Board Approves In-Law Apartment and Pool

There were a couple of tense moments when the future of William and Tamara LaPiere’s plans for an in-law apartment and in-ground swimming pool seemed uncertain. The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals had a lot of questions and concerns about the “unusual” nature of the LaPieres’ special permit and variance requests, and Chairman Richard Cutler was not about to just hand them out that easily.

Due to the irregularly shaped property located at 46 Paradise Lane, the LaPieres would require a variance for a property line setback for their swimming pool, even without the in-law suite addition. When asked which one was their priority, Mr. LaPiere said the pool, but what they really wanted was approval for both.

Board member Kirby Gilmore said his only concern was that a second bedroom could be added to the in-law apartment, and he wanted to place a condition that the addition be limited to just one bedroom.

There was a question as to whether or not the variance for the pool met the bylaw’s three-prong definition of a hardship, and Infinity Construction owner Robert Ferreira argued that in order to build the addition, the shape of the lot would not allow the pool to be installed anywhere else and there would be no room for further expansion on the property in the future.

Ferreira gave Cutler a printed email from the rear abutter to the property expressing support for the project.

“Okay, this is a little unusual,” said Cutler. He added that, so far, everything Ferreira presented that evening had been a little bit unusual.

“We have some discussion when it comes to special permits,” said Cutler. “We have no discussion when it comes to variances,” adding that the bylaws determine if a variance is issued.

At that, the public hearing closed and final deliberation began. Board member Randal Cabral said he concurred with Kirby, recommending a condition to limit the addition to one-bedroom in the future. Kirby rehashed his reasons for granting approval for both petitions, followed by a tense moment of silence until Cutler asked the board which petition they should address first.

The board approved both the special permit and the variance unanimously.

Also during the meeting, petitioners Richard and Lynette Torres had to continue their hearing for an in-law suite addition on their 157 Pine Street property because they only had a rough plan, not a certified plan, to present to the board.

“You don’t get approval without a plot plan,” said Cutler. “We need to see what the as-built is.”

“Including the proposed,” added Cabral.

Mrs. Torres told the board that the couple wanted to present the rough plan to the board for feedback before paying the expenses of having a certified plan developed if their chance for approval was slim.

“I’d say that it’s quite likely that it’s going to be ok, but we can’t vote on this,” said Cutler.

The hearing was continued until August 14, the next scheduled meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals.

By Jean Perry


Stranded Sightseers Greeted with Kindness

If their bus had not broken down, then 34 sightseers from Delaware and Maryland would never have known that the quaint, charming center of Mattapoisett even existed. But there they were, seated at picnic tables and benches, smiling their way into the afternoon and appreciating the hospitality shown to them by the locals who came to the tourists’ aid with tea and issues of The Wanderer to pass the time.

A broken-down bus, far away from home while vacationing around Buzzards Bay, sounds more like a disaster than a serendipitous delight. Yet, on a picture perfect day like Wednesday, July 22 and under a shady tree by the bay, Shipyard Park became a welcomed oasis to a group of out-of-town senior citizens whose Jor-Lin Tour & Charter bus came to a halt on Route 6 after experiencing some mechanical problems driving home on Interstate 195.

“The bus was starting to have trouble last night,” said Dot Tonarelli of Baltimore, Maryland. By the time they reached Route 6 in Mattapoisett, the bus was traveling just under 25 miles per hour. “There was a lot of jerking back and forth,” said Tonarelli.

When asked what went through her mind when the bus arrived at Route 6, Robin James of Delaware said she thought, “Like, can I have a nice spot like ‘this’ and not on the highway?” James looked around at the scenery at Shipyard Park where she was sitting, drinking herbal tea provided to the group by a local business and smiled. “So I’m all right with ‘this’,” she laughed. “It’s beautiful,” added James.

“It’s not the worst place to be stuck, huh?” said Harbormaster Jill Simmons to the group. Simmons, along with members of the Police and Fire Departments, tended to the group of seniors to make sure they were comfortable, handing out bottled water and issues of the local weekly newspapers.

“It’s like having a fifth day of vacation,” said Lulu Heath of Delaware.

The tour group had been on a three-day tour around Buzzards Bay, with the highlights being Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod, and Hyannisport. They were set to head back home that morning before the unexpected detour led them to Mattapoisett.

