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-STURBRIDGE-

By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter
Sturbridge Town Common newspaper

Tornado victims and the Board of Selectmen got together once again June 22 to discuss the impact the twister had on the town and, more importantly, what those victims need.
When the group, which included residents mostly from Willard, Fiske Hill and Streeter roads, met for the first time two weeks earlier, they were rushed out of the town hall because of a severe thunderstorm warning for the area. This past Wednesday, the weather was poor once again.
“For whatever reason, when this group comes together, we seem to be burdened with poor weather,” Board of Selectmen Chair Thomas Creamer said.
But, he said, he chose to look at the rain not as a curse, but as a blessing: As a way to nourish the re-growth of the community.
Before the meeting was opened up to questions, Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski gave the group an update of what assistance is available. He said town and state officials are looking at the current disaster declaration, which provides Worcester country with individual assistance for FEMA, and noted that a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center has been set up at the public safety complex for people to use on a walk-in basis.
“They can take you through your concerns individually,” Suhoski said.
However, Creamer said, the help FEMA is offering is very limited. He urged residents to look through the programs very carefully before applying as it basically only covers structural, window, HVAC, sewage and well repairs
“Their goal is to repair the home to a safe and sanitary condition, not the condition the home was in prior to the disaster,” Creamer said. “We recognize there is still a significant need out there.”
The town, however, is doing what they can to help residents. Building permit fees for those in affected areas have been eliminated, as well as fees for dumping demolition materials at the transfer station, and electrical and plumbing inspections have been reduced.
Town staffers are working to document damage with photographs, spreadsheets and mapping and are working with state legislators in order to give state and federal officials the ammunition they need to get the area declared for public FEMA assistance as well. Either way, Suhoski said, the town faces major costs associated with the storm. The Board of Selectmen have approved deficit spending for the cleanup, which is currently estimated at $150,000.
“There is still a lot more debris to go,” Suhoski said.
The town has vowed to help residents with their debris problems, but Suhoski said the state-contracted debris hauler gave the town an estimate of $600,000 to remove material homeowners have stacked along the sides of roads. Creamer said volunteer hours, to the tune of $500,000 worth, have been tracked in hopes some sort of reimbursement can be gleaned from the sweat equity.
The discussion was then opened up to the residents.
“We ask you to be as frank and honest as possible with us,” Creamer said.
John Trahan, of Willard Rd., said he was concerned about the height of the brush piles on the sides of the road, and also about the speed of people traveling down the street. He said he wants the speed limit reduced, and enforced, on the road and for some “Children At Play” signs to be posted.
“It is heartbreaking to see the conditions you are living in,” Creamer said.
“It is like a war zone.”
Creamer said the board would work to expedite the removal of the brush and alert Police Chief Thomas Ford about the speeding issue.
Streeter Rd. residents said they were also worried about brush piles. Many of the homes just don’t have the frontage to pile up their brush, since the road is so narrow to begin with.
Creamer said the town was working on putting together some more brush pick-up days.
“My feeling is, we clean it up and figure it out after,” Selectman Priscilla Gimas said. “It’s not just your problem, it’s everybody’s problem. We have to do what we have to do.”
Trahan said he and his neighbors are also worried about the wetlands behind their homes.
“The stream is encroaching on my yard, making things wetter and wetter,” Trahan said.
The town is working to get situations like these resolved with MEMA’s help. In addition, the town’s conservation agent, Erin Jacque, has been out to affected areas and has tagged trees that should be removed to ease some of the pressure off the streams.
But some people were worried about the opposite problem: Fire. Some wanted to know if they could have permission to burn some of the brush, and others were worried about the brush and tree damage becoming brush hazards later in the summer.
“That would be a whole other tragedy,” said Diane Halper, of Willard Rd.
Suhoski said there has been no indication from state officials that they will allow any burning off season, although Creamer said he’d try to advocate burning season be opened up to those affected in the fall.
As for the possibility of brush fires, Suhoski said FEMA offers no support for prevention. Creamer said brush fires will be even more concerning next summer, when the wood begins to dry out.
Gimas said she wondered if the town could enter into a mutual aid agreement with other towns to get some DPW crews and equipment in to help clear out the brush. Creamer and Suhoski said they would look into pursuing that matter.

