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Library's Annual Tea Returns June 11
The library Board just could not let another year go by without some sort of Annual Tea! We are hoping for nice weather next Sunday, June 11 from 2:00 - 4:00 for our outdoor Tea. We will also have lemonade and iced tea, and the building will be open for us to go in and out of, as needed. We hope you will come to this first-ever June Tea and will also do a bit of baking for our snack tables.

UU Church June Schedule

Greetings Friends - here is our schedule of church services for the glorious month of June, ending with the traditional Flower Communion before we break for the summer. Please join us. Services start at 10:30 in the Sanctuary*, and we gather for coffee and conversation immediately after each service.
June 4 - Polly Pillsbury - "A Creator on Acting and Song Writing" 
June 11 - Katja Esser will present an interactive service in the round. 
*NOTE* This service will be held in the Davis Memorial Hall.
June 18 - Kevin Mooney - "Forgiveness"
June 25 - Rini Kilcoyne and Parish - "Flower Communion" (please bring a flower or two from your field or garden to share)
Carboys For Sale

Four 5-gallon glass carboys in new condition, three with handles, in their antique wood cases, held fast and protected from breaking with interior spring-loaded wood slats. Plus 5 dozen heavy-glass champagne bottles to hold your brew.

Last chance $100.  617-930-3274

UU Summer Services
May 21st - Rini Kilcoyne "Activism in the Multiverse"
May 28th - Memorial Day Interfaith Service at the Orthodox Congregational Church 
June 4th - John G. Root "The Power of Imagination and Manifesting vs. the Dumbing Down of Public Education" with Marc Erwin and Rini Kilcoyne, musicians
June 11th - Open
June 18th - Open 
June 25th - "Flower Communion" - Parish members led by Rini, with Marc Erwin

Petersham Art Center ~ Spring Classes 2023

MAKING COLOR, MIXING MAGIC! Saturday, May 20, 9-12Noon~with Elaine Griffith. In this workshop, you’ll learn the secrets to getting exactly the colors you want and learn how to use a palette knife to make them clean and brilliant. You’ll make color charts and learn the skills to make all the colors in the world around you! Cost: $15 members / $35 non-members. Materials Fee $10.

Sue Morello of Sheldon Farm Baskets will teach a class on basket-making on Saturday, June 3, from 9 to 1 p.m. Participants can make a tobacco basket, or may choose another basket type. Fee: $20 members, $40 non-members, materials fee $16. Call PAC at 978-724-3415.

To enroll in a class, email Chris at


Two Church Programs

The church is providing Adult Christian Education on various topics at the Church's Andrew Hall, 21 N. Main St (Rt. 32), on the Second and Fourth Wednesdays starting at 6:30 p.m. The current series is “What's the Difference? Christian Church Edition” exploring the difference between the various types of churches. Programs simulcast on Zoom and Facebook Live, details and links on our Facebook page.

The church announced revised semi-monthly Friday Funday Programming at the Church's Andrew Hall, 21 N. Main St (Rt. 32) starting at 7p.m. First Fridays of the Month will feature a Family Movie Night where a selection of options will be provided and the attendees will vote on which movie. Third Fridays of the Month will feature a Games Night for all ages and all types of games, and attendees may bring their own games to share. Light refreshments will be provided at both programs. Attendees may bring items as well. Details and updates on our Facebook page.

Food Pantries Serving Petersham Residents

Orange, MA Food Pantry
118 East Main Street (across from the Armory)
Open Thursdays 10-3

Evan Manning - coordinator

Salvation Army Athol
Food Pantry 107 Ridge Ave.
Open Tuesday,  Friday | 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
This food pantry is available twice a month or on an emergency basis.
Please call 978.249.8111 for details.
Take out meal program Tuesday nights.

Nichewaug Video Tour 1993

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Send it here: info@petershamcommon,com has been putting local Petersham news and information online since 1996. This website averages 7,500 page views each month - more than any  other source of local Petersham news. It is a good place to spread the word about community events so all can see. There is an Opinion Page open for  thoughts and comments from everyone -- just like Letters to the Editor in a newspaper.

