Art Campbell

Art started The Groton Line late in 2009 as a synthesis of two careers in newspaper journalism and technical communications -- writing about networks, computers, and software. He's lived in Groton 20+ years, so he qualifies as "one of the new guys."

Nov 142014

Veteran’s Day kicked off a day early at Groton-Dunstable High School this week, when two distinguished guest speakers spoke at an all school assembly, a ceremony “We started few years ago to pay homage to veterans,” according to principal Michael Mastrullo. Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee Vice Chair Lieutenant Colonel John Giger, U.S. Army retired, and Lieutenant Colonel Tamara Schwartz, U.S. Air Force retired, talked to the to the entire student body about their service and their feelings on the importance of military service in today’s world.

Lieutenant Colonel Tamara SchwartzJonathan O'Connor

Lieutenant Colonel Tamara Schwartz

Lieutenant Colonel Tamara Schwartz is a retired Air Force veteran, an entrepreneur, and recognized innovator with more than 20 years of National Security experience. Schwartz was the Chief Technology Officer for Air Force Enterprise Networking, where her leadership shaped the design of big data capabilities for command centers supporting joint space, cyber, and global strategic operations as well as the National Military Command Center.

Her work with special operations community in Afghanistan earned her the 2011 Information Operations Officer of the Year and an Honorable Mention for the 2011 Massachusetts Veteran of the Year. She was stationed all over the world, including Europe and the Middle East, with special duty assignments at the Pentagon and the United States Embassy in Amman, Jordan. She was an international arms dealer, trained foreign militaries, and worked with both NATO and the Partnership for Peace.

Because Schwartz is comfortable with ambiguity and the complexity of today’s big data and predictive analytics challenges, she has advised generals and political appointees in the Department of Defense on a number of complex, international issues, and she has become known for her game-changing, collaborative strategies to drive technological, cultural and process innovation. She holds a BS in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, an MS in Engineering Management from the University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College.

Lieutenant Colonel John GigerJonathan O'Connor

Lieutenant Colonel John Giger

Lieutenant Colonel John Giger, retired, is vice chair of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee and a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a retired high-tech business executive and a retired Army officer. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant concurrent with his graduation from the University of Toledo in 1968 and shortly thereafter served a combat tour as an armored cavalry platoon leader and cavalry squadron staff officer in Vietnam. Lieutenant Colonel Giger was an Army Ranger, a master parachutist, a Pathfinder, and is the holder of three Bronze Star medals.

He retired from the Army in 2004 after 36 years of active duty and reserve component service. In addition to his service in Vietnam, his duty assignments include two tours with the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and a tour at the Pentagon in Washington, DC. Lieutenant Colonel Giger is a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Clark University.

Nov 112014

Groton artists make up about a third of the creative talent at the core Gallery 529, a large artist’s cooperative that opened in Littleton Common this weekend. Founded by Groton business woman, potter, and glass craftswoman Virginia Wood, the coop includes Wood’s creations; those of Groton’s Margaret Burdine, Jessica Engels, Sue Marion, Ed and Judi Stein, and Gail Sun; and about 20 other regional artists and craftspeople.

More than 150 people attended the grand opening this weekend, filling the old rambling farmhouse in Littleton Common at 529 King Street, the site of the old Ken’s American Cafe.

“We’re taking the cafe and art concept to a whole new level,” Wood said. “We have a wealth of talented artists and it’s incredible to be able to bring all of them together.”

The artists rent exhibit space in the building, and receive the full proceeds of each sale. The artists all volunteer for shifts working at the gallery too, Wood said. Members work in many different types of media: fine jewelry, pottery, fabric, water colors, oils, sculpture and other media. Act III, a cafe operated by the operators of the old Acton Jazz Cafe will open soon, Wood said.

The Steins, though they both began to paint at the same time, looking for a something to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon, come to it with entirely different reason. Ed said, “I enjoy experiencing the interplay of colors as it unfolds on the canvas, and the great surprises that are revealed.” For Judi, on the other hand, “Painting has been a wonderful way for me to express my appreciation of and connection with nature from a place deep inside.”

