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

Monday, February 28, 2011

All Bets Are Off

I've thought about this a bit, and I've given him the benefit of the doubt.  I have hoped that those describing his actions were only exaggerating the events and his behavior.  Just being dramatic for effect, I was hoping.  After all, it is Hollywood.

Then I watched this interview on the Today Show this morning.

All bets are off.

Chowder Fest A Hit, Next Up: Wine, Beer & Food Festival March 31st

Yesterday Mary, Jen, and I attended the 2nd Annual Chowder Fest at the Public House sponsored by the Tri-Community Exchange Club.  It was a lot of fun.

First of all, any local activity like the Chowder Fest always attracts my attention, and are fun to attend.  It was a chance to see folks we haven't seen since before the mini ice age set in this winter, and, in this case, to sample some excellent chowda' prepared by nineteen local chefs.

The chowder was excellent, and we sampled our way around the room.  We didn't manage to sample every one, but came darn close, and in the end we voted for the one we thought was best.  It was a great way to spend a late Sunday afternoon.

We arrived around the halfway point in the afternoon, and the place was packed, and parking was tight.  Cars were parked down the Publick House Road, in the Orchards parking lot, and in almost every spot in the lot behind the Publick House.  I'd say this event was a great success for the Exchange Club, and the charities they support.

I even won a gift certificate for Annie's Kitchen.  Sweet.

If you missed the event, there is always next year for the Chowder Fest, but if you are looking forward to getting out of the house, seeing some old friends, and supporting a great organization, then save March 31 on your calendar, and check out the event below.

We'll see you there.

Thursday, March 31, 2011
5:30pm - 8:00pm
$35 per person
Oliver Wight Tavern @ OSV
1 Old Sturbridge Village Road
Sturbridge, MA 01566
Become a Sponsor
Sponsored by
Champagne Sponsor
Join us at our annual charity wine, beer and food festival and sample a variety of wines and some of New England's best beers while you enjoy food prepared by some of the areas top chefs.
A variety of  wine distributors will be on hand pouring their favorites from around the world. Top breweries from New England and beyond will be providing samples of their beers and ales. The knowledgeable staff at Yankee Spirits will be assisting in the selections. All beers and wines will be available to order at a discount at the event.
The RRI Wine, Beer & Food Festival is a great day to…
  • Enjoy the afternoon with the girls
  • Reward employees for a job well done
  • Have a day out without the kids
  • Spend the afternoon catching up with friends
  • Honor a birthday or anniversary
  • Support a worthwhile cause while having a great time!
Participating Vendors, Restaurants and Wineries to date:
If you are interested in becoming a wine, beer or food vendor please contact Jennifer Petraitis at 508-347-8181 x 104
We will have an extensive silent auction that will also feature works from local artists. Artwork by:
Tickets are $35.00 and can be purchased at the door, through our online store; by filling out the following information and processing your order through our secure ordering system, downloading our Wine, Beer and Food Festival Brochure and mailing it to RRI, or by contacting Kerrie Mason at 508-347-8181 ext. 105.
All proceeds will support people with developmental disabilities in our community

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Few Things Worth Menitioning

A few things worth mentioning after I finally got around to reading  the paper yesterday, after staring at it on the coffee table for five days.

Ted Goodwin has resigned from the Board of Selectmen after five years.  Ted cites family and work as becoming hard to juggle along with serving as selectman.  This is too bad, but I understand where Ted's at.  I have always liked him, and he will be missed.

A fifty year old man has been charged with purposely running over the ducks at the Burger King parking lot, and killing two of them.  The person charged stated he was not the driver of the vehicle, witnesses say otherwise. We'll find out for sure when the investigation is complete, and the matter goes off to court.  Since the investigation has not been completed, as of February 18th, I'll refrain from expressing what has been running through my head since I read about it last week.  Everyone deserves at least that much consideration.  I'll let you all talk amongst yourselves, and when the investigation is done, I'll join you.

