Marion Natural History Museum

Join the Marion Natural History Museum on Wednesday afternoons this summer from 1:00 to 4:00 pm; $24/each members, $30/each non-members.

Spend the afternoon with us looking at birds on Bird Island and other locations around Marion’s coastline on July 27: An introduction to our coastal birds with a naturalist from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. A naturalist with MA Fish and Wildlife will be giving us a presentation on shore birds of our area. We will hear first-hand from one of the naturalists how they’ve been helping to improve the nesting habitat for the Roseate Terns of our area. Then we will be taking a trip to Bird Island, courtesy of Marion Harbormaster’s office and lead naturalist, Carolyn Mostello.

Learn a little about our night skies in our portable planetarium on August 3: Summer Star Lab. Explore summer constellations with the Museum’s Star Lab portable planetarium. We will have the opportunity to work with the Star Lab instructor to learn to identify some of the features of our nighttime summer skies. To view all our upcoming programs please go to our website:

The Marion Natural History Museum is open Saturdays through July, 10:00 am to 12:00 pm. Along with an impressive Lego collection and puppet theater, we will have a fun project scheduled for each Saturday. Upcoming activities: July 23 – Make a jellyfish; July 30 – Using shapes to design an animal. Keep checking our website,, for more fun activities and our upcoming summer programs.

Roadside Edible Plants

It might be surprising to learn that Queen Anne’s lace is a member of the carrot family and takes two years to mature before the lovely airy flower heads bloom. It may even be more surprising to learn that wild plants that taste like wasabi or lettuce are available, if not in your backyard, then very close by. But more surprising still might be the fact that any of the varieties of maple trees – not just the sugar maple – may be tapped for sap to make maple syrup.

Imparting all these facts on July 18 was educator, writer, and well-known expert in the study of wild edible plants Russ Cohen during the Edible Foraging Ramble sponsored by the Sippican Lands Trust in partnership with the Marion Garden Group.

Cohen has been teaching students and interested others about wild edible plants for four decades, doing as many as 40 programs a year. Cohen, a highly respected expert on the subject of wild edible plants, is retired from the Massachusetts Division of Fish & Game and has written several books on the subject of edible plants. He also writes a column for the Essex County Greenbelt Association.

On this day, a group of about 30 people gathered at Brainard Marsh off Delano Road in Marion, a 6-acre parcel now owned and managed by the Sippican Lands Trust. Yet, the wild plants that Cohen spent much of the two-hour event discussing were right there, along the roadside.

As the group snaked along Delano Road, Cohen pointed out and taught the group about the vegetation. Ambling along to the first stop, Cohen demurred, “Old friends come to greet you as you walk along.”

Cohen said the local area has about 75 edible plants, including the non-poisonous sumac. He said that it’s fairly rare to find a poisonous sumac in the same neighborhood as its tame cousin, but right there next to his knee grew the dangerous variety. His warning when asked about the vicious sumac, “It’s much worse than poison ivy.” The most striking difference between the two plants was the shiny leaves sported by the gentle edible greenery. The bad one has dull leaves, but otherwise is hard to distinguish.

As he moved along pointing out invasive and native plants that can be eaten, Cohen said that in nearly every environment you would find something to eat if you knew what to look for. He stressed that native plants are critical to the natural environment supporting both people and animals. He also highlighted the importance of not over-foraging on native plants that may be endangered. Cohen steered the group towards “guilt-free” foraging.

The old wives’ tale that whatever an animal may eat a human may also doesn’t hold true, Cohen warned. “There’s not one hundred percent overlap in what animals and humans can eat,” he said. The group chuckled when he said that just because a deer may eat a plant doesn’t mean it didn’t wander off and die. He was asked how risky it was to put something wild in your mouth. Cohen responded that most poisonous plants “taste horrible.”

