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One Girl's Vision is Greater than Blindness

By Jean Perry

When you look into 16 year-old Mia Resendes' big brown eyes, you can see she is happy, vibrant, and full of life. There is a sparkle to them, a depth and determination about them, and she has a smile to match. Just by looking at her, you could not tell that Mia is battling a serious eye disease that has turned her life upside down in as many ways as it has enriched it. Mia has uveitis, and she wants you to know it.

Uveitis is a rare disease affecting the eyes and is also one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States and the world. It is the leading cause of blindness in girls. Uveitis, which causes inflammation of the tissue in the layers of the eye, can be devastating if not treated early. In Mia's case, uveitis is accompanied by an autoimmune disease, possibly Lupus, which is common among the uveitis population. Awareness of its symptoms, says Mia, is the best way to prevent blindness - and she has built an army with a mission to raise awareness and funding for research and treatment to battle blindness.

"It all started when I was reading a book in bed," said Mia. "I noticed a bit of blurriness in my central vision."

Since her diagnosis four years ago, Mia has undergone a myriad of treatments including monthly chemotherapy to stop the spread of the inflammation of her second and third layers of her eyes. It's like she lives a double life as she described it, because one day she is an eleventh-grade student at Old Rochester Regional, hanging out with her friends, playing on the volleyball team, and running track, and the next day she is a patient in a hospital hooked up to chemotherapy - the Mia that no one else sees, which is why so many have a hard time even realizing that Mia is sick.

"It's not like diabetes and you have a pump and people see it," said Mia. "It's a double life. No one sees it but me. One part of me is completely fine and my friends don't see me feeling sick at all." Sometimes, people do not even believe she is sick, which is "really annoying," she said.

"Even though my friends know about it, they don't really know how scary it is for me," said Mia. "It's scary for me."

What is also annoying is that, months ago, Mia started having seizures as a result of her nonspecific autoimmune disease- which brought with it annoying medication, the annoyance of not being able to bathe alone, swim alone, and at first, walk from class to class alone.

But, sorry, uveitis and the variety of other annoying things that go along with it. Mia cannot be stopped and, being the "dramatic" girl that she says she is, Mia and "Mia's Army" are out to immobilize you and educate others to immobilize you as well. Because, uveitis, Mia and her soldiers have already raised about $100,000 over the past few years to raise awareness of you, fight you, and eventually find a cure to wipe you out.

Mia and her family live in Rochester. Back in 2010, she and her mother Andrea Pateastas got together a group of people to fundraise for the Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation (OIUF), located in Weston, in the Walk for Vision. They named the group Mia's Army, and that first year they were the top fundraisers, raising $15,000 for the walk.

Last year, Mia and her mom organized their first annual golf tournament fundraiser and it was a huge success.

"That was a big step for us," said Pateastas. "Now we're doing stuff for our own events." From organizing to booking the golf course, and to garnering sponsors and participants, Mia and Pateastas take their mission seriously.

"We really, really, want to find a cure and a way to help people with uveitis," said Mia.

Their goal right now is to raise enough money to purchase a sophisticated screening machine that can create an image of the entire eye, rather than the current technology that can only take many images of the eye to piece together.

"We want to get that machine," said Pateastas. "It's really expensive. We want to get that machine in Boston." Pateastas said right now there is no machine of this type in the region. "And there are a lot of people that would benefit from that, having that type of equipment in the office."

Mia and Pateastas are hoping members of their community might support their efforts by registering for the Second Annual Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation Golf Tournament. The tournament will be held at the Pinehills Gold Club in Plymouth on Wednesday, September 2. The proceeds will benefit the OUIF in their mission to train doctors who diagnose and treat the disease, and provide patient education and research for a cure.

The mother-daughter team is also looking for local businesses to join in as sponsors for the event.

Uveitis hasn't stopped Mia at all; in fact, it has given her a clear vision of what she must do.

"I don't let it sit there in my mind and just think, 'Oh, I can't do this because I have uveitis,'" Mia said. "I go to track, I do volleyball ... I love my sports. And I love snowboarding ... and traveling. So I'm all about that."

Except the Yellow Fever vaccine. That might keep Mia from traveling to some of the places she'd really like to visit, such as the continent of Africa.

But Mia has done a great deal of traveling in the form of volunteer trips, even volunteering to work with children in India, despite her sudden onset of seizures.

"I feel like, even though nothing really matters when doing those things," said Mia. "There's nothing that can stop me from going."

