In April 2019 I began writing a monthly column for our local weekly newspaper, the Bourne Enterprise. They gave me free reign on content, asking only that each piece be about the Town of Bourne. They actually pay me to do this – almost enough to tank up my old GMC Envoy.


A VERY GOOD YEAR FOR BOURNE

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise January 10, 2020)

If we can turn our attention away from the turmoil in our nation’s capital for a moment and look at what has been happening in our town, we will see that 2019 was a very good year for Bourne. Main Street in Buzzards Bay has finally reemerged as a thriving downtown, new locally-owned businesses have opened, we have a new town administrator, and town finances are strong.

Our downtown district still has a way to go to fulfill its potential, but it has turned the corner and is not likely to slide back now. A 20-year effort by town officials, property owners, and a dedicated corps of volunteers is finally beginning to show positive results. Most of the rundown buildings have been demolished and others rebuilt to host new shops and restaurants.

Opening of the new Hampton Inn is a key element of the downtown renewal. The town park has been repaired and continues to be a popular venue for community events and family recreation. Construction of the long-awaited wastewater treatment plant appears imminent, and the new police station will strengthen the town center image of Buzzards Bay.

All of these actions were envisioned in Bourne’s 2007 Local Comprehensive Plan. That plan has now been revised and updated, and was certified by the Cape Cod Commission in December. It continues to lay out a solid vision for Bourne as a town of village centers with an economy based largely on education, ocean-related businesses, and recreation.

So, what might 2020 bring to Bourne? Certainly, replacement of the canal bridges will be a major topic of discussion and planning. The Army Corps of Engineers is wrapping up a five-year feasibility study and is expected to publish its final report soon. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) is finalizing a 12-year study of canal region traffic that will need to be coordinated with the Corps’ plans.

There have been statements reported that we might see new bridges within five years. As someone who has managed major projects jointly with both MassDOT and the Corps, I can assure you that it will take much longer. Within that five-year time frame, we should expect to see a program that sets design parameters for the bridges and the roads leading to them. Funding sources will be identified, and initial design and permitting appropriations will be made.

The following five to ten years will include land takings and resulting legal proceedings. During that time economic feasibility studies and environmental impact reports will be prepared for each element of the project. Each element will also go through multiple federal, state, and local permitting processes. After final engineering design, financing, and contract bidding, construction is likely to take at least five years.

In short, most of us who are past retirement age are not likely to see the new bridges completed in our lifetimes. In the meantime, watch for more new businesses to open in Buzzards Bay, as well as continued improvements in rail and bus service in Bourne, eventually including daily commuter trains. And be sure to frequent our burgeoning downtown to patronize both the new and the long-established businesses along Main Street.


TO “T” OR NOT TO “T”

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise December 13, 2019)

Recent discussions about whether Bourne should remain a member of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, better known as the MBTA or just the “T”, seem to be missing the big picture. As the former chairman of the town’s Transportation Advisory Committee at the time when Bourne voted to join the T, I would like to offer another way to look at the issue.

First, it’s not about the cost. Some confusing and misinterpreted numbers have been thrown around, but the actual annual net cost to the town of T membership has been about $40,000. And the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority is using that money to expand bus service in Buzzards Bay. In short, we are getting good value for our public transit assessment.

Second, it’s not entirely about the need to provide more convenient train service for current commuters to Boston. For those of us who have been working diligently to revitalize Bourne’s downtown, extending service to Buzzards Bay is all about bringing new life to Main Street. Take a look at what happened in Lakeville. Within a quarter mile of the station the neighborhood is built out with apartments, condominiums, offices, banks, restaurants, and other services.

That housing is occupied predominantly by young single or coupled urban workers who cannot afford to live in the metropolitan area but prefer the ease and reliability of the train to the nightmare of driving to Boston. This demographic spends much of their money locally, but imposes few demands on municipal services.

Bourne’s Main Street has turned the corner and is now a busy place once again. Anchored by the Maritime Academy at one end and the town hall and community center at the other, our downtown will continue to thrive with or without the T. Bringing in commuter rail, however, will transform the village.

