The Wanderer - Mobile Edition
Start Local, Start Small
By Jean Perry
If you are aiming big this holiday shopping season, your local shopkeepers, who also happen to be your neighbors, ask only this of you - please, start small.
Small businesses make up our local economy - the restaurants, specialty shops, markets, galleries, and boutiques - and the folks who own them are the faces of these small towns of ours that most visitors to this area become familiar with first. They are the faces you won't find at the mall, the faces you won't see while online shopping on the Internet.
Here we are, now at the cusp of the holiday shopping rush, and by the end of the day on Black Friday and Cyber Monday we will officially be in the throes of the busiest and most important period for business owners.
But what does that look like on the local level?
When you choose to do your holiday shopping in the local stores that line the quaint streets of Tri-Town, you're doing more than spending money - you're seeing neighbors, interacting with the people of the community - the ones whose kids go to school with yours, the ones you attend church with, the ones whose businesses make our towns truly unique.
Not so much when you hit the big box stores or the mall or add items to the virtual "cart" on your computer screen.
If you spend your money on gifts this year in local stores, you will personally contribute to the prosperity of your community, while buying your gifts at big box or online stores (although more convenient and perhaps a bit less expensive) translates into a simple transfer of cash from your wallet to some far away retailer.
Essentially, when you give a gift from a local shop, you really are giving two gifts at the same time - one to the recipient and one to the local families of your local businesses.
Studies find that local businesses recirculate a greater share of every dollar back into the communities in which they serve.
Money that is spent locally is re-spent locally.
According to the Michigan State University Center for Community and Economic Development, for every $100 spent locally, $73 stays in the local economy - local taxes, wages, social investments in the community, donations, supplies purchased by other local businesses. When that same $100 is spent at a non-locally owned company, only about $43 stays in the community, with $57 leaving the local economy.
Local shops invest in their communities through charitable donations (and if you have ever attended any one of the major community events in Tri-Town, that is abundantly clear), much more than the physical, big box stores or the online ones.
According to the Institute for Self-Reliance, locally owned businesses nationwide donated roughly $4,000 per $1 million in sales, while a mega-business like Wal-Mart donated just $1,000 per $1 million in sales.
This weekend, nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is the more socially conscious alternative day of thoughtful spending - Small Business Saturday. The spirit of Small Business Saturday is simple - connect with your community, contribute to the local economy, pick out meaningful gifts and actually touch them, see them with your own eyes, and maybe have them gift-wrapped.
It's also about sharing in the experience of walking into one of the community's one-of-a-kind shops - the scents, the twinkling lights, the cozy, eclectic, or holiday style atmosphere that someone curated and created especially for you to enjoy.
Local Mattapoisett business owner Louise Rogers says that is precisely what she and her gallery associates strive to offer- a unique environment to shop for special, hand-picked gifts while experiencing the joy of the holiday season.
Shopping local is personalized, says Rogers. So much thought is put into giving the shopper an experience that makes them feel connected to the community, a part of something.
"We always try to remind people that we're here," said Rogers. "People tend to start out at the malls, and then they end up here and then they say, 'I should have started here, you have everything that I needed.'"
"It maintains the fabric of the town," said local sales associate Carole Rogers. And when buying a gift for someone that is truly special, one needs to see it, touch it, connect with it in a way that one cannot while staring at a computer screen.
Louise Rogers has been doing the local business thing for 40 years now - providing the kind of service and items that the big box stores can't. Remember to shop locally this year, she says. "Because all our local stores need it."
"You need us, and we need you," said Rogers. It's a classic example of a happy symbiosis.
And don't forget, it's the local businesses that advertise in your community weekly newspaper The Wanderer. They are the local sponsors of the local news you receive every week. It's safe to say, without our local businesses there would be no local newspaper.
Commit this year to buying at least one gift at a local shop. Thumb through The Wanderer at the many unique, locally owned businesses. Tell them you saw their ad in The Wanderer, and give this holiday season by giving back to your local townspeople who help make this area as unique as it is.
Name: Micah Kidney
Lives in: Rochester
What he does: ORRHS math teacher and Gateway Gladiators ice hockey head coach
How he got here: Originally from Dennis, Massachusetts, he moved to Vermont and taught math for 13 years, joined the military in 2003, and then moved back to the region after returning from a military deployment to Afghanistan in 2010.
An Exceptional and Unregrettable Path...
By Jean Perry
When you think about all the possible roads one could take in life, there is a whole separate list of particularly challenging professional paths that only those with a distinct dedication and daring decide to venture down.
Micah Kidney has chosen to walk not only one such path in life, but two of the most challenging and also vital roles - soldier and teacher.
Kidney is most recognized in Tri-Town in his role as math teacher at Old Rochester Regional High School for the last seven years, but the United States Armed Forces just this month recognized the U.S. Army Rangers Major and HHC Commander of the 86th Mountain Infantry Brigade for his exceptional service and leadership as commander of the Mountain Brigade Combat Team and presented him the esteemed Meritorious Service Medal.
For most Americans, the events of September 11, 2001 changed everything. Kidney wanted to join the military right away, but a physical problem with his left eye delayed the start of that journey down the road of defending the country. It took him a year and a half, actually, and a little assistance from a Vermont senator who petitioned for Kidney's acceptance on his behalf.
Kidney joined the U.S. Army Rangers based near Mount Mansfield, the highest mountain peak in Vermont, serving in the last mountain qualified unit in the entire Army.
"I love the mission because we do rock climbing and rescue," said Kidney. "I decided to stay for the rest of my career."
