The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
ORRHS Play is Looking 'Wonderful'
By Patrick Briand
It would not be the holiday season without a drama club production at Old Rochester Regional High School. The school's acclaimed drama club always puts on a play during the November/December corridor, and this year, that play is a radio broadcast of 'It's a Wonderful Life.'
Directed by Paul Sardinha and with costumes by Helen Blake, the show's first night is Thursday, November 20 beginning at 7:30 pm. It plays at the same time on Friday and Saturday nights, and for those wanting to catch an afternoon show, there is a matinee on Sunday, November 23 at 2:00 pm.
Most people are familiar with 'It's a Wonderful Life,' which has become a Christmas classic since its 1946 release. The strong reputation of the film and the inspiring theme of redemption it displays make it a good choice for a holiday play.
Senior Ian MacLellan, a drama club veteran, plays the main character George Bailey in this production. MacLellan cracked a joke about his role, saying, "There are no small parts. I do what I can with the small role I was given."
For MacLellan, the lead role wasn't necessarily his goal when he auditioned a few months ago.
"I didn't really walk in with a part in mind," he said. "But I did my best and I ended up getting something good."
MacLellan discussed the radio aspect of the show.
"It's more about the tone of your voice, though there is some physicality to it. Body language doesn't matter as much," he stated, though he seemed to like the idea.
Junior Holly Frink portrays George's wife, Mary. Although she says she wanted the role of Violet, Frink was happy with the character of Mary and described her attributes.
"She's married to George. She's a very sweet woman, always trying to help," said Frink. "She's a very selfless woman, and you see how she grows throughout the show."
When asked what she will remember most about the show, Frink said, "It's my first lead role, and I'm playing a role of someone I aspire to be like."
"We're learning to put all our motions into our voice," said Frink about the radio show nature of the play. "And we don't have as much freedom to move around."
Kylie Machado, a junior, has a small role as a background character.
"This is the first year I've been on stage," said Machado. "I wanted to get a different feel for drama, as I've always been backstage working with the crew."
Machado praised the sense of community the drama club has, and the way Mr. Sardinha works to make it interesting for all participants.
"We learn a lot about drama, and Paul talks about so many different things," said Machado. "You definitely make a lot of friends."
After watching a rehearsal of the production, one would agree that the play is coming along well. All the actors and members of the crew, as well as those participating in set design and musical accompaniment, are working hard and showing plenty of devotion to creating memorable performances.
Make sure to catch the play during one of its four showings from November 20 to November 23.
This Mattapoisett Life
By Marilou Newell
There came a time when living with the looping internal dialog so full of pain could not, and would not, be tolerated any longer. With that line drawn, I'd spend the next ten years sorting out those inherited belief systems that could be dispensed with forever. That done, I slowly moved forward - but not without a whole lot of help.
As I groped around searching for enlightenment from various sources, a lighted path in the form of a documentary about the life of Tasha Tudor was aired on PBS. Learning about this amazing woman's life and her art expanded my horizons. For me, it was just the right dose of medicine at the right moment in time.
Distilling Tudor's philosophy down to its purest form, she believed that living a peaceful, happy life was a choice - a choice as simple as 'taking joy' versus negativity.
Yes, a choice! I could choose to see beauty in the moment, enjoy it, versus focusing on something much less positive. By simply telling myself, "Oh, that is so beautiful!" and letting that thought seep into every fiber of my being, I could feel uplifted and, well, joyful. I was free to make a choice and 'take joy.' Liberation never felt so good.
Concurrent with finding Tudor were other discoveries that continued to help free my thinking processes, allowing me to grow emotional wings and build muscles that would be needed in the future.
There was Wayne Dyer, Ram Dass, Depak Chopra, Earl Nightingale, and Eleanor Roosevelt, to name a few. Call it self-help if you will. That is precisely what most mental health rehabilitation is all about for garden-variety neurotics - getting the individual to take responsibility for their own happiness. I took that challenge. I've never looked back.
One day, shortly after I moved to Mattapoisett and at the very beginning of my decade of discovery, I was taking a walk near my home and met a lady who was working in her yard. We chatted briefly about the lovely day, her flowers, the season ahead, and other pleasantries. As I walked on, I was left with a feeling of joy from merely being in her presences for a few moments. That brief interaction brought Tudor's mantra 'take joy' to mind. It seemed this neighbor personified those words. She was fully in the moment and enjoying it.
