Autumn in the North Cemetery.

Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?

These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.

Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...

...seems to be working so far

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thanks For Your Patience; Still Here, But Busy As Heck

I have to apologize to the readers of Thinking Out Loud In Sturbridge for the lack of writing as of late.  Life is good, but has managed to ask for more of my time in other places.    I have a lot on mind, too.

Until next time, have any of you ever undergone a home renovation involving a general contractor, and several sub contractors?

How'd that go for you?  I'm curious.  I'd like to know if my expectations are set too high, or there is a stupidity portion of the licensing exam one must pass in order to be a licensed contractor in Massachusetts.

Just thinking.  More later.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Where Is This?

This sign is posted on a piece of town property; do you know where it is?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tantasqua Junior High Memorial Day Ceremony May 25

Tantasqua Regional Junior High School

Brimfield – Brookfield – Holland – Sturbridge – Wales

Memorial Day Ceremony

May 25, 2012

Dedicated to all those who answered the call and bravely served our country


8AM Veteran’s Breakfast
9AM- Band selection- “Washington Past March” by John Philip Sousa (Veterans march into the        gymnasium)

Welcome and “Pledge of Allegiance”
-  Daniel Durgin, Superintendent of Schools

Band selection- “The National Anthem” by Francis Scott Key, arr. by Andrew Balent

Recognition of Service in the Armed Forces (Veterans, please stand if you wish)

Air Force                    Army             Coast Guard
Marines                      Navy               National Guard

Band/Choral Selection- “American Heroes- A Salute to the Armed Forces” (The Caisson
Song, The Marine’s Hymn, Anchors Aweigh, Semper Paratus, The
U.S. Air ForceAmerica the Beautiful) arr. by Carl Strommen

-  Narration by Christopher Starczewski, Principal of Tantasqua Reg. Jr. High School
-    Lucy Colwell-Snyder, Instrumental Director

                  Guest Speakers
-          Elected Officials
o        Anne Gobi, State Representative
o        Stephen Brewer, Massachusetts State Senator
o        Lydia Goldblatt, Deputy State Director
-          Eugene Ethier Jr., Veteran of the Army
-          John Sares –Veteran of the Army

Choral Selections- “     “   by
-  Performed by the eighth grade Select Chorus
-  Matt Hart, Choral Director

Readings- Patriotic Prose and Poetry
-  Introduction by Christopher Starczewski, Principal

Band Selection- “Each Time You Tell Their Story” by Samuel Hazo

Featured Speaker

“Taps” Played by Maura Riel and Margaret Krauss

Conclusion and Band Selection– “Invicta” by James Swearingen

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Updated Memorial Day Schedule


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 28, 2012.  The parade will follow the same route as in the past, the parade will end on the Town Common the Celtic Thunder pipe and drum unit will provide music.  The Honorary Parade marshal for 2012 is Sturbridge Resident Roland “Rollie” Hewitt a WWII veteran and survivor of the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
 9:00 A.M.      Parade formation at the Old Fire Station at RT 20 & RT 148
 9:15 A.M. Parade Step-Off
 9:20 A.M. Parade Stops for ceremony at the American Legion Monument
9:30 A.M. Parade Stops in St. Anne’s Cemetery for service, reading of “In Flanders Field”
9:50 A.M. Parade Marches out of St. Anne’s to board buses
 10:15 A.M. Parade Reforms in front of Public Safety Complex
 10:20 A.M. Ceremony at Firefighters Monument
 10:25 A.M. Parade Step Off, 2nd part, proceeds to North Cemetery
 10:40 A.M. At North Cemetery, memorial service, reading of the Gettysburg Address
 10:55 A.M. Parade returns to Town Common for final ceremony
 11:00 A.M. Memorial Service for Old Cemetery, Decoration of Monuments, Replacement of the POW Flag, National Anthem and Flag raising, Guest speakers
11:30 A.M.     Dedication New Monument, Tribute to Armed Forces, H.S. Band, Decoration 
New Monument, Replacement Flags, National Anthem
 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 8:30 A.M., Safety complex at 8:40 A.M., Senior Center at 8:50 A.M. Legion Hall at 8:55 A.M. at Old Fire Station for 9:00.  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, 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....SMACK!; There Is A Better Way

