TOWN OF LEVERETT www.leverett.ma.us October 2021
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• Dear readers: This will be the last Newsletter mailed to your house. But don’t fret; you will still be able to read it online on the Town website (https://leverett.ma.us) or pick up a copy at the Town Hall or Library. Additionally, if you’d like a copy emailed you can sign up for the Town’s notification system, Code Red, on the front page of the website and they will be automatically emailed.
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From the Select Board
COVID 19 public meeting mandates - We resumed in person meetings over the summer. Hybrid meetings (the combination of in-person and remote participation) may be here to stay, and we are working hard to provide in-person combined with remote-accessibility to the meetings. Muffled masking and social distance make this very much a work in progress - thanks to everyone for your input and flexibility.
Police Policies - Eight new and updated policies went into effect in all Massachusetts police departments on July 1. We are grateful for the diligent work of our Police Chief, Scott Minckler, integrating these Peace Officer Standards and Training mandates and for explaining the changes to the Select Board (SB) and other town residents, including the Social Justice Committee, who helped facilitate a deeper dive into the updated policies. The changes include but are not limited to an official ban on the use of chokeholds, de-escalation training, and requirements on reporting unlawful behavior in fellow officers. In other police department news, the Leverett-Wendell joint policing initiative is underway. There will be an informational public forum on the 5th of October from 7-8pm at town hall, with remote access also available, to serve as an informational meeting for residents to learn more about this initiative.
Library Director - Misha Storm resigned in June to take a position in Northfield, and we were quite saddened to see her go. The silver lining: Leverett resident Hannah Paessel was hired as our new Library Director. Director Paessel has extensive experience and a warm, welcoming energy, so we all feel quite fortunate to have her aboard.
Recent appointments for the north Leverett Sawmill property and dam: the Leverett SB appointed an ad hoc committee to study and enumerate our options - fiscal and otherwise - regarding the property; who will inherit it; and how it will be managed/maintained. The SB also approved creation of an official town committee to oversee and manage Leverett’s 250th anniversary events; member appointment is TBD. We also appointed Cat Ford to fill this year’s vacancy on the Board of Assessors.
Dog Officer: There have been several town related dog and wildlife issues, successfully managed by our co-dog officers Roberta Bryant and Meghan Gallo. Sharing the dog officer role has allowed for improved response time, upgrading equipment, and ongoing use of our local dog kennel for stray dogs. Thank you to residents who chimed in with ideas and interest in this collaboration.
Mosquito Control: Towns considered ‘moderate’ level risk for mosquito borne disease were rejected from opting out of the state mosquito control plan, which can include aerial spraying of pesticides if deemed necessary. Unfortunately, Leverett falls into this category and thus our application to opt-out was not accepted by the state. We are working closely with our state representatives to push for more transparency, as they share our outrage at not having clarity on the state’s decision. We have also discussed whether joining our local mosquito control district next year may lower our perceived risk category.
Facilities Manager—Our long-time facilities manager, John Kuczek, will retire on October 15th. The SB is deeply grateful for his years of hard work. We all breathed a sigh of relief when Will Stratford stepped up to fill this position.
Job Vacancies Current or soon to be vacancies include the Conservation Commission Agent, and Tax Collector/Treasurer (the latter two can be combined or separate positions). Huge thank you to those who have served as town employees, particularly in a difficult last year and a half.
Council on Aging With an increasing number of residents over 50 years old (currently over half of Leverett’s population), in the setting of an ongoing pandemic, the COA is looking for support with its future direction. Fortunately, several major sources of support and collaboration have emerged. Life Path, our local non-profit Area Agency on Aging, has been working with the COA and the SB to optimize a needs assessment survey for the region, with a potential for Leverett-specific focus groups, and a plan to conduct the assessment this year. Thanks to the hard work of town administrator Margie McGinnis, Leverett has received a $10,000 Community Compact grant supporting the Council on Aging to “work with a consultant to better understand the needs and existing resources of seniors, design and budget for programming, and assist with advertising the new activities.” This provides us a wonderful opportunity to collaborate in revamping our senior services. As if this wasn’t enough, the Leverett Elementary school and Leverett School Committee leadership have met with the COA and Life Path to begin charting a course for Age Friendly Community Program implementation in the Elementary School. Can you imagine anything more delightful than our community elders and our children doing meaningful work together?
