The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
Tri-Town Memorial Day Events
By Jean Perry
The observance of Memorial Day in Tri-Town is a tradition, and each of the three towns has different events planned over the entire holiday weekend.
Rochester will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony on Sunday, May 24 at noon in front of the Rochester Town Hall. At 12:00 pm, guests will be welcomed and join in prayer with Reverend Robert Ripley before the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem.
Guests and participants in the parade will march to Daggett Square for the placement of flowers and flags at the monuments and memorials, and the selectmen will read the names of the departed veterans of past wars.
The Rochester Memorial School will accompany the parade, performing "America, My Country Tis' of Thee."
The Army JROTC Battalion from New Bedford High School will perform the rifle salutes and "Taps," and Representative William Straus will give a Memorial Day message before the reading of the Gettysburg Address.
In Mattapoisett, the Memorial Day Ceremony is scheduled for Monday, May 25 at 1:30 pm, starting in front of the Mattapoisett Library.
The Old Hammondtown School Band will perform the National Anthem, "America the Beautiful," "The Star-spangled Banner," and "Grand Old Flag."
The guest speaker this year is Sgt. Edward Sweeney, Jr. of the U.S. Army, and Representative Straus will address those in attendance.
After the ceremony, members of the Legion will place wreaths on the War Memorials. The parade will proceed to Water Street, then to the Town Wharf where the JROTC will honor vets lost at sea. The parade will continue to Cushing Cemetery to honor the vets who lost their lives on land, and then end at the Legion Hall on Depot Street where there will be refreshments for the marchers.
In Marion, the VFW on Saturday, May 23, will plant flowers at the graves of veterans at Evergreen cemetery beginning at 10:00 am.
The Town will hold its annual Memorial Day parade on Monday, May 25, beginning at the Marion Music Hall on Front Street at 9:00 am. The parade will proceed past the Marion Town House, over to Old Landing, and then to Veterans Memorial Park for the placement of wreaths.
This Mattapoisett Life
By Marilou Newell
This morning, just now, the chorus of bird song rose above the sound of vehicles passing by the house, that steady stream of business on the way to conduct itself, its self-imposed importance and urgency pushing forward, stock-holder values must be preserved, and nothing else matters, except the birds' song and its soothing quality - a balm, a tonic against pain, a moment of respite, a form of prayer.
Today will have a trajectory and I, mere mortal that I am, will presume I have some control. I will allow myself to believe that and smile at the oncoming faces. I will fake it till I make it and hear the birds throughout it all.
It's important to pace oneself when staring down a long, dark rabbit hole wondering if it has a bottom, and once there will the way back up be lighted or impossible to find. At times like these, faith would help, but in my case I'll draw on the collective wisdom from all who have passed before me. They will remind me - this, too, shall pass.
The Hindu belief system allows that staying perfectly still and just being present is sufficient to one's survival and if the worst outcome should inevitably befall one, well, one's oneness with the universe remains the goal. A little of that will go a long way with me today, but I'll still worry, fret and probably lose a pound or two from being unable to swallow.
From my own experiences, I know without a shadow of a doubt that most problems will resolve and most outcomes will be acceptable and upon looking back, I'll be reminded that anticipating the future was much more difficult than simply letting it happen. So, in this, the ability to "just be" could have helped. But not right now.
Right now, I struggle with the problems. I want to get my hands in there and fix everything, make it better, heal the sick and pay the debt. I want to be the righter of wrongs with the power of a goddess coupled with a bit of Wonder Woman. I want too much and will have to take what is given even should it be a bitter pill. I'll be a grown up as mandated. I won't show fear.
As a decisive person by nature, situations that have not drawn to a conclusion are quite unsettling. I want tomorrow today so I can know what the ending of the story is. I want to write the ending really and have it come out my way. I want control. The universe laughs. Who has control really? Isn't it all random chaos? Oh, ego, how you fool the foolish.
By tonight, these thoughts will be no more, replaced by the day's events as the future becomes the past and whatever will happen has happened and I get to process the results. Tonight, I'll be that reporter in the back of the room silently observing and recording to the best of my ability other people's realities and/or that grandmother in the concert hall proudly beaming at the younger generation, one I cannot protect against the future nor take the cup away.
Anxiety is an old coat well worn and full of holes, a patchwork of inherited visceral responses that is too big and too heavy to carry without help. So I'll walk off as much nervous energy as possible and smile though my heart could be broken, but it isn't right now so I'll just carry on. What else can one do?
I've heard too many times some version of "we only get what we can carry." That is crap for someone of as little faith as I own - yet I want to believe that so I shall stand straight, I will be brave, everything will be alright.
He said, "Give me courage." Those were the most heart-rendering words Dad ever spoke and these spoken as he lay in a hospital bed, eyes closed, brain damaged, unable to discern day from night or reality from dream. That was his response to, "Dad, can I get you something?"
Please send me some courage.
P.S. Dad, if you are in heaven, can you get me something? Please ask God to help us.
