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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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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.

Ayer Fair Boasts a Family-friendly Activities, Gifts, Raffle & Guest Readers

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AYER: On November 6, the Friends of the Ayer Library and Ayer Cultural Council are offering up a special Holiday Treasure Trove with shopping galore and extra fun, family-friendly treats! Stroll thru aisles and aisles of holiday gifts and stocking stuffers! Some of the scheduled vendors include Board + Beauty, Cathy's Succulent Dish Gardens, Falltown Furniture & Woodworks, Four Seasons Designs, Friends by Design, Hearts for Paws, James Spinelli Jewelry, Jennifer's Handmade Soap, Maryanne's Beads and Bling, Bright Eyes Pet Portraits, Clay Rapt Art, PeachLab Mini Boutique, Rylie Doo’s, Seatonesque Creations, Signs & Snippets, Singe Confectionery, Triple Rescue Plan, Tastefully Simple, Thirty One Gifts and Windsong Craft Studio. The Ayer Holiday Treasure Trove event will take place in the Great Hall at Town Hall on Main Street on November 6 from noon to 5pm. Kick off your holiday celebrations with a fun event supporting two Town-supporting agencies!

Browse The Friends of the Ayer Library book, CD and DVD sale. There'll be like-new to new titles for all ages in all categories to peruse and buy. The Ayer Cultural Council will also be on hand selling their community favorite “Ayer Calendars,” featuring beautiful local photography and tidbits from Ayer residents to flip through monthly.

There is also be other fun planned, such as kids’ crafts with ArtsNashoba, as well as Guest Readers in the “Book Nook” every 1/2 hour!  Sit and listen to some favorites read by ASRSD Superintendent Adam Renda, Senator Jamie Eldridge (pictured), Fire Chief Tim Johnson, Library Board of Trustees President Sharon Slarsky, Police Chief Brian Gill, State Representative Sheila Harrington, Ayer Library Director Tim Silva and Author J. Anthony Garreffi.
Please consider bringing a broken/used/previously played with toy (1 per child) for 100% recycling. Working with charitable mission partner Terracycle-Hasbro, you can give your well-loved toys and games a second life by recycling them. It helps out Santa, the Elves, AND the planet!

Feeling lucky?  There will also be a wealth of raffle items to shoot for, all containing items donated from Town businesses and friends including Mrs. Cooper’s Cookies, Buffalo Wild Wings and Ayer Auto Parts, plus a plethora of local eatery gift cards and bonus prizes.  There will also be an autographed complete set of author Garreffi’s “Santa” series!  Tickets will be $1 each; or six for $5.

The Ayer Holiday Treasure Trove event will take place in the Great Hall at Town Hall on Main Street in Ayer on November 6 from noon to 5pm. For more information, contact jgovang@ayer.ma.us or friendsoftheayerlibrary@gmail.com.
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James Webb Telescope Talk with Aldrich Astronomical Society

LUNENBURG: The James Webb Space Telescope will be the largest, most powerful and complex space telescope ever built and launched into space. This telescope is an orbiting infrared observatory that will complement and extend the legacy of earlier space-based telescopes to push the boundaries of human knowledge even further, to the formation of the first galaxies and the horizons of other worlds. Webb will be the premier observatory of the next decade. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe.
 
The Aldrich Astronomical Society, Incorporated has been approved by NASA to provide educational programs about the upcoming launch and capabilities of the James Webb Space Telescope. They will also provide updates on the Aldrich Library Telescope program. This event will take place on November 4 at 6:30PM. Registration is required (this event is open to kids, teens, and adults!), sign up here: https://tinyurl.com/2u5tfz32 or by visiting the Lunenburg Public Library Events page at www.lunenburglibrary.org.
 
This program will feature: space artifacts, telescopes, binoculars, displays, free handouts, and chances for kids to win space-themed prizes! Make sure to check out the Cosmic Canvas Astrophotography Exhibit while you're in house!
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Tweens & Teens Cooking Program at Lunenburg Library

LUNENBURG: Tweens & Teens - Do you enjoy good food? Like to cook? Join the Lunenburg Public Library for their series of cooking classes with Alyssa, a Registered Dietitian with Hannaford's Supermarket! Classes will be held virtually from 4:30-5:30pm on Tuesdays, November 2, 9 & 16. Alyssa will walk through how to prepare delicious and healthy dishes that are perfect for the season. Weekly recipes and lists of needed ingredients will be supplied by the library so that you will be prepared to fully participate in each class. Registration is necessary and the age requirement is 10-14 (grades 4-8). Please note that each class has a separate registration. Register for 1, 2, or all of them! There must be adult supervision for these classes as students will be using cooking utensils and a stove for preparing their recipes. The good news? The goal for each class is to prepare a dish for that night's dinner! Register by visiting the Events page at www.lunenburglibrary.org, or by emailing Susan at selbag@cwmars.org.
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Harvard Resident Featured in Theatre III's Fall Production

