Marion’s Town Meeting

To the Editor:

A View of Marion’s Town Meeting Warrant and Future Financial Situation.

Marion voters head to the May 8, 2017 Town Meeting to act on $30.8 million in warrant articles. That’s a lot of money for our small Town – $12,314 for each of our 2,500 taxpayers.

The operating budget is $22 million; water and sewer $5.1 million; and separate warrant authorizations and approvals including the special meeting are $3.7 million.

FY 2018 begins serious capital spending on various Town projects such as the wastewater treatment plant upgrades that will be financed with $1.9 million in debt. The Capital Committee’s 10-year forecast of $85 million appears in the Town Report. Considering $12 million for Town House spending, the capital forecast during a 36-month window FY 2018-20 will be $42 million.

With changing Town demographics and an aging population, educational spending is significant with 48 cents of each tax $1.00 going to the school budgets. The budget includes $10.5 million for education. The Council on Aging budget is $137,000 which is less than we pay for two Sippican School band teachers with six month contracts.

The warrant contains an authorization for Marion’s share of a Tri-Town independent review of ORR spending. A similar review for Sippican School spending too should be considered by a future Town Meeting. School spending needs serious taxpayer attention and administrative realignment.

Marion’s current, forecasted and unfunded liabilities, obligations, commitments and capital spending are estimated to be approximately $170,000,000 or benchmarked at $68,000 for each of Marion’s 2,500 taxpayers: $34,000 per capita based on population of 5,000 or 11% of your property value. This amount consists of debt $40 million; Ten Year Capital forecast $85 million, cost of future debt financing $21 million and unfunded retirement liabilities of $24 million net of the funding reserve.

Marion needs to focus on what is needed in the form of basic municipal services, and not what special interest groups want; the province of private fundraising.

The EPA has issued its permit ultimatum for the sewer system. The five-year permit now outlines what Marion will be required to spend on meeting wastewater discharge among other permit requirements. This will become very expensive for Marion and will trigger the sewer war over who pays for all this expense which can be added to the current Town House spending controversy.

Last year, the Town was presented a $ 28 million proposal for a combination Town House, senior center and library complex to be funded by 2,500 taxpayers. After expensive spending on design work, this proposal was rejected as too expensive. Soon expect to see a special interest project proposal to make an Olympic style venue sports complex at ORR notwithstanding ORR’s $21 million unfunded retirement obligations of which Marion’s share is included in the unfunded obligations above. Grass seed should work well for Marion’s aging taxpayers as a good alternative for ORR’s field restoration.

Marion continues to struggle with its municipal management. Gresham’s law is at work. There is a short supply of qualified individuals willing to run for public office and to serve on boards and committees.

May is an important decision month for Marion voters with Town Meeting and elections. Individual taxpayer impact of the future financial burdens using the $68 million per taxpayer beach mark will be determined by real estate taxes on the valuation of your property, water and sewer rates based on your usage. Look for robust increase in coming years. Forecasted amounts are continuously updated as new information is received for our Town’s dynamic financial environment.

Ted North, Marion

 

The views expressed in the “Letters to the Editor” column are not necessarily those of The Wanderer, its staff or advertisers. The Wanderer will gladly accept any and all correspondence relating to timely and pertinent issues in the great Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester area, provided they include the author’s name, address and phone number for verification. We cannot publish anonymous, unsigned or unconfirmed submissions. The Wanderer reserves the right to edit, condense and otherwise alter submissions for purposes of clarity and/or spacing considerations. The Wanderer may choose to not run letters that thank businesses, and The Wanderer has the right to edit letters to omit business names. The Wanderer also reserves the right to deny publication of any submitted correspondence.

