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The Opinion Page

Another Friend Has Passed On

emily arnold Rini Kilcoyne and her Mom, Emily Arnold

Emily Arnold (AKA Denium Em), of Petersham Ma, died on Valentine’s Day morning at the age of 85. She was born at the Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto Ca on January 13, 1936 to Ranchers Tom and Fanny Arnold, she is survived by her remaining 3 siblings, Henry Arnold, Jesse Arnold, and Sally Rench, her younger brother Mike Arnold having predeceased her.

She is also survived by her three daughters Deborah Haynes, Kathryn Ball, and Rini Kilcoyne; her five grandchildren Alfonso Gonzalez, Ricci Gay, Reggie Gay, Torrance Kilcoyne, Hannah Aghdam and Amelia Kilcoyne; as well as her two great grandchildren Conner Joseph Gonzalez, and Andrew Barrett Aghdam. She was a matriarch to her family, generous and kind to all. 

A beloved member of the Petersham Community, Emily served on boards at the Art Center and Library, and on the Parish Committee at the First Congregational Parish Unitarian of Petersham as a secular humanist. Many will remember her decked out in flag attire on the 4th of July, behind the wheel of her 1965 Mustang convertible.

Her mastery as a knitter and seamstress, and wearable art of all kinds led to her opening her own shop on Main St in Athol called Emily’s Needleworks. She had been a teacher’s aide in the Palo Alto Unified School District, and was likewise beloved by the children and her colleagues there. She was a supporter of the theater, arts and music, a world traveler, and an amazing human being. Her creative spirit, the bright light in her eyes, and the beautiful smile that could warm any room will be greatly missed.t at Nick's in Athol.

Emily was a good neighbor and a dear friend.

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.

Covid Updates from Heywood Hospital

Heywood Hospital provides updates on Covid-19 Click HERE to see the  updates

Congregational Services Have Resumed

Sunday services have resumed at the Congregational church at 10 a.m. each week. Members are wearing masks and only every other row of pews is to be occupied. Long-time Petersham resident and church member has died. Click here to read Peter's obituary.

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 tune updisease 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

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."





Covid in Massachusetts Cities and Towns Map

Virtual Nichewaug Inn Meeting Feb. 24

A virtual public information meeting to discuss the 2020 Opinion Survey about the Nichewaug Inn & Academy property will be held online Wednesday, February 24th from 6:30 - 8:30 p.m,  

The meeting will be hosted by Montachusett Regional Planning Commission planner Karen Chapman. Last year the commission worked with the town to develop a public opinion survey. The results of this survey will be the focus of this meeting. 

Karen will present the data compiled from the survey and will hold a Q&A session following the presentation.  Meeting attendees will be muted during Karen's presentation but an online 'Chat" option will be available. For any additional information or questions, please contact Jane at jelynchg@umass.edu

Please join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone at

You can also dial in using your phone by calling 1 (224) 501-3412

The meeting access code is 923 510 429

New to
GoToMeeting?'  Download the application early and be ready when the meeting starts. Click this link: https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/923510429  ..

65+ Covid Vaccine Clinic
Reaches 100 Residents
The Board of Health held a Covid vaccination clinic on Saturday
 at 9:30 a.m. at the Center School gym.

More than 100 town residents 65 years old and older made appointments and
received the first of two Covid vaccine shots. A second is scheduled for March 13.

The clinic was held with support from the Rutland Board of Health and volunteers of the 
Wachusett Medical Reserve Corps. 
No On-going Covid Testing at Mahar or Center School

Citing tight budgets and future program costs, Mahar Regional and the Center School have opted not to participate in the state's Covid "pool" testing program for school students and staff. A school spokesperson said while federal funds would cover the first six week cost of the program, the financial burden would fall back on the schools' budgets after that. More than 120 districts in the state have agreed to join the program.

School Supt. Elizabeth Zielinski said the decision was made in part because of the burden the program on the school nursing staff, record keeping and the fact that if a pooled test comes back positive, all participants in that group of tests would have to quarantine. Also the ongoing expenses could rise to $10,000 or more each week. There are many better ways to spend the money, she said.

The state Department of Education website says in part: "Currently, the cost for a district is estimated to be about $50.00 per pool (approximately $5.00 per individual swab in a pool size of 10). There are also additional costs such as a monthly administrative fee and a one-time startup fee.

"Districts and schools may opt into additional contracted services through the Pooled Testing Services Provider, such as delivery of collected specimens to the laboratory, and/or in-person support. The initial 6-week cost coverage can include these optional services, although such support services may be limited, and we ask schools to carefully consider whether such support is strictly necessary. As a reminder, the state will cover the initial 6-week launch of the program, which will run through March 28th, 2021, and districts will cover program costs moving forward.

"Districts are highly encouraged, though not required, to continue participating after the initial six weeks. Districts are also able to change their Pooled Testing Services Provider or add/remove additional services after March 28th, 2021 if needed."

