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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.
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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.
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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.
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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."
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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

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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

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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.
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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.
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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!
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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. 
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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)
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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.
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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."
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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. 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
Meet a clean energy coach 2 230626 170512

Meet an Acton Clean Energy Coach!

ACTON: Transitioning to clean energy for our homes and cars is a great decision! But the process can be complicated. Acton's FREE Clean Energy Coaches are standing by to help you through these changes.
 
On July 12 from 5-6pm, Chat with David Martin and Jim Clark, two of Acton’s new Clean Energy Coaches and find out about the free consultations available through this program, sponsored by the Town’s Sustainability Office under the leadership of Director Andrea Becerra. All seven coaches are trained volunteers with personal experience transitioning to clean energy technologies.  They are ready to help other Acton residents learn about, plan for, and initiate actions such as the adoption of home/building weatherization, efficient electric heat pump systems, solar power, electric vehicles, and other energy adaptations to help us address climate change.

This program is part of the 2023 Climate Café Series co-hosted by EnergizeActon.org and the Acton Memorial Library. The Climate Café aims to be a helpful, informal gathering where Acton residents can discuss a fossil fuel free future.  Local people who have experience in clean energy technologies will share their insights and answer questions from others who are considering these technologies and who are exploring ways to reduce their carbon footprints.  Each week in July and August will be a different focus, with a range of technical and environmental topics. Each session will be one hour, 5-6pm, on Wednesdays. When the weather is good, we will be outside behind the Acton Memorial Library, so feel free to bring a picnic or grab a slice of pizza and relax while we discuss these positive efforts. If the weather is wet, we will be inside in the Library’s meeting room on the first floor. (Sorry, food is discouraged inside.) No registration is necessary. Simply drop by the Library!

The Clean Energy Coach Program is one of the Town’s newest clean energy initiatives, which also include Acton Power Choice, EnergizeActon.org, Abode Energy Management consultations, and the Neighborhood Clean Heating and Cooling Project.
Owl

Saved an Owl Today

by Bettina Abe

ACTON: A couple of weeks ago when the phone rang in the Acton Conservation Office at Town Hall where I work, I was very happy I was there to answer it. A lady said that she was parked on the side of Pope Road next to a baby owl-- who had been standing in the middle of the road until she got there. She reported that the owl did not appear injured.
 
I asked her if she could safely stay for five more minutes, and she said yes. I had thick leather gloves in my car already, AND a cardboard box. The last time some neighbors called me to “rescue” an owl from their driveway (about 10 years ago), it was on a freezing winter day and that Eastern Screech Owl had been hit by a car. That time I had placed the almost frozen, wounded screech owl into a towel lined box and drove it to Tufts Wildlife Animal Hospital in North Grafton. It didn’t move the whole way, and just stared at me with big eyes. Tufts did what they could, but the screech owl did not make it.
 
This time I arrived at Pope Road and immediately called my former boss, Tom Tidman, who was Acton’s Natural Resources Director for 35 years. I had seen Tom rescue raptors before. The first thing Tom said was, “Be sure you have a hat on, and have someone keep lookout. If the parent owl sees you touch its baby, it may swoop down and hurt you.” No parents were seen lurking anywhere, and this baby wasn’t making a sound. Check. “Always use leather gloves or the talons will pierce your hand.” It was a young barred owl who had probably fallen out of the nest, then hopped the wrong way until it ended up in the middle of the road. Bird parents commonly feed fledglings on the ground until they learn to fly. It’s a vulnerable state for them to be in. But kids are incredibly resilient.
 
The owl did not look injured. It kept staring at the lady who had called me, and clicking its beak. They will bite, and that beak looked sharp. Just go for it. I circled around behind the little guy/gal, and gently pressed the wings to its body so it would not flap and hurt itself. It weighed as much as a pencil though it was eight inches tall, and was really fluffy. Still, no parent dive bombing me. “Put the owl on a branch about 5 feet off the ground, and be sure the talons grab onto the branch,” Tom instructed. Right. This owl locked eyes with me. I started backing away. The other folks jumped in their car and drove off, mission accomplished. 
 