When Bourne voted to join the T, we were reliably promised that service would begin within a year. At the same time the Authority began a major reorganization and capital program to repair decades of deferred maintenance and poor management. It kept its commitment to extend the Green Line to Medford, and elected to upgrade the old Fall River branch to bring commuter rail to the South Coast. The extension to Buzzards Bay got deferred.

Perhaps it’s a blessing that the T has temporarily set aside its expansion plan. While Bourne has made great strides revitalizing its downtown, changing the zoning to encourage smart growth and investing in streetscape improvements, the utility infrastructure is not yet ready to service the kind of growth that the T would bring. We need a few more years to fix that situation.

There is no reason to bail out now, though. The Baker/Polito administration strongly supports commuter rail and has been very supportive of our efforts to create a vibrant community in Buzzards Bay. We will eventually get commuter rail service if we hang in there; we will not get it if we leave now. It’s not just about the train service; it’s about an investment in the future of our downtown.


THANKFUL FOR LIVING IN BOURNE

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise November 8, 2019)

During this month of Thanksgiving we might reflect on why we are thankful to live in Bourne. Sometimes it seems we are so focused on summer traffic and limited employment opportunities that we forget how blessed we are to live year-round in a place where others spend thousands of dollars to visit for a week or two.

As summers have become hotter, our best weather now comes in the spring and fall when many of the visitors are not here. That is the time we most enjoy our gardens, our parks, and our many festivals. The water is still warm enough for swimming in the fall when the beaches are empty.

There are very few towns on the New England coast that have such perfect protected coves and estuaries for kayaking, canoeing, sailing and fishing. Nowhere else can match the fishing on the canal or walking and cycling on its service roads. And we can enjoy those activities well into the fall, as winter weather tends to arrive later here than it does inland.

Our usual complaints about summer traffic, shortage of well-paying jobs, and high cost of living don’t stand up to comparisons with living in the Boston metropolitan area. Traffic here in July is no worse than it is every day year-round for most of the area within the Route 495 belt. We sit within reasonable commuting distance to both Providence and Boston, and the average cost of housing in Bourne is about thirty percent less than comparable homes in the suburbs.

One big benefit we share with the other Cape towns is that our municipal services, public safety agencies, medical facilities, utilities, and service businesses are set up to serve peak seasonal populations, so they tend to be larger and better equipped than they would be in similar-sized inland communities. Our taxes are lower too because more than half of Bourne’s real estate taxes come from seasonal properties.

A unique benefit of living anywhere on Cape Cod is the broad variety and high quality of live entertainment available year-round. From the Symphony to the many theaters, coffee houses, clubs, and other venues, we never have to travel far or pay too much for a night out. Except in the quietest months of winter we also have many weekend festivals nearby.

Bourne enjoys a diverse population of retired summer visitors and military people who came here from all parts of the country and chose to return when their working days were over. That retired population includes many highly experienced professionals who volunteer to serve on the town’s fifty boards and committees, as well as for many non-governmental civic and cultural organizations.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to living in Bourne, though, is the strong sense of community that we share. We know who our neighbors are; we share their triumphs and tragedies; we support them when they need help and they watch out for us when we need them. We would rather patronize local businesses than drive out of town to save a few dollars. Most of us love our town and do what we can to make it a wonderful place to live.


LOTS AND LOTS OF PARKING LOTS

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise October 4, 2019)

This was going to be a gentle essay on how the Massachusetts Maritime Academy has made Bourne a college town and helped to restore Main Street Buzzards Bay as a vibrant downtown. That draft was written a few weeks ago, reviewed by the Academy President for accuracy, and was ready for publication.

That original draft pointed out that ours is the only Cape Cod town with a fully accredited four-year college offering Bachelor and Master of Science degrees, as well as continuing professional development programs. It noted that the Academy is not only the largest state maritime academy in the country, but is widely considered to be among the best.

It recounted the positive effects the Academy’s presence has had on revitalization of Bourne’s downtown. How the cadets and their families, as well as the many mariners coming to Bourne for continuing education and license recertification, patronize Main Street restaurants and businesses. And how the new Hampton Inn could not have been built in Buzzards Bay without the expectation of visitors from the Academy.