 This website is NOT an official outlet for town government. It presents fact-based reporting about town government and news about local events. The site is updated nearly every day, so please put us on your list when sending out your news. Simple text e-mails listing who, what, when, where and why do nicely - no PDFs and no posters please. Send it here: info@petershamcommon,com

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Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

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Selectboard Office Hours

Monday 8  a.m. – 4  p.m.
Tuesday 8  a.m. – 4  p.m.
Wednesday, Thursday
8  a.m. – 4  p.m.
Friday Closed

Sen. Anne Gobi

Rep. Susannah Whipps

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Official Town Website -

Committee meeting notices and minutes are posted at


Colorful Fish

If only the river were this blue...
Photos from Petersham, Surrey, England

and A Place to Stay the Night

Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

"Great Plates, Eat Out."






Voters Will Face a $5 Million Budget at June 5 Town Meeting

Voters will face a $5 million budget for the coming fiscal year at the annual town meeting at 7 p.m. Monday June 5 in town hall.

The budget contains a request to make up an $87,000 deficit in payment for the Maria Assumpta demolition and is a scant few hundreds of  dollars shy of requiring a tax override. Copies of the budget are  available around town and online at
this link.

The meeting will also consider whether to accept a gift of a solar powered lighting system that would illuminate the American flag on the south common and allow the flag to fly both day and night.

A second citizen petition would expand the board to five members to increase the  board's base of experience, share the workload and allow greater voter contact with town government. It would also limit select board members to only serving in that position. More than half or 142 Massachusetts towns have 5-member boards today.

A third petition would provide a small fund to the Friday Market that will expand the market's local no-cost edibles coupon program in the wake of government cutbacks in food stamp benefits.

The Friday Market Returned May 26

The Friday Market will launch its 20 week 2023 season on the town common at 3 p.m., May 26.

Vendors including Coolidge Hill Farm in New Salem and Rick Wilkey Produce will be on hand with fresh local produce. Other edibles include local ice cream from Thompson Maple Farm in New Braintree. Stone Harvest Farm is scheduled to bring local fresh eggs and Kate Morreale of Golden Egg Farm in Hardwick promises to bring blue-ribbon award-winning Silkie chickens.

Petersham's Little Chicken Factory will debut a new line of Alpaca-based organic plant food. Other vendors will have edibles and craft items on display including bat and bird houses and local Girl scouts are scheduled to bring Girl Scout cookies. Social service agencies are invited to present information about their services

The Petersham Jams house band was on hand to provide its unique brand of musical entertainment.

On June 2, the OverEasy Jazz band, a five-piece acoustic group, plays traditional jazz music from the 1920s and 1930s. Artists of the era included Joe "King" Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Scott Joplin, Louis Armstrong, W.C. Handy, and Duke Ellington. 

Supported by the banjo and tuba rhythm section, the line of trumpet, clarinet, and trombone plays a mix of traditional melodies, harmonies, and improvisation. The band repertoire also includes second-line parade tunes, ragtime pieces, and tango music. Quiet enough to allow people to talk but lively enough to be the subject of conversation, the band plays mostly instrumental music with occasional vocals.

On June 9, Second Chance Animal Services is offering a walk-in animal vaccination clinic for pets on leashes from its mobile van. Rabies shots are $5. microchips are $22 -- cash only.


Sen. Gobi to Leave State Senate

State Sen. Anne Gobi will leave the Legislature to become the state’s first director of rural affairs, a newly created post in the Healey administration.

Gobi will start her new job June 5, according to Healey’s office. Her Senate departure date is unclear. The move will trigger a special election in the central Massachusetts district she represents.

Comerford Gets a Legislator of the Year Award

Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) was honored at the 2023 Annual Foster/Adoptive Parent Recognition Awards Brunch by the Massachusetts Alliance for Foster Families (MAFF), the state association working to enhance the well-being of children in out-of-home placements and the families who care for them, with its Lisa Anne Jenkins MAFF Legislator of the Year Award for her work on behalf of children and for her perseverance in securing passage of the Foster Parent Bill of Rights. 

Talking History Comes to Petersham

The Petersham Historical Society has initiated "Talking History Corner" at the Petersham Memorial Library.  The first of this series of monthly gatherings will take place on Wednesday, May 17th from 5:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Library. 

