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

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Public Notice About Local Construction Projects

"A.F. Amorello and Sons is scheduled to begin work on Route 131 for Mass. Highway during the week of April 12, 2010. Please allow additional time to negotiate the work zone while the area is under construction. Scheduled completion for Route 131 is March 2012.


Ludlow Construction is scheduled to begin work on the Route 20 Technology Park industrial area water line during the week of April 5, 2010. Scheduled completion is by this fall.


Thank you for your patience."


Received via email from the Town of Sturbridge March 31, 2010.--ed.

Monday, March 29, 2010

In Case You Were Wondering Where The Trees Went

Imagine our surprise when Mary and I rode down Route 20 toward Brimfield the other day, and saw there was now a view of Long Pond on the right side of the road. The trees alongside Route 20, and the access road to the parking lot and boat ramp were all gone.

Wow.

I have written about taking down the trees along side of the road here, and on Cedar Lake at the intersection of Route 131 and 20 to expose the wonderful views long hidden by pines. Now it looks like someone was listening.

The more I thought about it, the more I knew that whatever the reason for taking down the trees it was not because I thought it was a great idea. So, I wrote to the one man I knew who would have the answer, Tom Chamberland. Tom is the perfect person to ask a tree question of since he has been the towns Tree Warden for some time, and he is also a Park Ranger with the Army Corps of Engineers. It is on their land that the trees were taken down.

Tom wrote back, but the answer he gave was not what I was expecting. He did agree that a side benefit of the tree removal was a view of the lake, but that was not the reason the trees were taken down. They were removed to give better visibility of the access road, and boat ramp from Route 20. Not the view I would have chosen to highlight, but this time it was for security reasons, not for scenic reasons.

The visibility is now unobstructed down to the water, and this increases the security of the area. Before, the trees completely blocked the view, and that led to activities frowned on by the Corp of Engineers.

Well, whatever the reason, it is great. A hidden treasure is now exposed for the motorist to view. We seem to hide our treasures with trees, and not respect the view. I know that trees are important for a variety of reasons, one being securing an embankment, and preventing erosion along road, and waterways, but the great views are important as well. We should not hide them.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Holy #$%@!

Nothing I could write could come close to this. I have a great imagination, but even I was in awe when I read this article. I wasn't so much in awe that a particular person said the things alluded to, but that he was outed by those he said them to. That is awesome.

In the immortal words of Dee Snider, "We're not going to take it anymore!"

If the allegations are true, as described below, then there is only one recourse in this case, and apologies are best offered before saying good-bye.


Article published March 28, 2010 by the Telegram & Gazette

#&@%! were not deleted
Heated exchanges at panel meetings

By Craig S. Semon TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

STURBRIDGE — “Shut your (expletive) mouth.” “You are such a piece of (expletive)” “You are dirty. … You’re a whore.”

No, these are not lines taken from an episode of “The Sopranos,” but heated verbal exchanges during two separate meetings of the Town Administrator Search Committee.

And now committee members Carol A. Childress and Linda N. Cocalis are taking fellow member Selectman Scott A. Garieri to task. The two women waited until the executive meeting minutes were released last week because they said they didn’t want to affect the process.

In executive session Jan. 6, there was a difference of opinion about how to re-evaluate the 65 applicants for the town administrator position. This sparked Ms. Childress to say to Mr. Garieri that if he didn’t have the time to commit to the committee, maybe he should resign. According to Ms. Childress and Ms. Cocalis, Mr. Garieri shouted back, “Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion.”

“I was shocked. He was physically angry. He was red-faced. His eyes were bulging,” Ms. Childress recalled. “It was shocking and I think we were all shocked by it. And I didn’t have a response.”

“That’s somebody saying, you don’t matter. You don’t exist and your opinion doesn’t mean anything to anyone else,” Ms. Cocalis added. “That’s wrong, because everybody’s opinion should count and everyone should have an opportunity to speak without feeling intimidated or insulted.”

Mr. Garieri said in a telephone interview last week that he probably did say, “Shut your (expletive) mouth. Nobody cares about your opinion,” but he added that his words were taken out of context and that Ms. Childress was “mouthing off” about something else that had nothing to do with what the committee was talking about.

From that point on, Ms. Childress said she was going to the search committee meeting with trepidation about what was going to happen next.

During open session Feb. 2, Mr. Garieri chastised Ms. Childress for deviating from the approved questions during the second round of town administrator candidates’ interviews.

“The chairman, James Ehrhard, stated at the beginning of the interview process, that he wanted there to be flexibility,” Ms. Childress said. “So we all felt pretty much at ease asking our approved questions and our unapproved questions, whatever they may be.”

Furthermore, at the Jan. 6 meeting, Mr. Garieri said it was “embarrassing” and “unprofessional” that Ms. Cocalis would ask several questions then follow it with “just kidding.”

Last week, Mr. Garieri stood by these statements.

“I was shocked. And it started to make me feel that it was a handicap that I had,” Ms. Cocalis said. “I started to second-guess how I spoke to people. It made me self-conscious.”

“That was a totally involuntary thing that she did,” Ms. Childress added. “It’s innate. It’s who she is.”

In the minutes, which Ms. Childress was taking, she wrote that Mr. Garieri’s statements “not only unfairly singled out” Ms. Cocalis and herself, but that his objections are “patently false and can be considered unconstructive, bordering on personal attacks.”

“I think he called the process into question,” Ms. Childress said. “It wasn’t just me. It was calling into question the entire process and how the interview process took place. So I took exception to that. It was a personal attack.”

