Cory Thurston, right, and the three members of the Williamstown Prudential Committee vote yes at Tuesday's special fire district meeting.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — By an overwhelming margin Tuesday, the voters in the Fire District chose to acquire a 3.7-acre Main Street parcel where officials hope to someday build a new fire station.
Four years after district officials twice tried and narrowly failed to achieve the needed two-thirds majority vote in favor of the acquisition, voters Tuesday night approved the measure by a margin of 194-22.
The positive vote enables the Prudential Committee, which oversees the district, to complete a purchase-and-sales agreement for the so-called Lehovec property for $400,000. The committee plans to pay for the property purchase out of its reserve funds.
A grateful chairman of the Prudential Committee said that unlike in 2013, there were fewer unknowns for the town's voters to think about when the district made its appeal.
"I think probably the major thing four years ago was you had the school," Notsley said, referring to the then-prospective Mount Greylock Regional School building project. "They threw the school at us. They said the sewage plant needed upgrade, and the library needed an addition. They threw everything at us.
"It was too much."
Selectman Jeffrey Thomas, who four years ago was one of those saying the town should pump the brakes on the land deal, Tuesday spoke from the floor of the special Fire District meeting to advocate for passage.
"I have a friend who's done a lot of work in China and likes to quote a Chinese expression: 'Better on time than early,' " Thomas said. "I voted against this three years ago because we had big things on the horizon.
"Now, the school is under way. The police station is on track. Now, it's time."
Another difference this time, Notsley agreed, is that the Prudential Committee took pains to make its case directly to Town Hall, appearing before the Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee to explain its intentions. Four years ago, some in town said the Prudential Committee lacked transparency in its approach.
At Tuesday's meeting, the committee reminded voters of those sessions and a pair of informational meetings hosted at the Fire Department's current home on Water Street.
There still were some questions on voters' minds on Tuesday night.
Resident Alice Young led off the interrogatories by asking what would happen if the district bought the land and the voters did not approve a bond to build a building, and, noting concerns about property taxes, she asked whether the Prudential Committee had an estimate for how much a building would cost.
On the first point, Notsley replied that the district likely would have to put the Main Street (Route 2) site back on the market.
On the latter, the district does not have a price tag — or even an architectural design. Four years ago, it had a ballpark estimate of between $8 million and $9 million, Notsley said. And there likely would be a request to town voters to bond the project in a couple of years when plans are finalized.
Williamstown Fire District Clerk/Treasurer Corydon Thurston said the district would aggressively seek donations and grants to reduce the burden on taxpayers. In answer to Young's follow up question, Thurston said that Williams College, long a financial supporter of the fire district, will be among the local institutions targeted for appeals.
Conservation Commission member Henry Art asked the Prudential Committee whether it had considered the Lehovec property's physical characteristics, specifically the fact that a quarter or more of the site is in the flood plain for the Green River.
Prudential Committee member Ed Briggs explained that local engineering firm Guntlow & Associates and a Connecticut engineer that specializes in public safety buildings both have reviewed the site and assured the committee that there is enough land outside the flood plain to make it work for the district's needs.
Charles Bonenti asked the the Prudential Committee review the reasons why other potential properties in town were rejected, specifically citing the former Town Garage site down the road from the current fire house.
Notsley noted that the Prudential Committee has reviewed more than a dozen sites over the last 10 years and found that no other site has the combination of size and centrality that the district needs.
"One of the key factors is a central location," Notsley said. "In addition to fire suppression, our first goal as a Fire Department is to save lives."
As for the town garage site, the Prudential Committee found it was too small to meet its needs, Notsley said.
The president of the Village Ambulance Service Board of Directors, Dr. Erwin Stuebner, asked the committee if the district would consider working with the merged VAS-North Adams Ambulance Service to design a new fire station that would include space for the ambulance service. Thurston gave Stuebner an "unequivocal yes."
Thomas and BOS Chairman Hugh Daley both used their time at the podium to remind the meeting that the Prudential Committee was asking to take a first step on a long road: acquiring the land.
"This is an opportunity for us to secure a site for a fire station that will be designed and scoped in the future," Daley said. "You will have a second opportunity at that point to look at it and see if it fits in with the financial plan of the town. In the last six months, I have seen a willingness on the part of the Prudential Committee to work with the town.
"They're not going to drop this thing out of the sky on us. Yes, they are a separate taxing authority. There are a lot of things they could do. They're not doing them."
