Consequences of Genocide Denial: The Armenian Genocide

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DEVENS: On April 16 at 1pm, Ara A. Jeknavorian, Ph.D., of the Merrimack Valley Armenian Genocide Education Committee, will present "Consequences of Genocide Denial" at the Fort Devens Museum.  The presentation provides a discussion on the causes and impact of the Armenian Genocide on 3000 years of Armenian Civilization in eastern Turkey, and how its denial by its perpetrators has led to subsequent genocides.

At the risk of infuriating Turkey, President Biden formally announced in 2021 that the United States regards the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Turks more than a century ago to be a genocide — the most monstrous of crimes. Mr. Biden was the first American president to make such an announcement, breaking with predecessors who did not wish to antagonize Turkey, a NATO ally and a strategically pivotal country straddling Europe and the Middle East. While this announcement carries enormous symbolic weight-equating the premeditated mass murder of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children from 1915-23 to the atrocities committed in Nazi-occupied Europe, Cambodia and Rwanda-its incomprehensible continued denial and the lack of accountability by the Turkish Government can be linked to enabling subsequent cases of man’s inhumanity to man.

This program is free and open to the public. The Fort Devens Museum is located on the 3rd floor of 94 Jackson Road. For more information please email info@fortdevensmuseum.org.
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The Conservation and Treatment of Three Groton History Center Portraits

GROTON: In gradual and insidious ways, paintings deteriorate with age. Exposure to light, dust and other factors play their roles in transforming a once-lucid surface into one of darkened and blotched obscurity. The restoration and preservation of such delicate surfaces require specialized skills, techniques, and sensitivity. What this process looks like will be the subject of art conservator Corrine Long’s behind-the-scenes glimpse into the work of restoring the three 19th-century Shattuck family portraits hanging on the Groton History Center’s Boutwell House walls.

Long and colleagues at the GFStudio in Malden began work after a Town Meeting vote awarded the $11,400 funding recommended by the Community Preservation Committee for the restoration and preservation of these significant treasures of the GHC’s collection. The project, conceived and carried out by Carolyn Perkins and Bobbie Spiegelman of the GHC Collections Committee, and Executive Director Kara Fossey, represents yet another step in the GHC’s mission to bring its collections into the light for the public’s enjoyment.

Long will illustrate the dramatic physical and visual improvements to these paintings wrought by GFStudio’s skilled conservators. Gianfranco Pocobene, studio owner and Chief Paintings and Research Conservator at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, will be on hand to answer questions. Join us for this informative and lively talk on April 9 at 2pm at the Groton Center, 163 West Main Street. The event is free and open to the public, thanks to the Commissioners of Trust Funds.
 
The public is invited to take a closer look at the beautifully restored portraits of Margaret Shattuck Brigham, her husband George Bingham, and hanging alongside, the portrait of Polly Sawtelle Shattuck, wife of Luther Shattuck, grandson of Job Shattuck, one of the leaders of Shay’s Rebellion. Call 978-448-0092 or email info@grotonhistory.org to schedule a visit. The GHC is open Mondays and Thursdays, 10am to 3pm.
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USO-style Dance to Benefit Fort Devens Museum

DEVENS/SHIRLEY: Join the Fort Devens Museum on April 30 from 6-10pm for a USO-style dance! Honor Veterans of “The Greatest Generation” and celebrate the Allied Victory in World War II. This 1940s-themed dance, held in the historic War Memorial Building in Shirley, will feature live music, refreshments, and a cash bar. The War Memorial Building is located at 8 Church Street and is wheelchair accessible. Buy tickets now online or at the museum at 94 Jackson Road.

There will be a dance lesson and dance contest.  Enjoy period music by Dan Gabel and the Abletones, an authentic 11-piece Big Band. Guests will enjoy the American classic Dagwood sandwich and additional light refreshments. To make for an authentic 1940s event, the space will be decorated with the familiar designs of cans of SPAM and glass bottles of Coca-Cola. The War Memorial Building in Shirley is home to the Shirley Legion Post and World War II and other military memorabilia will be on display.

Civilian and military period dress is encouraged, but certainly not required. Tickets are $40/person, $75/couple, and $35/military (active and retired) and are available at www.fortdevensmuseum.org/events. World War II Veterans are free, please contact the museum for details.

This event is in partnership with the Greater Boston Vintage Society which is an organization that both hosts and promotes vintage events in New England. For more information call 978-772-1286 or email info@fortdevensmuseum.org.
What's coming up (& more) at Groton Public Library - www.gpl.org
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Ayer West Main Street Infrastructure Project

AYER: The Town of Ayer and Devens are reconstructing the area of West Main Street as part of a MassWorks Grant. The project consists of water, drainage, street, and sidewalk improvements. The project limits are shown on the attached figure and include a portion of Sculley Road as well as West Main Street and the Verbeck Gate.

The Town will be posting construction updates on the Town website at www.ayer.ma.us, at Town Hall, and via email for those who subscribe. To subscribe to email alerts, scan the QR code or go to www.ayer.ma.us/subscribe.

Work Anticipated during the weeks of March 28th and April 4th:
 
  • Work will commence on Monday, March 28th and will be conducted daily between the hours of 7:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
  • The Contractor will be mobilizing equipment, saw-cutting pavement to prepare for trench excavation, installing erosion controls, beginning drainage and water utility installation.

One-lane of alternating traffic will be maintained at all times. The road will be fully opened at the end of each work day, please use caution as their will be varying road conditions. Paving of trenches will occur on Friday’s. Police detail officers will be onsite as required to direct traffic. Traffic control and parking restrictions will change as the project progresses and future notifications will be distributed.

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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"The Power of Angels" 2022 Kitty Angels Fundraiser

AMHERST, NH: Plans are in the works for another fabulous fundraiser for Kitty Angels, Inc. This year’s event will take place on April 30 and May 1 from 9am-5pm. The kitties and vendors have taken the necessary precautions and are excited to have you get out of the house and come visit with them  for some fabulous finds, great “free” entertainment and most important of all, to help Kitty Angels! The weekend festivities are being held at Treasures Antiques, 106 Ponemah Road (Rt. 122).

Look for all your favorite vendors, including artist Eric Nickola, dba WolfpacStudios, Artist Lori-Ellen Budenas of Respect the Wood, Monica Gesualdo of Trading Faces, Food Vendor  B’s Grumman Grub, Jewelry designers - Freedom Jewelry & Heart’s Design Jewelry. Forever Clean Soaps, Morel Woodworking, Baby Snuggz, SoGo Metal Art, Scroll-N-Tole, Happy Cat Creations, Vinyl Revival, Dusty Finds, The Spirit of Cacao, Puckerbrush Life, Anthony Acres, Color Street, Paws & Spas, Heavenly Goddess, Usborne Books, Fudge & Stuff, Lynda’s Felted Critters, Tupperware, Custom Care Designs, Amherst Animal Hospital and many more. Updates will be made when available. Interested in becoming a vendor at the event? Contact Sherry or Rick at (603) 672-2535.

The bands and soloists for the event, consist of keyboardist/band member Joey Peavey, Side Effects, Diamond Edge Band, North Sound Duo, Levi Maxwell with Jeff Damon, Sunset Rhythm and Wildwood.

Featured throughout the fundraising weekend and into the month of June, is an electrifying raffle of numerous and diverse prizes, all generously donated by local and national businesses, professional sports teams, private individuals and some of the awesome on-site vendors.

Kitty Angels, Inc. is the sole beneficiary of this event. They are a no-kill cat shelter and are made up of all unpaid volunteers, dedicated to rescuing stray and abandoned cats and kittens, furnishing them with treatment for injuries or other health issues and then placing them into new forever homes with compatible owners. They are a non-profit, 501(C) 3 charitable corporation where all donations are fully tax-deductible and every penny of every donation is used in the caring of cats.

End Hunger New England Announces Plan to Send up to 1 Million Meals to Ukraine & Refugee Centers

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PEMBROKE: EndHungerNE announced that it has started a funding campaign to package and ship up to one-million meals to Ukraine and refugee centers in surrounding countries. The plan is to raise $350,00 in the next 2 months. All of the money tagged for the Ukraine will be used for food. 

Matthew Martin, the organization’s Development Coordinator stated, “We have been working on this for a while and just coordinated with a shipping and distribution partner to get our meals overseas. The situation in Ukraine is dire, our volunteers and supporters have been asking if we were going to get involved – and the answer to that is YES! We’ll start packaging this weekend.”

“The financial and volunteer support we have experienced over the past two years has been incredible. Over 1200 volunteers are regularly showing up at our Pembroke facility – brownie troops, high schoolers and sports teams, local civic and church groups, seniors – it's just been amazing! The more funding we can acquire, the more meals our volunteers can pack.” 

