The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
Do You Know Me?
Mattapoisett Historical Museum
By Marilou Newell
Their faces look out at us asking, "Who am I?" or "Do you know me?" hoping to be identified once and for all, for all time to come. The Mattapoisett Historical Museum is in possession of hundreds of photographs dating from the 1800s to as recently as the 1980s bearing images of people and places from Mattapoisett, but lacking identification. In their latest exhibit, the museum is asking the public to help solve the mystery each of the pictures represents. Each black and white or colorized image is a mini-mystery waiting to be solved.
And those images range from hauntingly beautiful to playful to utilitarian in nature such as the photograph of the butcher shop replete with freshly chopped meats spread across a long counter. One face that I found simply perfect was that of a young woman from the late 1800s, perhaps a graduation or milestone birthday picture. Her face - so full of the blush of youth and promise now many years in the past - begs to have questions answered such as: Who was this woman? What became of her? Where does she lie today and for all eternity? And a similarly striking face is that of a young man from the early 1900s, whose earnest expression seems to say, "I will endeavor to live up to the expectations of my family..."
Two photographs depict a playful winter scene. In one, a tiny child pulls a sled through deep snow, while a companion picture shows that child and another playing together in the snow. Who are they and in whose yard are they playing? All that is known is that the pictures were taken in 1895.
Museum Curator Elizabeth Hutchison said, "...maybe people can help us out, you never know, someone may wander in and recognize someone in the pictures..." She said that it's so important for people to identify photographs by simply writing on the back of the picture in pencil the pertinent information such as the date, place of the photograph, and name(s) of any individual(s) in the picture. Hutchison said that on the museum's Facebook page these photographs and others not presently in the exhibit will be posted in the hope that someone can help identify them.
The exhibit will run through September 13. The public is encouraged to stop in and see for themselves if the faces calling out to be named speak to them.
Drama Club Starts Progress on Radio Show
By Emma Cadieux
The Old Rochester Drama Club is trying something new this winter. Instead of doing just any old play, they're doing a radio show! Don't worry, you will still get to see the actors, but they will be standing onstage, in costume, saying their lines directly into a microphone.
This will give insight into what used to happen in a radio studio before televisions were invented, when people made their own sound effects in-house and read right from the scripts.
Radio shows were most popular in the 1920s, '30s, '40s, and '50s, before televisions dominated the home-entertainment industry. Programs ranged anywhere from comedy, to drama, to horror, and everything in between. As you will notice when you watch the play, even commercials were woven into the program.
One freshman said that the play is focused a lot more on sounds and voices than actions. The casts' vocal performances will be much exaggerated, and the sound crew will actually be onstage making the sound effects.
He is right. Everyone on the sound crew, which usually only attends rehearsals once a week, will need to come after school on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights just like the onstage cast this year. This is definitely a major difference between this show and some of the previous shows that the club has performed in the past as its winter play, such as A Christmas Carol or Romeo and Juliet.
Auditions were held on the Monday of Labor Day and Tuesday, September 2, and the first read through of the script was Monday, September 8. At the rehearsal on Monday, Paul Sardinha, the seasoned director of the club, told the group that there was nothing to be afraid of.
"This isn't the most confusing play we've done," said Sardinha. He later revealed that it was Noises Off, a show they did in the '90s, that won the title of most confusing.
This year's production of It's A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Show is set to take place the week before Thanksgiving.
The show stars Kyle Costa as the stage manager, Ian MacLellan as George Bailey, Holly Frink as Mary, and Will Lynch as Clarence, George's guardian angel.
Since the story is such a well-known and much-loved classic, it puts a lot of pressure on the drama club to make it the best it can be.
The play is anticipated to be big, an important production and stepping-stone in the journey of the Old Rochester Drama Club.
"This play is going to be like nothing the drama club has ever done before," said sophomore Mary Roussell. "We're really breaking the fourth wall, and this play involves a lot of interaction with the audience. It's going to be interesting to see how it all plays out."
Proper execution is imperative with this show - the same, if not more, than other shows over the years.
"The problem with doing a well-known play is that if you mess up, everyone will notice," said Sardinha on Monday night. He continued to say that he knows everyone will do wonderfully, and that he knows they won't be messing up anyway.
Chairman Forced to Continue Hearings
Rochester Planning Board
By Jean Perry
Oops. Rochester Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson forgot that it was a primary election day when he scheduled the September 9 meeting, resulting in the continuation of three public hearings including the Colbea Enterprises, LLC hearing for a filling station/convenience store/coffee drive-thru on Cranberry Highway.
