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Three Vying for One-Year Selectman's Seat in Cheshire
By Jack Guerino On: 10:01PM / Sunday May 04, 2014

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Voters will decide a three-way race for the one-year seat on the Board of Selectmen on Monday.

James M. Boyle, Robert S. Ciskowski and Karmen B. Field-Mitchell are running for the vacant seat.

Boyle, originally from Windsor, has been involved in politics and business throughout his life.

"I think a combination of my business experience and working in the community would bring a new light to the town of Cheshire," Boyle said.

He was a Pittsfield city councilor for eight years and chairman of the School Committee when living in the city in the 1990s. He also helped create the tourism council in Pittsfield.

"I worked on a multitude of different economic development items that I worked on in Pittsfield trying to bring in more industry and jobs in the city," he said.

He has a business administration degree and has taken courses leading to a master's in public administration. He said he was a business manager for a nonprofit agency for 11 years.

"I have the financial ability to look over budgets and try to see where we can save some money and just general operations of good government," Boyle said. "Plus with working in the city, you develop a lot of contacts and relationships that can, hopefully, benefit everybody in the town of Cheshire.”

Boyle said he would like to help bring Cheshire into the "new century."

"I think we have a stagnant economic base as far as growth," he said. "The costs of the school and government are both going up, and the actual value of the town is going down due to lower assets so we are forced to push increase the taxes."

Boyle said he would like to bring in new businesses to help lower the tax rate.

"We need to expand the tax base so we bring in some new kinds of business in good locations to bring the tax rate down," he said.

Boyle also said if elected, he would fight for more government transparency and have selectmen's minutes more available. He also said the selectmen's meetings should be televised.

"I think everyone should know exactly what’s going on," Boyle said. "These things need to be brought out into the open so people can know and discuss things, and people need to know about them so they are not caught by surprise."

Boyle sees many assets in Cheshire and explained that he would like to look into creating a new senior center and expanding on the library.

"We have great assets here, but I don't think we are using them as well as we could," he said.

Ciskowski isn't a newcomer to town government. The Cheshire native served on the Selectmen, the Planning Board, the Finance Committee, the Town Government Reorganization Committee and the Cheshire School Advisory Council in the 1980s.

"I think with my background on the town boards, I have a pretty good understanding of how government works, and I also understand how it doesn't work sometimes," Ciskowski said.

He also owned North Mountain Excavating,a construction business based in Cheshire.

Ciskowski said he decided to run for selectman because he doesn't believe town government is moving things forward.

"I really think I can contribute," he said. "We don't have to throw out all the old ideas because a lot of them are good, but I think we have to realize it is 2014."

He said many of the things he worked on during his term as a selectman remain incomplete.

"I have some things I was working on a dozen years ago as a selectman, and I just don't think too much progress has been made on some of the things that I was working on," Ciskowski said.

If elected, he said he would like to make government more transparent and publish selectman minutes.

"I'd like for people to be able to see the government process and not just the end result," he said. "I think open and transparent is stronger."

He said he would also like to see board bring the community together.

"We all share common goals here in Cheshire, and I think the selectmen can be the ones who bring people together and work together," he said. "I think I did that last time I was selectman, and I think that I can do it again."

Ciskowski sees the town's decreasing population as an economic problem.

"If there are less people on the street we still have to plow them, and if there are less people in the schools we still have to have the schools," he said. "I think responding to the population decline is an issue, and it's not really an issue Cheshire can solve by itself, it's a system problem."

Ciskowski said he had a great life growing up in Cheshire and would like to make sure future generations can have the same experience that he did.

"I'd like to extend all the good I experienced and make it available for the next generation because all the decisions we make today will influence what tomorrow is going to be," he said.

Cheshire native Field-Mitchell is new to politics, but has been active in the community.

Trained as a special education teacher, she also managed a Rite Aid Pharmacy. She later became a member of the Council on Aging and was heavily involved in the Senior Center.

Field-Mitchell said she would bring proficient people skills to the Board of Selectmen.

"I am able to talk to people and listen to people," she said.

She would like to help Cheshire progress, but in a responsible way.

“You just can't come in and bulldoze your way through; the Cheshire people won't allow it," she said. "We have to keep moving forward, but not at the speed of light."

Field-Mitchell said Cheshire has to be mindful of its older population, yet make it interesting for the younger generation.

