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Conservation walk

PEPPERELL — Take a walk through conservation land along the Nashua River off River Road on Saturday, May 20, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. with Pepperell Conservation Commissioners Patricia Swain Rice and Rob Rand. The event is free and open to the public. Participants are encouraged to wear long pants and closed-toe shoes, since some of the walk will be off-trail. The walk route is generally flat ground covering approximately two miles, including excellent views of the river. All ages are welcome but children must be supervised.

The walk will begin at the Kemp Conservation Area at 120 River Road in Pepperell. Look for the unpaved driveway on the east side of River Road, with a sign for “Nashoba Stables.” Follow the driveway straight back toward the river, with parking available at the end of the driveway. For questions call the Conservation Commission at (978) 433-0325.

Family Barn Dance

GROTON — The Groton Grange will present a Family Barn Dance on Saturday, May 20, from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the historic Groton Grange Hall, 80 Champney Street. The night will feature dancing and music by Groton’s own Contra Banditos, along with square, circle and contra dances taught by caller Tom Chiappisi. Beginners are welcome. A donation of $5 for adults, $3 for children and seniors, and a family maximum of $15, are requested. Refreshments will be provided. A raffle will be held to benefit the Heifer Project’s Overlook Farm barn reconstruction effort.

The dance is sponsored in part by a grant from the Groton Trust Funds Lecture Fund. For more information contact Ashling at (978) 448-3990 or e-mail contrabanditos@verizon.net.

Fourth of July parade

The parade will be filmed for rebroadcast by APAC, Ayer’s local cable channel. Parade sign-up forms are available at the selectmen’s office or by calling (978) 772-5890.

Freshly Ground

FITCHBURG — The Fitchburg Art Museum presents “Freshly Ground Art Caf : Hot Heads, Traitors, and Slackers,” on Friday, May 12, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The free event takes an irreverent look at some of the artists and subjects represented in the Museum’s collections and will be followed by a cash bar serving wine and non-alcoholic beverages. Adults only are admitted. The museum is located on Merriam Parkway in Fitchburg.

African safari ride

GROTON — On Memorial Day weekend, spend time with your horse on beautiful Groton trails, enjoy an exotic dinner, and at the same time help to build a school in Mali, West Africa — one of the poorest countries in the world.

The “Build a School in Africa Project” is teaming up with the Littleton Horseowners Association for a two-day trail ride at Willowbrook Farm in Groton over Memorial Day weekend, May 27 and 28. Saturday’s ride will be approximately 18-20 miles and Sunday’s ride about 15 miles, with shorter (10-12 mile) options available both days.

The ride is affiliated with New England Horse and Trail, and will provide well-marked trails, good food and good company — all for a good cause. Half of the ride proceeds will be donated to Build a School in Africa, which last year built a three-room middle school in the remote village of Dialakoroba, in collaboration with Save the Children. The project’s goal this year is to raise enough to build another school elsewhere in the district.

Riders may register for one or both days, and may camp overnight on the grounds beginning Friday night. Riders are strongly encouraged to register in advance by phone or e-mail by contacting Judy Lorimer at jmlorimer@juno.com or (978) 433-2384.

Spay/Neuter

GARDNER — A discount spay/neuter clinic for cats is scheduled for June 6 in Gardner. Cats may be dropped off between noon and 3 p.m. that day, with pickup the following morning between 8 and 9 a.m. The cost is $55 for spaying; $40 for neutering; $10 for rabies vaccination; and $15 for distemper vaccination. Advance sign-up is required by calling (978) 779-8287.

Democrats meet

SHIRLEY — The Middlesex & Worcester Senate District Democratic Coalition, and the Shirley & Ayer Democratic Town Committees, will be hosting John Bonifaz, candidate for Secretary of State, and Dr. Sam Kelly, candidate for Lt. Governor, on Thursday May 25, at 7 p.m. at the Municipal Building, 1 Keady Way in Shirley. All interested voters are invited. Light refreshments will be served.

John Bonifaz, candidate for Secretary of State, founded the National Voting Rights Institute (NVRI) in 1994 and now serves as its general counsel. John led the effort to defend the 1998 Massachusetts Clean Elections Law against the Massachusetts Legislature’s refusal to fund the law.

Sam Kelly, candidate for Lt. Governor, began his studies at the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine in 1982, then was accepted to Tufts University for his internship and later was admitted to Harvard Medical School affiliated hospitals for his residency and fellowship in child psychiatry. Among his other achievements, Dr. Kelley has served as medical director for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC).

For any questions about the event, contact John Oelfke at (978) 448-3646 or Kathleen O’Connor at (978) 621-3825.

Chocolate festival

Habitat fair

TOWNSEND — Habitat for Humanity’s Townsend Local Project will celebrate with the community at its inaugural Family Fundraiser Fair and Auction, to be held Saturday, June 17, on the Townsend Common. There will be barbecue foods, baked goods, children’s games, crafters, raffles, with an auction as the main event.

