WORCESTER – Up to three inches of snow and a steady fall of freezing rain will likely make Tuesday’s morning commute in Worcester a treacherous one.

According to a Winter Weather Advisory from the National Weather Service, a mixed precipitation will hit Worcester County from 4 AM to 4 PM on Tuesday and will lead to slippery conditions and decreased visibility on untreated roadways during the morning commute.

Up to 1/10 of an inch of ice is possible with one to three inches of snow accumulation.

On Saturday, Worcester saw seven inches of snow fall.

WORCESTER – With the tax classification hearing behind them, the City Council will have the second to last meeting before the new council is seated in January.  It is an extremely light agenda as the City Manager and Council wrap up year-end work.

With the season’s first plow-able snow storm falling on Saturday, City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. is asking the City Council  to accept the exemptions of five city employees who have applied to be independent snow plow contractors hired by the city.

At the Oct. 31 meeting, the council discussed the Conflict of Interest law which prohibits employees from the Department of Public Works & Parks, the Office of the City Manager and the Executive Office of Administration and Finance from having a snow plowing contract with the city.  That also includes equipment being placed in a family member’s name or a corporate entity where the employee of the family member held a financial interest.

“This administration has no greater priority than compliance with the Conflict of Interest law,” Augustus said to the City Council at the time.

The five employees asking for exemptions are:

  • James Ward – Worcester Police Officer
  • Timothy Bermingham – Worcester Firefighter
  • John Biancheria – .Department of Inspectional Services
  • David Rutherford – Worcester Police Officer
  • Robert Mazzone – Worcester Public Schools Teacher

New High Schools Moving Forward

The Council will also vote to adopt the Loan Order of $13,000,000.00 be appropriated to pay for costs associated with the design and construction manager for the new South High Community School project.

The City Manager is also asking the Council to approve funding for the Doherty High School Eligibility Period and Feasibility Study.  The study will include Owner’s Project Manager, Designer, and Architectural Services. The amount being requested is $2,000,000.00

Tonight’s meeting will start at 7:00 PM and will be held in the Esther Howland Chamber in Worcester’s City Hall.

Worcester in general and the Central Mass. Conference in particular were well represented last year in the Central Mass. Division 1 Boys Basketball Tournament.

Central Mass. Conference (CMC) members St. John’s, Holy Name and St. Peter-Marian were the second, third and fourth seeds, respectively, in the tournament. In addition, Doherty was the No. 7 seed and North High was seeded 10th in the 11-team tournament.

The Pioneers advanced all the way to the final, beating the Naps in a semifinal-round game in the process. St. John’s lost the final, however, 67-64, to top-seeded Franklin High, which eventually lost in the Division 1 state final to Cambridge Rindge & Latin. The Pioneers finished last season 19-4; while Holy Name ended the season with a 17-5 mark.

In the other Division 1 semifinal last year St. Peter-Marian lost to the aforementioned Franklin, 54-44. The Guardians finished 15-9 last season. Doherty, which was 13-7 a year ago, was upset in its opening-round game by North, 72-63. The Polar Bears finished the season 11-11.

“The CMC, it’s a good brand of basketball; in 2012 all four teams (HN, SJ, SPM and St. Bernard’s) won at least 15 games,” said Holy Name coach Jason Chavoor, now in his 15th year leading the Naps. “SPM is good; St. John’s is good. Everyone is good right now.

“St. Peter-Marian has Shamar Dennis; he’s probably the best player in the league; he scored 12 points a game last year as a freshman,” continued Chavoor, a St. John’s graduate. “We have Devandre Edmonds back. Devandre (14.9 ppg in 2016-2017) was a league All-Star and a Super Team member last year. St. John’s has Sean Burke (leading returning scorer, 13.3 ppg), who is very good. And Doherty, since you mentioned how they were seeded seventh in last year’s tournament, has Marty Silvera (22.1 ppg last season), who is the best scorer in the area.”

So, how will these teams fare this year? Will the Division 1 Tournament in 2018 be another “Worcester Invitational” the way the 2017 season was? Let’s take a peek at each of the teams.

St. John’s

Less than 48 hours after winning the Massachusetts Division 3 Football Championship with a 35-33 win over North Attleboro on Dec. 1, Steven Bucciaglia and Hunter Gorgas joined their basketball teammates for a Sunday afternoon scrimmage against Chicopee Comprehensive.

No rest for the weary, the wicked or for members of the best football team in school history, apparently.

The Pioneers made the most of the scrimmage, opening the season Dec. 8 with a 76-46 win over Nashoba Regional. Freshman Lucas SanFratello was the surprise of the night, leading all scorers with 26 points, 18 coming off six three-pointers. Burke, a senior, added 19 points.

