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, March 28, 2011
I felt silly this past week.
I received an email from Linda Cocalis, of the Board of Health, and in the email she mentioned that the regulations concerning private trash haulers charging residents for picking up their households recyclables had changed, and that charging a fee for this service was now no longer allowed.
I let a "booyah", and a "whoops" slip out of my mouth at the same time I was reading the email.
I had no idea, and I had written about this conundrum in January 2010. How'd I miss this?
Thank you for the update, Linda.
Sounds like a great example of planning for the future.
If the program is accepted, users of Recycling Center will have to use the new trash bags in order to drop trash off at the Center. An average size family will use one 33 gallon per week, since the incentive to recycle trash will be linked directly to saving money.
More trash recycled, the less trash in the bag. Simple.
Two public meeting have been held by the BOH to explore the matter, and if needed, another meeting will be held in order to hear from as many residents as possible. The BOH has made it clear that they do want feedback from the community. If you would like to offer your own feelings about the Pay As You Throw Program, you can email Board of Health agent, Alyssa Rusiecki at email@example.com.
Now, the next step is to incorporate this program to those of us that have curbside pickup. A little more work on our part, but could be a lot less costly, and the the benefits of recycling more waste would be great. This one good take awhile, but we should start thinking seriously about setting a goal of including the entire town in the PAYT program.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
He taught thousands of students from his arrival until his retirement from the school system in 1995, and continued to teach his students privately, in his home, until just three weeks before he passed. He loved teaching that much.
This teacher introduced that small town to music that few had experienced before, never mind performed. He taught the youngest students the flutophone in order to inspire an appreciation of making organized noise sound good. He started choruses, glee clubs, concert, jazz, and marching bands at all levels within the school system. He directed dozens and dozens of Broadway musicals every spring at the High School, and exposed generations to not only the music of Broadway, but to acting as well. He expanded the role of the music department so much so that others needed to be hired to take some of the load as time went on.
When he wasn't teaching in the schools, he was teaching privately to students after hours, and in the evening he would play the piano for their parents at a local restaurant in town. On Sundays he played the organ in one of the several churches that stood around the town square. There were the countless weddings he was the organist at as well, and as the horn man, or piano player in a band at the receptions. He played every instrument there was, with exception of the oboe he once told me. He didn't play everyone of those instruments perfectly, but he did make wonderful music when he did play. On the piano he was fantastic, but on the trumpet, the instrument that he earned his Masters in Fine Arts on, he excelled.
He had an actual love affair with sound. All kinds of sound. He could hear a melody in the yard when two branches rubbed together on a windy day, and the wind chimes and Mourning Doves played backup. He could hum a familiar song to the rhythm of a tire on the pavement. He found music everywhere, and when he found it, he shared it with others. He would call his kids home in the evening with a shout from his trumpet, or a "secret whistle" from his lips. He wrote songs for his children after they were born, and sang to them to soothe them at night, or during fussy moments during the day. He planted fine seeds of appreciation of music early on in their lives, and coupled those lessons with more worldly instruction for life to come. That appreciation of a softer, sweeter side of life helped to guide them along the harder, bitter edge of life.
There was always a lesson to be taught, and to be learned, if one was willing.
Most towns have a person that comes along once every once in awhile that affects the generations around them in a positive, lasting, life long way. Medfield has had several, and Sturbridge has had them as well. We appreciate them them when they are here for how they touch us individually, and it is only after they are gone do we truly realize how wide that touch was. How many others were affected by the touch, the inspiration, and the lessons taught as well. People like this stand out. They stand out against the bland background of existence like a bright birch among the duller oaks. They are different, and we are not only lucky to have been touched by them, but also blessed.
Medfield will miss this amazing music man, this incredible teacher, as will I.
I miss you, Dad.
Photo © 2005-2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Brimfield: 207 Five Bridge Rd. Trail clean up and preparation for their 5K trail race on April 30th, along with trash and liter removal, loam raking and seeding along the recently completed section of trail out to RT 20, and spreading fine gravel. Tractor with buckets and small dump trucks are needed to support these projects.
