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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Now, Where Was I? No, Really, Where Was I?

We have all heard of those times when folks forget things. "Senior Moments" some call them.

Well, this week, I had a "Senior Morning".

Now, I am not any more absent minded than I have been my entire life. When I have something on my mind, it doesn't make room for things that were already there, or should be added. Lists are important to me. Always have been. They are a good way to stay ahead of creditors, family birthdays, vacation plans, and on top of projects around the house. When we first moved into this old house I kept a running list, and accomplished a great deal items on those lists, but for some reason over the past year, I got away from that age old practice.

It came to a head this week.

First of all I had this epiphany about my drivers license. Had it expired? I reached for my wallet, and pulled out the license, and looked at the dates, and my feeling was right, it had expired. Cripes.

Now I had to fit in the trip to the registry on top of an appointment for the start of a root canal, a visit to Home Depot for a larger window air conditioner, and all the other little things I had planned, and not written down.

I made a plan in my head, and headed east on the Pike. I timed it so that my Registry visit would lead to my Home Depot visit, and then a little drive into Worcester for the root canal.


I sat in the Registry for ONE hour. One hour for a license renewal. Once at the counter, I was sent away to fill out a form they told me they needed. You would think I would have been told to fill it out during the hour I sat waiting to be seen, but it's the Registry, please check your intelligence at the door, and once inside we'll do our best to bust your ****'s. Oh, Maybe there was a sign inside the building that announced to people to take a clip board and fill out the form, but one would never have seen it since the inside of the building is cluttered like an antique mart.


Now, if the Registry was the only trip I had to do that day, and I had to get on the Pike to do it, and since the parking lot off Route 20 is now closed to Registry traffic, I'd be writing a totally different article about the wasted gas driving to the Registry, and then heading further east to the next Pike exit to turn around and head back to Sturbridge. The carbon footprint we are forced to leave at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, and up and down the Pike driving to and fro, is from Rachel Kaprielian shoes, not mine.

Great job, Registrar. Don't worry, the way my memory currently is I won't remember what the hell I am writing right now anyway, and won't pursue it.

Oh. So, I had this great plan laid out. Registry, air conditioner, root canal, and home. Simple. All easterly from our house. All in order. Nothing can screw this up.

After the ninety minute visit to the registry, I headed further east for at least forty five minutes of reviewing BTU's, and square foot coverage for the air conditioners at Home Depot before I bought a 10,000 BTU one.

Once outside I reviewed the air conditioner size, and my plan for it in my head, drove over to the Pike, listened to WBZ and heard about a truck fire on the Pike.

Great. I just got on, too. I usually make a point of listening to the radio before I get on so I can decide whether to go Route 20, or the Pike.

Well, I finally did make it home, brought the air conditioner up to the bedroom, and the phone rang.


"Wally, where are you?"

I did not recognize the voice. I looked around the room, and said sheepishly, "Right here. Why?"

"Because you are supposed to be in Worcester having a root canal done", the voice said.


I was so close to batting .1000 that day.

Well, that was that.

I am going back to keeping lists of things to do like I have always done. I wish I had renewed that practice when I started writing this article, because I have absolutely no idea what I was getting to.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Muster Day at Old Sturbridge Village on June 12

Appearance by 1812 Marines from the U.S.S. Constitution; 50% admission discount for active Military

STURBRIDGE, MA (May 28, 2010) – Old Sturbridge Village will celebrate an old-fashioned military “Muster Day” on Sat., June 12, with a special appearance by the 1812 Marines from Boston’s U.S.S. Constitution, who will march, drill, and demonstrate field maneuvers alongside the Sturbridge militia. Active military personnel get a 50-percent admission discount, and members of their party get 25 percent off admission.

Fifers and drummers will play martial music, and children can “join the militia,” learn to march and drill, and make a militia hat to wear and take home. Visitors can enjoy early 19th-century base ball, French & English (tug of war), and crafts demonstrations, head to the farm to meet the baby oxen, lambs, and piglets, and help the farmers with late spring work. For details:; 1-800-733-1830.

