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Worcester Man Awarded $8 Million in Case v. WPD

WORCESTER - A jury has awarded Natale Cosenza, of Worcester, $8 million and $30,000 in punitive damages in a lawsuit involving two Worcester Police sergeants.

The jury found that Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst concealed evidence and fabricated evidence in the case that led to Cosenza's conviction. The jury also found that Hazelhurst and Sergeant John Doherty conspired to conceal and fabricate evidence. Six others from the Worcester Police Department were removed from the original complaint prior to trial.

Cosenza served 16 years in prison for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and armed burglary of a woman before being released in 2016.

The lawsuit claimed that DNA testing on a pair of men's shorts found in the victim's residence after the attack excluded Cosenza as the perpetrator. It alleged that police suppressed evidence to ensure that the shorts couldn't be used to exonerate Cosenza. The lawsuit also claimed that police showed the victim in the case a "grossly suggestive photo array" leading to the false identification of Cosenza as the culprit.

On May 31, 2016, a Massachusetts court vacated Cosenza's convictions and granted a new trial. On Aug. 28, 2017, a Superior Court judge suppressed the victim's identification of Cosenza, saying Hazelhurst's identification procedure was unduly suggestive.

Prosecutors moved to drop the charges on Nov. 14, 2017.

Cosenza has two daughters. His father died while he was incarcerated.

Doherty was one of the interrogators who extracted a confession from then 16-year-old Nga Truong in 2008. Truong spent three years behind bars awaiting trial before a judge determined the confession was "the product of deception, trickery and implied promises to a frightened teenager," according to WBUR. The City of Worcester settled that lawsuit in 2016 for $2.1 million.

Cosenza was represented by Loevy and Loevy, a Chicago-based civil rights law firm.

Starbucks on Grafton Street in Worcester Now Open

WORCESTER - The new Starbucks on Grafton Street in Worcester is officially open. Cars were lined around the building for the drive-thru on Saturday morning.

The new location at 966 Grafton St. opened on Saturday at the former Friendly's restaurant.

The Grafton Street Starbucks is open seven days a week from 5 AM to 9 PM. The store is currently accepting mobile and drive-thru orders.

In April, the location received a common victualer license from the Worcester License Commission. The store will have 44 seats inside and the patio area in the front of the building seats up to 16 customers.

There are nearly 50 parking spaces for customers and staff members.

The Grafton Street location is the fourth Starbucks in Worcester, with three others on Park Avenue, East Central Street and inside the Target store on Lincoln Street.

Starbucks is currently hiring for multiple positions at the Grafton Street location.

Here are the 5 Cheapest Places to Get Gas this Weekend in Worcester

  

1. Sunoco - 814 W. Boylston St. and Volkmar Road

Regular Unleaded - $3.27 per gallon

2. BP - 248 Lincoln St. and Vinton Street

Regular Unleaded – $3.28 per gallon

3. Prime Energy - 1310 Grafton St. and Southwest Cutoff

Regular Unleaded - $3.29 per gallon

4. Phillips 66 - 615 W. Boylston St. and Assumption Avenue

Regular Unleaded - $3.29 per gallon

5. Shell - 853 W. Boylston St. and Vendora Road

Regular Unleaded - $3.29 per gallon

Worcester Recycling Collection Won't Take 'Unacceptable Materials,' Plastic Bags Starting Oct. 1

WORCESTER - Starting Oct. 1, Worcester's recycling hauler and processer, Casella Waste Management of Massachusetts Inc., will no longer be collecting recycling bins that contain unacceptable materials or recycling stored in plastic bags.

Plastic bags are problematic for the large machines that do the sorting of materials back at the recycling facility.

“The most important thing for residents to understand is that plastic bags cannot be recycled,” DPW Commissioner Jay Fink said.  “Do not put recycling items in a plastic bag.  Just put all the eligible items right into the green bin and Casella will take care of the rest.”

Residents should put these eligible items inside their green recycling bins:

  • Empty and rinse metal food and beverage cans.
  • Empty and replace the cap for plastic bottles, jars, jugs, and tubs.
  • Empty and rinse glass bottles and jars.
  • Empty and flatten paper and cardboard, including newspapers, magazines, and boxes.

