Willard Street Fire Under Investigation

By SCOTT JACKSON

A fire at 429 Willard St. in West Quincy caused an estimated $150,000 to $200,000 in damage Tuesday morning.

The Quincy Fire Department received a call about the fire at 4:56 a.m. Tuesday, according to Fire Chief Joseph Barron. Engine 5, out of the West Quincy firehouse, was the first to arrive on scene and encountered a heavy fire in the second floor living room of the home. Deputy Chief John Cadegan struck a second alarm soon after the second company arrived. Firefighters attacked the fire from an exterior stairwell and were able to knock it down by 7 a.m.

“Their quick actions held it to the room of origin and the attic above,” Barron said.

The first floor of the home received water damage, Barron noted, while the second floor received smoke damage.

The occupants of the home were able to escape without injury. Roughly 25 firefighters – from five engine companies and three ladder companies – were on scene and no injuries had been reported as of noon Tuesday. Firefighters from neighboring communities provided coverage at Quincy’s firehouses while crews were on scene.

The cause remains under investigation by the Quincy Fire and Police Departments; Barron said the fire appeared to have been electrical in origin and was not suspicious.

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Prescription Safety, Drunk Driving Prevention Campaigns

Dozens of Norfolk County Police and Fire Chiefs joined Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, at center, in launching regional campaigns to fight the two greatest causes of preventable death in the county – drunk driving and opiate overdose at Patriot Place.

Dozens of Norfolk County Police and Fire Chiefs joined Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, at center, in launching regional campaigns to fight the two greatest causes of preventable death in the county – drunk driving and opiate overdose at Patriot Place.

Police Chiefs, Fire Chiefs and Prescription Drug Task Force members from across Norfolk County recently joined Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey at Patriot Place to launch two campaigns aimed at the two greatest causes of preventable death in Norfolk County – drunk driving and prescription drug abuse.

“We are losing more than a person a week to opiate overdose. Fifty-nine so far this year, even though we have a county-wide Narcan program,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “On average we have a person killed or seriously injured about every week in drunk driving crashes.”

Norfolk County chiefs and the DA are launching a new program today and will be visiting all 120 pharmacies in the county to ask them to do three things: Enroll in the Prescription Drug  Monitoring Program designed to prevent doctor shopping and bogus prescriptions; distribute information cards, created and supplied by the DA, with safe drug storage and disposal information with every new prescription for addictive drugs the pharmacies fill; take and use materials outlining the yellow flags that local law enforcement have identified as warning of possible prescription fraud or abuse.

“Some of what we share with pharmacies, they will already have experienced directly or know to look out for,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “But if the information we have gained regionally from analyzing our investigations – including our overdose cases—if we can prevent even a percentage of pills from being diverted, we will have accomplished something important.”

The launch event took place just a few yards from where District Attorney Morrissey was sponsoring a TIPS alcohol server training event at Patriot Place for local bar and restaurant workers. The program  aims to make liquor serving establishments  better equipped to keep patrons from getting behind the wheel when they should not.

“That training dovetails with our Observe, Don’t Overserve initiative,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “For the last several years, we have reached out to local restaurants and bars to partner with us and display ‘Observe, Don’t Overserve’ signs on the bar or at serving stations in their places. When a server recognizes the need to shut someone off, they can point to the signs and explain that their manager, their owner, is in partnership with the local Police Chief and the District Attorney and they just can’t serve them another drink. If it keeps one drunk driver off the road, by all means blame me.”

This is third year Patriot Place has worked with the District Attorney’s Office on the “Observe, Don’t Overserve” campaign and hosted the TIPS alcohol server training event.

“Patriot Place continues to work closely with the District Attorney’s Office to stress the importance of responsible alcohol service and proudly supports programs like the ‘Observe, Don’t Overserve’ and the John R. Elliot HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers,” said Patriot Place General Manager Brian Earley. “Programs like today’s event are important not only for the upcoming holiday season, but year-round.”

