Two Quincy Residents Killed In Methuen Crash

By SCOTT JACKSON

Two Quincy residents were killed in a wrong-way crash early Monday morning on I-93 in Methuen.

Massachusetts State Police said the crash occurred just around 2 a.m. on Monday in the southbound side of the interstate.

The preliminary investigation indicates a 2020 Toyota RAV4 was traveling in the wrong direction — it was headed northbound in the southbound lanes — police said. The RAV4, operated by Fan Mo, 53, of Quincy, struck a 2021 Toyota Camry head-on. After the head-on crash, the Camry came into contact with a third vehicle.

The driver of the Camry, Levi Munoz Lopez, 21, of Quincy, was pronounced deceased at the scene, police said, and Mo was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced deceased. The driver of the third vehicle was not injured.

All three lanes of Route 93 were closed for approximately three hours while the investigation and crash recovery was underway. The crash remains under investigation by Troop A of the Massachusetts State Police, the State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section, and the State Police Crime Scene Services Section. Troopers on scene were assisted by Methuen PD, and Methuen Fire and EMS.

 

Mass. Senate Approves $57.9 Billion Budget

The Massachusetts Senate  on Friday voted to approve a $57.9 billion FY25 budget, which included 8 amendments filed by Senator John F. Keenan to provide vital funding to initiatives and programs throughout the Norfolk & Plymouth District, as well as resources supporting individuals throughout the Commonwealth.

“As the needs and priorities of our Commonwealth continue to change over time, we remain committed to tailoring spending plans that meet the moment. I am pleased to say the Senate’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget more than adequately addresses issues spanning from the broad, state-wide concerns to the very specific matters of local importance,” said Sen. Keenan (D-Quincy) in a press release.

The budget reflects substantial increases in local funding over the FY24 budget, both in unrestricted general government aid (UGGA), which is used locally to support police, fire, libraries, public works, veterans, and senior programs, and funding for public schools (Chapter 70). In total, the FY25 budget approved by the Senate allocates a total of $40.6 million in UGGA and $119.5 million in Chapter 70 funding for the Norfolk & Plymouth District.

Many of the budget amendments filed by Sen. Keenan reflect projects and programs within the district in need of additional funding, including an allocation for the Abington Police Department to purchase a new emergency response vehicle and a police drone, as well as funds for Holbrook Middle-High School’s BizarBots robotics team and for Manet Community Health Center in Quincy to assist with the updating of their electronic medical records system.

Several of the district’s fire departments will benefit from an amendment Sen. Keenan filed to secure funding for new communications infrastructure improvements for the Quincy Fire Department, the establishment of a new firefighter cadet training program at Hanover’s South Shore Technical High School, and professional development costs for the Holbrook Fire Department.

The Senate also approved Sen. Keenan’s amendment to provide financial assistance for the councils on aging and departments of elder affairs in the communities of Abington, Braintree, Hanover, Holbrook, and Rockland. Additionally, Sen. Keenan was successful in securing funding for the restoration of Rockland’s public baseball fields and design of a new outdoor recreation area in Abington.

Outside of district-specific matters, Sen. Keenan secured funding and approval for policy changes on a variety of issues, including securing an additional $1 million for the state’s Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone (SHINE) program, which offers counseling and support services for Medicare eligible individuals and their caregivers. To further support individuals living with varying mental health diagnoses across the state, Sen. Keenan successfully advocated for $100,000 to establish an Applied Behavioral Analysis training program through Advocates of Autism of Massachusetts.

Lastly, the Senate also approved Sen. Keenan’s amendment requiring the Department of Public Health to report findings from its compulsive gamblers treatment program to the Legislature to better inform future gambling and public health policy. This data would include anonymous demographic data of participants, participation levels, and information on participant outcomes.

Working as a cosponsor to an amendment filed by Sen. Paul Feeney, Sen. Keenan aided in an effort to provide $100,000 in additional funds for Manet Community Health to purchase and install a new electronic health records system.