“Everyone’s been so nice,” said Tonarelli. “The scenery, the people – everything.”

James said they were keeping positive and Tonarelli agreed, commenting that they might as well make the most of it.

“We are happy to just walk up and down the beach, enjoy the scenery, eat … and just enjoy the park,” said Heath.

Millie and John Tolodziecki of Delaware sat on a bench together in the shade reading their copies of The Wanderer, looking relaxed and content.

“You couldn’t ask for a nicer place to break down,” said Mr. Tolodziecki.

The group was told that they might be waiting in Mattapoisett for either another tour bus to come get them or for repairs to the broken-down bus – possibly up to five hours. To make the most of it, as Tonarelli put it, many took to the park to rest while others went for walks through the center of Town or sought refuge in the restaurant across the street.

“We’ll be fine,” said Tonarelli.

Dennis Stordahl of Delaware said the layover at Shipyard Park was a positive experience for him.

“I think you people are great. You’ve been so kind to us,” said Stordahl. “You don’t usually find that degree of kindness everywhere.”

By Jean Perry

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Tri-Town Libraries Receive State Grant

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the public libraries in Rochester, Marion, and Mattapoisett to serve students in grades 3 through 8 and their families. The grant is one of 46 awarded across the state funded by the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Only one other collaborative grant was offered as part of the LSTA program.

The Elizabeth Taber Library, the Plumb Memorial Library, and the Mattapoisett Free Public Library worked together on a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program, along with science educator Michelle Cusolito. The grant, “My Own Backyard,” introduces children to the natural resources in their respective towns and allows them to explore, experiment and record data, with the help of local professionals. Library resources and Explorer Backpacks, created by the library staff, will enable the young “citizen scientists” to learn more about the environment, weather, plants, and animals. The materials and programs will also expose them to a variety of careers and professionals. The backpacks can be checked out by families and caregivers and shared among the libraries.

“I’m especially excited to be a part of this grant because it combines two of my passions: nature and books! I’ve worked as a naturalist, classroom teacher, and now writer of nature books for children,” said science educator and author Michelle Cusolito. “My family makes heavy use of our local libraries. I’m thrilled to be able to give back to my community in this way.”

“This grant and its programs will allow children to explore the outdoors and engage in their own area’s natural resources. It will also provide the opportunity for students to meet and learn from a variety of science professionals in the Tri-Town area, and become stewards of their land,” said Elizabeth Taber Library Director Elisabeth O’Neill.

“We are particularly pleased to be working together on this project because we serve many of the same families, and our students enter the same schools once they reach the junior high grades. Complementing what is offered in the schools by promoting outside exploration will be enriching for everyone involved,” said Mattapoisett Free Public Library Director Susan Pizzolato. “This builds on the exciting visit to our area by nature educator Richard Louv of The Children and Nature Network a few years ago.”

A number of local organizations, agencies and businesses partnered with the libraries, and will be offering their expertise as the project develops over the year. The local land trusts, conservation commissions, and cranberry businesses, among others, will be assisting with site-specific adventures for students during all four seasons.

The project will begin in October and run for one year. The funds will enable each library to purchase books and materials for the grade levels, create the backpacks, and offer programs in all three towns for children and adults. More information will be posted soon on each library’s website and Facebook page.

Mattapoisett Community Blood Drive

The American Red Cross will hold a Mattapoisett Community Blood Drive on Thursday, July 31 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Bay Club, County Road.

To make an appointment to donate blood, please call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit us at

The American Red Cross is facing a looming blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give.

Donations through the Red Cross are down approximately eight percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.

The shortfall in donations is significant enough that the Red Cross could experience an emergency shortage in the coming weeks. Please make an appointment to give now to help replenish the blood supply.

Eligible blood and platelet donors are urged to roll up a sleeve and give to help prevent an emergency shortage and ensure an adequate blood supply for patients. The need for blood donors with types O-negative, B-negative, and A-negative is especially urgent.

Patients don’t get a summer vacation from needing blood. The Red Cross encourages donors to make an appointment now to help ensure a stable supply in the weeks ahead.


