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January 2000

Vol. 9, No. 1

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WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12, 4 p.m.: Meeting of the East Branch Stream Team at the Dalton Town Hall.  There will be map and shoreline survey reports followed by discussion of short- and long-term action plans.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 14: Spaghetti dinner at the Becket School, sponsored by the PTO.  Students’ work will be on display throughout the school.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 1:30 p.m.: The Living Abe Lincoln, a performance open to the public at the Becket School.


           For those whose New Year’s resolution was to get more involved in Town activities, the Selectmen have an extensive list of positions available.  Some are appointed positions, some are elected but would be appointed until the next election (in May, 2000).  The openings are: one Assessor; two Finance committee members; one Veterans’ agent; one Dog Officer; three Conservation Commission members; one Park Commission; one Board of Registrars.  Anyone interested in any of these positions should contact the Selectmen on Monday evenings at Town Hall.


          December 11 is a day Rhodora “Cubby” LaFogg won’t forget any time soon.  High winds were making even sturdy structures tremble a bit, but the old salt shed down by the Transfer Station was shaking.  Says LaFogg, “Around 9:30 or so I’d seen the roof moving and pointed it out to [Selectman] Dick Grillon.  He said we had to do something about it, but it was too late.”  LaFogg got the okay to close the Transfer Station for the day and “was just locking the gate because I’d seen the roof collapsing….I was scared to death.  I had my keys and was going to move my car, but I just froze.  The roof got to my car before I did.”  The scene was impressive, recalls LaFogg: “The wind just got under that roof and picked it up in the air and put it down on my car and then picked it up again and put it in the back.  The wind just ripped it into five pieces.”  The roof also caught the corner of the new office building, pulling off some shingles. 

          The Selectmen have yet to determine the fate of the salt shed’s remains.  It depends, says Selectman Richard Grillon, on what the insurance company gives the Town for it.  Meanwhile, the Town’s insurance has already paid for LaFogg’s car to be repaired by Roger Pagery at North Becket Auto Body.  So, LaFogg is back behind the wheel and doing her thing down at the Transfer Station, but, she adds, that was “way too much excitement for me.  I can laugh about it now, but that day I was doing no laughing.  I shook for hours.”


          Watch your mail for the annual Town c ensus forms.  Remember: this is mandatory!  Town Clerk Michele Beemer will have to track you down if you don’t fill out and return your form.  (By the way, don’t confuse this with the Census 2000 which is the Federal census.)


          In an unexpected turn of events, the tax rate has actually gone down this year from $13.61 to $13.09.  Selectman Richard Grillon attributes this in part to “good management” and in part to “getting the tax bills out in a timely fashion.”  According to Assessor Chair Michael Dargi, it’s a combination of factors, none of which alone would be enough to make the difference.  First, he notes, “pretty much, the funding was static from last year.  The Town didn’t spend any more money this year than last: there were no increases in the school and highway budgets.”  He adds that while “we did have a small amount of growth, it wasn’t much.”   On the other hand, “State aid was up around $20,000 to $25,000 from last year.”  Finally, “Getting the bills out on time certainly helps…since it allows the town not to borrow to pay the school.  All these things combined to make a decrease.”

Decrease or not, Dargi reminds us that tax bills are due January 22.  If people have questions about their evaluation or assessment, they should go to assessors office on Monday evening.  Questions about payment should be directed to Tax Collector Lorraine Deane (also on Monday evenings).


          Are windmills in our future?  Or hiking trails?  Logging?  Increasing wildlife habitats?  Or, somehow, all of the above?  If you want to have a say in the future of Washington’s Town-owned land, the Land-Use Committee is for you.  Town-owned land includes the 43-acre parcel behind the Town Park and across the tracks as well as the old Town Common (across from the old Town Hall) on Washington Mountain Road.  Anyone who is interested in this committee should contact either the Selectmen at Town Hall on Monday evenings or Richard Spencer (623-5865).


          With a court date set for January 19, the Selectmen appear to have reached a settlement with wandering-cow owner Henry Jaeschke.  According to the Selectmen, Jaeschke agreed to pay $700 of the $996 the Town was seeking, and has been doing so in weekly installments.  Says Selectman Richard Grillon, if Jaeschke makes the payments by January 19, the Town will let the case go.


          Christie Butler of Dalton is looking for photos taken or collected by veterans (war or peace-time) for a web site and CD-ROM project sponsored in part by the Washington Cultural Council.  A lot of Vietnam veterans had access to cameras and took color photos, says Butler, but the color of the photos is now at risk of fading.  Now is the time, he says, to digitize and save those pictures.  Butler picks up the photographs, scans them into the computer and returns them to their owners, so there is no chance of them getting damaged or lost.  He then organizes the photos at his web site: www.shoeboxphotos.net.  Later the pictures will be organized by township with each town receiving a CD-ROM of its photos.  Sometimes the photos reveal things unintended by the photographer, such as outdated technologies or famous people, says Butler.  He can be reached by phone (684-2418) or e-mail (butt@bcn.net).


          While the Ad Hoc Dog Officer Committee continues its search for a new Dog Officer, Peru and Hinsdale’s Dog Officer John Donnelly has agreed to field calls.  He can be reached at 655-2635.  People should note that complaints about on-going dog problems (that is, not emergencies) must be submitted in writing to the Selectmen. 


          Police chief Rob Jarvie reports that Washington has received a DARE grant of $6,000.  The money will go to the Becket-Washington DARE program for activities in the schools.

          Meanwhile, Jarvie says he is working on a Community Policing grant application for next year.  The effort, he says, is to get money for programs at the park in the summer, perhaps sponsoring the soccer league and funding resource officers at Nessacus and Wahconah.


          Congratulations to Bob and Geneva Chiplis, parents of Michele Beemer, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on December 31, 1999, with all of their children at their Indianapolis home.


          Postmistress Ellen Young sends the following reminder:

          The winter snow and ice are upon us.  Please remember to keep your curb-side mailbox and walkways clear of snow and ice.  In order to avoid the inconvenience of having mail held at the post office, please try to avoid a build-up of snow and ice at the base of your mailbox.  This build-up makes delivery from a vehicle very difficult and often impossible.  (Due to safety and time constraint policies, the postal service does not permit your carrier to leave the vehicle to deposit mail)  Quite often the mailbox which is properly shoveled out after a snow storm will acquire the snow and ice build-up later when the Town snowplows replow the roads.  Please try to keep this condition under control so that we may serve you on the route; your help in this regard is deeply appreciated by your postal carrier and the staff at the Becket Post Office who work together to make sure you receive the best possible mail service.

          Also, our postal carrier, David Weiler, is celebrating 10 years with the post office.  He has driven many miles delivering mail to the residents of Becket and Washington without any accidents.  Congratulations to Dave!



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