State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, and State Rep. Jeff Roy, D-Franklin, read a proclamation during a groundbreaking for the Metacomet Regional Dispatch Center Tuesday morning in Norfolk. The center will serve Norfolk, Franklin, Plainville and Wrentham. [Daily News Staff/Ken McGagh]
With shovels in hand, representatives from Franklin, Norfolk, Wrentham and Plainville officially broke ground on the Metacomet Regional Dispatch Center Tuesday morning in Norfolk, the host community.
“This regional center means politics were put aside and this was done because it’s what’s best for our communities,” said Norfolk Selectmen Vice Chairman Jim Lehan. “It was recognizing it’s the right thing to do … we’re all going to be in a better position for it.”
The state is contributing nearly $5 million in grant money to establish the dispatch operation, which will combine services for the four towns out of the new building, said Town Administrator Jeff Nutting.
“We’re excited,” Nutting said. “It’s in a great location and will offer better services to the citizens and better response times for the safety folks.”
State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, and state Rep. Jeff Roy, D-Franklin, attended the groundbreaking and offered their congratulations and citations.
“This brings the communities back together again,” Ross said. “This is going to be a beautiful place to have this, right in the heart of the district.”
State 911 Department Executive Director Frank Pozniak shared his support.
“We’re happy we have reached this point, we’re going to see this to fruition,” Pozniak said. “We look forward to the day the center goes into operation with the four communities.”
Plans to create the regional center have been ongoing for years. At one point the Wrentham Public Safety building was considered as a location. Those plans were scrapped in 2014 after Norfolk voters approved spending $1.8 million to purchase a 1.5-acre parcel at 14 Sharon Ave. in Norfolk.
The project will convert the building located on the site and turn it into the dispatch center and new police headquarters for Norfolk.
In 2016, Norfolk voters approved a $12.2 million debt exclusion during a special election to allow the town to renovate a portion of the Sharon Avenue building for the police and also update the current public safety building for the fire department.
Norfolk Town Administrator Jack Hathaway said the town’s police and fire departments have been holding things together with “bubble gum and baling wire.” He credited both departments for making the outdated building work for so long.
“This is long overdue,” Hathaway said of the renovations.
By Katie Lannan – State House News Service
A state representative pushing to make civics projects a graduation requirement for Massachusetts students on Tuesday pointed to municipal election statistics from her district to make her point.
Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, a Methuen Democrat, said during the city of Haverhill’s last municipal election, approximately 11,000 people between the ages of 18 and 24 were registered to vote, but only about 750 cast ballots.
She said lawmakers must “do all that we can to increase civic participation” and pitched civics education as one potential way to do so.
“Our public education system was developed to prepare us for citizenship, and we in the Legislature I think have done a good job at increasing access to voting,” she said. “The educational component…that can convince the younger generation why to vote is partially included in this bill.”
Campbell’s bill (H 2016) is one of 17 dealing with civics curriculum that the committee accepted testimony on Tuesday.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Board of Higher Education last year voted to revise their definitions of college and career readiness to include a section on “civic readiness,” calling for “a deep understanding and knowledge of U.S. history and its foundational
documents, along with the knowledge, intellectual skills, and applied competencies that citizens need for informed and effective participation in civic and democratic life.”
Education officials are also reviewing the state’s curriculum framework for history and social science, with plans to propose a revised set of standards in June 2018. Campbell said this work makes the issue “very timely” and said she hopes the committee will consider a “comprehensive approach” to civics education.
Other civics bills the committee is considering include a Rep. Jonathan Zlotnik bill (H 333) that would incorporate curriculum on personal finances, civics and “basic legal concepts” into high school social studies programs; a Rep. Shawn Dooley bill (H 237) that would establish passing a civics test as a graduation requirement; and a Sen. Eric Lesser bill (S 278) that would create a voluntary pilot program and test on news media literacy, “with the ultimate goal of requiring news media literacy be taught in all schools across the commonwealth.”