Lanesborough Still Considering What to Do With Council On Aging
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The Board of Selectmen is asking Town Manager Kelli Robbins to come up with a plan for the Council on Aging.
The Selectmen previously increased and then reduced Council on Aging Director Lorna Gayle's hours. For most of the year, she had been working 27 hours a week -- an increase from last year -- but the Board of Selectmen opted to reduce that. The Council on Aging's board of directors has been advocating for those hours to be restored.
For months now, Gayle has been tracking her activities and work to show the Selectmen that there is much to be done and not enough hours to do it in. The board has been praising Gayle's work and envisions significantly bolstering the Council on Aging and at the last town meeting, voters approved some $20,000 in increased funding for the department.
The Selectmen, however, aren't sure if increasing the hours is the most efficient way. Selectman Henry "Hank" Sayers said he'd prefer hiring a second part-time employee to handle the paperwork aspect of the job, giving Gayle more time to focus on increasing activities.
"I still would like to see it broken into two people, one to do the paperwork and stuff and have Lorna do the activities and spend time with the seniors," Sayers said, reaffirming the opinion he voiced on multiple occasion.
Selectman Robert Ericson, however, said he wouldn't count increasing Gayle's hours off the table but he'd like to see more details. He asked Robbins to craft an "efficient operating plan," which could include either hiring somebody else, increasing hours, or a little of both.
"I'd rather a scope of work that identifies the tasks and responsibilities on a regular basis," Ericson said.
Robbins said she could return with a plan in October.
During the discussion earlier in the year, Mark Siegars, a member of the Council on Aging board, accused Town Hall employees of leaking confidential information. He was arguing that Gayle provides confidentiality regarding senior's finances and other issues. The Town Hall employees on Monday wrote a letter to the Board of Selectmen demanding a public statement from the Selectmen that those accusations are unfounded.
"There is no basis for it. We all do our jobs properly and we would never do that," Town Secretary Diane Stevens said.
Siegars had been asked by Board of Selectman Chairman John Goerlach to apologize to the staff a few weeks ago for the claim but Siegars refused. On Monday, Goerlach read a letter to the Selectmen from Town Hall employees disputing the claim and he went on record to say Siegar's accusations were unfounded.
In other business:
The town will be considering making space available for a dog park. The Board of Selectmen banned dogs from town parks recently but a resident will now be asking the board of open up at least one park for dogs. The Selectmen discussed possibly using the Bridge Street park -- but Ericson has a concern with its proximity to the nearby brook and wetlands -- or putting fencing on the property where the landfill is located. Laston Park, however, is not one any of the Selectmen are willing to open to dogs.
Town meeting voters will also be asked to move the annual special town meeting to a Saturday -- with a time to be determined -- in an effort to increase participation.
Resident Stephen Ciepiela again approached the board with complaints about the Lakeside Bar and Grill (the former Matt Reilly's). Ciepiela lives next door to the restaurant and has a longstanding dispute over noise. He said again the music was too loud.
"If we were inside of my house we would have heard it clear as day," he said. "We don't want to shut them down. We just want some respect."
He said he had little luck with the new owners and is hoping the Board of Selectmen can help resolve the dispute.
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