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Berlin is farm country -- and they've got the laws to prove it

Posted June 12, 2008 06:42 AM

Berlin and its farm animals have a message for prospective residents: We're here, we smell bad sometimes, deal with it.


Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has given the final stamp of approval to the farm preservation bylaw that Berlin Town Meeting members approved in May.

The law declares Berlin to be a farming community and protects farmers against complaints that often arise about the nuisances that often accompany farming practices, such as dust, noise and odors.

People considering purchasing property in the town are notified about the law before they close deals on land. The Attorney General approves all local new local bylaws before they can be enacted, with an eye to making sure they don't conflict with other laws.

-- John Dyer

Berlin Farms going to the dogs

Posted May 5, 2008 08:33 AM

Berlin Farms, a country store and 24-acre farm that specializes in raising endangered species of farm animals, is seeking to expand its business to become a "full service animal wellness center" for dogs, according to town officials.

Berlin Farms owner Jennifer Cermak of North Reading is scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Appeals on Wednesday, May 21, as part of her special permit application for the new business. Town zoning allows veterinary and dog kennel facilities on agricultural land with ZBA approval.

-- John Dyer

Berlin man described as a "person of interest" in suspected Worcester serial killings

Posted May 3, 2008 10:56 AM

State prosecutors have described Berlin contractor Alex Scesny, who is currently jailed facing a rape charge, as a "person of interest" in the unsolved slayings of several women from the Worcester area. This 4-year-old photo shows Scesny working on a riding arena project in West Brookfield.
(Photo by Dan Gould, Worcester Telegram & Gazette)


A Berlin man facing trial on rape charges is under investigation in the 1996 slaying of a Fitchburg woman, and authorities are also investigating whether he is linked to the killings of several women with ties to a Worcester neighborhood, a spokesman for Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. said yesterday.

Alex F. Scesny is being held without bail on charges that he raped a woman last year in a West Boylston motel, said the spokesman, Timothy Connolly.

Scesny has been linked by DNA testing to the killing of Theresa K. Stone of Fitchburg, who had worked as a prostitute, according to a State Police affidavit filed in Worcester Superior Court.

The lawyer representing Scesny, Benjamin Brooks, did not return a call seeking comment.

A DNA profile of Scesny, based on evidence from the 2007 rape, matched the DNA profile of Stone's probable killer, the affidavit said. Police also said in the affidavit that two other men who were under investigation in Stone's slaying were dropped as suspects because their DNA did not match.

Asked about a possible link between Scesny and the still-unsolved slayings of at least four women with ties to Worcester's Main South neighborhood, Connolly said: "Mr. Scesny is a person of interest in the deaths of several women who sometimes worked as prostitutes in the Main South area of Worcester."

He would not elaborate.

The bodies of the women were found in Marlborough, Hudson, Rutland, and York, Maine, in the past several years. Their deaths have been under investigation by State Police assigned to Early's office and by Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone's office, because the remains of three of the victims were found in Middlesex County

Three of the victims were Carmen Rudy, 28, and Betzaida Montalvo, 29, whose bodies were both discovered in Marlborough; and Dinelia Torres, 33, whose body was found in Hudson. The body of Wendy Morello, 40, of Millbury was found in York in 2004, and police there had been investigating whether there was any connection to the three woman found dead in Middlesex County.

"He is certainly someone we would like to speak with regarding the homicides in both Hudson and Marlborough," Corey Welford, spokesman for the Middlesex district attorney's office, said of Scesny. "Are we ready to declare him a suspect? No. Are we constantly looking to follow up on any new leads in these cases? Absolutely."

Jackie Rudy, the sister of Carmen Rudy, said in a telephone interview that she welcomed the news authorities may have have made progress in the case. Carmen Rudy was 28 when she disappeared in 2002, and her remains were found Sept. 29, 2003, in Marlborough.

"I hope it comes to a closure," she said of her sister, who was the mother of two children and would be a grandmother if she were still alive. "It's really hard on us."

Jackie Rudy said the family suffers their loss each time there is news coverage of the killings. She said she wants the person responsible to face the death penalty.

Rudy said her sister was not a prostitute, but did live in the Main South neighborhood, where she was battling heroin addiction. She said all of the victims were acquainted with each other, and she bristled at how the news media routinely refers to them as prostitutes.