But then two things happened that changed the narrative. First, the Academy announced it was about to buy one of the most valuable developable parcels in Buzzards Bay to use as a parking lot. If this lot were developed as a mixed-use office/retail/residential center, in accordance with current zoning, it could potentially produce a quarter of a million dollars a year in tax revenue. Under state ownership it will pay no taxes.

Second, a drive around the village revealed that every available lot appeared to be a vehicle impoundment area wrapped in ugly rented chain-link fence. These lots not only do not benefit the town or its residents, they severely detract from the community and hurt us all.

This is simply not acceptable. Those of us who have been striving diligently for more than twenty years to create an inviting and thriving downtown never envisioned it becoming dead storage for hundreds of student vehicles. Just as we had turned the corner and finally seen our work coming to fruition, the institution that contributed so much to the revitalization is now inadvertently sabotaging it.

If this parking is essential, then the state needs to build a garage to accommodate it. If it is not essential, then the school needs to limit student parking just as every other non-commuter college does. If the Academy still wants to provide parking for its cadets, it needs to find a location outside of our downtown. The Steamship Authority’s Cataumet lot holds 1,000 cars and lies vacant from Labor Day to Memorial Day. Maybe an agreement could be struck to share that facility.

The town has little control over what the Maritime Academy does or where it does it. We can only raise our voices and loudly shout “NO!” when we dislike what it is doing to our downtown. If the Academy is to remain a good neighbor, it needs to make a drastic change of plans. Whatever is done, the current situation is simply intolerable and cannot be allowed to continue or expand.


ROUND AND ROUND THE ROUNDABOUT

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise September 13, 2019)

What were they thinking? That was my first reaction upon seeing the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s proposal to revamp Belmont Circle and the ramps connecting it to Route 25 at the entrance to downtown Buzzards Bay. Belmont Circle, sometimes called the east rotary, is neither a circle nor a rotary. It is more of a square; a confusing detour for thousands of visitors trying to get down-Cape.

A large portion of the traffic on Route 25 uses this exit, but both the off- ramp and the on-ramp are only one lane wide. The off-ramp then forces all traffic to go around the circle. Motorists suffer the effects of two major design flaws that compound each other every day year-round.

After twelve years of study, the state’s consulting engineers came up with a plan that does three things right and one thing so wrong that it boggles the mind. They recommend widening both the off-ramp and the on-ramp to two lanes, connecting all lanes directly with Scenic Highway, and adding a traffic signal for local traffic heading to or from Main Street and the bypass road. Those are all essential improvements that would correct the past design errors.

Those changes would encourage more traffic heading to the Mid-Cape Highway to exit here and take Scenic Highway to the Sagamore Bridge instead of crossing the Bourne Bridge, clogging the bridge rotary and Sandwich Road, and backing up MacArthur Boulevard. On Saturday mornings in the summer, 59 percent of the traffic heading east on Route 25 to the Mid-Cape now uses the Bourne Bridge and Sandwich Road to get there.

But the engineers went totally off the rails when they proposed replacing the big square circle with a tiny roundabout that would consolidate all traffic using Main Street, Head of the Bay Road, and the bypass. This inane plan would choke off our burgeoning downtown and make it difficult for tractor trailers to get to local businesses.

The state proposal limits access to CVS, the Mobil station, and other businesses now located around Belmont Circle. It also proposes a redundant access ramp from Scenic Highway to Route 25 branching off at the already dangerous intersection with Nightingale Pond Road.

As a professional planner with more than half a century of experience in transportation studies, I consider roundabouts to be an abomination. They have all the disadvantages of rotaries but on a tighter scale. Even their proponents admit that they don’t work well where traffic volumes exceed 4,000 vehicles per day, which is less than one third of the traffic at this location.

Roundabouts have been promoted under the concept of “traffic calming” by the same people who want everyone to ditch their cars and travel only by bicycle, bus, or train. While that may be an admirable goal, it is highly myopic and won’t happen by making driving more aggravating.

Highway departments across the country have been replacing signalized intersections with roundabouts because they are less expensive to maintain. The state plan to put one in Buzzards Bay needs to be deep-sixed before it gets any further along in the development process. We already have a bad situation resulting from earlier road design errors; let’s not make it worse.


