Celebrate the Arts TONIGHT with the Victoria McLaughlin Foundation

Do you want to support the arts in Melrose Schools? Come on down to Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School tonight, April 13, to Celebrate the Arts!

For the ninth year, the Victoria McLaughlin Foundation will be combining the 2017 Melrose Public School Annual Art Exhibit with the Celebrate the Arts! Evening line-up. From 5 P.M to 8:30 P.M. they will celebrate the achievement in visual and musical arts by Melrose Public School students. The evening will feature artwork by K-12 students and musical performances by the MHS Orchestra, MHS Jazz Band and the Honors Chorus group. Dessert and coffee will be served.

5:00 – 7:00 PM Melrose Public School Annual Art Exhibit
7:00 – 7:45 PM Music Program featuring MHS Orchestra & Chorus
7:45 – 8:30 PM Musical Entertainment featuring MHS Jazz Band & String Quartet

Admission to the event is free for all. Throughout the evening you will have the opportunity to purchase previously selected books for the Victoria McLaughlin Library, participate in raffles and a silent auction, and make a donation to the Victoria McLaughlin Foundation.

The Victoria McLaughlin Foundation has donated tens of thousands of dollars to support arts and library programs in the Melrose Public Schools, as well as Melrose’s Recreation programs. Please come and enjoy the night with family and friends. All are welcome.

Focus on Melrose: Why Our Bond Rating Matters

The chart above shows that Melrose’s bond rating, as assigned by Standard & Poor’s, has risen consistently over the past 13 years, going from a negative outlook in 2003 to AA+ with a positive outlook for the past four years. I am proud that despite the most difficult economic times in recent memory, we have been able to reach and maintain the highest bond rating the City of Melrose has ever had.

We use bonds to fund capital work such as road, water, and school improvements, and that high bond rating has a direct and concrete impact on the people of Melrose:

  • It draws in a pool of investors to bid on the bonds;
  • It increases competition among the bidders, so they will come in with their lowest interest rate; and
  • The lower interest rates free up more money for other projects and funds the existing project at the lowest possible cost.

Who doesn’t hate paying interest? A strong bond rating allows us to borrow money at favorable rates. That’s the bottom line.

It wouldn’t be possible to pay for big projects such as road and school improvements from our yearly operating budget. Bonding allows us to get the money up front and pay it off over 10-20 years—similar to a mortgage or a home equity loan, but with bigger numbers. Where an individual has to shop around for the best deal, though, the bond market does that for us. Institutions bid on the bonds, offering lower interest rates to municipalities that have good financial management and a stable outlook—in other words, cities and towns that are a good risk.

Standard & Poor’s is the premier rating agency for cities and towns. They have a lot of municipal experience, and they do an in-depth analysis of the community’s financial picture to make a determination for the outside world. From their point of view, Melrose is doing a good job of managing its money while providing a high level of services to our residents, and that translates into our excellent bond rating.

New City Hall Artwork Celebrates Melrose’s Diversity

On Tuesday we unveiled a new work of art that has been permanently installed on the first floor of City Hall: A collage of drawings that celebrate the many faces of Melrose, collected by the Human Rights Commission and assembled into a beautiful painting by artists Sara Gravante and Kris Rodolico of Follow Your Art. The drawings that make up the collage were done by members of the Do the Right Thing Club at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School, the Social Justice Club at Melrose High School, and the First United Methodist Church, as well as residents at Golden Living. A grant from the Melrose Messina Fund for the Arts helped fund the piece. I want to thank all those who were involved in creating this spectacular work of art, and I encourage you to stop by City Hall and see it for yourself.

Holy Week and Easter at FUMC Melrose

The First United Methodist Church of Melrose, 645 Main St., will hold several Holy Week services and special events leading up to Easter Sunday. All are invited to participate.
 
On Maundy Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m., there will be a communion service followed by the “stripping of the chancel” in preparation for Good Friday.
 
On Good Friday, April 14, there will be a traditional Service of “Tenebrae” at 7:30 p.m. The story of Jesus’ death will be told as candles are extinguished and the sanctuary is in darkness.
 
On Saturday, April 15, the church will have a family-Easter Party from 5:00-7:00 pm with finger food, an animated Easter Movie, crafts and more.
 
On Easter Sunday, April 16, there will be an Easter Egg Hunt at the church for children at 9:00 a.m. All children are invited. 

