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The Opinion Page

Counting Covid Cases In Schools Satewide

From the Springfield Republilcan

At the start of the new school year, districts across the state have reported 1,420 cases of COVID-19 among students and staff, according to state education officials.

On Thursday, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released its first COVID case report for the 2021-2022 school year, which represents cases reported from Sept. 13 to 15. Going forward, the report will cover a time frame of Thursday to Wednesday.

Of the 1,420 total cases reported so far, 1,230 were students and 190 were staff members, according to Thursday’s report. Districts have the majority of those cases, with 1,226 student infections and 181 infections reported among staff. Education collaboratives reported two student cases and three staff cases, and approved special education schools reported two student cases and six staff cases.

With roughly 920,000 students and 140,000 staff members currently in public school buildings, the rate of coronavirus cases in schools stands at 0.13% among students and 0.14% among staffers, according to the report.

Locally, Principal Aaron O'Connor reported no cases at the Center School.

Petersham Art Center Reception September 19

Nature artist and illustrator Gordon Morrison will display his recent works at an opening reception at the Petersham Art Center on Sunday, September 19, from 4-6 p.m. The exhibit will continue through October 20th.

Everyone is welcome to meet the artist and enjoy a celebration of his works. Mr. Morrison attended the Butera School of Art and the Boston Museum School of Art. He has illustrated over thirty nature handbooks, including several Peterson’s field guides and Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, He has won numerous awards for his children’s nature books. Come enjoy the festivities and refreshments! Free and open to all. Covid precautions will be in place. Masks will be required indoors.

Drive to Heywood Hospital Covid Testing

Heywood Hospital Damon Building. ** Appointment required **

Call 978-630-6186

Testing available Monday-Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm.
Closed on Sundays. Physician order/referral is not required.

The Heywood Hospital Damon Building (234 Green Street, Gardner, MA) is located across from Heywood Hospital (242 Green St. Gardner, MA).Enter through Matthews Street

 University of the Wild Fall Programs

The University of the Wild is offering a slate of programs for the Fall  All programs are based on its mission to offer "programs and services to people of all ages, circumstances, and persuasions for living and learning in connection and harmony with the Earth and All Life."  Specifics on each program can be found at www.UofWild.com or by calling (978) 724-0412 or e-mailing <Larry@UofWild.org

Health Center Schedules a September Flu Clinic

The Barre Family Health Center will hold a Flu vaccine clinic that is open to all patients of the health center, as well as to individuals with UMASS Primary Care Providers. The flu vaccine clinic will be held on Thursday, September 23, 2021, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Please call 978-355-6321 to schedule an appointment.

Red Apple Farm Is Going to the Dogs Sept. 22

Join the Northeast Houndsmen, Wednesday, September 22, 2021 at the Red Apple Farm, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for food, a huge raffle, and live music. We promise a good time will be had. We will have t-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and hats for sale supporting the Northeast Houndsmen. 

Red Apple Farm
455 Highland Ave

Northeast Houndsmen assists communities by training dogs and their handlers to excel in the rescue or recovery of those in need as they work with law enforcement agencies to bring about a successful conclusion to a search. The organization is committed to continued training, education, and sharing of ideas/ expertise to promote team effectiveness and unity. Community outreach and education is also a prime responsibility.

Is This a  State Program to Re-Use the Nichewaug?

Town-wide Tag Sale Saturday Sept. 18

    Rain Date:  Sept. 25

For Petersham Residents and Organizations
  On Petersham Common and Across Town 
Reservations must be made for spots on the Common.
If you are interested in a location on the Common or to list your address on the Map Hand-out, leave a message at Petersham Town Office tel. 978-724-3353.
Include your name, choice of location
(on Common or street address) & e-mail address
See flyer at this link.

Please Note: Candidate Announcements

www.petershamcommon.com will publish candidate announcements (with minimal editing for Associated Press style issues) and candidate qualifications well ahead of the coming November 15 election to fill the Selectboard seat recently vacated by Henry Woolsey. Succinct statements about any issues the candidates feel are paramount are welcome. Submissions will be accepted by email to info@petershamcommon.com .  Published on the LOCAL NEWS page. A profile headshot photo may be included. Letters to the Editor in support of or opposition to any candidate may be published on the OPINION PAGE at the publisher's discretion  

Art Pops Up in Orange Sept. 18

A pop-up marketplace featuring local artists is being planned for Saturday September 18th from 12-5 at 60 Chestnut Hill Road, Orange.market

The Pop up Marketplace is hosted at Forsters Farm, site of the North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival which is on hiatus for 2021. The marketplace will feature about twenty local artists familiar to festival goers. Admission and parking are free.

