has unearthed. A number of dainty, colorful Wrasses have been added to the Coral Reef habitat while several exotic crabs and snails have found a new home in different aquariums within the Ocean Explorium.

There is always something new at the Ocean Explorium. Stop by and look for these new members of the Ocean Explorium family, and be sure to speak with our knowledgeable staff to learn more about them!

The Ocean Explorium is located at 174 Union Street in downtown New Bedford and is handicap accessible via the rear entrance. The Science on a Sphere® exhibit is generously provided through a partnership with the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

Current hours are Thursday – Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM. Summer hours will begin on July 8, when the Ocean Explorium will open Tuesday – Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM. Admission is $8.50-adults, $7.00-seniors and students with I.D., $6.50-children between 3 and 17 years of age. Children under 3 and members are free. Visit oceanexplorium.org or call 508.994.5400 for programs, directions or other information.





Five Bishop Stang students receive Pope Pius X award

Mahoney-Pacheco, Calvey, Santiago-Amaral, Kalisz.

Bishop Stang High School, a diocesan, co-educational, college preparatory school located on the Southcoast, announced five students have received the Pope Pius X award for their demonstrated commitment to Christ and His Church. Anthony Mahoney-Pacheco (Junior), Shashawna Santiago-Amaral (Senior), Frederick Kalisz III (Junior), Shaelyn Calvey (Senior) and Matt Gagnon (Class of 2013) were recognized by the Diocese at the Cathedral of St. Mary’s in Fall River at a May 6th celebration.

“It is a true testament of our community that five Bishop Stang students were selected for a Pope Pius X award,” said Amanda Tarantelli, Director of Campus Ministry at Bishop Stang High School. “The award is one more example of our students living their faith and being a visible sign to their beliefs.”

This is the 12th annual Pope Pius X award ceremony for the Diocese. The award was established in 2002 by Cardinal Sean O’Malley after Pope Pius X who is the founder of the Diocese. Recipients are nominated by their pastors, and must be between a sophomore in high school and no older than 19.




Winning Design Selected for North Front Street Public Mural Project

School of Cod Design

Mayor Jon Mitchell announced today the design chosen for the new public mural that will be painted on the walls of a North Front Street overpass later this spring. The winning design, entitled “School of Cod”, features a colorful school of cod fish swimming through a sea of Elm trees. The design was created by New Bedford artist Alex Jardin, a 2007 graduate of New Bedford High School who also earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2013.

According to Jardin’s proposal, each fish will be painted using a technique described as a “heavy build up of colorful paints, handstyle letterings and random designs, reminiscent of years of graffiti build up.”

The North Front Street mural is the first public art project spearheaded by the New Bedford Public Art Committee. The Committee was established as an extension of the Mitchell Administration’s graffiti prevention program, Graffiti Free NB. While the prevention program deters graffiti vandalism by making reporting options easier for citizens, it also seeks to engage local artists and encourage the appropriate use of public space for artwork.

The New Bedford Public Art Committee is composed of a team of artists and organizations that Mayor Mitchell has called upon to help foster public art projects throughout the City. Recognizing the importance of public art as a vehicle to promote beautification, neighborhood engagement, community pride and cohesion, Mayor Mitchell and the Committee are working together to support more opportunities for local artists to publically display their work.

The Committee oversaw the application and selection process for the North Front Street mural project, and ultimately made a final recommendation to the Mayor. In total, nine artists submitted eleven mural designs to the Public Art Committee. Design proposals included neighborhood depictions, waterfront scenes, and Moby Dick illustrations.

“It should surprise no one that we received a number of high quality proposals from New Bedford area artists. For all those who were not selected, please keep the fantastic concepts coming. This mural project is just the beginning of the Committee’s efforts to create more opportunities for public art throughout the city,” said Mayor Mitchell.

The North Front Street mural project will begin this spring with an anticipated completion date set for the end of June. The winning design allows for multiple artists to collaborate and the Public Art Committee is seeking to engage other artists who may be interested in contributing to the mural installation.

Artists wishing to participate in the mural installation are encouraged to contact the City of New Bedford Mayor’s Office at (508) 979-1410.




Update on trash cart delivery in New Bedford

new-bedford-trash-system

According to the City of New Bedford, the new trash carts are being delivered according to the day you set out your trash. The delivery crews are currently working in Monday’s (north end) route. Residents who normally set their trash out on Monday should see their carts by the end of this week. Next week the delivery crew will start on Tuesday’s trash routes.

It should take approximately 5 or 6 days to complete Tuesday and then they will move into Wednesday’s area and so on. Some residents may receive a trash cart one day and a recycling cart the next day. Sometimes your neighbor will receive a trash cart one day and you will receive a trash cart the next day. Crews will be delivering Monday through Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. until the entire city has been completed.

