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Williamstown Ballot Spaces Filling for Town Election
By Stephen Dravis On: 03:37PM / Monday March 17, 2014
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — With just more than one week left before the deadline for nomination papers, the town is looking at — minimum — a three-way race for two open seats on the Board of Selectmen.
 
With Selectman David Rempell and Chairwoman Jane Allen having announced they will not seek another term in May's annual election, four Williamstown residents have taken out papers, and three have returned them with the required 28 signatures to gain a spot on the ballot.
 
Andrew Hogeland of 2143 Cold Spring Road, Jack Nogueira of 149 Luce Road and Hugh Daley of 106 Southworth St. each have returned their papers to Town Hall, Town Clerk Mary Kennedy said on Monday morning.
 
A fourth man, Gary Fuls of 82 Elm St., has taken out nomination papers but has not yet returned them, she said.
Selectmen serve three-year terms.
 
Interested residents can take out papers and return them with the proper signatures by 5 p.m. on March 25, Kennedy said.
In addition to the Selectmen, there is one other town body with an open seat this spring.
 
On the Planning Board, the five-year seat currently held by Patrick Dunlavey is up for grabs.
 
So far, only one resident, Amy Jeschawitz of 1173 North Hoosac Road, has pulled papers, but she has not returned them, Kennedy said.
 
Four other positions positions will be on the ballot. Three of the current seatholders have taken steps to serve another term.
On the Williamstown Elementary School Committee, John Skavlem has taken out papers to run for another three-year term, as has Housing Authority Board member Joan Burns, who is serving a five-year term that expires in May.
 
On the Milne Public Library Board of Trustees, there are two seats on the ballot. Trustee Kathleen Schultze has returned her papers with the required signatures to run for another three-year term; Trustee David Dewey has not taken out papers as of Monday morning, Kennedy said.
 
The Board of Registrars confirms the signatures on nomination papers before names are placed on the ballot for the May 13 town election, scheduled for 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the elementary school.


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Young Seeks To Bring 'New Blood' To Adams Selectmen
By Andy McKeever On: 10:02AM / Sunday April 28, 2013

Michael Young is looking to be the youngest member of the Board of Selectmen.

ADAMS, Mass. — Michael Young has just spent his last four years studying the ins and outs of politics and, growing up in Adams, he says he also knows the ins and outs of the town.

He is looking to mesh that together to make Adams a place where young families want to live. The 22-year-old is the youngest candidate for the Board of Selectmen and that is why he feels he can move the town forward.

"I bring young blood, new ideas and I'm not afraid to say no to ridiculous ideas," Young said on Thursday, adding that he has the ambition to "get things done."

He says the biggest problem facing Adams is that there is "nothing to do." Residents in neighboring communities have no real reason to spend time and money in town and those who do come from out of state to hike Mount Greylock, have no reason to stay downtown afterward.

"There is nothing to do here. There is nothing to make people want to live in Adams," Young said.

He says he will push to lower the tax rate across the board to give an incentive for companies to open. He says he will go through the budget and find things the town "doesn't need" to lower it.

"You need to lower the property taxes as much as you can to allow more people and businesses to come in," he said, adding that it will take a few years before the tax base broadens.

But, he isn't looking for one big employer. Young says he wants to see many small businesses — from lodging to restaurants to unique shops — that can be a draw. The expected opening of a hibachi grill in the Mausert Block is an example of a the types of businesses he'd like to see because "you can't get that anywhere else."

Further, the town should capitalize on the fact that Mount Greylock is in Adams. Living on the "best side of Mount Greylock" should be marketed and boasted about, he said.

"People don't want a huge warehouse in Adams," Young said. "People around here like nature and they want to be out in it."

The Greylock Glen project will be a big boost to attracting visitors, he said, and supports the efforts of a campground and hiking trails. However, he has reservations about the amphitheater plan because he can't see the market for it.
"If the want comes up, I don't have a problem with it," he said.

