Paul working for you.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pipeline opponents discuss strategies

Pipeline opponents discuss strategies
Close to 500 gather to plan their opposition

Joseph Benavidez
News Staff Writer

Nearly 500 people from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York gathered at Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School on Saturday for a Pipeline Summit to discuss the controversial Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Expansion.

“It’s really critical all of us stick together — for us to stay united,” state Rep. Stephen Kulik, DWorthington, said during the legislative panel. “We (the legislators) will be very aggressive because public input is really the most important tool in having our deeps concerns heard.”

News Staff Photo by JOSEPH BENAVIDEZ

Ed Galat, of Winchendon, points out his family’s farm on a detailed map of the best estimated route of the pipeline. Mr. Galat’s family has had the farm for 40 years and according to the map, the pipeline would bisect the fields.

According to organizers, the summit was designed to educate residents on what the average person can do to make comments during Kinder Morgan’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission application process for the pipeline and allow residents to network with residents from neighboring communities.

Ken Hartlage, president of the Nashoba Conservation Trust, shared the story of learning how the proposed pipeline route would cut through one of Pepperell’s forests. He said the day after he heard that the news, he went to the land and looked around. Mr. Hartlage said he remembers thinking “this place is special, it’s the type of place worth protecting.”

Mr. Hartlage said that if the pipeline were constructed, an estimated 1,500 acres of forest and open land, 230 wetlands and 118 bodies of water would be damaged. He also said that 144 Massachusetts households live within 50 feet of a construction site.
One of those households would be Winchendon resident Ed Galat’s family. Mr. Galat said his son’s family lives on a farm that would be bisected by the pipeline. The Galats have had the farm for nearly 40 years and have tried to gather as much information on the pipeline as possible.

“We need to know what could happen,” he said.


Eryn Dion
News Staff Writer

The state’s Division of Local Mandates visited Templeton Monday afternoon at the behest of interim Town Administrator Bob Markel to discuss the impending closure of the Templeton Developmental Center and its effect on town services.

The division, a branch of the State Auditor’s Office, works to determine whether mandates handed down by the state are unfunded and therefore in violation of Proposition 2 1 / 2. In this case, the closing of the state developmental facility and the passage of various expenses onto the town.

While the group did not offer a formal answer after their visit, Mr. Markel said he was not hopeful that the town would find any reprieve.

“The sense was that we’re not going to get a ruling of that kind,” he told the Board of Selectmen.

The division did offer some guidance on what is considered to be the biggest concern the town faces related to the developmental center’s transition — the maintenance and plowing of miles of roadway on Freight Shed Road.

Patricia Lyons, the facility’s director, and representatives from the Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance have previously stated that they believe the road is a town road and Templeton should assume responsibility once the center closes.

“The first recommendation they made is that the town should require the commonwealth to prove that Freight Shed Road is an accepted public way of the town,” Mr. Markel explained.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thank You!

Thank You!

Thank you to the Highway Department, Cemetery department and sewer department for clearing the roads on Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving.

Thank you to the linemen at TMLWD for restoring power in a timely manner.

Thank you to our public safety employees for a job well done.

A 'Doctor Who' scarf sort of day

A 'Doctor Who' scarf sort of day


By now many of you are probably in UMass Memorial Medical Center being treated for injuries suffered shopping on Black Friday, and I may have had several toes frozen off running in the Gardner to Templeton Turkey Trot, but I am writing this column Wednesday and that is all speculation.

My focus is not on crazy shopping or frozen road races, but on the first truly tweet-worthy snow of the winter.

There has been a little snow this winter, but not much. A storm slated to start Wednesday was expected to be very plowable. It was projected to be a "Doctor Who" scarf-level blizzard.

"Doctor Who", for those not familiar with the doctor, is a British Broadcasting Corp. television show about a time lord who flies back and forth in time in a blue British telephone booth, wearing a long scarf and often accompanied by a comely companion. The doctor's purpose, it seems, is to save the world from amusing bad guys, including statues of angels and cheesy looking robotic creatures called Daleks.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Local democracy

Local democracy

It's said so often that it's something of a truism — New England town meeting is the purest form of democracy on the planet. And sometimes, "town meeting" isn't limited to what happens in the formal sessions that fall under that name.

Recent events in Westminster and Winchendon offer almost perfect case studies in how democracy is supposed to work.

In Westminster, it was a proposed ban on the sale of tobacco products in town that raised the ire of residents. Even some who abhor smoking saw in the Board of Health's consideration of such a ban a serious case of overreach.

In that case, officials backed down, voting 2-1 to drop the idea. Several days later, efforts to recall two of the three board members — efforts born and nurtured in coffee shops and convenience stores — were abandoned. But residents made clear that the Board of Health ought not try that again.

In Winchendon, the issue is a bit more complex, involving a steep deficit, a lack of communication, and disagreement over whether Town Manager James M. Kreidler Jr. should step down.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

New deadline for business plan competition

New deadline for business plan competition

GARDNER — The deadline for the 2014 Business Plan Competition, put on by the Mount Wachusett Community College Center for Entrepreneurship, has been extended to Dec. 31.

"The competition gives the region's innovators in the business and nonprofit sectors the opportunity to submit business plans and vie for cash and in-kind prizes. Five finalists and a single grand-prize winner will be selected," according to a press release.

Business plans from individuals and teams will be accepted through an extended deadline of midnight, Wednesday, Dec. 31. Five finalists will be selected and invited to participate at an awards dinner in January. During the awards dinner, all five finalists will present to a panel of judges. Each applicant will provide a 90-second business plan pitch, followed by a 10-minute presentation.

