Hilltown Voices: Pollinator gardens, school bus safety, and a visit from Rep. Blais

  • Natalie Blais represents the 1st Franklin District. FILE PHOTO

For the Gazette
Published: 2/28/2020 2:10:28 PM

As a variety of pollinator species are experiencing population declines due to factors including habitat destruction, pesticide use, disease, invasive species and climate change, many people are asking what they can do to help bolster and sustain local pollinator populations.

On Saturday, from 1 to 2 p.m., Meekins Library in Williamsburg will host speaker Jayne Tauscher, who will offer a presentation entitled “Pollinators in our Garden.”

Tauscher holds a degree in plant and soil sciences from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and operates Jayne’s Hardy Perennials. She has been selling herbs, perennials and annuals at the Saturday Northampton Farmers Market for the last 25 years.

Through her business, she also provides gardening consultations.

“We all know that there has been a decline in bees, monarchs and other pollinators,” Tauscher said. “On Saturday, I will be talking about the importance of pollinators and how to create an eco-friendly garden that will encourage pollinators to visit.”

The presentation will also be the kick-off of the library's annual plant sale fundraiser.

Tauscher said that she has been involved with Meekins Library for a long time as a volunteer, a board member and a member of the Friends of the Library group.

“This is the third year that I have been doing the plant sale fundraiser,” she said adding that Meekins gets 25% of all the sales.

After the presentation, Tauscher will provide order forms for the plant sale. Forms will also be available at the library through the April 24th order deadline.

There are no treated or GMO seeds used for her plantings, and seedlings are grown from start to finish using organic practices.

Those who order plants will be able to pick them up on May 17 at Meekins Library.

Tauscher said she is looking forward to doing the presentation.

“I think this is a good way to help the library and to encourage people to plant gardens that are good for pollinators,” she said.

Donation pays for signs

Plainfield streets will soon have 24 new road safety signs thanks to a donation from resident Brent Steele.

According to Select Board Chairman Howard Bronstein, Steele donated $1,923 for the purchase of the “School Bus Stop Ahead” signs, in order to enhance safety at the town’s bus stop locations.

Steele’s 9-year-old daughter, Summer Steele, was killed in a school bus accident in October of 2016 when she was caught in the door of the bus while exiting. The driver was unaware of the situation, and the girl was dragged, sustaining fatal injuries.

“An Act relative to school bus safety,” known as “Summer’s Law,” was filed in 2019 and is currently before the state Legislature.

Bill S.2098 would require school buses to be equipped with sensors that would notify the bus driver when a person is within 12 feet from the doors or the front or rear of the bus.

The Select Board accepted Steele’s donation at their January meeting, and Bronstein says that Highway Superintendent Mert Taylor is currently working on acquiring and installing the new signs.

Blais to visit Hilltowns

State Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland, will be going on a “Leap Across the District Tour” this Saturday, stopping in several Hilltown communities.

Her tour will begin at 8 a.m. in Huntington, where she will be available to chat with residents at the transfer station, and at 9 a.m. she will visit the transfer station in Middlefield.

From there, she will stop at the Worthington Library at 10:15 a.m. before going to Meekins Library at 11:45 a.m.

At 1 p.m., she will make a stop at the Field Memorial Library in Conway, and from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m., she will be at the MN Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury.

Her final stop on the daylong tour will be at a Climate Resilience forum at the Frontier Regional School in Deerfield from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

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

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