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October 1999

Vol. 8, No. 9

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TUESDAYS, 6 to 8 p.m.: Men’s basketball at the Becket School gym.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 8, 7 to 9 p.m.: Trash or Treasure?  Professional Antiques Appraisal Night at the Becket Athenaeum.  Charles Flint and Scott Alessio will appraise one item for $5 or three items for $10.  Proceeds to benefit the Becket Athenaeum.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 7 to 9 p.m.: Renewable Energy--Choices for Our Environment: A community conversation at the Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall at Williams College.  Reception beginning at 6 p.m.  Randy Udall will lead a panel discussion on renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind, small hydro and fuel cells.  Sponsored by the Center for Ecological Technology, the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and the Center for Environmental Studies of Williams College, among others.

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Household Hazardous Waste Collection at the Great Barrington Recycling Center on Route 7.  Call 243-0815 or 243-4200 to pre-register by October 14..  Bring any substances with labels that say: caution, toxic, corrosive, poison, flammable, warning, danger, caustic.  Do not bring asbestos, medical wastes, fireworks and explosives, ammunition, construction debris, gas or propane containers.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 6:30 p.m.: Harvest Dinner & Auction at Eastover Resort in Lenox sponsored by the Berkshire Regional Food and Land Council to benefit its efforts to support local farms, protect the Berkshire landscape, create a more healthy local food supply and strengthen the Berkshire food and farm economy.  Tickets are $30.  For more information, call Elizabeth Keen (528-8301).

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 29, 5:30 to 10 p.m.: Pumpkin Walk and Trick or Treating at the Town Park (rain date: October 30).  Bonfire! Jack-o-Lanterns! Candy! Treats!  Volunteers are needed to man trick-or-treat stations from 6 to 8, man the beverage table and oversee the bonfire.  Donations needed include pumpkins, candy, cider, clean baby food jars and votive candles.  Donations of carved pumpkins can be brought to the Town Park on October 29 any time after 2 p.m.  For all other donations, including uncarved pumpkins, please call Georgette Keator (623-0088) to make pick-up or drop-off arrangements. 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.: Trick or Treating, door-to-door.  Leave your porch light on to welcome trick-or-treaters.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 30, 1:00 p.m.: Annual Harvest Dinner to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. Andrew’s Chapel with proceeds going to help fund the on-going restoration of the stained glass windows.  Tickets for the meal of turkey and the fixings are $15.  Reservations (call Bucksteep: 623-5535) are recommended as seating is limited.


It was standing room only (with 40 registered voters and six non-voting attendees) at the September 27 Special Town Meeting in which the first two articles on the warrant involved creating an account for the Animal Control Officer and then funding that account.  Eventually defeated by a close 19 to 17 vote, the creation of the account drew considerable and often heated debate.  The issue, clouded by personality conflicts, stems from the recurring problem of cows getting loose on Summit Hill Road.  In years past, the Field Driver has been called in to handle the situation, but this summer the Selectmen began using the newly appointed Animal Control Officer John Connors (who is also the Dog Officer) to corral the cows and return them to their fields.  Because Connor is paid an hourly wage, the Selectmen have incurred expenses not associated with this problem nor with the position in the past.  Some voters voiced their concern that the position of Animal Control Officer is being overpaid, particularly relative to other positions in Town.  Others expressed the sentiment that this is the best solution to a problem that has existed for several years.  Moderator Doug Poland eventually called the matter to a vote which went with the nays. The negative vote on Article 1 obviated the need for a vote on Article 2.

The remaining four articles passed with amendments to fund them directly from Free Cash which had not been certified at the time of the writing of the warrant.  There was little, if any, discussion of these four articles.

Before the STM began and obscured by the ensuing debate was a brief ceremony of appreciation.  Certificates of Appreciation, with calligraphy by Julio Granda, were presented to four Town residents and volunteers: Peter Borgnis for his generous donation of bark mulch for the playground equipment at the Town Park, and Paul Keiper, Mark Levernoch and Roger J. Peltier, Jr., for their extensive  and expert work on the bathrooms at the Town Park.  All received appreciative ovations in addition to the certificates.

After the close of the meeting, Highway Superintendent Craig Willis stood and spoke to the assembled group, thanking them for what he felt was their support in the vote on Article 1, but calling for the Town to settle the conflict that has arisen between him, Animal Control and Dog Officer Connor and Police Chief Rob Jarvie.  The ensuing discussion, debate and sometimes yelling match lasted two hours, ending with a decision to meet the following Monday with the three men to try to devise a solution to the problem.  Other suggestions that were made included the creation of an ad hoc committee to oversee the position of Animal Control Officer.  The cows’ owner, Henry Jaeschke, explained that he finds his fence cut or the solar boxes to the electric wire turned off.  It was unclear if an investigation was warranted.