Mia said she doesn't want to be "that girl" who can't "push through the pain." Her joints often ache as a result of her autoimmune problems. She says she just "pops a Tylenol" instead of being "that girl who's super-dramatic."

"I'm not gonna let it hold me down. I'd rather be the girl who keeps running," said Mia. "I'm going to end up being better..."

"The hardest part for me," said Pateastas, "is seeing how, even though you want everything to be normal, and it seems normal sometimes, it is always looming in the back of her head." Pateastas said she sees how pervasive Mia's condition is for her daughter, and she just wishes she could fix it, make it go away. "It just doesn't go away," said Pateastas. "That's the hardest thing for me."

Mia has met other people and other young girls who, unfortunately, did not seek treatment in time and have lost their sight from uveitis. Mia and her mother want everyone to know that you should always see an eye specialist if you ever experience any blurriness of vision, no matter how insignificant it might seem.

"And get a second opinion," said Pateastas, adding that uveitis is most often misdiagnosed as pinkeye, for example. That can waste valuable time in saving the patient's eyesight.

Mia, her mother, and her father and two brothers are very active in the uveitis community, advocating for further research and speaking at events geared towards raising money for the cause and creating awareness of the disease.

If you would like to learn more about uveitis or the September 2 golf tournament to help Mia fight uveitis, visit www.uveitis.org

If you or your business would like to make a donation or sponsor the event, contact Andrea Pateastas at 508-728-0981 or email andreap@primomedicalgroup.com.

"Any donation is helpful," said Pateastas. "[Uveitis] kind of overtakes you. I feel for people dealing with it. And we're lucky. We are so lucky that we are able to deal with it. There are so many who cannot."

Tick Talk: Understand Your Risk

By Jean Perry

Everything you thought you knew about ticks and tick-borne diseases is probably wrong. And plenty of information out there and on the web is downright misleading. For example, did you know that spraying DEET products on your clothes is useless in repelling ticks, and when you spray DEET-containing bug repellant on your skin, a hungry tick will simply keep crawling until it finds a spot without DEET?

How about your knowledge on the blacklegged tick, AKA "deer tick?" Did you know that deer have absolutely nothing to do with the spread of Lyme disease, and do you know all about which ticks carry diseases, which diseases are present in Tri-Town, where these ticks hide out, and how you can prevent them from infecting you?

One bite can change your life and unless you understand the risks, which are higher than many think they are, you and your family will remain vulnerable to not only Lyme disease, but several other devastating diseases that are on the rise in our region.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month, a fitting time for it since infectious deer ticks, American dog ticks, and a new player in the game for our area - the lone star tick - emerge and are active in May, which is also the month when Lyme disease and a host of other tick-borne disease cases spike in number.

Ticks have no friends, says entomologist Larry Dapsis, the Deer Tick project coordinator with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. Even the Dalai Lama, enlightened soul and lover of every form of life on the planet, is no friend of the tick. "I love everything in the world," says the Dalai Lama. "Except for ticks."

"That just about says it all," said Dapsis on April 30 during a talk on ticks at Sippican School. About 75 people showed up for the event, and they later left the school aghast by how at-risk they unknowingly had been for so long.

Dapsis started off his presentation with a little humor, and kept it up consistently throughout the talk - eliciting almost as many laughs as he did gasps of disbelief. A number of "oh, my God" responses also sprinkled the event as people realized how prevalent Lyme disease is and how serious it is for those infected.

Some statistics to start with: 49 of the 50 states have confirmed cases of Lyme disease, and the disease is present in 80 countries which shows, said Dapsis, that Lyme disease - so called because the first confirmed cases came from Lyme, Connecticut - is a re-emerging disease, now accompanied by several other serious and potentially fatal tick-borne diseases.

Ground Zero for tick-borne diseases, said Dapsis, is Massachusetts - your backyard. Plymouth County Lyme disease infections have risen by a two-to-one ratio.

"So, you have a serious problem here," said Dapsis. The Center for Disease Control from 2001 to 2012 estimated 30,000 new cases every year in the United States. "And there were people who looked at that number and said, 'That's just not the right number.'" Dapsis said that number has been revisited and multiplied by ten. There are about 300,000 new Lyme disease cases every year in the country, a public health crisis, said Dapsis.

"The test itself ... basically the test sucks," said Dapsis. It is known to produce false negatives, false positives, and some doctors will not prescribe treatment without a positive Lyme disease result.

