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CHARLTON’S ‘DIRTY LITTLE SECRET’ The Long Haul for Clean Water



M AY 17 - 23, 2018

Worcester gets first peek at fiscal 2019 budget: City Manager Ed Augustus Jr. gave his first public showing of the proposed fiscal 2019 budget Tuesday night. 5 Pulling the thread? The mythology of James Dye: Each line in his meticulously-detailed — and visually-intensive — work is crafted with incredible precision. 23 Operation Fermentation. KrafTea Kombucha will take up residence in the historic Sprinkler Factory space this summer. 27

in this issue M AY 17 - 23, 2018 • V O L U M E 43 I S S U E 38

the cover

Charlton’s ‘Dirty Little Secret’: The Long Haul for Clean Water Katie and Denise Cunningham with their dogs Lexi and Shaby, both cancer-ridden, on the porch of their Charlton home where they live with dangerously contaminated water. The family has depended on the water deliveries for more than 15 years.

Part one of a two-part series highlighting water contamination in two Worcester County communities. Story on page 12

Photo by Elizabeth Brooks, Design by Kimberly Vasseur

31 38

Find us on Twitter @worcestermag Instagram: Worcestermag

M AY 17 - 23, 2018




Move to delay flavored tobacco ban put on hold BILL SHANER


istrict 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera put the kibosh on what could have been a hotly-contested debate at City Council Tuesday night when she moved to hold an order seeking to delay the city’s flavored tobacco ban. The order, put forward by Councilor-At-Large Moe Bergman, would ask, if it got the votes, to delay the flavored tobacco ban set to go into effect January 2019, while the board of health and local businesses can come to compromise solution. Rivera held the order under privilege, a procedural move councilors can use to push discussion on any item back one meeting. In this case, the discussion was pushed back two weeks, to the April 29 meeting. After the meeting, Rivera said she held the item to allow both sides more time to prepare arguments. “I don’t think there was adequate preparation to have a functioning debate,” she said. “At this point now it gives an opportunity for folks on either side to come in and present something in two weeks.” She added she feels the issue has been settled, at both the Board of Health and at Council. Bergman said after the meeting he had no issue with Rivera holding the item, but defended it as a way to reconsider a “draconian” policy move on the part of the Board of Health. “I think we can do better. I think there can be a compromise,” he said. Bergman, who spoke against the ban publicly at the April 23 Board of Health meeting where it was approved, said in his order the ban will do little to stop children and young adults from acquiring flavored tobacco products. Bergman’s position puts him at odds with other city leaders. The partial ban has the support of the city manager and the remainder of the council per a unanimous vote at the March 20 meeting (Bergman was absent). The Board of Health voted unanimously in favor of it. That’s not to say the measure hasn’t been divisive, however. The Chamber of Commerce and local trade organizations have loudly criticized it as one that needlessly hurts businesses. The Board of Health voted unanimously to adopt the restrictions, and they’re set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. The ordinance bans the sale of any flavored tobacco products, such as cartridges for vapes and flavored cigars, at any business in Worcester that doesn’t have an age cap for entry. So, specialized tobacco stores and smoke shops can still sell the products, while convenience stores cannot. C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 6



M AY 17 - 23, 2018

District 4 City Councilor Sarai Rivera. ELIZABETH BROOKS


Worcester gets first peek at fiscal 2019 budget BILL SHANER

ings next week. On Tuesday night, though, councilors kept their opinions to themselves. The only matter discussed after the presentaity Manager Ed Augustus Jr. gave his tion was a warning from At-Large Councilor first public showing of the proposed fiscal 2019 budget Tuesday night, which Konnie Lukes that the budget may not be voted on by the current deadline (late June) included clear funding priorities in public health, walkable streets and youth pro- because numbers from the state have not been grams, alongside the annual extra investments finalized. The first Council budget hearing will be held in public safety and education. The $649.8-million proposal marks a 2.7-per- Tuesday, May 22 at 4:30 p.m. The city is projecting an even $2.7-percent cent increase over the current budget. Of that revenue growth this year, while forgoing $13.7 number, $370.7 million goes to the schools (a million in levee capacity. The revenue is aided 2.2-percent increase), $92.9 million to public safety (3.5-percent increase) and $27.8 million in part by the new recreational marijuana industry, set to come online this summer. City to the Department of Public Works and Parks officials project $1.1 million in new earnings (4.4 percent). from the nascent recreational marijuana Augustus presented the budget to the City C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 7 Council, which will begin holding public hear-



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After hearing significant opposition from local business owners and trade group representatives, Board of Health Chairman David Fort defended the measure at the meeting as consistent with the board’s plan, called the Community Health Improvement Plan, to cut down smoking rates across the city, and especially among youth. The restriction, he said, is just one piece of a wider puzzle. The only other Board of Health member who spoke, Abigail Averbach, said one of the major goals the partial ban would achieve is cutting down point of contact between youth and e-cigarette advertising. But opponents said the measure only picks a winner and a loser in the flavored tobacco game, and that banning the products from convenience stores is unfair to businesses that have a 96-percent compliance rate with age restricted sales. In all, more than 200 businesses in Worcester will be affected by the new restrictions. Bergman in his order is asking for a hold while other alternatives, such as restricting open display of the products, can be considered. Other communities in the area, such as Leicester and Paxton, do not have the partial ban, he said, so the measure may just have the effect of pushing business a town over. The measure, he said, does not address online shopping, where buying flavored tobacco products is easy. He also made a connection between the flavored tobacco ban and the new recreational marijuana industry set to open in Worcester later this year. Cannabis, he said, has been shown in studies to harm the developing brains, until about the age of 25, but 21 year olds can legally purchase it. But no one can buy flavored tobacco products at convenience stores because it may fall into the hands of minors. “We shouldn’t be selling any harmful products, but we should be consistent,” said Bergman.



Bill Shaner can be reached at 508-749-3166 x324 or at Follow him on Twitter @Bill_Shaner.

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C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 5

industry, in the form of a new sales tax for pot purchases and community host agreements, once stores can open this summer. During his presentation, Augustus said the new marijuana revenue would be set aside for youth programs and social services. Included in that is a renewed investment in the the widely-lauded RecWorcester program. For the first year, the city is funding it off the tax base with a $200,000 contribution, and expanding it to include swimming lessons and expanded offerings in city parks. The budget includes a number of new positions in City Hall, and the hires largely reflect the public policy goals of the administration. At a meeting to review the budget earlier this week, Augustus emphasized a few of the new positions, including a coordinator for a new social service program called Hub/Core and two traffic engineers to work on executing the city’s new complete streets policy, which intends to make the city more pedestrian and cyclist friendly. The new positions also come with some funding for programs; $275,000 has been set aside for pedestrian and traffic safety improvements. The Hub/Core program is an innovative new approach to handling those in need of public services, such as the homeless or those suffering from drug addictions. The program, adopted earlier this year, gathers dozens of agencies to sit at a single table and review cases, to provide the most efficient assistance. So far, the city’s Hub/Core program has handled 30 cases, and to expand, Augustus said a full-time coordinator is necessary. To handle the rollout of the city’s new complete streets plan, Augustus wants to hire two employees: a full-time transportation planner, the city’s first, and a traffic engineer. The administration also aims to make an investment in information technology and cyber security, bumping up the head of IT to a cabinet-level position, and hiring a full-time cyber security expert. The decision, he said, comes after some local municipalities have dealt with hacking and ransom situations. “Given all the data, all the information we want to protect, all the information we’re responsible for, we want to make sure we’re on top of that,” Augustus said at a meeting with Worcester Magazine last week. As for public safety, both the fire and police departments are seeing significant investments. Each will see a new class of recruits, and the fire department will get another $954,000 on top of base allotment to cover the Safer Grant, which is set to expire. The Fire Department will continue to see money for its

wellness program, and the Police Department will continue to see money for its Summer Impact program, which assigns overtime patrols over the summer months for bike and foot patrols. While Augustus deferred to school officials to discuss how they intend to organize their budget, he said the city is making a $3-million contribution to the school building fund, to cover new buildings at South High School and Doherty High School. School funding, he said, will be funded at $4 million more than net school spending, something the city is doing for the third year in a row. Saying he’s heard the Council loud and clear over the past few years, Augustus has set aside money to improve the cleanliness of the city. The DPW’s budget contains additional funding for cleaning and maintaining traffic islands. Bill Shaner can be reached at 508-749-3166 x324 or at Follow him on Twitter @Bill_Shaner.

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BUDGET SEASON: For most everyone, springtime is a wonderful time, among the most beautiful of the year, as everyone casts off their winter blues and looks forward to the summer ahead. That is, of course, unless you work in municipal government. Within City Hall, spring means budget season. It means four-hour budget hearings on painfully-nice evenings. It means working on a document all winter only to see it ripped apart by City Council or School Committee. It means trying to work around the frustratingly-slow approval process of the state, filling in line items with guess work that could be reversed in an afternoon. City Manager Ed Augustus Jr.’s presentation to the City Council on Tuesday served as the unofficial kickoff. From now until late June, it’s all budget all the time in #Worcpoli. It’s the most important thing city officials do, and it is a slow, boring and irritating process for just about everyone (reporters included). So buckle up, folks, budget season is upon us.

PRES TRUMP, Y/N?: This is the first time I’ve mentioned President Donald Trump in my column in months, maybe even a year, and you should be proud of me. In media, it’s not an easy thing to do. What even is a news story if there’s not some connection to America’s Biggest and Goodest Golden Boy? But since it played so heavily at a Worcester-based forum for GOP challengers to Elizabeth Warren’s senate seat this week, I must go there. According to the Telegram (I was unable to make the forum for the reasons stated in the first item of this column), the question was posed to each candidate: if the election were now, would you vote for Trump? John Kingston put on his deflecting shoes, saying he doesn’t answer hypotheticals. Geoff Diehl, state rep from Whitman, however, gave a big old “yeah boooooy.” Beth Lindstrom gave the classic cop-out answer, saying she would vote for him if he was the Republican nominee. So, there you have it. One candidate who doesn’t want to talk Trump, one who’s all in on the guy, and another who processes the surreal horror of this administration by calling him the “Republican Nominee.” Which kind of Republican will prevail in 2018? This primary contest is a good one to watch for that. HELD UNDER PRIVILEGE: I think it’s high time we take a look at the council rule called “holding under privilege,” which allows any councilor to hold any item for a week without explanation, justification or vote. Just this Tuesday, the move was used at least three times – and on the three most controversial and/or newsworthy items before the council. District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera used it to delay an order that sought to renegotiate the flavored tobacco ban. District 3 Councilor George Russell used it to delay a discussion on the rogue baseball issues at the Vernon Hill field. And finally — this was probably the most flagrant use of the rule — Mayor Joe Petty and Councilor-At-Large Kate Toomey worked in tandem to hold five (yes, five) petitions filed by the Save Notre Dame Alliance. It didn’t stop the activists from speaking on them, but it did keep the Council from having to do anything until a meeting two weeks from Tuesday. Now, the Petty and Toomey maneuver didn’t go completely unnoticed. Councilor-At-Large Konnie Lukes stood up to sound the alarm after Petty told the crowd he planned to hold all the Notre Dame petitions. She said you can’t make moves like that from the chair, to which Petty responded he wasn’t making a move, he was just telling the crowd he was going to do it later, so they could leave if they wanted. Lukes said people complain they have no idea what’s going on at council meetings (it’s hard sometimes, actually, even to a veteran meeting observer), to which Petty had the hilarious reply: “I understand that, but you’re wrong.” Of course, Petty didn’t end up making the motion to hold the items, Toomey did. This all begs the question: Wouldn’t it just be easier to act on these things as they come up? GOODBYE ANGELINI: Longtime Chairman of the Hanover Insurance Group Board of Direc-

tors Michael Angelini is retiring. He’s leaving after 30 years because, as a Hanover press release states, the company’ governing guidelines to not permit directors from continuing on past the age of 75. No word yet on a replacement.

