The W-H boys’ soccer team is holding a bottle/can drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, July 22 to raise funds in support of the soccer program. Please help by bringing your empty bottles and cans to the Whitman-Hanson Regional High School (front entrance on Franklin Street).
WHITMAN — A public hearing on the status of the alcoholic beverage license issued to O’Toole’s pub, already delayed by legal negotiations, has been again rescheduled — this time, officials say, for the final time. The matter will be on the agenda for the Tuesday, Aug. 15 selectmen’s meeting.
Whitman Selectmen were scheduled to conduct a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday, July 18 about the license at the 24 Raynor Ave. business following police investigations of disturbances at the pub, but Town Administrator Frank Lynam noted that he communicated with town counsel last week to confirm the plan to move forward. On Monday afternoon, however, after an email had been forwarded to O’Toole’s lawyer to confirm that all legal hurdles were cleared, that attorney requested additional information from the town.
“We responded and are providing them with copies of a recording and other items that are being requested,” Lynam said. “That will go out [Wednesday, July 19]. The hearing will be scheduled for Aug. 15 and it will occur.”
He said it was the third postponement of the hearing.
Lynam also noted that — after Assistant Town Administrator Lisa Green had announced last month that the town had received a $197,000 green communities grant for boiler replacement at the Fire Department and Library as well as an energy management system for the Library — the approved grant amounts were reduced by the calculation of expected energy savings from the new boilers.
That means funds will have to be used from the Fire Department revenue account for that boiler. At the Library, a $17,050 request to make up the difference in the $80,000 worth of improvements to the Library ran into a snag. Director Andrea Rounds has told Lynam she does not want to use available trust fund money for the work.
“Frankly, we don’t have the money available to make up the difference right now,” he said. “I guess we’ll be having a discussion in August and either the additional money will be available or we’re going to have to pass on that opportunity for the boiler and energy system.”
“That’s a lot of capital to pass over,” Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski said.
Lynam also noted the town, via the Library, had received $300,000 in a bequest from a patron for things other than library operating expenses.
The current boiler is original to the 1988 construction of the Library building.
“So, we’ll have a boiler that’s worth about $30,000 or $40,000 that we only have to pay $17,000 for — why wouldn’t we do that?” Selectman Dan Salvucci said.
“That’s a question we’ll have to ask,” Lynam said.
Salvucci also reminded motorists using side streets as detours during a DPW paving project on School Street to drive slowly.
“If you’re detoured on a secondary street, watch your speed, there’s lots of kids playing,” he said.
In other business, the board voted 3-0 to appoint Laura L. Howe to the post of primary animal control officer — on an on-call basis from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. — and Mary A. Drake as secondary animal control officer, pending both women’s completion of mandatory hiring processes. Selectmen Randy LaMattina and Scott Lambiase were absent.
“Laura has expressed great interest in serving the community in this capacity,” Lynam said.
Nita Sault was appointed to a vacancy on the Whitman Cultural Council. Both Howe and Sault had run for seats on the board of Selectmen in the May annual Town Elections and had expressed interest in further involvement in town activities after their campaigns fell short.
Selectmen approved a resolution to authorize the signing of a lease-purchase agreement for a sidewalk plow as supported by voters at the May 1 Town Meeting.
Lynam explained that, in order to complete the lease-purchase agreement, there are documents to be signed on behalf of the board.
Selectmen also approved a Class II auto dealer’s license for Ricardo Miranda Filho for his business RT Auto Sales & Repair at 288 Essex St.
The building inspector had no concerns about the application, provided the business removes all inoperable vehicles from the premises and that cars are displayed according to the site plan.
“I will try to make the place better,” Filho said in brief remarks to the board after their vote. “We’ll put nice signs there, better cars there, and keep it clean.”
Selectman Brian Bezanson lauded the Recreation Commission for the annual Fourth of July Family Field Day program.
“They do a great job and they’re giving up their holiday to do it,” he said. “I want to thank all the volunteers.”
HANOVER — Faced with the need for expansion to accommodate new educational standards and increasing enrollment — and having been passed over twice in recent years for MSBA funding — South Shore Regional Vocational Educational Technical High School is preparing to make the argument to go ahead with the work on its own.
“We want to serve the communities and the taxpayers who are sending their students here, certainly, but the status quo isn’t good enough anymore,” said Superintendent-Director Dr. Thomas J. Hickey. “Knowing what we want and asking once is important.”
That means preparing information to present to member communities illustrating the need for expansion, as well as how it can be done, with or without borrowing funds, to accomplish all the goals.
On Thursday, July 13 members of the SSVT Regional School Committee’s Capital Projects Subcommittee met to discuss that work, with the issue slated to go before the full committee on Wednesday, July 19.
“The Capital Projects Subcommittee is a logical place to start in terms of determining what steps we might take,” Hickey said. “A well-documented plan is expected to address that across the board.”
