April 2010 Archives

First Parish Fine Art Photo Exhibit Sunday May 2nd

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The First Parish Fine Art Photography Club is having their 8th Annual Exhibit and Reception on Sunday May 2, 2010 from 3 to 5 pm at the First Parish church in Concord, 20 Lexington Road, Concord, MA. This is a free event open to the public.

There will be framed photos on exhibit, slide shows, demonstrations, experts will answer questions and provide advice on many aspects of photography and photo equipment, complimentary homemade refreshments, and fellowship. So, bring your family, friends, photos, camera gear and questions and enjoy the images on exhibit.

heronrich.jpgPhoto: ©2010 Rich Stevenson, member of the FIrst Parish Photo Club, Local Color Images

Town Meeting Has Ended

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292359_clothes.jpgAmong the 70 Articles we knocked off Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week at our Annual Town Meeting, the most colorful surely was the #63.  Concord is now the first municipality in the Commonwealth with an express "right to dry" (laundry, that is) on its books!

All results plus the Warrant on the Town's official webpage here: http://www.concordma.gov/pages/ConcordMA_BOS/2010%20town%20meeting

Who's Having a B-I-I-IG Birthday July 31st?

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barrettbdaysign.pngJames Barrett, that's who!  As in COLONEL James Barrett, an important figure in the Concord Fight of April 19, 1775. He led the Middlesex militia as they engaged the British at the North Bridge.

Meanwhile, back at the farm... Barrett Farm, of course, on Barrett Mill Road. It was one of the destinations of British troops that day.  It was believed to hold a cache of weapons which the British meant to seize. None were found; they had been moved or hidden.

Anyway, the Colonel lived to tell the tale... and now he's about to turn a nice round 300 years old!  Save Our Heritage, the current owners and stewards of Barrett Farm -- his home, also still around and in the process of a major restoration -- will be having quite the hoopla during that weekend. There will be lots of events for the public.  Keep your eyes peeled for more information as it becomes available.

Photo: made with the cool Street Sign Generator.

Important Flood Recovery Information

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From Mark Cotreau, Concord Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director

Below are links to important documents from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that may help you or someone you know in their recovery from our flooding last month.  Please read them as soon as possible as they are time sensitive.

ONE WEEK TO DEADLINE FOR DISASTER UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE:
NR 030 One Week to Deadline For Disaster Unemployment Assistance.pdf

FEMA TEAMS OFFER HOME REPAIR TIPS AT LOCAL CENTERS:
NR_031_FEMA_Teams_Offer_Home_RepairTips.pdf

PROTECTING YOUR HOME FROM FUTURE FLOOD DAMAGE:
NR_031_FEMA_Teams_Offer_Home_RepairTips.pdf 


Passion for Place: Musketaquid Arts and Environment at 20

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By the Musketaquid Arts & Environment Program

April, 2010 marks the 20th anniversary of two special events in Concord: the first Critter Crusade puppet parade and the first Earth Float Launch, both to celebrate Earth Day 1990. These two events soon merged to form the core of the Musketaquid Arts and Environment Program. Over the years, Musketaquid's programs and events grew and expanded; in 2002, Musketaquid formally became a program of the Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts, and our annual Earth Day celebration is now one of Concord's beloved traditions.

Musketaquid's programs integrate several important elements: creative self-expression, arts education, environmental education, and environmental activism. But everything Musketaquid does rests on the essential bedrock of passion for place. It is our direct experience of nature in the places where we live, work, and play that fosters love and commitment to care for the natural environment. We may have an intellectual understanding of environmental issues like climate change, or of the academic principles of art, but it is passion that inspires great action and great art.

earth day banner 09 pazaris.JPGAnd so, on this our 20th anniversary, we invite you to share your passion. What local places do you love? What do they mean to you? Why? How do you show your love and caring? We invite you to express your passion, in words, images, music, or any medium you choose, and share it with the community. Send us your contribution on a letter-size piece of paper (8-1/2 x 11 inches) and we will include it in the "Passion for Place" book we are compiling. Send your entry to Musketaquid, c/o Emerson Umbrella, 40 Stow Street, Concord 01742.

From now through May 10, the Earth Month Exhibit is on display at the Emerson Umbrella Gallery. More than 50 artists share their Passion for Place in a variety of media from painting to poetry, sculpture, story, collage, and more. The Exhibit is available for viewing whenever the Umbrella is open, from 9 in the morning until late in the evening, 7 days a week. Opening reception, Thursday, April 22  from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

And please do join us for this year's Musketaquid Earth Day, Saturday, May 1. The River Ceremony begins at 10 am at the Lowell Road boat launch, followed by the Earth Day Parade and the Arts and Environment Festival. If you'd like to be in the parade, call the Umbrella office ahead of time, at 978-371-0820, to be matched with a puppet. This event is free, and we hope to see you there!

See the Concord Magazine's special Earth Day/Musketaquid Edition starting here: http://www.concordma.com/magazine/mayjun01/earthday.html (click on the "Next" arrows to see all six articles).

Photos: Top right: ©Mark Dannenhauer. Bottom right: ©Jim Pazaris


Community Ed Offers Home Budeting Course -- For Free

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21786036.thb.jpgConcord-Carlisle Community Education and resident Nancy Burnham will offer a special 4-night program, with the familiar title, "Where'd It Go? (Making your Budget Work)." This program is free to Concord residents.

Starting Wednesday, May 5, Burnham will provide a home and family budgeting plan that can be put into action right away. Participants will be able to identify personal spending needs and patterns, and operate with a home budget that helps make certain that money is available from the last check to the next. Burnham has designed the course so it can fit any person and situation, with tools for good money management. A special Concord grant provides for the course materials, and Burnham volunteers her time.

Non-residents will pay $50 for the 4-night workshop that meets from 7:30 to 9 PM at CCHS.   Enroll at (978) 318-1432 or online at www.ace.colonial.net (course #4653).


2010 Town Meeting: The Good, the Bad, and the Possibly Ugly

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We have dozens of articles on the Warrant for Town Meeting which begins tonight.  The Concord Magazine Blog has recommendations to share about just a few.

