The Massachusetts Homestead Act and Bankruptcy

I. The Homestead – A Product of State Law

The Massachusetts Homestead Act allows a homeowner to acquire an estate of Homestead to the amount of $ 500,000 with respect to a home owner’s primary residence. This allows the owner to claim the first $ 500,000 of equity in his or her home above the mortgages that the owner has placed on the property. Homestead Declarations are for primary residences only and do not apply to vacation homes or investment property.
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The following are exempt from the Homestead Law:

1. federal, state and local taxes, assessments, claims, and liens;
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2. mortgages used to purchase the residence, and in the case of the Elderly Homestead, first and second mortgages held by financial institutions or others;
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3. an execution issued from the Probate Court to enforce its jurisdiction that a spouse pay for the support of a spouse or minor children;
4. upon an execution issued from a court of competent jurisdiction to enforce its jurisdiction based upon fraud, mistake, duress, undue influence or lack of capacity;
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5. debts contracted prior to the acquisition of the Homestead
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There is also no protection for recovery of expenses for nursing home care paid for by the government.
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Therefore, if you have a Homestead and you’re in an automobile accident and your insurance is insufficient your home will not be exposed to the amount of $ 500,000. The same is true of dog bites, drowning in pools, slip and falls and professional liability claims.
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It is important to note, that Homestead protection is not a substitution for home insurance or any other type of liability insurance. These are separate and distinct types of protection. The Homestead protection will be effective after any liability insurance is used to pay for any judgments that are related to liability incurred under that particular insurance policy (eg, home, automobile, etc.).
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There are actually two sections of the Homestead Act. Under Section 1 all individuals may obtain a Homestead. Section 1A applies only to the elderly (more than 62) and disabled. A key difference between the sections is that Section 1A mentions obtaining a Homestead in manufactured mobile homes, while Section 1 does not.
State courts have not yet interpreted whether the right to claim a Homestead in a mobile home is limited to the elderly and disabled. Also, Section 1 extends protection to the declarant’s spouse and children, while Section 1A protects only the declarant’s interest in the home. Where a declaration is filed under Section 1, only one owner may file. Under Section 1A, all owners more than 62 should file a Declaration to protect their interests.
All Homesteads must be filed in the county in which the residence is located. To acquire a claim of Homestead for a mobile home under Section 1A, you must file at the city or town clerk’s office in the city or town in which the mobile home is located. Massachusetts Homesteads are not automatic. A Declaration must be recorded to obtain Homestead rights.
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II. Bankruptcy

In a MA Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is an asset liquidation proceeding, a homeowner is allowed to claim certain exemptions which function as asset protection allowances. If a Homestead Declaration is in place, and the state exemptions are claimed, a homeowner would be permitted to retain a much greater portion of the proceeds from a liquidation sale of the home ($ 500,000) than she or he would be allowed to keep under federal bankruptcy law exemptions ($ 20,200). This factor in turn decrees or eliminates the possibility that the homeowner would be required to sell his / her home as part of MA Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings. The state exemptions in other categories are low compared to the federal exemptions. For example, the state automobile exemption is $ 700 and the federal $ 3,225.
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The goal of a MA Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to wipe out (“discharge”) your debts. In exchange for having your debts erased, you must give up all your nonexempt property to your creditors. You need only give up your nonexempt property. For most people, once the proper exemptions are applied, this amounts to nothing. In many cases, much or all of your property may be exempt. The debtor and their attorney elect to use state or federal exemptions prior to the MA bankruptcy filing.

If an individual has more property than can be protected by available exemptions, or their income is too high to qualify for a Chapter 7 case, or if they are delinquent in a debt secured by property they wish to retain, a Chapter 13 case can be filed. In MA Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, the court will require a homeowner to repay some or all of the unsecured debts over a three to five-year period required to a plan. The debtor is required to repay a percentage of that debt at least equal to that which the unsecured creditors would receive were a homeowner required to proceed under Chapter 7 liquidation regulations. By increasing the amount of the home’s exemption, the Homestead Declaration decrees the procedures which would have been available for repaying unsecured creditors through the Chapter 7 alternative. This may decrease the percentage of the unsecured debt the homeowner would be required to repay through a Chapter 13 plan.

A MA Chapter 13 bankruptcy is much less attractive than a MA Chapter 7 filing since a Chapter 13 requires you to pay into a plan, whereas a Chapter 7 just wipes out your discharge debts without any payment. In most cases a Chapter 7 filing will be more advantageous. However, Chapter 13 does have many benefits. It can save your home from foreclosure, allowing you to satisfy unsecured mortgage or tax bills over time while your lender is claiming that you pay in one lump sum in order to stop foreclosure. Additionally, under the new bankruptcy law, Chapter 13 bankruptcy also applies to your credit report for three fewer years (7) than Chapter 7 does (10).

