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The New Ashford Fire Department celebrates its new engine on Saturday at an open house and fire truck blessing.
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New Ashford Fire Chief Frank Speth talks about the history of the department.
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New Ashford Fire Department Chaplain J.D. Hebert blesses the department's turnout gear.
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New Ashford's new fire truck Saturday gets a ceremonial dousing with a hose.
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Firefighters help their new engine back into the station as they are doused with a fire hose during Saturday's ceremony.

New Ashford Fire Department Puts New Truck into Service

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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New Ashford Fire Department Chaplain J.D. Hebert gives an invocation on Saturday morning.
NEW ASHFORD, Mass. — With a blessing from its chaplain and a ceremonial dousing from a fire hose, the New Ashford Volunteer Fire Department on Saturday christened its first new apparatus in two decades.
 
The company purchased a 2003 HME Central States pumper from the town of Pelham earlier this year.
 
On Saturday, the department held a brief ceremony during which Chaplain J.D. Hebert blessed both the new engine and the company's turnout gear.
 
After the apparatus was sprayed with a hose, a handful of New Ashford's bravest helped push it as it was backed into the station on Ingraham Road.
 
Fire Chief Frank Speth said the new engine has a 1,500 gallon pump and carries 1,000 gallons of water. And it replaces a truck that was facing some costly repairs to keep on the road.
 
"We had a 1991 Spartan," Speth said. "When we had the pump tested, it needed about $40,000 worth of repairs. Being it's almost 30 years old, I said to the town, 'We put the $40,000 in, but then how many more years can we get out of it?'
 
"Once you get into the pump situation, you get into, 'This needs to be done, and this needs to be done,' and it could be more than $40,000. So do we want to spend that amount of money to repair that engine or get something that will replace it."
 
At the same time, the new engine also replaces a 1981 Hahn that the department received in a donation from a town in New Jersey.
 
The truck that went into service on Saturday morning gives New Ashford two pumpers and a 2,300-gallon tanker that it acquired brand new with a grant in 2021.
 
It bears both the seal of the New Ashford department and an emblem representing the Quabbin Reservoir with the words "Proudly Served," in a nod to its time in the Quabbin area town of Pelham.
 
"This is a 2003 [truck] that served their community well," Speth said. "The engine has been regularly serviced, regularly maintained.
 
"When we went down to pick the engine up, the fire chief down there, Dennis Nazzaro, left a lot of equipment on it — radios, chain saws."
 
The next apparatus in the department's rotation for replacement is a 2004 Darley that New Ashford purchased off the assembly line with the proceeds of a grant.
 
But that is a concern for another day.
 
Saturday was all about celebrating the new engine, showing off the fire station with an open house and offering thanks for the volunteer firefighters and prayers for their continued safety.
 
Hebert invoked the name of St. Florian, the third-century patron saint of firefighters.
 
"May our community come together to uplift and empower those who selflessly serve as firefighters," Hebert said. "Let us surround them with love, encouragement and solidarity in their important work."
 

Tags: fire engine,   

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On a IV-II Vote, Mount Greylock Keeps Latin Program

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A divided Mount Greylock Regional School Committee on Tuesday voted to restore the middle-high school's Latin program for the 2024-25 academic year and beyond.
 
Six members of the committee attended the special meeting called last week to decide on whether to keep Mount Greylock a two-world language school or only offer Spanish to incoming seventh-graders starting in the fall.
 
Steven Miller moved at the outset of Tuesday's session that the School Committee utilize more or less $66,000 from the committee's reserves to close a funding gap for fiscal year 2025 and commit to funding Latin until at least next year's seventh-graders have the opportunity to take Advanced Placement Latin, presumably in their senior year of 2029-30.
 
Miller was joined by Jose Constantine, Curtis Elfenbein and Ursula Maloy in voting in favor of the plan. Christina Conry and Carolyn Greene voted against Miller's motion.
 
Conry noted that in the school year that just ended, Mount Greylock had just 58 students enrolled in Latin across six different grade levels (an average of just fewer than 10 per grade), as opposed to 300 students studying Spanish.
 
Prior to this spring's announcement that the school would not offer Latin 7 (for seventh-graders) or Latin 8 in 2024-25, there were 15 students signed up for the former and just 10 for the latter.
 
Historically, over the last nine years, Mount Greylock's student population studying the classic language went from 103 in 2015-16 to 58 last year, with a spike of 148 in the 2018-19 academic year, according to figures the administration provided the School Committee on Tuesday.
 
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