Westborough – Shoppers flocked to the Westborough Senior Center Nov. 15 for the center’s annual Holiday Fair. The fair, organized by the Westborough Senior Center Supporters, featured handmade crafts, fresh-baked treats, jewelry tables and raffles.
Shrewsbury – When Rich and Dawn Cavanaugh drove to St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton Aug. 1, 2003, to welcome their fourth child, they did so full of hopes and dreams for the baby they would soon welcome into their family.
“I had expected to come home with our brand new, sweet little girl after two days, but Lydia did not come home with me,” Dawn recalled. “It broke my heart to leave her there. At one week old she was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia and was transferred to [Boston] Children’s Hospital.”
Biliary Atresia (BA) is rare disease, affecting about one out of every 18,000 infants. With it, bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder is blocked. This causes the bile to be trapped inside the liver, quickly causing damage and scarring of the liver cells (cirrhosis) and finally liver failure.
At Children’s Hospital, Dr. Heung-Bae Kim, director of the Pediatric Transplant Center, performed a Kasai procedure in which he removed Lydia’s damaged bile ducts and brought up a loop of intestine to replace them – allowing the bile to flow straight to the small intestine. Without the surgery Lydia would not likely have seen her third birthday.
Lydia returned home at five weeks old to join brothers, Christopher and Joshua, and sister, Katherine.
Lydia is currently a sixth-grader at Sherwood Middle School. She loves to play Minecraft, make bead jewelry and friendship bracelets, and work on knitting looms – much like any typical 11-year-old girl. Aside from a strict regimen of twice daily pills and supplements, Lydia has no restrictions due to BA.
For Dawn, mothering a child with BA has its challenges and sleepless nights.
“It is very scary. I’m always on the watch for fever, lethargy, crankiness, jaundice and any complaining about stomach pain on the right side,” Dawn said. “I’m always asking her how she feels, feeling her forehead, looking into her eyes for any sign of yellowing.”
Over the years Lydia has had a number of liver infections and, more recently, developed complications associated with liver disease which further deteriorated her liver and her health. Due to increased liver infections, Dr. Kim recommended that she be considered for a liver transplant. On Sept. 26 Lydia’s name was added to the transplant list due to pediatric end-stage liver disease – and the waiting game began.
“Lydia is scared and says she’s not ready. She jumps every time she hears my phone ring and I do, too,” Dawn said. “She’s happy that she’s on the list because she knows that it is the only chance she has to live a close-to-normal life. I’m just thankful that her liver worked for her this long.”
For now, Lydia waits and hopes for a liver to become available.
According to U.S. government’s information on organ and tissue donation and transplantation, Lydia is one of 123,944 people in the Unites States waiting for an organ. Every hour 10 people are listed for transplant, 240 on a daily basis. Last year more than 28,000 lives were saved as a result of organ donation. Unfortunately though, 18-21 people die every day waiting.
To learn more about organ donation, visit donatelifenewengland.org or organdonor.gov.]]>
Northborough/Southborough – Algonquin Regional High School held its 40th reunion Nov. 8 at the Courtyard Marriott in Marlborough. Fifty-six classmates attended.
Marlborough – A report conducted by an outside consultant has found “internal conflicts and cultural attitudes, many of which are self-imposed,” throughout the Marlborough Fire Department.
That strife has “seriously affected [the department’s] standing in the community and in the region,” according to consultants, Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI).
The report was conducted at the behest of Mayor Arthur Vigeant after yet another fire chief, James Fortin, announced that he was stepping down from the position. Fortin, who was named chief in May 2012, announced earlier this year that he was resigning at the end of 2014. He is the fourth chief since 2005 to do so.
“As part of their report, MRI met with stakeholders throughout the city: department leadership, rank and file firefighters, union leadership, City Department heads, neighboring fire departments, and members of the City Council,” Vigeant stated in his report to the City Council at the council’s Nov. 17 meeting. The report also included a thorough review of the department’s policies and procedures, programs, training and employee relations.
The report emphasized that the department needs consistent leadership, procedures and rules to stop an ongoing lack of discipline. Policies to support the chief, along with an updated organizational structure, which must correct obsolete code deficiency at Fire Station 2. and eliminate both service gaps and response time in the west end of the city, was also needed.
MRI stated that a formal training program, a performance improvement system, and correction of an inadequate fire prevention program are essential to improving the department. The fire chief has been “an island with absolutely no support staff or team” which is severely hampering his ability to lead and manage the department, the consultants said.
The report cited the line between management rights and union authority which has become blurred over the years, leading to a system where “the fire chief must consult or negotiate with the collective bargaining unit before making organizational changes.”
On a positive note, the report emphasized that the local unit has the potential to resolve its problems and create a leading fire department. The MRI study team wrote that “the Marlborough Fire Department has the skills and capabilities to become an effective, highly trained and motivated organization that meets or exceeds nationally recognized standards for operational readiness.” But that would not happen, MRI noted, without “an infusion of strong leadership at the top and changes in attitude and loyalty by members of the department.”
