Shirleycenter

Shirley Council on Aging Seeks Volunteers

SHIRLEY: Shape the future of your community.  The Shirley Council on Aging at 9 Parker Road is in need of volunteers:
 
  • Council on Aging Board Members: The Council is chartered to provide programs and services that support residents with Health & Wellness, Socialization, Nutrition, Safety, Financial Protection and others. All are in support of a senior’s right and ability to Age-in-Place. 
  • Meals on Wheels drivers:  CRITICAL NEED: Deliveries are made 5 days week between 10-2. Routes vary. Generally one day a week. 2 days open starting August 8.  Although it is a volunteer position, you will be reimbursed for mileage.
  • Special Event Kitchen/Dining Room help. August 23 and/or 24: August 24th will be a free cookout, sponsored by Senator John Cronin. Volunteers are sought to help prep on Tuesday 8/23 and serve/clean up on 8/24.
  • Program Leads: Build your own or assist in delivering programs that meet the needs of the residents. People are asking for more programs but we do not have the staffing develop and manage them.
  • Volunteer Coordinator: Manage volunteer applications and schedule volunteers for tasks.
  • Kitchen Staff: Cooks, serving, and clean up for meals at the Senior Center.
  • NEW Starting September 1st: Morning Café management. Seeking folks that will maintain the Café area, mornings Mon-Thurs. Make coffee, set up/ breakdown café food items. Socialize with clients. Thanks to a grant from the Shirley Charitable Foundation, they have been able to subscribe to two newspapers and fund the morning café. http://shirleycharitablefoundation.org/
  • Social Media: Manage our FB site with weekly postings and responses. Explore solutions to scale internet use and access by senior residents. 
  • Advocates: Welcome patrons, promote programs and services ensure social distance; sanitize areas before and after events.

All volunteers must complete a volunteer application and have a CORI check. If you or someone you know is interested in building community and helping at the Senior Center please contact Marilyn Largey, Director at (978) 425-1390; mlargey@shirley-ma.gov.
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Nashoba Park’s Starry Nights Concert Series Makes a Return for the Summer

AYER: Nashoba Park Assisted Living’s long time summer tradition, Starry Nights Concert Series, is back for the warmer months! The community launched its annual string of performances with a display of Latin music from the Santiago Lopez Trio.   Next up is Kevin Scollin’s Trio on August 11 at 6:30pm.

This yearly concert series, which had been temporarily paused due to Covid-19 restrictions, features live performances throughout the summer. For each performance, residents and guests gather in the Assisted Living Community’s scenic courtyard to relax in the peaceful outdoor setting, take in the vibrant music, and spend quality time with family and friends.
Concerts are free and open to the public. For more information, call 978-772-0707.
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2022 Drought Update

AYER: UPDATE: Due to the severe drought in the region, and water use, the Town’s water supply has reached critical levels and the Town of Ayer has declared a State of Water Supply Conservation as of August 4. Effective immediately, all non-essential outdoor water uses are restricted. We ask that all customers use water wisely both indoors and outdoors.

For more information, please contact the Ayer DPW Office at 978-772-8240 during regular business hours.

UPDATE: On July 21, 2022, the State Drought Task Force changed the geographical area to be in a state of Critical Drought due mostly to the continued rainfall deficit.
 
  • As of July 1, 2022, we are 4.79” precipitation deficit for the year compared to the 30-year average.
  • As of July 26, 2022, Ayer has received only 1.28” of precipitation compared to the average 3.8” for the month of July.

The Ayer DPW is closely monitoring the drought conditions and assess daily the need for more restrictive conservation efforts to maintain a resilient Water Supply.  They will continue to update the Select Board and the public as conditions evolve.  Questions should be directed to the DPW office at 978-772-8240 or kabraham@ayer.ma.us.

Please read below to see what efforts you can make to preserve water.

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On July 12, 2022, the State Drought Task Force continues to consider the Ayer geographical area in a state of Significant Drought. As of July 1, 2022, the region was at 4.79” precipitation deficit for the year compared to the 30-year average.Times like this serves as a reminder to how valuable this essential resource is and how important it is to our community’s safety, hygiene, and economic success. What will the Town do?
 
  • Suspend Automatic Sprinkler Systems on public property;
  • Suspend Variance Application approvals for new lawn installations;
  • Suspend the Flushing Program.

What can the Public do?
 
  • Voluntarily suspend automatic sprinkler systems except in zones used to grow food;
  • Consider different ways to reduce water waste in your own homes and businesses.

Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition's Annual State-wide Against the Tide Multisport Virtual & In-person Events

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Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC) is hosting its annual, statewide Against the Tide athletic fundraising events as both virtual and in-person events this summer.  
 
MBCC will hold its in-person Cape Cod Against the Tide event on August 13 at DCR’s Nickerson State Park in Brewster for the 23rd year. This event will feature a 1-mile recreational and competitive swim, a ½-mile recreational swim, 5K and 10K runs, a 3-mile walk, and a 1-mile USMS sanctioned swim.
 
Additionally, MBCC is offering participants the option to participate remotely in the Against the Tide August virtual event from August 6–13. The virtual event components include 1-mile recreational or competitive swims, a ½-mile recreational swim, 5K and 10K runs, and a 3-mile walk.
 
Registration for both the virtual and in-person options is $40 for an individual participant, and $100 for a family registration (up to 5 family members). Participants may register as an individual or as part of a team. Participants are encouraged to raise funds beyond the registration fees, as all proceeds support MBCC’s unique goal of breast cancer prevention. All participants will receive an event t-shirt. Prizes will be awarded for the top swim and run finishers of the in-person events. To learn more about all of the registration options or to make a pledge, please visit the MBCC website at www.mbcc.org/swim or call 508-246-3047.
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Alternative House Partners with Pepperell Police Department

LOWELL/PEPPERELL: Alternative House, through a grant from the Greater Lowell Community Foundation’s Nashoba Health Care Grant cycle, formally announced its new partnership with the Pepperell Police Department. With this funding, Alternative House will continue to intensify and expand the tools necessary to assist survivors of domestic violence in the Pepperell community and surrounding areas. Through this partnership, Alternative House will be able to fund training for officers, town employees and community partners, as well as provide safe housing and other assistance to survivors. This funding will also allow Alternative House to provide financial assistance to survivors to fulfill their basic needs.

Alternative House has provided comprehensive domestic violence services in the Greater Lowell area for over 40 years. Founded in 1978, Alternative House has served thousands of survivors of domestic violence. The agency provides not only emergency shelter and 24-hour crisis hotline services, but access to temporary safe housing, transitional/ permanent housing, legal advocacy, supervised visitation services, community/ housing advocacy, support groups, youth and teen programming.

Alternative House also offers daily access to case management, safety planning, and support around goal setting, financial empowerment and job/educational placement.

“This funding will allow us to expand our law enforcement partnership services which include ongoing training and education, moving and relocation planning, financial assistance, lethality assessment work, and community outreach. It is a critically important program to the survivors of domestic violence that we serve,” said Alternative House Executive Director Maria Crooker-Capone. “We know that fleeing an abusive situation is extremely traumatic and overwhelming for families and individuals, and through this program, we can provide them the step-by-step support they may need.”

“We look forward to working with Alternative House,” Chief Scott said. “This partnership helps to fill a void for domestic violence services in our area and connect survivors with the resources they need. Thank you to the Alternative House and the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.”

The mission of Alternative House is to facilitate the creation of a society in which violence and oppression will no longer exist. As a means to this end, we offer access to shelter, support, children’s programming, legal, housing, and community advocacy for all victims of domestic violence (and their children) who seek our help.

We are committed to the empowerment of all victims toward self-sufficiency. We do not discriminate against any race, class, culture, age group or sexual orientation. In addition, we provide community education and support to reform societal attitudes that permit violence and oppression against anyone.

PHOTO: Front row, from left: Camila Lopez, Natalie Bergeron-Tarmey, Sarah Anderson and Kareen St. Vil. Back row, from left: Deputy Police Chief Todd Blain, Officer Jared Carrubba, Detective John Coburn, Office Mike Kenney and Police Chief David Scott. (Courtesy Photo Alternative House)
Some of what's happening in August at Groton Public Library (www.gpl.org)...

