Center School Playground Fundraiserpancake breakfast
A Center School  playground fundraiser is scheduled for Saturday,

September 30, 8-11a.m. at the Center School. In addition to the breakfast, the school is also holding a silent auction with more than 40 items donated so far. Price is $8 for age 12 and up, $5 for age 4-11 and free for those under 3. Includes juice/milk, coffee, pancakes and bacon or sausage.

 

 

 

 

 

Board Votes 'Yes' on  Temporary Town Hall Ramp

In a short, one-item special meeting on Sept. 21, thetemporary ramp Selectboard voted to go ahead with a temporary handicap access ramp for the upper town hall. The ramp is meant to make the hall legally accessible while a local committee pursues grant funds for a three-stop interior lift solution that will connect the upper and lower halls and allow access to both from outdoors. A temporary plywood ramp that once served the main hall was ordered closed and finally removed earlier this year. That ramp lasted more than two decades.

Selectmen voted to take the town's $3,750 share of the $18,750 ramp from two town hall maintenance accounts. Resident Stephanie Selden has donated $15,000 to the ramp provided that a more permanent solution can move ahead. The temporary ramp could be installed within two to three weeks, or as soon as the contractor painting the building is done working on the front of the building. The new ramp will be installed at the northwest corner front door.

Items that will help the ramp committee apply for a state grant are on the agenda for the next board meeting. Board members said he temporary ramp will match one at the town office building next door. Selectman Rik Marsh said, "Hopefully, the temporary ramp will be replaced in less than a year."

Nichewaug Abatement Project Update Sept. 22

The Petersham Selectboard would like to provide an update to neighbors on the status of the project to abate and remove asbestos and other hazardous materials at the Nichewaug Inn & Academy property. 

Over the spring and summer Associated Building Wreckers has completed a great deal of the abatement work in both the Inn and Academy buildings. However, there are a few tasks remaining.  

In order to conduct abatement of certain sections of the basement (primarily the boiler room in the Academy wing) there needs to be pumping of the standing water in the basement.  To be sure that this water was not contaminated, a water sample from the basement was collected recently and analyzed for: Priority Pollutant 13 metals; Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs); Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons; Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs); and Semivolatile Organic Compounds (SVOCs). 

The analytical data for the water tests were reviewed by the Town’s third party monitor of this abatement project, Wilcox & Barton.  According to Wilcox & Barton, “The data are consistent with the water being groundwater.  No analytes were detected above MassDEP criteria that may indicate a spill or release.   When analyzing the water for metals, we ran the sample for both Total Metals (WS-1T) and Dissolved (WS-1D).  The dissolved concentrations are lower than the totals, but both tests document concentrations well below standards.” 

On Monday the 25th, Mark Bishop and I will be meeting at the Nichewaug property with Glen Gallacher, ABW’s onsite supervisor, to review the plan for pumping, filtering and discharge of the basement water.  We will be meeting onsite at 10:30 Monday morning if any neighbors have concerns and want to join us.

As you may know, additional floor tiles in the Nichewaug Inn were discovered to contain asbestos (tiles that Terracon had not included in their itemization in the bid specs) thus a change order was needed to address this unanticipated and unbudgeted task.  Please know that we are getting close to completing this important abatement project that will remove the hazardous materials from this building.

Henry Woolsey

 

Broadband Network Designed,
Reimbursement Still Uncertain

Members of the Broadband Municipal Light Plant got an update Sept. 13 from Matrix Design of New Jersey on progress toward the town's planned broadband internet system. A system mapping project is complete, Magid said. A system equipment room is being added in the lower town hall.magid

Chair Chip Bull and member/Selectman Nancy Allen reported that there is still no resolution to new state requirements that could clear the way to a previously promised state reimbursement of some $880,000 for the system but said they are pressing the state for a resolution and will seek support from legislators.

Revised state requirements now say that towns must build, own and operate their town internet systems to get promised reimbursements. Petersham is moving ahead with a plan to have Matrix build, own and operate the planned system here. Town meeting appropriated and approved borrowing enough money to build the system on the promise of a state reimbursement.

In a Sept. 8 letter to the Board of Selectmen, Carolyn A. Kirk, deputy secretary of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development said in part, "...there needs to be the appropriate documentation in place guaranteeing municipal ownership of the network which we find lacking in the (Petersham) request." Kirk said the state is working "... to open up an avenue to consider creative proposals such as this one."

