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Friday, December 29 New Year’s Day events in peril due to extreme weather conditions. Many Southcoasters celebrate New Year’s Day in, well, less traditional t59.jpgways. For some it’s just getting out of bed the after a heavy night of celebrating. For many others it’s making resolutions.  But for a few brave souls it’s taking an early morning walk or plunging into icy waters for a good cause or an even better breakfast.

But this year there will be fewer penguin/polar bear plunges and even fewer walks as event after event is being cancelled due to dangerous weather conditions.

The Fall River Polar Plunge has been canceled due to bitterly cold weather, according to organizer Pat Casey. The city’s safety departments advised against having the event.

Fall River’s Mayor said the Forever Paws fundraiser event will be rescheduled on an unspecified date.

Both the WLCT and the Dartmouth Natural Resources New Year’s Day walks are kaput.

Click here for a complete list of all events in the area and their current status.  

 

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Thursday, December 28 - Briggs Road couple credit Westport police officer for saving their lives.

WESTPORT – Deb and Larry White were sound asleep in their 109 Briggs Road home when two other people in the house got a 5:00 a.m. wake-up call – someone was pounding on the house!

They got up and noticed smoke coming out of the White’s bedroom. Waking them they all ran out of the house that was rapidly filling with smoke.

“I can only imagine what would have happened if we had been in our bedroom that night because the entire room was burned from walls to ceiling into the attic. We lost everything in our home between being burned and smoke damage.” - Deb and Larry White

An alert Westport reserve police officer, Brian Souza, was on a detail across the street where a utility company had just finished up repairing a pole damaged by a 7:30 p.m. accident the previous evening when he noticed smoke coming out of the left side of the White’s house.

Souza immediately called 991 to have the electric company cut of the power, and then ran to that part of the house from where the smoke was coming and banged on the wall until the residents came out.

“I can only imagine what would have happened if we had been in our bedroom that night because the entire room was burned from walls to ceiling into the attic. We lost everything in our home between being burned and smoke damage,” the Whites recently said in a letter to Selectmen. “We could only imagine what would have happened had Brian Souza not responded as he did.”

“Please take the time to commend officer Souza for being so alert and responding as he did.”

And so the selectmen did last night as Chairman Steve Ouellette read the letter and recognized Westport police officer Brian Souza for his actions.

Souza retired this year after 33 years of keeping Westport safe as a firefighter/EMT, but remains a reserve police officer for the town.

 

Wednesday, December 27 Public meeting on new Westport school project set for Saturday, January 6th.

WESTPORT — The School Building Committee and representatives of the project management and architectural firm will be on hand to answer questions at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, January 6th at the Westport Public Library, 408 Old County Road.

All are invited to learn about the school project, as well as to see the 3D model of the proposed building and to see renderings of the classrooms, gym, and public spaces. It is on the agenda for the Tuesday, January 23rd Special Town Meeting, and if approved will go to the voters Tuesday, February 27th.

The public forum will discuss final plans for the proposed $97.5 million combined junior and senior high school to be built on the site of the closed Westport Middle School.

The Massachusetts School Building Authority has granted Westport slightly more than $37 million, leaving a little more than $58 million to be funded by Westport taxpayers.

The upcoming special town meeting will need a 2/3 vote to move the project to a special town election which only requires a majority vote to carry the day.

 

Saturday, December 16 The Westport Fishermen’s Association (WFA) quarterly newsletter for Winter 2017/2018 is now available.

Read Newsletter now. PDF

Visit WFA’s website. Click here to view all Westport newsletters.

 

http://westportriver.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/IMG_20170607_152919-300x123.jpg

Wednesday, December 27 – WFA announces Kayak Winner.

The Westport Fishermen’s Association’s 34th annual clambake was held under warm and sunny skies on Sunday, September 17th for over 175 happy guests.  After everyone enjoyed their clambake with all the fixings, we moved on announcing the pick-a- prize raffle winners, culminating in awarding of the grand prize  18′ handcrafted Night Heron Kayak to Ihsan Gurdal of Cambridge and Westport.  Happy paddling!

 

Tuesday, December 26 - Cuffe committee honored for preserving history.

WESTPORT— The epic life of Paul Cuffe is remembered mainly in this, his home town, and especially this year because it was the 200th anniversary of his death in September of 1817.

Above: The committee includes from the left front: Lee Blake, Betty Slade, Judy Lund, Jane Loos, and Geraldine Millham. From the left top: Bob Harding, David Cole, Jenny O’Neill, Richard Gifford, and Carl Cruz.

Submitted photo

But a group of 10 historians, amateur and otherwise, got together and set out to not only preserve Cuffe’s legacy as a free black man but to explore his life’s activities as a mariner, abolitionist, devout Quaker and founder of the first racially integrated school in the United States.

For the efforts of this committee to reclaim Paul Cuffe’s legacy, the Paul Cuffe Bicentennial Committee has been named The Standard-Times 2017 Westport People of the Year.

Read more >>

 

Monday, December 25 – Public hearing on marijuana in Westport planned for January.

WESTPORT – The Planning Board and the public at large could have three options on the table concerning how recreational marijuana should be handled in town.

Town Planner James Hartnett said that on January 25th the Planning Board will hold a public hearing. Hartnett said at that hearing, there will be three options presented — extend the moratorium on recreational marijuana from this upcoming June to December, prohibit these establishments from entering Westport or regulate them. Hartnett said the latter would allow a maximum of two establishments or 20 percent of the total full liquor licenses in town.

Hartnett said there was a public meeting earlier in the fall, but January 25th will be the first public hearing, which will lead to bylaw proposals being drafted.

Read more >>

 

Sunday –December 24 – New town buildings, largest animal abuse case in the town’s history, and the beginning of the great marijuana wars of 2018.  2017 was a curious if not controversial year where new towns building projects, abused animals, and now legal medical/recreational marijuana have captured the headlines.

EverythingWestport will highlight these extraordinary events; the first of these Westport Reports is featured below:

At year-end, animal advocates expect the worst in the court’s handling of the accused tenant farmers, and are frustrated with the town’s inability to hire a new Health Director. 

Lack of results frustrates animal abuse advocates as Health Director and animal abuse scandal drag into 2018.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT – The health board came close this fall at landing its first director of public health – which some say is an essential step toward healing the community after 2016’s landmark animal abuse scandal.

Meanwhile, the most severe sentencing of more than 20 people in connection to the case could also lead to healing, animal advocates say.

Health board members William Harkins and Maurice May say that they have not yet given up on the goal of appointing a health director – hoping to professionalize the department and replace former senior Health Agent James Walsh. Since Walsh’s departure last December, the town has gone a year without either a senior health agent or a public health director.

Harkins and May said that they have recently advertised for another public health director at a salary of $80,000 to $85,000. Harkins said money is available to fill the position for this fiscal year.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, December 23 – Westport’s founding families left a strong legacy.

WESTPORT — Attorney, genealogy expert and local historian Richard Gifford gave an illustrated talk on Westport’s “founding families” to a room full of history buffs at Westport Free Public Library recently, offering a whirlwind tour of the legacies of the early Sissons, Allens, Howlands, Wings and, of course, Giffords who settled here.

http://www.aldenhill.com/essay/Community%20Event%20Preview%20Text/Waite_Potter_Restoration_and_Meeting_2008_files/image012.jpgIn the 1600s and early 1700s, Westport was then part of Old Dartmouth, a sprawling township stretching from Fairhaven to the Rhode Island line.

Inset: The Waite-Potter house of Main Road, Westport (only the chimney remains today) may be the earliest known European house erected in this bucolic town.

“Old Dartmouth, including Westport, was kind of the ‘frontier’ in those days — a good place to escape the attention of the Puritan authorities,” Gifford said of the westernmost parts of the original Massachusetts Bay colony.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, December 23 - Westport police catch the Grinch that stole Christmas... tree money!

WESTPORT — Police have arrested a Dartmouth man accused of stealing $9,000 from a Christmas tree business in Westport.

According to Westport police detective Jeff Majewski, Guy Cleaves, 50 of Dartmouth, approached a friend who owned a Christmas tree business and asked to rest inside a camper on the Christmas tree lot. Cleaves told the owner, Jeremy Holden, that he had been drinking and wanted to rest.

Holden told police that a safe had been inside the camper before Cleaves went inside, and the safe was missing after Cleaves left the camper.

Majewski said Cleaves denied taking the items and swore at the officer who contacted him by phone.

Majewski said Holden had earlier offered to loan Cleaves money because Cleaves told him he was struggling financially.

After the theft, a personal check was found alongside Trucker Road in Dartmouth. Majewski said the personal check made out to the business owner for a Christmas tree eventually led to the stolen safe and other related items that were recovered just off the road, which Majewski said lead “a trail like breadcrumbs” in the general direction of Cleaves’ residence.

Majewski said that 50 personal checks have not yet been recovered. Anyone with information about the theft or items stolen should contact Westport Police.

Cleaves, a used car salesman, has been charged with larceny over $250.

 

Friday, December 22 Refurbishing Reed Road historic cemeteries fence. Our Photo of the Week is the CPC-funded renovation of the Reed Road cemetery boundary fence by restoration carpenter Nathaniel Allen.

You may remember that Allen was the wunderkind who restored the 1812 powder house at the Head landing.

“We’re using western red cedar for the rails, and treated pine pickets,” Allen said. “According to the manufacturer the fence should have a 50-year life.”

The new fence will span the two cemeteries frontage on Reed Road; Linden Grove to the north and Maple Grove to the south.

Allen thanks local Westport resident and blacksmith Tony Millham, known for his 17th and 18th century iron architectural hardware reproductions, for making period replacements for the iron rail support brackets that have fallen out of the old stone posts over the years and are lost forever.

And the Highway Department, always ready to help out, removed with their excavator a tree stump of a tree that had encroached on the fence, knocking over one of the stone posts.

Allen will work through the holidays to finish the section of fence on which he is currently working.

 

Above: Select Board Vice-Chairman Shana Shufelt gives her full attention as Police Chief Pelletier makes a pitch for adding officers, citing a vast array of statistics highlighting his department’s performance. Shufelt, a former Finance Committee Chairman, peppered department heads with questions at the Tuesday night Selectmen’s meeting.

Photo | EverythingWewstport.com  

Friday, December 22 - Westport officials get a head start on budgeting.

WESTPORT – There looks to be close to $2 million of eligible revenue that the town and school could share in fiscal 2019.

Town Administrator Timothy King recommended the school department access 54 percent of that revenue and the town access the rest — or 46 percent.

King pitched this idea to a joint budget forum on Tuesday that featured selectmen, Finance Committee members and selectmen.

Selectmen at Tuesday’s meeting explained that the session, which is more than six months before the start of the fiscal year, is a new strategy for selectmen...

Read more >>

 

Thursday, December 21 - Reasons to vote YES Westport – A Guest View By Dianne M. Baron

Editor’s note:  Dianne M. Baron is chair of the Westport School Building Committee.

WESTPORT - Westport Community Schools are at a crossroads, together with the entire town that we all love. As we work together to take advantage of the nearly $40 million in state funding to invest in a new middle-high school, you may have questions about why this school is needed now.

I’ve answered some of the questions that have come up.

The town has a one-time opportunity to receive nearly $40 million from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to build...

Read more >>

 

Thursday, December 21 - Westport School Committee mulls use of interim superintendent.

WESTPORT - The school committee is pondering whether it should appoint an interim superintendent at the end of this academic year or search for a more permanent replacement to succeed outgoing Superintendent Ann Marie Dargon.

Inset: The school committee recently voted not to renew the contract for current Superintendent Ann Dargon.

The committee debated these options and the committee plans to have former local superintendent Michael Shea, a former interim, meet with the committee…

Read more >>  

 

Tuesday, December 19 – For Sale by Owner! Beautiful Farmland in North Westport.

WESTPORT — The Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) is requesting proposals from interested buyers of the Sherman/Rulon Farm located north of 122 Blossom Road in Westport. WLCT is seeking a buyer who will continue and enhance the agricultural operation on the farm.

All proposals are due by Thursday, February 15, 2018.

 

WLCT and the Town of Westport have partnered to protect this farm. The farmland is part of a statewide program that taxes qualifying land at its farmland value – Massachusetts General Law Chapter 61.

 

The 32-acre Sherman/Rulon Farm is located in north Westport and contains 16 acres of open farm fields, the majority of which are classified as prime farmland and soils of statewide significance by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The property currently has no structures, but does possess a network of fields connected by a well-established laneway.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, December 17 – Massachusetts drivers can now use their license photos for as long as 14 years, extending on-line license renewals.

WESTPORT - Massachusetts drivers can use their license photos for as long as 14 years, lengthened from nine, under new rules announced this week by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is taking steps to allow more customers the opportunity to renew a driver’s license or ID card online by extending the length of time a customer can use a license photo from 9 years to 14 years, which means more customers than ever are eligible for online renewals.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, December 17 – Smoking pot while driving will get you a stopover in the pokey. With the recent Westport arrest of an Acushnet man for “drugged driving,” public awareness that although possession and use of marijuana is now legal in Massachusetts, smoking pot while driving is not. Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana products including edibles remains illegal.

Here’s a brief primer:

Adults 21 and over can have up to one ounce of pot on their person, but no more than five grams of a pot concentrate.

Driving with an open container or unsealed package of pot will get you a $500 fine unless it is in the vehicle’s trunk.

Public consumption of pot is prohibited by state law in places and where tobacco smoking is banned. Employers are allowed to ban pot use in the workplace.

You can legally smoke pot on your own property but renters should be aware that landlords can prohibit growing and smoking pot on their property. However, smoke-free marijuana edibles are OK unless it violates federal law.

State law now allows adults to grow Mary Jane at home. There’s a limit of six plants per adult or 12 per household. The growing area has to be secure and not visible from a public place.

Although some communities have banned the retail sale of weed, adults can still possess and use weed, but not while driving, in those communities.

One final point: Possession of marijuana has been legal since last December, but retail sale of weed is still against the law without a license; licensing is not expected to begin until July of 2018.

Now you know the rest of the story, so drive safely.

Administrators report PDF.

 

Sunday, December 17 – Baker announces new college credit voc plan for BP, Diman.

FALL RIVER/NEW BEDFORD - Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced Image result for images of gov baker with vocational students a new state program Thursday at 10 state vocational schools that will provide potential college credit for adults who take evening classes at the schools.

In addition to Southeastern, those schools include Bristol Plymouth Regional Technical School in Taunton, Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River and Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in New Bedford.

The new Advanced Manufacturing Certificate Program will also accept Pell grants and state MassGrants, the governor said.

“That makes it affordable, accessible and a real opportunity to get a credential that can translate to a terrific opportunity in a booming industry here in the commonwealth,” Baker said.

Read more >>

 

 

Sunday, December 17 – Officials at public forum tout proposed school as a win for all Westport.   

WESTPORT — More than 80 people showed up at a Dec. 6 School Building Committee public forum on final plans for the proposed $97.5 million combined junior and senior high school to be built on the site of the closed Westport Middle School, asking questions and making polite last-minute suggestions on the layout of the planned facility on Old County Road.

“We’ve tried to make this a community building, so (residents) can use the gymnasiums, and so they can use the auditorium. ... In the long run, it’s going to help this community, not just junior and senior high school students.” - former Selectman Tony Vieira

The dozen or so residents who went to the microphone after a 45-minute slide presentation showed overwhelming support for the expensive undertaking, being billed by proponents as much as a community gathering place as a needed 21st century-style education.

Read more >>

 

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, December 13 – BREAKING NEWS 1:30 p.m. MSBA approves new Westport Jr/Sr High School for reimbursement.

BREAKING NEWS – The Massachusetts School Building Authority today has approved the proposed new Westport Jr/Sr High School’s budget, schematic design and floor allocation layouts, and has guaranteed $37,416,000 plus in reimbursement from the Boston-based authority that partners with Massachusetts communities to support the design and construction of educationally-appropriate, flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective public school facilities.

Estimated cost of the Old County Road proposed facility including contingencies is $97.5 million.

The school building committee has spent close to two years and over $700,000 to reach this point.

Now it’s up to Westport taxpayers at a new year upcoming special town meeting and then the ballot box on February 27th to approve the funding sources needed before the first shovel full of dirt is turned over on the site of the current PCB-plagued Middle School building.

The town has 120 days from the date the project is approved by MSBA to secure funding to build the school.

More on this story later.

Above: From the left: Fresh back from successfully securing sweeping financial and design approval commitments for the proposed new Jr/Sr High School building, Tracy Priestner and Diane Baron, co-chairs of the School Building Committee along with Shana Shufelt, Selectmen’s representative to the committee, enjoy a celebratory lunch at Partners Village Store and Kitchen.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

 

Wednesday, December 13 – WLCT Camara Conservation Area opening draws crowd.