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Market decline offers buying opportunities

July 27, 2022

The financial markets have gotten off to a rocky start this year. What’s caused this volatility? And does it present opportunities for patient investors?

First of all, several factors are behind the market volatility, including the war in Ukraine, higher inflation, rising interest rates and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while these factors may be specific to the recent market decline, volatility itself is a common feature of the investment environment. In fact, history shows that corrections of 10% or more happen about every year, and declines of 15% or more have happened every other year, on average. Furthermore, while 2022 has thus far been challenging for investors, it was preceded by a long period of strong markets, with the S&P 500 averaging more than a 20% return over the past three years. 

Knowing the typical frequency of market volatility and reviewing the results of the past few years may make the current situation seem less shocking. But you don’t have to simply “ride out” the downturn – because a down market may give you the opportunity to buy more investment shares at good prices. Specifically, you can expand your holdings in companies that have good growth prospects due to strong management and products or services that provide sustainable competitive advantages. And this type of opportunity is important, because one of the keys to building wealth is to increase the number of shares you own in your various investments and hold them for the long term. While the market will always fluctuate, the long-term trend has been positive, particularly for well-diversified portfolios built with quality investments.       

Of course, while it is a good idea to boost your share ownership at favorable prices, you still want to be strategic about it, rather than just buying whatever seems to be the biggest bargain. In reviewing your existing portfolio, can you identify any gaps that could be filled with new investments? Are there opportunities to further diversify your holdings? By owning different types of stocks, bonds, government securities and other investments, you can help reduce the impact of volatility on your portfolio. (Keep in mind, though, that diversification can’t guarantee profits or prevent losses in declining markets.) Or, if your portfolio has become “unbalanced” in some way, you could also use this time to rebalance it back to its original long-term targets. You might also consider setting up a systematic investing program in which you invest the same amounts in the same investments on a regular basis, such as monthly. When prices go down, you’ll automatically buy more shares, and when prices rise, you’ll buy fewer shares. (However, systematic investing does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss and you’ll need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.)
Before this year, average annual returns have been solid for about a decade, which makes it somewhat easy to forget about normal market volatility and may have led to overly optimistic performance expectations. So, it would not be surprising if your initial reaction to the current downturn is one of concern. But by viewing the current investment environment as a chance to add quality investments at attractive prices, you can help yourself develop a behavior that can serve you well throughout your life as an investor.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC

Leominster Native Participates in World's Largest International Maritime Warfare Exercise

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By Chief Mass Communication Specialist John Sorensen,
Navy Office of Community Outreach

LEOMINSTER: A 2019 Oakmont Regional High School (Westminster) graduate and Leominster, MA native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC). Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Sullivan is a machinist mate aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier operating out of San Diego, CA.

A Navy machinist mate is responsible for for the continuous operation of the many engines, compressors, gears, refrigeration, and air-conditioning equipment along with other types of machinery onboard ships and shore installations.

Aircraft carriers provide unique capabilities and survivability. They are a powerful exhibition of the American Navy's legacy of innovation, technological evolution, and maritime dominance, according to Navy officials. Since USS Langley's commissioning 100 years ago, the nation's aircraft carriers, such as USS Abraham Lincoln, and embarked carrier air wings have projected power, sustained sea control, bolstered deterrence, provided humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maintained enduring commitments worldwide.

"The aircraft carrier is our U.S. Navy's centerpiece, our flagship, and a constant reminder to the rest of the world of our enduring maritime presence and influence," said Rear Adm. James P. Downey, USN, Program Executive Officer (PEO) Aircraft Carriers. "These ships touch every part of our Navy's mission to project power, ensure sea control, and deter our adversaries."

Today, Sullivan uses skills and values similar to those learned in Leominster.

“I grew up knowing what perseverance means,” said Sullivan. “Life isn't always easy, preparation is important. I tell my sailors to never give up. There is always a way to get things done.”

As the world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring safety at sea and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2022 is the 28th exercise in the series that began in 1971.

The theme of RIMPAC 2022 is Capable, Adaptive, Partners. The participating nations and forces exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training program includes gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as amphibious, counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

“Because of RIMPAC I'm able to enjoy this port of call,” said Sullivan. “Seeing new things in Hawaii, exploring the island, meeting people from around the world. It’s really great.”

Serving in the Navy means Sullivan is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“This carrier is kind of like the police force of the oceans,” said Sullivan. “We stand the watch on the international waters so others can rest easy knowing we have their backs.”

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

Hosted by Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2022 will be led by Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, who will serve as Combined Task Force (CTF) commander. Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Robinson will serve as deputy commander of the CTF, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata as the vice commander, and Fleet Marine Force will be led by U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Joseph Clearfield. Other key leaders of the multinational force will include Commodore Paul O’Grady of the Royal Australian Navy, who will command the maritime component, and Brig. Gen. Mark Goulden of the Royal Canadian Air Force, who will command the air component.

“I'm proud of finishing the nuclear pipeline, a two-year course of study which got me ready for my job,” said Sullivan.

During RIMPAC, a network of capable, adaptive partners train and operate together in order to strengthen their collective forces and promote a free and open Indo-Pacific. RIMPAC 2022 contributes to the increased interoperability, resiliency and agility needed by the Joint and Combined Force to deter and defeat aggression by major powers across all domains and levels of conflict.

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Sullivan and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“I feel like being a Navy sailor is more than a job when people thank me and my shipmates for my service,” added Sullivan.

Additional information about RIMPAC is available at http://www.cpf.navy.mil.

PHOTO by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan Carter
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Patton Road Closure July 25-29

AYER: Patton Road will be closed to through traffic July 25-29 from 6pm - 4:30am to facilitate a water main replacement that is being performed for the new Patton Water Treatment Plant. Please avoid the area and follow posted detour signage. Local traffic flow is permissible. If you have any questions, please contact Karen Davis at MassDevelopment - kdavis@massdevelopment.com.

Nashoba Park Assisted Living Earns Platinum SAGECare LGBTQ Credential

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AYER: Nashoba Park Assisted Living recently gained recognition for achieving the Platinum accreditation level for its SAGECare credential. SAGECare is an organization that provides LGBT Cultural Competency training and consulting to service providers. Earning the Platinum credential through SAGECare signifies that at least 80% of Nashoba Park’s staff have been trained to better understand the cultures, needs and concerns of LGBTQ older adults and to navigate the variety of issues surrounding this population.

SAGECare is a division of SAGE, the country’s oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ older adults. The organization’s accreditation process involved an in-person training geared toward Nashoba Park’s team of managers, along with a training module for their frontline associates.  The program educated Nashoba Park associates on a variety of unique issues pertaining to the aging LGBTQ population, including a deeper understanding of why LGBTQ older adults may be reluctant to access much needed services. Completing this training and certification process is part of the Assisted Living Community’s commitment to fostering a welcoming, inclusive and accepting environment for all of its residents. 

Together, Nashoba Park and SAGECare will continue their partnership to serve people with the best care possible and make each older person feel comfortable with who they are. Upon completion of this credential, Nashoba Park aims to further enhance the quality of life of its LGBT community members by ensuring that they feel fully accepted. In following this path, Nashoba Park upholds its mission to maintain the dignity and independence of all its residents, centering on holistic care that considers each unique facet of their identities. 

“SAGECare’s training program aligns perfectly with our number one value: resident quality of life,” said Nashoba Park’s Executive Director, Kimberly Gagnon. “Ensuring that each resident feels fully accepted in our community is our first priority, and having a deeper understanding of the unique identities of older LGBT adults has really broadened the horizons of all Nashoba Park staff. Now, we are eager to implement what we have learned to maintain our high quality of care.”

It is estimated that there are currently around 3 million LGBTQ older adults in the U.S, and that number is expected to grow to around 7 million by 2030 (SAGECare). In completing this credential, Nashoba Park aims to further enhance the quality of life of its LGBTQ community members by ensuring that they feel fully accepted for who they are. 