Millbury • Worcester Auburn • South Grafton


M AY 17 - 23, 2018

SPORTS FOR ALL: With what little space I have left, just want to

say I’m happy to see Dante Comparetto put an item on the School Committee agenda tonight concerning middle school sports in Worcester. Wrote about that at length a couple weeks ago, and found we’re the only district in the Worcester-area that doesn’t do this, putting our kids at a distinct Bill Shaner, reporter disadvantage (put it on the list, amirite).

Twitter: @Bill_Shaner


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the beat Worcester, Rutland, Holden, Boylston and Grafton

were pegged by the Baker Administration as Housing Choice Communities this week – meaning they’re seen as ideal places to build new homes, as the administration plans to add another 135,000 units of housing across the state by 2025. They’re part of 67 cities and towns across the state to receive the designation, and it could mean state funding, support, and tweaks to zoning rules as a bill accompanying the initiative makes its way through the legislature.

The Worcester Regional Transit Authority is holding another public meeting to discuss the state budget and possible cuts to service. This time, they’ll have updated numbers from the state. As always, people concerned about the cuts should head to the Hub to make their displeasure known. The catch: it’s early this morning, 8:30 a.m. to be exact. And it will run about an hour or so. The Greater Worcester Community Foundation held its 43rd annual

meeting Wednesday, with a roster of speakers including Ann Lisi, CEO, Gerry Gates, board chairman, and Dr. Healther Forkey of UMass Memorial Children’s Medical Center. The event was held at Mechanics Hall. The GWCF is one of the largest grantwriting foundations in the area.

The Regional Environmental Council

will host its ninth annual REC Spring Garden Festival and Plant Sale this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Worcester Common Oval. The event will feature 10,000 organic seedlings ready to take home and kick off the garden. All purchases go toward funding seedlings for community and school gardens around the city.

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Restaurateur and drug money man Kevin Perry received a federal prison sentence from a

U.S. District Court judge this week. Perry was the man behind several restaurants, including the Blackstone Tap and The Usual, which were funded in part with drug money, and used to launder drug money. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the scheme, which led to the closing of both restaurants, as well as the Chameleon and the Hangover Pub, tangentially.


The Cabinet

It should come as no surprise, but Sutton joined the ranks of area suburbs to ban

the sale of recreational marijuana this week at its annual town meeting. While they banned sales and on-site consumption, they did not ban cultivation, so an indoor grow house or a farm could still open up in the quaint little town, as well as research facilities and testing labs.

Rehab Shop

Preservation Worcester is planning a block party. Well, more like a mill party. The his-

torical preservation group will rent out the former carpet mill building at 6 Brussels St. on Saturday, June 9, from 7:30-11 p.m., for the the Carpetball Block Party. The event will feature the Beantown Swing Orchestra, an outdoor bazaar and a silent movie screening.

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M AY 17 - 23, 2018





Hold on with delay of flavored tobacco ban


t seemed curious enough when city councilors in Worcester initially lent their unanimous support to a partial ban on the sale of flavored tobacco. After all, the Board of Health has the authority to do so and does not require Council approval. The health board ultimately went ahead and adopted the measure, perhaps emboldened by the Council’s gesture. If you were among those questioning the Council’s involvement, you were not alone. There are other examples of councilors inserting themselves or being pulled into issues and debates that might otherwise fall outside their purview. The fate of Notre Dame Church comes to mind. On its surface, the Council merely voicing its support of a health measure may seem innocent enough. It would be interesting to know whether the Board of Health would have voted different on flavored tobacco had councilors voted in opposition. Fast-forward to this week, with At-Large Councilor Moe Bergman asking the Board of Health to consider delaying implementation of the flavored tobacco restriction. The order, which District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera ultimately held under privilege, called for a meeting to discuss “alternative ways” to prevent underage youth from buying flavored tobacco. Worcester already restricts the sale of tobacco products to customers 21 or older. Bergman was not present when the Council offered its initial support. He has

since come out in opposition. Another councilor who did vote in favor, At-Large Councilor Gary Rosen, was among those supporting Bergman’s order. In fact, the order was spurred by Rosen, who on his local talk radio program, “The Economou & Rosen Show,” on Unity Radio fielded several complaints from local retail shop owners on the day the Board of Health held a public hearing on the measure. The board ultimately voted in favor that same night. This is but another example of the City Council diving into an issue it really didn’t belong a part of in the first place. First, the Board of Health is a regulatory board. If members are going to turn to the Council for support before they vote on an issue, why bother having a Board of Health? Simply have the Council make the decision. The second matter involves councilors second-guessing themselves, turning around and asking a board over which it has no authority to do the same. Is it wrong to have a change of heart? No. But again, flavored tobacco does not fall under City Council purview. If anyone is going to reverse their stance, it should be the Board of Health. But now they would only be doing so under the recommendation of a board that should not hold sway over them. If the Board of Health changed course in this instance, they would lose some measure of legitimacy. And councilors would have overreached. Photographer Elizabeth Brooks x323 Contributing Writers Stephanie Campbell, Sarah Connell, Janice Harvey, Jim Keogh, Jessica Picard, Jim Perry, Corlyn Voorhees Editorial Intern Bridget Hannigan

72 Shrewsbury St. Worcester, MA 01604 Editorial 508.749.3166 x322 Sales 508.749.3166 x333 President Paul M. Provost Publisher Kathleen Real-Benoit x331 Editor Walter Bird Jr. x322 Culture Editor Joshua Lyford x325 Reporter Bill Shaner x324 10 W O R C E S T E R M A G A Z I N E . C O M

Director of Creative Services Don Cloutier x141 Creative Director Kimberly Vasseur x142 Creative Services Department Becky Gill, Stephanie Mallard, Wendy Watkins Ad Director Helen Linnehan x333 Media Consultants Diane Galipeau x335, Cheryl Robinson x336, Sarah Perez x334 Media Coordinator Madison Friend x332 Classified Media Consultant Rachel Cloutier x433

M AY 17 - 23, 2018

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Your Turn If Notre Dame is destroyed, it is by choice, not necessity TED D. CONNA


isten up, Worcester. We’re on the verge of seeing one of our most beautiful buildings reduced to a pile of rocks and dust. Notre Dame des Canadiens can still be saved, but we must convince Hanover Insurance to reverse their decision to destroy it. The problem is Notre Dame is part of the CitySquare redevelopment project, and for whatever reason the city has not made saving Notre Dame a priority. While $94 million of public funds poured into CitySquare for streets and sidewalks and parking places, zero dollars of public funds have been committed to redeveloping Notre Dame. Its owner, Hanover Insurance, has looked at many options, all of them depending on private funds alone, and while there are developers still interested in the building, Hanover is not satisfied with them and has chosen demolition instead. But to say Notre Dame must be destroyed because it’s not economical to save it, is to

ignore the fact that expecting it to be saved with private money alone is exactly what has doomed it to failure. Show me any recent redevelopment of an historic building that hasn’t involved public money. That’s just not how these projects get done. And, for that matter, that’s not how a lot of new construction gets done either. The entire CitySquare redevelopment, of which Notre Dame is a part, has benefited from public subsidies from one end to the other, with the approval of City Council every step of the way. The new construction there all benefits from public financing in one way or another. And we didn’t save Mechanics Hall, Union Station or the Hanover Theatre by telling the owner to put it out to bid and see what happens. In each case, that would have failed, just as it has failed at Notre Dame. Like Notre Dame, those other buildings had activist citizens working to save them, but unlike Notre Dame (so far), they were all saved by some combination of philanthropic and/or public funding. It makes no sense to expect Notre Dame to be saved with private money alone, when you couldn’t even build the rest of CitySquare without a generous dose of public funding. If Notre Dame were in Cambridge or Boston, where real estate commands higher rents, we would not be talking about demolition now, and even in Worcester, at some point in the future, the conversation might be different. But this is Worcester in 2018, commercial rents

are low and that makes it hard to turn an old church into a profitable project. How shortsighted and sad it would be to lose this beautiful Worcester landmark because we didn’t care enough to find the funds to save it. It’s been estimated that with a subsidy of about $6 million, Notre Dame could be profitably redeveloped. That’s not chump change, but on the scale of the $565-million CitySquare project, it’s not a huge amount of money either. It boils down to this: How much is this unique architectural landmark worth to us? Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and as of this writing, Hanover has yet to agree to any delay of their demolition plans. Losing Notre Dame would be an epic failure for Worcester, but that’s exactly what may happen in just a matter of weeks. What will it take to change that? First, it would be wonderful if there were still an angel, or a few, the wings — either private individuals or investors who are less concerned with profit than they are with the quality of Worcester’s downtown and what a colossal mistake it would be to destroy one of our most important landmarks. Second, the city could decide to support saving Notre Dame the same way it has supported City Square: with creative financing and a commitment to succeed. And third, Hanover could stay Notre Dame’s execution long enough to give the emerging new ideas a chance to bear fruit. Philanthropic gifts, public funding, naming rights, other new development sharing the site with Notre Dame, a land swap of Notre Dame for

another development parcel — any and all of these could play a role in saving Notre Dame. If Hanover refuses to give them a chance, Hanover must accept the criticism that comes with that. On the other hand, if Hanover does change course and give Notre Dame one last reprieve, they will deserve our respect and gratitude. The Save Notre Dame Alliance has offered to partner with the city and with Hanover to save Notre Dame, and we will do everything we can. But with just a few weeks left, their cooperation is essential to our success. Make no mistake: If Notre Dame is destroyed, it will not be because of some tragic, but unchangeable economic necessity. It will be because those who control its fate — the city and Hanover Insurance, working together — ultimately decided it was not worth saving. Yes, they have put time and money into trying, and yes, they deserve credit for CitySquare’s success. But no, losing Notre Dame is not inevitable. If it happens, it’s a choice they made. Ted D. Conna of Worcester is a leader of the Save Notre Dame Alliance. He is a builder, designer and activist. He was the first executive director of the Regional Environmental Council, and he helped prevent the demolition of two historic buildings that are now restored as part of the Quinsigamond School.

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The Long Haul for Clean Water


(Editor’s Note: Part one of a two-part series highlighting water contamination in two Worcester County communities.)


hen the man came knocking on her door for the first time, Denise Cunningham didn’t make much of it. He asked to take a sample of her water; she thought he was selling filters for a private company. The man had come to test her water for contamination on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency.