Bull said he cannot believe that Petersham could become the only western Mass town that gets left out of the revised reimbursement scheme. The town is arguing that its lease/purchase deal with Matrix is equal to town ownership and reimbursement should be approved. Allen said she and Bull have recently been in touch with state officials and are seeking a determination from an accounting firm that the Petersham deal is like ownership.

Magid and Chris Lynch of Matrix said all 1,934 utility poles in town have been surveyed and paperwork is ready to go to utility companies which must approve adding new cabling. A contract with Matrix must be signed and an insurance bond finalized as next steps so the project can proceed, they said. Customers could begin seeing internet service as early as early next year, the two said.

Petersham Cultural Council Seeks Grant Proposals

The Petersham Cultural Council has set an October 16th deadline for organizations, schools, and individuals to apply for grants that support cultural activities. Proposals for community-oriented arts, humanities, and science programs are due Monday October 16, 2017.

According to Council spokesperson Linda Paquet, the grants can support a variety of artistic projects and activities in the Quabbin region -- including exhibits, festivals, field trips, short-term artist residencies, or performances in schools, workshops, and lectures. The PCC also gives grants for funding projects in thesciences and the humanities, such as historical or environmental education.

The Petersham Cultural Council is part of a network of 329 Local Cultural Councils serving all 351 cities and towns in the Commonwealth. The program is the largest grassroots cultural funding network in the nation. The state legislature provides an annual appropriation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, which then allocates funds to each community.millersriver

This year, the Petersham Cultural Council will distribute about $4,000 in grants. Previously funded projects include: Petersham Friday Market music, a school field trip to a “plant life” program at Mass Audubon, and free Ukulele lessons. Grant money is paid after programs are presented.

For local guidelines and complete information on the Petersham Cultural Council online, go to the Mass-culture.org web site and look up Petersham on the pop-up list, or contact Jeannette Martin at 978-724-0460 or Linda Paquet at 978-724-3427.

Application forms and more information about the Local Cultural Council Programs are also available online at www.mass-culture.org and www.mass-culture.org/Petersham. Please submit applications online, if this is not possible then paper applications will be accepted by sending to the Petersham
Cultural Council, Petersham Town Hall, PO Box 486, Petersham MA 01366

Board Accepts $15,000 Gift for Temporary Access Ramp

The Selectboard voted to accept a $15,000 gift from a resident to pay for a temporary handicap access ramp that will make the main town hall accessible while a town committee seeks grant funding for a permanent interior lift system that will serve both the upper and lower halls and provide access to both halls from outdoors. The gift includes a provision that the temporary ramp will be removed from the front of Town Hall when the lift system is installed.hardwick  farmers coop

Town Hall Access Committee Report

Stephanie Selden, a member of the Town Hall Handicap Access Committee, said the temporary ramp will allow entry into one front door while the committee pursues a state grant for the work. The three-stop lift is to be installed at the side door at the front southwest corner of the building at a cost of about $70,000. The committee asked the board to repurpose money set aside at the last town meeting for a concrete ramp at the front of the building to help pay for the interior lift system and was told that could only be done at the June town meeting in 2018.quabbin woods

Committee members said the Selectboard must provide several supporting documents in time for a November 17 grant deadline. Early submission of the paperwork will add to a point total used to determine who gets a grant award. Selectboard Chair Nancy Allen said the board will work to prepare those documents and provide a progress report at its Sept. 26 meeting. 

The board members said Town Hall painting has halted to allow a primer coat to dry thoroughly but could resume this week. Asbestos removal at the Nichewaug property continues with a $22,329 hike in the cost as more floor tiles have been found than originally estimated. Selectman Henry Woolsey said water to be pumped from the building auditorium will be tested for contaminants before being discharged.

The board voted to begin selling new vehicle stickers for  starting on Sept. 13 and at the dump on Sept. 16 and Sept. 30. The new stickers are required starting Oct.1

Chairman Allen said the state has responded to letters from the board and the Broadband project group urging full funding for the town's broadband project. Allen said the letter said the state is developing a new "request for proposal" is being developed for towns seeking broadband systems but, "... we already have a contractor." A previous shift in the state's direction said towns must build and operate their own systems to get reimbursement. Petersham has engaged an outside firm to build, own and operate its system.earthlands

Roy Nilson told the board that when the broadband company, Matrix Design, went out and counted utility poles in town, the total found was 1,934 poles, significantly higher than the state's published estimate of 1,200 poles. Nilson said he questioned the discrepancy because utility poles are taxed and a significant undercount by the state could mean fewer tax dollars are being received by the town. Allen replied that is an issue for the assessors and urged Nilson not to press it for the next year because doing so could could hamper the town getting its broadband reimbursement.

