Onset activist issued 'no trespass order' from Onset Fire District officials

Lisa Morales calls on Water Commission Chair Ben Hughes to resign
By Lydia Goerner and Matthew Bernat | Mar 08, 2018
Photo by: Lydia Goerner Benjamin Hughes listens to Onset resident Lisa Morales' concerns on Thursday.

An Onset woman has been barred from entering the Onset Fire District’s offices as of Feb. 15 under a “no trespass order.”

Lisa Morales, who moved to Onset a year and a half ago, is accused of “aggressive verbal and physical conduct” and making “threats against members of the District’s administrative staff,” according to the order. The order was signed by Onset Water Commissioner Chair Ben Hughes and Prudential Committee Chair Charles Klueber.

Onset officials declined to comment on the specific nature of the threats. However, Hughes said he felt the need to support district employees after the incident.

“When folks inside the office tell me they feel a certain way I have a responsibility to react and have their back,” said Hughes.

According to the order, the incident occurred after a meeting held in the district’s offices at 15 Sand Pond Road on Jan. 25. Under Massachusetts state law, a property owner may issue a no trespass order to prevent an unwanted person from entering the property. A copy of the notice is then filed with police. If a person trespasses after being given the notice, they can then be criminally charged.

In recent months, Morales has called for accountability from district officials on a range of issues, including releasing health benefits information and the appointment of a member to the committee overseeing the construction of a new fire station. She has attended several meetings over that time, at times clashing verbally with board members.

Morales, who writes the blog Onset All Together, disputed the allegations.

“I don’t know who I allegedly assaulted,” she told Wareham Week.

According to Morales, one district clerk swore at her while she left the Jan. 25 meeting and another person present threatened her with a lawsuit.

Morales said despite the order she will continue to press district officials on a range of issues.

“This whole thing has been about transparency and accountability,” she said regarding the district. “This is not a social club, it’s a multi-million dollar operation.”

Morales said she had planned to run for either a seat on the Water Commission or the Prudential Committee in the next election, but is unable to pick up nomination papers due to the order.

According to published media reports, this isn’t the first time Morales has taken on public officials.

In 2014, while a resident of Dennis, Morales said two Dennis-Yarmouth School Committee members violated the state's Open Meeting Law. She said they discussed the school budget in comments on a private Facebook group ahead of a School Committee meeting.

The open meeting law prevents elected officials from discussing board business if a quorum is present outside of a posted meeting. The Facebook posts indicated committee members were not communicating with each other, but did provide information to other members of the group.

On March 8, during a joint meeting of the Onset Water Commission and Prudential Committee, Morales called on Hughes to resign, saying he is not an Onset resident. To serve on either board, officials must reside within the Onset Fire District.

According to documents on file with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Hughes owns a home in Wareham. According to voter registration rolls on file in the Town Clerk’s office, Hughes is listed as being an Onset resident when he was first elected in 2016 to a one-year term and again in 2017 when he was elected to a three-year term.

Morales said she has notified the Massachusetts Attorney General. Hughes declined to comment on the matter during the meeting, except to say: "My personal life is my personal life, and that's that," Hughes said.

Klueber said no one has questioned the residence of a board member during any time in his tenure. He said the issue is a moot point unless it can be proven "beyond reasonable doubt."

The Onset Fire District supplies water and fire protection for Onset. A separate Wareham Fire District performs the same function in Wareham. Separate from the Town of Wareham, the Fire District is overseen by an elected Prudential Committee and Board of Water Commissioners. The district sets the water rates and allocates funds for the Onset Fire Department.

Onset's Lisa Morales has been calling for more transparency from Onset Fire District officials. (Photo by: Matthew Bernat)
Comments (19)
Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 09, 2018 03:18

Sounds like a big mess.  I wonder how irate she’d stay towards the Department if she needed them because her house was on fire?

Posted by: thkng60@yahoo.com | Mar 09, 2018 05:40

An unwanted person from entering THEIR property??? Does Mr. Hughes own that property???  I wonder what she said that scared them enough to get a no trespass order.

Posted by: donknowlton | Mar 09, 2018 07:17

Sounds as though she has a few screws loose!

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 09, 2018 07:19

This is how they silence the truth ?

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Mar 09, 2018 07:48

Where there's smoke there's fire. Why the hardline stance with the no trespass order? Should be easy enough to prove where you live. A rental agreement or tax bill should do the trick. Maybe a copy of the census forms we just filled out showing Hughes name at a Wareham address.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 09, 2018 08:06

Removed by user

Posted by: Rosebud | Mar 09, 2018 08:16

I don’t know all of the facts here, but for a town agency/committee to issue a no-trespassing order to one of its own citizens is a HUGE red flag in my opinion.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Mar 09, 2018 08:55



I was not suggesting that the firemen/first responders would do that!  Never!  That thought never entered my mind!  Even after rereading my own comment, I'm not sure how you interpreted it that way.  They would never do such a thing.  I was suggesting that she would soon forget about all this controversy/accusation as soon as she needed them to come save her, her loved ones, or her house.  I am sorry that my comment could be interpreted that way.


