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New Friday Market Totes Are Here

Sturdy and stylish, reusable Friday Market shopping tote bags that can be used on any shopping trip are now available at The Country Store, at Quabbin Woods and at the Memorial Library. Or request a bag by e-mail to fridaymarket@petershamcommon.com.

These commodious totes are available for a donation of $10 or more to help raise funds for the 20-week Friday Market music program on the common. The market opens again on June 8 and each Friday through October.small tote

The Writings of Mary Kelley

Sunday, June 3 at 2:00 p.m. - The Village Lyceum presents a slide show-talk on Barre Gazette columnist, "Mary Kelley: Her Life, Writings, and Yankee Heritage" as narrated by Genevieve Fraser in the dining hall of the First Congregational Parish Unitarian in Petersham. Free of charge, all welcome. Refreshments will be served. For further information, contact Genevieve Fraser at (978) 544-1872.

Games and Fun on the Common

The Open Space and Recreation Committee is hosting a free "Games on the Common" onquabbin woods Sunday, June 3 (rain date Sunday, June 10) from 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. We'll have everything set up on the South Common for townspeople young and old to play bocce (on the grass), badminton, corn hole, and ping pong (likely two of every game).  More information,  contact Anne Cavanough by e-mail annefcavanough@gmail.comor or phone 978-724-3311..

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Calendar of Town Committee Meetings

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Free Property Valuation Booklet

The Valuation and Taxes of the Town of Petersham for the Year 2016 booklet is available at the Petersham Town Offices at the Board of Assessors Office, the Selectboard Office and the Petersham Memorial Library during regular business hours. Interested Petersham taxpayers are invited to pick up a free copy.

2017 Selectboard Office Hours

Monday 8  a.m. – 7  p.m.
Tuesday 8  a.m. – 4  p.m. Wednesday, Thursday
8  a.m. – 4  p.m.
Friday 8  a.m. – 12 noon

Selectboard Meeting  Dates

MAY 2018
Tuesday, May 8 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 15 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 22 6:00 p.m.

JUNE 2018
Monday, June 4 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, June 19 6:30 p.m.

Sen. Anne Gobi

Rep. Susannah Whipps

 our hisory

Official Town Website -

Committee meeting notices are posted at  www.mytowngovernment.org

Colorful Fish

If only the river were this blue...
Photos from Petersham, Surrey, England

Harvard Forest - Fisher Museum

"Great Plates, Eat Out." original tire co



Ten Percent Tax Rate Hike Possible

With only seven residents attending an open information session May 22, the Selectboard and Advisory Finance Committee (AFC) predicted that June town meeting voters will be asked to approve spending that could raise the tax rate from $16.37 to $18.27 per thousand of assessed valuation.

A large residential property on Main Street that is assessed for $475,000  would see a tax bill rise from $7,775 to $8,678 in the  tax year starting July 1. Taxes on a smaller home, assessed for $225,00 would see a tax hike from $3,683 to $4,110

As the meeting began, Selectboard chair Nancy Allen said, "Perhaps people are not  coming because they don't have questions (about the budget) or they are not worried." Petersham has more than 900 voters.

AFC Chair Ross France said the amount to be raised by taxation is up $306,000 more than a year ago. "We asked the town departments to provide level budgets...," he said, and most of them complied. The Center School is asking for $57,000 over last year, a 3.9 percent increase. "School choice revenue has declined by $24,000 and outgoing school choice is going up by $31,000." France said Chapter 70 school aid to the town has increased by only one half of one percent over the last five years. It's not keeping up with our costs."

France said the Mahar Regional School budget could come in 3.5 percent above the current  year. "Mahar's school choice income is expected to go down by $392,000..." while costs are fixed or rising. Town health insurance premiums are going up nine percent. Adding two patrol shifts at the police department will increase spending by $19,000 or about 11 cents of the tax rate. County retirement system are going up as is the town's contribution to retiree health insurance premiums.  The town has to set aside money for loans to remove asbestos from the Nichewaug property and to finance a share of building a local broadband system. Town officials hope the state will reimburse that cost, he said.

The two boards said they favor taking $20,000 from an account earmarked in 2016 for a handicapped access ramp and using instead as the town's share of a grant proposal that could provide an access lift for the town hall. The lift would connect the upper and lower halls while the 2016 proposed ramp would only serve the main hall. The AFC suggests moving the remaining $27,000 balance of the ramp account into the town stabilization fund.

Board Grants a New Conservation Restriction

The Selectboard May 15 approved a conservation restriction to protect a 7.2 acre North Main Street parcel from future development. The parcel, opposite Quabbin retreat, will be purchased b y East Quabbin Land Trust for $7,800 and the restriction will be held by the town.

Conservation Commission chair Robert Clark said the parcel, for years used to grow corn and hay, has excellent agricultural soils. The restriction will allow using the property for agriculture but bar development. A farm stand would be allowed. witty

The board reviewed June town meeting articles with the Advisory Finance Committee (AFC) but provided few final details on the Fiscal 2019 Budget or coming tax rate. Proposed school budgets include Mahar at $792,075,000 Monty Tech at $40.505 and the Center School at $1,076,448.

