Memorial Day Events in Worcester

The following events will be held to commemorate Memorial Day:

Sunday, May 24, 2015
Water Ceremony
2:00 p.m. at Elm Park
Registration – 1:15 p.m. at the corner of Elm and Highland Streets

Monday, May 25, 2015
125th Memorial Day Observance
Remembrance Ceremony
9:00 a.m. at Hope Cemetery
Participants will meet at 8:45 AM inside the Main Gate for a short procession to the G.A.R. veterans’ section (#45).

Monday, May 25, 2015
Wreath Laying Ceremony
11:00 a.m. – Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Green Hill Park

It’s a preliminary!

We’ll have a preliminary election this year for at-large Council, at least.

Worcester has only had four preliminary elections for at-large seats under the current charter: in 1993, 1995, 2007, and 2011.  (Note that there’s never been a preliminary for school committee.)

A couple of years ago, I wrote a long, boring post about election results which touched on preliminary elections.  I won’t rehash that here, but I’ll note that, in the past, a preliminary election has not meant an increase in voter turnout.

Does a preliminary election mean that a non-incumbent is more likely to pick up a seat? Let’s see…

In 1993, there were 14 candidates in the preliminary election; 5 incumbents were running.  All 5 won re-election.

In 1995, there were 14 candidates in the preliminary election; 6 were incumbents.  One incumbent, John T. Buell, lost to S. Gary Rosen, a popular school committee member who was running for at-large council.

In 2007, there were 18 candidates in the preliminary, as there will be this year.  Six incumbents were running.  Two, Mike Perotto and Dennis Irish, were replaced by non-incumbents Rick Rushton (then-D5 councilor) and Mike Germain.

In 2011, there were 14 candidates in the preliminary; 6 were incumbents, and all 6 incumbents won re-election.

This year, we’ve got 18 candidates for the preliminary.

If this year proves to be anything like 2007, we could see a significant shakeup of the at-large council members.


Blast from the past

Spotted on Rte. 56 in Leicester:

bradlees1Department store Bradlees declared bankruptcy in 2000, and all stores were closed by March of 2001.

A bit of local trivia which many readers will remember — the smallish Home Depot store on Gold Star Boulevard was originally a Bradlees store.

Those of a certain age may remember some Bradlees television commercials featuring “Mrs. B” and the jingle “At Bradlees, you buy what Mrs. B buys.  And nobody can buy like Mrs. B.”

Evidently some enterprising soul on Rte. 56 bought like Mrs. B and got themselves a trailer or two when the store chain was liquidated.

Data Day 2015 – May 21

If you read this blog, chances are this is right up your alley; from mes amis at CMRPC –

Data Day helps non-profits, civic institutions, and municipalities expand their capacity to use technology and data in innovative ways to advance their goals. Geared for data users at all levels, Central Mass Data Day 2015 will include:

  • Launching the CentralMass DataCommon
  • Hands-on workshops on:
    –  WEAVE (Web-based Analysis and Visualization Environment), the
    web-based  open source data visualization software behind the
    CentralMass DataCommon
  • Data visualization and information design best practices
  • Introductions to free and open source software for data analysis including KIDS COUNT
  • And much more!

Full Agenda.

The day will provide an excellent professional development opportunity for organizations looking to get the most from their existing resources and staff. If you are interested in presenting a workshop or poster, or have general questions about the conference, please contact Chris Ryan at or (508) 459-3315


Get thee to the sugar house

If you’re a New Englander worthy of the name, you know that maple syrup is one of the best known products of our region.  Perhaps less so these days in Massachusetts, where farms are often bought up and replaced by housing developments named after the farm they decimated.  But there are still farms in our area tapping maple trees for sap to turn into various maple products.

Sugar shed

The Warren Farm in North Brookfield is still making syrup, sugar & candies from their sap, and March is usually the most active time for sap gathering/boiling.  If you haven’t visited a farm/sugar house since your childhood, you need to see what has changed in sap-gathering and syrup-making.

Dale and Janice Wentworth are hosting tours of their operation every Saturday and Sunday this month at 2:00 p.m.  This isn’t the quick trip to a sugar house to see sap boiling.  Janice Wentworth used to be a teacher and will treat you to a 1.5-hour presentation featuring a history of maple-tapping and a tour of their facilities.  Janice will tell you about the earliest known accounts/methods of sap gathering by Native Americans, then into the colonial period.  As she takes you through history, you’ll learn about the changing methods used down the ages, and eventually to 20th and 21st century technologies.

Bucket sled


Folks on the tour will be offered a small paper cup with fresh sap to taste.  It is primarily water, with just a tiny amount of maple sugar in it.  This is what is gathered from trees and boiled until most of the water is gone.

The presentation is held in a greenhouse behind the farm stand & gift shop building, so even on a chilly day, you’ll be pretty warm while learning about maple.

Janice will then take the visitors to see how modern sap gathering happens.  Gone are the buckets hanging from trees, though there are a couple available to show how things used to be done.


In their place is an advanced network of vacuum tubes that draw sap from trees and bring it directly to a holding tank in readiness for its visit to the evaporator.


Janice will then take you to the sugar house where all the magic happens.


If you haven’t already met Dale Wentworth by this point, you’ll probably find him minding the evaporator, a stainless steel marvel that is kept heated by countess cords of wood stacked nearby.  The evaporator is run with great precision, and the boiling point of water is even monitored regularly by referencing the barometric pressure, with the evaporator adjusted accordingly.


Janice Wentworth and the evaporator


Dale may even show you the smaller evaporator where he’s been making syrup from birch sap.

The tour ends back in the greenhouse, where visitors are offered samples of four different grades of syrup to taste.  You may find a new favorite!

The tour costs $5 per person, and for that you get an hour and a half of fascinating information about maple sugaring and its history, free samples of sap & syrup, and a maple recipe booklet.  After the syrup sampling, visitors go down to the gift shop to pay for their tour, and many decide to purchase some maple products before leaving.

There’s limited seating in the greenhouse, so call ahead before you leave to make sure there will be room for you: 508-867-0174.  Tours are at 2:00 pm on Saturdays and Sundays this month.  This tour attracts foreign tourists as well, so you may meet someone from abroad who set aside an afternoon on their trip to learn about this unique aspect of New England.

When you arrive, someone will meet you at the road to see if you’re on the list of folks who called, and then help find you a spot to park so that all visitors can be accommodated at the end of this small road.

Warren Farm is located at 31 Warren St. in North Brookfield.  It’s a pleasant & scenic half-hour drive from the Worcester area.  Wear weather-appropriate clothing, and mud-resistant shoes — at this time of year, even if it hasn’t been raining, the melting snow may create some mud between the greenhouse and sugar house, or in the woods.

(Once you know where the Warren Farm is, be sure to stop back in the warmer months when their farm stand is selling fresh produce!)