Local Unrestricted General Government Aid and Chapter 70 funding:

Abington

  • UGGA: $2,422,223
  • 70: $14,482,278

Braintree

  • UGGA: $7,045,993
  • 70: $21,191,400

Hanover

  • UGGA: $2,608,382
  • 70: $7,718,131

Holbrook

  • UGGA: $1,816,822
  • 70: $11,269,814

Quincy

  • UGGA: $23,511,939
  • 70: $46,126,903

Rockland

  • UGGA: $3,255,129
  • 70: $18,764,880

Now that the Senate and House of Representatives have passed their respective budget proposals, both branches will appoint a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two budgets as the next step in getting a consensus budget to the governor.

 

Koch Seeks $285,000 Salary

By SCOTT JACKSON

Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch on Monday introduced ordinances that would increase his annual salary to $285,000 and the salary of all nine city councillors to $47,500 each.

Thomas Koch

If those items are approved by city councillors, the mayor’s salary would increase from $150,943 and the councillors’ salaries would increase from about $29,800 each. The new salaries would take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Raises for the mayor and city councillors were last approved in the spring of 2014.

City councillors in April received a report from Dorminson Consulting, recommending the mayor’s salary be increased to between $298,957 and $370,000. The city paid Dorminson $9,500 for the report.

Koch’s chief of staff, Chris Walker, on Monday told city councillors the proposed $285,000 salary for the mayor strikes a balance between the Dorminson recommendation and the compensation for other officials in the region.

“We believe the number strikes a balance between the analysis provided by that study and some straight comparatives with similar communities and positions within the Greater Boston area…It will be higher than some places to start, but that won’t last long based on what we’ve seen in the marketplace. It will be lower to start than a number of places, including the city of Cambridge city manager and the Plymouth town manager position,” Walker said. (The city manager of Cambridge is paid $325,000 and Plymouth’s town manager is paid $293,000.)

In addition, Walker said that the salaries need to be increased to ensure qualified candidates are not dissuaded from running for office in the future.

“I’d like to add a piece of the thinking that hasn’t really been discussed to date, and that’s the future. The proposal is not strictly about raising the salary of our current mayor for the first time in a decade, although that’s true. It’s about raising the salary of the position of mayor to an appropriate place to ensure that when the time comes, the salary is enough to attract and retain experienced, talented, committed, passionate individuals to the position,” Walker said.

“Nobody gets into public service or elected office – you all know that – for the money, but we should not have a system that actively dissuades people from participating.”

“The same argument applies to the second item on the agenda, raising councillors’ salaries to $47,500,” Walker added. “Again, this will be the first adjustment for this body in over a decade and represents what the administration believes is fair, accurate compensation for what you all do every day.”

The ordinance providing a salary increase for the mayor was referred to the council’s finance and ordinance committees, both of which are committees of the whole, for review at a future date.

Ward 6 Councillor William Harris objected to the ordinance providing for an increase in the councillors’ salary, preventing it from being sent to committee at Monday’s meeting. The item can be referred to committee during the next City Council meeting on June 3.

The council’s finance committee is expected to review the budget for the mayor’s office and council office on June 3 during the third and final series of scheduled hearings – those budget hearings begin at 6:30 p.m. that evening, with a regular council meeting set for 7:30 p.m. Koch did not include raises for himself or the councillors in the fiscal year 2025 budget he introduced on May 6. At the time, he said the budget could be adjusted to included raises if they were approved.

The council held a public hearing on the budget on May 13. After Monday’s council meeting, City Solicitor James Timmins said he would need to review whether a separate public hearing would be required relative to the proposed ordinances.

Hanly Appointed Elder Services Director; Former Director Terminated

Mayor Thomas Koch announced Monday that Michelle Hanly,  the city’s Recreation Director for the last five years, will be appointed as Quincy’s  new Director of Elder Services.

Michelle Hanly

Hanly will succeed Thomas Clasby, Jr., who was terminated last Friday amid an investigation into financial irregularities within the Department of Elder Services. That investigation is ongoing, and city officials offered no further specific comment on it.

In addition to serving as its Recreation Director, Hanly has nearly 20 years of experience with the Recreation Division of the Department of Natural Resources , including as Assistant Director and Program Manager from 2010 to 2019, working under long-time Director Barry Welch.

