February News Notes
New Principal of Seekonk High School
Superintendent Rich Drolet announced the appointment of William Whalen, Principal of Hurley Middle School, as principal of Seekonk High School effective July 1. Whalen has been principal at Hurley for seven years. Prior to coming to Seekonk, Whalen served as assistant principal and history teacher in Swansea. Christine Whatley, who has been serving as interim principal of Seekonk High since last year will return to her previous position of director of guidance at the high school at the end of the school year.
New Principal of Hurley Middle School
Alexis Bouchard, Assistant Principal of Hurley Middle School, has been named principal of Hurley Middle School effective July 1. Bouchard has been employed with the Seekonk Public Schools since September 2010. She served as a physical education teacher and, most recently, as the assistant principal of the middle school. Bouchard succeeds William Whalen who is moving to the high school as principal. A search for a new assistant principal of Hurley is expected to begin soon.
Seekonk Election Papers Available
Residents have until 5 p.m. on February 12 to submit nomination papers to run in the April 1 local election. The positions that will be on the ballot include one three-year seat on the board of selectmen and two three-year seats on the school committee. Other seats that will be voted on are: two five-year seats on the planning board, one three-year seat on the water commission, three three-year seats on the Library Board of Trustees and one two-year seat on the Library Board of Trustees.
Voters Will Decide One Ballot Question on April 1
There will be one Yes or No question on the April 1st ballot on whether to change the number of members of the Conservation Commission from seven members to five members.
Tapalian Announces, Then Rescinds, $500 Offer to Attend Town Meeting
Local businessman Charles Tapalian offered residents of the Greenbrier Village complex, which he owns, a $500 rental voucher to attend the January 28th town meeting. The question before town meeting was a zoning change for the former Seekonk Cinema property, which Tapalian has contracted to purchase, to allow for the expansion of the Greenbrier complex. The proposed expansion includes the construction of more than 100 town houses as well as a separate building with an indoor lap pool, gym, and basketball courts, according to an article in the Sun Chronicle. Tapalian reportedly said the voucher was to encourage people to attend town meeting, not influence their vote. He rescinded the offer a few days later. Tapalian contended the offer was legal, but he didn’t want it to be a distraction, according to the Sun Chronicle.
Seekonk Town Meeting Postponed A Week
The Special Town Meeting scheduled for January 28 was adjourned to Mon, Feb. 4 at 7 pm because there were so many people in attendance that they could not find seats in the Seekonk High School auditorium. The meeting was moved to the Ramada Inn. The main question on the warrant concerned an amendment to the zoning bylaw for the former Showcase Cinema property at 800 Fall River Avenue. The zoning change would extend the Multifamily Development Overlay District to the rear portion of the Showcase property and permit the site to be developed into 102 townhouses that would be part of the Greenbrier complex. At press time, the Special Town Meeting had not taken place.
Maine Businessman Looking to Turn Former Showcase Cinema into Marijuana Processing Facility
Maine businessman Jamie Crumb is seeking to lease the former Showcase Cinema building to “grow, process, wholesale and sell medical and recreational marijuana,” according to a press release sent to residents. According to the release, the town would receive three percent of wholesale sales and three percent on retail sales, which is estimated to provide “at least $60 million in new tax revenue over the next 10 years.” The facility is also expected to create 60 or more jobs. According to an article in the Sun Chronicle, the former Showcase property is not currently zoned for the use Crumb is proposing.
Save-a-Pet Makes Additional Donation to Animal Shelter Project
The Save-a-Pet organization donated an additional $300,000 to the animal shelter building project. Last fall, town meeting approved an additional $460,000 for the design and construction of a new animal shelter. In 2017, voters approved a temporary tax increase to fund the project, which is expected to cost up to $950,000. Save-a-Pet had previously committed $200,000 to the project. No word on when the project will begin construction. The Seekonk Animal Shelter is located at 100 Peck Street, next to Town Hall. Every year over 400 dogs and cats are cared for at the shelter.
Seekonk to Receive State Funds for Early Voting
The state is reimbursing cities and towns for costs associated with early voting. Seekonk is expected to receive $1,900, according to an article in the Sun Chronicle. The early voting law was passed in 2014 and requires cities and towns to allow voting during a 12-day early voting period. Early voting has proved to be very popular, with more than 584,000 voters casting ballots early during the 2018 general election.
Seekonk to Receive Fire Safety Grant
The state has awarded 245 fire departments Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) grants to educate students on fire and life safety. The program teaches students to recognize the dangers of fire and the fire hazards of tobacco products. In addition, 240 fire departments have received Senior S.A.F.E. grants to provide similar training to older adults. Seekonk has been awarded $3,754 and $2,400 respectively, according to a Sun Chronicle article. The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services administers the programs.