Marion Snow Budget in the Red

This snowy and icy February has drained the Town’s snow and ice removal budget, prompting the Marion Board of Selectmen on February 20 to vote to allow deficit spending to cover the expenses from the last storm and any further storms to come.

The snow and ice removal budget was set at $50,000 and is now $19,475 in the red, which Town Administrator Paul Dawson told selectmen does not include the payroll from the February 14 snowstorm.

Selectman Jody Dickerson commented that, instead of the roughly $70,000 the Town has spent so far, he was surprised to hear the total was not yet more like $100,000 spent.

“We may be by the time we’re done,” said Dawson, “but we are not there yet.”

Dawson said snow and ice removal from Winter Storm Juno, which blasted the area with roughly 20 inches of snow and blizzard conditions on February 7, might be eligible for reimbursement from FEMA and MEMA due to the calling of a state of emergency during that storm.

“So we are marching forward with that assumption,” Dawson said. The February 14 storm did not reach the threshold for a state of emergency in the Tri-Town region, so the Town does not expect any reimbursement from that storm.

Also during the Friday special meeting of the selectmen, the board voted to award the contract for construction of the new Great Hill water tank to DN Tanks of Westfield, MA, the lower of the two bids the Town received for the project.

The bid was for a total of $1,352,200, which is lower than the Town Meeting approved maximum of $1.5 million.

The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for March 3 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

By Jean Perry

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Model United Nations

On Thursday, February 18, twelve Tabor Academy students headed to Durham, North Carolina to participate in the Duke University Model United Nations Conference.

These students have spent their winter together in the Model United Nations (MUN) group and have been preparing for this conference for a while. The students who attended the conference with Faculty Supervisor Gary Sousa are seniors Samantha Chan, Ned Mitchell, Gwen McCain, and Jenna Weyant, juniors Kyle Rood, Ellen Park, Evelyn Xue, Vienna Zhu, and Stephanie Zou, sophomores Camden Baer and Max Gonye, and freshman Grace Douvos.

In committee, the students – or delegates – represent a country, read speeches, debate, and write resolutions for their designated international issue. It also allows students to debate and collaborate with other students from all around the nation.

“The best part of the trip was definitely the experience of meeting new people, speaking in front of them, and working with them,” said Baer. “The social dynamic of having to work with people you didn’t know and getting to know people from around the nation was amazing.”

Pairs of the 12 students each researched and participated in debates about different issues. For example, Chan and Weyant were a part of the World Health Organization and discussed water sanitation, immunizations, and antibiotic resistance.

Zhu and Xue were a part of a historical committee, which focused on the French Revolution and resolutions to food crisis and social injustice.

In committee, the discussion is detailed and intensive. Weyant reflected on that.

“Research is definitely a big part of preparing, but confidence is paramount,” said Weyant.

According to Baer, his biggest challenge was “speaking in the beginning of the conference.”

Although some of the Tabor delegates were experienced with Model United Nations, this was the first trip for many.

Weyant has primarily played basketball, but did MUN for the first time this year.

“Ever since I came to Tabor, I wanted to try something completely out of my comfort zone, so I quit basketball and did MUN,” Weyant said, adding that this was a good decision because she feels more aware of the world than she was before. “MUN has really helped me expand my horizons.”

Baer said that Model United Nations has always intrigued him.

“I do MUN because I find global politics very interesting, and the aspect of going somewhere, playing a role, and fighting for what the country you represent believes in intrigues me.” Baer called this “an experience like no other,” and felt that he personally gained a lot from the conference.

“The progress I made from the first day to the final day was extraordinary,” said Baer. “…From public speaking to writing resolutions.”

Tabor’s Model United Nations program is a medium through which students can further broaden their global awareness while learning important skills through writing, debating, and collaborating with peers.

By Julia O’Rourke

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Likely Cause Found in 40B Housing Fire

Investigators have not yet officially named the source of the fire that destroyed two apartments and damaged two others at Marion Village Estates off Front Street the night of February 19, but Fire Chief Thomas Joyce said Tuesday, February 24 that a propane construction heater in use was likely the cause.

“It appears to be unintentional and accidental,” said Joyce. “It all sort of proved non-suspicious in the end.”

Joyce said Deputy Chief Joseph Dayton, leading the investigation, is still handling paperwork for the case, but inspection of the scene leads to the conclusion that a propane heater that was used that evening to dry fresh plasterwork somehow tipped over, igniting the floor and burning downward.