When the discussion became heated between the two Feb. 2, Mr. Garieri said, “Anyone want to keep this thing in order?” gesturing to Ms. Childress.

Taking offense, Ms. Childress countered, “Don’t refer to me like that. Don’t you call me a thing. Who do you think you are?”

Mr. Garieri responded, “I was being polite.”

Ms. Childress said to Mr. Garieri, “You are such a piece of (expletive). … You are. You’re such a piece of (expletive). Who do you think you are?”

Ms. Childress said, “You just make me feel dirty whenever I am around you,” in which Mr. Garieri responded, “You are dirty. …You’re a whore.”

“It was just nasty this whole thing that he did with singling us out,” Ms. Childress said. “I regret that I handled his attack that way, but I was feeling pretty attacked being called a thing,” she said.

Mr. Garieri said “this thing” was referring to “this meeting”. As for saying “You are dirty…You’re a whore,” Mr. Garieri said “I don’t recall the whore part of it, but I might have said you are dirty.”

Ms. Childress said she has certain expectations of public officials and that she doesn’t think anyone should be treated the way she was treated. But she is not looking for a reprimand or an apology, because, she said, that is a decision the town should make.

“I don’t owe her an explanation,” Mr. Garieri said. “I’m not even going to give her the benefit of commenting on her idiocies that she just goes off on. All she’s looking for is attention, and she’s not getting it from me. Whatever I said I stand behind and that’s that.”

Ms. Cocalis, however, thinks Mr. Garieri owes an apology to the search committee, the selectmen and the town of Sturbridge.


Copyright 2010 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.

Comments closed. I think we've said all we can with this one. Mass. has a law against beating dead horses, too.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Vote, Vote For Me, Vote, Vote, Vote For Me, Vote, Vote...Vote

Last year there was over 70 election signs between Route 148, and New Boston Road. For those like me, with dramatic short term memory loss, this was a God send.

"Oh, look, Honey, Tom Creamer is running for selectman."

"Yes. He is"

Pause for 1/10th of a mile.

"Oh, look, Honey, Tom Creamer is running for selectman."

"(sigh)"

You get the point.

This year it is much better. Not as many signs as last year, but still there is a bit of overkill. Nothing that would detract from the candidates character, but it is an awful like being annoyed into voting a particular way.

Not sure about you, but I have a tendency to vote the underdog, and here in Sturbridge, that sometimes means the one with the least number of election signs.

Sometimes less says more.

To better understand what it is like to be badgered by countless signs, I offer this cartoon analogy.

I love cartoon analogies.



Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Memories On The Windowsill

For the past couple of weeks we have been playing "Catch the Ladybug" here on Brookfield Road. Seems that a whole bunch of them snuck into the house last year (and the year before), and after sleeping all winter long in some nook, or cranny, they've woken up. Now, they are walking, and flitting about everywhere, mostly walking up and down the windowsill looking for an exit.

Not a problem. I just scoop up the ones I can, and fling them out the door, or the window. They don't eat much, and besides driving the cats buggy, they are harmless.

Yesterday, as I releasing a few Ladybugs, I remembered that the official insect of Massachusetts is the Ladybug, which is kinda neat in itself, but what makes this even neater is that my daughter, Micaela, actually had a hand in making that possible. Her second grade class was responsible for petitioning the legislature under the direction of their teacher, Ms. Pamela Johnson. That petition became House Bill H.5155, and after a period of time, became law.

Now, this all occurred in the early '90's. Mic is now 23 years old, and graduated from Salem State last May. I still flash back to her standing on the State House steps in her Ladybug outfit every time I capture one of her red and black friends.

As parents we all have a million, and one things that remind us of our children from some moment in time. I have one million and two...er, three,
four, five, six... . As long as these Ladybugs keep appearing on the windowsill I'll keep adding to the memories.

Nothing wrong with that.





Monday, March 22, 2010

It's All About Preparation, And Presentation

I believe in preparation. Basic preparation says a lot about a business, and if not done, it speaks even louder.

I also believe that if ones job is to do a particular thing, then you had better do it very well, otherwise, find a new line of work. This is especially true if you are performing a service for me, the consumer.

It's just that simple.

Also, one should not rush to get out a product, or service to the consumer. Take ones time, get it right, prepare, and then go for it.

It is all about presentation of an awesome product. A product that will speak for itself.

We experienced product presentation this past week, but the presentation was off. First of all, someone could have taken the time to at least wash the windows, and pick up the large shards of broken glass outside in front of one of those dirty windows.

Petty? No, this is a big deal. Keep in mind everything will speak about the business, and the product.

My product itself needed a do-over. I have only done that one, or two times, before in my life, but well done is well done, and rare is what it is.

I am glad I don't make a living reviewing shows or restaurants. I don't know jack about fine cuisine, and I don't watch the Food Network religiously, but I do have a particular power that is unmatched: I am a consumer, and I like what I like. I may not always like a particular scene at a show, or the particular course at a restaurant, but I know about effort, and the how to judge the entire package.

This past week I can say the "package" we experienced needed some work. The presentation needs to be worked on, and the product, although fantastic after the re-do, is something that should never, ever occur in this business, and if it does, especially when the business is trying to win local hearts and stomachs, then they just don't care enough.

We will return. I won't let an off night steer us away from an obvious wonderful addition to our town, but I want people to be sharp, on their toes, and take pride in ownership when selling their product.

They need to keep in mind that they are exchanging their product for my money. They don't expect bad bills from me, and I expect the best from them.

