A HISTORY OF WESTPORT
|2||Brief Review of History of Westport prior to 1900||2|
|3||Governmental Structure in 1900 and 1995||6|
|4||Persons who have Served the Town and Present Government||10|
Abbreviated Chronological Review of Events which have Shaped the Town’s Evolution and the Life of Its Citizens During the 1900’s
Building Inspector, Growth of Dwelling Units and Population During the 1900’s
|7||Nationality Representations During the 1900’s||49|
|8||Farming Activities During the Century||51|
|9||Growth Pattern During the 1900’s||54|
|10||Lifestyle Changes During the 1900’s||55|
|12||Effect of Inflation on Town Budget||59|
Brief Description of the Duties of Town Offices and Evolution During the 1900’s
Workings of the Board of Selectmen During the 1900’s
|13B||Evolution of the Police Department||67|
Brief Historical Review of Westport’s School System During the 1900’s
|13E||The Westport Board of Health||81|
|13F||Abbreviated History of the Shellfish Department||86|
|13G||Highway Department Evolution During the 1900’s||90|
|13H||Review of the Smaller Offices; Duties, Contributions and Lifespans||92|
|14||Cost of Services During the Century||96|
Summary of Westport Statistics at the End of the Century
Synopsis of the Major Issues and Problems Facing Westport at the End of the Century
SECTION NO.1 - HISTORICAL REVIEW
BIBLIOGRAPHY Information for this booklet was largely obtained from a review of town reports from 1879 to the present. Valuable information was also obtained from the following list of publications. This listing is not represented as complete, there are other interesting and informative publications. A complete listing and availability can be obtained from the Westport Historical Commission.
Westport Book of Records, No. 1, Part One 1787-1810, By Westport Historical Commission, 1991.
Westport Book of Records, No. 1, Part Two 1811-1827, By Westport Historical Commission, 1991.
Wesporters and the Civil War, Andrew C. Macomber and Richard M. Wertz.
Bristol County, Atlas of Surveys, 1895. Shows the exact location and owner of each household and gives a brief history of its most prominent citizens.
Old Home Week at the Head of Westport, Massachusetts, August 23-28, 1908.
The Village of Westport Point, Massachusetts, Katherine Stanley Hall and Mary Haunch Sowle, 1914.
Westport Bicentennial Ball, May 30, 1987., Westport Bicentennial Committee.
The Head of Westport, Westport Historical Commission, 1987-1988.
The Narrows, Carmen J. Maiocco, 1993.
Massachusetts Selectmen’s Handbook. Current ed.
SECTION NO.2 - BRIEF REVIEW OF HISTORY OF WESTPORT PRIOR TO 1900
The first white settler to this area was Richard Sisson. His homestead was situated in the area now known as the Head of Westport on an ancient Indian and game trail which connected the areas now known as New Bedford and Stonebridge in Tiverton, RI.
The Westport area was designated as a part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Centers of activity developed; for manufacturing and milling at the Head of Westport, using water power, and fishing at the point. Farming spread out over the land causing much of it to be cleared.
On July 2, 1787 the town was incorporated as a separate entity from Dartmouth and the name WESTPORT was adopted to designate it as the more westerly part on the Massachusetts coast. EASTPORT, now in Maine, being the most easterly port. The 1787 population was about 2400.
Other town centers grew during the 1800’s serviced by an increasing road network and other amenities. The year 1900 found Westport well settled with villages at the Narrows, Head of Westport, Central Village, Westport Factory and Westport Point. Summer colonies developed at East Beach and others on Horseneck and at the Harbor. Public transportation was eased by the Point Bridge and a primitive road network approximating that of today. There was a railroad which is still in existence but little used, as well as an electric trolley line along the present course of Route 6. The town was also serviced by a stage line which ran between the Point and what is now the Lincoln Park area.
The following is a brief synopsis of important events which transpired from the beginning of Westport’s settlement until 1900. Refer to the bibliography for more extensive information.
1787 - 1810
Town government was by men only. There were many office holders. Voters were limited to wage earners and/or estate holders.
Highway maintenance was a form of redistributing income.
Caring for poor and elderly was considered a necessity
First meeting August 20, 1787 at William Gifford dwelling.
Moderator William Almy, Town Clerk Abner Brownell, William Almy, Richard Kirby, Edward Borden selectmen for one year, Richard Kirby Assessor, Thomas Tripp, Stephen Cornell, and Pardon Brownell Fence Viewers (arbitrators of boundary disputes), Abner Brownell Treasurer, Stephen Davis and Bajonas Devol Surveyors of Lumber, Thomas Tripp and Stephen Cornell Field Drivers, Nathaniel Kirby, Pound Keeper, Benjamin Brownell Sealer of Weights and Measures, Benjamin Cory Sealer of Leather, Abner Brownell Warden, Caleb Earle, Edward Boomer Tithingmen, Stephen Davis and Bajonas Devol Measurers of Wood, Geo. Tripp 2nd, William Almy Hog Reeves, 12 persons surveyors of highways, 3 persons (one lawyer) committed to settle with New Bedford and Dartmouth for incorporation according to acts of General Court. A budget of 50 pounds L.M. was voted for poor support and other expenses, 3 persons constables. Collector’s, salary 3% of collections.
A town house was approved and erected at Ichabod Potter’s land.
No swimming in rivers was allowed during October and November.
Lemuel Bailey made the Jury Box, still in use today.
There were 116 voters at town meeting.
Overseers for town landings were instituted.
One schoolhouse was built on George Brightman’s land
Treasurer received 2½% salary for receipt and payment amounts.
Constable and Collector of rates received 5% salary on collections.
The town was fined for not sending representative to Boston General Court.
A committee appointed to act as auditors found discrepancies in tax collectors returns to the Treasurer
Oyster fishing at present Hix bridge area was controlled.
Overseers were appointed to care for paupers and poor.
Taxes were due 1st day of March.
Survey of Head landing, part of it sold.
Store allowed on town landing, town retains land ownership
Powder and balls purchased for the town.
Hicks bridge mentioned and Hicks bridge landing Building allowed on landing, town retains land ownership.
Acceptance of survey of drift way from highway to Tiverton line.
Selectmen dispose of the poor by assigning them to persons who will keep them at the cheaper rate.
Expense of corporation from 87 - 94: 557 pounds.
Head bridge construction approved.
Hix bridge to County Road (now Drift Road) layout accepted.
Dollars now being mentioned as well as pounds L1:19:6=$6.58
Highway budget $600.00 assessed on polls, real and personal estates list of persons and sums due from assessors to each surveyor in his district. Voted 17¢ for plow or cart/day, 50¢ for days work.
Town taxation $800.00.
Town school master hired.
Division Road and Hixbridge Road accepted.
School districts established
No meat cattle or horses to run at large on the Horseneck.
$120.00 voted for school support.
Tree planting within road layouts regulated.
Surveyor of lumber shingles and clapboards and corder and measurer of wood and culler of hoops and staves was established.
General Court prohibited seining of fish and catching of oysters in the Rivers.
(It looks like the fisheries were in trouble 200 years ago.)
Consideration to limit number of grog houses.
Benjamin Brownell 2nd was found to be a "deficient tax collector."
He will be forced to pay or be sued.
He was imprisoned by virtue of town vote to prosecute.
1809 Male teachers get twice what female teachers do.
1810 Budget $250 for schools, $800 highways $800 poor.
1824 Committee authorized to purchase a farm for support of paupers (present poor farm).
1825 Town sued for not having schools agreeable to law. 29 surveyors of highways (each has a district and budget) Town budget $3000. and $1000 for highways. Tax collector’s salary 1½ % on collections.
1826 Town meeting ordered NO oysters taken in ensuing years.
1850 Population 2795, 467 farmers, 199 sailors. There were 34 trades and professions in town.
1864 Town school committee formed to replace individual districts.
1871 Town buys Hixbridge, no more tolls.
1870’s Railroad across North Westport
1876 Start of Macomber Turnip development
1880’s, 1890’s Tourism and summer residents increasing.
1890 2599 residents, 1922 at Westport Factory 392 at North Westport, 172 at Westport Point and 91 at Central Village.
1893 Point Bridge built.
1894 Trolley service begins.
1900 Population 2900.
1877 Centennial year saw town appropriations of $13,500 with $2500 dedicated to paupers in and out of almshouse. Selectmen were Overseers of the Poor.
SECTION NO. 3 - GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE IN 1900 AND 1995
The differences which were enacted during this Century are in bold letters.
- TOWN MEETING
- ELECTED OFFICIALS
· Town Clerk (1)
· Treasurer and Collector of taxes, to become separate offices in 1912
· Selectmen (3)
· Board of Health (3), 1st election 1903.
· Assessors (3)
· Overseers of the Poor (3), terminated during sixties.
· School committee (3), now (5)
· Regional school committee (1)
· Fish commissioners (3)
· Constables (3), now (2)
· Trustees of the Free Public Library (6)
· Registrars of Votes (3) plus town clerk
· Moderator (1) appoints finance committee
· Housing authority (5)
· Highway surveyor (1)
· Planning Board (5)
· Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds (3)
· Landing Commissioners (4)
- APPOINTED OFFICIALS
· Single Highway Surveyor, by Selectmen, now elected (1)
· Superintendent of Schools, by School Committee
· Constables (6), by Selectmen, now (3)
· Fence Viewers (3), by Selectmen
· Landing Commissioners (5), by Selectmen, now elected
· Auditors (2), by Selectmen, (1) Town Accountant
· Tree Warden (1), by Selectmen, terminated 1980.
· Point Bridge Draw Tender (1) by selectmen, terminated
· Superintendent of Beech Grove Cemetery (1), by Selectmen, now Cemetery Superintendent
· Inspector of Animals (2), by Selectmen, by Board of Health
· Sealer of Weights and Measures (1) by Selectmen
· Surveyors of Lumber and Measurers of Wood and Bark (4), by Selectmen, terminated
· Forest Fire Warden (1), by Selectmen, Fire Department
· School Enrollment Officer (1), by School Committee, terminated
· Truant Officer(1), by School Committee, terminated
· Superintendent of Town Farm (1), by Selectmen, terminated
· Librarian of Free Public Library (1), by Selectmen, now full time, by library trustees
· Janitor of Town Hall (1), by Selectmen
Annual Town Meeting; 2nd Monday in March
Board meetings; last Saturday afternoon of each month, now Monday evenings
Public Library; open every Saturday evening for two hours, at Town Hall. Now a separate building, offering a wide variety of services and open six days per week.
NOTABLE CHANGES WERE:
1. There were (3) women in government in 1900. In 1993 (13) women were elected and 80 were appointed to various committees.
2. In 1900 the Selectmen appointed a few persons in contrast to 1993 when the Board appointed 357 persons to 36 different Committees, Boards and Commissions. In effect, transferring much of the executive and administrative control of town affairs to appointed (rather than elected) officials.
GROUPING THE TOWN’S GOVERNMENTAL STRUCTURE BY BASIC FUNCTIONS: (BOLD PRINT SHOWS 1995 STATUS)
A. Board of Selectmen, 36 appointed Committees, 357 appointments, Administrative Assistant.
B. Town Clerk
C. Registrars, now appointed by Selectmen (3), Town Clerk is also registrar.
D. Moderator, appoints finance Committee, elected
E. Planning Board, elected
F. Board of Appeals (appointed by Selectmen)
G. Town Counsel
A. Tax Collector
D. Auditors, now Accountant appointed by Selectmen
E. Finance Committee, appointed by Moderator
3. Protection of Citizens and Law Enforcement
A. Constables (appointed by Selectmen), now Police Department (appointed by Selectmen)
B. Forest Fire Warden, now Fire Department (Chief appointed by Selectmen)
C. Constables elected, now (3) constables also appointed by Selectmen
D. Landing Commissioners, now elected
E. Fish Commissioners, elected
F. Fence Viewers, appointed by Selectmen
G. Sealer of Weights and Measures, appointed by Selectmen
H. Surveyors of Lumber and Measurers of Wood and Bark (4) appointed by Selectmen, now terminated
I. Pound Keeper, now Dog Officer, by Selectmen
J. Inspector of Animals by Board of Health
K. Board of Health, started 1903. Now appoints Nursing Department
L. Shellfish Warden and Department, by Selectmen
M Wharfinger, appointed by Selectmen
N. Building Inspector, appointed by Selectmen
O. Board of Appeals, appointed by Selectmen
4. Citizens Welfare
A. Overseers of the Poor and Board of Public Welfare, now a State administered function
B. Highway Surveyor
C. Superintendent of Town Farm (Selectmen appointed) now house and land rented separately
D. Draw Tender of Point Bridge (Selectmen appointed), terminated
E. Cemetery Superintendent, Selectmen appointed
F. Housing authority, elected
G. Council on Aging, appointed by Selectmen
A. School Committee (3) appoints Superintendent of Schools, now (5)
B. Enrollment Officer, terminated
C. Truant Officer (appointed by Committee), Terminated
D. Regional School Committee, elected
SECTION NO. 4
PERSONS WHO HAVE SERVED THE TOWN AND PRESENT GOVERNMENT
Thousands of persons have dedicated time to town services during the last century. Administrative functions include elective, appointed and civic bodies. This combination promotes adequate services and helps to insure administrative consensus and promotes the well being of townspeople.
The impracticality of listing everyone who has served necessitated limiting recognition to those who served more than three terms (9 years) or ten years. Ten years can be considered an appreciable portion of someone’s adult life and is certainly worthy of recognition.
Listing of Town Officials in 1900
Town Clerk............................. Edward L. Macomber
Tax Collector.......................... John C. Macomber
Selectmen................................ Andrew H. Sowle
George E. Hardy
Albert S. Sherman
Assessors................................ Peleg S. Sanford Jr.
Albert D. Manchester
Overseers of the Poor.............. Charles R. Tallman
Johnathon B. Wicks
James A. Gifford
School Committee................... Augustus R. Wood
Annie E. Sherman
John W. Gifford
Single Highway Surveyor......... Peleg S. Sanford Jr.
Fish Commissioners................. Richard S. Gifford
Lafayette L. Gifford
Henry B. Tripp
Trustees of Free Public Library
............................................... John C. Taylor
William H. Pettey
Samuel H. Macomber
Edward L. Macomber
Mary E. Taylor
Addie E. Sowle
Constables.............................. Daniel M. Sanford
Lafayette L. Gifford
Charles H. Reynolds
Landing................................... C. Edward
George A. Tripp
Fence Viewers........................ Samuel A. Peckham
Isaac D. Earle
George F. Lawton
Auditors.................................. Cortez Allen
Henry A. Allen
Draw Tender........................... Barton B. Manchester (deceased)
William P. Sowles
Superintendent Beech Grove Cemetery
.............................................. Joseph T. Lawton
Sealer of Weights & Measures Preserved
Surveyors of Lumber and Measurers of Wood and Bark Thomas E. Borden
Peleg S. Sanford Jr.
Arthur M. Reed
Velator E. Macomber
Albert F. King
Isaac D. Earle
Lysander F. Howland
Sylvester C. Manley
Field Drivers............................ Welcome S. Borden
George P. Brownell
Pound Keeper......................... William O’Brien
Inspector of Animals & Provisions
............................................... Eli Handy
George A. Tripp
Forest Fire Warden................. Jacob Cornell
Lysander W. White
Eli W. Blossom
Registrars................................ Edward L. Macomber (T.C.)
Charles R. Wood
Zelotes L. Almy (deceased)
Edward M. Boyer
Harry L. Potter
Enrollment Officer.................... Annie E. Sherman
Truant Officers........................ Daniel M. Sanford
Lafayete L. Gifford
Charles H. Reynolds
Superintendent of Town Farm
............................................... Donald A. King
Listing of Long Term Selectmen during this Century.
(Note: Some terms were not served concurrently)
NAME # TERMS YEAR STARTED
Albert F. King 3 1905
Frank R. Slocum 7 1910
(a descendant of Joshua Slocum of “Spray” fame)
George W. Russell 13 1912
Norman Kirby 3 1952
John Smith 11 1925
J. Douglas Borden 3 1943
Carlton A. Lees 3 1958
Alford Dyson 3 1963
Charles R. Costa 4 1971
Richard P. Desjardins 3 1978
George T. Leach Jr. 3 1983
In total 43 persons have been selectmen. Two women, Phyllis G. Bernier 1975, Ann Chandanais 1983.
