Tag Archives: MA

Honey Farms clerk shot in the eye … Jim Altobelli will never be the same, ever

By Ron O’Clair

On April 17 a longtime employee of the Honey Farm convenience stores chain was robbed at gunpoint – and after complying with the robber’s demands to hand over the money. He was shot in the eye.

Jim Altobelli, 66, was shot by one of the two suspects who robbed the store on Vernon Hill, here in our fair city of Worcester.

Jim, who has worked at various Honey Farms store locations throughout Worcester for the last 37 years, is one of the nicest guys you ever would want to meet. I first met Jim when I drove taxi-cab here in Worcester on the overnight shift starting back in 1987.

Jim, like me, likes to work the overnight shifts. I first met him at the Highland and North Ashland Streets location that was a Honey Farm store for many years, with a Friendly’s restaurant on the same parcel of land behind the convenience store.

They tore down the original Honey Farms, and the Friendly’s and put in one of the combination gasoline stations with little businesses inside of them. There is the Sunoco Gas, the Honey Farms, and a Honey Dew Donut shop, along with a Bank of America ATM attached.

I know Jim as far as any of his customers could know him: he is an exceptionally friendly and helpful clerk who would listen to you and try to get you what you were looking for. We have a mutual interest, we both like the “Tri-Sum” potato chip brand which is made in Leominster, Massachusetts and is carried in some of the Honey Farms stores. Jim and I both agree that it is simply the best tasting potato chip on the market today! I would go to the Honey Farms store at 64-66 Vernon Street on the way home from Twin Rivers with one of my tenants, big Mike, who would come along with me when I went for company, and to help me spend my bonus rewards points at the casino. The Vernon Street store always carried the large bag of “Tri-Sum” chips, and I would get one whenever I came back from the casino, even if I lost.

When I was doing my research in preparation of doing this story, I faced a wall of indifference to the right of the people to know the details of this incident. The Honey Farms Corporate Headquarters would not release any information for me to use in this story. The Human Resources Vice President, Ms. Shelia Smith was unavailable for comment.

There is a collection being made if you feel like donating to the James Altobelli rehabilitation fund, you may make checks or money orders out to James Altobelli and send them to the Honey Farms Corporate Headquarters, 505 Pleasant Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01609 care of Shelia Smith and they will go to help Jim in his recovery, which will be long and painful, and most of all: expensive.

I was able to ascertain that Jim was released today from inpatient care and will have a period of convalescing at his own home. I am not sure if Jim will ever be behind the counter of another Honey Farms store – no one will release any information and I had to dig hard to get what I have reported here.

The Worcester Police, aside from refusing to release any information at all on this case, which they say is still under investigation, did manage to apprehend and charge one of the two suspects in the shooting/robbery. Jaiquan Harris was arraigned on charges resulting from the robbery on the 17th where Jim got shot, and also on charges related to a robbery from the day before at the 443 Park Avenue Honey Farms store where apparently no one was injured.

These boys could have killed Jim. As it is, they have made him sure to suffer from this for the rest of his life. And for what? A fist full of dollars?

Is any amount of money worth a person’s life, or their livelihood?

Our society puts too much value on material goods. It seems that everyone wants that almighty dollar and thinks that it will bring them happiness if they have some $$$ in their pocket. I am willing to bet that this kid wanted the stolen money to buy some drugs with it and get high.

And the price paid for him to get high? Jim Altobelli. Jim will never be the same, ever.

How many more Jim’s will have to suffer before we eradicate drug usage in our society and start teaching youths about civic duty, responsibility and the old standby – what comes around, goes around?

I wish James Altobelli the very best! I will be sending my check towards his recovery in the mail by the time this story gets posted. Please help Jim get the care and treatment he needs and donate to the fund!

Thank you, Ronald L. O’Clair.

If you liked this, or if you hated this, please tell me: ronaldoclair@hotmail.com

Homeless youth in Massachusetts need your help!

In the State of Massachusetts, it’s estimated that more than 6,000 students
under the age of 24 are experiencing homelessness without the support of a
parent or legal guardian. These are the unaccompanied youth. Without a safe,
permanent place to sleep at night, young people are far more likely suffer
from poor academic performance, to drop out of school, to be exploited or
sexually abused, take part in high risk behavior such as substance use, and
experience some kind of bodily harm or violence.

As the number of young people experiencing homelessness continues to grow,
finding adequate housing options and supportive services becomes more

But there is hope! House Bill 135 is a bill currently under review that
would provide funding to begin addressing the tragic circumstances of
unaccompanied youth. This Bill would allow providers in Massachusetts to
offer the kinds of services that unaccompanied youth desperately need to end
the cycle of homelessness.

