Headline News 03/12/2014
The Westport town website’s
Town Meeting Calendar is temporarily out-of-order. Click
here for an up-to-date listing
of all scheduled town board and committee meetings.
03/11/2014 – The jobless recovery – is this the new norm? Fall River’s
unemployment rate rose to 15.1 percent in January, up from 12.7 percent in
December. That makes Fall River's unemployment rate the highest in the
The state’s unemployment rate
rose, too, increasing to 7.1 percent, up from 6.7 percent in December 2013.
03/11/2014 – Today in history – The deadliest pandemic in modern history -1918
Spanish flu. The first cases of "Spanish" influenza were reported
in the United States. By 1920, the virus had killed as many as 22 million
people worldwide, 500,000 in the United States. There’s no single reason
why the deadliest pandemic in modern history is still mysterious. More.
03/11/2014 – Pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria shuts down Dartmouth police
station. After finding samples of the deadly bacteria in the hot water
heating system, the Dartmouth Police Headquarters is temporarily closed.
When a Dartmouth police
officer became ill and was diagnosed with a form of Legionnaires Disease,
police officials decided to close the police station at 249 Russells Mills Road.
After testing confirmed
Legionella bacteria in the hot water heating system, officials decided the
police station will be closed until it is deemed safe to reenter. More.
03/10/2014 – Running on empty. Ending a saga that began several years ago,
the Town of Tiverton finally bought the Seaside Gas station property that
fronts popular Grinnell Beach.
According to Town Council
President Ed Roderick, “Most of us agree that conserving our waterfront is
a great thing for Tiverton.”
But not all Town Council
members are happy. More.
03/10/2014 – Money for Hix Bridge debris removal
passes state senate. Westport’s state senator Michael Rodrigues reported
that last week the Senate passed its version of the Transportation Bond
In addition to major funding
for South Coast Rail - $2.3 Billion to be exact, plus $100 million for
mitigation to assist communities along the route - the Senate’s version
also included funding for several other projects in the region, including:
$400,000 for the removal of
debris from the old Hix Bridge in Westport;
$175,000 for the Somerset Scenic Pedestrian Riverwalk;
$500,000 for lighting on the Braga Bridge in Fall River, $2,000,000 to
reconfigure Swansea’s Bark Street/Stevens Street intersection, and
$1,000,000 for improvements to Main Street in Freetown. The Senate and
House will now work to produce a compromise bill for final passage and
consideration of the Governor.
here to read more about Hix Bridge debris.
03/08/2014 – Sakonnet bridge toll legislative
opponents shift focus to finding funds for state infrastructure.
After nearly two years of
arguing that placing tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge would be
economically devastating, legislators from the region have somewhat revised
They still oppose the tolls,
but now advocate for a $1 billion transportation fund that would be
partially funded by a proposed 5 percent surcharge on all fees charged by
the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Editor’s note: Sound familiar? That’s the plan now being put
forward by the Massachusetts legislature to fund transportation
infrastructure costs. Read the article below: Bumpy road ahead?
03/07/2014 – A Westport firefighter is in critical
condition, a result of falling from
the roof of a 2 ½ story house fighting a chimney fire, according to Fire
Chief Brian Legendre.
A second firefighter also
fell 10 feet to a first floor dormer in a heroic attempt to stop the fall
and save the firefighter.
Firefighter Steve Lopes, a
seven year veteran of the Westport fire department, slipped on roof ice
Thursday, and fell approximately 30 feet to the ground.
The 47-year-old Lopes, the
well-known comedian “The Portuguese Fireman,” is
in critical condition at Rhode Island Hospital. More.
03/07/2014 – The Westport Council on Aging’s March newsletter EVERGREEN is now available. Click
here to get it now. PDF
here to get other organizations’
03/06/2014 – Bumpy road ahead? Projected motorist fee
increases may drive us to the poorhouse.
Tasked with developing a portion
of its own revenue, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation is
closing in on plans to raise Registry of Motor Vehicle fees. Are you ready
for this? Read
03/06/2014 – Where have you been?
Oriental Pearl got her
groove, well at least her sign, back last month.
The popular eatery’s landmark
Route 6 sign was blown down February of last year by strong winds from a
fierce winter storm, and has been missing the past 12 months, leading many
at first to fear the restaurant was closed.
Not to worry. The longtime
State Road purveyor of all things Chinese, and best known for their fried
rice and party bar, has finally put its calling card back out onto State
Formally known as Dante’s
Inferno, the restaurant became the Oriental Pearl in 1975.
03/06/2014 – Lees Market says they have new and
downright delicious Lent-friendly offerings on the way.
With the Lenten season now
upon us, they will be rolling out fabulous meat-free items in their deli,
rotisserie, pre-pack and frozen sections each weekend until Easter.
Each item is prepared
in-house with a meticulous attention to detail. Their delectable offerings
will include everything from homemade cod and salmon cakes to stuffed sole,
vegetable quiche, lasagna, chili and more.
Selections will vary from
week to week, so stop by and see what we have to offer.
03/05/2014 – By the slimmest of margins, the proposed Noquochoke affordable housing development moving
forward in Westport.
Westport selectmen voted last
week 3-2 to send a letter of support to DHCD, a key part of
the plan to create 50 units of state-subsidized apartments at Noquochoke Village.
The complex, which has been
the target of criticism by some town residents, is slated to include 50
units for both low and mixed income rentals; however, units will not be
Select Board Chairman Antone Vieira Jr. voted, with caution noted, to provide
the swing vote to advance the project, saying “I have concerns, and I voted
for it. I support this project, and hopefully will continue to do so, but
with a little caution.”
"I think this is what
we've been waiting for," said Selectman Craig Dutra of the detailed
application to be sent to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and
Community Development. "I would suggest that we write a letter of
03/03/2014 – Lincoln Park developer presents design
for senior housing. Developers Monday night
unveiled a design for 48 units of affordable housing for those aged 55-plus
in the heart of the Lincoln Park housing development.
Above: The three-story building on Midway Park Drive will
include affordable apartments that face single-family homes on the site of
the former Dartmouth amusement park.
The three-story building on
Midway Park Drive will include a 130-foot roof height, an elevator, a
central trash chute, and mailboxes, according to plans presented to the
Lincoln Park Plan Approval Authority. It will face the single-family homes
currently being built on the site.