Qualified entrants are encouraged to start or grow a business or nonprofit organization within the college's service area, which includes Ashburnham, Ayer, Ashby, Athol, Barre, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Hardwick, Harvard, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Oakham, Orange, Pepperell, Petersham, Phillipston, Princeton, Royalston, Rutland, Shirley, Sterling, Townsend, Templeton, Westminster and Winchendon.

The prize package provides more than $5,000 in cash awards, advertising and consulting opportunities, including a cash award; $1,000 in print and digital advertising; a free three-credit academic course at MWCC valued at $600; a free noncredit class at MWCC valued up to $150; a full-page profile or advertisement in upcoming MWCC publications; graphic design services from a professional graphic designer; a free consultation with a marketing vice president; a free one-hour consultation with an attorney; and, 2,000 free business cards.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Narragansett football player gives thanks for a family's enduring love

Narragansett football player gives thanks for a family's enduring love
Jacob McDonald, left, and his brother, Narragansett Regional High School football player Thomas McDonald, are being raised by Karla and Todd Basso. (T&G STAFF/RICK CINCLAIR)

BALDWINVILLE — When he sits down to Thanksgiving dinner, Narragansett Regional senior football player Tom McDonald will have a lot to be thankful for.

And yet when you look at his story, it is a tale of heartbreak and sadness that no teenager should ever have to go through.

McDonald, a split end on offense and defensive back when the other team has the ball, went through a terrible ordeal when he was 11 years old — losing both parents within a 12-week period in 2008.

"Here is a kid who could have a reason, every single day, for being late to school, not come to school, miss practice, but never. He never misses," Narragansett coach John Beary said. "He's always ready to go, prepared, paying attention. He's made a choice not to make excuses and to have a positive attitude in everything he does."

Stay safe out there!

Stay safe out there!

DATE: Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TIME: 4:30 PM

SUBJECT: Weather Impacts Thanksgiving Week

Updated forecast and trends since the last Situational Awareness Statement:
Precipitation is now expected to start in the Springfield area around 7 am Wednesday and overspread the state from southwest to northeast. Precipitation will reach Worcester by 8 am, Boston by 9 am, and cover all of Massachusetts by 10 am.

The rain/snow line will fall along the I-95 corridor between Boston and Providence. Areas near the rain/snow line will see a mix of snow, sleet, and rain.  Areas north and west of I-495 will see all snow.  Southeastern Massachusetts and the Cape and Islands will have mostly rain with little to no snow accumulation.

Travel conditions will begin deteriorating across Massachusetts starting around the morning rush hour in the Springfield area and statewide by the late morning, due to accumulating snow and poor visibility. The Wednesday evening rush hour is expected to be significantly impacted by the storm.
Heaviest snow is expected in the 12 pm to 8 pm timeframe with potential for 6-10 inches of snow north and west of I-495, with amounts of 10-14 inches possible at higher elevations such as the Berkshires and Worcester Hills. [That's us!] Snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour are possible.

Snow will be wet and heavy. Downed tree branches and scattered power outages are possible.
50 mph wind gusts are forecast across coastal Plymouth County and the Cape and Islands.
Precipitation will taper off starting around 10 pm to midnight Wednesday and end completely except for scattered snow showers by 7 am on Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Winchendon residents vote to fire town manager, reject override

Winchendon residents vote to fire town manager, reject override
Volunteer David Johnson watches over the ballot box as voters drop off ballots during the Winchendon special town meeting Monday night. (T&G Staff/CHRISTINE PETERSON)
WINCHENDON — In a heated special town meeting called to deal with a deficit that officials say is now at $3.472 million, voters approved firing Town Manager James M. Kreidler Jr. in a secret ballot 290-135, voted down a proposed $700,000 Proposition 2½ tax cap override and voted in favor of borrowing up to $6 million from the state.

Voter Danielle Hart made a motion to take the two articles out of order at the beginning of the meeting dealing with Mr. Kreidler's termination that were submitted by citizens petition.

The petitions asked selectmen "to take affirmative action terminating or otherwise removing the current Town Manager from his position, including but not limited to seeking and accepting the Town Manger's resignation or voting to terminate him, or act in relation thereto."

The nonbinding resolution said that Mr. Kreidler failed or refused to share information about the deficit — which he underestimated at $2.3 million — with selectmen immediately; that the deficit, according to auditors, was caused by various failures including poor communication, inaccurate accounting, inaccurate reports and a significant problem with the town's financial software system resulting in permanently damaged records; and that the duties of the town manager include keeping the Board of Selectmen fully informed as to the financial condition and needs of the town, and assuring that full and complete records of the financial and administrative activities of the town are kept.

Those in favor of the measure handed out a flier to voters before the meeting that read, "We pay the town manager very well to manage our town and we end up millions in debt. He runs his own business on the side — we need a full-time manager."

Mr. Kreidler runs two private solar companies, but selectmen approved Mr. Kreidler's outside employment.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Meetings the week of November 24, 2014

Meetings the week of November 24, 2014

Monday 11/24/14
Adv Board                  Kiva                        6:00 pm
BOS                            Kiva                        6:30 pm

Tuesday 11/25/14
Cap. Planning             Boynton PL              6:30 pm
Planning                      Scout Hall                6:30 pm

Wednesday 11/26/14
Assessors                    2 School St              2:00 pm

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Use of collection agency gives Uxbridge fiscal fix

Use of collection agency gives Uxbridge fiscal fix


With just about $13,000 in certified free cash in 2012, Uxbridge Finance Director David Genereux knew he had to get creative to get revenue flowing into the town coffers.

So he decided to sell tax liens the town held to a private company, essentially selling the debt owed on real property. The company, in turn, takes over the responsibility for collecting that debt — the back taxes — from the property owner.

"In some cities and towns this is catching fire. Our budgets are tight, so it's great to look at receipts as opposed to a receivable you'll get eventually," said Mr. Genereux, who is now the town manager of Uxbridge. "It has really made a difference for the town."

