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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

nov25 Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro

Officials hope to create safety plan for Route 6

Public safety officials hope to have a pilot project along sections of Route 6 in Wellfleet by next summer to reduce the number of accidents along the state highway. On Thursday, local, county and state officials met to focus on short-term solutions in Wellfleet and long-term solutions for the stretch from Eastham to Provincetown. The primary causes of accidents appear to be driver inattentiveness and medical conditions that cause a driver to lose control, based on a preliminary analysis, according to Wellfleet Fire Chief Richard Pauley. The older design and condition of the highway and the increased numbers of vehicles is also a contributing factor, Truro Police Chief Kyle Takakjian said Friday. About 25 miles of Route 6 extend from the southern town line in Eastham to the tip of Provincetown. In Wellfleet, the highway is two lanes with wide paved shoulders, and no limits on access from abutting private properties. State highway data presented Thursday indicated that there were 164 crashes from 2010 to 2012 on Route 6 in Wellfleet, with 101 occurring along the main road, not at intersections, according to material provided by the Cape Cod Commission staff. Of those, 82 percent occurred during daylight conditions and 77 percent were in clear weather. More than half of those occurred in July and August and about 22 percent involved an injury, although there were no deaths because of crashes in that time period. However, there have been several serious crashes in the last four months in Wellfleet. On Aug. 16, in South Wellfleet, an hours-long traffic jam from Eastham to Truro occurred after a head-on collision on Route 6 that required one driver to be extricated and flown by helicopter to a Boston hospital. A 20-year-old Kingston man, Timothy Skerry, is to be arraigned on Jan. 20 in Orleans District Court on charges of negligent driving and a marked lanes violation. The traffic jam was caused, in part, because of the complicated extraction of the injured driver and because of the lack of a way to divert traffic, police and fire officials said. On Aug. 19, Wende Harrison, 54, of North Eastham, died when the taxi she was driving southbound on Route 6 crossed into the northbound lane. Harrison may have suffered a medical condition prior to the crash, according to Wellfleet Police Chief Ronald Fisette. On Nov. 15, a two-car crash caused a rollover, with minor injuries, in a section of the highway just south of the Main Street intersection. Curtis Lippincott, 80, of Wellfleet was cited by police for driving to endanger and a marked lanes violation in the rollover crash. Two hours later another two-car crash led to the death of Lucille Francoeur, 76, of Warwick, Rhode Island, a passenger in one of the cars. James Martin, 46, of Provincetown and New York, is facing charges of motor vehicle homicide, negligent driving and a marked lanes violation in the crash involving Francoeur's death. Thursday's meeting was the second workshop organized by Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, to bring state and county transportation experts and local public safety officials together following two serious three-car crashes in August. The first meeting was in September. The meeting was the second this week about Route 6, although one on Tuesday concentrated on the section of the highway in the Mid- and Upper Cape and a crash there the same day which resulted in the death of Lawrence Barros, 32, of Centerville. For Wellfleet, Pauley and Police Chief Ronald Fisette plan to study the crash data, narrow down two or three one-mile sections of Route 6 for a possible pilot project and then reconvene with the group in January. The possible short-term solutions for a pilot project might include a rumble strip in the center of the highway, or even stanchions like the ones on the two-lane stretch of Route 6 between exits 9 and 12, between Orleans and Dennis, Pauley said. "Those things may help in having folks focus (on driving) but it might confuse drivers who want to cross-over," he said. Eastham police Chief Edward Kulhawick said that stanchions, or traffic delineator posts, tend to give the illusion of a narrow road and therefore cause drivers to slow down. "It tends to make them pay attention," Kulhawik said Friday. Wellfleet residents will have a chance to weigh in on the ideas before they are implemented in a pilot project, Pauley said. Driver inattentiveness worries Takakjian the most. "What I see is a complete change of driving habits as we have teenagers as part of their daily lives attached to their cell phones and electronic devices," Takakjian said. "As this age group of people comes into the driving age, we are crazy if we think for a moment that they are going to put those devices down. It's just going to get worse."

nov25 Wellfleet-Orleans

Rescuers Respond To Stranded Dolphin Reports On Cape Cod

Animal rescuers responded to two reports of a dolphin stranded on Cape Cod beaches on Sunday. The International Fund for Animal Welfare first arrived to Skaket Beach in Orleans, where a common dolphin was reported stranded. The animal was able to swim off on its own as the tide came in, officials said. Later in the day, animal rescuers got another call from a beach walker in Wellfleet at Mayo Beach. Workers were able to rescue the dolphin and move it to a rescue trailer for a health exam. The adult female dolphin was about 6 feet 6 inches long and in good condition. The female dolphin may have been the one spotted earlier, but that hasn't been confirmed. A satellite tag was placed on the dolphin before it was released off Herring Cove in Provincetown. As of Monday morning, the dolphin was swimming 16 miles off the coast of Truro.

Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro-Provincetown Orleans-Brewster-Chatham-Harwich

Lower Cape teachers receive grants from Nauset Garden Club

The Nauset Garden Club has announced the recipients of the club's Teacher Mini-Grant Program for the 2014-15 academic year. The goal of the program is to connect classroom learning with environmental issues. The project, "Inspiring Lower Cape K-12 students to Go-Green," reached out to Lower and Outer Cape communities of Orleans, Brewster, Harwich, Chatham, Eastham, Welfleet, Truro and Provincetown. The applications that were funded reflected activities that were academically challenging for grade level, made successful transitions through informed choices about the environment, and promoted active citizenship, leadership and character building. The following teachers received the award:

  • Eddy Elementary School, Brewster; Patricia Marchant - Grade 5; "Model of a Food Web."
  • Harwich Elementary School; Jamie Vient and Cynthia Gushee - Grade 2; "The Importance of Composting to the Environment."
  • Monomoy Regional Middle School; Melinda Forist - Grade 7; "Data Collection for the World Water Monitoring Challenge Using a Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (SeaPerch)."
  • Orleans Elementary School; Kimberly Bruemmer and Sue Richer - Grade 4; "Planting for the Future...Awesome Asparagus for O.E.S."
  • Orleans Elementary School; Joanne Harrington - Grade 2; "Agricultural Engineering and the Cape Cod Farmer."
  • Nauset Regional Middle School, Orleans; Shannon Bertrand - Grade 8; "Design, Investigate and Evaluate Traditional Methods of Plant Propagation."
  • Provincetown schools; Marianne Lynch and Beth Francis - Grades K-8; "Cape Cod Pergola and Design."
nov25 Wellfleet

Wellfleet Chamber of Commerce 2015 Guidebook Cover Competition

The winning entry, a photograph entitled, "Newcomb Hollow at Low Tide" by Salah El-Shakhs photo by Joe Aberdale - at Winslow's Tavern.