Westport with over 1/3 of its
population 55 and older may welcome this news but some at the meeting
continue to have concerns.
"I'd like to reiterate
the sensitivity of the area especially while you are building right by the
river," said Betsy White from the Westport River Watershed Alliance.
here to read article.
03/03/2014 – Selectmen finalize, certify
six April 8th election ballot questions at their February 24th meeting.
non-binding ballot questions will take the voters’ temperature on key
issues that affect the health of town government and quality of life for
all town residents.
six ballot questions proposed by Selectmen have passed muster with Town
counsel, and have been released to the public.
expected, Proposition 2 ½ and Capital Stabilization funding override
questions dominate the political scenery as Selectmen struggle to balance a
tight budget, while putting the brakes on the structural deficit that has
haunted the town for years.
also seek relief for taxpayers from Community Preservation Act tax
surcharge to help ease the pain of a necessary Proposition 2 ½ override.
Click here to
03/03/2014 – UMass student stabbed in early morning
fight. A student at UMass Dartmouth
was admitted to Rhode Island Hospital this morning after being stabbed
during a fight at the Cedar Dell South apartments.
Cedar Dell South is a complex
of apartments, each with its own entrance. That complex houses about 400
students, according to John Hoey, the university
spokesman. The fight took place in the common area outside the apartments.
03/01/2014 – Woody works of awesome art. Buoyed by a great turnout, the WRWA raised thousands of
dollars through the creativity and generosity of local area artists and
sculptors who turned that bane of a boater’s existence, the lobster pot
marker, into woody works of awesome art.
Hundreds came out Saturday
afternoon to socialize and support the Westport River Watershed Alliance’s public silent auction and
fundraiser hosted by Dedee Shattuck Gallery.
The auction, which ran from 1
to 7 p.m., had three buoy bids over $325 each by 5 p.m.
More today with photos and
Above: two belles and a beautiful mermaid – Dedee Shattuck
(left), Meredith Cornell’s “Flotsam and Then Some” seaweed-haired mermaid
lobster buoy sculpture, and WRWA’s Gay Gillespie.
03/01/2014 – Little Compton’s Roger Guillemette is a trifecta winner at the annual Great Community Cook-Off, a
fundraiser for the Little Compton Community Center. The LCCC board member
and 5-time Cook-Off entrant served up a delicious Louisiana Seafood Chowder
that won Tasters Choice, Crowthers Choice, and
Chowder category awards.
So what’s next, Disneyworld! Click here to view video.
03/01/2014 – Basket weaving with artisan Sharon Owens. In the homey confines of
Partners Village Store’s basement, basket weaver extraordinaire, artisan
and teacher, Sharon Owens, conducted a clinic in the intricacies and
mysteries of basket weaving to 10 participants who, for just $65, received
instruction, all basket materials and a Partners’ lunch.
Now that’s a bargain in
anyone’s book! More today with photos.
Below: from this (left) to this (right) in 7 hours.
02/27/2014 – Making the most of a taxing situation! AARP volunteer Peter Robash of Westport is assisting Renea
Perreira with filing her 2013 tax returns at the
Westport Senior Center.
AARP volunteers are preparing
tax returns for seniors and other town residents with low to middle range
incomes, free of charge, every
Wednesday through April 9th.
“We’ll do about 60 returns
here at the Senior Center,” Robash said. “But in
Fall River AARP volunteers are expected to do about 1000!”
“We get lots of referrals
from H&R Block,” he said.
By appointment only every
Wednesday from 1 – 3:30 p.m. through April 9th.
Call to reserve your
appointment at 508.636.1026.
You will need to bring with
you: 2012 Federal & State Tax returns; all tax documents you receive in
the mail such as W2 forms and 1099 forms; copies of paid real estate tax
bills and any paid water/sewer bills; proof of health insurance coverage if
other than Medicare; proof of payment for any deductions, i.e. medical and
dental expense, charitable contributions, mortgage interest, auto excise
tax; and proof of payment related to education expense or residential
You must bring personal
identification (preferably driver’s license.)
For any questions please call
the COA at 508.636.1026.
Westport Senior Center, 75
Reed Road, Westport.
02/26/2014 – Hey, what’s cookin’? Quick response by the
Westport Fire Department saved a Highland Avenue homeowner from more damage
than just a run-of-the-mill kitchen cooking fire.
An automated fire alert from
a home fire and security protection system notified Westport firefighters
yesterday morning who quickly dispatched a tanker, ladder truck and several
fire emergency vehicles to 313 Highland Avenue, where the home owner
couldn’t identify the source of the smoke.
The incident was resolved and
the house was ventilated with a high-powered exhaust fan mounted in the
A tip of the hat to
02/25/2014 – More power to ya! Unless you’ve been visiting
another planet, over the last two years NSTAR has been very visible cutting
back the tree line and upgrading their power distribution network to better
service Westport residents.
And the utility’s efforts are
There were no major, or even
minor, power outages in one of the worst winters Westport has experienced
here to see what they did.
02/25/2014 –SRPEDD lays out South Coast
rail project update. Bristol Community College will
host the latest Southeastern Massachusetts Commuter Rail Task Force meeting
Tuesday at 3 p.m. at its Commonwealth Center Atrium, 777 Elsbree Street, Fall River.
In conjunction with the
Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, task
force membership includes 31 communities from this region to the Stoughton
area that would be affected by development of the South Coast commuter rail
project and rail improvements to aid the commercial economy.
Tuesday’s agenda includes an update on the
South Coast Rail by Jean Fox, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
02/24/2014 – Exit right, no! The frigid weather departed Westport last
week, but not before exacting one final indignity from Westport drivers.
“We had six, possibly seven,
“black ice” accidents this morning” said Westport police on Thursday,
This unlucky driver hit an
icy patch on Old County Road at 8:30 a.m., which caused his pickup truck to
spin off the road and into the woods, barely missing trees of considerable
No one was hurt except the
driver’s pride when he had to pay to have his car pulled from the woods.
The black ice was most
prominent under the shade of the roadside trees, where otherwise the warm,
morning sun had already melted the roadway ice.