-STURBRIDGE-

By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter

Voters discussed a variety of issues when Sturbridge held its Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting June 6 at the high school.
Before the meeting began, however, Board of Selectmen Chair Thomas Creamer took some time to thanks the volunteers, Town Administration Shaun Suhoski, Police Chief Thomas Ford, the fire department and department of public works for their service in cleaning up after last week’s tornadoes. He also addressed those who have suffered damage, promising to do everything he and the board can to help them rebuild.
After a request from Robert Briere to postpone the meeting, due to the fact that the Finance Committee report was not available as much ahead of time as usual, was defeated, the meeting began.

The budget

Articles 1 and 2 passed quickly but there was some discussion on Article 3 – the budget. Although most of the questions asked by residents were answered with simple clarifications, there was dissention on a few items.
Regarding the Town Clerk’s salary, Town Clerk Lorraine Murawski made a statement concerning her administrative assistant. She said she has for the past nine years been trying to get her clerk’s salary equitable to the work she performs, getting nowhere with the Personnel Board. So she made a substitute motion that $1,000 be transferred from her own salary, to the wages of her clerk. The substitute motion passed.
There was also some discussion surrounding permitting software purchase of $10,000 to be made by the Planning Board. Town Planner Jean Bubon explained that the software would be used by any of the town’s departments that issue permits. Board of Health Chair Linda Cocalis spoke in opposition of the purchase.
“This has never been evaluated by the Technical Committee,” she said. “The Board of Health is not likely to sue this. Before we vote on it, it should be put out to bid and appropriately evaluated.”
Suhoski responded that he felt the software is going to serve the town efficiently and save taxpayers money in the long run. The item passed as written, effectively passing the budget as written.

Betterment funds

Article 15 dealt with the distribution of Betterment funds. These funds are raised through a special hotel/motel tax. Resident Craig Moran, in a substitute motion, asked his fellow voters to consider taking $37,000 out of the Betterment fund to purchase a new emergency response vehicle for the fire chief. He explained that the chief’s current vehicle, a 2000, has over 90,000 miles, and had ongoing problems.
“It’s not in good enough shape to serve as an emergency response vehicle,” Moran said. “We are putting the chief and the public in a bad position when the chief is on the road driving at high speeds in that vehicle. We need to take care of the public safety people that take care of us.”
Finance Committee member Arnold Wilson explained that anyone with a betterment request needs to come before the committee with a proposal. Resident Ginger Peabody wanted to know why the fire chief himself hasn’t come forward to ask for the vehicle. Finance Committee Chair Kevin Smith said he had come through Capital Planning and that the vehicle was slated to be addressed soon. The substitute motion was defeated and Article 15 passed as written.

Conflict of Interest

Article 45 deals with conflicts of interest between family members serving in various capacities throughout the town. The Finance Committee did not recommend the article, saying further study is needed to understand it. The Board of Selectmen did recommend the article, with a substitute motion further clarifying the language.
Several people spoke passionately for and against the article. Selectmen Creamer and Mary Dowling were both in favor of the article and Dowling read a lengthy statement in support. Selectman Mary Blanchard, whose son once served on the police department and whose husband currently serves on the Planning Board, spoke out against the article.
“This needs a lot more homework,” Blanchard said.
Resident Thomas Chamberland, who serves along with his four brothers in several capacities in town, also spoke out against it. He said it attacks family, the very core of the community and that people unmarried, living together are in the same position but aren’t affected by the bylaw.
“This is wrong,” Chamberland said.
The article was defeated in both the substitute motion. Then the article was passed over.

Other items of interest

Article 13, which asked the town to approve the Pay As You Throw trash program passed.
The town took on $1,620,800 in debt when it approved Article 22, a DEP-required upgrade to a water treatment facility in town.
Article 20, asking the town to support funding for the new roof at the junior high was passed over because borrowing will not be needed due to lower anticipated costs of the project. Articles 39, 41, 42 and 43 were also all passed over.
All other articles were passed as written.

Special Town Meeting

Substitute motion for article 32, which transferred funds to pay for Burgess Elementary School roof snow removal, was made reducing the cost from $40,925 to $18,000. That was passed unanimously. All other Special Town Meeting articles passed as well.