The aim is development of a master facilities plan encompassing the relative health of the building, such as Tri-County Vocational in Wakefield produced last year. Hickey supplied copies to the subcommittee for reference.
“We all know the motivation for the discussion — increased enrollment, increased demand — the building is not getting any younger,” Hickey said. “We know we need more space, what’s inside the space we have needs to be modernized, and there’s no guarantee that we’re going to get any support from the [Mass. School Building Authority] MSBA.”
The state funding agency has limited funds and an increasing number of applicants, some with more acute need. SSVT’s stabilization fund allows the school to plan and present an adequate argument to the member towns.
Possible out-buildings in which to place shops to free up space for other purposed in the main building are an option. Such self-contained buildings that are affordable within a budget year, are about 6,000 square feet are the type of project that the school can fund on its own in a single budget year. That size is considered helpful, but is not likely to be a lot in “the world of vocational shop space,” Hickey said.
The school, surrounded by wetlands does not have a lot of buildable space available and it uses a septic system because sewerage is not available.
Larger projects, perhaps a larger one that can be funded through borrowing or through a “deeper part of the stabilization fund, something that we could not have our kids in their shops do” are also possible.
“There’s not a whole lot that our kids can’t do,” said committee member Robert Mahoney of Rockland. He noted that the panel is not looking for the funding for a $100,000 feasibility study or a $6 million building. “We’re coming [to towns] for X-amount of dollars to buy eight out-buildings that’s going to be very minimal to bring us up to where we need to be.”
Septic capacity should also be included in any feasibility study in case an expansion project triggers the need for adding a wastewater treatment facility for the school, Hickey advised. Septic capacity hinges on the demand and number of fixtures in the building.
When the new wing was completed in 1993 there were 460 students at SSVT with 650 expected as of the 2017-18 school year.
Hickey said that, while enrollment in sending towns is trending down, SSVT’s enrollment for those towns is holding steady — with out-of-disctrict enrollments increasing.
“We’ve got to stop what we’re doing,” Cohasset member Kenneth Thayer said “We’ve got to expand the building, get the building up to snuff. Students should be able to come in and go to school here. We want to add to it.”
He forecast that the new horticulture/landscaping and plumbing programs will be very popular, necessitating new space. He advocated that, if five out-buildings can be constructed, it may be cheaper to do now than “down the road.”
Hickey said, given present space constraints, the horticulture program may have to limit its first class to about 12 students. Building toward 50 by the time those freshmen graduate.
“Other then metal fabrication-welding, every shop has a footprint that is smaller than the Department of Education’s recommended square footage,” he said. Metal fabrication used to share space with industrial technology, which was discontinued 15 years ago.
The autobody shop is also being required to expand with another, enclosed, bay for welding aluminum. Certification for the program will hinge on that.
“It’s not a crisis right now, but NATEF [National Automotive Technician’s Education Foundation] has told us that, when we come back in 2020 or 2021, we won’t be able to certify the program if the existing footprint does not contain a segregated area for aluminum work,” Hickey said. “It’s that the industry is doing more aluminum work, and if you do regular collision repair work, and aluminum work, it could contaminate equipment.”
There was some good news on the feasibility study front, however.
Hickey said the school has an advantage in that it has local people who know construction and know the building well. Engineering firms would spend time obtaining that information.
“If you ask me what programs are most limiting with their space, I’m going to tell you it’s the ones that are over-subscribed and it is not safe to have the ratios,” he said. “We’re going to talk about the heavy-equipment programs.”
Mahoney wants to see out-buildings used to accommodate present students, rather than using them to attract more at this point. Weight, ceiling height requirements and MSBA time limitations following previous roof projects limit options for adding another floor to the school.
“The good news is we have the capacity to look into this,” Hickey said.
If it’s true that once you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door, then Whitman and Hanson students taking part in the summer 3-D Printer Camp at WHRSD should perhaps start preparing to greet their global partners.
Any successful product starts with a solid design.
“There’s so many things we can do with this,” W-H Business and Technology Education teacher Julie Giglia said July 10 on the first day of the second camp session. “Why are we starting with a smaller project? Before we can print anything, we’ve got to know how to design and baby steps lead to bigger steps and practice makes potential.”
The three four-day camps taught by Giglia — and assisted this summer by 2017 graduate Conor Keane of Hanson — began June 26 and conclude with a session from July 31 to Aug. 4.
Keane will attend the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester this fall, where he will study architecture. In between helping Giglia answer campers’ questions, Keane also did some work on a design for the dream house he plans to build one day.
“Practice makes potential,” is Giglia’s, teaching mantra. “Nothing’s perfect, unless your name is Perfect.”
