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Deborah Moran, left, and Maria Ziemba speak with members of the Maple Grove Civic Club on Sunday.

North Berkshire Registry Candidates Tout Experience, Future Plans

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Deborah Moran has been first assistant register for two years. 
ADAMS, Mass. — The bitter district attorney race has been dominating headlines but another race important to Northern Berkshire has been flying under the radar: register of deeds.
 
Two experienced and longtime employees in the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds are hoping to succeed Frances Brooks, who is retiring after 56 years, 14 of those as register. 
 
Deborah Moran, first assistant register, and Maria Ziemba, a clerk, touted their experience and future plans for the office to nearly three dozen Maple Grove Civic Club members on Sunday at the PNA.  
 
Moran has worked in the office for 26 years and was appointed first assistant two years ago by Secretary William Galvin and Brooks. Prior to that, she worked in several real estate law firms. She's ready to lead registry in completing some of the projects she's been working on and others she wants to see through.
 
"I really have a genuine concern for the records and to serve the public ethically," Moran said.
 
The documents on file at the registry date back the 1700s and Moran said preserving these records and making them available online is a major priority for her. She's also been working on gathering assessors maps from the towns the registry serves to make those available as well. 
 
"In the past year, we put all the surveys and recorded land and registered land records all on microfilm and CD," she said, which are backed up in Boston. If elected, Moran would also like to see the website updated to provide more information and be more user-friendly. 
 
She said she's also developed a good rapport with the secretary of state's office over the years. 
 
In addition to digital archiving and preservation, Moran also wants to modernize the registry's setting in the 135-year-old old town hall building on Park Street. 
 
"We've had furniture in there from the '50s," she said. "Working closing with the commonwealth, I have obtained funding out of our technology fund [to purchase new furniture]."
 
Five dollars is set aside from fees for recording documents to go into a technology fund that is available to registries across the state. 
 
"I want to make sure going forward your money is put to good use in the office," Moran said. Handicapped accessibility is also "first and foremost" on her to-do should she be elected. 
 
"It's something that's very passionate to me and most recently, really recently, I've seen people almost fall down the stairs because they have a cane or walker," she said. "It's ridiculous."
 
Moran has been in conversation with interim Town Administrator Donna Cesan about renovating the front entrance to make it safer and gain grant money to make the changes. 
 
"I have the passion for the job and I worked my way up over 26 years," she told the club members. "I enjoy doing the job; how many people can say they enjoy their job? I'll be hands-on, dependable, accountable and experienced.
 
"I would hope you would make the right decision on Nov. 6."
 

Maria Ziemba has worked in the office for 21 years. 
Ziemba has worked at the registry for 21 years. She has a law degree from Bay Path University and experience as a real estate paralegal that gave her a "jump-start" to what she needed to know at the registry.
 
"I'm running because I feel I am qualified," she said. "I have the experience, I have the enthusiasm and I have a long time ahead of me."
 
Ziemba said she handled the digital archiving of the surveys in the office and she did a complete inventory of the film stored for years in Rhode Island.
 
"It took me a couple days to do that and transfer it to a local facility out here in Holyoke ... where it was looked at to ensure it had all been preserved all those years," she said. "That's a great way our records are backed up."
 
Ziemba also said record keeping and access to the land records is a daily priority and that, if elected, she would continue efforts to digitize documents that only go back online to 1956. 
 
"We want to go back as far as we can. That's a daily tedious project, one document at a time, one book at a time but it has to be done," she said. With the office somewhat shorthanded, she would look to cross-train employees. 
 
Ziemba also pointed to her experience with working with state vendors to do all the office's materials and services ordering. 
 
"I still believe though that there are things that need to be changed," she said. "The internal structure of the office when you walk in that front door is confusing to people who've never been there ... we need to figure out a way to make it a more welcoming environment."
 
She also would develop deeper relationships with related offices to ensure that residents and officials coming into the registry are better served. 
 
"I believe that the office should not be just sustained. I believe it can be a more viable structure," she said. "We should be able to create bonds with agencies we work with on a daily basis. ... If we don't have what you're looking for we should be able to move you to who does."
 
While registries are nominally supposed to conform, they tend to beat their own drum, she said, and should the state begin considering consolidation, the Adams office should stand out. 
 
"I want the Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds to always be a cut above the rest ... so that they look at us like we offer more than what most do," Ziemba said. "I also have a passion, I have the knowledge, the experience, the enthusiasm and I have a long way to go ...
 
"I appreciate any support you offer."
 
The Northern Berkshire Registry of Deeds serves Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, North Adams, Savoy, Williamstown and Windsor. 
 
Ziemba will appear on the ballot on Nov. 6 as a Democrat while Moran as unenrolled. The office is elected but has not tended to be particularly political in recent years.
 
The Maple Grove Civic Club meets monthly except during the summer. It is open to residents of Adams and surrounding communities interested in civic issues. 
 

Tags: candidate forum,   election 2018,   Maple Grove Civic Club,   registry,   


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Adams Will Hire New DPW Director Next Week

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — The director of public works job will remain vacant for at least another week as the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday decided to ask two of the candidates back for another round of interviews. 
 
The position has been unfilled for the better part of two years after David Nuvaille retired in 2017 2018.
 
Town Administrator Jay Green feels the time without a director might have given the town the chance to re-evaluate how the position is defined and what the town is looking for.
 
"Without a DPW director, we have been functioning and getting the essentials done. I don't want to hire someone just for the sake of filling the position," he said. "We are working with a very reactive mindset right now though. A pothole pops up we fill it. A structure we hear is falling apart we fix it. We haven't had the capacity or the skill set with someone who can look ahead. We need to introduce someone into the mix who can say, 'Let's look at next year and year two.' Let the operations supervisor run the day to day. That's been going well."
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