Sturbridge: 10 Old Sturbridge Village Rd. Trail construction of the Arbutus Park trail, surface preparation and spreading fine gravel, bridge maintenance, brush clearing. Small tractors with buckets and dump trailers needed to support these projects.
Southbridge: Registration at Westville Recreation Area, trail work of improving and maintaining the West St school trail network. Spreading gravel, brush trimming and trail clearing are the scheduled projects.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: 125 Wallace Rd., Westville Recreation Area. Loam and seeding shoulders along the Grand Trunk Trail, shoulder repair and maintenance of the Community trail, and trash debris pickup after the recent high water are the scheduled projects.
Pre registration is requested to allow for proper planning of materials and supplies, as well as ordering enough pizza for lunch for all the volunteers. In case of heavy rain event will be postponed until April 23rd. Please dress for the weather, sturdy shoes, work gloves and a water bottle recommended. To preregister or for more information on trails or any questions contact:
Brimfield: Tony Bys at 413-245-9297, email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sturbridge: Randy Redetzke at 508-344-9823 or email; email@example.com
Southbridge: Ken Pickren at 508-765-6022, email at; firstname.lastname@example.org
Corps: Park Ranger Tom Chamberland at 508-347-3705, email at; Thomas.email@example.com
Grand Trunk Trail Blazers: Pat McGarrah at 508-347-3647, email at; firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year over 60 volunteers participated, the trail committees are looking to better that number this year but need your help to do so. Thanks for volunteering!
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Friday, March 11, 2011
I have mentioned here in the past when I do like a particular person. Just that feeling is special, because, although there are many people I like, there are few that I will declare my "like" for publicly.
Well, this morning is one of these mornings I am going public, and declaring my "like" for a person that is running for the one year term on the Board of Selectman, Angie Ellison. Angie, and her husband, Mike, and their two daughters are neighbors of ours, and ever since we first moved in a few years ago, she has always had a smile, a wave. This is important in our society of keeping ones distance, and not acknowledging those next to you. Does it make her a great candidate for selectman? Well, it's a start.
Besides being a welcoming neighbor, Angie is also very proactive. A couple of years ago I mentioned to her that I had been to the Post Office here in Fiskdale and had spoken to the Post Master about having all the mail boxes on Route 148 placed in front of their respective homes on their own side of the road. Route 148 was a lot busier than it was years ago, and having residents walk across the state highway to get their mail was not only something from the 1950's, but also very dangerous. I had been watching an elderly neighbor of ours "dash" across the road to her mailbox each day to retrieve her mail. When I saw her, I grabbed it for her, but there were far too many times I wasn't there. I was told, by the Post Master, to have a petition signed by all those on the road, and a reason for the requested change submitted to the Postal Service on a particular form. The Post Master did admit it was a dangerous situation, but the petition is how to get the government ball rolling.
I don't like red tape, and this was red tape. A simple route change, and notification to the residents to move their mailboxes from across the street to in front of their homes would have been all that would be needed, but this was the Federal government, not Wally World, and the red tape is built in.
I mentioned this to Angie one day, and she smiled, nodded in agreement that it needed to be done, and asked me to let her take on Operation Mailbox Move. I smiled back, and a short time later she came to me and told me that the Post Master had seen the danger of residents crossing the road to get their mail, and that a change would be coming soon. A few months later a notice went out from the Post Office, and residents made the mailbox move.
Now, how Angie did this without a petition, and government forms filled out is beyond me, but she did. I was surprised, but she wasn't at all.
Angie is not only proactive, a worker, and someone that can see the changes that can benefit others when those changes are either ignored, or not seen by others, she is also a good person, and neighbor. I know all this from personal experience.
I will always believe that good people deserve a chance to serve others if they have the desire. Angie has that desire, and has already served on two school committees in town. I have also witnessed Angie taking on a job after telling me she could do it, and then get it done as promised.
That's all I need; a good person telling me they will do something for others, and then doing it.
Something, and someone, to think about during this upcoming town election.
