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Adams Candidates Speak at Maple Grove Civic Club

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
Edward Driscoll
John E. Duval
Richard Blanchard

Arthur 'Skip' Harrington
Jeremy Halek
The five Board of Selectmen candidates pitched their platforms on Sunday. The five candidates are running for two three-year seats.
ADAMS, Mass. — There was general agreement between candidates for the two selectmen offices that the town needs to more aggressively market itself as a recreational area and it was important the town move forward.

All five of those running appeared at the annual Maple Grove Civic Club candidates' forum on Sunday afternoon.

Appearing at the forum in the crowded PNA Hall were incumbent Arthur "Skip" Harrington, Richard Blanchard, Edward Driscoll, John Duval and Jeremy Halek.

Anyone running for office in the May 7 election was invited to attend. They included candidates for Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee, Steven Vigna; Parks Commission, incumbent James Fassell; library director, Eugene Michalenko; town clerk, incumbent Haley Meczywor, and town moderator, incumbent Joseph R. Dean Jr. and Ryan Biros.

Harrington, the current chairman and who is running for a second three-year term on the Board of Selectmen, pointed to challenges and successes during his first term.

"I love this town, I've enjoyed my three years as selectmen," he said. "I think, and I hope, everyone can agree that during my term as selectman, a lot — a lot — has gone positive for this community."

Harrington spoke of the decisions coming about facilities, such as the middle school and visitors center; the Summer Street project and his involvement with coming Park Street Streetscape Project; work on the library and old Town Hall; the changes at the Council of Aging and its programming expansion; the extensions of the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail and the repairs made after Hurrican Irene.

Regarding last year's controversial attempt to cut the dispatchers, Harrington said a committee with representation from all the emergency services are involved, and lauded the town's first responders for the work during the hurricane.

"I have respect for those who have an opinion about the town of Adams," he said. "I may not always agree with your opinion, and you can't alway agree because you can't please everybody ...  but I'll always listen."

Blanchard focused on the need to increase the tax base to offset the tax burden on residents.

"We've got to find a way to stop that," he said. I know it's easy to say; do I have a magic plan? No. But what I'd like to see is a little more marketing."

He said the town should do what it could to market the town as a recreational area and also attract outdoors retailer like Cabela's, adding that people drive for hours to shop at those venues.
Driscoll, who was on the board from 1995-2007, also thought the town should create a marketable identity along recreational uses. The Red Lion Inn might be the front porch, he said, "but maybe Adams is the back porch."

He took a shot at the current board with its handling of the dispatchers by telling how he'd been involved with the committee that worked to rebuild the waste-water treatment, saving the town millions. The research and collaboration had come first, not afterward, he said.

"I want to contrast the style of what we did at that time with what happened with the dispatchers," said Driscoll. "It's not the outcome but the style."

The Finance Committee vice chairman and member of the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District pledged to ask the tough questions about expenditures and taxes and move the town forward.

"I want to see things move forward," Driscoll said. "That's what I want to see that's what I want to bring to the Board of Selectmen."

Duval, 17-year member of the School Committee and football coach, said the town needs to have strong leadership that supports new ideas and forward thinking in a positive way.

"We've had a lot of people try to hold things back," he said. "We need people onboard to work together ... I'm going to tell you what I think."

The School Committee isn't on television every other week, and that means residents aren't seeing the tough decisions being made, he said. Duval found himself defending the need for the $41 million Hoosac Valley High School renovation, saying it would have cost taxpayers more to fix the deteriorating high school and middle school. "It's on budget and on time," he said, adding the new school would draw students - and money - to the school district. "We need to show we have a great school system."

He, too, thought Adams should take advantage of marketing its outdoors resources, pointing to Berkshire Outfitters as an example.

"This is a great community, we've got great people in this community," he said. "We've got to sell this community to everybody you talk to ... come to Adams."

Halek, a town meeting member, said he would be accessible to citizens. A graduate of Berkshire Community College and Westfield University, he currently works for the Brien Center.

