The Alzheimer’s Association is asking the public to help fight Alzheimer’s disease during June’s month long Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.The month, which features multiple events and awareness campaigns, is designed to help bring the sixth leading cause of death in the United States into the spotlight. Nationwide, over five million people are afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Throughout the month of June, the Alzheimer’s Association of Massachusetts and New Hampshire will host events and run campaigns to help raise funds and awareness of this disease which has stricken over one hundred twenty two thousand people in both states. There are multiple events, including The Longest Day on June 21st, which encourages individuals and groups to spend the summer solstice (the longest day of the year) doing activities from sunrise to sunset. We’ve linked to our recent interview regarding the event. For information on the events and campaigns throughout Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month visit a l z mass dot org slash A B A M.
The Manchester School District is refusing to release the tentative agreement reached with the Manchester Education Association. Girard at Large requested a copy of the public document from Andrea Alley, the district’s Communications Coordinator. In reply to our request, we received an email from Ward Ten Committeeman and Negotiations Committee Chairman John Avard on Friday that said quote “The negotiation committees of the MEA and the BOSC have agreed that the document is not to be released until it has completed the early stages of ratification.” Avard has yet to reply to our request to know what constitutes the early stages of ratification. However, in a Facebook post, Avard said the contract would be on the school board’s next agenda if ratified by the teachers’ union this week.
While that is a step in the right direction and a complete reversal from his previous position that the contract would not be released until after voted on by the school board, it is not a lawful position, at least not in the opinion of former Right to Know Commissioner Harriet Cady who has advised us that once the tentative agreement is signed by both sides and disseminated, which has happened, it is a public document. A plain reading of the statute would seem to back Cady’s position as there is no provision for the government to maintain secrecy pending a union’s approval of a contract. The statute is clear that negotiations are exempt, but with the signing of the tentative agreement and the dissemination of the document, the negotiations are over and that is a public document.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Well, we warned this was going to happen and it has. Organizers of the Derryfest in Derry have canceled the annual tradition this year. According to news reports, they blamed budget cuts to the Department of Parks and Recreation, saying they were just too deep for the department to support their efforts. After catching that little gem, we made some inquiries and discovered that there are separate budgets for parks and for recreation and also discovered that the Recreation Department is the entity of government that supported Derryfest. From their nearly six hundred thousand dollar budget, the town council cut a grand total of twenty five hundred dollars. By the way, the Recreation Department is within the Department of Public Works, which has a budget of more than eight point six million dollars.
This announcement has, of course, further split the town. Derry Residents United and the Derry Professional Firefighters Union are using it to fan the flames of discontent and used it to encourage Derry residents to sign a petition being circulated to reverse the budget cuts. Organizers say they collected more than four hundred signatures during their petition drive on Sunday at the Upper Village Hall. They’ve announced a second petition drive for this Wednesday, beginning at five P M, again at the Upper Village Hall. The cat calls on their Facebook pages over this announcement and the firefighters’ urgent calls to support the petition drives are, well, rather interesting to read.
Supporters of the cuts couldn’t help but note that Derryfest made their announcement just in time to have it be an issue that could be used to spur the petition drive and note that Derryfest has a long established practice of charging vendors for their participation and enlisting sponsors to financially support the effort. Critics of the announcement couldn’t resist pointing that, for years, Derryfest has claimed to be free of any taxpayer funding, but now they’re saying town budget cuts are killing their annual festival, which has operated for the past twenty six years. They also wonder why the organizers seem unwilling to raise the needed funds to continue Derryfest, which isn’t until September or why the Public Works Department can’t find the money in their larger budget.
It would appear the politics of spite are alive and well in the town of Derry.
Manchester schools have received one hundred ten musical instruments worth more than twenty five thousand dollars to enhance music education in the district. They are the gift of Music Drives Us and Manchester Subaru, which joined forces to provide the donation. Music Drives Us has made similar contributions to music programs in schools all over New England, but this one for Manchester is the organization’s largest single donation to date. Manchester music teachers came up with a wish list of instruments, which they will share and distribute to music students in grades four through twelve. To showcase some of their talent, bands and orchestras from Weston, Parkside and Memorial performed several pieces with the new instruments. We’ve linked to the district’s release which we’ve published in full on Girard at Large dot com.
That’s news in our own backyard, Girard at Large hour __ is next.