The Vocal But Not-So-Common Tern

The common tern in autumn migrates past our shores of Buzzards Bay in large numbers.

It spends most of its life out in the ocean, skimming the surface of the water with an orange elongated bill that scoops up insects and crustaceans.

Terns gather in a spectacle, swarming over schools of baitfish driven to the surface by ravenous blue fish or stripers, as in my illustration. In the cacophony of excitement, they utter a loud two-syllable ‘kee-yah’ alarm call, which also tells nearby fishermen to know where to cast a line.

The common tern is one of three species of terns here that are now passing us heading south toward Cape Ann in New Jersey, and from there many fly directly to the West Indies. They will return in spring to breed and nest inland on rocky coasts of islands on the way to their northern range beyond the U.S.A. into Canada.

            The other two species are the slightly larger Forster’s tern and the slightly smaller arctic tern, which makes up for its size with a vastly extended and astounding migration distance of some 25,000 miles. It travels from the high Arctic all the way to the Antarctic in a figure eight pattern, longer than any other bird. It crosses every ocean and touches each corner of North America. All species of terns stop along their migration route almost midway in spring to nest in groups called colonies.

As love arrives with them in the temporal air of the season, it brings spectacular aerial high flight courtship dances. Then, as with many other birds, there follows a final ground ceremony performed as each pair postures, bows, struts in circles, and the male often presents a fish to the female.

Since the Migratory Bird Act of 1913, the numbers of terns have increased dramatically. They are also uncommonly immune from earthly exposure to environmental pollution hazards, except of course to pesticides, causing two or three laid eggs not to hatch.

The seaward passing of terns along the Atlantic Ocean, across the Equator, and down to the semi-darkness of the South Pole, is a tale of the success of migration and reproduction accentuated by the spring and autumn equinoxes. For you and me as bird watchers, thanks again for joining me in this phenomenon of environmental awareness.

By George B. Emmons

 

Steven Jeffrey Ayres

Steven Jeffrey Ayres, age 61, passed away Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at his residence. He was the husband of Kim (Potvin) Ayres with whom he was married for 27 years.

Born in New Bedford, he was the son of the late Louis and Marjorie Patricia (Chantre) Ayres. Steven was a graduate of New Bedford High School and Bristol Community College. He was the owner operator of Steve’s Moving Service. He loved his cats, hunting, fishing, metal detecting, and antique cars. He was an avid fan of the Green Bay Packers.

Survivors in addition to his wife are his step mother Carol Ayres of New Bedford, a half- brother: David Ayres of New Jersey, a half-sister: Rosemarie Ayres of New Bedford. Steve wished for us to remember his late grandparents Frank C. and Laura Ayres, whom he loved very much and will now be with again.

His visitation will be held Monday, November 20 at the Rock Funeral Home, 1285 Ashley Blvd. New Bedford from 5-8 pm. His Funeral service will be Tuesday at the funeral home at 10am. Burial at St. Mary Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Steve and Kim’s favorite animal shelter, CARE Southcoast, payable to CARE, Southcoast, 111 Main Street, Acushnet, MA 02743 or to www.caresouthcoast.com. For tributes:www.rock-funeralhome.com

 

Gateway Youth Hockey

The Gladiators Midget Blue team finished their season with a tough 4-3 playoff loss to Martha’s Vineyard. Tyler Lovendale opened up the scoring for the Gladiators, less than two minutes into the game. He took a pass from Quirino doCanto and Zack Lovendale, skated in and beat the goalie over his shoulder. The Mariners then took control, scoring the next two goals of the period and ending it with a 2-1 lead. The Gladiators started the second period on a power play, and doCanto took advantage, 20 seconds into the period, scoring on a one-timer in the slot, after a nice pass from T. Lovendale. With the score tied at two, the Mariners scored again, taking another lead. It didn’t last long, as doCanto blocked a shot, skated in on a breakaway, and beat the goalie, who had no chance, with some quick moves. The two teams battled hard for the remainder of the period, and the game went into overtime. With both teams tired, late in the overtime period, a Mariners defenseman snuck in and got off a hard wrist shot that beat Ethan Allegrini in net, with 17 seconds left. Allegrini still made 50 saves on the day, including two breakaways, during overtime.

The Gladiators finished with a respectable 9 wins, 5 losses, and 1 tie on the season. Some of the statistics on the season: doCanto – 20G, 23A; Z. Lovendale – 10G, 15A; T. Lovendale – 10G, 11A; Gallagher – 5G, 3A; and Allegrini – 92 Save Percentage & 2.00 GA.

