Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Monday, December 31, 2007

A Great Comment

I received a comment today under the recent posting "..And the Envelope, Please..." It was from the towns tree warden ,Tom Chamberland. The comment was full of his observations of the town over the years. It was very insightful. Well, as I was writing to respond to him I found myself blathering on forever, so I thought instead of doing it in the comment section, I'd blather here.

I've included Tom's comment below.

Yes I think you have struck a nerve as I think its interesting how things sometimes come back around, and just MAYBE you have started something back around. In the past before the word "eco tourism" was coined OSV partnered with the Host (was it the Sheraton back then?) for cross country ski trails on what is now the Town’s OSV property. Then we had the Heritage Festival that lasted for 10 years, following a very successful 250th anniversary celebration,(history) and more recently the short lived First Night (special event). All have come and gone for two simple reasons: Lack of volunteers’ time, and financial support challenges (time and $).
I know that running a successful program over the long haul is difficult and challenging. People loose interest, financial interests move on, and without a broad based community support (and that must include several commercial sponsors) any activity no matter how well intentioned, will eventually fail.
Unfortunately for Sturbridge, I believe the majority of residents could care less about promoting the town in the ways you have suggested. Maybe I can be proven wrong, but from what I've seen happen in Sturbridge over the years, and even happening today, like the Firefighters no longer sponsoring Ham and Bean Dinners, or the Sturbridge Democratic party no longer hosting a family style roast beef dinner (its now wine and cheese, I believe?) to even just 10 residents showing up for two different volunteer days to work on trails. Just maybe this forum will bring some new involvement in current initiatives, like our volunteer trail days, or new members and support for Opacum, and even I might find some time to help...

---Tom Chamberland


Good to hear from you. I enjoy your writings about our local trees and plant life in the local media.

I see your point, we had many things in town at one time, but over the years, volunteers,money, and interest waned. Happens most everywhere with Spaghetti Dinners and the like. I don't think you meant to write, "any activity no matter how well intentioned, will eventually fail.", but I know what you were saying. You see, those things weren't permanent, so their days were numbered from the beginning.

Those were things that ran their course, or did not change as the population changed and times changed. The 250th Anniversary is a different animal. That was well planned, and celebrated as a one time event. Next one is the 300th, and no sense having meeting till then. But, some folks might just enjoy that.

Here's how I see things in a nutshell. You are right, things like you mentioned will run their course and fade away, or change. That's a given. But how do you make things that will last a very, very long time and have an amazing impact on us?


Permanency. We are looking at things backwards. Ham and Been Dinners, Cross Country Skiing Packages, festivals and Roast Beef dinners are wonderful things, but they are only as active as their planners are. The planners get old, move away, or grow tired without inspiring a new bunch of people. I'd like to see something more than just a "Night at the Grange" to start with. We need a solid foundation on which to build, and the dinners, and festivals, and packages will come back on their own.

We need to start by offering permanent attractions in town for the residents and tourists. The Grand Trunk Trail from Westville to Brimfield is a start. A permanent walking, and biking trail running along side the river, as I have described in previous posts would do wonders. We are off to a great start, now let's plan and finish the rest. Walkways running from Main Street to the river, and over footbridges to the trail would not only bring folks here to use the trails, but maybe take the footbridge over the river to town and do some shopping. Maybe get a lunch to-go, and picnic beside the river. Who knows, maybe a bike ride in the morning, and OSV in the afternoon?

Permanent, structural improvements like the trail, the footbridges, picnic areas, walkways, and lighting. A permanent, well designed canoe and kayak launching area on the river is also something that would do wonders. A little paddle in the morning, followed by some shopping, a meal, and maybe an overnight here in town.

Now we are becoming a "destination", and not just a calendar date.

As the numbers of people increases, the shops and restaurants will see an up tick in sales.

Now, is the time to inspire those dinners and Festivals again. The permanent things will always be there, good times and bad, they will be used, but once people know about what is here, then we can offer more. The foundation for success has been laid.

I do agree with you regarding another point you made. You wrote, , "I believe the majority of residents could care less about promoting the town". Unfortunately, it may be true, but not for
the reasons one would assume. I think it is due to mindset. See, Sturbridge has become a bedroom community of Worcester, Hartford and Boston. Most folks buy out here because the price is OK for them, we have some basic amenities, and access to the highways. I don't think that once they move into their 3/4 acre plot with the two car garage that they think about too much more than daycare and commuting. But, once they settle in, get a kid in school, meet other townspeople, they begin to actually see the town that they have chosen to live in, they see things differently. I truly believe this. It's just tapping into that new blood that is the hard part.

And, thank you, Tom, for your offer to help, even with your busy schedule. Your expertise, experience and knowledge of the town is a tremendous asset for our town. Promote things as you can, get the discussion rolling with those that can affect change, and lets make 2008 one year to remember here in Town.

"Marge, the Oil Man is Here"

Do you know where this accident occurred in Sturbridge, and when? When I obtained the photograph a few years ago, a long time Sturbridge resident told me he remembered the accident and knew just where it happened. But, do you think I can remember? The house is still standing today, and I have a good idea where it might be.

Click on photo for an enlarged view.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Rules of Engagement

Seems this space is getting some attention from the folks out there. Both the writings and the comments have generated a a lot of interest. Thank you for taking the time to read my "ramblings", to comment on what you have read.

Since we are making some headway towards my first goal of getting the word out that this space actually exists, I think it is time to list some "rules" for comments, feedback, and suggestions. I want this space to be a positive one. A productive one. And, at times, silly. And, that will happen more often than you would like.

So here are the rules:
  • You can leave as many comments as you would like.
  • You cannot "attack" another that has an opposing point of view.
  • What you can do is offer a counter view, and if you do it with some thought, hopefully blow the socks off the view you oppose.
  • Be civil, polite, and considerate. Otherwise I will tell your mother and have her smack you upside the head.
  • Don't offer comments such as, "Why don't they..", or "I hate it that they...", or even, "Those #%&* are totally useless...", unless you can offer a suggestion to replace the thing that is stuck in your shorts.
  • Be helpful. If you can, volunteer somewhere in town. Read stories to the kids at the library, deliver Meals on Wheels, or even, fetch me a beer. Wait. Cancel that last one. Too self serving. Better yet, be a "paper boy, or girl" regarding this Blog. Use the little envelope at the bottom of every post, and forward what you have read to others that may enjoy it, or get something from it.
  • If you have something negative to say, please keep it under control. Don't slam someone, as mentioned above, for a comment they have made, don't make comments based on hearsay.
  • If a comment is directed towards you, or something you have commented on, then respond in a intelligent, soft way, that maintains your position, and respects the opposing view.
  • Never write a comment in your underwear or wearing fuzzy pink slippers.
  • Don't post anonymous comments. Anonymous comments can not be posted. If you are proud enough of what you have to say, then use your name. If you are afraid of the selectman that lives next door, or your daughter is on a particular board, then use a nickname.
There you have them. My Rules for Engagement.

