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Cheshire Legislation Approval Paves Way for Expanded Board

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
03:58AM / Thursday, January 17, 2019
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The Board of Selectmen, which has been operating one member short, will be adding two more elected seats this spring to create a five-member board. 
CHESHIRE, Mass. — This coming town election will add two more members to the Board of Selectmen.
It will mark the culmination of the lengthy process to expand the board that began with a citizen's petition in 2015. 
Interim Town Administrator Edmund St. John IV told the Selectmen on Tuesday that after years of troubleshooting and working with the state, the town is poised to hold the vote needed to increase the board size. 
"We have received word that Governor Baker approved and signed into law the proposed legislation expanding the Board of Selectmen from three to five members," he said. "Town counsel is in the process of reviewing it." 
There was some opposition to the idea but town meeting approved the shift.
Town officials had thought the vote could be realized at the next town meeting but the passage was flagged by the attorney general's office and the town told it had to solicit the state Legislature to make the change. The town restarted the process.
Multiple town meetings and votes later, the corner was turned late last year after the Selectmen made final edits to the document that was being sent back and forth between state representatives and the town.
With the law filed, passed and signed, the town still has to hold an election to accept the legislation.
Chairwoman Carol Francesconi said this will likely be on the May ballot. 
"The sooner we can hold it the better," she said.
In other business, the Selectmen read a letter of resignation from longtime Water Commissioner Francis "Biggs" Waterman.
"It has been my pleasure to serve on the Water Commission for the town of Cheshire for the past 20 years plus," Francesconi read. "I have enjoyed my time on the board and have tried to bring financial stability, public safety, and regulatory compliance to the people of Cheshire."
The Selectmen appointed Ron DeAngelis to fill out Waterman's term.
Highway Superintendent Blair Crane gave his report and said, aside for a few minor hiccups, the town is ready for this weekend's forecast snowfall.
He said the salt shed is 75 percent full, which is more than enough to get the town through the weekend, but the Department of Public Works will be a down a truck. The Ford 550 plow truck blew a transmission, he said, but luckily it is still under warranty.  
"The manufacturer is going to put a brand-new transmission in there at no cost to the town but the truck will be out of commission for about a week," Crane said. 
He added that with the extreme cold the town has had ice-flow issues — especially on Wells Road, Outlook Avenue, and Lanesborough Road.
"The water in all these ditches is getting this icicle effect and it is building up," he said. "It is getting to the point where they are now full and frozen so the water is now coming out on the road."
He said luckily there are few issues on Route 8.  

Tags: cheshire selectmen,   citizens petition,   town elections,   

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