This is why I don't comment much on touchy political topics on here.  Sure I have an opinion on the dueling fire districts and the duplications but I remain quiet.  I save my comments to mostly poke fun at dumb criminals (I think you know that!) .


Frankly, my bottom-line opinion is that I just accept that the small fire district tax could help save the life of someone I love or could save my home and everything I own.  There are so many bigger bills that are far less critical in my life that I can bitch about.  I pay the fire district tax for the peace of mind and I don't even think about what happens to it.  Cripes, I pay more per year for stupid cable TV and cable is just a luxury.  I know that all that money gets swallowed up by Comcast corporate greed worse than what probably happens in our fire districts.  If I was going to raise a stink, I'd go after that bill first! Is my TV going to rescue my kid from the second floor when my house is on fire?  The two dollars and change per thousand is a small price to pay for peace of mind.


Oh yea, question, is "she" you?  I may be naive.  But your starement "I know they would not watch my house burn " has me thinking it is.  Forgive me for not being up to date with screen names and names and who is who.   

Posted by: WantToSeeChange | Mar 09, 2018 09:34

Does anything say that someone who lives in Wareham has to live in the Onset Fire District if serving in this capacity?  Aside from the districts, Onset is a part of Wareham.  I don't personally see a problem with the residency portion of this article.


Although I do not know you, Onsettogether, it does seem like you fight every battle, rather than choosing your battles carefully.  Whether you speak the truth or not, when someone continually stirs the pot, it gets old.  Do I think that there should be a no trespass order against you?  Not if you have been civil in every way towards them.  Many times I see your posts as verbally combative towards the Fire District.  I know if I were on that board, I would be pretty fed up by now.  Again, I am not saying you are wrong to do that, and you may be on to something with them, but at this point, I am not even sure which fight you are fighting.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 09, 2018 10:11

Change, fighting for transparency, honesty and fiscal responsibility in elected officials in Onset. That's the bottom line.


Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 09, 2018 10:14

By the non-residency argument, anyone in Onset can vote at the Wareham Fire District meeting and vice-versa. That is not the case. Not even Onset property owners whose voter registration is elsewhere can vote.  At this point, Mr. Hughes himself cannot vote at an Onset Fire Meeting. Voter rolls are checked at the door. How can he hold office?

Posted by: Onset_mom | Mar 09, 2018 10:28

I would say no trespassing orders are not handed out willy-nilly and there are 2 sides to every story. Why not check the background on the person stirring up so much angst? Talk to their neighbors... Are they a good person? Do they go out of their way to bully and belittle? Do they do good for the neighborhood? Look into towns they have lived in before.... Have they had issues with prior town officials? Have prior town officials had issues with them?  Is there a history of harassment anywhere, on any side?

I love our little town and hate seeing the battle ground it has become.

I hope this is is not just the move of an angry person striking back at a perceived injustice.

Posted by: cranky pants | Mar 09, 2018 12:07

Why not post the examples of the "aggressive verbal and physical conduct and threats against members of the District's administrative staff " ???

Posted by: Gabby | Mar 09, 2018 13:41
Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 09, 2018 19:27

Deleted by user

Posted by: thkng60@yahoo.com | Mar 10, 2018 06:48

It sounds to me, that lisa cares about onset. As far as living in the district, I was asked at a meeting if I lived in that district because I asked for an amendment to a proposal. So if I have to live there, why shouldn't Mr. Hughes????What's good for the goose should be good for the gander.

Posted by: Gabby | Mar 11, 2018 12:06

I have seen your Facebook posts Lisa. You concern yourself with everything from where someone parks on up. I've also seen you make comments meant to belittle the efforts of a loved, extremely active, and dedicated member of our community.  Perhaps you have valid concerns in this instance, or perhaps it is that he stood up to you and you didn't like it. I'm on the fence. We shall see.

Posted by: OnsetTogether | Mar 12, 2018 10:23

The article is a bit unclear. “According to documents on file with the Plymouth County Registry of Deeds, Hughes owns a home in Wareham. According to voter registration rolls on file in the Town Clerk’s office, Hughes is listed as being an Onset resident when he was first elected in 2016 to a one-year term and again in 2017 when he was elected to a three-year term.”

The home is in Wareham Fire District and is Hughes’ primary residence by his certified voter registration.  A person could live in a rental in Onset and rent out their own property in Wareham, I suppose. Secondly, he identified two different addresses in Onset in 2016 and 2017, after changing his primary address to the one he owns in Wareham. The 2017 address is Frank Kowzic’s Which cup is the ball under?

No one at Onset Fire or Water is going to look into this, Klueber says it’s a closed case. If this is a concern to you, attend the Water Commissioners meeting 3/14 at 6:30 PM.

Posted by: Gabby | Mar 16, 2018 11:19

I came back to see if there were any more updates on this article. Lisa has deleted so many of her comments on this and other articles. I wonder why.

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