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Around Leverett: John and Georgana Foster named Citizens of the Year

The Select Board named Leverett residents John and Georgana Foster as the town’s Citizens of the Year at the weekly senior meal earlier this month. The award reflects the couple’s service on town boards and committees during the 48 years that they lived in Leverett.

Georgana Foster, 85, said she and her husband live at the Lathrop Independent Housing Retirement Community in Northampton, but return to Leverett each year for the annual Town Meeting and still serve on some commissions.

In the past, John Foster, 87, served on the Select Board and Planning Board. He was also the chairman of the committee to close the landfill and build the transfer station and a member of the first committee to remodel Leverett Elementary School.

Georgana was a member of the Parent Teacher Organization, where she helped start the school’s library and develop a special education program.

Both Fosters have been members of the Leverett Historical Commission, the Leverett Historical Society and the Rattlesnake Gutter Trust. In 1964, they were part of the group of people who built the Mount Toby Friends Quaker Meeting House on Long Plain Road.

John — who worked as a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for 33 years — has also helped write and edit a number of works about the history of Leverett, including “Industrial Leverett, 1800-1880,” a booklet about the industrial and agricultural history of the town. Additionally, he leads tours of the foundations of dams and mills on the Mill River.

“We were very, very surprised, but it was nice to know that people appreciate us,” Georgana said. “It was very gratifying to know that people were thinking of us even after we’ve moved out of town.”

The Fosters’ names have been added to a plaque in Town Hall that lists the names of other citizens who have received the award over the years.

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Building demolition

The town has initiated a process to demolish a barn and shed on a piece of land at 1 Dudleyville Road amid concerns that it may collapse into the Saw Mill River.

According to Select Board member Peter d’Errico, the building inspector conducted a survey of the buildings in question — which are owned by resident Steve Blinn — due to complaints about their condition. The survey resulted in a recommendation to take the buildings down.

D’Errico said that Blinn would be notified and given a deadline to do the work himself, but if he does not meet it, the town will initiate the process to take the buildings down and place a lien on the property for the cost.

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Emergency grant

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency has awarded the Town of Leverett a $2,030 emergency management planning grant, which will allow the town to conduct emergency-related activities and purchase authorized emergency equipment.

According to Town Administrator Marjorie McGinnis, Leverett has received similar grants for the past three years. She said this year’s grant will be used to purchase sandwich boards for the emergency shelter, traffic stops to prevent cars from driving into the town’s safety complex and portable radios.

McGinnis said that the town has used past grants primarily for the purpose of upgrading radio equipment.

“We’ve basically been using this grant as an avenue to get into compliance with the need to use low-band radios, so all of our emergency departments have had to switch over to low-band radios,” McGinnis said.

“So for the last three years this grant has mostly gone toward new radios.”

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