Remember that the Homestead Declaration protects a homeowner only from unsecured creditors. It will not offer protection from first or second mortgage lenders and / or equity lenders who possess a security interest in a home. If payments are not current on these types of secured credit, a homeowner runs the risk of losing the home to foreclosure proceedings. When delinquent in these debts, a Chapter 7 filing is not available unless the real estate will be surrendered. A Chapter 13 filing will stop foreclosure proceedings and implement a plan for the debtor to come current, thereby saving the property.

Given the high values ​​of real estate in Massachusetts, the Homestead is of great value to bankruptcy attorneys as a tool to protect debtors. Debtors must choose between the federal bankruptcy exemptions and the exemptions arising under Massachusetts and federal non-bankruptcy laws. This is a key decision that is made in consideration of the nature and value of the debtor’s property and when it was acquired. There are provisions in the 2005 Bankruptcy Act limiting the state Homestead to $ 136,875 if the property was bought or otherwise acquitted within 1215 days of the petition date. An addition might be considered an acquisition. There is an exception to the 1215 day rule in circumstances in which you buy a home in the same state and roll your equity into your new home. The trigger for reduction of the Homestead amount allowed in Bankruptcy is the date of acquisition of the property and not the date the Homestead is recorded. In re Lyons, 355 BR 387 (Bkrtcy D. Mass, 2006).

III. Interpreting the MA Homestead

There is little state court case law establishing the Homestead Act in Massachusetts. However, there have been a number of cases that have been determined by the Bankruptcy Court which makes rulings based upon what it presumes the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would say if it were presented with the case. These federal court decisions are not binding on our state courts. These cases are the only guides available in the absence of state cases and they will be followed by other bankruptcy cases until the Supreme Supreme Judicial Court takes a contrary position. The Massachusetts Homestead Statue is poorly drafted and contains many ambiguities leaving many questions unanswered.

Bankruptcy Judge Henry J. Boroff recently expressed his frustration when he included dicta in an opinion that addressed a Homestead issue. He wrote: “This Court fees compelled to express at the sunset it’s growing frustration with the application of the Massachusetts Homestead Statue. While it is well settled that the statute’s purpose is to protect the family home … the statutes of ambiguities have proven to be legion and its benefits 1) appear to be available only for those with the legal training or resources necessary to locate a registry of deeds and record what is, for a layperson, a relatively complex document, and 2) may be easily and inadvertently lost by statutory language and conditions that are hyper-technical and often counterintuitive. ” In re: Edward R. Szwyd, —– BR —– (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 2007).

A. Pre-existing debts

The language of the Massachusetts Homestead statute says that it does not apply to debts existing before recording the Homestead. Therefore, one would believe it is important to file it as early as possible. However, one of the early bankruptcy cases involving Homesteads held that under federal bankruptcy law the Homestead did apply to pre-existing creditors. Federal law pre-approved state law. In fact, debts can be incurred over a period of years and a Homestead successfully utilized which is filed minutes before the bankruptcy petition. In Re Whalen-Griffin, 206 BR. 277 (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 1997). Court ruled that the federal bankruptcy laws preempted Massachusetts Homestead exemptions. Effect is to protect Homesteads from liens, even where debts are incurred prior to Homestead recording.) In Re Weinstein, 217 BR 5 (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 1998) supports the decision in Whalen-Griffin and goes on to include both unsecured and secured pre-homestead debt under bankruptcy protection.

Bankruptcy cases often involve a debtor who has a judgment lien against their real estate. The bankruptcy law provides that if the mortgages on the property and the exemption excludes the value of the home, then the judicial lien can be “avoided” in whole or in part on a motion filed by the debtor. For example, if a home was valued at $ 790,000 and the home owner had mortgages on the property of $ 300,000, the court would avoid a judicial lien because the mortgage of $ 300,000 plus the Homestead of $ 500,000 totals $ 800,000 and, therefore, would be in excess of the value of the home. Any judicial lien on the property would have been released by the Bankruptcy Court Order recorded in the registry of deeds. NOTE: I’ve found some bankruptcy attorneys believe the mere filing of the bankruptcy petition is sufficient to dissolve the lien. It is not. A conveyancer will require more. The motion must be filed, allowed and recorded.

Certainly, a different result would have been reached by the Massachusetts appellate courts considering the order of recording the Homestead and a lien. A recent state trial court case, Walsh v. Yarossi, Mass. Land Court, December 5, 2006, held that a prior attachment filed before a Homestead Declaration is a valid preexisting lien, negating the Homestead protection, even when the sentence is obtained after the Homestead.

