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Watertown senior center will host open house

in People/Place 334 views

Organizers will be showing off a place in the Marcy Building on Thursday where seniors can gather and participate in all kinds of activities.

They will be hosting an open house from noon to 3 p.m. in the second-floor space where the new senior center will be housed in the Marcy Building, 245 State St.

Neighbors of Watertown Inc. will provide free space for one year for the senior center.

Volunteers have been working on getting the senior center open for more than a year in Watertown.

Deb Doyle, vice president of the senior center committee, joined the efforts after retiring from Jefferson County and seeing a need for a place to go for seniors.

“It’s been baby steps, but we have a lot more to do,” she said.

The senior center consists of a kitchen, video room and a larger room where many of the activities will be held. Some office furniture has been donated, but the group is seeking “a wish list” of items, she said.

“We need everything,” she said.

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In 30 Years East Palo Alto Went From ‘Murder Capital’ to Zero Homicides in 2023: A Complete Turnaround

in People/Place 78 views

When an American uses the phrase “murder capital” to describe a city, it tends to be cities with periods of very sad history like Chicago or Los Angeles, but I’ll bet you’ve never heard anyone say East Palo Alto in that sentence.

In 1992 the murder rate in East Palo Alto was the highest in the country, but today, 31 years later, the rate has fallen significantly.

How significantly? Try 100%.

Now called the safest city on the peninsula, East Palo Alto is located on the San Francisco Peninsula in San Mateo County between Palo Alto and the big tech centers of the nation.

In 1992 there were 42 homicides out of a population of just 24,000 people. The majority-black city suffered as black neighborhoods did all across the country from the crack cocaine epidemic, but after initial action to increase the police presence, an all-hands-on-deck approach from local nonprofits, faith-based groups, neighborhood watch organizations, and what few business leaders there were eventually saw the number plummet down to single digits even while drug sales continued to flourish.

One innovative tactic was from a neighborhood watch-type organization called “Just Us” that would frequent street corners and copy the license plates of any car that came to buy drugs. The police would then find the owner of the car, and simply write them a strongly worded letter letting them know that their car was recorded in a high-crime, high-drug use area.

Once of these letters, the LA Times reports, arrived at the desk of a city judge, whose son as it turns out was using the judge’s car to buy crack.

“East Palo Alto has always been a resilient community. People there are really concerned and care about the community where they live,” Sharifa Wilson, the city mayor during these troubled years, told the Times.

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Church offers community meals as part of city’s Code Blue Team

in Food 472 views

This week, Thanksgiving will come and then it will go, just like it does every year. But for people in the city, it doesn’t mean that the opportunity to give, to talk with their neighbors and to have warm meals, is gone.

Emmanuel Congressional Church, 119 S. Hamilton St., is hosting free community meals Monday to Friday, from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., all winter long.

The church is part of the city’s Code Blue Team, a group of organizations that come together each year when the temperature drops below 32 degrees, to provide shelter and food for anyone in need.

Some of the other big players this year are the Salvation army, Urban Mission and the Jefferson County Department of Social Services.

Their goal is to make sure that homeless people are provided with shelter all day, seven days a week, throughout the winter.

The plan is coming together. Cher VanBrocklin, executive director of the Urban Mission, said it is in the process of hiring weekend staff and will soon provide daytime shelter seven days a week. It is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and it plans to open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the weekend.

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When Builders in Maui Came Together to Help Build Tiny Homes for Man’s Family, it Grew into Growdfunded Rehousing Project

in Housing/People 434 views

Buried under the 24-hour news cycles of the last few months, recovery in Lahaina is progressing, one tiny house at a time.

William Fincher, an owner of two restaurants in the historic Maui town which tragically burned down this August, is receiving help from neighbors and friends to build a pair of tiny homes for his family of a wife, two kids, and two dogs.

Fincher lost both restaurants and his home in the fires, but within three or four days, local builder Juan Ricci was ordering materials to help the Fincher family construct the tiny houses. He did it all from his own pocket until the build team, including Fincher, Ricci, and some more friends had to set up a GoFundMe to look for the money.

Javier Barberi, a close friend, told Good Morning America in no uncertain terms that Fincher was Lahaina through and through, and he simply had to stay in order to help rebuild and recover the spirit of the town. Barberi gave Fincher space on his land to build.

With Barberi’s help and Ricci’s instruction, the tiny homes started coming together. Fincher knew a bit about woodshop, but laying insulation, framing doors, and roofing, were all skills he didn’t have. Ricci and his workers provided free labor and instruction.

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Community comes together to help citizens receive water

in Local News 470 views

Fort Drum has mobilized water efforts and has clean, safe, drinking water set up at each of the water distribution sites in the city.

