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, May 29, 2013
That was not my intent.
What I wanted to do, some of the time, was to stimulate conversation that would lead to ideas, and those ideas lead to change for the better. The rest of the time I wanted to ramble on about the area, the history, and let loose all those elfin thoughts that play inside of my head all day long. Most of those synaptic leaks may be worthwhile reading.
Hence, "Thinking Out Loud".
I am going to get back to more of the latter. The political side is fine, and the thoughts spilled here have got folks talking, and acting. Best part is they have brought many issues to light that would have been barely spoken of elsewhere, and have started folks talking, and acting, but there is more I want to say, and for the most part, those thoughts can be taken, digested, and used anywhere.
I liken these pages to the drone of conversation at a party; you only tune in what interests you, and then move closer to those words. The rest is only white noise.
There are still issues that I have addressed that have yet to be taken care of, such as the warning signs on Brookfield Road warning of zero tolerance for speeders promised by the Police chief five years ago. Still have the speeders speeding, and in the past year alone three, or four accidents within 75 feet of my front door.
The dump we purchased along the Quinebaug River was a topic addressed here several times, with pictures, still it was purchased, and the toxicity of the land was denied by Town Hall for years at the same time no work was allowed on the property until the thoughts of building on toxic waste blew over.
It didn't blow over, and we are in over our heads as just what to do with the land.
No worries. It is what it is. People can only fix, and change the things they have power to change, or are allowed to change. That is something else we have learned here on these pages.
We can complain about the behavior of people on boards, or the entire boards, or committees themselves, but unless we complain loud enough, strong enough, formulate a plan to resolve the issues, and move on, then all we are doing is making white noise, and that is easy to ignore.
If the FinCom is consistently upsetting people with their recommendations, then fix the charter to enable that those appointed can be removed, and to change the way members to FinCom are appointed and by whom. Is the Town Meeting moderator the best person to appoint members, and why is that?
Words need to inspire thought, or action. The thoughts can be entertaining, relaxing, provocative, educational, or whatever, an action is taking that inspiration, and running with it. More inspired action would be a good thing.
So, expect more rambling from my keyboard.
Summer is a lazy time. A book at the beach, games at the field, a drink in the yard, and nonsense from me.
Monday, May 27, 2013
How Do You Spell "Qualified"?
past participle, past tense of qual·i·fy (Verb)
“You have to stand on your own. You have to have people in place to keep your community safe,” he said. Mr. Creamer's suggestion that area fire chiefs are adequate “is not a solution.”
-- Source Worcester Telegram May 25, 2013
Rogers had warned the TA, and the BoS that appointing an unqualified individual would be a bad idea. Seems that our BoS continues to feel that they know best, more than the experts do.
I have fished a few times in my life, but that experience does not make me an expert. Same holds true for those that think that a history of fighting fires, and protecting a community makes them the be all, end all, when it comes to issues concerning our fire department.
“I am very aware of the situation in the town of Sturbridge. As leaders of the fire service, it is our responsibility to be sure our citizens our protected,” Chief Rogers said. “We are working with the Sturbridge town administrator — politics can't get in the middle of it.”
Fire Marshal Coan said using a police chief as a fire chief is asking for trouble.
“When I look to the head of the fire department, I expect to find a qualified professional in fire and emergency services management,” he said. “The public safety director model serves neither law enforcement nor the fire service well, as each position requires specific education, training and experience to provide citizens with the maximum level of public safety.”
--- Source Worcester Telegram May 25, 2013
A new, qualified chief will eventually be appointed. All the above fiasco goes to prove is that once more our BoS continues to act without the proper input, or thought to an issue, and ignores warnings of those more qualified. Asking for help, advice, direction is something that most can do when confronted with waters not sailed before, but then there are those that close their eyes, and leap head long into the surf, hoping for the best.
Someday, it will come back and haunt all of us, unless we put an end to the behavior now.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Starry, Starry Night...
