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Adams Selectmen Candidates Quizzed by Civic Club
By: Tammy Daniels On: 02:04AM / Wednesday April 21, 2010

Selectmen candidates Scott Nichols, left, and Paula Melville, standing center, listen to a question Sunday at the PNA.

ADAMS, Mass. — The Maple Grove Civic Club heard this past Sunday from the three candidates running for the Board of Selectmen.

The candidates' forum was attended by some 55 club members and guests and included moderator candidate Joseph R. Dean Jr. and Board of Health member Roy Thompson, both of whom are running unopposed.

Selectmen Chairman Donald R. Sommer, second from right, at the Maple Grove Civic Club candidates' forum on Sunday.

The main attraction was the three vying for two selectmen seats, including the seat being vacated by Dean: current Chairman Donald Sommer, former selectman Scott Nichols and Finance Committee member Paula Melville. Each spoke for several minutes and took questions from the audience on the proposed school renovations, finances and the dog park.

Nichols served a single term opting not to run for re-election in 2006 because of family commitments, including coaching in three youth sports league. He serves on the Master Planning Committee, and on the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition and Reach Foundation boards.

"I felt I was out pretty much every night of the week with my job and doing work with the town," he said. "I felt my kids were growing up really fast and I wanted to be home most nights with them."

Now that his children are older and he has fewer parental commitments, he's ready to serve again. "I've been very involved. I love this community ... I want to see it continue to move forward."

Nichols said he moved here 1996 because of the good school system and was impressed at how well people took care of their properties. Both issues continue to be important, he said, "blighted properties ... for me that's one of the biggest things to address."

"If elected, I'll work hard for this community to help make it grow," said Nichols.

Melville, who has also served on the Parks Commission and Adams-Cheshire School Committee and as town meeting member, lauded some of the good "bell-ringing" things happening in Adams, such as the Thunderbolt anniversary race, progress on the Greylock Glen and Topia Arts Center.

The town requires new revenue to supplement the property taxes, local fees and state aid that fuel its budget she said. Her "knee-jerk" reaction to talk of a sewer user fee was negative, but she added,  "if it does free up money in the budget we could put that money someplace quickly and it would not affect our tax rate."

There's also .75 percent meals tax that municipalities can adopt. "I know that in Northampton they did and they're expecting a half million dollars in extra revenue," she said.

Scott Nichols

Paula Melville

Donald R. Sommer

"I think serving on the board of selectmen is the ultimate in acting for our town, said Melville. "I would really appreciate the opportunity to act on behalf fo the town."

And, she noted, "there are some differences between me and the people :'m running against and one is that I am a woman and they are not."

Sommers been involved with town government for three decades, including serving on the Finance Committee and, years before, on the urban renewal commission. He has said that if elected, this would be his final term.

"I said three years ago I was running for a couple reasons. I didn't think the town was going in the right way," he said. Since then, he said the town has assembled a good working board. "We don't always disagree but it's certainly not the Wednesday comedy show it used to be on television," said Sommer. "We're arguing the issues, we're making progress."

Adams is suffering like many communities because the state is not coming through with money they should be giving, he said. "The state doesn't come through so we have to rely on a very regressive real estate  tax. Somebody, who fixes their house up or buys a nice little house they're punished for the rest of their life through real estate tax."

Sommers said the town has looked for new revenue, including advocating for the governor to release $600,000 toward the next phase of the Greylock Glen.

He also said he would support further exploration of making the town assessor, treasurer/collector and clerk professional, appointed positions, as recommended by the charter study commission. "It's not like it was 20 years ago," he said. "You have to have training. We need a skilled person; it's good now but we've had problems in the past."

Nichols disagreed, saying the issue has already twice been voted down by the people. "I don't think we should be putting a lot of effort into this." Melville seconded Nichols' opinion.

None of the them mentioned the dog park in their remarks but it was almost immediately brought up by audience members. The three said they didn't have any particular issues with a dog park, but agreed that the Adams Memorial Middle School was not an appropriate location for a variety of reasons.

The candidates mostly agreed on several issues. They were for transparency in government and against high taxes, although with few new suggestions on how to deal with a  tax rate that's already the highest in the county.

Melville didn't want to speculate on how to attack the problem. "I don't know yet," she said. "I'm an investigative type of person. I'd like to get two, three opinions and make sure my facts are straight."

"We're all against taxes but we have to live in reality," said Sommmer. "Taxes are here. We have to pay for things like the police, like our schools, like the senior center, have our streets plowed ... It's not our fault that the state is not coming through. We have the highest tax rate in the county and we're trying to cut where we can."

Nichols said using the Romney solution of raising fees "just shifted the burden to a different area. [Taxes are] a necessary evil because we don't get enough money from the state."

They did split on the form the school project should take. Nichols and Sommer, both members of the school building committee, stressed the importance of moving forward with renovations at Hoosac Valley High School to accommodate the grades moved there from the middle school. That will mean moving the students temporarily back into the middle school for another year as a way to speed the project and save costs.

Melville, however, said a better solution might be to split the elementary and middle school grades between Cheshire and Plunkett elementary schools, thereby sharing all the costs between the towns and keeping the younger teens off the high school campus.

"I think that all options haven't been considered," she said. "I don't think all options have been put on the table."

Dean is seeking to replace longtime Moderator Anthony McBride, who decided not to run for re-election again. He recalled how he had stood in the PNA 46 years before in his first bid for town office —  a seat on the Planning Board that he lost. But he was appointed to a vacant seat that fall and has been in the town's service ever since.