Marion Spring Walk About & Artist Talk

Visit Marion for a Spring Walk About on Saturday, April 29 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm to explore the town’s historic architecture and see original art. From 11:00 am to 12:00 pm at the Marion Art Center, hear artists Anthi Frangiadis, Kim Gatesman and Allen TenBusschen talk about their work – and the creative processes behind it – currently on exhibit at the MAC. Their group show, Black and White, features a compelling collection of charcoal drawings, electrostatic monotypes, pen & ink drawings and intaglio prints. A short walk from the Marion Art Center is Anthi Frangiadis Associates and the Drawing Room. There you can explore the architectural design process and ongoing collaborations with New England artisans. At 1:00 pm, artist Sally McCarthy, a Drawing Room collaborator, will speak at that location about her painting process. These free events are part of ArtWeek Boston. Presented by Highland Street Foundation and produced by the Boch Center, ArtWeek is an award-winning bi-annual creative festival featuring more than 150 unique, unexpected, and creative experiences that are participatory, interactive, or offer behind-the-scenes access to artists or the creative process. For more information, call the Marion Art Center at 508-748-1266 or Anthi Frangiadis Associates at 508-748-3494. The Marion Art Center is located at 80 Pleasant Street. Frangiadis Associates/Drawing Room is located at 11 Spring Street.

Adult Programs at the Elizabeth Taber Library

Free Technology Workshops: Thursdays in May at 11:00 am. Come to the Elizabeth Taber Library to learn more about using email, social media, and taking advantage of all that the library resources have to offer. Workshops will include: May 4: Magazines, movies, more books, oh my. (ETL’s free online resources); May 11: Find your next Great Read through online resources.

To register for any one of these workshops, please stop in, call us at 508-748-1252, or email Libby at eoneill@sailsinc.org.

Deer Ticks: One Bite Can Change Your Life: Thursday, May 4, 4:00 pm. Lyme disease is the most prevalent infectious disease in Massachusetts and is now considered to be a public health crisis. In addition to Lyme, deer ticks can carry the pathogens which cause babesiosis, anaplasmosis, relapsing fever and Powassan virus. Join us on Thursday, May 4, at 4:00 pm as Entomologist Larry Dapsis reviews the basic life cycle and ecology of ticks, disease incidence rates and distribution of tick-borne illnesses. A three point protection plan will be presented – Protect Yourself, Protect Your Yard and Protect your Pet. Tick-borne diseases are preventable.

Larry Dapsis received his B.S. in Environmental Science & Biology at Fitchburg State University and an M.S. in Entomology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Mr. Dapsis has 35 years of professional pest management experience including vegetables, cranberries and household insects. He joined Cape Cod Cooperative Extension in 2011 as Deer Tick Project Coordinator and Entomologist. For more information, please call us at 508-748-1252.

Boys’ Lacrosse Shuts Out Fairhaven

Here are the highlights from this week of sports at Old Rochester Regional High School:

            Boys’ Lacrosse: The Old Rochester Bulldogs boys’ lacrosse team had their first shut out of the season last week against the Fairhaven Blue Devils. The win was an entire team effort starting with the goalie and finishing with the attackmen. Playing his second year of varsity, Nate King saved 10 of the Blue Devils’ shots on net. The four starting defensemen, Nick Rego, Gavin Fox, Justin Shay and Andrew Riggi, allowed little past them. The combination of the strong defense and the stellar saves prevented the Fairhaven offense from accomplishing much of anything. Senior Charles Tirrell proved to be a crucial component to the team dynamic by helping the ball from the defensive zone to the critical scoring area. Tirrell had one goal and four assists. Alongside Tirrell in the midfield was Patrick Kiernan who finished with two goals. Attackmen Patrick Saltmarsh and Corey Lunn recorded two goals apiece. Landon Goguen was the leading goal scorer of the game with four goals and one assist. This win advanced Old Rochester to 4-1 overall and undefeated 3-0 in the SCC. The second game of the week against Dighton-Rehoboth was rescheduled to May 1 due to inclement weather.