As the years would pass, our paths crossed many times. Sometimes she'd ride her bike past my house cycling by with her famous cheery hello, or I'd walk by her home stopping to pass a bit of time over a flower specimen she was working on, or at a public hearing on a shared community issue. Each time I was left feeling good speaking with her.
This past spring, she was walking up the dump road with her husband and another neighbor as I was walking my dog back towards North Street. She called me over where her small group was standing looking intently into the woods at something. She said, "It's a towhee..." with a childlike twinkle in her eye. She could hardly contain the joy she was feeling; it overflowed and filled me with wonder at the discovery of this migratory bird. And there it was - a tiny little bit of living, breathing perfection. Because of this lady, I was carried along happily engaged with Mother Nature, transported to a joyful place in my soul.
Oftentimes, as we had exchanged greetings over the decades, she never knew the burden I was carrying - nor I, hers. We avoided all that and gave each other something else, something positive, a bit of gladness, a smile, kindness and warmth.
When it became obvious that something was going wrong in her world, I was troubled. It's a small town and soon I would learn of her health struggles. She wasn't out in her yard any longer, or on her bike or her boat.
I sent her an email. I told her I knew things were difficult for her, but I wanted her to know that over the more than 20 years of our causal friendship, she had always uplifted me. I wanted her to know what a gift her voice in my ear had been. She replied with a thank you while urging me to keep on writing.
I saw her once more, early one morning as she walked slowly at her husband's side near their home. She told me how much my email had meant to her. I could barely contain my tears. In that fleeting split-second of eye contact, I knew I would never see her again. I wanted to say something easy and sweet. I said, "What a morning!" as we stood in the warmth of the sun. She said, "Yes, isn't it a good day to be alive."
She is gone now. My heart is broken for her family and close friends. What a loss to a world in sore need of people who are able to take joy and then share it with others as she had been so famous for doing.
I will miss her, but I know I'll see her and hear her in the changing seasons, the blush of a flower blossom, in fluttering hummingbird wings, clouds, wind, sunsets, and ocean waves. Her name is now added to my list of people who by their teachings or example have given me my freedom of choice - the freedom to take joy.
Thank you dear Ruth, rest in peace.
Local Band Releasing Third Album
By Michael Cimaomo
In today's modern music marketplace, it has never been easier for musicians to have their work heard by a sizable audience. The Internet, social media, and the increased ease of home recording have all contributed to the breaking down of walls between artists and fans.
Giant acts like U2 and Taylor Swift have made the news in recent months for the different approaches they've employed in controlling the distribution of their work, and given the reaction from other artists, bands and recording engineers, it appears that one fact remains certain. Though being a professional musician takes plenty of hard work and determination, it also never hurts to be a good salesman.
Taking its name from the sometimes-aggressive pitchmen of old, the Southcoast Massachusetts band, Huxster, acknowledges the part played by salesmanship in a group's present-day interaction with potential listeners.
"All bands are 'Huxsters' selling their music," said Huxster drummer and background vocalist Joe Patten during a recent interview. "May explain why our first disc was called Snake Oil."
That album, released in 2010, launched the career of Huxster in New England, despite the fact that the band's members - Patten, Paul Amenta (guitar, vocals), and David Dunn (bass, vocals) - had already been involved either together or in different bands around the area for years.
Dunn, now a resident of Mattapoisett, even gained some renown playing in the group Machinery Hall, which won the Boston Music Award for Best Rock Act in 1996, and saw its song "Herd" hit number one on the charts in Scotland.
Patten said, "Sometime around 2004 or 2005 some of us had been playing in a cover band and the singer's brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. He decided to take some time off and during this time, we starting recording some original material for fun. This led to the first CD and the formation of the band."
Early tracks from Snake Oil, like "I'll Be Fine" and "Something Better," show Huxster's competency at crafting well-produced rock that is punctuated by crisp guitar solos and yearning vocals. However, the scope of the band's talent really becomes apparent when one listens to its 2013 release Bourbon Stomp, which consists of acoustic material played with a country-tinged, Americana edge.
The instrumental title track and numbers like "Let It Go," "Bliss" and "Day to Shine," are glowing examples of songs that feel warm and intimate, qualities that other east coast bands are quick to note when describing Huxster.
"Huxster's the real deal," said Kevin Drinan, guitarist and vocalist for the Boston group Glowbox when asked to share his thoughts on the band. "They know how to write a great rock song that's loaded with hooks, and it's getting increasingly harder to find bands these days who rock hard and still have that great sense of melody. There aren't a lot of bands around now who write stuff that gets stuck in your head for days, but these guys manage to do it."
