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Keeping the Community Afloat

The Winners of the 2014 Wanderer Keel Awards

By Jean Perry

The communities of our Tri-Town are special, and what makes them special are the people who live in them, the people who work in them, govern them, and those that volunteer their time for the highest good of their town.

This is why, once a year, we at The Wanderer are excited to bring forward three distinctive people from each of the three towns to recognize their hours of community service and honor their innumerable contributions that keep each of the communities afloat, like the keel of a ship that keeps the vessel from capsizing.

This year, citizens from each town submitted the names of some pretty spectacular nominees for the 2014 Wanderer Keel Award. Three of them really stood out to us, and we are thrilled to announce the winners of this year's award: From Mattapoisett, Jennifer Shepley; from Marion, Hanna Milhench; and from Rochester, Kate Lanagan MacGregor.

Shepley is president of the Friends of the Library and also often assists with events sponsored by the Mattapoisett Women's Club that raise money for scholarships. Shepley acts as Garden Tour captain, organizing and staffing the gardens on the tour, and assists with monthly Women's Clubs meetings, often during her lunch hour from work.

Recently, Shepley was also the chairperson for fundraising for the Mattapoisett Congregational Church mission trip to Appalachia.

"I do all the bossy jobs," said Shepley, jokingly. "I boss people around for both fun and recreation."

Hanna Milhench is a pillar at Saint Gabriel's Church in Marion, volunteering her time to projects devoted to helping others. She has managed "Friendship Tables," a free community-wide monthly supper held at the church, and also spearheaded St. Gabriel's "Gardens by the Sea" garden tour, raising funds for community efforts such as "Damien's Pantry" and "Community Resources Network."

"I'm sure Hanna does more good deeds that I am unaware of, but I think these listed deeds make her a good candidate for [The Wanderer] Keel Award," said Elizabeth Brainard, who nominated Milhench for the award. "She is indeed an unsung heroine!"

Kate Lanagan MacGregor's latest project has been what she calls a "furniture exchange" effort to help those starting out or starting over in life. As a realtor, MacGregor said she sees a lot of people starting off in tough situations, so she began collecting unwanted furniture from clients as they moved out of their houses and storing it in her garage. She has joined up with Mercy Meals and More of New Bedford as a way of assisting those most in need. She said she is spearheading the Bold Day Foundation to help people out who are just "starting back up again."

"I volunteer when I can," said MacGregor. She helps out at road races, the Annual Rochester Memorial Boat Race, and in the past she has coached and served on the Rochester School Committee.

"I believe that you should give without any expectations of an outcome," said MacGregor. "I kind of help out when I can."

The Wanderer congratulates our three 2014 Wanderer Keel Award winners and thanks those who submitted nominations to bring these outstanding citizens to the forefront to be honored and recognized for the good work they are doing in our community. Do you know anyone else in the community who deserves recognition? Email us at news@wanderer.com so we can get the word out about all the great things Tri-Towners are doing to make a difference!

Marion's Oldest Resident Honored

By Jean Perry

One Marion woman has just been recognized as the Town of Marion's oldest resident - and she has the Boston Post Cane to prove it.

Margaret Nye, born on March 1, 1916, sat like a celebrity in her recliner in the living room of her Converse Road home on July 19, surrounded by family, members of the press, and Selectman Jody Dickerson.

Dickerson held in his hand the Town's 106 year-old Boston Post Cane, a tradition among New England towns that started back in 1908 to honor the town's oldest resident. That afternoon, Dickerson passed that cane on to 98 year-old Nye, congratulating her on behalf of the Town of Marion and granting her the status as the oldest resident of Marion.

"It's a real honor," said Nye's daughter Diane Kelly to her mother, leaning in closely to get a good look at the cane's details.

Nye was born in Newport, Rhode Island and relocated to Marion with her family in the 1950s where she has lived ever since.

"You've still got three more years to beat Nana," said Nye's grandson, Will Huggins.

Nye's two children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren reminisced about Nye's mother who lived to be 101 years old.

"I think she's gonna make it," said Kelly. "She's pretty healthy."

In 1908, the now defunct Boston Post distributed the canes made of ebony and topped with gold to 700 New England towns. The cane was passed on to the town's oldest living male resident until 1930 when the honor was extended to include women. Over the years, many towns have lost their Boston Post Canes, either through damage or theft.

"We lost it for a few years," said Dickerson. "But then it was recovered."

In order to keep the tradition alive, Dickerson said Nye would be allowed to hold onto the Boston Post Cane for a couple of weeks to show off to her friends and family members, but after that, the cane will be returned to the Town House where it will be protected and on display.

The gold head of the cane inscription reads, "Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of Marion, Mass - To be transmitted."

Dickerson said, following tradition, Nye's initials will be engraved into the cane within the next few weeks.

The Mystery of the Mattapoisett Ring

By Jean Perry

Have you heard the one about the woman who found the gold wedding band on the beach in Mattapoisett? We have, too - over and over.

Back in April, a woman's post about a gold wedding band with an inscription bearing the initials of the couple and the date 7-5-52 started popping up in people's newsfeeds on Facebook. A woman allegedly named Lynne Ames, who claimed she found the ring on the beach while visiting Mattapoisett, created the post and, months later, that Facebook status has been shared well over half a million times.

The day in April when we first heard about the gold ring post, we attempted to contact Ames on Facebook through a private message, asking her for more details about the discovery. We never heard back from her.

Since then, several of our loyal readers have forwarded us Ames's Facebook post, which of course, we always appreciate every time the community reaches out to us about the goings-on in Tri-Town. The problem is, no one seems to know Ames personally, no one knows how to contact Ames directly, and no one appears to know any of Ames's family or friends, either. In addition to that, Ames offers the public no option on her Facebook page to friend request her, and Facebook also lists Ames as a male. We began to sense a few red flags, which led us to ask, is this mystery ring for real, or is this some kind of Internet scam?

