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January 1999

Vol. 8, No. 1

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TUESDAYS, 6:00 p.m.: Men’s basketball at the Becket School.

WEDNESDAYS, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.: Parent-child playgroup at the Becket Town Hall.  Sponsored by Children’s Health Program.


With this issue of Tracks, you will find a census form to be completed and returned to Town Clerk Michele Beemer by January 25.  You may either mail it (the address is printed on it) or take it over to Town Hall. 


The Center for Environmental Technology (CET) proposes several options to give another life to all those holiday greeting cards.  There are a few organizations and senior and day care centers that will accept all of your greeting cards throughout the year.  According to CET, the Williamstown Grange #366 takes greeting cards and old calendars.  Drop them off at or mail them to: Experienced Attire, 83 Park Street, Adams, MA  01220.

The front pictures of non-denominational cards can be mailed to: St. Jude’s Ranch for children, Attention: Eleanor Essig, 100 St. Jude Street, Boulder City, Nevada 89005.

If you don’t feel up to mailing everything, CET suggests keeping your share of the 2.65 billion

Christmas cards that are sent each year.  Use them as postcards and gift tags.  Reuse wrapping paper, the organization adds.   


“It’s the next best thing to having our own post office,” says Selectman Richard Grillon.  Beginning February 27, 1999, all Washingtonians will be using 01223 and legally including our Town name as part of the address.  The USPS found the Town’s petition compelling enough to send its Springfield District delivery specialists to review the situation.  The specialists, consulting with the letter carriers, decided on this plan, a by-product of which is that some deliveries in Hinsdale, Becket and Dalton will be able to address their mail to their respective post offices.  According to Grillon, Congressman John Olver has indicated to the Selectmen that he contacted the USPS on behalf of the Town.

Because Washington will still be sharing its post office with Becket, some problems--not those of the USPS--will remain.  People receiving mail or packages from other carriers may still encounter problems when those carriers use the Becket zip code to identify the town.  Drivers unfamiliar with Washington and its residents may continue to look in Becket for non-existent street addresses.  According to Vinnie Mazzeo, Business Coordinator at UPS in Pittsfield, “There is no cure for that problem.”  He recommends that people be very specific when ordering items, making sure that the zip code and town name will direct the carrier to the correct address.  Including one’s phone number is also a help.  “The only cure,” says Mazzeo, “is having someone like Larry Wells working your area.  He doesn’t even read the addresses; he just reads the names and knows where to take it.” 

In a related action, the USPS has decided to keep the post office at or near its current location, according to Postmistress Ellen Young.  It is not clear whether the petition to keep the post office in north Becket (containing 227 signatures, gathered in one day at the Washington Transfer Station and the Becket General Store) influenced the decision or not.


With Assistant Town Clerk Sue Daignault leaving the area, Town Clerk Michele Beemer is 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.


That’s the issue especially for families with children attending the Nessacus or Wahconah schools.  As Town resident Melissa Wells points out, Nessacus has a homework hot line to help kids and their parents find out what the night’s assignments are, but it’s a long distance call for most Washington residents (all those with the 623 exchange).  Washington’s school committee representative Jan Huebner has put the issue on the agenda for the January school committee meeting in hopes of finding a way to establish a toll-free line for parents and students.  The Central Berkshire Regional School District Business Manager David Balardini is, she says, speaking with Representative Shaun Kelly in the mean time to see if he can apply pressure to the phone company. 

Heady with the success of the zip code petition, some in Washington think it might just be possible to break through the seemingly impenetrable walls of the phone company.  According to Selectman Richard Grillon, Dalton became a long distance call as a result of what he calls “telemandering.”  He says that when the phone company was establishing the calling areas, it changed the phone numbers of people living at or near the Washington border with Dalton to insure that the 623 exchange would not abut the 684 exchange.  Any family with middle or high school children, he notes, gets to see its phone bill sky rocket when the kids call all their Dalton friends.


The tubes from old televisions can be recycled, so people are encouraged to bring them to the Transfer Station.  Saw dust, touted by Selectman William Cawley to aid in composting, will be made available at the Transfer Station.  Goodwill collections continue to be bountiful--and the organization has been very pleased with Washington’s contributions, including the plastic grocery bags.


The combination of Title V and the Rivers Act has led to some confusion about what falls into the jurisdiction of the Conservation Commission, according to Commission Chair Peter Champoux.  Anytime the activity--such as bringing a septic system up to Title V compliance--falls within the 200-foot buffer zone around a wetland or running stream, then people must get the okay to proceed from the Conservation Commission.  Because people have no choice but to comply with Title V, Commission approval is virtually automatic.  The Commission does, however, frequently request that erosion control barriers (usually this means hay bales) be put in place and not removed until the Commission again gives its okay (when reseeding takes hold). 

Logging operations do not necessarily fall within the Conservation Commission’s jurisdiction, unless, as with septic systems, the work is being done within the wetlands buffer zone.  If there are no streams or wetlands, then the State’s Department of Environmental Management forester has oversight of the work. 


“It’s too early in the process to know anything,” says Becket School Needs Assessment Committee member William Fuller.  Though the needs have been outlined, including a minimal addition to make the project eligible for state reimbursement, it will be some time before a plan of action with cost estimates will be completed.  Architectural plans must be submitted to the State in March, and Fuller says the Becket School Building Committee has no illusions about meeting that deadline this year, though he hopes they’ll be ready by March of 2000.  Among the issues to be addressed are the needs for a new well, new wiring and improved plumbing. 


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