Cranberry Country Corruption, General, Illegal earth removal, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Sand mining in Southeastern Massachusetts, Sand mining in Southeastern Massachusetts

Cranberry Country Corruption

Southeastern Mass towns rubber stamp permits for sand and gravel mining, corruption rampant

Carver Earth Removal Committee plagued by conflicts of interest, self-dealing for decades

Plymouth, Carver officials look the other way and sanction illegal mining operations under the ruse of cranberry agriculture

This post contains information about conflicts of interest and self-dealing by local officials enmeshed in the sand and gravel mining and cranberry industries in Southeastern Massachusetts. An overview is here. These officials have a duty to protect our water and communities from destructive sand and gravel mining. Instead, many are complicit in illegal operations. Read about specific issues below.

Carver: Earth Removal Committee

John Garretson, III, ERC Chairman from about 1990 to 2021, owner and operator of Slocum Gibbs Cranberry. While he was ERC Chair, he conducted over a decade of mining operations removing up to a million cubic yards of sand and gravel ($9 million) from two sites owned by his company Slocum Gibbs “cranberry.” Garretson’s company obtained one ERC permit from his Committee under the pretense of “Agricultural Excavation” for mining on his Tremont Street property. Garretson conducted mining on his Wareham Street property with no ERC permit. Read the demand for enforcement to the Carver ERC here and Ethics Complaint here. No response from Ethics Commission received as of 10/12/2022.

Garretson was pivotal in granting at least five Earth Removal Permits to AD Makepeace from 2008 to 2020. For example, the 2019 and 2020 permits to Makepeace were signed by Garretson (as well as Shurtleff and Ieronimo, also with conflicts of interest — see below). Garretson staged pretenses of “public hearings” and ignored reports of violations. For almost two decades he allowed AD Makepeace to conduct industrial sand and gravel mining under the pretense of “Agricultural Excavation.” Garretson has business and personal relationships with the CEO of AD Makepeace, Jim Kane and a Garretson relative, Terry Gibbs works for AD Makepeace’s Read Custom Soils.

Behind Southeastern Massachusetts cranberry bogs lies a corrupt web of sand and gravel mining. Corporations posing as cranberry farms get mining permits under the false pretense of Agricultural Excavation. Photo: cranberry bog and mining operation, Carver MA
Behind Southeastern Massachusetts cranberry bogs lies a corrupt web of sand and gravel mining. Corporations posing as cranberry farms get mining permits under the false pretense of Agricultural Excavation. Photo: cranberry bog and mining operation, Carver MA

John Shurtleff, Jr. owner and operator of Triple J Screening and Trucking, Shurtleff Sand & Stone, member of ERC for decades, resigned suddenly in 2021. Shurtleff trucks sand and gravel for AD Makepeace (details available on request), SLT Construction, and trucked from Garretson/Slocum Gibbs site on Tremont Street. Shurtleff signed Earth Removal Permits for AD Makepeace and SLT Construction during the time when he was trucking sand and gravel for these companies. Shurtleff signed permits for AD Makepeace when he knew or should have known Makepeace’s earth removal operations were being done under the pretense of “Agricultural Excavation.” Shurtleff knew or should have known SLT’s “subdivision preparation” at the Rickets Pond Business Park was a ruse for sand and gravel mining.

Shurtleff is also owner and operator of River’s Edge Realty, which sold land to Foley Farms for earth removal on Rochester Road/Jabez Bridge Road in Carver. Shurtleff participated in overseeing the first ERC permit given to Foley Farm in about 2019. Foley obtained a second permit in 2021 after Shurtleff abruptly resigned from the ERC. Shurtleff continued to haul sand and gravel from the Foley site. Foley obtained both Earth Removal Permits from the ERC under the pretense of Agricultural Excavation for cranberry bogs and a “blueberry farm.” Foley and Shurtleff appear to be involved with AGDA-Haseotis conducting earth removal in Carver. AGDA also conducting earth removal in East Bridgewater. Enforcement demand involving Shurtleff here, Ethics Complaint here and Ethics Commission warning letter regarding Shurtleff here.

