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

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wait For It

Actually, this is a simple process.

Let's put aside all the questions as to who hired the consultant to prepare a report on the Sturbridge Fire Department, and all the other questions as to why, let's just deal with the contents of the report.

For now.

First, we need to go a  bit further, and dismiss the level of experience the consultant may have in preparing reports; we really don't know what his experience is.  What we do know is he has been a fire chief in his town, and a police chief, and that his town of Mendon thinks enough of his experience to allow him to do both.  That alone speaks volumes.  His ability to run a business utilizing his experience is also noteworthy.

Now, lets just look at the report.  Is any of it true?  Yes.  Were there things mentioned in the report that were already being addressed by the department, and the town?  Apparently, yes.  Are there things within the report that need correction?  Yes.

And, finally, were  there things reported that were purposely over zealous examples, or had been explained by the Chief prior to the writing of the report? Was the reports purpose more of "witch hunt", and not a true investigative / corrective endeavor?

At the moment, those questions are subjective.  We can only go by what has been told to us by the Town Administrator, and what has been revealed at public meetings.

So, based on what we have been told, heard, and seen thus far; was the report needed, required, accurate, and most of all, will it lead to positive change?  Or, will it sit in a desk drawer somewhere, and the only action coming from the report will be to support actions made against the Chief?

I don't have a clue, but I feel I am up to speed thus far, and now, like you, just waiting for the next episode.

Corrective Actions, not disciplinary, would be best.  Which direction will the town go will answer those current, unanswerable, subjective questions.

Wait for it.  I'm afraid there is more to come.


  1. Mr. Horn claimed he had spoken to department heads but refused to say which ones or even say how many he had spoken to. He claimed that his report had nothing to do with the fire station's success rate. His report made various claims that were not what he made them out to be, and some that had merit.

    The chairman of the BOS went on and on about his own qualifications and wonderfulness as he seemed to attempt to hammer nails into our fire chief, and even mentioned God himself and Satan. What an embarrassment to himself and to this town. I never expected Tom Creamer to
    go off as badly as he did at this meeting, where he allowed no one to speak with or even sit with the chief as he drove in the nails, and had police present to remove anyone who made any sign of commentary. When he said he didn't care if God himself...., a groan erupted from the the dozen firefighters who were in attendance, and Mr. Creamer told them that if they made one more sound the police would take them out. FRIGHTENING

  2. Just a note: Your picture background on your site, the trees are so dark that the print is not visible to read. HELP

  3. Update your browser to the newest version, or change your browser to Firefox, or Safari. Thank you. Older browsers seem to have this issue.

  4. I think Creamer would not have go on about his "qualifications" if Blanchard had not told the T&G that Mr. Horn was not an "expert" and try to discredit his findings. Creamer listed his qualifications to make the point that he has expertise in the area of fire safety and he found the report to be of merit.
    I am not a fan of Creamer, but I was disgusted that Blanchard tried to make it seem like these findings were no big deal--some of these findings are quite serious and can jeopardize lives. She always defends town employees even when there is evidence to the contrary. Maybe she has too many personal relationships that cloud her judgment because she has lived here so long.
    I thought Mr. Horn was well spoken and defended his findings in a professional manner. I found him to be sincere in trying to bring these deficiencies to the attention of town management in order to prevent a tragedy. In addition, there was discussion that previous/current BOS and TA had heard of some of these deficiencies prior to this report and did nothing to address.
    If Blanchard wants to keep Sturbridge's problems from being publicized on Boston news channels, perhaps she should start trying to solve the problems rather than sweep them under the carpet. As much as Creamer's behavior was "frightening" to the previous poster, I found Blanchard's behavior to be more frightening. It seems she wants to censor what the citizens of Sturbridge know about issues that jeopardize their safety. Shame on her!

  5. Man's inhumanity to manWednesday, April 17, 2013

    I am so ashamed of the chairman of the board of selectmen, and the way the event he called an "inquiry" was held. The only thing missing was the bare light hanging over the head of the fire chief. The report was in some cases wrong and in others terribly exaggerated - an embarrassment. The treatment of the fire chief was brutal.

