2008 Meltdown Updates
Thursday, April 17th, 2008 - the Meltdown is over!
Tuesday night after driving home from class, I stopped at the dam to check the status of the block. The moon wasn't out yet so I needed my flashlight to see in the dark. It was around 10PM. The block was still out on the ice standing tall but the lean that had developed last week was getting more pronounced.
After checking the clock in the gatehouse to make sure everything was in order I got back into my car and headed up the hill to my house. For those of you familiar with the area, I was forced to come to a stop right past Georgia's driveway to let the black bear that had come out of the hemlock grove get across the dirt road. I watched it as it made it's way up the stone stairs near the leaning apple tree by Jane and Siegfried's house. I'm guessing that it didn't like the noise I made when opening and closing the doors to my car and decided to move to higher and more peaceful surroundings.
Wednesday morning on my way to work, I again had to stop on South Chesterfield Road but this time it was to let a flock of turkeys cross the road. I noticed that street sweepers in Northampton had already cleared the roads of winter sand and that the flooding at the Oxbow was starting to subside. This, in spite of frost heaves that are still in the ground and overnight temperatures that continue to dip below freezing in Goshen.
I received a call at work from my wife Sue Wednesday afternoon. The message she left me posed the following question "If a concrete block sitting on a frozen pond falls through the ice and no one sees it, does it make a sound?" Her answer was no, it doesn't.
Apparently, she and my 13 year old daughter Alyssa decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and went for a walk. I had left Sue with the key to the gatehouse because we knew it was only a matter of time before the strong sun and mild temperatures combined to turn the ice into slush. They ended up down at the lake where Sue checked the rope and clock to verify that everything was in place. As she and Alyssa made their way across the dam and up the hill, Sue noticed something unusual out of the corner of her eye. The line had become taught. When she turned to look at the block, it had disappeared. The only thing left was the red flag that hadn't gone under water just yet. She and Alyssa were standing there when the block slipped through the ice without a sound.
The clock officially stopped at 3:04PM. Now for the fun part - who won?
There were 44 picks for 4/16. Six of those picks were for morning times leaving thirty-eight picks from 1:00PM to 8:30PM. The closest pick was from Barb Galm with a time of 3:16PM followed closely by Armand Wray with a pick of 3:17PM. Herb Behrens, Leo Leclerc and the Potter's had all picked 3:30PM. However, as we all know, it's the closest to the actual time without going over. When I checked my spreadsheet, I discovered that the winner had purchased 10 tickets and spread her picks out between 4/13 and 4/18. Six of her picks were for 5:01PM. Three of her picks were for 6:01PM. The last of the 10 tickets had a time of 2:31PM. The winner of the 2008 Meltdown is Lorraine Brisson of Goshen. I haven't calculated her exact prize but it will be very close to $500.
When I reached Lorraine last night to tell her the good news, she was obviously thrilled. I didn't recognize her name so I asked her if she was on my distribution list and she said no. When I asked how she found out about the Meltdown she said that she had read the story that had run in the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Lorraine thought it was for a good cause and decided to make a donation. I then asked her what she was going to do with the money. She said she was thinking of buying a hammock for the back yard so she could watch her neighbors 10 horses prance around in their field then put the rest of the money away for a trip to Alaska.
Freezing temperatures Wednesday night turned the water in the hole where the block fell through into ice. Seems like Mother Nature is having trouble releasing it's wintry grip on Goshen. I'm still hoping I'll be able to go kayaking this weekend.
Now that the 2008 Meltdown is over the next task at hand is to put the proceeds to good use. Do any of you have connections with flag pole or solar panel manufacturers that can offer their advice, counseling or discounts on equipment for a small town Veteran's park? If you do, please let me know so I can follow up with them. My initial plan is to purchase the necessary equipment to light the flag. If there are funds left over, I will put it towards the purchase of an aluminum flag pole to replace the current pole that's made from iron pipe.
Once again, my thanks go out to all the Meltdown supporters from around the world. A special thanks to my friends for putting up with all my talk about that 69 pound block of concrete over the winter. Lastly, I want to express my gratitude to my wife Sue and 'my boys' (Sarah, Alyssa and Hannah) for their help folding, stapling, cutting, stuffing, selling and just being there when I needed them. You continue to be the best.