"We have a nice mixture of country and class here, and a lot of people that move to Cheshire want that attitude and environment for their families because its family friendly," she said. "Yet we still understand that we need to progress in order to keep the young people interested in wanting to raise their families here."

Field-Mitchell sees the mixture of different people and attitudes in the town and she wants to be able to help and please everyone.

"I want to help the people," she said. "I want to help the seniors, the children, the animals, and help keep our town country with class."

She said she loves living in Cheshire and wants to maintain what makes it such a special place to live.  

"I like Cheshire because it is still a small town, it's still country, it's still classy, and it's the heart of the Berkshires."

The election takes place Monday, May 5, from 9 to 7 at the Senior Center on School Street.



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Scholz Challenges Incumbent Astorino in Cheshire Election
By Jack Guerino On: 05:08PM / Sunday May 04, 2014

CHESHIRE, Mass. — Political newcomer E. Richard Scholz is challenging incumbent Paul Astorino for a three-year seat on the board of selectmen.

Astorino has served four terms on the board since 2002.

"I take pleasure in seeing things come to fruition and people enjoying what has been gained for them and just a good quality life," he said. "If I can do anything to help that that's what I want to do."

Astorino retired as manager of contracts at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

"I think that the people skills that I have developed over the years at General Electric and General Dynamics have made me a good listener, open minded, and a good communicator," he said.

Astorino was a member of the Fire Department from 1978 to 1980 and on the Berkshire County Selectmen's Advisory Board as a member of the Executive Committee. He has also served on the board of directors of Elder Services of Berkshire County from 1980 to 1983.

In 1981, he was appointed to a six-year term on the Berkshire Community College Board of Trustees. There he chaired the Finance Committee, which oversaw the expenditures of state funds at the college.

He served from 1990 to 1996 on the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee, and on board of directors of the Adams Ambulance service from 2004 to 2013.

"I believe that my 35 years of business experience and service on other boards has given me the tools needed to deal with the financial issues facing the town," he said. "Creative thinking will be needed as Cheshire moves into the 21st century to better the position of the town so it is a more affordable place to live while still providing the required services to the town's people."

He wishes to continue to serve the town where he was born and raised.

"I have been active in many facets of town government, and my whole quest of the matter is to try and give back to the town that was good to me and my children," Astorino said.  

With the reduction of state aid, Astorino sees Cheshire facing more financial struggles in the future.

"I truly believe that the Board of Selectmen should serve as a catalyst and bring all the town's boards together to develop a master plan of goals for the town in order to develop a strong and affordable five-year plan and develop budget estimates which reflect the true needs of the town," he said. "Only then can we provide sound fiscal management while providing the required services."

Scholz was raised in Cheshire and left for college and work in Boston and New York before returning in 2004.

"The Berkshires are among the best places to live on Earth, and Cheshire is the best town," Scholz said.

An electrical engineer, he worked in telecommunications, wireless and consulting. He said he has experience in managing budgets and staffing organizations and that he has launched a startup telecom companies in the Boston and Hartford, Conn., markets.

Hee has been involved in projects such on the NYNEX Corporation's Science & Technology team and the Project Aurora Broadband expansion experiment, and has taught in Northeastern University's Continuing Education Program.

"I have extensive business experience including managing large complex projects, first of a kind experiments, new product introductions, launches of new business ventures, recruiting and staffing organizations, and more," Scholz said.

He would like to use his business, management, and technological experience to change Cheshire's government.

"I am up for pushing things to their limits to see what you can get out of them," he said. "You have to start somewhere, and I think there should be more done."

Scholz said he thinks Cheshire could benefit from expanding the Board of Selectmen from three to five members.

"If two board members agree with how things should be done they run Cheshire," Scholz said. "With five board members, more people serve the town, more voices are heard, and more representative decisions result."

He also would like to get more people involved in the local government.

"I really think if we get more people involved there will be less frustration with government," he said.

Scholz also wants to improve the availability of information, including posting government documents and meeting minutes on the Internet to allow better communication between the government and its people.

"Information sharing is critical to town's people actively participating in town government, and it's not good enough anymore to just invite the them to Selectmen's meetings and have paper copies of all the important documents during business hours at the Town Hall," Scholz said. "Cheshire town government should be using today's technology and media tools to reach out to town's people."

Scholz has been digitizing the board's minutes and publishing them online.

Astorino has served four terms on the board since 2002.

"I take pleasure in seeing things come to fruition and people enjoying what has been gained for them and just a good quality life," he said. "If I can do anything to help that that's what I want to do."

