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The Opinion Page

Scam Alert May 4, 2021

If you receive a robo call that your electric service will be shut off in the next 30 to 45 minutes due to non-payment, ignore it and just hang up. Do not press 1 to speak to the otherwise unidentified "billing department." National Grid has stopped shutting customers' service off during the Covid pandemic. The call is an alarming but obvious scam.

Police Chief Dana Cooley said law enforcement at many levels are aware of scammers but have  few tools to track such calls back to their source or otherwise act to block such callers. The calls often come from other countries, he said.


Legare Announces Write-in for Selectboard

My name is Becky Legare and I am writing to formally announce my intentions to run as a write-in candidate during the Annual Town Election on May 17, 2021 for the (vacant) 2-year Petersham Selectboard position.

I have been a resident since 2000, when I married my husband, Shawn Legare, and made Petersham my home. Both my husband and I have served as long-time members of the Petersham Fire Department. Together, Shawn and I have raised two great children, Nathan and Ally. Both of our children attended the Petersham Montessori pre-school and graduated from the Petersham Center School. I am a graduate of Smith College. I work for a medical diagnostics company as a Senior Director responsible for Quality, Regulatory, and Medical activities supporting our COVID-19 programs worldwide.

I would like to play a role in maintaining Petersham’s small town charm while being fiscally responsible. If you would like to vote for me, please write my name, Becky Legare, into the (vacant) 2-year Petersham Select Board position during our town election on May 17th.


Unitarian Church Plant Sale on the Common

Plant Sale - May 15th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Common (rainout day May 22nd)
💠Come shop for local seedlings, favorite perennials from Petersham gardens, compost, and that special plant for that perfect spot.

Updated Call for Wood Bank Volunteers on May 15

Hello to all Petersham Wood Bank volunteers:

We hope you are well. Spring is here and so is the first of our planned volunteer work days for the Petersham Wood Bank.  Sean and Bill will be cutting and splitting soon – ready for us all to help stack into our.

Please consider helping out on Saturday, May 15, 2021 starting at 8:30 am and ending at 12:00 noon. (Rain date is Sunday, May 2nd also starting at 8:30 am and ending at 12:00 noon.) Please feel free to come by for even a portion of the morning. Covid protocols will be in place (masked up, socially distanced, etc.). Thank you again for all your help in the past. Hope to see you on May Day!

Melissa LeVangie, Clarisse Hart, Sean Mahoney & Jordan O’Connor (joconnor@JOAarchitects.com)

Five Plots Available in the Community Garden

With spring on the way, there are now five large fertile garden plots waiting for  Petersham residents in the Petersham Community Garden.

Get more information by sending an e-mail to info@petershamcommon.com or by calling Roy at 978-724-6662.

This is the garden's sixth year. Participation is free on a first come, first served basis. The soil is rich loam and the garden will be tilled in time for planting. The garden spaces are located behind the Memorial Library.


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.

Dowd Joins Advisory Finance Committee

Town moderator Bart Wendell had named Jim Dowd of Glasheen Road to the Advisory Finance Committee to fill one of two vacancies on the five-person board.

Rich Cavanaugh of East Street currently chairs the board. Sandy Page and Mark Bishop are members. The committee has been meeting with the Selectboard to discussed proposed town department budgets for the past several weeks.

The Finance Committee reviews  budgets from the executive branch, analyzes them, holds hearings where the department heads and the public can testify and, subsequently, presents a balanced budget to Town Meeting.

Finance Committee must examine direct costs and investigate financial implications of policy decisions. The budget presented  to Town Meeting is the Finance Committee’s consensus recommendation.  The  proposed budget may be amended by town meeting, provided that amendments maintain a balanced budget.

The Finance Committee should promote a budget process that results in a clear and meaningful budget document with analyses, explanations, and justifications for its recommendations that can give voters a clear picture of town government: what it is, where it is, and where it is heading.


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.


Five UMass Student Projects Get Mick Hupert Awards

Five projects organized by UMass School of Medicine and Graduate School of Nursing students have received Mick Huppert Community Health Scholar Awards for 2021. Named in honor of the late UMMS faculty member Mick Huppert, MPH, the award is given to students interested in family medicine who embrace community health practice and are committed to patient advocacy. 

They are: Worcester Safe Baby Project; Assessment of social determinants of health and linkage to care within the Department of Emergency Medicine; A retrospective program evaluation of latent tuberculosis infection screening and treatment; Implementation of Outer Cape Health Services’ Sano Health smart phone pilot project and Operation conversation: bridging the gap between the veteran community and future health care providers.

The winning projects are funded through the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and the GSN. Funded projects are selected based on the quality of the proposals, which highlight the depth of the community partnerships. Students work in teams or independently with the aid of faculty mentors.

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.

wd Joins Finance Committee

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 disease 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."





tree top

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

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.