The expansion of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail has proven to be a boon by attracting visitors and Young supports the efforts to continue its expansion to North Adams. However, he isn't sold on the scenic rail because "there isn't anything scenic that people would want to see" in that section.

Young also believes education needs to be supported because "as a whole it isn't what it used to be." However, that is mostly controlled by the state, he said.

Young grew up in Adams and returned home after studying political science at Andrews University in Michigan. He hopes to stay in politics and thinks his home is "a great place to start."

"I feel I can do a lot of good," he said.

He is one of four vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen. The election is on May 6. Also running for the seats are Joseph Nowak, Richard Blanchard and Donald Sommer.

This is the fourth and final in a series about candidates for selectman in Adams.



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Adams Candidates Speak To Maple Grove Civic Club
By Andy McKeever On: 06:00PM / Sunday April 21, 2013

The Maple Grove Civic Club hosted its annual candidate forum on Sunday. The four candidates for two seats on the Board of Selectmen attended.

ADAMS, Mass. — Candidates for several town positions introduced themselves to the Maple Grove Civic Club on Sunday.

The annual forum gives club members a chance to chat with the candidates for every office up for election. This year, four candidates are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen.

First of the Selectmen candidates to speak, Donald Sommer, took aim at the Memorial Middle School, which is now vacant after the students were moved to the renovated high school.

The town has set is sights on short-term leases with the Youth Center and a local marinara company, Ooma Tessoro's, to reuse part of the school.

Meanwhile, the Selectmen are asking voters to set aside $50,000 for engineering for the massive amount of capital repairs required and create a reuse plan.

The former selectmen, however, says the town should instead use that money to hire a part-time marketer and reach outside of the county in hopes to reel in a larger business. He said the town should give the building to an interested company and have them make the needed repairs.

"I don't think it is a good utilization of that [building]," Sommer said of Ooma Tessoro's, which he said will bring few jobs to the town.

He pointed to Nuclea Technologies, which recently moved into a 1,700 square foot office in the William Stanley Business Park in Pittsfield, as a company the town should have made a strong effort to attract. Further, Sommer also disagrees with the recent move to tear down the former Albert's Hardware, saying the town's revitalization focus should be entirely on Park Street.

"Adams has never been able to support two business districts," Sommer said, adding the businesses on Summer Street are for the neighborhood while Park should attract people from outside.

Sommer also said he wants the town to join the Solarize Massachusetts program, bring in a farmers market and promised, citing his history in town politics, that he would "put my heart and soul" into the position.

Michael Young, the youngest of the candidates, followed Sommer by saying Adams has nothing to draw young families to town or to get people to stop. The town needs to have attractions to bring people from out of town to spend their money, he said.

"There are too many empty buildings. There are too many for-sale signs on houses. Young people, young families do not want to come to Adams," Young said.

His friends say they want out so Young wants to provide a financial incentive for young families to stay. More people will support the small businesses that are here, he said.

"I want to make taxes as low as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, he wants to sweeten the pot for young families by "doing something with the [Greylock Glen]" and "the empty buildings."

Richard Blanchard focused his four minutes on the type of representative he would be for voters. He said he would listen to the people and be an independent voice. He cited more than three years of attending almost every meeting, showing he knows the issues in town.

"I can listen to reason and change my mind if the argument is good enough," Blanchard said.

Further, he said he would ask a lot of questions and ask them in public forums so everyone else has a better understanding of the decisions the board makes. Blanchard says he doesn't like when officials tell him to meet privately in the office because others who may have the same concerns won't hear the answers.

He, too, said there needs to be a larger tax base with both new businesses and people. He also thinks the town isn't making the right decision with the middle school.

Blanchard says the Council on Aging should instead be moved to the middle school and utilize the kitchen area and that the town should put the Adams Visitors Center on the market.

"I think the visitors' center is also going to be a money pit," he said.

Joseph Nowak was the last candidate to speak, saying the town needs an "identity" that it currently doesn't have.

"The first thing people see is a high tax rate and a school budget getting cut," Nowak said.