Now, not everything about this Blog will have a political slant. It is just that we happen to to be in a bit of a political quagmire of late, and we really can't develop the ideas that we have unless we use the political process. So, keep in mind that people can be buffoons in office, and out of office. Folks can also be genuine, kind and helpful as well in and out of office. Please don't use this space to attack others, there are other places on the Web just for that. Use them, they can be great therapy.

What I do encourage is commenting on actual events that are documented in the media. Remember, no hearsay.

And, one more thing, if you have any suggestions, or ideas that would like to share that do not pertain to any particular posting, then feel free to email me at

Now, I've got to get dressed, get out of these foolish slippers and get my own damn beer.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Envelope, Please...

The poll results are in for the question:

"Besides OSV, what thing(s) would you want to promote here in town to attract more tourists? You can choose more than one."

The towns history and character: 50%
Eco-tourism, Hiking, boating, fishing biking...: 75%
The Arts: 32%
The scenery: 18%
Festivals: 37%
Country Fair like Spencer or Woodstock: 18%
My idea is not here: 6%

There was a great response to the poll, and it was a solid majority of those that participated that voted for eco-tourism. The towns history came in second. So, my question to you now is, how do we go about promoting these ideas? Do we present them to the Board of Selectmen? Remember, if you present anything, you must always be ready to serve in some capacity if asked.

What specific eco-tourist kind of ideas would you like to see. Send your ideas to, and after a bit I'll post them here.

Promoting the towns history came in second. What ways would be the best to promote this? Would specific events that occurred in town be promoted? Specific landmarks? A children's book? Again, send your ideas to

Let's brainstorm a bit, and see what we come up with. Who knows, with the proper vision, presentation, and work, we could see something in the works by spring.

In the meantime, don't be shy, write to the Town Manager, and the Board of Selectmen, and tell them of your ideas.

Just a Common View

The Sturbridge Town Common
Circa 1875

Click on photograph for a larger view.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Let's All Read the Paper!

I just thought of a new segment for this Blog. It's called, "Let's All Read the Paper". Since I am not a reporter, or a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to write about the local goings on, I thought, "What would be a neat way to share the news, comment on it, and still remain a catalyst?". This is what I came up with: I am going to read the newspaper to you. Oh, I know you can read it yourself, and I'm not going to actually read it, but more or less paraphrase different stories, and make some witty observations of my own.

So, let's get started and Read the Paper!

Here in Sturbridge we are very fortunate to have a different newspaper for almost everyone in town. Since Last summer we have three new papers start up. Two are still with us, and one has converted to magazine-hood, and we still have the old standby, The Southbridge Press. Today, we are reading The Tantasqua Town Common. I like this little paper. It's small, it's free, and so far, I enjoy the writing.

In the December 27th issue the front page has a few good stories leading one to the inside. One story, "Preservation committee loses two members" is a timely piece. It seems that two members of the Community Preservation Committee have abruptly resigned. Carol Childress and Russel Chamberlain have both tendered their resignations.

This is very sad.

Both individuals are a tremendous asset to the Town, and now -poof- they are gone. Each had their own reasons. Childress cited personal reasons in her resignation, but later stated in a telephone interview that Sturbridge has done very well with preservation, and was way ahead of other towns. Like Kansas City in the old song, "..they've gone about as far as they can go". She hopes to work in Brookfield, and lend her talents to that town.

Russel Chamberlain, on the other hand, offers a totally different reason. He stated he is afraid of CPC member Edwin Goodwin Sr. Mr. Goodwin Sr., as you will recall, was the Slap Master at the Bozo Fest during the Selectmen's meeting a couple of weeks ago. (see previous posts).

The Town government of Sturbridge has got to wake up. There will be more resignations in the future. Meanwhile, we, the residents of the town sit by and watch all we have and hoped for in this town crumble.

The next front page story is entitled, "Baking company breaks bread, breaks free". The Sturbridge Baking Company is now gone. The owner for the last five years, Alina Eisenhauer, stated that the Town has made bad decisions for businesses, and that many have left for greener pastures because of the towns lack of willingness to let businesses grow. "The tourism has declined so much there's no foot traffic. And all of this is about decisions made by the Town on development.", she stated.

This is a truly sad situation. Here we have a successful business woman closing shop, selling it, and moving out of town because of how the Town treats businesses.

Well, there you have it, two separate stories from the front page of the Tantasqua Town Common. Two separate, but very similar stories, and they both point at the government of our Town of Stubridge.

So, what now. what do we do as residents, as citizens of this Town? Well, we can't revolt, some of us, including myself, are revolting enough. But, we can raise a ruckus. (always liked that word-ruckus, just never knew when to use it till now).

Remember, I'm just the catalyst here, but I think it's high time the residents of this town let the members of the Board of Selectmen, and the Town Administrator know exactly how we feel about the behavior of the towns board members, the lack of consideration given to consulting firms hired by the town, the negative direction the Town is taking regarding businesses, and while they're at it, tell them about your bunions, too.

Might as well unload it all.

Pass on this Blog to friends, and relatives in town, and have them add their comments, write the editors of our papers, encourage the papers to follow up on the stories that I mentioned today. Make some noise out there, otherwise in a few years time, this beautiful town of ours is going to be a wasteland. We can blame the boards, committees, and certain individuals now, but in a short time, we will have only ourselves to blame.

Oh, and one more thing. The next time an episode occurs in our Town Hall like the one that happened at the Selectmen's meeting a couple of weeks ago somebody had better give a jingle to the Boston TV stations. In fact, I think it would be great if Channel 5's "Chronicle" did an episode on our town. In the meantime, be sure to bring your video camera to the meetings.

It's time to stir the pot a bit.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Preliminary Poll Results

The Poll running on the left margin has 2 days left. So far the results are as follows: (based on more than one vote cast per session)

60% are for Town history.
80% are for Eco-tourism.
30% are for the Arts.
30% are for the scenery.
50% are for Festivals.
and 10% said that their idea wasn't listed.

Stay tuned...and tell your friends to vote. It would great to get a good consensus of the town in the voting.

Every Little Bit Helps

We have a house guest.
About two weeks ago I received a call at work from home. It was from my slightly shaky voiced fiance.


"Hello. We have an animal in the basement."

"A what?"

"An animal in the basement. It could be a snake, but I saw an arm..."

"So, he's not a snake."

"I know that, " she said a little louder, shakier, and very firmly.

"Where is he?", I asked carefully so as not to upset the victim anymore.

"In the basement, over by the treadmill, poking his head and arm out of a crack."

We have an old house, and field stone basement walls. Most of the walls have been covered with concrete in between the old stones, and I have started to add more hydraulic cement to plug some of the leaks. I knew exactly where the "crack" was. It is on the floor where it meets the wall near the treadmill. It's about an inch and a half wide, and maybe an inch long. Salamander size exactly. But, five feet underground? I needed more information.

"OK, " I said, "Is he still there?". I knew as soon as the words fell out of my mouth that they were not well chosen.

"How the heck do I know?! I'm in the attic, and he's in the basement somewhere!!"

"Can you check to see, and tell me exactly what he looks like?"

