Rising Employee Expenses Challenge Menino Budget

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced his budget for the next fiscal year Wednesday, aiming to balance spiking costs with continued services in the city's first ever $2 billion spending plan.  Read more

Critical Mass; UMass Infrastructure Needs Repairs, Officials Say

Crumbling concrete, crater-like potholes, and falling debris have officials at the University of Massachusetts at Boston searching for $50 million to overhaul the Columbia Point campus's parking garage. The two-story structure serves as the foundation for five of the seven buildings on the UMass-Boston campus and must be refurbished in the next 10 years to avoid the risk of structural failure, according to university officials. Citing the continual deterioration of the structure, officials are renewing efforts to win funding for the project.  Read more

For Countryman Abroad, Pope Gave Divine Inspiration

There on the wall in his temporary home hangs a tapestry depicting the likeness of the Holy Father, John Paul II. Father Zbigniew Derylo looked occasionally to the face of his countryman, his voice full of emotion as he discussed the life of John Paul II and his relationship with the man who had a profound impact on his own.

A Franciscan priest and missionary from Poland, Derylo is staying at Our Lady of Czestechowa Church on Dorchester Ave. during an Easter season tour of the United States.  Read more

Concerns Arise over Uphams Corner Station Shutdown Details

The MBTA, which plans to close Uphams Corner Station for a year during renovation, met Tuesday with resistance from residents confused about the transit agency's plans for replacement service.

The Dudley Street station, slated to close May 1 for extensive upgrades to its accessibility and passenger platforms, is part of a broader T strategy to modernize the Fairmount - or "Indigo" - Line, with $35 million budgeted for Uphams Corner and Morton Street stations, and a new station at Four Corners pending.  Read more

A Different Drummer: Kenny Kids Prep for Dot Day Debut

As Jerry Chu's fifth-grade music class pounded and blew out the last notes of the jaunty Jamaican folk song "Mary Ann" on Tuesday morning, the veteran teacher suddenly looked askance. Something was missing.

"That sounds good, but you know what, let's get some maracas in there," Chu decided. "Chris, get the maracas out and let's do that again."

Chris, one of two dozen fifth graders crammed into the Kenny Elementary School's basement music room, quickly complied and the fledgling musicians headed towards equatorial waters once again.  Read more

On East Cottage, a Soldier's Tribute; April 1 Ceremony Will Mark Londono's Legacy

Diana Londono is going to college.

The Fontbonne Academy senior is heading to Bay State College next year to study physical therapy and, at an accepted students' workshop recently was filling out a sample class schedule when she spotted her mother, Iwona, crying a few feet away.

"Don't cry," Diana told her. "I'm going to be living at home, how bad could it be?"

For the Londonos, it's been no easy road. Their son and brother, Daniel, was killed outside Baghdad last March 13 when an explosive hit his Humvee. He was a 23-year-old sergeant in the U.S. Army.  Read more

At an Impasse: Codman Students Want Transit Deal Finished

Students and faculty at the Codman Academy hope that this weekend will mark the end of their struggles with the MBTA.

After three years of lobbying for six-day student T passes by the Codman Academy, the MBTA created the pass last December and Codman students began using it for the first time this month. But during their first week using the passes in the first week of March, a number of students reported that MBTA bus drivers refused to accept their new passes, with one driver confiscating a student's pass.  Read more

BC High to Hold Conference for Catholic Men

He was twice struck by lightning during the filming of "The Passion of the Christ" and survived. Now, unless a bolt from the blue gets him on a third try, actor Jim Caviezel will be in Dorchester telling an expected audience of well over 1,000 guys about his experiences making the controversial picture.

Caviezel, who played Jesus Christ in Mel Gibson's blockbuster last year, is one of the confirmed speakers at the first annual Boston Catholic Men's Conference (BCMC) scheduled for Saturday, March 19, at BC High's McNeice Pavilion.  Read more

Candidate Crowley Ready to March

David Crowley won't mind if it rains. No matter the weather on June 5, David will step out on the Avenue, smiling from ear to ear. The next Mayor of Dorchester is simply excited to march, and wave, and, for that day, have all eyes on him.

Last week, David emerged as this year's only candidate for Mayor of Dorchester, the honorary title that nets the winner a place at the front of the parade, and the chance to appear as Mayor of Dorchester at a number of events throughout the year.  Read more

Trafficking in Renewal, Residents Focus on Ave. Plan

Rolling along seemingly faster than traffic on the avenue itself, a City Hall plan to rehaul Dorchester's main artery met the public for the first time Saturday. The charrette, aimed at airing preliminary details and collecting residents' ideas, attracted more than 100 people, according to city officials.

City Hall development officials say "The Avenue Project," a pet initiative of Mayor Thomas Menino, will rejuvenate Dorchester Ave. aesthetically and smooth some of the traffic snarls that continue to hinder motorists.  Read more

Billboard Plan Not Winning Any Awards from Neighbors

A top city official said the mayor's office will oppose a plan to erect an 80-foot billboard in Port Norfolk, after residents complained. "We're going to ask the board to deny that without prejudice," City Hall policy chief Michael Kineavy said at Monday's Columbia-Savin Hill civic meeting.

The proposal, for a double-sided billboard in a Redfield Street parking lot, met with criticism from neighbors who pointed to city zoning regulations that call new billboards in Dorchester "forbidden."  Read more

Ashmont Station Rehaul to Go Forward on Time, with Tweaks

Two of the state's top transit officials said Tuesday that the MBTA will revise its Ashmont Station design plans rather than lobby the Legislature for new funds.