Town Water Line: This is a victory for Leverett residents who have been working hard with the SB to find a definitive solution to years long water accessibility issues. A contract was signed with Balthazar Construction company to extend the Amherst water line to several Leverett properties in the Teawaddle Hill Road neighborhood, and construction is well underway with the expectation that the project will be completed before the end of the year.
Melissa Colbert, for the Select Board
Thank You Tom Powers!
A big thank you to Tom Powers on behalf of the Leverett Finance Committee. Tom’s analysis of state law and policy and his systematic review of possible financial scenarios for the town have been very helpful in our long-term planning. We know that Tom invested many hours in his work on behalf of the town, and we appreciate his willingness to apply his expertise to help establish a path to sustainability for Leverett. Ann Delano
The Leverett Municipal Light Plant (LMLP) thanks Tom Powers for his contributions ensuring that Leverett’s broadband project would be a success. Tom brought a wealth of knowledge about municipal finances to a committee that was long on technical knowledge and short on financial modeling skills.
It is almost a certainty that without his understanding of MGL Ch 164 (the law that allows for the formation of a Municipal Light Plant as the body that oversees a telecommunications entity) as it relates to the financing of both construction and continued operation, we would not have the successful network we have today. His creation of the economic model that would properly fund the future maintenance of the network within town, as well as his sharp-eyed approach to dealing with vendor contracts are just two of many examples where the town benefited from Tom’s expertise.
Many generations of Leverett residents will enjoy LeverettNet because of Tom Powers. Rob Brooks, LMLP
Got a project in mind?
The Leverett Community Preservation Fund has money available for historic preservation, open space preservation, recreation, and affordable housing. Do you have an idea for a project in town that might fall within one of those categories? We welcome your ideas and inquiries. The application deadline for the upcoming year is December 1, 2021, and is available on the Town website. For any questions, please email Danielle Barshak, Chairperson of the CPC, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leverett Elementary School
Happy autumn from Leverett Elementary School! It has already been a busy season! We are excited to have welcomed 148 students back to in-person school this year. Our classes have been enjoying the cool Autumn weather with hikes throughout the beautiful Leverett trails. On International Peace Day, our school participated in the Pinwheels for Peace tradition, and on September 28 Jennifer Lee shared Native stories, traditions, and artifacts in her Wigwam. Thank you for all of your support for keeping LES thriving!
Annie Foley Ruiz, Principal
School Committee News
Welcome to our two newest school committee members, Aaron Buford and Becky Tew. We’re glad to have you both on board!
The 2021-2022 school year began on September 1, and our school enrollment is up quite a bit from last year at 144 students. We welcome families who are new to Leverett and school choice families who are new to our school.
The committee voted to approve a change in school hours this year to accommodate the later start times for Amherst Regional Middle School and High School students and be able to share buses. The school day now begins and ends 15 minutes earlier than it has in the past.
The committee also voted to approve a number of safety measures to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic including masking protocols, keeping students in class cohorts, a limited visitor policy, and a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for LES employees.
We are currently working to ensure the implementation of the anti-racism commitment policy that we adopted last year, which includes assessing the school’s current practices related to equity, implementing alternative discipline processes, examining and updating curriculum materials, and training in anti-racism for all school staff.
The committee has also discussed working more closely with other town boards and our local and state legislators this year to advocate for the needs of small rural schools like ours.
At our October meeting, we’ll be discussing the current Amherst proposal to move 6th grade students to the regional middle school and how this might impact 6th grade students from LES.
The school committee meets the first Monday of each month during the school year at 6pm, and all meeting information is posted on the town website.