The mayor’s decision to have an independent study of the fire department occurred after Fortin announced plans to retire last January, according to Ward I City Councilor Joseph Delano, in comments made after the council meeting.
“Something needs to change in the fire department. We have one fire chief after another being pushed out,” said Delano. “Losing good men like Jim Fortin can’t continue to happen. We need to make some reasonable system changes so that the chief is not all alone at the top. He needs to have senior managers who are outside of the union along with him or her.”
“We also need to have some reasonable scheduling so we don’t have too many firefighters off duty at the same time which has been causing overtime costs to go up year after year,” he added.
“The mayor’s office is moving forward with the hiring of an interim chief,” Fortin said in a statement. “I will assist the mayor in developing procedures to make the transition a smooth one for the incoming leader of the department and work with the individual until my departure.”
The Council referred the lengthy MRI report document to the Operations and Overview Committee for study. Delano, the committee’s chair, said the committee would meet soon and be prepared to report back to the full council at its Dec. 15 meeting.
The walk leader will be Alicia Coleman, SVT Regional Conservation Coordinator, MassLIFT AmeriCorps member. The walk is free, but registration is requested. Call 978-443-5588 or visit www.sudburyvalleytrustees.org to register or for more information.
Shrewsbury – The Shrewsbury Education Foundation (SEF) will be hosting a special night of shopping Tuesday, Dec. 2, at The Treasure Chest Company, 269 W. Main St., Northborough, from 7-9 p.m. SEF will receive 20 percent of the proceeds from the evening. The event will be also feature wine, nibbles and makeovers.
Those that cannot make the evening can still participate by shopping at Treasure Chest until Sunday, Dec.7. Simply mention “SEF” when checking out.
SEF held another fundraiser Nov. 14 at the Knights of Columbus hall in Shrewsbury. Twenty-six teams of four members each participated in the event which was emceed by WCRN’s Hank Stolz. Brenda Buckley worked with Stolz to create the categories and questions. SEF officials thanked Maribeth Lynch, owner of Thrive Realty, as a team sponsor, Stop ‘n’ Shop and Price Chopper for donating the snacks, and brothers Kyle and Alden Vedder who provided pizzas.
Westborough – As the new district fine arts director for kindergarten through 12th grade in the Westborough Public Schools, Christopher Martin appreciated participating with students and faculty in the sixth annual Arts in Common this past fall.
“Being new here, I got to see the cultural scene in Westborough right off the bat in September,” he said. “When I saw this community-wide arts festival, it further solidified my knowing that this is the right place for me to be. It was great meeting the Westborough Cultural Council and all the different community arts groups.”
Martin developed an interest in the arts through school programs while growing up in Lindenhurst, N.Y. He began in fourth grade by learning to play the trumpet and later the euphonium, as well as singing in choruses. In high school, he became more involved in extracurricular activities including show choir, theatrical productions, and jazz and marching bands.
“I got a wide variety of experience in all avenues in high school,” he recalled. “It lit the spark in me when I saw the community that the arts created and finding a circle of friends there.”
Also in high school, he was inspired by his band and choral directors. He credits them for fostering his interest in pursuing a career in music education.
Martin earned a master’s degree in music education, and a bachelor’s degree in music education and vocal performance at Ithaca College.
“What I gained from my time at Ithaca was developing my own philosophy of what I want a fine arts program to be,” he said. “It’s an all-inclusive program with lots of opportunities for kids. There are so many diverse experiences in the fine arts department that there’s something for everybody.”
In Westborough, he oversees drama, music and visual arts within the curriculum, and dance as an extracurricular activity.
Martin taught in Norwood from 2005 through last school year. He instructed chorus in grades six through eight, and voice and theater in grades nine through 12.
“I really enjoyed working with the kids and seeing them have those ‘aha’ moments as they’re growing,” he said. “Still, my greatest satisfaction comes from the students’ accomplishments.”
From 2008 through 2013, Martin worked on the staff of the vocal apprenticeship program at the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston. To complement its ensemble, he built a sight reading and music theory curriculum for students in grades three through 12.
“In Norwood, all of my curriculum was performance based, so it was a nice balance to add the theory aspect of music at the Handel & Haydn Society,” he noted. “Also, it let me work with elementary school kids, so it provided me experience with more breadth of age groups.”
Martin has been an executive board member of the Massachusetts Music Educators Association (MMEA) for four years and is currently serving as its concert chair. In that role, he’s organizing over 450 students for concerts to be presented at Symphony Hall in March at the conclusion of the MMEA All-State Conference. He previously served as MMEA concert manager.
Additionally, he’s in his second year as artistic director of the Neponset Choral Society based in Foxborough, which rehearses two evenings weekly and produces two concerts annually.
To prepare for the transition from teaching to administration, Martin had recently completed the administrative licensure program at Boston University. He’s grateful that his current position became available.
“Fine arts directorships aren’t that common in Massachusetts,” he noted. “Being connected to the music community, I always knew that Westborough has a strong fine arts program. I wanted to be a part of it.”