-BROOKFIELD-

By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter
jgrybowski@turley.com

Summer is finally here and the local Highway Department is taking advantage of the nicer weather to do some road work in town.
The town was awarded $500,000 MassWorks Small Town Rural Assistance Program (STRAP) grant last October, to help reconstruct portions of Town Farm, Gay and Rice Corner roads. According to state documents, roadway upgrades will address certain public safety issues by improving several limited sight areas and through the installation of drainage facilities to mitigate frequent flooding. The total project cost is estimated at $625,000, with the town of Brookfield providing the remaining funding and in-kind services.
The Highway Department began work recently on Town Farm Road, from about house number 44 south to the end of the road. According to Highway Superintendent Herb Chaffee, his crew is working on draining and cleaning excess debris on the edge of the road and hauling it away.
“This is a road that has had issues,” Chaffee said. “It is starting to fall apart. It’s been quite a few years since it’s been paved.”
Chaffee said the crew is also working on installing adequate drainage. He said the storm water used to run naturally off the road, but new homes being built have disrupted that flow.
“It creates issues on the public way,” he said.
Chaffee said he hopes the work on Town Farm Rd. will be done by the end of June or early July.
“We have a few more weeks of drainage edging and sweeping work to get ready for reclaiming and paving,” he said.
Crews will then move on to the second part of the project: Parts of Rice Corner and Gay roads.
The work on Rice Corner Rd. will begin at the stop sign near Rice Corner Cross Cut and extend to the Sturbridge line. Pulverizing, reclaiming, regarding and repaving will be done to about 5,000 feet of roadway from Rice Corner Cross Cut to the farm at the sharp corner of the road, past Gay Rd. The rest of the road will be repaved, as drainage work was performed there recently.
The work on Gay Rd. will include reclaiming, regarding and repaving of the first 400 feet of the road.
Chaffee said the drainage work is mainly done in-house by his two and a half man crew. He did have to hire a contractor to do some digging on Town Farm Rd. and has contracted the actual paving portions of the projects out as well.
Chaffee said he is hoping the entire project will be finished by the middle to end of July.

CSX bridge repairs
Residents who travel over the CSX bridge on Route 148 regularly will be relieve to hear that they will be inconvenienced for only a few more weeks.
Michael Verseckes, Mass DOT spokesperson, said crews are currently half way through Phase II of the project. Phase I was the actual raising of the bridge 18 inches, in order to allow some of CSX’s taller trains to pass through. That phase was completed in December. Phase II consists of side work: Installing a sidewalk on one side, installing concrete beams on both sides and adjusting approach roads on both sides. According to E.T.& L. Corp. (the contractor doing the work) Project Manager/Estimator Richard Masucci work should be complete by the second week in July. When the project is complete, the traffic signal that looms above the bridge will be removed.

SOUTHBRIDGE – For the second year in a row, Hyde Tools was honored recently with multiple awards for excellence in packaging and merchandising. The awards, given by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), were presented in May at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas.
Two of the awards centered on the company’s new HYDE® 14-in-1 multi-tool, which won both for the tool packaging and the design of a merchandiser. A gold award was presented for a colorful corrugated counter merchandiser that graphically illustrated many of the features and uses of the tool. These include four screw bits that are stored in the handle.
The tool graphics, which included both a product label and an unusual handle wrap, drew a silver award for Hyde. The wrap is applied as a transparent shrink wrap, with preprinted graphics that promote the screw bits in the handle and demonstrate how to use access and use them.
Also presented were two awards for the new HYDE® Pivot Nozzle Wand for electric pressure washers, which were honored in both the hardware and lawn and garden competitions. The Pivot Nozzle Wand is a patented new pressure washer accessory, with a nozzle that pivots up to 90° as you work so you can reach in, over, under or around obstacles and still keep a 90-degree angle to the surface for maximum power.
Adding a Pivot Nozzle Wand to your pressure washer allows you to step back, stay dry and reach into every nook and cranny without contortion.
All of the featured products were designed by Corey Talbot, Vice President of Marketing and Product Development for Hyde. The packaging was created by Six-Point Creative Works in Springfield. For further information on the products, visit hyderewards.com.

Dads get free admission on Father’s Day

STURBRIDGE – Old Sturbridge Village will showcase the arts with music, dancing, and painting demonstrations during its annual Music & Art Weekend June 18-19. Village potters will fire redware pottery in the museum’s massive 24-foot-high brick kiln on Saturday, June 18, and all dads get free Father’s Day admission and a free gift (while supplies last) on Sunday June 19. For event details, call 1-800-SEE-1830 or visit http://www.osv.org.

