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West County Notebook

Bear crossing in village

SHELBURNE FALLS — Among the town’s visitors is a 400-pound bear and Animal Control Officer Ed Grinnell is advising residents living between the Mohawk Trail and Severence Street to cover their trash cans, lock up their bird feed and be careful when walking at night.

Grinnell says the bear has been seen three or four times during the evening on upper Bridge Street, Severance and Maple streets.

“It’s not vicious,” Grinnell stressed. “We just want people to be aware of it and not get too close. Loud noises will scare it away. But if you appear to be menacing, you might get hurt.”

Grinnell recommends that residents walking their dogs late at night put on a porch light and look around before venturing.

He said capturing and removing the bear wouldn’t solve the problem. “If an area has lots of food, that animal will be replaced by another,” he said. “Wild animals are easy: They follow the food.”

At this time of year, he said, bears eat a tremendous amount of food. “They’re looking for the easiest pickings they can find,” he said.

He said the bear will probably go into hibernation within the next month. Environmental Police are hoping to place a radio collar on this bear, so that they can track its movements.

Home improvement loans available

SHELBURNE — To improve the town’s chances of securing a Community Development Block Grant, town officials are asking income-eligible homeowners to submit applications for interest-free home improvement loans.

Consultant John Ryan of Breezeway Farms Consulting told selectmen that only two Shelburne homeowners have applied for the grants, which weakens the town’s case that the grant is needed. He said if the town can show it has at least 12 applications, it would improve the chances that this money will be awarded.

The housing rehabilitation loan program, administered by the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, provides loans of up to $30,000, with 50 percent of the loan forgiven over 15 years as long as a participant owns the home and continues to live there. The loan balance is due when the homeowner sells or transfers the property.

To be eligible for electrical and plumbing upgrades, structural repairs, septic system replacements, lead paint abatement or asbestos removal, homeowners cannot have an annual income of above $45,100 for a single-person household, or above $64,400 for a household of four. Applications are available at town offices in Memorial Hall, or through the Housing Authority. For information, contact Lynn Cournoyer of the Housing Authority at 413-863-9781 or by email: lcournoyer@fcrhra.org

Memorial Hall roof needs work

SHELBURNE — The roof of yet another historic building — Memorial Hall — needs work, and selectmen are debating whether to get a short-term fix or start looking for funds for a major overhaul.

According to Selectman Robert Manners, the Memorial Hall Association, which runs the upstairs theater in the Town Hall building, has reported roof leaks.

D.J. Wooliver & Sons Roofing Inc. inspected the roof recently and says that work can be done for $7,500 to $10,000 to fix immediate damage.

“Wooliver found some flashing had pulled away and there was some leakage,” said Manners. “The roof is older than 20 years, and the drains were plugged with over a foot of water.”

Selectmen agreed to ask the contractor for an estimate of what a new roof would cost, in comparison. Replacement of the Cowell Gymnasium roof cost at least $80,000, although a state energy conservation grant helped to pay part of that.

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