Representative Shawn Dooley Announces Two Grants for District Businesses

BOSTON—State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) is proud to announce that two businesses in his district have received a Workforce Training Fund grant from the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD):

  • Capstan Atlantic in Wrentham was awarded $136,450 to train 252 workers and add 10 additional jobs by 2019
  • MAS Building & Bridge, Inc. in Norfolk was awarded $116,830 to train 38 workers and add 10 additional jobs by 2019

According to the EOLWD, the Workforce Training Fund grants are funded from contributions made by employers to unemployment insurance and are designed to improve the productivity of businesses and to strengthen the Commonwealth’s workforce by providing businesses funds to train and hire new workers.

“Private enterprise is the backbone of the Commonwealth’s economy as well as the economy of my district ” said Dooley. “I’m ecstatic to see this Administration investing money back into businesses and more importantly investing in the businesses and the citizens of the Ninth Norfolk. The additional jobs created by these two fantastic companies will certainly be a great benefit to our community, and it is my sincere hope that it helps them continue the excellent work they do.”

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Rallying against the stigma of shame in Wrentham

By Judee Consentino; October 28, 2017; The Sun Chronicle

More than 100 people, affected in different ways by the crisis, gathered to show and give support.

The widely-distributed signs reading “#2069,” which represent the number of opioid fatalities in the state last year, were also prominent at the rally, but some people didn’t need to actually see the signs in order to be reminded of the statistic.

Cindy Morse of Wrentham comforted her longtime friend, Mary Jackson of Norfolk, whose 25-year-old son Alex died last year of an opioid overdose.

Alex Jackson was Morse’s godson.

“He’s a statistic — he’s a number of that 2,069,” Morse said sadly.

Michael Bennett of Attleboro, who is a recovering addict, happened to be driving through town and saw the crowd at the rally.

Without planning to, he stopped his car and attended for several minutes, bowing his head as he listened to the different speakers.

“It was definitely emotional,” said Bennett. “It makes me think how fortunate I am that I got out, especially when I did…recovery is possible. It’s not easy, it takes work; it’s really just a day at a time.”

Speakers

Among the speakers at the rally were Joanne Peterson, founder of the non-profit peer-led support network Learn To Cope; local emergency medical technician Kathryn Nelson, and Sean Merrill, development supervisor at Teen Challenge, a faith-based recovery program.

Rev. Ron Tibbetts, a deacon at Trinity Church of Wrentham, organized the event.

“(The #2069 movement) is grounded in a profound sense of love that calls us to be a single voice,” Tibbetts said. “A voice that says, ‘There is no shame’ in being, in knowing, in living and in loving in the storm of a substance abuse disorder.

“We are here to say, ‘There is no shame,’ no need to hide, no judgement so severe we will run away; today, there is a voice saying, ‘There is no shame’ in the darkest of times when the light of hope seems absent, no shame in the love that would have us rise up as people joining, hand in hand, to take on the work before us.”

The stigma associated with being an addict — which even extends to other family members — is stark and painful, as Joanne Peterson related.

Deadly

And the feeling that everyone has given up on you is almost as deadly as the drugs themselves, as more than one speaker could attest to.

“This is an isolating disease,” said Jim Derick, president of the SAFE Coalition in Franklin.

Neither was it simply a Republican or Democratic issue, as State Representatives Jeff Roy, D-Franklin, Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, concurred.

“We still have miles to go on this journey, but it’s a journey of hope and of healing,” Roy said.

In solidarity, after each speaker, the crowd repeated, “We stand as one, the voice of change.”

Rev. Dr. Elise Feyerherm closed the rally with a prayer.

“Send us forth, ready to lead the way and make a difference, and to be beacons of light and hope,” Feyerhem prayed.

 

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Senate passes major criminal justice reforms

By Jim Hand; October 27, 2017; The Sun Chronicle

The state Senate has adopted a criminal justice reform bill that calls for sweeping changes in sentencing and corrections, but local House members expect major changes when they deal with it.

The Senate bill would reform mandatory sentences for non-violent, low-level drug offenders, make it easier for poorer suspects to make bail, and put restrictions on solitary confinement.