During this time, Micah continued to teach math in Vermont for 13 years before he moved back to Massachusetts and started teaching at ORR.
Later he spent 14 months in the Afghanistan mountains of Jahi Valley near the Pakistan border, "Interestingly enough, I was deployed to the valley where Osama bin Laden was captured," Kidney said.
For Kidney's wife Heather and their four children, it can be difficult with Kidney away so often - for a cumulative four out of the last 15 years, in fact, Kidney said.
"My family has been super supportive," Kidney said. "My wife, she's been a trooper, always supporting her husband, and she's always been super supportive of my love for this country."
Kidney's kids now range in age from 12 to 20, and when it came time to announce that Kidney would be the recipient of the Meritorious Service Award this year, "They knew it was a big deal from the look of surprise on my face," said Kidney.
Here is the deal, according to Kidney. If you do a decent job you get the opportunity to command a company. Well, Kidney has now thrice served as commander, which alone speaks to his superiors' confidence in his capabilities.
The way the medal is awarded, said Kidney, is that the recommendation has to be made by a colonel and then approved and signed off on by a general, of which there are only two in Vermont.
"It was definitely unexpected," said Kidney. "The only other time I've ever seen it awarded was the end of a 30-year career."
The Math Department at ORR wasn't about to let this event go by quietly unnoticed by the community, either, although Kidney wasn't inclined to announce the recognition he had received. It's hard for him to stand in the spotlight for a duty he has committed himself to selflessly.
"Attention, for most soldiers, is hard," Kidney admitted. "We have a hard time when there's any attention shined back at us."
Major Kidney is still a member of the Vermont National Guard, travelling twice a month to his northern Vermont military reservation, with the full support of his wife and kids.
"The thing that I am most proud of is that I had the privilege of serving with so many heroes. Our unit spent a year in the most violent and least free place on the planet deep in Taliban country. Some of my closest friends didn't make it home, but the American soldiers that I served with continued to fight for each other every single day with honor, selflessness, and true valor," Kidney said.
"Throughout the last 15 years of my time in the service, throughout all of the challenges involved with being an Army Ranger and serving in a high tempo unit, I haven't regretted a single moment. I have truly loved every second of my military career, and I love being able to say that I served my country to the extent that I have."
The following is a timeline of Kidney's ongoing military career:
2003-2005 - Platoon Leader - Alpha Company/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2005-2007 - Scout Platoon Leader - Headquarters/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2007-2009 - Detachment One Commander/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2009-2011 - Executive Officer (2nd in command) during deployment to Jaji, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF2010) - Alpha Company/3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry, Combat Outpost Herrera, Paktia, Eastern Afghanistan
2011-2014 - Commander - Alpha Company/ 3rd Battalion of the 372nd Mountain Infantry-Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
2014-2017 - Commander - Headquarters Company 86th Mountain Infantry Brigade, Camp Ethan Allen, Jericho, VT
Soap Box Derby Ignites Passion for Scouting
By Sarah French Storer
The weather cooperated for the dedicated scouts who had put their all into the cars they raced down the Holmes Street hill in Marion on Saturday morning.
The Marion Cub Scout Pack 32 bi-annual Soap Box Derby drew a crowd of scouts, scoutmasters, and parents to cheer on the racers as they whizzed down the street.
The look of intense concentration of the young drivers as the homemade cars sped down the hill epitomized the seriousness with which the scouts take this competition.
The level of expertise and determined effort the scouts put into the contest is unmistakable. The scouts refurbish cars from years prior, as well as design and build new models.
It is most evident in the team spirit and tone of cooperation at this event that this day is as much about friendship and camaraderie as it is about competition.
Dan Crete, whose son Tapper raced this day and whose house stands at the finish line at the bottom of Holmes Street, says that ever since his son was little he would watch the race and long for the day he could join the scouts and race in his own Soap Box Derby. Crete adds that he was in scouting as a boy, but that this race and other activities the scouts do now are "so much cooler than when I was a scout."
The leadership cultivated in the boys was made apparent when a car went careening off the course and the driver was cheered on and encouraged to get back on course and finish the race.
Whether it was the excitement of winning or merely making it successfully down the hill, the day was filled with fun, good-natured competition and the satisfaction of engineering and building a winning car.
Of the five dens represented at the race, Arrow of Light took most of the races, followed successively by Wolf, Weblos, Bear, and Tiger/Lion.
Local Man Talks Autism Awareness, Acceptance
By Jean Perry
Charles McIntyre of Mattapoisett is like most 25-year-olds - he has a job, interests, appreciates the art of sarcasm, spends time online networking, and still maintains a healthy degree of idealism when it comes to social issues.
In other words, Chuck strives to make a difference in the world, to be his authentic self, and find happiness and fulfillment in life.
But unlike others, McIntyre has had his own unique challenges along the way. After all, for 25 years now he has been navigating a world that is constructed around the concept of 'normal,' of 'neurotypicalness.'
On November 15 during a presentation at the Mattapoisett Library, McIntyre let us all in on a little secret - surprise! He is autistic, he is amazing, and you might as well get used to it because, according to him, he's not the weird one - it's we 'neurotypicals' who are weird. (Neurotypicals are humans born with typical brains who perceive and behave in ways that are considered 'normal' - NT for short.)
McIntyre made it all the way to junior high before he was introduced to the NT world of exclusion of others who are 'different.'
"My view of myself and autism ... changed from being different like needing extra help ... to junior high where I felt less and less," he said. "I felt more and more judged. I felt really down on myself and developed an inferiority complex all the way to college."