Learn more online at www.NashobaPark.comIf you would like more information about SAGECare Training, visit sageusa.care.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Strengthen Your ‘Three-legged Stool’ for Retirement

July 18, 2022

For many years, Americans provided for their retirement needs through three sources: employer-sponsored pension plans, Social Security income, and savings and investments accumulated through employer plans or individual accounts – the so-called “three-legged stool.” But today, that stool is shakier than it used to be. What can you do to strengthen it?

To begin with, all three legs of the stool are facing challenges. Let’s consider them:

• Employer pensions – A generation ago, workers employed in many companies could count on a set monthly pension income to help them through their retirement years. Today, pensions – also known as defined benefit plans – are mostly found in public sector employment, as most private-sector employers have replaced their pensions with 401(k) and similar plans. These plans can be quite effective at helping build resources for retirement, but they do place most of the responsibility for saving on the employee.

• Social Security – Social Security has come under financial pressure because the workers-to-retirees ratio has declined significantly, according to the Social Security Administration’s 2021 Board of Trustees Report. A number of proposals have been brought forward on how to improve the long-term financial security of the Social Security system.

• Personal savings and investments – In terms of building savings and investments for retirement, the picture is somewhat mixed. The national savings rate has increased in recent years, but more than half of American workers still say their retirement savings are not where they should be, according to a 2021 survey from Bankrate, a personal finance website. And the same survey found that just over half of investors with a 401(k) or IRA have taken early withdrawals – that is, they withdrew money before they retired. Furthermore, we may be waiting too long even to begin saving/investing for retirement. A survey from Age Wave and Edward Jones found that respondents began saving for retirement at an average age of 38, but the majority said they should have started saving a decade earlier.

You have options for improving some parts of your own three-legged stool. For example, no matter what happens to Social Security, you can still decide when to start taking payments. You can begin collecting benefits as early as 62, but your monthly checks will be larger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be between 66 and 67. You can even delay taking benefits until they “max out” at age 70.

As for a pension, you can’t control what’s available to you through your employer, but you can create your own retirement income stream by contributing as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or other employer-sponsored plan and by increasing your contributions whenever your salary goes up. And you can also contribute to an IRA or other investment vehicle to further boost your retirement funds. Try to leave these accounts intact until you need them for retirement. This will be easier if you’ve built an emergency fund, with the money kept in a liquid, low-risk account, to pay for unexpected costs, such as those resulting from a major car or home repair.

The three-legged stool may not be as universal as it once was – but you can still construct a sturdy structure to support your retirement needs in the future.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, Member SIPC
AYER: Nashoba Park Assisted Living was filled with smiles and delight recently as Sir Erik the alpaca, from Harvard Alpaca Ranch, paid them a special visit. Residents got the wonderful opportunity to connect with the animal, pet his soft fur, and enjoy his calming presence. The gentle, sweet characteristics of alpacas shone through on Sir Erik’s visit to Nashoba Park. Residents at the Assisted Living Community had great fun in his company, and Sir Erik’s soothing, therapeutic effect truly enhanced the community’s day.
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notloB Parlour Concerts presents Hannah O'Brien & Grant Flick

HARVARD: On Tuesday, August 9 at 7:30pm, Hannah O’Brien and Grant Flick (www.obrienflickmusic.com) play a mix of original compositions and traditional pieces from various fiddling traditions at Fivesparks, 7 Fairbank Street. Admission is by free-will offering, suggested donation adults $15-$20; teens and seniors $10; children $5. 100% of patron donations go to the artists. Please make reservations through http://notlobmusic.eventbrite.com.

The duo began collaborating at University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, & Dance in 2019. They found common ground despite coming from different backgrounds with Hannah from Irish fiddling and Grant from American improvisational idioms. In August 2021 they released their first duo record, “Windward.” This album features a collection of their original tunes but also some of their takes on fiddling standards. Their arrangements have been worked up without notation and sometimes incorporate improvised sections. While the duo feels at home on double fiddle, they also change instrumentation often incorporating tenor guitar and  nyckelharpa. Their musical interests are broad and as a result their programs showcase an eclectic assemblage of repertoire.
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Make Your Own Felted Whale! - Virtual Event

LUNENBURG: On Thursday, July 28 from 3-4pm, hang out with the Lunenburg Library virtually and create your own felted whale out of merino wool!  In this class, you'll learn the basics of needle felting. Pop up Art School will show you how to sculpt basic shapes with a barbed needle and how to add the beaded black eyes. Needle felting is fun, relaxing and it’s easier than it looks!  This program is open to teens in Grades 6-12 (ages 12-18).  Registration is required as space is limited. Kits do not come with instructions, so you'll need to attend the Zoom event to complete this craft.  Register by visiting the Events page on the Lunenburg Public Library's website, lunenburglibrary.org, or by emailing Susan at selbag@cwmars.org. 
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Nashoba Park Shows Gratitude for RCAs During CNA Week

AYER: Nashoba Park Assisted Living came together to celebrate National Certified  Nursing Assistants (CNA) Week with a video tribute to their frontline associates featuring the theme “I’m Still Standing” in connection with an  arduous two years under COVID. In the video, Nashoba Park’s residents expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the  dedication, hard work, and graciousness their Resident Care Associates display each day. They  recognized the care that goes into being an RCA and shared messages of love for the  supportive caregiving staff.  

In addition to regular appreciation events, Nashoba Park also offers professional development  opportunities and educational training for associates. Nashoba Park currently offers a variety of opportunities to join their close-knit team. Learn more  and apply online at www.nashobapark.com/careers.

PHOTO: 
L-R: Resident Care Associates Joan Wilcox, Cassia Oliviera and Josana Pires
Some of what's happening in July at Groton Public Library (www.gpl.org)...
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Antique Quilts on Display at the Governor Boutwell House

GROTON: A selection of antique quilts from the Groton History Center’s collection will be on view at the Governor George S. Boutwell House in Groton Center on Saturday, July 16 from 11am to 2pm. Visitors are invited to enjoy the quilts, tour the historic home, and relax in the landscaped grounds. The Boutwell House is at 172 Main Street.

The pristine Greek Revival house was built in 1851 for George S. Boutwell (1818 – 1905), then governor of Massachusetts. On her death in 1933, the Governor’s daughter, Georgiana Boutwell, left the family home and its contents including an extensive trove of artifacts and archives to the Groton Historical Society.

While the 19th- and 20th-century quilts are not original to the house, several, authenticated by the New England Quilt Museum, may as well have been. Quilt aficionadas may recognize antique patterns, among them “Broken Dishes,” and a crazy quilt. Local artisans made and donated the more contemporary quilts on display.

Among its many treasures on view are Governor Boutwell’s desk and accoutrements in his study, the lamp over the dining table, and the Edmund Tarbell paintings, on loan from the Tarbell Trust. The quilts will be shown in the airy drawing room downstairs where Governor Boutwell entertained federal and state officials and dignitaries, including President Ulysses S. Grant for a night in 1869.

For additional information, visit grotonhistory.org, email info@grotonhistory.org, or call 978-448-0092.
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Extended Hours at the Ayer Transfer Station!

AYER: The Ayer Transfer Station will be extending its open hours on Wednesday’s until 7pm beginning on July 6. The Transfer Station will maintain its normal operating hours of 7am to 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Town of Ayer's Transfer Station offers a lower cost alternative to expensive curbside trash collection. The Station, located at 100 Groton Harvard Road, accepts household trash, recyclables, and other waste materials at a centralized location. Access requires an annual permit. Highlights include:
 
  • Pay As You Throw trash bags are used to encourage recycling and allow you to manage your waste disposal costs
  • No additional charge to drop off recycling at our Zero Sort compactor
  • No additional charge for leaf and brush drop off
  • No additional charge for compost disposal
  • The Take It or Leave It shed where you can drop off your used items (good condition) and browse for treasure
  • Disposal of bulk items including appliances, furniture, mattresses and electronics for a nominal fee
  • Disposal of tires (nominal fee) and waste oil (no charge)

If you are interested in more information, visit www.ayer.ma.us/transfer-station or call the DPW at 978-772-8240
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Special Event with Ed the Wizard at LPL

LUNENBURG: Summer Reading has begun!  Stop by the library's Community Room for an amazing program with Ed the Wizard on June 29 - “Reading is Magic”  A message from Ed the Wizard: “Reading is Magic is full of new effects that allow volunteers to help where they are sitting.   Learn how Ed the Wizard learned it all!  Be prepared to volunteer and have fun!  Suitable for all ages.”  Sign up today to attend this fun event: https://lunenburglibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/the-magic-of-reading-with-ed-the-wizard/.
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Orchestra of Indian Hill To Begin 48th Season as Vista Philharmonic Orchestra

GROTON: Groton Hill Music Center has announced that its professional symphony orchestra (formerly Orchestra of Indian Hill) will begin its 48th Season with a new name: Vista Philharmonic Orchestra.