B. Termination of the Massachusetts Homestead

A major cause of concern is the incidental termination of Homestead protection. The terms of the Homestead statute make clear the estate or claim of Homestead will be terminated upon the sale or transfer of the real property or mobile home during the declarant’s lifetime, upon the death of the declarant and the remarriage of the declarant’s surviving spouse and upon each child reaching the age of majority or a release of the Homestead estate duly signed, sealed, and acknowledged by the owner and the owner’s spouse, if any, and recorded at the Registry of Deeds, or when the property ceases to be the principal residence. In addition, the Bankruptcy Court has ruled that the filing of a consequent Declaration of Homestead acts to discharge a prior Declaration.

It is unclear how other transfers might be grateful under the state statement.

In the recent case of In Re Hildebrandt, 313 BR 535 (2004), an unmarried couple purchased a home and one of the two filed a M Homestead Declaration. Thereafter, the person who did not file the Homestead transferred her interest in the property to the Homestead declarant. The Bankruptcy Court ruled that the transfer terminated the pre-existing Homestead. In this case there was an acquisition of an interest that caused the termination of the Homestead.

Existing state law on the effect of refinancing a mortgage on an existing Homestead is unclear. On August 31, 2004, Judge Henry J. Boroff, of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts ruled that the Homestead Exemption is subordinate to a mortgage. Real estate practitioners always assumed that the exemption was subordinate to a pre-existing mortgage, but believed the Homestead otherwise remained valid when a new refinance mortgage was recorded after the Homestead. Judge Boroff clarified the law in this area by ruling that, in case of refinancing of a mortgage, the exemption will be rendered null and void. Essentially, as a homeowner, a Homestead Exemption is not valid after refinancing unless you re-file it after the time of the refinancing, or otherwise reserve it at the time of refinance. In Re Desroches, 314 BR 19 (2004) (Homestead protection was denied where the mortgage was filed after an earlier Homestead Declaration and mortgage did not specifically reserve the debtor’s Homestead rights).

Homesteads are often inadvertently terminated during estate planning changes. The estate planner must be careful in implementing a plan to not terminate the Homestead. Situations to consider include:

Selling or transferring of the property;

Selling or transferring the declarant’s interest in the property;

Acquiring a new interest in the property, as was done in the Hildebrandt case;

Deeding the property including to reserve a life estate without reserving the Homestead exemption;

Filing a new Homestead Declaration;

Refinanced debt on the home.

C. Proceeds from Sale

In Re Cunningham, Not reported in BR, 2005 Bankr. LEXIS 2419, 2005 WL 3348861 (2005). Land subject to debtor’s Homestead exemption was sold and the exemption applied to the sale proceeded. The debtor was able to keep the proceedings of sale.

D. Multiple Owner’s Recording Homesteads (Stacking)

In Re Garren, 338 F. 3d 1 (2003). Deborator was not allowed to “stack” two Homestead exemptions in order to avoid judicial lien on his property. If fact, where one Homestead is recorded and another recorded immediately after it, only the second is valid, the first having been terminated by the recording of the second. It should be noted, multiple valid Homesteads may be recorded under Section 1A (Elderly / Disabled), but the value is still only $ 500,000.

E. Children of Declarant

In Re Vasques, 337 BR 255 (Bkrtcy D. Mass, 2006). Daughter who co-owned residential property was a member of same “family” as mother and therefore protected by mother’s Declaration of Homestead without either the obligation or ability to file a declaration of Homestead on her own even though she was not a minor. The Court decided that the provision of the statute relative to minor children mean that Homesteads remain in effect after the death of a declarant-parent only while the children are minors, and that the provision had no other limiting effect.

F. Manufactured Mobile Homes

In Re Kelly, 334 BR 772, 2005 Bankr. LEXIS 2365, 2005 WL 3293309 (2005). Debtor may not claim a Homestead exemption, pursant to MGL. Ch. 188, sec. 1, in a manufactured mobile home. Although MGL Ch. 188, Sec. 1A provides for such protection, Section 1 does not. The Court noted “The most persuasive argument that subsection 1 does not include a manufactured home, however, is the fact that subsection 1A does provide for such a Homestead.” So only the elderly or disabled may have this right. Other Judges have disagreed.

G. Property in Trusts

In re: Edward R. Szwyd, —– BR —– (Bkrtcy D. Mass., 2007). Property held in trust is not eligible for Homestead protection. Only individuals may claim a Homestead. The Court allowed the Homestead to stand in this case since the debtor was the sole trustee and beneficiary and no trust implemented under Massachusetts law.

H. Owner-Occupied Multi-family Homes

As long as the property is the primary residence of the declarant a Homestead will be valid as to the whole.