Using a range of historic photographs and videos, attendees will be able to recall and share their own understandings and memories of events that happened in the Town of Petersham.  
       To stimulate memories and discussion of topics like the disasters, like the Hurricane of 1938 and the tornado of 1953; major community events like Petersham Agricultural Fairs in the middle 1900's; and famous and infamous residents and guests like Dorthy Eaton, artist and John Fiske, internationally known Historian will be presented. The informal and interactive conversations will be achieved through the Oral History Project of the "People's History of Petersham.  The creator of the program, Barbara Hanno said, "I have lived in Petersham for a number of years and do know there are many amazing stories held by residents which must be told.  I look forward to learning more history from those who lived it."
The program, co-sponsored by the Petersham Historical Society and the Petersham Memorial Library, is free and open to Petersham and friends from other communities.  For information contact Barbara Hanno, vice-president of the Petersham Historical Society at <> or (978) 724-0219

Grange Retunes Margarine the  Musical

The Petersham Grange will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Massachusetts State Grange with a performance of MARGARINE THE MUSICAL - AN AGRARIAN MELODRAMA. On June 4, 2023, at 2:30 in the upstairs Town Hall,
Sing with us as we follow farmers in their eternal search for or land, community and real food. Meet the first climate changers (hint - not humans) outside the gates of Hell in Eleusis and follow them through the end of the end of history right into the future. You will come to understand how the Grange has managed to stay relevant from its beginnings after the Civil War until the present day.

The songs will be from the original Grange Melodies song book supplemented by a few modern songs about the farmers' struggles in the modern world.
Parts are still available though preference will be given to Grange members. First meeting of the Margarine group will be at the Upper Town Hall at 2:30 on April 30th. Subsequent meetings (aka rehearsals) will be on the following Sundays right up until the actual performance on June 4th. For more information contact Ellen Anderson at

Petersham Sued Over Solar Project

SunPin Energy Services, a $5.1 million revenue California-based solar facilities company, is suing Petersham for denying permission to build a solar farm on land off New Athol Road. The 20-plus acre project was approved by the local Conservation Commission but stumbled when the Zoning Board of Appeals failed to vote unanimously in favor.

The ZBA vote was two in favor to one opposed in a case where a unanimous vote is required. The case will be heard at 2 p.m. on July 19 at Land Court in Boston.

In a court filing,  the developer, argues that the "no" vote was arbitrary and capricious and that the project will not be "...detrimental or offensive to the present or future character of" the neighborhood or the community. And asks the court to    overrule the local vote and allow the project. The company argues that the ZBA exceeded its authority by denying a special permit.

ZBA members Donald O'Neil and Brian MacEwen voted to approve the project. Member Maryanne Reynolds voted no and chose not to comment on the matter. Town officials held a recent closed session to discuss the court suit.

The wooded property is owned by Ralph Lapinkas Jr. of Athol.

Internet Outages Were Discussed April 11

Eight members of the community met with the Broadband Committee  to review four recent  internet outages at its April 11 meeting  in the lower town hall.

Chair Chip Bull said the local internet network performs well an has achieved 99.84 percent uptime in recent months. Members discussed Matrix data logs showing the average Petersham network up/down time since going fully operational in 2021. Matrix representative Chris Lynch said two of four outages had to do with equipment that failed at a Cambridge company that provides internet services to Matrix.

The outages in question began on;
Tuesday Feb 21,2023  at 10.00.02 AM
Sunday  March 26, 2023 at 4.20.32 PM
Monday  April 3, 2023  at 5.16.23 PM
Tuesday April 4, 2023 at 12.10.30 PM

Bull said, " There will always be outages, always. What we need to do is how do we respond to them." Lynch said Matrix is planning to issue a small rebate and will work to promote its existing system of using cell phone text messages to keep customers up to date. Some  477 local homes or 90 percent use the Matrix service, he said

Fire Chief to Retire after 35 Years

Chief Dana Robinson of West Street is retiring June 30 after 35 years with the local fire department. He also serves as forest warden and as town treasurer.

In a letter to the Selectboard, Robinson said: It has been my pleasure to serve as your f ire chief over the past 35 years.

