WESTFORD — Welcome to the Sept. 10 edition of Weekend Wrap-Up. Here, we highlight the most important news you may have missed this week in Westford.
A storm on Friday afternoon has left many residents without power through Saturday morning.
According to National Grid, over 2,000 customers, mostly concentrated in Nabnasset, are still without power at the time of reporting. Hundreds of other customers in Forge Village and Westford Center remain without power, with minimal outages reported in Graniteville.
The Department of Public Works and public safety crews are still clearing debris from the roadways, according to an announcement from the Town of Westford.
“Please use common sense when going out and give our crews time to clear the roads,” the town wrote on its website.
“In conversations with National Grid at 10AM, they are resolving a number of emergency calls in the area. Back up crews are arriving from Canada and National Grid expects to make significant progress on standard restorations by the end of the day,” they added.
As of Sunday evening, National Grid reported “minimal” outages remaining in Westford.
Westford’s own Ghosts dominated players from Lowell High, 22-0, on Saturday, during the Academy’s home opener.
The game, originally scheduled for Friday night, was marred by delays following a power outage at Westford Academy from an afternoon thunderstorm.
Ghost quarterback Jake Cullen scored the first touchdown in the opening quarter, with Ryan Kyle adding the extra point with four seconds left in the quarter.
Alex Wilson scored his first, and the Ghost’s second touchdown of the night in the second quarter. Jake Cullen secured a two-point conversion run, giving the Ghosts a 15-0 edge at the end of the second quarter.
The Ghosts 15-0 lead stood through the third quarter, until Wilson scored an 89 yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, marking his second touchdown of the night. Kyle once again secured the extra point, marking the final point of the night.
The body of a man who died of an apparent drowning at Merrill’s Quarry on Labor Day has been identified, according to state police.
Officials from Massachusetts State Police told WestfordCAT that Chester D. Rodriguez, 18, of Methuen, was swimming with friends when he began struggling and went underwater, where he did not resurface.
According to a release from the Westford Fire Department, first responders received a 911 call at approximately 4:16 p.m. to report a possible drowning in the quarry.
Crews from Westford Fire Department and Westford Police Department, as well as Tyngsborough Fire-Rescue began searching the last known area of the individual. Massachusetts State Police Air Wing and the Lowell Fire Department dive team were requested to assist with the water search.
At approximately 5:24 p.m., the body of Rodriguez was recovered by the Lowell Fire Department dive team after he failed to resurface after jumping into Merrill’s Quarry, located off of Vineyard Road.
A Tyngsborough firefighter was transported to Lowell General Hospital by Westford paramedics for minor injuries related to the search.
There is no evidence of foul play, according to state police.
The incident is under investigation by the Westford Police Department. No further information is available at the time of reporting.
After over a year of negotiations, officials and a number of Westford’s educators have approved a new contract through June 30, 2026.
The new contract includes a number of increased cost of living adjustments for faculty, which includes full-time teaching staff and nursing staff. These adjustments range from 2% in the first year to up to 4.64% in the third year of the contract.
“With inflation, there was no way our members would entertain another one-year for 2%. We are extremely grateful that the town stated they want to bring us to average among our competing towns,” Westford Education Association President Kristine Jussaume told WestfordCAT in an email.
She added, “we know we are worth more than average, but the current budget does not support above-average pay.”
The contract includes increased longevity payments, where staff who work multiple consecutive years with Westford Public Schools receive additional pay based on their tenure. The contract also includes increased stipend payments and changes to substitute and teacher recommendation policies among others.
Other changes include parent-teacher conferences, which will now be held on two back-to-back early release days in December, rather than before Thanksgiving.
“I am very pleased that we were able to get a settled contract with our teachers. It was a very long process as there was a tremendous amount of data being analyzed, shared and considered by both sides,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Christopher Chew told WestfordCAT in an email.
He added, “but we were able to reach a tentative agreement right at the end of the school year.
Negotiators voted to ratify the agreement on the first day of school, which Chew said was a “wonderfully positive way to get the year started.”
Unit E contract in mediation
Education Support Professionals, represented by Unit E, have begun their second year without a new contract.
According to Jussaume, the “sticking point,” is over hourly wages, with members currently making less than $25,000 per year.
“Unfortunately many Unit E members choose to leave the system over the summer due to inadequate wages,” she said.
She added, “we are still hopeful Westford will increase hourly wages so that we can attract and maintain the adequate number of Educational Support Professionals to uphold current student educational needs.”
According to Chew, negotiations remain in mediation since the spring and “have not progressed beyond that at this time.”