The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
Rochester Country Fair a Success
By Jean Perry
Did you hear it? Tractor engines revving, rock and roll resonating for miles, cows mooing, goat bah-ing or whatever it is that they say....
Did you see it? Axes flying, clouds of dust rising, dudes with long bushy beards and the rural splendor of overalls and John Deere tee shirts....
Did you smell it? The onions and peppers and Italian sausage, the fried fair food, and the scent of hay mixed with diesel engine fumes. Ah, the magic of the Rochester Country Fair....
This year the weather, although still quite warm, was clear and dry, giving fair-goers an opportunity to take it all in and enjoy the annual event unencumbered.
From Thursday, August 18, until Sunday, August 21, Rochester was alive with the sounds, sights, and smells of good, old, traditional country fun.
Some new events this year were a hit, said Rochester Country Fair Committee Co-Chair Julie Koczera, especially the dog agility presentation on Saturday and the addition of two cage fighting events during the Saturday night wrestling.
The 'fight' between The Aardvark and Buck Chuck was great fun, said Koczera, who said the teaming up of The Wanderer and the fair and The Aardvark and Buck Chuck added "a lot of smiles" to this year's event.
"With The Aardvark and the staff walking round handing out stuff ... it definitely added to the fair," said Koczera. "Anytime you guys want to come back, that's great."
She said kids and families especially enjoyed the sight of the two characters together by the kids' events on Saturday and the squeaky aardvarks handed out by The Aardvark.
"The fair was very successful," said Koczera. "We added a lot of new events. It brought out a lot of new faces this year, along with the people and families in our community that come out every year."
Attendance over the weekend, which was assisted by the clear weather forecast, was close to about 5,000, said Koczera.
"The weather was better than last year, but still hot and dry," said Koczera. "But you can't control the weather conditions."
Trying and adding new things every year is what keeps the fair from getting stale, as Koczera put it. Switching the main concert event to Friday night and holding the wrestling events on Saturday night instead is something the fair committee will continue next year, saying it worked out better this way.
"So this year's fair really was a success," said Koczera. "I had people come up to me and say, 'This is my child's favorite weekend of the summer.' You really work so hard all year and you get there and you're like, oh, I'm so tired, and then you have kids coming in with their frogs and coming up to you telling you that it's their favorite weekend. That's rewarding in itself."
The Wanderer Seeks Student Journalists
Are you a student at Old Rochester Regional or Old Colony who enjoys writing, finding a good scoop, and telling everybody about it? How about getting paid for doing something you enjoy anyway? There's that, and the thrill of seeing your name in print, which never really gets old, in our opinion.
Writing as a student correspondent for The Wanderer is a great way to gain writing experience under the guidance of an experienced editor, is an attractive skill for prospective colleges, and can be a reference source for your future should you consider a career in journalism or writing.
We are looking for enthusiastic students who have creative pens, noses for news, and who can commit to meeting a deadline each week to join The Wanderer team for the 2016/2017 school year. Each Monday, you will submit one story about the happenings, hot topics, and school events with at least one photo to the news editor. In exchange, you will receive $40 and constructive criticism from the news editor on how to tighten your journalism skills and learn proper formatting for newspaper writing.
We need one correspondent from ORR and one from Old Colony, and a writer for ORR sports updates. Please email a message of interest or any questions about the positions to News Editor Jean Perry at email@example.com.
It's Just Like Riding A Bike
This Mattapoisett Life
By Marilou Newell
It was surprising to see among her possessions a bicycle. Gardening supplies, antique furniture, lamps, chairs, side tables, boxes of bric-a-brac and a brand new bicycle stuffed into a large storage unit.
She had sold her beloved hundred-year-old farmhouse on the hill, had cast about for a place to land, and to her dismay eventually found herself in senior housing. The small studio apartment was far from adequate to re-home her restless soul, never mind her numerous belongings.
We had come to consolidate the bits and pieces of her tangible assets from two storage units down to one. She had to touch these pieces and talk about when, where, and how each had been added to the collection. She had to remember a life, her life.
My friend has been sick a long time. It will take her away sooner rather than later now. Her inner fortitude versus her physical wherewithal is why she is still standing, standing in this storage unit.
Things have become rather difficult of late. Added to her chronic health problems are intermittent infections that cripple her ambition to simply live another day. Yet, she fights on as only the tragically ill can do in a battle she will not survive.