Why do I do this to myself? No sooner do I mutter one stupid question, I do it again, and not a second had passed from the first question to the second. This is the point where the caring companion splits in two. One half is still the caring companion, but with guys, the other half becomes the 8 year old boy that desperately wants to know what the creature is, and more importantly, will it fit in my pocket?

"You're kidding, right?" she asked.

"Yes. Yeah, I'm kidding. Don't worry. When I get home I'll take a look, and see what I can see." I must have said the right words. She was less shaky, and I felt a sense of security in her voice.

"OK. If you catch him..."

Whoa. "If I catch him"? I'm not planning on catching him I wanted to tell her. I mean, short of using a wet dry vac, there is no way of capturing that serpent from inside that crack. Beside, it's winter. If I catch him, then what? I don't think "catch and release" applies to salamanders in the winter. Build a terrarium? Plug up the hole?

"...if you catch him", she continued, "let him go somewhere, and I don't want to see it."

"OK. No problem. Goodnight"

Well, this will work out well, I thought. I will check out the beast in the morning, and if I don't see it, it will be good. Then I won't have to think of what to do with him.

I went to the basement when I got home and searched all over for any signs of the one-armed snake head thing. Nothing. I admitted to my poor hunting later that day. There was a pause in the conversation as if the next word out of my mouth should be, well there's always tomorrow.

More long pause.

"Well, there's always tomorrow.", I finally said.

Days went by. Nothing. Oh, I looked. I snuck downstairs. I looked in the dark. I used the flashlight. I changed my voice. I tried a lot of different things short of using salamander mating pheromones to find him. Nothing.

"I saw him again.", she taunted me every few days. Still, I had not seen it. I was beginning to suspect that this animal was all in her head. I half suspected she would next tell me that she not only saw him, but he was wearing a pair of Capri's and the prettiest little top, and they had a tea party in the basement together.

On Christmas evening, my loving little friend took some of her family on a tour of the house. They went into the basement.

"Well, we saw it."her niece said when they came back upstairs.

Now there were witnesses.

Funny thing is, that during the past couple of weeks since this animal was first discovered, my fiance has become more comfortable with seeing it. It is always in the same place, and it just looks at her as she uses the treadmill. Last night, she named it. Don't ask. And, tonight, she told me she actually saw more of it, it's black with yellow spots on its back, and they had reached an understanding. He will hang out of his hole no more than an inch or so, and she would use the treadmill. After she is done, he can do what he wants down there.

An agreement. My fiance and the salamander reached an understanding.


OK, here's where we stand now. We have a creature sharing the house with us. No problem. My little friend has become more and more comfortable with him. This is good for a city girl. And, we have tentatively identified him as a Spotted Salamander. Great. So far so good.

Or is it?

As I was reading up on Spotted Salamanders I read that although they are not endangered, they are threatened.

Threatened by Goodyear.

See, once a year, in late winter when the ground is no longer frozen and the temperature hits 45 F these salamanders all get a little lust in their hearts and head out, en masse, to mate. Trouble is they seem to always like to mate on the other side of the road and many are killed on their way. Soooo, the good animal loving folks in the area will arrange to all go out on that particular night, (I wonder if they set up a phone tree, or if they have people hiding in the bushes to sound the alert?) and block roads, hand carry, and guide the little amphibians across the road. Some towns actually build tunnels under the road for the turtles, frogs, and salamanders like in Amherst.

Now, I'm worried. Word will get out about the guy living in my basement, and some March evening my street will inundated with the good volunteers from the Opacum Land Trust. I can see it now. My basement will be designated a vernal pool. The road will be blocked off, some guy in an orange flourescent vest will be directing traffic with red tipped flashlights as if he were parking a 747 as a half dozen Opacumites coach the salamander across Route 148.

That journey could take till morning. And, you know where I'll be??

Not sleeping, that's for sure, but probably serving coffee.

At least I'll be doing my part for the environment.

For more information about salamanders and vernal pools go to:

Opacum Land Trust

Photo Credit: Spotted salamander by Leo Kenney,

"Hey! I can see My House From Here!"

Can you tell what this view is of? Do you know where it was taken from? Can you identify any of the buildings in the photo? If you feel lucky, post your answers in the comments section under this post.

One more thing, look very closely at the middle of the photo. Click on it to enlarge it.

Click on the photo for a larger, more detailed view.

A New Year, New Ideas, A New Plan

Happy New Year, Sturbridge!

As usual I've been thinking. I've been thinking about New Years Resolutions. Oh, not the personal kind, but more of a civic kind. What if during the upcoming year all the boards, departments and committees in town worked together? What if they used their respective knowledge and expertise to enhance one another?

Whoa. Cool, or what?

Think about it. What if the Conservation Commissions worked with the DPW to carve out a few decent trail heads at those new trails? Or, what if when one board presents its finding, their expert findings, regarding some matter, then the other boards respect their input, and accept it?

You get what I'm saying.

This would be awesome.

This is where respect, and civility comes into town government. No name calling, no slapping, just positive work for the town without the negative news stories. Oh, opposing points of view are necessary, and a good thing. Remember compromise? Anyway, if this could happen then we could do so much more, so much faster than before.

And, we need to. See, the Town of Sturbridge is at a critical crossroads. I know this has been said before, and probably by me, but everyone involved in the towns government to be on the same page, and work together otherwise this town is going to take an enormous hit and fail.

I know, it sounds like I'm promoting we all sit around the campfire, hold hands and sing Kumbyya. Well, in a way, I am. We have a very unique opportunity here in Sturbridge. We are at the very doorstep to New England. We have two major interstates bringing enormous traffic through town every day, not to mention the state highways. We are in a most enviable position for a small town. Now, we need to exploit it.

Face it, our industrial base is practically nil. Our shops are closing. Old Sturbridge Village, although doing so much better than just a couple of years ago, and an incredible place to see, just can't be our only source of tourism.We have the highway infrastructure in place. We have a boat load of hotel / motel rooms, and B&B's in the area, and we have all those folks driving through town on the highways. The only thing we need is something, or things , to draw them in. A Town government working together can make this happen.

Think about it. What would 50 to 100 extra cars, with a couple of people in them, do for the economy in the town? How about a few hundred, or more? How would that affect OSV, our restaurants and shops? We need to promote the living heck out this town, and what we have here. Spend some money, rent a billboard on the pike. Promote, promote, promote. Promote the Harvest Festival, Maple Days, OSV, The Opacum Lands, hiking, boating, ice fishing, our lakes, snow shoeing, anything special in this town, promote it. OSV put up some nice billboards on the pike, unfortunately they only had a web address on them, not which exit to take off the pike. (And here's a little friendly advice to OSV, next time you put up a billboard loose the web address, and instead say, "Exit 9 Sturbridge, Massachusetts", and maybe a car will drive there instead of going home to look you up on the web. Now, go an fire your marketing people).

And, whatever happened to that big information center that was going to be built on I-84 a few years ago?? Where'd that go? Imagine if there was one of those fine rest areas on 84, just inside the Sturbridge line, like you see in other states? One with a large information kiosk, restrooms, and lots of parking? What a place for tourists to plan the next out of the car exploration before they got to the rest area in Charlton, and passed us by.

