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Hilltown Voices Field say features fire safety at Berkshire Trail school in Cummington

Cummington Fire Chief Bernie Forgea shows students at Berkshire Trail Elementary School how to operate a fire hose at Pettingill Memorial Field Tuesday.
Fran Ryan

Cummington Fire Chief Bernie Forgea shows students at Berkshire Trail Elementary School how to operate a fire hose at Pettingill Memorial Field Tuesday. Fran Ryan Purchase photo reprints »

Berkshire Trail Elementary School had its traditional end-of-year field day Tuesday during which students took in fire-safety tips from the Cummington Fire Department.

“Every year the Fire Department comes to do a demonstration for the kids,” Fire Chief Bernie Forgea said Tuesday while children played on the Pettingill Memorial Field behind him. “This year we have a smoke trailer from Hampshire County so they can practice fire drills.”

After reinforcing fire drill techniques, firefirghters led small groups of students through the trailer as it produced simulated smoke. Students quickly climbed out a window and ran to the pre-designated “safe area.” Once they had gone through the smoke trailer, students got the chance to use a fire hose to knock down wooden flames from the windows in a small replica of a home.

“This is all part of the SAFE program,” which refers to Student Awareness of Fire Education, said the Rev. Worth Noyes of the First Congregational Church of Williamsburg, Noyes is also a volunteer firefighter in Cummington and Williamsburg.

He said the program aims to educate children about fire safety strategies so they won’t make potentially fatal decisions such as hiding in closets or under beds during a fire.

The SAFE program is funded by state cigarette tax revenue.

“This was actually really fun,” 11-year old Serena Bondini of Windsor said. “I thought it was going to be boring because we had already learned this is class, but it was pretty amazing and a great learning experience.”

•••

Williamsburg TM vote
shores up COA

Now that voters at the June Town Meeting approved $10,040 in funding, the Williamsburg Council on Aging can secure the help it requires to meet the expanded need for services.

The money allows the department to make a temporary part-time administrative assistant permanent.

The town now funds jobs for two Council on Aging employees, director Marie Westburg and Fran Goebel, the outreach coordinator.

Over the past several months, the council paid for the administrative assistant post, held by Sherry Loomis, using temporary grant money from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs.

Westburg said the work done by Loomis has been helpful.

“We haven’t had an actual increase in staff positions in the last 15 years, meanwhile, the need for services has increased,” she said.

Westburg said the additional funding for the administrative assistant will support the council in seeking additional grant money for programs and services.

“This will allow me to focus more on program development, grant writing and long-term planning,” Westburg said.

Westburg said the Companion Program is in particular need of attention in order to grow the service to meet the demand. The program matches local community members with elders who need assistance with tasks such as driving, doing errands, going out for a walk or a meal, or to socialize and enjoy the company others.

“The Companion Program helps seniors in getting their basic needs met as well as helping them not to feel as isolated,” Westburg said. “We currently have 10 companions who do about one hour every week. We would like to bump that up to 20 companions for two hours a week.”

Anyone interested in serving as a companion, or becoming involved in the Council on Aging, call 268-8410

•••

Historical event Sunday

As part of its oral history program, the Worthington Historical Society will host an event remembering one of the town’s more “colorful residents,” Emerson Davis.

According to Historical Society member Diane Brenner, Davis was born in 1888 and moved to Worthington in 1918. A conscious objector during World War II, Davis was also a staunch defender of nature and the environment “He was a very interesting guy,” Selectman Evan Johnson said. He “lived out in the woods during the spring summer and fall and then lived here at the Town Hall where he often slept on the stage.”

Eccentric and a bit quirky, Davis, known as “Emmy,” was a much beloved resident, known for his kindness and as a man who enjoyed the simple of pleasures of life. He worked as a landscaper, Town Hall custodian, coached basketball and is said to have once worked with Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley.

Davis lived to be 90, and attributed his good health to exercise, refraining from smoking and drinking alcohol and eating a half-pound of raw hamburger every day.

“We have had lot of interesting people live here, but as time goes by their stories are forgotten,” Brenner said. “We are inviting people who knew Emmy to come and share their stories as well.” She noted that the stories would be recorded for the society’s oral history archives.

The event is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Historical Society, 6 Williamsburg Rd. Refreshments will be served.

Ideas for this column may be sent to fryan.gazette@gmail.com

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