Jess Rocheleau for the Leverett School Committee
Greetings, Leverett, from your Council on Aging
The Council on Aging is established by state law, Title VII, Chapter 40, Section 8B “for the purpose of coordinating or carrying out programs to meet the problems of the aging in coordination with programs of the Department of Elderly Affairs.” Our COA consists of seven members with a current vacancy. The latest town census tells us that of the 1800 or so souls who live in Leverett, 741 are aged 60 or older, and 249 are between 50 and 59. These are the people who are of concern to the COA. Leverett, we are indeed aging. Leverett has no dedicated Senior Center, nor have we an outreach person at present who could answer questions and make referrals. We work actively with LifePath, the area agency supporting many programs and services to older people, such as home care, Meals on Wheels, etc. Leverett is also part of Village Neighbors, serving the older persons in Leverett, New Salem, Shutesbury and Wendell. More information is below.
COA sponsored three programs before the Covid crisis: one was the weekly senior luncheon presented with support of LifePath, and directed by Carole King with volunteers. Chair yoga*, or stretch and tone, led by Nancy Paglia, and Foot Care by Nurses, coordinated by Judy Hobart. Of these programs, only the Zoom version of chair Yoga is still active, with COA funds and fees paid by participants. To join the program, contact Nancy Paglia. If there is sufficient interest, Foot Care by Nurses might be able to resume visits. These sessions are subsidized by COA and we ask for a $25 fee. For more information see the notes below. We are also working with the Leverett Elementary School to find ways to bring older people in touch with the young students. If you have suggestions for programs or services that COA might provide, please let us know.
Finally, COA is participating in LifePath’s efforts to assess the growing needs of the aging communities of Franklin County and North Quabbin. This effort in Leverett is supported by a Community Compact Best Practice grant administered by Town Administrator Margie McGinnis, with Dr. Melissa Colbert of the SB and COA co-chairs Fay Zipkowitz and Judy Raphael.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the COA, please contact Margie or leave a message in the COA mailbox in Town Hall. We meet mornings, about once a month or as needed. Meetings, agendas, and minutes are posted on the town website.
To talk to COA, please call 548-1022, ext. 2.
For possible Foot Care by Nurses visits, leave a message at 548-1022, ext. 2.
LifePath can be reached at www.lifepathma.org or 773-5555.
Village Neighbors can be reached at www.villageneighbors.org or 413-345-6894.
For Zoom chair yoga, contact Nancy Paglia at email@example.com. *Due to illness, the classes are on hold and will resume at a later date.
Leverett Municipal Light Plant (LMLP)
https://lmlp.leverettnet.net/> FAQ on website
The LMLP oversees the contracts that make LeverettNet work. Contractors are: Otelco, who handles all customer service, outage, and billings communications; Holyoke Gas and Electric (HG&E), who keeps the network running behind the scenes and initiates a repair call when an outage requires service; Collins Electric, who completes repairs to fiber lines; and Grace Electric, Lee Edelberg and Mark Pereira; who service the ONT communication boxes and help with telephone problems. If an outage is caused by your home phone system or damage you or your contractor caused, you will be billed for the repair. If you, as a subscriber, have an issue with any of our contractors, please contact us when the issue occurs. Otelco and HG&E also rely on a whole system of equipment and connections, like the Middle Mile, that they don’t control, to make their services work. Fiber cuts and outages are not caused by lack of care or competence on the part of our contractors nor are they predictable, thus prior notice of those outages is impossible to provide. In some cases, the fiber cuts have impacted only the phone service, but not Internet.
Remember: Do not move the ONT, which is the box on the outside of your house. If you need it moved temporarily, as for painting, please contact Margie at 413-548-9699 to request one of our electricians to move it, and subsequently to replace it. The MLP will pay for that work. If it is moved by anyone else and the fiber gets broken the property owner will be responsible for the full cost of repair. These repairs tend to cost around $1,000 or more.
If you have a problem with your internet or phone, please contact Otelco at 877-643-6246.
Leverett Municipal Light Plant Members
Rob Brooks (Chair), George Drake and Bob Weller
Margie McGinnis, Manager
Leverett Energy Committee
Does anyone remember the kilowatt use measurement gadget our committee had some years ago? We got them to loan to residents who wanted to know how many kilowatts their appliances were using. Today I learned that two of them showed up at the library. It is embarrassing to admit I/we lost track of them but they're back and you can sign them out of the library just like a book. The reasons for making use of these devices include making yourself more aware and more savvy about your own personal use of electricity and helping make good decisions about replacing an inefficient appliance.