Long Term Town Clerks
There have been five (5) Town Clerks
Edward L. Macomber 17 1900
Elmer B. Manchester (B) 7 1951
Edna Tripp 1 1974
Althea M. Manchester (B’s wife) 4 1978
Long Term Tax Collectors
Charles H. Gifford 3 1916
Albert C. Wood 7 1943
Pauline Raposa (still in office) 5 1978
There has been a total of 13 tax collectors
Long Term Treasurers
Charles H. Gifford 3 1919
Alexander Walsh 10 1936
Eileen W. Martin 8 1965
There were 9 treasurers
Long Term Assessors
Albert F. King 7 1901
Frank R. Slocum 13 1908
J. Douglas Borden 10 1941
Russell T. Hart 3 1958
Arthur V. Tripp 4 1927
Oscar Palmer 6 1943
George R. Medeiros 9 1968
John McDermott (still in office) 7 1974
Lido Jerome 4 1981
A total of 27 have served as assessors
Long Term School Committee members
Philip Manchester 4 1940
Alford Dyson 3 1953
Augustus R. Wood 4 1900
Loren W. Park 4 1922
Charles T. Gifford 7 1931
George K. Dean 4 1940
Roger M. Acheson 8 1940
Matthew W. Kirby 8
Forty-eight persons have served on the school committee
Long Term Fish Commissioners
Charles H. Hitt 9 1919
Arthur J. Manchester 8 1915
John H. Ellen 5 1924
Josiah A. Bowes Jr. 4 1940
Edward T. Earle 12 1958
Willard T. Buhl 5 1959
Kenneth E. Wood 3 1966
Daniel Sullivan 4 1981
Eighteen persons have served as Fish Commissioners
Long Term Library Trustees
Augustus R. Wood 6 1902
Nason R. Macomber 16 1906
John W. Gifford 5 1900
Frederick C. Tripp 6 1907
James Walsh 3 1966
Kate W. Tallman 4 1906
Abram J. Potter 13 1915
Ada S. Macomber 11 1922
Louise A. Freeman 4 1923
Ann C. Gifford 7 1933
Dorothy W. Smith 12 1954
Audrey L. Tripp 6 1940
Allen M. Shorey Jr. 6 1959
Harriet W. Barker 3 1966
Henry J. Sampson 3 1960
Joan E. Pratt 3 1967
Frances Kirkaldy 9 1976
Octave “Ozzie” Pelletier 3 1977
Edwina Cronin 3 1984
Twenty-six have served as Library Trustees
Long Term Landing Commissioners
George W. Russell 9 1907
Robert A. Gifford 3 1924
Samuel L. Boan 4 1926
George A. Tripp 7 1900
Arthur Denault 10 1954
Edward T. Earle 3 1956
Herbert G. Hadfield 8 1961
Joseph Botelho 9 1967
There have been 15 Landing Commissioners
Long Term Highway Surveyors
Peleg S. Sanford Jr. 3 1900
Robert A. Gifford 3 1909
Charles A. Haskell 8 1912
Elton C. Tripp 5 1938
Frederick Cambra 3 1960
Russell T. Hart 7 1971
Ten persons have served as Highway Surveyor.
Long Term Overseers of the Poor and Board of Public Welfare
Robert A. Gifford 3 1901
John A. Gifford 7 1906
John H. Allen 3 1914
Samuel L. Boan 15 1914
Normand Forand 4 1954
Nine persons have served on these committees.
Long Term Registrars of Voters
Edward L. Macomber 18 1900
Oscar H. Palmer 16 1906
George E. Hardy 3 1906
Lysander W. Howland 3 1910
Leslie J. Tripp 10 1928
Elmer B. Manchester 7 1951
Herman L. Coggeshall 3 1954
Twenty-four persons have served as Registrars.
Many persons have served in multiple positions. It is not possible to mention them all but some of the more notable ones are listed.
Frank R. Slocum; Selectman, Landing Commission
John Smith Selectman, Moderator 37 years
Philip Manchester; Selectman, School Committee
J. Douglas Borden; Selectman, Assessor
Alford Dyson; Selectman, School Committee, Housing Authority
Russell T. Hart; Selectman, Assessor, Highway Surveyor
Charles R. Costa; Selectman, Board of Health
Claude A. Ledoux; Planning Board, Selectman, River Improvement Commission, Shellfish Advisory, Conservation Commission
Harold Wood; Selectman, School Teacher, School Principal, Civic Leader
Thomas McGarr; School Teacher, Regional School Committee, School Committee, Diman Regional School Superintendent
Richard P. Desjardins; Selectman, School Committee
Ann Chandanais; Selectman, Personnel Board
Thomas Perkins; Selectman, Cable Advisory
David P. Dionne; Selectman, Solid Waste Committee
Edward L. Macomber; Town Clerk, School Committee, Library Trustee
Elmer B. Manchester; Town Clerk, Accountant, Registrar
Johnathan B. Hicks; Tax Collector, Treasurer
Charles H. Gifford; Tax Collector, School Committee
George Norman; Tax Collector, Treasurer, Assessor
Peleg S. Sanford Jr.; Assessor, Highway Surveyor
Augustus R. Wood; Assessor, School Committee, Library Trustee
Nason R. Macomber; Assessor, Library Trustee
Arthur V. Tripp; Assessor, School Committee, Landing Commission, Library Trustee, Overseer of the Poor
Frederick L. Tripp; School Committee; Library Trustee
Robert A. Gifford; Highway Surveyor, Landing Commission
Samuel L. Boan; Overseer of the Poor, Landing Commission, Board of Health
Normand Forand; Overseer of the Poor, Constable
Lafayette C. Gifford; Constable, Fish Commission
George W. Hart; Fish Commission, Shellfish Warden
Many more deserve recognition. Some will be recognized during the treatment of the separate offices.
The 1993 list of town offices and committees is included to provide insight into the growth of Town Government. The proliferation of committees is an indication that elected officials have relinquished some of their decision making duties to appointed officials. This causes many conflicting directions in the town’s governance. The basic governing bodies have not changed. Their duties have been spread out and this greatly confuses official accountability.
Town employees in the various departments stayed for long terms, usually to retirement, an observation which persists to the present. There is a long list of long term employees who have contributed to the town’s welfare. Unfortunately, this list is beyond the scope of this book.
THE PEOPLE WHO REPRESENT YOU
His Excellency, William F. Weld (R)
Room 360, State House
Boston, MA 02133
SENATORS IN CONGRESS
The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy (D)
S.R. - 113, United States Senate
Washington, D 20510
2400 John F. Kennedy Federal Building
Boston, MA 02203
The Honorable John Kerry (D)
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D 20510
REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS 3rd DISTRICT
The Honorable Peter Blute (R)
1029 Longworth Hob
Washington, D 20515
SENATOR IN GENERAL COURT 2nd BRISTOL DISTRICT
The Honorable Thomas C. Norton (D)
Room 407, State House
Boston, MA 02133
REPRESENTATIVE IN GENERAL COURT
8th BRISTOL DISTRICT
BRISTOL COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
P.O. Box 208
Taunton, MA 02780
Sylvester Sylvia, Chairman
Maria F. Lopes
Marc J. Santos, Esq., Clerk of the Board
TOWN OFFICERS - 1994
SELECTMEN TERM EXPIRES
Marjorie A. Holden 1997
David P. Dionne 1995
George T. Leach, Jr. 1996
Marlene Samson 1996
Brad C. Brightman 1995
George E. Foster 1996
COLLECTOR OF TAXES
Pauline M. Raposa 1996
Charles Barboza Jr. 1997
George R. Medeiros 1995
John J. McDermott 1996
BOARD OF HEALTH
John J. Colletti 1994
David P. Cabral 1995
Robert J. Chandanais 1996
Laurie J. Andrews 1997
Deana Chase 1997
Joan M. Tripp 1995
Robert S. Wicks 1995
June LaBonte 1996
REGIONAL SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Thomas J. McGarr 1996
Paul Pereira 1996
James S. Manchester 1997
Daniel P. Sullivan 1995
Russell Hart 1996
William A. Pariseau 1996
Daniel P. Sullivan 1996
TRUSTEES OF FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Mary L. Medeiros 1997
Janet M. Edmonds 1994
Frances C. Kirkaldy 1995
Annamarie K. Towne 1995
Ruth S. Manchester 1996
Rhoda W. Sheehan 1996
Joseph Botehlo 1994
Albert H. Field 1994
George P. D. Hancock 1995
Robert Albanese 1994
Timothy Ford 1996
George A. Yeomans 1995
Kevin Hill 1997
John H. Marques 1998
Patricia D. Pariseau (State Appointed)
John S. Penney 1994
Daniel T. George 1995
John Montano 1996
Timothy H. Gillespie 1997
William H. Russell 1998
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF TRUST FUNDS
Lori Ann Ethier 1994
Roberta V. Costa 1995
Stafford Sheehan 1996
NAME POSITION TERM
Robert T. Reed Administrative Assistant 6/30/94
Charlene R. Wood Sec. to the Board of Selectmen
Robert T. Reed Parking Clerk 6/30/94
Denise Bouchard Confidential Clerk to the
Board of Selectmen
Kevin P. Feeley Temporary Town Counsel
Leonard Kopelman Town Counsel 6/30/94
Atty. Walter Smith Special Counsel 6/30/94
Atty. Betty I. Ussach Special Council
Katherine Benoit Accountant
Lionel Ravenalle Custodian-Town Hall/Police Station
John Mano Assistant Part-time Custodian
Michael C. McCarthy Civil Defense Director 6/30/94
Paul Ledoux Deputy Civil Defense Director 6/30/94
Leonard Moniz Civil Defense Radio Equip, Operator 6/30/94
Charlene R. Wood Civil Defense Secretary 6/30/94
Michael C. McCarthy Energy Coordinator 6/30/94
Elaine Rioux Dog Officer 4/30/94
Brian Rioux Assistant Dog Officer 4/30/94
Ronald E. Costa Veterans Service Agent 4/30/94
Ronald E. Costa Graves Registration Officer 4/30/94
Ronald E. Costa Citizens for Citizens Rep. 6/30/94
Richard B. Earle Harbormaster 6/0/94
Everett Mills Assistant Harbormaster 6/30/94
Johnathon Paull Assistant Harbormaster 6/30/94
John R. Bevcis Assistant Harbormaster 6/30/94
Gary Sherman Wharfinger
John A. Taylor, Jr. Assistant Wharfinger 6/30/94
Vernon Whitehead Inspector of Buildings 6/30/94
Clarence Cole Asst. Inspector of Buildings 6/30/94
Ernest Vohnoutka Wire Inspector 6/30/94
Joseph A. Goslin Assistant Wire Inspector 6/30/94
Dane R. Winship Assistant Wire Inspector 6/30/94
Robert Labonte Plumbing Inspector (by Bldg Insp.) 6/30/94
Robert Labonte Gas Inspector (by Bldg Insp) 6/30/94
Roger A.J. Labonte Assist. Plumbing Inspector 6/30/94
(by Bldg Insp)
Roger A.J. Labonte Assistant Gas Inspector 6/30/94
(by Bldg. Insp)
Gerald Anctil Assist. Plumbing Inspector 6/30/94
(by Bldg. Insp.)
Gerald Anctil Assistant Gas Inspector 66/30/94
(by Bldg Insp.)
Paul Audet Sealer of Weights & Measures 6/30/96
George Robichaud Asst. Sealer of Weights & Measures 6/30/96
John Ciccotelli Environmental Certifying Officer 6/30/94
Robert T. Reed Chief Procurement Officer
Robert T. Reed Affirmative Action Officer
Charlene R. Wood National Organization on Disability Representative
William D. Tripp Municipal Coordinator of the “Right to Know” Law
Stephen A. Motta Acting Coordinator of the “Right to Know” Law
John Ciccotelli Hazardous Waste Coordinator
Gary Sherman Oil Spill Coordinator
Thomas Perkins Mooring Assignment Coordinator
James M. Morton III Railroad Commissioner (Deceased)
James M. Morton III M.B.T.A. Representative (Deceased)
George Foster Custodian of Tax Title Properties
Denise Bouchard Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator
John Andrade E-9-1-1 Coordinator
ACCESS TO TOWN COUNSEL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
David Cabral John Colletti
Christopher Cooney James Morton (Deceased)
ARTS LOTTERY COUNCIL
Deborah Coolidge 11/09/93 Denise Donatelli 2/18/94
Beth Easterly 6/30/94 Susan Branco 1/21/94
Nancy Rodriques 2/22/95 Marie Woollam 6/30/95
Betsy Borba-Szel 6/30/94 Mary Ellen Guptill 2/03/94
Elaine Stevens 2/03/94 Natalie Bowen 6/30/96
Geraldine Millham 6/30/95
James A. Burns Precinct A 6/30/96
Carol Lague Precinct B 6/30/95
Damase Giguere Precinct C 6/30/93 (Resigned)
Lisa Grillo Precinct C 6/30/96
Arthur G. Caesar Precinct D 6/30/94
Eleanor Jerome Precinct E 6/30/94 (Resigned)
Pauline Larsen Precinct E 6/30/94
BOARD OF APPEALS
5 Year Terms - Regulars 2 Year Terms - Alternates
Joseph L. Keith III, Clerk 6/30/95 Eliot C. Holden 630/94
Clayton Harrison 6/30/94 John Preston 6/30/94
Raymond Medeiros, Vice Chmn. 6/30/98
James M. Morton, III, Chmn. 6/30/97 (Deceased)
Gerald Coutinho 6/30/97
Kendal Tripp 6/30/96
BOARD OF SURVEY
David Bernier (by Inspector of Buildings)
Fire Chief William D. Tripp 6/30/94
Fred Hanack 6/30/94
BUZZARDS BAY ACTION COMMITTEE
Gary Sherman 6/30/94
John Ciccotelli 6/30/94 (Alternate)
CABLE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Thomas Perkins Paul Izyk
Robert Rayno Edwin Horky
Paul Bernier George T. Leach, Jr.
Edward A. Martins
Jacqueline Forand 6/30/94 Thomas Peters 6/30/94
Joseph Migliori 6/30/94
COUNCIL ON AGING
Harriet A. Barker 6/30/93(Resigned) Margo Boote 6/30/94
Cynthia Reynolds 6/30/96 Joanne R. Devlin 6/30/94
David D. Wicks 6/30/95 (Deceased) Beatrice Potter (Honorary)
William E. Greeley 6/30/95 Dorothy Tongue 6/30/95
Clifton Greenwood 6/30/94 (Resigned) Lois E. Spirlet 6/30/96
Paul B. Thomas 6/30/96 (Resigned)
EARLE & HEAD SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Veronica Beaulieu George Costa
Frank X. Harding, Jr. Norma K. Judson
John Marnik Barbara Porter
WESTPORT REPRESENTATIVE TO
THE GREATER FALL RIVER
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES COORDINATING
COMMITTEE, INC. REGION 7
Arthur Briggs 6/30/94
LOCAL EMERGENCY PLANNING COMMITTEE
Paul Pereira Michael C. McCarthy
Richard Earle William D. Tripp
Thomas Porter Charles A. Pierce
FAIR HOUSING/HOUSING PARTNERSHIP COMMITTEE
Michael Alexander Sara Lou Motta
Douglas Baer John Montano
Thomas Perkins Anthony Melli
William Greeley James Morton, III (Deceased)
Ruth Heath Katherine Preston
John Jennings Shirley Lakin
(3) FENCE VIEWERS (3 YRS)
Paige Gibbs 6/30/95
Armand Goyette 6/30/95
Frank Napert III 6/30/95
G.W.E.N. MONITORING & REPORTING COMMITTEE
Christine Ash David Dionne
Anne Barnes Francois Napert
Judy Beaven Elizabeth Roulon
Timothy Bornstein, Alternate Rennard Waldron
Robert Chandanais, Alternate
HARBOR ADVISORY COMMITTEE
John Azevedo Jack Reynolds
John Doherty Robert Reynolds
Harold F. Tripp, Jr.
HISTORICAL COMMISSION (3 YRS.)
Geraldine Millham 6/30/95 Virginia Edgecomb 6/30/96
Barbara Koenitzer 6/30/94 Christopher Wise 6/30/95
Katherine Preston 6/30/96 Eleanor Jerome 6/30/95
Jacqueline Hill 6/30/96 Suzanne Lentini 6/30/96
Lincoln Tripp 6/30/95 Charles Nelson, Jr. 6/30/944
William Underwood, Jr. 6/30/94 Barbara Porter 6/30/94
Richard Wertz 6/30/96
Katherine R. Keith (Honorary)
Eleanor S. Tripp (Honorary)
LOCAL PARTNERSHIP COMMITTEE
Daniel George Albert E. Lees, Jr.
Chris Lafrance, Jr. Patricia Siemenski
James W. Coyne, Jr. Carlos Costa
Robert Russell Robert Wicks
Gerald Coutinho Michael Rodrigues
Wayne Turner James long
Steven Tripp Chris Cooney
PARK STUDY COMMITTEE
Joanne Cadieux Norma K. Judson
Daniel T. George Geraldine Millham
Ben Guy Paul Pereira
PERSONNEL BOARD (3 YRS)
Ann Chandanais 6/30/94 Marjorie Holden 6/30/96
Selena Howard 6/30/96 James W. Coyne, Jr. 6/30/96
Susan Read (Resigned) 6/30/96 Peter G. Fradley 6/30/96
Edgar Towne, Jr. (Resigned) 6/30/93
Chief of Police: Charles A. Pierce
Lieutenant: William C. White
Lieutenant: Joseph E. Carvalho
Pauline Q. Field John Gifford
Paul E. Holden Stephen D. Kovar, Jr.