Sue Marion, also from Groton, represents the other end of the spectrum as a professional artist who has studied in both Paris and Rome. She is best known for her wall murals that adorn many residential and commercial walls across New England.

Margaret Burdine and Jessica Engels share a space at the Gallery. Engels makes hand-woven beaded bracelets and Burdine makes cowls.

Gail Sun has been a lead volunteer since the co-op began to come together this summer. She has worked tirelessly to get the gardens and landscaping back into shape, Wood said. When not working at the gallery, Sun has her hands dirty in all kinds of other creative endeavors. At the gallery, she has hand-painted, upcycled clothing, button jewelry, and even mini-garden displays.

Wood, in addition to her role as executive director of the gallery, makes functional earthenware pottery, pillows, mirror frames inspired by Meissen, and most recently, ceramic mushroom replicas.

Classes for children and adults are planned, with a wide variety of offerings from painting classes to pine cone wreath making to beading.

The gallery is open every day but Monday. For more information on Gallery 529, visit the website at

Nov 112014

Peter Rowe Roberts

Peter Rowe Roberts

Peter Rowe Roberts passed away on November 5th, 2014 from complications stemming from a pulmonary illness.

He was 82 years old and is survived by his wife of 55 years, Margaret; his two sons, Mark and Matthew and their wives, Heather and Kelly, and five loving grandchildren: Madeleine, Emmett, Finn, Esme, and Matilda.

Born in Barton, England in 1932, Peter was the only child of Edward L and Vera H Roberts. He earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy at the University of Manchester. He worked for the British Nuclear Authority until 1959, when he married Margaret Gent and emigrated to the US via Canada. Peter was a well-respected engineer and is credited with 26 metallurgical and process patents. He spent the bulk of his career at Nuclear Metals in Concord, Massachusetts, but also spent several years working for American Superconductor in Westborough.

He was happy and very productive during his retirement, spending the past 17 years perfecting the construction of iceboats, building planes, reading and writing books, painting, and offering wry advice on a diversity of topics, all while enjoying the growth of his family. One of Peter’s favorite pastimes was playing alto saxophone in the Nashoba Valley Concert Band, which he did for many years, enjoying both the music and the company.

A celebration of his life is planned for February 1st at 2 p.m. at the Groton Country Club.

Nov 092014

The Groton Board of Selectmen took the first steps toward forming a Charter Review Committee during its meeting last Monday night, voting to notify the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee, the Finance Committee, and Town Moderator Jason Kauppi that each is expected to name members of the seven-person committee. Committee meetings, when they begin, are the first formal review of the town charter since it was approved by voters and by the state legislature in 2008.

After its formation over the next few weeks, subsequent meetings, and possibly hearings, any recommendations made by the committee would be considered at the Spring 2015 Town Meeting.

The Board of Selectmen did not pick any of the three Charter Review Committee members it is entitled to select, although Selectman Peter Cunningham, who helped draft the charter, and Selectman Jack Petropoulos both expressed interest in serving. Town Manager Mark Haddad told selectmen that he wanted to be on the committee. The remaining four positions on the committee are filled by the Finance Committee, which selects two people; the school committee, which selects one, and the town moderator, who chooses one person.

Because both the town manager’s and the selectmen’s positions and duties are set forth in the charter, it is possible that if either Haddad or sitting selectmen were appointed, they could face a potential conflict of interest if their job descriptions, duties, or responsibilities were discussed by the committee. Haddad is not a Groton resident.

Ready to Review The Town Charter?

You can read the Town of Groton Charter online or download it as a PDF.

Josh Degen, Chair of the Board of Selectmen, asked residents interested in serving as one of the BoS’s representatives on the Charter Review Committee to fill out and submit a Committee Interest Form (

He suggested that residents interested in serving as a representative of the Finance Committee (, school committee (, or moderator ( contact them directly.

Nov 052014

4,512 Groton voters turned out to vote in the November 4 election Art Campbell | The Groton Line

4,512 Groton voters turned out to vote in the November 4 election

Groton voters followed statewide trends in the November 4 gubernatorial and off-year elections, but skewed in a slightly more conservative direction by a few percentage points on most races and statewide questions.