The camp was first offered last year following the school’s being awarded a $1,600 Innovation Station grant from representatives of Otter Products on behalf of its Otter Cares Foundation in September 2015. The grant made the school’s 3-D printer purchase possible and that technology upgrade led to the idea for the camp.
“I think a lot of people are excited with new technology,” Giglia said July 10. “It’s an opportunity for kids to design and make things from scratch — from inception all the way to a prototype.”
Like any summer camp, the 3-D Printer Camp begins with an ice-breaking session so the half-dozen or so participants can get to know each other. Then they watched a video on how the computer-aided drafting software works before starting off with a practice session on drafting dog house with a design by Google SketchUp via 3DVinci.net.
The week culminates on a Thursday afternoon with an open house for the campers’ families from 2 to 3 p.m.
“Sometimes videos put us all to sleep,” Giglia said, interrupting the program to start some practical work on a simple doghouse design to familiarize the students with the software. “We’re starting easy because we build on our knowledge.We can’t just go out and print before we learn how to design. … We learn best when we see things.”
“Before you can be independent, you’ve got to learn to be non-independent,” Keane added.
This writer will admit that the campers, ages 10 to 15, left me in the dust as they mastered the basics before adding extras, such as windows, colors, roofing materials and exterior fencing, while I was struggling with the initial dimensions.
Campers learned the need to follow three axis points to arrive at a three-dimensional drawing. As Giglia offered instructions at the white board, Keane offered individual help where needed.
“This is ‘camping is fun’” Giglia said. “Some people learn at different levels. Don’t compare yourself to Conor, he’s much more advanced.”
One or two campers had made the mistake of recording their doghouse dimensions as inches instead of feet, but their errors paled in relation to their creativity. They also learned about the software’s version of the Cloud storage system — called the Warehouse —as well as how to file their work in folders, the value of the undo key and of saving their work frequently lest computer crashes cost them a lot of work. Work in the Warehouse may be downloaded for incorporation in new projects, including landscape features.
Keane also offered a couple shortcuts to ensure straight lines and angles, too.
By the end of the camp, participants would be able to create items such as rings and key chains from biodegradable plastic filament specifically manufactured for use in 3-D printers, and from which student designs can be reproduced in plastic models. The filament, which can be made from recycled plastic bottle caps, is fed into the printer in order to create prototypes.
“Anything you can use to recycle is a positive thing” she said. “I think kids come away pretty happy.”
The campers can also use virtual reality visors for fun as well as design challenges at the camp sessions.
Giglia, who has taught CAD for seven years at WHRHS, said the camp also fosters an interest in that subject.
HANSON — The Recreation Commission heard updates on more than two dozen issues and upcoming projects from Director Marybeth MacKay two weeks after she narrowly avoided being dismissed from her job over alleged performance concerns. The commission also heard a presentation from an ADT Security Services representative on improving alarm and camera coverage at Camp Kiwanee.
A 3-3 vote on June 26 — one member was unable to attend — taken during an open session, provided MacKay with the opportunity to meet in the days since with Town Administrator Michael McCue and commission members from both sides of the vote to discuss concerns aired at that meeting.
“I plan to continue to assist the Recreation Commission and staff in every appropriate way to ensure the continued and future success of Camp Kiwanee,” McCue said in a statement Tuesday morning.
MacKay had reportedly requested the open session in order to defend herself publicly against any statements that might be made about her. A second vote to re-evaluate MacKay’s performance in September also failed by the same tie vote, according to a Facebook post about the meeting.
Minutes of the meeting have not yet been posted on the town website. There was no mention of that meeting’s business at the July 10 session in which MacKay was asked for progress reports on — among other items — caretaker job descriptions, computer software updates, employee packet and key dispersal updates as well as reports on the status of the Gatehouse and alarm procedures. She also presented information on upcoming wildlife programs for children that were approved by the commission.
ADT Territory Manager Suzy McPherson, whose job includes sales of systems to small businesses, gave a presentation on the alarm system upgrades the commission is seeking.
“I met with Marybeth and we had an extensive conversation,” McPherson said. “I understand you have an alarm and camera system here and that you want to have the ability to change the code.”
The commission is concerned with controlling access to Needles Lodge as well as exterior building security, an issue with both the key dispersal and alarm system protocols.
“I kind of think it’s a user issue and something easy, that you don’t need to spend money on,” McPherson said, noting that statement might seem counter to her job as a sales representative.
She said the problem is that anytime the alarm access code needs to be changed —as most businesses do anytime an employee leaves, voluntarily or by dismissal — the alarm company or Police Chief Michael Miksch must be contacted because they are the only ones with the master code.
The master code allows home or business owners to delete and add user codes, McPherson said, adding that even ADT doesn’t want to know the master code because of the liability. Instead, they walk clients through the process of accessing it or send a technician out if a home or business owner forgets it.