Visitors can learn to play 1830s-style instruments like the jaw harp and tin whistle, and hear music played on the Village’s antique pipe organ and on other rare antique instruments from the museum’s collection, many of which are rarely seen or heard by the public. OSV historians will teach old-fashioned artistic techniques like paper marbling, and visitors can have a silhouette cut of their profiles and learn how silhouetting is done.

Several musical performances and demonstrations are scheduled throughout the weekend. On Saturday, the OSV Singers will present their spring concert and other solo performers will sing 19th century songs and ballads. The Old Sturbridge Village Recorder Consort will also perform on Saturday. Musical highlights on Sunday include fife and drum music and Will O’Hare, of the popular group Full Gael, will play flute music from the 1800s. The OSV Dancers will be demonstrating and teaching 19th century dances.

Visual artists from several disciplines will be on hand to show people the popular art forms of the 1800s. Art tours of the Village will be conducted to help Visitors understand the artistic traditions and style of the time. Michelle Temares, a popular visiting artist, will do portrait painting demonstrations using only period-appropriate materials and techniques. She will also create a wood engraving for the printing press using period materials. Early newspapers and almanacs used wood engravings in their illustrations. More information about Michelle’s work can be found at http://www.bellamichelle.com.

A group of local “Plein Aire” artists will also give demonstrations and offer their art for sale throughout the weekend. “Plein Aire” artists paint outdoors and capture the settings around them using natural light. They can often be seen at the Village throughout the year painting the Old Sturbridge Village buildings and landscapes.

The art of pottery will also be highlighted during a rare kiln firing on Saturday. The OSV kiln was recently restored thanks to the generous contributions to its Rekindle the Kiln campaign. The kiln is an “updraft bottle-style” kiln and is a reproduction based on archaeological research at the site of Hervey Brooks’ Pottery Shop, which was moved from Goshen, Connecticut to OSV in 1961. Once a year, the kiln is lit and approximately 700 pieces of Village-made redware pottery are fired. In order to reach the 1800 degree Fahrenheit temperatures needed inside the kiln, the fire inside must burn for over 40 hours. Visitors will see potters tending to the fire and demonstrating at the wheel inside the shop.

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates life in early New England from 1790 – 1840. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., OSV is open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. Currently, the Village is open seven days a week from 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is: $20 for adults; $18 for seniors; $7 for children ages 3-17; children under 3 are admitted free. Each admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. Woo Card subscribers get 25% of adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive 50% off adult daytime admission. For details, visit http://www.osv.org or call 800-SEE-1830.

# # #

Upcoming events at Old Sturbridge Village:

Antique Car Rally – June 4
Pre-1946 cars will be showcased throughout the day on the Village Common and a grand procession of the autos will end the afternoon. The Rally commemorates the 65th anniversary of the Museum’s 1946 opening when visitors toured the Village in their cars. Over 25 cars from the early 1900s will be on display.

Muster Day – June 11
In the 19th century, the small army was supplemented by local militias who “mustered” once a year for training and drilling. Visitors can observe and participate in the mustering activities, hear stirring fife and drum music, and visit a “Striped Pig Tent” on the Village Common.

Independence Day Fireworks and Celebration – July 3-4

Old Sturbridge Village will begin its Independence Day Celebrations with a fireworks display and special events on the evening of July 3. In addition to the countryside fireworks, there will also be a reading of the Declaration of Independence, games, music, magic, and a patriotic fashion contest. On July 4, highlights will include signing a giant reproduction of the Declaration of Independence, a citizen’s parade, and music.

