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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Welcome Cinemagic!

It's been a good busy so far this summer.  It's also been a bit of a stressful past month and a half, as well.   Yes, there have been some challenges on the home renovation front, and,  as of today, we are are a bit closer to resolving all the problems.  Hopefully, this cluster flub of a home improvement project will be completed by next weekend.

In the meantime, Mary and I needed to relax.  Chill.  Take five, and today we did.  We took in a movie.  Nothing new there, but this time we did it in Sturbridge!!

Let me say that again.

We went to the movies in Sturbridge!!
At a real eight screen, multiplex, Dolby 7.0 surround sound, digital picture cinema!!!

No more trips to the Blackstone Valley Cinema.  They are fine, in fact, they are great, but the new Cinemagic multiplex at the Hobbs Brooks Plaza is three miles from our house, surrounded by shops, and restaurants we use all the time.  

Today we took in "Madagascar 3".  The folks behind the popcorn counter were learning, and friendly.  The ticket taker was friendly, and learning, as were the ushers. I think their average age was eleven, or maybe it is me that is just older, and anyone younger than twenty looks eleven.  No matter, they were nice, and we were well received.

Supporting the local business is a simple step anyone can do to help fix the economy.  If we can eat, shop, and be entertained within a few miles of our homes, why not?  It was the entertainment factor that has been missing here in town for some time, but today, it is back.  

The neat thing is I can go to Walmart, pick up a box of trash bags, then  take in a movie.  

How sweet is that?

Welcome to Sturbridge, Cinemagic.  I know we'll be getting to know one another real well.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Alright, Brainiacs, Where Was 'Em?

Well, that last "where is it?" was pounced on, and solved in short order.  Now, I have a two more head scratchers for you to dwell on over the weekend.

Everyone remembers Rom's restaurant on Main Street acrcoss from the shopping plaza, but how many of you remember their sister restaurant in Fiskdale, Rom's Broaster House?   Do you remember where it was?  When it was open? Did you work there?

Lanctot Bros. Clothing Mart in Fiskdale.  Do you remember anything about this store?  Do you remember where it was?

I hope these two "Where Was 'Ems" have you thinking a bit, and aren't too easy.  For me, they are a stumper since I moved to town long after five digit phone numbers were in vogue.

If you know anything about either one of theses establishments, leave a comment.

The Bay Path Motel

Well, I guess that little piece of hospitality history, in the photo to the left, is well know by many. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

"Is now the closed "economy" motel on RT 20 across from Riverview Ave., west end of Sturbridge... Don't you just love that sign!

Tom C"


Are you serious about where the Bay Path Motel is?

If you are, some history. The motel is located at 682 Main Street and was built in 1978 by George Crompton, an English bloke, and he and his (very nice) family ran it until 2001. It was then sold to Yen Hospitality and, in 2006, changed owners again to Fiskdale Hospitality LLC.

The last time I went by it was an Econo Lodge.

Janet Celuzza"


I believe the Bay Path Motel is on rte 20 in the area across from G  & F Industries near the Brimfield town line. It is still there and has a different name and is for sale.  
A few more details come to mind  the Bay Path is on rte 20 across from Riverview road and is for sale and I believe the last name it had was Econo Lodge.

Liz Banks"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

It's Far More Than Fifty Words, But It's A Response

I have a good relationship with the Chairman of the Board of Selectman.  After I posted yesterdays article the Chairman wrote back, and addressed me as "Mr. Hersee".  An obvious sign he was a wee bit pissed off.  The response was not in the tone I have always expected from Tom.  There was emotion in his words. Apparently yesterdays post touched a nerve.

Tom also wrote, "I do hope that this clarification will help reduce any anxiety this situation may be causing you with respect to consistency, while providing the necessary and appropriate level of accuracy you should expect from elected officials in response to your concerns."

If I wasn't such a fan of sarcasm myself I may have been offended. 

So, what we have here is the reason for the first suspension, and the current suspension, had nothing to do with what the media has reported the first time, and assumed this time, his tardiness.

There is another reason.  A secret, not for publication, private reason.  Well, that's fairly obvious.  What we have done is only ruled out the tardiness.

OK.  Good enough for me.  The reason is private for the second suspension in 16 months, and as I wrote in the last post, if the issue is medical, psychological, or personal, I don't need to know.  What I do need to know is how the situation is to be rectified beyond repeated suspensions?

Yes, Tom, with this, I am concerned, would like to be reassured, but just how does one do that with such a private matter?

Below is the email I received this evening:

"Mr. Hersee,

In reading your latest post, I thought it prudent to provide some information specific to your query as to why this time is different than the last. To be clear, it is absolutely no different than the last time and is in fact being handled in the exact same manner. As I understand from my own experience that the passage of time can cloud recollection, I thought it worthwhile to provide you with passages from two different newspapers - both reporting on the 2011 suspension of the T.A. You will note that nowhere does the Board or any member thereof provide the reasoning behind the suspension. In fact, the "reasons" provided for such were speculation on the part of those reporting on the situation, and were in no way referenced by members of the Board or myself. I do hope that this clarification will help reduce any anxiety this situation may be causing you with respect to consistency, while providing the necessary and appropriate level of accuracy you should expect from elected officials in response to your concerns.

