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

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Closing Circles And Filling Holes

I've always liked science fiction, especially time travel. Of course, even though Einstein may have been right about time travel, and it may be possible someday, I feel that until that day comes I need to settle for another form of connecting to the past.

Facebook is one of those forms.

I joined this social networking megasite a little over a year ago, and since then I have reconnected with many people that I have not seen in over 30 years. It is as if I was having a telephone conversation, put down the phone for over three decades, or so, before picking it back up , and restarting the conversation where it had left off.

It is as if time has stood still.

All the life in between, the babies, jobs, marriages, deaths, divorces, moves, career changes, grandchildren are initially tucked away in a separate folder, and the first words of contact are "How are you?". From there, depending on the person, we may choose to open our folders, and share a bit, but the most important thing is to know that the other person has made it to this point in the timeline safely, and with as little wear and tear as possible. The other stuff is neat, and will be great to learn more about, but for now it is, "How are you?", and what we are really thinking is "Are you all right?".

How many times have we thought of someone we met in 6th grade, and wondered what ever happened to them after graduation. They may have come to mind when we heard a song, saw an old movie, or came across a crinkled photo in a box. Too often. It was a hole in our lives that would be better off filled in.

After making contact, reading the other persons profile, viewing the photos of their family they have posted, and reading their occasional updates, we can go on with our lives. Those loose ends left flapping in the wind for all those years are finally brought together, and the circles are closed.

Just knowing is enough to move on.

I have been blessed to have "filled in" a lot of holes.

Most of the time the hole filling is little more than finding an old friend on the site, or having an other old friend suggest some people to you. Just a simple click. They receive a request that you want to be a "friend", and they can acknowledge it, or ignore it. Most of them get acknowledged. Once that is out of the way you can check out their profile, photos, and try to put together what they've been up to. Of course, you can just ask them, too.

So, what's the point to all this?

I'm not really sure. Until this FB thing came along there was really no way that one could ever reconnect to the faces from our long ago lives unless it was at a class reunion, wedding, or funereal. Now, I have found that Susan is still an outspoken, funny rebel, and is directing her energy to helping others, Jean is constantly doing for others as well, Tim is still the musician, along with Joe, but nowadays, their passion pays the bills. Bill still plays with wood, and that play has gained him some renown as a furniture designer, and builder. So many faces from long ago, and the one thing I have found about each of them is that they really have not changed.

Oh, those physical teenage faces have changed somewhat, some more than others, but who they once were, is still who they are. That inner self is still very evident as I read their posts, their comments to others postings, view their family photos, and see what causes they support. They may feel that they have changed over time, that they are all grownup, and adults now, but that same fresh faced teenage person is still there, just a little wrinkled from a few decades of time travel.

I guess one thing that Facebook has shown me is that people don't really change, they do remain the same. They may have had rough patches along the way, and fallen out of sorts at times, but the same basic self was, and is still there.

This should be of some comfort to some. It certainly is for me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Suhoski Offered Sturbridge TA Job

This just in...-ed.

"Suhoski Offered Sturbridge TA Job

STURBRIDGE/AYER -Ayer Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski was the unanimous pick by the Sturbridge Board of Selectmen on Monday, Feb. 22 to become Sturbridge's town administrator. Suhoski has not yet commented to Nashoba Publishing.

It's unclear at this point whether Suhoski will accept the post as terms of employment are to be determined. However, Suhoski did indicate to the Sturbridge selectmen that, if offered the post, he could start work there in as soon as 45 days.

On the 5-0 vote, the Suhoski selection potentially puts to bed a protracted process to find a successor for prior TA James Malloy who left in June to become Town Manager for Westborough. This was the third attempt to form a consensus via a selection process head by two different search committees.

Ayer Selectman Gary Luca, in the midst of his second term, has worked with Suhoski during his tenure on the Board. Suhoski was elevated to the Town Administrator post in 2006 following his prior seven year stretch in Ayer's Planning and Development Department, serving as the town's Economic Development Director.