The chef at the Old Sturbridge Village, Tim Quinn, was recently chosen as the Overall Iron Chef Winner at the Worcester's Best Chef Competition held in January.  I'm not surprised, the food at the Oliver Wight Tavern is superb.  Mary and I chose the tavern for our wedding reception, and that was a great move.

If you haven't tried the Oliver Wight Tavern at OSV, I strongly suggest that you do.  Below are some upcoming events at the tavern along with their regular lunch time  schedule.

Current Events:
An Irish Pub Lunch: Saturday, March 12, 11:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
An Irish Brunch: Sunday, March 13 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Sunday Brunch: Weekly 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday Lunch: Weekly 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Weekday Lunch: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
in the Village Cafe

Hobbyist Looking For Like Minded Folks

Every once in a while I get an email from a reader that is worth posting. This morning  received one from a gentleman that has the right idea about beating the winter doldrums, and although the snow will soon be gone, this activity is one that can also be enjoyed all year round.  If you, or someone you know, would like to join Mr. Skinner, he has been kind enough to include his email address at the end of his message.

Have fun!

"I’m an amateur wood ship model builder. I would like to join or form a group of individuals with similar interests. I would appreciated you posting my interest and refer people to me for follow up.
My current projects are the “Sultana” and the “Benjamin W. Latham”. I have completed a New York Pilot boat and a whaleboat.


Ric Skinner

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Something So Simple, Yet So Effective

Sturbridge is not the only rural community plagued with speeders on its narrow country roads.  For years, those of us at the southern terminus of Route 148 have had to deal with vehicles speeding through this mile long thickly settled district with no help from the state.  They will only admit to the fact that the road qualifies for the current speed limit, and that's that.  Safety be damned.  Our Chief of Police did manage to get the yellow speed "suggestion signs" changed to enforceable speed limit signs.  There were talks to place  a larger sign at the northern, and southern entry into the area warning drivers of a "zero tolerance" for speeders, but like most things that don't have a Pit Bull attached to it, they are soon forgotten.

The speeders are still there.  No change.  No increase, and certainly no decrease in the number of drivers speeding well over the posted limits.  There are more cruisers lying in wait down by the "Compatible Canine" store, but the violators know that is where they are.  Some wave to the officer as they pass.

I have always thought there had to be some other tactic that could be used to dissuade speeders from burning it up along this stretch of Route 148.  Something simple.  Something that would leave an impression.

I think I found it.  A small community in Georgia had the same safety problem we are experiencing, and they have solved it with a sign.

I believe Chief Tom Ford would find this method effective, or at the very least, cost effective.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dinner At The New Cedar Street Grille

Last evening, I met Mary at the new Cedar Street Grille where the Cedar Street Restaurant used to be on Cedar Street.

I made reservations for us over the phone after repeated attempts to book them on line at  Using the site has been a challenge in the past as well.  Each time I chose to book a reservation it either told me there was nothing available for 2.5 hours before and after the time chosen, or it would give me a choice of a time far from what I requested.  I called the restaurant on the phone and made reservations right away, in fact I had to call back later in the day and adjust the reservations since Mary was getting out of work a bit later than planned.  No problem for them.

The parking lot at the restaurant is still quite small, however they do offer valet parking now.  I have no idea where they park your car once the lot is full.  After we parked, we walked along the wide sidewalk from the parking lot to the entrance.  One would assume that this was the main entrance since it led from the parking lot, but it isn't.  The main entrance is off the driveway where the valets are stationed.  The driveway is not too wide, and with cars using what there is of it I don't recommend it as a pedestrian walkway to the front door from the lot, use the other entrance.  However, it's fine if you are dropping off the car to be parked.

