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, August 28, 2013

One Great Selling Point

It seems that every drug dealer on the east coast knows where Sturbridge is.  That's where you get on the MassPike at the end of I-84, and go on to your next New England destination.  So many come to town, we have set up a welcoming committee that has been greeting a fair number for many years.  The good deal of news, about Sturbridge, on the Internet is about drug trafficking, and arrests made in our town by local, and state police.

Yay, us!

160 pounds of marijuana from traffic stop in
Sturbridge in 2011.
Little else is ever said, with the exception of the news from Old Sturbridge Village, or some new calamity from Town Hall.  Most of the news from Sturbridge is about those that treat I-84 like the old Santa Fe Trail on the way to the Promised Land of a narcotics deal.  These news stories are consistent.

The great news is our law enforcement folks are sharp enough to catch a percentage of these travelers, and hand them over to the courts.  The bad news is we are becoming known more for our ease of navigation to all New England points for drug dealers than we for families on vacation, and businesses looking for a new location.

It would be great to see some other news about Sturbridge other than the weekly narcotics bust.  Then again, it does show we are very good at one thing:  law enforcement, and if we can't have it all, vigilant law enforcement is a great thing to have.

That fact, alone, is one terrific selling point for our town.

Just add it to the list, and eventually it may catch some developers eye.

From the Worcester Telegram  August 27, 2013

NY man stopped on I-84 in Sturbridge is charged with drug trafficking


STURBRIDGE — A 40-year-old New York man, who was arrested on Interstate 84 and charged with trafficking in more than 455 grams of oxycodone, was ordered held on $15,000 bail.

Eduardo Pantoja of Yonkers, N.Y., pleaded not guilty in Dudley District Court to trafficking in heroin/morphine/opium. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 29.

State police Sgt. James A. Bazinotti of the Sturbridge barracks found a bag containing 3,165 oxycodone pills under the passenger seat of the minivan Mr. Pantoja was driving, the police report said.

The 30-milligram pills were in 17 bags, each listing a number that was possibly the quantity in each bag, and some names, state police said.

Mr. Pantoja was driving east on I-84 when the sergeant noticed the van had temporary plates from West Virginia. The plates' lettering was too small to read, the report said.

When the sergeant pulled over the driver and approached the vehicle, he smelled air freshener, police said.

Mr. Pantoja told police he had borrowed his cousin's minivan in Manhattan. He said he was driving to meet a married woman named Elizabeth in Boston. He said he was meeting her on a street, and email was his only means of contact, state police said.

When the sergeant told Mr. Pantoja it would help if his story could be verified, Mr. Pantoja asked for a lawyer, the report said. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

We Have Met The Enemy...

Yesterday, I received the following email from a reader.

Hi Wally
Hope you had a good summer and been reading your site.  Can I make a suggestion for you as everyone talks about this every day but nobody ever does anything on the net or in writing.
Lets have a posting and let everyone put 5 businesses, entertainment, social etc. that they would like to have here in Sturbridge but currently are traveling to other areas to get this.
For instance, if you want Sporting Goods I have to go to Dicks in Millbury or Northboro for my stuff.   You mentioned in your post a night club for adults.   Trader Joes is another one that I go regularly. 
My neighbor is always saying he has to travel 25 miles to Worcester or Harford area for a Jewish Deli.
Seems all people talk about is these trails but never put on paper the real things that could make Sturbridge a great place to work, live and play.
Just a suggestion, as I feel it most of the people would put a lot of good names to your site and make a list.
Time to show the people what we are missing here as our puzzle is very empty in this town.
Have a Great Day.

Steve C.

After I read the email, I wrote him back, and thanked him for his feedback.  I've written posts on this subject in the past, in fact, I've written about this subject a few times.  It is not so much putting Traders Joe's, and Dicks Sporting Goods on a wish list, it has to go way beyond that.  First a wish list, then a plan to entice a business, make it attractive for them to set up shop.  Allow them the dignity to advertise their business at the street, offer tax incentives, help them navigate the process painlessly, and above all, do not take a business wanting to come to town as an interloper, something to be strong armed.

Yes, I've written on this subject before, and although I may have struck a chord with those living outside of Town Hall, the numbers wanting change, and more business in town are small.

I've done what I can do from where I am.  The town has made Sturbridge so unattractive to business that we are no longer even on the short list of any major company.  We will attract small, start ups, but do not hold your breath for a Dicks, or Trader Joe's.

Taxes, rules, regulations, restrictions detour companies around us.  We have the best location in the commonwealth for business, and industry, yet we are nothing more than Central Massachusetts Version of Bugtussle.

I could go on about electing people with vision, and voting out those that we feel do not serve us well, but I've been down that road, and guess what?

Steve,  your ideas are good, much like my own, and like others in town, but after
years of writing in this space I have come to realize that the enemy isn't so much those behind the tables on meeting night at the town hall, but is complacency.  Our own complacency.  We will occasionally rise up from our complacent sleep, blurt out a need for change, then lie back down again.  I've seen it happen time, and time again over a multitude of issues ranging from trees, to sidewalks, to roofs, to doors without knobs, and everything in between.

Complacency will never grow a town, it is the enabler of the statusquo.  Sturbridge will only change, and become what we envision, when we change, and step out of our comfort zone for awhile in order to make it happen.

Frankly, I don't see that happening anytime soon.  There is no rider on horseback wearing a white hat galloping into our town, and the towns folk are too comfortable to raise their pitchforks in revolt.