"They were mothers, sisters, and daughters," she said. "They were human beings that got murdered."

-- John Ellement

State to begin school project studies early

Posted October 4, 2007 09:51 AM


The state will begin feasibility studies for local school projects about a month earlier than anticipated, potentially allowing some projects to be ready for Town Meeting votes next spring, staff writer James Vaznis of the reports in the Globe's City & Region Section today.

On Nov. 2, the state School Building Authority will decide which school districts' proposed projects to study first. Other districts will be selected on a rolling basis after that.

Being selected for a feasibility study doesn't automatically guarantee construction funding, but it is a prerequisite. More than a dozen school districts west of Boston are among 161 districts statewide competing for about $500 million in construction funds this year, the first time in four years the state is doling out school construction money.

In choosing which feasibility studies to pursue first, the state has been dispatching inspection teams to analyze building conditions and enrollment trends, visiting 90 districts so far. Those districts include Berlin-Boylston, Franklin, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Maynard, Nashoba, Natick, Needham, Norfolk, Shrewsbury, Wayland, and Wellesley.

The resulting studies, which should be completed this winter, will give the state the first glimpse of how much it could potentially cost to do all the projects. In all, 161 districts have expressed interest in 422 school projects.

Local schools go green

Posted June 13, 2007 02:57 PM


Several local schools won 'Green Team' awards from the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs following a program to reduce pollution and protect the environment.

The Globe West area schools honored were:

  • Berlin Middle School in Berlin
  • Fowler School in Maynard
  • Marion E. Zeh School in Northborough
  • Melican Middle School in Northborough
  • Beatrice H. Wood School in Plainville
  • James Fitzgerald Elementary School in Waltham
  • Hemenway School in Framingham
  • Mary E. Stapleton School in Framingham

Schools that won awards received recycling equipment to make their individual programs more effective.

-- Adam Sell

Preserving history in Berlin

Posted June 6, 2007 10:23 AM

The Bullard House has served as both a tavern and a high school ... but not at the same time.
(Town of Berlin photo)


The Berlin Art and Historical Society officials say they have achieved several of their goals for the year including registering with the state as a non-profit, which allows the society to apply for grants and its donors to write off contributions.

The society has also increased its membership and is now working on achieving federal non-profit status. Future goals, officials said, include placing two buildings on the state's historic register: the 1870 Town Hall, which was renovated into an arts center and opened this January, and the Bullard House, a building that dates back to the American Revolution and which has served at various times as a tavern, a fire station, a barber shop, and the first Berlin high school.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Old town hall to get makeover

Posted June 5, 2007 09:53 AM

Old Town Hall, new life
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


A $35,000 state grant will help the town complete its renovations to the 1870 Town Hall, a once vacant building now used as an arts and community center.

State Representative Stephen LeDuc (D-Marlborough) helped the town secure the funds, which must be spent by the end of fiscal 2007 on June 30, said Walter Bickford, the volunteer renovation coordinator. Once the work is complete the town must submit the state a report detailing how the money was spent.

The list of upgrades includes repairing and painting the exterior, adding a handicapped ramp, replacing the restrooms and installing kitchen cabinets, Bickford said. Volunteers will be tapped to help complete the work.

A grand opening of the building, which was open for use in January, is planned for late September.

- Jennifer Rosinski

New Old Town Hall will host Memorial Day party in Berlin

Posted May 23, 2007 09:35 AM

Old Town Hall, new life
(Globe staff photo by Bill Polo)


Berlin's newly-restored 1870 Town Hall will be a centerpiece for Monday's Memorial Day festivities in the town, hosting an ice cream social, a Civil War historical display, an art show and performances by a musical quartet.

The event, sponsored by the Berlin Art and Historical Society, will begin at approximately 2:30 p.m. following the Memorial Day ceremonies and parade.

The festivities will begin with a pancake breakfast held by the local Boy Scouts at First Parish Church on Central Street from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Ceremonies to honor the dead soldiers will he held at South Cemetery on Pleasant Street at 9 a.m. and at North Cemetery on Highland Street at 9:30 a.m., said Robert Rainville, commander of the H. Wallace Woodward American Legion Post 162 in Berlin.