A few minutes later, I backed up another six feet. In the distance I saw something with a large wingspan swoop in the trees. I hoped and prayed it was the mom or dad. I backed up another ten feet. The baby hopped and flapped and climbed to some higher branches. A very good sign. I crossed Proctor Street and just hung out, leaning against my car. It was really hard to leave. I sure wish I’d had a frog, mouse, or dog treat in my pocket to give that hungry baby. Finally, I left the owlet on its own, hoping the story would have a happy ending. 
 
If you find wounded wildlife in Acton, call Newhouse Wildlife Rescue in Chelmsford (978) 413-4085; newhousewildliferescue.org. They accept donations.  According to MassWildlife, in most cases, it’s best to leave wildlife alone. Learn more at www.mass.gov/wildlife-rehabilitation.

(PHOTO by Bettina Abe)
Nagog

Nagog Park Redevelopment Hearing

by Tom Beals

ACTON: At the June 26 meeting of Acton's Select Board, representatives for McGovern Auto Group, as well as their law and engineering firms, presented a substantially revised redevelopment plan for Nagog Park. The first Nagog Park redevelopment plan that was submitted to the Town in February 2023 had aroused considerable community opposition, and the revised plan addressed some of those concerns. The Select Board and Acton residents offered comments after McGovern's presentation.

In opening remarks to the hearing, Acton Planning Director Kristen Guichard and Select Board member Dean Charter described the scope of the Select Board's options when a project's activities fall within Zoning Bylaw regulations. Guichard said, "When an underlying use is allowed as of right under zoning, the board's review authority is confined to site plan review." Charter reiterated, "If the applicant decides to continue on with the car dealership, there's no practical way that can be stopped."

Mark Bobrowski (Blatman, Bobrowski, Haverty & Silverstein, LLC, Concord, MA) introduced the presentation, describing meetings with town staff and concerned citizens. David Kelly of Kelly Engineering Group presented the revised plan, emphasizing that the plan is a work in progress. The revised proposal describes a single auto dealership building, rather than the two buildings that were originally proposed. Possible accommodations for almost all the affected businesses were described, although not in detail.

The Select Board’s questions addressed details of the plan, consistent with the Board’s limited powers as described in the opening remarks. Residents' comments were more free-ranging. The limitations of the Board’s powers provoked comment, including frustration that those limitations were not made known in advance. Others suggested that a broader view of the Board’s powers could invoke consistency of a given project to the Town’s master plan, which might provide legal justification to reject the project outright. One speaker noted that the consultant conducting the Great Road Complete Streets Study was unaware of the impact of the Nagog Park proposal, suggesting a failure of communication among town groups. A recurring theme of the remarks questioned the need for yet another auto dealership, and the perception of a developing “auto mile” on Great Road.

The hearing concluded with unanimous agreement of the Board to continue consideration of the Nagog Park proposal on September 11, 2023 at 7:10pm.
Linens

Linen Mountain Miracle

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: For the third year in a row, Crown Uniform & Linen Service donated their services to professionally launder over half a ton of linens that Acton-based Household Goods volunteers collected during the Boston College student move out in May.  According to Household Goods, the company transformed a mountain of donated sheets and towels into fresh and folded linens that the organization could offer to their clients. Crown was introduced to Household Goods by the non-profit organization Life Science Cares, which partners life science corporations with organizations that disrupt the cycle of poverty and inequality in local communities in the Boston and several other regions. 