The town sold its first tax liens in 2012, generating $800,000 in revenue that year from the sale, plus the proceeds from people who were prompted to come in and pay.

Brookfield meeting argues about missing money, audit, uncollected taxes

Brookfield meeting argues about missing money, audit, uncollected taxes

BROOKFIELD — The selectmen's refusal to order an independent forensic audit of town finances in light of a former employee being under investigation in the theft of $50,000 baffled many who attended Friday's special town meeting.

The chairman of the Board of Selectmen said the current treasurer, Sandra Kady, does not want that sort of audit, and the chairman told town meeting that the entire board supports her decision.

Beth Conant, who worked for Brookfield for less than two years beginning in 2012, has been charged with trying to empty the contents of a Town Hall safe after she had resigned in July.

"What is the rationale for the Board of Selectmen not hiring an outside expert for a forensic audit?" Trudy O'Connell asked at Friday night's meeting. She is also the former town administrator in Hubbardston.

"Let's get it done — with someone dedicated to that process," she said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Stephen Comtois said no.

Ms. Kady "does not believe in an outside source — she says: one set of eyes," Mr. Comtois responded. "The board is confident in her work." Ms. Kady did not attend the meeting.

Winchendon to decide how to cut deficit and whether to keep Kreidler

Winchendon to decide how to cut deficit and whether to keep Kreidler
Winchendon Town Manager ames M. Kreidler Jr. speaks to the School Committee last month about the town's deficit. (T&G Staff File Photo/CHRISTINE PETERSON)  

WINCHENDON — A special town meeting called to deal with a $3.8 million deficit in this budget cycle is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday at Murdock Middle/High School, 3 Memorial Drive.

Voters will decide on budget cuts to reduce the deficit and also on articles asking for an investigation into how the deficit occurred and for the termination of Town Manager James M. Kreidler Jr.

Voters must re-approve the fiscal 2015 budget with $175,000 cuts to town services proposed. School Superintendent Salah E. Khelfaoui said the School Committee also cut $350,000 out of the school budget for this fiscal year.

Proposed cuts to the town's operating budget include nearly $44,000 to the Police Department, $28,000 to the Fire Department and $75,000 to the Department of Public Works.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Let's Wait 'Til Someone Gets Killed!

Let's Wait 'Til Someone Gets Killed!

It's getting colder out there. Spotted this by Lee's Hot Dog Stand on Rt 68 S
Where's the water coming from? 

Turkey Raffle and Holiday Fair


The Templeton Fire Department will be hosting a Turkey Raffle at the Baldwinville American Legion on Central St. in Baldwinville on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. 


Holy Cross Church, 25 Lake Ave. in East Templeton is holding their Holiday Fair on Saturday, Nov. 22 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the church hall.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Harvest Festival ... Field , Forest & Orchard Road Race

Red Apple Farm Phillipston, MA

- 2014 -

Saturday - November 22nd and

Sunday - November 23rd  10AM - 4PM

Archery Turkey Shoot:

Open to all levels and ages (Win a Jordan's fresh turkey!)
Saturday and Sunday (11am - 3pm)

Hay Bale Tossing Championship:

How high can you go? (All entries receive a chance to win a cord of wood!)
Saturday and Sunday (11am - 3pm)

Pole Toss Competition

Show us who's good with the wood! (All entries receive a chance to win a cord of wood!)
Saturday and Sunday (11 am - 3pm)

Homebrew and Hard Cider Competition:

Judged by a Panel of Professional Beer and Cider Meisters (These guys really know their brew!)
Sponsored By The Gardner Ale House (Local restaurant and brewery renowned for its house-brewed beers! )
Thanksgiving Harvest Homebrew Competition Information Page (See the official page for all the details!)

Field, Forest & Orchard 5K Run/Walk

Saturday Only (10am start time)
Kid Fun Run (9:30 am start time, 1/2 mile)
Register Here!
Check out the 5k Facebook Page!
NOTE:  Race day registrations starts at 8:30 AM!

Local officials blast school funding mandate

Local officials blast school funding mandate


HOLDEN — Local officials, worried about their increasing inability to find money to pay for a state mandate that dictates what communities must spend each year on public schools gathered Thursday to argue for changing the law.

Many of the 100 attending the public forum in the Wachusett Regional High School auditorium said the funding formula in the 1993 education reform law is broken and the education mandates are bankrupting their communities. They said they hope a recently formed state panel will recommend changes that will bring some relief.

The 21-person Foundation Budget Review Commission, created by the Legislature in July, is supposed to investigate how the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education determines the amount of money each city and town is required to spend.

"The real issue for a lot of towns is this mandate — telling us how much we have to spend," Spencer Town Administrator Adam Gaudette said before introducing the speakers. He was one of the organizers of the event.

"The way they do things now pits the town against the school — and it shouldn't," said Spencer-East Brookfield Regional School Committee member Angela Knapton.

Stephen R. Hemman, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools, provided an overview on how the state funding formula is applied. It is supposed to be based on a community's ability to pay.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sweeping Budget Cuts

 Wednesday, November 19, 2014


• Gov. Says State Must Close $329M Fiscal 2015 Budget Gap
• Gov. Uses His Budget Powers to Slash Education & Municipal Accounts by $40M
• Gov. Files Bill With Legislature to Cut Unrestricted Local Aid by $25.5M

Two days after the November 4th state election, in the waning days of his tenure, Governor Patrick disclosed a $329 million deficit in the state’s fiscal 2015 budget, a shortfall caused mostly by state budget administrative and management issues, and not by declining tax revenues. Earlier today, the Governor released his plan to close the budget gap by slashing state and local funding by $65 million mid-year. He announced that he is using his budget powers to implement approximately $200 million in immediate cuts to state-funded programs in executive agencies under his control, including $40.3 million in cuts to important municipal and school reimbursement and grant programs.

