News

Fifty years later, Mattapan woman completes her high school journey

By 
Martine Louis
Jul. 2, 2008

Sixty-eight-year-old Lula Mae Johnson is living proof that education has no statute of limitations.

In May, Johnson was one of 37 adults to cross the stage during a GED ceremony at Faneuil Hall. Now the Mattapan resident says her next step is a college degree.

Back in her native South Carolina, Johnson was a student at Roberts High School. The summer before her senior year Lula, then 19, says she and her boyfriend decided to get married, which led to her decision not to return to school.  Read more

After over 100 years, a trolley clatters down retirement road

A recent photo of the ancient Trolley 5164 as it sat in a yard near Mattapan Station. It has served various Boston transit companies and agencies since 1907. Photo courtesy The Lone Rider

Identified only as car 5164, it was never well known. It was only one among an order of 100 identical Type 3 passenger cars when it first arrived, shiny and new, from the St. Louis Car Company in 1907.  Read more

National tennis hopefuls join battle on Blue Hill

The pop-thwack, pop-thwack of racquets striking tennis balls is not unusual at the Sportsmen's Tennis Club. But 32 tennis champs who are thwacking balls across the courts there this week have earned some distinction.

A slew of nationally-ranked players are helping to raise the Blue Hill Avenue venue's profile in the second annual US Tennis Association's Women's $50,000 Pro Challenger tournament. Now through next Wednesday, players are competing to win the big bucks and a slot in the venerable US Open.  Read more

John Byrne, fixture on Dot scene, dead at 96

Longtime Dorchester business and civic leader John B. Byrne, a Braintree man who was born in Dorchester and spent all of his working years in this community, has died at the age of 96.

Byrne, once dubbed the "lord mayor of Fields Corner," died peacefully on June 26 at a Cohasset nursing home, his family said.  Read more

Cabbies seek pay hike, citing gas expenses

Chando Souffant spends $930 a month in tolls ferrying passengers to Logan Airport and back. Fellow cab driver Valville August's wife does all the work at home on her own, with August working 16 to 17 hours a day. And Pierre Duchemin is thinking about getting out of the business altogether.

"This is the life style," Souffant says. "You're working for nothing. They call us ambassadors of the city, but they treat us like a slave."

Most taxi cab drivers in the city work 7 days a week, at 16 to 17 hours a day, the drivers say.

"Those who want to make money," Duchemin says.  Read more

Rep. Allen: One term not enough to finish job

Willie Mae Allen's mother had a saying: If you know that you're being chased, you don't look back.

"I'm not looking back at my opponent," said the Democratic state representative in seeking her second term. "I'm concentrating on my race."

Elected to the House of Representatives in 2006, Allen is facing a challenger, Faustina "Kathy" Gabriel, in September's Democratic primary.  Read more

Puerto Rican fest set to ride again

Under new leadership, Boston's Puerto Rican festival has apparently shaken off the financial troubles that caused its cancellation in 2007, and will once again roll to the Salsa beat this weekend in Franklin Park.

The turn-around began even before the July fest was cancelled in June of 2007, when the old leadership of the festival stepped down and Reyito Santiago, now president of the board, and a number of other sponsors and volunteers agreed to engineer a comeback.  Read more

Foreclosures slow, but reprieve may only be temporary

A new "Right to Cure" law has slowed the rate of new foreclosure filings to a relative crawl, according to state Land Court officials, but the drop may be only temporary, say some.

Beginning May 1, when the law first took effect, the rate of affidavits filed with the Land Court slowed to an average of less than 20 a day, said recorder of the court Debbie Patterson. The month before, the number of the same affidavits, which are an early required step in the foreclosure process, averaged around 150 a day.

"Big effect," she said.  Read more

First-time candidate to take on incumbent Rep. Willie Mae Allen in Sixth Suffolk

Call it a rematch of sorts. Spurred in part by Sen. Barack Obama's run for the White House, a Dorchester woman who helped manage William Celester's unsuccessful campaign for the Sixth Suffolk seat in 2006, is mounting a run to challenge incumbent state Rep. Willie Mae Allen.