"It's time for me to get out and, hopefully, you people will elect someone to replace me who'll do a good job on the board," he said.

Thompson has served on the Board of Health for 10 years, three as chairman. He spoke of some of the issues the board has faced, such as its work to bring down blighted properties and pursuit of residents ignoring outdoor burning bylaws.

"I would appreciate your vote because the write-ins could kill me," he joked.

All other races are unopposed. The town election will be held Tuesday, May 3, from 7 to 7 at the town's Department of Public Works garage on North Summer Street.



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Coffee Hour with Candidates for Lenox School Committee
By: Staff Reports On: 12:22PM / Tuesday April 20, 2010

LENOX, Mass. — The Council on Aging will host a Coffee Hour to introduce the candidates running for the Lenox School Committee. Join us at the Lenox Community Center, 65 Walker St., on Monday, April 26, at 10 to meet Veronica Fenton, Jerimiah Ames, Arlene Schiff, Shannon Delasco and Dave Berkel.

Come meet the candidates, hear where they stand on school issues and ask your questions in an informal environment. They look forward to attending and addressing your concerns. Everyone is welcome and coffee and refreshments will be served.
 



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Hall Running for Williamstown Elementary Board
By: Staff Reports On: 04:50PM / Monday April 19, 2010
Valerie Hall

Valerie Hall, of 33 Stratton Road, has announced her candidacy for the Williamstown Elementary School Committee.

In a statement received by iBerkshires, she said she has spent the past several years serving the school in different capacities. She is a member and former president and vice president of the PTO board member. She volunteers in classrooms weekly, and has worked on the school directory, science night, field day, the 6th-grade yearbook, and many other projects. 

Hall also volunteers in the Religious Education Program at the Parish of Sts. Patrick and Raphael.

"I love Williamstown Elementary School and am excited about this new opportunity to support our wonderful school," said Hall. "I am looking forward to working with the current committee members, the administration, and the teachers during these tough budget times. I believe strongly in maintaining the character and reputation for excellence our children are fortunate to enjoy at our school today.”

Hall holds bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering; she spent several years designing communications satellites. She and her husband, Allen, have been residents of Williamstown since 2001 and their children both attend Williamstown Elementary.

For more information, Hall can be contacted at 413-458-2853, vlphall@yahoo.com or on her Facebook page.
 

 



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Bowler Gets Another Boost
By: Staff Reports On: 07:24PM / Tuesday April 13, 2010

Sheriff candidate Tom Bowler poses with DA David F. Capeless, left, and Lenox Police Chief Steve O'Brien after being endorsed by the county's police chiefs

Tom Bowler, the Pittsfield Police detective running for Berkshire County sheriff, put another feather in his cap this morning with an endorsement from the Berkshire County Police Chiefs Association.

The monthly roundup of the county's top cops met at the Williams Inn and the gathering included District Attorney David F. Capeless and Berkshire Brigades leader Lee Harrison.

This is Bowler's second endorsement from his brothers and sisters in blue. Local 297 International Brotherhood of Correctional Officers overwhelmingly backed the former jail worker in a vote last month. Other high-ranking officers have indicated support for Bowler but won't publicly endorse anyone until after an expected primary on Sept. 14 between he and Rep. Daniel E. Bosley.

The endorsements bode ill for Bosley, the only other candidate who's confirmed he's in the race. The veteran legislator, however, isn't running on a law enforcement background but on the issues of rehabilition, education and social ills and his Beacon Hill contacts. Four others have taken out papers. Each candidate must gather 500 signatures by April 27.



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Gubernatorial Candidate Cahill Stops in Berkshires
By: Staff Reports On: 04:38PM / Thursday April 01, 2010

State Treasurer Tim Cahill stopped to speak with our media partner Berkshire News Network on Monday, March 29.

Cahill is stumping for governor under the independent label rather than under the Democratic Party banner. He visited Pittsfield on Monday and took a tour of Soldier On, which constructing housing for veterans.

Cahill said he decided to run as an independent because he wanted to escape the labels of both the Democratic and Republican parties. He will stand a better chance of getting things done as an independent than either party can do on its own.

He's going after the 51 percent of voters who are independent; the same ones Republican Scott Brown went after in his stunning win for U.S. Senate in January. Cahill said he is in favor of a tax cut but that the state would also have to cut its spending, especially in health care. He's also in favor of casino gambling in Massachusetts, something that Gov. Deval Patrick has also supported. His campaign site is www.timforgovernor.com.



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Where to vote in Berkshire County

State Election
Tuesday, Nov. 4

Voting is from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Deadline to register or change party affiliation was Oct.15.


Candidates on the ballot in races for state office; all others on the ballot are unopposed. Links will take you to their campaign websites.

U.S. Senator
Edward J. Markey, Democrat
Brian J. Herr, Republican

Governor/Lieutenant Governor
Charlie Baker & Karyn Polito, Republican
Martha Coakley & Stephen Kerrigan, Democrat
Evan Falchuk & Angus Jennings, United Independent Party
Scott Lively & Shelly Saunders, Independent
Jeff McCormick & Tracy Post, Independent 

Attorney General
Maura Healey, Democratic
John B. Miller, Republican

Secretary of State
William Francis Galvin, Democratic
David D'Arcangelo, Republican
Daniel L. Factor, Green-Rainbow

Treasurer
Deborah B. Goldberg, Democratic
Michael James Heffernan, Republican
Ian T. Jackson, Green-Rainbow

Auditor
Suzanne M. Bump, Democratic
Patricia S. Saint Aubin, Republican
MK Merelice, Green-Rainbow

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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