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

Monday, May 27, 2013

How Do You Spell "Qualified"?


past participle, past tense of qual·i·fy (Verb)

  1. Be entitled to a particular benefit or privilege by fulfilling a necessary condition: "we qualify for compensation".
  2. Become eligible for a competition or its final rounds, by reaching a certain standard or defeating a competitor.

What part of that word does the Board of Selectmen, and the Town Administrator not understand?  The "q" word comes up frequently in town goings on, whether being said, and insisted on by the BoS, or in the most recent case, not being fulfilled by the BOS, and the TA.

The president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts, Chief George Rogers, recently stated that the Sturbridge Town Administrator must appoint a replacement Fire Chief that is qualified.  Chief Ford, as qualified as he may be to be police chief, is not qualified to be fire chief.  

That was said since day one, and now the president of the FCAM is not only confirming what we already knew, but stated that the BoS solution of appointing Ford, and the town relying on area chiefs to pick up the slack "is not a solution".  Chief Rogers, also the current chief of the Bridgewater fire department, also spoke of his concerns for safety with the decision of the Town to appoint an unqualified person.  The FCAM is pushing House Bill 2197, which would "mandate credentialing and certification" of all fire chiefs.  The appointment here in town only confirms the need for such a bill.

“Selectman Creamer made comments about command and control, and mutual aid” as a way to keep the residents of town safe. “Turn back your clock to the tornado” of June 1, 2011, Chief .Rogers said. “You cannot rely on your neighbors” during a catastrophic event when everyone's resources are severely challenged."

“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. 

It don't.   

“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

The BoS frequently steps out of bounds, but it is less frequent that a state official, such as the fire marshall, and the president of a statewide association, comments negatively about such footwork.

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.


  1. We Need to Keep Ours Eyes OpenMonday, May 27, 2013

    Suppose they decide to hire a qualified chief, which they do need to do, and then hire someone to work above the fire chief and the police chief - a safety complex manager, or something like that. Presto - a new job. Another town employee.
    I guess, I really don't expect that, but the story is going around.

  2. Main and MapleMonday, May 27, 2013

    A manager for a facility, such as a safety complex manager, would not be a manager for individual departments within that facility. I have not heard anything regarding this.

  3. Why don't we pay the report guy that knows fire & police well as the chair put it SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT to do a study on the BOS. Wonder what that would say?

  4. We Need to Keep Our Eyes OpenMonday, May 27, 2013

    Hopefully, we won't add another layer of management, but, in keeping eyes open, I offer this taken from a job ad for a safety complex manager in Tallahassee, Florida:

    " ESSENTIAL JOB FUNCTIONS: An employee in this position directly supervise the operations support unit of Public Safety Complex Program (PSCP); serves as Acting Director when necessary, oversees support staff activities and assists in personnel issues; manages the operational services of Public Safety Complex Program; performs research, reviews, and meetings in the development of multiple special projects; develops, implements, and monitors policies and procedures for the PSCP; insures all State laws, codes and County policies are adhered to; oversees the financial operations of the PSCP; provides oversight of security, access management, building space and parking assignments or scheduling and coordinating deliveries and special events; monitors the annual budget for aberrations and implement necessary corrective actions; coordinates and provides guidance of the preparation of the capital budget; provides preparation and submittal of the PSC facility budget for approval by the Management Committee; develops and recommends the implementation of changes in financial policies and procedures relating to expenditures relevant to PSCP; approves and processes pay requests; updates and edits service contracts upon expiration allowing for improvement of efficiency and service level; conducts field visits and inspections to validate contractual conditions are properly executed; serves as liaison, Emergency Activation Coordinator and public interaction for PSCP; addresses complaints and concerns of technicians, supervisors, County employees or the public; provides work orders and records management systems.

    REQUIREMENTS: Requires graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with a Bachelor's degree in Business or Public Administration or a related field and five (5) years of related experience; two of which must have been in a supervisory capacity; or an equivalent combination of training or experience. Possession of a Masters of Administration and Science is preferred. Must possess a valid Driver’s license and a favorable driving record at time of hire."

  5. "... politics can't get in the middle of it.”

