Img 9610

Children’s Business Fair Returns

by Ronit Mazumdar 

ACTON: The 6th annual Acton Children’s Business Fair comes to Nara Park on October 7 this year, showcasing the entrepreneurial abilities of kids.  The annual event started up last fall after a hiatus during the pandemic.
 
At last year’s event, approximately 20 businesses and 50 children demonstrated not only their inventive talents but also their business prowess. Participants conceptualized a product or service, crafted a brand, devised a marketing strategy, and then operated their one-day market stall to attract customers. The kids managed everything, from setting up to sales to engaging with customers. Mathnasium brought the event to Acton, with sponsorship from Huntington Learning Center and the support of donors and volunteers. The event was free and accessible to everyone.
 
The upcoming event is part of a nationwide program of Children’s Business Fairs which began in Austin (TX) in 2007 and has expanded to nearly 500 towns and cities. The national organization seeks to help children understand that whether an entrepreneur is famous or whether they are "one of the thousands of unsung business owners across this country, these are the people who make sacrifices to innovate, create jobs and serve their communities”. 
 
The Children's Business Fair offers children aged 6-16 a chance to enhance their own entrepreneurial skills and lay the groundwork for future careers in business. Businesses that showed at last year’s fair were recognized based on various criteria, including "Greatest Business Potential," "Most Creative Idea," and "Most Impressive Presentation." In the past, a few businesses that had won these awards went on to showcase their products at local shops. The youngest participant last year was merely 6 years old. Together, the children amassed nearly $3000 in total revenue. 
 
If you would like to participate in this year’s fair, please contact the organizers at childrensbusinessfair@gmail.com or go to www.childrensbusinessfair.org/acton-ma.
Action seal

Town of Acton to Offer Free Taxi Rides on Nights and Weekends thru Acton Rides Program

ACTON: Town Manager John Mangiaratti is pleased to share that the Town of Acton has partnered with Annex Transit and Rides by Joanne to offer the Acton Rides Program, which allows eligible residents to schedule taxi rides in town.

The Town's Acton Rides Program, which is a temporary, grant-funded pilot program that began on Friday, Sept. 1, allows participants to schedule free taxi rides during hours when the town's existing transportation services are not operating, such as evenings and weekends.

The program is intended to help individuals in need get rides to appointments and various locations across town. Some examples of rides residents may request include going to work, shopping (Target, Walmart, grocery stores, etc.), pharmacies, cultural and community events, farmer's markets, libraries, medical, dental and behavioral health appointments, banks, the post office, to and from the MBTA commuter rail, and children's services (childcare, Early Intervention, etc.).

Rides can be scheduled between 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. Monday-Friday and between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. All rides must begin or end in Acton and are capped at a maximum of 25 miles. At this time, rides will be limited to two rides per day, per eligible rider.

Residents who are eligible to apply include:

- Adults aged 50 and up
- Individuals with limited driving ability due to a disability
- Individuals with a demonstrated financial need
- Active-duty military members or veterans

Children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

The program is provided on a first come, first served basis.Those who are interested can fill out an application. Completed applications can be sent electronically to transportation@actonma.gov, dropped off at or mailed to Town Hall, 472 Main Street, or the Human Services & Senior Center building, 30R Sudbury Road. Those who need assistance with the application or have questions regarding the program should contact the Transportation Office at (978) 929-6611 or email transportation@actonma.gov.
Ph 0072 4 12a north acton schoolhouse

Upcoming Acton History Events

ACTON: Since its beginning, the Acton Historical Society has been documenting the history of education in our town.  Their newest exhibit, "Acton Schools, Past and Present" builds on the memories and research of local historians, teachers, and students (including Florence Merriam) to show how the schools have evolved as the town has grown and changed.  Selections from our extensive collection of items and photographs related to Acton's schools will be on display. The exhibit will premiere September 16 from 1-4pm at the Hosmer House Museum, 300 Main Street in Acton.
 
On September 21 at 7:30pm, noted historian Professor Robert Allison will speak at the Acton Town Hall. His topic will be "From Crown Tension to Tea Parties: The Role of Massachusetts in Shaping the Revolution." This will be the first of a series of lectures presented by the Acton 250 Committee. Dedicated to AHS' former librarian Pat Herdeg, this lecture has been made possible by a generous donation from two Acton Historical Society members.
Pas024 hobai whaleofamistake

Exhibition of Children's Book Illustration in Maynard

MAYNARD: “Picture the Story,” an exhibition of art for and from children’s books, opens October 4 at the 6 Bridges Gallery, 77 Main Street in Maynard. The original artwork featured is from published or soon-to-be published children’s picture books, along with some personal pieces, and the published books will also be on display. The show will include work by Priscilla Alpaugh, illustrator of Space Mice; video game designer and award-winning illustrator Chris Beatrice; Sarah S. Brannen, illustrator of two dozen books including the ALA Sibert Honor book Summertime Sleepers and the multi-award-winning Feathers: Not Just For Flying; and Ioana Hobai, illustrator of A Whale of a Mistake and Lena’s Slippers. 
 
Viewers will also gain insight into how the artists create their work. Displays will give a glimpse into what goes into creating a children’s book, from manuscript to publication. Brannen and Hobai use traditional media, while Alpaugh uses a combination of traditional and digital and Beatrice’s work is exclusively digital. 
 
The exhibit will be on view October 4–November 11. It will also be hosted online at http://6bridges.gallery/6-bridges-gallery-updates The artists will sign books at a reception on October 21, 3–5pm. Children and adults of all ages are welcome. 
 
For more information, please visit https://6bridges.gallery, facebook.com/6BridgesGallery/ and instagram.com6bridgesgallery/?hl=en.

6 Bridges Gallery was established in 2014 by a group of artists to create a retail and display gallery in the heart of downtown Maynard. The ever-changing work in our gallery includes a diverse range of media and artistic styles. All of our artisans are local. Our gallery is owned and operated by our artists, so there is a unique opportunity to meet one or more of them on any given day.
Cookbookclub

Maynard Library Offers Cooking Clubs

MAYNARD: The Maynard Library, 77 Nason Street, hosts two monthly cooking clubs: Cookbook Club, which meets on Monday at noon and Spice Club, which meets Saturday at noon. For both clubs, you'll make a dish and bring it to the library to share with the group followed by a discussion of our experiences. All are welcome.

For Cookbook Club, participants choose and make a recipe from the selected cookbook - preferably one using fresh local produce - including a potluck lunch. Copies of the cookbook are available at the Circulation Desk. Enjoy the food, evaluate the cookbook, and talk about cooking, eating and shopping for ingredients. In the summer and fall, take advantage of all that the Maynard Farmer's Market and local farms have to offer.​ This month's meeting will be held September 18 at noon and the cookbook is "The Savory Baker" by America's Test Kitchen. For more info, visit www.maynardpubliclibrary.org/cookbook-club.

If you're bored with your cooking and want to try some new flavors, Spice Club is for you. Each month you can pick up a sample of a different spice at the library circulation desk and access a link to a variety of recipes featuring that spice. September's spice is sage and the group will meet on September 23 at noon. For more info, visit www.maynardpubliclibrary.org/spice.

The Maynard Farmers' Market runs Saturday, 9am-1pm in the Main Street parking lot at Mill and Main until September 30.
Lwv

LWV/Acton Area Update 

ACTON: It's the start of a new Acton Area year for the League of Women Voters. now that's you're relaxed and recharged from the summer, are you ready to get involved in the coming year's bevy of activities? Here's an overview of what the Acton League has been up to:
 
  • At their Annual Meeting in June, the League celebrated the many accomplishments of 2022-2023, and honored long-time member Marilyn Peterson for her steadfast efforts on and in behalf of the League.
  • The Membership group continued to do tabling outreach at a variety of locations, including the first Acton Pride celebration at NARA, where over 100 visitors to the League's tent voted enthusiastically for their favorite ice cream.
  • In late June, several Acton Area members attended the biennial Massachusetts LWV Convention at Clark University in Worcester for a full day of activity, including the election of the new board of directors, approval of the program and priorities for the next two years, panelists, breakout sessions, and riveting keynote remarks by Harvard professor Danielle Allen.
Even during the slower-paced summer, the League submitted statements supporting proposed state legislation to assure dependable financing for local community-access television stations, which historically have relied on funding from local cable franchise fee revenue that has been shrinking due to the growing popularity of cable alternatives such as streaming services. In addition, some Acton Area members have been meeting to lay the groundwork for a year-long, comprehensive study of annual Town Meeting, including potential improvements and alternatives.
With the Fall months incoming, you can visit the Acton LWV on September 24 from 10am-1pm at the AB Farmers' Market.  Learn more about the League, voting, or just say 'hello!'  Or, if you're interested in lending a hand to help make democracy work, the League holds candidate forums and educational events, participates in studies and works on voter outreach. Whether you have one hour a year or one hour a week, there are ways for you to get involved.
 
For more information, visit www.lwv-actonarea.org.
1694196019955blob

AWC to Visit Cape Ann Museum   

ACTON: On September 28, the Antiques and Museums group of the Acton Woman's Club will visit the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester for its exhibit  Edward Hopper & Cape Ann: Illuminating an American Landscape, after which they will lunch at a restaurant near the ocean.  This major exhibition focuses on Hopper’s early works painted on a number of visits to Cape Ann at the start of his fame. It includes over 60 works and an unprecedented loan from the Whitney Museum of American Art, the major repository of Hopper’s work.

Other Acton Woman's Club Activity Groups include a Book Group [this month Rock, Paper, Scissors], Friday Mah Jong, First Wednesday Bridge and Saturday Wine & Dine. The Club welcomes any woman who lives or works in Acton or one of the surrounding towns. To join the Acton Woman's Club or for an invitation to attend one of its monthly lunches and programs at its lovely Acton Center home, call (978) 263-5275 or email AWC01720@gmail.com to leave a message.

Danny’s Place New Space Reveal & Cornhole Tournament Celebration

Image
WEST ACTON: Danny’s Place is relocating to an expansive new space this fall - the former St. Elizabeth’s Church building - and invites community members to help mark this milestone on September 17. Following a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at 543 Mass Avenue at 11am, visitors will be able to tour the programming rooms and speak with staff in its newly renovated two-floor space. The festivities will continue on the Gardner Field lawn with the first Danny’s Place all-ages cornhole tournament fundraiser, an event that will help support its free and low-cost youth
programming (check-in begins at 12pm, and bags fly at 12:30pm). In addition to cornhole, this fun afternoon will feature a DJ, activities for kids, and food and beverage options available for purchase from local sponsors True West and West Side Creamery.

Join in celebrating this vibrant community, learn more about Danny’s Place programs, and participate in this fun-for-all cornhole tournament (no bag-tossing experience necessary). For more information and to register for the tournament, visit www.dannys-place.org/cornhole.

Maynard Police and Fire Departments Invite Residents to 'Until Help Arrives' FEMA Training

Fema
MAYNARD: Police Chief Michael Noble and Fire Chief Angela Lawless announce that the Maynard Police and Fire Departments will host a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) "Until Help Arrives" training class for community members. Training will be held on September 20 from 6-8:30pm, at the Maynard Fire station, 30 Sudbury Street, and is open to all residents and community members. Training is free and sign up is required.

Until Help Arrives teaches individuals key skills and techniques they can use to bridge the critical minutes between a crisis and the arrival of first responders. The course will cover five objectives: how to effectively communicate with 911 operators, protecting the injured from further harm, how to position the injured, how to stop life-threatening bleeding, and how to provide emotional support.

Community members who are interested in participating should register for training here.