In addition to the $40.3 million in immediate cuts, the Governor has proposed legislation to slash $25.5 million from Unrestricted General Government Aid, a measure which must be approved by the Legislature to take effect. This would translate into a 2.7 percent cut in UGGA funding for every city and town. His plan relies exclusively on budget cuts and does not draw on the state’s $1.2 billion rainy day fund.

Events Today!

Narragansett Historical Society Inc. Membership Meeting November 19th 7pm
First Church location 


Taste of North Central set for Nov. 19 in Leominster
Participants in the 10th annual Taste of North Central are, from left, Cristina M. Valeri, of Cristina's Restaurant, Ellen Fay Corliss, of Aunty Ellen's Creative Confections, and Rodrigo P. Souza, of Comeketo Restaurant & Sandwich Shop, all in Leominster. (JOHN FERRARONE)
By Barbara M. Houle Correspondent
Join local chefs and restaurateurs in celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Taste of North Central, a fundraiser that will be held Nov. 19 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 99 Erdman Way, Leominster.

The event will benefit the Montachusett Opportunity Council in Fitchburg, an agency whose mission is to "alleviate poverty and create healthy communities by providing services, coordinating community resources that promote self-sufficiency and advocating for social change."

State Budget Deficit

State Budget Deficit
from State House news service:

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, NOV. 14, 2014....Gov. Deval Patrick plans to reach beyond the executive branch for help in closing a projected $325 million budget gap before he leaves office and turns the reins of state government over to Republican Charlie Baker.  Months after signing a $36.5 billion state budget that authorized a 5.6 percent increase in state spending, Patrick says "everything" is subject to near-term spending reductions, with the possible exception of school aid, and that he'll soon either ask non-executive state agencies to voluntarily comply with his budget-balancing plan or file legislation requiring compliance.  "There's a lot to do," Patrick said Thursday.  "We've got some budget decisions we need to make to make sure that the budget is in line with projected revenue and we want that to be as appropriate as possible before the next administration comes in so that they launch well."

Quabbin schools see spike in health insurance costs

Quabbin schools see spike in health insurance costs

BARRE — A 13 percent spike in health insurance costs means the Quabbin Regional School District will be $104,000 short of what it budgeted for the cost beginning Jan. 1, the administration disclosed at Thursday's meeting.

That is the difference between what was allocated for the line item and the new cost from the provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield, administrators said. They said some estimates they rejected showed increases of 19 percent.

The district's finance chief, Cheryl Duval, said she was told the large hike was due to about a dozen staff members with inordinately high illness-related expenses in the past 15 months.

Southbridge town manager search is 'stuck' in neutral

Southbridge town manager search is 'stuck' in neutral


SOUTHBRIDGE — The withdrawal by three candidates for town manager at the semifinalist stage has left the search "stuck," Town Council Vice Chairman Estaban Carrasco Jr. said Tuesday.

To that end, the search committee will talk about possibly "dismantling" the present search, in addition to discussing three other semifinalists, in an executive session planned for 5 p.m. Thursday, Mr. Carrasco said.

The present search began in July. Fifty-two applications were received, with the list winnowed to 14 top-tier candidates in August.

That month, the search committee said its preliminary plan was for the committee — and subsequently town councilors — to conduct final interviews in October.

Town consultant Donald R. Jutton, president of Municipal Resources Inc., will be at Thursday's meeting, Mr. Carrasco said.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Gobble Gobble

Food Pantry

All donations are appreciated.

Water, Water everywhere and not a drop to drink.

Maine regulators allow sale of town’s water to bottler of Poland Spring

Two temporary PUC members, standing in after three recusals, say the deal with Nestle may benefit Fryeburg Water Co. ratepayers. Critics see a bad precedent for similar deals.


The Maine Public Utilities Commission wasn’t swayed by public opposition, approving a long-term contract Thursday that allows privately owned Fryeburg Water Co. to sell water to Nestle Waters, bottler of the Poland Spring label in Maine.

Two temporary PUC commissioners ruled on the matter, saying the contract didn’t violate the “no net harm” standard used for such agreements. The decision overruled the recommendation last month by the PUC staff that the contract be rejected.

A Poland Spring tanker truck rolls through Fryeburg. Maine regulators have approved a contract allowing the Fryeburg Water Co. to sell water to Nestle Waters, which owns Poland Spring.
A Poland Spring tanker truck rolls through Fryeburg. Maine regulators have approved a contract allowing the Fryeburg Water Co. to sell water to Nestle Waters, which owns Poland Spring. 2013 Press Herald File Photo/John Patriquin

For regulators and Nestle Waters, conflict by the gallon

“All in all, this is just a sad day for the people of Fryeburg,” said Nisha Swinton, a statewide organizer for Food & Water Watch, an advocacy group that has worked with residents and opponents of the contract. She said the deal gives up a valuable resource and shortchanges the community.

The temporary commissioners, retired judges Paul Rudman and John Atwood, were appointed by Gov. Paul LePage after the three regular PUC members and the commission’s public advocate recused themselves over potential conflicts of interest.

Rudman and Atwood said the contract could benefit ratepayers of the privately owned utility by providing a steady stream of revenue. Nestle is required to make minimum payments to Fryeburg Water regardless of how much water it draws.

The commissioners also agreed to strike one contract provision that would have barred the water company from selling bulk, untreated water to companies other than Nestle. They did, however, rule that Nestle would have exclusive rights to the water in the well from which it currently draws.

Under the deal, Nestle Waters, a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Nestle SA, the world’s largest food and beverage company, gets control of a key supply of spring water, while Fryeburg Water gets a stable, predictable flow of cash.