Selectboard Wrangles Upcoming Budget Proposals

Disclosing few details, the Selectboard and Finance Committee continued discussing the proposed 2022 town spending plans March 30. The documents presently include a proposed 15 percent increase in Center School spending and a 12 percent jump for the town's Mahar assessment. Chair Nancy Allen said she will meet with Mahar and Center School officials on Thursday and invited a member of the Finance Committee to attend.

In recent weeks, Allen has repeatedly declined to disclose specifics of planned town spending saying the numbers are not yet final. Most small departments have been asked to submit level-funded budgets and have complied. She said the Town of Orange Mahar assessment is slated to jump six percent and Wendell could see a 17 percent hike.

The boards also discussed a proposed $22,000 police budget item meant to comply with new state-imposed police reform and training requirements,

Chief Dana Cooley said his two-man department relies on seven part-time officers to fill its roster. That number has dropped from 13 to seven in recent months. Cooley said after the part-timers go through newly-mandated training, they will be fully qualified for full-time police jobs in other communities. "It is harder to get part-timers," he said.

Cooley's first budget projection included adding a third full-time patrolman to the department but that plan is apparently on hold for now

Allen and  Selectman Henry Woolsey also voted hourly wage increases for an unspecified number of town hall employees including the tax collector, town clerk and office assistants. Cost of living (COLA) raises for all town  employees are also planned.

State Reimbursement for Broadband Has Arrived

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute has made good on a promised $880,000 reimbursement of part of Petersham's broadband system. The funds were transferred to the town treasurer just in time to pay off a town borrowing according to Chip Bull, a member of the local broadband committee.

The town certified that its broadband system is complete and operating in mid-March.

Bull said some 396 households are now connected to broadband (more than 90 percent of town) and more will be added as spring arrives.

Annual Town Meeting Set for June 21

..The Selectboard continues meeting with town departments to set a budget for the next fiscal year and will put the budget and other matters before a town meeting now scheduled for June 21.

Chair Nancy Allen has not disclosed the total spending being planned but said at a recent meeting that the budget has climbed to $4 million mark with  schools hoping to claim about a third of the total. Other towns in the Quabbin district will be pushing for restrained school spending to aidthier financial woes, she said.

The board will meet jointly with the  Finance Committee at 6 p.m. March 30 in the upper town hall in person and by internet on Gotomeeting --
Budgets for the police department, broadband committee and tax collector are on the agenda.  Many of the town's small departments have turned in level-funded budget requests.

A town-wide information meeting is scheduled for May 25. The warrant for the town meeting will open March 28 and will be closed on May 20.

Candidates in the Coming Town Election

Jamie Hatch of Hardwick Road is seeking a seat on the Board of Assessors. Becky Legare of North Main is running as a write-in to fill Rik Marsh's vacant Selectboard seat. She was travelling on business and was not in town to file nomination papers by the deadline.

Several seats in town committees and offices have opened up in this year's May 17 town election.

Dana Kennan, a member of the Board of Assessors, announced he will retire after 20 years at the end of this term.

Henry Woolsey, vice chair of the Selectboard, is standing for re-election. The two-year seat  left vacant with the death of Selectboard clerk Rik Marsh is open to any candidate.

Tax collector Renee Wingertsman is standing for re-election to a three-year term.

Appointed Health Board member Rebecca Jackson will be on the ballot for re -election

There will be an open seat on the Center School committee as Jennifer Dejackome is not seeking re-election.

Town Clerk Diana Cooley will be on the ballot.

Two Planning Board 3 year seats currently held by Stephen Herzog and Irene Perkins will be on the ballot for re-election and Fifi Scoufopoulos is seeking to return as a trustee of the public library

The last day to register to vote is April 27, 2021.

Upcoming Budget Consumes Selectboard Attention

The Finance Committee and Selectboard took up departmental budgets on March 9. The two boards will continue budget work and will study school spending at its next meeting. Top of the list was police department staffing and the cost of complying with new state-mandated police training rules. New Police Reform legislation requires that part-time officers complete 200 training hours for certification and that training could cost the town $30,000 in wages, Chief Dana Cooley said. The town hopes for an   unfunded state mandate reimbursement,

Cooley said the department has two full-time officers and relies on up to 13 part-timers but that number has fallen to just seven in recent years. Cooley  is proposing to add a third full-time officer this year at a salary of more than  $40,000 and  include a pay raise to make part-time positions more attractive. Cooley said he has surveyed 10 area towns to compare pay information. The department currently has an annual budget of $244,700. Selectboard chair Nancy Allen declined to release a proposed budget total for fiscal 2022 until the amount is considered final.market

Allen said with several towns in the Mahar Regional school district experiencing fiscal stress, an increased proposed regional school budget may not receive a warm welcome from district member towns. Again withholding totals for the new budget, Allen said projected school budget increases are "not small."

Budgets for several small departments will be level funded. A snow and ice deficit of $36,000 is not out of line, she said. "We've had worse."

Allen and Selectman Henry Woolsey voted to give Allen the vacant seat on the town Capital Improvement Planning Committee - a post formerly held by  the late selectman Rik Marsh.

Nomination papers for election to town offices in 2021 are now available from the town clerk.

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.
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.

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