“The Vista Philharmonic Orchestra is our flagship ensemble,” said Lisa Fiorentino, Groton Hill Music Center CEO, “and as we prepare to move to our new home in Groton in September, we’re excited to rebrand our orchestra with a bold artistic vision that will excite our long-time concert-goers and invoke a curiosity among those who are new to symphonic music or new to our orchestra and organization.”


"The name Vista Philharmonic Orchestra says that while we are firmly planted in tradition, our eyes are always on the horizon.” - Maestro Bruce Hangenm
Artistic Director & Conductor Bruce Hangen, who has led the critically-acclaimed Orchestra since 1997, explained the rationale behind the new name: “The word ‘vista’ means many things, from view and outlook to panorama and perspective. Wonderful vistas abound in our new home, which also opens the door to new experiences in music and different perspectives on what live music experiences can be. The name Vista Philharmonic Orchestra says that while we are firmly planted in tradition, our eyes are always on the horizon.” 

The Vista Philharmonic Orchestra will open its season this fall with chamber orchestra concerts in our 300-seat Meadow Hall. Opening weekend features music of Copland and Ravel on Friday, October 21 (sold out) with an encore presentation on Sunday, October 23.  A Christmas-themed concert will take place on Saturday, December 17.

The full orchestra season will begin on Saturday, January 21, 2023 with “Opening Night at the Philharmonic” and the grand opening of The Concert Hall at Groton Hill, our 1,000-seat venue. Maestro Hangen has chosen works by R. Strauss, Mozart, Gabrieli, and Tan Dun, and will conclude the program with Respighi’s spectacular “Pines of Rome.” Other Vista Philharmonic Orchestra season highlights include Rachmaninoff’s ”Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” with renowned pianist Misha Dichter; Saint-Saens’ “Symphony No. 3 with organist Randy Steere; Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7”; Dvorak’s choral masterwork “Te Deum”; and the world premiere of a multimedia commission featuring panoramic photography of the region blended with our live orchestra.

Vista Philharmonic subscriptions for the orchestra season and single tickets for the October and December chamber orchestra concerts are now on sale online.

The Vista Philharmonic Orchestra is comprised of 70 experienced professional musicians who also perform and teach in high-caliber organizations and ensembles throughout New England. The Orchestra is known for performing symphonic classics as well as works by living composers, such as Lera Auerbach, Tan Dun, Oliver Knussen, and Rodion Shchedrin. Guest soloists in past seasons have included principal musicians from the Boston, Philadelphia, and St. Louis Symphonies, plus international soloists Eliot Fisk, Ryu Goto, Irina Muresanu, R. Carlos Nakai, Rachel Barton Pine, Anoushka Shankar, James Walker, and Quartetto Gelato.

The achievements of the Vista Philharmonic Orchestra have been recognized through numerous grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, major corporations and foundations, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Orchestra is a member of the League of American Orchestras.

Opening in September, 2022, Groton Hill Music Center is a gathering place for all to experience the highest quality music education – with private lessons, classes, ensembles, and supplemental learning programs for all ages and abilities; world-class professional performances of all genres — from jazz, global roots, and folk to classical masterworks and chamber music; and impactful outreach programs that share the transformative power of music throughout the community.

Designed by award-winning Epstein Joslin Architects of Cambridge, MA, Groton Hill Music Center is, a stunning 126,000 square foot facility featuring a 1,000-seat Concert Hall; the 300-seat Meadow Hall; 35 multi-scaled rehearsal and teaching spaces; a spacious, light-filled lobby; state-of-the-art acoustics; and dynamic architecture on 110 acres of rolling fields. The organization also worked with one of the nation’s preeminent acousticians, Threshold Acoustics of Chicago, to create an outstanding sound environment designed to enhance performances.  Learn more at https://grotonhill.org/about-us/learn-more.
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Biomimicry for Tweens & Teens: Solutions Inspired by Nature

LUNENBURG: Join Lunenburg Library outdoors in the Children's Garden on Thursday, June 23 from 3-4:30pm as Mass Audubon Wachusett Meadow visits the Lunenburg Public Library to talk about biomimicry in nature!  Open to grades 4-8, registration is required.

This program combines biology and technology to empower everyone to think creatively about making a more sustainable human world. Biomimicry is an emerging discipline of emulating nature's best ideas to solve human problems, turning biological strategies into design principles (like how burdock burrs inspired Velcro).

Using a wide variety of local specimens, our Mass Audubon educator will introduce tweens & teens to local, native plants and animals through hands-on observation and investigation. You'll be able to see, up close, the biological strategies plants and animals use to survive. Participants will learn both about and from the natural world. After a short presentation, participants will pick a human problem and brainstorm ways their nature object may provide solutions.

This program will connect tweens & teens to their local nature and will teach how nature solves problems while empowering everyone to create nature-inspired solutions for a healthy planet!
Register by visiting the Events page on the Lunenburg Public Library's website, lunenburglibrary.org, or by emailing Susan at selbag@cwmars.org.

$100,000 Secured in Senate FY23 Budget To Safely Reopen Ayer Playground
Earmark Will Provide Town with Funds to Reconstruct Kiddie Junction Playground

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AYER: State Senator Jamie Eldridge secured $100,000 to allow Ayer to reconstruct the Kiddie-Junction playground that has been closed. The playground is located at Pirone Park. Last week, the Massachusetts State Senate passed a $49.78 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23). With unanimous support, the budget makes significant, critical and targeted investments in the areas of education, healthcare, housing and community support to meet the on-the-ground challenges brought on by the global pandemic and ongoing financial uncertainty.

In December 2021, the Town of Ayer closed the playground due to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection tests confirming the presence of arsenic contamination. The playground is currently closed, with a metal fence around the entire Ayer Kiddie Junction.

“These critical funds will help support the Town of Ayer rebuild the Ayer Kiddie Junction, to ensure that the playground is safe for children,” stated State Senator Jamie Eldridge. “The Ayer Kiddie Junction is not just a playground for Ayer families, but is popular for families through the Nashoba Valley region, and I’m proud to secure this state funding, to re-open the playground as soon as possible.”

“On behalf of the Ayer Select Board and Town Manager Robert Pontbriand, I’d like to thank Senator Eldridge for his leadership on this important issue for the Town or Ayer. The playground at Pirone Park has been a favorite spot for our residents for decades,” said Carly Antonellis, assistant town manager of Ayer. “We are so excited to upgrade the equipment and remediate the soil, so that future generations can enjoy our beautiful Pirone Park. Our thanks, again, to Senator Eldridge for providing real funding for the Town of Ayer.”

The Senate’s FY23 Budget is available on the Massachusetts legislature’s website, by clicking here. Now that the Senate and Massachusetts House of Representatives have passed their respective budget proposals, both branches will now work together, form a conference committee and reconcile differences.

Senator Eldridge Announces High Quality Summer Learning Grants to the Harvard and Sudbury Public Schools
Public Schools in Sudbury and Harvard will receive funding for comprehensive summer learning opportunities

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HARVARD/SUDBURY: Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) announced recently two grants awarded to Harvard and Sudbury Public Schools by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Sudbury Public Schools were awarded $100,000 and Harvard public schools received $75,000. 
The purpose of this state and federal competitive grant is to support the development and expansion of high-quality, comprehensive summer learning opportunities and partnerships in districts to address both the academic and social-emotional impacts of COVID-19 on students.