Until next time, THINK SUMMER!
Saturday, April 12th, 2008
Heavy rain and thunderstorms early this morning quickly gave way to sunshine and relatively mild temperatures in the mid-60’s. By the end of today, 40% of the 1,099 picks will have gone by. The ice is beginning to melt away as you can see from the pictures with approximately one third of the lake now open water. However, the ice that remains is still fairly thick.
Last week when my wife Sue went to pick up the fire department mail, Goshen’s Postmaster (Rick) handed her a letter that was addressed as follows:
Our post office box is in Williamsburg because it’s on my way home from work. Only in Goshen, does a letter from Florida addressed like that make it to its final destination. That letter marked the last set of entries to make it into this years Meltdown. Donations are still coming in so I won’t have a final dollar amount until the end of the month but it will be in the hundreds of dollars.
The 10-day forecast is predicting lots of sunshine and daytime temperatures climbing into the low-60’s but that’s only after a few days of clouds and much cooler temperatures. If I were a betting man (and I’m not) I’d be looking at launching my kayak by next weekend. There are 379 picks representing 35% of the total over the next 7 days.
The mean date and time of 1,099 picks is 4/15 at 2:01PM. Two people have 4/15 at 2PM. If they win, they’ll be sharing the proceeds.
I’ll be sending out an update mid-week just because I think we’re that close.
Until then, THINK SPRING!
Sunday, April 6th, 2008
A flock of geese with their landing gear down woke me up this morning as they flew over the house. If that’s not a sure sign of spring then I don’t know what is. Another item that’s gotten my attention in a good sort of way is the number of tickets that were sold this year. The final tally is 1,079 or 117 more than last year. In addition, donations that were made directly to the cause of lighting the flag have amounted to $200 so far. I say ‘so far’ because I’ll still accept donations until the block goes down.
2008 Meltdown as of 04/06/2008
Obviously, many of you waited until the last minute to get me your tickets. I had people waiting in my driveway when I got home Tuesday night just to get them to me before the deadline. The Goshen postmaster handed Sue an envelope for me yesterday that was sent to the wrong address but had my name on it. Still others sent their tickets into our association Treasurer instead. John assured me that the envelope containing the tickets and money he forwarded me was postmarked April 1st.
2008 Meltdown as of 04/06/2008
Here are a few statistics to throw out at you. Of the 1,079 tickets sold, the earliest date chosen was February 28th. The latest date was May 26th. Just to clarify, the 5/26 data was one I chose when I was asked to fill in the date when the flag will first be lit. My goal is to have the project completed by Memorial Day in time for our town’s annual parade.
The most popular date ended up being April 15th with 55 picks. The most popular time was 3:30 with 51 picks. Now we’ll just have to wait and see how good that date and time is.
The April fool’s update once again intentionally misled (which is why I do it). One participant e-mailed me from Florida asking if he had missed the snow storm. Another didn’t catch on until later in the day. Most of you either knew or expected it and were hopefully amused. We actually did have a few inches of snow on 4/1 so I was only stretching the truth by about 16 inches or so.
I meant to tell you that we made the paper a few weeks ago. Click here for a link to the article. The publicity netted me two tickets to Interskate 91 – our relatively local roller skating rink. My kids can’t wait to get me out there.
I’ve attached a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. The one were I’m holding the flag in the palm of my hand was taken by my daughter Alyssa (who just happened to turn 13 yesterday). I thought it was cute. The others show that while the ice is still thick under the block, it has obviously started to melt. The flag was blown off the pole earlier this week and I was somewhat reluctant to go out there today to re-attach it when I saw water on the shoreline. Nevertheless, I was able to fix it temporarily and make it back to land unscathed and dry. The clock is now plugged in and connected to the rope that’s tied to the block. As they say, it’s only a matter of time.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
2008 Meltdown as of 04/04/2008
Tuesday, April 1st, 2008
It's a good thing the snow shovels weren't put away yet.
I noticed a change in temperature just as I rounded the corner by the Brew Masters tavern on my way home last night. It had been raining since I left work but as I headed up the hill on Route 9, I noticed the rain had turned to sleet. When I got up to Lashaway’s curve the snow was really starting to pile up on the roadway. A short distance up the road, the wind was blowing the snow so hard that even the state plows were having trouble staying between the marked lanes.
