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The Gateway Cities Journal
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News and information for leaders who care about Gateway Cities
 
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Advocating for the Gateway Cities Vision for Education

  

MassINC's new education poll shows that Massachusetts voters are eager to see innovation in our public schools. Voter support for a fresh approach is rooted in the widely held belief that education is key to growing the state's economy. Gateway City voters are particularly hungry for bold action from policymakers -- two-thirds of voters with children in our communities think the time has come to "radically restructure" public education for today's economy.

 

For the last two years, Gateway City mayors and education leaders have been working together to develop a vision for a more effective public education system. With help from MassINC, we unveiled a blueprint last year and over the past few months we have held meetings with civic leaders in Gateway Cities across the state to share these ideas.

 

Poll results show that support for the learning models central to this vision are overwhelmingly popular with voters, especially those who reside in Gateway Cities.

 

For example, one key aspect of the vision is developing stronger college and career pathways -- 76 percent of Gateway City parents think career development programs are "very important" vs. 57 percent of voters in other Massachusetts communities.

 

Another approach at the core of the vision is helping students build the nonacademic social and emotional competencies critical to lifelong success -- 72 percent of Gateway City parents think programs to develop self-esteem, teamwork, and character are "very important" vs. 60 percent of voters in other Massachusetts communities.

 

A third pillar of the vision is extending learning time to provide students with a rich set of opportunities to develop the more advanced skills today's employers demand -- a solid majority of voters (60 percent) inside and outside of Gateway Cities embrace this change.

 

MassINC's poll shows that by large margins voters want school leaders to drive innovation. The Gateway Cities Vision is woven around models pioneered by educators in our communities. As a new administration takes office and a new legislative session unfolds, Gateway City leaders must seize the opportunity to forcefully advocate for state policies that will position our educators to bring their effective new learning models to scale.

 

-- Lisa Wong

   Mayor of Fitchburg

  

  

Housing & Economic Development

 

A recently released periodic survey of the statewide economy by MassBenchmarks found that growth in the innovation economy continues to be largely concentrated in the metro Boston region and the benefits of this growth have yet to be felt in Gateway Cities.

 

The Herald News reports that a new program in Fall River called "Buyfallrivernow" could give qualified first-time home buyers up to 6 percent or $10,000 toward their down payment. The money is coming through a federal grant to Fall River's Community Development agency.

 

Two executives from WinnCompanies hail the passage of Gateway Cities economic development legislation.

 

Education

 

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester visits schools in Haverhill to learn how they moved up so dramatically in MCAS scoring, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

 

Transportation

 

A new advisory committee is being formed to assist the Westfield Planning Board in  addressing issues that impact bicycle and pedestrian traffic throughout the city, MassLive reports.

 

Mid-size cruise ships are starting to pull into the dock at Salem's former coal plant, the Salem News reports.

 

Creative Placemaking

 

Holyoke City Hall will display a mural created by a local artist, David Flores. The piece is a nod to Puerto Rico and Holyoke's intertwined cultures, as "45% of Holyoke residents claim Puerto Rican heritage", MassLive reports.

 

Kurt Vonnegut fans will be able to get their fill of discussion about his unique voice as the Sturgis Library in Barnstable hosts a three-day series of events this weekend honoring the writer, who landed on the Cape in the 1950s and raised his family there.

 

Energy/Environment

 

According to South Coast Today, New Bedford's Crapo Hill Landfill is beginning to utilize an anaerobic digester which uses microorganisms to break down biodegradable material, creating biogas, which can be burned to generate more electricity.

 

In collaboration with the US Forest Service and the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, the MA Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs has made significant progress on "Greening the Gateway Cities" after designating $5 million to plant trees in Holyoke, Chelsea, and Fall River between April 2014 and December 2015.

 

Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas sent an ordinance to the city council that, if approved, would allow people to use Manchester Reservoir land for passive recreation. Currently, "the only people who can use the property legally are those licensed to fish" while "all others can be arrested for trespassing".

 

Fitchburg City Councilors gave the green light to a $1.17 million deal to convert all of the public streetlights to LED. The installation will occur at the beginning of 2015, and is expected to save energy and save the city $10,000 yearly, according to the Sentinel & Enterprise.

 

The owners of the proposed Footprint power plant in Salem say the facility is likely to open a year later than planned in part because of a lawsuit by four individuals challenging the plant's use of natural gas, the Salem News reports.

 

The EPA begins a $2 million, three-month cleanup of a former paper mill on the Merrimack  River in Lawrence, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

 

Governance/Elections

 

Holyoke's City Council is proposing eliminating term limits on the November

 

The Fall River City Council set December 16 as the date for the recall election for Mayor Will Flanagan but opted to let a court decide whether or not his name can appear on the ballot.

 

Casinos


 
Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash discuss the casino proposed in neighboring Everett with WBUR's Sacha Pfeiffer.

 

Health/Public Safety

 

After a hit-and-run accident last week claimed the life of Carl Yancey, a 31-year-old Brockton resident, Mayor Bill Carpenter has begun taking steps to fast-track pedestrian and bicycling safety upgrades on Belmont Street where the accident took place.

 

Officials at Brockton hospitals had to refute a report of an Ebola case at one of the city's medical facilities after a social media rumor spread went viral.

 

MassLive reports that the task of removing tornado-damaged trees from private property began on Tuesday in Springfield. The city set aside $100,000 following the tornado that hit Springfield at the beginning of June 2011.

 

The Lynn Fire Department's free smoke alarm installation campaign has helped nearly 1,700 families update their smoke alarms. The program, funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, paid for about 5,000 smoke alarms installed in homes across the city.

 

New Bedford has launched a program called Health Access Kids aimed at educating children and their parents about the importance of health insurance and making sure that parents have access to information about enrollment.

 

Federal immigration officials have been meeting with immigrants and advocates in the New Bedford area to build trust after reports of a rise in crimes against immigrants who are reluctant to report the incidents to authorities.

 


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For a full list of Massachusetts Gateway Cities, click here. The Gateway Cities Journal is a weekly news publication of MassINC. If you would like to unsubscribe to The Journal but would still like to hear from MassINC, please let us know. If you are not yet on our list and would like to sign up, click here. To contribute news or comments, please email MassINC.

  

 

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