Fifty-eight percent of Groton voters turned out, a higher-than-expected percentage totaling 4,512 people out of a possible 7,755.

Shelia Harrington, a Groton resident and the incumbent Republican State Representative in the First Middlesex district, received a thumbs up from 4512 or 63.3 percent of Groton voters, and 9,214 or 64.4 percent district wide. Democrat Gene Rauhala polled 1,367 people in Groton and 5,102 in the district.

Groton’s State Senator, Eileen Donoghue, a Democrat, was unopposed.

The governor’s race between Charlie Baker and Martha Coakley was a nail-biting single percentage point difference statewide — 48-47 percent, but Baker pulled ahead by a wider margin in Groton, with Baker polling 54 percent, 2,429 voter to Coakley’s 39 percent and 1,746 residents.

Question 1, the repeal of automatic gas tax indexing tied to the rate of inflation, was approved statewide 53-47 percent and in Groton 54-40 percent.

Question 2, which sought to expand the state’s bottle deposit program, was defeated 73-27 percent statewide and locally 70-30 percent.

Question 3, which would have reversed approval for casinos and other gambling businesses to operate in Massachusetts, failed statewide 60-40 percent and in Groton 55-41 percent.

Question 4, to require earned sick time, passed 60-40 percent statewide and in Groton 52-43 percent.

See or download the unofficial tally sheet for Groton.

Nov 042014

Voters kept poll workers busy but not frantic at the Groton Country Club this afternoonArt Campbell | The Groton Line

Voters kept poll workers busy but not frantic at the Groton Country Club this afternoon

Turnout in today’s gubernatorial and off-year election was steady and medium heavy, Town Clerk Michael Bouchard reported, in line with the Secretary of State’s prediction for a better-than-50% voter turnout. Voters are choosing between Republican Charlie Baker and Democrat Martha Coakley, the current Attorney General to replace two-term Democrat Deval Patrick. They also face several ballot questions on unlinking gasoline tax increases from the rate of inflation, broadening the scope of returnable beverage container deposits, allowing casino gambling, and guarantee paid sick leave to employees.

Precinct 1, voting at the Senior Center in West Groton, had a turnout near 500 voters at 11 a.m., Bouchard reported. Two hours later, at 1 p.m., Precinct 2 was showing 640 voters and Precinct 3 had 590, with a steady stream of people coming and going from the Groton Country Club polls.

Polls are open until 8 p.m.

Nov 042014

Crusdaer Matt Straw moving in on the Worcester North Polar Bears during the team's 2-0 tournament victory Briana Bozkurt

Crusdaer Matt Straw moving in on the Worcester North Polar Bears during the team’s 2-0 tournament victory

The first half of the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders boys’ soccer team’s MIAA Division 1 Central opening-round game against the twelfth-seed Worcester North Polar Bears was lopsided in every aspect but the score, which was 0-0 after 40 minutes.

So G-D head coach Sean Wisbey made an adjustment, bringing three players up front to increase the offensive pressure. It worked, as the Polar Bears’ defense broke down, allowing the Crusaders to come away with a 2-0 victory Monday afternoon at G-DRHS.

The Crusaders outshot the Polar Bears 27-4 and kept the ball in the offensive half for the vast majority of the game, except for a couple of chances in the first half and one in the second, all of which Crusader keeper Chris Buzan stopped, registering four saves along the way. The Polar Bear defense held up its end of the bargain as well — the Crusaders couldn’t capitalize on their offensive chances in the first half.

“[The Polar Bears] were playing five guys in the back, and they were really playing deep,” G-D head coach Sean Wisbey said. “We didn’t get enough pressure on them in the first 40 minutes to force any mistakes. They did a good job of just trying to stay in the game.”

Dean Tornaritis scored the only goal the Crusaders would need in the 63rd minute on their 22nd shot of the game. With lots of traffic in front of Polar Bears keeper Angelo Perrone, Matt Krikorian found Tornaritis on the right side, who headed it in to raucous cheers from the sizable Crusader crowd.