AFC chair Ross France said the budget will not require a Proposition 2 1/2 override and that his committee may recommend a 2.5 percent cost of living increase for town employees. The Broadband Municipal Light Plant committee was on the agenda to provide an update on the town's broadband project, but members did not appear.

Police Chief Plans to Retire on October 31

Dana Cooley, Petersham police chief for the past 18 years, has notified Selectmen that he plans to retire from the position at the end of October. The police department has two full-time and 10 part-time officers.

The Selectboard accepted Cooley's letter of retirement on May 8 and said they will begin searching for a replacement.

"I am going to be gone on October 31. My intention is to go out with the kids in the community and say goodbye to everybody then. On Halloween, the police and fire departments provide an escort for a parade of horribles around the common and a town hall event.

Cooley has been with the Petersham Police Department for a total of 26 years. Formerly a sergeant, Chief Cooley replaced Chief Denis Legare in August 2010.quabbin retreat

Cooley, 58, is a lifelong resident of Petersham. Before accepting the position as Chief of Police, Cooley worked as Athol’s Assistant DPW Superintendent for 28 years. The chief's retirement announcement will be on the Selectboard agenda for discussion on May 8.

During budget talks last month, Cooley asked for a new police cruiser and asked to add a full-time patrolman to the department in the coming budget year. Both requests were turned aside by the Selectboard and the Advisory Finance Committee.

Cooley has expressed concerns that the current department staffing is not adequate to take on an extra workload that could possibly arise from having Quabbin Retreat, an addiction and recovery treatment center, in town. "Heywood is not really an issue but the work is going to pick up. Behavioral health is unpredictable, but I do welcome it," he said, adding that Heywood is providing a much needed service as a new owner of the former convent. At present, a single officer on duty would likely respond to any calls from the Quabbin Retreat. He said having a second officer available could help with any situation that might arise.althea
Cooley said, "I am getting done. There's a number of reasons. I have a family and grandchildren that I want to spend some time with. I am not going to get out of law enforcement. I have had a number of offers but it is time (to go).

"What I retire with is not going to be far off from my take home home pay now." If the Selectboard calls me forward and asked (why retire) that might be the night you want to be there."

Cooley suggested that the board assemble a committee of police chiefs together and do it fairly and equitably. There are qualified candidates inside the current department who could take over, Cooley said. "I hope that the next guy will be community oriented," he said.hardwick coop



The Black and White Ones Are Stinky - Move Along

April 2018 ACO Log

06 April@5p Old Barre Road resident call to state they have seen a skunk for several days near a shed. Advised. Area checked, skunk not currently in area.

07 April Several conversations during the day with East Street resident having a recurrent issue with a skunk. Discussed some methods to try to deter animal from spending time near dwelling. Call placed to EPO emergency number, referred to Mass Wildlife. Mass Wildlife unavailable until Monday at 7:30a.

08 April@8a Above concern addressed. Skunk has now sprayed deck of home.

09 April@7:30a Call to Mass Wildlife regarding above skunk issue. Informed Mass Wildlife no longer addresses these, though suggested local ACO could trap nuisance cases. Mass Wildlife suggested homeowner could also contact a licensed PAC agent. Homeowner advised and PAC fees given.

09 April@3p Noticed older, black, German shepherd like dog walking along East Street, near Old East. Treats tossed, came close enough to identify 2018 rabies tag on collar, though unable to ascertain additional information. Dog retreated to pond and woods off Old East Street.

09 April@4p Old Barre Road resident called to say he saw above described dog. Visit to area found dog to be now be in Barre. Attempt made to persuade dog to come with no success. Rutland Regional Dispatch and Rutland Regional Animal Control notified. Assistance offered.

12 April@9a Skunk issue on East Street. Plan in place with homeowner.

15 April@8a Barre Road resident call. There has been a raccoon in their yard acting in a very peculiar manner since approximately 3:30a. Homeowner described activity seen. Went to site and observed what appeared to be a young, healthy raccoon acting in a very odd manner. Advised owner of plan.

15 April@9:15a Return to area and raccoon seen, muzzle covered with quills. Baited trap set, notified PPD in the event an additional person might be needed.

15 April@10:30a Dispatch call for injured fox on Birch Drive. As ACO was still at area for above, PPD made initial contact. Homeowner placed blanket over fox. Discussion with PPD, call placed to Tufts Wildlife.

15 April@11a Contact with homeowner on Barre Road, no evidence raccoon had returned to Barre Road residence.

15 April@11:40a With assistance from PPD officer on duty, fox placed in a safe crate. ACO transfer of animal to licensed rehab facility in Wendell.

15 April@12p Raccoon acting in an odd manner seen in the middle of the road on Barre Road on the Barre/Petersham line. Rutland Regional Animal Control notified.