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Add Some Sparkle to Your Holiday Décor

LED Pinecone String Lights 2

By Melinda Myers

Liven up your holiday décor with lights, a bit of glitz and some colorful blossoms this season.

Start by gathering greenery from your landscape. Use needled evergreens like pines and firs, broadleaf evergreens like boxwood, holly and evergreen magnolia as well as junipers and arborvitaes to create wreaths, swags, centerpieces and garland. And don’t forget to include cones, holly berries, crabapples and the bluish-colored fruit of junipers.

Be selective as you prune your trees and shrubs when collecting these materials. Use sharp bypass pruners that have two sharp blades and will make a clean cut that closes more quickly.  Make your cuts above a healthy bud, where the branches join another branch, or back to the main trunk. Take only a few branches from each tree or shrub to maintain the plants’ beauty.

Place freshly cut greens in a cool location away from heaters, fireplaces and open flames. Set them on colorful fabric or paper to catch the sap and avoid damaging your woodwork and furnishings.

Check your greenery for freshness every few days. The needles, leaves and stems should bend, but not break. Replace dried greens with fresh materials.

Then brighten up the display with some cool burning LED lights. Create a mantle display or centerpiece with the help of LED pillar lights. Or add a string of LEDs to your garland. Look for something unusual like pinecone string lights (gardeners.com) to add sparkle and charm to your display.

If you have artificial greens that could use a facelift, add fresh berries, cones and seedpods for a more natural look. Increase the glitz with the help of silver and gold metallic paint or glitter.  Paint milkweed, lotus and other pods and then tuck them into the greens. Painting allium seedheads white will add the appearance of flowery snowflakes in your indoor arrangements and outdoor container gardens.

And don’t forget the fresh flowers and flowering plants. Poinsettias are a long-time favorite, but you may want to change things up with Amaryllis, spring flowering bulbs and lily of the valley.  Look for unusual varieties or combinations to increase your enjoyment. Combine large flowered amaryllis with small flowering bulbs like star of Bethlehem. Or go for a unique size shape or flower color like that of the Honeybee Amaryllis with its beautiful yellow flowers that are sure to brighten your days.

Add a few flowers to your greenery and houseplants for some instant color.  Stick your greenery and flowers in dampened floral foam to create a long-lasting holiday centerpiece. Or place cut flowers in floral picks and set them in dish gardens and houseplants to brighten things up. Then swap out the flowers as they fade.

And consider making a few extra planters or centerpieces to give as holiday and hostess gifts this year.

Now is the time to put on your gardening shoes, grab the pruners and get started decorating for the holiday season ahead.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has a master’s degree in horticulture and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening and the Midwest Gardener’s Handbook. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicatedMelinda’s Garden Moment segments. Myers is also a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Bloomsmagazine. Her web site, www.melindamyers.com, offers gardening videos, podcasts and monthly tips.

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Gasoline Prices Down Six Cents

Gasoline prices in Massachusetts are down six cents from last week, according to AAA Southern New England.

AAA’s November 24th survey of prices in Massachusetts found self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $2.87 per gallon, down six cents from last week. Prices locally are 22 cents lower than a month ago. The current price is six cents more than the national average for self serve unleaded of $2.81. A year ago at this time the Massachusetts average price was 48 cents higher at $3.35.

“This additional 6-cent drop in prices at the pump is more welcome news for holiday travelers. Nationally, prices for regular unleaded are down almost 90 cents since May,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Southern New England Director of Public and Legislative Affairs.

The range in prices in the latest AAA survey for unleaded regular is 68 cents, from a low of $2.71 to a high of $3.39. AAA advises motorists to shop around for the best prices in their area, and to make sure they and their passengers buckle up — every trip, every time.

Today’s local gas prices and their ranges are as follows:

Self Serve                                                Grade

$2.879 ($2.719-$3.399)                                    Regular Unleaded

$3.179 ($2.859-$3.599)                                    Midgrade Unleaded

$3.329 ($2.979-$3.899)                                    Premium Unleaded

$3.519 ($3.369-$3.999)                                    Diesel

Find the most up-to-date local gas prices with the AAA Fuel Finder by logging onto AAA.com and clicking on Gas Saving Tips & Tools. AAA members can also obtain a copy of the Gas Watcher’s Guide at their local AAA Southern New England office.