Once inside, the new design and renovations are everywhere.  It is has a casual bistro look to it.  The newly expanded front of the building houses the new bar, and a few high tables for dining.  We met the hostess at the main entrance, and although I had made reservations in advance, she chose to seat us at the worst table in any restaurant other than the one by the kitchen door, the one beside the service station for the wait staff.  The table was as small as the children's table at Thanksgiving dinners when I was a kid. I asked if we could sit at a larger table like the couple beside us was sitting at.  The hostess told us that all the tables were taken with reservations, but we could change to the other micro table on the other side of the half wall.

We took it.  It was obvious we were not going to be seated at an adult sized table.  We were there for one hour, and with the exception of one booth, all the booths in our room remained empty.  We did not enjoy our table at all.

A restaurant customer must be made to feel welcomed, and made comfortable.  No amount of great food and service can make up for that if it is not done in the beginning.  If one is running late, and gets a last minute reservation, or table, then take what they have, and be thankful, but not when one makes reservations a half a day in advance.

Mary and I chose one of the specials of the day, Pan seared Tilapia over Spanish rice.  We started with a Cesar salad.  The salad was great.  The pan seared Tilapia was superb.  As Mary said, her taste buds were going crazy.  I had to agree.

We'll return to the Cedar Street Grille in the future, and hopefully the hostess will seat us at the grownup table.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Setting The Example To Follow Locally

Old Sturbridge Village has had a remarkable ride since Jim Donahue took over as CEO.  He has a taken an entity that was on the loosing side of the economy before the economy crashed, and not only made it profitable again, but did it during a time when the rest of the world was experiencing  a global economic down turn.

Amazing, of course, but not surprising in hind sight.  OSV has made some great moves over the past few years that have been very successful, that have resulted in many more visitors, and much more revenue.  Their latest move in saving money for the Village is excellent.  OSV has hired Swedish company Securitas Security Services USA INC  to take over their current security department.  The neat thing about this, besides saving the Village a lot of money is that part of the agreement with Securitas is that none of the current eleven security employees will be displaced.  They will either be offered positions in the new department, or positions with Securitas elsewhere.

Times change, and changes inevitably have to be made, but they don't have to be heartless. For those retained at the security department there may be changes in salary, benefits, and hours, but they won't be let go if they are eligible after background checks.

It is good to see that thought was put into the current employees welfare.  Over the past few years this has been a rare occurrence elsewhere due to the economy.  I think when an entity keeps the most basic things dear during changes, or crisis, they may fair better than those that don't.  Simple matter of having consideration for others, and letting it guide you when making decisions, and hard choices.

It is just a small part of a major shift in attitude that occurred a few years ago when Donhue took over.  It is why they are succeeding today.

Watch OSV, and learn from what they have done, are doing, and have in store. There are great lessons to learn here.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Review Is In...

I'm not a restaurant review writer, but I like to share.

Date night at The Whistling Swan was last last night, and as promised, here is our review:  the meal was fantastic, and the service was stellar.

Mary had the pan seared scallops on risotto , and I had the beef tips on a bed of fettuccine.  The house Pinot Noir was very good as well.  If you have not had a meal at the Swan in while, or since the new folks, Table Three Restaurant Group, purchased the restaurant, I strongly suggest that you do.

You will be very happy you did.

Next weekend, The new Cedar Street Grill.

Maple Days At OSV – Each Weekend In March

STURBRIDGE, Mass. (Feb. 9, 2011) – This March, visitors to Old Sturbridge Village will be greeted by the sweet smell of wood smoke mixed with maple syrup as historians demonstrate maple-sugar making at the Village’s own working “Sugar Camp.” Each weekend in March from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. visitors can see the sugar-making process, from tapping the trees to “sugaring off,” and will learn why maple sugar was more commonly used than maple syrup in early New England. Interpreters will also cook period foods made with maple sugar by agricultural the hearth at the Village’s Freeman Farm and historians will discuss how maple sugar became a part of the abolitionist movement.