After almost a year of grant writing and waiting, the Town has been awarded a grant to pay for the demolition of the long abandoned house on Upper Valley Road.  Building Inspector Keith Fox expects the job to be somewhat costly due to the presence of hazardous materials on the site and its proximity to wetlands. 

The State will dictate the terms of the contract in order to use the funds.  Once these terms are received, the project can go out to bid.  Fox hopes to have the site cleaned up before snow flies.

The house changed hands several times before its most recent owner simply walked away from it, leaving it in disrepair and with taxes unpaid.


On October 10, the congregation of the Becket Federated Church will return to its old home in Becket Village.  The church was hit by a car over a year ago and sustained significant damage.  Repairs are now complete and the new stained glass windows in place and, according to member Sally Poland, “so gorgeous I wasn’t sure they were our windows.”  The congregation will celebrate with a 10 a.m. joint service with the Congregational congregation that has provided a home away from home.  The church will then return to its traditional 11 a.m. services.

On November 7, the church will commemorate the 150th anniversary of its gathering in Becket with a 10:30 a.m. service followed by a luncheon and open house for the community.  Special thanks will be given to all who helped restore the building.


The female moose who had been delighting so many who use Johnson Hill, Lower Valley and Cross Place Roads was found dead over the Labor Day weekend by Peter and Ann Goucher of Cross Place Road.  The body was in the stream south of their property along Lower Valley Road.  Some weeks earlier the Gouchers had noticed bite marks on the back of one of the moose’s legs, but no one knows if these are related in any way to the moose’s death.

Upon finding the moose, the Gouchers contacted Police Chief Rob Jarvie, who in turn contacted Environmental Police Officer Glen Lagerwall.  He turned the matter over to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.  By the time DFW staff were able to get to the moose, it was too late to determine the cause of death.  As Western Wildlife District Manager Tom Keefe puts it, “I don’t know how to slide a bag of maggots out of the brook.”  The high water from the hurricane added to the difficulty.                            Continued on last page)

The department did take the moose’s jaw to determine its age.  Keefe says he believes the moose was a young cow that might have had what he called “brain worm,” a parasite that exists in deer but which is not good for moose.  It sometimes gets into their optic nerves and they can’t see.  He says “rabies speculation is really going over the top.”

The cow’s death gave rise to concern over the calf, but Keefe says it would have been weaned by the time of the mother’s death.  By summer’s end, mother moose tend to stop taking care of their young, so, says Keefe, the calf is likely doing fine.

There are 250 moose in Massachusetts, about 25 to 30 in the western district, according to Keefe.  The Connecticut River Valley hosts the bulk of the moose as they tend to follow river corridors.  They “move a lot,” says Keefe.  A typical example is a moose that was spotted first in Amherst, then Conway, then Lee. 

DFW was the right agency to contact in this case--not DEP.  DFW is a biologically oriented agency, whereas DEP is an enforcement agency.  If you see a moose, have a question about a bear or are wondering if beavers ever get tired, call  the DFW office on Hubbard Avenue in Pittsfield (447-9789).  If you see or suspect poaching, contamination, illegal shooting or violation of environmental laws, contact DEP (1-800-632-8075).  (And don’t confuse either of them with DEM which is in charge of State forests and parks.)


Woodrow Witter, owner of the former Woody’s Roadhouse, thought a couple weeks of cleaning would shape up his building to attract a tenant.  Two months later, Witter says, the work is far from done: “each little thing turns out to be bigger than I expected.”  He’s tired, he says, but hopeful that one of the people who has expressed an interest in the building will take the plunge. 

A Becket woman said she’d like to use it for a teen center, while a North County man is still interested in turning it into a country & western place.  Witter is hoping to stage a special event or two before winter. 

In the mean time, as he cleans, he finds little odds and ends--some of which travelers of Route 8 have seen on the old sign. 


Washington Cultural Council grant applications are due October 15.  Grant applications can be obtained from Jeanette Roosevelt (623-8727) or Lucy Pagery-Gray (623-5817), and five copies must be submitted to Roosevelt at 443 Johnson Hill Road, Washington, MA 01223.

A new police officer will be cruising our area: Trooper Jeremy Cotton. The Town’s community police officer is James Gamari.  Both work out of the Cheshire barracks.

Blue recycling bins are available at the Transfer Station for $4.

This year’s Free Cash is $66, 584, up from last years $42,226. 

A cordless telephone was found in Washington, dropped off at the Hinsdale post office, sent to the Becket post office and found its way to Police Chief Rob Jarvie.  If you lost your phone, borrow another to call Jarvie (655-2408).


If you've got news, comments, critiques or photos 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