Myah C. Gilbert, whose rank at Fort Drum is Chief 1 Officer 2, and who serves as the petroleum and water systems technician, said the military base will be providing the city with two vehicles that will carry 2,000 gallons’ worth of water at each of the water distribution sites in Watertown.

The sites include Watertown High School, the Fairgrounds, and at the corner of State Street and Eastern Boulevard.

Gilbert said the vehicle they use can be used as either a storage system, or for situations like this.

Once the vehicles get to a certain capacity, they will have a system where water will be rotated through.

“There will not be a time where there’s no water here,” she said.

Fort Drum also has a tactical water purification system, or TWPS, that is on standby and could be used if needed.

The TWPS system would purify the water instantly, and then either put it into a civilian tank or a military tank and push it out to places that currently have tanks.

The water on the tanks coming from Fort Drum is from the military base.

The vehicles will also be staying at the sites with a guard.

Gilbert said she first heard about the situation Thursday morning, but got a call around 12:30 p.m. to learn there was going to be a meeting at 1 p.m. to address the situation and set a game plan.

They got together at 3 p.m., got the plan, and told the units what they would be doing.

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Tiny Alabama Town Shocked to Learn Farmer had Secretly Paid People’s Pharmacy Bills for a Decade

in People 237 views

Upon the occasion of the funeral for one Hody Childress from Geraldine, Alabama, it was revealed that for a decade this quiet and humble gentleman was a sort of guardian angel for the town’s poor and sick.

A farmer and U.S. Air Force veteran, Childress began his covert charity campaign when he visited the local Geraldine drugstore and learned that all too many of the town’s 900 residents couldn’t afford to pay for their prescriptions.

Life up until that point had been difficult from a health standpoint. Childress lost a son in 1973, and his first wife in 1999—whom he used to carry into the stands for local football games due to her multiple sclerosis.

Upon hearing of his neighbors’ inability to always afford their medications, he handed Brooke Walker, owner of Geraldine Drugs, a $100 bill.

“Here, this $100 is for anyone who can’t afford their prescription,” Walker recalled in an interview with local news. “Do not tell a soul that the money came from me, tell them it’s a blessing from God.”

A month later, Walker saw Childress again walking into her store to hand over another $100 bill, with the exact same instructions—’do not tell a soul that the money came from me, tell them it’s a blessing from God.’

He would return on the 1st of every month for the same motivation for years, until in late 2022, because he wasn’t able to walk due a pulmonary disease and other health conditions, he decided he needed to enlist someone for help. He entrusted the task to his daughter, Tania Nix.

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Residents voice concerns about duplexes in Watertown’s zoning changes

in Local News/People 248 views

Thompson Boulevard resident Deborah A. Cavallario doesn’t want the city’s new zoning laws to allow duplexes in her neighborhood.

On Thursday afternoon, she tried to convince the Watertown Planning Board to eliminate that provision in the city’s zoning rewrite.

“This is where we made our home,” she said. “This is where we raised our kids. We’ve spent a lot of money on our home. We don’t want that destroyed in any way or shape or form.”

She was among six city residents who spoke at the planning board meeting in opposition of allowing duplexes and two-family dwellings in what is now zoned Residential A.

The city is combining Residential A, B and C zones into one district that would allow one- and two-family homes throughout the city.

In his 60 years of living in Watertown, Bruce R. Irwin has seen homes in neighborhoods throughout the city become run down. He doesn’t want to see the zoning change cause more homes to do that, he said.

“There’s not a lot of nice single-family homes,” he said. “I really think we need to consider it more.”

Thursday’s special meeting was held so board members and the public could share their impressions of the city’s first zoning rewrite since 1959.

After asking questions about such changes in maximum vs. minimum parking, bank drive-up windows and manufactured homes, the planning board opened up the discussion for the public.

For the next hour, they mostly heard about residents’ concerns about the duplex provision.

“I’m not sure we’re very interested in that possibility,” said Thompson Boulevard resident Bill Kimball.

Echoing the concerns about duplexes, former City Councilman Leonard G. Spaziani also wasn’t keen on the idea about plans to cut down the size of parking lots in the city.

“I’m a crotchety old man who likes to drive his old pickup truck,” he said, urging the planning board to slow down approving the new zoning laws.

“Too fast, too soon,” he said.

Ten years ago, Mrs. Cavallario headed opposition of allowing homeowners to rent their homes to boarders. The so-called roommate law caused an uproar.

In explaining her views on Thursday, she said she wants to preserve neighborhoods.

But planning board members and city planning staff said they consider the changes as looking to the city’s future.

Michael A. Lumbis, the city’s planning and community development director, said he assumed the opposition was prompted by concerns that single-family homes would become rental properties.

He also said the city has been working on the city’s blueprint for the future for two years, holding open houses to explain the plan to the public, discussing it with City Council and publicizing it in local media.

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