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The Nashoba Park assisted-living facility at the site of the old Ayer hospital has dedicated one of its community rooms to the elder Dr. Lawrence Churchville.

We applaud Nashoba Park for recognizing this outstanding man.

Dr. Churchville began his career back when doctors made house calls and payment could come in cash or in eggs. The small coral-colored building across from Memorial Hall in Townsend where he saw patients long ago, still stands, vacant in quiet tribute to a man who made a difference in thousands of lives.

Townsend native and author Richard Smith captured the kind nature of Dr. Churchville in “Divinity and Dust, A History of Townsend, Massachusetts,” when he wrote, “Dr. Churchville could often be glimpsed taking an elderly patient with him on his house calls if he thought the old man or woman might enjoy a ride in the fresh air, or carting along a child or two to play outside while he tended to business in the house.”

Dr. Churchville and his elegant wife, Jane, will forever be a part of the fabric of this area, and of Townsend, in particular.


We have mixed feelings about House passage of a bill related to Junior Operators in the commonwealth of Massachusetts that fails to raise the driving age.

According to information provided by state Rep. Robert Hargraves, highlights of the bill include:

* An increase to 12 hours behind the wheel during the time a child takes drivers ed;

* An increase to 40 hours that a permitted child must drive with a parent or 30 hours if a child takes a RMV-approved defensive driving course;

* Parental participation in 2 hours of the required 30 hours of classroom training a child must get during driver ed;

* An increase in penalties for those who violate the passenger and time restriction while driving with a JOL or drivers permit to 60 day license suspension for a first time violation, 180 for a second offense and a 1-year suspension for a third or subsequent violation, with both violations now a primary offense (which means that police can now pull you over for the offenses);

* An increase in penalties for those who violate the speeding laws. In addition to existing fines there will be a 90 day loss of license for a first offense and a one year loss of license for a second and subsequent offense which will also carry a $500 fee for reinstatement of ones license.

We agree with Hargraves that a strong message needs to be delivered to teenage drivers and their parents that “speed is the number one factor in crashes and if you break the law regarding speeding there will be consequences.”

While the bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration, we wonder if these measures are enough to discourage reckless driving among young people.

Stricter penalties for violating the Junior Operators law are good. Let us hope that young people who drive badly and those they come upon on our roadways survive the first infraction in order to face the stricter penalties.


Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that the creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.

Last Thursday night, as we awarded our sixth annual Extraordinary Service Awards to local involved in public safety, we saw the leaders from whom future leaders are springing.

Chiefs from Ayer, Devens, Groton, Harvard, Pepperell and Shirley spoke nothing of themselves but sang the praises of those who work for them, who work with them.

Such is the measure of good leaders — generous and self-assured people who surround themselves with the best skills they can find.

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