The Articles we're commenting on here represent the difference between long-term, complete, and exhaustive public education, stakeholder dialogue, redrafting, and research for many months prior to Town Meeting (the "Good"), and very, very, VERY inadequate pre-Town Meeting groundwork  (the "Bad").  Why does pre-Town Meeting process matter?  Because we cannot create just outcomes through unjust process. Abuses or sloppy uses of power will always taint and distort the results.

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Article 64: Authorization of Long Term Lease for Solar Energy

Let it first be said that we are VERY positive on alternative energy -- we see it as a necessity for our future; for everyone's future.  Nonetheless, Article 64 is just simply not ripe to come to Town Meeting  now.  Goodness: smart, capable citizens bearing good intent, who have studied this article cannot even come CLOSE to agreeing what the heck it will allow us to do.  Nor why we need to be allowed to do what it might -- or might not -- allow us to do.  If we cannot agree on WHAT Article 64 does, how in the world can we reasonably decide if it's a good idea to vote for or against it?  

Additionally, 64 comes entirely in the wrong order of things.  Yes, we are gung-ho on a well-thought-out comprehensive plan coming forward -- we would be very pleased if Concord become a leader in our region in smartly done alternative electricity. But NOT starting with THIS project. It may (or may not -- see paragraph above) commit major resources for decades to a particular direction.  This commitment is being proposed BEFORE we have created a comprehensive plan for our future energy generation and purchase.  In fact, it wasn't until April 21 (as in: last week) that the Light Plant board began talking about the potential for in-town generation like solar with the right time to bring it forward being this Fall (hear an audio file of that conversation). Why on earth would we decide to make a major, long-term commitment before a plan has been formed? Since when does Concord START with implementation and THEN move to planning? 

Our Light Board was kept out of the loop on this Article until fairly recently -- how does this make sense?  We cannot begin to know why this Article has gotten things so backwards, but backwards it surely is.  We recommend that this cart before the horse not even be moved.  If it is moved, this is where the "Possibly Ugly" comes in: what a fight will develop on the floor of Town Meeting in order to defeat this amorphous oddity -- and defeat is our strong recommendation if indeed, someone moves it. Why not avoid this ugliness and come back with a proposal once proper planning has been done? (more in-depth critique on this Article here: http://solar.concord-trustingtheprocess.org)

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Article 41: Non-Conforming Uses and Structures

Follow closely here now -- this is pretty strange. Article 41 was so erroneously written in the Warrant, that it proposed to amend so-called zoning bylaws that were not even CLOSE to the actual bylaws on our books. We know that changes between the time when the Warrant is closed and when the Article is moved at Town Meeting must be kept between the "four corners" of the original Article.  This was quite problematic because instead of four corners, we had here something like a rhombus intersected by an isosceles triangle, which was then divided by zero.  In other words, an impossibility.

To make matters worse, this article was supposed to be on the Consent Calendar, and would therefore receive no discussion. Thankfully, some extremely diligent residents did extensive research to bring these errors to light. Otherwise, we might have blissfully passed it as written, thereby possibly approving EXTENSIVE changes to an important zoning bylaw -- without examination.  Some of these very changes in the Warrant were very similar to amendments the 2008 Town Meeting already voted down. An explanation of how this came to be might be interesting to hear. Dividing by zero, indeed...

The Planning Board has basically stripped this article; when it's moved it should not contain any of the erroneous sections, and is quite narrowed down.  Due to citizen action, the Moderator's aid, and eventually the Planning Board's cooperation, this Article has been rendered useful and fairly cogent -- and we recommend a "yes" vote... as long as it is not substantially changed from how it is currently drafted.

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Articles 46 & 47: Formula Business Bylaw

Whether or not everyone likes their content, we all have to admire the extensive and proper public process that has taken place around these articles: this is the example we choose this year for "The Good" in terms of pre-Town Meeting handling.  The public, Town and State elected officials and Town boards have been consulted over many, many months.  The motions have been adjusted to respond to the concerns of property owners, Town boards, the state Attorney General's office, Town Counsel, expert legal opinions, business owners and residents (see here for a recounting of these stakeholders concerns and how these Articles changed in response). The proposals in both Articles reflect recommendations found in numerous planning documents generated by Town committees and paid consultants.  This is what we call proper pre-Town Meeting homework. Bravo to all concerned! On the merits of both excellent process and content, we recommend a yes vote.

Important Updates to the Formula Business Articles (46 & 47)

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By Matt Johnson, Concord Resident and Petitioner of Article 47

thoreadepotvert.jpgAs we head into Town Meeting, I thought that I should update everyone on the progress of Articles 46 and 47 (the Formula Business bylaws) since their publication in the Town Warrant. Thanks to the input from town boards and committees, public hearings, forums and other community events, the terms of the Formula Business bylaws have been significantly refined, while remaining within the scope of the original articles.

At this point, Articles 46 and 47 have gone through a very rigorous vetting process, and their sponsors have responded to input on many fronts. Our town process has worked well in honing these bylaws to Concord's specific conditions.  Now that the Massachusetts Attorney General's office has spoken (latest update, immediately below), we've heard from every constituency. We're ready for the town to decide.

Here's a brief chronology of developments related to Articles 46 and 47, with the most recent ones first:

Late April - MASSACHUSETTS ATTORNEY GENERAL DECISIONS:The Massachusetts Attorney General's office must certify any zoning bylaw amendment, leading to questions about whether the state would approve of Concord's proposed bylaws. On April 23rd, the A.G.'s office approved the Chatham Formula Business bylaw, whose terms are closer to Concord's than prior bylaws enacted in Massachusetts.

The decision requires that Articles 46 and 47 make some accommodations, such as eliminating the phrase "or any similar standardized feature" from the formula business definition, but it largely eliminates doubts about certification.

