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The Opinion Page

Library Summer Reading Program

Stop by the Petersham Memorial Library for an outdoor Silly, Slimy Snail story time and craft! We will meet on the lawn at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 25 for this half hour program! This program is in conjunction with our Tails and Tales Summer Reading Program, so every K-6 child who is registered for Summer Reading gets extra prize points for attending if they complete their Reading Log by the end of the summer! Added bonus: you’ll get to meet Francis, the Petersham Memorial Library’s newest volunteer!

We will ask all families to wear masks while at the event and maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet between families. Patience will be needed as we maintain social distance while creating our very own snail friends to take home. Grab and go craft kits will be available for those who’d rather not wait. Crafts are on a first-come, first-served basis and we apologize in advance for any issues. Craft supplies graciously made available through a grant from the Petersham Cultural Council. 

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 has been chief for 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 after the June 21 town meeting.

The Memorial Library is Re-opening

The Petersham Memorial Library is now open for limited in-person, by-appointment browsing.
By-Appointment Browsing Hours
Tuesday 10-2 p.m.
Wednesday 2-7 p.m.
Saturday 9-1 p.m.

Curbside Pickup Hours
Tuesday 2-5 p.m.
Friday 2-5 p.m.

Please call (978) 724-3405 to reserve an appointment. check the library  website    for other requirements.

Unitarian Spring Schedule

ANNUAL MEETING - 12 noon, June 6th
All members are requested to attend. We will be in the Sanctuary due to covid. Please wear a mask. Since January 1st, we have been operating with last year's budget on a "continuing resolution" basis, which needs to be confirmed by the members. We also need to vote on officers. In addition, we will discuss the proposed 8th Principle and vote on whether to endorse the passage by the UUA.

SUNDAY SERVICES - all at 10:30 
highlighting one of our outstanding musician - singing allowed, wear your mask
MAY 31st - Memorial Day Interfaith Service at the Orthodox Congregational Church 
JUNE 6th - Rev. Arthen
JUNE 13th - Flower Communion, Rev. Arthen

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.

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 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

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."





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

The Marchers Will March on the 4th of July

The Fourth of July parade will step off at noon on July 4 and traverse the Old Maid's Mile as usual. The Selectboard made the announcement on July 15 and said Kay Berry of North Main Street will help organize the event.

The annual parade began more than a decade ago when West Street resident Beth Cummings gathered a group of neighbors for a walk around the square. It continued when Beth passed and the late former Selectman Rik Marsh took over.

The Petersham Brass Band, school children, veterans and fire trucks participate as well as local floats. In past years there has been a country music band. The Lions hot dog truck has been on hand.

The Council on Aging plans to present the Boston Post gold cane to the town's oldest resident on parade day. More details as available.

memorial day  2021

$4.8 Million Budget Heads for June 21 Town Meeting

The Finance Committee approved and Selectmen will present a $4,770,314 Fiscal 2022 town budget to voters at the June 21 town meeting. Most town departments can expect level funding but three local school systems will see a 7.6 percent jump in funding for their programs.

Total local education spending is proposed at $2,569,940 with  $2,038,350 for Center School and a local appropriation of  $862,683 for Mahar Regional, according to Selectmen. No discussion made reference to a projected property tax rate for the year ahead.

Last year the town reduced quorum requirements for the annual meeting to one percent -- or 10 of 989 voters for the Covid emergency. Selectmen voted to increase that to three percent as Covid restrictions are easing. Attendance at last year's meeting was between 50 and 60 voters.

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.

Dogs, Cats and a Wandering Horse or Two
April 2021

04/01 Continue to assist resident with search for lost dog from 3/30. Dog located at 5p, owner to bring to vet to be checked out.

04/02 @12:30p Resident call regarding stray cat, possibly feral, hanging out in barn. Offered use of trap, resident will monitor for 1-2 days and if cat remains will set trap.