To make a donation or volunteer, please visit www.endhungerne.org. Checks can be made out to The Outreach Program (parent non-profit of EndHunger NE) and sent to 93 Whiffletree Lane, Marshfield, MA 02050. Please write Ukraine on the memo line and please check with your company to see if they offer a corporate match or are seeking to support the mission of EndHungerNE.
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Shirley Democrats Invite Public to Meet State Senator John Cronin

SHIRLEY: The Shirley Democratic Town Committee invites Shirley residents to a public forum with State Senator John Cronin on March 23, from 6-7pm. The meeting will take place virtually via Zoom. To receive the Zoom registration link, email ShirleyDTC@yahoo.com or visit https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMrdO2vqzsjGtYNY1oGSIaFkd2oX87bgDwr. For more information, contact the Shirley Democratic Town Committee at ShirleyDTC@yahoo.com, or visit the Shirley DTC on Facebook and Twitter @ShirleyDTC.

Senator John Cronin was elected to the Senate in 2020, and currently represents the communities of Fitchburg, Leominster, Gardner, Berlin, Bolton, Lancaster, Lunenburg, Sterling, Townsend, Westminster and Clinton (precincts 1 and 2), which make up the Worcester-Middlesex (W&M) District.

Next year, however, Cronin’s W&M District will change to include Ashby, Clinton, Groton, Fitchburg, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Shirley, Townsend and Westford. (Shirley is currently in the Middlesex and Worcester District.)  The redistricting is as a result of the 2020 U.S. Census. District lines are redrawn every 10 years following completion of the census. Federal law stipulates that districts must have nearly equal populations and must not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity. The new legislative map takes effect for Massachusetts’ 2022 congressional elections.

Senator Cronin will discuss his work since being elected to the Massachusetts Senate, as well as his vision for the future of his newly reconfigured district. He will also take questions and hear concerns from Shirley residents.

Senator Cronin is a graduate of West Point, a former U.S. Army Infantry Officer, and a combat veteran with multiple deployments to Afghanistan. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served as a veteran advocate at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.
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Nashoba Park Resident Honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

AYER: Mary Fell was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from Nashoba Park, the Assisted Living Community she calls home. The ceremony highlighted Mary’s history and personal accomplishments.

Mary Fell was born in Millerton, New York on November 22nd, 1926. She lived there until her family relocated to Hopewell Junction at 13. Her favorite memory from this time was baking cookies with her mother and friends to hand out to soldiers that came through her town by train. After graduating high school, Mary moved to Poughkeepsie for a job at Montgomery Ward selling shoes, and then moving to the drapery department where she met her husband, Joseph.

Mary and Joseph enjoyed traveling to the shore, the boardwalk and exploring the nearby mountains. After marrying in June, they moved to Florida for a few months before eventually settling in New Jersey. Here they gave birth to their son Gary. Mary is most proud of her son, who served as an Intelligence Agent in the Army and was selected to accompany President Truman on his visits overseas. In 2017, Mary and her son Gary moved to Massachusetts. She loves spending time outside, especially in the warmer months.

“We loved the opportunity to honor Mary and all of her accomplishments throughout her life so far. She has been a wonderful person to get to know and is a bright spirit in our community.” says Christine Masci, EnrichedLIFE Director at Nashoba Park.

These days, Mary is a social community member and enjoys conversing with friends near Nashoba Park’s cozy fireplace. In the warmer months, she spends significant time in the community's scenic outdoor spaces. Her favorite spot is the courtyard, where she can be found birdwatching and enjoying the sunlight.

Nashoba Park is a Volunteers of America Massachusetts Assisted Living community located in Ayer. For more information about Nashoba Park, please visit www.NashobaPark.com
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An Introduction to 19th Century Photography

SHIRLEY: An Introduction to 19th Century Photography is the theme of the newest display at the Shirley Historical Society Museum. This presentation is a joint venture between the Shirley Historical Society and the Photographic Historical Society of New  England.

From the 1830s  through the 1870's inventors discovered many ways to take  photos and to print them. In the Museum collection there are daguerreotypes,  ambrotypes, cyanotypes, and tintypes from the Holden, Kemp, Lawton,  Longley, Mackaye, and Park families. Currently on display are cabinet cards, cartes de visite, albums, and stereographs, as well as a collection of early Brownie cameras.

On Saturday March 20th at 2:00 pm, the Historical Society will have a hybrid program - both in person and online. Guest speaker, Ron Polito, of PHSNE will explain the development of photographic technology via Zoom. Both those present and those attending online will be able to ask questions.  Email mail@shirleyhistory.org before noon on the 20th if you want to request the zoom link. The Photo exhibit will remain  on display through the month  of May. Visitors are welcome  Mondays, Wednesdays or Saturdays between 10am and 1pm.
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Our War Too: American Women in WWII

WEST GROTON: Often, it’s the local and particular that adds texture and meaning to a scene played out across the world stage. So, when Kara Fossey, Executive Director of the Groton History Center and the Fort Devens Museum, describes the opportunities for women to step up and pour their energies, skills, and time into serving their country in WWII, the local names that pop up from contemporaneous news clippings announcing the accomplishments of Ann Sargent, Margery Peabody, Natica Bates -- among many others, bring that historic moment home in a spectacular way.

Fossey will speak on the widening opportunities for women to serve their country in her talk, “Our War Too: American Women in WWII,” at the Groton Senior Center, 163 Main Street on March 19, 2pm. Her talk is free and open to all, thanks to the Commissioners of Trust Funds.  For information, visit www.grotonhistory.org.

Fossey’s presentation springs from the 2021 exhibit of the same name she organized at the Fort Devens Museum, which included documents, photographs, civilian and military uniforms, Civil Defense armbands, and similar precious pieces culled from the Museum’s collections, the Groton History Center, and other local sources. Her lively narrative begins with the charismatic congresswoman from Lowell, Edith Nourse Rogers, responsible for the bill that created the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACS, later WACs) in May 1941, among other groundbreaking initiatives. While many local women trained and worked at Fort Devens, their support of all aspects of the military in the fields of medical care, aviation, civil defense, cryptology, correspondence, engineering, to name just a few, took them across the country and as far away as Australia and the South Pacific.
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The Cannon Theatre Reopens in Devens and Proudly Presents “Willy Wonka”

DEVENS: In the summer of 2020, The Cannon Theatre, then located in Littleton, MA, had to shut down and move out of their beloved home of 10 years, when the pandemic proved too much for them to be able to sustain their operations. The all-volunteer board of directors of this little plucky little nonprofit-that-could took that opportunity to search for a new home, all while putting on several virtual shows throughout 2020 and 2021. They are now delighted to announce that they have found their new space, and are moving in at 28 Andrews Parkway, with the opening night of their very first in-person show in over two years fast approaching.

The Cannon Theatre is so very pleased to present Willy Wonka, The Musical. This production, helmed by Director Tara Earl and Music Director Shawn Cannon, features a youth cast - some of whom were in rehearsals for that same show in 2020 before COVID-19 shut everything down - full of enthusiasm to get back onto the stage: The Cannon Theatre’s brand-new stage and set, built by Tech Director Bret Bahe, theater board president Matt Foster, and volunteer Luke Bellamy just last month.

Roald Dahl’s timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, which features the songs from the classic family film Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. The set is a delightful riot of fun and color, and true to The Cannon Theatre’s reputation for creating unexpected theater magic, this family-friendly show has many sweet surprises in store.

Show times are March 25, April 1, 2, 8 at 7pm, with matinees on ​March 26, April 2, and 9 at 2pm. Tickets are available at www.thecannontheatre.org, and are $25 for adults, $20 for students/seniors, and $15 for children age 10 and under.

The following COVID safety protocols will be observed for this production:
  • Proof of vaccination is required for all patrons, cast and crew.
  • Patrons must present their proof of vaccination at point of entry (physical card or photo), along with a valid photo ID (photo ID is not required for those under the age of 18).
  • Exceptions to these requirements will be made for guests under the age of  5 who are not yet eligible for vaccination. Also, patrons 5 or older who either cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition, or who have not yet completed their full vaccination protocol, may present a negative PCR test from a recognizable healthcare facility or provider done within 72 hours of the start of the performance.
  • Proper wearing of masks is required for all audience members.
  • Please note: the actors will be performing on stage without masks.