Other seniors on the team in addition to Burke are Bucciaglia, Gorgas, Denzel Darteh and Ryan Hardenbrook. Big things were expected from a sixth senior, Ty Mola, but Mola may miss the entire season due to a broken ankle.

Juniors on the Pioneers’ roster include: Bobby Duquette; Ben SanFratello; and John Love. Jack Carelli is the lone sophomore on the team. Rounding out the squad are freshmen Lucas SanFratello and Nathan Bangandozou.

Burke is the team’s leading returning scorer, having averaged 13.3 ppg last season. Alex Bradley, who graduated, and Mola each averaged better than 14 ppg. Lucas SanFratello, according to a media member on hand Friday night, is a star in the making. Gorgas averaged seven points a game last year. The 6-foot-7 center/forward scored eight Friday night against Nashoba.

With the win against Nashoba added to his career record, longtime St. John’s coach Bob Foley is now just eight wins shy of an eye-popping and mind-boggling 900 for his career.

Holy Name

The Naps lost their season-opener, 59-55, to Portsmouth (R.I.) High, on Saturday night.

“It was a good game; we were up by a point with a minute left and we just couldn’t close the deal,” Chavoor said. “I was happy with our effort. They’re a good team and the game was on the road. I thought it was an all-around good experience for the kids.

“We started playing them two years ago in the Barrington (R.I.) Holiday Classic,” Chavoor said of Portsmouth High. “I made a connection with their coach (Joseph Occhi) so we decided that we were going to try and play every year. They came up here last year and we beat them by eight points and then yesterday we went back down there and lost by four.”

Portsmouth won the first meeting of the team, in 2015, by nine points.

Chavoor said the Naps are finding their way right now in the early going after having lost their top three guards – James Trottier, Dhalyn Sanders-Dyer and Sam Adusei – from last year. Trottier and Sanders-Dyer graduated and Adusei, who would be a junior this year, transferred to a prep school.

“That’s a loss of about 35 points a game from last year’s team,” explained Chavoor. “James and Dhalyn each averaged 14 points a game and Adusei averaged nine points per game.”

Chavoor is hoping he Naps can fill the void with the play of Edmonds, freshman Tommy Dunn and junior Alvin Kouassi. Edmonds scored nine points against Portsmouth Saturday night while Dunn added 11 and Kouassi led the way with 12. Junior Elieser Ortiz added 10 points.

“We’re hoping Dunn can put the ball in the hoop for us a little, Edmonds can add a couple of points on to his average from last year and that we can get consistent contributions from Alvin and Elieser.”

Edmonds led the CMC in scoring last year with a 13.9 ppg average.

Rounding out the Holy Name roster are seniors Louis Davolio, Manny Raymond, Nick Cariglia, Sam Ampofo and Ryan Prosser, junior Varum Nathan, sophomore Max Lucas and freshmen Christian Rivera and Logan Talbot.

The Naps opens the Massachusetts portion of their season at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 12 at South High.

St. Peter-Marian

Dennis leads a returning 6-man nucleus for the Guardians that combined to score about 45 points a game last year.

“Shamar is a very talented young man; we’re very excited about his potential,” St. Peter-Marian coach Marcus Watson said about the sophomore, who averaged 12.2 points per game last season.

Also back in the fold for Watson and the Guardians are: senior Shamar Simms (9.2 ppg last season); juniors Bobby Letourneau (8.7 ppg); Jeff Sullivan (7.8 ppg); Quion Sneed (4.5 ppg) and senior Matt Dumphy (4.1 ppg).

Watson said Demarr Langford Jr., who averaged 8.3 ppg last year as a sophomore, has transferred to the Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy and Bam Bam Brima, who would have been a junior center on the team, has moved to Philadelphia with his family.

Rounding out the St. Peter-Marian roster this season is senior Josh Pace, juniors John Butler, Aaron Fannoh and Owen Leary, sophomore C.J. Holmberg, freshman Cody Smith and eighth-grader Alex Karaban.

The Guardians have complemented their local schedule this season with a trip to Florida where they will play two games in a tournament in Naples. St. Peter-Marian will play Lely High of Naples in the first game, who Watson said won the Florida equivalent of the Central Mass. Tournament last year, and First Baptist Academy of Naples, a national program that features a 7-foot center.

“While we’re down there we will also do some community service,” Watson said. “We’re bringing down donations we’ve collected and we will be distributing them to hurricane victims. We’re about a little bit more than basketball.”

Watson wasn’t surprised to learn that the CMC was so well represented last year in the Division 1 Tournament.