“Based on where it started and how it burned,” said Joyce, “that’s where the heat source was.”

Firefighters who arrived at the scene at about 6:30 pm observed that some housing units appeared to have been entered by force, rousing suspicion of a possible arson. However, workers at the development who first spotted the fire said they initially busted into the units in their attempt to put out the fire as emergency response was en route.

Initial 911 calls reported a fire and billowing smoke coming from one of the complexes at the affordable housing development still under construction behind BrewFish.

The first police officer that arrived at the scene sounded a second alarm and mutual aid was called from the Mattapoisett, Rochester, and Wareham Fire Departments.

At about 7:00 pm, command on the scene called for the evacuation of all firefighting personal from the building for safety reasons, and a third alarm was sounded at 7:20 pm, requesting aid from Plymouth County Fire.

Weather conditions were windy with frigid cold wind chill temperatures.

There were no injuries reported and the housing units were unoccupied.

Manager of Marion Village Estates Ken Steen could not be reached for comment.

By Jean Perry

 

Elaine G. Silva

Elaine G. Silva, age 71 of New Bedford, passed away on Monday, February 23, 2015 at St. Luke’s Hospital. She was the loving wife of Michael Silva whom she married in 1991 and resided in New Bedford. She was the daughter of the late Marie (DePina) and Peter G. Rezendes.

Elaine was born and raised in Marion, worked as a Stitcher at Riverside Manufacturing for many years. Enjoyed Concerts (especially Elvis) spending times with nieces and nephews, Learning and cooking many different dishes for her grandchildren and friends to enjoy.

Her family includes: 2 step-daughters: Michaelleana Silva Rebecca and Barby-ann Silva of New Bedford, MA ; 3 step-grandchildren:Sean Booker, Heather Booker and Brandon Booker, 1 step-great grandson Jahdin Cordero, all of New Bedford her siblings; Christian Rezendes, Joanne G. Lopes, Mary Lomba, John G. Rezendes,Zach G. Rezendes all of Marion, Lucy G. Renyolds of Connecticut, and Enis Krol of Texas ; as well as several nieces and nephews. She was the sister of the late, Manuel G. Rezendes, Amos G. Rezendes, Peter G. Rezendes Jr. and Louie G. Rezendes.

Her funeral will be Friday at 7:30 A.M. with a Mass of Christian burial at St Rita’s Church located at 113 Front St. Marion Ma at 9:00 A.M. Burial will follow at Evergreen Cemetery in Marion. Calling hours will take place in the funeral home on Thursday from 4-8 P.M. Arrangements are placed in the care of Perry Funeral Home, 111 Dartmouth St. in New Bedford, Ma.

Beethoven Concerts

Music from Land’s End Wareham is pleased to announce three outstanding concerts that you will not want to miss, no matter whether you are in Boston, Marion or Wareham!

Violinist Ariadne Daskalakis and pianist Miri Yampolsky perform Beethoven’s ten sonatas for violin and piano, an artistic feat for two talented and professional musicians.

Schedule:

Thursday, March 5 at the Goethe Institut, Boston, 7:30 pm

Saturday, March 7 at St. Gabriel’s Church, Marion, 5:00 pm

Sunday, March 8 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Wareham, 3:00 pm

Detailed information can be found at www.MLEWareham.org.

No Snow Damage to ORR Roof

When workers shoveling snow off of the Old Rochester Regional High School roof discovered a potential structural issue possibly caused by the weight of the snow, school was canceled Monday, February 23 as a precaution.

Students got an extra day of February vacation to allow an engineer to examine the possible deflection, as ORR Facilities Director Gene Jones described the “footprint section” in question.

“Everything was fine,” said Jones on Tuesday during a phone interview. “There was no leakage, no visual damage.

Jones said a crew had been shoveling the roof during vacation week ahead of expected rain for Saturday and Sunday, and encountered the possible deflection on Sunday in the roof above the cafeteria kitchen and serving area of the building.

“It felt a little bit flexible,” said Jones, likening it to walking on a plank and having it slightly bow beneath one’s feet. “It was very minute. But anytime you have a question, you have to check. It’s the norm.”

An engineer was called and subsequently the building commissioner certified the building as safe for occupancy.