In early New England, the militia was somewhat similar to today’s volunteer firefighters, and its ranks were filled by farmers, craftsmen, and other male citizens in town. At least once a year, these folks were “called to muster,” and spent a day in training.

“The 1830s were peaceful years in New England,” notes OSV curator Tom Kelleher, adding that muster days also offered festive recreation, including a way to skirt the temperance laws banning the sale of alcohol in the 1830s. Those thirsting for liquor could pay a few cents to enter a tent to see a “striped pig,” and also get a “free” shot of rum. Muster Day visitors to Old Sturbridge Village can see a real pig, striped just for the occasion, and get a free glass of lemonade as a stand-in for the rum.

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates New England life in the 1830s and is one of the largest living history museums in the country. The museum is open daily 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., and offers free parking and a free return visit within 10 days. Admission: $20; seniors, $18; children 3-17, $7; children under 3, free. Active military personnel get a 50% discount on admission by showing their ID and members of their party get 25% off. For information: or call 1-800-733-1830.

--submitted by

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Really? I'm Responsible? Really?

A ruling has been offered regarding the case of the Selectman, and the lady committee member.

The ruling stated,

"Whereas Mr. Garieri is an elected official, the Town’s administrative officers have no authority to impose discipline. Likewise, the Board of Selectmen itself cannot impose any formal discipline upon one of its members. Conduct of elected officials is ultimately the responsibility of the voter"-- --The ruling, signed by harassment officer Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski and alternate harassment officer Finance Director Barbara Barry on May 20th.

What? The conduct of an elected official is not the responsibility of the elected official, but rather the responsibility of the voters?

The ruling was good up until that particular point. No voter is responsible for the actions, and /or words, of an individual once elected to office, or even before they are elected. The elected official is responsible for their own actions,and words. This is elementary. Yes, voters may be responsible in electing the individual to the office, but that is where it ends.

If an incident warrants discipline, or a recall, and there is none, then those that allow the behavior to go unaddressed are responsible for any future incidents along with the offending official. This is the responsibility of the Board of Selectmen, and the voters. It is not the responsibility of the voters to prevent the behavior, as stated above, but it is their responsibility to make sure it is appropriately addressed.

Was it? I think it could have gone further.

To read the article, click on the link below.

Ruling finds selectman violated policy

By Matthew Bernat
Turley Publications Reporter

From The Tantasqua Town Common

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Free traffic information hotline expands into Western Massachusetts

By Dan Ring, The Republican

May 24, 2010, 3:00PM

BOSTON – Nearly 15 years after a free traffic information hotline was first introduced in the Boston area, Western Massachusetts is finally getting the service.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick announced on Monday that free 511 service is now expanded to all of the state.

“For the first time, residents of Western Massachusetts will be able to access helpful travel information,” said Patrick, who has a vacation home in Richmond on the New York border.

The 511 system was launched in eastern Massachusetts in October of 2007. It replaced a similar service in use in eastern Massachusetts since 1995.

To use the new hotline, Western Massachusetts motorists can dial “511” on their cell phones or go online at to receive personal updates about routes.

For the first time ever, the new 511 system includes coverage for: Interstate 90 west of Sturbridge, Interstate 91, Interstate 291, Route 2 between 495 and 91, and Route 7, said Jeffrey B. Mullan, secretary of transportation.

Previously, the system was only available east of Sturbridge, Mullan said.

To access the system, dial 511 from any cell phone and enter route numbers of interest. As reports are delivered, press 1 to skip a segment, press 2 to skip a route and press 3 to enter a new route.

To personalize the service, call 511 and enter route numbers. Information on these routes will be automatically provided on the next call. To get text or e-mail alerts, go to, login and choose your routes off a map.

Select “Send Alerts” radio button. Sendza, a Marlboro software company, is providing the service. State officials said it will be provided at no cost to taxpayers.