Deer ticks, the ones that carry the pathogen Borrelia burgdorferi transmitted through a tick bite, can also transmit Babesiosis, a possibly fatal form of malaria that is on the rise at a steady rate alongside Lyme disease. Babesiosis cases have been confirmed in Marion and Rochester. The pathogen invades the red blood cells and causes a cycle of fever, chills, and severe anemia.

Anaplasmosis attacks the white blood cells and presents symptoms similar to Lyme disease: fatigue, chills, headaches, muscle and joint aches, and swollen lymph nodes, and confusion.

With Lyme, one does NOT necessarily always present with the typical "bull's-eye" rash that extends from the bite.

Dapsis recommends the safe removal of the tick with pointed tweezers (NEVER, ever squish the tick or pull it off with your fingers - this will increase your risk of infection) and saving the tick for testing. Testing, he said, is 100 percent accurate.

What's more, you can be co-infected by more than one of these diseases at the same time.

A tick new to the area, the lone star tick, has been found at all five of the testing sites on Cape Cod, Cutty Hunk, and Naushon Islands. "There were larvae everywhere," said Dapsis. There is a newly-established population of this tick in Massachusetts, spread by migrating birds, most likely said Dapsis, and likely spreading to mainland Massachusetts via birds, too. These ticks carry Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Tularemia, which can even trigger a sudden allergy to red meat.

Getting back to the most prevalent of unsavory characters in our area, the dreaded deer tick - here is how it works. There are four stages in a deer tick's two-year life cycle, in which a deer tick feeds only three times in its life cycle.

In the spring and summer of year one, eggs hatch into larvae, which feed and then molt into nymphs, about the same size as a poppy seed. Nymphs lie dormant throughout fall and winter and then emerge the second year in May to feed through August.

One in every four nymphs carries Lyme disease.

The nymphs hang out in the leaf litter and in low-lying vegetation, feeding mostly on rodents and birds they latch onto. They also latch onto people as they brush by bushes. The nymph stage is the most dangerous for humans since the ticks are so small and the bite unnoticeable.

In the fall, the nymphs molt into adults and feed on larger mammals, including deer.

Deer, however, according to Dapsis, are incompetent hosts for the Lyme disease-causing bacteria Lyme borreliosis and, unlike birds and rodents, do not infect ticks with the pathogen. In fact, said Dapsis, the tick will lose its infection of the bacteria upon feeding on a deer.

"There's something in the deer blood that clears the bacteria," said Dapsis. Those in attendance were visually shocked by the information. When it comes to Lyme disease perpetrators, said Dapsis, "You're looking at the wrong things," if you look at deer. On the same token, 50 percent of songbirds are infected with Lyme, including the robin.

Adult stage deer ticks are active from September through the winter into May, and are roughly the size of a sesame seed.

One in every two adult deer ticks carries Lyme disease.

Ticks feed for four to five days, in a cycle of spitting and sucking blood. It begins by spitting to glue itself in place.

"Ticks are designed to stay for a while," said Dapsis. "And it's got no social graces at all."

The spit, which secretes anticoagulants and enzymes to dull the pain-sensing nerves, is where the bacteria lie.

Prevention of Lyme disease starts with protection from ticks. Soccer moms and dads should be aware, said Dapsis, that Lyme infection cases increase at ages five through nine. For retirees who love golfing and gardening, infection spikes again at ages 65 to 69.

"Phase One" starts with a tick check every time you are exposed to wooded areas, or shady, damp, brushy locations including yards and gardens. Your first line of defense, said Dapsis, is to wear light-colored clothing covering your bare skin, while tucking your pants into your socks.

Do not rely on DEET-containing sprays to protect you and your family from ticks. They can still crawl all over you and find a nice juicy spot that is DEET-free.

In addition to DEET, said Dapsis, you can purchase permethrin to spray on your shoes and clothing, and the repellant will last for up to six washings. The chemical, which is safe for human use, actually kills ticks after 60 seconds of exposure. It is the only product available for tick deterring for humans. Treating your footwear, said Dapsis, is "mission critical."

After a tick check, tumble-dry your clothing for 20 minutes.

"Doing Phase One gets you 90 percent of the way down the road" towards Lyme disease prevention, said Dapsis.

Phase Two is protecting your yard. Contrary to common belief, moving bird feeders, pruning for extra sunlight, and moving woodpiles do not lessen the tick population in your yard.

You must spray the perimeter of your property, "the transition zone," Dapsis called it. Leaf litter must be saturated, and shady, humid areas are likely places for ticks.

Phase Three: Protect your pets. Tick-repelling collars are a good way to do just that, said Dapsis, along with frequent tick checks.