(Photo Courtesy of Household Goods)
Grotonhill

Scouting for Instruments

by Franny Osmon

ACTON/GROTON: Arjun Saulnier, a member of Boy Scouts Troop 284 of Acton, didn’t have to look far to find an Eagle Scout project that was a great fit. The recent Acton-Boxborough Regional High School graduate and longtime violin student of Groton Hill Music School’s Angel Hernandez was quite familiar with Groton Hill’s mission to give music generously when there is need. So Arjun went on a mission of his own – to search out and collect gently used instruments (and the funds to refurbish them) for Groton Hill to distribute to students in need.

This spring, Arjun and his mom, Hashi Chakravarty, transported nearly two dozen instruments – violins, guitars, a drum set, woodwind and brass instruments – plus a xylophone and a banjo – to the music school. Arjun knew that many of the instruments he collected were likely in need of a tune-up, so he also collected $1100 to bring them back to life so they could go to new homes.

“I’m extremely glad to be able to give back to Groton Hill after taking lessons there for so long,” said Arjun. “I hope my project and the accompanying donation can help to bring the joy of music to other students!” Arjun plans to pursue chemistry studies at Case Western Reserve in Ohio this fall.
Massbay

Local Residents Earn Dean's List Honors from MassBay Community College

WELLESLEY HILLS: The following local students have been named to the MassBay Community College Dean's List. They achieved this outstanding academic honor for the spring 2023 semester.

* Jordan Gordon of Boxborough, who studies Business Administration
* Anna Roberts of Boxborough, who studies Computed Tomography
* Jordan Cedeno of Maynard, who studies Liberal Arts - Elementary Education
* Marina Schiering of Stow, who studies Liberal Arts
* Daniel Ryu of Wayland, who studies Business Administration
* John Wilson of Wayland, who studies Liberal Arts
* Jacob Snyder of Wayland, who studies Liberal Arts - Psychology /Sociology
* Andrew Eggleston of Wayland, who studies Computer Science
* Lara Shelton of Wayland, who studies Liberal Arts

To be eligible for the MassBay Dean's List, students must complete at least six credits of college-level courses, be in good standing with the College, and earn a grade point average of 3.5 or higher. To learn more about MassBay, visit massbay.edu.
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Discovery Museum Announces
2023 Scholarship Recipients

ACTON: Discovery Museum announced today its second annual Discovery Museum Scholarship recipients, four area high school students selected through a competitive application process that saw 143 applications from students in 73 towns throughout Massachusetts.

Launched in 2022 in celebration of the Museum’s 40th anniversary, the Discovery Museum Scholarship recognizes high school students who embody the mission and values of the Museum. Scholarships of $1,500 each were awarded to:
 
  • Caleb Conners, Westborough; Westborough High School
  • Caroline Crowley, Medford; Mystic Valley Regional Charter School
  • Kyla Hughes, Dunstable; Groton-Dunstable Regional High School
  • Aynsley Szczesniak, Norfolk; Pearson Online Academy

“We created the Discovery Museum Scholarship to recognize the millions of young people who have come through our doors over the past 41 years—so many of whom have gone on to inspire us,” said CEO Neil Gordon. “Caleb, Caroline, Kyla, and Aynsley each impressed us with their achievements, perspectives, and community support activities. From their applications we learned a bit about how Discovery Museum impacted them while they were young and contributed to the paths they have chosen. We are very proud to honor and support these impressive students on the next step in their educational journeys.”

Acton Police and Fire Departments Share Tips for Safe Fourth of July Celebrations

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ACTON: Police Chief James Cogan and Interim Fire Chief Anita Arnum wish to share several important safety tips and reminders as residents prepare to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.

The Town of Acton will not be holding its traditional fireworks display this year, but residents are still encouraged not to take fireworks into their own hands.

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 the Acton Police Department at 978-264-9638.