“It’s a good league,” Watson said. “When you’ve got a coach like Bob Foley in your league, a man who is closing in on 900 wins; it raises the level of competition for everyone else. He, and St. John’s, is the benchmark that everyone else shoots for.

“Central Mass. basketball doesn’t get the credit it deserves,” Watson continued. “When people think about basketball in Massachusetts they think about Boston teams; teams like BC High and New Mission, and teams in the Merrimack Valley. But, as people around here know, there is a very good brand of basketball being played in Central Massachusetts.”

St. Peter-Marian will open its season at 7 p.m., Dec. 15 against Tantasqua Regional in the first round of the Bishop Reilly Tournament. The Guardians CMC schedule gets underway with a game against Holy Name at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 19. St. Peter-Marian will renew its rivalry with Doherty High at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 21.

Doherty

The Highlanders dropped their season-opening game Friday night, losing to Boston’s New Mission High School – the defending Division 2 state champion, 71-66.

Silvera, a junior guard, picked up against New Mission where he left off last season, pouring in a game-high 28 points. Senior center Norberto Nader added 20 points and sophomore forward Alex Momo chipped in with 17.

New Mission, which featured a balanced attack – six players scored at least 10 points, led, 28-21 at the half.

Rounding out the Highlanders roster are: seniors Connor Bisnette, Steve Chivallatti, Corey Clark, Patson Pierre, Noah Waterman and Kevin Skilja; junior John Forson; sophomores Malikai Delgado and Tyrone Adams-Davis; and freshman Noah Callery.

Doherty will be back in action at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 12, when it hosts Algonquin Regional.

According to Rob Bradford of WEEI, Boston Red Sox pitcher Steven Wright was arrested on domestic assault charges.

The knuckleballer was arrested Friday night at his home in Tennessee after an incident was reported involving his wife Shannon and released Saturday morning.

Wright missed a majority of the 2016 season after undergoing knee surgery but is expected to be ready for the 2017 season.

The pitcher and his lawyer declined to comment on the situation but the Red Sox released a team statement:

“We are aware of the incident involving Steven. This is certainly a matter that the Red Sox take very seriously. It is my understanding that both local police and MLB are looking into this and for that reason, the club won’t have any further comment at this time.”

The Worcester Railers spent nine hours traveling Saturday as they headed to Brampton, Ontario in advance of Sunday afternoon’s game with the Beast. Even with the night off, there was some worry the Railers might have a slow start, but that was hardly the case as each team came flying out of the gates. Both Railers goaltender Eamon McAdam and Brampton netminder Marcus Hogberg were up to the challenge, with each making great saves to keep the game scoreless.

Just when it looked like the opening 20 minutes would pass without a goal the Railers connected on a nice play by Matt Gaudreau and Chris Langkow. It began with Gaudreau skating down the left wing side, and Langkow beating his man on the right side and driving to the net. Gaudreau’s saucer pass landed right on Langkow’s stick, and his deflection went high glove side on Hogberg and under the crossbar with 58.9 seconds remaining in the period.

It was a physical first stanza, with both defenseman Patrick McNally and forward Barry Almeida involved in accidental collisions with Brampton players but looked no worse for wear. Captain Ashton Rome was not so lucky, and didn’t return after being slashed mid-way through the period.

In the second period, Brampton tied the score at 2:55 on an odd-man rush. McAdam made the save on Brandon Marino’s original shot, but the rebound went right to Alex Foster. The Beast would take the lead at 14:45 on the power play when Stefan Fournier was all alone at the far post. Marino’s pass found him, and Fournier broke his stick on the post as he slammed the puck home.

The middle 20 minutes also took its toll on Worcester as defenseman Josh Monk left the game late in the period and did not return.

Brampton increased its lead to 3-1 at 3:28 of the third when recently signed David Vallorani skated down the right side and beat McAdam off the post for the unassisted tally. The Railers cut the lead in half at 9:59 on the power play when Langkow’s shot was blocked and the puck went right to the stick of Frankie DiChiara. Hogberg had no time to react as DiChiara fired one under the crossbar.

With just under three minutes to go in regulation, Worcester head coach Jamie Russell called his timeout, and the play he came up with was a good one as Langkow was able to deflect Nick Saracino’s shot past Hogberg to tie the score at 18:08. DiChiara had the second assist on the goal.

The score remained 3-3 through the end of regulation and overtime, so to the shootout the teams went. Matt Jones scored on Worcester’s first attempt, and Chris Leveille scored for the Beast in the second round to tie it. It appeared that Barry Almeida scored in the third round of the shootout, but referee Andrea Barone ruled the puck did not go in. After a conference between all three officials the call stood.