Nab 'em as soon as they cross the border!!!

Ok, that's it. Resolve to work well together for a common goal, like promoting the town, increasing the tourists, and increasing the revenue. If we do this right, we'll be in the best financial shape we have ever been in.

Now think about what would be the one thing that would attract a bunch of people off those interstates? I'm not talking a casino, but what else could we do?There is a poll on the left side of the page. Post your vote, and forward this post on to others you know.

Who knows? In six months things could begin to get really interesting around here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

You Have GOT to be Kidding Me

I found the article, posted below, in my email this morning. I read it, and then sighed, "You have got to be kidding me."

Apparently, they're not.

Seems that a cartoon placed on a local blog to depict how someone felt a matter was being handled by another party. The matter had gone to court this past week and the court found no probable cause, and it was dismissed. The cartoon was then passed onto
Clerk Magistrate, and then he passed it onto the Chief Justice in Boston.

Now, here's my question. How was this cartoon passed onto the court, and by whom? And, more importantly, why?

The context of the cartoon was obvious considering the circumstances behind the entire mess. It was one persons way of showing how he felt the matter was being handled by another. It was not a threat, although it depicted violence according to the article, it was directed to the Blogs author (himself), not anyone else. It was how he felt he was treated, in a "black humor" sort of way.

No threat. Free speech. Nothing more. Appropriate? Well, I am not one to pass judgement, I would have dropped this whole thing days ago, but for some it is necessary to fire one last salvo. Sorry. Violent context. Let me rephrase that, have the last word.

The real story is why was this cartoon passed onto to the court, and by whom? What was their motive?

I don't know. I'm just thinking. I read the article, and those questions were the first to come to mind. A poor job of reporting on behalf of the Telegram? I doubt it. I am sure they asked how the cartoon go to the court, but that was not reported. Probably, because the question was not answered.

It's time to drop the matter, and I am saying this to both parties. Move on. Go to your separate corners, and play by yourself, other wise this will go on forever.

December 25. 2007 12:00AM

Court boss is asked to review violent cartoon on blog

Despite verdict, town official insists he has no grudge against clerk magistrate


STURBRIDGE— A violent cartoon on a local blog has caught the attention of the Dudley District Court clerk magistrate and has been forwarded to the chief justice’s office for review.

The rudimentary cartoon, depicting a bruised and bloody victim and stick figures engaging in three acts of violence in a courtroom, popped up over the weekend on, a blog run by Planning Board Chairman Thomas R. Creamer.

Mr. Creamer said the cartoon was put on his Web site on Friday and was removed a day or two later when he was updating his blog. He said he found the cartoon on the Internet at

Clerk Magistrate Kenneth F. Candito of the Dudley District Court said yesterday the cartoon was brought to his attention and he has brought it to the attention of the office of District Court Chief Justice Lynda M. Connolly in Boston.

On Friday, the clerk magistrate found no probable cause in a case involving a criminal complaint and counter-complaint of assault and battery between two public officers — Mr. Creamer and Community Preservation Committee member Edward T. Goodwin — during a Sturbridge selectmen’s meeting earlier in the month.

The cartoon, one of 56 on the jom-cartoon Web site, depicts a battered victim with two black eyes and blood streaming from
his right eye, right nostril and mouth.

Above the victim is the caption “Violence is essential in any courtroom” with the word “essential” underlined.

In addition, there are three stick-figure drawings in which a faceless perpetrator is committing violence against a victim holding a gavel and presiding over court.

The perpetrator forcibly pulls the victim over the bench, rips him in half and beats him to a bloody pulp.

Mr. Creamer said he doesn’t know anything about the Web site and has no connection with its owner.

He said he didn’t receive any complaints over the cartoon and took it off his Web site because he updated the content on the page and was now focusing on a different topic.

In addition, Mr. Creamer said the guy who is depicted as being bruised and bloody in the cartoon is supposed to be him or the witnesses and not Clerk Magistrate Candito and not Mr. Goodwin.

That whole thing was supposed to represent me, and despite the fact that there was overwhelming evidence against the other guy, he (Mr. Goodwin) still stuck to his story that I grabbed him,” Mr. Creamer said.

Mr. Creamer said that at no time did he have any issue with the clerk magistrate and his ruling. In fact, he welcomed it.

On Friday, before placing the cartoon on his blog, Mr. Creamer said the clerk magistrate’s ruling was a victory for the people of Sturbridge because they won’t have to be reminded of this “incredibly unfortunate and embarrassing situation” repeatedly on a regular basis.

Yesterday, Mr. Creamer reiterated that senti

“I’m please with the clerk magistrate’s ruling. His ruling was about healing. I don’t have an issue with that,” Mr. Creamer said.

“My issue is the fact, even up until the very end, Mr. Goodwin demonstrated absolutely no regret, no remorse whatsoever and still, still, despite the fact that 12 witnesses could not collaborate anything he said, continues to come up with reasons as to why nobody could see what he did.”

Mr. Creamer said the cartoon is merely a symbolic statement and not a thinly veiled threat against anyone.

“The cartoon was posted to depict Ed Goodwin committing mayhem against any or all who would testify against him or challenge him,” Mr. Creamer said.

“That cartoon depicts him shredding and tearing to pieces the witness statements that were made against him.”

Mr. Creamer said if he had an issue with the clerk magistrate’s ruling, he would have posted it on his Web site.

The altercation between Mr. Creamer and Mr. Goodwin took place three hours and 16 minutes into the selectmen’s meeting on Dec. 3.

Mr. Creamer said he went over and sat behind Mr. Goodwin and said to him, “Ed, anytime you want to talk about this, I’m more than happy to do that,” and then Mr. Goodwin slapped him twice, knocking off Mr. Creamer’s hat and dislodging his glasses.

But Mr. Goodwin’s lawyer, Kirstie L. Pecci, who is also his daughter, said Mr. Creamer grabbed her father’s arm and her father turned and raised his hand to protect his face. She said her father never touched Mr. Creamer, except that maybe her father’s face or hand may have brushed Mr. Creamer’s hat.

“My father is just going to move forward in a positive fashion from here,” Ms. Pecci said Friday after the clerk magistrate found no probable cause.

The argument that led up to the alleged assault is captured on the videotape of the meeting that was televised live on community access cable TV. Although the action took place off camera, one can clearly hear the heated dialogue between the two members on the recording.

It includes Mr. Goodwin calling Mr. Creamer “Bozo” twice and a “dysfunctional fireman” and Mr. Creamer saying in response, “You want to go outside and continue this discussion?”

The term “dysfunctional fireman,” which was directed toward Mr. Creamer by Mr. Goodwin, sparked off a protest organized by the Local 1009 Worcester Fire Fighters Union at the selectmen’s meeting on Dec. 17.

For 17 years, Mr. Creamer was special operations coordinator for the Worcester Fire Department, retiring four years ago.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Catalyst, yeah, That's What I Am, a Catalyst

Recently, I received a particular comment after the posting I wrote about the sparing of the oak tree here in town by the board of Selectmen. The comment was favorable, and I truly appreciate that, but it went to suggest I research more into other issues brought before the Board of Selectmen. Seems that some issued are handled differently depending upon who brings up the issue. A "government of the few" was one phrase the commenter used.