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 departments also urge 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.
Habitat for humanity new home

Habitat for Humanity Home Dedicated in Acton

By Alissa Nicol

ACTON: On June 16, a bright, sunny day with blue skies, a new Habitat for Humanity home in Acton was dedicated. In a moving and inspiring program, the McTernan Daniels family moving into the Carlisle Road home expressed their deep gratitude to all who played a part in the project. Reverend Cindy Worthington-Barry led all who gathered in a blessing of the home, gifts were presented by the North Central Habitat for Humanity Construction Manager Rick Perkins, Discovery Museum CEO Neil Gordon, and the Local Project Committee. At the conclusion of the program, the key was presented to the family by Acton Community Housing Corporation  (ACHC) Chair Janet Adachi. 
 
Habitat for Humanity North Central Massachusetts is a local, independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Volunteer labor along with donated materials, land, and funding makes the construction of these homes possible. Habitat homeowners provide labor as well, and pay for a below-cost home through an interest-free mortgage. The Carlisle Road home is the fourth Habitat home to be built in Acton. This sustained collaborative relationship with Acton is a testament to the Town’s commitment to providing affordable housing opportunities for families.

This project was made possible by numerous key partners. Senator Jaime Eldridge’s remarks touched on the Senate’s focus on affordable housing in its tax package and the fact that Habitat for Humanity provides one of the few home-ownership opportunities for low-income families. All five members of the Acton Select Board were in attendance and offered a warm welcome to Zach, Maribeth and their three young children. 
 
The Town of Acton donated the home and also provided funding from the ACHC’s Community Housing Fund and a CPA grant. The volunteers who worked on the construction of the home are too many to list here, but include residents from the neighborhood, students from Minuteman Technical High School, and corporate partner volunteers from Acton Boxborough United Way, Workers Credit Union, Emerson Hospital, Enterprise Bank, Great Road Church, Cisco, and Dell. Major contributors included Housing Ministries of New England, Wells Fargo, Acton Lions Club, Acton Congregational Church, South Acton Congregational Church, West Acton Baptist Church, UCC Boxborough, Lazaro Paving, and Solar Design Associates, and DSD Renewables.

PHOTO
: Senator Jamie Eldridge
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YV Art Museum Presents Sculptures by Ted Castro

ACTON: YV Art Museum administered by Contemporary Arts International (CAI), a non-profit organization, presents the sculptures by Ted Castro. The exhibition will start on July 9 and last through August 27. In addition, in the Gallery, a documentary film by Chen Bohan, a filmmaker from Taiwan will be showing after the Artist’s Talk. This show focuses in the presentation of Ted's wood work. Ted studied figurative subject extensively through drawing and sculpting over 20 years, particularly in the context of extraneous muscular form. His work is emotional and truly expressive deeply from his heart.

Ted Castro was born in New York City. He began art in high school. Ted attended Pratt Institute and graduated with honors. He apprenticed and made stained glass windows with Martino Studios in Framingham. Later, he taught stained glass at the Worcester Center for Crafts where he attended classes for furniture refinishing woodworking. Ted has been carving for more than two decades and is passionately creating pieces that capture the humanitarian tangles we are all in. The hard work and time dedicated to creating sculpture is transformative providing an
openness to add honesty and clarity to the work. He has had 2 solo shows, participated in sculpture symposia, and been a father at home for his two daughters. In 2022 Ted tested his will power and completed hiking the Appalachian Trail southbound in 4 months.

CAI is open to visitors everyday 10am-6pm, visitors are encouraged to phone or text (617) 699-6401 to make appointment. The admission fee is $10 for adults; $5 for over 65 or under 16, which includes a tour of the studio and the sculpture park. For more information, visit www.contemporaryartsinternational.org or www.yvartmuseum.org.

Acton Deputy Chief Anita Arnum to Serve as Interim Fire Chief

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ACTON: Town Manager John S. Mangiaratti is pleased to announce that Deputy Chief Anita Arnum will serve as Interim Fire Chief upon the retirement of Chief Robert Hart on June 25. Deputy Arnum is already the highest-ranking woman in the history of the Acton Fire Department, and she will be the first female to serve as chief or interim chief.