nov25 Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro-Provincetown

1888: Cape Cod alone has witnessed more than 3,000 shipwreck

Life-Saving Service went to the rescue of over 28,000 ships. On this day in 1888, one of the most ferocious storms of the nineteenth century battered the New England Coast. "Storm Warriors," as the men of the United States Life-Saving Service (USLSS) were known, saved 29 lives. One crew rowed 6 Ż miles out to a wrecked vessel and rescued seven sailors. For almost a century, Massachusetts Humane Society volunteers had been helping to rescue mariners in distress. When the federal government formally organized the United States Life-Saving Service in 1878, paid surfmen took over most of the work. The record of human lives they saved was impressive: 99% of the people they tried to rescue survived. In 1915 the USLSS became part of the United States Coast Guard. Read more here. The map below shows some of the over 3,000 Cape Cod shipwrecks.


nov25 Wellfleet

193 turtles to be sent to Fla. amid record-setting strandings

Each year, about 90 or so young Kemp's ridley sea turtles get lost trying to go around Cape Cod, become stunned by the cold, and wash up on a beach, their bodies in a bad way. The number of strandings has been increasing steadily, which could be a sign of growth in the population of the world's most endangered sea turtle. But what is happening on Cape Cod Bay this fall is unprecedented, "an outlier of outliers," said Tony LaCasse, a spokesman for the New England Aquarium. Three weeks into stranding season - just a third of the way - rescuers have picked nearly 400 turtles off the beaches of Cape Cod Bay, double the previous record. In the past week, steady northwest winds helped to push more than 300 onto beaches. There is a backlog of turtles at the Massachusetts Audubon Sanctuary at Wellfleet Bay, which has been collecting them, waiting for room at the New England Aquarium's marine animal hospital in Quincy, which has been flooded with incoming patients. On Tuesday, the Coast Guard will fly 193 of the Kemp's ridley sea turtles to Orlando, where they will be shared among 10 marine rehabilitation facilities. It will take at least two to three months before they may be ready to return to the wild for another try. More than 150 turtles will remain in Quincy, but the Florida airlift will open up some vital room to begin treating the nearly 100 sitting in the queue in Wellfleet, and whatever comes on the next high tides. The Kemp's ridleys are the most endangered sea turtle population in the world, and Cape Cod has long cut into that population by catching many of the younger turtles in a headlock. Those that wash ashore tend to be juveniles, between two and 10 pounds, who had come into Cape Cod Bay to feed in the summer but then can't figure out how to navigate the peninsula. To go south, they first need to swim 25 miles north, and many don't solve the riddle in time. As the water temperature drops about 20 degrees over the fall, the turtles become inert and they wash ashore hypothermic, dehydrated, and not far from death, LaCasse said. Strandings are nothing new on Cape Cod; of all the world's peninsulas, it ranks second in marine animal strandings. But even by the standards of the migration trap that is Cape Cod Bay, this is "a historic and daunting stranding event," according to an aquarium release.

nov25 Wellfleet

Overwhelmed with turtles, aquarium even uses airlift

Just two weeks into what is normally a six-to-eight week sea turtle stranding season, prior records are just tiny dots in the rearview mirror. This year, nearly 1,000 endangered sea turtles have been recovered from Cape Cod Bay beaches, and the turtle pipeline is full. The New England Aquarium, the regional destination for injured and cold-stunned turtles, has already treated nearly 400 animals, almost double the record for a full year. In a normal year, between 75 and 200 tropical sea turtles might wash up on Cape beaches, mostly around Thanksgiving when the water turns cold and onshore winds blow immobile and sometimes frozen animals to shore. "There have been so many, they have been overwhelmed," said New England Aquarium veterinarian Leslie Neville about the aquarium's Animal Care Center in Quincy. There were more than 300 turtles at the Quincy facility over the weekend, said aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse. The center typically is at capacity with about half that number. Although 193 will be flown out this morning from Air Station Cape Cod on a Coast Guard transport plane, another 51 arrived in Quincy from the Massachusetts Audubon Society's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary on Monday. Audubon volunteers picked up more than 140 turtles off Cape Cod Bay beaches over the weekend. This weekend, the aquarium sent Neville and fellow veterinarian Kathryn Tuxbury to the Audubon sanctuary to help treat the 100 or so sea turtles that are still there. Two classrooms at the sanctuary were converted to a treatment center that will essentially duplicate what is done at the Quincy facility. In one room, veterinarians and volunteers took blood samples and ran them through a portable blood analyzer. At another table, Tuxbury injected a sugar solution intravenously to bring up blood sugars and rebuild energy levels. Next door, Audubon volunteer Amy McConnell gingerly lifted a small Kemp's ridley sea turtle out of its towel-lined banana crate and placed it in an inflatable kiddie pool. The water stimulates turtles to begin swimming - and eating - again. McConnell's turtle hung for a second just below the surface. Then, its head dipped and the oversized front flippers started working and it was soon scuttling around the pool. Help has come from many quarters. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is giving the sanctuary larger, sturdier pools to replace the inflatable ones. Many of those were donated by people like Andy Fingado of Provincetown. The South Wellfleet General Store and the Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans donated food and coffee for volunteers. Town Liquor in Eastham sent ice to chill the turtle pools, and Veterinary Associates of Cape Cod in South Yarmouth sent over two veterinary technicians and veterinary supplies. Ronda Sigel of Orleans, and her daughter Josie, 8, dropped by the sanctuary Monday morning to bring in banana crates and towels used to house and transport the turtles. "It's amazing, the numbers, and I know how hard Audubon people have been working," Sigel said. Audubon sanctuary director Bob Prescott said the worst may not yet be over. Typically, turtle strandings peak at Thanksgiving and the larger sea turtle species such as loggerheads come in late in the season. In some years, as many as 78 loggerheads have washed up on Cape shores and, since they don't play well with their smaller cousins, they each require their own pool, he said. Although he budgets for these events each year, it's more like a municipal snowplowing estimate and he's had to hire five additional people to deal with the extra work. Prescott hopes to offset the expense with fundraising. He fully appreciates the outpouring of support from the community. "We've had people cooking dinners for us, washing the towels, acting as turtle lifeguards," he said. "People have just helped us out in the all the ways they are comfortable in helping out."

nov25 Wellfleet

Wellfleet Police weekly arrest report

Wellfleet Police report the following arrests for the past week. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

On November 21st at 6:34 a.m. Keith R. Murray, 34,of Wellfleet was charged with Operating after license revoked.