Well, I agree with that. Every town, city and village is that way to some extent. It's called cronyism. A small minority with connections seem to make a lot more headway than others. But, let me explain just what my purpose is here.

I'm a catalyst. As it states in the header to this Blog, I am "Thinking Out Loud". My thoughts, and ramblings are posted here for two reasons: 1) to get them out of me head, and 2) to inspire thought, conversation, and debate that will, hopefully, lead to action, or just more thoughts. There are those out there that are brighter, sharper, with more connections and experience than me that can take what transpires here and run with it if they so choose.

When I write, I write in response to something I have personally experienced, or read. Something that has come to me in a natural way. I will leave the town government issues to the government officials, but I will be watching. I will watch how the town responds to our environment, the good and the bad, and I will comment.

No, my job is not to seek out issues that have been around for years. That would be investigative reporting, and that's not me. The issues are there, and the only way they can be changed is when the change is led from persons within, then the rest of us can follow. But we must make others aware. Not just making others aware of town government issues, but other things that affect the town, the good, and not so good. Remember, this space is not a space for my rantings, and ravings. It is more of a space for the sharing of my thoughts. I hope they fall on the eyes of those that can act. So, pass the postings you read here onto another person. I want this Blog to generate some more thought, and more importantly, change.

For those that did not read the comment I
referred to above, I have included it below. It is well written, and written by someone that obviously cares about our town, but is enormously frustrated by what he sees.

"I so do respect your approach to this but wonder if perhaps you missed the controversies surrounding the Zoning Study Sub-committee and the Housing Partnership Committee.

Both were similar in concept but were handled completely differently (for the world to see), because one involved an individual politically alignd with the B.O.S. and one did not.

I sincerely respect and admire your approach to issues and commend you for your objectivity, but I must say that I believe a more detailed study of issues brought before the B.O.S. and the positions they take on each and every one might suggest that it is not so much what the issue is that is brought before them, or how it is brought before them, but rather who is bringing it before them.

Research the Accessory Dwelling Unit Bylaw proposal, the Planning Board's position on quorum memberships on committees, the Housing Partnership Committee controversery, the controversy surrounding appointments to the Economic Developomnt Committee, the B.O.S. position on televising of Conservation Commission meetings, the Wastewater Treatment expansion, etc and juxtapose that with the postions of a small but vocal group in Town and one might come to a determination that this is a government of the few.

This concerns this veteran greatly for it demonstrates a government of the few, which is completely contrary to the desires of our founding fathers."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mery Christmas, Sturbridge

Harried from the Holidays? A bit stressed? Do this: sit down, "click" play, sit back and close your eyes, and listen. Nothing more, just listen.

When the music is done, get up and pick up where you left off.

Your day is going to be a better. Guarantee it.

Merry Christmas, Sturbridge.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Tree Saved in Sturbridge

Recently we saw what residents of Sturbridge can do to improve our town if they are so inclined. Seems that there has been some discussion about trees here in town, specifically on McGilpin Road. Now, for those of you who don't know, McGilpin Road is a old unpaved country lane. Lots of forest, some meadows, and more recently, some nice new homes. It is a great place to have a home, quiet, and off the beaten path. The town would like to pave the road, and widen it in spots for safety reasons. They also wanted to take down a number of trees along is sides to make the road safer. Most of these trees are old, one in particular, a Red Oak, is very old, and a beautiful tree. That tree was also slated to be removed.

Then came Kirstie Pecci, a resident of McGilpin Road. She fought for the tree, had arborists check out just how much living wood was still within the tree, and then confronted the Board of Selectmen and the Tree Warden in order to save it. This old oak is referred to a "Heritage Tree" because of its age, and to date there had been no plan in town to protect these trees other than ones that were in plain sight, such as around the Common. The sparing of the oak on McGilpin Road would establish a precedent the Tree Warden stated. He was not against establishing a precedent, but wanted the BOS, and the Town to know that it would cost money now, and in the future to save and maintain the trees.

Well, the Board listened, and the Tree Warden offered to apply for a grant to offset the cost of tree maintenance. It was suggested a Tree Committee be formed to aid the Tree Warden, and one was formed. In the end, the Old Red Oak was saved. The Town will still go ahead with its paving of this old lane, but the overall widening of the road will be considerably cut back.

Now, there is a lesson here. When folks feel the need to speak out on an issue that is close to them, they become impassioned. A simple issue as saving a tree caused a woman to speak up, and present information contrary to the status quo. And, she did it without yelling, or slapping her opponents. She did it with passion, and grace, and the Board of Selectmen, and the Tree Warden responded in kind.

So, keep this in mind, you reap what you sow, even in a Board of Selectmens meeting.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The link enclosed on this posting is a great one for a little history lesson, and some nice old photographs of an old section of Fiskdale.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lets Hear it for the Plows!

The snow plows. We barely give them a notice when it's snowing and they are out there, only when it's snowing and they aren't there do we notice. This past week, here in Sturbridge, they have been there.

Thank you, DPW.

I live on Route 148, and we get a good deal of traffic most days. During the storms the road was plowed, and sanded regularly. Oh, I guess there could be some more salt / sand thrown down on the hill leading to the intersection with Route 20 since it is very easy to slide down the hill and out into the on coming traffic, and going up the incline is tough for some vehicles, but all in all, the road was well taken care of.

We took a short drive on Sunday morning after buying the paper, and from what I could see, the roads were in good shape, and the plows were out there.

I experienced, first hand, the commuters nightmare this past Thursday on the way to Boston (it took me six hours) and the only plows I saw were westbound on the Pike in Auburn. That's it. 6 inches of snow on the eastbound side, little, if any, traffic till Weston, and not a plow to be seen.

Well, whatever the Pikes reason for neglecting the road was, it means little now. More importantly, our roads were in good shape. The plow drivers were on the road for hours and hours between Thursday and Sunday.

I noticed, and again, thank you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some Thoughts for a Snowy Sunday...

The scene at the left is still easy to identify, although it is at least 100 years old. This building, on Chamberlain Street facing the Town Common, is now four tidy apartments. In this old photograph there were apartments as well along with Corey's General Store in the center, and a stable at the far left. Today, the stable and the old store are long gone, both are apartments.

Times changed.

Time doesn't stand still. Cliche', I know, but it moves along with, and without us. It's moving along as I write these words. Time also brings changes. Just as the stable on the common is no longer needed, and the old general store is long gone, so are things changing here in town today.

I know the folks from the early part of the last century had a hard time when automobiles first came to town and circled the common, when the trolley stopped running, and when the Center School closed its doors for good. We're no different. Seems we are all saddened by the closing of the Le Petite France Bakery, Perennials, Basketville, Van Heusen among others in town. Life moves on. Retirements, breakups, downsizing, and slow business all to blame for the changes.

With every generation we seem to always be at the "crossroads" of change. Funny. Every generation reacts the same to things passing, and to "growth" or change for the future.

