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Mount Greylock War Memorial Nationally Designated
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
02:27AM / Friday, April 27, 2018
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Park Supervisor Travis Clairmont told the council at its quarterly meeting that the hope is have Mount Greylock State Reservation open by May 17, weather permitting.

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Mount Greylock War Memorial has been designated as a National World War I Monument.

Becky Barnes, trails coordinator for the state Department of Conservation and Recreation told the Mount Greylock Advisory Council on Thursday that she applied for designation through the U.S. World War One Centennial Commission and the Pritzker Military Museum and Library.

"They selected 100 ... and they selected Mount Greylock as one of those, so we are designated as a National War Memorial, which is cool," Barnes said.  

Barnes said there are grant funds affiliated with the designation and she hopes to use them to fix the weather station and webcam on the summit. The U.S. World War I Centennial Commission is offering $2,000 in matching grants toward restoration and conservation of each the monuments.

The tower is a state project built in the 1930s but had been under discussion since the end of the war. Early proposals had called for a memorial in the Boston area but the Mount Greylock, the state's highest point, won out thanks in part to then state Sen. Theodore Plunkett of Adams. The 93-foot tall tower cost $200,000 and its 1933 dedication was a national radio broadcast. 
Four other Massachusetts monuments were also recognized: the Harvard World War I Monument, the Godfrey Triangle World War I Monument in Indian Orchard, the Wellesley Memorial Grove in Wellesley Hills and the Memorial Grove at Green Hill Park in Worcester.
Nearly 200,000 Massachusetts residents served in the war and 5,775 were direct casualties. Nov. 11, 1918, will mark the 100th anniversary of the war's end.

Park Supervisor Travis Clairmont said he hopes to be able to open the park May 17 – weather permitting.

"Last week that looked impossible. This week it still looked unlikely, but we did have a rapid snow melt on the mountain this week," he said. "If we can get that kind of melt going on this coming week we may be able to meet that target ... I still have the plows on the trucks because I just don't trust it."

Even if the state reservation opens on May 17, the opening of Bascom Lodge at the summit is anticipated to be delayed. Because of the heavy snow, preparation work for the season has yet to be done.

Clairmont updated the council on what happened on the reservation during the winter months and said there were three emergency rescues.

He added that because of communication issues between local emergency services and DCR there may have been more.

"The communication is not necessarily the best between emergency responders," he said. "There may be more we are simply unaware of."

Clairmont said he has brought up the situation to local first responders but it doesn't seem to make a difference. He added Lanesborough first responders contact DCR but otherwise, he just listens in on the radio to see if DCR's assistance is needed.

DCR District Manager Mark Jester said it is a statewide issue.

Clairmont added that DCR was assisted by the Thunderbolt Ski Runners during two of the rescues.

Council member Steve Blazejewski said the volunteers were informed by the Adams Police Department that someone was stuck on the mountain and dispatched.

He said both rescues were under three hours.

Barnes said typically it would take DCR four to five hours to conduct a similar rescue on their own.

"We certainly learned a lot with these two incidents," Barnes said. "Communication was improved between volunteers, our staff, and emergency responders."

Blazejewski added that the Ski Runners are working on protocols with emergency services so they can assist in future rescues

In other business, Chairman Cosmo Catalano said he did receive correspondence from state Sen. Adam Hinds and state Rep. John Barrett III and although they could not make any promises about securing funds for more staffing, they are aware of the staffing issues on the mountain.

"There is nothing earth-shattering here, and they did not jump up and say here is some full-time staff," he said. "But our local folks are hearing us and pushing it up the chain and that is as good as it is going to get."

The committee was concerned at its last meeting because the visitors center cannot be staffed throughout the year. The center on Rockwell Road is only open on weekends from mid-March to late April.

Clairmont said he thinks it is important to have the building staffed so visitors always have someone to make contact with before venturing into the reservation.

"Over the past few weeks, I have seen a substantial amount of visitors coming in, some of them aren't prepared," Clairmont said. "They had sneakers on ready to go for a walk and they got a quarter of a mile in and they hit 2 feet of snow. Without someone here, that is a recipe for disaster."

Before closing, Catalano welcomed new member Heather Linscott but noted that they are still in need of a Cheshire representative. 

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