“I don’t understand how, because I deal with some municipalities, why don’t you want to know who’s coming and going,” she said of what is known as a pulse system. “If [an employee] wants to hang out with his buddies, if he comes in at 9 p.m. and puts in his code, there can be a record established.”
She said the universal use of one code presents a big liability for the town, but did not “want to throw a price at you if you don’t need it.”
Former Selectman Bill Scott, who attended the meeting, said he is also concerned about the police chief being the one in possession of the master code.
“Personally, I don’t want anyone’s code and I don’t know why our police chief has it,” said Scott, who is also a retired police chief. “He should not have it. Their job is to be objective and respond to any criminal violations.”
While stressing he was not criticizing Miksch in particular, Scott maintained that, “He should have no right to change any alarm in this building. Why that was done in the past, I don’t know.”
Miksch said Tuesday night he does not have, nor would he want, the master code to the alarm system. He said he has the codes for surveillance cameras, but doesn’t want that information, either.
If the commission decided to switch to ADT, McPherson said they would switch out the keypad, the cell communicator in case phone lines go down and the panel.
The process for issuing keys at Camp Kiwanee is also being changed, but there are more bugs to be worked out.
Keys have been issued with engraved IDs in sets numbered 1 to 10 for each of the staff members and letters on the reverse to identify what they are used for at the Camp, MacKay said.
“I’ve got a list of what key everybody has,” she said. “So, if people find a set of keys sitting out in the campground, I can say, ‘Number 7 are Bill’s keys and are there any missing? He signed out for seven keys and here they all are.’”
Chairman Annmarie Bouzan asked how copies are controlled. The new job description covers that issue under the heading “unauthorized use,” which are grounds for dismissal.
HANSON — Police Chief Michael Miksch is preparing to offer an assessment center for sergeants in his department as part of the search for a new lieutenant — a position that has been vacant for about a year and a half.
“I would like to fill that position again,” Miksch said. “It’s needed. The way I would like to fill it is through an assessment center.”
The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, July 11 voted to approve Town Administrator Michael McCue’s recommendation to contract with Integrity Testing to administer the assessment center. Selectmen also approved the qualifications Miksch had drawn up for consideration for promotion to lieutenant.
McCue made the recommendation based on their program and as the low-bidder for the testing.
Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett asked if McCue and/or Miksch had “kicked the tires” on Integrity.
“They have quite a lengthy resume,” McCue said. “We’ve done that sort of search.” Miksch said he had no objections to that firm.
Miksch himself was hired through the town’s work with BadgeQuest on an assessment center. Evaluators would be captain level or above, and likely would include chiefs or deputy chiefs.
Miksch said he was partial to BadgeQuest, which was the assessment center he went through, but had no objection to Integrity Testing as he had placed it close behind BadgeQuest in his ranking of the five bidding assessment companies. Hanson Police Department also used a BadgeQuest assessment center for its last sergeant’s exam, promoting three off that list.
“It’s not your typical, multiple-choice Civil Service exam, although Civil Service does recognize assessment centers now,” Miksch said. “Being non-Civil Service, we can determine how we want to do promotions.”
The process combines a written portion, often as a report, following a practical exercise. No dates have been set for the assessment center yet.
“I like the assessment centers because they test the individual’s abilities, knowledge and skills,” Miksch said. “You either know something or you don’t. There’s no guessing if it’s A, B, C or D — you have to put out and produce.”
While all five Hanson Police Department sergeants will be welcome to take the assessment, only two meet the criteria required for advancement to lieutenant right now. For the others, it is a chance to go on the list at their three-year mark and to enable them to move on if they wish to take another opportunity.
To qualify for consideration for the lieutenant’s position, applicants must have three years of employment as a full-time Hanson Police sergeant. Tie scores will be broken by seniority and the score list will be active for two years and points will be given for advanced degrees, seniority and veteran’s status. A one-year probationary period is also included.
“Who would know more about the position you wanted to fill than you?” Selectman Jim Hickey said. “I think it’s a formality that we’re doing this.”
Credit where due
Miksch also took the opportunity Tuesday night to credit the officers and detectives who worked two recent theft cases, as well as those who are working to control the opioid overdose problem in town.
Hanson officers working the case of an armed robbery attempt at the Dunkin’ Donuts on Liberty Street June 14 were Sgt. Eugene Andrews and officers Marc Vigneau, Dan Godwin, Jared Meegan and Brent Peterson.
“This was the third time we’ve had a robbery or an armed robbery in the area,” Miksch said noting past incidents at Mutual Federal and Rockland Trust banks. “These [officers] have it down to a science. They go in, do a very good job of working together — knowing who has what cameras — they know the town, they know the businesses and the people, and they wrap up some of these things fairly quickly.”
Meegan was singled out for his observations of the would-be robbery suspect’s behavior and description earlier in the evening at Shaw’s supermarket, which proved invaluable to making an arrest, Miksch said. Meegan was a member of the Wellfleet Police Department before coming to Hanson three years ago.