REGULAR POLICE OFFICERS
John J. Bell Michael D. O’Connor
Douglas Britland Michael S. Perry
John P. Couto Thomas Plourde
Reginald Deschenes Richard Rodrigues
Gary M. Foley Marshall Ronco, Detective
Donald J. Frederick Michael R. Roussel, Detective
Mario Lewis, Chief of Detectives Keith Pelletier
Jeffrey Majewski David Simcoe
Stephen D. Kovar, Jr. (Range & Firearms Officer)
Donald J. Frederick (Assistant Range & Firearms Officer)
Nancy Braga - Secretary/Dispatcher
RESERVE POLICE OFFICERS
Raymond Araujo Francois A. Napert III
David Arruda Keith J. Novo
Gregory Bell Douglas Orr
Darrin M. Blais Steven Ouellette
Gary L. Cambra Fernando Pontes
Craig Carvalho Mark C. Rosinha
Svea Kirsten Carlson Michael Silvia
Antonio Cestodio Brian Souza
Mario DaCunha Daniel R. Sullivan
Kenneth Furtado Stephen Teixeira
Robert J.. Goulet Andrew P. Wheaton
Raymond Benoit (Special F.R. Rod & Gun Club)
PUBLIC WEIGHER (1 YR TERM)
Raymond Giasson at 548 State Road 6/30/94
Herman Gitlin at 548 State Road 6/30/94
Louis Gitlin at 548 State Road 6/30/94
Mark Gitlin at 548 State Road 6/30/94
Jeffrey Clarke at 536 Old County Road 6/30/94
Jason Dessert at 536 Old County Road 6/30/94
RECREATION COMMISSION (3 YR TERM)
Paula L. Smith 6/30/94 Steven Pimental 6/30/94
Steven Ouellette 6/30/96 Diane Colletti 6/30/95
George Michaels 6/30/95 Stephen Teixeira 6/30/96
Joanne Teixeira 6/30/96
REGISTRARS OF VOTERS (3 YR TERM)
Marlene Samson 4/1/96 Jean Louis Clapin 4/1/95
Robert St. Amour 4/1/94 Geraldine Craveiro 4/1/96
RIVER DREDGING COMMITTEE
Thomas Perkins Claude Ledoux
Richard Earle James Robeson
Richard Hart Gary Sherman
Russell T. Hart Alexander Smith
ROUTE 88 TASK FORCE
Gerald Coutinho Edward Lambert (at large)
Robert Daigle (at-large) Francois A. Napert
Linda Pacheco Paul Pereira
Romeo A. Fortin Robert E. Reynolds
William J. Shea Mike Roussel
SAFETY REGULATION BOARD
(Art. 30 - Section 1, 1978)
Romeo Fortin, Selectmen’s Representative 6/30/93
Paul Pereira, Highway Supervisor
Paige Gibbs, Fence Viewer
SENIOR CENTER SITE SELECTION COMMITTEE
Voting Members Non-Voting Members
Lucille Chase Jacqueline B. Hill - Consultant
Gerald Coutinho George Koenitzer - Advisor
William Greeley (Resigned) Marilyn Whalley- Selectmen’s Liaison
Irene Pacheco Theodore J. Moore - Advisor
Jay Ritter Donald Bernier - Advisor
Lori Robertson Daniel. George - Advisor
Dorothy P. Tongue
Ernest W. Brosseau
Olivia P. Maynard
SHELLFISH WARDEN/WHARFINGER (3 YR TERM)
Gary Sherman 6/30/95
DEPUTY SHELLFISH WARDEN (3 YR TERM)
Edmie P. Bibeau 6/30/96 Robert W. Pierce 6/30/96
John Doherty 6/30/96 Walter D. Quinn 6/30/94
Edward T. Earle 6/30/96 Mike Andrade 6/30/96
Kelly Hicks 6/30/94 Daniel P. Sullivan 6/30/96
Daniel Ledoux 6/30/94
SHELLFISH ADVISORY COMMISSION (1 YR TERM)
Kenneth Manchester 6/30/94 Edward A. Martins 6/30/94
John Owen 6/30/94 Alexander Smith 6/30/94
Kendal B. Turner 6/30/94
SOIL CONSERVATION BOARD & CONSERVATION COMMISSION (3 YR TERM)
Donald Bernier 6/30/94 Robert J. Caron 6/30/95
Wendy Henderson 6/30/95 Richard Lambert 6/30/94
Claude Ledoux 6/30/94 Charles Goldberg 6/30/96
Helene Korolenko 6/30/96 Christopher Capone, Agent
SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL COMMITTEE
David Cabral, Chmn. Board of Health Rep.
Todd Cormier At-Large Member
David Dionne, Vice Chairman Selectmen’s Rep.
Timothy Gillespie Planning Board Rep.
Charles Goldberg Alternate Member
Anne Gouveia (Resigned 5/20/93) At-Large Member
Richard Lambert Conservation Committee Rep.
Gregory Barnes (Resigned) Alternate Member
Anne Barnes Alternate Member
Paul Pereira Highway Supervisor
Veronica Beaulieu Finance Committee Rep.
Rhoda Sheehan Alternate Member
SPREDD & SRTA
Donald Bernier David Cabral
John Ciccotelli John Colletti
David Dionne Robert Edgcomb
Romeo A. Fortin George Koenitzer
Richard Mandile Francois Napert
Thomas Perkins Paul Pereira
Walter Quinn Jack Reynolds
Ann Silvia Gary Sherman
Dale Thomas James Walsh
TOWN BEACH LIFEGUARDS
Gustin N. Cariglia Head Lifeguard
Timothy J. McDonough Full-Time Lifeguard
Debbie Reis Full-Time Lifeguard
Paul Boudria Full-Time Lifeguard
Christopher Condon Part-Time Lifeguard
TOWN BUILDING COMMITTEE
Roger Olivier William J. Underwood, Jr.
Richard Vohnoutka, Chairman William Gifford, Alternate
TOWN COUNSEL SEARCH COMMITTEE
Michael Alexander John Penney
Calvin Hopkinson Sandra Levesque
Erica Bronstein (Resigned)
WATER ADVISORY COMMITTEE
David P. Duval Normand Michaud
Robert R. Labonte William J. Underwood, Jr.
John F. MacDonald James Mazzarella
WESTPORT CITIZENS RETIREMENT COMMITTEE
Shirley Desrosiers 6/30/2000 Charlene R. Wood 6/30/94
Walter Craveiro 6/30/94 Cynthia Rodrigues 6/30/94
Hilda Martel (Resigned) Lena Napert 6/30/94
Town Treasurer $150,000.00
Tax Collector $120,000.00
Town Clerk $15,000.00
Issued 93 ($24.00)
SECTION NO. 5
ABBREVIATED CHRONOLOGICAL REVIEW OF EVENTS WHICH HAVE SHAPED THE TOWN’S EVOLUTION AND THE LIFE OF ITS CITIZENS DURING THE 1900’S. (More Specific Information Is Included In The Reviews Of The Government Structure).
1900 - Fishing and lobstering was carried on by a fleet of catboats at the Point. Steam was replacing water power in the mills. Most Westporters were supported by agriculture. Portuguese newcomers from the Azores were coming to Westport. The automobile was starting to bring more visitors from outside. The town had 4 cemeteries and 6 private burial plots. Thirty-eight jurors were picked by the Selectmen. All of Yankee descent. The town report was referred to as “Report of the Board of Auditors and Overseers of the Poor”. The town continued its long tradition of caring for the poor and incapacitated. An almshouse was maintained at the poor farm for those in need of shelter. The population of 2678 persons was housed in 795 dwellings, 700 people voted, 792 residents paid taxes and 402 non-resident were taxpayers.
1903 - Board of Selectmen approve a grant to allow a railroad to Horseneck. The By-Laws committee spend $170.00 developing a by-laws booklet. (Should be interesting reading.)
1904 - 1909, Westport Point, Central Village, Head of Westport were linked to Trolley Stop at Lincoln Park by the mail carrier car.
1907 - The Board of Selectmen set automobile speed limits of 8 MPH in the villages and 15 MPH in other places. They also granted a franchise to the Dartmouth and Westport Street Railway to construct tracks from Dartmouth to Fall River which required widening of the Narrows. They also issued permits to install telephone poles and lines.
1909 - The Board of Health published guidelines for treatment of tuberculosis. The School Department highlighted the problem of lack of school transportation. Alice A. Macomber is a starting teacher, 1 of 21. The town has 13 separate schools.
1910 - The Board of Health’s goal is to eliminate pigs, manure and swill from Horseneck Beach. New drinking fountains and separate cups now being used in the schools. Sixteen years of age mandated for schooling except in proof of employment. Seventy-three out of four hundred and forty-nine students were found to have eye and ear defects.
1911 - The School curriculum consists of reading, writing, history, spelling, geography, physiology, arithmetic, practical arts, agriculture, music and drawing The School Committee meets in the afternoon of the last Saturday of the month. The school year is 180 days. The Board of Health is carrying out its goal of 1910.
1912 - Westport suffered a severe small pox epidemic and had to build an isolation hospital. The Board of Health is continuing the Horseneck Beach clean-up. One pair of horses, man and cart was paid $4.00 per day for labor. $2500.00 was voted for repairs of the road leading to Gooseberry Bar. Mildred Borden who celebrated her 100th birthday in 1994 is mentioned in the High School Honor Roll. Factory School was a new building. It was an unusually dry year. The wells in one part of town were contaminated with sewage.
1914 - Overcrowding in the schools is a problem. One class had 48 students. School report is very interesting. Elmer B. Manchester is mentioned as an Honor Roll Student of the High School. Special part time police were reinforcing the Constables. Christopher Borden (Mildred’s father), a long time town servant was one of the special officers.
1915 - Many problems with the school system, fantastic school report. Westport now has 110 miles of road.
1916 - High School was a two year process, many did not return for the second year. Anemia was prevalent in the system. 88 out of 542 students were anemic. Eight students had heart murmurs. Everyone had decayed teeth. There were 243 tonsil infections. Dr. Burt did not believe in vaccinations and this practice was discontinued. A baseball program was started in the school system. This later resulted in fine athletes from Westport such as William “Bill” Pierce who played professional ball as did his brother Jim.
1917 - 1918 - Eighty seven Westporters served in World War I, 4 died.
1919 - There were one hundred ninety nine reported influenza cases. Mrs. Thomas B. Tripp donated the town landing at the let now known as Emma Tripp landing. One thousand dollars were appropriated for a soldiers welcome. Three hundred were named to the roll of honor. High school curriculum is now three years. Many problems with school system. State law now requires that transportation be provided for students living over 1½ miles from school. There are 11 schoolhouses. Average teacher salary is $981.00. The James Morris Post 145 of the American Legion was chartered.
1922 - New state law requires licensing for garbage transport. High school is now a four year course. The years 1920 to 1933 were prohibition years and the harbor and rivers were used to smuggle liquor which was then transferred to barns and later transported out of town. More tourism and summer residents came during the twenties and thirties.
1923 - Unusually cold year schools needed heat until the end of June.
- Special school established for slow learners “Retarded in Mental
Development”. Team sports are organized at the High School. School physician
recommends vaccination. The new
school nurse is taking charge of the many physical ailments of the children. The tax records indicate a total of 2237 taxpayers, 145 of Portuguese descent (6% of the population), 137 French (6% of the population), 27 Polish descent (1% of the population), 11 Jewish, 3 Lebanese or Syrian. There were 33 Gifford and 44 Tripp families. Highest taxes paid by a resident was Edwin Borden, $1683. The town’s tax bill was $2089. Summer resident Earle P. Charlton paid $6169. While the Westport Manufacturing Co. paid $10,041.00 . This year also saw the building of a causeway road access to Gooseberry Island.
1926 - Town police Chief and a sergeant were hired. Five special police and four constables comprised the department.
1927 - The Call Fire Department was founded. Town meeting authorized election of constables.
1928 - Town meeting procedures used are Cushing’s manual of parliamentary practice. Position of moderator was instituted and authorized to appoint 5 voters to a Finance Committee, not town officers, the committee is empowered to appoint up to 4 additional members. Finance committee was instructed to recommend on financial articles. Treasurer Charles H. Gifford was removed from office due to irregularities with the town’s finances. Over $43,000 were found to be missing some having been deposited in M. Gifford’s bank account. The Fire Department organized March 14, 1928 and gave its first report. Cistern construction is recommended for water supply. The old Ledoux house on the corner of Gifford Road and Mouse Mill road still has the cistern built in that era and now long out of use. Anti-littering and loitering By-Laws passed and a new requirement to license junk dealers instituted. Five year residency required for welfare aid. State auditors report cites many financial discrepancies. A copy of the clothes order form from Mrs. Nelson I. Pettey is provided as an example of the mail order business of the day. It was found during the review of the 1928 Town Report. In 1928 the Overseers of the Poor became the Board of Welfare.
1930 - With the town’s population at 4408, the number of taxpayers was 2135. There were 43 Tripp and 30 Gifford families. 231 were Portuguese, 391 French, 26 Jewish, 3 Italian, 1 Greek, 3 Lebanese, 1 Armenian, 32 Polish. The last trolley from Fall River to New Bedford was replaced by buses and private automobiles.
1932 - Motor vehicle excise taxes mentioned for the first time. The 1932 Annual Reports included many new departmental reports.
1933 - The Civil Works Administration was initiated in Westport. Ten projects were started under a county supervisor, 171 men were employed. Drainage road work and River Dredging was done at a cost of $20,000.00 Seventeen boys went to CC camps for which the families received $25.00 per month, while the boys received a $5.00 per month allowance. Salary cuts were made for all school department personnel.
1935 - The town started paying its part time firemen.
1936 - 37 Building inspector position was created.
1938 - The September 21 hurricane devastated the ocean frontage of the town. Twenty two lives were lost. Hix bridge was wrecked. Houses on Horseneck, East Beach and the Harbor were swept into the rivers and there was widespread town damage.
1939 - The new (present) town hall was built with Federal Emergency Administration funds and labor. The “old” town hall is presently serving as St. John’s Catholic church hall. Cost was approximately $50,000.
1940 - State audit finds some taxes due back to 1935. Teacher Alice S. Macomber (Macomber School) retires after 30 years. Teacher Audrey Tripp originates school “open house” sessions.
1941 - 45 World War II years. 524 Westporters served and 11 died. Gooseberry observation structures built and in 1944 Board of Health nurse Sybil L. Mercer died ending a distinguished and productive career of 17 years. The Federal Emergency Administration funding was terminated when the war started and jobs became plentiful. The end of the war in 1945 found Westport with a population of approximately 4500, more prosperous than ever before and little changed from its pre-war character.
1948 - Plans are underway for construction of New High School at “Gifford’s Corner”.
- School system started a course in driver Training. The late forties saw a
large influx of population. Fifty four new homes per year (average) were built
from 1946 through 1949. One family which emigrated to the United States and
settled in Westport was the Ledoux family, parents and eight children with
Claude being the oldest at 14. Seven of the eight children being of school
age. The Ledoux’s were promptly visited by the School Nurse, Mrs. Lydia Mason,
a gentle, dedicated person who could speak French. She checked everyone to
insure they were not carrying contagious diseases and made arrangements with the
parents to have the children board the different school buses which passed by
and would take them to the appropriate school. Since none of the kids could
speak English, attended French Canadian schools, the first few days caused some
apprehension, especially for the younger ones. Fortunately many kids of French
descent and some teachers spoke French and this helped greatly to sort things
out. The three older ones; Claude, Jean-Guy and Hughette ended up in the 7th
grade at the Factory School, Miss Anna Paoli’s room. Her patient manner,
ability to speak French, enabled an assimilation into the class work within a
couple of moths. Without today’s purported need for a bilingual education.
Providing further insight into the impressions of a newcomer to Westport during
that era; Westport was a wonderful place where you could feel at home in a short
time, it was full of small
farms, where the pays were small, the work hard and the people considerate and helpful. Our small farm on the corner of Mouse Mill and Gifford Road was soon visited by friends from the Greenwood Park and other areas within a radius of a few miles. An old mill pond on the farm was witness to some savage hockey games in the winter, as the “Canucks” or “Frenchies” schooled the local boys in the fine and gentle art of Hockey. After all what’s a little blood among friends. We readily walked miles across the woodlands to go visit each other and when time permitted roamed the woods to hunt and make rough camps. Trapping muskrats was a way to raise money. Jobs could always be found in adjoining farms where you were well treated and expected to give fair measure. Some of the old boys are still around. The Hebert boys, Joe Simmons, the Dyson boys and Richard Vohnoutka are some who come to mind, there are many others. The Ledoux’s had a family cow, made butter, raised crops, pigs, chickens, slaughtered their own animals and cured their own meats. There was very little money but who knew the difference, life was ordered, peaceful, busy and enjoyable, with neighbors who kept their distance but could be relied on if help was needed. Destruction of a neighbor was never considered, arguments occurred and differences of opinion were tolerated.
1950 - A new high school was approved at a construction cost of $800,000.00. Harold Wood was appointed Principal, he had served as a teacher since 1935 and was principal until 1970. Miss Audrey Tripp was praised by the State Supervisor of Elementary Education for the high standards of grades 1-8. The graduating class included Lincoln Tripp, a prominent and hard working member of our historical commission.
1950 - 1953 - The Korean war called 65 Westporters to the armed forces, including two Ledoux’s who enlisted as they turned 17, Claude in 1952 and Jean-Guy in 1953. What an experience to ride the train from Fall River to Parris Island South Carolina in 1952. For a French Canadian Westport farm worker the continuity of new experiences was awesome.
1951 - End of Poll tax. Edward L. Macomber dies. Town clerk from 1888 to 1951. New town clerk Elmer B. Manchester Jr. Milton Earle’s last report as School Superintendent.
