Dear Friends of
2019 was a year of transition and renewal and accomplishment for
On March 15 our founder and president, Brian Yates,
passed away. Since then much has been written about him and his
contributions to his constituents, community and Hemlock Gorge. He is very
much missed, but his vision and determination live on.
At our April meeting, a new leadership team was elected
to continue Brian’s Work. John Mordes was elected President. Evan Weststrate
now serves as Vice-President, Robin Dexter as Treasurer (succeeding Jim
Purdy who retired), and Sheila Purdy as Secretary.
Our first order of business was the granite bench that
we had fabricated and installed with the help of the DCR under the
leadership of Site Supervisor Erica Aubin. The memorial was dedicated on
August 6 before our annual summer picnic. Nearly 60 people attended,
including some of his closest friends and colleagues. Remembrances were
given by Rep. Ruth Balser, Newton Mayor
Fuller, Amy Mah Sangiolo,
Bob Burke, Rena Getz, Vaunita Schnell, Rob MacArthur and one of Brian's
cousins. The Picnic was held at the Stone Building with music provided
courtesy of Karen Osborn, who also landscaped the Stone Building for the
At the dedication, Rep. Balser made an announcement
that will have a major impact on Hemlock Gorge and Brian’s legacy:
The Friends’ new leadership team undertook some long-deferred
We applied for and were granted status as a Massachusetts
We applied for and were approved as a 501(c)(3) organization by the
IRS. This means that any contributions to the Friends will be
tax-deductible. It is our hope that this will facilitate fundraising for
some of our future projects.
We rented a post office box to give the Friends a permanent address.
now have a bank account and federal identification number at Village
Bank in Waban to formalize our finances.
In September we decided that our future picnics and regular
meetings in warm weather will be held at the Stone Building to increase
its usage and visibility to the community.
We also want to recognize another special accomplishment in 2019.
Under the leadership of Lee Fisher, working with Erica and the DCR, new
signage was created and installed at both the northern and southern
entrances to the park. It is far more informative and inviting to visitors
than the old signs that were replaced.
In 2020, the Friends of
Hemlock Gorge will continue our past activities, maintain our partnership
with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and others and develop
new ones to preserve and enhance Hemlock Gorge. Major goals that need your
Seeing that the Stone Building gets its new roof.
Investigating the possibility of getting a sidewalk installed on
the Rte. 9 ramp to connect the Stone Building with the Ellis Street parking
Archiving the many artifacts that we have found in the Stone
Building and in Brian’s collection of Hemlock Gorge memorabilia.
Supporting the work of the Echo Bridge Railings Committee, led by
Lee Fisher, to build on their success in getting the Bridge designated as an
endangered historic property by Preservation Massachusetts. This is a step
towards getting it designated as a National Historic Landmark and securing
funds to restore the railings.
Participating in the Charles River Cleanup sponsored by the Charles
River Watershed Association in the spring and doing an independent
cleanup in the fall, working with our Waban neighbors to continue the
cleanup along Quinobequin Road
Working to eliminate as many invasive plants as possible in the
Continuing our tradition of a summer picnic and concert with the
continued generosity of Karen Osborn.
Working on the redesign our website and an online dues/contribution
Revisiting the “Friends’ Bridge” project.
To do all of this and
more, we need your help to build on our success.
Our spring and fall cleanups need your continued participation.
Visit our web site at www.hemlockgorge.com and visit us on Facebook to stay informed
Attend our monthly meetings, usually on the first Tuesday of the
month, at the Emerson Community Center on Pettee Street in Newton Upper
We hope that you will send in your membership form and financial
support in the accompanying stamped envelope.
Next year, to reduce expenses and paper use, we would like to offer
the options of receiving this Annual Report by email and of paying dues at
our website. If this option works for you, please tell us by checking the
box at the top of the accompanying membership/contribution form.
Thank you for all you have done for Hemlock Gorge Reservation in
2019 and for all you will help the Friends do in 2020. We look forward to
seeing you at our meetings and events.
John Mordes, MD