02/24/2014 – Just when you thought it was
safe to go back outdoors - it’s backkkk! Westport has been enjoying above-40
degree temperatures over the past week, but that's about to come to an icy
The Arctic’s polar vortex
will pay a return visit to the northeast, but won't bring subzero numbers,
only below-average cold.
Highs will be in the 20s and
lower 30s — 10 to 20 degrees below normal. But wind chill factors will make
it feel much colder. 60 percent chance of a snow shower on Wednesday.
There can be a silver lining,
if you’re willing to look for it.
Click here to view ‘snowscape’
cameos of last week’s nor’easter winter storm
Quintus, which dumped 7 to 9’’ of moist snow, demolishing snow and ice
budgets throughout the region.
02/23/2014 – The decades-old Rhode Island
Spring Flower and Garden Show is traditional in itself. But this 23-year-old perennial flower and
garden show is anything but sedate. It is a voluptuous display of form,
beauty and creative talent. It highlights the designers’ passions, loves,
and sublime understanding of nature’s essential splendor.
How they do it is mystifying,
but we can all appreciate what they do at this year’s ‘Vintage Gardens’ on
display at the RI Convention Center.
But you have to hurry; it
ends today at 6:00 p.m.
More with video, photo album and pictures of this year’s ‘Vintage Gardens.’
02/23/2014 – Southcoast Health System among
first hospitals in the U.S. to offer
new implantable, life-saving device to patients at risk of sudden cardiac
Southcoast® Health System announced today that Southcoast
hospitals are among the first in the region to receive early use of the new
Boston Scientific S-ICD® System before it is widely available on
The Boston Scientific S-ICD
System is the world's first and only commercially available
subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) for the treatment of
patients at high risk for sudden cardiac arrest.
Currently, Southcoast is one of the first hospitals in
Massachusetts and Rhode Island to receive the device, along with Brigham
and Women’s, Massachusetts General, Tufts Medical Center, Beth Israel
Deaconess Medical Center and Rhode Island Hospital. More.
02/22/2014 – Community forum set for Westport
elementary principal candidates. On February 27th at 6 p.m., interested
parents and others can meet the finalists for the principal’s job at the
Interim Superintendent Ann Dargon announced the finalists for the Westport
Elementary School principal vacancy last week.
The finalists for the
Westport Elementary School Principal vacancy are: Ms. Christine Panarese, Mr. Timothy Plante
and Mrs. Christine Staskiewicz.
The community forum is
scheduled for the Westport Elementary School Media Center. Each candidate
will have 30 minutes to introduce themselves and take questions from the
02/21/2014 – Richmond Woods Bachelder. Westport Point resident and longtime member of the
Westport ROMEOs, Richmond Woods Bachelder died
Tuesday, February 11th.
Click here to
read about Westport Point resident shared WWII memories with ROMEOs.
A memorial service will be
held on Friday, February 28th at 11 a.m. at the First Parish Church, 349
Boston Post Road, Weston.
The Tabor Academy and Harvard
College graduate was a bombardier navigator in WWII in the European and
then Pacific theater. More.
02/21/2014 – Brad Clifford Brightman
of Westport has been installed a
district deputy grand master of the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts,
and will preside over nine lodges in the 19th Masonic District for the
In his new post, Mr. Brightman will serve as the personal representative of
the State Grand Master Harvey John Waugh to the lodges in his district.
was Westport’s Town Moderator from 1992 until 2004.
The Grand Lodge of Masons in
Massachusetts is the oldest Grand Lodge in the Western Hemisphere and the
third oldest in the world. It was chartered in 1733.
02/20/2014 – By-law unconstitutional,
Massachusetts Attorney General, Martha Coakley
Westport Town Clerk, Marlene Samson in a letter dated February 12th.
357 Westport voters at the
November 5, 2013 Special Town Meeting easily carried Article 20, creating a
new town by-law requiring town-issued permits for door-to-door
The by-law was written to
protect home-owner privacy and help fight out-of-town frauds.
Town-sponsored youth events
such as girl scouts selling cookies were to have been exempted.
litigation concerning regulating commercial or noncommercial door-to-door
solicitation, Coakley said the activity is
entitled to some measure of protection under the First Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution, as applied to the states through the Fourteenth
Amendment, and permitting requirements constitutes a prior restraint.
Town by-law changes have to
be approved by the State’s Attorney General before they can be implemented.
Selectmen will consider their
Story to be updated later.
02/20/2014 – Westport census forms mailed.
For resident convenience, there are drop-off census boxes in front of Town
Hall next to the mail boxes.
Westport Board of Registrars has mailed the 2014 annual census forms to
every household in town.
yearly census is mandated by the state and the forms must be returned in
the envelopes provided within ten (10) days.
resident who has not received a form, especially those in new dwellings,
should notify the Registrar’s office at 508.636.1001. Read more.
– Westport Cultural Council
seeks Helen Ellis Trust grant proposals. The
Helen E. Ellis Charitable Trust Grant applications are available commencing
Saturday, February 1, 2014.
are available at the Westport Free Public Library or at the Town Clerk's
office beginning February 1, 2014.
for more information or to download an application form.
Westport Cultural Council is now accepting applications for the Helen E.
Ellis Charitable Trust grant. This grant program funds cultural activities
and events that benefit the Westport community. Read more and download forms.
02/19/2014 – Storage building fire flares into
unlicensed firearm charges against a Fall River man. An early morning fire
resulted in the arrest of Roberto Rodriguez, 29, of 62 Ninth Street, Fall
At three minutes past midnight
on Tuesday, February 11th, the Westport Fire Department responded to a
commercial structure fire located at 212 American Legion Highway. Read
about the fire.
Arriving apparatus found
heavy smoke and fire coming from a 500’ by 100’ one-story, wood frame
commercial building that was divided into individual storage and work
Fire crews and Westport
police officer Robert Rebello were working their
way through one of the rental storage units at about 2:30 a.m. when they
spotted guns inside a car - a rifle barrel and what appeared to be a gun
with foldable stock. Police obtained a warrant and later found a small
stash of high-powered weapons and ammunition in the vehicle.
Police also found over 10
grams of cocaine inside a backpack.
more with photos.