The new theater construction is made possible by very generous funding from The Elizabeth B. McGraw Foundation. Several youth scholarships were funded by the Local Cultural Councils of Acton-Boxborough, Ayer, Groton, Harvard, Littleton, Townsend, and Shirley - local agencies which are supported by Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

West Groton Eagle Scout Launches GoFundMe to Support Sensory Box Campaign at Local Schools

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GROTON: As he pursues his Eagle Scout ranking with Troop 1 West Groton, Kenny Kromer will be creating and distributing sensory boxes to Pre-K through 12th-grade children with special needs at several local schools.  Kenny started a GoFundMe fundraiser to rally community support and wrote: "This project is very close to me as I have been close with several kids who have special needs at my schools over the years. I am also currently in the Best Buddies program at my high school, which has provided a lot of inspiration for my project."

Per the GoFundMe, Kenny has been a scout since he was in first grade. He set a modest goal of $1,200 for his project and raised nearly twice the goal in just a day.

Troop 1 West Groton can be reached here: scoutmaster@westgrotonscouting.org. To view the GoFundMe, please visit: https://gf.me/v/c/tccx/eagle-scout-project-sensory-boxes
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Author/Illustrator David Sibley at The Bull Run Restaurant Speaker Series

AYER/SHIRLEY: The Friends of the Ayer Library and the Friends of the Hazen Memorial Library in Shirley invite you to a talk by renowned author and bird illustrator David Sibley at The Bull Run Restaurant Speaker Series on Sunday, April 3, 2022 at 10am. For tickets and information, visit http://tickets.bullrunrestaurant.com/davidsibley

David Sibley is the author and illustrator of the series of successful guides to nature that bear his name, including the New York Times bestseller The Sibley Guide to Birds and What It’s Like to Be a Bird. He has contributed to Smithsonian, Science, The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, BirdWatching, and The New York Times.

Deb Roy, director of the Hazen Memorial Library in Shirley notes, “proceeds from the talk will allow both Friends groups to continue to support the services and resources of our vital public libraries. Ticket sales so far are brisk, which we’re very gratified about.”

Laurie Sabol, Friends of the Ayer Library secretary says, “as a very amateur birder, I am absolutely thrilled that Mr. Sibley will be presenting a talk on his recent book What It’s Like to Be a Bird. I know the entire audience will learn a ton from him, both during and after the talk when he’ll be available to sign copies of his book.”
Sibley is the recipient of the Roger Tory Peterson Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Birding Association and the Linnaean Society of New York’s Eisenmann Medal. He lives in Deerfield, MA. For more information on Mr. Sibley, please visit www.prhspeakers.com.
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Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Public Hearing 2/28

AYER: Ayer Residents, Neighbors & Friends – On February 28 at 7pm, join in a municipal Zoom Meeting with Alicia Hersey, Ayer Community Development Program Manager and Alan S. Manoian, Director Ayer Office of Community & Economic Development for the US Dept. of HUD FY19 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) PUBLIC HEARING & PROGRAM REVIEW.  There will be a review of the progress of Ayer’s FY19 CDBG-COVID Grant which provided “State of Emergency” relief funding for local social service agencies and for qualified (Low-to-Moderate Income) local microbusinesses. Hersey will also provide a progress report of the local Home Rehabilitation Grant Program. And the FUTURE? – Feedback is needed from Ayer residents and neighbors to determine what type of future Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) projects/programs are needed in Ayer.

Get the Ayer (CDBG) Public Hearing ZOOM Meeting ID & Link by contacting Alicia Hersey at 978.772.8220 X142 or  ahersey@ayer.ma.us. For additional information call 978.772.8220 X141 and/or email amanoian@ayer.ma.us or ahersey@ayer.ma.us  

Shirley Democrats Elect Convention Delegates

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SHIRLEY: The Shirley Democratic Town Committee is pleased to announce that it has elected its two delegates to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention, to be held at the DCU Center in Worcester, as well as virtually, on June 3 and 4, 2022.

The Committee held its caucus virtually on Zoom on Saturday, February 19. The male elected delegate is Brian Goldberg, and the female elected delegate is Elizabeth Johnson. Elizabeth Keddy was elected alternate, and the ex-officio delegate is Dina Samfield.

The 2022 MassDems Convention will be a hybrid convention, with in-person proceedings taking place alongside virtual participation options. Delegates will convene to endorse candidates for statewide office ahead of the September 6 Massachusetts Democratic Primary.

Attending the Shirley DTC Caucus were candidates and/or surrogates for candidates who are running for statewide office: Sonia Chang-Diaz and Maura Healey for Governor; Bret Bero, Kim Driscoll, Tami Gouveia, and Adam Hinds for Lt. Governor; Jamie Eldridge for State Senator; Quentin Palfrey for Attorney General; Marian Ryan for Middlesex County District Attorney; Bill Galvin and Tanisha Sullivan for Secretary of the Commonwealth; Paul DePalo for District 7 Governor’s Council; and, Chris Dempsey and Diana DiZoglio for Auditor.

“It was great to see so many candidates take the time to visit our small-town caucus,” said Shirley DTC Chair Dina Samfield after the election of delegates. “This is an exciting year to be a part of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. We would love to have more Shirley Democrats join our caucus as we continue to work to support good candidates for office locally and across the Commonwealth.

“Youth, minorities, and people with disabilities who are registered Shirley Democrats not elected as delegates or alternates may still apply to be add-on delegates,” she continued. “This is a great way to get involved and learn about the Democratic Party process!”

The deadline to apply to be an add-on delegate is April 9 at 5:00 p.m. The application can be found here: https://massdems.org/your-party/2022-massdems-convention__trashed/delegate/

The date for the Shirley DTC’s spring meeting is Saturday, March 26, at 10:30 a.m. The agenda will be to further the planning process for local events aimed at educating the public and encouraging them to become more involved in upcoming elections. For more information and the location (TBD), visit the Shirley DTC Facebook page: @DTCShirley.

For updates and more information on the Shirley DTC, contact Chair Dina Samfield at 978-758-5311; email shirleydtc@yahoo.com; or visit the Committee’s Facebook and Twitter pages @DTCShirley. The Shirley DTC website is https://shirleydtc.wixsite.com/shirleydems.

Love Lessons from Nashoba Park Residents

Love was in the air this Valentine’s Day at Nashoba Park, as residents shared their best relationship advice in a recent video put out by the Assisted Living community:
  • “If you’re going to fall in love, be sure you know the person that you’re giving your love to. It’s important to be loved, but be sure you’re giving your love to someone who deserves it.” - Alice MacGregor
  • “Be with someone who makes you smile.” - Ann Molinari
  • “I think that love comes very easily if you’re really sensitive and you mean it.” - Mary Gardner
  • “I met [my husband] Peter through a friend, and we seemed to like each other very much. I knew it was love because he was so kind and nice, and I knew he was the one.” - Ann Laggis
  • “That’s what love is; it’s a feeling that you are a unique person in your own right and so is everyone else.” - Mar Bishop
  • “Love is the kindness that you express to people that you care about.” - Paul Boisseau
  • “When you meet a person, how do you know you’re in love with them? When you look at them, you just melt. You just see all the good parts of them, and everyone else in the room fades away. You just want to be with them. That’s love. Most of all, trust your heart; you know yourself best.” - Kathy Aborn

You can also watch the entire video Nashoba Park’s Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/NashobaPark/videos/477283030435993.

Inventive Printmaker Spans the Divide Between Arts and Letters, Combining Stark Images & Thoughtful Poetry

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SHIRLEY: “Almost all of my artwork begins with a poem,” says H.M. Sprague. “The words come first.” This approach makes for artwork that appeals to our sense of visual beauty while also appealing to the intellect—to ideas, which are ordinarily expressed in words. Such a combination of views is rare in the world of fine art. Yet the artist is ready to celebrate that way of looking at life in this departure from earlier work as an illustrative woodcut printmaker. After attending Parsons School of Design in New York City, Sprague pursued a long and fruitful career in fashion. The artist now seeks to transition into a new phase, communicating ideas in new, adventurous ways and “meditating in ink and paper about the relationships we keep with ourselves.”

Many of the pieces in this collection of Sprague’s new work express this duality of views in ways other than in the visual/verbal combination. Much of the work is, in a sense, representational and abstract at the same time. The dry, severed tree branches appear to represent lost members of an old tree. They are shorn of their bark and are defiantly presented in black-and-white. The images of the branches, in Sprague’s view, are “a form of calligraphy.” These jagged, complex shapes are indeed reminiscent of letters and words rendered in black ink on white paper. Yet because we immediately see the branches as products of the natural world, we also see them as substantial objects in their own right. They have a solid, almost stony, appearance. But they are assembled in configurations that one certainly would never see on a messy forest floor. They communicate ideas that happen to be made of the refuse we might see strewn about in the woods. Even so, those ideas originate not in nature but in the mind of the artist.

