The Flora Foundation

On Sunday, May 17, Rachel McCoog’s senior project came to an exciting close as she planned and hosted a variety of events to raise money for her recently established Flora Foundation.

After attending a Learning Through Service trip with Tabor Academy classmates, McCoog was inspired to create her own foundation. The goal of the Flora Foundation is to assist single mothers in transitional homes with sending their children to day care and summer programs so that they can work and make a living.

McCoog’s foundation has developed over the past year as the number of families she has raised money for increases and she promotes awareness in the local and Tabor communities. For her senior project, McCoog focused on planning a variety of events to raise money for her cause.

McCoog is also co-head of the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), and this group has put on events that raise money for the foundation while promoting awareness for the GSA as well.

The weekend of activities kicked off with a Tabor fire during which bonfires were located around campus with different themes such as live music, s’mores, and games. Donation boxes were located at the fire in order to raise money for the Flora Foundation.

A paint dance was the next event on Saturday night. Money was raised through ticket sales and attendees were sprayed with paint upon entry. Lots of students came out for the event and about $600 was raised from the dance alone.

The biggest event of the weekend was the Lap-A-Thon on Sunday. Lots of student and faculty teams participated, and a dozen student volunteers assisted McCoog in running the event.

Local restaurants and businesses donated raffle prizes to the cause, and a large amount of the money raised came from raffle entries. McCoog found the support of the Tri-Town incredibly important in her efforts.

The Lap-A-Thon had a variety of themes. For the first half hour, there was live music and Emily Dineen performed for the crowd. Next was a color run in which powder was splattered on runners in lots of colors. Then there was a passport relay competition, and for each lap that a team completed, they received a stamp. The winning team earned free raffle tickets.

Perhaps most importantly, a family that the Flora Foundation is assisting was able to attend the event and meet the participants. The kids will be attending camp this summer as a result of the money that McCoog has raised and their mother will be able to have a chance to work.

Senior Abi Taber had a great time at the event and especially enjoyed meeting the children. Taber found it refreshing to participate in this unique cause and finds it exciting “to make a difference in their childhood.”

McCoog was pleased with her event and the money that she raised throughout her project, which totaled over $7000.

“I think that the Lap-A-Thon and my senior project were great successes and I couldn’t have done it without the tremendous support I have gotten from our whole community,” says McCoog.

Visit www.theflorafoundation.org for more information.

By Julia O’Rourke

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Town Optimistic about NPDES Progress

Town Administrator Paul Dawson told the Marion Board of Selectmen on May 19 that after a recent meeting with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, he felt that the Town’s concerns over the EPA’s draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit were “truly listened to” by DEP staff.

“All of the agencies represented at that meeting … came thoroughly prepared and asked a lot of good, thoughtful questions,” Dawson said. “I got the sense that they understood completely our point.”

Selectman Jonathan Henry accompanied Dawson to the meeting in Boston, and said he was impressed with the staff’s knowledge of Marion’s current situation, including the history of the creation of the town’s three wastewater lagoons the new NPDES permit no longer allows for use.

“I felt gratified that they paid attention to us and didn’t just say, ‘yeah, okay,’” said Henry.

Town Meeting on May 11 approved the appropriation of $455,000 towards engineering and legal research to assist the Town in convincing the EPA to reconsider the permit and allow Marion to devise alternative plans for meeting the pollutant standards of the NPDES.

“The DEP will assist the Town in working with the EPA and facilitating the meeting and try to get some of the larger concerns addressed,” said Dawson.

Dawson said it was a “fruitful” meeting.

“It sounds encouraging,” said newly appointed Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Stephen Cushing.

Also during the meeting, the board handed over responsibility of Goldovitz Bog to the Marion Open Space Acquisition Commission after MOSAC member John Rockwell approached the board expressing the commission’s desire to maintain it.

Rockwell said the commission, in conjunction with other groups such as the Sippican Lands Trust, wishes to maintain the existing trails that interconnect with other lands trust properties. Rockwell said, without the authority to allow the trail maintenance, he cannot grant permission to alter the property unless selectmen grant that authority to MOSAC.

“That’s fine,” said Henry. “I think in most instances it’s been our desire to get it (the property) into the hands of the people who do this because we don’t.” Cushing said the property maintenance was “low on the radar screen” for the board.

Conservation Commission Chairman Norman Hills only cautioned the board and Rockwell that phragmites are taking over the site and, unless some kind of maintenance plan is established, they will choke out the wetlands.

“It’s going to be overrun in a short time if we don’t do something,” said Hills. “They’ll just fill up the bogs…. If we don’t do something, that stuff is going to get ahead of us.”

But with a budget of zero dollars, MOSAC does not have the money or the personpower to undertake a phragmite removal and maintenance project. Cushing asked aloud if this were a matter the selectmen would want to “throw money at.”

