Sandy Pond Beach Reopening

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

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

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

Nashua Street Culvert Replacement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spring Auction to Benefit the Healing Garden Cancer Support Center

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

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

Town of Ayer DPW YouthWorks Program Accepting Applications for Summer 2022

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

How do you apply?  Download the application form here.  Applications are due by June 3, 2022.

Ayer Crafts Gathering Program:
Make a Card...Take a Card!

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

Cannon Theatre Presents The 39 Steps in New Devens Theater Space

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

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

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

Construction Update - East Main Street Reconstruction Project FINAL PAVING

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

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

This project is being managed by MassDOT and the Ayer DPW will be providing construction updates to provide work status and traffic impacts.

MCC Mechanical Engineering Student Places First in U.S. Competition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CPA Survey will be open until Friday, May 13, and the results will be used to guide the development of the goals and strategies of the updated Community Preservation Plan.

6th Annual Clear Path for Veterans New England Motorcycle Ride 5/22

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

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

Construction Notification - Birch and McDowell Water and Drain Improvements

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

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

Tweens & Teens Cooking Program at Lunenburg Public Library

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

AYER: Important Notice:  In order to protect the Town’s water resources and drinking water supply, the Ayer DPW is asking everyone to conserve water and comply with the Town outdoor water restrictions:
  • Mandatory – no outside water use between 9AM and 5 PM
  • Mandatory - Odd / Even Outside Water Restriction (even numbered street address water on even numbered dates and odd numbered addresses on odd numbered dates)
  • Voluntary - curb outside water use and conserve water as much as possible
  • Voluntary  - no outside water use on Sundays

The Ayer DPW will be monitoring outside water use and will be enforcing the mandatory water restrictions, including ticketing / fines / water shut-off for violations.  For information or questions, contact Dan Van Schalkwyk P.E., Public Works Director 978-774-8240; dvanschalkwyk@ayer.ma.us.
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Nashoba Symphonic Band Presents Spring Moments to Remember

BOLTON: The Nashoba Symphonic Band, under the direction of David Wayne Bailey, will present its Spring concert, Moments to Remember, on Sunday, May 1 at 3pm in the auditorium of Nashoba Regional High School, Route 117 (GPS Green Road). The program features the area premiere of the “Afro-American Symphony” by William Grant Still, in a transcription written for the band at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Also being performed will be “Hymn for the Innocent” by Julie Giroux, Vincent Persichetti's “Divertimento for Band,” and a unique mini-tone poem for band, “City Rain'” by Judith Land Zaimont. All Nashoba Symphonic Band concerts are free and open to the public.

The eighty-piece Nashoba Symphonic Band is a program of the Nashoba Friends of music consisting of students, faculty, parents and musicians from Bolton, Stow, Lancaster and surrounding communities. Conductor David Wayne Bailey is a resident of Concord. The band performs four concerts each season, featuring the foundation pieces of the literature, recents compositions and music from films and theatre as well as classic marches. Nashoba Symphonic Band is supported in part by grants from Berlin, Bolton, Hudson, Marlborough and Stow Cultural Councils, supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

An Evening with Worcester Poets Laureate, Juan Matos & Adael Mejia

LUNENBURG: Join the City of Worcester’s Poets Laureate, Juan Matos and Adael Mejia (pictured) on Thursday, April 14th 6:30pm - 7:30pm at the Lunenburg Public Library, for an evening of poetry. Juan and Adael will read some poems, talk about the Worcester Poet Laureate program, and share information about poetry events and opportunities in Central Massachusetts. This program is open to all ages. Registration is required as seating is limited. Sign up at: https://tinyurl.com/yc5nf5bj or by heading to April 14th on the Lunenburg Public Library's website, lunenburglibrary.org.
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Ayer Real Estate & Personal Property Bills Due May 2

AYER: The Fiscal 2022 fourth quarter Real Estate and Personal Property bills are due May 2, 2022.You can pay or lookup your taxes online by clicking here.  The fee to pay a bill using an e-check is $.50.  This is less than a postage stamp and you get an instant receipt. If you have any questions or concerns, please email tax@ayer.ma.us.

Spring Hydrant Flushing Begins Week of April 11, 2022

AYER: The Town of Ayer Department of Public Works - Water Division will begin our semi-annual Hydrant Flushing Program the week of April 11, 2022. The flushing will take place on weekdays between the hours of 3pm and 9pm.  During flushing you may experience reduced water pressure and some discoloration of your water.  The discoloration should subside within 24 hours.  If you are still experiencing problems after this 24 hour period, please call 978-772-8240. 

The Towns’ flushing program is considered mandatory maintenance and will be conducted as efficiently as possible. This maintenance program allows us to continue to provide the residents with water that is as aesthetically appealing as possible.

Walk or run for Loaves & Fishes on May 1, 2022
No One Should Go Hungry

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DEVENS: Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Inc. is hosting the second annual Spring Into Action 5K walk and fun run to raise funds to help Loaves & Fishes feed neighbors in need. Participants can walk or run in-person on May 1st or virtually between April 24th and May 1st.

You’re invited to be part of this fun event! There are many ways to get involved:
  • Start a team, join a team or register as an individual fundraiser
  • Sponsor a team or an individual participant with a donation
  • Be a business sponsor to help cover the cost of the event so all donations go to Loaves & Fishes’ mission or donate refreshments or prizes

The in-person event will take place on Devens, starting in Rogers Field. You’ll be able to start the walk in-person between 10am and 2pm and you should plan to finish by 4pm. There will be a fun run for children ages 12 and under in the field at 1pm. To register, visit  https://lfwalk.org/campaign/2022-spring-into-action-5k/start-fundraising.

Loaves & Fishes provides nutritious food to those in need in Ayer, Devens, Dunstable, Groton, Harvard, Littleton and Shirley.

Ayer CPA Survey Open Thru May 13

AYER: The Community Preservation Committee is in the process of updating its five-year Community Preservation Plan.  Part of this process is to survey town residents on what you feel should be the goals and priorities for allocating CPA funds in the four CPA funding categories: Active outdoor recreation; Community housing; Historic preservation; Open space and passive recreation.
This survey will be open until Friday, May 13th.

Join Shirley Council on Aging for First Walk Massachusetts Challenge
Registrations Open:

SHIRLEY: Join the Shirley Council on Aging for their first walk challenge, sponsored by the Mass Council on Aging. This free family-friendly challenge runs May 1 - October 31, 2022 and is open to anyone age five and over. Individuals who complete the challenge receive raffle prize entries for them-selves and our Senior Center. Individual prizes include gift cards of Visa ($50), Amazon ($25) and Dunkin’ ($10). Councils on Aging prize levels range $250-1,000!  Anyone aged 5-59 years old is encouraged to sponsor an older adult of their choice!

Each participant chooses from one of four pre-determined challenges.

1. TURNPIKE CHALLENGE: Complete 126.6 miles to celebrate the length of the Massachusetts Turnpike from Boston to Lee.
2. COMMONWEALTH CHALLENGE : Complete 351 miles to celebrate the number of cities and towns in the Commonwealth.
3. 1788 CHALLENGE: Complete 88 days to celebrate the year Massachusetts became the sixth state.
4. SHORELINE CHALLENGE: Complete 192 miles to celebrate the length of the Massachusetts shoreline.

For more information or help with registration, contact Shirley Council on Aging, 9 Parker Road - 978-425-1390.

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.

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

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.

"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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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.