Westport – It was a snowy Saturday morning on Tickle Road for the well-attended public opening of the Camara Conservation Area on South Watuppa Pond. Purchased by Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) in 2014 with support from the Town of Westport’s Community Preservation Act funding, Camara Conservation Area is permanently conservation restricted land open to passive public recreation.

The 43-acre property is a mixed hardwood forest and adjoining freshwater marsh bordering South Watuppa Pond, the third largest naturally occurring waterbody in Massachusetts.

Read more >>

 

Above: Aerial view of the empty, PCB-plagued Middle School.

Court declares that school not harmful to human health in denying compensation.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com © 2017

Wednesday, December 13 - Court rules Monsanto not accountable for Westport Middle School's PCB cleanup

WESTPORT – The town’s $26 million lawsuit against a manufacturer most recently lost in federal appeals court.

Three federal judges within the United States First Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday agreed that a lower court had correctly granted summary judgment to Monsanto Co. in a lawsuit brought by Westport in 2014. The town alleged property damage to its now-shuttered Old County Road middle school after PCB-containing plasticizers were found in the school and were supplied by one of Monsanto’s former subsidiaries, according to a release from Reuter’s Legal.

According to the release, circuit Judges Sandra Lynch, Norman Stahl and David Barron in their ruling said the town of Westport had failed to prove the level of contamination was so severe that it was harmful to human health.

Read more >>

 

Friday, December 15 - Drugged driver busted by Westport DRE-trained cop. If you are thinking of driving under the influence of pot, don’t.

Just ask an Acushnet man who was arrested Monday night by a Drug Recognition Trained (DRE) Westport policeman who recognized the drug-impaired man travelling 28 mph in a posted 55 mph zone.

 

Wednesday, December 13 - A plume of marijuana smoke, erratic driving lead to arrest in Westport on drugged driver charge

WESTPORT — Police arrested an Acushnet man on charges of driving under the influence of marijuana after a motor vehicle stop Monday night in Westport.

The arresting Westport officer, Jarrod Levesque, is a certified Drug Recognition Expert trained to focus on drug-related impairments, said Westport police Detective Jeff Majewski.

DREs are becoming more valuable in recent months since marijuana legalization has increased recreational drug use, which has carried over to an increase locally of drugged driving,” Majewski said in prepared remarks.

Read more >>

 

Monday, December 11 – Facing more emergency calls, Westport fire department looks to increase ranks.

WESTPORT — In 1989, the fire department had 22 full-time firefighters and responded to 1,390 emergency calls that year.

This year, it has responded to more than 2,700 calls, but has 21 full-time firefighters.

This is one reason why Fire Chief Brian Legendre is considering asking for an additional firefighter for fiscal 2019.

Read more >>

 

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Monday, December 11 - Our photo of the Week is this red-tailed hawk hanging out yesterday afternoon on top of an Adamsville store sign, taking in the sights, when he got spooked by the photographer getting too close, took wing and flew off to a safer roost. 

 

Sunday, December 10 Solar farm would bring significant benefits to Westport.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Clean Energy Collective (CEC) is the developer of a community solar project discussed in an article and editorial published in the November 30 edition. CEC was founded in 2009 as the first community solar company in the country, and we are still focused solely on community solar.

Our project development operations are run out of our Worcester office. Thus, we strongly value and work for community involvement in our projects and seek to be a responsible member of every community where we operate. That often involves significant effort on our side to adjust the plans, construction, and operation of our projects, and the projects we have built and are developing in Westport are no different.

We believe the November 30 article and editorial call for clarification of the specifics on the Horseneck Road project in question. In particular, it is worth noting the following:

The total land area of the parcel in question is 39 acres; only 17 acres will be used for the solar project, with the remaining 22 acres left as-is and wooded.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, December 10 A Sanford Road building once an iconic donut shop is no more.

WESTPORT - The quintessential landmark that once housed a Westport institution has passed silently into the dustbin of history. The building occupied by Butlers Colonial Donut House for many decades and loved by everyone who has ever eaten one of their ‘handmade-from-scratch’ Long Johns or crème–filled donuts, was torn down last week to make room for an accessory apartment building.

Above: Jennette Butler making the donuts!

Video image by Claude Ledoux

The business permanently closed in 2007 when the then current owner, Mario Gulinello, decided to put away his rolling pin and sifter, citing health reasons.

The building remained vacant for several years, falling into disrepair.

The good ol’ days.

Bill and Jeannette Butler opened the business in 1955, hand making their confections from scratch ingredients, then baking and frying them before the final expression of filling, icing and sprinkling, making what their customers, and there were many, said were the best donuts in the area, bar none, end of story.

Above: Claude Ledoux of Westport Matters interviews Alex Kogle.

Click here to view video from the archives of Westport Matters.

 

The Butlers sold the business property and residence in 1979 to former Canadian and United States minor league hockey player, Alex Kogler and his wife Chris, who continued the family business and the tradition of tasty treats until 2005.

The Butler’s daughter, Cathy (Butler) Santos, now a successful Westport real estate broker, worked there as a girl. “It was my very first job, but I learned a lot about work from that job. I loved that job, working with my family and I never got tired of eating a fresh donut.”

Open just three days a week, the Butlers would start baking at midnight and would often work through the night and the next business day to keep up with the demands of their customers.

The Kuglers also worked the bakery three days a week, but the subsequent owner kept it open seven days a week, albeit for only two years.

 

Thursday, December 7 – Sen. Rodrigues leads Rosenberg ethics investigation.

BOSTON - The Senate Ethics Committee has opened its investigation into former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg, promising complete confidentiality to anyone with information about sexual misconduct by Rosenberg’s husband, Byron Hefner.

Sen. Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat and the chair of the Ethics Committee, said his first order of business for the Ethics Committee will be to hire an outside investigator who will be “carefully screened and scrutinized by the Ethics Committee.”

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, December 6 – WESTPORT - State Reps. Carole Fiola (right) and Paul Schmid (2nd from left) hosted the Massachusetts Cultural Council for an overview of their cultural investment portfolio for our local arts and culture organizations. Groups from the area gathered to learn about the application process for the variety of grant programs the MCC provides. Photo | Submitted

 

Wednesday, December 6 - Selectmen set Fiscal 2018 tax rate to $8.17 per thousand, increasing property taxes on an average $400,000 residence by $80.

WESTPORT – Selectmen at Monday night’s Tax Clarification Hearing endorsed an increase of the town’s single tax rate to $8.17 from last year’s $7.97.

Town officials said the increase was necessary to meet budgeted town expenditures for the new Fiscal Year.

Tax primer for the average home owner

The Proposition 2 1/2 initiative refers to the 2.5% ceiling on total property taxes annually as well as the 2.5% limit on property tax increases.

Selectmen also approved maintaining Westport’s single rate with residential, commercial, Industrial and personal property rates being taxed at $8.17 per thousand dollars of evaluation for Fiscal year 2018.

 

Image result for images of property taxesWestport property values increased by 12 percent and taxes followed with a bump up of slightly less than 2.5 percent.

 

It’s important to point out that the average assessed value for residential property has increased to $445,279, up from last year’s $397,163, an increase of a little more than 12 percent.

Commercial property only represents 5.3 percent of the town’s total assessed value for taxable property, leading town officials to keep a single rate to promote development of new businesses in town.

Certified new growth increased to $403,803 versus last year’s $397,163. New growth consists of newly constructed buildings and additions to existing buildings since the last fiscal year; taxes collected on new growth add to the tax levy outside of Proposition 2 1/2 restrictions.

For Fiscal Year 2018 Westport has $2,966,895,669 in residential properties, $169,859,961 in commercial properties, $9,236,702 in industrial properties, with personal property bringing up the rear with $61,990,650.

Westport has no town water or sewer, and doesn’t provide a trash pickup service like those of neighboring communities, keeping the town’s tax rate below 10 percent.

 

Tuesday, December 5 - Beach Avenue gets guardrails.

WESTPORT - A new chapter begins for Beach Avenue despite some enduring harbor residents’ polemic to close the embattled beachfront road.

Controversy that has swirled around the early 1900s way, besieged for many years by tempestuous weather and even stormier politics, may be coming to a close with the installation of a wooden guardrail system.

The imposing barrier addresses an issue that local residents have long complained about – vehicles running up the dunes and roughriding over a fragile ecosystem that supports endangered species and is a vital part of the barrier beach that protects Westport Harbor’s inland waters and landscapes.  

Click here to view Beach Avenue plans for guardrails.

The Highway Department has been cleared by the state, Natural Heritage and the town’s Conservation Commission to install the guardrails and execute a road maintenance plan that will keep the road open for vehicular traffic to the town-owned Knubble Beach and provide handicapped access to 

Westport land Conservation Trust beachfront near the iconic Point-of-Rocks.

Beach Avenue along with abutting businesses, a yacht club and grand vacation beachfront properties were wiped out by the ’38 hurricane, and is now threatened with what some claim is the result of the Gooseberry causeway built in the early 1940s and rising ocean levels.

The dunes and the protection they provide to the area were of concern to neighbors, and an ill-fated plan proposed by the Selectmen to close the road, build a dune on its eastern-most section that would support a raised boardwalk and handicapped walkway with handrails, met a slow and lingering death. 

Generations of Westport families have visited the Knubble-centric road as a destination point for picnics and day outings, and walk-on access to one of the prettiest beaches on the southcoast makes the area attractive to today’s seniors and mobility-challenged persons.

 

Monday, December 4 Netflix has ordered a third season of “Stranger Things.” Netflix has officially ordered a third season of the highly popular horror series from the Duffer Brothers.

Image courtesy of Netflix

The show has turned into a massive hit for Netflix, and has become a “binge-watchers” favorite.

The company says that the first episode of season two was watched by at least 15.8 million people within the first three days.

“Stranger Things” is also attracting awards nominations. This year, it got 18 Emmy nominations, winning five of them, and a pair of Golden Globe nominations.

Netflix has not yet announced the return date, or the number of episodes.

 

Sunday, December 3 - Loch Ness monster in Adamsville Pond?

Nobody has yet proved that the Loch Ness monster is real; but a photo taken this morning by Westport’s Maury May shows something suspiciously resembling Nessie taking a plunge in the old millpond separating Westport from Little Compton.

Click here to view video!

Calm yourself; what May photographed is an otter fishing for breakfast, and we otter now by now that Nessie is fictitious.

 

Sunday, December 3 - BREAKING NEWS ALERT - R.I.-based CVS Health has agreed to buy Aetna in a $69 billion blockbuster acquisition that could rein in health-care costs and transform its 9,700 pharmacy storefronts into community medical hubs for primary care and basic procedures, people familiar with the deal said Sunday.

Wall Street analysts have said that the deal could lower health spending.

This deal could change everything. Walmart, Amazon to follow?

Read more >>

 

Sunday, December 3 - FALL RIVER - Narrows Center for the Arts marks major milestone with building acquisition. 

The Board of Directors of the Narrows Center for the Arts is pleased to announce that the purchase of the building at 16 Anawan Street in Fall River has been finalized. “The purchase of this building, which we have called home for the last sixteen years, marks a major milestone for our organization. The purchase will allow our organization to expand our operations and establish a permanent home for the arts on our beautiful waterfront,” states Patrick Norton, Executive Director.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, December 3 – Jr/Sr School Building Committee on the campaign trail.

WESTPORT — If voters support a new grades 5 through 12 school building this winter, it will not only be an investment in the school community, but an investment in the entire town, according to School Building Committee members who visited with the Herald News editorial board Thursday.

SBC Chairwoman Dianne Baron, SBC Vice Chairwoman Tracy Priestner and Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Shana Shufelt stopped by to detail all project highlights and debunk perceived downsides of the proposed $97.5 million, 186,000-square-foot building on Old County Road.

This team has stopped at several locations recently to educate the public and will be hosting a public forum Wednesday, December 6th, at the Westport Junior/Senior High School media center.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, December 2 – BREAKING NEWS – In a stunning announcement, Cape Wind gives up on plan for Nantucket Sound wind farm.

Once well positioned to become the nation’s first off-shore wind farm, the project has been buffeted by legal challenges and trapped in financial doldrums.

Opponents cheered the news.

Read more >>

 

Friday, December 1 - Little Compton Garden Show a blooming success!

LITTLE COMPTON — Over 75 members of the Garden Club of America from New England and states beyond gathered on September 19th and 20th for The Little Compton Garden Club Flower Show.

With the theme of “Where Stone Walls Meet the Sea” this Garden Club of America (GCA) Zone I Flower Show had 30 entries in the Floral Design division, 239 entries in Horticulture, and 28 entries in Photography, with an outstanding Conservation exhibit by the Little Compton Garden Club that documented the community’s commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship.

 

Founded in 1924, the Little Compton Garden Club and its members engage in the cultivation of plants and flowers, and participate in civic and horticultural activities. Community projects include the Angela Spence-Shaw Memorial Garden behind the Wilbur & McMahon School and the herb garden at the Little Compton Historical Society’s Wilbor House, as well as window boxes at Town Hall, the Community Center and Brownell Library.

For additional information, visit www.littlecomptongardenclub.org.

 

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Thursday, November 30 Photo of the Week!

WESTPORT - On Thursday, November 16th MassDOT contract divers repairing the crumbling Hix Bridge support columns got a surprise when they discovered what was thought to be a red Porsche lying upside down eight feet below the surface of the Westport River.

Ironically, a BestRide article just broke that a 924 Porsche stolen 27 years ago was just found at the base of a cliff in Central Point, Oregon.

Initially the Jackson County Sheriff’s office thought skeletal remains found near the nearly intact vehicle were human, but the remains turned out to be deer bones.

See more photos.

Similar concerns about a body in the sunken vehicle were running through Westport officials’ minds when a BigWheels crane was called in the next day to haul the car out of the river; the car turned out to be a red, mid 1990s Volkswagen Golf and may have been in the water for up to two decades.

The rusted out hulk, a two-door sedan, was full of mud, eels, some fish and oysters from many years underwater, leaving police puzzled over ownership and possible motives of how it got there in the first place.

And yes, no body was discovered.

Amazingly, the Golf wasn’t discovered when the state rebuilt Hix Bridge in 2005!

Police and the harbormaster theorized the car was rolled from the eastside boat ramp into the water, where it flipped over and was dragged by the wind and current until sinking and coming to rest in the southeast corner of the bridge.

A Fall River man reported the car stolen in 1997. The owner received an insurance settlement, and the car or what is left of it, is now owned by the insurance company, Commerce Insurance.

The VW Golf was full of mud and debris, and rusted through its body. The one remaining seat cushion fell out onto the road along with the mud and crud accumulated over two decades.

And the car? Needless to say the Insurance Company said keep it!

Click here for more Photos of the Week.

 

Above:  Xiphias founder and President David A. Brayton, III made a pitch for a medical pot dispensary to Westport Selectmen Monday night.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Thursday, November 30 Medical pot company put off again in its request for a letter on non-opposition from town officials.

WESTPORT - A second request by Xiphias Wellness, Inc. for a letter of non-opposition from Westport selectmen to a planned State Road Registered Marijuana Dispensary (RMD) was once again postponed to a later date.

Despite a push by Selectman Brian Valcourt, a strong supporter of medical and retail marijuana outlets in Westport, Selectman R. Michael Sullivan’s concern over quickly moving forward, and a guarded opinion from the town’s police chief stalemated a Valcourt motion to immediately grant the non-opposition letter; the motion failed to a get a second and Valcourt withdrew it.

Sullivan said Selectmen and the Planning Board should first establish their positions on pot in town, as there should be no rush to grant the company’s request until town residents had an opportunity to make their voice heard on establishing marijuana facilities in their neighborhoods.

The Planning Board has already established zoning for RMDs.

Westport voted last year 52 to 48 percent to legalize state-wide retail marijuana sales.

 

“My concerns with a marijuana dispensary in Westport are not with the conscious consumer. I have serious safety concerns for a cash only business and the public that makes transactions with them. The combination of drugs and cash creates a risk to not only the business but its patrons and any towns person who may be in the vicinity of a robbery.” – Westport Police Chief Pelletier

 

Despite state-wide approval for marijuana legalization, some communities have voted to ban retail cannabis outlets in their towns.

The state’s Cannabis Control Commission gives cities and towns the right to restrict or ban retail sales.

Established MDRs have an easier process in obtaining retail pot licenses from the state as they have already jumped through the hoops necessary to open a dispensary.

