Long before Salem, Dorchester executed its own 'witch'

Every year around this time, the town of Salem, MA observes a rather macabre part of their local history as they mark the executions of 14 women and five men, all accused witches, that occurred there over several days in 1692.

But decades before Salem began its bloody purge, Dorchester was the site of an apparent "witch" execution.

In 1648, eighteen years after Dorchester's first English settlers arrived, Alice Lake was arrested right here in Dorchester for witchcraft and, according to historical documents recently uncovered by a distant relative, was executed.  Read more

DotBike spawns imitators in city neighborhoods; Neighborhood-based groups recall bicycling heyday

Bicycling groups aren't yet endorsing candidates for public office, holding back-room meetings at City Hall or clogging the roads with bicycles, but for the first time in decades, the neighborhood-based bike group seems to be back.

DotBike, a small group of dedicated bike commuters, formed during the city's bike summit a year ago, now others are following suit.

In May, Allston-Brighton Bikes took shape. Last week, RozzieBike and JPBike held their first meetings. It's got all the makings of a trend.  Read more

Reports: Mass. insured still struggle with costs

Associated Press
Oct. 29, 2008

While more Massachusetts residents are insured now, many still struggle to keep up with health care costs, according to two new reports released Thursday.

A poll by The Boston Globe and the Blue Cross Blue Shield found that 97 percent of adults in Massachusetts have health insurance, but even with coverage many have trouble paying health care bills. One-third of those polled said the cost of care remains their biggest health concern.  Read more

Sticker race continues as Wilkerson stands accused; 'Racially divisive' election seen ahead

Gintautas Dumcius and Pete Stidman
Oct. 29, 2008

As elected officials and voters were lining up on either side of a sticker-campaign showdown between state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson and Democratic nominee Sonia Chang-Diaz in the final days of the campaign, a game-changer exploded on Tuesday morning when the incumbent was arrested and charged with federal corruption and wire fraud.  Read more

First-time voters seen energized

She would rather vote for Tina Fey than for Sarah Palin, said Erin O'Connell, a UMass-Boston student and first time voter. But she is excited to be able to cast her ballot in the "most historical" election in her lifetime.

O'Connell is among many youth who are registering in record numbers to vote in an election that she says will affect everyone, especially the youth. At UMass-Boston, 1,300 voters have been registered through a drive led by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group.  Read more

ACORN offices in Fields Corner ransacked; $5,000 reward offered for information on last week's break-in

ACORN Massachusetts' head organizer Noemi "Mimi" Ramos arrived at her office the morning after last week's presidential debate to find the front door unlocked, three desktop computers missing, Internet and phone lines ripped out of the walls and general disarray.  Read more

Lynch tours Iraqi cities

Congressman Steve Lynch returned to Iraq for the tenth time last week as part of a Congressional delegation visit. Lynch and two other House colleagues travelled to Samarra and Sadr City, a Shiite stronghold within Baghdad which has been a base of support for the radical cleric, Moqtadar al-Sadr. He also visited an Air Force hospital and dined with soliders from Massachuetts.

The Lynch tour was the first Congressional delegation to participate in a so-called "battlefield circulation" in Samarra, which was the site of the 2006 Golden Mosque bombing.  Read more

Viet voting bloc building strength across the state

Oct. 22, 2008

Sipping tea with senior members of the Vietnamese community in a garage on Dorchester Ave, Thu Nguyen, a young investment-banking analyst, was asked to mobilize the Vietnamese community for the presidential elections. Nguyen said despite his busy schedule he wanted to start an independent organization to build a "strong voice" among the immigrant community.  Read more

Dorcena Forry endorses Chang-Diaz

Another politician who endorsed state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson during the September Democratic primary has switched support to challenger Sonia Chang-Diaz. State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry said she is now endorsing Chang-Diaz for the general election.

"I've known Sonia for several years," Forry said, noting that Chang-Diaz, a former public school teacher, worked on her election campaign in 2005. Forry added that she admires Wilkerson, who is running a sticker campaign to retain her seat, "but the voters in her district chose Chang-Diaz in the primary."  Read more

ACORN offices in Fields Corner ransacked: $5,000 reward offered for information on last week's break-in

ACORN Massachusetts' head organizer Noemi "Mimi" Ramos arrived at her office the morning after last week's presidential debate to find the front door unlocked, three desktop computers missing, Internet and phone lines ripped out of the walls and general disarray.  Read more

Polish Triangle officially named Polish Triangle

Members of the Krakowiak Polish dance group performed at last Saturday's dedication of the "Polish Triangle" near Andrew Square. Photo courtesy White Eagle Media LLC  Read more

Geneva Cliffs work completed, opening this weekend

It is the culmination of years of work by several community organizations, four city departments, and dozens of donors. Over $400,000 in improvements to the Geneva Cliffs Urban Wild have been completed, and the new park's grand opening is scheduled for Saturday morning.

