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June 1999

Vol. 8, No. 6

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MONDAYS, 6:00 p.m.: Soccer for children five and under at the Town Park beginning June 14.  For information, contact Ginger Conner (623-5792).

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

SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 7 p.m.:  Square dance at the Becket School called by Cliff Brodeur.  Brodeur will call traditional square dances as well as less typical line and other dances.  Refreshments will be available and there will be a raffle.  Tickets will be $3 for adults and $1 for children.

SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 1 to 4 p.m.: Beach clean-up at Center Pond.


Seven early risers joined bird expert Ed Neumuth for a late spring bird walk along the new Washington Mountain Meadow trail in October Mountain State Forest.  For some in the group it was their first time walking the interpretive trail, making for an interesting walk with or without bird sightings. 

However, the ornithologically minded were treated to sightings or hearings of 40 different species of birds, including 13 kinds of warblers.  Seen were the Wilson’s, yellow, chestnut-sided, magnolia, black-throated blue and blackburnian warblers; heard were the Nashville, Northern parula and black-throated green warblers.  Other sightings included the alder flycatcher, the rough-winged swallow and a broad-winged hawk.  Many others were sighted or heard before the walk finished up, conveniently just as the rain began.


Wash-Beck United, the local girls’ soccer club, has an exciting summer ahead, beginning with a trip June 12 to see the professional women’s team, the Springfield Sirens, play a home game.  The girls will meet the players, some of whom they will see again for a soccer camp July 12 to 16 here in Washington on the girls’ home field (a.k.a. the Town Park). 

Coach Gordon Duff of Becket organized the trip and the camp by tracking down, via e-mail, the nearest professional women’s team.  “I guess I was just the first one in,” says Duff of his success in getting four players and a coach to run the camp for the girls.

This is hardly the club’s first success.  Its first season (last year) competing in the Dalton league was impeccable: undefeated.  “It was a little embarrassing,” says Duff almost gleefully, “to go into someone else’s league like that and, well, just cream them.”

Duff, Elisa Goddard and John Osthoff coach the girls, whom they felt needed a team of their own.  There are too many pressures on girls competing on coed teams, and, says Duff, the girls aren’t comfortable, so they drop out.  One of coach Goddard’s biggest contributions to the team has been her understanding of girls.  “Elisa keeps us straight about all the things John and I need to know about girls,” says Duff.  Boys, he explains, are in it for themselves; girls are in it for the interaction, for the relationships.  Girls care who’s playing next to them.  They need to bond as a team.

This year the club will be fielding two teams: a fourth and fifth grade team, and a sixth, seventh and eighth grade team.  Sign-ups are still going on for this summer, and there are openings in the younger group.  For more information, contact Duff (623-6104).


At the last Annual Town Meeting of the century, fewer than 30 voters unanimously approved 43 of 44 articles on the warrant.  The school budget went through with minimal discussion; the elected officers’ 3% raise was not questioned; and the Highway Department’s budget, the only other big-ticket item, sailed through. 

And then came Article 44: to see if the Town would approve a by-law pertaining to animal control.  The short version of this new and more refined by-law would require dog owners to keep their dogs “restrained” when not on the owner’s property except if the dog is engaged in sporting events (e.g., hunting).  It would also require dog owners to clean up after their animals when off their own property.  Fines for violations would be a warning for first offense, $10 for second offense, $30 for third offense and $50 for subsequent offenses.

The article generated much discussion.  Some voters expressed concern that the law would allow an over-zealous dog officer to fine dog owners in violation of the law but whose dog was not actually bothering anybody.  Others thought that no action would be taken without someone first making a complaint.  As in the past, some felt that Massachusetts General Law covered the issue well enough, while others argued that this law was clearer and gentler (as MGL would entail taking dog owners to court rather than fining them).  In the end, the article went down 12 to seven.  Post meeting mutterings indicate, however, that the Town has not yet put this issue to rest.


Though 137 people said they would attend the May 24 meeting to present the changes in the electricity industry, only 12 actually came.  Wayne Mastin, a representative from the Division of Energy Resources, explained that under the restructured system, the electricity market will resemble the telephone service market.  Just as people may now choose a long-distance carrier but basic service comes through a local company, consumers may now chose a power generator but distribution will be through a local company (WMECO for us).  The change-over to the new system is taking place over seven years, five and a half of which are left.  Until that time, consumers can opt to not chose a power generator and accept “standard default service,” though DER materials suggest this may not remain the most cost-effective option. 