The Parade will start at 12:45 p.m. at the Berlin Memorial School on South Street and end with speakers at the old burial ground in the center of town. In case of rain, all ceremonies will be held at Berlin Memorial School at 1 p.m., town officials said.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Split decision on overrides in Berlin

Posted May 16, 2007 07:35 AM


Residents approved one of three one-year overrides to pay for capital projects and re-elected all incumbents in Monday’s election.

A request to spend just under $10,000 to weatherize and install storm windows on the second floor of town hall was approved by a vote of 146 to 109, Town Clerk Eloise Salls said.

A measure that would have raised $6,000 to maintain athletic fields on South Common failed by a vote of 147 to 107, however, and proposal for $10,000 to replace tables and chairs in the public safety training room was shot down with a vote of 174 to 82.

All candidates ran unopposed and were reelected to office. Of the town’s 1,801 registered voters, 261 cast ballots.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Melican named as interim Tahanto Regional superintendent

Posted May 7, 2007 09:55 AM

Robert Melican
(Globe staff photo by Janet Knott)


The Tahanto Regional School Committee has unanimously named Robert Melican as the district’s interim superintendent while they search for a permanent replacement for Marcia Lukon, who leaves June 30.

The committee has also enlisted the New England School Development Council to conduct the search, said Chris Keefe, vice-chairman of the regional school committee and chairman of the Berlin School Committee. Keefe said the committee hopes to start the search in the fall.

The terms of Melican’s contract are in negotiations, but Keefe said the committee would like him to start by June 30. Melican retired two years ago after 36 years with the Northborough-Southborough schools and previously served as an interim superintendent in Douglas.

Lukon, who was hired in 2003, declined to accept a new contract from the committee. She has been criticized for her budget process and the Boylston Teachers Association hit her with a no confidence vote last year.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Election deadline looms in Berlin

Posted April 9, 2007 10:13 AM


Residents have until tomorrow to submit papers to challenge the 10 incumbents up for re-election next month, town officials say.

Selectmen Valary Bradley, Assessor Diane Peterson, School Committee Chairwoman Christine Keefe, and Planning board member Timothy Wheeler are among those seeking re-election.

According to Town Clerk Eloise Salls, the election is scheduled for May 14 and polling booths will be open from noon to 8 p.m. in the lower level of the town offices on Linden Street.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

A sign of the apocalypse (or maybe just some good news) in Berlin

Posted March 23, 2007 10:03 AM


Even though the bills will go out April 1, town officials insist it is not a joke. This year’s average tax bill will actually decrease $31 from last year thanks in part to an unexpected state reimbursement.

The new tax rate is $10.96 for every $1,000 of value. The average tax bill is $5,444 on the average assessed home of $496,750, Assessor Diane Peterson said. Last year’s average tax bill was $5,475.

The town received $189,168 in unanticipated state reimbursement money for the construction of Berlin Memorial School, Peterson said.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Syringe-wielding robber needles Route 495 communities

Posted March 21, 2007 03:46 PM


Berlin is the latest of three communities along Route 495 to be hit by a robber wielding what is believed to be a blood-filled syringe.

A man wearing a black ski mask and black jacket and brandishing the syringe walked into the Shell gas station on Central Street last Wednesday evening and screamed for money, Police Chief Otto F. Rhode Jr. said. The man grabbed the entire cash register drawer and ran away. A state police K-9 unit tracked his cent to a Rte. 495 on-ramp, where police believe a car was waiting.

Rhode said the robbery may be linked to similar thefts in Marlborough and Hudson last month.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Charge filed against Berlin student who scrawled "kill" on bathroom mirror

Posted March 20, 2007 02:24 PM


Officials said a misdemeanor charge was filed Monday morning against a 10-year-old Berlin Memorial School student who has allegedly admitted to writing the word "kill" on a bathroom mirror and forcing the school into lock-down.

Thee charge of disturbing a school or assembly was filed against the 10-year-old in juvenile court in Worcester, said BerlinPolice Chief Otto F. Rhode Jr., who would not provide the sex or grade of the student.

The South Street school went into lock-down again for an hour last Wednesday afternoon while police investigated. The incident occurred just two weeks after another student got into trouble for compiling “kill” and “protect” lists, Rhode said.