"I wish him luck. I hope he does well if that's what he wants," said Ayer Selectman Gary Luca on Tuesday, "I'm sure he'll be fine down there. He's a dedicated employee."

"I'm sorry that he's leaving but people don't stay in places for very long," said Luca.

Of Ayer's potential need to launch a replacement search should Suhoski accept, Luca said, "We'll just move on from there and hope to get a town administrator that can handle everything that's thrown at him efficiently and effectively."

"He'll be fine at it. Sometimes when you're somewhere for a long time, a change of pace is fine. And if he decides to stay, that's fine with me," said Luca, "I've enjoyed a good working relationship with him."

Suhoski, 44, is a Fitchburg State College graduate, has a law degree from New England School of Law and previously worked as a newspaper correspondent for several regional newspapers. Suhoski is also involved in a music group that plays throughout the area. Special provisos were included in Suhoski's employment contract with the Town of Ayer to permit his continued involvement in both the reporting and musical supplemental employment opportunities.

Suhoski made the final three this third time around in Sturbridge via his application made last summer during the town's first attempt to fill the vacancy. The names of the three finalists last summer were never released when 4 of the 5 search committee members resigned in protest of perceived pressure to select Charles Blanchard, Paxton's Town Administrator and husband of selectman Chairman Mary Blanchard for the post. However, word got out informally that Suhoski was on that short summertime list.

Suhoski's name didn't surface in December for the second attempt, though Search Committee Chairman James Ehrhard said Suhoski was in their top 10 semifinalist list. Suhoski made the final three this month along with Mansfield Town Manager John D'Agostino and Laurel, Montanta DPW Dir. and CEO William Sheridan. Suhoski was ultimately tapped Monday night.

Sturbridge Interim Town Administrator Michael Racicot said Tuesday of the timeline, "As far as I am aware, Mr. Suhoski will be meeting with the Board of Selectmen at their next meeting on Monday, March 1 to discuss the position and negotiate a possible agreement. After that meeting we will know the timeline, salary, and any transition arrangements."

The Ayer Board of Selectmen meet the next night, Tuesday, March 2 when perhaps Suhoski's ultimate fate will be known."

This article appeared on the Nashoba Publishing website 2/23/10.--ed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ya Think?

I read a brilliant statement in the newspaper today in reference to the Route 15 sewer issue being placed on the TM warrant.

"There's no denying that water and sewer are drivers for economic growth."


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Here We Go Again...

One step forward, two steps back. Seems like the "Sturbridge Shuffle" has been the dance of choice for way too long.

The latest company turning in their dance card...

Property Listing
Click to view larger
Sturbridge, MA 01518
502 Main St
List Price:$1,800,000
Type of Commercial:Commercial
Space Available:For Sale
Total Units:1
Parking Spaces:55
Master Bath:Unknown
Lot Size:29,621
Total Sq. Ft.:13,000
Year Built:1830~
View all 1 PhotosWalk Score
Description:Historic 5 star Restaurant and Pub located in the heart of Sturbridge. The 30 year established elegant Whistling Swan is located on the main level and the pub style Ugly Duckling is on the second level. Sale price is for building and business and also includes an upstairs apartment.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

All Hail And Welcome The Mole People

It's nice to read about a successful company moving into town. Mole Hollow Candles of Shelburne Falls, MA is owned by David and Beth Dunn. The Dunn's bought their first home out here in Sturbridge, and now are bringing the company they bought five years ago to town. Their reason is simple, Sturbridge is centrally located, and offers great highway access for the distribution of their candles. Mole Hollow Candle has been around since 1969, and has now grown to the point where the move makes sense. They will move into space owned by All Star Premium products on Route 20 (Charlton Road).

The Dunn's knew all about Sturbridge's great highway access, and central location because they lived here. They took that information and have used it to their advantage.