Making A Difference - One Step At A Time
By Marilou Newell
When my granddaughter told me that the cancer rate statistic for developing some form of the disease was 'one in three' I could hardly believe it. But she was well informed having just been named as chairperson of her university's annual Relay For Life event.
The American Cancer Society website says that in the United States, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is higher in men (1 in 2) than for women (1 in 3). The website also says, in 2015, about 590,000 Americans are expected to die of cancer, the second most common cause of death in the country.
But there is hope. Cancer treatments are improving, and humanity has never been more committed on every level to produce good results for those who walk this difficult path.
Speaking of walks, the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life events are the world's largest fundraising activity. The money is used to support those entrenched in the daily management of the disease, as well as to provide funding for ongoing research. And the residents of Mattapoisett, Marion and Rochester can be counted on every year to do their part, too.
Margaret DeMello of Mattapoisett, a member of the Massachusetts chapter of the society, recently described a new awareness campaign taking place in the Tri-Town area.
"Starting May 23, 'Paint the Town Purple' - a ribbon and exterior decoration activity - is planned to raise awareness in support of the American Cancer Society's goal to find a cure," said DeMello. She continued, "The project runs from May 23 through June 14."
DeMello, who last year walked as part of a team during the relay in spite of recovering from knee surgery, also said, "The idea is to encourage homeowners and local businesses to decorate their property with purple-colored bows or lights to paint the town purple."
The Mattapoisett Town Hall has a basket full of purple bows for residents who wish to pick one up (for free) and expand awareness in their neighborhoods.
The decorations will display the local commitment to the cause and the event itself, the annual Relay For Life being held at ORRHS on June 13 and ending at 8:00 am on June 14.
"It's a chance to walk in memory of a loved one, someone currently in the fight, or a survivor," DeMello said.
Presently there are 13 teams each with unique names like "Sole Survivors," "Ray of Hope," or "Linda's Angels" who have already raised $17,000 in donations.
Although at times the steps people take in this effort may seem as small as baby steps, staying on the path at any speed are steps in the right direction.
For more information about the Tri-Town Relay For Life, contact Margaret DeMello at 508-758-2741 or visit www.cancer.org for the website of the American Cancer Society.
Dickerson Reelected, Francis Heads to Planning Board
Marion Annual Election
By Jean Perry
Selectman Jody Dickerson will remain on the Board of Selectmen for another term after easily beating Dale Jones, 771-281.
In the middle of an excited crown gathered at the Marion VFW on May 15, the two gentlemen shook hands after the results were read, and Jones congratulated Dickerson on his win.
"Honorable campaign," said Jones to Dickerson. "Congratulations."
Dickerson's words could hardly escape his mouth, overjoyed with his win.
"I'm very excited that the voters of Marion will allow me to continue to serve the town," Dickerson said.
There was tabletop banging and cheers for Planning Board newbie Jennifer Francis, who took second in the three-way race for the two seats on the board. She will join incumbent Steve Gonsalves who came in first. The two bumped out Planning Board Chairman Stephen Kokkins and Todd Richins. Gonsalves brought in 711, Francis 522, Kokkins 490, and Richins 171.
"I think we've got a lot of work to do," said Francis. "And I want to look forward..."
There will be a new face on the Marion School Committee, along with a familiar one. Newcomer David MacDonald came out on top of a tight race with 572; Michelle Oullette brought in 550, and Jessica Harris came in with 526.
"I'm excited about having my first opportunity to serve the community," said MacDonald, turning toward Oullette seated next to him. "We both worked very hard to achieve this."
Oullette's face said it all with wide eyes and a wide smile. "I want to cry. I'm emotional," said Oullette. "I'm very grateful."
The new town moderator is Patricia McArdle with 572 votes, beating Matthew William Nowick with 379 votes.
Ray Pickles ran uncontested for assessor, bringing in 894 votes. John Howard ran for reelection uncontested, receiving 869 votes.
There were three ballot questions, and 'yes' prevailed in each of them.
Question 1 allows for the snow and ice removal of private ways. The result was 716 yes, 374 no.
Question 2, a Proposition 2 ½ exemption to purchase the new fire pumper, passed with 716 yes, 374 no.
Question 3, another Prop 2 ½ exemption, came in with 672 yes, 400 no. However, on Town Meeting floor May 11, the Board of Selectmen passed over the article to allocate the funds, choosing to wait until the new fire chief is chosen so he or she can be a part of the decision-making process. That tally was 671 yes, 380 no.
Scant Voter Turnout
Mattapoisett Annual Election
By Marilou Newell
Without a single contested race or a question on the ballot that inspired much in the way of interest, Mattapoisett's local election saw 218 voters during the extended hours the polls were open on May 19. At the request of the Board of Selectmen, Town Clerk Catherine Heuberger and her team manned the polls at Old Hammondtown School from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, one hour earlier than in previous years.
