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 only lived in Groton 20+ years, so he qualifies as "one of the new guys" with a fresh perspective.

Aug 252015
 

Lorna VanderZanden led searches that recovered Susan McLean's body in ScotlandDaily Record

Lorna VanderZanden led searches that recovered Susan McLean’s body in Scotland


The body of Susan McLean, a Groton native and longtime resident who went missing on May 17 while on vacation in Scotland, was found near a hiking trail on August 15 by volunteer search teams and formally identified several days later.

Scottish officials have not ruled on the cause of death, but police said they are not considering any “suspicious circumstances.”

In a story updated on August 19, The Daily Record reported that Lorna VanderZanden, a retired U.S. Army colonel and close friend of McLean’s led a team of volunteers that uncovered the remains very close to a trail searched by police.

McLean Family Statement

This statement was released this morning by Selectman Anna Eliot, Susan McLean’s sister. — Ed.
The family of Susan McLean would like to express profound gratitude to the people of Scotland who dedicated precious time and energy to her recovery. While vacationing with her immediate family in Aberfeldy during May 2015, Susan went missing.

After an exhaustive search by Police Scotland found nothing, long time friend Lorna VanderZanden organized a system of searches which concluded on the 15th of August; when a local resident discovered her. Many tenacious and kind persons prevailed in this effort. Susan passed away peacefully in a beautiful area of Scotland.

Susan Creighton Gould was born and grew up in Groton, Massachusetts. An avid equestrienne, she shared this upbringing with her sisters Betsey Reeves and Anna Eliot. Married in Groton in 1973, Susan and her husband, Donald A. McLean Jr., raised two sons. During the early 1990s, while Donald was serving in the U.S. Army at Fort Devens, the McLeans made Groton their home; they now reside in Pennsylvania.

Susan will be remembered for all her courage, ebullience and generosity. The family is heartened by the compassion of the people of Perthshire, the men and women of Police Scotland, and the Perth and Kinross officials, all of whom were instrumental in ensuring her return home with dignity. A memorial service will be planned for a future date.


The story in the U.K. paper quotes VanderZanden as saying that “… Lorna is furious police were unable to find her in that time, despite using specialist teams including dog handlers and divers.

She said they had passed within feet of the body at one point as they searched the Loch Hoil trail — but chose not to enter the heavily wooded area.

Lorna, 61, said yesterday: ‘I am totally astonished I could come here and find Susan in four weeks with eight volunteers on two Saturdays when Police Scotland could not find her in three months.'”

McLean, her husband Donald, and their two sons instructor had been staying at the Moness Resort near the village of Aberfeldy on a two-week vacation. The rugged area is popular both with local outdoor enthusiasts and tourists.


Aug 232015
 

Ready to roll on September 2, the first day of schoolDee Bus

Ready to roll on Wednesday September 2, the first day of school


Groton-Dunstable Regional Schools will start the 2015-2016 school year on Wednesday, September 2 for students in grades 1-12. That puts the last day of school in middle to late June next year, according to the district’s calendar, without calculating in any snow days that may occur this coming winter.

Kindergarten begins with a bus introduction program September 2 also, but the first official day of school for kindergarten students is Thursday, September 3. Parents of kindergartners should receive a letter with details, according to a news release from the district offices.

The news release points out that some bus routes and the timing of the routes has changed, and may be in flux for the first few weeks of school.

The routes are available here and at www.gdrsd.org. The district is referring questions about bus routes and stops to Dee Bus Service, which can be reached at 978 448-3322.

Bus Routes 2015-2016


School Hours

 Full Day Hours½ Day Hours
Groton-Dunstable Regional High School7:27 a.m. – 1:50 p.m.7:27 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.
Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School8:08 a.m. – 2:25 p.m.8:08 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Florence Roche Elementary School9:10 a.m. – 3:15 p.m.9:10 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Swallow/Union Elementary School9:00 a.m. – 3:05 p.m.9:00 a.m. – 12:05 p.m.
Florence Roche ½ Day Kindergarten9:10 a.m. – 11:55 a.m.12:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Swallow Union ½ Day Kindergarten9:00 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.12:20 p.m. – 3:05 p.m.