I'll bet you you anything there are many other companies out there that desire the same central location as Mole Hollow Candles did, but have no idea where it is, or where to start looking.

Looks like a job for Town Promotion Man, or woman. OK, OK.

Town Promotion Person!

From the rural roads of central Massachusetts to the corporate offices throughout New England, this promoter of excellent highway access, central location to everywhere in New England, and just plain good 'ol New Englandness spreads the message that Sturbridge is ready and willing to take on more industry!

Whoa. So cool. A person just for the sole purpose of promoting what we are, who we are, and what we could be for those companies exploring new opportunities.

Sounds like a paid position to me, or maybe a volunteer position with really great benefits.

In the hands of the right person, this is one position that could be very, very beneficial to Sturbridge.

So, what are we talking here? First, develop a plan. That's simple: Attract industry to town. How? Offer incentives. What kind of incentives? Tax breaks are popular. Help with infrastructure, such as sewer, and water connections. Anything that will get the owners of companies to pause, and look at what we have to offer is an incentive. Something that helps a company out during the moving and settling in phase, and after a period of time, fades away. After all, it is an incentive, not the "gift that keeps on giving."

Then we will need a knowledgeable, motivated person that is willing to work for peanuts. We know the town will not make this a paid position. I know a lot of good, knowledgeable people, but working for nothing is asking for a lot.


Maybe one of our multiple business organizations could help out?

The end result? More companies on the tax roles is one thing, and more local folks being employed locally, too, is another. Activity, or in this case, industry, begets activity. More will come if the conditions are right, the locations offer good access, and town utilities.

Yep, those Mole Hollow folks are onto to something. Now, if we could take the torch and do our part we might be able stimulate our own packages here in town instead of waiting for the government to do it for us.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

But Wait, There's More...

Submitted by Raoul O. Desy

"Hello and thanks for your informational articles. Here's a little history from Brian Burn's book, "Sturbridge a Pictorial History," copyright 1988, which illustrates the churches in Sturbridge, and includes the same mystery church picture as is at the top of your web site. In the 1800's there were, at one time or another, 3 churches in the vicinity of the town hall.In the 1830's there was a church on the site of what was, when Brian wrote the book, "the present day police station," which we now know, once more, as the old center school. (That church was moved to Fiskdale, next to what is now the Southbridge Credit union on Main Street. Eventually that church was moved to Old Sturbridge Village.)In 1892 there was a church located where the once Sturbridge Candy and Gift Shop, and now Sadie Green's is located. THAT IS THE CHURCH IN YOUR PICTURE. Brian's copy of that picture is in black and white. Yours must have been colorized. The caption under his/your picture reads "Looking west from Town Hall, the spire of the Unitarian Church clears the trees to the right. Just beyond the church is the present highway overpass. ~ Courtesy of Joshua Hyde Library."The church at the site by the town hall, where the Federated Church is today, was a Congregational church which was reported to have 124 years old when it burned down in 1908. The new church (today's Federated Church) was dedicated in 1910 and had extensive renovations done in the 1960's.According to Burns, the town hall was at one time only one story tall (and sixteen feet shorter than it was previous to our ongoing renovation). Needless to say, there were no columns, and a picture in his book shows that. He writes about the town hall: "When the annual fairs took place on the Common, the building served as as an exhibit hall..." interesting stuff..."

Thank you, Raoul! Excellent information. Both you and Bob came to the same conclusion. Now, I am going to have to find another old photo to test the likes of you, Tom, and Bob. --ed.

Could This Be The Hidden Church In The Old Postcard Above?

From Bob Briere:

Style is exactly the same, but the uphill in the background would have to be where the current Police/Fire complex is. There does not look like Route 15 is there, so it could be an older photo than that road. It also looks to set back further than the church was in my younger days.
But, the steeple is the same except the photo OSV has shows a color difference which is also what I remember. Could have been painted before what i have. And thast is the white area around the oval topped bell openings.
Tell you what-- I will copy the photo I have and send it as soon as I get it done as an attachment in another e-mail.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The End In Sight?