Heuberger confirmed that there are 4,690 registered voters in Mattapoisett. Usual voter turnout tops out at about half of that. She said in uncontested races 2 to 3 percent is about normal. On ballots where some level of decision-making has been required such as town elections in the prior three years, the polls saw up to a 14% turnout.
On the ballot question asking voters whether or not to exempt the town from the provisions of Proposition 2 ½ for bonds to finance ongoing roadway repairs throughout the village neighborhood, 126 voters agreed while 50 voters disagreed, and 42 voters left the space blank.
The uncontested elected offices found Selectman Paul Silva receiving 156 votes with three unsuccessful write-in votes. Assessor Leonard Coppola received 161 votes, and James Muse for the Mattapoisett School Committee received 158 votes.
The Public Library trustees are William Asci, receiving 156 votes and Amy Ligmitz-Harken, 142. John Eklund, Mattapoisett's long-time moderator will return to his gavel with 166 votes. Al Meninno, Jr received 155 as a commissioner on the Water/Sewer Commission.
Barry Denham, who received praise for the handling of snow removal and related winter storm issues for the 2014/2015 winter as highway surveyor received 173 votes with four write-ins. Russell Bailey received 155 votes for a three-year post on the Board of Health, while Ken Dawicki received 163 votes for a one-year stint on the Board of Health.
Nathan Ketchel, who sought to fill one of two open slots on the Planning Board, received 150 votes for a five-year seat at the table. Suzanne Kennedy received 154 votes for a two-year position with the Mattapoisett Housing Authority, and last on the ballot were William Hall and Michelle Hughes receiving 158 and 162 votes respectively for two-year posts on the Community Preservation Committee.
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell
Mattapoisett Tree Warden Roland Cote came before the Mattapoisett Planning Board on May 18 to discuss and receive permission for the removal of nine trees at various locations, causing Chairman Tom Tucker to quip, "Will there be any trees left in Mattapoisett when you are done?"
Cote takes the Town's status as a tree community quite seriously. He studies each questionable tree and assesses its health, wellbeing, and location before determining if removal is necessary.
The trees in question on this night were all in stages of dying with the potential to cause damage to property and residents if left unattended. Even a tree on the Town Hall's front lawn will be felled.
The trees that will be removed, and in many instances replaced, are four oak trees located at 27 and 28 Ned's Point Road, one oak tree at 11 River Road, one choke cherry at 5 River Road, one maple at 15 Prospect Road, and one oak at 16 Main Street.
The Planning Board approved one of three trees requested for removal by Eversource at 84 North Street. Eversource will have to provide further proof of the necessity of removal before the board will approve the other two.
Cote said in some instances, as is the case with the tree at Town Hall, some trees are the wrong species to plant in areas where the root systems are under roadways. Such environments, Cote explained, are too harsh for the long reaching roots.
When re-planting trees to replace most of those being removed, Cote said the Tree Committee would evaluate choices to select the best trees for future growing success.
In other business before the board, 7 Industrial Drive LLC received permission to move forward with construction of additional storage units after receiving a letter from Fire Chief Andrew Murray that alarm systems met requirements.
Final plans by G.A.F. Engineering for the stormwater system at the Appaloosa Lane subdivision were submitted by Brian Grady, bringing nearer to closure this much debated housing project.
An informal discussion with Attorney Joan Hurkett regarding property located behind the closed Tokyo Restaurant brought to light the difficulty her clients may have in securing sufficient frontage for this general business use property to be developed.
Hurkett will discuss options with her clients and several other town boards before decisions can be made regarding future development of the parcel.
Also coming before the board were residents of The Village at Mattapoisett in their ongoing efforts to obtain town services in the form of trash collection.
Tucker told the residents that they do have a right to request a public hearing in the matter and will set up the hearing on their behalf. The public hearing will be advertised as required by law.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is schedule for June 1 at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall conference room.
Full-time Substitute Position Approved
Mattapoisett School Committee
By Anne Smith
On May 18, the Mattapoisett School Committee voted in favor of a full-time substitute teaching position at Center School where projected kindergarten and first-grade enrollments have committee members concerned about swelling class sizes.
"We anticipate 54 [students] coming into kindergarten," Principal Rosemary Bowman said. This figure accounts for the typical fluctuations due to prospective students moving out of town, as well as the movement of students into the district from out of town or from private schools.
Committee members noted, however, that it would not take that many additional students--a mere increase of two per cohort--to boost class sizes to 19, which is too many for what the committee feels are the most critical years of a student's education.
"You always look to the youngest," Bowman said about adjusting class sizes with the addition of faculty members. "The debate has been between kindergarten and first grade."
Bowman added, in discussing the current and projected enrollments of the different cohorts with Assistant Principal Kevin Tavares, "it makes the most sense to have [smaller classes] in kindergarten."
In a creative solution, Superintendent Doug White suggested that the committee consider hiring a certified teacher for a one-year substitute teaching position.
"That has been the biggest problem," White said. "Securing highly qualified substitutes."
Bowman explained to the committee that the school would benefit from having a substitute who reports to the building every day, but who could also be appointed to lead a class section when class sizes are too large for the current staffing.