Xiphias President and Little Compton resident David A. Brayton, III said he has received tentative consent from Fall River and Uxbridge for RMDs, and it was reported in the press the company also sought a RMD in Swansea for yet another facility.

The Cannabis Control Commission limits ownership of RMDs to three per company.

However, until 2011 Massachusetts law allowed only three retail liquor stores per company. In 2011 that number was raised to 5, and raised again to 7 in 2016. In 2020 it will rise to 9.

And fierce competition for marijuana dispensary licenses is also fueling escalating payments to win over community support; up to 3 percent of sales is being offered to Westport by Xiphias.

The company was invited to return at a later date for another go at a non-opposition letter from the Selectmen.

 

Wednesday, November 29 With an oink, oink here, Westport officials hear proposed piggery regulations.

WESTPORT — Following a tough year with animal abuse cases and piggery licenses, the health board is poised for some new regulations for piggery operations.

Board of Health member Phil Weinberg met with the Agricultural Commission earlier this month and highlighted his piggery regulation draft document and how that would impact farmers and other pig owners.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, November 29 Fall River councilor says effort is underway to overturn veto on bike path easement.

FALL RIVER — Mayor Jasiel Correia II has vetoed a City Council approved order that would have instructed the administration to petition the court to reverse a controversial easement allowing a roadway to be constructed over the Quequechan River Rail Trail.

However, the sponsor of the order, City Councilor Raymond Mitchell, said he’ll ask his colleagues to overturn the mayor’s action during Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, November 29 - Westport trail hike leads to optimism on connected path.

WESTPORT — Resident Gail Roderigues remembers taking short vacations to Cape Cod when her kids were younger. She and her family simply biked along the Cape’s scenic routes during those quick getaways.

Inset: Photo | Jeff Wagner

Roderigues, standing next to her college-age daughter Lauren, would like to see her kids and grandkids renew that tradition — but along the SouthCoast instead. She also envisions people from other areas visiting the SouthCoast for quick getaways, enjoying the local flavor and simultaneously helping the local economy.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, November 29 - Handicapped parking scofflaws beware; new law cracks down on handicapped parking abuse.

BOSTON - A new Massachusetts law is intended to crack down on people who fraudulently use handicapped license plates or placards to snag choice parking spaces.

The measure imposes tougher fines for using a handicapped license plate or placard that was issued to a person who has since died - $500 for the first offence and $1000 for each subsequent offense.

Read more >>

 

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Monday, November 27 6:00 p.m. Hit and run kills deer on Drift Road. A vehicle vs. deer strike takes down a doe in the 650 block of Drift Road Monday evening. The driver left the scene without reporting the accident.

Another deer was killed yesterday evening; is this a bad time of year for deer to be crossing Westport roads?

Police responded to the strike and dragged the dead doe to the side of the road until they could determine what would be done with the carcass.

Again, this type of occurrence is far too common on Westport roadways.

 

Monday, November 27 - Medical pot company makes a second go at RMD in Westport.

WESTPORT - An Uxbridge company tonight Monday will seek a letter of non-opposition to develop a medical marijuana dispensary (RMD) in Westport.

This is their second attempt in pursuing the board’s approval.

The company said it had no plans to market recreational marijuana.

Xiphias Wellness, Inc. will meet with Selectmen Monday night at 6:05 p.m. to ask for the board’s support.

CEO David A. Brayton, III said he has received tentative consent from Fall River and Uxbridge for RMDs, and is closing in on Swansea for yet another facility.

The public is invited to attend and make their voice heard.

Last year Westport adopted a moratorium on pot dispensaries in the agricultural town; the bylaw will expire June 1st.

There are about 30 Massachusetts dispensaries in operation today according to a Google search.

Click here to view Monday night’s Selectmen’s agenda and Town

 

Sunday, November 26 Deer vs. car.  

WESTPORT - Another deer strike in the 400 block of Main Road last evening; the deer was killed. It appears more deer are hitting or being hit by automobiles each year. At some point local officials will have to address this situation before someone is killed.

 

Saturday, November 25 - Mary Petti gets the cane!

WESTPORT – Surrounded by two generations of her family, Mary Petti, the oldest living Westport resident, was awarded the Boston Post Cane by Selectmen Steven J. Ouellette and R. Michael Sullivan, one the current chairman, the other a former chairman.

Chairman Ouellette read the Official Citation to Petti before “transmitting” to her the cane and framed citation which read in part, “It is with great pleasure and a sense of pride that the Board of Selectmen presents this citation to you, for having the distinction of being the oldest resident in our beautiful town of Westport.”

Petti is 104 years young.

The presentation was made in Petti’s living room at 85 American Legion Highway with her daughter Gaile Marie Petti and granddaughter Melissa Daley at her side.

With the recent passing of Westport’s then eldest resident, Yvette Landry at 106, the Boston Post Cane was passed on to Petti as the senior centenarian resident in Westport.

She beat out another contender, Sanford Road’s Edmund Beaulieu at 101 years young.

With a smile as wide as the span of time she has lived, Petti received the cane and said she would be sure to keep safe the gold-headed walking stick that so many before her have used.

Many Westporters remember Mary and her husband, a handsome couple to be sure, selling blueberries and corn on their upper Main Road front lawn, who always met customers with broad smiles and gracious manner.

 

Above, from the left: Granddaughter Melissa Daley, selectman Steven J. Ouellette, Mary Petti, selectman R. Michael Sullivan, and daughter Gaile Marie Petti.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

 

So, what is the Boston Post Cane?

On August 2, 1909, Mr. Edwin A. Grozier, Publisher of the Boston Post, a newspaper with national inspirations, forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns (no cities included) in New England a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be “transmitted” with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town. The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it.

Times changed and in 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women. And just as well as the last five Westport recipients have been women.

Many of the original 700 canes distributed by the Boston Post newspaper in 1909 have been lost or are in hiding, but Westport's cane is not among them.

Read more about the origins and history of the Boston Post Cane.

 

Saturday, November 25 - Southcoast Health offering $125,000 through its Community Benefits Impact Opportunity program.

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. — Southcoast Health announced today that it is now accepting grant proposals for its 2018 Community Benefits Impact Opportunity program, which will award up to $125,000 to not-for-profit organizations across the region.

Click here for all the details. 

“As a not-for-profit health system, we are driven by our mission of promoting the optimal health and well-being of individuals in the communities we serve.” said Keith A. Hovan, President & CEO of Southcoast Health. “We work collaboratively with many community partners and we are happy to be able to support this work through our annual grant process.”

 

During its first two years, the program has awarded 53 community impact grants totaling more than $250,000.

 

Grant proposals must align with the health priority areas identified in Southcoast Health’s most recent Community Benefits Report. Past grantees represent a variety of programs that positively impact communities across the South Coast. These range from a program providing laundry services to homeless residents, to outreach and care coordination and support groups for residents impacted by the opioid crisis. Other projects promote wellness through programs that impact healthy eating and opportunities for physical activity.

The annual Community Benefits Impact Opportunity program is part of larger community benefits efforts which positively impacts hundreds of thousands of residents on the South Coast.

The deadline for submission of a grant proposal is 5: p.m. on Friday, December 1, 2017. To obtain a copy of the application, contact Rachel Davis at davisr@southcoast.org or visit www.southcoast.org/communitybenefits.

 

Above: Animal activists rally at Fall River Courthouse on October 3rd.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Thursday, November 23 - WESTPORT – Westport animal abuse case pretrial conferences set for January; residents fearful no one will get jail time.

Defendants in the American Legion Highway animal cruelty case appeared in Bristol County Superior Court in Fall River on Friday. Pre-trial conferences were set for early next year.

The court records state that Friday’s proceedings were scheduled for plea offers. The defendants had previously pleaded not guilty at their arraignments held earlier this year. On Friday, no pleas were changed, the attorneys on both sides discussed their respective case points, and all the cases were given new dates for trial assignment.

Read more >>

 

Monday, November 20 - Photo of the Week. Sparks fly as highway department worker Quentin Lord grinds the rust and grime away from an aging 1999 Freightliner truck bed in preparation for patching by welding new steel plates where the old plates used to be.

The annual ritual prepares the town’s fleet of sanders and plows for the winter ahead.

The constant exposure to wet and salted sand takes a toll on the truck beds, dramatically shortening their useful life.

“A few of the trucks lose sand on the roads from the rotting bed pan,” Highway Surveyor Chris Gonsalves said. 

“It costs about $25,000 for a new truck bed for the Freightliners,” Gonsalves said. “But we can repair most of the rust and rot plaguing a truck for about $4200 in parts, extending the life by quite a few years.”

The highway department employs five Freightliners, one army truck, two pickups, and one tanker to plow and sand over 150 miles of Westport roads within a 64.4 square mile area.

The town’s custodian also has a pickup which is used to plow the Town Hall and Town Hall Annex parking lots.

“We have more trucks requested for 2018,” Gonsalves said. “We’re not gaining new trucks but replacing older ones.”

 

Above: Lot A is planned to be town-owned, conserved land that could be used for multi-purpose recreation.  Lot B would be owned by the Westport Land Conservation Trust with walking trails.

Monday, November 20 - Playground, indoor gym potential uses for former St. Vincent de Paul land in Westport.

WESTPORT - The town is still looking for direction, input and a plan for a 21.1-acre piece of property the Westport Land…

Read more >>

 

Monday, November 20 - District Attorney’s office beefs up animal cruelty response following Westport cases.

WESTPORT – A tense few months between the district attorney’s office, town selectmen and animal advocates might have reached a compromise recently.

Town animal advocates and two selectmen recently expressed satisfaction with a move by the Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn’s office. The personnel shift will entail having a victim advocate also work on animal cruelty cases. Deb Almeida will be the second employee of the office to attend to these matters.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, November 19 BREAKING NEWS 10:00 a.m. Wind, rain, storm surge shuts down East Beach Road; fallen tree closes Briggs Road.

WESTPORT - Surging tide, high seas and strong on-shore winds wash up cobblestones over East Beach Road, making the seaside road impassable - highway department dispatched to clean up the mess.

Gale force conditions with W winds 20 to 25 kt with gusts up to 40 kt, and seas 4 to 7 ft in Buzzards bay.

To make matters worse on a stormy Sunday morning a large tree fell at 300 Briggs Road, taking down wires and blocking the roadway (above.)

And the Head of Westport perilously flooded due to storm surge and heavy rainfall.

No rest for the Westport Highway Department and winter has yet to come!

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click on images to enlarge.

Above: panoramic view of the Head of Westport showing tidal storm surge dangerously close to flooding Osprey Sea Kayak Adventures.

Russells Mills Contracting Construction workmen taking off two weeks to allow for seasonal high tides to subside before return to finishing rebuilding the head landing’s eastern retaining wall.

Above: East Beach Road gets a pounding. Photo | Gary Tripp

 

Saturday, November 18 Community rallies behind Dargon after vote against renewing superintendent contract.

WESTPORT – Emotions ran high at Wednesday’s School Committee meeting, as school staff members, parents and others voiced their displeasure with the School Committee’s vote last week not to negotiate a new contract with Superintendent Ann Marie Dargon.

“An effective superintendent has the following traits: vision and values,” said parent and former School Committee member Melissa Pacheco. She called on the School Committee to reconsider its vote taken last week. “Dr. Dargon is the voice of the district. She is as collaborative as it gets.”

Read more >>

 

Saturday, November 18 – Bio Lab named in honor of Rita Lafrance. The biology lab at Bishop Stang High School — one of two to be recently overhauled — has been named in memory of the late Rita Lafrance, the woman who was for more than a half-century the friendly public face of White’s of Westport and Lafrance Hospitality.

Inset: from the left - great granddaughter Leah Fellows, son Richard Lafrance, great-grandson William Lafrance, granddaughter-in-law Janna Lafrance and grandson Christian Lafrance.

“Our family is proud to sponsor the Bishop Stang High School Science Lab initiative and honored that the biology lab will be named ‘In Memory of Rita P. Lafrance,’” said Richard Lafrance.  “My mom was always focused on helping others and seeking best solutions for the future. She would be very pleased with this recognition.”

The beloved matriarch of the Lafrance family died in January at 93.

Stang’s science department has prepared generations of young people for higher education and inspired many to choose science-based careers.

 

 

Friday, November 16 – Pickup crashes into tree on lower main Road.

WESTPORT – An older Chevrolet regular cab 1500 4X4 pickup truck heading south on Main Road veered off the road in the 1300 block area, traversed a lawn and into a tree, spinning the truck around and sending the single male occupant to the hospital.

Several police cruisers, ambulance and fire apparatus were called to the scene.

The truck had a Connecticut registration.

The early afternoon crash is under investigation.

 

Above: A Big Wheels recovery team fished out a sunken vehicle early afternoon from the south side of the Hix Bridge.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Friday, November 17 – Stranger Things!

WESTPORT - Anglers catch lots of odd things fishing off Hix Bridge. Old tires, even older boots, lost rods and reels, and, yes, even the proverbial kitchen sink!

But divers repairing Hix Bridge columns Friday noontime caught a car and the imagination of all present whether anyone was still inside.

Police were called, The Highway Department hustled down, and a Big Wheel recovery team rushed in to extricate a red, two-door sedan lying eight feet down on its roof, buried in two feet of muck.

Local Westport diver Jim Mercer of was contracted by Big Wheel to go down under and attach a crane hoist strap to the mystery car which at first divers thought was a Porsche.

A corroded registration plate with partially readable numbers was retrieved and the plate numbers radioed to the police dispatcher with the hopes of tracking down the decades old registration, and solve the ownership question which might open doors in deciphering the how and why the car was at the bottom of the Westport River’s East Branch for maybe two decades or more.

 

Thursday, November 16 - Mary Petti gets the cane!

WESTPORT - With the recent passing of Westport’s oldest resident, Yvette Landry at 106, the Boston Post Cane was presented to Mary Petti of 85 American Legion Highway by Selectmen at their Monday night meeting as the newest, oldest living Westport resident.

Petti is 104 years young.

 

Inset: Town Administrator Tim King holds the Boston Post Cane that will be presented to Mary Petti at a future time.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

 

Yvette Landry, 100 was awarded the Boston Post Cane on October 3, 2011 in a touching presentation made by Selectmen, the second such presentation in less than a year.

Evelyn Potuchek, presented the Boston Post Cane by Selectmen on April 26th, passed away on July 31, 2011.

“This one we all wish we could get,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Richard Spirlet had said at the time.

Petti wasn’t present Monday during the award ceremony; the actual presentation will be made in Petti’s home by selectmen at a later date.

So, what is the Boston Post Cane?

On August 2, 1909, Mr. Edwin A. Grozier, Publisher of the Boston Post, a newspaper with national inspirations, forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns (no cities included) in New England a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town. The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it.

Times changed and in 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women. And just as well as the last five Westport recipients have been women.

Many of the original 700 canes distributed by the Boston Post newspaper in 1909 have been lost or are in hiding, but Westport's cane is not among them.

Read more about the origins and history of the Boston Post Cane.

 

Wednesday, November 15 Selectmen on Monday approved two conservation restrictions, including 32.5 acres off Beeden Road dubbed Strawberry Fields.

WESTPORT – Residents off Beeden Road and Route 177 may be singing the famous song “Strawberry Fields” in the near future.

Selectmen on Monday approved two conservation restrictions, including 32.5 acres off Beeden Road dubbed Strawberry Fields.

Representatives from the Westport Land Conservation Trust on Monday met with selectmen, who approved the restriction, which will be on land adjacent to the prospective Noquochoke Village apartment complex property.

Read more >>

 

Tuesday, November 14 - With offshore wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard coming, the gearing up of supply chain industries is not far behind.

With three international developers within six weeks of submitting landmark competitive bids to Massachusetts and its utility companies to create offshore wind farms south of Martha’s Vineyard, the gearing up of supply chain industries is not far behind.

Dramatic supply chain transformations are occurring in retail (Amazon-driven), health care (Affordable Health Care Act) and shale oil (production puts pressure on price;) are offshore wind farms next?

In an assessment report the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center released a few weeks ago, officials announced extensive reports it had put together that targeted and analyzed locations that could generate a windfall for the southcoast..

Read more >>

 

Monday, November 13 Fall River Companies recognized with 2017 Manufacturing Caucus Awards 2017!

BOSTON - State Representatives Paul Schmid (D-Westport), Carole Fiola (D-Fall River), Alan Silvia (D-Fall River) and State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport) recognized three local Fall River manufacturing companies for their excellence and innovation at the 2017 Manufacturer of the Year Award presented by the Massachusetts Legislative Manufacturing Caucus.