Source by David Lima

OUI Laws and Drunk Driver Accident Liability

Massachusetts OUI (Operating Under the Influence) laws protect the public by making driving while intoxicated a serious criminal offense. Motorists caught driving under the influence (DUI) face fines and possibly criminal penalties. The more DUI offenses a Massachusetts driver has, the more severe the penalties become.

Defining Driving Under the Influence

Massachusetts OUI laws define driving under the influence as operating a motor vehicle with:

o A blood alcohol content of.08 or greater OR

o A blood alcohol content of.02 or greater if the driver is under 21 OR

o Under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants, stimulants, or glue vapors.

Massachusetts OUI laws provide for fines, probation, possible jail time, and driver’s license revocation for 1 year for first time offenders. Subsequent convictions can mean harsher penalties and could elevate the negligent driver to felony level charges.

Suing a Drunk Driver in Massachusetts

Unfortunately, most victims of serious DUI accidents cannot afford to pay the difference between what auto insurance companies will provide and the total amount of medical bills they will face.

As a victim of a Massachusetts DUI accident, it is your right to sue the driver for negligence in civil court even while criminal charges are pending. You are entitled to recover the full amount of your personal injuries, which may include time lost from work, long-term care, and other expenses. It is important to keep in mind that drunk drivers will most likely face fines as well as jail time because of their negligence and may not be able to pay the full judgment that you are awarded.

Massachusetts DUI Accidents: Determining Liability

A driver must be found legally responsible for the Massachusetts drunk driving accident in order to be made to pay compensation to the victim. The case may be that other people-in addition to the driver-can be held legally responsible for a drunk-driving victim’s injuries.

If the driver was served alcohol by someone who knew the driver was already intoxicated, that person could also be held liable to the accident victim and therefore responsible for compensating the victim under Massachusetts law. This applies equally to people in bars and restaurants as well as people at parties and private gatherings.

As a victim, it is important that you determine all responsible parties in order to maximize your recovery and ensure your expenses are covered. This is why it is so critical to make sure you do not sign any settlements with a representative of an insurance company prior to speaking with your Massachusetts personal injury attorney.

Source by Thomas M. Kiley

Melanie's Law Means Stricter Penalties For Massachusetts' Drunk Drivers

Being in a Massachusetts drunk-driving accident can result in permanent and life-altering injuries. The passage of Melanie's Law advances Massachusetts DUI laws and the criminal charges a driver will face for multiple convictions of Operating Under the Influence (OUI).

Criminal Penalties Under Melanie's Law

Melanie's Law was empowered to improve Massachusetts DUI laws by increasing the penalties and sanctions for drivers with multiple convictions of operating under the influence of toxicating substances. Melanie's Law changed the face of the Massachusetts DUI laws by:

o Penalizing drivers for operating under the influence while already on a suspended license for OUI, charging the offender with (1) OUI, and (2) OUI with a suspended license

o Establishing penalies for prohibiting or employing an unlicensed driver-including relatives, friends, or known acquaintances- to operate a motor vehicle

o Creating a new crime of Operating a Motor Vehicle Under the Influence of Alcohol with a Child 14 Years of Age or Younger in the Vehicle. This means the driver can be charged with two offsets: (1) OUI, and (2) Child Endangerment While OUI

o Establishing a criminal charge for Manslaughter by Motor Vehicle

o Increasing the length of license suspension to a minimum of 15 years

o Giving the cancellation of registration plates for consequent convictions

o Allowed a District Attorney to seek forfeiture of motor vehicles

o Eliminating temporary licenses and mandating vehicle impounding upon refusal of a chemical test

o Establishing a state-run ignition interlock system (requiring a driver to pass a breath test before starting the vehicle)

Massachusetts Drunk Driving Lawsuits

These new laws are accompanied by strictter penalties which could potentially interfere with a Massachusetts drunk-driving accident victim's ability to collect on a civil jurisdiction. This is because if the driver is forced to pay fines to the State, the State will collect their due before the victim.

Likewise, if the convicted drunk driver is forced to spend a year in jail-a mandatory minimum sentence for the new charge of OUI with a suspended license-that driver will not be able to earn income to pay your civil judgment, you should be awarded one.

If you have suffered personal injury because of another driver's negligence, you may be entitled to financial compensation to pay for medical bills and other accident related expenses. Massachusetts has a statute of limitations on these types of lawsuits and your case must be filed within a prescribed amount of time.

It is critical, then, to consult with a Massachusetts personal injury attorney who has a firm jurisdiction on Massachusetts DUI laws and is experienced in these types of lawsuits.

Source by Thomas M. Kiley

How to Get CNA Certification in Massachusetts

In the state of Massachusetts, a nursing assistant will have to complete state-approved Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program (NATCEP) to work in varieties health care settings. The responsibility to manage and administer NATCEP in MA is entrusted upon the American Red Cross (ARC) of Eastern Massachusetts.