Quaker Fundraising Events

Ten days of fund-raising activities will begin Saturday as Mattapoisett Friends Meeting continues its search for funds to restore the 1827 meeting house on Route 6.

So far, $80,000 has been raised of the $245,000 estimated cost of repairs. Work on Phase 1 is expected to start in late August or September.

On Saturday, August 2, a yard sale/crafts fair will be held at the meeting house, 103 Marion Road (Rte. 6). Potential vendors should call 508-748-0098 to see if space is still available.

On Sunday, August 3, a donation-only family meat pie supper will be held at 5:30 pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Please call 508-758-3579 to see if reservations can still be made. A silent auction from 3:00 – 6:30 pm will be held at the same place. You do not have to attend supper to bid.

Saturday, August 9 is Donation Day at the meeting house from 8:00 am – 12:00 noon. Summer and area residents will have the opportunity to visit the meeting house and ancient cemetery. Bring items for the meeting’s planned October sale (no electronics or electricals), or donate loose change, paper money, good checks, returnable bottles and cans, collectibles for possible sale on eBay, stamp and coin collections, old photographs, autographs, gift certificates, canned goods and other food for the St. Vincent de Paul Society food pantry at St. Anthony Church. Please don’t think any gift is too small.

On Sunday, August 10, area residents, young and old, are invited to experience an abbreviated traditional Quaker worship hour at 9:30 am followed at 10:00 am by a talk on the history of Quakers in New England and Old Rochester in particular. At 7:00 pm, two visiting Quakers from Cuba will speak on the growing Quaker movement in that country and answer questions. The public is invited. There is no charge.

Learn to Quahog in Mattapoisett

Join the Buzzards Bay Coalition at Camp Massasoit – at the end of Reservation Road in Mattapoisett – on Saturday, August 9 from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm for a fun, free program to learn to dig your own quahogs from Buzzards Bay. Experts with the Coalition will teach you the basics of local quahogging: what you need, how to do it, and where to go. This will be a “dig and release” event, unless you have a current Mattapoisett shellfish permit.

This program is part of the Coalition’s Bay Adventures series, which are programs designed for explorers of all ages to get outside and discover Buzzards Bay. To learn more about all our upcoming Bay Adventures, visit

Registration is required for all Bay Adventures. To RSVP, email or call 508-999-6363 ext. 219.

Hamlin: Eyewitness to History

I recently attended Seth Mendell’s lecture on the building of the Cape Cod Canal in honor of its centennial anniversary. Surprisingly, Mendell began the history of the canal with the Pilgrims settling in the area. From then until now, the Cape Cod Canal has been a figment of imagination and a massive flowing reality. With a blank canvas upon which to draw the rich local history of this major historical event, Mendell filled my brain.

Yet, stepping through the mists of time from that auspicious day in July 1914 stood one person: Huybertie Hamlin (b. April, 1878 – d. March, 1964). She was there observing and experiencing first hand all the monumental changes that took place in the late 1800s and through to the mid-1960s. Living in a time that saw the industrial revolution propel the world into new areas of thought and mechanical ingenuity, she was a woman slightly ahead of her day. A contemporary and lifelong friend of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Hamlin hobnobbed with the rich and famous, a social group into which she was born in Albany, New York.

Although I was thoroughly delighted and enlightened to learn the history of the first and second Cape Cod Canals (yes there were two, well, sort of two and a half), it was she who intrigued me, she who seemed to want her eyewitness account to be heard again. Thanks to Hamlin’s chronicling of this wonder of construction capabilities, we can still hear her voice.

But first let me give you the briefest history of the Cape Cod Canal you’ll find anywhere. As far back as the days when Myles Standish and his contemporaries roamed the sandy beaches at Head-of-the-Bay in Bourne and beyond, a canal was imagined. Assuredly not on the scale it is today, they envisioned a more modest canal similar to those that were common throughout northern Europe. Something comparable to the small cuttings with locks that were sliced through Britain, Holland, and France to help manage the water’s depth, currents, and tides and which allowed easier movement of people and goods even though they most likely allowed traffic in a single direction.

And so the notion of digging through the Isthmus of Cape Cod was pondered for many centuries. Along with Standish, George Washington thought about a canal, Dutch traders from New York and Pennsylvania thought about a canal, as well as more southerly merchants who wanted to get their goods to Boston and north to Portland. They had the foresight to dream, but lacked the technological wherewithal. All these people believed it could and would one day be done; the need was great.

