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Heywood Hospital and Barre 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.


Barre Family Health Center, Rte. 122 in Barre.  Call 978-355-6321.

Heywood Weekly Covid Update NOV. 19

Info for Residents Seeking Help With Heating Bills

A website that answers frequent questions is right here

Congregational Church Gets a New Pastor

Pastor Geoffrey Smith has been named minister to the Congregational Church. Smith has a degree from Albright College, a B.A. in Religious Studies, History,pastor & Photography. and from Yale Divinity School, M.Div. with a Focus on Religious Education and Accessibility Theology. 

Smith said, "When I am in the Church for office hours, available for walk-ins by anyone, I will turn on the light by the front door of the Church.  Also, weather permitting, I will often eat my lunch on the Green, and would be available for anyone there as well."


 A New Feature
An Occasional Column of  Pastoral Thoughts

Tis the season to give Thanks, and to gather with family, by blood or chosen. Inevitably, conflicts can arise around the table, especially in this environment of polarization.  For many, strategies are needed to deal with such conflicts without escalating them or burning bridges.

As a former chaplain at a Level 1 Trauma Center and busy New England hospital; and a current fire chaplain, I was trained to recognize and help people when their usual coping mechanisms are overcome by a “sudden transitional trauma.”  Now, it would be hyperbolic to describe Thanksgiving with the Family that way, quite often it is a rather stressful event. pro v

I hope it will be useful for those who are anticipating an uncomfortable or a stressful holiday gathering to review some coping strategies.

If you have to travel, try to pick off-peak times, or less busy routes.  No point in getting stressed out before even arriving!  I remember traveling to an aunt’s home for Thanksgiving one year with my brother.  Instead of taking the single-lane heavily-traveled state road, we left a bit earlier and used the non-heavy traffic routes and it was a lot less stressful!

Pick your battles.  There are times to hold your ground, but also times to compromise.  Choose which things are important enough to you, but also show respect to your family by compromising and letting things important to them to happen, when it is something not so important to you. 

If you know there will be a conflict, try to get that resolved with whomever before the gathering if you can, so the conflict hopefully does not blow up during the gathering.  Also, have non-combative responses ready to go.  If a relative uses a backhand compliment or tries to provoke you, and you know it is coming, be prepared with a response of a type like, “I do not want to talk about that right now, but let’s go set the table.”

Be prepared.  The mantra of every Scout.  If you know that you are going to be overwhelmed, have your coping practices prepared and ready to use.  For example, when I was a kid, family gatherings were fun, but I would eventually become overwhelmed, so I would separate myself, put on headphones to listen to music, or have a book to find a quiet place to read for a few minutes to recharge the social batteries.

I hope these thoughts will be useful to you.  Just remember to plan ahead and be prepared!  Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy yourself!

Pastor Geoffrey

Town Wood Bank Vouchers Available Oct. 30

Vouchers for the Town of Petersham Community Wood Bank are available to Petersham residents starting on October 30, 2021. Residents seeking a voucher are requested to call Sherry Berube or Derrick Vannoy at (978)724-3353 to ask for a voucher. The vouchers will be made available on a first come, first served basis but with priority given to residents receiving fuel assistance. computerVouchers will be issued for one (1) crate of dry, split & stacked wood stored at the Transfer Station (open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m). One voucher per household may be applied on a monthly basis if needed and as supplies last.  To confirm that your crate of wood is ready please either check at the Transfer Station yourself or contact: Selectboard Office 978-724-3353 or email: petershambosoffice@gmail.com

Wood may be picked up at the Transfer Station (route 122) starting Saturday, October 30. For more information please contact Jordan O’Connor joconnor@JOAarchitects.com.

Art Center Announces Upcoming classes

Petersham Art Center is offering classes throughout November and earlyELDREDGE December. Call soon to reserve a spot. 978-724-3415. There is a fee for each class.

Folded German Star with Heidi Strickland, on Sat, Dec. 4, from  9 am - 11am. Make a traditional star for the holidays.

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

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 aMATRIX 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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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.

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You Can't Beat These Prices
At the Dump

Transfer Station (DUMP) Fees

Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

what's open
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

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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


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Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

"Great Plates, Eat Out."





FinCom Raises Concerns on Dec. 6 Nichewaug Vote

The Advisory Finance Committee has put the finishing touches on its advice to voters for the Dec. 6. special town meeting. A final draft of the FinCom report recommends against two articles calling for partial demolition of the complex. The committee recommends that voters adopt an article calling for total demolition but "with reservations."

