Legal Smoking Age May Increase in Marion

The Town of Marion might soon raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21 years with a new ordinance that Board of Health members hope will curb underage smoking.

The board was first contacted in March 2014 by Dr. Lester Hartman, senior pediatrician at Westwood/Mansfield Pediatrics. Hartman stated in an email that he had been collaborating with a Harvard pediatric professor named Dr. Jonathan Winickoff to promote a new “Tobacco 21” bill for Massachusetts towns.

In an article published in the January 23, 2014 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, Winickoff et al. cited New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2013 Tobacco 21 bill “imposing the strictest age restrictions on tobacco sales of any major U.S. city.”

According to the article, “The law stops short of making possession of tobacco products by persons under 21 a crime, placing the responsibility on retailers under penalty of civil fines.”

The federal minimum age set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to purchase tobacco products is 18; however, regulations allow individual states and local municipalities to impose a stricter age minimum.

Since New York, seven other Massachusetts towns have followed by adopting 21 years of age as the legal minimum to purchase tobacco. The Tobacco 21 initiative is growing, with other Massachusetts towns also considering adopting the regulations set by the Tobacco 21 Act.

By considering data collected by other towns post-Tobacco 21 regulations, the Marion Board of Health, as well as Marion Health Director Karen Walega, stated on May 26 that they favor the stricter age minimum and will move ahead with drafting the language for the new ordinance to be vetted by any concerned residents during a public hearing in the near future.

“I am for the 21 and over,” said Board of Health member Albin Johnson. “The longer that you can put off people’s access to smoking, the better.”

Opponents to the Tobacco 21 Act make arguments on several fronts, including questioning the effectiveness of raising the minimum age and the infringement on individuals’ legal right to make decisions on their health.

Data provided by Winickoff et al. shows that the Town of Needham, the first Massachusetts town to go Tobacco 21 in 2005, saw its smoking rate cut almost in half while nearby communities saw a lesser decrease.

“The percentage decline in Needham was nearly triple that of its neighbors,” Winickoff et al. state in their article, “contradicting the hypothesis that young people will simply shift their purchases to surrounding towns.”

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

By Jean Perry

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Rochester Historical Society Yard Sale

The Rochester Historical Society will hold a Yard Sale at the East Rochester Church/Museum, 355 County Rd., Rochester on Saturday, May 30 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.

Academic Achievements

Some 2,975 students were awarded a variety of degrees – undergraduate, graduate and M.D. – during the University of Vermont’s 214th commencement ceremonies on May 17. Among degree recipients were students from 42 states and 85 international students from 16 countries. A list of local students and the degree earned by each follows:

– Lily Murolo, of Mattapoisett, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Community & International Development from the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences

– Jordan Seim, of Marion, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Global Studies from the College of Arts & Sciences

– Taylor Audette, of Mattapoisett, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies from the College of Arts & Sciences

The following students were named to the University of Vermont Dean’’ List. To be named to the dean’s list, students must have a grade point average of 3.0 or better and rank in the top 20 percent of their class in their respective college or school.

– Nathaniel J. Fuchs of Mattapoisett is a Junior Individually Designed major

– India E. Krawczyk of Rochester is a Senior Anthropology major

– Stephanie A. Sheehan of Rochester is a first-year Zoology major

Ryan Muther of Marion was honored at Union College’s annual Prize Day celebration. Students were honored for achievement in academics, research, service and governance. Muther was honored with the Joseph D. Doty Prize, to the junior or senior who, in the judgment of the History Department, has done work of outstanding merit.

We Did It!

The Marion Fireworks Committee is pleased to report that the fireworks are returning to Silvershell Beach this summer! The fireworks will be held on Saturday, July 4.

All costs associated with the fireworks are paid for with the money raised through the fundraising efforts of the Marion Fireworks Committee.

Thank you to all of the generous donors that have made this event possible.

Donations are still being accepted and may be mailed to the Marion Fireworks Committee, 13 Atlantis Drive, Marion, MA 02738. Any questions, feel free to contact us at 774-217-8355 or fireworks@marionrecreation.com. Any funds not used for this year’s display will be kept in the fireworks account for 2016. Thank you for your support.

Team Sole Survivors

To the Editor:

Team Sole Survivors would like to publicly acknowledge and thank the Marion VFW and all their workers for making our recent delicious Chicken BBQ dinner a huge success. They went way above and beyond in giving and helping this event. Simple ”thank you” words cannot express our deep gratitude. Sole Survivors Team of the Tri-Town Relay for Life (Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester) is June 13-14 at ORR. All are welcome!

Again we send many thanks to all (names unknown) and especially Rodney, Demi, Brad and Casey.

Sally Hamer

 

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.

