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The Opinion Page

A Call for Wood Bank Volunteers on May 1

Hello to all Petersham Wood Bank volunteers:

We hope you are well. Spring is here and so is the first of our planned volunteer work days for the Petersham Wood Bank.  Sean and Bill will be cutting and splitting soon – ready for us all to help stack into our.

Please consider helping out on Saturday, May 1, 2021 starting at 8:30 am and ending at 12:00 noon. (Rain date is Sunday, May 2nd also starting at 8:30 am and ending at 12:00 noon.) Please feel free to come by for even a portion of the morning. Covid protocols will be in place (masked up, socially distanced, etc.). Thank you again for all your help in the past. Hope to see you on May Day!


Melissa LeVangie, Clarisse Hart, Sean Mahoney & Jordan O’Connor (joconnor@JOAarchitects.com)

 

Polus Center Receives Grant to Help Young Adults

The Polus Center for Social & Economic Development has been awarded a $75,000 grant through a FY21 state Employment Program for Young Adults with Disabilities. Located in Petersham, the Polus Center designs programs and promotes opportunities for persons with disabilities and victims of conflict.  The center helps people with disabilities gain the skills, credentials, career-support and work opportunities to help them find competitive employment.   

  

The Employment Program for Young Adults with Disabilities prepares young adults with disabilities for employment by providing occupational skills, coaching, and pre- and post- placement supports. Polus will train and place participants in retail and customer service jobs, with program partners that include: Whole Foods Market, Price Chopper Market, the MassHire North Central Workforce Board, and Thryv Consulting. The short-term training offered by the Center incorporates virtual skills training as well as on-the-job training. 

Five Plots Still Available in the Community Garden


With spring on the way, there are now five large fertile garden plots waiting for  Petersham residents in the Petersham Community Garden.

Get more information by sending an e-mail to info@petershamcommon.com or by calling Roy at 978-724-6662.

This is the garden's sixth year. Participation is free on a first come, first served basis. The soil is rich loam and the garden will be tilled in time for planting. The garden spaces are located behind the Memorial Library.

 

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 devicies. Any other items not marked for recycling. Questions? Ask          Paul or Mike.

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 auto parts stores or scrap yards for store credit or cash.

Dowd Joins Advisory Finance Committee

Town moderator Bart Wendell had named Jim Dowd of Glasheen Road to the Advisory Finance Committee to fill one of two vacancies on the five-person board.

Rich Cavanaugh of East Street currently chairs the board. Sandy Page and Mark Bishop are members. The committee has been meeting with the Selectboard to discussed proposed town department budgets for the past several weeks.

The Finance Committee reviews receives budgets from the executive branch, analyzes them, holds hearings where the department heads and the public can testify and, subsequently, presents a balanced budget to Town Meeting.

Finance Committee must examine direct costs and investigate financial implications of policy decisions. The budget presented  to Town Meeting is the Finance Committee’s consensus recommendation.  The  proposed budget may be amended by town meeting, provided that amendments maintain a balanced budget.

The Finance Committee should promote a budget process that results in a clear and meaningful budget document with analyses, explanations, and justifications for its recommendations that can give voters a clear picture of town government: what it is, where it is, and where it is heading.

 

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.

 

 
Five UMass Student Projects Get Mick Hupert Awards

Five projects organized by UMass School of Medicine and Graduate School of Nursing students have received Mick Huppert Community Health Scholar Awards for 2021. Named in honor of the late UMMS faculty member Mick Huppert, MPH, the award is given to students interested in family medicine who embrace community health practice and are committed to patient advocacy. tune up

They are: Worcester Safe Baby Project; Assessment of social determinants of health and linkage to care within the Department of Emergency Medicine; A retrospective program evaluation of latent tuberculosis infection screening and treatment; Implementation of Outer Cape Health Services’ Sano Health smart phone pilot project and Operation conversation: bridging the gap between the veteran community and future health care providers.

The winning projects are funded through the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and the GSN. Funded projects are selected based on the quality of the proposals, which highlight the depth of the community partnerships. Students work in teams or independently with the aid of faculty mentors.

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.


Yes Virginia, You Can Check Out Library Books

Need something from the library? The Petersham Library continues to offer safe curbside pickup! Simply go to petershamlibrary.net and browse the catalog. When you find something you'd like to check out, call (978) 724-3405 or email PetershamLibraryRequests@gmail.com with the author and title and your contact information.

