State Reimbursement for Broadband Still Uncertain

Members of the Broadband Municipal Light Plant met for an update on the town's high-speed internet project on August 16 and learned that promised state    repayment for the system remains uncertain.

Last month, the state changed the rules and now requires that only towns which build, own and operate their own internet systems will be repaid. Petersham has contracted with a third party to do the work but has an option to purchase and operate the resulting fiber optic system. The town has appropriated and borrowed some $560,000 and hopes for a promised $770,000 reimbursement from the state.

Light board chairman Chip Bull said the committee and Selectmen have written to state agencies and legislators arguing that Petersham's approach to ownership should not disqualify the promised reimbursement but as yet has no answer and no commitment to hold the money aside until a determination is made.

Chris Lynch from matrix Design told the committee that its survey of 1934 utility poles is complete and applications to add fiber optic cabling are ready to be submitted to the utility companies. He said the system could be operating before next summer's annual town meeting and that Petersham is moving ahead of other un-served and underserved western Massachusetts towns. Matrix is being paid $48,350 for  its survey of all 1,934 utility poles in town.  The survey was meant to determine what work must be done before another cable is  hung on each pole.

Bull said, "We are on track. We are going to have our network," adding that the lack of a firm commitment for state funding is a "frustrating problem." Bull said he is worried that promised state funds may be spent elsewhere, leaving none for Petersham.

Old Home Day Comes to the Common on August 27

The Petersham Lions are planning their annual Old Home Day on the Common for August 27. Petersham Grange shares the day with its annual Horticultural Fair.

The Lions start the day with a pancake breakfast from the chick wagon at 8 a.m. and a foot race at 8:30 -- registration starts at 8. Lunch at the chuck wagon starts at 11 a.m. Events will include a dunk tank, youth baseball game on the common, children's games and activities and m ore. Police, the library and the historical society will have tents on the common and the Historical Society museum across the street will be open.mallet rubbish

Drop off horticultural fair entries starting at 8 a.m. Rules are available at the Post Office and  Library. Judging will be from 10:15 a.m. to noon and fair doors open at noon. Rik Marsh's chili contest tasting happens at 112:30 p.m. and the Grange benefit auction of horticultural entries starts at 2:30 p.m. The Historical Society will present historical items on the common. Old Home Day is a celebration of family, friends and community.

Town Hall Access Plan Waits - Broadband Moves Ahead

Operating on a "summer schedule" and with one member absent the Selectboard said it would take no action to fill a vacancy on the Town Hall Handicap Access Committee or to evaluate bids to provide a "temporary" ramp outside the building. Members Nancy Allen and Rik Marsh voted to have the existing ramp, closed for safety reasons, removed by the highway department. Two companies have offered to install a temporary ramp for about $18,000. The access committee favors a mechanical lift installed inside the side door that would connect upper and lower halls and not disrupt the exterior appearance of the building.

quabbin woods

Proposals for temporary ramps include access to the front door or access to the southwest corner side door and would cost between $15,000 and nearly $20,000. A resident has offered to donate up to $15,000 for a temporary ramp on condition that it will lead to an interior elevator or lift solution being installed.  Members of the Access Committee plan to meet with an elevator company representative to get specifics.

Town Hall Access Committee Report: The five-member committee has been looking for the best ways to make Town Hall accessible to disabled people. Seniors and others interviewed have all said they would prefer an elevator or a  lift solution to an exterior ramp. Here's a link to the report the committee delivered to Selectmen on June 27. Click the link above to read the report.

Roy Nilson, who publishes, is a member of the access committee.

The Selectboard also approved starting work to building an equipment room in the lower town hall for the planned broadband system. One bidder, Clearview Contracting of town, bid $13,000 to build a seven by 25-foot room. The board also reviewed letters sent earlier in the week to state agencies and officials asking that the state release the town's promised reimbursement for the work. At present, the state plans to fund projects in western Massachusetts towns that will own and operate their own broadband systems. Petersham has hired a New Jersey company to build, own and operate a local system.

The board will now take a week off and meet again on August 22.

Friday Market  Rocks the Bandstand

The Equalites bring their blend of Caribbean reggae music to the bandstand on August 18.

At the Friday Market a dozen local vendors offer organic produce, fresh corn and other produce from the Pioneer Valley, started plants of many kinds, locally raised meat, chickens, local eggs, baked goods, home-baked dog cookies, local honey, handmade soaps and other craft items. hardwick  farmers coop

The market is open to regular and occasional vendors and to information booths staffed by social service and health care agencies who share information about their programs and services.

The Friday Market offers a program of free music each Friday thanks to major support from Heywood Healthcare, the Wild Geese Foundation, Petersham Town Meeting voters, the Petersham Cultural Council, The Country Store, Waterwheel Realty, the Memorial Library and from individual local donors.
Friday Market vendors vary weekly and include Petersham's Sweetwater Farm (organic produce, meat), Golden Egg Farm (fresh local eggs and chickens) Patsy Buck Handmade Soaps, witty

The Little Chicken Factory (mobile chicken coops), Bob Hayward's local garlic, Pick and Shovel Farm (plants and produce), Kiwi Meadows Farm (produce), Walnut Kitchen Homestead (produce, meat and other items), Rick Wilkey from Orange (produce). Sunset Valley Farm produce, plants and herbs from Friendship Farm, plants from Hartman's Herb Farm and more. Tracey's Traditionals offers all-natural, non-toxic and herbal personal care and wellness products.

The Friday Market is on the Petersham town common from 3 to 6 p.m. each Friday in season. For information, contact Roy Nilson (978-724-6662) or by e-mail:

2017 Parade Photos

first 4 july parade

Twenty Years Ago, Beth Cummings Started a Parade

Beth Cummings of West Street passed away on January 3, 2017. but the parade that she began as a neighbors' stroll around the Old Maid's Mile continues and will celebrate its 20th anniversary in her honor on July 4 this year.beremco

In 1997, Beth thought there should be "something to do" on the holiday so she rounded up some family and the neighbors and took them for a Fourth of July walk.  Since then, she was joined by more townspeople, by new and antique fire trucks, police cruisers, politicians, antique cars, parade floats including the Petersham Grange "float with a goat," social groups, family groups, a horse color guard from Crimson Acres and a sizeable roadside audience. Beth's little neighbors' walk has turned into the North Quabbin's only Fourth of July parade. Marchers will celebrate the parade's 20th anniversary this year.