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Congregational Services Have Resumed

Sunday services have resumed at the Congregational church at 10 a.m. each week. Members are wearing masks and only every other row of pews is to be occupied.

Unitarian Church Fall Services

September 13: Ingathering/Water Communion - Rev. Inanna Arthen

September 27: Harvest Home/Autumn Equinox - Rev. Inanna Arthen

Red Sox at the Petersham Library - Sort Of

Join the Petersham Memorial Library for The Ultimate Red Sox Time Machine! Wednesday, September 9 at 7 p.m. Take a fun and enlightening virtual journey through Boston Red Sox history with Martin Gitlin, author of the Ultimate Boston Red Sox Time Machine Book. This presentation features videos and photographs of the greatest and most fascinating players, teams, events and moments in franchise history. The program also includes trivia questions for attendees to ponder and covers Sox history from the Royal Rooters, who launched Red Sox Nation, all the way to the four World Series championships and beyond. This is an all-ages virtual program hosted through Zoom. Registration is required. Please email PetershamLibraryRequests@gmail.com to sign up!

Heywood Recognized Twice for Quality Care

Heywood Hospital was named to Newsweek’s 2020 list of Best Maternity Care Hospitals. This distinction recognizes facilities that have excelled in providing care to mothers, newborns and their families, as verified by the 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Survey. Best Maternity Care Hospitals is part of Newsweek’s Best Health Care series, powered by data from The Leapfrog Group.

Heywood Hospital also received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. Heywood  earned the award by meeting specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period.

Bag a Book or Two for Those Stay at Home Days

The Memorial Library is offering curbside pickup of books, audios, and movies. Look for specific titles by viewing the online card catalog by clicking here. Please be sure to select Petersham Memorial Library as items are only available from our town's collection.  

If you would like some suggestions, feel free ask us to put together a selection of titles you might like based upon your reading preferences -- we would be glad to assist. When you find books you want, email your request to marketPetershamLibraryRequests@gmail.com  or call  978-724-3405 and we will process them in the order they are received.

In your message, please provide your name, phone number, book title, author, and, if possible, the item's call number. This will make our turn-around time much faster. Once your materials are pulled and processed, we will call you to let you know when you can pick up. Materials are available for pick up on Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-5pm. Petersham Library is now also accepting interlibrary loan requests, as well as items from its own collection. Delivery may be slow as the system is handling backlogs.

Covid Testing Available Fridays in Orange

The Community Health Center of Franklin County has opened a COVID-19 testing site in Orange where anyone throughout the county and beyond who wants a test for the disease can get one, even if they don’t have insurance or symptoms. Testing is done in the center’s 450 West River Street parking lot every Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Advance registration is required. For more information and to register, call 413-325-8501.

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.

Covid Updates from Heywood Hospital

Heywood Hospital president Win Brown is providing video updates on Covid-19 Click
HERE to see the  updates on YouTube.

2020 Census Continues and You Can File Online

Census door knockers are working in the area or you can fill out a census form online attune up https://my2020census.gov/ The form is simple and can be completed in less than 10 minutes. Nearly 75 percent of US residents have already filed online. 

Quabbin Woods Open for Takeout Orders

Beginning Wednesday April 29, 2020, Quabbin Woods is open for take-out service from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Call 978-724-3288 to order and pay. Look HERE for menu and specials. Pay by debit or credit card or pick up and pay at the front door.

AG Healy says 'Hands Off' Covid Relief Money

Attorney General Maura Healey April 13 told debt collectors to keep their hands off Covid relief money. Under state law, Healy said. the emergency funds that will be issued to consumers starting this week are exempt from seizure or garnishment by creditors. She and other attorneys general called on the Trump Administration to take immediate action to ensure these payments go to American families and not debt collectors.robinson lumber

“These payments are supposed to help individuals and families put food on the table during this crisis, not enrich debt collectors,” AG Healey said. “... my office is putting the debt collection industry on notice that these payments are off limits.” The AG’s instruction does not apply to any actions taken by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, including past due child support.

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

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At the Dump

Transfer Station (DUMP) Fees

Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

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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 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


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Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

"Great Plates, Eat Out."






