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Students from Clarksburg School read their essays about the needs of the town.

Clarksburg Board Nixes Request for Full-Time Police Officer

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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The board also discussed whether a second officer was needed. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Select Board last week felt it couldn't recommend the hiring of a second full-time police officer. 
 
Police Chief Michael Williams had pitched the idea back in February as the town was beginning to prepare for next year's budget. Another officer at night, Williams said, would provide a more consistent back up for investigations and emergencies and take up some of the administrative duties so he could do more policing. 
 
The town currently has just Williams as a full-time weekday officer and four part-time officers who work 12-hour shifts — four hours patroling for which they are paid and eight hours during which they are paid if called. 
 
The board had asked Williams to come back with some figures to support the need for another officer and weren't convinced by the log dispatches he presented at Wednesday's meeting. 
 
"There's just not enough here for the town to hire full-time officer at night," said Chairman Ronald Boucher. "I just don't see it. I really don't know. ... I think the existing system we have in place works."
 
Board member Karin Robert agreed after reviewing the police logs provided by Williams.
 
"I agree because a lot of these are things that I would expect they'd be doing anyways," she said. "I'm glad to see they're actually doing these motor vehicle stops, so that's a nice thing I noticed."
 
Williams had provided six months of call logs for Clarksburg that came through North Adams dispatch. It wasn't clear in many cases how the call came in. Williams said it could be through 911 or a phone call to dispatch or some other way.  In some cases, a call could be for assisting an agency, such as the Board of Health or the Department of Families and Children. In other cases, the logs registered officer-initiated calls, such as motor vehicle stops. 
 
Robert had wanted to know if there were enough incidents in town where North Adams or another agency had to be called in because there wasn't coverage. Williams explained that North Adams doesn't step in except in unusual circumstances. Rather, the call would go to the state police if no one in Clarksburg was available. 
 
"I just wanted to hear how many times we were not able to respond to the needs of our town," she said. "And so these are our officers responding to incidents in our town."
 
The board voted to reject the recommendation. 
 
The board also heard from eighth-graders from Mark Karhan's social studies class at the elementary school. The students were writing essays on issues they see in Clarksburg and how to address them for the Massachusetts Municipal Association's eighth-grade essay contest.
 
"The purpose is they each have to write an essay on if they were take the role of a select board member," he said. "And what they do to identify what an issue would be in their town and then not only what the issue would be but then to correct the issue."
 
Three sets of students identified three problems: the condition of the roads, the condition of Clarksburg Elementary School and the need for bike paths and recreational opportunities. They would address those, they said, largely by seeking grants and government funding.
 
Karhan said the students did research on how state and federal agencies worked and how other communities address these issues. They looked at the Massachusetts School Building Authority and found how Pennsylvania supports sidewalks and bike trails.
 
The board said many of the issues the students raised are being addressed in some way, particularly town officials' request for a $1 million borrowing for capital needs on the roads, town structures and the school. 
 
The civics lesson had also included a visit to the class by Boucher.
 
"We had some nice conversation. It was it was kind of funny to hear the different reasonings that what different things are important to you and this town. And Mr. McKinney being a member of the MMA thought was a great idea about having you guys write an essay," he said. 
 
Town Administrator Carl McKinney told the students that he graduated from Clarksburg School. 
 
"I was a vice president in seventh grade, class president in eighth grade," he said. "So it kind of put me on a path toward where I am today."
 
McKinney is a member of the MMA's Public Policy Committee for infrastructure and utilities and had reached out to Principal Tara Barnes about the contest. Public service, he said, is "a very noble and worthwhile endeavor and might be a career path."
 
It was important to become knowledgable about how the community operates and to be active in making decisions, he said. 
 
"For instance, this is the Executive Board, our the executive branch, and the people at town meeting are the legislators so when you register to vote or to go to town meeting, you would become a legislator," he said. "Nothing passes in this town in a spending plan without approval of town meeting vote."
 
In other business, the board accepted a bid of $107,222 from Climate Heating & Cooling to replace the school's two furnaces. There were two bids with the second being $129,500 from Adams Plumbing & Heating. Neither bid included pumps. An earlier request for bids had come in with one at $129,000 for two oil-fired boilers. Some $87,000 will come from the town's Green Communities grant and the balance from the school's reserves. 
 
The board also instituted a $500 fine for those caught trespassing on the capped landfill. The state Department of Environmental Protection had ordered the town to set up no-trespassing regulations and fines after a DEP representative found signs of motorized vehicles being used in the area. The landfill was capped at a cost of some $300,000 three decades ago that the town is just now paying off. Town officials said they would work with ATV users to develop a pathway around the old landfill and onto town land. 

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