Faustina "Kathy" Gabriel said she was frustrated with the lackluster turnout in the district for the Super Tuesday primary and sees a need for new leadership.  Read more

Task Force hears 'visions' for Columbia Point improvements

Harbor Point should be integrated with the rest of the Columbia Point community and local transportation around remains a keen problem, residents told a city task force on June 14. The comments came at a Saturday "visioning" session held at Boston College High School. The event was convened by a BRA-led committee with an eye towards creating a master plan for the 412 acres between I-93 and Dorchester Bay.  Read more

In Dot speech, Patrick pushes ed reform plan

Employing Dorchester as a backdrop, Gov. Deval Patrick this week officially unveiled his highly-anticipated education reform effort, dubbed the Readiness Project.

The raft of proposals - full-day kindergarten and universal pre-kindergarten, a "portfolio" on each individual child, a statewide teacher contract, merged school districts, and free community college, among others - are aimed at taking Massachusetts out of what Patrick aides say is a 20th-century education system for low-skill, low-knowledge workers.  Read more

Gaelic Football league comes to St. Brendan's

New games are in town this summer as the St. Brendan's Gaelic Athletic Club kicks off its opening season, bringing Gaelic football and hurling to Dorchester's fields.

"All are welcome," said Larry McGann, hurling coach and secretary of the St. Brendan's club. "These are two of the most popular sports around the world that American kids have yet to play."

With their deep Irish roots, Gaelic football and hurling in the United States have been played mostly within Irish communities, but McGann and Frank Hogan, the chairman of the club, hope to change all that.  Read more

Snowden to take reins at Freedom House

As it nears its 60th year, leadership of the Freedom House in Grove Hall is back in the family again. Director Ricardo Neal will take a break to find a new direction and Gail Snowden, whose parents founded the neighborhood institution, will temporarily take the reins.

"I've really arrived at being a leader in public education policy," said Neal, who has pushed hard for education reforms addressing the achievement gap and high school dropouts during his tenure. "I have not yet decided on a particular role at a non-profit or agency I would want to work with."  Read more

Civic leader pushes for St. Ann's traffic study

The president of the Pope's Hill Neighborhood Association this week hit planners of the new Pope John Paul II Academy for lack of a traffic study for its Neponset campus.

"I think the community is getting the short shrift," said Phil Carver, speaking at a community meeting at the Murphy School on Monday evening.

Neponset Ave. is "already a nightmare," Carver said, with parents picking up and dropping off students at the Murphy School and a nearby charter school.  Read more

Conviction brings some closure to Bourneside killings

The sound of ambulances and police cars roaring are not uncommon in the Melville-Park neighborhood. But, neighbors say, the emergency vehicles are usually racing to someplace else in Dorchester.

But on Dec. 13, 2005, they all converged on Bourneside Street - a short side-street opposite Town Field - and launched an investigation into the murders of four young men, three of them members of a nascent local rap group, Graveside.  Read more

City to study vacant lots in mid-Dot business districts

By 
By
Jun. 25, 2008

At the behest of Mayor Thomas Menino, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Department of Neighborhood Development and other city agencies are gearing up to study the future use of dozens of vacant lots to revitalize the business districts of Bowdoin-Geneva, Four Corners and Codman Square.

"Part of what we've heard from the neighborhood is there are a number of privately and publicly-owned parcels that they'd like to see something happen on," said Susan Elsbree, spokeswoman for the BRA.  Read more

Leadership changes ahead for Dorchester Education Complex

As the school year draws to a close, the three schools that make up the Dorchester Education Complex are all on the brink of leadership changes.

