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Selectboard Meeting Jan. 23

The Selectboard will meet at 6:30 p.m.Tuesday to discuss whether  the town needs a "Right to Farm" bylaw and with the town treasurer to discuss upcoming borrowing needs. Also on the agenda, details of the proposed town budget and an update on proposals received from developers interested in the Nichewaug property on the common,

THE Annual Winter Tea

The Memorial Library will hold its annual Winter Library Tea on Sunday, afternoon, February 11, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The snow date is on Sunday, February 18, 2018 at the Library. All are welcome.

Earth Day and Farming

The Village Lyceum at the  Unitarian Church is planning an “Earthday Celebration of Local Farms” for Sunday, April 22 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

 The purpose of the day-long event is to examine the importance of local farming. Interested farmers and sponsors should contact, Genevieve Fraser at FraserGenevieve@gmail.com or phone (978) 544-1872.

Celebrating a Good Neighbor

There was a day of celebration  for Alan Bachrach, local veterinarian, at the Memorial Library from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday January 14. Alan has retired from his veterinary practice on East Street. He and his wifeoriginal tire co Deb, our local Animal Control Officer, have been key to our annual rabies clinics, to setting up  the Petersham Animal Welfare System and to getting a modern animal shelter built at the highway barn.

Art Center Winter Classes

Petersham Art Center will host two classes starting in January 2018 to chase away the winter blues. WATERWHEEL
Alice Zanga will return with her popular rug braiding class, held on Wednesday evenings, January 24th through February 28th, from 6:30-8:30PM. Ms. Zanga is an acclaimed textile artist who has been teaching this fun and friendly class in Petersham for many years. Participants will learn to design and braid their own hand-created rug from start to finish. The class fills quickly so students are urged to call the Art Center soon to reserve their spot. The cost of the class is $50 for members and $70 for nonmembers.
Karen Healey of  The Dappled Ewe in Rutland will bring her talents to teach a class on traditional rug hooking onearthlands Saturdays, January 27th through February 24th, from 9AM-12 Noon. Healey has been teaching about and creating hand-hooked rugs for over 20 years. Students will create a 12” primitive sheep and star mat from woolen fabric. Each class includes information about the tools and techniques used to make traditional folk-art hooked rugs and hands-on instruction as you work on your own. The cost of the class is $75 for members/$95 for nonmembers with a $25 materials fee.

Call the Petersham Art Center at 978-724-3415 for more information and to sign up for classes.

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At the Dump

Transfer Station (DUMP) Fees

Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

what's open
Grange Education Programs

Today’s Pests & Parasites

Sunday, March 25,  2:00 p.m. Petersham Town Hall  Free Will the ticks survive the polar weather? Are the gypsy moths returning this year?   What can we do to combat Lyme disease in ourselves How do we identify and manage parasites in livestock?  These questions and more will be addressed in this program reviewing the growing season ahead and what resources & tools are available.  After the program enjoy refreshments, and piano & singing.

\The Fruits of Our Labor

Saturday," April 21, 2:00 p.m. Petersham Town Hall  Free.
Orchardist Michael Phillips' latest research reveals how fungi and plants work together to create healthy soils.  Michael draws connections between home orchards and perma-culture. He stresses the importance of native pollinators and beneficial allies and sees the apple as the final frontier of organics. After the program enjoy potluck supper and piano & singing.

Citizens' Legislative Seminar

Sen. Anne M. Gobi (D-Spencer) is seeking nominees to participate in the 80th Citizens' Legislative Seminar (CLS) to be held March 27th and March 28th at the State House. CLS is a semi-annualberemco educational seminar to help adults of all ages interested in learning more about state government and the legislative process. Seats are limited.

Established in 1976 by the Massachusetts Senate and the UMass Boston, the two-day seminar features presentations by Senators and staff on the day-to-day experience of state legislators.mann lumberTopics will include the history and process of the Legislature, the State Budget, the parliamentary role of the Clerk of the Senate, the future of the Legislature and the legislative process.

esidents are invited to contact Derek Silver at 617-722-1540 by Friday, Jan. 12th to be nominated on a first come, first served basis.


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.