Arnum began her career with the Acton Fire Department as a full-time firefighter in 1989. She was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in January 2012 and named Captain in March 2017. She was named Deputy Chief and Town Emergency Management Director in November 2020.

Arnum has a Bachelor's Degree in Microbiology and Chemistry from UMass Amherst, and a Bachelor's Degree in Fire Science from Anna Maria College. She is also a graduate of the Grants Management Certificate Program from Management Concepts, and a graduate of the Chief Fire Officer Training Program at the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.

Arnum is a state and nationally registered paramedic, a member of the State Hazmat Response Team, and a member of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Search and Rescue System. She is also certified in numerous technical rescue fields, and is qualified as an instructor/trainer in EMS, hazmat, firefighting, and technical rescue.

Arnum helped guide the Town of Acton through the COVID-19 pandemic, providing testing, vaccination clinics and procuring difficult to obtain personal protective equipment for firefighters.

She is also known for fostering positive relationships between town departments and the community, and constantly seeks out opportunities for the Department to train, grow, and work with other communities to stay at the forefront of technology.

"Deputy Chief Arnum has been a great leader within the Acton Fire Department, and I look forward to her continued leadership and mentorship of firefighters in her role as Interim Chief," said Town Manager Mangiaratti.

PHOTO: Acton Deputy Chief Anita Arnum will serve as Interim Fire Chief when Chief Robert Hart retires on June 25. (Courtesy Acton Fire Department)
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Community Bag Program to Benefit the Friends of Maynard Seniors

HUDSON/MAYNARD: For the month of July the Community Bag Program at Stop and Shop, 10 Technology Drive in Hudson, will benefit the Friends of Maynard Seniors. For every reusable Community Bag purchased for $2.50 a donation of $1 will be given to the Friends of Maynard Seniors. These reusable bags are a great way to carry your groceries and also items for summer activities. Why not purchase several? Your donation to the Friends of Maynard Seniors is a wonderful gift to help Senior Citizens when help is needed. Your donations are appreciated!
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Summer Bible Camp in Acton

ACTON: Join St. Matthew’s Summer Bible Camp in Acton, July 17-21 from 9am-noon, for five fun-filled mornings. Children from pre-schoolers to 6th-graders are welcome. The theme is “Seeing God,” which will be reflected in activity centers: Music, Science and Nature, Outdoor Games and Crafts. For more information visit www.saint-matthews.org.
Puppets

Volunteers Use Puppets to Teach about People with Disabilities

by Joan Burrows, founding member and still active on the Commission on Disabilities
 
ACTON: The Acton Commission on Disabilities (COD), now in its 36th year, was made a Commission by state law in 1987. The first group of seven members got to work right away. All agreed on parking as the first issue we would address. We did! And we have been working ever since to make life better for all those with a disability:from parking to accessible sidewalks, easy-open  doors, wide aisles, and people who can see the person as any other and treat accordingly. It is about access, awareness, and acceptance.
 
Dealing with adults who already had their views and prejudices was difficult at times, but our members were dedicated and tireless. This involved them and their children, their whole families, and everyday life.
 
I could now write a long article, or two  or three, about our experiences on the COD back then, but I want to zero in on the young people. Before their prejudices form, we need to reach them and help them understand. We found a program, Kids on the Block  Puppets that was and is a fantastic way to help our children (and some adults) how to better understand a disability.
 
We purchased many puppets – one uses a wheelchair, one is blind, one uses crutches—and they all have a friend they talk with. We presented shows to school groups. The best learning came when the brief show was over and the children had time to ask questions. Their questions were right on the issues; children do that! We answered all their questions and, if there were more after we left, the children wrote them down and the teacher would pass them on to us.
 
We began by training adults to perform with the puppets, and it was a successful program. Later, we tried with high school volunteers. This helped two-fold as it taught the older group as well as the young.
 