Having a certified teacher already working in the school would help make hiring more efficient because the candidate would be selected from a pool that an interview committee had previously screened.
"I think it's a pretty good hybrid mix," Chairman James Higgins said before motioning for a vote. The committee unanimously voted to move forward with the full-time substitute teaching position.
In other business, the School Committee voted to increase the cost of the school lunches by 25 cents. Students will now be able to purchase a school lunch for $2.75 instead of $2.50.
"We're seeing increased food and labor costs each year," Food Service Director Caitlin Meagher said. She explained that increasing the cost of lunch would not only help defray these costs, but help the school replace many of its appliances that are swiftly aging.
Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos reviewed the professional development calendar for the next school year, which the committee approved. The calendar features a first kick-off event in September. A subsequent professional development event will "bring together teachers from Grades 6, 7, and 8 for some vertical teaming," Frangos said.
"That was a very detailed layout of professional development for the next year," Higgins praised.
In her principal's report, Bowman announced that for the first time, Center School and Old Hammondtown School will have a joint Flag Day celebration. Students will attend Flag Day dressed as an American hero whom they have researched in preparation for the event.
Finally, prior to the adjournment of the Mattapoisett School Committee, many members expressed thanks to the Town.
"Support from the Town, greatly appreciated, will support the learning of our students," White said. "I want to thank the sub-committee, as well as the full School Committee for the budget," he added.
Higgins echoed White's words.
"We were lucky with the support of our town to pass a very good budget," Higgins said.
After reviewing minor scheduling conflicts, the Mattapoisett School Committee confirmed that the next meeting will be Tuesday, June 9 at 7:00 pm at Center School.
Planning Board Reorganizes, Still Clashes
Marion Planning Board
By Andrew Roiter
The Marion Planning Board met May 18 to appoint a new chairman and vice-chairman following the ousting of former Chairman Stephen Kokkins from the board by Jennifer Francis.
The board voted 4-3 in favor of Robert Lane, the former clerk, for chairman over Norman Hills, who was vice-chairman entering the meeting. Lane was nominated by Stephen Gonsalves, and Hills was nominated by Eileen Marum. The board also voted 4-3 in favor of Rico Ferrari for vice-chairman over Hills.
The position of clerk went to Hills over Marum in a 5-2 vote. Hills and Marum voted for each other. Hills was nominated by Ferrari, and Marum was nominated by Francis.
The position of representative to the Community Preservation Committee, which does not require a vote, stayed with Mike Popitz with no argument, as did the positions of co-chairs of the Master Plan Subcommittee, Hills and Ferrari. The position of representative to the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) stayed with Marum.
"We're all here to do the Town's work as best we can, and in the best interest of the community," Lane said. "And I hope that we do so in a way that's constructive and cooperative, and I look forward to that as we move forward."
Lane said, in reference to recent disputes about the recording of meeting minutes from past meetings when Lane was clerk, once approved, there would be no further discussion of the form of the minutes, just their accuracy.
"With regard to the minutes, Norm (Hills) is our new clerk, and I'm sure he will prepare the minutes in accordance with the manner that he deems as appropriate," said Lane. "And when the initial set of minutes is presented to the board from Norm, I hope to ask the board at that point to approve them both for form and accuracy." Lane continued, "And once we have approved them in regard to form, then I will not have any discussion regarding form in the future. We will only deal with accuracy."
Additionally, Lane delegated the task of finishing the unapproved minutes over the last year to Hills.
"Furthermore, because I know that Norm has strong feelings in regard to the minutes," said Lane, "I have a lot of confidence in his judgment in regard to it and I will delegate the responsibility to him, if he'll accept it, to complete the remaining minutes from the past year that have not been approved by the board."
Hills accepted the assignment.
The discussion Lane referenced was one that has appeared several times at Planning Board meetings. During a past meeting, a heated discussion broke out between then-clerk Lane and both Marum and Hills regarding the form and accuracy of the minutes from a December 1, 2014 meeting. In that discussion, Hills voiced concerns that Lane had misrepresented his words in the minutes.
An April 21 discussion over those very minutes ended with a 4-2 vote to approve them, with Marum and Hills opposed.
Following the appointments, the board moved onto old business. Marum brought up concerns regarding the reports she and other board members file. Currently, Marum submits written reports to the board regarding her visits to SRPEDD meetings. She said she would like to present verbal reports on the matter as well.
"I think that any Planning Board member who attends a meeting should be required to give a verbal report as well as a written report," Marum said. "I think this would be doing all the members a great favor so that we are all on the same page."
Lane responded, saying that written reports should be submitted and can be read by each member of the board, and discussion will follow if deemed necessary. Marum then raised the point that, by reading the reports aloud, members of the audience would be able to learn more about the meetings.
"I think these meetings are televised," said Marum. I think people ... would like to know what their representatives to various boards or committees ... are doing." She continued, "Everyone who's sitting in the audience doesn't have the opportunity to read our summary reports; therefore, I am requesting that we be permitted to give a verbal report as well as a written report."
