A chair dedicated to the late Austin Rogge will have a place of honor.
ADAMS, Mass. — The Maple Grove Civic Club took a moment on Sunday to remember founding member Austin Rogge, who died in June at the age of 96.
Rogge had been involved with a number of activities with the club during his half-century as a member and in his later years had helped out in the kitchen and presided over the swearing-in of the club's new officers each year.
Member and Selectman Joseph Nowak had spearheaded the dedication of an oak chair with a plaque in Rogge's memory.
The world War II veteran had attended the civic club's last meeting at the Polish National Alliance before the summer break in May, but had fallen ill and never recovered.
"It was really hard for him near the end, because I'd bring him down, but he wouldn't miss it for the world," said Nowak.
In a short ceremony during the meeting, Rogge's son, Joseph Rogge, expressed how much the club and its members had meant to his father.
"People would come around and make him feel warm and welcome," he said, pointing to three aspects in which the club his father.
First, the volunteers in the kitchen involved him in the activity, having test the coffee or set out plates; "the leadership of the club treated him with great respect"; and club members would greet and speak to him before each meeting.
"He felt so special because of all the people here," said Rogge. "I just wish I could do as much as he did for other people because he cared about everyone and they knew that and cared back."
The club also heard from Assessor Donna MacDonald, who had been invited to speak on how the town determines its tax rate.
MacDonald explained that her office reviews relevant house sales during the year and, using other factors, determines the value of the properties in town. She reviewed the figures with the Selectmen at the tax classification hearing held earlier this month.
The office is currently doing the 2014 evaluation. "There were over 200 sales but they're not all 'arm's length' sales so we have to analyze each and everyone of them for the statistics we have to do," she said.
So-called "arm's length" sales, usually considered ones between strangers or regular sales, are used to determine fair market value.
"There are a lot of sales that are well below the assessed prices but people are hurting so they're doing short sales or walking away from their homes," said MacDonald, and banks are selling for less than market value. "Values stabilized this year, but I think we are going to see them incrementally go up next year."
Property values have a determination on the tax rate, but MacDonald said the budget determines what has to be raised. She fielded several questions — and a number of complaints increase in taxes — but said her office is responsible for setting values, not tax rates.
This year's tax is being raised $1.70, so a home valued at $100,000 will see $170 extra on their tax bill. Twenty cents of that is for the general government and $1.50 for the school district, including payments on the school renovation.
"It has to support the town and the school, whatever it does," she said, but added that the bonding for the Hoosac Valley High School renovation will be at its highest the first three years, then begin to drop. This the first year of paying on the bond.
Values have did not change from the year before but if property owners have an issue with their assessment the office will review the issue. There are also spots available in the program that allows senior citizens to work part time at the library, senior center and other areas to reduce their property taxes by up to $500.
MacDonald later said the tax bills would be going out this week and she expected more than a few questions.
"We live in a great community and I know it's going to hurt for awhile," she told the members. "And let's hope the Red Sox are going to win the World Series."