“My sincere congratulations to the Sudbury and Harvard school districts, and their educational leaders, on receiving the grant. The fund allows these two schools in the district to create engaging summer programs and support students who may have been impacted by the change in learning in the schools, as a result of the pandemic,” said Senator Eldridge. “I want to thank DESE for its work, and providing these grants to the Harvard and Sudbury schools.”

“The Sudbury Public Schools worked incredibly hard to provide a quality education for all students during the pandemic,” said Representative Carmine Gentile (D-Sudbury).  “I am delighted to learn that they were chosen to receive this grant to further meet the academic and social emotional impacts which COVID-19 had on our students and deliver comprehensive learning opportunities for students this summer” Gentile added.

“I am so glad to see Harvard receive this funding for summer learning offerings,” said Representative Danillo Sena (D- Acton). Expanding educational opportunities for our students is critical, and I am grateful to DESE for awarding Harvard with this grant."

Schools will use the fund to develop a new summer program and offer at least 150 hours of evidence/research-based programming with a focus on academic and social-emotional learning opportunities. With the grant, schools will offer engaging and interactive programming, including enrichment and recreation activities, that will excite and motivate students to attend, build relationships, and promote youth voices.
 

Summer learning will be carried out in a culturally responsive, anti-racist, and welcoming environment, through partnerships with community-based organizations for cost and resource-sharing to address the needs of the district and families. 

A total of $4,000,000 were awarded to schools across the Commonwealth. The funding was made possible through the state’s summer learning budget, federal Elementary & Secondary Education Emergency Relief (ESSER), and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.
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Guides Needed for PACE Water Chestnut Pull Campaign

AYER: PACE (People of Ayer Concerned about the Environment) would like to know if you would be willing to help in the Campaign to remove the horrible invasive Water Chestnut plants from Grove Pond.  They are right now growing in abundance and getting larger every day!

Specifically needed are trained guides in early July, someone(s) who can help guide others in making this an efficient and effective event.  Both land-based and canoe/kayak guides are needed.  Please note: you and your boats will get messy!
 
Training will be provided on June 30 from 8:30am to noon. It will include:
 
  • Safety information;
  • How to identify and properly PULL the plant; and
  • Tackling some logistics together as a team.

If you are willing and able to support this endeavor, you are asked to please sign up for the training as well as signing up for as many sessions on July 7, 8 9 or 10 as you can for the Volunteer PULL Campaign.
 
If you are not able to make the training but would still like to help out, please sign up on the second link for Volunteers.  For more information, contact Laurie Nehring at lnehring100@gmail.com.

Nashoba Park Assisted Living Resident Celebrates Milestone 100th Birthday

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AYER: The end of May was an exciting time for Nashoba Park. Jim Blandino rang in his 100th birthday at the Assisted Living Community he calls home, alongside residents, associates and his wife Helen. The community celebrated the occasion with a special ice cream sundae and heartfelt card signed by Jim’s neighbors and friends. They also gifted him a baseball hat and sash that said “100 Never Looked So Good.”

Jim grew up in Lexington and had a career in high-energy physics. He is an alumni of Harvard and is most proud to have attended this prestigious university. When asked to give some advice on how to live a full life, Jim shared, “If you want to live to 100, you have to live right. Try not to live wild.” Jim also noted that he has always said he would live to be 100, and he is pleased to have done just that.

Nashoba Park Assisted Living Resident Celebrates Milestone 100th Birthday

Jim and helen blandino
AYER: The end of May was an exciting time for Nashoba Park. Jim Blandino rang in his 100th birthday at the Assisted Living Community he calls home, alongside residents, associates and his wife Helen. The community celebrated the occasion with a special ice cream sundae and heartfelt card signed by Jim’s neighbors and friends. They also gifted him a baseball hat and sash that said “100 Never Looked So Good.”

Jim grew up in Lexington and had a career in high-energy physics. He is an alumni of Harvard and is most proud to have attended this prestigious university. When asked to give some advice on how to live a full life, Jim shared, “If you want to live to 100, you have to live right. Try not to live wild.” Jim also noted that he has always said he would live to be 100, and he is pleased to have done just that.
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Groton Conservation Trust Annual Sunset Party June 9

GROTON: Join the Groton Conservation Trust for their annual Sunset Party at The General Field on Old Ayer Road at 6:30pm on Thursday June 9. Bring your own picnic and blankets/chairs, and we'll supply the live music, oysters and great scenery!
 
The Hickory Horned Devils, a local old time, bluegrass and Americana band will perform and promise a down home, rip-snortin' good time! And our friend Chris Frothingham will bring his fresh oysters from Great Road Kitchen.
 
If you're new to Groton, or new to the GCT, this is a fun and relaxing event to meet new friends and neighbors. The General Field is one of the most beautiful spots in Groton, with a big open sky and a spectacular view over acres of green fields. The Sunset Party is GCT's thank you to friends, neighbors and members for their ongoing support.

ShirleyArts! Announces the Return of Summer Youth Musical

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SHIRLEY: ShirleyArts! announced the return of their summer youth musical program! For students ages 9 -17 who enjoy singing, dancing, and acting, this educational program will culminate in three performances of “Roald Dahl's  James and the Giant Peach, Jr.” Shirley residency is NOT required.  All participants must be fully-vaccinated. Please bring your vaccination card to auditions. 

Director/Producer Meredith Marcinkewicz and Stage Manager/Choreographer Merrick Henry will lead the children through auditions, rehearsals, and performances, as well as theater games, music skills, and cooperative team-building activities. Merrick will also serve as health and safety  supervisor. Auditions will be Tuesday, June 21 from 3–5pm and 6–8pm. You only need to attend one session. Please arrive early so parents can help fill out paperwork. No preparation is needed for the audition, but you will be expected to stay for the full 2 hours to have time to  learn a short song and dance and read from the script. The leading roles include - James, the Narrator, two wicked aunts, and five larger-than life insects. Chorus  members will play at least three roles including reporters, sharks, garden club ladies, seagulls, sailors, and  more. Everyone who commits to the rehearsals and performances will be cast in the show. 

Read-through Rehearsal will be Wednesday 6/22 - 1–4pm. As soon as tuition is paid, students will receive a script and rehearsal CD to start working on at home. Rehearsals will be Monday - Friday July 5 - 22 from 1-4pm. Performances July 22 and 23 at 7pm, July 24 at 2pm. 

Auditions, rehearsals, and performances will be held at the Ayer/Shirley Regional Middle School Auditorium,  1 Hospital Road. Participation Fee: Non-members: $200, ShirleyArts! members: $180. (Scholarship money is available.) Tickets to the performances: non-members: $15; ShirleyArts! members: $13.50. Visit www.shirleyarts.info to pay the participation fee via Paypal beginning June 1. Personal checks and cash are also accepted. Contact mmarcinkewicz@shirleyarts.info for a registration form and other information.

Nonprofit Groups Conduct Final Push to Protect Prospect Hill Community Orchard

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HARVARD: The beautiful Prospect Hill Community Orchard in Harvard is one step closer to preservation after a recent Town Meeting vote to appropriate $100,000 of Community Preservation funds towards the purchase of an Agricultural Preservation Restriction on the property, yet there is still more work to be done, according to one partner to the conservation effort.

The orchard, which is located on Prospect Hill Road, has long been part of the agriculture fabric of the region. Its current owners, Community Harvest Project, donate all fruit grown on the land to area food banks. The orchard is also part of a wildlife corridor that includes the Town's Dean's Hill conservation area, Fruitlands Museum, and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge.

A group of conservation partners has been working for several years to permanently protect 70 acres of the orchard from development and ensure the land remains used for agriculture. The protection effort got a boost on May 14, when Harvard voters approved a third round of Community Preservation Act funds for the project. The partners have now secured $2.2 million of the $2.5 million they need.  The Town of Harvard and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) have committed $1.64 million of that total, while three nonprofit organizations—Community Harvest Project (CHP), Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT), and Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT)—have raised over $500,000.