Using 511

To use the new 511 system for the first time by phone, follow these steps:
1. Dial 511 from any cellphone.
2. After the introductory message, enter the route numbers of interest to you. For example, for information on Interstate 90, press “90.”
3. As reports are being delivered, press 1 to skip a segment, press 2 to skip a route, and press 3 to enter a new route.

© 2010 All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

DEP fines Wal-Mart

BOSTON — The state Department of Environmental Protection has assessed an $8,000 penalty against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for alleged hazardous waste violations at stores in Lunenburg, Oxford, Sturbridge and Northbridge, the state reported yesterday.

Under a consent agreement, Wal-Mart agreed to pay the penalty and improve compliance with hazardous waste regulations at its Walmart stores, the state said in a news release.

That DEP alleged that state workers found during inspections last year that Wal-Mart failed to provide adequate security for waste oil accumulation areas, post signs, keep adequate records, properly delineate waste oil accumulation areas, label hazardous waste and waste oil containers, and keep wastes separated.

Wal-Mart previously paid more than $46,000 in penalties under a 2005 consent order.--Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Was The Final Lesson Taught?

There is a time to adhere to policies, and a time to use them merely as a guide. When a new situation arises that one never anticipated, and is something that would do no harm, then a closer look is in order.

In 2007 a Tantasqua High School survived a car accident, and eventually returned to the school as a student. As a result of the accident she now has reduced cognitive abilities as a result of the brain damage acquired at the time of the accident.

At a brain injury survivors meeting, the Tantasqua student met a man, nine years older than her, and have had a relationship ever since. They planned to attend the girls high school prom together. The young man is older than 21 year old age limit as outlined in a Tantasqua High School policy outlining who can attend school dances. He is too old to attend the prom with the young lady according to policy.

The young lady who is 19 years old will miss a landmark social event in her life because of a policy. A policy originally written with good intent, and for reasons far removed from the reason that the two young people had for attending the prom: to be together, and to share a special time like every other student. Unfortunately, a little bit of head trauma got in the way, and delayed both of their celebrations.

Apparently, when the issue was first brought up to the superintendent Daniel Durgin by the girls dad, the superintendent offered to provide an "aid" to attend the prom with the young lady.

Say what?

The superintendent wanted to supply an aid to accompany the young lady to her high school prom instead of her boyfriend? That idea was unacceptable to the young lady, and her family, and if one thinks about it for just a bit it says way too much about the person suggesting it.

As a result, there has been a lawsuit filed alleging discrimination towards the young lady because of her condition.

The bottom line is that we place individuals in positions of responsibility, and in doing so we hope that they will use the rules to guide them, and their heart to adjust them as needed. The superintendent is very familiar with the young ladies story, and denying her the opportunity to attend her prom with the person of her choice was cold, and avoidable.

The lawsuit will advance, and both sides will explain to the court their stories, but the suit, the court, and the explanations will not bring back the moments the girl and her date lost forever.

Being the one in charge, the top dog, the "buck stops here" person has many responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to decide which is better, and which is best regarding many issues, and adjusting ones stance accordingly. This time it was not done well.

In fact, it seems it was not done at all.

To read the entire article, click here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't Confuse Me Any More Than I Already Am

Anytime an entity, like a town government, withholds innocuous information then I believe it is fair to feel as if something nefarious is afoot.

If not, then what else could be the reason?

I am referring to the Town Administrator Search Committee from last year. I am not referring to the "Search Committee: The Sequel", but the original. If the media asks a question, then, unless it will affect a decision to be made shortly, jeopardize the safety, or well being of an individual, and if the answers are totally harmless, then why hide the answers?