Hills warned that the longer it takes the Town to act, the more money it would cost.

The board decided to wait and see and granted overseeing authority to MOSAC.

In other matters, the board voted to accept the one single bid submitted for the Fourth of July fireworks display.

Selectmen awarded the contract to Atlas PyroVision Entertainment Group for $32,750. The company also provided the fireworks display for the City of Boston over the Esplanade, and the board said the Town should expect a lot of “oohs and ahhs” on July 4.

The next meeting of the Marion Board of Selectmen is scheduled for June 2 at 7:00 pm at the Marion Town House.

By Jean Perry

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Upper Cape Tech Graduation

The Upper Cape Tech graduation ceremony will take place Sunday, June 7 at 1:00 pm on the Upper Cape Tech campus. If inclement weather, the ceremony will be held inside the gymnasium at 3:00 pm.

Adult Literacy Tutoring at the Mattapoisett Library

A new program at the Mattapoisett Free Public Library offers the opportunity for adults and out-of-school youth over 16 to prepare for a high school equivalency diploma with the help of a tutor – for free. The new Hi-Set exam, which has replaced the GED test, is challenging for many, and this program will help students prepare at their own pace. Anyone is welcome to participate.

Tutoring is also available for those whose first language is not English but who would like to improve their English reading, writing, and conversational skills. “The cultural exchange is very enjoyable,” stated one tutor. “We love to have conversations about all sorts of topics and get to know one another.”

“It’s never too late to improve one’s reading skills,” offered library director Susan Pizzolato. “Adults sometimes come in for reading assistance who already have high school diplomas but want to read more fluently. Sometimes their motivation is wishing to read more confidently to their grandchildren. There are many reasons why someone doesn’t read at the level he wishes he could. This is a wonderful, discreet way to work with a caring adult who can help.”

The program also offers basic computer assistance and basic money management. These important skills can sometimes need brushing up, especially for older adults or those who never learned to manage a check book.

Volunteer tutors are paired with adult learners, depending on the educational goals of the learner and convenient times for both. Tutoring sessions are typically once a week at the library. All materials are provided by the library.

Anyone wishing to tutor is encouraged to contact Deena Kinsky by leaving a message at the library 508-758-4171 or emailing her at 2learn2read@gmail.com. No previous teaching or tutoring experience is necessary. Each tutor will receive training and an orientation to the program.

This one-on-one, confidential tutoring program has been funded with a grant from The Marianne J. H. Witherby Foundation. Brochures describing the program are available at the Mattapoisett Library, located at 7 Barstow Street.

Mattapoisett Democratic Town Committee

The Mattapoisett Democratic Town Committee will hold its annual caucus on Saturday, June 6 at 10:15 am in the lower level conference room in the Mattapoisett Library to elect four delegates and four alternates – equally divided between men and women – to The Democratic State Convention to be held on Saturday, September 19 at MassMutual Center in Springfield.

The Town Democratic Committee encourages all voters registered as of January 31, 2015 as Democrats in Mattapoisett to attend the caucus so that they can either vote for delegates or run for election as a delegate. Registered voters do not have to be members of the town committee to run for election as a convention delegate. Persons seeking election can nominate themselves.

Attending a state Democratic Convention is a great way to meet people who share similar political views with you. Delegates have opportunities to see and hear from many of our elected state officials as well as those who are the organizers and officials of our state party. This year’s action agenda will feature forums, organizing workshops, exciting speakers and much more.

Memorial Day Service 2015

Memorial Day in Mattapoisett was observed as it traditionally is, with ceremonies in front of the Mattapoisett Library followed by the parade march to Cushing Cemetery. This year’s guest speaker, Mattapoisett resident U.S. Army Sergeant Edward Sweeney, Jr. stirred the emotions of those in attendance with his speech about sacrifice and the American way of life. The Old Hammondtown School Band was impressive with its performance of several patriotic songs, and Representative William Straus, the selectmen, and several local veterans were also part of the program. Photos by Jean Perry

 

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Full-time Substitute Position Approved

On May 18, the Mattapoisett School Committee voted in favor of a full-time substitute teaching position at Center School where projected kindergarten and first-grade enrollments have committee members concerned about swelling class sizes.

“We anticipate 54 [students] coming into kindergarten,” Principal Rosemary Bowman said. This figure accounts for the typical fluctuations due to prospective students moving out of town, as well as the movement of students into the district from out of town or from private schools.

Committee members noted, however, that it would not take that many additional students—a mere increase of two per cohort—to boost class sizes to 19, which is too many for what the committee feels are the most critical years of a student’s education.

“You always look to the youngest,” Bowman said about adjusting class sizes with the addition of faculty members. “The debate has been between kindergarten and first grade.”