Without a canal, those wanting to get from Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay and vice versa had to navigate rivers that were little more than streams and then portage overland or sail 165 miles around Provincetown. There were numerous attempts throughout the 1800s, and the Senate conducted a study in 1818 that went directly into a library never to be seen again. As commerce was increasing along with tourism to the Cape, all the canal idea needed was time, money, and know-how.

The Ship Canal Company tried to build a canal. It sold shares in what was slated to become a for-profit toll canal. They purchased land while other parcels were taken by eminent domain and sold shares at $100 per unit. They brought Italian workers to the Cape by the hundreds. But, for ten years, the project stalled. Enter August Belmont.

In 1904, Belmont bought them out at a much depressed price per share and began to build a team that could get this project moving again. Belmont’s lineage is rich with people who changed the course of politics, policies, and commerce on an international level. His maternal grandfather was none other than Commodore Matthew Perry who sailed into Tokyo Harbor and demanded the Emperor to “open your ports.”

Belmont knew that the construction of the canal needed engineering on a scale equal to that which was taking place in Panama. So when William Parsons, a civil engineer with an impeccable resume who had been part of the engineering team in Panama became available, Belmont brought him on-board the Cape Cod Canal project. From 1905 until 1914, the canal was designed and built. At times, crews worked 12-hour days with only two days off per year. There was heavy equipment, boulders to be moved or exploded both above ground and underwater, special rail cars to remove dirt from the site, and ships to ferry dirt away to designated dumping locations. It was a Herculean undertaking. Belmont was determined to stay the course “until the last shovel” full of dirt was removed with a goal of opening up his canal before the completion of the Panama Canal. They succeeded with a mere 17 days to spare.

Hamlin saw it all. She wrote, “We had gone over to see the work at various stages during the intervening years and General Charles Taylor of Buzzards Bay had been most kind in showing the progress to us every summer when we went over to luncheon with him and Mrs. Taylor.” (Taylor’s Point is now the location of Mass Maritime Academy). Further on she recorded, “…the Scussett and Manumet Rivers had to be changed entirely in their courses as they were small and crooked streams. Manumet in Indian means “the trail of the burden carrier”. Hamlin describes two beautiful highway bridges that in later years would be closed to traffic for security reasons when ships carrying supplies to Camp Edwards sailed through.

Mendell told us that before the canal was cut through, the first two bridges were built roughly where they are located today to ensure that movement back and forth from the Cape would remain unimpeded. He said they were ‘dry built’ with no water passing under them at first.

On the grand opening day of July 4, 1914, Hamlin described a flotilla of ships and boats that gathered in New Bedford. The plan was to sail through the canal from Buzzards Bay into Cape Cod Bay, turn around, and dock at Taylor’s Point for a grand opening ceremony. Many dignitaries, politicians and the like were making the trip and were on the agenda to speak at this ceremonial opening.

Hamlin wrote, “Assistant Secretary of the Navy Roosevelt invited us to go with him on a U.S. torpedo boat the Destroyer from New Bedford. Anna and I accepted but Charlie had promised to go in the Rose Standish with the State officials and speakers.” As Mendell explained, the Rose Standish was a passenger carrier, a 993-gross ton steel-hulled paddle steamship, designed for calm waters.

At 9:00 am, Hamlin was in New Bedford on the Destroyer and watched as Belmont’s personal vessel, the Scout, headed the parade of ships from the harbor. “It was a lovely sight on a lovely day” with no shadow cast on the day from “the far away murder of the Austrian Arch Duke in a place called Sarajevo … We knew and cared little about these European imbroglios…”

Heading toward Grey Gables, the Scout “broke the ribbon … horns blew … steam whistles sounded … sirens blared … the banks were thronged with people waving…”

            She then describes a strong northeasterly wind, believing it to be the worst thing for the navigation of vessels at this location along with water height differences and tidal shifts between the two bays, “…Buzzards Bay was rising while Massachusetts Bay was falling…” It became a very choppy mess to get through.

