Pops to present free concert as anniversary gift today

The Boston Pops are celebrating their 125th anniversary with a gift for their fans — a free concert on Boston Common this afternoon.

The concert will feature the centerpiece of this Pops season, “The Dream Lives On: A Portrait of the Kennedy Brothers.” The work combines quotes from the Kennedy brothers with original text and video and dramatic orchestral and choral score.

The concert will also include music from John Williams’ “Star Wars” and “Harry Potter” scores, a 1970s sing-along and the tune, “Sweet Caroline,” a Boston favorite.


School cafeterias to offer locally grown food this week

Schoolchildren from around the state will be dining on food from local farms this coming week.

“Massachusetts Harvest for Students” week runs Monday through Friday and promotes the consumption of locally grown fruits and vegetables in public school cafeterias.

Farmers will be delivering local produce directly to schools. In some cases, students will shuck their own corn or pick their own apples.

State officials said more than 250 public and private schools give preference to local farms in buying food.


Maritime academy houses some students aboard ship

Most Massachusetts Maritime Academy students plan on spending their lives at sea anyway, so living on a boat during the semester is no big deal.

A campus housing crunch has forced the college to ask 49 seniors to live on the school’s training ship, the Kennedy.

Senior Zachary Amaral told the Cape Cod Times that cell phone service is spotty and it’s hard to study in the ship’s rooms, which are smaller than the dorm rooms on campus.

But there are advantages. Unlike dorm rooms where cadets double up, the onboard rooms are singles. And rather than a communal bathroom, those living on the ship share a bathroom with just one other person.

Living on the ship, however, does not count toward a cadet’s “sea time” required for graduation.


Utility uses volunteer labor to clear plants from lines

Cape Cod residents armed with handsaws and axes are trying to prove that volunteers — rather than herbicides — can keep utility transmission lines clear of vegetation.

A so-called “Pruning Party” with about 12 area residents was held Wednesday in Wellfleet to see if it was realistic to replace the chemical spraying with free manual labor.

It’s a huge job. The utility NStar must maintain 150 miles of power line rights of way from the Cape Cod Canal to Wellfleet.

NStar’s local herbicide program is currently suspended until next year to give towns time to perfect maps of environmentally sensitive areas. But the utility plans to resume the program and said it could eliminate the need for clearcutting.


Zoo touts expansion plan as boost to self-sufficiency

New Bedford’s Buttonwood Park Zoo wants to expand, bring in new animals and become more self-sufficient.

Zoo management said their $12 million draft master plan, unveiled last week, would add 4 acres, making room for a third elephant, and exhibits featuring tigers, monkeys and red pandas.

Director William Langbauer told The Standard Times that expansion could boost attendance by 33 percent a year and help make the zoo two-thirds self-sufficient. The zoo currently gets about 200,000 visitors annually, and more than half its budget comes from the city.

Not everyone is on board with the plan. The Friends of Buttonwood Park, a nonprofit group, doesn’t want the zoo to take park land for expansion.