I barely made it home when I was notified that Goshen had activated their on street parking ban. Blowing and drifting snow had made travel nearly impossible. Selectmen went so far as to cancel last night’s weekly meeting and declared a state of emergency. 22News Storm Team Meteorologist Rick Sluben mentioned that the snow would be heaviest where most people don’t live. He singled out Goshen as being hardest hit by this early spring storm. As of this morning, 18 inches of snow had already fallen and more was on the way. The National Weather Service has posted a High Wind Warning for the eastern slopes of the Berkshires and advised homeowners to clear snow accumulations from rooftops. Power outages may make it difficult for emergency crews to respond so residents are urged to check up on their neighbors. To make matters worse, more snow is forecasted for Thursday into Friday. Only time will tell what impact this has to the ice shelf.
In spite of the storm, the deadline for ticket sales will not be extended. True to their pledge, the U.S. Postal Service has not cancelled deliveries so any tickets that make it in today’s mail will still be accepted if they’re received later this week.
Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to update you on the condition of the block soon. In the meantime, here’s a picture I managed to get earlier today. Notice the block is entirely covered by the white stuff. If I were in Florida thinking of coming back home to the Northeast, I’d consider postponing that decision.
Until next time, stay warm and THINK SPRING.
Sunday, March 30th, 2008
The crocuses are blooming, the robins have returned to the backyard and the smell of newly mowed lawns is starting to permeate the air – just not in Goshen.
2008 Meltdown as of 03/30/2008
Here’s how strange things have gotten around here. On Wednesday, we woke up to the sight of snow falling outside our window. In fact, 2” of snow was already on the ground and it was still coming down. I got in my car to start my daily commute to work and was able to tune into a Red Sox game at 7AM. When I finally got to work in Windsor CT, the Sox were in extra innings, the sun was shining and there was no sign of any precipitation even though Sue was shoveling the driveway at home. The Yankees have their home opener tomorrow afternoon and light rain is predicted. Do I need to remind anyone that we’re still in March? That’s just too early for baseball.
2008 Meltdown as of 03/26/2008
Today was a beautiful sunshine filled day. The Irish were blessed with a Chamber of Commerce day for the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day parade. I stopped at the Lawton Family Sugarhouse in Williamsburg this afternoon to pick up some of this years maple syrup that found its way to the French toast I made my parents for dinner. I know the weather forecasters are predicting rain for Tuesday but I haven’t put my snow shovels away just yet. We awoke to morning temperatures of 12 degrees today. However, for the first time this year the 10-day forecast is saying that the average nighttime low will be above freezing over the period.
As of today, ticket sales have topped 900 and April 13th is still the most popular day with 38 picks. Remember last week when I said I would check to see if May 15th was the latest date we've ever received? Well, I no longer have to check that date becasue someone from Goshen submitted a guess of May 17th. Upon further review, the latest date ever submitted was June 2nd in the 2006 Meltdown contest.
For those of you that are waiting until the last minute, the last minute is fast approaching. Ticket sales end on April 1st and will be accepted later this week as long as the envelope is postmarked April 1st or earlier. Donations will be gladly accepted throughout the contest.
Until then, THINK SPRING!
Monday, March 24th, 2008
Blame it on the full moon or the first day of Spring - last week brought about all sorts of strange happenings.
Over the course of the entire contest, I typically get a small number of ticket submissions that are outside the norm - the norm being people buying tickets for themselves. This past week however, they all came at once. There were tickets that were purchased on behalf of our local ambulance service (Highland Ambulance) and local 4-H camp (Camp Howe). There were people from Michigan who purchased tickets and put the names of some friends that are members of the association on them. Someone new to the game submitted 5 tickets with the same date and time on all the tickets. Still others picked days and times but didn’t indicate AM or PM. We now have someone that doesn’t expect the ice to melt until May 15th. I’ll have to check but that may be a new record for our contest. Whatever happened to the thought of global warming?
After the recent update, I heard back from friends who were on a cruise off the coast of Honduras and still others that were on Spring Break in Mexico. Both mentioned that the only ice they expected to see was going to be floating in their drinks. Nice.