Special National “Get Outdoors” Trail Event!
Friends of Sturbridge Sturbridge Trails
Sturbridge; the newly formed Friends of Sturbridge Trails (FrOST) will be holding its first free trail walk on Saturday, June 8th, 2013. A “New Moon” night hike, in celebration of National Get Outdoors day will be held from 9 PM to 10:30 PM at the Heins Farm Conservation Land.
The hike will be lead by local trail advocate and Sturbridge Tree Warden Tom Chamberland, assisted by Gary Staab, of the Sturbridge Trail Committee. Both residents bring a depth of knowledge in night hikes and astronomy, which will be the feature of this hike.
FrOST was formed in February of this year and this unique night hike is one of several initiatives of this group to support and promote enjoyment of Sturbridge Trails.
National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) 2013 will be celebrated on Saturday, June 8. This will be the sixth year of a partnership effort by hundreds of government agencies, recreation and healthcare businesses and nonprofit organizations to introduce America’s youth to the healthy fun of America’s Great Outdoors. Events will be held at 200+ sites in urban centers, state and local parks and other places. The Friends of Sturbridge Trails is pleased to be partnered in this nationwide event. Visit the National G.O. website: http://www.nationalgetoutdoorsday.org/
The hike will form at the Heins Farm trail head parking lot, 197 Leadmine Rd at 8:45 PM, hiking into the conservation land at 9 PM. Please bring Bug spray, and a water bottle, and wear appropriate clothing. Kids are welcome, please be aware of the time and hike distance of about 1 mile. No pets please. Flashlights are optional, and their use will be discouraged for most of the hike. Please bring your senses, as they will help guide you along the trail and thru the night. Star gazing and identification will be conducted out in the open fields, as well as a discussion of the national “Dark Sky” initiatives. If overcast sky or rain the event will be cancelled.
For more information on this night hike or to join the Friends of Sturbridge trail email President David Barnicle at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit FrOST on Face book. Membership applications will be available at the hike.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
A Good Day For Comments
"I know no one wants to listen but The Future of tourism in this 'burg, Peeps, is a youth-based arts district with relaxed zoning rules that allow little or no investment on the part of start ups. Not more of the same old stodgy "Colonial Theme-Park" BS for rapidly aging white boomers. and not more zoning rules.
Look at the Warrant for town meeting: Page after page of new "rules" from a Planning Board in real dire need of some Ex-Lax. It's just insane. All these rules will discourage start-ups. You're dead before you're even born if they all pass. I'm in business, and the last thing I want to do is invest ANY capitol in this sinking ship of a town will all it's goofy rules and dysfunctional committees run by well-intentioned but narrow-minded self-serving folk with no world view or sense of collaboration.
We are not an island. We are a ship--one that's sinking under 49 million in debt, voter apathy and disconnect, loss of commercial tax base, decreasing property values, aging demo(s), and town employee rosters largely made up of mercenaries who live in cheaper towns and are only looking out for themselves. This is why
this town is becoming a toilet.
And all the while, we sit on commitees and discuss paving trails, how to spend the manna from heaven that comes from the hotel/meals tax on frippery, and making up new rules designed to exclude, not include.
Regulation kills innovation and creative spirit.Look at Northampton and Shelbourne Falls, Bennington VT and the one-time joke of the Berkshires, North Adams. All small outta the way places that now have vibrant arts scenes and restaurants and businesses that benefit from spin off of that art scene. Why? Few rules? Look at North Adams today, now that Moca has taken hold, and all the little krill businesses that are working in it's sphere. Tens of thousands will go to N. Adams weeks from now for rock band Wilco's Festival. No dough to be spent there with that crowd, huh?
All these arts-based sucess stories started off in the 80s as dumpy little towns the world was passing by. Very little regs, so starving artists took hold like weeds. Now look. I was in Noho in the mid-80s and saw it happen.
