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

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Citizen Leadership Academy

I received this notice today via email. I was told that although the deadline was January 2, there may be space, or an additional session at at a later date. This a great opportunity to learn the inner workings of our town.

Town of Sturbridge

Citizen Leadership Academy

The Town of Sturbridge is launching it’s second Citizen Leadership Academy to
continue the success of the first academy in generating interest on the part of
residents to serve the community as a talent pool for various boards and

Any resident of the Town of Sturbridge, including current board members of
Boards and Committees are invited and encouraged to participate in the Citizen
Leadership Academy. Information regarding the program will be distributed via
the Town’s website and will be advertised on the Community Calendar Public
Access Channel and at the Town Hall. The program will be a 12-week long
program that will involve interaction with different town staff and current
members of various boards and committees.

The Citizen Leadership Academy is also an opportunity for citizens to exchange
ideas, suggestions and concerns with town management and staff. Applications
will be due January 2, 2008 and can be found at the Town’s website


Town of Sturbridge

Citizen Leadership Academy

Day 1 – Getting to Know the Town Government
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Town Administrator
• Introduction to the Citizen Leadership Academy
• Discussion of “growing” future leaders in the community
• Structure of Town Government
o Overview of Town Departments
o Town Government Organization
o Town Administrator’s Authority and Responsibility
Discussion of Academy Schedule
• Citizen Input

Day 2 – Legal Issues of Town Government
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Town Administrator
• Discussion of General, Zoning and Water & Sewer Bylaws
• Discussion of Regulations
• Discussion regarding Town Meeting and how it works
• Ethics and Conflict of Interest
Citizen Input

Day 3 – Public Safety
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Fire Chief & Police Chief
• Police
o Community Policing Philosophy
o Service Levels and How we provide them
o Crime Statistics
o Other Police Programs offered in the community
• Fire
o Fire Services
o Ambulance Services
o Involvement as a Call Firefighter
• Citizen Input

Day 4 – Public Works
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
DPW Director
• Discussion on Road Management
o Public Roads
o Private Roads
• Stormwater Issues
• Water Plant, Wells & Distribution System
• Sewer Plant, Pump Stations & Collection Systems
• Snow Plowing
• Roadside Maintenance
• Citizen Input

Day 5 – Library, Recreation & Senior Services
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Library Director, Recreation Coordinator and COA Director
• Library Services – Not just books
o Regional access to materials
o Friends of the Library
o Library Policies
o Other Library programs
• Recreation Services
o Summer Concert Series
o Summer Recreation Program
o Summer Recreation Leagues
o Sports Leagues at the High School
o Budget
o Tree Lighting
o Recreational Sports Leagues
o Park Maintenance
• Senior Services
o I & R
o Outreach
o Resources
o Assistance
o Programs at the Senior Center
o Advocacy & Education programs
o Physical Fitness programs
o Drop-In Center
Other Senior Programs
• Volunteer opportunities
• Citizen Input

Day 6 – Planning, Zoning and Conservation Commission
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Town Planner, Conservation Agent, Planning Board Chair, Zoning Board Chair &
Conservation Commission Chair
• Planning Department
o Processes & Applications
o Subdivision Control
o Site Plan Review
o Zoning Bylaw Development
• Planning Board
o Roles and responsibilities of members
o Time commitment
o Knowledge base and information available
• Zoning Board
o Roles and responsibilities of members
o Time commitment
o Knowledge base and information available
• Conservation Commission
o Conservation Agent – role & responsibilities
o Conservation Commission – role and responsibilities
o Time commitment
o Knowledge base and information available
• Citizen Input

Day 7 – Board of Selectmen
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Chair, Board of Selectmen
• Role and responsibilities of the Board of Selectmen
• Policy Setting
• Ethics, Public Meetings & Conflict of Interest
• Time commitment
• Citizen Input

Day 8 – School Department
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Superintendent/Business Manager/Burgess Principal
• Organization – Regional and Local Schools
• School Finance
• Quality/Accountability

Day 9 – Health Department
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Board of Health Chair/Health Agent
• Septic Systems
• Health Department Responsibilities
• Restaurant Inspections
• Other Inspections

Day 10 – Town Clerk
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Town Clerk
• Town Clerk Responsibilities
• Elections
• Vital Statistics
• Recordkeeping

Day 11 – Other Town Functions
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Town Administrator Finance Director & Finance Committee Chair
• Other Elected Boards
• Other Appointed Boards
• Other Departments
• The Budget Process and role of the Finance Committee
• Citizen Input

• Wrap-Up

Sessions run one evening per week for 12 consecutive weeks beginning the third
week of January. Location will be at the Sturbridge Senior Center (second floor),
480 Main Street. Sessions will run from 7:00 until approximately 9:00 PM.
Participants will be expected to attend at least 75% of the sessions.

Town Administrator’s Office
308 Main Street
Sturbridge, MA 01566
Fax (508) 347-5886


  1. Dear Thinking, et al;

    I would like to suggest that attendees at the last Citizen Leadership Academy (CLA) be surveyed - anonymously if they are comfortable - to learn what they took away from the CLA. It might be a good way to gauge how successful the CLA is, whether they could offer up suggestions for improvements, and also, to see how many actually went on to serve.

  2. Carol,
    I believe the attendees last time were surveyed and their suggestions were included in this years academy.

  3. I'm really glad to hear that! Thanks - and are there any numbers as to...out of however many attendees, how many actually went on to serve? This is a positive thing for Sturbridge - it would be nice to read about some of the good stuff that happens at town hall.

  4. Carol,
    In the recent Sturbridge Times Magazine there is an article regarding the Citizen Leadership Academy. It is well written and, I believe, will answer your questions. There were 15 participants last year accoding to the article, and 10 are serving.
    Go to :

  5. Fantastic, thanks for the lead to Sturbridge Times Mag. That's on my pile of stuff to read.


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