The 10-year-old confessed to a teacher the next morning, Thursday, while police were at the school to continue their investigation. The child was suspended.

In February, a 12-year-old student was suspended for penning “a kill list” and “protect list” written in response to bullying at the school. The sixth-grader did not make the lists public and was not charged. Rhode said the 10-year-old apparently scrawled the word on the mirror in response to those lists.

“They’re not linked as far as any kind of conspiracy, but they are linked. The student who wrote kill on the mirror more or less got the idea from the previous incident,” Rhode said. “I can’t elaborate, but it probably wouldn’t have happened if the first incident hadn’t happened.”

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Laying down the (leash) law

Posted March 13, 2007 09:15 AM


A Berlin couple has been ordered by the Board of Selectmen to keep their dog confined to their fenced in yard or on a leash following a hearing on the animal’s aggressive behavior.

The board last week ordered William and Noella Dubois of Richard Drive keep their dog Max from roaming around town freely. Town Dog Officer Helen Roach has been advised to conduct unannounced compliance checks.

MaryAnn Aijala of Barnes Hill Road wrote the board a letter claiming Max attacked her dog Boots, several times over the past eight years. The most recent attack was in November; Boots has since died of causes unrelated to the attacks.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Crisis of confidence in Berlin

Posted March 6, 2007 06:52 AM


The Tahanto Teacher’s Association has taken a vote of no confidence in the Berlin-Boylston Regional School Committee, citing abuse of power and disregard of the faculty – including lagging contract negotiations.

“We just feel the school committee is not doing the right thing for the students,” said union Co-President and English teacher Peter Doherty. Tahanto Regional teachers have been working without a contract since the start of the school year.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

A dog's day in Town Hall

Posted March 3, 2007 09:19 AM


A Berlin woman who claims her dog was attacked several times by a neighbor’s pet will share her story during a hearing Monday night before the Board of Selectmen.

MaryAnn Aijala of Barnes Hill Road alleges that Max, a dog owned by William and Noella Dubois of Richard Drive, has attacked her dog several times over the past eight years. Most recently, Aijala claims Max attacked her dog, Boots, in her yard in November and caused a gaping wound in his shoulder that required emergency care. Boots has since been put down as a result of an unrelated illness.

The Board will hear testimony from both Aijala and the Dubois at 7:30 p.m. in the selectmen’s hearing room in the town offices on Linden Street. Selectmen could decide to take no action or issue recommendations that could include the restraining the Dubois' dog or ordering it removed from town.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Taxing situation in Berlin

Posted February 23, 2007 04:12 PM


The owner of an average $443,901 home in Berlin will see taxes go up $52 next year, according to the assessor’s proposed new tax rate.

Assessor Diane Peterson will present a report to the Board of Selectmen Monday night that sets the new tax rate at $10.96 per $1,000 of assessed value. Last year’s tax rate was $11.78 per $1,000 of assessed value. That change means taxes on the average $443,901 home will jump to $4,865. Last year the average home was $408,609.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

School budget increase suggested for Tahanto Regional

Posted February 22, 2007 06:42 AM


Next year’s Tahanto Regional Middle/High School budget would jump 5.88 percent to $6.7 million, an increase that includes the addition of a math teacher, a special education teacher, and department heads for both science and socials studies, according to Superintendent Marcia Lukon’s proposed budget worksheet.

The suggested fiscal 2008 budget for the school that serves students from grades 7-12 in Berlin and Boylston is $371,000 more than the current budget of $6.3 million. The budget, which must be approved by the finance committees in both towns, also includes $38,335 to replace outdated textbooks.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Conserving Berlin

Posted February 21, 2007 07:25 AM


The Berlin Conservation Commission has voted to buy an almost four-acre parcel off Crosby Road for $20,000 and has accepted another 10 acres as a gift.

David Rosemarin, a former Berlin resident who now lives in Harvard, agreed to sell his property of mostly wetlands to the commission, Chairman Walter Bickford said. The land borders North Brook, which Bickford said makes it ecologically important. Money from the town’s Solomon Pond Mall fund will be used to make the purchase.