On July 16th, House Bill 135 will presented at hearing at the State House in
Boston, Room B2, at 1pm. This is an important part of the Democratic
process, wherein members of the community can come and speak directly to the
legislators, explaining why it’s important to pass this Bill.

We need your help! We cannot do this without you!

If you know a youth who would like to give testimony, would like to give
testimony yourself, or are available to show up and stand in solidarity,

We need people to speak and we need people just to stand in the room with

If you need help putting together your testimony, we are enthusiastic to
help! Please don’t hesitate to contact us!

But if you can’t be there that day, you can still help! Call your senators
and local representatives, urging them to support this Bill. Write a letter
to the editor, explaining why it’s imperative that your representatives
support this bill. Let people know that this is happening, spread the word!

Please contact your legislators and ask them to convey their support to the
Conference Committee and to Leadership to actively support the bill!

To find out who your representative is, follow this link!



Ali Brauner or Exa Mendez at Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

781 595 7570 ex 16



Here is a bit of information regarding House Bill 135!

To view the language of the Bill:


For a written fact sheet regarding the provisions of this Bill:


For information regarding the Budget:

Budget Campaign fact sheet


Unemployment Rate at 6.6 Percent

BOSTON The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development today reported that the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) preliminary estimates show that Massachusetts added 3,500 jobs in May and the total unemployment rate slightly increased to 6.6 percent.


Trade, Transportation, and Utilities; Construction; Financial Activities; Professional, Scientific, and Business Services; Other Services; and Education and Health Services added jobs in May. In the first five months of 2013, Massachusetts added 14,500 jobs. Over the year, Massachusetts added 49,600 jobs, 46,900 of which were in the private sector.


Over the year, the unemployment rate was down 0.1 of a percentage point from the May 2012 rate of 6.7 percent. Revised BLS estimates show 3,300 jobs lost in April.

May 2013 Employment Overview

Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 2,000 (+0.4%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Trade, Transportation, and Utilities added 3,600 (+0.7%) jobs.


Construction gained 1,000 (+0.9%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Construction has added 5,000 (+4.4%) jobs.


Financial Activities added 900 (+0.4%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Financial Activities shed 800 (-0.4%) jobs.


Professional, Scientific, and Business Services added 900 (+0.2%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Professional, Scientific, and Business Services added 16,000 (+3.3%) jobs.

Other Services gained 900 (+0.7%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Other Services added 3,500 (+2.9%) jobs.


Education and Health Services added 800 (+0.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Education and Health Services gained 16,600 (+2.4%) jobs.


Manufacturing lost 1,200 jobs (-0.5%) over the month. Over the year, Manufacturing lost 3,500 (-1.4%) jobs.


Leisure and Hospitality lost 900 (-0.3%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Leisure and Hospitality added 4,700 jobs (+1.5%).


Information lost 600 (-0.7%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Information gained 1,900 (+2.2%) jobs.


Government lost 200 (0.0%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Government gained 2,700 (+0.6%) jobs.

Labor Force Overview

The May 2013 estimates show 3,251,200 Massachusetts residents were employed and 230,500 were unemployed, for a total labor force of 3,481,700. The May labor force increased by 8,900 from 3,472,800 in April 2013, as 1,100 more residents were employed and 7,800 more residents were unemployed over the month. The labor force was an estimated 7,600 above the 3,474,100 May 2012 estimate, with 9,500 more residents employed and 1,900 fewer residents unemployed.


The unemployment rate is based on a monthly sample of households. The job estimates are derived from a monthly sample survey of employers. As a result, the two statistics may exhibit different monthly trends.


Libby, the WPL bookmobile, schedule for the remainder of June

In this issue of InCity Times we highlight the lovely LIBBY, WPLibrary’s bookmobile. (Great pics, Jeff!) Libby makes stops in all our fave neighborhoods! Here is the schedule for the rest of the month. – R. Tirella

Libby schedule for the remainder of June is as follows:

Tuesday: June 18

9:15 – 12:00: Worcester Islamic Center Alhuda

2:00 – 3:00: Lincoln Park Towers

3:30 – 4:30: Green Island Neighborhood Center


Wednesday: June 19

9:15 – 12:00: Caradonio Citizen Center

2:00 – 3:00: Greenwood Gardens

3:30 – 4:30: Plumley Village


Thursday: June 20

2:00 – 3:00: Youville House (Granite St.)

3:30 – 4:30: St. Agnes Guild (Granite St.)


Friday: June 21

9:15 – 12:00: Elms @Briarwood and Birches & Briarwood

2:00 – 3:00: Girls, Inc.

