Cable TV Contract Not Yet a Done Deal

            On August 31, the Tri-Town Selectmen met again to revisit and presumably vote for the Tri-Town cable television agreement with ORCTV and to accept the updated Old Rochester Regional School District agreement previously vetted during a July meeting.

            The combined boards represented by Jordan Collyer and Jodi Bauer from Mattapoisett, Norm Hills and John Waterman from Marion, and Brad Morse, Woody Hartley, and Paul Ciaburri from Rochester, quickly dealt with the matter of the ORR School District Agreement but hit a pothole along the way when it came to ORCTV.

            During an earlier meeting, concerns arose over how the towns served by the community cable organization can have some financial oversight, given that the entity is a registered non-profit. ORCTV Director Robert Chiarito said at that time, “We’ve been operating basically on a handshake for seven years.”

            Chiarito said that the agreement had been reinstated year after year without a review process. The cable TV station conducts Board of Directors meetings, but unlike government public meetings, ORCTV’s are not posted and the selectmen from the three towns are historically disconnected. Marion Town Administrator Jay McGrail volunteered to review the proposed contract, develop a list of deliverables to satisfy the needs of the towns for more information, and bring it back to the selectmen for further discussion.

            Addressing the group, McGrail said on August 31 that Marion is now “OK with the agreement,” but there were some areas of concern that Marion wanted added to the record. That prompted Collyer to say he had not seen the letter that McGrail had read into the minutes and needed time to digest its contents, especially given that some items warranted merit by Mattapoisett as well.

            McGrail’s letter listed five areas of concern: 1. Marion provides funding so that ORCTV can provide expert services to the ORR School District, ORR, the Marion School Committee, and to Marion residents with respect to public education and communication of governmental functions; 2. While the agreement allows ORCTV membership to choose two directors from Marion residents, they shall not be called “Town of Marion Representatives.” They are not vested with authority by the Marion Select Board; 3. ORCTV’s Board of Directors is responsible for initiating the ORCTV actions and responsibilities identified in the agreement; 4. Each annual report shall include a certification from the ORCTV Board of Directors that ORCTV is in full compliance with the terms of its contract; 5. Nothing in the agreement confers unilateral change in authority to ORCTV.

            Collyer did not note which areas of McGrail’s letter were significant to Mattapoisett but said that, in all likelihood, Mattapoisett’s board would accept the agreement with some of McGrail’s language included.

            Waterman said that the other towns were not referenced in McGrail’s letter because, after the previous Tri-Town Selectmen’s meeting, Marion officials believed the other boards were not in agreement with their concerns. Marion and Rochester voted to accept the agreement.

            Earlier in the meeting, the ORR School District agreement was discussed, and McGrail said the language in the agreement now “captured the essence and the spirit of conversations between the towns and the district.”

            All three towns’ selectmen will now go to their respective Fall Special Town Meetings planning to recommend the ORR School District agreement as accepted.

Tri-Town Board of Selectmen

By Marilou Newell

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