"The band Huxster has been part of a steadily growing scene," contributed Rick O'Neal, bassist for the Worcester-based group The Delta Generators. "You can't really get more compact than they are with three pieces, but you don't need to add anything either because those pieces fit together so well."
"They're a group of talented musicians that write genuine appealing music," added Glowbox bassist Rick Famiglietti. "In today's day and age, it's always inspiring to hear music with integrity."
Integrity is important, but so is product. And Huxster is currently hard at work putting the finishing touches on its third full-length release, which should be available in early 2015. Two songs from the still un-titled record, "I'll Find A Way" and "Guns and Roses," have already been shared online by the band, providing up-tempo previews of what should be an evolved effort from the group.
Patten explained, "We've spent the last year working closely with Paul David Hager on our new recording. Paul has been on tour as the live engineer for Miley Cyrus and actually mixed some of our songs while in South America, Australia and New Zealand." He continued, "Paul also has worked with Van Halen, Devo, American Hi-Fi and the local band Letters to Cleo. Basic tracking began at Powerstation studios in Connecticut and we recorded all the overdubs such as guitars and vocals locally."
Those anxious to see Huxster perform live will have to wait until the band finalizes plans for a record release show, which is now tentatively scheduled to take place in southern Massachusetts sometime in January. But Patten is unequivocal in his praise for the work he and his band mates have put into their latest release.
"We have evolved and grown as a band," he said. "We think this new record is our best."
For more information on Huxster, please visit www.huxsterband.com.
Board Mourns Loss, Approves New Businesses
Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals
By Marilou Newell
As Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Richard Cutler and fellow board members Kirby Gilmore and David Arancio waited for the other members to arrive for the November 13 meeting, they reflected upon the loss of Gilmore's brother, Benjamin, who passed away on October 31.
They placed a bouquet of flowers at the meeting table where for many years on various boards and committees he had served the Town of Rochester, most recently on the ZBA.
Gilmore spoke of Benjamin's generosity throughout his life with not only his time and possessions, but also his total commitment to helping others and his love of family and friends. He was remembered as an outstanding public servant and now a much missed loving brother.
Cutler was able to call the meeting to order with the arrival of Randal Cabral and Davis Sullivan. Benjamin Gilmore's vacant seat on the ZBA was filled with the advancement of David Arancio from associate member to member.
Coming before the ZBA to hear the final legal decision on his application was Brian Cook of Sprint Reality for a mixed-use property located at the former General Store site on Route 105.
Cutler read from a letter drafted by Town Counsel Blair Bailey, which states that Cook may construct three businesses and two residences in a single structure that may not exceed the previous structure's square footage or set-backs.
The applicant is allowed to build on the location, opening businesses in keeping with the character of the neighborhood and of a similar nature to those allowed in the past. Zoning bylaws 9A3 and 9A5 were cited.
Cutler impressed upon Cook the importance of filing the decision with the Registry of Deeds, and that he also has 20 days to appeal the decision. Cook thanked the board and was pleased with the documentation.
Cutler told the board he is scheduled to meet with Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson and a member of the board of selectmen to discuss how to move forward with bylaw amendments on the heels of issues that had arisen at the Fall Special Town Meeting.
He said that the various boards are not working from the same set of bylaws and that bylaw amendments from 2012 and 2013 had yet to be included in a thoroughly updated document. Cabral asked who was responsible for updating the zoning bylaws. Cutler responded the town clerk.
The next meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled for December 11 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Citizen Petition Lacks Clarity
Marion Planning Board
By Jean Perry
The Marion Planning Board discussed a zoning bylaw amendment proposed in a citizen petition aimed at limiting the size of commercial and retail structures and deemed it to be "too thin," as Chairman Stephen Kokkins put it on November 17. Board member Norman Hills, though, called it "unclear, confusing," and in conflict with other current zoning bylaws.
Board Member Rico Ferrari led the discussion on a citizen petition bylaw amendment that would "encourage responsible commercial and retail development ... along Route 6," as stated in the petition. Former Planning Board member, and Master Plan Subcommittee member, Ted North was also present and in support of forming a bylaw amendment.
A bylaw amendment such as this would essentially prevent the impending CVS project from moving forward in Marion.
The citizen petition, already submitted to the Board of Selectmen and certified by the registrar of voters, aims to limit new commercial and retail business structures to a maximum of 5,000 square feet, or a 10 percent lot coverage, whichever is larger, but specifies the exemption of limited industrial, marine business, and campus office park districts.