Jul 172015
 

Riding to end Alzheimer's cyclists pedal into Groton over the Route 225 bridge in West Groton last yearArt Campbell | The Groton Line

Riding to end Alzheimer’s cyclists pedal into Groton over the the Route 225 bridge in West Groton last year

More than 425 cyclists will pass through Groton on Saturday July 18, during the 19th Annual Ride to End Alzheimer’s. The ride starts and finishes at Fort Devens. Riders loop into West Groton for a pit stop manned by volunteers and Groton Fire Department medical personnel at RiverCourt Residences before heading up Townsend Road into New Hampshire. The long-distance riders come back through Groton in the afternoon as they head back to Devens after completing a 100-mile route.

Groton’s Mark Shepherd will bike 62 miles and Beth Lindstrom plans on a 30 mile run. The Ride provides a 2-mile family ride, 30-mile, 62-miles and 100-mile route.

Lindstrom decided to join the Ride to honor her father, who is experiencing early dementia symptoms; a dear friend who passed away a year about from Alzheimer’s; and a friend’s mother who is diagnosed. With so many people around her affected by Alzheimer’s, she wanted to do something to feel empowered, she said.

“It makes it manageable to do something meaningful toward a cause that affects so many,” Lindstrom said. “My father is a proud man who built aircraft engines and is now having a heard time remembering that we called. It’s hard to watch.”

“The Ride is my way of supporting research to combat the disease,” Shepherd said. “The course is challenging and rambles through some great country side in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire.”

To date, Shepherd has raised more than $600 for this year’s Ride. Started by the Noonan family in New Hampsire, the event has raised more than $3,000,000 over the years.

”Mark and Beth and the hundreds of other riders have made a big commitment to help fight Alzheimer’s,” Jim Wessler, president and CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts/New Hampshire Chapter, said. “Their commitment inspires us and it also raises critical funds for research and support of those living with the disease. And it also showcases our beautiful countryside. Hundreds of riders will be taking to the road with a determination to make a difference in the fight against Alzheimer’s and for this one day, communities can also support the cause by cheering on the riders.” Wessler will also ride the longest route himself, as he has for more than a decade.

Registration for any of the rides is still open; late registrants should to arrive at Devens 45 minutes before the start of their ride. The public is invited to the Groton pit stop and the Devens Start/Finish line to cheer on — the whole ride is a family-friendly event, according to a news release from the Alzheimer’s Association. There is a free lunch for riders and volunteers, and guests may purchase lunch tickets for $5. Festivities include music, massages for riders, an exhibitor fair, and children’s activities.

The schedule for the day is:
6:15 a.m.: Century Ride rider orientation/safety meeting
6:30 a.m.: Century Ride start
8:15 a.m.: Metric Century Ride rider orientation/safety meeting
8:30 a.m.: Metric Century Ride start
9:45 a.m.: 30 Mile Introductory Ride rider orientation/safety meeting
10 a.m.: 30 Mile Introductory Ride start
11:15 a.m.: Family Ride orientation/safety meeting
11:30 a.m.: Family Ride start
12 p.m. — 4 p.m.: Post-Ride party. Post-ride showers will be available at the Museum Field.
The Ride to End Alzheimer's runs through Groton twice on Saturday — through West Groton on the way to New Hampshire, and through town center on the way back to Devens.Google Maps

The Ride to End Alzheimer’s runs through Groton twice on Saturday — through West Groton on the way to New Hampshire, and through town center on the way back to Devens.



For more information about the Ride to End Alzheimer’s visit www.rtrendalz.org.


Jul 082015
 

Groton’s traditionally independent Independence Day fireworks party went off with a bang on Monday evening, July 6, when between 3000 and 3500 people crowded into and surrounding Town Field to see a spectacular display coordinated by Don Black.


The photos in this gallery were contributed by readers of The Groton Line. If you have some photos from the fireworks to share, send them to editor@thegrotonline.com and we’ll add them to this community gallery. — Ed.