M AY 17 - 23, 2018


LaMountain’s off Route 20 in Charlton. ELIZABETH BROOKS

Cunningham didn’t think it was a big deal, even after the first test results came back showing their water was contaminated. It tested positive for MtBE, a substance she knew nothing about, but is associated with cancer. As a temporary solution, the Cunninghams received bottled water. “So I said, ‘OK, I think we’ll get clean water and that’s all we have to worry about. We’ll have drinking water.’ And it didn’t bother me,” Cunningham recalled. The deliveries would stop when the MtBE in their well water returned to safe levels. But it never did. More than 15 years later, the Cunninghams still depend on a monthly delivery of bottled water. Earlier this year, eight full, 5-gallon bottles of Poland Spring

sat on their porch next to three unopened boxes of 24 smaller individual bottles and three boxes with 15 larger medium-sized bottles. Inside, discarded Poland Spring containers covered tables and countertops. They keep the rest of the boxes with 700-milliliter bottles down in the cellar. Like the Cunninghams, several other homes in Charlton live with dangerously-contaminated water. Since the late ’80s, at least four tanks containing gasoline and petroleum leaked their contents into the soil. The contaminants reached the groundwater, seeping into people’s wells. At least 47 families in Charlton have no option but to use the Poland Spring water to drink, cook, brew coffee, and in some cases, bathe. Underground storage tanks (USTs) are systems and

pipes that have at least 10 percent of their volume underground. They store petroleum or hazardous substances and are commonly found under gas stations, convenience stores, government buildings and military bases. In Charlton, more than five USTs were buried under LaMountain’s — a local gas station at 142 Charlton Road (Route 20) — a Honey Farms convenience store, two rest stops on the Massachusetts Turnpike and the old Highway Department building. At least one tank in each of those locations leaked. In April 2016, after decades struggling with the water problem, Charlton officials, including Town Administrator Robin Craver, Health Director Jim Philbrook and Water and Sewer Commissioner Rob Lemansky, finalized a deal with ExxonMobil. The oil conglomerate C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 14

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feature C L E A N WAT E R

pressure issues, according to Erika Holloway, an ExxonMobil spokesperson. C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 13 The delay was not immediately announced on the website the company had set up, www. agreed to pay a $30-million settlement to the Now, however, town and build a waterline connecting the construction is slated to start this year. A affected homes to running water provided community meeting has been scheduled for by the neighboring town of Southbridge. The town will use $7.7 million to support the Water June 12, a year after construction had been expected to start. Department and $250,000 to fund a water “We’re not going to allow this to delay us superintendent. ExxonMobil was initially expected to started anymore, but we need to resolve the water pressure problem,” Holloway said. waterline construction in summer 2017, but None of the neighbors were directly that ended up being delayed because of water informed that waterline construction was




M AY 17 - 23, 2018

risky underground storage tanks were, as shown in Mobil Oil Company’s internal communications from 1982, obtained from a trial’s documentary evidence. By the early ’80s, Chevron had been found liable for a $200-million injury claim in Colorado and Exxon had paid $7 million for a UST case in Long Island. According to Marcel Moreau, a UST expert and consultant, oil companies used to settle by buying entire neighborhoods. Mobil Oil representatives knew cleaning those contaminated sites was hard and expensive. Their communications show Massachusetts, along with other 14 other states, posed a particular danger; its groundwater runs shallow and is easily t all started in 1937, at least in Charlton, contaminated, making a leak particularly risky when a gas station was built on the interfor public health. section of Route 20 and Main Street. A few The following year, a program about USTmiles north and 20 years later, a Mobil gas contaminated sites was aired on CBS’s “60 station opened on the Massachusetts TurnMinutes.” It revealed families in Rhode Island pike. whose lives were disrupted by having to use In 1972, after changing hands twice, Peter bottled water for everything in their daily LaMountain purchased the station on Route routines. The news program led to immediate 20. Run by his son-in-law Paul Boria and his Congressional action mandating the credaughter Cheryl Boria, along with their two ation of a federal underground storage tank sons, the station was known from then on as program. LaMountain’s. But the EPA faced a problem. The personnel Over the years, some of the steel USTs under allocated for the UST program consisted of 45 LaMountain’s were changed for more modern, people in headquarters and another 45 distribfiberglass-walled tanks. By 1981, the station uted across regional offices. Similar programs had three new fiberglass tanks and an old had 3,000 employees who personally inspected 12,000-gallon steel UST. Two of the tanks were sites, coordinated cleanups and were responLaMountain’s property, the other two were sible for enforcing regulations, explained Exxon’s. Thomas J. Schruben, one of the pioneers in the By then, one of the them was already leakUST EPA program. ing. By 1984, two million tanks were scattered Oil company representatives knew how across the country and 35 percent of them leaked. Two experienced directors declined to create the UST program for lack of resources Charlton Town Administrator when Ronald Brand agreed to tackle the task Robin Craver. ahead. The EPA’s first UST program director ELIZABETH BROOKS and creator of the federal program, Brand,

pushed back at least one year. It was through a community-run Facebook page, “Charlton, MA, News, Events & Happenings” that the Cunninghams learned about the delayed construction plans. “They don’t make this public knowledge,” said Cunningham’s 24-year-old daughter, Katherine. After a brief pause, she added, “It’s like Charlton’s dirty little secret.”




Above, Denise Cunningham, 63, points at a report containing test results for her water. Cunningham has received test results like this once a month for the past 15 years. Each month, she reads the report, marks it and scribbles the levels of contamination on the blank space atop the page. Right, water test reports from 2016 show a level of contamination in Cunningham’s water between 75.3 and 111 parts per billion. The ppb of MtBE in her water before filtration are above the federal advisory level (20-40 ppb) and the Massachusetts standard (70 ppb). ALEJANDRA IBARRA CHAOUL

recalled consulting with petroleum industry experts and decided the program should not be centralized. During that same year, far from the EPA’s headquarters in Washington D.C., an underground storage tank tucked under the Charlton Highway Department building, south of LaMountain’s, started leaking gasoline into the groundwater. A year later, in a windowless hotel room in Rosslyn, Va., Brand’s team sat across the table from McDonald’s, Century XXI and 7-Eleven representatives on a warm spring afternoon.

From them, the EPA staff learned how to create a franchise program where the inspections, the cleanup processes, and even the enforcement was left to the states. “We had to set up a program quickly. There were tanks everywhere,” recalled Brand 34 years later during an interview. “We looked for who had experience ensuring performance in thousands of locations, and private franchisers did.” Shortly after, the federal UST program modeled after McDonald’s was created. The EPA purposefully decided not to have a plan B if the

states failed. The revolutionary program was unlike any other of its kind. “Looking back, it is interesting to note that we did not ask for permission or approval to adopt the franchise model,” wrote Brand in a book about environmental policy. “We were viewed as a different kind of program, which was necessary to deal with these two million things.” The novel program allowed the EPA to handle what at the moment seemed like an insurmountable challenge. And for the problem they originally faced, it worked: 1.8 million

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tanks are now closed. But 34 years later, 68,000 sites remain to be cleaned. Two years had gone by after the 1984 bill was signed into law when gasoline vapors coming out the cracks of a tank in LaMountain’s caused an explosion. A couple of months later, Exxon removed the tank. It was leaking. It had been contaminating the site and private drinking wells for roughly five years. Months later, during a ceremony in Fort McNair, Washington D.C., EPA Administrator Lee Thomas granted Brand the Presidential Rank Award for creating the UST program. “We were so busy with problems in other arenas, that we left them alone. If we knew what things Ron was doing, we probably wouldn’t have let him do them,” Thomas said as a light-hearted jest in his speech on Sept. 8, 1988. In 2004, at least a decade after the first spill, the DEP found two potential liable parties for the spill, LaMountain’s and ExxonMobil, and asked them to decide who would be responsible for the necessary actions. The oil company also agreed to pay for a waterline to provide clean water to those affected by that particular contamination plume, with one caveat: Charlton had to guarantee a source of running water. The town’s water supply is unusable; a vein of arsenic and another one of salt run through it, making it poisonous. “Once the contamination leaves the site of the leak, we have no guidance from the EPA,” Craver said. “There is no law that will make the responsible parties clean the contaminated sites beyond their property.” Years before, in 2002, the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority successfully negotiated a source of running water with the town of Southbridge for a different waterline built by ExxonMobil. The construction finished in 2006 C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 16


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first-level pitched roof. One of the two cars in their driveway holds a veteran’s plate. For two years, when John Cunningham and serves the residents in the northern part was deployed to Iraq, Denise Cunningham of town, which was contaminated by a leaking struggled to carry the 5-gallon bottles of fresh UST situated under the rest stop on the Maswater. Each month she had to ask a neighbor, sachusetts Turnpike. the Poland Spring delivery man, or a passerby But negotiations to secure the water supply to help her get them inside. for the new waterline between Charlton and After their water was tested for the first Southbridge moved slowly, if at all. The existtime, the Cunninghams waited two weeks for ing water lines had been negotiated between the results to come in. the MTA — a state authority — and South“I went to the library and to the bookstores,” bridge for water supply in Charlton. Officials said Cunningham, now 63. in both towns claimed ownership of the pipes. She could find nothing and didn’t under“There was a lot of history, starts and stops,” stand the tables in the report, so she called the which prolonged the process nine more years, EPA number listed in the letter. Craver said. “And I asked them what is this chemical? In April 2015, both municipalities signed That’s when they explained it’s a compound, an inter-municipal agreement guaranteeing methyl tert-butyl ether,” she said. a water supply. Charlton will own all the waMtBE, a gasoline additive, was introduced terlines servicing their residents. A year later, in the United States in 1979. There is no ExxonMobil finally agreed to start building the federal ban to use this substance, but in 2004 waterline. some states started prohibiting it for its effects on human health. As of 2018, MtBE is banned in 25 states. Massachusetts is not one of them. The Cunninghams’ home is among the y the time Denise and John Cunningmost contaminated on record in Charlton. ham bought their house in Charlton in The federal advisory level for MtBE in drinking 1998, the state Department of Enviwater, established by the EPA in 1997, is 20 ronmental Protection had opened an to 40 parts per billion. Some states require investigation into LaMountain’s property and lower limits of MtBE in their water: California’s the leaking UST under the Charlton Highway standard is 13 ppb and New York’s is 10. Other Department building was finally discovered: it states, such as Florida, don’t have a health had reached private wells. Around that time, standard at all, or allow higher levels of MtBE records show, the first water filtration systems in their water. Massachusetts’ standard is 70 were installed in nearby homes. But no one ppb. told the Cunninghams about any of it before In addition to the water delivery, some of they moved in to their new home with their the most affected houses in Charlton had a 4-year-old daughter. water filtration system installed in their cellars Their two-story, beige house on Old Worces- by Exxon. Each month, the families receive a ter Road is surrounded by garden and has a letter monitoring their contamination levels. front porch with a white wooden banister. A When the levels of contamination go up, big metallic blue “C” dangles from a miniature someone from the private company comes to model red hot-air balloon hanging from their change the clogged-up filters. C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 15




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Denise Cunningham, 63, her daughter Katherine, 24, and one of their three dogs sit in their living room behind two stacks of papers bearing water test results from their home. More reports are stored in boxes on the second floor of their house on Old Worcester Road. ALEJANDRA IBARRA CHAOUL