Acton Boxborough Resource Center Powered by Acton Boxborough United Way

Untitled 4
by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: On September 6, a volunteer orientation was held at the newly opened Acton Boxborough Resource Center (ABRC), located in the regional school district’s Administration Building at 15 Charter Road. The space became available when the Carol Huebner Early Childhood Program moved to the new Boardwalk Campus last year. The ABRC was made possible by a partnership between the district and Acton Boxborough United Way (ABUW), and a $100,000 legislative earmark secured by Senator Jamie Eldridge. According to the district’s press release, the center “will connect Acton and Boxborough residents to local resources, striving to advance the district’s core values on wellness, equity, and engagement. The center will emphasize assisting families with language barriers, those joining the community from abroad, and families who would benefit from additional community-based services and supports beyond those offered in the schools.”

ABUW Executive Director Katie Neville, ABUW Board of Directors President Carol Buysse, and ABUW Volunteer Engagement Coordinator Maureen Ryan-Friend, led the tour and orientation for the new volunteers in attendance. The elementary school Registrar’s office has been relocated to the Resource Center so that staff and volunteers can provide assistance to families during the registration process. Current volunteers speak Portuguese, Spanish, Mandarin, Tamil, Hindi, and Ukrainian, and translation technology is available for these and other languages spoken by visitors. Using a Chrome Google Translate extension installed on the center’s laptop, websites for local support organizations like First Connections, Open Table, Household Goods,and others can be switched to the visitor’s native language. Neville reported that a FaceBook page is coming soon.

The Resource Center has backpacks and school supplies available for children, and a clothing closet called the AB Exchange. The closet is outfitted with fixtures from the Gould’s clothing store which closed recently, and features quality, gently-used children’s clothing and accessories in all sizes. There are toys to keep children occupied, and the Friends of Acton Libraries donated books so each child can take a book home to keep. A large conference room, currently being used to sort clothing, will eventually be set up for English Language Testing. This room will also potentially be the site of meetings and workshops offered by community organizations such as Women’s Money Matters and English at Large.

Volunteers are CORI checked (for criminal records) and sign a confidentiality agreement to comply with the federal FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) law. Additional volunteer greeters are needed. Staff are hoping volunteers will be able to work shifts 2-4 times a month. Those who are interested can reach out through the Volunteer Opportunities tab on the Resource Center page of the abuw.org website. Anyone ages 14+ can volunteer, and a student internship will be introduced at a later date to add evening hours for the center.

Buysse emphasized that the Resource Center exists to serve all community  members, not only families with school age children or families new to Acton and Boxborough. Initially proposed to be named the AB Welcome Center, the team who brought the center to life wanted to ensure that all community members know they can access it at any time, even if they’ve lived here for years, even if they have no children or their children have grown. The ABRC provides information on housing, food security, jobs,  transportation, mental health, language learning opportunities, volunteering, town government, social connections, faith organizations, trails and other recreational opportunities, free resources (food, clothing, household goods), civic
engagement, cost-saving programs (legal, housing, childcare, medical, utilities, etc.), and more.

The ABUW staff offices are all being relocated to the Resource Center. The center is currently open Monday - Thursday from 9am-3pm. Staff hope to have a presence at the schools’ fall open houses and back-to-school nights. An Open House for the ABRC is scheduled for September 13 from 1-4pm, with a ribbon cutting at 3:30pm. Senator Eldridge
will be a special guest. Additionally, the center is hosting a Resource Fair in the adjacent Auditorium on October 2 from 4-7pm with food trucks on site.

PHOTO: ABUW Executive Director Katie Neville speaks with new volunteers Danielle Rosa, Luciana Hipolito, Elaine Freitas & Ezili Mayo-Joseph in the Acton Boxborough Resource Center. (Alissa Nicol)
Salamander

Acton's Wetlands Still Protected

by Kim Kastens

ACTON: On August 29, 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) weakened federal protections for wetlands by limiting which lands that are wet  qualify for protection under the Clean Water Act. The EPA's new rules respond to a Supreme Court determination in the case of landowners in Idaho who wanted to fill in a soggy area of their property prior to building a home. The new federal rules require that to qualify as a protected wetland, the connection between the land in question and a "relatively permanent" body of water such as a river must be clearer than was previously required.

In a phone interview, Acton's Conservation Agent, Mike Gendron, responded to questions about how these recent changes at the federal level will impact protection of wetlands here in Acton. "The good news," he began, "is that there will be no change in Acton." This is because the Acton Wetlands Bylaw specifically protects several categories of wetlands that are not protected in the federal law and may soon no longer be completely protected by Massachusetts state law. Gendron reports recent interest from other Massachusetts communities in using Acton's Bylaw as a model for establishing or strengthening their own wetlands bylaw.

The Acton Bylaw, established by Town Meeting vote in 2003, protects "wetlands, vernal pools, adjoining buffer zones, banks, lands subject to flooding and riverfront areas." Acton identifies "wetlands" based on plant species and soil characteristics, and doesn't require a connection to a larger body of water. Vernal pools are an example of a type of isolated, intermittent wetland that would not be protected under the federal definition. Vernal pools dry out for part of each year and thus provide critical breeding habitats, free of predatory fish, for many amphibian and invertebrate species. 

Enforcement of Acton's Wetlands Bylaw as well as the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act is in the hands of the volunteer Conservation Commission, supported by the staff Conservation Agent. If a property owner wants to build or discharge or excavate or dredge or cause any other alteration near a
wetland, the burden of proof is on the property owner to convince the Commission that the proposed activities will not harm the wetland's effectiveness for flood control, erosion control, wildlife habitat, water supply or any of the other "interests" specified in the Bylaw. Before they make their decision, the Commission makes a site walk on the property to examine the wetland and verify its boundaries. So if you happen to notice a small group of Acton residents traipsing through mud and brush, bending over to
examine plants and sample soil, and conferring over the location of small flags, you may have just spotted the Conservation Commission at work.

Drawing by Tom Tidman, former Acton Conservation Agent
Actongruop

East Acton Village Green Commemoration

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: A crowd of about fifty people managed to attend the East Acton Village Green (EAVG) commemoration event on September 9, despite downed trees, closed roads, and power outages around town caused by Friday afternoon’s storm. Select Board Chair Jim Snyder-Grant welcomed those gathered and provided opening remarks, explaining that the pocket park honored three Acton “environmental foremothers”: Carol Holley, Mary Michelman, and Miki Williams. All three women passed away from cancer, but their invaluable contributions to Acton through their environmental stewardship and water protection are being carried on by others today.

Holley was an early member, and Clerk, of ACES (Acton Citizens for Environmental Safety) which subsequently merged with Green Acton. She was also Secretary for Acton’s Board of Health and a board member of the Acton Conservation Trust (ACT). Recognizing her outstanding work for ACT and other environmental organizations, the annual ACT Carol Holley Conservation Volunteer Award was established to honor Acton’s  environmental champions.

Holley’s partner, son, and daughter attended the commemoration. Michelman created and coordinated Acton’s Stream Teams in 1988. With grant funding from the Organization for the Assabet River (OAR) established in 1986 by a group of concerned citizens to help protect the river and its watershed, the Stream Teams conducted the first surveys of the Fort Pond and Nashoba brook systems, collecting data on salinity, turbidity, and other water quality factors, as well as mapping wildlife and vegetation of 25 miles of shoreline and conducting annual cleanups. OAR added the Sudbury and Concord Rivers to its mission in 2011, and is now known as OARS. An Acton stream that flows through the Acton Arboretum and under Minot Avenue is named for Michelman, “Mary’s Brook.” She also designed the “Protect Our Waters” signs, with assistance from retired Natural Resources Director Tom Tidman, which can be seen at stream crossings around Acton, and now all over the state.

Michelman’s husband Tom, now  remarried and living in Arlington, and her daughter, were present, as was Michelman’s brother and his wife, who drove down from Bolton, Vermont for the event. Tom Michelman recounted how Mary spent countless hours pouring over reports from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about the WR Grace pollution and cleanup. During a meeting of the Green Acton Water Committee in June of last year, held at the park, former State Senator Pam Resor recalled that Michelman received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the EPA. She detected efforts to cut corners in the cleanup of the SuperFund site, and dedicated a lot of time to educating the public about what was in those reports. Williams also helped educate the public about the pollution of water at the WR Grace property. She served on the Service Committee of the Acton Area League of Women Voters, and on the School Committee.

Several of the EAVG park panels feature information about the Nashobah Praying Indians. Strong Bear Medicine, of the Natick-Ponkapoag Praying Indians, was present to perform a land blessing ceremony. Beginning with smudging, a rite of burning sacred herbs, around the circle of people, he then invoked the ancestors by placing sacred tobacco on the ground. He shared that “it really is an honor to be here.” He also noted that it is a miracle he is here today, that his ancestors survived Deer Isle, referring to the forced internment of Praying Indians on Deer Isle in the winter of 1675/1676 during King Philip’s War. Using a drum recently presented to him by the Friends of the Nashobah Praying Indians as a welcome home gift, Strong Bear Medicine performed a land entry song. Snyder-Grant mentioned that a great way to learn more about the original inhabitants of the area is to read author Dan Boudillion’s  recently published book, “The History of the Nashobah Praying Indians: Doings, Sufferings, Tragedy and Triumph.”
Project Manager Bettina Abe, recently retired assistant in Acton’s Conservation Department, acknowledged the dozens of people whose efforts and support made  the park a reality. The EAVG Planning Committee created a design for the park almost 20 years ago.  The construction
was put on hold until the section of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail running past Ice House Pond was completed. Town staff submitted an application for Community Preservation Act funding to build the park. It was recommended by the Community Preservation Committee to Town Meeting in 2020, and the appropriation of funds was approved by Town Meeting members.
Additional funding, donations, and work was provided by the Friends of Bruce Freeman Rail Trail; volunteer gardeners and sign installers Linda Schymik and Cathy Fochtman; and Charlie and Jake Abraham, partner and son of Holley. Abe noted that Lynn Horsky designed the
educational panels here, as well as those at Ice House Pond, Morrison Farm, and Trail Through Time, and invited all those in attendance to visit those other Town properties that host these panels to learn more about their histories.

PHOTO: East Acton Village Green Commemoration. (Alissa Nicol)
Actontreecar

Severe Weather in Acton

by John Gianetto and Franny Osman

ACTON: Severe thunderstorms moved through the Acton area Friday afternoon September 8, causing significant damage throughout the area, particularly Acton Center through West Acton, along with sections of Boxborough, Littleton, Stow and Maynard. The Acton police received numerous reports of trees fallen on homes and power lines in the Patriots Hill neighborhood outside Acton Center and in sections of West Acton. Cars were detoured in front of the Woman’s Club building at 502 Main St. and on Concord Road. In Boxborough, sections of  Burroughs  Road  were closed due to trees and lines down.

The Town of Acton kept residents informed through the Town and library websites, through social media, and through its texting and online newsflash or “Civicalerts” service (www.actonma.gov/civicalerts). They reported that as of 9pm Friday, more than 5,100 customers in Acton (or 49 percent) remained without power. More than fifty locations in Acton had power lines affected by falling trees and limbs, and a number of roads remained closed. Twelve houses were impacted by falling trees and limbs. There were no known injuries. The
Boston Globe reported Friday night that the storm had been a microburst, defined by the National Weather Service as “a localized column of sinking air (downdraft) within a thunderstorm…usually less than or equal to 2.5 miles in diameter.”

On Saturday morning, the Town reported that two thousand Eversource customers were without power. On Saturday night there were still more than one thousand without power, and Eversource had sixty crews working in town.

On Sunday, there were still forty Eversource crews in town, and Acton’s Department of Public Works crews were clearing debris from roadways.