As has been noted before, the ECHL does not use video replay.

In round five, Reggie Traccitto connected to give Brampton a 4-3 victory.

Worcester continues their three game road trip with games in Adirondack on Wednesday and Friday. The return to the DCU Center on Saturday for their third game in four days against the Thunder.

RAILERS NOTES

Scratches for the Railers were Mike Cornell, Connor Doherty (21-day IR/groin), Woody Hudson, and Wade Murphy. Mitch Gillam was the back-up goaltender. Cornell did not make the trip to Brampton in order to be with his wife Kelly, who gave birth to a daughter Sunday morning.

On Thursday Worcester sent its first player up to the Sound Tigers as Yanick Turcotte took the Magic Bus to Bridgeport. Turcotte made his AHL debut for the Sound Tigers Saturday night in Springfield, earning himself two minutes for roughing. He also served the extra four minutes Russ Johnston was given in his battle with former Worcester Sharks forward Bobby Farnham. Turcotte was scratched by the Sound Tigers on Sunday.

In a corresponding move Bridgeport assigned veteran defenseman Patrick Cullity to the Railers. Cullity has been a healthy scratch all season for the Sound Tigers, and the move is just to get Cullity into game shape. The Tewksbury, Mass native has played 295 ECHL games over the past seven seasons, and has 14 goals and 87 career points in the league, with a +56 rating.

Also on Thursday, the Worcester Railers Booster Club held their first annual Holiday Party at the DCU Center with the team. As they did when they were the booster club for the Sharks, attendees to the party were asked to being unwrapped toys to be donated to Friendly House. Booster Club President Rich Lundin, who began the program in 2006, said the almost $1800 in toys donated this year was a record. The Club will be adding $1000 in gift cards and additional toys to the total.

While it’s the Railers first foray into Canada Worcester pro teams have been heading to our northern neighbors for games since the IceCats inaugural season in 1994-95. City teams have had good luck in Canada, entering Sunday’s game with a 41-25-15 all-time record in the Great White North. It has been a long time since a Worcester team has played in Ontario, with the IceCats last playing in Hamilton on November 13, 2001 in a 3-0 loss to the Bulldogs.

The three stars of the game were:

1) David Vallorani (Brampton #97), goal

2) Brandon Marino (Brampton #13), 2 assists

3) Stefan Fournier (Brampton #74), goal

The TWIW Player of the Game was Chris Langkow

Even Strength Lines

Jones/Langkow/Saracino

Syner/Almeida/Kubiak

Lane/Rome/Gaudreau

DiChiara

McNally/Monk

Cullity/Masella

McKenzie/Hamonic

BOX SCORE

Worcester 1 0 2 0 – 3

Brampton 0 2 1 0 – 4

1st Period-1, Worcester, Langkow 5 (Gaudreau), 19:02. Penalties-Monk Wor (slashing), 6:47; Traccitto Brm (slashing), 8:46.

2nd Period-2, Brampton, Foster 5 (Marino, Petgrave), 2:55. 3, Brampton, Fournier 6 (Marino, MacLean), 14:45 (PP). Penalties-Petgrave Brm (tripping), 0:40; Blain Brm (holding), 12:17; McNally Wor (interference), 14:45.

3rd Period-4, Brampton, Vallorani 1 (Henry, Leveille), 3:28. 5, Worcester, DiChiara 3 (Langkow), 9:59 (PP). 6, Worcester, Langkow 6 (DiChiara, Saracino), 17:51. Penalties-Folkes Brm (high-sticking), 9:36; Foster Brm (hooking), 13:02; Leveille Brm (slashing), 18:55.

OT Period- No Scoring.Penalties-No Penalties

Shootout – Worcester 1 (Lane G, DiChiara NG, Almeida NG, Saracino NG, Gaudreau NG), Brampton 2 (Vallorani NG, Leveille G, MacLean NG, Ciampini NG, Traccitto G).

Shots on Goal-Worcester 11-13-11-1-0-36. Brampton 9-14-11-1-1-36.

Power Play Opportunities-Worcester 1 / 6; Brampton 1 / 2.

Goalies-Worcester, McAdam 5-4-2-2 (35 shots-32 saves). Brampton, Hogberg 4-4-0-1 (36 shots-33 saves).

A-3,421

Referees-Andrea Barone (15).

Linesmen-Michael Fusani (41), Dustin McCrank (37).

Below are today’s obituaries from Worcester funeral homes. ThisWeekinWorcester.com publishes obituaries every day.