As of September 2017, the concentration of MtBE in the Cunningham’s water was 108 ppb before filtration. After filtration, the levels are usually below 1 ppb, but they’re still advised to drink bottled water. The EPA has classified MtBE as a possible human carcinogen and different studies found that drinking or breathing MtBE may cause nose and throat irritation, dizziness and headaches as well as gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting. Little else is proved in humans, but tests on animals show MtBE can cause skin rashes and irritation, often in the form of red patches,

as well as different kinds of cancer, including tumors in testicles, kidneys and liver as well as lymphoma and leukemia, both autoimmune disorders, nervous system effects, like seizures or unconsciousness, and harm fetus development. “She gets a lot of rashes,” Denise Cunningham said of her daughter’s skin reactions. “Sometimes her face will be blotchy or she’ll have blotches on her arms and legs. And it happens when she gets out of the shower.” Twenty-four-year-old Katherine Cunningham moved into the house on Old Worcester Road at age 4 and lived with contaminated

water ever since. Sitting in her living room recliner, she talked about the rashes on her skin. When I was little,” she said. “I used to call them splotchies.” Besides the “splotchies,” Katherine Cunningham started developing bald patches at 18. She has seen several doctors, but no specialist has been able to give her a straight answer. For three months, she tried washing her hair with water from the Poland Spring bottles. But her efforts to keep up the new routine eventually fainted. “It just takes so much water to do that,” she said. And the amount of water is not the only inconvenience. Every day during those three months, Katherine heated cups of water in the microwave until she filled two buckets, which she carried upstairs to the bathroom. She first showered with the filtered water, making sure her hair didn’t get wet. Only then did she wash her hair, rinsing it one cup of warm water at the time, until it was clean. “It was a long process that was just very cumbersome,” she recalled.

After the water bottle delivery started, south of LaMountain’s on Old Worcester Road, Clifton Harrison finished building his house. The now grey-haired grandfather with bushy eyebrows drilled his own well, deeper than those around his house, and tested the water. It was clean. Harrison and his wife moved in their house in 2004. On the property behind theirs, their son built a second house. And on Christmas Eve 2017, his nephew and his family moved into the next-door house. Two years after he moved in, Harrison had a filtration system installed on his water supply. As of September 2017, the Harrison’s water before filtration showed an MtBE concentration level of 52 ppb. He uses the filtered water for cooking, making coffee and bathing. But he does not drink it. He drinks from water bottles. Refusing to take ExxonMobil’s supply, he buys his own. “I chose not to live in the city. If the water didn’t test right when I drilled my well, it would’ve been my responsibility and I would’ve taken care of it. But it wasn’t my fault or my responsibility,” said Harrison, frowning. C O N T I N U E D O N PA G E 18

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C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 17

“If the EPA was more concerned about the source of this problem from the beginning and they took care of the tanks, this wouldn’t have happened.” The Cunninghams, meanwhile, fed up with the never-ending hassle, tried moving once about eight years ago. But after disclosing their water problem, which they have to do by law, the value of their property dropped. “We couldn’t really sell it,” Denise Cunningham explained. They tried suing once too, but couldn’t find a lawyer to take the case. Denise Cunningham is still looking for an attorney to take her individual suit or to start a class action. David Chamberland, their 60-year-old neighbor also receives bottled water each month and stores it in tall piles of boxes next to his three-cylinder filtration system in the cellar. Chamberland lives in a two-story, deepdark fuchsia house with his wife and aging mother. He plans to move out in five years, as soon as he retires. As for his health, “What’s the long-term ef-

fect?” he wondered. “We’ll see.” As of 2018, ExxonMobil monitors the water in 175 houses in Charlton; 47 of them still receive bottled water and 11 have filtration systems installed in their cellar cleaning their well water.



n 1986, Congress created the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund (LUST Fund) with a tax of one penny per gallon of gasoline sold. The LUST Fund exists to enforce contaminated site cleanups where the responsible party refused or was unable to pay, or when the tank owner is missing. The money in the LUST Fund has never been fully used by the EPA. In the past six years, its resources have been siphoned away for highway construction. First, in April 2012, the “MAP-21”: The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act was passed taking $2.4 billion from the LUST

The Cunninghams have received monthly deliveries of bottled water for the past 15 years. Bottles of different sizes sit on their deck on February 2018. ALEJANDRA IBARRA CHAOUL

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feature Trust Fund. Two years later, in July 2014, the Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2014, appropriated an extra $1 billion from the LUST Fund to the Highway Trust Fund. In January 2015, the FAST Act, or Fixing America’s Surface Transportation, which builds on the 2012 MAP-21 Act, was introduced. It took $300 million total from the LUST Trust Fund to the Highway Trust Fund. It was passed in a year. Besides the cuts to the LUST Fund, the program faces additional budgetary challenges, according to Ben Thomas, a UST expert who offers operator training. The current administration plans to cut EPA funds currently destined for UST leaks prevention, cleanups and research. The supervision of USTs went from 1988, when the regulations for the federal law were drafted, to 2015, when the EPA updated them - without a single change in legislation, according to Moreau. The 1988 regulations were focused on improving the tanks’ hardware. They never took care of people because oil companies trained their employees to service the equipment. Since then, oil conglomerates sold most of their gas stations to owners who have no training on UST care. The 2015 regulations require operators to have monthly inspections. Its success is yet unknown; the deadline for implementing monthly monitoring is 2018. “We know these tanks are all failing at incredible rates,” said state Rep. Peter Durant, R-6th Worcester District. “We don’t always find them until we’re notified of the releases. And we’re very concerned about this.” As of November 2017, less than half UST systems in Massachusetts were in significant operational compliance with release detection and prevention requirements. Of the 9,000 UST active systems in the state, only 269 were inspected during that year. Releases from 2016 to November 2017 increased 37 percent. Since 2008, the state Department of Environmental Protection has received about $7 million between EPA grants and state resources for their UST prevention program. “The potential hazard for spills is not being properly monitored, but once the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection learns about them it does act quickly,” said Philbrook. “The EPA’s is a very good program, but they’re understaffed. The DEP is also way understaffed.” When Craver took office as Charlton’s town administrator in 2006, she learned that, for the past 20 years, the town’s sewer commissioners demanded ExxonMobil did more to remedy the contamination. They were always met with the same answer: the oil conglomerate was doing everything that was required of it, nothing more. “This is their area of expertise,” Craver said, “defending themselves against towns that have

experienced significant contamination.” As for Charlton, she added, “It was a learning process for us.” In 2005, ExxonMobil had tested the water in Charlton’s Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School and found traces of MtBE. By 2007, the town hired Greg MacGregor, an environmental lawyer, and in 2008, the state DEP required ExxonMobil increased the water testing at Bay Path to a monthly basis. The same year, MtBE was found at 0.83 ppb in Charlton’s Heritage Elementary School. In 2011, Charlton Middle School’s water showed 0.5 ppb of MtBE. Town residents started picketing outside Town Hall and, eventually, ExxonMobil sent representatives to face their concerns. “Some people would’ve stopped, but we didn’t,” said Craver. “We made it louder and louder.” When negotiations stalled, the town reached out to Erin Brockovich, who sent a lawyer from New York City. “We became a force that Exxon could not ignore,” Craver said. It took Charlton more than 20 years since the first leak contaminated their water, and over 11 since they hired an environmental lawyer, to get the oil conglomerate to agree to a $30-million settlement and the construction of a waterline that will provide clean running water. ExxonMobil is currently bidding a pumping station needed to boost the pressure of the water from Southbridge. That pump will allow Charlton to get 500,000 gallons of water to service the east part of town — with water contaminated by MtBE leaks — and the west part of town — with water polluted by a landfill contamination in 2017. Additionally, the town secured a $2.6-million grant from MassWorks for economic development to extend the supply of water on the east side with water from the town of Oxford. Eager to turn the hill and put water contamination behind them, the town plans to become an economic powerhouse in the next five years.



n 1995, William Catron moved into his house on Old Worcester Road without knowing anything about the water contamination. He is now used to getting his water delivered. He even drinks water straight from the sink, but his wife doesn’t; she won’t give it to her 14-month-old granddaughter either. “It’s not Charlton’s fault,” Catron said. “The problem was the federal government when

it made oil corporations put MtBE in the gas. That crap has been contaminating the water all across the country for years.” Their house sits on the top of a hill at the end of a long driveway on Old Worcester Road. Next to the front door, “Catron’s” is written with green and red paint on a wooden sign leaning next to a five gallon Poland Spring bottle. As soon as the houses are plugged to the waterline, which ExxonMobil expects to happen in 2021, the families will have to pay $456 a year for water. Today they pay nothing. The oil conglomerate will pay for each individual $10,000 connection to the waterline during a 12-month period. People like the Cunninghams, Harrisons and Chamberlands, some of whom moved to Charlton to avoid paying service fees, find this solution far from ideal. “Is it ExxonMobil’s fault that their decaying tanks ruptured?” asked Catron rhetorically. “I don’t know.” He expects the town or the oil conglomerate to pay for this water bill at least for the same amount of time they’ve had this problem. The wells of those who opt into the waterline will

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C O N T I N U E D F R O M PA G E 19

be capped at ExxonMobil’s expense. For Harrison, who buys his own bottles of water, the solution in Charlton is bittersweet. “If they had pushed ExxonMobil back when it happened,” he said, “it wouldn’t have been so bad.” Thirty-four years ago, the “60 Minutes” story about leaking underground storage tanks aired. It showed several families from Rhode Island struggling with contaminated water. A federal law was since passed. And yet, in 2018, 47 families in Charlton, Massachusetts, face similar challenges to those of the families in Rhode Island back in 1983. During the winter months, the sun setting in Charlton creates a ring of light under the cushiony white clouds. A statue honoring veterans stands outside the Public Library – a red, brick building erected in front of the short and sturdy town hall. Family-owned Italian bakeries, pizza and pasta restaurants are the most common places to eat out. And on Thursdays, the big old stone house harboring the town’s Sewing Center opens its doors for a public quilting lesson. A big CVS store occu-

pies the land of the old gas station since they bought LaMountain’s property in 2006. Today, the only trace of the service station on Route 20 and North Main Street is a small white shed with a blue rooftop sitting on the back of the property behind the pharmacy. A burgundy-red sign on top of the door reads “LaMountain’s.” It was a remediation site that, according to the state DEP’s Ed Coletta, operated from December 2002 through October 2012 and consisted of 11 vapor and groundwater extraction wells. The system recovered approximately 23.5 million gallons of groundwater and removed the equivalent of about 187 pounds of dissolved and vapor phase gasoline components. The system was decommissioned in December 2014. “Sometimes, bad things happen,” Catron said when he talked about his experience with contaminated water. “We’re just trying to make the best out of an unfortunate situation.” Despite the bottles of water discarded in their yard, the ones sitting on their balcony and those stored inside their home, the Catrons never considered moving. Nodding his head, Catron said, almost as if talking to himself, “This is still our slice of heaven.”


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William Catron’s house in Charlton sits at the end of a long driveway, atop a small hill on Old Worcester Road. A sign with the family name can be found to the left of their front door. A discarded, empty water bottle lies to its side.

