For more than a year, WBSM has been trying to determine what happened to some 160 or so planks of wood that were salvaged from the demolition of the former Fairhaven Mills complex and donated to the state for the restoration of the schooner Ernestina. You'd think we were trying to find Hillary Clinton's emails or something.

In a 2009 deal brokered by then-Mayor Scott Lang, developers Mark Dickinson and Mark White generously donated the antique yellow pine beams, the value of which was determined to be anywhere from several hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than a million dollars, and the wood was stored for safekeeping at the City Yard at Quittacas Pond in Rochester.

In 2015, the wood was moved from an on-sight storage shed to a location in the woods. The following June, the state sent an appraiser to examine the planks. A month later when members of the local Ernestina Commission went to view the wood—it was gone.

One hundred and sixty 24-foot-long antique yellow pine planks just disappeared into thin air. No one knows where they went, or how they got there. No one.

The Mitchell Administration will say only that the wood was given away, but no one seems to know to whom, or exactly who authorized it to be given away. Public Information Officer Jon Carvalho tells us the wood was given away sometime in 2016.

All of this raises some very serious questions:

1. Why would the Administration give away property that clearly belonged to the state?
2. Why has the state not inquired about its missing property?
3. Where is the local Cape Verdean Community on this, and why has no one demanded an investigation?
4. Where the hell is the wood and did anyone profit from its disposal?

ernestina morrissey

The Mitchell Administration needs to be a little more concerned about this. Everyone should be.

Tons of antique wood doesn't just go missing without a trace. Somebody knows what happened to it and where it is. That somebody needs to come forward and tell us what they know.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

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