Lane said it would be handled on a case-by-case basis, but not adopted as common practice.
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for June 1 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Bird Island Restoration Update
Marion Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell
Marion Conservation Commission Chairman Norm Hills updated the commissioners on plans to restore Bird Island, an important nesting location for endangered sea birds. Hills reported that during a recent meeting with Mass DEP, Marion Harbormaster, and the town's administrator, he was debriefed on the scope of restoration work to take place.
The project will be led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in concert with input from the DEP and Department of Fish and Game. Large stones will be placed around the perimeter of the land mass and then backfilled with soils, followed by planting of native species to help hold the earth in place during storms.
The multi-million dollar project is scheduled to begin in the fall, once the migrating birds have departed the nesting grounds. Hills said that the commission can anticipate a Notice of Intent Application from the Corps in the coming months.
In other business, three negative findings were issued to three applicants: Tom Quinlan, 208 Wareham Road, for the construction of a second story porch; Kevin Oliveira, 28 Pawkechatt Way, for the construction of a replacement deck; and Jonathan Howland, address not given, to build a barn.
Certificates of Compliance were issued to A & J Boats, and to Nominee Trust, 96 Mooring Road.
The next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission is scheduled for May 27 at 7:00 pm in the Town House conference room.
Angry Neighbors Speak Out
Mattapoisett Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell
During an otherwise routine night of hearings, the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission on May 14 heard from two neighbors on two different issues in tones that left no doubt they were angry.
First to voice discontent was Becky Lockwood, 2 Mulberry Drive, regarding an application by Elizabeth Chin, 22 Holly Lane, for the construction of a breezeway with an attached garage.
Lockwood spoke up when it appeared as if the commission was going to take a vote in favor of conditioning the application before asking for public comment. Chairman Bob Rogers acknowledged her request.
Lockwood began by saying that earlier attempts by the Chins to build this structure had been denied by previous commissions. Lockwood said, at those hearings, the commission members at that time felt the structure was too close to the wetlands boarding the property.
"I'm wondering what is different this time," said Lockwood. She claimed that construction would negatively affect her property by increasing stormwater runoff, which she asserted is already a problem.
Rogers said the plans did not indicate any contour changes that would increase the amount of runoff currently handled by a catch basin near the property, and the structure would be 54 feet from the wetlands, adding that the application was a reasonable request.
Lockwood continued, however, that it didn't make sense that a project previously denied could now be acceptable, saying, "But it's okay now?"
Rogers said anyone could file a Notice of Intent, and prior hearings were not pertinent.
"We don't have to honor prior denials," Rogers told Lockwood.
Again, she said a tremendous amount of water flowed over the property, prompting commission member Tom Copps to voice his position by saying, "It is a reasonable application."
Lockwood stated for the record, "I am extremely discouraged because people are building closer and closer to the wetlands." She felt such construction diminished the value of her home, but more importantly, constricted the movement and habitat of the endangered Eastern box turtles in her neighborhood.
The Chins were represented by Brad Bertolo of JC Engineering of Wareham. Bertolo said that turtle barriers could and would be installed prior to construction and that a stormwater catch basin noted by Highway Superintendent Barry Denham would be delineated.
The commission approved the application.
Later in the meeting, Ron Silvia of 15 Cove Street met informally to once again bring up the issue of an additional sewer stub being added to the Cove Street water and sewer project.
He had met with the commission last winter on the same topic, but eventually was pointed in the direction of public hearings held by the Water and Sewer Commission as the right place to air his concerns.
On this night, he was back before the Conservation Commission for the same stub location - a violation of the commission's Order of Conditions, in his opinion.
Rogers made it clear he wasn't going to spend much time on the topic because the commission did not have an application before them and therefore it was not their jurisdiction to hear his concerns.
"I can't help you, Ron," Rogers said. Rogers told Silvia, without an application, there was nothing to discuss with the commission.
Engineer Rich Charon, who was in attendance for other matters, was asked by Rogers to speak on behalf of his Cove Street clients, where the suspect stub would allegedly be installed.
Charon said that his clients did approach the Water and Sewer Commission on the possibility of receiving permission to install a connection to the yet-to-be constructed sewer system, post completion. He said that if the Water and Sewer Commission granted that application, the clients would assume all financial responsibilities associated with the tie-in. Charon also confirmed that the clients may seek a variance to build a home on the lot, but said nothing was being advanced by the property owners at this time.
That did not sit well with Silvia who said, if such construction was allowed on the barrier beach, other property owners with beach frontage might do the same thing. He was clearly angered by Charon's comments.
Rogers shut down any further conversation on the subject and directed Silvia to the Water and Sewer Commission.
Other business conducted included the filing of two Notices of Intent approved for The Preserve at the Bay Club on Fieldstone Drive, as well as the issuance of three Certificates of Compliance also along Fieldstone Drive.
