The Town Reminder

South Hadley's number one source for local community news.

Category: Police

Fatal North Main Street car crash under investigation

by Town Reminder

The underbelly of a silver Toyota Camry is facing outward from a garage of 197 North Main Street into which it crashed Wednesday evening after striking a tree.

Fatal North Main Street car crash under investigation
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer

SOUTH HADLEY – A car crash Wednesday evening in which a vehicle struck a tree and tumbled into the garage of 197 North Main Street has resulted in a fatality.
A male individual, rumored to be from Agawam but unconfirmed by police at this time, was driving a silver Toyota Camry at 6:45 p.m. southbound on North Main Street at a high rate of speed, according to South Hadley Police Detective Mark Dominick, when he struck a large tree located on 203 North Main Street.
The car apparently became airborne and rolled continuously until it forcefully wedged itself into the left side of the garage of 197 North Main Street, sending vehicle parts into neighboring yards.
The homeowners were about to sit down for dinner in the kitchen at the time of the crash but decided to eat in a different room that evening, they said. “We heard a loud bang,” said homeowner Mike Fern. “The whole house shook. There was a flash and a loud bang.”
Fire District No. 1 responded with fire engines No. 1 and 3 and their ambulance. Fire District No. 2 responded with their rescue truck, ambulance and fire engine. The Granby Fire Department was called as well for mutual aid.
Fire District No. 1 Chief Robert Authier said fire fighters from District No. 2 shored up one side of the garage while fire fighters from District No. 1 used the Jaws of Life to extricate the operator, who was alive at that time, from the twisted vehicle and garage. The man was stabilized and transported to Baystate Medical Center where he later succumbed to his injuries.
The force of the severe impact to the residence detached the garage from the front of the home and sent the vehicle’s battery flying into the home’s attic. The vehicle’s engine came to rest in the home’s backyard.
Neighbors on scene said the impact sounded like a thunderstorm. One woman said she could hear the incident from her Highland Avenue residence. Debris was strewn about the road and neighboring lawns for hundreds of feet.
The car is wedged deeply into the garage on top of the homeowners’ second vehicle. Interstate Towing responded to the scene to assist in extricating the Toyota from the garage. Authier said the garage roof will be cut and removed in order to wedge the car out.
The Massachusetts State Police Accident Reconstruction Team is on site reconstructing the accident.
The cause of the crash is unknown at this time.

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Police sponsor prescription drug take-back day

by Town Reminder

By Kristin Will

SOUTH HADLEY – Often times, a prescription medication bottle will sit in a medicine cabinet with just a few pills left inside it. Knowing the medication shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet and can’t be easily disposed of, residents typically let those bottles take up space in their medicine cabinets. To assist residents in safely disposing of unwanted medication, the South Hadley Police Department is sponsoring a prescription drug take-back day on April 28.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on that Saturday, residents can bring their unwanted prescription medication to the South Hadley Police Station, located at 41 Bridge Street. No questions will be asked about the medication. The intent is to rid residents of unwanted medication in a safe manner. The medicine can remain in its original container with labels. The information will be destroyed along with the container.
There are some restrictions. Items not accepted include needles, syringes, lancets, thermometers, IV bags, chemotherapy drugs or liquids of any type.
Also participating in this prescription drug take-back day is the town of Granby, which is accepting the unwanted medication at Granby High School on the same day, Belchertown on the town common, Hadley at the Hadley safety complex and Amherst at Wildwood Elementary School, as well as the remainder of Hampshire and Franklin Counties. The event is sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration, Hampshire/Franklin TRIAD, District Attorney David E. Sullivan, Hampshire County Sheriff Robert J. Garvey and Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan, among others.
However, should a South Hadley resident miss the prescription drug take-back day on April 28, all they must do is visit the police station. Fortunately, the Board of Health has partnered with the South Hadley Police Department to keep a permanent unwanted prescription drug take-back program going. Inside the main lobby of the police department is a box in which residents can drop any unwanted medication on any day. Again, no questions are asked.
Each month, two police officers will bring the collection box to a local facility where the drugs are then incinerated. The South Hadley Police Department has found this program to be quite effective.
So too are the single disposal days, such as the one hosted on April 28. They serve as a safe way to dispose of unwanted prescription medication while keeping our environment clean.