Above: Westport Police Department photo. Police found an AK-47 variant
style high capacity assault rifle with more than 25 rounds of high-powered
ammunition; a rifle with a loaded 40-caliber magazine; and a firearm that resembled
an Uzi-style gun with a loaded 9mm magazine.
02/18/2014 – It is 5 p.m.; do you know where your
nomination papers are?
Well, apparently all the
candidate hopefuls who took out papers to either run for office or for
reelection do, as they all submitted their paperwork today by 5:00 p.m.
(the last day to qualify for the April 8th election ballot) and all
signatures were certified, according to Westport Assistant Registrar,
“We had three late returns
this afternoon,” Brum said, “and they all cleared
the certification hurdle.”
With the final tally in,
there are two positions that have no candidates: a four-year term on the
Planning Board, and a three-year term on the Landing Commission.
And three races are shaping
up which should provide some interest for those pundits who follow such
here to see what the ballot will
look like this April 8th.
02/17/2014 – Two-story dwelling destroyed in Westport
fire. Firefighters hampered by cold weather and no hydrants.
At approximately 10 p.m.
Sunday night, the Westport Fire Department responded to a structure fire
located at 463 American Legion Highway.
First arriving apparatus found a two story wood frame structure
fully involved in fire.
Due to the lack of hydrants
in the area, Westport firefighters called in tankers from area departments
to assist. In addition to the lack
of hydrants, the cold weather and the location of the house, which was at
the end of a long laneway, made fighting the fire difficult.
The fire was brought under
control in approximately one hour but not before the entire house was
destroyed. An estimated dollar loss of the building and contents has not
Firefighters upon arriving
were not sure if the house was occupied, but later Monday morning Westport
Police did locate the owner, Barbara Pryzbyla, in
The Westport Fire
Investigation Unit and the State Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the
scene and are conducting an origin and cause investigation.
There were no reported injuries
to firefighters. Assisting the
Westport Fire Department were fire departments from Tiverton, Little
Compton, Dartmouth District #3 and Fall River.
Fire officials report that at
this time no further information is available due to the ongoing origin and
02/17/2014 – Severe winter busts budgets. Nor’easter winter storm
Quintus, forecast at 2-4”, dumped 7 to 9’’ of moist snow, snarling Westport
roads and demolishing snow and ice budgets throughout the region.
Town officials expect the
snow and ice budget to be in the red by $250,000 or more before the winter
season finally ends.
“We had nine trucks out all night
through Saturday morning,” a tired acting Highway Surveyor Chris Gonsalves said.
The recently acquired new
Freightliner truck and plow was a life saver, Gonsalves
“We were fortunate to only
have one breakdown – a heater core went out on one of the older trucks, but
the driver kept going,” Gonsalves said.
Rapidly accumulating snow and
heavy drifting powered by strong northeast winds made it difficult to keep
some roads open, like Horseneck Road, Adamsville
Road, and Atlantic Avenue.
Gonsalves deployed the town’s frontend
loader and three trucks to Adamsville Road Saturday morning to clear deep
drifting from the roadway, driven there by strong northeast winds whipping
snow from the Orr’s farm onto Adamsville Road.
The mind-blowing winter is
not only breaking snow and ice budgets, but hurting the economy with flight
cancellations to the sunny south, and keeping shoppers looking to spend
their tax returns out of retail stores, restaurants and movie theaters.
Here comes Rex, third named storm in a
Another snowy mess is brewing
with snow/rain projected for Tuesday, with temperatures climbing to 51
degrees by Friday.
guitarist, Eddie Money when you need him
– we need a couple of tickets to paradise.
“O Brother, Where Art Thou?” Henry the swan looks sadly
at the Harbormaster’s shack on Saturday, hoping for a helpful handout from
Harbormaster, Richie Earle who was nowhere to be found.
The increasingly domesticated
Cob (male swan) drops in from time to time at the Point when foul and
frozen weather makes foraging for food in the harbor a more difficult task.
02/15/2014 – AP classes will make WHS students more
college ready. Students at Westport High
School will soon have more Advanced Placement (AP) courses available to
them, thanks to funding from the Westport Education Foundation.
An AP Art class has been
approved as the first grant from the foundation’s Lydia Poole Barker
Memorial Fund. The school also plans to expand its science curriculum by
adding an AP physics course next year for sophomores who have completed
Algebra and Honors Geometry. More.
02/15/2014 – Where snow plows go to die. Westport’s fleet of aging
snow plows is patched together with welds, baling wire and hopes they’ll
last one more year.
Most are 50 years old.
The highway department is
responsible for clearing 134 miles of roadways with a hodge-podge of older,
under-powered trucks and even older snow plows.
“We fix the plows with pieces
from the other plows almost on a daily basis during storms,” said highway
department employee Andrew Sousa.
That is until now.
Surprise, surprise, Westport
exceeds snow and ice removal allocation. Read
“We took delivery of a
custom-built, heavy duty Freightliner the beginning of February along with
a new plow and drop-in sander,” acting Highway Surveyor Chris Gonsalves said.
said that a handful of smaller plow trucks have broken down and need to be
Better capital equipment
planning and Chapter 90 highway monies from the state have helped the
highway department move to a more modern fleet of snow clearing equipment,
but there’s a long way to go. Read more.
02/14/2014 – Dairy goat herd perishes in noontime
fire. A herd of dairy goats were killed Thursday when an early 1800’s-era
historic barn was destroyed in a fire at 565 Old County Road, officials
The barn was fully involved
and had collapsed when firefighters arrived.
The barn, which measured roughly
30 feet by 30 feet, was used to house the goats. The fire was reported at
11:55 a.m., according to a fire department spokesman.
Firefighters and police shut
down Old County Road near Reed Road as firefighters extinguished the blaze.
A dump truck used by the farm
was heavily damaged by the fire.
The property is home to the
King Farm which raises dairy goats and chickens.
The age of the barn is not
known, however, the structure was part of the Tripp/King family homestead
which dates back to the late 1700’s.
The Little School, a restored
1831 one-room school house, is on an adjoining property, but was never
threatened by the fire.
Tankers from Dartmouth Fire
District 3, Tiverton and Little Compton assisted Westport firefighters, who
were on the scene for about 2½ hours, fire officials said.
No firefighters were injured.