WEST ACTON: Harvard resident Maren Caulfield appears as Wilma in Theatre III of West Acton's fall production, Lovers and Other Strangers, by Joseph Bologna and Renee Taylor. Performances run November 5, 6, 12 & 13 at 8pm; November 7 at 2pm at 250 Central Street. Tickets are $22; seniors/students/groups of seven or more $19. For more information, visit www.theatre3.org.
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notloB Parlour Concerts Presents Noah y Maurizio's Acoustic Nomads

HARVARD: Noah y Maurizio, who last performed at Fivesparks in February, 2020, performed under the notloB Parlour Concert banner at Arts at the Armory in various ensembles pre-COVID, while they were students at Berklee College of Music. Noah y Maurizio's Acoustic Nomads comes out of the vibrant musical environments of the Berklee College of Music and the Acoustic Music Seminar at the Savannah Music Festival.  The members of the group are widely recognized as emerging artists in the acoustic music scene, but come from varied musical backgrounds - Traditional and Contemporary, Appalachian and Venezuelan, Brazilian and Jazz influences combine to give Noah y Maurizio's Acoustic Nomads a vibrant sound and broad appeal. November 20, 7:30-9:30pm at Fivesparks, 7 Fairbank Street. Suggested donation $15 under 18 and seniors, $20+ adults. 100% to the artists. Reservations strongly suggested - https://tinyurl.com/9ne59mn9
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Gothic Fiction Book Club for Teens & Twentysomethings

LUNENBURG: Teen and twentysomething fans of gothic fiction are invited to join the newest book club at the Lunenburg Library! On November 2 at 6:30pm, join Teen Services Librarian Susan and Adult Services Librarian Lydia for this hybrid discussion either in-person at the Library or on Zoom (your choice!) the first Tuesday of every month. Registration is open on the event calendar and is required for every meeting. Open to interested readers of all types of gothic works! 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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Closing Weekend at "Sense of Place"

GROTON: October 30 and 31 mark the end of a two-month exhibition of 25 artists of the Nashoba Valley. The works of "Sense of Place" are exhibited in two main locations - Groton History Center's Boutwell House and The Groton Inn - and two accessory locations - Groton Public Library and Old Frog Pond Farm in Harvard. Please visit grotonhistory.org/art to see the hours specific to all locations. Additionally, the final day will celebrate the launch of the 64-page hardcover book of "Sense of Place" featuring photographs of all the works, a statement about the artists' inspiration, and short artist bios. Pick up pre-ordered books or purchase on site ($70 plus tax).  Email info@grotonhistory.org for more information. 
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Pre-lien Notification for Water & Sewer Customers

AYER: Every fall the Ayer Department of Public Works removes past due balances of water and sewer charges that are six months old or older from the accounts at the D.P.W. and the delinquent amount is added to the resident’s third quarter real estate tax bill.  If this applies to you, please make every effort to pay your past due water and/or sewer bill prior to November 19 to avoid this lien process, the fee associated with it and the potential interruption of your water service. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Public Works office at 978-772-8240.
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Ghostology 101 with the Agawam Paranormal Society

LUNENBURG: Stop by the Lunenburg Public Library on Thursday, October 21 at 6:30pm to kick off Halloween with stories of ghost hunting in Massachusetts! This is an all ages program designed to both entertain and educate people to the world of the paranormal and to paranormal investigations. The Agawam Paranormal Society will take you through a basic introduction of the paranormal world and will cover terminology, equipment, technical issues, evidence review (things like video, photos, and EVP), types of hauntings, and types of apparitions. They'll also talk about the do's and don'ts of investigations. Registration is required (this event is open to kids, teens & adults!) Use https://tinyurl.com/zxfwvzwd to sign up. Or go to the Library's website at  lunenburglibrary.org.

Agawam Paranormal started back in December 2007 when Rob Goff started to put a team together. The team has investigated residential and commercial locations all over the state!  Visit www.agawamparanormal.com for more information.
Alpacas

Visit the Alpacas at St. Andrew's Autumn Fair

AYER: The Alpacas from Harvard  Alpaca  Ranch will be the featured guests at St. Andrew's Autumn Festival on Saturday, November 6 from 10am to 2pm. Meet these amazing gentle animals on the lawn at 7 Falkner Street.  While you're there, enjoy free Hot Chocolate while getting a jump start on your Holiday shopping.  A variety of Artisans and Crafters will be on hand with completely unique gift ideas.Try your luck in our raffle and enjoy some of St. Andrew's famous beef stew (or take some to go) while stocking on up Cookies by the pound; Pies & Baked goods.  Pre-order your Holidays Pies for pickup the week of Thanksgiving.
 
There are just a few tables left if any new Artists/Crafters would like to join this year. Contact pmayes@standrewsayer.org or visit www.standrewsayer.org for information.