Materials that CANNOT be recycled in the green bin include:

  • No plastic bags, either individually or filled with materials.
  • No wax coated paper items.
  • No disposable items such as plastic cutlery, paper towels, or Styrofoam takeout food containers.
  • No food or liquid, all containers must be emptied.
  • No clothing or linens
  • No items that will tangle in the sorting machines such as hoses, electrical wires, or chains.
  • No batteries, scrap metal, pans, or aerosol cans.
  • No electronic devices or hazardous materials.
  • No ceramics or baking glass.
  • No medical waste, including gloves and masks.
  • No yard waste, such as wood or tires.

Bins that include contaminated items will be left at the curb. Residents can either bring the materials back to their homes, remove the contaminates from the bin, and put the bin out the following week, or they can take the eligible materials to the Residential Drop-Off Center at 1065 Millbury St.

“Recycling is extremely important,” Fink said. “It’s critical for us all to keep reusable materials out of the waste stream. Throwing recyclable materials into the garbage is not only expensive, in terms of disposal, but bad for the environment."

"If we all do our part by taking a few extra moments to ensure our new recycling bins contain the right items, our City can have a major impact,” Fink added.

Additional bins may be purchased for $12 starting at 20 East Worcester St. Residents can also use their own bins.

For more information, visit http://www.worcesterma.gov/trash-recycling/recycling or call the Customer Service Center at 508-929-1300.

 

Lead image courtesy: City of Worcester (Edited)

Neighborhood Watch Meetings in Worcester - October 2022

 

 

Thursday, October 6

6 PM - Burncoat/Greendale Neighborhood Meeting -  St. Michaels On-The-Heights, 340 Burncoat Street

7 PM - Webster Square Neighborhood Meeting - Our Lady of Angels Church, 1222 Main Street

Wednesday, October 12

5:30 PM - Saxon Road Neighborhood Meeting - Virtual Meeting

Wednesday, October 19

5:30 PM - Kilby St., Gardner St. and Hollis St. Neighborhood Meeting - Main South CDC, 875 Main Street

6 PM - Indian Lake Neighborhood Meeting - Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company, 55 Millbrook Street

Thursday, October 20

7 PM - Shrewsbury Street Neighborhood Meeting - Christ Baptist Church, 7 Granby Road

Thursday, October 27

6:30 PM - Columbus Park Neighborhood Meeting -  Stearns Tavern, 72 Coes Street

6:30 PM - Green Hill Neighborhood Meeting - Saint Bernard's Church, 236 Lincoln Street

7 Must-See Movies Being Released in October

In our monthly movie feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com lists the best films to look forward to that are coming each month to local theaters and streaming services like HBOMax, Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV+ and more.

In October, there are seven movies to look forward to, including the final chapter of the "Halloween" franchise, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in "Black Adam," the star-studded "Amsterdam" and "Till," based on the story of the 1955 lynching of Emmitt Till.

October 7

Amsterdam

From IMDB.com: Set in the '30s, it follows three friends who witness a murder, become suspects themselves, and uncover one of the most outrageous plots in American history.

 

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile

From IMDB.com: Feature film based on the children's book about a crocodile that lives in New York City.

 

October 14

Halloween Ends

From IMDB.com: The saga of Michael Myers and Laurie Strode comes to a spine-chilling climax in this final installment of the franchise.

 

October 21

Black Adam

From IMDB.com: Nearly 5,000 years after he was bestowed with the almighty powers of the Egyptian gods-and imprisoned just as quickly-Black Adam is freed from his earthly tomb, ready to unleash his unique form of justice on the modern world.

 

Ticket to Paradise

From IMDB.com: A divorced couple that teams up and travels to Bali to stop their daughter from making the same mistake they think they made 25 years ago.

 

October 28

Prey for the Devil

From IMDB.com: A nun prepares to perform an exorcism and comes face to face with a demonic force with mysterious ties to her past.

 

Till

From IMDB.com: Till is a profoundly emotional and cinematic film about the true story of Mamie Till Mobley’s relentless pursuit of justice for her 14 year old son, Emmett Till, who, in 1955, was lynched while visiting his cousins in Mississippi. In Mamie’s poignant journey of grief turned to action, we see the universal power of a mother’s ability to change the world.

5 Great Ways to Spend Your Weekend in Worcester

Pumpkins are out on stoops, scarecrows are decorating yards, and there’s a chill in the air - it must be October! 