2017 Selectboard Office Hours

Monday 8  a.m. – 7  p.m.
Tuesday 8  a.m. – 4  p.m. Wednesday, Thursday
8  a.m. – 4  p.m.
Friday 8  a.m. – 12 noon

Sen. Anne Gobi

Rep. Susannah Whipps-Lee

 our hisory

Official Town Website -

Committee meeting notices are posted at  www.mytowngovernment.org

Colorful Fish

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

 Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

Millers River Environmental Center

Local Farms and Pick Your Own

"Great Plates, Eat Out."

Annual Town Election March 5

The annual town election will be held on Monday, March 5, 2018.

Nomination papers are available through the Town Clerk's office at 3 South Main Street. The office is open on Monday evenings 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.. caledonia

The following offices (all 3-year offices) are up for re-election: Board of Selectmen currently held by Henry Woolsey, Tax Collector currently held by Renee Wingertsman, Town Clerk currently held by Diana Cooley, Board of Assessors currently held by Dana W. Kennan, Board of Health currently held by Robert Pasic,

Petersham School Committee is currently vacant, Planning Board (2 positions) currently held by Stephen Herzog and Robert Rocheleau and Trustees of Public Library currently held by Fifi Scoufopoulos.stone harvest farm

The last day to obtain nomination papers is January 16, 2018. The last day to return papers is January 16, 2018. The last day to register to vote is February 13, 2018. Any questions may be directed to the Town Clerk's Office.


Nichewaug Proposal Deadline Extended to June 28

With no redevelopment proposals in hand, the Selectboard voted Jan. 19 to keep trying and extended the deadline for proposals to June 28.

A request for proposals and two walk-throughs of the property generated interest but eight individuals and architects from Amherst, Cambridge, Watertown and North Carolina sought more time to come up with plans to redevelop the town-owned property.

Vice chairman Henry Woolsey said issuing an RFP in late November with a January deadline for responses was "... a mistake" and unrealistic. "I think we should vote for a significant extension." Selectman Rik Marsh agreed. As an abutter, Chairman Nancy Allen cannot participate in Nichewaug matters.

We have owned the property for 10 years. It is a problematic property. We are making progress but it is slow," Woolsey said.

Stephanie Selden of Phillips drive said, "I don't see the harm in an extension. That's how you get good proposals."

The town took ownership of the property after several private owners failed to redevelop it and has since spent more than a half million dollars to remove asbestos from the property to make it more attractive to developers.

OPINION: Any Ideas for the Nichewaug? MORE

winter waterfall

Grange Plans 2018 Education Programs

Petersham Grange 95 presents 2018 Farm Program Series:  Problems, Solutions, and Tools for Community Farmers

First: The Plight of the Bumblebees

Sunday, January 21, 2:00 p.m. Petersham Town Hall Free Featuring Dr. Robert Gegear Worcester Polytechnic Institute Assistant Professor, Biology & Biotechnology. Gegear will discuss the importance of bees and other pollinators to the food supply and current threats to the bee population. bee

Gegear will demonstrate a method by which the protection of pollinators can become a part of your life in a new way. He is launching a program whereby you can identify pollinators on your own farms and gardens and send that information into a scientific database so you can see how you and your town compare to other places in the state.

Melissa Hoffer Barre beekeeper, attorney, and Chief of the Energy & Environment Bureau in the Office of the Mass. Attorney General. Atty. Hoffer joined the Mass. AG Office in 2012 as chief of the Environmental Protection Division. Since 2015, she has been overseeing the AG’s Office work to enforce environmental laws, protect ratepayer interests, and support federal environmental regulations. She recently testified before Mass. legislators on a proposed bill, ‘An Act protecting Massachusetts pollinators.’ She lives in Barre where she keeps bees and goats.

After the program enjoy refreshments and Music and Song
and join in an Apple Howling ceremony to wake the apple trees from winter slumber  and encourage them to produce a good crop in the coming season.

Broadband Update Jan. 10

A meeting to update residents on plans for a town-wide broadband system drew nearly 40 people to town hall on Jan. 10.

Chip Bull, chairman of the Broadband Municipal Light Plant, said constructing the system could begin as soon as mid-2018.
quabbin retreat

The town is waiting for approval from utility companies to begin hanging fiber optic cable on utility poles and eventually reach every home, Bull said. The town is waiting for confirmation that the state will
reimburse up to $880,000 for the system which will be used to pay off a $260,000 borrowing and put some $300,000 back into the town stabilization fund.
Petersham is well ahead of most other towns in Western Massachusetts who are also working to provide broadband systems, he said.millersriver

"I hope that 70 percent of the town will be "lit up" by the time school starts and all the work will be done by the end of 2018," he said.. Because the town is working with Matrix Design, a private contractor, the system
could be built "...at zero cost to the town," he said.