ARC Nurse Aide Training Program (ARC NATP)

The American Red Cross of Eastern MA is offering ARC Nurse Assistant Home Health Aide Program since 1989. The training program is 75 hours and meets the state and federal Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1987 guidelines and education standards. CNA training programs can also be completed through community colleges, adult education centres, technical institutes and vocational schools located across the state. The sole aim of CNA training program is to prepare nursing assistants in direct patient care skills and knowledge so that they can offer quality care to residents who are unable to care for themselves. Upon successful completion and graduation of the NATP, nursing students is qualified to appear for the state competency evaluation test for CNA Certification in MA. The certified CNAs then can perform in hospice, nursing homes, adult care centres, hospitals, assisted living centres and other licensed facilities.

ARC NATP Requirements

In MA, a high school diploma or GED is not a prerequisite for taking the training program. The applicants should pass ARC assessment test in order to enrol in ARC training program, and once enrolled, a negative TB test result must be submitted on the first day of the training class.

MA CNA Certification Test

Individuals, who wish to take the Massachusetts Nurse Assistant Competency examination must complete the MA Department of Public Health Testing Eligibility Requirements, and submit the Eligibility Form to the Division of Health Care Quality Nurse Aide Registry/Training verification. Once the form is approved, the applicants can complete the ARC Testing and Registration Application.

ARC Nursing Assiatnt Certification Test consists of Knowledge Test (Written/Oral Test) and Skills Test. The applicants can also select their choice location and in-facility Red Cross site for clinical demonstration. ARC of Eastern MA testing locations are located in Fall River, Brockton, Hyannis, New Bedford, Lowell, Cambridge, Springfield, Haverhill, Pittsfield, Worcester and Peabody.

The testing candidates must pass both parts of the MA Certification Test in order to be placed on the MA Nurse Aide Registry and earn CNA Certification in MA. The Certification is also mandatory for working in varied health care settings throughout the state of Massachusetts.

Source by Subodh Maheshwari

Nantucket Island Massachusetts – A Hidden Treasure

Once the whaling capital of the world, Nantucket Island in Massachusetts is now a magnet for those seeking an escape to a vacation filled with natural beauty, scenic walks, pristine beaches, and a generous dose of history.

Nantucket can be reached by ferry from Woods Hole and Hyannis on Cape Cod or by a short plane ride from Boston and other New England airports. If you ferry leave your car on the mainland because you will not need it here.

Isolated and left alone for generations after the New England whaling industry collapsed and a great fire ravaged the town itself, it provided the perfect preservation environment for the island. Today it offers visitors interested in New England's architectural history, the largest collection of original pre-Civil War buildings in the country.

The island hub is Nantucket Town with its cobble streets, historical buildings, museums, restaurants, lodging, and picturesque harbor. You'll find mostly everything you need to enjoy this charming island in close proximity to the town harbor wharfs.

Nantucket Island is best experienced on foot or bike. The island is only 14 by 3.5 miles but has ten stunning beaches, seven bike paths, three historic lighthouses, a wildlife refugee, four superb golf courses, and miles of gentle hiking. But no theme parks, shopping malls, or large noisy crowds – you left those on the mainland.

Do not worry if you're not into long walks or spending hours in the saddle – you can still spread out your towel and visit the outgoing beaches and other attractions. Buses and tours leave from Nantucket town on a daily basis, and you can even take a cruise out to Muskeget and Tuckernet Islands to see seals and birds, and experience a beach adventure.

Nantucket town is a little old fashioned and conservative in its tastes so while the atmosphere is warm and friendly make sure you pack suitable attire to visit restaurants and shops.

The Island's weather is temperate with ocean breezes providing free air-conditioning in the summer, and the Gulf Stream keeping winters mild and the ocean waters tolerable in beach season. Pack a sweater for the evenings in summer as like most New England coastal areas it can cool quickly.

Do not let the idyllic setting or relaxed island atmosphere fool you into thinking it does not cater for the sophisticated visitor as well as families with small children. A wide array of lodging and dining experiences await any traveler.

For a small island there are a lot of Bed and Breakfast places and these tend to be better deals than many of the hotels, expect to pay in the $ 150 – $ 250 per night range. The Anchor Inn , Centerboard Guest House , and Brant Point Inn continue to receive rave reviews each season. At the extreme expensive resort end – The Wauwinet will cost you over $ 700 per night but it's in a class of its own.

Dinning out should be an experience and fun, but many times it's a game of chance. So I tend to rely on the locals for the latest quality index rather than an out-of-date guide book. Having said that two ever popular places worth checking out are The Pearl for dinner and Black-Eyed Susan's for breakfast.