This weekend marks the start of October. Start the month off fresh by planning exciting events for the weekend. ThisWeekinWorcester.com has your guide to five fabulous activities happening on Saturday and Sunday to kick off a new month. 

Harvest up some entertainment this weekend. Get lost in a corn maze or take on a LEGO building challenge. 

What is the best way to celebrate October? Oktoberfest! 

Join Rapscallion and Brimfield Winery this Saturday for Oktoberfest ‘22!

No Oktoberfest can exist without delicious drinks, and Rapscallion has you covered. They will be releasing their hand brewed O-Fest beer, and Brimfield Winery will have a selection of cider and wine. Get some food to pair with your beverage; there will be food trucks on site with a variety of options. Live music will also be playing!

The party is Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 PM. 

 

Get out your steins and lederhosen this weekend!

Celebrate Oktoberfest at the Worcester Beer Garden! True to the Oktoberfest tradition, the Beer Garden is throwing this bash all weekend long! The festivities include games, food, drinks, and more!

Stop by and join in on relay races, trivia, and their stein holding competition. Enjoy giant pretzels and fried desserts. Top it off with specialty beers on tap with locally brewed German style beers.

There is no cover charge for this event.

 

Sign your child up for a whimsical challenge!

This Saturday, The Massachusetts State Police Museum and Learning Center is hosting a LEGO building challenge. Children between the ages of 6 - 12 are encouraged to participate in the LEGO Building challenge that consists of competitions in which children will work alone, in pairs, and in groups.

The program is limited to 15 participants and the cost is $10 to cover all materials and supplies. Be sure to reserve your child’s spot in advance.

 

Fall fun is right around the corner! 

You are invited to a fall festival this Sunday! From 10 AM to 3 PM, Capen Hill Nature Sanctuary in Charlton is holding their Fall Fest.

Get excited about fall with food trucks, games, and local craft items. 

 

Life is a game! 

Does life feel like a maze sometimes? Davis Farmland will help you find your way through it this Saturday and Sunday!

The Davis Farmland Mega Maze is reopening this weekend for the season and the theme this year is the game of life. Come this Saturday and Sunday for a special hot dog and pig racing event!

Tickets purchased online are $24.95 for adults and $21.95 for children. Tickets at the door are $28.95 for adults and $25.95 for children. 

5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester - September 30

In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.

These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.

In today's edition - Friday, September 30 - grab a great deal between Worcester and New York City on JetBlue, MCAS test results are released, Massachusetts eliminates probation fees, Worcester Ice Center is now enrolling for learn to skate for tots program and the YMCA of Central Massachusetts is now enrolling for youth basketball clinics.

Fly from Worcester to NYC on JetBlue this Fall for $40

Travelers on JetBlue's direct service between Worcester and New York City can book a one-way ticket for just $40 this fall.

JetBlue is running a sale on fall travel.  Flights between Worcester and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. are also on sale for $65 each way.

To book fall travel, click here.

MCAS Results Released

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released 2022 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) results today, providing the state with its second overview of statewide learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numerical results provided by DESE are below:

Math
Grade 2021 %M/E 2022 %M/E Change M/E 21-22
3-8 33% 39% +6 percentage pts.
10 52% 50% -2 percentage pts.
Science
Grade 2021 %M/E 2022 %M/E Change M/E 21-22
5 42% 43% +1 percentage pt.
8 41% 42% +1 percentage pt.
High School 47%
English
Grade 2021 %M/E 2022 %M/E Change M/E 21-22
3-8 46% 41% -5 percentage pts.
10 64% 58% -6 percentage pts.

 

Massachusetts is the Third State to Eliminate Probation Fees

The Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS) budget, signed by Gov. Charlie Baker, included a provision to eliminate probation fees of $65 per month for the around 12,000 individual probationers in the state.  In Fiscal Year 2022, $7.9 million was collected for assessed supervision fees.

“The elimination of Probation fees removes a significant barrier to effective, evidence-based probation practice for many on our caseload. It further reduces the stress that mounting financial insecurity can bring,” said Massachusetts Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan.

Learn to Skate for Tots

The Worcester Ice Center, at 112 Harding Street, hosts skating lessons for children ages 3 to 4 years old on Saturdays for eight weeks starting now until Nov. 26.

Sessions include 25 minutes of instruction and five minutes of free skate. Helmets are required. The fee is $100. All levels are welcomed.

Visit the Worcester Ice Center website for more info.