Hybrid Center School School Year Began September 8

The Center School reopens Sept. 8. The local school committee has selected a "hybrid" education model with half the students attending on Monday and Tuesday and the other half on Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will be for remote learning. Masks will be required for everyone as will hand washing and social distancing. Access to visitors and suppliers will be limited. Cafeteria activities have been adjusted.

Students and staff come to the school from 20 area communities.

About half the school community responded to a July survey from the school and more than 80 percent of respondents cited concerns about Covid 19.

The committee selected the hybrid learning plan from a list of three including fully opening the school and fully remote learning. The hybrid plan is described by the school as follows:

"A hybrid model can provide a safe and effective return to school while focusing on the health and well-being of all students and staff. This model reduces the total student occupancy in the building by roughly one-half each day. This reduction provides the ability to maintain the 6 feet of physical distancing requirements in classrooms as well as the 6-foot physical distancing requirement during breakfast and lunch.

In addition, a hybrid return provides the needed face-to-face instruction and opportunities for social connections. A hybrid model provides consistent opportunity to meet the social-emotional needs of students as well as the provision of support services for special populations. Also, this model has time built into the weekly schedule to provide teachers and staff with needed professional development and planning time as well as time for deep cleaning of the school building between cohorts.

Specifically, the hybrid model provides students with a combination of in-person and remote learning opportunities. Students will be placed in one of two cohorts and will attend school on a rotating schedule each week. All students, however, will receive remote instruction on Wednesdays."

The plan includes a provision that any student showing medical symptoms must be collected and taken home by a parent or guardian within 30 minutes of being notified.

Committee chair Lynn Peredina said, "We chose to start with the hybrid model. Some families have opted to go with a full remote plan, as that was a required option." Principal Eric Glazier did not respond to an e-mail requesting more information but told the local Board of Health September 3 that staff has made efforts to ensure social distancing, created a new nursing office and adjusted approaches to teaching.

The Mahar School Committee voted to start the school year remotely for at least 30 days. Committee Chair Peter Cross said the situation will be reviewed and at that point every 30 days thereafter. The committee had originally opted for a hybrid reopening.

Over the summer, Petersham has reported seven residents with Covid symptoms.


A Snake, a Duckling, Dogs Bark and a Racoon at the Dump

ACO Call Log Summary August 2020

08/01 @9:15a Resident call with concern about raccoons in the dumpster at transfer station. Assured caller staff is aware of how to protect animal until it walks out.

@9:30a One of the Petersham dogs lost on 07/31 located.

@10:15aCall from Barre resident about missing cat near the Petersham line. FB post circulated

@3-7p Assist Petersham resident with flyers and searching for lost dog

@8:15p Resident call with concern regarding snake that is in fireplace in house; homeowner concerned it is a dangerous snake. After discussion, conclusion it is likely a milk snake. Home owner refused assistance as a friend was enroute. Will call if help is needed and suggestions do not work.

@10p Follow up on above and snake has been removed from house.

08/02 @10:30aSecond dog missing since 07/31 located by sighter who saw a flyer.

@2p Caller reports a conversation with a neighbor with several sightings over an hour of a large cat like animal with a long tail. F/U conversation with another neighbor who saw same late night the night before.

08/03 @1p Animal wellness check at location. Advised owner pet must be brought to veterinarian asap, vet to see within 2 hours

08/05 @7p Report of two lost dogs. Advice given, assistance with search (dogs later located)

08/06 @2p Call from resident regarding suspicious acting raccoon. Confirmed dog is UTD on rabies and was near, but not in contact with, raccoon. Property searched and no animal found. Suggestions/advice given to resident. Follow up visits scheduled

08/12 @11:30aPasserby reports deceased cat on side of road. Likely owner contacted. To area to move animal, homeowner will bury.

08/14 @9:30p Dispatch call regarding two loose horses running at large. Likely owner contacted, to area to assist. Animals secured

08/22 @6a Caller reports possibly injured cat. To area, no animal seen

08/24 @7a Resident call for found dog not recognized. To area and dog picked up and brought to shelter. Notifications sent.

@11:30a Owner of above to shelter for pick up

08/26 @6:45a Two horses running loose in field, owner contacted, horses secured

@7:15p Resident call that dog got loose from collar and is not in the area. To property to set up satellite cam and freshen the area with attractive smells. Owner to reapply within an hour and set and area on porch with bedding.