3:30 – 4:30: St. Agnes Gld (Croydon St.)


June 24-28

Monday: June 24

2:00 – 3:00: Coes Pond Village

3:30 – 4:30: Golden Living Center


TuesdayJune 25

2:00 – 3:00: Emmanuel Village

3:30 – 4:30: Lakeside Apartments

Wednesday: no stops. Vehicle maintenance.


Thursday: June 27

2:00 – 3:00: Webster Sq Towers

3:30 – 4:30: Jewish Community Center


Friday: June 28

2:00 – 3:00: Mayside Apartments

3:30 – 4:30: Friendly House


Bombings, terrorists, madmen …

… and here we are in Worcester, stuck with the Boston Marathon mass murderer. Don’t believe Peter Stefan of Graham,  Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home – he IS doing this FOR PUBLICITY.  FREE WORLD-WIDE  publicity. 80% free publicity – 20% caring for the unwanted. Pathetic. Shame on him, putting Worcester and the Main South neighborhood through this hellish circus.   – R. Tirella

Pulitzer prize: A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son

A Syrian man cries while holding the body of his son near Dar el-Shifa hospital in Aleppo in October 2012. The boy was killed by the Syrian government forces

to see more photos, click here

InCity Voices: UMass Medical Center – outrageous prices and the run-around

By Daniela Munoz Maines

My name is Daniela. I am writing this [letter] because I am very frustrated and I would like my story to be known to others. Specially others that might be in our same situation.

My husband and I live in Oxford. Masshealth has qualified us to be on Health Safety Net Partial. Health Safety Net is a program for low or moderate income people who do not have access to health insurance or cannot afford it. In the case of HSN Partial, this means we are responsible for a portion, or all the costs of medical services till we meet our deductible, which is set by Masshealth according to our income. It is not clear to us in which circumstances we have to pay 100% of the costs, or a portion. It is also not clear how much of a portion that would be. The Health Safety Net help line informs that the hospitals and/or community centers are the ones that determine that. However, I can tell you that in a recent visit to UMASS Medical Center Hahnemman campus, I could hardly find any information at all.

Furthermore, when I tried to find out the price for an ultrasound, it was quite a challenge. My doctor’s office did not have access to prices, the billing department did not have access either and financial counseling directed me to a one single person who could give me that information. As you see, it took me phone calls to 3 different departments till I got to the right place. But this didn’t end here. This person needed a CPT code in able to give me a price. So there was I again on the phone, calling my doctor’s office, then radiology, to find out the code. In both instances they told me they did not have access to the CPT codes. I did some research online and found out that CPT codes are only available for a fee. After doing online searches for hours, I came across a report which had the CPT code for the ultrasound I needed.

Finally I got the price………. sort of. This person was able to give me the price for the hospital fee but wasn’t able to give me the price for the additional interpretation of the results. In any case, the price she quoted me was $706, when at other health centers was around $200. I decided to have the ultrasound done at a different facility, for which I needed the order from my doctor’s office at Hahnemman. And here we go again…………………2 days and several phone calls to make this happen. It is clear to me that the hospital makes a concerted effort not to disclose their prices while at the same time trying to keep you from going somewhere else.

In addition, I received a bill for the appointment, 2 lab tests and a flu shot for $759. After further scrutiny of each charge, I found them to be, again, 3 to 5 times more than fair market value, based on information provided by http://healthcarebluebook.com/. I also checked with Quest labs for pricing, which, I was informed, had bought the hospitals labs. The hospital charged me $450 for a TSH test for which Quest labs charges $120.60. They’ve also charged me $154 for a Vitamin D 25 test. When I confronted the hospital billing department with their pricing, the response, via email, was:” Umass goes by the Federal Law guidelines”. Interestingly, in a conversation with a financial lead, he said it was the state which regulated the prices. When I asked what that regulation exactly was, no one could give me a response. So I searched myself, and I could only find regulation 114.3 at http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/laws-regs/hhs/regs.html#114_6_13. Specifically 114.3 CMR 20.00 lists a TSH test (CPT 84443) $17.98 and Vitamin D 25 (CPT 82306) $31.68. I sent an email to http://www.mass.gov/chia/ requesting additional information on any other regulations not posted in their website, but I don’t have an answer as of now.

I’ve also started a petition http://signon.org/sign/your-right-to-know-hospital?source=c.fwd&r_by=4767040 which, I am hoping will get more signatures in the near future.