Habitat Townsend Project is looking for auction items to be donated. Examples include furniture, sporting event tickets, vacations and time-share rentals. Please no appliances, exercise equipment, electrical or building supplies. For donations or inquiries please contact Jane Morgan at jmorgan@mail.com or call 978-597-8992.

Crafter space available at $20 per space. Contact Jane Morgan at jmorgan@mail.com or call (9780 597-8992.

Grange centennial

SHIRLEY — Discover what the Grange is all about at the Shirley Historical Society Museum on Friday, May 12, at 7 p.m., at the opening reception for their new display on the “100-Year History of the Shirley Grange.”

Grange Secretary Ellen Longley Hitchings will tell how the Shirley Grange got its start and how it evolved. She will explain the significance of the Grange sashes and pins on display and will display pictures of Grange fairs, ceremonies and special events.

The display will remain at the museum through the end of June and can be seen on Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., but Friday, May 12, is the only time Ellen Hitchings will be on hand to share her knowledge and answer questions. The museum is located on Center Road in Shirley.

Forest walk

GROTON — Groton Place has been an important part of town for decades. On May 20, learn some of this history of this parcel, off Route 225 near the Nashua River, from someone who knew the owners.

Marion Stoddart knew the Dumaines, who once owned the property. Join Mrs. Stoddart on a stroll through the land to learn the history of this property, and the local importance of the Groton Hunt, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on May 20. From Groton center follow Route 225 toward Shirley, turning left into Groton Place about one-half mile from the turn where Route 225 leaves Route 111, but before the Nashua River.

The land once belonged to Frederick Christopher Dumaine, and his estate included the white mansion at Farmers Row and Long Hill Road, and a large tract running all the way to the Nashua River. When Mr. Dumaine died, his children donated 54 acres for use as a wildlife sanctuary, and the land was subsequently deeded to the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF) in 1975.

For more information on Community Forest Discovery Days, contact the New England Forestry Foundation at (978) 952-6856 or visit NEFF online at www.newenglandforestry.org.

Need your movies

TOWNSEND — “The 275th Anniversary Committee is looking for a video or movie film of the 250th Anniversary Parade in Townsend in 1982. If you have one that you are willing to share please call Ed West at (978) 597-2456 or Tubby Boucher at (978) 597-8876.

F.W. Parker Road Race

DEVENS — The 11th annual Parker Road Race and Springfest will be held Sunday, May 21, at the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School, 49 Antietam St., Devens, Mass.

The two-mile walk and run will kick off at 10 a.m. and the five-mile run will follow at 11 a.m. on newly sanctioned and certified USATF (USA Track & Field) race courses.

Cash prizes of $100, $75 and $50 will be awarded to the top three overall male and female runners. Trophies will be awarded to the three fastest male and female runners in each of seven age divisions, from under 14 to over 60.

The Springfest features family activities with Parker’s student bands providing an assortment of jazz, rock and contemporary music, while grills serve up barbecue fare. There will also be raffles for a number of prizes, including a kayak, donated by local businesses.

Walk and run registrations are accepted online at www.signmeup.com/53240. For more information or registration forms that can be downloaded and mailed, visit www.parker.org and follow the link to the Parker Road Race 2006.

Entry fee is $20 for adults and $15 for those under age 14. Bibs and racer packets may be picked up at the F.W. Parker School on Saturday, May 20, from noon to 3 p.m. or on race day from 9 a.m. until 15 minutes before the start of each race.

The twin events are hosted by the Parker Essential Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the educational experience of students and providing essential curriculum support for the staff at one of Massachusetts’ first charter school. The Parker Charter School is 11 years old this year, and this is the 11th running of the Parker Road — the only fundraising event that reaches out to the surrounding communities.

Harvard COA Luau

HARVARD — At noon on Friday, June 2, the Harvard Council on Aging invites seniors to be their guests at a Luau luncheon. The lunch will be catered by Minuteman Senior Services and served buffet style. With some decorative efforts and a little imagination, the Hildreth House will be turned into a tropical paradise for an afternoon. Hawaiian dress is urged but optional. Reservations are suggested and may be made by calling (978) 456-4120.

Care options for seniors

HARVARD — Navigating through the variety of today’s care options for a loved one can be overwhelming. In an effort to provide outreach and education to seniors and their families, The Inn at Robins Brook has designed a presentation to provide an overview of senior options, followed by a question and answer period. Care options include home care services, adult day health programs, assisted living communities, and skilled nursing facilities. The panel of professionals will consist of Joanne Shaughnessy from The Inn at Robins Brook Assisted Living; Stephanie Burton from Life Care Center of Acton; Arlene Parillo or Pat Oliphant of Cooperative Elder Services; and Donna Plummer from Home Instead Homecare.

This informative presentation will take place on Tuesday, May 16, at 1 p.m. at the Hildreth House. Please call (978) 456-4120 to sign up.

Attorney presentation

HARVARD — On Tuesday, May 23, at 1 p.m. at the Hildreth House, elder law attorney Kathleen Summers will give a presentation on current legal issues affecting seniors. Topics to be covered include estate planning, tax abatements recent changes in Medicaid legislation. Please call the Harvard Council on Aging to sign up.

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