How 'Last Resort' MBTA Cuts Will Affect Area: Patch PM

Alex Newman

It's Friday, Nov. 13. Here's what Patch has been covering in Middlesex County and across Massachusetts today.

Proposed MBTA Cuts 'Last Resort' As Agency Faces $579M Budget Gap

Proposed service reductions are a "last resort" for the MBTA, which is facing a $579 million budget gap in Fiscal Year 2022, officials said. At a virtual meeting Thursday night, the agency laid out how planned cuts will impact the Minuteman region, which includes Medford, Arlington, Burlington, Belmont, Lexington and Bedford.

"I want to emphasize that we do not want to reduce service," Deputy General Manager Jeff Gonneville said.

The MBTA took a three-pronged approach to addressing the budget shortfall – evaluating all internal spending to reduce expenditures, reallocating funds from the capital budget to support the operating budget and, lastly, prioritizing essential transit services while reducing service on others. Officials stressed that cuts came only after the agency had exhausted the first two options.

"This is not just a six-month or one-year budget crisis. It's a sustained budget crisis," Kat Benesh, the MBTA's chief of Operations Strategy, Policy, and Oversight, said.

The pandemic torpedoed the MBTA's ridership, and four months after Massachusetts started reopening, the agency is still at a fraction of its pre-COVID levels. The MBTA averages about 330,000 trips on a weekday, while running roughly the same amount of service it ran a year ago to serve 1.3 million trips.

Read more here.

Elsewhere in Middlesex County

Give Back This Season: Middlesex County Food Pantries

As the holiday season kicks into full gear, it's easy to get caught up in the shopping madness and chaos, but at the center of season is being thankful and giving back. What better way to make holiday memories with your family than by getting together and making a difference in your community.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the already big problem of food insecurity in Massachusetts. As families rethink their holiday plans to stay safe and socially distant, others in the Commonwealth are trying to secure where their next meal will come from.

'Mask Up Reading' Campaign Launched As COVID-19 Cases Rise

The Reading Public Health Department is launching the "Mask Up Reading" awareness campaign as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state. The town has remained moderate risk, but health officials said they are seeing a "concerning increase" in coronavirus cases.

"Mask Up Reading" aims to help keep community awareness high, provide guidance on a continual basis and render aid as needed. Notifications will appear on the website, social media pages, SeeClickFix City notices, email notices and on signs across town.

New Malden Barbershop Opens In Longtime Gabby's Space

A new barbershop recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate its opening in the former Gabby's Barbershop space. My Pals Barbershop replaced the Edgeworth mainstay, which closed in September after nearly 60 years.

My Pals owner Dominique Peña said John Angelo, owner of Gabby's, inspired her own career.
"His shop was home to many grateful people over the years, making each and every customer feel like family and his recent retirement left many of us feeling empty," Peña said in a statement. "I hope to continue the great legacy of Gabby's Barbershop."

Across Massachusetts

DCU Center Coronavirus Field Hospital Reopening: Gov. Baker

The field hospital at Worcester's DCU Center will reopen in December to house coronavirus patients, an indication that increasing cases are close to overwhelming local hospitals.

The DCU Center hospital will reopen in the first week of December, Gov. Charlie Baker announced on Friday. The hospital will have capacity for 240 patients. The first iteration of the hospital had 250 beds.

Boston Marathon Runner Sculpture Takes Shape In Newton

A couple near the corner of Grant and Commonwealth avenues, halfway up Heartbreak Hill, had to take down a large tree on their front lawn.

Rather than grind the trunk to dust, they decided to have an artist turn it into a sculpture for the community. So what does a homeowner along a key part of the Boston Marathon route choose for a sculpture?

That's not a hard call.

For the past couple of days, Ken Packie of Berkshire Mountain Sculpture has been working to transform the old maple tree into the form of a marathon runner. He's attracted quite the response.

Tribal Leader, RI Man Accused Of Casino Bribery Scheme

The chairman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and a Rhode Island business owner were indicted on federal bribery charges in connection with plans to build a casino in Taunton.

David DeQuattro, 54, a Warwick resident and the owner of an architecture firm, and Cedric Cromwell, 55, of Attleboro, the tribe's chairman, were each indicted on two counts of accepting or paying bribes as an agent or to an agent of an Indian tribal government and one count of conspiring to commit bribery.

Cromwell was additionally charged with four counts of extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiring to commit extortion. Both are set to appear in court via videoconference on Friday afternoon.

Donnie Wahlberg Leaves $2,020 Tip At Cape Cod Restaurant

Actor Donnie Wahlberg made a server's day when he tipped more than $2,000 on a $35 lunch tab at a Cape Cod restaurant.

Last Saturday, the Boston actor visited Marshland Restaurants and Bakery in Sandwich for a meal. Before leaving, Wahlberg gave a $2,020 tip, writing at the bottom of the receipt, "#2020tipchallenge."

This article originally appeared on the Medford Patch