Opponents say the deal does not serve the interests of a community reliant on a valuable resource. They said Fryeburg Water is giving up the water for less than it’s worth now – and almost certainly what it will be worth in the future, when population growth and climate change could tax water supplies.

Templeton utility gets own credit rating

Templeton utility gets own credit rating


TEMPLETON — With the town's credit rating problems weighing it down, the Templeton Municipal Light and Water Plant went its own way this fall and has now earned its first credit rating, receiving an investment grade rating of A- from Standard & Poor's rating services.
In August the town lost its credit rating because of ongoing financial problems. Without a municipal credit rating, the utility lost its qualification for unsecured credit in the wholesale power markets.

At that point, according to John Driscoll, general manager of the light and water plant, the utility decided to go a different route.

Mr. Driscoll said the utility's financial standing and credit characteristics were cited as credit strengths in the Standard & Poor's report, which also assigned a stable outlook to the rating. He said it also indicated the utility's business profile reflects a solid competitive position, a manageable debt burden and manageable capital needs.

Utilities that participate in the ISO New England wholesale power markets must post collateral or financial assurance to ensure payment for the transactions they make in the marketplace. Because of their financial structure, if municipal utilities or the municipalities they serve have an investment-grade credit rating, they qualify for unsecured credit and don't need to post collateral or some form of financial assurance to back their transactions.

The cost of the utility seeking its own credit rating was $17,000.

Templeton Municipal Light and Water Plant is a nonprofit, town-owned municipal utility. It was established in 1906 and serves about 3,500 electric customers in Templeton, and about 2,200 water customers.

Contact George Barnes at Follow him on Twitter@georgebarnesTG

Monday, November 17, 2014

Think Globally,  Buy locally

If you travel to Rindge, NH and stop at the Hannaford grocery store, you will find some locally produced milk from the Manny Hill farm from Winchester, NH. It comes in glass quart bottles, just like the ones that were delivered to your front door in days gone by. If you like chocolate milk, try theirs. On the bottle is the message "please wash out and return for the deposit"

How Green is Green?

Whatever your position on the proposed pipeline, there should be care in the alternatives that are mentioned in the conversation of the pipeline. Green energy and the so called renewables. Solar panels appear to be popular but where do they come from? They certainly do not just fall from the sky. They have to be made and this requires energy such as electricity.

The manufacturing process seems to be close to computer chips, which from what I read, is a very dirty process ( in many ways). Raw materials have to be mined, can you say open pit mining? Required is quartz sand for silicon cells, metal ore for thin film cells. These materials require manufacturing processing that results in more air pollution, heavy metal emissions and they consume large amounts of energy, which in most cases produces more air pollution, heavy metal emissions and more green house gasses. Remember Al Gore going about warning us about the inconvenient truth while flying alone in a very large jet while making a very large sum of money. (where is Al today with his message?)

And where do these panels go when they no longer work? I can see solar panels becoming more efficient and cheaper to produce as the years go by. I wonder if this will result in a glut of old panels similar to todays electronics. So, what will become of all these old panels? I would think the story is the same for wind generation. One other thing is the use of precious water resources to cool the very large solar farms in the dessert. Renewable electricity while diverting one of the most precious resources, water.  That alone makes me wonder where are all the progressives speaking out on this issue? Never mind the deposit, why is there not a push for more water fountains and where is the outcry of the selling of municipal water to private industry which is then sold all over the world for a profit. Coca Cola buys vast amounts of Atlanta, GA municipal water and then sells it all over on the open market. Those big bad companies of wall street. If you want a good return on investments, buy stock in Coca Cola. While in Afghanistan, we drank water bottled in country under the coca cola brand!

What I take away from this pipeline protest is; it is  emotion driven, those so called clean renewables are not so clean and emission free, solar panels can be a doubtful choice for regions where the sun is not prevalent and these options are more costly than what we have now.  We are now enjoying low gas prices, comparative to what we have had in recent memory. I wonder if these low prices have anything to do with fracking and the sudden rise in oil and gas production in the USA? I know the Saudis did not lower the price of a barrel of oil out of the kindness of their hearts.

Fortunately for those who oppose the pipeline, we have a solar panel manufacturer close by at the old Fort Devens location, oh wait, they took the Massachusetts tax dollars and went to China where they have little or no regulation and no unions and they will sell them back to us.  Good move by the one party rule where we don't have the gridlock like we have in DC!

So, our strategy is to pay the health care costs of smoking by taxing the hell out of cigarettes, then trying to make them illegal and we will pay for our roads and bridges by a fuel tax while we encourage cutting back on usage of fossil fuels and more electric cars. Never mind our failing electric grid, no public transportation to speak of and no push to create a state wide network either. Yes, we have a great strategy here in the peoples democratic republic of Massachusetts. As long as all our elected folks keep taking the bribes from special interest groups from the NAACP, to AARP to the big bad oil companies and those very bad banks, that is the way it will be so we should deal with it.  We should ask Ms. Warren and Mr. Markey when are they going to fix the tax code and when will they deal with the lobbyist?

Jeff Bennett

Pipeline foes meet in Fitchburg, vow resolve

Pipeline foes meet in Fitchburg, vow resolve
Stop the Pipeline Statewide Summit organizers examine maps created by private citizens using GIS mapping technology showing the 45 towns from Richmond to Dracut that the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline will affect. (LYNNE KLAFT)

FITCHBURG — It was a meeting of the minds of those who will be affected by the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline — landowners, conservationists, legislative and local municipal representatives — more than 400 of them, exchanging information, lending expertise and experience, and forming action groups to oppose the pipeline.

The Stop the Pipeline Statewide Summit was held at the Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical School on Saturday with people from four states attending — New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.