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M AY 17 - 23, 2018




The Sprinkler Factory takes it slow for annual fundraiser JOSHUA LYFORD


he Sprinkler Factory Art Gallery, 38 Harlow St., first began holding an annual ArtRaiser event to raise funds for their galleries, studios and performance spaces back in 2015. In the years following, themes have ranged from pagan fashion shows to Cinco de Mayo pinata parties. This year, the art space looks to slow things down a little bit. On Saturday, May 19, the Sprinkler Factory will host SlowRaiser: Vacation in Hawaii, and as the name implies, friends, fans, supporters, artists and guests will have the opportunity to sit back, relax and soak in the sights and sounds of the space. “Over the years, we’ve noticed that the audience comes to the fundraiser to support and they’re introduced to the art right then and there,” said Luis Fraire, gallery manager of the space. “There is very little time to warm up. We wanted to get everything in early so the public can come in and view the artwork, see what’s there. The idea was, as opposed to a short action-packed event that’s just a few hours long, slow it down.” To facilitate this, bidding on May 19 will start earlier than in years past, at 1 p.m., and continue through 9 p.m. The theme of the event followed along naturally. “We thought, what better way to represent the slowing it down idea than to play Hawaiian music throughout the day?” said Fraire. Of course, as gallery managers Fraire and

Birgit Straehle are not the type to allow a good theme to go to waste. There will be much more than music to enjoy. The space has been transformed with green frond overhangs donated by Worcester painter Don Hartmann. Beach chairs and green indoor turf will dot the space and Hawaiian-themed

artists such as Ann Rainey, Keri Anderson, Travis Duda, Joey Mars, Diane Reed Sawyer, Frank Pozzi, Peter Wise, John Pagano, John Vo, Scott Boilard, Ron Rosenstock and many more. “You come to the fundraiser to support the organization, you want to contribute something, but you’re always so busy, you’re meeting with people, you’re talking, you eat, you ELIZABETH BROOKS drink,” said Straehle. “Suddenly, you have a half an hour to maybe choose something. This is more carefully choosing, starting a really vigorous bidding war with someone else maybe. You have more time to do that.” This enhanced timeline works on several levels. Those interested can view their favorite works under daylight and in the evening under the gallery lights. This affords fans significantly more time to try to battle other enthusiasts vying for a particular piece. In order to give an option to those who perhaps cannot lurk around a particular favorite, outbidding others, a “Take it Home Now” option has been added as a price point. At its core, the SlowRaiser is a way to keep the Sprinkler Factory growing. Funds from past events added a new gallery space and a performance area, the hope is the organization can continue to grow and offer more. Those participating in these fundraisers not only get to take home wonderful artwork, they get to directly support a gallery space they love. “It’s very touching, it really is,” said Fraire. “It’s an endorsement, we know how much time and effort can go into producing artwork. The fact that mocktails will be available during the day, with a they’re willing to part with their art to support beer and wine bar opening later in the evening. our efforts here, it’s great. The artwork continues As always, themed attire is welcomed. on. Someone purchases the art, first of all beThe real change is the pacing of the focus of cause they want it, but also I think because they the evening: the art donated by local artists that want to support the space and what we do here. aficionados can bid on in a silent auction. This It fulfills multiple functions.” year, well over 75 pieces have been donated by

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culture Pulling the thread? The mythology of James Dye




hen James Dye was awarded the Sally Bishop prize at the 2017 ArtsWorcester Biennial, he was excited. In the following 12 months, he kept his nose to paper, working tirelessly on the intricate, mythology-driven pieces that make up the ultimate component of the prize: Exploring the Myths of James Dye, his exhibition at the Worcester Art Museum through Sept. 2 this year. “It’s very overwhelming,” Dye said, arms crossed. “I feel like I’m sort of holding my breath. When Juliet [Feibel] from ArtsWorcester announced the winner, I was elated and then instantly overwhelmed and shocked. I could see the whole next year of my life mapped out.” Dye’s work is time consuming; larger pieces can take the artist more than three months to craft. When you step through the glass doors and into his show, it is easy to see why. Each line in his meticulously detailed — and visually intensive — work is crafted with incredible precision. “I spend a long time with my nose in the pieces. I don’t have a lot of human contact,” he explained. “The opening was pretty overwhelming, but I really like that people look at my work and walk away and then stop and come by. I like seeing people spend time trying to find everything.” Perhaps not even the artist himself could recount every hidden detail in his India ink drawings, and the work has a way of pulling you in, drawing you closer to the matted and framed pieces, scouring for some secret knowledge or clandestine element. “I think we all want to know what is going on. Isn’t everyone looking for hidden knowledge?” the artist asked, twirling a black leather notepad between his fingers. Dye is wearing his trademark black boots, jeans and tee shirt. He is standing beside his piece, “A Feast Beneath the God Stone,” a finely-crafted deluge of mythological references and labyrinthine storytelling. This piece, like much of his work, is simultaneously pointed in its imagery, but vague in its mystery. “I lifted a rock in my backyard when I was mowing my lawn,” he explained. “This wasn’t what I saw under the rock, but after three months of work, it sort of evolved and connections got made. I am always researching new things and learning new things, it’s pulling the thread and seeing where it goes.” Much of that research and knowledge can be attributed to his hunger for narrative, the written word and parallels in mythology, all interests that can be traced back to his youth. “I grew up in a house with a lot of books, reading was paramount,” said Dye. “My parents were both English majors. The importance of narrative, I learned that pretty early on. They were huge mythology buffs. There was a lot of Joseph Campbell.

I learned a lot about comparative mythology, how all these myths are sort of the same story being told over and over again with the same basic architecture. “By making a piece, I like to think I’m building upon that shared foundation and then I’m sort of creating my own world on top of it and speaking that language of myth. I try to have every piece have a story in it. Sometimes I have that story ahead of time, sometimes I write it as I’m drawing it.” Beneath glass, in the back half of the gallery housing Dye’s work are pieces of import from his lifetime as an artist. There is a drawing of a wolf

he crafted at 9 years old, with tail wrapped in a semicircle, an early Dye oroboros. In the corner, there are small symbols and the background is heavy and dark. Until being placed in the gallery, the piece hung at his parent’s house. Dye has come a long way since then, but the origins are impossible to ignore. While the individual pieces may combine figures and legends from mythology the world over, the artist doesn’t like to detail his work to viewers. He prefers they discover their own meaning while scanning his pen and ink drawings. “I don’t like to over explain any of it,” he said. “The idea is that I hope people come at it from M AY 17 - 23, 2018

that shared foundation and then everyone can find their own way through it and create the story from the few sign posts I’ve left them.” The stories in Dye’s work are much like the hidden keys scattered among the roiling figures of gods and men, mystery and arcanum: there for you to discover on your own. You can find more of James Dye’s work online at For more information about the Worcester Art Museum, head to and for more on ArtsWorcester, head to




Primal Waters SARA COGAN

Editor’s Note: This student art criticism is published by Worcester Magazine in partnership with ArtsWorcester and Clark University and is made possible by a grant from the Mellon Foundation.


ater constantly surrounds us, but how well do we understand the consequences of human interaction with it? Catherine Wilcox-Titus, photographer and professor of art history at Worcester State University, explores this relationship in our local waterways, in an exhibit currently on view at the Aurora Gallery at ArtsWorcester, 660 Main St. By magnifying and abstracting images of water, she mirrors how humans have altered local landscapes over the course of history. In her work, water is transformed into a completely alien subject, and viewers are compelled to evaluate the consequences of human interaction with nature. In “Primal Waters,” Wilcox-Titus presents a series of square-format photographs of water, abstracted through extreme magnification and framed in a soft black circle. In this manner she affects upon the water a strangeness that turns these swampy or icy landscapes, familiar to anyone in Massachusetts, into alien planets. With our perspective disrupted, these framed orbs recall satellite imagery of far distant planets or the super-magnified view of a scientific sample through a microscope. Her final works are muted in color and rich in the various textures that water can adopt. Wilcox-Titus is interested in the history and science of our local landscape. Her work engages with the precarious relationship between humans and nature and the harm they are capable of inflicting on each other. The historic struggle for a balanced ecosystem, invisible to an untrained eye, has always existed within the waters of Massachusetts. Wilcox-Titus draws inspiration from tension-filled histories, such as the draining of swamps and the effort to maintain wildlife stability in these reshaped, man-made landscapes. The degree to which Wilcox-Titus explicitly uses this conflict varies from image to image. She occasionally includes invasive species or pollen within the water to beg the questions: How is nature reacting to us? How are we, in turn, reacting to nature? “Paxton Spring Pollen,” a magnified image of pollen-polluted water, evokes the image of a scientific sample under a microscope. In this image the lack of visual evidence incites questions about what exists both within the image



Catherine Wilcox-Titus, “Paxton Spring Pollen,” digital archival print, 30 inches by 30 inches, 2017. and without. A light grey branch of pollen flows through the center of the image, surrounded by dark green water, and then snakes off into smaller, tangled streams. The soaked pollen has a tangible density. The water’s opacity suggests danger. By completely disconnecting us from the larger body of water we are forced to question not only what we see, but what we do not see. Where does this pollen come from and is it harmful? Other images include no obvious markers to these questions, but they persist, hidden beneath the surface, in every body of water. “Tatnuck Pond in Winter,” in its muted iciness, recalls imagery of the moon or a far distant ice planet. The only indication of geographic location comes from the title. Without any signifiers of scale within the image, the viewer is cut off from the M AY 17 - 23, 2018

scene and given no indication of the degree to which Wilcox-Titus has magnified it. Although it is clearly recognizable as an icy patch stretching from the top half to meet the snow resting in the bottom half, we do not know how far this ice stretches past the borders imposed onto it. A cut divides the picture horizontally and echoes the rings of Saturn. Craters exist in the lower plane of the photograph, potentially created by a child’s fingerprints in thinly-frosted ice or air escaping as cyclical freezing and thawing occurs in early winter. There exists a duality in these marks: the viewer can easily attribute them to myriad plausible causes, scientific or human. Yet the lack of perspective or scale in the photograph, constrained by the orb-like shape in deep black, allows the craters another, more

alien, reading. These could be the same as the craters on our moon. Interweaving science and art, Catherine Wilcox-Titus compels us to examine the relationship between humanity and nature, and to ask ourselves how humans continue to change local landscapes. The familiarity of water incites our immediate recognition, but simultaneously Wilcox-Titus’s skillful abstraction creates something visually arresting and startlingly alien. The soft gradient of the black border on these images calls us to imagine what lies beyond their edges, and to wonder at the potentiality of water to be so many things at once. Sara Cogan is from Orange County, NJ and is a senior at Clark University studying art history and asian studies.