"It took a lot of effort because people for a long time didn't have any vision that it would be an asset," said Sherry Flashman, a consultant on the project working with the Dorchester Bay EDC.  Read more

New look eyed for old park

In some ways Franklin Park is a ruin of itself, roads overgrown with weeds winding through jungle-like wilderness and rocky ruins rising up from the groundcover. Back in the 1880s Frederick Law Olmsted carefully planned how visitors would tour the park on paths and carriage roads. But over the years, things have changed.  Read more

State cuts hit hard in non-profit sector

For Bill Walczak, co-founder of the Codman Square Health Center, the $900 million in cuts to the state's budget that Gov. Deval Patrick announced last week are actually the second round. A number of state agencies absorbed cuts at the beginning of the budget year in July, he noted in a recent interview.  Read more

CDC's line up to buy foreclosed properties

Boston's community development corporations (CDCs) were on the forefront of rejuvenating city neighborhoods in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and the push is on to innovate new tactics to address the foreclosure crisis.

Dorchester and Mattapan's CDCs are gearing up to take advantage of millions of dollars in new federal funding designated for turning foreclosed properties into rentals and affordable home-ownership opportunities, and the challenges are many.  Read more

Changes seen likely for city schools plan

Students board a school bus outside the Pauline A. Shaw Elementary School, one of several that would close under a plan devised by BPS superintendent Dr. Carol Johnson this fall. Photo by Pete Stidman.

Superintendent Carol Johnson's budget-trimming plan to reorganize, close, and consolidate schools may not be the final word for schools facing the axe.  Read more

Buyers with cash rule roost in uneasy housing market


Over the past three years, prices on multi-family houses in Dorchester and Mattapan have plummeted, bouncing up and down around half of the peak prices they registered back in 2005 for most of this year. Condo prices have dropped as well, but not nearly as much, even though dozens of foreclosed condos have hit the market and sold for well under $100,000.  Read more

ACORN office in Fields Corner burglarized, ransacked

ACORN Massachusetts' head organizer Noemi "Mimi" Ramos arrived at the organization's offices in Fields Corner Thursday morning, Oct. 16, to find the front door unlocked, three desktop computers missing, internet and phone lines ripped out of the walls and general disarray.  Read more

Solar panels may complement gas tank landmark

Just as NSTAR put the finishing touches on a 10-kilowatt demonstration solar power array at the Mass Audubon Center in Mattapan earlier this month, National Grid submitted plans to the city for six megawatts of arrays at locations across Greater Boston, including a highly visible spot around the company's landmark gas tank on Dorchester Bay.  Read more

Families find haven, fresh start at Brookview

Children work with site coordinator Daniel Depina at the Brookview House after-school program last Thursday. Pictured left to right are: Maryah Williams, Emmanuella Saturne, Isabella Saturne, Depina, and Jared Smith. Photo by Bijoyeta Das.  Read more

Free flu shots available locally

With flu season fast approaching, the Boston Public Health Commission recommends flu shots for the following groups considered most at-risk for infection and serious illness, including children aged 6 months to 5 years, pregnant women, people 50 years of age and older and those of any age with certain chronic medical conditions.  Read more

Students challenge Johnson on plans

Shanyce Morgan, a junior at Noonan Business Academy at the Dorchester Education Complex, addresses Superintendent Johnson during a Tuesday evening meeting at Mildred Avenue Community Center. Photo by Pete Stidman

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Boston win for McCain? Not likely

John McCain, regardless of his performance nationally, is going to lose Dorchester, Boston, and Massachusetts.

That makes him no different than Republican presidents back to Ronald Reagan - who, at least in part due to a near-mythic swing into the Eire Pub in 1984, connected with the blue-collar Democrats that often swing elections in these precincts. Both Bushes had their Stetsons handed to them here.  Read more

Vote No on 1' push in Fields Corner

Oct. 15, 2008

Mimi Ramos, center, leads a team of ACORN volunteers and staff dedicated to defeating the ballot question 1, which would eliminate the state income tax. From left: Mattapan organizer Kesner Forestale of Dorchester, field organizer Ricky Nelson, Ramos, Mary Ann Jones of Boston, Becky Pierce of Dorchester, Loreliei Kluever, Ben Kuss and Chris Leonard, campaign director for ACORN. Photo by Bill Forry /p>

Karen Brown, like a third of people who are likely to vote Nov.  Read more

Chang-Diaz gets embrace of elected Dems at rally

Sonia Chang-Diaz, the newly-minted Democratic nominee for the state Senate's Second Suffolk seat, took a victory lap this week with some of the state's top Democrats as incumbent Sen. Dianne Wilkerson battled back against renewed allegations that she lied under oath at a 2005 court hearing.  Read more