Get Brush Burning Permits Online

Massachusetts allows residents to burn brush between January 15 and May 1, depending on weather conditions. You must obtain permission from the town  to burn brush.If you are burning brush in Petersham,  visit www.c8burnpermits.com  between 7:30 a.m. and noon to obtain a permit on the day you want to burn brush. Permits depend on weather conditions.quabbin woods

You may only burn brush. All other materials are illegal. No leaves, grass, hay, stumps, building debris or any other materials are allowed to be burned.

All open burning must be at least 75 feet from buildings or structures.

Burning can start at 10:00 a.m. and must be extinguished by 4 p.m.. Any open fire must be attended at all times by the permit holder. No person shall set, maintain or increase a fire in open air at any time except by permission.

You must be 18 years or older to apply for a permit and/or set, maintain or increase a fire once permission has been granted.farmers coop

You must have a means to extinguish an open air fire completely at the end of the day or if requested by the Fire Department.The Fire Department can refuse or cancel a permit at any time.

Cultural Council Announces Grants

The Council met on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 to vote on grant applications submitted to the Petersham Cultural Council for 2018. A total of thirty-eight project proposals were submitted. Grant requests exceeded available funds. Following are the results witty

Mass Audubon/Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary: “Native Turtles Join Citizen Science and Learn How To Help Them” $400.00
Swift River Valley HS: “The Rabbit Railroad – Lifeblood of the Swift River Valley” $400.00
Petersham Friday Market $250.00
Circle of Song: “Brahms Requiem”  $150.00
Ron Rosenstock: “Great Photographs are Made Not Taken” $200.00
Orange Revitalization Partnership: “Starry Starry Night” $100.00
Quabbin Valley Pro Musica: “Winter Concert 2018”  $200.00
Petersham Library: “Ted Reinstein: The Quintessential N. E. Community Experience”.$300.00
Jordan O’Connor: “Petersham JAMS” $400.00
Annette Ermini: “Yes, You Can Make a Difference” 200.00
Petersham Grange: “Bees Are Us:  $300.00
Michelle Putnam: “Petersham Center School Garden” $250.00
Ken Levine: “Historic Graveyard Stroll” $ 50.00
Athol Historical Society: “Uniquely Quabbin Magazine/Consortium” $250.00
Mary Carfagna at the Petersham Center School: “Meet the Strings” $475.00
PHS: “Preserving & Presenting  Historical Art Collection $250.00
Petersham Art Center:  Portraits of Petersham Elders” $300.00
Petersham Council on Aging:  Portraits of Petersham Elders – 2 $300.00
Lisa McLoughlin at  UU Church: “Let the Landscape Speak” $200.00
Band of Voices: “Summer Solstice Concert”  $200.00
Wendie LeBlanc, Petersham Center School: “Field Trip” $750.00

Nichewaug Asbestos Removal Work

Selectman Henry Woolsey said Dec. 19 that Associated Building Wreckers of  Springfield has finishedmallet rubbish removing floor and ceiling tiles in the Nichewaug for     a bit less than the  $584,000 approved for the work by voters. A second group of possible redevelopers toured the buildings on Dec. 11.The town has set a Jan.  19 deadline for redevelopment proposals.

The board renewed liquor licenses for Petersham Package Store, the Country Store and pouring licenses for Clamber Hill,  the Curling Club and the Gun Club.                                      

The annual rabies clinic will be held  at  the Highway barn on   South Street on Jan. 13. Cats in cages from 11 a.m.to 11:30, dogs on leashes from  11:30 to 1 p.m. 

The Internet Runs on Paperwork

Residents hoping for high speed internet in Petersham will have to wait. Chris Lynch, a spokesman for Matrix Design, which will build a proposed town-wide network, said the first homes in the center of town could be up and running by June, with out-lying homes waiting longer.

He told the town's Broadband group Nov. 29 that permission to begin stringing fiber-optic cable on utility poles now depends on filling out forms and sending them to Verizon and National Grid.

The companies have 45 days to decide whether to accept the applications.

More than 350 residents have put up $250 each as a down payment on getting connected and pledged another $350 toward a connection fee. Lynch said

Overdose Deaths: Who Is Counting?