Power Docks LLC, Merrow Manufacturing, and GS Rubber, all of Fall River, were nominated and awarded during a ceremony at the Massachusetts State House.

Read more >>

 

Monday, November 13 – Addiction program aims to open on Penikese Island.

PENIKESE - The Penikese Island School has announced a plan for a new addiction treatment program for men 18 years and older. The remote Elizabethan Island school location, once a leper colony, may just be a game-changing model for long-term recovery and sustained sobriety.

Read more >>

 

Monday, November 13 – Capital funding request stack up in Westport.  

WESTPORT - Still in the early days of studying capital needs requests for fiscal 2019, starting July 1, Westport’s Capital Improvements Planning Committee is finding that the applications for big-ticket financial expenditures for next year are adding up fast.

The planning committee chaired by Town Administrator Tim King met last week with the director of Marine Services, the Highway Surveyor and Police Chief Keith Pelletier to discuss applications for capital funding from those departments for the 2019 fiscal year and beyond.

Pelletier, last on the agenda, had the quickest presentation for the advisory board. For 2019, the department is seeking $140,775 in capital funding, needed to purchase and equip three new police cruisers.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, November 12 - Westport third grader honored for naming town mascot.

WESTPORT - Every school and team have a mascot.

Now, Westport’s wildcat has a more specific name to go with its iconic character — Wes Porter. That name will likely be etched in school district history and the town has an unlikely source behind this name — third grader Skylar Rezendes.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, November 12 - Turkeys a conservation success story in Massachusetts.

WESTPORT - For more than 100 years, there were no wild turkeys in Massachusetts.

Hunting and increased development completely wiped out the wild turkeys, but in the past few decades, the large birds have rebounded in a big way. Turkeys are increasingly popping up in urban and residential areas.

“It is a great success story we were able to get them re-established,” said Wayne Petersen, director of important bird areas for Mass Audubon.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, November 11 - Lawrence family to place war and patriotism at forefront in future.

WESTPORT -- War and patriotism will be prominent for the Rev. Robert Lawrence and his historian son, Mark Atwood Lawrence, during upcoming commemorations for veterans.

Atwood Lawrence, the author of two books about Vietnam and a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, will be a featured panelist on C-Span Saturday, Veterans Day.

A 90-minute C-Span program from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. will include presentations and Atwood Lawrence among the panelists taking phone calls from viewers around the country, his father said.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, November 11 - Veteran camaraderie reflects love of country, discipline, mission, courage, humility.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT – Former Selectman Antone Vieira Jr. joked with friend and fellow veteran Richard Spirlet that Spirlet had fought in World War II.

Spirlet, also a former selectman, acknowledged that he was not quite old enough to have served in that war.

Click here to view video.

 

This light moment before Saturday's Veterans Day ceremony was followed by some more serious and solemn moments, especially after Spirlet spotted a friend in the crowd who had served in World War II.

Along with the older World War II generations, the ceremony also brought out younger soldiers, including 19- year old private Trent Rodrigues.  

Veterans Agent Brad Fish noted that 452 town residents have enlisted since 9/11 -- proving there is no shortage of patriotism in Westport.

“When America had an urgent need, they were the first to raise their hand without thinking about it,” said Veterans of Foreign War Post No. 145 member Joe Aquila (pictured above.) “When you see a veteran thank them because without them freedom would have died.”

Read more >>

 

Above: Veteran Services Officer Brad Fish (center) guides the placement of the memorial wreath with special guest Private Trent Rodrigues, Army Infantry (right.) Rodrigues is a 2016 Westport High School graduate.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Saturday, November 11 – Westport remembers Veterans Day.

WESTPORT - In a moving half-hour ceremony on an unseasonable cold windswept morning, veterans, town officials, friends and families of the fallen bowed their heads in remembrance of people in the military for what they have done and continue to do, and the sacrifices they have made, including their lives, to keep our nation strong, safe, democratic and free.

 

“Who gave their last full measure of devotion...

 Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.

 

Donald Albert, Ret. Lt. Colonel U.S. Marines Corps was guest speaker and spoke of the heroic contributions of the military from the Revolutionary Way up to and including the war on terror.

Click here to view video.

 

  

Saturday, November 11 – Planning Board grapples with pot bylaw.

WESTPORT - A public information meeting Wednesday by the Westport Planning Board to gather information from town officials and the local community raised more questions than clarifications concerning the new state cannabis act and its impact on local towns.

A simple majority (52.8% for, 47.2 against) of Westport voters cast their ballots last fall to legalize marijuana use in Massachusetts, but where and how it is to be sold, or banned outright, is not quite so simple.

Red tape, legislative delays and infighting among Massachusetts lawmakers as they tinkered with the state’s cannabis legalization plan added to the confusion.

 

A technical glitch on control of local pot sales could actually allow the state to issue licenses permitting retail pot sales in Westport before the bucolic seaside town has had a chance to limit them.

 

One year after Massachusetts voters passed a ballot question legalizing marijuana, legal pot sales remain several months away. To make matters worse, state legislators put the entire legalization process on hold for a year while they wrestled with the details.

Even town counsel Brian W. Riley Wednesday night had to admit the Cannabis Act raised more questions than answers as to the options available to town leaders.

St.2017, c.55 (H3818), an Act to ensure safe access to marijuana, defines the right of cities and towns to exercise local control to ban or limit the development of marijuana establishments, sets the special excise tax on adult use marijuana sales to 10.75%, and includes a local option for cities and towns to add a 3% tax on top of the combined 17% between sales and the marijuana specific excise tax.

But a technical glitch on local control of pot sales could actually allow the state to issue licenses permitting retail pot sales in Westport before the bucolic seaside town has a chance to limit them.

Read more later today >>

 

Friday, November 10 – Westport liquor store warned for selling tobacco to minor.

WESTPORT - A liquor and variety store on Sanford Road has come under fire for allegedly selling tobacco to a minor, according to the Board of Health.

Health Board Chairman William Harkins has asked the store owner to attend a meeting to discuss steps and strategies to prevent the sale of tobacco to youngsters at Country Liquor & Variety on Sanford Road.

Read more >>

 

Friday, November 10 – Westport School Committee votes for non-renewal of superintendent's contract.

WESTPORT - The School Committee on Tuesday voted not to renew Superintendent Ann Marie Dargon’s contract, which expires in June.

School Committee Chairwoman Margot DesJardins said the committee decided that due to Dargon’s strengths at the elementary levels, the committee decided that its next leader should have strengths at the higher education levels of middle and high school. The district has been plagued by low enrollment at the high school level the past few years and is trying to build a new 5 through 12 building.

Read more >>

 

 

 

 

 

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click on images to enlarge.

Friday, November 10 – Diving for collars. Reparation work continues on Hix Bridge.

A Semper Diving and Marine’s diver hit the chilly water to install steel sleeves around the bridge’s deteriorating support columns which have lost mortar and now expose structural rebar.

Westport has struggled over the last few years in prodding MassDOT, who originally awarded the contracts for the bridge’s construction in 2005, to perform needed repairs to the columns and abutments of the troubled bridge.

But the state balked at funding the effort, eventually giving way to the town’s position that the original work was shoddy and the state was responsible.

MassDOT announced last March that the Hix Bridge repair is on the emergency list and the contract has been awarded to repair the defective columns.

After more than two years of back and forth with the Westport select board, MassDOT has finally taken responsibility for the surface deterioration that has accelerated on 10 of the 30 concrete/steel-reinforced columns which support Hix Bridge, and has agreed to repair them at their cost.

MassDOT said lane closures were possible during repair, but the bridge would not be closed to traffic.

As recently as September, 2015 MassDOT had conducted a dive inspection, and reported they had no concerns about the bridge’s safety, and “at this stage they (bridge columns) were not at the point where they need be to be repaired.”

Click here to read their September 2015 report. PDF

They did, however, cite that the fiberglass jackets installed on some columns were “disintegrating or missing” and the exposed grout was “crumbly with laitance,” a condition observed by the Westport Harbor Master and anyone else who cared to venture under the bridge for a look-see.

https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/US6773206B2/US06773206-20040810-D00001.pngAt last year’s November 14th Selectmen’s meeting MassDOT District 5 Bridge Engineer, Shane Sousa and Yihui Peter Wu, PhD, a CDR|Maguire consultant, admitted culpability for the faulty construction specifications given the contractors that eventually led to surface deterioration on some columns.

The state and the town both agreed that Westport owns the bridge, and that the maintenance to the columns would be a one-time repair by the state.

Sousa told Selectmen the patch-up would consist of steel jacket “clamshells” (example of clamshell jacket pictured right} installed around the defective columns, and the space between the jacket and column would be pumped free of water and then filled with an epoxy grout.

“The steel jackets would have a life of 50 years,” Sousa told selectmen.

However, it appears the town is on the hook for any future repairs.

"On behalf of MassDOT, I would like to inform you that we have recently awarded the Hixbridge Road Bridge Substructure repair work to our 'Scheduled and Emergency Repair' Contractor, SPS New England, Inc." - MassDOT engineer Shane Souza to Westport selectmen.

Above: Bridge support column which clearly shows grout deterioration receives the first steel sleeves planned for 10 columns.

Below: A crew works on digging out the crumbling concrete and rebar, and re-pouring new concrete to improve the integrity of the bridge’s abutments.

 

Thursday, November 9 – A large, windowed cupola takes form as workmen quickly nail down sheathing to protect the structure from stormy weather to come.

Progress on the new police station reaches a new “peak” with the construction of a cupola, installation of a new well, bringing in a gas line from the street, and completing the roof structure with shingling to protect the building from the elements.

The only change order of significance was the utility company NSTAR’s surprise requisite to put in a new pole at street level as existing poles are already encumbered with the maximum connections.

It was a surprise to the building committee who thought NSTAR should have absorbed the thousand plus dollars to install the new supply pole.

 

 

 

Above: Work is well under way in the first phase of repairing the stone work that borders the Westport Head Landing.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Wednesday, November 8 - Rebuild that wall! Flush with a state Seaport Grant of $250,000 in the town’s coffers the Westport Landing Commission moved forward with the hiring of low (and only) bidder Russells Mills Contracting to rebuild the river’s retaining walls at the Head pf Westport.

The 300+ year shipping and transportation channel walls have a solid foundation, but hydraulic pressure from the river’s moon tide flooding over the years along with the recent addition of a wetlands retention area on the east bank is slowly leaning the capstones and first tier rocks over, with several capstones already at the river’s bottom.

It’s was a precarious situation for youngsters who walked the walls oblivious to the hidden danger.

Several warning signs have since been installed.

Unfortunately, the cost of repairing the 990 feet of stone work was under-estimated by the town.

The Landing Commission voted recently to complete the work in phases, according to commission member Tony Millham.

The quote from the winning bidder was higher than expected at $185 per linear foot, for a total of $183,335.

The construction firm will repair the east bank wall starting at the Head bridge and working south to where the vegetated wetlands meet and overhang the wall.

The crew will not do any repair work at this time to the eastside boat ramp stonework.

Above: Russells Mills worker applies a little “persuasion” to move a stubborn stone.

 

Wednesday, November 8 - Advocates make the case for Westport animal registry.

WESTPORT — The proposed animal site registry has caused quite a debate in town lately.

Animal Action Committee members Chris Wiley and Donna Parrillo recently produced a statement on the motivation behind the proposed registry, which awaits deliberation from the Board of Health. It would also need approval from Town Meeting.

Health board chairman William Harkins said town counsel, as well as outside agencies, would also be asked to give input before the health board, or town at large, moves forward.

“Whatever we do, we ought to do it right,” Harkins said at the October 30th meeting.

Read more >>

 

Tuesday, November 7 - Pot Public Participation Meeting tomorrow night!

On the November 2016 state election ballot, Westport Voters approved Question 4, 52.8% in favor and 47.2% opposed, to allow the non-medical (recreational) use of marijuana by adults in Massachusetts. On July 28, 2017, Governor Baker signed the General Court’s revised law on the subject “An Act to Ensure Safe Access to Marijuana” making numerous changes to the laws that were approved by the voters.

 

To engage Westport in the planning process, the Planning Board will hold a public participation meeting on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at 6:00 pm at the Town Hall Annex, 856 Main Road.

 

The newly appointed Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) will be adopting regulations, guidelines and protocols on March 15, 2018, for the issuance of licenses for recreational marijuana.  In order to meet statutory hearing and town meeting notice requirements the Planning Board will be required to develop zoning regulations prior to the CCC adopting their regulations, complicating an already difficult planning process.  The Planning Board is also looking at the possibility of extending the Moratorium for recreational marijuana uses for 6 months to a year to allow more time to review the proposed CCC regulations and address the effects of recreational use on commercial and residential properties.

The Board will present general information on the planning process and regulations relating to recreational marijuana. Local elected officials and members of the community are invited to comment on siting requirements and general issues.  Zoning Bylaws and the regulation of recreational marijuana raise novel legal, planning and public safety issues and the Planning Board welcomes you to participate in the discussion.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Related Story - Trouble in “potsville?”

The growing number of Massachusetts communities that forbid marijuana businesses troubles marijuana advocates, and it should trouble state policy makers too.

Even though the majority of Massachusetts voters want pot legalized, they don’t necessarily want retail distribution centers in their section of town or city, a position echoed by some Westport selectmen.

Read more >>

 

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click on image to enlarge.

Sunday, November 5 – Building committee buttons up school schematics, budget. Next stop - MSBA plan approval.

 

By Robert Barboza 

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT – Unanimous votes of approval by the Westport School Committee, School Building Committee, and Board of Selectmen on November 1st will be sending schematic design plans for a combined junior and senior high school of just over 187,000 square feet to the Mass. School Building Authority (MSBA) for review and anticipated approval.

Last minute adjustments to the total project budget pegged the estimated current construction costs of the new school proposed for the Old County Road site of the closed middle school at $48.6 million. Adding the costs of extensive site work, design and engineering work, and the demolition of the abandoned middle school brought the total project budget to $97.3 million.

Above: School Building Committee votes unanimously to forward on the new school’s schematic design and budget to the Massachusetts School Building Authority for their approval.

With MSBA approval of the new school facility would come an estimated 49.5 percent reimbursement of eligible expenditures, leaving the town share of the project to be financed with long-term debt at nearly $58.6 million, owner’s project manager Richard Marks told town officials before the voting.

Read more >>

 

Sunday, November 5 WESTPORT -- A Fall River woman died Saturday night after possibly being struck by a car on State Road.

According to Westport police, a caller reported seeing a woman running in the highway near White’s of Westport at 9:34 p.m. A minute later a second caller reported there was a woman on the ground and someone was doing CPR.

Upon arrival, police and rescue personnel from the fire department found the victim, identified only as being a 48-year-old Fall River resident, unresponsive.

The victim was later transported to St. Anne’s Hospital, but did not survive her injuries.

Police located vehicle debris in the roadway, but no vehicles stopped and police did not receive any information about a suspect vehicle. About an hour later, Westport police received a call from a woman reporting that her car may have hit a deer. Police located the car in Fall River and determined damage on the vehicle was consistent with the crash location.

The incident resulted in the closure of State Road in both directions for approximately four hours.

Police said the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to contact the Westport detective division.

 

H.H. with Santa Claus, Sunday, November 5 – November exhibition features Russian painter at The Shattuck.

Fullness is Never Excessive – Paintings by Alex Kanevsky and Hollis Heichemer.  

Alex Kanevsky was born in Russia in 1963. He studied mathematics at Vilnius University in Lithuania before coming to the United States. After his arrival to Philadelphia in 1983 he worked as a Russian translator, illustrator at the Psychiatric Nursing Magazine and drew pictures for the telephone book advertisements.

Preview exhibit here.

This exhibition will run through November 26th, 2017

Dedee Shattuck Gallery, 1 Partners Lane, Westport, MA 02790.

Open Wednesday - Saturday 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sunday 12:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Click on image to view panoramic.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

 

Above: Vegan activists hold a noontime vigil last Saturday on Route 6 in front of Westport’s new meat processing center.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Friday, November 3 – WESTPORT — Vegan activists protest opening of State Road slaughterhouse.

South Eastern Massachusetts Livestock Association (SEMLA), a non-profit cooperative of local farmers, is preparing to open a new slaughterhouse on Route 6, a venture lauded by State Representative Paul Schmid, State Senator Michael Rodrigues and local farmers as long overdue and a boon for business in the Right to Farm community.

But the meat processing and retail center is not without controversy.

The 10-acre parcel of land next to Mid-City Steel was the site recently of a vegan vigil by an animal advocate group on the roadside of America’s oldest highway.