Youth and cultural diversity is the answer here peeps. Not more rules and more of the same old. Not more stuff aimed at aging white folks whose idea of hip is a mediocre meal at Cracker Barrel and more flags and flower barrels in the center of town. Yawwwn. Last one out of Sturbridge, please don't forget to turn off the lights."
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Town Warrant Links
Here are the links to the Town Warrant info for the town meeting, and to the Route 20 improvement study, the huge project that begins with the gateway zoning. Thanks for your web site. ~ Marilyn
Friday, May 17, 2013
Errr...Excuse Me, Can Someone Explain Why Our School Ranking Sucks?
Tantasqua Sr High (acedemic) #96 of 344 - .......nice
Southbridge High #306 of 344
Tantasqua Vocational #314 of 344 REALLY!
Tantasqua Vocational student/ teacher ratio 26.6
The most interesting ranking is for the Vocational School at 314. It ranks smack dab in the middle of schools from Lynn, Roxbury, Worcester, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, Fall River, Lawrence, East Boston, Chelsea, Charlestown, Everett, Boston Lowell, and Revere. All inner city schools, and then there's Tantasqua Vocational School.
As Big Bird used to sing, "One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn't belong."
I am totally in the dark on this one, so if you can, please enlighten us.
Tantasqua Senior High
Proficient or higher English Language Arts: 95%
Proficient or higher Math: 85%
Proficient or higher Science: 74%
Reading SAT: 518
Writing SAT: 495
Math SAT: 543
Student / Teacher Ratio: 10:2
4 Year Graduation Rate: 86.9%
Spending Per Student 2011-2012: $12,611
Tantasqua Regional Vocational
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
A Company Car, Stipends; What's Next?
Really? Now, as our tax rate is through the roof the selectmen have voted to give themselves, and the members of the Board of Assessors, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Board of Health, and the Recreation Commission a stipend?
Meetings are the name of the game. Suck it up, or step down, and pass the baton to another more willing to give of their time.
Do you feel that the town should pay them for doing the job they were elected to do without a stipend? Especially now?
From the Worcester Telegram
April 30, 2013
STURBRIDGE - The Board of Selectmen voted in favor of giving stipends for themselves, as well as to the town moderator and all the members of the Board of Assessors, Conservation Commission, Planning Board, Board of Health, and Recreation Commission.
In a 3-1-1 vote, selectmen approved an $850 stipend for each of its members, as well as a $200 stipend for the town moderator and each member of the other five boards.
In all, the selectmen voted to dish out $9,050. The voters will have the final say at the annual town meeting June 3.
At a special town meeting held June 8, 2009, the voters eliminated stipends for all boards, committees and commissions, beginning in fiscal 2010.
Chairman of Selectmen Thomas R. Creamer, who had never taken a stipend before, said the vast number of meetings that he and fellow selectmen attend justifies stipends. Selectmen Priscilla Gimas and Mary Redetzke also voted for the stipends.
“Already this year, the Board of Selectmen has had 20 meetings,” Mr. Creamer said. “At this point right here, I’ve already been to 36 meetings, and we are only a quarter of the way through the year.”
Mr. Creamer said he attended 76 meetings last year and 78 meetings in 2011, with 51 and 53 of those meetings, respectively, being Board of Selectmen’s meetings.
Selectmen Mary Blanchard voted against the stipends, and Selectman Mary Dowling abstained.
“I’m not in favor of the stipends at this time,” Mrs. Blanchard said. “We seem to be reluctant to pay our town employers who work every day, have meetings and also work extra hours. Yet we’re willing to give us a stipend. I think it really should come from a complete study.”
“I’m very much in favor of stipends,” Ms. Dowling said. “But I, too, would like to study it further.”
— Craig S. Semon
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The background image is not one of my own, although it well could be. I chose it not only for what it offered graphically, but what it offered symbolically. Sunrises can mean so many different things to people, but most often it represents renewal.
It can also symbolize a new begining. Renewal is beginging the same thing again. A rising sun renews itself each day, but it is only by choosing what we do with that new day can there be a new beginning.