Sprague has already achieved renown among printmakers, winning a spot at the International Mini Print Exhibition in Ithaca, N.Y., and having work featured in The HAND magazine. Now based in Boston, Mass., Sprague was set on a path toward artistic expression by parents who surrounded themselves with other artists. This creative community was a rich and rewarding one for Sprague, who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard learning so much as a child from these adult friends and associates.

This exposition will be available for viewing online, beginning February 18.  The reception will be February 18 from 4:30–6:30pm at Gallery Sitka, 2 Shaker Road, D101. www.gallerysitka.com
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Harvard Lions & Fruitlands Museum Co-Host Annual Winter Fest

HARVARD: The Harvard Lions and Fruitlands Museum are co-hosting the annual Winter Fest on February 26 from 11am to 4pm at Fruitlands Museum, 102 Prospect Hill Road. Activities will commence with a 5K and 1 Mile Road Race. After the race it will be a fun filled day with Human Fooseball, Human Dog Sled Pull, Chili and Chili sidekick bread tasting contest, an Enchanted Forest Walk, Apple Cannons, fire pits, Snowman’s Glen, children’s activities and snow permitting sledding and snow shoeing. Fruitlands Museum will have the Art Gallery and Wayside Gallery open. The Harvard Lions food tent will be serving hot food and drinks. There will be vendors selling maple syrup, soaps, candles, dog biscuits and other natural products. At 3pm, "Wassail the Fruit Trees” to ensure a bountiful harvest for all of the local orchards.

Admission is $15 a car for non-trustee members and free for race participants, Trustees members. All proceeds go directly to support charitable organizations as well as families and organizations in need. To register for the races, 5K or Human Dog Sled or the Chili or Chili Sidekick contest go to harvardlions.org
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IMPORTANT NOTICE
Main Street Snow Removal February 2, 10pm

AYER: The Town of Ayer DPW will be performing snow removal operations on Main Street beginning at 10pm on Wednesday, February 2. This operation involves moving the snow off of the sidewalk, loading it into large trucks and hauling it to the DPW snow pile off Bishop Road. This operation will continue until 6am and police details will be assisting with traffic control.
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"Fall in Love with Reading" This February with Free Books!

LUNENBURG: Starting Tuesday, February 1, the Friends of the Lunenburg Public Library will fill their normal outdoor book sale carts with free giveaway books for our community. Running for the month of February, they want to encourage visitors to “Fall in Love with Reading”! The Friends of the Lunenburg Public Library are enthusiastic about supporting literacy in our town and want to share their love of reading with you. Visitors can take up to three (3) free books off of the designated book carts to take home. Their usual indoor book sales, children’s book bundles, and continuous sale aisles are not part of this month-long promotion and still sell by donation.

If you would like to volunteer for this or other amazing events supporting the Library, join the Friends! Membership envelopes will be on the book giveaway carts and at the front desk. The Friends of the Lunenburg Public Library support all ages programming, museum passes, technology initiatives, and so much more. Your membership not only helps fund many of the fantastic things offered at the Library, but also grants unlimited use of our museum passes!
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Bumbling Through the Hindu Kush: A memoir of fear and kindness in Afghanistan

DEVENSOn February 19 at 1pm, former BBC correspondent, Chris Woolf, will present a program at the Fort Devens Museum about his time in Afghanistan as told in his book “Bumbling Through the Hinda Kush.” This program is free and open to the public. The Fort Devens Museum is located on the 3rd floor of 94 Jackson Road. For more information please email info@fortdevensmuseum.org.

What happens when a regular person accidentally finds themselves lost in the middle of a war? In 1991, BBC journalist Chris Woolf traveled to Afghanistan. Woolf was visiting a colleague to see what the life of a foreign correspondent was like. They hitched a ride with an aid convoy and bumbled straight into the war. They survived minefields, artillery, armed robbery. They were trapped in no-man’s land during a battle, and even escaped from detention by the secret police. They kept going, despite the horror and terror. There was no choice.

Amid the darkness, Woolf discovered the generosity and hospitality of ordinary Afghans, eager to share what little they had with strangers in peril. Woolf shares an intimate portrait of first encounters with death and real fear. He explores the lingering effects of trauma and explains how he put his experience to good use.

Chris Woolf was a broadcast journalist with the BBC World Service for 34 years. He worked mostly in the United States, where he became News Editor for public radio’s main international news show, “The World.” He was also on-air as the show’s “History Guy.
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Pre-order Period for At-home Covid-19 Tests Has Begun

The Biden Administration is offering free rapid tests to all residents in the United States. The pre-order period for the at-home COVID-19 tests via www.covidtests.gov has begun. Every household in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free and will usually ship in 7-12 days. Please visit www.covidtests.gov to submit an order and learn more.

Greater Lowell Community Foundation Seeks Request for Proposals for 2022 Discretionary Grant Cycles & Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund

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LOWELL: The Greater Lowell Community Foundation will open its 2022 Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund and Discretionary Grant Cycles on February 2 and is seeking requests for proposals from nonprofit organizations. The Foundation will award $160,000 through the Discretionary Grant Cycle. Funding areas for 2022 include children’s services, elder services and racial equity/inclusion.

Non-profit organizations serving the communities of Acton, Ashby, Ayer, Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Lowell, Pepperell, Shirley, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Westford, and Wilmington are invited to apply.

Additionally, GLCF will open its 2022 Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund Cycle on February 2. The foundation seeks requests for proposals from non-profit organizations supporting the advancement of community health of residents in the following GLCF communities: Ashby, Ayer, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Pepperell, Shirley, Townsend, and Westford. The Foundation will award $80,000 through this grant program.

Nashoba Valley Healthcare Fund Cycle grant awards will range from $5,000 up to $20,000; however, larger scale collaborative projects that are more than $20,000 will be considered if the funding request is justified by the impact of the project. Of particular interest are proposals that address systemic issues like (but not limited to) addiction/ substance abuse, domestic violence, food insecurity, mental health, suicide screening and prevention, obesity, racial equity and inclusion and other specific issues as indicated by community needs.

Grant applications for both grant opportunities must be submitted by noon on March 4, 2022. Grant recipients will be announced in May. More information is available on the foundation’s website: www.glcfoundation.org.

For more information about the grant process, contact Sharon, GLCF Grants Coordinator with any questions at sharon@glcfoundation.org.

Established in 1997, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) is a philanthropic organization comprised of more than 390 funds dedicated to improving the quality of life in 21 neighboring cities and towns. With financial assets of more than $55 million, GLCF annually awards grants and scholarships to hundreds of worthy nonprofits and students. It is powered by the winning combination of donor-directed giving, personal attention from Foundation staff, and an in-depth understanding of local needs. The generosity of our donors has enabled the Community Foundation to award more than $25 million to the Greater Lowell community.

PHOTO: Catie’s Closet, Inc. received a past Discretionary Children’s Grant to support their Lowell program. Pictured, Catie’s Closet volunteers with special request bags packed with urgently needed items for children.
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Wild and Scenic Rivers Stewardship Council 2022 Community Grants Proposals Due February 1, 2022

The Nashua, Squannacook, and Nissitissit Rivers Wild and Scenic Stewardship Council announces the second year of their Community Grants program. The program aims to engage municipalities and local organizations in protecting the rivers’ resources and building strong local stewardship of the rivers. 
 
Applications will be accepted from the communities along the Wild and Scenic designated rivers (in MA: Ayer, Bolton, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Pepperell, Shirley, and Townsend; in NH: Brookline and Hollis). Applications are due by February 1, 2022 with awards announced in March, 2022.
 
Projects funded in the 2021 program included signs for Ayer's waterways and ponds, a connecting trail in Bolton, riverside tree planting in Brookline, a management plan and training on invasive plants in Pepperell, riverbank stabilization in Townsend, and support for restoring a historical cooperage in Townsend. 
 
A Request for Proposals and Grant Application for the 2022 program are available at  www.wildandscenicnashuarivers.org.
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Shirley Democrats Caucus 2/19/22

SHIRLEY: You are invited to join the Shirley Democratic Town Committee for their Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention Caucus on Saturday, February 19 at 10am. This will be a "hybrid" meeting: the in-person location is the Shirley Town Offices, 7 Keady Way. To receive the Zoom link, email ShirleyDTC@yahoo.com.  Registration/ check-in will be from 10-10:30am.
 
At this caucus, the Committee will elect one male and one female, or one female and one non-binary gender, or one male and one non-binary gender, or two non-binary gender delegates, plus one alternate to attend the Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention. You need not be a member of the Shirley DTC to attend the caucus or be elected as a delegate.