Neighborhood wine shop and specialty food store caters to discriminating palates

By Melissa Fales
Reporter

FISKDALE – Fiskdales’ newest store is the Winebuyer’s Outlet, a wine shop and specialty food store offering a convenient place for “foodies” to discover quality consumables from near and far. Located at 453 Main Street, the Winebuyer’s Outlet is a tasteful blend of two of proprietor Joanne Sagansky’s biggest loves, good wine and good food.
Sagansky, a former music teacher and one-time computer system program analyst, is no stranger to the wine world. Her husband, Peter, is the president of the Charles River Wine Company, an import company and wholesale distributor of wines, also located in Fiskdale. The Winebuyer’s Outlet specializes in wines imported by the Charles River Wine Company. “She’s not only my wife, she’s one of my best customers,” joked Peter.
The Saganskys have lived in Sturbridge for 12 years and said they love the feel of the town. However, they have long lamented the lack of local outlets for purchasing the specialty foods they love. “As residents, we are keenly aware of the types of foods you simply can’t buy here in town,” said Sagansky. The store is an opportunity for Sagansky to share some of her favorite foods with residents who otherwise might never be introduced to them. “What could be more fun that providing quality wine and food products to people who like to drink wine and cook?” asked Peter. Sagansky’s commitment to offering these products involves driving around to various small producers across the state, notably to towns in the Boston area like Somerville and Lynn, to gather items that are not readily available locally. “No one delivers out here,” said Sagansky. “Many of the items are completely new to our customers. The response has been exciting.”
Sagansky said she has wanted to open a store for some time. The couple searched for three years before finding the right location for her store. Sagansky said she fell in love with the spot, a former chair factory, immediately. “It’s got just the right feel,” she said. Sagansky is the majority partner for the Winebuyer’s Outlet and is joined in the venture by minority partner Sturbridge resident Edmund Neal III. Sagansky said the idea behind the store was to create an atmosphere that would set them apart from other places to purchase wine. “We weren’t looking to sell hard liquor or cigarettes or scratch tickets,” she said. “We’ve sought out to fill the store with items we believe are natural matches for the wines we sell.”
In addition to its wine selection, the Winebuyer’s Outlet offers specialty beers, cheeses, organic spices and herbs, gourmet condiments, and chocolate. “We spent months tasting foods to determine which products we would carry,” said Sagansky, including all of the varieties of chocolate they sell. “It was a tough job, but someone had to do it,” she joked.
With the Charles River Wine Company, Peter focuses on wines that come from small, family-owned wineries. Likewise, with the Winebuyer’s Outlet, Sagansky focuses on specialty foods from small, family-owned businesses, particularly those in Massachusetts whenever possible. One example is the selection of artisan breads from the Route 32 bakery in Gilbertville available Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Sagansky said the Winebuyer’s Outlet is an answer to the way people’s lifestyles have changed due to the tough economy. “People might be driving less and dining out less, but they can still bring home a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with a nice meal,” she said.
At the Winebuyer’s Outlet, Sagansky has gathered a staff that shares her interest in fine things to serve at the table. The store offers regular wine and food tastings and is planning on holding seminars to teach people about wine in the future. “We truly enjoy spreading the word about great food and wine,” said Sagansky. “It’s our passion.”

-STURBRIDGE-

By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter

Voters discussed a variety of issues when Sturbridge held its Annual Town Meeting and Special Town Meeting June 6 at the high school.
Before the meeting began, however, Board of Selectmen Chair Thomas Creamer took some time to thanks the volunteers, Town Administration Shaun Suhoski, Police Chief Thomas Ford, the fire department and department of public works for their service in cleaning up after last week’s tornadoes. He also addressed those who have suffered damage, promising to do everything he and the board can to help them rebuild.
After a request from Robert Briere to postpone the meeting, due to the fact that the Finance Committee report was not available as much ahead of time as usual, was defeated, the meeting began.

The budget

Articles 1 and 2 passed quickly but there was some discussion on Article 3 – the budget. Although most of the questions asked by residents were answered with simple clarifications, there was dissention on a few items.
Regarding the Town Clerk’s salary, Town Clerk Lorraine Murawski made a statement concerning her administrative assistant. She said she has for the past nine years been trying to get her clerk’s salary equitable to the work she performs, getting nowhere with the Personnel Board. So she made a substitute motion that $1,000 be transferred from her own salary, to the wages of her clerk. The substitute motion passed.
There was also some discussion surrounding permitting software purchase of $10,000 to be made by the Planning Board. Town Planner Jean Bubon explained that the software would be used by any of the town’s departments that issue permits. Board of Health Chair Linda Cocalis spoke in opposition of the purchase.
“This has never been evaluated by the Technical Committee,” she said. “The Board of Health is not likely to sue this. Before we vote on it, it should be put out to bid and appropriately evaluated.”
Suhoski responded that he felt the software is going to serve the town efficiently and save taxpayers money in the long run. The item passed as written, effectively passing the budget as written.