Astorino retired as manager of contracts at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.

"I think that the people skills that I have developed over the years at General Electric and General Dynamics have made me a good listener, open minded, and a good communicator," he said.

Astorino was a member of the Fire Department from 1978 to 1980 and on the Berkshire County Selectmen's Advisory Board as a member of the Executive Committee. He has also served on the board of directors of Elder Services of Berkshire County from 1980 to 1983.

In 1981, he was appointed to a six-year term on the Berkshire Community College Board of Trustees. There he chaired the Finance Committee, which oversaw the expenditures of state funds at the college.

He served from 1990 to 1996 on the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee, and on board of directors of the Adams Ambulance service from 2004 to 2013.

"I believe that my 35 years of business experience and service on other boards has given me the tools needed to deal with the financial issues facing the town," he said. "Creative thinking will be needed as Cheshire moves into the 21st century to better the position of the town so it is a more affordable place to live while still providing the required services to the town's people."

He wishes to continue to serve the town where he was born and raised.

"I have been active in many facets of town government, and my whole quest of the matter is to try and give back to the town that was good to me and my children," Astorino said.  

With the reduction of state aid, Astorino sees Cheshire facing more financial struggles in the future.

"I truly believe that the Board of Selectmen should serve as a catalyst and bring all the town's boards together to develop a master plan of goals for the town in order to develop a strong and affordable five-year plan and develop budget estimates which reflect the true needs of the town," he said. "Only then can we provide sound fiscal management while providing the required services."

The election takes place Monday, May 5, from 9 to 7 at the Senior Center on School Street.



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Adams to Decide New Treasurer/Tax Collector
By Jack Guerino On: 02:13PM / Sunday May 04, 2014

ADAMS, Mass. — Voters will decide two races on Monday, including for treasurer/collector.

Melissa McGovern-Wandrei and Kelly Rice are vying to complete the two years left on the term being vacated by retiring Holly Denault.

Originally from Clarksburg, McGovern-Wandrei has been the Clarksburg tax collector, and more recently treasurer/tax collector, for a total of 15 years. She is currently the president of the Berkshire County Treasurer and Collectors Association.

She is a Massachusetts certified treasurer/collector.

"I am experienced," McGovern-Wandrei said. "I know all of the laws, and I have a 95-97 percent collection rate in Clarksburg, which is very good."

McGovern-Wandrei now lives in Adams with her husband, Lenny Wandrei; some of their children have been in the Adams school system.

"Adams is a good place to raise your children, and it is very community orientated," she said. "The people in Adams have been very supportive of me."

McGovern-Wandrei said she is the most qualified person for the job.

"There is a lot to this job, and I think a lot of people think it is just an accounting job," McGovern-Wandrei said. "It takes a certain kind of person to do this job well, and I think that person is me."

Rice is originally from Savoy but has lived in Adams for nearly 30 years.

"I love Adams," she said. "Adams is a small little tight-knit town, and I like it."

Rice said she worked as the cafeteria manager for Hoosac Valley High School for 14 years, taking care of bookkeeping and all deposits and reconciliations.

Rice said she has also worked for the town as the building inspector's administrative assistant. She moved from there to the financial assistant for grants in the Community Development Department.

"I take care of millions of dollars through all of the grants we have had for the past eight years," she said.

Although not certified, Rice said she has learned the proper skills for treasurer/collector position through her involvement in the town government and also has gained a strong work ethic.

Rice said she wants to help Adams.

"I live in the town of Adams, and I need to take care of the town of Adams," she said. "We need to get some revenues back in for all of the leans and takings, and I would be proud to be part of that."

Also on the ballot is a race for a three-year selectmen's seat; candidates for other offices attended a forum last month.

The town election is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 5, at the town garage.



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Few Candidates Submit Nomination Papers For Lanesborough Election
By Andy McKeever On: 03:44PM / Friday May 02, 2014

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Unless someone launches a write-in campaign, the pool of elected officials is going to stay mostly the same.

By Tuesday's deadline to submit nomination papers for the next election, only incumbents returned papers and there is no competition for any of the seats. And, there are a number of seats with no candidates.

For selectmen, only Henry "Hank" Sayers returned nomination papers. Sayers was elected last year during a special election to replace Robert Barton, who resigned after winning a seat on the School Committee. Longtime School Committee member Regina DiLego is also looking to return to that board.

