SHIRLEY -- Leafing through recent correspondence, Chairman Kendra Dumont said the selectmen received a letter from the Department of Corrections, confirming that the DOC budget included funds earmarked for Massachusetts communities that host state prisons. With amounts based on prison population, Shirley should receive $239,656 within 30 days, Dumont said.

However, the money goes into the General Fund. "We can't spend it this year," she said, noting that the windfall represents funds reinstated from last year. Sen. James Eldridge and state Rep. Jennifer Benson worked hard on the hill to get prison mitigation funding restored, she said.

In the past, the town's so-called "MCI money" has been used for purposes such as infrastructure and public safety equipment. Thus, the $5,000 needed for a new radiator for the Fire Department ladder truck would have been covered.

As it stands, though, the selectmen said they had advised Fire Chief Dennis Levesque to fund the expense out of his departmental budget. If he runs short as a result later this year, he can go to the Finance Committee to request a reserve fund transfer.

Block grant with Ayer

Another letter was from the Ayer Board of Selectmen in regard to a block grant. If Shirley were to join in, it would allow the two towns to share regional planning services to get grants. The selectmen's recommendation was to have the Economic Development Committee look into it and keep the board informed.

Nashoba Tech RFP

Nashoba Valley Regional Technical High School has issued its annual call for proposals from its member communities for student projects related to various training areas in the school's curriculum, including carpentry, cabinetry, electrical, plumbing and heating and culinary arts. The deadline to submit projects for consideration is Nov. 1.

The Town Offices building could certainly use the student's services, Selectman Robert Prescott said, with any number of repairs for a group of "aspiring carpenters" to tackle.

The board agreed to have Building Inspector Donald Farrar generate a list, bearing in mind that the school sets height restrictions, as Swain pointed out. Roof repairs, for example, are probably beyond the scope of student projects.

-- M.E. Jones