Of safe wild edible items located along Delano Road, Cohen found wine berries, roses, daylilies, grapes, wild lettuce, pokeweed, tupelo trees, dewberries, jewelweed, elderberries, bayberry, and along the beach at the preserve, rockweed, pickle weed, and orach, a kissing cousin to spinach.

Of the well known Queen Anne’s lace, that relative of the carrot, Cohen said, “You can eat the root, but it’s never as good as store bought.”

Cohen’s book Wild Plants I Have Known…and Eaten is available by contacting Essex County Greenbelt Association at 978-768-7241. All proceeds benefit Essex County Land Trust.

If you want to learn more about upcoming events planned by the Sippican Lands Trust, visit You may also request to be placed on their email blasts by emailing

By Marilou Newell

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Wellspring Farm Loses Appeal

After two previous hearings on the matter of whether or not Jim and Holly Vogel’s educational/therapeutic horseback riding operation was in violation of zoning bylaws, on July 15 the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals members were in agreement – not permitted.

Leading up to the vote on this night, Chairman Richard Cutler once again said that public comments should be focused on zoning issues only. He noted that although the type of services provided at Wellspring had “value,” the issue at hand was zoning compliance.

The words “therapy,” “educational,” and “agricultural” were dissected and given enhanced definitions by the attorneys representing the Vogels and the aggrieved abutters, as the issue of the Vogels’ right to use their property as a farm providing educational services was debated.

Attorney George Boerger, representing the Vogels, addressed abutters’ complaints of increased traffic, saying that 16 letters had been received from neighbors who said traffic was either not a problem or not attributable to the Vogels’ operation.

Boerger also said that many of the children receive services at the farm that are part of their individualized education plans thereby making the therapies received a type of learning experience. And he again reminded the board that the word “education” has a broad definition in the eyes of the court. The Vogels confirmed that 80% of their clients came to Wellspring with IEPs.

Attorney John Markey, representing some of the abutters, stated that Wellspring’s revenue stream was primarily, if not solely, derived from the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership versus school districts, making the issue of whether or not the farm was providing educational services versus therapy a valid point. He said that $540,000 came from the MBHP/MassHealth.

Once again, parents of children who have benefited from the farm animals and surrounding wooded acreage spoke of the transformation their children experienced by therapy received in the Wellspring setting – services they said could not be found anywhere else.

Residents opposing the operation were invited to speak, but none came forward this time. The public comment segment was closed.

Zoning board member Kirby Gilmore said, “The building commissioner did not err…”

“Abutters have a right of quiet use of their property,” board member Davis Sullivan said.

Zoning board member David Arancio said, “I’m a little disappointed that this is before us. There could have been a compromise … the business has changed; it has to be looked at.”

Cutler said, “The business has grown … the mission might have changed … the educational element is ancillary to the therapeutic programs…. We need to take a fresh look at the appeal and add some limits, not make it go away…. I’m inclined to uphold the building commissioner’s decision.” He also said that the business should be reclassified from agriculture to health care.

The building commissioner’s decision to deny the permit was upheld. Now the Vogels must proceed through a hearing for a Special Permit to allow commercial use of their property. That hearing is scheduled for August 11.

Before the room cleared, it was evident that emotions ran high as two attendees argued, one claiming to have been pushed and the other shouting, “You called it a circus!”

Gilmore told them to stop, saying, “We’ll call the cops!” Cutler tried to regain control saying, “Gentlemen, gentlemen!” As quickly as it erupted, it was over with Cutler responding to a request for police presence at the next hearing with a firm, “I’m not going to have the police at the meeting.”

In a post hearing follow up, Vogel said, “Clearly, the Town of Rochester is not interested in furthering the advancement of children with special needs. Again, the theory holds ‘not in my backyard,’ but Holly and I intend to carry this business that we are so passionate about to the ‘nth’ degree. We call upon the public to assist us.”

The next meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled for August 11 at 7:00 pm at a location to be announced.