“It was with great difficulty that the ships turned about in the Bay to return through the canal to Bourne … The Standish was overloaded with people and it looked as if that excursion boat would tip over … our Destroyer let the Standish get far ahead as the tide was rushing hard with the wind to push it and our ship was a much faster one but the poor Standish was rushed past the wharf at Bourne where a great crowd in an enormous tent waited for the speakers. The Standish had to run down the five mile channel before she could turn in Buzzards Bay and bring back the speakers…it took two hours for this extra performance.”

All was well that ended well, and Belmont’s canal made him money as a toll waterway. The first year, an estimated 2,000 vessels went through, with double that the following year.

However, in 1918, citing security reasons after a German boat came dangerously close to Nauset Beach, President Wilson ordered that the Federal Railroad Administration take over operation of the canal. After WWI, Belmont with great hesitation resumed responsibility of the canal while concurrently negotiating with the government to sell it to them. Finally, in 1927, a deal was made for which Belmont received $11.5 million, probably $5 million less than he originally invested, as Mendell speculates. Once the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers had control of the canal, it made improvements, reconstructing and modifying the location of this glorious and massive waterway.

As for Hamlin, Mendell told us she was an extraordinary woman. She, too, was a visionary. She spearheaded an organization known as the Mattapoisett Improvement League, which aided in opening public spaces in Mattapoisett – notably Shipyard Park – municipal trash collection, town beach, and tree plantings. She was also a published author (as was her mother), and wrote An Albany Girlhood that is still available. I found it on Amazon! Now wouldn’t that thrill her? Mendell’s elder family members were also contemporaries of Hamlin, and he recalls that all felt she was an exceptional person whose talents benefited the beautification of Mattapoisett.

Some of her personal papers are resting in the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum, which is presently in the process of cataloging its vast collection into 21st century style computerized records. The museum’s summer program includes additional events featuring Mendell: walking tours on August 2 and 16 (stepping off from the museum at 2:00 pm) and a lecture on local mover and shaker Joseph Meigs on August 31 at 5:00 pm in Shipyard Park. All events are free, but donations appreciated.

So the next time you look at the Cape Cod Canal, think of that day long ago when Mrs. Charles “Bertie” Hamlin witnessed its opening while chatting with Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I think she would like to be remembered in part as an eyewitness to history.

(Sources:; H. P .Hamlin diary transcriptions/Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum; and Seth Mendell’s lecture: “Opening the Cape Cod Canal”)

By Marilou Newell


Mattapoisett Ensign Fleet 76

The local Ensign class from Mattapoisett Fleet 76 had an excellent showing at this year’s regional regatta. Fleet 76 regally races every Tuesday night in Mattapoisett Harbor during the months of June, July and August. The Ensign class is one of the largest full keel one design classes in the country. The Mattapoisett Fleet 76 is a relatively new fleet for the organization, but it is one of the fastest growing fleets at present time. On Tuesday nights, one might see as many as 10 boats on the race course, and as you move around the harbor, you could see an additional five or six boats. The average age and condition of these boats vary; most boats are over 40-years old and many of them have been brought back to pristine condition. Although the Pearson Company who originally built the Ensign is no longer in existence, there is a new company – Ensign Spar – that is currently building new boats and thus keeping the class alive.

This is only the second year in which local boats actually traveled outside the harbor to compete in regional events. Last year, three boats made the trip to Niantic, CT, with the top boat finishing in 6th place among the 20 competitors. This year, regionals were located in Newport, RI, as part of the Sail Newport One Design Regatta. The regatta itself had over 200 boats entered. Mattapoisett Fleet 76 had six boats entered, doubling our last year’s number. This year, the Ensign line had a total of 19 boats competing, making it one of the largest divisions in the regatta. The competition arrived from the local Newport, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut areas and as far away as New Jersey. This was very impressive considering all the newer sports boats out there. It was nice to see these old, classic design boats still being active.

Fleet 76 worked well together supporting all the boats that traveled. Five went via the tow method behind two larger boats and one boat traveled by trailer. All six boats were in Newport harbor Friday night awaiting the Saturday races. The big talk among the group at Friday night’s events was the prediction for light wind and how we were going to adjust. The Fleet had been racing all year in very windy conditions on Tuesday nights. This group from Mattapoisett was hoping to show the Ensign class that we might be new to this organization, but as a group, we are all improving and can be a threat to some of the old timers.