To be sure the vigil was peaceful and well-organized, unlike protests in other areas of the world where blood-spattered protesters turn physical with cattle transport trucks resulting in confrontation and chaos in the streets, and multiple arrests.

There were no Westport residents in the protest, although a few were scheduled to support the group.

“We are here because we do not believe that slaughtering young, healthy kids animals can ever be humane. All animals feel pain and fear. We do not need to kill animals to have long, healthy lives,” said organizer Dominique Ruszala.

Read more >>

 

 

Click on image to enlarge.

Above: Planning Board members (from the left) David Cole, Robert Daylor, Chairman James T.  Whitin, Andrew Sousa, Marc De Rego and Town Planner James K. Hartnett.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Friday, November 3 – WESTPORT — Planning Board appoints replacement to fill vacant position. Selectmen joined by the Planning Board voted unanimously Monday night to appoint Westport resident Robert Daylor to temporarily fill the position vacated by the resignation of former Planning Board Chairman, William Raus.

Daylor, a professional engineer, land surveyor and experienced land planner with over 50 years of planning and design makes a welcome and valuable addition to a board which plays a vital role in Westport’s future growth, particularly in residential/commercial development.

Daylor lives with his wife, Sue, at 1800 Drift Road.

“Mr. Daylor has an impressive resume,” Vice Chairman, Selectman Shana Shufelt said Monday night.

Chairman Steve Ouellette echoed Shufelt’s sentiment and called for a vote to approve the appointment of Daylor.

The seat will be up for grabs in 2018’s April Town elections.

 

Thursday, November 2 - DARTMOUTH — Dartmouth and Westport residents can expect two new restaurants on State Road by the end of the year.

A new Thai restaurant called The 9th Monarch is slated for the site of former Thai Taste with new ownership, and Brick Pizzeria will be located next door, both at 634 State Road.

The owners of The 9th Monarch are a couple who lives in Mattapoisett while Brick Pizzeria already has locations in downtown New Bedford and Fairhaven.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, November 1 – WESTPORT - Yvette (Desjardins) Landry of Westport, the current recipient of the Boston Post Cane, passed away on Sunday, October 29, 2017 at the Royal Taber Street Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

She was 106 years old.

https://currentobituary.azureedge.net/049/a990b0bf266e4cf8b2e5be7cfe77bec1.jpgThe Boston Post Cane is awarded to the oldest living Westport resident by the Board of Selectmen. More. 

She was the wife of the late Armand J. Landry.

Mrs. Landry was born in New Bedford, daughter of the late Napoleon and Marie L. (Duchesneau) Desjardins and had been a longtime resident of Westport. Prior to her retirement, she was the owner of a souvenir shop at the former Lincoln Park, Dartmouth. She also owned Landry’s Magic in New Bedford and for many years, assisted her late husband in his magic shows. She was a communicant of Our Lady of Grace Church, Westport and worked the Thursday night Bingo. She was a member of the Our Lady of Grace Senior’s Club and an honorary member of the women’s guild. She was also a member of AARP and the Franco-American Civic League and Catholic Financial Life, St. George Chapter 441. Mrs. Landry was a recipient of the Marian Medal and the Boston Post Cane and was Westport’s oldest resident.

Survivors include her daughter: Lynette M. Ouellette and her husband Normand E. of Westport; her grandson: Robert G. Ouellette and his wife Jennifer of Westwood, NJ; 2 great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

She was the sister of the late Ida Choquette, Yvonne Renwick, Rose Desjardins, George Desjardins and William Desjardins.

Funeral to which relatives and friends are invited will be Thursday, November 2, 2017 from the Potter Funeral Home, 81 Reed Rd., Westport, MA 02790 at 9:00 a.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at Our Lady of Grace Church, Westport at 10:00 a.m. Interment will be in Notre Dame Cemetery, Fall River.

For directions or to sign the online guestbook, please visit www.potterfuneralservice.com.

 

Wednesday, November 1 – WESTPORT - 100-years-young Yvette Landry was awarded the Boston Post Cane on October 3, 2011 in a touching presentation made by Selectmen, the second such presentation in less than a year.

t0.jpgEvelyn Potuchek, presented the Boston Post Cane by Selectmen on April 26th, passed away on July 31, 2011.

“This one we all wish we could get,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Richard Spirlet said.
"I hope I don't have to use it!" quipped the town's oldest living resident.

Click here to view the video.

Landry was born in New Bedford on September 9, 1911, the youngest of six children, according to daughter Lynette Ouellette.

She was married to Armand Landry in June of 1929, and started her married life facing the Great Depression. Like so many others, she survived those terrible years, traveling with her husband, a professional magician. 

Read more with photos and video of presentation.

 

Wednesday, November 1 – WESTPORT — Route 177 under scrutiny by state safety officials. Two fatal car crashes on Route 177 within the past five years motivated Selectmen Chairman Steven Ouellette to call on the Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development (SRPEDD) to conduct a safety study.

That study was released last week with SRPEDD advising the town to petition the state Department of Transportation to eliminate the passing zones; expand the road to implement bicycle and pedestrian accommodations; and for town and state police to work together to enforce the speed limit.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, November 1 – WESTPORT — Westport school officials tout MCAS scores.

The high school this year was not assigned a level by the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, after the state DESE recently released MCAS scores.

But, town officials are anything but alarmed by this technicality. Students across every grade and subject in the district surpassed state averages. Ninety-four percent of last year’s Grade 10 students scored advanced or proficient on the English portion of the MCAS and no student failed the test.

Read more >>

 

Tuesday, October 31 Severe weather slams Westport. Pummeling winds and sheets of rain pounded Westport Monday, toppling trees and blocking roadways, and strewing branches damaged by gypsy and winter moths over town highways and byways.

No road was spared the debris and no homeowner spared the work of cleaning up their property.

Above: Wind swept seas thrash East Beach, necessitating the use of frontend loaders to clear cobble from the vulnerable coastal road.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

East Beach Road was battered by heavy surf driven by tropical storm-like winds, forcing the town to close the seaside road.

Highway workers using heavy equipment cleared the road Monday morning of cobblestones and sand.

The Harbormaster reported two sunken skiffs in the harbor due to rain and heavy chop.

Power losses were reported all over town, and some areas had to wait until Tuesday morning to have it restored.

Above: A fallen tree on Charlotte White Road took down a utility pole, blocking traffic for a day and a half because NSTAR personnel could not immediately shut down the power line.

Sodden, leafy tree branches succumbed to strong winds, falling on power lines and causing blackouts on a scale not seen in town for many years.

Fallen trees blocked Main Road, Cornell Road, Drift Road, Charlotte White Road, Hix Bridge Road, Forge Road, Old Bedford Road, to name a few.

The highway department was stymied for many hours clearing trees and large branches from the roads because of downed electrical wires; highway workers had to stay clear until utility companies, overloaded with emergency calls, could shut off power to some of the trouble spots.

Click here for more pictures.

 

Sunday, October 29 - WESTPORT – CRE-HAB repair program deadline extended to January 30, 2018.

The Westport Affordable Housing Trust Fund is still accepting applications for a housing rehabilitation grant program called CRE-HAB. The Trust will receive applications until January 30, 2018, or until the grant funds are exhausted.

 

The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is currently working with the first eligible applicant for grant funding for needed home repairs and safety improvements.

 

The Trust has nearly $190,000 in funds recovered from repayment of loans generated through the town’s former Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) housing rehab program to finance grant awards of up to $25,000 to help owners of properties assessed up to $250,000 to repair and rehabilitate qualifying existing homes in Westport.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, October 28 Truck hits utility pole; pole wins. A Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab traveling north in the 300 block of Sodom Road veered right off the road, struck a utility pole, demolishing the older pickup and blocking the crosstown way for over an hour.

Miraculously, the vehicle’s operator and her dog escaped injury and the utility pole remained standing.

The truck was totaled.

Fire apparatus, ambulance and two police cruisers responded to the noontime accident.

Above: Driver and her dog escaped serious injury in this noontime accident on Sodom Road.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

 

Friday, October 27 – WESTPORT — Things may get heated at the town Hall Annex! The Recreation Commission has tapped into Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to turn the Town Hall annex gymnasium into a more viable recreational and community hub.

But, Recreation Commissioners Tim Gillespie and Renee Dufour want more work to get done before things get heated – literally.

Gillespie said that this summer the gymnasium was unbearable for workers who were conducting flooring, plastering and other repair work. Gillespie and the Recreation Commission last week received clearance from selectmen to solicit bids for repairs to the air conditioning unit, an older model that will take the expertise of a contractor.

Read more >>

 

Friday, October 27 – FALL RIVER — Westport man facing heroin distribution charges.

A Westport man was arrested this week in Fall River on heroin distribution charges.

Cary W. Pacheco, 53, of 251 Briggs Road, was ordered held without bail after being arraigned Wednesday in Fall River District Court, where he has other open criminal cases, according to court records.

Read more >>

 

Thursday, October 26 – WESTPORT - Con Com moves Beach Avenue maintenance program forward.

But will the town fund it?

Click here to check out Beach Avenue video.

Westport’s Conservation Commission Tuesday unanimously endorsed a state-approved maintenance program for the troubled seacoast road that has been overtly contentious for more than two decades.

Above: The highway department trucked in gravel and graded Beach Avenue in August, 2014.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

“It’s a Chapter 90 road and should be maintained for public use,” the town’s Highway Department has told the select board numerous times.

The town’s Commission on Disability, supported by the Beach Committee, wants the road open, but the neighbors want it closed.

An Order of Conditions issued by Natural Heritage and supervised by the Conservation Commission allows the Highway department to now grade and repair the road from September through April, but must cease all activities in the summer if piping plovers are found to be nesting in area’s dunes or beachfront.

Above: A plan supported by the Beach Committee shows wooden guard rails installed on both sides of the 18-foot wide eastern section of Beach Avenue to the Knubble.

The Beach Committee recently designed and proposed road layout improvements for the last third of Beach Avenue that put in place wooden guard rails that prevent vehicular intrusion onto the sensitive dunes, a complaint many of the area’s residents said concerned them.

Westport selectmen approved the project.

But when asked at a recent Beach Committee meeting “are we going to proceed with a town plan (to maintain Beach Avenue?)”, member Sean Leach said, “I don’t know.”

“The Beach Committee does not maintain or care for roads,” Chairman Tim St. Michel said.

It’s up to the selectmen to authorize the funding of the materials to build the guardrail barrier, St. Michel said.

 

Wednesday, October 25 - WESTPORT — Mooring fees increasing. The town’s marine services division does not rely on the general treasury, director Chris Leonard told Selectmen last week.

Leonard said the division needs to take steps to keep it that way. In response, Leonard got selectmen to agree to an increase in commercial mooring prices from $40 to $60 annually.

Leonard also announced that he and his staff will be patrolling the Westport River to stop illegal moorings.

Read more >>

 

Tuesday, October 24 - FALL RIVER – Bike trail advocates rally to protect new bike path. A rally by bicyclists and walkers to ‘save the rail trail’ was held last Saturday to protest a plan to tear up the newly completed Alfred J. Lima Quequechan River Rail Trail in Fall River near the Westport line.

Photo | FaceBook

In its place would be a two-lane road from the end of Father DeValles Boulevard to Brayton Avenue to convenience the businesses in the Clover Leaf Mill development.

The rally took place at the Brayton Ave. entrance to the trail.

Click here to watch video!

 

Tuesday, October 24 – WESTPORT - Local bank pledges $100K to land conservation group. BayCoast Bank has pledged $100,000 over a three-year period to the Westport Land Conservation Trust (WLCT) to help acquire the former St. Vincent De Paul Camp on Adamsville Road in Westport.

Above: Panoramic view of the Adamsville Road St. Vincent De Paul Camp.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

In July of 2016, the WLCT secured an agreement to acquire the 82-acre Camp from the Catholic Diocese of Fall River; the property includes a roughly 22-acre landscaped “camp core,” which supports more than a dozen structures and recreational facilities. The property also encompasses 60 acres of upland woodlands and wetlands in addition to over 2,000 feet of frontage along Adamsville Road.

Read more >>

 

Tuesday, October 24 - WESTPORT – Farmers question proposed regulation overhaul; animal abuse activists question district attorney’s resistance to animal abuse unit.

State legislator sponsoring bill creating an animal abuse registry refused to meet and discuss with Animal Action Committee.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT – The farmers showed up at the Animal Action Committee and weighed in on the proposed animal site registry.

State Representative Stephen J. Howitt didn’t show up to discuss proposed House Bill No. H.852 that creates an animal abuse registry.

Go figure.

The meeting on Monday was a continuation of the meeting last month, during which members discussed draft regulations for an animal site registry – designed to help authorities know where all livestock and other animals, save dogs and cats, are located.

The committee also reviewed Bedford, MA farm animal regulations. Farmers in attendance questioned the comparison of Westport and its Right to Farm Status to the small Boston bedroom community which is one quarter of Westport’s size with similar populations.

Westport Ag Comm, Livestock Institute of Southern New England chime in...

Read more >>

 

WAG BuildingMonday, October 23 Poetry Group being launched at Westport Art Group.

A group dedicated to writing and sharing poems is being launched at the Westport Art Group, 1740 Main Road, Westport from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017.

According to WAG member Peter Lenrow, “This event is being initiated by a number of people who have been writing poetry and want to expand their group’s size and diversity.  We are aiming at a group of about ten, with variety of experience from beginner to published author.  We hope to have each group member bring a poem that he/she has recently written.”

Read more >>

 

Image result for thomas melville authorMonday, October 23 - ‘Moby-Dick’ author Melville had whaling ties to Westport.  WESTPORT — Most local whaling history buffs know of famous author Herman Melville’s brief visit to nearby New Bedford, while awaiting his time to ship out on the whaler Acushnet on January 1, 1841. Few know that the author of the whaling classic “Moby-Dick” also made a pair of whaling-related visits to Westport Point, another bustling whaling port in the mid-19th century, during his lifetime.

Photo | Wikipedia

Read more >>

 

Monday, October 23 Thanks, but no thanks – DA spokesman Gregg Miliote.  Westport’s animal rights activists clapped in unison when selectmen voted unanimously last Monday to support their push for the Bristol County District Attorney’s office to create a special animal abuse unit.

The district attorney’s office indicated later in the week that the celebratory cheers could be in vain.

DA spokesman Gregg Miliote indicated that the district attorney has reviewed this request, after meeting in person with Stop the Insanity members, as well as other animal advocates. But such a unit might not be necessary, according to the DA’s office.

Read more >>

 

Above: Animal rights activists prepare to pitch their plea for select board   approval to push for a special DA animal abuse unit.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

 

Sunday, October 22 - WESTPORT — Westport gets its MTV, but cable issues still persist.

The iconic slogan “I want my MTV” is something town residents can relate to lately.

The town’s lone cable provider, Charter Spectrum, has been working out some issues with Viacom, a network provider, and there were threats of a blackout for close to two dozen channels. Channels such as Nickelodeon, MTV, VH1 and Comedy Central would not been available to town Spectrum customers, if a recent agreement had not been struck.

“Viacom and Charter have reached an agreement in principle. Spectrum subscribers will continue to have access to Viacom’s networks, without disruption, while we finalize terms,” Charter Communications spokesman Heidi Vandenbrouck said in an email.

Read More >>

 

Friday, October 20 – BOSTON — $13M settlement proposed for Buzzards Bay oil spill.

More than 14 years after a barge spilled 98,000 gallons of oil into Buzzards Bay, state and federal officials have announced a proposed settlement that would require the transportation company in charge of the vessel to pay more than $13 million for damages to migratory birds and their habitats.

 

Image result for Buzzards Bay oil spill

Photo courtesy MassDEP

In April 2003, a Bouchard Transportation Company barge traveling to the power plant on the Cape Cod Canal in Sandwich struck rocks south of Westport. The crash ruptured the barge’s hull and spilled thousands of gallons of oil into the bay, damaging salt marshes, beaches, and hundreds of birds such as loons, seaducks, terns and shorebirds.

Read more >>

 

Friday, October 20 – WESTPORT — Selectmen want high school reuse to offset new school costs.

Selectmen on Monday agreed that if voters approve a new 5 through 12 school building, the current Main Road high school should be utilized to generate funding and offset new school costs.

Because the old school building will not be used for Westport educational purposes, it will cost the town an extra $500K in MSBA recovery costs in the new school building budget.

Selectmen Vice Chairwoman Shana Shufelt has chaired a high school reuse committee and briefed selectmen on Monday about the results of the two recently held reuse committee meetings.