It would also allow drug dealers to be charged with murder if their drugs cause the death of another person.

The aim of the bill is to reduce the prison population of non-violent convicts and increase the chances of criminals, especially drug users, of going straight.

The bail reform would require a judge to consider a defendant’s ability to pay in setting bail. Studies have found that poorer suspects end up being held in jail because they cannot afford cash bail.

Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, D-Amherst, calls the current bail system a modern day debtors’ prison.

“It’s time Massachusetts joins the national ‘let’s get smart on crime movement,’” Rosenberg said in a statement.

“This bill protects public safety and makes commonsense reforms while improving outcomes with our precious tax dollars.”

The final vote was 27-10. State Sen. Richard Ross, R-Wrentham, was among those who voted no, but he could not be reached for comment.

Senator-elect Paul Feeney, D-Foxboro, was unable to vote on the bill because he has not officially taken office yet after winning an Oct. 17 special election.

But he spoke favorably of the legislation.

“Though I haven’t been officially sworn in yet, I watched every minute of debate yesterday, into the early morning, via the live stream,” he said in a statement.

“Criminal justice reform was long overdue and I am pleased to see that such a robust debate led to a comprehensive piece of legislation that passed the Senate.”

He said he believes the bill will go a long way toward reducing recidivism and bring balance toward a focus on rehabilitation in the prison system.

“Substance abuse especially, should be treated as a mental health issue, not just a criminal justice issue. I believe that the measures taken by the Senate go a long way in reforming a broken system and will ultimately make our communities safer,” he said.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving issued a statement complimenting the Senate for adopting an amendment that requires the vehicles of repeat offenders to have a device that prevents them from starting the car if they are under the influence.

“This is common sense legislation that is working in other states and will save lives in Massachusetts,” said Mary Kate DePamphilis, program manager of MADD Massachusetts.

“We are grateful to the Senate for recognizing how important it is to pass this law this year, and we call on the House to adopt this language as part of its criminal justice reform bill.”

The House is preparing its own version of the bill and state Rep. Betty Poirier, R-North Attleboro, predicted the House would be much more conservative with reforms.

She said there is a big difference on the subject between the House and the more liberal Senate.

Nine of the state’s 11 district attorneys came out against the Senate bill, saying it goes too far in repealing mandatory minimum sentences.

Poirier also expressed doubts actions on the bill could be completed before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

State Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, said he opposes some portions of the Senate bill, such as the loosening of sentences for selling drugs in a school zone.

The House should make changes, he said.

“I think that they went too far on getting rid of some of the mandatory sentencing. While some reform was needed, I believe the senate bill went too far,” he said.

State Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, also said he expects the House to produce a different bill.

“The Senate bill had over 160 amendments which gives me pause as to the intent of what was drafted,” he said. “I would assume the House will have a somewhat different approach. Should be interesting.”

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Temporary fix OK’d for Plainville’s Rte. 1, George Street intersection

By Heather McCarron; October 19, 2017; Wicked Local Plainville

PLAINVILLE — A strip of Qwick Kurbs and two traffic-channeling islands will soon make an appearance on Rte. 1 and George Street as a temporary plan for improving safety at the dangerous intersection is implemented.

Selectmen on Monday joined other public officials – including the police and fire chiefs, the town DPW director and the director of planning and development – in endorsing the plan designed by engineers at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT).

“What MassDOT is proposing, it’s called a Qwick Kurb,” Thompson said. “Qwick Kurb is more of a temporary barrier. This would be a temporary barrier that they could put up fairly quickly. You’ve probably seen these before if you go up to the Cape.”

The Qwick Kurb strip with upright flexisticks placed at intervals will be placed down the center of Rte. 1 in the area of George Street. The barrier “will, at a minimum, prevent people from crossing over Rte. 1” from one side of George Street to the other, Thompson said.

“The other thing they’re proposing is small, raised islands on each side of George Street that would prohibit left turns on either side of George Street, so people could only do right turn in and right turn out on each side of George Street,” she explained. “Certainly there would be a lot of signage warning people of the changes on both Rte. 1 and on George Street.”