According to the Worcester Telegram & Gazzette, the Town Administrator Search Committee has some new finalists.

Finally, more finalists.

This search processes has been an arduous task. The committee has worked very hard, and now, it is up to the selectmen to make a choice.


This process has been going on for far too long. We have new finalists from a new search committee. It's like skiing on fresh powder--nice and clean, and nothing left over from older runs to get in the way. Right?

Let's hope so. We seem to drag our butts here in town. I'm not sure just why it is. Separation anxiety from our last TA? Doubt it. It's almost like a bunch of 8 year olds at the shore waiting for one of them to feel just how cold the water is.

"You do it."
"No, you do it."

Cripes! Will someone just make a decision?!

Well, we'll see.

My prediction? I want to say this matter will be wrapped up inside the month. That is what I want to say, but I know better. There is going to be yet one more sideshow. One more disruption to the process. One more surprise.

The biggest surprise would be a new Town Administrator in place by months end.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette article:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Looking For Ideas For Heins Farm Dedication On June 5

"To all interested groups, committees and individuals:

The Sturbridge Trails Committee along with Conservation Committee are looking for your help in supporting a public open event to dedicate the completion of the walking / hiking trails on the Heins Farm town open space. The event is scheduled to be held on Saturday June 5, 2010 12:00-3:00.

This is in the preliminary planning stages and we are looking for support on items to make this day a success. We need sponsors (either individuals or groups) that will take charge of a specific activity and run with it. We have a number of ideas we are considering but welcome any ideas that a group or individual would like to bring forth.

The theme is to make this a fun event utilizing the trails and meadow as the setting. The following is a list of ideas that we have under consideration and need volunteers to take charge of. To reemphasize, we are open to other ideas.

Ribbon Cutting

Historical talk

Kite Flying

Kids mountain bike race

Parcel History talk

Flora and Fauna talks

Kids Geo Cache search

Snacks and water give away

Trash Management

RC aircraft demo

Rocketry Demo



Forestry Management Talk

If you can lend some support please respond to either Randy Redetzke at or Leslie Wong at

Please forward this on if you can think of anyone that maybe able to help."

--from a recent email.--ed.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

On Hold? Why? Let's Hear A Credible Reason For Once

Rt. 15 sites on hold for sewers

Treatment plant capacity to increase


STURBRIDGE — Standing in front of the town’s wastewater treatment plant, state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, declared the Board of Selectmen will no longer have to turn away business because the plant’s capacity is full.

Mary M. Berry, manager of the Sturbridge Retirement Cooperative Corp., will believe it when she sees it.

Like several other property owners in the Route 15 Special Use District, Mrs. Berry has been butting heads with selectmen for years over connections to town sewer lines. Monday night, she will plead her case in front of selectmen again.

The Sturbridge Retirement Cooperative Corp., 1 Kelly Road, and neighboring Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp Resorts, 30 River Road, are facing administrative consent orders from the state Department of Environmental Protection to upgrade their septic systems because their daily flows exceed the Title 5 limit, which is 15,000 gallons per day.

“The consent order says that we’re noncompliant; therefore, we have two choices: our own treatment plant or a municipal tie-in,” Mrs. Berry explained.

She wants a municipal tie-in to the town sewer system for 32,700 gallons per day, but she said the actual flow on most days is about 20,000 gallons.

Back in September, Sean Finicane, owner of Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp, said he needs 31,500 gpd a few months a year.

Mrs. Berry said she has already spent about $500,000 and it would cost an estimated $1.2 million to finish an on-site treatment plant.

Mrs. Berry accuses some selectmen of stalling the issue by relying on delay tactics, including repeatedly citing the need for “another study,” the necessity to “recharge the aquifer,” and the existence of a “sewer moratorium” as fallback excuses.