An Order of Conditions was issued to Christopher and Veronica Brockwell, 13 Randall Road, for the purpose of clearing two acres of wooded land for pastures and the construction of a new barn.
A negative determination was issued to Audrey Andrews, 4 Parker Street, for septic system repairs.
Earlier in the evening, commission member Copps announced he would not be seeking a second term on the commission and invited the public to come forward should anyone wish to fill his vacancy. Both current Chairman Rogers and former Chairman Peter Newton thanked Copps for his public service and "good representation on behalf of the Town."
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 at 6:30 pm in the Mattapoisett Town Hall conference room.
School Will Continue on Good Friday
The Joint School Committees
By Jean Perry
Despite significant absences of students and professionals on Good Friday this year, the day will remain a regular school day next year even though a minority of committee members and administrative staff no longer support the notion as they did the previous year.
Absenteeism on April 3, Good Friday, was higher than usual, ranging from 10 to 21-percent of students absent, up from the usual 4 to 6 percent.
Mattapoisett School Committee Chairman James Higgins spoke strongly against the Good Friday school day, saying it had traditionally been a day off from school for hundreds of years and it should not have been changed.
"I think it was a mistake. I think we clearly received a message from the community." Higgins said he heard concerns from many residents about the change and said the committees represent the taxpayers who want Good Friday off.
"I wholeheartedly disagree," said Tina Rood, Rochester School Committee member. "We made this decision because we are a public school." She said the data reflecting only a single Good Friday is insufficient to assume the coming years would be the same. "[The data] is very deceptive because it is one day in time.... I think we need a larger body of knowledge than this particular data point."
Marion School Committee member and Chairman of the Superintendency Union Christine Winters said the district had established some annual days off as a result of significantly low attendance year after year, for example the day before Thanksgiving, questioning the continuance of the Good Friday school day.
"I think as we look at these numbers here, this is far past the threshold," said Winters. She looked to the data from this year, saying she did not expect this to be a "one shot deal."
"I don't think next year is going to be any different," said Winters. "Are we really doing the right thing?"
A number of high school students managed to convince their parents that Good Friday was an optional day of school, said Principal Mike Devoll, and 42 students in the district were dismissed early from school after tending to some assessments and assignments. The magic time for dismissal at the high school, said Devoll, was 10:40 am - the time a student can technically be counted as present at school.
Devoll said that the School Committee's insistence on following the Massachusetts Department of Education policy that no tests or assessments be planned for the day unless students opting to observe the religious holiday are allowed to make them up added to the appearance that Good Friday was an optional day.
"It does sound like an optional day," said Devoll. "If it's going to be a school day, let's make it a school day."
Rochester and ORR School Committee member Robin Rounseville, who voted in favor of making Good Friday a school day, defended her decision last year, saying in response to Higgins's earlier point, "'It's been done this way'...I don't necessarily think that's a good reason to continue to do something."
Higgins made the cumbersome motion "to not make Good Friday a school day," confusing some other members as to what a 'yay' or 'nay' vote would support.
Before the vote, the committee looked to Superintendent Doug White for his opinion on the matter.
"When I look at it, I have to take the data that I have in front of us," said White. He noted the high absentee percentage compared with the average daily percentage, referenced the shortage of substitute teachers to cover absent staff on Good Friday and said, "That's a concern for me as an educator."
Rood pointed out that, if returned to a day off, the Good Friday holiday would be made up by tacking on an extra day at the end of the year.
"A day in June is not the same as a day in March," Rood said.
The two Joint School Committees - The ORR School Committee and the Superintendency Union comprised of the Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester School Committees - took the vote, with the superintendency side voting 3-5 to keep Good Friday a school day, and the ORR side tied at 4-4, resulting in a failure of the motion.
Also during the meeting, White sat through the School Committees' annual review of his performance that fell in his favor with the majority of comments ranking him proficient and sometimes "wholeheartedly proficient" in certain areas.
This year, the two chairs of the Joint School Committees relied on information compiled from the three local committee chairmen as a way to more thoroughly examine how individual committee members rated White's performance.
The Marion School Committee commented in a report, "Doug has worked harder this year than any previous year ... and provided consistent communication and comment engagement as a whole."
A handful of committee members rated White as "needs improvement" in the area of instructional leadership, but also rated him highly in several other areas.
Marion School Committee member Joseph Scott said turning to White, "This is the first year he's really had a full staff of administration beneath him. And I think this year was a very, very good year. I'm happy to see the place we're in right now."
"I know as a district and as an administrative team that we still have some work to do," said White. "And we will make sure each child in the three towns has the best [educational] experience."
Also during the meeting, in addition to the Good Friday school day next year, both committees vote in favor of the 2015/2016 school year calendar as presented that night, which will include four additional early release days to accommodate eight more hours of professional development.
The Joint School Committee will not meet again until the start of the next school year in September.
ORR Looks Toward Accreditation
Old Rochester Regional School Committee
By Jean Perry
It is a 10-year process, and Old Rochester Regional High School Principal Mike Devoll is dashing toward the goals he is setting out for the high school as part of the accreditation process for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).
