Hilltown Voices

Last modified: Friday, July 11, 2014

An energetic group of environmental activists is taking to the roads of western Massachusetts in opposition to Kinder Morgan’s natural gas pipeline proposed to run from Richmond, New York to Dracut, including towns in Franklin County and Plainfield.

Dubbed the “Climate Summer Bicycle Riders,” four crews are visiting communities to bring attention to what they say are the harmful effects of fracking for natural gas — and to promote alternative energy resources.

Together, two teams plan to ride the roughly 235-mile route of Kinder Morgan’s proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline, while a third is raising awareness about a gas plant proposed in Salem, and a fourth is focusing on opposition to the Spectra pipeline, which would transport natural gas from the Appalachian Basin to New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

The riders are part of the larger Boston-based organization, “Better Future Project.” Founded in January 2011, it aims to address climate change and promote a transition away from fossil fuels.

Locally, riders will stop in 11 towns, including Amherst and Northampton, and end in Greenfield. Riders will be in Plainfield and Cummington from Sunday through July 19.

The team includes seven college students from Hampshire, Swarthmore, Warren-Wilson and Salem colleges, and Tufts and Yale universities.

“It is a huge commitment for them,” said Plainfield resident Polly Ryan whose property is along the proposed gas line route. “Families and churches will be hosting them along the way and they are on a $6-a-day budget.”

The riders hope to work with local residents in discussions and writing workshops to help build grassroots opposition to fracking and the installation of the Tennessee gas pipeline.

“This is a very creative and proactive way to get the word out,” Ryan said. “I hope it helps people understand what is really at stake.”

The Parish House in West Cummington will sponsor a potluck supper with the riders Tuesday, at 6 p.m. at 27 West Main St.

For more information, contact Polly Ryan at 634-5732, or Better Future Project Program Director Marla Marcum at (781) 475-0996, marla@betterfutureproject.org.


Bryant day celebration

Historical luminaries and Civil War re-enactors will converge on the William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington on July 19 to mark Bryant Day, and the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

Hosted by the Trustees of Reservations, the seventh annual Bryant Day will feature re-enactors from the 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Militia, Company C, and the Naval Landing Party who will be encamped at the Bryant Homestead for the day.

Bryant — a poet, journalist and longtime editor of the New York Evening Post — was a dedicated abolitionist.

People are invited to visit with the troops and attend demonstrations in camp cooking, medical techniques of the time, topographical engineering, firearms and military strategies.

Quilt reproductions will be on display and several locally handmade cot quilts will be raffled off to support the Bryant Homestead.

The Homestead will be open for tours; admission is $5. A schedule of events can be found at the Bryant Homestead page of The Trustees of Reservations website at: www.trustees.org.

The Bryant Homestead is on Route 112 in Cummington, 1.5 miles south of Route 9.


Worthington’s Moran house

On Saturday, from noon to 4 p.m., residents are invited to take a walk through the “Moran House” at 162 Huntington Road.

The house, left to the town by the late Ralph Moran, has been unused since 2007. The town had wanted to refurbish the house and use it as a town building, but the price tag of $724,000 was prohibitive.

Voters at the annual Town Meeting resolved to sell the home, with the understanding that the new owner would remove the house from the property and the town would retain the nine acres of land where it stands.

Structural engineers inspected the house and discovered that much of the original installation is intact.

The house was built in 1925 from modular components designed by the Hodgson Company, known for its “portable home” technology and the construction of high-end vacation homes. Its modular design will likely make deconstruction of the building relatively easy for the new owner.

“We have had about four serious calls from people who are interested in the house,” said Kevin O’Connor of the Worthington Cultural Council.

A pre-bid walk-through will take place July 19.

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


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