Artist spotlight

Sue Dion: In her paintings, Sue Dion draws from two great American traditions: abstract

expressionism and plein air, painting outdoors. Dion invokes her thematic interests in human trafficking and servitude to her paintings, Her singular approach to the “lost edges” in abstraction communicate her intense focus on the marginalized, and in some of our most established tropes, awake our awareness of what is on the edges. The sweetness in her pastels or more saturated colors gives way to unexpected depths and darkness. Dion maintains two teaching studios, one in her hometown of Uxbridge and another in Worcester. You can find more of Dion’s work online at as well as at Complement’s Gallery in North Smithfield, Rhode Island and L’Attitudes Gallery in the SOWA District of Boston. M AY 17 - 23, 2018



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A GLUTTON FOR FUN-ISHMENT: It’s going to be one of those days, I’ll tell you

right now. I occasionally like to make little reminders for things folks may have missed, but if you weren’t at Sunday’s rock show at Ralph’s Diner, you messed up. Worcester’s Facepaint killed it as always and they played a few new jams which sounded awesome. I missed Bewitcher because I had to get into a political debate (it’s 2018, I don’t even really try to avoid them anymore), but Savage Master from Louisville, Ky. were exactly as awesome as I was told they would be. I know it’s easy to read some of my recommendations in this column and say to yourself, “‘Man, Lyford is a dumbass, no way I’m listening to him,’” but once in awhile you really should. Case in point, last Sunday’s show and Wednesday evening’s follow up with Eaten and Le Yikes Surf Club. You will have more chances to catch the mighty Facepaint, don’t miss out on them.

TAKE IT SLOW: I have to assume there are some people that flip to the back of the paper,

don’t read my entertainment articles and scan this column with their eyes firmly in the side-eye emoji position. That’s cool, I get it. I look in the mirror in the morning and say to myself, “Really, man?” every single day. For those of you who refuse to read the articles, however, here is a reminder about something I wrote about in-depth this week: the Sprinkler Factory art galleries do fantastic work and provide something to the community that I think is invaluable: an accessible art and performance space. With that said, their “SlowRaiser” is coming up this Saturday and you really should go. For you major art heads, this is a chance to take home some incredible work from amazing artists at a significantly more affordable price point than you usually could and for the rest of you, they are just always a lot of fun. If I don’t get too buzzed trying to relearn no-handers during the day, I will be there myself, making low bids and cursing myself for choosing a dying career path.

CLEANIN’ UP THE CITY: If I’m not mistaken, the last time Streetsweeper played

in Worcester, it was at the Worcide benefit last year. I probably am mistaken, so apologies ahead of time. I try to keep track of things, but that squishy stuff between my ears is basically bobbing in booze after 7 p.m. Regardless of the last time they played here, they’re back. They’ll be joined by Manic, Overgrowth, Black Palm and Scalp the Pioneer at the Hotel Vernon Saturday May 19. It’s only $10 and it ought to be a lot of fun. Plus, you can always sing Melissa Etheridge karaoke at Cafe Neo afterward down the street.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END: It always makes me sad seeing

good bands call it a day, but we all understand that these things happen, so I am here to give the best wishes to GNäRDS (pictured), who will be playing their last show at Ralph’s Diner on Wednesday, May 23. I can only assume the final show has been planned to give more time for guitarist Peter Camerato to cherry pick goals playing street hockey this summer. The show is only $5 and they will be joined by Permanent Makeup from St. Petersburg, Fla., Chemical Bags from Western Mass., and Jacob Berendes from somewhere.

PUT ON NOTICE: It occurs to me while guzzling coffee right now in the mid-morning

freeze of the office (seriously, it’s spring time people, why am I freezing. My dad would not be pleased with the air conditioning scenario in here) that I have never actually advertised the radio show my colleague Bill Shaner and I co-host. That’s a real shame, too, because it’s wild. It falls under the purview of the noon-1 p.m. Worcester Magazine Radio Hour on Unity Radio, but we take over on Fridays and we’ve been calling it the Bill and Josh Excellent Radio Adventure Hour, or something similar, it’s never really the same. You can listen on the radio at 102.9 FM, or online at worcestermagazine. com, as well as whatever radio app has the decency to make cool things happen. We start with our esteemed food and culture writer (and fellow columnist) Sarah Connell keeping us up to date (and explaining what a crostini is, more often than she’d like to admit) and devolve from there. It’s a lot of fun, we usually have some weird guests and we take any and all calls. Give us a call at 508-471-5265. I promise, it Joshua Lyford might be (could be, maybe won’t be) worth it.


Culture editor @Joshachusetts


M AY 17 - 23, 2018

culture Lifestyle SARAH CONNELL

Festival Season

The Regional Environmental Council’s Spring Garden Festival and Plant Sale will

own company and giving life back to a beautiful industrial space. It’s a daunting task to build a brewery from scratch, but with the ongoing support of the community, I’m looking forward to bringing ‘Worcester’s local culture’ to an even wider audience.”

take place on Sat., May 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Worcester Common Oval. Director of Programs Grace Silwoski shared, “We invite Worcester to come celebrate that spring is finally here by purchasing your spring seedlings at the REC Spring Garden Festival and Plant Sale. Proceeds from the sale allow REC to distribute 5,000 seedlings free of charge to the 62 community and school gardens in Worcester and support healthy food access and youth leadership in our city! This is our 9th annual sale and we are thrilled to be partnering with the City to host this event at the Worcester Common Oval.” The Regional Environmental Council’s Spring Mesa Farm will also provide a petting zoo again. In addition, the Garden Festival and Plant Sale will take place event includes face painting, Lilly Saturday, May 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the the mobile library, toddler read- Worcester Common Oval. ing groups, community dance PHOTO SUBMITTED performances, Kid STOMP, and Crocodile River Music.

Art in the Arboretum

Artist and educator Alice Mizrachi is back in town for the week to create an interactive “Mother Earth” mural with the students of Swanson Road Intermediate School in Auburn. A community celebration will mark the wall’s completion and encourage attendees to pose the humanities question: How do our habits currently and historically help or hurt our land? Mizrachi is known for engaging in site-specific community development projects across the country including her work “Maiden, Mother and Crone” painted in Worcester during the summer of 2016. Community members are welcome to join in the celebration at 10 Swanson Road, Auburn on Saturday, May 19, 12-2 p.m. in the arboretum. The Imperial Lion Dancers will provide entertainment and Teri Goulette of Say Cheese will be on hand for sustenance.

Operation Fermentation

As you well know, fermentation is in. Kimchi, pickles, miso, kombucha … we can’t get enough of those beautiful buzzing bacteria. Naturally, we were pleased by KrafTea Kombucha’s announcement this week that they have received federal and state licensure, allowing it to become an independent company. KrafTea Kombucha will take up residence in the historic Sprinkler Factory space this summer. Owner Matt Glidden said, “I’m thrilled to be starting my

Murphy Makes a Move

The DCU’s incubator eatery, Figs and Pigs, was never meant to be a permanent entity. Nonetheless, Figs and Pigs found a permanent place in the heart of the Commonwealth and the downtown set quickly grew attached to Chef Candy Murphy’s smiling face. Murphy reported this week she has accepted a position with Sodexo. Murphy shared, “I will be revamping an existing cafeteria on a commercial campus, turning it into a restaurant quality café for Sodexo.” We wish her all the best, though she will be dearly missed. The feeling is mutual. She said, “The experience opening and building Figs has been amazing, challenging and rewarding. The city and the DCU team have been so supportive. The café will continue to remain open with my staff and the help of the DCU management oversight. This was a very difficult decision. I am so thankful to the customers, staff and all the great people I have met along the way. I will miss them. I will be transitioning with the team over the next few weeks.”

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Sarah Connell contributing writer M AY 17 - 23, 2018




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am pleased to report that “burgers are the best medicine,” according to the team at The Fix Burger Bar. Turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I solemnly pledge that it’s nothing but bigger macs from here on out. We’re not talking about a greasy spoon situation; The Fix prides itself on local grinds and house-made sodas. But what they really excel at is volume. The sprawling industrial space regularly accommodates private functions for groups ranging from 10-200 at both lunch and dinner time. The crowd is family friendly and the service is rapid fire. The Fix offers over 40 toppings to design custom burgers, including the likes of sunnyside eggs, fried pickles, blue cheese, espresso bacon, and even seared foie gras. They take their Americana seriously. If by the grace of god, you landed a Burger-a-Day membership - then you already know this. Each of the 300 lucky Burger-a-Day card carrying members were appropriately guaranteed a burger with fries (or a salad bar meal for non-believers) every day for a year, just as long as they agreed to sit at the bar. The cost to join ran a measly $229, with an ultimate value of $5,415. I know at least one Worcesterite who admits he gained 15 pounds along his Burger-a-Day journey. It is my sincere hope that at least one college sophomore opted to join up rather than spring for a meal plan this year. The beer selection is approachable and includes local selections from Cold Harbor as well as farmhouse favorites from Oxbow. Variations on the old fashioned range from mad ( featuring Mad River maple cask rum) to bossy (have some single barrel Patron reposado tequila with your whiskey bitters). The spiked milkshakes are fun try Oreo and horchata. The Fix is just as much about the accoutrements as it is about the burgers. Start with handcut potato chips served with sour cream and onion dip ($5). Then, graduate to the fried pickles ($5) complete with crispy crinkles that cling to a fierce horseradish dipping sauce. The roasted garlic and feta hummus ($7) comes with a killer olive relish, but the pita is as dry as you might expect from a bar that specializes in burgers and serves Mediterranean starters as an afterthought. Servers won’t try to upsell you on Kobe-style grinds ($14) or grass-fed grinds ($11) unless you

The aptly-named crunchy burger arrives topped with fried prosciutto, parmesan crisp, potato chips, pungent mustard pickles, lettuce and garlic mayo. inquire about the difference. The aptly-named crunchy burger ($13) will come topped with fried prosciutto, parmesan crisp, potato chips, pungent mustard pickles, lettuce and garlic mayo. My favorite selection is the green chile burger ($13) topped with habanero cheddar, roasted poblano and jalapeño, fried corn tortilla strips, avocado, pico de gallo and red leaf lettuce. Liquids are superabundant. I would prefer they gave the greens a quick toss in the sauce, rather than slathering them straight onto the bun. The Fix’s sesame rolls are not hearty enough to absorb a burger’s juices without falling apart, so burger consumption by fork is inevitable but still tasty. The massive brick building holds a lot of memories for longtime residents of Worcester who recollect Northworks as an industrial hub with a rich history. Carpets have been upended for hardwoods, but the rustic charm and integrity of the space remain intact. Some of the chalkboarding is startling, including what appears to be Boss Tweed devouring a splurge burger. Still, the professional chalkboarding is appreciated. The Fix is an excellent restaurant for families with young children, large groups of colleagues, and friends hoping to score a table outside on a sunny afternoon. Guests will find the service polished and accommodating no matter the size of their party. On my last trip to The Fix with seven companions, our bill came to $306.80.