“The BOS (board of selectmen) agreed with the directional guidance that we consider this a surplus asset, that any proceeds from the disposal of the asset be attributed in some way to offset the bond (for a new school building) and that we do not intend to make additional investment in the property to repurpose the asset,” Shufelt said after Monday’s meeting.

Read more >>

 

Tuesday, October 17 Board of Health Director appointed by Westport selectmen 5-0 despite concerns over salary level.  

Above: Matthew Brennan (left) is congratulated on his appointment as Westport’s first Director of Public Health by Board of Health Chairman William Harkins. Town officials struggled over the last year whether to replace retired senior health agent James Walsh, or to create and fill a new position of Director of Public Health.

Photo | EverythingEWestport.com

WESTPORT — After an approximate year-long search, the town has named its first director of public health.

Matthew Brennan, of Taunton, will work at a prorated salary of $80,000 per year for the rest of the fiscal year. Under the condition that a Town Meeting vote approve available funds for the negotiated salary of $85,000 per year in fiscal 2019, Brennan will move forward next year under these conditions.

Read more >>

 

Thursday, October 19 – ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ opens Studio Theatre’s 20th season. Performances are Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. All performances are at The Margaret L. Jackson Performing Arts Center at Bristol Community College in Fall River. Tickets are $20 for adults; $15 for students and seniors; and $10 for children 10 and under. To order tickets, call 508.812.0295 or email the box office at studiotheatreco@gmail.com. Opening night will have a student Rush where all student tickets will be $10.

 

Wednesday, October 18 - WESTPORT – Select Board, Shellfish Advisory Board discuss scallops, fees.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT – In a famous Billy Joel song, the singer chronicles the life of a fisherman – “these waters aren’t what they used to be, but I’ve got people back on land who count on me.”

Scallop fishermen in town sounded that same note at Monday’s selectmen meeting. Marine services director Chris Leonard proposed a new structural limit and measure for collecting scallops within the Westport River.  Leonard asserted that the change and limit will not impose a major restriction on fishermen.

Fisherman Skip Manchester sounded a different note, appearing to agree to the limit and saying that over-ambitious scallop harvesting could wreak havoc on the river.

Above:  Fisherman David Grace warned against any limits on how much scallops one could catch. “We all have rights to go there and catch it,” he said. “Why can’t we take as much as we can.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Manchester noted that in years past, there is a scallop harvest after a drought year. Last year, there was a drought in the state, leading to a good commercial scallop season this year. The season officially began this week.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, October 18 - Interactive Graphic: Find out how your school district did on the 2017 MCAS.  The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released the 2017 MCAS scores on Wednesday, October 18th.

Click here to read this eye-opening report.

Students in the third to eighth grades took what is being referred to as the “Next-Generation MCAS.” The updated version of the MCAS was given for the first time in the spring to elementary and middle school students in the English/language arts and mathematics categories.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, October 18 - WESTPORT — Westport doctors put focus on patients, not insurance requirements.

Dr. Cathleen S. Hood, a family medicine physician, has taken back her relationship with the patient and is giving health insurance and its stringent rules and complicated coding systems the boot.

Hood and her practice partner, Dr. Karen L. Ottenstein, have remade Primary Care Partnership into a new practice model that affords time to every patient and utilizes new technology alongside old-fashioned caring.

Read more >>

 

Image result for images of south coast rail

Wednesday, October 18 - FALL RIVER — Latest filings ‘significant advancement’ of South Coast Rail permitting. Permitting through required Notice of Intent wetlands filings will be sought in Fall River in the next month or so to advance South Coast Rail service to Boston through the revised Middleboro route, officials said.

State Rep. William Straus, D-Mattapoisett, House chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, called the NOI filings “a significant advancement” on the permitting process.

Read more >>

 

Monday, October 16 Westport Art Group’s Autumn Members’ reception and annual members’ meeting on Monday, October 16th from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Show Runs Saturday, October 14th through Sunday, November 5th. Gallery Hours: Weekends 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Wednesdays 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

All are welcome to come and enjoy artwork created by Westport Art Group members at the Westport Art Group building, 1740 Main Road, Westport. Most pieces will be for sale!

Click here to view preview YouTube video.

 

Sunday, October 15 FALL RIVER— The Narrows Center offers an exciting November entertainment lineup. And beginning November 17th, the front gallery will http://www.narrowscenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/peter-case-and-gurf-morlix.jpgfeature “The Mill Project, An Art of Work.” This multimedia exhibition includes paintings and printed scrims of 19th century textile workers, invoking the atmosphere and patterns of labor in the mills, as well as people embracing nature and recreation as a refuge from the hardships of factory life. Beginning November 4th, in the back gallery will showcase “The Alphabet by Carol Way Wood.”

Click here for their November Schedule.  Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and shows start at 8:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Click here for their current schedule. Events sell out fast; don’t wait to get tickets!

 

Sunday, October 15 Trouble in “potsville?” The growing number of Massachusetts communities that forbid marijuana businesses troubles marijuana advocates, and it should trouble state policy makers too. But the solution is not to punish those towns by taking away their share of pot tax revenues, as some critics demand. Lawmakers ought to strengthen the carrot offered to towns before they even think about resorting to sticks.

After last year’s successful ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana at the state level, more than 100 municipalities have responded with permanent or temporary bans, or tight restrictions on retail sales. Some of those towns opposed legalization in November. But many towns whose voters approved sales don’t want them in their backyard. Last month, for instance, Milford voters nixed commercial marijuana after voting for legalization last year.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, October 14 WESTPORT — Senior housing pitched for Main Road Jr/Sr High School.

However, zoning issues and a 1950s eminent domain land taking may cloud potential use options.

There is a push from town housing officials to consider using the high school building for senior housing, mixed with other uses.

Above: Reuse Committee Chairwoman Shana Shufelt said her committee would only discuss reuses, and not make recommendations.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Elizabeth Collins, of the Housing Authority and Affordable Housing Trust Fund, urged the newly formed High School Re-Use Committee to consider the senior population, if the town approves constructing a new 5 through 12 school building. This would make the current Main Road high school building obsolete for the school district.

Read more >>

 

Westport resident Constance Gee (center) leads chant for “maximum sentences for animal abusers.”

Friday, October 13 - Westport animal advocates meet with district attorney.

WESTPORT - A group of town animal advocates met with the district attorney last week and are calling for sweeping changes concerning animal rights.

The meeting was the culmination of a series of protests that two town animal groups have conducted after two Westport individuals involved in an animal abuse case that led to what the animal advocates call a “lax sentence” recently from Bristol County District Court Judge Gilbert Nadeau.

Read more >>

 

Friday, October 13 - DIGHTON — Students in spotlight at Bristol Aggie Fall Show.

Autumn’s magical colors come alive later this month when Bristol County Agricultural School presents its annual Fall Show, Oct. 20-22, on the school grounds.

The popular event showcases the important contributions made by the agricultural students who hail from 16 towns and four cities.

During the three-day event, visitors will enjoy animal shows and exhibits, landscape and floral design demonstrations, arboriculture displays, agricultural diesel mechanic displays, and exhibits presented by the Bristol County Natural History Museum, which is housed in the school.

Read more >>

 

Thursday, October 12 FOWL Newsletter now available on-line. The Friends of the Westport Library (FOWL) have released their Fall/Winter 2017 Newsletter. Click here to read it now.

Click here to read other local non-profit organizations’ newsletters.

 

Thursday, October 12 - WESTPORT — South Coast Bikeway Alliance meets tonight. The town’s new Bike/Walking Path Committee recently held an organizational meeting at Westport Free Public Library, electing officers and beginning discussions on a mission statement and goals.

 

The Westport chapter of the regional South Coast Bikeway Alliance meets tonight in its first full meeting at the Westport Public Library, Old County Road beginning at 7:15 p.m. Interested parties should plan to attend.

 

The seven-member advisory committee elected Gail Roderigues, a member of the regional South Coast Bikeway Alliance, as its chair at the September 14th kickoff meeting. Monica Faria was elected vice chair, and Bette Low was picked as secretary.

Among the new committee’s initial goals is to work with the regional advocacy group on plans to link a potential cycling and walking path through part of Westport to connecting paths in Fall River and Dartmouth.

Several members of the Westport committee said they would begin attending monthly South Coast Bikeway Alliance meetings to represent the town’s interests in a possible extension of the new Quequechan River Rail Trail, running from the heart of Fall River to the Westport town line.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, October 11WESTPORT — Westport schools slow loss of students to other districts.

During the School Committee’s review of enrollment, special education and bus ridership numbers, School Committee member Antonio Viveiros noted a theme – things are trending upward for the district.

More than a year ago, committee members noted a sharp decline in the numbers of students leaving the district, especially after Grade 8. This September, compared to one year ago, the district has only 27 fewer students, going from 1,459 to 1,431.

Read more >>

 

Wednesday, October 11 Agri-vation! With recent apprehension expressed by town officials and abutters over the advance of agritourism and agri-entertainment, both functions that help sustain the viability of Westport’s agricultural community, it’s refreshing to hear from a local Westport woman who grew up on a potato farm in Aroostook County, Maine.

Brought to Europe from the New World by Spanish explorers, the lowly potato gave rise to modern industrial agriculture.

Today the potato is the fifth most important crop worldwide, after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane.

Westport still has two large, productive potato farms, one of which sends their yearly crop to Cape Cod Potato Chips in Barnstable.

This is her story.....

Growing Up in Aroostook County, Maine - The Daughter of a Potato Farmer. – Kristie Furrow

My Grandfather and Father owned just less than 300 acres between them.  My Grandfather inherited his in-law’s farm plus 150 acres of his own.  Father bought a 100-acre farm, 50 acres of which was a workable field.  The fields were long and beautiful during every stage, in every season - bordered by woods, field roads, access roads with two tire tracks and grass in the middle, or tree lines dictating the property line.  They stretched into the horizon.

Read more >>

 

Above: Aerial view of Westport’s new police station reveals a beehive of activity as walls and roof trusses rise up from the Hixbridge Road site.

Aerial photo by EverythingWestport.com

Click on image to enlarge.

Wednesday, October 11 Photo of the Week! Progress erecting Westport’s new 15,000 square foot, one-story police station has accelerated as good weather and contractor support have put the $10 plus million project ahead of schedule.

Roof trusses up by the weekend with roof sheathing to follow will weatherproof the building allowing uninterrupted interior work throughout the fall and impending winter.

Construction hats off to Westport’s Police Station Building committee and the general contractor. 

 

Wednesday, October 11 WRWA’s recent recycling day made a big dent in salvaging obsolete electronics that years ago used to end up in the town’s landfill.

The Westport River Watershed Alliance collected close to 8,000 pounds of materials that will be recycled, due to the efforts of IndieCycle  from Charlestown, RI!

From the moment the drive started at 9:00 a.m. a long line of cars and trucks brought in everything from Christmas lights to a gigantic CRT TV set that challenged two volunteers to hoist it up onto the collection truck.

It was a free event for most items with some having a $10 fee.

WRWA thanks everyone who attended their fall electronics recycling event, with special thanks to their volunteers - Thom, Julie, Evelyn, Christina, Jennifer - and our Commonwealth Corps members Victoria and Angie. Thanks also to the Town for letting them use the Town Hall parking lot, and to all the folks who brought in their old electronics.

 

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click here for more pictures.

 

Monday, October 9 - Scouts are selling gourmet popcorn; form new pack. Drive ends October 31st.

Troop 3 Westport scouts are selling gourmet popcorn to help support their scouting adventures.

Products include caramel, white cheddar, microwave, salted caramel and chocolatey caramel crunch popcorn, white chocolate pretzels and popping corn. There is also the opportunity to make a donation to the military.

Trail’s End will send a variety of popcorn treats to veterans’ organizations, U.S. troops and their families.

Products will be delivered in November. The popcorn season runs until the end of October. If they miss your street and you want to order, send an email to troop3westport@gmail.com or leave a message on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Troop3Westport and they will make your street a priority.

Check the Facebook page for places you can buy the popcorn around Westport.

New Cub Scout pack. Boys interested in joining newly formed Cub Scout Pack 3 can call Mike Hall, cubmaster, at 774.644.1377 or email pack3westport@gmail.com.

 

Sunday, October 8 - New video!  Click here to watch video of Fall River Animal Abuse Rally.

 

Sunday, October 8 - SOUTH DARTMOUTH — “Panda” wins 14th running of the ducks! Caron Rocha adopted “Panda”, an adorable and capable yellow rubber racer along with 12 other ducks for the 2017 Allens Pond Duck Derby and boy, did Panda do well – taking first place and presenting her owner with the monumental task of deciding where to travel with her Grand Prize of two round-trip tickets, two nights of lodging and a free dinner to look forward to…anywhere in the world.

 

Inset: Fleet-webbed “Panda” crosses the finish line ahead of 5000-plus competitors to win the 14th annual Running of the Ducks!

With the event in its 14th year, it’s always interesting to find out where the winner decides to travel, and this is the second trip to Hawaii.  Previous destinations also include India, Aruba, Zambia, New Zealand, Tanzania, China, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, France (twice) and Ecuador... 

Read more >>

 

Saturday, October 7 – WESTPORT – Weddings at Weatherlow OKed by Westport ZBA.

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

The debate was long and passionate, and contentious on both sides, but Wednesday's Zoning Board of Appeals hearing favored Ryan Wagner and Weatherlow Farms.

Wagner's appeal to the ZBA scored a victory for a branch of farming known as agritourism or agri-entertainment, which allows farming operations to expand their business practice to promote their own farming products. Westport Vineyards & Winery on Hixbridge Road helped initiate this practice in town, and is well known for its summer concert series.

Wagner, on the other hand, will use his property for farm-to-table events, lectures and weddings, at his three-year old farm operation at 845 Sodom Road.

Above: Attorney Frank Deluna successfully argued that the town’s bylaw doesn’t prohibit his client, Ryan Wagner from conducting weddings at his farm. Photo | EverythingWestport.com

The ZBA overturned a ‘cease and desist’ order by the town’s zoning officer that prohibited Wagner from turning his flower and cattle business into an event location that will allow weddings.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, October 7 With building permits increasing, inspector's office seeks more personnel.

WESTPORT - The zoning commissioner has been in contact with banks and insurance companies regarding the cleanup of fire-damaged properties.

Inset: Ralph Souza

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Ralph Souza, also the building inspector, could also use additional staff to help him deal with some of these issues, along with the demands of his busy office.

Souza met with the selectmen to update them on close to a handful of properties damaged by fires, with some needing immediate demolition.

Read more >>

 

Friday, October 6 – WESTPORT — Parents have been heading back to school — to meet their children’s new teachers. Establishing an effective parent-teacher relationship is vital to their children’s success and a Westport native has written a book to help make that connection happen.

“Talk to the Teacher” by Meg Flanagan is a book to help parents make the most of every interaction with teachers — from the first meet-and-greet to communications about grades, behavior, bullying and special needs, according to a news release. Read More >>

 

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Friday, October 6 – WESTPORT - Police station contractors in high gear and on schedule. Contractors have installed four of the six planned 10,000 gallon each water tanks for the new police station’s fire suppression system. Pace of work has picked up dramatically since the crews are now “out of the ground”, having poured the slab after completing underground utility conduits, septic system connections, and floor drains installation.

“The site has the best drainage system I’ve ever seen,” said Bill Gifford Police Station Building Committee member.

Both the fire station and the new police station had to deal with wet ground conditions requiring a sophisticated underground system to divert water flow.

Build that wall! Masons with trowel and level in hand erect the cinder block walls that will secure the prisoner retention area located at the rear of the building. The rest of the building is wood framing.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

 

Thursday, October 5 – Longtime first responder feted at Selectmen’s meeting. Firefighter Brian Souza spent more than 30 years, first as a Westport police officer, and then a firefighter/EMT.

He’s seen it all; fighting the 1988 Goldstein fire (the biggest I fought!) and earlier thwarting an armed bank robbery (they were armed with a shotgun!).

Monday night Selectmen, State Representative Paul Schmid and State Senator Michel Rodrigues presented citations to Souza recognizing his tireless efforts and longevity of service as a first responder.

Souza, 57, worked for most of his career at Station 2 on Briggs Road. He started as a call firefighter in 1984 and became full-time with the fire department in July 1987.

 

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Souza officially retired on August 12th, completing 33 years of service to the Town of Westport. Read related story.

 

Thursday, October 5 Cardi gets a pass. WESTPORT - The Head Neighborhood Association was dealt a serious setback last night when the Westport Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4-1 to overrule on appeal the town’s zoning enforcement officer who denied an annual operating permit to the embattled sand and gravel company saying the construction company had abandoned the site.