She has worked over the last several years in dramatically expanding programming and services – including a new emphasis on adult programming.  She has helped coordinate the successful Senior Olympics for the last several years, so is familiar with the workings of the Kennedy Center, the senior facility she will now lead, Koch said.

“Michelle has the experience, talent, and passion to help people to make her a perfect fit for this department. The Kennedy Center is an extraordinary place, and I expect it to remain that way under Michelle’s leadership,” said Mayor Koch.

Hanly has a number of professional recognitions from regional and statewide organizations, and has won a number of national grants on behalf of the Recreation Division over the years.

Mayor Koch said he is working closely with Natural Resources Commissioner David Murphy to fill Hanly’s role, but added that he expects a transition period to take place over the next weeks.

RMV Reminds Residents They Will Need a REAL ID or Current Passport to Board a Plane Starting in May 2025 

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is reminding residents that beginning May 7, 2025, anyone traveling by plane domestically or entering certain federal building areas will need a Registry-issued REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or ID, or a valid passport. To help ensure compliance, a countdown clock is now live at Mass.Gov/RMV.

The Registry is encouraging everyone seeking a REAL ID compliant license or identification card to go online at Mass.Gov/ID to learn what documents are needed for a required in-person appointment.

“The countdown is on for REAL ID federal enforcement and the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, and its partner AAA Northeast, have successfully been issuing REAL ID credentials and are prepared for interested residents prior to the May 2025 deadline,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Colleen Ogilvie. “We want Massachusetts residents to know they can upgrade to the REAL ID driver’s license or identification card during their normal renewal process for the same cost as a renewal. For the customers who wish to do this, we highly recommend you schedule your appointment at least three weeks before your birthday so that you can receive your credential in the mail ahead of your expiration.”

The RMV has posted helpful information on REAL ID requirements that customers can use to prepare for their in-person visits, including convenient document checklists to help pre-stage REAL ID applications, at Mass.Gov/ID. Documents required for this transaction include two proofs of Massachusetts residency, proof of a full Social Security Number (SSN), and proof of lawful presence. Customers who have had a name change since the issuance of a birth certificate, passport or other document, will need to show the reason for the name change by presenting documentation like a marriage certificate, divorce decree or court document. These required documents must be original or certified versions. The RMV recommends customers gather these documents well in advance of appointments to ensure they have the information required by federal law.

Currently, Massachusetts is at 54 percent REAL ID adoption with almost 3 million credentials being REAL ID-compliant. Customers are eligible to renew up to one year in advance of the expiration date printed on their license or ID, and up to two years after the expiration date.

Prior to May 7, 2025, customers will not need a federally compliant REAL ID for the purposes of boarding domestic flights or entering certain federal buildings.

The fee for renewing a non-commercial standard or REAL ID driver’s license is $50. The fee for renewing a Mass ID is $25. The fee for upgrading to a standard or REAL ID card is $25. Customers with a less than five-year stay in the U.S. pay a pro-rated fee.

Appointments can be scheduled by RMV customers by visiting the RMV’s Online Service Center at Mass.Gov/RMV or if you are a AAA member at https://northeast.aaa.com/automotive/registry-services/massachusetts.html.

For additional information and details on these and other RMV service offerings, please visit www.mass.gov/rmv.

‘Rumble At The Rink’ Boxing Tournament Saturday At Quincy Youth Arena

(L-R) – (front) Russell Kimber, James Perkins, Anthony Andreozzi and Ryan Clark; (back) Ricky Ford, Bernard Joseph, Thomas O’Toole and Julien Baptiste
(picture courtesy of Granite Chin Promotions)

Granite Chin Promotions has finalized this Saturday night’s (May 11) “Rumble at the Rink” pro card, featuring an innovative “Granite Chin Box Off” tournament, plus a pair of competitive title fights and entertaining supporting bouts, at Quincy Youth Arena in Quincy.

All the action will be streamed live on www.bxngtv.com.