02/14/2014 – Need salted sand? Here’s where to get it. Now that the rain has stopped and near freezing temperatures are moving in, Westport’s
interim Highway Surveyor wants you to know that salted sand is available
either at the town barn behind Town Hall at 816 Main Road, or at the town’s
transfer/recycling station. No trucks please; small buckets only.
Only Westport residents may obtain
up to five gallons per visit, and you must bring your own bucket.
A valid landfill sticker is
required to enter the Transfer Station. Operating hours every day except
Tuesday and Wednesday are from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Residents can get their sand
directly from the Highway Department,” said Gonsalves,
“but accessibility and the secure location makes the Transfer Station a
better pick-up point for town residents.”
Sand/salt mixture subject to
02/13/2014 – Snow woes in Westport! Great weather for ducks? It’s frightening to open the
blinds first thing in the morning for fear of what you might see. Snow,
ice, sleet, rain. How much longer will this go on?
In our photo of the week,
these quackers are basking on sun-warmed, dry
asphalt in the middle of Sodom Road on Tuesday.
Another storm this morning is
dumping more sloppy snow and rain, adding to the misery of the daily
commute, and unfortunately ending the ducks’ tanning session.
Darn groundhog; he’s ruining
here to view this and other
previous photos of the week.
02/13/2014 – Westport selectmen vote unanimously to
“straighten out” Narrow Avenue/Sodom Road intersection.
Narrow Avenue has three
separate intersections with Sodom Road, right in the middle of an S-curve,
creating a public safety issue, according to Westport police.
“I would recommend that the
intersection be designed so that Narrow Avenue intersects (with)
Sodom Road at one location as opposed to three,” Lt. John Bell told
Selectmen Monday night.
The department’s safety
officer recommends that Narrow Avenue be wide enough at the intersection so
that “there is a left turn lane onto Sodom Road and a right turn for
vehicles turning right onto Sodom Road.”
Lt. Bell also recommended
that the lane for vehicular traffic turning west onto Narrow Avenue should
be adjacent to those lanes making the road wide enough for farm vehicles to
Selectmen voted unanimously
to move forward with Lt. Bell’s recommendations.
Story will be updated today.
02/12/2014 – Dartmouth Earthquake! For those who are interested,
a magnitude 2.4 earthquake hit the Dartmouth area just about 5:00 p.m.
yesterday; the epicenter was reported by USGS to be 1 kilometer WSW of
Police across southeastern
Massachusetts reported being flooded with calls just after 5:46 p.m. of a
loud boom heard throughout the region.
Very few people felt it, and
those who did described the tremor as weak.
The event was first reported
as a 4.1 magnitude upheaval off Nantucket, but that report appears to be
erroneous, according to officials from the USGS National Earthquake Information Center who follow such things.
According to USGS, people in
New England, and in its geological extension southward through Long Island,
have felt small earthquakes and suffered damage from infrequent larger ones
since colonial times. Moderately damaging earthquakes strike somewhere in
the region every few decades, and smaller
earthquakes are felt roughly twice a year. The Boston area was damaged
three times within 28 years in the middle 1700's, and New York City was
damaged in 1737 and 1884. The largest known New England earthquakes
occurred in 1638 (magnitude 6.5) in Vermont or New Hampshire, and in 1755
(magnitude 5.8) offshore from Cape Ann northeast of Boston. The Cape Ann
earthquake caused severe damage to the Boston waterfront. The most recent
New England earthquake to cause moderate damage occurred in 1940 (magnitude
5.6) in central New Hampshire.
02/11/2014 – In the second such fire in two weeks, an early morning blaze hits
another Route 177 business complex.
At three minutes past
midnight, the Westport Fire Department responded to a structure fire
located at 212 American Legion Highway.
First arriving apparatus found heavy smoke and fire coming from a
500’ by 100’ one-story, wood frame commercial building.
While extinguishing the fire,
firefighters had to overcome not only the size of the building that was
subdivided into smaller units, each the size of a two stall garage probably
used for storage, but also the cold weather and the lack of hydrants in the
Above: the red line outlines where the fire was contained
The fire was brought under
control in approximately one hour, resulting in the saving of approximately
half of the building. The estimated dollar loss of the building and
contents has not yet been determined.
The Westport Fire
Investigation Unit along with the Westport Police responded to the scene to
conduct an origin and cause investigation.
There were no reported
injuries to firefighters. The owner of the property was reported as
Jeremiah Torres of Westport.
Assisting the Westport Fire Department were fire departments from
Tiverton, Little Compton, and Dartmouth Districts #3 and #2.
02/11/2014 – Carol Vidal feted by Westport Selectmen. Westport’s Board of
Selectmen at last night’s meeting honored Westport resident Carol
Vidal, presenting an official citation recognizing her volunteerism with the
Westport Cultural Council. A past president and current treasurer of the
Council, Vidal will be honored at the State House in Boston today as the
recipient of the MCC Leadership Circle Award for her dedication and
excellence in support of the Cultural Council.
She was selected with one
other recipient out of a field of 327 Cultural Councils representing 351
towns in Massachusetts. See story below. Story will be updated later.
02/11/2014 – Dumb business plan “brew ha-ha.” If you’re a Starbucks lover
of lattes, mochas or frappacinos, you’re gonna wanna watch this video.
This is a case with which
corporate identity lawyers will have a field day.
A comedian known for a Comedy
Central prank show came forward today as the owner of the Dumb Starbucks
coffee shop in Los Feliz, California that
attracted crowds of curious customers over the weekend, but shortly after
he revealed his identity, his store was shuttered by the county Health
Nathan Fielder held a news
conference in the parking lot of the store at 1802 Hillhurst
Avenue and posted a video online, saying the
addition of the word “Dumb” in the name legally qualified it as a parody.
Starbucks customers take
their beverages seriously, and so does Starbucks who at this moment is
considering their options.
“It is not affiliated with
Starbucks. We are evaluating our next step. While we appreciate the humor
of the store, they cannot use our name. It is a protected trademark,” a
Starbuck’s spokesperson said.
02/10/2014 – Westport April Election news. Candidates have until this Thursday, February
13th by 4:00 p.m. to take out papers, and then filing those papers with the
town’s Registrar by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18th.
