Historical Commission minutes for February 2, 2021
Present: Sonia Morrison, Thomas Ragusa, Celeste Watman, Gail Gelburd, Judi Mabee , Diane Provenz
Guests: Ellen Beck, Lynne Geane, Geoff Pigman
Called to order at 9:30 am
Meeting minutes approval of January tabled till March meeting
Notice Otis Series Report – Gail advised 56 people signed up and 45 showed up for first meeting, a discussion led by Bonnie Parsons. The meeting was recorded and should be available on OPT website.
Geoff is working on setting up an acapella group for the March 11th meeting. Other possible Zoom meetings suggested were a visit with a wood turner and interview with Geoff about his new book. Discussed where the acapella group might assemble for a live stream. Second floor of Harmony Hall was mentioned and Sonia agreed to speak to Patricia about it. Lynn suggested she might have a space in her home if needed. Tom said he had a mike stand and two microphones that might work if the group needed them. Diane will speak to them to see just what they require.
Knox Trail Video and application- Diane advised Jessica said they are working on the script and will have something to report at our next meeting. Tom said Bonnie has submitted the forms/photos/abutter lists to MA Historical and he has made 5 additional copies. He is now working on the area that connects to Monterey. It will show the Knox Trail from the west gate, to Colonial Chadwicks house and Thurston house on Beartown Mountain Road and Brent Road, to the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Mountain Club never includes other trails at intersections so this is an important privilege. It should increase popularity and access to the trail. Sonia asked if we should be planning something for 2026 as it will be the 250th Anniversary of General Knox’s march. It was mentioned that Bob Peterson has mini cannons he might donate. om will reach out to Bobs daughter Robin. Gail wondered if we had any leads on indigenous/native use of of the trail prior to the Revolutionary War and Sonia advised Ron Bernard is planning to follow up on it. Diane spoke to Peter Cameron and he will discuss the subject with Ron and Joy Brown. Ron is also planning a hike in Sandisfield in April. Sonia advised we have budgeted 5K for parking lot signage along the trail. She is hoping if the solar deal comes through that the company might still help us with this as they had suggested in the past. Tom said DCR sent him a list of grants we might look at for assistance such as the Battlefield Trust Grant. He also received an email from Betsy Freiberg at the Dept. of Interior showing interest.
East Otis Schoolhouse – Sonia is expecting a report from Steve McAllister before the end of the month. Grant Committee is compiling a list of things needed for the MA Historical Grant. Lynne questioned if Bonnie and Sonia could help us by answering some questions on the grant application. Sonia advised that the foundation, roofing, and windows are basically what we need to repair for the first phase. She will review the form. She is also trying to get the budget down to meet matching funds requirements. Celeste had a question about who will be authorized to oversee the project as required in the grant application. Sonia said she will check with the town. Leigha Chaffee has been in touch regarding fundraising for the playground. Sonia advised that we would need to use traditional materials in order to meet requirements of the grants. We can discuss this aspect later. Most important issue now is to secure the building. Leigha has begun diversity training in town. Gail will talk to her about contacting the speakers she has used from Lee Diversity Education to see if they might be interested in making a presentation at our Notice Otis Series. We would be helping her and it would increase our visibility as well.
Budget- We have already planned for certain bills such as Knox Trail Video, Justin, Bonnie etc. OPT account shows approximately 85K balance. We now have two founding members for the Community Center thanks to large donations from Charles Rosenblum and Mark & Karen Amonte.
Grant Updates- Gail reported that the Fitzpatrick grants are rolling grants – there are no deadlines. This years moneys have been disbursed already. We should meet next month to request for next year, Lynne OBrien advised of a possible grant for archiving. Celeste advised this grant is not applicable since we are not paying for the digitizing. She advised work is 65-70% completed. Celeste also advised that the Otis Cultural Council would like to see plans for more educational related lessons in our next grant request. It was suggested that we examine creating a Junior Historical Society in Farmington River Regional School.
St Pauls- Sonia advised if we can get the 70K from the town account set up for a community center we should have enough matching funds for architect work. In the spring we can move forward with RFP for community center. Diane reported we may be able to have local help to replace the board and would just need $200 for renting a trailer to hold the lift. Awaiting town receipt of insurance info. Lynne will speak to Dave Wheeler who kindly volunteered his help, to try to get this set up.
CPA -Warrant deadline is April 28 should we decide to put it up for vote again at the town meeting, Discussion regarding whether this would be unpopular considering the pandemic crisis. A Warrant may also be needed to use the $70K in town account that has been earmarked for a community center for St Pauls
New Business- Community Center name will be discussed at OPT meeting Feb 16th. This may also be subject to vote at town meeting.
Next meeting March 2, 2021 @ 10am
Meeting adjourned 11:40 am.