04/07 @8a Resident call regarding bear that tore down feeder while they were watching. Suggestions given.jeromy

04/08 @10a Resident call regarding regulations for trapping wildlife on property. Regulations reviewed and referral to local PAC agent given.

04/11 @8:30p Call from Hardwick ACO requesting assistance with emergency shelter for dog. Dog sheltered for 12 hours.

04/12 @8a Request from Hardwick ACO, with second call from Wachusett Emergency, requesting use of Petersham Animal Shelter for 45 day quarantine for cat. Petersham AC unable to provide assistance for this request, personal equipment for the quarantine period offered to Hardwick ACO.

@9:30a Previous caller with cat in barn states the cat has returned and would like the animal trapped. Assistance provided.

04/13 @7:15a Call from Petersham PD Chief regarding small dog someone dropped off at the station. To the station to pick up dog. Information placed on PAWS/FB page.

@8:30a Caller reports two dogs from neighborhood are regularly in her yard and on deck. Caller states dogs often relieve themselves on the deck and the area then needs to be cleaned. To area, dogs not seen.

@8:45a Call from passerby regarding large deceased bird in the middle of the road on Route 32. ACO en route to above call, notified Highway and highway superintendent agreed to pick bird up as there was a traffic concern.

@10:15a Met with relative of the owner of above two dogs and left a follow up message with owner.

@11:30a Resident request for ACO to remove woodchucks from property. Regulations reviewed with resident and referral to local PAC agent given.

@5:30p Resident called to report sighting of an undetermined animals while out for a walk in the morning. Both animals were cat like in appearance and more the size of a medium and large dog. Both were seen at 7:15a. Further discussion and photos sent to caller to aide in determining what was seen.

04/17 @10a Caller reports dog in yard, dog ran off when an attempt to restrain was made. To area, owner identified. Owner said child let dog out.

04/19 @9:45a Report from dispatch of loose area. To area, animal haltered and lead home. Examined fencing with owner, owner to repair.

@10:30a Report of large fox in yard with something in mouth. Explained to caller that is not uncommon this time of year.

04/27 @7:30a PD call regarding loose equine. Upon approach, equine headed home by itself. Met with owner to assist with fence repair.

04/28 @8a Call from resident requesting pickup of trapped cat. Cat transferred to Petersham Animal Shelter.

Mahar Regional Votes $14.3 M Budget

The Mahar Regional school committee April 16 approved a $14,356,349 budget, an increase of 2.7 percent for the coming fiscal year. Changing patterns of enrollment will produce changed assessment increases of almost  9 percent in orange, 12 percent in       Petersham and 14.25 percent in Wendell,,

Petersham Selectmen and Finance Committee told school officials on April  27 that, like their counterparts in Orange, they many not be able to recommend that level f spending to town meeting. Petersham is facing a $90,000 hike in its Mahar assessment and     Orange a $400,000-plus increase if the Mahar budget stands as is. More meetings are planned.market

Orange Selectman Thomas Smith told the committee that his town cannot afford a $416,000 Mahar increase without cutting back in other departments. Committee chair Peter Cross blamed the increases on flat levels of state funding and promised to write a letter to elected state officials.

Nancy Allen, chair of Petersham selectmen, said the district towns have raised "red flags" about the increased  assessments. "This is going to be a difficult budget for the towns," she said.

One attendee asked why the  budget includes plans to hire an assistant principal for $90,000. Principal Scott Hamlin replied that he is the only administrator in the country running a 700-student school without help and said, "If we have to cut the budget we will have to go back to programs that no longer work for the kids."

Smith and Petersham's Mark Bishop said seniors in both towns will have to make cuts in food and prescription purchases to pay rising property taxes. Member Diane Salcedo said assessments vary by enrollment. "When we cut  (school) budgets, we are pushing expenses down the road."

Petersham's Advisory Finance Committee and Selectboard are scheduled to discuss the proposed budget with Mahar officials later this month.

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.

OPINION: Send Us Your Opinions About the Nichewaug MORE

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