New Transfer Station Monitor Appointed

The Selectboard has appointed Paul Williams of Nichewaug Road as the town's  new transfer station monitor. He replaces the late Rick Marsh. Paul is the only person who applied for the post.
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.
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. Selectboard chair Nancy Allen commented as follows:
"The Selectboard is saddened by the unexpected death of fellow Selectman Rick Marsh after a brief illness and our thoughts are with his family at this time.

The Selectboard will be reviewing next steps as allowed by law -- filling the seat by either holding a Special Election or at the next Regular Annual Election which has been set for May 17. Petersham's local election is held on the first Monday of March, but due to COVID19 and as allowed by law, the Town Clerk requested moving the date to May 17, and the Selectboard concurred with that recommendation.

As reviewed with the Town Clerk at the time of taking that action, the hope is that the COVID19 vaccination programs will be further along and surges will have quelled, plus it provided a much-needed break for election workers from the rigorous election processes of Fall 2020. It is unlikely that a Special Election will be inserted into the timeline given the original reason for moving the date and how close any Special Election date would end of being to the May 17th Election.

The key focus of the Selectboard from January thru April is the town's budget. That annual work is a joint effort between the Selectboard and the Advisory Finance Committee working with all town departments and committees. With that primary focus, it is likely that waiting until May to fill the now open seat will work out with no harm done and is logistically best for all including the Town Clerk for her process and for her team of poll workers. This process will be further reviewed at an upcoming Selectboard meeting."
-Nancy Allen
Chair, Petersham Selectboard

Hospitals Must Now Post Their Prices

Good news for anyone who has ever been surprised by medical bills - hospitals must now post their prices for all to see. Kaiser Health News and others are reporting the new requirements.

Hospitals face the new year with new requirements to post price information they have long sought to obscure: the actual prices negotiated with insurers and the discounts they offer their cash-paying customers.  That could allow consumers to shop for the best price for nearby services.market

The move is part of a larger push by the Trump administration to use price transparency to curtail prices and create better-informed consumers.

As of Jan. 1, facilities must publicly post on their websites prices for every service, drug and supply they provide. Next year, under a separate rule, health insurers must take similar steps.

With the new hospital rule, consumers should be able to see the tremendous variation in prices for the exact same care among hospitals and get an estimate of what they will be charged for care — before they seek it.

Reports:As  many as one third of all Americans reportedly struggle to pay medical charges.

Dogs Wil Bark, Racoons Like to Go Into Barns
January 2021

01/01 Cat in shelter delivered to new owner. Rabies certificate provided.

01/04 @10a Teleconference with state agency and resident regarding recent situation. Plan in place for moving forward.

@1p Meeting with MDAR (via Zoom) regarding parameters for rabies clinics outside of veterinary offices. Protocol discussed, verbal submission made.

@5:15p Call from resident regarding dog picked up in Barre. Barre ACO not on duty and PD tied up with another situation. Barre PD requests dog come to Petersham Animal Shelter. Dog to shelter. Information posted on social media.

@7p Call from Barre resident regarding above. Met owner of dog at shelter.

@7:30p Barre ACO and PD updated with owner information.

01/07 @9:30a Conversation with PPD regarding situation in town.

@12p Cat at home in town picked up and brought to shelter for care.

01/15 @2:15p Passerby picked up loose dog on route 122. To area, dog brought to shelter. Owner identified.

@5p To shelter for release of above dog to owner.

01/15 @9p Barking dog complaint

@10:45p Barking dog complaint, unable to make contact with owner

@11:45p Barking dog complaint, owner contact made

01/16 Conversations with owner of above, options discussed. Caller from previous evening and dog owner in conversation.

@4:45p Call from Barre PD regarding dog picked up in Barre near the Petersham line. Barre ACO not available and Barre PD unable to house dog. Dog to Petersham Shelter. FB and other social media contacts posted.

@7p Owner of dog above in touch via telephone, to shelter to release dog to Barre owner.

01/18 @12:30p Call from resident concern about barking dog.

@5p Above resident called to state she continues to hear dog barking and concerned it is an injured dog. To area. Contact made with dog owner.

01/19 Calls regarding above.

01/20 @9:30a Resident call regarding clarification of several animal control laws.

@11:30a Resident call regarding raccoon in barn for two days. Consensus it is a young, healthy animal. Suggestions given to lure animal from location and to remove food source from barn.

01/21 @9:45a Resident call with question regarding dogs that will be staying at a Petersham location for 2-3 months. Requirements explained, resident able to comply.

@10:30a Follow up to raccoon issue, plan appears to have worked, animal gone, owner to call if any further problems.

@3:00p Cat in shelter brought to veterinary facility for rabies vaccination.

01/27 @3:30p Resident call regarding dog that is running loose in woods and backyards. Explained possible hunting dog that may have wandered away from typical group of dogs hunting together. To area, phone call to possible owner. Owner of dog explained there was a malfunction with GPS collar. Follow up with resident.

01/30 Parties interested in adopting cat in shelter in to do meet and greet.

01/31 @9:30a Message from resident of husky type dog in yard (photo sent). Phone calls made to two possible owners.
@12p Cat in shelter transported to new home in Hubbardston.

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.


  • 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.

OPINION: Send Us Your Opinions About the Nichewaug MORE

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