Betterment funds

Article 15 dealt with the distribution of Betterment funds. These funds are raised through a special hotel/motel tax. Resident Craig Moran, in a substitute motion, asked his fellow voters to consider taking $37,000 out of the Betterment fund to purchase a new emergency response vehicle for the fire chief. He explained that the chief’s current vehicle, a 2000, has over 90,000 miles, and had ongoing problems.
“It’s not in good enough shape to serve as an emergency response vehicle,” Moran said. “We are putting the chief and the public in a bad position when the chief is on the road driving at high speeds in that vehicle. We need to take care of the public safety people that take care of us.”
Finance Committee member Arnold Wilson explained that anyone with a betterment request needs to come before the committee with a proposal. Resident Ginger Peabody wanted to know why the fire chief himself hasn’t come forward to ask for the vehicle. Finance Committee Chair Kevin Smith said he had come through Capital Planning and that the vehicle was slated to be addressed soon. The substitute motion was defeated and Article 15 passed as written.

Conflict of Interest

Article 45 deals with conflicts of interest between family members serving in various capacities throughout the town. The Finance Committee did not recommend the article, saying further study is needed to understand it. The Board of Selectmen did recommend the article, with a substitute motion further clarifying the language.
Several people spoke passionately for and against the article. Selectmen Creamer and Mary Dowling were both in favor of the article and Dowling read a lengthy statement in support. Selectman Mary Blanchard, whose son once served on the police department and whose husband currently serves on the Planning Board, spoke out against the article.
“This needs a lot more homework,” Blanchard said.
Resident Thomas Chamberland, who serves along with his four brothers in several capacities in town, also spoke out against it. He said it attacks family, the very core of the community and that people unmarried, living together are in the same position but aren’t affected by the bylaw.
“This is wrong,” Chamberland said.
The article was defeated in both the substitute motion. Then the article was passed over.

Other items of interest

Article 13, which asked the town to approve the Pay As You Throw trash program passed.
The town took on $1,620,800 in debt when it approved Article 22, a DEP-required upgrade to a water treatment facility in town.
Article 20, asking the town to support funding for the new roof at the junior high was passed over because borrowing will not be needed due to lower anticipated costs of the project. Articles 39, 41, 42 and 43 were also all passed over.
All other articles were passed as written.

Special Town Meeting

Substitute motion for article 32, which transferred funds to pay for Burgess Elementary School roof snow removal, was made reducing the cost from $40,925 to $18,000. That was passed unanimously. All other Special Town Meeting articles passed as well.