Hills acknowledged a need for a zoning bylaw amendment. "But I don't think this is going to get us there," he stated.
Hills said the language does not specify to which zones the bylaw would be applicable; instead, it states where it is 'not' applicable.
Ferrari pointed out that this bylaw would not have allowed Saltworks Marine to develop the plan it had already brought before the Planning Board. "And they're a valuable business to the community," said Ferrari.
Hills said this would also conflict with other existing bylaws and does not place any restrictions on parcels an acre or less in size.
"We don't want to build more conflicts than we have," said Hills, adding that it should not be brought to Town Meeting floor as currently written.
Kokkins suggested looking to other towns' bylaws that have been approved by the attorney general.
Planning Board member Eileen Marum, who had drafted her own version of a zoning bylaw amendment to restrict commercial and retail building size, said she also wants to "maintain a balance ... so Marion can maintain its character," but she had already researched other towns' bylaws for her drafted bylaw.
"I have done the research," said Marum, "and everything that I have written down has already been approved by the attorney general." Marum later commented that it looks like she would have to collect her own signatures for her own citizen petition for a Town Meeting vote. Hills commented that it would be best to come up with one bylaw.
The Master Plan Subcommittee has seemingly adopted the role of coming up with a zoning bylaw amendment and appears to favor building upon the citizen petition in the subcommittee's possession.
Also during the meeting, Marum suggested more transparency in the Master Plan development process, urging the board to reach out to Marion residents and engage them more in the process. Kokkins concurred with Marum, but no decision was made regarding any action to move forward with Marum's suggestion. Hills mentioned a tentative workshop in the future, much like the September 27 Master Plan workshop led by SRPEDD.
In other matters, "Team CVS" wrote a letter to the Planning Board saying that it has further considered the board's recommendations and concerns and has altered its plan. Because of the overwhelming turnout of citizens opposed to the project at a previous meeting held at the Marion Music Hall, the board suggested again holding the meeting at the venue.
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for December 1 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Music Hall, with Team CVS featured on the agenda.
Board Slighted, Will Appeal ZBA Decision
Rochester Planning Board
By Marilou Newell
"I don't think we were ever notified," said Rochester Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson on November 12, displeased over a variance for signage the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals granted to Rochester Crossroads.
Johnson described the situation as the applicant jumping over the Planning Board and heading straight for the ZBA to obtain approval for five signs slated for the proposed commercial development at the intersection of Route 28 and 58, facing Route 495. The approved signs would exceed the maximum size limit of the Town's bylaw.
"We get notifications from other towns but not from our own..." said Johnson.
A careful reading of the ruling from the ZBA noted that its decision does not supersede action taken by other boards.
"I think we need to put the building inspector on notice," said Johnson, to ensure that a building permit was not issued before the Planning Board could appeal the ruling.
The board agreed to seek an appeal of the ZBA ruling and contact Building Inspector Jim Buckles.
"We're not being notified on a consistent basis," stated Johnson, citing the need for improved communication between boards.
Also during the meeting, the board discussed the Hartley Mills subdivision still standing in a state of suspended animation since the developer stopped construction on the site many months ago.
Johnson said the permit is about to expire, and he pondered what the board might do to assist the applicant.
"In good faith they started it," board member Gary Florindo said. "Shouldn't the permit still be valid?" Florindo said it was not the developer's fault, since economic crises caused the project to halt after some roadway and infrastructure work.
Town Counsel Blair Bailey had told Johnson that if the permit expires, the applicant would have to start from the beginning, incurring additional fees and expenses. Johnson said he would check again with Bailey to make sure the permit was in jeopardy of expiring and work with Town Planner Mary Crain to notify the applicant of same. Johnson said that Crain is looking at all open permits and developing a database to ensure that applicants are notified when expiration dates are nearing in an effort to keep all parties informed.
In other matters, the board reviewed issues at Connet Woods. Highway Surveyor Jeffrey Eldridge informed Johnson of some missing berms and possible problems with stormwater management at the site. Johnson referred to the development as a work in progress.
Board member Susan Teal suggested having the Town's engineers and surveyor work with the contractor to ensure that sidewalks, roadways, and drainage basins function properly, calling it "adaptive management."
Two of the evening's public meetings included an Approval Not Required (ANR) application from Susan McCarty of "Lucky Farms" at 570 New Bedford Road that was approved. McCarty, who currently resides in California, is planning to return to the 46 acres she owns in Rochester, keeping approximately 25 acres in permanent protected status from development in the future. Agricultural activities are planned, as well as a small parcel designated as residential for a single-family dwelling and two barns, and another parcel for a possible residential subdivision.