OSV will also present the importance of maple in the Native American culture. Production of maple syrup is one of only a few processes in North America that is not a European colonial import – it was developed by Native Americans and taught to the colonists.  The Indian Doctress Molly Geet, portrayed by Marge Bruchac, will present “Sogalikiosos: Maple Sugar Moon Stories,” and “Fur Mittens and Wooden Snowshoes: Algonkian Winter Fashions.”  For details: 1-800-SEE-1830,
White sugar was being imported from the West Indies by the 1830s, though widely available, it was an expensive product for some.  As a result, maple sugaring was no longer a common farm activity in areas like Sturbridge, but some families were still producing sugar for their own use, setting up “sugar camps” each spring like the one at OSV. Holes are drilled into the maple trees and the sap is drawn out through hollowed out pieces of sumac called “spiles” and it then drips into hollowed-out half logs of pine or poplar. The sap is then boiled in large iron kettles suspended over an open outdoor fire and reduced down past syrup until it becomes maple sugar. The process often becomes a social occasion, with many people from the village, including women and children, helping, especially with the boiling.  The children particularly enjoy testing the consistency of syrup as it was poured onto snow for a treat called “maple snow.”
Though the sap from sugar maples has the highest sugar content, red maples are more abundant in this area, and both will be included in the Village’s “sugar bush.” Maples are usually tapped beginning between 30 and 40 years of age and can continue to be tapped for sap until they are over 100 years old.  The sap will continue to flow as long as temperatures remain below freezing at night and above freezing during the day.  As the spring progresses, even if the temperatures cooperate, tapping is generally stopped once buds begin to form on the trees as their presence causes an unpalatable taste in the sap.
The climate of New England, New York, and southeast Canada are ideal for producing maple syrup and maple sugar – 80 percent of the world’s supply of maple sugar comes from Canada, with most of it produced in Quebec.  Some other countries produce it on a small scale like Japan and South Korea.  South Korea is notable because the sap is consumed as a beverage without first being processed into syrup.
Old Sturbridge Village celebrates life in early New England from 1790 – 1840. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., OSV is open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. Winter hours are Wed. - Sun. 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (the Village is open on all Monday holidays); Beginning April 2, the Village will be open seven days a week. Admission is: $20 for adults; $18 for seniors; $7 for children ages 3-17; children under 3 are admitted free. Each admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. Woo Card subscribers get 25% of adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive 50% off adult daytime admission. For details, visit or call 800-SEE-1830.

Photos and text submitted by OSV.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Date Night With My Valentine

It's been too long.  Time to get out of the house, and have a great meal with my Valentine, Mary.  So many fine places right here in town, but tonight I am looking forward to dining at The Whistling Swan on Main Street in Fiskdale.  I haven't had a meal at the Swan in a long, long time, although we have enjoyed the food upstairs at the Ugly Duckling.  Now, with the restaurant being operated by the Table Three Restaurant Group it was time to make a reservation.  Mary and I really enjoy dining out here in town.  She's the best date.  ☺

The review posted below is from, it came out yesterday, and was my inspiration for choosing the Swan for tonight.  Stay tuned, I'll let you know how they did this weekend.

Check out the the Table Three Restaurant Group.  There are some familiar, and very talented people making some wonderful culinary changes here locally.  Time to get out of the house, and do some local dining.

Restaurant review: The Whistling Swan in Sturbridge

Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011, 5:00 AM
Fran Bellamy By Fran Bellamy 
LIV Swan Roback.JPG02/03/03--Sturbridge--Staff Photo by Dave Roback--The Whistling Swan at 502 Main Street in Sturbridge.
A longtime mainstay of the Sturbridge dining scene, the Whistling Swan is in the midst of major changes.

Now operated by the Table 3 Restaurant Group, the establishment recently welcomed Rob Fecteau as its executive chef.

Fecteau is a local boy – he grew up in nearby Spencer – but his culinary vision is decidedly cosmopolitan, thanks to stints in high profile eateries across the Northeast.

