New Feature – the Blogroll

Another Night at the Keyboard

I have been getting more frequent requests from other groups in Town to help spread their message.  I want to build a community through this site, but I also do not wish to dilute our focus which is Flanngan Pond, in an effort to be “all things to all people.”

So I have come up with a solution that helps publicize other Ayer sites that you might be interested in.  To start, I have the Ayer Recycle Committee’s Blog entitled Recycle Your Reusables; The Town of Ayer home page; and Jeremy Callahan’s new and provocative YouTube channel.  I encourage you to check them out.

If you aren’t familiar with a “Blogroll” it is simply a list of links that the owner of a blog either considers favorites, or figures will be of interest to his readers. The FOFP Blogroll is on the right hand side of the page.  It is “below the fold”, so you may have to scroll down a little bit.

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More Sausage Links

Stick a fork in it - it's done!

Here are “links” to two more of Jeremy Callahan’s YouTube Videos. Yes, you get it, click on the Sausage Link photos to Link to the video.

The first one is a Quickie that is only 90 seconds long. It is from the September 8, 2011 Planning Board Meeting. September 8th Sausage Factory back-story as described on YouTube:

“In this episode, we learn that Cindy Knox has done a great job with the new and improved Town website. The Board agrees that meeting minutes and agenda should be published to the website in order to keep the public informed. Traditionally, meeting minutes have been made available monthly to the Town Clerk’s office once they are approved by the Board. The Planning Board office manager obtains signatures from the Assistant Town Clerk to prove that she delivered the monthly minutes.

As of September 21, 2011, official meeting minutes for 2011 were posted on the Town website! You can also view meeting minutes for 2008 on the Town website! Some of the minutes for meetings which took place in 2009 — 2010 are available at the Town Clerk’s office. If you are looking for minutes for meetings which took place in 2010 during the months of August, September, October, November or December you are out of luck. As of September 27, 2011, these minutes are not yet available on the Town website. As of September 27, 2011, they are not yet available at the Town Clerk’s office either. Fortunately, Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 66, Section 10, allows anyone to view Massachusetts public records. All you need to do is write a letter and pay for the copies! You don’t even need to be a Planning Board member!!”

Stick a fork in it - it's done!

Click the Link to the left for Video 2. This one is about 14 minutes, but it is insightful. This one is from July 7, 2011 Planning Board Meeting.  This one is worth watching.

July 7, Sausage Factory back-story as described on YouTube: “July 7, 2011 – In this episode, a newly elected member has started analyzing the proposed bylaw and asks some questions. The Board appears surprised that the proposed bylaw includes changes in minimum lot frontage requirements and density. The Chair suggests that perhaps the consultant has made a typographical error. Other board members are reassuring and suggest that changes to the bylaw are minor. The office manager will contact the consultant and get answers to the questions.

The official meeting minutes for this discussion state the following: “New Board members reviewed the new By-law revisions — Susan Sullivan will forward side-by side doc to new members tomorrow and wait for comments to forward to consultant. Map changes will have to be made as well through MRPC and Consultant.” The official minutes for the June 23, 2010 meeting, which was a working session where the consultant discussed changes to the bylaw, state the following: “Density provisions have been updated as well as tables.”

On August 1, 2011, the consultant responds: “I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that all of the changes are minor. ” During the August 4, 2011, Planning Board meeting, the Board agrees to move forward with the bylaw as-is, including density changes. Only one member dissented. As of September 27, 2011, official meeting minutes for the August 4, 2011 meeting are not available to the public. The August 4, 2011, meeting was not recorded by APAC. As of September 27, 2011, no map updates have been presented to the Board.”

Start with the basic recipe on the right, add your own seasonings and cook 'em up.

If all this talk of sausage is making you hungry, make some of your own:

4 lb Ground Pork
1 tsp Black Pepper
3 tsp Sea Salt
4 tsp Ground Sage
1 tsp Ginger
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Thyme

Mix all of the seasonings together. Add the spice mixture to the ground pork and mix well. After everything is well mixed, form the meat into sausage patties and pan fry, or stuff into sheep casings for sausage links. After you try this recipe, enhance the next batch with your own creative seasonings.


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The Ayer Sausage Factory

Add a cup of Verbs, a pinch of Punctuation, a dash of Preposition - You Got Laws!

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

This quote is often attributed to Otto von Bismarck.  My suspicion is that he must have passed through Ayer Town Hall at some point to have come up with such a concise phrase that is filled with such disgusting imagery. Having served in town politics and having butchered my own hogs and having made my own sausage, I find both rather repugnant, but both necessary.  And I do prefer the latter however, it is cleaner and doesn’t stink as much.

Many Friends of Flannagan Pond have gotten their first taste of politics (not sausage) during our various committee meetings at Town Hall, or even Annual Town Meeting. Well there is another meeting coming up that you must put on your calendar and plan attending; The Fall Town Meeting, October 24th at 7:00 PM.

At that meeting, there will likely be discussion of funding Article 38 that was passed at the Annual Town Meeting.  But believe it or not, that is not the subject of this post.  The subject of this post is a proposed rewrite to the Ayer Zoning Bylaws, which by their own admission, some Planning Board members have not even read, or if they have read them, do not understand.

A matrix outlining the changes, and comparing the current laws to the proposed laws is 146 pages in length.  Watch this filmclip.  Listen for phrases such as, “…even if we read it…”, “…I skimmed it…”, “…I didn’t try to digest the whole thing…”.

Jeremy Callahan has uploaded some Planning Board Meeting excerpts to YouTube.  After you have viewed this filmclip ask yourself if you have any confidence that a wholesale change of the zoning bylaws is warranted without a clear understanding of what is being proposed, why it is being proposed, by whom is it proposed and what the potential impact will be on every property owner and tax payer in Ayer.