The Town announced that the Transfer Station would be open for storm debris disposal only, on Sunday and Monday September 10 and 11. On Saturday, Acton Memorial Library ran on a backup
generator and with limited service, and the Acton Citizen’s Library was open.
On September 10, Acton was affected by another thunderstorm. Traffic was backed up in Kelley’s Corner and West Acton due to flooded roads and closed railroad crossings.

PHOTO: A car crushed by a fallen tree on Pearl St. in West Acton, Friday Sept. 8. (Zeus Kerravala)
Discoverygala 2023 1920x1080 make the connection outlines

Discovery Museum presents
Discovery Gala: Make the Connection

ACTON: Discovery Museum will host its annual 21+ fundraising event, Discovery Gala: Make the Connection, on September 30, 2023, at the Discovery Museum. Supporters are invited to “wear your jeans and bring your curiosity” for a grown-ups only evening of creative cocktails, playful cuisine, and abundant fun. Proceeds will support access programs for families and schools that make the Museum welcoming and accessible to everyone.
 
Nearly 57,000 people were served through the Museum’s access programs in 2022, 28% of the total served. Money raised will fund programs such as free events for families experiencing autism, sensory challenges, or hearing or vision loss, free memberships for families served by our community partners, and in-class Traveling Science Workshop programs to schools in underserved communities.
 
This year’s gala will highlight the Museum’s focus on the future of childhood while serving today’s kids in collaboration with regional community partner organizations. The on-site-solar-powered Gala will have a uniquely low environmental impact, and Discovery Museum will purchase carbon credits to offset the vehicle emissions of all guests, vendors, and staff.
 
The event will run from 6-9pm. The Museum is located at 177 Main Street. Tickets start at $125 per person and are available online at discoveryacton.org/gala.
Chestnuts

Water Chestnut Pull at Ice House Pond

ACTON: Have you visited Ice House Pond in the Town of Acton recently? Did you notice the large growing patch of green leaves surrounding the pond? Those are the notorious aquatic invaders known as Water Chestnut (Trapa natans) and each nut can produce 10-15 plants with each plant producing up to 20 seeds! This invasive species is spreading rapidly in Ice House Pond and threatening native species and recreational users!

The Water Chestnut nightmare has begun for Ice House Pond but it is not too late to defend from these invaders! Acton Conservation is partnering with OARS to coordinate a Water Chestnut pull on September 23 from 9am–12pm. Help fight back against this invasive species and take back Ice House Pond! If you are interested in volunteering, we are looking for Ice House Pond defenders ages 14+! There will be some boats available for use, as well as life vests generously provided by Paddle Boston! If you have your own kayak or canoe, you are encouraged to bring it! (And a life vest!)

Help is needed both in the water and on land! If you are passionate about your local environment and want to make a difference, this opportunity is for you! If you are a high school student and interested in earning your community service hours through action-driven conservation this is for you! Please sign up by visiting the link: www.signupgenius.com/go/10c084eaaab2faafcc16-2023#/.

Please bring:
 
  • Water (Stay hydrated!)
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunblock
  • Hat
  • Work gloves
  • Water shoes/old shoes
  • Old clothes (they will be permanently dirty!)

All Volunteers will be required to fill out a wavier! This link provides access to the waver: https://acton-ma.gov/forms.aspx?fid=93. Waivers will also be available on site! If you have any questions please email ibergemann@actonma.gov or call Acton Conservation at (978) 929-6634.
Asianmusic

Asian Music Concert at NARA Park

Review by Kaiping Fu

ACTON: On a rainbow-kissed Saturday evening after a summer rain, June 24, the Town of Acton hosted a splendid Asian  music concert at NARA Park, part of the Town’s summer concert series. Asian families from the community and other residents, including children and grandparents, gathered on the grassy grounds to savor an outdoor, high-quality musical event. The scene was adorned with delicious food and balloons for the children to play with.

The program was a dazzling array of performances, featuring the following highlights:
Seven girls from Angel Dance School danced on stage like seven white lotuses in bloom. The dance "Blessings of the Grassland" primarily featured Mongolian dance, while also incorporating elements of modern dance and ballet. The choreography alternated between classical elegance and exuberant boldness, captivating the live audience and immersing them in the performance.

Musicians put an ancient Chinese poem to music with the traditional Chinese instrument, the pipa, which has a history of over 2000 years in China, and flute and violin.  The melodic tones resonated with the poem from the Song Dynasty, over a thousand years ago, capturing its gentle and flowing essence. Young children recited the poem, completing the mesmerizing presentation.

The Japanese band Microjam, composed of musicians David Fiuczynski, Hidemi Akaiwa, Anderson Mirafzali, Noah Benson, and Jonathon Birch from the United States, Canada, and Japan, delivered a distinctive performance. Microjam's original compositions blend traditional Zen melodies from Japan with jazz music, creating a fascinating musical experience. The three songs they played ignited the atmosphere, prompting the crowd to dance along with the music.

The Town of Acton received financial and organizing help from the Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council, local small businesses, the Acton Chinese American Civil Society, and other volunteers. 
Oip

Select Board Discusses West Acton Citizens Library

by Tom Beals

ACTON: Governance issues concerning the West Acton Citizens Library (WACL) were discussed at length at the August 21, 2023 Acton Select Board Meeting. WACL governance had been considered at earlier Select Board meetings and at the May 1, 2023 Town Meeting, where Warrant Article 11 (“Amend General Bylaws – Board of Trustees of the West Acton Citizens’ Library”) was postponed indefinitely after lengthy debate.

Select Board member Alissa Nicol, the Select Board liaison to the Trustees of the WACL and to the Trustees of the Acton Memorial Library, shared with the Board an extensive listing of WACL roles, duties and activities. The roles of the town, and of each library’s trustees, were considered. Founding documents and town records from 1962 and earlier were cited. Ms. Nicol described various governance policies at comparable neighboring libraries. A document from an independent legal counsel was mentioned, and described as possibly being incorrect on several points.

No motions or votes concerning the library were made by the Board. Select Board member David Martin noted in conclusion that the evening’s deliberations were the first comprehensive examination of governance issues relating to the library, as earlier Select Board considerations dealt with specific issues such as Trustee roles. Select Board Chair Jim Snyder-Grant noted that the WACL is open and serving the public, despite the contention at higher levels.

Other agenda items included the Select Board preview of the Acton 250 logo; a climate action plan update by Sustainability Director Andrea Becerra and two summer sustainability fellows; and noting the return to the area of descendants of the Nashoba Praying Indians.
Preschoolers and teacher 1024x672

First Connections Offers Fall Play Groups

ACTON: First Connections has two free playgroups with openings for Fall. Groups are open to residents of Acton, Bedford, Boxboro, Carlisle, Concord, Harvard, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Sudbury and Westford. Our Fall session will run from the week of September 11 to the week of December 11. Our playgroups are funded by a grant from the Mass. Dept of Early Education and Care and led by our Early Childhood Teacher. Caregivers and children attend the groups together.

Me, You, We Playgroup for Ages 3-5 is based on a Boston Children's Museum curriculum where children practice social-emotional skills such as taking turns, using words to negotiate conflict, and labeling feelings. Families receive at-home learning materials. Younger siblings welcome. Meets outdoors (weather permitting) at Boxborough Library. Thursdays, 10:30-11:30am.
 
Language & Literacy Playgroup for Multilingual Families for Ages 1 1/2-5 is for families who speak a language other than or in addition to English as part of their daily life. This group will help foster a love of books in your child and share tips for how to make the most of your shared reading at home. In addition to free play, there will be circle time and activities related to each week's story. Infant siblings in carriers welcome. Held at First Connections in Acton. Wednesdays, 10-11am.

If you are interested in either of these groups, email Linda to register: lmatthews@jri.org.
Acc

Acton Community Chorus Invites New Members

ACTONJoin the growing Acton Community Chorus for their 40th season! The first two rehearsals, starting on September 11, are open to all, no auditions required. Music selections for their winter concert will explore the role singing plays in our lives, celebrating where they've been as a chorus and looking to the future. The central piece on the program, Songs My Heart Has Taught Me, is a Bob Chilcott's 2021 movement, exploring themes of inclusivity, identity, and unity.  Through David Dickau's arrangement, embrace the famous Shakespeare poem from Twelfth Night, “If Music Be the Food of Love,” and "Sing On"! The winter concert will be held in January 2024 with a spring concert to follow in May/June. Join a friendly group of people who are doing what they love- blending the voices of our communities. They meet 7:30-9:15pm each Monday night at the Faith Evangelical Free Church, 54 Hosmer Street. For more details go to www.ActonCommunityChorus.org.
Home1 600x280

Congregation Beth Elohim Religious School Registration Open

ACTONCongregation Beth Elohim, in Acton has opened registration for our religious school which begins September 10, 2023. Congregation Beth Elohim offers an exciting learning environment for students in kindergarten thru 10th grade. Students connect with other Jewish children in Acton and surrounding communities while learning about Jewish holidays, Torah, and Hebrew with knowledgeable, caring teachers.

All grades meet Sundays throughout the school year; our 3rd-6th grade students meet an additional day during the week after school (4:15-6:15pm with an option for before school programming starting at 3:15) to learn Hebrew and Jewish values through fun electives like board game making, stop motion animation, art, making a musical and more! 
In addition, this year there will be a monthly class for 2-year-olds thru Pre-K with their grown-ups on Sundays from 10-11:30am.

School begins September 10. To see details, including registration, visit www.bethelohim.org/religious-school1.html.  For questions, please email Beth Goldstein at bethg@bethelohim.org.
Shadow puppets 13

Indonesian Puppetry at the Acton Woman's Club

ACTON: On September 13, the Acton Woman's Club starts its season off with new President Paula Walsh at the helm and Indonesian Puppets as its program treat. At 11:30am, members will enjoy a light luncheon at the 1870 Acton Center Clubhouse, followed by a short business meeting. At 1pm, special guest Ron Beck will display and discuss  handmade marionette style puppets from Indonesia.  Ron has assembled one of the largest collections of Wayang in America outside of a museum.  Some of his puppets are 150 years old. Ron will tell the history of Wayang and its main story types, based on several cultures.  The work of a master puppeteer whom Ron visited at his workshop may be seen a www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9b1hGS5iEY.

Besides its monthly meetings and programs, Club activities include a Book Group, a Museum and Antiquities group, a Mahjongg group, a Bridge Group and a Wine and Dine group. The Book group will meet on September 11th at 10:30 at the Clubhouse to discuss Rock, Paper, Scissors by Alice Feeney.  The AWC's famous Pie Sale is scheduled for October 14.

To inquire about membership in the Acton Woman's Club, leave a message on the house voicemail (978) 263-5275 or email AWC01720@gmail.com.  New members are welcome.  More information about the Club may be found at theactonwomansclub.org.
65 650939 transparent handicap clipart clip art kids group wheelchair

Acton Commission on Disability Hosts Picnic at Nara Park

ACTON: The Acton Commission on Disabilities will be hosting a picnic on September 10, 11am-2pm, rain or shine, at Nara Park. Everyone with any type of disability and their friends, family members, and carers are welcome to come. There will be free food and entertainment, including fun activities for kids. There will be wheelchair van transportation for those who can't get themselves there. Celebrating the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and just have a really good time. The picnic will be close to the entrance to Nara Park, where the snack bar is. There's a roofed area with plenty of picnic tables, so we can hold the picnic even if it rains. Nara Park is at 25 Ledge Rock Way.

If you're planning on going, Please RSVP to Leslie Johnson, at lesliej961@yahoo.com or (978) 618-1812 to say how many people will be in your party.
Awc dance class

A few Spots Remain for Fall Dance Lessons!