Everyone deserves another look, and we will. In the meantime, others will check them out, and hopefully have a wonderful experience.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Message From Candidate James Ehrhard

I am happy to report that the great weather this weekend allowed me to make significant progress towards my goal of going to 1000 houses before election day. I have now gone to over 500 houses (including businesses) so far, specifically 511. You can see a small manifestation of this door-to-door campaign all over town. Those yard signs on the main roads and small back roads did not just appear at those sites, in practically every case I personally spoke with the landowner.

A couple of very positive trends have appeared during my door-to-door activities. First, I have nearly 100% name recognition among likely voters in town. Second, every likely voter seems to know my positions on issues when they greet me at their door. They know I am, and have been, talking about property taxes and focused development for quite some time now. Many agree with me, some of course do not. But they all agree something needs to be done to find other revenue streams and they all seem to agree that I have a passion for finding a solution.

A happy surprise to me is how much more fun going door-to-door (to-door-to-door-to-door....) is than I thought it would be. I have met some of the most interesting people doing this and have had some conversations I will never forget. I am very thankful for the opportunity this election is giving me. The police even appear, at this point, to be ignoring my black sedan making random u-turns and start-and-stops in the middle of the road looking for an address - let's hope THAT trend continues.

I know that 511 is not 1000. But progress is being made.

Regards,

James

Ehrhard for Selectman
7 Meadow View Lane
Sturbridge, MA 01518
www.jamesehrhard.comvote@jamesehrhard.com
tel: 508.344.1977

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sharing Memories Of The Village


























by Raoul and Marilyn Desy

We thought you might like this September 18, 1894 picture of what was at the time one of the Allen houses in Fiskdale. Now it's Rovezzi's Restaurant. I think I can name a few of the people in the picture of the house which is now Rovezzi's. On the back of the picture is the name Alice A. George. Alice Annie George married William Aldrrich Allen, who I suspect is the younger man in the photograph. Standing next to him, I'm guessing is "Grandpa" Allen (William Liberty Allen). They were wonderful people.

The old house in the picture, is now known as Rovezzi's Restaurant in Fiskdale. Written on the back of the picture is "Alice Annie George, 1894." She was my dearest friend many, many years later (beginning when she was about 80 years old and I was only 8). Alice and her family lived in the house pictured here. I suspect that the two men in the center front of the photograph are William Liberty Allen and his son William Aldrich Allen. The older woman in the picture must be Alice's mother, as she looks like Alice did when she grew older. I am not sure which young lady is Alice. She wasn't very tall, so I'm thinking that she must be the shortest of the women on the right.


When Alice was a young girl, she and her sister Minnie went to North Dakota homesteading with their parents, and it was so cold that the water bucket in the kitchen would be frozen solid when they got up in the morning. I guess they didn't stay too long, because here they are in the picture.


The Allen family lived in the first house after Cartier's corner, where Old Stagecoach Road is today. The house burned a couple years ago, but the original little section on the end is still there with a new house on the old foundation.


Alice eventually married William Aldrich Allen, quite a smart young man, who spoke beautiful French for a Yankee, and who was the pharmacist at Blackington's Drug Store (Blackington Building, Fiskdale). He was promised that Alice would always get her heart medicine (Digitalis) at the price of 50 cents. After Will (William Aldrich Allen) died and the pharmacy had changed hands a couple times or more, I (about 12 years old or so) went down with 50 cents in my hand to pick up Alice's medicine - but the bill on the package was much more than 50 cents. I told the new pharmacy owner of the promise to Will by Mr. Blackington, and he explained that he couldn't afford to honor that promise...and that he would have to raise the price...and then he said, he could do it for 65 cents! Still a good deal, don't you think?


Alice, who now lived alone, and I used to sit under the big maple tree on her lawn and read aloud to each other. When there were food scraps to be discarded, I learned to carry them out to the edge of the woods in a tin pan and bang on the pan to call the wild animals to their lunch. It was so nice to be at Mrs. Allen's...


Thank you, Raoul and Marilyn for sharing your memories with us.---ed.




Finally, They Are Beginning To Work Together



I just performed CPR on myself.

No. Not really, but almost, and I still might.

I was reading in the newspaper, the Sturbridge Villager, an article entitled, "It's down to details on tourist plan" "Planners Discuss Implementation", and the article went on to tell about the Commercial/Tourist District Revitalization Plan. The plan is designed to "improve the aesthetics and accessibility to the downtown area along Route 20 from the intersection of Brookfield Road to Cedar Street", so wrote Christopher Tanguay, a Villager staff writer.

By George, I think they've got it!!

After writing about the very same thing for over two
years, it was like a scene out of the Twilight Zone seeing those words in print, and they were not being put there by me.

To be completely fair, so many folks over the years have thought the same way, I can't lay claim to the idea, but after writing about it for so long it sort of becomes like one of your own.

I read further on that one goal of the Planning Board is to "attempt to address this year is the desire to create a 'physical and conceptual connection between the commercial/Tourist District and the Quinebaug River' ".

An actual connection between Route 20 and the river? Like, maybe a walkway from Route 20 to the river, and a footbridge to the other side of the river? The article mentioned the south side of the river having the better access. Hmmm. I like it. It would be like tying our commercial part of town, to the beautiful, natural part of town.

It's about time. I really like deja vu.

It was if the reporter for the Villager had been rummaging around inside my head, and writing things down as he found them lying around instead of attending a meeting.

