We held our second Stamford/Clarksburg Crime Watch meeting. Clarksburg Police Chief Michael Williams addressed the group of 20 serious and committed residents. Great information was given out about the latest confirmed break-in/burglary on East Road in Clarksburg that occurred yesterday (Friday, Dec. 11).
Members are getting more organized and the next Community Watch meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 16, at 1 p.m. at the Stamford, Vt.) School. We expect a big turnout at the next meeting, because attendees said they were committed to making their community aware and getting involved. Signs will be posted at Billmont's Country Store in Stamford and the Clarksburg Town Hall. All newspapers will be contacted as well as all the schools.
The meeting agenda included a review of key points raised at the first meeting; a handout on how to form a neighborhood watch; a request for volunteers; information on a reward related to a Clarksburg break-in and a handout on suspicious behavior and activity; and an update on the new Web site, www.TownCrimeWatch.com, from which 10 e-mail alerts have been sent since the first meeting.
Volunteers are needed to help set meeting dates/locations and attend, promote meetings and raise awareness, make and distribute fliers, sign-ups for email alerts, organize meetings and set the agenda, contribute to ideas for the group's success, type minutes and organize refreshments.
To report information, leads and tips to police, contact the non-emergency numbers:
Vermont State Police: 802-442-5421
Clarksburg Police: 413-663-7795
Editor: Meeting attendees are welcome to share what they learned by posting below. We've also been told, unofficially, that a break-in occurred in the town of Florida two weeks ago. Thanks to the Crime Watch for helping us keep everyone updated.
The Clarksburg Crime Watch wants to catch a thief and is putting up $1,000 reward to find him or her.
The town was hit by a half-dozen burglaries from September to the beginning of November; most are believed to be the work of Stefan Veremko, a Pittsfield man charged recently in connection of string break-ins running from Southern Vermont to South County.
A number of Clarksburg residents, however, are convinced Veremko wasn't working alone or that a second burglar was working the same territory. Several members of the crime watch, who want to remain anonymous, are offering the reward in hopes of catching the person or persons - and returning residents' peace of mind.
The reward will be given to anyone who comes forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons responsible for committing the recent break-in and burglary crimes, particularly one on Mountain View Drive that occurred on the afternoon of Oct. 31.
Residents are asked to call 413-663-7795 with any information they can provide to solve the remaining break-in case (possibly cases) not solved.
In order to claim the reward, you must (1) provide information to the law-enforcement agency that leads to the arrest and conviction of the party responsible for the crime and (2) submit a claim for a reward to Police Chief Michael Williams, who will contact the community watch members on your behalf.
In the event that two or more individuals provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for said crimes, the reward will be apportioned between them as determined appropriate by the watch group. The reward expires on Oct. 31, 2010.
"The Clarksburg Community Watch extends its deepest appreciation to those community members and individuals who have offered this reward. We encourage people to come forward with any information. Please help your community!"
Clarksburg and Stamford, Vt., residents can now keep up with local crime-watch events through a new Web site, Neighborhood Watch.
The site includes feeds of a Facebook page created shortly after several reported burglaries in the two towns, contact information for the two town's crime watch groups, how to report a crime and tips to prevent becoming a victim.
To post to the site, you must become a fan of Town Crime Watch on Facebook.
According to a post on the site, Clarksburg Community Watch members are planning a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of what they believe is a second burglar.
Police say Stefan Veremko of Pittsfield is connected to multiple break-ins in the county, including at least two of the four recent ones in Clarksburg. His girlfriend, Tara Malloy, a former Clarksburg resident, has been cooperating with police and is expected to be charged as well.
Vermont State Police say Veremko will also be charged with two break-ins in Readsboro, two in Searsburg and one in Stamford. Stamford has had two recent break-ins.
A number of Clarksburg residents believe that another person is responsible for those burglaries so far not connected to Veremko.
We received this letter from Clarksburg Selectman Carl McKinney on the recent break-ins. Rather than just post it in our letters section, or on the multiple stories we decided to post it here with links back to it.
First and foremost, I would like to both express my sympathy and empathy to those folks whose homes were violated and robbed. I know from first hand the feeling. In 1976, we were robbed. Clarksburg really didn't have a Police Department; we had a constable and deputy. They did the best they could. But my Father did not go down to the Selectmen and blame them. Things happen. And society is changing.
The Clarksburg Police Department has been working on these cases tirelessly, and I know Chief Mike [Willliams] has been putting in 16 hour days. Thank God he's on salary. I know he has been in contact with the district attorney, the Massachusetts State Police Crime Unit, the Berkshire County Drug Task Force and neighboring community police
departments. This is how it is either going to be solved…or not. There are no guarantees, and throwing money at the problem will not necessarily result in a different outcome.
I applaud the creation of Crime Watch Units. When we had a B&E last spring in the East and Daniels roads area, many people came to complain. The Chief offered to assist them with the creation of a Crime Watch. After the break-in was settled, that was it - no more communication, no interest, and that's where it was left. If a community watch is to be successful, it will require determination, co-operation, co-ordination and communication…for the long haul;.
Much has been made and said about the furloughs. We had to cut 5 percent in that area of the budget. We had 3 options: A) Institute major layoffs (as it was we eliminated a Library Aide). B) Cut all Town Employee wages 5 percent and make them work the full 52 weeks; or C) Furlough the employees and keep their jobs intact, their salaries and benefits intact. We chose C.
Over the last seven years, the School Budget has increased on an average of $67,000 per year. The Town side of the budget has gone down over those seven years, hitting a low of $790,000 (from $1,000,000) a 21 percent reduction ... gradually going up to $990,000 last year, and reduced to $919,000 this year. We are still able to provide good services on a reduced funding schedule.
Much ill-informed diatribe has also been spewed about the "high taxes" in Clarksburg. That's HOGWASH. Clarksburg has the fourth lowest tax burden per household in all of Berkshire County. And we are between a quarter or a third of the property taxes they pay in Vermont, New York AND New Hampshire.
The lowest tax town is Hancock. But they have ski resorts, and TIME SHARE CONDOS. Those folks pay taxes on those condos but do not use the school system. Next is Florida. They have $90 MILLION in commercial tax base for the
hydroelectric generating facilities within their boarders.
Next is Egremont (I believe, don't hold me to it), and I do not know what their deal is, nd then there is Clarksburg. And all we have is each other. We have no grand taxing ability. Although the Town of Clarksburg could raise taxes 35 percent and not even hit Proposition 2 1/2. We choose not to; 30 percent of our homeowners are elderly folks living on fixed incomes. I know for a fact that there are elderly folks living in cold houses, and using public food security programs to survive. A dollar or two on the tax rate means a lot to those folks.
I do not think throwing money at every problem is the answer. And even if we wanted to throw more money at it…we would have to have a Town Meeting. How many of you even attended this spring's Town Meeting? Did you standup and request more money from your neighbors for the Police Department? I do not recall anyone doing that. Yet you want to hijack the town government, with a pistol and an attitude, and think you can do better. I don't think so. Let the Police do their job.
Carl W. McKinney
Clarksburg Selectmen Member
P.S. I do not post anonymously. When I write something I sign it with my name. You people hiding behind your keyboard and anonymously spreading fear, and anxiety, and misinformation…and sometimes outright lies sickens me.