Four minutes later, Mitch Wheeler put the game out of reach off a feed from Gabe Dingle. Wheeler tapped a slow roller off the side of his foot, and Perrone overplayed the ball, allowing it to trickle in on the far side.

“Once we had the lead, I was able to put four in the back, and eventually five,” Wisbey said. “I didn’t think that we played our best soccer the first 50 minutes, but as we started to settle down and play more as a team, the opportunities started to come.”

The Crusaders had two golden chances to get on the scoreboard early in the second half. First, Krikorian fed a cross to a sliding Wheeler, but he put it wide of the near post. Later, Dingle fired a bullet from the edge of the box, but Perrone made the best of his 11 saves by leaping to tip it over the crossbar.

The Crusaders (13-4-2) got the short end of the draw in a three-way tie with Wachusett and Westborough for third place in the MIAA Division 1 Central standings, with each of them finishing with a winning percentage of .722. By virtue of coin flips, they got the fifth seed and had to play in the opening round while Wachusett and Westborough, the third and fourth seeds respectively, enjoyed a bye. Now they will travel to Westborough for their third match of the season against the Rangers Wednesday at 2 p.m. in the sectional quarterfinals. Both teams won on the other’s turf in the regular season. The Crusaders won 4-3 on September 18, while the Rangers rallied late to steal a 3-2 win and the Midland-Wachusett B Division championship in the regular season finale last Thursday.

“We’ve got a lot to play for, and a lot to prove to ourselves,” Wisbey said. “We’ll get ready tomorrow to go get that ticket to the semifinals.”

Nov 012014

Time falls back Nov. 2, and that's the time to check your alarm batteries, fire officials say.MA State Fire Marshal

Time falls back Nov. 2, and that’s the time to check your alarm batteries, fire officials say.

Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday. When you adjust the clock to fall back an hour, remember that signals the time of year to change your fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide alarm batteries.

“We change our clocks right after Halloween on November 2, so remember when you change your clocks, change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms,” State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said in a news release.

The release explained: “One of the best things we can do as we get our homes ready for winter, is to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries. A working smoke alarm is your first line of defense in a fire. Working smoke alarms give you precious time to use your home escape plan before poisonous gases and heat make escape impossible. Time is your enemy in a fire.

“When changing your alarm’s batteries check to see if your alarms need to be replaced. Smoke alarms last about ten years and older carbon monoxide alarms last five to seven,” Coan said.

If you happen to style yourself a “senior,” the Groton Fire Department has a senior smoke detector program to help out. Fire Chief Steele McCurdy wrote in an email, “We will inspect existing and/or install new detectors as needed for senior citizens free of cost. The program also includes the installation of carbon monoxide detectors. While most folks understand the dangers of fire and smoke, carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide can make it in to your home through blocked vents, a poor chimney, vehicles running in the garage or misuse of heating or power generating equipment. Without detectors carbon monoxide is virtually undetectable and can be deadly if left unchecked.’

“The program is paid for through several grants which allows the purchase of the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as well as the batteries for them. This program runs all year and can be accessed at the senior center or by contacting the Groton Fire Department at 978-448-6333,” McCurdy said.

Oct 302014

Last week, the Town of Groton rehired three of the four call firefighters it terminated this spring, immediately placed them on administrative leave, and summoned them to a “Strong Chief Law” employee termination hearing. The three-hour long hearing — without Fire Chief Steele McCurdy present — was conducted behind closed doors this Tuesday, October 28, in quiet Legion Hall, a good distance from possible interested bystanders at Town Hall or the Central Fire Station.

Former Groton Deputy Chief Clarence Jefferson and former call firefighters James Horan, Ben Miele, and Stephen Tervo filed suit in state court after they were terminated, alleging that town officials violated the state Strong Chief Law, state and Federal civil rights laws, wrongfully terminated them from their positions, interfered with contractual relationships (related to the firefighter’s job roles), and inflicted emotional distress upon and defamed the four firefighters. The seven count lawsuit named Groton Town Manager Mark Haddad, all five members of the Board of Selectmen, former Fire Chief Joe Bosselait, Fire Captain Susan Daly, and Fire Lieutenant Tony Hawgood (Daly and Hawgood are married) as defendants. The suit has moved to federal court at the request of attorneys for the town’s insurance company, which has taken the lead role in court.

