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July/August 2000

Vol. 9, No. 7

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THURSDAYS, 6 p.m.: Adult softball at the Town Park.  Bring your glove.  Have fun!

SATURDAY, JULY 8, all day: Becket Community Fair.  Fireman’s all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, 8 to 11 a.m.; Book & Tag Sale at the Becket Athenaeum, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.;  Dedication of the Paul D. Pharmer Homework Center at the library, 11 a.m.; Federated Church Fair including luncheon, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Opening of and Reception for watercolor exhibit by Hannah Sidofsky at the Becket Arts Center, 1 to 4 p.m. 

SATURDAY, JULY 15, 11 a.m.: “Paul Bunyan’s Polka Party” at the Becket Athenaeum.  This program of stories and dances for the entire family performed by Bob E. Thomas is sponsored in part by the Washington Cultural Council, a local agency, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5, 11 a.m.: “From Alaska to the Stars: Tales of Old and New Frontiers” at the Becket Athenaeum.  This program of stories and songs for children nine years old and younger and their families is supported by a grant from the Washington Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 27:  Annual Washington-Becket Softball Championship to be followed by Washington-Becket Town picnic.  Brings a side dish to share; beverages and grilled food will be provided.  People interested in helping out with the picnic should contact Dave Drugmand (623-6651). Watch the Park sign for times.


Six high school graduates will be receiving Town of Washington Scholarships.  They are: Nicole Gagnon, Erin Lenski, Mandy Oliver, Lindsay Schnopp, David Sullivan and Brian Spencer.  Each recipient will be given $100 upon successful completion of the first semester of college. 


Over 20 people attended the annual Town Beach Clean-Up at Center Pond, making for speedy work.  “We finished in under an hour and a half,: says Becket-Washington Recreation Committee member Georgette Keator.  Then, as part of a State-wide biodiversity weekend, Ed Neumuth led a walk in the immediate area and identified and talked about whatever was there to see.  Participants learned all about once-, twice-, and thrice-cut ferns, says Keator.


Four months after voters approved spending $3,000 to begin a process to determine if the Town has a wind resource it might use, some in Town have wondered what progress has been made.  According to Dan Valianti, CEO of Green Power Development (GPD), his company has met with Washington’s Land Use Committee.  Based on discussions with this committee, GPD has prepared a draft proposal to measure the Town’s wind resource.  The proposal, says Valianti, is currently in the hands of the Land Use Committee, awaiting comments and, he hopes, approval.  Once the committee gives him the go-ahead, GPD will submit the proposal to funding sources at the State level to obtain grants to cover the actual costs of measuring and analyzing the wind in Washington.  Once the funding is received, it would take four to six months to gather the necessary data using anemometers (devises that measure wind speed).

The Town should not be waiting until then to consider its options, says Valianti.  There is enough existing data and computer technology to provide simulations to show people the impact of a small-scale wind power facility.  Computer simulations can show what the facility would look and sound like as well as what its impact would be on birds and other wildlife. 

“This is your Town’s decision,” says Valianti.  “It’s a community-based effort” and people need to be informed to make the decision that’s right for them.  “The difference between this and other projects in the area is that those other projects are driven by Wall Street forces,” says Valianti.  “We’re looking at small, decentralized sources of energy, not a mega facility.”  The Washington project would involve no more than three small units producing maybe one megawatt--assuming the wind is there, something that won’t be known for several months.  In the mean time, Valianti says he and representatives of his company will be making visits to Washington to start presenting information to people and answering their questions.


The Washington Transfer Station received a Certificate of Recognition from the Center for Ecological Technology for its outstanding recycling efforts.  The certificate notes that during CET’s 5th Annual Textile Drive, Washington residents collected 480 pounds of clothing and textiles that were passed on to Goodwill Industries. 

Those 480 pounds represent only a small portion of what the Town donates to Goodwill annually.  As noted before in TRACKS, last year residents donated six tons of goods--all of which was transported from Washington to Goodwill by William Cawley.  Cawley would like to remind residents that how you package your donations makes a huge difference in how likely they are to arrive at Goodwill in good condition.  Accordingly, he reminds us to package clothing in strong plastic bags; stay away from the thin white plastic bags and paper bags.  Put rubber bands around shoes and boots to keep them together.  Tape game boxes closed.  Grocery bags must be clean and dry.  Finally, leave power equipment, bicycles, exercise equipment and any reusable metal things outside the Goodwill bin.