Jul 042015
 

The multi-million dollar controversy between the town and the Firefighter Four — Deputy Chief Clarence Jefferson and firefighters Benjamin Miele, Stephen Tervo, and James Horan, who were terminated from their call firefighter positions with the town in spring 2014 — is entering its second year and is apparently headed back to federal court after an attempt at mediation reportedly failed.

Horan resigned, alleging “constructive discharge” (when an employee resigns as a result of the employer creating a hostile work environment) after a union organizing attempt in early 2014; Jefferson, Miele, and Tervo were not reappointed to their positions by then-chief Joe Bosselait in June 2014. They filed a muti-million dollar lawsuit in state court in September, 2014, naming all five members of the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Mark Haddad, former fire chief Joe Bosselait, Fire Captain Susan Daly and Lieutenant Tony Hawgood (a married couple) as defendants. The suit was moved to federal court. Jefferson, Miele, and Tervo were rehired, suspended from duty, and summoned to a “Strong Chief” hearing that resulted in a recommendation late last year that they be returned to duty. Subsequently, federal mediation was proposed, and attempted this spring.

An inadvertent public release of minutes on June 21 from a Board of Selectmen’s executive session held June 1 yields some insight into the town’s position. The BoS formally released them the next day. Ten days later, on July 1, Rob Bowen, attorney for the four firefighters, distributed a “press release” that restated the firefighter’s position, with an implication that the case was headed back to federal court.

The Town’s Take on Mediation

This is the unedited text of the June 1 Executive Session minutes of the Board of Selectmen.

Mr. Haddad said that he, Ms. Eliot, Mr. Maser and Mr. Kesten had gone the previous Friday (May 27, 2015 — Ed.) to Worcester federal court to attend mediation with the Call Firefighters. He said that Judge Hennessey presided over the mediation which began at 10 a.m. He said that the Judge met with the Town first and the firefighters and their attorney second. He said that the mediation lasted 3½ hours and ended with no settlement. He said that the firefighters still wanted $1M a piece and the Town countered at $40K/$15K/$15K/$0. He said that they re-countered at $100K each to which the Town re-countered at $100K to be split among them. Mr. Haddad said that he, Mr. Maser and Mr. Kesten talked and thought they should provide the firefighters an order to return to work. Ms. Eliot said that a lot of discussion with the mediator and the Town centered on the strong chief. She said that the judge was also looking for minutes relative to the non-reappointment.

Mr. Maser said that he had nothing else to add other than he thought the mediation ended abruptly when the mediator realized he wasn’t going to be able to see the parties come to an agreement adding that no words were exchanged when either party left the room. Mr. Maser said that the original order to return to work issued to the firefighters was placed on hold pending mediation. He said that because they were unable to come to an agreement through mediation the return to work order was back on the table. Mr. Haddad said that based on what the mediator was presented with he did what he needed to do adding that he told the Town it took him a long time to get the firefighters down to $100K. Mr. Cunningham asked if there had been subsequent conversations between Counsel and Mr. Bowen. Mr. Haddad said that Mr. Bowen had not returned a call to Mr. Kesten yet.

Mr. Maser said that the next steps involved the mediator submitting his report to the presiding judge followed by a scheduling conference which has not been set up yet. Mr. Petropoulos asked if this meant they were going to trial. Mr. Maser said it did as of right now. Mr. Haddad said that any discussions with the mediator could not be used in trial as a point of information to the Board. Mr. Haddad said that the suit remained at $1M each because mediation was unsuccessful. Mr. Petropoulos asked about the cost moving forward. Mr. Maser said that the notice for depositions would come adding he thought there would be 10-15 depositions right off the bat. He said that there would be a request for documents from both sides and discovery could take more than a year. Mr. Haddad said that (according to the judge, this could cost somewhere between $15K and 20K. Mr. Maser said that after all that was completed then you had dispositive motions, assignment of a trial date and multiple pretrial meetings which takes time to set up. Mr. Petropoulos said that it sounded like the process could take anywhere from I year to 2½ years and cost anywhere from $50K to $100K which didn’t include the firefighter’s attorney fees which could cost the same. Mr. Maser agreed adding that they could also claim due process for 2 months.