Early April - PROPERTY OWNER INPUT: The Concord Business Partnership (an association of Concord commercial property owners) invited the sponsors of Articles 46 and 47 to one of their breakfast meetings. Members of the group expressed concern that the clause defining formula businesses as having seven or more similar locations was too restrictive. Some also believed that properties in the West Concord Industrial district should be treated differently from those in the business district.

grocstrip.jpgIn response to property owners' concerns, the Article 47 petition group raised the minimum number of locations for a formula business from seven to ten (a number used in other Massachusetts bylaws), and removed the Industrial district from the scope of the bylaw. The definition change also gave property owners more flexibility, because the limits on formula businesses in Concord Center (13), Thoreau Depot (13) and West Concord (10) were now all above the current number in each center, which are respectively 12, 12, and 8. The West Concord Task Force voted to recommend that the Planning Board adopt the same terms at their upcoming meeting on April 26th.  The Board of Selectmen voted to recommend affirmative action on Articles 46 and 47 in anticipation of the Planning Board approving these changes prior to Town Meeting.

March - PLANNING BOARD HEARING FEEDBACK): Planning Board and petition group members presented Articles 46 and 47 at a public hearing. Citizens noted that some of the special permit criteria needed to be clearer.

Both Articles incorporated citizen feedback from the hearing by streamlining the special permit criteria. Subsequently, the Planning Board voted to recommend affirmative action on Article 46.

February - SELECTMEN/ TOWN COUNSEL FEEDBACK: The Board of Selectmen and Town Counsel commented informally on the articles as published in the Town Warrant, cautioning that the purpose statement seemed overly broad, and not tied concretely enough to key Town planning documents (such as the Village Centers Study).

The Article 47 petition group revised the Purpose statement and commissioned a review from a legal expert to validate the updated terms of the bylaw. Subsequently, Article 46 adopted similar language in its purpose statement.

Concord: Of the First Water

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21042166.thb.jpgState Representative Cory Atkins (D-Concord) is proud to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded a Water Conservation award to the Concord Water Department.  The DEP gives these awards to towns with very well run drinking water systems.  Concord is one of only four towns statewide to win an award in the Water Conservation category.
 
The DEP will host a ceremony on the Grand Stairs at the State House in Boston on May 4, 2010 at 10:15am to recognize Concord and the other award winners.

Concord Players' Next Season Is Coming Up!

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Color CP Logo.jpgThe Concord Players, a 90-year-old, not-for-profit community theater group located at 51 Walden Street in historic Concord, MA, is pleased to announce its 2010-2011 play slate, issue a call for volunteers, and the make-up of its new board of directors. 

The play choices are upbeat and comical and ticket prices will remain extremely affordable to help keep Concord Players audiences laughing despite tough economic times. Volunteers are welcome to contact the Players to participate in any and all aspects of the production. Next year's shows will be:

Crossing Delancey, written by Susan Sandler, directed by Roxanna Myhrum, will be presented November 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 2010.  Crossing Delancey is a charming, insightful romantic comedy set amid the pickle shops and park benches of Manhattan's Lower East Side. Isabelle Grossman has everything-- good looks, confidence, a great apartment, and a job promoting handsome book authors--but in this city of 7 million, real love is hard to find.   With the help of her wisecracking Yiddish grandmother "Bubbie" and a persistent neighborhood matchmaker, Izzy learns to tell the difference between what she thinks she wants, and what she really wants.

Breaking Legs, written by Tom Dulack and directed by John Alzapiedi will be presented February 11, 12, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 2011.  A wonderful comedy about an aspiring playwright who gets involved with some shady characters in order to finance his new play, this intimate show captures the flavor of small time mobsters, Italian restaurants and the theatre. The gangster biz meets show biz.  Audiences will leave full of laughter and hungry for Italian food.

36606539.thb.jpgDirty Rotten Scoundrels, music and lyrics by David Yazbek, book by Jeffrey Lane, will be directed by Michael McGarty, and music will be directed by Mario Cruz, on stage April 22, 23, 29, 30, May 1, 6, 7, 2011.  "What goes around, comes around," so the saying goes.  Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is a whirlwind of twists and turns set in motion by two rival con men competing to swindle the same woman. Set among the breezy beaches and glitzy fashions of the French Riviera, this musical comedy pays tribute to the shows of the 1920s and 1930s, with catchy tunes in the style of Cole Porter and free-wheeling comedy that takes flim-flam to its highest level.

Board members overseeing Concord Players' 2010-2011 activities and volunteers are: Concord's own Jay Newlon, President; Linda McConchie, Vice President Productions; Joanne Hines, Secretary; Rick Frese, Play and Director Selection Committee Chair; Corinne Kinsman, Memberships Chair; Carlisle's own Jill Henderson, Vice President Committees; Chuck Holleman, Treasurer; Marilyn Cugini, Marketing and Publicity; Paul Gill; Acton's Tom Sikina, Finance Committee; Arlington's Paul Murphy; Tracy Wall, Special Events; and Bedford's Robert Runck, Newsletter Editor.

Concord Players thanks and commends outgoing board members Cheri Fletcher (President) and Rick Shamel (Technical Director) for their many years of service and dedication, and their continuing support of high quality, affordable community theater productions for residents of Concord and many nearby towns.

For more information about Concord Players, please visit the website at www.concordplayers.org.

DropOff/SwapOff Coming; Volunteers Needed

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39179225.thb.jpgThe next Concord DropOff and SwapOff Day is coming up on Saturday, May 8, 9:30 AM - 3:00 PM. Mark your calendars and bring your stuff!

The twice annual DropOff & SwapOff is sponsored jointly by REUSIT and Concord Public Works. Thousands of useful items change hands at the SwapOff and over 25 different items are collected for reuse or recycling at the DropOff. There's a good story with a brief video and
some pictures from the May 2009 event online at the Concord Journal here, and a more detailed description of what they accept on the CPW website here.

Each DropOff and SwapOff Day depends on the generous support of well over 100 volunteers to make the event work. If you can spare as little as 2 hours on May 8, they can use your help! No special skills required. And you don't have to be a burly football player  -- most volunteer tasks don't require heavy lifting. It's a fun way to help the community and the environment, while interacting with many of your friends and neighbors.

Volunteers can sign-up on-line at http://www.reusit.org/ or just send email to dropoff@ReUsIt.org.