The article went on to mention the walkability of the area, and installing crosswalks, median, and a concentration on pedestrian safety. The article concluded with mention of the industrial area at the intersection of Holland Road and Route 20 being up for sale and several parties being interested in it's development.

At that point, I finished the article, put down the paper, sat back in my chair and grinned. I grinned so hard I scared the bejeepers out of the cats.

A couple of things are at play here, either more folks are finally seeing the possibilities that our town has to offer under the right leadership all by themselves, or they have been reading this page, and taking darn good notes.

I want to believe it's the latter, but I know it is the former. Either way, one must give credit to the Planning Board here in town for working on, and completing the Commercial / Tourist District Revitalization Plan with the Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission.

Chairman of the Planning Board, Sandra Gibson-Quigley also had a great idea for forming a sub-committee with the Trials Committee to explore the ways a connection could be made between the Tourist District, and the Quinebaug River. The Town Planner, Jean Bubon suggested including members of the Conservation Commission, and local businesses on that committee, too.

Planning Board member, Russ Chamberland, offered advise on the best location for a river walk, and the organization, Merchants of Sturbridge intends to survey businesses about possibly using private parking for municipal parking after hours.

(sigh) It looks like that jumble of ducks we have been seeing for some time here in town, as we tried to get our act together, has finally lined up in a row. It's a very good start.

Now, all we need is the leadership to get them moving, and keep them moving.












Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Uncovering Our Local History


There is a wonderful, old wooden cabinet at the Joshua Hyde Library way in the back on the main floor. Inside this piece of furniture are stacks of old photographs, and folders of information about our town. The folders are filled with personal histories, and histories written by different people here in town over the years.

This wooden treasure chest contains an entire afternoons worth of flipping through, perusing, and for those of you that grew up here in town, memories.

I strongly suggest you to check out this cabinet.

There is much more Sturbridge history at the library. Much of it is in a special area that requires permission to view, but well worth it "poppin' the question, "Can I go up in the balcony?"

Other places that hold much many more memories, and history of our town, and the area, is our homes. Up in that old trunk in the attic, in a overstuffed kitchen drawer, or an old desk are the photographs, albums, scrapbooks, and shoe boxes full of letters that document our towns existence. You may not have looked at your archives in many years, or only heard about them from your grandparents, or parents, but it's time togo and take a look. Otherwise, where does the history go? Is it still history if it not shared, and sits hidden away? Well, yes, just ask King Tut, but its just not the same. The neat thing about history is sharing it, and relating it to ourselves today.

History is to be learned from. History is there to make our todays better. History offers us the rights, and wrongs of yesterday to learn from, and a chance to have a "do over" today. History also offers so much more than the stated obvious. It offers us a road map of our journey on this rock. Super highway road map history of the world, or the trip-tix version of our local history, it's still a map of where we have been, and where we may go at the next fork.

It is good to share that past with the present. It's one way to insure, or at least guide us, as we meander along.

Another thing it does is connect our today with a today of long ago. No particular scholarly reason needed for that connection, it's just nice to view photographs of familiar places, and see others enjoying them as we do today.

So, here is your homework assignment: go ransack your attic and find your history, and if you find something you would like to share, please send it along.

Here is your chance to be the teacher.


Photo: Main Street in Fiskdale




Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Annual Trail Work Day is April 17th





The Sturbridge Trails Committee will be conducting the annual spring trail work day on Saturday April 17, 2010. Registration opens at 8:30 with work from 9:00 – 12:00.

Volunteers are requested to help in trail construction, vegetation trimming, cleanup and invasive plant removal.
This work day will concentrate on the completion of the Heins Farm Trails. Specific work to be accomplished includes removal of trip hazards, gravel placement, spring cleanup, general trail improvements and repairs.

Come and spend some quality time with good people while improving your community and maybe get a little exercise! All abilities are welcome, our volunteers do what they are comfortable with only.

Small utility tractors and trailers are needed for fine gravel placement on trails.
Do you have a neighbor with a tractor / skid loader? Give them a call and tell them we could use their help!

Meet at the Heins Farm / Leadmine Mountain trail head parking lot, 197 Leadmine Rd. The parking lot is located approximately ¼ mile South of the intersection of Stallion Hill and Douty Rd.

Work gloves, hand tools and sturdy shoes are encouraged.

For more information contact Randy Redetzke (rredet@charter.net) or Tom Chamberland (tchamberland@town.sturbridge.ma.us).

Submitted by the Sturbridge Trails Committee

Monday, March 15, 2010

Hey Kids, Let's Form A Committee!!



Let's read the papers!

This week I read in the local newspaper that local officials are trying to simplify the management of the public land here in Sturbridge.
S'about time. Always seemed a bit overdone with all the hands in the mix.

The Conservation Commission, the Public Lands Advisory Committee, the Trails Committee, the Squirrel 'n Nut Foundation, all overlap their duties. Redundancy at its best, and small towns are usually so much better at avoiding redundancy, that is something the Federal Government handles very well.

Problem was, and still is, that so much has happened with land acquisition, and land use in the past ten years that as the town moved in different directions, and a new committee was thought to be needed when one was already in place to take care of any issues.

Some members of the Conservation Committee are worried that some of their official duties are being taken over by newly formed committees and boards. There is a problem when that occurs. New committees are formed for new reasons, and their purposes cannot overlap existing committee duties unless so designed.

Seems it happened here in town a few times.