    Politics and egos, power, and the ability or need to "kick butt," often seems to be the way to get things in Sturbridge. I guess kicking butt is some "grown-ups'" way of making somebody say, "Uncle!"

    We can't just sit back and whimper any longer. It's time to use OUR grown-up words - loud enough to be heard.

  6. I could not agree more with "not uncle said" But if you speak up at a selectmans meeting, the chair will send you packing. POWER. I guess its time to clean up the BOS and see if we can get some stability there too. I have never seen a board that can spend 2 hours correcting 2 month old minutes of their meetings and they can't even agree on the changes. Yes we are getting to be the laughing stock of worcester county.

  7. Where’s the Finance Committee Report/Town Warrant?

    It’s online at:

    Or go to:
    and then, under “Town Meeting Clearinghouse,” click on “FY14 Finance Committee Report for Town Meeting.

    Where are the books? Other than the first 15 copies, which were gone in one day last week, who knows? According to Kevin Smith, head of the finance committee, the books are expected to be at the town hall at the close of day on May 29th – making them most likely not available until Friday May 30th.
    When is the town meeting? Monday June 3rd.

  8. Correction. May 30th is on Thursday.

  9. You're on the trail Marylin. Smell the pungent "odour" of rat yet?

    Only 15 books? If they got 15 printed there are definately more. Impossible the printer ran only 15 books and said "come back in a week...I'll have the other 2000 copies." Yeah right. They're not out because Smith doesn't want people to have time to read them and be able to go to town meeting and make a decision against FC. He knows the score-and that older folks won't go to the web to get the FinKCom report. Baloney they're not out. If there's 15, stapled and printed with the usual cover, there are definately more. Very simple. Very FinCom.

    I don't know why people in this town sit there and TAKE this crap. You "Anonymous" gasbags and "faux" revolutionairies who constantly post on this who are so tough talking while hiding behind "Anonymous" who constantly grouse about Creamer and BOS. All of you: Pull your heads out and look at the real threat to this town. It's FinCom...not BOS.

    You can vote BOS members out or recall them with 2000 signatures. Don't like Creamer? Grow a pair and get busy knocking on doors for 2000 signatures. Don't like FinCom? Sorry pal. Grab yourself and whistle for all the good it will do. Read the Almighty Charter. There is no provision to recall a FinCom member and they are appointed (or dare I say "Made") by one guy (Moderator). If this isn't a racket and totally un-democratic, I don't know what is.

    FinCom can and IS playing everyone for chumps with this one and there's not one thing anyone..including you "Anon(s)" or any of you other armchair heroes can do about it. How's that grab ya? You want a freakin' revolution? Or you wanna sit there at your keyboard and gas fecklessly? Either be part of the solution or zip it and stop being part of the problem. Start turning up the heat on Smith for screwing people out of this info the weekend before town meeting.

  10. Take a look at Creamer's blog "Political Watch". He doesn't miss any opportunity to insult whole groups of people. As has been noted in the comments above people don't speak up because they know if they challenge him they will be shot down. It is no wonder there are so many "anonymous" comments on these blogs.

    There are two things gone amuck in Sturbridge - Tom Creamer and needless spending.

    More people need to speak up, study the Finance Committee Report, and vote at the Town Meeting.

  11. A Safty Complex Manager? We already have one thats the Town Administators job to oversee everyone. One problem the BoS has reduced him to an Excutive Sectrary, a Creamer Puppet, knowing if he doesn't jump when Creamer say jump or sit when Creamer says sit he can be out of a job on any given Tuesday morning. The Creamer
    Team ( the 3 in all the 3 to 2 votes) ALL must go they have taken this town down and put moral at its lowest. They will cost us a fortune in the short and long run.

  12. I don't get how the "Team" as you say will bring us down and will cost us a fortune in the short and long term. Can you elaborate on that statement please?

    I do not think we need a Safety Complex Manager, as each department head should be the managers with the over site of the TA. If they are all competent we should not need another layer of management. I will not support any more layers of bureaucracy in the town but will demand that the people who are already on the payroll meet the expectations set by the BOS, town charter and the residents of the town.


  13. There was people I know who wanted to be on the Charter Review Committee who wanted to change these power grabs and put the power in the residents of the Town. Look who they put on that last review committee "Yes People". And what did they propose and who they put on that review Committee.