“I have tried to take each concern of the board and address it and find the quickest and easiest way to get something accomplished,” Mrs. Berry said. “I someday want to strike the word sewer from my vocabulary. Let’s see if this time the rubber meets the road.”

Mr. Brewer’s visit Jan. 26 coincided with Gov. Deval L. Patrick’s announcement that $15.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants and State Revolving Fund financing will be used to upgrade Sturbridge’s 40-year-old wastewater treatment plant from 750,000 gpd to 1.3 million gpd.

Mrs. Berry said selectmen should add Route 15 Special Use District to the comprehensive waste management plan and apply for a permit modification to add about 75,000 gpd to the existing plant to address the immediate concerns.

She said she wants to make them understand how simple this could be and that ultimately, the question being posed to the selectmen, who act as sewer commissioners, is simply, “Do you want to help?”

“How do they think these seniors feel when they are told the town’s got the capacity for us, but they have to hold it for somebody else that may need it down the line? What are we, chopped liver?” Mrs. Berry asked. “We’re not asking for something for nothing. Just give us what we need. It’s available, if you do it right.”

Mrs. Berry has repeatedly offered the town a check for sewer privilege fees totaling $450,000 with hopes of being connected by about 2.5 miles of pipe stretching from Route 131 to Kelly Road. The offer is still on the table, she said.

While Sturbridge Retirement Cooperative Corp. (67 acres) and Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp Resorts (at 75.5 acres) represented the need side of the equation, Gary E. Galonek represents the opportunity side. Owner of Kelly Farm Ltd., which includes three parcels at 17 Kelly and 26 Kelly Road and 90 River Road (74 acres combined), Mr. Galonek has been pushing for infrastructure for 15 years along Old Route 15 with no results.

“The special use district was put in place to be developed,” Mr. Galonek said. “Sturbridge has gotten into the land collection business. We have more land that we don’t tax, that we have no plans for.”

Selectmen Scott A. Garieri and Thomas R. Creamer both agree the town has an obligation to help provide a solution to the sewer woes along Old Route 15.

“This is a neighborhood, a district, however you want to look at it, that’s in need,” Mr. Garieri said. “And it’s our obligation to find out and do everything we can do, not just putting it off because certain factions in town don’t believe Route 15 should be developed.”

“I’m fully prepared to support any municipal solution down there on Route 15,” Mr. Creamer said. “Waiting is no longer an option. We need to do something and we need to do it now.”

Selectman Mary Blanchard, chairwoman of the board, said the board will be able to come to more educated and viable answers to these questions Monday.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette February 6, 2010

Friday, February 5, 2010

Don't Let Cabin Fever Get You Down

Cabin fever got you and the kids on the verge of forming a new Donner Party? Then check out this Winter Activity Guide for Kids at sent in by Tom Chamberland. This site is loaded with lots of ideas, and activities for both you, and the kids.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Need For New Voices

Recently I found some old friends living in my laptop. Facebook has a way of shaking things up, and bringing these old friends up to the surface after being away for so long. I've learned a lot since joining Facebook. One thing I have learned is that no matter where one lives we are all subject to the same things. Family issues. Work problems. Local politics.

Yep. Local politics. Tip O'Neil said that all politics was local. What he did not say was that all local politics is the same, only the address is changed.

And, that is to be expected.

Every community has roads that need repairing, schools that need to be built, landfills that need to be capped, and public servants that need to be paid. Every community also has individuals that feel that more could be done, that too much time is spent on the the "drama", and not enough on action, and that their community has become divided.

Sturbridge, we are not alone.

When I found out that Dori was running for selectman's office in Stoughton, I smiled and said to myself, "The more things change, the more things stay the same". She never could sit and watch. She liked to be involved. One can only take so much, before one chooses to act at a particular level.

I guess Dori has had her fill, and is going for it.

I wonder who, in Sturbridge, will step up this year, and run for selectman? Will we hear from a frustrated, new voice here in town as Stoughton has?

I hope so. Every chorus needs new voices.