Another thing that has happened is with the establishment of new committees, their duties, and actions violated state law. The Trails Committee apparently did things that were not in keeping with the law. Although the newspaper does not specifically state what the violation was, it does mention that those on the Trails Committee noted that the episode was a "lesson learned"", and that it was a "lack of knowledge of the appropriate laws that got us into trouble".

Things like this are not done on purpose. It is usually due to enthusiasm, and lack of knowledge. A bad combination for most things, but without the proper leadership, and proper direction, committees are formed at the drop of a hat instead of assigning additional duties to boards and committees already in place. Selectman Tom Creamer stated that this may have been an error on the part of the town. Things should have been looked at more closely.

It happens.

The best part is those in positions to recognize that changes needs to occur are doing just that. Erin Jacques , conservation agent, has designed a "chain of command" in regards to open space in the form of a flow chart. Those in power also recognized the positive things various committees have brought like the successful "Trail Days" put on by the Trails Committee.

Well, the first part of correcting mistakes is recognizing them, and owning them. Looks like that has been done. Next comes developing a course of action, and that will come on May 10th when the Public Lands Advisory Committee meets with the Board of Selectmen.

This is great, but a part of me expects a new committee to be formed to look into the matter.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hmmm, Looks Familiar...



Where was this photo taken?

Normally a comment would be posted in the comment section, but this morning I have an excellent comment from some anonymous source that is well worth giving the stage to.--ed.

"That's the old fire station at Cartier's Corner in Fiskdale. The fire chief, Mr. Cartier, and then the next fire chief, Steve Szumilas, lived right across the street. The old fire station, still in the same location, now houses the dance studio at the beginning of Route 148. The house was moved up to School St. and is a two story white house with black trim. (At least I think it's still that color, just as it was in the 1950's.) Then the intersection of Routes 20 and 148 was done over and the traffic lights were installed. (When the house was located at Cartier's corner, there was a road behind the house, which one could use to "short-cut" between 20 and 148 rather than use the other intersection which had just a stop sign at the time.) When Mrs. Szumilas lived in that house with the old intersection in front and the old short-cut in the back she used to say that the traffic was frightening. Oh, the memories of nice old folks now gone to their eternal reward..." -- Anonymous

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Short And Sweet

We went to the new restaurant, Playa del Carmen, at the site of the old Rom's, on Tuesday night.

Here is my review.

  • The decor is Mexican.
  • The staff are incredibly good at attending to you.
  • The food is excellent.
  • The food is way over priced.
  • There are no clocks in the kitchen. It took over 35 minutes for a taco salad ($9.50), and fajitas for two ($27.50) to arrive at our table.

First week in business, and things are still being worked out, I understand, and I imagine they will work out those things quickly.

Give it a try.

★★★☆☆


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Statement of Support

Another NEW Feature!

Starting today if you would like to submit a short statement of support for a local particular candidate, you CAN!

There are a few things to keep in mind, however. First of all, submit your short statement of support to aroundstubridge@gmail.com, and include you name. This isn't "Commentville" where any old name, or being anonymous will do. This is to show your support for a particular candidate, and there is no reason you should not want your name posted with your comment. Of course, unless you are married to the opposing candidate. Then my prayers are with you.

I am also going to deactivate the comment portion of the posting. We already know how you feel, and you left your name, if someone else wants to support another candidate they can use their name and submit their statement in the same way.

Today's Statement of Support:

March 9, 2010

Dear Editor:

Please accept this letter of endorsement for Mary B. Dowling for Sturbridge Selectperson. In the March 9th SEN announcing Mrs. Dowling’s candidacy, a couple paragraphs stand out: ‘Even on probably the most general, yet poignant, debate in Sturbridge – that of growth versus anti-growth – Dowling said the issues should not be viewed in such a black and white way. “We should not be divided on one versus the other,” she said. “I like to say that I’m pro-Sturbridge, recognizing the needs of the business community and residents.” “In order to maintain the quality of services we’ve come to expect in our town, we need some sustainable growth,” Dowling said. “As services become more and more expensive we need some way to offset the cost of those services.”’

I concur with Mrs. Dowling’s statements above. The result of spending eight years doing conservation-related land acquisitions in south-central Massachusetts taught me that one of the most affordable, winning approaches to problem-solving complex transactions was by aiming toward a win/win situation for all concerned parties, by finding a way to meld development with conservation. Thus, I believe balance can be achieved if everyone focuses on what’s best for all residents in the town of Sturbridge. An open, objective mind that considers all options and all residents is what the town sorely needs right now. Please vote for Mary B. Dowling for Board of Selectmen.

Sincerely,

Carol Childress

Sturbridge resident


Monday, March 8, 2010

Time To Decompress, Recharge, and Make Memories

We took off for the weekend a little early this year. It was long overdue.

Usually, Mary and I head up to Maine for a long weekend in May, but this year Cape Cod was calling. The Cape is a place that both of us have experienced many times during our lives, and has so many memories for each of us. Strange thing is we have only been there, together, once in the past five years.

I realized that this weekend, and I think I know why. For most of my adult life the Cape has been one of those places that not only was fun to explore, but a place to go for healing and reflection as well. It is also a place to share. Well, since Mary and I have been together, there was no need for reflection, and healing, and we have found many other places to explore. I think it was the sharing part that finally came into play, and sometimes that takes longer to be able to do that.

As a teenager, the Cape was a great place to build memories. Many other memories came over the years, and it was nice to share the memory of those places with Mary this weekend. It was a long time in coming.