15508812.thb.jpgYesterday I took on the Concord Chamber of Commerce's online poll with the help of a few Concord Discussion List members and friends around the world.  The survey has now been dismantled as a result, and I give thanks to those who helped.   I promised the Chamber that I would publish information and correspondence around this to keep what happened transparent. (See the bottom of this post for links to correspondence.)


I -- as are most other Town Meeting members -- am offended when I see worthless data collected through bad process being put forward as worthy of our consideration -- particularly when it comes to Town Meeting. It distorts and corrupts the democratic process, and we need to do our best to stay clear of such influences. 

 

Yesterday the Concord Chamber of Commerce emailed a request to its members, of which I am one. It included a link to a SurveyMonkey page asking members to vote on two questions, one about Article 46, and another about Article 47 (both the Formula Business Restriction articles). The Director said she would take this information to the Town as a reflection of member views. 


15508833.thb.jpgThis "survey" was chock full of erroneous information and heavily laced with bias.  It did not reflect the current state of the Articles -- not even close!  The questions were stated such that even the people who have worked hard to get 46 and 47 passed told me that they'd have voted AGAINST them both if the Chamber's was the only information they had to depend upon!  And that the survey was on an unprotected page where anyone could vote, with no mechanism to prevent multiple votes -- well, all this was not something I felt should be allowed to continue.


First, I cast votes using every browser on the multiple computers I had access to. I voted differently each time -- I didn't want to to stack the deck any particular way, only toss the cards about.  I then sent an email to 2 dozen people both locally and around the world asking them to do the same. Some also reported voting more than once using different browsers.

 

I immediately emailed the Chamber and told them what I had done, letting them know how easily their data had been corrupted by us, and likely also by unknown others as well.  I have to say, I was particularly ripped (and admittedly not gentle  as you'll see if you choose to read the correspondence below), because I knew many of these problems had already been carefully explained to them earlier in the day by Matt Johnson, the petitioner on 47, and that these concerns had been set aside (both sides of that correspondence below). 


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Matt is an entirely reasonable fellow, and if he had made no headway with careful explaining and education, I knew I would have to take a different tack. Thus my decision to publicly throw the game, which we can be reasonably certain others were also doing -- but underground and out of sight; I just was up-front about it.

 

Was there intent to create a biased and misinforming poll?  The Chamber Director says no bias was intended, so none was present.  Of course, anyone who has even somewhat sketchy knowledge of how good data should be gathered will find that impossible to agree with.  Even professional researchers unwittingly create bias -- bias bad enough to sometimes invalidate their results and send their very careers careening off a cliff!  We mere mortals have little hope of doing any better -- particularly if we don't realize the pitfalls of survey creation.  

 

It concerns me that the Chamber's response has shown a lack of understanding about these issues. They say they removed the poll only because I told them I had corrupted their data, not because they saw that their method was fatally flawed.  I would have preferred to have heard, "We hadn't realized how easy it was to cook the books; you saved us from making monkeys of ourselves!"  (So this why it's called SurveyMonkey, right? Remember: it's probably not a coincidence that "survey" rhymes with "oy, veh.)  But so far, the response has been only defensive.

 

For me, the moral of the story is two-fold: first, that when it comes to polls and surveys, kids, don't try this at home!  The online tools make it all too easy for any of us come up with our own totally irreproducible results.  Someone should nominate SurveyMonkey and its ilk for an IgNobel Prize!


Second, that the real voting -- the only poll that matters and we can be pretty sure is genuine -- takes place at Town Meeting by its members.  You need to be there to be part of the discussion of the full facts and points of view on all sides.  And then to vote -- probably Wednesday, April 28th, but it's possible it could come up Tuesday the 27th... hard to say.  In the meantime, don't believe everything you hear and read.


Correspondence:

Member survey invitation:

chamber1.pdf


Matt Johnson's critique, Chamber Director's response:

chamber2a.pdf


Debbie Bier's data-corruption admission:

chamber2.pdf


Chamber Director's response to Bier:

chamber3.pdf


Bier's last response to Chamber:

chamberlast.pdf

 

The Problem of Poorly-Done Surveys

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21160618.thb.jpgMany years just before Town Meeting, we get some kind of survey or poll thrown at us about one or more Articles on the Warrant.  They are always rife with problems -- enough flaws that it's impossible to actually trust or use a bit of the data generated.  Among the pitfalls we see again and again are:

  • Who the survey is delivered to
  • Who fills out the survey
  • Lack of security (who can answer how many times)
  • Biased questions
  • Erroneous information present in the survey
  • Biased behavior while delivering the questions
  • Unknown or misrepresented survey commissioner
Any of these could be a serious enough problem to utterly invalidate the results. And rarely is just ONE of these problems present -- they seem to run in packs.  Even when conducted by professional polling firms, bad surveys can -- and are -- delivered daily.  But when put on by amateurs -- particularly online -- well, it's just about a guarantee of failure.

The Concord Discussion List has made mincemeat out of several of these in the past.  Watching these unfold has made it nearly impossible for us to take survey data at anywhere close to face value any more. And this is a healthy thing!  Concord is full of highly educated group of citizens, and many of us know what we're talking about. (Our favorite being the phone poll that represented itself as having been commissioned by the Town of Concord, but which actually was from Comcast, as was later admitted by their attorney.) 

21160643.thb.jpgThis week, the Concord Chamber of Commerce launched an online member survey. It was on such shaky ground we'd not be surprised if it had been picked up on seismographs around the region.  It fell into almost all of the potholes in the bullet points above. Since it was to be taken to the Town as representative of member views around Articles 46 and 47 (Formula Business Restrictions), the invalid nature of the poll was highly concerning to us. 

So our publisher and editor -- a Chamber member -- made it her business to close it down through actions that will be explained here next in several pieces.  To keep the process transparent and honest, she vowed to the Chamber she would publish their correspondence -- wherever it led.  So that will follow here.

Please be clear that the Concord Magazine Blog makes no speculation about whether or not there was intent to create and deliver an invalid poll, or that the problems with this poll stem only from a lack of awareness about how hard it is to do one of good quality.