Fields Are Fine, Employees Opposes TM Article

“I’d like to put any rumors to rest about the ball fields,” said David Hughes of the Rochester Parks Commission. “These ball fields right now are running top notch.”

Hughes attended the Rochester Board of Selectmen meeting May 18 to dispel the previously discussed notion that the ball fields of Rochester are overcrowded this season and logistically unprepared for the vast use of the fields.

There was a late start to this year’s game season due to the snow and ensuing mud that encumbered the beginning first week or two. But as it stands now, Hughes said, the fields are busy hosting a number of different leagues in addition to the Little League, but there is room for everybody.

“We had a rough start,” said Hughes, but schedules have been worked out to avoid conflicts, including the use of the baseball diamond outfield for lacrosse games when there are no baseball games. “We’re also working with the schools,” said Hughes, hoping to access the soccer field behind Rochester Memorial School for a practice field. “It’s not the best field, but it is a field that they can practice on.”

Hughes had some ideas on future expansion, such as converting the parking area next to the skate park into a lacrosse and soccer field, which Hughes said is currently not used very much. He also tossed around the idea of taking land behind the Senior Center, which would increase the area of the Dexter Lane fields.

But with a limited budget of $15,000 for parks and recreation, money is tight, he said.

“If you’re looking to spend money,” said Hughes, “we don’t have it.” Hughes said the commission manages any shortfalls with private donations. “It’s a viable piece of property.

Hughes stuck around after his informal talk to present his Town Meeting warrant article to purchase a new water pump for field irrigation, which both the selectmen and the finance committee – present that night to make their recommendations – voted to support.

Also during discussion of the articles, things got heated between selectmen and members of the Rochester Emergency Management Services over an article proposing to space out the Personnel Plan Employee Step Rate Increases from a period of one year to two and three years in between steps.

Currently, non-union, non-contract employees are reviewed annually, and those rated highly proceed to the next step, which cuts off at step ten. The average salary increase per step advancement is three percent, plus any other cost of living and longevity increases. Board of Selectmen Chairman Richard Nunes said that averages to about a 4 to 5 percent pay raise every year an employee moves up a step.

“The whole idea of increasing the amount of years … is so, if you don’t max out in ten years, the town will save money,” said Nunes. “The whole idea was basically to save money.”

If adopted, the article to amend the Personnel Bylaws would affect four out of the 15 employees covered under the Personnel Bylaws.

“I don’t think it’s right we single out those four people,” said Volunteer Fire Department Captain Jeff Eldridge. He suggested amending the article to specify “new hires” only, and not current employees. “That would be a little more user friendly to those four employees.”

Town Administrator Michael McCue said the board has discussed the proposed article with the Personnel Board, which voted in favor of the article, and the group all agreed to apply the bylaw change to all employees rather than only new hires.

Chief Dispatcher Tracy Eldridge said, looking at the steps as presented, current employees “already committed to the town and stuck around would lose.”

“Wouldn’t it make more sense to flip it?” said Tracy Eldridge.

Nunes said the proposed change in the article reflects the federal employee step system, allowing for annual step increases until step four is reached, 104 weeks in-between steps up till step seven, and then 156 in-between steps up to step ten, the maximum step.

Tracy Eldridge and Captain Eldridge both made comments on amending the article on the Town Meeting floor to change the language to affect only new hires.

“A quick Band-Aid was thrown together in three weeks,” said Captain Eldridge. “…If we just adjust this Band-Aid a little bit, it will stop all this indecisiveness … at Town Meeting.

The Town budget already reflects the step increases for employees affected next year. Captain Eldridge said it was like “the rug being pulled out” beneath those four employees.

Also during the meeting, an article that selectmen removed from the warrant, which would allow members of the Board of Assessors to serve as appointed positions that report to the Assessors Office, was added back on after Assessor Diana Knapp presented a petition of 12 signatures.

The article was initially prompted by the recent election of Debra Lalli to the Board of Assessors. Lalli is currently a clerk that reports to the Board of Assessors. Selectmen voted to approve the request.

The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for June 1 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

By Jean Perry

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Elks Student of the Month

The Elks of Wareham Lodge No. 1548 sponsors the Elks Student of the Month and Student of the Year Awards for students enrolled in local area high schools. The criteria used in nominating a student includes a student who excels in scholarship, citizenship, performing arts, fine arts, hobbies, athletics, church, school, club and community service, industry and farming.

We congratulate Senior Ryan Noonan of Marion for being selected by the Old Rochester Regional High School faculty and staff. Ryan has volunteered for the last two years with special needs students at Old Rochester Regional High School, helping them with academic and social skills. Additionally, since junior high Ryan has worked as a volunteer firefighter in Marion, eventually culminating in a paid position and newsworthy “Promposal.” His school spirit and exuberance have made him a fixture at the school and a constant source of school pride. Next year, Ryan will continue his fire studies at the University of New Haven. He will be missed dearly at Old Rochester.