Despite a growing human health crisis, Dapsis said, it is discouraging that there is such little public outreach about ticks while the state focuses on mosquito-borne illnesses, which are far rarer than Lyme.

"The state has no action plan," said Dapsis. "I think they're kind of clueless."

For further information, visit www.capecodextension.org.

And remember, the Dalai Lama himself hates ticks. And so should you.

"Don't let one bite change your life," said Dapsis.

Marion Candidates Night Draws Crowd

By Jean Perry

Candidates of contested races in Marion faced a packed Marion Music Hall on April 29 during The League of Women Voters Candidates' Night, with every seat filled and standing room only at the back. Voters had plenty of questions for candidates of the Board of Selectmen, School Committee, and Planning Board, but most questions were aimed at the two incumbents for Planning Board - Steve Gonsalves, a member of nine years, and current Planning Board Chairman Stephen Kokkins. Newcomer Jennifer Francis was unable to attend due to a prior work-related commitment that took her to Japan.

During his opening remarks, Gonsalves said over the years he has helped "shape and develop Marion's future without losing its charm." His concern, though, is the lack of "sensible growth" in businesses.

"I am afraid affordable Marion is slipping though our fingers," said Gonsalves. "It's time to welcome sensible growth here in Marion and stop fighting it."

Kokkins has been busy trying to overhaul the town's zoning and land use, he said.

"We need to review our present bylaws regarding land use," especially along Route 6, he said, by fostering "smart growth ... with an attractive balance and appropriately-sized businesses." He continued, "I want to continue to encourage compatible businesses to flourish here."

Finance Committee Chairman Alan Minard, who referred to the Planning Board in his earlier presentation about the state of the Town's finances, mentioned the need for the board to find ways to encourage smart growth and increase tax revenue "without getting into CVS-like configurations."

Minard asked the two candidates what the board could do to make smart growth and tax revenue through business a reality.

"Some bylaws are too restrictive," said Gonsalves. "And it's really hurting new business in this town." He referred to a current Planning Board matter involving the site plan review and special permit application for Saltworks Marine, owned by Dan Crete, as an example of the hurdles resulting from tough bylaws and the frustration he feels "when we can't get to the place we need to be."

Kokkins said smart streamlining of the application and regulatory process is needed, also referring to Crete's "tricky site" and its "difficult issues." Kokkins also advocated for new mixed-use zoning, such as business mixed with residential housing.

There was some discussion about the proposed CVS construction plan for the corner of Route 6 and Front Street, and both candidates shared the sentiment that a CVS would be welcomed, just not beyond a footprint of 8,000 square feet.

But with the current bylaws and the proposed bylaw amendment of Article 43 on the Town Meeting Warrant - a citizen's petition that would restrict all businesses to a 5,000 square-foot or 10 percent lot coverage maximum - both candidates called for further discussion, given that the Planning Board will not recommend its adoption at Town Meeting.

"There are things that are missed," said Gonsalves. "We really need to think hard because we are affecting everybody in this town." You don't want to see explosive growth, said Gonsalves, "But you can't have knee-jerk panic reactions when something like CVS comes to town."

Kokkins and Gonsalves were asked to comment on the ongoing discord amongst Planning Board members, especially over meeting minutes and the general frustration of apparent clashes of personalities.

"It shouldn't be this difficult," said Gonsalves. "I admit it."

Kokkins replied, "I strongly believe our overriding philosophy is for everyone to ... treat everyone with respect."

There is no question, said Kokkins, that it has been a tough year for the Planning Board.

And in closing, Gonsalves reminded everyone, "Remember, two Steves are better than one."

For the Board of Selectmen, only Jody Dickerson was present for the Candidates' Night, with opponent Dale Jones unable to attend last minute, although he was expected that evening. Rules do not permit questioning when only one candidate is present, but Dickerson had a chance to tell the voters why he should be reelected.

"[Marion has been] faced with many changes," said Dickerson. "Some forced upon us..." Dickerson said he has the energy to put forth the effort to move Marion forward, "And this lens can only be developed through years of dedication ... and passion for the Town of Marion."

School Committee candidates include two newcomers, Jessica Harris and David MacDonald, as well as Michelle Ouellette, who served one term on the School Committee before losing by a handful of votes last year.

Harris, a high school science teacher, said education "is a vital part of my life."

Harris highlighted her role in starting the Marion Natural History Museum's summer program at the beach. She has two children, one at Sippican School and one who graduated from Sippican.

