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New Cupola in Rochester's Historic Town Center

By Marilou Newell

It was a magnificent sight to behold as a new cupola soared skyward on June 17. It soared with its bronze and copper eagle perched inside the peaked roof. It soared with its glistening copper roof. It soared as a symbol of what can be accomplished when people come together and share talents, resources, and time. Rochester's Plumb Library wears its new cupola with pride as a work of art in the historic village center.

But let's back up to how this truly elegant piece of engineering and design came to be.

Library Director Gail Roberts told The Wanderer, "The project came about because the old cupola, which was original to the building and built in 1976, leaked and sometimes the rain would pool up in the attic and would drip down into the library. Not good! Andrew Daniel, Rochester's Facilities Manager, explored it and found that it was open to the attic underneath, as the original idea was to have a light in the cupola. He suggested that we get a new cupola in the style of the old one, and that he would close up the space underneath it."

After looking into the cost to replace the cupola, it quickly became apparent that a new one was out of the question. "It was cost prohibitive," Daniel said.

Daniel said that the cost for a new cupola was about $14,000. "There was no way the town could do it." Daniel knew of the skills and cooperative climate at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School as he had worked with the students and instructors there on other town projects. He approached the school about building a new cupola, and Daniel said, "They saved the day." Yet the school alone, even with the town's assistance, couldn't get this job done.

Daniel spearheaded collaboration between OCRVTHS carpentry shop and businessman Richard Miranda, owner of Diversified Roofing Systems located in New Bedford.

Miranda heard through a mutual acquaintance that the town needed some help and that Old Colony was willing to build the wooden structure. Miranda donated copper sheeting for the roof and the technical expertise to apply the metal to the multifaceted roofline.

"I went to the old Apponequet High School. They had shops back then. My grandfather always told me do whatever you want, but have a trade to fall back on," Miranda shared. With that sage advice, Miranda did two things: he followed his heart, and he developed a successful trade and business. On staff, Miranda also has a graduate of Old Colony. He is paying it forward both in terms of sharing knowledge and resources while honoring his grandfather's memory.

"We did the copper work," Miranda said of the shiny new copper-covered roof the cupola sports. "It's a dying art," he demurred. He said the students were very helpful and willing to learn. "We spent the whole day teaching the kids - I even shut off my phone," he said with a chuckle. "It took about one hundred man hours to do the copper because of the angles," he said.

Carpentry instructor Douglas Sims, who took over the project that was started by retiring instructor Stu Norton, said the students built the wooden structure using rough drawings provided by Daniel. He said the students also worked with manufacturer's instructions for the tricky part of installing the four window sections. Of the day spent working at Miranda's shop, Sims said, "The five students didn't want to leave!" Norton said that opportunities such as this are beneficial, "Kids get to learn with very little cost to the school."

Daniel said he was going to try to install the cupola himself in three pieces. Miranda once again provided vital support. Miranda donated hours to the installation of the finished piece with a team of workers and a very large crane that hauled the cupola up and onto the library roof peak. Daniel said that the new cupola's appearance was in keeping with the aesthetics of the other buildings in the town's historic center. He also beamed with pride, "I repaired the eagle."

Roberts thanked everyone for all they had done to make this project come together, "We couldn't have done it without everyone's help. Now we're good for another hundred years."

New in Mattapoisett

By George B. Emmons

Editor's note: George Emmons is a gentleman who recently moved to Mattapoisett and is sharing his experiences as he gets to know the area.

My wife, Jan, and I have just moved in at Crescent Beach after 20 wonderful years in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts.

We both were very involved in non-profits of Monterey, a small town near Lake Garfield; she as chairperson on the Gardening Committee of The Bidwell House Colonial Museum, and I was president of The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation, the only volunteer-run hatchery in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife system. I also wrote a monthly column in the local monthly paper about wildlife, nature, environmental awareness, and human interest profiles of local town personalities.

Getting on in years, we both wanted to be nearer to our youngest daughter. A big change in our lives. However, now, with a beautiful new sunrise at Crescent Beach, our day often starts out with the promise along a new road taken, especially going into town where at every turn and destination we are made to feel most welcome with hospitality as warm as we have ever known with our new neighbors, registering to vote at Town Hall, and especially at the library, becoming acquainted when I took out two books - Melville's Moby Dick and Philbrick's Heart Of The Sea - to immerse myself in the history of whaling era whose last iconic active vessel was this publication's namesake The Wanderer.

