• Local
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • more weather >

Close enounters in Sheffield – of the municipal kind  

More Info
By Wednesday, Apr 25, 2018 Viewpoints 9

Sheffield —“Shocking” — as in “shockingly ugly” — is a word some Sheffielders used to describe a makeshift monument to an off-world incident sited near the historic covered bridge off Route 7.

Indeed, the ungainly 5,000-pound concrete slab with a thin composite plaque raised a lot of eyebrows when it was first installed during an Aug. 26, 2015, ceremony conducted by Thomas Reed, who wanted to commemorate an event that occurred Sept. 1, 1969, when Reed and others say they saw a UFO near the site. 

Reed, then only 9, said he and his family found themselves “being taken aboard a tarnished circular looking vessel where an image of a willow tree was displayed,” according to Reed’s website. For years, Reed had been shopping a movie deal based on the incident.

Reed’s monument defaced with grafiti in September of 2015. Photo: Heather Bellow

Meanwhile, many people in town were upset by the monument’s appearance. Dennis Sears, who sits on the town Historical Commission, told this reporter it as “the junkiest piece of crap I’ve ever seen.” Catherine Miller, who presided over the Sheffield Historical Society for several years in the 80s and 90s, described Reed’s monument as “a blight on the landscape.”

The town’s attorney later determined that the slab had been placed on town property and the order came down for it to be moved. While insisting town officials had told him the original location was fine, Reed later had the monument moved about 50 feet to the east onto the property of his friend Louis Aragi, who owns Pine Island Farm.  

The monument was subsequently vandalized by spray paint on at least two separate occasions. But recently, a town land survey reportedly found that the slab and its accoutrements are still on a town right-of-way and Reed must relocate them or the town will do it for him. 

As a capstone to this comedy of errors, this writer in his previous capacity as a reporter for another newspaper, learned an interesting fact about a citation with the signature of Gov. Charlie Baker proclaiming that the state recognizes the claim of the UFO sighting and abduction in Sheffield.

The citation from Gov. Charlie Baker’s office certifying the claim of a UFO sighting, a citation that the governor’s office now says was issued ‘in error.’

Tim Buckley, then Baker’s communications director, said in 2016 the citation was issued in error after a persistent Reed repeatedly asked the governor’s staff to put his signature on it. The text of the citation is all in capitals and is poorly written. It appears to have been notarized by a justice of the peace in Connecticut.

Only one thing could have saved the monument from the opprobrium that rained down so universally upon it: If only it had been as cute as ET.

See video below of Reed boasting about media coverage:

More by »

9 Comments   Add Comment

  1. Gary says:

    The Great Barrington Historical Society simply accepted files and papers from Thomas Reed. Nothing more. They were put in a box and filed in the archives. The Boston Globe headline is misleading — it was based on statements that were not accurate, and taken out of context.

    1. Civil Law says:

      OK, HERE IT IS: Debbie with the GBHS reached out to Reed and drove the TV shows, and mainstream News feeds to promote the GBHS decision. She went as far as to do shows without Reed, even involved. Quote, “nobody’s interested in the latest musket ball” She had first contacted Reed in early 2015 regarding her idea of holding an event around the 1969 incident, asking him for support and contacts for speakers. (THAT IS HOW THIS ALL STARTED) Debbie Smith of Litchfield CT was present in these talks, as she worked closely with her. However, the estranged Cowgill with his hateful public pen had an effect on the GBHS and others. His piece today is no different, just another cheap attempt to steer the locals away from what really took place. Also, Reed never moved the monument, ask yourself, how could he have? The monument, which was not completed at the time was moved 30 feet or so by Eddy Lord VIA the Township. Mr. Sears did have a point, the marker was still in very rough condition at the time, as it was not finished. However, it has never been on Town property, it was on a once granted right of way, an area of land OWNED by someone else. As for the Towns attorney, there are copies of the correspondence as all were copied on the decisions. (I am in receipt of said correspondence) The edge may want to verify Cowgill’s stories and personal agenda, before involving the Edge any further. The truth is out there, but not from the Cowgill columnist. Questions: Do you really think Museums and TV celebrities would monetary sponsor anything without consulting with their legal team? Do you really think this was Reed’s idea when Debbie from the GBHS was doing her own TV Shows? Do you really think some guy from over a thousand miles away walked into the Governors Office in downtown Boston and demand a signature? Come on people! Don’t be fooled by this very dishonest columnist. The area looks better than it ever has, and allows for opportunities. It simply needs some grooming.