They Play Ball in Worcester

The Petersham Council on Aging is sponsoring a bus trip for adult fans to see the the Worcester Red Sox (WooSox) play the Rochester Red Wings at the new Polar Park stadium in Worcester on Wednesday, September 22.

 justin dodge

The bus will depart from the Petersham town hall at 5 p.m. and return the participants to Petersham after the game. The cost is $25 per person, which includes the bus ride to the park and back, a ticket to the game, and a $2 voucher towards food. Masks will be required during the bus ride. Call Phil at 978-724-0219 to sign up. Spaces are filling fast!

Chief Cooley, Sgt. Horne to Retire from PD

Police chief Dana Cooley told Selectmen on June 8 that he plans to retire  from the police department on Dec. 1. He joined the force in 1989 and has been chief for the past 11 years. In a related development, Sgt. Randy Horne said he is planning to retire in early 2022.
Both men said they plan to remain associated with the department as part-timers Selectboard chair Nancy Allen said planning the details of selecting  a new chief will begin shortly

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-minute 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 started July
1st and 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: 978-724-3223

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 readjusts to providing in-person services during this complicated time. 
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 PetershamLibraryRequests@gmail.com 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.

Handy Transfer Station Recycling Guide

Mike Seitz, transfer station assistant, provides this short guide to recycling.

These items should go in the regular trash bin: plastic bags, styrofoam, black plastic, glass and ceramic kitchenware, plastic or combination coat hangars, all medical devices. Any other items not marked for recycling. Questions? Ask          Paul or Mike.solar installations

Single-use household batteries go in the trash bin. Give rechargeable batteries to the transfer station monitors along with laptop batteries and button batteries. Auto batteries and the like can often be returned to auto parts stores or scrap yards for store credit or cash.


Petersham Wood Bank on Facebook

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). Should Petersham offer this convenient service to residents? Tell us what you think.

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


Switch to Amazon Prime and the Petersham Friday Market can get a small donation for our music program from each purchase.


Here Is What We Think About the Nichewaug

HERE is a link to results of a recent town-wide survey seeking voter opinions about what the town should do about the Nichewaug property... CLICK HERE.



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

Just for the Fun of It... click here

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Send it here: info@petershamcommon,com

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 aearthlands 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

Get Some Free Stuff
You Can't Beat These Prices
At the Dump

Transfer Station (DUMP) Fees

Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

what's open

Free Property Valuation Booklet

The Valuation and Taxes of the Town of Petersham for the Year 2016 booklet is available at the Petersham Town Offices at the Board of Assessors Office, the Selectboard Office and the Petersham Memorial Library during regular business hours. Interested Petersham taxpayers are invited to pick up a free copy.

February 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

 our hisory

Official Town Website -

Committee meeting notices and minutes are posted at  www.mytowngovernment.org

Colorful Fish

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

and A Place to Stay the Night


eddies wheels


Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

"Great Plates, Eat Out."





Nichewaug Moves Another Inch Toward Demolition

The Selectboard agreed Sept. 14 to seek bids for demolishing the Nichewaug Inn and Academy buildings and to schedule a December special town meeting to put demolition before voters again. Impetus for the action was prompted in part by a citizen petition signed by 134 residents. The Nichewaug has a Facebook page. Click Here to visit.

Prompted by questions from the audience, board chair Nancy Allen said the town has yet to receive advice from town counsel regarding the proper use of exemptions from the state conflict of interest laws. The law requires that a Rule of Necessity that exempts a board member from conflict concerns be used sparingly and only when an action is legally required as in meeting a contract deadline or paying a due bill.

Allen is an abutter to the Nichewaug property but the board, presently with two members, cannot function if she cannot participate. Coincidentally, both candidates to fill the third board seat, are also legal abutters to the property.

Allen has been working to draw up demolition bid documents in advance of last night's vote. She said the bid documents will first call for total demolition with a second option for demolishing the building except for the former chapel. A garage on the property that stores town-owned antique fire trucks would remain, she said.

LifePath Building Support Network for Seniors

LifePath, a Franklin County not for profit has invited Petersham to join a growing network of  communities to survey the needs of seniors and provide services. The agency proposes to work with local age councils and volunteers to determine what is needed in its 30 community service area. Nour Strouch told the Selectboard the agency is creating "age friendly" communities. The grant-funded effort has support from Petersham's age council, which already helps Petersham Partners volunteers provide transportation and other services to seniors. The Selectboard welcomed the idea and will consider joining in.

jam band


New Dump Stickers Will Be Green

Current dump stickers expire on Sept. 30. New stickers will be green. They will be available at the town office, Petersham Package Store and at the transfer station later this  month. No change in pricing -- two for $25. The Selectboard is ordering an additional roll-off container to handle a surplus of paper refuse.