nov25 Eastham

CapeCast: Turnip shucking showdown in Eastham

nov25 Eastham

Eastham Police Department Receives Child Passenger Safety Equipment Grant

The Eastham Police Department has received a $2000.00 grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Highway Safety Division (EOPSS-HSD) to expand its child passenger safety efforts. Eastham is one of 55 communities in the Commonwealth to be awarded Child Passenger Safety Equipment grants totaling $132,000, which were given to non-profits and municipal departments to reduce motor vehicle fatalities and injuries involving children. The grants will be used primarily to purchase child safety seats for free distribution to parents and caregivers in need. Nationwide, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages three to 14. Properly installed child safety seats have been proven to reduce the risk of death and injury in crashes. It is estimated that 75% of child passenger safety equipment is installed incorrectly. "Unfortunately, many families and caregivers in our community find themselves financially strapped. With this grant, the Eastham Police Department can better serve those residents who "find it difficult to afford child safety and booster seats to protect their children from death or injury in a motor vehicle crash," said Chief Edward Kulhawik . We can also assist residents with the proper installation of child safety seats and booster seats through our Check-Up and/or Fitting Station program. For upcoming child seat checkup events or to find a fitting station near you, please visit The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently updated its motor vehicle safety recommendations, advising that children are best protected by using rear facing safety seats up to the specific age and weight limits of the safety seat. Massachusetts state law also requires the use of booster seats until a child is 57 inches tall or eight years of age. For more information on how to obtain or properly install child passenger restraints call Officer Josh Adams at the Eastham Police Department 508-255-0551 or the Massachusetts Child Passenger Safety Hotline at 1-877-392-5956 or go to

nov25 Truro-Provincetown

Holiday happenings in and around Provincetown

The 10th annual lighting of the Lobster Pot Tree in the center of Lopes Square at the foot of MacMillan Pier begins at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29, with the raising of a giant buoy tree topper. here will be plenty of hot cocoa, cookies and holiday cheer for everyone. For this annual holiday tradition, local lobstermen loan more than 112 lobster traps, or "pots," to construct a two-story display, which also includes some 120 red bows, 58 buoys, 46 plastic lobsters and 3,400 environmentally friendly LED lights. The tree will remain lit every night through February 2014, and you can continue to rekindle that holiday spirit all winter long by visiting ... Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill is asking all local artists of all ages to make a holiday ornament and donate it to be sold during Castle Hill's Holiday Soup Party. The party will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, in the Main Barn at Castle Hill, 10 Meetinghouse Road, Truro. Artists can drop off their finished ornaments in the Main Gallery at Castle Hill by Thursday, Dec. 11. Ornaments should reflect the winter holiday season, may be constructed to hang off a tree or be displayed on a table, be no larger than 6 by 6 inches in dimension and be labeled in one of the following price categories: $25, $50, $75 or $100. For further details, call (508) 349-7511.


nov25 Truro

Truro Police weekly arrest report

Truro Police report the following arrests for the past week. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

On November 19th at 12:42 a.m. Ofc. David Hobbs arrested Colin Carberry Buchanan, 53, of Provincetown who was charged with: Rape; Indecent assault and battery on a person over 14.

nov25 Provincetown

Provincetown joins state's Solarize program

Provincetown, Quincy, Plainfield, Ashfield and Buckland will participate in the latest round of Solarize Massachusetts, a grassroots solar energy marketing, education and group-buying program, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett announced today. Solarize Mass - administered by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) - is designed to increase the adoption of solar energy across the state and lower energy costs by offering a five-tiered pricing structure in which the savings increase as more people sign contracts. Provincetown, as well as Ashfield, Buckland, and Quincy, are Green Communities, meaning they meet five clean-energy requirements, including a commitment to reduce energy use by 20 percent within five years, the release stated. MassCEC and DOER will work with community volunteers and municipal representatives from each community to select a designated solar installer through a competitive bidding process.

nov25 Provincetown

Provincetown Chosen for Solar Panel Grant

Provincetown is one of three towns in the commonwealth chosen to participate in a new solar program. Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, in partnership with the Department of Energy Resources, has selected three proposals for five communities to participate in the current round of Solarize Massachusetts. In addition, the MassCEC has selected a non-profit organization to participate in the inaugural round of Mass Solar Connect. According to Mass Solar Connect, the center and department of energy resources were impressed the overall quality of the community proposals submitted. Besides Provincetown, both Quincy and Plainfield-Ashfield-Buckland were selected as a group.

nov25 Provincetown

Cape Cod National Seashore announces Province Lands bike trail closure

The Cape Cod National Seashore announced a winter closure of a portion of the Province Lands Bicycle Trail in Provincetown. According to a CCNS release, the closure will be in effect from December 1, 2014 through mid-March 2015. The trail will be closed to accommodate bridge reconstruction. The two bicycle bridges on Province Lands Road will be replaced with concrete box culverts. Both bridges lie between Race Point Road and the entrance to Herring Cove Beach. The culverts, according to CCNS, will offer bicycles more overhead clearance. The bridge work is part of a bigger National Seashore project in the Province Lands. The section of Province Lands Road between Race Point Road and the entrance to Herring Cove Beach was closed to motor vehicle traffic on November 1. That 2.4 mile section will be repaved. The road closure will also be in effect until mid-March, according to CCNS.


nov25 Provincetown

Provincetown Police weekly arrest report

Provincetown Police report the following arrests for the past week. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

On November 17th at 2:08 p.m. Ofc. Kevan Spoor arrested Scott L. Menangas, 34, of Provincetown who was charged with Warrant arrest.

On November 20th at 1:56 a.m. Ofc. Jason Sullivan arrested Whitney Kay Hammons, 38, of Provincetown who was charged with: Unarmed burglary; Trespassing.

nov25 Orleans

Error prompts Orleans discussion over ambulance fund

A finance committee mistake at the Oct. 27 town meeting has spurred the Board of Selectmen to review how the town's ambulance receipts fund is being used. Selectmen will take it up at their Dec. 17 meeting, board chairman David Dunford said Thursday. The fund is a special reserve account for money the town is paid for ambulance services. It's usually about $600,000 a year and goes to offset the fire and rescue department's annual $2.5 million operating budget, said Town Administrator John Kelly. The issue arose at town meeting when the finance committee mistakenly reported that the fund had a zero balance and couldn't be used to pay for a new ambulance. The finance committee's error occurred when they incorrectly interpreted the fund's balance, on the heels of public remarks by the town administrator in September that the fund didn't have enough cash in it to pay for the ambulance in a lump sum, Finance Committee Chairwoman Gwen Holden Kelly said. "We did make an error," Holden Kelly said Thursday. "I apologized to the selectmen last week." The committee should have conveyed, instead, she said, the idea that the town didn't have enough cash in the fund to buy the ambulance outright. At the special town meeting voters agreed to borrow $270,000 to buy a new ambulance. The borrowing had already been approved on the May 20 ballot. Selectmen plan to borrow the $270,000 upfront and then pay the annual principal and interest from the ambulance receipts fund over five years, according to the town administrator and Dunford. Holden Kelly said the finance committee error brings up the need for a public discussion about the use of the ambulance receipts. "In recent years, more and more has been directed to other operating costs in the fire department," she said. The justification has been that the fire department is increasingly responding to rescue calls rather than fires, she said. A Nov. 11 town counsel opinion, sought by the Selectmen, determined that the town is spending money from the ambulance receipts fund in accordance with state law. About 80 percent of the department's calls are rescue calls, the town administrator said. He said he plans to recommend that the town set aside $100,000 each year from the ambulance fund toward the replacement of a new ambulance every three years, and that the town use $500,000 each year from the fund for operating expenses.