Bowman added, in discussing the current and projected enrollments of the different cohorts with Assistant Principal Kevin Tavares, “it makes the most sense to have [smaller classes] in kindergarten.”

In a creative solution, Superintendent Doug White suggested that the committee consider hiring a certified teacher for a one-year substitute teaching position.

“That has been the biggest problem,” White said. “Securing highly qualified substitutes.”

Bowman explained to the committee that the school would benefit from having a substitute who reports to the building every day, but who could also be appointed to lead a class section when class sizes are too large for the current staffing.

Having a certified teacher already working in the school would help make hiring more efficient because the candidate would be selected from a pool that an interview committee had previously screened.

“I think it’s a pretty good hybrid mix,” Chairman James Higgins said before motioning for a vote. The committee unanimously voted to move forward with the full-time substitute teaching position.

In other business, the School Committee voted to increase the cost of the school lunches by 25 cents. Students will now be able to purchase a school lunch for $2.75 instead of $2.50.

“We’re seeing increased food and labor costs each year,” Food Service Director Caitlin Meagher said. She explained that increasing the cost of lunch would not only help defray these costs, but help the school replace many of its appliances that are swiftly aging.

Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos reviewed the professional development calendar for the next school year, which the committee approved. The calendar features a first kick-off event in September. A subsequent professional development event will “bring together teachers from Grades 6, 7, and 8 for some vertical teaming,” Frangos said.

“That was a very detailed layout of professional development for the next year,” Higgins praised.

In her principal’s report, Bowman announced that for the first time, Center School and Old Hammondtown School will have a joint Flag Day celebration. Students will attend Flag Day dressed as an American hero whom they have researched in preparation for the event.

Finally, prior to the adjournment of the Mattapoisett School Committee, many members expressed thanks to the Town.

“Support from the Town, greatly appreciated, will support the learning of our students,” White said. “I want to thank the sub-committee, as well as the full School Committee for the budget,” he added.

Higgins echoed White’s words.

“We were lucky with the support of our town to pass a very good budget,” Higgins said.

After reviewing minor scheduling conflicts, the Mattapoisett School Committee confirmed that the next meeting will be Tuesday, June 9 at 7:00 pm at Center School.

By Anne Smith

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Angry Neighbors Speak Out

During an otherwise routine night of hearings, the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission on May 14 heard from two neighbors on two different issues in tones that left no doubt they were angry.

First to voice discontent was Becky Lockwood, 2 Mulberry Drive, regarding an application by Elizabeth Chin, 22 Holly Lane, for the construction of a breezeway with an attached garage.

Lockwood spoke up when it appeared as if the commission was going to take a vote in favor of conditioning the application before asking for public comment. Chairman Bob Rogers acknowledged her request.

Lockwood began by saying that earlier attempts by the Chins to build this structure had been denied by previous commissions. Lockwood said, at those hearings, the commission members at that time felt the structure was too close to the wetlands boarding the property.

“I’m wondering what is different this time,” said Lockwood. She claimed that construction would negatively affect her property by increasing stormwater runoff, which she asserted is already a problem.

Rogers said the plans did not indicate any contour changes that would increase the amount of runoff currently handled by a catch basin near the property, and the structure would be 54 feet from the wetlands, adding that the application was a reasonable request.

Lockwood continued, however, that it didn’t make sense that a project previously denied could now be acceptable, saying, “But it’s okay now?”

Rogers said anyone could file a Notice of Intent, and prior hearings were not pertinent.

“We don’t have to honor prior denials,” Rogers told Lockwood.

Again, she said a tremendous amount of water flowed over the property, prompting commission member Tom Copps to voice his position by saying, “It is a reasonable application.”

Lockwood stated for the record, “I am extremely discouraged because people are building closer and closer to the wetlands.” She felt such construction diminished the value of her home, but more importantly, constricted the movement and habitat of the endangered Eastern box turtles in her neighborhood.

The Chins were represented by Brad Bertolo of JC Engineering of Wareham. Bertolo said that turtle barriers could and would be installed prior to construction and that a stormwater catch basin noted by Highway Superintendent Barry Denham would be delineated.

The commission approved the application.

Later in the meeting, Ron Silvia of 15 Cove Street met informally to once again bring up the issue of an additional sewer stub being added to the Cove Street water and sewer project.

He had met with the commission last winter on the same topic, but eventually was pointed in the direction of public hearings held by the Water and Sewer Commission as the right place to air his concerns.

On this night, he was back before the Conservation Commission for the same stub location – a violation of the commission’s Order of Conditions, in his opinion.

Rogers made it clear he wasn’t going to spend much time on the topic because the commission did not have an application before them and therefore it was not their jurisdiction to hear his concerns.

