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Local Spring Art Show at Town Hall

The Petersham Cultural Council will host a local art show in the Petersham Town Hall April 3 through April 5. The theme of the show is “Spring Thaw,” and amateurs and professionals alike are encouraged to participate by submitting up to 4 pieces by March 25th. An opening artists reception will take place on Friday, April 3rd from 7-9 p,m. The show is free and open to the public. More information and the application form may be obtained by emailing petershamculturalcouncil@gmail.com.  The Petersham Cultural Council is a local agency funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Psychology Course at Mahar Regional

Greenfield Community College will offer an evening course, Principles of Psychology, in the spring semester 2020, on the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School campus. This 3-credit course is open to high school juniors and seniors, and to community members. Tuition and fees apply and prospective students must meet Accuplacer requirements. If you are interested, please contact the GCC email: gcc.mass.edu or call 413-775-1808, for more information.

Take a Hike on Feb. 23

Meander near the Connor's Pond Section of the East Branch of the Swift River this coming Sunday, February 23rd.Meet at the Flag Pole on the Common at 2:00 PM to carpool or at the Connor's Pond Dam near Rts. 122/32 The Hike: Two (2) hours 2-4 PM with a focus on the East side of Connor's Pond atholhospitaland the "deep history" of Connor's Pond, Swift River, Rutland Brook, and Sherman Hill. A moderate hike for adults (Children & Families are welcome to join us, but request they keep-up with the modest-paced hike)
Weather looks very good - sunshine and in the 40's. For those who may not have explored this section of the Swift River Valley, the hike will open your eyes to a remarkable bioregion. Invite your friends and neighbors.

Sweetwater Opens 2020 CSA Ordering

Sweetwater Farm, an organic farm on Maple Lane, has opened its 2020 CSA for ordering. Customers can order up to 20 weeks of fresh local produce with flexible share sizes and pickup times. The CSA offers market-style pick-up or pre-packaged box options. Deliveries are available. Call 610-858-4499 or e-mail sweetwaterfarmMA@gmail.com for more information.

Burning Brush Started Jan. 15

Permits to burn brush will be available starting January 15. Here's the link http://c8burnpermits.com/ for everything you need to know and to request a one-day permit.

Seed Saving 101 at the Library

The library will host a program on Saving Seeds at 11 a.m. March 7. Maddie Schmutz and Jess Cherry from Sweetwater Farm will present a primer on how to save and re-start seeds from local garden produce. The library has recently revamped and restocked its store of local seeds.

How Language Began

Local author and scholar Daniel L. Everett will present on his latest book, How Language Began: the Story of Humanity’s Greatest Invention, on Saturday, March 14, 11:30 a.m. at the Petersham Memorial Library. Tracing 60,000 generations, Everett debunks long-held theories across disciplines to affirm the idea that we are not born with an instinct for language. Free and open to the public. For more information, please call (978) 724-3405 or visit petershamlibrary.net....

UU Church Schedule of Services

Listed below is the schedule of services and for January and February at the First Congregational Parish Unitarian..

Sunday worship services start at 10:30 unless otherwise noted. All services with Rev. Arthen includes music by Cathy Tyng or Marc Erwin. Lay-led services may or may not include music. Services from 1/12 through March will be held in the Davis Memorial Building

The 2020 Budget Hearing will be held 1/12/20 immediately following the service. The Annual Meeting is scheduled for 1/19/20 at noon, snow date 1/26/20. Please plan to attend so that we have our quorum.

16 Iva Kazda - Northern Exposure
23 Rev. Inanna Arthen.

Art Center Greets 2020 - New Classes

Alice Zanga presents her popular rug braiding class on eight consecutive Wednesdays, starting January 8th to February 26th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The class will takerobinson lumber place in the Davis Memorial building at the Petersham Unitarian Universalist church to give room for the projects. Ms. Zanga is a juried fiber artist and has been teaching about and creating hand-braided rugs for decades. The class is suitable for beginners to advanced. A list of supplies needed will be available from the Art Center. Some supplies will be made available to the class to use or purchase. The cost is $60 for members and $80 for non-members

Sara Deponte's class is filled, but people are welcome to call and be put on a waiting list.