It was in college during his early childhood education class for learners with disabilities when his view of himself began to change, McIntyre said. For the first time ever he was led to start researching "strengths of autism," of which there are plenty, he assures us.
With this paradigm shift, he developed a positive perspective of autism and of his own self image, and soon he was online connecting with other autistics.
"And I developed this sense of community," he said, which may seem odd to NTs, since it is a common misconception that autistics dislike interacting with people, he added.
These new friends, like him, experienced similar hardships and struggled with life in an NT society.
"How they felt judged, abused, mistreated, how they struggled at work," he said.
But times are changing, said McIntyre, and he and other autistics and NT allies have adopted a pro-autistic viewpoint and are spreading the message of acceptance and advocacy.
"Different, not less," spoken by famous autistic Dr. Temple Grandin, is their shared battle cry, he said, "as we go through life everyday conquering the obstacles and misunderstanding."
"We are not walking tragedies," he emphasized. "We are amazing individuals." We don't need to be cured, said McIntyre, and autism happens so you might as well accept it and get used to it.
The paradigm for decades has been that doctors and NT therapists know what is best in terms of 'treating' autistics - the medical model - normalizing their behaviors, finding a cure, "because 'different' is bad."
A more evolved approach - the social model - is more agreeable to autistics, he says, as autistics and the NTs eliminate the stigma of autism.
"The social model ... changed my perspective permanently and for the better." McIntyre is talking about inclusion, giving a voice back to autistics to self advocate and say 'no' when they feel mistreated.
The media often portrays autistics in a way that annoys a lot of autistics, he added. Take Sheldon Copper from The Big Bang Theory. He's funny, says McIntyre, but, "The only problem with him is we don't like being compared to [that]. We don't like being known as the 'annoying smart guy.'"
So no stereotypes, please.
Autistics don't want to be thought of as anti-social, and don't even think for one second that autistics lack empathy.
"That one stabs me deeply in the heart," he said, because what he experiences is more like an overabundance of empathy for the world.
Describing what he meant, he said, "If you ever toss and turn in the night, think about all the world's gross problems ... all the people who are suffering, and you think to yourself, 'I wish I could eat the world's cancer and then come back for seconds,' then maybe you would know the empathy of autistics."
Another ableist idea is that autism can be defined by "mild" or "severe" - "low-functioning" and "high-functioning."
Carly Fleischmann is a famous autistic, author, and advocate who was considered low-functioning because of her behaviors, "stims" (self-stimulating repetitive activities a person does that gives them additional sensory and neurological input), and lack of speech.
"She can read at a superhuman speed and she's a brilliant writer," said McIntyre, calling Fleischmann one of his top ten famous autistics that he's heard of.
We have now entered a time when non-verbal and seemingly "low-functioning" autistics have access to more advanced technology, allowing them to communicate with the world, giving the NT world a peek into what it's like to be autistic. Read books by autistic people, McIntyre says, to really know what autism is like.
McIntyre is spreading the message of pro-autistic thinking, which focuses on the strengths of autistic people, using language like 'different, not less,' and 'differently-abled' instead of disabled. It celebrates accomplishments and doesn't view autistics as hopeless figures with no future and, most importantly, he said, "Pro-autistic thinkers never mutter or clamor for a cure."
Autistics do have empathy, and they are loyal, honest, and curious. They have special interests, passions, highly active imaginations, and are determined to make sense of the world, he said. We aren't judgmental. We are awkward yet endearing, have a knack for recognizing patterns, and can think often think in pictures and have killer memories, he said.
On the flip side, said McIntyre, "Autism is not a bowl of cherries."
There are some tough aspects to autism. Take eye contact, for example. "The eyes are the window of the soul," he said. "We can hear you too much, your emotions are too loud - they're over-stimulating."
And meltdowns. They're terrible, he said. Different from the typical "tantrum," meltdowns happen when there's sensory overload due to a sensory processing disorder. Sometimes emotions can be overwhelming, said McIntyre, causing him to lose control.
"It's like the breaking of a dam," he said. "...You cry, sometimes you run. I still have those, adults have them too, they just happen. Sensory overload, emotional overload, or we have trouble understanding the neurotypical world."
Things overheat, he said. "Things melt."
Autistics also face discrimination, have a hard time finding and keeping jobs, are often the targets of predators, have a hard time relating with NTs, especially socially, and experience anxiety, among other difficulties.
"But you get the good with the bad, right Mom?" said McIntyre to his mother, Miranda, seated in the audience.
Be an autism ally, he suggested. Be patient. Ask about their interests. Listen. Speak last. Stand up when someone's rights are violated. Encourage their talents. Accept their quirks. Don't mock them. And never assume an autistic cannot live a worthwhile life.
And if you are an autistic, said McIntyre, practice self advocacy. Get the formal diagnosis if you haven't yet. "See what you can accomplish yourself or individually with technology," he said.
"You know yourself, you know what you need. Never feel bad or weak," he said. "You need accommodations because the world isn't built around you."
And never, ever let anyone push you around.
"Go do what needs to be done and never give up."
McIntyre ended his presentation with the International Charter of Autists' Rights: the rights to life, humanity, parity, identity, safety, support, reputation, accuracy, and equality.
'Like' the Facebook page "Intelligent Autistic Media" to learn more from McIntyre and his colleagues. To join the pro-autistic conversation, ask to join the Facebook group "Pro-Autism Allies of Intelligent Autistic Media."
