A look back at 2021 in the Tri-Town

Dec 22, 2021

The past 12 months in the Tri-Town have seen covid challenges, lots of housing plans and a goldendoodle walking amongst the Bulldogs. Here’s a brief rundown of notable 2021 news in our neighborhood.

One major accomplishment in early 2021 came in January, when Marion became the first town in the region to earn clearance from the state to administer covid-19 vaccines. The town-run clinic vaccinated first responders — including firefighters, police and emergency medical personnel — from Marion, Mattapoisett, Rochester and Wareham. 

Not long after the first responder clinic, in February, Marion and Mattapoisett began vaccinating their other eligible residents. 

Around the same time, facing some opposition to town-run vaccination clinics from the state, Rochester’s Council on Aging got creative about getting elderly residents vaccinated by helping seniors book appointments at mass vaccination sites — and then transporting them there

Within the Tri-Town, vaccinations of eligible populations continued steadily despite initial concerns about the manner of vaccine distribution. Heading into 2022, Marion and Mattapoisett boast some of the highest vaccination rates of any municipality in Plymouth County. 

Amid persistent coronavirus concerns, the three towns also found ways to slowly but surely return their students to classrooms for in-person instruction.

Growth, change

Various Tri-Town projects and developments progressed further in 2021 — and Marion saw the loss of at least one longstanding town institution. 

In February, it was announced that the Marion Lockheed Martin complex would close by 2022. The news came as a surprise to many town officials and current and former employees of Lockheed Martin, and many mourned the loss of one of the town’s major employers.

Housing developments were also making headlines in the Tri-Town. 

A 48-unit waterfront housing complex was proposed for Wareham Road in Marion. Although a zoning change that would have paved the way for the development failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority vote at Town Meeting in October, Town Administrator Jay McGrail said the town plans to bring the question back to voters after a public outreach campaign. 

Marion and Rochester both moved closer to satisfying the state’s “40B” requirement that at least 10% of housing in town be deemed affordable.

The 208-unit Rochester Crossroads apartments are slated to bring the town up and over the 10% threshold. Marion would see its affordable housing percentage jump over the threshold if the Heron Cove project, proposed for construction off Route 6 near the Wareham line, is permitted and built.

In December, after more than 30 years of work, Mattapoisett opened its new fire station on 62 County Rd. 

Ned Point’s Lighthouse in Mattapoisett, which had been closed since 2019 because of restoration and deleading work, also reopened for tours.

Leadership shakeups 

In July, Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons retired from the department following her arrest after a traffic stop in Bourne. Lyons was charged with operating under the influence of liquor and cited with a marked lanes violation by a state police officer. 

By December, Mattapoisett swore in its new Police Chief, Jason King, who served as interim chief for five months and who has lived in Mattapoisett for most of his life. 

In November, the president and CEO of Southcoast Health, Keith Hovan, was arrested and charged with assault and battery after an incident at his home in Rochester. Those charges were dropped before his trial at the request of the victim. Police discovered illegal high-capacity firearm magazines at his Rochester home, and Hovan is scheduled to have a magistrate hearing on Jan. 10 for the magazine charges.

Hovan took a leave of absence from the hospital system. 

Over the summer, Tabor Academy’s new head of school, Tony Jaccaci, arrived in Marion to get settled in before the start of his first academic year with the school. Jaccaci is a native New Englander with a long resume of leadership roles at schools around the world.

In April, Mattapoisett Select Board Member John Decosta died at 58 years old, just two weeks after sharing his cancer diagnosis publicly. The longtime Mattapoisett resident had also worked for the town Fire Department for 17 years. 

Decosta’s seat was filled by Tyler Macallister after a special election in July. Macallister had previously sat on the board until resigning in 2019 to seek the town administrator role.

Weird, wacky and wonderful

The 3 baby Arapawa goats — the world’s rarest breed — were born at the Pine Meadow Alpacas farm in Mattapoisett this spring

Old Rochester Regional High School brought on a new four-legged “staff” member — a support mini goldendoodle named Abby, who helps students and staff alike. And, in May, Brian Sitarz, a Navy officer who had just returned home from his third deployment, surprised his daughter Kaylee at the high school. 

In the fall, the Old Rochester volleyball team won the title of Division 3 State Champions — a first for the program.

Two Tri-Town athletes had opportunities to shine on a global stage in 2021: Meghan Parks of Marion competed in the CrossFit Games (finishing ninth in her age group) and Rochester’s Gia Doonan traveled to Tokyo for the Olympics as part of the US Women’s Eight Rowing Team, which ultimately came in fourth place.

It’s All About the Animals, a cat shelter in Rochester, found itself nearly overwhelmed with an abundance of 77 kittens.