ACTON: There is still time for a few more pre-teens to register for Fall Ballroom Dance at the Acton Woman's Club. Lessons for grades 4-8 start September 8.  New instructor, Carole Ann Baer danced with the world champion BYU Ballroom Dance Team while in college. She continued teaching ballroom dance at both the Fred Astaire and Arthur Murray dance studios in Salt Lake City, Boston and Worcester. She has been a dance instructor at Brandeis University for over 25 years. Her love of dance and love of people show in her classes.  All youngsters are welcome and made to feel comfortable. For more info and sign up:  https://theactonwomansclub.org/dance.
Options for great road sewers

Options for Great Road Sewers Discussed

by Kim Kastens

ACTONAt their August 16, 2023 meeting, Acton’s Water Resources Advisory Committee (WRAC) discussed and critiqued the July 2023 draft of the Great Road Wastewater Solutions report.  The report was commissioned by the town and prepared by environmental engineering firm Wright-Pierce for the purpose of providing "a technical basis upon which to make wastewater and water resource management decisions necessary for the expansion of the Town’s wastewater and water infrastructure for the future development and redevelopment of the Great Road Corridor." The scope of the study spans Great Road (Rt 2A) from the Concord town line to Rt 27. 

The report begins by estimating the amount of wastewater that is produced by the parcels along this corridor, plus the amount of additional wastewater that could be produced if some undeveloped parcels were developed and other parcels shifted to more water-intensive uses.  The report then explores two main options for handling the anticipated volume of wastewater: (1) connecting to the town's existing sewer network for treatment by the Middle Fort Pond Brook Wastewater Treatment plant (MFPB WWTP) in South Acton and (2) creating a new, decentralized wastewater treatment plant specifically to handle wastewater from the Great Road corridor. 

There are two potential routes for connecting to the existing sewer network (see map).  The eastern potential route (estimated cost, $46 million) goes along Wetherbee Street, School Street, and Parker Street. The western potential route (estimated cost, $53 million) travels along Brook Street and then along Rt 27.  These costs do not include upgrading the MFPB WWTF or providing additional effluent disposal capacity.

Six potential sites were initially identified for a decentralized treatment plant and associated infiltration beds,  Of these, the only areas with enough acreage of suitable soil were Morrison Farm on Concord Road, an area along Wetherbee Street, and an area within the WR Grace Superfund Site.   

The WRAC meeting opened with public comments.  The public comments were all in opposition to the use of Morrison Farm or the Wetherbee Road area for waste water disposal.  Individuals associated with the Acton Conservation Trust and the town Land Steward Committee praised the value of these open spaces for wildlife habitat, organic gardening, and conservation. 

Following public comments, the five WRAC members raised a wide range of additional issues, spanning hydrology, technology, and cost/benefit.  They raised the possibility that waste water disposal on the W.R.Grace site could alter the groundwater flow in a way that might interfere with the Superfund remediation process. They noted that the western route down to the existing sewer network would likely require many of the parcels along the way to install grinder pumps rather than gravity feed sewer lines, and such systems are expensive and prone to failure.  They questioned the economic benefits relative to the magnitude of the investment and asked for further documentation of the actual or expressed need for sewering from existing or potential property owners along the corridor. 

WRAC is scheduled to finalize their written comments on the Great Road Wastewater Solutions report at their meeting of August 22.  After that, the report is expected to come before the Sewer Commission, which, in Acton, is the Select Board. Watch the Select Board meeting notices for your next chance to offer public comment on this report. 
 

Concord Select Board Votes to Terminate Participation with Acton for a Regional Emergency Communications Center

By Tom Beals

ACTON: The Concord Select Board voted unanimously to terminate the May 2021 Regional Emergency Communications Center (RECC) district agreement with Acton at their August 7, 2023 meeting. Discussion at the Concord Select Board meeting recognized that personnel changes in Concord since the 2021 agreement have resulted in a changed consensus regarding the RECC. Concord Select Board representatives discussed their reactions to the July 24, 2023 Acton Select Board discussion of the RECC, and Concord's police and fire chiefs presented their views on the issue. The discussion closed with unanimous agreement by the Board on the following motion: "Move that the Board, having determined that participation in the Acton-Concord regional emergency communications center is no longer in the best interests of the town; the town Manager is directed to take all necessary actions in consultation with Town Counsel to terminate the regional 911 emergency communications district agreement with the town of Acton dated May 27, 2021."
Bikes

Bikes Ready for Rental on the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail

By Franny Osman

ACTON:
Acton’s Planning and Sustainability departments hosted a launch of the new Bike Share Program last Friday, August 11, at the East Acton Village Green, a small park abutting the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail on Concord Rd.
 
The program is a partnership of Acton and Concord, with two stations in Acton—at Brook St. and Great Rd., and at Concord Ave. and Great Rd.—and two in Concord—in West Concord and in Concord Center near the Visitor Center.
 
A stream of visitors looked over the pre-owned bikes that had been purchased for the program with $5000 startup funds. The funds were associated with the Sustainability Policy voted in at Town Meeting in 2020, according to Sustainability Director Andrea Becerra. Staff had ridden the bikes over from the Concord Department of Public Works last week. Riders rent the bikes for $2 per hour through a phone app called Koloni.
 
Bike issues such as a malfunction of the lock’s battery, a rider going out of range, or a bike abandoned elsewhere–not at a station–result in an email alert to Town staff for repair or bike retrieval.
 
Refreshments were provided by the Town of Acton and by Frolic and Detour of Nagog Park, who created sandwiches of smoked salmon on slices of crisp potato.
 
Assistant Planners Nora Masler and Kaila Sauer, Sustainability Director Andrea Becerra, Land Stewardship Coordinator Ian Bergmann, and Sustainability Fellow Hannah Arledge all attended the event.  Members of the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, including Judy Perrin and Barbara Pike, also joined.  Select Board members David Martin and Alissa Nicol were present, and Martin gave remarks on behalf of the Board. He thanked the public for attending, and the staff for bringing the bike share program to the community. He said the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail connects Acton to Lowell and now to Sudbury, and will eventually end in Framingham.
 
The bikes rented through the Bike Share are standard two-wheelers. Trikes and other adaptive bikes can be rented through the Recreation Department at NARA Park.
 
Select Board member David Martin uses the QR code technology to sign up for the Bike Share.

Photo credit: Alissa Nicol.
Nara

Plant-based Potluck Dinner at NARA

By Jude Aronstein

ACTON: On August 9, under the large pavilion at NARA park on a lovely cool evening, over 40 people gathered for a free potluck dinner to celebrate plant-based meals. The event, hosted by Energize Acton (a collaboration between Town and Acton Climate Coalition), Acton Memorial Library, and the Acton Sustainability Office, was the latest of the summer’s Climate Cafes, most of which were conducted at Acton Memorial Library. Climate Cafes’ focus is on energy savings and the climate. Topics have included solar panels, electric vehicles, heating and cooling with heat pumps, and incentives from the State and Federal government to help businesses and residents make choices towards a healthier climate and environment. 

Karen Root-Watkins, the event organizer, welcomed everyone and folks quickly began to peruse the two tables filled with over two dozen homemade plant-based dishes, including rice, quinoa, sweet potato quesadillas, chickpeas, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon salad, zucchini, eggplant, lentils, kale, and beets. The event promotion made it clear that they were not saying that people should give up all meat; rather, they were saying that vegetable dishes are delicious and also good for the environment.

A number of people walking by joined in the festive event. One person in attendance was overheard saying, “We should do this every week”. 

At the potluck there were additional presentations by residents. Adam Parker cooked a delicious quick tempeh dish on an environmentally safer portable induction cooktop. (Induction cook kits are available to borrow from the Acton Memorial Library.) Ram Prakash conducted a presentation of composting and of an anaerobic process he developed which involves bio enzymes. 

The Boston Area Gleaners had an information table explaining their work growing and distributing food at the former Stonefield Farm in South Acton. Gleaners harvest and pack food donated from local farms for communities across the region. Through their distribution program, they deliver fresh food to a network of local food pantries, food banks, and meal programs, and provide trucking support to partner non-profits and farms in need of resources. 

Visit EnergizeActon.org to learn more about future events and explore resources to help you with your carbon saving future.
Dpw

Trek to the Transfer Station

By Alissa Nicol

ACTON: Five families braved the rain to attend Acton’s Transfer Station Field Trip on August 7, organized by the Acton Memorial Library (AML), Department of Public Works (DPW), and the Sustainability Office. Robert Carter, AML Children’s Librarian, and Sustainability Office Fellows Lauren West and Hannah Arledge joined DPW staff for the program.
 
Corey York, DPW Director, welcomed the small crowd of about 16, noting that they were standing on the site of Acton’s former landfill located on Route 2. York pointed to the tree line around the perimeter of the Transfer Station as the boundary of the landfill that was capped in the mid 1980s. He also noted that the solar array installed on top of a portion of the capped landfill, combined with the panels on the roof of the Public Works Facility on Forest Road, produces close to all the energy required for every municipal building in town, exclusive of the school buildings. Annual groundwater monitoring for pollutants is done by a consultant, and results are shared with the MA Department of Environmental Protection (MA DEP) as required for all capped landfills in the Commonwealth. Methane gas monitoring also takes place.

DPW staff Joe Borey and Kevin Beaudoin explained, along with York, the operations of the recycling and trash services. The facility’s main aim is to operate as sustainably as possible. The costs of recycling, and the items accepted, vary a great deal over time. Recycling is very much a market-driven endeavor. York explained that, “Years ago, we made money on cardboard.” The fact that the cost of shipping has gone up three to four times post-Covid, and shipping duration has also increased, further complicates the process.

Working with Green Acton, a non-profit environmental advocacy organization, the Town implemented the PAYT (Pay As You Throw ) program in 2015, and since then has seen the volume of trash cut in half as users are incentivized to recycle or compost more of their household waste. The main containers at the Recycling Center are for co-mingled recyclables: glass jars and bottles, aluminum cans and plastic bottles together, and paper and cardboard together. With the initial separation done by residents, the product is more valuable, allowing the facility to accept more recyclables. Residents can find detailed information on what to recycle and how to prepare the materials, on the Transfer Station website and on large signs located around the site.

There are several other drop-off areas for other recyclable materials. Staff have found a vendor who will repurpose rigid plastic such as storage bins and large toys. There is a lightbulb collection area, and the cost of bulb recycling is covered by the revenue generated. Mattresses (residents pay a small additional fee) are picked up and delivered to a warehouse in Lawrence, although the company is based in Lowell. The mattresses are stripped down to the raw materials by young adults, who benefit from this work by learning a trade. Appliances such as refrigerators and air-conditioners, also dropped off for a small fee, are repurposed following the removal of the freon in the units. On the day of the field trip, a truck on-site was engaged in that task. Electronics are also accepted - TVs, computer monitors, mice, keyboards, scanners/printers, phones, cordless phones, tablets, VCRs, and more. A fully verified recycling company based in New Hampshire picks up the items in an eighteen-wheeler truck. The electronics are stripped down to the components, including metal and wires, for resale. The Cell Phones for Soldiers program, carried out by Acton’s Veteran Services Office, is a way to recycle cell phones that are reprogrammed for military personnel use.

Through most of the year, the DPW hosts a monthly event for styrofoam collection. Although it is difficult to find an end product for styrofoam, the hard packing styrofoam that “snaps” is able to be repurposed. Staff estimate that at these events, a forty cubic yard container is filled in 3 hours. The next scheduled event is this Saturday, August 19; a Transfer Station sticker is required for participation. According to staff, the most valuable commodity is metal scrap, previously sold at a high point of $240/ ton, then the price plummeted to $40/ton, but the metal is now fetching $180/ton.

