Ashburnham Girl Scouts protest town’s decision to remove memorial to scout who died of cancer

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ASHBURNHAM — The Ashburnham Girl Scouts are planning to protest the Select Board’s recent decision to remove a memorial to a scout whose life was cut short by cancer.

The protest, which was organized through a Facebook group, is scheduled to take place outside of Town Hall this Friday at 4 p.m.

In 2016, the Ashburnham Girl Scouts constructed a memorial in Winchester Park to honor the life of Kate Arpano, a 6-year-old Daisy Scout who passed away from Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare, incurable form of brain cancer.

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Courtesy Photo/Legacy.com: Katherine M. Arpano.

Ashburnham’s Select Board recently voted unanimously (3-0) to remove the memorial.

According to Marilyn Orange, an Ashburnham resident whose daughters are in the Girl Scouts, the town decided to remove the memorial to add parking spots with charging stations for electric cars. She added that the town did not notify the community that the vote was going to take place.

“No one in the community, Girl Scouts, or the family of Kate Arpano were notified that this vote was taking place,” wrote Orange in an email to News Link Live. “It appears from the response on social media that many are outraged at this decision and would like further explanation and to see this memorial remain in the park that Kate loved so much.”

According to Orange, when one of the Service Leader’s caught wind of the Select Board’s decision, she was told that the decision to remove the memorial was final, but members of the community can discuss the removal during the open comment section of a Select Board meeting in Town Hall on Aug. 8.

Leo Janssens II, a member of the Select Board, said he voted to take down the monument because it was never meant to be a permanent structure in the park.

“Why did I vote to take it down, simple, it was never supposed to be permanent. I was on the Board in 2016 when we allowed it to be erected at the 3-7-2016 meeting to be taken down by October of 2016,” wrote Janssens II in an email to News Link Live. “The Girl Scouts approached then TA [town administrator] Doug Briggs and it was discussed under the TA’s report at the 10-03-2016 meeting to extend it for the winter. The minutes reflect it was voted to stay up. The video shows it was requested to stay up for the winter. The intent was never to make it permanent and it should have been removed years ago.”

Janssens added, “Once the vote is taken it is official. Now it’s a matter of taking it down.”

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