Continued again since August 23, the board has been anticipating the independent peer review of Colbea's own traffic study before proceeding further. Board members had questions about the results of Colbea's traffic study, so they voted to have Field Engineering review it, which was to be discussed that evening.
After holding a public meeting - not a public hearing - for another matter, board members alluded to the report of the peer review of Colbea's traffic study before adjourning.
"I'm glad we had an outside consultant to do that," said Planning Board member Susan Teal.
Other board members concurred with Teal, and Town Planner Mary Crain referred to the traffic situation near the proposed site as "kind of a mess."
"I'm anxious to hear back from Colbea," said Johnson. Some board members suggested that the Colbea traffic study used wrong data to determine the results.
"I'm not ready to vote," said Planning Board member Ben Bailey, so he was glad the hearing was continued and the peer review was completed.
During a follow-up interview, Crain explained that Colbea completed its traffic study back in July, which the Planning Board reviewed in August.
"It raised so many questions about the methodology of the report," said Crain, saying that was the reason behind the authorization of an independent review.
The public hearing for Colbea was continued until September 23.
The only matter that could legally be addressed that night was the public meeting for Grace R. Ashley, owner of a lot on Dr. Braley Road that straddles the Freetown/Rochester line and thus is situated in both towns.
Represented by John Romanelli of Romanelli Associates, Ashley sought an Approval Not Required application to divide her lot into two lots.
Romanelli described the application as "pretty straightforward," adding that he believes the plan meets the Rochester regulations for approval.
Johnson stated that the board had Town Counsel Blair Bailey review the proposal, which called for the division of the one lot into two "buildable lots." Bailey advised the board to remove the word "buildable" and let the language simply state "two lots."
Teal motioned for acceptance, and the application was approved.
The board had to continue the public hearing to discuss revisions to the Subdivision Rules and Regulations until September 23 as well, along with the public hearing for Betsy Downes of 264 Marion Road.
Downes, who resides on a recognized Scenic Highway, seeks to remove her driveway from one side of her property, relocate it to the other side, and cut down three trees as well - one because it is in the middle of the proposed driveway, and two others for safety reasons.
The board held off on discussing the definitions section of the Zoning Bylaw Amendments slated for the Special Town Meeting Warrant. Crain had hoped Rochester Building Commissioner Jim Buckles would attend the meeting to assist in answering any questions the board had about the definitions of some of the wording in the proposed bylaws, but he was unable to attend that evening.
The next Rochester Planning Board meeting is scheduled for September 23 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Brandt Island Projects Bring out Residents
Mattapoisett Conservation Commission
By Marilou Newell
Two Brandt Island Road projects brought out neighbors and abutters whose concerns were heard by the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission at their September 8 meeting.
The first project heard was Brandt Point Village, which has been the subject of storm water management hearings and proposed unit reconfiguration to this cluster housing project that has brought out issues which have been worrisome to the neighbors.
The hearing before the board this night was for an amended order of conditions that would allow the developers to move the remediation location slightly and to increase it by 245 square feet. Al Loomis of McKenzie Engineering represented the applicant J. M. Furtado, Inc. Loomis detailed the modifications that the conservation commission was instrumental in orchestrating. The commission during an earlier hearing had suggested that the applicant construct the mandatory environmental reclamation area at the newer location, resulting in fewer trees being removed and easier access.
Abutters were invited to air their questions and concerns after Loomis' presentation. All were concerned that the reclamation area would cause more water issues than presently being experienced and that placement of the wetland mitigation near a drainage culvert would overwhelm the system. However, both Chairman Peter Newton and member Bob Rogers explained the prudence of moving the wetland mitigation area as outlined and how it will ultimately benefit storm water management systems at the site.
Abutters were not convinced and countered that they were experiencing water problems now. Newton explained, "This is a natural storm water management system." He continued, "I'm a hydro-geologist ... this should help mitigate water. I'm not here to advocate on behalf of the applicant ... but this should help."
Rogers said, "This will provide slightly more storm water management and it's a common sense idea ... we think it's a good idea."
In spite of these explanations, the abutters pressed for more assurances that storm water run-off wouldn't become worse. Newton said, "This project before us tonight was suggested by us. This application was not for a review of the total storm water management system."
The application was approved with all the previous conditions in place along with notification to the commission agent when work commences.
