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Senior Center members express concerns over funding, use and the lack of a director.

Clarksburg Senior Center Members Want Assurances

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Town officials assure Senior Center members that any outside uses of the center would be around their schedule. 
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — The Select Board is assuring the users of the Senior Center that any proposals to rent out the center won't affect their programs. 
"We talked about ways to raise money for the town," explained Chairman Ronald Boucher. "What we want to look at is the possibility of renting the building out as a way to raise funds."
Eight of the regulars at the Senior Center attended last Wednesday's meeting to express their concerns over leasing the space, cleanup responsibilities, grant funding for its operation and the lack of a director. 
The center has seen a drop in members over the years but still draws in about 45 people for bingo twice a month; it's also used by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which began using the space after selling its post home, and the North County Seniors. The longtime director, Lily Kuzia, also retired from the position the last couple years.
"In the last three years, we've lost a lot of members," said Jane Cook. If the building was rented, who would clean up after events, she asked. "These ladies that do the cleaning are all in their 90s." 
Shirley Therrien said the members haven't been getting a statement on how much they have left in the grant.
"Last year, the town nicely put in the application but then we got a call from Boston that they put in the application but didn't put in a budget," said Kuzia. "I did the budget for last year ... for the application and the grant."
Town Administrator Carl McKinney assured the group that there was money in the Council on Aging account. The center should be getting a document every month showing what was in the account and if there was a question, they could contact the treasurer. 
Another round of funding will be available when the new fiscal year begins on July 1, he continued, and if the center was rented, it would be up to the leaser to clean up. However, he said grant applications, budgeting and scheduling had been done by the COA director. 
"Those are the challenges we're facing right now," he said. "We need a director. There are things that need to be done ...
"We're $1,000 under our levy limit ... we can't afford to hire another person."
Town officials said they were looking for ways to generate revenue from the Senior Center and provide some direction.
"It really would be a shame to lose it without the funds to maintain it," said Select Board member Karin Robert. "There has to be a happy medium. I would hope that the folks who started it and kept it for so long would set the schedule for events and functions and everyone would work around it." 
Boucher agreed: "This board is here to support you guys and we'll make sure you have what you need."
In other business, approved a proposal to turn 24-26 Carson Ave. into a single-family dwelling, subject to the building inspector signing off on it. 
The board also approved an updated fee schedule for marijuana facilities that McKinney said was in line with other communities. The fee structure is $250 for application; $100 for zoning compliance certificate; $200 for a security review by the police; $200 annual Board of Health fee; $35 annual business registration; and a host community agreement to be negotiated with the town. 
• The board voted to go into executive session to discuss litigation related to the town's rejection of the siting of a Verizon cell tower.

Tags: COA,   senior center,   

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Clarksburg Officials Still Hoping for School Roof Money

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Town officials are still hoping to get funding to fix the roof at Clarksburg School. 
Chairman Ronald Boucher and Select Board member Danielle Luchi voted Wednesday night to send a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito requesting the visit the school to see the work being accomplished there. 
"I think they really need to see it firsthand," said Boucher. "I know Patrick Carnevale (director of the governor's Western Massachusetts office) came out and did his thing, but it's — he's not the person that you need to see this."
The town has been advocating for the governor's office to release an earmark for $500,000 that state Sen. Adam Hinds had placed in a capital spending bill nearly two years ago. The executive office has been reluctant to invest in the school since the town decisively defeated a $19 million addition and renovation project. The Massachusetts School Building Authority and the state Department of Education had determined that the 60-year-old structure does not meet contemporary educational needs.
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