nov25 Orleans

Orleans seeks new approach on wastewater

After more than a decade of understanding that the town's waters are being choked by nitrogen pollution, and close to a decade hammering out a wastewater plan to solve the growing problem, voters shot down the plan - twice. Selectman Sims McGrath said that the selectmen, who had a split vote themselves on the plan that failed, spent a lot of time discussing what approach to take to get to a proposal that would win the support of the town, which has been divided over a traditional sewering system and non-traditional options such as natural methods, small-pipe solutions and other technologies. "We were all pretty much in the same place - we need to get something done. What is it?" McGrath said earlier this week. "The two failures at town meeting begged the question of what next." What came next was pushed strongly by Selectmen Chairman David Dunford and has brought together close to 30 folks from various groups - Orleans Chamber of Commerce, Orleans Water Alliance, Orleans Can, Orleans Conservation Trust - who in turn represent hundreds of members. "One of our main goals - and which I think we have accomplished - is to get people who are heavily invested to sit down and talk together," said Dunford, who joined McGrath in a discussion of the Orleans Water Quality Advisory Panel earlier this week. The panel, which includes a liaison from the state Department of Environmental Protection as well representatives from Eastham and Brewster, has sat around a table for a half a day seven times since August - about 30 hours, not including preparation - going over reams of documents, studies, and becoming relative experts on everything from permeable reactive barriers, to the difference between STEP and STEG systems and why it matters. And, in the coming months they are expected to come forward with at least a request for preliminary engineering funds for the first step in a plan to remove nitrogen - coming mainly from septic systems - from the town's waters. And behind that first step, a framework of future steps will have been built. Coupled with that request and comprehensive look at the town's needs will be financial breakdowns of what the costs are and how they will be funded. And, the intent is that everyone, who would have spent, collectively, more than 2,000 hours trying to solve the town's wastewater conundrum will vote as one. "I am optimistic," said Dunford with a chuckle. "I am no Pollyanna. There are people who disagree, but the general recognized need is that we need to come up with a solution."


nov25 Orleans

Chat with Orleans Fire and Police Chiefs

Do you have questions for either our Fire or Police Chief in Orleans? On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 the Orleans Citizens Forum will host a chat with Orleans' Fire and Rescue Chief Tony Pike and Police Chief Scott MacDonald in the Snow Library Craine Room, 67 Main Street, Orleans. This event will take place from 3:00 to 4:30 pm. This will be an outstanding way to meet both Chiefs, find out what's new in their departments and learn about our public safety services firsthand. Chief Tony Pike and Chief Scott MacDonald will bring you up to date about these important departments as well as answer any questions you may have. Chat with the Chiefs is FREE and open to everyone. Join us at the Snow Library on December 9, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. For more information, see our website at or contact us at

nov25 Orleans

Ambulance fund advice in Orleans

In a memo to selectmen, the finance committee offered some advice on how the ambulance fund could be managed, or its purpose clarified. Gwen Holden Kelly, chairman of the finance committee, said notwithstanding her committee's split vote to purchase a new ambulance, the seven finance committee members who voted on the article were unanimous in their support for the purchase of a new ambulance in the current fiscal year. She said the split vote reflected instead a concern that in recent years the use of these funds has been changed and a significant portion of ambulance receipts have been used to fund fire and rescue operating and capital costs - leaving insufficient funds to buy new ambulances, she wrote. Holden Kelly added the committee believes the selectmen should reevaluate whether the fund has outlived its purpose and should be eliminated with future ambulance receipts deposited into the town's general fund. Or, she wrote, if the board wishes to keep the ambulance fund in place, it may wish to earmark a sufficient amount of fund receipts for scheduled ambulance purchases and transfer all funds accumulated in a given fiscal year over and above what is needed to support scheduled ambulance purchases into the general fund. All other fire and rescue expenses then would be supported under general fund appropriations. "The finance committee believes that as long as an ambulance fund is in place, all ambulance purchases should be financed out of that fund unless and until the board of selectmen makes a decision to broaden the use of those funds within the constraints imposed by law and, if appropriate, that town voters have the opportunity to weigh in on that decision," she wrote. Earlier this month, in response to questions raised as to whether using ambulance funds to offset a portion of the fire department's budget was appropriate, selectmen had asked town counsel to look into whether spending the ambulance reserve fund on other fire department purposes was acceptable under statute. In an opinion issued this week, Town Counsel Michael Ford said it was. He listed the items paid for by monies - close to $2 million in three years - transferred from the account, which included everything from a generator to a camera/radio system to overtime and said those funds were transferred within the bounds of the law. He said a state department of revenue opinion says that the monies can be used for any "lawful" purpose voted by town meeting. Selectmen plan to discuss the matter further on Dec. 17.

nov25 Orleans

Orleans Historical Society bestows environmental preservation award

The Orleans Historical Society presented its 2014 "Award for Environmental Preservation" to Kris Ramsay, director of the Orleans Conservation Trust, in recognition of his strong commitment to, and leadership in, preserving the natural beauty and seaside character of the Town. "(Ramsey's) dedication to environmental preservation and our commitment to the town's history and culture go hand-in-hand," said Mark Carron, chairman of the society's board of directors, in a statement. "We share the same vision for Orleans as a truly special place, and we thank (Ramsey) for his tremendous accomplishments -- and for his partnership." Ramsay received the award during the historical society's annual meeting luncheon on Nov. 1 at the Orleans Waterfront Inn. The event was attended by nearly 80 members and guests. The society's museum and offices are located in an 1834 Meeting House on the corner of Main Street and River Road. Go to for more information.

nov25 Orleans-Brewster

High Winds Cause Over 400 Power Outages in Brewster and Orleans

High winds are considered the culprit of power outages this morning in Brewster and Orleans. About 400 homes lost power after a tree branch came down on wires on Route 6A, according to NSTAR Spokeswoman Rhiannon D'Angelo. Sporadic outages have been popping up across the Cape today as a result of the rain and winds.