So my point is: People on Health Safety Net, like us, are precisely the ones that should not be charged prices that are 3/5 times more than fair market value. But more importantly, these people have the right to know the prices before they accept them. There is no other business that can get away with not disclosing it’s fees prior to providing services…none. Why are hospitals different?

I do not know if all hospitals give you the round-around as UMASS does, but I do know that somebody should do something about this.

Re: Worcester Wonderland blogger = Claude Dorman (writing as Will WW) filing false police reports

Claude Dorman, the Worcester Wonderland blogger (Will WW), leaving the Worcester courthouse last month.

Claude (Will WW) filed two (TWO!) reports with the Worcester Police Dept. on Steve, a man he has never met, a man who has never caused Claude any harm, a man for whom Cluade created CRIMES. False, false, false. Here is a portion of Steve’s letter to the attorney general’s office re: Claude Dorman (Will WW) of 38 Sever St., Worcester. I have made some sentences bold.   – R. Tirella:

  1. In the redacted letter of January 9, 2013 shown at M-135 the blogmaster wrote: “I have filed two incident reports with the police.” I believe this is directly related to question of my discharge. I would like copies of any police reports [XXXX] has in their possession regarding this information.


  1. In his letter to you, [XXXX] stated: “However, the IT Department did have such documents and provided them once this letter was received and a search was done to ensure all responsive documents were produced.” If I have not been given ALL the IT documents in [XXX]’s possession, I would like [XXXX] to state that in writing. If they have other documents I should be sent copies.


  1. Chapter 149 Section 52C contains a loosely written phrase that a personnel file must include “any other documents relating to disciplinary action regarding the employee.”
  2. Unfortunately, the state legislature did not define what “documents’ meant in this context. Nor does the Code of Massachusetts Regulations. I could not find any advisory on the Attorney General’s web site.

The central focus in this matter is my use of the company computer. That was the basis of the decision to discharge me and suspend me. I would therefore like to narrow the focus to those relevant emails can be retrieved at the least expense of time to [XXX]. I would like to request that {XXX] provided the following:

  1. Copies of emails to [XX] and [XX] from the IT department on the investigation.


  1. Copies of emails from the IT department to the HR representatives present where I was suspended.


  1. Copies of the emails between [XXX] and [XXX] discussing the decision to suspend and terminate me. This are key documents regarding my discharge and ultimately were the records on which the decision was made.


I request that [XXX] submit an evidence log, listing all the files above it has, which ones were released, and their grounds for not releasing them

Thank you! I am attaching list of the documents in this letter, in the event you want to send it to [XXX] asking them the documents to me.

Sincerely yours,




  1. Internally produced [XXX] studies, which evaluate the allegations by Mr. Dorman, be they written or electronic.


  1. Identify the HR representative who wrote the handwritten notes on M-151 and M-152 and the date they were written.


  1. Any police reports [XXX] has in their possession regarding Steven R. Maher.


Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital celebrates Women’s History Month

Activities aimed to help Female Veterans learn more about the services available to them at Bedford VAMC

Bedford – Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital (Bedford VAMC) is hosting a Women’s Tea to celebrate Women’s History Month on March 28,  2 p.m.,  at Bedford VAMC’s Canteen Service Dining Room, located in building 78.

The event will feature a presentation by Air Force Captain Joyce Massello, Retired Reserves, a decorated Vietnam Veteran who served as a flight nurse.   Following Captain Massello’s presentation, there will be an opportunity to socialize and enjoy the displays highlighting women in history, including Edith Nourse Rogers.

The recent growth of female Veterans accessing VA health care has outpaced that of the male Veteran population. VA is stepping up to meet the needs of a growing women Veteran population by enhancing primary care to meet their needs. This is a major undertaking for VA.

“It’s all about personalizing care for our women Veterans so that everything we do supports a patient–centered approach benefiting the Veteran,” said Christine Croteau, acting director at Bedford VAMC. “We are pleased to showcase the services offered at Bedford and to partner with our patient population to provide the care that best meets their specific health care needs.”

The Women’s Tea serves as an important way to highlight female Veterans’ contributions to history, and more specifically, Edith Nourse Rogers, for whom the hospital is named. Bedford VAMC was the first VA hospital named after a woman. Edith Nourse Rogers was the first Congresswomen from New England and was dedicated to Veterans’ issues.  She introduced the unprecedented bill to establish the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1941. When the law passed in 1942, it opened up military service to thousands of women in countless occupations other than nursing.  Edith Nourse Rogers dedicated her life to Veterans’ issues for more than 40 years.  The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps was just one of her many accomplishments, which also included the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (commonly known as the G.I. Bill) which provided educational and financial benefits for soldiers returning home from World War II.