Two Finance Committee seats are on the ballot, but only one candidate -— incumbent Christine Galib — submitted paperwork. William Steven's seat is also up for election but he did not take out nomination papers.

Planning Board is the same, with two seats and only one candidate. Ronald Tinkham returned papers for the five-year term while Robert Rubin did not submit papers for a re-election campaign.

Three Sewer Commission seats and a tree warden position also saw no candidates. However, the Board of Selectmen are proposing to move both of those posts to appointed positions because of a perpetual lack of interest in serving.

Robert Reilly submitted his paperwork to return as moderator. Jane Stevens and Prudence Barton are both running for re-election as library trustees. And Amy Szczepaniak is looking to return as a cemetery trustee.

The election is on June 17.



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Letters: Cheshire Candidate Sees Options for Dollar General
Letters to the Editor On: 08:31PM / Thursday May 01, 2014

To the Editor:

Recently the select board in Cheshire gave up their hands and stated there was nothing they could do to stop Dollar General from locating in the heart of our community.

The citizens of Cheshire have told me, "They don’t understand why the select board didn't act sooner to prevent this type of a business from locating in the historical center of our town."

Dollar General or any business that generates new taxes and employment opportunities should be welcome in our community, provided they are compatible with the historic and community values that make Cheshire such a special place to live. A place that has that small New England look and feel to it, a place where most of grew up and a place where we want our children to live.

It has been said by many that if you drive into a small town as see a Dollar General type store in the historic middle of the town, it shows is some way a lack of leadership and forethought of its elected official.

In this case, the proposed business clearly does not meet these criteria nor the wishes of the citizens of Cheshire. Is there anything we can do to stop this? I say YES!

If elected on Monday, May 5, the first thing I would do would be to meet with the Dollar General developers and try to convince them to look at other better suited sites in Cheshire for their store. A site that I feel would be more appropriate and should be considered by them would be the site of the Old Country Charm restaurant. The site is not being used, and the traffic patterns are better and safer. I would also meet with the current owner of the property to see if there is some alternative(s) to selling to a developer. This may include, but not limited a purchase by the town.

Seeking grants to purchase the historical site(s) contacting organizations like the Berkshire Natural Resource Council or the Historic Preservation commissions to help arrange a purchase of the property.

It should be noted that when the town of Greenfield was faced with the prospects of a Walmart locating in their community. They realized the impact that it would have on their community and banded together to stop the development. We can do this together!

It should also be noted that when a mall was proposed on Route 7 outside of Pittsfield, then Governor Dukakis used his authority to block the development, by refusing to permit a "curb cut" on to the State-owned road. We should be working with Governor Patrick, who has been very supportive of the small-town life in the Berkshires, to request that a "Curb Cut" be denied, based upon traffic-related problems.

 Other items that should or could be done are:

1. A moratorium on this type of development. This is common practice as we can see in the battle over the building of gambling casinos or fracking

2. Request a study of the impact on the impact of the developing on such items as A. The available of Water. B, Title 5 and how the developer plans on meeting those requirements.

C. Asbestos and PCBs removal (A study should be done to see if the site/building has any of these.) D. a neighborhood impact study

These are only of the few ways to insure that any development meets the needs and historic nature of our community. What I see is lacking is the wiliness to take on these challenges. These or any other steps must be taken before any building permits are issued.

Once issued, as we can see in the case of the town of Sheffield, there would be little we could then do. It is clear that action must be taken soon!

It is important to let your elected officials know how you feel about this matter, but it is more important that you exercise your rights and vote this Monday

Respectfully submitted,


James. M. Boyle
Cheshire, Mass.

James Boyle is running for the Board of Selectmen in Cheshire.
 



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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Primary
Tuesday, Sept. 9

Voting is from 7 to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation is Aug. 20; only unenrolled voters may select which primary to vote in. More information on registering can be found here.

Candidates on the ballot in a race for their party nomination; all others on the ballot are unopposed

Republican
  Governor: Charles D. Baker & Mark R. Fisher

Democratic
  Governor: Donald M. Berwick, Martha Coakley & Steven Grossman
  Lieutenant governor: Leland Cheung, Stephen J. Kerrigan & Michael E. Lake
  Attorney general: Maura Healey & Warren E. Tolman
  Treasurer: Thomas P. Conroy, Barry R. Finegold & Deborah B. Goldberg
 

Municipal Elections

The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015

You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.

2010 Special Senate Election Results

Election 2009 Stories

Election Day 2008

 

 

 



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