Mr. Maser said that in 2014 when Mr. Kesten filed an offer of judgment, the firefighters were offered $7,501 (Miele and Tervo), $25,001 (Jefferson) and $0 (Horan). He said that if they recovered less than originally offered the attorney would get nothing.

Mr. Cunningham asked how they should handle their possible return to work adding there was anxiety within the department already. Chief McCurdy said that as he had stated before, it had now been over a year since they were active. He said there was a huge safety issue and money needed to train them. Chief McCurdy said that there was always the possibility of unknown medical events which would mean the Town would own them on 11lF claims. Mr. Cunningham asked Town Counsel if they would be required to receive the necessary training before returning back to active duty. Mr. Maser said that they would be required to complete training along with medical notes for clearance, fit for duty exams, etc. Mr. Degen asked if this would be something that the Town would be required to pay for. Chief McCurdy said that the Town would pay for things like this adding that it could cost about $10K to $15K. Mr. Cunningham asked if it would be academy training or in-house training. Chief McCurdy said it would be both. Mr. Petropoulos asked if this could add to their claim of being oppressed. Mr. Maser said that they agreed to a period of time adding that it still meant they needed to fulfill the training and safety requirements. Mr. Maser said that he didn’t know if they would retwn to work but it could be cause for termination if they didn’t. Mr. Schulman asked if the firefighter that quit would still receive nothing. Mr. Haddad said that they made that point clear to the judge. Mr. Schulman asked why Mr. Jefferson would return to work. He was being paid now and was only a year away from retirement. Mr. McCurdy if they could keep him on the books and not have him not do anything. Mr. Maser said that it would just compound his claims adding that punitive damages could also come into play. Ms. Eliot asked if there could be legal ramifications. Mr. Maser said that there could possibly be different duties under a different chief. Chief McCurdy was leery of that adding that if something went wrong while he was under the Chief it would fall back on him. Mr. Degen asked if between Mr. Maser and Chief McCurdy they could rewrite the job description. Chief McCurdy said that there was the possibility they could turn it around on them ad didn’t want to take that chance. Mr. Degen suggested that they order them to return to work pending safety and training requirements.

Mr. Degen called Mr. Kesten at 6:33 p.m. and told him that the Board was contemplating ordering the firefighters back to work. Ms. Eliot said that they were discussing resuming the original letter along with additional conditions that needed to be met before returning back to work. Mr. Kesten said that they agreed to hold off on the order to return to work pending mediation. He thought it was acceptable to ask them to meet with the Chief and include the necessary ce1tifications and medical clearance requirements. Mr. Petropoulos asked what would happen if they didn’t write to the firefighters at all. Mr. Kesten said that they could come back and say they didn’t hear from the Town at all. Mr. Kesten said that with the mediation over, they should send a letter providing them with a date by which to contact the Chief along with the discussed requirements.

Mr. Petropoulos asked if there were any other cases that required firefighters to update their training. Chief McCurdy said that there was only one case that he knew of but the difference was that the firefighter kept up on his/her certifications while he/she was out.

Mr. Degen asked if a letter could be done by the end of the next week. Mr. Haddad said that he thought one could be done sooner. Mr. Petropoulos said that he wanted to hear from the Chief as to whether he wanted this or not. Chief McCurdy said that he had protested this all along but if there was a legal responsibility for the Town to order them back to work then he would have to be okay with it. Mr. Degen asked if they legally had to have them back. Mr. Kesten said “yes.” Chief McCurdy said that he had hesitation in changing the job description to only have the call Deputy answer calls. He said he thought it was legally unsafe to have him run an incident scene. Mr. Degen asked if a deputy chief was needed. Mr. Kesten said that he wasn’t sure that the position could be eliminated. He said that he wasn’t sure that he wanted to come back. Mr. Degen said that it sounded as though everyone was inagreement with ordering them to return to work and see what happens. Mr. Maser said that he would talk with the Chief and get the letters out by the end of the week. Mr. Degen asked what the next step was if they didn’t return back to work.

Mr. Kesten said that they would not be employees and would deal with the litigation moving forward. The call with Mr. Kesten ended at 6:50 p.m.