The fourth firefighter, James Horan, was not rehired nor included in Tuesday’s hearing, possibly because he resigned from the Groton Fire Department this spring. At the time, he cited harassment related to his involvement with an attempt to unionize call firefighters as a primary reason to leave the force.

The rehiring and hearing process was apparently orchestrated by town counsel, the firm of Koppelman and Paige. Fire Chief McCurdy, who was not employed by Groton at the time of the terminations, referred all questions to town counsel, usually represented by attorney David Doneski. Members of the Board of Selectmen said the board had no role in the hearings, and Vice Chair of the BoS Anna Eliot could not comment because the matter involved pending litigation, she said. Chair of the BoS Josh Degen has recused himself from all actions by selectmen related to the firefighters and the lawsuit because he is called out by name as a defendant. Town Counsel Doneski did not return a phone call seeking comments.

Tuesday morning, as they waited for the hearing to begin, Jefferson, Tervo, and Miele joked that although they had received letters from the town saying they were employees that they have not been sworn in nor have they been appointed to their positions. The town invoked a never-before-used process this spring to terminate them, omitting their names from a list of fire department employees submitted to the Board of Selectmen for reappointment as employees. Under the state’s Strong Chief Law, terminations require a hearing or series of hearings, which did not take place before they were not reappointed. None has yet to receive back pay due them since July, they added.

The firefighter’s attorney, Rob Bowen, said that the hearings were unrelated to the lawsuit, which is continuing. He went on to state in a news release:

“These hearings do not change the basic allegations of the suit brought by four firefighters against the town of Groton. They were not public. Unlike Court, which will finally be a public forum, the firefighters are limited as to what they can say at this point substantively about these hearings.

“The town presented a single witness (Town Manager Mark Haddad — Ed.) who had no first hand knowledge of the events and allegations. Due to the procedures under which this hearing was held, the Town was not required and chose not to present any witnesses with first hand knowledge. If this were a Court of law, the Town would not have sustained its burden of proof. The firefighters testified, but they were not able to confront the witnesses against them as they will be able to in Court. Nor, in this forum, did they have the power to subpoena witnesses.

The Notice of the hearing did not fully explain the charges against them, as required by the Strong chief law. At the hearing, the firefighters learned, finally, what the allegations against them are. They categorically deny them. They denied them during the Town’s investigation. They denied them at these hearings, and they will deny and disprove them in Court.

Whatever procedural hurdles the Town may choose to throw at them next, they are confident that they will prevail. The truth is on their side. A decision regarding these hearings is expected in 21 days. In the meantime, the lawsuit continues, with a responsive pleading to the complaint from the Town due shortly.

The hearing officer, John Clifford, an attorney hired by the town and delegated to fulfill the role of the fire chief at the hearing, said that he would render an opinion within three weeks.

Oct 302014

Dear Editor;

As a longtime area resident, I often enjoyed taking my young sons to Pearl Hill, where they learned to swim, and Damon Pond in Willard Brook, where being old enough to jump off the stone abutment was a special achievement. With my grandchildren I have walked the Life Course behind Hawthorne Brook Middle School, and I hope to someday paddle with them down our beautiful Nashua River. My husband and I are frequent cyclists on the Nashua River Rail Trail. We are proud of the pretty part of the world we live in, and want to see it treasured and maintained for generations to come.

That’s why I am voting for Gene Rauhala for State Representative. I know he will be a strong, protective and proactive voice for this region and its many natural resources.

As the cool, calm moderator of many Townsend town meetings, as president of the Townsend Historical Society, and as an attorney with experience advocating for the more vulnerable among us, he has proved he is worthy of our trust and confidence.

Priscilla Kipp
Townsend MA