Some Missed Boil Order Alert

            Woody Hartley told his fellow Rochester Select Board members during Monday night’s meeting that he is concerned that the Reverse 911 system, most recently used in October to alert residents of the Boil Order due to the discovery of E. coli bacteria in Marion’s water supply that feeds a section of Rochester, was not sufficiently identifiable as being authentic.

            “It doesn’t say (on the display screen) it’s from the Town of Rochester,” he explained.

            Select Board member Paul Ciaburri said that is because the calls emanate from Plymouth County.

            “It looks like a spam call so … it’s not very effective. What can we do?” asked Hartley, noting that his neighbor never received the call. “People could have been drinking water and could have been sick. … That was important, that was dangerous, and people could have been ill.”

            Ciaburri, who acts as a liaison to Plymouth County, said it would be “monumentally expensive to have our own (Reverse 911 system). This doesn’t cost the town a cent.” He also noted that, unlisted cell phones do not receive Reverse 911 calls.

            Town Counsel Blair Bailey suggested proactive steps to inform residents of the number used by the Reverse 911 system. “One other solution in other towns … put out notification of the number it will come from so it doesn’t get caught by any filters. Tell people how it’s going to come through and they can add it as a contact,” he said.

            Hartley told the board that he attended the November meeting of the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District Commission to seek information on the origin of the E. coli contamination that affected Rochester residents in late October.

            “My questions were answered quite well,” he said, referencing explanations from Mattapoisett Water and MRV Treatment Plant director Henri Renauld and Fairhaven-based MRV Chairman Jeff Furtado, who are operating on the basis that a ruptured wall in the Tinkham Lane well in Fairhaven is to blame.

            That well was immediately removed from service and repaired. Meantime, the MRV has continued a successful chlorination process.

            Rochester’s recycling program will go back to the way it was prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

            Sonny Wilkens of Simple Recycling appeared in a 6:05 pm appointment for contract discussion and explained to the board that, with only two facilities in the entire Boston metropolitan area (Woburn and Taunton), the pandemic leveraged changes in the program that were necessary for the company’s survival.

            “Some facilities closed,” said Wilkens. “One of the challenges in the last six months was with labor … being able to have drivers available to pick up the material to fulfill our obligations. … Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been looking to create efficiency and keep as many of the partners (as we can).”

            Wilkens said that Simple Recycling moved from a curbside program to a scheduled pickup, “pretty much an on-demand type of program.” Over the last four to five months, the company converted quite a few of the programs over, and some of the agreements are up including Rochester’s.

            Town Administrator Suzanne Szyndlar, who suggested Wilkens discuss the matter in an appointment with the Select Board, clarified that the format stated in the proposed four-year contract is not “on-demand” but is “curbside pickup on our recycling day.”

            With six communities in the area recycling on a curbside basis, Wilkens apparently confused with another town’s contract.

            “So back to the way it was in the start. I’m in favor of anything we can do to assist the residents,” said Select Board Chairman Brad Morse, who due to illness attended the meeting via Zoom (Hartley acted as chair).

            Rochester is scheduled for Friday pickups, according to Wilkens.

            “We had stopped doing the rebates as part of the adjustment to the Covid … we would like to reinstall the rebate,” he said.

            The board agreed and voted to authorize Szyndlar to sign the new contract on behalf of the town.

            In her Town Administrator’s Report, Szyndlar told the board members that letters regarding the town’s frustration with lack of progress in establishing a municipal aggregation for electricity billing were ready for their signatures. The letters will ask Representative William Straus and Senator Michael Rodrigues for their assistance in expediting the process.

            COVID-19 vaccination clinics for children will be held at the Fire Station on Monday, November 29, for ages 5-11 and on Tuesday, November 30 for ages 12 and over. A booster clinic will be held on Thursday, December 16, for ages 12 and over. Families must register on the Board of Health page at

            The board told Szyndlar it would approve scheduling the 2022 Annual Town Meeting on Monday, May 23, pending availability of Rochester Memorial School. It would otherwise be held on May 16. The Town Election is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25.

            After Bailey reported on “a very productive call” with the attorney representing the solar provider and company representatives regarding stipulations that they notify Rochester Memorial School when planning to work on site, he advised the board to sign the contact he had just received pending his review of the changes.

            The board voted to authorize Szyndlar to sign the lease and notice of lease including the PILOT documents.

            At the request of Town Clerk Paul Dawson, the board voted to approve the appointments of Republican Arthur D. Smith to a three-year term and Democrat Halima Tiffany to a two-year term as Registrar of Voters. A second member of the Democratic Party will be appointed to a one-year term in keeping with the protocol that necessarily includes Dawson.

            The selectmen signed off on the reappointment of Payroll Administrator Diana Knapp to the role of assistant treasurer to Town Treasurer Kory Lydon.

            After 15 years of service, Public Library Director Gail Roberts officially gave her retirement notice effective June 30, 2022. Trustees will begin their search in January. A masters degree is preferred for applicants. “Both of my kids grew up going to Gail and she was phenomenal,” said Bailey.

            The Select Board voted to approve Fire Chief Scott Weigel’s request that the town declare its 1965 Boston Whaler boat and trailer surplus equipment. The department needed the board’s vote in order to set in motion a proposal to replace it a with new inflatable rescue boat and trailer.

            Hartley reported to the board on a very successful Veterans Day event held on November 11 by the Rochester Council on Aging at the Senior Center. Twenty-seven veterans were among the 70 residents in attendance for a special honor including the Boy Scouts Troop 31 honor guard and a new COA flag acquired by Representative William Keating.

            Speakers included Tri-Town Veterans Agent Chris Gerrior and Rochester veteran Dave Watling. “It was a very moving evening,” said Hartley.

            Hartley volunteered to once again be designated Police Union contract negotiation representative.

            The selectmen voted to sign the annual Animal Shelter Agreement with the Town of Lakeville. The new agreement will have a $10 per dog per day increase.

            Hartley brought to the board’s attention a housing opportunity sponsored by the Buzzards Bay Area Habitat for Humanity. Applications are being accepted for two three-bedroom duplex-style homes in Westport, and information on eligibility and cost is accessible at

            The Fire Department has coordinated a ride around town and is scheduling a Sunday, December 5, ride that afternoon with Santa Claus.

            Select Board meetings via Zoom are being held with a new, 360-degree camera technology that senses sound and aims the camera accordingly.

            The Select Board will not meet again until Monday, December 6, at 6:00 pm, when it will vote on annual license renewals.

Rochester Select Board

By Mick Colageo

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