Firefighter’s Press Release

This is the text of the “press release” sent to the media recently by attorney Bowen.

Clarence Jefferson, Benjamin Miele, Stephen Tervo and James Horan met recently with the Town before a mediator in the federal court in an effort to bring this matter to a close.  Unfortunately, that mediation was unsuccessful.  The four were upset to learn that the Town then released executive session minutes which, among other things, commented on that mediation which was supposed to be a private, nonbinding voluntary attempt to resolve their litigation with the Town.  It has always been their preference to protect their privacy, and to try their case in Court, not in public, but they feel compelled to comment.

  1. The town, by its own estimates in that meeting, was told that their legal fees would be between $50,000 and $100,000, and that the firefighters fees, for which they might be liable, would be in the same range.  They were told by their attorney that the firefighters could “claim due process” for two months.  That is, they conceded that the plaintiffs have valid claims.  The Chief estimated that it would cost the Town $10,000 to $15,000 just to take the men back.  Their attorney also warned the Town that punitive damages could come into play.  Punitive damages are damages that are intended to punish bad faith action, as opposed to merely compensating the plaintiffs for their out of pocket damages.  The town appears to be conceding wrong doing, but offering the plaintiffs well less than half of what they themselves think these claims are worth.  The plaintiffs were not going to negotiate publicly, but feel their hand has been forced by the wholly inappropriate release of the minutes.  They dramatically reduced their demand to just 10% of their million dollar claims in an effort to resolve this, but the Town would rather litigate the matter.

  2. The other thing made abundantly clear from the minutes is that the town does not want these good men back. They have never offered Mr. Horan anything.  And despite being told by their attorneys to take Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Miele and Mr. Tervo back, the town plainly does not want to.  This is a pattern.  When the firefighters filed their own grievances with the Board of Selectmen, they were rejected, prompting the law suit.  When the suit was filed, at least one member of the Board labeled it as frivolous.  Then they made a Federal case out of it, and granted three of the plaintiffs the hearing they were unconstitutionally denied.  When the hearing officer selected by the town found that the Town had failed to prove they had cause to fire the firefighters, and recommended their reinstatement, they were not wanted back.  The released minutes confirm there is, in their words, anxiety, about them returning.  The four are upset that their opportunities in Groton have been destroyed.

  3. Now, because their lawyer has told them to do it, not because their value to the Town is recognized, not because the Town wants them back, not because the Town is well served with them on the department, they have made something of a job offer. It is too little too late after the way they have been treated. It is contingent upon fitness for duty and other certifications, which would not have been an issue but for their unlawful termination.  The offer also refers to a new minimum activity policy which they have not been provided with.  This offer has all the sincerity of an apology the teacher tells the bully to make on the playground.  The firefighters have their own serious concerns about their safety, and the safety of the Town, if they were to return to a department that neither trusts them, nor wants them.  They will await their day in Court.


Jun 202015
 

Groton fire and police check out a single vehicle crash on Old Dunstable Road Saturday afternoonTyngsborough Emergency Blog

Groton fire and police check out a single vehicle crash on Old Dunstable Road Saturday afternoon

One person was transported by Groton Fire Department personnel after a pickup truck rolled over on Old Dunstable Road near Hoyt’s Wharf Road about 5:30 p.m. Saturday. Two occupants were evaluated at the scene. No other details were available Saturday evening.


Jun 052015
 

According to a news release from the Massachusetts State Police, a “Sobriety Checkpoint” will be run by the department on a public way somewhere in Middlesex County and will operate Saturday June 6, into Sunday June 7, 2015.

The press release states: “The purpose is to further educate the motoring public and strengthen the public’s awareness to the need of detecting and removing those motorists who operate under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs from our roadways. It will be operated during varied hours, the selection of vehicles will not be arbitrary, safety will be assured, and any inconveniences to motorists will be minimized with advance notice to reduce fear and anxiety.”