One thing that I noticed as I searched for those memory places was just how much the Cape has changed. Maybe they were little changes each year, but for someone that has not been there in a long time those little changes have a way of filling a bucket. The landscape, the coastline, buildings, and roads have all had their share of change over time. Just enough of a difference to remove the past from the present, and although it is a bit anti-nostalgic, it is a great way to have new experiences without the hindrances of the past.

Today, I have many great, new memories.

We gotta do this more often.

Photo: Coast Guard Beach, National Seashore, Cape Cod


Grand Opening For Playa Del Carmen March 12


The Chamber at the Crossroads of New England Announces




Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Playa Del Carmen

March 12, 2010

"A new tradition for family dining officially begins this week at the former location of Rom’s on Main Street in Sturbridge. All are invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official grand opening of Playa Del Carmen, a Mexican family restaurant and cantina. Specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine, Carmen Del Playa will feature over 50 types of tequila and a live Mariachi band every Sunday night. Owners Carmen Scaffidi and her husband, Jorge Guzman, are dedicated to establishing a family restaurant that offers the freshest food, good prices and great service. Fresh guacamole prepared tableside, memorable margaritas, palm trees, and authentic Mexican furnishings are just a few of the touches that will make Playa Del Carmen a special place for the whole family to dine out.

“We had to wait so long to be open but the wait was worth it,” says Carmen referring to the months of work that went into renovating the 14,000 square foot building. There have already been a number of people who couldn’t wait for the official opening to experience Playa Del Carmen as evidenced by a parking lot full of cars seen there over the last several days. The restaurant held its soft opening on Thursday, March 4. “We would like to say ‘thank you’ to the community for their support.”

Experience a taste of Mexico and join us for a ribbon cutting ceremony as we celebrate Playa Del Carmen’s official Grand Opening on Friday, March 12 at 4:00pm. Following the ribbon cutting there will be a reception with complimentary appetizers and a cash bar available. Ribbon cutting ceremony is presented by
the Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce."

Submitted by:

Jack Starkey

Communications

Central Mass South - The Chamber at the Crossroads of New England
Sturbridge Area Tourist Association
380 Main Street
Sturbridge, MA 01566-1058
(v) 508-347-2761
(f) 508-347-5218

Jack_Starkey@cmschamber.org
www.cmschamber.org
www.sturbridgetownships.com


Photo Credit: T&G Staff Photos/TOM RETTIG

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Morning Political Primer

Ever wonder what would happen if some prankster was in the crowd at the Westminster Dog show with a dog whistle? Imagine all those ears perked up. Their attention thrown elsewhere, and not at the work at hand. Suddenly, there would be all this excitement in the ring. Dogs barking, pulling on leashes, all trying to answer the call of whistle at once.

That is the scene I see when I post something with the slightest political slant to it. It is as if someone blew the dog whistle. I may post an article about making over the down town area, burying utility lines, building a new boat ramp, and get few , if any comments, but if anything political mentioned people get passionate.

I think people forget that here in America we are the government. Not the politicians. We choose them to represent us. In Sturbridge we don't have a venue large enough to hold 8000 people, so we elect representatives, and hold meetings in smaller, more controlled places.

Just makes a whole lot of sense.

Those politicians are not our rulers, they are only us. They represent our thoughts, ideas, desires for our town. We choose those to that representative position based on their intelligence, knowledge, compassion for the people, and our town, and skills they may posses.

But, based on all that, we still get very passionate when politics is spoken. It is as if folks can become passionate about a candidate, but that's where it ends. Support their election, talk them up to friends and family, but after the votes are counted, they are on their own. Not much input from the supporters after that. Sadly, most elected feel that that's where the relationship should end, too.

We seem to actually elect people to office and then just hope for the best without sharing our thoughts and ideas for improvements with those that we elected. Oh, we may bitch to our neighbors, or down at the coffee shop, and maybe the rare person write to the editor, but that's it.

It also seems that we have taken this whole election to office thing down to the very bare essentials. We pick someone we "like", and then hope they are strong enough , loud enough, smart enough to make our lives better. Then, we sit back, crack open a beer, and say "Good luck with that.", and hope for the best.

Kinda silly isn't it?

So, for the benefit of those that are new to our country I will 'splain things for you.

For the reason of not having enough space to house 8000 people, and the good chance everyone will be talking at once, we choose only a few specific people to represent us. We choose people that can make good decisions on our behalf based on their knowledge, skills, and common sense.

We, give input to these elected people as to our desires. They, in turn, will take it under advisement, perform some due diligence, and determine if the desire is doable.

Of course, there are many other things they do as well, such as the actual running of the town in concert with the Town Administrator, but one thing they are not, and that is our rulers. They aren't the emperor, the king, the duke, or the Queen of Gaflinkadink.

They are only us.

The only difference is that the candidate has walked out their front door, stuck a sign in the lawn, and put themselves out there for us to examine, and decide if they should hold office. No matter who that is, it is a brave thing to do.

If we feel that no one is worth being elected, and if we have more experience, knowledge, and skills, then we should consider running ourselves. Otherwise, we must let the "best" candidate, in our eyes, know exactly what we feel the town needs, and then choose the candidate most responsive. If we elect them and they prove to be ineffective, then next time we don't choose them.

Pretty simple really.

In the meantime, keep the passion you display before the election going strong. That same feeling will be needed to guide the official along, to sort of "tug on the leash" when he, or she, steps out of bounds, and to recognize and praise them when things go well.

Don't be the nut with the dog whistle.




Friday, March 5, 2010

So There. Nyah.