And there is the bicycle. It is a brand new beauty for sure. I ask, "Who did you buy the bike for," believing as I did that she couldn't have purchased it for herself. My god, she couldn't have thought riding a bike was possible with an oxygen tank.
"For myself, of course," she replies with a not-too-friendly smirk that telegraphs how stupid I am for even asking the question. I say no more but think, "I know all about bikes."
Dad had wanted a bike. Long past owning and operating a motor vehicle, he wanted a bike so he could get to his fishing boat, to the banks and grocery stores he owned, to his home where his new wife was waiting for him. The elaborate tapestry his brain had woven over the past few years was complex with finite details. He would ride and be mobile again. He and he alone would dictate his comings and goings, not a failing body or a well-meaning daughter.
I told him repeatedly that his knees weren't capable of peddling a bike, but he knew otherwise. So strong was his confabulated belief system that his inability to walk unaided or dress himself meant nothing. When opportunity presented itself in the form of a grandson who could be manipulated to aid in his scheme, he jumped at the chance.
"Give me a ride to Benny's, I need to get some supplies," he told the unwitting co-conspirator. He even managed to spirit the checkbook out of its hiding place, getting his grandson to help him fill it out. Now he had a bike.
The next day, he pushed the bike to the fire station to pump air into the tires. The young firemen insisted he wear a helmet and produced one for him. A size or two too small, Dad placed the helmet on his head and pushed the bike back home.
Later that afternoon, I received a call at my office from one of Dad's neighbors. The caller was concerned. Dad was sitting outside his home on a snowdrift wearing a bike helmet and holding onto a new bike. I said, "I'll be there in twenty minutes."
As I turned the corner, I could see him still sitting there. He was smiling. He may have been speaking to the people who regularly visited his imagination, maybe even his new wife.
"What are you doing, Dad," I say as I walk towards him. I say, "You have to get up Dad." I put my hand out, "Come in the house. I'll make you a cup of coffee." He responds, "OK, but I'm pretty tired from riding this bike."
Once inside, I insist that he change out of his wet clothing, helping him to do so. He doesn't know how they got wet. I tell him because he was sitting on the snow bank for at least an hour. "Nay, I was riding that bike," he responds.
The bike became a symbol of our struggle between his unrelenting desire to be free and live a life of purposeful activities and my desire to try and keep him safe. I would eventually win the hollow victory.
Back to the present, my friend and I manage to consolidate her possessions - including her bike - into one unit.
Maybe for her that bicycle is her symbol of freedom. Maybe just owning it is enough. Maybe she imagines riding it with her beloved dogs looping along, young and strong and so alive in memory. Maybe she sees her husband waiting at a crossroad just up ahead, a crossroad she's pedaling towards on a bicycle she rides in dreams.
Marion COA Offering Quality Cultural Programs
By Jean Perry
An August 22 presentation on Robert Frost at the Marion Council on Aging is further evidence that what the Marion COA has to offer area seniors - and residents in general - is a continuous stream of quality cultural and literary immersion with the opportunity to share in the conversation with fellow community members.
Robert Frost, the only poet to win the Pulitzer Prize four times, is considered the quintessential New England poet, as presented by Stephen Collins who introduced Frost to a few dozen attendees, each holding a handout of several of Frost's poems up for discussion that afternoon.
Without even a single poetic word spoken, the images of farms, broken down stone walls, birches, and apple trees emerge from our collective consciousness, all metaphors for the shared human experience that Frost so eloquently, so effectively (yet casually and relaxed, as only Frost can do) conveys to us.
Reading The Tuft of Flowers, Collins points out, "It's conversational. It's like he's just chit-chatting with you." Collins later said, "He took everyday colloquial English and made it into brilliant poetry."
As Collins shared during what he deemed his "thumbnail" introduction of Frost's life story, Frost's childhood was tarnished by alcoholism in the family, which caused much instability during his formative years and took the life of his father at age 38. Furthermore, as Frost openly acknowledged, depression was pervasive on both sides of his family.
From his farm in Derry, New Hampshire, to England where he was first published, and back to the United States where he eventually spent 40 years teaching at Amherst College, Frost always sough the beauty of nature and life, fullness of love, the joie de vivre, as Collins described Frost's poetic works, reading and discussing other poems such as Mending Wall, Birches, Desert Places, and Acquainted With the Night.
Analysis and exploration of the poems was an interactive discussion between presenter and audience, each providing insight and personal interpretation. Collins' understandings of the poems are evident in the poignancy of his explanations and the sincere responses from the audience. Collins has spent years studying Frost and has read just about every biography on him that he could get his hands on.