nov25 Brewster

Brewster church starts rebuilding after 2012 arson

Exactly two years from the date of an arson fire that leveled a church on Route 6A, the Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Sunday to start rebuilding. The noon service will be at the site of the former church on Route 6A. The date is the two-year anniversary of the 3 a.m. fire that destroyed the 13,000-square-foot building in a few hours. "We're excited and ready to go," said Myron Heckman, the pastor of the 300-member church. The new building will be bigger and more fire-resistant, Heckman said. The first phase of the project will include an 18,000-square-foot sanctuary, office space, classrooms, kitchen and a lobby area. The church plans ultimately to add another 4,200 square feet to the sanctuary, but they are still raising funds for that portion. Viewed from Route 6A, the new church will look similar to the old one, Heckman said. The original was about 30 feet tall with a large window overlooking the road. Fiber cement board will replace the wooden shingles and steel studs will stand in for the wooden 2-by-4s of the old building, Heckman said. Construction should take about 18 months, he added. The church is serving as its own general contractor to allow the use of volunteer labor, since several members of the congregation have building experience. This church is affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, whose members travel to poorer parts of the globe to help build churches. Brewster resident Adam Finnegan, 30, was convicted of arson and sentenced in April to 2 1/2 years at the Barnstable County Correctional Facility, minus time served at Bridgewater State Hospital, where he was held for more than a year following his arrest on Nov 30. He will be on probation for 10 years. In his victim-impact statement in Barnstable Superior Court, Heckman invited Finnegan to join in the rebuilding, since Finnegan has had construction experience. William and Susan Finnegan, his parents, declined Monday to comment for this story. The Finnegans, who have said since the first day of their son's arrest that he suffered from mental illness since childhood, got to know members of the Bible Alliance Church as their son's court case moved through the system. Following sentencing, they and parishioners hugged, then went out to lunch together.

nov25 Chatham

Chatham selectmen: Volunteering shouldn't be a political campaign

The public shouldn't debate merits of volunteers, selectmen decided. "It's not a political campaign," said Selectman Tim Roper. The board decided to stay with its policy of not allowing public comment at selectmen's meetings when volunteers are appointed to committees. Selectman Seth Taylor had asked the board to allow comment in the future, particularly since a recent appointment garnered criticism that had to remain unvoiced. Late last month, selectmen had appointed Joel Rottner, a part-time resident who has a home near the fish pier, to the Aunt Lydia's Cove Committee instead of fisherman Peter Taylor. A few members of the audience were upset with the board's decision and wanted to say so, but Selectman Chairman Florence Seldin said she wasn't accepting public comment. At least one individual expressed a few choice words at the news. Taylor said allowing public comment would be in line with the board's policy of encouraging public engagement. The board disagreed. Selectman Sean Summers said the subcommittee interviews of candidates are open and people can comment. And sometimes those meetings can turn into interrogations of volunteers, which he didn't think was necessary. " I don't think the public is the appropriate place to be doing interviewing," he said. Seldin said the town had wonderful volunteers and had been served well over the years. She added she felt all of those who volunteered had the town's best interests at heart, and didn't feel that anyone should be disparaged. Resident Gloria Freeman disagreed. She said that the public often has information selectmen would benefit from knowing, and it doesn't have to be critical. Resident Norma Avellar said allowing public comment could turn appointments into a popularity contest of sorts with a particular candidate's family and friends arriving and singing his or her praises. Praise the candidate may not merit, she said. Although the board was standing pat on the policy, Summers did say the board should have a meeting to discuss whether part-time residents can serve on committees. Town meeting did pass a bylaw allowing that, but perhaps that needs to be revisited, he said.

Monday, November 24, 2014

nov24 Wellfleet-Eastham-Truro

Cape Cod Sea Turtle Rescues Smash All Time Record

Friday morning, the 21st, the 500th cold-stunned sea turtle of November 2014 was rescued from a windy, freezing Cape Cod Bay.

Sue Wieber Nourse Rescues 5 Lively Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles from Frigid Cape Cod Bay

Live Cold-Stunned Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle at Fisher Beach, Truro

Live Kemp's Ridley Rescued from Ryder Beach in Truro

Cold-Stunned Kemp's Ridley at Bound Brook Island, Wellfleet

Stranded Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle at Duck Harbor, Wellfleet

Cold-Stunned Kemp's Ridley Tossed Ashore by Cape Cod Bay Breakers

Kemp's Ridley Deposited on High Tide Wrack Line by Wind and Surf

Cold-Stunned Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle at Bound Brook Island, Wellfleet


nov24 Eastham

David Roth at First Encounter in Eastham on November 29th

David Roth, a full-time nationally touring singer/singwriter since 1988, moved to the Cape in 2000 with wife Tricia (a native of Eastham). His songs have found their way to Carnegie Hall, the United Nations, several Chicken Soup for the Soul books, the Kennedy Center, NASA's Space Shuttle "Atlantis", Peter, Paul, & Mary concerts (and a forthcoming PPM retrospective CD), the Kingston Trio, 12 of his own recordings,4 Positive Music Awards, the "Rise Up Singing" and "Rise Again" (sequel) songbooks, and countless venues in this and other countries (and now other WORLDS) for two and a half decades. David also created and hosts the Cape's Full Moon Open Mic (Brewster) and the Cape Cod Songwriters Retreat (Provincetown). Poignant to improbable, holistic to hilarious, the Chicago native and our Orleans neighbor is thrilled to return with friends Bruce Abbott (horns) and Lisa Brown (percussion) joining in this Thanksgiving weekend. Join us for a night to remember. Door is $20.00 for this show.

nov24 Truro

Multiple decks enhance modernist home

In the sea of cedar shingles, Truro stands out. So much so that a 49-page report was made in order to preserve the sometimes misunderstood mid-century modernism that was once prevalent on the Cape. This three-bedroom, three-bath home didn't make the report, but it's definitely in the modernism lane. The home is dissected into two sections by a tile-floor dining room. Two sets of sliding doors lie on either side of the room, and lead to the front and back decks. The front deck immediately draws the eye. The Azek deck curves around the entire front side of the home. There used to be a spiral staircase, but "spiral staircases don't agree with the elderly," realtor Jim Chudomel said. Instead a staircase cuts into the deck near the dining room. The back deck is smaller. The owners use it as their morning deck, and the front as their afternoon deck, depending on where the sun is positioned. The exterior of the home is almost exclusively barnboard. The two sections have identical roofs that slowly point up to the sky. Off the dining room is a carpeted living room. A freestanding brick wall is home to a fireplace. On the other side of the wall is the kitchen. It is compact but covers the basics with a range, fridge and dishwasher. The master suite and two other bedrooms are located upstairs. A set of sliders sits between the deck and the master. Downstairs is a den and an office, with a walkout. The home's angles mix nicely with the winding deck. It does have a '70s-esque style, with its many carpets, but that is something that could easily be changed. The home offers a chance to buy a piece of history that is slowly disappearing from Cape Cod.


nov24 Provincetown

Peake proposes state poet laureate post

House lawmakers could advance legislation in the lame-duck session giving the state an official wordsmith. On Friday afternoon, the House Committee on Ways and Means began polling on a Rep. Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown) and Rep. Denise Provost (D-Somerville) bill providing the framework for a poet laureate. The legislation (H 2999) would allow the governor to appoint a poet laureate to a two-year term. The Bay State's official poet would be tasked with raising "the consciousness of all commonwealth residents, especially school children, to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry." The bill was reported favorably by the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development last December. Before reaching the governor's desk the bill would need to pass both the House and Senate. Ways and Means members have until Monday at 10 a.m. to vote on the bill. The last local poet laureate was named in 2000 when Provincetown's Stanley Kunitz was named the nation's poet laureate, see here.