After months of arguing with the RMV about the move of the Registry office from Southbridge to the Charlton rest stop on the Mass Pike, two things have come to light over the past week or so. These things should cause not only those of us that live out this way to raise an eyebrow, but also cause those at the Statehouse to raise the other one.

At a recent meeting with RMV officials, and RMV Registrar Rachael Kaprielian, local folks again spoke about how unsafe the move was to the rest area on the Pike. It was a very long walk to the RMV office, and traffic in and around that long walk was dangerous to those making the trip. They also made mention of how unsafe it was coming in off of Route 20, and leaving the lot onto Route 20.

This has all been said before. The RMV has heard it all before. This time they sat, and listened until the end, and then told the audience they had a solution they would implement. They were going to close the parking lot off of Route 20, and the only access to the RMV would be eastbound from the Turnpike, and the only way out would be eastbound along the Turnpike.

I'm sorry, come again?

The RMV wants to close a parking lot they have no jurisdiction over. A parking lot that is used by employees of the rest area to park in, deliveries to be made to the stores, and more recently, for customers of the the RMV to use.

When Ms. Kaprielian made the statement it was not so much an announcement of a plan of action, but rather an attempt to shut the opposition up once and for all. You want to keep complaining about how unsafe it is in the parking lot, and coming and going from Route 20, fine, she has a plan:

She is offering an RMV, a Registry of Motor Vehicles office, with no parking for motor vehicles.

Unless, of course, one wanted to drive their motor vehicle onto the turnpike, pay the toll, go to the RMV, get back on the turnpike, get off, pay an other toll, and then turn around and repeat it all over agin just to get back home. Might as well use the RMV in Worcester. Hmm, maybe that's what she wants. Naw.

I wasn't there that night she made the statement, but I believe it got kinda quiet after she made that ludicrous statement.

Just the way she wanted it. It is as if she is saying, "You keep harassing me about moving the RMV, and I will not only not listen to any concerns from anybody, but I will make it even harder to use the RMV."

'Cuz I can. So there. Nyah.

That is how it will be under my watch, a RMV that is unresponsive, and hard to use. Go online if you want convenience.

Now, the other thing that was revealed recently was the fact there was no "sign off" by the State Police as to the safety of the Charlton site as Ms. Kaprielian has stated ad nauseum.

None.

It is obvious that there are issues to deal with here, the least of which is the relocation of the RMV, and safety surrounding the site.

The issue is much larger.




Photo: Rachael Kaprielian, Registrar RMV.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

It Begins Now

It begins now.

The temperature may be a few degrees higher for a little bit longer each day. The sun is in the sky longer. The ground gives a bit underfoot, and the wet soil has a certain aroma that is unmistakable. Tips of crocuses are revealing themselves. Some are fully open. The buds on some trees are fatter than they were two weeks ago.

Sound carries differently. Snow banks are nearly gone, and don't absorb the voices of the kids waiting at the bus stop in the morning anymore. Giggles, and Bye, Mom's are heard clearer, and louder than in January. The cloud ceiling isn't as low. Sound isn't muffled anymore beneath low gray clouds, but floats up, and beyond the neighborhood now.

We begin to take our time outside. We don't rush to the trash barrel as we did four weeks ago. We saunter. We may even pause along the way, and listen. We will take a deep breath in, smell the dirt, and reach over to feel just how fat the lilac buds have become.

Open the back door, go outside. Feel it.

It begins now.


Photo: Stream on the Leadmine Mountain land.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trail Committee To Host Program On Trail Design and Construction

Sturbridge: The Grand Trunk Trail Blazers in partnership with the Town of Sturbridge Trail Committee and Public Lands Advisory Committee are hosting a guided trail walk on Saturday April 10th, 1 PM at the Westville Lake Park, 115 Wallace Rd. The walk will be conducted by U S Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger and local trail expert Tom Chamberland. Tom serves as Corps of Engineers North Atlantic Division's regional trail expert, and is certified in the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) by American Trails. He has been involved in designing and building trails for some 10 years, and has consulted with the Federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the costs of adoption of federal standards in building accessible trails. Tom serves as the Corps of Engineers representative on the National Trails Training Partnership program (NTTP) which is an advisory board of American Trails and is a member of the National Water Trails advisory group. He has participated in several Professional Trail Builders Conferences, and attended 2 National Trails Symposiums. Locally he has served as the Corps representative on the development of the Grand Trunk Trail/Titanic Rail Trail regional trail committee and has recently become a member of the Central Mass Regional Planning Agency’s advisory task force to create a regional Bicycle and Pedestrian plan.

Tom will lead a walk that will cover the 1.8 mile Federal Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) compliant Westville Lake Community Trail system. Participants will see first hand the various techniques and materials used to construct this accessible trail. Topics to be covered are lessons learned in good trail design and layout along with the Federal Forest Service's universal trail design standards. Participants will also get to experience various trail surface materials, grade, slope, bridge design and drainage, as well as sustainable trail design and construction techniques for multiple as well as single use trails as they are being designed and built at the Westville Lake Project. Signage, the Corps volunteer trail maintenance program, multiple use conflict management, and vandalism control/prevention will also be discussed. In short, if you ever wanted to know anything about trails, this is the "hands on" presentation to attend. The walk will be held on Saturday, April 10th at 1 PM and last approximately 3 Hours. Rain date will be Sunday, April 11th. The walk will start at the trail head parking lot located just outside the Westville Lake Park at 115 Wallace Rd. Dress for the weather and wear comfortable hiking shoes. Trail surfaces may be soft depending on recent weather/spring time conditions. Trail Access Information (TAI) is posted in the trail head kiosks located at 1115 Wallace Rd in Sturbridge and 200 Marjorie Lane in Southbridge. TAI is also available on line at: http://www.trailexplorer.org/tew/trailDetail.cfm?ID=814