The stable owners never saw the future without the need for their stable I'm sure. How could they? Just as some don't see the need for larger facilities in town, safer roads, more recreation facilities, and such. You can't blame them. Some are gifted to be able to see beyond the hill, others are not. It's that simple. All we can do is help others see that change, and growth is not all bad. In fact, with everyone on the same page, it can be controlled, well thought out and a wonderful experience.

And, for those that are steadfast in their resolve not to move forward, find out the true reason why. It is very likely fear. Find out the cause of that fear, and work with them. Don't assault them. Compromise is a great thing. We will survive the times, and if we are totally honest with each other, compromise, and work together for the one goal of improving our lot on this small parcel of land, then we will be far better off.

Look at that photograph again. The building has changed a lot since the photograph was taken. Did the building change, or did we? Is the town changing today, or is it us?

Just thinking. Now, it's your turn.

Friday, December 14, 2007

"Marge, the Town Needs One of These"

Can you indentify just where this trolley is? At one time the trolley service ran from Southbridge to Springfield. The old right of ways, remains of the bridges and trestles are still visible in town. If you drive along Route 20 on the way into Brimfield, look over to your left out over the East Brimfield Lake to the other shore you will see the remains of the old railbed jutting out into the lake and disappearing. Further west, take your left a the Holland East Brimfield Road. A short ways down the road, look to your left at the lake. There are a few old concrete trestle supports still standing in the water.

Poll Results: Best View in Sturbridge

37% chose the view of the hill and farm on Douty Road.
25% chose Carpenters Rocks at Wells State Park.
12% chose the roads and trails at Westville Dam.
25% stated that there view wasn't listed. For those folks, please see the post from yesterday, December 13, and let me know just what is your favorite view.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It Starts With a Simple Thought...

There is a poll running in the margins of this blog asking the readers to vote for the the view they consider the best here in town. For the interest of space constraints, I could only list a few choices, but I want to give everyone a chance to offer up their own place here.

Let me get you started with a few more of the places I enjoy, and then let you take it away.

1) Drive down Holland Road for about a 1/2 mile, and look for a sign on the right reading "Old Trolley Trail". Drive up there and park in the small parking area. At the other end of the parking area is the start of a trail that will follow the old trolley line to the Quinebaug River. At the end of the trail there is a permanent bench on which you can sit, and stare off into the river. The remnants of the old trolley bridge are still here. After you rest a bit, you can either go back the way you came, or follow the river bank towards the dam, and then follow the trails to the trolley trail again. The photo at the top left shows the bridge just after it was built.

2) Once you are done at the Trolley Trail, go back onto Holland Road, and head towards Holland. Not far down the road is a small area on the left side of the road. A couple of poles hold a cable across a grass covered old road. Turn around up the street at Douty Road and head back, and park here on the side of the road, and wander on in along the river. The river comes rushing down form East Brimfield Lake and over many large boulders. The trees grown right to the rivers edge, often with their knarly roots exposed and growing over the large rocks. The evergreens give the illusion that you are much further north than you are. In the fall, the colors are amazing, and in the spring with the run off from the dam, the sights and sounds of the water rushing by is something to experience.

3) The Tantiusques on Leadmine Road. This Trustees of Reservations property offers a great walk to the old graphite mining area. Leadmine Road offers views, old cellar holes, stone walls along its path that remind us that others lived here long ago, and before the Europeans arrived. Go to: for more information on this special area.

Now, it's your turn. Offer a place in town in the comment section, then forward the post to a friend, and ask them to do the same.

The purpose is to generate thought, then thought leads to conversation, and things being said like, "I didn't know that place existed! Wow." Before long we have a whole lot of people wanting to share what we have with others. Friends from out of town come by for a hike, they tell friends, and they come. They shop and take in OSV, grab lunch, and maybe watch a wedding on the common.

Get to know your town, share your views, and tell others. My hope is that in a short while we can generate a whole lot of interest in the area to attract more folks to enjoy it, to add infrastructure like trails, and bike paths, and permanent scenic vistas. The more people that come to enjoy, the more will be in town to discover the other things we have to offer, like some of the best darn shops and restaurants west of Boston.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Just Down the Street...

For some reason folks always seem to travel a distance to relax and see new sights. I do, but in the past few years, although I still like to travel, I also like to travel closer to home. Really close. Like, down the street.

Not that I'm lazy, it's just that I can't seem to get out of town without seeing something new. Some sign, or old road that draws me in. I swear the Chamber of Commerce has something to do with it.

Did you know we have a state park in town? I know, silly question, but not an inappropriate one. Seems a a lot of folks I've spoken too, mostly new in town, have no idea that just off Route 49 is the Wells State Park. A long access road brings you to 1,400 acres of woodlands with 10 miles of hiking trails, and 60 campsites. There is a beach for the campers, and a boat ramp, for the rest of us, on Walker Pond. In season, there are a few restrooms available.

The photo at the top is of an old mill pond on the Mill Pond Trail. The trail is fairly level, with no steep inclines and is 0.98 miles long. It is a beautiful walk. Several streams and wetlands hide beavers, ducks and herons. The old stone walls cris-cross the property, and line the mill pond and some of the small streams. The photo at the left is of one small stream along the trail.

The Mountain Trail starts at the end of a camp site cul de sac, and goes beside Walker Pond before going straight up the mountain. That incline is a bit steep, but the views are well worth it. The trail loops back to one of the park paved roads. Along your hike near the pond, look to your right at the steep stone laden face of the mountain. Evergreens and moss color the landscape.

The North and South Trails will eventually lead to an incredible view at Carpenters Rocks. If you nothing else this summer here in town, you have to hike this trail for the view. In the early morning, the sunrise on this mountain is something you won't see anywhere else in town. Along the trail to the summit there are streams, small ponds and vernal "puddles" to see, and it is quiet. Very quiet. No sounds of the Pike here. Just woodpeckers, animals scurrying on the fallen leaves, and the occasional greeting from a fellow hiker.

Pack a lunch and time your hike as to enjoy it at the summit.

If you pay close attention to the woodscape around you, you will see where man has touched long ago. The stone walls are obvious, and there are many of them in the park. Each wall lined a planting field long ago. The fields are long overgrown with maples and some evergreens. Occasionally, you will find and ancient tree, 200 to 300 years old on the side of the trail and the walls being built around it.

On the upper half of the Mountain Trail the trail follows an old road. The road, used many years ago by horses and carts is often flanked by stonewalls. Some of the walls go over the streams, and were capped by large flat stones as in the photo below.

When the season turns a bit buggy, be sure to take along insect repellent. And, don't hike without some water as well. The hikes aren't particularly strenuous, but water is something you will want along the way.

If you have a tent, or a camper, try out one of their sites along the Pond, or in the forest. No, it's not stupid to go camping in the town you live in. You will feel as though you are deep in the forest of some small New England town.

And, you are.

For more information, and maps of the camp sites and trails, go to:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sometimes You Just Need to Bend the Truth a Tad

When I moved out this way, a few years ago, it was as if I had stepped back in time. Not a whole lot of time, just back to when I was a kid growing up in a small town. It was a good feeling. A comfortable one.

