PEPPERELL -- Nomination papers continue to come in through the town clerk's office for the April election.
Gretchen Needham has turned in papers to rerun for a position with the Library Board of Trustees. Needham moved to Pepperell in 2003 with her husband and two children. She has been an active member since she was appointed to an open position on the board last year, but she has been attending the meetings since prior to that appointment.
"I had been going to the library quite a bit with my children. I thought it was one of the best looking buildings in town from a historical point of view and a community fabric point of view. I was wondering if I could do something with the library, and when I was looking on the website, I saw the Board of Trustees meetings were open to the public," she said.
Needham recognized a familiar face in her neighbor, Chairman Pen Burnham; all of the trustees welcomed her openly to the meetings. After one of the trustees had vacated her position, Needham said she felt fortunate to be able to join the board and help out the library. The position is Needham's first time serving on a board or committee in town; the experience has opened her eyes to all of the work it takes to keep the building going.
"I completely took it for granted beforehand. I now realize people just work tirelessly to keep the library afloat, to get funding and to keep everything as top-notch as it is. It doesn't just happen automatically. It happens with an enormous effort and a lot of thoughtfulness," she said.
Needham said her experience as a freelance editor has helped develop the useful skills of being detail-oriented and meticulous that she translates to her work on the board. Her top priorities are to keep programming strong and keeping the building running.
"It needs things repaired and replaced. At every meeting, we're discussing something getting repaired and how to pay for it," said Needham.
"The trustees are very dedicated to the building being a historical part of town and remaining true to the original architecture, but of course being comfortable and being modern while still trying to maintain its original look," she said.
Gregory Rice has returned papers for a position on the Board of Public works, on which he has already served for five years. Rice has lived in town for 20 years with his wife. His two children are now adults and have moved out on their own.
A population ecologist by training, Rice started his work on municipal boards and committees at the Parks and Recreation Commission. He has also served on GIF Committee, the Land Use Committee and the Affordable Housing Committee.
"The BPW is really an interesting board. It's got a lot of responsibility. There are a lot of interesting problems the town is facing that strike me as solvable problems," said Rice. "There are some problems that some departments are facing that I find very daunting and less technically interesting. I think we have made some real progress."
Some such tasks have been some major changes at the transfer station in terms of personnel.
"We've had some really good people come in with good ideas that we're able to actually implement," said Rice.
For instance, said Rice, in both water and sewer, the department has made some big leaps in the last several years towards making the financial structure more transparent. They're also implementing new software for the billing structure.
"It can be mysterious to most folks," said Rice. "You look at that big stack of numbers and it isn't always obvious what's happening."
They're also waiting on an Environmental Protection Agency permit for the sewer treatment plant pertaining to the levels of phosphorous that the plant must meet.
Rice said he brings his full attention and participation and an understanding of the finances to the board. Some of his top priorities are maintaining financial responsibility and clarity.
"I think we've been making correct decisions but I think they need to be more obviously correct to everybody," said Rice. "It's an ongoing process."