Just to show you how strange things are around here, we had family up to celebrate the Easter Holiday yesterday. My niece, who lives with her husband Pete in Lowell MA, showed up in flip-flops. My brother, in an effort to lend a helping hand, shows up with a thatch rake. He thought he’d be able to de-thatch my lawn seeing that he had just finished de-thatching the lawn at my parent’s house in Chicopee. We still have snow on the roof and several feet of snow on my deck and in the back yard. Did I mention that some of our snow banks are still over 5 feet tall? At least we both found humor in his deed.
This week, tickets were received from people that live in New York, NY, Miami FL, Seattle WA, Meriden CT, Housatonic MA, Goshen MA, Rochester NY, Westfield MA plus five different towns in Australia - and that’s just from one family! We also had picks from people who live in Amherst, Chesterfield, Chicopee, Hadley, South Hadley, Springfield, Sunderland and Williamsburg as well as from several co-workers of mine in Wellesley MA.
To date, 530 tickets have been sold and 4/13 is still the most popular date followed very closely by 4/8 and 4/17.
A reporter and photographer from the Daily Hampshire Gazette showed up on Friday to do a story on the Meltdown. I obliged them by taking out the fire departments new ice water rescue boat and slipping on the survival suit. To me, there are several positives to be had here - the GFD gets to promote some recently acquired equipment that was received through a donation; the Gazette gets a colorful picture for their paper; I get to practice inflating the rescue boat then deflating it and fitting it back into it’s small container, and the survival suit gets tested to make sure it doesn’t leak. While I was soaking up the sun in the 22-degree temps and wind gusts in the 40-50 MPH range, I was able to check out the ice shelf near the spillway of our pond. Within an arms length of the edge of the ice floe, the ice was only a few inches thick. Reaching in a few inches farther I hit the real ice that can still be measured in feet rather than in inches. I remained toasty warm in my suit both in and out of the water while the photographer began turning as blue as the ice that’s still clinging to the shoreline.
The 10-day forecast is still predicting daytime temperatures in the low 40’s with nighttime temperatures in the upper 20’s. The only indication that spring is around the corner is the sign we saw in front of the Village Green in Williamsburg today. It read “Ice Cream – Opening on Thursday”. When you looked real close, however, there was a little note in parenthesis that read “weather permitting”.
We’re on the final stretch for ticket sales. For those of you still interested in buying tickets, remember that Tuesday, April 1st is the deadline to get them submitted. Tickets can be downloaded by going to the GFD website (www.goshenmafire.com) and clicking on 2008 Meltdown.
Until next time, THING SPRING!
Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Does anyone else out there feel the way I do? For some reason, I was thinking that the weather would start feeling more like spring once we changed over to Daylight Savings Time. Instead, the temperatures still make it feel like its winter and waking up to several inches of snow on Saturday confirms that.
The sugar houses are boiling, the ice on my driveway is finally starting to melt, the crocus are fighting their way out of the ground, Smith College had their flower show but there’s still ice on the Oxbow in Northampton. If there’s still ice down in the valley, you can bet there’s still ice in the hills.
The chart showing all the picks made to date is starting to resemble a bell with April 10th and April 13th still being the most popular picks. The most popular time right now is 3:30PM, which is consistent with the late afternoon picks of years past. With two weeks left to go for ticket sales, the ice is still securely stuck to the shoreline. The 10-day forecast calls for daytime temperatures in the upper 30’s and nighttime temperatures around 27. Rain, freezing rain, snow showers and sun make up the continued mix of weather we’re expecting over the period.
As another sure sign of spring, Goshen held its annual Town Caucus last night. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the political life in the Hilltowns, this is the night when folks are nominated to serve on a town board. From Assessors to Library Trustees to Town Farm Supervisors and everything in between, no vacancy goes unfilled in advance of Town Elections. My ‘friends’ elected me Moderator for the evening, which allows me to practice Robert’s Rules for holding public meetings.
I heard from Jane Brown this week. Her lake association up in West Danville Vermont was the model for our Meltdown contest. They’ve printed up 12,000 tickets for their ice-out event and hope to sell every one of them. She reports that it looks more like the middle of January instead of the middle of March in northern Vermont and that the ice fishermen are still driving their vehicles on the ice. Now that’s thick ice!
