The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of February 25 to March 4, 2021

Gobi Files Legislation Aimed at Addressing Pyrrhotite Issue

BOSTON (February 19, 2021) -- Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) has filed omnibus legislation aimed at addressing the crumbling foundation issue that has plagued homeowners in the south central part of the state, including homes in Charlton, Monson, Brimfield, Palmer, Longmeadow, and elsewhere, whose home foundations are deteriorating due to the presence of pyrrhotite. The legislation comes in the wake of a report filed last year by the legislative Special Commission established to study the issue, and aims to address a number of the Commission's recommendations. These include establishing tax abatements for affected homeowners, requiring the disclosure of foundation repairs for those looking to sell their home, and creating new standards for quarry operators and concrete producers.

Gobi, co-chair of the Special Commission last year, had this to say on the bill's filing, "It is imperative that we take action to assist homeowners who, through no fault of their own, are faced with the devastating news that their homes foundation is failing. I appreciate the good work of the commission in focusing on areas that can bring relief and I look forward to continuing to work to get these provisions implemented."

The defective concrete in question originated from the JJ Mottes Concrete Company in Stafford Springs, Connecticut during the years 1983 – 2015, and was sourced from Becker's Quarry in Willington, Connecticut. Pyrrhotite is rare, and this location is one of the few in North America where the mineral may be found. Since the early 1980's, Becker's Quarry was the primary source of the stone aggregate used by JJ Mottes to produce concrete, and they have been the only company identified that produced material connected to the deteriorating foundations.

Pyrrhotite causes the slow deterioration of the concrete when exposed to oxygen and water. When present in the aggregate material used to make concrete, the building material itself becomes compromised as water and air enter through small cracks and holes, allowing the iron sulfides to begin breaking down, expanding and allowing more water and air to enter. While the presence of pyrrhotite indicates the potential for concrete deterioration, its existence alone does not necessarily cause it. At this time there is no minimum level of pyrrhotite that is deemed acceptable for use, and homes with small amount of pyrrhotite (less than 0.3%) can still experience crumbling foundations.

The cracking starts small and may take more than 10 years to over 30 years to appear. As the concrete deteriorates it often becomes structurally unsound, and the damage is irreversible. The only permanent solution at this time to fully replace the impacted foundation with a new foundation that does not contain pyrrhotite.

The pyrrhotite issue has been studied extensively and addressed by the Connecticut legislature, which moved to develop a captive insurance company funded by bonding and a surcharge on homeowners' insurance policies in order to help the thousands of residents that have been affected. In Massachusetts the scope of this issue is still unknown, but the Special Commission did identify 95,073 homes built within the aforementioned time period that fit inside the distance parameters.

The bill filed by the Senator, SD. 1688, An Act Relative to Crumbling Concrete Foundations, aims to address a number of the primary concerns raised by the Special Commission last year. The main points aspects of the bill are outlined here:

  • Establishes new standards for entities seeking a permit to mine or expand a quarry to include a test for pyrrhotite, and requiring that producers of concrete and aggregate products maintain a record of the aggregate source in their concrete batches
  • Allows for affected homeowners to apply for residential property tax abatements with their board of assessors until the foundation is able to be repaired or replaced
  • Waives all building permit fees for work associated with crumbling foundation replacement work
  • Requires that homeowners looking to sell their home disclose to a potential purchaser whether they have had any testing or repairs done to their foundation
There remains in place a foundation testing program allowing residents to be reimbursed for the costs associated with visual and core testing, which Gobi was able to secure originally in the FY19 budget cycle. That program allows homeowners to be reimbursed at a rate of 100% for visual testing conducted by a licensed professional engineer up to $400, and a rate of 75% for core sample testing up to $5,000.

For more information on the bill or the foundation testing program, please contact Senator Gobi's office by email at

Meredith Barrieau, First Deputy Auditor, Receives National Leadership Award from the Association of Government Accountants

Boston, MA (February 24 2021) -- Today, Meredith K. Barrieau, first deputy auditor for the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) was presented with the William R. Snodgrass Distinguished Leadership Award from the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). Barrieau received the award during the AGA's National Leadership Training annual conference, which was held virtually. She was recognized for her leadership adopting new technologies and expanding agency wide professional development standards.

"Meredith leads by example. She demonstrates the values, integrity, and commitment to quality that has made our office a national leader in government accountability," said Auditor Suzanne M. Bump. "Over the last year, her steady leadership has helped the OSA continue to deliver results for the residents of the Commonwealth, despite the challenges of the pandemic. I can think of no person more deserving of this significant honor."

"The William R. Snodgrass award recognizes those who through their sustained and exceptional actions, leads to improved financial management practices, policies, systems or operations. Meredith consistently exhibited the highest personal and professional standards," said Ann Ebberts, AGA chief executive officer. "From all that I know about Meredith, she exemplifies the leadership and dedication that is characterized by this award."

"I am truly honored to receive this distinguished leadership award. I feel privileged to work for Auditor Bump and to be part of such a talented and dedicated team of professionals at the OSA," Barrieau said. "It has been a rewarding experience to be involved in expanding OSA audit policies and professional development programs, as well as delivering meaningful audits to assist the Commonwealth and to help the office become a national leader in government accountability."

Barrieau was one of Bump's first hires after she was elected in 2011 and was brought on to help ensure the office met the highest standards in government auditing. She has served as first deputy auditor since 2019. During her tenure at the OSA, she has led the office's last three successful peer reviews from the National State Auditor's Association (2014, 2017, and 2020), revamped the office's quality assurance and training units, and has implemented professional development programs for audit staff—including the office's career path and internship programs.

Prior to joining the OSA, Barrieau worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers for 10 years, as part of both the audit division and advisory consulting practice. She is a certified public accountant, certified fraud examiner, and is also certified in financial forensics. She received her bachelor's degree in accounting from Saint Anselm College in 2001.

The AGA's William R. Snodgrass Distinguished Leadership Award honors state government professionals who exemplify and promote excellence in government financial management and who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in enhancing sound financial management legislation, regulations, practices, policies and systems.

Gobi Returns to Beacon Hill, Announces Committee Assignments and Staffing

SPENCER (February 25, 2021) - Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) has returned to the State House for the 2021-2022 legislative session. With the Senate ratifying assignments, Gobi has been reappointed Chair of the Joint Committee on Public Higher Education, and will now serve as Vice Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Redistricting. Additionally she will continue to serve as a member on the powerful Senate Ways and Means Committee. New to the 2021-2022 session, Gobi has been tapped to serve as a member on the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, and the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs. She offered the following statement: "I am looking forward to an exciting and challenging session as we work together to recover and thrive. In addition to my committee appointments the office stays very busy responding to concerns and answering questions. I am fortunate to have a wonderful staff that assists in providing personal and professional service to all who live and work in the district."

Gobi will be joined by returning staff:

W. Stuart Loosemore serves as Chief of Staff and General Counsel, and manages budget policy and local budget requests.

Yael D. Langer will continue to serve as Legislative Director. Langer oversees Senator Gobi’s legislative portfolio, and provides staffing for all committee assignments.

Derek J. Silver, a Hardwick native, will serve as Communications Director and Scheduler. Silver manages the Senator’s schedule and is the primary point of contact for all press inquiries.

Lucas G.F. McDiarmid, a Palmer resident, continues as District Director. He provides grant assistance for district municipalities, manages intergovernmental affairs, and assists with constituent services.

Craig Lundberg continues to serve as Director of Constituent Services. Lundberg provides assistance to constituents on a variety of matters, helping to navigate the Executive Branch and state agencies.