            Girls’ Lacrosse: The girls’ lacrosse team hosted Fairhaven at home last Wednesday and also recorded a 19-4 win. The Lady Bulldogs with unmatched intensity easily won the game. Like the boys’ team, it all started with the goalie. Sophomore Gates Tenerowicz made nine saves. The Fairhaven Blue Devils had a difficult time getting past the strong defense the Bulldogs provided. Molly Lanagan, Julia Barrett, Caroline Thomas, and Mary Butler restricted the Blue Devils from many shots on net. In the offensive zone, midfielder Madison Cooney along with the attack duo of Emily Hiller and Ali Hulsebosch each managed four goals. Hiller and Hulsebosch also recorded three and eight assists, respectively. Additionally, Megan Shay scored three times, Avery O’Brien-Nichols contributed two, and Taylor Lee added a goal. The Lady Bulldogs continue with a perfect record of 6-0/ 3-0 SCC. Old Rochester was scheduled to host Dighton-Rehoboth last Friday; however, the game was rained out and rescheduled to May 1.

            Baseball: In their lone matchup of the week, the Old Rochester Bulldogs beat Dighton-Rehoboth 6-2. The DR Falcons started the game off fast and furious by scoring two runs in the first inning. However, when the second inning began, Old Rochester stepped it up. Junior starter Michael Kenefick managed to retire 14 of the last 16 batters he faced and only permitted three hits, two strikeouts, and two walks. The Bulldogs advanced the score to 3-2 by the end of the fourth inning, but soon created a greater lead from their opponents. Chris Labelle and William Hopkins hit back-to-back singles. Jacob Asiaf returned them home after hitting a three-run home run. This put Old Rochester at a 6-2 lead. John Breault and Kenefick each had singles, while Hopkins recorded three hits, a single, double, triple, RBI, and scored three runs. David Arruda pitched in the seventh inning, which had no score.

            Girls’ Tennis: The girls’ tennis team faced Wareham this past week and won 5-0. In the first singles, Delaney Pothier faced Elise Abbott and swept her away in a 6-0, 6-0 defeat. Danielle Nutter, playing second singles, continued the winning streak and won 6-0, 6-2 over Natalia Moulding. Charlotte Cole had a 6-0, 6-1 gain over Wareham’s Katie Russo. Not only did the Lady Bulldogs triumph over their Wareham in singles, but Old Rochester remained the winners of both doubles matchups. Emma Collings and Kinsley Dickerson played together at first doubles and came up with a 6-2, 6-3 win. Playing in their first varsity match, Zoe Bilodeau and Gracey Weedall contributed with a 6-2, 6-3 win. Old Rochester remains undefeated with a record of 5-0, 4-0 SCC.

            Boys’ Tennis: The boys’ tennis team was no different. They won their match against Wareham 5-0 to maintain their perfect record of 4-0, 4-0 SCC. Caleb Jagoda and Geoffrey Noonan both notched 6-0, 6-0 wins in the first and second singles. Making his varsity debut, Jack Cadden managed a 6-0, 6-2 victory at the third singles. Jake Thompson and Colin O’Malley played strongly together to achieve a 6-1, 6-0 win. First-time varsity players Joe Sheridan and Emmett McQuade also notched a 6-1, 6-0 victory in the second doubles.

By Alexandra Hulsebosch

 

Energy Committee Still Seeking Answers

Business was light at the Marion Energy Management Committee meeting on April 24, as the committee continues to work toward successfully replacing the streetlights with energy-saving LED bulbs. Additionally, committee member Jennifer Francis reported on the pursuit of the substation connection for the proposed Benson Brook Solar Project.

The confusion surrounding the billing practices of Eversource continued to swirl Monday night, compounded by the sheaves of paper that committee member Rob Fisher provided from town hall, copies of the Eversource bills and the town’s accounting for the payments to the electric company.

In order to provide Town Administrator Paul Dawson with a concise comparison of cost savings with the LED lights, the committee is trying to determine the current per light cost of each streetlight.

Based on the information Fisher obtained from town hall, the committee decided to send Fisher, with committee member Bill Saltonstall, back to town hall to sort through the bills more closely with Finance Director Judith Mooney or the town accountant, Kathy Kearns.