@9:40p Dog from above in yard and safe

08/27 @11aResident call with medical question, suggested the animal be seen at emergency facility

@6:45pDispatch call for dog running at large on busy road. To area, owner aware, suggestions given, dog returned to area at 7:15p

@8p Message received about loose dog

08/28 @8p Barking dog complaint

08/29 @11:15aReport of dog running at large. To area, no dog found. Spoke with likely owner of dog

@7:45p Barking dog complaint

Dump Stickers Expiring September 30

Selectmen voted Aug. 25 to continue selling dump stickers for the traditional price of two stickers for $25 when the current red stickers expire at the end of September. The new stickers will be brown.

Asked why a household that only has one vehicle should have to purchase two stickers, board chair Nancy Allen cited several reasons including that a single sticker might be lost or damaged or that a vehicle might be replaced during the year. If a resident pays $25 and only takes a single sticker for $25, they would be able to get a replacement at the town offices, she said.

The new stickers will be available soon at several locations, including the transfer station, because town office access is restricted due to Covid.

In other business, Ann Lewis, chair of the new Nichewaug committee, updated the board on plans for a town-wide opinion survey intended to see what residents want the town to do with the property it has owned for more than a decade. A draft of the survey has been sent to town boards for review. Mailing to homes is planned for mid-September.

Ellen Anderson, newly elected chairman of Assessors, said the document needs to be  "tweaked" to clearly point out that plans will be constrained by water and septic issues. She also suggested an updated appraisal to determine the value of the site and buildings.

Board members signed a 5-year borrowing agreement for the purchase of a new fire truck at $180,000. The Ford 550 will be able to pump 1,250 gallons of water a minute but will only carry 350 gallons to a fire Dana Robinson, Treasurer and Fire Chief, said. The interest on the loan will be 2.5 percent.

U of the Wild Offers Fall Programming

The University of the Wild is offering a series of programs and services for the fall season.

The outdoor programs are a good fit for this year of Corona virus spread concerns in indoor classrooms. Program content draws on the best of sustainable and regenerative Earth-based educational research and practice and the wisdom teachings and practices of local indigenous tribes.

The following programs will be offered throughout the fall. “Sense of Place” Reading the Natural and Cultural Landscape, Larry Buell; Creating Stone & Wall Structures, Local Stone Masons; Ancient Wilderness Living Skills, Anthony Brogno; Introduction to Forest Bathing, Mishka Viscardi; The 24-Hour Experience Outdoor Adventure, Larry Buell & Others; Volunteer Work Project on Gaia’s Meadow; Earth Writer’s Retreat with Local Writers.

A highlight of the fall programs with be a series of on-line podcasts central to the present state of the world, including: *Creating Community in an Age of Climate Disruption; *Indigenous Wisdom & Teachings; *Social Justice and the Earth Activism; *Fall Edible Wild Plants; *Creating Alternative Septic Systems; *Alternative College, Credits, and Credibility; and *Personal and Planetary Lifestyles at a time of Climate Disruption and Cultural Fragementation. In addition to “hands-on” programs, the University of the Wild works in collaboration with a number of organizations and partners, including the local indigenous Nipmuk Cultural Preservation, Inc. (NCP) of Oakham, MA which has recently been returned over twenty (20) acres of original Nipmuc lands within the Quabbin/Nichewaug Bioregion to build a Native American Cultural and Education Center in Petersham.

The Earthlands Program Center founded by Larry Buell in 1993 has re-established it’s North Quabbin Organic farm and provides good quality local food to residents, local farmer’s markets, and restaurants in the greater Boston area. The farm will provide its produce at a self-service roadside stand at Quabbin Woods Restaurant on Rts. 32/122.

Dr. Larry Buell, is the founder of outdoor-based programs like the forty-year old Outdoor Leadership Program at Greenfield Community College; the twenty-seven-year old Earthlands Community and Environmental Center; and author of books on Outdoor Leadership, Human Ecology, and the 24-Hour Outdoor Adventure..
For Information and Registration visit
www.universityofthewild.org Contact Dr. Larry Buell at <larry@uofwild.org (978) 724-0412 (O) (978) 855-1420 (Cell/Text) 

Petersham Gets Woodbank Equipment Grant

A $2,000 grant from the Massachusetts Dept. of Conservation and Recreation’s Urban and Community Forestry Program will support new equipment for the Petersham Wood Bank, a volunteer firewood heating assistance program in its sixth year of service to Petersham residents.

