Once again we hear sour grapes, after the fact, from Selectman Petropoulos and his "kitchen cabinet," at Monday Nov. 13's Selectmen's meeting regarding the Selectmen's negotiations with Indian Hill over their building permit.
I say sour grapes, because if the Selectmen wanted to be open and transparent about such a transforming development in the town, this process should have been public from day one. So instead of the Herald trying to scapegoat the disappointment of the negotiations onto individuals, the fault lies squarely with our elected officials. End of story.
The improvements outlined by Selectman Degen to realign the dangerous intersection at Old Ayer Road and Route 119 will more than make up for any preconceived shortfall in the building permit.
Groton is undergoing a renaissance that will transform our town in a good way. All the naysayers who did not want Four Corners developed, or expanded fire protection to protect the town from possible catastrophic loss, the Groton Inn, the development along Station Avenue and the chance to have one of the finest music centers in the Northeast will all bring much needed revenue from diners, guests and customers to all these venues.
These projects, together with a new senior center and other future projects, will elevate Groton's status as one of the more progressive towns in the Commonwealth.
There is enough bad news bombarding us every day; it is time to stop and smell the flowers while we still can.
Friends of the Shirley Seniors thank vendors, volunteers
The Friends of the Shirley Seniors recently sponsored a Craft & Bake Sale at the Ayer Shirley Middle School.
We wish to thank all of the vendors who participated and the Student Council for their assistance. Tina Libby, our contact person, worked with us since last spring and was a great resource person. Catherine Lyons, the Student Council Advisor and the Student Council members, Lilly Woodward, Derek Pueschel, Sophia Watkins, John Phillips, Lorenna Teixeria, Angelo Mavilia and Tyler Driscoll provided refreshments and a light lunch. The students also helped our vendors by setting up and bringing their crafts in and out of the gym. We also would like to thank the custodian, Brian Fillerbrown for his help in setting up the tables.
We would be remiss if we didn't thank everyone who came and supported us. All of the proceeds from this sale will enable us to provide free events for the Shirley Seniors.
Friends of the Shirley Seniors
Where are Ayer Shirley's Chromebooks?
In the Aug. 25 issue of this paper, Ayer Shirley Superintendent Mary Malone announced an expensive program that would give every kid at Ayer Shirley High School a computer to bring home for personal use. At the time, this paper cautioned that it, "sounds like splurging" to do a free give away that would cost the Ayer Shirley taxpayers $50,000 in the first year alone with high annual costs after that.
The August article lead with the line that, "When Ayer Shirley Regional High School students return to their classrooms next week, each one of them will be issued a brand-new Dell Chromebook." The school year is almost half over and amazingly, this still has not happened.
My grandchild who attends the school confirms that many of the kids were not even given a computer to start the school year with. Even worse, most of the kids that were given one have stopped bringing them to school because they are not being used regularly in class.
This has become a classic example of a government boondoggle. Hundreds of kids were basically given a new expensive toy to play video games on and Facebook with at home, all compliments of the Ayer and Shirley taxpayers. Meanwhile, many other expensive computers sat on a shelf and gathered dust.
Two big questions come out of this fiasco. First, according to the school leader Mary Malone, these things were supposed to all be handed out to students the first week of school. Why weren't they? Second, how are teachers supposed to be actually use these computers this year in class with kids if many kids don't have them? It seems like it would be tough to do a class project requiring computers if a bunch of kids in the room don't even have them.
This totally mismanaged and ill-conceived computer give away is just another example of public servants committing waste fraud and abuse on the tax payers dime. It's bad enough that the Ayer Shirley school board saddled the taxpayers with a huge bill for a new totally unneeded high school that's done nothing to improve MCAS scores. Now they gave Malone the green light to spend more taxpayer more money like a drunken sailor by buying hundreds of computers that don?t get used or even handed out to kids.
Democracy is not a spectator sport: Vote
Legal voting should be simple and easy. Among the ways to ensure that it would be is to pass a law enabling Automatic Voter Registration in Massachusetts. At present, there are bills proposed in both the MA State Senate (S.373) and House (H. 2091) to bring this about.
Currently, if someone goes to the Registry of Motor Vehicles or Mass Health, he/she initiates the process of registering to vote by checking a box on a form. With AVR, the government agency initiates the process by informing the person that he/she will be automatically registered unless he/she chooses not to be. Only the RMV and Mass Health offices will be able to register voters automatically. Other government agencies will not. And Massachusetts will become a member of the Electronic Registration Information Center, a national clearinghouse that assures the accuracy and security of voting lists.
According to U.S. Census data, approximately 15 percent of eligible MA voters -- some 680,000 people -- are currently unregistered. AVR, which has already passed in 10 states, both red and blue (Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia, Rhode Island, and Illinois), and is being considered in 32 others, offers enhanced opportunity for these people to register. Concerns that it might enroll non-citizens, infringe on privacy, or increase fraud have in practice proved unwarranted.
Democracy is not a spectator sport. Participation is necessary for it to be valid and effective. AVR has been remarkably successful in the states in which it exists in increasing such participation.
If you support AVR, contact your state senator and representative by phone, email, or office visit to ask him/her to help get these bills out of the Joint Committee on Election Laws, where hearings have already been held, and onto the floor for a vote, and then to vote for it.