Hilltown Voices: Countdown to Goshen meltdown underway; CDC offers tax credit program

Last modified: Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Forget the groundhog and his shadowy predictions about spring. In Goshen, spring is marked when the traditional meltdown flag plunges through the melting ice on Hammond Pond.

For the past eight years, hundreds of people have wagered on the day and time a 69-pound cement block that holds the official meltdown flag, will sink into the watery depths.

A charitable event sponsored by the Hammond Acres Association, proceeds from the bets are split between the winner of the contest and a selected cause.

Recipients of the meltdown funds have included Camp Howe in Goshen, the Chesterfield 250th anniversary celebration, and the Harry family of Goshen, who needed a handicapped accessible van.

This year, money generated will go to the Goshen Fire Department’s 1937 Dodge Restoration Fund. The antique truck was Goshen’s first fire engine. The vehicle was put into service when the fire department was established in 1948. The historic truck has been parked in a barn for many years, deteriorating with the passage of time.

A plan to refurbish the cherished engine was initiated by the late Fire Capt. Steve Mollison, who died in 2011. The Goshen Firefighters Association has collected almost $7,000 toward a goal of $25,000 to restore the engine.

Previously owned by the town, the vintage fire truck was sold to the Goshen Firefighters Association in 2013 for $1.

Fire Chief Sue Labrie said restoration of the vehicle is a way to preserve the history of the fire department. Rather than becoming part of the department’s active fleet, it will be a “parade truck.” Meltdown organizer and Goshen Fire Capt. Bob Labrie, said tickets are now on sale and bets have already started to roll in, some from as far away as Florida, New Jersey and Connecticut.

The deadline for meltdown bets is April 1. Tickets are $1 each. The bet closest to the day and time of submersion of the flag without going over, takes home the prize.

Predicting the precise day and time of the meltdown is a guessing game. The latest date the flag gave way was April 21, 2007 and the earliest was March 19, 2012, almost two weeks before the ticket sale deadline.

Given that in February Goshen received over 2 feet of snow, and with overnight temperatures continuing to drop below zero, this year’s event may be a record-setter.

“I think it’s safe to say that the ice is actually getting thicker,” Labrie said.

In February, Labrie placed the cement block and flag on the ice of Hammond Pond. Using a simple rope, he connected the block to an electric clock located in the nearby gatehouse. When the ice gives way, the tension from the sinking block unplugs the clock, which then displays the exact time.

To purchase tickets or follow the progress of this year’s event, go to goshenmafire.com and click on meltdown. Tickets are also available at the firehouse, the town hall, or by contacting Labrie at 268-7110.


CDC tax credits

The Hilltown CDC has received $60,000 in state tax credits that will be awarded to new and renewing donors in 2014 through the Community Investment Tax Credit program.

The program provides a 50 percent tax credit for Massachusetts residents and businesses who make donations to selected Community Development Corporations, including Hilltown CDC.

In the Hilltowns, the program will support the creation and preservation of affordable housing, the Hilltown Elder Network, and a jobs creation program.

Those who want to learn more about the tax credit program are invited to attend the Hilltown CDC annual meeting and dinner at the Cummington Community House planned for Tuesday, March 18, from 6 to 8 p.m. The event is free and all are welcome.

Dinner and conversation begin at 6 p.m. with a short program to follow at 6:45 p.m. Joseph Kriesberg, the president of the Massachusetts Association of CDCs, will share information on how the Community Investment Tax Credit program benefits the community and its donors.


Seed saving

Contemplating your garden? You may want to check out the garden planning event this Sunday sponsored by the Hilltown Seed Saving Network of western Massachusetts.

Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm will be on hand to discuss the particulars of gardening and seed saving.

“This is an opportunity for people to plan gardens and set up their own seed saving and seed breeding projects,” organizer Sadie Stull said.

The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. and will be at the Community House, 33 Main St., Cummington. For more information on the Seed Saving Network or this event, contact: Sadie Stull at 634-5013.

Items for this weekly column about Hilltown life can be sent to: fryan.gazette@gmail.com


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