For families take a peek at Brotherhood of Thieves for dinner, and Something Natural to pick up a sandwich on your way to the beach.

Many visitors favorite time on the island is spring and fall, when everything is mostly open but you have much to yourself and the price is right.

If you're looking for a relaxing New England vacation surrounded by ocean, white sand in your shoes, great food, and a place close but far away, then make your reservations and pack your bags for Nantucket Island.

Source by Cliff Calderwood

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Chemistry Students Gain From Connecting Chemistry to Biology

Pupils ought to be taught the subject of science by means of educational textbooks which put a priority on relating a student’s normal life, together with further programs of study, to scientific facts & principles. A December 2009 article, which was posted on the website of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), presented in detail how one professor productively introduced that type of teaching model into a university classroom.

At MIT, HHMI professor Catherine Drennan teaches introductory chemistry to approximately two hundred college students, although in high school, she had been a student who didn’t like chemistry at all. The way in which she is changing her students’ attitudes about chemistry is the way science education should be approached by teachers of all age groups, not just college-age students.

Professor Drennan says that a lot of the incoming MIT first-year students have the same type of attitudes she used to have regarding chemistry. “I tell my students, you may not have discovered your love for chemistry yet, but I’m going to show you how it is applicable.” To get them excited about chemistry, Drennan worked with her co-instructor to create examples and problems that connected chemistry topics to biology.

Education researchers at MIT’s Teaching and Learning Lab discovered that there was a statistically considerable rise in undergraduate satisfaction with the curriculum after the launch of the inter-disciplinary examples in the lectures. Students were more excited about attending class and actually learning the course work!

A further important outcome is noted in a quote by researcher Rudy Mitchell:

“Even more interesting was the student attendance in the course,” Mitchell says. “Large lecture classes often suffer from poor attendance. But 85 percent of students reported attending 90 percent or more of the lectures. That’s unheard of in a lecture with 200 students, and it speaks to how enthusiastic the students are about the course.”

Drennan’s method of inter-curricular education is one that has proven to be effective. What better way to get our children excited about learning science than to relate it to their everyday lives?

Source by Rebecca Keller

Massachusetts Solar Energy Rebate Program Hits a Wall

If you go to its website, the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, which administers the state’s solar rebate program (the Commonwealth Solar Rebate Program) simply says it has gotten enough applications to meet the state’s current goal; 27 megawatts of installed photovoltaic (PV) power by 2012.

The program, launched in January 2008, is an expression of Governor Deval Patrick’s ultimate goal; 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017. But with slightly more than seven years, and 223 megawatts still to go, it seems odd and unfortunate that the program has run out of money, leaving many unapproved applicants in the lurch and on the hook for solar systems they have installed (or for which they have pending installation contracts).

This effectively ends the state’s $68-million program for now, presumably until new funding can be arranged through the legislature. The program was originally funded through a $4-per-month fee on Massachusetts customer’s utility bills, as well as penalties paid by utility companies operating at a deficit in terms of renewable energy generation.

That the money is all gone may be reassuring news for solar manufacturing firms and solar panel installers, proving yet again that solar energy, rather than being an energy fad destined to fail, is actually moving into the mainstream of energy production nationwide. It is very negative news for those who want to participate in solar energy.

The funding failure was apparently propelled by an Oct. 6 notice saying that the state was planning to reduce rebates, which spurred an influx of so many applications in a single week that the $26 million remaining in the fund was completely depleted, according to Massachusetts energy czar Philip Giudici.

Giudici called it a “surprise”, happening as it did at a time when the state’s consumers were demanding solar energy. For homeowners and small businesses looking to get some funding toward solar energy systems – whose prices are still too high for the average American – the announcement was more like a heartbreak.

At the time the fund failed, the state’s energy executives were looking to switch incentives to renewable energy credits, or RECs. Now, with the solar energy fund $12 million over budget, and 142 new solar businesses in the state this year looking to capitalize on the state’s solar energy incentive through new customers, the collapse of the incentive spells very bleak news for many.

Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust director Carter Wall has said that some of the state’s ARRA funding may be used to bolster the solar panel incentives, in order to honor as many applicants as possible, and promised that the next round of funding approved by the legislature will more closely match needs. Since the legislature is out from Nov. 23 through the first of next year, the odds of getting anything supplemental passed in the interim is astronomical.

Homeowners and small businessmen aren’t the only ones complaining. Last week, Yarmouth Public Works Director George Allaire dispatched an angry letter to Guidici, saying that power purchase agreements – critical to keeping the town’s waste treatment facility viable – would now have to be amended or cancelled unless someone could tell the purchasers what kind of incentives to plan on in budgeting systems, costs and financial payback.

