Our Opinion: UFO monument is an attention-grabber

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Sheffield's aliens are back in the spotlight. No, we aren't talking about a caravan of border-hopping intruders; in fact, conventional man-made barriers and a platoon of ICE officers wouldn't be able to stop this crew.

The site where, according to local lore and the testimony of residents, an "off-world" encounter occurred in 1969 will once again become the subject of a TV documentary, this time for the History Channel. Ever since a nine-year-old Thomas Reed and three other members of his family testified that they made contact with extraterrestrials while crossing the Upper Sheffield Covered Bridge, the town, while not exactly known as the "Roswell of the East," has benefited from a small but steady stream of pilgrims who have come to visit the concrete monument with its official plaque bearing the state seal and an authenticating proclamation by Governor Charlie Baker.

Taking into account that some 40 people came forward to corroborate the sighting of strange lights on the night Mr. Reed says he and family members were briefly transported to a hangar-like structure before being safely returned to their car, the veracity of the incident appears to be less controversial than the ultimate location of the monument.

As is well known on this planet — and probably on others, as well — puny Earthlings have a species-specific tendency to complicate otherwise simple matters, and a dispute has arisen over whether the installation is on public or private land. The memorial, erected in 2015, was moved a few feet just weeks after its original dedication.

While a local farmer claims it is now on his property, Town Administrator Rhonda LaBombard avers that it remains on town land and ordered it removed by May (Eagle, April 11). It is now June, and the monolith has stayed put in a cosmic nose-thumbing to terrestrial laws and the flip-flop of the governor's office, which now disavows the proclamation.

Whatever the eventual outcome of the location brouhaha, even visitors from another galaxy would probably agree that there is no such thing as bad publicity. With luck, the new documentary will help Sheffield and its alien encounter site take its place among the Berkshires' must-see destinations.


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