A booklet passed out at the meeting explains the changes and suggests questions consumers can ask power suppliers before choosing one.  The power generators are required to provide certain basic information in a standardized format (the uniform disclosure label) in much the same way groceries now carry a standardized nutrition information label.  This is intended to facilitate comparative shopping for consumers as they decide which factors are most important to them: cost, power sources, emissions and labor.  For more information, consumers can call 1-888-758-4469.


The bears have been busy this spring, rifling through compost and helping themselves to bird seeds.  “Once they start to get stuff in the woods, they’ll disappear,” says Police Chief Rob Jarvie.  “But this time of year, they’d rather eat your compost and your bird seed.  There’s not much you can do.”  “This time of year,” echoes Hill Town Vet’s Robin Marshall, “there’s not much you can do besides not use your compost and bird feeders.  Don’t leave dog food out, and keep your trash cans in an enclosed place.”  Jarvie suggests not composting for the next month or so until the berries are in and the bears lose interest. 

Jarvie says the number of bear-human encounters is on the rise because of the increase in the bear population and the number of houses.  “Statistics say they’ll bump into each other more,” he notes.  He attributes the increase in the bear population to the fact that hunters can’t use dogs anymore.


Head Start will begin a new classroom at the Becket school this fall.  The Head Start program at the Washington Town Hall--actually a partnership with the Central Berkshire Regional School District --will continue as before.  According to Lynda Morin, Education Supervisor for Head Start in Berkshire County, the program has 17 classrooms in the county, 10 of which are currently in Pittsfield.  The agency has noted a greater need in the hill towns than is being met, so it is moving a classroom from Pittsfield to Becket.  Becket children are currently not served at all.  Morin says they hope that the Washington program will be able to draw more kids from Dalton.  Washington children will probably go to Becket now, says Morin, though she says this depends largely on transportation issues. 

Head Start is open to children three or four years old by September 1.  Children attend four or five mornings a week and are given breakfast and lunch.  The program is primarily for low-income children, though other children may qualify who are considered “at risk.”  Social isolation, a common problem in rural areas, is considered a risk factor.

Registration for the Becket Head Start was Thursday, June 3.  If you missed registration, call 499-0137 by June 9.


Postmistress Ellen Young reminds former 01235ers to update their addresses with the 01223 zip.  Mail with the old zip code is delayed a day since it first goes to Hinsdale before finding its way to the Becket Post Office.  Young notes that most magazines have a toll-free number to call to make address changes.


Residents are reminded to rinse containers before recycling them. 

Pumpkin seeds will be available through mid June (at which point it will be too late to plant them).  Call Georgette Keator if you are interested (623-0088).

There will be swim lessons at Center Pond this summer, but the schedule has not yet been set.  As July approaches, people interested in lessons may call members of the Becket-Washington Recreation Committee for information. 


The Becket Arts Center has scheduled 20 arts workshops to take place in July and August at the Arts Center.  This year there will be six photography workshops in addition to workshops in watercolor, drawing, faux finishes, pottery, journal making, bookbinding and paper marbling.  For a complete listing, send a #10 self-addressed, stamped envelope to Becket Arts Center, Arts Workshops, Box 286, Becket, MA  01223.


At the Council on Aging’s Spring Tea:

Ethel Diehl and Venice Rock, 90s in the ‘90s.


The Becket School PTO reports that its two spring fund-raisers were successful, bringing in approximately $3,175: $2,600 from the Humani-Tees shirt sale; $575 from the plant sale (in spite of pouring rain).  Much of the money raised has already been used for the Paul Pharmer Music Fund to purchase three musical instruments: a marimba, a baritone horn and a trombone. 

The PTO has been successful this year in meeting its goals, says member Kathryn Casella.  Out of $6,450 budgeted, $6,292 was spent. The PTO spent $3,400 on computers to help meet its goal of putting a computer in every classroom and one in the library.  It also spent $3,106 on musical instruments as part of its work establishing and using the Paul Pharmer Music Fund.  Other major expenditures were $1,322 on field trips and $865 on the library.


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