Visitors to the Transfer Station may soon be appreciating newly painted bins--the result of a recycling award the Town won for its exemplary recycling efforts. 


Breath-holding is probably not advisable, but there have been clear signs of forward momentum on the long-promised day use area in October Mountain State Forest.  Most significant perhaps is that in June DEM asked for and received the okay from the Washington Conservation Commission to move forward on the project.  The original Notice of Intent was filed in 1981, but has had to be amended as the project changed over the years.  The current plan would develop a portion of October Mountain Lake for picnicking, swimming and fishing. 

The project should go out to bid by late summer, according to DEM’s Doug Poland.  It’s possible, but not probable, that work could begin as early as late summer or the fall; it is more likely to begin in the spring of 2001. 

People might see work beginning on West Branch Road by late summer since this is a separate project and not involved in the potentially lengthy bid process, says Poland.  The road work would be done as a cooperative effort between DEM and the Town.  In the past, the Selectmen and Highway Superintendent Craig Willis have expressed the Town’s willingness to supply labor and equipment if DEM would supply materials.  Details of the West Branch Road work have not yet been addressed.


Cash, the 12-year-old black Labrador of Bob and Mary Gerhardt who became lost in his first days in Town (the Gerhardts have just moved here from Windsor), was found on Johnson Hill Road after two weeks wandering the woods.  Though thin, he was recovered in otherwise good condition.  His owners are thrilled.  They appreciate the efforts of the many people who called with possible sightings while Cash was lost.


With June’s rain, anyone whose grass is not growing is a lucky mower.  The rest of us are mowing at least weekly.  The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Center for Environmental Technology (CET) want to remind us: Don’t Trash Grass.  Bagging and disposing of grass clippings is unnecessary.  The grass clippings can stay where they fall.  Left on the lawn, grass clippings will decompose and act as a natural organic fertilizer decreasing the need for additional commercial fertilizer. 

The DEP has several suggestions for mowers.  Keep your grass mowed to two to three inches tall.  Keep your mower blade sharp because dull mowers tear the grass blades, injuring the plants and creating a brownish cast to the turf.  Try using grass clippings as mulch.  Apply dried grass clippings directly on the soil about one inch thick to reduce weeds, maintain soil temperature and control soil splattering and erosion, as well as water run-off and evaporation. Grass clippings are an excellent source of nitrogen for your compost pile.  Mix thoroughly with materials such as leaves and turn the pile regularly to keep it well aerated and to prevent odors.


With two programs now--one at the Becket-Washington School and one at the Washington Town Hall--Head Start is eager to find more children.  According to its press release, Head Start is a comprehensive program that is primarily for low-income families of three- and four-year-old children.  The program is also able to accept 10% over-income families and children with disabilities.  Children enrolled in the program receive a rich educational program.  They are served a delicious and nutritious breakfast and lunch each day from the Central Berkshire Regional School lunch program. 

Children must be three or four by September 1, 2000, to be considered for this fall.  If you or anyone you know has a preschool child that could benefit from a Head Start experience, please call 499-0137 for further information.


The Becket-Washington Recreation Committee will be offering swimming lessons at the Center Pond Town Beach beginning at the end of July and running into August.  The classes will be taught by Georgette Keator.  Sign-up will be at the beach.

A soccer camp for girls ages eight to 14 will be held at the Town Park on July 10, 11, 12, 17 and 18.  The camp is organized by Gordon Duff of Becket and is run in conjunction with the Springfield Sirens, a professional women’s team.  If you are interested in signing up, please call Duff (623-6104).


If you've got news, comments, critiques or photos to share, or you want to advertise, please write or call Abby Reifsnyder (623-6073) or send e-mail to tracks@town.washington.ma.us.


Send your comments and questions about Tracks at: tracks@town.washington.ma.us