The Convention will be held on Friday and Saturday, June 3 and 4 at the DCU Center in Worcester to endorse candidates for statewide office and unite to elect Democrats down the ballot in November of 2022.
 
All are welcome; however, only registered Shirley Democrats at the time of the caucus are eligible to vote for or run as delegates. Voter registration forms will be available during the registration period. Pre-registered Democrats who will be age 16 by February 4, 2022, will be allowed to participate and run as a delegate or alternate. Youth, minorities and people with disabilities who are not elected as delegates or alternates may apply to be add-on delegates.
 
This is a great way to get involved and learn about the political party process!
Questions? Email ShirleyDTC@yahoo.com or visit @DTCShirley on Facebook and Twitter.
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“Nurturing Native Plants & Pollinators” with Daphne Minner at Groton Garden Club

GROTON: Groton Garden Club presents their Annual Public Lecture 2022 on Saturday, February 5 at 2pm.  The topic of this FREE Webinar lecture is “Nurturing Native Plants & Pollinators” with Daphne Minner.  A garden coach, designer and botanic educator, Minner will be sharing practices that buffer against pollinator declines and create a dynamic garden that shifts from being exclusively for humans to functional habitats for many species. This event is open to the public, made possible by a grant from the Groton Commissioners of Trust Lecture Fund. Register at www.grotongardenclub.org.
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SVT Seeks Support for Habitat Conservation Project

HARVARD: Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) has joined with the Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT) to conserve 45 acres of important wildlife habitat in Harvard near the Boxborough town line. This land, called Eastern Greenway-North, spans hilly woodlands and forested wetlands. It provides habitat for a variety of wildlife, including several rare and endangered species.

SVT is a regional land trust that conserves land in 36 communities. The organization is raising funds to help HCT purchase this land, which sits between two other HCT properties: the Littleton County Road Conservation Area and Horse Meadows Knoll.

“It is an exciting and rare opportunity to conserve Eastern Greenway-North,” said Meredith Houghton, Land Protection Specialist at SVT. “This land is part of an exceptionally healthy landscape that supports many species of wildlife, including moose, bobcat, hawks, and owls. The property is a quiet stretch of land with forests, vernal pools, and wetland areas.” She continued, “By linking together several conservation areas, we will ensure that these animals can continue to roam freely as they search for food and nesting spots.”

SVT is supporting this project as part of the High Ridge Initiative (HRI). The HRI is a collaborative effort of several local land trusts and town governments to protect about 2,000 acres of ecologically rich lands in Harvard, Littleton, and Boxborough. To date, the HRI has conserved Horse Meadows Knoll in Harvard, Elizabeth Brook Knoll in Boxborough, and the Smith Conservation Area in Littleton.

In a collaboration with HCT, SVT has agreed to raise $90,000 toward the purchase of Eastern Greenway-North. After securing much of the money from foundation grants, SVT faces a gap of $25,000 and is launching a public campaign to raise the remaining funds.

“HCT is grateful for our long-standing partnership with SVT,” said Michael Morton, President of HCT. “We appreciate the staff’s dedication to conserving the natural areas that are so important to the health of local communities. ”

Eastern Greenway-North is part of a larger effort being spearheaded by HCT to conserve 200 acres of undeveloped land in eastern Harvard. SVT’s support of the 45-acre Eastern Greenway-North purchase will enable HCT to devote more of its resources toward the remaining 155 acres.

If the Eastern Greenway-North project succeeds, SVT will hold a conservation restriction on the property to ensure it can never be developed and continues to provide benefits to wildlife and people for generations to come. The public is invited to learn more at www.svtweb.org/EGN.
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Bus Shuttles Replace Weekday Train Service January 24 & 25

Due to the work on the PTC implementation project, bus shuttles will replace weekday train service between Littleton & Wachusett of Fitchburg Line on Monday, January 24 and Tuesday, January 25. Normal weekday train service is expected to resume on Wednesday, January 26.

Visit www.MBTA.com/PTC for more information on how this project will improve commuter rail safety and travel. The dedicated diversion schedule is available online or for pick up at North Station.

As a reminder, during the ongoing PTC/ATC (Positive Train Control/ Automatic Train Control) implementation project, bus shuttles replace train service at weekends between Wachusett and Littleton/495 through the end of winter 2021-2022.

Fitchburg Line Shuttle Details

The shuttles will pick up and drop off passengers as follows:
 
  • Wachusett: in the parking lot in front of the station
  • Fitchburg: in Bay 1 of the Intermodal Transportation Center
  • North Leominster: on the ground level of the parking garage by the stairwell
  • Shirley: at Phoenix St. by the crosswalk
  • Ayer: inside the parking/ drop-off loop
  • Littleton/495: in the parking lot in front of the station

For more information about these service changes, please see http://mbta.com/fbgwork.
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The Sandy Pond School Story Now Online

AYER: Sandy Pond School Association is pleased to announce that The Sandy Pond School Story is now available online. This 14-minute video offers a brief, lively history of Ayer's historic Sandy Pond Schoolhouse from its opening in 1869 to the present. Hosted on YouTube, it is now freely available via links from the following sites:
 

The Schoolhouse Opened in 1869 and celebrated its 150th anniversary in September, 2019. Ayer's oldest public building and a National Register of Historic Places site, it was originally constructed by the Town of Groton as District #11 School. It became part of the Ayer school system when Ayer separated from Groton in 1871, and closed as a school in 1906.

Founded in 1908, Sandy Pond School Association is an all-volunteer 501c3 organization. Its sole mission, which it has now executed faithfully for 113 years, is the preservation and maintenance of Sandy Pond Schoolhouse.
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State and Local Partners Team Up to Conserve Prospect Hill Community Orchard

HARVARD: A collaboration of local government and nonprofit organizations has set an ambitious goal to permanently protect 70 acres of Prospect Hill Community Orchard. Rising 500 feet above the surrounding countryside on Prospect Hill Road, the orchard has long been part of the agricultural fabric of the region. Its current owner is Community Harvest Project (CHP), a nonprofit farm that grows and donates fruits and vegetables to area food banks. CHP also creates a sense of community by recruiting hundreds of volunteers each year to harvest and sort the produce for distribution.

To fund an endowment that will ensure the future of this mission, CHP has agreed to sell an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) on the property to the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture (MDAR) and the Town of Harvard for $2.5 million. The APR, which will become part of the deed, will prohibit development of the orchard and will require all future owners to use the land for agriculture. MDAR has committed $1.239 million to the purchase of the APR, while the Town of Harvard will contribute at least $300,000.

The project is receiving fundraising support from Harvard Conservation Trust (HCT) and Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT), two nonprofit land trusts that conserve natural areas and farmland in the region. CHP is also applying for grants to offset part of the purchase price. An anonymous donor has provided a big boost to the fundraising campaign by agreeing to contribute $125,000 if the project team can raise $375,000.

“SVT is delighted to be part of the effort to protect this orchard,” said Christa Collins, SVT’s Director of Land Protection. “In addition to saving a source of locally grown produce, we will plug a hole in an important corridor of conservation lands and wildlife habitat.”

Michael Morton, President of HCT added, “The Harvard Conservation Trust is excited and committed to protect this historic orchard in our town that has been in operation for over 100 years. It’s a critical property known for its prime agricultural soils, ecological significance, and proximity to adjacent open space, wetlands, and streams.”

Prospect Hill Community Orchard sits amid several large conservation areas, including the Town of Harvard’s Dean’s Hill Conservation Land, the Fruitlands Museum owned by The Trustees of Reservations, and the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge that reaches into Ayer and Shirley. Left unprotected, the orchard could eventually be developed for commercial and residential use, which would encroach on the ecological properties of the surrounding lands. Permanent protection of the orchard, however, will allow wildlife to more easily roam between these lands in search of nesting habitat and food.

"Community Harvest Project is thrilled to work with so many great local partners to ensure this land is protected in perpetuity,” said Tori Buerschaper, Executive Director of CHP. “Protecting this land provides habitat; green space for the community; local volunteer, leadership, and team-building opportunities; and a consistent supply of fresh produce to the hunger relief network."

Buerschaper noted that in 2021, 1,031 volunteers served 3,041 hours at the orchard. The orchard donated 189,000 pounds of apples and peaches to 23 organizations spread across Harvard, Acton, Ayer, Clinton, Devens, and Townsend.