The "gold ring scam" is no new concept. Travelers to foreign countries especially have fallen for this one. The concept is simple. A scam artist bends down to seemingly pick a gold wedding ring up off the ground. They then ask the unsuspecting tourist if it is their ring. They act so concerned about the person who lost it and present themselves as the do-gooder and then wind up asking the tourist if they have a few extra bucks to spare. Could this just be an online version of this simple yet, apparently, effective con?

If you personally know Lynne Ames, or if you have contact with any of her friends, we want to hear from you. If you have had any contact with the Lynne Ames who allegedly found this gold ring on the beach, we would like to hear from you.

The date from Ames's public Facebook post from April was recently changed to June, and since we last checked it on July 22, the post has disappeared entirely from the page.

Alas, we are skeptical of Ames and her supposed mystery wedding ring found on a Mattapoisett Beach. But who doesn't love a good mystery?

If you have any information Ames or the wedding band, email us at news@wanderer.com. If you can give us any information leading to Ames, we won't give you any money, but how about a free aardvark T-shirt?

Plumb Library Looks Forward to Expansion

By Renae Reints

"Right now we're waiting for permits," said Gail Roberts, director of the Joseph H. Plumb Memorial Library, "We've been waiting a long time."

It was eight years ago, when she was being interviewed for the director position, that Roberts first recognized the potential of expanding the library into the basement. Since then, a steady flow of legalities and other projects have prevented the basement from being put to good use. The siding had to be replaced; the ramp's angle wasn't up to code. Now the cupola is leaking and the bulkhead doorframe has to be raised. "Just little things that happen with buildings," said Roberts.

That's not to say no useful projects have been completed in recent years. "There's a small meeting room below the vestibule that was finished a couple of years ago, and last year that really started getting used," explained Roberts.

Girl Scouts, tutors, and a new Minecraft club have made great use of this small room, but the library hopes to offer more to the community. While the small room can hold up to twenty people, the basement floor remains an unfinished expanse with the potential to seat thirty or more. Roberts sees this space becoming a great free public meeting room for Rochester.

"Libraries are becoming more and more community centers and less repositories for books," Roberts noted. With a finished basement, "It would give them a free, eventually handicap accessible meeting room space," she said.

The "handicap accessible" part is where things get tricky. The library is going to have to put in an elevator large enough to hold one person in a wheelchair and one person standing. Roberts compared the design to a chair lift. "It's small, but you have to have it. If you want publically open meeting room space, it has to be handicap accessible," she said.

While this will take up some space upstairs, the benefits outweigh the costs. The basement meeting room will be open to everyone, allowing the library to hold their larger programs on site.

"For our book sale we have to move everything to the church and then move it all back," Roberts explained, "When the basement is done we can have the book sale down there."

But for now, the waiting game continues. Work on the basement almost began under Rochester's previous facilities manager, but then necessary work on the elementary school occupied him. This year, Rochester has a new facilities manager, Andrew Daniel. When he came on board, the library essentially had to start over on the basement project.

"The design and the permit stage took so long that now we have to work with the elevator company again," said Roberts, "The estimate is now higher, because when you wait a long time for things, costs go up."

The elevator alone is estimated to cost up to $35,000. With a grant from Makepeace, money from Covanta, and other donations, the library has about $52,000 to complete the basement construction. "Barring anything else, it should cover everything," said Roberts. However, she did note that the library is always looking for more donations, as unexpected costs come up during large projects such as this.

"The Friends [of the Plumb Memorial Library] are going to start raising money to furnish," said Roberts, "So we can have enough chairs for seating for thirty, we're going to see if people want to buy a chair in memory of somebody, or honor of somebody, and we can get a little plaque and put it on the back of the chair."

Community members interested in supporting the library's efforts to expand may contribute by participating in this buy-a-chair fundraiser, donating, or volunteering their time. The book sale at the upcoming Rochester Country Fair is one of the Friends' best fundraisers; those interested may volunteer to work the stand or donate books to sell.

"Any little bit helps," said Roberts, adding that community members may contact the Friends, library Trustees, or Gail Roberts herself if they'd like to help out.

With all the plans in place, Roberts is hopeful the little updates will soon be done so the basement project can begin. "Everything should be done properly and I'm happy to wait while that goes on, but it does get a little frustrating," she said.

After years of waiting, Roberts remains assertive yet optimistic, saying, "We're very lucky here to have a nice supportive town like this, but I think we need to show that we really need this space."

Hayden Bergeron: An Inspiring Youth

By Jacqueline Hatch

During the long summer months, students who have moved home from school often have trouble filling their free time. The phrase, "Mom, I'm bored" is the most frequent one to land upon parents' ears around this time of year.

But there is one local youth local who decided to take matters into his own hands and create fun, unique activities to pass the time. Hayden Bergeron is 18 years old, a recent Old Rochester Regional graduate and soon to be UMass Dartmouth student, and a driven young entrepreneur. He has lived in Rochester his entire life with six siblings and an incredibly strong mother who have helped shape him into the man he is today.

I had the pleasure of getting to know Hayden through the volunteer landscaping work he does on the weekends in Marion. For the past two summers, Hayden has pulled into my driveway promptly at 9:00 am to begin working. This past Sunday, as I dragged myself outside with a cup of coffee and my journal - my mind barely awake - I noticed that Hayden was already well into his work. He seemed calm and at ease, moving diligently around the yard in the pale morning light. As we spoke about his hobbies and summer plans, I realized that this landscaping job was only just scratching the surface.

Hayden and his siblings have come up with a myriad of ways to pass the time during the summer months. In his spare time, Hayden collects silver currency (coins and dollars) to sell on eBay. One of his younger siblings has accumulated a large collection of baseball cards and autographs to sell to interested buyers. In addition, Hayden is currently growing the hottest chili pepper in the world: the "Carolina Reaper", which he says will most likely be eaten by one of his friends.

On top of all of these various jobs and hobbies, Hayden also works full time for a construction company during the week. In the little free time he has left, Hayden likes to play basketball, football, and lacrosse with his friends, and enjoys moments with the people who are closest to him. On the weekends, Mrs. Bergeron gathers all of her children (including three adopted from Haiti) for an outing to Church in the Pines. According to Hayden, this outing is a special time for siblings to bond, as religion continues to play an important role in Bergeron family dynamics.