Other large areas of the facility are set aside for yard waste (leaves and grass) and brush. These organic materials are turned into compost at the stockyard near NARA park, a three-year process. When the composting process is complete, this nutrient-rich soil conditioner is available for residents (with a sticker) to haul away in bins, buckets and barrels.

A highlight of the Transfer Station is the Swap Shop, open seasonally and staffed by volunteers. Residents can leave and take clean and usable household items such as dishes, lamps, picture frames, holiday decor, small working appliances, toys, games, lawn chairs, office supplies, infant equipment, sports equipment, and luggage.

Typically, food waste is the heaviest component of household trash. Keeping it out of the trash is the best way to keep the Town’s costs for waste disposal down. Black Earth Compost company uses a high-temperature, commercial process. They pick up residents’ food waste from large barrels lined up in front of the trash bay windows. The company also provides private pick up for those who use curbside haulers. The Transfer Station is generating enough revenue from its recycling program to offset the cost of the food waste program. York noted that “MA DEP is pushing for food waste elimination,” so it is possible that including food waste in residential or commercial trash will be prohibited in the future. 

What cannot be composted or recycled, including styrofoam used in food packaging, and alkaline batteries, is trucked to a facility in North Andover to be incinerated, where the resulting ash is put in a landfill there. Like the Acton landfill of old, the North Andover site is running out of space for the ash. Rechargeable and lithium batteries are collected in a bucket by the office near the entrance, bagged, and shipped out for recycling.

Following the informational program, DPW staff led the small crowd down the hill where a container transport and dump truck were parked. Children and adults alike were delighted to have a chance to climb up into the cabs of these giant vehicles.

The DPW is currently working with the Sustainability Office to explore the feasibility of curbside hauling. Until then, the Transfer Station, with its low price-point PAYT program for trash, and a myriad of recycling options, is the best price in town. One of the most beneficial things residents can do to ensure the trip to the Transfer Station goes smoothly for themselves, other users, and staff, is to organize and separate their household waste ahead of time, and pay close attention to the posted signs with instructions for what goes where.
Logo

Joining the Conversation
Introducing the Language and Culture of the U.S.

By Nancy Hunton

ACTON: Each week people from literally all over the world meet in the Acton library to practice speaking and listening to English in a “conversation group.” This small, supportive group gives newcomers to the United States a chance to become more fluent in English and learn about American culture. Led by a trained volunteer, the group discusses such topics as holiday celebrations, activities in the area, and travel. They also talk about everyday activities like shopping for food and clothing, speaking to a teacher or doctor, and making new friends.
 Conversation groups are free and range in size from 8 to 12 adult learners. Participants meet in person weekly for an hour and a half at local libraries or community centers. (There is no online option.) The nonprofit English At Large (EAL), based in Woburn, sponsors these conversation groups in Acton and 23 other Boston-area communities. 
“Adults who speak English at an intermediate or advanced level are welcome to join,” says Sarah Unninayer, conversation group coordinator at English At Large. “You should be able to have a conversation in English but may need to improve vocabulary, grammar, or pronunciation.” But, she points out, the group is not a standard class.

Coming to America
 Reflecting the diversity of immigrants in Massachusetts, past group participants have come from many countries, including China, Russia, Venezuela, Taiwan, Turkey, Korea, Mexico, and Morocco. They have left their homelands for a variety of reasons, such as to seek employment opportunities, escape economic or political turmoil, or join family already settled in the U.S.
Group participant Christina Park’s journey to America did not take a direct route. Originally from South Korea, she came to the US via Sweden. In 2019, her family moved to Stockholm for her husband’s job. Christina was excited for the opportunity to live in the far north and learn Swedish. 
But she soon found herself studying another language. “After three years in Sweden, my husband received a job offer in Massachusetts,” Christina says. “We arrived in July 2022, and I felt like a goldfish out of water. It was so hot!”
Christina had studied English in school in South Korea but lost some of her ability in that language when she focused on Swedish. At home, she only speaks Korean with her husband and two teenage boys, so the conversation group allows her to polish her rusty English skills. 
A lover of languages, Christina helped children learn English while she lived in Korea. And in Sweden, she helped children adopted from Korea learn Korean. Now she is concentrating on English again.
“The group gives me confidence in speaking English,” Christina says, adding “Every time I go to group, I learn about geography, travel, food, and places to visit with my family during the weekend.”
This summer, Christina took part in an English At Large book group, which read The Alchemist, and volunteered as a teacher at the vacation Bible school at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Acton.
Irene Oyarzabal joined the conversation group after leaving politically and economically troubled Venezuela two-and-a half years ago. Her daughter had already paved the way here and was living in Concord. Now, more family is nearby; her sister and the daughter of her son, who still lives in Venezuela, arrived in Concord four months ago.
“Each day I learn more about American life,” says Irene. “And I’m grateful for all I have received here. People have been kind.”
Since hearing about the conversation group from her daughter, she has attended several sessions, the first one online during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Conversation group is very useful,” she says. “It gives me the opportunity to talk with the teacher and others. I’ve made friends with people in the group.”
Rosy Flores and her family came to the US to avoid the threat of danger from drug cartels in Mexico. Previously, they lived in McAllen, Texas, while her husband worked  just over the border in an area in Mexico that had become unsafe due to cartel fighting.
Fortunately, her husband was able to get a new engineering job In Massachusetts. And  the family moved to Acton, because it was “a good investment, with good schools,” says Rosy. 
At home, Rosy speaks her native Spanish, but her three children—ages 15, 13, and 10—also speak English. She took some English classes in public middle school in Mexico and understands the language more than she can speak it.
In addition to raising her family, Rosy does rental property accounting for her father’s business in Mexico and belongs to a local Hispanic social group of Columbians, Venezuelans,  and other Spanish-speaking people. 
“The English conversation group gives me an opportunity to speak English,” she says. She adds that she likes going to the grocery store and other places in the community and seeing people she knows from the group. 

Joining the Conversation
English At Large offers conversation groups in the fall, spring, and summer. The fall semester will last from September 25 through the week of December 11 (12 weeks). Registration is required. Sign-up will start September 5, but people can express an interest now by going to  www.englishatlarge.org/conversation-groups.
Learners in Acton are also eligible for EAL’s one-to-one tutoring program, career readiness program, beginner English class, and summer book group. In addition, EAL is looking for volunteers to lead conversation groups and other programs in the area.
For more information, go to:
Learners: www.englishatlarge.org/programs
Volunteers:  www.englishatlarge.org/volunteer-opportunities

Acton’s Countdown to Patriots’ Day April 19th , 2025

Acton 250 screened
ACTON: With attention to and interest in the nation’s 250th birthday building toward July 4, 2026, Acton has the opportunity to renew an understanding of its unique role in the first events of the American Revolution. The brave actions of Actonians on April 19th , 1775 gave rise to local pride over generations. Acton can now share not only its traditional stories but also those of other Actonians including women, children, Blacks, and Native Americans who also played significant roles.

The Acton Select Board established the Acton 250 Committee with a carefully crafted charter emphasizing outreach and inclusivity in planning for celebrations and in providing as much historical context as possible. The sitting members represent Acton organizations with the ability to provide background knowledge and logistical support. As awareness of and interest in Patriots’ Day 2025 grows, there will be opportunities for many more residents to become involved.

In the spirit of increasing public participation, a contest was held last spring to design an Acton logo that would be recognizable and representative of the spirit of April 19th, 1775 within a modern context. Entrants were required to include “Acton”, “250”, and “Revolution” and were free to use any imagery. From over forty submissions elements from Kathleen Peddie Pagano and Sue Peterman were merged. Going forward, all Acton 250 publicity will include the logo.

In order that all residents will be able to fully appreciate the uniqueness of Acton’s role and the more recent interpretations of the context in which it transpired, articles will appear regularly here in The Action Unlimited. The intent is to provide background in anticipation of local scheduled events. Acton was a very different place demographically, physically and socially in 1773. Upcoming articles will focus on this context before historian Robert Allison’s kickoff presentation on September 21st.

A wide variety of events will follow sequenced to 1773-1776. The celebration’s duration will allow for meaningful attention to and participation by the Acton Memorial Library which displays artifacts from the era. Also open to the public will be the Hosmer House, the Faulkner House and Jones Tavern. Do plan on becoming involved in Acton 250, the local celebration of the beginning of the American Revolution.

Green Meadow Elementary School Building Committee Community Forum & Senior Presentation

Large 590b0121 c11c 48ee 8e6d 5a375a678fb6
MAYNARD: Since January 2022, The Green Meadow Elementary School Building Committee has been researching various options to address the current and future educational/facility needs of Maynard’s elementary school. This research has included much feedback from community members during previous Educational Visioning Group Workshops, Community Forums and many different meetings made up of different integral groups.  All of this work has been done in collaboration with and at the direction of the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA), who will be reimbursing the town of Maynard for part of the project.
 
In an effort to educate Maynard residents about the process to date and final decision in preparation for votes this October/November, the Committee will be hosting a Community Forum on August 26, 2023 from 10am-12pm at the Green Meadow Elementary School, 5 Tiger Drive.
 
The Forum will begin with a brief presentation (15-20 minutes) followed by a Question/Answer period and then tours of the current Green Meadow Elementary School.
 
The public is strongly encouraged to attend this very informative Forum and tour of the Green Meadow Elementary School on August 26 from 10am-12pm.
 
Additionally, members of the Green Meadow Elementary School Building Committee will be doing a similar presentation, along with a Q/A period, for Maynard Seniors on August 18, 11am at the Maynard Senior Center, 50 Brown Street, Maynard.  All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
Safetyonthewater featured large dee

Water Safety Reminders

According to the American Red Cross, 10 people die each day from unintentional drowning, and on average two of those deaths are children under age 14. Additionally, drowning is the leading cause of death for children and adults with autism spectrum disorder. To ensure everyone’s safety in the water this summer, the Hudson Fire Department would like to remind residents of the following safety tips for kayakers, paddlers and recreational boaters courtesy of the American Canoe Association:
 
  • Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when boating or fishing, even if you don’t intend to enter the water.
  • Children under the age of 12 must always wear a life jacket in a public body of water.
  • Be a competent swimmer with the ability to handle oneself underwater, moving water, surf or current. Keep the craft under control. Do not enter a rapid unless you are reasonably sure you can navigate it or swim the entire rapid in case you capsize.
  • Keep a lookout for hazards and avoid them. Watch for fog, especially on coastal waters.
  • Know your physical limitations.
  • Group members need to constantly assess the behavior of others in their group.

For those swimming in the ocean, lakes, ponds or pools, the Hudson Fire Department also provides the following safety tips from the American Red Cross:
 
  • Never leave children unattended while they are near or in a body of water, and make sure they have an adult to accompany them into the water. Young or inexperienced swimmers should always wear a life jacket or inflatable arm floats.
  • Never swim alone; swim with lifeguards and/or water watchers present. Even if lifeguards are present, you (or another responsible adult) should stay with your children.
  • If a child is missing, always check the body of water that they were near or swimming in first.
  • Understand and adjust for the unique risks of the water environment you are in, such as river currents, ocean rip current, underwater hazards including vegetation and animals, and more.
  • Don’t use alcohol or drugs (including certain prescription medications) before or during swimming or diving, or while supervising swimmers.
  • Recognize the signs of someone in trouble and shout for help. A swimmer needs immediate help if they:
    • Are not making forward progress in the water.
    • Are vertical in the water but unable to move or tread water.
    • Are motionless and face down in the water.
  • If someone is drowning or experiencing an emergency in the water:
    • Rescue and remove the person from the water (without putting yourself in danger).
    • Ask someone to call emergency medical services (EMS). If alone, give 2 minutes of care, then call EMS.
    • Begin CPR.
    • Use an AED if available and transfer care to advanced life support.
  • Take a CPR course for adults and children to be prepared if an emergency occurs. Update skills regularly.
302022352 411032407796419 2564572008701013574 n

Pop-Up Climate Café - Local Businesses Act on Climate

By Karen (Kj) Herther & Avantika Nautiyal

WEST ACTON: The Town of Acton Economic Development Office and EnergizeActon.org organized a ‘Pop-Up’ Small Business Climate Café  led by business advocate Karen ‘Kj’ Herther on Friday, July 28 at the ‘3 Moms & a Pop-Up’ space at 577 Mass Ave, next to Middlesex Bank. The Summer Acton Retail Pop-Up space is a sustainable energy-efficient structure made by Maine-based OpBox from more than 14,000 plastic water bottles.