Saltonstall related a conversation with Dawson in which Dawson stated, “With Eversource’s new consolidated billing, there is a list of summarized accounts, and when the town makes a payment, the money is merely taken off the top of the total the town owes, not applied to a particular account.”

The committee is hoping to procure the complete bills from Eversource to the town, where they hope to find a breakdown of the cost of rental, service, and energy cost per light. This information is essential to make the argument for the replacement of the existing lights with LED lights.

Based on the committee’s review of the limited information in front of them that evening, it appears the town is charged approximately $2,950 per month for streetlights.

Francis expressed frustration with the pace of the resolution to the substation connection for the Benson Brook Solar Project. Apparently, due to the location of the project, there has been reluctance by the state to move quickly to create the connection.

Francis spoke with Kyle Murray, the attorney for Senator Marc Pacheco’s office, who said he would forward to the Department of Public Utilities a summary of the history of the Benson Brook Solar Project. Francis immediately provided the material, and she remains hopeful that this will keep the project moving forward.

Francis also reported on the popularity of the electric car program in the town. The town currently leases four electric cars, and within a year or so will need to determine if they want to renew the leases, return the cars, or buy them outright.

Recreation Director (and Selectman) Jody Dickerson expressed an interest in getting a Chevy Bolt, since it has a longer driving range per charge. In an email from Evan Melillo, who has been assisting the town in the electric car program, he stated that the state grant program has been very successful. Its popularity has grown such that Marion should act fast if they want any more electric vehicles through the program, Melillo suggested.

In response to the often asked question regarding the conflict of electric cars not running on fossil fuels but being charged by energy generated by fossil fuels, Francis responded that “One-hundred percent of our energy is from wind turbines, so it’s a total win!”

In other business, the committee expressed disappointment at the turn out at their sustainability presentation with Jamie Jacquart last week. Committee member Eileen Marum underscored the value of the talk for town department heads and employees, saying, “Those folks would have benefited the most from the information presented.”

The next meeting of the Marion Energy Management Committee is scheduled for May 22 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Music Hall.

Marion Energy Management Committee

By Sarah French Storer

 

Marion Town Clean Up

Marion is having a Spring Cleaning and Multiple Community Events on Saturday, May 6.

Litter and clutter beware. Streets will be cleaned and closets cleared as the Marion Cub Scouts Pack 32 joins forces with GiftsToGive, the Marion Recreation Department, and Marion Department of Public Works to bring back the town clean-up. Please join us when we rally at Washburn Park on Saturday, May 6 from 8:30 – 11:30 am. Participants will be given trash bags, recycling bags, and gloves, and they will also be provided with yellow vests. Assignments will be handed out and participants will clear the trash and other debris left from winter’s wake.

In addition to cleaning up our streets, cleaning out our closets will also be on the agenda as the GiftsToGive truck will be at Washburn Park from 8:30 – 11:30 am, collecting new and gently used children’s items (please see their website for details about items they accept www.giftstogive.org/).

Litter collected will be returned to Washburn Park to create a trash mountain, a visual testament to not only the stunning amount of litter left on town roadway but also to the amazing efforts of caring community members. When returning your vests and adding to the trash mountain, please join the Marion Town Recreation Department for their Cook-Out benefiting Marion Firework’s Committee as well as their Touch-A-Truck Event from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm. The first hour is a sensory hour with no horns or sirens. Come sit in, climb on, touch, and imagine in these police, fire, and emergency vehicles as well as tractors, bulldozers and boats.

The DPW/SEMASS is also offering a Household Hazardous Product Collection Day in conjunction with Carver and Wareham. At both the Carver Salt Storage Facility, Rochester Road, South Carver and the Wareham Maintenance Area, Charge Pond Road, Wareham on May 6 from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, continue our town-wide spring clean-up by delivering your unwanted pesticides, household chemicals, anti-freeze, motor oil, spent gasoline, empty propane tanks and products containing mercury to one of these locations.