The menu focus at the Whistling Swan has shifted from Continental to contemporary American, with current entree choices including Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($15.95), Cracker Crusted Haddock ($16.95), and Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese ($18.95).
“Cast Iron” Steaks are a specialty, with options such as Sirloin Tips ($17.95), New York Strip ($23.95), and Bone-in Rib Eye ($29.95).
Starters range from Frizzled Onions ($2.95) and Sweet Potato Fries ($4.95) to Shrimp Scampi Bruschetta ($9.95) and Cod Cakes ($8.95) with sweet cream corn.
The Avocado Club Spring Roll ($8.95) combined Oriental architecture with Tex-Mex flavor.
Filled with a mixture of shredded chicken, grated Cheddar cheese, mashed avocado, and bacon, the two deep-fried wrap-ups had a robust, somewhat spicy, richness.
Ranch dressing spiked with chili powder was provided as a dip.
Chicken Parmesan Alfredo ($15.95) is a mashup of two Italian favorites. Arranged on a bed of fettuccine Alfredo, a panko-crusted breast of chicken is topped with marinara, more Alfredo sauce, and grated Parmigiana before being run under the broiler.
The result is quite likable, with the mellow, cream-and-cheese Alfredo softening the marinara’s inclination toward the sassy and sharp.
Our only grumble with the dish? Much too much to finish in one sitting, we discovered.
A Filet Mignon ($26.95) earned high marks, not only for the quality of the steak but for the skillful manner in which it had been cooked – not a hint of bitter, crunchy broiler char marred its exterior.
Chef Fecteau had instead sauced the steak with a first-rate demiglace. Deeply satisfying and perfectly seasoned, the sauce impressed us with its admirable balance of flavors.
We’d upped the ante on our steak dinner, opting for a “Surf and Turf” enhancement ($7.95). The kitchen had evidently run short of jumbo shrimp, since it substituted somewhat smaller specimens. Grilled, then glazed with butter, the crustaceans were tasty but somewhat overcooked.

Ultra-yummy “smashed” redskin potatoes and steamed pencil asparagus completed the handsomely styled plate.

The new menu at the Whistling Swam, it should be noted, is relentlessly a la carte – neither salad nor bread is built into the dinner price.

Fully licensed, the restaurant maintains a wine list of about two dozen choices. Prices are moderate, with nothing going for more than $40.

Dessert, we discovered, is reason enough to visit the Whistling Swam these days. The current selections (all are priced at $8) include a dark chocolate truffle cake, Nutella ice cream profiteroles with coffee hazelnut caramel, and a carrot cake cheesecake iced with marshmallow glaze.
Instead of picking ourselves, we opted for the Chef’s Tasting ($13.95 for two), a dessert deal that incorporates three selections of the chef’s choosing.

White chocolate mousse served in a pistachio cookie cup was soothingly sweet, while a bread pudding made with chocolate cake and raisin bread had a deliciously dense character.
Our favorite, though, was the cinnamon cream brulee, its namesake spice surprisingly subtle and hard to identify.
The Whistling Swan’s available-all-day menu also incorporates sandwiches and stuffed cheeseburgers as well as several hearty-sounding entree salad plates.
Though a major facelift is planned, for now the decor remains the familiar Victorian downstairs and contemporary loft layout that’s characterized the Whistling Swan experience over the last several decades.
One other area we’d suggest needs work is service. Though adequate, it will require fine-tuning if the restaurant is to achieve the “top tier” status for which its new owners claim to be striving.

Name: The Whistling Swan 
Address: 502 Main St., Sturbridge 
Telephone: (508) 347-2321 
Hours: Open daily, serving lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 9:30 p.m. 
Entree Prices: $14.95 - $35.95 
Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa, 
Handicapped access: Rear entrance is accessible, with rest rooms equipped for wheelchairs 
Reservations: Accepted and advised on weekends

© 2011 All rights reserved.

Just A Weird Coincidence, Yeah, That's All, Just A Coincidence.