The next Brandt Island Road project was a notice of intent by Ron Oliveira for the construction of a single-family dwelling that would require the filling in of low-lying depressions in the topography of the site to create a dry backyard space. Alan Ewing of Ewing Engineering represented the applicant. After review of a 2008 plan that had been approved by the conservation commission at that time and the airing of concerns by neighbors regarding the importation of soils to the site, the commission suggested that Ewing discuss with Oliveira the possibility of putting in a wetland reclamation area. The application was continued for two weeks.
A certificate of compliance was issued to Beverly Moore of 9 North Road.
The commission then had an informal discussion regarding the ongoing studies at the Appaloosa Lane development. Highway Superintendent Barry Denham said that he has been talking to Field Engineering, had not heard from G.A.F. Engineering, and that no conclusions have been reached regarding storm water management issues. He said he needs answers to the correct types of soils at the site and current water table levels, as well as an estimate of the amount of water the developers expect will be handled at the site and will be discharged into the town's sewer system in order to size drainage pipes correctly on River Road. Newton thanked Denham and asked him to please keep the commission informed.
Conservation Agent Elizabeth Leidhold gave her report that included a recent meeting with Blue Wave LLC, solar farm developers, regarding requests by the DEP that the storm water drainage system be modified at the Crystal Spring site. She also reported that Blue Wave has not sought clearance from Natural Heritage to date. Leidhold said that she anticipates the applicant will come forward with a request to amend their plans in the next couple of weeks. She added that NSTAR will most likely also be applying for permits to install three new telephone poles in the area of the project.
Leidhold said that the commission's office has received a number of complaints regarding NSTAR because of the severe clear cutting of trees. She had photographs from Tinkham Road and Crystal Spring Road that were startling. NSTAR has rights to clear 200-foot roads for access to equipment and power lines. She noted that there is little the towns can do.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is September 22 at 6:30 pm in the town hall conference room.
Committee Deliberates Playground Fence
Mattapoisett School Committee
By Jean Perry
Mattapoisett School Committee members from both sides of the fence considered just that - a proposed enclosure around the playground area near the circular drive at Center School.
Facilities Director Gene Jones on September 8 presented his recommended plan for a fence to cordon off the early childhood playground area, an idea first suggested by School Committee member James Muse just before school broke for the summer.
Jones placed an orange temporary barrier at the proposed site of a permanent fence to give committee members a visual to consider while weighing in the pros and cons of creating a barrier for small children who might stray from recess into the parking area while teachers are not looking.
Jones said the temporary orange fencing is also a way to test the likelihood that the fence would act as a successful measure "to keep the little guys confined to the playground."
Jones said the temporary fencing is 40 feet long, and he added an additional eight feet of fencing along the sides to increase safety by giving teachers more time to react should a child start to wander off, while maintaining an open appearance to the area.
"If we're gonna do this, then we should do it right," suggested Jones. He quoted the permanent black vinyl-coated fence at $3,700. He added that he personally thinks the orange temporary fence is achieving the desired results at this time.
The fence did not fly with Chairman Jim Higgins, who pointed out that Center School was already in compliance with regulations pertaining to the safety of the playground.
"In my opinion, I don't really see a need for a fence," said Higgins.
Committee member Jim Muse said, as has become his axiom before debating ideas with the chairman, that he "respectfully disagree[s]" with Higgins' opinion about the fence. Muse argued that children with special needs are at a higher risk for wandering off.
"I know that's not a big traffic area," said Muse, "but it only takes one time." Muse, who was on the School Building Committee, said he does not know why a fence to section off the playground area was not initially included in the design plan. He said he preferred to "err on the side of caution and student safety."
"As the parent of a child who has been known to run off when he wants to," stated School Committee member Henry Carter Hunt, he would prefer the playground be fenced off, "not just buffered."
Higgins, recognizing that there is sufficient support for the fence to move forward to the next step, agreed that the committee should continue the discussion next month, allowing time for Jones to present the proposed plan to early childhood educators at Center School for feedback before proceeding any further.
Superintendent Doug White suggested soliciting teachers for data as to whether or not the temporary fence is making an impact on keeping students in the playground.
"Is it doing its job, or not?" asked White.
Also discussed, a second grade school choice slot opened up this week after one student withdrew from the program, leaving committee members with the decision to either advertise the open slot, or simply allow a child on a waiting list for the first grade school choice to take the opening.
White said, with first grade class sizes at about 16 students per class, the move to allow the first-grader to fill the slot would not have a negative impact. He also suggested that it would be quicker to fill the slot by allowing a third first grade school choice student rather than advertise for a second second-grade slot. White asked the committee how it would like to proceed.
"We feel confident that we could manage the additional student," said White.