Truck rollover finds milk fortifying field

by Town Reminder

Truck rollover finds milk fortifying field
Alvord Street shut down Monday, Tuesday for cleanup

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – Although it didn’t have them crying, a tractor trailer truck which rolled over Monday morning spilling milk in the roadway left officials with quite the mess to clean.
An 18-wheel Harris Milk tractor trailer truck flipped on its side on Alvord Street just past Brunelle’s Marina before McCray’s Farm after the driver, traveling south bound, failed to negotiate the turn. The Belchertown company’s truck skidded to the side of the road at 10:56 a.m. on that rainy Monday morning. It landed on its right side, crushing a fence surrounding a field and spilling its contents.
South Hadley Police Officer Jeff Goulet, Sgt. Bob Whelihan and Detective McClair Mailhott responded to the accident. Both South Hadley fire districts 1 and 2 were on scene to assist.
Although it was not completely full of dairy, some milk did leak out of the tractor trailer truck, in addition to a large amount of engine oil, said South Hadley Police Lt. Steven Parentela. Fortunately, the fuel tanks did not rupture, which was a concern, said South Hadley Fire District 1 Chief Robert Authier.
“When we arrived, we had engine fluid leaking down toward the river, not helped by the rain,” he said.
Crews were able to contain the spilled milk and prevent it from flowing into the Connecticut River, which would have caused a problem for the marine life in the river. Unfortunately, some the same could not be said for the engine oil, especially “with the rain diluting it,” said Authier.
Emergency crews received help from Luke Brunelle, of Brunelle’s Marina, in setting up a hard buoy to protect the river water from any additional runoff.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) was called to the scene to inspect. The Massachusetts State Police Truck Team arrived on scene to investigate the accident. The South Hadley Conservation Commission was notified, as was the State Health Department, which also responded to the scene. The Granby Fire Department assisted the South Hadley departments with absorbent materials. Tools such as absorbent paper and “pigs” – absorbent devices used to contain liquid in one place – were laid down, as well as sand from the South Hadley Department of Public Works. Private companies were hired to remove and dispose of the absorbent instruments.
Alvord Street remained closed for the rest of Monday and again Tuesday while the cleanup effort continued.
The driver of the Harris Milk tractor trailer truck, a 42-year-old Belchertown man, was cited for speeding. He was transported to Holyoke Medical Center for minor, non life-threatening injuries.

Father and son rescued from river

by Town Reminder


Turley Publications Staff Photo by Kristin Will
Emergency personnel transport a father and son to safety after rescuing them from the Connecticut River during Tuesday’s storm.

Father and son rescued from CT River
Stranded on rocks during Tuesday’s storm

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – A father and son were rescued from the Connecticut River underneath the Veteran’s Bridge after being stranded on rocks during Tuesday’s tornado-like storm.
At 4:46 p.m., South Hadley Police first received a report of a capsized boat and parties in the water holding onto pylons just before the South Hadley Falls Dam. South Hadley Fire District 1 responded with assistance from South Hadley Fire District 2, the Holyoke Fire Department and representatives from the Massachusetts Sate Police Fire Marshal’s Office.
The two individuals had been fishing on the Connecticut River when they learned about the coming storm, said South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie. They were able to get themselves ashore on an island in the middle of the river as the storm hit and subsequently attempted to protect and shield themselves from the intense weather by seeking refuge under the boat. Heavy winds blew the boat off of the father and son, who were then left stranded on rocks in the river.
Rescue personnel from South Hadley Fire District 1 deployed their boat from the Chicopee Boat Ramp and were successfully able to navigate their way to the individuals. Other rescue personnel were stationed on shore underneath the bridge.
“When these winds came, they came very quickly,” said Fire District 1 Chief Robert Authier, who was on scene.
The two individuals were transported to safety where they were evaluated.