Center School Students Returned August 30

Some 117 elementary students will be returning to the Center School beginning at 8:15 a.m. Monday August 30. About half are school choice students from other towns.

All will be wearing masks indoors and out/ New principal Aaron O'Connor of Barre said the   Petersham students who come to the school on buses will also be masked and bus windows will be open for fresh air. The school ventilation system has been upgraded over the summer, he said.

A Bad Day for a Moose, a Motorcycle and a Big Turkey

ACO Call Log Summary
August 2021

08/01 @9p dispatch call regarding loose sheep, attempted to reach out to possible owner with no response, update provided to dispatch with plan included

@9:15p contact made with friend of possible owner, to area, animals safely moved to property of owner and secured at 9:45p

08/03 several calls from resident regarding barking dog

08/04 @9:15a call to report lost dog, postings placed on FB and lost dog groups

08/08 @5p caller states beaver causing a flooding condition on road, laws regarding trapping reviewed with homeowner and options given

08/09 @7a LM with highway regarding the issue with beaver causing flooding on road

@9a resident of abutting town called with a request to post lost cat on PAWS FB page, post provided

08/10 @4-6p Pet Safety and Pet Medical Emergency program presented at Athol Library

08/12 @4p and 5p calls from PPD regarding retiles belonging to another party left at the home of town resident, options given, PPD to follow up along with other matters

08/13 @5p lost dog out of Athol sighted in Petersham, to area to set humane trap and satellite camera at location seen

@5:45p resident call regarding deceased bat found in home, contact made with Wachusett AH with plan to have bat dropped off at hospital for submission to State lab for testing

08/14 @6a call from Athol owner of lost dog with a sighting near trap made by a Petersham resident, suggestions given to owner to follow if they are able to go to the area

@8a lost dog safely secured

08/15 @9:30a resident reports found dog that is being held at their home, possible owner contacted, to area to retrieve dog (dog safe)

08/16 @4p FU call with PPD regarding reptiles

@4:15p call from resident regarding loose dog (possible other animal) near 122, to area

@4:45p call from out of town resident regarding porcupine in Petersham barn that has not moved X24 hours, options given, caller will proceed with option

@5:45p resident call for lost dog, FB postings and alerts published, to area to search, feeding station with cell and satellite cameras set

@7p call placed to abutting town PDs regarding lost dog from earlier

08/17 @6a follow up calls to local PDs regarding lost dog, dispatch confirmed a dog was picked up in Phillipston the prior night, spoke with ACO, spoke with owners, dog picked up in from Phillipston ACO

@7a trap set for feral cat staying in local barn

@9:30a cat in trap, transported to animal shelter

@12p call to State lab regarding status of bat submitted in the evening of 8/13. Bat tested negative for rabies, resident who was out of state at the time was notified of result

@8:15p resident call about barking dog, to follow up with possible owner and provide update to caller

08/18 @7a feral cat transported to Second Chance Animal Hospital for exam, neutering, and vaccinations

@8:45a call from motorist stating they picked up a running dog off route 122, met motorist at shelter, dog placed in shelter. No microchip or other form of identification found, local ACOs contacted, Athol ACO gave a possible phone number for a likely owner, contact made with owner and arrangements made for pickup of dog

@10:30a Dog in shelter picked up by owner

@4:15p to Second Chance to pick up feral cat and transported back to Petersham

08/19 @11a barking dog complaint, action taken

@9p call from motorist regarding large bird near Harvard Forest that appears to have been hit by car, to area to remove large deceased turkey

08/28 @12p call from town resident that they had just picked up a friendly dog on route 32, no owner appeared to be in area, met resident at the shelter for transfer. Dog scanned, microchip traced to owner, dog reunited with owner (who was out looking for dog)

@3p Odd acting porcupine on route 32 moved off road by PPD, told officer on duty the area would be checked in an hour or so to be sure the animal had moved

@8:15p call from resident travelling back into town on route 32 and stopped for an injured moose, resident pulled vehicle over stated they will stay on scene, calls placed to State Police and EMS (individual calling believes there is an injured motorcyclist off the road) and Environmental Police (they informed someone would be sent to access moose)

Note, when caller stated the nearest house they could see, it was determined the accident occurred in Athol.

We'll Be Doubling Down at the Dump

Selectboard voted August 24 to add a weekday and three dump hours at the transfer station. Which weekday will be decided later. There will be no change to Saturday hours and no change to the drive up traffic pattern. Under discussion: a dumpster to isolate clean tin cans and an additional container for paper and cardboard.