A

Haig Arakelian, 97, of Worcester – Obituary

B

Richard K. Battelle, 94, of Worcester – Obituary

Joseph R. Blondin, Jr., 56, of Worcester – Obituary

Violet Miranda (Wright) Bragg, 59, of Worcester – Obituary

Dorene J. (Baker) Brodd, 66, of Rutland – Obituary

C

Gloria M. (Willett) Caloiaro, 92, of Rutland – Obituary

Catherine M.” Cathy” (McGinnis) Casey, 58, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

David George Cole, 81, of Worcester – Obituary

D

Jody A. (Varaska) Dionis, 54, of Worcester – Obituary

E

F

Joyce M. (Grampetro) Forrester, 74, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

G

Jaylinn A. Garcia, 15, of Worcester – Obituary

H

Carole A. (Gagner) Harpie, 80, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

I

J

K

Jane Knapik, 99, of Boylston – Obituary

John A. Koza, 69, of Worcester – Obituary

L

Carol A. Langevin, 69, of Worcester – Obituary

M

Sheila A. (Murray) Rocheleau McLaughlin, 48, of Shrewsbury/Holden – Obituary

William “Bud” B. McManus, 81, of Holden – Obituary

Vaske Melo, of Worcester – Obituary

N

Kathleen F. Nadeau, 72, of Worcester – Obituary

O

P

Ellen M. (Spain) Papaz, 82, of Worcester – Obituary

Rashmi V. Patwardhan, M.D., 69, of Holden – Obituary

Q

R

Rita C. (Arduini) Raymond, 92, of Paxton – Obituary

Peter D. Rigero, 84, of Worcester – Obituary

Nicholas J. Rossetti, Sr. 92, of Auburn – Obituary

S

Leonard A. Salerno, 95, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

Thomas R. Sims, 86, of Holden/Orange – Obituary

T

Josephine Ruth (Landry) Tabor, 91, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

Elaine R. Turcotte, 62, of Worcester – Obituary

U

V

W

X

Y

Timothy Edward Young, 58, of Worcester – Obituary

Z

Below are today’s obituaries from Worcester funeral homes. ThisWeekinWorcester.com publishes obituaries every day.

A

Haig Arakelian, 97, of Worcester – Obituary

B

Richard K. Battelle, 94, of Worcester – Obituary

Joseph R. Blondin, Jr., 56, of Worcester – Obituary

Violet Miranda (Wright) Bragg, 59, of Worcester – Obituary

Dorene J. (Baker) Brodd, 66, of Rutland – Obituary

C

Gloria M. (Willett) Caloiaro, 92, of Rutland – Obituary

Catherine M.” Cathy” (McGinnis) Casey, 58, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

David George Cole, 81, of Worcester – Obituary

D

Jody A. (Varaska) Dionis, 54, of Worcester – Obituary

E

F

Joyce M. (Grampetro) Forrester, 74, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

G

Jaylinn A. Garcia, 15, of Worcester – Obituary

H

Carole A. (Gagner) Harpie, 80, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

I

J

K

Jane Knapik, 99, of Boylston – Obituary

John A. Koza, 69, of Worcester – Obituary

L

Carol A. Langevin, 69, of Worcester – Obituary

M

Sheila A. (Murray) Rocheleau McLaughlin, 48, of Shrewsbury/Holden – Obituary

William “Bud” B. McManus, 81, of Holden – Obituary

Vaske Melo, of Worcester – Obituary

N

Kathleen F. Nadeau, 72, of Worcester – Obituary

O

P

Rashmi V. Patwardhan, M.D., 69, of Holden – Obituary

Q

R

Rita C. (Arduini) Raymond, 92, of Paxton – Obituary

Peter D. Rigero, 84, of Worcester – Obituary

Nicholas J. Rossetti, Sr. 92, of Auburn – Obituary

S

Leonard A. Salerno, 95, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

Thomas R. Sims, 86, of Holden/Orange – Obituary

T

Josephine Ruth (Landry) Tabor, 91, of Shrewsbury – Obituary

Elaine R. Turcotte, 62, of Worcester – Obituary

U

V

W

X

Y

Timothy Edward Young, 58, of Worcester – Obituary

Z

From 2013 to 2016, Esther Acquaye, owner of Esther’s Fashion Paradise in Worcester, processed approximately $282,541 in fraudulent EBT transactions and SNAP benefits.

Acquaye, 31, pleaded guilty on Thursday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to acquire, possess, and redeem SNAP benefits in an unauthorized manner, and to convert public money; one count of SNAP fraud; and one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Hillman scheduled sentencing for March 7, 2018.

According to the Massachusetts Dept. of Justice, over the three year period, Acquaye accepted EBT cards from SNAP recipients wishing to exchange their SNAP benefits for cash. Specifically, Acquaye passed the EBT cards through a point-of-sale terminal causing the full value of the SNAP benefits to be electronically transferred to her business, and then provided less than the full value of the SNAP benefits in cash to the SNAP recipients.