By Jean Perry
Turkey FOG - it's not that supposed tryptophan-induced Thanksgiving post-dinner coma that you, Grandpa, and everybody experiences after a heaping plate (or two) of a turkey-with-all-the-trimmings meal. That kind of turkey 'fog' can be remedied with a nap followed by a sweet slice of pecan pie to ground you back into your body.
No, this kind of turkey FOG is an acronym for the less-than-savory byproduct of a home-cooked Thanksgiving meal. This FOG includes, but is not limited to, the turkey, the drippings in the gravy, the buttery mashed potatoes and, if your family prefers the cheerful more contemporary version of a Thanksgiving turkey, the oil used to fry it in.
This is the story of FOG - fat, oil, and grease - and its destructive journey down your drain and through the sewage system.
FOG has made headlines in some places recently. Take London, for example. Enormous monster globs of FOG weighing tons are clogging up the pipelines and costing equally enormous globs of cash to mitigate. These FOG globs now have an actual name: fatbergs.
OK, so there are no official fatberg sightings in Marion or in Mattapoisett where a portion of residents receive municipal sewer service from the Fairhaven wastewater treatment facility. But FOG is still an issue, and it's one that holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas can exacerbate with every other house cooking a turkey with gobs of gravy and all the other buttery, fatty, greasy delights.
From pouring turkey fat down the drain, to rinsing off greasy pots, pans, and plates in the sink, to even flushing old leftovers down the toilet - all of this contributes to FOG causing extra wear and tear on grinder pumps and clogging up the sewer lines with fat, oil, and grease and wreaking havoc in municipal sewer systems everywhere. In the United States, in fact, it accounts for 47 percent of the 32,000 sewer overflows every year.
Frank Cooper is Marion's wastewater treatment plant supervisor, and he is an experienced FOG mitigator in his off-duty time. He says, although Thanksgiving (and Christmas) isn't solely responsible for any immediate and observable uptick in FOG in the sewage system, all those turkeys and all that greasy gravy surely contribute to wastewater woe.
"There's always grease," says Cooper. "There's always that kind of thing that's a concern to us. It's something that can be mitigated, but not eliminated."
Cooper knows exactly what FOG can do to sewer pipes and grinder pumps, having had many years' experience in the field of wastewater management, even long before he joined Marion.
Cooper lives in Mattapoisett, and while he is at home away from the wastewater treatment facility he runs, his respect for the system and how it works governs how he himself uses sewer service at home.
First, he never lets the grease run down the drain.
"If I fry in a pan, after it cools I take a paper towel and wipe it up and I throw it away in the trash," he said. "You actively remove the grease before it goes down the drain."
Bacon, steak... You can't avoid that stuff entirely, but the bacon grease and steak fat - and Thanksgiving turkey oils - travel from your house where it meets up with your neighbor's FOG and your neighbor's neighbors' FOG. Add all that in with the rest of the actual waste that belongs in the sewer line, including toilet paper but excluding pretty much everything else (including so-called 'flushable' wipes, another wastewater article topic entirely), it all mixes together and binds itself with FOG, making one big nasty mess.
In Marion, Cooper and his staff use different ways to emulsify or mitigate FOG in the lines. The preferred method is through the use of biology, employing trillions of microscopic bacteria to munch on and break down FOG buildup.
"We run a hose down the pipes to try to clean them out," said Cooper. "Stuff gets bound up in grease, and now you've got a large slug of grease and materials all bound up and trying to get through a pump."
At the wastewater treatment plant itself, there are further modes of mitigation of FOG to collect it and separate it from the clear water that will eventually flow to the outfall.
We know, all this wastewater talk isn't exactly the most appetizing of topics leading up to the Thanksgiving Day feast, but wastewater, historically, isn't the most soothing subject just before a town meeting, either. Wastewater treatment and sewer service costs money, and repairs add to that cost. So, ratepayers - you users of municipal sewer - the FOG begins with you, and it can stop with you.
Now, back to that Thanksgiving turkey...
"Let's look at the meal itself. If I'm cooking a turkey dinner," says Cooper (and yes, he has done that), you're making gravy from the drippings." After that, he added, "Even when people are done eating, you've got plates with a lot of grease on it."
What does the responsible one do with that? They consciously reduce their FOG contribution. They soak the grease up with paper towels and toss them into the trash before washing the plates and dishes - with a non-powder dish detergent, by the way. Cooper said powder soap wreaks havoc on sewer lines, acting much like grease when it doesn't fully dissolve before it goes down the drain.
One can also locate a local organization that welcomes used frying oil and recycles it into biofuel.
"When you make your mashed potatoes, let's face it," said Cooper. "There's going to be some butter in there."
And that spells F-O-G.
Over in Fairhaven, DPW Superintendent Vincent Furtado said pretty much the same as Cooper in Marion when it came to FOG concerns.
"Typically, even though there's a lot of turkeys cooking at the same time, the plant has no issue handling grease generated from households," Furtado said. "The only grease issues that we ever have in town do not occur at the treatment facility, but rather in the collection system where a sewer line will get blocked up from grease..." Especially from restaurants that cook with a lot of oils, he said.
But wait, you have a septic system so you don't have to worry about dumping your drippings down the drain? False.
Much like a municipal system, your septic system is designed to break down waste and toilet paper, and not much else. FOGs can still accumulate precisely because it cannot be broken down. What's more, the fat, oil, and grease build up in your plumbing and sewer line to the septic tank, potentially causing blockages before the grease even makes it to your septic tank.
We usually start things out by pouring fats and oils down the drain with warm water, but when the liquid cools, the grease and fats become a hardened mass.