    For example they are explaing "MGL" means Massachusetts General Laws. Was this a review committee or a committee trying to teach 5 year olds how government works and what abbreviations and words mean. Unbelievable.

    There was a lot of people who put their name in the hat wanted to change, but it was done in closed doors by the BOS, as they knew what some of the ideas would have been for example Fin Com to be elected by the voters and larger board and even the BOS from 5 to 7 members so more input, diligence and ideas would be done. Another suggestion is to do like the other Towns and Cities do have all the Selectman run every 3 years as a group to initiate more competition. Running all 5 together would even give incentive to new candidates as they would see they could have a chance.

    Also a Strong Town Administrator with defined duties to bring in investment, grants and structure to this town.

    The changes needed to improve were zero.

  14. How does the Creamer Team cost us money? Well lets start with the most recent, giving the TA a town vehicle to take home gas wear and tear 10k per year and not even a hint of contract negotiation. Because of Creamer we have lost a Conservation Agent, Building Inspector and most recent a Fire Chief. Moral amongst all town employees is at a all time low, no one gives one oz more than their job description says. Every time you replace an employee the next person costs you more between benny’s and training, advertising. Now I’m not one to be able and sit and watch every meeting but I know enough about dealing with people to know his people skills are between poor and awful. Just the notion of having all Dept. heads move to town is ridicules, we have very good seasoned employees that live elsewhere (and not all are head of household) so all this does is to get these employees looking for employment elsewhere.

    The Stipends? Towns people voted them down what makes them (Him) think they can bring them back? When you start to scrutinize their spending habits and it’s a thousand here ten grand there buy this house, lets take this property off the tax rolls, careless renovations oh and lets not forget brick sidewalks. So stop and think for a second after you look at your tax bill what has he done to decrease it? I could go on but, the bottom line is the town Bully has to go!

  15. I would venture a guess to say that the current BOS has saved us more money in the past few years or at least has tried to than if we had a different BOS. The conservation agent left because of money correct? As in we weren't handing it over fast enough, yeah that is spending money. The building inspector... I don't recall exactly what happened but i seem to recall that the inspector was not exactly doing his job properly correct? I remember a BOS meeting towards the end of his tenure and i recall not having an issue with him leaving as it seems he did not live up to the expectations of someone on the towns payroll. As for the fire chief... Are you Mr/Mrs Anonymous implying that the retirement of Chief Senecal was a bad thing? The report seemed to show very clearly that new leadership was in order.

    When i look a the tax bill my displeasure does not go towards the BOS alone. It goes towards the FINCOM, the schools, department heads, planning board and the voters who approve the budgets that are put forth with very little resistance. I applaud the BOS in trying to cut 200k or so off the FINCOM's recommended budget but i think they both need to have their heads checked as 200k is nothing.

    One last thing. Man/woman up and put your name on your posts everyone, it drives me nuts. I know it is nice to vent with anonymity but actually putting your name behind it gives it a little more validity. I don't want to be known as some sorta trouble maker in this town but bitching without a name is sort of childish in my opinion.

  16. These pompous idiots in these stories only seek to perpetuate a state fire dept culture populated by people not qualified for the position and hoping to protect their jobs. Half the so-called "chiefs" in this state are old boys hanging on by the fingernails and have no more administrative training that a High school diploma. These T&G stories cloud the issue that SFD was allowed to become a snakepit under Senecal because there is no management structure and one person can't be "it" alone.

    We need to get rid of the autocratic "Fire Chief" mindset and realize there is a structure to most organizations. Otherwise the mice play while the cat sleeps, as Lennie did. How else to explain the trucks failing, Mary V's overtime padding and guys raping the town for OT under the wrong rate.

    This stuff cost tens of thousands over the years, but that's chicken feed compared to the lawsuit that would have been successful if anyone on SFD or a member of the public got killed in an incident at a fire scene or on the way to a call.

    Ford can and should stay in place a bit while a deputy can be hired to run actual fire scenes.
    Indeed, Creamer took action this week with a board vote directing Suhoski to find a deputy chief-who is charge of fire ops in the field in "real" fire departments-immediately. Whether "Shaun the doddler" will get his fat butt in gear on this asap on this remains to be seen, but that's the plan.