Additionally, on at least four occasions between November 2015 and March 2016, Acquaye accepted an EBT card from an undercover investigator as payment for counterfeit retail goods. Acquaye sold the investigator two counterfeit Michael Kors purses, one counterfeit Gucci purse, one counterfeit The North Face jacket, and one counterfeit Michael Kors wallet.

The charge of conspiracy provides for a sentence of no greater than five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The charge of SNAP fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain/loss, whichever is greater. The charge of trafficking in counterfeit goods provides for a sentence of no greater than 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $2 million. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

WORCESTER – When Peter Bogren stepped away from coaching a decade ago, he truly believed his career as a high school varsity girls’ basketball coach was over.

In this world of second chances, however, Bogren, in fact, got another opportunity to patrol the sidelines – this time at Notre Dame Academy – and he has made the most of it, winning 112 games the past seven seasons, including the Central Mass. Division 2 Championship in 2016.

“I had a family situation where I was needed at home while my son was in high school,” Bogren said. “Doing what I had to do at home was taking away from my coaching which meant it was taking away from me providing the best possible experience for those high school kids. It was time to get out. I had to do that to take care of some stuff at home.”

Bogren had just finished his eighth season as the girls’ varsity basketball coach at his alma mater, Wachusett Regional, when he turned in his whistle, clipboard and scouting reports after the 2006-2007 season.

Coach Bogren with Kate Smiley (left) and Ellie Potvin (right)

For Bogren – a 1982 Wachusett graduate – it was the end of a coaching career with the Mountaineers that began in 1988 when Jim Gately, Wachusett’s varsity girls’ basketball coach at the time, hired Bogren to coach the Mountaineers’ freshman team. During the time Bogren coached at Wachusett he was also a successful AAU girls’ basketball coach.

“I didn’t think I would coach again after I left Wachusett,” said Bogren, who will turn 54 next month. “At the time I told people I was only going to take a couple of years off, maybe three, and then I would be back, but in my heart I believed I was finished.”

Change was the theme of Bogren’s life back in 2007. He not only retired from coaching, but he changed careers, too, taking a job in sales after many, many years as a sixth-grade math teacher in the Spencer-East Brookfield School District.

“A parent, whose daughter I coached in AAU, recruited me to come work for him as the vice-president of sales of a company that provided facility services,” Bogren said, “lawn mowing, office cleaning, that sort of thing. It’s a big company.”

Bogren didn’t completely leave the game of basketball, however. He kept his hand in it by serving as a teacher of individual basketball skills for boys and girls, primarily in Paxton – where he has lived his entire life. It was some of these individual workouts he conducted that led him back to the sidelines.

“One of the kids I was working with, Jackie O’Connor, was a former student of mine, and her father (Pat O’Connor) was her AAU coach,” Bogren explained. “Pat asked me one day if I would help him at one of his AAU practices, and then he asked me to come to another one and another one. It turns out he was also the junior varsity coach at Notre Dame.

“Pat tells me one day in the spring of 2010 that the varsity basketball coach at Notre Dame is not returning and I told him he should apply for the position, that I thought he’d do a great job as the varsity coach,” Bogren said. “He told me he was definitely going to apply, but only so he could get an interview and in the interview tell Patty Provost, the Athletic Director at Notre Dame, that she needed to hire me.”

Coach Bogren with Ellie Potvin (left) and Kate Smiley (right)

O’Connor wasn’t the only one promoting Bogren for the job. Several of his AAU players reached out to him, urging him to apply for the job. A handful of former Wachusett players also contacted Provost and urged her to hire Bogren.

Bogren decided, after all the urging he received from O’Connor – as well as his former players, to apply for the job. He did his due diligence before putting his name in however, having heard over the years that Notre Dame Academy was maybe not the easiest place to serve as girls’ varsity basketball coach.

“I knew they had gone through a few coaches in a few years and I was told that this was a tough school to coach at,” Bogren said. “But I knew some of the kids that were here then, too, and they really wanted me on board. I remember thinking, ‘these are great kids and the parents are great parents.’ So, I decided to give it a shot.”

And he did so with no reservations.

“I figured if I was going to go in, I was going to go in 100 percent,” Bogren said while sitting courtside in the Notre Dame gymnasium. “And it’s all worked out great because this is such a great place to coach. I’ve been here for eight years now and it’s been a dream the whole time.