Center School and Old Hammondtown School Principal Rose Bowman said she welcomed a total of 508 students to the 2014-2015 school year and introduced the new Assistant Principal Kevin Tavares.
In other matters, the committee addressed vandalism at Center School that occurred over the summer, with Jones announcing that video surveillance footage helped identify the suspects and police have charged three minors with the crime.
White introduced new Business Administrator Patrick Spencer and new Director of Student Services Michael Nelson to committee members. White also announced that the Old Rochester Regional School District will not be filling the vacant position of technology director, choosing instead to restructure the Technology Department and allow tech specialists from all six schools to float freely around the district under the direction of White and Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos.
Along with its effectiveness and manageability, White said the move also falls in line with the district's Strategic Plan of using resources more efficiently.
"This is something that potentially does that," said White.
Frangos told the committee that the new "Go Math" pre-K through sixth grade curriculum is now established within the district, and teachers have already completed their first professional development session pertaining to the curriculum. The committee chose the curriculum during the last school year in order to comply with the new Common Core State Standards.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett School Committee is scheduled for October 20 at 7:00 pm in the Center School cafeteria.
New Year, New Faces
Marion School Committee
By Jean Perry
The Marion School Committee was back in session September 3, with a couple of new key administrative staff members attending their first meeting.
Old Rochester Regional School District Superintendent Doug White introduced the new School Business Administrator, Patrick Spencer, and the new Director of Student Services, Mike Nelson, to the committee before getting down to business during the first school committee meeting this school year within the district.
Representatives for the Sippican Lands Trust and Copicut Woods in Fall River asked the committee to approve a donation of 40 to 50 Atlantic white-cedar trees to Sippican School for sixth graders to retrieve and plant on the north side of the school grounds.
The evergreen coniferous baby trees will become a part of the science and social science curricula, with students learning about plant structure and also how this specific tree ties into local history.
Sixth grade students will take a field trip to Copicut Woods to claim and transport the trees back to the school and plant them the next day after a presentation from the SLT.
"I think it sounds awesome," said School Committee member Christine Marcolini. "I really do."
The committee accepted the donation of trees with a unanimous vote.
Later in the meeting, Sippican School Principal Evelyn Rivet announced that the school would soon have its own Facebook page as a way to reach out to the community about news and special events taking place throughout the year.
Assisting with the task, Technology Integrationist Susan Wheeler said she would model the new Facebook page after ORR High School's and make weekly updates for those who "Like" the page.
"It's just another way to put ourselves out in the community," said Wheeler.
Also during the meeting, the committee approved the design and placement of the new YMCA Sippican Learning Center signs for the front of the building and the circular drive out front near the entrance.
Food Service Director Caitlin Meagher gave a brief update on the status of school lunch accounts. As overdue balances remained after the school year came to a close, Meagher said she was able to recover some of the money left over from active lunch accounts from past years, and Rivet used some funds from the principal's account to pay for some of the remaining debt. In total, the Sippican School closed the year with a negative balance of $382, a huge difference from where it was earlier in the year when it climbed into the thousands.
"We're hoping to keep better control over that this year," said Meagher.
In other matters, Facilities Director Eugene Jones requested funds totaling $2,600 to go toward the new "Telecenter U Page Module," an emergency alert system used to aid in communication within the school, as well as with emergency responders and others, should an emergency occur.
Jones said the school could be ordered into lockdown "with the push of a button" from any computer within the school, not just from the main office.
The total cost is $7,100, with $4,500 coming from leftover funds in Jones' budget. The vote to approve was unanimous.
Also during the meeting, Rivet handed committee members the updated school improvement plan, which now includes a timeline for the goals that the committee requested before the close of the last school year.
Later discussed, White told the committee that, with a little restructuring, the district could eliminate the need for a technology director to replace Ryan McGee who resigned from the position to take another one in another district.
"As we went through the process," said White, "...we felt that we could do it in a different way without getting an additional administrator."
Technology specialist consultants who were once assigned to specific districts will now float between all the Tri-Town school districts, and some staff members will take on additional technology hours as well.
"We needed more boots on the ground," said White, adding later that having the consultants move through the districts under the new organizational structure will add accountability.
"And an ability to really see where we're going," said White.
The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for October 1 at 6:30 pm at the Marion Town House.
Chairman Wants Faster Boarding of Buses
Rochester School Committee
By Jean Perry
Parents, some of you are taking too long getting your kids on the school bus, so said Rochester School Committee Chairman Sharon Hartley on September 4 during their first meeting of the new school year. The discussion was continued from last year when the topic of consolidating bus stops first came up.