    We have people saying insulting things while they prop themselves up as being brilliant. The brains in some of these individuals seem to know nothing of true caring for their fellow man.

    Our fire department has a great record in action, and I have never, in more years than I care to admit, heard a complaint about their response. Whenever we have needed them they were there. Oh, course, Mr. Horn didn't care about that. That wasn't his job, man!

  6. Nightmare is passing bogus info. I watched the meeting and Creamer response was about Dowling making a big deal about some email that Creamer and Horn were copied on. Neither of them wrote the email. They just were copied on it and Dowling tried to make some big conspiracy out of it. His comment was he didn't care if Jesus Christ was copied on the email that didn't mean that he was part of it either. Funny how people spend more time focused on Creamer and Horn than the fact that this town has a JOKE of a fire department and two selectpeople that are trying to sweep everything under the rug.

  7. Dear Mr. Creamer, Karma is a B*tch

    Mr. Senecal deserves more from this town.. let the gentleman retire with the peace and dignity he deserves.

  8. Watched the InquisitionWednesday, April 17, 2013

    There was nothing bogus about what Nightmare wrote.

  9. Tom Creamer was way out of line with his reactions and remarks. He needs to step off the Board of Selectmen. He does not have the dignity or respect of others to serve.

  10. Tom Creamer is the saviour of Sturbridge. He is going to fix everything. He will get this town in ship shape in no time, like no one else can....just ask him.

  11. Are you saying that Tom Creamer thinks he's the
    Second Coming?????

  12. As someone who has 20 plus years experience in an industry that is regulated and audited by the FDA, USDA, EU, as well as, other agencies to ensure standards, policies, and procedures are followed for the safety of the public, I'm surprised at some of the reactions to this report. Chief Horn did what he was asked to do. Some citizens think that because of his long service, Chief Senecal should have the right to collect his pay check and wait for retirement without ensuring his department follows standards, policies, and procedures that are put in place to protect public safety. I wonder if Blanchard would cite Chief Horn as an "expert" if he had looked the other way, given Chief Senecal and the SFD a glowing assessment, and then something tragic happened because the SFD was not in compliance. I'm sure she would be the first one to say that an "expert" had recently assessed the SFD and found no issues.
    Chief Senecal had an opportunity to defend his job performance in light of the report during the Channel 5 interview. He used the words "wake up call". Those aren't the words I would use if I felt the report was full of inaccuracies about my job performance and department.
    Overall, the meeting was business as usual for this dysfunctional BOS--better than any comedy on network TV. Here's an idea--perhaps Creamer should be the new TA so his job performance can be evaluated by the BOS and he can "fix" Sturbridge. Blanchard and Dowling need to leave the BOS as well. In my opinion, they are no longer objective on many issues. Keep Gimas and Redetske-it seems they think before they speak and would be better served with 3 new members.

  13. Somebody doesn't play nicelyThursday, April 18, 2013

    Horn wouldn't answer many of the questions that were posed to him. He said he spoke to department heads. Fine. How many did he speak to? He wouldn't even say how many. He gave little to back up many of his statements. "How many?" is not a very probing question.
    Even with our chief's short comings,there was NO reason for Creamer to treat the chief in the disrespectful way he was treated. None.

  14. The real person to audit this was the State Fire Marshall not this Horn as he even admitted this is his first try at being a consultant.

    Here is the person we should have gone to and would have received a good evaluation and would have not costed us $3200.00 for bunch of toilet paper.

    "The mission of the Department of Fire Services is, through coordinated training, education, prevention, investigation, and emergency response, to provide the citizens of Massachusetts with the ability to create safer communities; to assist and support the fire service community in the protection of life and property; to promote and enhance firefighter safety; and to provide a fire service leadership presence in the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security in order to direct policy and legislation on all fire related matters.