THE LEGEND OF HEN COVE

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise August 16, 2019)

It’s Hen Cove; not Hen’s Cove. At least that’s the legend I learned from my grandmother many years ago. When this postcard photo was made more than a century ago it was apparently called Pocasset Bay. Hen Cove is the middle leaf of the three-leaf clover shape of Pocasset’s harbors, the others being Barlow’s Landing and Redbrook Harbor, which is actually in Cataumet. Hen Cove is the shallowest of the three harbors. My brother Ken and I both learned to sail there. Our family used to joke that if we ever got into trouble, we could just get out and walk home. Ken once flipped his home-made sailfish and the mast simply stuck in the mud.

Our grandfather had an old hard-chine gaff-rigged cedar catboat named “Old Squaw”. Grandpa’s old cat was not named for an elderly indigenous woman, but for a sea bird, now commonly called a long-tailed duck. The Old Squaw wasn’t technically a catboat, although it was half as wide as it was long, with a big barn door rudder and an even bigger centerboard. Hard-chine cats are notoriously difficult to turn in light air, so grandpa added an oak bowsprit and a small jib that helped coax it around. That boat was heavy, slow, and a very safe vessel for us in our pre-teen years to use exploring the area between Scraggy and Wings Necks.

Our favorite trip was to sail out to Bassett’s Island at low tide, run the Old Squaw up onto the sand bar, and go digging for quahogs. In those days you could still find some very big ones. When we had enough, we would take a swim until the incoming tide refloated our boat. Then we would raise the heavy canvas sail, haul the anchor, and coast home on a following sea. Those big clams were pretty tough, but our mom would steam them open, grind them up in a hand-cranked cast-iron grinder, and cook them into a glorious chowder. We would save the shells, clean them up and bake them in the sun, then paint water-color scenes on them and give them away as ash trays.

There may have in fact been some dude named Hen who dubbed this cove, but I really doubt it. The story that my grandmother told was that it was named after the little rocky islet in the center of this photo. That island is mostly gone now, washed away by many tides and winter storms. It reportedly once had a large rock on the northern edge, followed by a pile of rocks that were covered at high tide. Grandma called it Hen and Chickens Island. The legend is that when viewed on a foggy morning, the big rock looked a lot like a chicken, and the smaller rocks behind it like a brood of chicks. Hence the name of the island, and by extension the reason that this scenic inlet is now known as Hen Cove.


BOURNE ON THE FOURTH OF JULY – 1949

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise July 5, 2019)

Watching the delight of the children at Bourne’s Fourth of July parade takes me back to a smaller parade when I was their age. In those days as now the best Independence Day celebrations happened in the neighborhoods. Our neighborhood was Pocasset Heights.
My grandfather, Bert Ewell, built a camp shack with an outhouse at the corner of Circuit and Saco Avenues in 1904. Over the years he expanded it into a comfortable year-round home that he and my grandmother retired to forty years later.

We had a cottage next door that my father bought from his uncle. Back then summer houses seldom sold to strangers. They usually stayed in the family for generations. Like most of the other cottages in the neighborhood, ours was pretty rustic.
It did have indoor plumbing of a sort. There was a flushable toilet and sink in a little room off the back entryway, but the only source of water was a shallow well with a massive iron pump next to the kitchen sink. To wash the dishes or flush the toilet we would prime the pump with water from a nearby bucket, then fill the bucket and carry it out to the wash room.

The kitchen had a wooden ice box that drained through a hole in the floor. Once a week an old man with a mule-drawn wagon laden with 50-pound blocks of ice would come by and restock our crude fridge. His visit was also a real treat for the neighborhood kids. Although he didn’t speak our language, he knew what we wanted. With a warm smile he would chip off a sliver of ice for each of us to cool our throats on a hot July day.

The highlight of the summer, though, was the annual neighborhood association clam bake. Early in the morning a crew would show up and build a sort of fortress on the beach near the big rock that remains to this day. They would start with a ring of rocks surrounding a bonfire that soon enough became a bed of hot embers.

They would then add layers of fresh seaweed, clams, potatoes, corn, and lobsters that steamed all afternoon. The wonderful aroma of that meal cooking made it seem like the longest day of the summer until we could finally dig in early that evening.

