Health Agent Misreports On EEE Death

            During the August 13 meeting of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen, Town Administrator Michael Gagne said that Mattapoisett Health Agent Dale Barrows reported to him that the unidentified Tri-Town resident who had contracted Easter Equine Encephalitis (EEE) died of the virus earlier in the day. That information, however, was wrong.

            Barrows’ incorrect information stopped the presses early Wednesday morning, August 14, after Gagne sent The Wanderer an email correcting the misinformation.

            “I contacted Dale Barrow [sic] last night and he stated he received bad information and he apologized for his mistake and the man had not passed but was in a coma,” Gagne wrote. “I’m sorry for the situation but I took it for fact when it came from our Town Health Agent and he is also a member of the Rochester Board of Health. So sorry.”

            During the meeting, Gagne said that Plymouth County Mosquito Control (PCMC) had been inundated with calls from residents throughout the county since the virus was first detected. He said that residents may request special sprayings for specific areas through this service; however, given inadequate staffing at the county level and the volume of calls, the best way to contact the agency is by fax, he noted.

            Gagne said that while the state awaits the latest data on mosquitos collected, they had promised to “beef up” spraying efforts. Residents wishing to reach out to the PCMC may send their requests via fax to 781-582-1276.

            Earlier in the evening, the selectmen reopened the hearing for Pandolphi’s Mattapoisett Diner on its request for an all-alcohol license. Once again coming before the board was Brian Vose. Selectman Paul Silva stood fast in his position that the request lacked merit, but he would agree to a wine and malt liquor license.

            Selectmen Jordan Collyer and Tyler Macallister were united in their position that the request was one they could support.

            “I want to give you all the tools you need to succeed,” Macallister said.

            Pending review and permitting from the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, the license will be issued with a termination date of December 31 at which time Vose may request a renewal.

            The selectmen also met with Dr. Dale Levitt who gave a presentation on his proposal to explore the potential of oyster farming at the abandoned Taylor Seafood site off Brandt Point.

            Levitt is a professor of marine biology and an aquaculture specialist at Roger Williams University. He said he would be retiring as an educator, but wanted to “put his money where his mouth is” and join with two partners in an oyster-farming endeavor.

            Under the business name Blue Stream Shellfish LLC, Levitt, along with partners Keith Wilda and Jim Malandrinos, currently operate fish hatcheries in Barnstable, Turner’s Falls, and Charleston, New Hampshire.

            Levitt explained that via a license transfer for 10 of the 100 acres the town currently holds, Blue Stream would begin aquaculture activities in tandem with kelp farming. He said that during the first year while performing those activities, Blue Stream would also map the seabed in the area to locate abandoned equipment and to study the seafloor. The second year, if results warranted, Blue Stream would take another 10 acres continuing to study “proof of the concept” and, in the third year, another 10 acres would be added to their license agreement. He said he would work closely with the board and the harbormaster throughout the three-year cycle.

            Levitt said the benefits to the community from the work done by Blue Stream would include clean-up of the 100-acre site, payment of $200 per acre, bond posting, and technology transfer. On this last point he said his team would provide technical assistance to the town on matters related to aquaculture.

            The selectmen did not discuss the date of the next scheduled meeting, but told Levitt a public hearing would be placed on the agenda to fully vet his proposal.

            On hand to hear the presentation and making his first public appearance was newly appointed Harbormaster Jamie Macintosh flanked by Assistant Harbormaster Wayne Ferreira.

            Gagne also reported that two large grant proposals had been submitted for work planned for Industrial Drive. He said that a team of volunteers aided in preparing documents for a $748,000 federal grant from the Economic Development Agency and a $770,000 grant from Massachusetts Works. He said that engineering that has already taken place should help to position the roadway and infrastructure project favorably as both require projects to be “shovel-ready”, adding that the project had also received favorable support from neighboring towns.

            Gagne gave a special shout-out to David McIntire, Barry Denham, Field Engineering, and bike path advocates Robin Lapore and Bonne DeSousa for their work on preparing documentation for the grant applications. State Representative Bill Straus and Senator Mark Montigny were also appreciated for their support.

            In other grant news, Gagne said that Lt. Governor Karyn Polito’s office had sent out notification of upcoming grant opportunities in a program managed by the Massachusetts Seaport Council. He said that monies from this $50 million war chest may be used for both commercial and recreational waterfront wharves and structures.

            “It’s a big slug of money,” said Gagne. He said he would pull together engineering work already completed for Long Wharf, which has long been identified as needing a multi-million-dollar facelift.

            In other matters, it may still be summer, but Santa’s name was mentioned when Geoff Smith came before the selectmen to request permission to hold a Santa Road Race on December 7.

            Smith said he was relocating the race from New Bedford to Mattapoisett due to traffic safety concerns and that the Mattapoisett course had been discussed with both the fire department and the police department with no issues found. He said that each participant would receive a Santa suit for the run/walk 5K event. The race headquarters will be located at the American Legion, 3 Depot Street.

            The organization will also be the recipient of proceeds from the race, Smith said.

            The selectmen approved the request.

             And reminding us that it is, in fact, still summer, the fourth annual Doggie-Walkathon is planned for August 24 from 8:00 am until noon, stepping off from Center School. Donations will be used in support of a public dog park in the community, a project spearheaded by resident Freeman Bauer.

            The next meeting date of the Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen will be announced in the next several days.

Mattapoisett Board of Selectmen

By Marilou Newell and Jean Perry

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