A new start. Brand new. Never done before. No "re" anything.
Time for a New Beginning. Time to turn out those that have the "it's all about me" attitude, instead of the it's all about them commitment.
It's time to begin to work on the process of removing those that do not perform the way we want them do. They garnered our votes, and their performance, attitude, and behavior has shown our votes were ill spent.
Those sitting behind the tables at the Town Hall do not rule us, they represent us. We put them there to do just that, and when their behavior is such that it makes us uncomfortable, when their performance is making us poorer, and when their attitude is hurtful to others that have given so much to all of us, then no more renewals; we need to start over.
I am merely a catalyst, and my words in this post today will spawn more words in the comment section, but unless each comment offered is also accompanied by a suggestion for change, for this post, I will not post it. Unless, your comment can offer something substantial in the way of fixing the problems we have seen, and read about here in Sturbridge, I will not bother to post it. It would only be more of the same. Nothing new, and you will have become part of the problem.
So, before you offer yours words of support, or non-support, think, and include what you believe can help us all.
One more thing; include your full name. This is so important, and the time is so critical, that we do not want to play games with nicknames, and anonymous postings. If you have a well thought out plan, or suggestion, or want to take an action to make this town better such as offering up your living room for a meeting with like minded folks, then own your words. Own your actions.
Discontent is obvious, dissatisfaction, as well, but no more whining. Keep in mind, there are those that know you will only keep belly aching, and accepting your fate. Prove them wrong.
The sun is going to rise again, what are you going to do with it?
Monday, May 13, 2013
Crossed The Line
Today, I will.
In August of 2000 I came to live in Sturbridge. The first neighbor I met was Vernon Jackson. "Butch", as he has always gone by, welcomed me to town in his own quiet style. Butch is a quiet man, a loyal, and caring man. He loves this town with all his heart, in fact, he was born right in a house on the Town Common. Since that time, he served his country, married the love of his life, had three children, and a whole bunch of grandchildren. He has also been in each, and every home around the common, and elsewhere in town, helping with repairs, lending a tool, and his expertise. Without out so much as a wince, he lent me tools, and his know how to help in my rehab of the house I once lived in. He never expected anything in return, but instead he would invite me, and others to his house on the lake for a cookout. He never asked for anything in return. He only gave.
He has been there to lend a hand, and to help, no matter what life has thrown your way, all his life. That's just the kind of man he is. Never negative.
One thing that I enjoyed hearing from Butch was the love of the towns fire department. He was a Captain, had been on the department for decades, and played Santa at Christmas time on the common. His love for people showed in his commitment to keep them safe as a firefighter.
I had grown up in a town where a large group of us "townies" had begun to serve as volunteers on the fire, and police department at an early age. I recognized the commitment, and love for the job Butch did at the fire department immediately. That loyalty to the department, and his commitment to make others safe at risk to his own safety has only heightened my respect for Butch.
If you have ever had contact with the man, then you know I speak the truth, and if anything, I have not spoken highly enough of him.
Now, the Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, has had Butch terminated from his civilian position of Assistant to the Fire Chief he has held since January because, according to Butch, how he spoke up, and questioned the methodology, and conclusions of the report written by the consultant hired by the town. He has also been accused of harassment by Tom Creamer.
"Harassment". Really? Butch Jackson? I don't think so. Explain this to me.
In addition to the debacle we have seen regarding our Fire Chief, and the recent announcement that he is retiring ASAP, we have the Chairman firing Butch in closed door session of the BOS.
Enough. Now, I'm pissed.
Article published May 11, 2013
Veteran Sturbridge officer slams fire report
Chief ousted after document released
By Jim Russell CORRESPONDENT
Thursday, May 9, 2013
by Marilyn Desy
Having attended a kick-off for Route 20 improvements in Sturbridge/Fiskdale I must ask the registered voters in this town to please attend the upcoming town meeting.