"These gentlemen and ladies of the fire department know the limitations they're up against with this facility," Harsch said. "The facility is obsolete. It does not serve them. They cannot even house all of the equipment they need today.
"We need to support them. … If we turn this down, I wouldn't blame them for giving up or even leaving the department. It would show poor support for what they do."
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Mount Greylock Announces First Quarter Honor Roll
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Mount Greylock Regional School has announced its honor roll for the first quarter of the 2019-2020 school year.
Students are placed on the honor roll when their quarterly letter grades average a B or better, and when the student receives no grade lower than a B- in all graded classes. The student must be carrying a minimum of four graded courses to be eligible. Students who withdraw from a course are not eligible for the honor roll for one semester.
Gabriella Alvarez, Madeline Art, Miriam Bakija, Anthony Bossana, James Brannan, Tyler Canata, Barry Chhuon, Taylor Cornell, Elizabeth DeGraff, Khushi Devre, Julia Donati, Lily Edge, Sarah Egan, Brandon Fahlenkamp, Alexander Falk, Toby Foehl, Lucas Forman, Tarryn Gaherty, Brandi Gill, Logan Gould, Noah Greenfield, James Hetherington, Molly Howard, Julia Jammalo, Mitchell Jezouit, Joseph Jones, Jonah Kelly-Whitney, Saville Keyes, Natalia LeRoux, Aaron McKeon, Alexander Morin, Amelia Murphy, Ryan Narey, Nicole Overbaugh, Brooke Phelps, Charlotte Rauscher, Madison Ross, Grace Sanchez, Ciera Schwarzer, Anna Scott, Lucy Shepard, Malcolm Skinner, Brayden Smith, Emanuel Soza-Foias, Owen Tucker-Smith, Jaimey Vallieres, Xavier Vilaubi, Anna Welch, Finnian Welch, Spencer Zheng.
Dominique Auriemma, Delaney Babcock, Isabel Beauchamp, Aurora Bullett, Talia Cappadona, Croft Carter, Priya D'Souza, Briana Dowling, Nicholas Duda, Laura Dupuis, William Ellingwood, Michael Faulkner, Amanda Filiault, Samuel Garvey, Gabriel Gerry, Claire Hall, Emma Hayward, Madison Helm, Carolyn Jones, Isabella Kirby, Lily Lesieur, Oscar Low, Col McDermott, William McDonough, Charles McWeeny, Clarissa McWeeny, Victoria Melkonyan, Corban Miller, Julius Munemo, Erin O'Keefe, Leah Petricca, Alyssa Phelps, Joshua Polumbo, Benjamin Prescott, Jordan Rosier, Leo Rossitter, Jamieson Sanborn, Charlotte Sanford, Hazel Scullin, John Skavlem, Matthew Sorrell, William Starenko, Solomon Sutter, Mia VanDeurzen, Gina Wang, Malcolm Waynick, Ruth Weaver, Jacqueline Wells, Fiona Williams, Olivia Winters.
Zoe Armet, Henry Art, Adriel Benko, Saku Bergendahl, Edward Brannan, William Broadwell, Jillian Bump, John Cangelosi, Jack Catelotti, Cayden Conry, Josephine DeChaine, Maisie Dufour, Samantha Garzone, Ryan Goss, Jonah Hane, Luca Hirsch, Ava Howard, Simon Klompus, Rosario Larios-Sontay, Felicia LaRoche, Juliann Lawson, Madison Machaffie, Thomas Martin, Catherine McAllister, Eleanor McPartland, Jamie-Lee Meintjes, Sophia Mele, Troy Michalak, Livia Morales, Teague Murphy, Lukas Nordstrom, Derek Paris, Krishan Rai, Tashi Rai, Sarah Reynolds, Jamie Rhinemiller, Lily Rorke, Emma Sandstrom, Anna Schoorlemmer, Piper Schulman, Alayna Schwarzer, Mackenzie Sheehy, Ava Simon, Christian Sullivan, Katherine Swann, Alexis Toomey, Lauren Voorhies, Rona Wang, Anthony Welch, Malina Woodbury.