“The officers did an outstanding job,” Miksch said. “The most notable one would be officer Meegan. … On his normal patrol earlier in the evening, he saw a vehicle with a male and a female in it that just didn’t sit right with him.”
Meegan then remained at the Shaw’s lot and ran the vehicle’s license plate, which came back to some Quincy residents. Other officers investigating the Dunkin Donuts incident — gathering surveillance camera footage from area businesses — noticing that one suspect was wearing the same pair of distinctive shorts Meegan had described as worn by the male at the Shaw’s incident.
“That was a big key for this,” Miksch said. “For us, a lot of things — one might say — is dumb luck, but I think sometimes you make your luck. In this case, they did.”
Detective Paul O’Brien worked to secure arrest warrants, two of which were from Norfolk County for Quincy evidence, which also helped Quincy Police clear three armed robberies, Miksch said. Abington is now looking at two others.
While the officers were in Quincy on June 16, Officer Elisha Sullivan and Sgt. Michael Bearce took a call for the breaking and entering of a vehicle at Shaw’s.
“They got some great information from a witness,” Miksch said. “The dispatcher David Munn did some great work putting a broadcast out very quickly. The Whitman Police stopped them at the CVS on Bedford Street.”
The Hanson victim’s property, as well as property from a number of other thefts, was recovered. Sgt. Peter Calogero also became involved in the case, working to obtain search warrants based on forensic evidence from cell phones and is working to return property.
“There was some great stuff in a two-day period that these guys did,” Miksch said.
In addition to carrying Narcan to deal with opioid overdoses, Hanson officers have also been working within the limitations of legal restrictions imposed on narcotic evidence at overdose calls to arrest drug dealers.
Miksch said funding from Plymouth County DA Timothy Cruz’s office and the Sheriff’s Department have established a database to track incidents of overdoses as well as providing information to officers to “work our way up the supply chain” and make arrests of dealers.
Hanson officers are also working with groups such as East Bridewater HOPE and the Outreach Program in Carver and surrounding communities — which have since merged their efforts. The goal is to have an officer and a counselor show up at an overdose victim’s home within 24 hours to provide treatment information and a bed at a rehab facility.
Over the past 10 years, an average of two people a year reporting Hanson as their last address, died from opioid overdoses, based on statistics from Whitman-Hanson WILL. Since then, the number of reversals — people that have been saved — have increased thanks to the counseling programs.
“We’ve been doing a lot,” Miksch said. “You don’t see it … but detective O’Brien and officer Sullivan are my two outreach people right now. Every city and town in Plymouth County is involved in adding information to this database.”
HANSON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday, June 27 heard a presentation from MassWorks Infrastructure Program Director Erica Kreuter on the program and how it can help provide funding for town projects.
“MassWorks oversees five different grant programs,” said Town Administrator Michael McCue. He has experience with the offices’ Small Town Rural Assistance Program (STRAP) grants from his tenure in Avon.
“It was a godsend,” McCue said of the $500,000 grant Avon received.
Kreuter summarized the program and answered Selectmen’s questions. Grants under the MassWorks umbrella also include those for public works development, Community Development Action Grants, the Growth Districts Initiative, Mass. Opportunity Relocation and Expansion and Transit-Oriented Development programs.
“We are always available to discuss any applications,” she said. “We really saw an opportunity to create one program designed to work on infrastructure and designed to unlock immediate private investment.”
That investment has to be kept in line with the state’s sustainable development principles such as multi-family housing, economic development in distressed areas and roadway safety in small, rural communities.
Among the projects MassWorks has worked on include the $2 million T Wharf project in Plymouth, the $25 million Assembly Square T Station in Somerville and the Market Street extension of Mashpee Commons at $901,250.
Selectmen Chairman James McGahan asked about the type of job creation involved in the program.
Roadway projects, such as drainage work, in conjunction with a water and sewer project was one example Kreuter provided.
Transit and re-use of previously developed sites and regional projects are among the office’s continuing investment goals. There have been 716 applications for $1.7 billion in total requests for projects since 2011. More than $418.3 million has been invested in 215 projects selected across the state.
“It is an extremely competitive grant program,” Kreuter said. “Anything over $2 million has to demonstrate significant private development.”
In other business, the board approved an Eagle Scout project for a 5K cross country course at WHRHS proposed by Caleb Parkinson, a member of Whitman Boy Scout Troop 22.
Parkinson, a member of the cross country team, needed Selectmen approval because the entire trail route is within the town of Hanson.
Work will involve filling in a trench dug by a teacher for a previous project and a bridge over conservation land. He will also be meeting with the Hanson Conservation Commission on the project. Hanson Boy Scouts and some teachers have also indicated a willingness to help with the work.
“This is for the actual meets,” Parkinson said.