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culture Some villains are out of sight JIM KEOGH

... You just need an appetite! the victims can continue living in plain sight, practically shoulder to shoulder with their tormentors. So there can be no mistakes. The movies have had their share of blind heroes. Sightless Audrey Hepburn held off a trio of drug dealers in her apartment in 1967’s “Wait Until Dark.” Ben Affleck’s Daredevil lost his vision as a child, but accrued other powers that allowed him to battle criminals. Jamie Foxx brought legendary jazzman Ray Charles to bluesy life. My favorite of all may be Rutger Hauer in 1989’s “Blind Fury,” in which he plays a blinded Vietnam veteran/master sword fighter who rescues the missing son of a fellow soldier. The movie is goofy enough to offer no plausible


hen I was about 12 years old, a scandalous double feature arrived at the Park Cinema in my hometown of Cranston, R.I. The Park was the second-run neighborhood movie theater, and played all kinds of loveable shlock. I watched Charles Bronson kill many men there. There is no way to describe the excitement surrounding the pairing of “Mark of the Devil” and “Tombs of the Blind Dead.” Connoisseurs of 1970s horror movies are largely familiar with the notorious “Mark of the Devil,” the saga of fanatical witch hunters in 18th-century Austria. It was billed as “Positively the Most Horrifying Film Ever Made,” and that was just for the acting. The bloody torture scenes were pretty bad, too. The second movie on the bill was a littleknown Spanish import, but for sheer terror it outpaced “Mark” in just about every horror metric (in my memory, anyway). The film involved a band of 13th-century knights known as the Templars, who were executed for unholy deeds, like drinking human blood and committing sacrifices in a quest for eternal life. Their mutilated bodies were left hanging from trees, their eyes plucked out and eaten by crows. Flash forward to modern day, when a group of young people stumble upon the Templars’ graves. Powered by the youthful energy in the midst, the corpses reanimate, mount their ghostly horses, and silently pursue their prey across the landscape. Since they are blind, the knights can only track their quarry by listening for the merest of sounds, including the petrified kids’ pounding heartbeats. I thought of “Tombs” while watching “A Quiet Place,” John Krasinski’s masterful depiction of a family navigating life after the invasion of earth by an army of sightless aliens. The creatures’ hyper-acute hearing allows them to hunt by sound, forcing the family to work and play silently, communicate with sign language, and pull off the quietest labor and delivery of a baby in human history. Their blindness makes the aliens even more frightening than if they had 20-20 vision, because

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~ Listen Live Every Weekday ~ explanation for Hauer’s ability to “see” his opponents, and you don’t even care. But blind villains make an especially cruel lot. The T-Rex in “Jurassic Park” was so myopic he could only pick up on moving objects. Sam Neill figured this out in a memorable scene where he stood perfectly still as the dinosaur sniffed all around him before blowing off his hat with a mighty snort. Brad Pitt made essentially the same discovery about zombies in “World War Z.” Stay silent, don’t move, wait them out. If you can keep our heart from beating wildly, so much the better. Jim Keogh contributing writer


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Contact: to share your story, community event or set up a time to talk about fashioning an underwriting message for you. M AY 17 - 23, 2018



culture Through Sunday, May 20 THE KING AND I

The Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge St. The wonderful Lincoln Center Theater production, directed by Bartlett Sher, heads to The Hanover Theatre. The fan favorite is set in 1860s Bangkok and tells the musical tale of an unconventional love.

Thursday, May 17 2018 Worcester Armenian Film Festival The Sprinkler Factory, 38 Harlow St. The fifth annual Armenian Film Festival kicks off at The Sprinkler Factory with a collection of short films presented by The Sprinkler Factory and the Worcester Hamazkayin chapter.


The Raven, 258 Pleasant St. Local teen rock bands get together for the 2nd Annual Teens Rock Worcester show. Bands include Playing With Fire, Live the Illusion, Quixotic Monks and AMPP Worcester, a partnership with the Worcester Police Department and Straight Ahead Project.

Saturday, May 19 9TH ANNUAL REC SPRING GARDEN FESTIVAL & PLANT SALE Worcester City Hall and Common, 455 Main St. With more than 10,000 seedlings available to purchase, the Garden Festival & Plant Sale features live performances, food trucks and more.

Friday, May 18 Dan Burke

Nick’s Worcester, 124 Millbury St. The prolific Worcester musician returns to Nick’s Worcester.

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M AY 17 - 23, 2018


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culture Friday, May 18 LEANING INTO THE WIND & FIGS & PIGS


Worcester PopUp, 20 Franklin St. The prolific British natural artist Andy Goldsworthy is celebrated in this documentary by Thomas Riedelsheimer, accompanied by food provided by Figs & Pigs.

Tsotsis Family Academic Center Performance Hall, Assumption College, 500 Salisbury St. Presented by The Salisbury Singers, Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s long list of work is paid homage to.


DCU Center, 50 Foster St. The WWE returns to the DCU Center with Smackdown, this time around with a double main event featuring AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Daniel Bryan, Jeff Hardy, The Miz and Big Cass.

Prime Rib served every Mechanics Hall, 321 Main St. Friday & A Worcester Youth Orchestra presentation of two commissions and a performance of Saturday Choral Finale to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Sunday May 20 70TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT: BEETHOVEN SYMPHONY NO. 9

“Ode to Joy.” The Worcester Youth Orchestra is celebrating 70 years of music.

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Daily Specials M AY 17 - 23, 2018 Our upper level deck and lower level patio ARE OPEN! Free Valet Friday & Saturday WORCESTERMAGAZINE.COM


sports p Bravehearts want to be ‘Disney World of Worcester’ WALTER BIRD JR.

World of Worcester, in terms of trying to make it the happiest place in our t first blush, Hanover Insurance community, so families are leaving with smiles on their faces wanting to come Park at Fitton Field doesn’t back for more,” owner John Creedon have a whole lot, if anything, in common with Disney World. No Jr. said a few weeks out from opening night Wednesday, May 30. Splash Mountain. No Mayday Falls. No Part of what goes into that, he and Star Wars rides. Why, then, did the owner and general General Manager Dave Peterson said, manager of the Worcester Bravehearts, is making sure the people who work at who play their Futures Collegiate Base- the ballpark feel like they’re part of the team, so they in turn make customers ball League games at “The Hip,” as it is feel special. In that regard, they said, known, take a behind-the-scenes-tour Disney World is a good model. of Disney World over the winter to see “Every single person that works in how it is run? “We talk about the Worcester Brave- that park, regardless of your role, you hearts being the summertime Disney C O N T I N U E D O N N E XT PA G E


College sports Baseball

Holy Cross May 18 @ Championship Series May 19 @ Championship Series May 20 @ Championship Series

Men’s Track & Field

Nichols May 17 @ MIT Final Qualifier, Cambridge Worcester State May 18 @ MIT Last Chance Meet May 23 vs. NCAA DIII Championships @ La Crosse, Wis. WPI May 18 @ MIT Last Chance Meet, 6 p.m.

Women’s Track & Field

Worcester State May 18 @ MIT Last Chance Meet May 23 vs. NCAA DIII Championships @ La Crosse, Wis. WPI May 18 @ MIT Last Chance Meet, 6 p.m.

Worcester Smiles vs. Rochester Lancers Sunday, May 20 Kick-Off: 5pm Tickets: Student Discounts Available

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Numbers game: Bravehearts look to boost attendance WALTER BIRD JR.


hile fans who show up to Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field see the fruits of the Worcester Bravehearts’ labor on game day, the work to make it all happen started long before then. By the time opening night 2018 rolls around, months will have been spent getting ready for the season. When fans interact with employees, they will be dealing with people who have been well-schooled in what they do. That the fans themselves are even at the ballpark will be the result of a carefully-executed plan to make sure they not only want to come to a game, but they have the time of their lives while there. This year, if General Manager Dave Peterson has his way, a historic number of fans will make their way through “The HIP,” as it is known. “This is going to be up over 2,500 fans a night,” he said, a few weeks out from the first game of the year Wednesday, May 30 against the defending FCBL champion Nashua Silver Knights. “We’re going to do it. Get ready.” Actually, Peterson’s aim is an average of 2,600 fans per game. That, he said, is the record for baseball attendance in Worcester, held by the 2006 incarnation of the now-defunct Worcester Tornadoes, for whom he used to work. The Bravehearts, who consistently rank near or at the top of the league in attendance, currently average about 2,350 fans a night, with their numbers going up each year. How will they top it? Remaining competitive, for starters. In each of their first four years of existence, the Bravehearts have reached the championship series, winning it twice — in 2014

ballpark with us the following summer.” “We don’t sit around and wait for the phone to ring,” he continued. “You may have gotten a call at your own house. Maybe we called you in the middle of dinner. We have a systematic outreach approach with our sales team to get in touch with schools, churches, little leagues, karate and and 2015, years one and two. The other method dance studios, nonprofits. Those are really our comes from behind the scenes. core groups for selling 30, 40, 50 tickets at a time.” “We’re in the midst of something that was The team has been pre-selling the games since born in November,” Peterson said. “That’s when January, Peterson said. we hire a staff, come up with promotion ideas As team owner John Creedon Jr. explains it, and put together a systematic outreach approach the Bravehearts, if they are fortunate enough to so we can make sure we’re doing everything we can internally to invite people share a night at the return to the playoffs for a fifth straight year (the

team has made the postseason in each of its four years in the league, twice winning the championship), it will have played roughly 30 or so games at home. “You figure the average ballgame is probably not more than three hours,” he said. “We’ve basically got 90 hours of showtime to really kind of make an impact. We basically put in a full-time effort, year-round, into 90 hours worth of showtime. We’re trying to fill the house as often as we can, so we can share the ballpark experience with as many people as we can.”

‘ D I S N E Y W O R L D’

The Score


are a cast member,” said Peterson, who with Creedon had gone to Orlando, Fla. for baseball’s winter meetings. “Walt Disney World refers to every single employee as cast members. That is a very powerful message we want to send to our staff. When you are working for the Bravehearts, you are a team member. “We’re not just talking about the people wearing uniforms, playing baseball. We’re talking about the people serving fried dough, parking the cars, maybe walking people to cars when it’s raining. These are the people that are consoling the crying child who just dropped his or her ice cream on the concourse.” The staff, or team members, as Peterson referred to them, are trained to recognize and leave those situations “so the person you’re talking with is smiling.” As for the more enchanting and exciting aspects of Disney World, well, the Bravehearts may not have an Epcot Center, but as both Peterson and Creedon have said on many occasions, a Bravehearts game is a lot more than the on-field product, which by the way has been pretty spectacular. The team, heading into its fifth year in the FCBL, has reached the championship series

in each of its first four years, capturing the title twice - in 2014 and 2015. But the fan and family experience has been and remains the emphasis. To that end, kids may not be able to hop on a roller coaster, but there is a kids zone with bouncy houses at every home game, fireworks displays after some games, pie eating contests and, perhaps most unique, a chance for children to run across the ballfield during each game in Worcester. The Bravehearts are big on promotions and specially-themed game nights to attract fans and this year will be no different, according to Peterson. For the opening night game against the defending FCBL champs, the Nashua Silver Knights, the team will welcome New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, himself a former baseball player at the University of Memphis, where he ended up kicking his way into the NFL. He will help toss fifth anniversary t-shirts into the stands. Other celebrities will be brought in during the year, Peterson said. Several promotions are lined up this summer, including the return of Worcester Railers Night, which sees the Bravehearts team up with the city’s newest professional hockey team. Another night will see the team change its name to either the Table Talk Pies or the Coney Island Hot Dogs, courtesy of an online fan contest. M AY 17 - 23, 2018

Massachusetts Pirates

May 12 The Pirates needed overtime to notch their fifth win of the season, a wild, 44-43 victory over the Maine Mammoths at home at the DCU Center in Worcester. The win gave the Pirates sole possession of first place. (Upcoming: The Pirates return to the scene of their only loss of the season Saturday, May 19 to take on the Carolina Cobras.)