The Easter sanctuary service will be at 10 a.m. Prior to the service, there will be organ music at 9:35 a.m., followed by a brass quartet festival prelude at 9:55 a.m.

Easter Sunrise Service at Mt Hood

Easter Sunrise Service at Mt Hood
April 16, 2017 at 5:45 A.M.

Please join the Melrose Clergy Association for an Ecumenical Easter Sunrise Service at Mt Hood. The service will take place behind the clubhouse. Please follow the signs.

The Reverend Michael Woolf will offer the meditation. After worship, you are invited to gather in the club house for refreshments which are provided by Mayor Dolan’s office.

Good Times: Check Out the Spring/Summer Recreation Brochure

Just in time for the warm weather, the Melrose Recreation Department has published its Spring/Summer Brochure, which is filled with sports, classes, and fun events for all ages. Check it out, and get ready to enjoy the sunshine!

Getting ready for Easter at the Highlands Congregational Church

The Melrose Highlands Congregational Church congregation welcomes everyone to join in these events being planned for the pre-Easter period and then especially for the joyous celebration on Easter Sunday.

Thursday April 13th: Maundy Thursday Union Service. This union service with First Congregational Church will be held at First Congregational, 121 West Foster Street, Melrose, at 7 p.m. This is a service of music, prayer and contemplation. Tenebrae (pronounced ten’e-bree), comes from the Latin for shadows and is one of the Christian church’s oldest Holy Week celebrations.

Friday, April 14th: Good Friday –Labyrinth Walk with Stations of the Cross. The Labyrinth at MHCC will be open from 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. This labyrinth experience of the Stations of the Cross integrates a sensory and symbolic experience of the Passion. More information about labyrinths may be found at http://www.mhcc-ucc.org/the-labyrinth-at-mhcc.html.

Sunday, April 16th: Easter. The day of joy begins with the 5:45 a.m. ecumenical Sunrise Service at Mt. Hood. The 10:00 a.m. worship service in the Highlands sanctuary celebrates the Resurrection. Join us as the cross is transformed into a thing of beauty. Following the service, there will be an Easter egg hunt for the children on the church lawn. All are invited.

Help MHS Graduate Sam Gilles Complete College

Sam Gilles left his home in Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake there and, at the age of 16, came to the U.S. in hopes of getting a good education and a better life. He ended up in Melrose, where the Sherlock family welcomed him into their home, and he is a proud graduate of Melrose High School. Sam is attending Regis College and is scheduled to graduate this May. Sam is not an American citizen, so he is not eligible for financial aid, and Regis does not give athletic scholarships. The Sherlocks have held several fund-raisers for him over the year to defray expenses, but Sam still owes over $11,000, which must be paid in order for him to graduate. If you would like to help Sam graduate on time, check out the fundraising page that has been set up for this purpose.

Focus on Melrose: State Aid

“Focus on Melrose” is a series of blog posts that uses my State of the City address as a starting point to explore the City of Melrose budget and operations. We will present a different aspect every Thursday.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

In this case, the story is pretty simple: State aid to the City of Melrose dropped sharply between Fiscal Year 2001 and FY 2012, and it has yet to recover fully.

Here’s what’s not in the picture: It’s getting worse. When I asked our Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Dello Russo, what the prospects are for Fiscal Year 2018, he said, “We are anticipating over $70,000 less in state aid than we received in Fiscal 2017.”

This is important because the less we receive in state aid, the more we rely on property taxes—but property taxes are capped by Proposition 2 ½.

“Since Fiscal Year 2009, we have lost over $1.4 million in state aid,” Patrick says, “yet we are required to support services to the public that cost more now than they did then.”

Patrick sees this downward trend continuing, pointing to the increasing burden that health care is putting on the state budget. Charter schools are another factor: “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has failed to fund the Charter School Reimbursement to cities and towns, from what is legally required, by $54 million,” he says. “At the same time, charter school assessments—the amount we owe the state—have gone up by $60 million. This is a fiscal recipe for financial disaster.”

It is clear that we can no longer depend on state aid to meet our budgetary requirements, and it will take us longer to reach our goals. Instead, we must rely on careful planning to allow us to continue to deliver the level of services our residents expect—and to continue to build a better city for our children and grandchildren.

Zumba Master Class to Raise Funds to Fight Parkinson’s Disease on April 8

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