Saturday’s races started with a delay start waiting for the wind to fill in. The Ensign line was just north of the Newport Pell Bridge. Four races were run on Saturday, with the first two having an outgoing tide and the last two experiencing the tide change as well as the wind continuing to build throughout the day. The wind prediction was a little off and the wind filled in very nicely for Saturday, with which the Mattapoisett boaters felt very comfortable. On the race course on Saturday, we saw a few of our boats in the top finishers. The highlight of Saturday’s races was the last race in which Brou Ha Ha (Steve Clark #1008) took first place and One Love (John Mello #1125) was second, forcing Nightwind of CT to a third-place finish. This was a big moral victory for both boats, as Nightwind has been the top finisher in the past two regional championships and proved to be there again this year.

Sunday’s races saw winds in the 20s, with gusts even higher. It felt like a typical Tuesday night in Mattapoisett. Entering Sunday races, Odyssey (Rick Warren #2001) was sitting in second place with a very consistent day of racing on Saturday of nothing below a fifth place finish. Brou Ha Ha was in fourth place, but had an inconsistent day of racing and was carrying an 11th place. With the thought of a minimum of two races being run on Sunday, Brou Ha Ha was looking forward to drop that 11th place and move up on the leaderboard. One Love was in 5th place after Saturday and was still within striking distance of placing in the top three. Sunday’s race results did little to change the leaderboard. Odyssey pulled off two second places and held off the local favorite, Challenge, from Newport, RI by one point to finish in second place overall. Odyssey becomes the first boat from Fleet 76 to earn honors.

Black Ice (Phil Warren #304) was competing in its first regional event and they found themselves getting better with every race and finished with an amazing seventh place over all. Not Trying (Kai Srisirkul #863) and Hydra (Jason Dubreuil #1335) finished 14th and 15th respectively in their first regional regatta. With a total of four Fleet 76 boats in the top seven places, people are talking about what’s going on in Mattapoisett. The Ensign Class Organization is looking for Mattapoisett Fleet 76 to host the National Ensign Regatta in the summer of 2016.

Plumb Library Looks Forward to Expansion

“Right now we’re waiting for permits,” said Gail Roberts, director of the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library, “We’ve been waiting a long time.”

It was eight years ago, when she was being interviewed for the director position, that Roberts first recognized the potential of expanding the library into the basement. Since then, a steady flow of legalities and other projects have prevented the basement from being put to good use. The siding had to be replaced; the ramp’s angle wasn’t up to code. Now the cupola is leaking and the bulkhead doorframe has to be raised. “Just little things that happen with buildings,” said Roberts.

That’s not to say no useful projects have been completed in recent years. “There’s a small meeting room below the vestibule that was finished a couple of years ago, and last year that really started getting used,” explained Roberts.

Girl Scouts, tutors, and a new Minecraft club have made great use of this small room, but the library hopes to offer more to the community. While the small room can hold up to twenty people, the basement floor remains an unfinished expanse with the potential to seat thirty or more. Roberts sees this space becoming a great free public meeting room for Rochester.

“Libraries are becoming more and more community centers and less repositories for books,” Roberts noted. With a finished basement, “It would give them a free, eventually handicap accessible meeting room space,” she said.

The “handicap accessible” part is where things get tricky. The library is going to have to put in an elevator large enough to hold one person in a wheelchair and one person standing. Roberts compared the design to a chair lift. “It’s small, but you have to have it. If you want publically open meeting room space, it has to be handicap accessible,” she said.

While this will take up some space upstairs, the benefits outweigh the costs. The basement meeting room will be open to everyone, allowing the library to hold their larger programs on site.

“For our book sale we have to move everything to the church and then move it all back,” Roberts explained, “When the basement is done we can have the book sale down there.”

But for now, the waiting game continues. Work on the basement almost began under Rochester’s previous facilities manager, but then necessary work on the elementary school occupied him. This year, Rochester has a new facilities manager, Andrew Daniel. When he came on board, the library essentially had to start over on the basement project.

“The design and the permit stage took so long that now we have to work with the elevator company again,” said Roberts, “The estimate is now higher, because when you wait a long time for things, costs go up.”