15 April@5p Spoke with homeowner on Barre Road. Agreed trap would not be left live overnight as it would be difficult to monitor (ACO personal satellite cam does not work well in area.) Homeowner agreed to remove food and call 24/7 if animal is observed.

15 April@5:30p Dropped additional medical supplies with rehab individual for fox.

15 April@7:50p Call from dispatch regarding barking dog compliant on Birch Drive. Area driven X2. No evidence of dog running at large or barking.

15 April@8:40p Caller of above notified.

16 April@3p Trap removed from Barre Road.

18 April@10:45a Dispatch call. Complaint of barking dogs on Birch drive. Area checked, no dogs out. Called individual who filed complaint, message left.

22 April@5:30a Report of two lost dogs Quaker Drive. Alert activated, post to FB page.

24 April@10:30a Dispatch call regarding HBC case on Route 122 near New Salem line. Message left for New Salem ACO, spoke to State Police who referred to State Highway depot in Orange. Spoke with employee to confirm they did pick up deceased dog. Requested hold be placed until further info available.

24 April@11:15a Call from Athol resident stating he hit a dog on Route 122, called 911, stayed on scene until officer arrived. Caller stated the dog passed while he was with animal.

24 April Spoke with New Salem ACO, contact made with New Salem owner of above.

25 April@10a Additional messages left for Birch Drive resident to follow up on barking dog compliant. No response.

Charter Communications Chimes in on Broadband

Nearly two years ago, when the town sought proposals for a broadband system, only Matrix Design responded even though the state was already suggesting big cable TV millersriverproviders like Charter Communications and Comcast would provide a preferred solution for un-served towns.

Now, Charter Communication has reached out to the town with an inquiry that says Charter is preparing a proposal for the state that includes both Barre and Petersham. The Selectboard has received a Feb. 21 e-mail from Charter that says in part, "... we are in the process of finalizing a new multi-town proposal to the Mass Broadband Institute (MBI) to bring broadband service to un-served towns in the Commonwealth. As the town of Petersham abuts Charter's existing system in Barre, we plan on including Petersham as a town of interest in our new proposal..." The note came from Anna Lucey, director of government affairs at Charter in Worcester.",,, if it is not too late, we would appreciate the opportunity for Petersham to review our proposal once it is submitted." mann lumber

Chip Bull, who chairs the town's broadband project, said, "It's absurd at the best. If you look at the note that Peter Larkin sent you would read it as if he thinks its a good idea. We have a signed contract with Matrix. Every time a cable offer appears the MBI is 100 percent on-board.
It's a non-starter. For 100 reasons that makes no sense. We are in the middle of a contract. I think we are very close to getting our money (state reimbursement)."

Broadband Reimbursement Still Not Certain

After a Feb. 23 conference call with the state agency charged with helping rural towns pay for extending  broadband to un-served towns like Petersham, the Selectboard voted Feb.  27 to send  an "expression of interest" letter to the state instead of  sending a grant application seeking  full payment of a promised $880,000 reimbursement for the town's planned broadband system.

The town plans to have Matrix Design of New Jersey build its broadband system under a lease/purchase contract. The state is asking towns to buy, build, own and operate their own systems. Petersham asserts that a lease purchase is just the same as ownership. Town voters in June of 2017 approved spending $560,000 to get the work started and local officials said they would rely on state promises to recover that money. More than 360 residents have also put $250 each on deposit to help fund the project and sign up for the service. With local cash in hand, work can go ahead on the system.godin

Meanwhile, Mass Broadband Institute, the state agency  handing the reimbursements, has listed nine towns that will work with Comcast or with Charter Communications to extend broadband services. MBI says it has also supported projects such as the completed town-owned network in Leverett, as well as projects in Alford, Otis, Warwick, and Mount Washington
. Hinsdale, Lanesborough, West Stockbridge, New Salem and Princeton.

Town Hall Access Committee Report

Nichewaug Proposal Deadline Extended to June 28

With no redevelopment proposals in hand, the Selectboard voted Jan. 19 to keep trying and extended the deadline for proposals to June 28.

A request for proposals and two walk-throughs of the property generated interest but eight individuals and architects from Amherst, Cambridge, Watertown and North Carolina sought more time to come up with plans to redevelop the town-owned property.eddies wheels
Vice chairman Henry Woolsey said issuing an RFP in late November with a January deadline for responses was "... a mistake" and unrealistic. "I think we should vote for a significant extension." Selectman Rik Marsh agreed. As an abutter, Chairman Nancy Allen cannot participate in Nichewaug matters.

"We have owned the property for 10 years. It is a problematic property. We are making progress but it is slow," Woolsey said.

Stephanie Selden of Phillips drive said, "I don't see the harm in an extension. That's how you get good proposals."

The town took ownership of the property after several private owners failed to redevelop it and has since spent more than a half million dollars to remove asbestos from the property to make it more attractive to developers.

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