Near the end of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen meeting on March 11, Selectman Paul Sylvia asked Town Administrator Mike Gagne to confirm or dispel a rumor that he had heard. This rumor concerned a cyber theft that occurred in 2011 from the ORR School District electronic financial accounts and resulted in the loss of $600,000. Gagne said that he had discussed the rumor with a school committee member and then called District Superintendent Douglas White. White confirmed to Gagne that a cyber hacking had resulted in the loss of the money to one of the accounts. FBI and the Attorney General’s office were both contacted at that time. Through their investigations, all but $34,000 was recovered. Gagne did not have any additional information and told the member of the press to contact White for further clarification.
Sylvia said he found it disturbing and disappointing to learn three years later that this crime had occurred. He said that the Tri-Town governments should have been made aware of the event, if for no other reason than to ratchet up vigilance of their own electronic accounts. Gagne agreed and noted that everything is done electronically, including state aid transfers. No further information was made available to Gagne. As members of the media pressed him for more information, he reiterated that questions should be posed to Superintendent White.
Earlier in the evening, the selectmen approved an expenditure of $2,000 to cover outstanding snow and ice removal costs.
Gagne reported to the Board that negotiations with police union representatives had gone very smoothly, and he thanked them for their work. Their three-year contract was signed. He said that the FinCom meetings with department heads are nearly complete and that for purposes of the 2015 budget, they are using the 2014 state aid funding number versus the figure proposed in the Governor’s 2015 state budget.
Regarding the recent tax title sale, Gagne reported that of the 12 properties presented at the auction, 11 were sold for a total of $323,000 going to the town coffers. This money will be earmarked for the ongoing roadway repairs that voters committed to through town meeting votes. On the theme of road repairs, he also said that Mass DOT recently visited Mattapoisett and took a tour of Main Street, Water Street, Beacon Street, and Marion Road since those are the streets the town is preparing to repair. Gagne continued that he has been meeting with Highway Surveyor Barry Denham to come up with an estimate for the engineering survey needed prior to beginning work. Part of the road repairs will include sidewalks – both repairing those currently in place and possibly constructing new ones – where viable.
Gagne then reported that Blue Wave LLC and EMI have continued their conversations and have developed a partnership in an effort to assist with NSTAR’s grid upgrades that are necessary before full completion of the two solar project scheduled in town can occur. Blue Wave is working on a commercial solar farm on Tinkham Hill Road, while EMI will be developing a solar farm at the closed landfill site on behalf of the town.
Gagne’s report also included the encouraging news that the legislatures have passed bills that pave the way for delays in full implementation of flood insurance increases. He urged the public to support the bills, contact their representatives, and lobby hard so that voices will carry all the way to the White House. The final hurdle for this relief requires the President’s signature. Gagne also asked the public to visit the town’s website for complete up-to-date information on this important topic.
Sylvia and Gagne also discussed the Buzzards Bay Coalition property – locally dubbed ‘The Bogs’ on Acushnet Road – that now allows dogs to run free while under the control of owners. This is the only public space in Mattapoisett that allows dogs to be off leash.
Also discussed was a notice from Division of Marine Fisheries that announces the availability of grant money for recreational fishing activities. Gagne asked the public to contact him at email@example.com for more information on this opportunity and to share their ideas on how the town and residents might want to use such funds.
NSTAR will be applying herbicides along power lines and natural gas rights-of-way in the coming weeks. Residents with sensitivity to such chemicals should contact the selectmen’s office. The town will then contact NSTAR and inform them of areas where such chemicals should not be used.
Three new members to the Recreation Committee were greeted by the selectmen at the beginning of the evening. The new members are Michael Moreau, Kaitlin Keegan and Charles Rider.
Jeremy Collier, Chairman of the Recreation Department, and Director Deb Allaire presented their annual report to the selectmen and the summer season plans. After noting all of last year’s accomplishments, they discussed the variety of programs now available to the community. From youth day programs to swimming lessons for infants through senior citizens, from cooking classes to adult softball and much more, the list of recreational activities was viewed as impressive. Registration for summer day programs will be held on March 26, April 1, and May 3 at Center School. Complete information is available on the town’s website, www.mattapoisett.net.
On Sunday, March 30 at 12:00 noon, the Mattapoisett Fire Station will host the annual rabies clinic. The fee is $12 for males or females, $9 for animals that have been spayed or neutered.
2014 transfer station stickers are now available from the Board of Health and are free to residents 65 years or older.
Finally, the town is still seeking members for the Council on Aging Board. Anyone interested should contact the COA office at 508-758-4110.
The next Board of Selectmen meeting is scheduled for March 25 at 7:00 pm.
By Marilou Newell