The Sturbridge Trail committee has recently undertaken a project to develop a town wide trail master plan. Many of the sustainable trail design techniques used by the Corps will be considered as a part of this master plan. A discussion of the current status of the master plan process will be held at the end of the hike. The Grand Trunk Trail/Titanic Rail trail is being designed and constructed to meet the not only the Federal ABA accessibility standards, but also sustainable multiple use design criteria. If you have any interest in any of the local ongoing trail initiatives, what it means to build a sustainable trail, universal access, or have any other concerns or trail related questions this is the presentation to attend. For more information on the regional trail initiative contact President Pat McGarrah of Grand Trunk Trail Blazers at:pat.mcgarrah@charter.net or to become involved with the Town of Sturbridge Trail initiatives contact Randy Redetzke, Chair Sturbridge Trail Comm at: rredet@charter.net .

Submitted by Tom Chamberland

Spread The Word

r-word.org

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Sure Beats 420 Beaverbutt Lane

I'm all excited.

Doesn't take much come March. I've been housebound since November. If the person delivering our mail waves to me I get goose bumps.

But, I am all a-quiver about a new restaurant coming to town this week.

At 420 Main Street, the location of the now closed Perennials Restaurant, a new restaurant has opened. It's name? Are you ready?


I like it, and I bet the owners are thankful the street is not called something more colorful.

The restaurant is billed as a steakhouse and martini bar. Just the right combination for Sturbridge. We have all kinds of places to eat here in town from fine dining to pizza, (Man, do we have pizza. We need more pizza places), but one thing we don't have is a steakhouse! What's more is we don't have a real martini bar, either, until now. If you are bold enough to place steakhouse and martini bar on your sign you had better be damn good at both.

Just saying.

Anyway, you can be sure Mary and I will be trying out their fare very shortly, and I'll share our experience here.

The Grand Opening is March 5th, and you can read more about the restaurant by clicking here.




Monday, March 1, 2010

B+, 40,000,000 And All Great Swimmers

Seems that there is something missing from this years political races here in town.

Candidates.

There are sixteen positions available in town, and as of the other day only 13 sets of nomination papers had been taken out. That means only one candidate for only 13 of the 16 positions.

Thirteen non races.

Assistant Town Clerk, Heather Hall said, "... I don't think people want to get involved. I think it's the political climate overall in the U.S.; it's very dysfunctional, it's just not Sturbridge."

She could be right. Over the past few weeks Senator Evan Bayh, and Congressman Patrick Kennedy announced they will not run again. The vice presidents own son announced that he will not run for Delaware's open senate seat.

The technology of this day and age has given us so much, and at the same time it has put us all on notice, and we are naked in the eyes of others if we decide to step into the public arena.

It never used to be that way. Certain things were not for public consumption, and that was accepted, now, everything is on the table.

Everything.

And, that is too high a price to pay for someone running for senator, never mind for a person running for constable, auditor, or selectman.

I always thought that there would be a time to give my time, and energy, to the place I call home by running for office, but after watching the political scene here in Sturbridge over the past 10 years, I just don't know.

Nothing worth hiding, all the embarrassing stuff is known by most, but it's the whole idea that when you decide to run for local office one must share everything. From our fourth grade geography grades to our current sperm count and grade of motility *. Nothing is off limits.

Well, it should be, and that just be part of the problem here in town, and everywhere else for that matter. It has become an expected requirement of a candidacy: to invite the skeletons in our closet out for tea, and to succumb to the myriad of pointless, and gossip seeking questions.

That's enough to make folks think twice about running.

If there comes a day when I do decide that I have an incredible need to run for office, then I will do so under my terms:

  • Everything I have to say about me, and my position is here in this handout. Everything else is public record. Google me, and if you find anything intriguing, let me know. You obviously spelt my name wrong.
  • Debates? No. Read the handout.
  • You feel the same as I do, then vote for me. You don't feel the same way, then don't.
Now, if folks could just do it this way we might have just a few more candidates, but sometimes we seem to care more about the package than what the package actually holds.




Cabin Fever Be Gone! There's Steak And Martini's Awaiting!


Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony


420 Main


March 5, 2010




All are invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official grand opening of Sturbridge’s newest destination restaurant: 420 Main. 420 Main will specialize in great steaks and martinis… and much more. Owners Mike Cantwell, Thomas Chongruk and Dr. Anthony Lapinski have envisioned a food lovers’ paradise where the best locally grown ingredients are prepared with expertise and care by a talented staff to ensure guests a first-rate dining experience. Located at the former site of Perennials, 420 Main has a unique look and feel, a Yankee d├ęcor blended with contemporary accents and the works of local artists on display throughout. The owners and staff at 420 Main are thrilled to share their passions for great food and amazing martinis and look forward to welcoming guests to their grand opening.


All are invited to join the party, experience a ribbon cutting ceremony and enjoy complimentary appetizers and a cash bar as we welcome 420 Main to Sturbridge. A ceremonial ribbon cutting will take place at 3:00pm and will be followed by a reception with complimentary appetizers and a cash bar available. Ribbon cutting ceremony is presented by the Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce.



Contact:

Thomas Chongruk

508-347-9942

Tom420main@gmail.com