Collins offers a number of different literary presentations, including a Walt Whitman impersonation, which he performed at the Mattapoisett Library in April of 2015. He also gives lectures on Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy's poetry, Yeats, and other more modern poets, although his presentations are more of a fusion of teaching and performance.
Collins often visits councils on aging throughout the state and nearby states, and this year is part of the Young Audiences of Massachusetts program, visiting local schools sharing his literary insights and talent for performing with students.
The COA has a number of literary-centric programs forthcoming, starting on August 29 with a lecture titled "Swans" presented by Marion resident and author Phyllis Washburn on her book Good Morning Sam.
On September 12, Professor of American Literature at UMass Dartmouth and Marion resident Charles White will give an informal lecture on the life and works of Emily Dickinson.
Both programs begin at 12:45 pm at the Marion Music Hall on Front Street, free to the public.
"I try to have a broad mix [of programming] that will appeal to different people," said Karen Gregory, COA programming coordinator. "Sometimes I'm amazed at what works and what doesn't work."
Stephen Collins' Robert Frost lecture was funded by a grant the COA received from the Marion Cultural Council.
"We are very happy that the Cultural Council supported this one," said Gregory. "I think Stephen's performance was overwhelmingly positive." Gregory said many attendees remarked on how they would be speaking with the local schools to invite Collins to give a presentation to students. "I think that speaks volumes to his presentation."
Grange Fair Celebrates an Agricultural Past
By Andrea Ray
For a town recognized for its pride in its agricultural heritage, the Rochester Grange Fair remained surprisingly quiet on Saturday, where small groups of people milled around the warm upper floor of the Rochester Grange Hall.
They were the lucky ones, considering the displays in front of them. Brightly colored flowers decorated the small stage. Mouthwatering vegetables covered tables and filled old Radio Flyers. Spread out along the edges of the room, handmade quilts, knitted blankets, and local paintings perched on folding tables.
"The National Grange itself was started after the Civil War," explained Grange Secretary Susan Lafleur, referring to the national organizing body which runs all town grange halls. "It was originally for farmers. It was meant to be an aid to them."
As the Massachusetts State Grange website explains, The Grange is meant "to unite private citizens in improving the economic and social position of the nation's farm population."
In the earliest days of the fair, Lafleur explained, every aspect of agriculture was celebrated at Rochester's Grange Fair. Livestock would have been judged and prizes handed out. Matched pairs of draft horses would pull logs, sweating and blowing under a late-summer sun. Today, the livestock can't be shown; state mandates and restrictions have forbidden a large part of the fair.
Nevertheless, the other half of the fair remains traditional. It's fascinating to find such a historical style of fair, conducted in much of the same fashion as it would have been in 1910.
In the Rochester Grange, dusty afternoon sunlight peered through the tall windows of the hall. It spilled onto wooden boards worn down by a century's worth of footsteps. Several different categories of local wares were judged, including plated and canned vegetables, baked goods, photographs, floral arrangements, and cut flowers. Some of the baked goods were offered for sale; chocolate chip brownies and muffins, cranberry bread and banana bread all proved too tempting to resist.
The judged categories gave an indication as to what was important to a truly agricultural town in the past.
When the fair began in the early twentieth century, farmers were looking for a source of extra support. Living in a small farming-centered town, an agricultural fair was as much a social occasion as it was a friendly competition.
Winning a prize also meant winning a few dollars, which would have gone a long way. Those traditional monetary prizes are still available today; a vegetable display will earn $6 to the winner, $5 to second place, and $4 to third place. Individual presentations of the other categories net $4 for the winner, $3 for the runner-up, and $2 to third place. Even today, a handy green thumb or local artist could walk away with a handful of cash. Ribbons were awarded by the Rochester Grange.
Purple ribbons also fluttered on several displays. These ribbons were bestowed by the Massachusetts Grange, which still aids in the running of local agricultural fairs to this day. There are still several agricultural fairs nearby. Lafleur noted that the Middleborough Grange Fair will be held on Saturday, August 27.
Displays at the fair change with the year and with participation from the town and local areas.
"Every year is different," said Lafleur. "Last year, we had enough flowers to fill the room; this year there's not so many. It's the same with the vegetables, although I don't know if the season was great for them overall. We have more crafts than we did, more photography. We had a number of new people this year, which was good," she added. "We always encourage that."