24/7 unwanted medication, sharps collection programs available to residents

by Town Reminder

Unwanted medication, sharps collection program a success
Dually protecting environment, young children

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – A program that, in many local towns, is only offered once or twice a year is available for South Hadley residents 24/7. The Residential Unwanted Medications Collection Program allows residents to safely rid themselves of old, unwanted medication by simply bringing them to the South Hadley Police Station.
Fairly new to the community, the program, implemented by the Board of Health, not only helps residents but the environment as well. In the past, unwanted medications were tossed in the trash, left in landfills and flushed down toilets. This caused those medications to leach into the environment, eventually finding their way back into the food supply. “Studies have proven that it is affecting our waterways and our wildlife and even our children,” said Board of Health Director Sharon Hart. “ It’s showing up as an estrogen mimic.” Additionally, simply keeping the unwanted medications in a family cabinet posed a potential threat of accidental or intention ingestion by those who should not be taking them.
Sanitation workers, janitors and housekeepers were also put at risk to the transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis C through medical sharps, such as needles, lancets and syringes that were tossed in the trash or otherwise improperly discarded.
The Unwanted Medications Collection Program, as well as The Unwanted Sharps Collection Program, are both free. The Unwanted Medications Program is available 24/7 to residents, while the Unwanted Sharps Program has select hours during which residents can drop off their sharps.
Participation is simple. Residents should black out or remove any personal information on their medication container. However, they are asked to leave information about the medication they are discarding intact on the bottle. Next, residents should bring the unwanted medications to the South Hadley Police Station, located at 41 Bridge Street in South Hadley Falls. Inside the station to the right of the information desk is an area designated for the collection of the unwanted medication. All that residents need to do is simply drop the medications into the allotted slot.
Sharps are not collected in this way. To dispose of needles, lancets and syringes, residents are asked to visit either the Department of Public Works [DPW] Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Recycling Center on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or the Council on Aging on Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. At these locations, residents can obtain sharps containers in quart and gallon sizes free of charge. Once their sharps container is full, residents may drop it off at those same locations.
The unwanted medication bin at the police station is monitored weekly by a Board of Health official. Once enough medication is collected, it is taken to a location in Springfield where it is burned by a company called Covanta, which provides this service free to South Hadley. The collected medication transport and burn is required to be supervised by a police officer. The last drop-off of unwanted medication collected over a two-month period weighed approximately 250 pounds.
“I think it’s a great thing,” said Hart of the program. “We’ve had great, great success.”
South Hadley Police Chief David LaBrie agreed, calling the program’s goals “two-fold,” with it benefiting the environment and protecting children.
Inspired by South Hadley’s initiative for unwanted medication and sharp programs, towns and cities such as Greenfield and Chicopee are looking to begin similar programs.
The Unwanted Medication Collection Program is happening year-round, 24/7. The South Hadley Police station can be contacted by calling (413) 538-8231. The Unwanted Sharps program is also year-round, with set hours for drop off at the DPW Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Recycling Center on Satruday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. or the Council on Aging on Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. The Board of Health can be reached at (413) 538-5017 ext. 204
There are restrictions as to what can be collected, such as chemotherapy agents and IV bags, which are not allowed. For a full list, contact the Board of Health or pick up a pamphlet at the police station.