1952 - The State Department of Public Health notified our Board of Health of 25 locations where raw sewage was running into the rivers. The state warns that if the situation is not remedied they will order the river closed to the taking of shellfish. The Board of Health adopted a by-law which requires a Board of Health permit before a building can be issued. This to prevent pollution of other person’s wells.
1954 - Hurricane Carol strikes, every beach cottage destroyed. Town meeting warrants and notes now published in Town Annual Reports.
1955 - Hurricane Diane caused alarm but little damage.
1956 - Witnessed the abandonment of the infirmary which was situated at the Town Farm (Poor Farm). It had been operating since 1928. This year also brought the establishment of the Planning Board. Building on West Beach prohibited by the state. State Beach established, deprivitizing Horseneck and Gooseberry Island.
1957 - The Factory School was leased to St. George’s parish. The Town meeting authorized a Recreation Committee. Residential districts zones were accepted. Intensity regulations were adopted requiring one dwelling per lot of 20,000 square feet and 100 foot frontage with a maximum of 40 feet height.
- Milton E. Earle submitted his final report as School Superintendent. His
first report was in 1931. This was his second term as Superintendent. His
first ended in 1951. The Town Meeting accepted the Hixbridge dump site, which
is the present landfill. Previous location was on the north side of Briggs
Road. Route 88 was built along with the new Fontaine
Bridge. The old wooden bridge use was abandoned after being in operation since 1893.
1959 - Restoration of the Head dam was considered for a town water supply but the Lincoln Park sewage treatment outfall spoiled this plan. A trailer by-law was adopted. There were 41 candidates for Fish Commissioners.
1960 - The State continued to exercise more control over the Welfare Board. The Planning Board received many planning research studies. The meeting voted to prohibit trailer parks. Three year tenure was voted for Fireman, Policemen, and Highway workers subject to future ballot note.
1961 - There were 14 fishing vessels over 40 feet in length. 2000 small lots were grandfathered as of the 1956 intensity regulation changes, some lots as small as 1200 square feet.
1962 - School report is worth reading. Philosophy of education is outlined in great detail, a worthwhile comparison to the present theories and procedures.
1963 - Zoning revisions were adopted at the Town Meeting. Many planning studies dealing with Town sewage and water. Several contaminated wells point to the need for a water supply. Trailer regulations were updated. Funds were voted for Wattuppa Pond Algae Control. Chapter 40 section 86 of Massachusetts General Laws was adopted creating a conservation commission, primarily to control tidal marshes. A town representative to the Diman Regional School was approved. Diman was recently instituted as a Regional School. Audrey L. Tripp, Principal of the Earle School is quoted “Improvement in Education is concerted investment in the individual - not in proliferation of programs and projects”.
1964 - A full time Fire Chief was approved along with instituting a full time Fire Department. The Chief position was that of a “Strong Chief”, which removes the department from the jurisdiction of the Selectmen. Selectmen appoint the Fire Chief for three years (tenure), the Chief decides all of the workings of the Department. 1964 also brought Interstate 195 across the Town’s North end.
1961 - 1972 - Vietnam War Years - 391 Westporters served, 105 in combat and two were killed; one casualty was Andre Latessa for whom Latessa square was named. It is located off Tickle Road. The other casualty was Normand Fontaine for whom the Route 88 Fontaine Bridge was named.
1965 - Water Study committee report is submitted to the Selectmen. Cemetery reports no longer list all the lots. The school report mentions schools are veering to impersonal solutions, mass groupings, standard curriculums, text, etc. squeezing individuals into common molds.
1966 - Go-Go girls establishments giving the Selectmen headaches, 61 candidates ran for Planning Board. The Personnel Board was established. Audrey Tripp refers to sporadic faddishness in education. Milton E. Earle dies September 9. Scallop crop was 38,500 bushels.
1967 - Finance committee is listed in the Town Report for the first time. No scallops were harvested. The State assumed responsibility for administering welfare, eliminating the need for the Welfare Board which was derived from the Overseers of the Poor in 1928. A committee was authorized to study elderly housing needs. The Head School was transferred to the Library Trustees. Article 18 prohibits introduction, transplanting, or planting of shellfish without permission from the Selectmen. The Board of Appeals was established. New requirements of 100 feet frontage for a dwelling unit and no duplex on less than 20,00 square feet were enacted. John Smith retired as moderator after 37 years.
1968 - Most town departments were now unionized. The Police Department is still receiving and transferring all Town Hall calls. New zoning requires 20,000 square feet and 50 feet of frontage as additional requirements for a duplex. Audrey Tripp “Education, like the whole of modern society is on a downward spiral”.
1969 - Town meeting recognized Roger Acheson’s 25 years of dedicated town service to the School Committee, Regional School Committee and other volunteer efforts.
1970 - The building lot size was increased from 20,000 to 40,000 square feet. The River improvement commission was created, forerunner of the present Shellfish Advisory Committee. Fire Department moved into the new Briggs road Station. Westport population had increased 47% in 10 years to a level of 9791. Antone Vieira’s 25 years as Slaughter Inspector were ended with the State takeover of that function. River testing reports general pollution of moderate proportions with some heavy localized outflows. The school system now has 2026 students. Elizabeth Gifford, a teacher of 41 years referred to as “a gentle lady” passed away.
1971 - Retirement of Lynwood F. Potter a Fire Chief. He joined the Department in 1928 at the age of 16. Dump now being operated as landfill, no more odorous fires. The Planning Board determines there are approximately 1750 lots grandfathered at 20,000 square feet. The Conservation Commission is practicing Dune Conservation and promoting recycling.
1973 - Municipal officers are indemnified. The Point is accepted as a historical district. A new police station was authorized. Building lot sizes of 60,000 square feet were enacted along with many other zoning changes, the result of a Master Plan with a zoning sub-committee chaired the author. Twenty-one out of twenty-nine zoning recommendations were accepted. Major changes in educational techniques are being enacted. Many were later reversed. Elderly housing “Greenwood Terrace” on Route 6 was occupied. This was a major benefit to the town’s elderly and largely the result of actions taken by Selectman Alford Dyson.
1975 -New Police Station approved. Commissioners of Trust Funds were established as an elected office. Funding of $3,816,000 was voted for new elementary school. Flood Plain districts were accepted. The Conservation Commission received soil survey maps from the Soil Conservation Service. A Septage lagoon was proposed by the Board of Health in proximity to the East Branch of the River north of Hixbridge. This created a major controversy , the result of which was the formation of the River Defense Fund, later to become the Westport Rivers Watershed Alliance.
1976 - One hundred percent market value taxation became a State mandate. Extensive dog control by-law was enacted. The Board of Selectmen appointed a full-time Administrative Assistant for the first time.
1977 - There are 29 CETA employees. This was a Federal program to create jobs, quite unsuccessful, the program provided $343,000 funding. Another banner scallop year, 34,000 bushels. Town report contains beautiful map of Town Landings drawn by Herbert Hadfield a renowned Westport artist. Herb is fondly remembered by many including this author. Miss Ruth M. Collins retires as School Department clerk after 49 years of dedicated service.
1978 - Licensing requirements enacted for vehicle repairs facilities. Recreation committee abolished, creation of Youth Activities Board. Greenwood Park School sale was approved.
1979 - The 2½ tax cap was instituted. Jessica A. Pierce was recognized for 41 years as Assistant Assessor starting in 1939. Dr. Wilson E. Hughes for 31 years as School Physician, Joseph Arruda Jr. for 25 years on the Police Force retiring as Chief.
1980 - State authorities find Town Accountant records a mess. Many other accounting procedures need to be improved. The Tree Warden position now will be filled by the Highway Department. A Beach Committee is created. Police and Fire Officers now required to be residents. In 1980, the town had 4688 dwellings, 80% owner occupied.
1981 - Town Beach fees instituted. Solid waste recycling center operating well.
1982 - Recognition of Martha Kirby for 24 years of service on the School Committee.
1984 - Memoriams for Christopher “Kit” Borden Jr. for his many years as Tree Warden and Math Superintendent, a man remembered by Claude Ledoux as a friend of patient and wise counsel. Norman Forand for his services as Constable. Reserve Police Officer and Welfare Board Member. George Hart, Russell Hart’s father, the town’s first Shellfish Warden also Landing and Fish Commissioner. William Holden, Marjorie Holden’s late husband, for his service on the Planning Board. Norman Kirby who served as Selectman and Animal Inspector. Opening of “The Let” was approved as was reconstruction of the Head Dam.
1985 - The 2½ levy limit was reached for the first time. The costs of retirement pensions and liability insurance are spiraling. Public water supply for Route 6 from White’s to Sanford Road was initiated. This was made possible by White’s Family Restaurant who paid most of the cost of the installation across the Narrows to tap into the Fall River water supply. The Pollution Advisory Committee was authorized. Overwhelming scallop crop 59,000 bushels.
1986 - Memoriams: Dorothy W. Smith a teacher of 35 years, library trustee 40 years and librarian for 8 years. Joseph Almeida Machado a School Custodian of 30 years. Arthur Denault who dedicated 34 years to the Landing Commission. Article 51, mandated a 100 foot set back from wetlands for sewage disposal systems. Many school improvement programs reported. Margot Desjardins was named Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. 607 boats are registered in Westport.
1987 - Automatic voting machines used for the first time. Cable TV is serving 3100 customers. $40,000 appropriated for a Land Use Study. This was the Town’s Bicentennial year. There were many celebrations and a superb ball extravaganza held at White’s of Westport.
1988 - Memoriam to Alford Dyson for 33 years of service as Selectman, School Committee and Housing Authority Member. “Al” Dyson was the prime mover for the Route 6 Elderly Housing project “Greenwood Terrace”, a major and much needed asset. The harbormaster reports 619 moorings.
1989 - Fair Housing Committee was originated. The Selectmen make 378 appointments. This equates to approximately 4.5% of the votes, add town employees to this and the conclusion is that the town’s government structure is extremely overloaded. The Town Meeting voted to maintain two ambulances full time. Norman Sasseville retired from the Conservation Commission after 25 years.
1990 -. The Army Corps of Engineers completes a Harbor Dredging Study. Budget problems. Two debt exclusions are voted. Memorials for Manuel V. Amaral, Animal Inspector from 1951 - 1978. Isabelle Sanberg, teacher from 1943 - 1971. Russell Shaw Finance Committee 1965 - 1974 and Town Accountant 1974 - 1980
1991 - Westport is called the “Coastal Agricultural Resource Community of New England”. Hurricane “Bob” visits Westport with devastating results but without major damage, injuries or lives lost. $7500 was voted for Handicapped transportation. A noise by-law was adopted and the dog by-law revised. The first Harvest Festival and parade is a success.
1992 - The dismissal of Town Counsel, Carlton Lees, by Selectmen Thomas Perkins and David Dionne caused the greatest division of the century in town affairs. This action had devastating effects on the conduct of town business, finances and civility of its citizens. Old timers who remember back to the beginnings of the century and all available historical works confirm this to be the most grievous rift in the town’s population. Since this is recent history and there is much information readily available we leave you to draw your own conclusions. One caution, in the opinion of this writer, the Fall River Herald and New Bedford Standard exhibited much bias and one sided reporting in this case. If all the facts are desired you must look beyond those publications. The final outcome was the reinstatement of Mr. Lees with back pay. Ordered by the Bristol County Retirement Board. The decision was upheld by three separate judges after it was appealed. This dismissal’s final cost to the town and the town’s insurer was approximately $110,000. This includes the litigation, special town meetings which were prompted by the dismissal action and the final reimbursement of Mr. Lee’s back pay and pension reinstatement. Fiscal problems continue to plague the town. Quarterly tax billings was approved. Revolving funds were initiated for the Nursing, Council on Aging, and Recreation Departments. Mildred Borden was recognized as the town’s oldest citizen and was presented with the Gold Cane, a long tradition. She was born November 14, 1894. September saw the biggest town meeting in the town’s history to vote on instituting a Recall Procedure for town officials. This was prompted by the action of Selectmen to fire Town Counsel Carlton Lees on July 27, 1992. 1562 voters attended and the recall petition was narrowly defeated in a secret ballot vote 757 no to 744 yes.
1993 - The state mandates changes in school funding operations. The 1993 Education Reform Act takes all financial control of the School Budget our of town jurisdiction. The School Budget is now determined by the use of a complicated formula and the final budget amount is dictated by the State Department of Education. The School Committee’s powers are also greatly curtailed. The committee appoints the Superintendent of Schools who decides hiring and firing of School principals. The principals decide personnel matters for their separate schools. The teaching directions are defined by the Superintendent. Principals are held accountable for achieving the objectives of the Superintendent. This is a complicated state mandate, still in process of being defined. Anyone who desires to become intimately familiar with the ramifications of this subject should be prepared to spend countless hours researching a variety of documents.
The Selectmen made 357 appointments approximately 4% of the towns voters are involved in town government. A far cry from 1900 government. Five 2½ tax override ballot questions are rejected. A town meeting article to have Selectmen Perkins and Dionne pay their legal fees personally was defeated. Many articles dealing with changes in the Board of Selectmen were also defeated. The position of full time recycling monitor was created. A Room Tax was approved. 20% of the town population is over 60 years old. The James Morris post, American Legion celebrated its 75th anniversary on July 31, 1994, along with its ladies auxiliary.
1994 - March 7, 1994 was the last turkey dinner held by the Watuppa Grange No. 365. This dinner had been a tradition since 1941 and was used as an opportunity to meet candidates for town elections. The town’s budgetary problems have reached critical proportions.
SECTION NO. 6
Building Inspector, growth of Dwelling Units and Population During the Century
There was no Building Inspector in 1900. The position would come much later. The accompanying table is useful for determining population growth. A strong summer influx was evident in 1900, there were 222 non-resident dwellings and 573 resident dwellings; 28% of the homes were for summer residents. This trend continues at present although in reduced percentage. In 1936-37 the Building Inspector position was created. Henry Hanson Jr. was appointed. Henry was Jean Hart’s father, Russell Hart’s father in law. The town’s population swelled appreciably during the 60’s. Much of that growth was on 10,000 square foot lots. The explosion of the 70’s was mostly working class families mostly on 20,000 square foot lots. The adoption of large lot (60,000 square feet) sizes during the early 70’s increased the cost of home building. The result was that only middle or higher income families were able to afford new homes in Westport during the 80’s and 90’s. Another result of the higher cost of homes is a slow down in the yearly number of new housing units. This trend would easily be reversed by changes in zoning which could lower housing costs, thereby increasing the number of housing starts. Considering that a new home’s valuation has to be approximately $600,000. To cover the cost of one school child, it is obvious that lower cost ($125,000) housing units would contribute greatly to the town’s present financial deficit. The formula for determining the impact of costs versus evaluation is simple. The approximate education cost per child of $5500 in 1995, a tax rate of $8.61 per thousand (FY94).
5500 ¸ 8.61 = 638 or valuation of $638,000.
Needless to mention that the costs of other services further complicate the economic deficit of each housing unit.
Since only 63% of the total town budget is earmarked for the schools, the figure must be reduced accordingly to $402,000 valuation. This will be covered in more depth in the Financial Section.
SECTION NO. 7
Nationality Representations During the 1900’s
Tracking of the nationalities was done by comparing birth statistics. The major national representations (beginning with an almost exclusive Yankee make-up) have been of Portuguese and French Canadian extractions. Other nationalities of note have been Polish, Italian, Jewish but their numbers have not been significant. Therefore the listings are for the three major groups; Yankee, Portuguese and French Canadian. The ethnic groups assimilated readily within the Yankee culture, consideration for neighbors was an unspoken and assumed quality. Ethnic groups readily mixed through marriage. A trend which has continued steadily. Presently, ethnic roots are evident by observation of family names but the languages and customs have largely been lost. The result is a population which essentially speaks one language and has lost much of its ethnic customs. Gone are the days when we were proud of the recognition of our individuality when friends referred to each other as Canuck, Polack, or Portagee. All were considered terms of endearment.
In 1900 almost all of Westport properties were owned by Yankees. The French and Portuguese populations made up about 20% of the town’s population, roughly 10% each and they were likely to be factory or farm workers or fishermen. In 1910 the proportions were approximately 15% for each faction. In the year 1930 the French accounted for 18% of the births while the Portuguese produced 29%. In 1950 each accounted for approximately 22% and mixed marriages between the three main groups were prevalent, a trend which continues to the present. 1980 witnessed a peaking for the French at 41% and the Portuguese at 61%. 1990 reflected a decrease in both, the French 17%, Portuguese 30%, the remainder shows an influx of many other national heritages and a paucity of mixed marriages which leads to the conclusion of an homogeneous population. Noticeable exceptions to the make-up of Westports population are the very small percentages of Asians, Blacks and Hispanics. Westport population is primarily made up of white working class and middle class with an appreciable number of wealthy citizens.
SECTION NO. 8
Farming Activities During the Century
Over 400 farms existed in Westport at the turn of the Century. The farms were mostly family operations and were continuations of farming activities which had been evolving since the late 1600’s. The Westport of 1900 contained much less woodland than the present Westport. Farming activities had stripped most of the farmable land of trees. Treed areas were primarily restricted to wetlands which could not be farmed successfully with the equipment available in that era. A review of stone wall sitings substantiates that conclusion. Line walls or boundary walls do not deviate from the straight lines. Whereas internal walls skirt the edge of wetlands and meander accordingly. When wetlands were encountered the walls followed their shape. A rough estimate is that the present remainder of Westport’s open space is half wetlands. This geologic make-up helped to insure extensive wooded areas which were used as woodlots. Land clearing by settlers was a continuation of the yearly burnings performed by Native Americans who recognized the value of open lands for crops and game. The burnings did not affect the wet wooded areas. A review of the attached table highlights farming trends through the years.