Open until August 21, the pop-up shop features three local women entrepreneurs: Emily Frey (The Fluffy Dog Flower Farm), Michele Montalvo (Girly Girl Soaps) & Namrata Shah ( iJewelshop & just launched ‘Pop-Up’ business Wax and Scent). Current Pop-Up shop hours vary, and are typically Friday 3-6pm and Sunday 10-2pm, when shoppers are en route to the Acton Boxborough Farmers Market. 

At the Small Business Climate Café, Acton's local businesses shared the sustainable choices they are making toward Acton's climate action initiative. While each business tailors creative solutions that best fit their business model, there were some clear categories and takeaways from the event.    
Sustainable Products & Services (lead with sustainability – product offering, organic, local/regional, fresh / seasonal, quality durable products, fix or repair model)
 
  • Fluffy Dog Flower Farm
  • Pedal Power 
  • Bella’s Eco Cleaning
  • Eve & Murray Farm to Home
  • Kitchen Outfitters
  • True West Brewing
  • Kuksi Foods Cookies
  • Q Cleaner & Tailor

Eco ‘Climate friendly’ Packaging (e.g., re-fillable, recyclable, reusable, earth-friendly material, glass)
 
  • Fluffy Dog Flower Farm  (refillable glass vase)
  • All Things Spiced (reusable, recyclable) 
  • Bella’s Eco Cleaning (refillable glass cleaner)
  • Eve & Murray (earth friendly packaging, sustainable  (non-plastic reusable) food wrap) 
  • Kitchen Outfitters (recycle, earth friendly products)
  • Q Cleaner & Tailor (environmentally friendly dry cleaning bag)
  • Wax & Scent (refillable glass candles)
  • West Side Creamery (eco packaging, recycling, compostable straws)

Sustainable/Zero waste growing & manufacturing production process (organic, pre-order, method or APP to reduce food waste)
 
  • Girly Girl Soaps (zero waste, re-use soap ends)
  • Fluffy Dog Flower Farm (organic, cut fresh, composting )
  • iJewelShop (melt down, re-use metals)
  • All Things Spiced (pre-order)
  • El Huipil (Food APP to reduce food waste)

Clean & renewable energy (clean heating & cooling, solar, Acton Power Choice (APC) Green 100% renewable electricity/EV/efficient transportation (EV, hybrid)) & delivery route optimization  
 
  • Retail Pop-Up Project Shops housed in sustainable Opbox 
  • Bogi Boutique (clean heating & cooling, energy efficiency audit/steps)
  • Eve & Murray (clean heating & cooling)
  • Fluffy Dog Flower Farm (APC Green)
  • iJewelShop & Wax and Scent (clean heating & cooling, APC Green, EV product delivery)
  • All Things Spiced (EV/delivery route optimized, APC Green)
  • Patty Sutherland Realty Group (remote service option, hybrid vehicle)
  • Danny’s Place (clean heating & cooling)
  • Q Cleaner & Tailor (energy efficiency audit, APC Green)

As a by-product of the small business climate conversations, seven new local businesses joined other Acton Climate Coalition members endorsing the 2020 Town of Acton Climate Emergency Declaration. To celebrate the ‘3 Moms & a Pop-Up’ businesses, a donation was made to support a local sustainable cause: Acton Housing & Climate Justice.

For the uninitiated, this Pop-Up project was organized by Acton’s Economic Development Office in partnership with UpNext and the 495/Metrowest Partnership, with support from the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce. The project is funded by the Massachusetts Office of Business Development’s REDO grant program. EnergizeActon.org, a collaboration between the Acton Climate Coalition and the Town of Acton Sustainability Office, hosts a series of Climate Café events covering a range of climate friendly topics. 
Learn more about the organizers at: Acton.ma.gov/business and Project Pop-Up | 577 Mass Ave Acton (project-pop-up.com) and EnergizeActon.org/events.
Bugles

Bugles Across America

By Alissa Nicol

ACTON:
Since September 2015, Acton residents have been gathering monthly at the Town Common for a monthly Bugles Across America service, a short memorial to those who lost their lives in service to our country. The service concludes with a live playing of “Taps” by two volunteer buglers.

The service on August 6, Acton’s 216th, also included a short memorial to David Thoma, founder of the Massachusetts Chapter of Bugles Across America, who passed away on July 23. Eric Sahlberg, Pastor of Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church where Thoma was a member, was present to share remembrances of a man committed to traditional American values and to serving his community. A funeral will be held on the morning of Saturday, August 19 at Mt. Calvary.

The Bugles Across America service is held every month on the first Sunday at 5pm. Attendees gather on the lawn adjacent to the Acton Center Fire Station; parking is available at Town Hall or in the lot behind the station. All are welcome!
Horse

Choreographed Horseback Riding Benefits Equine Therapy Program

By Kim Kastens

ACTON:
On August 5 and 6, over a hundred horses and riders gathered at Bear Spot Farm on Pope Road in Acton to showcase their riding skills and raise money to benefit the equine therapy program of the Bear Spot Foundation. 
 
The equestrian discipline on display was "dressage."  In dressage, the horse and rider perform a prescribed set of movements within an arena, completing their moves within seven or eight minutes.   At the Bear Spot event, riders competed at a range of levels 1 through 4, along with Freestyle.  The pairs who are new to dressage perform simple maneuvers such as large circles to the left and right, and they are allowed to have a reader call out the moves from the side of the arena.  The more skilled riders perform from memory, and complete more difficult maneuvers, such as pirouettes.  The rider is not allowed to talk to the horse, but must instead communicate by nearly invisible "aids" such as subtle weight shift or thigh pressure. 
 
This event was a fundraiser for the Bear Spot Foundation. The Bear Spot Foundation supports the Farm's program of equine facilitated psychotherapy.  In this form of therapy, clients with depression, anxiety, terminal illness or loss interact with a human therapist and a specially trained horse, sometimes described as a "co-therapist."  The child or adolescent client grooms and saddles the horse, and may snuggle them, and then rides the horse with the therapist walking alongside. The Bear Spot website recounts how an adolescent with deep depression found "a positive feeling in her body, her mood and so in her sense of self" through her relationship with therapeutic horse Jake.
 
In an interview after the first day of competition, Bear Spot owner Jane Karol explained that the event raises money through sponsorships and entry fees, and the horses and riders come from approximately a two-hour radius around Acton.  Building on a doctorate in psychotherapy, Karol founded the equine therapy program and the Foundation in 2004, when such an approach was still quite unusual. Bear Spot's program is especially effective, according to Karol, because the clients ride the horses, rather than just grooming and feeding them as in some other programs. When a child sits up high on a horse, the apparent power relationship with the adult therapist is reversed, and some clients find it easier to talk. Others benefit from feeling the calm, steady gait of the horse, according to the Bear Spot website.
 
Acton-based rider Sara Carlisle and her horse Ace of Spades won first place in the Sunday afternoon FEI Freestyle Test of Choice competition, and achieved a high enough score to move closer to qualifying for the regional championships. "Freestyle" means that the routine is choreographed to music, the required moves can be done in any order, and the judge attends to how well the horse's moves follow the music.  Ms. Carlisle and Ace of Spades set their routine to I Wanna Dance with Somebody, by Whitney Houston. Interviewed after her winning ride, Carlisle said that she likes dressage because there is always room for improvement and she is working in such close partnership with the horse.  She said she has been riding every day since she was four years old. As for Ace of Spades, she bought him for one dollar because he was so rambunctious, and has worked with him for eight years to bring him to his current status as a Grand Prix level competitor.  She praised the Bear Spot competition as one of the best organized of all of the many competitions she attends.  Carlisle is the head trainer at Lythrum Farm on Nagog Hill Road in Acton. 
 
For more about the Bear Spot Foundation and its equine therapy program, see www.bearspotfarm.com/copy-of-therapy, and for Lythrum Farm see www.lythrumfarmdressage.com.  If you'd like to watch a high quality dressage competition, locally, free of charge, Bear Spot Foundation Dressage Benefits are held every May and August.

PHOTO: Overview of Bear Spot Farm Dressage event:  Competing horse and rider on the near ring, with judge's booth to the right.  Horses warming up in middle distance;  barn and indoor ring in the far distance. 
Actonth

Acton Recognizes India Independence Day

By Alissa Nicol

ACTON:
A crowd of about sixty gathered at  Acton Town Hall on August 6 to commemorate the 77th Anniversary of India’s Independence Day. The event was organized by Acton Indian Americans and India Association of Greater Boston (IAGB), an organization that promotes civic leadership, community service, youth engagement, and cultural events. Acton resident and long-time civic volunteer, Sahana Purohit, took charge of program planning, engaging with Town staff and officials, state legislators, and members of the Indian American community, to ensure a successfully executed and well-attended event.

Former Select Board member Himaja Nagireddy, Acton’s first Indian American elected official, and Dia Prakash, a rising seventh grader at RJ Grey, hosted the program, sharing personal stories relating the meaning that India’s Independence Day holds for each of them and introducing the speakers and performers. Nagireddy and Prakash were a dynamic pair, fostering enthusiasm from those gathered in front of Town Hall.

Vaishali Gade, IAGB President, made the opening remarks, followed by comments from all three members of Acton’s legislative delegation. Senator Jamie Eldridge remarked on the parallels between the overthrow of colonial rule in America and India, as well as the activities of non-violence and civil disobedience that inspired the leaders of the country’s “second revolution,” the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Referencing the importance of representation, Eldridge remembered Nagireddy’s recently completed term on the Acton Select Board, and Leela Ramachandran’s recent election to the School Committee. He also offered a more personal note of gratitude, noting that his district’s Indian American members have always made him feel so welcome. Representative Dan Sena offered that “this day represents not only the triumph of India’s sovereignty, but also the strength, unity, and resilience of the Indian people.” He also reminded the crowd that the flag represents prosperity, hope, and pride. Representative Simon Cataldo noted the astounding contributions of Indian Americans to the communities in which they live, here in Acton and beyond. He encouraged attendees to be civically active and engaged, noting that democracy is not self-actualizing and that we must continue to work to protect democratic ideals.

Select Board member Alissa Nicol shared, on behalf of the Select Board, that it was a great honor to participate in the day’s event, reflecting that the opportunity to share in cherished cultural traditions together enriches the Acton community. The American National Anthem was sung by Tara Vishwanathan. The tricolor, which became the official flag of India on August 15, 1947 and is known as “Tiraṅgā,” was raised by Select Board member Nicol. The Indian National Anthem was sung by a delightful trio of children: Anika Singh, Myra Manchanda and Saiba Jetly, guided by their teacher Vaishnavi Kondapalli. The official proclamation naming August 6 India Day in Acton was Select Board Vice Chair Fran Arsenault. 