Selectboard approves FY12 budget, use of tasers

by Town Reminder

Selectboard approves FY12 budget, use of tasers

By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY -Last Thursday’s Selectboard meeting saw the approval of two major items which previously drew much debate.
A Fiscal Year 2012 operating budget of $39,413,134 for the town was approved, which was $306,905 less than last year’s operating budget. Town Administrator Paul Beecher asked department heads to level fund their budgets for FY12, which essentially required them to mimic the previous year’s budgets. Those who could were asked to provide budgets with a five percent reduction. Because many departments are so small, just the police department and the Department of Public Works [DPW] were able provide such a reduction in their budgets. South Hadley officials are still waiting to receive final numbers from the state of Massachusetts to completely finalize their budget.
As of April 7, the school department will receive the largest budget, totaling $19, 252, 563. The public safety budget consists of $2,482,700, the general government budget is $1, 617,090 and the DPW budget is 3,292,940. The Council on Aging will receive $316,518 and $215, 300 will be appropriated for veterans benefits. One thousand dollars will be put toward Canal Park, $5,000 for the Conservation Land Fund and the snow and ice budget will receive $100, 005. The Ledges Golf Course Enterprise Fund will receive $891, 053. With various cherry sheet offsets and charges and school choice tuition, the total FY12 budget will be $41, 953, 267.
During the meeting, the Selectboard took action regarding the long-term discussion of the use of tasers. Last year, the South Hadley Police Department was gifted funds by officials from The Village Commons to purchase four tasers. A forum was held for residents to voice their concerns or support of the use of tasers by police in town. Unanimously, the Selectboard approved the implementation of tasers at the police department.
The Selectboard also approved all items on a report presented by the Capital Panning Committee. In the report are requests from various departments for capital funding for projects to be completed in FY12. They were ranked by four categories: strongly recommend, recommend, appropriate to fund if money is available and finally, defer project for this year. Ranked and approved were 10 projects. They are a purchase of two new patrol cruisers, costing $56,000, for the police department, a $150,000 reparation of a concrete aerator tank for the DPW, funds totaling $50,000 to “repair and reconfigure” underground piping to begin the process of abandoning the Old Sycamore Knolls Pump Station, the $20,000 replacement of a roller/compactor for the DPW, the replacement of floor tiles containing asbestos at the Mosier School, costing $120,000, as well as replacement of tiles at the high school, which would cost $25,000, the $40,000 replacement of a freezer/cooler at Mosier School, the purchase of a computerized point of sale system to be used for meal programs at all four schools costing $25,000, the replacement of toilet partitions at both the Mosier and Michael E. Smith Middle School, costing $23,000 and finally the purchase of shelving and storage components for the Town Clerk/Treasurer’s office.
Additionally, the Selectboard officially reconfigured itself following the town election. Robert Judge was named Selectboard Chair, Frank DeToma was named Vice Chair, Bruce MacCullagh was named Clerk and John Hine and Marilyn Ishler were named members.

Citizen tip leads authorities to missing teen

by Town Reminder

Citizen tip leads authorities to missing teen
By Kristin Will
Staff Writer, kwill@turley.com

SOUTH HADLEY – Chicopee Police tracked down missing South Hadley teen Kaitlyn Maslanka Tuesday evening after receiving a phone tip alerting police of her location.
The 16-year-old girl was spotted at the CVS Pharmacy located on Exchange Street in Chicopee, near Elms College.
The City’s police department located Maslanka at 6:20 p.m. and notified the South Hadley Police Department of her whereabouts. Upon their arrival, South Hadley police took Maslanka, unharmed, into custody. She was eventually reunited with her parents. Foul play is not suspected in her disappearance.
Maslanka was reported missing Monday evening after she failed to reach a destination to which she was headed in the Willimansett section of Chicopee. Maslanka apparently left her South Hadley residence on foot at approximately 4:30 p.m. that day. She had not been heard from since that time. Maslanka was last seen getting into the passenger side of a vehicle operated by a female at the Cumberland Farms located on Newton Street in South Hadley at 2 p.m.
Throughout the day on Tuesday, due to the widespread media attention, police had received numerous phone calls regarding the young girl and her potential whereabouts. “We were able to garner some information which led us in certain directions,” said South Hadley Police Lt. William Sowa. “Eventually it was a phone tip that brought us to her location.”