Apparently, the Worcester Telegram and Gazette asked for the names of the three finalists the search committee had amassed, and the identity of those finalists were withheld from the media by the committee. The reason? Because they were only being considered in the preliminary stages, and were not finalists. This according to the states supervisor of public records, Alan Cote according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

“Given these three candidates in this matter were only considered at the preliminary stage by the committee and not by the board at the final stage of consideration, these three candidates did not attain semi-finalist status and the responsive records concerning their identities may be withheld,” Mr. Cote wrote.--Worcester T&G

In November, the Worcester County DA's office ruled that the town did not violate the open meeting laws by not revealing the names, as well.

So, that's the reason. It makes sense now.

So, who were those three individuals withheld from the public last fall that did not attain semi-finalist status?

Charles Blanchard, Robert Lawton, and Shaun Suhoski.

Not too shabby for not making the cut in the first round.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend at Old Sturbridge Village May 29-31

OSV Sheep get yearly “haircuts” at Wool Days celebration
; Meet the new baby oxen, lambs and piglets

(STURBRIDGE, MA) – May 17, 2010: The sheep at Old Sturbridge Village will get their annual “haircuts” during Memorial Day Weekend May 29-31 as the Village celebrates “Wool Days.” Farmers will shear the sheep, and OSV historians in costume will demonstrate the entire wool textile process, from scouring and carding the wool to spinning, knitting and weaving the handspun wool yarn. Visitors can try hand carding (brushing and de-tangling) the wool, and then learn how the Village’s historic water-powered carding mill does the same job much faster.

Visitors can also meet the 14 new lambs born at OSV this season, as well as two piglets, a new calf, and new team of baby oxen, who are in training to learn their names and the 40 voice and hand commands they will need to understand to help the farmers with heavy work around the farm.

In keeping with the Wool Days theme, visitors can also make a “Wooly Sheep” ornament using wool from the OSV sheep. Also highlighting the weekend is the return of the Old Sturbridge Village stagecoach and boat ride on the Quinebaug River, and old-fashioned Base-Ball games. For all times and details: 1-800-SEE-1830;

Monday, May 17, 2010

Affordable Housing In Sturbridge To Be Preserved

For more information, click here.

Just Who Is The Sign Sheriff?

Just a thought about the new sign bylaw here in town. Seems that most businesses are forced to use those bland white sandwich board signs outside of their shops to give some uniformity to the signage in town. In the beginning there was also a time limit as to how long one could have the sign board outside for. I think that the time limit has been changed since the bylaw was initiated.

So, has anyone ever explained the sign bylaw to some of the folks at the retail shops at the Sturbridge Marketplace at the Falls? And, who's job is it to enforce the bylaws we enact here in town? Just seems very unfair to all the businesses here in town abiding by the bylaw and having to use those ugly signs, and there are those that don't.

There's got to be a logical reason, I mean, here in Sturbridge something as blatant as disregard for the sign bylaw is serious stuff, and now all those "rebel signs" along Route 20 just standing there, on there own, without a sandwich board!!

Scary stuff. I hope it is not a sign of more outrageous stunts to come here in town over the summer.

I guess we have said all we can on this subject. LOL. Comments are now closed. Thank you.--ed.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Memorial Day Schedule 2010


Submitted by Tom Chamberland

The Sturbridge Veterans Council cordially invites all residents, youth groups
and a special invitation to our Veterans to participate in the annual
Memorial Day Parade. The Parade this year will be held on Monday, May 31,
2010. The parade will follow the same route as in the past, except that the
parade will end on the Town Common due to the reconstruction activities of
the Town Hall and Center Office Bldg. The Tantasqua Regional High School Band
will provide music.

09:30 A.M. Parade formation at the Old Fire Station at RT 20 & RT 148

09:45 Parade Step-Off

09:50 Parade Stops for ceremony at the American Legion Monument

10:00 Parade Stops in St. Anne's Cemetery for service, reading of
"In Flanders Field"

10:20 Parade Marches out of St. Anne's to board buses

10:45 Parade Reforms in front of Public Safety Complex

10:50 Ceremony for Police and Firefighters Monuments

10:55 Parade Step Off, 2nd part, proceeds to North Cemetery

11:10 At North Cemetery, memorial service, reading of the
Gettysburg Address

11:25 Parade returns to Town Common for final ceremony

11:30 Memorial Service for Old Cemetery, Decoration of Monuments,
Replacement of the POW Flag, National Anthem and Flag raising

12:00 noon Open House at the American Legion, All parade participants
and residents invited.

