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Construction Update - Ayer West Main Street Infrastructure Project

AYER: The Ayer West Main Street Infrastructure Project is continuing. Below is an update of work completed to date. Completed-to-date:
 
  • Water infrastructure replacement
  • Drainage infrastructure replacement
  • Roadway milling
  • Sidewalk and curb removal

Upcoming Work this Fall:
 
  • Shared-Use Path Construction
  • Verbeck Gate Improvements
  • Binder course pavement of Sculley Road and West Main Street
  • Winterize project (e.g. adjust structures, secure area (driveway aprons, hydrants, etc.)

Unfortunately, they did not receive the curbing that was secured for the project. The curbing supply company had issues and was unable to fulfill their project orders. This has impacted several projects across the region, including this project. They have secured curbing from another source, but it will not be delivered until early next year. Curbing for the project will be installed first thing in the Spring, followed by sidewalks and road top course.

When paving work is scheduled, advance notice of any traffic impacts will be given.
The Town appreciates your cooperation during this important infrastructure project. If you have any questions, please call the Ayer DPW at (978) 772-8240 (7:30am-3:30pm) or email DPW@ayer.ma.us.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Should you Stick with Index-based Investments? 

September 21, 2022
 
You may have heard that you can simplify your investment strategy just by owning index-based or passive investments. But is this a good idea? You’ll want to consider the different aspects of this type of investment style. 
 
To begin with, an index-based investment is a vehicle such as a mutual fund or an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that mimics the performance of a market benchmark, or index — the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and so on. (An ETF is similar to a mutual fund in that it holds a variety of investments but differs in that it is traded like a common stock.) You can also invest in index funds that track the bond market. 
 
Index investing does offer some benefits. Most notably, it’s a buy-and-hold strategy, which is typically more effective than a market-timing approach, in which individuals try to buy investments when their prices are down and sell them when the prices rise. Attempts to time the market this way are usually futile because nobody can really predict when high and low points will be reached. Plus, the very act of constantly buying and selling investments can generate commissions and fees, which can lower your overall rate of return. Thus, index investing generally involves lower fees and is considered more tax efficient than a more active investing style. Also, when the financial markets are soaring, which happened for several years until this year’s downturn, index-based investments can certainly look pretty good — after all, when the major indexes go up, index funds will do the same.
 
Conversely, during a correction, when the market drops at least 10% from recent highs, or during a bear market, when prices fall 20% or more, index-based investments will likely follow the same downward path. 
 
And there are also other issues to consider with index-based investments. For one thing, if you’re investing with the objective of matching an index, you may be overlooking the key factors that should be driving your investment decisions — your goals and your risk tolerance. An index is a completely impersonal benchmark measuring the performance of a specific set of investments — but it can’t be a measuring stick of your own progress.
 
Furthermore, a single index, by definition, can’t be as diversified as the type of portfolio you might need to achieve your objectives. For example, the S&P 500 may track a lot of companies, but they’re predominantly large ones. And to achieve your objectives, you may need a portfolio consisting of large- and small-company stocks, bonds, government securities and other investments. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can give you more opportunities for success and can reduce the effects of volatility on your portfolio, it can’t guarantee profits or prevent all losses.)

Ultimately, diversifying across different types of investments that align with your risk tolerance and goals — regardless of whether they track an index — is the most important consideration for your investment portfolio. Use this idea as your guiding principle as you journey through the investment world. 
 
This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor: Marshall-Ben Tisdale,Westford, MA  - www.EdwardJones.com/Marshall-Ben-Tisdale, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
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Clear Path for Veterans New England Journey Home 5K/10K Run

DEVENS: Mark your Calendars - Clear Path for Veterans New England Journey Home 5K/10K Run will take place November 13 starting at 8am at 84 Antietam Street. Each year around Veterans Day, gather in Fort Devens, to help toe the line in support of Veterans and First-Responders. Run or walk a beautiful 5K/10K course and honor the bravest among us!  Run and walk together, and then celebrate at the finish line in honor of that that gave so much. Post-race celebration hosted by our friends at Columbia Tavern (Leominster) and Yuengling! For more information or to sign up, please go to www.Journeyhomerace.com.
 

Friends of Thayer Memorial Library Host Annual Book Sale

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LANCASTER: The Friends of the Thayer Memorial Library  will hold their Annual Book Sale September 30-October 2, as well as Columbus Day weekend, October 8 & 9 at Old Lancaster Town Hall, 695 Main Street. Friday hours are 3-7pm, Saturdays are 9am-4pm, Sundays 12-4pm. ‘Fill a bag’ is being offered throughout the event. All proceeds benefit books, programs and events at the library. This event is held annually in conjunction with the Horseshed Fair. Here’s your chance to help support your community library and take home some needed books for the cold months. Friends Members receive $5 off per bag the first weekend so if you are not already a member, you may become one at the sale. Credit cards are again accepted this year. Over 600 boxes of books, DVDs and CDs are available and sorted into categories. September 30 is $25/bag; October 1 $20/bag; October 2 $15/bag; October 8 $10/bag; & October 9 $5/bag. Otherwise, hardcover books are $2, trade softcovers $1.50 and standard paperbacks $0.50. Volunteers from the Friends provide staffing during the sale and help sort the books prior to the sale. If you would like to volunteer or to donate, email FriendsofTML@gmail.com.
 