The commission will also take ownership of 10 acres in Hog Swamp off Sawyer Hill Road that was donated by Barbara O’Brien, widow of former Berlin Orchards owner Barry O’Brien, Bickford said. Lawyers are still working out the details of both transactions, he said.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Happy little houses in Berlin

Posted February 17, 2007 10:13 AM


In an effort to increase the Bluebird population in Berlin, the Berlin Public Library and the town's Parks and Recreation Department have joined forces to offer a “Build a Bluebird House” program.

Participants will learn about bluebirds, build a house for the species for their yards and monitor all visits. Bird house materials will be supplied, but participants must bring a hammer and both Phillips and flat head screwdrivers. A detailed log of sightings will be posted in the library for viewing.

The program will be held over the next two Saturdays, Feb. 24 and March 3, from 10 a.m. to noon and is free to all Berlin families. The number of slots is limited, however. Anyone interested is urged to call the library at 978-838-2812 to reserve a spot.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Moving forward while looking back

Posted February 15, 2007 02:05 PM


Now that work is complete on the former Town Hall, the Berlin Art and Historical Society is shifting its efforts next door to restoring the Bullard House into a town museum.

The red house on Woodward Avenue (Rte. 62) is one of the town’s oldest buildings, dating back to the time of the American Revolution, society President Walter Bickford said. It has served many purposes over the years including tavern, fire station, barber shop, store and the first Berlin high school in the early 1800s.

The post and beam house, owned by the Historical Society for 12 years, needs its foundation fixed and some repair work on both the interior and exterior, Bickford said. Once restored through volunteers and donations, the house could serve as a museum to display collectibles including old farm tools and clothing.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Berlin hopes to mark and map trails

Posted February 8, 2007 05:09 PM


By year's end, the Conservation Commission hopes to mark and map trails on 40 town-owned acres and 30 acres that were once part of the Devine farm on Linden Street.

Commission chairman Walter Bickford said his group also plans to promote conservation with programs in the schools.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

There’s no such thing as a free … oh, wait …

Posted February 8, 2007 11:43 AM


Senior citizens will be honored in Berlin on Saturday with a complementary supper at the First Parish Church.

The free supper is sponsored by the Berlin Lions Club as a way of celebrating the town’s most experienced citizens. The event is scheduled to kick off at 12 p.m. Feb. 10 at the church on Central Street. All seniors are welcome.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

A home for the arts in Berlin

Posted February 5, 2007 12:41 PM

Old Town Hall during renovations in 2004
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)


Almost seven years after it was shut down and following four years of volunteer renovations, the former Town Hall is officially open for use as an arts center after being issued a permanent occupancy permit last week.

Berlin Building Commissioner Lawrence Brandt issued the permit for the Woodward Avenue building January 31, according to Walter Bickford, the volunteer Town Hall renovation coordinator. The first event at the town hall was a contra dance on Saturday night. A grand opening celebration is in the planning stages, Bickford said.

Bickford and dozens of town residents donated their time and resources and spent more than $20,000 in town funds - to revamp the 137-year-old building in the center of town. The white two-story building has been vacant since it was last used as a place for town business in June 2000, when the town office building opened on Linden Street.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Hail (but no raise) to the chief

Posted February 3, 2007 09:24 PM


The Board of Selectmen has shot down the Berlin Board of Fire Engineers’ request to significantly increase the budget for the fire department, including nixing a $14,000 salary increase for the new fire chief.

The budget of $112,319 is $14,834 more than last year and includes a $516 raise for the new fire chief, Bruce Ricard, who took over for Robert Tervo when he retired in August. The board wanted to pay Ricard – a part-time employee - $29,750, but selectmen cut that amount down to $15,696.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

They're not down on the farm in Berlin

Posted February 2, 2007 11:04 AM

Strawberries from Berlin Orchards
(Globe Staff photo by David Kamerman)


The Agriculture Commission will next week hear from farmers and town officials before deciding whether to present a “Right to Farm” bylaw to town meeting for approval in May.

The commission, created by town meeting in May 2005, has crafted the bylaw in hopes of promoting agriculture and farming in the town, said Chairman Carl Wickstrom, who owns and operates Golden Skep Farm on Linden Street.

The bylaw is more of a general document than a set of guidelines, Wickstrom said. It aims to protect farmland and promote agriculture-based economic opportunities while also reducing conflict between farmers and both residents and town agencies.

