Anti-eviction activists form 'blockade' at Semont Rd. house

A crowd of around 30 housing activists and about half as many members of the local media surrounded 26 Semont Rd. on Wednesday morning, as the chant "Melonie! Melonie!" rang out along the street.

Melonie Griffiths-Evans and her husband were victims of an alleged predatory lending scam. After her husband left and the refinancing promised to her by the lenders and real estate agent never materialized, she couldn't afford the $3,500 a month mortgage. The property was foreclosed upon and she received a notice to evict.  Read more

Courthouse round-up: Love triangle alleged motive in first murder of the year in Dorchester

The first murder of the year was the result of a shootout that followed a baby shower, police said.

Rayon Gillespie, of Dorchester, was charged this week with murdering 23-year-old Joseph Clark on Jan. 6. Dorchester District Court Judge Kenneth Desmond ordered Gillespie, also 23, to be held without bail and that he return to court on Feb. 13.

Prosecutors told the court that Gillespie had been invited to a Norton St. baby shower, as had Clarke, who was romantically involved with a young pregnant woman.  Read more

Health centers back Menino against CVS clinics

Community health center leaders are just as opposed to CVS stores opening mini-clinics as Mayor Thomas Menino, but that isn't the end of it. Regional leaders are exploring opening their own versions.

State regulators last week approved rules establishing "limited service clinics," which they said would allow for quick, convenient care for minor ailments.

Menino blasted the decision, saying in a statement: "People need continuous care, and this type of for-profit facility is ignoring the standards and measures needed for quality care."  Read more

Whither Lower Mills dam? Historic value and future debated

The Baker Dam in Lower Mills. Photo by Chris Lovett.  Read more

Study could clear way for park in Port Norfolk

In a small step forward for a blighted Port Norfolk lot, state conservation officials unveiled preliminary findings this week that chemical levels in the waterfront soil are lower than expected.

The findings put the fenced-off 14-acre area on track to be finally turned into a massive neighborhood waterfront park, a project nearly 30 years in the making.

"It's an understatement to say this is a long time coming," said Maureen Feeney, District 3 councillor, who attended the meeting after Mayor Thomas Menino's state of the city address.  Read more

Fairmount improvements trigger new building in Dot, Mattapan

A new commuter rail station at Four Corners is still about three years from becoming a reality, and design for one at Talbot Avenue is due to start next week, but hazy visions of the future are becoming clearer all the time in the neighborhoods along the Fairmount Line. New developments from local Community Development Corporations (CDCs) are clustering around the future stations, giving an early window on just how much Dorchester and Mattapan will be transformed by them.  Read more

Education in spotlight again at Menino's State of City speech

The Mayor Menino show rolled into Uphams Corner's Strand Theatre for the second year in a row on Tuesday, bringing squadrons of traffic cops, shuttle buses and a quintet of royal-sounding horns. On the program was a new plan to scale back the city's school bus routes, a plan to re-create the "Boston Miracle" of the 1990s and an emphasis on "green" initiatives.

Hours before the crowds arrived, took their seats and listened to Mayor Thomas Menino give his annual State of the City address, an angry fireman held a press conference of his own on the Columbia Road sidewalk outside.  Read more

Shootings rattle nerves along Dot Ave.

A trio of unsolved shootings along Dorchester Avenue, including two which resulted in homicides in the last week, have rattled nerves and outraged residents and merchants unaccustomed to gunfire on the relatively peaceful thoroughfare. While Boston Police doubt that the three incidents are connected, the brazen nature of the attacks and uncertainty about their motivations, have prompted strong feelings from community activists.  Read more

Anti-crime group based in D.C. opens chapter in Boston

Several veteran Boston crime fighters are among the nucleus of a newly formed branch of a Washington, D.C. non-profit organization which hopes to enlist Congress in a renewed war on gun violence in America. The New England chapter of Reaching Out to Others Together (ROOT) was unveiled at a press conference on Tuesday morning at the Columbia Road headquarters of the Massachusetts Association of Minority Law Enforcement Officers (MAMLEO).  Read more

At Cedar Grove Civic, a changing of the guard

Martine Louis
Jan. 16, 2008

Cedar Grove Civic Association - now 75 years old and with over 400 members - is undoubtedly one of Boston's largest neighborhood associations. From organizing recreational services to awarding over $9,000 in educational scholarships each year, Cedar Grove Civic is the "heart and soul" of the nearby community, says John O'Toole, the group's former president.  Read more

City to launch anti-litter push in Codman, Mattapan

Several Dorchester and Mattapan locales could pick themselves up in a new pilot program slated to start this spring. An anti-litter campaign is in the works that would encourage storeowners to keep it clean, train young children to give a hoot and blitz the area with advertising.

"Much of it is going to be education," said Richard Heath, an organizer for the Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) who helped city officials design the program.  Read more

Courthouse round-up: Convict pleads guilty to 1995 murder

Avoiding a second attempt at a trial, a former Dorchester man pled guilty this week to a 1995 murder, earning a 9 to 10 year prison sentence that will run simultaneously with his 27-year sentence for another murder.