-STURBRIDGE-

By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter

In an effort to answer questions, hear input about what people need and show the community they are there for them, the Board of Selectmen held a special community discussion June 8 for those affected by June 1 tornado damage.
Selectmen Chair Thomas Creamer said now that people are recovering, it is time to push forward.
“It really boils down to what we can do for each other because the government is ill-equipped to deal with something of this magnitude,” Creamer said. “We are looking at a minimum of six-month effort on our part. We are not going to forget you.”
Selectmen Priscilla Gimas urged people to reach out for help.
“The outreach of this community has been overwhelming,” Gimas said. “You need only to call us and we’ll help you.”
She also warned residents about the con artists that have been making their rounds. She encouraged residents to call Town Hall if they are not sure about someone, and to keep Town Hall posted if they do in fact find a con so that they can warn others.
The people of Willard Rd. in particular were worried about security. They said that traffic has dramatically increased on the road and that people are walking through their yards without asking, parking in their driveways, taking pictures and also taking wood and metal scraps.
Police Chief Thomas Ford said he has sent out extra patrols in the area already, but that residents should not hesitate to call if people are lurking in the neighborhoods. He also said he would try to work out a way to close affected roads off to general traffic, even if that means stationing a patrolman or CERT member at the end of the road. He urged anyone who does not live or is not volunteering in affected neighborhoods to stay away.
A majority of the residents at the meeting were from Willard Rd. and most of their questions centered around debris.
“What more are you doing at with the town dump,” asked Matthew Bell, of Willard Rd. “What can we bring down there without a large expense?”
Selectmen were slated to discuss a debris policy later in the evening.
“We’re going to do as much as we can for you,” Creamer said. “Some of this debris isn’t even yours. It would be disingenuous for us to charge you for it.”
Board of Health Chair Linda Cocalis told residents to just bring what they have to the dump.
“It would be better for Sturbridge if we just take the debris and figure out how to pay for it later,” she said. “We know the roads affected and we have the list of sanctioned volunteers.”
She said, however, that the dump is unequipped to take all the debris at once, so she asked people to space out their trips. Also, she said, if possible, debris should be separated into burnables and demolition. Selectmen also suggested that people move debris to within one foot of the street so that the town can come and pick it up in sections.
Streeter Rd. resident Jessica Cooper asked if residents could do some burning themselves, even though it is off season. Selectmen said the state sets those rules and that they are working to see if they can get a special permit to allow burning.
Selectmen also said residents should not hesitate to ask for help in moving debris. The Southern Baptist Convention, working through FEMA, is in town to help people for free.
“These are trained professionals and everyone is CORI checked,” Gimas said.
In addition, the town is asking anyone who would like to volunteer to register with Dr. Sue Waters and sign a waiver by calling 774-402-4387 and become a “sanctioned volunteer.” The reason for that is twofold: It protects volunteers and homeowners in the event that a volunteer is injured while volunteering and homeowners can be assured that the volunteers are genuine, and not saying they are a volunteer and then sending them a bill for the work done.
Some questions centered around the permitting processes. Conservation Agent Erin Jacque explained some of the emergency permitting that is available, and Town Administrator Shaun Suhoski reassured residents that they only need to call into Town Hall, where employees are eager to help them through the correct processes.
Other questions centered around tax relief. Principal Assessor William Mitchell explained that homes are physically assessed each July. He encouraged anyone with damage to report it to his office so that an assessment can be done.
“We will adjust the value of the home which will, in turn, lower your taxes,” Mitchell said.
He also encouraged people with damage to send insurance report to his office, so that they can reconcile their numbers with the adjuster’s numbers to get an accurate value.
People were also worried about communication. Many people are still without phone, cable or Internet, so they feel out of the loop. Creamer said for now, when information is present he and others will be going door-to-door in affected neighborhoods to get the word out. He also encouraged people to submit their cell phone numbers to the town so that they can receive mass text messages with information and weather warnings.
Over and over again throughout the meeting, residents in need of help were urged to call Creamer at 774-696-0903 or Gimas at 774-230-5572. For more information, visit the Tornado Response Center at http://www.town.sturbridge.ma.us/