By Marilou Newell


Mattapoisett Library Volunteer Recognition Reception

The Mattapoisett Library held its annual Volunteer Recognition Reception on July 13. Library Director Susan Pizzolato and staff recognized the importance of the 125 volunteer corps that aids in everything from putting books back on shelves to helping high school students write letters to caring for the library’s live animals to aiding in preparing resumes for college applications. Pizzolato said, “The staff couldn’t deliver the level of service they do without our volunteers. People come in with a variety of skills that help us on so many levels.” The volunteers enjoyed sumptuous finger-foods and received a small thank you gift. Photo by Marilou Newell


Elizabeth Taber Library

Potluck Cookbook Club: Do you like to cook? Then join us on Thursday, July 21 at 6:00 pm for our first ever potluck cookbook club. Choose a dish to cook from this featured cookbook, The Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, and bring it to share with the group. To register, please call the library at 508-748-1252 or email Libby at

Annual Book Sale: Our Annual book sale will take place at the Marion Music Hall on Friday, July 29 from 4:00 – 7:00 pm and Saturday, July 30 from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. Please come and support your local library. All funds raised from the book sale are spent on enhancing our programs and services. Gently-used book/CD/DVD donations will be collected at the library during our open hours. For more information on the book sale, please call the library at 508-748-1252.

Mystery Book Club: Please join us for our monthly mystery book discussion on Wednesday, August 3 at 11:00 am. We will be discussing Blue Heaven by C.J. Box. Please stop into the Elizabeth Taber Library today to register and reserve a copy of the monthly book.

Other upcoming meetings include: September – Crash and Burn by Lisa Gardner and October – 1st to Die by James Patterson.

Afternoon Book Club: Please join us for our monthly afternoon book discussion on Tuesday, August 16 at 2:00 pm. We will be discussing In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park. Please stop into the Elizabeth Taber Library today to register and reserve a copy of the monthly book.

Other upcoming meetings include: September – I Know Where I’m Going: Katharine Hepburn by Charlotte Chandler and October – The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Museum Passes: Looking for something fun to do with friends and family this summer? Then come to the Elizabeth Taber Library to check out any of our museum passes with your SAILS library card. We currently have discounted passes to the Heritage Museums and Gardens, Museum of Fine Arts, Mystic Aquarium, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Plimoth Plantation, Providence Children’s Museum, Roger Williams Zoo and the Mass State Parks Pass. To reserve a pass or for more information, please call the library at 508-748-1252 or visit our website

Homebound Library Services: The Elizabeth Taber Library, in partnership with the Council on Aging, is pleased to offer homebound delivery services to those Marion residents unable to visit the library because of short- or long-term illness, as well as physical or visual disabilities. To be eligible for this program, you must be a Homebound Marion resident with a library card in good standing. To arrange to have library books or audio books delivered to your home, please call the Elizabeth Taber Library at 508-748-1252.

Free Online Resources: With your Marion library card, you now have access to a whole lot of fun and free information online. The Elizabeth Taber Library now subscribes to the following e-resources: Instantflix – access to thousands of streaming films and shorts from around the world; Universal Class – an online continuing education program with over 500 courses; Zinio Digital Magazines – access to 50 top magazines online; and A to Z World Travel – access to over 200 city travel guides online. For more information, please call the Elizabeth Taber Library at 508-748-1252.

Mariner Youth Soccer Fall Program

The Mariner Youth Soccer Fall Program is now open for registration. The program runs on Saturdays from September 10 – November 5 at the Mariner Youth Soccer Fields located in Fairhaven. Programs are offered to children ages 4-14. There is no residency requirement.

Come join Mariner Youth Soccer this fall! Register now to reserve your spot: or contact

Clean Living Make & Take Event

Did you know that so many personal care and cleaning products that we use daily are filled with chemicals that are wreaking havoc on our health?

Do you want to learn just how easy it is to make your own for pennies on the dollar?

