HANSON —Selectmen on Tuesday, Feb. 26 reviewed proposed warrant articles — including one dealing with the banning of plastic grocery bags — for the May 7 annual Town Meeting.
“We really have a little more footwork to do on that before we introduce it,” said Selectman Laura FitzGerald-Kemmett, said of the ban.
“We’re all looking toward [Selectman] Matt [Dyer],” said Selectman Wes Blauss, who has championed the ban. “I’m going with Matt for a recommendation on this one.”
Town Administrator Michael McCue reminded the board any other proposals for articles must be in to his office for refining language by Friday, March 7.
“I think that people are becoming more aware about the plastic bags and their potential for harm against the environment,” Dyer said. “I think we should go forward with that. My question is would we [also] be in favor of supporting a polystyrene ban at Dunkin’ Donuts.”
Polystyrene is the generic term for the material used in foam beverage cups — Styrofoam is a brand name.
Dyer noted that companies selling to-go coffee in paper cups include MaryLou’s and Starbucks. McDonald’s also sells coffee in paper cups. Dunkin’ Donuts, Honey Dew and convenience stores such as Cumberland Farms still use the foam cups for hot beverages, but also fill re-useable cups — in some cases at a lower price than that of a new foam cup with coffee.
“A lot of towns are doing this, they just didn’t want a joint warrant on polystyrene and plastic bags,” Dyer said. “To be fair, you can’t just say, ‘Overnight you have to do this.’ You have to have a transition period and I also want to hold forums — just to get feedback from townspeople.”
Selectmen Chairman Kenny Mitchell questioned whether it would find support in town, but both Dyer and FitzGerald-Kemmett said they believe support is there.
“People are passionate about this,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said.
McCue said that since Blauss first brought up the proposed ban months ago they have found several examples of similar bylaws.
“There is a procedure by which, after the bylaw passes, major stores like Shaw’s have six months to implement it, smaller places have longer to implement it because it’s more of a hardship to them,” he said. “We can work through all of that, not only wording, but what other towns have done for implementation.
The board supported the prospective article.
“Go for it,” Mitchell said.
“I think we should go for putting in the placeholder,” FitzGerald-Kemmett agreed. “If you can pull off the forum and we can get the right feedback, then we’ll keep it in place.”
Library foundation vacancy
Volunteers are beginning to come forward to fill both appointed and elected positions in town as two of them vied for a vacancy on the Hanson Public Library Board of Trustees. Selectmen and the Board of Library Trustees voted to support the joint appointment of Pamela Fager, 167 Woodbine Ave., to fill a vacancy until the annual Town Election.
Both Fager and Alexander Stewart, 671 Liberty St., who also applied for the appointment, have pledged to run for the post on the Town Election ballot. Two positions will be listed on the ballot with incumbent Dianna McDevitt also seeking re-election.
“I would like to say it’s been a difficult decision,” said Trustee President Linda Wall. “So, we have to make a choice. They will both have another opportunity to run in the election.”
Wall pointed to Fager’s work on the library’s Expansion Planning Committee as a main reason for selecting her to fill the vacancy.
“I support their decision,” FitzGerald-Kemmett said. “I can see that Pam is excellent and engaged and yet I like the idea of Alex getting out there [and being involved in the community]. I am really encouraging [him], if not this opportunity, seek other opportunities. We see you here every week, we know you’re interested and I want to see you being engaged and find the right opportunity.”
A Hanson native who lived in Whitman for a time before moving back to town, Fager said she has always been involved with the library, serving on the Foundation for more than a year. Both of her children have volunteered at the library and she has worked on the lirary expansion planning committee.
“I want to help the library as much as I can,” she said. “It’s helped me personally, growing up in the town and, when I lived briefly in Whitman and moved back into town, I was able to get more reconnected to it and have brought my kids up with it.”
She said her work with the Foundation and the planning committee has allowed her to see more evidence of how the library brings the community together and has a few ideas for bringing the town’s children into the library more.
Mitchell kicked off the questions by asking if Fager had any overdue library books.
“I brought them back tonight,” she said with a laugh.
Stewart, a lifelong Hanson resident and recent graduate of the Mass. College of Liberal arts, said the library has played a pivotal role in his life.
“It’s given me a lot of helpful resources in schoolwork and extra-curriculars,” he said. “I’ve been thinking of ways I can give back to the community, and I figured why not go to a place that has been a very familiar area for me?”
While at college, he was secretary and vice president of several on-campus clubs and organizations, where he feels the skills he obtained will help him in the work of supporting the Hanson Public Library.
The Library Trustees’ questions focused on the role of the board, the applicants’ top three skills and how they felt about supporting the library expansion within the community.
Fager said the Trustees are more deeply involved with the community than volunteers because they develop programs, and they look at other libraries’ programs. She said she is connected to the town and hopes to use that to draw more people in. Expansion must be approached carefully, she said, noting the survey feedback made it apparent there is a need to bring the generations together.
Stewart said his top skills are attention to detail, planning events and programs and organizational skills and networking.
He supports the expansion program and, like Fager, sees it as a tool for bridging generations. He said he believes the Trustees serve a more managerial position than the average volunteer.