This is just too coincidental.  Freaky really.  Two different towns, two different town hall refurbishments, both with violations of the American with Disabilities Act, one element in common:  Shaun Suhoski.  (shudder)

Now, I am NOT saying that Suhoski had anything to do with the Town Hall problems in the town of Ayer he would later become Town Administrator of, or the issues with the ADA violations here in Sturbridge with our own town hall restoration while Suhoski has been Town Administrator.  No, I won't say that at all.

It's just one of those strange, weird coincidences that make one think a bit, and wonder.

When you're done reading the article below, I wouldn't be surprised if you heard the "X Files" theme playing in your head.

I did.

(c) 2002 The Sun (Lowell, MA). All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

Access issue forces meetings from Town Hall

Sun Staff

AYER -- Until there's widespread agreement regarding the Town Hall's handicapped accessibility, municipal meetings will be held elsewhere. The decision, made earlier this week by the Board of Selectmen, came in response to ongoing complaints by residents that the newly refurbished building does not meet standards set by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Moving meetings from the building temporarily is "a show of good faith" that the town wants to resolve the disagreement, said Selectman Connie Sullivan.
"Rather than force ourselves into a litigious situation, we decided that meetings would be held in the places where we know people can attend them," he said.
Most will be held in the lower public meeting room at the Ayer Public Library on East Main Street.
Complaints started coming in even before the old building at 1 Main St. was reopened. Numerous town residents and representatives from at least one state agency, the Massachusetts Office on Disability, have said the building is inaccessible to the handicapped.
In January, the U.S. Attorney's office began its own investigation. Results have not been made public.
Also in January, investigators with the Massachusetts Office on Disability listed several areas in which they said Town Hall was in violation of the law. Through meetings with the building's architect, most of those areas were found to be in compliance.
But some of the complaints prompted changes.
External double doors at the Columbia Street entrance originally opened into the building, but this week were reversed to open outward to the street.
A section of the ground floor's main corridor also was determined to be too steep. The general contractor, Paul J. Rogan Co. Inc., will reshape the concrete base to shave the angle of incline.
Additionally, both entrances to the Board of Selectmen's ground-floor meeting room have been configured to fit dimensions under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
State access codes only require one entrance per public meeting room to meet ADA-accessible definitions. But town Economic Development Director Shaun Suhoski said the meeting room's second entrance also has been modified to ADA widths.
"It does make more sense now, and it's a lot more functional," Suhoski said.
At the state level, the Attorney General's Office and the Architectural Access Board have enforcement power over ADA regulations.
Sullivan and other selectmen said the constant complaints are frustrating.
"We spent a great deal of money to make the building accessible. We didn't just want to throw some new paint on the walls," Sullivan said. "The thrust of all of these improvements is handicapped accessibility."
Hegarty said yesterday there is no litigation is pending.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Billy Ray Cyrus Of Cars

Wake Me When It's Over

alarm clock

a clock with a bell or buzzer that can be set to sound at aparticular timeas to awaken someone.
1690–1700 Unabridged 
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011. 

OK, enough.

I understand the whole "paper trail" thing.  Believe me, I do, but we are beyond that now.

In December I posted an article about the far from glowing annual evaluation that our Town Administrator, Shaun Suhoski had received from the selectmen.  The evaluation came with a warning.  Tardiness was a major issue in the evaluation, and was addressed when the evaluation was presented to Suhoski.  Now, a month and a half later he has been suspended, with pay, for that major issue, tardiness.

This is the most basic piece of maturity one makes as they leave their teenage years.  One learns to get their butt out of bed in the morning for class, or work, or fail the class, and look for another job.  It is that simple.  It's a learning thing like eating with utensils.  When one does not catch on after a short time, and is still practicing the same poor behavior twenty years later, then there is either a physiological / psychological reason, a reason concerning family, or personal life we are unaware of, and not privy to, or simply it is because because they don't give a rats ass.

I want to believe it is anything other than the latter, however, if it were anything else, I think that the selectmen would be aware, and would have addressed it.  The 5 day suspension proves that it is a matter that Suhoski is in control of, or maybe not.

