UTEC Grand Opening

This afternoon was the Grand Opening of the new UTEC facility on Hurd Street. The facility is an architectural marvel, both inside and out, joining the historic St. Paul’s United Methodist Church (1839) with a brand new 7500 square foot, three story addition. The first floor of the addition features a cafe with an atrium (shown in the top and middle photos below) that showcases the merger of the two buildings. The second floor contains a dance studio/conference space. The third floor is the education space for students in UTEC’s GED program and the Lowell High Alternative Diploma Program. Within the church portion of the facility, the ground floor features a drop-in center for local youth with the main portion of the church (bottom picture) serving as a performance/conference space. UTEC makes many of these spaces available for rental and can also provide in-house catering. UTEC does great work in Lowell; it now has a space that fully complements its mission.

Grand Opening tour in Atrium

The Atrium showing the merger of the old exterior church wall with the new space

Performance/conference space viewed from the balcony, setup for annual dinner

Worcester water crisis

Yesterday at about noon a major water main in Worcester burst, flooding a building at Worcester State University and forcing the city to shut of its entire water supply overnight to make repairs. Imagine waking up and not having a ready supply of clean, safe water – no shower, no flushing the toilet, no coffee maker. Whether it’s Worcester, Lowell or any place else, delivering water to residents is an essential function of government because clean water is essential to our lives.

The Worcester Telegram has the full story of the crisis while the city of Worcester’s Twitter feed provides an almost hour-by-hour commentary on the situation. I’ve copied and pasted the Tweets below. The times indicated (i.e., 40m for 40 minutes or 8h for 8 hours) are how long before 7am today the Tweet was made. Read from the bottom up for the proper chronological order:

40m Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
Avoid doing laundry for the next few days while the system fully recovers and discolored water dissipates. #Worcester

41m Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
Once water is restored, please be sure to let faucets run until clear. There is a boil water order in effect until further notice #Worcester

1h Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
Water main break repaired. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, water expected by 8 a.m. @WorcesterDPW.

8h Steven H. Foskett Jr ‏@SteveFoskettTG
City Dept. of Inspect. Serv. reaching out to all food service ops in am to review precaut. measures for food prep. once water comes back. Retweeted by Worcester MA

8h Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
@DEP issues Boil Water Order for #Worcester http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/drinking/boilordr.htm …

9h Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
Two Hour Delay for @WorcesterPublic Schools Tomorrow, November 13.

10h Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
Crews anticipate that water will be turned on by morning. No decision on school closures or delays. pic.twitter.com/oo3m3Ez1

13h Worcester MA ‏@TweetWorcester
Water Main Break Will Impact Entire City. No water, rusty water or low pressure throughout City @WorcesterDPW.

‘Desire Lines’

This is a revised version of a poem of the season from my second full-length collection of poems, “Middle Distance,” published in 1989. The setting is drawn from the view across fields in Dracut, off Mammoth Road looking toward Lakeview Avenue.–PM

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Desire Lines

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At Runaway Hill, where a horse broke wild,  flinging a preacher down the slope,

a stone wall bridges a pair of trees and divides a field, one side thick green, the other sunburnt.

Meadows littered with glacial debris are full of goat brush and vines that made blackberry jam.

Pines and apple trees grip the earth, alive with Christmasy laurel.

Past rows of corn stubble, past crow woods where yellow maples and October oaks burned,

birds scatter above farm land. Pigs, the color of soot and cotton, rub noses on the gnawed turf.

Returning later in the year, I see blond weeds poking through snow scraps,

patches in shadows near rusted scraggly firs and stands of birch, round as my wrist.

Laced together by threadbare windbreaks, the fields open onto beaver flats.

The long view shows marsh up to the high school gym, and, beyond its aqua panels,

my first neighborhood, where my face was the center of the center of the universe,

and then way off, dim blue hills, far from the space of my past.

I like to stand on this rise and look out, look back, look long into where I was,

trying to imagine where I’ll be looking back from later.

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—Paul Marion (c) 1989

Hope springs, at least for now by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog. You can find it here.

Congress returns to work tomorrow, and there are a few reasons to be hopeful that the two parties may be able to negotiate a solution to the fiscal crisis, the so-called fiscal cliff that looms ahead. House Speaker John Boehner has indicated that he would accept new revenues (elimination of deductions and exemptions if not an increase in the tax rate) in exchange for structural reforms in entitlement programs.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is somewhat more bellicose.

President Obama, while restating he won’t balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and insisting on asking the wealthy to pay more, is also prepared to take steps to control costs of entitlements like Medicaid and Medicare. Let’s hope that Democrats to his left are willing to have such changes on the table and give them serious consideration, and not dismiss them a priori.

The President has  invited leaders of both parties to the White House on Friday.  Before then, he’ll meet with labor leaders tomorrow, business leaders on Wednesday, and also reach out to civic leaders to get their input. He says, “I’m open to compromise. I’m open to new ideas.”

These more conciliatory expressions aren’t limited to top officials.  Sunday, neo conservative guru William Kristol said he sees nothing wrong with taxing millionaires more.  His is one important voice in what is yet  a techtonic shift in the thought leader dialogue. There is consensus,  if the election provided a mandate, it is a mandate to end the partisan bickering.

Can they do it?  The stakes are high.  If our elected leaders fail and sequestration does kick in, everyone – regardless of income – will pay higher taxes. The military will be bludgeoned with potentially hurtful cuts, as will most domestic programs, including all-important education, infrastructure and research.  Former Obama Administration Christina Romer wrote in the Sunday NY Times that it wouldn’t be such a bad things if, on January 1, the trillion-dollar combination of tax increases and spending cuts actually kicked in.  A permanent dive over the cliff, she agrees, would have severe consequences for our gross domestic product. But the plunge for a few weeks or months “wouldn’t be catastrophic.”  She argues that going over the cliff might free lawmakers from “the straitjacket of having signed Grove Norquists’s pledge never to raise taxes.” (Even Paul Krugman seems to be positioning himself to support a dip over the cliff.)

While Romer may be right in terms of long-term economic damage, she is wrong not to shrink from the profound psychological damage that failure to negotiate a solution would inflict on the American people, most of whom do not view compromise as “the President’s getting his own way” but as the way a democracy is supposed to work. The media would do well not to use language that reports movement by either side as “blinking.”  That said, it’s important for the President to use the political capital the election gave him to strike a sensible bargain, not give away too much as part of his opening gambit.

This week’s meetings could help predict whether optimism is warranted.  Leaders have a little over five weeks to get the job done. It’s in all of our interest that they come up with a comprehensive solution now, rather than kick the can down to the next Congress and make the United States look a little too much like the nearly paralyzed and inflamed country of Greece, which it most definitely isn’t.  The campaign is over. The time for hyperbole is past. In a troubled international economic environment, the United States is better off than most countries.  It’s time for our leaders to make it better.

I welcome your comments below.