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July/August 1999

Vol. 8, No. 7

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 MONDAYS, 6:30 p.m.: Soccer for children five and under at the Town Park.  For information, contact Ginger Conner (623-5792).

 WEDNESDAYS, 6:00 p.m.: Pick-up kids soccer.

THURSDAYS, 6:00 p.m.: Adult softball at the Town Park.

SUNDAY, JULY 25, 2 p.m.: Pot Luck Picnic in the gazebo at the Town Park sponsored by the Washington Council on Aging.  Bring family and friends, young and old.  The grill will be fired up in case people want to barbecue.  For more information, call Michele Beemer (623-6677).

SUNDAY, AUGUST 29, 3 p.m.: Annual Becket-Washington Softball Championship game. 


As part of its summer reading program, the Becket Athenaeum has scheduled a number of special events for Saturdays in July and August.  The first of these was July 17 and featured “the kite lady” who helped children build their own kites.  On Saturday, July 24, ventriloquist and juggler John Neiner will give a performance starting at 11 a.m.  Future programs will be held July 31, August 14 and August 21, all beginning at 11 a.m.


            For several summers, the Town’s field driver has been called to active duty to deal with wandering cows on Summit Hill Road.  This year, the Animal Control Officer, John Connor, has been trying to contain the cows, and that has cost the Town money.  So, in an effort to recoup the costs of corralling the cows, the Selectmen have decided to take the cows’ owner, Henry Jaeschke, to court.  Selectman Richard Grillon says that at the time that the decision was made, the Town had already spent between $300 and $400.  He estimates that that amount has since grown to $600 or $700.  The Selectmen are hoping not just to recoup expenses but also to motivate the cows’ owner to keep the cows in their field.


The Hilltown Council on Aging has a new outreach worker: Jim Rivers.  In his note in the COA newsletter he identifies himself as “a fellow senior citizen” and encourages people to call on him.  He can be reached at 684-2000 on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

The same newsletter announces the MassHealth Buy-In program, a program that pays for Medicare part B premiums.  People would qualify if they meet the following criteria: 1) they have Medicare; 2) they have a monthly income between $708 and $947 for one person or $943 and $1,265 for a couple; and 3) have assets (not counting their home) less than $4,000 for one person or $6,000 for a couple.  To apply to or get information about the program, call 1-888-665-9993.


Department of Environmental Management’s Doug Poland says he expects work to get going on West Branch Road this fall.  He says the materials and some machinery will be provided by DEM (using Federal money), with the actual labor and other machinery being provided by Washington’s Highway Department.  He says the road work will include the addition of a parking area for snowmobilers well off Washington Mountain Road, toward the bottom of the first hill.

Design work on the recreation area in the State Forest is in the works now, according to Poland.  Work should begin on that next summer.


Overcrowding and use of the Center Pond beach by out-of-towners were the complaints called in to the Becket Town Hall during the hot July 4th week.  In response, the Becket Selectmen have decided to require beach permits.  Washington residents may obtain permits at the Transfer Station (a Transfer Station permit acts as a beach permit) for free or at the Becket Town Hall for $1.  The Becket police will be cruising the parking lot on the weekends, checking for stickers and issuing warnings (at least, initially) to those lacking stickers.  Volunteers are needed to check stickers during the week. 


Citing discomfort with potential liability issues and dismay at the decision to leave in place what he and others say is a dangerous dock, Becket-Washington Recreation Committee member David Drugmand handed in his resignation to the Chair of the Selectmen Richard Grillon.  At a February meeting, says Drugmand, the committee discussed the pros and cons of the dock and then voted against putting in a new one this summer.  Then, at a meeting a month later, which he was unable to attend, the committee revoted, this time approving the dock. 

There are three main problems with the dock, according to Drugmand and committee member and part-time lifeguard Georgette Keator.  First, in order to dive safely, the American Red Cross says the water must be at least nine feet deep.  The water depth where the dock is anchored is 7’6”.  “I swam out another 50 feet and it still isn’t deep enough,” says Drugmand.  Though the dock sports a “No Diving” sign, the temptation to dive is great, particularly when there is no lifeguard present, says Drugmand. 

Second, because the dock is anchored with a single anchor, it spins, says Keator.  When a person runs to jump off, it rotates and the person jumps into the water in a different spot than anticipated--one that may be already occupied.

Third, Drugmand and Keator say that kids play under the dock--making it virtually impossible for a lifeguard to see what they are doing. 

“I think it shouldn’t be out there,” says Drugmand.  “I’m resigning from the committee because I don’t want to be held liable for a dock which presents too many dangers.”  Keator, who wrote a letter to the Selectmen outlining the problems and dangers of the dock, says she is “disgusted.”  Adding to the problems the dock poses for a lifeguard is its placement outside the swimming area.  Though there is a sign stating that people swim at their own risk outside of the swimming area, Keator believes few people notice the sign and most expect the lifeguard to watch outside the area as well.

Selectman Richard Grillon agrees with both Drugmand and Keator: “It’s nothing but a pain in the neck,” he says.  “Kids get under it.  Kids float it across the lake.  All the Town can do is write a letter to the Becket Selectmen and state our concerns and disagreements.” 


Emma Bailey and Washington scholarships have been awarded to five Washington residents who graduated from Wahconah high school this year and are going on to college.  Ryan Case, son of Michael and Stephanie Case, will be attending St. Michael’s College in Vermont.  Jessica Duquette, daughter of David and Jennifer Duquette, will be attending BCC.  Lindsay Duquette, daughter of Denis and Diane Duquette, will be attending the University of New Hampshire.  Sasha Love, daughter of John and Kathy Love, will be attending Northeastern University to study civil engineering.  Rachel Perrea, daughter of Jean Perrea, will be attending the University of Rhode Island to study nursing. 

Also graduating from Wahconah this year were Jessica Sawtelle, daughter of Jeffrey and Christine Sawtelle; Amber Southard, daughter of Ricky and Connie Southard; and Paul Willis, son of Craig and Kathy Willis.  Congratulations to all!

TRACKS apologizes to those who graduated from schools other than Wahconah.  Efforts to track you down proved fruitless.  Call and you can be recognized in the next issue.


Five articles were approved unanimously by the 13 voters present at a Special Town Meeting so short a stop at the water fountain on the way in would have caused a person to miss it.  Four articles involved money transfers between accounts, and one allocated the funds received from the County Dog Tax Refund to the Becket Athenaeum.

A Washington resident inspects the new loader.


  After months, in some cases years, of emptying culverts by day that the beavers refill by night, the DPW has called in official beaver complaints to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife on four sites in Washington.  The culverts, on Middlefield, Johnson Hill, Lover Valley and Cross Place Roads, are clogged so regularly and completely that they have sometimes challenged the road crew to develop ingenious ways of breaking through the muck, sticks and rocks the beaver like to use.  Because the beavers’ work threatens to flood the roads, the complaint is filed with the DFW as a P1 complaint.  A representative of the DFW has inspected the sites, according to Highway Superintendent Craig Willis.  “We’d like to move the beavers,” says Willis, but, he notes, it’s up to the DFW what to do. 

The number of beaver complaints has sky-rocketed in recent years, says the DFW’s Tony Gola.  He attributes the increase largely to passage of Question 1 which, among other things, banned the use of leg-hold and other “cruel” traps.  This, he says, has made trapping too difficult and too costly.  DEM’s Doug Poland agrees, but adds that the market for the beavers isn’t very good.  He also notes that the scarcity of natural predators--such as fishers--has contributed to the problem. 


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