“I can’t help you, Ron,” Rogers said. Rogers told Silvia, without an application, there was nothing to discuss with the commission.

Engineer Rich Charon, who was in attendance for other matters, was asked by Rogers to speak on behalf of his Cove Street clients, where the suspect stub would allegedly be installed.

Charon said that his clients did approach the Water and Sewer Commission on the possibility of receiving permission to install a connection to the yet-to-be constructed sewer system, post completion. He said that if the Water and Sewer Commission granted that application, the clients would assume all financial responsibilities associated with the tie-in. Charon also confirmed that the clients may seek a variance to build a home on the lot, but said nothing was being advanced by the property owners at this time.

That did not sit well with Silvia who said, if such construction was allowed on the barrier beach, other property owners with beach frontage might do the same thing. He was clearly angered by Charon’s comments.

Rogers shut down any further conversation on the subject and directed Silvia to the Water and Sewer Commission.

Other business conducted included the filing of two Notices of Intent approved for The Preserve at the Bay Club on Fieldstone Drive, as well as the issuance of three Certificates of Compliance also along Fieldstone Drive.

An Order of Conditions was issued to Christopher and Veronica Brockwell, 13 Randall Road, for the purpose of clearing two acres of wooded land for pastures and the construction of a new barn.

A negative determination was issued to Audrey Andrews, 4 Parker Street, for septic system repairs.

Earlier in the evening, commission member Copps announced he would not be seeking a second term on the commission and invited the public to come forward should anyone wish to fill his vacancy. Both current Chairman Rogers and former Chairman Peter Newton thanked Copps for his public service and “good representation on behalf of the Town.”

The next meeting of the Mattapoisett Conservation Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 at 6:30 pm in the Mattapoisett Town Hall conference room.

By Marilou Newell

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Frogs at the Bogs

Listen to the melodic sound of frogs during “Frogs at the Bogs,” a free outdoor exploration program at The Bogs at the Mattapoisett River Reserve (approximately 137 Acushnet Rd.) on Friday, May 29 from 7:00 – 8:00 pm. During this guided evening walk hosted by the Buzzards Bay Coalition, you’ll learn some fun facts about frogs and maybe even see a few frogs yourself! The program will include frog and marsh discovery activities that families of all ages will enjoy.

This program is part of the Coalition’s Bay Adventures series – programs designed for explorers of all ages to get outside and discover Buzzards Bay. To learn more about all our upcoming Bay Adventures, visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org/BayAdventures.

Registration is required for all Bay Adventures. To RSVP for this program, email bayadventures@savebuzzardsbay.org or call 508-999-6363 ext. 219.

Keystone Project Participant

Laurene Gerrior of Rochester successfully completed the three-day Training Workshop for the Keystone Project, held at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, April 16 -19. She attended representing both the Rochester Conservation Commission and the Rochester Land Trust.

In ecology, a keystone species is one whose impacts on its environment are larger and greater than would be expected from one species. The Keystone Project invests education and reference materials in important, keystone people making a large impact at their local level. The training covers subjects such as forest ecology and management, wildlife management, land protection, and community outreach. In exchange for the training and take-home resources, graduates of the program, called Cooperators, agree to return to their communities and volunteer at least 30-hours of their time towards projects that promote forest and wildlife conservation. For more information about the Keystone Project, visit http://masskeystone.net/.

The Keystone Project is designed to stimulate forest landowners and community opinion leaders to be advocates of sound forest conservation and to help inform the land management and conservation decisions of their friends, neighbors, organizations, and communities. Keystone Cooperators can be very effective in doing this, since they are well-connected community leaders. Other past Cooperator projects have included permanently conserving their own land, initiating a forest landowner cooperative, promoting management on municipal and conservation lands, writing newspaper articles, hosting educational events, and improving their own properties for wildlife, recreation, and timber.

The Keystone Project has reached over 450 community opinion leaders and landowners over 24 years. In 2013, Keystone Cooperators collectively volunteered over 44,636 hours to conservation-related activities, the equivalent of 22 full-time conservation positions, 63% of which were volunteer hours, reached 15,033 people, and made 1,742 referrals to foresters, land trusts and other resources. Cooperators reported owning or being involved in the management decisions (e.g., land trust, town own) on over 143,000 acres of land.

More than three-fourths of all woodland in Massachusetts is owned by thousands of private families and individuals. Much of this land is at risk of conversion to developed uses. It is important to reach woodland owners and communities with information on the care of this land. Keystone training is designed to provide Cooperators with skills and information to better engage in this important activity at the local level.

The Keystone Project is organized by the University of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Conservation and UMass Extension, with support from MA DCR, the Harvard Forest, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the MA Chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

For more information on forest conservation or Keystone, contact Paul Catanzaro, Extension Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts, 413-545-4839, cat@umext.umass.edu.