Bus transportation will be provided BEFORE the Parade, starting at the Town
Hall at 09:00 A.M., Safety complex at 09:10 A.M., Senior Center at 9:20 A.M.
Legion Hall at 9:25 A.M. at Old Fire Station for 9:30. Bus transportation
will be provided during the parade from the Senior Center to the Public
Safety Complex, and after the parade from the Town Hall back to the Old Fire
Station with stops at the Safety Complex, Senior Center and Legion Hall. Any
veteran, elderly or disabled person needing a ride for the parade is asked to
call the American Legion Post 109 at 347-3248 by Friday May 28th. For more
information call Tom Chamberland at 347-3386.


All Veterans are encouraged to attend any or all of the events listed.

Friday, May 28,
1: Annual Memorial Day breakfast and ceremony, 8:00 AM Tantasqua Regional
Junior High School, All veterans invited, please call the Junior HS to
confirm your attendance, 508-347-7381.

2: Annual Burgess Elementary School Memorial Day assembly, 1:30 P.M.

3: Veterans who want to help decorate graves are asked to meet the
American Legion Hall at 6:30 P.M.

4: Women's Auxiliary, Poppy sales at Yankee Spirits, 9:00 am - 9:00 pm.

Sunday, May 30:
All veterans are invited the annual Memorial Day Sunday Service of the
Sturbridge Federated Church. Veterans are asked to meet outside of the
Church at 10:15 A.M.

Monday May 31:
Annual Memorial Day Parade and Services. Parade Forms at 9:30 A.M. at the
old fire station, Corner of Rt. 20 and Rt. 148, proceeds to St. Anne's
Cemetery, for services at 10:00 A.M. then reforms at the Public Safety
Complex at 10:45. Parade concludes at 11:30 on the Town Common.
Open House will follow at the American Legion Hall.
Bus transportation is available before, during and after the parade.
Veteran's needing rides are asked to call Post 109 at 347-3248. Before Friday
May 28.

For further information call Tom Chamberland, Director of Veteran Services,
at 347-3386.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Maybe you remember a month ago there was a whole lot of hullabaloo in the local papers about some off color, verbal interactions at a Town Administrator Search Committee meeting.

There were cries of "Off with his head!!". As you can imagine, people were very upset. I mean, everyone, all over town was upset, or so it seemed. In fact, one resident started a recall petition to remove the blue mouthed selectman from office.

I said it then, we elected him. Most of us knew what we were electing, and we shouldn't be surprised by the behavior. We just didn't think that it would come out in the way it did, or at the place it did.

In order to go forward with the recall it was necessary to obtain signatures of 20% of the towns registered voters on the petition.

They got six.

Six signatures.

Of course, there is a lesson in here somewhere, but for the life of me, I haven't the foggiest idea as to what it is. Maybe it has something to do with those with the pitchforks and torches marching on the castle door should have an attention span a bit longer than that of a gnats.

If you are going to be outraged about something, then do something about it. Don't leave it if something else attracts your attention. Stick with the issue. If you can't follow through, don't make it an issue.

Six signatures. Either someone didn't try very hard, or all those outraged folks from last month got over their outrage pretty damn quick.

I think it's the attention span thing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

We Need It, But Will We Like It?

One thing that cannot be put on a blueprint is the heart, and the soul of a place. As a result, the planning and design is done with respect to all things related to construction, and nothing as it relates to the feeling that the construction should give to us once complete.

Unless, of course, there is someone in the mix that is there to preserve the heart & soul of a place as it is transformed, repaired, or changed. With the current long overdue road construction on Route 131, I hope there has been "someone" local that has been involved since the beginning of the planning and design. Someone that has a knack of preserving all the soul, history, and good feeling we associate with the best part of the road way, and not loosing it in some efficient, sterile, pragmatic construction manner.

