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May 1999

Vol. 8, No. 5

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SATURDAY, MAY 8: Pre-Mothers’ Day Plant Sale at the Becket School.  A PTO fund-raiser.

SATURDAY, MAY 8, 8  p.m.: Annual Town Meeting at Town Hall.  See related article.

SATURDAY, MAY 15, 12 to 4 p.m.: Annual Town Election.

SUNDAY, MAY 23, 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.: Spring height-of-migration bird walk along the Washington Mountain Meadow Trail led by Ed Neumuth.  Meet at the Town Park and car pool into the State Forest.  Wear appropriate footgear (to keep your feet dry and warm) and, of course, bring your binoculars.

MONDAY, MAY 24, 8 p.m.: Electric industry restructuring informational meeting at Town Hall.  Speaker Wayne Nastin of the Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources will present helpful information on aspects of the restructuring and answer questions.  Topics will include: choosing a power supplier, group buying options, understanding your electric bill.  Please let Cubby LaFogg (at the Transfer Station) know if you think you might come, so the speaker will bring enough brochures and handouts for everyone.

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


Malachi David Southard was born April 2, 1999, to Amie Marie Southard and Jose David Cruz.

Mikala Jordan L’Hote was born April 8 to Lisa A. Morrell and James E. L’Hote.

Welcome to both babies!


The Master Garbologist stopped hauling plastic, so we are now using MRF.  This company takes glass and plastic together, but doesn’t want small parts like lids or the plastic spouts that have become popular on orange juice cartons or Styrofoam.  So: glass and plastic together, but no lids or Styrofoam.  Pull the plastic spout off cartons and squash plastic containers.


Allison Mikaniewicz has become the new Assistant Town Clerk; Michael McCaul is the new Animal Inspector; and Ann Stout has joined the board of the Hilltowns Council on Aging.


To celebrate those in their 90’s in the ’90’s, the Washington Council on Aging hosted a Spring Tea.  The larger than expected crowd filled the temporarily redecorated Selectmen’s office to listen to 45 minutes of music and singing by performer Patti Carpenter.  After the entertainment, the two “90’s” present--Venice Rock (96) and Ethel Diehl (92)--were given festive potted plants and an appreciative ovation.  Refreshments and mingling followed as everyone enjoyed the unseasonably warm and sunny day.

Due to the popularity of the event, plans are in the works for more such get-togethers, as COA’s Michele says, “after the bugs and before the snow.”


It was cold, it was windy, but it was sunny--distinguishing this early spring bird walk from others in recent years.  A hardy group of nine gathered at the Town Park to welcome back the killdeer who nests almost every year in the ball field.  Barn and tree swallows were spotted already making use of the bluebird boxes Ed Neumuth installs each spring.  After a look at the kingfisher’s nest-hole in the sand pile behind the Transfer Station, the group proceeded up Cross Place Road.  Leader Neumuth focused his scope in on a swamp sparrow in the marsh, so everyone got a nature-magazine type close-up of the bird as it sang. 

The group continued to brave the wind to bird along Muddy Pond, spotting a great blue heron in the scope, a hermit thrush trooping about in the underbrush and a migrating palm warbler.  The pickings were slim as the birds appeared more sensible than the birders and kept a low profile.


Perhaps the biggest surprise on this year’s Annual Town Meeting warrant is that the school budget--always the biggest ticket item--is actually lower than last year as a result of a happy coincidence of refunds from Becket School construction and the debt for Nessacus not yet appearing.

Because most other items are level funded, the more interesting articles are not financial.  Article 43, for example, would eliminate the Annual Town Caucus.  Candidates would instead file nomination papers to get on the ballot.  Article 44 asks voters to establish animal control by-laws that would require dog owners to restrain and clean up after their dogs when off their own property.