Though this poll has been disbanded, it is sad to see that the underlying confidence issues involved do not seem to be understood by the commissioner of the poll.  Which is concerning, because maintaining the Chamber of Commerce's credibility is of benefit to the community at large. We hope by bringing forward these issues, we will help them and the wider audience become more aware of the quicksand they stepped in.

Please read over these blog posts, and then help the Chamber by letting them know what you think of the practice of collecting data in this way.  If you are in a position to have enough expertise to help them construct a useful, trustworthy poll in the future, please think of offering them your services.  
24096_1416330652360_1355415811_1100772_6316128_n.jpgBe inspired. Try something new. Perhaps you'll discover a new passion or an activity that you will enjoy for the rest of your life. Perhaps you will learn something fun that will help you to stay healthy and fit. Perhaps you will simply enjoy meeting new friends in a completely nurturing and non-competitive setting.

If these ideas interest you, perhaps GirlPower! is for you. GirlPower! empowers preteens with the skills and activities to foster self-confidence and self acceptance. Every day, our daughters are inundated with media images of celebrities and models, people they begin to emulate at a young age. These images evolve into ideals and unrealistic expectations of who they are 'supposed' to be.

This program explores wellness as a holistic concept, and introduces the concepts of self care and lifelong health. It's not about being as skinny as a supermodel. It's about being the best you can be - confident in yourself and happy with who you are. It's also about finding the right exercise that suits your personality, eating delicious nourishing food and discovering diverse ways to grow artistically and from within. It's about realizing that reaching out to others is in itself a way to nourish ourselves and find self-expression.

Our workshop will include yoga, stretching, journaling, Pilates, creative culinary lunch, hiking, skin care, expressive dance (African, salsa, modern), fashion sense and body image, art, being green, talk about becoming a teen, and more.  Sponsored by Concord Adult and Community Education, http://www.ace.colonial.net.

Three, one week programs, M-F, 9 to 4 : July 12-16 (ages 10-12), July 19-23 (ages 10-12), July 26-30 (ages13-15).

Location: Ripley School and nearby Thoreau Farm in Concord

Fee: Includes lunch, snacks and materials

Thoreau for Chickens

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Early Apple Blossom Triggers Fears of Killer Frost

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19126729.thb.jpgIt was said that in the lead-up to April 19, 1775 that it was so warm they were out in the fields plowing early (thus the minuteman is pictured with a plow, which is the task many left when the call to muster came in). Their apple blossoms were out.

In our nearly 30 years here we've always looked to see how we compare -- never gotten there... until this year. Note in the article linked below that the farmer in Natick says his apple trees have bloomed 24 days early!

There are numerous links for this article, this one several photos:

Early Apple Blossom Triggers Fears of Killer Frost, By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS



Scenes from the 2010 Patriots' Ball

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We've got local character here in Concord all right -- and some of them showed up at this year's Patriots' Ball! (Individual names are being withheld because some of them just might still possibly be innocent.)

This (nearly) annual affair is held at the Armory on the corner of Everett and Stow Streets. The re-enactment drum corps shown here is the First Michigan, who have been faithfully making this trip to Concord for the parade longer than some of the attendees have been alive!  Click on any image to see a larger version in a pop-up window.

Photos: ©2010 Rich Stevenson, Local Color Images. All rights reserved.


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DSC_0788.jpgLater this month Sarah Consentino Jackson (at right) appears in the Concord Players' thrilling musical The Scarlet Pimpernel, and in a remarkable way her life reflects that of the main character of the play: Sarah has more than one identity. By day she is a professional grant writer for Dana Farber's development office, but by night she is a talented musical theater actress performing on community theater stages across the area.

Sarah plays Marguerite St. Just in The Concord Players' production of The Scarlet Pimpernel, opening April 23 and running through May 8.  "There are lots of great theaters around, but Concord Players is one of the absolute best," says Sarah, citing their stage, resources, people and production values.

But interestingly, Sarah wasn't originally cast as Marguerite; in fact, she didn't even make it to the original audition. She was overwhelmed with work commitments and hadn't even listened to the music, a step she always takes ahead of time. Then February rolled around, and the woman cast as Marguerite had to step down, and suddenly the opportunity presented itself.

And one more thing: her husband, Corey Jackson, is the director. They met four or five years ago, doing a playwriting workshop, and married last May. "It's nerve-wracking to audition for people I know, " says Sarah, referring to not only her husband but other friends on the audition panel. "You want to do your best and show you can do the role, not because they know you but because you're good." She says that, while she loves having the chance to share in the creative process with her husband, he'll be extra critical, so as not to seem biased.

468px-Scarlet_pimpernel2.jpgSarah needn't worry, having a long list of musical credentials behind her. She started doing musical theater when she was fourteen, performing with a local group called Methuen Young People's Theater. She minored in theater at Emmanuel College in Boston,  and did her first community theater show - Jesus Christ Superstar - before graduating. She also appeared as Evita in the Turtle Lane production of the same name.

This isn't the first time she's been on the Concord stage, either: she was first seen here as Amilia in She Loves Me in 2007, and she played the part of Rosie in last year's Cabaret.
With such an impressive list of credentials, she's sure to be worth watching when the curtain goes up on Pimpernel.

To see this amazing young woman, as well as an intriguing musical, come to the Concord Players at 51 Walden Street, Concord. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. April 23 through May 8, with two Sunday matinees on April 25 and May 2 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets for all shows are $24 (with a discount of $1 off per ticket, available for groups of 10 or more). Opening weekend audiences (April 23 and 24) will get to partake in the gala opening receptions in the lobby at 7 p.m. before the show. To order tickets and get show information, please go to www.concordplayers.org. You can also email your ticket requests to tickets@concordplayers.org or call 978-369-2990.

Photos: Sarah Consentino Jackson courtesy photo; photo of the scarlet pimpermel flower courtesy of WikiMedia Commons.

We're Sure it's Spring!

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Despite the cold snap we're having, we certainly are deep into Spring.  Below is Concord's Emily Wheeler's photo of the quince in her backyard in fabulous bloom. 