The commission has sent the proposed bylaw to all town boards and farmland owners for review. It will be discussed at the commission’s next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 15 on the second floor of the town offices on Linden Street.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Census and sensibility

Posted January 31, 2007 09:25 AM


Berlin residents who have yet to mail in their census forms risk losing their status as registered voters.

Town Clerk Eloise Salls said she will list residents as inactive voters by the time of May’s town meeting and election if she does not receive their forms within the next few weeks. More than 300 households have yet to return the forms, said Salls, who mailed more than 1,100 in the beginning of January.

Residents can pick up the forms outside the town clerk’s office in the town offices on Linden Street. Contact Salls via e-mail or at 978-838-2931.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Hail (and a pay raise) to the chief

Posted January 30, 2007 11:25 AM

Berlin Police Chief Otto F. Rhode Jr.
(Town of Berlin image)


Berlin Police Chief Otto F. Rhode Jr. has a big stake in the departmental budget that the town's Board of Selectmen has just given preliminary approval -- an 18 percent stake, to be exact.

Of the $27,481 in increased spending that Rhode is proposing for the 2008 fiscal year, 18 percent would be earmarked for a $5,000 increase in his own salary. If the request survives the next round of review, the chief will make $114,240 per year, or about 18 percent of the department's $637,000 annual budget.

In a separate request that will go before May town meeting, Rhode is asking for $31,000 to purchase a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria. The car will replace an older vehicle in the department’s fleet.

The budget and capital request will now be reviewed by the Finance Committee, which will schedule meetings with department heads.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

It's how you play the game ...

Posted January 28, 2007 09:36 AM


Tahanto Regional Middle/High School has been selected to receive a prestigious sportsmanship award within its athletic division.

Coaches within the Midland Wachuset League Division D chose Tahanto to receive the John P. Fahey Sportmanship Award for the school’s upstanding conduct during the 2005-2006 athletic season. It is the second time Tahanto, which serves students from Berlin and Boylston, has received the award in the past three years.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

A new-fangled New England barn raising

Posted January 26, 2007 01:29 PM


If someday soon you drive past a 25,000 square foot barn on the south side of Berlin and say: "Oh, look! They took an old barn and turned it into a store," you've been had. And that's the idea.

The building -- which will be the largest commercial structure of its kind in town and the new corporate home of Pure Hockey, a specialty retailer with five new England locations -- is supposed to fool people into thinking it's been there for years.

According to the principals involved, the building plan is the result of an agreement between the town Planning Board, Pure Hockey owner William Craig and landowner Ronald Wheeler, who owns the farmland on which the store will sit.

Wheeler agreed to preserve more than 11 acres adjacent to the store in exchange for the right to construct the building. Town laws normally limit commercial buildings to 4,000 square feet.

Craig, who is expected to this week close on the purchase of 4.5 acres from Wheeler, said the store was designed to fit in with the character of the surrounding area.

"We wanted to preserve the integrity of the town," he said.

The store is scheduled to open by April 1, more than three years after Craig first planned on opening it, and will housed on the first floor with corporate offices on the top level. A temporary location on Donald J. Lynch Boulevard in Marlborough will close once the new store opens.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

A puddle gets its due

Posted January 22, 2007 12:48 PM


The state has notified Berlin Memorial School that a large wet area behind the school has been certified as a vernal pool more than two years after students first began collecting information about the wetland.

The students, now in the 7th grade at Tahanto Regional Middle/High School, began observing the wetlands two years ago. They mapped the area and collected and identified species that lived within the pool, including wood frogs, dragonfly, mole salamanders, snails and water spiders. The students repeated the process last year with the help of another fifth grade class.

A vernal pool is a seasonal wetland covered by shallow water for variable periods from winter to spring, but which may be completely dry for most of the summer and fall. Since the Berlin pool is now certified by the state Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, it is now protected by state regulations.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

A wish list in Berlin

Posted January 14, 2007 03:33 PM


A sound system, upgraded door locks, and air conditioning.

A teenager's Christmas list? The stuff I paid extra for in my new Toyota? Nope.

Those are all items on a wish list Berlin Memorial School Principal Richard Borowiec has submitted to the School Committee.