If you live in Monday’s area and have not received both the trash cart and the recycling cart by next week, please call (508) 961-3008.




Fiscal Year 2015 New Bedford City Budget Highlights

This year’s Budget is the third budget developed by Mayor Jon Mitchell.  The spending proposal totals $287 million.

PRIORITIZING EDUCATION

  • The Mayor purposefully designed the Budget to prioritize education.
  • The $116.4 million for New Bedford Public Schools will fully fund the budget passed unanimously by the School Committee earlier this month, and has the full support of Schools Superintendent Dr. Pia Durkin.
  • Under the Mayor’s Budget the schools will receive an increase of 6.4% over last year.
  • The local share of the school budget will be roughly $2 million above the amount the state legally requires.  It is $3.3 million above last year’s local share amount.
  • The need for the increase is largely driven by the $2.7 million cost of the state-mandated turnaround plans being implemented at New Bedford High School and the Parker Elementary School.

HOLDING THE LINE ON SPENDING

  • The Budget holds the line on non-education spending.
  • For general operating costs of city government, the Budget’s proposed increase is effectively zero (at $84.8 million).
  • In fact, if proposed budget transfers pending before the City Council are approved, the Budget would actually result in a net decrease to departmental operating expenditures between FY 2014 and FY 2015.
  • For “fixed costs,” i.e. mandatory contributions to employee health insurance, pensions, and debt service, the increase is just 2.8% (at $73.4 million).
  • The Budget also keeps a tight lid on spending because the City will soon see the end of the federal “SAFER” grant funding that pays for one-third of the City’s firefighters.

SAVINGS FROM REORGANIZING GOVERNMENT

  • The reforms the Mitchell Administration put in place over the past two years assisted this year’s budget planning, helped restrain spending, and lessened the need for tax revenue.
  • Last year a significant restructuring affected four major city departments (DPI, DPF, Community Development, and Planning) whose employees combined total 270 out of 1,100 municipal workers (excluding school employees).
  • The Mitchell Administration’s successful negotiation of eleven new Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements is also allowing the City to purchase “green” energy at deeply discounted prices, with roughly $30 million in electricity savings expected over the next 20 years.
  • The reforms are helping ease the burden on taxpayers, putting the City in a more stable financial position, and improving conditions for future economic growth–as evidenced by the recent upgrade to the City’s bond rating to its highest in forty years.”

BUDGETARY PRESSURES AND REVENUES

  • The budgetary pressures of fixed costs (health, pension, etc.) as well as schools, do suggest a necessity for some increase in the City’s real estate levy later this year.
  • The City has engaged in a sustained, successful effort to avoid tax increases for the past four years.
  • New Bedford now has the third highest capacity of “unused levy” in percentage terms among all 22 Gateway Cities.
  • Holding the line on any tax increase for a four-year period is a remarkable accomplishment for a Gateway City.
  • At this point in the fiscal year it is not possible to pinpoint precisely what this Budget will mean for the tax levy, but the Mitchell Administration is committed to finding additional ways to mitigate the impact of levy requirements of the Budget on residents and businesses.
  • The Mitchell Administration intends to take further action as more information becomes available in the months ahead regarding changes in projected growth, valuation revisions, and state and local resources that may become available.



Mayor Mitchell Submits City Budget For Fiscal Year 2015

new-bedford-city-hallMayor Jon Mitchell presented a $287 million Fiscal Year 2015 City Budget to the City Council on Wednesday, May 14, 2014.  Mitchell signaled he would continue his no-frills spending approach in this year’s proposal, his third since taking office in January 2012.

PRIORITIZING EDUCATION

“This year’s Budget was designed very purposefully to address what everyone recognizes as the fundamental challenge facing our City:  A long-struggling public education system is undermining our children’s ability to obtain good jobs, eroding the competitiveness of local businesses, hurting our economy, and jeopardizing our future,”  said Mayor Mitchell.

He added, “We can and will do whatever it takes to fix our schools, including funding them adequately, because as a community we have no choice.  Our success as a city depends on it.”

The Mayor cited the cost of implementing two state-mandated turnaround plans at New Bedford High School and the Parker Elementary School as the primary reason for the need to boost school funding, noting “The plans at New Bedford High School and Parker Elementary School will cost $2.7 million alone.  Given these new education obligations, simply adopting the state-mandated minimum municipal contribution to the School District is no longer a plausible alternative.”

The Mayor’s Budget includes a 6.4% increase for schools (to $116.4 million), which pegs the local contribution toward schools at roughly $2 million above what is legally required by state, and $3.3 million above last year’s level.