When the librarians locate your items, they will call you back and arrange a pick up time. Don't know what to check out? The librarians can put together book bundles for you based on your interests or even arrange for a live "virtual self tour" via Facebook Messenger or Google Duo.  Currently, curbside hours are Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-5 p.m. or by arrangement.
 

Materials are available for pickup on Tuesdays and Fridays from 2-5 p.m.

wd Joins Finance Committee
 
 



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
978-544-2149

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 solar installationsPetersham 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
617-722-1540

Rep. Susannah Whipps
978-895-9606

 our hisory

Official Town Website -
www.townofpetersham.org

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."

 


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Selectboard Wrangles Upcoming Budget Proposals

Disclosing few details, the Selectboard and Finance Committee continued discussing the proposed 2022 town spending plans March 30. The documents presently include a proposed 15 percent increase in Center School spending and a 12 percent jump for the town's Mahar assessment. Chair Nancy Allen said she will meet with Mahar and Center School officials on Thursday and invited a member of the Finance Committee to attend.

In recent weeks, Allen has repeatedly declined to disclose specifics of planned town spending saying the numbers are not yet final. Most small departments have been asked to submit level-funded budgets and have complied. She said the Town of Orange Mahar assessment is slated to jump six percent and Wendell could see a 17 percent hike.

The boards also discussed a proposed $22,000 police budget item meant to comply with new state-imposed police reform and training requirements,

Chief Dana Cooley said his two-man department relies on seven part-time officers to fill its roster. That number has dropped from 13 to seven in recent months. Cooley said after the part-timers go through newly-mandated training, they will be fully qualified for full-time police jobs in other communities. "It is harder to get part-timers," he said.

Cooley's first budget projection included adding a third full-time patrolman to the department but that plan is apparently on hold for now

Allen and  Selectman Henry Woolsey also voted hourly wage increases for an unspecified number of town hall employees including the tax collector, town clerk and office assistants. Cost of living (COLA) raises for all town  employees are also planned.


State Reimbursement for Broadband Has Arrived

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute has made good on a promised $880,000 reimbursement of part of Petersham's broadband system. The funds were transferred to the town treasurer just in time to pay off a town borrowing according to Chip Bull, a member of the local broadband committee.

The town certified that its broadband system is complete and operating in mid-March.

The payment comes from a state fund set up to benefit un-served and under-served mostly rural communities. Bull said the state fund was repurposed when cable companies proved uninterested in expanding their systems into low-density  rural communities.                                                                                                 

"The state found when they were going to give all that money to the cable companies that many of the un-served got no offers from cable companies. They didn't perk up at all," Bull said. Bull has championed local broadband expansion for a dozen years.

Bull said the state declared there were 53 un-served or under-served communities that needed high speed internet. "We are unique. We have brought broadband to Petersham for less out of pocket than most towns." Bull said. He said Leverett, an early adopter, spent about $3.75 million without state support and now pays to maintain its town-owned system. Matrix owns Petersham's system and is responsible for storm damage and other maintenance, Bull said.

The town put in roughly $600 000, the state has now put in $880,000 and  about $1.75  million came from Matrix, Bull said. "I have found given the number of times we have lost power in the last 6  months that they foot the bill when there is a tree down across the wires..." or other maintenance, he said. "When you own the network those costs come to the owner." (Matrix)

Bull said some 396 households are now connected to broadband (more than 90 percent of town) and more will be added as spring arrives.


cell tower

Annual Town Meeting Set for June 21

..The Selectboard continues meeting with town departments to set a budget for the next fiscal year and will put the budget and other matters before a town meeting now scheduled for June 21.

Chair Nancy Allen has not disclosed the total spending being planned but said at a recent meeting that the budget has climbed to $4 million mark with  schools hoping to claim about a third of the total. Other towns in the Quabbin district will be pushing for restrained school spending to aidthier financial woes, she said.

The board will meet jointly with the  Finance Committee at 6 p.m. March 30 in the upper town hall in person and by internet on Gotomeeting --
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/702825837
Budgets for the police department, broadband committee and tax collector are on the agenda.  Many of the town's small departments have turned in level-funded budget requests.

A town-wide information meeting is scheduled for May 25. The warrant for the town meeting will open March 28 and will be closed on May 20.

Seats Open in the Coming Town Election

Several seats in town committees and offices have opened up in this year's May 17 town election.

Dana Kennan, a member of the Board of Assessors, announced he will retire after 20 years at the end of this term.