Either way, looks like it will be a long year here in town.  (sigh).

Article published Feb 9, 2011 in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Town administrator removed from duties for 5 days

STURBRIDGE —  Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski will not be at work for five business days, most likely the result of a disciplinary action taken by selectmen for what they regard as his excessive tardiness.

Mr. Suhoski began temporarily sitting out of the top municipal position as of today.

He is due back in the role of town administrator at 9 a.m. next Wednesday. His contract says that any suspension would be with pay.

In Mr. Suhoski’s absence, Police Chief Thomas J. Ford has been designated as the acting town administrator.

“At any time the town administrator is going to be out of town or out of the office for an extended period of time, the charter allows the town administrator to designate an employee or town official as town administrator, whether it be vacation, personal or any other time of leave,” Mr. Suhoski said. “And this has happened frequently in the past.”

Late Monday night, selectmen went into executive session with Mr. Suhoski to discuss a personnel matter — one involving him.

Four of the five selectmen attended the executive meeting.

“I was the subject of the executive session. I was the only other public official, besides the selectmen, there,” Mr. Suhoski said. “It had to do with me and I cannot comment on executive session.”

In October, the board voted that he arrive at work by 9 a.m., but Mr. Suhoski has acknowledged often coming in later.

Mr. Suhoski, who was named town administrator last February, received a mediocre, 11-category performance evaluation from selectmen in December. It included seven poor ratings and two unacceptables. He did not receive any ratings characterized as excellent, good or acceptable.

Some of the comments in the four-page evaluation include “frequently tardy for work and meetings, thus demonstrating a lack of consideration for the time of others,” and “his frequent lack of availability.”

Before his position in Sturbridge, Mr. Suhoski had been Ayer town administrator since 2006. Mr. Suhoski succeeded James J. Malloy, who left the town administrator post after 14 years to become Westboro town manager. 

© 2011 Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Information From Peter Hotton At Boston.Com


Snow pileups should be cleared on flat roofs

By Peter Hotton
February 6, 2011

Before we start, I must mention some omissions in stories about roofs, the snow, and the need, according to several roofers quoted in the stories, to take snow off of roofs. Nowhere was the explanation that the roofs that need snow removed are flat.

Gabled roofs, those with two slopes, and hip roofs, those with four slopes, do not need the snow removed, except maybe to prevent snow slides. Most roofs have asphalt shingles, which tend to grip the snow better than metal or slate roofs. Some metal and slate roofs are equipped with snow hooks, a New England name for a small fence near the edge of a roof, designed to keep snow in place. Another sloped roof is a gambrel, on Dutch Colonial houses, two steep slopes topped by two shallow slopes.
Such roofs have been built in the northern third of the United States and Canada for at least 300 years. The Handyman’s hip roof is 243 years old and is in good shape, holding maybe 6 to 10 inches of snow.
Boston and other cities have townhouses, row houses, double- and triple-deckers, and commercial buildings with flat roofs, and they must be attended to.
Q: I am getting icicles hanging from a gutter over my second-floor deck. Ikeep knocking them down when they grow to 2 feet. Should I continue?
THEA, Walpole
A: Yes, keep up the good work. Delaying the breaking will make the work harder or impossible without messing up the gutters. Two feet is manageable and safe.
Q: Those heating cables on the gutters: Keep them on all the time?
A: No, no. Keep them on only when they are on ice or under snow. Keeping them on when they are on a dry surface is a fire hazard. Also, install them in all downspouts.
Q: Ice is forming on one outside wall of my 1960s Cape. There is a shed dormer on the roof, and its front wall is on the same plane as the first-floor wall. There are no gutters at the dormer roof, which has a small overhang.What can I do?
A: When you had no ice, you had water. I am not a big fan of gutters, but here is a good example of the need for a gutter. Install a gutter at the top of the dormer. With a downspout or two, it will guide all that roof water to the ground, where you can put an extension on the downspouts to guide the water away from the foundation. In winter, the gutter will freeze, but that is OK because the water will cascade over the front of the gutter, far enough away from the wall to avoid running down the walls. The original small roof overhang is too narrow to prevent water percolating under the overhang and continuing its way down to cover the whole wall.
Q: My new storm windows on the second floor have iced up, and when the ice melts I get water between the storms and my single-glazed main windows. There is no icing of the old leaky storms on the first floor. Is there an easy way of reducing that icing? 
MRS. McCarthy, Cape Cod