Notice to everyone who forgets or needs reminding about the residential aggregation for electricity we enjoy in our town. No longer will you have to find the phone number of an Energy Committee member to ask questions about the arrangement in town that makes available to each resident a choice of 100% green energy, 100% Massachusetts generated wind energy, or whatever mix of mostly "dirty" fuels from Eversource. Go to the town website, find Energy Committee information, and select electricity aggregation. You may still call us if you need to.
Research continues on the possibility of creating a micro grid in town. Ideally, we could use different small sites suitable for generating electricity through solar and hydro power. Alas, we don't have enough wind, but we do have other resources. Micro grids are appealing to many small and large communities in New England. The outcome of these several efforts brings a community close to generating its own power.
The recent release of the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) is intended to put all of us on guard with its CODE RED warning for the Earth and all her inhabitants. It's a warning for all of us to internalize. Our committee is strengthening its efforts to inspire all of us to become as climate-crisis responsive as possible and more of us to become ACTIVISTS starting in our own homes. One scenario has residents finding time to read just a section of the lengthy UN report. And then trying to absorb what the implications are for everyone you love and everyone you don't love and all your companion animals and horses and the squirrels and bunnies and birds outside your windows, the astounding species not yet extinct, and the living microorganisms we cannot even see. We ask: What will inspire in each of us the change in perspective and lifestyle now recognized as imperative if we collectively choose to rescue the Earth from becoming uninhabitable, even hostile to life. Some people report a sudden personal shock: "what can I do?" becomes "what much more must we all do starting today?" The expanding consensus is that major changes in our perspective and the way we live are required. We are hoping and asking all of us in Lovely Beloved Leverett to decide what additional actions we can take.
Recently we sent out what we call an ENERGY COMMITTEE ALERT. The focus was our use of plastic which is a petroleum-based product that makes our lives more convenient but once out of our hands becomes deadly. Only a small fraction of plastic is properly recycled. And the fossil fuel companies that are promoting recycling and making single-use plastic bottles at the same time are deceiving us: recycling is not and has not been sufficiently successful to minimize plastic's destructive effect on the atmosphere and the oceans. Many residents are finding alternatives to plastic and we invite any of your discoveries and inventions which we will post in some organized way to reach everyone in town. Everyone can start by pledging to stop buying single-use plastic bottles.
Future issues for our Alerts include: reducing how much we drive our vehicles too frequently and inefficiently; reducing unused sections of our lawns, enlarging spaces for gardening and composting; and the provocative topic of our collective addiction to our extravagant consumerism!
Portia Williams Weiskel for the Energy Committee
Brooke and Shirley Thomas, George Lockwood, Cynthia Thomas, Richard Nathhorst , Peggy Wolff
Join us for a virtual visit to the Joseph Slarrow/North Leverett Mill on October 22, 2021, 7-8:30 pm.
Built before 1774 and in use until after World War II, it is the longest-running mill in Leverett, and a rare historic site now teetering on the edge of extinction. Join historians Pleun Bouricius and Dennis Picard, and members of the Leverett Historical Commission, in a virtual visit to the mill site. We’ll interpret what was once here and what is still there, learn more about the history of the mill, and discuss its future. The virtual visit will be followed by discussion. Free and open to the public.
Since this is an online event, registration is required, http://bit.ly/SlarrowMill.
In addition, we're happy to also invite you for an in-person site visit on Saturday October 23, at 2 pm. Please be prepared for uncertain footing and ticks, and observe Covid-19 related regulations with respect to masking and social distancing as they apply to you. If you wish to participate in person, please note so as you sign up.
(Part of the ongoing project, “A Sense of Where You Are, Finding and Interpreting Mill Foundations in the Landscape”, this event is funded in part by the Leverett Community Preservation Commission.)