YMCA Youth Basketball Leagues Now Enrolling

The YMCA of Central Massachusetts is enrolling youth basketball players.

The Little Ballers division is for four to six years old and is an eight-week program on Saturdays from Oct. 24 to Jan. 7. This includes two weeks of practice and six weeks of games with lower hoops. The cost is $100

The Ballers division is for grades two through nine and is a twelve-week program from Oct. 24 through Feb. 4. This includes six weeks of practice on Mondays or Tuesdays and twelve weeks of games on Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $150.

Contact program director Amie Cox, Sr., at acox@ymcaofcm.org or at (508) 755-6101 x1240 for more information.

Woman Indicted on Four Murder Charges in Gage Street Fire

WORCESTER - Worcester County District Attorney Joe Early Jr.'s office announced an indictment of a former resident of Gage Street, where four people died in a fire in May.

Yvonne Ngoiri, 36, of Worcester, was indicted on four counts of second-degree murder, two counts of arson of a dwelling, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury.

Emergency personnel responded to the Gage Street three-decker at 3:31 AM on May 14, During the four-alarm fire, a resident jumped from a window and sustained serious injuries and two other residents were hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

Joseph Garchali, 47; Christopher Lozeau, 53; Vincent Page, 41; and Marcel Fontaine, 29, all died in the fire.

According to the District Attorney's office, the origin of the fire was in the read of 2 Gage Street.

Ngiori was arrested on Thursday and is due in court for arraignment on Friday.

5 Things You Need to Know Today in Worcester - September 29

In today’s daily 5 Things You Need to Know feature, ThisWeekinWorcester.com explores five important items and stories that Worcester and Central Massachusetts residents should keep a close eye on.

These five things can cover a whole range of subjects and issues that we feel are pertinent to understanding what’s going on in the city and the cities and towns surrounding Worcester.

In today's edition - Thursday, September 29 - sign up for a free webinar on energy savings for renters, SNAP benefits recipients will see a cost-of-living increase in October, see a special screening of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" at the Elm Draught House in Millbury, there are nine upcoming opportunities to attend a healthy relationships and sexuality workshop, and Dunkin' celebrates National Coffee Day today with free coffee.

Free Webinar: Energy Savings for Renters

Mass Save is hosting a free webinar on Oct. 4, from 6 PM to 7 PM, on options for energy savings for renters.

Sign up for the webinar here.

SNAP Benefits Increase on October

Governor Charlie Baker's office announced on Wednesday that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will see an increase starting in their October 2022 benefits. Recipients can expect an increase of $25 to $30.

The benefits are adjusted to reflect the annual cost of living and promote food security. Every year, the federal government adjusts SNAP benefit amounts to keep pace with inflation. In addition, SNAP benefit levels are determined in part by the average cost of utilities for Massachusetts households.

See the Rocky Horror Picture Show in Millbury

The Elm Draught House Cinema, at 35 Elm Street in Millbury, is hosting the Rocky Horror Picture Show for one show only on Saturday, Oct.1.

Doors open at 9:30 PM and the show begins at 10 PM.

The full-length feature Rocky Horror Picture Show will be shown with a live shadow cast featuring the Teseracte Players of Boston.

Tickets are $20 and include an audience participation bag. Tickets are available here.

Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Workshop

Thrive Support & Advocacy hosts nine upcoming sessions of "Healthy Relationships and Sexuality Workshop" at 100  Grove Street, Suite 104, in Worcester.

According to Thrive, the workshops teach healthy and rewarding relationships, communication, and how to increase one's safety and advocacy within relationships.

The workshops are held on Oct. 5, 12, 19 and 26.

There are also workshops on Nov. 9, 16 and 30

The last two scheduled sessions are on Dec. 14 and 21.

Register by emailing fsactivities@icanthrive.org.

Dunkin' Celebrates National Coffee Day with Free Coffee

Dunkin' celebrates National Coffee Day today - Thursday, Sep. 29 - with a free medium coffee with any purchase for loyalty members.

To become a loyalty member, download the Dunkin' app and create an account. Members can scan their loyalty ID at checkout, order ahead on the Dunkin’ app, or pay with an enrolled Dunkin’ card on Sept. 29.

Eligible medium coffees include Dunkin' Original Blend, hot or iced, the Dunkin' Midnight hot coffee, or a Dunkin' Decaf.