The one-night “Granite Chin Box Off” tournament will headline “Rumble at the Rink,” which will benefit Quincy Youth Hockey, as a quartet of tough, entertaining New England super middleweight fighters – Lynn’s (MA) James “Pitbull” Perkins (13-1-1, 9 KOs), Swansea’s (MA) Anthony “The Gentle Savage” Andreozzi (5-3, 2 KOs), Dorchester’s (MA) Bernard Joseph (7-1-1, 5 KOs), and Barrington’s (ME) Ryan Clark (4-5, 2 KOs) – who will  be matched (in a blind draw at the weigh in) in three-round bouts (4th round of sudden death if needed in case of a draw) early in the evening with the two winners advancing to the five-round main event (6th round of sudden death in the event of a draw) to determine the inaugural champion.

In the six-round, co-featured event, undefeated Irish boxer Thomas “The Kid” O’Toole (9-0, 6 KOs) takes on dangerous Russell Kimber (2-1, 1 KO), of Peabody (MA), for the vacant Massachusetts Light Heavyweight Championship. O’Toole, fighting out of Braintree (MA) by way of Galway (IRE), was a 2019 Irish National Champion. Kimber has fighting in his blood as the son and nephew of multiple world kickboxing champions.

United States Boxing Federation (USBF) Middleweight Champion Julien “Black Dragon” Baptiste (6-4, 3 KOs), fighting out of Woburn (MA), will defend his title against New Hampshire challenger Ricky Ford (5-1-2, 3 KOs) in a six-round bout that has the potential to be the Fight of the Night.

Promising welterweight prospect Joe Bush, a 2023 New England Golden Gloves Tournament from Marshfield (MA), faces North Carolina’s Tracey Coppedge (0-2) in a four-round clash that promises non-stop action from the opening bell until its conclusion.

Medford junior middleweight “Iron” Greg Bono (3-1-1, 2 KOs) will bring his throng of supporters, including many of his fellow union Ironworkers, for a throw-down with Tymar Miles (0-1) in a four-rounder.

Popular Scituate (MA) fighter Kevin “Big Gulp” Nagle (7-0, 7 KOs) puts his undefeated record on the line in his expected toughest test to date versus his Brazilian opponent, Marcelo “Queixada” Leonardo Da Silva (23-6, 18 KOs).

And gifted Jonathan de Pina (13-2, 6 KOs), of Dorchester (MA), will be showcased in a six-round match against veteran Tyrone “Hands of Stone” Luckey (16-23-4, 12 KOs). Pina captured a gold medal at the 2018 New England Golden Gloves Tournament.

Canadian super lightweight Thomas Blumenfeld, a 2019 Canadian National Champion, meets pro-debuting Igor Santos in a four-rounder.

Card subject to change.

Tickets are on sale to purchase at www.granite-chin-promotions.ticketleap.com.

Doors open at 6 p.m., first bout at 7 p.m.

Lunar New Year Holiday Clears First Vote

By SCOTT JACKSON

The Quincy City Council’s ordinance committee on Monday unanimously approved an ordinance that would designate Lunar New Year as a school holiday in the city and the full council could approve the item as soon as May 20.

Councillors Nina Liang, Scott Campbell, Noel DiBona, Richard Ash and Ian Cain had introduced an ordinance on April 22 that would have designated Lunar New Year as a legal holiday in the city. Based on guidance from City Solicitor Jim Timmins, Liang on Monday said councillors could not designate a new legal holiday under state law, and so she amended the ordinance so that it would require Quincy Public Schools be closed in observance of Lunar New Year while no longer declaring it a legal holiday.

“I just want to be really clear that this isn’t us legislating the entirety of the school calendar. That’s something that’s not within our purview,” Liang said. “We’re simply focusing on the recognition of one holiday, having schools closed for that day, and that is something we can do and are able to accomplish with this.”

A number of students, parents and other community members had lobbied the School Committee to close schools in recognition of Lunar New Year as the school board reviewed the calendars for both the current school year and the next school year that starts in September. The school board on April 10 voted 4-2 to approve a calendar for the 2024-25 school year that keeps schools open on Lunar New Year. Mayor Thomas Koch, the chairperson of the School Committee, and Courtney Perdios had voted against the calendar because it did not include a day off for Lunar New Year.

Liang on Monday said city councillors need to ensure the voices of the residents they represent are heard.

“Our responsibility here is to legislate, that’s our formal responsibility, but I’d argue that our informal responsibility which is the most important is to our constituents, to our residents who elected us to be here and in service to them representing them and making sure their voices are being heard,” she said.