A second opportunity to participate in keeping Marion clean will occur less than a week later on May 12. The Tree and Parks Committee will be giving out a Rose of Sharon shrub to the first 100 voters as they exit the polls at the VFW Hall on Town Election Day. It is hoped that those who receive a tree to plant somewhere in town will also take a trash bag or two and do an hour of litter pick up. The Arbor Day Table with free trees and trash bags will be located outside the polls from 9:00 am to noon.

Reptiles of Massachusetts

Reptiles of Massachusetts with Blue Hills Audubon Society will be held on Friday, April 28, 7:00 – 8:00 pm at the Marion Natural History Museum. Cost is $10/members, $12/non-members, and $5 for children 12 and under.

There are many misunderstandings between humans and scaled creatures, which has led to problems for the reptiles. Meet some of Massachusetts’ resident reptiles and find out about human threats to their survival. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Marion Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

ORCTV

To the Editor:

On April 27 at the Tri-Town Selectmen’s Meeting, we may finally get to the bottom of the ongoing saga regarding the ORCTV takeover of the education function of the media program at ORR, vs. the Superintendent of ORR School District. The Superintendent was notified late last year that the ORCTV would no longer fund the media program. The present contract would not be renewed and will cease on 30 June 2017. This program covers about 130 students encompassing all the schools in the district. Who authorized ORCTV to make such a bold move?

What does ORCTV have to offer the schools? Where are the lesson plans? Where are the qualified teachers? What certification and qualifications does ORCTV have to offer? When did you notify the School Committees, or were they in the dark on this process? Why should the Superintendent go before the ORCTV Board of Directors and beg for the program funds, which they should provide in the first place?

ORCTV needs to fully explain their position and seek guidance from the Tri-Town Selectmen. It is my understanding, the ORCTV organization was established to collect funds from the cable companies and then administer the funds to various PEG programs (i.e., Public, Education, Government). ORCTV has collected those funds, and to date has accumulated hundreds of thousands of dollars in CDs at Eastern Bank. The school district has always had a difficult time funding the program and hasn’t seen a change in the funding for many years. The funds squirreled away at Eastern Bank should be available to fund some portion of the media program. Why should we be capitalizing Eastern Bank?

Everyone involved in this saga need to get together and work on a solution, or, the media program is going to blow up and everyone will be highly embarrassed. This includes the Selectmen, the School Superintendent, the three town School Committees, and the citizens of the three towns.

ORCTV needs new leadership and it needs it now. There are solutions to the problem.

Colonel Arnold Briggs, Concerned Citizen, West Wareham

The views expressed in the “Letters to the Editor” column are not necessarily those of The Wanderer, its staff or advertisers. The Wanderer will gladly accept any and all correspondence relating to timely and pertinent issues in the great Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester area, provided they include the author’s name, address and phone number for verification. We cannot publish anonymous, unsigned or unconfirmed submissions. The Wanderer reserves the right to edit, condense and otherwise alter submissions for purposes of clarity and/or spacing considerations. The Wanderer may choose to not run letters that thank businesses, and The Wanderer has the right to edit letters to omit business names. The Wanderer also reserves the right to deny publication of any submitted correspondence.

Menthol Cigs on Back Burner

It has been quite some time now since the Marion Board of Health has made any progress towards its goal of classifying menthol cigarettes as ‘flavored tobacco,’ but at the April 25 meeting, the board’s intention was to reignite the issue and eventually bring it up with the selectmen.

Back in August 2016, the board discussed draft regulation that would ban menthol cigarettes from Marion along with all other flavored tobacco and nicotine-containing products.

Cheryl Sbarra, senior staff attorney for the Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, told the Board of Health members in August that the tobacco industry would likely sue the Town should they move to ban menthol cigarettes.

The board subsequently received a number of letters form ‘Big Tobacco’ giants such as R.J. Reynolds, warning the Town that they would sue to protect their interests should the Town attempt to do away with menthols.

“I’m not sure where we are at,” said Board of Health Chairman Betsy Dunn. “We were supposed to sit down with the Board of Selectmen and discuss our proposed regulations. All that, I think, was put on the back burner.”