"I'd really like to continue to work towards fostering really excellent programs at Sippican," Harris said.

MacDonald, who currently serves on the Sippican School Council, said his role on the council has given him "insight into the educational process."

"Strong schools build strong communities," said Harris. "I will approach this role with continuous improvement in mind."

Ouellette, a special education teacher of 14 years with a child in the third grade at Sippican and 13 years of service for the town, including time spent on the School Council and other town boards, said she is committed to continuing to serve the town. Her experience teaching, she said, enhanced her service on the School Committee when it came to contract negotiations with teachers, which "helped the town in a large way financially."

The Marion Annual Election is Friday, May 15. The polling station is the Marion VFW located at 465 Mill Street, Route 6. Polls are open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.

Merlo Says Goodbye

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

Ron Merlo, who has been a member of the Mattapoisett Planning Board for two terms totaling 10 years, wrapped up his second five-year stint at the May 4 meeting. But he had one final to-do to pass along to the other members - ceasing the continuing efforts of The Village at Mattapoisett condominium association to get town-supplied trash collection.

The condominium association has been seeking this town-supplied service in spite of it being expressly not allowed in their subdivision permit or ownership covenant.

Merlo was part of the Planning Board at the time of the subdivision application. He said, "I am whole-heartedly against overturning a decision make by a prior board." Merlo said, by doing so, the wrong signal would be sent and a precedent put in place that could have far-reaching ramifications.

Selectman Jordan Collyer tasked Merlo to follow-up with town counsel for guidance to ascertain what rights the condominium association may have, as well as the best steps for the Town. Merlo said that counsel advised a special permit could be granted to the association after the Planning Board holds a public hearing. The board members did not take any action on this matter on this night.

In closing out his years of service, Merlo shared, "It has been a pleasure to serve ... I hope I did it honorably."

In other business, a request by resident Paul Osenkowski to have the board issue a cease and desist order to the developers of Brandt Point Village was discussed.

Chairman Tom Tucker said, after discussing the matter with town counsel, the developer would be invited to meet with town counsel.

The meeting will focus on what the Planning Board has permitted thus far for the subdivision, and what work has actually taken place that may be causing conflict with residents in the neighborhood.

The original investors are no longer part of the project, Tucker said.

The Appaloosa Lane subdivision engineer, Brian Grady of G.A.F. Engineering, came before the board to ask what the next steps are now that the new stormwater management plan has received conditioning by the Conservation Commission after months of work with the Town's engineering firm, Field Engineering.

Tucker asked Highway Superintendent Barry Denham if he was satisfied with the project to which he replied, "It is the best situation for everybody out there." Grady will return during the next meeting of the board to have updated plans signed.

Also meeting with the board was Tree Warden Roland Cote to discuss the removal of several trees located at 84 North Street. Cote was granted permission to remove one of three in question.

Eversource will be required to be present to plead their case as to why the other two trees in question need to be removed, Tucker told him.

Continuing on the theme of tree removal, Denham sought permission to remove diseased and compromised trees in the Tinkham Dam area.

He said that the upcoming dam repairs will require that the diseased tree(s) be removed while several other trees will need to be removed because of the damage they will sustain during reconstruction of the roadway.

Denham said he had met with the Tree Committee, which will be planting new trees after the work is completed and are in agreement with Denham's plan.

The removal and replanting project will become part of an application by the Tree Committee for the town's Tree City USA status with the state. The Planning Board approved the plan.

Board member Mary Crain distributed a draft handout she wrote intended to help voters understand the bylaw changes on the warrant.

After some discussion, they agreed that language needed to be added to each of the bylaws being proposed that clearly indicated the Planning Board's support versus sponsorship.

Resident Bonne DeSousa asked for clarification on the difference between support and sponsorship. She was told that support meant the board agreed with the changes. Tucker made it clear however, that Brad Saunders, managing partner of D + E Management LLC who authored the changes and additions to zoning bylaws, will be presenting them on the floor of Town Meeting.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for May 18 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.

Saltworks Completes Long Road to Approval

Marion Planning Board

By Andrew Roiter

The Marion Planning Board on May 4 took the final step to approve the Saltworks Marine project on Wareham Street.

With one abstention, they otherwise voted unanimously to approve a draft of the plan set forth by Engineer Douglas Schneider and Dan Crete of Saltworks.

This brings to a close the public hearing site plan review, which had been continued through several meetings. Discussions with the board began late last year.

