Encounter of a different kind for Sheffield UFO monument

A monument, paid for by Sheffield community members, has been erected at the spot of the famous 1969 UFO mass-sighting near the Sheffield covered bridge. A dispute has emerged recently as stown assessors' maps show the monument rests on town property.

SHEFFIELD — Town officials are working to resolve an apparent dispute over the placement of a unique, privately funded monument commemorating a possible encounter with an UFO in 1969.

Town manager Rhonda LaBombard said she will meet this week with Thom Reed, one of the individuals who claims to have encountered the UFO, to determine the monument's final resting place.

The monument was dedicated recently at a ceremony in an open field adjacent to the Covered Bridge on Route 7.

However, town officials believe that the monument, a 5,000-pound granite pillar with a plaque attached, rests on town property.

LaBombard said the town assessors' maps show that the monument is clearly on town property.

Reed said he believes the monument is on an easement granted to the town by the property owners.

But, said Reed via email, he had a "very good conversation" with LaBombard, and he believes the issue can be worked out.

"I think we can resolve this amicably," he said.

LaBombard agreed. "Both sides want to get it done. He seems to want to work with us. He asked us to show him where it can't go. I didn't want to tell him where to put it on private property."

LaBombard said that some townspeople are nettled at the placement of the monument and have complained.

"I think it's mostly because when you try to take a picture of the Covered Bridge from some angles, the monument is in the picture too," she said.

In 1969, Reed and his younger brother saw a strange light in the evening sky near where the monument is presently placed. A number of other residents in Great Barrington, Sheffield, Stockbridge and Egremont also claimed to have seen the objects and the event was reported by radio station WSBS at the time.

Supporters submitted the evidence to the U.S. Air Force and Reed passed a polygraph examination.

The sighting generated some local controversy at the time, from UFO believers and skeptics alike. Reed revealed that there had been similar local sightings of UFOs in the area in previous years.

"I know what I saw," he said last week.

The Great Barrington Historical Society voted in February to admit Reed's voluminous amount of testimony and studies to its archives, declaring it a "significant" event worthy of archiving.

The event has sparked recent interest, as well. Since the dedication story ran in The Eagle last week, several individuals have asked for directions to the monument.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.