Shurtleff Sand & Stone hauling sand and gravel from Foley Farms mining site, Rochester Road, Carver MA on March 29, 2022. Details available on request.
SLT ERC truck log, December 2018 showing “Shurtleff Trailer” trucking 32.8 cubic yards of sand and gravel from the SLT Spring Street site. “AGT #97” is also listed. AGT is Carver Conservation Commission member Alan Germain of Alan Germain Trucking.

Robert Ieronimo, current chair of ERC, member of ERC since about 2006. Owns and operates New England Excavation. For years worked for AD Makepeace excavating and trucking sand and gravel. Owns cranberry bogs. Ethics Complaint here and Ethics Commission warning letter on Ieronimo here.

James Nauen, member of ERC and Conservation Commission for decades. Provides cover and rubber stamps all permits for sand and gravel industry. Signed numerous permits for AD Makepeace and others for earth removal under the pretense of “Agricultural Excavation.”

Richard “Dick” Ward, member of ERC for decades. Cranberry bog owner, rubber stamps earth removal permits, son Iain Ward works as a consultant helping to permit ground mounted solar projects on cranberry bogs and locations where sand and gravel permits have been granted by the ERC. Dick Ward is self-proclaimed member of the Southeastern Mass “Cranberry Cosa Nostra.” Quote from news profile on Ward running for Selectboard, 2013: “Issue 3: Sustainable agricultural tax base. Our main industry is cranberries. My opponent has called the cranberry industry, of which I am a part, the “Cranberry Cosa Nostra.” Instead of calling our main industry the mafia, shouldn’t we be trying to encourage this industry to be sustainable? It’s our primary tax base! The industry helps support us and our tax base, so I’m an advocate of working with this industry.”

Ward voted on and signed numerous Earth Removal Permits including two in 2017 and 2019 for AD Makepeace sand and gravel removal under the pretense of “Agricultural Excavation.”

Carver ERC: who was sworn in when, 2013 to August 2022.

John Mason, ERC member appointed by the Selectboard, August 2022. Works for AD Makepeace and Slocum Gibbs Cranberry. Both companies conduct earth removal under cover of permits from the ERC.

Carver Conservation Commission

Alan Germain, member, Vice Chair, owns and operates AGT trucking. Trucks sand and gravel for SLT Construction, including at SLT’s Spring Street, Carver mining site. Participates in Conservation Commission matters involving SLT’s wetlands permitting. Read the Ethics Complaint here. State Ethics Commission warning letter states it “does not mean your complaint is without merit.”

Involved in efforts to obtain Planning Board permits for commercial buildings in SLT’s Rickets Pond Business Park located on the mining site on Spring Street (Planning Board public hearing videos available on Area 58 cable TV). Subject of show cause petition on his removal filed by Carver Concerned Citizens. The Carver Selectboard refuses to hold a public show cause hearing and is complicit in Germain’s actions.

Carver Selectboard – appoints ERC members

John Cotter, Selectboard member and former or present comptroller at AD Makepeace Co.

Sarah Hewins, former Conservation Agent, now member of Selectboard. As Carver Conservation Agent, oversaw granting wetlands permits to sand and gravel mining operations such as Alex Johnson Cranberry and Bette Maki on Meadow Street. Now responsible for appointing members of the ERC.

Carver’s Weston Family: cranberries, sand and gravel mining, and Cranberry Point 2018 zoning change

The Weston family is heavily involved in cranberry operations and sand and gravel removal. In addition, a zoning change was orchestrated in 2018 to dupe Carver voters into changing zoning to allow industrial scale battery storage in residential-agricultural districts. This made it possible for Gary & Craig Weston to lease their land to Cranberry Point-Power Plus for a controversial 150-MW battery storage facility.

The Weston family involvement in the sand and gravel removal and cranberry industry includes:

Gary and Craig Weston: Franklin Marsh LLC massive sand mining operation under the false pretense of Agricultural Excavation, Plymouth Street, Carver and Wareham

Gary and Craig Weston, via realty trust, benefit from 2018 zoning change so they can lease land to Power Plus for battery bomb facility

Gary Weston: manager for massive sand and gravel mining operation by Federal Furnace Cranberry, Carver MA

Elaine and Eric Weston: Earth removal permit under the false pretense of Agricultural Excavation, 2021

Weston Brothers: Earth Removal Permit – info coming

Elaine Weston: works for Town of Carver as assistant to Town Administrator; former Earth Removal Committee secretary for years, including while family members obtained Earth Removal Permits