Representative Benson’s Monthly Update: October 2016

Around the District

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of Carlson Orchards with Sen. Eldridge and the Carlson Family

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of Carlson Orchards with Sen. Eldridge and the Carlson Family

Early in the month, Senator Jamie Eldridge and I visited Carlson Orchards in Harvard to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of their family business. We met with Frank Carlson and his brothers who still manage the farm founded by their parents in 1936. I presented them with a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives recognizing the Carlson family as a cornerstone of the Town of Harvard for 80 years. While I was there, I picked up some fresh apples and homemade apple crisp!

On October 12, I attended a presentation at the Ayer Shirley Regional High School about the Chapter 70 formula used to determine funding for public schools. I’m glad the school district is learning about the details of the Chapter 70 formula and the variables involved in determining school funding.

My staff attended the Nashoba Valley Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting of their Public Policy Committee, where the Chamber discussed their legislative priorities and the four ballot questions that will be decided by voters. A few days later, I went to the Chamber’s “Lager with Legislators” event held at Gervais Ford in Ayer. I chatted with Chamber members about their legislative concerns and current events. It was great to be able to speak with so many small business owners in my district about the challenges they face and how they view the Commonwealth’s changing economy.

At the installation ceremony for the Shirley postmaster

At the installation ceremony for the Shirley postmaster

In Shirley, I was honored to attend the installation ceremony for the town’s new Postmaster, Sylvain Labelle. I talked about how both of my parents were employed by the United States Postal Service at one point in their lives, and the respect I have for postal employees and the work they do. I also presented Sylvain with a citation from the House of Representatives honoring him for his achievement.

On October 22, I attended the dedication of the new Lunenburg Middle High School. Planning for the new school began 13 years ago in 2003 when I was a member of the School Committee, so it was a wonderfully fulfilling moment to see the opening and dedication of the beautiful new building.

Voting early at Lunenburg Town Hall

Voting early at Lunenburg Town Hall

Later in the month, I went to Lunenburg Town Hall to vote early. For the first time, Massachusetts voters could vote early, and I was proud to support the legislation that made this possible.

On October 25, I spoke at the first in a series of forums organized by the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce called Tools for Change. Along with Fitchburg Ward Councilor Michael Kushmerek, community organizer Joana Dos Santos of United Neighbors of Fitchburg, and Charles St. Amand of the Sentinel & Enterprise newspaper, I discussed how technology is changing politics and how to reach those who feel apathetic about or left out of the political process. I hope those who attended the forum found the discussion illuminating, and discovered new ways to engage their constituencies.

At the State House

My staff attended a briefing by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), where they were briefed on the changes being made to the commuter rail schedules. For more information on the altered schedules, which will go into effect on November 21, you visit and click the “Fall Commuter Rail Schedules” banner.

At an event at the State House on October 31, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash announced that the Town of Shirley had been awarded a MassWorks grant to fund repairs to the Main Street Bridge. Selectmen Kendra Dumont and Robert Prescott, along with Town Administrator Patrice Garvin, accepted the grant from Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. I am thrilled that Shirley was given this grant after trying for three consecutive MassWorks cycles to secure the funding. I was happy to write a letter of support for their application, and I know these funds will be put to good use repairing the bridge.

Looking Ahead

In November, I’m looking forward to a number of events in the district, including the Veterans Day program at Ayer Shirley Regional High School, and the Mt. Calvary Community Supper in Acton.

November 17 is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, and I encourage anyone who smokes and is considering quitting to use the event as a jumping-off point to begin the process. By quitting – even for 1 day – smokers can take an important step toward improving their health.

I hope everyone has a warm and pleasant Thanksgiving. Look for my next update in early December!


Jennifer Benson