The shift from horses to tractors is apparent. Tractors permitted larger farms to be cultivated without the previously needed increase in manual labor. The increase in horses during the 80’s and early 90’s was primarily for pleasure rather than working the land.
Chicken farming which reached a maximum in the 50’s was widely practiced in the whole of Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. During the late 50’s western corporations started to buy out the grain supply and squeezed out the local poultry farmers. The raising of pigs was popular for extra income and food consumed on the farms. The war years brought a demand for the quick growing animals and Westport had a few extensive pig farmers. The Siemenski farm off Gifford Road comes to mind. It has now been converted to housing developments. Dairy farming has always been the mainstay of Westport farms. Westport is still the leading dairy farm community in the state.
During the late 80’s and early 90’s renewed activity in vegetable farming, including a large greenhouse contribution provided new impetus to Westport agriculture. Fruit, berries and vineyards are also major contributors to farming in the 90’s. During the last few years a farmers co-op was formed to help farmers with the sale of their products. The co-op named “Coastal Growers Association” has been major contributor to the recent prosperity of Westport farms.
In 1995, 170 parcels are classified as Chapter 61A farmland. This classification allows tax assessments to be lower than that of residential or other classes. This bill was enacted by the legislature during the 70’s at the urging of agricultural interests and has proven invaluable to the preservation of farmlands.
In 1991 Westport held its first Harvest Festival, a festive occasion encompassing a parade, road race, giant pumpkin contest, agricultural events and exhibits, crafts, a wide variety of tempting foods and a great place to meet acquaintances and new people from surrounding communities. This event has provided untold benefits to the town, its agriculture and businesses. It was brain-child of Jerry Coutinho a UMD financial officer and Robert Russell a vineyard owner. Many others were involved. Hopefully none will feel slighted due to the lack of name recognition. Another state enacted law which contributed greatly to the conservation of Westport farmland was the Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) act. This act passed in the 70’s, allows farmers to sell their rights to the development value of their farms. This sale guaranties by deed, that the land can only be sold for open land usage. Housing development is prohibited. This has saved over one thousand acres of Westport farmland. The farmer can use the APR proceeds to improve his farm and to insure financial security.
In conclusion, it can be stated that Westport began the century as a strong farming community and will end it as such. Farming has certainly contributed to the well being of all Westport citizens. The shift from use of horses to farm tractors can be tracked throughout the years and other variations in farming become apparent by a comparison of the available statistics.
SECTION NO. 9
Growth Pattern During the 1900’s
Population growth is explained in the section which covers the Building Department. Starting with a population of 2678 in 1900 the town has grown to 13485 in 1993. The beginning population was scattered on numerous farms with small concentrations in 5 district villages; North Westport near the Narrows, Factory near Lincoln Park, Central Village, the Point and the Head, Factory Village containing the highest concentration of persons.
During the early part of the Century up to the 30’s, growth centered along the Trolley line, now Route 6. The Greenwood Park area and other concentrations along Route 6 were largely developed on what was called coffee and tea lots. These were awarded as premiums upon presentation of coupons from the purchase of certain brands of tea and coffee.
The period from the 30’s through the 50’s witnessed the developments along Sanford Road, South Watuppa Pond and Railroad Park areas. The developments of the 60’s and 70’s were regulated by a planning Board established in 1958. The development consisted of sub-divisions, mostly of 10,000 and 20,000 square feet lots, primarily constructed north of Route 177.
The 80’s and 90’s generally brought more expensive homes on 1½ acre lots. The result of zoning requirements enacted the early 1970’s.
Future growth will largely be influenced by upcoming zoning and density regulations. Economic conditions will also continue to affect the growth rates and patterns.
SECTION NO. 10
Lifestyle Changes During the 1900’s
In 1900 Westport society was primarily agrarian, with 5 small village centers of commerce and industry. It has evolved into a bedroom community which derives most of its income from outside sources. This evolution can be related to the growth of the automobile during the course of the Century. From 1900 to the late 20’s motor vehicles were primarily used for utilitarian reasons, until they became affordable and accepted by the middle class. The following table should be useful for this comparison.
The later figures indicate a prosperous, highly mobile, energy dependent society. In sharp contrast from the agrarian and working class populations of the past. The major shift having started during the 70’s.
SECTION NO. 11
Civic Organizations are the glue of a community. They provide the opportunity for interactions among members who share common views and goals. All contribute to the town in various ways; economically, by participation in government affairs, charitable donations, raising public awareness and providing behavioral continuity from older to younger citizens. At the beginning of the century, the major civic organizations were few and primarily farm related such as the Granges.
As the Portuguese an French Canadians populations evolved, the towns civic organizations grew in number. The advent of the World Wars spawned Veteran organizations. Some flourished and died, such as the Westport Taxpayers Association and the present likely demise of the Local Knights of Columbus chapter.
All were governed and organized by dedicated and motivated townspeople. Most are presently being kept alive by older members. Young people have not joined in sufficient numbers to maintain the organizations viability. For instance the Watuppa Grange held its last pre-election turkey dinner on March 7, 1994, ending a 53 year tradition.
At the close of the century those remaining are being kept alive by a few hard workers who stand out among the membership. Some who come to mind are; Harold Wood, Leo St. Onge, Bill Costa, Kenneth and Claire Sullivan, John Marnik, Normand Michaud, Lionel Paquette, and Ron Costa. The major organizations remaining at the end of the century are;
American Legion (75 years old in 1994), Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Viet Nam Veterans.
Watuppa Grange, Noquochoke Grange, Masons, Lions Club, Westport Business to Business, Westport River Watershed Alliance, Westport Farmers Association, Westport Fishermen’s Association, Westport Women’s Club, Knights of Columbus, Volunteer Firemen’s Association
There will be much change in this area during the remainder of this and the next century.
SECTION NO. 12
Effect of Inflation on Town Budget
In order to equate budgets from one year to another it is important to consider the effects of inflation through the years. A 1900 dollar’s value was 17.44 times higher that that of the 1995 dollar. The following table will prove useful when doing budget comparisons.
For example, if you want to equate a 1900 budget to one of 1995. Multiply the 1900 budget by that years ratio and this yields the 1900 budget in 1995 dollars:
A $1000 1900 budget, multiplied by 17.44 = $17,444 1995 dollars. Conversely, a $1000 1995 budget, divided by the 1900 ratio = $57.34 in 1900 dollars. Another example: a 1995 dollar was worth $3.76 in 1970.
SECTION NO. 13
Brief Description of the Duties of Town Offices and Evaluation During the 1900’s
Exhaustive descriptions of the duties of each office are beyond the scope of this booklet and therefore will be limited to understanding the purpose and workings of that office. The evolution of most of the offices will be sufficient to give the reader a good understanding of the events associated with the office during the last century.
SECTION NO. 13A
Workings of the Board of Selectmen During the 1900’s
As the legally designated executive officers of the town’s affairs actions of this Board can have major effects on the operations and welfare of the community. The Board’s power to delegate authority to individuals and committees permits the members to exercise their preferences in the towns governance. The Boards powers have been somewhat curtailed during the last century by the passage of various state laws. But, these restrictions have not changed the duties appreciably. Many notable and long term servants have been Selectmen. Refer to the listing of Town Servants for that information.
1900 - 1920. In 1900 the three Selectmen were also serving as the Towns’ Board of Health. They picked 38 jurors, all Yankees, all were employed in town. They supervised a town with over 400 farms and five village areas. They published a record of their actions in “Report of the Board of Auditors and Overseers of the Poor” now called “Annual Reports”. The Board appointed 10 men for various jobs. The Board of Health was instituted in 1903 removing those duties from the Selectmen. The Board appointed 11 men and licensed 4 slaughterhouses, later to become a Board of Health function, they also granted a railroad permit to Horseneck, which was never implemented. In 1907 the Board appointed one Special Police Officer. Christopher Borden later to serve in many other town functions. They also set auto speed limits of 8 MPH in the villages and 15 MPH in other areas. Franchises were given to allow a railroad to operate between Fall River and Dartmouth. Permits to install telephone poles and lines were issued. A law was passed in 1908 (Ch. 142) requiring town records to be kept in fireproof rooms. The Board made 10 appointments in 1909; Registrar of Voters, Sealer of Weights and Measures, Inspector of Animals, Forest Warden,, Janitor of Town Hall, Burial Agent, Special Police, They also granted 4 auctioneers licenses, one common victuallers license, 11 slaughter house licenses. The Board bonded the Treasurer, Town Clerk and Collector of Taxes. All of these duties relatively unchanged since the 1800’s. During this period and until the later enactment of the moderators position the Selectmen acted as Finance Committee and gave recommendations on town budgets. The 1914 report lists a Police Department budget of $1000. 24 appointments were made in 1920, 10 junk licenses were now issued, all to Jewish enterprises. All town Officers and jurors continue to be Yankees.
1921 - 1931. During 1921, auto repair licenses and Sunday licenses (for sale of ice cream and sundries) were issued. Four women were Town Officials in 1925. All involved library functions, three men were other than Yankee descent, they were all Special Police Officers. The 1928 report was titled “Annual Reports” a designation which is still in effect. By 1928 the Selectmen were appointing a Fire Chief, a position authorized by the Town Meeting. The Chief continued to be appointed by the Board for many years, until a later town meeting authorized an independent “Strong Chief”. The 1928 discrepancy in Treasurer and Tax Collector Charles H. Gifford’s books gave the Board of Selectmen problems. The auditor’s report is very interesting. The creation of a moderator and finance committee removed these duties from the Board of Selectmen. Many by-laws were enacted, dictating; legal, conflict of interest, littering, loitering, licensing of junk dealers and dictating content of town reports. In 1931 the Board made 17 appointments, granted licenses for; auto dealers (2), Hawkers, and one bowling license to Luther B. Bowman at the site of the now famous (or infamous) Westport Social Club which has been operated by Bill Pearson since the late 40’s. Bill has long been active in philanthropic activities and is referred to as the Mayor of Westport.
1932 - 1949. The arrival of the Civil Works Administration in 1933 undoubtedly brought much work to the Board. 1938 brought the new (present) town hall, a WPA project which afforded spacious surroundings for governmental offices. The WPA still carried out a variety of town programs in 1940. This Federal help terminated in 1942. By 1945 the Board was appointing 4 permanent firemen as well as the Chief. In 1949, the Board granted licenses for; Junk Dealers, slaughterhouses, Sunday sales and 20 liquor licenses “Bill Pearson” was on his way to his first million selling liquor to thirsty Westporters. The Board also made 28 appointments.
1950 - 1969. Mid-City Steel was well established by 1953 and Herman Gitlin was obtaining a junk license. The Selectmen leased the Factory School to St. George’s parish in 1957. Twenty-three motor vehicle licenses were granted in 1958. This type of business continued to grow and prosper to the present time. Trailer by-laws passed in 1959 added further duties to the office. Meetings with Fall River officials, regarding usage of their incinerator by Westport, proved unsuccessful. Selectmen were authorized by Town Meeting to delete the drawtender position. A Town water study was presented to the Board in 1965. Go-go girls establishments were giving Selectmen headaches in 1966, the Board made 58 appointments. 1967 brought unionization to town departments which required negotiations by the Board, a full time secretary became necessary. There were meetings with State officials on problems of East Beach and Gooseberry. An elderly Housing Authority was appointed in 1968. Rapid town growth brought many problems to the office of Selectmen, they made 77 appointments and issued 36 motor vehicle licenses.
1970 - 1980. Town meeting approved an increase in lot size from 20,000 to 40,000 square feet and 100 feet of frontage. The Board created a River Improvement commission later to become the present Shellfish Advisory Committee. The population had increased 47% in the sixties, which caused many changes in the Selectmen’s office operations. The town voted to indemnify its officials in 1973, the Board authorized a street lighting committee to look into the high cost of electricity (due to the 1973 oil embargo), some street lights were found not to be required and were removed. 1973 was a momentous and busy year for the Board, the building lot sizes were increased to 60,000 square feet and the attendant enactment of many zoning changes caused operational growing pains in the Building department. The operation of the Police and Fire Departments were altered to improve services. Phyllis Bernier, the first woman Selectman was elected in 1975. A full time administrative assistant was appointed by the Board in 1976. Mr. Edward Shaffer was the first appointee to this position The new (present) Police station was accepted by the Board. Motor Vehicle repair licenses were mandated in 1978, the Board made 260 appointments, including; a Bike Way Committee, Committee for Commerce & Industry, a Water Quality Commission and a Master Plan Committee as well as a Multi-Service Senior Center Committee. The Youth Activities Board was eliminated and a Recreation Commission instituted. The year 1980 brought the 2½ tax cap limit. The State Bureau of Accounts found the town accountant records a mess as well as the records of the Assessors, Tax Collector, Treasurer, and the Purchasing Systems in need of revision. The Board’s appointing of the Tree Warden finished in 1980, the Highway department assumed that responsibility. A Beach Committee was created.
1981 - present. Two of the Boards long term appointees retired; Myron Feenan Town Hall Custodian of 23 years and Albert Palmer Shellfish Constable of 21 years. The Selectmen licensed cable TV in 1984. The 2½ tax levy limit was approached for the first time. The 1985 Board, with the second woman Selectman in the town’s history, Ann E. Chandanais experienced many complications, a Town Hall addition was considered, a town by-laws book was started, there were two River Pollution studies under way, a public water supply was initiated for the Route 6 area up to Sanford Road. This water supply was necessary to provide water to residents of Hebert Terrace whose wells had been contaminated by gasoline leaks. Hurricane Gloria damaged the town and the spiraling costs of insurance and pensions were heavily felt. During the 1987 bicentennial year the Board of Selectmen was: George T. Leach, Jr., William R. Plamondon and Ronald A. Desrosiers (later to die in office). They instituted a full time Harbormaster position, experienced many labor problems, electronic voting started, solid waste and gasoline leaks brought many problems. Alford Dyson passed away in 1988, a long time Selectman, School Committeeman, Housing authority member and participant in many volunteer and civic activities. 1989 brought the resignation of William R. Plamondon early in his second term as Selectman, necessitating a special election. A Fair Housing Committee was started. The 1990 Town Reports note the Army Corps of Engineers Harbor Dredging Study, two debt exclusions were approved as well as the approval of “Mother-in-law” apartments. 1991 was the year of recovery from Hurricane “Bob” and Westport designated itself the “Coastal Agricultural Community of New England”. The water main installation on Route 6 was finally completed. Fiscal problems continued to plague the Board and the town. Quarterly tax billing was started.
The year 1993 brought a mandate from the State called the “Education Reform Act” which mandates School Financing without Town control. The resultant apportionment of financial resources causes innumerable budgetary conflicts which of necessity involve the Board of Selectmen. The Board made 357 appointments and issued 128 motor vehicle licenses in 1993. Eight-hundred forty-two voters attended the town meeting and defeated articles which would have Selectman Perkins and Dionne personally pay their legal fees, in their defense against fired Town Counsel Carl lees. The articles were sponsored by persons who felt they had illegally fired Mr. Lees and therefore the town should not pay the ensuing legal fees. Other articles to increase the Board’s membership to five were also defeated.
The Board of Selectmen’s duties are many and have become more complicated and time consuming throughout the century. Changes in state laws, town regulations and by-laws have caused many uncertainties in decision making which did not exist at the turn of the century. Many are of the opinion that the Selectmen method of governing is outdated and needs major revision. It is interesting to note the financial growth of the office as well as its record of appointments and that of two of its major duties, motor vehicle and liquor related licenses.