It is clear that the Bergeron clan always makes the most of their free time, often finding new and interesting ways to spend their days. Hayden balances his life with the right amount of work and play, and continues to make family a top priority. I think this family could be an inspiration to all of us who are looking to fill time as the season draws to a close.

So as the summer winds down and your kids are wondering what to do with themselves, remember that time is what we make of it. There are always new, creative ways to fill the hottest months. So open up that paint set you've been dying to use. Or do some gardening. Practice a song or take a walk with a friend. But no matter what you wish to do to fill your days, make the most of the time that is given to you. Make some memories you will never forget.

Where Houses Speak

This Mattapoisett Life

By Marilou Newell

He warned us that he'd jump from current day to many centuries prior, so we strapped on our virtual seat belts and began our journey. Speaking almost without pause except when passersby cheerily greeted him with a "Good to see you," Seth Mendell transported us during his walking tour of Mattapoisett. This special event was one of many being offered by the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum. Certainly no one would have been better suited as our guide.

Mendell's historical knowledge, not only of Mattapoisett but of much of New England and beyond, pours from him like the outgoing tide at Eel Pond. One finds oneself taken back in time as he describes the people, the industries, and the structures that comprised those yesteryears.

Stepping off from the Christian Church that houses the Mattapoisett Historical Society Museum, he began the hour and 15 minute tour that took us back and forth in time - a time Mendell has forged in his memory bank.

Of the museum, he said that a man by the name of Elder Faunce set up a trust for the church building that at some point in its own history was claimed by the Baptists, hence the name of the street that runs along the west side of the property. In 1958, the newly-founded historical society - yes, Mendell's ancestors were part of that group - partnered with the church trustees to give the town its precious gem of a museum. In 1968, the society built the carriage house. Today, the rental agreement between the society and the church trustees continues in what he described as a type of 'Hong Kong' lease.

In 1821, the shipbuilding industry of Mattapoisett was in full swing. But prior to that, the first settlements were along the river where agriculture was the primary focus. It wasn't until the 1800s that shipbuilding became a major industry for this tiny community.

As Mendell explained, by the 1800s whales had been so heavily fished in local waters that the hunt went farther and farther away from the shores of New England and Nantucket. All one need do is read Melville to glimpse that reality.

Nantucket had been the major whaleboat building location, producing small ships able to ply the Sound, Cape Cod Bay, Buzzards Bay, and other coastal locations. As larger ships became necessary for longer sea voyages, Nantucket's shallow harbor couldn't handle the bigger boats. Enter New Bedford and Mattapoisett.

Ship builders whose talents became regarded as the best available moved to Mattapoisett and set up shop. Thus, this area was thrust into an industry that for many decades to come was in high demand.

As we strolled from the museum, there didn't seem to be a building that Mendell could pass that didn't speak a memory to him worth sharing or a story worth elaborating upon.

Take the Town Hall for instance. Town Hall was built in 1896 and for that specific purpose. Four investors - one being George Purrington, a forefather of Mendell - funded its construction. Early on, it also housed the first fire and police departments. He said he remembered a large metal cage inside the first floor where the cops would lock-up those who wandered outside the lines of the law.

The Town Hall's second floor was a large open space used for dances, town meetings, movies and other gatherings. He recalled watching newsreels on sweltering summer evenings while sitting on hard benches: A far cry from the lavish movie theaters of today. He pointed out that the small tower we see today on the Town Hall building had once been another story higher. Like many buildings he described during the tour, the Town Hall suffered severe damage from the 1938 hurricane. That was when it lost the top of its tower, which never returned to its former height.

He pointed out 6 Church Street as a home once belonging to a Mr. Tabor, a whale-man. Not to be confused with whale-boat captains, whale-men worked on the boats and also earned vast sums of money during the height of the whale oil demand. 4 Church Street belonged to Mr. Johnson, a cabinet maker. Mendell said that there were many shops sprinkled up and down the village streets, many taverns and public houses, boarding establishments and other businesses. As the shipbuilding companies proliferated and prospered in Mattapoisett, supporting enterprises were needed to supply the population with its needs for goods, food, drink and lodgings.

Across from Ellis Square, the apartment building at 13A and 13B Main Street was once a store owned by a retired whale-man named Eldridge Caswell. At this intersection, he also described the introduction of modern transportation: the electric rail. It ran up Church Street to where Oxford Creamery is today. He told us about mass transportation hubs from New Bedford to Onset long before the automobile became America's most-loved machine. My own maternal great-grandparents, the Ransoms, traveled on those rail cars from New Bedford where they lived all the way to Onset by the bay. My grandparents eventually moved to Onset, but continued to travel through Mattapoisett on their way to New Bedford to do the monthly shopping. They must have disembarked here in Mattapoisett and found it a restful place indeed. They have long rested in Cushing Cemetery along with their daughter, my grandmother. But I digress.

14 Main Street was a restaurant owned by Mr. and Mrs. Barrows called 'Anchorage By The Bay'. Prior to being at this location, it sat squarely in the middle of what is today Shipyard Park. Again, the 1938 hurricane had its way, smashing that panoramic multi-paned eating place with explosive power. The Barrows reopened a bit farther from the open winds and waters.

12 Main Street was also a tavern in the 1800s and ol' Solomon Leach's binnacle shop was located in the back. For those, like me, who don't know what a binnacle is, it is the housing around a compass.

Moving farther along, Mendell said that three houses along Main Street (6, 8, and 10) were owned by the Rodgers brothers. They had relocated from Nantucket when those larger whaling ships were in demand and brought with them much sought after expertise. Like many early residents, the Rodgers family shared their wealth and good fortunes. They helped fund Center School.

Pointing across Main Street to the marshlands, he said that in the 1800s it was not as filled in and vegetated as it is now. One of the Rodgers brothers was able to build and float a whaling ship there, which is something our modern minds might have a hard time conceiving.

