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February 1999

Vol. 8, No. 2


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CALENDAR

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 6:30 p.m.: Opera at the Becket School.  All are welcome.  Call for details (623-8757).

BASKETBALL, SKATING GET UNDERWAY

Weather permitting--which it has not to date--the Becket Fire Department will flood the area by the Becket Town Hall for skating.  Recent ice storms produced plenty of ice, but much of it was not appropriate for ice skaters.  (The Washington Town Park actually made for some good, flat skating, but at press time, it was covered in snow.)

Basketball for second through eighth graders will get underway toward the end of February.  Practice will be held on Thursdays at the Becket School gym for fourth graders (5 to 6 p.m.), fifth graders (6 to 7 p.m.) and sixth, seventh and eighth graders (7 p.m.), all coached by Dave Weiler and Brian Bacon.  Second and third graders will practice on Tuesdays (5 to 6 p.m.) coached by Dave Drugmand.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS FOR 01235ers

February 27 is the day when 01235ers become 01223ers.  According to Postmistress Ellen Young, the post office will be sending a letter to all affected explaining what to do.  (The letter is somewhat delayed, says Young, because the first version was confusing and she sent it back to headquarters for revisions.)  Young says all mail will be delivered indefinitely regardless of zip code, but she recommends notifying credit card companies and other “important” parties of the change as soon as possible. 

SAND & SALT IN HEAVY USE

The January ice storms have put a serious dent in the Town’s sand supply: 830 tons of sand were used (70 by residents), representing half a year’s supply, according to Highway Superintendent Craig Willis.  Last year at this time, the DPW had used 900 tons, so we’re right on schedule in spite of the mild beginning to the winter.  About 90 tons of salt have been used, a little less than half of the 200 tons usually used in a winter. 

It’s the ice, of course.  “Ice makes a big difference,” says Willis.  “When the temperature drops from 40 degrees to 20 degrees in one hour, nothing works!  I’d rather have a foot or two of snow.”  The road crew brought out the grader with ice blades to scrape off some of the six inches of ice on Washington Mountain and Blotz Roads.  It’s slow, difficult work, and Willis commends residents for their patience throughout the slippery weather.

ASSISTANT TO ASSESSORS SOUGHT

The Board of Assessors, though hoping to find a third assessor, is in the market for an assistant to do clerical work preferably on Monday evenings but possibly during the day.  The position will be paid on an hourly basis. Interested parties should contact Michael Dargi (623-5328).

Meanwhile, Town Clerk Michele Beemer is still looking for a new assistant to help out on Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m.  The position is volunteer, but a good training ground for the position of Town Clerk which is paid.  Interested persons should contact Beemer either at home (623-6677) or at Town Hall on Monday evenings.

TOLL-FREE LINE, BUDGET IN THE WORKS

According to Washington School Committee representative Jan Huebner, a toll-free number to call both Nessacus and Wahconah is in the works even though the issue has not yet made it before the School Committee.  The number will cover the 623 and 243 exchanges. 

Of greater concern to many is the budget process which Huebner characterizes as “grueling.”  “We’re locked into the 3%,” she says.  “We’ve been cutting back in so many areas and it’s not doing it.  Building maintenance keeps getting short-changed.  We’ve been using a Band-Aid approach for too long.”  She notes that the district is under increasing pressure as “the State is holding districts accountable for building maintenance and curriculum.” 

Now is the time, says Huebner, for people to give input into the budget process.  February 11 is the date set for adoption by the School Committee of a tentative budget.  People who have concerns should come to that meeting to make their voices heard.  (Call the District offices for the location of the meeting: 684-0320.)

STATE COMMENDS WASH TREASURER

In a letter from Judy Luca (Assistant Director, Bureau of Accounts), the Massachusetts Department of Revenue’s Division of Local Services congratulated Sandra Brazee, Treasurer and Accounting Officer, for her “excellent submission of Washington’s FY 98 Schedule A.”  As has been previously noted, the Schedule A is a complicated and cumbersome set of forms geared more for municipalities than small towns.  Brazee’s excellent work was commended as well by the Selectmen.

AT THE TRANSFER STATION

Selectman William Cawley reminds people to bag or box donations so that they will be able to make the trip to Pittsfield in one piece.  A recent donation of china was in a weak box that collapsed in the back of his truck, breaking several pieces. 

Rhodora “Cubby” LaFogg urges residents to be more careful when sorting plastic and glass and not to mix the two together.  She spends a lot of time digging through both containers pulling out items that don’t belong. 