"Online Service Request Information

We have begun accepting requests for spraying. 
note, this program will begin May 29, 
and current weather conditions and the backlog 
of service requests may delay our response to 
some extent; your patience is appreciated.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To receive service, you must live 
within our service area ß(click here).
This should be in response to a currently observed
 mosquito problem or need. Please assist our efforts by filling in 
all fields fully. We may not respond to incomplete 
questionnaires, and will not respond to anonymous service requests.
Response to this request will vary according to the current mosquito 
situation in the CMMCP service area. Please e-mail us or call            
 508.393.3055       and ask for Tim McGlinchy if you do not receive 
service within 2 weeks, or you require additional information. 
Thank you.
Please put “” in your
 “Safe Senders” list to receive your reply.
REQUEST FAXED ON OFFICIAL LETTERHEAD TO             (508) 393-8492       
Please send an e-mail to with the 
following information:
A Technician will be assigned to investigate this request as soon 
as possible. The results of this investigation may result in the application 
of a site specific mosquito insecticide. Pre-determined thresholds of
 larval and/or adult mosquitoes must be present at the time to
 warrant this targetedpplication. If current conditions do not exist at
 the time (poor weather, insufficient mosquito numbers, etc.), this 
investigation may be rescheduled to a future date. Please call our office 
at  508.393.3055       
if you require additional information. For information on the products
 used by CMMCP, please click here."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Another Voice: Vote Carefully At Town Meeting In June

Submitted by Barbara A. Search  for  "Another Voice"--ed.

Letter to the Editor

The Sturbridge 2013 Finance Committee Report is available online.  The hard copy won’t be available for another week.  The Annual Town Meeting is June 4 leaving little time for residents to review the budget, ask questions, and get answers before the meeting.
On page iv of the Report the Finance Committee creates an extreme cost cutting scenario that totally eliminates the Council on Aging (COA) and Recreation budgets and reduces the Library operating salaries/wages budget by 20%, among other budget cuts, if the article to level fund the 2013 budget is approved.  The Finance Committee calls this self-fulfilling approach a “nightmare budget” that will jeopardize the Town’s credit rating, disproportionately increase future taxes, and lower property values – all unrealistic and speculative outcomes. One hopes FinCom’s leadership over the years has not created such a fragile budget that one or two years of belt tightening will put the Town on the brink of destruction.
The Sturbridge Finance Committee is using typical scare tactics to suggest budget cuts that would eliminate the least costly, best value for the dollar, services a town has to offer its citizens. As a former Council on Aging Director, I speak from experience when I say the services offered by the Sturbridge COA are essential to the health, well-being, and financial stability of many Sturbridge senior citizens.  Senior fun and parties make the headlines but serious work is done behind the headlines through one-on-one contact and counseling with at-risk seniors.  Contrary to what some people think Sturbridge has its share of at-risk seniors who have difficulty buying groceries, paying heating costs, and paying real estate taxes. The value of COA services far exceeds the cost of providing them.
Speaking without the hyperbole employed by FinCom in their attempt to evoke fear among residents, I suggest there are several articles and budget items in the warrant for the upcoming Annual Town Meeting, if voted down, will result in cost savings without a reduction in services.
We are often reminded that the citizens are the legislative body of government and that we, the citizens, vote for all the budget expenditures.  While we have the responsibility to vote wisely, the town leaders have the responsibility to provide timely, thorough, accurate, and unbiased information that will enable the citizens to make smart choices.
Remember to attend the Annual Town Meeting on June 4 at 7 p.m. at Tantasqua Regional High School, ask questions, challenge those in power, and vote carefully.
Barbara A. Search

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Venting Out Loud In Sturbridge

Today I should change the name of this blog to Venting Out Loud In Before My Head Explodes In Sturbridge.  Below are some things that are annoying the bejeepers out of me.