I am proud of all of the men and women who currently serve and have served the Town and the Department  during my tenure.  Over the years, I have tried to keep our department equipped with the necessary tools to safely perform the job. I have advocated for replacement apparatus where needed and utilized alternative funding sources to stretch the tax dollars further.

I believe I will leave the Fire Department in a much better condition today than it was 35 years ago.

Town Offices Returned to Normal Hours on March 1

The Selectboard voted Feb. 16 to restore normal access to all town offices on March 1. The brick building has been operating a patchwork of various open times and different times and days for different offices for more than a year. No mention was made of the more than 50 heated comments about limited access to town services posted recently on the internet,

Chair Nancy Allen said the staggered hours and locked front door were an attempt to protect part-time employees during the Covid-19 emergency. She said the "hybrid approach has been functioning pretty well" and said previously that the board had heard no complaints from residents. 

Several weeks ago Jennifer Dejackome and Tina Leslie attended a board meeting to let board members know that the arrangement was inconvenient and upsetting to residents. Documents for town committees were dropped in a collection box. Residents picking up paperwork could find them in envelopes taped to the outside front door. Departing  board member made a motion too "fully open" the building effective March 1. The vote was 3 to 0 in favor.

Food Stamp Benefit Cuts on the Table
State House News Service

BOSTON — Residents all over Massachusetts are scheduled to absorb a significant decrease in food assistance aid in just over two weeks, with more than 630,000 households facing a loss of about a third of what they have received in SNAP benefits over the past two years.

As low-income families and individuals who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to put food on the table and make ends meet prepare for the reduction, the state Legislature has before it a proposal to continue, at least in part, the pandemic-era emergency SNAP allotments. But with the federal declaration that assistance tied to COVID-19 will be phased out this spring, the state has before it an aid cliff and slowing revenue growth to fill those gaps after several years of elevated spending.

Massachusetts residents have received extra SNAP dollars to help combat the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.

A Possible Tax Windfall From Quabbin Retreat
New Program Planned

Petersham could realize some $100,000 in new annual tax collections due to the transfer of ownership at Quabbin Retreat, 211 to a for-profit owner. The Board of Assessors recently voted to send the new owners a bill for $45,000 to cover the last half of the current tax year and to seek cost estimates for having the property assessment updated for the following year.

Heywood Hospital, a non-profit,  was making a $30,000 annual payment in lieu of taxes but  the new owner, Waterstone Properties Group is a for-profit taxpayer. The complex is presently assessed at $5.6 million and the new owner took a $5.4 million mortgage to cover the sale and renovations according to Ellen Anderson, assessor's chair. A revised assessment in that range could produce an annual tax bill of nearly $100,000.

Renovations are complete on a building at the Quabbin Retreat on North Main Street. The plan is to house 12 to 24 mothers and children participating in a new substance abuse recovery program. The Gardner Athol Area Mental Health Association plans to operate the program. Heywood bought the property in 2017 and sold it last year.

Dawn Casavant, Heywood Hospital vice president of external affairs said previously that two other substance abuse programs currently operate at the former Catholic nuns residence. Heywood recently transferred ownership of the facility to Waterstone Properties Group, Inc. of Needham in August of 2022. The facility houses – Heywood’s Dana Day Treatment Center and Belmont-based McLean Hospital’s Addiction Treatment Center at Naukeag.

Petersham town officials have expressed private concerns that children whose parents are in the planned residential program could be enrolled at and bring new expenses to the Center School.


all done

Stamford Wrecking has removed the heavy equipment used to demolish the Nichewaug buildings.

Cellar holes have been filled and loam has been spread across the now flat lot.

 How Shall We Honor the Flag?

You can find Bill Berry on the common each day around dusk.  He is there to lower the American flag that graces our town common as he has done almost every day for the past  34 years. Unless a flag is illuminated, the rules say it should be raised at the start and     lowered at the end of each day.

Now Berry and Bill Purple, a long-serving former selectman, are proposing to light the flagpole with a solar lighting system.  free living farmThey presented their proposal to the Selectboard on Oct. 22.

