WCCA TV News and Information Round UP: Dec. 2, 2015

“Concentrate on the positive, be creative, do something to place a smile on the face of another. Be intentional about that.”

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First Night Worcester ready for New Year’s Eve
Exciting new performers, venues and activities set for First Night ‘16

WORCESTER, MA – [December 1, 2015] – First Night Worcester is set and ready to go for this year’s arts celebration. Heading into its 35th year of operation, the nonprofit is the oldest First Night in the nation and has produced a New Year’s Eve arts festival in downtown Worcester every year since 1981. “We’re really excited for this year’s show,” said Howard McGinn, executive director of First Night Worcester. “Our schedule is final; we’ve got exciting new performances, a terrific new venue (Jillian’s Worcester) and, best of all, a brand new mobile app so folks on the go can get the most out of their First Night experience!”

First Night’s first-ever Apple mobile app is available for free in the App Store. “Users will have access to the entire event schedule with links to venues, performers, activities, sponsors and maps, right on their Apple device,” said McGinn. “It’s going to change everything!”

Nearly 60 performances will take place on 12 stages this year including a spectacular opening act – a performance by the Southeast Asian Coalition “Youth Effect” group at Tuckerman Hall, sponsored by Saint-Gobain. Artists will present an Asian fusion dance incorporating a dazzling traditional Chinese Lion Dance, a graceful traditional Thai dance, finishing up with a relaxed performance of a traditional Vietnamese dance.

First Night artists run the gamut from musicians to acrobats, jugglers to comedians, hypnotists, dancers, and for the second consecutive year, psychic mediums. “Our psychic medium venue was absolutely packed last year,” said McGinn. “We’re delighted to be able to offer this special experience once again at the Courtyard by Marriott.”

In addition to a robust line-up of First Night performances, there will be many activities around town to take advantage of, all free with a First Night button. “There will be pony rides and, new this year, guided tours by Canal District Horse & Wagon Tours, a local favorite,” said McGinn. “Up on the Common we’ll have free ice skating sponsored by baystateparent and hot cocoa sponsored by Becker College. The Worcester Art Museum will be hosting a special craft project, sponsored by FLEXcon, and we’re bringing back the incredibly popular Kids Zone at Veteran’s Inc., sponsored by UniBank.” MassLive, new to First Night this year, will be sponsoring Ralph’s Rock Diner. Jillian’s Worcester, First Night’s newest venue partner, will be hosting a free pasta bar for First Night attendees as well as giving out free $10 gift cards to use in its game room. Other activities include open houses at the Joy of Music Program (with family-friendly drumming circles, student performances and creative movement groups) and the Worcester JCC (with swimming, Gaga, a basketball clinic, bounce house and craft projects).

Returning this year will be the First Night trolleys – two of them – sponsored by Bay State Savings Bank and SG&D Insurance Agencies. “For obvious reasons, the trolleys were a big hit last year,” said McGinn. “We’re so grateful to to be able to offer this service again this year so folks can travel in comfort to all the performances they want!”

As in years past, a First Night button grants free access to the area’s leading cultural centers. Museum partners include the EcoTarium, Museum of Russian Icons, Old Sturbridge Village, Salisbury Mansion, Worcester Art Museum and the Worcester Historical Museum. “This is a terrific perk for First Night button holders. Last year it added up to literally hundreds of dollars in savings for a family of four. That’s a pretty great deal!”

Buttons are on sale now – $10 before December 25, $12 after December 25, $15 at the door. Kids 7 and under are free. The full event schedule and button details can be found at www.firstnightworcester.org.

First Night Worcester is made possible through the generosity of the following:

Presenting Sponsors: PENTA Communications, Inc., Polar Beverages, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Platinum Sponsors: Greater Worcester Community Foundation, Worcester Magazine

Gold Sponsors: FLEXcon, IMMEDIA, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Price Chopper, Worcester Rotary, WRTA

Silver Sponsors: Atlas Pyrovision Productions, Inc., baystateparent, CVS, EcoTarium, Grafton News, Hanover Insurance Group Foundation, Leominster Champion, MassLive.com, Millbury Sutton Chronicle, Museum of Russian Icons
Old Sturbridge Village, Saint-Gobain Corporation, Salisbury Mansion, The Landmark, UniBank, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester Historical Museum

Bronze Sponsors: AAA Southern New England, AbbVie Bioresearch Center, Assumption College, Bay State Savings Bank, Becker College, MCPHS University
Rand Whitney Container, LLC, Reliant Medical Group, SG&D Insurance Agencies, Webster Five Cents Savings Bank