The Leverett Historical Commission and Leverett Historical Society will start the scanning and digitizing of our town's historical documents, photographs, maps and more in early October. Two students from the UMass Public History Department - Hannah Murtishaw and Emily Whitted will work with members of the LHS and LHC to preserve our town's history, first at the Moore's Corner Schoolhouse Museum and then at the Field Family Museum. We look forward to making new discoveries from old material and look forward to sharing with the community.
Susan Mareneck and Ann Tweedy
Stonewall Lift -- It’s the perfect time of year to be outside clearing unwanted growth from your stonewall to add beauty to our Leverett roadside. Stonewalls are an added example of our town’s heritage! It’s a joy to see many stonewalls cleared of rubble, showing their historic and aesthetic value. Thank you! A small but powerful team is ready to help, so email Sara Robinson: firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like some encouraging hands to give your roadside stonewall enhanced life. It’s a good way to start preparing for Leverett’s 250th Celebration!
Tax Relief Committee
It’s that time of year again, and The Tax Relief Committee wants to remind Leverett homeowners/taxpayers, of two important facts:
Sustainable Economy Committee Update
The Sustainable Economy Committee has been meeting twice a month, exploring possible avenues to help enhance living in Leverett, with the idea that life in Leverett should be sustainable, enjoyable, and accessible to all citizens. A couple ways we want to get there accessing the amenities we do have such as our historical assets, the trail systems, and the co-op. Also, we hope to involve town citizens in semi-structured “listening sessions” where we will ask what changes are important.
We have, with Margie McGinnis' help, applied for and received a state Community Compact grant that will help us put together all our budgetary facts and figures into an excel spreadsheet with different functions that will allow us to play out different scenarios. This project should help Leverett be proactive as it moves into the future.
Pat Duffy for the Sustainable Economy Committee
Community Announcements and Events
Friends of Leverett Pond
“If you build it, they will come.” And come they did. In 2020 The Friends of Leverett Pond built a boat rack at the launch area on Depot Road and stocked it with kayaks and canoes for use by town residents – for free. Our aim has been to share this town treasure with as many folks as possible. The response has been overwhelming. There is no better way to enjoy the pond than being out on a boat, and many of you did. We’re very pleased and hope to be able to continue this program next year. We especially want to thank all the volunteers who staffed the sign-out table each Saturday AM. Also, thanks to Edie Field (Leverett Historical Society) who made the Leverett Historical Museum available for the key sign-out and Diane Crowe (Leverett Recreation Committee) who helped us launch the program last year. This would not have been possible without all of you.
This past summer was the second in a row without any treatment for control of invasive, non-native weeds. In some areas it shows. We have presented a plan to the town for ecologically sensitive control of these invasives and hope for a positive outcome. We think it is important to maintain open water for native wildlife and future boaters to enjoy just as so many of you have this past summer.
Fund Drive to Benefit LES Greenhouse
The Leverett Education Foundation is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the LES Greenhouse with a fund drive to raise money to help make sure that this unique educational program can continue to benefit Leverett’s children for years to come.
Over the past decade, the greenhouse has become the centerpiece of an expanding outdoor learning initiative at LES and has performed a key role in enabling students to apply science concepts learned in the classroom to the plants and animals in the woods, fields, and streams that surround the school.
Ten years, however, have taken their toll and new opportunities have arisen. The greenhouse roof and irrigation system need to be replaced. New shelving is needed for an expanding library of natural history materials. More chairs and benches are required to hold outdoor learning classes. A toolshed and compost bin are urgently needed. Seeds, soil amendments, and other supplies and equipment must be purchased, and there is the persistent challenge of making sure funds are available to pay for the labor necessary for the planning and instruction that make this special program possible.
To raise the money necessary to assure the future of the Greenhouse Program, the Leverett Education Foundation has recruited business partners, joined with the LES PTO to hold a just-concluded Mum sale. We will be hosting a Greenhouse Tour and Guided Nature Walk on October 23 and reach out to the community for help.
Launched with a generous gift from Grass Roots Landscaping in North Leverett, the fund drive will run from now until the end of November. Contributions to the LES Greenhouse Fund can be made by sending a check to the Leverett Education Foundation at P.O. Box 235, Leverett, MA 01054 or by donating online at leveretteducatonfoundation.org.
