City seeking innovative ideas for snow removal

The city of Boston has reached out to academics, business leaders and even ordinary citizens for ideas on how to get rid of the tons of snow still clogging city streets.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Martin Walsh said Tuesday the city’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is seeking snow removal solutions, and anyone with an innovative idea, product, or approach should get in touch.

She tells The Boston Globe the office has already contacted professors from local universities and companies in the state’s innovation economy.

The snow is being stored in empty lots called ‘snow farms’ and being liquefied by snow-melting machines that reduce snow to water at a rate of 400 tons per hour.

Walsh has also contacted state environmental leaders about dumping snow into the harbor.

Stalled large truck hauling larger boat snarls traffic

This was one hull of a traffic jam.

A large truck towing an even bigger boat broke down in downtown Boston, snarling traffic in the heart of the city’s bustling Financial District.

WCVB-TV reported the 36-foot yacht Maggie Mae was being hauled Wednesday to the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for this weekend’s New England Boat Show when the truck stalled.

Boston’s narrow streets are tighter than usual because of heavy snow accumulation over the past two weeks.

Workers eventually got the truck and boat out of the congested neighborhood.


Tow truck driver killed while helping in breakdown lane

State police say a tow truck operator has been struck and killed while helping a motorist in the breakdown lane of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

Police said the tow truck driver was struck by a box truck at about 3 p.m. Wednesday near exit 10 in Auburn.

Police said the box truck driver, 45-year-old Richard Taylor of Taunton, was not injured.

The crash is still under investigation.

Two lanes of the highway were closed for about three hours.


Snowblower thefts rise along with snow levels

Police in one Massachusetts town are urging people not to take their eyes off their snowblowers as they dig out from recent record snowfall.

Methuen police says six snowblowers have been stolen in town since late January, including three on Monday alone.

Capt. Randy Haggar described the snowblower thefts as “a crime of opportunity” and says in most cases they were left outside, unattended and unsecured.

Officer Dan O’Connell, who is out as he recovers from surgery, tells The Eagle-Tribunesomeone swiped his $1,300 snowblower from his driveway Monday night as he was inside getting his son ready for bed.

He says his wife’s car usually blocks the snowblower, but she was at a meeting that night, making the machine visible from the road.


Priest gets probation in theft of $240,000

A Roman Catholic priest has been placed on five years’ probation and ordered to repay nearly $240,000 he stole from his former parish to cover a gambling addiction.

The Telegram & Gazette of Worcester reports the Rev. Stephen Gemme was sentenced after pleading guilty Wednesday to two counts of larceny.

Gemme told Judge Janet Kenton-Walker he is “deeply ashamed and sorry.”

He was removed from his job at St. Bernadette Parish in Northborough in 2013 after the loss was discovered. Prosecutors said Gemme stole the money over a five-year period beginning in 2008, five years after he became pastor.

Gemme is on medical leave and undergoing treatment for problem gambling.

Several fellow priests and other supporters attended his sentencing.

Gemme’s lawyer said he is a “devoted priest” who wants to repay the debt.


N.H. police on the hunt for Punxsutawney Phil

Police in snow-swamped New Hampshire are hunting for Public Enemy No. 1: The suspect is described as short and furry with brown eyes and big, pointy teeth.

Looking to lighten the mood after a series of snowstorms, Merrimack police posted a gag on their Facebook page asking the public to rat out Punxsutawney Phil, the Pennsylvania groundhog who last week predicted six more weeks of winter.

Police Chief Mark Doyle said the idea came during a conversation with Lt. Denise Roy as they shook their heads over the three major storms that have thumped New England since Jan. 27.

Doyle has heard from good citizens that Phil may be in Canada with Sasquatch. Others say the critter was spotted in New Orleans with a fistful – pawful? – of Mardi Gras beads.

It’s not the first time Phil’s gotten in trouble with the law: Officials in Ohio in 2013 “indicted” him for misrepresentation of spring, a felony “against the peace and dignity of the state.”

On the New Hampshire Facebook page, Phil is described as “armed and dangerous.” Doyle says if he gets his hands on the wily woodchuck, he’s got the perfect sentence in mind:

“Life in the hole without parole,” he said.

– From news services