In the last couple of years, the COD has pulled the puppets out of storage and found some high school students to practice and perform with them—first, at Oktoberfest in spring of 2021, then at the Kelley’s Corner Block Party hosted by Acton’s Economic Development and Recreation departments in September of 2022.
 
However, the scripts are now old and we need help updating them—from teachers, students, people with a disability or understanding (as a family member or caregiver), or members of local organizations.
 
We have these wonderful puppets and would like to use them to help others. Please contact the Acton Commission on Disabilities, cod@actonma.gov or call the Town Manager’s office at (978) 929-6611  to offer your creative skills. Thank you.

PHOTO by Fran Osman
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Tavernier Place Opens its Doors

by Franny Osman
 
ACTON: On June 12, local and state affordable housing advocates and developers gathered at Tavernier Place at 446 Massachusetts Ave. in Acton, across from RJ Grey Jr. High, for a ribbon-cutting for the new building of 31 rental units for seniors and people with disabilities. The development is named for Nancy Tavernier, 20-year chair of the Acton Community Housing Corporation (ACHC). Project developer Steve Joncas of Common Ground Development Corporation introduced a lineup of speakers including legislators and leaders and funders of Affordable Housing. 

State Senator Jamie Eldridge spoke of paying tribute to the dignity of residents of affordable housing; and of the importance of advertising new housing opportunities. Eldridge remembered housing champion Bob Whittlesey, late chair of the Acton Housing Authority who was one of the fiduciaries of the Boston Housing Authority in the 1970’s and who founded several national and statewide housing organizations. Eldridge expressed excitement about an (unnamed) Acton resident who took care of other people’s children for many years and gave so much to her community, who is moving into Tavernier Place. State Representatives Dan Sena and Simon Cataldo, and a representative from US Representative Lori Trahan’s office, also spoke and presented citations.

Joncas appreciated Massachusetts Housing Partnership as true to its name of “partner” in financing. Nancy McCafferty, Director of Business Development at Massachusetts Housing Partnership, described the generosity and collaboration amongst funders, including RBC Community Investments whose Director Stephen Lee also spoke. Tavernier Place was developed by Common Ground Development Corporation, the development subsidiary of Community Teamwork Inc., a Lowell-based social service nonprofit. Much of the $15 million in financing came through low-income housing tax credits and other state funds awarded through the former Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), now renamed the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC), the agency charged with creating more homes in Massachusetts and lowering housing costs for residents.

Select Board chair Jim Snyder-Grant said the Board was a “backstop,” whose role was to say “yes” as much as possible, and he looks forward to this wonderful addition to affordable housing in Acton being fully occupied within a few months.

Nine-year Select Board member Janet Adachi, who replaced Nancy Tavernier as chair of the ACHC, said that Nancy will visit the building next month. Adachi appreciated the patience, vision and tenacity of Common Ground in its work preserving the Towne high school building for 15 affordable apartments, and now building Tavernier Place. She said that ACHC has provided about half a million dollars in small grants toward the project, not easy for a small Town entity. Adachi read off an “academy award” thank you list which included developer and philanthropist Steve Steinberg, Town Manager John Mangiaratti, many Select Board members along the way, present and past Planning Directors, and the Housing for All community organization. 

Attendees representing board members from Acton Housing Authority, Acton TV, Acton Memorial Library, the Human Services Committee, Miracle Field, Housing and Climate Justice for Acton, Housing for All, Commission on Disability, Transportation Advisory Committee, and others, enjoyed refreshments and tours. They visited sample units, friends’ moving box-filled apartments, and a comfortable community room. They admired the “luxury vinyl” flooring that felt softer underfoot–and rougher and less slippery–than standard vinyl flooring. The units have ample kitchen area, living room, bedroom, and spacious, accessible bathrooms with walk-in showers. 

Asked about turning radius for public transportation vehicles, the architect and construction company said that the parking lot allows a fire truck to turn around, so the van should have no trouble.

Leaders on the project cut the ribbon (twice) to make sure all dignitaries were included.