The elevator alone is estimated to cost up to $35,000. With a grant from Makepeace, money from Covanta, and other donations, the library has about $52,000 to complete the basement construction. “Barring anything else, it should cover everything,” said Roberts. However, she did note that the library is always looking for more donations, as unexpected costs come up during large projects such as this.

“The Friends [of the Plumb Memorial Library] are going to start raising money to furnish,” said Roberts, “So we can have enough chairs for seating for thirty, we’re going to see if people want to buy a chair in memory of somebody, or honor of somebody, and we can get a little plaque and put it on the back of the chair.”

Community members interested in supporting the library’s efforts to expand may contribute by participating in this buy-a-chair fundraiser, donating, or volunteering their time. The book sale at the upcoming Rochester Country Fair is one of the Friends’ best fundraisers; those interested may volunteer to work the stand or donate books to sell.

“Any little bit helps,” said Roberts, adding that community members may contact the Friends, library Trustees, or Gail Roberts herself if they’d like to help out.

With all the plans in place, Roberts is hopeful the little updates will soon be done so the basement project can begin. “Everything should be done properly and I’m happy to wait while that goes on, but it does get a little frustrating,” she said.

After years of waiting, Roberts remains assertive yet optimistic, saying, “We’re very lucky here to have a nice supportive town like this, but I think we need to show that we really need this space.”

By Renae Reints


Keeping the Community Afloat

The communities of our Tri-Town are special, and what makes them special are the people who live in them, the people who work in them, govern them, and those that volunteer their time for the highest good of their town.

This is why, once a year, we at The Wanderer are excited to bring forward three distinctive people from each of the three towns to recognize their hours of community service and honor their innumerable contributions that keep each of the communities afloat, like the keel of a ship that keeps the vessel from capsizing.

This year, citizens from each town submitted the names of some pretty spectacular nominees for the 2014 Wanderer Keel Award. Three of them really stood out to us, and we are thrilled to announce the winners of this year’s award: From Mattapoisett, Jennifer Shepley; from Marion, Hanna Milhench; and from Rochester, Kate Lanagan MacGregor.

Shepley is president of the Friends of the Library and also often assists with events sponsored by the Mattapoisett Women’s Club that raise money for scholarships. Shepley acts as Garden Tour captain, organizing and staffing the gardens on the tour, and assists with monthly Women’s Clubs meetings, often during her lunch hour from work.

Recently, Shepley was also the chairperson for fundraising for the Mattapoisett Congregational Church mission trip to Appalachia.

“I do all the bossy jobs,” said Shepley, jokingly. “I boss people around for both fun and recreation.”

Hanna Milhench is a pillar at Saint Gabriel’s Church in Marion, volunteering her time to projects devoted to helping others. She has managed “Friendship Tables,” a free community-wide monthly supper held at the church, and also spearheaded St. Gabriel’s “Gardens by the Sea” garden tour, raising funds for community efforts such as “Damien’s Pantry” and “Community Resources Network.”

“I’m sure Hanna does more good deeds that I am unaware of, but I think these listed deeds make her a good candidate for [The Wanderer] Keel Award,” said Elizabeth Brainard, who nominated Milhench for the award. “She is indeed an unsung heroine!”

Kate Lanagan MacGregor’s latest project has been what she calls a “furniture exchange” effort to help those starting out or starting over in life. As a realtor, MacGregor said she sees a lot of people starting off in tough situations, so she began collecting unwanted furniture from clients as they moved out of their houses and storing it in her garage. She has joined up with Mercy Meals and More of New Bedford as a way of assisting those most in need. She said she is spearheading the Bold Day Foundation to help people out who are just “starting back up again.”

“I volunteer when I can,” said MacGregor. She helps out at road races, the Annual Rochester Memorial Boat Race, and in the past she has coached and served on the Rochester School Committee.

“I believe that you should give without any expectations of an outcome,” said MacGregor. “I kind of help out when I can.”

The Wanderer congratulates our three 2014 Wanderer Keel Award winners and thanks those who submitted nominations to bring these outstanding citizens to the forefront to be honored and recognized for the good work they are doing in our community. Do you know anyone else in the community who deserves recognition? Email us at so we can get the word out about all the great things Tri-Towners are doing to make a difference!

By Jean Perry