The $32,000 capital plan includes: replacing classroom doors that do not lock from the inside, as well as several faulty exterior doors; repairing and shortening the bleachers in the gym; installing a drainage system and landscaping in the playground area; adding an air conditioner to the communication room; and five amplification systems, four for classrooms and one portable unit.

The board will decide how much of the wish list to fund in their fiscal 2008 budget, Borowiec said. Last year the board funded more than $40,000 in improvements.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Controversial housing project gets OK

Posted January 11, 2007 07:23 PM


wecohous 1.jpg

Future residents of the project on the site a year ago
(Globe Staff Photo by Bill Polo)

Berlin has given the go-ahead to the controversial Sawyer Hill cohousing development.

The complex will consist of two distinct neighborhoods, Mosaic Commons and Camelot Cohousing. Each will have 34 units and its own common areas.

The development will sit on 65 acres, 55 of which once belonged to Bigelow Nurseries.

The Zoning Board of Appeals approved the project by a 3-2 vote last night.

The complex -- proposed under the state’s Chapter 40B affordable housing law -- will add 17 below-market units to the town’s existing 43, with 12 going to Berlin residents or employees.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

This year, BYOS (Bring your own snow)

Posted January 2, 2007 11:28 AM


A five-week after school ski and snowboard program for Berlin students on Thursday afternoons will begin Thursday at Ski Ward in Shrewsbury.

Sponsored by the Recreation Department, the program is offered to students ages 4 and above and features several levels:

* Small Tracks - a one-hour lesson for children ages 4 to 7 that begins at 3:30 p.m.
* First Tracks - a one hour lesson followed by one hour of free skiing or snowboarding for students in second grade and above that runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
* Level Three and above - skiers and snowboarders can opt out of lessons.

Prices range from $60 for lift tickets only to $225 for ski or snowboard lessons with rentals. Participants who complete the first tracks program are eligible for one free Ski Ward lift ticket.

Information and applications are available online from the Town of Berlin.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Want to see Happy Feet? Nah, I'll wait for the book.

Posted December 29, 2006 03:50 PM


The town of Berlin has come up with a novel idea for how to get kids to read more. Send them to the movies!

Starting Tuesday, students in grades K-12 who check out reading material from the Berlin Public Library will have their name entered in a weekly drawing.

One movie ticket to Regal Cinemas will be awarded to the raffle winner at the library each Saturday at 1 p.m. The drawings, sponsored jointly by the library and the Berlin Recreation Department, will continue through at least Feb. 3.

For more information, call the library at 978-838-2812.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Meeting of the (selectmen's) minds

Posted November 27, 2006 09:54 AM


Selectmen from the towns of Boylston and Berlin will meet tonight in Berlin to discuss how to raise state money and divide the cost of renovating Tahanto Regional Middle and High School.

Critics say the school has a leaking roof, an inadequate library, antiquated science labs, and lacks expansion room for important programs like special education. The regional school district recently sent a letter of interest to the state School Building Authority, outlining their desire to replace or renovate the 43-year-old facility.

The two boards will meet at 7:30 p.m. at the town offices on Linden Street in Berlin to talk about the best way to break down the cost of a renovation or addition, if the plan it is approved by the state. The cost of the project has yet to be determined.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

You should see what was between the couch cushions ...

Posted November 22, 2006 12:02 PM


Berlin has received a $52,000 windfall from the state Board of Education as a result of an increase in the town’s payment for participation in the Assabet Valley Regional School District.

Called a foundation reserve award, the money can be spent by the town on anything they wish, according to the selectmen’s office. It will likely be rolled over into free cash and used next year, officials said.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Broil and Brrrr in Berlin

Posted November 16, 2006 10:13 AM


If the Berlin Town Offices are only six years old, how come they're already having hot flashes?

In order to find out, the Berlin Board of Selectmen has hired a Sterling company to get to the bottom of problems with the heating and cooling system. The system has been plagued with consistency problems – with some offices being cold while others are hot – since the Linden Street building opened in the summer of 2000.

The town will pay First Mechanical $800 for some initial repairs and to complete a report detailing all of the work needed to bring the system up to date, according to the selectmen’s office. T

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Senior housing hopes dashed

Posted November 13, 2006 09:02 AM


Berlin’s dreams of expanding a subsidized apartment complex for seniors and the disabled have been dashed by the federal government’s denial of the town's grant application, officials said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development shot down the town’s request for funding to add 36 units to Northbrook Village. The money would have gone to construct a two-story apartment-style building, said Town Clerk Eloise Smalls, who served on the five-member grant seeking committee.