      1. Gene says:

        Gosh. The person who wrote the above comment may be out of touch with reality. Mr. Reed approached GBHS (director Debbie) first and was RELENTLESS (as he was with the governor’s office). He promised primary source documents, but they were never delivered despite repeated requests. (Perhaps those documents were abducted, too.) GBHS never contacted any newspaper or TV station – ever. Quite the opposite — the media contacted GBHS. The publicity hound was not GBHS — it was the alleged abductee. GBHS was naive and too trusting in accepting what Mr. Reed said, but the promised primary source documents were never provided. GBHS was used and manipulated by a very “clever” man. GBHS rarely turns down donations of documents, and wanted to be kind to Mr. Reed. It is perfectly acceptable and part of the GBHS mission to collect local “folklore.” GBHS had NOTHING to do with that UFO monument. The truth is out there!

  2. Laura says:

    how many more of these sightings will be seen once Pot is manufactured in the area? LOL!!

  3. Stephen Cohen says:

    If you are dumb enough to believe in alien abductions why would anyone think you have any artistic sense or the ability to read a map to see if your monument is on municipal land or a right of way?

  4. John says:

    Earth would be far better off should aliens choose to abduct Hillary, Bernie, Elizabeth and Maxine for study. Each an alien species in their own right…

  5. Tom Warner says:

    I have to chim in on this subject since I was a primary first hand source of information on the 1969 event. There is an old New England expression, “were ya there Charlie?” and while you may have been in the area in the Berkshires on September 1, 1969 you may not have been outside at the right time. However I was and make no doubt I was close enough to see this UFO up close. Making fun of me now as an adult at 59 really doesn’t bother me. I know what I saw and had witnesses watch as this UFO was right over my head. I was ridiculed to no end as a ten year old, that pain cut like a knife. That is called bulling today. Even my own priest belittled me. I came forward after talking to Mr. Reed in hope that others would as well. This may sound like folk lore to some but to us who had close contact it was a life time of nightmares. Yes there are others who had close contact that night from Sheffield to great Barrington Massachusetts and to the Great Adirondack’s . Here is a link for you all, it will make you think or make you laugh depending on your beliefs if life can exist out side of earth. Once upon a time they believed the earth was flat, and to this day some believe that! I call them Flat Earthers and in time science will prove life beyond this planet. I stand by my story because it is the truth. Sincerely. Tom Warner. Great Barrington, MA.

  6. Jodi Rothe says:

    I walk my dog near the UFO monument daily – and I enjoy the fact that it’s there. I live in Sheffield and have seen some very interesting, inexplicable phenomena in the night sky – and honestly, I felt awe, not fear. Why can’t we be open to possibilities beyond our limited “nose to the ground” usual vision? I could discuss what I saw, which was two years ago, but won’t go into it here – however, it changed my mind about the monument in question and this special area in which we live.

  7. Beth says:

    There is something going on in Sheffield, there is activity. What’s really disgraceful to us, are the years of hate reporting on the subject by this Terry Cowgill. His columns disrespect us, disrespects our past, and really makes us look like a bunch of unaware hillbillies.

What's your opinion?

We welcome your comments and appreciate your respect for others. We kindly ask you to keep your comments as civil and focused as possible. If this is your first time leaving a comment on our website we will send you an email confirmation to validate your identity.