24207_389646781002_516166002_4568521_6259383_n.jpg
15619500.thb.jpgI just did an inventory of the tomatoes we're growing from seed.  The results are... ridiculous.  Just ridiculous!

I seemed to have lost track of whether or not I had seeded a few of the (too many to tell you) varieties and seeded an extra generation of 5 of them.  As a result, we have a total of:

125 tomato plants

Honest to goodness. I had wondered why I had run out of pots and places to put them! Needless to say, this is at least a FEW too many for us to make use of at home.

Only three of these are the variety that will go to the kitchen garden at Thoreau Farm, so that leaves us with a mere 122 tomato plants. Among the varieties that will need to find new homes: Amish Paste, Big Cherry, Black Plum, Beam's Yellow Pear, Goldie, Martino's Roma, Polish Linguisa, Sasha's Atali.

We are having a multi-family neighborhood yard sale next Saturday, 4/24/10 (8 am-noon).  I will be putting quite a number of them up for adoption through that venue.   A ,ap is below.

I will also have additional vegetable and herb plants available.  All are open pollinated, heirloom varieties. They have been lovingly grown from seed without the use of any and all chemical additives right here in Concord.


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More Greenhouse Excess

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Click on any photo to see a larger image in a pop-up window.

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Jurassic Park in Spring

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Mustard, Bok Choy and Oregano

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Jacuzzi-sized Salad, Anyone?


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Gorgeous Red Cabbage (yes, that's my
head throwing a shadow on it)

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Gorgeous Bronze Arrowhead Lettuce
(unfathomably growing on a path... why?)


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Self-Sowed Potato Plant, First Violets
(lower left; but I had no potatoes there
last year!)

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Red Mustard Shrubs?

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Various Chicories, Siberian Kale

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Tomato (oh, had I mentioned I planted
tomatoes last week?)

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Self-Sowed Potatoes (at least this WAS a
potato location last year)

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Chineese Cabbage Gone Wild (big leaves are 15" long! crazy!)

Photos: ©2010 Deborah Bier, all rights reserved.
springjurasic.jpg We are drowning in greens, mostly from the solar greenhouse. Both cooking greens and salad greens to be precise.  Four types of chicory (the names I'm only just figuring out).  Chinese cabbage. Lettuce.  Claytonia. Corn salad (aka: mache; today's the first day I ever tasted it in fact). Four kinds of kale. Two kinds of chard.  Bok choy. Two kinds of arugula. Two kinds of collards. Broccoli raab.  Red mustard.  So tender and amazing.  And just De. Lish. Ous!

We had to put out an SOS to some neighbors to haul some away.  Honestly, it's become that overwhelming!  I have given away and eaten and eaten and it's like there's not even a dent made. Next I'll start blanching and freezing. 

The weird thing is that I was away from Thurs-Sun last week, and when I came back everything was suddenly trying to bloom and had grown perhaps 30% in size.  I did a lot of harvesting and felt things were fairly "under control" on Monday. Since then, everything has grown another 30%.  So what is that? 60% growth in a week?  Scary stuff!

Treviso chicory.  Radicco.  Sugarloaf Chicory.  Some thin, loooong leafed type I can't find a name for (this one, maybe? Da taglio=cutting, or cut-and-come-again, as we say here... don't know). Heart achingly beautiful, each head, and I'm only just learning their names. I have NO idea what to do with them besides a little in a salad.  In soup -- but who wants hot soup in such beautiful weather? Does one use just the hearts?  Honestly, I'm at sea here. Point me to your favorite chicory recipes, please (email me here).

jurassiclarger.jpgPhotos:  ©2010 Deborah Bier.

West Concord, the Movie

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Here is a marvelous documentry made by Concord's Gretchen O'Conner called "Small Business: The Heart of West Concord."  We can only say, "Wow!!"

This 15-minute film "features interviews with 13 small business owners in West Concord.  Motivated by a conversation with [O'Conner's] upholstery teacher, Kevin Kennedy, about news stories of recent acquisitions of property in West Concord by developers and the implications for small business owners like him, [she] decided to make this documentary film." Read more about this piece on her website: http://web.me.com/gwoconnor/Gretchens_Gallery/West_Concord_film.html


Small Business, the heart of West Concord from Gretchen OConnor on Vimeo.

Patriots' Day, 2010

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20074195.thb.jpgThe facts are thus: The annual Commemoration of the North Bridge Fight at the North Bridge, Concord is at 8:30 am. British and Colonial reenactors stage a battle demonstration of the fight on April 19, 1775 -- some argue, when the "shot heard round the world" was fired. (Others insist it was in Lexington the night before -- they may well have a point, but this is the Concord, MA blog and we're not going to entertain it.)

The Patriot's Day Parade steps off at the Armory on the corner of Stow and Everett Streets at 9 AM on Monday, April 19, 2010.

It goes down Stow Street and up Main Street, and -- depending upon the height of the Concord River and how much water/mud are at the North Bridge (always a joker in the deck!) -- goes up Lowell Road to Liberty Street, and then into the National Park to the North Bridge.

A ceremony is held at the bridge and then the parade picks up again, going over to Monument Street, back to Concord center, returning to Main Street, turning onto Stow and then ending at the Hunt Gym.

Please note that due to our recent flooding, parts of the National Park were damaged and are not at the moment handicapped accessible. See their website here: http://www.nps.gov/mima/index.htm for more information.

For additional events connected with the park during the week, see here: http://www.nps.gov/mima/patriots-day-2010.htm

We predict that the weather on Patriots' Day will be sunny, cloudy, raining, snowing, sleeting, windy, or calm... or some combination of the preceding. (Another joker in the deck!) A map of the area is below.



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Past Year's Top Search Terms, Concord.MA.com

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842961.thb.jpgThis is the first time we've seen a search term knock "Thoreau" out of of the top position.  Poor Henry! Yeah, USNS Concord! (Why "Tutela" in our top terms? Let us know if you have the answer; we have no idea.)