Head residents had complained of early morning heavy truck traffic, Jake braking and dusty conditions in the historic area, and questioned how the sand pit could restart operations after many years of disuse.

Cardi had been granted an operating permit continuously since they acquired the site decades ago.

Building Commissioner and Zoning Enforcement Officer Ralph Souza had ruled that Cardi had “abandoned” the sand pit due to non-use.

But the town’s bylaws didn’t support that ruling.

Insets: Cardi Vice president Stephen Cardi II denied they had abandoned the Old County Road site, saying they bring fill in from time to time and removed their obsolete rock crushing machinery in favor of a mobile, more modern rock crusher. Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Cardi did say they shut down the site’s retail operation which is why the shack visible from the road is boarded up.

Head residents have 20 days to appeal the decision.

Read more later >>

 

Thursday, October 5 – DARTMOUTH - 115-acre Ocean View Farm on Allens Pond in Dartmouth protected forever.  Buzzards Bay Coalition and its partners the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) and Round the Bend Farm recently welcomed representatives from the federal government, state government, the town of Dartmouth, and local residents to celebrate the permanent protection of 115-acre Ocean View Farm on Allens Pond, the largest land conservation project ever completed on the coast of Buzzards Bay.

Above: Government officials speaking at Ocean View Farm celebration in Dartmouth. Submitted photo.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, USDA-NRCS Massachusetts State Conservationist Christine Clarke, Coalition President Mark Rasmussen, State Sen. Mark Montigny, DNRT Executive Director Dexter Mead, and Round the Bend Farm Executive Director Desa Van Laarhoven celebrate the protection of Ocean View Farm.

Completed this summer, the protection of Ocean View Farm was an $8.1 million component of a larger land conservation initiative on Allens Pond, which has been recognized as one southern New England’s most significant coastal habitats. The larger Allens Pond Conservation Completion Project is expected to protect an additional 100 neighboring acres of forests, wetlands and active farmland. Read more >>

 

Above: Westport resident Constance Gee (center) leads chant for “maximum sentences for animal abusers.”

Tuesday, October 3 – Activists rally at courthouse. Rail against judge’s decision to free Westport couple.

40-plus local area animal activists assembled late Tuesday morning at the Fall River District Courthouse on South Main Street, protesting the Court’s repeated leniency in sentencing convicted animal abusers.

“Animal abuse is a legislated felony in Massachusetts, but the Fall River Criminal Court treats it as a petty infraction. Again and again people guilty of the most heinous crimes against animals are allowed to walk free, with no jail time or fines,” said one organizer at the rally.

According to the advocates, Judge Gilbert Nadeau of Fall River’s 2nd District Court recently handed down the most lenient of sentences: probation for the two individuals accused with animal cruelty by Westport police.

Organizers said they demand maximum sentencing for animal abusers, wanted the institution of a state and federal Animal Abuse Registry, and said that all MA criminal courts should hire advocates for animals.

“We demand that animal abusers are prosecuted and sentenced as felons,” said Constance Gee of Westport. “Maximum sentences for animal abusers.”

Nobody came out of the justice center to speak with protestors, except for a few lawyers who hurriedly worked through the crowd to the street.

Above: Heidi Nunes with Rosie the miniature poodle offered a bright moment in contrast to the serious matter of animal abuse activism.

 

The protest was organized by Brian Harrington, president of Odie’s Place, an animal shelter in Dartmouth, and others to protest lenient sentencing for a Westport couple accused of animal cruelty in a 2015 case that shocked the small farming community.

 

Click here to watch video of Animal Abuse Rally.

 

The protestors also took a few shots at Westport tenant farm owner Richard Medeiros, demanding he be jailed in what many are calling the “Northeast’s largest animal cruelty case ever.”

Medeiros and 26 other defendants have been arraigned and are awaiting trial, charged with hundreds of offences.

Above: Brian Harrington, President of Oldies Place, rallies the animal advocate protesters at the justice center in Fall River

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

 

Tuesday, October 3 - WESTPORT -- President Trump’s campaign slogan last year was “make American Great again.”  Beach Committee members vow make East Beach great again for Westport residents.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

It appears the Beach Committee has applied Trump’s slogan to a small part of America and Westport -- East Beach.

Committee members on Monday officially unraveled a plan to make that rocky-terrain beach great again for Westport residents.

The committee, led by Sean Leach, would like to turn that town-owned beach into a destination that is perhaps second only to the popular Cherry & Webb Beach.

Leach in August pitched his plan to the Beach Committee, refined it, and pitched it again to selectmen.

Click on image to enlarge.

Selectmen had some questions about some of the logistics, such as a potential land swap with a private owner on Horseneck Road, but for the most part on Monday board members applauded the effort and concept.

Leach and Committee Chairman Tim St. Michel have said that only Cherry & Webb Beach is used often by residents during the summer months.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, September 30 - School project’s last pieces are slowly falling into place.

 

By Robert Barboza 

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT - One by one, the final pieces of a $90-million combined middle school and high school building plan are coming together, just weeks away from the Oct. 11 deadline for submitting a schematic design and project budget to the Mass. School Building Authority (MSBA), whose anticipated $39 million in reimbursements is critical to the project moving forward.

At their Sept. 27 meeting, the Westport School Building Committee made some big decisions, the foremost being the choice of a more contemporary façade for the new school, favoring brick, glass and metal, and curbside appeal, rather than the traditional look of Westport architecture.

Read more >>

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Saturday, September 30 – WESTPORT — This year more than ever – the Westport Community Schools is going electric.

This year, the Westport Elementary School third-graders will be taking the MCAS online, after fourth-graders last year also put aside the traditional paper and pencils in favor of the desktop.

The School Committee announced the change, which makes almost every standardized MCAS test in town a computerized one.

Read more >>

 

Friday, September 29 – WESTPORT – Revisiting Westport’s new agri-entertainment bylaw forces local farmer’s appearance before Zoning Board of Appeals.

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

Some say that Weatherlow Farms’ bid to become a wedding and event spot represents the next chapter of farming in town.

Some say it could represent a nuisance for a Sodom Road neighborhood that fears the uptick in traffic, noise and possible public drunkenness.

For well over an hour at a Wednesday, September 6th meeting, the ZBA deliberated over the farm’s bid for expansion after Zoning Commissioner Ralph Souza denied the proposal on grounds of parking and other issues. In his letter, Souza ordered owner Ryan Wagner, whose farm is on 845 Sodom Road, to cease any activity related to weddings or events. Souza said that activity is not within the scope of agricultural use.

The farmer’s lawyer strongly disagrees.

Zoning Board of Appeals members made a recent site visit to the 200-acre farm to sort things out for themselves.

Read more >>

 

Friday, September 29 - Our house of the week is the Isaac Snell House, circa 1832, on Drift Road!  The Isaac Snell House, circa 1832, on Drift Road has 4 Bedroom, 1.5 Bath Colonial w/Ell on big 1.44 acres. Reminiscent of days gone by from front of house oriented south to beautiful older wide pine floors. 2,480 sf of living space. Spacious farmhouse Kitchen, formal Dining, ample Living Room, Foyer. Although not usable, four fireplaces offer ambiance throughout. Granite & fieldstone walls. Not far from Westport Town Farm walking trail, historic Handy House, Hixbridge landing. Come See!

Brokered by Suzanne Alden of Alden Hill Real Estate, Inc. 508.636.0600.

Email: Suzanne@AldenHill.com

 

Thursday, September 28 Westport School Building Committee a month away from submitting final design schematics to MSBA. If the state funding authority approves and commits to a reimbursement number, expect a Special Town Meeting towards the end of the year with a Special Town Election 30 days later.

And for all you architect wannabes, guess which façade mockup drawing out of the three shown below the Westport Jr/Sr High School Building Committee picked last night in a straw vote as their favorite!

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Click on images to enlarge.

Figure A-1

 

Figure B-1

 

Figure B-2

 

Thursday, September 28 – DARTMOUTH – Round Hill salt marsh restoration project on the skids as Dartmouth Select Board pulls article from town warrant. As regional environmental groups move forward to rescue declining salt marsh in the lower levels of both branches of the Westport River, Dartmouth’s Select Board pulled a related article form the fall town meeting warrant that would have restored an 11-acre salt marsh.

“The project has been withdrawn,” said Michael O’Reilly, environmental affairs coordinator. With that, the town loses out on $5.1 million of outside funding that was lined up for the project, he said.

“It was pretty clear that there was no path forward for the project,” O’Reilly said Wednesday.

Read more >>

 

Thursday, September 28 Dartmouth man dies in in State Road crash. Despite all the state’s recent renovation efforts to the Route 6/Route 177 intersection, the site of many grim accidents over the years, a Dartmouth man was killed there in a single-car crash last Thursday morning around 1:40 a.m.

58-year-old Dimas Amaral was pronounced dead at Rhode Island Hospital.

Amaral was the sole occupant of a 2009 Toyota Tacoma pickup truck and was likely not wearing a seatbelt, according to the police report.

The accident is under investigation by the Dartmouth Police Department Crash Reconstruction Unit and Detective Division, police said.

Both Route 6 and Route 177 are state highways.

 

Wednesday, September 27 - FALL RIVER — Veterans Resource Fair open to all this Friday.  A Veterans Resource Fair will be from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Friday in the Government Center Atrium, One Government Center. Fall River. The free event will feature a variety of agencies providing help to area veterans.

Veterans and family members who attend can learn about burial benefits, health benefits, disability claims, programs for home buyers who are veterans, and a number of other veteran’s services.

“This is part of our commitment to veterans in our area,” said Ray Hague, Fall River veteran’s agent.

“The city of Fall River is truly committed to providing the highest quality of service to our veterans,” added Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia II.

The event is free to all, and includes refreshments, Correia noted.

 

Tuesday, September 26 – WESTPORT - Animal registry, regulations under review by AAC.

Animal advocate and Animal Action Committee (AAC) member Donna Perillo presented Monday night to the full committee a detailed Animal Site Registry Application, along with a first draft of comprehensive Animal Site Registry Permit Regulations.

The Westport advisory board reviewed Perillo’s Site Registry Permit Regulations which require any individual, or company/corporation to obtain a permit for any type of domestic animal within the limits of the Town of Westport.

The committee has spent the last nine months formulating plans to prevent a repeat of tenant farm animal abuse conditions in Westport that some called the “largest animal abuse case in New England.”

But to be sure, the AAC has many challenges to overcome before making final recommendations to appropriate town boards.

For example, the regulations have shifted from initially recommending only registering animal sites but not animal populations, to now requiring yearly counts of all animals.

And the group must define what constitutes a commercial farm as state regulations may come into conflict with local ones that Westport may want to implement.

All commercial entities, no matter how small, are required by state law to register with their town, but a quick check with the Town Clerk office shows many do not.

AAC members are also concerned that possible financial and personnel burdens on town boards responsible for staffing and maintaining a registry with a multifaceted permit application process that requires yearly site inspections may overwhelm town resources.

And police department committee representative, Det. Tony Cestodio was concerned about increased anonymous nuisance complaints from abutters who may be emboldened by the stricter regulations in a Right to Farm community where farm laws deny nuisance lawsuits against farmers who use accepted and standard farming practices and have been in prior operation even if these practices harm or bother adjacent property owners or the general public.

Some committee members expressed concern that rural home owners who may want to put a goat or a few chickens or a rabbit or two in their back yards might be overwhelmed by the paperwork, fees and site inspections.

After two hours of deliberations the committee decided to send the draft permit application and regulations with suggestions to the Board of health for their review.

 

“Obviously, we’re going to have to pick it apart (regulations) and find out how exactly what we feel it should be. And then let everybody see that and see if they agree with it.” Board of health Chairman Bill Harkins.

 

The Board of Health has the authority to institute new animal control regulations after public hearings.

Above: Dartmouth resident Darrin Mendes who grazes his beef cattle at four different leased pastures in Westport asked if he would be required to submit documentation of animal counts at each temporary location, or would the land owners be responsible. This and other problematic questions were discussed by AAC members.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

 

Tuesday, September 26 -  Animal regulations growing in Westport

WESTPORT - Should a long-established commercial farmer have to register his or her livestock under a prospective town animal site registry?

Would a landowner with just a few chickens have to do the same?

These were some of the questions that Animal Action Committee members had on Monday, as they peered through the first draft of animal site registry regulations. Read more >>

 

Monday, September 25 – FALL RIVER — Woman that hit Fall River police cruiser on 17 medications.

A 60-year-old Westport woman, who was charged Wednesday with driving under the influence of drugs after she crashed her pickup truck into a police cruiser, sending three detectives to the hospital, was on 17 different medications for a variety of medical problems, according to court documents. Read more >>

 

Sunday, September 24 - Westport Selectmen declare September 16th as Paul Cuffe Day. Through the efforts of a Westport couple, Paul Cuffe finally has his day.

“Whereas Paul Cuffe is being honored today for the dedication of the African-American and Native-American Heritage Trail in Westport – Now Therefore, We, the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Westport, MA do hereby proclaim September 16, 2017 as Paul Cuffe Day.”

David Cole and Betty Slade were presented with the proclamation at the Monday, August 7th Selectmen’s meeting, recognizing their tireless efforts in researching Paul Cuffe, and bringing the exploits and achievements of Westport’s most noted citizens to light.

Above: David Cole and Betty Slade with the Selectmen’s proclamation declaring September 16th as Paul Cuffe Day.

 

Saturday, September 23 - Two more solar farms approved for Westport.

WESTPORT - Selectmen on Monday approved a plan that is healthy for the environment and will bring in $3.3 million in revenue over the next 20 years.

The select board approved Blue Wave to develop two more solar farms in town — one on Adirondack Lane another on Blossom Road.

The company will pay $90,000 per year for the Adirondack Lane farm, and $75,000 for the Blossom Road farm. They will respectively produce 7.3 megawatts and 6.0 megawatts, according to Town Administrator Timothy King.

Read more >>

Last November a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the new Old County Road solar farm complex, where its owners formally dedicated the massive, passive 3.5 MW energy-producing facility to Cuff Slocum in honor of the 1700s Nantucket farmer who long ago purchased the land upon which the solar farm now sits.

Cuff, a freed slave, started his family of 10 on a property purchased with a handful (650) of Spanish-milled silver dollars, and now populated with 10,790 high-tech, ground-mounted solar panels.

http://www.aldenhill.com/essay/community_page_3-11_files/image038.jpg

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

 

Saturday, September 23 Mass. court says sobriety tests not scientific evidence for DUI pot use.

BOSTON (AP) — The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that field sobriety tests typically used in drunken driving cases cannot be used as conclusive evidence that a motorist was operating under the influence of marijuana.

The Supreme Judicial Court in Tuesday’s decision said police officers could testify only to their observations about how a person performed during a roadside test. But they would not be allowed to testify as to whether a person passed or failed such a test or offer their own opinions about whether a driver was impaired by marijuana.

Read more >>

 

Saturday, September 23 Let the cleanup begin! Jose heads south, southeast that is. Moving at a mere 3 mph the now tropical depression is wandering out in the Atlantic where hopefully it dies a slow death.

But Jose has a sister, and recent reports indicate Maria is slowly heading north with potential to hit the Atlantic coast.

The forecast track of Hurricane Maria shifted slightly west early this morning, bringing a small sliver of North Carolina's coast into the cone of uncertainty.

The Category 3 storm is weakening as it moves north into waters cooled by Tropical Storm Jose, but Maria still threatens to bring heavy surf and strong rip currents to beaches along the East Coast.

Insert: Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.

According to the National Weather Service the most likely path for the center of circulation is still offshore. 

By Thursday Maria will still be a little offshore but close enough to concern forecasters that any deviations in the track could still produce some direct impact from wind and higher water and a lot of surf and rip current into the mid-week period.

A new front moving in after Thursday, though, could kick Maria quickly out to sea.

And then there’s Tropical Storm Lee.......

 

Friday, September 22 - Following his Footsteps in Westport. Keynote speaker, Vanessa Jukye, Program Coordinator of the Ministry on Racism and Youth Ministries at the French General Conference spoke Saturday morning to a packed Westport Friends Meeting House.

Jukye delivered an empowering presentation citing her book, “Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship.”

Special guests and local historians explored new perspectives on the life of Paul Cuffe, perhaps Westport’s most well-known resident, in a symposium highlighting the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Cuffe’s death in 1817.

Cuffe symposium, heritage trail help recognize Cuffe contributions to Westport & battle for civil rights.

 

By Robert Barboza 

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

Ship builder, whaling vessel captain, successful businessman, and Quaker philanthropist are just a few of the labels commonly used to describe Paul Cuffe, whose family moved to Westport in 1766, when he was eight years old.