For more information on Angie Ellison go to her website at www.angelineellison.com --ed.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Imagine being interviewed for a position on the phone. No, not a pre-liminary interview, or a follow up secondary interview, but THE interview. Then imagine the person interviewing you saying that he had already decided on who was getting the job, and it wasn't you, but went on with the interview anyway.
Well, it happened here in town, not once, but twice, when Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski was interviewing candidates on the telephone for an opening on the Planning Board.
"I'm sorry I didn't handle that properly", Suhoski reportedly stated.
Hmm. Ya think?
Click here to read Worcester Telegram article on the subject.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Board of Selectman Chairman, Tom Creamer said, "I am frustrated by this whole thing. No one has directed the town not to open the doors."
The chairman also stated that there was a safety issue by directing the pedestrian traffic along the street to the rear of the building, and that by not opening the doors, the town was promoting that unsafe practice.
The chairman also stated that only the architect had told them that the doors could not be opened legally. The architect has not provided any documentation to back up that claim, either.
It has been more than six months, and nothing has been done.
(really deep breath, and pause...one...two...three...breath again...)
When I first read the original report in the "Sturbridge Selectmen Notebook" in the Town Common I almost went completely "Charlie Sheen".
Is it true that front doors of the new multimillion dollar restored / refurbished / rebuilt town hall are not being opened not because of some mandate from some American with Disabilities Board of Governors, or some cease and desist order from the state, or because some one lost the key, but it is because the architect said in passing, "Oh, I wouldn't use the front doors. They don't meet the ADA code".
The town has not met the requirements since the American with Disabilities Act became law with the sidewalks along Route 20 in Fiskdale, yet we still allow pedestrians to use the sidewalks. In fact, we insist that our residents clear the snow from those non-ADA compliant sidewalks (now there's an argument for residents to refuse to clear the snow).
Alright. So what's next?
"I have very little faith in the architect," selectman Scott Garieri stated.
Really? Great. Glad we hired them.
The Town Administrator, Shaun Suhoski, was asked by the Chairman of the BOS if the town had anything in writing telling the town not to open the doors.
"No.", said Suhoski.
"Open the doors, " said Garieri.
"I don't want to open them until we can be sure," said selectman Mary Dowling.
Be sure of what? If you wait to see if they are compliant, which they are, you will wait until the next building restoration. If you want to hasten things along, open the doors, and use them. The enforcement side of things always acts faster than the just asking a question, and getting an answer back. If you done wrong, they will find you. Don't worry.
Suhoski then stated that they did not ask the town counsel if the doors were in violation, but only asked him about how to get a variance. This is like calling AAA for a jump start without attempting to start the car.
It was at this point, during my reading of the original article in the Town Common, that my socks actually exploded from my feet and shot across the room.
This how you fix the problem: Open the doors. Leave them open. Lock them at night, and in the morning, open them again. Allow people to walk through the doors, both ways.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
The feast was fantastic! This was our second time there, and we will go again. It is that good. We started off by taking a sleigh ride through the still snow covered fields with about ten other folks. Last time we came the snow was mostly gone, and we were pulled about in a wagon. I liked this better.
|This man not only tended the huge fire, and cooked|
the beef, he also made the seafood chowder with our help.
There were folks from all over attending the feast. We met two couples from the Philadelphia area that had read about the feast in the Philadelphia Inquirer. They didn't know each other, but after we pointed out that they shared the same home state, they got to know each other right away. Meeting new people is always a lot of fun.
|Large sides of beef roast slowly in front of the|
meticulously tended fire.
If you have a chance, check out the Fireside Feast next year, or the Drovers Feast held outside during the summer in June and again in September. There is also a Murder Mystery Dinner Theater as well.
There is so much to offer within a very short distance of Sturbridge. As long as gas prices stay under $4.00 a gallon you may want to check them out.
And, it will get you mind off the gas prices, too.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
"When I initially supported the enforcement of this bylaw, I never imagined that we would have such an extraordinary amount of snow."
Oh, and the data below was "Googled" by me this morning in .83 seconds. It was my homework.