That language would seem to contradict a statement attributed to Selectboard Chair Nancy Allen that was published in the Athol Daily News last week that the Finance Committee "strongly supports" the demolition proposal. Allen, a Nichewaug abutter,  has promoted complete demolition for more than 10 years.

The draft report describes the AFC reservations and includes: The borrowing and spending proposals are outside the regular annual budget process; the actual cost of the demolition proposals remains unclear; the impact on the tax rate cannot be precisely calculated;  the cost of importing expensive fill to dump into the cellar hole has not been computed; future costs associated with preserving parts of the complex could be substantial and bringing the proposals to a special town meeting could attract fewer voters to decide these issues than would attend an annual town meeting.

The report concludes: "... there is also a cost associated with taking no action now. From a financial standpoint, the best-case outcome is that doing something later will cost more than it would now. However, we worry that any such increase will not be balanced by a similar increase in family income for many of our residents over that same period. Also, given the town’s inability to reach an agreement regarding the future uses of the property, it seems unlikely the town would be deemed eligible for grant monies for demolition any time soon.

The report also says, "The worst-case outcome of inaction is that the problem will be addressed under emerging circumstances and mitigation may be extraordinarily expensive. Beyond financial risk, the buildings continue to pose risk to the health and property in the center of town."

The articles call for the town to borrow $500,000, take $100,000 from a stabilization fund and spend $121,000 of Covid relief money on the project. A two-thirds majority is needed to approve the borrowing. For full text of the AFC report click here

Roy Nilson, publisher of this news and information website for the past 27 years, is a Nichewaug abutter..


FinCom to Study Cost of Nichewaug Demo Warrant Articles

Selectboard Chair Nancy Allen presented her proposed special town meeting warrant articles to the Finance Committee Nov. 9. The three articles call for total or partial demolition of the Nichewaug buildings. Seven companies have responded to Allen's request for proposals with bids ranging from $558,000 to $1.2 million plus related costs.curling

Allen proposes that the town take a loan for $500,000, add $121,000 of Covid relief funds and withdraw $100,000 from a stabilization fund to cover most of project-related costs. She said an estimate of the tax rate impact of such a loan would not provide an accurate picture of the impact on taxpayers.

A special town meeting is set for Dec.6 to consider total or partial demolition and acting on the project.

Glasheen Road Marijuana Farm Proposed

Kaitlin and Bart Walsh of Green Origin Farm on Glasheen Road brought their plans for a secure one-acre marijuana garden and related processing operation at their remote 24.62-acre Glasheen Road farm location to the Selectboard on Oct. 26. They will be seeking a host community agreement as allowed under state law.

Kaitlin said no retail sales are planned for the site. A community meeting is required before the plan can be implemented, About 20 residents attended the  session. She said three of four other fields will remain open and undevekoped.

Bart Walsh described the plan as featuring a fenced, one-acre growing area and a 1200-square foot processing and storage workshop. The garden will be outdoors and partly in two high tunnels. pumpThe couple plans to file an application soon with the state Cannabis Control Commission and to host a community information session in town hall. There is no plan to use high-energy growing lights, he said

The Board also discussed articles to be presented to voters in December that propose  full or partial demolition of the Nichewaug complex on the town common. That discussion will continue in one week.

 Allen Declares Nichewaug an "Emergency"

Citing continuing deterioration but no specific recent changes to the town-owned Nichewaug property, Selectboard chair Nancy Allen Sept. 28 declared the Nichewaug an "emergency" and said, "The building has to go."  The declaration was apparently intended to qualify the demolition costs to be partly paid for with federal Covid relief funds. The board pays less than $5,000 annually on property maintenance (lawn mowing and an intrusion alarm system). The property is not insured.godin

In recent days, Allen has published a Request for Proposal to demolition contractors on state websites, invited local police and fire chiefs to re-state their safety concerns and secured a written opinion from the town's lawyer that she is free to act on Nichewaug issues despite  her conflict of interest as an abutter. She is scheduling a Dec. 6 special town meeting to seek voter approval to demolish the structures. Some 22 residents attended a two-hour public information session in town hall Nov. 21 and heard Allen re-state her case for tearing down the buildings using a $500,000  borrowing, $100,000 from the town stabilization fund and federal Covid relief funds..