"Since I took out papers to run for for selectman, I've been going door to door listening to concerns important to them and their families," he said. Many of have spoke of their concerns for getting more businesses downtown and the future of the middle school. "I want to be approachable and accessible by listening to all residents and bring your concerns and ideas with me to the board."

Joseph R. Dean Jr., left, is hoping to fend off challenger Ryan Biros in the first race for moderator in some time.
Dean and Biros are running in the first race for moderator in recent memory, and in the only other race on the ballot.

Dean, a 28-year selectman, was elected after longtime moderator Anthony McBride stepped down in 2010. He brought the town budget book to remind voters that the moderator is responsible for more than running the annual town meetings. After years as a selectman working on budgets, he said it was an easy decision to "work on it on the other side."

"I have to be neutral and I have to let both sides get their point across," he said, listing some of the civic activities he's been involved in. "I do have an interest in the town."

Biros, a town meeting member and member of the Redevelopment Authority, spoke of his work in developing the town's user-friendly website with the past town administrator.

"I feel that as a moderator we have a great process," he said, pledging he would appoint Finance Committee members "in an unbiased way" and that he would work to get wireless microphones for town meeting so it will be easier for town meeting members to speak.

The election is May 7. The last day to register to vote is Tuesday, April 17; the town clerk's office will be open until 8 p.m. Absentee ballots are available until May 4.

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Richmond Town Election Ballot Set For 2012

RICHMOND, Mass. — There are no races on the town election ballot this year. The names of those on appearing on the ballot on Saturday, May 26, are as follows: 

• Three-year term on the Board of Selectmen: Alan Hanson, 796 Dublin Road
• Two three-year terms on the Board of Health: Andrew Fisher, 494 Dean Hill Road, and Anthony Segal, 1220 Lenox Road
• Two-year term on the Board of Health: Peter Cohen, 60 Cone Hill Road
• One-year term on the Board of Health: Fredrick Schubert, 462 East Road
• Two three-year terms on the Finance Committee: Eileen Martin, 2215 Dublin Road, and Stevan Patterson, 132 Shore Road
• Three-year term on the School Committee: Dewey Wyatt, 82 Pine Grove Drive
• One-year term on the School Committee: Bianca Daigle, 970 West Road
• Three-year term on the Board of Library Trustees: Lisa Donfried, 591 Cone Hill Road
• Five-year term on the Planning Board: Linda Morse, 161 Rossiter Road
• Two-year on the Planning Board: Richard Bell, 99 Jolindy Road
• One-year term of town moderator: John Whitney, 251 Yokun Road
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Biros Announces For Adams Town Moderator

Biros Campaign
Editor's Note: This candidate letter was received from Ryan Biros.

ADAMS, Mass. — It is a privilege to announce my candidacy for Adams town moderator.

I have lived in Adams my entire life and decided several years ago to help keep our town moving forward. Growing up in Adams has taught me a few things; everyone knows who you are or knows a family member, people will always stand firm for what they believe in and most importantly, the extreme interest in the citizens of Adams to be part of the community. Some citizens are involved in our town government, some are involved in community organizations or both.

I am involved with both. Currently I am a member of town meeting for Precinct 2, the Historical Commission, Redevelopment Authority and serve as town webmaster. As member of town meeting, I understand the importance of healthy and productive debate. Serving on both the Historical Commission and Redevelopment Authority has taught me the value of preservation and progress. 

I became town webmaster four years ago after noticing that the town website was in need of an overhaul. I worked with the Board of Selectmen and the town administrator to change it.  One year later, the town re-launched the website, which is now user-friendly, bills can be paid online, serves as 24-hour bulletin board with up-to-date information.

I volunteer as an adult leader in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturing units in Adams. In these roles I have helped the youth of Adams to reach their full potential and become leaders. I also am a member of the PNA, the Adams Historical Society and a former member of the Maple Grove Civic Club.

