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

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.


  1. I love your blog. I read it virtually every day and thoroughly enjoy your wit, your take on local events, and your succinct candor. Yours is a refreshing voice and I look forward to future musings! And, I couldn't agree more with your comment (and I'm paraphrasing here) that in the end, if we are not pleased with how our Town has evolved, we only have ourselves to blame; we are either part of the solution, part of the problem, or we are sitting on the sidelines complaining and pointing fingers.

  2. Jennifer, Thank you for the kind words. "Just doing my job, mam". Like you, I don't want to sit on the sidelines and point fingers.

  3. Dear Thinking: I appreciate your interpretation on the subject of my resignation from the CPC, but the old Kansas City song doesn't apply to my train of thought. While I'm no longer on committees at town hall in Sturbridge, I'm still alive and kicking as a volunteer! Sturbridge is where I live - and there's still lots to be done.

    While it's a fact that Sturbridge is ahead of most towns in this area in terms of preservation (and I refer also to cultural resources), it's also the most developed. Consider that Sturbridge has the most resources at town hall compared to other towns around us. Besides Charlton, what other towns around Sturbridge have a town administrator, and a real planning department?

    Sturbridge has made huge strides in the last few years, but from my perspective - it's not just about Sturbridge. Abutting communities are beginning to realize that if they don't apply a proactive approach to planning their own growth, they will be impacted in ways that they are not prepared to control.

    My view of Sturbridge is regional -that it's the center of business and will continue to be such. It's the most built up and has the benefit of being sited at the intersection of major highways. I consider other towns around Sturbridge to be "the burbs". And as Sturbridge grows, this will become more apparent to its residents.

    So when I am asked to assist in a community with no resources to speak of, I consider it an honor, a totally proactive approach, and I'm more than willing to assist. Let's face it, the only reason why there's so much press about my recent resignation is because of all the negative hype concerning an altercation at town hall.

    My "job" for Brookfield is to find funding sources to completely pay for their $11,135 Open Space & Recreation Plan. Total time for my part will be a few hours here and there - very worthwhile return for such short time expended. Sturbridge already has one of these plans, and it expires in 2010. When it's time to update the Sturbridge plan, I'll ask to be reappointed to the Open Space Committee.

    Also, consider that Brookfield is north of Sturbridge (everything flows downhill..). Though invisible, Sturbridge will benefit from my work there. It's a fact that neighboring towns tend to benefit when planning takes place in an abutting community....just because there are boundary lines on paper, doesn't mean they exist on the ground.

    This all said, I partially agree with some of what you said. I ran a business in Southbridge and Sturbridge for 9 years, and closed its doors in 1996 for various reasons, none which I can blame on someone or something else. I run a charity now and it's been going strong for 8 years. Someone else might have, or would run these businesses with a totally different management style, and the outcome would be completely different than what my results have brought to bear.

    We all make decisions in life. Some good, some bad. Accountability and management are only a couple key ingredients to running any successful business.

    And finally, I would say there is only good stuff to be had if everyone at town hall, along with people who run businesses, started sitting at a table together to get busy on "fixing" what is perceived to be a problem of keeping businesses alive in Sturbridge. I echo Ms. Morrison's last two sentences.

    Stop pointing fingers, stop blaming others, stop complaining - be proactive in a POSITIVE way. To start with, generating positive press about how the town is pulling together to accomplish this task would best serve Sturbridge and neighboring towns.

  4. Dear Carol, Thank you for clarifying your reasons, and your candor. I am sure our readers appreciate it as well. That being said, please don't wander too far away, and the very best of luck in Brookfield.

  5. Your blog is great and tons of fun. Please keep it coming.

    I do have to say though that if it weren't for Cramer's blog, which Ms. Morrison is listed on as the editor, these guys at town hall would be getting away with really messing this town up.

    Mr. Cramer has had the courage to take them on without hesitation and I commend him for that.

    Like, I said, I love your blog and read it every chance I get, but the hardball Cramer plays is the only reason these guys are trying to make it look like they are doing something. He calls them on the issues they demonstrate one sidedness on and that seems to be most of then. They are feeling the heat now and that is what makes things happen.

    Oh and by the way, I love your polls and the pictures from arund town.

  6. Dear "Tired of Talk",

    Thank you very much for your kind words and encouragement. It will keep coming, it's going to be a long winter.

    There is a place for "hardball", and a place for plain thinking, and rambling -- something I do well.

    There will be more polls and more photos as time goes on. I am glad you enjoy them.

  7. Dear Tired of Talk: As one who has participated for a few years now in town government, I could take exception to your comments. I haven't "messed up" town hall or the town. Also, I highly recommend that instead of counting on someone else's methods to make local politicians "feel the heat", perhaps you should consider becoming involved and do it yourself. Why not throw your hat into the ring and run for selectmen? That way, you too can star on Creamer's blog without your permission and be constantly ridiculed when he doesn't agree with you.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Great blog, I just discovered you. Although it is true that I have chosen to move my business elsewhere I have not given up on Sturbridge. My choice to close the Baking Company and open a shop in Worcester was not easy but in fact necessary. I see Sturbridge as a town with a great deal of untapped potential and I am happy to say I finally see a community pulling together to make a change. I am actually planning to move my residence to Sturbridge within the coming year so that my son can attend Burgess and we can remain an active part of the community.


Anonymous comments not accepted, and will be rejected. Please use your full name. Choose "Name / URL" and enter your name, and your name ONLY. Leave "URL" blank.