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Levesque, Scholz Running For Partial Term on Cheshire Selectmen

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Jason Levesque is a newcomer to town government. He wants to consolidate town departments into the former school. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Candidates Jason Levesque and E. Richard Scholz are vying for a one-year term on the Board of Selectmen.
The final year of the three-year term was left vacant last fall when Edmund St. John IV resigned to apply for the town administrator post he currently occupies. 
Political newcomer Levesque hopes to bring a fresh perspective to the board.
"It is kind of a changing of the guard and ... I was fortunate enough to move back," he said. "I have three kids now so I want to make sure there are some smart decisions being made."
Levesque, who works in nuclear medicine technology imaging at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, also spent some time working at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and said his line of work gives him the perfect skill set to be successful on the board. 
"There is a lot of critical thinking involved in my job, which kind of forces me to think ahead," he said. "Decisions made today might have ramifications ten years from now that might get overlooked."
Levesque said one of his major concerns is the budget and keeping taxes low.
"I know the big draw for me and the wife moving back was the low taxes so that is one of my goals," he said. "I don't like taxes in general. Keep them low, nothing new if we don't have to."
Levesque acknowledged that there are some major infrastructure concerns in town and said this is something the town needs to address. He said the roads are a huge concern of his and that they need to be fully remediated.
Levesque noted that this will come at a cost and thought the town should not only explore grant opportunities but streamline town government and services. 
He said he would like to consolidate fire, police, and Town Hall into the former elementary school.
"Then you only have one building to deal with, which lowers the cost of doing business," Levesque said. "Basically streamline everything and make it more cost efficient, which will allow us to use tax revenue to fix the roads."
Levesque said because he grew up in Cheshire but also spent some time away he has a different perspective that will benefit the board. 
"I remember things from when I was a child and growing up you gain different perspectives," he said. "I want to help and knowing the history of the town and some of the people it will help me get things done faster."

E. Richard Scholz has served on the former Advisory Board and has a background in finance and management. 
Scholz said with his background in business, technology, and industry connections, he can bring change to Cheshire
"I have a lot of experience in many different fields and I'm the only person that hasn't either grown up into Cheshire or moved here late in life, I've done both," he said. "I have experience working on budgets in the town and working in business in two or three different diverse fields."
This will be Scholz's third run for selectman, having run in 2014 and in 2016. He's served on the Advisory Board, now known as the Finance Committee, and has 20-plus years of experience in project management and consulting experience within the telecommunications industry.
"I think I have a lot of experience and I managed very large budgets worked with marketing people," he said.
Although he hasn't held a seat on the board, Scholz says he already kickstarted change by submitting the citizens petition in 2014 that began the process of expanding the select board from three to five members. The town will finally vote on this in May.
"What we really needed was a bit more bandwidth in terms of people who can bring ideas and do new things," he said. "I don't want to say it's mine because it turned out to be a group effort but I got the energy going."
Scholz said he is looking toward the future and wants Cheshire to become a destination. He believes the town's beauty, history, and agricultural roots should all be taken advantage of.
"Every town in New England has farmland but we have the only farmland that was used to raise the cows for the milk for the Cheshire Mammoth Cheese that went to President Jefferson," he said. "Our farmers need to be encouraged to do some things where people can actually bring their children in because we want to be able to bring money into the town."
Scholz said he sees opportunities for agricultural schools and would also like to see the creation of a town beach and better utilization of town forestland. 
The town has to do everything it can to leverage its assets to attract private investment and new residents to help expand the town's tax base, he said, which will allow infrastructure needs to be addressed.
Scholz thinks he will be a good fit for the board and is asking residents cast their vote in his favor.
"I  want to give Cheshire a fairly low-risk opportunity to try me out as a selectman for a year ... and I think I can do a good job," he said. "Cheshire should be the best small town in Berkshire County."
The election will be Monday, May 6, at the Community Center. The Council on Aging is hosting a candidate forum there on Friday, May 3, at 7 p.m.


Tags: election 2019,   town elections,   

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Cheshire Will Try to Accommodate Hiker Camping

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
CHESHIRE, Mass. — Town officials will apply for a special permit on behalf of Appalachian Trail hikers to accommodate camping on the Cheshire School grounds.
A proposal to place a camping site on the town-owned land came to a halt last week when it was found to be in violation of the town's zoning. 
After some research, Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV told the board of Selectmen on Tuesday that he may have found a way to establish a campsite for through-hikers on a portion of the grounds of the vacant school.
"I think last week was good to get all of that information out so we know what the issues are but just because there are issues does not mean that there is not a path we can move forward on," St. John said.
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