Tanu Phoenix, Executive Director of India Association of Greater Boston made closing remarks, noting the remarkable achievement of the nation, cultivating unity through a dizzying diversity. Phoenix and Gade presented plaques to both the Town of Acton and event coordinator, Sahana Purohit, who has coordinated the annual flag raising ceremony in Acton for the past four years. Phoenix also made an exciting announcement: on Tuesday, August 8, at the Red Sox v Royals game, fans will be treated to Indian percussion and dance performances and Indian food, and IAGB will be throwing the opening pitch. Ticket holders who purchase through the IAGB.org website will receive a custom Red Sox replica jersey highlighting the tricolor Indian flag!

The entire program was filmed by Acton TV volunteers, so Action Unlimited readers will be able to view the recording soon on Acton TV’s YouTube channel.
Nightout

Public Safety Department Hosts National Night Out

By Alissa Nicol

ACTON:
On August 1, Acton held the annual National Night Out at the Public Safety Facility on Main Street. National Night Out is a program that fosters community awareness of services provided by law enforcement, and offers an opportunity for residents to develop relationships with the first responders who serve in their community.

An estimated two hundred participants enjoyed meeting and chatting with police officers, sergeants, lieutenants, the Deputy Chief, the Department Clinician, and Acton Fire Department staff as well as other folks in the community who provide important services. Staff from the Middlesex County Sheriff showed off one of their vehicles, workers from Cucurbit Farm brought a tractor to the event, and an enormous front loader from the Highway Department thrilled those courageous enough to climb up and into the cab. Law enforcement staff provided guided tours of the Public Safety Facility, including Dispatch and the Emergency Operations Center. The Mass State Police Air Wing even brought in a helicopter.

The event was festive, featuring live music by Jay Mannion, ice cream provided by Westside Creamery, pizza donated by Domino’s, New London, and Sorrento’s, and tabling by several local businesses, including Pedal Power, Middlesex Savings Bank, Colonial Chevrolet, and Digital Federal Credit Union.

PHOTO: National Night Out attendees visit Dispatch inside the Acton Public Safety Facility
(Photo credit: Alissa Nicol)
Bostonareagleaners

Senator Eldridge, Representatives Sena & Cataldo Announce $484,000 Grant for Boston Area Gleaners

Funding will assist in expanding yield and production capacity for the Acton-based non-profit

ACTON:
State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough) announced today that a grant amounting to approximately $484,000 has been secured for Boston Area Gleaners, an Acton-based non-profit which works on issues of food waste and food access, with the goal of supporting an equitable, just, and sustainable local food system. Boston Area Gleaners’s operations include gleaning — the gathering of surplus crops for donation — as well as transportation services for food distribution and the Boston Food Hub, which helps connect local farmers to buyers that value local, nutritious food.

The Food Security Infrastructure Grant (FSIG) Program seeks to ensure equitable food access for everybody in the Commonwealth by providing grants that help farmers, fishermen, and other local food producers be more interconnected with a strong, resilient food system. The FSIG Program has a special focus on locally produced food. The grant issued to Boston Area Gleaners will allow the organization to purchase additional farming equipment as well as a refrigerated truck, which will increase yield and production capacity.

“Boston Area Gleaners has done great work in strengthening the local food system in the Commonwealth,” said State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Marlborough). “I’m very thankful to the EEA for approving a grant that will help them expand their operation, and I’m looking forward to seeing their continued success and valued contributions to the community.”

“I would like to thank the EEA and the FSIG Program for providing this grant," said Representative Sena. "Ensuring equitable access to food is a crucial issue, and I commend Boston Area Gleaners for all of their efforts to address food insecurity and redistribution in the Commonwealth.”

"Boston Area Gleaners is providing an important boost to food security, which is one of the most daunting challenges in our region,” said Representative Cataldo. “Increasing the capacity of the Gleaners’ successful work through the EEA’s grant will help farmers, families, and our environment.”

For more information about the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, click here. For more information about Boston Area Gleaners, click here.
Unnamed(1)

Stephanie Duggan Appointed as Maynard Assistant Town Administrator

MAYNARD: The Select Board and Town Administrator Gregory Johnson are pleased to announce the appointment of Stephanie Duggan as the new Assistant Town Administrator. The Select Board appointed Duggan at its regular meeting on July 18.

Duggan has been employed by the Town since 2008, starting as Clerk to the Board of Health. She was promoted to positions of increasing importance and responsibility, serving as Administrative Assistant in the Office of Municipal Services (2012-2014), Executive Assistant to the Town Administrator (2014-2019), and Human Resources Coordinator (2019-2020).

She most recently served as Human Resources Manager, working on Town matters including legal compliance, personnel laws and regulation, recruitment and hiring, training and development, and wellness initiatives.

Duggan studied Television and Radio Broadcasting at Emerson College, and holds graduate certificates in Local Government Leadership and Municipal Finance from the Massachusetts Municipal Association/Suffolk University Moakley Center. She has also participated in municipal professional development programs, and holds numerous relevant licenses and certifications.

A Maynard resident, she also is active in her community, having shared her time and energy with groups including the Maynard Music Association, Maynard Public Schools PTO, Maynard Public Schools Drama Department, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

"I am very impressed at what Stephanie provides to the Town and administration," Town Administrator Johnson said. "As a lifelong resident and Town Hall staff member with substantial professional development accomplishments, she brings a wealth of knowledge about the community and municipal management. She has been integral in efforts to modernize the organization, especially toward the professional development of department heads. She is key to successful management of the people side of Town Hall, including negotiations with personnel and labor groups, as well as all recruiting and hiring. We look forward to seeing what she will be able to achieve in this new role."
Action seal

Town of Acton Announces Childcare Subsidy Program for Families

ACTON: Town Manager John S. Mangiaratti announces that the Town of Acton has dedicated $40,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to offer a childcare subsidy program for the 2023-2024 school year. The program is intended to provide grants to families in need of childcare, maintain employment, attend school, or seek employment through a job search.

Participating families will receive $3,000 to cover the cost of childcare or after-school care for children ages 13 and under. Funding can be used at any program licensed by the Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC), Extended Day through Acton-Boxborough Community Education, Acton Recreation, and Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley.

Funds will be awarded to eligible families on a first-come, first-served basis using the following ARPA guidelines for household size and income limit:
 
  • Household of 1, Income Limit $61,100
  • Household of 2, Income Limit $69,810
  • Household of 3, Income Limit $78,520
  • Household of 4, Income Limit $87,230
  • Household of 5, Income Limit $94,250
  • Household of 6, Income Limit $106,740
  • Household of 7, Income Limit $120,360

Applicants must provide proof of address and verify their income.

Once an application has been approved, funds will be paid to the childcare provider directly. The application can be viewed here.

Those with question about the program or application should contact the Community Services Office at 978-929-6651 or by email at lducharme@actonma.gov.
Book   little ray

Reading Roundtable at West Acton Baptist Church

ACTON: All in the Acton Community are welcome to join a Community Book Club at the West Acton Baptist Church (PLEASE NOTE: The books we read will not be religious in nature) on August 19 at 5pm. The first book is "A Little Ray of Sunshine" by Kristan Higgins. Light refreshments served. Handicapped accessible. The church is located at 592 Massachusetts Avenue. Please RSVP for food purposes, (978) 263-5902 or wabcadmin@verizon.net. For more information visit www.westactonbaptistchurch.org. 
Img 9846

Celebrate Farmers Market Week August 6-12

ACTON/BOXBOROUGH/MAYNARD/HUDSON/MARLBOROUGH: August 6-12 has been designated 2023 National Farmers Market Week. This celebration of Farmers' Markets recognizes how they increase access to fresh food, support local farmers and food producers and build community.

Summer produce is reaching its peak with corn, tomatoes, and beans all available. During the week, there are many opportunities for area residents to visit one or more farmers markets. On Sunday, the Acton-Boxborough Farmers’ Market is held from 10am–1pm, abfarmersmarket.org. On Tuesday, visit the Hudson Farmers Market from 4-7 pm on Main St in front of Town Hall. facebook.com/hudsonsfarmersmarket.  On Saturday, the Maynard Farmers’ Market runs from 9am-1pm in the Mill Pond parking lot on Main St,  MaynardFarmersMarket.com and the Marlborough Farmers Market from 9am-1pm, facebook.com/Marlborough-Farmers-Market-306000149747102  The Markets in Marlborough, Hudson and Maynard are all easily accessible from the Assabet River Rail Trail facebook.com/AssabetRiverRailTrail

In addition to offerings such as local fruits, vegetables, cut flowers, baked goods, meats, dairy, coffee, hot sauces, cider, wine and other specialty items, most farmers' markets are gathering places that often feature artisans, musical performances, community information and kids’ activities. Many MA Farmers' Markets also accept Senior / WIC Farmers' Market coupons and SNAP benefits. Check the individual market websites for details.  Let's make this the week everyone visits a farmers' market to find out what all the excitement is about!
Actontownhall

July 24 Acton Select Board Meeting Update

by Tom Beals

ACTON: At the Monday July 24 Acton Select Board meeting, Town Manager John Mangiaratti updated the Board on the effort to form a Regional Dispatch Center with the Town of Concord. Mangiaratti notified the Board of a Fiscal Year 2024 grant from the State 911 Department for $50,000 for project management, which brings state support, including the previous two fiscal years, to $1,723,403. Acton and Concord signed an agreement in May 2021 to form a Regional Dispatch Center that can handle incoming emergency calls from both towns. At Monday’s meeting, the Board discussed concerns that were raised by the Concord Select Board at their June 26, 2023, meeting, including the timing of hiring the director, participation of additional towns, and the location of the facility. Concord Board members had noted that Acton’s Public Safety Facility would not be a neutral location. Some Acton Board members expressed concern about the cost of a different location. The Acton Board concurred with Concord that hiring a director for the Center would help the project progress and noted that they were in favor of talking to other towns and that they wanted to continue pursuing a regional emergency call center.  


In other business, Acton Conservation Agent Mike Gendron described the status of the 53 River Street Dam removal. A contract has been signed and work is scheduled to begin in August 2023. The anticipated park design has been scaled back at the present funding level; however, other funding sources to complete the design are being sought.

Select Board member Fran Arsenault discussed changes to the Human Services Committee; the committee is seeking new members. The Board approved changes to the committee’s charter. Ed Mullen, Acton Building Commissioner, recommended changes to some fees. The Board approved the changes. Select Board member David Martin said he has been attending meetings of the MBTA Advisory Board for years, and the Acton Board voted to make Mr. Martin the designated representative to the MBTA board.

At the end of the meeting, the Board discussed a topic that was not on the agenda but was taken up because it was timely. They approved a proclamation of Indian Independence Day that will be read at an August 8 celebration outside of Town Hall.

The next Select Board meeting is scheduled for August 24, 2023.
Image002(1)

Open Table Receives $168,529 Food Infrastructure Grant from Commonwealth of Massachusetts

MAYNARD/CONCORD: Open Table, the MetroWest charity dedicated to fighting hunger and building healthy communities, today announced that it has received a Food Security Infrastructure Grant (FSIG) in the amount of $168,529 from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Open Table was one of 165 organizations selected from across the state to receive funding to help promote food security and resiliency.

The grant will be used to help renovate the Open Table Annex at 39 Main Street in Maynard and, specifically, to purchase a walk-in freezer and refrigeration. Located adjacent to Open Table’s  existing pantry and offices, the new annex space will enable Open Table to keep more food onsite and, in turn, better support its growing client base with both on-site food distribution as well as its prepared meals and its growing mobile programs.

“This grant will be used to strengthen Open Table’s infrastructure and ensure that individuals and families throughout the MetroWest area have access to food,” said Alexandra DePalo, executive director, Open Table. “We are most grateful to the State for its commitment to fighting food insecurity by partnering with local organizations like Open Table.  We, like many other food pantries, are seeing a significant increase in demand, and are working hard to make sure that everyone has food on their table.”