– STURBRIDGE –

By Jennifer Grybowski
Turley Publications Reporter

More than 35 people turned out March 30 to watch the five candidates for Selectmen debate audience-submitted questions. Incumbent Mary Blanchard, incumbent Scott Garieri and Priscilla Gimas are vying for two, three-year term seats. Angeline Ellison and Alphonso Esposito are vying for one, one-year term seat.
During their opening statements, the candidates each spoke about their backgrounds and motivations for running. Esposito and Garieri both have business backgrounds. Esposito said his business development training background has given him the opportunity to travel to and observe many different cities and towns.
“I chose to run because I believe my diverse background gives me a unique advantage,” Esposito said.
Garieri, a local business owner, said that not only as a business owner, but as a Selectman, he believes that the town is not more than a larger business itself.
“I care about what happens to Sturbridge,” Garieri said. “I hate seeing empty storefronts in this town.”
Blanchard, Ellison and Gimas all have education backgrounds. Blanchard pushed for support of the Planning Board and the Master Plan as well as the hiring of an economic development coordinator, but said she feels the largest issue facing the town is the budget.
“We need to determine how to get people the services they deserve at a price they can afford,” Blanchard said.
Ellison said she is committed to promoting education.
“I am committed to the betterment of the schools and the community,” Ellison said.
Gimas also pushed for support of the Master Plan and the Commercial Tourist District Revitalization Study.
“I am running because I feel I can contribute to the town’s economical and cultural vitality,” Gimas said. “I will bring integrity, respect and objectivity to the Board of Selectmen.”
During the question and answer portion of the evening, it was clear that residents in this town are concerned about development.
As for Route 15 development, all candidates said they were in favor of some type of development and all spoke to the challenges of getting sewer and water services to the corridor.
Blanchard said she thought it would be a good idea to hire an economic development coordinator to reach out to businesses that are currently zoned there. Garieri said he thought the special use zoning should be changed and that the town should focus on getting water to that area as soon as possible. Gimas said she didn’t think the zoning should be changed; she said the town currently offers incentives, such as Chapter 43D permitting, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and a single tax rate, and should use those incentives to attract businesses that fit the zoning. Ellison said she also thought offering TIF would be helpful and that the town should work together to move along the process that has already begun with Master Planning. Esposito said he thought private and public grants could be secured to help develop the area. Both Ellison and Garieri said they thought the area is prime for entertainment and recreational facilities.
Another question asked candidates how they would balance the town’s outdoor recreational and shopping opportunities.
Garieri gave credit to the people in town who create and maintain the trails, however said Sturbridge is one of the few towns he knows of that has a river people don’t enjoy.
“It’s one of the biggest advantages we have,” he said.
Ellison again pointed to the Master Plan and the Commercial Tourist District Revitalization Study. She said the studies show ways to connect trails and the river to Route 20 as well as obtaining a unique gateway to the district.
Gimas said she thought this was an instance in which an economic development coordinator or grant writer would be vital. She said that many people don’t know about the trails and that a coordinator would be able to connect them to the shopping district.
“There’s a lot of potential out there,” Gimas said.
Blanchard said she agreed that some people don’t know about the trails and that a coordinator would help, but that she thought balance and patience were necessary. She said she thought the Commercial Tourist District Revitalization Study was a wonderful plan, but that it was going to take time and money to implement.
Esposito said he thought the more opportunities there are, the more people will visit the area. He also suggested opening up the fields to regional tournaments and that beautification efforts along Route 20 should be pursued.
Candidates were also asked how they felt the town should pay for all the ambitious projects outlined in the Master Plan. All candidates agreed that it’s really up to the voters what projects, and when, they decide to implement. Gimas said this was another reason an economic development coordinator could be utilized – to help find alternative sources of revenue other than raising taxes.
“That is not an option,” Gimas said.
Esposito agreed that raising taxes is a bad idea and thought prioritizing projects, as well as communicating the issues to voters so they can be well-informed, were a good approach.
“There is only so much money to go around,” he said. “We need to be a model of fiscal discipline.”
Blanchard said the town is fortunate to have a diversified tax base and continues to budget conservatively so that projects can be funded.
Garieri said that when projects are presented to the public, they are presented as only costing each taxpayer $200 or $300 a year in taxes. But, he pointed out, those projects add up and now they are putting a pinch on people’s pockets.
“In reality, grants are not available like they used to be,” Garieri said. “We need to live within our means.”
Ellison said she thought partnerships with local towns and state and national entities could help the town get creative about alternatives other than raising taxes to pay for projects.
Another question focused on legal counsel and who should appoint the position. All five candidates agreed the Town Administrator should continue to appoint legal counsel, with Board of Selectmen confirmation, because he is the one who consults with them most, and is the one that is able to reach out to certain people in the community. Esposito pointed out that there are very few firms who represent municipalities and most of their fees are similar. In fact, Blanchard said the town received a deal on legal counsel this year as a direct result of the current town administrator’s negotiations with them and that while Town Counsel all cost pretty much the same, it is the town’s responsibility to do what they can to be careful so it doesn’t have to use their services as much.
The candidates all thanked Moderator Michael Caplette for moderating, Selectman Thomas Creamer and the Local Cable Access personnel for helping to put the night together. The election is scheduled for Monday, April 11 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Burgess Elementary School gymnasium.

I have been a resident of Sturbridge for 37 years, and was a teacher at Burgess for 25 years.

I was an elected member of the Zoning Board of Appeals from 2002 to 2008, a member of the Open Space Committee from 2001 to 2008, the 2000 and 2005 Charter Review Committees, and was an appointed member of the Board of Registrars of Voters for 9 years.

I also served as a member of the Route 131 Study Committee, the Affordable Housing Subcommittee of the Dialogue for the Future and the Burgess Teachers Negotiating Committee for 4 contracts covering 12 years.

I am married with four grown children who attended Sturbridge Public Schools, and two grandchildren who currently attend Burgess Elementary School.

As a teacher, and as an active member of several town boards and committees, I have learned that when improvement is needed it is accomplished not by confrontation, but through positive support, encouragement and open communication.

Since I was elected to the Board of Selectmen in 2008 I have worked to maintain the character and quality of life of our community, to keep Sturbridge affordable and to help get the maximum value from our tax dollars.

I will continue to bring an open-minded and broad view to the Board of Selectmen – requiring the Board to consider how its actions will affect the entire community.