Going into town one morning, a big surprise awaited me at the corner intersection of Prospect and Marion while driving by the Shipyard Repair Shop of David Peterson. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a nautical landmark with wonderful lines, but which had seen better days and was now mast-less like a swan sheared of its feathers. The empty hull rang a bell in my head and, acting on a hunch, I drove in and knocked on the workshop door. Like everyone else we have met, David was very polite being interrupted on a busy day, but was very pleased in my particular interest in one of his favorite charges of his collection.

It turned out to be a classic yawl named Buzzard's Bay 30 (measured in as many feet) designed by none other than Nathaniel Herreshoff of Bristol, Rhode Island with others in the history here of fish boats, catboats, skipjacks, knockabouts, and schooners. David also kindly loaned me the treasure of a book, personally autographed to him by the author Edward F. R. Wood, entitled Sailing Days in Mattapoisett 1870 to 1960. On page 42, thirteen owners of Buzzard Bay 30s include the name of Robert W. Emmons of Tobey Island, who was my father's second cousin. Also in the index, his name is listed three times as skipper of The Endeavor and Enterprise in the J-Boat America's Cup races.

This nautical yarn of this adventuresome tale takes me full circle back to a sailing family heritage that includes my father, whose boat was The Quakeress around Jamestown Island in Narragansett Bay, and his uncle Arthur B. Emmons as commodore of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club in Newport. My next nautical article may find inspiration over the horizon from Crescent Beach to the whaling island of Nantucket, where my wife's great, great grandfather was the first lighthouse keeper and who first charted the waters around Martha's Vineyard and Block Island.

The Thrill Factor

This Mattapoisett Life

By Marilou Newell

Something is happening. It actually started a few years back, but it has become more apparent as of late. I think I've heard it referred to as "creeping old age."

There are the pains that were once sporadic with only the occasional visit, but these pains have now become, well, not old friends but certainly reliable ones. The back pain, the bursitis in the hip, and of course, the forgetfulness - these are the reminders that the wheel of time is grinding me down, literally shrinking me into my own crepe-like skin.

A dear friend of mine, whose brush with Mr. Reaper a couple of years ago was terrifying, has a little saying that she's coined, "Sixty-five and ALIVE!" Yes, it is a joyous thing to wake up each day - pains and all. I accept the reality that even for me, time will not acquiesce.

So, I keep busy lining up a daily to-do list, hoping to make some sort of contribution to the here and now and looking forward to more of that precious commodity known as time.

To that end, I'm doing what I'm sure Joseph Campbell would recognize as living on the edge in an attempt to know that I'm really and truly alive.

Campbell - scholar, philosopher, and frequent guest on PBS - was expert at dissecting myths, legends, and religions with a storyteller's finesse. Campbell brought the myth of the hero into a modern context: that of a police officer who climbs on the ledge with the person threatening to commit suicide and puts his/her own life in harm's way for the sake of saving another. Thus, in that moment as life weighs in the balance, it is also timeless, every breath an eternity, and the act of being alive, oh, so very real.

We can't all be heroes of that magnitude, but maybe I can just be a person who challenges herself and says aloud to the devil of doubt, "Yeah, well I can so do that!"

Hence, I've signed up for the annual Lions Club triathlon.

I know it's not on the same scale as sacrificing one's life in service of others, but there is that personal thrill factor. Real athletes know the feeling; they understand the challenge they put themselves through. I've got a tiny taste of that and the flavor is so good.

Now you may be thinking, "I know this woman, and she is nuts to think she can do this thing." Frankly, you would be right. You have to be just a little bit silly in the head to believe that you can swim, bike and run in succession and still be able to breathe without medical attention afterwards. I'll add especially silly in the head given my un-athletic physique and being of a certain age. That's not going to stop me, though.

I have a strategy. First and foremost, this will be a team effort. I have a partner in crime who has obliged me by offering to take care of the swimming leg of the race. Yours truly will take on the biking and speed-walking bits. I've thrown down my own gauntlet and picked it up.