Hikers also should be pleased to learn that CHP plans to grant a permanent easement for a trail that will run alongside the orchard property and connect to a trail network on adjacent lands.
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Nahum Gardner Hazard: An Illustrated Presentation at Shirley Museum

SHIRLEY: Imagine being a poor family living in Shirley in 1839. Imagine a widow had four young children to raise on her own. Imagine a man offered to apprentice her nine-year-old son to work in a tavern and receive an education. Imagine that weeks later the truth was found that the boy was taken south and sold as a slave. In 2019, Jeannie Bartovics researched and wrote the story of Nahum Gardner Hazard, the boy who was kidnapped from his home in Shirley.  Bartovics was to share her research at the Shirley Historical Society in 2020, but the program was cancelled due to the pandemic. Since that time, Jeannie passed away, but her husband gave permission for the Museum to present her research on Sunday, January 16 at 2pm. The illustrated lecture will be presented at the Museum, 182 Center Road, and also live streamed via zoom. Masks are required for all Museum visitors. Email mail@shirleyhistory.org if you wish to participate via zoom.
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2022 Annual Town Census/Street Listing Delayed

AYER: The 2022 Annual Town Census/Street Listing will have a delay in mailing due to the Reprecincting process.
There are 3 major components to the process:
 
  •     Phase 1 - LEDRC (Local Election Districts Review Commission) approval for new maps based on 2020 Federal Census data.  (Complete)
  • Phase 2 – Updating the Town’s VRIS (Voter Registration Information System) street addresses with the 2020 blocks and tracts, as designated by the Federal Census. (In Progress)
  • Phase 3 – Updating precincts in VRIS to match the Town’s newly approved maps. (Scheduled for January 2021)

The decision to delay mailing the 2022 Census was to avoid confusion for voters. When the State has completed the updated information in the VRIS, the updated information on the census will provide the changes in precincts.  To mail the 2022 Census with expired information would potentially confuse  voters. The delay in receiving your 2022 Census will not impact anyone’s voter registration status.

Once the updates are completed, the 2022 Census will be mailed, available on the Town of Ayer website, and available in the Town Clerk’s office. If you have any questions, please feel free to call the Town Clerk’s office at 978-772-8220 ext. 153 or email at clerk@ayer.ma.us.
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Harvard Lions 31th Annual Citrus Sale Benefits Local Charities

HARVARD: The Harvard Lions are selling fresh oranges and grapefruit direct from Florida – picked just days before delivery to Harvard. Treat your family to great fruit while at the same time benefiting Lions charities and families in need! They offer Royal Ruby Red grapefruit - Sweet, thin-skinned and seedless, the flavor is reminiscent of refreshing red grapes and sweet nectarines, and Valencia oranges -- Delicate texture with sweet juice that quenches your thirst. Perfect for hand eating, sectioning, juicing or even freezing. Both are available in 20 lb. boxes for $35 each as well a ‘mixed’ 20 lb. box available for $35.

You can pre-order online and have the fruit delivered to your home (in Harvard and adjacent towns of Ayer, Boxborough, Devens, Lancaster, Littleton, Shirley and Stow) by a Harvard Lion starting March 19. No need to be home for this “curbside drop off”. Boxes will also be sold on a ‘cash and carry’ basis at the Harvard Town Center weekends of March 19 and 26 (Saturdays March 19 & 26 Hours 8 AM -3 PM) and Sundays (March 20 & 27 Hours 10 AM – 2 PM). Also being offered are a number of fruit gift boxes that can be ordered online and shipped anywhere in the continental United States. This offers an option to send a gift to others while supporting our local charities.

To order online go to www.harvardlions.org. Any questions, please email harvardlionsfruitsale@gmail.com.
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StageWorks Presents Cinderella; Auditions January 11 & 13

LEOMINSTER: StageWorks is proud to announce their first large musical of the season, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s beloved Cinderella, with music by Richard Rodgers and a book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It is based upon the fairy tale Cinderella, particularly the French version Cendrillon, ou la petite pantoufle de verre ("Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper"), by Charles Perrault. The story concerns a young woman forced into a life of servitude by her cruel stepmother and self-centered stepsisters, who dreams of a better life. With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is transformed into a princess and finds her prince. 

Auditions will be held on Tuesday, January 11 and Thursday, January 13 at 6:30pm at Leominster City Hall, 25 Main Street.  Parking is adjacent to City Hall and please come in the back entrance which is all the way at the end of the lot with a ramp.  The production fee is $40 per person with a maximum cap of $100 per family.  The production is open to all ages 5 and up.  They are particularly looking for a chorus of children as well.

All actors must be fully vaccinated. No exceptions (unless the child is too young to receive it). Upon arrival, please be masked and prepared to show proof of vaccination. You may unmask once onstage for your audition.  The staff is fully vaccinated.   Those auditioning for lead roles, prepare a song from the show.  If you are seeking an ensemble role, prepare any song you wish from a musical theater repertoire (no pop music). Singing accompanied by the music director is highly recommended.  Prepare no more than 32 bars of your song.  Children auditioning can prepare a song that they are comfortable singing.  All roles are open.

Rehearsals are tentatively scheduled for Sunday afternoons/evenings and Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  Rehearsals on Sundays will typically begin at 1:30pm and the weekday rehearsals will run 6:30pm to 9:30pm.  A detailed rehearsal schedule will be issued month to month.  Weekday rehearsals, unless noted, take place at Leominster City Hall.  Sundays will be in an alternate location in Leominster.  All rehearsals for children that occur on weeknights will be held at the beginning on the evening so that they can be dismissed by 8pm.

Performances run April 29 and 30 at 7:30pm, April 30 at 2pm and May 1 at 3pm at Saint Anna School in Leominster. 
For more information, visit www.stageworksarts.org or email info@stageworksarts.org.
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Take Part in a Play, Have Fun & Stay Safe at ShirleyArts!

SHIRLEY: Take part in a play, have fun, stay safe. ShirleyArts! will be holding auditions for a VIRTUAL comedy called How to Survive Being in a Shakespeare Play by Don Zolidis on January 4 and 6 from 6-9pm. Appointments are required for these Zoom auditions.

This program is for ages 12 through adult. All roles are open to any gender for this comedy (loosely) based on the works of William Shakespeare. There are 9 scenes requiring at least 12 actors to play several parts, but there are a total of 45 roles in the show! That means that everyone gets to take part.

Farcical scene titles include: “Listen to the Magic Ladies” featuring Julius Caesar, MacBeth, and 3 witches. “Listen to the Regular Ladies, Too”, featuring Ophelia, Hamlet, and Gertrude. “Get a Proper Amount of Sleep in a Place Where no one Will Murder You”, featuring Lady MacBeth, Ghost, Nurse. “Avoid Snakes”, featuring Cleopatra and The Asp.

Participation fee: $10 for non-members; $9 for members After you register you will receive pages from the script to look over before your audition. NO memorization needed.  Rehearsals will be held via Zoom on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. You will receive a schedule for your specific rehearsal and recording nights.

For more information, contact director Meredith Marcinkewicz at mmarcinkewicz@shirleyarts.info.

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Winter Advisory Regarding Face Coverings

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This Advisory has been updated as of December 21,  2021.

COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine boosters are highly effective at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization and death and every individual who is eligible and works, studies or resides in Massachusetts is strongly urged to get vaccinated and boosted. The Department of Public Health urges all eligible residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because vaccination provides the most effective protection from severe illness associated with COVID-19.

In response to the spread of the Delta variant and the emerging Omicron variant, the Department of Public Health now advises that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask or face covering when indoors (and not in your own home). The DPH particularly urges this recommendation if you have a weakened immune system, or if you are at increased risk for severe disease because of your age or an underlying medical condition, or if someone in your household has a weakened immune system, is at increased risk for severe disease, or is unvaccinated.

Your primary care physician can advise you whether you are at increased risk.  Information from the Centers for Disease Control regarding the conditions that may put you at increased risk can be found at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html.

All people in Massachusetts (regardless of vaccination status) are required to continue wearing face coverings in certain settings, including transportation and health care facilities.  Please see www.mass.gov/maskrules for a complete list of venues where face coverings have remained mandatory since May 29, 2021.

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s current mask requirement and Policy on Vaccination Rate Threshold issued on September 27th, 2021 is not impacted by this advisory.  As a result of the most comprehensive and robust school testing program in the country, with 99% of public, collaborative and charter districts enrolled, Massachusetts elementary and secondary schools remain open and safe for children and youth to engage in learning, with over 325,000 school days saved. Only schools who can demonstrate they have high vaccination rates of over 80% of all individuals vaccinated are able to remove masks for vaccinated individuals upon a written attestation.
For individuals who are not fully vaccinated, it is especially important that you wear a face covering or mask any time you are indoors and not in your own home to reduce the chance that you may spread COVID-19 to other people. People who show no symptoms of illness may still be able to spread COVID-19.