The board will invite Sbarra to return before the board in June to continue forward towards a menthol ban.

In other matters, the board voted unanimously to oppose an Annual Town Meeting article that would allow dogs onto Silvershell Beach. Dogs are currently not allowed.

“They mean to have them on the beach always?” said Dunn. “No way!”

            Health Director Karen Walega called the presence of dogs on the beach a safety hazard.

“It’s a horrible [idea] to have dogs running on the beach in the summertime,” said Walega.

Dunn added, “I’ve seen dogs go right up into the water and do their thing in the water while people are swimming!”

Also during the meeting, the board hopes to pass regulation next month that would ban synthetic marijuana from sale in Marion. The board will have to hold a public hearing before taking a vote to adopt any new regulations banning the synthetic drugs.

The next meeting of the Board of Health is scheduled for May 9 at 4:30 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Board of Health

By Jean Perry

 

The Herring Do Swim…

The annual cycle of the herring’s return to Snipatuit Pond has reached its apex at this point in the season, but the herring continue to trickle up and then back down the multiple steps just at the beginning of the Mattapoisett River at Snipatuit Pond.

Every morning, Herring Inspector David Watling Jr. parks his pick-up truck down at the end of a long dirt road to an undisclosed location at the base of Snipatuit Pond. From there, he hikes through the towering pines to where water fed from the banks of Snipatuit Pond flows down the concrete steps towards the ocean. These steps mark the final hurdle in the herring’s return home to spawn in the very place where the herring itself was born.

Watling keeps careful track of the herring count, both as herring inspector and as Vice President of Alewives Anonymous, an association founded in 1984 that “encourages, promotes, and supports efforts to preserve and increase the alewife fishery resources of the Mattapoisett River…”

Watling’s father, William Watling, founded Alewives Anonymous, and Watling has followed in his father’s footsteps as herring inspector since 1993.

“When my father died, I took over his position,” said Watling.

On Monday, April 24, the sun unencumbered by clouds created the aroma of warming pine needles and the refreshing scent of the water of Snipatuit Pond evaporating into the fresh air around us.

The Snipatuit Pond herring count is one of two locations inspected by Watling daily, beginning April 16 until just before Memorial Day when the wooden planks at the herring steps are removed, flooding the river in time for the boat race. The other location is at Leonard’s Pond. Watling then takes a trip over to the Mattapoisett River landing in Mattapoisett off Route 6 to visually inspect the herring highway, so to speak.

As of Monday, 12,754 herring have passed through the Snipatuit Pond counter, which doesn’t count herring, per se; what the counter senses is a change in the conductivity of the water as the herring swim upstream and then eventually back downstream.

“Right now are the perfect conditions for the fish,” Watling remarked, his clipboard in hand looking over the spreadsheet of data that he keeps for the town and for the Alewives Anonymous group, and which he also shares with the Buzzards Bay Coalition. The water level was high and the water temperature right for the time of year.

That past Saturday through Sunday, said Watling, between 2,000 and 3,000 herring had swum up into the pond, according to his data.

That may sound like a lot, but these numbers are, in fact, drastically low. Last year by the end of the season, Watling had counted around 18,000 alewives, evidence of the 25% decline in fish annually since 2000 when the count was 134,000.

“So we’re a little bit behind this year,” said Watling.

Once the data is entered and the white metal box closed and secured, Watling gets down on his knees, crouching over the water to pull out leaves and debris from the thatched metal – the same kind used for lobster traps – to keep the steps open and flowing for the herring. If a herring becomes trapped, it will continue its struggle forward until the waterway is opened up again.

“They’ll beat themselves up trying to get up,” said Watling.

As the crow flies, the mouth of the Mattapoisett River estuary is only about six miles, but Watling estimates the river winds for about 14 miles, ocean to pond.

The herring have been making this journey likely for thousands of years, and where the herring do swim, you’ll find Watling there waiting and watching for the yearly return of the ancient alewife.

By Jean Perry