The rug class still has openings.Sara Deponte, fine artist from Petersham, will teach four consecutive classes on “Highlights and Shadows with Water Color” on Saturdays, February 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd from 9 am. to 10:30 a.m. Ms.mann lumber Deponte is known for her love of painting flowers and animal portraits. She has exhibited her work throughout New England. A list of supplies needed will be available from the Art Center. The cost is $30 for members and $50 for non-members. Class size is limited so students should call soon to reserve a place.

Call the Art Center at 978-724-3415 for more information and to register...

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Dump Stickers Available

Resident stickers for the transfer station are available at the Selectboard office. The cost is $25.00 cash or check made out to Town of Petersham for 2 stickers only. The stickers are red.

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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 aearthlands newspaper.




This website is NOT an official outlet for town government. It presents fact-based asdf 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

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Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

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Free Property Valuation Booklet

The Valuation and Taxes of the Town of Petersham for the Year 2016 booklet is available at the Petersham 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

Wednesday Feb. 26
1:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m. Petersham Town Offices

Rep. Susannah Whipps

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Official Town Website -

Committee meeting notices are posted at  www.mytowngovernment.org

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If only the river were this blue...
Photos from Petersham, Surrey, England

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Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

"Great Plates, Eat Out."




Town Sued Over Cell Tower 'No' Vote

TowerNorth Development, which was denied a cell tower permit by the local Zoning Board in January, has filed suit in federal court seeking to overturn the decision.

The court filing says the town's vote violates the federal Communications Act and was not based on evidence. The act guarantees that cell companies can build towers designed to fill gaps in service and coverage. The board voted 2 to 1 to allow the company to extend its approved tower from 90 to 160 feet but only one dissenting voted is needed to block the motion when  a zoning    Board has just three members.

The suit asks the court to undo the board vote and allow the tower project to proceed. The tower is meant to fill a "gap in service" in the area.

Denying the permit prohibits area cell service in violation of federal law and  causes TowerNorth  irreparable harm, the court papers assert. The company is seeking court costs and legal fees.

Final Interviews Set for New Mahar Superintendent

Four of 11 applicants have been selected for final interviews for the position of Mahar Regional Superintendant of schools

Applications closed on January 17. Search Committee members received the confidential applications electronically and reviewed them. The Committee met on January 22 to discuss interview questions. They then selected semi-finalists.godin

The committee interviewed six semi-finalists on Tuesday, January 28 and Wednesday, January 29. The committee then voted on the following four individuals as finalists:

Janelle Pearson, Ed. D., Assistant Director of Special Education, Waltham Public Schools
Mary Jane Rickson, M. Ed., Interim Superintendent, Maynard Public Schools
Phillip Saisa, Ed. D., (most recently) principal, Ashburnham-Westminster Regional School District
Elizabeth Zielinski, Ed. D., Superintendent, Oxford Public Schools

Members of the School Committees will visit the home districts of each finalist.
Interviews with each finalist will take place at Mahar Regional on Tuesday, February 25 and Thursday, February 27, after which the School Committees will make its selection.
Superintendant Tari Thomas is retiring at the end of this school year...

broadbandTown Making Progress on Broadband System Installation

Nearly 70 residents attended an information meeting at town hall Jan. 25 to get a good news update on broadband progress.

Broadband committee chair Chip Bull said, "This is exciting. We are actually building our network." The town committee has been working and planning this system for a decade. Since   early this month, some 16.4 miles of fiber optic cable has been hung on utility poles. witty funeral homeWhen fully wired, the system will be capable of reaching all the town's homes and businesses. Some 411 customers or 70 percent of the town have already signed on as paying customers.

When done, Bull said, Petersham will have internet connectivity better than 95 percent of US cities and towns.

Bull and Chris Lynch of Matrix Design Group said work schedules call for starting to connect individual customers to the system in April with a majority of homes connected by town meeting in June. The system will offer high speed internet connections, voice over internet phone service and other options, Lynch said. Lynch devoted the rest of the meeting to answering  questions from the audience about installation procedures, homes with underground conduits.