Selectmen expressed enthusiasm for the project in casting their votes in support.
Selectmen also approved the completed street prioritization list with the crossing in front of the Dunkin’ Donuts at Liberty Street and County Road, the crossing in front of Town Hall at Liberty and Winter streets, the intersection at the middle school on Liberty Street, the sidewalk on High Street from Main Street to the Plymouth County Hospital site, a bicycle lane on Route 58 and a similar project on Main Street.
He started off by saying that even the Dalai Lama hates ticks. While that is difficult to verify, it could be true — but Buddhist teaching frowns on the killing of any living thing.
By the end of entomologist Larry Dapsis’ talk “One Bite Can Change Your Life,” at the WHRHS Performing Arts Center Wednesday, June 28, one could assume few came away with a Buddhist outlook on the issue of ticks and the infectious diseases they help spread, but they had some advice on how to prevent being bitten.
“This is a beautiful summer evening, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than by having a very robust discussion of infectious diseases,” he said.
The talk, sponsored by the Plymouth County Beekeepers Association focused on protecting oneself, one’s yard and pets from pathogens that cause Lyme disease, babesiosis, anaplasmosis relapsing fever and Powassan virus carried by ticks found in the region. Dapsis holds degrees in environmental science from Fitchburg State University and in entomology from UMass, Amherst. He has worked with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Service for six years and 24 years in the cranberry industry with Ocean Spray before that. He stressed that, prior to joining the Cooperative Extension Service, he had little experience with ticks.
“I had a very vertical learning curve,” he said. “To address that, I read everything I could get my paws on, and talked with a ton of people. I had to figure out what the landscape really looked like.”
Even the word “tick” elicits a visceral response from people.
“When I say people hate them, I mean everybody hates them,” he said invoking the Dalai Lama. “When a gentle soul like the Dalai Lama turns his back on a form of life on this planet, that is a headline.”
Dapsis said the Dalai Lama had tweeted out his disdain for ticks a few years ago. True or not, who could blame him?
The six New England states rank in the top spots on most lists for the incidence of Lyme disease in the United States over several three-year average studies.
“If there is any question that we are living at Ground Zero with this problem, this should take it off the table right away,” he said. While Barnstable County used to regularly rank at the top for Lyme in the state, Plymouth County has overtaken Barnstable in that statistic. Part of the credit for Barnstable’s improvement has been its aggressive work against the Lyme vector.
He has advocated the hiring of an entomologist for Plymouth County, and that position has been budgeted with the expectation that one should be hired by this fall.
During a question session after his talk, Dapsis was careful to point out he is not qualified to answer medical questions, but focused on how the insects spread diseases. While he focused on deer ticks, Dapsis noted that climate change has brought more aggressive pests such as the Lone Star tick — which hails from Texas as the name implies — and the illnesses they carry.
“We’re seeing plants and animals where we never used to see them before,” he said, noting that three years ago, the first established population of Lone Star ticks was found on the Massachusetts mainland at Sandy Neck Beach Park in West Barnstable. Samples from the six-mile stretch revealed that Lone Star ticks “own that area” which is in a migratory bird flyway.
The concern with the Lone Star ticks is that they can see prey and run toward it, unlike the blind deer tick that has to “quest” for hosts on the end of vegetation.
“This is an aggressive biter,” Dapsis said of the Lone Star, known for laying eggs in clusters of thousands which hatch into hard-to-see nymphs that stick together. “Within minutes you can get overwhelmed with hundreds of bites and the older stages are also very aggressive. … They can run with spider-like speed. If they can see you, they’re going to chase you.”
The main danger of the Lone Star tick is that it spreads diseases such as erlichiosis and other illnesses, and can trigger a red meat allergy. That includes any foods, including marshmallows, made with red meat or its components.
“This can range from hives to anaphylactic shock,” he said.
Once attached to a host, all ticks secrete a glue-like material to hold themselves in place until its feeding cycle, which can last for days if not detected and removed, is complete. That cycle includes the secretion of anticoagulants into the host to ease feeding on blood as well as agents to deaden nerves to help prevent detection.
Some animals like mice, rabbits and birds known as competent hosts can harbor the Lyme disease bacteria and transfer it back into the tick population. People are among the incompetent hosts that cannot infect a tick, but are a food source for the insects.
How to protect yourself?
Dapsis advocates the liberal use of insect repellent since the highest rate of Lyme is among children ages 5 to 9 and in the senior population, who have the time to be outside. New England winters are not harsh enough to harm ticks in the winter and synthesize glycerol, a natural anti-freeze, to protect them from the cold.
Repellants are the first line of defense.
Dapsis is not a fan of all-natural products because they are not always EPA-registered. Products with DEET, eucalyptus oil or, to his preference — permethrin — which is used for treating fabric and footwear.