Sharing. It's a good thing.

  1. School systems are either considering, or have already banned bake sales during school hours.   As if this is going to help with childhood obesity.  If they want to help, schedule PE for an hour a day.
  2. Parents encouraging their children to have heart attacks in their 20's by not serving the right food, not teaching them to eat the right food, and allowing them to sit in their rooms for days on end playing World of Warcraft until their butts are too big to  fit through the door.
  3. The same parents accepting a phone call from their child's bedroom, and the child asking what was for dinner.
  4. Toddlers in Tiaras.
  5. Anybody in a tiara with a show on cable.
  6. Anybody with a last name that starts with a "K", and has a show on cable.
  7. A cable show about housewives from anywhere.
  8. Dr. Phil
  9. Anything at all on the Maury Povich Show
  10. Any housewife with a last name beginning with a "K", wearing a tiara, asking for life advice from Dr. Phil on Maury.
  11. Any cable show that the cable network states is not exploitative, but stars little people, toddlers, hoarders, addicts, or everyday kids from the Jersey shore.
  12. TMZ
Ok.  That's about it for now.  I feel better now.  Feel free to to add your own.  You'll be surprised at how good you feel afterwards.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wool Days" Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village - Memorial Day Weekend May 26-28

OSV Sheep get yearly “haircuts”
Sheepherding demonstrations
Free admission for active U.S. military and families

(STURBRIDGE, MA) – May 8, 2012:  The sheep at Old Sturbridge Village will get their annual “haircuts” during Memorial Day Weekend May 26-28 as the Village celebrates “Wool Days.” Sheepherding exhibitions with Border Collies are scheduled all day long on Saturday May 26, and OSV farmers will demonstrate sheep shearing 1830s-style throughout the weekend.

Active members of the U.S. military and their immediate family members (spouse, parents, and children under 18) will receive free OSV admission beginning Saturday, May 26. (The free military admissions are funded by donations to the museum's annual Field of Flags campaign). For more information and event details: 800-SEE-1830;

Wool carding, spinning, knitting, and more

Once the sheep are sheared, Village historians in costume will demonstrate the entire wool textile process, from scouring and carding the wool to spinning, knitting and weaving. 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.

Those who enjoy knitting and crocheting can join Village staff in helping to knit scarves for American soldiers with hand-dyed OSV wool yarn. Visitors can add their own knitted rows to this ongoing project in partnership with the Scarves for Afghanistan Project. Knitting needles, crochet hooks, patterns, and the yarn will be provided.

Visitors can meet an alpaca and a llama from Orchid Patch Farm in Southbridge, Mass. and see how their wool differs from sheep wool. OSV historians will conduct spinning demonstrations throughout the weekend using the alpaca and llama wool to spin into yarn with an early 19th-century spinning wheel. 

Other highlights include meeting new baby animals, lambs, chicks and piglets, the return of the Old Sturbridge Village stagecoach and the river boat ride, and old-fashioned Base-Ball games played 1830s-style. Throughout Memorial Day weekend, visitors can also try using a modern process to dye wool at the Hands-on Craft Center and they can take home their own small skein of Old Sturbridge Village sheep wool (fee applies). For all times and details: 800-SEE-1830;

Sheepherding Exhibitions Saturday, May 28

Veteran Sheepherder David Kennard and his team of Border Collies from Wellscroft Farm in Chesham, New Hampshire, will demonstrate the dogs' innate ability to herd not just sheep, but pigs, ducks, and goats as well.According to Kennard, the Border Collie breed's quiet power and balance, along with its intelligence and ability to control animals by staring at them with a "predatory eye" makes this type of dog uniquely talented in retrieving livestock. At the end of the sheepherding demonstration, Kennard rewards his dogs by playing Frisbee and interacting with the audience.