Source by Nathan Lew

How To Become A Construction Supervisor in Massachusetts

Becoming a Construction Supervisor in the state of Massachusetts can give you a lot of employment options. The construction industry is doing well and is expected to keep growing. It actually makes up more than five percent of the United States job sector. With the field of construction doing so well, holding a license in this industry can help increase the odds that even in a bad economy you should be able to find steady employment. As a licensed construction supervisor you can opt to work for a large construction firm or work independently with a company of your own. With that said you first need to pass the state exam.

Are You Eligible?

To be eligible to pass the exam, the state of Massachusetts first requires that candidates have at least three years of experience in the construction industry. If you have a Bachelor of Science in construction or engineering, or a very closely related field you will automatically be given credit for two years of experience. To accrue the third year, you will have to work for at least one year, at forty hours a week within the construction industry. The state will require proof of this employment via W2 tax forms. Additionally all candidates must be at least 18 years old.

The State Exam

If deemed qualified to take the test by the state, candidates will be tested on their knowledge of the overall general contracting procedures as well as their knowledge of building codes. The exam itself if very regulated. The state uses a company called Prometric, Inc., to administer the test. They are backed by the Department of Public Safety. The fee for the Construction Supervisor exam is one hundred dollars.

What is the license good for?

In the state of MA, the construction of any building up to 35000 cubic feet requires a construction supervisor to oversee the project. MA offers two different license classes for this for this particular license; unrestricted and restricted. The restricted license is good for one and two family residential buildings. On the other hand the unrestricted license is good on buildings up to 35000 cubic feet.

Once you pass the state exam you are officially classified as a construction supervisor. With your license in hand you can either seek employment with a construction company or if you are want to try out the entrepreneurial path you can start a construction company of your own.

Source by Amy Lee Anderson

Life in Cambridge, Massachusetts

If you’ve heard of Harvard University, M.I.T, Harvard Square, Julia Childs, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, then you’ve probably heard of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Cambridge is a geographically small place with big things going on. Here is some information about Cambridge:

Cambridge was founded in 1630 and incorporated as a city in 1846. In 1630, the settlement was called Newtowne, and the name was changed to Cambridge in 1638. A person from Cambridge is called a Cantabrigian. The oldest house in Cambridge is the Cooper-Frost-Austin house on Linnaean Street, with the wood used to construct it dating back to 1682.

Cambridge is separated from Boston by two bridges, the Longfellow Bridge and the Harvard Bridge. Cambridge is approximately 6.4 square miles in size and has a population of about 106,000 people.

There are several squares in Cambridge: Harvard Square, Kendall Square, Central Square, Porter Square, Inman Square and Union Square. Cambridge has been referred to as a “City of Squares.” Each of the squares has its own ambiance and noteworthy restaurants and entertainment venues that make it unique. Most people are partial to the one square that best suits their personality.

There is a varied architecture in Cambridge dating from the 1600s right up to the current day. You can see apartment buildings from every decade, old Victorian homes, modern condominium complexes and brick turrets on homes covered in ivy next to a modern home just completed yesterday-all within a block of each other. There are many beautiful little side streets paved in brick and lined with the most luscious gardens, and then when you walk five houses away you are on the bustling, modern and very busy Massachusetts Avenue. Massachusetts Avenue is called Mass Ave. by the locals, and it begins in the Dorchester section of Boston and extends 16 miles through many cities and towns.

It is very easy to navigate around Cambridge by public transportation, which is called the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority). The Red Line branch of the transit system has several stops in Cambridge: Kendall, Central, Harvard, Porter and Alewife. There is also a stop for the Purple Line in Porter Square, and this is a commuter rail train that goes back into Boston or out to the western suburbs of Massachusetts. Numerous buses can take you anywhere, and they are also a good alternative if you prefer to stay above ground and avoid the subway train. The area is very good for walking and bicycling, too.

M.I.T and Harvard are the two largest employers in Cambridge, as you can well imagine. The population also reflects their presence in the community. There is a large and diverse student population here, as well as a large population of professors and other college staff living throughout the city. This mix of people makes for an intellectually stimulating and young environment where there is always something exciting going on.

Cultures of all types are alive and well and living in Cambridge. There are restaurants from just about any country you can think of. There are theaters, live music venues, street performers, art galleries and many other types of artsy endeavors to suit every taste.

Cambridge is a great place to add to your vacation list, especially if you are planning a visit to Boston; it’s only a little over two miles away. Cambridge is an interesting and very convenient place to live, too. Maybe someday I will meet you in Cambridge, Massachusetts!

Source by Debbie Pento

Massachusetts Traffic Laws and Surchargeable Points

Massachusetts traffic laws aim to prevent traffic accidents and help determine who is liable in the event of a motor vehicle accident.

