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Town Administrator Carl McKinney updates the Selectmen.

Clarksburg Town Administrator Off to Running Start

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff
02:37AM / Thursday, July 24, 2014
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New Town Administrator Carl McKinney is in a different seat at the table after nearly a dozen years as a selectman.

CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The new town administrator was all business Wednesday night, running the Selectmen through a list a backlog of items.

Not surprising, since the town's new executive is Carl McKinney, a longtime former selectman and Finance Committee member.

"It was exciting," he said of his first week in the town administrator's office. "You better know what you're doing and your Is are doted and Ts are crossed. ... as long as you understand who you're serving."

Expected to start in August, McKinney stepped into the post earlier at the urging of Chairman Jeffrey Levanos.

The town has been without an administrator since February retirement of Thomas Webb.

Wednesday night's agenda was evidence of some of the tasks on McKinney's plate, some put on the back burner as officials struggled with the town's financial issues.

"Finish our finances, get a solid plan for infrastructure repairs and there's a ton of other things that we need to do just running the town," he said of his immediate goals. "Just staying on top of things."

That meant this week photographing and documenting road degradation, damaged culverts, erosion and leaning utility poles, caused by this season's heavy storms for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

"With all these storms we keep getting, we have plenty of roads to repair," McKinney told the Selectmen. "I think [it's about] what can they to do help us and what is the damage from the storms."

In response to questioning from Levanos, he said some of the areas are very bad. In one case, a tree has fallen on the guide wires of a utility pole along the North Branch. Neither National Grid nor Asplundh, with which it contracts for tree removal, wanted to take responsibility for going into the river, "and nobody seems to know who's job it is," said McKinney.

He is also preparing to reapply for a Massworks grant previously known as the Small Town Road Assistance Program, or STRAP, grant. The town authorized borrowing of up to $1.7 million in anticipation of the grant.

McKinney said he and Highway Foreman Kyle Hurlbut will be meeting with a state Department of Transportation representative to review the town's past grant applications to see where they might have lost points.

Clarksburg has been trying for several years to obtain the grant for resurfacing West Cross, Middle and Daniels roads.

McKinney said the road plans do align with the master plan in terms of development of bike paths and emergency routes.

He hopes to tie the grant into the deteriorating walkway from the school to the town field.

A small cash gift given to the town for conservation purposes could be used to remove a section of the walkway's bridge.

"It's sitting in a wetland and its poisonous and toxic," he said of the pressure treated lumber.

That would be removed and the lumber reused to make the rest of the wood walkway more handicapped accessible and the only cost would be labor.

He said he had also been in conversations with state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing and Rep. Gail Cariddi about the collapsing Gates Avenue bridge.

The town had budgeted about a little over $100,000 to replace the old cast-iron boiler being used. The state Department of Environmental Protection, however, is demanding a far more expensive solution because of the small fish in the creek running under the avenue.

"It's not getting better with age," McKinney said. "I've got a full court press on to get this squared away."

In other business, the Selectmen:

Appointed Norman Rolnick to fill the last year of an unexpired term on the Board of Health, until the next election.

Sold a cemetery plot to Lee and Nancy Sylvester.

Were told that two properties taken for taxes on Lincoln and on Morris drives are ready for auction; a home on Wells Avenue can't be sold until November. Any proceeds will recoup the town's costs and flow into the free cash account.

Were asked to consider updating the town's 2002 master plan, a conversation expected to continue.

Decided to move the assessor and accountant, both of whom also work for the city of North Adams, to an office on the first floor with a separate entrance to accommodate their hours without opening the entire building.

Were asked to consider an alternate for the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission.

Received an update on participation in the North County group purchasing plan. McKinney said the town stands to save significantly in oil and diesel though the program.


Tags: MassWorks grant,   MEMA,   road work,   town administrator,   

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