Dogs and a Few Cats and Not Much More

Animal Control Officer Call Log Summary
January 2020

01/06 @2p Report of roaming dog near center of town. Dog located and returned to owner

01/08 @11a Resident reports repeated sightings of what appears to be a single coyote. Information provided and advised to not approach

01/10 @4p Resident reports a missing dog. Dog returned home at 8:30p

01/12 @9a Athol resident living near the Petersham line reports missing cat. PAWS alert and FB post completed

@11a Report of two wandering dogs on the east side of town. One dog located at 1p, second at 4p

01/15 @9a Resident call regarding deceased wildlife in yard/driveway, HBC animal removed

01/16 @1p PPD call for injured red tail hawk that flew into vehicle. jeromyDriver on scene with officer. EPO contacted. ACO on scene with transport carrier and recommendation to observe since bird was improving. EPO arrived at 2:15p, agreed to transport to Tufts Wildlife

01/17 @12p Resident request for help with their dog

01/23 @10a Assist resident with pet issue
@11a Resident report there is a loose dog and feels owner is away. Additional conversations with resident during the day

01/24 Additional conversation with resident regarding above

01/25 Annual Petersham Rabies Clinic 10:15-12:30p

@1p Call for loose dog near center, dog returned to owner
@3:45p Call for found dog located at Country Store, dog returned to owner

01/28 @3p Assist resident with cat issuestone harvest farm

01/29 @11a Notified by PPD of two missing dogs on the Barre/Petersham. Owner contacted, as well as Barre ACO. One dog located in Petersham at 2p. Worked with owner to search and cover areas in Petersham and contact with homeowners in area.

01/30 @8a Second dog from above located in Greenfield
@6p Resident call for dog running in road, east side of town. No sighting when in area

Heywood Holds Annual Meeting in Town

Heywood Healthcare held its third annual meeting Jan. 23 at the former nuns' facility at 211 Main Street, More than 100 people attended.

Win Brown, president, reported a $5 million improvement in financial results in 2019 solar installations"We want people to know what their healthcare system is doing" Brown said. With 1400 employees, Heywood is Gardner's largest employer.

Besides Athol Hospital the, group has facilities in Gardner, Orange, Winchendon and an addiction recovery center in Petersham, "People have a choice where they get their health care. We want people to choose us," Procedures in Athol's Surgical Services increased 24 percent last year, Brown said.

Brown said a capital campaign to pay for a new addition at the Athol campus has just wrapped up.

Petersham Partners Group Delivers an Update

Nearly 30 residents stopped in at the Country Store on Jan. 17 to hear members of Petersham Partners report on progress to create a volunteer group that supports services for town seniors.

Committee members said they have been recruiting volunteers and identifying service providers and hope to launch their service later this year. The Partners committee comprises Sandy and Marc Page, Deborah Bachrach, Karen Davis, Lynn Shaw, Jim Regan and Kathleen Geary.

Members said the service will be modeled after the growing "village" movement that works to keep   seniors living in their homes by providing volunteers and needed services. The groups will focus on transportation to appointments and shopping, home support,  wellness checks and on connecting residents to necessary services in the region.

The group plans to launch the service in late spring or early summer with a social event.

Taller Cell Tower Rejected by Zoning Board

Zoning Board members January 9 said "No" to a request from Tower North Development to allow an increase in the permitted height of a proposed cell tower at 41 Hall Road.  A 90-foot tower was approved previously but has not been built. Tower North Development applied to modify the height saying that a 160-foot tower would provide more and better cell service and could allow up to four cell carriers and state emergency communications to share the cost of the tower.

A local zoning bylaw limits the height of cell towers to 90 feet. The developer was seeking a waiver of that limit. Tower North had told the board that a tall tower with several service providers hardwick coopon it could help prevent other developers from considering Petersham tower locations. Nearly 20 residents attended the meeting even though a public comment period closed last month.