“Patty is super supportive and the parents have been nothing but supportive, too. I haven’t had a single parent issue in eight years; find me five other coaches in Central Mass., that can say that,” Bogren continued. “And the kids, the kids have just been outstanding. They come in ready to work every single day and I work them to the bone.”

Juniors Kate Smiley and Ellie Potvin, who were freshmen on the Central Mass., title team and will serve as co-captains of this year’s Notre Dame squad, quickly agreed with their coach’s assessment that every Rebels’ practice is hard work.

“Every practice is a competition,” said Potvin, whose sister Abby was a senior on the Central Mass., title team two years ago with Smiley’s sister Allie, who was also a senior during the 2015-2016 season. “You’re working as hard as you can to get minutes on the court. You’re trying to prove yourself every single practice.

“My sister was constantly telling Kate and me freshman year before basketball started how much hard work we were going to have to put in, but I don’t think we really took it seriously because we had played travel ball and AAU and had a ton of coaches,” Potvin said. “I remember thinking, ‘we’re fine; we’re prepared.’ I think we were a little shell-shocked after that first day, but once we got into it, once the season started, we were OK.”

Coach Bogren with Ellie Potvin (left) and Kate Smiley (right)

Smiley attested to how tough a Bogren practice can be by sporting a fat lip at practice earlier this week. The injury was compliments of a head butt from a teammate as she was setting a pick during an offensive drill. Smiley said her older sister warned her when she was a freshman that playing for Bogren was going to test her.

“She tried to prepare me a little for what I was in store for by telling me how intense practice could be,” Smiley said. “She was right, too; the intensity level at practice is always high and it’s high for the whole two hours. But, no matter how intense the practice gets, we know coach is fully supportive of us.”

Kate Smiley and Ellie Potvin are friends as well as teammates and co-captains. As seventh-graders they would come to Notre Dame games, sit together and watch their sisters play.

Like all good coaches, Bogren doesn’t go it alone. He relies on a deep staff that includes Courtney Macaruso, Stephanie Baruth, Joe Kusz and David Fiske. Macaruso and Baruth played for him.

“I first started coaching Courtney when she was 12. She played for me at Wachusett, I coached her in AAU ball and she has been here all eight years that I’ve been here. She is awesome,” Bogren said. “We added Stephanie last year. She is a former student and a former AAU player for me.”

Bogren said Kusz, who has been part of the staff for five years, will miss some bench later time this season in order to have knee replacement surgery. Because of that, Bogren explained, David Fiske has joined the staff. Fiske played at North Brookfield in the early 1970s and led the nation in assists one season.

Bogren is the only Notre Dame coach other than Provost who has won at least 100 games while coaching the Rebels. He bristles when the topic is raised.

“I have not won 100 games. I don’t care what Patty told you; it’s just not true,” Bogren said. “Coaching is about the players, it’s about teaching the game. Nicole Weldon, Taylor McVeigh, Danielle Gaudette, Molly Terry, Allie Smiley, Abby Potvin, Kate Smiley, Ellie Potvin – all the girls – they’ve won the 100 games. I haven’t hit a layup yet.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you how many wins I have. The only thing that matters to me now is that these girls are hopefully going to be 1-0 in two weeks,” said Bogren, whose team will open the season at home Dec. 18 against St. Bernard’s. “I just want us to win our next game. I want us to be 1-0 after our next game – that’s it.”

Not surprisingly, when Bogren made the move back into coaching full-time at the high school level, he also returned to the classroom, again teaching sixth-grade math in Spencer.

“Being a teacher helps me be a coach,” Bogren said. “After all, that’s what coaching is, teaching. I’ve been coaching since I was 18. I never get sick of it. I can’t wait to come to practice every day. Every day is different.

“I just love my kids,” Bogren continued. “These kids I coach are like daughters to me. I have two sons, but this is like having 13 daughters every single year. And I look forward to it. We didn’t have practice on Monday and I missed it.”

Congress is now embroiled in a fractious debate as to the euphemistically named “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”, which the U.S. Senate passed on Saturday. In late November, the House of Representatives approved its own extensive revisions to the Internal Revenue Code. Currently, the House and Senate anticipate further negotiations to settle the differences between the House and Senate bills, in the hope of approving a single bill which can be forwarded to the White House for the President’s signature by late December.