Ainsley Abel, Bryn Angelini, Annabelle Art, Matilda Asch, Seamus Barnes, Elizabeth Bertolino, Matthew Bertolino, Henrik Bingemann, Elena Caplinger, Matteo Chang, Hannah Chase, Antoinette Dykes, Cailean Fippinger, Lainey Gill, Emma Gilooly, Emma Gray, Arthur Greenfield, Eamon Hetherington, Ezra Holzapfel, Lucy Igoe, Lily Jayko, Seth Lillie, Clarissa Louis, Elliot Louis, Isabella Mangano, Will Marsh, Emma Mathews, Patrick McConnell, Altan McIntosh, Emma Newberry, Liam O'Keefe, Zenalyssa Packer, Beatrice Pedroni, Sarah Polumbo, Christiane Rech, Juliet Robinson, Ernani Rosse, Andres Sanchez, Foster Savitsky, Noah Shin, Jennah Simpson, Kiersten Simpson, Jane Skavlem, Euphemia Skinner, Elizabeth Smith, Amelia Soler-Sala, Molly Sullivan, Rose Sutter, Samuel Tucker-Smith, Elissa Wong.
Marlee Alpi, Ava Anagnos, Lex Anagnos, Thomas Art, Jude Bakija, Phoebe Barnes, Jude Barzousky, Liam Berryman, Mirabel Boyer, Jacqueline Brannan, Emma Brennan, Finnegan Carothers, Lily Catelotti, Sylvie Clowes, Lila Cohen-McFall, Angie Colandria, Makaylah Conrado, Julia DeChaine, Benjamin Dingman, Karlie Dowling, Noelle Dravis, Emily Dupuis, Isabella Garivaltis, Beatrice Garvey, Annabelle Gitterman, Julia Goh, Anabel Gonzales, Louis Gotlieb, Che Guerra, Emma Hane, Mia Harding, Phoebe Hughes, Jason Jaros, Talia Kapiloff, Faith Karl, Erin Keating, Ryan Keating, Jenner Kittle, Luka Lash-St. John, Svea-Marie Lawson, Cedric Lemaire, Caleb Low, Cecilia Malone, Grace Malone, Judge Martin, Lily McDermott, Quinn McDermott, Lucy McWeeny, Emily Mole, John Morales, George Munemo, Maggie Nichols, Emily Ouellette, Damon Pause, Gianna Pesce, Owen Petropulos, Alexa Politis, Quinlan Repetto, Declan Rogers, Celina Savage, Mason Sayers, Abigail Scialabba, Iris Semon Pike, Echo Simonetta-Trombley, Jasmine Skorupski, Parker Smith, Oliver Swabey, Jamie Sweren, Celia Szczepaniak, Macy Tidmarsh, Mitchell Waynick, Vincent Welch, Marcus Whalen-Loux, Grace Winters.
Hope Abriel, MacKenzie Alcaro, Emily Alvarez, Marshall Baya, Jameson Bayliss, Jayne Beringer, Oliver Bingemann, Caelan Briggs, Claire Burrow, Miguel Camacho, Aleksei Chang, Nicholas Clairmont, Charlotte Coody, Olivia Cook, Ava Costa, Kaitlyn Dawson, Vera de Jong, Zoe Dupee, Brett Dupuis, Kaeya Durley, Mia Filiault, Ian Fredette, Soleigha Girard, Jacob Gladu, Katherine Goss, Brodie Hayden, Gavin Hetherington, Chase Hoey, Charlotte Holubar, William Igoe, Jaclynn Kastrinakis, Caliegh Kiernan, Noah Klompus, Malia Koffi, Connor Laliberte, Solana Lash-St. John, Eve LeBarron, Kelsey MacHaffie, Johnathan Mejias, Rafael Mellow-Bartels, Cameron Miller, Arthur Millet, Jake Newberry, Liam Noyes, Mai O'Connor, Natalia Palestino, Mia Patrick, Natalie Pesce, Jackson Powell, Erik Powell-Bechtel, Polly Rhie, Elias Robinson, Killian Scanlon, Katherine Shelsy, Simon Shin, Alec Sills, Ezekiel Singer, Christina Slick, Knowl Stroud, Kylie Sweren, Owen Taylor, Dylan Turner, Anna Wang, Cole Wetherell, Cael Whaley.
The board responded to letters signed by more than two dozen residents and the comments of five residents who attended Monday's meeting, including the father of the child who was struck this Oct. 31.
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On Tuesday, voters will choose either David Moresi or Gerard Smith for an 18-month term on the Prudential Committee, which governs the town's fire district. Richard Reynolds and Bruce MacDonald are the two candidates for a 30-month seat on the committee.
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Last week, the Boston Globe reported that U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has subpoenaed records in at least six communities, including Great Barrington, the home of Berkshire County's first pot shop opened since recreational marijuana was legalized in the commonwealth.
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