The equation is simple, really: FOG + sewage waste = fatbergs
So, this Thanksgiving, when you're pouring that glorious gravy and watching it flow down into mashed potato mountain valleys, stop for a second and think about FOG - fat, oils, and grease - and what you can do to keep it where it belongs ... in your arteries, not in the sewer pipes.
Cultivating the Creative Habit
By Sarah French Storer
For as long as he can remember, Peter Mello has been taking pictures. From the age of eight, when his dad gave him his first camera, he has been looking through the lens and seeing the world as a photograph.
On Wednesday night at the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum, Mello shared the thoughts and philosophy driving the creative habit behind the images he has spent his entire life capturing.
In his professional life, Mello is the managing director and co-CEO of WaterFire in Providence, an art installation running through the heart of the city in the Woonasquatucket River. Mello says he has a hard time describing what he does and quoted one of his favorite photographers, Elliott Erwitt, who said, "The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don't have to explain things with words."
In chronicling the history of WaterFire in pictures over the last 23 years, Mello has tried to convey the ambiance as well as the determination and effort of the event.
In many of the photographer's WaterFire images, the subject is blurred with almost a mystical quality. Mello takes a photograph at the beginning of every WaterFire lighting and says, "As a photographer, we have a habit of trying to capture the perfect image."
For Mello, however, the subject is more important than the clarity of the image. He referred to Henri Cartier-Bresson's "decisive moment," the attempt to capture the balanced and definitive moment in a photograph.
Mello uses a cadre of volunteer photographers to shoot the event as well in an effort to capture photos that evoke the emotion and impact of the installation.
In his talk entitled "Chasing Light, Capturing Time and Other Creative Habits," Mello underscored the importance of always carrying a camera.
In the 1980s, Mello lived in New York City and did "run and gun street photography," capturing a bygone era of the city, like so many other street photographers before him. Now shooting many images with his iPhone as well, Mello described some of his personal projects.
The phrase "Creative Habit," which Mello attributes to the book title of choreographer and dancer Twyla Tharp, exemplifies Mello's approach to his projects. The common thread among the projects is his deep relationship to his surroundings.
"I feel like I see photography - I see photos everywhere I look," he said.
This personal connection to his photos is embodied in his effort to capture the subtle fluctuations in the sunrise over Ned's Point or the almost imperceptible variations from day to day of the mornings in Shipyard Park. As understated as those changes may be, Mello captures them, amassing 2,500 photos of mornings on Shipyard Park, for example - photos that illustrate the daily life in a small town.
Mello's photographs in "Mattapoisett Noir" shot with his iPhone provide a lens into an afterhours world seen through the eyes of an artist.
Cameras pick up what you can't see, Mello says, and with the nighttime images of Mattapoisett, editing can be important to assure that the photograph reflects what the photographer saw through the lens. The photos, which can be seen on Mello's Instagram page, depict "a dark, grainy noire space, free of people."
Mello quoted Dorothea Lange who said, "Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion..." in describing his passion for photographing his subjects. However, he does not consider himself a portrait photographer, as illustrated by a disastrous attempt at wedding photography when he brought a diaper bag rather than his camera to the wedding.
One of Mello's favorite subjects is photographing his two kids, Luke and Joy, describing the process as "watching them grown up, capturing the progression through his photographs.
"All my photos are personal," said Mello, later adding, "[They] happen because I want to challenge myself."
Mello is working on a new project in which he shoots a 60-second video every day and posts it on Instagram. Chronicling the vicissitudes of life appears to be Mello's calling, and in his hands the ordinary is elevated to art.
Special Town Meeting Warrant Highlights
Mattapoisett Finance Committee
By Marilou Newell
It's nearly the eve of Mattapoisett's Fall Special Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, November 27 at 6:30 pm in the auditorium at Old Rochester Regional High School. On November 20, the Mattapoisett Finance Committee met to do a final review of the 17 articles on the warrant and discuss any remaining questions or concerns.
Article 17 may be one of the more interesting articles the voters will handle. It asks for the appropriation of $55,000 from free cash to cover costs associated with securing easement rights, restorations, and relocations to make way for Phase 1B of the multi-use pedestrian path.
In a follow-up interview, Town Administrator Michael Gagne said improvements are planned for Reservation Road south of the boundary between the YMCA and the golf club. He said that a golf cart path would be relocated.
Goodspeed Island Road will also see some upgrades as it becomes a shared use roadway. Articles 6 and 7 ask voters to accept these roadway portions as public ways.
Vehicles would, however, continue to be prohibited from using Goodspeed Island Road, Gagne said, except for homeowners whose properties are located there. Public parking on Depot Street would continue to be free and without sticker regulations.
Gagne said, "This will go out to bid in May 2018 ... and construction sometime in the fall."
FinCom voted to support the article.
Another article voters may find of particular interest is Article 1.
Article 1 asks voters to give authority to the selectmen to "...pull all the sources of funding and grants together, pay for the land, and then the town may file with the federal government..."
Gagne said this was for the acquisition of and conservation restriction on property known as Old Hammond Quarry off Mattapoisett Neck Road.
Gagne stated in an email that the Mattapoisett Land Trust is also seek funding and "...the article merely bundles all funding sources together." No new Town money is being sought, he emphasized.
The Community Preservation Act granted $37,500 for the purchase during the May 2017 town meeting.
The purchase price of the Old Hammond Quarry parcel is $650,000. FinCom will be in support of Article 1.
Articles 2 and 3 ask voters to augment Water Department funding by $400,000 to help defray costs associated with Phase 3 refurbishment of wells, and $75,000 to remediate weakness in the public water main on Pease's Point.
