Ladybug Trek ends today!

Today is your last chance to take part in the Ladybug Trek!

ladybugtrek

Use the TrekSolver app on your smartphone to play the small business scavenger hunt – at each participating business, solve a clue to unlock a special deal or coupon. Every clue solved gives you another entry into the main raffle, for a chance to win over $1,100 worth of gift cards to local businesses! No matter what, playing the Ladybug Trek is a great way to get to know some local gems that you might otherwise have missed, so if you haven’t downloaded the app yet, do it today and get into the Trek while you can.

Why now is a great time to buy

If you’re a renter, you’ve probably heard lots of people saying that now is the time to buy. As a Realtor®, I firmly believe that the best time to buy is when you want to buy, but if you’ve been thinking about it and aren’t sure you’re ready, here are a few reasons why it makes sense to make the move now.

Although prices have risen substantially since the market hit bottom, they still aren’t back up to the historic highs of 2005 and 2006. Buying now means that as prices continue to rise, you’ll build equity even faster than you would just by making your regular mortgage payment. Home equity is a huge financial asset when it comes time for retirement, so by buying a home, you’re essentially putting yourself on an automatic retirement savings plan. Historically, real estate appreciation has outpaced inflation, so even if you aren’t thinking about retirement yet, Future You will definitely be grateful to Current You if you buy now.

What’s even better news is that mortgage rates are still the lowest they’ve been in the last 40 years, so buying now keeps your interest rate low no matter what rates may do in the future. That means that over the life of your loan, you’ll pay less than you would if rates were higher. Keep in mind also that no matter what prices and rates do, you get to deduct your mortgage interest on your taxes, which reduces your taxable income. By continuing to rent, you’re putting all of that money in your landlord’s pocket when it could be going into your own.

Most of all, though, when you buy a home, it’s yours. Paint the walls red if you like, and no one will say a word (except maybe your significant other, but that one’s on you). Have a bunch of dogs or cats (or maybe both). Live with whoever you want. You have to live somewhere, after all, and you want to live somewhere that makes you happy to come home. Why not buy a place and have the freedom to make it truly your own?

Franklin Community Garden Event – Pollinator Talk, June 28

The Franklin Community Gardens will be hosting local beekeeper Ed Szymanski this Sunday, June 28 at 11 AM for a fun and informative talk about pollinators!  Join us to meet Ed and learn more about the pollinators’ role in making the community gardens grow successfully, and find out what you can do to attract and encourage these helpful creatures in your own garden.

Ed’s bees – © Ed Szymanski

This event is free, but if you plan to attend, please RSVP to franklincommunitygardens@gmail.com so we have a rough head count.  Ed will be preparing some handouts for the event and we’d like to make sure we have enough.

The Franklin Community Gardens are located at the King Street Memorial Park. Hope to see you there!

Downtown Streetscape Update – June 23, 2015

From the office of Town Administrator Jeff Nutting, here’s the latest update on the downtown construction…

“Downtown Project Update #5
The binder course (base coat) will be put down on Summer Street on July 1 or 2 depending on the weather.

The binder course will be put down on High Street and Main Street from Pleasant to School Street during the same time period.
Main Street at Church Square, Monday, June 22.
High Street on Monday, June 22.
They will begin replacing the Emmons Street sidewalk at the end of this week or next week.
Work at the corner of Emmons and West Central Street (old municipal building) will commence next week, including the installation of the traffic light bases.
The period lighting bases installation will continue over the summer at several locations.
The sidewalk reconstruction of West Central Street will begin mid to late July.
If anyone has a question please feel free to reach out to the DPW Director, Brutus Cantoreggi or Town Engineer, Michael Maglio at 508-553-5500 or Maxine at 508-520-4949.”

– See more at: http://www.franklindowntownpartnership.org/2015/06/downtown-streetscape-project-update-5.html#sthash.INU8xu2z.dpuf

#ShopFranklin Spotlight – Drama Kids of Metro West

For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I met with Susie Cristiano, the owner/director of Drama Kids of Metro West!