In 2019-2020, the Wood Bank distributed 15 cords of wood to Petersham residents. Petersham households may apply for winter 2020-2021 vouchers once a month, or as dry wood is available, at the Town Office starting in October. Wood allotments are picked up at the transfer station.

“The Petersham Wood Bank is a team effort and incredible success story, made possible by dedicated volunteers and tremendous support from both the town and the Mass. DCR,” says Jordan O’Connor, who wrote the new grant and co-manages the Petersham Wood Bank as a member of the Petersham Forest and Shade Tree Committee, with Tree Warden Melissa LeVangie.

The wood arrives via the Petersham Highway Department as downed roadside trees brought to the transfer station, where an area has been cleared for logs, equipment, and 39 firewood storage crates that were donated by Mass DCR and built by volunteers. Funds from Mass. DCR, overseen by Sean Mahoney, DCR Markets and Utilization Forestry Program Director and an original co-founder of the Petersham Wood Bank, have recently increased the capacity of wood banks across the state by supporting time for a professional sawyer to saw up logs into smaller rounds that can be safely split and stacked by volunteers.

The new grant will allow for the purchase of a log splitter, storage boxes, equipment for moving wood, and volunteer safety gear—key additions to equipment that has been historically loaned or donated by the Town, the Mass. DCR, and the Harvard Forest. This additional equipment will allow the Petersham Community Wood Bank to expand its capacity and reach more residents in need of firewood assistance.

The challenge grant requires a match of donations or in-kind services of equal value. This will be covered by documented volunteer hours over the coming year. Regular volunteers have included town residents and UMass students. 

“Our Wood Bank succeeds because of our dedicated volunteers,” O’Connor said. “New volunteers are always welcome.” Stacking wood into covered crates can be accomplished safely with social distancing. Stacking takes place each Saturday at the Petersham Transfer Station starting at 9:00 am.  Those interested in volunteering should contact O’Connor at joconnor@JOAarchitects.com

 Cell Tower Court Suit Settled With Developer

The town and Tower North Development have agreed to settle a federal court  lawsuit over the Zoning Board's refusal to raise the allowed height of a planned cell tower at  Chimney Hill Farm. The company had permission to erect a 90-foot cell tower but was seeking to build a taller 160-foot tower for improved cell service. The zoning board refused and the company took the matter to court.

After several weeks of bargaining, the parties have agreed on a 135-foot tall tower disguised as a pine tree. Two major phone carriers and the State Police radio system will take space on the tower. Construction is set to begin in the fall after court approval. Chair Nancy Allen declined to specify town legal fees associated with the caseoriginal tire

The Selectboard agreed to declare the handicap ramp in front of town hall to be surplus property. The ramp is not needed since an elevator system has been installed that provides access  to both upper and lower halls and entry from the exterior. The town is seeking bids from anyone who wants the existing ramp.

The $15,000 ramp was donated by Stephanie Selden of Phillips Drive as a temporary access solution and is being offered for resale on www.munibid.com  at a starting bid of $300.

Removal is planned for August along with repaving the area outside the building and adding two handicap parking spaces. The elevator system was installed on time and under budget by Stephen Kieras of Clearview Contracting in town. It was paid for with a $140,000 grant from the Massachusetts Office on Disability.mann lumber

Selectboard and Board of Health members voted to appoint Rebecca Jackson MD of 230 West Road to replace Robert Pasic, member for a dozen years, who resigned for personal reasons.


A Bear on the Deck and Turtles in the Road

ACO Call Log Summary June 2020

06/02 @3p Caller reports possibly injured turtle near Highway Barn. Snapping turtle safely moved to pond area
North Quabbin AC requests assistance trapping loose dog. To area and equipment set up

06/03 @4p Resident call to report a bear on his deck; requested advice about what to do

06/04 @4p Resident call regarding loose dog in yard. Dog picked up and brought to shelter.
         @6p Owner of above dog located.