The safety of the staff and students is paramount,” said Jones. “It was all a safety factor. That’s what they pay me for. To provide a safe environment and school facility.”

By Jean Perry

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Bylaw Back to the Planning Board

After a robust discussion on February 23 between the Rochester Board of Selectmen, bylaw subcommittee, and town department heads, the draft Limited Commercial Bylaw amendment slated for the Annual Town Meeting warrant will head back to the Planning Board for refinement before property owners in and abutters to the affected zones are invited to a pubic forum to share their concerns.

Planning Board Chairman Arnold Johnson told selectmen the goal was to clean up outdated and irrelevant language from the bylaw and to add a mixed-use capability combining residential use with commercial use.

“That’s probably the biggest change,” said Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman and subcommittee member Richard Cutler.

The zoning change would only affect the two areas in Rochester zoned for limited commercial use: across from the Town Hall and to the side of Town Hall in the town center.

Selectman Naida Parker’s concern was how comfortable residents in or near the two zones would feel about the proposed changes, urging their voices to be heard.

One resident abutting the limited commercial zone, having experienced the Planning Board’s attempt years ago to create an overlay district that some residents adamantly opposed, wasted no time before expressing his skepticism.

“I think you’re putting the cart before the horse,” said David Watling. “We still don’t know what the Town will propose…. We haven’t heard anything for ten years.”

Not true, according to Johnson.

“This is entirely different,” said Johnson to Watling. “Take what we gave you last time and get it out of your mind. It’s entirely different. One hundred and five percent different.”

Johnson said, with the bylaw as it is now, the only option provided to a developer is a residence or a strip mall. As for the language, words such as “typewriter repair shop” and other obsolete terms will be deleted.

“This isn’t going to take away anybody’s right to be notified,” said Johnson. “The village overlay thing is gone.”

Planning Board member Susan Teal said the bylaw changes were good for the town and acknowledged Parker’s mention of abutter concerns.

“This is a draft,” said Teal. “If it gives the selectmen heartburn, we want to know that now.”

Johnson pointed out that both properties affected by the bylaw changes are currently up for sale with interested parties. He referred to amended language in the bylaw that mandates future plans for development be “harmonious with the neighborhood.”

That’s when Planning Board member Ben Bailey voiced his dissent for language he considered “objective” and subject to interpretation.

“There’s language in there that’s unspecific,” said Bailey. “It’s the kind of language that somebody could just say, ‘I don’t think that it is…’”

Town Counsel Blair Bailey told Bailey there was “no way on planet Earth” that he could draft a bylaw with language not subject to interpretation.

Ben Bailey brought up another section of the draft bylaw regarding the 20 percent green space lot coverage that he found unclear, which Johnson and town counsel explained.

“One of the biggest changes is that it allows for a little bit more imagination to take place,” said Johnson. “Which might be a good thing, but it also give us (the Planning Board) the opportunity to say no.”

The boards also discussed the notion of hiring an outside codification service to reorganize and codify the Town’s zoning and general bylaws to make the book of bylaws user-friendlier to residents and board members alike.

A single bid came in at $12,800 with a $1,200 annual maintenance fee from one of the only companies that provide this service in the state.

“It seems that it’s very overreaching for what we really need,” said Johnson. “And the cost is quite substantial to get going.”

Although the annual maintenance fee did not concern Johnson so much, he was not impressed by some of the seemingly frivolous services the company would provide, such as gold embossed bylaw books.

“We don’t need stuff like that in Rochester,” said Johnson.

Johnson also found the manner in which the company organizes topics into chapters, like road construction, for example, a problem.

“Planning Board rules and regs vary according to size and zoning,” said Johnson, arguing that organizing the bylaws in such a way would result in a reader having to “bounce back and forth.”

“It would give me a headache,” said Johnson.

There were other issues with the proposal, including the process possibly taking over a year for the company to complete.

Selectmen and Johnson discussed approaching the company to ask it to pare down the list of services they would provide to fit the Town’s basic needs, which they determined would be the bylaw codification and website maintenance to keep bylaws current.

Also during the meeting, selectmen approved the appointment of Lydia St. Laurent as part-time EMS dispatcher.

The selectmen also set the date of the Annual Town Meeting for June 1.

The next meeting of the Rochester Board of Selectmen is scheduled for March 2 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

By Jean Perry

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Rochester Man Receives Boston Post Cane

It has been a tradition since 1909, and on February 20 Rochester’s newly deemed ‘oldest resident’ was handed the Boston Post Cane at his current residence at the Sippican Health Center in Marion.