Massachusetts Laws for Sharing the Road

Massachusetts traffic laws dictate that upon approaching an intersection, drivers have a responsibility to yield to oncoming traffic. If a vehicle drives past a yield sign and subsequently collides with your car in an intersection, the collision itself is evidence that the other driver failed to yield.

Evidence of driver negligence can be used in a Massachusetts personal injury lawsuit as proof of the other driver’s liability in that traffic accident. Any time a vehicle fails to yield in any of the following manners and that failure results in a Massachusetts car accident, the victim of the collision has clear evidence of the other driver’s negligence:

o Running a red light;

o Performing an illegal U-turn; and

o Operating their vehicle in any other reckless manner, including speeding (any person operating a vehicle in excess of a posted speed limit is automatically determined to be driving at a speed more than reasonable and proper).

Massachusetts Drivers’ Responsibilities

Massachusetts traffic laws outline driver responsibilities after a motor vehicle accident. Every driver involved in a traffic accident has the duty and responsibility to file a report with the local police department and make known all applicable information when:

o A person is killed;

o A person is injured; AND/OR

o There is property damage in excess of $1,000.

This Massachusetts traffic law was enacted to ensure that when an injury- accident occurs, the victim would be able to get information immediately about the other person involved in the accident.

Massachusetts traffic laws also state that it is illegal to operate a vehicle without:

o A valid driver’s license;

o Insurance with specific minimum limits; AND

o Vehicle registration.

Failure to possess any of the above documents is punishable by fines, possible jail time, and possible license suspension. Most likely, a violation of this sort will result in surchargeable points being charged to the offender’s license and insurance.

Massachusetts Surchargeable Points

The insurance rates in Massachusetts are set by the Massachusetts government. The state and insurance companies use a system of surchargeable points to reward safe drivers and penalize negligent drivers. Drivers accrue surchargeable points for moving violation convictions, which raises insurance premiums and can result in a suspended license.

Massachusetts drivers are also given a surcharge on their insurance premiums for any motor vehicle accident in which either:

o The driver was ruled at fault; OR

o The driver’s insurance company pays out more than $500 in claims.

How a Massachusetts Accident Attorney Can Help

If you, or a loved one, have been seriously injured in a Massachusetts car accident and you suspect the other driver violated any of the laws cited above at the time of the accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. Through a personal injury lawsuit you can seek financial compensation for:

o Medical bills;

o Lost wages and future earnings;

o Physical therapy;

o Emotional distress; and

o Other expenses related to your injuries.

It is important to retain an experienced Massachusetts personal injury lawyer who has successfully handled cases similar to yours. Don’t go it alone! A skilled personal injury attorney can help you establish negligence and increase the odds of receiving a fair settlement or verdict for your injuries.

Source by Thomas M. Kiley

OUI-DUI Roadblocks in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the police are permitted to conduct OUI-DUI roadblocks in order to stop and detect impaired drivers. However, if you are stopped at a roadblock and arrested for OUI-DUI, you may be able to get the evidence the police obtained and the case dismissed by filing a motion to suppress attacking the police conduct in executing the roadblock.

Ordinarily, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to seize an individual under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitutional and under Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. When the police stop an individual at a roadblock, a motorist is being seized without individualized suspicion that the person is committing a crime.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that a roadblock seizure to detect drunk drivers is reasonable if the police comply with the strict standards set forth in a case known as Commonwealth v. McGeoghegan. First, the selection of vehicles to stop must not be done arbitrarily. Accordingly, the police must stop cars in some sequence; usually this is done through stopping every car. Second, motorist safety and inconvenience must be secured by implementation of a plan devised by law enforcement supervisory personnel, regarding where vehicles will be stopped and where further screening will take place. Third, the area selected by law enforcement must be an area where there has been a high number of OUI-DUI arrests or accidents. Finally, though not required, the SJC has indicated that advanced public notice of the date, but not the precise location, of the roadblock will decrease its subjective impact on motorists and support the Constitutional reasonableness of the roadblock.

In attacking the validity of a roadblock, your attorney should obtain the roadblock plan through discovery that will reveal how the police intended to set up the roadblock, stop cars and the data that justified the site selection. Along with attacking the procedure for how the roadblock was conducting, an additional basis for attacking the stop is that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to order the motorist from the follow of traffic. The initial greeting officer must have reasonable suspicion to suspect a motorist is operating under the influence before the motorist can be removed from the flow of traffic.

If you are stopped at a roadblock, it is important to have an experienced attorney review the discovery to determine if the police complied with proper procedure in establishing the roadblock and if there was a basis for you to be ordered from the flow of traffic. A motion to suppress challenging these elements, if successful, should result in the dismissal of your case.

Source by Michael Delsignore