    Stephen D. Coan
    State Fire Marshall

  15. All the Creamer haters (well the two posting multiple times) reinforce the reasons I voted for him and will continue to. He's not afraid of the good old boys. On the other hand they really do fear him. They've been losing their grip since he got in. There's no more winks and nods for a certain few at the expense of others. Yup, nice to see we're finally taking back control of our town. Nice to see the good old boys gnashing their teeth in anger and fear.

  16. I agree with Billy Bob Not. I will continue to support Creamer as i like the fact that he stands up to the good ole boys, that's a pretty good way to describe it. If things are broke they need fixing. I do not like how he talks to others at times, it is concerning. He does need to tone it down a bit. I would react in a similar way to some of the sarcastic remarks coming from the members sitting to my right. 3 of the 5 members need to learn how to talk to each other in a more civil way. I would much rather have them disagree than always agree and continue with business as usual.

    I would like the State Fire Marshall to chime in on the report as he is a professional. Did Chief Horn do a good job on his report? Its seems to me that it was pretty well written and professionally done. Then again i am not a professional.

  17. The name "Billy Bob" with the "Not" after the name sure seems to be a put down of those the above persons see as the "Billy Bobs" of this world. This group is also using the words "good ole boys" and "homeys" as put downs. So, I guess this means that anyone who has worked for this town for a long period of time is a "good ole boy." I would like this group to tell us how many years does one have to live in this town to become a "homey." They had better decide if they,too, should stay here for a long period of time, because, before you know it, they,too, will become homeys. I guess that would somehow make them "undesirables" in their own town, too?

    Remember, a higher education is wonderful, but it doesn't make you a nicer person than the next guy, and, sometimes, if you let it, it can teach you how to put your nose in the air and not see others as you walk all over them.
    It's time to ready about those "Star Bellied Sneeches" again, kiddos.

  18. Embattled Sturbridge fire chief remains in charge

    STURBRIDGE — After a three-hour closed-door session today to discuss his “discipline or dismissal,” Fire Chief Leonard E. Senecal is still in charge of the Fire Department.

    “I cannot comment on any disciplinary matters or personnel actions but, I can tell you, as of this date, I can say that there has been no formal discipline imposed,” Town Administrator Shaun A. Suhoski said shortly after today's executive session.

    When asked if the matter with the chief was done, Mr. Suhoski declined to comment. He acknowledged that he anticipates another executive session on the matter.

    The five-member board of selectmen and the town administrator met with Chief Senecal for an executive session to discuss “discipline or dismissal of, or to hear charges brought against a public officer or individual.”

    Shortly after 9 a.m., a solemn Chief Senecal retreated with the selectmen and the town administrator for a closed-door meeting on the second floor of Town Hall
    Attorney Stanley L. Weinberg of Shrewsbury and retired Holyoke Fire Chief David A. LaFond, the executive director of the Western Massachusetts Fire Chiefs Association, accompanied Chief Senecal.

    The only thing the chief said in open session, prior to going into executive session, is that he wanted to keep it closed. He had no comment when the session ended.

    The executive session to discuss “discipline or dismissal” of Mr. Senecal stems from a 166-page assessment of the Sturbridge Fire Department by consultant Ernest Horn, who is the police and fire chief and acting town coordinator in Mendon.

    Mr. Horn's assessment found the department “operating in a dangerous state of disrepair” and “significant course changes are urgently needed.”

  19. Mr. Creamers treatment of the Fire Chief was nothing short of pathetic. This man has served this community for 37 years and this is how he is repaid? There are some things that need to be taken care and the chief was doing just that. Did Mr Creamer really feel the need to belittle and humiliate this man as well as his department in public? And what about the BOS Code of Conduct? It seems Mr Creamer isn't as well versed in that as he is in everything else. Also, is there any way to verify his credentials? I mean if he did all that he says he did one would think he would be much older. How long did he hold each position to qualify him as an expert? I'm sick and tired of him thinking he owns this town and can do whatever he sees fit. God help anyone if they disagree with him...he will go after them with a vengence. Also someone needs to tell him to STOP comparing Sturbridge to Worcester. You can't expect a small town with a small number of firefighters to run like a city department that has 450+ firefighters. Can't and won't ever happen. He is a total embaressment to this community...time to step down!!!!