Tragic prelude

The plan comes on the heels of a fatal accident on Sept. 17 that claimed the life of 35-year-old Aaron Hahn of Sharon, who was traveling northbound on his 2014 Suzuki motorcycle on Rte. 1 toward Wrentham when he collided with a vehicle at the George Street intersection in Plainville that was attempting to cross over Rte. 1.

The accident immediately prompted a citizens’ petition by Dawn Denizkurt and Missy Imbaro, and renewed efforts by town officials to get their concerns about the intersection heard and addressed by the state – a serendipitous, late September visit to town by Lt. Gov. Karen Polito during which officials pointed out their concerns fast-tracked the issue, selectmen said.

In August 2015, Baystate Engineering conducted a safety audit of the intersection, which indicated that from 2010 to 2015 there were 23 accidents at the intersection. There have been an additional 10 accidents since the report came out.

Town officials said they have been urging a safety solution for the state-managed section of Rte. 1 for years with no concrete results, and selectmen had sent a letter to MassDOT as recently as last winter.

Immediate implementation expected

Thompson said town officials “had a sit down” with MassDOT following a recent selectmen’s meeting held to discuss concerns about the problematic intersection in the wake of the Sept. 17 fatality. They were pleasantly surprised to find the department already had a short-term solution drawn out, she said.

“The best part of the conversation was they think they could do this in four to six weeks, which if you’re ever dealt with the state is amazing to me,” Thompson said.

She noted that the work is a little weather dependent.

“Of course, if we get snow early that could impact the schedule a little bit,” she said. “But the fact that they had a plan prepared, a short term solution of something that they could implement in a shorter time that I had thought, is encouraging.”

She said officials did touch upon some long-term solutions, but went to the technical meeting looking first for “something quick to address the safety at the intersection” and that would not require more studies and “years of waiting for it to happen.”

Endorsed by public safety, other officials

Police Chief James Alfred said the more serious accidents at the intersection have tended to be the result of left turning movements.

“This (plan) will eliminate those left turning movements. It will also eliminate anyone coming across the intersection,” he said.

He agrees the plan improves safety at the intersection, though people must still be cautious about left turning movements into and out of the nearby Dunkin Donuts. Public safety officials have also petitioned the state to decrease the speed limit past George Street from 55 to 45 mph.

The plan, Alfred said, is certainly “a quick fix for now and it should be effective. The islands will channel people so that they can only take a right turn – a right turn off of George Street and a right turn onto Rte. 1.”

“We may not prevent all of the accidents there, but we may prevent those types of very serious accidents,” he said.

Fire Chief Justin Alexander said the plan will not interfere with emergency access for his department. In September there was some talk of blocking off George Street. Alexander said “having it not blocked helps us to have options.”

DPW Director Paul Scott said he is satisfied with the temporary plan as well.

“We’ve eliminated most of the conflicts, especially the dangerous conflicts,” he said. “These safety improvements are a huge step in the right direction.”

Selectmen also say it is a good plan, and noted they will continue to work with MassDOT on a permanent solution. The expectation is that there will be a permanent plan by 2021. MassDOT has already started some survey work toward that end, officials said.

“We’re not going to solve all of the problems here, but we should be able to eliminate all of the really bad ones,” said Selectman George Sutherland, adding, “I could not be happier with this as a temporary and quick solution to mitigate the issue.”

Board Chairman Rob Rose called the quick-action of MassDOT and the temporary fix “an early Christmas present,” but stressed the town needs to keep a foot to the pedal to ensure a permanent solution is designed and implemented.

Selectman Matt Kavanah is satisfied as well, for now.

“This proposal has the endorsement across the board from our town administrator, our chief of police, our fire department, our director of public works and our director of planning and development, and all of that is good enough for me,” he said.

Denizkurt said she is happy with the short term solution, though she continues to be cautious, noting the town has yet to see the impact of the 248-unit apartment complex being built nearby.

State Rep. Shawn Dooley, who has been in frequent contact with Polito about the matter, said the fast-tracked, short term solution has been “a team effort.”