PHOTO courtesy of State Senator Jamie Eldridge
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Victorian Home Tour

by Alissa Nicol
 
SOUTH ACTON: On June 17, a Victorian Home Tour will take place in South Acton Village. The J.W. Tuttle House is considered one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture in Massachusetts. The house is furnished with authentic 19th century art and period furnishings. The tour will offer a glimpse of the integration of modern and period design principles. To register for this free event, visit
https://vichomegarden.myshopify.com/products/victorian-home-and-garden-tour-saturday-june-17th-1-pm-tour
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Acton Boxborough Cultural Council Grantee Reception

by Alissa Nicol

ACTON: The Acton Boxborough Cultural Council (ABCC) held its Annual Grantee Reception at NARA Park on Tuesday, June 6. Attendees enjoyed musical performances and also remarks by members of our local legislative delegation, Senator Jaime Eldridge and Representative Simon Cataldo. According to the ABCC website, “The Acton-Boxborough Cultural Council (ABCC) is one of 329 all-volunteer local cultural councils serving every municipality in Massachusetts. The legislature appropriates funds annually to the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), which then allocates funds to local councils.

The grantees in attendance were announced and had the opportunity to share details about their projects. A tribute was given by the ABCC Chair, Jin Yang, to two long-time ABCC members who passed away earlier this year, Dawn Wang and Nancy Evans. Dawn initiated and implemented the China Trail Garden special 3-year project at the Acton Arboretum which recently won a design award from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, and Nancy served as Chair of the Our World Film Series sub-committee for several years.

A total of $16,200 was allocated this year. Recipients included the Acton Chinese American Civic Society, Inc. for the 2022 Boston Asian Music Festival, the Acton Boxborough Regional High School  for the Orquesta de la Revolucion, the Chinese Family Network, Inc. for Hands-On Demos of Renewable Energy to Immigrant Families, Eileen Herman-Haase for Dancing Joy with Dance Caliente, Nashoba Valley Chorale for Wake Up, My Spirit, Open Door Theatre of Acton, Inc. for The SpongeBob Musical, Deepika Prakash for DiwaliFest 2023, Hongbing Tang for a Digital Art Workshop, The Concord Orchestra, Inc. for the 2022 - 2023 Season and Music Director Search, and many more. Details on the 2023 grant application cycle will be posted to the ABCC website this summer, www.actonboxboroughculturalcouncil.org. Applications are due in October each year.

PHOTO:
ABCC Grantee Reception at NARA Park. (Courtesy of Senator Jamie Eldridge)
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GCFM Awards – June 2023

ACTON: The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts (GCFM) announced awards to the Garden Club of Acton in Categories of Publicity and Historic Preservation at its annual meeting in Hyannis recently. The Acton Garden Club received an award in the category of Historical Preservation. The club was honored for preserving and archiving its history each year with the creation of beautiful photo books, using publishing software, detailing the club’s activities. The Acton Garden Club also received an award in Publicity for its program “Acton Looking Good 2022”. This program promotes civic beautification and recognizes Acton businesses who enhance the town’s beauty with their inspirational landscapes.

Congratulations to the Members of The Acton Garden Club, for their amazing work in beautifying the town and for their work in historic preservations.

The Acton Garden Club is a member of the Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts and has served the town since its founding in 1933 to “Promote a greater interest in gardening and to share experiences that shall be of mutual benefit.” For more information on “Acton Looking Good 2023” and activities of The Acton Garden Club, go to www.actongardenclub.org.
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Home Filters for PFAS Removal from Tap Water

by Ron Parenti

ACTON: Since new regulations for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were established by the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in 2021, the Acton Water District has issued several advisories that include the words “consumers in a sensitive subgroup are advised not to consume, drink, or cook with water when the level of PFAS6 is above 20 ng/L”. This directive has prompted a number of homeowners to consider the installation of a home filtration system, but since the water supplied to Acton residents only infrequently exceeds the State’s limit on these contaminants it is not necessary to spend a large amount of money to achieve an extra measure of protection. Filters that are effective in removing PFAS are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), and consumers should verify that the product complies with the ANSI/53 or ANSI/58 standards. A list of NSF certified filters can be found at
www.nsf.org/consumer-resources/articles/contaminant-reduction-claims-guide

The following information is also important. The MassDEP regulation of 20 parts per trillion and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed regulation of 4 parts per trillion are relatively new.