Board member Maryanne Reynolds opposed allowing a taller tower. She said, "There is an interest in having a cell tower here but not with consequential adverse impact."

Board Chairman Don O'Neil and member Brian MacEwen both said the board could waive the 90-foot height limit set by  a  local bylaw and would vote for a 140-foot tower. Reynolds said she would vote No. The local zoning bylaw and state law require unanimous votes to waive restrictions when a town has a three-member zoning board

Michael Dolan, a lawyer for Tower North, did not respond when asked if the company can     appeal the board's decision.

Mahar Supt. Search Committee Selected

The School Committee Chairs for Ralph C. Mahar Regional School District, Orange Elementary School District and Petersham Center School District met and determined that the Superintendent Search Committee would be comprised of the following people:quabbin retreat

Ralph C. Mahar Regional School Committee – Sunday Lefevre
Orange Elementary School Committee – Alex Schwanz
Petersham Center School Committee – Lynn Peredina
Petersham Town Official – Nancy Allen
Orange Town Official – Gabe Voelker
Administrator from one of the 3 Districts – Eric Glazier
Director of Finance and Operations – Michele Tontodonato
Director of Curriculum or Special Education – Marie Cole
Ralph C. Mahar Faculty member – Kelley Allen
Orange Elementary Faculty member – Ben Herk
Petersham Center School Faculty member – Nichole Ruggles
Parent from one of the 3 Districts – Sharon Gilmore
Student Representative from Ralph C. Mahar – Kylie Hedges
Representative from New Salem/Wendell –

Supt. Teri Thomas is retiring at the end of this school year.

Annual Town Election March 30

The Petersham Town Election will be held on Monday, March 30, 2020 from 10 a.m.
– 8 p.m. at the Petersham Town Hall – Lower Level.

The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, March 10. Incumbent candidates for rices roots farmre-election wishing to sign the blanket nomination paper must sign by Monday, February 10th at 5 pm.

Anyone wishing to take out nomination papers must take out and return papers by Monday, February 10th at 5 p.m. from the Town Clerk.

Offices to be filled are Moderator – currently held by Bart Wendell, Board of Selectmen – currently held by Fredrik Marsh, Treasurer – currently held by Dana
Robinson, Board of Assessors – currently held by Ellen Anderson, Board of Health
– currently held by Stephen Loring, Petersham School Committee – currently held
by Angela Danielson, Planning Board (2 seats) – currently held by John Lawson
and Fraser Sinclair, Trustees of Public Library – currently held by Kent Byron. All
the seats are 3 year positions.well domes

Mahar Regional School Committee has a 2-year vacant seat. Anyone wishing to run for this seat should see the Town Clerk to take out papers.


State Grant Approved for Town Hall Lift System

The Massachusetts Office of Disability has approved the town's request for $140,000 to install a handicap lift system in Town Hall. Selectboard chair Nancy Allen announced the grant award.

The Selectboard accepted a low bid for the work from Clearview Contracting of Petersham.opened project bids on December 16. Clearview Contracting of Petersham was the tune up lowest of three bidders with two versions of the proposed work. Clearview Contracting bid $139,000. Vs. 1– Re-use of existing concrete foundation for exterior pathway and $148,500. Vs. 2 – Construction of new footings for exterior pathway. The work must be complete by June 30 to comply with grant terms.

The project design calls for installing an interior lift system at the south front side corner of the building that will connect the main floor to the lower town hall and allow access to the building from outside as well. Total budget for the project is $160,000 and that includes alteration to exterior parking spaces.

Selectboard, Assessors Set 2020 Tax Rate

In a brief October 30 meeting, Selectmen and Assessors set the fiscal 2020 tax rate at $17.37 per thousand of assessed value. an increase from the current rate of  $16.93. Assessor Dana Kennan told the board the town's total valuation increased $6.7 million as properties were revalued and rose to $159,310,618. Kennan said the average home, is now assessed at $251,312, up from $241,830 and an average home will pay $271.11 more in taxes in the coming tax year. Some 89 percent of the total tax base is found in residential property, he said.

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