Westport’s upcoming April
election has few contested races, but a three-year term on the Diman Regional School Committee (Westport
representative), a usually uncontested and uninspiring race for many years,
is starting to draw some interest.
The chairman of the School
Committee, Laurenio Couto,
the lone committee member who opposed entering into negotiations with and tendering a contract
extension for Superintendent-Director Marta Montleon,
is resigning, bringing into question whether recent School Committee
actions played into his decision. More.
Inset: current Town Treasurer,
George Foster, has announced this is the last term as Treasurer he will seek,
prompting Selectmen to place a question on the April Election ballot
changing the status of the Town Treasurer’ position from elected to
They are not alone in making
The state’s Department of
Revenue has recommended big changes for Somerset's treasurer and tax
collector positions, and several other Bay State communities have already
followed suit. More.
here for all current news on
Westport’s April election.
02/09/2014 – Carol Vidal honored at library reception.
The Westport Cultural Council
hosted an open house and reception Saturday, February 8th with friends, WCC
members, and state and local officials gathering in the Westport Public
Library’s Manton Room to pay homage to the woman who has given so much of
herself serving the arts, sciences and culture in our community.
“I’ve been on the board since
2000,” the Figerado Street resident said. “This award
was totally unexpected!”
Above: Westport’s State Senator, Michael Rodrigues,
presented Vidal with an Official Citation from the Massachusetts Senate.
From the left: State Senator Rodrigues, Carol Vidal, Irene Buck, and State
Representative Paul Schmid.
According to Council member,
Irene Buck, “there are 327 Cultural Councils out of 351 towns in
Massachusetts. All are invited to submit an applicant for this prestigious
Buck spearheaded the
nomination effort without Vidal’s knowledge. “We did a lot of research and
talked to a lot of people gathering information for the application,” Buck
Winners are chosen based
solely on information provided in the application.
This year the Massachusetts
Cultural Council awarded the honor to two recipients.
On February 11, 2014 Vidal
will be honored at the State House in Boston as the recipient of the MCC
Leadership Circle Award for her dedication and excellence in support of the
Since 2004, the MCC
Leadership Circle Awards have recognized LCC volunteers for their
outstanding work in support of the Local Cultural Council Program.
Vidal will also be honored
Monday, February 10th by selectmen at their weekly meeting. 6:00 p.m.
02/09/2014 – Beer & Food 101! If you don’t know the
temperature difference between a lager and ale, or which beer is best
paired with boeuf Burgundy or smoked bratwurst and onions, then you missed
Dr. Amy Fowler’s February 6th’s educational forum at Lees Market Wine and
Spirits, sponsored by Buzzard Bay Brewing.
The affable, self-proclaimed
foodie and beer enthusiast was on hand to tutor the almost 30 paying guests
on how to pair foods with various styles of beers. From India Pale Ales to
fruit beers, Porters to Saisons, Fowler preached
there is more to pairings than food and wine.
Fowler is the Director of
Beer Advancement at Buzzards Bay Brewing.
“I’m a real beer geek when it
comes to craft beers,” Fowler said.
The 34-year-old Dartmouth
resident has been to Belgium four times, and is planning a fifth trip in
Beer in Belgium dates back to
the age of the first crusades. There are 180 breweries in the country
that’s no bigger than Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut
combined, so it’s a great place to start your crusade when learning more
about the beverage that dates back to at least the 5th millennium BC.
Look for more of these great
events at Lees where something is always brewing at Westport’s social hot
– Surprise, surprise, Westport exceeds snow and ice removal
allocation. Well, it’s no surprise
really. The budget’s structural deficit forces Westport selectmen to
underfund the perennially-underfunded line item by tens of thousands of
dollars each year to present a balanced budget at the annual Town Meeting.
It’s the only town expense
account that can be overspent, and the town takes full advantage, all the
while hoping mother nature will be kind, if only for just this year.
Administrator Jack Healey had to report this week that the town has overspent
snow and ice by about $130,000.
And the winter ain’t over yet
(six more weeks according to the groundhog.)
Inset: plowing in tandem on John Reed Road.
Habitually, the line item is
set around $70,000, far too little to cover most winters, and this one is
looking to be a corker.
Looks like free cash will
take another hit.
For planning purposes Healey
and the selectmen have mentally earmarked $250,000 in free cash to pay the
snow removal budget deficit, a funding source they try not tap for normal
According to acting Highway
Surveyor, Chris Gonsalves, the town is well
stocked with sand and ice from previous year’s purchases.
02/05/2014 - East Beach Road just can’t catch a break.
After being pummeled over the years
by violent storms like Sandy, Irene, Bob, Carol and other tempests too
numerous to mention, the evacuation road has had to suffer the indignity of
losing its protective shoreline, drastically eroded by what some now say
are shifting replenishment sand patterns caused by the Gooseberry causeway.
Is East Beach Road on its
To add insult to injury the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection has nixed the building
of an ‘armored revetment’, a stone wall of sorts similar to hundreds seen
across the country’s shorelines, saying they advocate against changing or
altering the natural shoreline system in order to stabilize it.
So, Westport selectmen and
the Highway Department keep repairing the battered road, moving it further
north a few yards at a time after each storm takes another bite out of the
Recently, a major effort by
the town to resurface the cobbled, sandy and barely passable road with an
aggregate mix of sand, gravel and Reclaimed Asphalt Pavement (RAP) turned sour when wet weather followed by
freezing conditions during installation turned the new roadway surface into
a washboard pocked with potholes.
Now the road is closed for
What went wrong? Read
02/05/2014 8:30 a.m. – Snow, ice and sleet, oh my! Winter storm Niki whacks Northeast.
Westport and areas to the south including the Cape and islands will be
spared the heavy snow, but freezing rain later this morning could create
ice glazing that could bring down branches, power lines and cause local
Driving is treacherous with
slippery road surfaces which will only get worse throughout the day.
Town offices closed. Westport
Senior Center, Library and schools are closed.
Call board and committee
chairmen to check on the availability of town meetings scheduled for today
02/03/2014 – Southcoast Blood Bank announces community
blood drive schedule for the month of February; also
announces February schedule for community screenings and vaccinations.
to waive joiner fee on new YMCA memberships for Southcoast
The Southcoast Blood Bank’s annual
promotion with Southcoast YMCA returns to the
region during the month of February.