And then there was the parade, which was also a competition of sorts. Called the “horrible parade” it invited all the neighborhood children to dress up and make up as the most horrible creatures we could imagine. I won first prize one year as a bedraggled hobo but had to settle for second prize, which was a box of pencils. It seems the girl who came in second was only two and could not write yet.

Our old neighborhood is quite different today. The neighborhood association is still active and holding memorable events. But the young families that once filled the streets with laughing kids can no longer spare the time to live at the beach all summer. Nearly all of the old cottages have been replaced or rebuilt into year-round homes for those who can afford them.

Even the little beach at the end of Saco Ave is mostly gone, flooded twice a day by rising sea levels. I still like to wander down to the pier, though, and remember fondly those carefree days that now seem so long ago.


RAIL TRAIL BENEFITS

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise June 14, 2019)

As the winter winds die down and the summer sun returns, many of us are dusting off our bikes, skates, and walking shoes and dreaming once again of the day when the Shining Sea Trail extends along Bourne’s Buzzards Bay shoreline between North Falmouth and the canal service road. The Bourne segment would certainly be the most scenic and probably the most heavily used portion of the of entire Cape Cod rail trail system.

This project would benefit Bourne in more ways than any other single action the town might take. It would provide safe bicycle and pedestrian connections among all of Bourne’s villages and off the streets. It would increase public safety by giving cyclists an alternative to pedaling on Shore and County Roads. And it would open some of the most scenic portions of the town’s coastline to view without need for expanded parking areas or roads.

Building this trail would also provide a significant boost to Bourne’s economy. The national non-profit organization Rails to Trails Conservancy has documented substantial financial benefits to local businesses and to public health where trails have been built. One in-depth survey cited by the Conservancy found average direct spending by trail users of $31 per person. Most of that money goes to locally-owned small businesses, such as lunch stops, bike shops, restaurants, and lodgings.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation estimates that Cape Cod rail trails are used by an average of 1,000 people per day during the summer season from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Falmouth Bikeways Committee has counted an average of twice that many riders each Saturday, Sunday, and holiday during the summer on the Shining Sea Trail. The Army Corps of Engineers says 300,000 people use the canal service roads each year.

If only 100,000 people use the trail extension through Bourne each year, that would pump more than three million dollars into the town’s economy. It is not unreasonable to expect actual usage of the trail to double that number. It is also not unreasonable to expect that average spending per trail user would be higher than the Conservancy estimate because The Shining Sea Trail is a destination, drawing people from a wider area who are likely to stay for more than a day.

The Conservancy has also shown that property abutting a recreational trail increases in value compared to similar properties elsewhere, which could add a considerable amount to Bourne’s property tax base. Their researchers are studying this trail benefit to better document actual numbers, but currently estimate that properties directly abutting a trail sell for five to fifteen percent more than comparable properties that do not abut trails.

That means that current abutters would reap a windfall benefit when selling their properties, and the town would reap a windfall benefit when the higher selling prices prompt increases in the tax assessment. Over a period of time, this would add millions to Bourne’s tax base. In summary, extension of the Shining Sea Trail would be a wonderful recreational amenity that would tie Bourne’s many villages together while improving public safety and public health and boosting our economy. What more could we ever want?


BUILDING BRIDGES

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise May 17, 2019)

Is there anything that says “Cape Cod” more than our canal bridges? Not lighthouses; not beaches; not even sand dunes. Every coastal state has those, and theirs are often better than ours. But few tourist areas have anything as uniquely iconic as our graceful antique highway bridges. Do we really need to replace them?

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently engaged in a three-year study to determine whether it is more feasible to replace the two highway bridges with generic six-lane interstate structures, or to perform a major overhaul of the existing bridges. That was last done in 1982 and needs to be done about every 50 years.

Those of us who have endured hour-long backups at the Bourne Bridge this spring, and similar delays at the Sagamore last year, might welcome an efficient but ugly structure that gets us to work or home faster. But the loss to our image and cultural heritage would be unfortunate.