The complex on Dunbar Avenue, which houses the Edward G. Noonan Business Academy, the Academy of Public Service, and TechBoston Academy, will have two new headmasters come September and a third the following year. Robert Belle, the complex's chief administrative officer, said that the future holds a lot of potential for these young schools, created in 2002 and 2003.  Read more

Drowning girl pulled from waters off Columbia Point

A 13-year-old girl was pulled out of Boston Harbor off Columbia Point on Tuesday after a frantic search in the water by her friends, lifeguards, a pair of tourists from Holland and the Boston Fire Department. The girl was holding on to a piling under the pier near Carson Beach, right on the border between Dorchester and South Boston, when she disappeared and her friends began screaming for help. Lifeguards ran over from a nearby beach house and the two tourists dove in to aid in the search.

"I heard screaming of a girl, me and my friend ran over," said Job Van Ryn of Holland.  Read more

Historic Boston digs into Fields Corner's past

Ever since brothers Enos and Isaac Field opened up a little store there almost 200 years ago, the corner of Adams Street and Dorchester Avenue has been known as Fields Corner. Today it is a bustling 'urban cluster' of shops, restaurants and other businesses, many of them owned and run by Vietnamese-Americans.

Historic Boston Incorporated began looking at ways to illuminate that arc of history last December, when it chose the corner as one of two pilots for historic renovation of neighborhood centers in the city, and some of the early results of their research are in.  Read more

New Fairmount Line station meetings announced

Now that designs for the Four Corners Station are near complete, the MBTA has scheduled meetings for the remaining three planned stations along the commuter rail's Fairmount Line. Thirty percent design meetings for the Talbot Station (July 10, 6:30 p.m., 193 Talbot Ave.), Blue Hill Avenue Station (Aug. 5, 6:30 p.m., 5 Mildred Ave.) and Newmarket Station (Aug. 7, 6:30 p.m., 550 Dudley St.) will collect community input on the designs, which can occasionally inform alterations to them.  Read more

St. Kevin's grads and alums share farewell Mass

At St. Kevin's School, the final day was celebrated with a special mass for the school. Tears and laughter and plenty of song carried off the students inside the chapel on Columbia Road.

Fr. Tim Kearney, a former St. Kevin's seventh-grade teacher, celebrated the Friday morning service. Thirteen Sisters of Charity, the order that ran the school, were in attendance, most former faculty members. Alumni crowded the back pews behind the students, and afterward re-introduced themselves to their former teachers. There were fond memories and hopes for the future.  Read more

Grove Hall radio station plans rally at FCC offices

Supporters of TOUCH 106.1 FM, the low-powered radio outfit that is broadcasting from a Grove Hall studio in defiance of a federal order, will take their campaign to the Quincy offices of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) next week.

A 45-minute "peaceful rally" will be staged on Monday morning, according to MC Spice, the station's creative director and morning drive-time host. Spice called it a "move to call attention to the biased constriction of black news and black radio ownership by the FCC."  Read more

Class is out at St. Peter's School

St. Peter's School had their last day of school ever last Friday, ending 110 years of Catholic education on Bowdoin Street.

At the last graduation ceremony Thursday night, some parents said they hadn't found new schools for their children yet, others confirmed enrollment in the new Pope John Paul II Academy, but all lamented the decision to close the school, a bright spot in a poor neighborhood racked with gang violence and a high concentration of foreclosures.  Read more

New pastors take over at St. Greg's, St. Ann's

Two of Dorchester's most storied and vibrant Catholic parishes have new leadership this month. Rev. Sean Connor, a 42 year-old former police officer who became a priest at age 35, has taken charge at Neponset Avenue's St. Ann parish. And in Lower Mills, Fr. Vincent Daily, 47, who began his priestly career as a curate at St. Gregory's in 1990, has succeeded the man who was his first pastor, Monsignor Paul Ryan.  Read more

No deal on Bowdoin Community Center

Well over five years of work, planning and hope found a dead end last month when a consultant advised that it would not be feasible for the Bird Community Center in Uphams Corner to operate a second center at 191-195 Bowdoin St. A meeting this Monday will begin a discussion about what else can be done there.  Read more