SECTION NO. 13B
Evolution of the Police Department
Keeping law and order has long been recognized as elemental to civilization. During the early 1900’s order was the responsibility of Constables. In 1900 they were Daniel M. Sanford, Lafayette L. Gifford, Charles H. Reynolds and Christopher Borden 2nd. There were six constables in 1909. It is hard to imagine the carrying out of the law for a town of 55 square miles at a time when transportation was mostly done with horses. By the year 1909 the Selectmen were appointing Special Police Officers. In 1910 $615 were appropriated for Police and Fire. By 1915, 3 police officers worked on a budget of $1600. 1920 witnessed the appointments of six special officers including Everett Coggeshall who retained the badge as an honorary member of the Police Force until his death in 1982 at the age of 98. Constables continued to assist in enforcing laws and serving warrants. A Truant Officer continued to insure school attendance, continuing a duty which was in effect at the turn of the Century. A Police Chief was appointed in 1926, Charles R. Livesey, he supervised 7 officers and the Police and Fire budget was $7000.00. They answered 1261 phone calls, issued 36 revolver permits, took care of 32 auto accidents, arrested 85 persons, 7 for family neglect, took care of 8 liquor violations and gambling raids. A table listing Police statistics accompanies this brief history. In 1933 Joseph Willette was a reserve officer, he was a big and powerful man who loved to wrestle, certainly an effective lawkeeper. He was to become a brother-in-law to William C. Pierce a future Deputy Chief of the department in the 70’s. George F. dean was Police Chief in 1937, the department performed 16 ambulance runs and 59 hens were reported lost, the budget was $8200 and the Chief’s salary was $1200.00 The 1940 Town Report mentions use of a radio-cruiser which traveled over 40,000 miles. By 1940 the Police Department resided in the new Town Hall on Main Road, answered and transferred all calls for other offices. Roland Massey, Albert Blais, Norman B. Hopkinson and Joseph Cieto the only sergeant were already long term policemen and would continue to be for a long time. In 1950 William C. Pierce was one of the many reserves who would stay with the Department and become full time Policeman. Some would become Chief in the future. Charles Dean resigned as Chief in 1959 ending a 30 year term as Chief. Albert Blais was appointed. By 1960 the cruisers were traveling 100,000 miles. In 1963 tenure was granted to the men of the Department, this is continuing, tenure is achieved after three years. Frederick W. Palmer Jr. was named Police Chief in 1972. In 1973 a detective section was initiated, Patrolman Charles Pierce was appointed to organize and head up this three man section. Single manning of the cruisers was also initiated. Increasing coverage without additional personnel. This and the ambulance transfer were ideas of Patrolman Charles Pierce, implemented by the Board of Selectmen. 1975 witnessed the transfer of ambulance duties to the Fire Department. Fireman Norman Duquette was very instrumental in organizing this operation and greatly enhancing the quality of this service. Fire Chief George Dean also deserves much credit for this highly successful transition. Joseph Arruda Jr. became Police Chief in 1977 replacing Chief Palmer who finished a long tenure as policeman, sergeant and Chief. During 1977 Alan Cieto replaced Deputy Chief William C. Pierce who also ended a long tenure on the Police Department. The new (present) police station was accepted in 1977. Rene D. Dupre took over as Chief in 1979. Rene, another long term policeman replaced Joseph Arruda Jr. Sgt. Charles A. Pierce, another long tenured policeman took over from Rene Dupre in 1984. By 1990 the cruisers were traveling over 300,000 miles per year.
In conclusion, the statement can safely be made that many persons have faithfully served the town as Constables and Policemen. Their contributions to law and order have certainly enhanced the peace of our town. We cannot list them all here but their names are recorded in the annals of our town reports. A review of those names enlightens forgotten memories and cultivates a sense of gratefulness.
SECTION NO 13C
The 1920 report shows expenses for forest fire control of $269.40 administered by Christopher Borden. This expense was under the heading of forestry. There is no evidence of other fire prevention expenses. The 1922 report shows an appropriation of $3000 for Police and Fire. Christopher Borden Jr. took over from his father as Forest Warden in 1924. “Kit” was a powerful, easygoing man of wise and considered counsel, traits which would be discovered by Claude Ledoux in the early 70’s when their friendship developed. “Kit” and his father were both long term town servants in various capacities. The first Fire Department was organized in 1928. It consisted of a Chief Irving C. hammond, a first and second assistant engineers, a Deputy Chief, a Captain, one Lieutenant and 18 men, all volunteers. They answered 14 calls to Building fires and 23 other miscellaneous calls. The Chief recommends households construct cisterns to store a reserve of water. and yearly chimney cleaning. A Fire Truck was also appropriated that year. The first fire station was at Central Village. A second vehicle was added in 1929 with a water carrying capacity of 285 gallons. No number was necessary to call the department. “Just say Westport Fire Department, Emergency” give road, place and name. The town had not grown to have house numbers. A new truck was obtained in 1931 built to Westport specifications. By 1937 the department had a budget of $6000, responded to 24 building fires and answered 134 calls. The department grew slowly throughout the 40’s. Another station was occupied at the Head and a third at Greenwood Park. In 1954, Chief Stanley Gifford supervised 6 permanent men who handled 8 building fires. Lynwood F. Potter replaced Chief Stanley Gifford in 1961. He was supervising 6 long term firemen. Rene Routhier, Alfred Brown, Gilbert Santos, David C. Tripp (father of future Chief William Tripp), Milton B. Reed and Hillman Cunningham. The fire department participated in musters since its beginning. These contests between the departments of nearby localities served to sharpen skills and disseminate knowledge. They were well attended and the competition was good natured, the 1969 report identifies 6 musters. Musters were no longer performed in 1969. Fire Chief Harold Miller was appointed in 1970. In 1970 $107,000 appropriated for construction of the Briggs Road Fire Station. By 1974, the Department assumed responsibility for Ambulance service from the Police department. Chief George Dean with invaluable assistance from Fireman Norman “Duke” Duquette transitioned this service with minimal problems. The Department’s ambulance evolving response with EMT’s and now Paramedics, has been an invaluable asset for our emergency services. The 1974 Fire Budget was $249,000. The department responded to 48 building fires, 258 ambulance calls and was staffed by 14 men. In 1981 Fire Chief George Dean supervised 2 Captains, 2 Lieutenants and 14 permanent men. His salary was $27,000, and the fire budget was $395,000. The Department answered 631 ambulance calls and took care of 26 building fires. By this time the department was also performing many fire prevention duties such as: inspections of; homes, businesses, fuel storage, licensing and education. The effectiveness of all the prevention is apparent in the relatively low number of fires and serious fire related and chemical accidents. Chief William D. Tripp took over from Chief Dean in 1982. In 1990 with a budget of $775,500, Chief Tripp supervised a Deputy Chief, a Captain, 4 Lieutenants, 15 permanent men. 20 call men volunteers were still active. They fought 23 building fires and ran the ambulance 825 times. The 1993 budget was $761,000. 16 permanent men were on duty and 13 call men still participated actively. The Department is now housed in two stations, Briggs Road and Central Village.
SECTION NO. 13D
Brief Historical Review of Westport’s School System During the 1900’s
This subject is worthy of a separate publication. Its coverage here is greatly abbreviated. The yearly school reports are interesting reading.
1900 - 1920. In the year 1900 Mr. Winthrop N. Crocker was superintendent. His salary was $750.00, the school budget was $7200.00. He was in charge of 485 students, 20 teachers primarily housed in 15 small locally sited school houses. The School Committee consisted of three persons, one a woman, Annie E. Sherman. One of two in government, the other was Addie E. Sowle, a library trustee. School enrollment and truant officers enforced the requirement for schooling for children of age 5 to 15. One half of the Superintendents salary was paid by the state and one quarter by Dartmouth. It is interesting to note in 1904, 11 children over the age of 14 were considered illiterate, about 3% of the school population. Alice A. Macomber is listed in the 1908 report as receiving a salary of $357.00 the present Macomber School was named after her. In 1909 a student from 14 to 16 years of age could leave school for work if the student could read and write at a third grade level. In 1910 new drinking fountains and separate cups started to be used in the school, Latin and French were taught in the High School, eye and ear testing was a regular procedure. The 1911 curriculum consisted of: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, History, Spelling, Geography, Physiology, Practical Arts, Agriculture, Music and Drawing. 14 schoolhouses were used in 1911.
In 1912 Mildred Borden is mentioned on the High School Honor Roll. Factory School is a new building, the Horseneck School had 40 pupils in 1914. The 1915 school report is worthwhile reading. High School is a two year process. In 1916 music and drawing programs were started and anemia was found to be prevalent in the system, decayed teeth, heart murmurs and tonsil infections were all problems. Dr. Burt discontinued vaccinations, did not believe in them.
1920 - 1930. In 1920, the School Committee was still three persons. Town Budget $120,000, 12 schools, 23 teachers, one was Milton E. Earle teaching at the Acoaxet school, enrollment was 585, the school budget $43,000 and Superintendent Edward L. Hill reported teachers salaries of $981.00 were not enough to get good teachers. The High School course was now three years and there was a two mile limit for students to walk to school. 1921 saw the end of the school Enrollment Officer position. Truant Officer still existing. In 1922 a Nurse was added to the staff and the High School was a four year school mandated by the state. At the Health Clinic, the dental fees were 25¢ for extraction, 50¢ for fillings, no charge for the poor. Milton Earle became High School principal in 1923, the cost per child was $58.74. In 1924 new teachers were required to be college graduate and a special school was started for slow learners “Retarded in Mental Development”. Overcrowding and transportation were major problems, team sports were organized and the new school physician recommended vaccination. In 1924 the Truant Officer position was eliminated. He was replaced by a Supervisor of Attendance. The School Nurse conducted over 1000 home visits in 1925 and 13 graduated from High School. Milton E. Earle became Superintendent in 1928, there were nine transportation contractors, The Point School was upgraded to inside toilets. The School Committee was also increased to five members in 1928. In 1929 only one single room schoolhouse remained and no more than two grades per room became the rule and University Extension courses were given. In 1929 the Town Budget was $262,769 and the school budget $82,800, the Superintendent salary $2150, there were 922 students and 35 teachers, 11 graduated and 9 schools were operating. School attendance requirements decreased from 40 weeks early in the Century to 180 days.
1930 - 1940. In 1933 salary cuts were imposed on the school system due to depression years budgets. Works Projects Administration funding was made available to the school system during the depression years of the thirties including 1940, after which it was discontinued. The year 1940 graduated 33 students, one was William C., Pierce who distinguished himself in professional baseball and eventually became a Deputy Police Chief during the 1970’s. A lifelong farmer Bill and his wife Edna operate Berry Hill Farm on Pine Hill Road. Milton E. Earle was superintendent of nine schools in 1940, the Nurse position was fixed firmly in the system. The School budget was $70,000, the town budget was $241,000, Alice Macomber retired after more than 32 years and Audrey Tripp originated the “School Open House” periods.
1940 - 1950. In 1941, Harold Wood was in charge of the Vocational Agricultural program. Children learned about the risks of air attacks and Clayton Emery graduated. He went on to distinguish himself as a pilot during the war. In 1942 Marjorie Brightman Holden, a future Selectman, Walter O. Wood, Jr. a future Board of Health Agent, Calvin Hopkinson and Edward Pettengill, later a future World War II pilot, graduated. In 1948 planning for a new high school at “Gifford’s Corner” was authorized. A course in driver training started in 1949, Jim Francis a future School Superintendent and Carlton Lees a future town Counsel graduated. In 1950, the town budget was $661,000 taxation was $372,000, $117,805 was for eight schools, 36 teachers were employed, 907 students attended school (including 7 Ledoux’s), 30 graduated including Lincoln Tripp a future Town Historian. Audrey Tripp was praised by the State Supervisor of Elementary Education for the high standards of grades 1 - 8. The new High School was approved at a cost of $800,000.00 and Harold Wood was appointed High School principal. The State mandated teacher salary levels. The Superintendent salary was $5113. The School Superintendent was Milton E. Earle. The School Committee members included Alford Dyson and Phil Manchester. Manchester was a long time Selectmen and Dyson was to become an able and long serving town Selectman and Housing Authority Member.
1951 - 1960. 1951 was the year of Milton Earle’s last Superintendent report ending a career which started as a teacher in 1920. School Nurse Lydia Mason continued to serve a very important function in a patient and proficient manner. Audrey Tripp was promoted to principal of the “Village School”, now the “Earle School”. Many rooms had more than 20 students per room. In 1953 a Guidance Department was started at the High School. In 1954, 33% of the graduates went on to higher education. In 1958, Milton Earle returned to the School Superintendency, taking over from Sydney Pierce, an excellent teacher of many years and Superintendent for three years. Mr. Pierce accepted a better Superintendent position on Cape Cod. The Alice Macomber School was completed in 1955. The State mandated a teacher salary of $3000. In 1957 the School report mentions, there is too much time spent on few students who have no desire to learn and cause disturbance, such students should be let out at the age of 16. In 1958 Milton Earle ended his last tenure as School Superintendent. In 1960 Laurence A. Fogg was Superintendent with a salary of $9800, the Town Budget was $600,000, there were 6 schools, 69 teachers, 1509 students and 55 graduates. Teachers salaries were $5800 for Bachelor degrees and $6050 for Masters.
1960 - 1970. Audrey Tripp outlined “7 Goals of Learning” in 1961. A comparison to the present goals is interesting. Charles Peirce a future Police Chief graduated in 1961. The 1962 report provides great insight. In 1963, Diman became a Regional Vocational/Technical school, the death of President Kennedy affected the school children. Audrey Tripp “Improvement in Education is concerted investment in the individual - not in a proliferation of programs and projects”. 1965 saw the school veering to impersonal solutions; mass grouping, standard curriculums, squeezing individuals into common molds. A Psychologist and a Phsycometrist were hired. 1966 was the last report of Laurence A Fogg as Superintendent. Sporadic faddishness in education is mentioned. Milton Earle died in September. The 1968 report quotes Audrey Tripp “Education, like the whole of modern Society is on a downward spiral”. In 1970 Nicholas F. Cariglia was superintendent, 2 nurses were on staff, there were 102 teachers, 2022 students, 81 graduates, the school budget was $1,331,500, town budget $2,905,000. There were 4 schools, the Superintendent salary was $21,000.
1971 - 1980. In 1970 the Middle School was constructed. Superintendent Cariglia died in 1971. Lynwood E. Clarke was appointed. In 1974, James F. Francis a native son was appointed Superintendent, a Business Manager was appointed and three nurses were now on staff. The student population was 2557 with 177 teachers. In 175, there were 7 schools, 181 teachers, 2625 students. In 1977 the new Elementary School was occupied. The Point and Greenwood Park Schools were closed. 186 teachers taught 2660 students in 5 schools. Ruth M. Collins retired after 49 years as a School Department Clerk The School budget was $3,746,000. 1978 was the peak year in student population at 2669. the School budget of $3,751,000 was offset by state refunds of $1,410,000 resulting in taxation of $2,314,000 for schools. The Director of Student Personal Services position was created. Superintendent James Francis was replaced by Patrick A. Saccoso in 1980 when the school budget was $5,880,900, there were 211 teachers, 5 schools, 2546 students, 128 graduates and the town budget was $9,308,000.
1981 - Present. The Public School Improvement act of 1985 (Ch 188) dictated some changes in the school system. Margo Desjardins was named Teacher of the Year in 1986 and many school improvements were reported, there were 260 special needs students in the schools from a total of 2016. 1987 management consisted of: Superintendent, a Business Manager, a Director of Curriculum, a Director of Pupil Personal Services, a Director of Special Needs, four Principals, 8 support personnel in the Superintendent’s office, 3 School Nurses, 20 Custodians, support staff at each school, cafeteria personnel. 170 teachers and 8 paraprofessionals taught 1908 students. A fourth Nurse was added to the Staff in 1989, 318 or 17% of the students were special needs,. Edmie Bibeau retired after 37 years, Richard Rego after 26 and Richard Condon after 22 years as teachers.
1990 brought a town budget of $15,040,700 with taxation of $8,407,050. The Superintendent was Margot Desjardins. The School budget $7,534,200, 1804 students attended 4 schools, 18% of them were special needs. There were 157 teachers and the state reimbursed $2,900,000, 81 graduated.
1991 - 1993. The system is now called “Westport Community Schools. During 1992 the teacher complement of 130 included; 1 Health, 2 Psychologists, 2 Special Pathologists, 1 Speech Therapist, 1 Early Childhood Speech, 4 Special Government Projects, 6 Guidance, 17 Special Needs. The teachers were assisted by 15 paraprofessionals and supported by 9 clerks, 15 janitors, 17 cafeteria personnel and 4 school nurses. The Superintendent was supported by a Business Manager, one Director of Pupil Personal Services, 7 Administrative staff, four Principals and one school physician. There were 1823 students of which 365 were special education. Mr. Marcel Marchand retired after 36 years as a teacher.
List of Superintendents during the Century
1900 Winthrop N. Crocker
1904 A. P. Carr
1906 Albert S. Cole
1915 William A. Millington
1919 Edward L. Hill
1931 Milton E. Earle
1951 Sydney Pierce
1954 Milton E. Earle
1958 Laurence A. Fogg
1970 Nicholas F. Cariglia
1974 James F. Francis
1980 Patrick Soccorso
1990 Margot desJardins
SECTION NO. 13E
THE WESTPORT BOARD OF HEALTH
The Westport Board of Health began reporting early in the Century (1903). Its three members, Albert S. Sherman, George E. Handy and John D. Topper M.D. were and would continue to be active in town affairs. They appointed Town Clerk Edward L. Macomber as their agent. They reported 12 cases of measles and eight of typhoid, their report stated that the Factory Village water was found to be making people sick.
1904 - 1925. Albert S. Sherman was recognized for having served 18 years on the Board. In 1908 the Board made 6 appointments and reported an unusually high incidence of measles, 46 cases. In 1909 Inspectors of meats were appointed and the Board licensed two undertakers. Diphtheria, meningitis and tuberculosis were reported. The Board published instructions for TB patients. The year 1910 saw a second doctor join the Board, Dr. Edward W. Burt. Dr. Burt and his wife, Roby, would continue to be long term servants of the town in various offices. 110 cases of measles were reported as well as 11 cases of polio. The Board set a goal for 1911, to rid Horseneck Beach of pigs, manure and swill. Contaminated wells were found in 1912, free vaccinations were offered, and the Board made a policy not to respond to anonymous complaints. Dr. Tupper left office in 1912. That year also brought the necessity of a town isolation hospital. In 1916, the Board started issuance of swill licenses, the fee was $1.00, the Board also offered a series of Health lectures at the Head church. 128 cases of flu were reported in 1918. There were 199 influenza cases in 1919 and 63 cases of measles. Dr. Charles A. Hicks joined the Board in 1920, a puzzling new rule was enacted, prohibiting the storage of sea weed within 1000 feet of a dwelling during the Summer. The State mandated licensing of garbage transporters in 1922, 16 were issued in Westport attesting to the prevalent raising of pigs. The County TB Hospital assessment was $2670 in 1923. This hospital, in Lakeville, would later be used for the treatment and care of polio victims. George A. Tripp, a three term member passed away. In 1924, the Board began receiving the assistance of a District Nurse who made 1350 home visits and appealed for garments, towels and linen. This Nurse was provided by the Red Cross. This began a long tradition of effective and dedicated nursing service which has continuously expanded and contributed greatly to the health of Westporters. The Nursing services increased to 4073 visits in 1925, including 849 for social services.