Despite a community decision last month to try closing the station renovation's $10 million budget gap with political pressure, MBTA General Manager Michael Mulhern and state Transportation Secretary Daniel Grabauskas said they instead would split the project into two phases and look to pare back aesthetics that did not add to the facility's functionality.  Read more

What Does the Avenue Want?

"It's construction project after construction project," said Ellen Swanberg, sounding a frequent complaint of motorists trying to navigate Dorchester's primary commercial thoroughfare. She added, "You can't get there from here."

Swanberg should know. A delivery driver for Coleen's Flower Shop in Savin Hill, Swanberg said Tuesday that she spends "too much time" brokering her way between construction sites, up and down side streets.  Read more

Immigration, Education Shaped Bellegarde's Views

Don't let his age fool you; Emmanuel Bellegarde has done a lot of living in his 28 years.

He's worked in both chambers of the state legislature. He's a Haitian immigrant who started a number of groups to empower minorities in Boston politics. He's lived in subsidized housing and owns his own real estate business. And he's a candidate for state representative in the 12th Suffolk district.  Read more

Challengers Prepare to Test Yancey and Feeney

Both of Dorchester's long-serving city councillors are facing prospective opponents in the fall, as Charles Yancey has drawn a challenger and Maureen Feeney may be in the crosshairs.

Jaha "Jay" Hughes, a landscaper from York Street in the Franklin Field area, said he is an Independent who will attempt to unseat Yancey, the 11-term councillor who survived a strong 2003 challenge.  Read more

Advocates Set to Push Again for More Ashmont Funding

Discouraged transit advocates vowed to lobby anew for state funds, after politicians and MBTA officials told them Tuesday that unexpectedly high cost estimates have forced the T to consider delaying or scaling back the Ashmont Station renovation unless other fiscal resources are found quickly.  Read more

Voters Will Hear Out House Candidates in Series of Group Appearances

A string of recently-scheduled debates will give voters in Dorchester, Mattapan, Milton, and Hyde Park a chance to hear from the candidates to replace former House Speaker Thomas Finneran. Three events, set for Feb.16, Feb. 22, and March 10, are thus far the only scheduled forums for residents across the district.  Read more

Appeals Court Reaffirms Ruling in Melville Ave. Case

A state appeals court has upheld a 2003 Suffolk Superior Court decision ordering the destruction of a Melville Avenue home that has pitted neighbors against each other and stirred passions in the normally staid area.

The January 14 ruling sided with plaintiffs' request that a 99 Melville Ave. home, built in violation of existing zoning codes, come down. The court ruled that the Zoning Board of Appeals "acted in excess of its authority" in granting a variance that was "promptly" contested by several neighbors.  Read more

Cedar Grove Taps Members Plus

The Cedar Grove Civic Association endorsed the Members Plus Credit Union as the next tenant of the vacant Adams Corner Sovereign Bank property, at a contentious and well-attended Tuesday night meeting. More than 150 people, encouraged by different parties' get-out-the-vote efforts, voted Members Plus to the top of a preference list the association will send to Sovereign, which has promised to cooperate with the community in determining the site's fate. Members Plus (57 votes) beat out a bistro (43) and electronics store (8).  Read more

Ashmont Station Project Running into Trouble

Spiraling cost estimates for the Ashmont Station renovation could force MBTA designers to scale back the list of amenities and further delay the start of construction.

Construction bids outpaced T construction cost estimates by a minimum of more than $10 million, with one bid exceeding forecasts by more than $21 million. The frail economy makes procurement of additional public funds difficult, several city and state government officials said.

Sticker shock has forced T officials to regroup and evaluate the feasibility of the project.  Read more

Man's Body Found Outside Church

Churchgoers filing out of the nine o'clock Mass at Blessed Mother Teresa church on Monday morning discovered the dead body of a man on the grounds of the church.

The Medical Examiner's office on Thursday said that the victim, 43 year-old Richard Lanoue of South Boston, died of accidental hypothermia.

Captain Paul Russell, commander at the South Boston-based Area C-6 police district, said that Lanoue was pronounced dead shortly after police arrived at the scene at about 9:45 a.m.  Read more

Wanted: Clean-Up in Aisle 88

Irked by code violations and what they say is inadequate parking, Columbia/Savin Hill residents ripped the Super 88 grocery store at the South Bay complex for being unresponsive to community concerns.  Read more

A Case of Need: Amid Sadness, Husband Still Grateful

Humming first, then singing, walking around and looking for pictures of him with his wife, Rich Chace came back to that first line of the chorus in "Eleanor Rigby," the haunting Beatles song: "Ah, look at all the lonely people."

It'd be tough to blame Chace - a man whose wife, Mary McGrath, is sick in the hospital with cancer and a bleak prognosis - for thinking the words apply to him. But lonely he's not.  Read more

Carney Promises No Change in Service, Despite New Fees

Patients with Blue Cross health plans who go to the Caritas Carney Emergency Room for treatment will not experience any changes in their care despite a payment dispute between the ER doctors and the insurance company, the Dorchester hospital promised. "This will not impact patient care, treatment or coverage," said Patrice McCune a spokeswoman for the Caritas hospital system.  Read more

As Finneran Leaves (Officially), Milton Candidate Joins 12th Suffolk Field

Caesar may have regretted heading to the Senate on March 15, but the Ides of March this year will make one politician very happy.

The House of Representatives scheduled a special election to fill the 12th Suffolk House seat vacated by former Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, planning a primary for March 15 and a general election on April 12. In the heavily Democratic district, the earlier date likely will decide the next rep.  Read more