The prettiest kind of snowy day, not too cold, with swirly fluffy flakes.

New compostable lunch trays increase cost

Terrific article by 10th grade Gloucester High School student Willa Brosnihan

The Gillnetter


On January 1st, a ban on plastic bags and polystyrene serving-containers proposed by Councilor at Large Melissa Cox took effect in restaurants, supermarkets, and businesses across Gloucester. Because the trays used in Gloucester public school cafeterias are made of polystyrene and used to serve food, they will not be exempt from the ban, and will be eliminated from use by the end of February.

Food Service Director Martha Jo Fleming expects to see an increase in lunch tray costs. “The cost of the actual trays was 3 cents each for the polystyrene, and the compostable are nine, so a six cent difference,” said Fleming. “The total cost of the compostable trays we figure will come in at $25,563. The cost of the foam was $9,973.” That is a $15,590 increase this year.

According to Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Safier, any deficit incurred due to the change will be picked up by the school committee. “What the school committee usually does with its budget is create what I consider to be a relatively small contingency account. Usually the contingency account has about $200,000,” said Safier. “If the food service account can’t afford to pay for all of the compostable tray increase, we would take money from the contingency.”

The Gloucester High School cafeteria has already switched to the biodegradable trays, which are made of recycled paper. Head of Cafeteria Staff Patty Thibodeau says that the budget strain is affecting other aspects of her job. “Our silverware– knives, forks, spoons– when people bring their home lunch they want to use them, but the trays are so expensive that we can’t just give out silverware.”

Councilor at Large Melissa Cox believes that the benefits from the ban outweigh its financial effects. “Protecting the environment and the ocean from debris that is not recyclable or biodegradable is definitely the motivation,” said Cox. “The more cities and towns that pass the ban, the more companies will start producing alternative products, and I think once more people start buying alternative products, the cost is going to go down.”

Dr. Safier is similarly convinced that balancing environmental and economic concerns is the key to pushing environmentally friendly products into the mainstream. “We’ve got an administration that denies there’s climate change,” said Dr. Safier. “Now I imagine that they believe that there is climate change, but for political reasons they’re not willing to admit it. What ultimately needs to happen is to find ways that the environmentally friendly can be reasonably profitable at the same time, so companies that need to make money are making the money, but they are doing it in the ways that are environmentally safe and sound.”

Currently the trays are being disposed of in the trash. The trays will eventually be composted by a private company, but first the city has to weigh the price of the service, and evaluate how a switch to composting will impact janitorial staff. “The custodians may suggest that this is a change in working conditions,” said Safier. “In all likelihood it will involve negotiations between the city and the custodians, with respect to what exactly is expected of them in the process of taking the compostable trays and preparing them so that an outside agency can pick them up.”

West Parish Elementary School already has a composting program organized by parents in partnership with the local composting company Black Earth Compost. Composting will not be implemented district wide until next year.

Willa Brosnihan, Staff Writer

Willa Brosnihan is a 10th grade student at Gloucester High school. She has placed in top three of her category in the Sawyer Free Library’s “Poetry…


