Memorial Day on the Common May 29

Petersham veterans and residents will celebrate Memorial Day on the common with a parade and readings of honor rolls starting at 9:30 a.m. Monday May 29. The events are organized by American Legion Post 415. Petersham Brass Band will provide music. The parade forms with color guard first, followed by the band, firing squad, marching veterans, auxiliary, police and firemen, clergy, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies, Little League, Grade School, Montessori School and official vehicles.

The parade forms at the center flag pole and proceeds around the Old Maid's mile. Mark Ellis is the parade marshal and Larry Robinson is Officer of the day. Chief Dana Robinson will read the Fire Department honor roll at Center School and Chief Dana Cooley will read the Police Department honor roll followed by a firing squad.sone harvest farm

Moving on. the parade stops at the Village Cemetery for readings of the Rolls of Honor from the revolutionary honor roll, civil war roll of honor and recognition at Graves. Taps will follow.

Honor rolls will be read for World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The community will gather to sing the National Anthem at the flag pole on the South Common. The Memorial Flag will be flown in memory of Bernice A. Brunelle, Lee W. Waid, Severin E. Anderson and Hank Sherwood,

Broadband Subscriptions Top 270 Goal atholhospital

Broadband Chairman Chip Bull said Friday that 272 people have now signed up in advance for the town's planned service -- 101 percent of those needed to kick off work on the project

Polly Pillsbury probably had no idea when she went to town hall to sign up that she and her mother would be subscriber numbers 269 and 270 for signing up their East Street homes -- arguably making her "Queen for a Day" as broadband supporters breathed a sigh of relief that preliminary work on the high-speed internet system can now begin.

In an e-mail, Polly wrote, "Yes, Mom and I were the last two (subscribers needed to hit the 270 mark). A bit reluctant because money is tight, and I have to admit, thermI still don't really understand what we get in the end! OMG, I used to be allowed to watch Queen for a Day when I was sick and stayed home from school in elementary school!"

Matrix Design said it would start working on the system as soon as at least 270 customers were signed up. A $250 refundable deposit from each subscriber will be held in escrow by the town until subscribers are connected. Subscriptions on deposit in escrow now total about $68,000.

The rest of the $500 service connection fee will be due from each broadband subscriber when the service is turned on. That discount offer remains open until June 9. After June 9, subscribing to the service will cost $1,500. The committee launched a phone campaign and a second targeted mailing urging residents to sign up and campaigned for subscribers at the transfer station for several Saturdays.

When town meeting voted last year to spend $560,000 as the town's share of building a local broadband system, it was with the understanding that the town was penciled into state plans to reimburse the money. Voters approved taking $300,000 from the stabilization fund and borrowing $260,000 more. Bull said then that Petersham was on a list to get that money back from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI). New Salem was told on Friday that their town will get $750,000 from a state grant to build, own and operate a local internet service.

Late last month, the Baker administration stripped $20 million from MBI and set it aside for paying underserved towns planning broadband installations --  but there is a catch. That money is earmarked for towns that will own their own systems. Petersham is planning to pay Matrix Design of New Jersey to build, own and operate local broadband for the next 20 years with an option to purchase the system after the first three years. "To apply (for the money) now would probably result in a turndown," Bull told members of the Broadband Municipal Light Plant committee on May 10.

Chris Lynch of Matrix Design said when a utility pole survey identifies which utility poles need correcting, utility companies must be contacted. They have 45 day to recognize the applications for service and an additional 30 days to let the work start. Residents near the town center may see broadband service as soon as the fall of this year with outlying homes connected as cables are strung over the next 18 months or so.
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Lynch said whether the town gets a state reimbursement or not, the project can go ahead because the town has already appropriated its share of the project cost. Bull said he and committee member Nancy Allen will seek help with the reimbursement issue from State Sen. Anne Gobi. Allen chairs the Selectboard. Work to survey of utility poles can now begin.  

Lynch said when the state installed fiber optic cable through town for its $90 million "middle mile" project, they hung the cable in the middle of the communications space on utility poles. Adding additional cable will mean moving the middle mile cables up or down on the poles and will add cost to the installation project. The middle mile cabling runs along East Street from Barre to the town center and up North Main to the Athol town line. Other utility polesmillersriver must be surveyed and any needed corrective action taken before fiber optic lines can be installed, Lynch said. There are about 26 poles in each mile of roadway, he said.

