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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.
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.
Just for the Fun of It... click here
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At the Dump
Transfer Station (DUMP) Fees
Calendar of Town Committee Meetings
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.
8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sen. Anne Gobi
Rep. Susannah Whipps
Official Town Website -
Committee meeting notices and minutes are posted at www.mytowngovernment.org
If only the river were this blue...
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.
The payment comes from a state fund set up to benefit un-served and under-served mostly rural communities. Bull said the state fund was repurposed when cable companies proved uninterested in expanding their systems into low-density rural communities.
"The state found when they were going to give all that money to the cable companies that many of the un-served got no offers from cable companies. They didn't perk up at all," Bull said. Bull has championed local broadband expansion for a dozen years.
Bull said the state declared there were 53 un-served or under-served communities that needed high speed internet. "We are unique. We have brought broadband to Petersham for less out of pocket than most towns." Bull said. He said Leverett, an early adopter, spent about $3.75 million without state support and now pays to maintain its town-owned system. Matrix owns Petersham's system and is responsible for storm damage and other maintenance, Bull said.
The town put in roughly $600 000, the state has now put in $880,000 and about $1.75 million came from Matrix, Bull said. "I have found given the number of times we have lost power in the last 6 months that they foot the bill when there is a tree down across the wires..." or other maintenance, he said. "When you own the network those costs come to the owner." (Matrix)
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 --
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.
Seats Open in the Coming 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
Nomination papers for the Annual Town Election are now available to anyone seeking an open or contested seat. The papers may be obtained at the Town Clerk’s Office until Monday, March 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. or from the Selectmen’s Office. They must be returned by Monday, March 29, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
The last day to register to vote is April 27, 2021.
The Town Clerk’s Office is open on Mondays from 5:30 PM – 7 PM. Due to the present circumstances, the Town Hall is not open to the public. Please contact the Town Clerk at 978-724-6649 to arrange to get nomination papers – you can leave a message on the machine or email Diana at email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
only issued between 7:30 AM and