Southbridge Evening News - Monday February 14, 2011“In terms of the specific reasons for the town administrator’s temporary removal, I can only say that it is a personnel matter involving action taken by the Board of selectmen under executive session, section 21 paragraph A-1, and is therefore not subject to public disclosure” said Board of Selectmen Chairman Thomas Creamer...Speculation abounds that Suhoski, who began working as town administrator in April 2010, was disciplined by member of the board for excessive tardiness to work and town meetings. On Dec. 20 the board submitted a performance evaluation of Suhoski’s first 8 months on the job that included mostly negative reviews…His failure to satisfactorily respond to a clear directive from the board to establish a “no later than 9 a.m. start time” is a clear example of his failure/inability to accurately interpret the direction of the board”, the evaluation read.

Worcester Telegram & Gazette – Thursday, February 10, 2011: 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. 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.”



Thomas R. Creamer, Chairman - Board of Selectman,
Town of Sturbridge
308 Main Street
Sturbridge, MA 01566"

So, Tell Me, Just How Is This Time Any Different From The Last Time?

There is something terribly wrong.  Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski has been suspended, with pay.


In February 2011 Suhoski was suspended for five days for excessive tardiness.  He had been told to come into work by 9:00 AM the previous October, and admitted to still coming in late to work, hence the suspension.

Tardiness, and discipline related to the tardiness are personnel matters.  Mr. Suhoski is a employee of of ours, so when one of our employees is disciplined for an issue while they are on the job, we are entitled to know the details, just as we were when he was suspended the first time.  Things we may not be entitled to know about are medical, psychological, or personal issues, but if they interfere with performance, things would have to be considered.

This time the selectmen are not giving the reason for our Town Administrators suspension; one of our employees.  Board chairman Tom Creamer told the Worcester Telegram that no further information would be released because it is a personnel matter.

Tom, it was last time, too.  What is the difference this time?  When the Board closes up, and states the reason is because it is a personnel matter, despite the fact that previous personnel matters with the same employee have been made public, then something is up.

I don't like delving into dirty laundry.  That's not what I do, but when others set themselves up for questioning since the action is contrary to past actions, then I am stuck. I have to address it, especially since it affects us.

Now, it is up to the board to give the residents of Sturbridge a reason for the suspension.

Hopefully, in fifty words, or less.

The article below is from the Worcester Telegram & Gazette --ed.

Sturbridge suspends town administrator Suhoski


Article published Jun 12, 2012

STURBRIDGE —  Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski has been suspended for three days with pay, effective midnight tonight through midnight Friday.

The Board of Selectmen issued the three-day disciplinary action at last night's selectmen meeting.

During the time Mr. Suhoski is on suspension, inquiries and/or town related business matters can be directed to Department of Public Works Director Gregory H. Morse, who is serving as an acting town administrator, according to a statement made by Thomas R. Creamer, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

In February 2011, selectmen suspended Mr. Suhoski for five business days, most likely because of what they regarded as his excessive tardiness. In October 2010, the board voted that the town administrator arrive at work by 9 a.m., but, at the time, Mr. Suhoski had acknowledged often coming in later.

Mr. Suhoski was named town administrator in February 2010. Before his position in Sturbridge, Mr. Suhoski had been Ayer town administrator since 2006.

Selectmen will not provide any further information about the issue because it is a personnel matter, Mr. Creamer said. 

Copyright 2012 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Have Faith And Look

On  the one year anniversary of the tornado that tore through our town on its way from Springfield to to Southbridge, I was tempted to write about the event.  Sometimes I have to let others speak, and admit that the words that I could write would add little to the remembrance of that day.  Then, I thought about 215 Main Street.  

215 Main Street is a handsome, recently built colonial home that until that day the tornado arrived, was surrounded by tall pines.  The tornado came from the west, across Route 84, into the Days Inn on Haynes Street, down and onto the wetlands behind the Public House, and up the rise behind the Sturbridge Auto Body on its way to Fiske Hill.  The tornado came up that rise directly toward 215 Main Street.

View Larger Map

215 Main Street two years before the tornado. For a view of how the area looked before the storm, click on the above photo for the  street view on Google Maps, and follow the road to town.

Acres of tall pines, and other trees were snapped, and tossed about the landscape.  The auto body building was destroyed.  The trees behind, on both sides, and in front of 215 Main Street were snapped, and blown over, but number 215 Main Street was untouched.  

The morning after the storm I walked along Main Street, and was stunned by the devastation.  I was even more taken aback by that colonial house on Main Street.  Although destruction surrounded the home on all sides, it was if two hands had cupped themselves around it during those high winds, and spared the house, and those within, from harm.

There was so much to take in during those days after the storm.  So much damage.  It's natural for ones eyes to focus on the damage, after all, that is what a tornado is, but there in the midst of all that was broken was a sign.  A sign that despite it all, all the power, all the unstoppable destruction of those winds, there was  a moment of mercy.

Today, after a year, that touch of mercy, and so many others, have spread from the initial horrendous moment.  They have comforted those hurt, reassured those repairing things broken, given hope to those still struggling, and confirmed to the rest of us that there are always signs of promise amidst the havoc.  One need only to have faith, and look.