Armand Cournoyer, who turned 100 years old on February 3, was honored during a ceremony in the library of the nursing home when Rochester Selectman Naida Parker passed the cane to Cournoyer, surrounded by his family and friends. The ceremony was meant to take place on his 100th birthday; however, a string of snow and ice storms resulted in three postponements of the happy occasion.

Cournoyer was born in New Bedford and lived most of his life in Acushnet, working at the Acushnet Process Company first as a machinist, then as a time study supervisor, eventually advancing to salesperson.

His daughter, Janet Royant, remembers how he enjoyed fishing, camping, and especially playing tennis.

“He played until he was 93 years old,” Royant said. “And he won a couple trophies, too.”

Cournoyer also spent time later in life traveling with the Royal Travelers, a travel club for seniors, visiting places such as Alaska, the Caribbean, and Europe.

Royant turned to her father and asked him, “Do you like being 100?”

Cournoyer responded with a shrug, saying, “It doesn’t feel any different … I enjoy every day.”

They were the little things in life that mattered to Cournoyer, said Royant. “The small stuff,” as Cournoyer’s other daughter, Claire Parent, described it.

“Camping was a big deal to us,” Parent said. “Family time,” added Royant. “Family life was really important to us.”

Parker greeted Cournoyer, asking him, “How do you do?” in French.

“You’re the oldest resident in Rochester,” Parker announced to Cournoyer, who sat in his chair like a celebrity surrounded by the press, friends, and three more generations of family members.

The family held a private party on February 3 to celebrate Cournoyer’s 100th birthday, even though the Boston Post Cane event with the selectmen was postponed.

“He made it. He’s a 100,” said Parent. “A century old … he’s got stories…”

The cane was passed to Cournoyer from the late Ralph Winfield Walker, 100, a former Rochester selectman.

By Jean Perry

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Mattapoisett Fire Leads to Drug Charges

A February 18 fire in the residence located at Great’scapes Nursery at 87 County Road prompted police to charge the nursery’s two owners with Class D cultivating and possession with intent to manufacture marijuana after 34 pot plants were discovered and seized, as well as drug paraphernalia police encountered at the scene.

According to a February 20 press release issued by Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons, during the course of extinguishing the fire, firefighters encountered an apparent grow room for marijuana on the second floor. Once it was safe to enter the building, Detective Craig LeBlanc allegedly observed about 12 marijuana plants lying on the floor, as well as large aluminum-like sheets spread across the floor and lining the inside of a nearby closet.

“Several heating lamps were observed hanging from the ceiling through the open closet door,” states Lyons in the press release. Additional marijuana was then found in the attic, including a small pile of dry marijuana lying beside a melted fan. The press release alleges that the room was used as a drying room for the cultivation of marijuana.

“Detective LeBlanc spoke with [one of the owners] regarding the marijuana cultivation,” states the press release. “[The owner] was unable to produce proper legal documents permitting him to possess or cultivate marijuana.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

By Jean Perry

 

Occasion Singers Cabaret Show at the MAC

If you missed the February 14 Occasion Singers cabaret show at The Marion Art Center, don’t worry! The Occasion Singers will present “A LOVE-ly Occasion” on Friday, February 27 at 7:30pm. The Occasion Singers are an elegant a cappella vocal group directed by Cassandra Morgan with singers Christopher Saulnier, Rui Moniz, Michael Moniz, Pam Breton, Dan Guay, Jillian Zucco, Eric Bosworth, Shonna Neitz, and Caroline Blais. They will perform all your favorite love songs, classics such as “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “The Way You Look Tonight” as well as the pop hits “So Much In Love,” “Falling In Love With Love,” “Hold On,” and many, many more. As always, the pace is non-stop and the warm and lighthearted entertainment style will leave audience goers wanting more! Cassandra Morgan will accompany the group on piano. The group is known for its tight harmonies and velvety vocal interpretations.

Cabaret tables are available for reserved parties of four or more. Tickets for the Cabaret are $12.50 for MAC members and $15 for general admission. Guests are invited to bring their own refreshments.

Reservations are highly recommended; call 508-748-1266 or email marionartcenter@verizon.net. The Marion Art Center is located at 80 Pleasant Street in Marion.