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10th Annual Craft Festival at Fruitlands Museum is Back

HARVARD: The 10th Annual Craft Festival at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard is back September 24 & 25, after a 2-year Covid-19 hiatus! Fruitlands Museum picturesque grounds, overlooking the Nashoba Valley and the New Hampshire mountains, will come alive with two 140’ x 40’ festival tents featuring 48 juried New England Artisans. The show’s quality of handmade craft, museum offerings, and stunning views has made the festival a popular September destination. It is the perfect event for a fall outing to plan your holiday gifts for family and friends. Admission to the Festival includes entry to Fruitlands Museum galleries, historic structures, exhibits, and trails. Transportation via golf cart is available from the parking field to the festival enclosures if needed. Food is available from local food vendors, ice cream, coffee trucks and The Hyve at the Fruitlands Café. Under the cover of tents, this event is rain or shine! See the full list of participating artists and artisans and register online at https://thetrustees.org/program/2022-fruitlands-craft-festival.
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Nashoba Park Celebrates Grandparents Day

AYER: At Nashoba Park Assisted Living in Ayer, they had a great time kicking off National Assisted Living Week with a Grandparents Day celebration on September 11! Family and friends of residents visited while enjoying the entertainment of musical duo Rivers Between. Pictured herein is Nashoba Park resident Lila Ansbacher with daughter Karen Liljegren and granddaughter Annika Liljegren.

Established by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) in 1995, National Assisted Living Week® provides a unique opportunity for residents, their loved ones, staff, volunteers, and the surrounding communities to recognize the role of assisted living in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities. The annual observance encourages assisted living communities around the country to offer a variety of events and activities to celebrate the individuals they serve, as well as to help educate members of the public about this distinctive aspect of long term care.
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Take a Tour of Shaker Road in Shirley Village

SHIRLEY: Shaker Road in Shirley Village leads to the site of the former Shaker Village. Believers in Christ lived, worked, and worshipped together here from 1794 – 1908, erecting buildings and farming the land.  Then the Shaker property was sold to the state of Massachusetts and for over 100 years it was used first as a reform school for boys and then as a state prison.

The Department of Corrections allows the Shirley Historical Society to lead tours of the site on specific days.
The two hour tours in 2022 will be held on Sundays  September 18, October 9 and October 23 starting at 12:30pm. There must be a minimum of 8 people in order to run each tour.  Private tours may be arranged for groups of 8 or more on an agreed-upon Sunday afternoon.

The tour begins inside a Shaker building with an illustrated lecture on the history of the Shakers and the Shirley Shaker Village. Visitors go inside two other Shaker buildings and travel by prison van to various locations around the property.

Reservations must be made in advance for a cost of $20 per person, or $15 for Historical Society members. Mail payment and contact information to Shirley Historical Society, PO Box 217, Shirley, MA 01464. Email mail@shirleyhistory.org with any questions.

Groton Hill Music Center is Now Open; Public Free Class Day Event

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GROTON: For the past several years, residents of Groton and surrounding towns just west of I-495 have watched something new and exciting growing on the horizon. The architecturally stunning, 126,000 square foot Groton Hill Music Center, now open for music lessons, invites the community to explore free classes for all ages in abilities during its Free Class Day event on October 1 and 2, from 9am-4pm. Participate in free classes and ensembles, explore the school and its offerings, and enjoy refreshments and arts and crafts activities for kids. Registration is required for this event, located at Groton Hill Music Center, 122 Old Ayer Road.  Learn more about Free Class Day, view classes, and register at grotonhill.org/freeclassday.
 
Explore a wide range of programs for all ages and abilities, including the popular Music for Aardvarks and Drum Buddies early childhood classes, the regional youth chorus, beginner instrument classes for young learners or adults, theory and songwriting classes, ensembles in all styles for teens and adults, and more. Motivated young classical musicians can attend an open rehearsal with Groton Hill’s high-level regional Youth Orchestras and Youth Wind Ensembles. All ages can explore instruments with Groton Hill’s vendor partners: David French Music, Bridges & Bows, M. Steinert & Sons, and NUVO instruments.
 
“We are thrilled to finally be open in Groton, and to be expanding the breadth and depth of the educational programming we’ve provided in the area for over 35 years,” said Pete Robbins, the Center’s Director of Education and Non-Orchestral Performance Programming. “To be able to invite the community to participate in our vision for music education in this incredible space is an absolute dream come true,” he said.
 
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; impactful outreach programs that share the transformative power of music throughout the community with a focus on the underserved; and world-class professional performances of all genres - from jazz, global roots, folk, rock, country, and contemporary music to classical masterworks and chamber music - in its two world-class performance halls. The building is designed to be a connected environment that creates opportunities for musicians, educators, students, and audience members to encounter, engage with, and inspire one another as a singular music community.
 
Learn more about music education programs, performances, and community engagement programs at grotonhill.org or call (978) 486-9524.
 