MOSHER SHELTER RE-OPENED
The Rattlesnake Gutter Trust is pleased to announce the “re-opening” of the Mosher Conservation Area Shelter for individual and family use. Constructed originally by the Appalachian Mountain Club along the since-discontinued section of the Metacomet and Monadnock Trail that ran through Leverett, the shelter is a large, raised, three-sided structure ideal for family outings or overnight stays by one to eight people. The Trust took over management of the shelter in 2020 and has since constructed a 1.75-mile loop trail that starts on Shutesbury Road and passes through the Mosher Conservation Area and the shelter site, which also contains a fire pit and a composting privy.
The Mosher Conservation Area is located in East Leverett along Rat Hollow Road and can be accessed from the Roaring Brook Conservation Area pull-off on Shutesbury Road. Information and a map of the Mosher property showing the Mosher Shelter, the access, and the loop trail can be found at
Friends of the Leverett Library
We are happy to announce that the much delayed “annual” Friends of the Leverett Library meeting is scheduled for October 30, 2021 (rain date October 31) from 1-2 PM. The meeting will be held outside, so please bring chairs. No refreshments will be served. The agenda includes:
Official vote for officers;
Welcome to our new library director, Hannah Paessel;
Julie Anne Collier, a local favorite, will present a program and introduce her kestrels;
Our 2021 mugs, which feature Julie Anne’s kestrel portraits, will be for sale.
The annual holiday basket auction will be held online again this year, beginning mid-November. Details will be posted on the library website.
The Friends of the Leverett Library continue to purchase passes for many local attractions. The library website lists the passes currently available. We also provide funds for the maintenance of the lovely patio garden.
Our annual membership drive is underway. Please consider becoming a new member or renewing your membership for the 2022 calendar year. Your membership donations are used solely for library needs and programs.
MEMBERSHIP APPLICATION/MEMBERSHIP RENEWAL 2022
Please complete this form and send to the library at: Box 250 Leverett, MA 01054
Circle membership type: Individual $10 Family $20 Patron $50 Lifetime $200 If your membership is other than “individual” please tell us how many people should be listed in our statistics for your membership (e.g. family of 4):__________
We ask for your email address so that we can occasionally send you information about events and our annual meeting. We are not allowed to access your email address from library patron records and we will not share your email address with anyone.
ALL DUES AND DONATIONS ARE TAX DEDUCTIBLE
Good News from the Library
Greetings from all of us at the Leverett Library. As the weather is cooling down, we’re looking forward to seeing more of you wearing sweaters and coming in for a good book. Here are our extended hours:
Sign up for a library card There is no fee for library cards and the Leverett Library is now fine-free. So, invite your neighbors and friends to stop by, sign up for a library card, and get introduced to all this modern library has to offer.
Programming - more information on our website
Spice Tastings - Pick up a sample and a set of suggested recipes. All ages, monthly.
Storytime on Wednesday mornings - sponsored by the CNC
Weekly Storywalks - New stories set up on the trail behind the library.
Monday evening Strum-Alongs on Zoom upcoming dates: Oct. 11, Nov. 8, Dec. 13th
Qigong on Zoom
Apps to access your library:
Libby - read ebooks, emagazines, and audiobooks with your library card
CW MARS - place holds on books, DVDs, audiobooks, kits and more.
Museum Passes - free or reduced admission to local museums
Brattleboro Museum and Art Center
Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory
Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Eric Carle Museum
Smith College of Art
Children’s Museum of Holyoke
Clark Art Institute
Pioneer Valley Symphony
Kits - for all ages
We have a variety of science, craft, and toy kits for all ages. Learn to knit, try a chemistry experiment or go birding. Check one out today.
Thank you for your warm welcome!
I’m Hannah Paessel, your new library director. I read most genres and love to talk about books. I have particular experience with kids and teens so stop in to say hi or get a book recommendation. Thanks to Sue LaClaire and Jill Palmer for filling in during the transition between directors, they are wonderful. We are looking forward to seeing you in the library soon!
Posted: to General Town News on Thu, Oct 7, 2021
Updated: Thu, Oct 7, 2021