Here is an interesting fact about our bridges that a lot of people don’t realize: the Bourne Bridge is almost twice as long as the Sagamore. The central spans are identical, but the approach spans on the Bourne are about 1,000 feet longer than on the Sagamore. That would also nearly double the cost of replacing the Bourne Bridge.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation reports that on a summer Saturday 59 percent of the vehicles crossing the Bourne Bridge from the west travel around the rotary and along Sandwich Road to the Mid-Cape Highway. Those vehicles not only have to navigate three-quarters of the way around the rotary, but they also interfere with traffic coming north on MacArthur Boulevard. If that piece of the traffic could be removed, there would be few backups at the Bourne Bridge any time.

Instead of replacing the existing bridges, the Corps of Engineers and state highway engineers should consider a direct connection between Route 25 and the Mid-Cape. This would be a nearly straight highway, three miles long, generally following the route of the power lines between the Bourne/Plymouth town line on Route 25 and the Mid-Cape just east of Exit 1.

Picture a four-lane divided highway crossing a high-level concrete arch bridge near Bournedale. It would span the canal at a point where the land is 150 to 180 feet high on both sides. Connections at both ends would be east/west only, with no need for full interchanges or traffic lights. Such a connector would reduce the travel distance from seven miles to three.

The cost of this concept should be no more than the cost of replacing both existing bridges. It would remove more than half the traffic from the Bourne Bridge, and nearly half from the Sagamore Bridge, Scenic Highway, and Sandwich Road. That would mean far less wear and tear on the old bridges, as well as longer life spans with fewer disruptions for maintenance and repair.

Most importantly, future generations of Cape residents and visitors alike would still feel that wonderful sense of ease and of coming home that we get every time we cross onto the Cape over one of those beautiful old bridges.


VALUABLE VOLUNTEERS

(Published on the editorial page of the Bourne Enterprise April 12, 2019)

Volunteering and town meetings are two old New England traditions. Both are alive and well in Bourne. The town meeting form of government may be the purest form of democracy ever conceived and is nearly impossible to corrupt. Every voter has a chance to speak and gets an equal vote, along with the opportunity to step up and make a difference.

Our local government is actually run mostly by volunteers. We have department heads who are qualified professionals, with staffs of dedicated and experienced people handling the day-to-day business. But the most important policies, budgets, and programs are created and managed by unpaid volunteers serving on 48 boards and committees. With rare exceptions, even our elected officials get no pay or only token salaries.

These folks bring expertise to the table that the town could never afford. They offer lifetimes of knowledge and experience as business owners, executives, lawyers, accountants, teachers, and technicians. Most of their work goes unnoticed and seldom rewarded.

Three of those volunteers deserve special notice. Bob Parady, Sallie Riggs, and Mary Jane (MJ) Mastrangelo have each made volunteer contributions to Bourne that have made a real difference. For 18 years Bob Parady has led our town meetings with fairness, patience, and gentle restraint. As Town Moderator he appoints members to the Finance and Charter Compliance Committees. Bob was also a Selectman/Assessor/Sewer Commissioner for 18 years, on the Planning Board for three years, and served on many other volunteer committees.

Sallie Riggs lives in Falmouth, but has been the driving force behind the revitalization of Main Street Buzzards Bay as Bourne’s Downtown. Sallie created the National Marine Life Center, established the Bourne Financial Development Corporation, and for more than a decade led the Main Street Steering Committee. She also played leading roles on the Transportation Advisory Committee and the Wastewater Advisory Committee.

Because of Sallie’s vision and dogged determination, we now have Keystone Place, and will soon have the Hampton Inn, Calamar Apartments, and a wastewater treatment facility that will enable additional new development and redevelopment downtown. In every case Sallie worked with the developers to convince them that it would be worthwhile to invest in Bourne and to guide them through the approval process. Someday we may see even more economic benefit from her vision for a technology park on the Ingersoll land in Bournedale.

And then there is MJ. Mary Jane Mastrangelo may be the hardest working volunteer that the town has ever seen. She has for years chaired the Finance Committee and the Capital Outlay Committee, and regularly participates in the meetings of many other committees. When a perfect storm of events drove the cost of the new wastewater treatment facility well past the budget, MJ stepped in and showed town officials how to make it work.

Serving on a town committee can be exasperating at times, but also wonderfully satisfying. There is always more work to do than there are hands to do it. Our town is blessed to have so many who are willing to step up and do the work, but we could always use a few more volunteers.