HUD would have paid up to 67 percent of the project cost, with the rest of the money coming from the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

Built opened in 1980, Northbrook is for residents who are at least 62 years old who either have low incomes or a disability. There are currently 40 apartments in detached buildings on the 19 acre property off of Pleasant Street, with more than 30 people on the waiting list, officials said.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Hail to the Chief

Posted November 1, 2006 09:26 AM


The Berlin fire company will host a party Friday to celebrate the recent retirement of Fire Chief Robert L. Tervo and his 47 years of service to the town.

Tervo retired from the call department in August because he reached 65, the state’s maximum age allowed for police and fire personnel, but he will remain on the Board of Fire Engineers. Deputy Fire Chief Bruce Ricard was selected as Tervo’s replacement.

The event is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. at The Riverview at the Hudson Portuguese Club in Hudson. Tickets are $35 at the door or by contacting Fire Lt. David Lichwell at 978-838-2444 ext. 223 or 978-838-2556.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

The Birth of Berlin

Posted October 21, 2006 09:21 AM


The story of Berlin’s first minister, the Rev. Reuben Puffer, and his role in helping the town branch off from Bolton will be presented by the Berlin Art and Historical Society Saturday after its monthly meeting.

Puffer, who died in 1829, was named minister of the South Parish of Bolton in November 1781, according to the society.

He is perhaps best known for helping residents navigate through the political process that made it possible for Berlin break off from Bolton and become its own town in 1812. Puffer, a farmer and father of 18, was then named the first minister of the First Parish Church of Berlin.

The presentation will be given by former Berlin resident Douglas Pierce at 8 p.m. in the town offices on Linden Street.

- Jennifer Rosinski

Breathing easier in Berlin

Posted October 15, 2006 09:30 AM


The Berlin Fire Department will use more $120,000 in federal grant money won this month to buy state-of-the-art protective equipment and breathing apparatuses, officials say.

The department received the $122,925 award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Oct. 6, officials say. The town must contribute a five percent matching grant in order to accept it.

The Board of Selectmen last Tuesday requested that the matching funds, to the tune of $6,469, be transferred from the town's reserve fund. The request is pending approval from the town's Finance Committee.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Berlin to property owners: Pay up!

Posted October 14, 2006 09:47 AM


Time to pay that bill. Or else. That's the message from the town of Berlin, which will place liens on six properties Monday morning if the owners haven't paid overdue tax bills that range from less than $6 to more than $5,000, according to tax collector Richard Sardell.

The bills are from fiscal year 2006, which ended June 30. The smallest bill is owed by the heirs of Edward L. Collins for two parcels on Collins Road: $5.88 for a lot of less than a tenth of an acre and $12.96 for one that is just under a quarter acre.

The largest bill, $5,972.46 is owed by Henry S. Mikoloski Jr. for his home and 14 acres at 244 South St.

The other overdue amounts are $188.48 for one acre on Carter Street owned by the Boston and Maine Railroad, $3,373.78 for two acres at 28 Coburn Road owned by the heirs of Robert A. Sargent, and $5,922.98 for 4.33 acres at 3 Larkin Road owned by The 495 Group Inc.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

Slow down, you're moving too fast

Posted September 17, 2006 09:56 AM


Whitney Street drivers, be advised! Selectmen have asked for speed limit signs and police patrols along the street in hopes of stopping trucks from zooming down the road to Northborough.

The board made the request last week after receiving several complaints from Whitney Road residents about trucks coming from I-290, selectmen’s secretary Peggy Sardell said.

Signs posting the road’s 25 mph speed limit will be installed at the rotary and along Whitney Road to the Northborough town line over the next few weeks.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

And he's OK ...

Posted August 10, 2006 04:02 PM


Walter Bickford, an environmentalist from Berlin, has held jobs as a state representative, commissioner of the state's Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Environmental Law Enforcement, and the director of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition.

He's also a lumberjack.

According to Bickford, there is no contradiction in being an environmentalist and a lumberjack at the same time. He believes you can love trees without hugging them.

Read more about it in today's Globe West...

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