Townsend residents Stephen and Sharon Shea and Cindy Boundy studied the maps of all the towns affected along the pipeline route.

"They will be putting a compressor station right here in Townsend. It's huge! The noise will be like four jet engines; they say they need 25 acres just for the station. And it will be going right through Willard Brook State Park," said Ms. Boundy.

Compressor stations are built to boost pressure in natural gas lines to more efficiently transport the fuel. Plans show compressor stations every 50 or 60 miles, but a study of existing pipelines show the stations every 15 or 16 miles.

Sen. Markey's response to Pipeline Inquiry

Sen. Markey's response to Pipeline Inquiry

November 14, 2014

Dear Julie:

Thank you for contacting me about proposals to export liquefied natural gas (LNG). I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.

Throughout my career in Congress, I have made protecting the environment and preserving America's economic success some of my top priorities. The question of natural gas exports is no exception. The Obama Administration has already approved the export of 4 trillion cubic feet of gas through 6 export terminals. That is nearly equal to all the gas consumed by every home in America.

Low-cost U.S. natural gas is a competitive advantage that is driving a manufacturing renaissance in the United States that has created 700,000 new manufacturing jobs since 2009. Because natural gas prices are not set on a world market, the Department of Energy has estimated that natural gas exports could contribute to a tripling of natural gas prices in the coming decades. Those increased natural gas prices could translate into a $60 billion or more energy tax on American consumers and businesses each year.

Higher U.S. natural gas prices as a result of exports would also have implications for our ability to reduce our carbon pollution. Our emissions of heat trapping gases from the energy sector fell 12 percent from 2005 to 2012. But last year, natural gas prices rose 27 percent and electric utilities increasingly switched from using natural gas to burning coal. As a result, U.S. carbon pollution from the energy sector increased 2 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 levels.

For all of these reasons, I strongly oppose expanded natural gas exports. That is why, on March 6, 2014, I introduced S. 2088, the American Natural Gas Security and Consumer Protection Act. My bill would require the Department of Energy to consider the impacts of any proposed natural gas exports on consumers, our economy and manufacturing sectors, our national security, and our foreign policy in determining whether those exports are in the national interest. I will continue to fight for foreign policy objectives that promote our interest abroad while keeping America strong by ensuring that our natural gas benefits our consumers, economy and security.

Thank you again for contacting me about this issue. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. To sign up for my newsletter, visit You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.



Edward J. Markey
United States Senator

Meetings week of November 17, 2014

Meetings week of November 17, 2014

Tuesday 11/18/14
Water                                   Bridge St             6:00 pm
Light                                    Bridge St             6:30 pm
Capital Plan                         Boynton PL         6:30 pm
Veterans                               Legion                 6:30 pm
Planning                              Scout Hall            6:30 pm

Wednesday 11/19/14
Adv. Board                         Scout Hall            6:30 pm
Hist. Com.                          Boynton PL         7:00 pm

Thursday 11/20/14
CPC                                   Boynton PL         6:00 pm
Sr. Center                          Scout Hall            6:30 pm     

Thursday, November 13, 2014


• Gov. Patrick Plans to Announce $325M in Budget Cuts Next Week
• Municipal and Education Accounts Could be Targeted for Mid-Year Cuts

 $325M State Budget Shortfall Announced – Last week, Gov. Patrick’s Secretary for Administration & Finance announced that the state is facing a $325 million shortfall in its fiscal 2015 budget, and said that the Administration would be unveiling plans to close the budget gap at some point during the week of November 17th.  He said that the plan would not draw from the state’s $1.2 billion stabilization fund, but instead would rely exclusively on mid-year spending cuts.

          The MMA has Called on the Patrick Administration to Avoid any Mid-Year Cuts Targeted at Cities and Towns – In a face-to-face meeting with A&F Secretary Glen Shor and top Administration officials at the November 12 meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission meeting, the MMA and local leaders presented a strong case that cities and towns should not be hit with mid-year cuts, especially since the shortfall is in no way related to local government or the overall performance of the economy, and is primarily due to state spending decisions and the administration of state government.  At this point in the year, cuts in municipal or school funding accounts would be extremely painful at the local level.  However, Administration officials responded that they appreciated the “input,” but did not take local funding off the table.  

Former manager receives Public Power award

Former manager receives Public Power award
Eryn Dion
News Staff Writer

TEMPLETON - Former Templeton Municipal Light and Water Manager Gerald Skelton received the James E. Baker Service Award last week from the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company for lifetime achievement in public power service.

Mr. Skelton helmed the Municipal Light Department for 24 years, taking over the Municipal Water Department as well in 2000 once the two entities merged. He described his time at the plant as “the best years of his life” and fondly remembers working both for the town and the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company.

“I enjoyed those years thoroughly,” Mr. Skelton commented. “I loved my job.”

After his reluctant retirement[?], Mr. Skelton went on to serve as on the Light and Water Commission and as a selectman for several years.

Former Templeton Municipal Light and Water Manager Sean Hamilton presents Gerald Skelton with the James E. Baker Service Award.
 In addition to his work in Templeton, Mr. Skelton sat on the Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company Board of Directors for nine years, with three years dedicated to serving as the board’s chairman.

Brewer receives state conservation award

Brewer receives state conservation award
Former state Sen. Robert W. Wetmore, left, and state Sen.-elect Anne M. Gobi, D-Spencer, flank Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, on Wednesday in Templeton as he receives the Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award. (BRAD MINER) 
By Bradford L. Miner CORRESPONDENT

TEMPLETON — Amid a host of environmental luminaries, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board today presented state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer the Gov. Francis W. Sargent Conservation Award.

The event, at the Otter River Sportsmen's Club on Lord Road, marked the 11th time the award has been bestowed since it was established in 1970 to recognize an individual for contributions in protecting the state's natural resources.