New School Business Administrator Patrick Spencer told the committee that the district managed to reduce the number of school bus stops in Rochester from 320 to 257 without compromising safety. Spencer said consolidating six stops on Route 105 and 60-odd stops throughout the town has saved some time bussing students to and from school.
Hartley questioned the bus stop etiquette of some parents who she said she has personally witnessed in the past do not have their children ready and prepared when the bus pulls up, stops, and opens the door.
"It happens over and over," said Hartley, describing how she has seen parents wait in their car with their child, who then does not exit the vehicle until the bus stops and opens the door, leaving the bus driver, the students on board, and traffic waiting too long. She added that the time some parents take to hug their child, say goodbye, and chitchat with the bus driver is also adding to the time that students have to be on the bus each day.
"I always thought of making a little video," Hartley said of when she witnesses these occurrences.
There was a slight misunderstanding between Hartley and School Committee member Jennifer Kulak, who wondered if having the children rush across the street to hurry up onto the bus would jeopardize their safety. Hartley reassured Kulak that she was only referring to some stops on the same side of the road as the bus where some parents do not have their child ready by the road when the bus approaches.
Hartley wondered how the committee could get the word out to ask parents to cooperate by having their kids ready to board the bus in a timely manner, without taking up too much of everybody's time.
"[Because] that's abusive to everybody," said Hartley.
Also during the meeting, committee members approved new Director of Student Services Michael Nelson's funds request to cover the cost of an unforeseen out-of-district placement for one student with special needs. The "not to exceed $69,500" Special Education Stabilization Fund request will be placed as an article on the Special Fall Town Meeting Warrant for Town Meeting approval.
Spencer specified that the cost could be brought lower with changing circumstances, but the total could not exceed the requested $69,500.
In other matters, Rochester Memorial School Principal Derek Medeiros said he welcomed at total of 477 students on the first day of school, including 16 new students who either registered before the end of the school year or entered the district during the summer.
"Derek, it looks like grade two is creeping up in size," said School Committee member Tina Rood. Medeiros replied that this has been the trend, but for the most part, the new students are evenly spread across the grades.
Medeiros said the new math curriculum, "Go Math," has been delivered and unpacked with the assistance of some ORR Junior High School students, and teachers have already had their first professional development day pertaining to the new curriculum.
During the meeting, Superintendent Doug White introduced the committee to the new technology restructuring that will eliminate the need to keep the technology director position. Technology needs will now be spread out throughout all six schools in the district instead of each having their own consultant. Staff members throughout the ORR district will take on increased hours and technology roles that will be monitored and tracked more effectively by the central administrative office.
Spencer gave a brief update on the status of the closing of the fiscal year 2014 budget, prompting Hartley to comment, "That might be the briefest financial report in a long time."
The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee is scheduled for October 2 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Upperclassmen Start Tabor Book Club
Tabor Academy News
By Julia O'Rourke
As students have arrived on campus and classes have started, the annual back-to-school transition has begun. Sports, extra-curricular activities, and clubs are gearing up again, but with one new addition: The Book Club.
Last spring, the Tabor Track Team had six distance runners who trained together. Among these runners were Jenna Weyant ('15) and Madeleine Gregory ('16). One day, Kelli McSweeny, a track coach and English teacher at Tabor, brought up some reading suggestions. This led to multiple conversations regarding great books and authors. Conversations like these became a trend and eventually Weyant and Gregory started to think of the team as somewhat of a book club. After some discussion, the girls were inspired to actually make one.
Weyant and Gregory began making plans for a club and informed the Tabor community. The girls were excited to find that a variety of Tabor students and faculty love reading for pleasure and soon 25 people had signed up. Gregory reported that, "The club's members range from math teachers to book enthusiasts to readers looking for suggestions." Tabor's Head of School John Quirk has added his name to the list of members as well.
Over the summer, the club members read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks to discuss at the first meeting of the year. Gwen McCain ('15) read the book this summer and found it "relevant because the setting is similar to Tabor." The club will meet on Sunday evenings when all boarders are on campus. The members plan to discuss books, movie adaptations, authors, and their general opinions about novels.
"It started as just a novel idea. Then the pages started turning and suddenly we had started a new chapter in our lives revolved around good people, good food, and most importantly good reads," Weyant says of the success of the idea.
Weyant's and Gregory's initiative is a great example of leadership at Tabor. They hope to foster a love of reading within the community without using school-assigned books. Gregory shared, "We're to remind ourselves, and everyone involved, how much fun reading can really be."
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