Join us at the Mattapoisett Free Public Library on Tuesday, July 26 from 10:30 am – 12:00 pm and learn how to make your own non-toxic summer-inspired personal care products with 100% natural ingredients.

And the best part? You’ll get to take your goodies home with you.

During this informative session, you will learn:

– The top 5 toxic chemicals that are in so many personal products that we use daily

– How they affect our family’s physical AND mental health

– Easy and inexpensive steps you can take + DIY ideas and recipes to remove these toxins from your home for LIFE

Fun for the whole family (children 6+ please). Register for this event at the library or by calling 508-758-4171. You can also email the library director at

Water Damages Books Slated for Fundraiser Sale

It wasn’t looking good for the Elizabeth Taber Library Annual Book Sale coming up next week when, on Friday, July 15, staff discovered water pouring down from the ceiling of the basement room where donated books were being stored for the annual fundraiser.

The library staff at first thought it was a burst pipe raining water down onto a section of books donated from the community to the library but, come to find out, it was a clog in the sewer line that had water backed up and spilling out all over the books, as well as toilets overflowing.

The library closed early on Friday, and it remained closed on Saturday as well as on Monday so that town facilities workers could dig up the front lawn of the library to fix the clog.

“Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as we originally thought,” said Library Director Libby O’Neill. “We acted quickly and brought the books outside. Some of them we were able to dry off. Somewhere between one hundred and two hundred books were lost.”

Luckily, said O’Neill, the library receives book donations throughout the entire year, so a good number of books are still available to be sold at the Annual Book Sale, the library’s largest fundraiser of the year, going on at the Marion Music Hall on July 29.

O’Neill wasted no time getting the word out that the library needed more book donations to make up for the loss, and the community responded by replacing the lost books twofold.

“The community has done a great job hearing our message,” said O’Neill. “We have so many book donations coming in from the community, and we are so grateful for that.”

Marion Facilities Manager Shaun Cormier said the library, much like the other historic buildings in town, still has the old clay pipes and sewer lines underground. When the Sewer Department on Monday began snaking the backed-up pipe from the street, they found the clog was located right between the two locust trees on the property. The root system damaged the pipe and one of the two trees had to be cut down.

The old sewer line was replaced with an updated PVC pipe.

As for the book donations, O’Neill said that this year, thanks to the generosity of the community, the book sale might have more books available for sale than the previous year, despite this “little set-back,” as O’Neill put it.

By Jean Perry


Peace and Unity

Local police, clergy, and members of the Tri-Town community gathered this morning, Saturday, July 23, at ORR Junior High School to come together in peace and unity during an ecumenical service to honor those in uniform, those officers who have recently been assassinated in Dallas and Baton Rouge, and to pray for an end to racism and for the protection of police officers.

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Sippican Choral Society

The Sippican Choral Society is looking for quite a few new members to help us ring in the Christmas 2016 season. Rehearsals are starting soon, and we’d love to see you there.

We are a group of local singers who love to lend our voices to this large and inviting group. The rehearsals are a lot of fun and are certainly an educational experience, as our new director, Dr. Tianxu Zhou, leads us through the many ins and outs and nuances of the music he selects for our group. He is always very respectful of all of our members, and you will be very comfortable during the process and amazed at how he coaxes the best out of everyone. The end result is a completely well-rehearsed and balanced chorus accompanied flawlessly by not only our incredible rehearsal accompanist, Michelle Gordon, but also by the hand-picked orchestra members who fill out our sound, delighting every audience member.

The Sippican Choral Society is a volunteer organization and does not require auditioning; however, there is a select Chamber Chorus that requires an audition should you choose to participate.

Rehearsals start on Monday, September 12 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm at the Mattapoisett Congregational Church Auditorium. Our Christmas 2016 concert will be presented on December 2 at St. Lawrence Church, New Bedford, and December 4 at Wickenden Chapel, Marion.

If you have any questions, please call Nancy Sparklin at 508-763-2327 and leave a message, or you can check out our website at