The funny thing was, I knew nothing about Central Massachusetts. Oh, I had been out this way a few times, to see Old Sturbridge Village, and to camp at Jellystone Park, but I always thought that one needed a visa to go out beyond Worcester. I felt like an illegal.

So, when I did make the move out here some of my family and friends thought I would disappear into the forest, or be kidnapped by mountain folk.

Actually, so did I.

But, after a while I began to realize that getting lost in the woods (although a distinct possibility for me), and being kidnapped by hillbillies just wasn't going to happen anytime soon.

My friends weren't so sure. So, I began to write to them, and tell them all about the goings-on in Little Town, America to make them feel more at ease about my move. They wanted quaint, small town goings on, so I gave it to them with little, or no exaggeration.

Let me share one letter I wrote to the folks back home a few years ago.

"Dear Folks Back Home,

More news from back home in Gods little backwater. Well, the boys down at the Veterans of American Wars are getting ready for the annual Memorial Day Parade. This year, Calvin Bishop, our sole surviving veteran of the Boxer Rebellion, will be the Grand Marshall. Toady McCabe is loaning his pick-up to haul Calvin and his hospital bed, and Miss Apple Orchard 1964, Martha Pichard, will assist Calvin in waving to the crowd. Calvins oxygen for the day was generously donated by Blanchettes Welding Supply.

May Day was exciting as always back here. Bert painted the Maypole fresh for the day, and this year,and donated about 100 yards of "Official Maypole Ribbon" imported direct from Berlin, Germany!! Well, I have to tell you, May First will go down in the history books around here.

I am sorry you missed the event. It all started in the morning about 10:00 when the pre-schoolers from the Lil' Farmers Daughters Pre-school marched to the Maypole. There it stood, fifty feet high and all painted to a high sheen by none other than Benjamin Moore and Bert. Hanging from the top of the Maypole were 20 rainbow colored cords. Miss Gelflick, hummed into that humminator thing that teachers use to get everyone on key, and that class began to sing the Sturbridge Maypole Song as they each took a colored cord and velcroed it to their tiny wrists. They continued to march in a circle around the pole, each child moving in predetermined pattern of ins and outs and back ins, all the while the colored cords wove a wonderful pattern on the pole.

Well, we all should have realized something was askew when the Maypole Circle March took longer than the usual 5 minutes. Well into the 15th minute and the 32nd verse of the Official Maypole song the children were getting very tired, but the cord had still yet to be fully played out. It was then that the Fire Chief noted on the box that had contained the cords that the words, "Elastisches Seil für springendes Bungi, nicht für Mai Pole das Tanzen". The Chief knew immediately what the German words said since he had served in the Wermacht during the war. The words said, "Elastic rope for Bungi jumping, not for May Pole Dancing." Just as he was reading the words aloud, a loud report was heard, followed by a scream that would make Dr. Doppler proud. So sudden were the noises that the Chiefs monocle popped from his face just as he lifted his head towards the Maypole. There, at the base of the pole was a mass of tired children, and as each one began to kneel down to catch their breath, the stretched out "Elastisches Sei" began to reclaim its normal size. Toddler after toddler were slung repeatedly around the Maypole and flung into the air at speeds verified by the Official Police Department Radar Gun, at upwards of 52 mph!! Some of them being heavier than others fell almost immediately after a quarter mile or so, some of the light weights made it as far as East Brookfield!

Oh, the humanity!

Well, as you can imagine, after about one minute there was no one left at the base of the Maypole. Kids gone. Fire Department gone. Joey Slevis ran down the street holding the radar gun on each of the orbiting Lil' Farmers Daughters, and shouted out numbers that sounded an awful lot like miles per hour. We were lucky that day. No one was hurt, good part due to the silly costumes Miss Gelflick made the children wear that day, little Pansy costumes with big leafy arms. The boys over at Westover Air Reserve Base said that each of the little missiles had become "aeronautically perfect" for the short time they were airborne and literally floated to earth like so many Maple Seed propellers.

Well, there you have, the news from my small town, Sturbridge. Needless to say, the Maypole event will be different next year, there are grown-ups already on a waiting list to give it a try, pansy costumes and all!


Having Fun West of Worcester"

Now, I never did tell any of the any of them that I was exaggerating, it just seemed to add to the mystique of Middle Massachusetts, and I am not going to. My sister has been trying to sign up for the May Pole Dance since June.

I 'd like to see if she gets off the ground.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Where Was It?

This photo has me stumped, but I think I may know where it was. The landscape has changed drastically over time, but there are remnants of the bridge still at the site today.

If you have an idea where this may have been, leave a comment. I am sure there are others that would like to know just where this pastoral scene was in town.

"Bridge Near Wightmere, Sturbridge, Mass."

Get Off the Beaten Path

You may have lived in town all of your life, and for that, I envy you, but you may not have seen a lot of the hidden scenes around the town. Over the last few years, I've stumbled across a few. Some have left me wondering what I was looking at, and others have left me standing, and smiling in silence. I only hope that they will be there for years to come.

I like to explore. Being new to Sturbridge a few years back, I felt I had to get to know the area. I didn't want to be just "living in Sturbridge", I needed to really know about it. The hidden trails and roads, the known ones, the secret areas no one frequents, and the well traveled ones that no one notices.

I found a bunch of places that have caused me to stop, think,and smile. I admit, I must have looked weird standing in the woods smiling to myself, but if you know me you would understand, and still think it weird.

Sometime when the weather warms, and the snow is gone, drive over to the Westville Lake area. Park in the lot outside the main gate, and walk across the road on the other side of the lot to another road running beside the river. This road was one of the original roads in the Village of Westville. The village was dismantled and folks moved out back in the early 1960's in order to make room for the dam project by the Army Corp of Engineers.

Follow the road along the river. Above you, to the right is the Grand Trunk Trail running parallel to the roadway. The large rocks you see along the slope were placed there to build the original rail bed. After you've walked a bit, you'll cross a large concrete bridge to the other side of the Quinebaug river, continue walking a bit and look to your right of the road for a large, old tree just on the edge of the road. Once you find it, look at the side of the tree and up in its lower limbs. There you will see old 2 by 4's nailed into the trunk as a ladder and the remains of tree house. When I saw this for the first time it was one of those times I smiled. I thought of the kids that had constructed it years and years ago when houses lined that stretch of road. The fun they must have had in that tree house looking out onto the river. Now, 40 plus years later, there it was, still there in the tree, and everything else on the ground gone.

Well, not quite everything. The roadways tarmac is still there in places, there is an old cistern still in place on the left side of the road, and a driveway leading to nowhere. Keep walking down the road, and on your right, between you and the river is a an open area. this is a great place to fish I am told, or to just sit on one of the rocks and watch the river flow. Off to your left is the remains of concrete building right on the river. It's a small, square concrete building that served some purpose long ago. I imagine it held controls, valves and such for the dam and sluice way further up stream.

If you continue walking on the road you'll notice on your left the steep hillside. depending on the season, you will see small streamlets flowing down the hill into the ditches and culverts, and on into the river. There is a turn around for cars up ahead, and another great place to cast your line. Yes, you can drive along this road in season, but it is so much nicer to walk the road.