In addition to meeting the current needs, Open Table is aware that almost 50 percent of food insecure households in the Metro West area are not currently accessing a food pantry.  With the added capacity from this grant, Open Table  hopes to expand programs and partnerships with local organizations that serve individuals and families in need. 
Currently Open Table distributes bags of groceries, which include fresh produce, proteins, dairy, baked goods, and shelf-stable products, to over 300 households each week and provides over 1000 prepared meals to clients that hail from the Metro West suburbs.  The organization offers food through its on-site drive-through model as well as a number of delivery programs. Open Table has received incredible support from the communities it serves through donations of food and funds, making it possible to continue to address food insecurity in the MetroWest area.

The FSIG program was created to provide grants for capital infrastructure investments that increase access to locally produced food for families and individuals throughout the state who may be facing food insecurity, live in gateway cities or food deserts, or otherwise face unequal access to food. The program seeks to ensure that farmers, fishers, and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future supply chain issues.
Boys and girls club

Concord Conservatory Collecting Ukuleles for Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley

CONCORD/MAYNARD: Do you have a ukulele sitting in a closet that you haven’t touched in years? Consider donating your ukulele to a program offering free music classes for kids. The Concord  Conservatory of Music (CCM) provides free weekly ukulele group classes to kids attending the Boys & Girls Club of Assabet Valley in Maynard. Most of the kids at the Club do not own a ukulele, making practicing their instrument at home holding them back from making greater strides in their musicianship. CCM, in partnership with the Concord Cambridge Savings Bank, will have a collection box for either new or gently used soprano-sized ukuleles. The collection box is located in the branch located at 202 Sudbury Road, Concord.

Help put a ukulele in kids’ hands who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience music instruction. Studying music is like nothing else—providing emotional, social, and linguistic benefits. You’ll be giving the gift of music that keeps on giving. The goal is to collect at least 30 ukuleles allowing Club members to keep a ukulele at home to practice during the week and to be able to play their tunes for their family and friends. Thank you in advance for helping make a difference—one instrument at a time.

Contact CCM with any questions you may have about your ukulele donation. To learn more about CCM, visit ConcordConservatory.org, email info@ConcordConservatory.org, or call (978) 369-0010.
China trail garden 1

The Intersectional Environmentalist visits the Acton Arboretum 

by Kim Kastens

This summer, Acton residents are joining together in the first annual Community Read, part of a program called "Stories Connect Us." The book for this summer's read is The Intersectional Environmentalist, by Leah Thomas.  The author examines the intersection of environmentalism, racism, and privilege, and makes the case that saving the planet requires uplifting the voices of all kinds of people.

On July 12, a Community Read group walked the Acton Arboretum, observing and discussing themes from the book under the guidance of Acton Conservation Assistant Bettina Abe.  The Arboretum strives to make experiences in nature accessible and welcoming to a wide range of visitors, including those who use wheelchairs, are visually impaired, those of limited means, and those who are far from their native lands.  Even Acton residents who had been to the Arboretum many times before noticed new things when looking at the natural and built environment through the lens of intersectionality.

Guide Abe described the Arboretum as "wheelchair-friendly although not 100% ADA [Americans with Disability Act] compliant."  Many of the paths have the hard surface and gentle gradient needed for easy wheelchair access. Signage directs wheelchair users away from those paths where the landscape is too steep or bumpy.  Many of the picnic tables are designed so that wheelchair users can roll right up to the table without bumping into benches or table legs.  A website maintained by the Friends of the Acton Arboretum details the length, gradient, surface texture, and availability of benches along the main trails, so that wheelchair users and their companions can plan a safe visit.

Abe pointed out that--in contrast to many botanical gardens of comparable beauty--the Acton Arboretum is free of charge.

Midway through the tour, the group entered the China Trail Garden.  In this space, many of the plants are native to Asia, including gingko, Japanese maple, and rhododendron.  The landscape architect, Hongbing Tang, worked with local botanists and Acton’s Chinese and Chinese-American community to select plants that would flourish in Acton's climate and would help first generation Acton residents feel at home.  The China Trail Garden won a jury special recognition from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, who praised it for "comprehensive and diverse community engagement" and "cultural...significance."
Concordsign

Visitors Tour the West Concord Junction Cultural District

by Franny Osman

On Monday, July 17, State Representative Simon Cataldo and the West Concord Junction Cultural District Committee hosted a walking tour of the Cultural District and a roundtable discussion with Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, and Carolyn Cole, Program Officer, of the Mass Cultural Council (MCC). Fifty or so participants met for coffee and introductions at the Bradford Mills building, then toured the art gallery and the Concord Sign Museum in that space. Wooden signs from beloved establishments gone by (and some still extant) evoked memories and spurred conversation about stores that only recently closed, such as the West Concord Five and Ten and the West Concord Super Market. The Sign Museum (pictured) is open for self-guided tours weekdays 9am-5pm.

Local historians and artists led participants on walking tours, stopping at stores, the train depot, and the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail where it crosses Nashoba Brook.  Artists who designed and led the public creation of several murals in the village, photographer Edward Feather and Art for All founder Margot Kimball, described the public and technical processes they used. The murals depict the area’s people, industrial history, transportation, food production, and the Rail Trail. 

Luncheon, provided by Debra’s Natural Gourmet, Nashoba Brook Bakery, and Concord Teacakes, was served in the basement of Fowler Library, a welcome respite on a blazing hot day. Debra’s owner Adam Stark attended the event, as did State Representative Carmine Gentile, Concord’s Deputy Town Manager Megan Zammuto, Concord Select Board member Mary Hartman, Carlisle Cultural Council member Mark Levitan, Carlisle Gleason Library Director Martha Feeney-Patten, Acton Select Board member Alissa Nicol, and several members of “the committee with the long name”: the West Concord Junction Cultural District Committee. Representatives from the Chelmsford Cultural Council, Umbrella Arts Center, and other arts and economic development groups also joined. 

After lunch, Bobbit, Cataldo, and Cole fielded questions about cultural districts. Bobbit and Cole, who originally met when they were doing theatre in Washington DC, encourage originality and creativity, and coordination with other entities such as transportation providers, as communities create these districts. They said that cultural districts attract tourists and entrepreneurs, and improve quality of life for visitors and members of the host community. 

Other participants from Acton included this author; Jin Hong Yang, chair of the Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council; sculptor Meredith Bergmann; sculptor and museum owner Yin Peet; painter and former chair of the ABCC Sunanda Sahay; Acton Economic Development Department intern May Hong; Discovery Museums CEO Neil Gordon; and Acton resident and Carlisle Library Director Martha Feeney-Patten. Over lunch, Sunanda Sahay described discussions about five years ago about forming a cultural district in Acton, and several Acton residents expressed interest in renewing that effort.
Cc grantphoto

Acton Food Pantry awarded $135,000 Cummings Grant

Acton nonprofit receives three years of funding from Cummings Foundation

ACTON: Acton Food Pantry is one of 150 local nonprofits that will share in $30 million through Cummings Foundation’s major annual grants program. The Acton-based organization was selected from a total of 630 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $135,000 over three years.

Acton Food Pantry is committed to alleviating food insecurity in our area by partnering with the community to provide access to food with care, dignity, and respect.

“Acton Food Pantry relies on donations from our community to feed upwards of 1,680 individuals and distribute over 50,000 pounds of food each month. The Cummings Grant is our first significant grant in almost 40 years, and it will allow us to expand our pantry into the communities that need us most. Each year over the next three years, Acton Food Pantry will receive $45,000 to bring a mobile market into high-need areas within Acton and then expand outward to areas that are currently unserved."

The Cummings $30 Million Grant Program primarily supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties. Through this place-based initiative,  Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial property. Its buildings are all managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“The way the local nonprofit sector perseveres, steps up, and pivots to meet the shifting needs of the community is most impressive,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joyce Vyriotes.

“We are incredibly grateful for these tireless efforts to support people in the community and to increase equity and access to opportunities.”

The majority of the grant decisions were made by about 90 volunteers. They worked across a variety of committees to review and discuss the proposals and then, together, determine which requests would be funded. Among these community volunteers were business and nonprofit leaders, mayors, college presidents, and experts in areas such as finance and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).

“It would not be possible for the Foundation to hire the diversity and depth of expertise and insights that our volunteers bring to the process,” said Vyriotes. “We so appreciate the substantial time and thought they dedicated toward ensuring that our democratized version of philanthropy results in equitable outcomes that will really move the needle on important issues in local communities.”

The Foundation and volunteers first identified 150 organizations to receive three-year grants of up to $225,000 each. The winners included first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings grants. Twenty-five of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected by a volunteer panel to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $300,000 to $1 million each. This year’s grant recipients represent a  wide variety of causes, including housing and food insecurity, workforce development, immigrant services, social justice, education, and mental health services. The nonprofits are spread across 46 different cities and towns.

Cummings Foundation has now awarded $480 million to greater Boston nonprofits. The complete list of this year’s 150 grant winners, plus nearly 1,500 previous recipients, is available at www.CummingsFoundation.org.
Electric vehicle petting zoo

Electric Vehicle “Petting Zoo”

ACTON: What is an EV Petting Zoo?!  Numerous electric vehicle (EV) owners are gathering at the Acton Memorial Library to show off their vehicles to interested visitors. See old models and new (Tesla, Bolt, Solterra, EV6, and more). Sit in a vehicle, see how the dashboards are set up, talk with the owners about their experiences driving electric, learn about rebates on cars and chargers, etc. Hear a brief presentation on the current EV marketplace, plus get resources about federal and state rebates, area charging stations, and great local organizations supporting the transition to EVs. This program is part of the summer Climate Café Series, sponsored by EnergizeActon.org and the Acton Memorial Library, meeting every Wednesday, 5-6pm, in July and August.
Oip

Tips for Safe Fourth of July Celebrations

According to the state Department of Fire Services and State Police, Massachusetts fire departments reported nearly 1,000 fires related to illegal fireworks between 2013 and 2022. In addition to the 42 fire service injuries, five civilian injuries, and $2.5 million in damages attributed to these fires, Massachusetts medical facilities reported about 30 severe burn injuries extending to 5% or more of the victims’ bodies that were caused by illegal fireworks. In 2022 alone, fire departments reported 106 fires and explosions attributed to fireworks, an increase of nearly a third over the prior year.

It is illegal for private citizens to use, possess, or sell fireworks of all kinds in Massachusetts without a license and a permit. This includes fireworks purchased legally elsewhere and brought into Massachusetts. It includes sparklers, firecrackers, cherry bombs, and other fireworks. Fines range from $10 to $1,000, and some violations could carry a one-year prison sentence.

Residents are encouraged to report any misuse of fireworks they notice in the community to your local Police Department.

In case of a firework-related or other emergency, always dial 911.

Additionally, residents are reminded of these key safety tips for Fourth of July celebrations:
 
  • Attend organized and permitted fireworks displays only.
  • Report illegal fires to the police.
  • Remember that alcohol/drugs and fireworks do not mix.
  • Keep pets indoors and away from fireworks. The loud noises and flashing lights can be frightening and overwhelming for pets. Pets can become frightened and run from familiar environments and people, becoming lost. Read more here.

The Department also urges residents to observe the following tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on getting home safely following Fourth of July celebrations:
 
  • Be mindful of pedestrians.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Do not drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. From 2017 to 2021, 1,460 drivers were killed in motor vehicle crashes over the Fourth of July holiday period — 38% of the drivers killed were drunk.
  • Even if you’ve had only one alcoholic beverage, do not plan on driving. Instead, designate a sober driver or use a ride-share service to get home safely.
  • Take keys away from individuals who are under the influence and are planning to drive. Alcohol and drugs impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory, which are critical for safe and responsible driving.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, safely pull over and call 911.