“This ordinance does just that. It responds to an overwhelming number of requests from our constituents and making sure that their voices are in fact being heard.”

Campbell said it was long overdue for the school system to close in observance of Lunar New Year. Students who celebrate the holiday will no longer have to choose between being in school that day or being with their families, he said.

“We can take that out of the equation, and I think it’s important we move forward with this, and that’s why I supported it,” Campbell said.

Cain thanked Liang for leading the effort to create the new school holiday.

“As the East Asian community has become such a strong component of the fabric of the city of Quincy, this is a historic measure,” Cain said. “Thank you very much for bringing this to us.”

DiBona said 39.5 percent of the more than 10,000 students enrolled in the Quincy Public Schools are of Asian descent and more than half of the students at some schools – including North Quincy High School, Atlantic Middle School, and the Montclair, Wollaston, Parker and Beechwood Knoll elementary schools – are of Asian descent. DiBona added that he received more than 200 emails in support of the Lunar New Year holiday prior to Monday’s meeting.

“In my tenure of being an elected official, as a councillor and on the School Committee, I don’t know another issue that had more emails, more phone calls, or more correspondence from constituents,” he said.

Ward 6 Councillor William Harris said the measure was long overdue.

“I think that this, as was said, is long overdue. Thank you, Councillor Liang, you have 100 percent of my support,” Harris said.

After all nine city councillors voted to pass the ordinance out of committee, Liang extended her thanks to the residents who lead the letter-writing campaign in support of the holiday. She also extended thanks to her colleagues as well as Koch, Perdios and former School Committee member Frank Santoro for their support of making Lunar New Year a holiday.

“As someone born and raised in the city, I always knew I belonged here but now to have that validated by my colleagues, by this government in this city, by the mayor’s office and again by my colleagues, for you to all come together as a city to say, ‘you are actually accepted here, you belong here,’ just thank you,” said Liang, who was visibly choked up.

Following Monday’s meeting, Koch said he was in support of the council’s move to make Lunar New Year a school holiday.

“I think the City Council has every right to weigh in on this issue,” Koch said. “The City Council over the years has been very good to the schools, the school budgets and projects. They are speaking their wishes known and I think we as a School Committee should respond to that.”

Santoro, who was in attendance Monday, thanked the councillors for their vote.

“I would like to thank the City Council for being in touch with the Quincy community. I thank Courtney and the mayor for trying to prove this to the School Committee side,” Santoro said. “It’s been a fight for four years that I’ve been trying to get, because the majority of our kids deserve to celebrate with their families on this most important day and finally, the city is recognizing that this is a very important day to that community.”

Perdios said she was proud of the city councillors’ vote.

“I’m really proud of the City Council and Councillor Liang for bringing this forward and being supportive of such an important subset of our community that asked to be recognized, deserved to be recognized. I’m proud that they stood up and took a stand for it as the mayor, myself, Frank Santoro all did,” Perdios said.

“I have some questions now about how it all gets put into process. I’m not sure if we have to vote it in on School Committee too, but hopefully with the unanimous vote they just took, hopefully it will pass, and we can do this for our Asian American students and families.”

School Committee member Kathryn Hubley was also present for Monday’s City Council meeting, which also included the presentation of the budget for the new fiscal year. Hubley declined to comment following the vote on the ordinance, saying she did not see the full committee meeting.

Call for Walkers: Register for the 36th Annual Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk

Registration is now open for the 2024 Boston Marathon® Jimmy Fund Walk presented by Hyundai. Scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 6, funds raised from the Jimmy Fund Walk support all forms of adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at the nation’s premier cancer center, Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteDue to ongoing construction in Copley Square, the Jimmy Fund Walk Finish Line location has been moved to the Boston Common for 2024.

One Walk, Four Distances, For All Cancers

The Jimmy Fund Walk is the only organized walk permitted on the famed Boston Marathon® course, and participants have the flexibility to choose from four distance options:

  • 5K Walk (from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Longwood Medical Campus)
  • 10K Walk (from Newton)
  • Half Marathon Walk (from Wellesley)
  • Marathon Walk (from Hopkinton)

Whatever route walkers choose, participants will be treated to  refueling stations with refreshments throughout the course. Poster-sized photographs of patients – Jimmy Fund Walk Heroes – are displayed along the course as inspiration. Walkers can participate virtually, as well.