nov24 Orleans

Stranded dolphin rescued off Orleans flats

A dolphin was rescued this morning from where it had stranded near Skaket Beach. The common dolphin was about 4-5 feet long and had stranded on the flats just to the right of the beach. International Fund for Animal Welfare Marine Mammal Search and Rescue Team volunteer Valerie Magor responded to the report made to police shortly before 9:45 a.m. and was able to push the dolphin off the flats as the incoming tide rolled in. The dolphin swam away into Cape Cod Bay.

nov24 Orleans

Thanksgiving feat: Volunteers load up holiday food

Volunteers at the Lower Cape Outreach Council's annual drive-thru Thanksgiving giveaway distributed enough bags of food for over 700 Thanksgiving dinners. Bags full of turkeys, potatoes, vegetables, bread, cranberry sauce and stuffing filled the parking lot outside of St. Joan of Arc Church. The food was bought using donations from local businesses, residents and nonprofi t groups, according to a statement from the church. The St. Vincent De Paul Society provided three-day packs of food to help families make it to Thursday, the statement said.

nov24 Orleans

Driver escapes injury in Orleans crash

A car struck the guardrail and rolled on its side in Orleans around 3:45 a.m. The crash happened on the onramp from Route 6A to Route 6 westbound. The driver was able to get out of the vehicle and was treated and released at the scene. The crash is under investigation by Orleans and State Police.

nov24 Orleans

On this day in 1959: 120 year-old French Cable Company in Orleans died

On this day in 1959, the French Cable Station linking Cape Cod and Europe sent out its last message - "Have a happy Thanksgiving. Station closed." The 3,069-mile long cable was laid in 1879 from Brest, France to St. Pierre, Newfoundland and originally to a station in North Eastham near Nauset Beach Light before being moved to Orleans in 1891. Several years later, in 1898, the station conveyed the first news to the world of the sinking of the steamer Portland with no survivors in a major late autumn storm. The postcard at right shows the station as it appeared in 1905. The station also transmitted news to the nation in May 1927 that Charles Lindbergh had landed in Paris and become the first pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic. In May 1940, cable workers in Orleans learned that Brest had fallen to the Nazis after a brief message arrived - "Les Boches sont ici" - "The Germans are here." In 1971, a group of local business people bought the building, its equipment and land around it on Route 28 after the death of French leader Charles de Gaulle, who had resisted the sale ofFrench assets abroad. The following year, the building reopened as the French Cable Station Museum.


nov24 Chatham

Chatham fire station update

The town's owner's project manager, Rick Pomroy, told selectmen earlier this month the design process for the new fire station is "pretty much complete." He said potential bidders would get a heads-up this month about the project being available for bidding after the holidays. "It's a wonderful time to be bidding the project," he said, adding that bidding will start in January. Pomroy told the board he expects the contract to be awarded by the end of February. In the meantime, the old station on Depot Road has been demolished and the department has moved to its temporary headquarters by the transfer station. "Everything is working pretty well," said Fire Chief Michael Ambriscoe. "People are finding us."

nov24 Chatham

Cape's fishing industry looks to spotlight strange-sounding dogfish

Lifelong fisherman Doug Feeney recently built a new 32-foot boat. He named it after his new son, Noah. And Feeney had a new focus: dogfish. A Chatham resident, Feeney has seen firsthand how the decline of groundfish like cod has hindered the region's commercial fishing industry. But the abundance of dogfish, Feeney said, could give the industry the boost it needs. Feeney and his colleagues, along with the Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association are looking to re-brand dogfish, which has been snubbed by domestic consumers because of its appearance -- it is a shark and it looks like one -- and its name. Europeans have already embraced the white-meat fish: most of the dogfish caught today is exported. But the path to re-branding a food can be long and winding, so the cause will need all the help it can get. "We could treat this properly and have a good sustainable fishery with a lot of fish on the market for relatively inexpensive," Feeney said. Like generations before him, Feeney got into fishing when cod were abundant. But for reasons scientists are still trying to determine, the cod population has been declining over the past several years, much to the dismay of fishermen who have built their careers on harvesting Cape Cod's namesake fish. In August, NOAA reported that the cod population is dwindling more rapidly than previously thought. "I think we need to re-categorize the ocean," Feeney said. "Everything is edible." As groundfish resources declined, some fishermen turned to dogfish, which has been embraced in the United Kingdom for its quintessential dish, fish and chips. Between 1987 and 1996, dogfish harvests increased nearly 10-fold, according to NOAA, and by 1998, the dogfish stock had fallen below the minimum level determined to be sustainable. But by 2012, the stock was rebuilt - that year, the dogfish harvested in the Atlantic were valued at $5 million, according to NOAA. In 2013, 8,350 metric tons of dogfish were harvested. More than half - 4,579 metric tons - were exported, according to data from NOAA. "In the Greater Atlantic Region there is a seafood marketing steering committee with NOAA Fisheries representation that is discussing ways to promote abundant fish stocks like dogfish," said Katherine Brogan, a NOAA spokeswoman. According to data provided by the Food and Drug Administration, approximately 2,200 metric tons of dogfish have been exported so far this year, with a value of about $8 million. In Chatham, where Feeney is part of a co-op of about 30 fishermen, more than 4 million pounds of dogfish have been harvested this year since the start of the season in June, said Nancy Civetta, communications director for Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance. Most of the dogfish caught there are processed in New Bedford and then exported, Civetta said. One reason for dogfish's popularity in the UK might be the fact that it is known there by a more appetizing name: rock salmon. And in other regions where the fish is popular, the name has been changed. In France, for example, it's known as "saumonette," or little salmon. "I think we definitely need to work on the name," Feeney said. "I think the name might be a little bit of a hindrance." While renaming a fish can lead to positive outcomes - just look at Patagonian toothfish, which is sold under the name Chilean sea bass in the U.S. - doing so can be a big hurdle, Civetta said. "You have to meet a bunch of different criteria with the FDA," Civetta said. She said the alliance is looking into the FDA approval process to see if dogfish meets its criteria. "You can't deceive consumers, nor does anybody want to," Civetta said. "We're doing our due diligence." Meanwhile, the alliance is researching whether institutional buyers would be interested in dogfish. Perhaps mass producing the fish and then getting it to purveyors would create a sort of trickle-down effect, Civetta said. But the alliance is also trying to create consumer awareness. Right now, dogfish that were caught in Chatham are being processed in New Bedford and delivered to the Family Pantry of Cape Cod as part of the alliance's "Fish for Families" project. And its monthly "Meet the Fleet" event, which brings together local fishermen and chefs to talk about seasonal, local seafood, will focus on dogfish Dec. 3, hosted by Chatham fisherman Luther Bates and chef Jonathan Haffmans of Vers. "I see no reason why dogfish couldn't be the fish of choice on Cape Cod," Civetta said. "It's local, it's sustainable, it holds up really well frying." Local chef Toby Hill, who has worked with dogfish, agrees. "It's an awesome fish. I like it a lot," Hill said. He recommends either beer battering and frying dogfish or using it as one would use tuna fish in a mayonnaise-based salad. A classically trained chef with nearly 20 years of experience, Hill is familiar with a variety of fish that, for whatever reason, do not sell well in the U.S. despite their popularity abroad. "I've been trying over and over to push it and market it," said Hill. He said he sees how dogfish has become a necessity to local fishermen who have dwindling options. Like Hill, Jeremiah Reardon, executive chef of Brewster Fish House, is a champion of local food. He said he would be open to having dogfish on the menu, though he is weary of its shelf-life, which is relatively short, like all fish in the shark family. Still, Reardon said he tries to prepare all seafood as soon as possible, so dogfish would be no exception. "The fresher the better on anything," Reardon said. "With shark family fish, as soon as it comes out the water it's going to be delicious." Though dogfish is relatively unknown to American consumers, Reardon sees no reason why it couldn't become more accessible. "Forty or fifty years ago, bluefin tuna was inaccessible," Reardon said, "so perceptions can change." For local fishermen like Feeney, the future of the industry may hinge on these perceptions. "With the decline in our ground fish stocks, it put a lot of people out of business," Feeney said. The people who got put out of business are fishing again in small boats. It's brought a lot of jobs back. It's sort of alive again down at the fish pier."