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Harmful Algae Bloom Present at Sandy Pond

AYER: IMPORTANT NOTICE: Sandy Pond (including the Town Beach) is CLOSED effective immediately for all swimming and recreational activities due to the presence of a harmful algae bloom known as cyanobacteria per an inspection by the Board of Health and confirmed by the State.  Sandy Pond (including the Town Beach) is closed until further notice.  For questions or concerns please contact Bridgette Braley, Health Agent at 978-772-3335 ext. 303.  Thank you for your attention and cooperation.
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Ayer Road Detour: September 11 & 12

HARVARD/AYER: IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Town of Harvard will be milling Ayer Road from the Ayer Town Line to Route 2 beginning at 6:30pm on September 11. Milling of Ayer Road from the Ayer town line to Route 2 will start on Sunday (9/11/22) 6:30pm to Monday 5:30am and Monday (9/12/22) 6:30pm to Tuesday 5:30am.  A detour will be in place for the traffic SOUTHBOUND but to allow the NORTHBOUND traffic to Ayer to travel through.  Please expect delays. Paving will take place at a later date.
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UPDATED 9/8/22: Ayer Water Supply Reaching Critical Levels: State of Water Supply Conservation

AYER: Mandatory Water Use Restrictions are in place.  Town of Ayer Water Customers are required to adhere to Mandatory Water Restrictions.  Even with receiving 3.1 inches of rain the last few days, the drought is not over, and the Town’s declaration of a State of Water Supply Conservation is still in place and in accordance with the Town Water Use Restriction Regulation.

Effective August 4th Non-essential outdoor water uses are prohibited.

Exceptions mean those uses that are:
 
  • For health or safety reasons;
  • By regulation;
  • For the production of food and fiber;
  • For the maintenance of livestock; or
  • To meet the core functions of a business.
  • Watering by hand is discouraged but not restricted.

These water restrictions are for all day, every day.  There are no permissible times or days that you may outdoor water except as noted above.

All Town employees are the enforcement agents authorized to implement the water ban.  Enforcement of the Outdoor Water Restrictions is as follows:
 
  • 1st Violation – Written Warning
  • 2nd Violation - $50 fine
  • 3rd Violation - $200 fine
  • 4th Violation - $300 fine and reduction in water availability to allow for basic water needs

Please do your part to maintain this valuable resource.  If you have questions about this notice or about the water restrictions, please contact the DPW office at 978-772-8240.

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Look Closely at Open Enrollment Choices

September 6, 2022

Once again, it’s the season for football games and back-to-school activities. And if you work for a medium-size or large employer, it will soon be open enrollment season – the time of year when you can review your employee benefits and make changes as needed. What areas should you focus on?

Actually, it’s a good idea to pay close attention to all your benefits. Some of the offerings may have changed from last year — and you might have experienced changes in your own life, too, which might lead you to look for something different from your existing benefits package.

You may want to start with your health insurance. If you’re satisfied with your coverage, and it’s essentially the same as it’s been, you may well want to stick with what you have. However, many employers are increasingly offering high-deductible health plans, which, as the name suggests, could entail more out-of-pocket costs for you. But high-deductible plans may also offer something of benefit: the ability to contribute to a health savings account (HSA). Your HSA contributions are made with pre-tax dollars, so they can reduce your taxable income for the year. Also, your earnings grow tax-free, and your withdrawals are tax-free, provided the money is used for qualified medical expenses. (Withdrawals taken before age 65 that aren’t used for qualified medical expenses are taxable and subject to a 20% penalty; once you reach 65, the penalty no longer applies, although withdrawals are still taxable as income if not used for a qualified expense.)

Your next benefit to consider: Life insurance. Your employer may offer a group life insurance plan, but you’ll want to evaluate whether it’s sufficient for your needs, especially if you’ve experienced changes in your personal situation over the past year, such as getting married or adding a new child. There’s no magic formula for how much life insurance you need — you’ll need to consider a variety of factors, such as your income, family size, mortgage and so on — but it may be necessary to supplement your employer’s coverage with a private policy.

Your employer may also offer disability insurance as a benefit. Some employers’ disability policies are fairly limited, covering only short periods of time, so you may want to consider a private policy. 

Beyond the various insurance policies your employer may offer, you’ll also want to closely look at your 401(k) or similar retirement plan. Typically, you can make changes to your 401(k) throughout the year, but it’s important to make sure your investment selections and contribution amounts are still aligned with your risk tolerance and goals. Also, are you contributing enough to earn your employer’s match, if one is offered? And if you’ve already receiving the match, can you still afford to put in more to your plan if such a move makes sense for you? 