So far, I’ve received 370 tickets returns and a surprising number of direct donations. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. Additional tickets can be downloaded from our website (www.goshenmafire.com) which also includes copies of past updates.
Keep in mind that tickets need to be submitted by April 1st in order to be counted.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Tuesday, March 11th, 2008
Four inches of rain, enough wind to knock out power and temperature fluctuations that teased the sap to start running - that about sums up the weeks weather around here.
While we’re still fairly early in the ticket sales department, we’ve broken the 300-ticket plateau this week. In past years, there was usually a good consensus that emerged with regards to the date. Here is a summary of the most popular days over the past 3 years:
2005 - April 15th
2006 - April 1st
2007 - April 4th
This year, the most popular date is a tie between April 10th and the 13th.
The earliest pick so far was February 28th (I think the ice was still several feet thick on that date) while the latest pick right now is May 7th from my Las Vegas connection (I expect to be swimming in the lake by then to avoid the mayflies that will be swarming around my head on that date). What seems to be different this year is that there’s a fairly even spread of dates throughout April. I year’s past, there was a definite bell curve to everyone’s picks. This year, it’s more of a plateau.
Another aspect of this year’s contest that seems to be different than the past three years is the number of you that have inquired about what happens to the block after it goes down to the bottom. I’ve been asked if I know how many blocks it will take to fill in the lake or if I have an endless supply of them. The answer to both those questions is an emphatic no. The block, flag and pallet are securely tied together with a clove hitch and safety knot I learned at the Fire Academy. The running end of the rope extends into the gatehouse on the dam where it is secured to a stick that won’t fit through the hole I slip the rope through. Once all the ice is melted away, I untie the rope from the stick then heave the mass through the mud on the bottom of the lake until it reaches the shore. Two years ago, the block sank flag first which acted as an anchor scraping the bottom while I hauled it in. Suffice it to say that the only remnant of the Meltdown is the memories I have of the frozen lake when it turns 90 degrees in the middle of summer.
I received mostly positive reactions from last week’s update. Thanks to those of you who took the time to share your thoughts with me. The free exchange of varying viewpoints is one of the many things that make this country great.
As you can see from this week’s picture, Saturday’s rain all but melted away the snowfall from the week before. Sunday’s wind almost ripped the flag from the pole and knocked down the reflector that’s holding up the rope. There’s still a thick layer of ice on the pond that is securely locked into the shoreline. Last Thursday night, I took part in a nighttime ice rescue drill down in town of Whately. Whately is just south of Deerfield – the home of Yankee Candle – and is several hundred feet closer to sea level than Goshen is. The ice on that lake down in the valley was still 18 inches thick so we’ve got a ways to before we’ll be pulling out the kayaks
The 10-day forecast calls for daytime temperatures in the low 40’s and nighttime temperatures in the upper 20’s with no significant snowstorms in sight. With the sun rising higher and higher in the sky, it won’t be long before the shoreline releases its grip on the ice.
Thanks to those of you that have submitted tickets already. Feel free to visit the fire department website (www.goshenmafire.com) for past updates or to print up more tickets in the event you need more. Keep in mind that ticket sales end on April 1st.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Monday, March 3rd, 2008
Eleven below and seven inches of snow, that’s what has happened since the last time we chatted.
I was born in 1960 and grew up remembering nights in front of our Zenith black and white television set. You remember - the one that had UHF and VHF frequencies? The one where one dial had channels 2 to 13 and you had to turn it by hand to get to either Channel 3 out of Hartford, Channel 4 or 5 out of Boston and on a good day Channel 8 out of New Haven. The other dial you could spin to get to Channel 18, 19, 22, 24, 30, 40 and 57 and that was it. The ‘remote control’ was whoever was sitting on the floor between the TV and my Dad.
I bring that up because I was trying to think of what I would write this week and wanted to relate it to why this year’s Meltdown benefit is to help light the flag in our Veteran’s park.
I have memories of sitting in front of that TV in the mid to late 1960’s watching Walter Cronkite broadcast the daily count of casualties from the Vietnam War. Much like today, I found it odd that the names of the soldiers that had died were never spoken. The number of soldiers killed or wounded was displayed like the score of a sports game. Fast-forward to today and not much has changed. Evening broadcasts still include those same counts except this time it’s for a different war.