HOLDING THE LINE ON SPENDING

“As important a priority as education is, we still have to fund the school system in a way that recognizes the very real economic and fiscal pressures on residents and the rest of city government.  Being serious about education funding also means being serious about how we handle a range of other pressing needs, and that means making some very tough decisions,” said the Mayor.

For general operating costs of city government, the Budget’s proposed increase is effectively zero (at $84.8 million).  Moreover, proposed transfers pending before the City Council, if approved, would actually result in a net decrease to departmental operating expenditures between FY 2014 and FY 2015.

For mandatory contributions to employee health insurance, pensions, and debt service, the increase is just 2.8% (to $73.4 million).  This reflects the ongoing challenge involved in providing health care and pensions for the City’s employees and retirees.

In an accompanying letter to City Councillors, the Mayor also justified the need to keep a tight lid on spending because the City will soon see the end of the federal “SAFER” grant funding that pays for one-third of the City’s firefighters.

SAVINGS FROM REORGANIZING GOVERNMENT

“Many families and seniors continue to fight each month to make ends meet and pay the bills that allow them to remain in their homes.  Effective cost control–so that city government is as affordable as possible–has therefore been a fundamental starting point for every budget I have crafted since taking office, and this year is no different,” said Mitchell

The Mayor noted how a range of reforms the Administration put in place over the past two years have assisted this year’s budget planning, helped restrain spending, and lessened the need for tax revenue.

The proposed Budget benefits greatly from recent reorganizations and department consolidations.  Last year a significant restructuring affected four major city departments (DPI, DPF, Community Development, and Planning) whose employees combined total 270 out of 1,100 municipal workers (excluding school employees).

The successful negotiation of eleven new Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements is also allowing the City to purchase “green” energy at deeply discounted prices, with roughly $30 million in electricity savings expected over the next 20 years.

The Mayor added, “Our reforms are helping ease the burden on taxpayers, putting the City in a more stable financial position, and improving conditions for future economic growth–as evidenced by the recent upgrade to the City’s bond rating to its highest in forty years.”

BUDGETARY PRESSURES AND REVENUES

The Mayor was clear that the budgetary pressures of fixed costs (health, pension, etc.) as well as schools, suggest a necessity for some increase in the City’s real estate levy later this year.  The City has engaged in a sustained, successful effort to forego tax increases for the past four years.

The Mayor noted that holding the line on any tax increase for a four-year period is a remarkable accomplishment for a Gateway City.  New Bedford now has the third highest capacity of untapped levy in percentage terms among all 22 Gateway Cities.

Mayor Mitchell said, “At this point in the fiscal year it is not possible to pinpoint precisely what this Budget will mean for the tax levy, but residents can know this–I am not going to sit idle between now and when the levy is established next December.  Instead, my Administration is committed to finding additional ways to mitigate the impact of levy requirements of this Budget on residents and businesses.”

He added, “We intend to take further action as more information becomes available in the months ahead regarding changes in projected growth, valuation revisions, and state and local resources that may become available.”




Roosevelt Students Volunteering in Neighborhood Cleanup on Thursday

Hundreds of Roosevelt Middle School students will be cleaning up the south end on Thursday, May 15. The event is a partnership between Roosevelt Middle School, Operation Clean Sweep and the City of New Bedford.

According to Keep America Beautiful, over 51 billion pieces of litter land on U.S. roadways each year. “Litter can affect both land and marine animals. Six pack rings can get stuck around an animal’s head or neck injuring or killing them. Turtles can mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish that they eat,” said Marissa Perez-Dormitzer, New Bedford’s recycling coordinator.

Roosevelt Middle School Health Teacher Deb Dixon said, “This is the fifth year of the cleanup. It gives the students the opportunity to help out their community.”

To make it more interesting, the students compete to see which grade in the school picks up the most trash. Each of the three grades in the school is assigned different colored trash bags. The Department of Public Infrastructure helps out by weighing each color trash bag. The students will also pick up any recyclable material they see as they go along. In 2013, the students collected 500 pounds of trash.

Operation Clean Sweep organizes litter cleanups throughout New Bedford. The next clean up will take place on May 17th from 8:30 to noon with the headquarters at St. Luke’s Hospital parking lot on Hawthorn & Page Street. For more information, visit www.operationcleansweep.net. All area schools are encouraged to participate in neighborhood cleanups.




Gov. Patrick Announces $1.19 million for Acushnet Avenue Improvement Project

Governor Patrick and Mayor  Mitchell Tour Acushnet Avenue in New BedfordGovernor Deval Patrick today announced $1.19 million in additional funding for the City of New Bedford through the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program to help support the Acushnet Avenue Improvement Project. Through the Patrick Administration’s strategic investments in housing and economic development projects, New Bedford has become an attractive place for residents and families to live, work and play.