“Thanks to the Commonwealth, Harvard residents, and early donors, we are very close to preserving this important agricultural land,” said Christa Collins, SVT’s Director of Land Protection. “But we are still over $300,000 short. SVT, CHP, and HCT are now seeking additional funds to close the gap.”

For its part, SVT launched a crowdfunding campaign on May 24, with a goal of raising $105,000. Almost immediately, the campaign received a boost from a group of donors who offered to match the next $30,000 in donations.

“We are thrilled by this generous offer,” said Ms. Collins. “It’s always gratifying to hear from private citizens who are committed to protecting our precious open spaces. We hope this challenge match will inspire others to support the project and ensure this healthy orchard continues to provide fresh, local produce forever.”

She concluded, “Everyone who cares about natural areas, local agriculture, and wildlife habitat is encouraged to visit SVT’s website to learn more and support the protection of this land.” www.svtweb.org/phco
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Sandy Pond Beach Reopening

AYER: Sandy Pond Beach will be reopening for swimming on May 28.  It will be open on weekends through June 20, and will be open daily from that point until Labor Day, September 5.  Hours for swimming will be from 12pm-7pm. Swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty.

During the swim season, use of Sandy Pond Beach is free to residents.  Non-residents may use Sandy Pond Beach for a daily fee of $8; $5 for children. Residents must show an ID or Sandy Pond Beach access card to be admitted without paying a fee.  Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.  Parking at the Sandy Pond Beach lower parking area is limited to residents who have a Sandy Pond Beach parking sticker.  Sandy Pond Beach access cards and parking stickers can be obtained at Town Hall or the Beach facility during hours of operation.
 
  • No smoking allowed.
  • No dogs are allowed.
  • Please use only US Coast Guard approved flotation devices.

For more information call the Parks Department at (978) 796-5915 or email parks@ayer.ma.us.  
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Nashua Street Culvert Replacement

AYER:The Ayer Department of Public Works will be replacing the culvert on Nashua Street between Howard and Taft Street.Work is tentatively scheduled to begin Thursday, May 26 and is anticipated to last a week.
 
The road will be closed to through traffic during construction hours and reopened at the end of the day. The road will be open to the local residents and public safety vehicles during construction. A detour will be setup using Pleasant Street, as per the attached image.

The Ayer DPW appreciates your cooperation during this important infrastructure project. If you have any questions, please call the Ayer DPW at 978-772-8240 (7:30 to 3:30) or email DPW@ayer.ma.us.

Abstractionist Kellie Weeks Challenges Us with New Works at Gallery Sitka East

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SHIRLEY: Abstract-Expressionist painters have a unique opportunity that most other artists never seem to be able to pull off. They are constantly calling on us from two different directions — toward the concrete reality we see around us every day and the elusive dream world, both waking and sleeping, that is always fighting for our attention. That dynamic interplay is offered in several new works of painter Kellie Weeks starting June 3 at Gallery Sitka East.

“My paintings are intuitively created using color, line, and form,” Kellie explains. She seems to want to perceive more and more about the world around her — including that of which we can often catch only fleeting glimpses. Cynics and materialists generally dismiss such interests as pop philosophy or pseudo-science. But this artist — and perhaps all abstract-expressionists a good deal more than  representationally inclined artists — does not make judgments about what we might be able to perceive before we even start looking. Such artists just start looking.

One of Kellie’s primary goals is to achieve what she calls “spiritual illumination.” This phrase implies that light, as it were, can be thrown onto aspects of what we may call (for lack of a better word) spirit. Our emotional and intellectual interests and obsessions may be part of this search for the spiritual, but there are many perceptions that we come across only briefly or indirectly. Our dreams or our intuitions of various kinds might be examples of this. Artists seem to be more sensitive to such perceptions than most people are.

Kellie muses, “As we balance the tightrope between birth and death, we continually readjust what it means to be in the here and now.” Life itself is that tightrope. The metaphor is a very stark one, and obviously somewhat frightening. The present is a hectic mixture of memories, fears, hopes, daydreams (and nightdreams), as well as immediate concerns of the moment. All these influences are continually pushing and shoving artists around to acknowledge many different kinds of perceptions, and of different ways of expressing them in their artwork.

Sometimes we are roughed up by all those thoughts and feelings, and sometimes we are comforted by them. Abstract art is one of the few ways human beings have to express the totality of that mix of perceptions and emotions. In her paintings, Kellie is capturing a moment in that jumble. Abstraction, however, does not try to explain the experience in rational terms. It does not merely “re-present” the objects that the artist looks at, but instead goes straight to the thoughts and feelings aroused by the world around her and expresses them in pure form and color.

Kellie has worked primarily in encaustic over the last ten years or so. But recently she has been working with oils and cold wax, which is new for her and has presented new challenges and new joys. She has confronted other changes during the last year too. Although her basic approach has continued to be abstract, she has been developing more and more in the general area of floral still life.

Yet the representational still life works of this show seem to occupy both worlds. “Reaching,” for example, clearly presents us with a form that can be described in geometrical terms as an upwardly expanding cylinder. Most of us, however, would see it and simply say, “It’s a vase.” We might also regard the field of dark color in the lower part of the picture in geometrical terms — it is a mass of brown and grey aligned horizontally below a background of thrillingly bright colors above. But we’d also be tempted to simply say, “It’s a table.” But where the “flowers” ought to be, contained in that vase, we don’t in fact see flowers. Rather, we see a burst of orange and pink that may as well be described as fire. Yet we cannot be quite so glib about that judgment, because that bright color merges with its own background of yellow and white and a very, very faint blue that doesn’t remind us of fire at all. The cumulative effect of the painting is both to comfort and confuse us. On the one hand, we can say, “This is a picture of a vase set on a table.” But we can also describe it as a battle between dark colors pulling the image down in the lower half of the painting and bright colors blasting it up in the upper half. The painting is itself a sort of competition between representation and abstraction, and it doesn’t really allow us to complacently dismiss it as one artistic approach or the other. It continues to fight its own little battle within itself and keeps pulling us in, involving us and challenging us.

While “Reaching” provides us with the impression of flowers — or rather an imaginative reinterpretation of flowers — “Lil Happening” gives us flowers straight up. While the other picture shows us flowers turned into fire right before our eyes, this painting shows us what we might go so far as to recognize as tulips. The paint is applied liberally to the surface, so that the picture takes on the character of a sculpted relief that we are accustomed to seeing in oils. There is a richness here, a concrete quality that differs greatly from the imaginative, fleeting quality of the flowers turned to fire. These rich, plump petals almost “feel” comforting, like a big meal, while the fiery flowers are full of spice — a sort of assault on the senses. The artist displays a versatility here that seems to come from the very act of confronting very different experiences. The flowers on fire are liable to scare us a little, perhaps primarily because the image itself is fleeting, like an elusive memory or the fragment of a dream only half-remembered. The lush, light-raspberry-colored flowers, by contrast, are no threat at all. They put us at our ease. They make us smile.

This exhibition of new works of Kellie Weeks will open at Gallery Sitka East from 4:30-6:30pm on Friday, June 3. Art lovers can find more information about Kellie and her work at www.gallerysitka.com and at sites such as artsy.net and instragram.com, among others.
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notloB Parlour Concerts Presents Evie Ladin

HARVARD: On Thursday, June 9, Banjo player, singer, songwriter, percussive-dancer, choreographer and square-dance caller, Evie Ladin will be performing at Fivesparks, located at 7 Fairbank Street at 7:30pm. Ladin has always been surrounded by music – credit to her upbringing as daughter of an international folk dance teacher, and an old-time folk music devotee, she grew up thinking that playing music, dancing, singing with others was what people do.  Though entrenched in the traditional cultural arts of Appalachia, her home was in New York City, Baltimore, now Oakland – in cities, not mountains. But tradition bearers came through and played in her living room, with weekends spent at music festivals and house parties.  Evie’s performances, recordings and teaching reconnect Appalachian music/dance with other African-Diaspora traditions, and have been heard from A Prairie Home Companion to Lincoln Center, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass to Celtic Connections. Evie tours internationally with Keith Terry and her Evie Ladin Band; and has  produced numerous albums and instructional DVDs.