He said he spoke to MassDOT on Monday, and “they said they have the funding in place. They said it’s not, in their world, a big cost. It doesn’t look like there’s any hiccoughs.”

But, he said, “This is just phase one. We need to make sure we don’t let the foot off the gas and make sure everything’s in place and we continue to be that squeaky wheel.”

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Norfolk lawmaker: Gas detector bill could save lives

By Diane McLaughlin; October 11, 2017; Sun Chronicle

Seven years after a propane tank explosion killed a construction worker, a local legislator wants to prevent future tragedies.

Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, has filed legislation to require combustible gas detectors in all new and renovated residences. Massachusetts currently requires dwellings to only have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Dooley, an on-call firefighter and EMT with the Plainville Fire Department, had filed a similar bill in the last legislative session and was surprised it failed. He said the gas industry saw the bill as singling out specific types of gas as dangerous.

“I changed the language during the process last time, but it was a little too late,” Dooley said.

The current bill defines combustible gas as “including, but not limited to, propane and natural gas.”

Dooley is optimistic that the House will debate the bill this session. It is currently with the Legislature’s Committee for Public Safety and Homeland Security, which has until next June to decide the bill’s fate. Formal sessions for the current legislature end July 31, 2018.

Several manufacturers make combination carbon monoxide and combustible gas detectors. The combination devices cost only slightly more than the carbon monoxide detectors currently required in Massachusetts, Dooley said.

If the bill becomes law, current homeowners will not need to purchase a new detector. Only new and renovated dwellings with combustible gas will require the device. Dooley said many homeowners are not aware of these detectors. If the law is enacted, he expects people will choose to buy one.

The Norfolk tragedy happened at the Village at Rivers Edge condominium complex when a propane tank exploded, causing a fire. One construction worker was killed and three others were injured.

A resident in an adjacent unit and two firefighters were also injured.

An investigation determined that the propane tank had absorbed the odor, so workers could not smell the leak. The investigation also uncovered issues with the odor of propane sold in New England.

A propane gas leak also caused an explosion in a Franklin condominium in 2015, killing two people.

More recently, a propane leak led to a Rehoboth house explosion in August that injured three people. In New Hampshire, a propane tank explosion in September killed a painter working on a house under construction.

Natural gas leaks can also be dangerous.

In 2014, an explosion in Dorchester injured 12 people. A gas leak in Cambridge this summer led fire officials to evacuate a residential and commercial neighborhood. No explosions occurred.

In Massachusetts, 50.1 percent of households are heated by natural gas while 2.9 percent use bottled gas, including propane, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011-2015 American Community Survey estimates.

Coleman Bushnell, Norfolk’s fire chief, supports Dooley’s bill. He said a combustible gas detector could have prevented the 2010 tragedy.

“Clearly the amount of gas that was present within the basement of the unit under construction would have been readily detectable by even the most rudimentary type of combustible gas detectors,” Bushnell said.

Dooley said the developer at the Village at Rivers Edge had never heard of combustible gas detectors. His son was among the construction workers injured in the explosion. He later installed the devices in all units.

Since then the detectors have twice alerted residents to the accumulation of gas, Bushnell said. The fire department responded both times, and no explosion occurred.

Bushnell is more concerned with bottled gas than natural gas because, unlike utilities, the bottled gas industry is not regulated. Bushnell thinks combustible gas detectors should be included when the tank is installed.

On its website, the Propane Gas Association of New England recommends homeowners consider installing gas detectors.

Bushnell acknowledged that combustible gas devices are not perfect. As with smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, false alarms can occur, causing homeowners angst.

“I think when you weigh that concern with potentially saving a life, it’s a small inconvenience to be borne by the public,” Bushnell said.

Bushnell commended Dooley for sponsoring the bill.

“I’m very hopeful that Representative Dooley’s legislation will meet muster in Boston,” Bushnell said.

Dooley finds satisfaction in sponsoring this bill.
“Very rarely do we get to propose a bill that helps public safety, saves lives and has no cost,” Dooley said.

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Wrentham granted more liquor licenses as governor signs bill

 October 10, 2017; Wicked Local Wrentham

The town has been granted a number of additional liquor licenses by the governor.