The other public meeting was for The Pines at Hathaway Pond. The board voted to accept code violation rectifications as "minor" on the plan of record and accepted a report from Ken Motta of Field Engineering that the work had been completed to code.
The November 25 meeting of the Rochester Planning Board is cancelled unless they receive an ANR application. Their next meeting is December 9 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Work Halted on Appaloosa Lane
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell
The Mattapoisett Planning Board was expecting to hear about drainage improvements at the Appaloosa Lane sub-division on November 17. What they heard instead was all about percolation testing lots.
Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering, representing Michael Solimando, owner of a parcel that has spent months in front of the Planning Board, told them that he had stopped all work on the property until updated perc testing could be preformed. A percolation test is required before designing a septic system.
Grady's news prompted Chairman Tom Tucker to question Grady's motives.
"Are you saying if it doesn't perc you are not going to fix the existing problem?" Tucker asked Grady.
Grady said he felt confident that the soils would perc to the satisfaction of the Board of Health, but until those tests were completed, everything was on hold.
Grady said he had spoken with Board of Health Agent Dale Barrows regarding testing completed in 2001 at this location. Barrows told Grady that new tests were required to meet current regulations before the lots would be permitted for construction. That was when Grady halted further drainage investigations the Planning Board has been patiently waiting for since last spring.
Neighbors have been before the Planning Board on numerous occasions waiting to hear that Solimando would make the necessary repairs to the drainage system - a point of contention for years.
When Solimando purchased the property, the abutters had hoped that a newly engineered drainage system would resolve problems they experienced on their properties. Drainage improvements have yet to take place. And, the joint study between the Town's engineers, Field Engineering and G.A.F., has been stalled for weeks.
On November 18, weather providing, Grady said that Barrows would witness the new perc tests.
"You were supposed to have answers for us - you have nothing," stated Tucker. Before Tucker continued the hearing, Planning Board member Ron Merlo told Grady, "Stress to your client we want resolution for the [drainage] problems."
Also meeting with the board was Alan Ewing, engineer representing Mason and Jean Smith for property located at 22 and 24 Ned's Point Road.
This exploratory discussion gave Ewing the opportunity to learn if the board might allow the property owners to build a road or long driveway from the public road into the property for about 113 feet to a waterside lot.
The new lot would have to be permitted via a Form C application, and the roadway would require the reconfiguration of lots 22 and 24 at the site to accommodate its inclusion.
Tucker told Ewing that a similar request had been accommodated in the vicinity, setting a precedent in the area that might allow Ewing to move forward into the planning stages.
Before adjourning, board member John Mathieu asked the other members if they could "dust off" their notes on bylaw improvements so they could continue their work on this project. They agreed that at the next meeting they would continue their efforts of text edits and upgrades on a number of zoning bylaws.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is December 1 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Open Space Plan Needs Volunteers
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell
During its November 18 meeting, Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon reported to the Rochester Conservation Commission that volunteers are urgently needed to assist in crafting the 2016 open space plan.
The current plan is set to expire in October 2015, but with a lack of citizen participation, creating such a critical plan will prove difficult.
Open Space plans tie into a variety of other town plans, and are oftentimes required by the State of Massachusetts and federal government when cities and towns apply for grants and funds.
Anyone interested in lending their time and talents to this effort should contact the Board of Selectmen, Farinon told the public. Letters of interest can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: Board of Selectmen, Town Hall, 1 Constitution Way, Rochester, MA, 02770.
Farinon also discussed options for updating websites and web pages for the Conservation Commission.
She said that they could pursue a stand-alone site until such time as the Town's main website is overhauled. A stand-alone site would be linked to the current Town site, costing about $1,890 to create and $30 per month for outside maintenance and uploads.
The commission asked Farinon to move forward in talking to the Board of Selectmen about possible funding sources, including from fees collected from Notice of Intent filings.
Public meetings included a Negative 1 determination for tree removal at property owned by Thomas Ferreira on Walnut Plain Road. Ferreira proposes to build a home on the lot.