Stopping at what is today the Mattapoisett Land Trust's 'Munro Property' across the street from what was the Willis house at the corner of Pearl and Main, Mendell told us about the three-story mansion that was wiped out in the 1938 hurricane. Collective memory being what it was at the time, no one remembered a hurricane powerful enough to demolish a structure so sturdily built. So Lewis Stackpole built his huge home on the beach area now belonging to the "Sands" resort. All that paradise ended in the fateful 1938 hurricane.

While standing at this lovely site, Mendell told us about the War of 1812 - which actually was three years long - and the advance into our harbor of the British ship, HMS Nimrod, in September 1814. The mistress of the Willis house (2 Main Street built by Elijah Willis) ran to the Olive Branch School (the yellow house now situated across the street from Center School) where she rang the bell, warning the residents that the British were coming. The Mattapoisett militia was successful in turning back the British. The Brits headed north to Wareham where they burned everything in sight.

As we reached the wharves where so many people today enjoy Mattapoisett's waterfront, Mendell said that many shipbuilders established their businesses here cheek to jowl. The land needed to set up a shipbuilding shop only needed to be as wide as the ship itself. Therefore, many shops lined the waterfront in narrow strips. Names such as Cannon (more than one), Barstow, Holmes, Hammond, and Meggs worked side-by-side in friendly competition. There was plenty of work for all.

Other slices of life from by-gone days that Mendell imparted include: Cannon Street was known as 'clam shell alley' because the residents would throw their shells onto the street to keep the dust down; 7 Water Street (which is adorned with a plaque) was the home of Francis Davis Millett who went down with the Titanic in 1912; Goodspeed Island was the site of a major salt works, an industry that helped the financial solvency of the area; entering the town from the harbor must have been quite a sight, Mendell speculated, with windmills for the salt works and giant whale ships riding high in cradles in various stages of completion; the YMCA building was a mansion built by Charles King who had his own rail car called 'The Dude Special'; King was also responsible for building the Reservation Golf Course; 1 Water Street, built in 1746, is claimed to be the oldest house in Mattapoisett; the Wanderer and the Acushnet of Melville fame were built in Mattapoisett; the Inn was once the Meggs Tavern.

The tour ended where it began - at the museum - and was certainly only a small taste of all the history Mendell could share. It was just all the history his 81-year old frame could impart at that moment.

The Mendells now spend the summer months here and the winter months in Florida. While he is here, though, Mendell will be involved in enriching the historical experiences available through programs at the Mattapoisett Historical Society and other venues.

If you have an opportunity to hear Seth Mendell speak about the people, places and events of the past, do yourself a favor: Go and absorb all you can. People like Mendell, with such a depth of knowledge, are treasures to us all.

Tri-Town Police Battle Break-ins

By Sean McCarthy

Tri-Town tranquility has been interrupted recently by a string of home and vehicle break-ins, but the teamwork of local authorities is making progress towards bringing the thieves to justice.

After their town experienced multiple break-ins of houses and vehicles, the Rochester Police Department announced Friday, July 18 that they made an arrest in one of the break-ins, and that they believe the suspect could possibly be linked to other crimes in their town.

Rochester Officer Kevin Flynn, in conjunction with the Freetown Police Department, obtained an arrest warrant for 24-year old Kelly F. Sorelle of Dr. Braley Road in Freetown as a result of his investigation with a break-in on Benson Road in Rochester.

Police allege that Sorelle tripped the alarm at the Benson Road home after gaining entry through a window, and she fled out the front door prior to police arrival. Nothing was taken from the home.

Sorelle was taken into custody on Thursday, July 17. Police are investigating whether Sorelle could be connected to some of the other break-ins that have recently occurred in the town. She is being charged with breaking and entering in the daytime, trespassing, and destruction of property.

Rochester Chief of Police Paul Magee praised the work of his officers on this case in a press release dated July 18, saying, "The patrol staff has been working hard to solve these cases. They are committed to catching the people responsible."

The chief also praised the cooperation between departments.

"Because Rochester, Freetown and the Plymouth County Sheriff's Department worked together so well, cases like these get solved."

The Mattapoisett Police Department is also working with area towns to solve two car break-ins. The first one occurred at Crescent Beach at night in the first week of July when a car window was broken and some loose change was stolen. Another car window was broken at the parking lot of Turk's Restaurant on 83 Marion Road at approximately 5:00 pm.

Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons said during a phone interview on July 21 that the two break-ins might be related.

"If you see something suspicious, call us immediately," said Lyons. "Always remember to lock up your cars and remove your valuables."

Marion has experienced two break-ins and a stolen vehicle, beginning with a car being broken into on the evening of Friday, July 11. The passenger side window was smashed and a pocketbook was stolen from the front seat.

Two crimes took place on Tuesday, July 15 when a truck was stolen after 11:00 pm on Briggs Lane and the owner's debit card was used some hours later in Fall River. On the morning of July 16, a neighbor discovered that their license plate had been stolen the night before. That same night, a car was broken into on Inland Road when a window was smashed and a wallet was taken.

As of press time, no additional break-ins have been reported in any of the three towns.

Summer Members Art Show Back at the MAC

By Jean Perry

The Members' Art Shows, which take place twice a year in winter and in summer, are Marion Art Center Executive Director Deborah Bokelkamp's favorite annual shows at the MAC.

"The members' shows have always been a big part of what we do," said Bokelkamp at the July 19 opening reception for the exhibition. "It always amazes me what a talented membership we have."

Members of the MAC are allowed to submit up to three works of art for the juried art exhibition that runs until August 16.

Many of the works on display naturally reflect hints of summer, although summer-themed works of art were not required for consideration for the exhibition.

Still lifes of bright blossoms and ripened fruits tempt the onlooker to enter inside the world of the painting to smell the succulent blossoms and taste the tantalizing fruit, while watercolors capture moments of boats gently bobbing in the bay and sandcastles on the beach that exist forever in artist's brushstrokes.