Energy Sources at Ends of Lines Could Benefit Everyone

Boothbay, Maine has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England: you could make the whole grid stronger. Boothbay Harbor is a quaint village on the coast of Maine, where lobster boats and whale watches come and go, and rigging clinks against the masts of sailboats. It's a scene that could just as easily be found in Provincetown or Vineyard Haven. New England is facing an energy crisis, and the problem largely stems from the region's reliance on natural gas. But towns like these - peninsulas, islands, and others at the ends of transmission lines - face the added challenge of getting electricity where it's needed, when it's needed, with a limited number of transmission lines to do the job. It's getting harder and harder to do reliably.
Boothbay Harbor, Maine, has a message for end-of-the-line towns around New England.
Historically, Maine has been what's known as a winter-peaking state, meaning the highest demand for electricity happened on cold, winter nights. Not anymore. Since 2004, peak demand has come on hot summer afternoons. The state's energy flow is also peakier - or less constant - than it used to be. And it's not just Maine. Data from the Energy Information Administration indicates that the disparity between peak and off-peak energy usage in New England has been steadily growing over the past twenty years. In a region renowned for cool ocean breezes and moderate summer weather, there's a surprising culprit for these shifts: air conditioners. "The air conditioner is now in all the office buildings, it's now in most of the commercial locations," says environmental lawyer Steve Hinchman. "You can't go into a store that isn't air conditioned."
Steve Hinchman is general counsel for Grid Solar, the company helping Boothbay meet its peak energy needs.
And it's not just the supermarkets and big box stores. During peak tourist season, many of Boothbay's boutiques and galleries have their doors wide open, lights on, and air conditioners going full blast. That's particularly worrisome for the Boothbay region, because there is just one high power transmission line that feeds the three towns at the end of the peninsula. Maine's Public Utilities Commission projects that the line will soon be overloaded at times of peak demand. Officials considered adding another transmission line. At an estimated $18 million, it wasn't going to be cheap. And it was likely to be contentious as well. "There's no empty land to bring it down," explains Hinchman. "It would have required eminent domain and battles with lots of different land owners who don't want to see power lines in their view of the spectacular Maine coast." Instead, Grid Solar - the company where Hinchman is currently general counsel - stepped in with a less expensive option. The plan is to reduce the size of those summer afternoon peaks and then make up any remaining shortages with local sources of electricity. "It's mountain-top removal, if you will," jokes Hinchman. "You're lowering the peak, eliminating the peak that requires you invest millions and millions of dollars in new transmission to serve peak loads that only occur five to thirty five hours a year."
Solar panels on the Boothbay Department of Public Works building.
Since air conditioners are the source of the problematic peaks, they're a logical place to start whittling them down. Using state funds, Grid Solar paid a company called Ice Energy to replace air conditioners at nearly three dozen area businesses with what are essentially industrial-sized ice makers. An Ice Bear looks like a large air conditioner - a big metal box with an intake fan. But there's no energy-intensive condenser inside, just a block of ice. When cooling is needed, a fan blows air over the ice and into the building. It takes less energy to make the ice, plus it's made at night, when ambient temperatures are lower and energy demand is less. Such load shifting helps smooth out the peaks and troughs in energy demand. But, by itself, it's not enough to solve all the region's electricity problems. The Public Utilities Commission estimates Boothbay needs to generate 2 megawatts of electricity in order to avoid line failure during periods of peak demand. So, Grid Solar put out a call for proposals and funded a range of projects, including a generator, a battery, and nineteen solar installations. There's a 25 kilowatt solar system on the Town of Boothbay Public Works building, and more panels on the recycling center next door. The fire station, the YMCA, several hotels downtown, and some private homeowners are also in on the project. It's a mish-mash of sizes and locations, but it's not haphazard. "Electricity follows the path of least resistance," explains Hinchman, as he looks at the solar panels on one municipal building. "It will fill the load on this building, and then the excess will be exported onto the grid. And it will travel on the local [wires] to the next building on the street, and fill the load, and then to the next building on the street." And so on, and so forth. Because of the way electricity flows, Hinchman says they carefully placed solar panels near each of the three substations serving the Boothbay region. That way, the locally generated electricity pushes back evenly against the flow of electrons coming down the transmission line, freeing up power for towns upstream. It's like starting those summer afternoons with a glass half-full, and Hinchman says it makes the entire grid more resilient. "The more you spread your distributed resources out to the end of the line," says Hinchman, "the higher the benefit to the system." Solar is well-suited for meeting summer spikes in power usage, and comes with the added advantage of providing free electricity throughout the year - not just during those few dozen hours of highest demand. But, just in case the solar panels aren't enough to meet Boothbay's peak needs, there's a new diesel generator in the Industrial Park. Grid Solar is also working on installing a lead-acid battery that could charge at night and supply a few hours of electricity in the afternoon. And Hinchman says they can always add something else, if the need arises.



What's On This Electric Bill, Anyway?