Chief Gives Lowdown on Slow Down Concerns

Rochester Police Chief Paul Magee addressed residents’ increasing concerns over speeding on certain Rochester roads by hosting a public forum the night of November 9 at Old Colony.

Most of those concerns, he said, he had observed on social media outlets like Facebook, with some people calling for measures such as a reduction in speed limits and increased enforcement. But there are some misconceptions amongst some residents about the process, Magee said, especially when it came to the Town’s authority in setting speed limits.

“A lot of people don’t understand that speed limits are based on federal limits,” said Magee to about a dozen residents. And oftentimes the intent of slowing vehicles with lower speed limits can backfire.

Magee thought it would be most helpful to give a bit of basic information about speed limits, starting with roads where speed limits aren’t posted. For a thickly settled district, the assigned speed limit is 30 mph. Outside that zone, 40 mph is acceptable, and on divided highways the rule of thumb is 50 mph. Gravel roads are generally not assigned a speed limit, he said, due to the conditions of the road that place physical limitations on speed.

“I could explain for eight hours on how they set speed limits, but the long and short of it,” Magee said, is that “professionals in the industry say [only] fifteen percent of motorists travel at an unreasonable speed.” Further clarifying that statement, Magee said roughly 80 percent of drivers drive at a reasonable speed.

“You’ll say, ‘I betcha it’s higher than that,’” Magee said, but data from a traffic study in town had come back that very day. “The complaint was about some pretty bad speeding, and we had a handful of bad violators.”

Officers in unmarked cruisers had for some time been collecting data on passing cars at 100 cars at a time. The top highest speeds are eliminated, creating an 85th percentile to analyze.

“When I get to that eighty-fifth percentile, that indicates the ideal speed limit for the street,” said Magee. The results indicated that the average driver in Rochester does travel at the speed limit, he said, adding, “It’s a pretty effective way to determine a speed limit.”

“That’s the rules, whether you like it or not,” said Magee. They aren’t his rules, he said, they are the federal standards. “Keep in mind,” he added, “when people want speed limits changed … that data has to be submitted to the State, approved by the Town, and then posted and enforced.”

And according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Highway Division, new posted speed limits alone don’t have a major effect on driver behavior, nor do they encourage drivers to slow down. In fact, studies have shown that arbitrarily lowering speed limits will only, at best, result in a difference of less than 2 mph within that 85th percentile.

After about 12 hours of collecting data on a section of Walnut Plain Road, Magee said in addition to the speed data, accident rate data is also part of the equation when proposing a speed limit reduction, “But it has to be a significant number of accidents.”

“Yes, I agree we do have to do something,” said Magee, “but you have to understand what we are able to do.” And we must be realistic, he emphasized, since police resources are limited.

Typically every day there are two patrol officers on duty at any time covering the roughly 40 square miles of Rochester.

“Know that I have two people on, and those people handle other day-to-day calls,” said Magee. But having said that, every cruiser that is out patrolling is equipped with forward and rear-facing radar, which is not the case in most towns. And while each cruiser is out driving that radar is running and enforcing speed limits.

The department also owns one radar trailer that depicts the speed of passing vehicles, but the problem with that, Magee said, is it cannot collect data. So if a resident complains about a specific uptick in speeding at a certain time and direction, the radar trailer cannot record the incident.

“We lack the equipment to track that,” Magee said. “Our device is so old that it doesn’t have that.” This is why the chief will request articles on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant for new technology, such as a portable radar sign that can collect data on vehicle speeds and calculate the average speed and an apparatus Magee called a “black box” that can be chained to a utility pole and inconspicuously collect data.

But the chief emphasized that after years of working in law enforcement, what he sees most often is not an actual speeding problem but rather residents’ perception of a speeding problem.

“You live there,” Magee said. “It’s emotional. You have kids, you worry. It’s hard for laypeople to accurately say what the actual speed is.”

Magee said that in 2016 there were 1,980 traffic stops for all types of violations, with 1,460 verbal warnings issued and 520 written citations – three of those to CDL licensed drivers.

Magee said only a small fraction of commercial truck drivers exceed the speed limit, although a truck travelling by an onlooker at the posted speed limit can appear much faster compared to a smaller vehicle.

“They’re loud and noisy, and to laypeople that noise and that ‘whoosh’ of air going by translates into ‘That guy’s speeding,’ even though they’re travelling at the same speed.”