The House and Senate versions do address differently certain key topics related to education. Some of them will have a significant impact on schools and on teachers. All taxpayers will certainly be interested in the debate as to the proposed tax law; it will have a material effect on the taxes we all pay, and on key aspects of education law and policy as well. Pivotal issues to those of us with a particular concern for education are as follows:

The Educator Expense Deduction

In 2002, Congress passed, and President Bush signed, a law allowing elementary and secondary public, private and religious school (K-12) teachers, instructors, counselors, principals and aides to deduct up to $250 for expenditures they make for classroom instructional purposes which are not otherwise reimbursed. This is critical to them– a 2013 survey by a school supplies industry trade group found that 99.5% of public school teachers do pay some classroom expenditures from their own funds, at an average of $945 each. Currently, as noted by the IRS, they can take this deduction, whether they itemize their deductions (Form 1040 Schedule A) or use the “standard deduction, as long as they file their return through Form 1040 or Form 1040A.” The Senate bill would double this deduction to $500. The House bill, however, would eliminate it entirely.

Child Tax Credit

Current tax law allows a “credit” – a direct deduction from a taxpayer’s federal income tax liability – of $1,000 for each child, subject to certain qualifying conditions and income limitations (age, relationship, support, dependent status, citizenship, length of residency and family income). The credit begins to “phase out” at different modified adjusted gross  income levels: $55,000 for married taxpayers filing separately, $75,000 for single, head of household, and qualifying widow or widower taxpayers, and $110,000 for married couples filing joint returns (for each $1,000 of income above the ”phase out limit”, the credit is reduced by $50). Here, both the House and Senate propose an increased credit: to $1,650 for the House, and to $2,000 for the Senate. However, low and middle income families will want to watch for changes to the “phase out limit” which could make a significant difference for them as to the amount of assistance the credit provides them.

Qualified Tuition (Section 529) Savings Plans

The IRS defines Section 529 plans – known as “qualified tuition plans” – as “a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs.” They “are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.” Here, the House bill expands this provision to permit use of funds in these plans for elementary and secondary school expenditures, including school tuitions.  Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed adding this option to the Senate bill, and his amendment passed early on Saturday morning, through a tie-breaking vote (51-50) by the Vice President. Clearly, this provision is designed to make it easier for parents to bankroll the expenditures needed to permit them to place their children in private schools. The change benefits parents who have the means of creating and funding Section 529 plans – likely to be a more wealthy segment of the American population.

State and Local Taxes

Both House and Senate bills will reduce the deductibility of state and local taxes. The House bill permits the deduction of up to $10,000 in local property taxes, and, as of late Friday, the Senate adopted an amendment proposed by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) which would apply this provision to both state and local property taxes.  Some tax analysts, and education advocacy groups, are concerned that this limitation will cause state and local governments to reduce their own taxes – to compensate taxpayers for the lost deductions – thus reducing funds available for education.

Higher Education

Those who are engaged in any manner with higher education have reason to be concerned about the proposed new law as well. The following issues, currently under debate as to the law, warrant close attention:

  • Graduate Student Tuition Waivers. At present, many graduate programs waive tuition, as a benefit for students who are working as research or teaching assistants while studying toward advanced degrees. Currently, these waivers are not taxable under federal law. However, the House version of the proposed law would treat the sums waived as imputed income, and thus as taxable. The impact on graduate students currently enjoying such waivers could be material to them.
  • Student loan interest deduction: Currently – since 1997 – up to $2,500 of interest paid on student loans is deductible annually for federal income tax purposes for taxpayers with a modified adjusted gross income of less than $80,000 ($165,000 if married filing jointly).  The House, however, has voted to eliminate this deduction. That would, of course, have a negative impact, primarily on students of modest means who finance their education through these loans.
  • Tax-free bonds: At present, many non-profit entities, including colleges and universities, are able to utilize tax-exempt financing for certain purposes, such as facilities which assist the education of students. If this provision is changed – as proposed in the House version of the tax bill – financing for such purposes will be more expensive, thus discouraging such new facilities, or adding to their costs, which these entities must pay from other revenue sources, such as tuition.

An annual 1.4 percent excise tax on endowment investment income. This tax, proposed in both the House and Senate versions of this bill, reduces funds which entities with endowments – including many colleges and universities – can currently dedicate to scholarships and other programs which benefit students. It applies to colleges and universities with endowments of $250,000 or more per full-time student. Again, this essentially reduces funding currently available for students, programs and facilities, and applies it to other government purposes.  

  • Private Activity Bonds. Under current law, access to tax-exempt financing through “private activity bonds” enables many colleges and universities, to invest in new facilities and other infrastructure improvement projects that support the education of students. The House bill terminates this access. If colleges and universities can no longer obtain such tax-exempt financing, the cost of borrowing for such purposes will increase, and such facilities will be delayed, or their costs will be absorbed from other revenues, such as tuition.

Clearly, this proposed law has a significant impact on education – public and private – at all levels. Those who are concerned about the wellbeing of the schools which serve our students – and of their staffs – should watch the current debate on Capitol Hill with particular attention.