All routes will conclude at the Jimmy Fund Walk Finish Line Powered by Schneider Electric at Boston Common, by the corner of Charles and Beacon Street. The finish line will include a celebration with food, entertainment, and more. Public transportation is encouraged.

The Jimmy Fund Walk has raised more than $176 million for Dana-Farber in its 35-year history, raising a record-breaking $9.4 million in 2023. Funds raised from the Jimmy Fund Walk support all forms of adult and pediatric patient care and cancer research at the nation’s premier cancer center, Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteThe Boston Athletic Association has supported the Jimmy Fund Walk since 1989, and Hyundai has been the presenting sponsor for more than 20 years.

Register as an individual walker, team member, or start a team! Take advantage of this unique opportunity and lead a group of your family, friends, or colleagues to the finish line. The Jimmy Fund can help you start a team, grow your fundraising, and defy cancer, together.

Volunteers are needed to cheer on participants, serve snacks, distribute T-shirts, and more, at the four start locations, along the course, and at the 2024 Jimmy Fund Walk Finish Line Powered by Schneider Electric, located in the Boston Common. The Jimmy Fund Walk would not be possible without the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who donate their time, talent, and energy.  Register to volunteer today!

To register for the Walk (#JimmyFundWalk) or to support a walker, visit www.JimmyFundWalk.org or call (866) 531-9255. Registrants can enter the promo code NEWS for $5 off the registration fee. All registered walkers will receive a bib, medal, and a Jimmy Fund Walk T-shirt.

Councillors Seek To Make Lunar New Year A Holiday

By SCOTT JACKSON

An ordinance cosponsored by five city councillors would make Lunar New Year a legal holiday in the city of Quincy.

Councillors Nina Liang, Scott Campbell, Noel DiBona, Richard Ash and Ian Cain on Monday introduced an ordinance to establish the day as a legal holiday. The order was referred to the council’s ordinance committee for review. The committee is slated to take up the matter on May 6.

The ordinance says that, according to the 2020 federal census, 30.8 percent of Quincy’s population is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI), the second highest AAPI population in the state. AAPI students also comprise 39.3 percent of Quincy Public Schools students, the largest demographic in the school district.

The ordinance states that “Lunar New Year is observed not only by those in the AAPI community, but also simply by anyone who chooses to celebrate it” and “municipalities across the country, and specifically ones in Massachusetts who have a fraction of the AAPI population as Quincy, have chosen to recognize that Lunar New Year is a holiday for their community at large.”

“Observing Lunar New Year, like any other holiday, prioritizes the coming together of family and loved ones in the days leading up to, during, and following that holiday… [and] the formal recognition of holidays by governance as a ‘legal holiday’ directly impacts the time and sentiment given to that holiday,” the ordinance says.

To that end, the ordinance would recognize Lunar New Year as a legal holiday in the city, “thereby honoring the day with the closure of municipal agencies, authorities, quasi-public entities, and other offices under the jurisdiction of the municipality when said day occurs on a weekday, the Friday before when it occurs on a Saturday, and the Monday following when it occurs on a Sunday.”

Liang on Monday thanked her colleagues for co-sponsoring the measure with her. Liang added that there are some “technical difficulties” related to the ordinance that can be worked out in committee.

“I don’t think any of them are insurmountable,” she said. “I’m excited to put this into ordinance committee so we can have a much larger, more robust conversation about those technical difficulties and hopefully we can move forward.”

The ordinance to make Lunar New Year a legal holiday was introduced less than two weeks after the School Committee, in a 4-2 vote, approved a calendar for the 2024-25 academic year that keeps schools open on Lunar New Year in 2025. Mayor Thomas Koch, the chairperson of the School Committee, and Courtney Perdios voted against the calendar because it did not include a day off for Lunar New Year. While Koch said he supports making the day a school holiday, the mayor previously told his colleagues on the school board he had concerns about making it a holiday on the city side.