Article 9 asks for $250,000 from free cash for continued improvements to town roads and streets. Both are supported by FinCom.
Other articles will ask voters to allow the movement of funds for security upgrades to local schools, the demolition of a structure on Town land near the police station, and waterfront improvements.
Finally, the voters will review a list of funds to supplement the FY18 budget for a total of $135,000 from free cash in Article 15. Line items are: $5,000 for shellfish propagation; $3,000 for care and maintenance of public shade trees; $16,000 for town hall floater staffing; $3,000 for care and repair of town cemeteries; $15,000 for part-time highway staff salaries; and $35,000 for benefit payments to a retiring town hall department head.
To review the full warrant, visit www.mattapoisett.net.
Wellspring Farms Granted Approval
Rochester Conservation Commission
By Jean Perry
The Rochester Conservation Commission on November 21 issued its approval for the Notice of Intent filed by Wellspring Farm, LLC of 42 Hiller Road to upgrade the existing driveway to satisfy Planning Board specifications.
Engineer Brad Holmes said the requested improvements to the driveway would include, most notably, the paving of the existing gravel driveway, in addition to grass water quality swales on either side of the drive.
Conservation Agent Laurell Farinon said the proposed project was certainly within the owners' rights, with the original OOC granted years ago for the gravel drive, and an upgrade of the driveway would certainly be appropriate.
"[The work] can be done without adverse impacts to wetlands," said Farinon.
All work will be done within the 100-foot buffer zone.
The project received an Order of Conditions with the stipulation that there be a pre-construction hearing at the site, at which time all erosion control barriers must be installed and reviewed by the commission.
In other matters, the commission granted a Request for a Certificate of Compliance submitted by JC Engineering, represented by John Churchill, for property at 1 Dr. Braley Road.
One of the conditions was issued to Churchill in December of 2015, allowing for the construction of a three-bedroom house along with an associated porch, deck, bituminous driveway, grading, landscaping, utilities, installation of a drinking well, and installation of a Title 5 septic system.
Churchill said there were some deviations from the plan that are very minor, and Conservation Commission Chairman Michael Conway was just curious as to why the foundation of the house was constructed three inches higher than it was proposed.
Churchill laughed it off, saying that he didn't know how that happened, but it was also very minor.
Farinon said she had been working with the applicant since last summer, and she had concerns about re-vegetation. After a site visit on November 8, Farinon said, "I think it looks very good, everything was well stabilized." There was one area of minor concern, she said, referring to it as one "weak spot."
"[An area] that I know they worked hard to remediate over time and I think it's under control," Farinon stated before recommending the Certificate of Compliance.
The Notice of Intent filed by Luis Coelho for property at 0 E/S Walnut Plain Road owned by Decas Cranberry that was continued from November 7 received permission to move forward.
Farinon recommended allowing the project as proposed, with the stipulations that a semi-permanent barrier be installed along the 25-foot No Disturb boundary line prior to occupancy, and secondly that a pre-construction meeting be held to review the barriers.
The NOI filed by Thomas Waterman of Waterman Realty Trust for property located at 0 E/S Walnut Plain Road was given a Positive Determination and an Order of Conditions on its first public hearing appearance before the commission.
Representative Bob Rogers pointed out that this plan was revised to show a smaller backyard, changing the tree line slightly from the original plan.
"Now would be the time to give whatever reasonable rear yard toward the No Touch that the commission would allow," said Rogers. The plan is to set up the fence in the proper spot so that no future owners would have different expectations of what is allowed.
The next meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission is scheduled for December 5 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Neighborhood Supports Wareham Street Proposal
Marion Planning Board
By Sarah French Storer
The small crowd that gathered at the Marion Planning Board meeting on November 20 spoke in favor of a redevelopment proposal for a property on Wareham Street that has been an eyesore for the neighborhood for years.
The proponents were represented by David Davignon of N. Douglas Schneider & Associates, who methodically went through the details of the project for the Site Plan Review.
The property at 111 Wareham Street is bounded to the south by Marvel Street, an unimproved private road. The proposed access to both parcels will be via Wareham Street, with a legal access easement for crossing to the back lot. A 60-foot by 100-foot Morton-style building is proposed for each parcel, with four garage bays in each.
The two owners of the lots, Tad Wallenhaupt and Alexander Urquhart, intend to occupy at least one bay in each building, with the intent of renting the other bays to tradesmen such as plumbers and carpenters.
The proposal provides ample paved parking for the employees of the tenants, with four spaces for each bay.
Davignon did note that the applicants are asking for a waiver for the setback requirements for the detention ponds, saying that in his opinion the requirements are unrealistic for a commercial development.
The Planning Board pushed back on this idea, with board member Jennifer Francis on speaker phone stating "I'm sure there is good reason for the setbacks. I'd like to know if they are okay with the peer reviewer." She added that she thought smaller buildings would solve the problem, implying that with reduced impervious surface, the ponds could be smaller and not require a waiver from setback requirements.
Traffic remained a concern for Marum, who had raised issues back in June about the proximity of the crest of the hill on Route 6 and the entrance to the site, noting her own near miss with a commercial truck recently.
Davignon came armed with accident data, which showed three accidents at the location in the last five years. Marum was not convinced and said she may still want to ask for a traffic study before granting the permit.
Francis raised the question of a landscaping plan, and Davignon described plantings that will screen the property from Route 6 and the neighbors. There are existing arborvitaes that will be trimmed back, but the proponents have no plans for removing any existing vegetative screening.