Nowak says he has a lot of ideas ranging from simply putting in signs celebrating the town's claim to fame of Susan B. Anthony's birthplace, joining the Solarize Massachusetts program and supporting the Greylock Glen.

"I like the idea of having a nature center there but we need bigger ideas," he said. "We need to have an anchor business in this town.

However, he does have worries about an amphitheater at the Glen because of the disruption that would cause — such as traffic on sides streets and light pollution.

As for the middle school, Nowak says he'd like to see an entire wing of it torn down and be turned into a fenced in park area for the children at the Youth Center.



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Four Candidates Eyeing 2 Adams Selectmen Seats
By Andy McKeever On: 09:21PM / Tuesday March 19, 2013

ADAMS, Mass. — Four candidates will be vying for two vacant seats on the Board of Selectmen.

Nomination papers were due Monday and Richard Blanchard, Joseph Nowak, Donald Sommer and Michael Young have all returned papers to be on the ballot. They have until April 3 to withdraw their nominations.

That's one short of last year, in which five candidates tried for two seats. The race also ensures new faces on the board — albeit Sommer has served before.

The two three-year seats available are those that had been held by Paula Melville and Scott Nichols. Melville resigned from the board last year and Nichols has opted not to run for re-election.

Nichols instead will be running for moderator against Edward Driscoll, another former selectman. Both are looking to fill the seat left vacant by Joseph Dean Jr., who died in December.

The one-year seat left open by the resignation of former Chairman Richard Frost on the Board of Health will also see competition with two candidates. Glen DeMarsico and Allen Mendel are both vying for it.

A three-year Board of Health seat held by Roy Thompson is also up for election but Thompson will run unopposed.

Three people will by vying for one three-year assessor seat. Dennis Gajda, Lorraine Kalisz and Susan Rowe have all returned papers to run.

There are a number of unopposed elections as well; Holly Denault for treasurer; Karen Kettles for library trustee, Martha Stohlmann for Planning Board; Lawrence Clairmont for cemetery commissioner; Elizabeth Buskey for Redevelopment Authority; and Joseph Allard for McCann School Committee (Northern Berkshire Vocational School District). Paul Butler and Joshua Ryan DeMarsico-Birkland are running unopposed for two seats on the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District Committee.

A three-year library trustees, a five-year Housing Authority seat and a one-year Redevelopment Authority seat have no candidates.

The town election is Tuesday, May 6.



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Adams Selectman Nichols Opts Out Of Re-election Bid
By Andy McKeever On: 02:43PM / Friday March 01, 2013

Nichols served two nonconsectutive terms on the Board of Selectmen, in 2003 and 2010.

ADAMS, Mass. — Selectman Scott Nichols will not be seeking re-election.

The sports director at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts announced Friday that he would not run in the upcoming election.

 "After a great deal of thought I have determined due to my personal and professional commitments, I cannot devote the time to the office that the people of Adams deserve," Nichols said in a statement on Friday.

His departure means there will be no incumbents in the election. His seat and the seat of Paula Melville, who resigned from the board, will be on the ballot.

Both Nichols and Melville were elected in 2010, the second part of a massive turnaround on the board. In 2009, two incumbents were ousted by newcomers and Nichols and Melville continued that trend a year later — beating then Chairman Donald Sommer.

This is also the second time Nichols has left after one term. He also decided not to seek re-election in 2006, only to return in 2010.

"I believe there are other potential candidates that may want to run for office and I wanted to give enough notice so they have time to submit their paperwork," Nichols said in a statement Friday. "I want to thank everyone who supported me and wish the board the best of luck in the future."

Nomination papers are due in the town clerk's office by Monday, March 18, and so far Richard Blanchard and Joe Nowak have returned papers and are qualified to be on the ballot. Blanchard has run unsuccessfully twice before; Nowak is on the chairman of the Agricultural Committee and a member of the Conservation Commission.

Michael Young and Glendon Diehl also took out papers but have yet to turn them in. Last year also saw heavy interest for the position with five candidates vying for two seats.



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