Your employee benefits package can be a valuable part of your overall financial strategy. So, as open enrollment season proceeds, take a close look at what you already have, what’s being offered, and what changes you need to make. It will be time well spent.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor 
Financial Advisor, Alan Bell, Littleton, MA
Edwardjones.com/Alan-Bell
Edward Jones, Member SIPC

Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
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Town of Ayer & Devens Community Awarded $282,640

Climate-Change Mitigation Grant to Bring “Pocket Forests” to Most Vulnerable Neighborhoods
 
AYER: The Ayer Office of Community & Economic Development (AOCED) announces that the Town of Ayer and the Devens Enterprise Commission have been awarded a 2022 Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Action Grant through the MA Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (MVP) Program in the amount of $282,624 to fund the innovative “Ayer-Devens Neighborhood Pocket Forest Planting Pilot Project”.  
The BSC Group, Regenerative Design Group and Linnean Solutions have been engaged by Ayer and Devens to provide professional urban/environmental/design consulting services in formulating, facilitating, conducting and administering the Pocket Forest Pilot Project and grant process in coordination with various municipal departments, boards, commissions and local organizations.
As one of New England’s earliest freight and passenger railroad townships (1846-current), many of Ayer’s oldest working-class urban neighborhoods were built along the heavy freight railroad lines, which continue to this day to be exceedingly active freight rail-lines and heavy tractor trailers routes.

Through the decades, and in the face of accelerating climate-change, Ayer’s less advantaged working-class neighborhoods have been covered-over in expansive asphalt surfaces, have been deprived of health-supporting trees/tree canopies, green-space and shaded streets, are at high risk of storm-water/flood damage which brings dangerous mold and associated respiratory health risks, and are subject to constant locomotive engine diesel exhaust cascading over their neighborhoods.

These most vulnerable of Ayer’s neighborhoods are deserving of a reduction in adverse heat-island impacts, improved air quality, reduced stormwater street flooding, and the fundamental physical and mental health advantage and value of a more “tree covered” urban neighborhood.

The $282,624 MVP Action Grant will fund a Pilot Project that will engage the residents of these Ayer/Devens neighborhoods to guide, plan, design and plant “Neighborhood Pocket Forests”. Starting in October, through a series of neighborhood walking tours & neighborhood meetings, youth & student design/planning events, neighborhood “Pocket Forest” design charrettes, resident natural science/community volunteer training sessions, neighborhood “Tree Planting Days”, and additional community engagement forums, appropriate tree species will be selected to maximize carbon sequestration, absorption of particulate matter, nitrogen, sulfur, and ozone. As a green infrastructure tool, the Ayer/Devens Pocket Forests will be located and designed to reduce urban neighborhood impervious surface area, to naturally filter stormwater runoff, and aid in reducing peak flows leading to better micro-climate conditions, improved water quality, and reduced street flooding in Ayer’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.

This grant and community-participatory pilot program will be the first step in an incremental and generational design, planning, development and maintenance process, in preparation for ongoing climate-change, in order to establish a more healthy, resilient, sustainable and valued quality of life in the less advantaged neighborhoods of the Town of Ayer & Devens Community.

Both the Town of Ayer & the Devens Community have adopted Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Plans which favorably positioned the communities to be awarded this important climate-change sustainability grant.

For additional information on the grant award and “Ayer-Devens Neighborhood Pocket Forest Planting Pilot Project” please contact Director of Community & Economic Development Alan S. Manoian at Ayer Town Hall at 978.772.8220 X141 and/or amanoian@ayer.ma.us
 
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Senior Citizen Water & Sewer Bill Discount

AYER: The Senior Citizen Water and Sewer Bill Discount entitles seniors aged 65 or over, residing in their own residence with separate metered water service for that residential unit, a 10% discount on the Town of Ayer water  and sewer bill. This discount provides substantial savings to seniors. The discount is available on your quarterly bill for water and sewer use for the first 3000 cubic feet. Usage over 3000 cubic feet and usage on an irrigation meter is not eligible for the discount. To be eligible for the discount you must meet the following criteria:
 
  • You must be 65 years of age or older
  • You must be the owner of the property
  • You must occupy the property as your principal place of residence
  • The property must have a separate water meter
  • The property must be classified as a single-family dwelling or condominium
  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) must not exceed $50,000
  • All Town accounts, including taxes,  must be current

If you meet all the above criteria and wish to apply, you must submit a Senior Water & Sewer Bill Discount Application. The form must be completed in its entirety and submitted with all supporting documentation. Applications will be accepted from September 1 Through September 15 and the discount will become effective on October 1.  The application must be renewed on an annual basis.

If your application for the discount is denied due to ineligible property classification, you may appeal this decision by re-submitting your application along with documentary proof that the property is a single-family dwelling or condominium. When such documentation is received, your account will be updated to reflect the correct classification.

If the conditions under which you submit your application change, you are required to make the DPW aware of these changes to determine if the discount still applies.  If it is determined that the discount was approved under false pretenses, you may be liable for any previously waived charges as well as any applicable penalties or fines.

The Town of Ayer reserves the right to request recertification of the discount periodically.

For more information on the Senior Water & Sewer Bill Discount program, please contact the Ayer Department of Public Works, 25 Brook Street, (978) 772-8240.

Download the Printable Application Form
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Thrilling Natural Scenes to Grace Solo Show Opening in Shirley

SHIRLEY: Painter Susan Wadsworth has created beautiful images of Mother Nature in all her glory in recent paintings of scenes witnessed and studied in Maine, Vermont, and Ontario. She travels with a sketchpad that takes in the tiny, the gigantic, and everything in between. She has employed her eye for the telling details that an insightful artist can pick out of immense expanses, as well as the majestic sweep of those big vistas. These subjects of study and celebration are “Mountains, Trees, Rocks, and Seas: Small to Mighty.” 