It’s no secret, said the chief, that it is absolutely necessary to determine if speeding is in fact an issue in town, which is why acquiring more modern technology is vital. The price range for a radar sign and black box is about $3,500 to $4,000.

Speeding is an emotional thing. “It’s emotional when somebody speeds by your house.”

In the meantime, the chief acquainted residents with the official traffic complaint form that allows for detailed reporting like times of day and days of the week. And even though the chief himself maintains a presence on social media, “Social media is not the place to make traffic complaints.”

“You can talk about traffic problems,” Magee said, and usually he will see them posted in local group pages, but then no one makes a formal complaint.

“So I can’t fix a problem that I don’t even know exists,” he said, which is why the forum that evening was the perfect way to get the public and the police on the same page.

If the same black truck goes speeding by your house the same hour every day, Magee, “Call so we can nip it in the bud.”

“I can have [an officer] there at 6:00 … and nip that in the bud,” said Magee. “Call us! If we know, we can take care of it.”

Mike Fournier of Mattapoisett Road said that although he hasn’t witnessed a speeding problem, per se, he still thinks the speed limit should be lowered.

“I can tell you,” said Magee, “based on my experience, if I speed study that section of the road … there probably wouldn’t be any change.”

“I am more than open to considering studying that other section [of the road],” said Magee, but he cautioned residents that should the 85th percentile reflect that cars are travelling on average at a higher speed than the resident prefers, the speed limit would not only stay the same but it could potentially result in a higher speed limit, according to industry standards.

Wrapping things up that night, Magee listed the preliminary plan of action he and the residents compiled: town meeting articles for equipment, official traffic complaint forms, and resident volunteers to spend a few hours staking out problem areas (not their own streets to avoid bias) to collect speed data on behalf of the Police Department. Furthermore, the chief will host a subsequent speeding forum with residents on a Thursday night in the foreseeable future.

By Jean Perry

 

ORRJHS Students of the Month

Kevin T. Brogioli, Principal of Old Rochester Regional Junior High School, announces the following Students of the Month for October, 2017:

Green Team: Amaya McLeod & Noah LaPointe

Orange Team: Mackenzie Wilson & John Kassabian

Blue Team: Felicity Kulak & Catherine Parks

Red Team: Ava Noone & Samuel Ortega

Purple Team: Allison Ward & Sean Lund

Special Areas: Meredith Davignon & Andrew Poulin

Disagreement Over Approval Without Site Visit

In a 3-1 vote with one abstention, the Marion Conservation Commission on November 8 voted to approve the Notice of Intent for Francis Jones to raise an existing house that sits within a velocity zone 209 Wareham Road.

Conservation Commission member Jeffrey Doubrava had visited the site that day, but since the address was not on the commission’s list of site visits for November 4, Doubrava was the only commission member to have seen the property.

Commission member Shaun Walsh was opposed to closing the public hearing and voting on approval, saying, “I think it’s necessary to have a look at the wetlands line … to see if it is accurate.”

“I can’t personally vote to approve a wetlands line that the commission hasn’t had the opportunity to look at,” said Walsh. “That’s just my personal philosophy. I don’t really have any comments on the project itself … I don’t see anything … that gives me a concern.”

That being said, he added, “It’s important for us to make sure that the wetlands line is appropriately delineated.”

Commission member Joel Hartley said he trusted Doubrava’s observation and sympathized with Jones’ desire to start construction before the winter takes hold.

“I don’t see an issue with the plan as it is,” Hartley stated. Most towns have a conservation agent to visit the site ahead of time and report to the commission, Hartley pointed out, but Marion does not.

“All of us (on the commission) don’t always see all of these (site visits) anyway,” added Hartley.

“It seems very clear-cut to me,” said Doubrava before voting to approve.

Walsh reiterated that he was not prepared to approve the NOI; however, he did say, “but that’s okay. We don’t all have to agree.”

The vote to close the public hearing was 3-2, with Walsh and commission member Kristen Saint Don opposed, but the final vote was 3-1, with Walsh opposed and Saint Don abstaining.

Also during the meeting, the commission granted a Negative Determination to the Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) filed by Nancy and Jeffrey Oakes of 51 Parkway Lane to construct a fence along the side and rear of the property within the buffer zone.

“We looked at it, we looked at the flags,” said Walsh. “The location of the fence looked fine to me. No issues.”

The RDA for Dorothy and Christopher McCarthy to perform vista pruning, eradication of phragmites, and the removal of trees that are a safety hazard to the house at 9 Edgewater Lane was granted a Negative 2 and 3 Determination.