Cawley has received detailed guidelines for paper sorting to improve our recycling efforts.  Envelopes with windows should be thrown out if the windows are cellophane, but recycled if the windows are “foggy” glassine.  Cardboard boxes which have had oil containers in them but which have no oil contamination on them may be recycled.  Cardboard with tape or staples may be recycled, though people should try to remove the tape or staples. 

Cawley has appealed the State’s recycling rate of 27% for Washington.  He has resubmitted the numbers which he contends bring the Town’s rate to 30.85%.

CENSUS RESPONSE BEST YET

Town Clerk Michele Beemer is thrilled with the 72% census response rate--a significant improvement over two years ago.  Beemer very much appreciates such helpful participation.  She notes that people who have not responded can still send in their forms. 

FIREARM PERMITS BACKLOGGED

Delays in obtaining permits should come as no surprise to anyone, says Police Chief Rob Jarvie.  “I told everyone to plan on three months and that looks like it’ll be about right,” he says.  Theoretically, the State police have 30 days and the local chiefs has 40 days from the date of application to issue the new license.  The problem, according to Jarvie, is that the legislature passed the law in the middle of the year, and the State police don’t have the funding for it.  Jarvie says he believes that the identification department in Springfield has all of two people working for it, so it’s not unexpected to see delays.

GRANT SOUGHT TO DEFRAY DEMO COST

Building Inspector Keith Fox is seeking a grant from the State to pay for demolishing the long-abandoned house on Upper Valley Road.  He estimates the job could cost as much as $20,000 due to piles of railroad ties, a 55-gallon drum of kerosene, an open well and junk cars.  Fox said he expects the State to come through with the money.

STATE WANTS TO CERTIFY ANIMAL CONTROL OFFICERS

Police Chief Rob Jarvie reports that the State is suggesting that the three positions of Animal Control Officer, Dog Officer and Animal Inspector be combined into one Animal Control Officer, and that that position be filled by an individual certified through a 10-week training.  The training costs $300 and takes place on Wednesdays at the Agawam barracks near the Connecticut border.  “This would be okay for municipalities with full-time employees,” says Jarvie, “but not small towns with part-time volunteers.”  It’s not mandatory yet, he says, noting that if it were, the State would have to come up with funding for it. 

WILDLIFE SIGHTINGS

The Clark family of Upper Valley Road spotted a fisher on their road in mid January.  Says Phil Clark, it was between four and five feet long from nose to tail tip.  An impressive sight.  Marieanne Clark adds that she spotted a red fox wandering through their yard recently.  Its tail was bushy and it looked healthy, she says.

Meanwhile, Rob Jarvie of Old Middlefield Road has seen moose aplenty.  A family--cow, calf and an old bull--have been running the area from Middlefield Road over to Old Middlefield Road and on into Hinsdale.

DINDIO EXPLAINS WASHINGTON MTN ROAD REPAVING DELAY

District One Highway Engineer Ross Dindio met with the Selectmen in January to explain why the Washington Mountain Road repaving project is now expected to go out to bid in the fall instead of the spring of 1999.  Only about 50% of the preparation work has been done so far; engineering remains to be done and rights of way need to be obtained.  The delay is due largely to manpower being reassigned to work on the intersection of Routes 8 and 20 (where 8 turns south toward Otis), a site of frequent accidents.  “We were disappointed,” says Selectman Richard Grillon.

In a more positive vein, Dindio told the Selectmen he is looking for up to $100,000 in discretionary funds to make repairs to the road in the coming construction season.

BITS & PIECES

On December 21, Lillian and Maurice Fox became the proud grandparents of Hunter Duval Fox.  Hunter’s parents are Kevin and Judy Fox of Lenox.

The Becket-Washington Recreation Committee is looking to hire lifeguards for the Center Pond Beach this summer.  The committee hopes to find a part-time weekend lifeguard and a full-time weekday lifeguard.  Interested parties should contact Georgette Keator (623-0088).

For burning permits, residents should call the new Fire Chief, Steven Deloye.  He can be reached at home (623-6019) or work (448-7320). 

Congratulations to Michael Spencer upon becoming an Eagle Scout at a ceremony held January 10.

GOT NEWS? CALL ME. WRITE ME.

If you've got news, comments, critiques, whatever to share, or you want to advertise, please write or call Abby Reifsnyder (623-6073). 

 

Send your comments and questions about Tracks at: tracks@town.washington.ma.us