The work is mostly very recent, and features Wadsworth’s latest interests, including the challenge of executing huge pastel murals, capturing stunning sunsets at sea, and employing a new freedom with ink in the landscapes of mountains and trees. This is the artist’s first solo show at a commercial gallery, and she is very excited to be exhibiting so much new work. 
The big “show piece” in the exhibition is Quoddy I. It was inspired by the Quoddy Head State Park in downeast Maine, near the Canadian border. It is the fifth very large piece (42″ x 108″) that Wadsworth has completed since April 2020, in addition to three “smaller” pieces — each a mere six feet wide.
 
The medium for all of these is pastel and ink on paper. Formerly the artist always began with pencil, later going over these lines with India ink. Now she finds she can do smaller studies applying the ink directly. But with very large pieces, she still relies on some underlying graphite lines to work out the overall structure of the composition. Further on in the process, she adds pastels in multi-colored layers — as many as 20 such layers! These she rubs by hand to achieve a smooth finish. The ink is the final ingredient, contrasting very energetically and solidifying the entire work. 

In May of this year, the artist “escaped” to Maine for 10 days, “knowing only that I wanted to draw rocks.” She found plenty of inspiration at Bailey Island, Pemaquid, Schoodic, and Quoddy, this last location nestled beside Quoddy Head State Park. From her base in Lubec, she hiked, stopping to sketch when she found a view that was especially beautiful and inspiring. She produced 10 studies and took numerous photographs. From these, she pieced together the vistas now that appear in Quoddy I. The large pieces might appear to be from one point of view, but in fact they are meticulously constructed combinations of at least five different viewpoints. She compares these to some landscapes well known to admirers of Cubism. The difference between her own work and those cubist paintings, says the artist, is that her vision is more “organically connected.” 

Wadsworth’s understanding of her own work tends to change and develop over time. This process is reflected in the relationship between different artistic schools and even across national borders. An admirer of Chinese and Japanese art, she has long studied the rocks depicted in Chinese scrolls, perhaps once imagining bearded sages strolling in the hills at a leisurely pace, surrounded by the natural beauty of the exotic rock formations looming over the river below. (Well, exotic for North Americans, perhaps. Obviously, the Chinese, accustomed to their surreal, bulging rock cliffs on the banks of the Yang-tze, may find the mesas of Monument Valley quite exotic indeed.) The rocks that she draws from life in New England and in Canada, do not exude peace of mind. “These rocks suggest trouble,” she says, “but one that is negotiable. And the light, I hope, suggests spiritual hope.” In other words, the images drawn straight from nature are often quite beyond words, but they conjure up powerful thoughts and feelings when she takes another look at one of her landscapes months or years afterward.

“The inner content of my work,” she muses, “sometimes evolves with the work itself or becomes evident later on.” 

The artist directs viewers to the kanji — Japanese characters — that she sometimes includes along with the images. These can be imperfectly translated as “transform…transcend…eternity…breath…true…be,” among others. The use of kanji is purposeful in terms of meaning and the graceful, decorative emphasis on planes that we see in Japanese screens. The kanji create a kind of “pictorial tension — a play of planes and flatness” — in place of traditional perspective. 

This Sitka show, opening with a reception on September 9 from 4:30-6:30pm and on display throughout the month of September and into October, also has small tableaux of unframed pieces, of a size (c. 10.5″ x 13.5″) that fit comfortably into the artist’s drawing backpack. She executed many of these as “walk and draws.” She hikes until she is tired — or inspired. Then she sits down and begins to draw. 

Another new section for the show will be Wadsworth’s sunsets. These were completed on two different cruises — one through the Panama Canal in late 2021, and the other in March 2022 from Brazil to Barbados. The artist intensely studied these spectacular sunsets, taking as many as a hundred photos, in the process catching many subtle changes in the color and composition of the sky, the sea, and the sun in the course of one shoot. The artist created drawings from those photos. “I tried to create a focused essence of each sunset,” she observes, “without all the encircling details that are possible but often distracting.” 

The last bank of drawings at Sitka will be “mountains and trees” done on walks near the Vermont border and at Lake Temagami in Ontario. Here the artist plays with color and layered lines, seeing them more as “energy lines.” She maintains: “There is always something else going on that is more than just a mechanical reproduction of reality.” 

Susan Wadsworth earned a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree at Cranbrook Academy of the Arts near Detroit, and an MA in Art History at Tufts University in Medford.

For more information, visit www.
sitkacreations.com.
Some of what's happening in September at Lawrence Library in Pepperell (https://lawrencelibrary.org/)...

FINANCIAL FOCUS: Prepare Yourself for a Long Retirement

August 29, 2022

We all want to live long lives. We all expect to live long lives. But are we financially prepared for this longevity?  Before we get to the issue of preparation, let’s look at a couple of interesting findings from a 2022 survey by Age Wave and Edward Jones:
 
  • The surveyed retirees said, on average, they expect to live to 89, and they said the ideal length of retirement is 29 years.
  • When asked if they want to live to 100, nearly 70% of the respondents said “yes.” The main reason for this desire for long life? To spend more years with their family and friends.