The state Department of Public Health reported Nov. 13 that deaths from opiate overdoses have declined 10 percent this year. The numbers are often cited as
the state announces one initiative after another to deal with the problem .

But a chronic staff shortage and the rising number of deaths from opiates continues to slow the speed at which the state Medical Examiner determines the cause of deaths in Massachusetts. That means the statistics rely on other sources of information. about fatalities to estimate the impact of opiates. It can also delay reporting cause of death for up to a year and prevent families from finalizing their affairs.

In its newest report to the legislature, the office reports that the medical examiner's office may lose its voluntary national accreditation in January 2018 because it is not meeting standards for completing autopsies within prescribed periods.

Felix Browne, a spokesman for the office said, "National Association of Medical Examiners accreditation is a voluntary step ME offices can take to show they are meeting general performance metrics. the state is "... nearing the end of its three-year provisional accreditation, which it does not expect to be renewed owing to the increased number of accepted cases and the great difficulty hiring additional medical examiners."

Across the state, city and town clerks report that death certificates are often filed with the cause of death listed as "pending" until the medical examiner finishes work
and updates the records. Hundreds of families cannot close out the affairs of the deceased until a final death certificate is presented. For one thing, insurance companies demand a determination of the cause of death before they will pay off on life insurance policies.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner investigates the cause and manner of death in unexpected, violent or suspicious deaths. The report says in part, "The
consistently high volume of cases per medical examiner has a cumulative effect creating delays in finalizing death certificates and autopsy reports on cases that required additional studies, medical records, or investigative reports. These delays have adversely impacted families who need a final death certificate and autopsy
report to settle life
insurance claims or probate matters or to simply explain why their family member or loved one died."

Browne said, "The ME’s office conducts just under 6,000 death investigations per year and works to close out death certificates and autopsy reports as expeditiously as possible. In late 2015 the office reorganized certain functions to make sure ME’s were not spending valuable time on back office duties but rather on examining bodies. Additional support staff was hired to carry out the non-medical-related tasks and this approach yielded some results, although an increase in cases has caused the performance metrics to dip."

Chronic delays in processing autopsies have existed since 2007, when the system was "strained to the breaking point" according to Dr. Henry Nields, who recently
stepped down as chief medical examiner. A special management review was convened and suggested a $11.5 million budget could help ease the backlog.

Prior to the implementation of that plan, 56% of the death certificates and 25% of the autopsy reports were completed in 90 days. The rest took longer.

The impact is being felt all across the state. A random telephone survey of city clerks shows that, at the end of October 2017, the Gardner city clerk's office had 11 unfinished death certificates. Fitchburg had 24 on file; Marlboro 14; Pittsfield 14. Greenfield had 4, Fall River 33, Waltham 13, Medford 15, Somerville 15, Cambridge 16 and Milton had 6. New Bedford led the list of cities contacted with 37 "pending" death certificates in its records.

The high volume of cases creates delays in finalizing death certificates on cases that required additional studies, medical records, or
investigative reports. These delays have adversely impacted families who need a final death certificate and autopsy report to settle life insurance claims or probate
matters or to simply explain why their family member or loved one died.

One local family signed over a life insurance policy to a funeral home to settle its bill. That funeral director is waiting for a final death certificate before it can collect on the $10,000 obligation. He may wait up to a year for the final death certificate that will clear the way. Another local family found it could not deposit their son's last paycheck without a final death certificate. Matters in the probate court like real estate ownership changes also require final death certificates before they can be made final.

What the recent report does not do is to lay out any plan to address the backlog so that families can get the information they need to close out the affairs of family

Dr. Mindy Hull, a 10-year veteran of the ME's office was recently named to the top job. "As one of the primary challenges the office faces due to the lack of medical examiners available to hire, finding ways to mitigate and reduce the case backlog is indeed something Dr. Hull is focusing on. Having just begun as CME
there are no new initiatives to announce at this time. I will be sure to inform you of any changes," Browne said.

The ME’s office conducts just under 6,000 death investigations per year and works to close out death certificates and autopsy reports as expeditiously as possible. In late 2015 the office reorganized certain functions to make sure ME’s were not spending valuable time on back office duties but rather on examining bodies.

Additional support staff was hired to carry out the non-medical-related tasks and this approach yielded some results, although an increase in cases has caused the
performance metrics to dip."

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