The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 17, 2008


Who’s using the Transfer Station?

With cast-off treasures like bicycles, toys, dishes, books and computers, all waiting for new homes, who wouldn’t find our Swap Shop a magnet? The problem? It attracts not only Carlisle residents, but out-of-towners as well. They are clearly not welcome. The prominent sign at the entrance to the Transfer Station warns “Carlisle residents only” and “Admittance by sticker.”

Last week a Carlisle resident told the Mosquito of a red Volkswagen with New Hampshire plates whose driver eagerly took her items before they ever reached the Swap Shop (see Letters) . Frequently pick-up trucks with New Hampshire plates are seen dumping construction debris, and cars and trucks with an outdated sticker or none at all use the facility without penalty. Why don’t the Carlisle Police enforce the permit regulations?

Carlisle residents pay a modest $15 a year for a permit and $10 for a second car to take their trash to the Transfer Station, a visit that usually includes a stop at the Swap Shop (try saying that three times!). Pick-up trucks with demolition debris must display a permit slip for that day from the Carlisle Police at $50 per load.

In a notable crack-down on unauthorized vehicles on Saturday, April 10, 2004, a police officer checked cars entering the Transfer Station. Astonishingly, 212 of approximately 500 cars that came that day lacked a current dump sticker and were not allowed to enter the facility until they had one. Reactions ranged from sheepishness to anger, and excuses were unusual and creative. Then drivers turned their trash-filled cars around and headed for the police station to buy their $15 sticker – or if they were from out-of-town, they turned tail and fled. In that one day, assuming that 200 permits were purchased, the Town of Carlisle added $3,000 to the hazardous waste fund.

That check occurred four and a half years ago. Isn’t it about time for another major crack-down? Enforcement and gate-keeping should not be the role of the DPW employees at the Transfer Station – their already small number has decreased by one, and confrontation with irate drivers is not part of their job. Random enforcement at the Transfer Station by a police detail has been suggested by town officials and residents in the past, but little has been done. Even occasional enforcement would help relieve the unfairness of illegal dumpers and unauthorized Swap Shop raiders and, equally important, would add some much-needed revenue to the town’s revolving fund.

Stickers for 2009 go on sale at the Police Station in December. Get yours before the April 1 deadline and avoid the embarrassment of being turned away at the Transfer Station portal with a car-load of smelly trash.

Something that worked

In these dark days, when nothing seems to work and our presidential candidates seem to have only the idea that what the other guy wants to do won’t work, you might like to hear a tale of something that has worked. It is the story of my neighbor, Joe Donovan, who has endured a remarkable medical history.

In 1982 Joe was laid low by a viral infection that eventually resulted in a condition called cardiomyopathy – literally, sickness in the heart muscle. His heart output had sunk to a 7% ejection fraction. Doctors at Mass General treated him with massive doses of prednisone and sent him home, saying that he had perhaps only days to live. But the days stretched into months and then into years. The prednisone kept the inflammation at bay but wrought terrible damage to his joints and digestive tract. He underwent multiple major operations – ultimately 17 of them – to replace both hips, both knees, and both shoulders, some of them several times, and twice to repair a perforated colon.

And then one day after 15 years he “knew something was wrong” and dialed 911. By the time the police and medics arrived he had suffered cardiac arrest and collapsed on the floor. At the time, Carlisle had just acquired its first defibrillator, and this was the first time the EMT on hand had actually used it. Nevertheless, he did all the right things and restarted Joe’s heart. Joe went by ambulance to Emerson and by helicopter to MGH, where they installed another newly invented device, an implantable defibrillator, which goes off when its sensors detect an irregular heartbeat. It happened to Joe only once. “You feel as if you’ve been hit in the chest with a two-by-four.”

But six months later his heart had deteriorated to such an extent that he became a candidate for a heart transplant. In the transplant ward, waiting for a suitable donor, he was “treated like a king,” attended round the clock by two nurses, with whom he fell in love. His wait turned out to be relatively short because the next heart that became available was from a large man whose heart was too big for other candidates ahead of him. It turned out that his health insurance through GenRad, where he was working in 1982, paid for 100% of his treatments. “I was lucky at every turn.”

Now, 11 years later, his 71-year-old body contains a 51-year-old heart. He undergoes a yearly biopsy to look for signs of rejection, which have not materialized. He has no chronic diseases like diabetes or arteriosclerosis. He walks slowly and with a limp but can still drive, attend to chores around the house and yard, and enjoy his four grandchildren. And through it all, he says that it never occurred to him or his wife Anna that he would die. They have consciously decided not to dwell on possible bad outcomes, but to live one day at a time. So for Joe, God bless him, the system worked. Let’s hope the rest of us are so fortunate.



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© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito