• Local
  • Pittsfield, MA
  • more weather >
Heather Bellow
The monument to the purported sighting of of UFOs in Sheffield in 1969 that was defaced last week with paint.

Sheffield UFO monument defaced, to be relocated

More Info
By Thursday, Sep 17, 2015 News 12

Sheffield — First a toy space creature appears. Harmless enough. But since then, human interactions with a Sheffield monument commemorating a 1969 UFO sighting have turned nasty.

Symbols and messages were spray painted on the side of the monument. Photo: Thomas Reed

Symbols and messages were spray painted on the side of the monument.

The monument was defaced sometime last week — sanded and grafittied with what appear to be Satanic symbols — just as the Town decided to remove the monument this Friday (September 18). The town says the monument was placed on town property without its permission, in its right of way on the Old Covered Bridge green.

Sheffield Police were informed of the vandalism, and since the monument was erected, the town has painted over other graffiti — some of it vulgar — on the inside of the bridge.

Thomas Reed, spokesman for those who paid for and placed the monument, said one of the town’s assessors, Tammy Blackwell, and another town employee whose name he did not know, gave the group permission, saying that while the town had the right of way, it was on private property. The town, Reed says, denies that permission was given, or that town employees would have had authority to do so in the first place.

Now lawyers are involved.

Early this month town attorney Mark Reich from Kopelman & Paige gave Reed, one of 40 “witnesses” who say they saw the UFO that night, 10 days to move the 5,000 pound concrete monument before the town takes it to the highway garage, from where it will have to be collected in 30 days or destroyed. Since then, Reed said that he and Town Administrator Rhonda Labombard were trying to find a reasonable compromise for moving the monument from its prominent location on the green at the bridge to another location near it.

Thomas Reed.

Thomas Reed.

Reed says that if he or the landowner had been told “beforehand” that the spot was off limits, the monument wouldn’t have been placed there. He said Labombard later told him that the monument interferes with the picturesque setting of the historic bridge, its nearby walking trails and a Housatonic River boat launch.

A second notice from Reich this week told Reed it doesn’t matter who said what at Town Hall; it is the Selectboard that makes the decisions.

Reed, 55, grew up on Boardman Street and, along with his brother, had several UFO encounters, he says. The one near the Old Covered Bridge was the most spectacular, with a 9-year-old Reed coming into contact with extraterrestrials after his family drove over the bridge into an area that is mostly cornfields. It was on that that night that say they also saw the UFO.

The monument was paid for and organized by an unnamed group of “witnesses” who declined to comment for this story. Acting on their behalf, however, is Reed, who was accompanied to Town Hall that day by Nick Dayal, a reporter for another newspaper who was doing a story about Reed. Reed says that town assessor Tammy Blackwell, along with another employee, got out maps and told Reed that as long as the landowner didn’t mind, it was fine with the town to place the monument on his property, even with the town’s right of way.

The UFO monument when it was put in place earlier this month.

The UFO monument when it was put in place earlier this month.

Dayal said that Reed called up landowner Louis Aragi on the spot to confirm that he gave his blessing, which he apparently did. Dayal told The Edge that Aragi said he would not allow the monument on that area near his property unless he had a verbal “100 percent confirmation from the town.”

Aragi declined to comment. Blackwell says she was “instructed not to comment,” and said “she has nothing to do with this.”

The monument came to Sheffield after the Great Barrington Historical Society declared the UFO sighting “historically significant and true,” according to a February statement issued by Executive Director Debbie Opperman.

It is, Opperman wrote, “the first off-world/UFO case in U.S. history.” The Society admitted materials related to the event after supporting documentation from the WSBS radio station, which took calls from witnesses the night of the event, and testimony of some to the U.S. Air Force. Reed also had a 99.1 percent truth rating when polygraph tested about his experience.

Reed, left, and his brother Timothy in 1969.

Reed, left, and his brother Timothy in 1969.

Opperman says she is waiting for more materials from Reed, which Reed says will be ready in about a month. “I would love to give him more support,” Opperman told The Edge. “We can support him more when he gives us more documentation.”

Reed says he was discussing the placement of the monument with the town for weeks before that conversation with Blackwell. “Did she overspeak?” he wondered. “Or did she get permission to speak and backpedal? Why would she give us permission?”

In Reed’s most recent letter to the town, he says he understands that the monument may too close to the bridge and asks, “can we please work this out?” He suggested the right side of the parking area, “which resonates as well as it addresses all concerns.” He said that in a conversation with Reich, he said would maintain the area around it, and paint the monument black to deter graffiti.

But the town apparently doesn’t want the monument to go anywhere but into the “wilderness,” as Reed put it, way beyond the public area of the bridge. On Thursday evening, however, Reed told The Edge he had a conversation with Reich, in which Reich offered to move the monument down the road and into the woods rather than storing it in the highway garage. The conversation is ongoing, so it is still unclear what will happen on Friday.

Reed said the monument’s creators envisioned it not only to give acknowledgement to those who saw the UFO that night, but also as a tourism draw for Sheffield, “a town whose residents I have tremendous respect for.”

Reed is a former fashion photographer who owned a Miami modeling agency, and his story is now getting attention. Reed says he probably won’t fight Sheffield’s decision in court. But he thinks the town would benefit from the attention generated by the monument. He’s working with a Hollywood film director, and a publisher is ready to see a manuscript. A TV show attended the unveiling of the monument, and even followed Reed into Town Hall the day he says he got permission.

The monument as seen from the Old Covered Bridge. Photo: Heather Bellow

The monument as seen from the Old Covered Bridge. Photo: Heather Bellow

Reed noted, for instance, that the Roswell, New Mexico UFO Festival rakes in $1.25 million for the city every year. It just so happens that drawings of UFOs made by Sheffield school children in the 1960s reside in the Roswell UFO Museum.

Reed also pointed out that the Phoenix (Arizona) Historical Society this month admitted materials from the Phoenix Lights event, a 1997 mass UFO sighting. Former Arizona governor Fyfe Symington III said in 2007 that he saw a UFO during that event, but did not admit to it at the time.

Reed suggested that since Sheffield is so inhospitable to the monument, perhaps the Great Barrington Historical Society would consider keeping in on their grounds.

Opperman said the board of directors would have to decide. “We’d have to think carefully,” she said. “Those types of ideas that haven’t been tried yet — even in categories other than UFOs — are tough for historical societies and for people to get their heads around.” She said the trouble in Sheffield was “unfortunate.”

“People [in Sheffield] are upset because it was a UFO sighting,” she added. “If it had been a monument commemorating many, many other things, I don’t think there would be this much uproar.”

“I agree that it was disturbing that the monument has been vandalized,” Town Administrator Labombard wrote Reed in an email. “This type of act is a sad reflection on Sheffield.”

More by »

12 Comments   Add Comment

  1. john k lawson says:

    As more and more local people start talking about their alien experiences, tonight a small group gathered at the above mentioned spaceship monument discussing the first annual Sheffield Space Ship Festival with local breweries brewing special space ship beer and the country store making spaceship sandwiches. My mate Thomas thinks he can get his chickens to lay special spaceship eggs. The question of where to park the thousands of spaceship fans who would attend did arise but we think Sebastian’s across the street has the answers. Bids are going out for t-shirt and poster designs shortly.

  2. Angela Kraemer says:

    This issue is important for the sake if what it presents to ALL experiencers folks! The monument was allowed there by the town itself, so tough if they change their mind, it belongs there. Thom shows a lot of character striving to work with the town to have it moved to a mutually beneficial place, so I hope that the town will be reasonable after all. Thanks for printing this story and supporting Thom, his family and all the people who where witness to this event!

  3. Ed Baker says:

    It’s a shame that some of our people have such a difficult time accepting the truth when it’s put in front of their faces.
    I am a candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election and if I am elected I will do everything I can to have less secrecy from our Government to the people of America. That includes Full Disclosure of anything that would otherwise be classified so long as it doesn’t put our National Defense or Military in Direct Danger by doing so. This includes anything related to UFO’s that is classified. I wish Thom Reed and the others involved in this important effort the very best. – Ed Baker

    1. Patrick Fennell says:

      Maybe angry aliens did it.

    2. Catherine says:

      There is not enough time (or people power/ protection) to think over all of these important ideas in public so thanks for this forum..’may the good forces be with you” as Luke Skywalker or our more local Thom Reed would say for the United States of a Miracle.

      The time for questions has come though and it’s not easy to brave even Asking the big one, “What IF there are UFOs and more than we can know or learned in high school or from today’s corporate-owned media?” The word L-IF-E may contain a clue or a path to Begin Thinking Outside of the Norm. By the way, I was honored to be in the first class of sixth graders the late Howard Reed taught at Kellogg School. He was a nice, competent fellow and along with other great teachers (in 7th and 8th grade), gym, music and art who we all had for middle school and those who we had from kindergarten.

      With about 170 in our school at that time in the 1970s (K-Gr 8) we did great things. Now that school is struggling to stay open with close to 80 students. Other small schools in the area (West Cornwall CT) are facing similar challenges. We need to think our way into continued existence, and the help could come from other neighborly folks around the state or the next state over..or maybe from on high, the divine or other helpful beings.

      I like to think the good guys are all on the same side, since clearly the less savory sorts seem ready to do anyone in. With the Pope visiting, Yom Kippur seeking for Jews and I like to think others who are open to the call to seek a day of forgiveness and atonement (not that different from the Christian view to ask forgiveness and seek healing from the Holy Spirit through Jesus, but unfortunately most realize the history of conflict in the Judeo-Christian religion prevents much collaboration and instead allows the differences to divide.)
      Now, this may seem like a huge tangent, with me going way off topic but when we are talking UFO possibilities, maybe there’s a new realm to consider the potential connections and less about what hasn’t worked or what causes conflicts.

      .let’s seek some understanding that we really may only have a few decades of life as we know it on the plan-it and share as I do on http://www.livfully.drupalgardens.com ideas to allow women to begin to weigh in on key issues along with youth, even kids and tots (and imagine what babes-to-born would ask if we would try to consider the gift of their presence.) Too few fellows figure things out and decide ‘what’s what’ then fight over it if they don’t agree completely and that leaves far too many bystanders.

      Let’s go easy as new ideas emerge from history or present day and play fair, treat others as we would want to be treated and keep an open mind and heart..especially when reflecting on whether we live only once or if we have many lifetimes (and why that might be in terms of balancing out karma, making amends and staying friends with soul groups and such along with the notions of the divine most have heard of and many have tried mostly with some value.)

      Every day is a new beginning (and maybe some of it is pre-programmed even by our own souls agreeing to live a certain length of time, with certain people or challenges and so on to learn more about humanity and our spiritual abilities..maybe worth seeing the Crystal Essence shop and site and having more casual conversations to sort some of this stuff out according to age, gender, interest, faith and so on then brave bridging our collective understandings, finding ways to prevent problems in health, social and educational , age-related stresses and settings, families, courts and drug use or stress (driving, working or solving problems in various disciplines without much cross-referencing or holistic measures). Thanks for tuning in as you can to this weird stuff, maybe there’s some wisdom mixed in.

  4. Gene says:

    I don’t think too many people object to the monument in theory. The problem is that it is so ugly…a monstrous blob of concrete with a cheap plaque.

    1. Scott Freeman says:

      As it was voiced from the start, it was not finished, the $1200 forged plaque was not mounted yet, yet all new it was coming. The monument was to be painted and in any color the Town wanted, Lawyers had been made aware. The idea of bricking it was also offered. I think running with ugly is not only unfair but insulting, it was only 50% finished.

    2. Scott Freeman says:

      As it was voiced from the start, it was not finished.The $1200 forged plaque was not mounted, a temp was. However all new it was coming. The monument was to be painted and in any color the Town wanted, all had been made aware. The idea of bricking it was also offered. I think running with ugly is unfair and insulting, as it was just 50% finished.

      1. Patrick Fennell says:

        It would be a good idea to contact ET for suggestions too.

  5. Nancy Franco says:

    This article has me wondering about the three triangular red lights I saw hovering in the sky just off of Route 7 in Sheffield while driving home on Christmas night 2014. Sounds crazy but I couldn’t explain them or their orchestrated movement. Perhaps someone was playing around with drones? Anyone else see them?

  6. Joe Durwin says:

    Where are the “Satanic” symbols?

Reply to Gene Cancel reply

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.