There is a Public Hearing on this subject, scheduled for Thursday, October 6th at 7:00 P.M.


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Tree Duck spotted on Ayer Conservation Trail

Endangered Species spotted on Habitat Trail

On Sunday, I was walking near the upper beaver pond approaching Autumn Ridge. I was checking the progress the beavers and the recent rains have made in restoring both beaver ponds.  I was pleased to see both dams are being restored and the plentiful rain we have had over the past couple weeks has begun to refill the vast acres of ponds.

I walked for two hours and never saw another person, but I was greeted by hundreds of frogs, chipmunks, squirrels and birds.  I was able to capture the beauty of my nature walk with my trusty iPhone camera.

As I was walking along the Habitat Trail, where it intersects with the Autumn Ridge Trail, I turned to get a picture of the path behind me.  As I did, I observed something in a small pine tree.  It looked recognizable, but I walked back for a closer look.  Now I do not profess to be an avid birder, but I know a rare bird when I see one.  There, right before me was the endangered Acrylic Tree Mallard (anas plasticus).

I approached it cautiously hoping to capture it on film before it took flight.  Strangely, this creature had already begun it’s winter camouflage, shedding it’s colorful summer plumage and donning it’s winter whites.  Quite remarkable indeed.  I encourage you get out this fall and enjoy the trails.

BTW, I also spotted two very large bucks on Porcupine Hill. They were truly magnificent. That was really the high point of my walk, but the deer moved a lot faster than the duck did, so I didn’t get photos of them. If I did, this would have been a different story.


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September 11, 2001 – where were you?

As our nation takes time to reflect on the past decade and how life has changed since September 11, 2001, I thought I would share where I was when I heard the terrible news and how it affected me and my family in the days to follow.

On September 11, I awoke to a chilly morning in the mountain city of Puebla, Mexico.  I had been there for several days.

I was there with a mission group of about 20 men, building a church in a poor neighborhood of the city.  Protestant churches are a rare sight in this nation that is dominated by Roman Catholicism. The people of Puebla were gracious hosts and they were most appreciative that we gave our time and toil to their little church.  It was a joy to be there.

Several of us had gotten very sick by then and we were told to stay at the hotel and rest. Shortly after I had fallen back to sleep there was a loud and relentless pounding on my door. My friend Kevin barged in as I opened the door and he ran to the television and turned in on. He was ranting about a plane hitting the Trade Tower in New York.   Just as we turned back to the screen, the second plane hit the other tower.  We were aghast.

We were thousands of miles from home and family, and in this grief and uncertainty we were also cut off from our fellow travelers, as they were a half-hour across the city working on the church. We sat there isolated from all we knew and we prayed for our nation and we prayed for our wives and kids who were so far away and out of communication as phone lines were jammed up.

Kids in the Puebla churchLater the gang returned from the mission and got cleaned up.  They told us that they didn’t get much work done.  When the news spread, all the locals rushed to the church to pray for and pray with the American Missionaries who had come to minister to them.

After everyone was refreshed we all went back to the church for a wonderful worship service. We all sang hymns in Spanish and the Mexican neighbors fed us and comforted us.

All planes were grounded, so our departure was delayed several days.  We flew from Mexico City to Dallas and we were the only people at the airport, we were one of the first flights to land there after the skies were open to travel.  When we arrived at Logan in the late night, the terminal was empty except for the passengers disembarking from our plane.  The airport was swarming with State Police wearing fatigues, armed with AR-15 rifles.  There were no cabs outside.  No buses either.  We stood there in the night with no traffic, no hustle, no bustle, as we waited for our limo to take us back home.

Though it was wonderful to get home and be reunited with Sue, I returned to a different country than the one I had left. That country I left is but a memory.

Where were you?


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Excellent Turn-out at the CPC Meeting

July Fourth Weekend several years ago

At the Community Preservation Committee’s Public Hearing this evening, the Town Hall meeting room was filled and that is a very good thing. The discussion was insightful and at times lively, yet civil and well-behaved, that is a very good thing.  Yet no vote was taken, that is not a very good thing.

Due to a faux pas, though there was a properly posted public hearing, there was not a properly posted CPC meeting, so no action could be taken.  The Public Hearing will continue on October 5th, so mark your calendar.  Since it is approaching midnight I am turning in for the night.  I will follow-up with another post about the discussion.  Since there were so many of you at the meeting, I expect to see some feedback.  Good show tonight, thanks to all for doing your part.


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Community Preservation Committee (CPC) – Public Hearing – Ayer Pond Weed Control Project

Hawk by Harold MacAlear

a Hawk and his prey by Harold MacAleer

The Ayer Community Preservation Committee will be holding a Public Hearing on Wednesday evening, September 7th, at 7:15 PM at the Ayer Town Hall. Selectman Gary Luca, a member of the CPC has submitted a proposal to the CPC for long-term funding of pond management. His proposal would also provide funding for Article 38, the Friends of Flannagan Pond article that passed at Town Meeting.

The Public Notice, as published in the newspaper states: “The purpose of this meeting will be to present the application for the Town of Ayer for CPA funds to commission a long-term pond weed control management study and to fund Article 38, for weed treatment of Flannagan Pond, as passed at Spring Town Meeting 2011.  All residents, members of the general public, and any person(s) desiring to listen to the discusions or be heard on the matter of Community Preservation may appear at the time and place indicated.”

I encourage neighbors to take the time to attend and to show support for this proposal.  I also suggest that you take time to read about the Community Preservation Act of 2000 at the CPA website.  At that site you will be encouraged that recreation projects and conservation projects are prominent.  I do believe that the reclamation of Flannagan Pond certainly warrants consideration as both recreation and open space.

I hope to see you at Town Hall wednesday evening.


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