John Tibbs, 36, was sentenced in Suffolk Superior Court Tuesday by Judge Peter Lauriat. The first trial, centering on the slaying of 20-year-old Tennyson "Tenny" Drakes, ended in a deadlocked jury in October, after three weeks of testimony.  Read more

UMass defends dorms at Columbia-Savin Hill

Jan. 9, 2008

In sharp exchanges with some local neighborhood activists, UMass Boston officials defended their plans to build dorms to house some 1,000 on-campus beds in the next ten years as part of the school's overhaul.

"We are a commuter school. We are going to continue to be a commuter school," Ellen O'Connor, the campus's vice chancellor for administration and finance, said to roughly 40 people assembled at Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association's Monday night meeting at the Little House.  Read more

Over mayor's wishes, Feeney plans civic summit

Martine Louis
Jan. 9, 2008

It was a historic moment for Maureen Feeney as a unanimous noontime vote among city council colleagues on Monday, Jan. 7 made her the longest-serving woman council president in Boston's history. Re-elected for her second term as president, Feeney says the experience was one of her proudest.  Read more

Pine Street to take control of Savin Hill elderly home

The Tuttle House, an 26-unit elderly housing facility in Savin Hill, is set to be transferred to the Pine Street Inn, New England's largest non-profit for the homeless, which plans to invest $300,000 in renovations at the site, according to members of the Tuttle House's board.

Two members of the 14-member board that currently governs the facility say its mission will stay the same was part of the deal.

"It's a place for frail elders," said Bill O'Shea, president of the board. "Things have to stay the same."  Read more

Youth builders push green envelope

Jan. 9, 2008

YouthBuild students Douglas Walker, Kenneth Cardoso and William Brewington, all in their early 20s, move a structural insulated panel into place on the second floor of 26 Arbutus St. Photo by Pete Stidman

Call it another rung on the ladder toward an environmentally sustainable Boston, or perhaps, another tug on the rope that will bring that lofty goal down to earth.  Read more

Going Public: A beginner gets schooled on kindergarten, BPS choices

Last Friday was the first day of the initial four-week registration period for Boston Public Schools, and at the Campbell Resource Center behind the Burger King on Dorchester Avenue, that meant it was the busiest day of the year.  Read more

Low-ceiling on Freeport bridge snares trucks

The MBTA bridge above Freeport Street was hit by trucks four times in 2007 and twice last week. The T says the bridge was inspected after each encounter and that it is structurally sound. Photo by David Benoit.  Read more

New year opens with two murders in Dot

Six days. That's how long it took for Boston to witness its first homicide of the year, a shooting on Bowdoin Street that was quickly followed by another murder the next night at a take-out Chinese restaurant on Dorchester Avenue.

Both were young black males.

Joseph Clarke, 23, of Dorchester, was shot at the intersection of Norton Street and Bowdoin Street in Sunday's early mornings hours, at about 1:49 a.m. He had been shot in the head. He was sent to Boston Medical Center and pronounced dead.  Read more

New library pushed as plus for Burke High, Grove Hall

Martine Louis
Jan. 9, 2008

The Jeremiah E. Burke High School will break tradition as the first Boston public school to include a public branch library and community center within its footprint under a city hall plan. The new facility, to be built this year, is deemed a "national model" by Mayor Thomas Menino, who said the library will serve the needs of both the 1,200 students at the Burke as well as Grove Hall residents.  Read more

Columbia Point Master Plan Task Force chosen

Mayor Thomas Menino has appointed fifteen individuals, including residents of Columbia Point and adjacent neighborhoods, business people and one transportation advocate, to a Columbia Point Master Plan Task Force. The Boston Redevelopment Authority originally intended to choose the task force by last fall, but took longer than expected.

"There was no specific delay, it was just when we were able to get it down to the mayor and have him look at it," said BRA spokesperson Jessica Shumaker.  Read more

City may put homeownership developments on pause

The city of Boston could take a breather on new affordable home ownership development starts, said Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) spokesperson Lucy Warsh.

"We are taking a close look at our planned projects and those in the pipeline," said Warsh. "We want to make sure we make the right choices."  Read more

Local barber, union man brings trademark intensity to the fight of his life

Dianne Morad, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 9, 2008

He was just going to work, same as always, no big deal. The headaches were painful, but nothing the 43-year-old hockey player couldn't handle. He'd been getting them for a couple of months, but hadn't really bothered to mention them. What was the point? They were just headaches and anyway, Jimmy Lang had to go to work.  Read more

Tiny Burt St. development awakens old grudges

A developer's plan to raze a decrepit house and install a shiny new three-decker in its place has stirred up resentment from a few with long memories. The developer Vu Quong's properties have been the center of controversy before.  Read more

Welcome boost to BPD, NHL buffs

The latest crop of cadets from the police academy gave a welcome boost to the Boston Police Department, and for NHL buffs, a nifty piece of local trivia. More accustomed to wearing uniforms bearing flames, ducks and Canucks, Dot Native and former NHL Defenseman Chris O'Sullivan is now officially a boy-in-blue.  Read more