A: Those new storms are working too well, trapping humid house air that is escaping through the main windows. Try weatherstripping those main windows, to reduce the humid air getting through. Also, put weep holes in the new windows, or open them up if they exist. Drive a one-eighth of an inch hole in the metal sill at the bottom of the storm frame, 4 inches in from each side, as close as possible to the wood sill. You can also open the storm for a few minutes to let all that water vapor out. Two reasons why the leaky old first-floor storms are not icing up: They are leaky enough to allow water vapor to escape. And, because humid air tends to rise.Q: My new storm windows on the second floor have iced up, and when the ice melts I get water between the storms and my single-glazed main windows. There is no icing of the old leaky storms on the first floor. Is there an easy way of reducing that icing?
MRS. McCarthy, Cape Cod
Q: We had granite countertops installed in our house 13 years ago. We had three large pieces of granite installed with two invisible seams. One of the slabs dropped 1/8 to 1/16 of an inch at a seam. We can pick it up to a levelposition with our hands. The granite company thought it quite unusual, but said nothing could be done. Is there a safe way to “shim’’ this to make it level?
A: Is there caulking or any filler between the two slabs? If so, that is why the granite company said nothing could be done to remedy the situation. Fiddlesticks! The one piece dropped just a tad, either because the shims decayed or dropped, or the sides, front or back of the cabinet dropped. I personally think the shims failed. You can fix this, but I would try getting on that granite company to put in new shims. Any company worth its reputation will do this. To do it yourself, buy cedar shims in any lumber store. Lift the low slab, and insert a shim wherever the slab sits on the cabinet. You can also buy plastic shims, but they may be too thick to get the slab in the right position. The wood shims come in a package of shims about 2 inches wide and 6 inches long.
Peter Hotton is also in the g section on Thursdays. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions. Call 617-929-2930. He ( also chats online about 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. To participate, go

The Cranes Of Sturbridge

Crane raises large canvas basket to roof of WalMart
in Sturbridge for snow removal.
Something that has always perplexed me is why, in a region known for an annual snowfall, do architects design buildings with  flat roofs?  There has to be a design reason besides cost.  One would think that this would not be the design of choice for New England, for obvious reasons.

For the past few days, the WalMart in town has been removing snow from its flat roof around the clock.  Two large cranes, like the one shown in the photo, are at each side of the building and are taking loads of snow down from the roof.  A team of workers can be heard running about the roof from inside the store.

At the other end of the store, near the main entrance, are a dozen, or so, portable lighting systems commonly seen along the highway at night for use on construction projects.  I imagine these lights are used on the roof at night.

This whole project must cost a great deal for the company to insure  the safety of its customers, and to maintain the structural integrity of its building, but a pitched roof on a building so large would not be practical.  Building a flat roof that would tolerate large dead loads would be.  Buildings the size of Applebee's or Staples are the size one would expect to see a pitched roof on.

Most schools have flat roofs, and as we have seen over the past week many of them have been closed out of concerns for students safety as the snow is removed from their roofs.  Stronger roofs is something that should be built into the initial design, but upgrades cost money.

Times like this give us pause to tweak our building codes a bit for future construction.  We can't do a thing about the homes, and buildings already built, and those that have suffered damage, but we can make things easier for the the owners of future structures.

Every situation is a chance to learn something, and to put that new knowledge in effect for the next time.  The recent high accumulation of snow is one of those situations.  I hope it's a lesson well learned.