06/09 @8a Phone conversation with emergency veterinary facility regarding cat seen with a wound of unknown origin. (Note: Documentation not received from facility until 06/22) State paperwork completed

@3:30p Report of loose horse, no owner appears at home. To area and horse returned to pasture area, owner contacted

06/11 @6:15p Resident call regarding loose dog that is not recognized and will not come near anyone. To area, known owner, dog returned to owner

           @6:45p Large snapping turtle in road with motorist diverting vehicles. Turtle has old injury deemed to be not of concern. Turtle moved to side of roadsolar installations

06/16 @1p Assist resident with re-homing kittens.
Caller from earlier in the month states bear is on his deck. Advice given, info forwarded along to MA Wildlife with location

06/20 am Calls with livestock owner regarding a grazing animal killed and another seriously injured in field setting. Owner to forward additional information

                      pm Assist with re-homing out of town, in need dog with a family in Petersham

06/21 @4p Resident call regarding dog kennel regulations/requirements

06/22 pm Two calls for moose sightings

06/24 @7:30p PPD contact for loose dog. To area, dog secured, owner came to area

06/26 @11a PPD contact regarding call received for resident concern about raccoon in yard. To the home and spoke with owner

The July 4 Parade That Never Happened

flag bikers
Bill Berry raised the flag.                             Motorcycles gathered around the common.

The 24th annual 4th of July Parade was cancelled by safety concerns associated with the Covid          virus.

There was no color guard, no fire trucks, no reading of the Declaration of Independence and no country music on the bandstand. There was no Petersham Grange float with a goat, no marching  little leaguers, scouts or other groups. There was no parade of flag-bearing equestrians.

The event, now organized each year by Selectman Rik Marsh, began when the late Beth Cummings organized a neighborly July 4 walk around the Old Maids' Mile and grew into the North  Quabbin's only Fourth of July parade.jeromy

Instead, Vietnam veteran Bill Berry of North  Main Street came to the common as he does each morning to raise the American flag above the town common. About 9:30 a.m., a group of about 30 motorcycle rider and a few motorists, invited via Facebook, joined Martha  Cole of Shaw Road and formed up at 10 for one circuit of West Street, Hardwick Road, Spring Street and Main, the usual parade route, as their tribute to the nation, Vehicles festooned with flags and a few marchers joined in.

There was  no apparent need for police to direct traffic. Members of the Board of Health, which issued the cancellation order, were not present to object. A handful of neighbors along the route came out to observe.


Town Meeting Part One - a $3.8 Million Hour


It is official. A town meeting was held June 29 with just a few more than 44 voters present under reduced quorum rules. Nine chose outdoor seating for the one-hour session.

Moderator Bart Wendell said he hoped the meeting would be the quickest on record as the warrant contained mainly items needed to keep town operations operating and paid for until state reimbursements for the year are determined.hardwick coop

Non-controversial items 2 through 18 in a "consent" section of the warrant were dispatched as a group. The Ralph C. Mahar Regional School budget of $792,500 10.5 percent less than a year earlier) passed without debate as did the Center School budget of $2,033,110 (a 2.4 percent hike). Monty Tech's budget jumped to $39,037 as enrollment has increased.

Finance Committee Chair Rich Cavanaugh said the town is about a quarter million dollars below what it could raise before hitting its Prop 2 1/2 tax limits, "...but that could change" as state reimbursement levels are announced. The state, which provides nearly one quarter of town funds via reimbursements, is suffering a massive revenue shortfall because of Covid business shutdowns and layoffs. atholhospital

In a Special Session before the main meeting, voters agreed to cover a $70,000 overrun of the broadband system project and an $11,354 deficit in the snow and ice removal account. Other  items will be voted at a fall Special Town Meeting.

Covid Updates from the State Dept. of Public Health

Link to town by town data

Mass Public Health Covid Info and Updates

Swap Shed Closed - Transfer Station Hours Normal

 The Board of Health has closed the swap shed at the transfer station until further notice to help minimize possible exposure too possible Covid-19 contaminants.  godinThe Board also reminds residents that by state orders, residents should not bring returnable containers to the shed for redemption. Do not leave returnable cans/bottles or swap items at the shed. Returnables may be kept at home  storage or put in the town recycle bin.  These steps are aimed at minimizing exposure to possible Covid- 19 contaminants.

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