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Williamstown Fire District Holds Annual Meeting Tuesday

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The fire district will ask voters on Tuesday to fund a study of the district’s current and future needs.
Included on the warrant for the annual district meeting is an article requesting permission to spend up to $25,000 for the study.
“We’re going to go out and do [a request for proposals] for an analysis of the current fire department, what it looks like down the road, what we’re going to need and so forth,” explained John Notsley, the chairman of the Prudential Committee, which runs the district.
The Williamstown Fire District is a separate entity from town government and that has its own taxing authority. That is why, unlike every other municipal entity, its budget was not considered at last week’s annual town meeting.
And that is why Tuesday’s 8 p.m. annual meeting in the Williamstown Elementary School cafeteria will be preceded by a district election from 6 to 8 p.m.
Notsley said the Prudential Committee wants to follow in the footsteps of the former Village Ambulance Service, which hired a consultant to help evaluate its needs before ultimately deciding to merge with neighboring North Adams Ambulance Service.
No one is suggesting the fire district’s study will lead it down a remotely similar path, but the district has other long-term plans that could be informed by a third-party analysis.
“We’ll look at the [National Fire Protection Association] and what they recommend as far as equipment for a town this size,” Notsley said. “The study will probably be one more thing we can point to when we get around to going for the new station a year from now or whenever.”
Speaking of the station, the land which voters last October authorized the district to purchase finally belongs to the district as of a couple of weeks ago, Notsley said.
After completing the long closing process to secure the 3.7-acre Main Street parcel, the Prudential Committee plans to talk with the town’s Planning Board and Conservation Commission about first steps for rehabbing the property, Notsley said.
“We want to clean up the site so it isn’t as unsightly as it is now, but we don’t want to infringe on the 100-year floodplain or something like that,” he said.
Other than the warrant article to pay for a needs analysis, the district’s fiscal year 2019 budget is within a few thousand dollars of the FY18 spending plan, Notsley said. The budget does include a higher hourly rate for the district’s call-volunteer firefighters, as the Prudential Committee discussed at its March meeting.
Notsley had proposed the increase from $16.80 to $19 per hour in hopes that the district might address its manpower needs by making service in the fire department more attractive.
“Number one, they deserve it," Notsley said at the March meeting. "Number two, it may open an avenue for some other individuals in town to decide they'd like a second job or a part-time position, and we might be able to snag some more working bodies for the district and the town.”
The firefighters’ hourly compensation was last changed in FY17.
Prudential Committee member Ed McGowan, one of three members of the body, will be up for re-election on Tuesday evening. He is running unopposed.
The district also will elect a new clerk-treasurer. Corydon Thurston recently had to step down from the post for personal reasons, though he hopes to continue serving the district and could return to the clerk-treasurer post at some point in the future, Notsley said.
Gary Fuls is running for the spot on Tuesday. Long-term, Notsley said the Prudential Committee is considering recommending a change that would split the post into two separate positions with the treasurer post changed to an appointed position.
“The feeling is that in other places in the state -- and thank God we haven’t run into it in this area -- someone has run for treasurer with no experience, and then you have to deal with inefficiencies,” Notsley said. “It’s getting so darn complex because of the new regulations and so forth.”
The treasurer position in the district could become even more complex if and when voters approve financing for a new station. Notsley said the Prudential Committee does not have a firm timeline for bringing such a request to the voters.
“We’re not pushing this,” he said. “It’s kind of taking a backseat because we wanted to make sure the police department thing got through.”
Voters last Tuesday at the annual town meeting approved borrowing up to $5 million to build a new police station on Simonds Road.

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Williams College Announces Tenure for Eight Faculty Members

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Board of Trustees of Williams College voted to promote eight faculty to the position of associate professor with tenure.

Promotions will take effect July 1, 2021, for Jeremy Cone, psychology; Christine DeLucia, history; Matthew Gibson, economics; Lama Nassif, comparative literature; Christina Simko, sociology; Owen Thompson, economics; Emily Vasiliauskas, English; and Zachary Wadsworth, music.

Jeremy Cone, psychology

Cone is a social psychologist whose research explores how attitudes are formed unconsciously. His research has demonstrated that these implicit evaluations are far less indelible than was once believed, challenging conventional thinking in this field. He has published widely in top journals, such as Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Psychological Science and the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, including a number of works co-authored with his students. He has given talks and presentations in the U.S. and abroad, and he was interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition, where he spoke about the nature of gossip and its connection to believability and its role in implicit impression revision. Cone earned his Ph.D. from Cornell University. Before joining the faculty at Williams, he was a post-doctoral associate at Yale University. He currently serves on the Faculty Steering Committee.

Christine DeLucia, history

DeLucia's areas of interest include early American history, Native American and Indigenous Studies, and material culture. Her first book, Memory Lands: King Philip's War and the Place of Violence in the Northeast (Yale University Press, 2018), received the New England American Studies Association's Lois P. Rudnick Book Prize and the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians book award, among others. She has published widely in top journals, including the Journal of American History, William and Mary Quarterly, Early American Studies, Los Angeles Review of Books. She recently held a fellowship at the Newberry Library in Chicago to work on her second book, a study of Native American, African American, and colonial relationships in the Northeast in the period before, during, and after the American Revolution. DeLucia earned her Ph.D. from Yale University. Before coming to Williams, she taught at Mount Holyoke College. At Williams, she has taught the seminars From Wampum to Phillis Wheatley: Communications in Early America and The Afterlives of Objects: Telling American Histories through Material Culture and Museums. She currently serves on the Committee on Diversity and Community.

Matthew Gibson, economics

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