The school assessment visit was originally scheduled for 2016, but due to the overbooking of these visits on behalf of the NEASC, ORRHS has been given until 2018 to complete its accreditation requirements, and Devoll was happy to tell this to the ORR School Committee on May 12.
It is a systematic approach, said Devoll during a slide presentation that outlined the standards regarding the systems, processes, and practices of school personnel for accreditation as well as the 10-year cycle.
The essential question NEASC asks of the school once it completes its self-assessment, Devoll said, is to what extent does ORRHS adhere to the indicators in each standard for accreditation? What are the strengths? What improvements have been identified?
In addition, the school must identify its core values, beliefs, and learning expectations and sum them up in a core values statement. Devoll said he has formed a committee with that goal in mind.
The one word you will hear over and over again, Devoll said, is "community."
"Community. And community involvement," said Devoll. "That is an essential component to accreditation."
Devoll said the NEASC last visited the school in 2006 for an evaluation visit.
"I lived through that," said Devoll, who was a teacher then. "I feel I didn't truly understand. I feel like we checked a lot of boxes that year."
Within two years of that visit, Devoll told the committee, the school was supposed to submit a two-year report to the NEASC, followed by a five-year report. These two reports were not submitted in time.
"Somewhere after 2006, we jumped the tracks with our accreditation," said Devoll. Devoll stepped in as principal in 2009. The school was subsequently put on warning status.
Where did we go wrong? Devoll said administrative turnover had a lot to do with the lapse. "Since [then], we have submitted our two year report," as well as the five-year. "We are, in fact, back on track with NEASC.... And I am now looking forward to ... the visit and not fearing it like I did in 2006."
The staff began to write the core values during a meeting last Monday.
Devoll looked toward an impending vote at the Joint School Committee meeting scheduled for the following day pertaining to eight additional professional development hours and related it to the school's values.
"That's why it's (approval) needed. There's some work to be done," Devoll said, "and the products will be worthwhile."
Also during the meeting, ORRHS Vice-Principal Michael Parker introduced four changes to the student handbook, all approved by the School Committee that night.
Starting next year, an excused absence for illness must be substantiated with a doctor's note instead of a parent's note. Parker said students are allowed nine unexcused absences from full-year classes and four unexcused absences from half-year classes before credit is lost.
Also, juniors attending the junior semi-formal will be required to attend a full day of school the day of the event in order to be allowed to attend the dance and after party.
"Past history reveals massive amounts of dismissals on this day, disrupting the educational process," Parker said.
As part of the no smoking policy, electronic cigarettes will not be allowed on campus in light of a noted rise in e-cigarette use at the school.
Finally, possession of any pornographic materials on school grounds is prohibited, and "sexting" (sexually graphic texting) shall be considered pornography as per state law.
In other matters, the committee approved a school health unit application to allow trained chaperones on field trips to administer the Epi-Pen to students in the case of an anaphylactic emergency, and they also approved a senior trip to Martha's Vineyard.
The price of school lunch will increase by 25 cents next school year, up from $2.75 to $3.00.
The next meeting of the Old Rochester Regional High School is scheduled for June 10 at 6:00 pm in the ORRJHS media room.
National Honor Society Inducts New Class
By Patrick Briand
On Tuesday, May 5, Old Rochester Regional High School inducted 52 students into an organization that honors hard work and community involvement. That organization is the National Honor Society, which admits students based on their adherence to the society's four main pillars: service, character, leadership, and scholarship. English teacher SaraBeth Morrell advises the ORR chapter of the NHS.
After a rehearsal dinner the night before, the hardworking students were ready to be honored on the night of May 5. The event began at 7:00 pm as the students entered the cafeteria in alphabetical order by their last name. Morrell began the evening with a speech welcoming the students and audience, as well as serving to explain the purpose and function of the organization.
The current president of the NHS's ORR chapter, senior Stephen Burke, made the second speech of the night. Principal Michael Devoll followed, who congratulated the accepted students.
The night's guest speaker was Ross Hooley, an employee of the Nemasket Group, a nonprofit in Fairhaven that helps those with special needs to better combat real-world challenges. He provided a great example of a community figure whose work produces terrific benefits.
Next, four seniors spoke on the qualities of an NHS member. Austin Salkind spoke in regards to scholarship, Ashley Pacheco focused on service, Jaclyn Dyson talked about character, and Michael Kassabian reflected on leadership.
Kassabian continued with a speech recognizing Dana Dourdeville, who tragically passed away in a kayaking accident in December 2013. Dourdeville, a member of the NHS during his time at ORR, graduated in 2011. He was attending Brown University and was a standout track and cross country star at the time of his passing. Most importantly, he was an extremely well respected and hard-working student who exhibited all of the NHS qualities throughout his life.
A performance by the ORRHS Jazz Band followed. The quartet of seniors Matthew Parisi, Matthew Twaddle, Hannah Cormier, and sophomore Max Wolski, which has appeared at numerous school events in recent months, sounded excellent during their latest performance.