Cape Ann Symphony: Musicians Unleashed Concert: BACH To The Future

Cape Ann Symphony Chamber Concert Series MUSICIANS UNLEASHED  Continues February 24 with BACH TO THE FUTURE 
at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Gloucester
Musicians Unleashed is a program of 3 concerts to be performed in small venues.  The concert series features CAS musicians and special guests.  The Musicians Unleashed concerts are fund raisers for Cape Ann Symphony  and all musicians are volunteering their time to perform.  The next concert in the series is BACH to the Future on February 24 at 2 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 48 Middle Street in Gloucester. Ticket prices for the concert are:  $35 for adults and $15 for Youth. Call Cape Ann Symphony at 978-281-0543 or go to for tickets. 
Purely Baroque and absolutely modern, hear how Bach’s genius leaps the centuries in a concert matching the Fisk organ and modern instruments.The concert will give audience members an insight into Bach, and his music as well as the many famous compositions that were inspired by Bach.  Musicians include: Lincoln’s Stephanie Stathos playing the Flute; Samuel Nelson playing the Fisk Organ; Rockport’s Wendy Betts and local music educator Patty Clark playing the Brandenburg Concerto for Piano Four-Hands; and  Oksana Gorokhovskiy and Ipswich’s Susanne Powers playing the Bach Double Concerto
Lincoln’s Stephanie Stathos currently holds the Principal Flute position with the Cape Ann Symphony where she was featured soloist in 2015 and in 2018. In BACH to the Future Ms. Stathos will play the Bach Flute Sonata BWV 1031 in E flat Major. Ms. Stathos looks forward to playing in this unique and intimate concert , “I am thrilled that the symphony is offering a chamber series this year and am rooting for its success! I hope it will present an opportunity for the players to meet and thank our supporters, fans and community members in person as well as further enrich the music scene on Cape Ann. “Stephanie Stathosearned her Bachelor of Music degree in flute performance from Boston University’s School for the Arts where she was a student of Doriot Anthony Dwyer.  Since that time she has she continued her flute studies with Irena Grafenauer and Michael Faust in Germany and with Jacques Zoon in Boston.  In addition to CAS, she plays piccolo with the Lexington Symphony. From 2003-2013 she served as the piccolo and second flute with the touring orchestra of the National Lyric Opera of New York.  As a soloist Stephanie has performed throughout the United States and Europe,recently performing Cimarosa’s Concerto for Two Flutes with the Orchestra Del Concentus Musicus Patavinus in Padua, Italy (2016). An active freelancer and chamber musician appearances include performances with many of New England’s ensembles including Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Symphony New Hampshire, Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Symphony By the Sea, Concord Chorale (NH), Newburyport Choral Society, Northshore Choral Society, North Shore Chamber Music, Reagle Players and with vocalist Catherine Hammond, with whom she has done two recordings.  Stephanie especially enjoys performing with the Festival Trio with her husband, cellist Stephen Smith and her mother, pianist Margaret Moreland Stathos.Also passionate about jazz, New Music and ethnic music of all kinds, she has toured and recorded for the Green Linnet label with Argentinean vocalist Mili Bermejo and jazz ensemble Orange Then Blue.
CAS President Fran White was thrilled with audience reaction to the first MusiciansUnleashedConcert in January, “The first Musicians Unleashed concert in January, Dance of the Instruments, was a resounding success!  This series is something very different for the CAS and we are hoping that the remainder of the concerts in the series will be well received.”
The schedule for the remaining concerts is :
·        February 24 2:00 PM – Bach to the Future – St. John’s Episcopal Church – 48 Middle Street Gloucester
·        April 28th 2:00 PM – Spring into Strings   – Crowell Chapel – Manchester -by-the Sea

Ticket prices for each concert in the Musicians Unleashed Series:  $35 for adults and $15 for Youth. 
Call CAS at 978-281-0543 or go to for tickets. 

Samuel Nelson, Organ; Courtesy Photo

Stephanie Stathos, Flute; Courtesy Photo
Wendy Betts, Piano; Photo Credit: David Stotzer

Head to Jalapeños on Wednesday Night to Support GHS Girls’ Basketball!

Yummy food, good drinks, AND raising money to help support GHS Girls Basketball!  Win, win, win.
Bring your appetite and lots of friends to Jalapeños on Wednesday night any time between 4:00-9:00 and a portion of the proceeds from your dinner/drinks will help the team!

Wednesday, February 20th
4:00PM to 9:00PM

A Fun Night For A Great Cause
Authentic Mexican Food


Northern Lights Farmstand

On Route 133 in Ipswich and open year round! We were drawn in by the sign promising homemade pie and we were not disappointed. Nicely set up, local businesses represented (Virgilios for one!) And the pie pleased the taste buds. I recommend stopping by.