“It’s a real attitude adjuster,” he said. “This is the most effective tool in the box.”
Products like K-9 Advantix or Frontline or tick repellent collars can help protect your pet from the vectors. Check with your vet to determine what is best for cats.
Removing a tick should be done with pointed tweezers, grasping the insect at the head easing it out backwards.
“If you crush that tick, you just might give yourself a nasty infection,” Dapsis said. “A tick gut is full of microbes.”
Most people flush the tick down the toilet.
Instead, keep the tick, date it, and if possible send it to a lab such as the entomology department at UMass, Amherst (see tickreport.com) to determine what microbes it might be carrying. You may not test positive for an illness a tick carries, he said, but it is a “starting point for a conversation with your doctor.”
HANSON — Owners of the Meadow Brook Restaurant, 1486 Main St., have received approval for their request for an extension of the facility’s liquor license as they alter the premises to include a deck for outdoor dining.
Sunday hours for the serving of alcoholic beverages will now be changed to 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. to attract brunch business. Those hours had been noon to 12:45 p.m. The deck area is expected to seat about 30 people.
The business owners have pledged to do what they can to mitigate noise concerns raised by abutters.
“It’s something we wanted to offer our patrons in Hanson instead of driving to the Cape,” co-owner Lynae Connelly said.
A handful of neighbors on both sides of the business attended the Tuesday, June 27 Board of Selectmen’s meeting to voice concerns about existing and perceived future noise problems. Selectmen, however noted that the Meadow Brook — and previous businesses at the site — have operated a restaurant business there for many years and urged the Meadow Brook owners to work with neighbors to provide noise and sightline barriers as a good faith gesture.
“They bought a building that had been vacant for awhile,” Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “They’ve resuscitated it, brought jobs back, they are huge community partners. They put a lot of money into that building. I think that they’ve indicated they are willing to be good neighbors.”
The selectmen also noted that the restaurant was there before the abutters moved in and a compromise is in order.
“Whoever the developer was that built those condos should have made a better buffer between the restaurant and the condos,” Selectman Jim Hickey said, noting that a fence that had fallen down had been installed by the neighbor on the opposite side, Michael Lewis. “I think, as a board, we’re trying to get a happy medium. … You already knew the noise was there to begin with.”
Lewis of 1488 Main St., noted that Wilbur Danner had promised to put up a stockade fence when his family bought the restaurant, but it has not been installed yet.
Danner said the expense of bringing the facility, which had stood empty for some time, had cost more than was anticipated. He and son in-law John Connelly pledged to do what they could to install tree barriers on one side, and a plastic noise-reduction sheet on the side where the deck will be built.
Danner, his wife Barbara and his daughters Lynae Connelly and Deborah Scrivens are co-owners of the restaurant.
“The building had been shut down for at least eight years before we took it over,” Wilbur Danner said. “I put a lot of money into that building, primarily with a septic tank, which cost me $168,000, and bringing the building up to code. … We try to do as much as we can as we can afford it.”
The Board of Appeals has already approved the deck area, which the owners had sought in response to customer requests in an effort to increase business.
“I don’t know if we’re in a position to know what was agreed upon between the restaurant and this gentleman when it opened up,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “We’re not legal counsel … but you’re now going to have people outside on a deck. If there were any issues, it might get worse.”
She stressed, however, that she favored “anything that’s going to help a small business increase their business and bring more business into town,”
Great Cedar Condominium resident Donna Frehill and two of her neighbors had complained about the potential for noise from the deck service. The outdoor dining area will be on that side of the Meadow Brook building.
Frehill said she and her neighbors have been bothered by noise from a fan and, while the Meadow Brook has been a good neighbor and has allowed them to hold condo association meetings in the function room at no cost, they remain concerned about the potential for increased noise from the outdoor dining area.
“Our concerns are how late people are going to be out there … and that noise level during weeknights and weekends,” she said. “Our concern is what kind of noise level will be there, will there be some controls over that?”
Scrivens said there would be no live bands playing outdoors.
John Connelly said the business could look into a plastic noise control curtain to help mitigate noise as well as looking into options regarding a tree barrier or fencing.
“Right now, there is no buffer between us,” Lewis said of his property on the other side of the building. “So, if you want to add this deck, what’s going to stop the noise?”
He said his family already deals with car headlights shining into their house “all hours of the night.”
Lewis had installed the old stockade fence that had fallen into disrepair before he approached Danner about installing a new fence. Trees that had also helped serve as a buffer had also been cut down, he said.
“We close at 10 p.m., we don’t hold late functions,” Lynae Connelly said. “The fence was in disarray when we bought it.”
Lewis said he didn’t care whose property the fence is built on, but since his property is for sale, Selectmen Kenny Mitchell said a fence could present a problem for the next owners.
Lewis said he has already had two people looking at his house comment on the lack of a buffer.