Today, I hope everyone has an epiphany like Pogo did 42 years ago, only then can change truly begin.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Clam Roll Incentive

There was a time when the thought of relaxation was merely a tease; I have learned to relax, to kick back, and let the stresses, pressures, and hassles of living slip away.  The result is I am happy, and alive.  This did have its price, but it was well worth it.

Wells Beach, Maine
Recently, I took a ride up north alone, Mary was working, and I had a few days off.  What better way to relax than to drive to Maine, and paint a couple of rooms?  That wasn't said with a hint of sarcasm; I am serious.

Painting is task that takes some concentration, but does not overwhelm the synapses.  It gives an immediate sense of accomplishment, and once a rhythm is found, the brain can daydream, plan, and imagine all sorts of things while the hands go about rolling on the color.

Painting by ones self is the best way.  Two people painting in the same space is not a good thing, especially if they are family.  For the full positive effect, both color wise, and mentally,  one must go solo.  Raised voices, thrown paint brushes, and your face being included in the first coat of paint is something to avoid.

I finished the loft the first day, and prepped the second bedroom.  The next day I put on two coats of Sherwin-Williams "Carefree" blue, put the room back together, and declared the project complete.

I had listened to the TV, and radio.  I had planned, imagined, and daydreamed myself silly, and the paint blotches on my face, hands, and t-shirt confirmed it.  More importantly, I had finished a whole day early.


It is a great feeling when the task at hand is done, and done early, but now comes the reward, and in this case the reward was a clam role.

A clam role on the harbor followed by a walk through the surf at low tide does more to calm the senses than any dose of Ativan.

One secret to getting things done, and shedding the load from your shoulders,  is to reward yourself for a job done, and done well.  If no one else is going to reward you, then it is up to you to take charge.  It's a great incentive for the next project, or task.

For me, a clam roll was the perfect incentive.  Later, that evening, I drove to the Scoop Deck off Route 1, and indulged in a scoop of Moose Tracks in a home made waffle cone.

Painting requires great, and sometimes, multiple rewards.

Confront a task with your reward in mind, and it won't be so hard to take on. Once the chore is finished, relax.  You're done.

When you begin to take on life's chores with a little more anticipation of reward, instead of dread of the task, things will actually begin to fall off your list.

Once that happens, Grasshopper, you will find true accomplishment, and relaxation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

And, What About The Cost?

I was sent the following link about highway roundabouts yesterday.

Again, some good information, yet the question remains, why?

Why, in our town would a roundabout serve the traffic better than the current traffic light at Route 20 and Route 148 does now?  How would a roundabout be better at New Boston Road, and Route 20?

Both areas are completely different.  New Boston Road currently has no traffic controls in place, but does have the land surrounding it to put in some form of control such as lights, or a roundabout.  Most importantly it needs a traffic control.

Rout 148 and Route 20 already have traffic lights in place.  Widening of the intersection to accommodate turning traffic, at each road would be very helpful. A roundabout here?  Tell me why it would be better, and the fix less expensive than what I have mentioned.

No sarcasm here, just a true desire to learn, and know why.

Route 20, and Route 148 also have limited land at the site.  The former fire station that houses the dance studio would find it self on the endangered species list, as would any store planning going in near the mill.

When I ask why, I would truly like an honest, well thought out answer backed up by traffic control engineering science that states that in our particular case it would be ideal. Not an answer that remotely says, "It'll improve traffic flow".

A monkey with a red flag at New Boston Road would improve traffic flow.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Educate Ourselves, And Then Ask Informed Questions

Education is something we all need to do in order to figure out just what the hell the other guy is talking about.  Here's a start:

After you learn a bit, then ask questions.  It's part of the learning process.  Start with this question:


Friday, August 2, 2013

A Bit Of Housekeeping.

Please check out the links in the lower right of this page.  All have been updated as of today.  If you have a local link that you would like to see added, send it along to  --ed.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How Was This Ever Overlooked In The Planning Stages?

Tonight I saw a mother, and a young boy, hand in hand, running across Route 20 from Commonweath Street to the north side of Rout 20.  The north side has the sidewalk.  Commonwealth Street comes from Heritage Green Drive. That road is where the Heritage Green apartments are. Heritage Green has a lot of people living there, and they do walk along Route 20.

Now, if you are not familiar with this area, let me fill you in.  There is foot traffic out of that apartment complex, and out onto Route 20.  People walking to McKnucks, the bank,  Dunkin's, and elsewhere cross Route 20 to get to the north side of the road where the sidewalks are.

They actually run across Route 20.  Why?  Because there is not a crosswalk there.  How was this ever overlooked when Heritage Green was presenting its plans before the Planning Board?  We've gone from a major oversight to worrying about the color of reflective tape, and seed dispersal into the river.

Amazing.  In front of the largest apartment complex in the town of Sturbridge, there is not a crosswalk.  In fact, there is not any sidewalks on the south side of Route 20 going to the intersection of Route 148, Holland Road, and Route 20.

Great planning.

This is not the first time I have seen people bolting across the road in this area.  Tonight, with the setting sun in my eyes, it was almost tragic.  Fortunately, I am familiar with the road, and what to expect here, and I was flying.  Someone else may not be cautious.

For those of you in the know, what is required to have a crosswalk placed across a road in town?  Is it a simple matter of filling out an application, or do we wait until the need is seen with an accident?  Will the town say that it is a state road, and they cannot do anything about painting a crosswalk without an engineering study, or will Chief Ford say that there is an immediate safety issue at this location, and order a crosswalk to be painted.

I am hoping for the latter, but I would be surprised if it was just that easy.

I'm in the mood to be surprised.

MassDot Crosswalk Requirements

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