The commission issued Certificates of Compliance for David and Linda Gomes of 13 Briarwood Lane; and David Fredette for the City of New Bedford, 1 Negus Way, for a new gas service that has been installed for the Quittacas Water Treatment Plant.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for December 2 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
ORR Adds Sailing to Sports Program
Old Rochester Regional School Committee
By Jean Perry
It has taken a couple of years to get the program afloat, but starting in the spring of 2015, Old Rochester Regional High School will offer the sport of sailing, and Athletic Director Bill Tilden expects significant interest from students.
"We've had kids talk to us for quite a few years about sailing," said Tilden on November 12 before the Old Rochester Regional School Committee approved the new program. He said last year, he surveyed student interest in the program and 31 signed up for the then-tentative program. Twenty-nine of which were students currently not enrolled in a sporting program at the school.
The new coed sailing program is being sponsored by the Mattapoisett Community Sailing Association (MattSail) and is fully funded for the first three years of the program. On the fourth year, the organization will fund 75 percent of the program, then 50 percent and 25 percent in the following two years, respectively.
MattSail will provide eight boats - four for each team, with two sailors per boat - and all the safety equipment would be provided.
Tri-Town is known as a sailing community, said Tilden, and its high school ought to reflect that, like in Dartmouth and at Tabor Academy.
"We think it would be a fantastic way to honor the community and become more of a part of it," said Tilden.
MattSail has committed to supporting the school's new sailing endeavor and, as Tilden stated, is now just "looking for the bodies to put in the boats."
"Any way we can get those [ORR] kids to the next level is worth it," said Tilden.
The committee unanimously approved the new program.
"I certainly think it's a great thing for the Tri-Town students," said ORR School Committee Chairman James O' Brien.
Also on November 12, Superintendent of Schools Doug White presented the Certificate of Academic Excellence to Andrea Harris for meeting the criteria for superior academic performance. Harris ranks second in her class, was a National Merit semifinalist, and received the President's Volunteer Service Award, among other things. She is a member of the Math Team and has participated in three seasons of school athletics.
"You make Tri-Town proud," O'Brien told Harris.
The next scheduled meeting of the Old Rochester Regional School Committee is scheduled for December 10 at 6:00 pm in the ORR Junior High School Media Room
Applicant Compromises for ConCom Approval
Marion Conservation Commission
By Jean Perry
The majority of the Marion Conservation Commission, with just a bit of contention amongst its members, took a no tolerance stance on building within a velocity zone on November 12, with Chairman Norman Hills refusing to budge on allowing four large storage containers to be temporarily placed in the V zone of the proposed location at 291 Wareham Street.
The owners of Saltworks Marine, LLC will take what they can get rather than risk denial from the commission to erect a specific, more secure temporary structure to which Hills was adamantly opposed.
The original plan called for the placement of four large storage containers, two of which would fall within the V zone, to serve as the base of a Quonset vinyl boat-shaped structure. Instead, in order to receive approval for any kind of storage structure, Saltworks Marine owner Daniel Crete settled for a Quonset structure anchored by jersey barriers, despite a hearty debate with the commission.
Forget about whether or not other businesses may or may not have similarly erected structures in velocity zones, as suggested by Crete and his engineering representative, David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, Inc. As far as Hills was concerned, the commission was there November 12 to uphold the Wetlands Protection Act and act upon matters under ConCom jurisdiction, not to uphold town bylaws.
Commissioner Jeffrey Doubrava asked why the structure could not be shifted two more feet away from the V zone. Davignon explained that the applicant would be filing plans for further development on the property and a shift in the placement would affect construction logistics.
ConCom member Stephen Gonsalves showed support for the project right from the beginning.
"It's amazing and quite an improvement on that property," said Gonsalves. When the discussion heated up, Gonsalves was the first to question the relevance of the V zone between December 15 and May 15, the five-month time period Crete is seeking for the temporary structure. "Velocity zone, to me, means hurricane season," stated Gonsalves.
"So if we move this outside the velocity zone, you'll be okay with it?" Crete asked the commission, before adding that the move would hinder the construction process.
Davignon asked the commission, "What kind of 'velocity' are we talking about in the winter?"
"Common sense obviously doesn't play a role," snapped Gonsalves during the height of the debate.
Crete said other companies situated alongside his at the waterfront very often have temporary structures raised during the summer months, the active hurricane season.
"Every single weekend, [they] have a huge structure in the velocity zone with a permit from the Building Department," said Crete. "We're obviously not going to have a hurricane in the middle of the winter." Crete said the Quonset structure was built "to withstand everything short of a tornado."
Hills asked Crete to which companies he was referring, and Crete's only named example was Sperry Tents.