Additionally, the board unanimously voted to approve a draft of a special permit request, which was needed due to the size of the buildings exceeding 5,000 square feet. From here, the board will submit the drafts to town counsel for review. Should town counsel find both drafts agreeable, work can begin at the land located at 291 Wareham Street in Marion, also known as Map 11, Lot 79A.

Planning Board Vice Chairman Normal Hills, acting chairman in Stephen Kokkins' absence, sounded confident in town counsel's eventual approval.

"I don't anticipate a problem, (but I don't know.) I left my Ouija board at home," Hills said.

Prior to the approval, the floor was opened to questions from the board and the public, of which there were none.

Board member Rico Ferrari raised questions regarding future engineer needs, to which Schneider responded that they would not need assistance from a consulting engineer for the Town.

Additionally, the board voted for a recommendation on the upcoming Annual Town Meeting. The recommendation was regarding the citizen's petition bylaw "Zoning Limitation on the Size of the Footprint of Commercial and Retail Buildings and Structures," submitted by former Planning Board member Ted North.

The petition is aimed at discouraging "big box" businesses from setting up shop in Marion. The petition would cap commercial and retail buildings to 10 percent lot coverage and a maximum of 5,000 square feet.

The board voted unanimously to not recommend adoption of the article.

During the January 5 Planning Board meeting, Hills expressed concerns about the petition, saying that the petition was "unclear."

The fate of the petition will be decided at the May 11 town meeting.

General housekeeping at the meeting included updates on the requests for proposal (RFPs) for engineering services for the Town. Hills said they have four responses so far and that he would allow the board time to look over them.

Other updates were for the Town's master plan. The two contracts for services from the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, SRPEDD, received approval at an earlier Planning Board meeting.

The next meeting of the Planning Board is scheduled for May 18 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Coastal Zone Management Plan To Be Written

Mattapoisett Marine Advisory Board

By Marilou Newell

Town Administrator Michael Gagne met with the members of the Mattapoisett Marine Advisory Board on April 30 to ask for its assistance in spearheading two large projects.

The first is a coastal zone management plan.

"I'd like you to be the lead group to get this pulled together," Gagne told advisory board members. He went on to tell them with whom the group will need to work over the course of the next year in order to write a plan the state will accept.

Gagne said that at the upcoming town meeting, the warrant has an article to hire a professional grant writer to secure monies needed in this effort, as well as a consultant to help craft a harbor plan that can stand up to state and legal scrutiny.

Other agencies and boards, Gagne said, with which the MAB will need to liaise are the Planning Board and SRPEDD. He told them that SRPEDD personnel have the expertise to help guide them through the process of writing a coastal zone management plan.

Gagne pointed to recent pressures placed on the scenic harbor, a harbor that would be best served by having a local enforceable harbor plan. He handed out the plan that New Bedford and Fairhaven had put in place several years ago as a guide towards beginning to outline such a plan for Mattapoisett.

"A harbor plan would allow the Town to develop their own language for Chapter 91 projects," said Gagne, such as private docks and piers.

He also asked the board to come out in support of various waterfront-related warrant articles that will help the town make necessary repairs to the historic wharves.

And Gagne didn't stop there.

He also asked the board to begin a review of waterside rules and regulations that, in his view, were out of date and in need to improvement.

On this project, he said the board would be working with Town Counsel John Goldrosen of Koppelman and Paige. Gagne passed out copies of the current rules and regulations that Goldrosen had edited. There was a good-natured collective groan when the members saw the amount of "red ink" they were faced with improving. Gagne provided them with a copy of legal guidelines for preparing a new document. He thanked them on behalf of the selectmen for taking on these two challenging but important projects.

Chairman Alan Gillis said they would most likely break up into subcommittee groups to tackle these projects.

Also present was Harbormaster Jill Simmons who shared that Adam Perkins, a local teen and Boy Scout, had completed his Eagle Scout project. Simmons said the kayak rakes for the Town Wharf area that he had built would be installed in the coming week.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Marine Advisory Board is scheduled for May 28 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.

'Right to Farm' Bylaw Ready for Town Meeting

Mattapoisett Agricultural Commission

By Marilou Newell

The Mattapoisett Agricultural Commission is populated by members whose families reach far back into the history of local farming, as well as newer business owners whose livelihoods depend on healthy farm animals and good growing seasons. They are an active group of volunteers whose interests in farming go beyond hobby, and whose commitment to keeping agricultural activities vital cannot be overstated.

Now they are stepping forward into the public arena - Town Meeting - with Article 35: Adoption of Right to Farm Bylaw.