Writing clever, engaging songs, for her neo-trad kinetic roots band with Keith Terry & Erik Pearson, in 2019 they released two CDs: the band’s fourth album of adventurous originals, Caught On A Wire, and Riding the Rooster, totally traditional, raging fiddle/banjo duets, quickly followed by a 2020 EP of favorite cover songs Playing Our Hand. In the percussive dance world, Evie directs the moving choir MoToR/dance for live performance and award winning dance films Ain’t No Grave and The Storm, is Executive Director, artist and choreographer with the International Body Music Festival, and an ace freestyle flatfooter. She is a 2020 Jubilation Fellow, awarded to artists with an exceptional talent for bringing joy to people through music and movement. In the traditional music world, Evie calls rowdy community square dances, and teaches clawhammer banjo, old time harmony singing and more. An electric and entertaining live performer, Evie really enjoys balancing performance with facilitating arts learning in diverse communities.

Admission is by free-will offering, adults $20+, teens and seniors $15, well-behaved children $10 suggested. 100% of the donations go to the artist. Please make reservations online at http://notlobmusic.eventbrite.com
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Spring Auction to Benefit the Healing Garden Cancer Support Center

HARVARD: The Healing Garden will be hosting an online fundraising Auction May 22 through May 26. The public is welcome to bid on many fabulous items such as; trips (Captiva, Nantucket), experiences (Fly Fishing, Wine Tasting, Forest Bathing), services (Acupuncture, Massage) and beautiful items (handmade jewelry, art) which have been donated by local businesses and supporters of the Healing Garden. Items are being added daily to the auction. Visit the Healing Gardens website and follow the links to view and bid on the auction items!  All proceeds from the auction benefit cancer programs, which are offered free of charge, to cancer clients and their caregivers.

The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden Cancer Support Center is a nonprofit
organization dedicated to providing integrative cancer care through therapeutic services and educational programs for all people in Massachusetts with a cancer diagnosis. For more information, visit www.healinggardensupport.org or call (978) 456-3532.
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Town of Ayer DPW YouthWorks Program Accepting Applications for Summer 2022

AYER: The Town of Ayer Department of Public Works is accepting applications for DPW YouthWorks Program. YouthWorks is a four-week summer job program for Ayer and Shirley residents who will be at least 14 as of June 27 and will be enrolled in high school next year.  The goal of the Program is to serve as a young person’s first job experience and provide exposure to the world of work and job responsibilities.
 
Participants will work on supervised public works related jobs throughout the Town for two four (4) week sessions June 27 through July 22 and July 25 through August 19.  Participants will work 30 hours per week and earn minimum wage during their time in the Program.  The Program provides four workers per session with one supervisor; tools, transportation, and personal safety equipment will be provided by the Ayer DPW.

How do you apply?  Download the application form here.  Applications are due by June 3, 2022.
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Ayer Crafts Gathering Program:
Make a Card...Take a Card!

AYER: Make and take some beautiful handmade cards during the Ayer Crafts Gathering at Stone Soup Kitchen, 41 Littleton Road! On Saturday May 14, from 10am to noon, Debbie will be guiding beginners through the process of making creative cards and other artwork, with many new materials and tools supplied through a grant by the Ayer Cultural Council. Children are welcome, along with their adults. Drop in as you choose, or stay for the whole event! Those who have attended the monthly Gatherings before can tell you that they're fun, but wait till you see all the new supplies! For parking, pull into the large lot in the back, and head for the door by the accessibility ramp.
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Cannon Theatre Presents The 39 Steps in New Devens Theater Space

DEVENS: The Cannon Theatre is presenting The 39 Steps, a parody adapted by Patrick Barlow from the 1915 novel by John Buchan and the 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock. This production is directed by Erik P. Kraft, and features a brilliant cast of 7 actors playing almost 150 characters: heroes, villains, men, women, children, and even the occasional inanimate object. This often requires lightning-fast quick-changes and occasionally for the actors to play multiple characters at once. Thus the film's originally serious spy story is played now mainly for laughs, and the script is full of allusions to (and puns on the titles of) other popular Hitchcock films.

This work will be staged in The Cannon Theatre’s brand new performance space in Devens, which opened in early April 2022 after a 2-year pandemic hiatus thanks to the kindly donated architectural services by studio J2, and very generous funding from The Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation. Join them in celebrating this wonderful new arts venue, and the madcap fun May 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm; May 14, 15, 21, and 22 at 2:00 pm. 

Tickets are available online at www.thecannontheatre.org, and are $25 for adults; $20 for students/seniors.

Construction Update - East Main Street Reconstruction Project FINAL PAVING

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AYER: The East Main Street Reconstruction Project is nearing completion. The following work is anticipated this week. Note, the work is weather dependent and schedule could change.
 
Wednesday, May 4:
  • The Contractor will conduct pavement milling of the side streets and approaches to East Main Street. Approximately 50-feet of each side street will be milled.
  • No detours are planned.
  • Thursday May 5th:
  • The Contractor will pave top course of the side streets.
  • No detours are planned.

Friday May, 6:
  • The Contractor will pave top course on East Main Street
  • In order to complete this work quickly and before the weekend, work will begin at 6am. A detour in the westbound direction (i.e. from the Rotary toward Main Street) will be clearly marked on Sandy Pond Road, Central Avenue, and Columbia Street.
  • Eastbound traffic will be accommodated on East Main Street as one lane will be paved at a time.
  • There will be traffic delays. Seek alternative routes. Police details will be onsite to direct traffic and detour signage is in place.
  • The road will be open to local traffic, the Ayer Town Library, Pirone Park and Ayer Court House.

This project is being managed by MassDOT and the Ayer DPW will be providing construction updates to provide work status and traffic impacts.
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MCC Mechanical Engineering Student Places First in U.S. Competition

LUNENBURG: Middlesex Community College Mechanical Engineering student Isaac Venezia of Lunenburg won first place at the 2022 American Technical Education Association (ATEA) 3 D Futures Competition. His award-winning project was a 3D printed robotic arm that he designed and built himself. For his achievement, Venezia will receive $1,500 and Middlesex will get a plaque.

“I am very honored to receive first place,” Venezia said. “Competitions like this are important because they allow students to apply the theoretical concepts learned in courses to physical projects. Opportunities like this can help a student gain experience and recognition.”

Venezia started at Middlesex as a Dual Enrollment high school student. After buying a 3D printer, he signed up for the Solid Modelling I course taught by Cristopher Algarra, MCC’s Chair of Engineering. Venezia’s goal was to learn more about 3D printing and its accompanying program SolidWorks.

“Professor Algarra wants his students to succeed and is always willing to give us opportunities to go above and beyond the course requirements,” he said. “I am very grateful for the help, encouragement and opportunities he has given me.”

Throughout the semester, Venezia would talk through his project with Algarra and show him the updated versions. While Algarra helped him complete the video and application, Algarra believes it is Venezia’s self-determination that won him the prize. “My main goal here was motivating him to continue engaging with the work,” Algarra said. “I’ve been working in the mechanical engineering area for a long time, he’s very advanced. He wants to learn, so I give him all the resources we have available.”

The project went through a series of changes before Venezia submitted the final product. One of the first stages was a robotic gripper, that turned into a small robot arm, and ended up as a larger
arm. To make it work, Venezia used “stepper motors” and designed his own 3D printed gear reductions with timing belts and worm gears – something that he calls “far more difficult” than the first version of his project.