By the time that young farm boy, the son of a Native American mother and a former African slave from Ghana, died in 1817 in Westport, he had traveled all over the globe, earned a reputation as a civil rights activist here and abroad, and become one of the wealthiest people of color in America...

Read more >>

 

Above left: Guest speaker Vanessa Jukye is flanked by local historian Carl Cruz.  Right: New Bedford’s first poet laureate Everett Hoagland read his poem Paul Cuffe: Indian Blood, and Addendum for Negro History Calendars.

 

Image courtesy of the National Weather Service

Friday, September 22 – 9:00 a.m. Jose, the tropical storm that just won’t go away. Westport can expect windy conditions throughout today and Saturday, with isolated power outages as trees and branches weakened by the storm continue to fall on primary power lines.

Jose continues to loiter 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, and Westport remains under a tropical storm warning; Jose will degrade to a tropical depression by Saturday.

Winds continue to disrupt air and sea transportation across the region, and local state and town beaches including Gooseberry Causeway, Horseneck Beach and Campground, and all Westport beaches are still closed.

Strong north wind continues to protect coastal areas including East Beach and East Beach Road from any storm damage.

Beach erosion is minimal throughout the area.

The National Weather Service reports tropical storm conditions possible in the Westport coastal area. N winds 25 to 30 kt with gusts up to 45 kt. Seas around 7 ft. Showers likely. Areas of fog this morning. Vsby 1 to 3 nm.

Tonight - N winds 20 to 25 kt. Gusts up to 40 kt, decreasing to 30 kt after midnight. Seas around 6 ft. Areas of fog. Showers likely, mainly in the evening. Vsby 1 to 3 nm.

Saturday - N winds 15 to 20 kt with gusts up to 30 kt. Seas around 5 ft. Areas of fog in the morning with vsby 1 to 3 nm.

 

http://www.calendarpedia.com/when-is/images/autumnal-equinox.jpg

Friday, September 22 – 4:02 a.m.Today marks the autumnal equinox. The first day of fall will officially arrive at 4:02 p.m. EDT.

Also called the September equinox, the Autumnal equinox marks the start of fall in the Northern Hemisphere and spring in the Southern Hemisphere. During the equinox, the sun crosses the Earth's celestial equator, an imaginary line that stretches from the north to the south.

At this time, the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere will receive about the same amount of sunlight, which, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac means the "amount of nighttime and daytime (sunlight) are roughly equal to each other."

In actuality, the day and night won't be perfectly divided into two 12-hour segments, with the period of sunlight being slightly longer.

Also on the fall equinox, the sun will rise due east and set due west, just as it will during the spring equinox in March. After that day, you will notice later dawns and earlier sunsets.

 

Thursday, September 21 Updated 3:00 p.m. Hey, hey Jose, go away! Tropical storm Jose continues to take its toll on trees and powerlines as the once named hurricane is stalled 145 miles southeast of Nantucket.

As of 3:00 p.m. all Westport beaches including Horseneck Beach, Horseneck Campground, and Gooseberry Causeway are still closed.

Seastreak has canceled it fast-ferry service between New Bedford and Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday and Friday.

Ferry service to Block Island is cancelled ‘till further notice.

A wind advisory is in effect until 6:00 a.m. Friday, with gusts up to 45 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Fallen trees and isolated power outages will continue to plague Westport as Jose decides which way to go.

Above: A primary power line taken down by a felled tree on Pine Hill Road near Riverview Drive was setting ground fires as it arced to the damp earth. The road was temporarily closed while Westport Fire and Police Departments as well as the Highway Department waited for Eversource to show up and cut power to the line.

 

Thursday, September 21 State contractor repairs Hix Bridge abutments under the watchful eyes of MassDOT staff. The troubled bridge’s end support pads have experienced stress cracks and crumbled concrete that Westport selectmen have tried for well over a year to get the state to fix.

The town-owned bridge was built with state funds under state control back in 2004/2005.

Above: SPS workers jackhammer out the old concrete and rebar in preparation for rebuilding the bridge end abutments.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Over the last few years concrete in the support columns and bridge ends has deteriorated, prompting speculation the concrete was wet when poured, or was poured improperly in freezing conditions, both which could weaken  concrete’s strength.

After over a year of negotiating MassDOT has agreed to pay for the repairs, and after several months of delays have contracted the work out to SPS New England.

Although the state agreed to perform the repairs this time, they have told town officials they are on their own dime for any future repairs.

 

Thursday, September 21 – 11:00 a.m. Tropical Storm Jose update. Coastal wind up, surf down. As of 11:00 a.m. all Westport beaches including Horseneck Beach, Horseneck Campground, and Gooseberry Causeway are still closed.

East Beach Road has sustained no damage or debris, and has remained open throughout the week.

Strong north wind has prevented any storm surge from damaging Westport’s coastline, but fallen tree limbs have kept the Highway Department busy with over two dozen reported incidents.

No local flooding reported. Isolated power outages.

Tropical Storm Jose is forecast to weaken gradually while staying on a slow northeast path that will keep it off the U.S. East Coast.

The National Weather Service reports as of 11:00 a.m. that tropical storm conditions possible. N winds 25 to 30 kt with gusts up to 45 kt. Seas around 6 ft. in Rhode Island Sound. A chance of showers throughout the day.

Above: Westport police divert traffic around this shattered tree on Hixbridge Road, awaiting the Highway Department who’ve handled over two dozen fallen trees/branches in the last 24 hours.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

 

Thursday, September 21 - Fall Revolutionary War encampment to be held this weekend at Fort Phoenix.

FAIRHAVEN - In September 1778, during the Revolutionary War, about 4,000 British soldiers who were landed from 36 transport ships attacked the four villages situated on the Acushnet River.

During the raid houses, ships and business places in New Bedford, Acushnet and Fairhaven were ransacked and burned.

The fort at Nolscot Point in Fairhaven, now called Fort Phoenix, was destroyed by British troops. It took years forread more >>   

 

Thursday, September 21 - FALL RIVER — A 60-year-old Westport woman is being charged with driving under the influence of drugs after her car hit a police cruiser carrying three Fall River police detectives. Read more >>

 

Above: Assistant Harbormaster Jonathon Paull and friend watch as Jose-driven surf pounds the Knubble and barrier beach at high tide this morning.

No breaches reported for either East Beach Road or Beach Avenue.

Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Wednesday, September 20 Updated 3:00 p.m.  Hurricane Jose is taking a track farther southeast of New England which means the SouthCoast is no longer under a tropical storm warning.

But that doesn’t mean the region won’t continue However, the National Weather Service in Taunton the region will continue to see stormy conditions and high surf. See forecast below.

Westport feels remote wrath of now Tropical Storm Jose. Storm-driven surf batters Westport beaches. Old Harbor Road closed just before noon as live primary electrical wire falls on road’s surface, sparking small roadside fires. Police and Fire Departments, National Grid dispatched.

Harbor entrance too dangerous to navigate. “No one in, no one out,” says Westport Harbormaster.

Hurricane Jose, now downgraded to tropical storm status is kicking up wind gusts to 50 mph, but northeast winds from the backside of Jose spares Westport coastal areas of any real damage.

130 miles south of Nantucket with storm Intensity 70 mph, Jose is moving northeast at 8 mph.

East Beach Road clear of water and debris, and no local flooding of any consequence reported.

Highway Department says no major tree damage other than a few fallen limbs.

Southcoast towns, spared after Hurricane Irma made early landfall in Florida, now dodge another bullet as Jose stays far offshore.

Precipitation forecasts fall off to scattered showers throughout today and tomorrow.

Today - Tropical storm conditions will continue throughout the day with NE winds 25 to 30 kt with gusts up to 40 kt. Seas 11 to 12 ft. Patchy fog. Rain likely early, then a chance of showers. Vsby 1 to 3 nm early.

Tonight - Tropical storm conditions possible with N winds 20 to 25 kt with gusts up to 40 kt. Seas around 9 ft, subsiding to 7 ft after midnight. A chance of showers. Patchy fog in the evening.

Thursday - Tropical storm conditions possible. N winds 20 to 25 kt, increasing to 25 to 30 kt in the afternoon. Gusts up to 45 kt. Seas around 6 ft.

What will become the remnants of Jose will remain just to the south of Nantucket waters into the weekend.

 

Wednesday, September 20 - Westport juvenile busted for Amazon heist. A 17-year-old Westport juvenile — the same youth responsible for calling in a fake active shooter incident at Westport High School in 2015 — was arrested Thursday for hacking into a Texas man’s Amazon account and buying $1,000 in computer equipment, according to a Westport Police press release. Read more >>

 

Tuesday, September 19 Town Financial Woes.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

Last month, town auditor Tony Roselli met with Westport selectmen and detailed a series of financial and other management woes that the town is up against.

Selectmen and Finance Committee members took note, and Town Administrator Timothy King noted this past week that four steps have been taken to right the financial ship.

King asserted that assistant treasurer Mary Sullivan, with decades of banking experience, will serve as the assistant treasurer and began working on September 11th. For more than a year, Treasurer Brad Brightman has asked for additional help and has long noted that the treasurer department had two full-time treasurers and a senior clerk. Brightman said that when he was elected, he took over for an experienced George Foster, who also had an assistant treasurer.

 

Roselli said the town's issues were on the state Department of Revenue radar and late last month, the state DOR's Division of Local Services wrote a letter detailing its concerns, including the potential for the town to be the victim of fraud because its bank ledgers have not been reconciled since June 2016.

 

The assistant treasurer left shortly after Brightman taking over, leaving him short-handed. For over a year Brightman has been pressing selectmen to hire additional help to replace two employees who left his department...

Read more >>

 

Above: Jose-driven surf batters Gooseberry Causeway and Horseneck Beach 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Tuesday, September 19 – 11:00 a.m. Jose loiters off East Coast.

DCR closed the gates to Horseneck Beach at 9:00 a.m. this morning, three hours ahead of the scheduled time announced yesterday.

Hurricane Jose is expected to remain well off the East Coast of the United States, according to the Weather Channel, but will still produce a combination of coastal flooding, high surf, tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rainfall, particularly in far southeastern New England.

3 to 5 inches of rain is forecast.

Click here to see video of Jose’s early effect on the Westport shoreline.

Tropical storm warnings have been issued for parts of coastal southeast New England, from Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to Hull, Massachusetts, including Block Island, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. This means tropical-storm-force winds are expected within 36 hours.

Some trailers have been removed from East Beach Road, mostly from the southern side of the scarred beachfront way, but many have decided to brave out the storm.

Mobile campers fled Horseneck Campground.

At high tide this morning surf was up, the Let marshland was flooded, but wave action never reached the road, probably due to the strong northeast wind.

 

Monday, September 18 – WESTPORT – Breaking News!  Tropical Storm Jose threatens southcoast shoreline. State closes Horseneck Beach, campground and Gooseberry Causeway beginning at 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Selectmen vote unanimously tonight to close all town beaches to follow state’s lead.

Westport Highway Department prepares tree removal equipment for emergency response to keep roads open.

Westport Fire Department gives out Emergency Safety Line to call for pre-recorded updates – 774.264.5155.

Click here to watch video of Fire Chief Legendre’s announcement to Selectmen.

 

Monday, September 18 The marijuana war has gone local, and pot advocates are losing - badly

The fight over the legalization of marijuana in Massachusetts isn’t over. But one side has already gone home.

Last November, a well-funded and well-organized coalition of advocates led by the national Marijuana Policy Project persuaded more than 1.7 million Massachusetts voters to approve Question 4 and establish a system of regulated cannabis commerce.

Since then, though, a new front has opened over legalized marijuana — dozens of fronts, actually, in cities and towns across the state, where voters and local officials have already imposed moratoriums and bans on licensed pot firms or are set to vote on similar measures this fall. Read more >>

 

Monday, September 18 – Irma never stopped by for a visit, but uninvited guest Jose might drop in for an extended stay. The hurricane turning tropical storm by Wednesday is projected to sweep far offshore with wind speeds between 39 to 73 mph.

The National Weather Service issued a storm watch advisory for southern New England predicting peak winds forecast of 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts to 45 mph. The window for tropical storm force winds is Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday evening as Jose sweeps by the Southcoast.

The advisory cautions, “Emergency planning should include a reasonable threat for strong tropical storm force wind of 58 to 73 mph. To be safe, earnestly prepare for the potential of significant wind impacts. Efforts should now be underway to secure all properties. Dangerous wind is possible. Failure to adequately shelter may result in injury.

The advisory continues: Some damage to roofing and siding materials, along with damage to porches, awnings, carports, and sheds. A few buildings experiencing window, door, and garage door failures. Mobile homes damaged, especially if unanchored. Unsecured lightweight objects become dangerous projectiles.  Several large trees snapped or uprooted, but with greater numbers in places where trees are shallow rooted. Several fences and roadway signs blown over. Some roads impassable from large debris, and more within urban or heavily wooded places. A few bridges, causeways, and access routes may be impassable.

Scattered power and communications outages, but more prevalent in areas with above ground lines.

 

“Increasing south swell from Hurricane Jose will result in high surf along the South Coast...As well as dangerous rip currents.”

 

NE winds with gusts to 50 kts will produce 5 – 6 foot seas on Tuesday through Thursday. Life-threatening coastal storm surge possible.

The advisory also warns the possibility of major beach erosion with heavy surf breaching dunes. Strong and numerous rip currents.

Swimmers, surfers, sailboarders take notice. 

Moderate damage to marinas, docks, boardwalks, and piers. Several small craft broken away from moorings, especially in unprotected anchorages.

 

Friday, September 15 Pot talk politics puts pundits, planning board, select board on center stage.

 

By Jeffrey D. Wagner

Special Correspondent to EverythingWestport.com

 

WESTPORT – To residents Constance Gee and Chris Wiley, the town should not look to prohibit recreational marijuana in town. Gee even says that consumption of it is as safe as alcohol.

To Selectman R. Michael Sullivan, the legalization of marijuana reflects poorly on society and his generation, the Baby Boomers, who failed to teach their children that marijuana use is unacceptable.

For two consecutive selectmen meetings, pot talk took center stage at a selectmen meeting. The Planning Board has asked selectmen for guidance because the moratorium on recreational marijuana will expire in June, and regulations need to be crafted.

Selectman Brian Valcourt says what’s the big deal - there’s a liquor store on every corner in town.

Planning Board Chairman James Whitin and Planner Jim Hartnett have remained mum on how they feel about the issue. But, both have said that the Planning Board is under the gun to come up with some rules and regulations before next June.

Above: Selectmen and Planning Board are unsure of options, but vote unanimously against a complete prohibition of marijuana facilities in Westport.  Photo | EverythingWestport.com

Next June, voters will have the final say on everything from how many facilities are allowable and where they could be placed. 

Selectmen voted unanimously last Monday against a complete prohibition and they also voted to give the Planning Board clearance to begin drafting regulations and zoning terms.

Although the vote was unanimous, the opinions of the selectmen ran the gamut.

Selectmen Craig Dutra and Brian Valcourt noted that many voters turned up last November and supported full legalization -- so town officials should not get in the way. 

Sullivan countered that many of those "yes" voters likely would not approve of marijuana in their respective neighborhoods.

Read more >>

 

Thursday, September 14 – Future uses of Westport High School run the gamut at meeting.

WESTPORT - The High School Reuse Committee met for the first time on Monday night and touched upon 16 options for the current The High School Reuse Committee met for the first time on Monday and touched upon 16 options for the current 7 through 12 junior/senior high school building if the community early next year approves building a proposed 5 through 12 school building.

The Main Road high school, built in 1949, would become obsolete early next decade if voters next year approve a proposed 5 through 12 school building on Old County Roadread more >>

 

Above: Reuse Committee Chairwoman Shana Shufelt said her committee would only discuss reuses, and not make recommendations.

Photos | EverythingWestport.com

Thursday, September 14 To abandon or not to abandon, that is the question. The nascent High School Reuse Committee has started discussion (see above article) on possible uses for the current Jr/Sr High School Building should the town vote to fund and build a replacement on the current site of the abandoned Middle School.

School Committee member and former Westport School Superintendent, Margot Desjardins (pictured left) emphatically stated at Monday’s Reuse Committee meeting that a new Jr/Sr High School along with the Macomber and the Elementary Schools would be sufficient to handle current and future Westport educational requirements.

But Desjardins would not commit to turning the building back to the town saying instead she envisions that the 1940’s era building could become a profit center for the school department by supporting education spillovers from schools like Diman Regional that are exceeding their current capacities to handle new programs.