Hilltown Voices: Goshen Meltdown ends, organizer to take frigid plunge into Hammond Pond



Last modified: Saturday, April 25, 2015

The 11th annual Goshen Meltdown is over, but organizer Bob Labrie has one last thing to do before officially wrapping things up for this year. This Sunday, Labrie, a captain in the Goshen Fire Department, will live up to his spur-of the-moment challenge to hurl himself into the frigid waters of Hammond Pond.

The Meltdown has become Goshen’s popular harbinger of spring in which people place bets on when the ice on Hammond Pond will give way to a 69-pound cement block. Bets list dates and times, and the closest one without going over wins.

Labrie said that he issued his rather hasty challenge in order to boost ticket sales, and to convince people who were picking dates in May that there would be no ice on the pond at that time.

Labrie’s plunge is scheduled for noon on Sunday. As the time draws near, he is now wondering if there might have been a better way to sell tickets.

“I opened my big mouth a few months ago,” Labrie said. “Maybe I spoke too fast.”

As usual, the various inducements to encourage participation in the Meltdown are all in good fun, with half of the proceeds always going to a worthy cause.

This year, half of the prize money went to Meltdown winner Logan Martin, 16, of Longmeadow. Martin’s pick of 3:59 a.m. April 17 was 18 minutes away from the official time that the Meltdown block broke through the ice, disengaging the clock’s connection to an outlet in the Hammond Pond gatehouse.

Martin’s guess won him $811.

Labrie said that Martin is the youngest person to ever win the contest and that he will likely use the prize money to help pay for his first car.

The Highland Ambulance Building Fund will receive a check totaling $1,218, which is half of the Meltdown proceeds, as well as $407 of direct donations to the cause.

The two ambulances that belong to Highland have been “temporarily” housed in the Goshen Fire Station since 2004, until a suitable location and funding could be raised to pay for the $500,000 facility.

The new 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.

Michael Rock, service director at Highland Ambulance, said at the beginning of the Meltdown that just over $100,000 had already been raised for the project.

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Chesterfield Historical Society

The Chesterfield Historical Society has been watching over and maintaining some of the town’s most valuable and irreplaceable historical objects since 1951.

The nonprofit organization now hopes for the support its needs to continue its mission of acquiring, preserving, protecting and exhibiting objects of historical value.

The society has been trying to raise money through donations and fundraisers and also hopes to expand its membership so that it can keep up with the rising costs of maintaining and insuring its collections.

Historical Society President Kathie Brisbois said she does not know the exact membership of the society, but said that many are elderly and their participation is limited.

“We have a limited number of members and we are desperately looking for more people, especially younger people, who could help us out,” Brisbois said.

The society hopes to attract volunteers who have talents in leadership, committee work, grant writing and physical labor.

At present, two historic buildings need significant funding.

The Edwards Museum on North Road, and its collections, need maintenance investments. Options that are being discussed include repairs, relocation or possibly even demolition of the building.

The old Bisbee Mill on East Street is also in need of money to correct water damage, repair and maintain its structural integrity, organize its collections and make it safe and secure for public education.

“Last year was the first time that we had the mill open to the public in years, but the mill itself was not running,” Brisbois said. “This year we hope to have a crew to get the grist mill up and running for the public. It is really quite an amazing thing to see and hear.”

The society has also taken on the task of digitizing all of the town’s historical paper documents and photographs.

“The history of our town is important,” Brisbois said. “It is fascinating to see all of these things that take you back in time, and it helps you to imagine and understand what life really used to be like.”

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Exploring Plainfield’s landscape

The Plainfield Historical Society will host a series of interpretive walks through the town’s forested landscape.

Saturday will be the group’s first outing, and it will focus on the Plainfield Aqueduct Co. that was created in 1816 to provide fresh water to the town. The talk will include a look at the historical methods used to pipe water, the use of springs and the local geology.

The event will begin at 1 p.m. with a “history show and tell” behind the Shaw Memorial Library. At 2 p.m. participants will set out on a 2½-mile guided hike.

Terrain will vary greatly and may include some bushwhacking. Boots and appropriate outdoor clothing such as long pants, rain gear and hiking poles are advised.

The event is free and open to the public, and donations are welcome. For more information, call Pleun Bouricius at 634-2250. To download a map of the trip, go to plainfieldmahistory.org.

Other walks will take place at 1 p.m. on June 7, July 12, Aug. 16 and Oct. 10.

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


 


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