Drama Develops Kids Logo

With a degree in theater and fifteen years’ experience teaching, Susie was the perfect fit for Drama Kids when she came across the job posting. “I clicked on it and it was everything I’ve always wanted to do,” Susie says. That was five years ago, and Drama Kids of Metro West has been going strong ever since. Since Drama Kids is an international franchise (known as the Helen O’Grady Drama System outside the United States), Susie is guaranteed a protected territory, but the rest of the business is her own. Susie has found that “scheduling-wise, having my own space works out the best,” so her home base is the Drama Kids studio in Franklin where she teaches almost every day. Other towns aren’t left out, though; Susie works with several MetroWest towns and teachers to run Drama Kids classes there, and she makes sure to visit those classes on a regular basis “to make sure everybody’s having fun!”

© Susie Cristiano

© Susie Cristiano

Unlike other local theater programs, which are more traditionally based on specific productions, Susie describes the Drama Kids program as “drama classes for personal growth.” Susie’s hour-long classes provide an opportunity for her students to take part in five or six different activities per class, including improvisation development, speech and movement skills, large and small group work, scene and character development, and more. Perhaps most importantly, Drama Kids classes provide the students with opportunities to “develop new friendships and create bonds that feel like family.” Because the Drama Kids program is mainly improv-based, with few scripted or structured activities like memorizing lines, it works well for students at all levels. “There really isn’t a typical student,” says Susie. “We have shy kids, we have outgoing kids, anybody can do Drama Kids.” However, Susie has found that Drama Kids’ supportive, “safe space” environment is particularly good at helping more timid students become comfortable speaking and performing in front of others. “It’s amazing how many personalities I’ve seen change over the last five years,” Susie says. As a former “painfully shy” kid herself, Susie often “jokes with the kids – ‘I get nervous too! I have to stand up here and talk to your parents!’ They’re like ‘Oh, Miss Susie, you’ll be fine!’”

Although Drama Kids isn’t production-focused, the students do get a chance to put on an end-of-year performance to show their friends and families what they’ve been learning all year. The performance doesn’t involve “big grandiose shows” or musical theater; “I do NOT sing!” Susie laughs. Instead, each age group performs a 15 to 20-minute play, written by Drama Kids’ founder Helen O’Grady. The plays are scripted, but still stay true to Drama Kids’ improvisational nature. According to Susie, “nobody is the star of the show,” and the plays are written so that the students have the “freedom to develop their characters the way they want to.” If a particular student wants a smaller part, for example, some of his or her lines can be easily redistributed to other characters, and casting is done by students’ preference and not by traditional auditions. This year’s show was a smashing success; the youngest group, kindergarten to second grade, put on a play entitled “Pirates Beware!” and the third and fourth graders performed “Mystery Under the Big Top.” The oldest students, middle through high school, pulled off a 1920s-style melodrama called “The Triumph of Trevor Truelove.”

© Susie Cristiano

© Susie Cristiano

With plays and activities that can grow and develop with the kids, it’s no surprise that Drama Kids has long-term, devoted students. This year, Susie gave away two five-year trophies to students who’ve been with her since the beginning of her business. Although it’s more difficult for her middle and high school students to keep up with Drama Kids and their own schools’ theater programs, a few of them have made it work. Some of Susie’s students take Drama Kids classes in the fall, perform in their school plays in the winter, and then come back to Drama Kids in the spring for the big end-of-year performance. Once the school year ends, Drama Kids runs summer camps, and Susie also has the freedom to create new classes whenever the demand is there.

A California native, Susie settled in Franklin in 2007 because its small, tight-knit community felt like the town where she grew up. “When I first moved here and found Franklin, I was like ‘I have to live here because it reminds me of home,’” Susie says. Franklin’s growth over the years hasn’t taken away its small-town feeling for Susie, and she’s especially drawn to its large and diverse arts community which provides so many opportunities for kids; “it’s not just a sports town.” With Drama Kids around, it’s definitely going to stay that way.

The Drama Kids studio is located at 19 Dean Avenue. Check out Drama Kids online and on Facebook for more information, class schedules, and upcoming events!