Honoring Local Environmental Leaders

The Buzzards Bay Coalition invites its members and the public to learn about the organization’s past year of accomplishments to improve and protect the health of Buzzards Bay during its 27th annual meeting on Thursday, May 21 at Shining Tides at Camp Massasoit in Mattapoisett.

The meeting, which will run from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, is free and open to the public. At 5:30 pm, meeting attendees will enjoy a reception with fellow members and coalition board and staff. The formal part of the meeting, beginning at 6:30 pm, will include a brief discussion of the organization’s 2014 accomplishments, election of board members, and a presentation of the 2015 Buzzards Bay Guardian Awards and Volunteers of the Year awards.

The Buzzards Bay Guardian Award is the highest honor bestowed by the Buzzards Bay Coalition. Buzzards Bay Guardians must have demonstrated outstanding service in the cleanup, restoration or protection of Buzzards Bay. Their work may be as a citizen volunteer, an organization, or a public official or employee. Most importantly, a Buzzards Bay Guardian is an unsung hero or heroine who deserves public recognition, not only for what they have achieved but also for inspiring others to make a difference.

This year, the Coalition will present four Guardian awards that recognize leadership in addressing nitrogen pollution, conserving land, and protecting Buzzards Bay from oil spills. Recipients include:

Paul Niedzwiecki, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Commission, for his outstanding leadership in producing the Cape Cod 208 Water Quality Plan that charts a path for addressing the Cape’s nitrogen pollution crisis.

Jennifer Howard, Director of Land Protection at Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, whose leadership on behalf of the Commonwealth supported the completion of the Nasketucket Bay Land Conservation Project that helped double the size of the Nasketucket Bay State Reservation.

Seth Scofield & Pierce Cray, Massachusetts’ Assistant Attorneys General, for a decade of excellent defense of the Massachusetts Oil Spill Prevention Act.

Joe Costa, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, for a lifetime of outstanding service to the health of the Bay, including starting the Baywatchers water quality monitoring program.

The meeting is free and open to the public. Camp Massasoit is located at the Mattapoisett YMCA at 38 Reservation Road in Mattapoisett. For more information and directions to the annual meeting, contact the Buzzards Bay Coalition at 508-999-6363 or visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org/events.

Award-winning Children’s Author

Children’s author Loree Griffin Burns will visit Old Hammondtown School, Rochester Memorial School, and Old Rochester Regional Junior High School May 27, 28, 29 and June 1 to speak to students in Grades 5 through 7. Old Hammondtown School students will enjoy a program based on Ms. Burns’ book, Tracking Trash, Rochester Memorial School will focus on Citizen Scientists, and 7th graders will hear a program based on Ms. Burns’ latest book, Beetle Busters, about the Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation in the Worcester area.

The public is invited to a MOBY (My Own BackYard) event on Saturday, May 30 at 1:00 pm, when Loree Burns will present a citizen science program based on the Lost Ladybug Project. The program will begin at the Plumb Memorial Library in Rochester and move to a nearby field on Dexter Lane. Ms. Burns will teach children and their families to collect ladybugs, photograph them, and then upload their data to the Lost Ladybug Project website (http://lostladybug.org/) where their data will be used by scientists keeping track of North American ladybug species.

The Saturday program is part of the Tri-Town libraries project, My Own BackYard (MOBY) federally funded with LSTA funds through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. MOBY is a year-long science and nature exploration program for students in grades three through eight and their families.

To register for the library Citizen Science program on Saturday, May 30 at 1:00 pm, please call Rochester Library at 508-763-8600.

Boat Race Ham & Bean Supper

The Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race (RMDBR) Ham & Bean Supper will be held Saturday, May 23 at the Rochester Memorial School, 16 Pine Street in Rochester. The supper will be served from 5:00 to 7:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased at the door. Adults cost $10 and children under 12 are only $5. Beans baked by the best bean bakers in town, coleslaw and potato salad prepared by the Culinary Arts Department at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School, rolls and brown bread. To top it all off, apple crisp prepared by Meredith of The Artisan Bake Shop will be served for dessert. Proceeds from the supper help offset the expenses of the race. This is the 81st anniversary of the race, and it remains one of the few racing events with no entry fees as it was in 1934 when it was started. Enjoy a great meal at one of the important social events of the year in our area. The more the merrier. Parking at the rear of the school, enter at the rear door. For additional information, please contact Arthur Benner, Chairman, RMDBR, 508-763-2024.