Board member Becky Legare asked whether the proposed system would change the amount of light in the center of town at night. Chair Nancy Allen suggested that forming a volunteer group to take care of raising and lowering the flag might be a better solution and said the board  members would spend the next several days informally seeking public opinion and possibly visiting some lit-up flagpole sites in other towns. "I like the ritual of raising and lowering the flag," she said.

Purple said the lighting would be beautiful. "This is not going to be a blast of light at the top of the flagpole. Lights would be pointed downward, he said. "This is not going to cost the town anything. I am going to pay for it. It will allow the flag to fly 24 hours a day." he said.
The board will revisit the issue at their October 6 meeting.

How Petersham Spent Its Covid Aid Money

When President Biden announced the $4.3 trillion federal Covid assistance plan, he said the money would "... put food on people's tables." Guidelines directed assistance to "disadvantaged families, small businesses and non-profits" with subordinate beneficiaries. The same guidelines then offered cities and towns "broad discretion" in allocating the money.

Permitted uses include "Health and safety of the public and town staff... Upgrades improving remote access to Town business and Upgrades and support for recreational activities for healthy living." The guidelines then offered cities and towns "broad discretion" in dispersing those

Like many other communities, the Petersham Selectboard is taking full advantage of that additional language. There is no process that allows individuals, small businesses or non-profits to apply for Covid assistance.

The town has so far received $376.632 in Covid relief according to an official review of its own ARPA spending plan. It has not announced the availability of any funds for families, small businesses or non-profits. There is no mention of aid to families, businesses or local charities in the end of July overview. Only one 501c3 charity has directly applied for funds and that application has not been discussed by the board.

Several of the first-promised allocations are being reworked to provide a second round of Covid money for the Nichewaug demolition. The largest appropriation from the Covid funds ( now $200,000) will pay part of the cost of demolishing the Nichewaug complex. Other spending is being reduced as a result, including a planed $63,500 for the fire department including a commercial drying system for protective gear, $35,638 for police department equipment, $18,000 for new elementary school playground equipment, $32,000 for fire department building painting and upgrades. $13,000 to upgrade assessors' software, $11,000 for a walk-in freezer at the school, $6,000 for a nature program at the school $9,500 for a transfer station roll off container and $5,000 for the Memorial Library.

Should Petersham Take Online Payment for Taxes?

More than 300 small and large communities across the state have easy systems to accept online payments for town fees (dog licenses and dump permits, etc.) and for tax payments (excise and property taxes). godinShould Petersham offer this convenient service to residents? Tell us what you think.

Send an email to with a subject line "E-Payments" stating simply Yes or No or include more thoughts.

Covid Updates from the State Dept. of Public Health

Link to town by town data

The Friday Market  -- MORE

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Monthly Foot Screening for Seniors

The Council on Aging now offers monthly “Foot Screening” for seniors. The treatment will be provided by Melinda Powling, owner of “Nails to Envy” in Orange. Treatments will include a 15-minutesolar installations foot soak, then clipping toenails (no polish). Melinda will then inspect your feet, and let each person know if they should consult a doctor about anything.

The Foot Screenings
will be available on the first Thursday of each month in the lower town hall. Each person will pay $5.00 directly to Melinda when the appointment occurs, with the balance of $10.00 being paid by the COA. Appointments are required. Appointments will be available from 8:15 a.m. until 10 a.m. Clients must bring their own towels. Melinda will follow Petersham Board of Health approved guidelines. For Questions or Appointments: Contact Marilyn Fisher at: 978-724-

The Memorial Library Is Open
The Petersham Memorial Library welcomes patrons back for in-person browsing with no appointment necessary. The library would like to thank the community for bearing with us as staff adjusts to providing service during this complicated time. pump
Tuesday 10-5 p.m.
Wednesday 2-7 p.m.
Friday 2-5 p.m.
Saturday 9-1 p.m.

Curbside Pickup Service is also available. Please call (978) 724-3405 or email to make arrangements. 

The library requires everyone over the age of two to properly wear masks or face coverings in the building at all times in order to help ensure the health and safety of our patrons, community, and staff. Without vaccine coverage for our youngest patrons, a large indoor footprint for people to really spread out, or an HVAC system, masking remains a useful and important health and safety tool at the library. The staff looks forward to continuing to safely serve the Petersham community.