John C. Wheatley’s RDA to perform vista pruning and the eradication of all phragmites on the property at 15 Edgewater Lane was given a Negative 2 and 3 Determination.

Situated between Wheatley and the McCarthys, Millie and Paul Seeberg of 13 Edgewater Lane also received a Negative 2 and 3 Determination for vista pruning and the eradication of all phragmites on the property.

The public hearing for a RDA filed by Jane and Stephen McCarthy of 43 Dexter Road was continued until December 29 to allow for a site visit. The address was omitted from the site visit list on November 4 by error.

In other matters, the commission again took up the discussion on possible wetlands violations at 20 Front Street owned by Ann Severance after speaking with the owner and inspecting the site.

“It was clearly barked, and the area was highly altered,” said Walsh. “The bottom line is, the area has been disturbed. There are a number of conditions in the Order of Conditions that I believe were violated.”

At least six conditions – general and special – were violated, Walsh said.

Walsh will draft an Enforcement Order for the commission to consider at its next meeting, and Severance will be ordered to hire a wetlands specialist to draft a plan for wetlands restoration.

“In my opinion, the Order of Conditions was violated and the wetland area is not functioning as a wetland anymore,” Walsh stated.

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the next meeting of the Marion Conservation Commission will be on November 29 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

Marion Conservation Commission

By Jean Perry

 

Sippican Choral Society’s Christmas Concert

The Sippican Choral Society wishes to invite you to our Christmas 2017 concert in its 53rd consecutive year of singing. Sippican Choral Society, along with the SouthCoast Children’s Choir, soloists and orchestra present “Schubert’s Mass in G.” This concert promises to usher in the true spirit of the season with many delights and surprises. Under the direction of Tianxu Zhou DMA and Michelle Gordon, our accompanist, this concert includes such lovely pieces as “Christmas Day,” “O Gracious Light,” “Heilige Nacht,” as well as a few others in addition to the more passionate and expressive “Schubert’s Mass in G.”

Concert dates are Friday, December 1 at 8:00 pm at St. Lawrence Church in New Bedford and Sunday, December 3 at 4:00 pm at Wickenden Chapel, Tabor Academy, Marion. Ticket prices are $15 for general, $5 for students, and anyone 6 years and under are free. Tickets may be purchased in advance from The Bookstall in Marion, The Symphony Shop in Dartmouth, No Kidding in Mattapoisett, Euro in Fairhaven, or the day of the concerts at the door. You may also obtain tickets at BrownPaperTickets.com.

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 www.sippicanchoralsociety.org.

Board Allows Encroaching Addition

The Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals on November 9 voted to grant a variance to allow an addition to the main house at 24 Hillside Road owned by Emmett Bennett.

As Meagan Bennett explained it, the construction for the 10’ by 18’ addition for a playroom had already begun and was initially intended to cover the existing footprint of a porch, but it then evolved into a larger addition, which prompted the Bennetts to cease expansion and seek approval from the building commissioner.

For personal reasons, which she preferred not to disclose, the expanded addition was necessary, but it would further encroach the property line, required under the bylaw to be no closer than 40 feet.

The board was sympathetic to the Bennetts’ request and granted it unanimously, having found the project to satisfy the three requirements of granting the variance: not allowing the variance would result in a financial hardship; the placement of a septic system rendered the lot features unique; and the project would not be detrimental to the neighborhood.

“The third is already answered,” said ZBA Chairman Richard Cutler looking around the room void of any abutters. “Nobody cares.”

ZBA member Kirby Gilmore said, “I don’t have any issues with this. It’s way off the beaten path.” He later added, “And it isn’t like they’re only ten feet from the [property line].”

Building Commissioner Jim Buckles told the board to include in its decision that a landing on both sides of the stairs of the addition would have to be factored into the decision, which would result in a 30.8’ setback from the neighboring property line, as per the bylaw.

            In other matters, Cutler announced that the ZBA should expect two appeals of Planning Board decisions on December 14 – Wellspring Farm of 42 Hiller Road and Rochester Farms, LLC slated for Route 105. Cutler said to expect a larger than usual attendance for the meeting.

The next meeting of the Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled for December 14 at 7:00 pm at the Rochester Town Hall.