The Washington Cultural Council has announced awards totaling $3,212, $1,131 of which is for programs at the Becket Consolidated School and $691 for programs at the Nessacus Middle School.  A complete list of the grants follows:

Becket Consolidated School, for a performance of African dancing, drumming and culture...........$393

Becket Arts Center of the Hilltowns, for workshops in visual arts at the center................................$300

Jim Douglas, for the publication of an artist directory on the Internet....................................$20

King Phillip Dixieland Band, for a concert of Dixieland music...............................................$400

Project Concern (Nessacus), for a hip hop youth dance performance..........................................$600

Becket Consolidated School, for a performance and workshop in children’s theater.........................$243

Becket Consolidated School, for a performance about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr...........$125

Becket Consolidated School, for performances about famous women in history.......................$125

John Marinelli, for a workshop on the creative process and improvisation...............................$325

Nessacus Middle School, for performances of opera aimed at a younger audience..............................$25

Nessacus Middle School, for Colonial Day activities and performances by actors in period costume...$66

Bob Thomas, for a storytelling performance with dance and music..............................................$345

Becket Consolidated School, for admissions to The Berkshire Museum............................................$59

Becket Consolidated School, for admissions to The Norman Rockwell Museum...............................$79

Becket Consolidated School, for admissions to The Berkshire Museum..........................................$107


Residents are reminded that they should be paying excise tax only to the Town of Washington.  Obvious though this may seem, at least one resident has received an excise tax bill from the Town of Hinsdale.  Richard Spencer had to remind Hinsdale where he lives and that though he used to use the Hinsdale zip, it didn’t make him a Hinsdale resident.  Let’s see if Becket tries to claim him (and his tax dollars) now that we all share 01223.


DEM’s (and Washington’s) Doug Poland recently reported to the Selectmen that plans are moving forward with the Washington Mountain Lake boating, swimming and picnicking recreation area, a.k.a. Phase II.  (Phase I was the building of the Washington Mountain Meadow Trail, completed last fall.)  DEM is looking for Washington’s cooperation in rebuilding West Branch Road, which is currently unpassable by car.  As Poland told TRACKS, DEM doesn’t like to pay for town roads.  Poland also noted that wetlands issues and obtaining permits will slow the process.


Plant now, carve later!  That’s the plan of the Becket-Washington Recreation Committee.  It’s giving away free pumpkin seeds to anyone interested in growing some pumpkins.  In return, come Halloween, people should donate at least one of their pumpkins for the Halloween celebration.  Contact Georgette Keator (623-0088) for information and seeds.


Clear skies and warm sunshine brought out the crowds for the Tenth Annual Park Spruce-Up on Sunday, May 2.  Some 60 to 70 people weeded, carted, spread, pruned, raked, dug, planted and had fun in an afternoon that saw much accomplished.  The Park Commission thanked  the many people who volunteered their time and muscle as well as various area businesses and organizations who donated goods or services.  These included: the Becket-Washington Baseball Association, the Boy Scouts, Canterbury Farms, Cesco Plumbing & Heating, Coca Cola of Pittsfield, Denis Duquette Landscaping, the Dream Away Lodge and the YMCA Soccer Group.  Park Commission’s Dave Drugmand noted that this year’s turnout included a surprising number of Becket folks--about a third of the people--“which is pretty cool.”


Four Washingtonians have volunteered so far to help inventory and clean up the Housatonic headwaters which start right here in our own Muddy Pond.  Ed Bond, Dave Drugmand, Ken Keiper and William Cawley are forming a team that will walk and/or kayak Muddy Pond and down the beginnings of the Housatonic River.  Their initial task will be to note both natural and unnatural phenomena that might be harmful to the water and environment.  They will report their findings to the East Branch Stream Team which will develop a plan to ameliorate the situation.

According to Cawley, a natural phenomenon they would note might be a tree down across the stream, blocking movement along the waterway.  The ends of the tree might, however, be providing still water homes for aquatic life, so only the middle of the tree would be removed. 

Unnatural phenomena are easier to spot: two oil drums have already been noted by team members.  They would be removed. 

The team would welcome other volunteers.  A date has not yet been set for the inventory.  Contact William Cawley (623-8730) if you are interested. 


The Becket Arts Center is looking for someone to run the summer arts workshops.  The volunteer position would head up an already formed committee.  If you are interested, call Rudy Sacco (623-5535).


The Becket-Washington Recreation Committee is looking for someone to lifeguard and/or teach swimming on weekdays.  If you are interested, either send a resume to the Becket Town Hall, c/o Recreation Committee or call Georgette Keator (623-0088).


Anyone interested in getting together for a weekly or biweekly card game or bowling game, call Joan Cadman (623-8848). 


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