Of course, none of us can see into the future and know how long we’ll be around. But with advances in medical care and a greater awareness of healthy lifestyles, these aspirations have a real basis in reality.

However, if you’re going to enjoy a longer lifespan, and the extra years with your loved ones, you need to ensure your finances are also in good shape. How can you make this happen?  Here are some basic steps to follow:
 
  • Save and invest early and often. This may be the oldest piece of financial advice, but it’s still valid. The earlier you start saving and investing for your retirement, the greater your potential accumulation. Consider this: If you began saving just $5,000 per year at age 25, and earned a hypothetical 6.5% annual rate of return, and didn’t take any early withdrawals, you’d end up with $935,000 by the time you reached 65. But if you waited until 35 to start saving and investing, and you earned the same hypothetical 6.5% return – again with no early withdrawals – you’d only end up with $460,000. And if you didn’t start saving until 45, you’d end up with just over $200,000, again given the same 6.5% return. 
  • Be mindful of debt. You may not  want to be burdened with certain debts when you enter retirement. So, while you’re still working, try to reduce unwanted debts, particularly those that don’t offer the financial benefits of tax-deductible interest payments. The lower your debt load, the more you can save and invest for the future.
  • Keep reviewing your progress. It’s important to monitor the progress you need to make toward achieving your goal of a comfortable retirement. Over the short term, your investment balances may fluctuate, especially in volatile financial markets such as we’ve seen in the early part of this year. But you’ll get a clearer picture of your situation if you look at long-term results. For example, have your accounts grown over the past 10 years as much as you had planned? And going forward, do you think you’re in good shape, or will you need to make some changes to your investment strategy? Keep in mind that, if you’re 50 or older, you can make “catch-up” contributions to your IRA and 401(k) that allow you to exceed the regular limits. You may also want to adjust your investment mix as you near retirement to potentially lower your risk exposure.

Hopefully, you will enjoy many years of a healthy, happy retirement. And you can help support this vision by carefully considering your financial moves and making the ones that are right for you. 

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor
Financial Advisor, Mandy Calouro, Chelmsford, MA
Edwardjones.com/Mandy-Calouro, Edward Jones, Member SIPC
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News from the Friends of the Ayer Library

AYER: At their final 2022 board meeting on October 12 (5:30-8pm), the Friends of the Ayer Library will elect officers for 2023. Interested newcomers are welcome by nominating themselves or someone else (with their consent, of course) by emailing friendsoftheayerlibrary@gmail.com. Nominations will also be taken at the meeting.
 
When considering, you can check off one question you might have right now:

Q) I'd love to volunteer but I don't have much extra time. 
A) Board members spend a range of time on Friends business, from two hours a month on up. Other than attending 2.5-hour quarterly meetings, the time commitment can be minimal and is dependent on the amount of time you can afford.

Board job descriptions (including contact info for those currently in the position should you wish to talk to them directly) can be found at:  tinyurl.com/FALboardmemberdescriptions
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Free Covid-19 Home Test Kits Available

AYER: Covid-19 home test kits are available for free to residents of Ayer, while supplies last - limit 2 boxes per household. Kits are at the following locations during normal business hours: Ayer Board of Health, 3rd Floor Town Hall; Ayer Fire Department; Ayer Police Department and Ayer Senior Center.

Drinking Water Notice - Updated August 18

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AYER: UPDATE: Customers of the Ayer DPW Water Division were notified on August 11, 2022 of a problem with drinking water. The problem has been corrected. Additional sampling confirmed that no further action is needed. As always, you may contact Kimberly Abraham, Water and Sewer Superintendent, at 978-772-8240 or kabraham@ayer.ma.us with any comments or questions.

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August 11, 2022 - To all users of the Ayer DPW Water Division - Ayer's water is routinely monitor for the presence of drinking water contaminants to ensure the safety of the water supply. On August 10, the water system was notified that a water sample collected on August 8 from Spectacle Pond Well #2A tested positive for enterococci, which is a fecal indicator.  Fecal indicators are used to detect ground water sources that may be susceptible to fecal contamination which may contain harmful viruses or bacteria.
 
The water delivered to your taps through the distribution system is disinfected with chlorine to kill viruses and bacteria, including enterococci.  It is important to note that samples collected on August 8 in the distribution system did NOT detect any fecal contaminants.

This source is one of five active sources that supplies drinking water to our system.  Even though none of the chlorinated samples tested positive for a fecal indicator, our chlorine disinfection system at this source has not been certified by MassDEP as 4-log compliant for 99.99% virus inactivation.  In accordance with federal Ground Water Rule (GWR) requirements, we are notifying you of the situation and conducting additional sampling to evaluate the extent of potential fecal contamination and will take further actions as necessary.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
This is not an emergency, you do not need to boil your water or take other corrective actions at this time.
The USEPA requires the DPW to provide you with this notice and the following information on fecal indicators: “Fecal indicators are microbes whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes.  Microbes in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms.  They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.”  These symptoms can also be caused by issues unrelated to drinking water.  If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, or, if you have specific health concerns, you may want to discuss such concerns with your doctor.  General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791 or https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/safe-drinking-water-...