My older brother Gerry was joined the Army on January 21, 1971. Funny how I can still remember how sad that day was in our household. My brother-in-law served in Vietnam as a Marine. My Dad was 18 in 1943 when he joined the Navy and served as a First Class Radioman on the LSM 129 in the Philippines. My father-in-law retired as a 2-star general in the Army National Guard.
Sue and I joined the Goshen Fire Department back in 1989. One of the realities we soon became aware of was the amount of time and effort a small volunteer department spent doing fundraising. Anyone remember the "PIGnic" which was our early attempt at an annual pig-roast? How about the fundraiser we did offering house numbers to town residents after each dwelling in town was assigned one as part of the 911 system? The annual Fall Ball at the Whale Inn to benefit our ambulance was always a sell out. What would a fire department be without a boot drive? Ours entails standing in the middle of Route 9 on Columbus Day weekend taking donations from leaf peepers.
It was during this flurry of fundraising activity in the early 1990’s that the idea of giving something back to our community came to being. Members of the Goshen Firefighters Association voted to purchase a number of flags to install and fly on telephone poles in the center of town. A discussion ensued at the annual town meeting that year. Our goal of putting flags up from the Whale Inn to Dresser’s garage, once we had the funds to do so, was shared with those who had assembled. The funds came in the form of a donation before we left the town hall that night from someone who wanted to support what we were doing. To this day, the fire department puts up flags on all the major holidays between Memorial Day in May and Veterans Day in November. Frequently, we feel the continued support we get from passers by when they toot their horns or offer an approving nod or thumbs up.
Like many Americans, our flag carries a special meaning for me. It is my opinion that those of us who have never served have a duty to respect the sacrifices made by so many others that have. Helping us light the Veteran’s flag in the center of our town is one way for us to do that. If you agree, please show your support by purchasing a Meltdown ticket or two and pass the word.
Remember that ticket sales end on Tuesday, April 1st.
Until next time, THINK SPRING!
Sunday, February 20th, 2008
Since the last update, temperatures have ranged from below zero to the mid-50’s. We've had several rainstorms (one even drenched us with 4 inches of liquid snow), storms with sleet and freezing rain and even a few of the good old fashioned kind. You remember - the ones that just have snow? Friday's event produced 8 inches of the fluffy white stuff. We even threw in a total lunar eclipse on the 20th just to shake things up a bit.
What impact has it had on the block? Well, last weekend I had to go out on the ice with my ice chopper to free up the line that connects to the block to the clock. The wind that accompanied the big rainstorm blew over the reflectors I have holding up the rope. That night, temperatures dropped into the teens causing the line to freeze solidly into the ice. The pallet that the block sits on had become one with the ice blanket that covers the lake thanks to a heavy sleet storm and subsequent snow. I wasn't worried about chopping through the ice however because of the ice rescue drill we went through the day before in Ashfield. Ashfield is the town just to the north of Goshen. Ashfield Lake was the scene of the training exercise where 40 local firefighters spent the day tying knots, donning rescue suits and taking turns pulling each other out of the hole that was cut into the lake. The ice was 28” to 30” thick. Check out the pictures I have on the GFD website as see for yourself.
The outside temperature right now is 16 degrees Fahrenheit. The average daytime temperature over the next 10 days is forecasted to be 30 degrees Fahrenheit while the forecasted average low over the same period is 20 degrees Fahrenheit. There's a storm coming in on Tuesday that looks to start out as snow then change over to a wintry mix. Bottom line, I don't think there'll be too much melting going on around here.
Ticket sales have started to come in with 165 received to date. I've also received direct donations from people who just like to idea of lighting the veteran’s flag along with notes from several of you expressing your support. That means a lot to me.
The attached picture was taken last Monday (President’s Day). As you can see, even with a significant rain event, there was still snow surrounding the base of the block. The water providing the reflection froze solid several hours after this picture was taken and has since been covered by almost a foot of sleet and snow.
Thanks to all of you that have submitted your tickets so far. For the rest of you, please keep in mind that tickets sales end on Tuesday, April 1st.
Until then, THINK SPRING!
Click on the link below for local newspaper coverage of the 2008 Meltdown:
Gamblers can still get in on Goshen ice-out
Around Goshen: Clock ticking on annual meltdown at Hammond Pond (01/31/2008)