MAC member Alice Shire's two pieces hang thoughtfully placed on the gallery walls. Her favorite of the two is a watercolor that hangs on the wall of the first floor - a summery bouquet of delicate yellow and purple flowers with three soft white roses. She said her other "boathouse inventory" watercolor that she started during a watercolor workshop took her three years to complete.

"Everybody was painting boats and harbor scenes - and I don't do boats," Shire laughed.

Mary Ross said she has been participating in the Summer Members' Art Show practically every year. Her collage of color-dyed hand-made textured paper conjures up a dream-like Florida beach scene with soft subtle hues of sunrise.

"I was down in Florida," said Ross, about the inspiration for this particular piece. "So you sit on the beach - what else do you got?"

Diane Parsons said she is still learning the art of watercolor, but by looking at her painting titled "Florence," one would assume Parsons has found her connection between her imagination, her paintbrush, and the canvas.

Parsons painted the scene of the dome in Florence while remembering her trip to Italy two years ago and the dome was her favorite spot. She said she painted it for her daughter-in-law, but admitted it has been quite some time now and wondered if she could ever give it up at this point.

"I love painting Italy," said Parsons. "Because I just love the memories."

There are over 75 other wonderful works of art on display at the MAC, located at 80 Pleasant Street in Marion. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 1:00 to 5:00 pm, and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The Marion Art Center was formed 57 years ago by townspeople who wanted to create a place where they could display their artwork. Bokelkamp said she loves the MAC's mission statement as "an association to promote the arts, social fellowship, and companionship among its members ... to interchange ideas and assist each other in helpful guidance..."

"It's a beautiful reason to be," said Bokelkamp.

Hathaway Pond Dam & Fish Ladder

By Arthur F. Benner

President, Alewives Anonymous, Inc.

A lot of water has gone over the Hathaway Pond Dam since the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC) acquired the Hampson property in 2011 in Rochester where the dam is located. At that time, their plan was to remove the dam and restore the area to its natural state as it was before the dam was built in 1804, hence lowering the pond area to a stream bed.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Office of Dam Safety (ODS) had previously classified the dam as in an unsafe condition and a potential threat to life and/or property downstream. To resolve the unsafe conditions, several options were proposed in the Hathaway Pond Dam Feasibility Study prepared by Inter-fluve Inc. for BBC. Those options were: (1) complete restoration of the dam; (2) a partial restoration of the dam; and (3) removal of the dam and earthen berm with construction of a pedestrian bridge. Estimates ranged from approximately $650,000 to $227,000 respectively. BBC's choice was for complete removal of the dam.

That proposal was met head on with resistance from property owners on the pond, agricultural interests that depended on the water resource for maintaining ground water levels, irrigation, frost control and harvesting cranberries and Alewives Anonymous, Inc. that viewed Hathaway Pond as the primary spawning area for herring in the Sippican River as the recently installed ladder at Leonard's Pond had not yet proven effective for fish passage into the pond.

Efforts were started to 'Save Hathaway Pond'. Greenwood 'Woody' Hartley III began circulating a petition seeking signatures of the landowners, farmers, environmentalists, taxpayers and citizens of Rochester, Marion and the surrounding towns that wanted the dam at Hathaway Pond to remain and be repaired as the pond and its surrounding ecosystem provided a healthy and important environment to the citizens and wildlife of the area. Approximately 450 signatures were gathered. Representative Bill Strauss, speaking at a public meeting of the Rochester Conservation Commission, pointed out both the historical significance and socio-economic issues associated with preserving the dam and pond, supporting the neighborhood, local farmers and AA.

Also the issue of the 'Unsafe' classification of the dam was brought forward to be reevaluated. Hartley-Rhodes, Inc. contracted with GeoEnvironmental, Inc. (GZA) to perform a study of the Sippican River watershed. GZA compiled and released the Hazard Classification Assessment of Hathaway Pond Dam and pointed out in their findings that the impact of the dam's failure, even during the most unusual weather events, would be minimal. Their opinion was that ODS should consider downgrading the hazard/unsafe classification of Hathaway Pond Dam to 'Low Hazard'. With that report and the recommendation, Hartley-Rhodes submitted an Application to Change Hazard Classification to ODS.

The Office of Dam Safety determined that it would change the classification of the dam to Low Hazard in December 2011. In February 2012, ODS additionally ruled that the dam property is indeed 'land in agricultural use' and exempt from their rules and regulations.

Beaton's Inc. received deeded water rights to the pond along with authority to maintain and repair the dam for agricultural purposes when they purchased the Hiller cranberry property.

Negotiations between Beaton's Inc. and BBC were initiated to reach an amicable agreement. The eventual outcome was that ownership of the dam property would be transferred to Beaton's Inc. and also, among other things, improved fish passage would be incorporated into the dam.

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries provided a section of aluminum Alaskan steep pass fish ladder.

Doug Beaton contracted with EA Engineering, Science, and Technology from Warwick, RI, to design plans for the new fish ladder to be installed in one of the spillways of the dam. Other dam maintenance and improvements were also planned.

The framework and supporting structure for the ladder were fabricated at Beaton Inc's workshop.

AA established the Hathaway Pond Dam Ladder Fund to help offset expenses of the new ladder. The AA members, the many supporters of the 'Save Hathaway Pond' campaign, the environmentally-minded citizens of Rochester, as well as those from our surrounding communities and local business, responded with a financial commitment to help the project along.

The required hearings were held and permits from the Rochester Conservation Commission were granted in early 2013 and construction was started in March. Part of the installation was completed before the anticipated herring migration started, but conditions didn't allow for completion until August of 2013.

During the Alewives Anonymous, Inc. Annual Meeting on April 27, 2014, it was announced that AA would transfer to Beaton's Inc., the donations collected - AA monies earmarked specifically for Sippican River improvements and additional monies totaling $10,000. Mr. Douglas Beaton gratefully accepted the funds and expressed his appreciation as follows: "Art, Matt and I want to thank You, AA, and others for the extremely generous donation in support of Hathaway and the River Herring Project. The Dam still needs some repairs, and I believe some of that money will be used for those repairs. Last night's meeting was a 'classic' example of when 'Grass Roots America' organizes, cooperates and performs to "get 'er done." Looking forward to working with AA, the Rochester community, and others to eventually have river herring spawning in Hathaway and Leonard's Ponds."