In February 2014, anyone who donates blood at the Southcoast
Blood Bank at St. Luke’s Hospital or at any Southcoast
community blood drive will receive a complimentary family guest pass to any
YMCA SOUTHCOAST facility, and the Y will waive the joiner fee for any donor
interested in a new YMCA membership (up to a $90 savings). YMCA SOUTHCOAST
facilities include the Dartmouth YMCA, the Fall River YMCA, Gleason Family YMCA in Wareham, the Mattapoisett YMCA
and the New Bedford YMCA.
Click here for
all the details and locations.
02/03/2014 – Westport
State Representative Paul Schmid
rescued after falling through ice on the Westport River.
On Sunday morning in Westport, Representative Paul
Schmid stopped by to observe members of the Westport Fire Department
conduct an ice rescue drill at the boat landing on Hix
He ended up becoming a victim. More.
Photo: Steve Lope/WFD
02/02/2014 – Westport
weathers ‘Hercules,’ ‘Ion,’ but bitter temperatures and biting winds
put the seaside community into a deep freeze not experienced in years.
Click here for a dramatic YouTube video
tour set to music of Frozen Westport, from Lake Noquochoke to Beach Avenue, and everything in between.
Ice, ice, everywhere and nary a drop of water in
Click here for hi-res
photos of Frozen Westport.
Need Adobe Flash to view albums? Click here!
More with Hercules hi-res storm photos
7:30 a.m. – It’s official; six more weeks of
winter it shall be!
Staten Island Chuck and Punxsutawney Phil each predicted
six more weeks of winter during separate ceremonies this morning.
During a ritual
at dawn at New York's Staten Island Zoo featuring New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Chuck saw his shadow.
de Blasio struggled to hold onto the Staten
Island oracle and dropped him (see photo below in separate article). More.
Punxsutawney Phil (right) was awakened this
morning at 7:28 a.m. and, seeing his shadow,
also predicted six more weeks of this brutal, frigid winter we find
Now before you get
all upset, realize that the Prognosticator of Prognosticators has been
right only about 39 percent of the time, so odds are spring will be here
On this 128th Groundhog Day
celebration, which is held at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania,
the fury rodent made his appearance in the early morning light and
A Super Bowl winner I will not predict,
But my weather forecast, you cannot contradict,
That’s not a football lying beside me
It’s my shadow you see
So, six more weeks of winter it shall be!
To watch the on-line video (7:20 a.m. Sunday morning)
of Phil’s appearance, click here.
Click here for the origins of Groundhog Day. Visit Phil’s website.
7:30 a.m. – Groundhog
Day 2014: Staten Island Chuck versus Punxsutawney Phil.
When it comes to predicting the weather, it appears
that the nation's two most famous groundhog prognosticators are about even.
The borough's hometown groundhog, Staten Island
Chuck, has accurately predicted an early spring five times over the past
nine years, according to records from the Staten Island Zoo, which hosts
the annual event.
Photo: Mayor de Blasio dropped the
furry oracle, Chuck, before declaring six more weeks of winter. - Staten
Island Advance- Irving Silverstein
His rival, Punxsutawney Phil, has also been correct
in calling an early spring or late winter four times over the past nine years,
according to Stormfax Weather Almanac, which has
stats on Punxsutawney Phil dating back to 1887 -- the first year he emerged
at Gobbler's Knob.
Overall, the Pennsylvanian groundhog has an accuracy
rate of just 39 percent, according to Stormfax.
As of 2013, Staten Island Chuck has been correct 26 years out of 32, for an
82 percent accuracy rate, according to the Zoo. More.
01/31/2014 – Local
editors among Patch layoffs. Staff
cuts were made to the community-specific, online news aggregator and blog in May 2013 and then again
in August and October 2013 when roughly 500 employees were let go.
layoffs issued nationwide on Wednesday affected two-thirds of the editors
and support staff, with the fallout reaching the Cape and Islands.
this the death of Patch? More.
01/31/2014 – Westport
woman completes Advanced ThetaHealing course.
Girard, owner of Soothing Sensations Wellness Center, 1180 State Road in Westport recently completed the
course. ThetaHealing allows you to
change life patterns held in place by core, genetic, historic and soul
beliefs. This practice can reveal
systems of belief that might traditionally take years to uncover, showing
the body how to replace limiting beliefs or feelings with positive
Above: Included in the
photo of new practitioners is Cheryl Girard (kneeling in front, 2nd from
01/30/2014 – Officials
say Route 24 gas tanker crash in Fall River had little impact on
environment. Officials found low levels of gasoline in Terry
Brook, a stream near the accident
site that does not spill into nearby
North Watuppa Pond, which supplies drinking
water for the city of Fall River, said Joe Ferson,
a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. More.
Westport residents on town water should not be
affected by tanker crash.
Lisa Korch, the driver of the tractor trailer carrying
gasoline that rolled over and caught fire on Monday, will be charged with
driving at a speed greater than reasonable and leaving her lane of travel,
the State Police announced Thursday.
01/29/2014 – Fall
River Mayor William Flanagan and Connecticut-based Foxwoods are all in!
the chips fall where they may, Fall River is betting on the come.
got the money and the plan. Now all they need is the land. That was the
message Tuesday at Government Center by Foxwoods Casino CEO Scott Butera during an announcement with Mayor Will Flanagan.
The gambling conglomerate is planning to develop a $750 million destination
Click here to view video.
you have 30 to 70 acres to sell, preferably on the waterfront, give
Flanagan a call. The city and Foxwoods investors want to fast-track a land
deal within 30 days, according to Fall River Office of Economic Development
Executive Vice President Kenneth Fiola Jr., in
order to get a binding referendum before voters to build a casino in Fall
River, and ultimately the OK from the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
don’t put all your chips in just yet; the road to hell is paved with the
good intentions of a casino being built in Massachusetts. More.
–A local landmark of sorts, the Tiverton Flea Market on Bulgarmarsh
Road at Route 177, was ravaged by a four-alarm fire that broke out just
flea market is a rambling collection of wooden buildings, sheds and sales
Tiverton firefighters, along with other fire
departments throughout the area, were busy overnight as they fought the
fire for almost two hours before extinguishing it.
View video now.