Agricultural Commission Chairman Bob Spooner and members Jess Collyer, Dorothy Nunes, Mike Dubuc, Mike King, Shiloah Major, and Gerald Randall believe that with the passage of a Right to Farm bylaw, the town will be better prepared to compete with other cities and towns throughout the state vying for grant monies that can be essential in keeping farmlands and open spaces available for agricultural activities now and in the coming decades.

Having well-written clear rules and regulations at the local level, the commission asserts, is one key to being viewed as a community committed to supporting local farmers.

During the April 29 meeting, they were working on a handout for the Annual Town Meeting on May 11. The handout is aimed at educating the public about the importance of bylaws to protect this traditional way of life. Topics such as why a Right to Farm bylaw is needed, why state laws aren't sufficient, and why the bylaw benefits the town's economy are discussed in the handout.

"The right to farm bylaw doesn't change anything that's already on the books (state regulations)," said Spooner, "but with local bylaws and farmers' markets, it helps us locally when applying for state grants ... it tells everyone 'we are here.'"

Mattapoisett currently has zoning bylaws governing some aspects of farming. Building Inspector Andy Bobola said, "You are required to have two acres to be exempt from zoning bylaws (and therefore able to use property for farming activities)." He continued, "Such activities as agriculture, horticulture, and floral cultivation are some of the activities that are allowed." He said the number of horses or other livestock per acre is regulated, as are the boundary line setbacks required for barns and stalls.

Bobola shared that, several years ago, the state changed the acreage required for farming from five acres to two in an effort to encourage people to think about farming options rather than subdivision development.

Bobola pointed out that there are occasions when neighbors may be in conflict. Occasions, he said, might be due to farming activities that one neighbor finds "obnoxious," while the farmer believes they are normal sounds, smells, and property conditions. He said that in those instances, the Agriculture Commission could be useful in providing mediation.

There is also something called "Chapter Lands." Chief Assessor Kathleen Costello explained, "Chapter Lands is a state program, 61A. You need five acres and to be actively involved in agriculture. The land then receives a reduced value for taxes, locks the property up for five years and puts a lien on it." There are consequences to the landowner if land is sold off or subdivided before the end of the five-year period. She said there are chapter lands in Mattapoisett.

"In my opinion, it's a great program," Costello said. "It maintains the rural nature of the town, helps farmlands, and preserves the beauty of the uplands." She pointed out that, unlike farms, a subdivision ends up actually costing the town money with less economic value due to increased populations requiring town services. Of chapter land status she concluded, "It's a fabulous program that benefits the town."

Spooner said the commission is hoping voters in town will come out and support the Right to Farm bylaw, becoming more aware that farming is alive and well in Mattapoisett and an important part of what the town has to offer its residents.

If you want more information about agricultural opportunities in Mattapoisett or the work of the commission, meetings are held on the first Wednesday each month at 6:00 pm in Town Hall. The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Agricultural Commission is scheduled for May 6 at 6:00 pm.

AP Tests, Classes Are a Game-Changer at ORR

ORR Update

By Patrick Briand

With the end of the school year rapidly approaching - seniors' final school day is May 20 - a few different moods are common among the students of Old Rochester Regional High School.

While many students are anxiously awaiting the end of the school year, ready to enjoy a hopefully warm summer vacation, some students are focused on a series of tests set to occur during the first two weeks of May.

These are the Advanced Placement (AP) tests, which are meant specifically for upperclassmen who participated in corresponding AP classes during the school year. Popular tests include United States History, English Language, English Literature, Chemistry, Biology, Spanish, Calculus, and French.

Two juniors participating in the testing, as well as U.S. History teacher Erich Carroll, gave some insight on AP tests and their accompanying curriculum.

Junior Evan Roznoy is approaching a full slate. In addition to a National Honors Society induction and a few track meets, Roznoy has four AP tests between Monday, May 4, and Wednesday, May 13: Chemistry, U.S. History, Statistics, and English Language.

"Most of my tests are spaced out enough so I can study for each one," Roznoy said.

Roznoy called the rigor of the AP classes a "blessing and a curse." He says that friends who are now in college have told him the intense workload of junior year AP classes has prepared them well for the coursework of college, although he agreed that the courses can be stressful to deal with.

Although he would like to devote senior year more toward focusing on other things outside of schoolwork and exploring different classes as he put it, Roznoy is still taking three AP classes next year: Calculus, Biology, and English Literature.