1926 - 1952. 240 Sanitary inspections were conducted, the Fall River Lions Club donated towards a summer camp and Union Hospital (now Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River) granted much help to the district nurse. In 1928, insurance companies started to compensate for the costs of nursing services provided by the Town welfare system. Sybil Mercer RN reported 2022 home visits in 1929, extensive coverage considering there were approximately 1450 dwellings in Westport. A dental clinic was started in 1931 which would be long lived and very beneficial to the School children.. Social and economic problems are noted, a by-product of the depression. 21 TB cases and 154 communicable disease cases were reported. Nurse Mercer reported 3568 visits. Numerous clinics were held in 1933, such clinics continue to be held. Mrs. Mercer received clothing for distribution. 7 Polio cases were reported in 1935. The Dump at Horseneck was being used in 1937. It is worthwhile to note, each farm had its own dumping site, many of which can be uncovered today. As the Town grew and the number of farms decreased, these sites were gradually abandoned and the Town had to expand its public dump sites. The Horseneck site was an early location. The year 1941 was a busy one, the Board started to issue milk licenses. Sybil Mercer RN needed the assistance of Grace DeAndrade RN and Elizabeth Davis RN, numerous clinics continued to be held and 12 cases of syphilis were reported. Nurse consultations with Dr. Burt numbered 298. Dr. Burt left the Board in 1946 after having served numerous terms at intermittent intervals. Edward L. Macomber left the Board in 1948 after having served 24 consecutive years. Grace DeAndrade, married to Frank DeAndrade, was put in charge of the Nursing department in 1945 following the death of Sybil Mercer. A survey by the State Department of Public Health found 25 locations dumping raw sewage into the river in 1952. They threatened shellfish closures if the violations were not remedied. The Board adopted a by-law requiring a permit from the Board before a building permit could be issued. 1952 also was the last year of tenure of Charles R. Wood, a position he had held since 1924.
1953 - 1974. 100 sewage permits were issued, 25 remediation of discharges into water bodies were reported, numerous clinics were continuing, including the dental clinic. The 8 children from the newly emigrated Ledoux family were greatly helped by the clinics. Regular medical check-ups were not economically feasible for the family. As an example, our mother, like many others, made shirts, dresses and undergarments from colorful grain bag cloth. The Health system was good, considerate and worked well. Nursing visits continued to number above 2500. Salk vaccine clinics began in 1955. 1956 brought the closing of the infirmary at the Poor Farm, a function of the Public Welfare Department. Harry Morrison a World War II veteran and town veterans agent finished his third term on the Board and was replaced by Willis L. Tripp. Mary Hart, destined to serve on the nursing department for many years as a nurse and nurse supervisor joined Grace DeAndrade. Frank White, from the Portuguese Blanco, was appointed dump caretaker in 1961. A colorful and hardworking man he performed the job well and supplemented his income by collecting trash and picking the dump, a privilege reserved for him due to his low rate of pay. Frank greeted everyone in a courteous manner in heavily accented English and with an ever present cheap cigar in his mouth. He made crude shacks from dump construction refuse to use as shelters from the sun and weather. Pranksters would burn them down, and he would remind everyone of his misfortune the next day. Many of us remember Frank fondly and miss his cheerful greetings. Having once been bit by a dog, Frank bit and severely lacerated the dog’s ear. Grace DeAndrade retired after 15 years as Nursing Supervisor in 1961. Mary Hart took over the reins. The Board made 12 appointments in 1965. 3790 nursing visits were made in 1966, Mary Hart was assisted by 3 other nurses and the Nursing Department became state certified. The position of Slaughter Inspector was terminated in 1970. A function which would now be State supervised. Antone Vieira had held this Board appointed position for 25 years. Dr. Bernard Wieser, dentist, was formally recognized in 1973 for his 27 years of dedicated dental service clinics. Walter R. “Bob” Wood, a Board member since 1962 started a long stint as Board of Health Agent, in 1974. He would hold that position until 1993. Charles Costa left the Board to become Selectman in 1971, he had been a Board member for 15 years. The North Watuppa Pond had been plagued with algeal blooms for a few years, a problem for the Board. The solution was Copper Sulplate treatments and efforts were started to remedy the nitrogen nourishment, from sewage, which was feeding the algae.
1975 - 1993. In 1976, a lagoon site, proposed by the Board, to dispose of the town septage pump outs, created considerable controversy. The site in close proximity to the River’s East Branch was opposed by many. It prompted the formation of the River Defense Fund, later to become the Westport Rivers Watershed Alliance (WRWA). This proposal was eventually defeated and town septic pump outs continued to go to the Fall River sewage treatment plant. 135 cases of chickenpox were reported in 1977. Four full-time nurses were appointed in 1977. Lois Montigny assumed leadership of the Nursing Department in 1981. Mary Hart retired after 20 years as Supervisor. The nurses performed 6300 visits. There were 6 nurses appointed in 1987. Kenneth Sullivan lost the election in 1989 after serving four terms. Doris Mello resigned from the Nursing Department in 1989. Ken Sullivan returned to serve another term in 1990. In 1993, the Board made 30 appointments, the 6 nurses assisted by 2 clerks, 3 home aides. Nurses conducted 3295 visits, the aides 3443 visits, many clinics were held and they collected $262,395 in fees. Reported diseases were 113 chicken pox, 1 5th disease, 2 campylobacter. Some measure of the health of Westporters can be gleaned from a tabulation of the average age of death.
Average age at death of Westport residents in the 1900’s
The average age computation does not include children under the age of 5 or stillborn babies. These statistics are a good indication of the general health of the towns population throughout the years.
Average age throughout the century: 66 years
SECTION NO. 13F
ABBREVIATED HISTORY OF THE SHELLFISH DEPARTMENT
Shellfishing activities have always been important to area residents. The Native Americans of our coastal regions never had to worry about starvation. Bountiful, nourishing harvests of fish, crustaceans and shellfish could be obtained with little effort. They promoted growth of berries and game by yearly systematic burnings which restricted the forest areas to the wetter sections of the land. The early colonists especially prized the oysters. This is substantiated by the numerous regulations of that fishery which are written in the early records. The people and methods of Westport fisheries are deserving of a separate book. Many independent, hardy Westporters have gleaned a hard living from local and ocean waters. Relatively few remain who are working the River on a full time basis.
A brief review of the Shellfish Department history gives some insight of the River harvests.
The department began in 1947. Mr. George W. Hart was appointed Shellfish Constable. George was Russell Hart’s father. Russell has continued his family’s fishing tradition and has maintained a lobstering enterprise out of the Point docks. George found 281 persons shellfishing who were nonresidents. He planted 105 bushels of seed oysters, 61 bushels of clams and 25 bushels of quahogs. 700 bushels of scallops were caught in 1949. In 1950 five persons were convicted of illegal shellfishing and the seed planting consisted of 250 bushels of quahogs as well as other seeds. Shells were planted to promote catching of oyster spat. Estimated catch in bushels was 3000 quahogs, 1800 oysters, 50 clams, 639 family permits were issued. 2000 bushels of scallops were harvested in 1951. In 1952 the State Department of Public Health found 25 sources of sewage emptying into tidal waters and notified the Board of Health to remedy the situation or the result would be closing of the Rivers to the taking of the shellfish. This problem was quickly remediated by swift Board of Health action. Robert W. Jeffrey became Shellfish Constable in 1953. George Hart returned to the position in 1955. Only 200 bushels of scallops were harvested in 1956 and the department started a starfish dredging program for predation control. Shell bags were set in 1959 to catch oyster spat. George Hart resigned in 1959 and Donald Sherman was appointed. The shellfish budget was $3600. Mention of silt and slime spoiling oyster beds . Albert A. Palmer was appointed in 1960 beginning a long tenure as Shellfish Constable. An experimental oyster raft was set out. Another duty of the office was promotion of safe boat traffic. Oyster seed was purchased in 1961 and liming of the River was done at the rate of 52 tons over 12 acres. This procedure apparently to reduce acidity. Starfish dredging continued as well as setting out of oyster bags. By 1976 the Shellfish budget had increased to $26,000. David Roach took over the reins from Albert Palmer in 1981, this ended a 21 year tenure for “Alb”. 1985 brought an overwhelming scallop crop of 59,500 bushels. Gary Sherman assumed the position of Shellfish Constable in 1988. His report of 1990 gives a good synopsis of the fishery status. In 1993 extensive seeding programs were continuing. Intermittent closures due to rainfall are the norm. The closure procedure was painfully worked out with the State Department of Marine Fisheries as a result of many pollution studies which took place since the mid 1970’s. The closures are triggered by a fecal coliform count of 14 which is the Department of Environmental Protection’s figure for closure of shellfish harvests. An exhaustive explanation of these processes can be found in the reports of the Town’s Shellfish and Health Departments starting in the early 1950’s. A review of the accompanying catch reports highlights the cyclical nature of the scallop fishery and the changes in the types of shellfish harvests during the last 45 years. In 1993 the Shellfish budget had grown to $50,000.
SHELLFISH CATCH SINCE 1949
CATCH IN BUSHELS
SHELLFISH DEPARTMENT SEED AND SHELL TRANSPLANTS
PLANTINGS IN BUSHELS
SECTION NO. 13G
HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT EVOLUTION DURING THE 1900’S
At the turn of the Century, Peleg S. Sanford Jr. was the Single Highway Surveyor, with a $10,000 budget. The town roads were mostly narrow dirt wagon paths, except for some of the more heavily traveled North End roads such as Old Bedford Road. The road network essentially consisted of 4 major North-South arteries and 4 major East West arteries. The Single surveyor hired men to perform road work approved by the Town Meeting. A major repair in 1900 was Hix Bridge to the tune of $6,286. Modernizing of roads was already being done. This process, macademizing, consisted of spreading crushed stone over the road bed and covering it with tar. The surveyor elections were on a yearly basis. The position see-sawed regularly. The Surveyors had their supporters who would be hired if their man was elected, or replaced by new men if they lost the election. This practice continued until the early 60’s when Selectman Frank DeAndrade spearheaded employment tenure for Highway employees. A privilege later extended to other employees. An important part of highway maintenance was the crushing of the stone. Crushers were set up as near as possible to the work sites to minimize the cost of material transportation which was done by horse teams.
The 1912 report shows an expense of $58.00 for 29,000 pounds of coal. An indication of steam power usage most likely for crusher power. 14 horse teams were hired that year and approximately 70 men were paid for labor. One team of horses, man and cart earned $4.00 per day, roughly $60.00 in today’s dollars. There were 110 miles of road in 1915, compared to today’s 140 miles (State Highways not included). By 1920 the Highway Surveyor salary was $1825, there were nine roads being worked, the crusher plant was active, a tar account was maintained, snow bills were $3200 and the department purchased a Mack truck for $6500. 1933 saw the coming of the Public Works Administration which greatly accelerated road and drainage work, River dredging was also done, 171 men were employed that year. This WPA help lasted until 1942 when the war effort provided many jobs and the program was discontinued. By 1930 the department had permanent men and paid $5654 in wages. By the year 1940 the state provided aid to modernize roads. This aid is provided to the present and is known as Chapter 90. There were no Highway Surveyor reports in the annual reports until Russell T. Hart became surveyor. He served from 1971 to 1990 and experienced the first reduction in funding when the 2½ tax cap was felt by the Department in 1980.
At present, (1995) the Department is operating with a reduced force from its peak of 18 permanent men in 1980. Its level funded budget has restricted its need for purchasing of capital items such as: trucks, backhoes, etc. Surveyor Paul Pereira has applied for an override of the 2½ tax limit, in the form of Election Ballot Exclusions. The 1995 election denied the exclusion requests. It is a certainty that budget constraints will continue to plague this department as well as others. The State mandated Education funding is restricting the budgets of all the other town services.
YEAR HIGHWAY SURVEYOR BUDGET SURVEYOR
1900 Peleg S. Sanford Jr. 10,000 0
1910 Robert A. Gifford 20,600 0
1920 Charles S. Haskell 71,000 1875
1930 Charles S. Haskell 58,000 2200
1940 Charles S. Haskell 44000 1500
1950 Elton C. Tripp 51000 2600
1961 Zulmino Rodrigues 164000 4600
1970 Frederick Cambra 171000 9000
1980 Russell T. Hart 444000 18741
1990 Russell T. Hart 622287 36626
1993 Paul T. Pereira 624000 39007
SECTION NO. 13H
REVIEW OF THE SMALLER OFFICES; DUTIES, CONTRIBUTIONS AND LIFESPANS
All of the lesser government functions contribute to the welfare of the town. Town functioning would be adversely affected without the diligent discharge of their respective duties.
Auditors. This board was in effect at the beginning of the Century. Its charge was to oversee the financial record keeping of all town offices and provide a report to the town meeting. There were many discrepancies uncovered, usually of a minor nature, mostly honest mistakes. They were easily rectified. One exception was that of Charles H. Gifford in 1928. Mr. Gifford was treasurer and collector of taxes. His personal use of town funds was discovered and an exhaustive auditing was required to establish the magnitude of this illegal activity. The Board of Auditors was succeeded by the Town Accountant during the late 1920’s. Elmer B. Manchester was appointed in 1929 and held the position until 1966. Katherine Benoit is the present accountant. The town’s books are subject to periodic review from state inspectors. The auditors and Accountant are appointed by the Board of Selectmen on a yearly basis.
Assessors. This Board consists of three persons. It was in effect at the turn of the Century and it still functions with three people. Their duties are to assess taxes on Real and Personal property. This office has grown in response to the increasing complexities of their duties. The recent advent of 100% market valuations has defined the methods of performing this duty. Their Annual Report provides insight into the town’s growth. This is an elected Board for three year terms.
Town Clerk. This three year term elected position was in existence in 1900. Its most notable office holders were Edward L. Macomber who served from 1898 to 1951, and Elmer B. Manchester from 1951 to 1974. Town Clerks are the keepers of Town records, issue permits and licenses and serve as a member of the Board of Registrars. Marlene Sampson is the present clerk. It is noteworthy that Elmer B. was also Accountant from 1929 to 1966.
Registrars of Voters. This three member Board is appointed by the Selectmen. They assist the Town Clerk who is automatically a Registrar. Their duties are to insure proper voter registration, direct the operation of the polls during elections and oversee town meeting attendance and balloting procedures.
Overseers of the Poor and Welfare Board. Concern for the poor is evident in the earliest town reports. In 1900 this concern had been translated into a well established structure. Appropriations maintained an Almshouse at the present poor farm site which was then referred to as the town farm. Aid was dispensed from this site. The 1901 report gives 10 receiving aid in, and 22 others out of the Almshouse, appropriation was $3000. The town farm was rented to David A. King. Almshouse inmates who were able helped with the Farm chores. A three person board of overseers decided who would get aid and the amount of that aid. During 1928 the Board was renamed Board of Public Welfare. More rules and state aid were enacted throughout the years. Two of the most notable members of both Boards were Samuel A. Boan (Boan Farm) and Roby C. Burt, wife of Dr. Burt, both prominent members of the community. Their reputation of thriftiness, and long tenure, is still remembered by many. In 1954, the Board dispensed aid for General Welfare, Aid to Dependent Children, Disability Assistance, and Old Age Assistance. The Board of Public Welfare was terminated in 1967 when the State took over their function. The Poor Farm site was also used as an infirmary from the late 1920’s to 1956 which provided much aid to convalescents who could not afford hospital care. There is an interesting story, told by Frank De Andrade, about an Almshouse resident one “Birdie” Peckham. Being somewhat retarded Birdie was not able to provide for himself and therefore was a long term resident. He was asked by the Town Farm Supervisor to clean the Barn, a task the superintendent felt did not require supervision. When he returned he discovered that Birdie had taken all harnesses, tools and equipment and disposed of them through the manure disposal trap door. An event which allowed Birdie many leisure hours in the following years.
Miscellaneous Boards and Officers. Many administrative and regulatory functions are self explanatory. Most are listed below along with their time of tenure. They all contributed to the town’s welfare in various ways and were staffed by dedicated townspeople. Focused and specialized committees were appointed beginning in the early 1970’s and increasing in number to a veritable crescendo during the 1990’s. The listing does not enumerate such committees but does cover offices of administrative rather than advisory nature.
Some dates are approximate due to sketchiness of some records.