Alpaca Visit to Nashoba Park

AYER: Harvard Alpaca Ranch in Harvard recently brought a visitor to Nashoba Park Assisted Living! The ranch offers alpaca-assisted therapeutic activities, and on this particular visit they brought Sir Erik, a registered Pet Partners therapy alpaca. Residents were delighted to be able to see him up close and pet him on this beautiful autumn day.

Residents pictured are Dottie Bambini, Richard Chagnon, and Nancy Snay.

Nashoba Park Assisted Living is a project of the nonprofit Volunteers of America Massachusetts, which has supported local seniors with specialized services for over 75 years and continues to fulfill its mission today within its three senior communities – Nashoba Park and its “sister communities” Concord Park in West Concord and Forestdale Park in Malden. These residences, rooted in their communities, have a stellar reputation among residents, their families and local eldercare professionals for the quality of their care and services, innovative programs and building amenities.
View from percussion oct

Nashoba Symphonic Band Opens New Season

BOLTON/WORCESTER: Nashoba Symphonic Band, under the direction of music director and conductor David Wayne Bailey, invites the public to join them for four concerts during the 2021-22 season, each of which celebrates a Special Moment!

NSB is a traditional full symphonic band committed to high-quality, audience-friendly performances of the standard band repertoire, film and stage scores, and popular and march selections. Musicians from almost 30 towns in Central Massachusetts and beyond will perform at Nashoba Regional High School auditorium on Saturday, October 30 at 3pm, at Mechanic's Hall in Worcester on Saturday, February 5 at 2pm, at Nashoba on Sunday, May 1 at 3pm, and wrap up the season at Nashoba on Thursday, June 16 at 7:30pm. All performances are free and open to the public. At this time masks are required.

The ensemble will open the season with “An American Moment,” celebrating the musical roots of this great country. The journey will lead from pieces based on music from colonial times, “Chester” and “When Jesus Wept” by William Schuman, through a vigorous set of “Variations on American” by Charles Ives and conclude with Robert Russell Bennett's classic, “Suite of Old American Dances.” Topping things off will be Sousa's classic, “The Stars and Stripes Forever.”

“A Moment of Celebration!” will take place on Saturday, February 5 at 2pm. At Mechanics Hall in Worcester, celebrating NSB's Fifth Anniversary (a year late!). Featured soloist for the concert will be organist, Gavin Klein. Highlights of the concert include Bach's “Fantasia in G-Major,” The Polka and Fugue from “Schwanda the Bagpiper” by Jaromir Weinberger, Persichetti's “Psalm for Band,” and the glorious Finale from the Saint-Saens “Organ Symphony,” as well as marches by Sousa and Goldman.

Sunday, May 1 at 3pm at Nashoba will bring a “Symphonic Moment,” celebrating the symphonic band 'sound.' The program will feature the area premiere of William Grant Still's fabulous “Afro-American Symphony in A-flat,” and the stirring “Hymn for the Innocent” by Massachusetts native, Julie Giroux. Also on the program will be music by Persichetti and Copland.

The season concludes on Thursday, June 16 at 7:30pm at Nashoba with a concert aptly named “A Senior Moment,” celebrating the graduating class of 2022. The program includes the “E-flat Suite” of Gustav Holst and “Crown Imperial” by William Walton, as well as music featuring the graduating seniors.

Nashoba Symphonic Band welcomes new wind, brass and percussion players of all ages with experience at the intermediate or advanced high school level – no matter how long ago that experience might have been. No auditions are necessary. Students grade eight and above are encouraged to join with a recommendation from their high school music director or private music teacher. For more information on joining, contact David Bailey at baileydavidwayne@gmail.com.
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Singer/Songwriter Hooly J. Chan Part of the 2021 Garden Concert Series to Benefit the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden Cancer Support Center

HARVARD: Hooly J. Chan, Singer-Songwriter will perform on Sunday, October 17 at 3pm as part of the 2021 Garden Concert Series to benefit the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden Cancer Support Center. Chan is an accomplished singer, songwriter and musician based in New Bedford and has released two albums. Listening to Hooly’s music is a way to release, heal, imagine, story tell, laugh, and create social change. Registration is open to the public, free of charge, with suggested donation of $10. Visit www.healinggardensupport.org for more details and to register. 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 see website or call (978) 456-3532.
Ayerma

Second Quarter Real Estate and Personal Property Taxes are due November 1, 2021

AYER: Ayer's Second quarter Real Estate and Personal Property bills are coming due 11/01/2021. Did you know that you can now  pay tax bills online by going to www.ayer.ma.us and selecting Online Payments located in the Citizen Action Center? If paying Real Estate or Personal Property Bills you can look up your bills by selecting  “To search for your bill – click here”. You can view a copy of the actual bill mailed to you by selecting Continue and then View Bill.  The fee to pay a bill using e-check is $.50.  This is less than a postage stamp and you get an instant receipt. Please email TAX@ayer.ma.us with any questions or concerns.