The Feisty Fiddler Crab
By George B. Emmons
Crabs are classified as crustaceans and are highly valued as predators and scavengers to the Buzzards Bay ecosystem by keeping it clean and also providing a valuable food source for the environment and humans.
Many miles of the Buzzards Bay shoreline here are perfect for fiddler crabs, which have a 'clock' in their heads to be in tune with the rhythm of the tides, preferring a muddy mangrove habitat with rich organic matter but also right at home in the breaking of waves.
Fiddlers are omnivorous, meaning they will eat almost anything, including carrion of the dead or dying, especially fish commonly used for bait to catch them in nets or traps.
Their protective hard shells are like a knight's suit of armor but do not grow with their body, requiring the crabs to annually molt and shed their shells for a larger size, as many as fourteen times in a lifetime.
The male fiddler has an oversize claw used as a warning to trespassers and competitors for female attention. The female has two small claws. After mating, she gives birth to millions of eggs called larvae that when fertilized look like jelly that bears no resemblance to adults until about five weeks when metamorphosis turns them into tiny crabs.
Research suggests that fiddlers communicate by drumming their claws on the ground or by snapping them together, and they can detect the slightest movement around them. They have a keen sense of hearing through multiple hairs on the body. Each hair is also sensitive to chemical changes to help them to locate food.
When threatened, they often freeze to resemble a rock or promptly bury themselves in the mud. They have powerful vision to see movement all around without turning their heads using two compound eyes that have hundreds of tiny cells on the tips of eye stalks that protrude from their heads and can fold into protective grooves.
Fossils show that crabs have been around for some 120 million years, able to protect themselves with their feisty demeanor while also lending themselves to a variety of shapes and colors for vibrant art recently featured on Australian stamps for The World Wildlife Fund.
For children, a crab too clever to be caught called Sebastian appeared in the Walt Disney animated film The Little Mermaid, but don't let your child pick one up to find out they are very feisty.
Drought Warning Issued for Tri-Town Region
By Jean Perry
As part of the Southeast of Massachusetts, Tri-Town is one of the areas hit hard by the dry summer the region has been experiencing, as evidenced by escalating water restrictions and extremely low water marks, most notably the Mattapoisett River.
After five straight months of dry conditions all throughout the Commonwealth, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton declared a number of drought levels in the state, with Southeast Massachusetts declared first a Drought Advisory and now a Drought Watch. A Drought Warning was issued for Central and Northeast Massachusetts.
"The declaration ... represents the lasting agricultural, environmental, economic, and public safety impacts associated with prolonged drought conditions," said Beaton in a press release. "The Baker-Polito Administration will continue to work with the Drought Management Task Force, government officials, and stakeholders to ensure appropriate actions are taken to minimize any harmful effects of the drought. The public is strongly encouraged to limit outdoor water usage, and integrate water-saving techniques into their daily routines."
Groundwater levels and stream levels are also excessively low, with seasonal rainfall levels five to eight inches below the norm. A shortfall in winter precipitation preceded the summer dry spell, further affecting water levels.
With this comes the increased threat of brush and wildfires, so the public is encouraged to use extreme caution with matches, cigarette butts, and charcoal grills.
Mattapoisett Water & Sewer Superintendent Henri Renauld said the water supply for Mattapoisett as well as Fairhaven is relatively stable, but a meeting on Wednesday will determine if the two towns wish to move forward with a voluntary water ban.
"I think we need rain," said Renault on Tuesday during a phone interview. "We may hopefully get the residents more aware so that we can be a little more careful with our water use in a time that's so dry."
With the Drought Watch, the state recommends that outdoor watering be limited to handheld hose use and watering cans after 5:00 pm or before 9:00 am to avoid evaporation loss. The filling of swimming pools, and washing vehicles and buildings should also be prohibited, recommends the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
"We are asking people to heed the restrictions put on non-essential outdoor water use - especially when lawn-watering - that local water suppliers are putting in place to conserve important resources under these adverse conditions," stated Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg. "MassDEP will continue to provide technical assistance to water suppliers."
Property Clean-up Within Boundary Lines
Mattapoisett Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell
During the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission's meeting on August 22, the owner of a soon-to-reopen new restaurant located at 79 Fairhaven Road (Route 6), Nabah Mougabber, came before the commissioners saying, "We own beyond where we have cut."
