Archive 2008 - 2019

America in Bloom Judges Day Two

by Paul Saulnier & Cherry Fenton

Kathy and Mark told Kristin Pategas and Jack Clasen all about the two year project that included construction of a new sidewalk, granite curbing, fences, new retaining walls and repairs to existing retaining walls that are now being decorated with murals by local artists Samantha and Madeline Tate.

What was a totally uninviting space has been turned into a beautiful garden and a safe walkway from the municipal parking lot to the stores on Central and Washington Streets. All this was the result of a collaborative effort between town government, local businesses and the HIB volunteers.

Fire Chief Michael Cassidy told the judges about the planters that the Garden Club maintains at the entrance to the station.

Next stop on the tour was the entrance to the Rail Trail at Blair Square. Robert Weidknecht gave the judges a detailed review of the trials and pitfalls of working with the many organizations and corporations. The good news was that papers were scheduled to be signed that afternoon to purchase the last section of trail.

Chryso Lawless was on hand with the HCAT film crew to interview the judges and film them for an upcoming Heartbeat of Holliston show.

The judges visited the Covanta Transfer Station in East Holliston. Tonya MacKenzie, Environmental Specialist for Covanta, above right, described the many facets of operating a transfer station that handles construction demolition and municipal waste. Since Covanta bought the site, they have done a great job of improving all environmental aspects of the operations. Covanta has installed sound deadening in the open buildings to reduce the noise to residents behind the buildings. A water mist is sprayed on the waste to reduce dust as the material is dumped from small trucks and loaded into larger trucks. Building roof runoff is now collected and directed to underground chambers to recharge the groundwater.

Rainwater that falls on the property is collected through catch basins with filters on top to catch debris before it enters the system. The rain water then flows to the basin shown above where it runs through a series of treatment tanks that clean the water even further before it is discharged into Dopping Brook nearby. A sophisticated protocol is in place to detect and separate radioactive waste and store it for proper disposal. Workers are sent out to pick up any debris which might fall from trucks coming to the facility.

The entire operation is inspected regularly and reports are filed with the Board of Health.


Continuing an environmental theme to the morning tour, the judges learned that Holliston is served by seven gravel wells that are recharged by rain and the water that passes through our septic system. The Board of Health encourages residents to install systems that reduce pollutants in order to protect our groundwater. Many residents have installed innovative/alternative systems like the one shown above. In addition to removing Nitrogen and other pollutants, these systems have the added advantage of reducing/eliminating the mound associated with the new Title 5 regulations. With drip lines just a few inches below the surface, this treated wastewater also waters the flower garden, especially appreciated by the judges. They awarded the owner with an Instant Bloom Award (below).

Last stop on the environmental tour was a visit to the "beaver deceiver" in Wenakeening Woods off Summer Street. The judges learned how the deceiver keeps the impoundments created by the beavers from getting so big that they flood abutting property and septic systems. It is a better long term solution to the beaver problem than trapping them as other beavers just move into the open territory and continue to build and rebuild the dams.

Cherry Fenton's report and photos complete the judges' activities for the day:

In the afternoon, HIB and judges listened to Deb Moore talk about the history of the golf course and how it went from a single dilapidated structure to two buildings – the beautiful clubhouse

and a separate maintenance building, the formation of the advisory board, the pond, the practice range and how the town's owning the golf course saves the town money on fees for the high school team and seniors. 

Following the narrative, the judges and HIB members drove through the course to view the pond, memorial trees, decorative snack bar, and near a few holes on the course. Mark Ahronian mistook his golf cart to be a bumper car.

The judges were impressed with the big floral display along Prentice Street as well as the lush planters at the clubhouse and on the course.  Watch for an interview at Pinecrest by HCAT with Deb Moore.

Then the group travelled to the Community Garden where HIB members Justin Brown and PJ Kilkelly, also members of AgCom, spoke about the humble beginnings of the AgCom Community Garden and how it is completely rented out for 2015. 

Rita Bell, one of the gardeners who has a plot, talked about how she enjoys having a plot so she is able to grow vegetables and flowers.  PJ mentioned that the Butterfly Aviary just opened two weeks ago and everyone went inside to take a tour.  

Everyone was given a flat, triangular box to hold and Grace Kilkelly, PJ’s daughter, read an Irish blessing. 

Then everyone was given the signal to open the boxes simultaneously whereupon a monarch butterfly flew out much to everyone’s surprise and delight. 

PJ said that New Guinea hens will be released into the aviary soon to help control the number of caterpillars that have emerged.  Without natural predators in the aviary, the number of caterpillars is unusually high and the plants are getting eaten more quickly than anticipated.

Those members of the HIB that were able to attend the reception for the judges on Thursday night posed for a picture. The Mayor wore new sandals for the occasion.

Watch for more about the AIB competition on the HIB Facebook page:  and web site:

Comments (4)

Beautiful job done by Mark and Kathy and all the Holliston in Bloom members!

Susan Russo | 2015-07-28 12:11:24

Paul- I want your septic system- what beautiful flowers! Thanks for the great coverage of HIB. Chryso

Chryso Lawless | 2015-07-26 15:41:56

Mark and Linda Ahronian were awarded Instant Blooms by the judges for their gardens and for their community involvement. Congrats from all the HIB PHDs.

Paul | 2015-07-26 11:37:25

Nice articles Paul, and Cherry, Can't thank Paul enough for leading Holliston's environmental effert for our judges. Congrats. On your spot award ! Well deserved.

Mark Ahronian | 2015-07-26 06:00:46