I know, a little late in the game to hope for something like this, but I figure at least this will put those in charge on notice. This is the Commonwealth of Mass we are dealing with, and I strongly doubt a whole lot of creativity was put into the design beyond the pragmatic.

What is the soul of a road? Remember how Route 20 looked before the State came in and made it "better"? It was a highway, but a highway that fit the landscape. One reason it was widened, "guard railed" all up, and a median strip laid down the middle was because of all the traffic the Brimfield Flea Market brought to the area hear after year, and the traffic problems that resulted.

Grant it, something had to be done, but something that was not only effective against the traffic problem, but also fit the landscape of our town would have been nice.

What happened to Route 20 is obvious to all of us. It was constructed in a way that worked, but was sterile. The design took the soul of the area away and uglified it with guardrails, and median strip.

Look at the photo to the left. It is of the old entrance into Old Sturbridge Village before the reconstruction of Route 20. Now think of what is there now.

'Nuff said.

The "new" Route 131 will be somewhat wider, the pavement will be milled down, or outright removed and redone in some areas, new drainage put in place, and a sidewalk will be constructed from Route 20 all the way to the Southbridge / Sturbridge town line. These are all great changes that will make Route 131 that much safer for motorists, and pedestrians as well.

All this work is welcome, and overdue. We need this. I only hope that in the end the new road will not only serve the purpose, but fit into our sense of place as well.

Author Doris Kearns Goodwin to be honored by Filmmaker Ken Burns and Old Sturbridge Village May 20

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian to receive third annual “Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award”

(Sturbridge, Mass.) April 30, 2010 – Pulitzer Prize-winning author and presidential historian
Doris Kearns Goodwin will receive the 2010 “Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award” from documentary filmmaker Burns and
Old Sturbridge Village following a dinner in her honor at OSV at 6:00 p.m. Thursday May, 20. Cost for the dinner is $150 per person, with proceeds to benefit th
e museum. For reservations and information, contact; 508-347-0210.
This year’s Ken Burns Lifetime Achievement Award is the third in the series. Last year’s award was presented to actress Laura Linney in recognition of her portrayal of Abigail Adams in the HBO series, John Adams. Old Sturbridge Village presented the first lifetime achievement award to Ken Burns himself in 2008 in honor of his many award-winning documentary films.

Goodwin’s “No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II” was a New York Times bestseller and earned Ms. Goodwin a Pulitzer Prize in history in April 1995. Her most recent book, “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” (Simon & Schuster 2005), was a New York Times #1 bestseller and is being developed into a feature film by Steven Spielberg. Her first book, “Lyndon Johnson and The American Dream” (1976) was also a New York Times bestseller.

Along with history, Goodwin has a love of baseball instilled in her by her father, who taught her to keep score of Brooklyn Dodgers games when she was only six years old. Her “Wait Till Next Year” (1997) was written about the love of baseball she shared with her father. This memoir was also a New York Times bestseller and was optioned for a musical. She was also the first female journalist to enter the Boston Red Sox locker room.

Goodwin is frequently called upon as a political and news analyst by all the major networks in the U.S. and others around the world. She lectures extensively, and has offered insights in many PBS documentaries, including Ken Burns’ “Baseball.” She is married to writer Richard Goodwin, who worked in the White House for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The Goodwins have three sons and two grandchildren.

“Doris Kearns Goodwin’s compelling books, articles and insightful broadcast commentaries have won her the respect and admiration of millions of readers, listeners, and viewers the world over,” said Jim Donahue, president and CEO of Old Sturbridge Village. “We are deeply honored to have her as our guest at the Village.”

Ken Burns, who has been making films for more than 30 years, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker in the country. According to the late historian Stephen Ambrose, “more Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”

Famous for his documentaries that include The Civil War,” “Jazz,” “Baseball,” and “The War,” Burns actually made his very first film about Old Sturbridge Village as a college student in 1975, during which he used the now-famous “Ken Burns effect” – a panning technique – for the first time.