Crete said he could use jersey barriers weighing about 6,000 pounds each instead of the storage containers as the base of the structure, but it would cost him more and the site would be less secure without the actual storage containers.
"It's a much greater cost, but we gotta do what we gotta do," Crete resigned.
Hills said he could agree to that, but not the storage containers.
"I'd really like to see this project go forward," said Gonsalves. "I think this would be a win-win for the Town."
The commission granted permission for the temporary jersey barrier-anchored Quonset structure and issued a negative determination.
Also during the meeting, the commission voted in favor of endorsing a conservation restriction for 105 Allens Point Road. The existing house would be demolished and the driveway removed, and the area returned to its natural state with the planting of indigenous plant species. The conservation restriction, if approved by the Board of Selectmen, would prohibit redevelopment of the oceanfront property.
The commission approved an amended Order of Conditions for Marshall and Wilma Bailey of 41 Dexter Road for a proposed pier reconstruction and shed reconstruction. The pier will be shifted away from a neighboring pier to add more space between them.
The commission determined that no wetlands exist at 8 Thomas Lane, the property of Chad and Gina McLeod, who plan to construct a four-bedroom dwelling on the land.
Engineer Nick Dufresne discussed his client Ashley Briggs' Notice of Intent to build a single-family house and garage within the 100-foot buffer zone at 73 Cove Street, and the matter was continued until December 10.
The Request for Determination for LEC Environmental Consultants to confirm the wetlands boundaries at 345 and 390 Wareham Street was continued until December 10 at the request of the applicant.
The next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission is scheduled for December 10 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
School Safety, School Performance
The Joint School Committees
By Jean Perry
It was a sign of the times on November 13 with members of the Old Rochester Regional Joint School Committees contemplating the unthinkable during a demonstration of an advanced school security software system called Mutualink(TM) Edge, a collaborative suite that allows virtually instant interagency and interschool communication in the event of an emergency.
Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons introduced Bob Galvin, a retired police officer now working for the Connecticut-based Mutualink(TM), who gave a presentation on how the program operates to an attentive school committee and a couple town officials in attendance.
The software streamlines the emergency response process by instantly forming multimedia communications via a secure network that can connect a school with police, fire, other schools within the district and other agencies, and connect them to video surveillance cameras within the school, computers, tablets, smart phones, and hand-held radios.
On the computer screen, a user can open an incident box and drag and drop those agencies the user desires to be included in the emergency response. By accessing the existing video surveillance cameras within the school, police can assess the situation and respond.
"It gives the police what I call 'situation awareness,'" said Galvin. Police can take over the intercom system and inform the school staff and students where an intruder might be located within the building so they can react accordingly.
A hardwired panic button is located at the main office, with "soft" panic buttons available to designated staff via an app on their smart phone or tablet.
"In the event of an emergency, time is of the essence," said Galvin.
Galvin said the system's secure network is military-level encrypted, the highest level of security available.
"There's no cure for what we're talking about here," said Galvin, after the phrase "school shooting" was spoken several times throughout the evening. "I really shouldn't have to be here because we shouldn't have to be talking about situations like this."
Other school districts in the region have heard the same presentation and some have opted to adopt the program. Galvin said it makes schools safer.
"I believe in this system," said Galvin.
The cost to install the system is $17,000 per school, which includes training. It is then $1,100 annually per site for maintenance and continued support.
Superintendent Doug White said the three towns would have to vote at Town Meeting to back the school district financially if The Joint eventually decides to pursue the program.
Chief Lyons said all the Tri-Town chiefs are on board with adopting the program and the town administrators are discussing it.
Also during the meeting, principals presented their 2014 MCAS scores from each of the schools - some celebrating and some vowing to improve their scores by taking specific measures to support students and staff in preparation for the 2015 PARCC exam and MCAS in high school.
Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos gave an overview of the schools' scores and shared some insight into some of the reasons why not all schools improved their scores as much as they had hoped.
"We've experienced some drops this year because of the full implementation of the Common Core," stated Frangos.
Sippican School Principal Lyn Rivet had much to sing about, with the school's recognition as a commendation school - the highest level of achievement for schools - for the first time. To achieve commendation school status, MCAS scores must reflect that achievement gaps have closed, which all the participating grades at Sippican accomplished.
A point of pride for Sippican is that English Language Arts (ELA) scores were strong and increased significantly in grades three through five, ranking Sippican number one for its cohort (a smaller grouping of school districts sharing similar demographics).