Mr. Beaton has been supportive in all things herring and has helped AA wherever possible in any of the projects that have come up.

As President of Alewives Anonymous, Inc. and on behalf of the Board of Directors and the AA membership, I would like to express our gratitude and deepest appreciation to Mr. Beaton, Beaton's Inc. shop crew and everyone else they had involved in the project to install the new aluminum steep pass fish ladder at the Hathaway Pond Dam in 2013 and the many individuals and businesses that supported this project financially.

BBC installed and operated an electronic fish counter in the ladder during the 2014 herring migration season to monitor the fish population entering Hathaway Pond. AA installed and operated an electronic fish counter in the ladder at Leonard's Pond. The counts from both counters on the Sippican River for this year were very low. Adjustments to the water flow in the ladders were made and will serve as a guide for next year when we hope to start seeing improved results for the herring population in the Sippican River.

Alewives Anonymous, Inc., The Herring Helpers, PO Box 42, Rochester MA 02770, is dedicated to the preservation and increase of the alewife fishery resources in the Mattapoisett River and the Sippican River in the towns of Rochester, Marion and Mattapoisett, MA. We invite you to PLEASE join and help support our efforts. Annual membership is $10. Arthur F. Benner, phone, 508-763-2024; email, artbenner@comcast.net.

Committee Tours Town House, Envisions its Future

Marion Town House Building Committee

By Jean Perry

From basement to bell tower, members of the Town House Study Committee examined, explored, and envisioned the future of the Town's beloved landmark on July 17 during a tour of some of the unseen and mostly undisturbed corners of the old Marion Town House.

The committee, meeting for its second time, began with a tour of the facility, venturing down those hidden hallways into solitary spaces where time seems to stand still and the past remains in the form of scribbles on chalkboards and stacks of old record books.

First stop in the basement, the group parted cobwebs along the way as they checked out the wide-open space, the vault, and water damage from past leaks along the foundation. The space smells like any other damp old basement, and the committee briefly discussed options for keeping the space dry.

"This is a hard space to use," said committee member Bill Saltonstall. He envisioned utilizing the basement for HVAC equipment to serve the upstairs, acknowledging that the space had some usefulness, but personnel and staff could probably never occupy it.

The committee reacted favorably to one room deep in the basement, which had full windows with afternoon sun pouring in, high ceilings, and potential beyond just housing the long rows of stacks of town record books.

Upstairs on the main level, in the clerk's office, Saltonstall said Town Clerk Ray Pickles has expressed that he has all the space he and his staff need to perform their daily duties.

Standing in the office of the building commissioner, it was clear to the committee that the department was short on space.

"It's tight, it's messy, and it's loaded with paper," said Saltonstall. "This is one of the spaces I thought should grow."

Up on the second floor, the group entered the office of the town accountant, which was open and airy compared to the previous offices the group visited.

"But she doesn't really need more than half of this," said Saltonstall, commenting that the room that only housed a conference table and some record books could potentially be very useful for other purposes.

Down the hallway, an open and sunlight-saturated former classroom, as evidenced by the chalkboards still hung on the walls, was stuffed with rows of old record books. Another classroom across the hall echoed the old classroom setting, with some of the chalkboards like living time capsules. Scribbles and drawings dating back to the 1980s still remain, undisturbed - documentation that Patsy, Wayne, and Jim were all once there.

"This is where everybody wants to be," said Saltonstall.

The members all remarked on how great the space was, wandering around the rooms, disturbing the ghosts of the past that still linger, suspended in time.

"This is just beautiful up here," remarked committee member Lynn Crocker.

The space had the feel of an attic, with interesting architectural angles and the familiar stifling summer heat. The group did not linger long before approaching a steep set of ladder-like steps and, one by one, the committee members ascended, until reaching the top with a surge of sunlight and a burst of fresh air - high up in the bell tower overlooking the village. The committee enjoyed a few moments there, looking out and snapping a few photos with their phones. The sun was setting and time was shrinking, so the committee reconvened downstairs at the conference room table and got down to the nitty gritty.

Office square-footage, live and dead document storage, meeting room size - not to mention the options of renovating or rebuilding, and whether to factor a community center into the mix were all items of discussion.

One thing is for certain, though, pointed out Saltonstall. On the priority list are larger offices, an elevator, sprinklers, and a handicap-accessible restroom on every floor.

"There's no question the building is going to be accessible," said committee member Robert Raymond. "There's going to be an elevator."

A feasibility study is imminent, but the committee's chief concern is getting clarity on statements made by the Board of Selectmen who requested the committee devise and explore four options for the Town House and surrounding town buildings, which the committee referred to as "the campus."

"We can't move on until we clarify that," said Raymond. "And what leeway do we have?"

Built in 1877, the Town House was originally a part of Tabor Academy until it was later sold to the Town. Town officials and residents have for years been talking about whether to save the historic building by renovating it and possibly building an addition for community use, or rebuilding the structure entirely to make way for a more modern campus to include the town hall, library, a community center, and senior center.

Committee member Priscilla Ditchfield said the town sentiment is in favor of saving the building.

"And that itself has got a price tag on it," said Ditchfield.

Businesses Prevail Through ZBA Hearings

Mattapoisett Zoning Board of Appeals

By Marilou Newell

Mattapoisett's Zoning Board of Appeals heard only two applications during the July 18 meeting, but both pushed Mattapoisett further into the 21st century than ever before. The meeting for just two applications also took a fair amount of time, nearly four hours. When everything was said and done, these businesses received what they came for - an approved variance.

The first hearing of the evening was for a variance that would allow the installation of an illuminated sign at 60-62A Fairhaven Road, the Gulf gas/convenience store owned by Vasudha LLC & Neelkanth Corp. The sign currently in place was deemed unsafe and out of date, especially when gas prices required changing. Dan Carabone of Mutual Oil described a modern digital-style as the industry standard.