  20. If the BOS had really read Chief Horns report,as he also publicly stated our Chief should have had 90 days to absorb the report, which he as not afforded. As far as Creamer's "training" which I'm sure over blown, There's a big difference between training and education. You can "Train" a dog to fetch, but you can't "Teach" him math. Remember he did this to the Building Inspector too. Which Dept head is next

  21. Heard today that the Chief is suspended? Anyone hear that? While I am sure there are issues with the SFD, I am sickened in the manner the Chief was treated. No one deserves that humiliation. If there are issues with his performance then respond, but do so in a professional manner.

  22. T&G reports chief is on paid admin leave as of Monday 4 pm

  23. I do expect a town of our size to run our fire department the same way a big city does. If the city does a good job. Why should we be held to a different standard? I would think it would be ran even better, you have a small amount of people and a lot less equipment to manage. Would the Chief be taking care of these things if they were not brought to his attention? It was an "eye opener" remember. I have a feeling things would not be getting done if the flaws were not brought to his attention. I am grateful for the 37 years of service Lenny has given this town. However, i want anyone running a department doing a good job. With the budgets that i help pay for i expect nothing less than a well managed department. As for which is next. Start with the police and work your way down, they damn well better all be subject to the same scrutiny. I want every cent of my tax dollars spent appropriately. Granted there are way to many cents going around.

    I did not like the way Mr Creamer spoke a couple of times during the hearing. However, i am glad someone took a stand and has a background in the subject matter. I will not apologize for his behavior, nor will i apologize for the behavior of Chief Senecal. Would we all prefer a bunch of Mary B's? That was a rhetorical question for many because i know some of the readers of this blog would love to see a board full of them. Business as usual will not help this town. Accountability for all us what we need. Yes that means everyone reading the code of conduct for the BOS. It also means that all department heads are accountable for their departments. I would like a lean management team running this town. Things are not like they were 10, 20, 30 years ago. A town is a business and it needs to be run well or it will be run into the ground.

  24. Building inspector GONE
    Conservation Agent GONE
    Fire Chief Almost GONE
    Next on Creamers hit list:
    DPW Director:Pending
    Finance Director:Pending
    Dept Head Not living in Town: matter of time

  25. Iron Fisted Rule?Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    What ever happened to "Citizens' Forum" and the call-in "Ask the Selectmen" at the Selectmen's meetings? It looks like at least the blocking members of the board haven't really wanted to hear what we have to say lately.

  26. To those people crying for treatment of the "Chief"--You know what Lenny got for his 25+ years of service? A big fat paycheck from the taxpayers while not doing his job adequately! If he was that worried about taxpayer money, he would have been screaming for the money for his department's safety so money wouldn't have been spent foolishly on "special interests", as is the case in Sturbridge.
    Furthermore, this PAID leave for not doing your job has got to stop! The TA got a PAID 3-day leave a year ago for a problem with his job performance. In the private sector, one would get a 3-day suspension without pay--that's a punishment!
    For the salaries that these people collect, they need to be shown the unemployment line if they don't do their job!
    As far as the comment about the Sate Fire Marshall, the TA/BOS could have asked for his assessment, but chose a different path. Maybe they preferred an "inexperienced" consultant--until the report came in. They could still ask for inspection by the State Fire Marshall, but something tells me that they wouldn't want this because of the obvious problems with the SFD that have come to light and the history of those problems that were known by the previous TA and BOS.
    To answer Ms. Blanchard's question regarding this story being on Channel 5--I am glad this story got publicity by Channel 5--I think the cover-up would have continued without it!

  27. Whenever, in the past 40 years, and before, for our family and every other Sturbridge family I've spoken to, when we needed our fire department the response time and service was excellent. I will be forever grateful for that. The hate-filled comments by some are so far beyond honest criticism and so lacking in any appreciation at all for his years of service that it makes me wonder what kind of people are in our midst.


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