 

AAA Fuel Saving Tip of the Week

Slow down. The faster a vehicle travels, the more fuel it burns.

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Over 46 Million Americans Expected To Travel 50 Plus Miles For Thanksgiving

AAA Travel projects 46.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 4.2 percent increase over 2013. Almost 90 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will celebrate the holiday with a road trip and will enjoy the lowest gas prices in nearly four years. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 26 through Sunday, November 30.

Highlights from 2014 Thanksgiving Travel Forecast:

  • Thanksgiving holiday travel volume is expected to reach the highest level since 2007, with 46.3 million Americans taking a trip.
  • The 2014 forecast is 4.2 percent higher than the 44.4 million Americans who traveled last year and the greatest growth rate for any holiday since Independence Day 2012.
  • More than a million Massachusetts residents are expected to travel, the highest number locally since 2005.
  • Road trippers will pay the lowest price for fuel in nearly four years with prices locally averaging less than $3.00 per gallon.
  • More than 89 percent of travelers (41.3 million) will travel by automobile, a 4.3 percent increase from 39.6 million last year.
  • Air travel for Thanksgiving is expected to be at the highest level since 2007, with 3.55 million Americans taking to the skies.
  • The average distance traveled this Thanksgiving will be 549 miles roundtrip and Americans will spend an average of $573 during the holiday weekend.
  • Travelers from New England tend to stay a little closer to home than some other parts of the country; however the region will still see a 3.9 percent in overall travel compared to 2013.

“This year, more Americans will give thanks for the opportunity to travel to friends and family than any year since 2007,” said Lloyd P. Albert, AAA Southern New England Senior Vice President of Public and Government Affairs. “Americans are more optimistic about the future as improvements in several key economic factors, including employment, GDP and disposable income, are boosting consumer confidence and the desire to travel.”

“Holiday joy has come early this year with Americans paying the lowest gas prices since 2010. Lower prices are increasing disposable income and enabling families to carve out more money from household budgets for travel this Thanksgiving,” added Mr. Albert.

Impact of gasoline prices on travel plans

The national price of gasoline has fallen below $3.00 per gallon for the first time since Dec. 22, 2010, a welcome gift for travelers as they head into the busy holiday travel season. AAA predicts most U.S. travelers will pay the cheapest Thanksgiving gas prices in four years. More than 89 percent (41.3 million) of holiday travelers will drive to their destination, a 4.3 percent increase from 2013.

Most of travelers’ budgets go toward transportation, food and shopping

Travelers are expected to spend an average of $573 over the course of their holiday travels. Despite lower average gas prices, travelers are allocating 31 percent of their budgets to fuel transportation. Food and beverage and shopping will account for 22 percent and 20 percent of holiday travel budgets, respectively.

Travelers’ spending plans mirror their intended activities this Thanksgiving, with 70 percent of travelers reporting they will enjoy dining during their vacation and 59 percent will go shopping. Eighty-nine percent of travelers plan to spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving holiday.

AAA offers travel planning resources

AAA’s digital tools for travel planning on the go include the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to map a route, find current gas prices and discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Travelers can learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

On AAA.com, travelers can find more than 58,000 AAA Approved and Diamond Rated hotels and restaurants using the TripTik Travel Planner or the searchable Travel Guides at AAA.com/Travel. Every AAA Approved establishment offers the assurance of acceptable cleanliness, comfort and hospitality, and ratings of One to Five Diamonds help travelers find the right match for amenities and services.

AAA’s collection of downloadable eTourBook guides for tablets and smartphones is available free to members at AAA.com/ebooks. Choose from 101 top North American destinations including city titles, like the award-winning Las Vegas, and regions like Wine Country and national parks.

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Colorado-based business information provider teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during the major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades

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