“You can’t put up a fence on somebody else’s property because that becomes a problem,” Selectmen Chairman James McGahan said, agreeing with Mitchell. The previous restaurant owner’s cooperation in installing a fence with Lewis had disregarded which property the fence was on.
Lewis said he has since had the property line surveyed to ensure the property line is now clear.
Mitchell said that, while the selectmen do not have the authority to force the business owners to install a fence, he urged them to work with neighbors to reach a solution to the problem.
“To make good neighbors, it would make sense,” he said.
McGahan suggested that fast-growing hemlock trees could be a solution.
WHITMAN — A heavy rain on the morning of the dedication of a Great American elm tree to the memory of former state Sen. Edward P. “Ned” Kirby Saturday morning, couldn’t dampen the spirits of his family and friends attending the ceremony at Town Hall auditorium.
They rather thought Kirby would enjoy the turn of events.
“I never dreamed so many people would come,” Kirby’s widow Mary Alice said of the event and the “amazing” tree planted in her husband’s memory. “It’s breathtaking.”
“I’m not worried about it — at least the tree’s getting some water from heaven, courtesy of Ned,” said June O’Leary of the Friends of Whitman Park.
“I think Ned is up in heaven looking down on us and [the rain] is probably tears coming from his eyes,” agreed Selectman Daniel Salvucci. “He wasn’t the type of a guy that would want anyone to pay tribute to him because what he was doing was what he was meant to do.”
About two dozen family members and friends of Kirby’s attended the ceremony Saturday, June 24 to remember him and his friendship and accomplishments — and dedicate the tree planted near the park bandstand the week before.
“This is a really nice tribute to Ned that you come out in the rain and be here for Mary Alice and his family to remember him,” O’Leary said. She said the choice of a Great American elm was only the appropriate tree to plant in Kirby’s honor. She credited Kirby with being a longtime supporter of Whitman Park, including being the person largely responsible for a $285,000 grant that gave the park such a boost. He also pitched in to rake and clean up the park “just like the rest of us,” she said.
O’Leary also thanked DPW Highway and Park Superintendent Bruce Martin for his help in selecting and planting the tree.
Town Administrator Frank Lynam presented Mary Alice with the Selectmen’s citation, researched by the board’s Administrative Assistant Laurie O’Brien.
Lynam made the presentation for Selectmen Chairman Dr. Carl Kowalski, who was unable to attend due to a family obligation. Selectmen Randy LaMattina and Brian Bezanson joined Salvucci in attending the ceremony.
The citation notes Kirby’s legal education and Korean War-era service in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s office as well as his service as both a state representative for six years and a state senator and as an elected member of the Plymouth County Commissioners. He also served as an administrative law judge and a worker’s compensation appeals judge. Kirby was also instrumental in returning commuter rail service to the area, among other accomplishments.
“He is sorely missed,” Lynam said of Kirby. “The town would like to recognize Ned for his countless contributions to the town.
The State House citation, presented by state Rep. Geoff Diehl, R-Whitman, recalling a tribute to Ned read as a tribute to him at the General Court’s opening session for the year on Jan. 5.
“He was always doing something,” Diehl said. “I don’t think there was a day when Ned wasn’t serving somebody in some capacity — whether it was in the military, in office, or as a private citizen.”
Diehl also lauded Kirby for his work with the Whitman Food Pantry and the senior center.
“The curse of going second is that virtually everything in the town citation is mirrored in the citation presented by the House,” Diehl said. “I’m going to give this to Frank to keep for the town, because I’ve already presented Mary Alice with a copy of this as well.”
Friends and Kirby family members also spoke, recalling fond memories of the veteran public servant who died Jan. 3.
“I never could find anyone who could find fault with Ned, he was just a very nice person, a gentleman — somebody you were glad to meet,” O’Leary said.
Bezanson said the rain was fitting for the occasion, just as Kirby’s support provided a beginning for his involvement in town politics, as well as for others.
“It’s nourishing Ned’s tree from the beginning to get it started,” he said. “I can guarantee you that’s going to be one of the biggest trees in this park for years to come.”
Kirby’s son Thomas shared a memory.
“He was a great dad and an excellent family man,” he said, recalling an anecdote from his days as a Little League participant. “Most days dad would come home and throw the ball with me in the front yard. On one occasion — I wasn’t very tall — he threw the ball to me and I missed it. [The ball] beaned his windshield — broke it, shattered it — and he just kind of looked at it and said, ‘OK.’ He was just a super-sweet guy.”
He added that a painting of the bandstand owned by the family will mean more now that the Great American elm planted in Ned’s name is growing there.
His daughter Jane remembered that her dad, who was born at home in Whitman, loved his town and how touched he would be by the tree dedication ceremony.
“He wanted to live here his entire life,” she said. “This is where his heart was and it as really because of the people of the town.