5-alarm Boston church fire categorized as arson
Investigators said a five-alarm fire that heavily damaged a Boston church last weekend was arson.
Fire department spokesman Steve McDonald said the blaze at the New Fellowship Baptist Church in Dorchester early last Saturday morning had multiple points of origin.
McDonald did not provide any additional details on how the fire started.
The 1,200-member church is housed in the former Franklin Park Theater on Blue Hill Avenue.
No one was hurt in the blaze that was reported at about 1:30 a.m. last Saturday. About 130 firefighters responded. Damages are estimated at $250,000.
The church’s pastor, the Rev. Stanley Deas, said the church was insured and parishioners have already vowed to rebuild.
The use of Tasers by police in Massachusetts has soared in recent years.
The Boston Globe reported that police used Tasers in 229 incidents between September 2007 and September 2008. That’s a fourfold increase from three years ago.
Fall River police reported 45 Taser incidents last year, the most in the state, at one point firing the weapon 11 times to subdue a man his family described as mentally ill.
Police say Tasers, which deliver a five-second, 50,000-volt shock, are an effective, non-lethal way to subdue violent suspects.
Amnesty International said at least 334 people across the United States died after police used Tasers on them since 2001. The human rights group said it’s difficult to know if the Tasers caused the deaths.
Mass. students may get MCAS history reprieve
WORCESTER — This year’s high school freshmen may be dodging additional requirements on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test because of the down economy.
State education commissioner Mitchell Chester planned to ask the board of education this week to waive a requirement that students in the classes of 2012 and 2013 pass an MCAS test in history.
Chester said the state doesn’t have the money to expand the test requirements.
The state has given pilot history and social science tests in several grades both last year and in 2007.
But the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reported that Massachusetts can’t afford to give the pilot tests this spring, or next.
Chester said that without those tests, the state won’t have the information it needs to make the history tests a requirement in 2012 and 2013.
MIT to cut budget, freeze some pay raises
CAMBRIDGE — The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) plans to cut at least $50 million from its budget next year amid a dropping endowment and an expected decline in donations.
MIT President Susan Hockfield said last Thursday that senior administrators and faculty will forgo raises next year and tuition and fees will increase 3.8 percent to $37,782.
Professors and staff on the lower end of the pay scale will still receive modest raises, but the school will slow new hiring.
Meanwhile, the university will go ahead with all major building projects, including the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
3 companies pay $300K for Mass. pollution
Three companies have agreed to pay $300,000 for pollution caused by a coal tar processing plant in Everett.
State Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles and officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced the settlement last week.
Authorities say National Grid NE Holdings 2 LLC, Honeywell International Inc., and Beazer East Inc. or their predecessors all at one point ran the plant between 1890 and 1960 that released oil and other pollutants into the Island End River.
The pollution allegedly led to reduced numbers of fish species, including alewife, winter flounder, striped bass and mummichug.
Each company agreed to pay $100,000. The money will be used for environmental restoration projects.