Franklin Downtown Partnership – Shop Local Press Release

If you live in Franklin or visit frequently (or even read this blog), you know the downtown construction is underway! In order to encourage the Franklin community to keep supporting local businesses despite the inconvenience caused by the roadwork, the Franklin Downtown Partnership has issued the following press release:

“Partnership Encourages Residents to Shop Local During Construction

The Franklin Downtown Partnership wants to remind everyone to shop locally during the downtown Franklin roadway and streetscape improvement project.

The Partnership is working with the Town of Franklin to communicate construction updates in an effort to help residents get around downtown more easily. The FDP is also collaborating with local groups like the Small Shop Co-Op, the #ShopFranklin – Supporting Small Business Facebook group, and WMRC First Class Radio to help encourage residents to shop locally.

“If you have a favorite business or restaurant, please make that extra effort to visit them frequently. Traffic issues, like the harsh winter, can affect a business’s bottom line. It’s important that we all be patient with the process and help these businesses thrive,” says Partnership President Nicole Fortier.

The $7.25 million, state-funded improvement project began in mid April. When finished, residents will see two-way traffic, improvements designed to slow traffic and increase pedestrian safety, and aesthetic improvements like plantings, greenspace and new lighting.

The FDP will help communicate the Town of Franklin’s construction updates about parking, alternate routes and road closures on its website, franklindowntownpartnership.org, and on its Twitter feed and Facebook page.

“The Partnership is also collaborating with local groups to help encourage people to shop locally. There are several great promotions and ‘shop local’ efforts happening in Franklin this spring, and we will help get the word out about them. Businesses are working very hard to earn and keep your business,” says Lisa Piana, the Downtown Partnership’s executive director.

One example of that collaboration is the Small Shop Co-Op, created by The Cake Bar co-owners Tracie Turinese and Angie McMillan. The co-op has launched the Lady Bug Trek scavenger hunt. Using a smartphone app, shoppers will visit participating local businesses and compete to win prizes.

“We are all working toward making this construction process go as smoothly as possible for our businesses and residents. The Streetscape project is a key component to the revitalization of downtown Franklin, which the Downtown Partnership has been working toward since 2001. Ultimately a strong downtown is good for the whole community,” adds Piana.

The Franklin Downtown Partnership is a nonprofit, 501c3 organization made up of business owners, community leaders and residents working together to stimulate economic development downtown and create a positive impact throughout the area. The FDP runs the annual Strawberry Stroll, Harvest Festival and Holiday Stroll, and is involved in economic development, beautification, streetscape and greenspace design, and networking initiatives.

The FDP currently has over 200 members and welcomes all businesses and residents. For more information, go to www.franklindowntownpartnership.org, or contact Executive Director Lisa Piana at (774) 571-3109 or downtown.franklin@yahoo.com.”

Franklin Community Garden June Update

From the Franklin Community Garden Committee, here’s the latest update on what’s going on at the Community Gardens:

franklincommunitygarden

“Hello Gardeners,

The garden is looking good as we move into the middle of June.

Open Registration for Additional Beds
We still have a handful of open beds in the garden. At the last committee meeting we decided to open the registration on these gardens to existing gardeners, allowing you to obtain and additional bed if you so choose. This bed would only be available for this season, and when you renew next year you’d need to choose which you’d like to keep. If you are interested in an additional bed please visit the Recreation department to register.
Future Work Days for the 2015 Season
 
  • June 28th
  • July 18th  – Will include a tutorial on tomato plant maintenance and diseases.
  • July 26th
  • August 8th – Will include a tutorial on fall planting
  • August 23rd
  • October 12th
  • October 27th
Sluggo Plus
 
There was a discussion at the last committee meeting about the prevalence of cutworms in the garden this spring, along with additional pests. One of the potential remedies would be to apply Sluggo Plus to the garden beds, but for it to have long term results it would need to be garden wide. There are conflicting reports on its toxicity to some beneficial critters such as bees and earthworms.

We will discuss this further at the next committee meeting, so if you have any strong feelings on the subject please let us know or attend.

As always if you have any questions let us know!

Sincerely,
Chris Clay & The Franklin Community Garden Committee”