The Site Plan Review process may also require an environmental assessment of the site, which Francis also thought may be prudent due to the current conditions on the site. Davignon pointed out that the board had already waived this assessment at the meeting in June, and wondered aloud "I don't know if that is binding."
Neighbors to the project all spoke in favor of the proposal, noting that the property had been an eyesore for years.
Wallenhaupt lives directly behind the site and assured the board that the site will be hugely improved for the benefit of his neighbors and the entire town.
The board continued the public hearing pending the peer review letter from Tibbetts Engineering on behalf of the board and input from the fire chief on access and safety.
In other business, Bill Madden from G.A.F. Engineering, representing Luba Bilentschuk, presented an Approval Not Required application for a property located on Ridgewood Lane. Madden reminded the board that back in 2007 and 2010, a one-lot subdivision was created to show that the property could conform to the subdivision control laws. Now, the owners would like to market the property and would like to combine the buildable lot, known as Lot 23, with the 9,400 square-foot drainage easement lot, known as lot 23A.
The drainage easement lot was designed for drainage for the proposed road to access the building lot, as required by the subdivision control law. However, there will be only one house on this parcel, serviced by a driveway, and the parcel earmarked for drainage is unnecessary.
In response to Marum, who noticed that the property had come before the board in 2016, Madden said that the owners were required by the selectmen to show that they were able to convey 70 acres of land to a land trust as open space. Madden also felt that the wetland line will need to be reflagged and approved by the Conservation Commission. The parcel went through an interdepartmental review, in which the Fire Chief agreed to the 12-foot wide driveway.
The board approved the ANR plan.
The board performed a housekeeping measure in which they agreed to recommend that an article be placed on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant for a zoning change for land located on Spring Street. The change would be from General Business/Limited Industrial to Residence E.
After the vote, Planning Director Gil Hilario suggested he begin the process of gathering together a multi-board workshop, including the Planning Board, the Board of Selectmen, Department of Public Works, and other stakeholders. This workshop would be convened, as Hilario put it, to "develop a clear definition of what is going to happen."
Board member Will Saltonstall cautioned the board to be clear about its purpose. "[We are] not pre-negotiating terms of what the subdivision will be. Be very clear as a representative of the Planning Board [we are] just opening the door to discussion," he said.
Hilario added, "[We] cannot appear to endorse or prefer any development. Sherman [Briggs] has not been promised anything."
The next meeting of the Marion Planning Board is scheduled for December 4 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.
Marijuana Regulations a Joint Effort
Mattapoisett Planning Board
By Marilou Newell
On April 1, 2018, businesses may begin to apply for licenses to operate recreational marijuana establishments in cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth. On November 20, 2017, a mere six months from that date, the Mattapoisett Planning Board along with Police Chief Mary Lyons, Public Health Nurse Amanda Stone, and Town Administrator Michael Gagne, as well as members of the community heard the straight news - time is running out for local regulation of recreational marijuana.
Katherine Laughman, an attorney with Kopelman and Paige, the town's legal counsel, gave an in-depth presentation on the current state regulatory processes of medical marijuana and more importantly, what cities and towns can expect of statewide regulations after the April 1, 2018 roll out.
If cities and towns do not have bylaws in place by then, their right to regulate recreational marijuana activities at the local level will have gone up in smoke.
Laughman explained that zoning bylaws may be implemented along with prohibition(s), but such rules would require a town meeting vote. With Mattapoisett's Fall Special Town Meeting scheduled for Monday, November 28, Laughman suggested holding another special town meeting after the first of the year solely asking for a moratorium on recreational marijuana business activities.
Lyons advocated for a moratorium, airing her concerns that center around the sale of recreational marijuana, a "cash only business," making retail establishments prime targets for crime. She said that with the proximity of Interstate 195, criminals would have a quick getaway route. "Nothing's saying someone isn't already looking where they can put one near 195," Lyons said. "They're going to go where they can."
During the statewide elections in 2016, Mattapoisett voted 'No' on Question 4 that ultimately legalized recreational marijuana use in Massachusetts, but by a very slim margin. Board member Nathan Ketchell pointed out that it was 2,200 opposed, 2,073 in favor.
Planning Board Chairman Tom Tucker said, "If someone was on the fence about whether or not to allow it, hearing from Chief Lyons may tip them towards a moratorium."
Board members felt that residents who voted for legalization may have only been thinking about personal cultivation and use versus commercial sale, cultivation, and manufacturing within the township. With a public discussion, the board hopes to spark-up the conversation in an effort to determine exactly what the majority in the town wants.
Beyond a short-term moratorium, options as described by Laughman include local bylaws that might ban or place restrictions on "time, place, and manner" of marijuana sales. She said in the absence of local regulations, state requirements would be fully implemented. But with a moratorium in place, the town would have more time to weigh options.
Gagne said a panel that included the Board of Health, Board of Selectmen, public health nurse, and Police and Fire Department representatives was important to helping residents understand the full implications of recreational marijuana sales.
"The town has a character, an image," said Gagne, noting that the intensity and scale of what might come into the town could be problematic.
The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 4, at 7:00 pm with the venue to be announced. The public is urged to attend and participate in this critical conversation.
"If it's important to them, they will come," said Tucker, as some wondered if the holiday timing might impede community participation.
Other business handled on this night was a vote by the Planning Board to support acceptance of parts of Reservation Road and Goodspeed Island Road for Phase 1B of the Mattapoisett multi-use recreational path, a.k.a. bike path, for improvements mandated by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, and Perkins Lane off Harbor Road for a sewer easement.
The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for December 4 at 7:00 pm at a venue to be announced.