USNS Concord
thoreau     
walden pond     
alcott     
alcott elementary school concord ma website     
restaurants     
Thoreau and The Flannery's     
Tutela     
map     
famous people from concord     
jobs     
patriots day     
schools     
bullet hole house     
Concord climate     
police     
simon willard     
hotels     
battle     
louisa may alcott     
lexington road     
magazine winter 03 moving houses     
revolutionary ridge     
wheeler

Patriots Day Road Closings

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21185383.thb.jpgSome of our roads will be closed from 8:00am until 2:00pm on Monday, April 19th due to the Patriots Day Parade.  Main, Walden and Thoreau Streets will be closed to traffic.  Also Everett, Hubbard and Stow Streets will be blocked to through traffic.  Parking will also not be allowed on these streets.

Businesses will want to reschedule planned deliveries on that date so they occur before 8:00am or after 2:00pm, or to place on another day during the week.  Businesses on the Milldam should also remind employees that parking will be limited and access to some of the downtown lots will be blocked during the parade hours. 



Rep. Cory Atkins Receives Award

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Our state representative, Cory Atkins, was honored in front of a crowd of 1400 walkers at the Annual Boston Area Rape Crisis Center's Walk for Change on Sunday.  She was presented with the Beacon Award for outstanding leadership in advancing the rights of sexual violence survivors. Representative Atkins, the lead co-sponsor in the House, was a committed advocate for the passage of the new law An Act Relative to Harassment Prevention Orders.  This law provides criminal harassment, stalking and sexual assault victims with the ability to petition for a protective order against their perpetrators.

Photos left to right:  Representatives  Brownsberger, Clark, Keynote speaker Dory Cote, Speaker of the House DeLeo, Representatives Atkins , Koutoujian (courtesy photo)

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All Cats Day, Saturday May 8

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adoptacatlogo.pngJoin your feline friends Saturday, May 18, 2010 from 1-4 PM at the Concord Scout House (74 Walden Street) for All Cats Day, by Adopt a Cat of Concord (www.AdoptACatofConcord.org).

There will be cats for adoption, feline care experts and information about cats. There will be a best cat costume contest, a bake sale and cat nip toys by Concord Girl Scout troops.  Face painting, cat rescue groups Middlesex Veterinary Hospital, Tufts University feral cat clinic, Catmobile low-cost spay and neuter info, a raffle of items from local merchants, local exhibitors vendors of special hand-crafted craft and health goods, and more!

Special guest is The Cat Lady of Concord signing her book of the same title.

Suggested Donation: $5, adult; children are free.  All proceeds benefit Adopt a Cat of Concord, a 501(c)3 organization. For more information call 978 369-1875 or email patrick@adoptacatofconcord.org




Nick Ressler Blood Drive Saturday

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21749250.thb.jpgDo you want to make a difference in 30 minutes this Saturday, April 10? The 9th annual Nick Ressler Blood Drive will be held at First Parish in Concord, 20 Lexington Rd from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM. We would love a few more donors!

Over 300 blood donors in our community make a difference to Nick Ressler through similar donations before he died of cancer at age 14 in 2001, now others need the same help. Join Nick's friends, neighbors and family by sharing the gift of life with those who now require blood due to surgery, trauma, or medical treatments. MassGeneral Hospital's Bloodmobile will be at First Parish on Saturday, April 10 from 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM for the 9th annual Nick Ressler Blood Drive.

If you are between the ages of 16 and 65 you may be eligible to donate. Email or call Pam Ressler, 978-369-0869; or Cindy Tenner, 978-371-0306 to make an appointment.

FEMA Application for Disaster Aid

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By Mark R. Cotreau, Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director, Town of Concord
 

366715_flooded_street_3.jpgResidents and business persons who would like to ascertain the status of their Residential or business FEMA application can do so beginning tomorrow at the Billerica Public Library.  FEMA has set up an area in the library where you can check on your application status.  At this time FEMA reports that you must go to a regional resource to access this information. Billerica is our closest regional resource.

Billerica Public Library
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-9pm
Friday and Saturday 9am-5pm
Sunday 1pm-5pm
Please note that the President extended the date and both of our recent storms are within the period of the disaster declaration.

Alzheimer's Presentation in Concord

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477986_time_for_church_6.jpgThe Liberty Alzheimer's Partnership presents a program on care options for seniors with Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders.   "Navigating the Journey"  will be presented on April 7, 2010 at the Concord Council on Aging, 1276 Main Street in West Concord.  Registration and a light supper will begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the presentation at 6:00 p.m.

Robert Larkin will be the keynote speaker for the event.  Mr. Larkin is President and founder of Senior Living Residences, one of New England's first assisted living management and development companies.  Senior Living Residences specializes in service enriched assisted living and innovative Alzheimer's care.  Additionally, Mr. Larkin will bring his own unique family perspective, having navigated this journey of dementia care in his personal life.

Following the speaker will be a panel presentation on the continuum of care options.  Representatives for various care options in the greater Concord area will each give a short presentation.   Participants include skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, home care agencies, hospice, adult day health programs, the Alzheimer's Association of Massachusetts, and much more.  Information on all the programs will be available.

There is a suggested donation of $10 per person or family.  For questions and to RSVP please call Sally Lopez at 978-287-3173.

Concord's 375th Birthday Celebration!

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birthdaycake.jpgOn September 12, 1635, Concord became the first town in the US above tidewater.  This year is our 375th, and we will be celebrating it with a bang... and more!

There will be many events here during the weekend of September 11-12, as well as others leading up to it to help raise funds and excitement for the celebration. During the birthday weekend, plans include: 

A gala parade • A festive birthday bash dance • A town photo
A music festival • Glorious fireworks • And more!

Commemorative T-shirts are already available for only $15 (shortsleeve) and $20 (longsleeve)! Buy them at Concord merchants, or email the 375th Committee to purchase: 375th@concordma.gov. All shirt proceeds help fund the celebration activities.

Many local organizations and businesses will be having celebration activities, including special books, commemorative wines, and fun activities for the whole family.