With some adjustments in how I use my body, prepare my body, and gird my mind for the quest, I believe that with a bit of training and a few adjustments to the old bike that has waited for my return these past 17 years I can, in fact, "get 'er done." Or, as they say in AA, "Fake it till you make it." In my case, those cliches mean the same thing.

None of this easy, for sure. It's been slow. There was the day I had to get off the bike because the pain in the left sitz bone was like a Spanish Inquisition torture. With some ingenuity, I modified the seat and can now ride nearly pain free: "Climb every mountain; ford every stream" or something like that.

The plan is simple: just go at my own pace and finish, just finish. I'm doing this because I can. My friends can't, my parents can't, but for them and myself, I can at the very least try.

I fully expect to be in the far back of the pack, possibly even the last one over the finish line. I hope the event organizers don't remove the equipment from the course before all the participants have a chance to cross the finish line. When the goal is simply to finish, that is the prize sought. That is the thrill.

As Toby Keith sings, "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was."

Residents Hope To Meet With Developer

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

On June 20, Mattapoisett Planning Board Chairman Tom Tucker was in the mood to see compromises between the latest team developing Brandt Point Village and the residents of the sub-division's Phase 1.

At the June 6 meeting, however, Tucker's mood had been notably one of exasperation, saying that "lip service" by the development team had to stop. He went so far as to ask the town's counsel to issue a cease and desist order based on information from residents of Phase 1 that Phase 2 construction had commenced, a violation of the phased construction plan.

Tucker's tone was considerably tempered on this night as he told the sub-division residents that he had spoken to Mark Marcus of Omega Financial Corporation and had received assurances of compliance.

"I spoke to Marcus this morning. He is aware of the problems and does want to finish Phase 1 because it's holding up Phase 2. He wants to meet with the residents," Tucker said. He went on to say that all parties had to be willing to make compromises and to comport themselves like adults.

Tucker said that Marcus' engineer, Al Loomis of McKenzie Engineering, was waiting for feedback from the town's engineer, Ken Motta of Field Engineering, and that a punch-list of over 100 line items of to-dos was being checked off.

Still the mood of the residents was tense.

Denis Demos, whose attendance at planning board meetings has been consistent, asked, "Who is going to be accountable?" He sought to get a firm grip on what authority would finally ensure that construction concerns of the residents would be handled. Tucker said, "When everything is built, we'll get as-built plans. I don't want to drag anyone through the mud."

Tucker said, "He [Marcus] knows we are going to hold him up until he is done," referring to the completion of Phase 1 where eight households have been struggling through 10 years of incomplete construction and what, at times, has seemed to them like a revolving door of investors and developers.

All residents had signed a letter submitted to the planning board for inclusion in the evening's informal discussion. Tucker read the letter that listed their grievances such as street lighting not in the proper location, a mail kiosk that needs to be moved, incomplete stormwater management, and the fact that Marcus was using outdated plans. They also said that Marcus had not been willing to meet with them to discuss their concerns.

Marcus' attorney, John McGreen, was in attendance and said that Marcus didn't want to come back to the planning board every time a small item on the punch-list was about to be worked on, noting that would hamper the project further. Tucker said that wouldn't be necessary.

With assurances that all parties would meet outside the planning board meeting and that the residents could return if they needed assistance, the discussion was concluded.

Also coming before the planning board was Tree Warden Roland Cote with public hearings for the removal of trees along five streets considered to be part of the scenic canopy of the town.

Planning Board member Karen Field asked Cote, "Shouldn't we be doctoring trees, not taking them down?" Expressing concern at the number of trees Cote has asked to remove in recent months, she added, "We're not going to have scenic ways."

The planning board members heard Cote's rational for the removal of the trees - some due to safety concerns and others due to possible diseases. Of the five locations, the board members granted permission at three: a maple tree at 150 North Street, a Bradford pear tree at 29 Pearl Street, and an ash tree at the corner of Pine Island and Old Marion Road. Tree removal at 14 North Street was tabled pending clarification of location and tree in question, and a maple tree at 33 Pearl Street was deemed healthy at the present time. Cote said that part of the town's village street improvement project would include the planting of new trees in partnership with the tree committee.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for July 18 at 7:00 pm in the town hall conference room.

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