Hilltown Voices: ‘Goshen Meltdown’ begins, Highland Ambulance to get half of the proceeds

Last modified: Saturday, February 21, 2015

With temperatures in the single digits, and 3 feet of snow on the ground, it may be hard to imagine that spring is around the corner. One event that signals warmer weather ahead, however, is the annual “Goshen Meltdown.”

This year is the 11th annual contest in which people buy tickets to guess when the ice on Hammond Pond will give way, sinking the 69-pound cement block that holds the official meltdown flag.

The Hammond Acres Association sponsors the event.

This year, event organizer and Goshen Fire Capt. Bob Labrie set the block out on the ice on Feb. 8.

“The ice measured 14 inches thick when I measured it last weekend,” Labrie said.

The latest date the flag gave way to the melting ice was April 21, 2007, and the earliest was March 19, 2012, almost two weeks before the ticket sale deadline.

The deadline for ticket submissions is April 1. Tickets received after April 1 will be returned unless they are postmarked on or before that date. To purchase tickets, learn more about the meltdown or follow the progress of this year’s event, go online to goshenmafire.com and click on meltdown.

The proceeds from ticket sales are evenly split between the winner of the contest and a selected charity, group or individual in need. This year’s fundraiser will benefit the Highland Ambulance Building Fund.

Since 2004, the two ambulances that belong to Highland Ambulance have been “temporarily” housed in the Goshen Fire Station, until a suitable location was found and enough money donated to pay for a new facility.

According to Michael Rock, service director at Highland Ambulance, plans are underway to build a new $500,000 facility in Goshen.

The building will be 60-feet by 72-feet and will have two ambulance bays, office space, a training room, and a room with a small kitchenette and two beds that will serve as crew quarters.

“I don’t know the exactly how much we have raised, but I am pretty sure that we are now over $100,000,” Rock said.


Film on industrial agriculture

The Hilltown Seed Saving Network and the Old Creamery Co-op will host a screening of the film “Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds” at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Cummington Community House.

An independently produced film, “Open Sesame” explores industrial agriculture and genetically modified seeds, as well as those who are trying to protect and propagate heirloom seed varieties to ensure the genetic diversity of food crops.

According to the Seed Savers Exchange, an organization that has been promoting the preservation of heirloom varieties since 1975, genetic crop diversity has declined from 7,000 to 150 plant species, specifically with the rise of modern agricultural practices. It says that this loss means that the food supply is dependent on a small variety of crops, making it more vulnerable to pests, diseases, and changes in climate.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that roughly 90 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that existed 100 years ago no longer exist today and heritage grain is near extinction.

“Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds,” features a diverse range of people whose lives center around saving seeds including farmers, gardeners and seed activists including Indian environmental activist and anti-globalization author Vandana Shiva.

“We have had a number of events where people have come and swapped seeds as well as information on developing a greater capacity for saving seeds,” Hilltown Seed Network member Michael Alterman said. “This is the first time we have shown a film and we are expecting it to be well attended.”

The Hilltown Seed Network is a group of residents who are interested in saving and sharing seeds. The organization works to educate themselves and others on the value and necessity of seed-saving.

The network is creating a local seed bank that includes both a physical and virtual format. They are also scheduling a series of workshops over the coming months.

A suggested donation to attend the film is $5 to $10.

Further information on the Hilltown Seed Network is available online at hilltownseeds.wordpress.com, or by calling Sadie at 413-634-5013 or Michael at 413-358-6919.


Plainfield historical district

After roughly 15 years of research and planning, the Plainfield Historical Society is close to having the center of town recognized as a historic district.

It would include 25 to 30 homes in and around the main intersection in town.

“It has been a long process completing all of research on the homes,” Historical Society member Judy Williams said. “We had to submit a very long report to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, detailing the historical and architectural information on each home.”

Williams said she feels confident that the designation will be approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

“It is really quite an honor for the town to have this designation,” Williams said.

Because this is a state designation, homeowners do not have to worry about any restrictions or regulations that a national historic designation might put on their homes, according to Williams.

A speaker from the Massachusetts Historical Commission will discuss the designation at 7 p.m. Monday in the Town Hall.


Cougar presentation changed

The cougar presentation sponsored by the Chesterfield Council on Aging that had been rescheduled for this Sunday, has been changed again because of the forecast for more inclement weather.

Organizers have rescheduled the presentation to 2 p.m. March 22, in the Chesterfield Community Center at 400 Main Road.

Ideas for this column on life in the Hilltowns can be sent to Fran Ryan at Fryan.gazette@gmail.com.


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