At this time, the candle process began to officially induct the NHS students. Pacheco, Dyson, and fellow seniors Julianne Mariner, Madeline Cafarella, and Julia Nojeim assisted with the process. Kassabian provided the piano accompaniment, and Burke gave the closing address.
After Burke's speech, the 52 students were officially acknowledged as NHS members. Many photos were taken after the commencement of the event, and refreshments were provided to the students and on-looking relatives to cap off a successful evening.
Morrell has been working as the NHS advisor at ORR ever since she was hired. "I was in the NHS in both college and high school, and it is a great organization," she explained.
Her favorite part of the position is working with students outside of the classroom, and getting to know them on a different level, she said.
As for the NHS's benefits, Morrell said, "I think it rewards them for more than academic success, and proves their commitment to service and character." On the topic of service and character, she noted Ross Hooley's speech as her favorite part of the induction event.
This year's NHS inductees will now focus their efforts on maintaining high grades, participating in their communities, and working on service-related projects. The first of these service-related projects will occur on June 11, as the inductees assist Rochester Memorial School students with their annual Field Day.
The induction ceremony was a great success, and gave a reminder as to how hard the students of ORR work to achieve excellence in their schooling, community involvement, and extra-curricular activities.
Those students inducted into the NHS during the May 5 ceremony were Elexus Afonso, Ashley Aruri, Samantha Babineau, Colleen Beatriz, Isabella Bernardi, Julianna Bernardi, Rikard Bodin, Patrick Briand, Kyle Camacho, Catherine Feldkamp, Abigail Field, Matthew Fortin, Lauren Gaspar, Brianna Grignetti, Serena Iacovelli, Serena Jaskolka, Emily Josephson, Jane Kassabian, Adrian Kavanaugh, Mallory Kiernan, Isabella King, Samantha Kirkham, Edward Krawczyk, Madeleine Lee, James Leidhold, Kylie Machado, Hayli Marshall, Nicole Mattson, Alexandra Melloni, Madison Miedzionoski, Lucy Milde, Abigail Morrill, Victor Morrison, Jeffrey Murdock, Zenobia Nelles, Michaelah Nunes, Devyn O'Connor, Lauren Ovian, Potsawee Pliansak, Alexandria Powers, Drew Robert, Evan Roznoy, Haily Saccone, Evan Santos, Kristina Sauerbrey, Rachel Scheub, Alex Tavares, Anne Tucker, Elena Voigt, Teagan Walsh, Paige Watterson, and Margaret Wiggin.
The Flora Foundation
Tabor Academy News
By Julia O'Rourke
On Sunday, May 17, Rachel McCoog's senior project came to an exciting close as she planned and hosted a variety of events to raise money for her recently established Flora Foundation.
After attending a Learning Through Service trip with Tabor Academy classmates, McCoog was inspired to create her own foundation. The goal of the Flora Foundation is to assist single mothers in transitional homes with sending their children to day care and summer programs so that they can work and make a living.
McCoog's foundation has developed over the past year as the number of families she has raised money for increases and she promotes awareness in the local and Tabor communities. For her senior project, McCoog focused on planning a variety of events to raise money for her cause.
McCoog is also co-head of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), and this group has put on events that raise money for the foundation while promoting awareness for the GSA as well.
The weekend of activities kicked off with a Tabor fire during which bonfires were located around campus with different themes such as live music, s'mores, and games. Donation boxes were located at the fire in order to raise money for the Flora Foundation.
A paint dance was the next event on Saturday night. Money was raised through ticket sales and attendees were sprayed with paint upon entry. Lots of students came out for the event and about $600 was raised from the dance alone.
The biggest event of the weekend was the Lap-A-Thon on Sunday. Lots of student and faculty teams participated, and a dozen student volunteers assisted McCoog in running the event.
Local restaurants and businesses donated raffle prizes to the cause, and a large amount of the money raised came from raffle entries. McCoog found the support of the Tri-Town incredibly important in her efforts.
The Lap-A-Thon had a variety of themes. For the first half hour, there was live music and Emily Dineen performed for the crowd. Next was a color run in which powder was splattered on runners in lots of colors. Then there was a passport relay competition, and for each lap that a team completed, they received a stamp. The winning team earned free raffle tickets.
Perhaps most importantly, a family that the Flora Foundation is assisting was able to attend the event and meet the participants. The kids will be attending camp this summer as a result of the money that McCoog has raised and their mother will be able to have a chance to work.
Senior Abi Taber had a great time at the event and especially enjoyed meeting the children. Taber found it refreshing to participate in this unique cause and finds it exciting "to make a difference in their childhood."
McCoog was pleased with her event and the money that she raised throughout her project, which totaled over $7000.
"I think that the Lap-A-Thon and my senior project were great successes and I couldn't have done it without the tremendous support I have gotten from our whole community," says McCoog.
Visit www.theflorafoundation.org for more information.
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