This newest investment builds upon a strong partnership between the Patrick Administration and the City of New Bedford. In 2011, the city received a $3.2 million grant through the MassWorks Infrastructure Grant Program to support the Acushnet Avenue Improvement Project. The improvements included environmentally-friendly streetscaping, pedestrian scale lighting, attractive seating and planting areas, wider sidewalks, bicycle accommodations, safer and more efficient intersections and new fencing and plantings.

This public infrastructure project is part of an overall effort to spur private investment and development in New Bedford’s Acushnet Avenue International Marketplace District. The Marketplace serves as a gateway not only to the businesses along the Acushnet Avenue corridor, but also to the historic mill and river walk district of the Upper Harbor and the Riverside Landing development site.

This city intends to use these latest funds to catalyze local investment, support existing businesses along the commercial corridor and foster new business growth in the district. The funds will support street and sidewalk replacements, lighting, trees and seating, bike racks and bus shelters. It will also support the redevelopment of a long-vacant, city-owned parking lot into a pocket park.

The 2011 MassWorks grant also helped leverage $1 million in funding from the city for design and engineering costs for the project. The city also committed $3 million to fund water, sewage and drainage construction to advance improvements along Acushnet Avenue since 2011. The public infrastructure investments are expected to leverage an additional $102 million in private investment in the Acushnet Avenue area.

“We remain committed to working with local communities, like New Bedford, to help identify opportunities to maximize growth and spur regional development,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki. “I look forward to our ongoing partnership with city officials and private industry leaders to explore additional ways to promote continued growth throughout the community and region.”

“Today’s announcement is a terrific example of the Patrick Administration’s thoughtful approach to economic development: We are carefully targeting infrastructure investments to encourage private investment and spark local economic growth,” said New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell. “We are doing it in a way which empowers local communities to identify and pursue their own goals. And we are building on a strong foundation by tapping the authenticity and diversity of a great neighborhood. When the textbooks are written about how to effectively advance an economic development agenda that really works, the Patrick Administration’s support for New Bedford ought to be a case study.”

“I am happy that these much needed grant monies for pedestrian friendly improvements have been awarded to the International Marketplace,” said Senator Mark Montigny. “The project will not only have a positive economic impact but will also improve the quality of life to the citizens of New Bedford while further enticing residents and tourists to partake in the many attractions our great city has to offer.”

The MassWorks Infrastructure Program is the consolidation of six capital budget programs, giving communities a single entry point and one set of requirements for state public infrastructure grants. The consolidation has improved efficiencies and streamlined the process, increased access for municipalities of all sizes, and enhanced state-regional-local partnerships around economic development and housing projects.

“I hope the next governor that we have in Massachusetts is as supportive as Governor Patrick has been to the New Bedford area,” said New Bedford City Councilor Kerry Winterson. “His continuing loyalty to this region has been extraordinary. His continued vision to make New Bedford a spectacular gateway city is second to none. And he will be truly missed. He is a constant advocate for small business growth as well as investment in our local infrastructure.”

Earlier this month, Governor Patrick filed An Act to Promote Growth and Opportunity, which provides $15 million for the creation of a Gateway Cities Transformative Development Fund. The fund, overseen by MassDevelopment, will bring growth and opportunity to Gateway Cities, including New Bedford, by enabling equity investments and technical assistance to support transformative development in these communities. Additionally, the fund will support the creation of collaborative workspaces to assist startups and entrepreneurs in Gateway Cities. The legislation creates tools and training so our workforce is prepared to meet the needs of employers, invests in our communities to promote economic development across the entire state and provides incentives to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The bill furthers the Administration’s proven growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure that has led to record job creation in Massachusetts and has made the Commonwealth a global leader in key innovation economy sectors.

For more on the bill, visit www.mass.gov/compete.




Teen seeks public’s assistance in finding mom

missingA 14-year old girl is seeking the public’s help in finding her mother. She hasn’t seen her since January, 2014 and her mother either resides or visits New Bedford often.

Jessica O’Brein, 33 years-old and pictured to the left, was last seen in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts and appears to be living in the New Bedford area. She has green eyes and has four children that do not live with her. She’s 5’2-5’3. She has lived in Lakeville, Westport, Fall River, and New Bedford. She has a few tattoos; a butterfly with the name ‘Glen’ above it, Cheyenne on the back of her neck, Harley Daverson on her lower back, and a Tigger with the name Lexie on her chest.

If you know Jessica O’Brein please ask her to contact her daughter Lexie.

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