Interested in donating or helping with the fun?
  • Send a tax-deductible contribution to: Town of Concord (375th)
  • Email the Committee at 375th@concordma.gov
More info is here: http://www.concordma.gov/pages/ConcordMA_BComm/celebrate375

Library's Author Series Examines a Royal Marriage

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we-two-victoria-and-albert-rulers-partners-rivals.jpgThe Concord Free Public Library welcomes biographer Gillian Gill on Thursday, April 15 at 7:30 pm as part of its 2010 Thursday Author Series.   Gill will discuss her most recent biography, We Two  - Victoria and Albert:  Rulers, Partners, Rivals.   We Two examines the extraordinary relationship and marriage of Queen Victoria, the longest-ruling monarch in British history and her beloved husband Albert, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Gill's biography offers a penetrating psychological portrait of this fabled marriage.   Author Meghan Marshall, in her New York Times review, wrote, "Gill's analysis of the marriage Victoria made is a brutally persuasive indictment of the social institution that cheated her of the rare independence she was granted by her genetic destiny."

Gillian Gill, born in Wales, earned a doctorate in modern French literature from Cambridge University.  She has taught at Northeastern, Wellesley, Yale and Harvard.  In addition to this biography of Queen Victoria, Gill has also written biographies of Florence Nightingale, Agatha Christie and Mary Baker Eddy.  Each of her subjects has focused on women of notoriety, influence and accomplishment who succeeded in male-dominated societies that tended to relegate their gender to supporting roles.

The Friends of the Concord Free Public Library sponsor the Thursday Authors Series from September through June.  Programs, which are held in the second floor Periodical Room of the Main Library, are free and open to all.  Following each presentation, books are available for purchase and audience members are encouraged to continue their conversations with the authors.

Upcoming talks in the series, all on Thursdays at 7:30 pm at the Main Library - 129 Main Street, Concord  include:

  • May 27 - Katherine Howe - The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
  • June  17 - Ken Lizotte - The Expert's Edge

For more information, please call the Library at (978) 318-3300 or visit www.concordlibrary.org

Concord Minuteman & Postal Savings Stamps

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stampssmith.pngWe received this email recently, and with it, a piece of Concord's past reached out its hand:

Sitting here with waaayyy too much time on my hands, I googled 'Concord Minuteman' and found images of the savings stamps we purchased in the 1950s.

My grandfather took that original photo.  His name was George R. Shepard and he worked for the post office in Concord.  He was also a very active photographer in Concord and took most of the most-published images of The Manse, the Orchard House and others.  I have a photo he took of me at age 5 sitting in Louisa Alcott's chair next to a window in her room.

He sold the minuteman photo to the government for $1.00.

Isn't technology amazing?! -- Susan R. Lewis, Longview, WA
It sure is!  What she's referring to is the article we published waaaay back in 1999 (Minuteman Coins and Stamps - http://www.concordma.com/magazine/jan99/coinstamp.html) that comes up (at least it did earlier today) first when you search Google for "Minuteman Stamps".

But look at what comes up second: a fabulous presentation from the National Postal Museum at the Smithsonian Institute, that has zillions of shots of the Concord Minuteman used in this program.  It's called "The Postal And Treasury Savings Stamp System: The War Years," and can be downloaded here. Do download it -- it's beautifully illustrated. It's author, Harry K. Charles, PhD starts showing the use of the Concord Minuteman image on p. 29 of the document (one page shown at top of this post).    

Public Forum on West Concord Businesses

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For ALL Concord Residents:
Balancing Independent and Formula Businesses

in West Concord Village Center

A Public Forum hosted by the  West Concord Task Force

Harvey Wheeler Community Center • Thursday, April 8th at 7:30 p.m.

3bldg.jpegCome join the West Concord Task Force and learn about the first steps toward implementing the West Concord Master Plan:

Article 46 - Zoning bylaw amendment to establish a formula business restriction in West Concord Village
Article 44 - Rename W. Concord Business and Industrial districts and propose changes in allowed uses in the W. Concord Business District

Citizens' petition Articles 45 and 47 expand the West Concord Articles to apply to four village centers in Concord, including W. Concord.  Representatives of the citizens' petition articles will be available at the forum to respond to questions.

Detailed information available at Town Website (concordma.gov) and       
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WCTF_announcements

Let's Preserve West Concord Village!!



From Concord to Congress: This Treasure Matters!

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By Jan Turquist, Director, Orchard House, Home of the Alcotts

treasurehead.pngI have a request that is very near to my heart because I am personally so grateful to the staff at The National Trust of Historic Preservation and Save America's Treasures.  I received a phone call from Bobbie Greene McCarthy, Save America's Treasures Director, asking if we could take a leadership role in helping her emphasize the importance of historic preservation to Congress.  If I know Bobbie and the wonderful team with whom she works, they will succeed!  I certainly want to step up and I'm asking your help, too!  Here's how:

WHO and WHAT: EVERYONE is WELCOME. . . to be in a large group photo in front of Orchard House!!

WHERE, WHEN:  Tuesday, April 6 at 4 pm please come to Orchard House for just about 1/2 an HOUR to be in a "This Treasure Matters" photo in front of the House.

WHY:  Join us in saying "THANK YOU" to Save America's Treasures!!!  Every Save America's Treasures site in the nation is being asked to take a "This Treasure Matters" photo next week so the National Trust of Historic Preservation (the "parent" of Save America's Treasures) can put the photos on preservation websites and otherwise use the photos to support initiatives to keep funding for The National Trust & the Save America's Treasure's program.

BONUS:  In addition to attending the photo shoot at Orchard House on April 6th at 4:00 pm,  you can contact our Congressional representatives, by visiting The National Trust website here (this link takes you to an easy submission form to contact Congress, as well as a list of Save America's Treasures projects throughout the country).

One Ray of Sunshine in the Midst of Flooding

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697298.thb.jpgIn line with the disaster declaration by President Obama for Middlesex County, the IRS has provided deadline relief for those in our area. May 11 is the new deadline for filing your individual tax returns for this year.

See article in yesterday's Boston Globe: http://www.boston.com/business/ticker/2010/03/irs_will_delay.html which says the Massachusetts will also delay state tax filing to the same date.

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