Supporters: Armenian Cultural Center, Commerce Bank, Courtyard by Marriott, Epworth United Methodist Church, Hilton Garden Inn, Jillian’s Billiard Club, MarketKING
Millbury Federal Credit Union, National Grid, Ralph’s Rock Diner, Southbridge Savings Bank, Spencer Bank, The Berry Group, Trinity Lutheran Church, Tuckerman Hall
Veteran’s Inc., Wegmans Food Market, Inc., Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, Wesley United Methodist Church, Worcester JCC
About First Night Worcester
Founded in 1981, First Night Worcester is a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to providing access to the Arts. Best known for its New Year’s Eve Arts Festival, the non-profit work of First Night Worcester continues throughout the year with educational programs and community outreach initiatives. Taken together, the programs of First Night Worcester create a true spirit of community by providing shared cultural experiences, accessible and affordable to all.
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Please be advised that there will be a gathering at the Franklin Street fire station, 266 Franklin Street (Worcester, MA), on Thursday, December 3rd at 6:00pm to remember the Worcester Six.
District Chief Robert J. Courtney
Worcester Fire Department
Fire Prevention Division
Office: 508-799-1851

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The Central MA Housing Alliance is changing its Housing Counseling Hours effective January of 2016 to 4:30 pm to 6:30pm. Please help us spread the word so case managers and clients have enough time to be aware of the new time frame for Thursdays ONLY. Thank you!
Thank you,
Miurka Torres
Housing Counselor
6 Institute Road P. O. Box 3
Worcester, MA 01609
Tel. 508-791-7265 ext 131
Direct Line 774-243-3831

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Frank Kartheiser. writes :
December 1, 2015

Raise Up Massachusetts Submits Final Signatures for Constitutional Amendment Campaign to Raise Additional Revenue for Transportation and Public Education

Over 157,000 Signatures Collected for 2018 Constitutional Amendment

BOSTON – Workers, community members, faith leaders, transportation and education advocates, and business leaders rallied today to celebrate a successful first step in the campaign to invest in transportation and public education by creating an additional tax on annual income above $1 million. This morning, the Raise Up Massachusetts coalition rallied on the steps of the State House and submitted signatures to the Secretary of State that will advance the coalition’s constitutional amendment toward the 2018 ballot.

“With these signatures, we are moving forward our campaign to invest in better schools and safe transportation infrastructure by asking millionaires to pay their fair share,” said Maria Elena Letona, Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor. “The best way to help working families and build a stronger economy for us all is to make sure that we have quality public schools for our children, affordable higher education, and a transportation system that lets people get to work and customers get to businesses.”

This grassroots effort was made possible with the support and leadership of thousands of coalition members and unpaid volunteers across the Commonwealth, who spread the word of the campaign by hosting signature-gathering events statewide. The coalition collected over 157,000 signatures, all without using paid signature gathering companies.

“Our grassroots coalition of community, labor, and faith groups won in the Legislature with the first increase in the state minimum wage since George Bush was in office,” said Barbara Gutman of the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action (JALSA). “We won at the ballot with the strongest statewide earned sick time law in the country. Today, we take the next step towards winning in our state constitution with a tax on annual income over $1 million to make needed investments in transportation and public education.”

Local supporters have been out every day for months, talking to voters in front of supermarkets, at youth sports games, outside MBTA, bus, and commuter rail stations, at religious congregations, on busy street corners, at community events—anywhere and everywhere as they collect signatures from their neighbors and community members.

“I stood outside supermarkets on many occasions, but more importantly, we utilized our amazing grassroots membership network,” said Kamillah Hamilton, an organizer with 1199SEIU. “Our members, who work in nursing homes, hospitals, community centers, and home care, collected signatures from their co-workers, in their communities, and from their family members because we know, this is a group effort—we all had to get involved.”

The constitutional amendment would create an additional tax of four percentage points on annual income above $1 million. The more than $1.5 billion in new revenue generated by the tax could only be spent on quality public education, affordable public colleges and universities, and the repair and maintenance of roads, bridges, and public transportation. To ensure that the tax continues to apply only to the highest-income residents, the $1 million threshold would be adjusted each year to reflect cost-of-living increases.

“If passed, this amendment would make a huge difference for students in badly underfunded schools and for students in our public colleges and universities who are burdened by too much debt,” said Barbara Madeloni, President of the Massachusetts Teachers Association.

“Across the state, people need better transportation, including safer roads and bridges, public transportation that works, and safe ways to walk and bike around town,” said Kristina Egan, Director of Transportation for Massachusetts. “Right now, our transportation network is stuck in the last century. For the state to compete against other regions around the globe, we need to step up and invest in modern, reliable transportation.”

“Our tuitions and fees are among the highest in the country, and students are forced to take on enormous debt to receive a degree,” said Kimberly Selwitz, President of the Public Higher Education Network of Massachusetts (PHENOM). “We need to invest in public higher education, to make it affordable for low- and middle-income students in our state.”

The petition must now go to a Joint Session of the Legislature and be approved by 25 percent of legislators (50 votes) in 2016. The petition will then need a second approval by 25 percent of legislators in a Joint Session in 2017 or 2018 to appear on the ballot on November 6, 2018.
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