Gov. Charlie Baker has signed a bill filed by Sen. Richard J. Ross, R-Wrentham, authorizing the issuing of nine new liquor licenses to Wrentham. The legislation marks a continued growth of small business in the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District, according to Ross’ office.

“Small businesses are important job creators and crucial pieces of our economy,” said Ross. “There has been considerable growth in Wrentham, especially around the Rte. 1 area. I am pleased our governor supports entrepreneurs and the t0wn of Wrentham.”

The bill, co-sponsored by state Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk, grants Wrentham the authority to assign nine liquor licenses for the sale of alcoholic beverages to be drunk on the premises. This includes six all-liquor licenses and three beer and wine licenses.

“Keeping business in Wrentham and attracting new businesses to the town is an important issue of mine as a resident and a business owner myself. Wrentham now has additional liquor licenses to distribute to new developments,” said Ross. “This gives local businesses a chance to compete with other surrounding areas.”

Prior to this legislation, Wrentham held 14 all-liquor licenses and five beer and wine licenses. The town now has 20 all-liquor licenses and eight beer and wine licenses. The last liquor license granted to the town was in October of 2015. Since then, the town has seen an increase in population and commercial establishments, creating a demand for commercial development.

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Norfolk Rep and Walpole Police Chief Propose Butane and Propane Regulations

BOSTON—State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) and Walpole Police Chief John Carmichael Jr. have in conjunction filed HD4232 An act regulating the purchase and sale of butane and propane with the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The proposed bill aims to ban the sale of butane and propane to those under the age of 18, much in the same way alcohol is regulated for those under 21, to protect against a dangerous process used to extract a more concentrated form of THC from marijuana leaves. Currently, the bill has six additional co-sponsors including Rep. John Rogers (D-Norwood), Rep. Steven Howitt (R-Seekonk), Rep. David DeCoste (R-Norwell), Rep. Angelo Scaccia (D-Boston), Rep. Mathew Muratore (R-Plymouth), and Rep. Paul Frost (R-Auburn).

Butane and propane are used in a simple but dangerous process to extract a form of THC called “hash oil,” or “shatter” in frozen form, that can often be up to 90% pure THC. Marijuana trimmings are placed into a holding container where butane or propane is pushed through to create a liquid mixture. This mixture is then evaporated off, which leaves behind the waxy hash oil. This process presents a number of dangers, particularly to those younger and inexperienced users unfamiliar with the intricacies of the process. Firstly, if not evaporated properly accidental consumption of butane or propane is likely. Ingestion of either substance can be fatal with effects ranging from drowsiness, increased blood pressure, and temporary memory loss to asphyxia, cardiac arrhythmia, and a complete deterioration of neurological functioning. Outside of these risks, the risk of explosions is also inherent in the process. More often than not the process takes place indoors where butane and propane, highly combustible gasses, are allowed to build up. Butane and propane related explosions, which are generally devastating and often fatal, have been on the rise since states have started legalizing recreational marijuana.

“It would be stupid to sit back on our haunches and pretend like we don’t know what’s going to happen” said Dooley when asked about this bill. “We have a number of other states that are further down the line in terms of recreational marijuana, and they have seen an increase in hash oil related explosions. After speaking with Chief Carmichael, I’ve become aware that butane is already flying off of store shelves here in the Commonwealth. The writing is on the wall. Neither myself nor Chief Carmichael have ever been supporters of legalized recreational marijuana, but I would hope even advocates recognize the need to act to protect our youth from this danger.”

Chief Carmichael, both an original opponent of Question 4 and one of Governor Baker’s appointments to the Cannabis Advisory Board, expressed a similar sentiment as Dooley, emphasizing “This is not an anti-marijuana bill; It is a hazard prevention initiative.” Carmichael calls this new trend “An unintended consequence of the legalization of marijuana” and one that unfortunately finds its biggest market amongst adolescents. He notes that “This process is extremely dangerous especially for youths as when these gasses are not handled correctly they may cause explosions, injury and/or death. This bill would reduce access to butane and propane and help prevent our youth from manufacturing concentrates using these hazardous methods.”