Jacob Castelo, also a junior, took two AP courses this year to get a feel for the program. Castelo is set to take the U.S. History Exam on Friday, May 8, and the English Language/Composition exam on Wednesday, May 13. He said has been preparing for the intense history exam by reading a chapter a day, as well as taking notes.

Castelo plans to take up to three AP courses as a senior, including French and European History, although he has yet to decide if he will take Calculus as well.

He offered high praise for the way the classes are taught, and the way they differ from the standard courses offered at ORR.

"It's a different way of thinking," Castelo explained. "Regardless of how you do in the class, you view the subject, whether it's history or English, in a whole new light."

Mr. Carroll, who teaches U.S. History and Economics at ORR, has been preparing his students for the U.S. History exam. He spoke on the value of the AP curriculum, and the effects of the new changes on the AP U.S. History test.

"There's a lot of expectation on the student to be an independent learner, after being exposed to a whole new curriculum and a high work load. Which I think is a very good thing," said Carroll.

Carroll acknowledged the positive effects that AP classes can have on a student in the long run.

"They prepare you well for college," said Carroll. "Plus, you get the attention of a teacher in a high school model, with the work of a college course. It makes for a nice transition of high school to AP to college."

As for the changes, Mr. Carroll welcomes them with open arms. "I think they're positive. They're testing conceptual understanding and thinking skills, rather than information memorization. For me to transition (to teaching to the new test), it's a positive adjustment."

Though the AP Tests are very important and affect a wide breadth of the ORR population, they are precursors to the finals that the entire student population will take during the final weeks of the school year. Seniors are scheduled to take their standard finals from May 21 through 27, while the rest of the student population will take finals from June 16 to June 22. However, those taking the AP tests will be making a big step in improving their academic futures, and they will be capping off a year highlighted by intelligent classroom discussion, new learning techniques, and lots of hard work and determination.

International Week

Tabor Academy News

By Julia O'Rourke

Last week was an exciting one on the Tabor Academy campus as students learned about the cultures and traditions of their classmates.

The event - International Week - was a huge success this year as it taught Tabor students about the food, sports, and cultures of other countries.

Seniors Yuchen Gao and Poswat Ratanasiriwilai were this year's International Week co-heads. According to Ratanasiriwilai, the planning takes a lot of time.

"We need to coordinate with a lot of people, find musicians, et cetera," explained Ratanasiriwilai.

Some International Week events occur each year, but a few new ones were brought to the table this time.

During this year's Graboys Leadership Symposium, students came up with the idea of a "Conflict Cafe," where students gather to eat and discuss current event issues regarding hostility between countries.

During International Week, the first Conflict Cafe was held and students enjoyed a meal of authentic Iranian food, after which they met to discuss differing viewpoints on Iran and U.S. relations and the tensions that exist throughout the world with the threat of nuclear weaponry. This new platform for discussion will continue next year with students taking the lead.

Students were introduced to some of the sports that our international students excel in at home. For example, the week began with a Thai water festival, also called "Songkran." Students sprayed each other with water guns in a fun battle outside. International students offered flag face painting and members of the Tabor community were decorated with various flags throughout the day.

Additionally, students took part in an introduction to Cricket to learn about the game and to play a match. Towards the end of the week, a large-scale Badminton tournament was held where students battled it out to win gift cards and more.

Food, as it always is, was a popular aspect of the week as well. The Tabor community was exposed to a wide variety of food from around the world, starting with an international cafe presented by the language department, followed by Korean popsicles, which were handed out during the school's mid-morning meeting period day at the start of the week. Another popular treat was the Thai iced tea that students could enjoy at the International Center during the school day.

In addition to the Conflict Cafe, themed dinners were held such as Islands Night, which featured Caribbean food and Friday's Korean barbeque to start the weekend.

Music was included in a variety of ways. In between classes, "music bells" played international songs. At the start of chapel, students performed. Three Korean students - Leo Moon, Rachel Kim, and Amy Park - played a traditional Ukranian song on the violin.

The co-heads ran All-School Meeting at the end of the week where they displayed talents from international students. Junior Stephanie Chen performed a traditional Lotus dance from China. Sophia Zhang played a piano piece, and two students from Thailand demonstrated a form of martial arts that is popular in their country.

"My favorite part is that the community is enthusiastic about it," says Ratanasiriwilai. "I love seeing people lining up for Thai iced tea, Korean popsicles, and flag face painting."

Students and faculty enjoyed the wide range of activities and traditions that were organized for the week to display Tabor's unique multicultural community with the goal of "[sharing] the culture around the world to the community and [being] aware about what is going on around the world," said Ratanasiriwilai.

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