An individual is fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. However, if a fully vaccinated individual becomes symptomatic, they should be tested and wear a mask until receiving test results.
When you wear a face covering or cloth mask, it should:
 
  • Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face,
  • Be secured with ties or ear loops,
  • Include multiple layers of fabric,
  • Allow for breathing without restriction, and
  • Be able to be laundered and machine dried without damage or change to shape.

For more information, please refer to the CDC at: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/fully-vaccinated-guidance.html

Public Notification - Kiddie Junction Playground at Pirone Park CLOSED to the Public December 10, 2021

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AYER: Kiddie Junction Playground at Pirone Park was constructed in 1989 using standard techniques and materials for that time. As part of the Town’s plan to remediate and replace the playground structure, on December 7, 2021, the Town of Ayer’s Licensed Site Professional (LSP) notified MassDEP of arsenic contamination at the Kiddie Junction Playground.  At that time, the Town of Ayer was informed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that the Kiddie Junction Playground is to be closed due to the presence of arsenic in the playground structure which was a common wood treatment for playgrounds of this period.  MassDEP approved the Town’s plan to close the playground and to fence off the area.
As of December 10, 2021, the Kiddie Junction Playground has been closed and a perimeter fence has been installed.

The Town has been informed that the likelihood of health implications due to exposure to these common materials is believed to be very low.  If you are concerned, you should contact your primary health care provider.

The Ayer Parks Commission is currently working on a proposed plan to replace the Kiddie Junction Playground with an estimated timeline for construction to proceed in July 2022. For more information, please contact the Ayer Parks Commission at (978) 796-5915.

‘Blue Christmas’ Vigil of Hope & Healing at UCC/Groton

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GROTON: On December 21, Union Congregational Church of Groton is hosting a community-wide ‘Blue Christmas’ service for all who find the holidays emotionally difficult. This
special gathering will take place at 7pm in the church’s sanctuary. All people are welcome.

“The past twenty months have been incredibly difficult for so many people,” says Rev. Corey Sanderson. “This church wanted to do something for the wider community that would help ease the burdens of grief and loss that people are carrying. This is our gift to the people of
Groton and the surrounding towns.”

The evening will be quiet and contemplative in tone, with times of prayer, silence, poetry, and music. There will be readings from scripture, hymns to sing, and the opportunity to come forward to light a candle in honor or memory of a loved one or situation.

“What makes Blue Christmas so meaningful,” says Rev. Sanderson, “is that it helps us name the loss and grief, but it won’t let us stay there. It lifts us up and points us up ahead to the hope and healing that are central in the Christmas story.”

People often feel pressured to ‘put on a happy face’ for the holidays. These social pressures devalue the real hurt we are experiencing. ‘Blue Christmas’ creates a safe space to honor losses and grief, even as we are reminded that brighter days are now upon us.

“No matter who you are, what you believe, or even if you don’t believe at all, you are welcome here,” says Rev. Sanderson. “Make this a night of self-care. In the endless stress and busyness of the holiday, just come and receive and find a measure of peace.”

CDC guidelines will be followed and masks are recommended. An RSVP is not required, but appreciated: unioncc@uccgroton.org or 978-448-2091 Union Congregational Church is located at 218 Main Street.  Visit them online at www.uccgroton.org and on Facebook.
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Pirone Park Perimeter Path Holiday Decorations

AYER: Would you like to help the Ayer Parks Department decorate the perimeter path at Pirone Park this holiday season?  They would like to set up a collection of Christmas trees and snowmen along the walkway, and thought it might be a fun activity for families and individuals of Ayer jump in.  Here’s how it works:
 
  • The Parks Department will be making plywood cutouts of Christmas trees and snowmen, about 4’ tall and 2’ wide, for people to decorate. 
  • Participants can decorate their cutout any way they like, with the proviso that they use materials and techniques that will allow them to stand out in harsh conditions for a month or more.
  • Those wishing to participate can contact the Parks Department via email at parks@ayer.ma.us to reserve a cutout and set up a time to pick it up (only one cutout per family please).  The cost to participate will be $20 and you can choose between a tree or snowman.  When you pick up your cutout you will also need to fill out a brief form with contact info. 
  • There are a limited supply, so once cutouts are gone, they will discontinue distributing them. Reserve your cutout ASAP to guarantee you will get one. Participants must return their decorated cutouts by December 15.  The Parks Department will set up the decorated trees and snowmen once they are returned.
  • The decorations will remain up through the school holiday break, then be taken down some time after, then repainted to be reused next year.  Those wishing to keep their snowman or tree may do so by letting them know prior to their being taken down.

Join the fun!  If you have any questions, feel free to call Jeff Thomas at the Parks Department office at 978-758-4827.
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Oh…the Wonderful Things We’ll Do!  ArtsNashoba Opens Registrations for 2022 Production of “Seussical”

GROTON: It’s been a LONG time since ArtsNashoba was forced to shut down its production of “Seussical, the Musical” in March of 2020… just a week before performance weekend!  “We lost so much because of the shut down,” said President Sharon Bisantz of Lowell.  “We’re thankful we enjoyed many weeks of rehearsal time with a great group of young people, but it’s a let down that they didn’t get their time under the lights in an actual performance.  On the administrative side, ArtsNashoba also lost all revenues for the year thanks to Covid, putting a lot of pressure on the organization just to continue!”

But continue they will, as ongoing fundraising efforts and continued determination are bringing “Seussical” back into play in the Spring of 2022, with registrations open now and rehearsals beginning early in the new year.  Auditions will take place January 7, 2022 (4-6pm), with a follow-up round on January 11 (same time) at the Union Congregational Church in Groton, 220 Main Street. Director Kathleen McKenzie and Music Director Scott Cruikshank are looking to cast young people ages 8 to 18 – no prior experience necessary. All roles are open and all who audition/register will be included.

Rehearsals will run Tuesdays and Fridays from 4-6pm, and Saturdays from 10am-noon.  The health and safety of all are paramount, so CDC recommended protocols will be monitored and followed to the fullest degree.  Performances will take place March 26-28, 2022 at the Richardson-Mees Performing Arts Center at Lawrence Academy in Groton.

Tuition for this production is $295 ($275 for siblings), which includes the entire rehearsal process, costumes and make-up.   Scholarships are available based on need.  For more information and to register, email info@artsnashoba.org, or visit ArtsNashoba online at www.artsnashoba.org or @artsnashoba on Facebook.
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MBTA Fitchburg Line Schedule Changes

AYER: Since the work schedule changes, the planned diversion of the Fitchburg Line on 12/6/21 is changed to 12/13/21.  Bus shuttles will replace normal train service all day between Wachusett and Littleton/495 on Monday, December 13. Normal train service will operate on Monday, Dec 6th. 
 
A dedicated bus schedule will be in place during the duration of the outage. Shuttle schedule. Normal weekday train service will resume on Tuesday, December 14. 
 
As a reminder, during the ongoing PTC/ATC (Positive Train Control/ Automatic Train Control) implementation project, bus shuttles replace train service at weekends between Wachusett and Littleton/495 through the end of winter 2021-2022. Visit MBTA.com/PTC for more information on how this project will improve commuter rail safety and travel. 
 
Fitchburg Line Shuttle details:
 
The shuttle schedule will correspond with the train schedule at Littleton/ 495 in order to minimize the disruption to passengers’ journeys. Please see the attached document or visit www.mbta.com/schedules/CR-Fitchburg/timetable to view the schedules. 
 
The shuttles will pick up and drop off passengers as follows:
 
  • Wachusett: in the parking lot in front of the station
  • Fitchburg: in Bay 1 of the Intermodal Transportation Center
  • North Leominster: on the ground level of the parking garage by the stairwell
  • Shirley: at Phoenix St. by the crosswalk
  • Ayer: inside the parking/ drop-off loop
  • Littleton/495: in the parking lot in front of the station
 
For more information about these service changes, please see http://mbta.com/fbgwork.

UPDATE:
Since the PTC work was completed early,  the planned diversion/busing between Wachusett and Littleton/495 on the Fitchburg Line on Monday December 13th has been cancelled.  Normal train service will run on Monday, December 13th. As a reminder, during the ongoing PTC/ATC (Positive Train Control/ Automatic Train Control) implementation project, bus shuttles replace train service on weekends between Wachusett and Littleton/495 through the end of winter 2021-2022. For more information about these service changes, please see http://mbta.com/fbgwork

Nashoba Park Resident Celebrates Lifetime Achievement Award

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AYER: Sabrina Rice, a resident of Ayer for more than 50 years, recently received the
Lifetime Achievement Award from Nashoba Park Assisted Living Community, recognizing her special achievements and life experiences.