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and Businesses).  You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

WHAT IS BEING DONE?
The DPW continues to maintain chlorine levels throughout the system and monitor for the presence of fecal contaminants in the sources and distribution system to ensure the safety of the water supply. The system is undergoing repeat testing and evaluation to determine if the current level of treatment is adequate or if additional corrective actions are necessary to reduce the risk of potential fecal contamination in our drinking water supply.

The Town is in contact with MassDEP during this process who will evaluate the effectiveness of the steps taken and determine if any further action is required.  If necessary, you will be notified again if you need to take any corrective actions.  This notice does not affect persons using private drinking water wells.
For more information and further updates, please contact Kimberly Abraham, Water and Sewer Superintendent, at 978-772-8240 or visit www.ayer.ma.us/water.
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ShirleyArts Invites Interested Performers from Grade 2 thru Adult for Holiday Show

SHIRLEY: ShirleyArts! invites interested performers from grades 2 through adult to audition for their fall family musical, “Bah Humbug” by Rebecca Ryland and Bill Francoeur. Shirley residency and prior experience is NOT required. Auditions are September 6 at 6:30pm. Rehearsals are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays 6:30-9:30pm, the first of which being September 8. The youngest actors will be dismissed by 8:30pm for most rehearsals. Teens and adults will often stay until 9:30pm.  Performances are November 4 and 5 at 7:30pm, November 6 at 2pm, all at the Ayer/Shirley Middle School Auditorium, 1 Hospital Road. 
 
“Bah Humbug” is a musical re-telling of the familiar story of Ebenezer Scrooge, with Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, singing and dancing townspeople, carolers, street urchins, ghosts, and even a few elves. This production will be directed by Meredith Marcinkewicz and choreographed by Emily Lambert.
 
For everyone’s safety and comfort, participants must show proof of COVID vaccination in order to participate. To find more details and the registration form, go to www.shirleyarts.info.
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UCC of Groton Hosts Community-wide Service Sunday

GROTON: Union Congregational Church of Groton is hosting a community-wide Service Sunday event, with free and games for kids, on August 28 from 12pm to 2pm. Service Sunday begins with the ‘Blessing of the Backpacks’ during the Sunday morning 10am worship service. All are welcome. Filled with school supplies, these backpacks will be distributed at the church which is located at 218 Main Street.
 
Organizer, Stefanie Lempp says, “We have been distributing free backpacks with school supplies for many years now. This year we wanted to expand our outreach even more in light of the economic challenges so many families are facing.” Lempp says the yearly backpack drive usually helps around 300-400 families. In order to receive a free backpack on Service Sunday, people must contact the church office to sign up. 
 
“Our friends at NVIDIA in Westford have been a huge help with the backpack donations,” says Rev. Corey Sanderson. “We have really enjoyed our long-running partnership with them and are so grateful for their generosity and compassion.”
The public is invited to stop by for a free lunch (hamburgers, hot dogs, vegetarian options), enjoy some simple fun games for kids, make some new friends, and learn more about the two stellar local organizations that we support.
 
Donations are being collected for Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry and Catie’s Closet. Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry helps people who are facing food insecurity in supportive and dignified ways. They serve the people of Ayer, Devens, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Littleton, and Shirley. Catie’s Closet provides clothes, toiletries, and other essentials to teens living in poverty, homelessness, or difficult home situations. 
 
More information, including lists of items being collected, can be found online at www.uccgroton.net/servicesunday, or on the church’s Facebook page. People can contact the church office if they have other questions - (978) 448-2091; unioncc@uccgroton.org.

Nashoba Park Assisted Living Unveils New Community Renovations

AYER: Nashoba Park Assisted Living has unveiled new community renovations, ushering in modern, stylish updates to its common spaces. The Volunteers of America Massachusetts community, professionally managed by Senior Living Residences of Braintree, has been a pillar of the Nashoba Valley community for more than fifteen years and launched this expansion project in 2021. The project focused on updates to some of the residents’ favorite spaces, including their Lounge, Library, Sun Room, Game Room and more. 

When you now enter Nashoba Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, you feel like you are entering a brand new Assisted Living community. Renovations are complete with new carpeting and furnishings, paint and accent wallpaper throughout the first floor, as well as updated upholstery fabrics, accessories, and light fixtures. As a whole, the project incorporated contemporary design elements and put a modern twist on the site’s history as a major railroad junction.

While the Assisted Living community is unveiling these major updates, their commitment to enhancing each resident’s quality of life remains unchanged. Nashoba Park is known to families and area eldercare professionals for their integrity, commitment to valuing their associates, and an innovative programming and research-based approach to senior living.

“We know that Nashoba Park is our residents’ home, and this project shows how much we want to invest in them and make our community as comfortable as possible,” said Executive Director Kimberly Gagnon. “If you haven’t been inside Nashoba Park in some time, I encourage you to come for a visit; it’s truly a transformation.”