Bus Complaints Continue in Rochester
Rochester School Committee
By Jean Perry
Some Rochester parents aren't ready to drop the subject of the firing of former Route 5 bus driver Ralph Stinson, pressing the Rochester School Committee and Superintendent Douglas White on November 16 for a resolution to their ongoing concerns about Stinson's firing, as well as complaints about the replacement bus driver.
Some parents also complained that neither White nor the Braga Transportation bus company had returned emails and phone calls relative to parent concerns about one of the bus drivers that has since replaced Stinson.
Rhonda Baptiste said her son had ridden with Stinson driving the bus, and she never had any concerns about safety or quality of service. That now has changed, she said.
"You'd think that it would be a given that the bus driver would show up every day ... but it's not," Baptiste said, alleging that there have been some days this year that the bus has not even come to collect her child for school, and on at least one occasion did not stop to pick him up. Baptiste specified that it was not the regular bus driver she was complaining about, rather one of the substitute drivers.
"I am just here to say that Ralph is wonderful," said Baptiste," and it's really disheartening that the children don't have him on the bus."
Baptiste said she had contacted Braga several times and has heard nothing back. School Committee Chairman Tina Rood told Baptiste that concerns should first be addressed to Rochester Memorial School Principal Derek Medeiros who would then take her concerns to Braga.
"It's unfortunate that there's been no movement and no dialogue," said Baptiste. "It's disheartening ... that there's been no progress."
Elizabeth Souza, another parent, said she had received no response from calls or emails from White or the bus company. She claimed one bus driver has been arriving in the morning at different times and not signaling or stopping to wait.
"Your job is to make sure that every child is to and from school," said Souza, her voice getting louder. "I'm chasing the bus!"
"Then we need to address that," said Rood. The best way to communicate is by calling Medeiros, Rood said, advising other parents as well. "We understand your frustration."
But Souza continued, adding, "If Ralph was early, he would slow up with his yellow lights flashing approaching my stop. She doesn't even put her yellow lights on. She's just like 'vroom!'"
"First and foremost," Rood told Souza, "your concerns need to be addressed. Let's get that done..."
During the October 12 meeting, when parents first brought their concerns to the committee, White disclosed that Stinson had been switched from Bus 5 because one student was not being transported to school, which is in violation of the transportation company's contract with the schools.
This time Stinson himself was seated in the room during the discussion. After he was given clarification on the proper procedure for parents to follow should they have a concern - phoning Medeiros first before the bus company - Stinson said, "So I paid the price because they didn't go to them (Medeiros)?"
"We're working towards a resolution together," Rood said.
In other matters, Medeiros gave a presentation on the highlights of the 2017 MCAS scores.
Beginning with Grade 5 science, Medeiros was happy to report that recent science and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) coaching of teachers has resulted in 70 percent of fifth-graders scoring in the proficient or exceeding expectations category, which is 24 percent higher than the state average.
With further science curriculum development and teacher training, Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos said, "I think you will see even greater performance on such standardizes tests."
In ELA, just about 57 percent of students school-wide scored either at or above the 500 mark - not quite the 60 to 65 percent goal, Medeiros said, but this was the first year of this MCAS format.
For math, 51 percent of students school-wide scored at or above 500. The state average was 48 percent this first year of the tests, and again, Medeiros said, the goal for next year will be 60 to 65 % meeting or exceeding expectations.
The student growth score was at 66 percent, though, said Medeiros with optimism. Student growth score reflects individual progress of students year after year.
"So we see that our students are growing, and that's great," said Medeiros.
The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee is scheduled for January 4 at 6:30 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.
Drama Club Makes Noise in Noises Off!
By Jo Caynon
Contrary to its name, the ORRHS drama production Noises Off! was certainly not quiet.
Each night, the audience found themselves in stitches as they laughed at the on-stage antics of the cast.
Although the show revolved around a dysfunctional theater company and their doomed play, the scale and talent involved in the high school production showed the strength of the club.
"It's a really difficult show to get right, and each cast did so well," said Alice Bednarczyk. She was in Cast A and played the part of Belinda Blair, a motherly but gossipy actress who tries to keep the play running smoothly. "The nice thing about this show was that if we did mess up, no one can tell because that's the whole point of the show. Everyone proved themselves to be able to improve if something didn't go perfectly, and each of the individual casts became a close-knit family."
Cast B member Paul Kippenberger played Freddie Fellows, a fairly anxious actor who got a bloody nose at the sight or mention of blood or violence.
"Our days were pretty good as well," Kippenberger said. "Everyone worked really hard, and since there was laughing, our effort definitely paid off. I know jumping up the stairs with my pants around my ankles was my favorite part, and that drew lots of laughter and cheering."
The first act followed the actors at their last rehearsal before opening night and set up the various relationships between the characters. From the start, the audience was drawn in as Christian Hotte or Nick Claudio, depending on who played the director Lloyd Dallas that night, spoke out from the back row to criticize the onstage actor.
"It was the first chance I had to really use my voice so much in a play, and I learned how to use it in new and interesting ways," said Hotte. His strong and deep voice gave his role an air of faux superiority over the other characters.
A difference compared to other productions was that the audience also saw the changing of the set during each intermission, as the house backdrop was spun 180 degrees for the second act to show the backstage drama of the group's play a month into their run.
The third and final act showed the deteriorated play three months into its tour, and all heck breaks loose as props are broken, lines are forgotten, and actors are at each other's throats.
Of course, it's all just impressive acting on stage.
"Aside from my castmates all being incredibly talented, I have never met such a large collection of genuinely nice people all in one place," Hotte commented.
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