Old Sturbridge Village Heritage Breed Sheep

When sheared, the OSV sheep each produce about five pounds of wool. They are a heritage breed descended from sheep brought by Spaniards to the U.S. Gulf coast in the 1500s and closely resemble the 19th-century sheep breed commonly found on New England farms in the 1830s. Their fleece is soft, and the lanolin in the wool is great for the hands. In fact, shearing is one of the few tasks in the farmer's year which will actually improve the condition of his hands.

Sometimes sheep farmers in the early 1800s had to deal with the care of lambs rejected by their mothers.  The alternative was to feed milk to the lamb by hand unless a foster mother could be found. A lamb raised by hand is called a "cosset lamb," and probably Mary's little lamb from the famous poem “whose fleece was white a snow…” was tame because it was being raised by hand.

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. seven days a week.  OSV offers free parking and a free return visit within 10 days. Admission: $24; seniors $22; children 3-17, $8; children 2 and under, free. For or call 800-733-1830.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tomorrows Office Hours For John Kerry's Staff at Sturbridge Town Hall

"U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., announced his staff will hold additional office hours in Sturbridge and Brookfield on Wednesday to discuss local issues, offer assistance on individual cases, and answer any and all questions.
“If you live in Sturbridge or Brookfield, you shouldn't have to drive to Boston or any of my state offices to get help, so we're bringing the team to your doorstep,” Kerry said in a statement. “Whether it’s answering questions, cutting through red tape, or providing folks with additional resources – we want to make sure that we’re helping everyone we can in any way we can.”
So far in 2012, Kerry’s staff has held office hours 39 different locations throughout the state.
In Sturbridge, citizens can stop by the town hall, 308 Main St., between 10 a.m. and noon and find Kerry's staff in conference room 1. In Brookfield, office hours are from 1 to 3 p.m. at Brookfield Town Hall, 6 Central St.
Information about future office hours is available online at Kerry's Senate website."
--© 2012 All rights reserved.

Memorial Day Parade Schedule And Dedication Of New Veterans Honor Roll

The following is the schedule for the Memorial Day Parade in Sturbridge on May 28, 2012.

9:00  Form At Community Center  (dance studio at the corner of Route 20 and Route 148 in Fiskdale)
9:15 Step - Off
9:25 Ceremony at Legion
9:45 Ceremony St Anne's cemetery
 a. Honor Guard salute and "Taps"
9:55 Leave St Anne's for buses at Senior Center
10:15 Reform at Safety Complex (break)
10:30  Ceremony Fire/Police Monument
10:40 Step Off from Complex to North Cemetery
 11:00 Ceremony at North Cemetery  
         a. Honor Guard salute and "Taps"
11:15 Leave North Cemetery for Town Hall

11:30 Regroup at Town Hall for dedication of new Monument:
         a. guest speakers and dedication of new monument
         b. Armed Forces musical tributes
         c. Revolutianry gun salute and "Taps"
         d. replacement of flags and National Anthum
 12:00 Open House American Legion Hall Post 109 on Main Street.

Bus transportation will be available before, during and after the parade. Anyone needing transportation is asked to contact the American Legion at 508-347-3248 and leave a message.
Submitted by Mike Splaine

Meet The Selectmen Sessions Announced

Yesterday, I received an email from newly elected selectman, Mary Redetzke.   As with every newly elected official, Mary only wants to do the very best job she can for those that she represents.  Doesn't matter if you voted for her , or not, this ambition is the same for most elected to public office.  Her plan for a venue to hear concerns of Sturbridge residents is admirable, and although it is not mentioned in her plan sent to me, follow up on those concerns will need to be done as well.