Representing the applicant was Attorney Eric Brainskuy, who explained the importance of staying current with signage technology in order to stay competitive. However, the board felt that in order to stay competitive, it wasn't a new sign the applicant needed, but a lower price per gallon.

The ZBA tossed out the competition angle in favor of the more compelling life safety issues associated with updating the gas prices sometimes several times per day. The new sign proposed would have the same dimensions as the current sign, but would allow remote computerized changes through digital technology.

On hand to drive home the point that this newer signage style was now the industry standard was installer Hank Ellis. Ellis said that the new sign's illumination would allow people to read the gas prices in all types of weather and ambient light conditions and that it also included a dimming feature. But the neighbors were not amused.

Mary Kelliher, 4 Reservation Road, voiced her concern that the new digital illumination will diminish the peaceful enjoyment of her home along with other lights which illuminate the roof line of the building. She said that illuminated window signs advertising cigarette brands and other products add to the visual noise coming from the property. Kelliher said, "I don't think it's good for Mattapoisett." Other neighbors questioned why this applicant would be allowed to have an illuminated sign when other businesses have been denied. They worried that this would set a precedent and pave the way for other Route 6 businesses to request the same variance. They were told that each application is reviewed on its individual merit and not preceding hearings.

After the board members debated the features and benefits of the application and pondered negative implications for the town, they voted that a reasonable hardship was proven in the form of safety and approved the application.

The second hearing was from Blue Wave LLC and their proposal for a 28-acre commercial solar field situated off Crystal Spring Road. Armed with a noise study completed by HMMH Consultants, the applicant gave line-by-line details of the project as presented by Rick Charon, engineer.

Then, Tim Johnson of HMMH gave a presentation on the noise study. Johnson's evaluation noted that there would not be a significant change in traffic noise emanating from Interstate 195 after deforestation of the site. Therefore, residents would experience a negative impact. His study assumptions were brought into question when asked if real-time data had been used to come to these conclusions. Johnson said that his team had used worse-case scenarios in their modeling but that 'real' data had not been used. That did not satisfy member Colby Rottler. Rottler wanted the study to include real present-state noise level data contrasted against noise level data after deforestation.

Blue Wave's Aidan Foley, front and center for this last local governmental hurdle, said that heretofore he had not considered this type of data to be necessary and that no other project with which his firm was associated had to consider this type of science. However, he concluded that 'real' data collection would prove beneficial, not only for this project, but possibly future projects in other locations, thus concurring with Rottler.

The board also heard that if granted a variance, the land use change would produce an additional $40,000 a year in tax revenue for the town.

Abutter Peter Wolski, 4 Crystal Spring Road, who has been in attendance at each and every board meeting regarding this project, was again present with questions. He asked if a surety or bond could be put in place - a 'performance bond'. Director of Inspectional Services Andy Bobola advised the board that they could condition the permit with such a surety, but wasn't sure if that was necessary. Bobola advised the board that the Conservation Commission would be conditioning the project to ensure that erosion controls and storm water run off would be effectively handled.

Wolski also had expressed concerns regarding a forested buffer area that was not part of Blue Wave's lease. He had asked at the ConCom meeting if the land owner could be asked to not remove any more trees from this area since doing so would expose the deforested land to his backyard vista. Foley responded that the landowner had recently informed him that forestry activities would cease in that location for the length of the 25-year lease.

The board voted to approve the change in use with the following conditions: (1) noise studies would be conducted before and after deforestation, and Blue Wave and its partners would pay for any remedies, if required; (2) decommissioning bond totaling $225,000; and (3) signs at the site with contact information would be posted in the event residents needed to contact the company.

The next meeting of the ZBA will be announced in early August.

Bay Club Seeks Changes to Zoning Bylaws

Mattapoisett Planning Board

By Marilou Newell

Mattapoisett's Planning Board has spent time working on improving the language in several zoning bylaws - changes they hope will make the bylaws easier to understand and to implement in the community. To that end, they have dedicated portions of their regularly scheduled meetings to the effort while also imploring the community to add their voice. Once they are satisfied that all changes and improvements are complete, they hope to put the edited bylaws to the vote during the Fall 2014 town meeting.

During the July 21 meeting, Brad Saunders, managing partner of D + E Management LLC (a Bay Club partner), presented the board with language changes to bylaws governing cluster housing developments. Saunders explained that due to demand changes in the real estate market, partners at the Bay Club are looking to move from high-end homes to more affordable mid-range townhouses. Present zoning bylaws, however, would make that difficult. With this in mind Saunders gave the board a letter that included the following suggested changes: Add new subsection 3.8.4.4 Zero-Lot line Lots.

3.8.4.4.1 - Up to 20% of the lots in a Cluster Subdivision may be designated as zero-lot line lots, provided the entire Cluster Subdivision is served by a public sewer system. A zero-lot line lot is a signal-family residential lot created with no side-yard setback on one side of the lot, thereby creating a shared building envelope between two adjoining lots. This shared building envelope shall only be used to build a duplex where the common wall between the two units is the common boundary line separating the two adjoining residential lots. No lot can have more than one side yard with a zero setback.

3.8.4.4.2 - The following minimum dimensional regulations shall apply to zero-lot line lots in lieu of those identified in Article 6, for conventional single-family developments: Minimum Lot Area - 10,000 sq ft; Minimum Lot Frontage - 45 ft; Minimum Front Yard Setback - 25 ft; Minimum Side Yard Setback - 0 ft (shared side) / 20 ft (unshared side); Minimum Rear Yard Setback 10 ft; Maximum Lot Coverage 25%; Maximum Building Height 35 ft.

The letter also contained the following statement: This addition will provide the Bay Club with flexibility to diversify the mix of residential product offerings while maintaining the basic ownership model of single-family homes on individual lots. The zero lot-line design will allow for the development of a duplex townhouse product within the Split Rock Lane neighborhood. There appears to be a strong demand for this type of residential unit at the Bay Club and the added diversity to the cluster subdivision concept will benefit both the Bay Club community and the Town of Mattapoisett.