Abutter Fred Wyze and his family located at 3 River Road had complained to the commission during the July 25 meeting that Mougabber had cleared brush and trees, some of which Wyze contended were on his property, and thus eliminated the natural shielding of a view of the back of the restaurant, shielding they had enjoyed for years.
Chairman Bob Rogers suggested to Mougabber that he have the restaurant property's boundary lines delineated and to file a Request for Determination of Applicability since the entire property was within jurisdictional areas, mainly flood zone and the Mattapoisett River.
On this night, Mougabber was back with an update. He said that he has had the property surveyed and learned that property lines were beyond areas where brush clearing had taken place.
"We own beyond where we cut," Mougabber explained. He said that vines were killing what trees were actually behind the building and that, "We want to make it nice and neat for the neighborhood."
Mougabber lamented negative comments he and his family had received via Facebook postings. He said, "I'll let that slide. If it keeps up, they will hear from my lawyer."
Mougabber said, "We're not asking too much," regarding his right to clean up the property in question. He also said that apparently the other restaurant situated next to his had also completed some brush clearing and that activity, not his, had used heavy equipment for more extensive clearing. Mougabber asked the commission for guidance.
"What's our right? What can I do and not do?" He continued, "We didn't touch anybody's property," Mougabber told the commissioners. "We now know we own more than what we thought."
Rogers said, "Disputes between neighbors we try to stay out of," and he told Mougabber there was a process for that outside the Conservation Commission. Rogers also said that, moving forward, Mougabber should contact the Conservation Commission whenever work was to take place on the property to ensure compliance with wetlands regulations.
Mougabber's RDA received a Negative 3 determination, meaning no Notice of Intent is required.
Other business conducted included a Negative 3 determination for Marjorie Coldwell's RDA filing for construction of a non-structural concrete slab under an existing raised cottage located at 21 Beach Road.
Roger Tenglin, 124 Aucoot Road, received a Negative 2 determination for the removal of a cabin.
Forrest Neal, 16 Brandt Island Road, met with the commission regarding his RDA filing for the construction of a shed. He received a Negative 3.
The Preserve at Bay Club represented by Jason Youngquist of Outback Engineering requested and received approval for changes to the plan of record for two home sites located on Fieldstone Drive. Original plans changed to slightly larger structures with no impact on previously issued Order of Conditions.
Also on the Bay Club acreage, David McIntire's request for extensions to existing orders of conditions for lots 78A through 90 at Shagbark Circle was continued for two weeks to give him time to have wetlands flagging re-established.
A new plan of record was accepted from Blue Wave Capital for modest edits that included possible intermittent streams and other wetland features at the future solar array site located on Crystal Spring Road.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 12 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.
York Steps Down From Rochester ConCom
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell
The August 17 meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission proved to be a tame affair with several uncomplicated hearings handled.
At the end of the meeting, Chairman Rosemary Smith announced that longtime Conservation Commission member Christopher York was stepping down from his seat. Smith said that due to relocating out of the area, York would be leaving the commission effective immediately.
Associate member Daniel Gagne, who has been monitoring commission hearings and learning the wetlands rules and regulations for nearly a year, was accepted to fill the slot vacated by York.
Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon said, "It has been a real pleasure to work with Chris." Smith added, "You will be missed.
York smiled and said, "I had a great time."
Smith asked York to submit a letter of resignation. The letter will be forwarded on to the selectmen.
A Notice of Intent filed by Joseph Rocha, 237 Walnut Plain Road, and a Request for Determination of Applicability from Don Collasius, 172 Braley Hill Road, both received approval to move forward with septic improvements and construction. Rocha's NOI was needed, Farinon explained, versus a simple RDA filing due the location of Rocha's septic system in relation to Doggett's Brook.
A continued hearing from August 3 for the NOI filing by James Fraser and Katherine Hanson, 361 Snows Pond Road, for construction of a studio structure and repair of bordering vegetated wetlands previously disturbed received an Order of Conditions after its third and final hearing on this night.
The RDA filing by Center Village Condominiums represented by Carol Hardy, 7 Benjaman Drive, received a negative determination with standard conditions. The association sought and received permission to expand a driveway area and install outside lighting within a 100-foot buffer zone.
Lastly, Hipolita Almeida, 464 Walnut Plain Road, represented by engineer Rick Charon, received a negative determination of applicability for grading work to improve his driveway area and prepare the site for future garage construction.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for September 7 at 7:00 pm in the Rochester Town Hall meeting room.
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