This is where most elected to office fail, the follow up.  I've expressed concerns, and I've been told that a follow up would be done, and have had to wait longer than a year, and then again asked for more time.  For some, I am still waiting two years out.

If Mary wants to succeed, she is starting off in the right direction, and as long as she doesn't follow the lead of others that fail with the follow through, and resolution parts, she will do fine.  Her head appears to be in the right place.

Of course, I have thought the very same thing about others in the beginning of their service to the town as well, and have been disappointed.  Disappointment, and politics seem to go hand in hand a good deal of the time. I hope that every once in a while there would be one time that it wouldn't, and that the disappointment would be replaced by excitement, and hope.

"...Something new….  Just getting started.     A Meet the Selectman session will be  at The Sturbridge Coffee House from 9: 30 to 10:30  on Tuesday morning, the 10th of  May. Another will be Saturday morning, the  12th of May,  same place, same time.    Since I am the newest member on the BOS I bought this forward as an informal way to talk with people.  All  information will be taken back to a future BOS Meeting.     There will never be a quorum, no long discussions or problem solving,  as only  a maximum of  two selectman will be there every time.   This is a simple, basic effort to reach out and hear some concerns.

There  will be   more  scheduled in May and   I am  just working out the details."

-- Mary E. Redetzke

Your move Mary, and stay in touch.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Want Some Free Money?

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to reduce my electric bill beyond what I had already done. I received a letter from Easy Energy of Massachusetts in Bolton, Massachusetts.  In the letter the company stated that they were offering electricity for a lesser amount than National Grid, and I could receive the savings, and keep National Grid as my supplier.

I don't think it took me more than a few seconds to sign up.

Easy Energy would be the supplier of the actual electricity, and National Grid would deliver it to us as always.  National Grid would also be the the folks that would remain responsible for the infrastructure surrounding the wires leading to our house as it always had been as well.

This offer was one of those that come along once in awhile that is simply a no-brainer.  We would continue to receive electricity, but at a rate lower than currently offered, and it was not going to cost me anything to say yes.  It is also one of the offers that we all receive that we open, mumble something like, "Yeah, right.", and toss in the trash.

If you receive the offer, don't toss it in the trash.  Call Easy Energy, and sign up.  You won't be sorry.

A few days ago I received an email from Easy Energy telling me that I was now saving 13% more than a National Grid customer that received their energy only from National Grid.

13% savings.  

This was based on a National Grid rate of 8.265% for six months, and an Easy Energy rate of 7.3%.

Now, when you couple this savings with the savings we have experienced by switching over our incandescent light bulbs to the ugly fluorescent ones, and all new Energy Star appliances, we are saving a lot.  Our electric bill was $69.24 this month.  That is a whole lot less than it was when we moved in six years ago; at least 50-60% better, and we can still save more.

Now, I'm not an energy saving freak, but if I can save money by just doing simple things that require little, or no effort on our part, then I'm game.

The appliances that came with the house were from the 1970's, and mid 1980's, so replacing any of them was going to definitely save us money, and it has.

Switching light bulbs seems so benign, but it has obviously had an enormous effect as well.  Last month I bough one of the new LED bulbs and put it on the front porch.  The light is constant, not too clinical, and since it's an LED light bulb, it will last a couple of thousand years.

No, not really, maybe 10,000 hours, but that's close.

Saving 13% was easy, and although I don't mind doing tough, doing easy is more fun.

If you would like to learn more about Easy Energy you can go to their web site at, or  call (866) 779-0449.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The New And Improved Trolley Trail

Mary and I enjoy walking along the all the various trails in town.  Each one offers something completely different.  Westville has been one of our favorite trails.  The nice thing about walking around Westville is that one can edit their walk to any length they happen to be in the mood for. 