Town moderator is an important position. The town moderator is the presiding officer of town meeting and is responsible for keeping order, summarizing warrant articles for debate, calling for votes and moderating discussion. Aside from town meeting, the moderator appoints members to the Finance Committee. If elected I will maintain the integrity of the meeting, be fair and firm to all members and remain unbiased in selecting candidates for appointment to the finance committee. Our town has been and is continuing to work hard to move forward. 
I am proud of the work I have done and will continue to do for the town of Adams. I am asking for your support on Monday, May 7, to become Adams town moderator. Thank you.

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Five Vying For Adams Board of Selectmen

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Five candidates are vying for two seats on the Board of Selectmen and five open seats on other boards have no candidates.

At Monday's deadline for nomination papers, the five candidates that had returned papers were incumbent Arthur "Skip" Harrington, former Selectman Edward Driscoll, and newcomers Richard Blanchard, John Duval and Jeremy Halek. Two others, Donald Sommer and Anthony Coty, had taken out papers but did not return them.

The only other race is for moderator. Incumbent Joseph R. Dean Jr. is being challenged by Ryan Biros.

Five elected positions do not have candidates.

Parks Commissioner Aimee Sinopoli will not be running again and the board was already one position short. Of three open positions on that board, only incumbent James Fassell returned nomination papers.

Two seats on the Redevelopment Authority —  five-year and a two-year — also have no candidates. Incumbent Joseph Allard will not seek re-election, which adds to an already vacant position.

Additionally, Cemetery Commissioner Robert Ciempa is not seeking re-election, creating a vacancy there.

For all other posts, only the incumbents returned election papers. The full list is available below.

Adams 2012 Offices for Election
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Adams School Board Member Resigns For Selectman Run

Staff ReportsiBerkshires
ADAMS, Mass. — Longtime School Committee member John E. Duval resigned on Tuesday to pursue a seat on the Board of Selectmen.

Duval, who has served on the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee for 17 years, said in a statement that his experience on the committee would inform his decisionmaking on the Selectmen. He particularly pointed to the work being done by Town Administrator Jonathan Butler and the current board and said he would be "excited to join the team."

There are two seats up for election on the board: Selectman Jason Hnatonko is not standing for re-election but current Chairman Arthur "Skip" Harrington has already returned papers for a try at a second term. Both Hnatonko and Harrington were swept into office three years ago in what many saw as a rejection of the board's performance at the time.

There could be large field for the two three-years seats. In addition to Duval, Richard Blanchard, Jeremy Halek, Anthony Cote, and Donald Sommer and Edward Driscoll, both former selectman, have also taken out papers. As of last week, Harrington, Blanchard and Halek had returned their papers.

The town election is May 7.

Duval's Statement:

"Today I proudly announce my candidacy for a seat on the Board of Selectmen in the May 7th election. As a lifelong resident of Adams, it will be an honor for me to serve the town where my wife and I have raised our three boys, and where the future is only looking better.

Earlier today, I resigned my seat of 17 years on the Adams-Cheshire Regional School Committee so that I may devout my full effort and energies to running for this town wide office. While I will miss the work involving the schools and our students, that experience will be the most important foundation that I will bring to my decision making as a selectman.  I am proud of the work I did on behalf of hundreds of children in our district for many years, and was particularly proud to be a very strong supporter of the major renovation project now under way at Hoosac Valley High School.

I am encouraged by the direction, leadership and enthusiasm resonating from Town Hall. In his first three years as our Town Administrator, Jonathan Butler has produced good results, and I look forward to working with him to make sure the momentum of progress continues.  The current Board of Selectmen should be proud of what has been accomplished the last few years, and I am excited to join the team.

Our Board of Selectmen must continue to work hard and be creative in partnership with the administrator and all town departments to make sure that there is a continual fair balance between the services offered by the town and the cost to those taxpayers who are served.  My background with the school committee as its past chairman, budget development and oversight, and union negotiations will serve me well in this task. I have also served on several Adams town boards including the Capital Improvements Committee, Charter Review Committee and Town Meeting Member."
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