Both Police Chief Dana Cooley and Fire Chief Dana Robinson support demolition over safety concerns. Cooley said intrusions by curiosity seekers have fallen to fewer than one per year. Some 19 residents attended the board meeting.

Allen is an abutter to the Nichewaug property but the board, presently with two members, cannot function if she cannot participate. Coincidentally, all three candidates to fill the third board seat, are also legal abutters to the property. Annette Ermini, who was just elected to the board, is also a Nichewaug abutter.

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.

Roy Nilson, publisher of this news and information website for the past 27 years, is a Nichewaug abutter..

Zoning Board Says "No Solar"

On a two-to-one vote the Zoning Board of Appeals denied a special permit application to  create a 20-acre solar farm on New Athol Road near the Athol town line. Under state law, the vote of a 3-member SBA must be unanimous. Member Maryanne Reynolds voted NO.

Two nearby residents have opposed the plan to cut trees to make way for the large installation.market

Proponent SunPin Energy Services argued that the town's zoning bylaw creates a clear path for allowing such developments by special permit and pointed out that 3 to 5 acres specifically reserved for solar in the bylaw has drawn no developer interest for several years. SunPin did not comment on whether the next step is court action to overturn the decision.

In other business, the ZBA voted unanimously to overturn the building inspector's refusal of a building permit for a new barn at 15 North Main Street. The denial cited a lack of enough frontage at a property behind the Nichewaug  Inn that has no frontage on a public way. Owner Stephen Kieras argued successfully that his 1890s-era property and other properties in town are "grandfathered." The board agreed and the barn will be allowed


Roy Nilson, who compiles this website, is also a Nichewaug abutter.

New Dump Stickers Are Green

Current 2021 dump stickers expired on Sept. 30. New stickers will be green. They will be available at the town office, No change in pricing -- two for $25. The Selectboard is ordering an additional roll-off container to handle a surplus of paper refuse.

Dogs Despise High-pitched Smoke Alarms

ACO Call Log Summary
October 2021

10/02 All day training for equine rescue response session with MSPCA.*
@5p Motorist call regarding loose dog on Common. To area, owner contacted and dog was returned to home.

10/03 Multiple calls with Phillipston ACO and PD regarding found cat in Phillipston that may be a missing cat from Petersham

@12:45p Call from motorist for loose dog on Route 122. To area, dog identified and owner contacted.

10/04 Additional time with Phillipston ACO and PD

10/06 @7a Resident call for cat trapped, requests information about what to do next. Found cat posting on Petersham PAWS and shared to surrounding town ACOs. As per standard protocol. Cat to shelter for stray hold.

10/12 @7a Cat in shelter to Second Chance, North Brookfield, for veterinary exam, vaccinations, and neuter. No contact from previous attempts to locate an owner.

@5p Pick up of above cat from Second Chance, animal returned to shelter.

10/13 @7p Above cat transferred to a feline sanctuary.

10/14 @9:30a Resident call for two large dogs in yard, homeowner has not seen them previously. Likely owner contacted, met individual at the location. Both dogs secured.

10/17 @9:15a Resident call for lost dog spooked by smoke alarm and bolted from pet sitter. Owner out of state for the weekend. Suggestions given.
@10:15a Lost dog located and safely returned to home.
@3:30p Resident reports missing cat since early morning. Notices placed on FB and contact made with surrounding town ACOs. Owner to post flyers in area.

10/18 @10a Petersham resident call to report lost dog seen in Greenfield that resembles flyers seen locally. Calls to ACOs and Franklin County Animal Shelter

10/19 @1:30p Resident call to report dog has been missing for over 2 hours and dog has never done this previously. Suggestions given. Dog returned to door during second conversation with owner

10/20 @7:45p Dispatch call for loose horse. Description given by dispatch and owner identified. Call placed to owner who reported she would be on scene in a couple minutes to retrieve horse. PPD arrived. Dispatch notified owner on scene.

10/21 @1p Follow up with Athol resident regarding ongoing issue with known Petersham dogs that have been coming on property.

10/22 @3p Call from resident regarding issues related to beaver dams and possible options. Information given

10/26 Several calls from resident regarding cat issue

10/30 Workday at shelter for installation of new flooring

*A day long training session for equine owners and first responders was arranged by Petersham AC and the State of MA Animal Response Team (SMART) through MSPCA/Nevins and conducted at Windswept Farm.

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.

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.

Covid Updates from the State Dept. of Public Health

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OPINION: Send Us Your Opinions About the Nichewaug MORE

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