Utility company officials don't usually make house calls. But NStar spokesperson Michael Durand agreed to sit down with an NStar customer and talk about her electric bill. So we introduced Durand to 72-year-old Barbara Meehan of Wareham. For her part, Meehan doesn't use much electricity. She lives alone, she religiously shuts off lights, and she doesn't use air conditioners. Come wintertime, she says she keeps the thermostat as low as she can stand it. "It's just me," she said. "It's basically a family home, two bedrooms, a bathroom, a half-basement, the kitchen, the living room." Meehan also doesn't pay much attention to her electric bill -- outside of paying it each month. But on this two-sided document are categories of information that go a long way towards explaining why the region's electricity rates are going up. And about some of the efforts underway to prevent those prices from remaining high. "I guess my question is -- not that I ever question my bill, I just pay it -- but the difference between delivery charge and generation charge? What's what?" she asked. "That's a very good question," Durand said. "And it's one that we find there's still a considerable amount of confusion and misunderstanding." It's also a question that goes directly to why electricity rates are going up. As Durand explains, delivery services are what utilities such as NStar and National Grid charge for using its infrastructure -- the equipment out on the street and beyond. There's no price increase coming there. It's the generation charge, sometimes called the supply rate -- the actual cost of the electricity itself -- that's going up between 29 and 37 percent for the average customers. On Cape Cod, that electricity typically is purchased by the Cape Light Compact, and then distributed by NSTAR. As for pricing, it varies. In recent months, CLC says its prices have been lower than NStar's. But at other times, they've been substantially higher. "The price of natural gas has dropped considerably over the last few years," Durand said, "because of new supplies domestically that we're able to access. Because of that, the generating companies are relying more and more on natural gas because it is more efficient and inexpensive fuel. So it generally will keep the price of electricity down." But that's not what's happening. Yes, more power plants are relying on natural gas for fuel. But electricity prices are going up this year, and industry experts say they'll likely stay high well into 2017. "Because of that increased reliance, the capacity of the existing pipelines in the region, which are the big pipes that carry the gas into New England, has not kept up with the need for the gas at the generator," Durand said. "So even though gas is still plentiful and inexpensive in the country, getting it into our region has become an issue for the electricity generators. And the price is starting to reflect that." "My neighbor just recently told me that this winter," Meehan said, "supposedly electricity is going to go up $30 a month. Is that true?" It's unlikely Meehan will see a $30 increase per month, because with no AC, no dishwasher, and just her at home, she uses significantly less electricity than the average household. Last month, her bill was just under $45 dollars. "Our average customer uses about 500 kilowatt-hours," Durand said. "I noticed quickly that you use about 200, so you're doing extremely well." "Oh, okay," she said. Meehan wants to know about the stuff she uses in her house. For example, is it bad she keeps the television on sometimes for company? "I'm thinking probably in terms of where I live alone," she said, "my next door neighbor lives alone, so we probably are on the computer a fairly decent amount of time. And the TV is probably on more. And I just wondered if those particular things use a lot or not?" "A good rule of thumb is the appliances that use the most electricity are the ones that you are going to be heating or cooling with," Durand said. "So, your refrigerator. Pay attention to that. Make sure it's full, even if it's full of water. Make sure it's full." Durand tells Meehan about things like phantom power, when plugged-in phone chargers, gadgets and appliances can draw electricity from the grid unnecessarily. Whether or not she shuts off her computer or television, he says, is a personal choice. But Meehan is interested in that comment about the water in the refrigerator. "You said something about keeping the refrigerator full," she said. "Explain that to me." "What you're doing with a full refrigerator is you're keeping the items inside it cold," Durand said. "What you're doing with an empty refrigerator is you're keeping the air inside your refrigerator cold. So when you open the door, the air is going to escape, the cold items don't. So it's something that if you have it full, you can open the door and understand that you're not going to be losing as much cold out of that refrigerator because everything in it is kept at that temperature." So what can Meehan do to save even more money on electricity? Durand turns over her electric bill and points to a charge that everyone pays -- residents and businesses -- it goes towards energy efficiency programs. Energy experts say improving efficiency across the region is key to keeping prices down. "If you look at the breakdown of what's referred to as delivery services on your bill, the very last one is energy conservation," he said. "It's based on the kilowatt hours that you use. So in this case, it's costing Barb about 51 cents per month." With that charge, Meehan already has paid for an energy expert to come to her home and evaluate its efficiency. She just has to call and schedule it. They'll go through the house, and if there's work that needs to be done -- like installing new insulation, there are rebates available to help pay for the work. They'll also give her free LED lightbulbs and digital thermostats, if she needs them. "I really would like to have the efficiency thing," she said. "I just bought one of the energy efficiency bulbs. The problem there is they're so expensive. So its kind of like, 'Okay, I can buy one every couple weeks, so I can have them for the whole house.'" "There's a common saying that if you buy an LED bulb when a baby is born, you'll have that same bulb when the baby goes to college," Durand said. "Oh, my god! But if they last that long, it's worth it," Meehan said. In the 45 minutes looking at her bill with Durand, Meehan says she learned a lot. She didn't know she could pay a little bit more to get a percentage of her energy from renewable sources. She also didn't know that she can be placed on a monthly budget plan, or that some lower income people qualify for a roughly 25 percent discount. She's also eager to get that home efficiency audit done, because she really wants to get her hands on those LED light bulbs.


Owning a second home

Daydreaming of owning a second, seasonal home? A mountainside vacation house with a fireplace or two, ski-in access and powdery slopes nearby or perhaps lakefront property with front porch and a sweeping view of the sunlight on the water? Sounds enticing, but fulfilling this dream takes attention to detail and a firm vision of your long-term goals. Two financial factors may help bring your daydreams closer to reality: the 80-year long-term stock market rise (despite some slides) and interest rates that remain historically low (past performance is no guarantee of future results). Yet in addition to housing costs and interest rates (not to mention your lifestyle preferences, the home's location and conditions of the real estate market), you should take many considerations into account before purchasing a second home. If the factors add up right for you now, owning a vacation home may bring years of happiness. But if the time isn't right, re-evaluate your long-term goals to see if you can buy this home in the future -- and avoid a ton of hassles today. Issues to explore: Location, location, location: Heeding the first rule in any real estate transaction, think about how far you wish to travel from your primary residence or business (and the travel costs involved), the natural or recreational opportunities, economic history and current conditions of the new region and state and property taxes. Financial preparedness: Ensure that the new home won't compromise or threaten your long-term financial goals. If you have a chronic illness or medical needs, for example, you want your income, assets and savings to cover those costs first. Your financial adviser may be able to help assess your preparedness and guide your strategy to buy a second home while keeping your long-term goals on track. Count all costs: The true cost of owning a vacation home goes beyond the purchase price and mortgage interest rate (if you choose to obtain a loan.) Maintenance, utilities, property and state taxes, prices of seasonal activities, weather concerns and insurance all change constantly and add up quickly. Consult with a real estate agent as well as with a tax adviser as you evaluate these variables. Investment, rental property, legacy or fun house: If interested in this property purely for investment, think about improvements the home may require, the availability of skilled help in the locale and the economic history and vitality of the community. Also consider how long you want to -- or must -- retain the property to get a reasonable return on investment. Tax implications arise if you hope to derive income from renting your vacation home (a tax adviser can enumerate them). Renting your property may force you to incur some additional expenses -- repairs of tenants' damage, for example. If you hope to simply treasure time at a second home -- escape for solitude, recreation or making memories -- the new place can potentially turn into your retirement home. Is that attractive to you? Do you hope one day to make your vacation home a legacy to be handed down for generations or is your interest more short-term?


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