Suppose They Held a Meeting and ...

The Selectboard and Advisory Finance Committee held a public information session on May 23 to brief interested residents on spending plans and to finalize details of the coming budget for fiscal 2018. No residents attended the meeting.

The proposed $3.95 million budget includes more than $1.4 million for thequabbin woods Center School (an 11.1 percent increase) and projects a relatively small tax rate hike from $16.19 now to $16.41 for fiscal 2018 according to FinCom Chair Ross France. Most departments presented level funded budgets.

France said voters will be asked to return more than $120,000 to the town stabilization fund to bring the fund back to  more than 8 percent of the total town budget.

The final budget will be acted on at the June5 town meeting in the Center School auditorium.

A Walk to the Mysterious Rum Rock on Sunday

The Sunday, May 14th Hike to Rum Rock in Petersham has been postponed to 
Sunday, May 28th starting at 2:00 PM on the Petersham Common.tuneup
The Quabbin Region has many unique geological features. One such feature is "Rum Rock", a huge glacial erratic near the Barre/Petersham Town Line in Northern Barre woods.  Larry Buell, local historian, will lead the walk to "Rum Rock."  

The famous rock has actually been seen by very few, since it is rather difficult to find in a large forest now protected by Mass Audubon.  Buell will share many of the historic facts and stories of the area around
Loring Hill and Sherman Hill along the old stage road that traveled from Worcester, MA to Brattleboro, VT in the 19th Century. 

Many of the stories of the region are preserved in Julie Sherman's 1931 book,
The Road Through Pirate Valley.  According to Buell, "...the area along the old Stageberemco Road is filled with historic sites that can still be observed because the area has not been developed... the larger area is protected by the conservation efforts under the umbrella of the Swift River Valley Trust, a collaborative effort of Harvard Forest, Mass Audubon, Trustees of Reservations, and the Quabbin Watershed Council".

Participants will meet at 2:00 PM on the Petersham Common, carpool to the
Loring Hill area and then walk the Stage Road and a trail to Rum Rock.  Walking back, Buell will take a side trip to the summit of Sherman Hill, which has its own unique history and cultural related stories.  This moderate-level hike is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Petersham Historical Society.  For information contact Larry Buell at <> (978) 724-0412

Petersham Grange 95 Honors Members    

Petersham Grange 95 celebrated more than a century of Grange membership
with presentations to two long-time members at its May 2 meeting.

Melody Bourque of Orange received a 50-year jewel from State Lecturer Janet Segur along with a letter from Master George Thomas. Melody joined the Grange at age 14 and has been a Petersham member ever since.  "I've had a good time with the nqta
Grange world," she said. Melody recalled traveling the state with her late mother, Ruth Bassingthwaite, to participate in meetings and music shows with her.

Petersham Grange presented its annual Citizen Award to  Ruth Robinson of Petersham, who retired her Grange membership in October after more than 50 non-consecutive years of Grange  membership. Some 47 Petersham members and guests from the community attended.

ruthLike Melody, Ruth joined the Grange at age 14, but in Westminster. Ruth, a 1948 graduate of Clark University, taught school in Manchester, Maryland and in Whitinsville and Northbridge MA before moving  to Petersham to teach seventh grade geography for 17 years at Ralph C. Mahar Regional High school. She retired in 1987 and then spent a decade traveling with her late husband Charles. and their camping trailer, ranging up and down the east coast.

Ruth, who turns 90 on May 17,  was Secretary of Petersham Grange for 22 years. She was our Grange musician and served a term as Master. She organized and participated in 10 minstrel shows including five or six for the Grange. As a retired teacher she took particular delight for many years in delivering dictionaries from the Grange to third graders in Petersham and Barre elementary schools and in explaining ways for the students to use them even in our digital age.

Ruth is a member of the Orthodox Congregational Church in Petersham which hosts our Grange meetings and serves as the church organist when needed. She founded the church newsletter, The Friendly Guidepost, which is still published regularly.robinson lumber She served for seven years as Petersham Town Clerk and has done volunteer work at the Barre Family Health Center for the past 28 years. She is the longest serving health center volunteer and is a recipient of the state's Unsung Hero award.

Residents and friends are invited to celebrate Ruth's 90th birthday from 2 to 5 p.m. on May 20 in the Congregational Church hall on North Main Street in Petersham.