Center School and Old Hammondtown celebrated commendation school status for its third year, one of only five school districts in the state to receive the honor for three consecutive years. One of Mattapoisett's points of pride is that 96percent of sixth-graders scored in the advanced or proficient category in ELA, and 91percent of them fell within the advanced or proficient category in Mathematics.
Rochester Memorial School ranked number one in its cohort for growth comparison. Eighty-one percent of sixth grade students scored advanced proficient in ELA, and 86percent scored proficient or advanced in Math.
ORR Junior High School Principal Kevin Brogioli explained a significant dip in progress in the Math portion of the MCAS, and laid out plans on how the school will address the issue.
Brogioli said a math text expert and a math coach to support staff with the curriculum have been brought in to support students and staff during this transition into the Common Core learning standard.
"It points to a big area of concern from sixth grade to seventh grade," said Brogioli, adding that the math coach will assist by modeling lessons, observing, guiding, and providing instructional strategies to increase student engagement.
"[We are going to] roll up our sleeves and get after it," said Brogioli, "and that's what we're going to do."
ORR High School Principal Michael Devoll started his presentation by saying said the Common Core "hit us."
"And it hit us pretty good," he said. Devoll continued, "High needs students were not reaching their potential and that was causing a gap for many of our students."
Devoll described a summer school skills class for entering freshman that need catching up on Algebra 1, where a discrepancy in learning appears to have an impact on freshman and sophomore MCAS performance.
Devoll was happy to announce that the school made the Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll, with increased participation and test performance in AP classes.
School Committee members weighed in on their thoughts about MCAs performance, and Co-Chairman James O'Brien told Brogioli that the committee would continue to support him as long as he kept the committee informed throughout the year.
"I can't change what was," stated Brogioli, "but I can go from what is, to what it ought to be."
The next meeting of The Joint School Committee is January 15 at 6:30 pm in the Old Rochester Regional Media Room.
Fall Teams Make History
Tabor Academy News
By Julia O'Rourke
The fall sports season had a very successful conclusion in the past week with a number of teams making it into the playoff rounds.
The Girls' Varsity Soccer team competed in the tournament and put up a strong fight against The Governor's School, concluding their season as a top team in New England.
The Girls' Varsity Cross Country team had the best season in the history of the program. The team completed the regular season with a record of 33-2 and placed second out of 15 teams in the Division 2 New England Championship Meet at The Williston Northampton School.
Four Tabor runners placed in the top 20 and qualified as New England All-Stars, allowing them to compete in a race this past Saturday with the top runners from other divisions.
Head Coach Kelley McSweeny reports that 12 girls ran their career best times in the final race and called it "an incredible finish to an incredible season."
McSweeny attributes much of the team's success to their ability to "pack run," meaning that a number of top runners race at the same pace, which is key for scoring at the top.
Five varsity runners will graduate in the spring, so the team will work to rebuild the program in the coming season; however, a significant number of team members will return in the fall.
The Girls' Cross Country team has grown immensely over the past few years, becoming one of the top teams in the division. The team placed fourth in both 2012 and 2013 and has continued to improve this season with their best record and best New England finish in the history of the Girls' Tabor Cross Country Program.
The Varsity Field Hockey Team also had a remarkable season, making it to the Class A semifinal game. According to Coach Kelly Walker, the last time the team made it this far was in 1997.
"We have been quarterfinalists in the tournament in the fall of 1999 and in the fall of 2009," said Walker.
Additionally, in the quarterfinals, the team beat Greenwich Academy 3-1 for the first time ever. Thus, this was a historically impressive season for the team.
Led by Captain Caroline Shaunessy and Assistant Captains Sammy Davis and Sara Kosicki, the team had a record of 12-3-1. Nine different players scored multiple goals throughout the season.
The top scorers were Woodard Hooper ('16), Sammy Davis ('15), and Caroline Shaunessy ('15). The defensive team has also been strong with seniors Sara Kosicki, Olivia Palombo, Jenna Weyant, and Sarah Noyes contributing to the team's success, while senior Amanda Dionne, the team's goalie, has achieved eight shut outs.
A number of influential and talented seniors will graduate this spring.
"Our seniors have been terrific leaders of this team and understand teamwork," said Walker. "Most importantly, this team is about team. They work incredibly hard and support each other on and off the field."
Congratulations to all of the fall sports teams on successful conclusions to the season.
Winter sports have begun and Wednesdays and Saturdays will be filled with competitions in the weeks to come. The public is welcome to all competitions at the Fish Center. Check www.taboracademy.org for team schedules.
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