Born in Chicago, IL, Sabrina moved to Ayer at age six with her parents. Growing up, she enjoyed playing basketball and softball through different organizations in Ayer, and she loved participating in several Special Olympics events throughout Massachusetts. Sabrina attended
Ayer High School, and for several years she worked at Wendy’s, where she made many close friends. When she was younger, Sabrina Rice used to ride her bike all over the town of Ayer. Because of this, she can tell you the fastest way to get to any place in town. She lives by the
motto “Try new things, and always be friendly.”

Sabrina is most proud of all the friends she has made, especially all her new friends since moving to Nashoba Park. She also remains actively involved in artistic programs.

Kimberly Gagnon, Executive Director of Nashoba Park, explained the significance of the Lifetime Achievement Award, “We recognize that every single person in our community has a rich and meaningful story to tell. It’s important to us to make sure residents and associates at
Nashoba Park know the life story and accomplishments of the people they are seeing every day.”

Nashoba Park is a Volunteers of America Massachusetts non-profit Assisted Living community. For more information about Nashoba Park, visit www.NashobaPark.com.
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The Glue Factory LiveStream Concert at Healing Garden

HARVARD: The Glue Factory will be performing a livestream concert on Sunday, December 5 at 3pm to benefit cancer services provided by The Healing Garden Cancer Support Center. The Glue Factory plays folk-rock and lesser-known classic rock and blues in an Americana style. They have fun finding and playing well-crafted songs that appeal to audiences of all ages. It’s the kind of music that has been played on front porches and around kitchen tables and has stood the test of time.

Registration is open to the public, free of charge, with a suggested donation of $10. See website for more details and to register. www.healinggardensupport.org. Questions about the concert may be directed to Volunteer Concert Coordinator, Michele Abroff at concertcoordinator1@healinggardensupport.org  

The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden, located at 145 Bolton Road, is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to providing integrative cancer care through therapeutic services, educational programs, and a healing environment for all people with a cancer diagnosis. Philanthropic support is a critical lifeline in helping to ensure The Healing Garden can continue to provide the necessary services to all of their clients, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, visit their website or call (978) 456-3532.
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St. Andrew’s Offers 20th Annual Nativities Display from Around the World

AYER: St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will host its annual “In A Manger” event on Saturday, December 4, 10am to 5pm, and on Sunday, December 5, Noon to 4pm.  Begun in 2001 with 75 nativity scenes and after taking a year off due to the pandemic, we are thrilled once again to bring a stellar display with over 350 creches from around the world.  Founder Carolyn Smith is committed to providing this opportunity to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the commercial holiday season to wonder and marvel at how the birth of Jesus is depicted in different cultures through varied artistic expressions. This event is free and open to the public.  Homemade cookies and hot apple cider will be available to visitors of this exhibition.  Please wear a mask. St. Andrew’s is located at 7 Faulkner Street in Ayer. For more information, please visit the St. Andrew’s website at www.standrewsayer.org.

Domestic Violence Roundtable Invites You to Support Holiday Drives for Families Affected by Abuse

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Each year the Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable sponsors a family for the holidays, and each year we invite our local communities to become involved in making the holidays brighter for families affected by domestic violence. Families in shelter for the holidays face a sad and difficult time as they are separated from family and friends and are hiding from their abusers.

The Covid 19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it has been especially difficult for families affected by abuse. With the help of our local communities, these families can have happy holidays. There are a number of ways that you can help. Sponsoring a family can be a wonderful way for you and your family to do something together to help others. You can also involve extended family, neighbors, and friends. Or perhaps your colleagues at work, your book club, scout troop, civic organization, or club would like to organize a collection. Your participation in a holiday drive can help relieve the stress and depression that overcome shelter families at this time of year. The support that comes from the community at this time of year reinforces their decisions to seek safety and end violence in their lives. Each gift, each donation, each good holiday wish has a positive effect on their self-esteem and boosts their spirits.

Three local agencies offer services and programs for families affected by domestic violence. All of these programs conduct a Holiday Drive. For further information about how you might help, please contact:
 

Holiday drives start early so that agencies have time to process donations. In some cases, gift cards are being collected so families can shop and wrap their presents. Call now to see how you can help.
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Harvard Lions Club Offers Something New for the Holidays

HARVARD: The Harvard Lions Club is offering something new this year! They are complementing their spring citrus sale with a fall fruit sale in time for holiday giving. The online only Fall Fruit Sale is now available. Gift boxes can be shipped anywhere in the continental United States. Place your order by December 12 for Christmas delivery.
 
Celebrate the holidays with delectable gourmet fruit boxes. The perfect assortment of gifts surely can satisfy every taste. Apples, pears, mandarin and navel oranges are freshly picked a few days before shipment. Send a box to your family and friends to show you are thinking about them. At the same time support your local charitable organizations. Go to www.HarvardLions.org to place your order and support the Harvard Lions!
 
For those who want to extend their holiday giving, consider a donation to Loaves and Fishes in Devens. Gift boxes are welcome at Loaves and Fishes, Attn: Tim Last, Food Coordinator, 234 Barnum Road, Devens, MA  01434.
 
Any questions, please email HarvardLionsFruitSale@gmail.com.
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ShirleyArts Present "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown"

SHIRLEY: For the first time in 22 months, ShirleyArts! will present a public performance on the stage at the Ayer Shirley Middle School - the wonderful family-friendly musical "You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown." Performances will be at 7:30pm on Friday, November 12 and Saturday, November 13, plus an extra matinee performance at 2pm on Saturday.  Seating in the auditorium will be spaced out and audience members will need to wear masks while they are in the building. Tickets may be charged in advance using paypal at www.shirleyarts.info or purchased by cash or check in the school lobby on the day of the show.
 
Joe Kandra of Littleton stars as the ever hopeful Charlie Brown, with Christine Guertin of Lunenburg as his antagonist, Lucy Van Pelt.  Snoopy is played both on and off the doghouse by Laurie Marcinkewicz of Fitchburg. Austin Walker of Orth Reading will be playing his toy piano in his role as Schroeder. Heather Pruiksma of Ayer hangs on tightly to her blanket as she sings and dances the role of Linus. Emily Lambert of Lowell appears as the energetic, feisty Sally Brown. Even Woodstock appears in this production, being played by Sophie Houle of Leominster. Director and producer for the show, which had to be postponed from March of 2020, is Meredith Marcinkewicz with Music Director Betsy Fiedler.
 
“Happiness” is the most famous song from this show and the members of ShirleyArts! are very, very happy to be back doing what makes them happy.

Parish Jazz Band at The Healing Garden

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HARVARD: The Parish Jazz Band will be performing a virtual livestream concert to benefit the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden on Sunday, November 14 at 3pm. The Band, established in 2004, is affiliated with the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton, and for more than 15 years has contributed to the local jazz scene. The PJB plays music from the Great American Songbook (Ellington, Carmichael, Arlen, Gershwin, Rodgers, Porter), bebop (Parker, Coltrane, Davis, Gillespie), and Latin jazz (Jobim, Palmieri). Currently, the Band is seven people, four men, and three women, including saxophone, trombone, trumpet, bass, drums, guitar, and vocals.

Registration is open to the public, free of charge, with suggested donation of $10. Visit www.healinggardensupport.org for more details and/or to register. Questions about the concert may be directed to concertcoordinator1@healinggardensupport.org.

The Virginia Thurston Healing Garden, located at 145 Bolton Road, is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to providing integrative cancer care through therapeutic services, educational programs, and a healing environment for all people with a cancer diagnosis. Philanthropic support is a critical lifeline in helping to ensure The Healing Garden can continue to provide the necessary services to all of their clients, regardless of their ability to pay. For more information, call (978) 456-3532.
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Groton Woman's Club Hosts 15th Annual Greens Sale

GROTON: The Groton Woman’s Club will hold their Fifteenth Annual Greens Sale on Saturday, December 4 2021 from 9am to 1pm (Snow Date - Sunday, December 5) at Williams Barn, 160 Chicopee Row.  Among things available will be traditional holiday wreaths, boxwood trees, centerpieces, swags and kissing balls, along with a beautiful quilt raffle, ornaments and fabulous Holiday Cookies. Proceeds from this sale go toward scholarships for students at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School, Nashoba Valley Technical High School and Francis W. Parker Charter School and other charitable organizations. Pre-ordering is available.  For further information:  Call Nancy at (978) 448-3181 or Tracey at (978) 448-2245. Special orders due by 11/19/2021.