It was Algarra who inspired Venezia to enter the competition. From the start of his time at MCC, he has helped his students to extend their learning outside of the classroom. In 2019, he led his students to a third-place win at the ATEA competition. “Winning competitions sets an example of the quality of students we have at the community level,” Algarra said. Algarra believes that these experiences also give students the opportunity to practice using programs before transferring to four-year institutions. In addition to providing a competitive edge
when applying for jobs, it shows them how to follow guidelines in the same way they would in a job and connects students to real-world experiences. Venezia said, “It certainly inspires me to continue learning and working on engineering projects.”
Prospect hill community orchard photo by chp

Protection of Prospect Hill Community Orchard on Harvard Town Meeting Warrant

HARVARD: During their 2022 Town Meeting on May 14, Harvard voters can take another important step toward the protection of Prospect Hill Community Orchard on Prospect Hill Road. Article 21 will ask residents to contribute $100,000 of Community Preservation Act funds toward the purchase of an agricultural preservation restriction on 75 acres of the orchard. This will bring the Town’s total contribution to $400,000, which will combine with $2.1 million from the Commonwealth and private donors to permanently conserve the land for agricultural use. More details are available at www.svtweb.org/phco.
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Construction Update - East Main Street Reconstruction Project

AYER: The East Main Street Road Reconstruction Project is nearing completion. The following work is anticipated in the coming weeks:
 
  • Remainder of this week (thru April 29): The Contractor will be adjusting manholes and catch basin grates to proper elevation for final grade.
  • Week of May 2: The Contractor will conduct pavement milling of the side streets connecting to East Main Street. Approximately 50-feet of each side street will be milled from East Main Street.
  • Week of May 9th: The Contractor will perform final paving. Additional notices will be distributed prior to final paving to indicate any traffic detours required. After paving there will be signage, pavement markings, and other finishing work.

Please travel with caution during construction.  This project is being managed by MassDOT and the Ayer DPW is providing construction updates to provide work status and traffic impacts.
If you have any questions, please contact the Department of Public Works at 978-772-8240.
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Folk Revivalist David Massengill Solo Acoustic Concert in Harvard

HARVARD: Mark your calendars for a unique acoustic concert experience on May 6 at Fivesparks when notloB Parlour Concerts will present the one and only David Massengill. Massengill, storyteller, songwriter and picture-book maker, “emigrated” from Bristol, Tennessee to the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1976 with a dulcimer and a dream of bohemian nirvana. He was a key figure in Jack Hardy’s Fast Folk which featured Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin and which produced 115 issues of The Fast Folk Musical Magazine, now part of the Smithsonian collection.

Massengill’s song-writing style ranges from tragic mountain ballads to the lure of tender love songs and iconic political narratives. “The Great American Dream”, written in Reagan’s America with each verse sung in the voice of a different worker, is even more poignant today. His songs have been recorded by Joan Baez, David Bromberg, Chad Mitchell, the Roches, Lucy Kaplansky, Tom Russell, Nanci Griffith and his mentor, Dave Van Ronk.

Massengill's best-known songs include: "On The Road to Fairfax County", recorded by The Roches and by Joan Baez; "The Great American Dream," performed with Joan Baez and others at a tribute to Mike Porco, former owner of the famed Greenwich Village club Gerde's Folk City; and "My Name Joe", about an illegal immigrant restaurant worker. For some years after he began recording, Massengill maintained a day job as a restaurant dishwasher. He also contributed his poignant dulcimer-centered version of "The Crucifixion" to 2001's multi-artist double-disc tribute to Phil Ochs, What's That I Hear.

In addition to his skills as a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and both virtuoso and educator on the Appalachian dulcimer, he is also a prolific author-illustrator of pocket-sized children's books and has performed and recorded children's music. Massengill toured frequently with long-time friend and fellow songwriter Jack Hardy as a duo called the Folk Brothers, until Hardy's death in 2011. As a music educator, Massengill is famed for presenting his "Taking the Dull out of Dulcimer" workshops at festivals and music gatherings around North America, and is one of the instrument's prime proponents in the field of melding traditional and contemporary music styles (including alternate tunings); and is a mentor to many in the dulcimer and folk community in general.

Concert admission is by free-will offering, adults $20+, teens and seniors $15, well-behaved children $10 suggested. Please make reservations online at http://notlobmusic.eventbrite.com. The concert will be presented at FIVESPARKS, 7 Fairbanks Street, the restored 1890 town library building. Doors Open at 7pm. The gallery capacity is 90, but will be reduced by 50% as a COVID precaution. Read the Fivesparks COVID policy at www.fivesparks.org/covid-19.
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Ayer CPA Updating the 5 year Community Preservation Plan

AYER: Ayer's Community Preservation Committee is updating the 5 year Community Preservation Plan, which is used to guide the allocation of Community Preservation Act Funds. The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) would like your input to help determine goals and priorities for allocating CPA funds in the four CPA funding categories: 1) active outdoor recreation; 2) community housing; 3) historic preservation; 4) open space and passive recreation. There will be a Virtual Public Forum on May 4 at 7pm. To register for this event please click here.

The CPA Survey will be open until Friday, May 13, and the results will be used to guide the development of the goals and strategies of the updated Community Preservation Plan.
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6th Annual Clear Path for Veterans New England Motorcycle Ride 5/22

WINCHENDON/DEVENS: Along with American Veterans Motorcycle Club (AVMC), join in on May 22 at 9am for the 6th Annual Clear Path for Veterans New England Motorcycle Ride to the Veterans Cemetery in Winchendon. This ride will take place through some of the most scenic roads in the area. Pre-purchased tickets are entered into a drawing and one lucky winner will receive a great prize. Riders - $20; Non-Riders and Passengers - $15. All proceeds benefit Veterans in the local area through programs and services provided by Clear Path for Veterans New England. Join us to learn more about this great organization. THE EVENT IS RAIN OR SHINE! For tickets or to make a donation, visit https://give.clearpathne.org/event/armed-forces-motorcycle-ride/e396602
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Fitchburg Art Museum’s Beloved Summer Tradition Returns

FITCHBURG: Calling all artists who live or work within 30 miles of Fitchburg! Apply now to be a part of one of the oldest juried exhibitions in New England— the 86th Regional Exhibition of Art & Craft at the Fitchburg Art Museum! This annual tradition celebrates the creativity of artists in the community, and they're thrilled to have Jameson Johnson, founder and editor-in-chief of Boston Art Review, as this year's juror. For more information about the jurying process, eligibility, registration, and more, click here.
 
The deadline to register and submit your artwork is May 22, 2022. The registration fee is $30, which includes a one-year individual membership to the Fitchburg Art Museum. 
 
The exhibition opens Friday, June 24 and closes on Sunday, September 4.
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Construction Notification - Birch and McDowell Water and Drain Improvements

AYER: The Ayer Department of Public Works (DPW) will be replacing the water main on Birch and McDowell Streets from the intersections of Sandy Pond Road to the dead ends. This project will replace the aging pipe with a new 6-inch ductile iron water main. New water services to the houses will be installed from the new water main to the property line (property line to the house is the homeowners’ responsibility). New drainage structures will also be installed within the right-of-way at the beginning of each street.
Work will begin in late April and is anticipated to last 6-8 weeks. Work will begin with installation of temporary water main, followed by replacement of the water main and water services. The temporary water main will be installed just off the edge of the road, some pavement cutting may be required. The temporary pipe will be buried in shallow trenches or installed at grade and covered for a proper ramp across driveways. If required, the DPW will coordinate with homeowners to transfer to the temporary water main. Additional construction notices will be distributed as the work progresses.
The road will be open to the local residents and public safety vehicles but expect delays.

The Ayer DPW appreciates your cooperation during this important infrastructure project. If you have any questions, please call the Ayer DPW at 978-772-8240 (7:30am to 3:30pm) or email dvanschalkwyk@ayer.ma.us.

Tweens & Teens Cooking Program at Lunenburg Public Library

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LUNENBURG: Hey Tweens & Teens! Do you enjoy good food? Like to cook? Join the Lunenburg Public Library's series of cooking classes with Brittany, a Registered Dietitian with Hannaford's Supermarket! Classes will be held virtually from 4:30-5:30pm on Thursdays, May 5-26. Brittany will walk through how to prepare delicious and healthy dishes inspired by your favorite Disney movies! Weekly recipes and lists of needed ingredients will be supplied by the library so that you will be prepared to fully participate in each class. Registration is necessary and the age requirement is 10-14 (grades 4-8). Please note that each class has a separate registration. Register for 1, 2, or all of them! There must be adult supervision for these classes as students will be using kitchen tools and a stove for preparing their recipes. The good news? The goal for each class is to prepare a dish for that night's dinner! Register by visiting www.lunenburglibrary.org, or by emailing Susan at selbag@cwmars.org.