Worcester Smiles

May 12 The Worcester Smiles lost their inaugural United Women’s Soccer game, 1-0, to the New York Surf at Commerce Insurance Field at Foley Stadium in Worcester. (Upcoming: The Smiles play at home again Sunday, May 20 against the Rochester Lancers. Game starts at 5 p.m.)

Round-Up Worcester’s Jamaine Ortiz improved to 9-0 as a professional boxer, with a third-round TKO over Tyrone Luckey Friday, May 11 at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I. Another Worcester fighter, Jake Paradise, lost for the second time in two pro fights, losing a TKO to Leandro Da Silva. WORCESTERMAGAZINE.COM


Adoption option Welcome to Adoption Option, a partnership with the Worcester Animal Rescue League, highlighting their adoptable pets. Check this space often to meet all of the great pets at WARL in need of homes. WARL is open seven days a week, noon-4 p.m., 139 Holden St. Check them out online at, or call at 508-853-0030.


This is Baby Kitty. He needs a name change to help boost his confi-

dence. His family couldn’t take him along when they moved. At the shelter, he’s a scaredy-cat, hiding in his cubby hole. Baby Kitty is a gentle boy who responds well to gentle voices and petting. He got along well with the cats and dogs in his home. He would probably adjust to quiet kids who move slowly around him. The ideal home for Baby Kitty would be one with an older cat who will nurture him and an understanding family who will coax him to explore his new home.



M AY 17 - 23, 2018

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games “The Curly Shuffle”--it’s stylin’ in each theme answer. by Matt Jones

JONESIN’ Across 1 Collaborative website 5 Not as many 10 Sign-___ (farewells) 14 Like fine whiskeys 15 Up and about 16 Sci-fi royal 17 Naomi Campbell or Cindy Crawford, e.g. 19 It might be hammered out 20 Chips go-with 21 Tooth material 23 Article from France 24 Channel with “Wheel of Fortune” repeats 27 “Respect for Acting” author Hagen 28 Primus frontman Claypool 31 Chute opening? 33 It’s a real grind at dinner? 36 Finnish Olympic runner Nurmi 38 Wireless company named after a Finnish city 39 Top of the corporate ladder 44 Practiced 45 Swashbuckler who left his initial as a mark 46 Place to extract some chalcopyrite 49 Business reps. 53 Start of many Quebec place names 54 Opposite of old, in German 55 Pasture mom 57 British isle that sounds like a number 58 Ending of many nonprofit URLs 61 Old voting machine part 63 Box office event 65 2001 Nintendo video game with a really thin premise? 68 Dot on a state map 69 Mushroom in miso soup 70 Holed, as a putt 71 Lion lairs 72 Star-___ mole 73 “___ quam videri” (North Carolina’s motto) Down 1 “Hey, how’s it going?” 2 Pet lizard 3 Astronomer Johannes 4 March middle 5 Direct relatives, slangily


6 “Mr. Blue Sky” band 50 “Z” director Costa-___ 7 Expansive 51 Advertising promos of sorts 8 Balance 52 Minigolf motion 9 Be sympathetic 56 State tree of North Dakota 10 “Ye ___ Shoppe” 59 Possesses 11 Prefer 60 Mailing centers, for short 12 Ominous sight in shark movies 62 Facilitate 13 Took to the couch 63 Pt. of PST 18 Dusting item 64 Long-handled farm tool 22 “Silas ___” (George Eliot novel) 66 Make do, with “out” 25 Email that gets filtered 67 Relieve 26 Cal ___ Resort & Casino (Lake Tahoe property once co-owned by Frank Sinatra) Last week's solution 29 Tiger Woods’s ex Nordegren 30 Bed frame piece 32 “Not ___ out of you!” 34 Guy with an eponymous scheme 35 Jason who plays Aquaman 37 Impassioned 39 Lines at the checkout? 40 Scheme 41 “Quiet!” 42 Top quality 43 Sprung up 47 Come back after renovation 48 Nissan SUV named for a ©2018 Jonesin’ Crosswords ( Reference puzzle #884 suburb of Venice


M AY 17 - 23, 2018

Fun By The Numbers Like puzzles? Then you’ll love sudoku. This mind-bending puzzle will have you hooked from the moment you square off, so sharpen your pencil and put your sudoku savvy to the test! Here’s How It Works: Sudoku puzzles are formatted as a 9x9 grid, broken down into nine 3x3 boxes. To solve sudoku, the numbers 1 through 9 must fill each row, column and box. Each number can appear only once in each row, column and box. You can figure out the order in which the numbers will appear by using the numeric clues already provided in the boxes. The more numbers you name, the easier it gets to solve the puzzle!

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Commonwealth of Massachusetts The Trial Court Probate and Family Court Worcester Probate and Family Court 225 Main St. Worcester, MA 01608 Docket No. WO18P1423GD CITATION GIVING NOTICE OF PETITION FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN FOR INCAPACITATED PERSON PURSUANT TO G.L. c. 190B, §5-304 In the matter of: Clarissa C Pruitt Of: Worcester, MA RESPONDENT Alleged Incapacitated Person To the named Respondent and all other interested persons, a petition has been filed by Department of Developmental Services of Worcester, MA in the above captioned matter alleging that Clarissa C Pruitt is in need of a Guardian and requesting that TLC Trust, Inc by Gayle R Greene of Fitchburg, MA (or some other suitable person) to appointed as Guardian to serve Without Surety on the bond. The petition asks the court to determine that the Respondent is incapacitated, that the appointment of a Guardian is necessary, and that the proposed Guardian is appropriate. The petition is on file with this court and may contain a request for certain specific authority. You have the right to object to this proceeding. If you wish to do so, you or your attorney must file a written appearance at this court on or before 10:00 A.M. on the return date of 06/05/18. This day is NOT a hearing date, but a deadline date by which you have to file the written appearance if you object to the petition. If you fail to file the written appearance by the return date, action may be taken in this matter without further notice to you. In addition to filing the written appearance you or your attorney must file a written affidavit stating the specific facts and grounds of your objection within 30 days after the return date. IMPORTANT NOTICE The outcome of this proceeding may limit or completely take away the above-named person’s right to make decisions about personal affairs or financial affairs or both. The above-named person has the right to ask for a lawyer. Anyone may make this request on behalf of the above-named person. If the above-named person cannot afford a lawyer, one may be appointed at State expense. WITNESS, Hon. Leilah A Keamy, First Justice of this Court. Date: May 02, 2018 Stephanie K Fattman Register of Probate 05/17/18 WM

M AY 17 - 23, 2018



last call Simon Eber “Kid President” L ast weekend, I joined Simon Eber at the Table Talk Pie Store as he and a crew of youth volunteers filled 300 backpacks with supplies, which will soon be distributed to Worcester Public Schools students. Eber is the “kid president” of Simon Says Give — Worcester, a nonprofit organization dedicated to kids celebrating kids. Simon Says Give engages youth volunteers by aiming to create a new generation of leaders across the nation. Founder Mandi Simon launched this valueoriented charity in 2011 at the young age of 7 in her home state of Minnesota. Eber has followed her lead, taking Simon Says Give to new heights by spearheading efforts to assemble middle school backpack and school supplies to at-need students in addition to providing birthday parties for Worcester’s youth.


How did you join forces with Table Talk Pies? The Learning Hub helped introduce us to Caitlin Enck, that’s how we got this space today. We also work with the Learning Hub for birthday parties. They help out and they organize an activity. They’ve helped us plan painting at birthday parties hosted by C.C. Lowell. I do the painting, too, but it’s not very pretty. One was supposed to be a starry night and the sky looked like fried eggs. That’s not the effect we were going for. I hear your own birthday party was quite the affair, your father being a food writer and all. Will you share where you went? I like to call it our restaurant crawl, but as my dad says, “It’s a progressive dinner.” So basically, a few of my friends and I went out to four different restaurants. We went to simjang, Kummerspeck, deadhorse hill and B.T.’s Smokehouse. Then, we went back to our house for a cake from the Queen’s Cups. The reason I wanted a Queen’s Cup cake is I love them and because they give us all the cakes for the birthday parties we throw through Simon Says Give.

Where do you go to school? I’m a freshman at Saint John’s. I went to Worcester Public Schools before that, from kindergarten through eighth grade. I went to middle school at Forest Grove, whose backpacks we are packing right now. We customized each bag based on where they’re going to school, their choice of color and the exact supplies they will need. We will hand almost all of them directly to a graduating sixth-grade student in June. Who donated the backpacks? We’ve raised the money through individual donations, mostly via Facebook and CrowdRise. I asked for donations for my birthday and my dad asked for donations for his 50th birthday. The Wine Vine held a wine tasting fundraiser for us, and we received grants from Bay State, Webster Five, DCU and Cornerstone. In total, we raised $10,000 to do this.

by pure chance. We did not think any of this was going to happen so soon. We thought we would be this year where we were last year. But we were out at Dacosta’s and we saw the principal of Columbus Park, Siobhan Dennis. She told us that some of the teachers at Columbus Park were taking money out of How did you initially get involved with their own salaries to give students birthday the Simon Says Give organization? My How did you work with the schools to parties. So my dad and I looked at each other dad met Mandi and her mother at a conferfigure out what they need? We would email ence. He came to me, I was like 12 years old, and said, “We can totally help with that.” And the principals of the middle schools to get a we started doing birthday parties. That was and he said, “You want to start this?” I said, supply list. And then we work with the princi- “I’ll think about it.” And I did a 12-year-old in February 2017 and we threw our first party pals and teachers at the elementary schools to think-about-it and forgot about it. But then, as in April of that year. And then from there we figure out where the students would be going part of my Bar Mitzvah there was a charitable talked with Dr. Dennis and decided it was a to school. A problem we actually ran into is good step to do the backpacks. We did 160 component. This time when my dad came that a lot of middle schools don’t have supply backpacks last year, mostly for the students back to me with the idea of Simon Says Give, lists, because they know there are a lot of stu- I said yes. And I was super excited. We really at Columbus Park, Woodland Academy and dents who don’t exactly have the funds to buy started working in 2017. But all of this started Midland. This year we added Goddard and



Lincoln Street and are doing 300 backpacks. We also took into account that Worcester is school choice and not all kids from an elementary school go to the same middle school. So we made sure each student gets the right school’s supply list.

what they’ll need, and they don’t want to put families in an uncomfortable situation. So, we worked with the schools to put together lists just for us based on what teachers thought students would need.

M AY 17 - 23, 2018

What is your vision moving forward for Simon Says Give? My goal is to do 500 backpacks next year and 30 birthday parties this year. I’m a freshman right now in high school. My junior year, I’d like to step down as president and have a younger student take over and then it continues. The idea is to leave a legacy here in Worcester, because I don’t want it to live and die with me and my dad. I want it to get to the point where at the beginning of every year, teachers say, “You’re getting a backpack from Simon Says Give,” and it’s like a lasting Worcester charity. — Sarah Connell




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Worcester Magazine May 17 - 23, 2018  

Charlton's 'Dirty Little Secret' The Long Haul for Clean Water

Worcester Magazine May 17 - 23, 2018  

Charlton's 'Dirty Little Secret' The Long Haul for Clean Water