May 312015
 

The newest member of Groton’s retail community, FACETSetc, has opened for business at 30A Hollis Street, under the ownership of Tracey Smith. FACETSetc, is a boutique that offers one-of-a-kind silver, crystal and beaded jewelry; artisan gifts, fine and custom jewelry design; and jewelry and watch repair.

The store officially opened its doors on May 9th and has been met with overwhelming support from existing customers and the local community, Smith wrote in a news release. Smith does the custom jewelry design herself, using the highest quality diamonds and semiprecious gem jewelry. Smith said the retail store expands her ten year old brands, FACETs and facetsbytracey.com. She was the staff jeweler and artisan at the former NOA Gifts on Main Street, she wrote.

“I’ve been offering my line of jewelry at other retail locations and through my website for many years, but I really wanted to establish roots in the community and integrate my line of jewelry with distinct artisan gifts and my highly popular repair business,” Smith said. “Many of my existing customers have been asking for wider availability for some time, so when I found the current location on Hollis Street, everything just fell into place. I’m thrilled to be a part of this community and look forward to contributing to the growth and vitality of this amazing area.”



Smith began her career at a Boston-based jewelry wholesale firm where she was a diamond buyer. After honing her diamond experience in the heart of New York’s Diamond District, she moved to the Thomas Long Company as the fine jewelry buyer for Long’s Jewelers. It was at Long’s Jewelers that Smith developed a keen eye for jewelry design and merchandising.

The building in which FACETSetc operates has new owners, Halsey and Julie Platt, who also own 214 Main Street, Smith wrote.

FACETSetc is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information call 978-449-9600 or visit FACETSetc on Facebook.


May 312015
 

Qi Sun will teach Cantonese at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School next year

Qi Sun will teach Cantonese at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School next year

One of the new teachers at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School next fall has already earned the “longest commute to school” award. Qi Sun is from Tang Yuan, Heilongjiang, in China. She has been teaching in Tang Yuan County Senior High School for eight years, and has been awarded a fellowship from the U.S. Department of State to participate in the 2015 Teachers of Critical Languages Program (TCLP). Sun will teach Chinese for a full academic year. Groton-Dunstable participated in a nationwide competition to host a TCLP teacher and Qi is one of 23 teachers from China and Egypt to participate.

Sun’s current public school has an international program for foreign students. She teaches both English as a foreign Language to Chinese students and Chinese (Mandarin) as a foreign language to international students. She holds a BA from Jiamusi University in the field of English Education.

TCLP increases the study and acquisition of important world languages in U.S. schools. This program enables primary and secondary schools to strengthen their teaching of critical languages by bringing Egyptian and Chinese teachers to the U.S. to teach Arabic and Chinese language for an academic year. Launched in 2006, TCLP has provided fellowships to over 190 primary and secondary school teachers of English from Egypt and China to teach in K-12 schools throughout the United States.

In addition to teaching their native languages, TCLP exchange teachers expand the understanding of the world in their U.S. host communities by establishing strong ties with teachers, students, parents and members of community, and by sharing information about their home countries and cultures. At the same time, teachers gain first hand knowledge of the United States to share with students and fellow teachers in their home countries. Upon return, many of them establish lasting bonds between their U.S. host schools and their home schools in Egypt and China.

TCLP is funded by the U.S. Department of State ‘s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, which promotes international mutual understanding through a wide range of academic, cultural, private-sector, professional and sports exchange programs. These exchanges engage youth, students, educators, artists, athletes and emerging leaders in the United States and in more than 160 countries. Alumni of ECA exchanges comprise over one million people around the world, including more than 50 Nobel Laureates and more than 350 current or former heads of state and government.

TCLP is implemented by American Councils for International Education: ACTRIACCELS, an international nonprofit organization that prepares individuals and institutions to succeed in an increasingly interconnected world. Since 1974, American Councils has responded to the needs of the communities where it works with hundreds of robust, international education programs that include academic exchanges, language immersion, testing and assessment, professional training, community development, and scholarly research.


May 252015
 

Several hundred people cheered on Groton’s Memorial Day parade this morning, and many made it to the Groton Cemetery for the ceremony honoring U.S. military personnel who have died in the nation’s conflicts. Here is a gallery of the parade and ceremony.