Rochester Zoning Board of Appeals

By Jean Perry

 

SLT Post-Thanksgiving Dog Walk

Walk off that post-Thanksgiving stuffing and turkey and get some fresh air with man’s best friend – your dog! Join Yelena Sheynin, Sippican Lands Trust’s Head Steward, for our fifth annual Dog Walk on Sunday, November 26 at 10:00 am at our White Eagle property.

All dogs and owners are welcome. Dogs must be leashed and under the owner’s control at all time.

The event begins at our White Eagle property kiosk. White Eagle is located off of Route 6 in Marion. Take Parlowtown Road across from the town cemetery and follow road until you reach the cul-de-sac. Bear left onto the dirt road and follow past the abandoned cranberry bog on your right. Parking is available directly past the bog and along the dirt roadside. The kiosk is a short walk beyond.

The walk is free and no registration is required. Only the worst weather will cancel an SLT walk. If a walk is canceled, then information will be posted to SLT’s website and Facebook page. For directions or further information, visit sippicanlandstrust.org or call Sippican Lands Trust at 508-748-3080.

Tobacco Regulations

Dear Editor:

First, let me thank you for consistently covering the Marion Board of Health’s (BOH) proposal to expand tobacco regulations, including the banning of flavored products like menthol cigarettes to adults while, at the same time, leaving non-menthol/non-flavored cigarettes for sale. The adult public needs to know that their rights are in jeopardy and that the BOH is proposing regulations that treat some adults differently than others.

CRR wants to make you aware that we will be reaching out to adults in Marion to directly engage them in the conversation that has been underway at the BOH for over a year. A direct mail piece will be sent to adult Marion residents, asking them to tell the BOH about their concern for losing their rights on what could be a very slippery slope for all adult decision making. CRR believes that the age-of-majority is a critical legal and social concept in our state and our democracy. We also believe that there are standards for treating legal, adult-only products, and that those standards should apply equally to all legal products with similar health profiles. In addition to the mailing, there will also be an online petition for gathering signatures and information placed in social media. For a community that recently voted to legalize marijuana, CRR believes adults in Marion need to fully understand the threat to their rights and the BOH must hear more directly from the community.

We also wish to note that CRR did not bring up the “race card” as some BOH members have suggested in your paper. Rather, the BOH did so when they proposed their regulations which treat consumers differently based on their product preference. CRR does find it disturbing, as testimony from others have pointed out in public hearings, that the BOH seeks to isolate products preferred by minorities and the LGBTQ community while they preserve nearly identical products used predominantly by the white community.

While the BOH claims they do not intend to segregate consumers, they are indeed doing so. Furthermore, comments attempting to dismiss the social and racial implications of the proposed regulations from individuals like Chris Bathin, director of the Tobacco Control Resource Center at the Public Health Institute, openly recognize that the BOH proposals do not address tobacco possession (and thereby do nothing to keep minors who possess cigarettes from using them). Mr. Bathin tries to minimize the experience-based reality presented by minority law enforcement at the public hearings while he also fails to acknowledge the subtle fact that a ban on minority preferred products implicitly tell those consumers that they are not welcome to shop in Marion stores – a fact we as retailers find troubling. Consequently, CRR feels compelled to reiterate that we welcome and serve ALL who come into our shops, and we will do all we can to offer them the products they seek.

While we applaud the desire to make fully informed decisions, CRR sincerely hopes that the BOH will soon recognize that the longer they drag out their decision making on their proposed tobacco regulations, the more they create an unpredictable environment that harms a retailer’s ability to serve the community. We believe it would be much more effective to work with retailers to educate the entire community about tobacco, rather than penalize adults, and we stand ready to help with that process. With the 100% compliance rate maintained by local retailers for all tobacco regulations over the last five years, one would think retailers have proven themselves to be worthy partners when it comes to the desire to prevent minors from accessing tobacco while preserving adults’ rights. Now it’s the BOH’s turn.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can answer any additional questions.

Sincerely,

Dennis Lane, Executive Director

Coalition for Responsible Retailing

 

The views expressed in the “Letters to the Editor” column are not necessarily those of The Wanderer, its staff or advertisers. The Wanderer will gladly accept any and all correspondence relating to timely and pertinent issues in the great Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester area, provided they include the author’s name, address and phone number for verification. We cannot publish anonymous, unsigned or unconfirmed submissions. The Wanderer reserves the right to edit, condense and otherwise alter submissions for purposes of clarity and/or spacing considerations. The Wanderer may choose to not run letters that thank businesses, and The Wanderer has the right to edit letters to omit business names. The Wanderer also reserves the right to deny publication of any submitted correspondence.