The board appointed Stephen Loring to serve as health agent for the next 12 months.

Roy Nilson, who publishes petershamcommon.com, is a member of the handicap access committee.

Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Please

An evening of fun and fine food, comes to the Petersham Memorial Library from 7-9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30, as the library celebrates its annual fundraising event for the Building Improvement Fund.


Chocolatier and food expert, Kim Larkin, will present a program of pairings and tastings of wine, cheese, and chocolate. Attendees will be waited upon with trays full of delicacies, as the Trustees of the library become their servers for the evening. jaynen arata

The library will also conclude its Silent Fundraising Auction that evening, as winners will be announced that night. Bidders may visit the library during regular hours from mid-September until the night of the event to see the items displayed and make their bids. Attendees may also bid that evening.

Items at the auction include art by local artists, donated by library supporters, including a watercolor by Barbara Ellis, a pastel by Janet Palin, and an oil painting by our former Petersham resident and artist, Rita Pope. Another supporter has donated an antique silk shawl and a vintage embroidered quilt coverlet with folk art squares.

There is a ticket donation fee to attend the “Wine, Cheese and Chocolate, Please!” event. You may purchase tickets at the door, sign up at the library, or make reservations to attend by calling the library at 978-724-3405.

Suggested ticket donation is $15/person and $25/couple. All donations will be used to benefit the improvement of library building. The Library is located at 8 Common Street, on the Petersham Common, on the Main Street of Petersham.

Friday Market - Music on the Bandstand

The Hip Swayers performed on our bandstand at the Friday Market on Sept. 8. The Firm, a local bluegrass band will 
take to the bandstand on Sept . 15

At the Friday Market a dozen local vendors offer organic produce, fresh corn and other produce from the Pioneer Valley, started plants of many kinds, locally raised meat, chickens, local eggs, baked goods, home-baked dog cookies, local honey, handmade soaps and other craft items.

The market is open to regular and occasional vendors and to information booths staffed by social service and health care agencies who share information about their programs and services. WATERWHEEL

The Friday Market offers a program of free music each Friday thanks to major support from Heywood Healthcare, the Wild Geese Foundation, Petersham Town Meeting voters, the Petersham Cultural Council, The Country Store, Waterwheel Realty, the Memorial Library and from individual local donors.
Friday Market vendors vary weekly and include Petersham's Sweetwater Farm (organic produce, meat), Golden Egg Farm (fresh local eggs and chickens) Patsy Buck Handmade Soaps,

The Little Chicken Factory (mobile chicken coops), Bob Hayward's local garlic, Pick and Shovel Farm (plants and produce), Walnut Kitchen Homestead (produce, meat and other items), Rick Wilkey from Orange (produce). Sunset Valley Farm produce, plants and herbs from Friendship Farm and more. Tracey's Traditionals offers all-natural, non-toxic and herbal personal care and wellness products.

The Friday Market is on the Petersham town common from 3 to 6 p.m. each Friday in season. For information, contact Roy Nilson (978-724-6662) or by e-mail: fridaymarket@petershamcommon.com

State Reimbursement for Broadband Still Uncertain

Members of the Broadband Municipal Light Plant met for an update on the town's high-speed internet project on August 16 and learned that promised state repayment for the system remains uncertain.

Last month, the state changed the rules and now requires that only towns which build, own and operate their own internet systems will be repaid. Petersham has contracted with a third party to do the work but has an option to purchase and operate the resulting fiber optic system. The town has appropriated and borrowed some $560,000 and hopes for a promised $770,000 reimbursement from the state.

Light board chairman Chip Bull said the committee and Selectmen have written to state agencies and legislators arguing that Petersham's approach to ownership should not disqualify the promised reimbursement but as yet has no answer and no commitment to hold the money aside until a determination is made.

Chris Lynch from Matrix Design told the committee that its survey of 1934 utility poles is complete and applications to add fiber optic cabling are ready to submit to the utility companies. He said the system could be operating before next summer's annual town meeting and that Petersham is moving ahead of other un-served and underserved western Massachusetts towns. Matrix is being paid $48,350 for  its survey of all 1,934 utility poles in town.  The survey was meant to determine what work must be done before another cable is  hung on each pole.

Bull said, "We are on track. We are going to have our network," adding that the lack of a firm commitment for state funding is a "frustrating problem." Bull said he is worried that promised state funds may be spent elsewhere, leaving none for Petersham.