Just where the turn around is the road forks. To the right it goes down to the river bank, to the left there is a yellow steel gate across the road to block automobile traffic. Follow that road. You won't be disappointed.

The road way gradually climbs higher above the river. Most of the old pavement is still in place. On your left is large rocks cut to make the road many years ago. The stone was used to construct the roadway. If you look down and to your right you will see that the roadway sits on a large stone wall for most of the way.

The view from here and down into the river is beautiful. I often think that it would be wonderful if the road could be redone and opened to the public. If you continue walking you will come to another yellow steel gate. The gate blocks traffic from coming down Old Mashapaug Road. Near the end of Old Mashapaug Road, look a the trees lining the roadway on your right. There are some old tin signs still nailed in place from long ago. They are advertising for the former filling station at the house on your left. The filling station island is still there, but the pumps are long gone.

If you are in for different view of the river, from the other side, then follow Old Mashapaug to River Road, and go right along River Road for aways. Look off to your right for another one of those yellow gates down in the woods a bit. Hike on down to it and follow the trail to the steel footbridge crossing the Quinebaug River. You are now officially on the Grand Trunk Trail. Follow the trail along the river, and back to the parking lot. You will see a portion of the trail cut through huge rocks, and open meadow. Your elevation will vary as you continue. The plant life is abundant here. I have seen things I had no clue as to what they were. There is also somethings I know all too well what they are. Towards the end of the trail, you will see old discarded car parts and old car bodies on your left. They are nestled in the leaves and amongst the trees. They seem to fit the area. They reflect another era.

Now, I've just mentioned a few of the things that you will find along your trek along the Quinebaug, if you open your eyes all the way, you will find so many more.

Take the time to explore Sturbridge. Go off that beaten path to WalMart, or the post office. Look at a map, Google the town, find a spot, park your car and walk.

I guarantee you that somewhere along your walk you will look weird in the woods, too.

Top: Old Sturbridge Village Road
Middle: The Quinebaug River
Bottom: Deer along Old Sturbridge Village Road
(c) 2007

Pet Rescue Poll Results

The results of the poll I posted on your experiences with adopting from a pet rescue are in. An overwhelming 80% of you stated that your experience was very good, and only 20 % stated that it was a bad experience. These results run contrary to my experience, so I would appreciate your sharing the names of the rescues you had the good experiences with. Maybe, I'll luck out as well.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A Thought for Every Season

We all have survived tragedies during our life, some better than others, but for those of us still here on this rock, we did survive.

One thing I know about surviving a tragedy is that the healing comes in stages. You know, denial, anger, acceptance. Sometimes we may get stuck in one of those stages for a long time. We all heal differently. And, while we are stuck in one of those stages, we may act out of sorts. We may become severely depressed, or extremely angry. It happens, but for most of us, we come out of it eventually. Its while were are in that place that we must be careful not to hurt ourselves, or others with our thoughts or deeds.

For those of us that may be affected by ones over reacting, it is up to us to offer words of encouragement, and peace. Oh, we may not agree with the person, their words, or behavior, but we all would agree that their behavior is in some way a call for peace.

So, as you hear and read of things that have transpired over the past few months here in town, stop, and think, and don't judge. And if the opportunity ever comes to say a kind word, whether or not you agree with the person, do so.

You see, the time we stay in one of those places is entirely dependent on how we deal, and how others deal with us.

We all have the power to help heal.

Friday, December 7, 2007

One Flew Over the Town Hall

OK. It's been more than a day, and I can't hold it in any longer.

I was reading an article regarding the vote on the waste water treatment facility in the Town Common newspaper yesterday and I came across this paragraph:

"One of the few to commend the board was Edward Goodwin of the Conservation Commission, who actually said that a 1.1 (million gallons per day) plant was excessively high. From my point of view, 1.1 is way over the top." said Goodwin, justifying his stance by adding that "residential and community growth don't pay for themselves." He also said that the war in Iraq necessitates fiscal conservatism."

This is from a member of the Conservation Commission. A town official. He actually stated for the record that 1.1 million gallons per day was "excessively high". He also stated for the record that because of the war in Iraq we need to show some "fiscal conservatism".

You read this correctly. One of the two reasons he voted against the 1.4 million gallons recommended by the engineers was because of the war in Iraq.

I don't know.

Maybe it's just me.

There's Real "Bozo"s in the Wastewater Debate

I just found the real "Bozo"s in town, and they are living in this whole waste water controversy.

And I
never really understood the quote from Forest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does." until today. The Town of Sturbridge hired an engineering firm to study the towns wastewater needs for the future. We spent a boatload of money to do so. The town hired them. One would think if the town hired them, then the town would be vitally interested in what they would have to report, otherwise they could have taken a shot in the dark themselves, and saved a bunch of money.

Well, despite the pleading of Town Administrator James Malloy, DPW Director Greg Morse, Selectman Arnold Wilson, Mary Blanchard of the Zoning Board, Planning Board Chairman Tom Creamer, and Alexandra McNitt Executive Director of the Central Mass. South Chamber of Commerce the board of Selectmen voted 4-1 for a waste water capacity of 1.1 million gallons per day, as opposed to the 1.4 recommended by the engineers. 1.5 is probably what is actually needed I'm told.

OK. Now, tell me why.

Why did those on the board vote against the engineers recommendations. Why did they vote against the recommendations of their peers? Just give me, and the rest of us in town an answer that we can swallow. Call the newspapers, ask to speak with a reporter, and tell them your reasoning. Go ahead, go get the phone.

Growth is inevitable, although controlled, planned growth isn't. I spent 25 years in Franklin. Growth took that sleepy little farm community to the town that was, at one point, issuing more building permits year after year, than any other town in the Commonwealth. The growth, they say was planned, however the character of the town was ruined. Don't let that happen here.

If growth in the town is going to happen, either from the town itself attracting businesses, or from folks just moving in, then it is only logical that one would have in place the town services to accommodate the expansion. If you don't, then just put a freeze on new growth, stop issuing building permits for houses, and stay locked in a the size we are at now.

You can't have it both ways, and if you think we can, then you either know something the rest of us don't, or are just stupid.

There. I said it. It took me a few paragraphs, but I finally said it. Stupid.

I don't think we are all on the same page with this growth thing, either. There is too much animosity, too many differing opinions, and too many shanagans at public meetings. Do we actually have a Master Plan for Growth for the Town of Sturbridge? I mean a real, thought out, written, published, and presented Master Plan of Growth. If we do, then I am sure the subject of waste water is in that document somewhere. How can we vote against the Master Plan? That is, unless we don't have plan.

Well, that would explain a lot. (See stupid above).

My thoughts are this: get on the same page, get a Master Plan if you don't have one, listen to the guys you hire, stop the name calling and slapping, and work together.

And one more thing. I'm 53 years old. I flush the toilet a few times a day, and this I know: my prostate isn't getting any smaller, and the way things are going, I'll be using those missing 300 thousand gallons a day in another few years all by myself.