Sometimes we will park in the lot in front of the main gate, and head west on the trail along the river, and above Old Mashapaug Road.  The trail offers a great view of the river below, and the sound of the water rolling over the rocks is nice to hear.  After a bit, we will come to the Ed Calcutt Bridge, a steel bridge that crosses the Quinebaug River.  After starring off down the river from the midle of the bridge, we take a short walk over the bridge, and up the grade to River Street, where we turn left and head down the road to Old Mashapaug road.  At Old Mashapaug Road we take another left, and follow it along the other side of the river.  The view is equally as good from high over the water on the this side as it on the other side.  After awhile, the old  abandoned road  feeds onto the the portion currently maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers along the river, and  after short time, we are back at the parking lot. 

That walk is just about three miles, and if we are in the mood, we keep going for a lap around the dam.

The Westville Dam area always has a number of walkers, hikers, bicyclists, dog walkers, and folks pushing strollers around the trails.  It has picnic tables, and  two covered pavilions for large groups that can be reserved for events.  The compacted stone dust makes for good walking, and biking.

Yesterday, we decided to skip Westville, and take a look at the Old TrolleyTrail off of Holland Road.  It's located on the right just before the bridge.  We first walked on Trolley Trail a few years ago, and it was as it must have been when it was first hacked out of the overgrowth by Bob Briere, and others in the 1980's; a bit rustic.  The trail followed the old trolley line, and ended at the Quinebaug River a short distance away.  At the site of the old bridge abutments at the rivers edge was a park bench secured in concrete facing the river, a nice place to sit and veg as one soaked in the view and sound of the river.

The Trolley Trail extension looking up towards the
East Brimfield Dam area from where the trail
used to end..
The trail was simple, and short.  We hiked along the large rip rap along the waters edge up to the East Brimfield Dam, and then returned to the trail via another trail through the meadow, and woods.  This portion of the trail had areas marked with numbers that corresponded to a map.  Each number indicated a plant, or area of interest to the hiker.  It was a nice trail, but I remember thinking that it was disappointing that the trail ended before the dam.

Looking toward the old terminus of the trail with the
Quinebaug River on the right.

Yesterdays hike was very different.  The old trail has undergone a major face lift in 2011. It was widened, covered with a new layer of stone dust, brush cleared from along its edges, new drainage, and culverts installed, and when Mary and I got to park bench at the river we were amazed to see that the trail had been extended all the way up to the dam!

The extension had been hacked out of the woods, the stumps removed, a new trail bed laid down with drainage, and culverts along its edge.  The Brush along the river was cleared away and offered a wonderful view of the rushing water from the dam.

We really were amazed.

Keith Beecher
As we continued to walk up toward the dam on the new trail we came across Keith Beecher of the Army Corps of Engineers.  He asked us how we enjoyed the new trail, and we told him how delighted we were.  Keith told us all about how the trail had been built, where the funds had come from, and how the volunteers had done so much of the grunt work along with Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Tom Chamberland.

We asked him where the trail would go now, would it just stop at the lakes edge, and one would have to walk along the unprotected shoulder of Route 20 to access the Brimfield side.  Keith said that that was the  big question, and that nobody had had an epiphany as of yet. 

I asked if they had considered along side of Route 20 with a separate bike path separated by guardrails from the main road, which I was sure they had, but wanted to know how they felt about it.  Keith said they had, but he preferred that the hiking trail be lower than the road way in order to make those on foot, and on bicycle, safer from the traffic on Route 20.

I like that idea.

Now all it takes is money to design and build it that portion of the trail,  and also a bridge on the Brimfield side to cross the Quinebaug River like the Ed Calcutt Bridge in the Westville Dam area.

Simple ideas, not so simple in obtaining funding.

In the meantime, take a morning, and check out the new trail, or maybe bring a lunch, and enjoy it along side of the river.

Places like this are special, and meant to be enjoyed by all. 

In the meantime, I am sure Keith and Tom will eventually come up with a plan to complete the Sturbridge end of the trail, and a way to fund it.  What was considered impossible has been done before, what's one more impossibility to conquer?