Although NSF-certified filters for home use have a demonstrated ability to remove PFAS, this certification does not guarantee that the treated water will comply with the new purity requirements.

Actual contaminant levels following filtration cannot be determined without an expensive test (about $300) and, to maintain performance, the internal filter cartridges must be replaced regularly. Finally, it's important to understand that only a fraction of our daily exposure to PFAS is attributed to drinking water. While exposure ratios for Acton residents have not been measured, the EPA and MassDEP assume a 20% fraction for drinking water and assign most of the remaining exposure to food and food packaging. All of these factors should be considered when considering the purchase of a home filtration system for PFAS removal.

Types of Filter Installations
 
  • Whole-House Filters - The most expensive installation is a point-of-entry filter that treats all of the water that enters the house. These systems can be customized to remove a wide variety of chemical contaminants, heavy metals, and particulates. Installation is usually performed by a licensed plumber, and the total cost typically exceeds $1,000. Replacement cartridges may cost as much as $200.
  • Under-Sink Filters - Since only about 10% off the water that enters a house is actually consumed as drinking water, point-of-use filters represent a cost-effective option for PFAS removal. The cost will depend on the complexity and type of filtration, but NSF certified units can be purchased for about $300. Replacement cartridge prices are in the $50 to $100 range.
  • Pitcher Filters - Compact counter-top filtration units that can be automatically or manually filled have recently become available for PFAS removal, and these products represent the least expensive treatment alternative. Prices for the pitchers are in the $100 range, but the removable filter cartridges may need to be replaced frequently at a cost of about $50. Over the long term, this option is likely to be more economical than the purchase of bottled water.

Filtration Technologies
 
  • GAC Filtration - Granular activated carbon is a filtration media that has been widely used to remove chemicals and particulates in drinking water. Contaminants adhere to the carbon media and are efficiently removed from the input water stream. Since the number of adsorption sites is limited, the lifetime of the filter cartridge will depend on the contaminant load and is not easily determined without regular testing. Regulations relating to filter disposal are still being reviewed by the MassDEP and the EPA.
  • Reverse Osmosis - These filters employ a porous membrane that segregates the input water stream into two outputs, one of which is the treated water and another that contains the extracted contaminants. Studies have shown that reverse osmosis is more effective than GAC in removing PFAS, but this method has two serious drawbacks. First, it is very inefficient in terms of water use, since the contaminated output stream comprises 75% of the input water volume. Second, according to Massachusetts law it is illegal to discharge the contaminated water stream from a reverse osmosis system to a Title 5 septic system, which would preclude the use of this filtration technology for most of the homes in Acton. Regulations for this type of discharge into the Town’s sewer system are still under review.

Ongoing PFAS Remediation Efforts at the Acton Water District

Because PFAS chemicals have been used to manufacture a wide range of consumer products for over 50 years, trace amounts of these contaminants have been detected at the parts per trillion level in water supplies throughout the world. The new MassDEP drinking water regulations for PFAS are far more stringent than those placed on any other contaminant (almost 1000 times lower than the EPA regulation for arsenic), and warnings must be sent to water users whenever the specified limits are exceeded by even a small amount. The Acton Water District has expended  significant time and monetary resources in the past two years to initiate the capital improvements needed to comply with the current MassDEP and anticipated Food and Drug Administration regulations. Full compliance will require substantial  upgrades to each of the Water District’s three treatment facilities.