Burns’ OSV film, produced as his senior project while a film major at Hampshire College, is a 28-minute film entitled, Working in Rural New England.” The project inspired him to pursue historical subjects, a direction he has continued throughout his career. “Sturbridge is where I became a filmmaker, and where I caught the history bug for good,” he noted.

“Working on that first film aroused in me a passion I didn’t know I had, which is history,” Burns said of the film at a later visit to Old Sturbridge Village. “That was the first film that I signed my name to. That was the first film in which I felt I was the author.”

Burns, whose production company is based in Walpole, N.H., is recently produced a six-part film on the history of the National Parks, which aired on PBS in 2009. He is also working on a history of Prohibition, for which his production company recently filmed scenes at Old Sturbridge Village, and an update to his 1994 epic “Baseball.”

Submitted by Old Sturbridge Village

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

We All Need To Learn More

I am at a most awkward place right now. I really can't say how I stand on a casino here in Central Mass. I have to admit that I have thought about it, but not really thought about it.

I have been to Mohegan sun once, and to Foxwoods once. I visited the casino on a cruise ship once, and about once a month I buy a Lottery scratch card, or two. I have little experience with gambling except in middle school when I was a fanatic about pitching pennies, and flipping quarters. Yes, that was addictive for a twelve year old.

Now, I know that there are some folks out there against any form of gambling whether it be scratch cards, or casinos. Life experience with gambling has dealt them some hard times, and I respect how those folks feel, and their opinion, but I'd like to address how other folks, without a history of gambling in their lives, feel about the idea of a casino in Central Mass today.

The Not-In-My-Backyard folks offer a whole slew of reasons why a casino should not be built in Central Mass, particularly in Palmer. Here are a few:
  • Current infrastructure may not be able to handle increased traffic to area from Route 20, and Mass Pike.
  • Increased traffic, at all hours, will strip the area of the small town, rural-ness away from the area forever.
  • Crime will increase.
  • Folks with an issue with gambling will have just another venue for that issue to run rampant.
  • Other folks may develop issues with gambling as a result of a casino down the road.
  • Folks with an issue with gambling will eventually have severe financial problems that may weigh on the taxpayers of Massachusetts in some form.
  • The money generated is entirely dependant on the success of the casino in rural Central Massachusetts. Is there a sufficient audience here?
  • The tax revenue generated is tied directly to income generated. Little interest, little income, little tax revenue. How can the casino owners be sure of success in Central Massachusetts?
Those are just a few of the reasons people are against such a venue out in Palmer. Now, a few of the reasons some people would like to see a casino built out this way.
  • Gambling can be fun.
  • The entertainment at casinos is world class, and something not available here in Central Mass.
  • The facilities a casino offers is usually much more than other hotels, and there is more to do at these venues besides gambling.
  • There will be construction jobs as the facility is built.
  • There will be other jobs once the facility is built.
  • The infrastructure leading to the facility will be upgraded by the casino owners.
  • Tax revenue generated by the facility will be well worth the aggravation.
Well, that's about all I can come up with. As I said above, my experience with gambling, and casinos, is very limited. What I do know is that any large change in lifestyle in a particular area is felt far beyond where the change is made. Whether it be a good change, or a bad change, what happens in Palmer will affect me on Brookfield Road.

On May 6th at 7PM at the Quaboag Regional School auditorium there will be a public forum to discuss the impact of a casino in the area. Panelists include two Town Planners from Connecticut and executive police offi High cer from Ledyard, Connecticut. This may be something to attend if you have questions about just how a casino will affect us here.

I need to do more thinking on this whole thing. I know what I like about Central Massachusetts, it's just the drastic, dramatic changes a casino would bring that I need to explore more before offering an opinion. I guess that would be the same for most of us, too.

I bet now would be the time to start that exploring.