Saunders also submitted language changes to Article 3 that would allow lands zoned 'Limited Industrial' to be used as 'open space' in cluster housing sub-divisions.

Chairman Tom Tucker said they were not prepared to comment on his suggestions and needed time to review the proposed language changes. Saunders asked if a public hearing on his changes could be scheduled now. Tucker said it was premature to do so and that there was plenty of time before town meeting to review this request.

In other business, Brian Grady of GAF Engineering was back before the board with an update on drainage designs for the Appaloosa Lane sub-division project long stalled by changing ownership and water problems. Grady said that he has been working with Field Engineering (the town's consultant) as well as Highway Department Superintendent Barry Denham to review all problems at the site. Grady said that a new plan to handle water on the site was in the conceptual phase and if acceptable to the board would move forward into full engineering specifications. He also said that test hole drilling to investigate soil quality questions was to be done on July 22.

Denham then spoke and presented the following reality check: It wasn't the applicant's responsibility to do anything more than control and handle water on his site. However, given that the Appaloosa site was abutted by 50 acres that were draining into it and thus contributing to the water, it now became a much bigger problem - one the town needed to address.

Denham said that since the drainage system on River Road was insufficient to handle all that would drain from Appaloosa and the other 50 acres, he wanted to work with GAF to find a solution. He said, "I believe that we can work together and satisfy everybody."

Tucker asked about the repairs to existing catch basins. Grady said those would be completed. Grady asked for a month before returning to the Planning Board with a new fully engineered plan. Tucker asked him to come back in two weeks with an update.

Residents impacted by water overflowing onto their properties were again in attendance this night more watchful then interjecting.

Douglas Schneider of Schneider Engineering also met with the board representing Jann and Kenneth Williams in a matter of conveying a strip of land to their neighbor. Although approval wasn't required from the board, they did agree with the request.

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Planning Board is scheduled for August 4 at 7:00 pm.

Planning Board: You Can't Regulate Stupidity

Rochester Planning Board

By Jean Perry

A raised island that dictates a right-turn only out of a new filling station on Cranberry Highway turned into a figurative speed bump in a discussion about safety during the July 22 Rochester Planning Board meeting.

Half the board favored altering the site plan for Rochester Crossroads, LLC to include a raised island to reinforce a no-left turn out of the proposed Seasons gas station and half were against it.

Chairman Arnold Johnson was adamantly in favor of the raised island, as were board members Gary Florindo and Ben Bailey, and neither were budging from their position despite a meeting the developer had with Police Chief Paul Magee. According to Rochester Crossroads' attorney Richard Serkey, Chief Magee approved language for a condition to monitor the site if the developer stuck with the plan to only install scored concrete to reinforce the traffic flow. That condition would allow the chief to review any incidents regarding safety of the exit within the first year and, if the chief later deemed the scored concrete island inadequate, he would have sole discretion to report to the Planning Board to revisit the matter.

"And we advised him that we could live with it," said Serkey.

Board member Susan Teal said she liked that option because it would give the board a chance to "see how it plays out in the field."

Johnson, however, while admitting that even he disobeys left-turn only signs, said people would still make the illegal left turn unless a raised island is installed to stop them. He also took issue with the wording of the chief's condition.

"The chief does not have the authority," said Johnson, regarding the language granting the chief sole discretion. "First off ... he can advise the board, but that stipulation cannot be written as is." Besides, added Johnson, the chief told Johnson that he does not think the scored pavement is going to be effective.

Jim Kane, manager of ADM Management Corporation, said the developer's main concern was snow removal, saying that a raised island would obstruct snow plowing.

Bailey asked Kane why he thinks that drivers will adhere to the left-hand turn sign.

Kane replied that if drivers do not follow the sign, the developer would "run right back out and do what we didn't want to do" - install a raised island.

"Are you saying you want to wait for accidents to happen, or do you want to put up a camera?" asked Bailey. How would the developer monitor potential violations?

Teal had some ideas, such as visible tire tread on the grooved pavement and neighbors calling in complaints.

"Why do we want to put a burden on the neighbors to fix this thing?" said Johnson.

The only thing that will document problems, said Florindo, is an inevitable accident.

The main issue at hand, as board member Michael Murphy pointed out, was that "You can't regulate stupidity."

Things got a little tense between Bailey and Serkey before the discussion shifted back to monitoring the potential safety hazard.

"I'm a big proponent of landowner rights," said Bailey. "However, we're talking about the potential for someone to be killed in a car accident ... I also know that's a very dangerous corner." Bailey said he understood that the developer wanted to try the grooved concrete first, but he for one would not approve that.

Florindo interjected and, during a heartfelt diatribe about the potential for a fatal accident as a result of sticking with just the scored concrete, managed to persuade Kane to agree to the raised island.

"These are small potatoes," said Florindo. He said he was willing to go along with 99% of the rest of the plan, but Florindo wanted that safety issue addressed. "Let's face the music," said Florindo. He told Kane the only way the developer could realize the necessity of the raised island would be when the chief calls them up and tells them of a fatal accident.

Kane agreed, saying, "We have much bigger fish to fry."

And just like that, the discussion moved forward to address drainage issues until the hearing was continued until August 12 to allow time for Field Engineering to generate a report to the board.

Also at the meeting, Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Richard Cutler went over some proposed changes to the zoning bylaws a subcommittee had been studying.

A public hearing regarding amendments to the Town Subdivision Rules and Regulations was brief with little discussion, with board members flipping through the proposed changes handed to them by Town Planner Mary Crain.

The board approved a division of land for Michael Murphy of County Road. The board approved taking a section of Murphy's Lot 3A and adding it to adjoining Lot 3C. Lot 3C remains an unbuildable lot, yet the land division creates a less non-conforming lot. As a relative to the petitioner, board member Michael Murphy recused himself from discussion.

Two public hearings for Harris Real Estate Boston, LLC have been continued until August 12 at the applicant's request.

The next Rochester Planning Board meeting is August 12 at 7:00 pm at Town Hall.

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