    Lastly, I'm with Ron. Man up and put your freaking name on these posts or shut the heck up wussies. You got an opinion? Think you can do a better job than TC, MR, and PG straightening out the mess this town is and the laughing stock it's become across the region? Then step up fuzzballs.

    I love people who say "There are two things gone amuck in Sturbridge - Tom Creamer and needless spending." Take off the tinfoil hat pal, and smell the coffee. This town is a mess because of a un-elected rubber stamp FinCom, a School Committee who wants a million administrators and new busses almost every year, self-interested town employees who don't live here or pay the freight, cop unions who get paid way too well for "country club" police duty and to wear those wicked expensive brown/grey togs with all the piping and stripes (wtf is that all about?)...Geez I could go on but why bother. Just adjust your tinfoil hat and tune into another station why don't 'ya. For all the good your griping does.

    Thanks Wally, for keeping this blog up. Town needs it. Don't "change course".

  17. Mark Edmonds, your comments are disgusting.

  18. Where is the Cut in Spending?

    Sturbridge Tax Rate Year 2009 - $12.66

    Sturbridge Tax Rate Year 2013 - $17.95

  19. Actually according to Bill Mitchell, it's worse this year. 18.88 if single, 18.23 resi/21.71 commercial and best of all, valuations are going UP.....that's right kiddies, UP, because 30 or so buyers paid over market for homes here for the first quarter of the year and those sales are skewing the average residential valuation UP.

    I'm disgusting? No, I'm annoying because I'm showing you how screwed up things are here. Tax bill for a modest 3 bedroom house will be close to six grand this year. Now, THATS DISGUSTING.

  20. A house divided…
    Divide and conquer…

    Someone is not understanding something here and it’s time to say so. The easiest way for any “power” to reach its goals is to divide those who might join together to question those goals – to get them to fight among themselves – to get them confused.

    What I see happening here is one town department being pitted against another. I see our “newer citizens” being told that the homeys and the townies are bad, ignorant, and uneducated. I see folks with money being told that those who have less are all lazy and never tried to “better” themselves. I see experience being thrown aside as unimportant. I see age being called, stale, slow, past prime, and no longer deserving of attention. I see certain neighborhoods, and parts of town “insulting” the sensitive eyes of the “sophisticated…”

    Is this the kind of town we want? Are some of us to just stand back and let someone else, the biggest bully, just take over? Or are we going to learn to appreciate the diversity that is “US” together?

  21. Has Bill Mitchell looked at the closing prices of the houses lately in the paper or going by the typical Real Estate Salesman Pitches who tell the people selling this is the time and high ball the asking price and then the bank gives the real appraisal and its like $50,000 less than what the broker tells them. Reality comes very fast when the Bank Appraiser comes in and they have to set up the financing..

    I know this for a fact my neighbors telling me and see the for sale signs in my neighborhood. Everyone is running out saying this high taxes and high water is killing them. And the ones who closed are crying at the big loss and its more like $100,000.00 range and more on the houses in the $300,000 plus range. Thats a total haircut..

    Fannie Mae foreclosure sales, short sales and all. And he is saying these are over market. My neighbor closed his turn key 6 year home at a fire sale price.

    I been watching these and even Creamer last year admitted there was a bunch of foreclosures on the books and you keep reading in the paper. And for Creamer to swallow and say it honestly that took a lot, he knows in the future this town with all this borrowing and all is going to come up short on the revenue.

    Even the commercial is no where in price and none of them are in a rush to develop anything large. We have not brought in anything for revenue which we need about 200 million project in this town to help the debt and maybe stabilize our taxes and revenue.

    The residents houses will never achieve that. Its just a fact..

  22. Real Estate Figures For May 2013Monday, June 03, 2013

    Here is the Market Report As of May 2013

    Average Listing Price - $238,823 - 0.8% w-o-w.

    Median Sales Price - $171,950 - 25.6% y-o-y.

    Average Price/sqft - $125 - 8.8% y-o-y.

    I think Bill is living in fantasyland not Sturbridge...