Known during his 35-year legislative tenure for as a strong advocate for the environment and the state's sportsmen and women, Mr. Brewer received a wooden loon decoy carved by Geoff Walker of Newbury.

Educators get annual report card; Worcester results are near state average

Educators get annual report card; Worcester results are near state average

The state released educator performance ratings Thursday, providing a snapshot of where teachers, principals and administrators fell on a spectrum from exemplary to unsatisfactory in Year 2 of the state's revamped evaluation system.

Statewide, 94.6 percent of educators were ranked proficient or higher in 2013-14, up from 92.6 percent the previous year, while 4.8 percent were rated needs improvement, down from 6.8 percent, and .5 percent were rated unsatisfactory, down from .7 percent.

Of the 94.6 percent, 8.1 percent were rated exemplary and 86.5 percent were rated proficient. Tenured teachers were most likely to be rated proficient or exemplary, with 96.5 percent, followed closely by administrators with 96.4 percent and principals with 95.4 percent. Non-tenured teachers were last with 88.8 percent.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winchendon Special Town Meeting Warrant

Winchendon Special Town Meeting Warrant
November 24, 2014

 The Warrant for Winchendon's STM has been posted. This warrant includes an article for special legislation to borrow money from the state for a ten year period.

 Now compare the Special Legislation Templeton was strongly encouraged to vote at the ATM in May:

Mount Wachusett college competition for entrepreneurs

Mount Wachusett college competition for entrepreneurs

GARDNER — Area entrepreneurs are invited to compete in the 2014 Business Plan contest for prizes valued at more than $5,000.

The Mount Wachusett Community College's Center for Entrepreneurship is holding the contest as part of National Entrepreneurship Month in November. The competition gives business and nonprofit innovators the opportunity to submit business plans and vie for cash and in-kind prizes. Five finalists and a single grand-prize winner will be selected.

"Innovation in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors is vital for our communities to remain great places to work and live," said MWCC President Daniel M. Asquino. "Our mission is to help entrepreneurs flourish by spearheading this business plan competition."

Business plans from individual applicants or teams will be accepted through midnight Friday, Dec. 5. Five finalists will be selected and invited to participate at an awards dinner in January: Each finalist will provide a 90-second business plan pitch, followed by a 10-minute presentation to a panel of judges.

For more information about the Business Plan Competition and to submit an application, go to

Criminalization Of Poverty

Criminalization Of Poverty
90-year-old Florida man arrested for second time in a week after feeding the homeless again
Arnold Abbott, the 90-year-old man who heads Love Thy Neighbor Fund, feeds homeless on Fort Lauderdale beach across from Bahia Mar, Wednesday, November 5. 2014, despite the new city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida ordinance forbidding it. Abbott was eventually cited by the Fort Lauderdale Police. (Michael Clary / Sun Sentinel) 
"I think they feel a little guilty doing their job,' said 90-year-old Ft. Lauderdale man Arnold Abbott, who served more than 100 plates to homeless people on Wednesday with members of the charity he founded before he was issued another citation. Abbott potentially faces 60 days in jail or a $500 fine.
BY MARC WEINREICH  NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Friday, November 7, 2014, 11:30 AM 

When 90-year-old Florida resident Arnold Abbott said following his arrest on Sunday that police couldn’t stop him from feeding the homeless, he apparently meant it.

Abbott was charged again on Wednesday night for violating a new city law in Ft. Lauderdale that essentially prevents people from feeding the homeless.

“I expected it" he said in a Sun Sentinel report. “At least this time they let us feed people first.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Winchendon MA: Commonwealth Must Consider Receivership – Not Bailout

Winchendon MA: Commonwealth Must Consider Receivership – Not Bailout

From the  BarreMuckraker

Gov. William F. Weld today proposed legislation that would place this impoverished city of 25,000 people in state receivership, and urged the Legislature to pass the bill within two days.

The measure was introduced against a backdrop of gloom and crisis in Chelsea. Mayor John Brennan said that city employees received paychecks on Wednesday but that there would not be any more if the state did not act. The school system, which laid off more than a quarter of its 300 teachers last month, will not begin classes until next Wednesday at the earliest, five days after the new term was to start.

The crisis deepened Wednesday night when a financial control board of state and city officials rejected a $3.4 million short-term budget for Chelsea, saying that stopgap measures had already been proposed too many times.

The above article appeared in the New York Times back on September 6, 1991.

The same Fate should befall the poor, rural community of Winchendon where a nearly $6M shortfall could force the Worcester County municipality to file bankruptcy  – here in a place where 10% of its population (~10,000 residents) lives below the poverty line.

From the outset this story has been buried with conflicting facts reported by the media all the while the Commonwealth, through its Department of Revenue, Attorney General’s Office and Office of Inspector General, has displayed little leadership in demanding answers and accountability.

According to the most recent news article appearing in today’s Worcester Telegram & Gazette (Winchendon Petitioners Not Allowed to Speak at Meeting on Town Deficit), Town Manager James Kreidler continues to assert the deficit is $3.8M despite the fact DoR claims it’s more like $5.8M (see T&G Winchendon Selectman Quits 10/16/14).  Despite this $2M difference Kreidler, who’s been the town’s chief operating officer since December 2000, has submitted a deficit reduction plan to the state which calls for:

unspecified cuts in municipal services;
$700k Prop  2 1/2 override that would cost taxpayers an additional $232/year (based upon $200k home valuation);
$2.2M bailout from the state which requires legislative approval;
How any reasonable deficit plan can be considered at this juncture given the two disparate figures would seem not only premature but also irresponsible.

How any reasonable deficit plan can be considered at this juncture given the two disparate figures would seem not only premature but also irresponsible.

Monday, November 10, 2014


239 years and counting, Marines continue to serve in whatever task they are given.

