Saturday December 1, 2012

Boston church considers sale of historic hymnal

BOSTON (AP) -- One of the nation’s oldest churches is considering selling a copy of the first book ever published in British North America.

Members of the Old South Church in Boston on Sunday are scheduled to vote on whether to sell one of their two copies of the Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640, along with a collection of Colonial-era silver. They say the sale could help pay for repairs and assure the financial future of the church, established in 1669.

A Sotheby’s executive calls the psalm book "the Gutenberg Bible of America," and says it could fetch $10 million to $20 million at auction. Just 11 copies remain. The church’s lay leadership has mostly endorsed the idea. Some remain strongly opposed. Church historian Jeff Makholm calls the sale "preposterous and irresponsible."

Hassan to hold
two inaugural balls

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Gov.-elect Maggie Hassan is planning two inaugural balls after she is sworn in as New Hampshire’s governor on Jan. 3.

Her inaugural committee is holding the first ball on Jan. 4 at the Radisson Center of New Hampshire in Manchester. The second ball will be Jan. 12 at the Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods.

The public can find out about inauguration events at a new website: www.hassaninauguration.org .

Hassan also is planning to greet the public at an open house at the Statehouse after she is sworn in on Jan. 3.

Springfield sees lower tax bills for most homeowners

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says the property tax rate he is proposing would lower tax bills for about 86 percent of single-family homeowners in the next fiscal year.

Sarno on Friday recommended a residential tax rate of $19.71 per $1,000 valuation, and a rate of $38.91 for commercial and industrial properties. The proposal is expected to be considered by the city council on Monday. The mayor says preliminary data shows that under his plan, the average tax bill for a single-family homeowner would fall by $146 to $2,507, the lowest rate since 2009.

He says most business property owners would also see a lower bill and that the tax rate strikes a balance between helping homeowners and promoting a positive business climate for the largest city in western Massachusetts.

UMass student’s death ruled an accident

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) -- Authorities say a University of Massachusetts student has died from injuries she suffered in a fall while walking with friends near the Amherst campus.

Investigators have ruled the late-night Nov. 16 fall an accident. The student’s name has not been released out of respect for her family, a university spokesman said.

The fire department responded to Fearing Street and brought the woman to a Springfield hospital with a head injury.

The fire chief says the woman had been drinking prior to the accident, but it was unclear how much she had consumed and if her fall was caused by the alcohol.