Both Dooley and Carmichael are grateful for each other’s dedication to this issue. “I thank Rep. Dooley for taking action to protect our youth from these real dangers” said Carmichael.

“Chief Carmichael is a tireless advocate for Walpole, and always goes above and beyond his call of duty to protect all of its citizens. This issue is just another example of his dedication and leadership in the community. I am lucky to have his help in this fight to ensure a safe rollout of our new marijuana regulations” said Dooley.

Carmichael and Dooley hope to get the bill moving quickly through the legislature, but have no plans to rest until this issue is addressed whenever that may be.

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Representative Shawn Dooley Announces Trail Grant for Walpole

BOSTON—State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) is proud to announce that the Town of Walpole is the recipient of a $13,852 Recreational Trail Grant from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The funds received will go to the Jarvis Farm and Walpole Town Forest Boardwalk Link project.

DCR’s Recreational Trail Program (RTP) is a part of a larger federal Recreational Trails Program funded by the Federal Highway Administration. The program is designed to encourage new, creative approaches to developing trails and upgrading old ones by providing reimbursement for localities who take up these ideas. DCR explains that the scope of the program is wide and includes motorized and non-motorized trails as well as the facilities therein. This encompasses water trails, urban trails, snow mobile trails, long-distance trails, and a whole host of others.

The grant received by the Town of Walpole will be put towards the Jarvis Farm and Walpole Town Forest Boardwalk Link project, which DCR explains “will construct a 250-foot long boardwalk over a brook and through a wetland to provide a critical link between the town-owned properties of Jarvis Farm and Walpole Town Forest. A viewing platform will also be constructed within the wetland to provide opportunities for environmental education among users, including summer day camp participants.”

“I’m very excited that Walpole has received this grant” said Dooley. “Balancing the need for residential and commercial zoning in my district can often teams lead all of us to overlook recreational areas. We are blessed with an abundant amount of natural beauty, and I believe it is imperative that we provide citizens with sanctuaries to enjoy it. I hope this grant will help achieve just that.”

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Representative Shawn Dooley Announces META Grants for Millis, Plainville, and Walpole

BOSTON—State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) is proud to announce three Municipal Energy Technical Assistance (META) grants from the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) to his district:

  • $12,500 Norfolk County Agricultural High School
  • $7,500 Plainville
  • $5,000 Millis

META grants are provided by DOER to Massachusetts municipalities, regional school districts, and water/wastewater districts to help explore and perform energy projects. With these funds the recipients will be able to have more ready access to expert consultants, contractors, and others with deep technical expertise that without funding is hard to obtain.

“Rising energy costs are a huge problem in our modern world, but finding solutions can often be overly complex and thorny. I’m proud that Plainville, Millis, and Norfolk Aggie have received these grants to help our local communities tackle this important issue” said Dooley about the grants. “Any solution to this problem will provide a net benefit to us all.”

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Representative Shawn Dooley Announces DEP Grants for District

BOSTON—State Representative Shawn Dooley (R-Norfolk) is proud to announce that all six of the towns in his district, Medfield; Millis; Norfolk; Plainville; Walpole; and Wrentham, are all recipients of a Sustainable Materials Recovery Program (SMRP) grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The amount of the grants combines to over $22,000 for the six towns.

SMRP grants are provided by the MassDEP to encourage recycling, composting, and reuse on the municipal level. Amongst a host of other qualifications, communities that receive the grants must certify that they are committed to “buy recycled” policies, complete a solid waste and recycling survey, and ensure paper; cardboard; bottle; and can recycling are available in all municipal buildings. Money received from the grants can be used towards covering recycling and waste expenses including purchase of recycling equipment, strengthening school recycling programs, and maintaining and updating recycling facilities amongst a plethora of other items.

“I am happy to hear that all six of my towns have received this grant ” said Dooley. “Ensuring a safe and healthy environment for everyone is a massive issue that extends far beyond any one town; however, the most basic thing we can all do is recycle. I’m proud that all of the towns in the Ninth Norfolk District are deeply committed to this cause.”

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