The board announced a  special election on November 15 to  elect a new member to replace Henry Woolsey who has resigned. He will keep his seat as a member of the Conservation Commission.

Candidates for the seat can take out nomination papers starting August 30 from town clerk Diana Cooley and return them by September 27. Signatures of 20 registered voters are required. Last day for new voters to register to vote is October 26.pro v

The board noted receipt of $376,632 in federal American Recovery Act funding and began ticking off a list of ways to spend it. Fire station renovations to include a washing station for safety gear top the list.

There will be a household hazardous waste day on September 25.

Center School Requires Masking Indoors

The Center School committee voted 2 to 1 August 18 to have students and staff wear masks indoor but not on the outdoor playground. That vote differs from a Board of HealthMATRIX guideline to wear masks indoors and outdoors except where outdoor social distancing is possible and came amid questions about whether state or local rules come first.

Aaron O'Connor of Barre was named interim principal with a review of the appointment in one year. He will oversee the start of this school year.

Members are seeking community comment on their study of whether to withdraw from a current regional system and become an independent school. They promised an interim report in January.

Petersham's Covid Vaccination Report from the State

A study of Petersham's Covid 19 vaccination statistics shows that a local vaccination clinic and individual actions have reached all of the town's seniors. Two Pfizer clinics were held at the  Center School and residents could get  vaccinated in Rutland as well.

   Some 83% of individuals age 75 plus and 100% of individuals age 65-74 in Petersham have received the vaccine.  jeromy

   Some 48% of the 30-49 year old age group have yet to receive the vaccine. The survey suggests reaching out to this age group to promote the vaccination effort with  a mobile vaccine unit onsite on a Saturday at the local ball fields, an after work hours  pop-up mobile vaccine unit in the center of the Town, or a give-away opportunity for individuals coming to get vaccinated. 

   Faith based organizations could prove to help reach populations that need local public health assistance, the report says.

"The Town of Petersham has been incredibly successful with your vaccine efforts and you should have a great sense of pride for the service you have been able to provide to your citizens.  Please share this data with officials in your Town to highlight the great work your department has been able to accomplish." godin

The report to the Board of Health comes from Jamie Terry, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planner at the Office of Health & Medical Preparedness in Worcester.

Fifi Scoufopoulos, Health Board chair, said local health clinics are reporting little interest from unvaccinated members of the public in receiving the vaccine so no additional clinics are planned. The Board of Selectmen discussed ways of raising the vaccination rate at its recent meeting but took no action. The Friday Market will provide $5 and $10 coupons for buying fresh local food to shoppers with proof of previous or new vaccinations. Ask the market coordinator.

Voters Approve Study of Dropping Out of Union With Orange Elementary Schools

Town meeting voters approved a study of making the Center School independent - possibly dropping out of a years-long consolidation with K-6 schools  in Orange. The citizen petition is a non-binding resolution. The local school committee voted on June 14 to support launching the study.

Voters also approved a bylaw change that  drops "selectmen" from town documents  in favor of the non-gender "selectboard." Two board members are women. Selectboard chair Nancy Allen said many towns across the state are making the change. The socially distanced meet also approved spending for new playground equipment at Center School and one new truck each for the fire and highway departments

Before the meeting voters received a letter signed by "The Concerned Parents of the Petersham Center School" asserting that control of the school has more disadvantages than advantages. "For example, finances are managed by Orange with little or no input from the Petersham Center School administration, staff or town leaving the decisions being made by people who are not in the building seeing what our children or teachers need."

The letter said all elementary students in Orange got new Chromebook computers during the Covid pandemic so  they could study remotely, but, "...there were no available funds to purchase new ones for every student in Petersham."

"As parents, we have seen our children try to work through a pandemic with broken computers that were vital in their education. A few new computers were able to be purchased for Petersham while Orange students all received new computers."

The letter urged voters to attend town meeting at 7 p.m. June 21 in Town Hall.  More than 100 voters attended.

The Friday Market Is Back. 3-6 p.m. Every Friday

May 17 Town Election Results

Becky Legare was elected as a write-in candidate to fill Rik Marsh's vacant seat on the Selectboard with 98 votes. Incumbent Selectman Henry Woolsey was unopposed and re-elected with 108 votes Jamie Hatch was elected to fill Dana Kennan's seat on the Board of Assessors with 109 votes.

Twelve percent or 120 of the town's 989 registered voters cast ballots.
Complete results here.

Covid Updates from the State Dept. of Public Health

Link to town by town data

Swap Shed Opened - Transfer Station Hours Normal

OPINION: Send Us Your Opinions About the Nichewaug MORE

The Friday Market  -- MORE

Town Hall Access Committee Report

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