Nashoba Park Assisted Living, a Volunteers of America Massachusetts Senior Community, offers local seniors service-enriched assisted living. Residents enjoy a meaningful, supportive lifestyle with personalized services, innovative EnrichedLIFE programming, and restaurant-style dining featuring their award-winning Brain Healthy Cooking Program. The Assisted Living community has formed a close-knit group of seniors who engage in fun and educational activities, helping them to remain social and independent for as long as possible. Learn more online and schedule a tour at www.NashobaPark.com.
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Nashoba Symphonic Band Announces 2022-2023 Season

BOLTON: The Nashoba Symphonic Band is pleased to announce its concert schedule for the 2022-2023 season. All concerts will take place in the auditorium of Nashoba Regional High School, Route 117 (12 Green Road GPS), about a mile west of the center of town. Admission is free and open to the public. The theme for the season is “Joy in Form,” exploring the ways in which various elements are combined to create a complete musical work.
 
  • October 30, 3pm - “Brilliant Expositions!” includes Festive Overture by Dmitri Shostakovitch, Suite from Candide, Clare Grundman's setting of music from the Broadway show by Leonard Bernstein, and the glorious Symphony No.3 by Vittorio Giannini.
  • February 4, 2023, 2pm - “Unexpected Developments!” features Variations for Wind Band by Ralph Vaughan Williams with Arthur Fracknpohl's Celebration Overture and the Fantasies on a Theme by Haydn by Norman Dello-Joio, plus marches by Kenneth J. Alford and Leon Jessel.
  • May 7, 2023, 3pm “Fiendish Finales!” includes a complete performance of Robert W. Smith's Symphony No.1 The Divine Comedy, based on the writings of Dante: Inferno, Purgatorio, Ascension, and Paradiso. The work is aptly framed by the Rakoczy March from Berlioz's Damnation of Faust, and March “Gloria” by Frank Hoyt Losey.
  • June 15, 2023, 7:30pm - “Fitting Codas!” features classics of concert band repertoire, including Symphonic Dance No.3 “Fiesta” by Clifton Williams, Pines of the Appian Way by Ottorino Respighi, and selections from the musical, Man of LaMancha, as well as music performed by graduating members of the Nashoba Symphonic Band.


The Nashoba Symphonic Band welcomes new players at the beginning of each season and at the rehearsal following each concert. There are no auditions, but adult membership is limited to a certain number within each section. Students (grade 8 and above) are required to present a recommendation from their school music director or private instructor. The band currently has openings for section clarinets and trumpets, 2 trombones, 1 tuba and percussion. Rehearsals of Nashoba Symphonic Band are held on Thursdays from 7-9 p.m. on the stage of the Nashoba Regional High School. Those wishing to become members, or needing further information should contact the conductor/music director, David Bailey at baileydavidwayne@gmail.com OR Joe McCarthy, Nashoba Regional High School Instrumental Director at jmccarthy@nrsd.net.
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Antique Quilts and Tarbell Paintings on View at the Groton History Centers Open House

GROTON: A selection of quilts, ranging from antique to the early 1990s, each of distinct pattern, palette, and interest, will be on view at the Groton History Centers Boutwell House, at 172 Main Street, open to the public on August 20, from 11am to 2pm. 

Faithfully restored and reopened in 2014, the 1851 Italianate home, built for then Governor George S. Boutwell and his family, is rich in original detail and period décor. Visitors are invited to tour the house, enjoy its cool, high-ceilinged rooms filled with exhibits to delight antiquarians and artists alike, and take a stroll in the gardens.

Among the many objects dart on view are paintings by the famous American Impressionist and Groton native Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862 – 1938) on loan from the Tarbell Charitable Trust. Tarbell was a leading member of the Boston School of artists, and a prominent teacher. His luminous oil paintings hang in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and other notable public collections. 
Of equal interest are Groton resident Harvey Sargisson’s (1902-1987) exquisite wood carvings of piping plovers and other shorebirds. Sargissons career included a thirty-year stint teaching woodworking at the Groton School. He was an artist in his own right, with an ardent following among connoisseurs, designers, and bird lovers.

All are invited to tour the Boutwell House and grounds free of charge (donations appreciated).  For more information, visit grotonhistory.org or call 978-448-0092.
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Line Striping on Main Street

AYER: PUBLIC NOTIFICATION - The Town of Ayer DPW will be striping portions of the Main Street to provide traffic calming, bike accommodations, and improved pedestrian accommodations. The work will occur on the mornings of August 14 and 21 (weather dependent). Highlights of the work include:
 
  • Dedicated bike lanes will be installed on the east and westbound travel directions between Washington and Columbia Streets
  • A painted channelization island will tighten the roadway at the intersection of Columbia Street
  • Painted curb extensions will be installed at several crosswalks and the intersection of Park and Main Streets
  • A fog line will be installed east of Park and Main Streets to tighten the travel lane
  • Painted stenciling in the travel lane of “25 MPH” upon approach to the downtown

Did you know the current travel lanes are approximately 16-feet wide on Main Street? Newly constructed East Main Street has 11-foot wide travel lanes!
The work will help introduce traffic calming and is a form of what’s called ‘tactical urbanism’. Furthermore, the Main Street corridor is currently in the early stages of redesign, where bike lanes and curb extensions are being considered. This will act as a preview of how these measures work on the Main Street. Note there will be public meetings for public input on the redesign, so keep on the lookout as we will need your input!

The Town of Ayer 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 DPW@ayer.ma.us.
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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.