    Number of Sales 22-24.1% y-o-y

    Number of Houses for Sale 120

    27 Foreclosures

  23. Don't forget that the town meeting is tonight - June 3, 7PM, Tantasqua.

    Article 4, a Gateway zoning article, is a foot in the door to much bigger plans. We will be told that it's "just" a zoning article, and that no money is required - yup - as they are spending money as we speak on the consultant(s) doing more planning for much more stuff, and more regulations to come. Nip it in the bud!

    Every year they will be coming back with other costly pieces of this puzzle which we just cannot afford and don't want anyway.

    They also want us to believe that Mr. Patel "needs" this Gateway zoning article to pass, so he can build his project. NOT TRUE. Commercial zoning can do just fine for him, and allow him to build. This article is not about Mr. Patel. Is is all about finding more ways to spend our money.

    Vote no on articles 4 and 5.

  24. Contact The StateMonday, June 03, 2013

    The real way to kill this project is everyone start writing the State. A Rotary at New Boston Road and Route 20 is going to be congestion, accidents, and safety. Lets everyone write to the Senatory Brewer and tell him to intercede on our behalf. Going to work and using the Pike at Morning Traffic in Sturbridge is going to take us another 30 to 60 minutes.

    Coming back off the Pike your doing 45 miles per hour now your going to hit a Rotary and slow to 20 miles per hour and there will be accidents galore. Think of it people will be hitting their brakes.

    Never mind when we get snow and ice in the winter.

    Then you have the School Buses using it to bring the kids to and from School. Imagine someone calling for a Ambulence to go to the hospital he will be stuck in the Rotary trying to get to that part of Town.

    Then you have Trucks, Buses going to OSV with passengers stuck in the rotary or backed up. Everyone complains traffic is backed up Market Weeks, this will be every day of the week in fact worse when some small event comes here.

    Word will be out don't even try coming to Sturbridge its a horror show to travel the Main Street, right now we have problems with this so called Jughandles, now we going to build a road to hell.

    For safety sake lets all write the State Highway Department, Senatory Brewer and Representative Smola and stop this nonsense.

    Everyone in Town can see this is going to lead to trouble, time to tell the State as Route 20 is a State Road.

    Let the State come in and evaluate it, you know they will never approve it. Everyone write about it, so this will get killed let them win this battle tonight, but let's win the war in the end.

    Here is Senator Brewer's email address so you won't even have to pay for a stamp. Pass the word to everyone.

  25. "Contact the State" makes a good point. I only disagree with one thing. NO! Don't let them win the battle tonight. They need a 2/3 vote. Vote NO on articles 4 and 5. Article 4 gets their toes in the door. Don't let these fast talking "salesmen" in.

  26. Sorry to say but they both passed. It was a bit confusing at first as it was tough to tell whether we were talking about 4 or 5. Thankfully 3 was defeated but i think that will be about all the savings we see this year folks. Well 10k was shaved off the BOS budget since we do not want to study the Police Department. Remember how bad it was when we found out the dirty little secrets of the FD? So we take the good ole ostrich approach and take away funding to study the PD. I do no think the findings would be anything like the FD study but i think all departments should be studied. Unfortunately, not many people shared my opinion... I swear a lot of people were bitter about the FD study and what happened to Chief Senecal. I could hear it in the crowd.

  27. I guess the vision of this Administration is going to be like Southbridge. High Taxes, house values low and rentals. Its going to force the good people out of Sturbridge and their only alternative to get their investment back will be to rent out the house and take a Section 8 Certificate which will cover the mortgages.

    That will be the only way to really be able to cover the expenses. So you will see the New Sturbridge become a One Family Rental Town.

    But they are forcing the people to make this decision.

  28. This years ATM was a disgrace. The turnout was pathetic. 225 people for the first go around, 75 or so last night. What will next weeks bring? 35-40 people. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. One thing i am sure of is that next week more money will be spent. I threw out my fincom book as i just stocked on on TP, so i cant double check what all is left. I am just shocked that their was not more support for the BOS's budget. What i am dying to know is what the tax rate will be in another 10 years or so. Sure some big ticket items will have fallen off by then but ya know that Jr high school will be on this list along with god knows what else.


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