Firefighters from Dartmouth, Westport, Fall River and
Swansea joined several Rhode Island fire departments that included Little
Compton, Warren, Bristol, Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport.
One firefighter was transported to a Fall River
hospital during the response for unknown injuries, according to The
Providence Journal. He has since been treated and released.
Weather conditions overnight Wednesday were icy,
making the response more difficult.
The building, which is home to more than a dozen
vendors, sustained major damage including extensive inventory losses,
according to the WPRI report.
“Everything is icing up very quickly as the
firefighters are trying to work,” Tiverton Fire Chief Robert Lloyd told
WPRI. “Makes it very difficult to walk and move around and the placement of
everything. As they tried to pull things out to get into the building, just
such an accumulation of material inside those buildings makes it really
According to the owner, it’s one of the oldest flea
markets in the country. It’s normally open year-round on weekends, but it
will have to shut down for a period of time for repairs, according to WPRI.
Crews continue to investigate the cause of the fire,
which at this time is not believed to be suspicious.
The 200-foot, L-shaped building posed significant
challenges in fighting the blaze, which caused significant damage to the
Bob Campion said his family has owned the Flea Market
for more than 40 years, and it is one of the oldest in the country. He
hopes to reopen in three to four weeks after making some initial repairs
and reinstalling the electricity and fire alarm.
Lloyd said the building will be closed until then.
truck rolls in Fall River, driver hospitalized. A tractor trailer that was transporting gasoline
rolled over and burst into flames on Route 24 this morning in Fall River,
according to the Massachusetts State Police.
Click here to view dramatic WPRI video. Click here for a 2nd video.
A tractor-trailer carrying 11,000 gallons of gasoline
caught fire and exploded after the driver lost control and flipped
the truck over Monday morning on a Route 24 northbound exit ramp in Fall
River, police said. Paramedics transported the driver, identified as Lisa
M. Korch, 46, of Danielson, Conn., to Rhode
Island Hospital to be treated for what were described as
non-life-threatening injuries. Witnesses at the scene said Korch complained of shoulder and back pain. Huge plumes
of black smoke billowed over the crash site just after 7:15 a.m. as flames
engulfed the tractor-trailer. Police, firefighters and officials from the
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Clean Harbors, as
well as the Department of Transportation, cordoned off the area, causing
massive traffic delays. More.
planning to honor the late James Weir, architect of Four Corners' success. When Westport’s James Weir first saw the Tiverton
Four Corners in 1984, it wasn't greatly changed from when the village was
Gray's Ice Cream and the Provender presided over a
quiet and beautiful square. A few businesses surrounded them.
Weir believed he could preserve the village and also
make it grow, friends say. A walk through the village makes it clear he
Weir, 71, an architect, died on November 16th at his
home in Westport. He ended up owning 11 properties in the Four Corners and
built the Meeting House and the Tiverton Arts Center, modern buildings that
look like they were constructed by the carpenters who crafted the original
homes and stores before the American Revolution.
Click here for the whole article. Click here to read article on his passing.
adds 10,300 jobs in December; unemployment rate falls to 7.0 percent in
December, down .1 percent but still higher than the nation
State’s December unemployment numbers report
The Massachusetts economy added more than 10,000 jobs
in December as the state capped its best year for job growth in a decade.
However, the December numbers include seasonal jobs
for the holiday season, many of which will be terminated in January.
lost 1,300 (-1.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Construction gained 3,500 (+3.0%),
so the December loss represents 32 percent of the net jobs gained during
Local unemployment numbers will be available next
lost 300 (-0.1%) jobs over the month. Over the year, Manufacturing lost
800 (-0.3%) jobs.
Despite the impact of automatic federal budget cuts
known as sequestration, the state gained more than 55,000 jobs in 2013,
compared to about 49,000 in 2012 and 43,000 in 2011, the state Executive
Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported Thursday. It was the
best year of job growth since 2000, when the tech boom—shortly before it
went bust—drove the creation of about 95,000 jobs.
“That’s about as good as you can expect to do,” said
Daniel Hodge, director of economic and public policy research at the
University of Massachusetts’ Donahue Institute. “To add 55,000 jobs in a
year when the federal government and sequestration providing a negative
drag shows really well for the private sector in Massachusetts.”
state unemployment rate slipped to 7 percent last month, from 7.1 percent
in November. For the year, unemployment averaged 6.9 percent, up from 6.7
percent in 2012.
These figures, however, could change. The US Labor
Department will release its annual revisions of state employment and
unemployment data in March. In some years, those revisions have been
Click here for all the numbers from the State’s website.
01/21/2014– Good news
for Westport shell fishermen – Shellfish Warden Gary Sherman has
expanded the conditional opening of 46 more acres of the East Branch from
Doctor Point to the sign at Snell Creek.
Significant rainfall determines the temporary closure
of conditional areas for a few days after the rain ceases.
Shellfish permits range from $10 (senior residents) to $300 (dredging
Permits for Westport residents only), and may be obtained at the Town
Clerk’s office at Westport Town Hall, 816 Main Road.
Shellfish season is year round; the taking of scallops is from the middle of October to May 1st.
Now if it just stops snowing and the wind stops
blowing . . .
01/20/2014 – RI lawmakers
still optimistic about toll removal on the Sakonnet Bridge.
The Special Legislative Commission to Study the
Funding for East Bay Bridges, which met for the last time earlier this
month, told the Providence Journal a final solution to fund continuing
maintenance on the East Bay bridges, including the Sakonnet River Bridge,
would not include a toll.
However, some commission members are hoping to extend
the 10-cent toll past the April 1 deadline in order to draft legislation,
according to ProJo.
The commission, co-chaired by Rep. Helio Melo and Sen. Daniel Da
Ponte, was established during the 2013 legislative session to allow
lawmakers and state officials an opportunity to investigate all types of
equitable and reliable funding mechanisms and strategies to support Rhode
In 2013, the legislature approved the ownership
transfer of the Sakonnet River Bridge's to the Rhode Island Turnpike and
Bridge Authority (RITBA), who then authorized a 10-cent toll on the bridge
which spans Tiverton and Portsmouth.
Members of the public can find additional information
and video of the commission’s previous hearings at webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/bridgefunding.
More headline news continues below.