Tomorrow, November 11 is Veterans Day, when ALL Veterans (the true one percent) should be honored and remembered. Today however, 10 November, is reserved for the United States Marine Corps. Please take a moment to think about all those who have served and are now serving you in the Marine Corps. and especially those who never returned.

 to all who have served and who are serving now in the United States Marine Corps.

Jeff Bennett

Meetings Week of November 10, 2014

Meetings Week of November 10, 2014

Monday 11/10/14

BOS                            Kiva                          6:30 pm
BOS +TESBC            Kiva                          7:30 pm
E Session

Wednesday 11/12/14
Assessors                  160 Patriots Rd            2 pm
Housing                     Bridge St.                    4 pm
Planning                    Scout Hall                    6:30 pm
Sr. Center                  Scout Hall                    6:30 pm

Thursday 11/13/14
Cemetery                  Scout Hall                   6:30 pm

Friday 11/14/14
COA                        Scout Hall                    6:30 pm

School could be built at MBW Salvage site
Eryn Dion
News Staff Writer

TEMPLETON - After giving all five proposed sites for the future elementary school building a thorough vetting, the Templeton Elementary School Building Committee voted Tuesday night to designate 411 Baldwinville Road — or the former MBW Salvage site — as their proffered site, pending successful negotiations.

These negotiations, which will likely be conducted by interim Town Administrator Bob Markel and members of the committee, would revolve around the $750,000 price tag of the 23 acres of land and the completion of a 21E environmental site test.

A back-roads tour of democracy

A back-roads tour of democracy

In the 40-plus years I have been a voter, I have become more and more convinced that Election Day should be a national holiday.

I admit I am an election junkie and would spend all day hanging out at the polls if I didn't have to cover races.

On Tuesday, I was scheduled to work the night shift. It was a nice morning, so I decided to skip working around the house and went out to look for voting America. I ventured to the polls and voted first and then stopped by Templeton Town Clerk Carol Harris' office. At that point I decided it would be fun to visit all 12 towns in the 2nd Franklin District.

The 2nd Franklin stretches from Templeton to Belchertown and Gill. I know some of the towns, but was curious what the rest were like. It turned out to be an adventure.

In the eastern end of the district, I have known all the clerks for many years, but it is always a pleasure to see Mrs. Harris, Karin Foley in Phillipston, Melanie Mangum in Royalston, Diana Cooley in Petersham, Nancy Burnham in Athol, and Nancy Blackmer in Orange.

It's an easy trek from Templeton to Phillipston, Athol and Orange. Royalston is a bit off the path, so I saved it for last.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Statewide Summit on the Pipeline

11/15 Statewide Summit update!

Posted on October 31, 2014 by Cathy Kristofferson

More than 150 people have already committed to attending the conference including State Senators Eileen Donoghue and Jamie Eldridge and State Representatives Jennifer Benson, Linda Dean Campbell, Stephen DiNatale, Sheila Harrington, Stephen Kulik, and Chris Walsh.

Full Display of Maps of KM Pipeline Route: With the extraordinary work of several individuals, we now have maps of the full route across all 44 towns. These will be posted at the Summit, so residents, legislators, and organizations can see first hand the latest information.

New Short Documentary Video: “You don’t hear much about this….a story about what it means to have a natural gas compressor station as your neighbor”, Stephen Wicks, a well known photographer, filmmaker, and educator will show his latest work on compressor stations at the Summit.

What’s Next ?: This post conference conversation, from 1:30-2:30, will provide interested attendees an opportunity to coalesce around specific interests and network with others.

Green Energy and Environmental Displays: Several green energy and efficiency companies and environmental groups are sponsoring display tables to share their information.

Refreshments: Monty Tech Spanish teacher and 9 of her students will be providing coffee and refreshments for the conference. The proceeds will help to fund their special homestay/service trip to Peru in summer of 2015 –the first in the school’s history!

Get your FREE tickets here:

Stop the Pipeline

Pipeline opponents wise to Kinder Morgan’s divide and conquer tactics

The groans were audible for miles around.  Kinder Morgan had just filed its Northeast Energy Direct (NED) resource report with potential alternate routes listed, and the news was spreading like wildfire.  Never mind that none of these routes are approved – the mere mention of that possibility has sent citizens in both MA and NH into frenzy.
Article 97 Avoidance and Co-located Alternative Routes Figure 10.3-9 
Suddenly MA towns such as Cummington, Chelmsford and Westford are in the line of fire, as are businesses along Rte. 119.  NH hit the double jackpot with a brand new spur option through Brookline plus a possible major pipeline stretching from Winchester to Pelham.  Unfortunate for Western Mass., they draw the short straw no matter what route is selected.

With thousands more residents across MA and NH now affected by one of the potential new routes Kinder Morgan is no doubt sitting back waiting for the NIMBY apocalypse to unfold. They are counting on us to battle each other for the ultimate prize – to keep the pipeline out of our respective towns and off our conservation lands. Meanwhile, Kinder Morgan can bide their time, banking on one greenfield route or another emerging as FERC’s choice.
NH Powerline Alternative Figure 10.3.10  
Fortunately most informed people are wise to these tactics, and know there is only one winner in this game of charades:  Kinder Morgan.  Anything short of defeating the pipeline means we all will pay the price of accelerated climate change, a spoiled environment and, if any gas is exported, the probability of higher – not lower – prices.

Divide and conquer is the oldest strategy in the book. Don’t fall for it.  Strength in numbers is our strongest weapon.  It’s helped us postpone the pipeline tariff and secure the Administration’s commitment to study our energy needs.  And now the Open Houses have been postponed further delaying the process. Let’s work together to add one more “win” to the list – putting an end to this pipeline forever.

Ken Hartlage