Henry Woolsey, vice chair of the Selectboard, is standing for re-election. The two-year seat  left vacant with the death of Selectboard clerk Rik Marsh is open to any candidate.

Tax collector Renee Wingertsman is standing for re-election to a three-year term.

Appointed Health Board member Rebecca Jackson will be on the ballot for re -election

There will be an open seat on the Center School committee as Jennifer Dejackome is not seeking re-election.

Town Clerk Diana Cooley will be on the ballot.

Two Planning Board 3 year seats currently held by Stephen Herzog and Irene Perkins will be on the ballot for re-election and Fifi Scoufopoulos is seeking to return as a trustee of the public library

Nomination papers for the Annual Town Election are now available to anyone seeking an open or contested seat. The papers may be obtained at the Town Clerk’s Office until Monday, March 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. or from the Selectmen’s Office. They must be returned by Monday, March 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.

The last day to register to vote is April 27, 2021.

The Town Clerk’s Office is open on Mondays from 5:30 PM – 7 PM. Due to the present circumstances, the Town Hall is not open to the public. Please contact the Town Clerk at 978-724-6649 to arrange to get nomination papers – you can leave a message on the machine or email Diana at petershamtownclerk@verizon.net.


Upcoming Budget Consumes Selectboard Attention

The Finance Committee and Selectboard took up departmental budgets on March 9. The two boards will continue budget work and will study school spending at its next meeting. Top of the list was police department staffing and the cost of complying with new state-mandated police training rules. New Police Reform legislation requires that part-time officers complete 200 training hours for certification and that training could cost the town $30,000 in wages, Chief Dana Cooley said. The town hopes for an   unfunded state mandate reimbursement,

Cooley said the department has two full-time officers and relies on up to 13 part-timers but that number has fallen to just seven in recent years. Cooley  is proposing to add a third full-time officer this year at a salary of more than  $40,000 and  include a pay raise to make part-time positions more attractive. Cooley said he has surveyed 10 area towns to compare pay information. The department currently has an annual budget of $244,700. Selectboard chair Nancy Allen declined to release a proposed budget total for fiscal 2022 until the amount is considered final.market

Allen said with several towns in the Mahar Regional school district experiencing fiscal stress, an increased proposed regional school budget may not receive a warm welcome from district member towns. Again withholding totals for the new budget, Allen said projected school budget increases are "not small."

Budgets for several small departments will be level funded. A snow and ice deficit of $36,000 is not out of line, she said. "We've had worse."

Allen and Selectman Henry Woolsey voted to give Allen the vacant seat on the town Capital Improvement Planning Committee - a post formerly held by  the late selectman Rik Marsh.

Nomination papers for election to town offices in 2021 are now available from the town clerk.

Petersham Has Lost a Great Friend

Selectman Frederik (Rik) Marsh died in the morning hours of January 7, 2021 while recuperating from a fall and after spending several days in the hospital.
rik
Whether Rik was supervising and helping residents at the transfer station each week or stopping at the Friday Market for an ear of fresh corn to eat on the spot or taking notes as clerk of the Selectboard, Rik was a central figure in the life of our small town. He kept our July 4 parade, begun as a neighbors' walk around the Old Maid's Mile by the late Beth Cummings, alive and he ran a private stray cat rescue at his West Street home.

An election to fill the vacancy will be held May 17 and will include incumbent Henry Woolsey's re-election bid as well.
 
Open Burning Started January 15
Depending on wind and weather, open burning of brush may start January 15. Open burning permits will be available between 7:30 AM and 12:00 Noon, January 15 through May 1.

Permits are only issued between 7:30 AM and 12:00 Noon.
Permits are only issued on the day that you wish to burn. jeromy
No permits are issued in advance due to the potential for changing weather conditions.

Massachusetts allows residents to burn brush between January 15 and May 1, depending on weather conditions. You must obtain permission from the town in which you plan to burn brush.

Some towns served by the New Braintree State Police Dispatch office offer burning permits online at c8burnpermits.com. If you are burning in Petersham, visit the site between 7:30 a,m. and noon to obtain a permit on the day you want to burn brush. Permit availability on a given day will depend on weather conditions.

Regulations

  • Open burning season is January 15 - May 1.

Covid Updates from the State Dept. of Public Health

Link to town by town data

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 to 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.  Masks required. These steps are aimed at minimizing exposure to possible Covid- 19 contaminants.
 

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