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May 2000

Vol. 9, No. 5

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

FRIDAY, MAY 5, 3 p.m.: Sing in Spring get-together at Town Hall sponsored by the Washington Council on Aging.  John Root (who performed at the Sons & Daughters Reunion a couple years ago) will play a variety of instruments and lead the group in singing golden oldies. All ages are invited.  Refreshments will be served. Transportation is avail-able.  Call Michele Beemer (623-6677) or Jeanne Cawley (623-8730).

SATURDAY, MAY 6, all day: Amazing Microbes Day, a free family day for all Berkshire County residents at the Berkshire Museum.  Sponsored in part by the Washington Cultural Council.

SUNDAY, MAY 7, 1 to 5 p.m.: Annual Town Park Spruce-up.  Bring your tools and plenty of energy.  Grilled food and drinks will be available.  Bring a side dish to share.

SUNDAY, MAY 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Mother’s Day Plant Sale at the Town Park, sponsored by the Becket School PTO.

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 8 to 11 a.m.: Breakfast at the Becket Federated Church parish house.  Pancakes, French toast, bacon, juice, coffee and lots of friendly faces--all for $4.00 for adults; $2.50 for children under 12 and free for children under three.

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 8 p.m.: Annual Town Meeting at Town Hall.  See article for details.

SATURDAY, MAY 20, 12 to 4 p.m.: Annual Town Elections.


The Emma C. Bailey Scholarship Committee met April 24 and awarded $200 scholarships to the six students who applied.  They are Nicole Gagnon who plans to study psychology and education at either Syracuse, University of Massachusetts or Colby; Erin Elizabeth Lenski, who wants to study zoology beginning at Berkshire Community College and going on to Florida College; Mandy Oliver, who will be studying music at the Berklee College of Music; Lindsay Schnopp, who plans to study biology at SUNA; Brian Spencer, who plans to study computer animation at Berkshire Community College; and David C. Sullivan, who plans to study liberal arts and business at Westfield State College.  The scholarship money is awarded after successful completion of the first semester of college.

                This is the last call for applications for the Washington Scholarships.  They should be submitted as soon as possible to Linda Levernoch, 387 Upper Valley Road, Washington, 01223.


Linda Levernoch is not an assessor; she is the Assessors’ Clerk.  She will be helping out with the inspections along with Assessors Michael Dargi and Kimberly Denault.


The owner of the former Mapleview Nursing Home has, according to the Selectmen, walked away from the property.  This has left the Town responsible for keeping the property from becoming a public safety hazard.  Already the septic tank has been uncovered and the well house broken into, they say.  The Town will have to have the structure boarded up, says Selectman Richard Grillon, which could prove costly due to the large number of windows in the building.  The Town will be placing a lien on the property once it gets all the paperwork in order.

Meanwhile, another abandoned property--known as the Virginia Lake Shores property--has become subject to a “quick claim” by out-of-towner Charles Rinaldi.  The property is on Middlefield Road on the Middlefield line.  It was subdivided over 40 years ago, according to the Selectmen, but then abandoned by the corporation that was to develop the land.  A central lot, larger than the rest and thought to have been intended as the common area for the development, has remained unclaimed for many years.  A “quick claim” can apparently be made on abandoned property by someone willing to take it over.  The Selectmen, on advice from Town Counsel Sarah Bell, have determined that Rinaldi’s claim must be legal as the Town neither collected taxes nor placed a lien on the property. 

And finally, the long-abandoned property on Upper Valley Road has now been demolished. Building Inspector Keith Fox secured a grant which paid for the work. 

And quick work was made of it by Maxymillian of Pittsfield.

Click here to see the pictures.


In a total budget of $876,470, Article 45 may prove to be one of the more popular articles voters will be considering at this year’s Annual Town Meeting.  It asks voters to transfer $15,000 from Free Cash to reduce the tax rate.  According to Finance Committee member Richard Spencer, this would have the effect of lowering the tax rate by about 35 cents.  This, combined with other changes, will help lower this year’s tax rate by a total of about 70 cents.  This news should make the sometimes lengthy ATM more enjoyable for some.

Other big-ticket items on the warrant include a transfer of $25,000 from Free Cash to Stabilization.  Spencer characterizes Stabilization as a kind of planned savings for major expenditures.  Voters will also be asked to okay spending up to $60,000 on a new backhoe/loader for the highway department. 

As usual the most costly article on the warrant is the school budget: $36,901 for capital costs; $398,769 for operating expenses; and $10,000 for vocational education and transportation.  Next most costly is the Highway Department budget at $207,723.  Elected officers will see a 3% raise, if approved.  Of the two loans outstanding on DPW trucks, one will be paid off this year with $6,786.51, while the other has one year left at around $10,000.

Several articles concern adjustments in procedures due to the impending end of county government.  In particular, this will affect what happens to dog license fees which in the past have been passed on to the county, then returned to the Town earmarked for the library.

In a rare, non-monetary article, voters will be asked to authorize the Selectmen to enter into an agreement with a number of South County towns for the purpose of hazardous waste disposal.  According to Spencer, there will be funding associated with this agreement, but not until next year. 

The bulk of the warrant contains budget items that have not changed significantly from last year to this--such items as $200 for the Sons & Daughters Reunion and $6,000 for fire protection from the Becket Fire Department.

Look for the warrant in its entirety at the Town’s web site: town.washington.ma.us.


For the first time in several years there are not one but two contested races at the annual Town elections.  Running against incumbent Selectman David Fish is James Huebner of Plunkett Reservoir Road.  And incumbent Moderator Ed Bond faces off against Martin Packer of Cross Place Road.  The rest of the slate is as follows: Assessor--Michael Dargi; Auditor--Michele Beemer; Planning Board--Ernest Lampron III; Town Clerk--Allison Mikaniewicz; Tree Warden--Craig Willis.  Several positions have no one running: Assessor (one year, unexpired); Finance Board (one year, unexpired, and three years); Treasurer (three years). 


The road crew may tire of battling with the beavers on Cross Place Road, but it turns out to have an unforeseen benefit: it provides ample opportunity to see the two moose who have taken to wandering the area.  All three members of the road crew have seen the moose--one of which they describe as very big.  Marty Packer, a resident of Cross Place Road, looked up from his work recently to see the pair ambling across his driveway.  The two have left tracks all over, so travelers of the road should be alert!  And if you get a picture, send it to TRACKS and we’ll print it in the next issue!


The local Boy Scout Troop 26 from Becket and Washington will be cleaning up Washington Mountain Road for the DPW on Saturday, May 13.

Groups who want to use the Town Park must apply with Dave Drugmand (623-6651).

The new Town Park bathrooms are now open for use. 


Housekeeper wanted, a few hours, occasionally but steady and long-term.  In Washington.  Call  781-828-7864 for more information and leave a message.


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.



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