Office Start End
Cemetery Superintendent Prior to 1900 Continuing
Treasurer “ “
Collector of Taxes “ “
Fish Commissioners “ “
Library Trustees “ “
Librarian “ “
Constables “ “
Landing Commission “ “
Fence Viewers “ “
Drawtender Point Bridge “ 1963
Tree Warden “ 1980
Sealer of Weights and Measures “ “
Surveyors of Lumber
and Measurers of Wood & Bark “ 1957
Field Drivers “ 1923
Inspector of Animals “ Continuing
Forest Firewarden “ 1911
Superintendent of Town Farm “ 1935
Janitor of Town Hall “ Continuing
Slaughter Inspector 1912 1970
Milk Inspector 916 1937
Conservation Commission 1967 Continuing
Soil Board 1967 Continuing
Planning Board 1956 Continuing
Public Weighers 1912 Continuing
Forest Warden 1912 1973
Moth Superintendent 1914 1973
Dog Pound Keeper 1920 1923
Town Counsel 1937 Continuing
Dog Officer 1937 Continuing
Veterans Agent 1937 Continuing
Gas Inspector 1965 Continuing
Wire Inspector 1957 Continuing
Wharfinger 1955 Continuing
Council on Aging 1972 Continuing
Board of Appeals 1961 Continuing
Historical Commission 1973 Continuing
Personnel Board 1968 Continuing
Rations Board 1973 1981
Regional School Committee 1967 Continuing
Housing Authority 1969 Continuing
Board of Commissioners of Trust Funds 1976 Continuing
Selectmen Administrative Assistant 1976 Continuing
Civil Defense Director 1971 Continuing
Harbormaster 1947 Continuing
Plumbing Inspector 1978 Continuing
Board of Survey 1960 Continuing
SECTION NO. 14
COST OF SERVICES DURING THE CENTURY
Costs of town services must be evaluated in relation to demographics. Such comparison provides insight into the financial burden of providing services. The following tables should help provide the needed perspective. Inflation can be corrected using the corrections specified in Section No. 12.
For reference the fiscal 1996 budget breakdown is listed below. The figures are from early March 1995 preliminary submittals and may not be exactly as voted at subsequent town meetings.
Salaries of Elected Officials 205,488
Salaries of 152 Town Employees 3,913,042
Salaries of 241 School Employees 8,046,398
Budget Articles 1,241,500
Warrant Articles 1,332,000
Expenses (assuming level funding) 1,416,518
2½ Limit Total 16,047,985
Receipts from fees and licenses 1,812,300
State Aid 3,511,924
Free Cash 300,000
Available Funds 149,121
An interesting deduction can be made from the statistics provided.
Fiscal Year 96 school budget when all relevant costs are included except for the school debt.
Divided by the number of students,
Cost per student, including state aid; $5555
Valuation required to defray cost of 1 child in the system
$5555 ¸ 9.00/1000 (approximate tax rate) = $617,000
Since each dwelling is occupied by approximately 0.4 children attending Westport Schools
617,000 multiplied by 0.4 = 246,800
Therefore a household valuation of $247,000 will cover the cost of schooling for that households contribution of one child to the school system. Since school costs are approximately 63% of the total budget, the valuation must be increased by 37% to cover the cost of other town services or $338,116.
The tax burden is shared among 8100 separate billings
16,047,000 ¸ 8100 = $1980 per tax bill
which equates to a valuation of 1980 ¸ 8.80 = $225,000.
This lower valuation from 338,000 to 220,000 is indicative of taxed entities which do not contribute children to the school system. These are businesses, families without children, vacant lands or personal property taxations. Good town planning should consider promoting these tax categories instead of high density residential development.
SECTION NO. 15
SUMMARY OF WESTPORT STATISTICS AT THE END OF THE CENTURY
Land Area: 53 square miles, 33,900 acres
Water Area: 3325 acres
West River: 1238 acres, 228 acres marsh
283,750,000 cubic feet water volume
East River: 1987 acres
775 acres marshland
357,568,000 cubic feet water volume
State Beach: 321 acres
Pond Areas: 1800 acres (estimated)
Town Lands: 670 Acres
Conservation Restricted Land: 280 acres
Agricultural Preservation Restricted: 938 acres
Developed Roads: 140 miles, (665 acres)
Developed Land: 3696 acres *
Development Restricted Areas: 200 acres Ø
Undevelopable Land: 2000 acres n
Wetland area (approx.): 10,000 acres x
Remaining for build out (approx.): 10,000 acres
No. lots available for build out:
10000¸2= approximately 5000 buildable lots
(2 acres/lot including roads)
Dairy Farms: 15
Dairy Cows: 3000
Beef Cows: 400
Farm Parcels: 170 chapter 61A Farm Land
Board of Selectmen, Town meeting
State Representative, Edward Lambert
State Senator, Thomas C. Norton
Federal Representative, Peter Blute
District Attorney, Paul Walsh
Primary In-Town Occupations
Farming, fishing, motor vehicle sales and repairs, variety of service related businesses, restaurants, tourism, manufacturing.
Veterans: American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled America Veterans, Viet Nam Veterans.
Watuppa Grange, Noquochoke Grange, Masons, Lions, Westport Business to Business, Westport River Watershed Alliance, Westport Farmers Association, Westport Fisherman’s Association, Westport Women’s Club
Zoning: Residential, Commercial and Unrestricted
Board of Health, Nursing Department, private practices of doctors and dentists, Westport Apothecary
The 1993 population was 13,485, 261 persons per square mile
Westport Community Schools, K - 12
The Fiscal Year 94 valuation was $1,107,918,323.
Budget Fiscal Year 96 (Preliminary)
In 1993, there were 980 boats berthed in Westport.
There were 15,600 cars in 1993. Three per household.
Age of the Population
20% of the population is over 60.
Approximately 160 miles
Item No. Value
1 Family dwellings 4707 830,254,043
Condominiums 14 2,783,400
Miscellaneous Residential 150 52,200,900
2 Family Dwellings 246 38,553,100
3 Family Dwellings 14 2,386,000
4 or more family dwellings 26 5,577,400
Vacant Land 1165 78,210,700
Open Space 218 4,676,200
Commercial 248 64,048,300
Industrial 20 4,859,600
Forest Chapter 61 16 189,660
Agricultural Chapter 61A 227 7,315,845
Recreational Chapter 61B 15 4,890,100
Mixed, commercial/residential 20 3,554,300
Personal property 990 22,161,383
TOTAL VALUATION 1,121,600,931
* Assumes ½ of road frontage to be developed in ½ acre plots of 100 feet frontage as an average.
140 miles = 739201 feet of frontage
½ developed, 70 miles = 369601 feet of frontage.
369,601 ÷ 100 = 7392 lots
at ½ acre per lot = 3696 acres.
s Devol, Sawdy, S. Watuppa, Quicksand, miscellaneous small ponds scattered throughout town.
Ø Land in vicinity of water bodies. Estimated to be approximately ¼ area of water bodies, and non-taxable land.
n Ledge or land locked parcels or economically impractical to develop.
X Estimated to be ½ of area available for development. ½ of 20,000 acres or 10,000 acres.
Note: Exhaustive statistical information can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Commerce. Westport information is contained in Tables 1 through 4 of number 1990 CPH_L_83.
SECTION NO. 16 - SYNOPSIS OF THE MAJOR ISSUES AND PROBLEMS FACING WESTPORT AT THE END OF THE CENTURY
A. Budgetary and Funding.
Using budget figures the proposed budgets for Fiscal Year 96 (July 1, 1995 to July 1, 1996) is $16,047,985. This figure is the 2½ tax limit mandated by state law for Westport. Additional budget requirements of approximately $780,000 were proposed and defeated. A rough breakdown follows:
16,047,985 2½ limit
- 3,511,924 anticipated state funding
- 1,961,421 Receipts, free cash, available funds
10,574,640 raised by taxation.
This tax burden is shared by 7059 real estate entities and 995 personal property entities. Personal property revenues are $198,000. Tax burden is approximately 10,376,640 ¸ 7059 = $1470, average property tax burden for each parcel other than personal property.
The cost of schooling approximately 1800 children is about $10.0 million when all pertinent costs are added. This is offset by about $2.0 million of state aid for schools which equates to a town cost of roughly $8,000,000.00, or $4444 per pupil. Dividing $4444 by the tax rate, $8.80/1000, 4667 ¸ 8.88 = 525, this is the valuation required in thousands, for taxation to cover the costs of one child in the school system. It is obvious that a large influx of relatively low valuation housing units could have a drastic effect on the town’s already strained economics. The directions taken by the Planning Board will greatly affect this problem.
Considering that only $6,000,000 is left in the treasury after subtracting salaries from the total budget and insurance costs are $1,000,000 only $5,000,000 remain available to defray the expense costs of approximately 56 departments and line items.
The above indicate a permanent need from debt exclusions or overrides on a yearly basis. This is causing and will continue to cause disagreements, divisions and much hardship on segments of the population whose income is not keeping up with inflation. Town finances are certain to be one of the major issues and the solution will not be simple or quick. It is obvious that the financial dilemma must be solved before the town’s infrastructure needs can be addressed.
The figures used are from the preliminary budget submittals for Fiscal Year 96. The actual 96 budget figures may differ slightly but the magnitude of the problem is essentially unchanged.
At the end of the century, Westport town buildings are generally adequate to house its various departments. But many of them need extensive repairs. The budget shortfalls have prevented effecting the repairs in a timely manner. Exclusions have been used to pay for some emergency repairs and more exclusions are in the offing to continue this much needed task.
Restoration of the Earle school, directed by a volunteer committee began in earnest in 1993 and is continuing at present. Most of this work was done at no expense to the town and is now performed and coordinated by the Community Center Committee. These efforts have permitted the use of the school as a Town Hall Annex to provide much needed space for departments who had outgrown their quarters.
Repairs and updates to the Town Hall will be done with funding obtained from a federal grant. The grant was obtained in early 1995, through the efforts of Congressman Peter Blute . These updates will make the town hall handicapped accessible and will bring it in conformance with the law.
The Federal grant obtained through the efforts of Congressman Blute also provided funding for the conversion of the abandoned Head School to a Senior Center.
Continuing the needed repairs and updates will remain a major problem. It is unlikely that federal funding will continue to be adequate to assume this burden.
Capital items such as equipment and vehicle replacements and upgrades to new technology will also be hampered by budget shortfalls.
Much needed pollution abatement measures will not be possible without Federal and State funding such as:
Water along Route 6
Water branching to areas adjacent to Route 6
Localized water supply for isolated congested areas such as the Point
Localized sewage treatment for isolated congested areas where high pollution exists
Sewage along Route 6 with branching to adjacent areas
Stormwater run-off filtration
Clean-up of localized pollution sources
Items 1 and 2 are the most pressing due to the Davis Rd. contaminated water problem.
C. Town Economic Trends
In 1995, most of Westport’s citizens are economically capable of maintaining their homes. Some are at the lower end of the economic scale bordering on the poverty level, an appreciable amount are at the upper end of the scale and the majority are working and middle class. Obviously Westport’s economic well being is highly dependent on the financial health of the surrounding area as well as that of the Region and County. World influences such as oil shortages and wars also have an effect. There is no local control of these external events, neighborly cooperation is the best and only alternative to getting by in rough times. This has been a great help in the past. Hopefully it will continue. At the local level changes in farming are unlikely to harm the overall economic contribution of that activity. However, regulations related to farming will have to be worked out carefully to prevent a reversal of Westport’s farming prominence.
The decline of fishing stocks is bound to have an effect on our local fleet. Promoting the fleets welfare will require maintenance of adequate dock space and periodic dredging to allow safe transit between the docks and the ocean. Continuing the clean-up of pollution sources to reduce the coliform counts in the Rivers will promote more shellfishing time which is likely to deplete the shellfish resources. A shellfish management plan is long overdue and should be given high priority.
Much of Westport’s revenue is derived from businesses and some industry. Future regulations will need to be carefully crafted to preserve this tax base and promote its expansion.
Overtaxation of the residential tax base, the source of most of the towns revenues will be a continuing danger. This is sure to cause much hardship on the segments of the population who are on fixed incomes or at the lower levels of the economic ladder. This dilemma will continue to be a source of major problems in the future.
Promoting a bigger business tax base is highly desirable but will prove to be largely unsuccessful due to the competitive advantage of our neighbors. Fall River, New Bedford and Dartmouth have all made extensive investments and are well established in this area. Finding a suitable niche while not impossible will border on the unachievable.
The unpredictable events of the next century, driven by a mushrooming world overpopulation and dwindling resources will undoubtedly bring many changes and hardships to Westport.
D. Protection of Waterways, Rivers and Ponds
The importance of the town’s waterbodies to our well-being cannot be overstated. Past and present water pollution problems in the South Watuppa Pond and the Rivers will continue to require intelligent remediation measures. Vigilance and enforcement of rules and regulations will continue to be necessary to prevent further deterioration. Present measurements showing decreasing pollution levels indicate a possible reversal. But the final solution is not likely to ever be attained due to the extent of the Watershed areas, the volumes of water involved and the development within the watershed. Dredging of the Rivers and Ponds is necessary to their usage. Vast areas of our water bodies, particularly our rivers are in the process of becoming swamps and bogs, primarily due to siltation. Many argue that this is a natural process and it should not be prevented. Bearing in mind that man’s excesses over the last few hundred years, have accelerated a natural process which might otherwise have taken thousands of years, dredging of selected areas to allow safe and pleasurable usage could be considered as a reversal of man folly. Use of dredging spoils to enhance farmland has been widely used in Europe and the Netherlands with great success. Due to its cost. controversial nature and necessity this issue will certainly generate much disagreement in the future. A cooperative decision making process will be the only solution to accomplishment in this area.
Another major need of legislation for our Rivers is a plan to manage their use and resources. The damage caused to the Rivers by the hundreds of boats demands regulation which is long overdue. The sediment suspension caused by propeller wash, as well as high energy imparted to the water, has to be a major cause of destruction to shellfish, and other larvae suspended in the water column. This could be a major cause for the failures of shellfish self-replenishment. A coordinated management plan which considers the needs of shellfish, finfish, self replenishment, siltation and recreational needs is long overdue and needs to be developed in the near future.
E. Management of the Town’s Growth
This subject necessitates enactment of various zoning by-laws. In 1995, the town’s zoning economically limits new home construction to person in the middle or higher levels of the economic ladder. Prior zoning or the lack of it, had permitted entry of working class citizens housed in homes of lower valuation. The present result is a fairly good mix of all economic levels with the potential for future imbalance. Enactment of future by-laws which do not consider future impacts on the poorer segments of our population could cause much conflict and hardships. The directions taken by the Planning Board will become increasingly important to the town’s welfare.
F. Governmental Structure Considerations
Our Town’s Government method has not changed for centuries, and until fairly recent times, citizen participation from a wide segment of voters promoted its effectiveness. During the last two decades there has been increasing factorization of voter participation. Some of this split is along economic lines, but mostly it is a reflection of differences of opinions between persons who have come to town during this period and those who were here previously. The traditional view of neighbors, being citizens of a community where the philosophy is “we’re all in this together, let’s work out our differences”, has vanished. It has been replaced with a tolerance and endorsement for persecution of neighbors by Town Officials. The quick condemnation of people who have served the town for long period , as well as ridiculing of their decisions, is a new wave in Westport government. Assimilation of new population has never brought such consternation. Hopefully, these conflicts will be resolved in the near future so the town can move forward and tackle its real problems. One of the main causes of conflicts has been the large number of officials elected by plurality rather than majority. The result is that some office holders have been elected by roughly one-third of those who voted and less than 20% of all voters. Without the need to respond to majority consensus such office holders follow minority agendas, thereby generating conflict rather than cooperation.
Another result of factionalizing has been the stacking of Town meetings by various groups, depending on the issue at hand. Apathy of the electorate is mostly to blame for this deleterious condition. The results are disastrous, economically and in the conduct of the Town’s affairs. The outcome is a decision making process which favors factions and does not consider the common needs.
There is no easy remedy for these problems. But, for the common good, the town should consider some of the means available to minimize these problems. For example:
A representative Charter Commission
A representative Town Meeting
More representative government, such as one selectmen from each precinct
A Run-off election process to insure majority representation.
SECTION NO. 17 - CONCLUSION
Scheduled to meet a fall 1995 publishing date dictated the necessity to bring this project to closure during mid-March 1995. The interim months being required for typing, proofreading, editing, rearranging and final printing.
The idea for this book started over two years ago. Most of my available spare time during the interim months has been spent in the review of over one hundred town reports, culling and organizing information, compiling and extrapolating data. All of this work was done with the objective of providing the reader with a detailed historical perspective of our Town’s evolution during the Century. The main purpose of providing this perspective is the hope that future discussions concerning our Town’s directions will be tempered with the knowledge and values of its past.
The closure deadline brought apprehension that this work might not be complete. A great amount of information was not judged to be crucial to achieving the purpose of this book. Other writers may have had different opinions or chosen to highlight history in a different manner. The reader’s indulgence in allowing differing views, is respectfully requested.
My part of this book was the easier one since it dealt mostly with factual information. My co-author, Carmen Maiocco, had the most arduous task of dealing with the nuances of history. Having realized after starting this project that this task required talents for which I was not particularly well suited, I was very grateful that Carmen agreed to contribute his artistic abilities to this composite work.
The submittal is with fond hope that present and future readers will find valuable historical value from these hours of toil and that some readers may choose to investigate specific subjects in more detail.